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  1. 13. Ma’am

    Recently, a twentysomething girl on an airplane called me “Ma’am.”

    I was on my way to Chicago for a reunion with a wonderful group of women who dubbed themselves the Dowagers years ago in graduate school, when they were far from dowagers. I was more of a dowager than they were. I was one of the oldest in our program, though at the time I was only in my thirties.

    Still, no one called me “Ma’am” back then. Read more →

  2. 14. Game Face

    Early on, I learned that game faces were not my forte.  Read more →

  3. 15. Letter Phobic

    My mother wrote letters whenever she was angry. Pages and pages typed on her electric typewriter, filled with reworked accusations framed by Whiteout and multiple X’s savaged into the paper. Clearly written in a flurry of rage. It was enough to make anyone hate letters.

    At least, it was enough to make me hate them. Read more →

  4. 16. Anniversary

    My mother died two years ago today.

    Her death was sudden yet unsurprising. She was only seventy, but her body and spirit were so very weary. Weary of weight and pain and medicine and needles and sugar counts. And of the countless limitations that ruled her: limitations on what she could eat, how far she could walk, how long she could sit in a car, on an airplane, in a chair, in a bed.

    By the end, there was no comfortable place for her. Her obesity made even stillness excruciating. Read more →

  5. 17. Change Schmange

    I hate change. Hate it.

    Part of the problem is that I’m wildly indecisive and a devout pessimist. I take Murphy’s Law seriously: What can go wrong, must go wrong.

    So, while some people see change as an opportunity for growth and good fortune, I see it as potential disaster waiting to ambush me. Read more →

  6. 18. Potty Mouth

    I was in third grade when I uttered my first curse word.

    I told myself I did it by accident, but really it was in the name of love. Read more →

  7. 19. Faker

    When my grandmother died, I hadn’t spoken to her in over a decade. My mother was her least-favorite child, which made me and my twin sister her least favorite grandchildren. (My younger brother she could forgive for being my mother’s child since he’s a boy.)

    She died recently, less than a year after my mother. We joked that she couldn’t even give my mom a full year’s peace in whatever afterlife there might be. Read more →

  8. 20. A Rose by Any Other Name is a Different Friggin Rose

    Recently, Anna Murray, a good friend and kick-ass writer, wrote a series of posts about women changing their names when they marry. As part of the project, she asked friends to share their reasons for their choices. Anna’s posts are provocative and well-researched. I particularly love the one where she debunks the myth that women have always taken their husbands’ names. I highly recommend reading the whole series in one sitting.

    The project got me thinking about my own choice to keep my surname.

    I never considered changing my last name, especially since I married later in life, in my mid-thirties. By then, I was known in all my social and professional circles as “Colette Sartor.” Any name recognition value I’d built through the years would have gone out the window if I changed my name. And, from what I’ve heard, legally changing names is an administrative nightmare.

    But really, the choice to keep my surname was more personal than that. Read more →

  9. 21. Family Blood Sports

    I like to think that, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve evolved and learned to take unexpected events in stride. That I no longer adhere to the lesson ingrained in me since childhood about how every crisis, particularly an unexpected one, requires a huge fight.

    But sometimes, despite my best intentions, my early crisis management training creeps up and overwhelms me.

    Take, for instance, this past Super Bowl Sunday. There was no rising above adversity, no gracious laughter in the face of a screw up.

    Instead, there were massive acts of bitchiness. On my part, of course.

    As if there were any question about that. Read more →

  10. 22. Don’t Hide the Crazy

    I started out my dating life as a serial monogamist.

    From my teens until well into my twenties, I held on tight to my relationships, especially the difficult ones. Nothing worth having should be easy to get. I would find the formula to make a difficult relationship work.

    Guess what? No formula. No success. In my late twenties, I gave up on serial monogamy and started dating in earnest for the first time.

    I had no idea what I was doing. Read more →

  11. 23. Your Own Doppelganger

    I’m an identical twin, so you’d think it would be easy for me to tell other twins apart.

    It’s not.

    In fact, sometimes I can’t even tell me and my sister apart. Read more →

  12. 24. Speak Up!

    I spent my high school years at a tiny, all-girls Catholic school.

    Before I go on, I need you to banish the image of a stereotypic Catholic school girl–sweet-faced, wearing knee-high socks and a pleated tartan miniskirt that barely covers her ass, her glasses lowered as she pouts with puffy, bee-stung lips.

    Excise her from your mental database.

    That was not our school. At our school, we were expected to exceed stereotypes, to assert ourselves, to be intellectually curious, volubly so.

    To speak while female. Read more →

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Photos (except blog): Bob Ohanesian & Stephanie Keith.

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