A STRONG WOMAN

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Not necessarily only a wink.

Seriously, who is truly that badass?

I am going to say I give it a moan, and then a little kvetch, and then a little retail therapy, and then a phone conversation with my mom, and then I do it, and then I give myself a wink.

Truth.

I think I am a life-long striver. And I think I learned it from my mom.

And I think my mom and I both have had the misfortune to not really have resources, support, or a clue about which is the best way to strive, for us.

At this point in my life I think some people, mostly the men I know, and mostly in a derogatory way, would call me ambitious. A couple of my male friends, recently, when I thought we were cool, told me I am, basically, demanding, and I won’t back down once I get an idea in my head, like that is a bad thing. It truly hurt.

I have learned how to go-along-get-along over my years as a grown-up on this planet.

I am 54 currently. I have finally managed to eke out some professional situations (read as: job) where I am the decider (hello dear W; how we miss you, and how we never thought we would!), and, dammit, I have good ideas, and I know what I want, and why should I defer to someone else?

I am still an adjunct teacher, and it is still a lot of work for paltry pay and a situation where my years, decades, of experience mean I know better than a hellova lot of the people I work for, but I quietly defer to the powers that employ me. If you’re a woman, anywhere on this earth, who has reached her fifties without loss of sanity, you have learned to swallow a lot. And I have.

Still, if I gave up teaching tomorrow, I would really miss my students.

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And if I think about what it is about me that makes students connect with me so well, and they do connect with me very well, it is because I am a very humble person. Humility is not something that I’ve put on, like a coat, or learned; I feel it is truly a part of who I have been from birth. And it’s not that I have a “low” opinion of myself. It is, in fact, that I view others, by and large, as my equals. We’re all in the same boat, whether you are more or less educated than me, richer or poorer, shorter or taller, etc., we are in the same boat: life is not long enough, it is full of land mines and also beauty, and we all share the human condition. Just because I achieved an education before my students did, I am not better. I am still a lousy speller with a lot of mistakes in me. So many “professors” I have met over the years are better…. than everyone. How can a student possibly approach those teachers? No one has to crawl or scrape around me.

In the past year or so, I have become a MAC user with an iPhone, and conquering those two bits of technology has made me feel successful. I have become the leader of a very successful writing group. I have become the owner, founder, and grand poobah of my own publishing company, I have a marriage that works; I have a daughter who loves me like crazy who I love like crazy; I have 5 cats who jockey to sit next to me on the sofa, and a dog who is bonkers over me, and I just became the only employee of my local chamber of commerce where, pending the approval of my board, I am able to come up with ideas and try them out. People are seeing me, finally, as competent. I have always been competent, though I did not know how to get people to see me through that lens, but, finally they are.

Does that make me a demanding “won’t back down,” and let’s be honest, the implication was, “bitch?” No. It does not. It makes me a striver.

In addition to teaching at two schools, having a workshop at my house twice a month, running Devil’s Party Press, and becoming the director of the chamber of commerce here in my little town, I have also just taken a tutoring job for the summer, at 16 bucks an hour. Not exactly peanuts, but not a fair wage for someone with my degrees and experience. But, I applied for it; I interviewed, and I am happy to have it, because the teaching jobs go away in the summer, and my family needs me to earn income. I feel proud that I jumped on the opportunity, and that I will be earning money.

And if I sound not so humble about it, well, it’s because I am proud of being…

A striver.

Not an ambitious bitch.

Not a full-of-myself person who knows everything and won’t back down on her opinion.

I am a striver.

I work hard, all the time, all hours of the day and night, to try to do my best work no matter whether it is paid, or unpaid.

I do not look a challenge in the eye and wink, though I did quite like the moxie of that magnet, and I did buy it for myself.

I look a challenge in the eye and I give it a moan, or a little kvetch, or a little retail therapy, and then a phone conversation with my mom….

And then I strive.

And yeah, when I am able to be successful, I might be proud enough of myself to give myself a wink. And why the fuck not, eh ladies?

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