Rebecca Solnit: Two Books for Activists

Rebecca Solnit

Rebecca Solnit

Coming out of Women’s History Month, I wanted to share with you a women historian, writer and activist I recently discovered. Rebecca Solnit has been active in social justice movements and writing for nearly forty years. How is it that I just found out about her? She’s the author of twenty or so books on feminism, western and indigenous history, popular power, social change and insurrection, wandering and walking, hope and disaster, including the books Hope in the Dark and Men Explain Things to Me. She’s written a trilogy of atlases of American cities; A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities that Arise in DisasterA Field Guide to Getting Lost; and River of Shadows, Eadweard Muybridge and the Technological Wild West (for which she received a Guggenheim, the National Book Critics Circle Award in criticism, and the Lannan Literary Award). A product of the California public education system from kindergarten to graduate school, she is a columnist at Harper’s and a regular contributor to the Guardian.

That’s her CV. This is how I finally learned about her. Last winter, Bob Garfield, one of the hosts of the NPR radio show “On the Media” was in such despair after the election that he said during a staff phone call that he had trouble getting out of bed in the morning. One of the other people on the call asked, “Have you heard of Hope in the Dark by Rebecca Solnit?” He hadn’t, but contacted Solnit and had her on his show to talk him down. (You can listen to the segment here.)

This was my first introduction to Solnit and I loved what I heard. I immediately bought her books, which did uplift me, and now I want to share.

 

Hope in the Dark: Untold Histories, Wild Possibilities

From the back:

“A book as powerful and influential as Rebecca Solnit’s Men Explain Things to Me, her Hope in the Dark was written to counter the despair of radicals at a moment when they were focused on their losses and had turned their back to the victories behind them—and the unimaginable changes soon to come. In it, she makes a radical case for hope as a commitment to act in a world whose future remains uncertain and unknowable. Drawing on her decades of activism and a wide reading of environmental, cultural, and political history, Solnit argued that radicals have a long, neglected history of transformative victories, that the positive consequences of our acts are not always immediately seen, directly knowable, or even measurable, and that pessimism and despair rest on an unwarranted confidence about what is going to happen next. Now, with a moving new introduction explaining how the book came about and a new afterword that helps teach us how to hope and act in our unnerving world, she brings a new illumination to the darkness of 2016 in an unforgettable new edition of this classic book.”

Hope in the Dark by Rebecca SolnitI am a naturally optimistic person, but even I had been beaten down by the seemingly total rout of all my progressive ideals in the 2016 election. The elevation of hate, misogyny and racism as an antidote to “political correctness;” the false blame of “others” (read “immigrants”) for the economic woes caused by the greedy unregulated financial industry; the constant attacks on women’s health and reproduction; the common acceptance of sexual assault as okay in a presidential candidate; and the blatant attempt to scapegoat and whip up domestic fear of an entire religion appalled me.

I’ve been an activist for women’s rights and environmental justice for over 40 years and I couldn’t see a way forward. Reading this book gave me back my optimism. Rebecca Solnit is on a crusade to help activists turn back to hope as an antidote to despair and burn out. She points out that people have made great changes in the world and can continue to do that in the future. Every defeat is temporary. There is no end point or utopia; it’s the journey that counts. Every page contained something profound. I started highlighting but gave up because most of the book would be covered in day-glo colors. If you need a pick-me-up, I highly recommend this book.

Since reading this book in the winter of 2017, I’ve been even more buoyed by the active resistance to hate and ignorance that has broken out. I marched in the Women’s March the day after the presidential inauguration. My daughter jumped on a subway to protest at JFK airport when the Muslim ban was announced. My husband took time off work to canvass in the Virginia elections. The upcoming generation has proved its mettle with this past weekend’s March for Our Lives. People young and old, of all races and creeds are working for peace and justice across this country. Rebecca Solnit was right: every defeat is temporary. Keeping this in mind keeps hope in the dark.

 

Men Explain Things to Me

From the blurb:

“In her comic, scathing essay “Men Explain Things to Me,” Rebecca Solnit took on what often goes wrong in conversations between men and women. She writes about men who wrongly assume they know things and wrongly assume women don’t, about why this arises, and how this aspect of the gender wars works, airing some of her own hilariously awful encounters. She ends on a serious note—because the ultimate problem is the silencing of women who have something to say, including those saying things like, “He’s trying to kill me!”

