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The Awards I’m Not Winning

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As referenced in last week’s blog (1-20-23) …

Department Of Here We Go Again
Sub-Department Of Preview Of Coming Grievances Attractions

Sub- Department explanation: the next three blogs will deal with various aspects of The Writing Life As Moiself  Sees It ®)  …

This is part one of a three-part series.  Parts one and two feature essays I wrote several years ago. The essays have the following commonality:

(a) I was satirizing a certain aspect of the writing/publishing life;

(b) More than one editor to whose journal(s) I submitted these essays wrote, in their kind and complimentary rejection letters, that although they personally liked the article they could not publish it and, added that they felt it incumbent to warn me that that the article might be unpublishable due to my making fun of the process – i.e.; gnawing at the hand that was supposedly feeding me – despite the essays being clearly intended as satirical (“You realize that many people in this world   [1]   do not have a sense of humor about what they do….)

 

 

The first amusing (to moiself  ) if flattering rejection letter confirmed what I had suspected.   “I really, *really* like your essay,” the editor wrote, “… but do you know this is essentially unpublishable?”

Do I know that literary journals and magazines are not known for having a sense of humor about themselves?  Dude, trust me, I’ve figured that out.

And yet the essay did find a home.  In an edited version, one which the magazine’s editors retitled, for some reason, as Author, Author,    [2]  and later in its original form in another journal.  [3]    

The subject for the essay had been bouncing round my devious mind for some time.  I’d been taking mental notes for years about the proliferation of writing awards, but the impetus for putting it down was reading an announcement, by someone, moiself  didn’t know well, on social media, about how a poem they’d written had won the prize for Desiccated Ego Quarterly Review’s Contest For Best Emo-Themed Lyric Soliloquy By An Emerging Writer Under Age Thirty.   [4]

 

 

Instead of feeling happy for them or sending congratulations, I found moiself  cringing on their behalf, as I found it rather…amateurish.

Sure, do a humble brag when you win a Pulitzer, but Desiccated Ego Quarterly Review’s Contest For Best Emo-Themed Lyric Soliloquy By An Emerging Writer Under Age Thirty sounds like something your mother dreamed up. Except, of course, it wasn’t the writer’s mother – it was an editor…and a publisher, and another and another – such contests and awards were madly multiplying.  And they continue to do so.  Even more than they years ago when I was still actively submitting work, more and more literary journals list this change in requirements on their writers guidelines:

“Submissions currently excepted only through our contests.”

There is a fee, of course, for submitting, which the journal justifies clarifies with a circular explanation along these lines: the journal’s prize/contest entry fees help fund the journal as well as the prizes the journal awards for said contests.

Which means that contest “winners”– in perhaps a momentarily/financially insignificant way, but in an ultimately significantly unethical (IMO) way – have been a party to purchasing their own prize.

 

 

And so, on with the show.  [5]

*   *   *

YOU  CAN  BE  (OR  ALREADY  ARE)
AN  AWARD-WINNING  WRITER!

Calling all non-award-winning writers (you know who you are): It’s time to add a trophy title to your nom de plume.  It imparts that certain je ne sais quoi, literary cachet; besides, with all the opportunities out there, what’s your excuse for *not* having one?

Admit it, you’ve had an experience similar to the following.  Scanning the bio notes of an article in a writer’s magazine, you discovered that the article’s author had received a literary award, the title of which you had to practice saying several times before you could utter it in one breath:

“The Barbara Kingsolver’s Bellweather Prize For Fiction
in Support of a Literature For Social Change.”

Pulitzer, schmulitzer; *there’s* an award you don’t see every day.  Although if present trends continue, you probably will.

No disrespect intended towards the esteemed (and multiple award-winning) Ms. Kingsolver, whose once-eponymous award now goes by the more succinct, “The Bellweather Prize.”  As awkwardly extensive as I found the earlier title, it was nice to come across any award named after a living woman instead of a member of the Dead Literary Guys Club.  Still, I’ve never been able to get that erstwhile, très specific award title out of my mind.  It reminds me of, well, of other très specific or obscure literary award titles I’ve seen in the classifieds ads, the Grants and Awards announcements, and the Member News sections of writer’s publications.

Computer literate literati are just a Google away from discovering the astounding number of writing awards, contests, grants and fellowships available to actual or aspiring authors.  Award titles and descriptions can be quite entertaining, and so once upon a keyboard I decided to keep a file of literary awards’ names, categories and sponsors.  In a few months that decision was followed by another one: to delete the file, whose page count had surpassed that of the first draft of my first novel.  I feared for the storage space on my hard disk; I feared for my attitude even more.

I hold a hopeful snobbery about writing, and am ambivalent about the proliferation of literary prizes.  I want writers to eschew the self-celebration and celebriti-zation that infests popular culture.  Moreover, the proliferation of Something, even Something with good intentions, can ultimately demean its significance or value.  There’s the Oscars, Cannes, Sundance…and then there’s the Toledo People’s Choice Film Festival.

