After a couple of whirlwind days from Madrid to Bilbao to San Sebastien, we have found ourselves parked in the Pyrenees. We are, according to my plan, supposed to be dashing from this museum to that castle on to this medieval town before taking in that cave on our way to Barcelona, but we happened upon a campground bungalow from which we have the most stunning view of a mountain and we seem unable to drag ourselves away.
The lads are making awkward, but exciting, friendships with other holidaying lads all of whom have footballs and speak not English, but the universal language of football. The lads, to their perpetual disgust, were not allowed to bring their footballs on the plane, but they are drawing on the whip-strong currency of slingshots which I let them buy from the souvenir shop in the last medieval town we did visit (insert whispered discussion between the mister and me, with the mister whispering such things as, ‘WTF are you thinking?’ and me saying, ‘It’s okay, I’ve told them they’re only allowed to shoot rolled up socks and paper balls’. And you can decide for yourself which one of us is currently saying, ‘See I told you so.’)
I was supposed to take the sitting-in-one-spot opportunity to get in some extra language study, because school starts on Monday morning (8 am!) and I’m already going to be the one with the slightly older brain which can’t quite retain what it was told this morning, so every little bit helps, but it hasn’t quite worked out like that. I’ve managed to get the books out and spread them across the table on our verandah (or whatever quaint European term I should be using for this spot), but then my eyes and my brains are all, ‘Ser. Soy, eres, es…Oh, my, look at that fairy floss cloud floating across the top of that mountain,’ and, ‘Estar. Estoy, estas, esta, oh, look, just look at the green of those leaves,’ and ‘este, esta, estos, esters, oh, is that a butterfly’ and then just when I am, I really absolutely am about to get into it, the mister asks, ‘Would you like a cervaza?’ and it would be rude to say anything but si no, and before you know it, another day has passed and not another verb memorised.
I have, however, managed to finish off a number of books that I’ve started in the last six months, but abandoned even though I know I want to finish them. (A tangent, and one I will come back to another day – I’ve been using my kindle a lot, and find that it is far too easy to buy new books and forget that you’ve bought them, and also that I am much more likely to leave a kindle book and not come back to it).
I think I’ve got time before the mister suggests another round of cervezas to tell you some more (but not all) of what I was thinking as I finished off Tina Fey’s Bossypants. I did love reading it, and I think you’d love it too. Good laughs, lots to identify with, easy to read, but still with enough to make you think.
But it is not flawless, and I found my reading experience to be tinged with a little frustration. I think I found it frustrating because I could feel her holding back on so muchl. Everyone who writes about themselves holds back, but a good memoir makes you think you’re being told it all. (This isn’t a memoir law or anything, it’s just something I made up and it doesn’t have to be as true for you as it is for me).
After reading Bossypants, there is still too much I want to know. Some of this is personal stuff – I’d like to know more about her relationship with her husband for example (or at least I’d like to feel like I know more about it, even if I really don’t – good memoirists can do that). But mostly, I’d like to know more about her feminism. I’d like her to be a bit more explicit about it.
Tina Fey came under some heavy feminist fire for Baby Mama, and although I read a lot of what was written, as with so much feminist writing from the US, there was a whole stack of it I didn’t quite get, so I made (and make) no greater observation of Baby Mama than that I don’t think it was an especially fabulous movie and wasn’t that a pity because I really do like Tina Fey.
Date Night was a fun romantic comedy which helped me to fill in a few of the seemingly interminable hours between Abu Dhabi and Sydney, but it was entirely ruined in the final climax scene where Tina Fey’s character turns to Steve Carrell’s and all but throws her hands in the air, and maybe even weeps as she begs, ‘Please, please save us, I am simply not cut out for this, but you are a man and so you must know what to do,’ and he does and the movie is rendered nothing more than a Knight in Shining Armour-Princess fairytale, and it left me feeling a little bit grumpy, but then I ordered another gin and tonic and went back to staring at nothing in particular and waiting for the time and the ground beneath us to pass.
I don’t hold any of this against Tina Fey the person, and it has never hampered my admiration for her. Maybe that’s because I implicitly trust the gender politics of most successful women. Maybe it’s simply because I can’t not admire anyone who has made a success of working in the blokey, blokey world of comedy, and I would forgive them any number of concessions and compromises that they might have had to make to get that far. Or maybe it’s because I love 30 Rock, so I’ll forgive her any number of sins.
But overall, I feel like she is too often trying to have a bet both ways. She writes a memoir which isn’t quite a memoir. She gives us the flawed Liz Lemon who is always talking about, and eating, junk food, but remains as skinny as a rake. She celebrates the feminism of her work, but does not hold herself accountable for the Baby Mama moments.
In a way, she doesn’t have to justify herself or her actions feminist or otherwise, because she does not celebrate feminist victories as something of her own creation. Of her time on SNL she writes one of the most fascinating sentences of this book, ‘The women in the cast took over the show in that decade, and I had the pleasure of being there to witness it.’
What does this witness mean? Is this self-deprecation taken to its extreme? Is it misplaced modesty? Or is this the ultimate in ‘all care, no responsibility’?
I don’t think I’d care, and possibly I wouldn’t have noticed, except that I’ve been reflecting these last few months on the consequences of having lived a life in which I am constantly trying to hedge my bets, to have my cake and eat it to, to make my bed but never lie in it. It’s quite a journey that one.
All of which led me to download Roseanne Barr’s Roseannearchy, of which more at a later date because right now I have bottles of beer to drink while I wonder at large and glorious mountains.