I like my men tough and my women strong

Swan Kick by FlyingMouse 365

When I think of an ideal role model for my daughter, my goddaughter, Friend’s daughter, and me, I tend to think of a few specific attributes.

  • Intelligence. Knowledge is power, after all. And I’m not referring simply to a natural state of intelligence, I’m thinking of one who hungers for information always.
  • Excellent communication skills. She can explain complex theories in ways that are perfectly easy to grasp. She can convince you easily, smoothly. She can mediate. She can make peace. She can state her piece clearly, concisely.
  • Independence. She’s a free-thinking individual who doesn’t blindly follow the herd. Sometimes she takes the well-worn road, but she’ll forge her own path if she has to. The people she loves and brings into her life are there by her choosing and invitation and are not there because of fear, insecurity, or because everyone else has someone in their lives.
  • Hard-working. It doesn’t matter what the work is, when it’s time to get to it she does it. She puts her best effort, full concentration, and complete passion into the things that are meaningful in her life.
  • Confidence. She doesn’t look to others for approval because she doesn’t need it. She might raid your brain for some ideas or input or perspective but she makes up her own mind. She screws up, admits it, learns, and moves on. She knows she can handle “this” and this is everything.

If you ask me, any woman who has ever made a positive mark on history has possessed these qualities. If you want to be an effective woman and create change in your world, these qualities must be in your possession. These are the traits of a strong woman. This is what you will find in common among all women of significance on all levels– from a local environmental activist to an international advocate for women’s rights to a CEO of a multimillion dollar corporation.

Do you know what you may not find among the truly amazing women in our world?

Leather wardrobes, a penchant for armor and horseback riding, abilities to hot-wire a car or even change a tire much less the oil, guns, motorcycles, and other indicators of “toughness” Peg Aloi clamors for in her piece at Huffington, Tough Gals: Do They Still Exist?. Heck, I bet among the truly amazing, strong women in the world you may not always find even a pantsuit.

The strong women of today aren’t any less so than the women of yesterday because they may or may not own a Hello Kitty bra. Aloi bemoans the current fascination with all things girly, touting this as an indication we’ve gone as soft as a handknit cashmere scarf.

What happened to our hard-won bad-assery? All those years of being suffragettes, bra-burners, free love artists, corporate queen bees, supermoms and women-who-wanted-and-got-it all? I mean, hadn’t we arrived and become a force to be reckoned with? […] Maybe “having it all” was a silly fantasy that ultimately made women feel exhausted and inferior. Maybe we just wanted to sit on our asses and knit and eat cupcakes in our Hello Kitty jammies.

And now that so many women have seemingly retreated from our reign of awesomeness to immerse themselves in the feminine past-times of yesteryear, it does indeed appear that we’ve lost sight of what it means to be a badass, strong, tough woman.

Oh dear, Peg (can I call you Peggy? It’s so much cuter). It appears you have it all wrong. And you are so misguided in your judgment I can’t help but wonder– are you a member of the patriarchy in feminist clothing?

Here is a quick description of Peg’s longed for tough gals:

There are tough times ahead, and we need to be tough bitches to face them. Growing vegetables is useful; but so is learning how to shoot a gun, hot-wire a car, and manipulate our way into a bomb shelter. Remember our tough gal role models? They were strong, sexy, and took no crap. They wore leather and sang rock and roll.

Here’s what bothers me about that whole description she’s got going on there– those chicks sound a lot like… men. She even goes on to specifically mention the likes of Grace Jones who worked hard to look like… a man. And really? Courtney Love? As much as I love her music, I’d rather not hold her up on a pedestal as a kind of woman to aspire to.

I will not take away what the stereotypical tough gals do for the feminist cause. Specifically, they show men they’re not as precious as they think themselves they are. These women show them we can do a lot of the stuff they claim for themselves. Heck, they even show women can even look like men. These are the “Anything you can do, I can do better” variety and they have their place in the movement.

The problem is, as a feminist I demand equal rights for men and women. There’s no clause attached to that statement. See, I don’t want equal rights for men and women who emulate men.

As a matter of fact, I will go on to argue this type of op-ed piece is extremely damaging to the feminist movement. Here’s why.

