How had I never heard of this before??? Why were you all keeping this book a secret from me??? This book is so fantastic. There are so many things I wHow had I never heard of this before??? Why were you all keeping this book a secret from me??? This book is so fantastic. There are so many things I want to say to you about it, but mostly just read it.
I’m pretty much obsessed with Gavin de Becker after reading this book, and then Lena Dunham did an interview with him for the Lenny Letter!!! When I saw that I felt like that part in Friends where Ross realizes Monica and Chandler are together:
My heart grew three sizes, folks.
Gavin de Becker is a violence expert (how cool is that?). He grew up in a violent household, and he went on to be a consultant with the Secret Service and an advisor to celebrities being stalked or receiving threats. I need a title like “violence expert.” Maybe “gender power dynamics expert”? Too long?
This book tells you everything you need to know about protecting yourself from violence. Probably, there are more things I need to know, but this book at least gave me the resources to find them. For example, Gavin de Becker recommends women be trained in IMPACT self-defense classes, and that sounds SO FUN, but I have not done it yet, and I don’t know everything about it yet. A friend of mine in LA did it and posted part of her training on Facebook. It’s this video of her totally taking out this guy like three times her size. So incredible.
The biggest takeaways from this book for me were listen to your instincts, not the news, to decide whether you are in danger; engaging at all with stalkers or other people who raise alarms is positive reinforcement with them; and we always have a choice about whether we are going to put ourselves in danger or become violent ourselves.
Particularly the parts about stalking were so fantastic to me. De Becker refutes the one-size-fits-all take on stalking orders that most law enforcement hands out. For example, at the Circuit Court in Eugene, the “FAPA” (restraining/stalking order) docket happens every morning. Women (almost always women) come into the court and apply for restraining orders against men who are being creepy or physically threatening them. Often, they do this because they’ve called the police or sheriff’s office, and the responding officer told them that they can’t really do anything because the person hasn’t committed a crime. But, the officer tells them, if they apply for a restraining or stalking order, have it granted, and the creeper violates it, the officer can do something. So, the woman applies for a restraining or stalking order, and whether or not she has it granted, continues the cycle of contacts with the creeper.
De Becker says, and I totally agree, that this is helpful in some cases, but not all. In many cases the cycle of contacts with law enforcement and the creeper just reinforces the attachment that the creeper has. Many times, ignoring the person is much more effective in getting him to go away.
I had a woman visit me for legal advice one time, and tell me a story about an alleged sexual assault. She was fixated on having her restraining order granted and was visibly afraid about something that may happen if it were not granted. I reminded her that if someone was trespassing on her property or was threatening her, she could call the police without a restraining order. She said, “Yeah, but the police are terrible at responding.”
“Do you think they are better at responding if you have a restraining order?” I asked.
Even though my question did not put her at ease, hers was a case in which she continued to maintain contact with her alleged assaulter through the justice system. De Becker says that if a stalker calls 30 times, and on the thirtieth time, you pick up, he learns that it takes 30 calls to talk to you. For someone who is fixated, learning that it takes police contact or 30 calls is worth it. But, if you don’t respond at all, often people do not become violent and learn that it is not an option to talk to you.
It is somewhat counterintuitive advice, and it relies completely on our willingness to trust ourselves and our intuition about a situation that is physically dangerous and a situation that has not reached that level yet, but could with continued contact. We often repress our fear signals for so long that when we let them out they are absolutely screaming at us. If we listen to our fear at the outset, and calmly avoid a potential threat, we don’t escalate it. Law enforcement is always available for a physical threat, but often involving law enforcement further antagonizes someone who is already unstable. I really love the overall point that continuing to talk to someone who is fixated on you, even to tell them that you don’t want them to call anymore, does not prove you don’t want to talk to them.
There is also an entire section about how to look at our workplace fears and what they reveal about our thinking patterns and assumptions. Such fantastic reading for anyone who experiences fear on a regular basis at work.
As a people pleaser myself, I have a really hard time saying a firm “no” to anyone, and I think I should read this book at least every year to absorb its fantastic advice....more
This book is fantastic. I didn't even think my house was messy before this book. But, between my roommate and myself, we decided that we must have gotThis book is fantastic. I didn't even think my house was messy before this book. But, between my roommate and myself, we decided that we must have gotten rid of around 50 bags of stuff when we went through the book.
You probably know the basic premise by now, but I'll tell you anyway. Marie Kondo, codename KonMari, spent her entire life figuring out how to tidy. Eventually, she came upon the solution. You go through all of your stuff, hold it in your hands, and decide if it sparks joy. She tells you to go through your things by categories, also, rather than by room. It's so fun!
Here are my clothes:
Here's a bunch of my other crap:
Here's my closet after tidying:
The thing was that I had a bunch of stuff that I thought I needed on top of all the stuff I loved. So now, when I look around, all the stuff I love is there, and I actually didn't need that other stuff anyway.
One caveat is that her section on books is . . . troubling. I'm sorry to tell you that there is a whole part where she talks about mutilating her favorite books and pasting passages into folders to minimize how much space they take. Shudder. She no longer recommends that, thank god, but she does not go gently with the book section, so reader beware.
I think the most helpful part of this book is that going through the process trains you to find joy in your surroundings. I did it again today, and it was great, so I thought I would tell you all. I'm starting up my life coaching business, and I want to add some tidying to it. I'm going to try helping a law client with her tidying, to test out how it can fit into the work I already do. It's so great that I have to share!...more
I never thought this would happen to me, but while I was reading this book, I actually had a sense of nostalgia for Harold Bloom.
A woman I work withI never thought this would happen to me, but while I was reading this book, I actually had a sense of nostalgia for Harold Bloom.
