Privilege Blog

Throwing Teacups On The Floor, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:30am

I’ve had lots of opportunities to be a grownup this week. I rose to some of them. Not all.

It does get easier, grownuphood. I suppose it’s one of those tradeoffs for the indignities of aging.

When I was young, I was young. Not adult at all. My father suggested I should take Katherine Hepburn as a role model. He meant rachet back on the displays of emotion, I think, and stop flying off the handle quite so often. I can’t say for certain if I interpreted him correctly, High WASPs do so love the indirect. But let’s say I got it right.

Then, in my 40s, a manager suggested I focus on “executive presence.” Similar implications. And so I have tried to grow up, ever since.

It’s helped to realize that the lost handle grips, the non-executive outbursts, resulted from a sort of zero-to-60 emotional range. In other words, I’d hold it together as long as I could, and then exceed my capacity without warning. Pow. The glass of red wine dumped onto a white table cloth, a teacup thrown across the room.

High WASPs are kind of comical in their rages, with teacups as props. But one works with what one has.

The blog has helped. Providing, if you will, a built-in 35-50 buffer zone. There’s always time to take a deep breath, and reflect, when you’re writing. More and more I try to extend that breath to life. To pause, and keep the eye of consciousness focused benignly on my self.

Doesn’t always work. I hope I’ve got time to practice.

Here’s to adulthood, whenever it finds you. That when you’re found, it feels less like restraint and more like grace. And, oh yes, those are wholly gratuitous photos of white roses. Because another good part of adulthood is planting the flowers you like best.

Have a wonderful weekend.

49 Responses

  1. I find as I’ve aged, I’m too tired to express my WASP temper-tantrum. I should most likely rephrase that; the exception being mumbling obscenities at other drivers I deem, idiots. By the way, how lady like of you – tea cups. Nice. Unfortunately, my last memory of throwing something (in my 30’s) was a cast iron skillet of simmering pasta sauce, at the head of my ex. So not cool. He ducked. And I suffered for years over how un-adult I was. Truth is he deserved worst. I’m not sure I can claim adulthood, but I try to never cross over to the dark side. Declining hormones has certainly helped ;)

  2. When I was young, I was described as reminiscent of Katharine Hepburn. As a Silicon Valley executive I was a model of strength and decorum. It is only recently that teacups near me have become endangered. (I seem to remember you are a mug woman. Was this a strategic move?) I’m now learning to loosen any over-tightened grips on the cups and saucers of my days, and breathe through the more challenging moments without incident to the china or any bystanders; either guilty or innocent. For good and/or ill, I seem to be a Bob Dylanesque work-in-progress: I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now. Happy Saturday. (The white roses are glorious.)

  3. There has been so much said in response to the criticism you received this week that I decided not to add to the lengthy love letters. I’m fairly certain, however, that I am considerably older than most, if not all your readers and in so being am going to add my 2 cents in the form of a cautionary tale. First of all, I found your blog, in addition to several others, at a time in my life when I was feeling extraordinarily isolated. The contact, however tenuous, with other women, has made an enormous difference in my life. Many of the blogs I have read and enjoyed for the past 5-10 years are concluding publication, which creates a hole in my life. Fine, but I would be distressed to think that criticism played a role in anyone’s decision. When I first moved to this community, a bucolic rural utopia in the heart of prep school land, I played indoor tennis all winter at one of more generously endowed schools. Over the course of those years a variety of women (one in particular) complained repeatedly to the pro about little issues, such as “she played 15 minutes longer than is allowed for a doubles game.” His repeated response was, “You’ll have to work this out amongst yourselves because if you don’t the wonderful privilege you now enjoy will disappear.” You can write the story’s sad ending yourself. I no longer play tennis in the winter months.

    1. You know I’m probably older than the commenters also. Yes, the web has opened up a whole world to me that I love. In fact I’m planing on starting a blog. Learning how right now on You might think of doing that yourself. Let the world into your life. If I can be of any help I’d be happy to.

