I asked the TSA officer if many people refused the X-Ray body scans. She looked at me as if I were crazy. “No.”
“Ah,” I said, “just the paranoids like me then.” That received a hearty chuckle. Following the wisdom of Allison Kilkenny and Jamie Kilstein, I don't quite trust the security or the privacy ensured by the TSA about the body scan images.
I'm really tired. The wedding, after all, was beautiful and fun, but I was in bed too late (1:00 am) and up too early (5:40 am) to catch my flight to Atlanta, then on to Toronto, then to the Netherlands—hours and hours later. My mom and step-dad drove me to the airport. We all must have been a bit drowsy, because no one pointed out that I have mascara and eyeliner smudged half an inch below my bottom eye lashes (the right side is worse). Classy way to show up for a conference!
The Memphis airport is crowded, especially with what seems to be church groups headed on mission trips to exotic parts of the world. The orange shirts are going to somewhere in Central America . I'm guessing the red shirts are a church group, because the front of their tees say “Send Me.” Seems Christian-y. My studies in global feminism, and my brushes with postcolonial theory, make me skeptical of such trips, even though I know nothing about the details. Can short-term ventures to other countries, which we say are struggling, me done with dignity and respect? As much as my own research can, perhaps, when I sit in London, Ontario (or airports flying across North America) flapping my fingers on the keyboard, writing about contract pregnant women in Gujarat, India.
This post is for my college buddy Will who gave me an Ann Lamott book, Traveling Mercies, when I was in Memphis previously. I read the book on the plane to Memphis. I did not like it.
By the end of the book, I kinda liked it. About a third of the way in, I thought it atrocious. Some of its tenderness got to me the more I read. Some individual stories I liked. For example, there was a lovely story titled “Grace,” which not only had a nice point, but also played off the word 'grace' in entertaining and charming ways. Lamott's style was okay, I just found her voice, generally speaking, to be pretentious and the book a bit forced. In the introduction, in which Lamott leads you through her downfall so that you better appreciate the mercies she shares along the way, I didn't feel a sense of connection with her story. I didn't care, and it just seemed like she was setting herself up for eventual praise and admiration. I also felt like she was too public. I felt like she was writing for an audience in a large auditorium, not for me. I felt she was too intimate without it being meaningful or important.
In the end, Lamott is either Christian story-teller lite, or she is incredibly deep. I admit I was a fairly uncharitable reader, and though I tried to see the humanity, to me it just seemed to miss the fatty juice that makes a vegan chickpea-quinoa-kale loaf so tasty. I decided to give the book to my brother. As a hipster (my half-hearted label, not his), he sometimes appreciates pretentious things. When I asked him if he liked Lamott, he said he loved her. “Don't you find her a bit pretentious?” I asked.
His look was half withering, half despairing: “That's what makes her books so good.” Well, there you have it. When I gave my brother the book, it turned out he already owned it. I've left it on his bed anyway, with a note that says to pass it along to someone, as Will passed it to me.