This book features that now-classic essay with eight perfect complements, including an examination of the writer Virginia Woolf ’s embrace of mystery, of not knowing, of doubt and ambiguity, a highly original inquiry into marriage equality, and a terrifying survey of the scope of contemporary violence against women.”

Men Explain Thinks to Me by Rebecca SolnitRebecca Solnit provides a funny but sharp insight into the battle of the sexes in Men Explain Things To Me. The funny titular essay inspired the phrase “mansplaining” but she never uses the phrase. Solnit adds eight insightful essays covering most of the major issues raised by feminists. One that touched my heart as well as my head were “Worlds Collide in a Luxury Suite” dealing with rape and sexual harassment. Published in 2011 for TomDispatch it preceded the “Me too” movement by several years. It’s almost distressing how these issues persist even after years of work.

“In Praise of the Threat: What Marriage Equality Really Means” deals with the evolution of women as “equal” in marriage as an unintended consequence of gay marriage. I had never looked at that aspect of marriage equality before. In “Cassandra Among the Creeps” Rebecca Solnit deals with the issue of silencing women’s voices. I worked for several years in academia and with executives in Fortune 50 companies. This was one of my most challenging issues. (“And yet she persisted.”)

Each essay is illustrated with a haunting image by Ana Teresa Fernandez. It’s been decades since I’ve read any feminist philosophy. It was good to get back into the groove with this collection of thoughtful, sometimes funny, and always accessible essays. I hope more people learn about Rebecca Solnit and her writing. Highly recommended!

Here’s an extended interview with Solnit on being hopeful in the age of Trump:

 

Exceptional Women in History Part II:

She Captains, Scientists, and Musicians

Last week in Part I, I introduced you to three books of exceptional women in history which primarily covered royals and aristocrats. This week we look more closely at (un)common women in three books. Readers and writers alike will find inspiration here!

 

She Captains: Heroines and Hellions of the Sea

by Joan Druett

She Captains: Heroines and Hellions of the Sea

This one sat on my TBR shelf for far too long, but finally got its chance. First of all, I’d say the title is misleading. I expected a book of She Captains to be primarily stories of women who captained ships and lead crews. Druett starts off with 78 pages on ancient queens who sailed with their own navies, female Vikings, and actual female pirates. The rest of the book is devoted to women who are captains’ wives or mistresses, victims of pirates, or involved in the business end. Their stories are fascinating and I enjoyed hearing about them, but that is not what I expected.

The writing is a bit dry and some of the stories seem like padding. I could have done without the chapter on women being captured by Barbary pirates and the space given to Lady Hamilton (Admiral Nelson’s paramour), neither of which seem to fit the premise of the book. What did work was the astonishing number of documented women who went to sea as crew disguised as men; or accompanied their husbands on war ships, whalers, or exploratory expeditions. I had no idea that captains regularly took their wives and children with them on long voyages. I’d always suspected that a number of women made their livings from the sea, especially wives, widows and daughters of seaman, fisherman, and shipping magnates; and was glad to have that confirmed. From the chapter on Ice Queens:

“The winters of the last two decades of the nineteenth century regularly discovered a dozen or more whaling vessels snugged up in Pauline Cove at Herschel Island in the western Arctic, all neatly roofed over and with the sides banked up with blocks of snow. Quite a town would be established around these strange residences, for native, intrigued by the exotic community, build their snow houses near by on the ice. Inside the ships, it was cozy and both inside and outside it was sociable…In the 1894-95 season there where no fewer than seven European females at Herschel Island…It was a strangely formal existence, with dances, whist parties, costume balls, concerts (one concert party being called “The Herschel Island Snowflakes”), and amateur theatricals. Dinner parties were staged, complete with amazing menus. One included “Lobster salad & olives, Oyster Pate with French peas” and “Bartlett Pears, with citron & sponge cake” for dessert.”

The book seems well-researched. Druett doesn’t use footnotes or offer a comprehensive bibliography, but does have a sixteen-page chapter by chapter list of bibliographical notes and a thirteen-page index. I’d recommend this book for anyone who needs to have their consciousness raised about women and the sea (it wasn’t just the boys sailing out there!) It’s the kind of book, that doesn’t quite rate as a research book, but can inspire additional research into the stories of the individual women covered.

