This Week In My Library: 8.22.23Aug 21, 2023
homebirths, ageism and halloween-light karma
Life of a Bookman
Bookman: 1. a person who has a love of books and especially of reading. 2. a person who is involved in the writing, publishing, or selling of books. Oh, hi thats me!!
What I absolute cannot and never will shut the f*ck up about: I didn't know how earthshaking a book could be until reading Birth Control: The Insidious Power of Men over Motherhood by Allison Yarrow. Holy hell. From due dates, to pushing during labor, to vaginal exams, to the monitors they put on us, to tearing, to the drugs they administer, to the position we labor in...it's. all. flawed.
Unless you look at it from the lens of what will make the most money for a hospital and be the most convenient for a business. And prioritize that over the woman.
It's one thing to read a book and be like wow, this is a lot of shit I didn't know. And it's another to be right smack in the middle of childbirthing years – and while I'm not a mother and won't be one in the near future unless something very fun and unexpected happens wink – all my girlfriends are. And the fear many of them have or had around labor, specifically, is palpable. But when there's a positive labor experience they say things like, I know I'm the exception but her birth was super fast and wonderful and my recovery easy.
Turns out, THAT SHOULDN'T BE THE EXCEPTION. But hospitals and obstetrics have created an environment where what they say they need to do to “keep us and the baby safe” is actually the source of the problems...so that they can be the solution. And then! When you try to do anything outside the “norm” like midwifery, doulas, and homebirths, you're treated like you're a crazy person risking everyone's life. But if you look at the literature, of which Yarrow did in-depth reporting on, those “alternatives” are anything but dangerous. “Alternatives” in fact put the woman back in power, and in flow with this very natural thing our bodies know exactly how to do.
I told you I'd basically write a whole newsletter about this. Read it, read it, read it.
What I can't get into so please help: I've been trying to read Margaret Atwood's The Robber Bride for like...a year. I pick it up in between books and then I put it down a few pages later. I'm a very big Atwood fan (Handmaid's Tale, Handmaid's Tale and Handmaid's Tale some more). I like the characters, like Tony who's a professor and studies all things dark and destructive like war. And the elusive nature of Zenia, whomever this wreckingball woman might be, it hasn't been revealed. But for some reason I keep getting stuck. Normally when that happens I say screw it. And I never come back. But I keep coming back. Can someone who loved (or hated) this book tell me what to do? Move on? Keep going? This is starting to sound like relationship advice and honestly I've needed similar advice in the past, too.
What I'm writing: I'm living life one 40-page submission at a time. I'm right at the midpoint of the book in terms of revisions and let's just say this sure is hot girl summer for my main character. I said to writing coach Julie last week that it's so funny how hard I worked on this book for two years before getting notes from my agent. It went through major rewrites. It went through beta readers. It went through edits. I thought it was good enough to show my agent (and it was! I got killer notes back from them). But now when I return to each chapter, I'm like woah woah woah I can make this so much better. And I know how to make this so much better! That's weird right??? But Julie reminded me that that's the beauty of working really hard at a craft. When you return to things you created early on in your journey, it reflects your progress not your weakness. And that's a lovely damn thing. Lovely indeed.
What gets passed down becomes our history. A few for the canon: My longtime workwife (who I haven't worked with in this decade but the title will forever hold strong) sent me Women in Leadership Face Ageism at Every Age on Harvard Business Review. And gals, it's effed. And true. And definitely worth a read if you want your feelings and work experiences to be validated by research. We go from too young, to too pregnant, to too busy mothering, to too old in the eyes of decision makers. Or Lauren McGoodwin put it, “Sounds to me like the perfect age for a woman to have a career is when she's a man.” Ooof.
Pass It On
Stories are heirlooms. Here's one of mine: What's our stance on Christmas lights timing? They definitely have to be down by Feb 1st right? And they DEFINITELY have to be down by April, yes? Ok, cool. So then you – too – would have addressed it with your neighbor when the multi-colored strings of lights wrapping their porch was still up in mid Spring (which by the way is a shared facade...I live in a 130 year old home that was divided into 4 condos and sold off. I own mine with my lovely little porch that's lit in a timely and relevant manner, and they own theirs. But we are part of one whole exterior of the building). Lets just say Christmaslight gate wasn't my best look. I got a little passive aggressive and handwrote a letter...a LETTER folks...asking my neighbors to take their lights down before coming to my senses and retrieving said letter in favor of a good ole fashioned, casual text. Apparently karma is coming back to bite me because last night I walked out of my house to see that the other downstairs neighbor PUT UP HALLOWEEN PUMPKIN LIGHTS. 70 days – seventy!! – ahead of the holiday. This is not OK and I think there's only one answer: another handwritten letter.
Please write in if you think I'm wrong, here?? I can take it. And yes, I've become that neighbor.
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