Sunday, April 12, 2015

Reading Crazy

It's Sunday night, and I'm holed up grading papers while my husband watches TV and my books languish on my night stand.  Of course after over two weeks of prednisone, it's probably safer for everyone concerned that I be kept under lock and key.  I was so keyed up yesterday that the smallest annoyance took on epic proportions, and sitting still and following an hour-long television program was impossible.  The good news is that today was the last of that hateful drug, and so tomorrow I should begin to come back down from my steroid mania.  I'm certain everyone in this house will be glad to see the back of Crazy Sarah.

It's going to be another hectic week, full of appointments and classes and general life maintenance.  Here's hoping that I don't crash from prednisone withdrawal as I have in the past, or the week could get a whole lot trickier.  After all the chaos from my illness, I'm constantly feeling a step or three behind, and I realized late Friday afternoon that I double-booked myself for tomorrow morning (doctor's appointment and Kiddo's preschool field trip.)  So now, I'm crossing my fingers that the rain nixes the field trip (they have an alternate date -- I'm not that terrible), so I can make it to my appointment.  Meanwhile, I feel more like a flake than I have since I was pregnant.  I'm still not sure what happened to that organized, no-nonsense, never procrastinating woman who used to live here.  I miss that chick sometimes.  Okay, all the time.

While I haven't been able to watch anything on tv more complicated than episodes of Bob's Burgers (which is AWESOME, by the way), I can, for some reason, read like a fiend while in the midst of my prednisone insanity.  It's so weird because you'd think that would be harder to do than watching television when your brain is on fast forward.  Nevertheless, I've been powering through my TBR list like a boss.  Recently finished:

The Buried Giant, Kazuo Ishiguro.  Not quite the fantasy revelation I'd seen in reviews, but okay.

The Paying Guests, Sarah Waters.  This made so many lists in 2014, but basically it was just a happy-ending lesbian love story/implausible crime novel -- and not that great of one at that.  it was kind of like if Jodi Picoult were British and wrote historical fiction.

Yes, Please, Amy Poehler.  This was entertaining.  If you like Tina Fey's Bossypants, you'll love this too.  The structure is pretty random, and I wasn't personally interested in most of the Parks and Rec stuff, but overall it was a good read.  Also, she and Fey are the only two memoir writers I've read who were like, "Hey, our parents were so great and supportive and wonderful."  It was kind of refreshing.

Currently in-progress:

All the Light We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr.  I'm only a few pages into this.  I tried to start it over a week ago, and then library books came in that needed to be read, so now I'm starting over.  But I like it so far -- even if it does have these little mini-chapters that I'm not completely sold on yet.

Searching for Sunday, Rachel Held Evans.  This one isn't even supposed to be out till Tuesday, but apparently Barnes & Noble stores across the country started shelving it on Friday night, so I swooped in and snagged a copy.  So so good thus far.  Beautiful writing about faith and doubt.  Plus I get to be one of the cook kids and read it before everybody else.

Next up in the queue are some used book store finds that are about as dissimilar as you can get:

Wild, Cheryl Strayed.  I've been listening to her Dear Sugar podcast.

Lady Chatterley's Lover, D.H. Lawrence. Because I've never read it.

House of Sand and Fog, Andre Dubus III.  It was $2.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

So Over It (or Everyone Should Just Shut Up and Eat Their Own Burger)

This is me being so over talking about women's bodies.  About my body.  This is me begging you to wear whatever it is you want to wear without worrying about sagging skin or cellulite or knobby knees.  This is me after a harrowing weekend of clothes shopping (one of my least favorite things ever) and that fresh hell they call the ladies' fitting room.  After two years of nearly constant sickness and a year of significant weight loss, this is me being over the way almost-strangers feel entitled to pass judgment on other women's health, weight, eating habits, or medical treatments.  Right now, I am closing the curtains, shutting the door, locking it down.  I can't change others, but I can make sure that I never again make those kinds of statements or judgments.

It starts nearly at birth.  Of course, I don't remember those days, but I have a little girl now.  I've seen it in action.  The comments about her appearance above all else, her "prettiness."  I know I've done it myself to others.  To her.  I find myself looking at her and thinking, "I hope she doesn't inherit my pancake butt" or "I'm so glad she got her daddy's nose."  And then I catch myself and feel a little sick. This is a child who was reading at age four, who never meets a stranger, who has the biggest heart.  So what does it matter if she has two heads and a prehensile tail?

Except it does.  It matters when you start school and your body isn't shaped exactly like the majority of the other little girls.  It matters when clothes aren't made or marketed for petite/tall/skinny/fat girls or women, and you're left facing that fluorescent-lit dressing room mirror in ill-fitting clothes that make you feel isolated and different and not at all like the happy-looking women plastered all over the shop walls.  It matters when puberty hits and you're the only one who gains fifty pounds or still looks like a nine-year old.  Girls get labeled "late bloomers" or "very developed." Boys get called, uh, wait a minute.  They don't get labeled anything.

If only it were a matter of getting through childhood and adolescence, it might be manageable.  But it doesn't get better.  Finish college -- hell, be the valedictorian -- what's the next question? When are you getting married?  And this from people who don't know your telephone number or your taste in movies.  When are you "starting a family"? (Because you can't call two people a family, apparently.) When are you having another?  You're too thin.  You look anorexic.  You should eat more.  You're doing too much.  STOP!

I am married to kind, loving, attractive man.  We are the same age, have similar levels of education, similar temperaments, etc.  I have never once heard him debate a piece of clothing because he didn't like a certain part of his body.  Nobody cares what he eats.  No relative strangers ever suggest that any of his problems might be a result of his own ignorance, neglect, or inability to care for himself.  Doctors and other professionals never treat him like he's hysterical or over-wrought.  In fact, most doctors and the like are the same gender as he, so he isn't some mysterious other to them.  People don't suggest that he should do less before he wrecks his health. When we were expecting our daughter, no one felt entitled to touch him or ask personal questions and offer comments about our chosen delivery method or feeding choices.

So what does all this rambling rage have to do with anything?  Simply this.  It doesn't matter to me what your "body-type" is.  I couldn't care less if you are a vegetarian, a paleo devotee, or die-hard burger aficionado.  I don't care what you choose to wear.  If it makes you feel strong and confident, you should be able to wear it.  Whatever it is.  Regardless of whether or not you have breasts and hips.  I want you to be in charge of your own health and well-being, communicating with your doctors and ignoring the incessant babble of pseudo-medical advice that is constantly on offer from every talk-show-watching, internet browsing, random person you meet.  Make retailers offer women's clothes that are sized by actual measurements, not arbitrary number sizes meant to inflate the egos of upper-middle class women facing the middle age spread.  Refuse to answer probing questions about your relationship status or procreative plans.  Praise your little girls for their brains, their kindness, their ability to climb or dance.  But most of all, just stop talking about weight, about most hated body parts, about genetic "flaws."  Stop analyzing the bodies of celebrity women, or even women who pass you in the street.  There are so many more interesting (and important) things out there to discuss.  This little rant is for me too.  I'm just as guilty as everyone else of obsessing about my appearance and making mindless comments to others.  So, here's what I'm going to try.  If I wouldn't say it to (or about) a man (or a boy), I shouldn't say it.

And also, the next person who tells me to eat something, is getting force-fed my copy of The Feminine Mystique.