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Women crave french fries and freedom. They resolve problems on Capitol Hill and raise kids, spearhead research and climb mountains. Women get fed up, fight for their principles, fall in love. Women contain multitudes; their stories cannot be adequately told in a few thousand words.

We tried anyway.

In honor of International Women’s Day on March 8, The Lily asked several of our readers to complete a questionnaire about their lives. We often hear about high-profile or historic women on and around this holiday. Their accomplishments are meaningful, but we wanted to highlight everyday women whose triumphs, trials and insights often go unseen.

One reader is fuming about homophobia. Another met her husband on a train platform in Japan. Multiple women, if required to eat at a chain restaurant for the rest of their days, would choose P.F. Chang’s or the Cheesecake Factory.

Read the hopes, frustrations, memories and favorite movie scenes of eight women in the responses below.

The women’s words have been lightly edited for length and clarity.

What’s one thing you’re really angry about? Why?

My inability to find a job despite years of journalism experience and additional training in other fields. I’m angry about this because I’ve had to rely on friends for financial assistance.

If you had to eat at one national chain restaurant every day for the rest of your life, which would you choose and why?

Panera, followed by Wendy’s. A woman needs fries now and then.

What’s your favorite thing about your body?

My brain. It contains wonders.

Who do you most look forward to talking to at the end of each day, and how did you meet that person?

Most of my friends are distant, so I text with a couple of close friends from school most days. I try to email other folks at least once a month.

You were just elected president. What’s the first thing you do?

Health care for all. I’m too young for Medicare.

It’s 8 p.m. on a Saturday. Where can you be found?

Binging streaming TV, especially “Letterkenny” on Hulu.

When were you the happiest in your life? Why is that?

When I was living in Houston. I worked for a lively, underdog daily newspaper, the Houston Post (RIP). I was a music critic in Texas, which is very close to being in heaven on earth.

If you had to describe yourself in three adjectives, what would they be?

Intelligent. Crazy. Challenging.

What’s one of the most fulfilling things you’ve ever done?

Helped out at my mom’s church during the 1971 National Moratorium to end the Vietnam War.

When you die, how do you want people to remember you?

As a funny person who finally stopped borrowing money from her friends.

Originally born and raised in the Midwest, I came to Washington, D.C., for an internship at an organization that ended up being a scam. After a couple of years working at a trade association, I wanted to live in a foreign country, so I moved to Germany. Later, I returned to Washington, where I worked for a nonprofit and then on Capitol Hill. In 2011, my now-husband proposed, and I left Capitol Hill soon after we married.

What’s one thing you’re really angry about? Why?

It’s 2019, yet there are still numerous news stories and viral videos that demonstrate this country is very much rooted in hatred. What makes me really angry is when a person who commits casual bigotry sincerely believes that because he or she has genuine and honest intentions, his or her words or actions can’t ever be hateful. You see this sentiment all the time in apologies, explanations or claims that words were taken out of context or misunderstood.

If you had to eat at one national chain restaurant every day for the rest of your life, which would you choose and why?

Although some of it isn’t authentic Asian cuisine, I would definitely eat at P.F. Chang’s every day for the rest of my life. It’s one of the rare restaurants my husband and I can enjoy together, and it has enough healthy options.

What’s your favorite thing about your body?

My favorite thing about my body is my face. I have really big eyes and thick eyebrows, and I frequently use my facial features to communicate my feelings — good, bad and everything in between. Although I have been criticized for displaying negative facial expressions, I want to convey all my thoughts without always having to open my mouth. I don’t want my face to betray my message; I want my face to be part of that message.

Who do you most look forward to talking to at the end of each day, and how did you meet that person?

My answer will be quite the cliché, but it’s true: my husband. I originally met Andy in 2008 in Kyoto, Japan. We were waiting out a rainstorm at the main train station, and he struck up a conversation with me. Andy can speak and write a little Japanese. We spent the next 36 hours together, and I was finally able to order food I didn’t have to point to. After we returned to the United States, we stayed in contact for the next five years. Although I was 30 when I met him, Andy was the first man I dated who was straightforward about what he wanted; he was just as invested in the relationship as I was. I’d never been with someone like that. The whole relationship felt grown up, and I can confidently say he’s the first man I ever loved. In 2013, we got married, and I had our son in 2016. Kyoto has a population of over 1 million people, so I like to think our chances of meeting were literally one in a million.

You were just elected president. What’s the first thing you do?