This piece concedes the domestic, “ultra-femme” arts are sub-par to the more masculine arts of the gun-toting, hot-wiring variety. This piece is basically admitting a realization that women and the things they are often associated with are less important and less desirable. This is extremely dangerous and damaging thinking.

It is in the same vein as declaring a teacher to be of a lesser class than a police officer. They’re both civil servants. They’re both employed to better the public. But being a teacher, in this context, is definitely not as awesome as being a police officer.

Peg claims shooting a gun to be as useful as gardening. At the same time, she’s pretty horrified by cupcakes. Funny enough, the first woman to come to mind when you talk to me about shooting guns is Sarah Palin while the first woman who comes to mind when you talk to me about cupcakes (and every domestic art) is Martha Stewart.

I’m pretty sure most people would concede Martha’s at least as tough as Sarah. I mean, Martha even served time in jail. And they’re both often referred to by that b-word Peg’s so fond of. For me, the differences come down to their contributions– Martha’s got a huge multi-faceted corporation and Sarah’s… well I’m not going to go into Sarah right now but I don’t count her as a feminist that’s for sure.

Not to mention, this kind of ridiculous commentary takes away from some really amazing women that are accomplishing some really amazing things right now.

  • Let’s start with BUST magazine. BUST is a feminist magazine. One of its founders was Debbie Stoller— the knitting rock star of the world if you will. Peg’s pissed they’re having a craft fair. The thing is, BUST’s got it right– equal rights for women: even the ones who do womanly things.
  • What about Miesha Tate? She’s the Strikeforce MMA fighter with a championship belt. She often wears pigtails into the ring and has posed in some very sexy and feminine poses. She looks cute and girly as heck but she’ll choke your lights out– while wearing pink.
  • There’s also Misty Copeland. She does this super girly thing called ballet. And she’s amazing at it. Is that too girly? Even if she’s more muscular than Xena? I haven’t even mentioned she’s a rare African-American ballerina and is making waves in the call for further diversity in the ballet world.
  • Let’s also talk about Daina Taimina. Don’t know her? She’s a mathematician (so feminine, right?). Daina solved a problem mathematicians had been struggling with for centuries– how to make a model of a hyperbolic plane that you can physically manipulate without damaging. Until Daina came along, mathematicians had to rely on computer models and you can’t touch those. And a colleague of her came up with paper models but those were really delicate little things that you couldn’t stretch or smoosh or twist or toss or anything. Well Daina saw those paper models and figured out the solution– she crocheted a hyperbolic model.
  • Peg really likes fictional female characters. She provides more examples of characters in movies and TV than real-life women in her piece. Since she likes those fake women so much, I have another recommendation for an interesting woman– Alexia Tarabotti. She’s the main character in Gail Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate novels. Alexia is quite concerned with manners, pastries, and parasols but she also gets down and dirty with the likes of werewolves, vampires, ghosts, and other spooky things– all while keeping her hair as neat as possible, please.
  • Finally, there’s a whole segment of women that were recently in the news– female investors. Funny enough, Peg alludes to a particular “Wall Street ball-breaker in Working Girl” but what’s fascinating is the news that female investors have been more successful managing portfolios than men. Why? By being decidedly feminine in their investment strategies– i.e. risk-averse (and most likely not concerned with ball-breaking).

What is truly important to understand is the fight for equal rights for women is not a fight that requires masculinity or toughness. The fight for equal rights does not require blazing guns and fist fights. It doesn’t require armor. Honestly, it doesn’t even need these things and most women fighting for women’s rights don’t want to bring these things into the equation. And it’s not because we’re soft. It’s because we want our rights on our womanly, feminine terms.

As a matter of fact, if you ask me what a leader in the feminist movement should look like, I’d say I’d prefer one that looks decidedly feminine. We are women. There’s absolutely no shame in that. We don’t need to pretend. We don’t need to hide. I am woman, hear me roar– in my dress and stilettos.


Lazy Weekend Ahead

Mmmmmm it’s Friday. A long weekend-eve Friday. The day is so much nicer for that reason alone, isn’t it? Try and get under my skin. Ok wait, don’t try too hard.

