Merry Christmas, Thief

To the person who stole my identity last week:

We need to talk.  Your timing was, shall we say, suboptimal.  I realize you probably thought you were being helpful, applying for all those credit cards using my name, date-of-birth, and social security number.  The truth is, I simply don’t need six additional cards.  But thanks.

I loved reconnecting with my banker, financial planner, insurance company, tax preparer, and creditors, actual and potential, far and wide.  I particularly enjoyed my certified correspondence with the IRS – such a jovial lot, based in Fresno, CA, the gang capital of the republic formerly known as the US.

I’ll invoice you for the time I spent untangling your mess (approximately 116 hours, and counting).  Do tell me your most accurate address.  My last hourly rate was as a family physician (but, of course, you already know that).  I’ll be sure to extrapolate up for cost-of-living increases.

So.  Since you and I, heretofore referred to as Iyou (not to be confused with Ioyou) are now joined in an unholy union, let’s establish a few ground rules:

1)    Iyou am expecting 26 people for Christmas dinner.  I hope you know how to cook.  And wash dishes.  Please plan to be cordial.  If you aren’t, we’ll seat you next to my father-in-law, former president of the Minnesota State Bar Association.

2)    Rafa the Pomeranian is quite ill and requires twice daily dosing of an entire bagful of drugs.  Iyou lovingly crush all pills, mix in the powders, add fish oil and Co-Q10, and swirl all of it in unsalted peanut butter for his royal furness.  Your assistance with this matter, as well as the middle-of-the-night-potty-breaks-due-to-the-lasix-and-spironolactone, is expected.

3)    You, not Iyou, need to work on budgeting and a long-term legal financial plan.  We, Ace and I, will recommend appropriate coursework.  At this time, we think it’s best that you not have unfettered access to myour credit cards.

4)    By the way, there will be no conjugal visits with my husband.  I realize he is quite charming, adorable, and mostly irresistible.  Some say he bears a startling resemblance to Donnie Wahlberg.  However, Iyou is not allowed in the marital bed.  Only I.

5)    Did I mention that you better know how to cook?  In fact, Iyou has little interest in most things culinary, so perhaps you could take over in this regard.

6)    Iyou spend much of myour day reminding the tween – anything from brushing teeth, to shoveling, to unloading the dishwasher.  Patience is a virtue that, based on the aforementioned credit card situation, you may want to develop.  Trust me, Iyou’ll need it.

7)    Iyou volunteer with the music program at The Big E’s school.  Piano proficiency is non-negotiable, including sight-reading skills.  If you don’t already know how to play, chop chop.  (Or should I say chopsticks.)

8)    Plan to brush up on your poop-scooping, laundry folding, vacuuming, dishwashing, mail sorting, and snowshoveling skills.  Iyou must understand how to deal with the snowblower, the particular oil/gas mixture, the titchy choke, the angles of the snowchute.  This is the glamorous life you select when you steal the identity of a Minnesotan.  I hope you like lutefisk.

In conclusion, Santa knows whether you’ve been naughty or nice.  And Karma is a fickle bedpartner.  #WatchYourBack.

 

Musical Moment

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The Darkest Days

The first week of December, a young Minnesota mother died by suicide.  The effects of her death rippled through my FaceBook feed, particularly impacting the breastfeeding, attachment parenting, and ECFE communities.

I read some of the details of her story, how she leaves behind two young boys.  Here is my confession: My first reaction was, “How could she do that to her children?

This response is not helpful.

Let’s change the story.  A youngish man, say 46 years old – I’m taking creative license with “young” –  a youngish man lives with his spouse and children in a modest home in the Seward neighborhood of Minneapolis.  He works in the facilities management department of the neighboring hospital.  (I think this week it’s called the University of Minnesota Medical Center, West Bank.)  He doesn’t visit the doctor much, but gets his annual flu shot.  He considers himself to be “pretty healthy” and doesn’t worry a whole lot about the extra 10-15 pounds that he’s carrying around.

One day, this man is out shoveling snow.  He experiences sudden crushing chest pressure and keels over dead on his sidewalk.

We say, “Oh no!  What a terrible tragedy!  How can we support his family in their time of need?”  We do not say, “How could he do that to his children?”

