Four Letter Words

Four.

If you had to sum up how you’re feeling in one, four letter word – could you do it?

The three letter words get more play sometimes.  Sex.  Sin.  Law.  God.

But I’ve become obsessed with the four letter words.

Love, Hate.

Busy, Rest.

Damn, Save.

Deny.

Hope.

Girl.

Wife.

Can’t, Won’t, Were.  Will.

Good, True, Lies, Fear, Fury, Calm, Give, Take, Lose, Find, Dead, Numb, Agog.  Open and Shut.  Seek and Hide.  Grow or Fail.  Duty.

Quit or Stay.

Small words.  Big ideas.  Impossible, endless microcosms of feeling, of ambivalence, of meaning and confusion.

Ultimately, when our feelings are so big, our thoughts are so wide, our minds are so scattered and our words are so lacking, so jumbled, so inarticulate, so muddled – stop.

Just stop.  Just.  Stop.

And meditate on a small word.  Four letters only.  Run over it in your head.  Limit yourself.  This isn’t K & W.  You have to choose.  You have to distill it, to find and accept one word and throw out all the rest.

If you had one four letter word today, what would it be?

xo

Tonya

 

“At 70 years old, if I could give my younger self one piece of advice, it would be to use the words ‘fuck off’ much more frequently.”

Grown Assed Women

Have y’all seen this hashtag/social media thing going around called #girlboss?

It’s empowering…..

And not to disparage anyone, but I looked at it and thought:  “Fine.  But I’m not a girl.  I’m a grown assed woman.”

And my legs go all the way to the ground.

So what, exactly, is a grown assed woman?

Well, in my humble opinion, being a grown assed woman includes but is not limited to the following:

Grown assed women know how to use the word “no”.   It is a full sentence that does not require explanation.

Grown assed women know how and when to say “fuck off” – literally or metaphorically – as circumstances warrant.

Grown assed women know that when you are swirling between the Scylla of bimbo and the Charybdis of bitch – you may as well do what you want to anyway.

Grown assed women know that it takes discipline to be what we want to be.  Well read, well educated, well written, well spoken, well dressed women don’t just happen.  If your shit it together, your house is clean, your bills are paid, your thank you notes are written and your children know how to act in public – its because you worked for it.  You put the effort in.  It doesn’t just happen.

Grown assed women take responsibility for themselves, their lives, their choices and their decisions.  I don’t know about y’all but the decisions that I’ve made that have gone straight to shit don’t really bother me.  The choices I’ve let other people make for me – when those have gone to shit – it bothers me.   And the ones that haven’t gone to shit still bother me.

Grown assed women don’t compare themselves to others.   Figure out what you are.  If you like it, expand it.  If you don’t, change it.  But live in gratitude and awareness of your gifts and blessings, your faults and your weakness.  Own it.  Accept it.  Be it.  Let it make you happy.

Grown assed women can hold their liquor and don’t get drunk in public.  Think about it.  Is there anything more embarrassing that a sloppy drunk?  This applies to men, too – but we’re not talking about them.  I know, I know.  We have an equal right to be drunk and embarrass ourselves.  But still.

Grown assed women know the power of an appropriate supportive undergarment.

Grown assed women know how to laugh – especially at themselves.

Grown assed women either know how to walk in heels or they don’t wear them.  None of this teetering down the mall shit.  If those shoes make you walk like a stork, take them off or learn to sink back into your hips and work them.  There is nothing else.

Grown assed women know the importance of discretion and are considerate with their words and actions.

Grown assed women know and understand the power of their sexuality and use it to their own purposes.

Grown assed women know how to play up their assets and cover up the rest.  Its amazing to me the number of women who don’t know how to dress for their body.

And finally, grown assed women acknowledge that they’re women.  Not girls.  Not walking tits and ass.  Not a disembodied brain.  Not a voiceless, powerless mannequin.  Grown assed women know that they’re a whole adult person, full of contradictions and complications.  As Walt Whitman said “I contain multitudes”.  And so do grown assed women.

xo

Tonya

 

 

 

 

 

XVII

In Heaven

Some little blades of grass

Stood before God.

“What did you do?”

Then all save one of the little blades

Began eagerly to relate

The merits of their lives.