 

 

At the risking of sounding like the George C. Scott of author-dom, I’m leery of prizes for art in general and literature in specific.  I reject the notion that, intentionally or otherwise, writers should compete with one another, or that there are universally accepted or objective criteria for judging the “best” of works that are written – and read – by gloriously subjective beings.  Then again, I can understand the motivations for award-giving in any field of endeavor, including writing (“Our work must be important — see how many awards we have?!”).  And who wouldn’t enjoy having Pulitzer Prize-winning author attached to their byline?

An award, any award, can bestow a certain distinction.  Thousands of novels and poetry collections are published yearly, most fading quickly into obscurity.  But maybe, just maybe, you’ll give the impression you’re Someone To Watch ®  if your back-listed-so-fast-it-left-skidmarks chapbook receives “The Award for Southwestern Pangendered Speculative Flash Prose-Poems.”

Relax, take a cleansing breath, and stop composing your bio notes for the entry form.  There’s no such award.  Yet.

To get an idea of the number and variety of literary prizes, flip through the classified ads section of any writer’s magazine, or check out their on-line versions.  One prominent writer’s website has over *nine hundred* Awards & Contests listings, a number added to weekly if not daily.  Whatever your personal traits or writing genre, there’s a prize or contest – and, of course, an entry fee – waiting for you.

 

 

Anything in particular for which you’d like recognition?  If it’s for religion or spirituality, among the hundreds of awards are the Helen and Stan Vine Canadian Jewish Book Awards, the American Academy of Religion’s Best First Book in the History of Religions, and the Utmost Christian Poetry Contest.  If you’re inspired by regional affiliation, try the Saskatchewan Book Of The Year Award or The Boardman Tasker Award For Mountain Literature.

You might impress potential publishers (or failing that, the crowned heads of Europe) with a majestic title: The Royal Society Of Literature Award Under The W.H. Heinemann Bequest.  If you’d like woo corporate America, seek the General Mill’s The Cheerios® New Author Contest.  Are you between the ages of eleven and 111?  Go for The Geoffrey Bilson Award For Historical Fiction For Young People, or the The Solas Awards Elder Travel: The best story from a traveler 65 years of age or older.  And there’s no lack of prizes vis-à-vis gender, ethnic, and sexual identity, including the Women’s Empowerment Awards Writing Competition, The Association Of Italian-Canadian Writers Literary Contest, and the Emerging Lesbian Writers Fund Award.

Perhaps you’d rather be esteemed for subject matter.  If you cover the timeless concerns of war and peace, the Michael Shaara Award For Excellence In Civil War Fiction, or Japan’s Goi Peace Foundation International Essay Contest may be for you.  And let us wave our olive branches in tribute to one of the more interestingly named awards in this or any category, in hopes that, with perhaps a little nudging, the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation will reinstate their now-retired Swackhamer Peace Essay Contest (it took a serious peacenik to wield a Swackhamer).

Don’t worry if your themes are comparatively prosaic; writing awards are not limited to life’s essentials.  From sailors (the U.S. Maritime Literature Awards) to horses (the Thoroughbred Times Fiction Contest) to zombies (Dark Moon Anthology Short Story Writing Contests for Horror Writers), if there’s a topic, there’s a prize.

Awards even pay tribute to literary length.  Writers in it for the long haul have the Reva Shiner Full-Length Play Award, while those pressed for time may try the Short Prose Competition for Developing Writers.  Not to be out-shorted is Glimmer Train’s Very Short Fiction Award; covering the remaining short bases is the Fineline Competition For Prose Poems, Short Shorts, And Anything In Between.  And for literature with a discernable shelf life, behold the Perishable Theatre’s Women’s Playwriting Festival prize.

 

 

My excuse for not having even one measly award title escorting my nom de plume is likely related to the fact that I don’t enter contests (perhaps one day I’ll discover that I’ve won “The Chinook Prize for the Pacific Northwest’s Un-entered Fiction Contests“).   My nonparticipation notwithstanding, the number of literary awards continues to expand, and they’ve got to be conferred upon somebody.  Chances are greater than ever that almost all writers will have their fifteen minutes to don some sort of authorial laurel wreath.  Yes, dear writer, *you* could be an award-winning author.  There’s probably something wrong with you if you’re not.

My favorite prize name strains credibility, yet is listed as a writing award.  And so, fellow writer, considering the abundance of awards, in your quest for recognition and cool author’s bio notes, please save this one for me: the Wergle Flomp Poetry Contest.  If my entry prevails I will receive a monetary prize and publication of my poem, plus that accolade for which no value can be calculated:

The right to henceforth refer to myself, in author’s credits and future contest entry forms, as a Wergle Flomp award-winning writer.

The End

about the author
A long, long time ago a sixth grader named Robyn Parnell won some kind of Isn’t America Groovy?! essay contest.  Since 1975, when she acquired a trophy resembling a garden trowel (High School Journalism Day, Orange County, CA), Parnell has remained an award-free writer.  She hopes to one day be the deserving recipient of The Robyn Parnell Prize in Support of Imaginative and Distinguished Prose in Support of Robyn Parnell.

