Dear Businesslady: Advice on Workplace Crushes and Success

Dear Businesslady,

I am deeply, frustratingly, maddeningly in love with my female boss. I am also a woman, and I identify as “mostly straight” — I have only dated men but have had two other deep, frustrating, maddening, ultimately unrequited crushes on women.

My boss is five levels above me. She is one of the heads of our company. She knows how I feel, at least in a jokey sense, because our office is small and casual, and I am kind of … endearingly open about it? That sounds like I’m a freak, but I swear I’m funny and normal. She is friendly toward me, and even affectionate. She drives me home and we talk openly about our lives. But of course she is straight, and of course this is completely unrequited.

I don’t know how to get over it, and it’s making work very hard. I take her feedback very personally. I don’t mean to, but I am crazy about her and her opinions. I can’t leave my job because I love, love, love my job. How do you get over someone you see every day, who manages you, who is the world’s most beautiful and perfect person?

Frustrated in my Cube

Dear Frustrated,

I felt like I had to answer this since it feels like an inversion of the possibly-gay-boss query I fielded in my last column. But even though I took the opportunity to give that person a pretty extensive talking-to about appropriate workplace boundaries, the answer to their question was pretty simple, and the answer to yours is too:

You can’t date your boss.

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“Like Quiz Bowl”: Winning at English MACC

In my life I have only been unerringly good at one thing, and that was English MACC. “MACC” stood for “Mountain Academic Competition Conference,” and “English” designated the subject matter of which I – a four-time MACC champion – was master. “It was like Quiz Bowl,” is what I’ve mumbled, wanting to change the subject, on the few occasions I’ve tried to explain MACC in my adult life. But that’s not true. It wasn’t like Quiz Bowl. There were teams and buzzers, sure, but MACC was all about narrow expertise. You had to be a hedgehog, not a fox.

English MACC worked like this: at the start of the academic year, team members received the List, a document containing the titles and authors of fifty-two (or maybe fifty-four?) works of literature. The bulk of these were poems, short stories, and essays, but there were also eight or ten novels and the same number of plays. Every year, a few titles were added, and a few cycled out. Matches between area high schools were held in the winter and spring, on Mondays, and they culminated in a championship (bracket-style) and then a Superbowl, when champion MACCers from different regions faced off. The first half of an English MACC match consisted of a number of questions asked to two competing teams; if Team A missed their question, Team B got a shot. The second half was a buzzer round. And the best questions, the ones I lived for, began like this:

“Name the source and the author of the following quotation…”

“He finally come into his manhood today, didn’t he? Kind of like a rainbow after the rain -” BZZZZ. A Raisin in the Sun, by Lorraine Hansberry. Bring it.

“Reader, I forgave him at the moment and on the spot. There was such a deep remorse in his -” BZZZZ. Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte. Bring it harder.

Oh, the carnage of August-!”  BZZZZZZ. “A Christmas Memory,” by Truman Capote. I MYSELF AM BRINGING IT.

“Cannon to th- ”  BZZZ. “The Charge of the Light Brigade,”  Alfred Lord Tennyson. Come on come on come on COME ON.

“So we b-” BZZZZ. The Great Gatsby. Fitzgerald. Yes.

I’d get pretty worked up, and the more questions I got right, the louder and more incoherent my inner monologue would become. I tended to channel my aggression at the luckless individual – usually a school administrator – stuck at the podium reading the questions that I was determined to interrupt.

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Unhappy Mothers In Western Art History

mother6

don’t say a word
don’t say a fucking word
i wasn’t even saying anything
great
just keep on doing that then

mother1

no
you can’t turn around yet
i’ll tell you when it’s time to turn around

mother2

well
there it is
another mouth

mother7

please take him
oh god please take him while he’s still sleeping

mother13

christ
it won’t stop making that face
it’s making that face right now, isn’t it
how am i supposed to love something with a face like that

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Link Roundup!

The man who murdered Jordan Davis has been found guilty of it:

Dunn testified on Tuesday he was sure he saw a gun as a teenager appeared to emerge from the SUV making verbal threats against his life. Davis was unarmed, prosecutors said, and no weapon was found in the youths’ vehicle.

During the weeklong retrial, prosecutors argued that Dunn’s actions went far beyond self-defense.

Davis was struck by three bullets while leaning away from the gunfire, an expert testified during the trial. Dunn faced intense questioning as to why he did not call 911, which he blamed on fear and shock.

*

On unsatisfyingly contacting your old bully:

When I finally felt I’d buttered her up enough—and how painful it was to have to feign sweetness and sympathy with her!—I asked the Big Question. “Do you remember leaving calendar reminders for me to kill myself?”

“Omg no! That’s horrible,” she wrote. “I’m really sorry.”

She has still never admitted to leaving the calendar reminders. Later, she said they “sound plausible”—plausible that she could have set them—but she also wondered if someone else might have been in on it, too, because she couldn’t recall doing it. How would I know? “Did you share my information with anyone else?” I asked.

*

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The Toast Is A Business That Makes Money

Were you aware that the Toast is in fact, a business? A business that is in the habit of making money? That Nicole and I are not just a pair of gals who decided to start a fun, free club in our spare time, but in fact Women of Business who self-funded our own media network? Rebecca Greenfield at Fast Company knows:

If The Toast were a typical Silicon Valley startup, and not a feminist website that analyzes the lesbian undertones in Grease and imagines texting convos with literary giants, it might position its growth story as something like this: millions of users in one year, massive engagement, and profits. And this week, The Toast announced its first major expansion, hiring Bad Feminist author Roxane Gay to lead its spin-off site, The Butter.

