Monday, October 18, 2010


I have been paid for my writing.

Let that sentence resonate for a while.  Imagine a background of french horns and cymbals and a timpani (I knew a timpanist in Marin... it came to mind) with wallpaper of a grinning woman.  A hugely grinning almost breaking her face woman dancing around the library, hooting and hollering and making a general nuisance of herself except that there was no one around to complain.  By the same token, there was no one around with whom she could share the joy. 

Somehow, it didn't matter.  This was mine, all mine.  Someone with financial resources wanted to share her largesse with me, sitting alone at my keyboard, wondering what to write.  I'd dashed off a post I'd been considering but had not fully created and BlogHer chose that one, written straight from my heart onto the screen, that one earned money.  Cold hard cash for my own inner thoughts.  The things I wonder about, the issues that wend their ways inside my twisted little brain, the unmediated and unfiltered and unrevised ramblings of an over-educated, over-thinking adult -- these were rewarded. 

The notification email from BlogHer referenced empowerment - not only the empowerment of womens' voices, but financial empowerment as well.  Well, let me tell you, I feel quite powerful right now.  The money I'm to receive will buy 2 of us a lovely lunch (unless I put it to the purchase of an ergonomically correct chair) so it's really not that this will change my monetary life in any meaningful way.  Rather, it is something much more fundamental, something which speaks to how we have discerned value.  It was as true in the 17th century as it was in the 20th.  Thomas Hobbes's quote has been in use in my family for decades:
The "value" or "worth" of a man is, as of all other things, his price; that is to say, so much as would be given for the use of his power.
Gender issues aside, I believe that it was true then and it is true now, no matter what my bleeding-liberal-heart might wish were true as we evolve as a species.  Daddooooo used to admonish us to "Stop Measuring" while wondering "Who's counting?" which would make for a nice story except for the fact that he was the one who did more measuring and counting than anyone else.  Humans can count.  Therefore we can measure ourselves against one another. And money is a handy dandy tool with which to do so.

I've always known in my heart of hearts that the volunteer work I've done has been amply repaid by the consequences of my involvement.  I've received thank you notes and shy smiles of appreciation and I've been asked for a copy of a graduation speech I gave in 1999 and those were rewards enough.  I was lucky enough to have a partner with a high paying job; I could afford to give away my talents. 
It was the right thing to do and I did it.

I always knew, though, that I'd have done it for cash, too.  It's just that no one ever offered to pay me for doing what I loved, when I loved doing it, on my own terms and for my own ends.  Did I run the major fundraiser and chair the book fair so that my name would be known when I ran for the school board?  Absolutely.  I did all those things on my own schedule, for the most part, but they involved scores of other participants.  I was never totally in control of my own destiny, and it rankled.

I was a supervisor for most of my working life, and as such I was a fairly independent operator.  Still, I had a Department Head and an 8 hour day requirement and there were reports and meetings and expectations that existed in exchange for a check. I received many nice words at my annual reviews, but rarely more than a 3% raise.  TBG, working in the financial services sector where salaries were triple mine at the beginning of a career, rarely heard a word of praise.  Yet year after year, annual review after annual review, I heard how wonderful I was and he received 40% pay hikes.  It got tiresome after a while, I can assure you.

So, when I read the email telling me that, on my own terms,doing what I wanted to do, pleasing no one but myself and those who self-select to be my readers, asking nothing of anyone except the software to create my essays, when I'd finally become Jo March instead of just wishing I could be more than her friend, well, denizens, there was one happy gray-haired lady jumping around the desert Southwest. 

I am valued.

It feels great!
Go to and click the Love and Sex tab.  The post was on the front page starting Oct. 12th.

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