Boss lady.

Dumb rhetorical(ish) question. In our current cultural climate, is it cool to strive for forthright femininity AND a Nietzschean-level of achievement?

Hey! Why not.

But is it realistic? Can we dodge the qualifiers, judgements, contingencies? (You know the answer to that.)

“Lady Boss.” That term makes me wanna bash my head with a rusty shovel. Not only does it demote women to a subcategory of bosshood which is lesser than its root, but it often unwittingly ascribes traditional feminine characteristics to the job of bosshood.

I guess in a practical sense this isn’t a tragedy. Many of those qualities are helpful for people in management positions. And you know, I have maternal instincts and empathy and all that. I will happily bake you cupcakes. I also like mascara and manicures and shoes that click when I walk. But if I decide to not act like your mommy-wife, I’m not a shitty boss. I’m a regular one.

Slate’s The Waves podcast unpacked “Lady Boss” as a concept a few weeks ago. I dropped a little audio excerpt of it here (95 seconds) because I’m like, goddamn it.

TRANSCRIPT OF MY FAVORITE EXCHANGE...

NOREEN MALONE:
…um… the “Boss Lady” is totally in command of her emotions, and she’s better than you at everything and she’s not apologizing for it, she’s not feeling bad about being… you know sort of leaving anyone in her wake, she’s, she’s not… um… she doesn’t need to read like management guides… ah… on like, how to, you know how to get a raise at work, she was—

JUNE THOMAS:
Right, she might write one—

HANNA ROSIN:
She writes them, yeah exactly—

NOREEN MALONE:
Exactly. Is that, do you think that’s a fair assessment of the “Boss Lady?”

(Beat.)

HANNA ROSIN:
Ughk. I hate women. I don’t wanna be a woman anymore.

Teen angst.

Is it possible to be born with teen angst? And when does it go away? Seriously. ‘Cause I’m still waiting.

I mean there’s a lot to be angry about right now, and sometimes I will discover a new pocket of rage that lives in my body and be like, oh, you aren’t mine, you belong to all the women who were sexually abused and are unable to talk about it, and then I feel ok rutting around in there until I have a enough of a grasp to yank it out and set it on fire and scream, “Everyone to go look at that fucking fire!”

Stuff like that.

But this morning… I dunno. I’ve been taking thyroid meds since I had my son ’cause sometimes the ol’ hormones don’t snap back. You’re supposed to wake up every morning and take one first thing, then wait 30-60 min before you eat.  This morning I got so angry and righteous about it. “Fuck YOU, asshole, I’m not waiting!” And I took my pill with some cold coffee and shoved three sprouted grain mini-muffins into my face.

Like, who wakes up and gets angry at medicine?  I wasn’t even hungry! I was just pissed that someone was telling me what to do before I even got out of bed.

And anyway, fuck who? Who am I fucking here, besides myself? The pharmaceutical companies for not making pills that can be taken with food? My kid for messing up my hormones when he came out? The Universe for giving women’s bodies the power to produce life and then punishing them for it at every turn?

It feels like the kind of hair-trigger rage that is typical in teenagers, in that it immediately becomes global without provocation. Like when your parents give you a curfew and your older sibling doesn’t get one, and you feel the Grand Inequity of it like a boulder in your heart– which, along with your cystic acne and the bitch at lunch who makes fun of your clothes and your choir director who gave you a shitty part in Guys And Dolls, acts as solid confirmation that the world is like, SO UNFAIR.

The entire world.

I remember as a kid feeling so distraught whenever I didn’t feel fairly treated. Adult Me can imagine Baby Me writhing around my crib at night thinking “Why am I behind bars here? I haven’t committed any crimes. I’m three months old!”

And as an adult, I can get propulsively furious at pretty much anything. At my fitness tracker for telling me I didn’t hit my goals for the day. At the lap desk I bought from Amazon that fell apart after a week. At my “Stand Up!” iPhone app for telling me to stand up. Never mind that I set my own fitness goals, bought myself the cheapest desk, and programmed the app to ding every hour.

I get angry about real things too, like social injustice and the environment and endemic misogyny and my own privilege. Especially that last one. I’ll get angry at getting angry. “The hell are you whining about, you dumb baby? Go on, pretend you aren’t lucky to have a crib with bars and a house with a roof and sprouted grain muffins when you’re hungry.”

That’s productive.

