Bic for Her Pens

Today I heard about the most stupid fucking pen on the planet.  The Bic for Her.  (I know, I know, I'm a little late to this party.  I've been under a rock lately and I missed this one.)

Yup, the pen maker Bic has decided that their regular pens are not good enough for a woman.  Or maybe they think they're too good.  Or too complicated.  Or too ugly.  Or too masculine.  Or something like that.  I actually don't know why they got the idea to make a pen specifically for women.  Does that mean that all other pens are made for men?  Ugh.  That is just way too deep for me to wade into and it makes my head hurt.  So instead, I'll just imagine how this meeting of the minds went:

Man 1:  Gentlemen, I'd like to call this meeting to order.  Our first agenda item is the pressing need I've seen for a pen designed specifically for women and I'm happy to report we are on track with our developments to meet that market.

Man 2:  Wait.  What?

Man 1:  Has your wife not complained?

Man 2:  I'm not married.

Everyone:  Ohhhh.  

Man 3:  Yes, well that makes sense then.  All of our wives won't stop complaining about the regular ballpoint pens we bring home.

Man 2:  What is there to complain about?

Man 1:  They're too hard to hold.

Man 3:  They're embarrassing to be seen with.

Man 4:  They're ugly colors.

Man 5:  They clash with her clothes.

Man 3:  They're bulky and masculine.

Man 2:  I see.  I don't know.  I may not be married, but I have lots of female friends and I've never heard anything like this.

Man 1:  You're joking, right?

Man 2:  No.  Not at all.

Man 3:  It's a real problem and we're the only pen company taking it on.  Women will send us thank you cards -

Man 4:  Written with a pen designed just for her needs!

Man 3:  Of course!

Man 2:  OK, so what does the new lady pen look like?

Man 1:  Uhh...we're thinking of calling it the Bic for Her.  "Lady pen" is a bit degrading, don't you think?

Man 2:  Oh, sorry. 

Man 1:  It's OK, just please be respectful of the ladies who will buy this pen.

Man 2:  Fine.  What is it like?  What makes it womanly?  Can I say that?

Man 4:  Oh, it's awesome!  It's pink - 

Man 3:  Or purple!

Man 1:  Right.  Actually, pink, purple, peach.  All colors women like.

Man 3:  It's retractable.

Man 4:  Y'know, that way she has fewer steps before writing.

Man 1:  Anything to make life easier for her is good in my book!

Man 5:  And no caps to lose.

Man 1:  My wife is always losing the caps to our pens!

Man 3:  Don't forget the best part:  the fun comfort grip.

Man 1:  Women like to have fun when they're writing.

Man 3:  And it's comfortable - bonus!

Man 2:  How much will they cost?

Man 1:  Well, now that's the thing.  It's going to be a bit more than our other pens.

Man 4:  About twice as much.

Man 2:  How come?

Man 3:  That fun comfort grip doesn't come cheap!

Man 1:  And we put a lot of money into product development.  Coming up with feminine colors and the solution to all those lost pen cost us a lot in R & D.

Man 5:  Plus, it's the first and only of it's kind.  We're trailblazers!  The ONLY pen designed just for women.  Women will pay for that!

Man 2:  What about men?  What if they want to buy it?

Man 1:  Why would he want to do that?  Is he a pussy or something?

Read the hilarious reviews about this pen here and here.

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Asian Men Who Are Not Crazy Rich Are Hot Too

Years ago if you'd asked young, single Jen about her dream guy, the list would have been something like:

  1. Intelligent.
  2. Kind.
  3. Hilarious.
  4. Cute.

“White guy” wasn't on that list, but it was implied because I was a Midwestern suburban white girl who didn't have a lot of exposure to other cultures. When I imagined my future babies, they were blond-haired and blue-eyed.

I logged onto America Online one fateful night in the early 1990s and started a random chat session with a guy in New York City named Ebeneezer.

We met in a chat room devoted to 80s movies. We sat up late into the night discussing which John Hughes film was “like, totally the voice of our generation” and which Star Wars movie was the worst.

Soon our conversations veered away from movies and into our personal lives. Before you knew it, we were commiserating about dead-end jobs and sharing our hopes and dreams.

I found myself looking forward to our chats and many nights I'd choose to stay in so I could hang out online with Ebeneezer.

We'd been chatting for a few weeks when Ebeneezer asked me: “You're white, right?”

“Yes,” I replied.

“Cool. I'm Chinese,” he replied.

I didn't respond right away, because I was embarrassed. Embarrassed by my assumptions. What is that delightful rhyme you are taught as a youngster about assuming? Yeah, I felt like that. I had assumed Ebeneezer was white too. It never occurred to me he wasn't, because I assumed that everyone was white unless they told me otherwise. Our first exchange was first names, ages, and locations. Neither of us had asked about ethnicity and we'd never seen a photo of one another. (Keep in mind, these were the 1990s, children, when Facebook was but a gleam in school-aged Mark Zuckerberg's eye and people didn't have smartphones with cameras. If you wanted a picture of yourself to show online, it was a whole thing. So instead, you chatted with strangers without knowing what they looked like. I know. Gasp!)