 

Headstrong:

52 Women Who Changed Science-and the World

by Rachel Swaby

Headstrong: 52 Women Who Changed Science

“Covering Nobel Prize winners and major innovators, as well as lesser-known but hugely significant scientists who influence our every day, Rachel Swaby’s vibrant profiles span centuries of courageous thinkers and illustrate how each one’s ideas developed, from their first moment of scientific engagement through the research and discovery for which they’re best known. This fascinating tour reveals these 52 women at their best—while encouraging and inspiring a new generation of girls to put on their lab coats.”

This is a good book of its kind: a survey of women who made significant contributions to math, science and engineering. The author intended to highlight lesser known women–those whose accomplishments were downplayed in history or, in some cases, outright stolen by male colleagues. (So no Madam Curie, but her Nobel Prize-winning daughter is included.) A good example of how these women are overlooked:

“In 2013, the New York Times published an obituary for Yvonne Brill. It began: “She made a mean beef stroganoff, followed her husband from job to job, and took eight years off from work to raise three children.” It wasn’t until the second paragraph that readers discovered why the Times had devoted several hundred words to her life: Brill was a brilliant rocket scientist who invented a propulsion system to keep communications satellites in orbit, and had recently been awarded the National Medal of Technology and Innovation.”

This happened in 2013! Sheesh! I’ll spare you the feminist tirade, but this is why we need Women’s History Month. Too bad it can’t be Women’s History Year.

By their nature, these kinds of books can only give a summary of the life and work of each woman, so anyone who wants to find out more than what can be conveyed in 4-5 pages, must look elsewhere. The author does a good job of sketching the background, obstacles, and accomplishments of each woman. Her writing is clear and she explains the nature of the science/math in a way that lay readers can understand.

My only complaint is the dearth of woman of color–only three of the fifty-two and one of those died at age 24 before her career could even get started. I can’t help thinking that there were more overlooked women of color out there. With that exception, this was a satisfying survey of women in science.

 

Sounds and Sweet Airs:

The Forgotten Women of Classical Music

by Anna Beer

Sounds and Sweet Airs: the Forgotten women of Classical Music“Sounds and Sweet Airs reveals the hidden stories of eight remarkable composers, taking the reader on a journey from seventeenth-century Medici Florence to London in the Blitz. Exploring not just the lives and works of eight exceptional artists, historian Anna Beer also asks tough questions about the silencing of their legacy, which continues to this day. Why do we still not hear masterpieces such as Hensel’s piano work “The Year,” Caccini’s arias and Boulanger’s setting of Psalm 130? A long-overdue celebration of neglected virtuosos, Sounds and Sweet Airs presents a complex and inspirational picture of artistic endeavour and achievement that deserves to be part of our cultural heritage.”

I have a number of these books about forgotten/unknown female pioneers in a variety of professions. Most have a light-hearted chatty tone with brief biographical sketches. This book was different. Beer is a serious scholar who devoted over 300 pages to just eight women composers from 17C Florence through 20C Britain:

  • Francesca Caccini
  • Barbara Strozzi
  • Élisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre
  • Marianna Martines
  • Fanny Hensel (née Mendelssohn)
  • Clara Schumann
  • Lili Boulanger
  • Elizabeth Maconchy.
She explores their careers in relation to their families, the political situation, role of women, and musical developments of the time. It’s a fascinating journey through musical history and women’s role in it. Unfortunately, I’m not a musician so I skimmed most of the musical theory discussion. Musically knowledgeable people will find this part of the history just as fascinating as the lives of the women. In spite of my ignorance, I enjoyed the stories of these remarkable female artists.

In conclusion.

I hope you’ve enjoyed these two posts covering exceptional women in history. (Part I can be found here, if you missed it.) There is a treasure trove of inspiration for reader and writer alike in these six books and others like them. If you have a favorite book of this type, please let me know in the comments. I’m always on the lookout! Thanks!

 

Exceptional Women in History Part I:

Scandalous Women, Bad Princesses

and Female Kings

It’s Women’s History Month and I thought I’d provide readers and writers alike with some resources on exceptional women in history. I have a soft spot for a particular a kind of history book; collections of short bios of (mostly) unknown women who are remarkable for doing daring/unusual things down through history. They generally follow a pattern of one to five page biographies written in a breezy, modern style emphasizing the outrageousness (for her time) of the woman’s actions.Some of these books are little more than gimmicks or novelty books, best known for their wretched research. Usually there are one or two women that I’ve studied or read about extensively. How accurate the author is with that particular woman is my gauge on how well she’s researched the others.

