i can’t believe it’s already the last day of january. 2015 seems to be zipping by at warp speed. i did very little sewing this month, but i did read a lot. i subscribe to a lot of magazines (“bitch,” “hip mama,” “real simple,” “parents,” “the new yorker,” “writer’s digest,” “threads”…i think that’s it; that’s more than enough) & i read like twelve books this month too.
including the handmaid’s tale. rightly or wrongly, i had never read it, probably because i was like seven when it was published & by the time i got into reading feminist literature in my teens, things from the 80s already seemed kind of outdated &/or irrelevant. maybe there’s some validity to that perspective, maybe it’s the hubris of youth, maybe a little bit of both. anyway, since the local librarians resurrected the feminist book club, they chose the handmaid’s tale for our february book.
can’t say i was wild about it. i kind of knew what it was about going in: it’s set in a theocratic dystopia in which women are pretty much powerless, & a lot of people are suffering from infertility. therefore, women who are able to have children are enslaved to childless couples & forced to bear children for them.
it just did not sound like something i wanted to read. for starters, i don’t read a lot of fiction. especially fiction that has any kind of sci fi/fantasy/dystopian element. i also am not wild about reading about violence against women, especially sexual violence, & especially fictionalized sexual violence. so many terrible things happen to women in real life, we don’t need to make up stories about it.
but i also didn’t want to be that person that shows up at book club having read sixty pages, spouting off a negative & uninformed opinion. so i grit my teeth & started reading.
that’s when i discovered that another element of the book is that the handmaid narrating the tale has already had a child, who was taken away from her & given to a wealthy couple while the woman was forced into the handmaid education center.
DUDE. the idea of having ramona taken away from me in some capacity is sincerely my worst nightmare. it was nearly unbearable for me to read about this, & also to wonder about this little girl growing up in this awful theocracy where she has no rights, probably being married off eventually to some random man…ugh ugh forever ugh.
lately i have been having a lot of dreams about me & jared breaking up (much to jared’s annoyance–i guess he’s tired of feeling like my sub-conscious has so little faith in him) & i think maybe the root of it is the idea of having to share ramona with whatever separate household jared sets up instead of having her with me all the time. that’s probably a little bit problematic, because, you know, he has as much claim to her as i do. i just hate for her to be away from me. sometimes i even go into the bedroom when she’s napping just to look at her for a while. (note to grown ramona that may one day read this: wait ’til you have your own kid, you’ll understand.)
i did finish the book, because i said i would. i drew myself a bubble bath one day while ramona was napping & just powered through. & it did get better, as far as developing more of a story beyond just “here’s the story of my subjugation”. but i’m not looking forward to discussing it.
i chose the book for our first meeting: poser by claire dederer. i was so looking forward to discussing it with people, especially my mom friend rebecca, who is in the club. but then i wrote down the meeting date wrong & missed it. word on the street is that people did not love the book. one woman didn’t finish it, & another felt that the author was too negative & judgmental of other moms. i thought she was just being honest about the things we all sometimes think, especially because she judged herself more harshly than she did any other woman. have any readers of mine read this book? care to weigh in?
anyway, in the absence of new sewing, i just have to talk about how adorable ramona is. here are some of my favorite things she’s said to me lately:
after i read her make way for ducklings, she placed one hand on the book & the other on my cheek, looked into my eyes & said, “the ducklings are safe now.”
yesterday i gave her a brown marker & she said, “it’s brown. it’s john brown!” she is truly a tiny kansan.
the other day i wiped her face after lunch & she said, “thank you, mommy. you’re such a good helper.” which, of course, is what i say to her any time she does anything remotely helpful.
such as the other day when i was trying to hem my viewfinder skirt, & she stood next to me for like twenty minutes, holding a tape measure up to the skirt & saying, “i am helping mommy sew a skirt.”
she’s also been really into getting lots of kisses before naps & especially before bed. it started with wanting to have the bottoms of her feet kissed (i guess because sometimes i kiss them during diaper changes; her first beauty mark is in the bottom of her left foot & it’s just irresistible), & now she’s all, “kiss the legs? kiss the eyes? kiss the ears? kiss the elbows? kiss the hands?” sometimes she brings her stuffed bunny into it. “kiss the bunny’s feet? kiss the bunny’s belly?” she also sounds so delighted when she thinks of a new body part she can ask to have kissed. recently she has added fingernails to the repertoire.
jared reports that the other day she went through the usual routine: feet, ankles, belly, face, ears, etc. then she said, “kiss the boogers?” man, kids are gross.
today it was raining & we took her to the grocery store. later she announced, “i had fun in the puddles!” then she tried to sing “rain, rain, go away” but couldn’t remember the words, so she said, “rain, rain, go…somewhere else. & come another time with puddles.”
she’s also working on learning the alphabet: “A B C, A B C, A B C A than a mole. come play with me B C!” this is based on her own rendition of “twinkle twinkle, little star” (which, i’d never realized, is the same tune as the alphabet song): “twinkle twinkle, little cat/how i wonder where you’re at/way down in your hidey-hole/better hidden than a mole/twinkle twinkle, little cat.”