Know what else makes this Friday wonderful? A giant weight has been lifted off my shoulders and is now ready to grace the shoulders of my Mommy! Yes ladies and gentlemen, I have finished The Shawl. Oh, sweet relief!! I actually finished it just this morning so I need to go home and weave in the various loose ends and then block it to its perfect beauty but the hard part is over and done with.This means, yes I do in fact have a FO Friday and it’s an awesome one.

It took me just under a month to finish this tiny thing but it’s oh so cute! Seriously, I just wasn’t thrilled about this project until I started binding off (the second time because I screwed up the first). I saw the girly little ruffle slowly emerging and I got seriously geeked. It’s just so cute and dainty and perfect for our insanely hot and humid weather.

Ok I know there’s dangly bits and it’s not blocked but you can see the cuteness right? I’m thinking of buying a beautiful pin for it too. I was thinking a wooden one would be gorgeous.

My older kids spent the night at my mom’s house last night as they have a four day weekend (lucky duckies). This morning was just me and Baby. What a difference. It keeps blowing my mind whenever I find myself with just one kid how freaking easy it is. Hell, this morning was so easy I even had time for a photo shoot.

WIP: This is the shawl that never ends…

This is the shawl that never ends. It goes on and on my friends. Some people (me) started knitting it not knowing what it was and now they’ll keep knitting it forever just because…

My very brief WIP Wednesday post. Yes, I’m still working on Mommy dearest’s way late for Mother’s Day shawl. I thought for sure I was kicking butt until right in the last section, it suddenly doubled the number of stitches in one row!

I was like “Whaaaaaaaaaaat!?!?” and the shawl was like “HAHA pwned!” and I cried a bit while trying not to get tears in the yarn.

For those of you coming over from Tami’s WIP Wednesdays: Welcome! Yarn is actually only a part of this blog of mine. You can read more content at my main page or check out the Top Posts in the sidebar that way —>

If you’d like to know more about me, you can check out my Re: Mutant Supermodel page.

For my “regulars”, I figured a “light” post would be welcomed by all after all the heavier stuff going on here lately. 😉

WIP Wednesday: The Mother’s Day that never ends

Of three planned Mother’s Day presents, two were finished and gifted on time– the Hi Five Towel and the Clapochet. I didn’t get one picture of either finished project. By the way, both recipients loved them. My mom wanted to steal my Aunt’s shawl I could tell. And my grandmother was excited about the towel matching her 1960’s bathroom. I might be able to snatch a photo of it in its new home in the case of the towel as I go there all of the time.

Aside from enjoying sharing these with fellow lovers of crafts, I actually really like seeing my projects on Ravelry because I’m encouraged by my progress. Also, it’s pretty easy to forget just how much you crochet in one year. Remember how I declared my intention to crochet eleven projects this year?

Ravelry says I’ve finished ten. That means this will be the eleventh project and my goal will be shattered to smithereens although not in as dramatic a fashion as the initial reading goal is getting.

Don’t look too hard now. The first section of “butterflies” “abstract lace”  towards the bottom is so embarassing. The color of the yarn isn’t exactly right either but it never is on these fancy devices is it?

This is a knitting project and it’s been a headache. I don’t know why but between Clapochet and this one, I’ve had major stitch count issues. I never thought I’d say this but after these projects, I’m seriously looking forward to something brainless and repetitive like the afghan I promised my Mom last Christmas…

I’m getting to the end of the shawl though. I’m about to commence row 73 of 82  and am in the sixth of seven sections plus the picot edging. It’s ok because I’m treating myself to Dreamfever: The Fever Series when it all gets to be too much (omg it’s so good- lots of sexiness in this one, heehee). And then it’s time to figure out when to purchase the yarn for the afghan because it hasn’t gone on sale at a great price in a very long time and that’s frustrating me incredibly much.

So there you have it, my WIP Wednesday project. What are you working on?

P.S. Unrelated to yarn, I saw this today and loved it– the swish of the skirt with the clomp of the boots. Hard to get an inconspicuous picture but I’m sure you get the idea.

Many Different Thoughts & 18/52: Wet

It’s been raining pretty aggressively here all night and all day. I think it’s beautiful when it’s so gray, misty, and muted outside. I’d rather be in bed but then again, I don’t have a window with this view in bed so you win some you lose some.