A woman I work with forced this book on me with the guarantee that I would adore it. I later found out that she "hates music like the Velvet Underground." It's always people like that who are forcing book recommendations. Not that there are "people like that" who hate the Velvet Underground. I have a lot of faith that she is an isolated case.
This book pretty much hit on every single thing I ever hate about books. I know other people have said the writing was engaging, but I have to disagree. One sentence was just a list of the types of businesses that existed in London in the late 16th century. The businesses were grouped together in a way that let the author use some semi-colons, and it seemed pretty clear to me that the whole purpose of the sentence was so that he could show he knew how to use semi-colons. If that is not the case, and the editors had to put those semi-colons in, well . . . god help us all.
I think this book should be classified as historical fiction because every sentence is about how "maybe this happened" or "if . . . then Shakespeare could have thought." There is a whole chapter devoted to speculating about whether Shakespeare had a happy marriage based on the marriages in his plays. !!!! That makes me so mad!!
Here's what I would read: a book that compiles the documentary history related to Shakespeare and has a short explanation of what the document is. I would be fine with that. Speculation is so infuriating.
I was dating this guy recently, and he only used the word "film" for "movie," which drives me crazy. And then one day, he asked me if I wanted to go have a "romp in the sack," so I decided we should not go out anymore. This is the book version of the phrase "romp in the sack."
I am judging the soul of both this book and anyone who is passionate about it. As to people who feel pretty neutral about it, you are okay, I will just assume the History of Elizabethan England class you took in college was only a survey....more
I think I've read this book three times and I never remember anything about it. You gotta know your BATNA, I know, but I actually know that from the nI think I've read this book three times and I never remember anything about it. You gotta know your BATNA, I know, but I actually know that from the negotiation hornbook I helped edit.
It's like this: sometimes, when you're negotiating, it's better to walk away. Other times, it's better to take the offered compromise. How do you know which is better? If walking away is a worse alternative, then you take the compromise.
Also, sometimes you only want money in a negotiation, and other times you want to be creative.
But, they use acronyms to make it more complicated than that.
This is an important negotiation book, but I think it's kind of telling that I've read it this many times and still never remember anything about it. I think I had the same experience in college with the book Utopia by Thomas Moore....more
Resumes are possibly my least favorite thing to write or read . . . or maybe my second least favorite, after cover letters. It’s so difficult to landResumes are possibly my least favorite thing to write or read . . . or maybe my second least favorite, after cover letters. It’s so difficult to land in the right place on the scale between unqualified/disinterested and fake/braggy, so I always aim for straight accuracy. Did I do that thing? If yes, then I will include it. If it’s a stretch, I’ll probably leave it off. I have definitely swung from one side to the other as I’ve tried to navigate the spectrum of resume writing, but I feel most comfortable if I just aim for accuracy. As resumes go, Argo landed a little closer to the fake/braggy line than I like.
Ben Affleck, as you probably know, made the main story in this book into a movie recently. I haven’t seen it yet, but I imagine it was somewhat more successful than this book is. I got trapped in a room with an older lawyer the other day, and he backed me into a corner telling stories about his legal practice. Listening to this book kind of felt like that, too, except it’s an old CIA guy telling stories about doing CIA stuff. Ultimately, in the last 10% of the story, he goes to Iran and saves some Americans who were hiding out during the hostage crisis that lasted from 1979-1981. It seems like that would be more interesting than it was, just like it seems to me like an older lawyer telling stories would be more interesting than it typically is. And the thing that always kills them for me is the fishing for an ego stroke that goes along with a lot of those stories.
The stories go like this:
I was sitting in my office smoking and looking like Don Draper, but above all being very humble and never telling anyone about the amazing work I was always doing. Suddenly, my manly secretary (not manly because of her attitude, but manly because she was a spinster) came rushing into my office with a telegram. It said, ‘The world will end unless you solve the rubik’s cube.’ I recalled that Stephen Hawking worked down the hall from me, in the office next to Jesus and kitty-corner from Shakespeare. When we weren’t saving the world, we liked to taste scotch together and goof around. Jesus was always asking me for fashion advice, and couldn’t tie a tie to save his life – that rascal!
Also, at that time, they were doing construction on a new wing of our office building. It’s the wing that Batman works in now. You’ve heard of Batman, right?
So, I walk down to Stephen Hawking’s office, and I bring my rubik’s cube. I walk on the linoleum that used to be in all of the office buildings. It was a brownish color. People now are too young to remember the brownish linoleum in office buildings, but it was installed by linoleum installers. They were salt-of-the-earth men with muscles like the rolling hills of Africa.
Because Stephen Hawking and I both speak twelve languages, the only trouble in solving the rubik’s cube was what language we should speak in while we solved it. As I pointed out to him the final move we needed to make in order to solve the grand puzzle, I noticed a glint of respect in his eye at my superior intellect.
Shakespeare came to the door and said, "Let me tell you a joke: knock knock."
"Who's there?" I responded, understanding the common exchange in a "knock-knock joke."
"Fuck you!" Shakespeare yelled. And we laughed and laughed, forgetting our worries about the end of the world and enjoying the camaraderie of the moment.
Then, many women ran to me and kissed my feet, and the President of the United States asked if he could take a picture with me. I don’t like to tell this earth-shattering story because I am so humble, so you’re welcome.
Wow! You know Batman, Mr. CIA? I bet you have one million Aston Martins and just as many fleshlightsbimbos, er, 'girlfriends'!
This book is actually even more humble-braggy than that, but it sort of gives you an idea. I know a girl who can’t stop name-dropping and reciting her resume, as well as the resumes of her mother and this federal judge she knows. Like, she is in some kind of perpetual tailspin of resume reciting. And sometimes I wonder if that is a mental disease many men contract as they get older. The saddest part to me is that there are probably a lot of good stories underneath all that humble-bragging, but I can’t hear them because I am too annoyed. I mean, if you just think of reading a book about a CIA agent saving Americans during a hostage crisis, it seems like it would be a fun story. But, this wasn’t.
