Monthly Archives: January 2018

To do list

-look up all the women interviewed

-put their names in a collage on my wall

-read their books

-break the patriarchy


A Quote on Writing

It is my belief that the writer, the free-lance author, should be and must be a critic of the society in which he lives. It is easy enough, and always profitable, to rail away at national enemies beyond the sea, at foreign powers beyond our borders who question the prevailing order. But the moral duty of the free writer is to begin his work at home; to be a critic of his own community, his own country, his own culture. If the writer is unwilling to fill this part, then the writer should abandon pretense and find another line of work.

-Edward Abbey, naturalist and author (29 Jan 1927-1989)

Old (Basque) Men

Last night I was reading and an old dude came up and started talking to me about the music in the bar, the book I was reading. When he started to touch me (on the hand) I asked him not to and returned to my book. He then started shouting at me and stormed off angrily.
My friends arrived. I was outside with them. He shouted at me again briefly.
Last week I saw a similar thing happening to another woman on the bus. She was from here.
The old man was short, thin. I could have easily knocked him out. He uses the fact that it would be shameful to physically accost someone so weak in order to try to humiliate young women he wants to harass.
When I walk home from the gym, old men make comments about my body, with their old men chums. My hair is plastered to my head with sweat.
When I’m at a bar, old men are shouting “NIÑA” so loudly at the woman who runs the bar I feel sick. She herself looks disgusted but says nothing.
I remember when I’d left my keys at home, and went to a bar across the road from my house. An old man started shouting about how they shouldn’t let women in the bar. I was tired and sad about my mothers death so I pretended I hadn’t heard and just read my book.
There’s a young man who sexually harassed me two years ago. I went sick and lost all my friends. Our friends in common gave excuses for him, said that he was sad about his mother’s illness. I took care of my mother and watched her die slowly, her face twisted in agony. Only men get free passes.
Whenever he sees me with another woman or alone, he calls my name. Whenever he sees me with a man, he says nothing.
There’s a lot of men here who could do with a good slap.
I am tired of patriarchy.

Why you will marry the wrong person

Favourite bits from a Ted Talk/New York Times article from Alain de Botton

In a wiser, more self-aware society than our own, a standard question on any early dinner date would be: “And how are you crazy?”

——I had a date like this in December.

The problem is that before marriage, we rarely delve into our complexities. Whenever casual relationships threaten to reveal our flaws, we blame our partners and call it a day. As for our friends, they don’t care enough to do the hard work of enlightening us. One of the privileges of being on our own is therefore the sincere impression that we are really quite easy to live with.

——I hold no such beliefs about myself… Although I do have a tendency to think that I, and my way of thinking is “right”, as shown the other day on a date where I told a guy “there’s no nice places to eat around here except place x” and we stumbled upon a nice place and had a wonderful lunch.

The marriage of reason was not, in hindsight, reasonable at all; it was often expedient, narrow-minded, snobbish and exploitative. That is why what has replaced it — the marriage of feeling — has largely been spared the need to account for itself.

——One of my closest friends asked me recently what I thought about arranged marriages. I said they could work as long as both people really, truly consented, and weren’t psychos. There’s nothing more terrible in my mind than a marriage where the woman doesn’t have the resources (i.e. education, money, opportunities) to thrive (not just survive in poverty with her children etc) on her own, or one where the man doesn’t want to leave and lose seeing his children every day.

But though we believe ourselves to be seeking happiness in marriage, it isn’t that simple. What we really seek is familiarity — which may well complicate any plans we might have had for happiness. We are looking to recreate, within our adult relationships, the feelings we knew so well in childhood. The love most of us will have tasted early on was often confused with other, more destructive dynamics: feelings of wanting to help an adult who was out of control, of being deprived of a parent’s warmth or scared of his anger, of not feeling secure enough to communicate our wishes.