Did you notice the figurines? My daughter was here with me last Thursday and apparently she thought the little guys would much rather look out the window and enjoy that view than stare at my back all day. Smart girl.

Do you know what this is?

Pardon my French but there’s just no other way to describe that. She’s standing still in this shot because it’s the only way I could get any sort of clear shot. The rest of time I saw her she was out there pounding away at the pavement.

She’s not even tuned into a music player and I know there was not a single break in the rain this morning so this girl laced up and went out there in the pouring rain because she can and because she wanted to and because I needed to see something awesome like that this morning.

Don’t get me wrong, part of me wanted to hate her with her perfect body and blonde hair and youthful carefree life that allows for running in the rain but that was such a tiny part and it stood no chance against just how awesome I think she is really.

You know how the phrase, “You go, girl” got way overdone? Well this is the kind of situation that no other phrase more adequately describes. Girl power, indeed.

I’m trying a couple of things this month. I’m not necessarily challenging myself because I feel sort of beat up and need a break but my brain doesn’t do well when it has nothing to toy with.

I’m talking to my kids in Spanish all month. I didn’t make an announcement to them, I just stopped talking in English on Monday. I’m trying to make it exclusively in Spanish but it is really hard to do and sometimes completely ineffective.

Eldest has turned into a surprisingly accurate translator for Daughter who’s decided she doesn’t understand a lick of Spanish and believes the best approach to my current language of choice is a completely blank dumbfounded stare more suited to a thirteen year old who’s just heard you admit you have no clue who this Justin Bieber person is they keep going on about.

It seems Baby understands as much Spanish as English so that’s working ok. I figured I won’t press them to speak back to me in Spanish. What I’m hoping is that I can keep this going and that at the very least they absorb Spanish vocabulary, pronunciation, etc.

The next step would be that they sometimes respond to my Spanish with their own Spanish as an experiment (Do I have this right?) and then after that they respond to my Spanish with Spanish naturally.

Besides, I need to keep practicing my Spanish. My job requires a pretty high level of fluency and I don’t feel as comfortable as I’d like with my conversational Spanish.

Financially, I’m trying something else too. I’m sort of toying with a weekly budget but this is already turning into a challenge and I don’t know that I have the mental energy to stick to it.

I thought I had it pretty figured out this week until my son came home last night and informed me he needs a mouth guard and cup for his Karate tournament Saturday. The same tournament that had a $50 registration fee I just paid because it was budgeted for.

So, I’m not really sure it’s worth it to me to make the switch from what I had going and really the problem with the budget system I have in place isn’t my budget skills it’s the unpredictable income stream.

This month with the tax refund, it should be a bit more stable. Besides, that court-ordered income deduction will go into effect this month. It will, I know it. I believe in the system.

Oh, I had my annual check-up with my doctor yesterday. She’s changed my birth control to a more inexpensive option. I’m happy to be paying $45 less a month but not thrilled I’ll be back on daily pills. She’s urging me to explore the possibility of an IUD. She thinks I’m an excellent candidate for it if the insurance covers it at a reasonable rate.

Other than that, the doctor thinks everything’s good. She says, even though I disagree, my weight is perfectly fine where it is. She does want me to drink more water and milk. She let me know women store calcium until the age of 35 so I’ve got a few years left and she wants me to make the most of them. She’s asked me to aim for about 1500mg of calcium a day.

I took a deep breath with the craft projects I’m working on and decided to stop stressing the stupid deadline and just enjoy working on them. I haven’t picked up the knitting one since I started the crochet one, but I’ll be getting back to it soon enough.

Tomorrow I’ll have to take a break to go and do a merchandising job. I signed up with a company to do merchandising and mystery shops. I like it because the jobs are quick and relatively easy. They get me out of the house and out of my routines. I try and do them when I don’t have the kids but this one was way too good to pass up and gives me the opportunity to earn up to $30 every two weeks to the end of June. They cut my first check for last month for $40 and they’re still pending a couple of assignments.

It might sound really small and meaningless to you but it’s $40 I didn’t have before. The more work I take on for them, the more often they call me for assignments with bonuses on them and such things. If I averaged $40 a month from them, that’s almost $500 at the end of the year which would be a nice thing to throw at debt, don’t you think?