Or how about the 35-year-old woman who was diagnosed with diabetes at age ten?  She manages her blood sugars well with the assistance of an insulin pump.  She follows her doctor’s recommendations to the best of her ability.  One summer day, she’s barefoot on the beach of Lake Nokomis and steps on a piece of broken glass.  It’s a small piece, and initially she doesn’t even notice the injury due to the peripheral nerve damage from her diabetes.  She goes about her life and several days later, she takes off her socks at night and sees some drainage on the cotton.  She inspects her feet and discovers an infection in one of her toes.  Her family doctor examines the situation, removes a shard of glass, and prescribes an appropriate antibiotic.  Forty-eight hours later, she is admitted to the hospital with cellulitis.  Despite the best efforts of modern medicine, she subsequently dies of overwhelming sepsis.

We do not say, “How could she do that to her children?”

Chest pressure is a symptom of heart disease.  Streaky skin redness and swelling are symptoms of cellulitis.

Thoughts of suicide are symptoms of mental illness.

Without treatment, heart disease can lead to sudden cardiac death due to acute myocardial infarction.  Without treatment, and sometimes even with treatment, cellulitis can lead to overwhelming sepsis and death.

Without treatment, mental illness can lead to thoughts of self-harm and to death by suicide.

Let’s put it another way:

Heart disease : Fatal MI              Mental Illness : Suicide

People who have personally experienced mental illness know that when you’re feeling bad, when you’re standing at the bottom of the pit, or lying in a fetal position in the toxic sludge at the bottom of the pit, it’s hard to be your most rational self.  It’s hard to say, “Hey Self – remember all those coping strategies you’ve been working on for, literally, years?  Remember that appointment you have tomorrow with your therapist?  Remember all those friends who love you and would walk through fire to pull you out of your Hell?”

There’s a biological explanation for this.  In times of stress, our bodies are programmed to revert to the basic responses of fight or flight.  We don’t stand around evaluating our options when a semi is barreling down on us.  “Hm – According to physics, I need to move exactly 1.25 feet per second in a westward direction in order to avoid being pancaked.”  Our cerebral cortices go “off-line” and our bodies simply react.  That’s a good thing when a semi is barreling down on us.

During a mental health crisis, our bodies perceive extreme stress, and higher-level information processing is simply unavailable.  Off-line.  No measured reasoning, no rational planning for the future, no weighing of pros and cons.

Suicide is an eternal flight response.

My heart breaks for the children of the woman who died earlier this month.  I send my love to all those touched by her life and her story.

To everyone who experiences mental illness, please know this:  I love you.  You are loved.  You are a treasured light on this earth.  We, your community, will help you out of the pit.  We don’t expect you to climb out entirely on your own.  You are not alone.  We will walk with you through the valley of the shadow.  Just cry out, whimper if it’s all you have left in you.  Tell us you need help and We Will Help You.

I love you.  You are loved.

And to those who enjoy good mental health – how can you shine your light into someone else’s darkness?  How will you help them escape the pit?  And by the way, I love you, too.

 

Musical Moment

 

 

 

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The Non-Reproducible Cheeseball

Food management is not one of my strengths.  I cook because we eat, not from a place of wholesome domestic joy.  Over the years, Ace and I have strategized approaches to meal-planning: Monday is Fish Night, Tuesday is Taco Tuesday, Wednesday is We-forgot-to-go-to-the-grocery-store-so-we’re-ordering-pizza Night, etc.  If Ace were the Home CEO, I’m sure the plan would be implemented successfully.  With me at the home helm, well, I’m happy if I cook something a couple times a week.

Lack of planning might lead to excessive food waste if not for the Savior of Questionable Foods, Ruth Lippin, my beloved mother.

Frugal is my mom’s middle name.  Seriously.  RFL.  Ruth can make a box of ziplock baggies last a lifetime.  Wash, rinse, repeat.

Mom once objected when I threatened to toss a pile of moldy cheese leftovers in the trash.  (Why can’t anyone ever eat the last bits of a chunk of cheese?)  “I’ll make them into a cheeseball,” she said.  “Uh, okay?” I replied.

