Pink Collar

If you’re reading this, you’re online. Go your favorite search engine and enter “pink collar”. You’ll get a definition along the lines of “Pertaining to the type of jobs, such as telephone operator or secretary, traditionally held by women.”

The expression is supposed to be analogous to “white collar” or “blue collar” jobs – designating a certain level of social status.

If you look a little further, you’ll get a plethora of articles and books with really positive titles like Beyond the Pink Collar. Now, I recognize that if I do a search on titles such as “administrative assistant” or “secretary”, I’ll get something a little more respectful.

But there is this general attitude that it’s somehow “unworthy” work to be a secretary, and if you’re intelligent, you should be moving up and on to other things more worthy of your time. Frankly, it’s started to get under my fingernails, which I do not file at my desk, thank you very much.

I’m the most fortunate of Administrative Assistants, and I know it. I have a pleasant environment in which to work, 95% of the time I am respected and appreciated, I can wear whatever the hell I want and I am paid well for my position. I know quite well that I’m lucky. I’ve worked other jobs where the attitude to me was horrid. That other 5% of the time reminds me of the general world attitude, and I don’t really get it from my co-workers but people outside my department.

You know what? It’s the feminists that make it worst. You see, the two jobs I like best and am most suited for, apart from writing, are secretary (or administrative assistant or whatever you want to call it), and homemaker. I have a managing temperament, I like to make things work smoothly, and I really do like being helpful. Yes, yes, yes, my IQ is as high or higher than my co-workers – people who have advanced degrees. (I work in a college). Yes, I am well-read and there’s not much they talk about that is over my head. (I confess to a complete ignorance of and lack of interest in French Surrealism). Other than for chasing money – something I only have limited interest in once bills are paid, I have no real reason to want to climb the career ladder. I like where I am. I hate the assumption that I have any need or desire to fight for social status or money, and I resent the idea that I am somehow “settling” or “letting the side down” if I make “traditionally female” choices.

What it really boils down to, I think, is a certain cultural attitude that one should want to climb the socio-economic ladder and if you do not, there is something wrong with you. I’ve lived all my life with people who have made career their focus. I can think of two for whom it is a joyful passion, and yes, they are both tops in their fields. They get respected. The thing is, I also like what I do, though maybe not with the intensity of the aforementioned gentlemen. But I do like my job far better than most of my co-workers. It would take a lot of money to move my ass from the chair I am in, and even then, I would approach the move with some trepidation. I can think of moves up that would be more or less what I am doing now, sure. After all, the old saw about executives doing more or less the same work as the average secretary has a lot of truth in it. And if offered such a job, I would take it and enjoy it.

But if the executive is respected for doing a job, then shouldn’t the poor little pink collar lady be respected for doing similar work? And shouldn’t the feminists writing those books like Beyond the Pink Collar be respectful, too? Don’t they realize that an admin did a lot of work to get the thing out?

Moving Tips

I do not consider myself an expert mover.  I did not grow up with a parent in the military, nor was I in the military myself.  However, I’ve moved six times now since I was 21 under a variety of conditions — having a leisurely month to pack, finding out a house has been sold out from underneath us and we had to move immediately, combining a three person household into a six person household, having to move 8 months pregnant, finding the right house on a whim and having to move in two weeks, moving 500 miles, moving seven blocks….

I find these damned moving advice sites to be worse than useless.  I have not once used professional movers, and have bought at the most six specialty boxes for odd items.  I do not buy enough boxes to move.  I cannot think of a more useless expense except under the most unique of circumstances.

While I do not color code boxes, yes, the advice on making it very clear what box goes where is only smart.  However, that seems a little obvious to me.  If you’ve enlisted some husky friends, and are feeding them beer as a bribe, ya need to make things short and obvious.

Another thing on the blisteringly obvious list — loading the truck so that things that need to be unpacked right away are the first things to leave the truck.  Oh and that thing about not loading a box to weigh more than fifty pounds?  Again this falls into the “no shit” category.  A big, strong guy can lift fifty pounds and carry it (hell, so can I), but if you’ve got a copier paper box, don’t load it up heavier than the eight reams of copy paper that is supposed to go into it.  The box is only designed to take that much weight.  Filling a banana box full of textbooks is mean to the people helping with your moving, even if they can lift it.

