Publications
 

Co-written by Renee Fisher, Joyce Kramer and Jean Peelen

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“For these three women, life began at 50 years of age when they made the decision to be honest about themselves. Thankfully, they have shared their stories with us.”

Betty Friedan

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Due to the overwhelming response to the authors' first book, Invisible No More: The Secret Lives of Women Over 50, Saving the Best For Last incorporates several new chapters, as well as an exciting interactive element throughout.

Recipe for Dead Cat in Winter.

Written by Jean Peelen
Published in the Great Smokies Review, Spring 2021 edition

Ingredients:

One crying daughter

One daughter’s careless husband 

One fourth floor apartment

One open window

One dead cat 

One pizza restaurant freezer

One tiny coffin, with small window for viewing

One national park

One shovel

One boombox

Comforting music (e.g., “Over the Rainbow” preferably by Judy Garland)

One minister (or reasonable facsimile)

Frozen ground

Directions:

This recipe can only work if the husband who scared the cat out of the fourth-floor window truly did it by mistake.  If not a mistake, divorce husband immediately.

Place cat, well wrapped, in freezer in friend’s pizza restaurant to await spring burial.  Do not tell restaurant employees.

When notified by restaurant that city inspectors are coming, retrieve frozen cat as quickly as possible.

Have carpenter friend build small, adorable coffin

Take crying daughter, frozen cat, coffin, shovel, and boom box, to a national park.  Place cat in coffin.  If cat is frozen and won’t fit into coffin, either wait for it to thaw or break its legs..

Once cat is thawed, fold legs gently into coffin. Dig hole in frozen ground.  If that proves difficult, make crying daughter ask passers-by for help.

Play “Over the Rainbow” on the boombox.  If minister fails to appear, pretend to be one and say appropriate words over dead cat.  You should avoid words like “thrown,” “window,” and “stupid fool.”

Get daughter another cat asap.  

Works In Progress

“What Was Written for Me” (working title) consists of 50 micro-memoirs, each capturing one moment in time. I grew up longing to do great things but bounded by the 1950s views of the role of women. The book tells my struggle between reaching for goals and surrendering to conformity. It, really, is every woman’s story. Here is one story from the collection.

“What Was Written for Me” (working title) consists of 50 micro-memoirs, each capturing one moment in time. I grew up longing to do great things but bounded by the 1950s views of the role of women. The book tells my struggle between reaching for goals and surrendering to conformity. It, really, is every woman’s story. Here is one story from the collection.

1975
Knitting in Law School

Tuscaloosa, AL

 

 

Knit one, purl one. Knit one, purl one.

I sit and I knit in almost all my law school classes.

Every class is lecture, with no discussion. Questions are designed only to determine whether the reading assignment has been performed. I don’t concern myself about these little torture rituals they call teaching since it is unlikely I or the few other women in my classes will be called on. We are invisible to the majority of professors.

All but one law professor is male.

 In the entering class before mine, there were only two women. In my class, 25% of us are female. It wasn’t easy to get here, and I am petrified I could fail at all of it.

Knit one, purl one.

By the end of the winter, I will have outfitted my children and several of my classmates with scarves and mittens.

During most classes, my head is bowed over my knitting. When I do occasionally look up, I look unsmiling at the professors. My Criminal Law professor complains to the Dean that I stare at him with menace, while knitting, during his class. The Dean thinks it important to investigate this allegation of improper staring.

“Why are you staring in a hostile manner at the professor in class? It makes everyone uncomfortable.”

“Because he told a bad joke.”

“What kind of bad joke?”

Gradient

“A racist and sexist bad joke about the price of prostitutes.”

“Which was?”

“I will not repeat it.”

The investigation is dropped.

Not to be outmaneuvered, the professor calls several male students from the Criminal Law class into his office to express his concerns about me. In law school, the identity of final exam takers is not known to the professors. Intimidation is their only weapon.

“I am troubled about your class.”

“Why?”

“One student is so disruptive to the class and to me.”

“Who?”

“The knitter woman. It’s upsetting that she doesn’t really participate in the class. She looks like she is always judging me. The distress she causes could affect my grades for the whole class.”

Instead of the students going directly to the Dean to report this extortion attempt, the group sends a representative to talk to me. There he stands, all white, male, and privileged.

“We had a meeting with the professor. He says your attitude could affect the grades for the whole class. I know you are a very nice person. Please stop knitting and smile more. Can’t you see how your behavior could affect us all?”

“I know you too are a very nice person. Now fuck off.”

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Madame Defarge