I saw the best minds of my gender destroyed
by marrying Harvard professors, starving
intellectually repressed, well-dressed, willing
themselves through one reception after
another, looking for the wine bar and
hoping for a phone call from the babysitter
at home, perfumed
perverts or primadonnas
or parenthetical asides
reciting from memory the abstracts
of their husbands’ latest publications and examining
red lipstick on napkins in search of something
wholly their own,
who wonder at woodland
etchings posed on dining room walls,
the etymologies of gazebo and drone,
who debate the U.S.
intervention in Syria with Stephen Greenblatt and Steven
Pinker based on what they’ve all read in The New Yorker,
who chase peas across heirloom dining ware while dreaming
of youth and solitude and the exhilaration
of reading Allen Ginsberg and not having
to say anything about it,
the dim lit alleyways
of the imagination too
sordid for scholarship
or scrutiny or even the
Pusey stacks and
ask for another glass of water.
I saw their rage rubbing stains, clearing plates.
I saw their silence as they listened
to the husbands of other women.
I saw their grace in rising from the table
and felt the silent shudders of laughter
that keep us
Anne Bradstreet is a Harvard wife.
Abigail Adams is a Harvard wife.
Eliza Farrar is a Harvard wife.
Eliza Follen is a Harvard wife.
Elizabeth Tillman James is a Harvard wife.
Mary Ann Connelly James is a Harvard wife.
Catherine Barber James is a Harvard wife.
Alice Gibbens James is a Harvard wife.
Dorothy Pilley Richards is a Harvard wife.
Adrienne Rich is a Harvard wife.
Susan Sontag is a Harvard wife.
Masako Owada is a Harvard wife.
Mary Magdalene is a Harvard wife.
Homi Bhabha is a Harvard wife.
II Small talk
“When did you return from ________?”
“I know the greatest little restaurant in ________.”
“Are ________ and ________ in school now?”
“Do you speak ________ and ________ with them at home?”
“What is ________’s latest research about?”
“You know, I’ve always been interested in Byzantine ________.”
“I saw his essay in the ________ Review of Books.”
“What do you think of what’s happening in ________?”
“This reminds me of something I read in The ________ last week.”
“Well, ________ Krugman thinks that ________ is not going to last much longer.”
“So, are you still ________ these days? Do ________ get some ________ to
“________, I know, I probably drink ________ glasses a night.”
“Will you excuse ________ while my eyes ________ over, and I write this ________
in my head?”
“Does your ________ keep his ________ open during office hours?”
“Is it true you were his ________ student and broke up his ________ marriage?”
“Do you ever ________ which of the three ________ scholars you’d fuck, ________
“Are you ________ yourself under the ________ to remind yourself ________ are
other kinds of pain?
“Is it really ________ you have a ________ degree from ________?”
“Is it true you haven’t left your ________ in ________ days?”
“Do you find ________ reciting ________ in Old ________ when he put his
________ into your ________?”
“________ ________ ever ________ ________ ________ a plumber?”
IV Would you like more wine?
Botanic Gardens Children’s Center – $2642/mth
Harvard Yard Child Care Center – $2340/mth + parent class time 2hrs/wk
Oxford Street Daycare Cooperative – $2146/mth + parent class time 2hrs/wk
Peabody Terrace Children’s Center – $2629/mth
Radcliffe Child Care Centers, Inc. – $2678/mth
Soldiers Field Park Children’s Center – $2678/mth
Average listing price for houses in Cambridge, MA – $1,124,147
Average price per sq. ft. – $553
Average mortgage payment in MA – $1204/mth
Average apartment rent (cost per bedroom) – $1,314/mth
A week of groceries from the Fresh Pond Whole Foods – $379.68
A week of groceries in Chad, as seen in Time Magazine – $1.23
An issue of Time Magazine at the Fresh Pond Whole Foods – $5.00
As part of your relocation benefits, The Board and Trustees of Harvard University will provide a low-interest loan for your new Cambridge home’s mortgage. The University also will take 50-percent of the house’s appreciation when/should you sell it. And should you transpire before your mortgage has been paid fully, The University will become the primary beneficiary of your life insurance.
We’re so glad you’re here. Please sign here:
Mia You was born in South Korea, raised in the United States, and currently lives in the Netherlands. She is the author of I, Too, Dislike It (1913 Press, 2016) and Objective Practice (Achiote Press, 2007).