So, I’m back to work, which means I’m back in the pumping saddle again (male readers: this is a figure of speech; such an item does not exist. Or maybe it does. I don’t know. I’m pretty naive when it comes to things you’d have to buy either on the Internet or at Lover’s Lane). For you lucky women who have not had to experience the delights of repetitive daily pumping, let me tell you the best and worst thing about it:
It’s fucking boring.
You can’t really do much while it’s going on. You’re stuck in one spot, and your options of what you can get accomplished are pretty limited. When Phaedra was a baby, I had my own office, so I could shut my door and answer emails while pumping (sorry, former coworkers). With Bella and Surrey, this was not the case. Fortunately, being forced to sit in one spot for 10-15 minute increments two to three times daily means you can get a significant amount of reading done. Another bonus to reading is that it motivates me to actually get up and go do it. If I don’t have a good book to look forward to reading, I can get lazy, and before you know it, I’ve accidentally skipped a pumping session. Not cool.
So, let’s take a stroll down mammary lane (AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA) and browse through some of the books that I have successfully finished while pumping:
Wuthering Heights: I read this basically for a couple of reasons: a) because I generally enjoy Victorian literature, and b) it just seems like a book one should read if one is into Victorian literature and possesses a degree in literature. So I did. My opinion? Meh. Maybe if I read it for a class and could have a discussion with other people about the themes, symbolism, etc., I might be more enthusiastic. Reading it in 10-15 minute intervals only allows for a very surface reading, and left me with the feeling that I’d just read a very weird, dark romance novel minus all the sex scenes.
It Sucked and Then I Cried: This book, by Heather Armstrong of Dooce, is fantastic. It chronicles her first pregnancy and subsequent battles with postpartum depression, which culminates in a nervous breakdown and short stay at a psychiatric unit. Despite the sunny subject matter, I swear that this is one of the funniest books I’ve ever read. Her writing style is so sharp and sarcastic. Even if you’ve never dealt with postpartum depression, the overarching theme that mothers don’t necessarily need to be thrilled with every single aspect of motherhood still makes it a worthwhile read.
Eat Me: The Food and Philosophy of Kenny Shopshin: One time, I was on this documentary kick. I would browse through the TV listings for documentaries, and record anything that sounded remotely interesting. One that I watched was called I Like Killing Flies. It’s about this tiny, very eccentric little diner in New York City with amazing food, a hard-core group of regulars, and strict rules governing behavior (for my Ann Arbor peeps, think Blimpy Burger, but with other food besides burgers). The proprietor, Kenny Shopshin, will cook just about anything you want for you, but will throw you out on your ass if you talk on a cell phone in his restaurant, or try to bring in a party larger than four people. Why? Because it’s his fucking restaurant, that’s why. One day, I’m gonna go there, but in the meantime, I read his book. It’s actually very insightful, thoughtful, and witty. Oh, and the recipes seem good, too. I actually learned a great deal about cooking from reading his book. Not that I put any of it to good use, but still, I know it.
The Living Dead: For obvious reasons, short stories are my favorite thing to read while getting my pump on. I hate to stop reading right when I’ve just gotten into something, so if I can finish a story (or at least the majority of it) in a short timespan, it’s much better. This is an anthology of short stories that somehow involve zombies. While zombies are the #1 thing that frighten the shit out of me, and will automatically disqualify me from watching a movie, I really like reading about them (yeah, I don’t get it either). You would think that most zombie stories are pretty much the same story just recycled, but in reality, the stories in this anthology contained a wide variety of zombie types, perspectives, and genres of writing. There were funny stories, sci-fi stories, romance, drama, horror, etc. There were authors I’d never heard of, and huge authors, like Stephen King and Laurell K. Hamilton. Anthologies like this are also nice because they are a good way to sample new authors. If I read a short story by an author and I like it, chances are I’ll enjoy his longer fiction. I don’t have to get fifty pages into someone’s novel just to find out I think their writing sucks.
Don’t look so fucking smug, Joseph Conrad.
The Mirror Effect: How Celebrity Narcissism is Ruining America: This is a book by Dr. Drew and his sociologist pal, Dr. S. Mark Young. I was a huge Loveline fan in the Adam Carolla era, and still think Dr. Drew is the real deal. I remember him talking about a personality survey they would give every celebrity that came on their radio show for some research project Dr. Drew was working on. This book basically analyzes the results of those personality surveys. His main (terrifying) point is this: yes, most celebrities are narcissistic. He even argues that this is a necessity: to be successful in the acting or music field, one must believe that they are better than anyone else, or else they would never put in the amount of effort necessary to succeed. However, the media, along with reality TV making everyone and their mother instant celebrities, has cultivated an increase in narcissistic personality traits in American society, especially in teens and young adults. It’s a good balance of scholarly and layperson in terms of writing style, and a fascinating read.
The Dark Half: I’m a ginormous Stephen King fan. Every time I think I’ve read all of his books, I find another one on Amazon or on my own goddamn bookshelf that I haven’t touched yet. This was the case with The Dark Half. I bought it at a used book store or library book sale and just forgot about it. It’s kind of a weird story, very reminiscent of Secret Window (the short story or crappy movie of the same name). Lots of birds, lots of weird writers. Your run-of-the-mill Stephen King novel.
What am I reading now, you ask? A Dance with Dragons by George R. R. Martin. If you consider yourself anywhere near a nerd, and you have not read this series, drop what you are doing right now and order the first book of this series from Amazon (after you finish reading this post, of course). It’s like hard-R-rated high fantasy: dragons, swords, kings, shit like that. I usually can’t stand that kind of book, but with all the overlapping storylines, scandals, and personality clashes, you kind of forget about all the castles and horses and start to wonder when that bitch Cersei is finally going to get what she deserves.