RSS Feed

Monthly Archives: February 2014

Our trip to Bricco

Last Saturday, I planned a night out in Boston for my husband’s 49th birthday.  We had planned to go to Boston to do a little Christmas/birthday shopping for a new pair of shoes I really wanted.  But it snowed.  So I decided to combine the shopping trip with a whole night out.  Plus, we had heard from an Italian waiter from Tuscany, in Providence, that a restaurant called Bricco, on the North End, had wild boar sauce.  When we were in Greve, Tuscany, back in 2008, it was one of our most memorable meals.  I made a reservation at Bricco earlier that week and booked a room at my now favorite, dog friendly hotel chain, Kimpton.  We stayed at the Onyx hotel on the north end of Boston right near TD Garden, formerly known as the Fleet Center, formerly known as the Boston Garden.  (Why couldn’t they just leave the original name alone?)

My purpose here is not to write about our night out and tell you about how great our meal was, which it was.  Instead I need to write about a moment of bystander intervention/interruption on behalf of our lovely server Carla.  We were seated, upstairs, at a 2 top.  Shortly thereafter a 4 top of two couples were sat.  They seemed a little tipsy, but we had had a few drinks that afternoon before heading out, so who was I to judge?

I overheard a conversation between our server, Carla, who I will describe as a drop dead gorgeous Asian Jennifer Aniston, and the large bald man at the 4 top.  The men were sitting on the outside chairs and the women by the window, so all of Carla’s interactions were with the men.  This conversation was specifically about WHAT her race was.  And I heard her say “I get that a lot.”  And I also heard her say, “Oh that’s ok, really,” in reference to something racist one of them said about how she “looked.”  Then, the larger bald man (this is really the only way I can describe him) reaches his hand around Carla’s back and kind of pats her ass.  My husband looks at me with his mouth open in a “WHAT THE FUCK” kind of way.  I look at him.  “Did you see that?”  He tells me he did.  I look at him and warn him, “I might have to say something.”  He smiles at me like “you go, girl.”

She comes over to check on us.  “How are you doing over here?”  I look at her.  “We are fine,” I say, “but how are you?”  She leans over and says she is so uncomfortable.  I tell her that we were too and I might have to say something to the large bald man.  She tells me not to worry about it.

Fast forward to the end of our meal.  I pay the very expensive, probably most expensive meal I have bought for just the two of us, regretting that I didn’t add another wild boar sauce to go, put on my jacket, grab my purse and take a deep breath.  I walk to the large bald man and his table, put my hand on his back, lean in and say “In the future, you shouldn’t touch your server.”

I turn and walk out mustering all the confidence I can in my short dress and new shoes.

When I get outside I tell the doorman that I called out a customer on his behavior toward our server, Carla, who was awesome, and I wanted to give him a heads up, in case the guy was pissed or gave her shit for my comment.

I’m trying to live my life in a way that I never have to say “I should’ve said something.” Or maybe I’m just getting braver as I move into middle age or maybe I just don’t give a shit anymore.   I hope they were kind to her when she had to go back to the table.  I wish I could’ve been there to hear the conversation that took place amongst the four of them after I walked out.  Did I do the right thing?

For me, watching a woman get harassed next to me by someone with more power than her is not something I can sit idly by and do.  I think if more of us had this attitude, sexism, racism and sexual violence would be less acceptable.  When is the last time you felt your heart pounding in your chest as you addressed someone’s horrible behavior?  It does get easier each time.

A Valentine Birthday for Carol Kathleen Muse

My first book was called The Chosen Baby.  My parents always called me “special” (don’t laugh!) because I was chosen, i.e,. adopted.  One of the infamous stories, written in my baby book, was about my Grampa Glines and I, watching Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom.  I made some comment about an animal and he said to me “Gee, Juli, you’re very intelligent.” I, allegedly, looked at him, angrily, and said, “No, I’m not!  I’m adopted!” 

That identity has defined me in many ways.  My freshman year of high school I chose to do my first research paper on which states allowed adoptees to find their birth records .I vehemently believed it should be legal for everyone.  I knew I would search for my birthparents when I was older, and always to thank them for the sacrifice they made for me.  I was never angry. Somehow I knew that they had made a decision they needed to and I could not judge that.  In some ways I think that is why I never had an unplanned pregnancy.  I knew that I would only become pregnant on my terms. 

But my birthday was always another story.  The older I got, each birthday was a reminder that my birthparents were another year older.  Or maybe dead.  There was always that.  So every Valentines Day, filled with love and presents, there was a deep longing. 

When I met my husband, in 1992, I met his bartender, whose aunt is an “angel.”  She finds people’s birthfamilies.  This search lasted for five years.  Each birthday I always said “Will I ever find them?”  He always said, “You will.”  And he meant it. 

I talked to my birthmother in 1997, the night before my 28th birthday.  That moment changed our lives. 

I now have three sisters and three brothers I never knew.  I am very close to most of them.  I have a strong relationship with both my birthparents and their wonderful partners.  I’ve spent time with these people, my blood, and learned so much about who I am from a nurture versus nature perspective that so many never can. 