Now her cheeseballs are famous.  I cleaned out our cheese drawer two weeks ago and delivered the dregs to Mom.  She got out her Cuisinart, pushed the magic button, and VOILA!  She took the cheeseball to a party with some nice crackers.

“Ruth!  This is the best cheeseball I’ve ever tasted!  You must give me the recipe!”

RoFL

There’s a metaphor in here.  Can you find it?

 

Musical Moment 

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Guest Post Monday – Ode to a Black Cooking Pot

My parents accumulate people.  There were always extras around our home, for Thanksgiving, for Christmas, for Sunday afternoon generic communing.  Mom and Dad downsized about ten years ago.  Fortunately, they didn’t downsize their desire to informally adopt a lovely variety of strays.

We met Siya Ndwandwe when he was a freshperson at Macalester College, my mom’s alma mater.  My mother heard from the International Student Host Coordinator that Siya, native to Swaziland, had nowhere to go for the winter break!  He lived with my parents for a couple weeks and they took over as his official Host Grandparents.

Siya is a lovely man.  He visited his family last summer and photographed his (biological) grandma’s cooking pot.  Today he wrote an ode to the cooking pot.  Here it is:

“You round-bellied son of a god,
Black as the night,
Unapologetically black.
The hush songs you sing
Bring neighbours, near and far
As the big brown logs burn bellow your belly.
You were there at my uncle’s funeral,
You were there at the family reunion,
Just there, doing your thing, without care!
You three legged, son of a god.
You cool, centered, and care-free son of a god.”

Thanks, Siya, for letting me post!

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Thanksgiving – Off the Beaten Path

So.  Family and Friends.  Let’s just get that one out of the way right off the bat.  Great.  Here’s a list of other stuff I’m thankful for in no particular order:

1) curiosity

2) pain sensation

3) music

4) butter

5) dreams

6) indoor plumbing

7) color

8) safe drinking water

9) neuronal plasticity

10) creativity

11) the reticuloendothelial system (apparently the preferred term is now the mononuclear phagocytic system – I’m officially old)

12) the Bill of Rights

13) Iris the now deceased yellow labrador retriever who ate my grandmother’s antique settee during a windstorm

14) Henry the late irascible terrier chihuahua mutt who selected Ace as my future mate

15) dead Teddy, the furless geriatric pomeranian who bit everyone but me

16) community

17) empathy

18) books that keep me up till 1 am against my will

19) the sewer system

20) sexuality

21) emotion

22) the mucociliary escalator

23) and YOU

What would you add to the list?

 

Musical Moment

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My Tiny Revolution

This past week has been – uh – interesting.  I’m not sleeping particularly well and am nearing the point where I’ll need to withdraw completely from all sources of media.

I decided to take some Tiny Steps in a Tiny Revolution, pretty much to keep my sanity.  (The Tiny House thing never really worked for me, but a Tiny Revolution?  That’s a cause I can get behind.)

Here are the Tiny Steps in my Tiny Revolution thus far:

1) I greeted strangers at Target with eye contact, a smile, and a “Good Morning.”  It went well.  A few folks didn’t hear me or pretended not to hear me but the vast majority smiled and greeted me right back!

2) Tiny Step One was exhausting and I recovered by doing Tiny Step Two: eating more locally-sourced cookies.  The particular cookies that revived me after Step One were conjured at the Positively Third Street Bakery of Duluth, MN.

3) I refreshed my memory on the Electoral College Situation and vowed to ask Someone Smart how it could be overhauled.

4) I read a nice predictable romance novel that used all the reassuring romance novel words, tidbits like “frisson” and “moue.”  The presence of semi-realistic sex was a refreshing surprise.

5) I didn’t ask anyone to unfriend me on FaceBook.  If you voted for Trump, I would welcome an opportunity to engage in civil discourse around your personal beliefs, preferably accompanied by something hard-core – chocolate flourless cake with fudge sauce would be a good start since I’m not really one for the drink.

6) I wrote a riff on Margaret Wise Brown’s Goodnight Moon.  You can catch it here if you missed it on Wednesday.

7) I distributed many hugs and will continue to be free with my love.