As a white woman in America, my privilege can shield and blind me from destructive problems minorities and minority women exclusively face. I would turn to those who face those problems on the front lines every day.

During my first year, I would assemble six workgroups to examine the following areas: women’s issues, the criminal justice system, health care, immigration, education and housing. Members would only include minorities and women, and they would be paid. I would give each workgroup one year to define five major problems and develop policy and legislative solutions to each. For the next three years, I would work to pass and implement these solutions to the best of my abilities.

It’s 8 p.m. on a Saturday. Where can you be found?

I’m writing a children’s book for my son that exclusively features noteworthy men and women of color, with the exception of one white woman from the 20th century. These individuals made significant contributions in their fields: journalism, chemistry, architecture, engineering, labor, etcetera. My son is the main character. When he “meets” these individuals, they tell him about their lives and what they’ve done. For now, my Saturday nights are spent writing, editing and fact-checking content as well as reviewing sketches from the illustrator.

When were you the happiest in your life? Why is that?

The happiest time in my life was when I was working on Capitol Hill. Working on the Hill is an environment like none other. When a constituent had a unique problem, I truly enjoyed the challenge of working with others to try to solve it. From housing to health care to tax ID numbers, I learned so much about how government works. Although it wasn’t my job, I also enjoyed giving Capitol tours and taking questions.

If you had to describe yourself in three adjectives, what would they be?

Driven, intelligent, persistent.

If you could’ve changed one aspect of your childhood, what would you have altered?

I’m the youngest of four children: two boys and two girls. My parents sent my brothers to a private, all-male boarding school in England. Both of them left around age 8; I have no memories of them living at home. They came home two or three times a year. My sister and I stayed at home and attended public school. I would definitely change that aspect, not just for my benefit, but for all of us children, especially considering what we now know about how girls begin believing they’re not as good as boys around age 6 and how sexism can thrive in all-male environments.

When you die, how do you want people to remember you?

I would start by answering who I want to remember me. As for my immediate family, I’d want my husband and son to remember me as an extremely flawed but dedicated wife and mother, respectively. Although I’ve made my mistakes, I want my son to know that I always had his best interests at heart, and that I want him to forgive me for whatever pain I caused.

As for everyone else, I don’t want people to remember me as an individual. Since Homo sapiens began existing, billions of us have already come and gone. What I prefer is for people to enjoy the fruits of my accomplishments. For example, I used to mentor young women in D.C. In 20 to 30 years, when one of those women pushes for a raise or an important project or promotion, I hope that success occurs because of the possibility that my advice to “always be looking up” had an effect on her life.

I embrace the Washington, D.C.-Maryland-Virginia culture but also know I’m part of the demographic that contributes to gentrification.

If you had to eat at one national chain restaurant every day for the rest of your life, which would you choose and why?

Chuy’s. I grew up in Oklahoma and Texas and I miss Tex-Mex so much. So, finding a Chuy’s in Rockville, Md., that I can go to truly feels like a piece of home is here with me. Plus, I love queso. East Coast Tex-Mex simply isn’t the same. Sorry, y’all.

What’s your favorite thing about your body?

I love my face. I go back and forth between liking my body overall, but I feel like I have such a nice face. I feel like my face is very open and inviting, plus I have such a lovely smile.

Describe a movie scene that you’ll never forget. Why do you find it so memorable?

My favorite scene is in “If Beale Street Could Talk,” when Tish and Fonny have this moment where they are deeply looking at one another. I lose my breath every time I think about it. I’ve never seen another movie where I’ve deeply felt the love and connection between two people.

You were just elected president. What’s the first thing you do?

Forgive everyone’s student loan debt.

It’s 8 p.m. on a Saturday. Where can you be found?

Sitting in my favorite chair in my living room, watching “Love After Lockup.” Everyone must watch it. Please. It’s intoxicating.

When were you the happiest in your life? Why is that?

When I was studying abroad in Italy during spring 2015. I felt … free. Something just clicked when I was in Italy. I was finally doing something just for me, not to please anyone else. I was gaining a deeper understanding of who I am as a person, what my values and beliefs are. That was my starting point toward becoming who I am today. How cheesy is that?

If you had to describe yourself in three adjectives, what would they be?

Vibrant, introspective and honest.

If you could’ve changed one aspect of your childhood, what would you have altered?

