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I know how to…respond to the New York Times

August 1, 2012

I know how to become angry when the New York Times once again overlooks a world full of women and what we know how to do, even while I’m stunned with jet lag after spending twenty hours traveling home from Berlin, where I knew how to listen and speak in two of my five languages and take photos of cool street art (many of them images of women and learned how to even post a few on Facebook) and think about how Berlin feels like the center of Europe and so being there made me think of history, and war, in a way that we (Americans–one of my identities) might know how to do but aren’t made to, aren’t encouraged to, aren’t even reminded to, and I know how, while taking a taxi to the airport, to ask the young man who was driving whether he thought of himself as only Turkish or Turkish-German, and show that, even though I needed to check into my flight I wanted to hear his answer, that he was Turkish, only, even though he was born and did all his schooling in Germany because Germans reminded him almost every day that he was an Auslander, a foreigner, so I waited at the curb with my suitcase so he could finish even though I had to rush with all my bags, which I also know how to do, travel alone (and move seats when a family wanted to sit together even if it put me in the middle of a row, and not go off on the woman who dropped one of my bags out of the overhead with the plates I’d been carrying since Poland and three of them break) and I know how to appreciate that it’s gotten easier, plates breaking, and the travel, being now, of a certain age and not constantly harassed and sometimes threatened, by men in part because I was alone, though I was able and lucky enough, to stay safe, or within a relative area of safety maybe not because I knew how but because I just did, and I know, now, how important it is that we women put ourselves out there about what we know how to do, especially, maybe, those of us who are of a certain age, that we’ve got to keep talking to each other honestly about the hard stuff like living in war-torn history and the reality of raising kids and how there are some things that have hurt us that we aren’t ever going to get over and how we feel when our friends have breast cancer and our daughter’s friends have anorexia and I know, too, how to write sentences like this one, sentences that seem as if they’re never going to end (because I know how to use coordinating and subordinating conjunctions) and I know I’ve got to do it right away before the moment of inspiration slips out of my fingers even if it isn’t perfect because I’m doing all the other things I know how to do, like get my kids out of bed, drive to work, buy the groceries, like breathe, and breathe again, and do something, say something, even when it’s just this small, long sentence about some of the things I know how to do.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Pamela Cooper permalink
    August 1, 2012 1:03 pm

    Karen, I love this!

  2. August 1, 2012 4:51 pm


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