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September 20, 2011

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Kristen

I'm thinking about this question. In the beginning, when I was young and first married, I stuffed a lot. Especially with his family - his parents - and also with him. And with new friends in this neighborhood we've been living in now for thirty three years. In the beginning, I thought everybody knew better than I did. That everybody else was a grown-up. but I was a screw-up.

It took a long time for me to realize that not only am I competent - I'm fierce. I laugh after reading your first paragraph; I can remember lying in my top bunk when I was about ten or so in LA, bemoaning the fact that I could never come up with a snappy comeback. I guess I'd watched enough TV by then to have learned to value such a thing (thank you script writers, who have all the time in the world to come up with the perfect words).

And there have been people in my life who simply inspired me to pithy, stinging greatness - when the fit comes on me, I can be - ummm - I guess, mean. I'll go with that word. And in those special cases, I will not deny I love the power that verbal acuity (supported by the New York accent I learned in my middle child years in Hartsdale) can give me.

But the truth is, I don't wanna be mean. Clever, yes. Firm, yes. Able to draw lines in the sand, yes. Able to send back product that was not as promised - you bet your booties. Somewhere along the line, I simply stopped being passive. I didn't do this by being mean, but by being frank. When my mother-in-law crossed the line, I didn't fling words like knives - I simply refused to be cowed, manipulated or forced to act in a way I did not want to act. It wasn't passive resistance. It was open. But simply calmly frank. ("Actually, I"m not going to go there.")

I actually learned how to do this at TGIF in LA once. It's a very long story, overmuch for a comment. Maybe some day I'll write it out. If I can catch up with my lovely creative cuteness. But I learned this: you don't have to wind up to anger to take a stand. You simply have to take the stand. People don't, generally, want confrontation, so when you calmly say "THis is not reasonable," they will often back right down.

The meaness is a tool of a person who does not believe in herself.

A person who knows darn well she has worth in the world, and that nobody but the IRS and the highway patrol can make her do anything she doesn't want to do - that woman just has to shrug and grin. "Bring it on. I'm not buying it."

I demand value for my money. I don't accept less. But wherever I can, I also exercise another profound power: mercy. I can have mercy on idiots. I can be merciful, and still not be taken advantage of. If they think they've won when they walk away - that's their problem. And another sad grin for me. I know how powerful I am - most of the time. Not always. But enough.

I think you have a great deal of power. What little I have read of you so far - and that address you did, the video on Two Kitties that I watched - you are a smart woman. You have a sweet and insightful sense of the absurd. You're verbal. I think you have great strength. The trick is believing that you do - I say "you," but I mean all of us. Me. I just have to believe in it - calmly, kindly, firmly.

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