Below, a sponsored add on my (private) Facebook account.
I wonder what I find the most depressing:
– the fact that Brad is apparently leaving Angie,
– the fact that there is apparently such a website as goodhousekeeping.com, or
– the fact that I immediately fall into its potential audience …
For a long time, I thought that Facebook’s sole purpose was to have me waste endless hours. But this was before my friend Flo introduced me to Facebook’s coolest feature: a secret group for women working in human rights. Let’s call it Zorro (its actual name is even cooler).
Zorro has 1,576 members. All women. All fond believers in women empowerment. Their CV sometimes includes a PHD, often fellowships at ICC in the Hague, always a few years in underground and exotic war zones. The group is a kind of salon, and you get invited to participate to seminars on domestic violences in Ukraine, or to do drinks in Lesotho, or to answer dashing job offers in Bangladesh. Very much like the fellowship of the ring, except more striking.
I ended up doing drinks with Zorro in New York.
20 girls, including me, had apparently decided to do some wild job hunting. We were threateningly circling the two girls who did have a job and just wanted to have a drink (poor them). Talk about empowerment if you wish, life is a freaking food pyramid.
One morning in the subway, a woman offers her seat. I politely refuse: she looks more exhausted than I am. She insists; I accept.
She introduces herself. Kate. We start chit-chatting. She looks slightly tense, but she has a friendly face, with a lipstick that’s way too red. She has a six month-old and a two year-old, so she says she knows exactly what kind of trouble I’m about to get into. She looks like she really needs to talk.
She is 42 years old, partner in a law firm. Capital market. I was a lawyer too. That makes us two common features. Two kids, lawyer. Kate is startled.
As most women in New York, Kate took six weeks off for each of her kids. She explains with a tense pride that since then, she has organised every aspect of her life. For example, a nanny comes in every day to prepare the dinner and set the table. Meanwhile, Kate gets to enjoy some time with her kids. She says “enjoy” like my parents said “go do your homework”.
She juggles between flights and business trips. She was in Chicago two days ago, she is about to take off again. She mentions her husband at this moment, shrugs. He is there for the kids while she’s away.
In the evening, when she comes back home, Kate gets to “enjoy” some time with her kids while the nanny is working in the background. Then she puts her babies to bed, and resumes working. She is sleeping on two hour-chunks, the baby still wakes up a lot. And no, she answers to my silent question, she won’t let him cry to sleep. It’s not even possible, Kate she is still breastfeeding. My face plunges into a visible “….????” She nods: everything is fine, she pumps in the office, and she freezes her milk before and during the business trips. Well, of course, she has to admit she is a bit sleep-deprived. And the eldest kid is a bit jealous (I understand “a nuisance”, but I think Kate wouldn’t put it that way).
In the morning, after her disastrous nights, Kate wakes up, puts on too much red lipstick, and goes back to work.
Obviously, Kate belongs to the category of women I should envy, not feel bad for. But she embodies so well the women I have gotten to know here, suffocating themselves through “do’s” and “dont’s” regarding babies and work, and control, that despite the ten years and probably hundreds of thousands of dollars between us, I feel like tapping her on the shoulder and telling her that it’s OK, you’re OK, just have one glass of wine, or maybe twenty, think about yourself for one second and don’t worry, you fucking rock.
We have arrived at Kate’s station. She puts her bag on her shoulder, puts her armour back on, and galops on the staircase.
You decide to take your fat body to a UN conference on women’s right. It’s a subject you have always been interested in, it’s free, and your friend Greg says that a bunch of super-interesting people are attending and you have to start working on your network woman.
When you get there, it is exactly 8 AM. You are hungry, and you have huge concerns about your breath. So you breathe through your nose as much as possible, and you make sure to avoid talking to anyone (note to self: always carry chewing gums when wanting to network).
You notice that only women are attending. Only women are speaking. Everyone is nodding at alarming statistics everyone presumably already knows. Everyone warmly applauds the speech on implementation of women’s rights. You do too, and you are sincere. But you restrain a sigh of relief when you hear that men are not only rivals.
The authors of the quotes are tremendously diverse. Poets from the Philippins, and right after that, a quote by Margaret Thatcher (received with the same warmth).