Mendez deserves any praise he gets, I’m sure, but I just can’t abide fishing for compliments. Ego is the easiest way to interfere with any good story, whether the ego takes the form of showy humility or bragging. Argo seemed to be some kind of extended, convoluted resume, and I think it would have been a better policy to just aim for accuracy rather than getting so caught up in the accolades Mendez deserved or didn’t deserve. Humility and arrogance both make a story about ego, rather than about the story, and ego ruined this one for me.
Also, the reader’s voice was strikingly nasal. I would say this is the second worst audio book I’ve listened to, after Three Cups of Tea....more
Oh my god, I love this book!! I love histories of women that make me freak out, and this one does that. This gives me goose bumpOH MY GOD!
oh my god.
Oh my god, I love this book!! I love histories of women that make me freak out, and this one does that. This gives me goose bumps. The descriptions of the conflict these women felt between wanting to be good girls and realizing that being a good girl means becoming a shell and disappearing are so beautiful and told so well. Povich is brilliant, and it’s clear that she has so much compassion and understanding for women who reacted very differently to the discrimination they all felt.
And look at that cover! That cover alone makes me freak out. AAAAAAAAAHHHHH. I am reduced to inarticulate babbling because of my love for this book. I love you, book! I love you and miss you! Don’t be over, book! I neeeeeed. I think this book is going to have to take out a stalking order against me.
Rather than only inarticulately freaking out, I will tell you something of what this book is about, I guess. It tells the story of the women who worked at Newsweek in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s filing class action lawsuits under the recently passed (1964) Civil Rights Act (Title VII). Mostly, though, it draws out all of this intense humanity from the internal and external conflict surrounding the women’s decision to sue and the reactions from the magazine.
It gets the sentiments from both sides so right, and it is compassionate, while still being direct. Povich starts the story with a few girls working at Newsweek in 2009 and waking up to the discrimination they were experiencing, and then it tracks back to the parallel story of the women in the ‘60s. You never want to hear a story like this told in a way that villainizes one group or another – the women or men or the advocates for racial equality, etc. – and this one so gracefully conveys nuance in the reactions from all sides. Oh my god, how is this story not well-known American folklore???
So, the women at Newsweek ultimately filed two class actions with the EEOC. Their attorneys, a pregnant Eleanor Holmes Norton, and, later, a pregnant Harriet Rabb, kicked negotiation ass. It is so painful to read men saying, “Well, we are trying to not be racist anymore. Isn’t that enough for you?” as though the main consideration of anti-discrimination efforts is to make white men better people. And it is painful to read women disappearing to accommodate society, but Povich tells both of those points of view smartly and compassionately. Of course, though, she includes Eleanor Holmes Norton responding to the men by saying, “The fact that you have two problems [race and sex discrimination] isn’t my concern.” And she also tells of the women she knew advocating for each other’s skills and abilities and truly creating a sense of sisterhood and comradery, once they dropped their mutual suspicion, that is true to my experience of women working together.
Povich is also really interesting about the interplay of race and gender for the black women working at Newsweek. Ultimately, the entire group of black women opted out of the class action because of the tension between advocacy for racial equality and gender equality. As I understand it, there has always been that pressure on black women to be loyal to race above gender, as though they are mutually exclusive. And the sense that white women are complaining about a gilded cage, while the black women experienced a dank, rat-infested torture chamber, overwhelmed any sense of identification with the white women who first thought of the lawsuit. Povich, also, though, very articulately describes Eleanor Holmes Norton’s take on race and gender advocacy, and that was absolutely brilliant to read. Oh my god, read this book.
When I first started law school, I was really surprised by a few of my women professors who were very competitive with women students in my class. I had just come from a male-dominated law firm in which women were relegated to a secretary ghetto, but most of the women in that ghetto were very supportive of each other. The more I thought about it, though, the more the competitiveness made sense to me. These women, becoming professionals in the ‘60s and ‘70s, fought tooth and nail to be where they are today. One of the professors who has been most competitive with me tells this story of how she was first in her class at law school, editor in chief of the law review, got the highest score on her bar exam, and she couldn’t find a job after she graduated because she is a woman. Women are not welcome in society. So disgusting. So, it totally makes sense to me that when society sets it up that there is room for one token woman in a company, you would turn against other women. And it is impossible for me to feel angry at a woman who experienced that kind of discrimination and successfully retained a professional status. That is incredible, and even if it has, at times, resulted in a bad experience for me, it is the discrimination, not the women, that I blame.
Every time I talk to a woman, I hear stories like those in this book. Every woman has these stories, and they are incredible. I love them. I do not, of course, love the way discrimination dehumanizes women, but I do love when it turns us into warriors and when it makes us think of the women who will come after us and hope for a better life for them.
Thank you! Thank you, Lynn Povich, for writing this book! Thank you, women, for living bold lives. Thank you for being good girls, but thank you, also, for giving up that idea for those of us who would come after you. It makes us more willing to give that idea up, too, and stop lying to ourselves about who we are and what we want. Seeing you advocate for yourselves and each other makes me feel like, I, too, can be a real human with a life and a passion. Oh, gush gush. Read this freaking book, women, if you want to hear stories of people like you! Read this freaking book, men, if you want to know about women. People, read this book!
____________ I got a copy of this book from netgalley....more
Old posts are in spoiler tags below, so you don't have to see them every time I write something new. But, don't worry, I'm not spoilering the outcomeOld posts are in spoiler tags below, so you don't have to see them every time I write something new. But, don't worry, I'm not spoilering the outcome of the book. YOU'LL NEVER GUESS WHAT HAPPENS! Okay, if you want to know: (view spoiler)[she gets skinny again (hide spoiler)].
