To the Woman Who Gave My Words Their Berth

I’m doing some clever word play…or, at least, I’m trying.  I might be failing just because of these sentences.  But I don’t want you to think that I’m mis-spelling my title.  Yeah, I do that all the time.  Regardless, I’m babbling.

My Sunday morning ritual:

  1.  Wake up
  2. Make coffee
  3. Walk Leia (if my Beloved hasn’t awakened to do this for me because I’m still in my pajamas and I don’t feel like walking up and down the neighborhood in my pj’s because….well…just because)
  4. Make breakfast (cup of cereal usually)
  5. Go to couch at my favorite corner and bundle up on top of super soft silky blanket or under (even better right now given it’s winter).
  6. Eat breakfast and drink coffee while ignoring local news.
  7. Play stupid games on my phone/computer/tablet while ignoring local news.
  8. Snuggle with Leia while still inhabiting my favorite corner of the couch while NBC Today, Sunday morning edition comes on.
  9. Watch Willie Geist on NBC Today, Sunday morning edition.

In this day and age of questionable news (I really wonder if “fake news” exists given that it might just be people’s biases and opinions being questioned so it’s easier to label the news as being “fake”), I feel like Willie Geist brings an air of dignity and integrity to journalism.  The first 15-20 minutes is dedicated to national headlines with some political commentary from Chuck Todd, NBC’s host of Meet The Press.  I can see, here, where people will claim “fake news” because this is political analysis and political commentary and Chuck Todd is, in my humble opinion, very biased.  I might be wrong.  If so, Mr. Todd, I humbly apologize.

The next couple of minutes on Sunday Today are dedicated to the “highs and lows” of the week, usually viral type videos.  I love these moments.  In the “highs,” I find simple acts of goodness.

Then Geist has his “Sunday Sit-Down,” usually with a celebrity.  I used to turn off the television at this point.  But drowsiness and inertia kept me on the couch and now, I will confess, I kind of dream of being interviewed by Willie Geist if my novels were published and possibly became popular.  Because I feel like he digs into more than just the basics of human existence.  He searches more for the real human behind the fame.  I like that.  It doesn’t feel fake.

Towards the end of the show, he pegs into moments of goodness around the nation.  Today, he profiled a set of parents who learned that their seven month-old son was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer.  They were told he was going to die.  They found a different doctor who said “I’ll take a chance” and created a trial using a drug used to treat colon cancer.  The drug worked, but the company refused to sell the drug (Why? Not asked.  Not answered).  So the parents opened their own pharmaceutical company to provide the drugs to their son and to any child who suffers from the same disease.   Their son is 14 years-old and is in remission.  Watching this, I teared up.  I was inspired to do more with my life.

And then, Geist moves into the segment labelled “A Life Well Lived.”  Here, he covers people who have done incredible things but have fallen out of the landscape of history.  They weren’t celebrities.  They weren’t popular.  But they did things with their lives which have improved the qualities of lives for people around the world.

Today, he profiled Evelyn Berezin.  In the late 1960’s, when women were still pretty much relegated to dead-end jobs, this woman who had a physics degree, was working for technology company.  She was assigned to develop/design a computer.  She designed/invented the first word processor.

For me, this morning, less than 30 minutes ago, my attention was snagged.  My high school graduation gift was a word processor.  At 18, I had every intention of being a fantasy writer and my wonderful parents bought me a gift that enabled me to write without destroying my hands.

Growing up, I failed handwriting.  Starting in 4th grade, when we were graded on our cursive abilities, I earned “I’s” every quarter.  This was the equivalent to an F.  In 5th grade, I was given an extra handwriting book to improve my writing.  In college, one professor described my writing as “piercing of the cornea.”  I was the only student allowed to take an exam on a word processor because my handwriting was that bad.

My sister-in-law (brother’s wife) was the first person to give me a journal.  It took me years to fill it because I felt like every word I wrote in there had to be precious and meaningful.  I have that journal stored away in my attic.  I’m afraid of digging it out because of all the silly foolishness that is likely stored within it.

Writing is my life.  I love teaching.  But writing is my existence.  And when I learned how to type, my writing world opened up.  I had a way to pour out words onto a page in a much faster, expeditious manner than before.   I even had a way to store my writing without worrying about losing my words to water damage (my poor mother used to receive angry phone calls from me because she washed my jeans which was where I stored my poetry).  I ran into problems with my floppy disks being damaged and so my words ran away.  But I still had a way to write that was much easier than writing by hand.

I am working on my collection of short stories about the mythology associated with women.  I don’t like to consider myself a feminist.  Too often, feminism is anti-men and I don’t hate men.  I don’t see men as being the source of all my woes.  To be honest, sometimes I feel like women are more likely to sabotage me.  But we do live in a patriarchal society which is struggling to find a way to adjust to a new way of existence.  We have our traditions and our traditional mindsets and traditional roles and finding that our old cookie cutter ways of thinking is difficult to accept.

We have changed.  We haven’t changed.  A tour guide in the Vatican demanded that I move out of his way.  And I know that he would have spoken this way to my six foot, 2 inch tall husband who has broad shoulders and an austere face.  Recently, my television feed has been flooded by commercials for Juvederm, a lip filler.  The commercial keeps showing beautiful, young, slender women in high fashion stalking across the screen, their gauzy, diaphanous clothing swirling in broad sweeps due to the wind created by their strength (makes it sound like they have very powerful farts).  A male voice raps in the background, chanting about beauty or something.  The wording by the announcer/word art on the screen is about owning it or being in charge or having strength.

My strength is determined by having full lips?

My ability to be a powerful individual (one of the words/commands is something about being a boss) is based on my beauty?  My fine lines being filled?

To be an authority, I must be young?  Wear high heels?  Have a smooth face devoid of age lines/care lines/laugh lines?

Berezin created word processors for secretaries.  Women who were in dead end jobs.  But through the word processor, through this simple technology, I feel like we were given our way of speaking, of broadcasting our voices.  I am using my Chromebook right now, to compose this piece.  My Chromebook’s ancestor was the humble word processor.

My words were given their space (their berth) by a woman who was helping women in professional settings.  My words continue to be birthed because I have a housing for them, a digital reservoir, which I can access and edit and revise at any time.

Because of her invention, I have a way to write my short stories.  I have a way to write about the mythology associated with the modern North American woman.  I have a way to express some of my frustration and to encourage change and to encourage a supportive system for all people, regardless of gender or age or identity.

I have a way to live within myself.

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