Or how I came to fall in love with my husband and start our family on solid ground

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On our wedding day on the San Francisco Bay which was actually 37 years ago, but who’s counting?! :p

I had hoped, when I married Larry 20 years ago, that one of our children would inherit his magnificent hair, so voluptuous and appealing that just putting your fingers in it communicated a sense of abundance, of largesse. But none did. Rose has medium-thick hair to which she periodically applies a henna paste to in order to color it red. It isn’t curly, but when she came home after a year at UC Berkeley last summer, it had metamorphosed into chin-length dreadlocks that emanated off of her head like a white girl’s afro. In one or two places, she had fastened a shell. Eddy’s hair is dusty brown and lank. Michael is a blonde Arab. …

How old footage of my family helped me see my mother through a new lens

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My family at Seabright Beach in Santa Cruz, California, in 1959. I’m on the far right. Photo courtesy of Patsy Fergusson

We’d had the big white box of old 8mm and Super 8mm family movies for 40 years, handing it off from sister to sister after Mom died of breast cancer in 1975, each one of us promising to digitize or otherwise take care of these precious family heirlooms. No one had.

Then one summer in Santa Cruz, at the little beach house Mom had bought with an unexpected windfall the year she died, we set up an old projector my husband had found on eBay, along with a portable screen. …

Thirsty Work — Chapter 1

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Photo by zero take on Unsplash

My sisters gave me Cathy at our mother’s funeral, handed her over like a blouse they were returning because the material was scratchy and the sleeves didn’t fit. Their suggestion that I take her out of Stockton, introduce her to the world, somehow soften her texture and lengthen her reach, was followed by the first moment in the day when I wasn’t tasting ashes and rust.

There was a good turnout for the funeral party. The house was filled with relatives, neighbors, close and distant friends. Women crowded the narrow aisleway in the kitchen, putting yellow and white casserole trays to heat in the oven. The dining room table was covered with dishes they had brought: a thin, golden tea cake glazed with slivered almonds; tamale pie with hamburger, canned corn and black olives; fat, gluey macaroni and cheese; thick slices of honeyed ham. People leaned over the food, spooned it onto mismatched plates, spilled out through the back door into the parched lawn, talking loudly. …

Has Jeff Bezos Decided to End World Hunger?

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When I’m looking for a little lift I can always count on my new favorite Twitter account: Has Jeff Bezos Decided to End World Hunger? which, by the way, is calling for a boycott of Amazon on Black Friday to #MakeAmazonPay.

Why should Amazon pay? Off the top of my head, I’m annoyed that they drove all the bookstores out of business, then all the retail shops out of business, creating a mono-culture in which Amazon seems like the only place to shop.

Plus if you have a problem like a package never arrives you can’t reach anyone in customer service or even indicate that on their robo-form. Plus, they created an environment wherein every business has to sell on Amazon and then they steal product ideas (!) and recreate them and sell them cheaper, quashing creativity and driving people out of business in what surely must be illegal, but if it isn’t it’s certainly cheating. …

Watching “Sunset Boulevard” in honor of Trump’s decline

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Photo from Mar-A-Lago’s website.

I just finished watching Sunset Boulevard, a great, old, black-and-white classic about a faded movie star holed up in her crumbling mansion dreaming about her glory days and planning a big comeback. “Don’t call it a comeback,” wild-eyed Norma Desmond admonishes her boy toy Joe Gillis. “I hate that word! Call it a…RETURN.”

Meanwhile DJT is planning to move to Mar-A-Lago after he leaves the White House in January, getting reconstruction done to expand the living quarters which is against the rules he agreed to follow when he renovated the property — but when has he ever bothered with rules?

The social club, which upped its membership fees from $100,000 to $200,000 when Trump became president, “is not supposed to serve as a full-time residence for anyone as part of an agreement with Palm Beach officials that had allowed it to become a club in the 1990s,” according to Maggie Haberman of the New York Times. …

Why doesn’t the U.S. talk about femicide?

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A mural of Army Specialist Vanessa Guillén being painted on 14th Street NW in Washington in July. AP Photo by Carolyn Kaster from story in Army Times.

I first heard the term “femicide” a year ago when Morgan Babbs submitted a story on marches against it in Mexico City to Fourth Wave. Distinct from homicide, it calls out when women are killed simply because they are women. “Wow,” I thought. “It must be hard to be a woman in Mexico!”

But that was naive.

Ten Million People Brutalized a Year

Just because the word “femicide” isn’t used much in the U.S. doesn’t mean it’s not happening here. Three women a day are murdered by their partners or ex-partners in the U.S., according to the Washington Post and FBI data.

“Young women and women of color — including transgender women — are disproportionately murdered,” writes Jess McHugh in the Post story. And ten million people suffer physical violence from an intimate partner every year. …

As the U.S. goes to hell in a handbasket

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Photo by Dan Meyers on Unsplash

The phrase “going to hell in a handbasket” came to mind after spending half an hour on Twitter. I looked it up and found there’s no tradition of the hell-bound traveling in handbaskets. The researcher thought it was just a variation of going to hell in a wheelbarrow, as is depicted in some old paintings and stained glass windows. The fact that a whole human being would not actually fit in a handbasket was apparently overlooked for the sake of alliteration, showing an esteem for poetry which feels vaguely uplifting despite the context.

What else can you do but try to find that sliver of hope? Gotta keep on keeping on. And that’s what we’ve been doing at Fourth Wave since the last newsletter. …

American voters misinterpret the term

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Photo by Duy Pham on Unsplash

I was struck by the words of a Trump voter being interviewed before the election. “If Biden wins, I’ll move out of the country,” she said. “I won’t live under socialism.”

When the interviewer (Jordan Klepper from The Daily Show) asked where she would go, she said Costa Rica. He pointed out that they have socialized medicine there.

Voters Don’t Know What “Socialism” Means

Here’s the thing: many voters are afraid of “socialism” without really knowing what it means. My guess is zero percent of U.S. voters want to shut down Social Security, for example, yet that is a socialist program.

The problem is that President Trump and the GOP have weaponized the word “socialism,” using it to evoke the images of poverty and breadlines that were a staple of every American Baby Boomer’s elementary school education and indoctrination against the former USSR. …

How to tell if your behavior is appropriate: a tool for men

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Photo from the Daily and Sunday Express

Ever wonder if you’re doing right by your date/wife/friend/co-worker? Confused by “PC Culture” that says you can’t compliment a woman on how she’s dressed? Afraid to take meetings with women because you might accidentally cross an invisible line of appropriate behavior?

Fear no more. Because now there’s a foolproof test you can apply to any situation to find out if you are behaving like a decent human being. Simply ask yourself, would I do this to Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson? If the answer is no, don’t do it to your date/wife/friend/co-worker either. …

As Fourth Wave writers look around, behind, and ahead

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Photo by Dave Hoefler on Unsplash

So much has happened since the last newsletter, including a U.S. election that riveted the nation and is still grabbing our attention as the current president refuses to concede. But for half of the country, anyway, there’s a welcome emotion underlying the anxiety: relief. We look forward to living under a president who behaves normally, with the dignity called for by the office, and who treats other people with consideration and respect.

Let the policy battles begin.

In the meantime, it’s delightful to feel our attention refocusing, and see newspapers without 10 Trump stories at the top of the page. That’s not to say we aren’t still thinking about him. But there’s a wee bit of room for other thoughts, too. …


Patsy Fergusson

Tree hugger. Tour guide. Top Writer. Feminist. Newly-baptized Bay swimmer. Editor of Fourth Wave. https://medium.com/fourth-wave

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