8) Ace moved out of our marital bed into the guest room recently when I caught a cold.  During his absence, I replaced him with a pile of nice fluffy clean unfolded laundry.  Yesterday, I folded all the laundry, put it away, and ordered Ace back into our bed.  He whined a bit about my snoring but I know that he knows that we know that it’s best to keep those you love close at hand in uncertain times.

9) We used to do “Rose & Thorn” at night, naming one good thing and one less good thing.  Now we do “Three Roses.”  We end each day with three positives apiece = nine positives overall.  A veritable rose bouquet.

10) I reconnected with a family that I met eight years ago.  They arrived in the United States as refugees and are now US citizens, working Americans, homeowners, residents of a thriving racially and culturally diverse suburban neighborhood, and parents/grandparents of a new generation.  This is America at its best.

What Tiny Steps are you taking in your Tiny Revolution?

Musical Moment

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Goodnight Doom

In the great oval room

There is a telephone

With the nuclear neumes

And a dead dream of -

She-POTUS slaying the Agent of Doom

The BA from Wellesley and Yale JD

Just couldn’t win over misogyny

 

And a red Senate

And carmine House

Are dropping their gloves

“Get ready to oust!”

And a Combover keen to grope gals in the tush

Says “I’ll soon be POTUS!” to pal Billy Bush

 

Goodnight goon

Goodnight buffoon

Goodnight Agent Orange, Demon of Doom

Goodnight phoney

And goodnight Comey

Goodnight emails

And goodnight “Me!” males

Goodnight “Make America…”

And goodnight fake America

 

Goodnight Birthers

Goodnight Party of Tea

Goodnight POA daughters

And goodnight Melani-

Goodnight pussy

And goodnight piece of ass

You messed with The Pantsuit, you Creature of Crass

 

Goodnight Benghazi

And goodnight Neo-Nazis

Goodnight Johnson

And goodnight Weiner

(Can’t we get leadership with a vageener?)

Goodnight Combover

And goodnight MiGs

Goodnight nobody

Goodnight fascist pigs

And goodnight to Narcissus, whose hands are not big

 

Goodnight to the sane ones

Sleep well the night through

Because in the morning

We’ve got work to do

 

Musical Moment

 

Thank you to Margaret Wise Brown.

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Stuff You Say If You’re Lynne Rossetto Kasper

Dear Ms. Kasper:

Rick Nelson, our local food writer for the Star Tribune, wrote a lovely article about YOU in the Taste section, October 27, 2016.  An article titled “The Soup You’ll Make All Winter” certainly captures attention.

Let me share with you my personal version of Dante’s Inferno:

First Circle of Hell: Prepare appetizers for a crowd of 150, focussing, naturally, on locally sourced ingredients.  It’s Minnesota.  In February.  Think squash.

Second Circle of Hell: Dip 9000 strawberries in four types of chocolate.  Artfully angle the chocolate lines to best effect.  Strizzle complementary colors across the dipped berries.

Third Circle of Hell: Revamp the school lunch program for the Saint Paul Schools, accommodating nut allergies, gluten intolerance, picky eaters, the full gamut of dairy options, and -

You get the picture.  I don’t love cooking.

Rick Nelson does, or at least he loves eating.  He recorded a meet-n-greet session with you at Cooks of Crocus Hill where you prepared harira, a traditional Moroccan soup, live, in-studio.

(Fourth Circle of Hell: Host a live cooking event.  Be perky and approachable.  And produce a delicious end-product.)

I decided to bite the baguette and make the soup.  I thought you should know that I experienced a bit of a language barrier in attempting to interpret your comments and the recipe itself.

1) You use a number of interesting adjectives such as “good-quality-tasting” extra-virgin olive oil, “freshly grated” orange zest, and “freshly ground” black pepper.  I’m guessing my standards are slightly different from yours.

2) The verbs are also intriguing.  Regarding the aforementioned black pepper, you claim “that pepper just sings.”  I heard no singing, though “O Mio Babbino Caro” would’ve been a lovely choice.  You say “bring to a gentle bubble.”  With reference to cooking verbs, I understand “boil” and “simmer” and that is all.  I cranked up the knob on our central burner, the one that sets off the smoke alarms due to heat, and hoped for the best.

