Category Archives: Women and midlife

Mark Zuckerberg Wants to Fix Me

Mark Zuckerberg Wants to Fix Me

Artificial intelligence is a thing. I don’t understand it, and I’m not really interested in understanding it, but I’m told that Instagram scans my posts and the posts of my friends, multiplies them by the square root of something and then decides what ads to show me.  In fact, the advertisements on my Instagram feed feel so oddly personal and insistent that I imagine Mark Zuckerberg himself scrolling through my online identity to get a feel for exactly what I need.

Some days I feel like he’s speaking directly to me. He sends me highly targeted and often appropriate ads with relentless repetition. The day I got a dog, I started seeing advertisements for dog things – bowls, collars, leashes. Weeks later, the day I fell in love with my dog, I started seeing advertisements for things crazy dog people might buy. How did he know? Yes, I want socks with my dog’s face on them. And multiple sequined pillows with photos of my dog. I bought one for every room in my house. Somehow Mark knows where I went to college and tempted me with a dog hoodie with my alma mater’s logo.  I bought it immediately.

There are other frequent ads that make me a little paranoid. It’s pretty clear that Mark Zuckerberg thinks my thighs could use some work. I know this because he shows me ads for the Peloton bike multiple times a day – a woman my age riding one of those things in her living room with a sheen of sweat and a satisfied smile on her face. He tantalizes me with the cute instructor, the convenience, and the potential for me to parent while working out. (He’s got me all wrong here, I have plenty of more comfortable places to sit in my living room.) But why is he so sure I don’t have one of those things already? I scroll through my photos to find out.

To make matters worse, he knows I can’t do a headstand. For two weeks now, he’s been trying to get me to buy this contraption that protects your head and neck so it’s easier to do a headstand. Have there been murmurs around Mark’s office about my center of gravity? There’s no way that woman can do a headstand, they say. Get her one of these. Again, he’s got me all wrong. I have no interest in being upside down, no matter how easy you make it. In fact, the headstand moment in a yoga class is my favorite part, my chance to sit and marvel at the poor judgment of everyone around me.

He thinks I need jewelry that says inspirational things. What he doesn’t know is that none of my friends can see well enough to know that my pendant is engraved with a catchy phrase. At some point he got it in his head that I have a self-esteem problem, as he’s bombarding me with necklaces, bracelets and rings that all say “You are enough.” There’s something about that phrase that looks like a typo to me, like there’s a word missing. You are good enough? Tall enough? Tired enough? Mark, if you’re trying to get into my psyche, you’re going to have to be a little more specific.

Over the past few days it’s become clear that Mark Zuckerberg thinks my undergarments aren’t enough. I’m being bombarded by a constant stream of ads for bras and underwear designed my NASA. He shows me women in all states of discombobulating distress, then I swipe to see them miraculously pulled in, pushed up and put together. Is it my age, I wonder? There’s no way my niece is seeing these ads. I scroll through my photos to see what he’s seen, the image that’s given him cause for concern. Ah, there it is.

New Years Day Has Been Moved

It’s been three weeks since I flubbed my New Year’s resolution. I’m not proud of this fact, but here we are. Just like last year. I think the main problem with New Years resolutions is that they happen on January 1. There is no worse day in the year to try to turn things around.… Continue Reading

I’m Turning Into My Grandmothers

I love those Progressive Auto Insurance commercials where they joke about how we’re all going to turn into our parents. Precocious as I am, I’m starting to think I’ve skipped a generation. I’m turning into my grandmothers. I had two grandmothers who were totally different from each other. Dora, my maternal grandmother, was a bit… Continue Reading

The Upside of Scarcity

Many years ago, my son received a Thomas the Tank Engine train and a circle of tracks as a gift. He was two years old and could zoom Thomas around that track for hours, frontwards, backwards, crashing into imaginary obstacles. He loved it so much that I bought Thomas a buddy, his faithful passenger coach… Continue Reading

How I Became A British Aristocrat

I was laid up for the month of December. I was recovering from surgery, and I’d gladly tell you all about it but after watching a solid month of Downton Abbey, I’m starting to think maybe I shouldn’t talk about such things in mixed company. I mean Lady Mary had some kind of women’s surgery… Continue Reading

The Ins and Outs of the Thank You

One time someone did something really nice for me. I was full of gratitude so, naturally, I wanted to thank her. I could have immediately sent a text. I could have taken the extra 10 seconds and sent an email. I could have opened a drawer, pulled out a piece of stationary and written a… Continue Reading

My Dishwasher and Me

Sometimes the deepest friendships take a while to solidify. They don’t seem obvious at first. Maybe you have different interests, different backgrounds. Maybe one of you is a human being and the other is a dishwasher. Whatever the barriers are, they can often fall away once you spend a lot of time with someone. My… Continue Reading

Growing Up in a Marriage

When I was a newly engaged 25 year old registering for wedding gifts, I chose two sets of champagne glasses – fancy crystal ones and the cheaper, boxed ones for everyday. Yes, you read that right. In my mind, we’d definitely need everyday champagne glasses, like for Mondays. Marriage isn’t exactly what I thought it… Continue Reading

The Time Warp of Back to School Night

As publishished in The Week on October 21, 2015   The cool kids are hanging by the lockers, laughing and talking a little too loud. The nerds are in the classroom early, eager to shake hands with the teacher and nab the seats in the front row. The girls are put together in skinny jeans,… Continue Reading

Now Extinct: The Cringe-Worthy Prom Photo

As published in The Week on May 27, 2015 As I feverishly photographed my son and his friends before the prom, it occurred to me that something was not right. The boys looked as I expected in black tuxes and combed hair. But the girls were all wrong. Their dresses were simple and flattering. Their… Continue Reading

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