How was your Thanksgiving? Ours was lovely, spent at one of Neal's sister's. Three of his five siblings were together, along with spouses and adult children and, for the first time ever, our great-niece Meadow. She'll be one in January and was a hoot to have around for the big feast. My sister-in-law was sweet enough to make a vegetarian stuffing for me, and I savored every bite.
Despite the joy of the day, or perhaps because of it, I was more homesick for my family than I've been since I moved away from home at 21. One of my sisters is in the hospital (she'll be fine), so my folks had to change their plans in order to be with her. My mom was so, so sad that M. wouldn't be out for the holiday, that she would have to postpone dinner with my oldest brother and his family. There is no way my mom would ever leave one of us all alone on a holiday, but I think more than anything she was just heartbroken that my sister and brother couldn't enjoy each other as they'd planned. That, along with the terrible news from India dampened the spirit of the day.
I've been struggling with a cold for almost two weeks, and yesterday and today, I gave in to it. I hunkered down on my little loveseat, my personal hot water bottle on my lap, and ripped through Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar. I can't believe I've gone this long without reading it, but as I commented to Neal, I'm really well-read when it comes to dead, white English guys and totally useless when it comes to American authors.
If, like me, you've missed The Bell Jar, then I say, pick it up fast. This is the story of Esther, a bright young woman who has made a life of winning scholarships and academic prizes, who is in danger of breaking under the pressure of expectations. Her narration is articulate and often truly funny. Her love of words comes through as she writes with precision about the sense of being under the bell jar. The most frightening line of the book occurs after Esther's first electroshock therapy treatment, which we later learn was incorrectly (and traumatically) given. Her mother says, "I knew you'd decide to be all right." I got shivers as I read that and wondered how many young people suffering from mental illness have faced not only poor treatment, but such terrible misunderstanding.
Literary critics have called Esther the female Holden Caulfield, but I argue that she is much more important, more articulate, and as a narrator brings greater self-awareness to the page. But then, I've never had much empathy for Holden.
I apologize for the morose tone of this post. I promise pictures of knitting and a better attitude later in the week. Until then, I hope each of you knows that I am thankful for our on-line community, and I appreciate that you visit my little corner of the Internet as much as you do!