A while ago I watched a movie on the E! channel called Why Can’t My Life be a Rom-Com. The premise of the movie was that two young women go to the Hamptons to try to marry rich men. To aid them in this, they use a 50-year-old dating guide.
Like most romantic comedies the heroine, Eliza, has to choose between two men; one who is everything the book encouraged young women to look for – rich, handsome, and settled – and the other who seems more carefree, funny, and aimless.
Her friend, Sofia, spends the summer using the book to pursue another rich guy while sleeping with the person she works with at a beach shack restaurant. Her rich guy turns out to gay. Sofia, an incredibly shallow person, not really having any another choice, decides love is more important than wealth. The heroine also decides this but is more fortunate, getting to have her cake and eat too, since her earnest, funny, summer worker turns out to be the son of the owner of the resort.
The movie was very formulaic, not particularly good, and somewhat dated in its assumptions about what a modern woman needs. While watching it, I realized I had seen the plot before in the 1950s movie, How to Marry a Millionaire. That movie starred Marilyn Monroe, Lauren Bacall and Betty Grable. Right there it is a better movie because of the cast. The male counterparts to these three models who are fortune hunters includes William Powell. The premise is the same as Why Can’t My life be a Rom-Com but seems more appropriate for the 1950s which promoted marriage and domesticity than 2023.
Apparently, in 2007, Nicole Kidman bought the rights to How to Marry a Millionaire, hoping to remake and maybe star in it. Perhaps she realized the idea that women need rich men to take care of them is not that humorous and gave up.
During President Biden’s State of the Union this past February, he endorsed harm reduction as one strategy to reduce the epidemic of drug overdoses. What harm reduction means on the ground can vary from state to state, city to city. The goal of harm reduction is to provide drug users with tools, enabling them to use drugs safely. Harm reduction doesn’t seek, in the short run, to end drug use. Rather these programs work to reduce deaths due to overdoses.
Harm reduction which can include needle exchange, fentanyl strip testing, and the use of the overdose reversal drug, naloxone, can be controversial. Critics often see these programs as encouraging drug use. Many conservatives feel abstinence, just saying no, is a better approach. In general, the country’s drug control policy for many years has focused on military style interdiction and punitive measures for drug addicts.
A critical component of any harm reduction program is needle exchange. The CDC states that new users of needle exchange services are “five times as likely to enter drug treatment as those who don’t use the programs.” Needle exchange also reduces infections including HIV and hepatitis.
Despite the science behind harm reduction programs, the country remains ambivalent about it. Many states prevent the use of fentanyl test strips, another critical part of most programs. The laws consider the strips to be drug paraphernalia. According to the New York Times, “While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention encourages the use of syringe exchange programs, … federal funds typically cannot be used to purchase syringes for drug use.”
Because of this ambivalence, most harm reduction programs run on a shoestring budget and face legal peril every day. There needs to be concerted advocacy for harm reduction funding and a push to make needle exchange fully legal. These actions would save lives.
I recently read a book, Leaving Coy’s Hill: A Novel by Katherine Sherbrooke which is a fictionalized account of Lucy Stone’s life. Lucy Stone was an abolitionist and suffragette who also promoted marriage equality. She was the first woman in Massachusetts to obtain a college degree. She attended Oberlin, graduating in 1847.
She eventually married but kept her birth or “maiden name”. Today about twenty-five percent of women keep their own names. Since the 1970s, women, whether married or no,t have the option of calling themselves Ms. This was not available to Lucy Stone.
I liked the book, but I had some issues with it. I think there are inherent problems with writing fiction about a real person. If the author fictionalizes or imagines thoughts and feelings of the subject, the reader wonders how they could know.
Since Lucy Stone was an amazing person that many people know nothing about, my concern is that the novel’s version of her life may be the only information the reader receives. They may think it is all true when it is not.
Following the Civil War, the suffragist movement split, with Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony advocating for the vote for everyone; leading them to oppose the 15th amendment which gave black men the vote. Lucy Stone took the opposite position supporting giving the franchise to black men; thus delaying the same opportunity for all women.
Leaving Coy’s Hill presents this controversy and division from Lucy’s point of view. With historical hindsight, we can see that there wasn’t a good choice. Given Sherbrooke’s approach, Susan B. Anthony becomes the villain of the story which may surprise people.
Reading Leaving Coy’s Hill made me think about winners and losers in history and who becomes the face of a political or social movement for subsequent generations. Stanton and Anthony won the suffragism history war while Lucy Stone lost. The women I write about in Dames, Dishes, and Degrees are the losers in a historical narrative that places second wave feminism front and center.
As I said I few months ago, I bought new skates.
Because of Covid, I delayed picking them up until last Wednesday. The skates are smaller, narrower, and stiffer because they are new. I have skated with them two times with mixed success. Last Wednesday after I picked them up, I went straight to skating. When I first got on the ice, I felt like I had no idea what I was doing or supposed to do. Gradually my muscle memory kicked in and I could do some things including skating forward and skating backwards.
After a half hour of minimal skating close to the boards, I had a lesson with my coach, Kiara. Because I was warmed up, I did do some more things and even skated out into the middle of the ice which amazed me. The skates felt okay except for a little rubbing where the top of the tongue meets my skin. When I got my skates 10 years ago, I had the same problem and I used to put little round cosmetic pads in-between the tongue and my skin. Kiara suggested I buy gel sleeves which I did.
Monday was the next day I skated and it wasn’t as successful as I hoped. I was very nervous when I first stepped on the ice. My legs were shaking to almost the same degree they shook when I had my episodes of stage fright. After about 30 minutes of the 50 minute session, I did feel warmed up and I was able to do a few more things. I wore the gel sleeves over my socks and the skates were more comfortable.
This process of breaking in the skates and returning to my fairly minimal level of skating proficiency will take some time. One bright note is I am already spinning better than previously. This gives me hope that once I have gotten used to the new skates, because they are the right size and fit better, my skating will actually improve. One can always help hope.
My new skating bag