The thing about having services switched on before you get there?  Again, DUH!  I don’t know about you, but I do not want to live out of a cooler for longer than I have to and battery powered lamps just ain’t gonna cut it for light when you’re unpacking after dinner.  (If you’re moving a fridge, you might have to for a day or two.  You do want to make sure the confounded thing is clean before you move it).

It’s the esoteric stuff that’s more useful.  Things like —

  • Dust the damned bookshelves and other display cases  before you move ’em.
  • If you’re moving an item with drawers, tape or tie the drawers shut or remove them entirely.
  • For a short distance move, it is perfectly okay to move clothing in the drawers.
  • If there’s something you haven’t touched since you moved moved to your new place and you’ve been there more than three years, just get rid of it. That goes double for anything still in a sealed  moving box from the last move.
  • Don’t move any clothing that doesn’t fit.  It ain’t worth it.
  • Those ugly afghans and ratty towels you’ve got stuffed into the back of your linen closet make great packing material for things like glass fronted picture frames.
  • Paper plates, napkins and plastic cutlery can be your friend. You can make perfectly healthy quick meals of subs and sandwiches loaded with veggies.
  • If you clean your trashcans, you can use them as moving containers for things that are not easily breakable.
  • Have your toolbox be one of the things you pack last and unload first, you’re going to need it.
  • Hiring someone to move just your piano is probably a good idea
  • Clean out deep storage, and cabinets first. It will give you a clearer idea of how much there is to move, and will ease making a packing timetable.
  • Do make a packing timetable. If you don’t pace yourself, you’re going to make yourself sick.
  • Take breaks.  If you have to, use a timer.  Work for 45 minutes, and then take a fifteen minute break.  Drink a big glass of water.  (Yes, FlyLady is right about this, and trust me, you’ll be able to get stuff done faster than if you drive yourself nuts with no break and working until one in the morning).
  • Get as much sleep as you can.  If you have down time where you’re gonna be waiting, a nap is not a bad thing.  It doesn’t make you a slacker.  It makes you more efficient.  Power naps really do help.
  • If you have any sort of reaction to dust, make sure you have a non-drowsy antihistamine on hand.
  • Be meticulous about taking your vitamins. Same goes for your meds.
  • Check expiration dates on boxed and canned food. Don’t move anything that’s expired.
  • Spices don’t have a shelf life of more than a couple of years (less if you’re a foodie). Toss, toss, toss.
  • Things that might leak can be contained in ziplock bags. Make doubly sure that they are sealed well.
  • For your tupperware, no liddie, no movie. Toss ’em. Do the same with those fifty margarine and cool whip containers.
  • FlyLady’s concept of an office inna bag is a good one when you’re moving and might lose needed paperwork.  (I have a zippered notebook with some plastic folders inside and pockets for pens and stuff).
  • When I am doing tedious, repetitive work, I like to listen to music or audiobooks.  It makes the time go faster, and I am less likely to procrastinate on what needs to be done. (Harry Potter books have been my friend lately).
  • Force yourself to have a time to stop work in the evening and do something that will relax you.  You do need your sleep and if you go hammer and tongs at this, you’re going to be too spun up to sleep well.  Did I mention you will need your sleep?
  • Accept offers of help.

This is the kind of thing I find more useful than color coded boxes!

D'Une Certaine Age

I’m 36 and am rapidly approaching that stage in life where I can be une femme d’une certaine age. I’m looking forward to it.

Oh sure, we live in a culture that worships youth –and young was good. I liked the fact my breasts didn’t sag, that I had that smooth, soft skin. I liked the energy of youth and the lack of stretch marks on my belly. The wide open possibilities were fun and exciting. The lack of responsibilities that made it easier to concentrate on my obsessions. It was good. I won’t claim that I did not enjoy those advantages. I mourn them some.

But only some.

You see, at a certain age, your directness stops being offensive and personal power is accepted. You stop being a domineering bitch, and become a force to be respected. The elegant manicure stops looking vain and and the good jewelry no longer seems pretentious – like a girl playing dress-up. An understated style stops looking plain and starts looking elegant. A lifted eyebrow and smile can speak volumes that are actually listened to.

