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Clarissa's Blog

An academic's opinions on feminism, politics, literature, philosophy, teaching, academia, and a lot more.

Archive for the day “May 12, 2017”

On the Playground 

We have fantastic playgrounds in our small town, and today I took Klara to one of them for the first time. My goal, aside from entertaining her, was to meet mommies. Which is also for her sake because, as we all know, my interest in meeting new people is lower than being bitten by sharks. 

I met mommies, so that part of the goal is going ok. The problem is that I feel extremely out of place. Mommies are all decades younger than me and tell stories that go,  “I has my first child by accident at 18 and the second also by accident 10 months later. Then I had my third at 21 and fourth at 22, and im thinking of having the next one soon because I don’t like big age differences among siblings. My husband’s four brothers and 2 sisters were all much older, and that was no fun for him. I only had 3 siblings but we were close in age.” (This is a literal rendition of one of the stories I heard today, and the rest were similar.) 

Hearing about all this boundless fertility makes me feel guilty and deficient. Which is not a feeling I’m used to experiencing. I urgently need to go work on my research to restore my self-esteem. 

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On the Playground 

We have fantastic playgrounds in our small town, and today I took Klara to one of them for the first time. My goal, aside from entertaining her, was to meet mommies. Which is also for her sake because, as we all know, my interest in meeting new people is lower than being bitten by sharks. 

I met mommies, so that part of the goal is going ok. The problem is that I feel extremely out of place. Mommies are all decades younger than me and tell stories that go,  “I has my first child by accident at 18 and the second also by accident 10 months later. Then I had my third at 21 and fourth at 22, and im thinking of having the next one soon because I don’t like big age differences among siblings. My husband’s four brothers and 2 sisters were all much older, and that was no fun for him. I only had 3 siblings but we were close in age.” (This is a literal rendition of one of the stories I heard today, and the rest were similar.) 

Hearing about all this boundless fertility makes me feel guilty and deficient. Which is not a feeling I’m used to experiencing. I urgently need to go work on my research to restore my self-esteem. 

I’m an Old Fart

I see a general reluctance among students to look at anything beyond the very immediate. It’s such a strange way of thinking about things.

I ask students who are graduating this semester what they will do after graduation, and they look at me like I’m crazy. “I have no idea,” they say in the same tone of voice as if I asked them what they’d do if aliens from another galaxy disembarked in front of them. And it’s clear that they have honestly not given it a thought. I guess this is the mind-frame needed to succeed in a fluid world, so good for them. But for me, with my 5 and 10 year career plans, this is insanity.

Hurt Feelings

Russians have made it a crime to say in public that God doesn’t exist. Because it hurts the feelings of religious people (who make up 2% of the population). 

It is not a crime to say in public that God does exist, no matter how much it might wound atheists.

I can’t fully explain how very funny this is because in order to get the hilarity one needs to know how utterly unreligious the country is and has been for a century.

Leaving the Russians aside, the criminalization of hurt feelings is cropping up everywhere around the world, and it’s very scary.

Book Notes: Sophie Hannah’s The Narrow Bed

It took me an uncharacteristically long time to finish this novel by Sophie Hannah. It took me so long that I had the time to reread all but two of her preceding novel’s while struggling with this one. (This is what I always do during the end of the academic year: reread my favorite mysteries as a way of clearing my mind amidst tons of work). 

The problem with The Narrow Bed is not the premise or the plotting – both of which are superb. What bugged me is that there were excerpts from a comedian’s memoir in it, and I hate memoirs, especially ones that try to be funny. Not even a great parody on a Melissa McEwen type of feminist, which is this novel’s greatest find, reconciled me with the need to slog through the memoir. 

Hannah is brilliant at creating relatable images of selfish women, and a reminder that there’s nothing wrong with female selfishness is sorely needed. This novel’s selfish character – the memoirist comedienne – however is so boring that one wonders why she’s in the novel at all. 

But hey, not everybody hates memoirs, so this might be a fantastic novel for many readers. 

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