My mom Rosie, with her Popeye muscles, who can open any jar, build an entire fence by herself, and carry a limp 70-pound dog to her car before racing it to the vet and saving its life. Who did the Peace Corps in Iran back in the ’60s, can draw anything, knows the names of birds, kicks butt at bridge, remembers calculus, detests novels about vampires, and makes perfectly flaky pie crust without a recipe. Who gets mad sometimes, but will always forgive you, and love you no matter what. Who taught me never to take crap from anyone—or, at least, only from a select few.
My neighbor Pilar, who’s from Spain, and whose door was always open to me growing up in Braeswood. Who, for many years, waged an unsuccessful campaign to get me to wear shoes. Who wore a black beret and painted incredible oil paintings of women by the sea, and astronauts, and nuns, and a 16-year-old me. Who made me Spanish tortilla and even took me to Spain. Who has always strived for a romantic, interesting, intellectual life. Who taught me conformity is for the birds.
My aunt Shirley, who spent two years traveling around the world on a sailboat, and drove a Land Rover across Africa, listening to lions roar as she tried to sleep at night. Who went to law school when few women were doing so, had a successful career, then retired to write mystery novels (one of which features me, or someone very like me, getting murdered in the Rice library). Who taught me it’s never too late to try something new.
These three people immediately come to mind when I think about Houstonian women who’ve inspired me (for many more, see our feature story, page 47). They’ve endured so much while they’ve seen the world around them change—in some ways, especially lately, for the better. I’m grateful they’ve gotten to witness this latest chapter in American womanhood, in which we’ve collectively decided that enough is enough, that predators should be named, that we’re going to call out everyday sexism. But I’m even more glad for someone else:
My niece Jade, who adores rats—RIP, Timothy and Wallpaper—and loves painting and drawing, often employing frank sexual imagery that makes me blush. Who has posed nude for a live-drawing class. Who describes her favorite musical genre as doom-folk, knows how to twerk, and speaks in a loud voice whenever she wants. Who doesn’t brush over it when someone acts inappropriately. Who is unafraid of confrontation. Who makes me laugh, steals my clothes, and has taken approximately a million selfies on my phone. Who schools her relatives on cultural appropriation, gender fluidity and polyamory. Who calls herself a feminist. Who taught me that the next generation, they’re okay.
This issue’s for all the amazing Houstonian women out there, but especially, it’s for Jadey.