Obviously the world is not a “fair” place. But not because I have to take medication without food. It’s because of human greed / people with enlarged amygdalae controlling shit / the way we inherit abuse / normative economics / systemic racism / Choose Your Own Grand Inequity.

And it’s easy to get pissed at the carpet for tripping you. It’s harder to fix the carpet so no one else will trip. For me, the dilemma is this: I whiplash endlessly between “fuck you, carpet” and “fuck me, I tried to fix the carpet but people are still tripping.”

Maybe the carpet isn’t fixable?

Maybe that’s not a reason to stop trying?

Maybe righteous anger is a pre-disposition that is not always circumstantial?

Or… maybe if I dragged every pocket of rage out of my body and set them all on fire at once, women would stop getting assaulted?

In that case…

What if I have an infinite number of pockets?

(I guess we’ll find out… heh.)

No more doling.

Hi. Hi again.

So this is aaaalllll an experiment, right? Which means I’m still learning shit.

Like today! Here are two things I just learned:

1) People don’t like email excerpts.

2) People like their stories intact.

So. If you were waiting for the next and final installments of that smoking story, I posted them all at once. Just click that link and scroll down to where you left off.

And if you get these via email, I’m gonna start sending entire posts instead of just excerpts. You don’t have to click anywhere. No more of me doling out the goods. You get ’em all! The posts will be longer, some of them, but there will be fewer. One a week. Maybe less.

‘Cause like, I’m not trying to “drive traffic” to my website or whatever. I don’t need “hits.” This isn’t a marketing tool. I broke up my stories as way to post consistently without getting overwhelmed, but the larger experiment of this website is for me to try to stay sane and writing regularly while I don’t have a job.

I’m paused, as they say. This is a caesura.

I’ve never really had a pause before. When I’m on hiatus for TV I’m generally trying to catch up on theatre stuff.  But no matter how well I appear to be balancing everything, I write many more TV scripts than plays. Which wouldn’t be a problem if I’d figured out how to do it without destroying myself.

I don’t know if it ever comes across on the screen, but I give a lot to my TV scripts. More than I’ve ever been asked to give. More than I keep for myself.  I give as much as I’ve ever given to my playwriting. And it isn’t healthy for me. Not from a psychological standpoint.  Not for the amount of TV scripts I need to crank out.  Not if I wanna keep my actual feet on the actual earth.

‘Cause like, there have been times I’d turn in a first draft after pulling an all-nighter, and when the other writers told me it was good I’d burst into sobs.  Like a big goddamn baby. In front of my boss, the PA, everyone.

This was recent, friends. Like not even a year ago. On a show I’d been on for SIX SEASONS.

I know it’s exhaustion and anxiety and hormones and low blood sugar and extreme neurosis and whatever… which also is bad for my health and scares my family…  and on more than one occasion my kid has woken up at 5am, seen the light on in the living room, marched over to the couch where I write, and demanded I close my computer and go to bed.

But also, I put so much of myself into a script that when my colleagues tell me it’s good, they’re validating a fuck-ton more than just my writing.

You see how that can be problematic.

I suppose at its most injurious, the act of giving that much to something that isn’t (and never will be) mine is a form of self-annihilation. I recognize the feeling. I have it often. Of wanting to pack up parts of my psyche into little parcels and mail them off into the world one by one until there’s nothing left of me. I feel a haunting peacefulness at the thought of being emptied like that.  I no longer have to judge my good impulses from my bad ones, or the helpful thoughts from the damaging. All of it is for other people to sort through now, all wrapped in smooth butcher paper and tied with jute twine ’cause I’m a crafty bitch.

Though the scariest thing for me, kinda, is the fact that I feel most connected to my writing when I am least connected to my body. Like I’ll start working at say 7pm, and the next time I look at the clock it’s 6am, and my low back is on fire and I’m shaking from hunger and my jaw hurts from clenching my teeth. But somewhere in that pocket of time, if I’m lucky, I’ve grasped at a kind of vibrating vulnerability and truthfulness that begins to sound like the moan of humanity… like, the thing that hums beneath it all… 

But I can’t always hear it. And I don’t know how to listen for it in a “normal” way. Which blows.

So while this isn’t an actual honest-to-gosh writing break because here I am writing to you, it’s an experiment to see if I am capable of…

Routine?

Grounding?

Writing-while-normal?

Self-preservation? (Yikes.)

All of the above?

(Sure.)

Ok then. Wish me luck.