Monday, October 16, 2006

Shannon Hale, revisited

Shannon Hale has been in the Minneapolis area the last few days promoting her new book. Rachelle, a woman from our ward, knew her pre-publication, and invited her to a small gathering at her house. Our book group read Princess Academy in August, and so most of them came to meet her, get books signed, hear her talk, etc. As I mentioned before, the thing I have been most intrigued with her is her ability to have this career while simultaneously caring for a young son, with another baby arriving in a few months. She said last night that she is mostly a mom who writes during her son's naps. Others were interested in hearing about her work, her views on HS English classes, and other topics. I really wanted to hear more about her family-work balance. I wanted to know how she was able to turn out quite a bit of work since her son was born almost three years ago and how she views her future as a writer and mother of two children. But of course, I was nervous in a large group, and couldn't break in forcefully enough to ask my questions. Then I had to leave a bit early to come home for our dinner guests. Maybe I"ll email her and ask her to blog about it.

Anyway, after the kids were in bed, I surfed around her website and thought enviously about her. I mean, she has this career-she is driven to write and she manages to write, and write successfully, and she is able to spend most of her time with her kid(s). Yes, she has worked a long time for this and has received a large number of rejections, she is passionate about her work, I'm thrilled for her success. But, I just spent the later part of the evening feeling depressed. I felt that familiar tinge of regret. Why didn't I pursue a career that was more hospitable to a mother-profession combination? I haven't been looking for work really, and wonder how I can keep at least a little toe in the door.

The good news is that the first substantive chapter of my dissertation has been accepted for publication and I have been working on the final edits the last couple of weeks. I will submit that to them today or tomorrow. And then I will send out the other two chapters and see how the reviews come back for that. And while I was sitting working on that today, the idea came to me to contact my former advisor at BYU and see if I could come to Provo for summer term to teach a class or classes. I think it could work. I would come with the kids, hopefully AJ could work remotely a bit, and we could hang out there for a couple months during the summer. Utah is probably the best place to do soemthing like this, as there is family in the area and other supports to make it possible. We would probably also have gone to Utah anyway for a family reunion, so it makes it all the more possible. I got emails back from her. My advisor is now the dept chair and she made it sound like a very possible option. So, we'll see where that goes. If I get to teach, I hope to make some connections with faculty there and perhaps get started on some other research projects. it might just be enough...Anyway, I am feeling more hopeful, but still wondering what is best.
Read more . . .

Saturday, October 07, 2006

To Hell with All That

Loving and Loathing our Inner Housewife, by Caitlin Flanagan

I saw an ad in the New Yorker for this book and put in on hold at the library. (Turns out she is a staff writer for the New Yorker. I'm sure I've read some of her stuff, just didn't remember any of it.) I was number 20 on the wait list. I decided I'd better read it before I had to take it back since there is still a considerable wait list, and thus, I am not able to renew.

My general impression: 1. There was no coherent conection between chapters. No major theme, argument to connect it as a whole. Reading reviews, I see that these were originally published as magazine articles. still, it leaves me with an unsettled and choppy feeling.

2. At the end of the day, I'm not sure what she thinks. Her position isn't cohesive. For example, I started out thinking that she was against working mothers, but at the end, wasn't sure. This happened a lot so that I never quite got her bottome line. She seems to laud homekeeping, but then shares her supposed inability and her willingness to lower her standards and hire outside help. Here's how the NYTimes Book Review put it:

More distressing are Flanagan's contradictions, which make it easy to dismiss her. Like many contrarians, she spends too much time arguing against everyone else and not enough time considering her own opinions. She rails against doctrinaire feminists, yuppie parents, stay-at-home moms, political correctites and wives who won't put out. But she's often as guilty as her targets. She mocks boomers who pal around with their kids, then takes vacations at family-friendly resorts where she splashes about with her children. She laments her generation's failures at household maintenance, then admits she's "far too educated and uppity to have knuckled down and learned anything about stain removal" herself. Self-deprecating, yes. But also hypocritical.

3. She is a describing a world familiar to only a very few people. she has a personal organizer for goodness sake. And a nanny too. I can almost forgive her that one since she had twins (and her description of their first couple of years of life makes me regret ever thinking fondly about two babies for the price of one and I hope it never happens to me). Is elitish.
Read more . . .