Why do I like these kinds of books? To be honest, they’re snack food—light fluffy reads that give me a break from heavy turgid research books. They also remind me that—despite what the history books tell us—some women of every age, somewhere in the world were doing remarkable things. The majority (like today) lived ordinary lives, but a few women always stood out and lived extraordinary ones. I like learning about them and being inspired to tell their stories. This kind of book is a good starting point for any historical novelist looking for inspiration. In this post, I’ll do quick reviews of three of my favorites. Next week I’ll do three more.

Scandalous Women

The Lives and Loves of History’s Most Notorious Women

by Elizabeth Kerri Mahon

scandalous women“Throughout history women have caused wars, defied the rules, and brought men to their knees. The famous and the infamous, queens, divorcees, actresses, and outlaws have created a ruckus during their lifetimes-turning heads while making waves. “Scandalous Women” tells the stories of the risk takers who have flouted convention, beaten the odds, and determined the course of world events.”

I collect these “exceptional women in history” books because there are always a few women I haven’t heard about. Mahon’s collection is a cut above the average for this type. There is a nice mix of well-known and not-so-well-known women divided into seven categories:

  • Warrior Queens
  • Wayward Wives
  • Scintillating Seductresses
  • Crusading Ladies
  • Wild Women of the West
  • Amorous Artists
  • Amazing Adventuresses

Mahon spends several pages on each woman giving much more detail than might be expected. Her writing is clear and storytelling quite readable.Two women (among several!) were new to me:

Emilie du Chatelet (1706-1748), a mathematician, physicist, author, and paramour of one of the greatest minds in France, Voltaire. She shocked society with her unorthodox lifestyle and intellectual prowess. Most surprising, she became a leader in the study of theoretical physics in France at a time when the sciences were ruled by men.

Gertrude Bell (1868-1926) had a passion for archaeology and languages. I recently ran across her story again while reading Lawrence and the Arabs by Robert Graves. Bell left her privileged world behind to become one of the foremost chroniclers of British imperialism in the Middle East, and one of the architects of the modern nation of Iraq.

 

Bad Princess: True Tales from Behind the Tiara

by Kris Waldherr


bad princesses“Welcome to Bad Princess by Kris Waldherr (author of Doomed Queens), where you’ll discover what really happens after “Happily Ever After.” From the war-torn Dark Ages of Medieval Europe to America’s Gilded Age, and all the way up to Kate Middleton, Bad Princess explores more than 30 true princess stories, going beyond the glitz and glamour to find out what life was really like for young royals throughout history. A mix of royal biography, pop culture, art, style, and pure fun, Bad Princess is a whip-smart, tongue-in-cheek spin on the traditional princess narrative, proving that it takes more than a pretty crown to be a great leader.”

Bad Princesses is an excellent example of the “exceptional women in history” genre geared to tweens/teens. I very much enjoyed the framing theme of fairy tale princesses vs. the lives of real princesses as a poke at the Disney-fication of the princess image. In fact, the purpose of the book is to introduce some much needed reality to the princess myth for girls and young women and slyly redefine the role of “princess” in more modern terms. The gorgeous illustrations provided by the author are an added bonus.

My only gripe is the Euro-centric nature of the bios. A couple of non-European princesses are included in a rapid review of modern princesses doing interesting things at the end of the book. Among the many princess books on my shelf are the stories of historical South Asian, African, etc. princesses. It would have been nice to have a couple of their stories included in the main text. Still, Bad Princesses is a fun read and imparts an important message. Highly recommended.

 

The Rise of Female Kings in Europe, 1300-1800

by William Monter

female kings in europe“In this lively book, William Monter sketches Europe’s increasing acceptance of autonomous female rulers between the late Middle Ages and the French Revolution. Monter surveys the governmental records of Europe’s thirty women monarchs—the famous (Mary Stuart, Elizabeth I, Catherine the Great) as well as the obscure (Charlotte of Cyprus, Isabel Clara Eugenia of the Netherlands)—describing how each of them achieved sovereign authority, wielded it, and (more often than men) abandoned it. Monter argues that Europe’s female kings, who ruled by divine right, experienced no significant political opposition despite their gender.”