  4. Feeling calm these days, but I´ve done my share of splashing liquids around – and cleaning the mess myself – in silence.
    Not much of shouting either these days. Perhaps being able to write my thoughts down, helps..
    I still have ( thank god ) strong emotions, but manage to handle them in a different way.
    Your roses are extra beautiful.
    Have a lovely weekend: ).

  5. Because another good part of adulthood is planting the flowers you like best.” – Absolutely! So is an ability to maturely reflect and reject or embrace ideas and ideals. And to remember that we are not the labels others may have assigned us at one time or another. Thank you for imparting your wisdom!

  6. The other side of the coin — for those who find it much, much harder to access their anger — is to learn to express things reasonably and courageously, at the right time, rather than suppressing genuine feelings that later manifest in self-defeating behavior. I suspect that this is just as difficult as restraining emotions close to the surface. It’s all about learning one’s “meet and right” place in the world and among others, isn’t it? And there’s a lovely word that captures what we all need and seek: grace.
    Your rose photographs are stunning. :)

    1. Others in my family had this task instead. Seems we took different stances in response to the environment. You are very right.

  7. “To pause, and keep the eye of consciousness focused benignly on my self.”


    Thank you, Lisa, for your benign wisdom and your beautiful roses.

  8. Growing old is a priviledge, growing up is optional. This week we will celebrate the 96th birthday of my friend Margaret. She too is waiting to grow up!
    And, YES YES! YES!! plant whatever you like!

  9. No allowance in my childhood home for temper tantrums – zero tolerance. Perhaps because my mother had them instead? I made an early decision not to follow her example, and although for the most part it has served me well, I think I could have used a model for expressing anger in a more constructive way. My tendency now is to either do nothing (and hold it all in and retreat emotionally) or on rare occasion, to get verbally nasty. Not thrilled with either option, still trying to find a middle ground.

  10. Thank you for once again being real Lisa! The drama of ‘boiling blood’, and the learnings that come from it are priceless…and going from ‘restraint to grace’ is truly a paradigm shift that is a lesson worth it’s weight in gold…or tea cups…(or cell phones!).
    Wishing you a peaceful weekend enjoying your beautiful flowers!
    xo J~

  11. “… less like restraint and more like grace.”

    That captures it perfectly. And it’s hard to imagine you throwing teacups, though it makes me smile just a little to think of it.


  12. I find I no longer have the energy for temper tantrums. With age I have found more effective ways to get what I want. (Or accept the fact that it is not going to happen.)

    My kids still have them. The rules in our house are such that anyone can have a temper tantrum – they just have to have it in their room. And that includes the grown ups….

    Take care Lisa.

  13. Just as an aside………I have found that when I DO display my anger, it gets taken very, very seriously. I think that must be because the target of my vitriol realizes that it has taken a really serious offense to unleash those words.

    Haven’t even thrown anything; wonder how that would be received.

  14. Got to get out the teacups. What a delightful picture in my minds eye of your tossing teacups. Too be honest I would NEVER toss a teacup. It’s taken me LOOOOOOOOOG time to learn to express anger, let alone toss a teacup. Although I do remember throwing an ashtray once.

    Love seeing the gratuatuatus roses.

  15. Dear Heart, rest easy.

    And no thank you, I don’t accept any of this.

    What I do accept is the unknown, underlying cause of why you needed to make shards. I HONOR your shards. I trust YOU and the reason you needed to make them more than anything else. Follow it, track it, know it, honor it.

    It might have been that your beautifully-all-elbowed defense of Goldie exceeded what she deserved. You sure demonstrated Adult Tolerance for minutia wayyy beyond on that particular case. I’m not sure the cost, but it yielded a 100+ comment forun, so maybe I’m wrong.