Oh, there’s one more financial change I’m making this month but this one has to wait until the very end to happen. On payday, I’m going to open one more account with ING. This will be my Wants fund and 5% of any money I’ve managed to save up will go into that account. The rest will be used as a debt snowball as I am confident the child support issue will at least stabilize this month, one way or another.

Ideally, the court-ordered income deduction goes into effect but at the very least, he’ll pay what he paid last month. Although it’s not the full amount, it’s more than I’ve gotten for many months now and it helps cover the essentials.

I figure if I reward myself with 5% of my savings, it could motivate me to keep expenses low and put off the little things for something larger. Plus it gives me an outlet to enjoy the money. I can use that Wants fund for anything from haircuts to a family trip to books to new clothes to a really nice birthday dinner. Last month, it would’ve only been $4.55 but I’ve had some months with great success, especially when I was receiving child support and not having the burden of kiddie expenses on me and me alone. It would’ve been nice to have a piece of my hard work for something “indulgent”. And budgeting, saving money, and tracking expenses is hard work.

By the way, here’s some cute Budgeting humor from last Sunday’s paper. I love the comics section and always want to share at least one piece with everyone I know.

One more thing I’m doing this month is taking on household projects in very small bites. I’m telling you, I feel sort of bowled over with a bit of depression and you can tell when you walk into my house. This is always a problem for me because the worse it gets, the less happy I get and the less happy I get, the less I want to do anything which leads to a further decay of things. So last night I told myself I’d clear the dining table and nothing else but the dining table. It took me a while and I had to sit every now and then or take a drink break or something but I did it. And I made sure everything I cleared was put away, not just moved to another place.

This approach works very well for me when I’m in this state. It gives me small rewards and small challenges. It forces my focus on one thing and stops my mind from going everywhere else. Plus the actual task of sorting, trashing, filing, etc keeps my mind preoccupied and that means it doesn’t sit there and talk trash at me.

If you’re having problems like this, I strongly suggest you try this approach. For more benefit, choose a pretty small thing in an area you see a lot through the course of your day. Say, the end table in the living room or a particular chair or one side counter or something like that. I think this is why FlyLady loves the kitchen sink so much.

My problem is the kitchen sink gets disgusting fast and that’s really hard for me to overcome so I have to work my way over to it before I’m ready. Not sure I’m ready but my kitchen is starting to smell yucky and that turns my smile upside down.

When my Mother’s Day presents are all done, do you know what I’m going to do?


And not necessarily in that order.

Half Wip

Today is Wednesday. On this blog, that generally means I particpate in Tami’s WIP Wednesday and show you photos of my fantastic works in progress. I actually have two WIPs but only photographed one because I left the other at home and forgot to take photos of it before leaving the house. I am doing one knit project and one crochet project and frankly, we need a chat.

I mentioned Mother’s Day in my last WIP post as well as ambition and special yarn for special projects for special ladies. So, the yarn came in on Saturday which was exactly two days ahead of schedule which I took as a sign from the heavens that perhaps I’d been overly negative and doubtful and I was indeed meant to create those presents I’d fantasized over.

Not to mention over the weekend, my mother came and glimpsed the complete Hi-Five towel (wait until you see it) and was just gushing how amazing it’d be for Abuela… who was not the intended recipient. However, it turns out I will not be seeing the Intended Recipient on Mother’s Day after all or any time relatively soon. So, I scratched Intended Recipient off the gift list and found I now only had to make three more projects instead of the initially planned four.

Another sign from the heavens!

So it was I cast on Summer Flies. And ripped it back. And cast it on. And ripped it back. And did this over and over again for about six times total before I finally “got it”. Boy was I out of knitting shape. And even when I “got it” I didn’t really “get it” as evidenced by the first section of “Butterflies” which I now refer to as “Abstract Lace” instead.

This project was giving me a major headache. I had to pay major attention to what I was doing. I kept having too many stitches or too few stitches and I’m still pretty sure I am not doing certain stitches properly but my Stitch n Bitch book is nowhere to be found and there was no way in staplers I am ripping anything back at this point to fix a silly mistake. 

