Archive | Family RSS feed for this section

Infidelity and Me

7 Apr

This post is going to be ridiculously meta, because apparently that’s how the internet works now. So I’m going to be writing about someone’s input on someone’s opinion on someone else’s article, and how I relate to it all. META.

First up, this story got the wheels spinning in my head just because I recognized the situation from personal experience:

And then this blog post was published earlier this week, which called out an (admittedly boastful and bitchy) article about being The Other Woman:

The links to the links are all on Natalia’s blog, but if you don’t feel like diving too far into this clusterfuck, here’s a quick and dirty version: A woman named Lisa Taddeo wrote a fake-edgy, sophomoric, really mean-spirited article about what it’s like to be the woman that men cheat with, in which she blasted the wives of the men she screws and blames them for the actions of their cheating husbands. She does all this under the guise of laying bare “Why We Cheat,” when in reality, she just comes off like every stereotype of an ignorant, selfish homewrecker.

I thought I’d offer a little insight on what being The Other Woman is actually like.

Women are sort of conditioned to see other women as threats, competition, etc. As with society in general, the easiest way to absolve yourself of guilt when harming another person emotionally is to dehumanize them. We’ve succeed in making every aspect of human existence into a commodity – what we eat, who we fuck, what we listen to. There isn’t a single aspect of anyone’s so-called “identity” that isn’t constructed on some level by a capitalist system, one that idealizes the concept of ownership and makes us all into hyenas scrapping over pieces of meat. This is why you turn on Jerry Springer (or whatever trash the kids watch these days, Jersey Shore I guess) and hear women screaming at each other about “my man!”

You know, I can admit to really loathing women for a long time and completely being part of the problem. A Women’s Studies professor would definitely call me a “tool of the patriarchy” and in many senses, I was and still am. I saw women who lambasted men for nothing, for leaving their underwear on the floor, or for leaving the toilet seat up, and I would think, “What a stupid fucking thing to get worked up about. No wonder men whine about bitches.”

I’d like to think that I’m somehow above all of that crap, and that I avoided thinking “Oh, that bitch treats her husband like shit, so he’s justified in fucking me instead,” but I didn’t. I thought all of those things that Taddeo brags about in her piece. But they never really sat right with me, and there was always a nagging Pac-Man of guilt that chomped away from the very beginning. I wanted to believe that the wife of the man I was screwing somehow deserved what she got, that she brought it on herself by not being perfect for him the way I clearly was, etc. Man, did I want to believe that. I never could buy it, though, and the self-loathing started to aggregate.

And then…he did the same thing to me. Concocted a woe-is-me tale for yet another woman, only this time I was the bitch, the one who wasn’t good enough, the easily replaceable imported Chinese TV that you can just throw away when you decide to “upgrade” because this model has “better features” and “doesn’t require upkeep.” And I thought, shit, this is karma. This is what it’s like to be on the other side. And when that happened, I wanted to call the ex-wife of the man who had just made me into an “ex” and apologize to her. I very nearly did it, too. But I didn’t, because I didn’t want her to feel like she had to pity me. This is a story for another day, but – I loved her children. They were his children too, and I loved them. To this day, the thing that guts me the most is that I will never see those kids again.

And once, when that man’s ex-wife told me, “My kids are going to grow up without a father because of you,” I wanted to say, no, he’ll be their father, he’ll be there for them. I was wrong about that, but so was she – it’s not because of me that they may grow up without their dad.

You can go ahead and call me a whore, terrible human being, whatever. Get it all out. Any nasty name you can think of to call me, I guarantee you I called myself a long time ago. This self-hate train is long and it ran through my life for the entirety of my relationship. I never confronted the demons from making a choice to be complicit in the destruction of a family. I make a little bit of progress with this every day, but I may never truly forgive myself.

No one tells you this stuff when you become The Other Woman. It is not all fancy dresses and jewelry and secret bank accounts and road trips to the next town so no one sees you together. There is no “Mistress Handbook” that they give out down at Homewrecking Whore Junction.

I have myself convinced that I will never comply with a cheater’s insecurities again, but to be honest, I really don’t know. All I can do is keep morphing into a REAL feminist, the kind who loves men and loves women equally and doesn’t assign blame based on body parts. If this experience taught me anything, it’s that society loves to pit women against one another and make us all into “frenemies” (god I hate trendy portmanteaus) who only pretend to commiserate. We’re human beings first, and we should be treated as such.

I wrote this so that someone could perhaps learn something from it. Not seeking pity or comfort or anything – I’ve mostly made my peace with myself and with the situation. Learn from my mistakes, kids. And don’t let a man cheat on you. If he does, move on. Because if they do it once, they will do it again. I’ve lived that nightmare, and it would break my heart if someone I loved had to go through that same five-year emotional roller coaster.

