Slow-Cooked Sentences

Bad words and a butt-load of bitchiness over bringing home the bacon

Rachael Conlin Levy
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A fist of nerves in my neck is pounding my brain to bloody pulp because I’m polite. Too polite to tell someone to fuck off, that I don’t live for her or feminism or whatever caused her tactlessness during the following conversation:

So, Rachael, when are you going back to work?

I’m not planning to get a job, just increase the amount of writing I’ll be doing. 

Why don’t you write a blog.

I do.

I mean, why don’t you write a blog people will read?

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How does one respond to a question that has no polite answer?

One woman who started blogging about things like baby poop, depression, love and the laundry has made millions, while a million other writers blogging about the very same things have made zip. Where does value come from? Why is it elusive? And most importantly, why do I allow someone else to determine the value of what I do?

All women work, and all (minus the aforementioned lucky one) are underpaid for the work we do.

In The Netherlands, the salary gap between men and women is as deep and wide as the ache that’s cracked my head in two, yet that fissure isn’t fuel for gender wars, but something they desire. In a Slate article about the book “Dutch Women Don’t Get Depressed” by psychologist Ellen de Bruin, the Dutch woman’s happiness isn’t because her man comes bearing tulips while wearing wooden shoes, but because she has personal freedom and a good work-life balance, aka time and flexibility.

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“The problem for American women isn’t just the amount of time we spend working; it is the notion that we need to be perfect at everything we do,” according to the Slate article. “TV shows, advertisements, and articles from women’s magazines have formed this composite of a perfect woman who is successful at work, nurturing at home, always optimistic, and impeccably dressed. She dominates the boardroom and rushes in her pencil skirt to collect her well-groomed toddler. The ideal American woman doesn’t just putter around in the kitchen or dabble in knitting [insert: or write a teeny-tiny blog]. She opens a cake shop and knits scarves for fashion shows [insert: and writes a blog that supports her family].” 

I’ve got a friend who can’t find work despite squeezing and pushing and pounding and smashing herself to fit the job description. She doesn’t have a Dutch husband, but she’s got the financial flexibility to take this advice: Stop looking.

Create your job, instead. Determine what you love to do and then figure out a way to make money doing it. Turning passion into product is one of the accomplishments I admire most in my mom, who converted a love of education and the environment into a paycheck. And it’s how Heather Armstrong, dubbed queen of mommy bloggers by the New York Times, makes an estimated $30,000 to $50,000 a month off her site, Dooce.

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I’m rewinding that conversation I had and answering it this way:

So, Rachael, when are you going back to work?

I am working.

Oh, I thought you were staying home with your kids. What are you doing?

I write.

About what?

Fuck-heads like you.

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10 responses to “Bad words and a butt-load of bitchiness over bringing home the bacon”

  1. Andrea says:

    Wow, wow, wow. The jaw drops. The head spins. Words fail. Wow. And just when I'm recovering my spinning head from what your (friend? acquaintance? sister?) said, I read that someone makes $30-$50K a MONTH off blogging? It's spinning again and the jaw is on the floor. Take that more time for writing and run with it, as fast and as far as you can (I have one of those jobs that brings home the bacon–or at least the kale and the health insurance–and which crushes my soul on a regular basis…I dream of more writing time).

  2. Kyna says:

    Love that last line, Rach. Love it!

  3. Heather G says:

    I tried a new job last week. (I'm still transitioning from full-time mom, to part-time worker as well as full-time mom.) It was like speed dating. It was weird. It was a disaster. It was demoralizing. I felt like shit about myself – feeling like I've totally lost my edge – the one that used to bring home a very nice income before the kids were born. I also want to scream #$%&, !!@$*, &&$%&#&#!!! to the world. I'm having difficulty remembering that I am worthy in a work world now that I have spent 15 years raising my kids.

    Roar!

  4. I've often found difficulty in describing "what I do". People see the world in such different ways.

    I like your solution. You are working. You write. Enough said.

  5. Linda says:

    Oh, how I miss you and your face! Actions always speak louder than words. Keep writing Rachael…you do it so well.
    Ma

  6. Love your silly faces Rachael! I'm laughing and crying at the same time. I LOVE your writing. I love that you aren't afraid to be real. Now, you'll have to tell me who said all that to you!

  7. anno says:

    Wow. On the one hand, maybe she was just having a bad day. On the other, wow, what a spectacular deficit of diplomacy. Love your pictures! That would be my reaction, too.

    Being a long-time member of the local homeschooling community has meant that I've been insulated from attitudes like these. Suspect I'm in for more bracing exchanges in the near future … not sure whether I'll be as tactful as you.

  8. Rachael Levy says:

    Andrea, I love that a woman's pulling in $50K monthly for writing about baby shit, her dog, her broken washing machine. There's no more need to justify what I do, I can just quote that figure.

    Kyna, thank you.

    Heather, you're struggle helped fuel this post. Keep your chin up and your fists raised.

    Denise, amen to that.

    Ma, I miss you.

    Kyndale, I think I'm going to keep the identity a secret, but I'm glad you enjoyed the post and Max's pictures of me.

    Anno, I believe the comment was not intended to hurt (though it did). As I think it over maybe I'll come to appreciate the sharp barb for forcing me to define and value myself.

  9. Dawn P says:

    Really enjoyed your latest blog. Keep on writing! Looks like you have a budding photographer there. You made me laugh. Thanks, Dawn

  10. Revel in being you, girl.

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