Living in Oklahoma. Even though my childhood was pretty good, and I consider Oklahoma to be a home (of some sort), I feel like living in the Midwest hindered me in more ways than it helped. My connection with my blackness took longer to develop in small-town Oklahoma. Understanding my hair texture, my body and my skin was such a struggle for me growing up. I didn’t know who I was as a first-generation Nigerian-American child and how that identity linked to blackness in the United States.

I am the Goddess of Wine, happily living in Morro Bay, Calif., where my husband and I teach folks about wine. I spent 25 years working in human resources for various companies. I’ve worked in theater — acting, directing, producing, set and lighting design and operation — for most of my life.

What’s one thing you’re really angry about? Why?

I am angry every day that the things I worked so hard to achieve in the ’60s and ’70s are being endangered or taken away by old, rich, white men who are terrified of women and minorities. I realize that all things are cyclical, and we will eventually recover from the daily horror taking place in our government, but it’s going to take a while before we are able to regain the trust and respect of our world allies.

If you had to eat at one national chain restaurant every day for the rest of your life, which would you choose and why?

I rarely eat at chain restaurants. I can’t even think of one that I would be willing to eat at daily. Maybe a diner of some sort; Denny’s or IHOP. At least I could get a salad.

Who do you most look forward to talking to at the end of each day, and how did you meet that person?

My sweetie, the love of my life, my husband, John Dickey. We met working in theater. We were not attracted to each other for lots of reasons, but we became friends, and we worked well together — always on the same wavelength when it came to production values and quality. After working together on several shows, one of which ran for almost two years, our dear friend, co-worker and yenta encouraged us to see each other differently. It worked. We’re coming up on our 30th wedding anniversary. We’re still best friends, and there’s no one I’d rather be with every day.

Describe a movie scene that you’ll never forget. Why do you find it so memorable?

In “The American President,” the president’s closest aides are trying to convince him to respond to attacks from Bob Rumson, who is lying about the president, his girlfriend and pretty much everything else. The chief of staff pushes back, saying, “The president doesn’t answer to you, Lewis.” Lewis replies, “Oh, yes he does, A.J. I’m a citizen, this is my president. And in this country, it is not only permissible to question our leaders, it’s our responsibility.” It sums up everything I feel about who we should be in our daily lives — private and public.

It’s 8 p.m. on a Saturday. Where can you be found?

These days, Saturday nights are spent either sitting at the bar at the Morro Bay Wine Seller, sipping on something delicious and listening to great live music, or on the couch, feet up, after working all day at a local winery.

When were you the happiest in your life? Why is that?

Right now. Every day, I open the blinds, I look at the beautiful Morro Rock, listen to the ocean roar and think about the amazing, fun life we’re living. It was a big risk to leave Los Angeles, and at the rate the country is devolving, I don’t know if we’ll have enough money to last for the rest of our lives, but we’re surrounded by a warm and loving community — who would probably let us couch surf. For the first time in my life, I am actually happy every day. Not all day. But every day.

If you had to describe yourself in three adjectives, what would they be?

Smart, funny, pragmatic.

When you die, how do you want people to remember you?

With a smile. And a glass of champagne.

What’s one thing you’re really angry about? Why?

I am currently really angry about the lack of appropriate seriousness around education related to sexual assault. Just recently in my women’s and gender studies senior capstone seminar, the students were telling me how other students laugh during the Title IX training and survivors feel that their issue is not taken seriously. In general, I am often angry about how little respect we give to survivors of sexual trauma, particularly female survivors. Many boys who were molested by priests are taken seriously by the public when they report their abuse years after it happened, but female survivors are questioned at every turn, whether the assault took place five minutes or 50 years ago.

If you had to eat at one national chain restaurant every day for the rest of your life, which would you choose and why?

I know it got a bad rap in the past few years, but I would choose Chipotle. Their food is delicious and fresh, and the options are numerous. Several friends and I used to have a weekly dinner there in grad school, so it has become comfort food associated with good memories for me. In addition, when I was pregnant last year I developed gestational diabetes, and Chipotle was one of the few places I could eat out and get good glucose level readings. I even bought a maternity shirt that reads, “My baby loves tacos.”

What’s your favorite thing about your body?

My favorite thing about my body right now is my breasts because they help to feed my baby, and the journey to do so has not been easy. My child had a tongue and lip tie and could not latch. It also took more than seven days for my milk to come in, so I started pumping my milk to feed her. We have had to use a combination of my milk and formula. It has been an exhausting and heartbreaking journey, but there has also been a sense of pride that my baby is growing strong and intelligent because of my hard work.

