Saturday I started to hyperventilate.
I saw a front-page headline in the Globe and Mail about Laureen Harper, wife of Conservative Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
She’s no Michelle Obama – and that’s how she likes it. I doubt she said that.
That's the last thing I’d ever want anyone to say about me. She’s no Margaret Atwood or Jeanette Winterson, and that’s how she likes it. Granted, Laureen didn’t chose the life. She chose the man. He chose the life, but still.
I want the life.
I went on to read a review and conversation with 81 year old Olympia Dukakis about her role as Stella, a feisty, sexy, trash talking old butch lesbian in Thom Fitzgerald’s film Cloudburst. There’s still time, I thought, for love and words and maybe a drop of fame.
Then I read a review of Sally Armstrong’s Ascent of Women that argues optimistically that around the world women’s conditions are improving. That may be true but the rates of rape and violence and hatred and poverty are staggering, and wherever women rise up and speak out they face a murderous backlash. There’s so much to be done, and I click online surveys and go to the odd demo.
And the other day I read a Rumpus interview with David Shields who says "I’m just trying to argue that genre is a minimum security prison." And partly I agree, but I’ve got enough to do trying to master genre (memoir and novel), which I believe you need to do, before you can fuck with it, if indeed I ever will. And now there’s the dilemma of considering myself somewhat unconventional while firmly planted in precisely that prison, trying to make myself feel ok that it’s only minimum security, so it could be worse.
And in the meantime I’m trying to learn and write the toughest things about myself although I know that lots of brilliant writers and thinkers don’t know shit about themselves, and don’t care to, or know shit but don’t write about it. So why spend hard saved money to go to Guatemala and tread water in my worst fears?
And because I wasn't yet feeling anxious enough, I re-listened to an interview CBC's Jian Ghomeshi did with Toni Morrison last spring. With a minute remaining he asked her about backing out of a memoir deal and she said her life wasn’t interesting enough to write about. She actually used the word boring (although she qualified it with boring to her) and I can’t help thinking Toni Morrison doesn’t think it’s worthwhile to write memoir. Who the hell am I?
(And then there’s exercise and laundry and dinner for the kids (they like to eat that every day) and the fact that there’s no milk in the fridge and no plans in place for March break this week.)
So I picked up a paper bag. Then I put it down. Cooking and cleaning aside, don’t I want a life full of wrestling with these dilemmas?
But do there have to be so many at one time? I'll just hold onto that bag, it's cheaper than drugs