from A Girl is a Half-formed Thing by Eimear McBride


Will you sit, he says. No, I want she says. I want to see my son. p 1

I have a confession. Ever since I started listening to Serial, I have become a podcast junkie. Somehow, in the past few months, I have become the type of person who knows what day of the week certain shows drop. Someone who goes out of her way to make sure that certain ones get downloaded. I am now that person who goes down to the basement at midnight and rides a stationary bike and listens to people talk about books and music and film.

I don’t really know how it happened. I think if you had asked me six months ago if I would rather ride my bike late at night or dress up in a character costume outside the tax preparer’s office I might go with the latter. That torch has a certain amount of charm.

Yet here I am surprising myself and taking risks. I didn’t know I had it in me. As much as I have been mourning this new life without T here, I see now I may have been focusing on the wrong bit. It’s not the “half” part—as in half over—but rather the “formed” part. As in: I’m still a work in progress. Maybe when a child goes off to college a mother is really a half-formed thing.

I was talking with a friend this week and in an effort to cheer me up, she gave me this analogy. She told me to imagine that I was living in a novel. And this part of my life, she said, was only 200 pages in; and there were still lots of reading to go before the end of the book. And who knows what might happen on the very next page. I am clinging to this thought that an exciting bit might be as close as the next few paragraphs. Maybe it’s silly, but I love the thought of living in a book.

Most of my favorite podcasts involve books and book recommendations—most of them from BookRiot. Tuesdays mornings I wait for the new episode of Liberty and Rebecca’s “All the Books” to appear on my device and sigh with a sense of relief when I see it there. This week I listened to the new show: “Get Booked.” Some of the readers’ questions focused on Yanagihara’s “A Little Life” and the hangover that ensues after you finish. One of the readers asked for a book that would challenge them and Jenn Northington recommended McBride’s novel. The next morning I found it amongst my TBR stack and started in. I knew it would read like a foreign language and I am slogging along, getting little bits and pieces of clarity. It’s like running a marathon. There’s some pain in the limbs you haven’t used for awhile but also a sense of pride as I make my way through and I get what she’s trying to say. I can feel some of the fog lifting from my brain and I know that my baby steps are actually taking me somewhere. I wouldn’t have thought such an intense book would be my choice right now, but it feels good to connect on such an emotional level.

I can tell I’m getting a little stronger both from the mental and physical workouts. Yesterday I hosted a Curiosity Day event at the Library. The kids came for Curious George stories, pancakes and a visit from the fire department—who brought their glorious engine for the kids to sit in and admire. One of the little girls dressed in a tutu and sparkly shoes climbed into the cab and I could hear her exclaim to anyone who would listen, “Look at my big strong muscles!” I thought, “Yep, You show me yours and I’ll show you mine.”
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