This one stayed a small way behind,

Ashamed.

Presently, God said:

“And what did you do?”

The little blade answered: “Oh, my Lord,

“Memory is bitter to me

“For if I did good deeds,

“I know not of them.”

Then God in all His splendor

Arose from His throne.

“Oh, best little blade of grass,” He said.

Stephen Crane

Happy Weekend

Oh my goodness, y’all – it’s Friday.  It seems like this week has both flown by and been interminable.  I think I always feel that way about “short” weeks.

This weekend I am puttering in the house, organizing and updating my bullet journal.  I *still* haven’t done my setup for September and its starting to weigh on me.  Does anyone out there bullet journal?  I started last year and I have to say that it works for me.

We are also going to spend some time getting ready for our anniversary trip to Paris later this month.  You guys know how much I love Paris and my darling husband and I are going to celebrate this year.  It’s his first trip and we can’t wait!

In the meantime, here are some favorite links from the week and the coming weekend:

Reading:  Currently I am reading A Death in the Family by James Agee.  I am a couple of chapters in and I hope to make progress this weekend.

Listening:  Brad Paisley is in the QC tonight and MDH and I have tix.  We love Brad and, you know, he’s from West Virginia, too.  He actually played Charlotte the night before our wedding and we tried to start a nasty rumor that he was coming to the wedding.  Nobody fell for it but my Mom… So there.

Distant Lights Across the Bay:  Mourning Walter Becker, Steely Dan’s elusive genius.  Rest in Peace.  It is my understanding that the love of Steely Dan is currently a running joke in the Broadway show, Oh, Hello.  As I understand it, she show features two crotchety old Upper West Side pals who fancy themselves hip but are impassioned, die hard Steely Dan fans.  My darlings, we here at Chateau Bee Charmer are also guilty.

College Level Shit:  Go watch people try moonshine for the first time.  By the way – do not ever, ever, ever fall for trying any sort of fruit soaked in moonshine.  Trust me on this.

Must Have Closet Additions:  Y’all, I bought this high waisted (minus the) Leather Pencil Skirt from Express with some amount of trepidation.  I wore it to work yesterday and it is seriously one of the most comfortable, easy to wear and flattering things I own.  And the price is quite nice.

xo

Tonya

 

Teddy The Terrible

 

Well – here he is.  Our little Teddy.

Isn’t he cute?  Don’t you just want to smooch him up?

If you think that, then you’ve already fallen into his evil trap.

He looks like a Teddy Bear but in his little heart he is a cranky, cantankerous, suspicious little hillbilly who’d like for you to get off his porch.

His theme song is “Get Back, Motherfucker, You Don’t Know Me Like That.”

When strangers try to pet  him his standard reaction is “Do I *know* you?”

Teddy is a lhasa apso.  The breed standard says they are “chary with strangers”.  I’m not sure what “chary” means but I will tell you this:  The sweet angel who comes to “walk” him at lunch has been coming since last March and he still won’t let her put his leash on him.  He doesn’t attack her anymore – you know – so progress.

I kinda kid you.  He is actually pretty sweet once you get to know him but he’s stingy with his love.  He reserves his most adoring attention for my darling husband, also known as “Popsie” to the puppies.  He loves me if MDH is not around.  He’s tried to kill Clementine several times and is still not quite happy that she’s around.  We’ll talk about Clem later.

So here he is.  I am sure that, like the Beans, he will be showing up from time to time.  Right now he is recovering from a cornea transplant due to an infection in his right eye.  He’s been in the cone for almost 3 weeks, hasn’t had a bath or a haircut and is generally stinky and shagnasty right now.  Not to mention that his eye is still healing.  I’ll post some pics of this journey after he’s fully healed.  As of now, he’s doing great and no longer on his pain meds and only having antibiotic drops in his eye.  He goes back to the puppy ophthalmologist (who we adore) next week.

In the meantime, meet Teddy Cakes.

xo

Tonya

The Neo-Feminist

Alright, Ladies.

I said it.  I said the “F” word.  Does it make you uncomfortable?

Feminist.

I am a feminist.  A certain *kind* of feminist.  Until recently, I didn’t realize that I am what is called a “difference” feminist.  As opposed to an “equality” feminist.