(view spoiler)[I read this years ago on loan when I worked at Barnes and Noble, and it had just come out. It is not at all bad. A lot of it is just staple advice, like, "taste your food and don't eat food that is tasteless," or "portion control," or "don't obsess about how you look," etc. So, all good advice, and maybe deserving of its own book, but I'm not totally sure.
BUT, it has this cleanse recipe for a leek soup cleanse that I've always wanted to use, and I am going to tell you how it is after I do it. When I get super stressed out or out of my element, I get kind of scarily bloated. Or scary to me - but actually also scary to pedestrians and children, I'm pretty sure. And puppies. Not good. So, this happened to me studying for the bar exam. I ate a diet that was mostly peanut butter, hard boiled eggs, pickles, pizza, coffee and beer. Surprisingly enough, I feel like crap right now. So, it is finally time for the leek soup. I will not be providing pictures, I think, because it will look like boiled leeks and me. Use your imagination. Also, think of the puppies. No one should see pictures of me right now.
That is all I have to tell you about until after the magical leek soup experiment. It starts Saturday night.
(view spoiler)[Okay, I boiled the leeks to make the broth, and I checked all of these websites to see if it's okay to start the magic at night, or if it needs to be in the morning. It looked like morning is the better way to go, so I got everything set up. A few things to note: boiling leeks will make your house and fridge smell like boiled leeks. Also, the recipe says boil them for 20-30 minutes. At first, I went for 20, but then I thought maybe it needed a little longer, so I went for 30. I probably should have gone for a middle ground or stuck with 20 because they're a little mushy now.
Also, the recipe says to chop the ends off the leeks and cover them with water. It was confusing to me that the recipe didn't call for me to chop them until they laid flat at the bottom of the pot and cover them with water. Ultimately, I don't think this is a big deal, but I think I have too much leek broth.
Finally, a lot of the websites say women felt kind of sick after drinking the leek broth, so they gave up. On one website, there was a comment from this woman who was like, "OMG, I could NEVER do this because I MUST have my double skinny carmel macchiato with a sprinkle of cinnamon and extra foam every morning!" (paraphrase) That was annoying. But, I do have coffee every morning, so I decided to make some green tea iced tea with caffeine, and drink that. Just, you know, FYI, that will be sullying my experiment. (hide spoiler)]
Sunday, July 29, 2012:
(view spoiler)[You'll notice that I'm not following the prescription in the book to start this magic on Saturday and finish on Sunday night. Because I have all the days off right now!!! That's why! Every day is my weekend!
Okay, so I drank 1 cup of the leek broth and I ate 1/2 a cup of leek. I also am drinking a glass of my cheating green tea. Oh, I forgot to say that one of the girls who posted on a website I saw said she still drinks a cup of black coffee when she does this, but I feel like she was the same girl who said her stomach feels crappy in the morning after doing this. Hint: black coffee on a stomach full of leek broth might do that.
Anyway, the leek was, as promised, actually really yummy. I am a super grumpy morning person, and I don't like to eat things that have too much flavor or odor in the morning, so when I opened the fridge and smelled the leek smell, I'mma be honest, I was not excited. But, then, I . . . sauteed the leek? It says to drizzle it in some olive oil and lemon juice or salt and pepper, so instead I put some olive oil in a skillet and heated the leek up that way and then put a little salt on it. I feel like the word "saute" says to me that I mixed it around in a skillet in oil, but that is not really what I did. It was more like a slab of leek that I browned on each side. So, anyway, it was really good. Now, I am sitting and writing this. I don't feel nauseous, but I am sort of lounging on my couch, which is usually an easy cure for feeling nauseous, so I'm not sure if I'm really giving it the chance I should give it to make me nauseous.
I will say that it did not give me a burst of energy. I wasn't expecting one, but I think that's why it's a good idea to do this when you can set aside some time where you're not running a marathon or spending a long day acting in a network television show, or whatever you normally do that would be draining. (hide spoiler)]
Monday, July 30, 2012:
Friends, there is a happy ending to this tale of leeks. I was pretty good all day yesterday, and I drank my leek broth as prescribed, and ate my little leek patties when I was hungry. And, I'll tell you, they were actually good - both the broth and the leeks themselves. But, here's the thing, the boiled leeks stink to high heaven. So stinky! Once you actually get them cooked, they smell really good, but until then, double yuck and a sprinkle of yucky yuck. Plus gag.
Anyway, I started feeling a little funny and light headed last night, and I was going out to my favorite sushi place with one of my best friends from law school who is leaving FOREVER on Tuesday, so I ate some sushi. It was damn good. Because it was full of the same stuff that is part of the alternative recipe in this book for if you hate leeks, I don't think it was technically that much of a cheat, but then when I got home I realized that I couldn't open the container of stinky leeks again. I am a lightweight. So, I officially stopped the leek thing after one day, not the two commanded to me.
BUT, I actually do feel less bloated, and I could already feel that yesterday, so that was really nice. Also, the green tea did ward off the caffeine headache, so I think that was a good solution. Overall, it ended happy because it ended with some yummy sushi, mission accomplished with the bloating solution, the stink is out of my house, and my love of leeks remains in place. Moral: I'm glad I didn't kill myself trying to do both days of the leek broth.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I am so excited about this book! It is going to teach me how to do all kinds of things to fix my car! And it is telling me all of the tools I need toI am so excited about this book! It is going to teach me how to do all kinds of things to fix my car! And it is telling me all of the tools I need to fix it! Like, I need sockets and a reversible ratchet drive. And I need some spanners - I don't know what those are, but they sound VERY exciting. AND A HACKSAW. I already changed my front headlight, so, yeah, I’m ready for business.
