At the age of three, I already didn’t want to be a girl. I saw from watching my mom what it was like to be a grown-up girl and it didn’t look good. Here are the few memories from childhood that I hadn’t managed to suppress:
We came home once to find our apartment ransacked by burglars. I was forced to drink powdered milk everyday, which I hated. My dad chasing my mom with a big knife into the kitchen. My brother and I, who were kneeling facing the wall as punishment for who-knows-what, turned and watched them run by. Screaming. My dad coming in the bathroom interrupting me and my brother taking a shower together. He came in to punish my brother, hitting him on the butt. My brother remembers us hiding under the dining table while chairs were being thrown around. Apparently my dad used to bring women home, even when my mom was home.
Needless to say I was a sad little kid. By the time I escaped to the U.S. at age six I told myself my life starts now and never to look back. Keep reading »
Women have no secrets. Not really. We readily spill the beans about everything from the guy we hooked up with to our marital problems. Discussing our lives is the glue that keeps book clubs together. But there’s something we need to talk more openly about: penis size.
Not that we haven’t been discussing size, but we’ve only been doing it in hushed voices after several martinis. Why? Because men have made size a taboo subject, even though they’re the ones who are obsessed with it.
Our silence isn’t helping. Men foolishly seem to think size is a big deal, or the only deal. This is evidenced by the overwhelming amount of emails for penis enlargement procedures clogging up my spam folder. Men get hung up on equating their masculinity or their sexual prowess with their penis size. That couldn’t be further from the truth, at least, from the female perspective. Keep reading »
There are two main versions of my name story. The first is the one I like telling, which is that I was named after my grandmother’s best friend, Charlotte. It doesn’t make any sense, I know. But it’s better — although I suspect less accurate — than the second version, which is that my mother was reading a magazine while sitting on the toilet (apparently this was an important detail), and came across an ad for Chanel perfume. Hence, a difficultly-named troublemaker was born.
I hate my name. Okay, that’s not fair. I have a complicated relationship with my name. For a long time, I just wanted to be named Jen, or Rebecca, or anything but Chanel. (I’m an only child, so there’s no one to compare names with, no sibling with an equally complicated name.) Teachers went into a full-on, sweaty panic when they saw my full name, and kids seized upon me with gleeful cruelty, creating every permutation you can think of and referring to me as such. Recently, when I was signing into the apartment building where I was cat sitting, the doorman informed me that my name was “not spelled that way.” Keep reading »
I consider myself a fairly patient person. I grew up in a house with four siblings and three pets—I can put up with a lot. But if you want to set my foot tapping and my eyes rolling, just start complaining about your life.
Recently, for example, I caught up with an old friend. Last I talked to her was several months ago, and things weren’t going great—she wasn’t happy in her job, wasn’t thrilled to be single and felt an overall uneasiness about her life. I felt her pain, and was ready to listen, encourage, and lend a shoulder to cry on. But when we talked again, and I started the conversation with a simple, “How are you?” her immediate response was, “Meh.” What followed was a string of complaints reminiscent of our previous conversation—nothing had changed, and it seemed she hadn’t tried to make it.
You hate your job, but aren’t even looking for a new one? You want to meet men, but refuse to join an online dating site? You’re upset with your weight, but won’t change your diet and exercise? I can’t help you. Only you can. Keep reading »
The irony about people who cope with depression is that some of us are actually quite happy people. We are not, contrary to stereotype, slogging through life with the weight of one thousand sorrows dragging behind us. I may feel things intensely, sure. But I’m not someone whose blue-colored glasses see everyone screwed up and the world a terrible place.
That is, until the holidays come around. Keep reading »
I am not a mother. This fact has kept me from expressing my heartbreak over the shootings in Sandy Hook. In the aftermath of this horrifying event, I’ve watched countless friends — mothers, all of them — post wrenching status updates on Facebook. I’ve read them, feeling oddly ashamed inside. These moms talked of compassion for those poor little children, of the need to step up to the plate as adults, of the fear they have for the future, of roiling anger toward the government, and of utter helplessness. They posted pictures of the beautiful young faces lost to this insane tragedy. They urged others to take a stand, and to hold their own children close.
The same thoughts streamed through my head. Tears welled in my eyes, too. I texted my siblings and begged them to hug and kiss their little ones for me.
But something was silencing the part of me that wanted to join these moms in their outrage. I felt it wasn’t my place. How could I know, after all, what kind of fear these parents were expressing? How could I possibly relate to their protective instincts? I am not a mother. Keep reading »
I love guns. I’m from West Texas — most of us harbor respect for guns, if not outright love.
I vacillate between the high sixties and the mid eighties, which is good for a woman who only gets to shoot trap once a year. I keep about the same record as my father, who shoots competitively and is a former homicide and narcotics detective.
My mother’s hips and knees can’t take the standing around anymore, but for most of her life she was just as good a shot as my father.
She smiles knowingly every time I hit a sporting clay.
“It’s because you’re a woman,” is her theory. “You have a lower center of gravity than men, which gives you a more solid stance.” Keep reading »
I was talking to my guy friend about Caitlin Moran’s book How To Be A Woman, which led us to the topic of money. I said that I am a feminist, but I am not completely resistant to guys paying for my meals on dates because most guys I know make more money than women. (That is my personal experience.)
“Do you really think you make less money because you’re a woman?” he asked. “In 2012, in New York City, where everyone is equal? You really think that’s what the problem is?”
At his work, he said, women and gays made up a majority of the employees, and he hinted at the implication that he was the one being slighted, being in the white, male, heterosexual minority. Keep reading »
This weekend I was wandering around one of my favorite stores when I spotted a sliver of blue plaid fabric peeking out from the crowded rack of dresses. Blue is my favorite color, and plaid is my favorite pattern, so I was immediately intrigued.
When I reached into the mass of hangers and pulled out the mysterious dress, there is a good chance I audibly gasped. It was lined in silk, with a cutout in the back, a sweetheart neckline, and a flowing hourglass shape. It was surprisingly formal, but the plaid fabric made it feel playful and fun. It was unique without trying too hard. It was, quite possibly, the most beautiful dress I’d ever seen. “I would pay $200 for a dress like this,” I thought, flipping over the price tag to reveal numerous crossed-out sale prices making their way toward a grand total of $39.97. I practically skipped to the dressing room. Keep reading »