    For me these last 2 days, it’s been the visage of Mary Richardson Kennedy that’s affected me with an inexplicable implosion/depression. Her marvelous face on the screen together with the absolute sureness of the Kennedy-based narrative that “her demons” and “her sickness” and “her agony” and “her mental illness” made them suffer beyond capacity. So much so that the GodHeadHimself had to remove her 4 children from her care.

    Don’t you just know she made shards on the floor over and over again, but no one honored them.

    1. “It might have been that your beautifully-all-elbowed defense of Goldie…..”

      NOnononono, supposed to read “NO-elbowed defense”

  16. No tantrums here in our Bungalow just beautiful teacups!
    Walking, dabbling in acrylics, our cat and my blog are outlets that keep me grounded and sane.

    Your white roses are frothy and lovely.
    I have a few pink David Austen roses in bloom right now and the creamy lily of the valley has run riot in the garden.

    Enjoy your weekend Lisa.

  17. Anger is one of the most exhausting emotions. That doesn’t mean I never feel it…but I find that I let go of it a lot easier as I’ve aged. And, now that I’ve said that, I will undoubtedly have some sort of surprising emotional outburst this week…

  18. I had the most horrid screaming tantrums as a child,use to lock myself in the bathroom for hours,my poor G/parents!! the gardener had to get the ladder out open the window to unlock the door!
    Not unknown for me to throw kitchen items around…PMT was blamed for that Mmmmmm!

    Life becomes calmer as one age’s and has help in coming to terms with loss of parents early in childhood.

    I see from your rose you have Summer weather,cold wet and a sharp wind here…the forecast is warmer
    weather next week…..about time. Ida

    1. Oh my god, the picture of the gardener getting out the ladder is priceless! And so sorry you lost your parents young.

  19. My mother once told me that when she would break china during an argument with my father, which she occasionally did when she got really angry, she made sure that she selected a piece that she didn’t particularly care for. She said that it made the breaking all that much more satisfying. Reggie

  20. Lifestyle bloggers worldwide will read this and become installation artists as they upcycle the remains of their ruined teacups into pieces that signify glimpses of grace. I’m working on my own funding application as I type.

  21. Throw teacups! I do hope I never get too old to throw the occasional teacup (usually metaphorically, but still). Constant, perfect calm is a bit much to ask for at any age, isn’t it?

  22. The Empress taught us never to show our emotions in public. On my wedding day, The Empress’s sister approached the receiving line in the back of the church and murmured something about my grandfather as she kissed my cheek. I began to cry and The Empress firmly squeezed my hand and fiercely whispered, “Stop it!” I am afraid that her words ring in my ear every time I am tempted to shatter a tea cup in public. Sigh. Best that we teach our children to vent in public than to save it for our loved ones.

  23. Just discovered your blog and can totally relate to your recent post. For me, gardening and lots of brisk walking helps with those pesky daily frustrations. I’m looking forward to reading your privilege “topics.”

  24. I now wonder should I go back to the corporate world after having worn the title of “Mom” for the past seven years, if I could pull of “executive presence.” Hmmm.

    As far as temper tantrums go, I think everyone is entitled to one once in a while. The question is how ugly and how drawn out a tantrum you would allow yourself.

  25. I have become a lot less angry over the years, and it takes a lot to tip the scale, but when it happens look out. Luckily I flare very brightly and then quickly fizzle out. I rarely hold grudges. Depending on the situation, I generally forgive and forget or I drop the person from my life. Once I have lost my good opinion of someone, it rarely comes back.

    As for my outbursts, I used to love smashing things. So satisfying to slam a teacup or saucer or crystal glass or dinner plate. I quickly learned I was the one to pick up the shards, so my compromise was to dash my glassware into the sink or dishwasher. Still get that satisfying sense of obliterating an object instead of a loved one’s feelings, and cleanup is a breeze!

  26. Anger is so 2011 :). Seriously, I let go of almost of it all of the time now and would never go back even if I could start life over and avoid known mistakes.

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