This is a picture of the impressive work I did on my headlight:
This book is seriously cool. You should all get books like this for your cars. Also, this one is extra cool because it appears to be British. It wants me to decide whether my model is a petrol or diesel model, and it tells me how to fix my bonnet.
Bonnets aren’t just for babies anymore! But, I am not angry about bonnets like that girl. Because my bonnet is metallic, not floral. Makes all the difference.
Also it has pictures of all of my car’s wiring. Kind of like this:
But it’s cooler in this book because the book tells you what stuff means!
I am very excited about this book! I like putting things together and taking them apart. And ratchet drives! And bonnets! But not the floral ones – the awesome mechanical ones. Yay! Go get one of these books! They are a whole new world of fun possibilities....more
My mother died the day before my first law school final. Hope Edelman says, in this book, that partway through college she had a weird urge to walk upMy mother died the day before my first law school final. Hope Edelman says, in this book, that partway through college she had a weird urge to walk up to strangers and tell them, “My mother died when I was seventeen,” because she recognized that this fact about herself, this fact that alienated her from the people around her, had become totally definitive about who she was. A girl can’t tell people that her mother died because it brings only fear and pity, it doesn’t solve anything to talk about it. But, at the same time, no one knows you without knowing that you don’t, that you didn’t, have a mother. For the past few months I have had this weird compulsion, too, to walk up to people and just say, “My mother died the day before my first law school final.”
But, what do I mean by that? It sounds like I want to be pathetic or impressive, and I don’t mean either of those things. It sounds like I conquered life that day, or like I lost all hope of being a woman. It is ambivalent and loaded. I know that even talking about reading and reviewing a book that is “self-help,” even if it is about grieving, is loaded, too. It has a pastel cover and a sentimental name, but I kind of appreciate that about the book. It looks like only the fierce of heart, those who can handle reading sentiment without shame, should attempt this book, and I think that’s good. I think I benefited from waiting to read it until I felt like I could really listen to a sentimentally titled book without sneering.
At the same time, I don’t think emotions mature themselves, so I always remind myself that I’m probably not going to get very far sitting back and waiting for mine to suddenly do so. It would be like waiting for myself to spontaneously become a stellar lawyer without ever actually going to law school or reading any books about law. Or, it would be like waiting for myself to spontaneously become a marathon runner. Not all self-help books have anything worthwhile about emotional growth to say, but neither do all legal scholars have anything worthwhile to say about the law or all personal trainers about marathons. I don’t think the gaining-skills-by-doing-nothing strategy works with almost anything, so I’m pretty enthusiastic about smart books about emotions and spirituality. I’m pretty enthusiastic about counseling, too – it’s like getting a massage for the soul.
I’m being really long winded about saying that, while I don’t think every time is the right time to read this book, I do think probably everyone would benefit from reading this book at some point. I wish I had been prepared to read it sooner. The book is directed to women, obviously, but Edelman makes the point that we, women or men, mourn rejection (in whatever form, whether death or emotional or physical abandonment) from our same-sex parent differently than we mourn rejection from our opposite-sex parent, and the book is mostly about that. Even if you have not experienced rejection from a same-sex parent, I think it would still give you perspective on what you gain from that parent that you might not even be aware of. It also might give you perspective on why (at least some of us) women who have lost our mothers act the way we do when we have not known how to mourn.
The book is arguably as sentimental as its title, even just because it is about death and emotions, but it is so smart. Edelman surveys over a hundred women who lost their mothers at various ages, and she tells their stories in an organized, clear layout. She also talks about many famous women, including Virginia Woolf, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, and Madonna, and how they have reacted to the deaths of their mothers. In addition to hearing and recounting all of these stories, Edelman obviously did some pretty serious research into other studies about women and grief, and about family relationships in general.
For me, much of this book was practically a miracle. If you don’t mind my spoiling what the biggest revelation of the book was for me, I will tell you about it right now. I will not say it as clearly as Edelman, though, so you should still get her take on it, and it’s probably only a small part of the book, even though it was life changing to me. It is that when a mother rejects a daughter, whether she does it intentionally or unintentionally, such as through illness and death, the daughter starts to look for the mother relationship in all of her relationships. One woman in the book described it as a “cocoon,” another described it as “that family feeling,” which is something I have said, at least in my head, a lot. The daughter starts to think that any successful relationship ultimately has that particular form of intimacy – that the intimacy from a mother is successful intimacy.
I literally thought this. I had no idea that, ultimately, all intimacy, all sense of family, isn’t necessarily that feeling of a little daughter with her mother. I had always thought that because my relationships, whether friendships or romances, are not like that, it was like “people, iz doin it rong,” and that once I figured out how to do it right, my relationships would feel like that. I have been jealous of my friends, men or women, who have families (read: friends who have mothers) and their ability to do relationships right, shown just by the fact that they have a mother. And this intensity has created a completely unfair expectation for all of my relationships because then every time I experience rejection, it is the loss of my mom, the loss of my family, all over again. It means that friends living their own lives, not focused on me one hundred percent of the time, translated to rejection, and not just rejection, but also the death of my relationship with my mother all over again. It was basically a miracle to hear that I could treat the loss of that nurturing, cocoon relationship, that mother-child relationship, as a total loss, and not let that loss pile on to every other lost relationship I ever have. It sounds weird, but it is a relief to know it is not failure that no friend ever turns out to be my mom.
*facepalm* I totally love this book.
So, that concludes the review portion of your time, and the rest of this shall be a story with no real reviewing purposes in mind. It is more my experience of being a motherless daughter than a critique of the book. Even though my personal story, like anyone's personal story, is not the same as most other people's, it was really incredible to hear how similar my reaction to losing my mother is to the reactions of other women who lost theirs.
