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Notes: Grist-ly.

I checked into my blog’s admin pages last night to post my Sunday Diigo links. I’m aware that I last blogged – about “mystery” of all things – on January 12, which happened to be my mother’s birthday.

I don’t especially like thinking about my deceased parents. They were bonkers, frankly. January 12 would have been my mother’s 93rd birthday, and my father’s birthday next month would be his 100th. Imagine, my own kids are just 17 and 14. It’s a generational stretch, sort of like a skipping over something, but am I ahead, behind, or the something skipped in this rondo?

I was born late, unplanned, unexpectedly: my mother had successfully fledged the first two of her six daughters and was looking forward to settling into a normal middle age, with just “a few” younger girls still at home. Then I came along, number seven. Sometimes she told me that it wasn’t her choice to have that many kids, that she would have stopped at three – leaving me where?

It’s strange to think that “back then” birth control was accessible after a fashion, but that it was culturally inaccessible to my mother. My wish for her was always that she should have had access to choice, even at my expense. That would have been fair, but life plays differently.

I am so grateful that a woman’s right to choose is now accepted in most civilized countries, and that safe, reliable birth control is available.

Over the last few days I’ve read Twyla Tharp’s The Creative Habit. Aside from being bowled over by Tharp’s energy, I’m impressed by (and not a little jealous of) the moral support she received from her mother, who seems to have been relentless in pushing, affirming, and then once again re-affirming her child.

Is all that cheerleading idiocy? (Where does that question even come from?) One tries to be supportive of one’s children, naturally. But for me, it’s hard to stop feeling the knife edge of criticism (self-criticism, too). My mother despaired of other people’s“plans,” which she could criticize at twenty paces.  She wanted to inoculate me against plans (and dreams), just as you’d expect a woman with very little control over her life to do. She told me: never, never aim too high since you will only be disappointed. Or, if she was feeling punchy: life is like a chicken coop ladder – full of shit from top to bottom.

The trick (there’s always a trick, no?) is perhaps to know that there are many interesting things even on chicken coop ladders: funny feathers, bits of undigested matter that provide …clues, foreign particles for variety… The chickens would say, it’s all grist to us, and peck away regardless.

So there you go: I thought I’d start with grist, write about grist, and end with grist, prompted as I was by pecking (picking) at the wound of rejection. But I can’t help but put a plug in for a woman’s right to access birth control and choice.

1 Comment

  1. That is a great book. I have not been intimidated by a blank canvas or an empty blog-entry box since I read it a few years ago. I have lent it to many friends and hopefully they got as much out of it as I have.

    Comment by Davin Greenwell — January 21, 2009 #

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