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Newsletter editor Lily here.
Yesterday I had a little bit of a moment on the train when I was heading up to teach my class. I’d just gotten on a car to find a seat, rolling a suitcase in front of me because I’m traveling this weekend, and lugging my giant purse on my shoulder. Suddenly, a bro in a suit and Airpods appears, and he’s walking towards my direction down the aisle from the opposite train car door.
Despite the fact that it was obvious that I was carrying more stuff, when we met in the middle of the aisle and had to do that “who moves to the left” song and dance, I refused to move. He stopped and made this confused look, so as to say, “Why aren’t you moving for me?” The whole interaction took an extra 4-5 seconds than it usually does.
Those of you who follow me on social media know that with a heavy heart I returned my leased minivan this past weekend.
This was extremely emotional. That minivan represented a lot.
Before I got it, I’d had the same Honda Passport for more than 20 years. That Passport started my life in California with me (dreams of Tahoe trips that didn’t really happen that often and camping trips that happened never). I was married when I had that Passport. I wasn’t a mom. I was spending my weekends at baseball games.
One of my firm beliefs—in fact it’s basically cross-stitched all over the Chairman Mom office*—is that there is no such thing as a “bad mom.”
When I used to wait tables, there would be days that I just didn’t have it in me. I didn’t feel like upselling apps, I didn’t want to smile, I was slow and forgetful, and I felt like I was screwing everything up.
And yet. The very act of coming to a table, getting your drinks, placing the order, getting that order to you and handling your payment was still enough work; I felt I deserved a tip. In those days you made an hourly wage of $2 waiting tables. That work—while half-ass—was worth more than $2. Maybe not 20% of your bill. But something. As a result, I still tip well on every transaction as long as I got the basic thing I wanted at some point in 24 hours.
Regular readers know that my Gen X shows when I talk about my total adoration for Liz Phair. Her angst at trying to win on her own terms with her own outsized talent in an unfair world dominated by men has resonated with me in my 20s, 30s and still in my 40s. Which is kind of amazing considering how much my own views on the patriarchy and feminism has changed over those decades.
I was re-discovering some of her Girly Sound stuff after its reissue last year and somehow I had never heard or internalized the song “Ant in Alaska” before last week. Maybe I wasn’t ready to hear it. I have listened to it no fewer than 50 times in the last week, as I’ve been dealing with a lot of rage about various things that all tie back to fundamental unfairness against women in our society.
Did you know we have a Chairman Mom Virtual Book Club? It jumped off of this thread. We’ve read Michelle Obama’s memoir Becoming, Shirley Chisholm’s Unbought and Unbossed, Tara Westover’s Educated, and this month are reading (my pick) David Grann’s Killers of the Flower Moon.
Want to join us? It’s usually on Wednesday nights via Zoom and most of us have a glass of wine. It’s fun to put members’ user names to faces…at least over Zoom. And it’s a rare, regular, sort of IRL thing we do that doesn’t require you be in the Bay Area!
This item in Fortune’s Broadsheet newsletter this week caught my eye, linking to an article Vanity Fair: “Diana Falzone, a former Fox News reporter who sued for gender discrimination and retaliation, writes about women who have been blacklisted from media after settling sexual harassment claims. ‘The very same people who publicly applaud you for speaking up about bad behavior will never hire you into their own organizations because you are forever pegged as a whistleblower and a troublemaker,’ one woman says.”
A few years ago, I was lucky enough to get to know Kathy Spillar, the executive editor of Ms. Magazine and executive director of the Feminist Majority Foundation. I was working on my book and hosting my dinners for badass Silicon Valley women, many of whom were having their first feminist “awakening” in the post-Trump era. My friend Michele Dauber thought these born-again feminists should connect with one of the oldest institutions who’d been doing the work since Gloria Steinem’s days.
At the first Ms. Magazine Bay Area lunch I met the producers of the Oscar-winning Period: End of Sentence and sat next to a woman who was part of the decision for UN Women to reject working with Uber, in part due to things my reporting was turning up about them. It was a pretty amazing few hours of reaching across industries and geographies to meet women working on behalf of other women who I wouldn’t have been able to meet before.
Newsletter editor Lily here.
It’s taken me a while to talk about, but I did something bold and with the confidence of a mediocre white man a few weeks ago: I pitched a Center for Media Studies at my alma mater to the president of the university.
As many of you know, I’ve been teaching at Wesleyan University (not to be confused with Wellesley College or the 36 other schools with “Wesleyan” in the title) for this school year. It’s been a great experience, not to mention a challenging one, and I came out of it realizing that there are huge gaps in terms of connectivity between the academic pursuit of fields like media, journalism, marketing, and similar topics as well as post-grad development in those fields. At the end of all of those epiphanies, I decided to pitch some sort of central hub that could do any number of things for the school in regards to work with media and its adjacent industries. After finally calling the office to set up an appointment, I spent weeks fretting over my presentation (both the proposal document itself and what I’d actually say), had a near-panic attack two hours before I met with the president, and nearly fell over afterwards. (God bless one of my favorite administrators on campus for being available for 45 minutes right after to sit with me in my exhaustion.)
This past weekend, I flew home to Memphis for my 25-year high school reunion.
It’s weird isn’t it? There were a bunch of think pieces a few years ago about the decreasing need and desire to go to reunions given the rise of Facebook. But with Facebook having caused so many fights, toxicity, and—yunno—end of democracy in the last year or so, the need for ditching it, flying home, and spending an evening face-to-face with people you grew up with seems all the more imperative.
At least for me.
For the May Preach event, we are doing things a little differently.
We will still have food, wine, and badasses, but this month we’ll also have some light programming. The amazing Amanda Munday, bestselling author of the newly released Day Nine: A Postpartum Depression Memoir, will join us to talk about her amazing book and unforgettable journey as a working mom. (And relatively new entrepreneur!)
If you were at the Chairman Mom Flee last year, you probably spent time with Amanda, and if you are active on the site, you’ve probably engaged in threads with her. She’s definitely one of my favorite people I’ve gotten to know through Chairman Mom. (So much so that I wrote a blurb for her book!)