I have always felt that equality is for the birds.  I do not believe in it.  Never have.  Even as a younger woman, I never bought it.  It seemed antithetical to me for women who were advocating for equal political and economic power to argue that we had to act like a man in order to have it.  I mean, really.  I don’t know how to act like a man and frankly, I don’t want to.

The fact of the matter is that one of the most influential statements that I ever heard came from my Daddy, of all people.  Daddy is a tortured feminist.  He’s sort of a paternalistic chauvinist in a lot of ways – but he had daughters and he thought we should be taken seriously for our brains and not our looks and that we should get paid the money that we earned.  Anyway, on one of our long drives back from college (when I was about as radical as I ever could be) he said to me “Tonya, you don’t have to act like a man to be equal.”  Now, I think that I had long thought that – but I don’t think I’d ever heard a man say it.  But in any event, I took it and ran.

So here goes.

Men and Women are NOT equal.  Nope.  Not at all.  Apples are not equal to Oranges.  The Pacific Ocean is not equal to the Atlantic.  North Carolina and New York are not equal.  I could go on, but hopefully you get my point.  I think demanding equality and then implicitly accepting that in order to be “equal” we have to strip ourselves of the femininity that makes us women in the first place is a tacit admission that men are still the standard by which all others are measured.  I don’t think men are the standard here – I just think that they think they are.

So what do I think?

I think women have inherent power.  I think that women have unique gifts and perspectives.  I think that traditional characterizations of femininity such as beauty, grace, guile, temperance, flexibility, nurturing and yes, boobs – and all they symbolize, have power and influence.  And I think women should embrace them.  Use them.  Demand them.  Stipulate to the fact that you are not a man and then get on with it.  They’re not better.  They’re not stronger.  They’re not more able.  They’re just different.  Let them be different.  Lets admit that we’re different, too and use it.

Now – don’t get me wrong.  I’m not saying that you should have to walk out of the house every day wearing stilettos and perfume and eyeliner and all that if you don’t want to.  I’m not saying that makeup is the definition of femininity.

But I am saying that I love heels and perfume and makeup.  I love bags and I am not above using my boobs to win friends and influence people.  If men can play golf with judges on the weekend then why the hell can’t I wear a v-neck blouse to Court if I happen to know that certain judges enjoy lawyers with breasts?  Why wouldn’t I use all the powers of persuasion that I possess along with my considerable education and intellect?  Has anyone ever told a good looking, well-educated man to stop diminishing himself by flirting?  Maybe.  But I doubt it.

You know why women feel bad about doing these things?  Why we think we shouldn’t use male definitions of female sexuality to get what we want?  According to Simone de Bouvier, its because (traditionally speaking) the power of sex is the only power that men have been willing to recognize in women.  And as soon as they recognized it, they deprived us of using it.  That’s right ladies.  Good girls and virtuous women don’t use sex to get what they want….. according to God and the Pope and the President and law makers of old…  And just like that, they stripped us of power.  And we went along with it.  And when the revolution finally came, we still went along with it.

So what is a woman to do?

Be your dadgum self.  If that self has good legs and wants to use them – go to it.  If that self has a witty and devastating sense of humor – use that too.  If you like wearing lots of mascara while you do it, more power to you.  Use your brain.  Use your smarts.  Use your guile and your beauty and your charm and your education.

What women must do is beat down the walls.  Every.  Single. Day.  We must (and I will argue that we have) hit the patriarchy like wave after wave from the ocean and wear it down until it looks more like us.  Until it caves in to our overwhelming femininity.  Until it recognizes and admits that the unique and overwhelming power of women is needed, welcome and yes, valuable.  But we can’t expect MEN to recognize our value if we don’t recognize and embrace it ourselves.  I think that successful women do that – whether they admit it or not.  And those are the women who are reticent to call themselves “feminists”.  They aren’t angry.  They don’t sit around railing against the man even though we are well aware that he still exists.  They just go out into the world as their powerful, feminine selves and they do it.  They do it the only way they know how – as women.

And you know what?  They’re getting shit done.