My mom died of Lou Gehrig’s disease, but as far as I am concerned, I lost my mom about twenty years before she actually died. I was six when my family first started listening to meditation tapes from the Foundation of Human Understanding, and when I was eight, we moved to Selma, Oregon, to join what we would later refer to as “The Cult.” Really, most of the diets or clubs or churches my parents joined ended up taking on a cultish quality once my parents got mixed up with them. First, that diet/club/church was the only thing that could save us from certain doom; later, it was evil. The Foundation is basically a Judeo-Christian group that teaches men how to stand up to the domineering women around them. It teaches them how to take the world back from the invidious control of women, and it teaches women how to overcome their natural tendencies toward evil (ya know, Eve, and all that).
This is my recollection of The Cult. If you look on the website, it mostly looks like stuff you’d get out of The Secret, but if you read through the call show questions, there is some stuff about bullying women that is more what I remember. I can’t find it now, but there was this cartoon in their magazine once, which to me symbolized the teachings. The first panel was a tiny woman and a big, strong man. As the panels (maybe six or eight panels) went along, the woman got bigger and stronger, and the man got smaller, until, at the end it was a huge, ugly woman sitting next to a coffin. Anyway, my mom and dad realized that my mom was the source of all evil in our family, and that if my brother and I were to grow up right, we would have to overcome the feminine influences in our lives.
My mom wasn’t allowed to touch us any more around the time that I turned seven. My brother had been nursing, and my mom cut him off from nursing without any weaning process. If I ran to my parents’ room because I had a nightmare, my mom had to put a pillow between herself and me so that she wouldn’t transmit her evil. I was a daddy’s little girl, so I understood that as long as I stayed that way, didn’t touch my mom, married young (it was understood that this would probably be to the cult leader’s grandson), and devoted my life to my children, I would avoid the pit of feminine evil to which I was otherwise susceptible. Years later, when a friend of mine went home early from a sleepover weekend because, she said, my parents never hugged us, my parents realized that still none of us touched each other ever, but it is difficult to change habits.
I am extra-sensitive to anti-feminist propaganda, I know, because of this upbringing. My mom continued to believe for the rest of her life that it was her job to repress any part of her personality that might conflict with my dad, the head of our household. But, I continued to look to my mom for the relationship I had with her when I was very young. I always hoped she would wake up and come back to me, until I realized a few years before she died, during her eight-year-long dying process, that she never would. I set some boundaries about what I could contribute to our relationship, and because my mom couldn’t contribute anything, we lost the façade that our relationship had been. At that time, a friend reprimanded me, saying that she cherished that special mother-child bond with her own kids, and I would regret not maintaining that before my mom died. I thought a lot about that later, and my inability to maintain that connection with my mom haunted me, even though I can’t say I regretted setting the boundaries I did.
From the time I was little and my mom emotionally vacated the family, I got so used to looking for that relationship from her that I also started looking to everyone for it. I thought it was intimacy. Motherless Daughters talks about how people often call motherless women “adoptable,” and this has been true for me. Many families have adopted me, and I love all of them, but I have always thought that I haven’t been able to re-create that specific form of intimacy because of my own emptiness and awkwardness. I knew I loved these people, but I thought it was not the right kind of connection. And, then, when they had to do normal things for their normal lives, which I completely want them to do, it was a betrayal to me that was its own, plus the loss of my mom. When friends would move away, or start a new relationship and get busy, it was a betrayal with emotional intensity far beyond what I actually expected from the relationship. This was true for both friends and romances, both women and men in my life.
So, I’m not totally sure how this mourning thing works, but Edelman says that for her it is like a companion – not in a morbid sense, but in the sense that she continues to be without her mother. I think it’s reassuring to know that when I feel disproportionately intense about some kind of failure or rejection, it could be part of mourning: I could need to step back and re-adjust myself to the losses I’ve had so they don’t get confused with the relationships I am having. I could need to recognize that not every action a dear friend takes for him or herself is a sign that I am a burden to that person and they secretly wish they could reject me. I’m not sure why, but recognizing this about my relationship with my mom makes it easier to accept that people I really care about could care about me, too, even if they are not devastated when I am gone, and that when life pulls us apart, they could feel the loss of me as I feel the loss of them. Each new love does not have to be the sum of all previous loves and rejections. No new love is what I lost from my mother....more
Maybe when a lot of people see the cover of this book, their first instinct is something like Emmett’s concerns from that conversation in the awesomeMaybe when a lot of people see the cover of this book, their first instinct is something like Emmett’s concerns from that conversation in the awesome movie that encouraged so many of us girls to go to law school, Legally Blonde:
Emmett: She seems completely untrustworthy to me. Elle: Why? Emmett: This is a person who's made her living . . . by telling women that they're too fat. Elle: Brooke would never tell a woman she was too fat. Emmett: And she seems like she's hiding something. Elle: Maybe it's not what you think. Emmett: Maybe it's exactly what I think. Elle: You're really being a butthead. Emmett: A butthead? Why would you call me that? Elle: You need to have a little more faith in people. You might be surprised. Emmett: I can't believe you called me a butthead. No one's called me that since the ninth grade. Elle: Maybe not to your face.
There is a lot of stigma against talking about the possibility of women being fat or ugly. Unless, of course, they are on TV, in which case almost all we talk about is whether they are fat or ugly, too skinny or have bad hair. Except, not fat – we instead use euphemisms, like, “She looks unhealthy,” or, “It seems like she hasn’t been eating as well as she used to,” or even, “Muffin top!” But, it’s kind of weird because I always end up feeling like treating it as terrible to suggest a woman might be fat makes it even more shameful for a woman who just factually knows she is overweight to acknowledge it.