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Grandma’s Misplaced Recipe for Cultural Authenticity

After we sealed up my maternal grandmother’s ashes on that hot November day, I wondered what I actually knew about her, someone I’d only seen 6 times in my life. I thought about the category of grandmothers generally and how mine compared specifically. 

Nakhon Ratchasima, also known as Khorat, is one of the North Eastern provinces. It’s the place where my grandmother was born, grew up as the youngest of many, and eventually married a monk-turned-teacher and had children. It was also the place where she finally died, and where just one of her children (my mother) and her only grandchild (me) came to lay her ashes to rest. 

My grandmother’s given name was Chawb. Many Thai names are poetic words; hers was, simply and unaltered, the everyday verb, ‘to like’ or ‘to enjoy.’ In life, Chawb wasn’t like any other grandma I’d heard about: her mouth was a straight line, her first love was money, and she relished scolding people. 

As I write this I mildly fear she’ll reconstitute herself and reach for me. Never speak ill of the dead–particularly those who have already left a toxic legacy.  

*

My grandmother made manipulation her life’s study. The long letters she sent to England in beautiful handwritten Thai were chapters from her thesis, But I’m Your Mother; the occasional international phone calls she made, the ones which made our household tense for days afterward, were follow-up seminars. It’s a blessing that my grandmother never learned to use Skype. 

Illness and death were the only things that had the power to quieten my grandmother. My mother had the chance to give her something that wouldn’t be met with a rising harangue: a truly excellent funeral and a final resting place. My mother always believed one day she’d finally be able to please my grandmother. 

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“I’ve Been Calling Her Krandal”: Edna Krabappel’s Finest Moments

Previously in this series: Not Allowed In The Deep End — Ralph Wiggum.

The world owes a great deal to minor Simpsons characters, and I have taken it upon myself to periodically-yet-irregularly celebrate them as the spirit moves me. Today we honor Edna Krabappel.

There’s a scene in Some Like It Hot where Marilyn Monroe’s character (Sugar Kane!) smiles heartbreakingly at Tony-Curtis-as-Josephine and explains why she’s running away from men:

I’m not very bright, I guess, just dumb. If I had any brains, I wouldn’t be on this crummy train with this crummy girls’ band. I used to sing with male bands but I can’t afford it anymore. That’s what I’m running away from. I worked with six different ones in the last two years. Oh, brother! I can’t trust myself…All they have to do is play eight bars of ‘Come to Me, My Melancholy Baby’ and my spine turns to custard. I get goose pimply all over and I come to ‘em, every time. That’s why I joined this band. Safety first. Anything to get away from those bums. You don’t know what they’re like. You fall for ‘em and you really love ‘em – you think this is gonna be the biggest thing since the Graf Zeppelin – and the next thing you know, they’re borrowing money from you and spending it on other dames and betting on horses. Then one morning you wake up, the guy is gone, the saxophone’s gone, all that’s left behind is a pair of old socks and a tube of toothpaste, all squeezed out. So you pull yourself together. You go on to the next job, the next saxophone player. It’s the same thing all over again. You see what I mean? Not very bright. I can tell you one thing – it’s not gonna happen to me again – ever. I’m tired of getting the fuzzy end of the lollipop.

This is the story of Mrs. Krabappel’s life; one fuzzy lollipop after the other. She’s one of the only characters in the series who hasn’t spent her whole life in Springfield. She’s been to college — Bryn Mawr! — and now she’s in a nowhere town teaching “a bunch of dead-eyed fourth graders while [my] husband runs naked on a beach somewhere with [our] marriage counselor.”

He apparently takes some time off from tropical bliss to mess with her; in season 3′s “Bart The Lover,” Mrs. Krabappel’s car breaks down and her mechanic tells her “Bingo, bango, sugar in the gas tank. Your ex-husband strikes again.” The casual bingo, bango delivery is perhaps the cruelest touch of all; she can’t catch a break.

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Gal Science: How Nail Polish Works

As The Toast searches for its one true Gal Scientist, we will be running a ton of wonderful one-off pieces by female scientists of all shapes and sizes and fields and education levels, which we are sure you will enjoy. They’ll live here, so you can always find them.

I got my first gel manicure last week and it was AWESOME. Sure, it looks amazing and hasn’t chipped all week but it’s the chemistry that really blew my mind.

Chemistry gets a pretty bad rap. In school it’s a class to survive rather than enjoy. In the news any mention of chemicals is usually a safety warning, something to avoid rather than celebrate. Like nail polish, fear of chemicals is also aggressively marketed to women, particularly through advertisements for “natural” or “chemical free” cosmetics. This makes worrying about the safety of chemicals seem more feminine, perhaps a bit irrational, and definitely unscientific.

Some scientists like to make clever jokes about how clever they are for not falling for “chemical free” marketing. Yes, “chemical free” is kind of ridiculous and technically impossible, but I also understand the underlying sentiment of wanting to find products made with better, more sustainable, or less harsh chemicals. As a scientist I also understand just wanting to learn more about the ingredients in the products that I use. What’s unscientific about wanting to know how things work and how they’re made?

So let’s start with the chemistry of regular nail polish, because it is made of things like explosive cotton and fish scales.

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