It's a two-book week, y'all.
Because all it took to knock this puppy out was a six hour flight across the country. My carry-on luggage was a fair amount of stifled laughs. And, some big, old ugly tears. It all went down right there in seat 19A, my row partners oblivious to the emotional road I was traveling.
It's really intense to read an entire book of personal essays in one sitting. It's even more intense when you're coming off a weekend with a ton of emotional and intellectual stimulation and not a lot of sleep. But, I know I would have loved this book just as much had I spread it over a week and read in the hours before bed.
I didn't know about this book until a fellow news lady friend brought it to my attention (if you live in the Seattle area, please get to know my friend and former colleague Colleen O'Brien. She's one of the good ones.) She mentioned it to me awhile back, then hand-delivered it to me a few weeks ago. I had no expectations and would consider myself only casually aware of Faith Salie up to this point. Now, I'm fangirl to the max.
Salie is one of those amazing women who parlayed a start in acting into an NPR hosting gig. Now, she gets to report on the greatest news show ever (CBS Sunday morning) and is a frequent panelist on the greatest radio game show ever (Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me.) She's smart, funny AND beautiful, which is totally unfair because I swear my mom said we only get to be one - maybe two - of those things.
Her voice comes through in this book as if she's sitting across the table from you, sharing a body of wine. She's raw, honest, genuine and really funny. She tweeted me after I tweeted her about this book (GUYS, I'm also an approval junkie...) and said it was her desire to get "nakedly human publicly." She nailed it. She was open and raw without it feeling gratuitous.
She writes extensively about her first husband (who she calls her "wasbund") and how desperate she was to win the attention and admiration of a man too proud to give it. She writes about the astounding grief over the loss of her mom. She calls Bill O'Reilly "Papa Bear" and writes about the strength and power of choosing a good "divorce dress." She's open about infertility and miscarriage, which so many women experience and few share.
Somewhere over Nebraska, she knocked me over when she talked about an intense desire to not be the first to say I love you. "I wither when I withhold love." How's that for a punch in the very familiar gut?
It sounds deeply profound, which it is at times. It's also really funny. And empowering. And, trite as it may sound: special. I stopped and wrote down this line she writes, as part of a letter to her daughter.
Aint that the lesson? You can be one or the other. You can be neither, you can be both. But, know why. Know why it matters. And, if you spend all your time seeking the attention and approval of others, you better have a backup plan for how to sustain yourself if that doesn't exist.
The way she speaks of her first marriage will break your heart. The way she talks about her second will restore your faith. It's so damn sweet without being sickly so. You root for her and her family every second.
When I finished this book, I was somewhere over central Washington. My row pals were sleeping and I was literally wiping my tears on my sleeve. I paid $11 for the in-flight WiFi so I could immediately thank Colleen for bringing it into my life. Then, I tweeted Faith Salie to thank her for writing it. Upon my arrival back to work, I handed it over to the first of many women in my life who can relate. Her experiences may not exactly mirror ours, but the desire women feel to be perfect and accepted at all costs can take a damaging toll. Here, we embrace it. Accept it. Approve of it.
My bonus book this week will take an entirely different approach to the same issue. Can't wait to get started.