This is going to be a short post because I have little mental bandwidth left. I have worked over 91 hours for 33 days. This week, I worked 3 1/4 hours a day, on average.
I am trying to do three or four things at once. Look over a chapter and make changes, edit the citations, and add them to my ongoing bibliography, using ZoteroBib. Sometimes after a few hours, my brain hurts. I am not sure I will keep this up, but I must try.
I picked up the pace this week, working an average of 3.7 hours a day. The weekend was particularly productive. On Saturday, I worked for 3.5 hours and on Sunday for over 5. My hard work this week led to my sending another chapter to my editor.
I tried using Zotero, installing it with help on Friday. Then I started adding citations. The process was overwhelming. My conclusion was that it was more trouble than it was worth. I am going to do the footnotes manually and use the cloud version of Zotero, Zotero Bib, for my bibliography. I will have the editor copy-edit everything. This is the best solution. If I was just beginning a project, I probably would use Zotero or some other citation manager. It is just too late in the process to learn something new.
This journey of getting my manuscript ready for publication is anxiety provoking. It is hard to find the balance between trying to perfect it and realizing I have to finish. Without the deadline of May 20024, I will probably keep tinkering and tinkering with it with no end in sight.
Tonight is Erev of Rosh Hashanah. L’Shana Tova to everyone who celebrates.
I continue to work every day, editing my manuscript. Counting today, I worked 19 days so far, about 2 hours and 15 minutes a day. I have been editing and tightening the last chapter, which deals with college presidents’ wives.
As I go about my editing, I am aware of all the parts I have cut out of the manuscript. It is painful to contemplate some of them. I also wondered if I had cut out too much. Of course, I will be the only one who will know what is missing.
The other overwhelming aspect of this process is something I talked about last week. I am still trying to figure out the most efficient way to get my footnotes or endnotes in order and then do a bibliography.
I installed Zotero, but I am not sure it is the answer. It seems like there will be a significant learning curve and a lot of manual entry of information. Another problem is that probably my editor would also need to install Zotero, so if he doesn’t want to do that then it is not feasible for me to use it. I will let you know when I have this all figured out.
As I said in my previous post, Good News, I am under a strict, self-imposed deadline, to send a clean as possible copy of my manuscript, Dames, Dishes and Degrees, to Levellers Press, by May 1 2024. This still seems like a daunting prospect, but I have made some progress.
I started work on August 21, and was able to send the introduction and chapter one to an editor I am working with. I have worked eleven days at an average of 2 hours and fifteen minutes a day. I am hoping to get to more like three or four hours a day, at some point.
I then started working on editing and tightening up Chapter 8. Most of my book deals with people who are dead. The last chapter, however, looks at two different college president’s wives and some controversies they were involved in. Because of this, the press wants to have their lawyer look at it. That is why I have skipped from the beginning to the end in my editing process.
While I was working on the chapter, I realized I have done a terrible job keeping track of my citations and sources. Years ago, I was using a citation manager, RefWorks, which I got from UMASS since I am an alum. Long story short, they went private a few years ago and the school no longer offers it. I was too busy to start with a new program, so I just continued powering through to finish the manuscript.
Now I have to figure out how to format all my notes and generate a bibliography. I am going to try to use Zotero. If anyone has any other suggestions, please let me know.
Sunday I came back from attending Nashim: A Jewish mediation Retreat for Women. It was in-person for six days at Wisdom House, Litchfield, Connecticut. The retreat was remarkably like the virtual one that I participated in at the beginning of the pandemic, three years ago.
While I was at Wisdom House, I experienced this retreat as vastly different from the Zoom one. Reading over my 2020 post about the experience, I see more similarities. Yesterday at the closing of Nashim, one of the leaders told us that we should be scheduling our next retreat right away. The wisdom one receives during multiday silence needs to be replenished either periodically or regularly. I came away from the week hoping to reinvigorate both my mindfulness practice and my spiritual observances.
One of the differences between the virtual and in-person retreat was Wisdom House. This retreat and conference center was originally the home for the Daughters of Wisdom College and Convent. The Daughters of Wisdom began in 18th century France. The grounds are beautiful with lovely gardens and impressive views of mountains.
