Tuesday, November 4, 2014

simple aplomb

I love women who exhibit a sort of je ne sais quoi.

all sorts of je ne sais quoi

Thus, two books I recently read appealed to this part of me that loves the lives of hidden women.
One, Where'd You Go, Bernadette was a fictional account of a misanthropic, brilliant architect, who drags her family through all sorts of adventures: to Antarctica and back. It was a delightful, joyful romp through the adventures of a highly dysfunctional family. (aka your average suburban family)

Secondly, there was The Astronauts Wives Club. This was the sort of book that makes you realize:a) How toxic the strange ideals of Patriotism, domesticity and absolute conformity and perfection that the 1950s imposed on families were. It was fascinating to think of how much money was spent on getting men to the moon, for really no reason, but to prove to the world that our technology and rocket-power had surpassed those of Russia. The entire Cold War was a competition fueled by fear and jostling for the alpha dog position on the world stage. It was a fascinating cultural reflection: to think about how these ideals of conformity were driven by fear of communists hiding in the midst of a peaceful democracy. Of the Other hiding in the midst of our Selves. The ideals of "perfect housekeeping" and the "unflappable housewife" were images driven by an advertising industry looking to sell goods to people who had met all their basic needs. On a grand scale, the book provided was a fascinating cultural reflection.

But more particularly, I was captivated by these women. How can your heart not admire such women: their husbands went to the moon. It may seem like the men did the greater feat, but really, the agonies of those waiting at home, listening to radio broadcasts, and watching launches and missions on fuzzy televisions, are far more acute, I would think. These women have been the ones who have waited at home, watching a loved one venture into danger, but not being able to do anything about it. They have an understanding of pain that others cannot; they have a deeper insight into empathy.
Rene Carpenter during a mission

To hear their stories, to listen to their struggles as the first "Real Housewives" clan to enter into the American consciousness, is a real privilege. Their brilliance, boldness, greatness, and determination is balm to the heart and pleasure to the reading eye and ear.

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