So then, in what seems to be an emerging pattern this week, divine entities once again intervened and made me take a break. I know you’re wondering how divinity can interfere with something like a knitting project so let me enlighten you– the divine beings took the page of the pattern I was working on and did who knows what to it. All I know is it was nestled in my project bag one moment and the next moment, it wasn’t. They didn’t even have the decency to turn it into Dove dark chocolate.

Now, keep in mind I have no internet at home or on my phone. I was stuck at home because Baby was sick. There was no way to keep working on the project. But I could not possibly stomach the idea of the Mother’s Day deadline slamming towards me and not working on someone’s gift.

So it was that I decided to begin hooking Clapochet. I was so excited about this project. It had that nice airy thing that I was looking for in a shawl and someone on the message boards assured me it was “actually super fast once you got the hang of it.” Apparently, I haven’t gotten the hang of it.

I did rows 12 and 13 at least four times and I still ended up with two few stitches which I just added to the end of the row because this pattern had frustrated the bubbles out of me! I reminded myself about those ladies that intentionally work at least one mistake into their handicrafts because they dare not attempt perfection and mock the gods or something like that. It turns out, you have to REALLY pay attention to what you’re doing when you’re working on Clapochet.

Oh sure, you think it’s a nice pattern to just zone out to but if you do, you will surely forget to chain one at the end of at least one treble or you’ll do two trebles in a chain space thinking one’s actually a treble. This pattern is stressing me the flowers out.

I have to count the end of each row and I’m not always where I need to be. Not to mention, I do have perfectionist tendencies and because, unlike knitting, I have no qualms ripping back crochet work it’s really hard to just plow ahead instead of going back a row or three to fix a mistake. No really, I did that. I ripped back three rows.

Ok two and two thirds, but if you round up….

I’m certainly not completely deterred from Mother’s Day handmade gifts but I’m back to last week’s wariness. It is especially helpful that I actually like the way Summer Flies is (mostly) coming out and I’m adoring my Clapochet even though I didn’t do what everyone else did and am using solid colored yarn. But the color is gorgeous and the yarn is so super duper soft. We’ll just have to see what else the gods have in store for me I guess.

New Chores + Random Thinkings

It’s  Friday again. How I love Fridays. My car is in desperate need of attention. Summer camp is wreaking havoc on the poor thing. My purse is alright since MutantDaughter and I made a game of emptying it out last night while MutantEldest did his karate thing. Today I start work on Quadrant 4 (Playroom, Kitchen, Office, Laundry Room) aka the bane of my existence. I have a hard time getting excited about cleaning up this area because it’s by far the most daunting for me to do as it’s the most cluttered and the most hot– weird I just noticed that. So I’ll be stuck de-cluttering some more. I’m determined to get out more crap. I’m trying to motivate myself by reading Unclutterer. But alas, I’m tired and somewhat cranky and would very much like to do little more than curl up on a sofa and do more knitting on Blossom while watching Marilyn Monroe movies.

In other news, today is officially over a week on the Spending Diet. It’s also the first kid-free weekend on the diet. It’s a bit interesting how things are starting to change for me. One, I am pleased looking at my bank account and seeing a couple hundred bucks sitting in there instead of the usual close to nothing or under nothing amounts. I’ve also noticed it’s not that hard saying “No” right now. I still think about money a lot. Yesterday I foolishly left all of my food at home and warred with myself the entire drive to work debating whether or not I should get breakfast. I didn’t. And when lunch time came, I took my free medium fries ticket thing to McDonald’s and paired it with a filet-o-fish. Paid $2.99 but it filled me up and that’s all I cared about. So far, I have my spending down to an average of $16.80 a day, a lot lower than the $24.71 pace I had just a couple days ago. To be at budget though, I need to make it down to $11.29 a day. Also in stark contrast to the last update on the diet, I’m a lot more comfortable with the process. And I am at the stage where I’m wondering if it’d be able to repeat next month, at least in some modified version as I will be celebrating my 30th birthday come August. I’m even wondering how I can take this and make it more the way I do things on a long-term basis despite the fact there’s a little voice in my head screaming all the ways it’d like to blow all that money I’m saving up.