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For as long as I’ve been with my husband, he’s been scaring the crap out of me. Given that there’s a 99% likelihood I’ll jump out of my skin when someone enters the room without giving prior audible notice, I manage to keep this single-player game of his I call “It’s Halloween All The Time, Bitch!” at Beginners: Level 1. Some standards in his arsenal:

-Jumping out of closets I’ve watched him enter moments before
-Touching me while not in my field of vision
-Touching me while making a noise, while in my field of vision
-Putting his face an inch from mine and doing a scary voice

That last one is especially pathetic. Who really gets frightened by that in broad daylight? This puss-bag. Jonathan can hardly contain his boyish delight when I get so frightened my eyes well up like I’m not a grown woman with a rational mind. He loves the watering eyes. But you know what I love? Never having to do my own lawn care or ironing or most of the dishes. It all evens out in the end. And since I’m on the subject of being afraid of things…

If Tears for Fears had a song called I Can’t Draw I would’ve played it as I stared at my blank piece of paper attempting to complete this month’s assignment. I would’ve played that imaginary song because I was terror-weeping, guys—that is the specific point I’m trying to make here. A couple of contextual quotes:

Anyone can draw! – My art professor friend, who is the coolest
Your drawing looks like shit, Bridget! – My high school art teacher, also the coolest

I don’t actually enjoy drawing—hence, the Fear Tears— but thank goodness other people do because otherwise we wouldn’t have anything beautiful to look at or use. I’m not sure if anyone else in the group has a particular fondness for drawing, but it looked like they made a go of it, regardless, and at least they had the decency to not cry or complain about it.

Pete drew a large piece of cocquina from his yard. The rock was the size of our table at the bar, so, needless to say, he didn’t bring it with him. But he did deliver bonus material in the form of a color-coded key at the bottom of his drawing.

Yana took to the yard as well, choosing to sketch a standard river rock available at large moving bodies of water or your local home improvement megastore.

I also drew a river rock, removed first from nature, then from Home Depot, then from a potted plant in our backyard.

Jonathan found a lovely little striated rock at work and drew it with a heavy hand—either to add gloss or to soothe himself after having to listen to his wife whine about how much she hates drawing.

Nick and Jaclyn bought their rocks awhile back at a rock shop not knowing they would serve a purpose for this assignment. Synchronicity! Nick’s looks like Fool’s Gold and Jaclyn’s looks like what the inside of someone’s body might look like if you took a chunk out for scientific purposes or because they thought frightening you on the daily seemed like a cool thing to do.

Joanne drew a pretty geode she found at her mom’s house. It tickles me to think about how popular geodes are right now, so much so that they’re being sold on Etsy and at Home Goods stores. The Kids be like: Look at all these amazing natural decorative items I can put in my home! Their Hippie Moms be like: Oh, crystals and animal horns and cross-stitch and succulents? Been there. Done that. Have the macrame plant holder to prove it. Oh, you have a geode you bought for 15 dollars? That’s cool, I DUG THIS FROM THE EARTH WITH MY BARE HANDS WHILE ON A SPIRIT QUEST IN UTAH BEFORE YOU WERE BORN.

This month’s conversation got a bit lady warrior-ish to start, with some hot talk of the Lean In movement, particularly about how it’s nice work if you can get it and can also afford to pay the nanny. I’m pro-woman and pro-man, but I’m doubtful that Sheryl Sandberg’s book thoroughly addresses the fact that the single mother who has two jobs might not be able to lean all the way in due to trying to keep a roof over her head and food on the table and maybe, just maybe, she’s going to just have to silently endure some dude at work talking over her and calling her a bitch behind her back because Mama’s gotta get paid. I know Ms. Sandberg has received plenty of criticism and I’m not here to keep a hustlin’ gal down. I have not read the book. I hear the book does somewhat touch on those in lower socioeconomic brackets and that her solution is very “You too, y’all! Ask for that raise!” According to an article I read recently, she spoke to this very issue, offering an anecdotal story in which a financially-strapped lady’s dream did come true; she asked for a raise and got it. I’m glad that happens. But I’ve got a few of more versions of that scenario—one in which a woman I know was laughed at when she asked for a raise (even though she does the work that should be required of three people) and several others in which women continue to be told some version of “We don’t give raises/we’re on a freeze/you know, what with the economy and all,” while their male counterparts, who may or may not be equally qualified, are rewarded with promotions and salary increases.

Admittedly, my experience is limited and my opinions are based upon the accounts of friends and family. I’m proud to say that I have been given a raise when I’ve asked and have been promoted. I’m happy to see other gals in my small circle getting ahead in their careers as well. However, we’ve got so much further to go when it comes to balancing the scale. Part of the reason women are so obsessed with this ridiculous idea of “having it all” is that we’re often expected to do it all—have the babies, keep the body, make the money and bake the cookies. It’s not just the doing it all and being it all, either. It’s the absurd attitudinal expectations that come along with it: sit down, shut up and smile. It’s the whole completely asinine “ladylike” thing—having to be nice and polite and to offer unquestioning respect to men, not because they’ve earned it, but because they were born with a D and B’s. When a woman stands up for herself she is being difficult; when a man does it, he’s being a leader.

Slowly, but surely, traditional gender roles are changing. (It’s 2013 and we’re seeing a father in a television commercial doing his daughter’s laundry—a thing that happens in real life. Small victory!) It’s my hope that, in the future, we’ll see more men who—like so many wonderful chick-positive men I know—gain a new appreciation for their stay-at-home or “working woman” counterparts, take on equal responsibility in the home and treat the women at work like they would want their mothers, wives, sisters and daughters to be treated. Until then, I’m glad things like Lean In are getting people talking and thinking about what we can do to make the workplace and home better by changing our attitudes and actions in both places.

After solving the nation’s workplace problems, we moved onto Office Topics Light.

Joanne told a story about the way her office copier/printer causes non-stop work drama. (Pinky swear, as I typed that last sentence, I heard one co-worker just jokingly say to another at the printer: Way to go, you jammed it. It’s 5 o’clock on a Friday and the Universe is all, “Oh, copy THAT, copycat.”)

Jaclyn brought the evening to a close with an excellent retelling of the time she was picking her nose at work and got busted by a co-worker. The crusty boog on top of her story was that, instead of politely moving on with her life when she was caught red-handed (green-fingered? sorry?), she turned to the guy and said, “You just caught me picking my nose.” Bulletin! Catching someone going in on a nostril isn’t nearly as interesting as having them turn to you afterward and unblinkingly call further attention to the incident. In addition, there is nothing cooler or classier than owning up to your mistakes, weaknesses or embarrassments. I hope Jaclyn’s co-worker fully appreciated how generous it was of her to bequeath this incident to his Cool Story, Bro collective. He has undoubtedly busted this story out a few parties since it happened. See? Booger picking really is a gift that keeps on giving.

Bart is sort of like that, too. It seems like every assignment teaches me something. I suppose the reminder it provided this month was that, no matter your fear du jour—whether it be drawing, asking for what you deserve at work or getting caught going about your boogery business—chances are, in the end you’re going to be fine, so you might as well just go for it.

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