Hello friends and familiars,
I left one book off my "Read in January" list, not even on purpose, but it happens to be the book that I have an extra copy of to give away.
The sixth book on the list is The Thing About Thin, a nonfiction work by Sui Solitaire of Cynosure.
The post in question was one from last May, called "Self-esteem & happiness are not the ends."
The Thing About Thin uses its ideas a jump-off point, and it is fittingly subtitled Body Image, Eating Disorders, Resistance + What Really Matters.
Other than my blurb on the book's page, this review covers nicely what I would say about the book if I were good at writing reviews. Basically: It's insightful and wise and strengthening, and I think its ideas are important medicine.
If you'd like to win this copy of The Thing About Thin, leave a comment with your email address. For an additional entry, you can spread the word at your own internet-space and leave me a second comment with a link to the pertinent post.
I'll close the comments at 11pm Pacific Standard Time on Monday the 27th, and randomly choose one entry.
1. The Thing About Thin: Body Image, Eating Disorders, Resistance, + What Really Matters, by Sui Solitaire
[See this post.]
2. Girl Meets God: A Memoir, by Lauren F. Winner
Her style of writing is so plain that this book didn't captivate me at first, but by the end I loved it. It's about her conversion to orthodox Judaism after a Jewish upbringing, and then her conversion to Christianity during college. She's so smart. Funny at times, and very self-aware.
3. Beyond God the Father: Toward a Philosophy of Women's Liberation, by Mary Daly
Deeply thought-provoking. She begins from the assumption that theology itself, and the Church itself, are corrupted by misogyny not only in form but also in principle. From there, she makes a full critique and describes her vision of a way forward, out of patriarchal religion.
4. The Lover, by Marguerite Duras
The story is absolutely messed up, and it was hard for me to stop thinking about that. The prose is kind of stream-of-consciousness. It's sad. It's not beautiful, though the atmosphere it builds is rather beautiful.
5. Jacob Have I Loved, by Katherine Paterson
6. All My Pretty Ones, by Anne Sexton
Wonderful. Anne Sexton is becoming another favorite poet. I posted the opening poem from this collection several years ago: "The Truth the Dead Know."
• a magic ring
• watching movies because Miss Erin tells me to
• reading relatively few blogs
• a lavender candle
• my first and own copy of the Book of Common Prayer
• dinner and Twin Peaks with Sui
• reading and eating outdoors
• Zen Habits
• realizing how many bad habits I do not have to conquer, simply because I do not have them yet — all I have to do is avoid picking them up, which is so much easier. E.g. nicotine; I am not addicted to nicotine. Awesome. One bullet dodged.
• after-rain air
• only turning my phone on periodically
• my copy of Lord of the Rings (big omnibus with the Alan Lee illustrations)
• getting those small but niggling tasks done
• Kindness Sprouts — an e-anthology on self-care and self-kindness to which I contributed. (I wrote about being an introvert.) It's pay-what-you-can; all proceeds go to a wonderful charity that provides free yoga to eating disorder sufferers.
• The Personal Bill of Rights, courtesy of Sarah from Rooted in Being.
• "The Joy of Quiet." A New York Times op-ed. On digital noise, stillness, multitasking, etc.
Thank you for struggling.
Thank you. Thank you for crying so hard that your tears and snot and drool all pool into the tissue. Thank you for the objects you have thrown at the wall. Thank you for the days that you have gotten out of bed, and the days you’ve slept through to stay safe. Thank you for the shallow breath that sustains you when you’re absolutely numb. Thank you for the crap food you eat because it takes so little effort to prepare. Thank you for surfing the Internet, when it’s less “surfing” and more “dead man’s float.” Thank you for the times you spend on autopilot. For the times when you check in. Thank you for screaming — and sobbing — so hard that the words you are screaming and sobbing out do not make an ounce of sense. Thank you for going to sleep when waking up is not something you are sure of. Thank you for your cries for attention. For your vague, unsettling status updates. For the e-mails you send when you don’t trust your voice to function. For your mistakes. For your unsettling drawings and your emo poetry, for your journal and the music blaring from your headphones. For how hard you try when no one — yourself included — thinks you are trying.
Thank you for still being alive.
This post comes to us from Mary Maxfield Brave, a blogger whose insights, logic, and passion I deeply respect. It was originally published on her blog Miss Mary Max. Some other pieces of hers I recommend: "Enough with the Good Enough," "Note on Recovery," "Logic Worn Thin: On Obesity as an Eating Disorder," and "Not Offended, Oppressed."
Sadness surprises me. It is unfamiliar. I have been anxious, angry, and mildly to severely depressed over the past four or five years, but rarely just sad.
I became insensible to sadness during the Year of Depression and the Year of Joy, or I forgot about it — and when I felt it again, I didn't recognize it. It bewildered me. I tried to chase it away at first, worried that it could bring a relapse into depression.
But depression and sadness are different. Not even related, really. Sadness has a more translucent feeling to it. It does not wall you into yourself. It passes. It needn't hurt less than depression, but it hurts differently, less unnaturally: it is not the pain of being constantly attacked by your own thoughts.
Not a numb, solid weight, but a slick of grief. Maybe tears. It can be borne without alcohol or starvation or antidepressants. The warmth and scent of tea, even swallowed alone in the dark, bring comfort.
"...[T]he same thing happened to me that has happened to many other women who've set out initially to recover lost and silenced feminine voices. Too constrained or timid or plain bewildered to speak for ourselves, unready, perhaps, to open certain doors in our own consciousness, we take the part of another...and break her silence. It might be our mother or grandmother, a woman of our own ethnic background or religious tradition, or one who has undergone a significant experience that we have, too, like illness, divorce, conversion, or exile. We choose our alter egos carefully and practice ventriloquism under the guise of scholarship or journalism, and eventually, often before we realize what's happening, we've begun to exercise our own voices."
– Carol Lee Flinders
At the Root of this Longing: Reconciling a Spiritual Hunger and a Feminist Thirst
This rings true for me. For you?
I thought first of Faith's recent post on sexual harassment and fear, because she expresses anger on behalf of her younger sister in it — though I don't want to impose Carol Lee Flinders' analysis on her.
The incident that comes to mind from my own life: the sadness and anger I felt when I overheard my younger cousins assessing their bodies with the most ancient-sounding of sighs. Before I could recognize my own eating disorder as outrageous and grievous, before I could want health and peace for myself, I had to want it for them. And so I spoke about them, and a year later was ready to repeat my sentiments on my own behalf as well.
It is beautiful and right to become angry for others and advocate for them. And it is most beautiful and most right when it reminds us to expect and demand no less for ourselves — because it is consistent, because justice belongs to everyone, because we deserve no less than anyone else does. No less.
• Erin, and her time here, and memories to keep
• the Goo Goo Dolls on nights when you need them
• my sisters, especially Little Sister because she is here
• the beautiful and piercing book I am currently reading, about feminism and spirituality
• the library by the beach
• making space
• retrospection and gratitude
• three consecutive nights of vivid dreams about three different people I have fallen out of contact with
• the hammock in the backyard
• that it is not cold here
• Anne Sexton's poetry
• Goddess Leonie meditations
• a full-time temp job lined up for March through May
• Xena: Warrior Princess
• a short visit to my old favorite SF art museum, the Legion of Honor