all of the selves we Have ever been
You might have guessed by now.
I got a new calendar for 2021. I never knew there were so many holidays. There seems to be a special occasion every day of the year. If it weren’t for all of the COVID-19 restrictions, life would be nothing but party, party, party.
The month of March is Women’s History Month, yesterday was International Women’s Day, a day to celebrate the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. Sounds auspicious, but I didn’t hear much about it. Instead, the news was filled with stories about women being sexually harassed in the work place by the governor of New York. The top story was Meghan Markle’s depressed mental state while serving as a royal duchess. Lawyers were appointed to investigate the Cuomo allegations and Markle left The Firm. Buried in the back pages was a blurb about the two million American women that departed the work force due to the changes wrought by the pandemic. I guess all of that news put a damper on the International Women’s Day festivities.
Looking ahead on my calendar for a better day, I notice that International Women’s Day is one week before National Napping Day that occurs on March 15th this year. Is that merely a coincidence? I think not. After all of those hard won and lost achievements, women are tired. A nap is in order, but why is napping only given a day and not a month? Why not an entire year? And why isn’t the holiday international?
After further research, I discover that National Napping Day is a day to raise awareness of the positive benefits of napping and to catch up on that lost hour of sleep due to “springing forward” for Daylight Savings Time. A holiday inaugurated by a lost hour of sleep? For real? Women are so chronically sleep deprived that the only springing forward left in them is to lunge for the throat of the next person who says women running households “don’t work.”
I swallow the lump it my own throat, it is my beef with the women’s movement, a movement that elevated everything that men do– opportunities that come with a pay check, but it did nothing to elevate what it is that women do. Why can’t it work both ways?
The world has long ignored the contributions of women, especially their contributions in the home—the numerous social welfare functions provided by women for free: watchful eyes in the neighborhood that add to public safety, the socialization and discipline of children, education, homework help, before and after school care, health checks and medication dispensing, meals, summer programs, transportation, help for elderly and ill neighbors and extended family members, orderly homes, healthy meals, intimacy and social connection...Those burdens have been passed along to schools, social service organizations, and government. Many of the services continue to be provided largely by an underclass of “working” women for whom we show our regard through substandard wages.
Ironically, it is women in the home who add to the life expectancy of men. Studies show that married men live longer than their unmarried counterparts. The same does not hold true for women. Why? Because it is women who remind their husbands to take their medicine and go to the doctor, to eat right, and get some exercise. Men call that nagging. The nagging wife has become the derogatory social stereotype for smart women. But science doesn’t call it nagging. Science calls it conscientiousness. The conscientious live longer, even if vicariously. Unfortunately, for women, due to lower wages throughout life, the ladies live longer but too many end their lives in poverty.
Women are expected to be virtuous, not acknowledged or compensated. The symbols of virtue, all of virtue’s heavy-hitters, are women. Lady Justice tramples the snakes and does it blindfolded for not a single billable hour. Lady Liberty stands on her feet night and day for hundreds of years holding a lamp beside the golden door. She gets a crown and a good view, but no one wants to admit that what she does is hard work. Instead, all folks can do is complain about the people she lets in. And poor Mother Earth—she’s having hot flashes and begging for someone to turn down the heat, but can she get an ounce of cooperation? Perhaps Edna St. Vincent Millay was right: “It's not true that life is one damn thing after another; it's one damn thing over and over.”
Giving birth to civilization has taken a lot out of women even if none of the effort was considered “work.” Taming the flames and keeping the home fires burning is what women do. Even if unrecognized and unpaid, it is not without value. So, if the International Women’s Day festivities were a bust in your house too, grab your superhero cape, claim your worth and your place on the couch. Monday, March 15th is National Napping Day. This one’s for you, tired sisters.
Start the presses and spread the news!
There is still time to shop.
It is National Oreo Cookie Day.
If ever a cookie deserved its own holiday, it is the Oreo. I don’t even mind if the government halts mail delivery.
Oreo is the signature product of the National Biscuit Company, the food manufacturing giant better known as Nabisco. The cream-filled cookie also made Hoboken, New Jersey famous for something other than its view of Manhattan. A grocer in Hoboken was the first to sell the treats in cans for twenty-five cents a pound. No one knows where the name Oreo came from; perhaps it is O for the O-shaped cookie, or O for the “Ohs!” uttered by the tasters in Nabisco’s test kitchens.
I once thought the Hydrox cookie was a sad wannabee, the second born, a disappointing substitute, but it turns out Hydrox was the first chocolate sandwich cookie of that type on the market. Hydrox made its debut in 1908, four years before Oreo’s introduction in 1912. The Oreo has been the best-selling cookie ever since. Sorry, Hydrox, nice try, and a good idea…but the name Hydrox sounds more like an antiseptic, and the taste, compared to an Oreo, well…a lot like the taste following oral surgery.
The Oreo has stayed strong through two world wars, a great depression, and a bazillion weight loss trends. The beloved cookie now comes in double-stuffed, thins, minis, Neapolitan, and Mega Stuff. As of 2019,
450 billion Oreos were sold worldwide. Add the consumption during the COVID pandemic year, and I am sure sales have easily climbed to 1.9 trillion.