Peace and blessings.


It must have skipped a generation or two…

14 Dec

In July, I went to upstate New York to visit my grandfather as he was undergoing surgery to have two tumors removed from his brain. The operation went well and he was doing much better almost immediately. He is still undergoing some radiation treatments and has his ups and downs, but the surgery seems to have been a major factor in his survival to this point.

While I was there, we stayed in the spare apartment attached to my grandfather’s house. In that apartment were boxes and boxes of newspaper clippings, family photos and the like. My mother and I were determined to acquaint ourselves with the family heritage, so we dug through the boxes over the course of a day and found some fascinating stuff – we were able to trace one side of my grandfather’s family tree all the way back to 1780.

The coolest find, however, was made by yours truly. The high school yearbooks of my great-grandmother were in one of these boxes. Leafing through the yearbook from 1916, I came across an essay titled “Our National Music.” That, of course, piqued my interest. So imagine my surprise when I discovered who wrote it: my great-grandmother, Loleta Hoxter.

Yes, my great-grandmother was an amateur musicologist. My mind was understandably blown when I made this discovery, and I still get goosebumps thinking about it – not only was my ancestor a budding music historian, but she had chosen to write about American music, and music by American women. I am an American music scholar and study gender in music. It was just uncanny, and I spent the remainder of the trip gushing about the discovery to anyone who would listen.

I would like to reproduce her article here, for the rest of the world and for myself of course. I have both the yearbook and her type-written draft. The paper is yellowed, but it’s in remarkable shape for being close to 100 years old. So, enjoy an article written by my ancestor about American music.


Our National Music

Music was introduced in America in New England during the seventeenth century. It was known as psalmody and originated with the Pilgrims. The puritans soon made an advance in music; and slowly psalmody grew into sacred songs, gathering strength with each onward step until it gradually entered upon new conditions which led to its present high plane of art endeavor and achievement, of universal cultivation and diffusion.

Many writers on American music have sneered at the emphasis placed upon early music but it is nothing to sneer at. The early writers had a very hard and difficult struggle, composing and publishing music. Now, it is for us to contrast the present and the past and to rejoice over the marvelous advancement, which such comparison illustrates. In the preface of George Hood’s “History of Music in New England,” he says, “All things must have their beginning and this, though small, is important.” He adds that at first our music was low and mean; but if we hope to have a history of the art worth preserving, we should not lose the past but carefully gather it up and place it with the future that the latter by contrast may appear the more bright and beautiful.

Of course it would not be just to pass over the composers of this most beautiful art; therefore I shall mention a few of the many writers. The first that comes to my mind and one that was among the earlier writers is Lowell Mason. To this man is due great gratitude for his efforts to found American music and to encourage its progress. He spent his time mostly on church music and did much to promote correct of established church hymns. He began the study of music when a boy; and because of diligent efforts, he was soon master of his great art and a teacher of music. Public concerts were given; and he with a few friends founded the Boston Academy of Music.

Another great composer of music was John Philip Sousa who is known throughout the world for his wonderful bands and band music. Many splendid bands were organized by this man and he also wrote many marches, which are based upon his own experience of the feelings of men who march together on the open field. While very young, Sousa was the conductor of an orchestra in a theatre. At twenty-six he became leader of the United States Marine Band; and this organization under his leadership developed into one of the best military bands in the world. Later, he took leadership of the band bearing his own name.

Another famous writer of music is John K. Paine. He is considered the most classic of our composers. He studied music under a local teacher and then went abroad for three years under Haupt and other great foreign musicians. Having returned home, he was appointed instructor of music at Harvard and shortly afterward was promoted to full professorship; he has held this position ever since with distinguished success.

There is a large number of other male composers; but I shall now turn to the feminine sex. There are famous women composers and writers of music. For instance, Mrs. Julia Ward Howe, writer of “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” and Mrs. H. H. A. Beach, formerly  Miss Cheney, who is a great concert pianist as well as a composer of music in the largest forms. Not many living men can point to a composition of more maturity and more dignity than Mrs. Beach’s “Jubilate,” for the dedication of the Women’s Building at the Columbus Exposition. Besides there is Margaret Lang, who has written large works. Miss Lang has a harmonic individuality, too, and finds out new effects that are strange without strain.

Such being our achievements, I do not hesitate to match the high-hearted, electric-minded free people of our hills and prairies with the rest of the world, and to prophesy that in the coming century the musical supremacy and inspiration of the world will rest here overseas, in America.

– Loleta B. Hoxter, 1916