And I do think this comes from how often we hear men say things like that douchey guy on the Bachelorette last week. What was it he said? . . . Something like, “God made you to be beautiful, so if you get fat, I might still love you, but I won’t love on you.” And when men talk about women being overweight at all, it is usually that, with no thought that anyone could ever legitimately love someone who is fat. Even though we all objectively know that people love, and love on, fat people all the time. So, it’s never just a description, just something about a person that is human and beautiful for its humanity, in those circumstances. Instead, it carries with it all this baggage of women being told since we were born that fat means unlovable. So, guys, that is why women react to things you say about our appearances – because sometimes it just sounds douchey, like the Bachelorette dude, and other times it might be fine on its own, but it is loaded with all of the douchiness of the Bachelorette dudes we have known.
Anyway, I think that the fear of naming fat also turns into a judgment about girls who talk about wanting to lose weight. I think it is common for other girls to feel like weight-loss girls have bought into the pressure on women to be vacant bodies, and so there is a tendency to feel nervous around weight-loss girls because they might reprimand you for actually inhabiting your body. But, I think there’s just a small step of vocabulary from talking about dieting to talking about health, so it strikes me as often more of a style judgment to shun dieting girls than a substantive disagreement. In general. On the other hand, I'm sure anyone who has a personality, or does what she wants, or doesn't look like a model has felt reprimanded for it, and probably by other girls as much as guys.
And for all of this there is the exception for the annoying person, gender neutral, who has found some magical health plan and wants to tell you about it all the time. Woof.
Weight and health are complicated.
So, this is a pretty cool book. I think it is marketed towards girls who habitually diet and are really stressed out by the idea of being unlovable because they inhabit their bodies and don’t look like Heidi Klum. And probably most of us have at least had thoughts about that, even those who do look like Heidi Klum – because no one ever looks enough like Heidi Klum, not even Heidi Klum.
The main point of this book is that you should listen to your own body, and it will tell you the way it feels best. It advocates a lot for not thinking your body is bad and not thinking food is bad because, while those things are often part of dieting, they ultimately usually lead to unhealthiness and feeling crappy. And I thought it was cool how the book acknowledged that everyone’s bodies are different, but it still gave some good guidelines for if a person’s body has been so messed up by dieting that they’re in a perpetual binge-and-fast state.
Also, there are some crazy cool recipes in here and ideas about making healthier versions of things. For example, there is a whole section at the end of cocktail ideas she has. They all sound pretty legit. Also, there is a recipe for a brown rice oatmeal type of breakfast, and I am pretty excited about that.
I did not love A Place of Yes, and I will admit that I don’t think Bethenny’s speaking ability translates incredibly smoothly to writing in this book either, but I feel like Bethenny really loves and cares about food and you can see her passion for women’s health and strength in this book. It has a lot of purpose, and it is really great. Like Brooke Taylor Windham, she wouldn’t call a woman fat, but she will tell you to get off your ass and start taking care of yourself. And I think we can all use that kind of encouragement.
She is sweet in this picture:
I received a copy of this book from the publisher, but I didn't promise to like it....more
Hmmm. There is something weird going on with this book, and I’m not quite sure how to react to it. It is smart, I think . . . but kind of creepy. So,Hmmm. There is something weird going on with this book, and I’m not quite sure how to react to it. It is smart, I think . . . but kind of creepy. So, this guy, John Wareham, apparently had something of a rough childhood, then, later in life, he wrote this book Chancey On Top. Then, later, he wrote this book, Sonnets for Sinners, which karen so awesomely sent me for Valentines in 2011. Awwww, romantic!
Anywho, I’m going through, reading this book, and totally digging it. It’s all compassionate and, whoa, we all are never satisfied with the people we love because we are searching for some ideal love we never got in childhood. Word. The format is that you read a poem on one page, and then you read something like a goodreads review of the poem on the other, so that is cool. And Shakespeare analysis – fun! And other silly poems from philandering celebrities! And then these other pretty poems from . . . who are these poems from? Why are they using contemporary vocabulary, and then the analysis on them is pointing out their use of Elizabethan slang for vaginas? And what about these lines, “So, for now, my love, to friendship cry, Avaunt! / And come with me in Aphrodite’s cunt”? Why is this lady talking about Aphrodite’s cunt? Isn’t that more what a nerdy 12-year-old boy would talk about to try to look smart and badass? So, I googled it.
And friends, I was not very excited about what I found. It turns out that the bulk of this book is poetry from the characters of the author’s other book, Chancey On Top, and then the author analyzing the poetry of his characters. Feel free to let me know if I’m wrong about this because there seems to be some somewhat elaborate effort to talk about these characters as real people. But, google seems to think that is just weird hand waving. You know, assuming google is right, there might be a kind of silver lining to this cloud about how it is such a masturbatory thing to do, BUT it is a book about people being selfish and focused on self-pleasure, soooo, fitting? But, still no. And then it seemed like, why is Shakespeare in here? Just to add some legitimacy? And why did this author take apart personal emails from fallen celebrities, turn them into sonnets, and then write an analysis of the poem he just constructed? It is kind of confusing to me in a John Nash way.
And I don’t mean, wow, you are a genius, author. Even though you do seem like a smart guy. I don’t know. I guess smart isn’t something you can really measure. I have been thinking about this with studying for the bar exam. One of my friends, who did the best in law school of all of my friends, wants to get an A+ on the bar exam. But, you can’t do that because you only pass or fail. So, because the sacrifices you make to get an A+ so far outweigh the benefits of getting the non-existent A+, does that mean you’re ultimately dumb if you try for and get the A+, but you're just good at taking tests? It is like showing off: so, you show off this knowledge or skill to impress someone with how good you are at this skill or knowledge, but rather than being impressed, the person is left feeling like, wow, what a show off. Like, the talent or smartness or whatever might be there, but the other weirdness so overshadows it that it doesn’t matter anymore.