Those possibilities of youth become more real. You have the resources to accomplish them. You have more shading to your life, perspective and a latticework of structure from which to view and create your world. Life has almost certainly knocked you to the ground at least once, and you know in your bones that it doesn’t matter, because you know you can get back up every time. “Ma’am” becomes a badge of honor rather than a jab that tells you that you’re getting old.

You’re less patient with nonsense, more compassionate with real trouble. You have the wisdom to know the difference. You’re not so easily suckered by a sob story and you have the resources to help out when you really can make a difference.

There’s a balance that you get when you’re of a certain age, and it’s fun. You understand the ebb and flow of life better and don’t take everything so damned seriously. You understand that the cup of coffee after the hard labor is important – that the job is not really done until you’ve relaxed and enjoyed yourself after the labors. You understand that the silk scarf is just as important as the good kitchen knife, that life is too short for bad chocolate and that the youthful energy out there with the youngsters playing in the grass is as much for you to savor as for them.

Coping with Adult ADD

Dealing With ADD You’ve got a friend or a co-worker. Sometimes this person amazes you with the concentration he pours into his work, producing prodigious amounts of material with seeming ease and fluency.


He might be late a lot.

He nearly always forgets details. If you ask him to bring wine, salad dressing and croûtons to a gathering, chances are good that you’re going to be croutonless that evening – though the wine will probably be of some special vintage and he’ll entertain you with a story about it.

If he has a task to do – like mailing checks… Don’t count on him to do it. He might get them out on time, but if you’re out of stamps, he’ll know he cannot do the task until he gets stamps. He’ll either forget the stamps or forget to mail the checks AFTER he gets the stamps.

When you talk to him, chances are good that he’s jiggling his leg or playing with the change in his pocket or doodling. You wish he’d stop that crap and just PAY ATTENTION. Screw what’s on the damned radio, and LISTEN TO ME! You might often want to shout.

If you are dealing with someone with Attention Deficit Disorder, chances are good you are going to want to choke that person. It’s a pain in the butt to deal with, no question.

The thing is, it’s not hopeless. Really, it isn’t. It’s just that the person with ADD needs to be able to cope. Here’s some things to keep in mind:

  1. Ohhhhhh SHINY!The person who has ADD can make his natural tendencies work FOR him. I use a PDA with an audible beep to remind me when I need to do things. I make extensive use of color coding to get things done at work, as well. Make the “oooh! SHINY!” response work for you. You can only blow off a reminder if you’re giving first aid! You’re allowed to reschedule, if you absolutely cannot do something at that moment, but do not refrain from taking action on your reminder.
  2. Eliminate clutter as best you can.ADDers are not known for being very orderly. Don’t beat yourself up about it, but on the other hand, do eliminate clutter. The very last thing you want are distractions from what you are supposed to be doing.
  3. Timers are Your FriendHonest to goodness, no kidding, I schedule my day in 15 minute blocks. I do not even TRY to work on a project for more than 15 minutes at a time without taking a break. Because of my hyperfocus abilities, I can get a LOT done in those 15 minutes, so I make the most of them. By then, my brain does need a context switch, but that’s okay.
  4. LJ, Email and Chat Notifcations are Spawns of the Devil Don’t leave them running when you are trying to concentrate. Turn them off during scheduled task periods.
  5. Schedule playtime. Allow yourself time for breaks, where you can have unrestricted fun with ferret shock. Your brain actually needs it. You can run your email and chat notifications then. Enjoy!
  6. Screw verbal instructionsADDers suck at verbal instructions. I mean, REALLY suck. Badly. If you have to give them, let the ADDer take notes. If you can, give written ones. My own family indulges me by sending me emails about things and lets me copy them into my PDA. This really works wonders.

    I work in a fairly laid back office as a secretary, where email is the backbone of communication. I discovered that the people who sent me emails for task requests where the ones who got the most attention. I finally had to break down and explain to people who made requests of me verbally that I was not being inattentive by taking notes, but was actually doing my best to be as attentive and cooperative as possible.

Call to Baubo

My mother, her sisters, my grandmother and her sisters were and are pagan priestesses, but they’re not entirely aware of their role in life.

