A piece of a wasted hour

October with Wei
Virginia is perfect this time of year. (A vineyard nearby.)

“Still, a great deal of light falls on everything.” — Vincent van Gogh, in a letter

Annals of Everyday Sexism, No. 1,204

I told him some about my new job and what I would be doing and how I was so excited about it, about the work itself and about all of the new challenges and opportunities it would bring.

“It sounds like Guion and I would be better at that job than you would be,” he said as soon as I finished.

I blinked. “No,” I said. “I don’t think so.”


“Yes,” I said, and then with uncharacteristic firmness, “I am going to be great at this job.” My blood was feeling hot in my face.

He furrowed his brows, implying he didn’t believe me. But for once, I had a retort ready.

“Just because I’m not constantly talking about myself and how great I am all the time doesn’t mean I don’t have any skills,” I said, turning away.

“Oh, you’re adorable,” he said, in the purest of patronizing tones. And all this despite the fact that he is several years younger than me.

(You are not surprised when it happens, this kind of thing, because it has been happening all your life, but you are now almost 30 and ready to say something about it when it does. To name a thing, to call it what it is, to not hedge anymore.)

That said, I just finished the first week at my new job, and I am feeling all of the good feels: happy, grateful, fortunate, enlightened, challenged, hopeful, thrilled, capable, eager.

“Why are we reading, if not in hope of beauty laid bare, life heightened, and its deepest mystery probed?” — Annie Dillard

I just finished The Abundance, which I thought was a new collection of Annie Dillard essays because I didn’t read the subtitle carefully. It isn’t; it’s almost entirely old stuff, repackaged. But her old stuff is still beautiful and challenging and mind-expanding, and I was happy to re-read it. If I ever were to aspire to nonfiction in this way, Dillard is all that I could ever hope to be. Her boundless curiosity, her lyricism, her patience, her directness. It will always be difficult to convince me than any other American essayist can surpass her.

Up next on the reading docket: A big haul from the library book sale (somewhat thick, heady European novels that have been on my list for a long time + James Baldwin + John McPhee + Simone de Beauvoir’s short stories) and the Complete Stories of Clarice Lispector (I’m scared).

6 thoughts on “A piece of a wasted hour

  1. Upon seeing the orange haired candidate once again, I simply said, “He makes me want to vomit.” My mother-in-law, a very, very, very conservative almost 90 year old, said, “Well, Hilary makes me want to vomit. She’s a bad woman. There’s nothing worse than a bad woman.” this sexism comes from those older and those younger, male and female. Thanks for calling it what it is, Abby. I’m so very tired of this belittling of abilities and demonizing those who rise.

    A bit of Annie Dillard is probably just what I need …

  2. What the hell is wrong with that person? Is there no still, small voice in his head that remarks, “I am being a pretentious, condescending prick so lacking in basic human courtesy and respect that absolutely no one cares to speak to me.”?

  3. Oh these confused and rude white men (I’m making the assumption this was white man behavior). It is everywhere. I was at a dinner partly last night, all absolute HRC supporters, but even so, the poor men are so ambivalent. They made it clear they will vote for her but then hedged, seemed backed into a corner, and made themselves seem noble for voting for a woman they see as so flawed. Their wives are ardent HRC supporters, but the men—so reluctant, so afraid of competent women, so uncomfortably certain that a man could surely do it better—or a different woman who is not so powerful and certain.

    I bet you will be fabulous in your new job, will edit circles around the others, and I’m glad you found the quick thinking to stand up for yourself to this little bully—who is probably a friend and hasn’t given his patronizing and hurtful comments another thought. Stay strong and carry on!

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