Hitching a ride, trusting a partner, marrying the same person three times
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Gillian Kendall has been a barmaid, editorial assistant, English professor, tech writer, and parliamentary reporter. She’s called herself a feminist ever since she heard the term at Douglass College, the women’s branch of Rutgers University. The label has gotten her into a few arguments and once landed her a job at Mademoiselle. She lives in Holmes Beach, Florida.
If one in three women has had an abortion, you can’t really talk about it as some rare practice indulged in only by particularly evil women. . . . What do you do with that one-third of women? . . . Put them in prison?
Taking care of my aging parents is the right thing to do. I don’t regret the decision. But when I came here in 2010, I never imagined that I’d have to stay nearly five years. I’m afraid that, on my mother’s ninety-seventh birthday, I’ll be saying that I never imagined I’d have to stay seven years.
The Sun has always been bigger than me. Wiser than me. Steadier than me. One of the satisfactions of publishing it for all these years is that I’ve gotten to see what happens when like-minded people work together toward a common goal.
“I’ll be the one with the long white beard,” my old boyfriend tells me. His voice on the phone is low and hesitant, but he’s coming to pick me up right away. Thirty-five years ago he was my first lover, and I am coming back to visit him because I’m alone in England, where he lives, and so is he.
A few minutes later the harpoon flew over our bow and just missed our boat. It rammed into the back of one of the female whales in the pod in front of us. She screamed, and it sounded like a woman screaming. It was really quite shocking. Then she rolled over on her side in a fountain of blood, dying.
There are gradations of certainty about animal suffering. It’s very clear that chimps feel pain, and equally clear that plants don’t. We can say with reasonable confidence that all vertebrates suffer, because they respond to stimuli in the same way that humans do when we are in pain. With invertebrates, it’s harder to know, although certainly they can be intelligent. Octopuses, for example, have shown remarkable abilities to solve novel problems. So I assume they are conscious and therefore can suffer.
When I signed up for a “silent vipassanâ yoga and meditation retreat” at the Esalen Institute, I didn’t even know what the word vipassanâ meant, but I wasn’t worried about it. I planned to use the week as a personal sabbatical. I’d get up at sunrise and bathe in the hot tubs overlooking the Pacific, then drift into the morning sessions for a bit of yoga or meditation, and spend afternoons writing in the loft of the big blue art barn.
Getting back to the federal level: There is currently a suppression of politically unacceptable views on energy. For example, scientists who work on global warming are being told not to talk to the press. The Environmental Protection Agency issues an annual report on air pollutants and their impact. A few years ago, when the draft of the report included greenhouse gases — the kind that contribute to global warming — the information was pulled by the Bush administration.
In September 2002, I made the decision to move from California to Australia to live with my partner, and by December I was flying to Melbourne. In just two months, I packed up or got rid of all my material possessions.
I should have listened to my intuition about that job. When I got my PhD in 1995, I was one of only two people from my program who landed professional positions; the other woman was going to teach a heavy load at a state college. I had been offered an endowed chair at a prestigious Baptist college in Georgia.
I tend to be more passionate about the process of communication than about the outcome. I’m interested in people listening better and talking more and wanting to understand each other’s point of view. I try to eliminate the things that get in the way of that. And it’s a Sisyphean task, because industry people and activists aren’t really talking to each other; they’re doing theater with each other. Whichever side I am working for, I try to find a way for both sides to listen better.
Ten minutes into a recent flight from San Jose to St. Louis, I was reveling in a first-class upgrade and a new Margaret Atwood novel when I felt and heard a powerful thump. The aircraft, which had been gaining altitude, rocked vigorously.