“Hello? Still there?” Ebeneezer asked.

I recalled conversations with friends where we discussed the hotness of boys in our class and whenever we'd get to an Asian boy someone would inevitably say, “Yeah, I'm not really into Asian guys. Like, Asian girls are pretty and I get why guys like them, but Asian boys just aren't my thing.” And we'd all nod like automatons. Ebeneezer's personality was huge and I found him interesting, entertaining, and intelligent, but I wasn't into Asian guys. Right? The blond Viking I'd imagined on the other end of the line was replaced with an image of Long Duk Dong, because that was the only vision I had. There had never been an Asian romantic lead I could conjure up. You're ridiculous, I told myself. You realize you're a chubby chick, right? I doubt “fluffy” is on Ebeneezer's must-have list and yet, here we are. If you two met at a party, you'd both think you're not into one another because of some dumb criteria you made up. Mr. Darcy can totally be Chinese, dummy!

“I'm here,” I replied.

Twenty-plus years later Ebeneezer and I have two kids together and I am very conscious of how they see themselves portrayed in pop culture. Over the years I've had several meetings about turning my People I Want to Punch in the Throat series of books into a television show. We'll get through the initial meetings where they tell me my voice is strong, unique, and different and how there's nothing else like it and then they'll drop the bomb: “The husband can't be Asian.”

“But these stories are nonfiction based on my real life,” I'll say. “My husband is Chinese American.”

At this point I'm given a few lame excuses, and once I heard, “Frankly, there are too many Asians on television. I can't sell it.”

I was furious and heartbroken. I raged, cried, and cursed.

My husband, on the other hand, sat quietly and watched me meltdown. When I was done and finally came up for breath, I wailed, “Why aren't you mad?”

He shrugged. “Because this is the way it is.”

When I stumbled upon Kevin Kwan's Crazy Rich Asians, the hilarious title immediately caught my eye. I read it in one sitting. After that, I recommended that book to anyone who asked (and even to people who didn't, because I'm annoying like that). I couldn't help myself. I'd finally found a book starring a sexy, intelligent, kind, charming Asian man at the center of a love story.

“You're just like Nick,” I told Ebeneezer. “Except he's rich.”

We are not a family who rushes out to the theater on opening day of any movie. We don't like to put on pants and leave our house and we don't like crowds, but I was ready to make an exception for Crazy Rich Asians. Unfortunately, the release date coincided with the first day of school. We had so much going on, I didn't see how we could make it work. I almost postponed when the phrase, “Representation matters” popped into my head.

I'd heard that phrase over and over again from the diverse group of writers I follow online. But what did it really mean? I see myself in almost every family sitcom or fabric softener ad. But what about my family? I went online and I found four tickets for an afternoon showing on opening day.

I texted the kids to come out of school right away and we were the first car in the pickup line.

When my two bewildered kids climbed in the car, my son asked, “Why the all caps texts?”

“We're going to see Crazy Rich Asians,” I said. “Buckle up, we have 18 minutes until show time.”

“But it's a school night,” my daughter protested.

“And I have baseball practice,” my son argued.

“We have a two and half hour break,” I said.

My son shook his head. “What is going on, Mom? Why are you acting like this?”

Ebeneezer nodded. “Yeah, why are you making such a big deal? I'm Asian and I'm not as excited as you.”

That's because my husband gave up long ago. If he wants to see an Asian leading man, he will watch action movies from Hong Kong or Korean dramas. But I refused to give in and accept that as the future for my children. “I'm making a big deal because it is a big deal. I want you three to see what it feels like to see yourselves on the big screen and not as the Kung Fu specialist in a bank heist movie.”

Ebeneezer rolled his eyes but didn't argue. (He knows better by now.)

A few hours later, as we sat in a dark theater watching a handsome Asian man sweep a beautiful Asian woman off her feet, I glanced at my family. There were tears in my husband's eyes. My stoic, unflappable Chinese husband was crying. My son, who has the attention span of a gnat, was riveted by the story. And my daughter, the adventurous one, whispered, “I want to go to Singapore!”

Was the movie great? Did it live up to the book? Honestly, I have no idea. I wasn't even watching the movie with that in mind. I was there to support my family. I was there to show them that they matter and their stories matter.

Crazy Rich Asians didn't have the same impact on my kids as it did Ebeneezer, because they're being raised in a multicultural world where books and movies feature protagonists who look like them. Of course, it's a very small portion of what's being produced and there aren't enough of them, so that's why it's so important to shine a light and celebrate them when they're made. That's why I jumped through hoops and squeezed every last minute out of our schedule that day. We all needed that. Even me. I realize there wasn't a plump white lady in Nick's arms, but I needed to see other white women in our crowded movie theater swooning over an Asian leading man. I needed them to see what I see what I already know: Asian guys are hot too.

