November 19, 2009
Mary Karr, Lit
I’m working on finishing this book this weekend, we’ll see how I do. And it’s a relief from worrying about things I cannot change. And there’s probably only so many times I should call Nancy and Darlene although they’re pretty patient about holding my hand when I get rankled. One should have such friends.
I keep reading Mary Karr’s Lit, and looking at the photos, she’s so patrician and upper class in all of them. There is no snake around her shoulders and yet, she keeps trying to prove she’s down and out, that part doesn’t resonate with those of us who have been really down and out. Has she slept on the forest floor? Or in a car?
But, I am still so enchanted with her and her writing that I can hardly breathe. I love how she and her husband split the bills. That’s what my ex and I did. I love those details. He had plenty of money, and I had none, so we split the bills. We once had a splendid fight about money in the Sherman Oaks Galleria before it fell down in the Northridge Earthquake. I asked him to buy me some clothes. He was buying himself some, and I was pregnant with our daughter and wanted some too. He told me no because I had spent my money already. I was making $11/hour teaching French and ballet at the time. The fact that I faked knowing either is a testament to what a great actress I was and why I didn’t become a thespian is beyond me.
I turned to him in the mall in a righteous pregnant rage and said that considering what White men have done to the Native Americans, to Black people, and to women in this country I couldn’t believe he could deny his pregnant wife anything let alone hold up his head in public. He paused for just a second and then said, “Wow, I just thought you probably should be more careful with your money, I didn’t know you were going to bring the Indians into this.” After that whenever we had a fight, he would gently inquire, “Are we going to bring the Indians into this?” It was a good question. We knew so little about how to be married, how to take care of each other in any way, emotionally or otherwise, that the only way I could react was long months of silence punctuated by asserting myself with bringing in Native Americans, mythology, the women’s movement, whatever I was studying in graduate school. If we had been in therapy, we would have quoted our therapists to each other.
Starter marriages. Gotta love them. Gotta look back and laugh. Only Mary Karr’s seems sadder than mine, the heavy drinking, and the bone chilling laying waste of love. Her writing is devastating. I don’t know that I would lay out my marriage in these details. My ex is very present in my kids’ lives for better or for worse as am I for better or for worse. Her mother is such a sad presence in her life, although some of that seems overdrawn. She goes into a tizzy over her mother smoking a joint on her wedding night. Having never had a mother, well, she was gone when I was three, so that’s pretty much never, I don’t know if that would throw me into a tizzy. But that doesn’t seem too horrible. I suppose if you were really upper class? It’s not like the mother was throwing up on the lawn or snorting coke. There are some things about the upper classes that I will clearly never understand, but Mary does. Well, on to finish my Taneka book this weekend, but first a ten mile run.