 

 

*   *   *

Freethinkers’ Thought Of The Week   [6]

“Although I’m an atheist, I don’t fear death more than, say, sharing a room in a detox center with a sobbing Rush Limbaugh.”
( Berkeley Breathed, Pulitzer-Prize-winning (ahem!) American cartoonist, creator of Bloom County and Outland,
as quoted in The Quotable Atheist, by Jack Huberman )

 

 

*   *   *

May you judiciously choose which humble brags to share;
May you never win an award which bears your name;
May your concepts of afterlives not include boorish talk radio hosts;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

[1] Which moiself  took to be the editorial/publishing side of the “world.”

[2]  Bear Deluxe magazine, #23, spring-summer 2006.

[3] In the now-indefinitely-on-hiatus, dislocate magazine: a Minnesota journal of writing and art, 6-11-20.

[4] Not the award’s exact title, but you get the idea.

[5] All award names listed were actual, active awards, at the time the essay was written; some may have been discontinued or had their names changed.

[6] “free-think-er n. A person who forms opinions about religion on the basis of reason, independently of tradition, authority, or established belief. Freethinkers include atheists, agnostics and rationalists.   No one can be a freethinker who demands conformity to a bible, creed, or messiah. To the freethinker, revelation and faith are invalid, and orthodoxy is no guarantee of truth.”  Definition courtesy of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, http://www.ffrf.org 

The Sign I’m Not Following

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Department Of What A Difference A Letter Makes

Dateline: Saturday; mid-afternoon; on my way to drop off donations to Goodwill.  Driving south on a throughway street which bisects residential areas to its east and west, I pass a blue sign on the left side of the road  [1] . This sign directs you to find:

ARISE
CHURCH →

The sign is bent in the middle, which causes moiself, at first glance, to miss the in the top word.

All those headed to the church of the Holy ARSE, turn right.

 

I like big butts and I cannot lie….

 

*   *   *

Department Of, Oh, Ya Think?

Dateline: 6:45am last Saturday.  A dear friend is in the hospital, recovering from life-altering  [2]  surgery.  I found a respected medical clinic’s website and looked up information on radical cystectomy, the surgery he has undergone. From the site:

“The procedure to remove the entire bladder is called a radical cystectomy. In men, this typically includes removal of the prostate and seminal vesicles….
“After removing your bladder, your surgeon also needs to create a new way to store urine and have it leave your body. This is called urinary diversion.”

Under risks associated with urinary diversion  there is the following bullet point. Which I had to read several times to assure  moiselfyep, that’s what it says.  Apparently, one of the risks following removal of your bladder is:

* Loss of bladder control (urinary incontinence)

 

 

Really. 

Yeah; kinda difficult to control an organ you no longer have in your body.

 

 

*   *   *

Dateline: last week, Valley Art Gallery

Department Of Gawddammit It’s Like They Know I’m Coming In…

And so they put this right where I’ll see it.  Because a sculpture like this, displaying both the talent and whimsy which moiself  so admires in art…and which the artist oh-so-appropriately-not-to-mention-appealingly named, “Speckled Twerp”…they know who’s going to take it home.

 

 

 

At first I tried to divert moiself  by falling for this charming piece, called…wait for it…Yellow Chicken.

 

 

 

 

But the twerp in me would not be denied.

 

 

“Are we all clear on the new installation?  Have the twerp piece where she’ll see it, and maybe distract her first with the chicken….”

*   *   *

Department Of Things You Talk About With Good Friends After A Good Lunch

Cattywampus
Hornswoggled
Bumfuzzle
Taradiddle
Withershins
Collywobbles
Gardyloo
Flummadiddle

The Miriam Webster online dictionary has a special link for those and other “funny-sounding words,” but that’s not enough, sez moiself  (and friends agree).  There needs to be a special day set aside, or declared, to encourage the usage of these words.

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Why Has It Taken Me So Long To Realize This?

I don’t use marjoram.  As of last Wednesday, there is no longer a jar of marjoram in my Wall O’ Spices ®.  You know how it is, when you redo your kitchen’s spice holding system and buy those pre-printed spice jar labels which of course include one for marjoram and you think, “Ah yes, a classic spice,” and so you give it jar space but then forget that you never use it because…you never use it.

 

 

Nor is there a marjoram jar or tin on the cabinet shelves filled with refills for spices I commonly use, and less-commonly-but-still-occasionally-used ones, from amchur and  asafetida to celery powder to gochugaru.

 

 

When I last encountered a recipe calling for marjoram  [3]  I used up the pitiful amount I had left.  And when looking for more, I found none in the bulk sections of several markets, and I wasn’t about to pay $8.99 for a small jar which would go stale before I would use even 10% of it.

Thus, for perhaps the first time in my adult life, I am marjoram-free.

 

 

*   *   *

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Getting To Play The Game

Check this out, for an interesting listen: the recent Clear + Vivid podcast Alison Gopnik: Making AI more childlike.

Gopnik is a professor of psychology and researcher into cognitive and language development. She spoke with C+V podcast host Alan Alda about her (and other people’s) research which shows how children are generally curious about their world; thus, children are interested in science and have innate abilities for experimentation and theory formation…then tend to lose interest in the subject itself as they age.  Gopnik, along with many other scientists, argue that this is, in great part, because of the way science is taught:

“Suppose we taught baseball the way we teach science.  So for the first five years you’d be reading about baseball games, and maybe you’d be reading about some of the rules. And then in high school you’d get to reproduce famous baseball plays…and you would never get to play the game until you were in graduate school….
That’s kind of the way we teach science – you don’t really play the game, you don’t really *do* science, until you’re in graduate school.”