3)  You do not recommend attempting this soup in a slow cooker, claiming that the “sauté, that sizzle, is activating those flavors.”  Another incomprehensible cooking verb – sizzle?  Next time around, I will be attempting this soup in a slow cooker.  I thought you should know.

4) I ROFL’d (my sources inform me that this involves a fit of hilarity and a horizontal surface) over the paragraph about buying whole spices and grinding them in a coffee grinder that I could purchase at a garage sale.

(Fifth Circle of Hell: Grind spices on-demand for Wolfgang Puck, Emeril Lagasse, Anthony Bourdain, and Gordon Ramsay.)

5) To continue the spice theme, I was completely baffled by your admonition: “don’t put raw spices into things, because they’re dead.  You always want to warm up your spices, open them up, get them alive.”  In my mind, “open them up” is something you do when laparoscopic surgery runs amok, as in, “Crap.  I nicked the aorta.  Looks like we’re gonna hafta open her up.”

6) In the ingredient list, you say “1 (28-oz.) can whole tomatoes and their liquid, puréed (do not use tomato purée).”  Part Two of the ROFLing.

7) On the accompaniments list (again – language issues – to me accompaniment involves a piano), you suggest “3 tbsp. ground hot chile (Aleppo if possible).”  I, like Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson, ask “What is Aleppo?”

8) “Season to taste with salt and pepper.”  This is singularly unhelpful.  I grew up with a mother who jumped on the Jane Brody Bandwagon in the early days.  Carbs=good.  Fat=bad.  Salt was the S-word in our house, little white grains of evil.  Hence, I was introduced to the allure of salt rather late in life.  A general ballpark, like “start with one tablespoon,” would be much appreciated.

9) I found the ROI (return on investment) somewhat lacking.  I spent an hour chopping, an hour procuring ingredients, and another hour cooking.  With that time commitment, the result needed to rock my world.  I thought it was pretty good, so I’ll be making it in a slow cooker next time.  Sorry.

10) The Big E tasted it and proclaimed, “This isn’t really my kind of meal.  My kind of meal is a big steak and deep-fried french fries,” not to be confused with regular, non-redundant french fries.

11) I’ll pick my last bone with Rick Nelson, who claims in the online version of the article that the recipe is both “easy” and “a total keeper.”  Rick, in our house, “keeper” refers to fish.  And for me a recipe is, by definition, never easy.

So, thanks for the recipe.  I’ll be sure to let you know how things work out with my Crock-Pot.

Anne Lippin

Musical Moment

 

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I Fought the Mall and the Mall Won

Let me make my position on the Mall of America patently clear:

I Hate It.

Yesterday, the Big E and his friend, who coincidentally shares the same name, dragged me to the Mall.  Their deep research into the topic had revealed that the MOA is a happening spot for Pokemon Go.

I kicked.  I screamed.  I whined.  I protested.  And eventually I said fine.  I’ll go with you for One Hour.  Seriously, it was like I’d suddenly produced a real live unicorn.  > Poof <

We parked in Georgia and walked into the Sears entrance.  Surely, the Mall can’t, in fact, be a hellmouth if it’s anchored in the northeast corner by Sears.

The Big Es were happy as Pikas in a Pokeball.  They wandered hither and yon, among the kiosks, through the massive indoor Nickelodeon Universe amusement park, around the potted palms.  They ran into a particularly wonderful situation outside of three consecutive cosmetics stores.  ”Mama!  We both caught a Blastoise!”  I’m not exactly sure what that means, but it’s good.

While they searched out mythical beings, I played my own game of Guess the Diagnosis.  Here’s what I saw:

1) many probable pre-diabetics and some actual diabetics

2) the diabetics/pre-diabetics were also likely hypertensive and dyslipidemic

3) polycystic ovarian syndrome in a couple young women

4) pregnancy – lots of it, like a whole epidemic

5) anorexia in one young man : (

6) sex trafficking – I didn’t see it, or didn’t realize I was seeing it, but there’s good reason I chaperoned The Big Es.

7) one definite hardcore smoker plus a handful of casual smokers

8) one definite methamphetamine addict

9) likely many prescription drug addicts – they’re harder to spot

10) a couple cases of osteoporosis

11) MANY broken ankles waiting to happen – what’s up with the Illogical Footwear Choices, ladies?