Who do you most look forward to talking to at the end of each day, and how did you meet that person?

My husband, hands down. We met when we were both RAs in college. When we first met, I thought he was cute and funny, but then I found out he was dating a friend of mine, so I backed off. Flash forward a year and a half later, and the two of them had broken up. Since all three of us were friends, we started having weekly dinners together, and she kept backing out. Neither my husband or I realized it at the time, but she was setting us up.

It’s 8 p.m. on a Saturday. Where can you be found?

At home. My husband is putting the baby to bed as part of their evening routine together. I am downstairs either pumping, doing dishes or taking a break to read a novel.

When were you the happiest in your life? Why is that?

I think it’s now. And that is amazing to be able to say, because I have been in treatment for postpartum depression and anxiety. But I have the joy of hanging out with my baby each morning and evening, and I was able to return to work in January after my maternity leave. I feel that being a professor is not just my job, it’s my calling, so returning to that role is so meaningful for me.

If you had to describe yourself in three adjectives, what would they be?

Dedicated, caring, perfectionistic.

If you could’ve changed one aspect of your childhood, what would you have altered?

I was very hard on myself if everything wasn’t done perfectly. I would have been much kinder to myself.

What’s one of the most fulfilling things you’ve ever done?

Receiving my PhD in clinical psychology. It was such a hard road to walk — six years of coursework, research and clinical training.

When you die, how do you want people to remember you?

As someone who worked her butt off and did the best she could for others.

I am a Philadelphia native, and although I’ve been in Florida for over 15 years, I don’t think I will ever call this state my home. My wife, a native Floridian, and I have been together for 10 years and are in the process of doing in vitro fertilization.

If you had to eat at one national chain restaurant every day for the rest of your life, which would you choose and why?

The Cheesecake Factory. While I have probably only eaten there a dozen times in my entire life, the menu is so massive I am confident I would not run out of food options.

What’s your favorite thing about your body?

My feet are my favorite body part. Not only do I find them aesthetically pleasing, they take me where I need to go. I love to walk, and my feet allow me the ability to walk and clear my head. I also practice yoga and the strength of my feet keeps me still and strong. Plus, as someone who has always been overweight, the fact that my feet are “narrow” makes me laugh.

Who do you most look forward to talking to at the end of each day, and how did you meet that person?

My wife, Abby. We initially met at a dive bar that had a monthly lesbian rock/folk band playing. We were briefly introduced but I was with another woman at the time, so my memories of our initial introduction are hazy. A month or so later, she noticed via MySpace that I was single and she messaged me. We chatted for a few days — the last thing I ever did on MySpace. Two months later, Abby and I met up at the same venue and had our first date the following night. We’ve been more or less together ever since.

Describe a movie scene that you’ll never forget. Why do you find it so memorable?

My favorite movie ever is “The Little Mermaid,” and my favorite scene is when Ariel is singing “Part of Your World” in her cavern full of neat stuff. Her longing for a world unknown spoke to me as a child. Despite now knowing the politics and sexism of Disney, the scene still speaks to me.

You were just elected president. What’s the first thing you do?

Declare a national emergency for reproductive health and (1) raise the minimum wage to a livable wage; (2) reopen and fully fund every women’s health clinic nationwide; (3) make abortion, birth control and all other forms of reproductive health legal and accessible; (4) provide six weeks of paid parental leave; and (5) create affordable and reliable child care.

When were you the happiest in your life? Why is that?

My wedding day was truly the happiest day of my life. Marriage equality had just passed, and even though our wedding was already planned, the confirmation of our union was empowering. My brother, an attorney, married us, and my sister and my wife’s sister stood alongside us. We played Randy Travis’s “Deeper Than the Holler” as we walked down the aisle. We greeted our guests with champagne and oysters. We served delicious Southern barbecue to a group of mostly Yankees. We danced all night and were lifted up on chairs during the hora, as is typical at Jewish weddings. The entire night, I smiled. I’ve never felt so in love and surrounded by love.

If you had to describe yourself in three adjectives, what would they be?

Hardworking, kind and honest.

If you could’ve changed one aspect of your childhood, what would you have altered?

My father was a dentist, and I was a rebellious middle child. In that rebellion, I thought not brushing my teeth was a great idea. As a result, I have a ton of fillings, have had three root canals, and every time I get my teeth cleaned, I fear another cavity. If I could change one thing, I would go back and practice better oral hygiene.