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Here We Go Again
Sub-Department OF Preview Of Coming Grievances Attractions

( Sub- Department explanation: my next three blogs will deal with various aspects of The Writing Life As Moiself  Sees It ®  ).

 

 

Dateline: Earlier this month, researching and updating guidelines for literary journals and publishers.    [4]  What I find in my research confirms one of many reasons moiself  rarely submits my work anymore. For example, I come across this, from the guidelines of a self-proclaimed “international” journal:

“Submissions are open to all, but we particularly welcome work from….
First Nations and POC writers, the LGBTQI+ community, and writers with a disability.”

Should I decide to send my work to this journal I, like any writer submitting work to any journal, would not be doing so in person.  I’d submit material as per their guidelines: either online via their submissions portal (the default nowadays) or via mail (much less common, but still used). Either way, the journal’s editors can neither see nor hear nor speak with me.

 

 

My first name may or may not indicate my gender; my surname might convey an impression (which could be a false impression either way) as to whether I am or am not a First Nations and POC writer.  How will the editors know if I am a LGBTQI+ community, or a  writer with a disability, unless I declare this in my cover letter?  And if I do so, will the journal’s editors then “particularly welcome” my story due to my personal particulars that they have particularly decided to find particularly welcoming?

 

 

Moiself  can’t help but suspect that the content of my work will be read and judged differently under such circumstances.  Which moiself  finds both ethically odious and disturbing.  Speaking  [5]   both as a writer and *especially* as a reader, I don’t give a flying buttress’s butthole…

 

“Excusez-moi?!?!!”

 

 …about writers’ “identities” or “qualities.”  I’m interested in the quality of the *stories* they write, not in who or what they *are.*

*   *   *

Freethinkers’ Thought Of The Week   [6]

 

*   *   *

May you remember to make someone a sandwich;
May you support the reform of how we teach science in schools;
May you not be hornswaggled into giving a tarradiddle’s colleywobbles
about doing things widdershins;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

[1] You’ve seen those signs, with names of churches or other businesses located in an otherwise residential area.

[2] And ultimatly, lifesaving, fingers crossed!

[3] In itself a rare thing, and I have found that the recipe either won’t miss it or that oregano will do just fine – or even better – instead.

[4] (I’ve addressed complained about this issue previously, in this space.

[5] There should be at least five footnotes in this post.

[6] “free-think-er n. A person who forms opinions about religion on the basis of reason, independently of tradition, authority, or established belief. Freethinkers include atheists, agnostics and rationalists.   No one can be a freethinker who demands conformity to a bible, creed, or messiah. To the freethinker, revelation and faith are invalid, and orthodoxy is no guarantee of truth.”  Definition courtesy of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, http://www.ffrf.org  

The Advice Columnist I’m Not Blaming

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Department Of Blame It On Carolyn

Carolyn Hax, that is, my all-time favorite advice columnist.  [1]   I read her column every morning; a query in her January 7 column took me back to an issue of great interest to moiself  …although, it was one of her reader’s responses to the column, rather than the column itself, which is responsible for this tangent.

The CH letter writer sought advice for this dilemma: her fiancé wants a big family, as in, six kids (he’d “settle” for four). But she wants two…maybe…at most. Is it possible to compromise on kids?

After giving her advice to the LW, CH posted a few responses from her readers to the LW.  Here was the one that caught my attention:

Re: Kids:have big talks about how said family will work. Does he expect to be a true 50/50 partner, as in baths/feeding/rule-making/following up with teachers/bringing to doctor appointments/helping with homework? Or does he just think a big family will be “fun,” not thinking of logistics?
We know from studies that women still, unfortunately, take on the bulk of emotional and household labor for families. I know plenty of men personally who want more kids but do far less than 50 percent. Of course they want more! They get the fun parts!

 

 

Ah, yes.  Partnership; family logistics; division of labor.

A long time ago in a galaxy far far away   [2]   moiself  began taking notes on the Stay-Home Parent debate.  Because, apparently (sorry) there was one, and someone was making comments and/or assumption about child-rearing and household-running which I found…debatable.

Moiself  does not remember in detail the instigating incidents; I *do* very well remember commiserating about the incidents with a woman who was also a SHP/trying to work from home.  I took copious notes about our conversations and then tried to organize them into an essay/advice document for the next time some poor fool hopeful naïf solicited my opinion on the matter. I searched my computer files and found the document.    [3]    Lucky y’all – grab a tranquilizer of choice, here it is.   [4]

***********************************

SHP

So, you want to be, or it has been decided that you will be, the SHP – “stay-home parent?”  Good luck with that.

There is a tendency to refer to this as a “privilege”….

 

 

…. when, in fact, it is a sacrifice.

In the following rant reasonable and thoughtful essay, I will use female as the default for the stay-home parent’s gender, as (sadly) it is still, overwhelmingly, the mother who assumes the pre- and post-weaning tasks of child and household care.

