It’s so easy to veer off the path your mother sent you down, with cake and wine for grandma. Neglect to whiten your teeth or pluck your eyebrows; be less than completely self-abnegating in a meeting; show anger on your own behalf; gain weight and fail to express shame. And I’m the stereotypical eldest daughter: dutiful, punctual, reliable, and afraid of breaking any rule ever, EXCEPT on the page, where I am almost, not quite, but relatively free.
Part of my life’s work is learning to cut myself some slack already, because the wolves are exaggerated, so it seemed particularly funny when an older man bagging my groceries on Thursday morning whispered, “Be a good girl today.” First, sir, I am fifty years old. Second, there I was obeying the gender script, holding off on all calories until noon because limiting the food window to eight hours a day is supposed to help weight loss even though when I’m that hungry I can’t think straight, buying cookies I wouldn’t eat for my son while my husband mowed the lawn. How often am I bad by anyone’s lights, really? I joked about it on Facebook and my friends’ “bad” suggestions included letting a bra strap show and sprinkling chili flakes on my organic avocado toast. A few got really crazy and proposed a glass of rosé with lunch. Yep, me and my pals, we’re pretty wild.
I ended up skipping the rosé, doing a little work on the article I’d planned to focus on, then allowing myself to play around with a new project that seems to be forming. I’m writing micro-memoirs and loving it, although it’s too new to know yet if the work is any good. Maybe I can get a batch ready for when the magazines open up again next month, but I’m also telling myself: no imaginary deadlines, please. There’s no rush.
One piece of recent productive procrastination went live this week, a sort of feminist theory bingo card which may or may not also be a poem. There are some Mina Loy-ish squares in response to the very cool web site that put out this call for digital postcards. Others describe my choices, good and bad, and things I aspire to do. All of them feel connected to being a good bad woman, a feminist, someone trying but often failing to claim a fair portion of the cake and wine while sharing the rest with wolves, mothers, woodcutters, and whoever else is a little hungry and doing their best. Aagh, clearly the diet is killing me.
In other news, I’m packing up now for a whirlwind college tour with the aforementioned son and husband, which will include a quick family visit and a day at the Beinecke Library. When we get back, my daughter will be here and we’ll be a foursome again for a few weeks, which I’m very much looking forward to. Put THAT in my reusable grocery sack and smoke it, Mr. Patriarchy.
"This work is unlike any other, in its range of rich, conjuring imagery and its dexterity, its smart voice. Carroll-Hackett doesn’t spare us—but doesn’t save us—she draws a blueprint of power and class with her unflinching pivot: matter-of-fact and tender." —Jan Beatty
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