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10 Simple Self-Care Ideas

I was recently asked what I do for self-care.

"Self-care?" I scoffed. "What's that?" My husband had been out of town for several weeks and I was doing all the jobs: mom, dad, chef, chauffeur, cleaner, bill-payer, etc. I wasn't getting enough sleep, enough vegetables, or enough alone time. (Not even at bedtime since my kids were camping out on the floor of my bedroom so we could make memories and all that good stuff.) Self-care was the very last thing on my mind.

"Yes, do you exercise? Meditate? Paint?"

The conversation was stressing me out. Who knew self-care was so stressful?? 

To me, the idea of working out didn't sound like self-care. I know I'm supposed to set a good example for my kids, though. They should see me with a running high and think, "I want that too!" Instead, they see me with a donut and they're like, "I want that too!" Hmm...I could get off the couch during commercials, though, and do some crunches or something. That would be beneficial. 

That got me thinking: The kids are back in school this week. I now have hours that I spend flitting around on the internet with no one begging for attention or a ride to the mall. I could use some of that time for self-care. I could show my kids that it's just as important to take care of myself as it is to take care of them. Because if Mama isn't happy, nobody's happy. But did I really want to make yet another list I'd probably give up on? I could take baby steps and make a list of small, easy, manageable self-care steps. 

But I had no idea where to begin. What is self-care? Besides yoga and running, what else counts as self-care? I wondered. I decided to do what I always do when I don't know the answer: I Googled that shit. I found tons of helpful lists out there and they inspired me to make my own.

Here's a list of some self-care things I'm committed to trying this year:

1. Read a book. Done and done. I decided to set the bar low at the beginning so I'd really feel like I was accomplishing something. It's like when you make a To-Do List and the first item is "Make a list" and you can cross that off right away.

2. Take a bubble bath. Ooh, I do that a lot too, I like to be clean and bubbly. Self-care is easy! I'm killing this list!

3.  Take a walk. My first thought was, "To where?" Are we walking to the park? To the store? I'm a goal-oriented person and I need a goal and I need a reward. For instance, I would totally walk a mile to the ice cream shop. I decided to walk around the neighborhood and look at the clouds (another suggestion on many lists, so now it's like having two self-care items in one). 

4. Edit your social media friends. Hmm, this could be a good one for me. I'm surrounded by a lot of online toxicity these days and it would be nice to purge a bit. I wield the ban stick pretty freely, but I still keep around a lot of people who bring me down. It wouldn't hurt to cull the list.

5. Cook a fancy meal. This is going to be really hard for me. I'm a terrible cook. I don't enjoy cooking. I wouldn't find it at all relaxing or entertaining, but maybe if I just let go of all my fears and expectations of burned food, I'll see that cooking can be fun??? I don't know. I'll keep you posted on that one.

6. Hug someone for at least 15 seconds to boost the immune system. I think I hug people a lot, but I probably don't hug for a full 15 seconds. I'm going to start paying more attention to the hugs I give. To be present and to really mean it when I hug someone.

7. Skip household chores guilt-free for an entire day. After walking, cooking, and hugging, I decided I needed another easy one and this one sounded doable. 

8. Laugh. Okay, this is one I do daily. I didn't realize it counted as self-care, so I guess I do practice self-care! Yay, me! Seriously, though, there are so many benefits to laughing. We are living in an uptight, sandy, pissed-off world and we need a release. Laughter can do that for you. My goal every day is to make people laugh and to make sure that I laugh too. We have to laugh at ourselves and we have to laugh at our circumstances or we will probably explode. It's true, that's science, folks.

9. Do a mini-declutter. The key word here is "mini." You don't have to KonMari the shit out of your closet, but you know you've got some jeans in there from 1997 that are never going to work for you again. Get rid of 10 items and call it a day.

10. Light some candles and enjoy a glass of wine. This one came up a lot on various lists I found. Wine and alcohol always seem to be a go-to for people when they're thinking about self-care. I don't disagree that a glass of wine at the end of a long day can be deeply rewarding, but I think we have to be careful of the quantity we're consuming. And for me, it wouldn't even be every day. I don't plan to do anything else on this list daily--except read--so I can't plan to unwind with wine and alcohol every day either.

I think this list is a good start. I found a lot of other simple changes I can make, too. Like just sitting for five minutes or turn off all distractions and watch nature or driving aimlessly with the radio blasting. All of these are easy re-charges for busy, over-worked, stressed out women and I encourage you to make a list that works for you. Like, if running a marathon and knitting scarves are your thing, then you do you. Just make sure that you're mindful of what you're choosing to do to care for yourself, because our kids are watching and they're learning from us. 

What do you do for self-care? Leave me a comment.

This post was sponsored by and I am part of the #Asklistenlearn blogger program. All views and opinions are my own. Thanks to for always encouraging me to find ways to talk to my kids about important topics.

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