12) lots of nice, loving, normal human interaction – very refreshing indeed!  People were happy yesterday, and were treating their partners, kids, friends like we should all the time…

On the drive home, I reminisced about the Days of Yore when I’d go dancing at the MOA and my hair would reek of cigarettes for forty days.  Thank you to the authors of the Minnesota Clean Indoor Air Act.

My bottom line is if I have to be stuck in the Mall of America for an hour on one of the most glorious fall days ever, I’m glad I’m stuck with two boys who are only in it for the Pokemon.

Musical Moment

 

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Unapologetically Smart

I am a woman.  I am smart.

I’m using “smart” in the standard academic sense of the word, not to minimize other forms of intelligence (artistic, emotional, spatial-relational, etc.), but to limit the scope of this discussion.

Perhaps I made a few people uncomfortable by opening with those two lines.  Heck, I made myself uncomfortable.  Do I sound too braggadocious?  Should I back up my assertions with cold hard facts?  Is this the right way to make my point?

My parents expected that I would do my best work to the best of my ability.  Early on, I learned not to talk about doing well in school; my academic success was inversely correlated with Positive Reaction of Classmates.  ”You got an A?  I hate you!”  How many times did I hear that?  Being average is just that, being average, one of the majority.  Being above-average means drawing attention to yourself and attention, in the hierarchical pack mentality of 1970s public schoolchildren, was rarely good.

In elementary school I proved to be a good speller.  As my “reward,” the teacher removed me from class and sent me to the librarian to dissect word roots, his own personal linguistic passion, one that I did not share.  A good girl does as she is told.

The Junior High yearbook pictured a boy and a girl for each of several categories: Cutest Smile, Most Likely to Be a Moviestar, whatever.  Did we vote?  I think we voted.  Anyhow, I took it as a personal affront that “Most Likely To Succeed” seemed completely independent of academic performance.

In high school, I was insulated from teasing by surrounding myself with like minds.  Three of the five valedictorians came from my core group of HS friends.  Yes, I was one of them.  The valedictorians.  And I was mortified that people, like the entire student body, knew my GPA.

My high school dating experience was quite limited, fortunately.  I knew that boys didn’t like it when girls were too smart and I’m sure that I would’ve played dumber if I deemed it necessary for relational harmony.  So I’m glad I didn’t date much.  My end-of-HS boyfriend, another of the valedictorians, liked his girls smart, and immersed himself in friendships with girls who wanted to study and learn.

By the time college rolled around, I expected the competitive nasty teasing to be over and done with.  Not so much.  I continued to keep my academic situation to myself, even developing a script for when people asked, “What’d you get?”  Never trumpet your cerebral assets from the mountaintops.

I met my college boyfriend when he TA’d my computer programming class.  He seemed to enjoy that I presented him with a question/problem that he couldn’t answer, and I knew there might be some hope of a relationship working.  He married a super smart woman, whose line of work I can barely begin to comprehend, much less explain – something to do with genetics and the various factors that impact cell development, gene expression, and cellular death.

In my junior year at Oberlin, I received a letter from an organization about which I knew exactly nothing: Phi Beta Kappa.  They said I could mail them something like $50 and become a member.  I mentioned the letter to my parents as well as my hesitance to pay the fee and join their little club.  Mom and Dad said, Anne, this is ΦΒΚ.  You have to join.

Enter medical school.  Dating was, uh, interesting.  ”I’m in medical school” is completely different from saying “I’m in college.”  People have their own biases about medical school, medical students, doctors, and women doctors.  Even now, many folks who find out I’m a doctor are intimidated.  I found myself trying to reassure the last person to admit intimidation, saying, “Oh, I haven’t been in clinic in a long time,” as if the temporal remoteness of doctorly duties would somehow normalize me.

But back to dating.  Most of the men I dated felt threatened by me and my brain.  I say this because they engaged in frequent micro aggressions, to use a newer word for an ancient concept.  I was familiar with the little jabs, often masked as statements of fact or even compliments.  I’d heard similar sentiments on the playground years prior.  ”Of course you would know that because you’re going to be a doctor.”  Or “I only went to business school, not medical school.”

