Last weekend a delightful bookseller in Seattle held Accidentally on Purpose
, my memoir about getting pregnant after a one night stand, up next to Elizabeth Gilbert's Eat, Pray, Love
and told all her female shoppers, "If you liked this, you'll love this one, which I'm calling Screw, Grow, Love
." I thought that was pretty funny. And I suppose both books are about a female journalist's "self-actualization" (my sister and I giggle when we use that term; we're from Maine, where the self is often too busy digging out snow or swatting mosquitoes to get actualized).
Anyway, Entertainment Weekly gave Accidentally an A- and the New York Observer called it "charming and insightful," as well as some other lovely things. Check out my website for more info. I do book clubs.
This is my last day blogging for Powell's so I'm going to leave you with an excerpt from my book's second chapter, in which I've just realized I'm probably pregnant from a one-night stand with an unemployed 29-year-old. It's 2003 and I'm a 39 year-old movie critic.
÷ ÷ ÷
When I became a woman of a certain age, that is, around 35, my female friends began floating the suggestion of single motherhood to me. "Have you ever thought about doing it on your own?" they'd say, a wine glass in one hand, their brows slightly furrowed with concern over my future. Their cell phones would be close by, because a night out with the girls when you are 35 or older typically means that back home, a husband is bumbling through baby-sitting duties and will almost certainly require coaching at some point...
I didn't want to hear a sales pitch for single motherhood from a married woman. What did she know about it? Moreover, the question pissed me off, implying as it did that my romantic situation had been declared hopeless. I might think it was worth waiting for the right man, but my friends had clearly given up on that possibility. What they had ? the smart, loving, outdoorsy husbands, the houses, the cooing babies, the adorable toddlers, the winsome five year olds, the mini vans, the Christmas card postcards of perfection ? all of it was out of my reach...
I knew they had my best interests at heart, but it seemed as though they were recommending I go climb Everest without an oxygen tank. It was obvious from observing them that motherhood was hard as hell. At my monthly book club, half the mothers in the room would be bursting into tears over sleep deprivation or some trauma involving a negligent nanny. The other half would be vague as to what it was we'd read; they'd blame their dulled memories on breast-feeding hormones. One friend with an infant couldn't cope with the strains of motherhood at all; she retreated into the garage and sat on the washing machine doing bong hits between diapers changes. And they all had husbands. With jobs. And nice houses. Why would I ever want to undertake this on my own? First I wanted a husband. With a job. And a nice house. Or even just a starter cottage with one bedroom.
If I did get stuck listening to their sales pitch for sperm banks and/or Chinese orphans, I listened with a skeptical ear. Sure, their friend from graduate school had become a single mother and was as happy as a clam, but that was her, not me. I was barely making ends meet on my own. Journalism is not a profitable business, at least not for reporters and feature writers. I didn't see how I could support a baby.
We tend to be united in fear, but divided in bravery. We look for excuses for why we can't do what someone else does. I suppose to these kindly women, I looked like a natural candidate for single motherhood, a semi-artsy, Bay Area resident who did yoga, voted left and wore jeans to work. But what they didn't know about me was that I was not interested in a non-traditional life. Beyond the financial constraints of doing it on my own, I longed for partnership with a wonderful man, marriage and then family. Somewhere in the bottom of a box in my closet I had a pair of photos I'd ripped out of the Washington Post Sunday magazine almost 20 years ago, photos of a dark haired model on a beach, wearing a slim-fitting, lace wedding dress, which I'd thought would be just the kind of dress I'd like to wear to my wedding.
So when I said to April and Laura that I guessed that, if I were pregnant, I'd become a single mother, what I was really thinking was: Jesus, Mary and Joseph, what fool just uttered those words?