In honor of Annie Lamott's Some Assembly Required: A Journal of My Son's First Son coming out into paperback now, I'm rerunning the original blog post about the hardback book today. It's a fantastic book and Annie also has a hilarious essay up on Salon, about her year on Match.com.
I'm completed thrilled to post this blog, for many, many reasons. I don't remember when I first had contact with Annie--I think it was after I read Operating Instructions (though I had been following her career since All New People). But what I do remember is, before I gave birth to my son, I had a miscarriage at three months and people were saying all sorts of ridiculous things to me, like "At least you didn't know the baby," or, "Why'd you have a kid at your age, anyway" I just felt I had to talk to her, and I called and left a message (or maybe I wrote a letter, I don't remember) and then immediately felt like an idiot, because who was I to intrude on her time? I went out to sulk and when I came back there was this ten minute, hilariously funny, incredibly warm message on my answering machine from Annie. It was the first time I laughed since the miscarriage.
I never forgot such incredible kindness.
She's got legions of fans, her books seem to become bestsellers before they are even out of the gate, and she writes about what's really important. I loved Some Assembly Required (written with her incredible son Sam) because she talks about how difficult it is to let go of our children and let them have independence, how thorny, wild and wonderful it can be to navigate from being a mother to being a grandmother, and how love and hope and faith are the glue that holds it all together.
I'm honored, thrilled, and so excited that I can hardly sit still, to also report that Annie will be interviewing me in April 26 at Rakestraw Books in California as part of Algonquin Books Book Club. Please come! (This is yet another example of her incredible generosity and kindness.)
I can't thank Annie enough for coming on this blog--or for everything else. Thanks, thanks, thanks, Annie.
What was it like writing a book with your son? What surprised you about the process?
You and your son Sam also have this incredible honesty with each other. How did you get so lucky to have such a thing?
Maybe it had to do with my being a single mother. Also, I so love and live for truth and honesty in the world, especially because those qualities are so rare; so he grew up with this as a primary value, amidst my very closest friends and my brother, and it can be very addictive.
It seems that so much about the book is about relinquishing control—of where the baby is baptized, of how he is raised,--and yet, it’s a paradox that this letting go actually brings closeness.
I'm so lucky that Sam and Jax still love and depend on me, even though I am so impossible and needy and spoiled (AND such a martyr, although perhaps 75% better.) Letting go is by far the hardest and most important thing we do, daily and over time. As I said in the book, when people chirp, Let go and let God," I literally want to attack them. There's a great line from the recovery community that everything we let go of has claw marks on it, and that is still often true for me. One way I let go is by SOMEHOW not doing certain controlling things--for instance, maybe I hold my tongue instead of sharing my rarely helpful Helpful Thoughts. And that creates an atmosphere of ease, the opposite of clutch and clench, and that means our children don't have to gird themselves defensively against us. So they don't have to bolt from us, and we find ourselves metaphorically sitting together on the couch a little while longer, or riding around in the car enjoying the views together, or the music., or God knows, even each other's presence.
They split up a few months ago and are now living about an hour apart, raising their boy together from two different homes.
What's obsessing you now?
Oh, all the usual things; how the book will do, what my butt looks like, how old one of my dogs has gotten, and how I can possibly survive when she dies; the economy.