Convergence. The coming together of things. “Things”, much like “stuff”; what convenient words. Over the past fortnight (including publishing day for this piece) I experienced a convergence of things and events through fortune not prowess and they all had an impact that I would like to share with you today.
Last week in read Secrets of the Spakkar by Elisa Reid. “Spakkar” is an Icelandic word that has no direct English counterpart. I’ll not explain it today in a sort of bribe to get you to read the book.
Elisa Reid is the First Lady of Iceland. She was born in Canada and met her husband in graduate school as the understated Reid puts it in the UK. That is true but her master’s is from Oxford. I’m not demeaning the UK’s other schools but generally speaking the most valued and respected master’s degrees in the world come from Oxford. It is far from just another school or just another good school for that matter.
My local independent bookstore (Page 158 in Wake Forest, North Carolina) was able to get Eliza to appear at Meredith College for a talk and book signing this past Sunday. I was part of the large crowd that attended. I wasn’t the only rooster in the hen house but way too close to it. Eliza (and I refer to her by her first name, not out of disrespect but because she is that real) uses the platform afforded to her for two main objectives: bringing attention to the issue of equality – in particular gender equality, but she doesn’t forget other less well-respected groups – and the promotion of Iceland. I’m a typical American in that I don’t know a lot about Iceland and certainly learned much about it by reading the book. My opinion of Iceland went from basically uniformed neutral to positive (except for the weather – despite originally being from Western New York I just don’t like colder weather).
Speaking of smart ladies, Page 158 (www.page158books.com) co-owner and I’m fortunate to say my personal friend, Sue Lucey, was also on the panel. She led the questioning and kept it all flowing. Eliza gave warm and just the right touch of expansive answers. While she is a much better public speaker, she reminded me of how Ta-Nehisi Coates comes off in a similar setting. In case you are unfamiliar with Coates, that is a huge compliment. Both have a knack for answering questions in everyday language while making you (sometimes reflectively) think.
Today is Pi Day which is kind of a holiday for smart nerds. (I will send a text to my oldest stepdaughter who has Ph. D. after her name). It is also Equal Pay Day. That is the day that on average women have to work to in order to have earned what a man doing the same job earned during the previous year. In theory they have worked for free since New Years Day. If you can’t see the unfairness in that please stop reading this piece; you simply lack the critical thinking skills to appreciate my writing. Go open a beer and watch Fox News lie to you. The agony of Pi Day and Equal Pay Day falling on the same day just overwhelms me!
My regular readers know of my positions on equality. Discounting more than half of the human resources simply because of gender, sexual orientation, religion, ethnic background or other such factors is simply very, very, very bad business!
Sticking to solely gender for a bit, I believe in Hillary Clinton’s statement that women’s rights are human rights. I’m a cisgender, heterosexual, male but I certainly benefit from working (inside and outside the house) women. Obviously if my wife earned money, I also benefited from it. Many of the professional practitioners (including Sue) whose services I avail myself of are women. Without a doubt they make my life better. Some of the medical ones (and there have been and still are several) may well be responsible for me still being here and able to write this piece.
Oh, yesterday I added Secrets of the Spakkar to the Recommended Reading List. I don’t think I ever did that as part of a major article but the book will definitely educate you as it provokes though and makes you laugh.
Eliza is left-handed (like my last boss Barack Obama). I picked that off (the old basketball coach in me) as she graciously signed my copy of her book in a mixture of both English and Icelandic. Thanks again!
As an interesting aside, the first act President Obama signed into law with that left hand was the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.
Despite the best efforts of many people, most certainly including Eliza, the issue of inequity still lingers. That won’t stop people like her from knocking on that door until they knock it down. I. for one am thankful and so should you be!
In conclusion; a lot converged in the process I enjoyed both the book and the event.
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