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August 10, 2008

What time is it?

August 9. Day 40.

Gotcha. Did you think I was going to count "What time is it?" as one of my questions? Come, now, gentle reader. Haven't we come to expect more from each other?

We're 40 days into this experiment. That same mystical period which the soul is said to float around the body of a dead person, and the number of days or years various people spent time in the desert (Jews, Jesus, inversely).

Asking for something every day, I'm discovering, is a lot harder than I imagined. For one, I feel I'm generally satisfied with my life. I also don't have that many opportunities to negotiate, hence the many postings from cafes and check out stands.

But today, I had an experience that made me think I'm going about this the wrong way.

I went to the beach at Dana Point to meet up with a group of family and friends, a reunion of sorts. A few of us began playing bocce. It was my first time. As I watched and learned, the game's owner handed me the tiny bocce ball to throw into the sand. (Goal: the players have to throw or roll their own colored balls as close to the bocce as possible.) I threw it for several rounds, until someone won. Then I joined the game and my friend said, "Who wants to throw the ball? Roxy went easy on us. Didn't make us work very hard. Does someone want to give it a good hurl?"

I froze inside.

It had never occurred to me to throw it further, even though I had plenty of space. I tossed it what seemed an acceptable distance, about halfway between where the players were and the beach towels.

Half way.

It's exactly what I keep on reading: When female students were offered money for a task in an experiment and offered compensation, they said thanks and walked away; male students asked for more. When women are told to name their salary, they rarely push the envelope, assuming there's a cap or simply fooling themselves into feeling satisfied.

Why didn't I hurl that ball?

Why am I quick to please, and why is it so hard for me to seize new asking opportunities?


Today's question, by the way, happened before the bocce revelation. Driving to the beach, I realized I forgot to bring a towel.

"Mama, can we stop at Marshalls?"

I believe that's the only thing I asked for, all day.

Maybe I can turn it around and ask you: Why don't women ask? Okay, we're socialized not to, but even when if we're aware of the situation and are trying to remedy it, we still conceive of a smaller, less ambitious and less rewarding playing field. At least, I did, today.

Like I said, it's been hard some days to come up with opportunities. But I do aim to stop aiming so low.

Gained: A soft grey oversized towel. A shudder. A jolt.
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