I remain perched upon the fence about this book. Don't know how many more of these essays I will read, if any. My ambivalence stems not from any negative feeling about Megan Stienstra's work, but just the opposite. This book hits at every little moment that catches us unaware ,filling us with fear and near immobility.
Fear. That's the theme. That's the word that travels through each essay - sometimes shooting like a bullet, triggering deep seated memories - other times the word crawls along and you don't notice the fear until it it too late to move out of it's way. I'm not talking huge scary moments here. Let me give you an example. Last week I stopped into a local communications franchise (not naming cuz they did nothing wrong). After forty-five minutes of trying to understand what a very patient customer service person attempted to explain, a man walked in with a fully exposed gun in a holster at his hip. Believe or not, I have never seen a handgun before and my reaction frightened me as much as the gun itself. Nothing happened, He just stood there looking like someone who should not have a fun. I had to leave.
Stielstra masterfully takes us into similar experiences from her own life, paralyzing and -thank goodness - sometimes funny. "10, Or the Little Girl Character" reveals child fears and shows us how little moments embed and may never be fully flushed. I never thought about children's dreams before. Now I wonder about them a lot. Do they dream with the same intensity that adults sometime do? Do they puzzle over them? Can kids even determine if what they experienced was a dream or do they think it was some sort of out of sync reality? Making a mistake. Tornado drills. Throwing up in school. All small, yet we don't really understand their impact, do we?
For me, this book is more about questions than answers. Sure, I am fearful of the same things that you all fear, but can the source of my many quirks be traced back to simple, unaddressed fears? Not sure I want to know. Really, I am lucky to be living in a safe, blissful spot and don't want Stielstra or anyone else digging around an untethering weird memories like that parade of goofiness midway though Macbeth. Meta cognition, prompted by Carlos Castaneda , and by Ira Progroff -in a beyond crazy college course where the professor expected (wanted?) to see us dramatically dissolve into tears were enough for me. For the record, I never cried, and it was the only grad class I didn't not ace. Instructor said I appeared distracted most days. In reality, I was trying to control my inappropriate eye rolls as she ruminated on the mistakes she made in her broken marriage, the biggest being not writing a mission statement for their relationship. Egads.
Anyway, I guess this is one of those journey stories and hopefully by the end, after the author has dissected several deer hearts (hence the cover) dealt with poverty, motherhood, and the current White House residents, perhaps she will fell better. As for me, I feel pretty good right now and find that my perch upon the fence suits me just fine. However, this is work worth reading even in small bites.
Thanks for stopping by.