 

I spent my early career working at two major universities and part of that time assisting PhD candidates with their dissertations (primarily crunching data). I recognize the formula when I run across it in academic non-fiction. William Monter tried to fill an empty niche in academic research with his book by analyzing the reigns of thirty women who ruled as kings: jointly with their spouses, singly as heiresses or widows, and married with husbands as subordinate consorts. It’s a fascinating array of women from the little known St. Jadwiga of Hungary, to Juana “the Mad” of Spain, to the flamboyant cross-dressing Christina of Sweden, to Catherine II the Great of Russia. He sprinkles in a good number of women who ruled as regents which bridge a number of the reigns, but admits, ruling women were a distinct minority during the five hundred years covered.

Monter did his research and presents it in a logical straightforward way, which makes the book readable, but on the dull side for the casual reader. Another problem with a “survey” book of research is that it is impossible to get into much depth on any one subject. Each women merits a few pages putting her accomplishments in context, but you must turn to the sources listed in the bibliographic essay at the end to go deeper. This book works as a survey of a niche in history, but it’s not gripping. If a historical fiction writer is looking for inspiration, or a history buff wants an introduction to this topic, this is a useful book.

Next week we move away from the royals with Exceptional Women in History Part II: She Captains, Scientists, and Musicians.

Inferior:

How Science Got Women Wrong—

and the

New Research That’s Rewriting the Story

by Angela Saini

 

I love science and history and truly enjoy it when they overlap in books such as Inferior: How Science Got Women Wrong—and the New Research That’s Rewriting the Story. As a feminist, I keep up with gender-based research and have for several decades. Disproving bad science that stated women’s minds, bodies, and emotions were inferior to men’s was a key element of my job when I worked with school systems to implement Title IX in the 70’s. Title IX was known as “the law that will destroy boys sports” in football-crazy Ohio and basketball-obsessed Indiana where I did most of my work. Maybe those coaches and teachers were right. Look who took home most of the medals on the US teams from the last two Olympics. But Title IX was about so much more than sports. It guaranteed equal access for girls and women to all aspects of education. Continue reading

Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg

by Irin Carmon and Shana Knizhnik

Notorius RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader GinsbergIt’s Women’s History Month so here is another entry in books by and/or about women. I’ve been a fan of Ruth Bader Ginsburg since my earliest feminist days. The second woman to join the Supreme Court (appointed by Bill Clinton in 1993), she’s served for twenty-five years as a liberal voice, sometimes shouting into the wilderness; other times changing minds. As the sole women in a tenured position in the Columbia Law School, she co-founded the Woman’s Rights Project at the ACLU in 1971. RGB shepherded some of the most ground-breaking sex discrimination suits through the courts, arguing six cases before the Supreme Court. She won five. She carefully built a foundation of decisions that led to an inevitable conclusion. Discrimination based on gender was unconstitutional. Continue reading

Hidden Figures:

The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race

by Margot Lee Shetterly

“Before John Glenn orbited the earth, or Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, a group of dedicated female mathematicians know as “human computers” used pencils, slide rules, and adding machines to calculate the numbers that woHidden Figures Coveruld launch rockets, and astronauts, into space.

Among these problem-solvers were a group of exceptionally talented African American women. Originally math teachers in the South’s segregated public schools, these gifted professionals answered Uncle Sam’s call during the labor shortages of World War II. With new jobs at the fascinating, high-energy world of the Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory in Hampton, Virginia, they finally had a shot at jobs that would push their skills to the limits.”

Hidden Figures is my transition book from Black History Month to Women’s History Month. It showcases a quartet of significant–but little known–African American women mathematicians. I saw the movie and knew I wanted to read the book. It was obvious that the movie took a lot of “artistic license,” but the underlying story of black women mathematicians at NASA was so compelling, I had to find out the “real” vs. the “reel” of the movie.