So, rather than feeling like, what a clever boy!, as I felt at the beginning, I was left feeling kind of annoyed. And it has clouded even the poems and analyses I liked at the beginning. I think if it had just been a book of the author’s own poetry or a book of his analyses of Shakespeare’s sonnets on cheating, without all of this hoodwinking business, I probably would have liked it. The way it is, it just felt like sneaky and unnecessarily complicated self-promotion....more
The art business seems to me like this weird cross-section of fashion and property. I read this book for a class that I loved with this really great pThe art business seems to me like this weird cross-section of fashion and property. I read this book for a class that I loved with this really great professor who has the quietest, most monotone voice of any professor I’ve had. It was a lovely class, though. I played Bejeweled 3 through most of the class sessions so that I wouldn’t space off from what the professor was saying, and it worked. He is one of those professors who has been doing this for so long that it seems almost boring to him, except you can tell he loves it so much. He’s great. Anyway, I’m not in love with this book, but it does give a helpful overview of the art business, if that's something that interests you.
It makes me kind of sad to discuss art in this way, I guess, because, despite whatever the harsh reality is, I do still think of it as sacred or religious in some way. Thompson talks a lot about Damien Hirst (as you can tell from the title) and other branded artists. The art business sucks because, as with a lot of other creative ways to make money (I’d think), the actual artists aren’t really the ones making money. For example, say an artist makes a painting (or a pile of gumdrops, or whatever we’re calling art at the time), and sells it on this cool website, artquest.com, that the book talks a little about. So, that artist sells the painting, or pile of gumdrops, for, like $1,000, which is a pretty good price, I’d think, if you’re making money from something you love. Then, it turns out that the pile of gumdrops is total genius and changes the way artist work for all eternity, so the dude who bought it for $1,000 now sells it for $12 million. According to this book, that’s pretty typical in the art business. So, the people who know what art to buy are the one’s making the money, not the artists.
In Europe, they’ve tried to counteract this somewhat by making it law that every time art gets sold, the artist gets a cut. That’s nice, except it really only benefits artists who are already famous. Also, the cut the artist gets isn’t very much money. It’s not often that art changes hands frequently, especially if the artist is not branded, so the law really only increases the wealth (very slightly) of older artists. As a rule, it doesn’t help younger ones. It’s pretty rare that art sells for millions of dollars, and it seems like the high prices have more to do with marketing than with the value the art community places on the work.
It’s not uncool. It’s definitely cool. But its coolness lies more in its shock value than its technique. I probably shouldn’t talk, being one of the only people in the universe to have not read A Million Little Pieces when Oprah said to, or when she said not to. I don’t hear the book discussed for its writing, though, I hear it discussed for its content. The shark is similar, I think. It is, as they say, conceptual. Anyway, both artists made a shit-ton of money for their concepts where artists relying on technique can fail in the business of it all.
I guess the lesson here is that you get money if you understand money, not necessarily if you do things that are socially valuable. It’s kind of cynical, but probably true. ...more
I’m just going to say what we’re all thinking: what the hell is wrong with this book? I don’t know about you, but I want my pirates to be more like thI’m just going to say what we’re all thinking: what the hell is wrong with this book? I don’t know about you, but I want my pirates to be more like this:
This book argues that pirates are actually like this:
I read this book for a class on pirates that I took in Zanzibar. “Crimes of the high seas” is how the class was billed. It was like one of those freaking Jerry Bruckheimer movies where there’s more action in the preview than in the feature. I don’t know how I could have had higher expectations or how they could have been more brutally crushed. Maybe if we hadn’t spent two days watching The Amistad it would have been worse. I’ll let you in on the secret: pirates are outrageously boring. Tax assessors of the sea. Worse. I apologize to tax assessors. Pirates are more boring, according to this book, than doing taxes - just sitting there, slowly counting their gold coins and measuring the dimensions of their boats. Kill me now.
I mean, pictures! Pirates need pictures. And if you’re going to tell me the dimensions of every freaking pirate boat that ever existed, give me a diagram to tell me what it looks like, don't just use your words. UGH. And if the only other thing you want to tell me about is the exact inventory of all of their booty, at least lay it out like the Ikea catalog. With pictures!
This book is maybe out of print. I’m not sure. Maybe it’s just an on-demand book, or something. They (I don’t know who “they” is, but I think it’s the universe) ran out of copies while we were buying them for class, so not everyone had the book. I don’t necessarily think that made any difference in terms of what they learned, though. This book should be out of print. Sorry, Angus Konstam. I believe that you know everything there is to know about pirates, but it turns out that pirates are more like really bland sausages than I’d expected. You should have hired Richard Donner to present the information to me.
I’m also kind of not sorry, though. One of the main points of this book is that pirates are not fun, like in pirate movies, but that they are actually boring instead. It is beyond me why you would write a book with that thesis. It’s like writing a kid book about how Santa Clause is actually Newt Gingrich. IF THAT’S TRUE, I DON’T WANT TO KNOW.
The other really crap thing about this book is that I was so excited about it before we went to Zanzibar that I put some really personal, irreplaceable, memory-type items in it as bookmarks. I think I thought something like, well, I’ll obviously want to read this whole book all the time on the trip, and every time I’m reading it, I’ll also look at this comforting memento. That did not happen. Then, after I took the final for the class, I was so brain dead and excited to never look at the book again that I put it on the pile of giveaway books as soon as I walked out of the class. I didn’t remember that the mementos had been in the book until I was in an entirely different city trying to find the mementos. I’m really, really bitter at this, and I’m blaming it on how boring this book was.
Sorry, Johnny Depp, you’re still hot, even as a pirate, but I’ve defected to Team Ninja....more