However, I must note that the stay-home dads I have either known personally or whose concerns I’ve read about (books, magazine articles, letters to editors…) list the *very same-exact-identical-equivalent* concerns and complaints.  Gender has little to do with it; the sacrifices made and frustrations encountered by the SHP are part of the SHP “job description”  – that which a parent of any gender will encounter when taking on the non-paying responsibilities of stay-home parent.

BTW, the issue of non-payment is a crucial one.   Wake up and smell the Starbucks:   [5]  the person who earns the “real” money wields the ultimate power (whether functional, or veto) in the household.

Speaking of $$, the WAFHP (works-away-from-home-parent) may claim that because his entire paycheck goes into the family budget, everything of “his” is being shared.  Thus, he may say he envies his SHP the “privilege” of staying home…

 (1) even if he never volunteered for the job;

 (2) even if both parents desired at least one stay-home parent and there was no other viable financial option for the family;

 (3) even if he’s been heard to whine, “Gee, I’d love to stay home and take it easy.

Except that if he does (3) he’s lying, to her and/or himself.  He doesn’t envy her; not sincerely.  Most men never *seriously* consider ditching their wage-earner credibility to assume the endless responsibilities and low social and economic status of homemaker.

This kind of a husband may begrudge any additional monies his wife may make from a home business or “projects” produced from the home, which she may keep “for herself” (the Olden Days ®  term was egg money; e.g., the monies farm women earned from selling eggs, butter, etc., which they kept out of the general budget and hid away for household emergencies).  He may think that since he contributes all of “his” money, his wife must give all of hers.

 

 

But, as Washington Post columnist Carolyn Hax so astutely noted to one such husband who’d written to her (to carp about the money his wife kept from her “projects”):

Can you see that thing that’s right in your face?  That’s called the surface. Look past it, and you’ll see that you are* not* sharing so much more than money.   So much more includes

 -job experience
-job continuity
-workforce connections and networking
-up-to-date technological skills
-income toward Social Security
-credits toward a pension
-and whatever else he’s accruing that I’m leaving out, equally or otherwise. 

That and more is “his” “money.”   The wife, in return for taking on an essential yet unpaid “career,”

 -loses her place in her workplace hierarchy
-watches her skills erode or fall out of date or both
-lowers her Social Security income
-cuts her ties to benefits
-and, if and when she is able to return to the paying workforce, faces competition from candidates who didn’t take several years off, as well as the documented “mommy” prejudice and penalty (there has been no equivalent, documented “daddy penalty”)

Yes, perhaps she gets more opportunities to “bond” with the kids. But what if you leave her, or die?

And I didn’t get into self-worth, or that her “projects” could be construed as a second job. In practical terms alone, her pocketing a few bucks is a small hedge against total dependence on you, and no substitute for the workplace credibility you’ve stockpiled while she’s been home.

************************

 

 

In addition to the above sacrifices that CH noted, there is the matter of the SHP job itself, and its Dirty Not-So-Little Secrets ®:

 * Caring for children and running a household, tasks which are unremitting and indispensable to family and society, are considered to be low-skilled labor.

* Managing a household, however essential to familial and societal stability, is repetitive work, and involves a number of self-defeating tasks.  As in, almost everything you do will need to be done again, and sometimes almost immediately.  Imagine a ditch digger who returned to work every morning to find that the ditch he had dug the previous day had been filled in.

* SHP is a “career” with a limited lifespan, and no possibility for advancement.

Perhaps the dirtiest (open) secret of all:  Children – yep, even your little darling sweetum oookie scnookums fruit-of-your-loins – are not fascinating and enjoyable at all times.  They have moments of sweetness, and watching/helping them meet their developmental milestones can bring its own special joy. But telling the following truth in no way diminishes the love you have for your children:

Children are not adults.

 

 

No; really.  Meditate upon these four words, the understanding of which is key to the emotional stability of (and the resulting cabin fever often experienced by) SHPs.

Children are not adults.

Their brains are developing; their interests and intellects and reference points are shallow, and (of course) childish and self-involved.  Thus, they are not reliably appealing, or intellectually and emotionally stimulating and fulfilling, companionship for adults.  The WAFHP parent will have at least some semblance of adult relationships and conversation at his workplace.  The SHP will not, and will need to seek it elsewhere…yet another item on her to-do list.

This is the core of the dirty, not-so-secret secret:  unless you are a Fascinating Womanhood ® devotee or possessed of an IQ smaller than your bra size, taking care of children is tiresome.  It doesn’t matter that you love them – supervising and entertaining a young child for hours is mind-numbing as well as exhausting.

Now, most fathers find young children boring (another dirty secret, but one that some men will openly admit to).  Husbands will often get more involved in (what just barely qualifies as) childcare when the kids become more “fun” to be around; i.e., taking the kids to their scout meetings and soccer practices.  But few fathers voluntarily do the day-to-day, routine maintenance care, or offer to be the stay-home parent (even if their wife’s job is the one which brings in more money, and thus the logical financial solution for the couple, if they desire at at-home parent in the family, would be to have the husband stay home).  Monotonous work with little or no monetary reward or social status – men avoid it, if possible. How many men do you know who are nannies or day care workers?