Shetterly did not disappoint. Continue reading

March: Book Three

by John LewisAndrew Aydin (co-authors), Nate Powell (Illustrator)

I finished the third volume in civil rights icon John Lewis’ graphic memoir about his early days in the movement leading up to the march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama. (If you missed it my review of the first two books is here.) March: Book Three is the longest of the trilogy and covers the shortest amount of time. It opens in September 1963 with the bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham which killed four young girls. Everyone remembers the horror of that act of terrorism, but I didn’t know this was the church’s annual “Youth Day” and 24 other children were injured. The terrorists deliberately targeted African American children in their church. Shortly after that, a group of Eagle Scouts, who had just attended a clan rally, shot a 13-year-old black boy from his bicycle and killed him; and a police officer shot and killed a 16-year-old black youth who chucked a rock at a car full of teens who were celebrating the deaths of the girls. The book continues through to March 7, 1965, Bloody Sunday in Selma which included the beating death of Unitarian minister James Reeb, the later peaceful march to Montgomery, and the assassination of Viola Liuzzo, a 39-year-old mother from Detroit who was shuttling volunteers from Birmingham back to Selma. Four months later on August 6, President Johnson signed the 1965 Voting Rights Act into law. Continue reading

March: Book One and March: Book Two

by John LewisAndrew Aydin (Co-authors), Nate Powell (Artist)

Blurb:

March is a vivid first-hand account of John Lewis’ lifelong struggle for civil and human rights, meditating in the modern age on the distance traveled since the days of Jim Crow and segregation. Rooted in Lewis’ personal story, it also reflects on the highs and lows of the broader civil rights movement.

Continuing with my Black History Month project, I finished Representative John Lewis’ trilogy of graphic books: March. These three books are a remarkable achievement and recommended for adults and children alike. Lewis, a true American treasure and Civil Rights icon, wrote a couple of traditional memoirs based on his role in the Civil Rights struggles. This graphic project was inspired by an early “comic” about Dr. Martin Luther King that circulated during those turbulent times and inspired many young people to join the fight. The lead up to, and march for, voting rights in Selma, Alabama is laid out in touching detail.

Book One is the shortest of the three but covers the most time of the trilogy. It deals with Lewis’ early years, his struggle (even against his parents) to get an education and his growing sense of injustice in the segregated south. John Lewis struggled and “pulled himself up by his bootstraps” against enormous odds. This book lays the foundation for everything that is to come, everything that shaped his personality and made him the formidable man he was to become. It concludes with the successful integration of Nashville, Tennessee’s downtown drug store counters. We get a behind the scenes look at the politics and strategies employed by a dedicated group of young people working to make their world more fair: the first steps in the Civil Rights movement. I particularly liked the framing story–the morning of President Obama’s first inauguration–which gave the narrative poignancy. Continue reading

Book Review: Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave and Other Writings

Blurb:

“This dramatic autobiography of the early life of an American slave was first published in 1845, when its young author had just achieved his freedom. Douglass’ eloquence gives a clear indication of the powerful principles that led him to become the first great African-American leader in the United States.”

Welcome to Black History Month!

Frederick Douglass c 1874

I always look forward to February and March because it puts the spotlight on two marginalized groups in history. As a history geek, I would prefer that we didn’t need those spotlights, but given the current political backlash against all “others,” I don’t think we’ll be reaching that point soon. So one of my contributions this year is a review of the venerable autobiography of Frederick Douglass, an escaped american slave, abolitionist, preacher and revered leader of the African American community. As a scholar of ancient history, I value primary sources (which are few in my chosen time of 5C Rome). This autobiography is a precious record of a troubling period in our American History from a man who experienced it first hand. This is a classic of American literature and a rebuke to all folks who insist that the Civil War was fought over “heritage.” Continue reading

“My Hair!” A Birthday Adventure

Yesterday was my birthday and I learned something new. I usually love learning something new. Yesterday’s lesson—not so much. Have you heard of 4DX? Neither had I. Until yesterday.

But let me set this up. I have a few modest birthday traditions. I try not to work on my birthday. I like to dress up, get my hair done or try new makeup, and go out to a movie or Broadway show. I always enjoy a lovely dinner at a fancy restaurant. Since I left the corporate treadmill to write novels, it’s even more fun to skip the ponytail and sweatpants, dress up a little and get out in the world.

I’ve also noticed that Monday birthdays are usually disastrous. I hate Monday birthdays. My thirtieth was a Monday and everything went wrong. I ended up passed out on the bed wearing tights, a hat and a tie and no memory of how I got there. 2016 is a leap year and my birthday should have been on a Monday, but skipped to Tuesday. I thought I was safe. Continue reading