It was another challenging week bookended by ice and snow on the East Coast and wildfires in California. I have no expertise to offer in alleviating the devastation wrought by wildfires, but I do have some thoughts on preventing the havoc wreaked by six inches – yes, a mere six inches – of snow, sleet and rain in New York. When it’s extremely cold and the sky is pregnant, look out. Don’t assume the snow is going to change to rain and, thus, all your snow preparation efforts will be in vain. If nothing else, prepared you’ll be ahead of the game and, if the worst doesn’t happen, you will have dodged a bullet. But having failed to anticipate the worst when it happens, don’t say it wasn’t your fault and throw others under the bus, such as the weathermen who predicted the storm accurately for days. If you’re in charge, the failure is on you, just as the success belongs to your team. That’s what it means to be a leader, Mayor Bill de Blasio.
Much of the week’s challenging news came from overseas as British Prime Minister Theresa May, one of the few grownups in the room, announced a Brexit (British exit from the European Union) deal that makes the best of a bad situation created by men who have done nothing but criticize since. Say what you want about May, but she is determined to see through a solution to a problem she didn’t create that will be the lesser of the two economic evils and keep the border open between Northern Ireland, part of the United Kingdom, and the Republic of Ireland, which is part of the EU. Still, I’m dreading March 29, the day Brexit becomes official, as I think the global markets are going to take a big hit.
Let’s be clear: Globalism, like the internet, is here to stay, and no amount of nationalism, President Donald J. Trump, is going to make it go away. As for those in America who see an incorrect parallel between the UK and the EU and the American colonies and England, I would say that England is a sovereign country, unlike the colonies, that derives commercial benefits from being in the club that is the EU. Now the EU is not going to let England keep those benefits as it leaves. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, another grownup in the room, has made that clear. Well, duh.
We can only hope that — despite May’s best efforts — Parliament will somehow reject the deal and send Brexit back to the people for a vote on what was a nonbinding referendum to begin with.
Staying over on that side of the Pond, a rape trial in Ireland ended with the accused getting off on what will forever be known as “the thong-underwear defense.” It seems that the 17-year-old accuser was wearing lacy thong undies when she was attacked in an alley so, of course, she was asking for it. Yeah, right, let’s go with that. This in a week in which we learned that obstetricians focus on the health of babies to the exclusion of the women carrying them, with the United States leading developed countries in maternal mortality. With the Trump Administration making it increasingly difficult for women to obtain insured birth control, what more proof do we need that society is becoming more anti-woman?
When I read stories like these, I bless myself for never getting married and never getting pregnant. Once I realized I could at age 10 and became aware of men looking at me as a piece of meat – as I did in one horrifying incident at age 11 – I knew I would never marry and never get pregnant.
That decision made at menstruation delivered me into a brilliant life, enabling me to become a writer, particularly a novelist; and care for my beloved aunt, who raised me, in the end stage of her dementia. My life has enabled me, to be a mother to my home, my plants, my books – myself – as well as an aunt to a niece, her husband and two children; three nephews; a Chihuahua; and even an orphan elephant.
Look, someone has to have children and I bless those with the courage to do this. But there is more than one way to nurture. Some of us are what Jungian Esther Harding called “psychological virgins” – complete in ourselves, like Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom. Our integrity – an oft-misused word meaning “wholeness” – is paramount to our identities.
I’m not someone’s anything. I am always myself.