I have always wanted to be someone else. As a pre-teen I wanted to be married to either David Cassidy or Bobby Sherman. In my 20s it was Sheila E. combined with a Fly Girl from Living Color. In my 30s I fancied myself the west coast version of Eudora Welty, although the reality was I just wanted a nap (three kids in diapers will do that to you, although, as Mr Halfstory claimed, with two dogs and three kids in an apartment what we really had was Fecal Shock Syndrome).
In my 40s I realized I should always have been a librarian and I got a job doing something close enough, which I love, because I get to deal with 5-year-olds (mostly) and I relish how specific they can be. One student, when I asked him what sort of book he wanted, told me “nothing funny and no cats.” I flirted with a Master’s degree in Library Science and began a degree program, but, like my other attempt at a Master’s, I didn’t close the deal. I do get a little pissy when I read stories in More magazine about women who work for NATO full-time, run non-profits and raise children who hand in homework on time and who clear the dinner dishes without being threatened. I am lucky to finish a meal and a sentence; a Master’s degree is rather, um, insurmountable. I suspect I may be a walking, undiagnosed village idiot.
Regardless, I read The Dressmaker, by Kate Alcott, a novel about a 20-something woman who survives the Titanic tragedy and builds a career in New York, on the heels of another famous designer who also survived the ship’s crossing. I found the characters a bit simple and two-dimensional, but Alcott does a decent job transporting the reader to New York pre-Roaring Twenties. I am not Titanic-obsessed but I appreciated how she didn’t dwell on the the spectacle of the sinking ship. She instead wrote of the aftermath and its layers: misrepresented facts, women finding their strength after realizing men were not necessarily going to save them, survivors having to explain their panicked choices, elected representatives trying to assuage voters but also trying to figure out what happened and whom to blame. But I offer a suggestion. If you read this, also read The Dressmaker of Khair Khana, by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon. The author gives us the true story of one woman in Kabul, Afghanistan, forced to be the sole breadwinner in her family while the Taliban watches every move.
And, just for fun, below is a list of today’s texts from The Son:
9:20am: I’m probably gonna need a bagel.
9:25am: I mean for second period. I get pretty hungry.
10:37am: Did you drop one off?
9:47am: The (baseball) pants are in Weston’s mailbox.
1:11pm: Did you get the pants?
1:44pm: Do you have a five hour energy drink and food?
5:37pm: Can you order a pizza?
6:02pm: Remember I don’t have cash.
I guess I don’t have time to be a dressmaker either. But before you accuse me of being an Enabler, I only responded to one of the above.