Also, there’s the complaining issue (read: telling the truth).  Much of parenthood, especially being the primary care parent, is repetitive (which is why this bears repeating) and tedious, as is managing a household. Sure, you say, but lots of things are tedious.  Mowing lawns for a living can be tedious.  But if a lawnmower landscape maintenance technician admits that he finds his job unfulfilling, he’s simply telling the truth.  Women who speak the truth about the boredom, frustration, and ultimate lack of job security in being the primary child/household care parent are often labeled as whiners who are unappreciative of their “privilege,” or, if they have the misfortune to come from a religious background, they can be diagnosed as dangers to The Divinely Mandated Family Structure®, or neurotics incapable of appreciating their “true” or “biologically based” calling and/or natures.

 

 

Okay.  The task at hand:  job description for a SHP.  I am leaving out so, so much – and many tasks could be filed under several or separate categories, and I just had to stop at one, remembering, oh yeah, and there’s this, and then this…

Keep in mind that “manage” listed as a task is an all-purpose, all-encompassing term.  It may refer to doing a particular task yourself, as well as involving, organizing and/or supervising family members in the task.

Transportation
Let’s start with this one and get it out of the way:  the term “Stay-home” mom (or parent) is a joke.  You will be ferrying everyone, and everything.  The last minute, emergency/unexpected trips will seem to consume as much time (and more emotional energy) as the planned errands.

Family events management

– manage family calendar, including scheduling/keeping track of
– social and school events;
– holidays, regular and school;
– conferences and appointments; following up with teachers;
– regular and one-time events, including visits from friends/family;

Food
It is impossible to overestimate the amount of time this responsibility involves.  It is daily, and unlike many other tasks, cannot be deferred.  Unless it involves a really, really, stinky item (never underestimate the reek potential of any cloth you used to wipe up spilled milk or cat barf, no matter how thoroughly you rinsed it out), you can put off laundry until tomorrow, or the day and sometimes even the week after.  But everyone needs to eat three times a day – or more, for infants.

– meal planning:
            – consulting family calendar for dinner planning purposes, noting special days, events, exceptions;
            – grocery list preparation and maintenance;
– staple items
                        – infrequent or one-items for particular meals, or that can only be purchased at certain times/seasons or at particular venues
                        – items for school lunch preparation

 – grocery shopping:
                        -maintain knowledge of what stores carry what ingredients, best pricing for bulk, organic, staples, and any special items;
-maintain awareness of family staples specials, so as to be able to stock up when good prices appear

– meal preparation:
            – includes acquisition, maintenance, and upkeep of cooking utensils, cookware and appliances;
– additional/unplanned/last minute trips to the store, when family members have used up crucial items and have neglected to add those items to the grocery list (this will be a constant thorn in your side);
– when you discover someone has consumed ingredients critical to the meal you are about to prepare;
– when you discover ingredients crucial to the meal you are about to prepare are spoiled or have otherwise gone bad;
– when guests are invited/just appear at the last minute

– clean/maintain school lunch bags and supplies/manage school lunch schedule

 

 

finances

-pay bills;
– mortgages & utilities;
– maintain (or memorize) schedule of what gets paid when;
– make special payment arrangements for vacations and misc. off/away times;
– keep track of and pay infrequent/interval bills, such as property tax and insurance premiums;
– check online accounts daily to check balances (and guard against ID theft possibility);
– transfer funds between accounts as/when necessary;
– balance checking/savings statements;
– balance credit statements, pay when due, and note payment schedule on calendars;
– manage on-hand cash supply, from which:
– regular or seasonal or one time cleaning services are paid;
– allowances are paid;
 carpool drivers are reimbursed for mileage/gas;
– children’s activities (e.g. snack or movies with friends, bus or other public transportation costs) are paid/reimbursed

Misc. household

– arrange/manage cleaning services (from housecleaning to window-washing, regular or sporadic);
– arrange/manage family cleaning when regular cleaning service is on vacation, or cancels, or you must cancel due to upcoming vacation, schedule change or illness;
– perform said cleaning when family does not help/is not available;
– arrange/manage special items cleaning (e.g. furniture, drapes);
– gather and do regular laundry items on an as-needed basis (3-4 days/week);
– gather and do special laundry;
-bedding and linens on a regular/weekly basis;
-clothing/household articles that need periodic cleaning (e.g. cleaning towels, sleeping bags, blankets/comforters and other awkward sized bedding);
– arrange/manage other household care services (e.g. lawn care);
– arrange/manage perform periodic household cleaning:
            – shampoo/steam clean carpets;
            – clean wood and tile floors;
            – furniture dust/vacuum
            – doors and windows

– maintain supply of essential non-food items:

– toilet paper, paper towels, and other tissues;
– household personal (soap, shampoo, lotions, deodorants, toothpaste, toothbrushes, dental floss);
– first aid supplies
– cleaning supplies
– emergency kit: (water, cash, other ER supplies)

pet care

– maintain supply of food and litter;
– manage feeding and other care chores;
– scoop litter as needed during day;
– change water ” ” “;
– manage cleaning of food and water bowls;
– schedule and take to regular vet appointments;
– schedule and take to emergency vet appts.;
– arrange for care during out of town/vacation days

 

 

Misc. child care

– regular transportation (providing and arranging for transportation);
– to and from regular school;
– for special school events;
– medical, dental and orthodontic appointments;
– lessons and other post school activities;
– kids’ friends “play dates,” etc.;