The most glaring example occurred when I was a third-year medical student.  I started dating a first-year resident.  I can’t remember what led up to it, but I basically said Isn’t it cool how the second half of the menstrual cycle is constant, like you can count backwards fourteen days from a woman’s period and, bam, that’s where she would ovulate.  So all the variability in the length of the menstrual cycle comes from the first half.  Awesome.

My boyfriend freaked out because he didn’t know this basic menstrual fact.  He didn’t know it and I did, a third-year med student and more importantly, his girlfriend.  My knowledge made him feel bad about himself.  I backpedalled – I just studied it, you know, so it’s fresh in my mind.  It’s okay.  I’m sure there’s a lot that you know (that I don’t know).

We didn’t last – thank goodness.  Maybe he needed to be with a woman who knew less than he did.  Lora Park (NY Univ at Buffalo) researches this phenomenon, that men want to be smarter than the women they date.

The field of medicine as a whole continues to be rife with sexism and misogyny, as evidenced in a recent Washington Post article.  How many times did people assume I was a nurse?  How many times did patients choose to call me by my first name, while referring to their male physicians as “Doctor”?  And there was that blatant proposition from the professional athlete after I had just finished his rectal exam in the ER.

Where am I going with this?  For many men, it’s deeply unsettling when a woman is smarter, faster, or better at something.  Insecure men often fall back into comforting patterns of objectification, sexism, and misogyny, instead of celebrating women’s strengths.  Regression to Mean.  As men contemplate a long-term committed monogamous relationship, let’s say a relationship lasting at least four years, they are freaked out by the idea that this woman might be smarter than they are.

The 2005 Access Hollywood video and Howard Stern tapes show Donald Trump being himself.  Anyone who is surprised hasn’t been paying attention.  Anyone deciding to disavow only now didn’t do their research.  In Trump’s mind, women are conquests, reduced to a compilation of body parts, either sexually desirable or disdained.  He believes he can take whatever and whoever he wants, without regard to pesky things like consent, legality, or morality.  And men who feel threatened by smart women love the camaraderie of “locker-room talk.”  A good old-fashioned session of misogyny will clear that insecurity right up.

In case you were wondering, #ImNotWithHim.

Here’s the deal: I want my president to be smarter than I am.  I want her (and I’m using “her” as the generic pronoun just for kicks, not as some commentary on Clinton’s candidential viability – I can make up words, right, ’cause I went to medical school), I want her to know more than I do about history, law, politics, Black Lives Matter, economics, conflict resolution, the Labor Movement, public education, communication, government, group dynamics, and activism to name just a few.  I want my president to be able to acknowledge when she is ignorant and continue her journey of lifelong learning.

There you have it.  I’ll see you at the polls and I’ll be voting for a candidate who is #SmarterThanIAm.

I’m all about action.  What can we do?  How can we do better?

1) Raise girls to be unapologetically smart.  This is different from being arrogantly smart or ungenerously smart.  Here’s a script we can teach our girls: “If you feel bad about yourself because of my accomplishments, that’s your problem, not mine.  Don’t attack who I am to feel better about yourself.”

2) Raise boys (and girls) to value smart girls.

3) Teach boys how to bond with each other intimately in ways that don’t denigrate girls and women.

4) Teach boys how to genuinely demonstrate affection, not by pulling hair, physical aggression, or teasing.  At the library, I recently witnessed a teenage boy throwing a girl around.  And he didn’t think he was being mean.  He probably thought he was telling her he liked her.

5) Speak up.  Speak up when you see that teenage boy throwing a girl around.  Speak up in the locker room when teammates start down the well-trod path of sexism and misogyny.  (Ace assures me that he hears reductive sexist banter in the hockey locker room all the time.)  Folks who do psychological work with children, teenagers, and adults, please chime in on suggested approaches.  I must confess, at the library I didn’t know what to do or say.

6) Give kids the vocabulary to admire each other.  ”I liked it when you read that poem in class.”  ”Wasn’t it awesome when Shanika went off on String Theory and Mr. X was like, dang.”

7) Vote for candidates who are smarter than you are.

8) Add to my list.

Musical Moment #1 evolves to

Musical Moment #2

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