——Classic! After 8 years in therapy I thank god I never married, had kids, or bought a house with anyone. My “picker” was definitely not up to scratch; as a very young woman I vacillated between safe, caring, men, or exciting, narcissistic men who liked to wipe their feet on girls. I was on the floor. I’m (usually) not now…

How logical, then, that we should as grown-ups find ourselves rejecting certain candidates for marriage not because they are wrong but because they are too right — too balanced, mature, understanding and reliable — given that in our hearts, such rightness feels foreign. We marry the wrong people because we don’t associate being loved with feeling happy.

——Sad. I would like a “partner in crime”, someone who helps me to be the best person I can be and vice versa. I accept that I might not find that person, and that people grow, relationships change, and sometimes end.

We make mistakes, too, because we are so lonely. No one can be in an optimal frame of mind to choose a partner when remaining single feels unbearable. We have to be wholly at peace with the prospect of many years of solitude in order to be appropriately picky; otherwise, we risk loving no longer being single rather more than we love the partner who spared us that fate.

——I am truly happy being single at the moment. If anything, what I love most is not having to think about anyone else. It’s like why I love travelling alone. I only have to ask myself: “What do I want to do today?” and “What do I want to do now?”. Although travelling with someone else can be great as you share the daily tasks (researching where to stay, where to go next, and of course, you always have someone to watch your bags while you go to the toilet, which is especially useful when you have violent diarrhoea etc).

The person who is best suited to us is not the person who shares our every taste (he or she doesn’t exist), but the person who can negotiate differences in taste intelligently — the person who is good at disagreement. Rather than some notional idea of perfect complementarity, it is the capacity to tolerate differences with generosity that is the true marker of the “not overly wrong” person. Compatibility is an achievement of love; it must not be its precondition.

——This is the key to why I broke up with my ex. There comes a time in many women’s lives where she is ready to have….a dog. He had worked as a postman, and had a phobia of dogs. I tried to compromise, suggesting that if one day we had a house with a garden, couldn’t we get one? He flatly refused. “Well, what about if we live in different apartments?” I suggested.

“If we live in different apartments, it’s a step back, and I will break up with you” he told me.

It wasn’t all him. I too have a phobia: of men. Many women are cautious with men, and men who are allies tend to be conscious that when they are walking home, they shouldn’t walk to closely to a woman as they’ve noticed she walks faster etc.


Watch the TED talk here:

The first 20 hours — how to learn anything

  1. deconstruct the skill: Euskera- listening, reading, pronunciation. Decide what you want to be able to do.
  2. learn enough to self-correct: Get books. Don’t procrastinate. Learn just enough that you can self-correct/self-edit as you practice
  3. remove barriers to practice: television, internet
  4. Practice at least 20 hrs: feeling stupid is a barrier to us, causing frustration and stopping us practicing.


Twitter exchange between Sarah Silverman and an angry/hurt dude:
Instead of ignoring the insult, or responding with equal aggression, Silverman took the opportunity to test the neutralizing impact of unexpected love. She took the time to read the Twitter feed of the man who’d harassed her, Jeremy Jamrozy, then gracefully responded that she believed in him, validating his pain and encouraging him to see love in himself.
Then, instead of leaving it at kind words, Silverman leveraged her 12 million Twitter followers and financial power to find back specialists in San Antonio, Texas, where Jamrozy lives, to treat his slipped disks.
“I was once a giving and nice person, but too many things destroyed that and I became bitter and hateful,” Jamrozy told My San Antonio. “Then Sarah showed me the way. Don’t get me wrong, I still got a long way to go, but it’s a start.”
Silverman and Jamrozy’s unlikely connection has resonated with many as an outlier amidst the brutal, self-centered bash-fest that social media often becomes. Entering a new year, Silverman’s selflessness and Jamrozy’s vulnerability offer a powerful antidote to cynicism and hatred.
Most of us don’t have the financial means to foot a stranger’s medical bills, but we all have the capacity to say the simple words Silverman said to her would-be troll: “I see you,” and “I believe you.”