Month: September 2016

BAD FEMINIST by Roxane Gay (part 2)

Bad FeministThe first set of quotes I highlighted from Roxane Gay’s BAD FEMINIST can be found here. They are, as one might guess, very feminism-focused.

This set, on the other hand, is more varied. Less political, I suppose, and more personal.

I am quite content to be in my thirties, and nothing affirms that more than being around people in their late teens and early twenties. (26)

First: I have loved every decade of my life, each for different reasons. Also: I’m only just beginning my 30s, so I’m hardly an expert.

But there does seem to be something different, more comfortable, about this era already. At 30, adulthood feels like a pair of shoes that I’ve finally broken in. I’m not playing dress up anymore.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still a work in progress. But I’m more the person that I want to be than ever before.

“Self-absorption is different from self-love.” (111, quoted from Diana Spechler’s novel SKINNY)

This struck a chord with me because I know a few people who don’t fully comprehend the distinction between these two things, or can’t cross the bridge from one to the other. (And perhaps I’m guilty myself at times.) It’s kind of ironic how much you can focus on the self, and it comes off as ego, when really it’s more reflective of a deep well of insecurity.

It makes perfect sense that many of us obsess over our bodies. There is nothing more inescapable. Our bodies move us through our lives. They bring pleasure and pain. Sometimes our bodies serve us well, and other times our bodies become terribly inconvenient. (113)

I’ve gone through ups and downs with my body image over the years. (What young woman hasn’t?) Puberty is notoriously tough, but pregnancy has been surprisingly fraught too. My body is doing incredible things for my baby girl, and I am extremely grateful for how well it is “tolerating” pregnancy. (My OB’s words, haha, not mine.) But at the same time, my body has also morphed into something unfamiliar, seemingly overnight. And it continues to grow, becoming increasingly foreign and uncomfortable, both physically and emotionally.

In the end, the price cannot be separated from the gift, so I will pay it. I will even embrace it, for the strange and wonderful marvel that it is.

But I won’t pretend that it doesn’t also trouble me sometimes.

Just because you survive something does not mean you are strong. (144)

I like this as a counterpoint to the famous saying, What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. I don’t think one is more true than the other; I just think it’s worth acknowledging that both are possibilities.

Too often, we fail to ask ourselves what sacrifices we will make for the greater good. What stands will we take? We expect role models to model the behaviors we are perfectly capable of modeling ourselves. (169)

I keep typing and erasing my thoughts in response to this quote. Obviously I haven’t quite sorted them out.

The one piece I can clearly express: The people I admire most tend not to look to others for greatness, but rather hold themselves to the highest standards, and constantly seek to improve.

We all have the capacity to do hurtful things, but we differ from one another in terms of scale — how much we can hurt others, how far we will go to make a statement about our beliefs, how remorseful we might feel in the aftermath of committing a terrible act. Most of us, if we are lucky, will only commit petty hurtful acts, the kinds of hurt that can be forgiven. (296)

This feels like a really important thing to understand. Basically: We are all capable of some degree of “evil.” But do we permit those weaknesses within ourselves, or strive to overcome them? Do we deny, or atone?

This is the modern age. When tragedies occur, we take to Twitter and Facebook and blogs to share our thoughts and feelings. We do this to know that maybe, just maybe, we are not alone in our confusion or grief or sorrow or to believe we have a voice in what happens in the world. (297)

Very true. And overall, I think it’s a positive thing — this sense of connection, this ability for everyone to have a platform. But it does come with drawbacks. Everything gets magnified, sometimes beyond recognition. I think we have to be careful not to just build an echo chamber around ourselves. And we have to be willing to listen and learn as much as we are eager to speak and be understood.

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So much to celebrate

13 years of friendship, 11 years of love, 9 years of #grumblepup management, 2 years of marriage, 1 year of home ownership, and ~7 weeks until parenthood.

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Grant and Millenium Park 019

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Day 2 - Magic Kingdom 101

Day 3 at sea 014

Taipei Day 4 034 selfie

I couldn’t ask for anything more.

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Stuff worth reading

“The Curious Border Between Fiction and Nonfiction” by Nelli Hermann

It is a natural part of the writing and reading process, to feel curious about the veils of a work of fiction, perhaps because the creation of a book is such a private and solitary process, and in so many ways is simply irretrievable—a writer can so very rarely specify exactly what was going on for him or her when s/he was writing a particular passage or scene. This is part of why the fun of writing and reading never goes away, because you can just never get to the bottom of it.

“The Gift of Research” by Abby Geni

In the end, of course, it is my own story I tell, as all writers do. I discover mine by traveling away from myself. In reaching for the unknown—in that middle realm, somewhere between what I understand and what I have never before imagined—I feel the spark of inspiration begin to glow.

“Terry McMillan: By the Book” (New York Times feature)

Reading a good novel can have the same effect as a self-help book because I gain more insight, empathy and respect for how others not just survive, but thrive, which is empowering.

“On Making Good with your Ghosts” by Erin Rose Belair

My stories come from little obsessions, ghosts that won’t leave me alone… I used to think stories had to come from some higher order, some grand tale. But I only started writing stories when I learned how to make peace with those ghosts, when I learned how to listen to what I was already telling myself.

The vein of strangeness running through you might very well be the best thing about your writing.

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