Tuesday, March 22, 2005

April Manners (Sneak Preview)

Dear Meg,

Lately I've been slammed with a bunch of solicitations for internet dating sites through my email server. One of my friends thinks this is a tool that is "leveling the playing field" between women and men in finding a good companion. I've never been especially lucky in my romantic relationships and am rather cautious. What would you advise about this or the possibility of placing a personal ad in a local paper?


My Dear Samantha,

Whew. I wonder if you need to check the spam filter on your email. Actually, I think I may need to check mine because I've been receiving the same barrage of advertisements. I've heard of a few cases where people have met one another and happily mated over the internet or through classified ads but these cases tend to be the exception rather than the rule. Have you checked back with your friend and asked how he or she fared?

Twenty years ago I answered a personal ad in the City Paper when I was living in Baltimore. I was lonely and clinging to the belief that a man would be a quick fix to the myriad of problems I was facing at the time. Anyway, this guy sounded wonderful on paper and was very charming on the phone. We made a date to meet at one of my favorite East Indian restaurants in Federal Hill. The poor dear told me he looked just like William Hurt, bless his heart, which was hardly the case. That didn't bother me so much because I'm generally attracted more to who someone is on the inside. What I did find completely unacceptable was the fact that when his food arrived, he gathered up every dish on his plate and mashed them all together into a big pile of googoo. Do you remember the Seinfeld episode on gay issues where the cast were all saying "not that there's anything wrong with that!" about their queer friends? Well, it's sort of the same thing here. This man's table manners might have been a-okay to another woman, they just were unacceptable to me.

You stated in your question that you are cautious. That's a good instinct to listen to as long as you don't let your fears overwhelm you or prevent you from taking a risk every once and awhile. If you chose to go this route, meet any dates in a public place and take your own car or money for a cab. Ask yourself what your expectations are. Given the fact that you are admittedly cautious and have not been particularly "lucky" in romantic endeavours, you might consider the concept of looking for friendship first. It's a tired old tale but remember the tortoise and the hare? The tortoise was no doubt the long shot but the slow, lumbering 'ol guy with the short little legs did win that race. Have fun whatever you decide to do.



Dear Meg,

I'm having a problem a work. My boss is 83 and says things to me that are just wrong. They're pretty offensive to tell you the truth. Yesterday she told me if I dressed better I would be married by now. I'm 32 years old and if I wanted to be married, I'd be married. All I do for her is run errands and keep her house in order. How can I kindly suggest that she keep these opinions to herself?


My Dear Charlie,

I'm guessing the two of you never agreed on a dress code? I know it's hard to tolerate the values, social norms and expectations of people who grew up in a diiferent time and culture. The comments of your employer are probably only meant to be helpful but nonetheless they are inappropriate. She is delivering these zingers with no prompting from you and this is outside the parameters of your relationship.

You need to ask to meet with her at a specific time to discuss this problem. I suspect she values your work highly or she would not be concerned with your personal life in the least. Tell her how it makes you feel when she says these things and ask her if she might consider a little restraint of tongue in the future. Ask if your wardrobe has become a concern to her as it pertains to your work only.

You already know how to do this, Charlie. You answered your question in your question. Be kind. You employed the patience necessary by writing to me before flying off the handle. I have a good feeling about this. I think you and your boss are learning quite a bit from one another and it's going to turn out fine.



Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Delta Gets Smart & Coelacanth

I was just thinking this morning about a women's publishing collective I co-founded in Baltimore. We were literary guerilla warriors of sorts, plastering poetry and fiction all over town in the form of broadsheets. It was heartening how hungry the community seemed to be for the work we offered and how quickly what we doing caught on. In a few short months our little group was creating quite a buzz.

We decided to publish an anthology of the work we had published and hold a reading in a public art space next to the Charles movie theater, most notably famous due to it's connection with "I deal in irony like a drug" filmmaker John Waters and his longtime colleague Pat Moran the theater and performance space's co-owner.

Anyway we put out flyers for the reading with the requisite publicity shots (a very diverse group of girls goofing off w/ a statue of Edgar Allen Poe -- I had my hand on his thigh and my friend Dori was putting lipstick on old dude). We were very specific about the time, location, event, etc. The thing we understood very well about marketing is what Delta is now doing. At the bottom of our flyer we printed in very bold print two important words, which as a former professional organizer I constantly advise groups to do over and over again, the words -- FREE FOOD.

We set an attendance record that for the space that I believe was never met again. I wish I could remember the name of place. This was 1991 or 2 and sadly I've lost a few too many brain cells. The name of our collective was Coelacanth - a species of fish which had been rediscovered off the coast of Africa after it had long been thought to extinct for millions of years. That was our metaphor. Writing as a process of rediscovery.

Speaking of fish, my new betta, Gills, is doing very well. He is pretty feisty which I really like.

Delta to offer free snacks, end food sales
Wed Mar 9, 6:39 AM ET

Business - USATODAY.com
By Barbara De Lollis, USA TODAY
After nearly two years, Delta Air Lines (DAL) next month will stop selling food on its U.S. flights.

