I grew up in a Stop n Shop household. My family were upper middle class, both of my parents held advanced degrees, and our financial ups and downs were reflected in how many vacations we could take or how often we could eat at restaurants. Although my mom complained when her average weekly grocery bill went over $100 for our family of five, the price of groceries was never a significant worry for us.
Then I grew up, and experienced significant financial hardship for the first time in my life. Rents in Massachusetts are among the highest in the nation, and it’s not uncommon for people on the lower side of the income scale to spend more than 1/2 their income just to keep a roof over their heads. Getting to and from a near-minimum wage job, whether it’s accomplished by maintaining a car and keeping it gassed up or by taking public transportation, was another unavoidable expense, as were phone service and internet. And then there was my weekly or bi-weekly food budget. Continue reading “Why Customers Care About Market Basket”→
I’m a huge fan of girls who wear long hair and dresses. After all, I married one. But, the adamant declaration by certain feminine lesbians that I’ll hear sometimes, that they “LIKE GIRLS WHO LOOK LIKE GIRLS” carries with it quite a bit of baggage. It implicitly suggests that there is something wrong with girls looking like boys, and with the girls who like them that way.
In many cases, the girls who loudly say that they only like other girls who look like girls are young. They’re newly out, and they’re scared of the stigma that comes with being a lesbian. They may wish fervently that all the dykes who look like dykes would just blend in a little, and stop causing negative stereotypes of mannish lesbians out in the straight community. I know that’s how I felt, when I was newly coming to terms with my lesbian sexuality. “I like girls who look like girls,” I’d say, defending myself to the wider world by reassuring them that I was not one of those lesbians. It was only later that I began to understand that the problem lies with a society that puts such a premium on enforcing gender norms that merely being lesbian or gay is nothing compared to the sin of looking a little mannish. (And later still when I allowed myself the freedom to try on a butch presentation, and to like myself the way I was instead of the way I thought I was supposed to be).
So, here’s to girls who look like girls, and boys who look like girls, and girls who look like boys, and everyone who likes the way they look, and everyone who’d never make them change it.
Imagine a small city. Now imagine a smaller one. Okay, now imagine a vaguely urban bit in a town you wouldn’t even consider a city. Knoxville’s downtown is even smaller than that. It encompasses about four city blocks. Seriously. I wish I was kidding.
People from Knoxville do not seem to know how small their city is, so the polite Bostonian visitor should take care not to mention it. When C and I were looking for a place to live, a rental agent proudly told us that Downtown Knoxville was “just like New York City!” Except insofar as NYC and Knoxville both contain more than one building that is higher than 10 stories, this description turned out to be entirely inaccurate.
That’s not to say that downtown Knoxville is without its charms. Primary among these is that it’s far better to go there than visit the endless strip malls that cover all the rest of Knoxville.
This is the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. People in Knoxville refer to the university as UT. I call it UTK because, as a worldly Bostonian, I’ve heard of the state of Texas.
At first, UTK might seem forbidding and oppressive, at once dominating and sucking the life force out of the local area. However, the Bostonian visitor should feel quite comfortable, one she recognizes that UTK’s place in Knoxville is a lot like Harvard University’s place in her own city.
Like Harvard, UTK owns almost everything around it and exerts an undue influence over the local community. The difference, as far as I can tell, is that Harvard’s goal as an institution is to mold successive generations of world leaders. UTK’s goal, on the other hand, is to support successive generations of its reasonably decent, but not spectacular, college football team.
Depending on your opinions on the quality of world leadership in the 21st century, this means that UTK is either slightly or substantially less evil than Harvard.