Apparently one of my daughters sits down while showering. We don’t have one of those senior citizen chairs (yet), so I find this both efficient and charming, although I question the degree of fatigue that motivates this. Kind of like when The Son says he’s not going to do any work on Fridays because “it’s Friday,” hinting at a mutual need to decompress. Teen stress: joke or no joke? My own mom had no room for teen emotion when she was raising us. She announced very succinctly, before shoving us out the door, that children have no reason to be angry or tired. The word “stress” was absent and now it just pisses her off; she believes it’s overused and inappropriately applied. She chalks up youth stress to parental decision-making (or lack thereof). But she comes from a generation that silently expected more from their children and, in turn, applied silent guilt when you didn’t meet the bar. In our house we try our best and if that doesn’t work we wake up the next day and try again. In between there’s yelling, strike-outs, puffy hair, books that stink but you have to read them anyway, old dogs that piddle shamefully, math that will get done by magic, too much computer time, mountains of really, really dirty socks and dead bagels at the bottom of backpacks. Honestly, who has time to think about getting into an Ivy League college? I can’t remember to buy “the good cheese,” whatever that is. I think I am going to sit down while I shower; she may be onto something.
The L. E. recommended How to Save a Life, by Sara Zarr. The L. E. has rarely been wrong and if I ever say she’s wrong I could be fired. But still. It’s a really good book, for both adults and teens. The book toggles between two points-of-view: Mandy, 19, pregnant, and about to give her baby to a 50-ish, recently widowed mom with a 17-year-old daughter. Zarr does an incredible job describing, in small detail (like snippets of conversation), the difference in each girl’s life. Each has suffered and both are learning to deal with loss and grieving. The desperation that feeds Mandy’s actions (she’s the pregnant one) is uncomfortable to read and, in my interpretation, authentic. Jill – the teen who has lost her father – can be a straight-up bitch. The end is somewhat contrived but I didn’t see it coming, so I believed in it. And I was thankful Zarr didn’t delve too much into the high school scene – it’s been done and I wasn’t in the mood. Her characters are strong, insightful women and that alone is worth it.
Next up: Sense of an Ending, by Julian Barnes, possibly the opposite of the above, and Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, by The Bloggess, Jenny Lawson, whose blog, I must say, is ridiculously funny. In the meantime, if you want to scare yourself without having to watch one of the “Screams” read the Callista Gingrich piece in The New Yorker a few weeks ago. Or, if you want to read a a sublime piece on aging, read Donald’s Hall “Out the Window” piece in the January 23rd New Yorker. I admit She Who Shall Not Be Named recommended both and I applaud her for this. I shall now vow to not throw her under the bus…at least literally.