Friday, February 7, 2014

Famous Misogynists and Admirable Men

This is awkward, but I don't know how to count the progress of my pregnancy.  On Saturday, I crossed the mark that means I have 8 weeks left.  This is easier for my brain to hold onto, rather than the 32 weeks along measurement some use.  Then there is the lunar counting system used by some books (and witches?), as well as the standard month by month count of my mom's generation, which seems sane to me, but sounds confusing to others. 

For example, by monthly standards, I am in my eighth month, which sounds like I will have a baby in a month, because I'm so used to talking about gestation being 9  months long.  But that's 9 full months, so, really, I have 2 months left. 

Don't worry, this is not what I spend my nights thinking about!  I save unsolved algebra problems from high school for that.

The whole point of the disastrous anti-math experiment above is that I am currently caching entertainment to pillage when breastfeeding (although I've heard that screens are as addictive for babes of a certain age as they are for adults, so this may be a bad plan?).  This brings me to the fact that I saw Anchorman 2 on Saturday night, and boy, did it make me feel good about my years of parenting ahead.  If that's what cinema has to offer, I and the library's DVD stash are going to get along just fine. 

There was plenty to laugh about and, despite its shocking amount of race-joke fails, I'm not sorry I went to see it.  In fact, it made me feel great about my stay-at-home ways of late.

On the Road
The movie I did have trouble shaking, however, after watching it recently, was On the Road.  I haven't read the book in about ten years, and although he has the ability to ruin lots of things for me, Tim's tepid feelings for Kerouac and other Beats has not poisoned my well of fascination for them.  I can't say I regret watching the film, but it is not a good film by any means.  The interior sets in New York and San Francisco far outweigh any casting, acting, or direction in the thing.  (Amy Adams and Viggo Mortensen do, however, kill it in their few scenes.) 

When I read On the Road in high school and then again after college, I found it to be about freedom, and friendship, and adventure, and about "losing it," in a way, in order to find "it," "it" meaning bliss and true love itself - that is, the wild life-force that binds us all and does not necessarily come in romantic or conventional containers. 

The movie didn't appear get the memo about these themes, however, and seemed to fall down a rabbit hole of brute sexuality, with entirely too much of Kristen Stewart's swollen lip-pout thing (sorry, Amerz).  But the dingy colors and washed lighting had fantastically claustrophobic effects on this viewer, which was probably its aim.  And I came away wondering what the hell it was like to be a woman in the fifties, because even the women running in literary circles (or perhaps those women more than any others?) seemed to have a pretty lame hold on their relationships. 

I know I'm not saying anything new here about the depiction of women in On the Road, or the treatment of women by the real-life characters of the book If I were a different person, I would be doing proper research right now, reading essays written by people much smarter than I am.  But since I spent the night layering a chicken with carrots and onions in my crock pot, and walking outside in such low temperatures my legs needed to thaw out when I returned home, all we have to work with right now are my thoughts.  Which are:  WTF, women of the fifties??  Why so okay being sex objects?

I've rarely had the, er, opportunity??, to be regarded as a mere sex object, so maybe I don't understand the power, or the allure, or the circumstances around it.  But I am haunted by the character of Camille, played by Kirsten Dunst, in On the Road, whose life is wracked by her love for Dean Moriarty and nearly ruined by her commitment to him and the family they build together.

Is life way better for women in our country these days?  I guess what I'm getting at is: it sure as hell seems like it. 

Phew.  That was long and messy and, unfortunately, my whole point.  

I read an essay today about insomnia, something to which I 100% do not relate, but maybe I just eat too many carbohydrates and sugar?  In my experience, that stuff will knock you out.

The essay kept listing books the author read while not sleeping.  Lists can be kind of fun.  Indulgent, sure, but hopefully entertaining.  Here is a list of books on my desk, books on which I am making zero progress because I keep doing weird things in the kitchen like making my own sauerkraut, and doing other weird things like going to work:
  • Changing My Mind, Zadie Smith (Still need to finish!!)
  • Love Medicine, Louise Erdrich (Adore L.E.)
  • Wild Fermentation, Sandor Ellix Katz (This book's design makes teenage room decoration look totally sane)
  • Eating Stone: Imagination and the Loss of the Wild, Ellen Meloy (Features big horn sheep on the cover.  Nuff said.)
  • Wild Ones: A Sometimes Dismaying, Weirdly Reassuring Story About Looking at People Looking at Animals in America, Jon MooAllem (Has picture of growling polar bear on cover, in glass case.  Not as cool as big horn sheep in the wild, sorry Jon.)
  • PapaDaddy's Books for New Fathers: Advice to Dads of All Ages, Clyde Edgerton (Tim recommended for my peace of mind as a mother.  I don't always ask, I just follow.)
  • Love At First Bark: How Saving a Dog Can Sometimes Help You Save Yourself, Julie Klam (Dear friend sent to me, can't wait to read.)

That's all.  I couldn't even manage to just list the books properly.  Had to jam all my own narrative up in there.  I also realized that, while the author of the essay listed books he has gotten through, which is kind of cool, I listed books I have failed to get through, which is sad. 

Cake Advice

Lastly, I stumbled upon Cake's website today (Cake the band) and found an Advice page where you can write in with questions.  On the subject of being or not being a sex object, this advice was given:  "The tragedy is when girls don't work towards becoming completely self-actualized because perhaps they learned at an early age the value that being a sex-object can bring."

I just love that, don't you?  Without overly dissing my body and the natural strength of my non-leggy legs, I have often thought, yes, without some of the shame I experienced as a young woman, of not feeling beautiful enough, I would never have made my way to art, and to writing, and would have missed out on many opportunities to feel compassion for the other people in my life.  Is that weird to say?  Maybe so.  But it's true - like that freaking Garth Brooks song.

With love,

Kara Norman: Sex Object

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