I’m a lawyer and The Law abhors change.  And the men who practice law don’t like change, either.  And The Law and the way it is practiced was set up by men, for men and the way men could do it – all the time and without the burden of pregnancy, child bearing or cramps.  And then women hit the legal profession in wave after wave.  And when the profession resisted change, the women started packing up their ovaries and going home.  Going to do other things.  In short, women looked at The Law and told it to go fuck itself.  And you know what?  By that time it was too late.  The Law realized that it couldn’t have the best, brightest and most talented lawyers if it didn’t keep, nurture and value its female practitioners.  Yes.  The Ladies made their mark.  And when The Law started losing that talent, it did something unprecedented…. It changed.  It changed to accommodate the demands of women and just like that the legal world became better.  Not because we’re equal.  Not because we ceded the playing field and started acting like men.  But because women demanded change and because we’re uniquely talented and valuable – we won.

Pretty cool, huh?

Now – there are men who may read this and feel vindicated.  They usually point and scream and get ripped out of the frame because their point has just been proven.  WOMEN DON’T WANT TO BE TREATED EQUALLY!  THEY WANT *SPECIAL* TREATMENT!!!!!

Um, no.  We just aren’t going to let men define “equal” anymore without reference to us.

In the end, there are things about me that I see as essentially and intrinsically feminine.  And I see these things as who I am and I see them as a source of my power.  And I’m going to use my power as *I* see fit.  And isn’t that what this is about anyway?  When I know a male lawyer is short, I wear my highest heels just so I can tower over him.  It’s a power play that I adapted from the boys – and not only does it work, its fucking fun.

Will there be men in my way?  Absolutely.  What do I do about them?  I step over them.  I walk around them.  In a lot of circumstances I have looked at them and thought “I’m just gonna wait until you die.  I’ll still be here, wearing my heels and you’ll be dead.”

So I’m just going to call myself a neo-feminist because I don’t care if maybe a man thinks that the Tonya I am is too soft spoken, too girly, too whatever – or if he thinks that my unwillingness to play by his rules means I want special treatment…. I won’t do it.  Will not.

Chime in and let me know what you think.

xo

Tonya

“Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.” John Lubbock, The Use of Life

Happy Weekend!

We’re traveling up to the West Virginia/Virginia Tech game this weekend and will be spending the weekend with all our college friends.

Clem and Teddy are staying home but will be with us in spirit.

In the meantime I thought I’d share some of my favorites this week.

The Death of Fun as we Know It:  Head on over to the National Review for this article by Heather Wilhelm on the death of fun.

Speaking of Fun – It’s Fall Fashion:  Check out Ann Taylor’s new shoes – they are hitting it out of the park this season.  I am particularly partial to these and these.  And these wedges really trip my trigger.

West Virginia Football!  The Mountaineers are back.  If you are inclined to follow along, head over to the Smoking Musket for all the news, snark, celebrating and bitching that’s fit to print.

FRED:  Ok, y’all.  I have a love/hate relationship with bottled water.  I know its good for me but I have serious issues with all those bottles in the landfill.  I have tried and rejected like 4000 refillable water bottles – I find them bulky and an overall pain.  Then I found Fred.  I love that it’s a refillable, recyclable water bottle.  I love that it is so light weight when its empty. and its square shape makes it easier to fit in my bag.  And I super love that I walk around my office with it and more than one person has believed that I was swigging from a big bottle of Vodka.

Vogue:  I’m reading the September Issue this weekend – and I think all of y’all ought to read it, too.  American women are suffering from a dearth of old fashioned elegance (this will be a recurring topic here) and in my opinion all grown ass women need to read Vogue.

Holiday Weekend Cooking:  If you’re looking for something to cook this weekend (cool and rainy on the East Coast) you may want to try Katie Lee’s chili.  Katie is a fellow West Virginian and her first cookbook is a favorite here at Chateau Bee Charmer.  I’ve also been gearing up to try Husk’s Pimento Cheese recipe.   If you give it a shot, hopefully you can find a source for good pickled ramps!

Houston Flood Relief:  Finally, I am a huge supporter of the American Red Cross.  If you’d like to help their disaster relief efforts in Houston, please join me by donating $10 just by texting “HARVEY” to 90999.

Happy weekend, all.

xo

Tonya