Specifically, they’re priestesses of Baubo — a crone Goddess dealing with life, death, fertility, and most importantly, female obscenity of the most joyful sort.

From early childhood, I knew the invocation of Baubo, though I did not know the significance of what I heard as I snuck around the corner to eavesdrop on the ritual.

A proper ceremony honoring the little Goddess involves chocolate and cookies and cake and snacks of the salty sort and wine and coffee and tea and sodas and candy. These goodies must be hand made and passed around and exclaimed over.

First, you would hear the high priestess’s voice, normally deep and roughened from years of smoking unfiltered cigarettes rise in pitch as she cried, “oooOOOOOOHHHHHHHHH MY GAWWWWWD!” as she bent forward slapping her hands on her thighs. The other priestesses would answer in a cackling laugh and the ritual would begin. Any men, upon hearing the Call to Baubo, would flee to the garage, or a workshop or to discuss a new car.

A Baubo ritual would always involve a discussion of men and children — always in the most humorous way possible. It was the responsibility of every priestess to make the others laugh, right down from the belly, until the tears flowed and the sides ached. Obscenity was important, as this was a fertility ritual at its core.

When a daughter of the family reached menarche, she was admitted as an acolyte priestess. It was her responsibility to fetch drinks, sample ALL the snacks and pronounce judgment over which were the best. It was also important that she learn to blush deeply as the ritual grew louder, the cackles rose higher and the humor more shocking. (For all priestesses of Baubo in my family pretended not to HAVE a sexuality until this time. Otherwise, it would spoil the initiation of the new acolytes).

In the cult of Baubo where I was initiated, priestesshood was given when one married and was allowed to join in the obscenity. But, there was one more step in this initiation. One more honor to bestow.

To be a full priestess, one had to have a child. Then, and only then, could one truly make the Call to Baubo and invoke the sacred ceremony.

For many years, we used to have a gathering, called “Sister’s Day”. We would meet once a month to invoke the Goddess, and drink our wine, eat our chocolate and lambaste our men.

I wonder if any of them ever realized that Sister’s Day was a Goddess invocation and how sacred it really was.

The Ten Commandments for Making Garb

  1. Thou shalt always measure twice and cut once.
  2. Thou shalt, when measuring for a bodice, remember that while the bodicegasm is a great Pleasure, thou art vulnerable to Rogues if thou faintest at Faire.
  3. Thou shalt wear thy home-made garb with Great Pride, for thou art learning a new skill
  4. Thou shalt not, if thou be a skilled tailor, call out the pattern names and numbers of costumes thou recognizest in Faire from the Big Three of Pattern Companies. Though shalt, instead, remember humbly the countless hours THOU spent using language Naughty in My Sight whilst trying to adapt or draft patterns when thou hadst but the skill of a small rodent on acid.
  5. Thou shalt not sneer at materialism when thou wearest Boots that cost thee more than thou wouldst spend on thy sofa or bed. (If thou sleepest on the sofa because thou cannot buy a bed, thou hadst even less room to talk).
  6. Thou shalt not refer to visible tights on a woman as “period” for late Tudor or Elizabethan garb. Thou shalt merely enjoy the scandalous sight. (We know thou art contemplating invisible tights and We are ashamed of thy lechery).
  7. Thou shalt always buy more thread than thou thinkest thou needs. Fabric stores will ignore thy pleas to open at two in the morning so that thou may complete garb thou shouldst have completed three weeks ago whilst thou wast wasting time in a flame war on the Internet.
  8. Thou shalt always use a new Needle appropriate to the weight of the fabric n for needles cost thee little and when thou hast used a needle for canvas on thy chemise, thou shalt feel a draft.
  9. Thou shalt not make garb carelessly when thou intendest to wear it “only one season”. It shall fall apart thy third wearing, causing thee to use language that thy four year old shall repeat from the top of the diving board at thy family reunion picnic, causing thy Aunt Reetzie to have a Stroke. When thy Aunt Reetzie recovers, she shall Strike thee from her will, thus leaving her worldly goods to thine older brother who shall Waste his inheritance by investing in the Stock Market rather than spending it sensibly on a new pair of custom boots.
  10. Thou shalt not covet thy sister wench’s rose. Thou shalt, too, receive one in time.