Monday, March 29, 2010




: of, relating to, or characteristic of a wife

when i was 26 i had an internship with the Portland Art Museum working as a curatorial assistant on the Contemporary Northwest Art Awards. i'm not really sure about my objective for this internship. i think i accepted it because i could, and ended up learning how much i did not want to work in an art museum.

i worked under jennifer, the CNAA curator. jennifer was on all the time. self-motivated, fast-paced, organized, graceful, and the best poker face i have seen yet (can you say, "i'm right on top of that rose"). jennifer really wanted to get me a job at the museum. i was on the fence about this. my job at the bakery paid well (still does) and i had grad school on the agenda, but i thought it might be interesting, depending on the job. and i still had a shred of desire to have a "real" job—whatever that means—a shred that has long since faded.

a position opened up on the third floor for an assistant to someone named doug, the events coordinator. i had met doug, he was a nice guy, and new his assistant had quit unexpectedly. jennifer got me an interview. you can totally have this job if you want it, she said.

on the day of the interview, doug was running late. i waited in the office i would be sharing with the assistant to another important guy. the other assistant (whose name i cannot recall) was probably in her early thirties, dressed a little funky for the museum, had artsy earrings and spiked hair that was as close to an artificial color that the museum would accept. she tried to make small talk with me while we waited. she told me that she and i would be sharing an office. that'll be your desk, she said, pointing to one that was pushed up next to hers. she asked what i went to school for.

film studies and art history, i said.

oh. i went to school for sculpture. i got this job right out of college thinking i would only do it for a few years to pay my loans, but ten years later, i'm still here! so it can't be that bad, right? she laughed. her phone rang and she answered it. it was clear by the conversation that it was a significant other of sorts. there were a lot of "mmhmm"s and "yes, honey"s and "i know, honey"s. she rolled her eyes in my direction while she listened half-heartedly on the phone.

after she hung up, she sighed and shook her head. husbands! she said.

i immediately felt the urge to run.

doug came through the door, apologized for his tardiness and invited me into his office, in which i purposefully gave the worst interview ever. there was no way i could work in that office with that woman; i feared her fate was contagious. being trapped in there 40 hours a week with her would surely turn me into that. despite my horrible interview, doug called my extension later that week and offered me the job. i told him it didn't pay enough. this was partially true. it only payed fifty cents more than the bakery, and that was not worth the risk of turning into that monster.

what scared me most was not that she had lost her desire to be an artist, putting her sculpture on hold for her menial job as someone's assistant, but that she had that sad, pathetic relationship with her husband.

husbands! she said.

as a woman, i think i was supposed to share in this generalization. can't live with 'em, can't live without 'em, right? i mean, it's totally acceptable to be irritated with your significant other, this happens all the time. but she wanted me to share in a generalization that lumped all married men into one big pile of crap.


this is also the same type of woman who, had she been in the presence of a man who hung up the phone and said, wives! would probably have gotten angry at the generalization about women.

despite how biologically and psychologically similar i find men to be among each other, i am still more than hesitant to generalize about them as a group. mostly because i think this is not fair. i loathe the instances in which men have tried to pigeonhole me into their idea of what a woman is, so why should i do that to a man? i suppose the assistant's proclamation would be considered a rather UXORIAL act on her part—the wife that is annoyed at her husband.


in that moment she marginalized both him and herself.

i'm kind of annoyed the word UXORIAL even exists. it's a useless concept just begging to be fulfilled.

please, do us all a favor and don't fulfill it.

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