– on call transportation: pick up children from school and/or friend’s houses due to

– sickness/injury;
– braces repaired or other orthodontic or medical mishap;
– lost/forgotten homework and/or lunches;
– wardrobe malfunctions;
– school emergency closures (e.g. sewage spills);
– last minute cancellations from other member(s) of carpool or previously arranged transportation

– allowances

            – provide on weekly basis, keep track of amounts;
            – reminders to budget for charity;
            – provide opportunities for charitable donation, which almost always includes  transportation to said opportunities

– clothing

            – keep track of sizes (clothing, shoe and underwear, jackets and other outerwear);
            – shop for all items when needed;
– specialty items (needed for sports, school camps, outings/events) 

– schedule regular Medical and health-related appointments, including

– doctor;
– dentist;
– orthodontist;
– ophthalmologist;
– dermatologists and other specialists when needed
– schedule/transport to unanticipated/emergency Medical appointments;
– provide care when child home from school with illness or injury;
– misc. other appointments (e.g. haircuts);
– manage and maintain supply of medications, prescriptions (e.g. fluoride and allergy meds) and OTC vitamins;
– confirm the above gets taken as needed;

– school

            – maintain school schedule, including conferences, holidays, vacations;
            – acquire/replace and maintain school supplies

– social life.  This is way too complicated, but includes

– managing social calendars;
– managing birthday preparation for child, as well as birthday party of friends preparation (reminding/shopping for gifts);
– keep track of special needs of friends (e.g. food/pet allergies) when planning meals, play dates, etc.

General house management
– being the manager of all of this, which means that even as the children and spouse are able and willing to “help,” the extra job of being the one who keeps track of what needs to be done when, to teach and supervise (when necessary) said tasks.   [6] 

******************************************

Reading it over…yikes.

Can you magine what you’d have to pay someone (else) to do all this?     [7]

 

******************************************************************

 

 

*   *   *

Freethinkers’ Thought Of The Week   [8]

One of my favorite fantasies is that next Sunday not one single woman, in any country of the world, will go to church. If women simply stop giving our time and energy to the institutions that oppress, they could cease to be.
( Sonia Johnson    [9]  )

*   *   *

May you ensure that, when it comes to home and family, you also get “the fun parts”;
May you reconsider your participation in institutions that oppress;
May you be cognizant of the “mental labor” you leave for others;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

[1] And a damn good writer, as well.

[2] Actually, a little over ten years ago.

[3] In which Carolyn Hax makes another cameo appearance.

[4] The original document did not have the graphics present in this blog post.

[5] How can you not? There’s one on every corner.

[6] This is what psychologist Joshua Ziesel refers to as the “mental labor” of running a household.  His essay, dealing with the iniquities of household labor where both spouses are employed, is a must read:  “I wanted to be a better husband. So I planned my kid’s birthday party. As a psychologist, I knew men did less “mental labor,” but I didn’t see my own shortcomings.” The Washington Post, 6-18-21 )

[7] Actually, you don’t need to use your imagination.  Economists and other labor scientists have studied this for years, and estimates range from $96k in 2012 dollars to 178K on 2019 as median salaries to have a person or persons be on 24 hr call – as are homemakers – to perform the services of a tutor, negotiator, nurse, chauffer, party planner, chef, nanny, housecleaner….

[8] “free-think-er n. A person who forms opinions about religion on the basis of reason, independently of tradition, authority, or established belief. Freethinkers include atheists, agnostics and rationalists.   No one can be a freethinker who demands conformity to a bible, creed, or messiah. To the freethinker, revelation and faith are invalid, and orthodoxy is no guarantee of truth.”  Definition courtesy of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, www.ffrf.org  

[9] Author, activist, and feminist, excommunicated by the Mormon church for supporting the Equal Rights Amendment to the US Constitution.

The Christian Left I’m Not Shaming

Comments Off on The Christian Left I’m Not Shaming

Happy New Year, y’all.

Department Of The Partridge Of The Week
It’s that time of the year again. As has become a tradition much maligned anticipated in our neighborhood, moiself  is hosting a different Partridge, every week, in my front yard.   [1]
Can you identify this week’s guest Partridge?

Goodbye to Shirley (Mama P), Keith, Laurie, Danny, Tracy – to all the Partridges until next season.

 

Wait – she can’t just box us up like those friggin’ elves…can she?

 

*   *   *

Department Of Putting It All Away

The holiday decorations, that is.

 

Even Cablefish gets a Santa hat in my house.

 

 

The Mantle of Red Pointy Things. ®

 

 

This one tried to hide, but I found him anyway.

 

Farewell, Holiday feasting.

 

 

It’s a wistful day.  Moiself  plays seasonal music, from Misty River’s Midwinter  album to Run DMC’s Christmas In Hollis, on repeat, while I pack away the adornments.

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Here, But Not There, And Why

Dateline: Tuesday morning 7:45 AM.  It’s high tide; thus, I’m walking on a road which parallels the beach, and not on the beach itself.

