June 24th, 2013

Making My Escape Plan

Summer Vacation Itinerary



8am        Flight to San Juan
Youngest son props giant Civil War book as a makeshift pillow on your shoulder for the four hour flight. Book is a 400-page hardcover.

1pm        Car Rental Counter
Husband finds out all rental cars are now “smoke free” for which, it seems, you are personally responsible.

2pm        Hotel by the Beach
Letting your 20-year-old son pack his own suitcase results in no swimsuit and no flip flops. Your slow burn is effectively ignited by his category 5 sulk upon learning the hotel has no Wi-Fi.

2:05pm   Contemplation of escape plan begins. Resources consulted include:

Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple
Once renowned L.A. architect Bernadette Fox finds both the people and weather of Seattle eroding her sanity. Attempting to plan a long promised family trip to Antarctica hilariously derails, as Bernadette is forced to ever more eccentric means of hiding her agoraphobia. Bewildered by his wife’s behavior, Microsoft guru Elgin Branch attempts a mental health intervention during which Bernadette mysteriously disappears. Compiled by her daughter, the story uses Internet postings, emails, magazine articles and FBI reports to trace Bernadette’s journey back to her family.

Ladder of Years by Anne Tyler
A 40 year old Baltimore woman strolls away from her family down a Delaware beach and vanishes into thin air. Following an impulse we have all felt, Delia creates a new life. But is it a better one?

Escape by Barbara Delinsky
Once an idealistic young lawyer, Emily finds herself slowly suffocating in a New York City corporate cubicle. At her breaking point, she turns off her Blackberry, steals her husband’s car and returns to the small town that changed her life one college summer to rediscover and renew old relationships.

The As If Principle by Richard Wiseman
Through experiments and case studies, Wiseman makes a case for letting your actions shape your emotions when seeking change in your relationships.

Secret Journeys of a Lifetime by Keith Bellows
From island getaways to undiscovered villages, a photo filled trip planner from National Geographic.



10am        Snorkeling excursion by sailboat
It appears you and sailboats do not get along. Youngest son holds bag of ice to the back of your neck as husband and oldest son pack water and a book into the boat’s dinghy which takes you to white sand, deserted beach. Spend afternoon collecting sea glass and swimming in warm, clear water. Decide to temporarily mothball escape plan.

What do you read when you just can’t take it anymore?

March 27th, 2013

The Real Housewives of History

Being a housewife has never come easily to the women in my family. Whether it’s an issue with the soil or some undiscovered mutation, our family tree seems to propagate only non-conformist women. From my flapper great-grandmother who came north to work in the factories, leaving her husband and son behind, to my farm wife grandmother who never milked a cow, but taught school instead, our genetic disposition might kindly be called strong willed, but at other times obstinate and “unwomanly.”

Nowadays, thanks to “The Real Housewives of (Fill in the Blank),” my headstrong, sometimes shrewish self, could easily be camouflaged in sequins and heels, continue to do no housework and still be considered a model of femininity. Somehow I think the real housewives of history, revealed in the books below, would be appalled.

womens history books bar

The Aviator’s Wife—Melanie Benjamin
Anne Morrow, the first female glider pilot to be licensed in the U.S., marries the overbearing aviator Charles Lindbergh and finds herself at odds with his beliefs and her inability to assert her independence.

Eight Girls Taking Pictures—Whitney Otto
Is it possible to balance ambition and the needs of a husband and children? For many of the pioneering women photographers in this novel, self-sacrifice proves their undoing.

The Raven’s Bride—Lenore Hart
Engaged at thirteen, Sally Clemm puts aside her dreams of being a singer to support and ultimately inspire her self-destructive fiancé, Edgar Allan Poe.

The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb—Melanie Benjamin
With ambitions that outsize her height, “Vinnie” Bump joins P.T. Barnum’s “freak” revue, finds love and fame and inspires Victorian women to new heights.

Claude and Camille—Stephanie Cowell
Troubled by poverty, her husband’s affairs and loneliness, the first wife of Claude Monet appeared to have suffered greatly for love, but, in reality, harbored secrets of her own.

Wintering—Kate Moses
Was Sylvia Plath’s suicide caused by bitterness over her husband’s betrayal or the inability to balance being a muse, mother and creative poet in her own right?

I also find housewifely duties uninspiring. Oh, I do what needs to be done and thoroughly enjoy the company of my children, but the joys of cooking, gardening, sewing, baking and so on are lost on me.  I fear the day one of my sons brings home a wife. Will it be a Martha Stewart clone chosen to make up for my past deficiencies or an equally opinionated woman? I better figure out how that biting your tongue thing works…

Who’s your favorite headstrong woman from the past?

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