After a while, you start wondering how on earth this type of conferences could be useful as everybody is already working in women’s rights, so I hope everybody is already convinced that violence against women is a bad thing.
Greg says that you have it all wrong. This is mostly the occasion to fundraise and network. Basically, no one cares about the content of the conference.
You cannot get the Disney Song “Rescue Aid Society” out of your head.
Between two conferences, you run to buy muffins and chewing gums to overcome the epic fight with your breath (and your stomach).
You come back heartened, stiff as a bird of prey, with that powerful “gimme your f**ing business card” look. But before you have managed to plunge at anyone, a pretty girl starts talking to you. After a while, you feel like laughing because it looks like she is trying the “bird of prey” tactics on you. Wrong number girl. She gives you her business card, and you take it. Behind it, it says “Currently studying Politics, English and Theatre Studies; Passionate about women’s rights, particularly within sport and allowing equal opportunities for both men and women; Striving for gender equality”. She talks and talks, and lets you go. She looks slightly disappointed because you haven’t given her your own business card – truth is, you don’t have one any more.
It is 4 PM, you have to go get the girls.
You have taken noone else’s business card.
But you have attended a UN conference on women’s rights.
Obviously, there is this trial. A policeman had shot two people, including a teenager who was fighting with his father (whom he shot in the back), and a neighbor who just happened to be there. Now he is suing the family of the victim because the shooting caused him “extreme emotional trauma”.
But this is not my favorite in terms of absurd trials.
This one struck me even more (if it is even possible): an aunt sued her nephew for 127,000 dollars: on his birthday, the most likely overexcited nephew sees his aunt. He shouts “I love you Auntie Jen”, and hugs her so vigorously that the auntie falls to the ground and breaks her wrist. So the aunt testifies that she does love the boy (who, by the way, lost his mother in the meantime), but she also does live on the third floor of a Manhattan building, and we all know how Manhattan is.
Sadly enough, she lost.
My witty cousin gave me the smart advice to subscribe to Twitter (Mom, if you read this: https://twitter.com/USChapters)
Over the last two weeks, I have spent more time managing to get 7 followers on Twitter, than raising two toddlers who are rocking their terrible two’s. Plus it’s a constant source of stress because followers are apparently hard to catch, but even harder to keep (they look just like bees, foraging all over the place).
Over the last two weeks, I have followed basically everyone, first Benjamin Biolay because ah well, it’s Benjamin Biolay. Then most French newspapers. Then random fashion bloggers. Then random bloggers. Now my poor Twitter account is bursting out of random tweets.
Not sure my nerves will make it till 10 followers.
One year after I enrolled in Linkedin. Linkedin didn’t help me find a job. But it did help me waste a lot of time, including for finding 347 friends.
What I tend to find particularly weird is the news feed. Among the revolutionary “X is celebrating 3 years with X firm », which is always being politely liked by 10 people, it’s a real banquet of bad slogans. I guess that being friend with their boss, or their bosses boss, petrifies all my linkedin friends. But the phrases they like or create look exactly like a bad corporate brochure.
Examples (excerpts from today’s newsfeed):
“you want to win? promote more women”
“If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, just what does an empty desk mean?” by super-likable Einstein
Your phone stops working for one whole week. When at last, you manage to get it fixed, you are super-excited because somebody might have called to set up an interview.
Turns out there is a sole message that says “hi, X Daycare speaking. Everything is fine, but Charlotte needs diapers, she ran out of them”.
Roselyn is the lady who helps the children cross the street.
She is constantly smiling, in sickness and in health, in cold weather, in hot weather. With a smile so big that her dimples look like they are going to blow up. With a smile that makes you want to eat chocolate cake and have hot tea and tell your grand-parents you love them.
She says “good morning my love” to my little girl, with honey in her voice. And my little girl, who never hugs anyone, runs and hug her.
She is 56 and she looks about 15 years younger. She has five kids, four grandkids and a whole crew of kids from the neighbourhood who tell her about their new outfit or old problems.
Her job is hard. But she looks so happy that I find myself suddenly wanting her job.