I recently returned from a year working as a freelance writer while traveling around Australia, New Zealand and Asia. Currently, I am working on promoting remarkable women in New York City through my site, Empire Coven.

What’s one thing you’re really angry about? Why?

I am angry about the fact that anytime I walk down the street it’s possible, and common, for me to be demeaned and catcalled. I’m angry that as a woman I have to be aware of where I go, when and who’s around, while so many men never think twice about this.

If you had to eat at one national chain restaurant every day for the rest of your life, which would you choose and why?

Does P.F. Chang’s count? Their gluten-free menu is extensive and delicious. Plus, they have great lunch specials. If I’m eating this every day, it’s good to save a few bucks.

What’s your favorite thing about your body?

My favorite thing about my body is its ability to remember all my dreams. Externally, my lips.

Who do you most look forward to talking to at the end of each day, and how did you meet that person?

My friend Cassie, because she somehow finds a way to help me deal with anything I’m going through. She was my assigned suitemate for my freshman year of college.

Describe a movie scene that you’ll never forget. Why do you find it so memorable?

The scene in “The Princess Bride” where Buttercup pushes Westley down a huge hill. With three simple words, she realizes exactly who she is, and then, not knowing what to do, rolls herself down the hill to be with him. It’s absurd but also a great representation of the lengths we’ll go to be with the one we love.

It’s 8 p.m. on a Saturday. Where can you be found?

Either at dinner with friends or with my dog reading a book. Most likely the latter.

When were you the happiest in your life? Why is that?

Standing on top of Mount Wellington in Tasmania, Australia. I had just left six weeks of unhappiness in Sydney, and for the first time since I got to Australia, I finally felt like I had made the right decision to move there. I felt like I was free.

If you had to describe yourself in three adjectives, what would they be?

Motivated, creative and inquisitive.

What’s one of the most fulfilling things you’ve ever done?

Fall in love with myself while traveling alone on the other side of the world.

As a humanitarian photographer, I have documented the lack of access to clean water in the slums of Haiti, photographed men in maximum-security prisons who found redemption through education and followed a ballet dancer-turned-U.S. Marine around for the day.In 2012, I founded KIOO Project, an NGO that challenges gender dynamics in economically disadvantaged communities in the United States and abroad by teaching photography to girls, who then teach boys.

What’s one thing you’re really angry about? Why?

I’m actually trying to let go of my anger over what’s happening politically in this country. While the kind of anger that inspires action is healthy and constructive, the gulf between left and right just feels divisive, because the goal is to create an us-versus-them trap. I’m tired of vilifying the other side. I want the conversation to be about understanding others’ viewpoints while holding onto our own values. It’s the only way we’ll move forward together. Otherwise, we will all just sit in this muck for generations.

What’s your favorite thing about your body?

My hands. I am a carbon copy of my mother, even down to my hands. My mother is so youthful that her hands don’t look 30 years older than mine, even though they are. Seeing my hands reminds me of the special connection I have with my mother, the most beautiful woman I know — both inside and out.

Who do you most look forward to talking to at the end of each day, and how did you meet that person?

I talk to my mother every night. She is the one I turn to when I have exciting news to share, when I’m struggling, when I’m sad, when I have nothing to say. She knows me the best. Probably because we met before I was even born.

You were just elected president. What’s the first thing you do?

Check the Constitution for typos. I’m not a naturally born citizen of the United States and therefore not eligible to be its first female president.

When were you the happiest in your life? Why is that?

When my nephew was 1, I was lying on my stomach, making sure he didn’t wander down the stairs as he explored the banister at my sister’s home. I started dolphin kicking my legs to make him laugh. He started giggling so hard he could barely breathe. He walked up to me, wrapped his two little arms around my head and hugged it tight. I couldn’t believe I could bring such joy to someone I love by doing so little.

If you had to describe yourself in three adjectives, what would they be?

Spicy, just the right amount of nutty, and fearless.

What’s one of the most fulfilling things you’ve ever done?

Starting a nonprofit. It is hard work, a daily grind that challenges and frustrates me. If I knew how much work it would take, I never would have started it.

Witnessing the moment when a girl discovers that she’s beautiful through the lens of a camera gives me chills. That will shape not only the rest of her life, but her future daughters’ lives as well. And there’s pure magic in those moments.

Editor’s note: Blessing Nyong Ikpa’s responses have been updated.

Today, learn the name of at least one influential woman you’ve never heard of. Here are 31 options.

We’re looking back at women who influenced historical moments

Seven of history’s greatest women-led protests

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