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Instead, the No. 3 carrier will hand out free munchies to coach passengers.
Now, Delta offers coach passengers on flights of more than four hours bagels, salads and sandwiches for $8 or less. Coach passengers on shorter flights receive a free snack.
Starting April 3, Delta will scrap its food sales and offer a free, expanded snack selection to coach passengers. As is the case now, coach passengers on Delta flights of less than 90 minutes will receive no food. The new policy applies to flights in the USA, Canada and to some Latin America and Caribbean destinations.
Also on deck: Following American (AMR), Delta will eliminate pillows from its cabins, and alcohol prices will go up a dollar to $5.
In making the food switch, Delta becomes the first big U.S. airline to back away from the trend toward onboard food sales.
Delta's Paul Matsen says the airline is changing because the food-sale program is difficult to manage, causes confusion and goes against Delta's push for simplification.
Most major airlines have eliminated coach meal service since Sept. 11, 2001, and started selling food on longer flights. American and Northwest both began selling snacks and food on flights since February. Discounters such as Southwest (LUV) have taught travelers to expect little more than a bag of pretzels or peanuts.
Delta coach passengers will get to choose from granola bars, multigrain chips, honey-roasted peanuts and animal crackers. On longer flights, they'll also get a snack box with crackers, cheese, raisins and Oreos.
Delta now sells food on about 15% of its U.S. flights. But Matsen says that only about 20% of passengers on those flights have been buying items.
"We've learned that customers greatly prefer to have a choice of free snacks on board," Matsen says.
The switch to more free snacks will be about a wash financially for Delta, which lost more than $5 billion last year. The airline might see modest savings from handling prepackaged foods with a long shelf life.
Delta's Song flights will continue to sell food, because Song doesn't offer any free snacks, and flight durations tend to be long.
Snacks - free or otherwise - are becoming more common on airlines. This month, Northwest began rolling out a $3 snack box. United says that its $5 snack boxes are so popular on Ted flights that it's "seriously considering" selling them on United flights, spokeswoman Robin Urbanski says.
Continental (CAL), meanwhile, remains the only U.S. airline that still offers free meals to coach passengers on flights longer than two hours around meal times. On a lunchtime flight between Houston and New York, for instance, a customer might be given a packet of baby carrots, chips, deep-dish pizza or turkey sandwich and a piece of chocolate.

Friday, March 04, 2005

A Dream That Can Be Achieved

Yale University Increases Financial Aid
Thu Mar 3, 5:21 PM ET

U.S. National - AP
By MATT APUZZO, Associated Press Writer
NEW HAVEN, Conn. - Yale University increased its financial aid for lower-income families Thursday, the latest move by the Ivy League to attract students who had seen the schools as out of their price range.

Beginning next year, families making less than $45,000 will no longer have to pay tuition for their children, and those earning between $45,000 and $60,000 will see their required contributions drop an average of 50 percent, Yale said.
"The general message is that Ivy League schools are affordable," Yale President Richard Levin said. "This is a dream that can be achieved."
Levin said many qualified students don't bother applying to Yale because they figure their parents can't foot the tuition of about $41,000 a year, including room, board and other fees. But about 40 percent of undergraduates receive financial aid, with an average award this year of $22,000.
The average family earning less than $60,000 will save about $2,700 under the new plan, the university said. It estimated the changes will cost about $3 million, and will be paid for by using interest from the school's $12.7 billion endowment and with money saved on operating expenses.
Yale's announcement follows similar moves at other Ivy League schools, which have pushed in recent years not just to make tuition affordable to more students, but also to remake their images. Last year Harvard said families making less than $40,000 do not have to pay tuition.
"Top-flight schools are all looking at what kind of barriers there are to low-income students," said Robin Moscato, senior assistant admissions director at Princeton, which replaced student loans with grants and made other financial aid changes in recent years.
Levin said the college plans to promote its new financial aid plan at high schools around the country.
Last year more than 550 families of Yale students earned less than $60,000 a year, and more than 300 of those families earned less than $40,000, the university said. About 5,200 students were enrolled at Yale this fall.
Although Yale is freeing lower-income parents from paying their children's tuition, the university requires the students themselves to pay at least $4,200 a year. They can earn the money by working $10-an-hour campus jobs or by taking loans.
On Yale's campus, where some students staged a sit-in at the admissions office last week in a call for more financial aid, Thursday's announcement was well received.
"I think it's an issue that all students follow," said senior Chance Carlisle, vice president of the College Council. "No one likes the perception that because you go to an Ivy League institution, you have to be from a financially well-off family."

Tuesday, March 01, 2005


one other thing to bear in mind here is the old white hunter's adage -- the wounded animal is the most dangerous one in nature.

Over a year ago, I was re-introduced to the concept of the "spongemop" boyfriend or husband. I'm a woman so I'm writing this from my perspective. Spongemop girlfriends and wives no doubt exist but I feel no need to address that issue here. Anyway, many of these guys are alcoholics or drug addicts and whether or not they are still "active" is not necessarily a measure of how spongey a guy may or may not be. This is a hard realization for some women to come to.

So just what does a spongemop look like? How does he act? What are the signs? Tell me, Meg, please.......

1) He does not have a job and is not seriously looking for one.
2) He is constantly asking you for money and smoking your cigerettes.
3) On a first date he inquires about the financial worth of your family.
4) He wants to know if you own your home.
5) He eats more and more of your food.
6) He does not have a place of his own to live (this is a big one).
7) He asks you to pay for his car insurance, his artist studio or for a hair cut.
8) He often gets and then quits perfectly acceptable jobs.
9) He has no social security number or finger prints.
10) His friends don't trust him with their house keys.
11) He has children but does not pay child support.
12) He's always eyeballing other women or the next best opportunity.

and he freely admits that quit his last job because he just wanted to hang out more and play music or chase an employed woman off to Denver.

Disclaimer: I'm underemployed (slut journalist for money) and looking for work. I do have fingerprints, a social security number, my own place to live and some friends who trust me with their house keys.