Sometimes when people say to me, that’s so special having a birthday on Valentines Day, I think, yes it is.  But I also think about the 19 year old woman who gave up her baby on Valentines Day, when women were forced and coerced and hated for their sexuality.  Happy Valentines Day to my birth/adopted/step family because I’m not just special, you are, and I’m lucky for that.  XO

A Free Day

Today is my third snow day of the school year. Two of them were during school break, when it is a bit quieter.  But this is the second week of school so things are hopping and lots of events and meetings and workshops were cancelled today.  But what I’m reflecting on most on this “free day” is how I balance or do not balance the opportunity to catch up on things and the opportunity to totally “chillax.”  (I heard that word was overplayed, but I like it). 

I woke up at 4:56am to the sound of a text message alerting me the campus was closed.  This was followed shortly by a phone call telling me the same thing.  I rolled back over to snuggle while Jeff snoozed.  When he got into the shower, I got up to watch the news because it’s even more exciting to see that you don’t have to work, officially, on channel 10 news.  And I thought I might go back to sleep after he left for work, at approximately 6:15am, in the snowstorm.  Instead I snuggled up on the couch with the dogs and watched House of Cards.  I had only seen one episode.  I watched four of them while drinking coffee and eating oatmeal. 

Then I felt bad that I wasn’t doing anything USEFUL, so I made a list of what I wanted to accomplish today.

*Paint touch up
*Post Office
*Schedule for play


But I really wanted to take a nap.  Instead, I checked my email and my bank account, and cancelled my hair appointment because I was not driving to Dartmouth, where my work is, if I didn’t have to go to work.  Then I decided if I was going to work out, I had to do it before lunch.  It’s now or never.  I researched a few moves from Boutique Fitness, where I work out a few times a week, wrote them down and did a hardcore 30 minute workout. 

5 minutes walking on treadmill uphill
3 reps/30 seconds each of the following:
mountain climbers
split squats
jumping jacks
low plank
plank jumps
Followed by 6 minutes of abs and a 2 minute stretch.


Then I was gross so I took a shower.  After my shower I needed lunch so I whipped up a tuna sandwich.  I sat down at the computer while I ate so I could listen to a recording from work for an appeal I am doing.  It wouldn’t play correctly so I decided that was a sign I shouldn’t be doing work. 

I watered the plants.  Some of them were desperate for water.  When I finished, I went to cross it off the list and noticed that I hadn’t even put *water the plants on the list.  Dammit. 

I debated going outside to shovel or attempting to go to the post office and grab some food for dinner.  It was still precipitating freezing rain. That was a out.  Instead I went into my mother-in-law’s freezer, which we were supposed to clean out when they left for Florida, in October, and scored some hamburger that she will definitely throw out when they come back in May, if we don’t eat it.  I looked up chili recipes. 

Then I did all the dishes.  There were a lot.  We’ve been slacking on dishes the past few nights.  Then I made the chili.  Woo Hoo!  Three things off the list!  Actually four, because watering the plants should have been there anyway.  Then I debated taking a nap. 

I emailed my husband to pick up cheese, yogurt and wine or beer to go with my hacked together chili.  He emailed me back that they were closing early, 4pm.  (Sidebar:  He drove in the snow falling at 1-2 inches an hour to go to work and then they close early so he can drive in the snow/freezing rain mix?  What is the difference of an hour?)  I looked at the clock.  3:00pm. it’s getting too dark to do the touch up paint so I talk myself out of that.   That just leaves my blog and the play schedule.  I check my email.  The producer hasn’t sent it to me yet.  Guess I’ll blog.

Am I insane?  Can any of you reading this relate?  I really just wanted to watch more House of Cards or Girls or whatever TV series I haven’t watched lately.  I wanted to read and maybe take a nap.  But there’s this gnawing conscience or should I say, voice in my head, telling me THIS IS YOUR OPPORTUNITY TO GET CAUGHT UP!  That same voice is telling me that chillaxing would be very, very bad. 

I have some good friends and family who think I find it hard to relax.  They are probably right, but when I think about successful people, really successful people, you know the kind who are doctors and write fiction, ON THE SIDE?  Those people.  When I think of those people, I think they would never lounge around with their hounds catching up on their House of Cards on a snow day.  This is what I think.  Do I even know anyone like that?  Maybe, but probably not. 

And I do find ways to relax.  I love to read, but I don’t do it enough.  I love to do yoga, but I don’t do it enough.  I love to hang out with our friends and eat together or play cards.  I find that relaxing. 

I want to understand where the guilt comes from.  I believe it is gendered, with some exceptions.  I think this guilt is similar to the guilt that most mothers feel about not doing enough for their kids and thus sacrificing their own well-being because of it.  But I don’t have kids, so I’m making a pretty big leap here.  I just think my husband could care less if shit gets done.  Not that he doesn’t do shit, but he embraces chillaxing wholeheartedly, while I worry about it. 

So, now my blog is done.  And while I was writing it, the producer sent me the schedule.  So I guess now I can go work on that.  Or maybe I’ll just go sit on the couch and chillax.




my feminist praxis

critical reflections on my feminist praxis: activism, motherhood, and life

The Feminist Critic

Providing weekly critiques of theatre, film, books, politics and pop culture from a feminist perspective.