About 100 yards ahead of me a man and his big shaggy dog cross the road and start ambling in the direction I’m going. Out for the morning poop walk, moiself  assumes. The dog is sniffing and sniffing and sniff sniff sniff sniffing clumps of grass, driftwood, and bushes along the road. It stops several times for a longer sniff, almost assuming the classic squat position, then continues until it finally reaches the magic point. By then I have caught up to man and beast, as the latter prepares to do his business and the man prepares his picking-up-dog-business bag.

As I pass them by I am wondering about the dog, So, why *that* spot?  It looks identical to the one you sniffed fifty feet back. Was it particularly aromatic with…familiarity?

“Oh, I remember! I pooped here yesterday, and it was grand. I’ll poop here again!”

 

 

Or, perhaps the pup’s motivation is more sinister than celebratory:

“Aha!  This is the poop-place of that poodle I despise. I’ll show him…”

I’m sure many dog owners   [2]  have their theories (or even certitudes) about the phenomenon of what makes the Perfect Poop Place. ®  But the thing is, only the dogs know. And they do not volunteer this information. I’ve tried asking discretely and quietly, when their owners cannot hear me.  The doggies have yet to reveal their secrets.

 

And someone is always watching.

*   *   *

Department Of It’s Not Too Late To Make A Resolution To Treat People Like People
Sub-Department Of The Problems With Cherry-Picking Quotations

I saw this, posted via the Facebook book group, The Christian Left, last week:

“When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.”
– Leviticus 19:33-34 (ESV)” 

 

 

 TCL is, as far as moiself  can tell, a group of Christians who advocate what they see as the more humane/liberal side of Christianity.  Thus, I assume this posting was meant as a wake up (read: shaming) tactic, or reminder to their conservative/borderline-racist Christian cousins, with regards as to how the latter treat migrants and asylum seekers.

Fine; okay.  Shame such folks whenever and however you can.  However….

How do those on “The Christian Left” react when their conservative cousins do the Bible-thumping in reverse?  That is, when conservative Christians share other quotes from their Bible, which they deem equally valid guidelines for modern day living? Such as….

* “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.”
Leviticus 18:22 (ESV)

“Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death. Because they have cursed their father or mother,
heir blood will be on their own head.”
Leviticus 20:9 (NIV)

* If someone has a stubborn and rebellious son who does not obey his father and mother and will not listen to them when they discipline him, his father and mother shall take hold of him and bring him to the elders at the gate of his town. They shall say to the elders, ‘This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious. He will not obey us. He is a glutton and a drunkard.’ Then all the men of his town are to stone him to death. You must purge the evil from among you.”
Deuteronomy 21:18-21 (NIV)

* “Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves.”
Leviticus 25:44 (NIV)

* “For six days, work is to be done, but the seventh day shall be your holy day, a day of sabbath rest to the Lord.
Whoever does any work on it is to be put to death.”
Exodus 35:2 (NIV)

 

image from Pinterest “conversative Christian quotes.”

 

Far better to do the right thing, to treat other people as what they are, members of your own species, because it is the right thing to do and because of just that – that they are your fellow human beings- rather than to have one’s morality based on conflicting interpretations of pre-scientific, Iron age “scriptures” written by people who thought the earth had four corners and floats on water  [3] and that their god wanted them to ban handicapped people from making temple offerings or even approaching the altar   [4]  and that leprosy, aka Hansen’s disease, could be cured by following their god’s detailed instructions, which are, in a nutshell,   [5]

Get two birds. Kill one. Dip the live bird in the blood of the dead one.
Sprinkle the blood on the leper seven times, and then let the blood-soaked bird fly away.

Next find a lamb and kill it. Wipe some of its blood on the patient’s right ear, thumb, and big toe. Sprinkle seven times with oil and wipe some of the oil on his right ear,
thumb and big toe. Repeat. Finally find another pair of birds. Kill one and dip the live bird in the dead bird’s blood.
Wipe some blood on the patient’s right ear, thumb, and big toe. Sprinkle the house with blood seven times….
(Leviticus 14)

 

 

 

*   *   *

Freethinkers’ Thought Of The Week     [6]

I go into a laboratory and create a unicellular organism that will kill millions of people.  I infect flying/biting insects to serve as the delivery system for that organism.
If I release those insects, am I evil?
Without exception every theist I have asked says, “Yes.”
I then ask them to explain malaria.
(anonymous)

 

 

*   *   *

May you be amused by considering the whys/wheres of dog-poop-depositing;
May you treat your fellow human beings as fellow human beings;
May you put away your holiday to the sound of some excellent tunes;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

[1] Specifically, in our pear tree.

[2] Which moiself  has not been for decades.

[3](Isa 11:12, Ps 24:2, 136:6, Rev 7:1.,

[4] Levi. 21¨16-20

[5] A most appropriate container, as medical scientists have discovered that Hansen’s disease can be cured with antimicrobial MDT (multi drug therapy).

[6] “free-think-er n. A person who forms opinions about religion on the basis of reason, independently of tradition, authority, or established belief. Freethinkers include atheists, agnostics and rationalists.   No one can be a freethinker who demands conformity to a bible, creed, or messiah. To the freethinker, revelation and faith are invalid, and orthodoxy is no guarantee of truth.”  Definition courtesy of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, ffrf.org