Tuesday, September 13, 2011 • 9:02 AM Comments (3)

A Couple of Equations

posted by Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser

Yet another degrading to women shirt has appeared on the market.

This one is about how girls can’t do math.

I struggled with math my entire schooling life. In fact, the recurring dream I had before finishing my B.A. and my MFA was that I had to return to my high school for trigonometry. In the dream, I could smell the school’s chalky, musty front hall scent and hear Mr. Wilson’s nasal voice as I insisted I had already graduated.

In the wake of 9/11 plus ten, though, I can tell you this is for certain: the fact this country has paid for two wars on one side of the equation and that there are no jobs here or economic growth on the other side are not coincidental (and not President Obama’s “fault,” either).

Over the weekend, I also thought a lot about how much anxiety the tragedy of that day exposed and how wars fueled more anxiety—from the economic freefall to the combating-the-enemy mentality saturating the media to all the suffering that’s occurred here and in the Middle East as a direct result. Matt Mitchell’s ambitious portrait project showing 100 faces of war is just one trying to remind us all that the human costs are incalculable. My friend Amy’s piece about struggling through a long period of unemployment as a very well educated woman is another reminder of how much anxiety this shaky economy creates. There’s that parenting equation about how sleep begets sleep. Here’s another: anxiety begets anxiety.

**

In our house, sleep in the form of in-school naps, is not begetting sleep in the form of going-to-sleep at night for the preschooler. This pales beside big-ticket anxieties, absolutely. On the night-to-night level, it’s kicking our bum-bum-bu-bums, though.

We’ve lost more sleep over starting-the-school year anxieties and a little more (along with some angst in the big brother helping too much variety) over baking pies for the pie contest. I’m hoping that the afternoon’s pie mania allows me to forget my anxieties over everyone in the household’s bumpy moments and all of my deadlines. I’m pretty sure it’ll be a frenetic, sticky, sweet reprieve to the soundtrack of my pals’ the Nields lovely music.

Comments (3)
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thanks for the shout out, sarah--love the essay. and the pic!!!

Posted by Amy Gutman on 9.13.11 at 9:35

Wishing you more sleep and less math anxiety! That's a lot to bear, both short term and long term.

Posted by Hannia on 9.13.11 at 9:42

Amen, Sarah! Here's to you, and to all the women who declined to bury their heads in the sandbox once they became parents—as tempting as that may be.

A math and a biology lesson: the lack of childcare is connected to the war budget is connected to the longest sustained economic recession.

Posted by Lisa Duggan on 9.13.11 at 13:10
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