The National Biscuit Company was granted a trademark for the Oreo on March 14, 1912. National Oreo Cookie Day is celebrated on March 6th because that is the day Nabisco made its application for the trademark. That makes two miracles for the Oreo—the greatest cookie of all time and the fastest turnaround by a government office in history.
The product’s tag line is “Milk’s favorite cookie.” Sure, there are a lot of dunkers out there, but there are many ways to eat an Oreo. The best known strategy is for “a kid to eat the middle of an Oreo first and save the chocolate cookie outside for last.” The process is important. Lifting or prying the cookie apart is much less effective than the gentle twist that leaves the creamy layer intact to be scraped off by the eater’s two front teeth.
Oreo fanatics have expanded the brand. Oreos are now a staple like flour or sugar. Oreos appear in recipes for pie crusts, pies, cakes, ice cream, milkshakes, candy bars, and are even coated and deep fried at county fairs. Oreos are a snack, a dessert, a special treat, and paired with milk, they are practically a health food.
The standard package notes that a serving size is three cookies with twelve servings in a pack. Really? Who can eat just three? I suspect that an entire row is more typical. Three Oreos? That just wets the appetite because Oreos are as addictive as cocaine. They are the preferred party drug of the tea party crowd.
Decades ago, I experienced an Oreo overdose. My mother had gone to the hospital to deliver a baby—my brother or sister? I can’t remember because the real event was the Oreo tea party authorized by our father to keep my older sister and me out of his hair. Mary and I each consumed far more than the suggested serving of three Oreos. For dessert, we topped off our tea party meal with the Oreo’s favorite cousin, a bag of M&Ms. When it was time to retire for the night, my sister and I climbed into our bunk beds that were covered with matching white chenille Sleeping Beauty bedspreads. Initially, our stomachs gurgled just a bit, but before we could fall asleep, our guts erupted like Mount Vesuvius. Eventually, we slept well. The nightmare came for our mother who returned home with a new baby and plenty of laundry to do. The entire episode was easily forgotten by me and my sister. It may have contributed to our parents' later divorce, but Mary and I never fell out of love with Oreo cookies or tea parties.
Oreos have been around a long time. Even their current design has remained unchanged since 1952, longer than I’ve been alive. I like things that stand up to the test of time and remain sweet no matter how many times we encounter them.
I feel a tea party coming on. Hold the M&Ms.
I’ve joined a resistance movement.
It has nothing to do with politics or espionage. We won’t be storming capitol buildings, carrying protest signs, recovering from nerve gas, or contacting our supporters from prison. Though there are a lot of us in the movement, we don’t stage large group protests or carry out subterfuge under the cover of darkness. We go to bed way too early for that.
On the surface, this seems like a benign movement because it is primarily championed by older adults and preschoolers, two groups often subject to condescension. “Keep things simple” is the group’s philosophy. Each group member is committed to doing only one thing at a time in a won’t-be-rushed fashion. The membership has adopted “I did it my way” as its motto. Under duress, we are known to collapse to the floor and refuse to move.
Volumes have been written about how to break this type of resistance. There are several fields devoted to curbing the anarchy, and the self-help industry has grown rich pumping out books and motivational speakers to make us all highly effective and more productive while squashing the aforementioned instincts of the resistance movement.
I admit it—I bought into all of the official literature, the self-help books, and the chorus of influencers. When my children were young (and I was much younger too), doing many things at once was the rule. For example, a typical after work, after school, after sports games and practices, and after after-school orthodontist appointments, a relaxing evening routine might begin with laundry. While the dirty clothes agitated in the washing machine, clean clothes tumbled in the dryer. With one ear listening for the timer in order to transfer the loads and fold the dry stuff, I prepared dinner and packed lunches for the next day. The children sat nearby at the kitchen table where I helped them with homework. I checked the mail on the kitchen counter and emptied the dishwasher in preparation for the after-dinner dishes. I listened to the messages on the telephone answering machine and made to-do lists for the coming tomorrows. Watching the clock, I organized the rest of the evening’s tasks so that everything fell into place by bedtime—baths taken, school clothes ironed, sports gear packed, permission slips signed, appointments made. Check. Check. Check.
But that was a long time ago. Now, I am tired. I don’t want to do five hundred things at once. The rhythm of my new life? One thing at a time. Right now the laundry is tumbling in the dryer, and I am okay with just waiting for it to finish before I begin a new task. That nagging voice still taunts me with whispers of all of the things I could be doing while I wait for the dryer to complete its cycle, all the ways I could be more effective, but…I resist. Sure, I could be putting the big rocks in my jar and filling in the spaces of my executive planner, but I’d rather shake the rocks out of my head and relax, maybe do a little coloring. My goal is to have no goals, just wait and see what happens next.
There is a lot to be learned from young children about what’s important. And they know the shortcuts for getting there. Little children are labeled ego-centric and older adults described as “set in their ways.” I guess the old and the very young have a lot in common. They are the tireless advocates and we are the tired ones; together, we are in cahoots and up to no good. The shared resistance must be the real reason older folks make such wonderful grandparents.