I am back, pie in hand (also mouth), to tell you about my reasonable and mature approach to the stress induced by Christmas preparations, miscarriage muck, my husband's job search, and the winter Gloom (so murky it demands a capital G).
Ready? Breath bated? Here it is:
Avoidance! You can sing it to the tune of "O Come, All Ye Faithful" if you're looking for a little Christmas cheer: "Avoidance! Avoidance! Avoidance, O Avoidance!" (&c. Catchy lyrics, I know.)
Did you notice this is my fifth post this week, after my earnest resolve in late October to back off on posting during the holiday season? That's part one of the Definitively Reasonable And Mature Approach in motion, my friends. And just in case you'd like a little DRAMA of your own, I am sharing part two with you. I have an enormous pile of fun books beside my brown chair, right there ready to help me out when I have a wayward thought like, "You know, you could knock out the last of the Christmas cards right now if you just buckled down and did it."
At the top of the pile is Girl Meets God, by Lauren Winner. My high school best friend (who needs a name -- I think I'll call her Fairy May because we became best friends when she was Fairy May and I was Ethel P. Savage in our high school's production of "The Curious Savage") recommended it and I'm so glad she did. I love Winner's voice -- fresh and articulate, candid and thoughtful. I am forcing myself to read it slowly because I will be sad when it ends. I can't remember the last time I felt this drawn to an author.
Eric Brende wrote a book called Better Off about living with a community he calls (pseudonymously, to protect their privacy) the Minimites -- they're an offshoot of the Amish with stronger convictions about avoiding technology. Brende was in graduate school studying the social impact of technology when he took 18 months to learn hands-on about low-tech life. His "research" involved farming (sans machinery) to pay the bills and the birth of his first child at home with a lay midwife. I sympathize with Brende's ideals and his experience is intriguing. The writing is uneven, though, and I've been stalled at two-thirds of the way through the book for a couple of weeks now.
I'm reading Ina May's Guide to Childbirth. Spiritual Midwifery makes me laugh -- the "get tantric with your lady" approach to labor is a little too 1974 for me. I'm really enjoying this newer book, though. I love Gaskin's confidence in women's bodies, the way she expects most women to be able to birth their babies without techno-operatics.
I'm less enthusiastic about Naomi Wolf's Misconceptions. Sometime last year I heard Naomi Wolf and Ina May Gaskin interviewed together for a radio show on childbirth in America. Gaskin was so calm and reasonable; Wolf was more strident. I'm hearing that in her book as well. I don't know that I'll read it cover to cover (unless I discover additional stresses to flee from), but I'll keep dipping into it.
I'm also hearing voices in Michel Odent's book The Farmer and the Obstetrician. I saw Odent speak at a European breastfeeding conference in 2000, right after his book The Scientification of Love came out and right before we moved back to the States. He was speaking in English, but with a serious French accent. He was talking about the pulsatility of oxytocin release and I spent the entire talk going, "Huh? Pool-sa-teal-ee-t[non-English vowel sound here]? What word could that possibly be?" I have no idea what else the talk was about, but I had quite an aha! moment when I figured out the mystery word. This book has some provocative ideas -- Odent is opposed to cameras at birth and ambivalent about fathers being present -- but there are just enough quirks in the English that I hear his accent as I read. Talk about distracting. (Since distraction is the goal here, perhaps I shouldn't complain.)
Barchester Towers has been on my reading pile for a while now, along with Adam Bede. I took them both down to my parents' house, forgetting that an abalone can't turn pages very well. Adam Bede is the one book in my stack I want to finish by year's end. (New Year's resolution.) Given my current completion stats for things that need to be done by December 25, I don't know if I'm going to make my self-imposed deadline: I always find George Eliot hard slogging. I keep thinking it ought to get easier as I read more of her work, but it hasn't happened yet.
Friday night I pulled St. Francis de Sales' Introduction to the Devout Life off the shelf for Advent reading. I decided to do so because of a memory lapse -- I thought it was St. Francis Xavier's book -- but it's been so highly recommended that I think I'll stick with the plan anyway.
Fairy May also recommended Anne Lamott's Traveling Mercies, which I have just barely begun because a person can only procrastinate in so many directions at one time. And at the bottom of my pile is Having Faith, by Sandra Steingraber, a favorite of mine which I am re-reading in hopes of providing a more informed response to Brooke's question about breastmilk contamination.
Dishes are calling, and I have stockings to stuff for the feast of St. Nicholas. FlyLady (yes, I am so pathetic that I resubbed) has a "Please Go to Bed" email sitting reproachfully in my inbox, so I should wrap things up here. Further ideas for avoidance strategies -- I mean Definitively Reasonable And Mature Approaches -- are most welcome.