The Kids Are All Right

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The first thing I mothered was a turtle the size of a silver dollar pancake that I bought for 88 cents at Woolworth’s. The store clerk handed over Herman (I believe there was some legal requirement then that all turtles be named Herman) in a tiny Chinese takeout box, and his little claws scrabbled against the waxy interior all the way home in the family Dodge. In a display of largesse, my mother financed a home for Herman, a clear, plastic, oval dish with a miniature staircase leading up to an island with a jaunty green-leaved plastic palm tree stuck in it. A little water in the bottom, Herman plopped atop the atoll, and my 7-year-old maternal instincts kicked right … Read More

Milwaukee County Supervisor Notices Hillary is A Girl

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Milwaukee County Supervisor Deana Alexander has taken to referring to Hillary Clinton as “Ovary.” Alexander hopes her Twitter hashtags #OvaryClinton and #OperationOvary will be mistaken for insightful political commentary. They are anything but. Alexander’s rhetorical move to name-calling based on body parts is not only gender bullying, but reveals a self-loathing and desperate desire to gain the approval of misogynists. Alexander’s attempt to act like one of the boys by insulting women actually insults the boys. Not all men fear women (or ovaries). Not all men think of women who trash other women for being women as being particularly shrewd and nuanced. If Alexander wants to play with the big guns (or at least bigger guns) of political leadership of … Read More

County Supervisor Notices Hillary Is A Girl

Pamela Hill NettletonEssaysLeave a Comment

Milwaukee County Supervisor Deanna Alexander has taken to referring to Hillary Clinton as “Ovary.” Alexander hopes her Twitter hashtags #OvaryClinton and #OperationOvary will be mistaken for insightful political commentary. They are anything but. Alexander’s rhetorical move to name-calling based on body parts is not only gender bullying, but reveals a self-loathing and desperate desire to gain the approval of misogynists. Her attempt to act like “one of the boys” by insulting women actually insults the boys. Not all men fear women (or ovaries). Not all men think of women who trash other women for being women as being particularly shrewd and nuanced. If Alexander wants to play with the big guns (or at least bigger guns) of political leadership of … Read More

Alone, But Not Lonesome

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Not to get all tragic, but when I go out, I go out alone. It happens to be the way I roll these days. I dine alone. I go to movies alone. I attend the theater alone. Table for one. A single ticket. Just one ice cream cone. I am fine with this. It’s Milwaukee that seems to have a problem. I have practiced my aberrant lifestyle in New York, in London, in Lugano, Switzerland, and along the decidedly uncosmopolitan north shore of Minnesota. Never have I been as challenged and pitied as I have been since I moved to Milwaukee. When I and my latest Nora Roberts novel crave lobster, the maître d’ looks past my shoulder at the … Read More

When Writers Write about Writers

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When the voice of a superb writer is stilled, a community of people who make their living by putting feelings into wise and nuanced words does what it does best. Writers write about writers we have lost. The colleagues and friends of New York Times media columnist David Carr have remembered and mourned him since his untimely death in the newsroom on February 12. Before he was published in The Atlantic Monthly and the Times, Carr wrote for and then edited an alternative weekly newspaper in Minneapolis/St. Paul called the Twin Cities Reader. The Reader took on civic issues of urban policy and social justice, running long form stories that annoyed and delighted people, depending on whether or not you … Read More

Why Do Men Hit?

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THINGS TO CONSIDER while dating: Do we both like Szechuan? Does he get along with my cat? Will he kill me? For women, the chief relationship issue isn’t how to find one. It’s how to survive one. If a woman is abused, beaten, or killed, it will most likely be by her husband or her boyfriend. Being hit—eventually—is a very real risk a woman runs when she agrees to go to dinner and a movie. It’s a risk she can no longer afford to minimize or ignore, because all of us, from the news media to the courtroom, hold her responsible for his behavior. Over and over again, when domestic violence is discussed, victims, shelter staff, divorce lawyers, domestic court judges, … Read More

The (Belated) Graduate

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I GRADUATED FROM college last month, at the ripe old age of never-you-mind. Mine might’ve been the last cohort of young people who could earn a good living without initials stuck to the end of our names. While the boys older than us stayed on in grad school to avoid Vietnam, we Nixon-era kids dropped out as often as we graduated. Back in the 1970s, I, along with half the teenage population of the country, was in journalism school trying to be Bernstein and Woodward. With two or three reporting courses under my belt, I left school behind and set up for the real world to be a writer. Tolstoy, Twain, Thackeray and people whose names begin with other consonants, as … Read More

Mother & Child Reunion

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I WASN’T TOO HAPPY about him leaving at kindergarten, either. As I watched my son Ian race up the steps to the school’s front door, he suddenly looked defenseless and tiny. I had obviously not been feeding him enough, causing malnourishment in some essential way. He bravely disguised it with that twinkle in his eye, that flashing dimple in his cheek, and that lilt in his step. When he broke away from my hand to run into the classroom and grab a sheet of green construction paper with a yelp of pure glee — “Cool! I can draw Ninja Turtles!”— I knew he was being strong for his mother. Driving home, I had to pull over and work my way through … Read More

The Best of All Worlds

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Being half Irish and half Norwegian means, among other things, never having learned to cook   MY FATHER WEARS orange on St. Patrick’s Day. According to him, it is the only honorable thing for a Norwegian to do. He maintains that the most worthwhile traits among the Irish were deposited by Vikings who visited the Emerald Shores in ancient times. My mother is Irish. She believes that Scandinavian blood is much improved by the wearin’ o’ the green. “My, but that’s an interesting combination,” the nuns at St. Raphael’s Elementary School used to say to me, referring not to my clothes but to my cultural heritage. My Irish grandmother’s bedroom was a library of enlarged-type issues of The Liguorian; my … Read More