Although its’ website describes the campus as an “inter-faith” community, it felt very Christian to me, with a wooden cross in my room. As a Jew, I most often think about Christians from a place of trauma for past mistreatment and wounds. During my time at Wisdom House, I was able to open my view and see that just as there are many ways to practice Judaism, Christians come in many flavors and varieties.
It turned out that one of the most peaceful places I have ever spent time in was a small garden with two statues of Mary. I found these to exude a sense of warmth and comfort that was very healing. During the retreat, I gained insights about myself and a better understanding of the potential of inter-faith interactions.
Last month news broke that FX Matt, a Utica NY based contract brewer, would acquire Flying Dog Brewery based in Frederick MD. FX Matt is the 14th largest craft brewery in the country, producing 183,200 barrels in 2021. Besides providing brewing capacity for other brewers including Flying Dog, FX Matt’s own beer line includes Saranac and Utica club. It is the 4th oldest family-owned brewery in the United States, dating from 1888.
Flying Dog, the country’s 34th largest craft brewery, is much younger. It began as a brew pub in Aspen CO in 1990. In 2006 the company purchased Frederick Brewing Company and is now based solely in Maryland. In 2009 both the Michigan and Colorado liquor commissions banned the labels connected with the brewery’s Raging Bitch beer. Flying Dog sued, winning both cases and used its $6 million settlement to create the First Amendment society. It is not clear if FX Matt will continue Flying Dog’s controversial advertising approach. I personally find such a name and its’ connected labeling misogynistic and salacious. I am, however, free not to buy the beer.
Flying Dog produced 81,231 barrels in 2021. Once the two breweries have combined, their output would make them a top ten craft brewery, according to the Brewers Association’s definition. Although the deal between the two companies will produce one larger brewery, the projected production level of at least 264,000 barrels is miniscule compared to the 495 million barrels Anheuser-Busch produced in 2021.
A few weeks ago, I was thinking about something and the phrase, “the hostess with the mostest” popped into my head. People used this saying to describe Perle Mesta who was well known in Washington for her parties and social events. She also raised large sums of money for Harry Truman in 1948. 
Googling Mesta, I realized that she was appointed Ambassador to Luxembourg during the Truman administration. Ambassadorships are often rewards for fundraising. Her appointment in 1949 made her the third women to become a minister to a country. Because of Google, Wikipedia, and the internet, idle curiosity can send you down many rabbit holes. In the case of Perle Mesta, I went in two directions.
One was to explore the musical film done in the 1950’s about Mesta. The film was an adaptation of a Broadway show. Both had the title, “Call Me Madam” To this day, one way of addressing a female ambassador is as “Madam Ambassador.” I was able to get a DVD of the film and watched it last week. It starred Ethel Merman and a noticeably young Donald O’Connor.
Of course, there was romance, princesses, and a lot of other silliness. There were also a lot of insider jokes about Margaret Truman, the daughter of Bess and Harry who was an author. The movie was very dated but fun to watch because Merman is a force of nature, and the music was by Irving Berlin.
The other topic that interested me in thinking about female ambassadors was to find out who was the first female ambassador and when that happened. The honor went to Eugenie Anderson who received her post to Denmark in the same year as Mesta.
In the early drafts of Dames, Dishes, and Degrees, I wrote about Lucy Benson, who during the Carter administration was the top-ranking female State Department official. Today 33 % of American ambassadors are women. As far as I know, a musical has not been made about any of them.
I apologize for not posting last week. I was out of town, attending the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival and visiting with relatives. I have been to New Orleans many times and I love the city. It is a unique place with a very lively street life; something you don’t find in the semi-rural, mostly suburban place I live.
Jazz Fest runs over two weeks and many, many people attended. New Orleans has a tropical climate, so it was hot and muggy with one day of torrential rain. That was the day we didn’t go because of the mud.
We saw a lot of performances including Santana and Melissa Etheridge. It was great to hear so much live music. We also listened to people we had never heard of before, but I plan to listen to them going forward. One of these performers was Sue Foley who plays a pink Fender caster guitar. Another was Martha Redbone who is a partly indigenous women with great politics and a great voice.
This was my first time attending Jazz Fest. I tried two times before but both events were cancelled due to the pandemic. I plan to attend again. I am also going to try to go to more live music performances because I really enjoyed doing that at Jazz Fest.
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.
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.