Sunday, September 23, 2018

On pressure, perfection, and the sharing of stories

I've been reading lots of nonfiction, and after a run of memoirs about giving birth, my main reaction is: Holy cow, are women staggering under the burden of high expectations in that department.

Society has always loved to judge mothers--for being too strict or not strict enough, for working outside the home or inside it, for holding their babies too much or not enough. But I have found expectations building up around pregnancy and birth and breastfeeding, have read heartbreaking stories of women turning themselves inside out to try to have the perfect pregnancy, the perfect natural birth, the perfect breastfeeding experience. And then to try to recover their pre-pregnancy bodies as quickly as possible.

Giving birth is a huge, life-changing experience. As with any other experience so profound (in both the physical and emotional sense), I would say: It's okay to get through it however you can. To accept help, support, medication, technology. To acknowledge that impossible standards are bad for us. I'm glad women are talking and thinking and writing about these issues.One of the biggest reasons I read memoir is for that sense of connection with people, that commentary on the world we all share.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Some positive thing

I had lunch with a friend earlier this week, and we talked about how difficult it is to make a difference in the world, how easy it is to give up in frustration. And yet we agreed we'd rather do something than nothing, even if it's only to be one small drop in an ocean.

Today I came across this passage:

"... we must simply do something ourselves, whatever we can, instead of being so overwhelmed by the bad news everywhere that we become passive. Act now to wrest some positive thing out of the chaos."
--May Sarton, At Eighty-Two

Sarton's words were written in 1993, but they seem evergreen.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Because sometimes you just need a chuckle

Reporter, by Seymour Hersh, is a mostly serious look at the role of journalists, the years when Vietnam and Watergate dominated the news, the tension that has always existed between the powerful and those who write about them, the importance of questioning authority, and the fact that cover-ups and lies by the powerful have been around for decades. 

But there are humorous moments:
"As we got settled [around the pool], I saw a young woman reading my book [about Henry Kissinger] while sunbathing. Thirty minutes later she was fast asleep, with the opened book shielding her face from the sun."

Ah, the glamorous life of a writer!