Posts Tagged ‘Simone de Beauvoir’

The word “mine” is a possessive word. When first considering this topic I was stymied because I’m not really possessive about anything. But I thought about my cats and how they can be possessive. They sometimes spat with each other over places to sleep, as evidenced by my post, “Hey You! Get Outta My Sun!”

One thing they get grabby and possessive about is laundry. I tend to dump it on the bed when I get ready to fold it; if I get distracted or called away, I come back to at least one kitty making a bed there. Check out Zoee’s face…Mama, don’t even think about taking this towel away!

Aimee on the other hand is vigilant; she does not trust me enough to even try to sleep.

By the time I finished putting the kitties’ photos together, I thought of something that I’m possessive about. One of my first jobs was as a legal secretary for an attorney who had left a big firm to go out on his own. You could say we sort of “started out together.” As his practice grew and more people were hired, I started thinking about a career move. I decided to go back to school for an MA in English and I left to work for a publishing company. For a “going away” gift, the attorney’s wife gave me one of the most thoughtful presents I have ever received: three first edition books by Simone de Beauvoir, my favorite author at that time.

First Edition books by Simone de Beauvoir

First Edition books by Simone de Beauvoir

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The song, “Rattlesnakes” by Lloyd Cole and the Commotions is one of my favorite songs; I consider it part of the soundtrack of my life. It sent me on a journey, emotionally and intellectually; it reached its fingers out into different areas of my life. Here is the story.

I read the novel, Play It As It Lays by Joan Didion in a women’s literature class in college, and it hit me then. It hit me so hard emotionally I couldn’t write the required paper about it; I ended up writing a poem. My professor called me in for a meeting, “This isn’t an analysis, how can I grade this?” We actually had a good talk about my emotional reaction to the book and about my poem (I didn’t know the professor was a poet). When she was convinced I understood and appreciated the book, she gave me a B+. I found out Joan Didion and I had the same birthday, and I went on to read more of her books; she became a favorite author.

Flash forward a few years, and Lloyd Cole and the Commotions came out with the song, “Rattlesnakes“. When I heard it I knew right away what it was about; I was captured again. (Note: rattlesnakes are mentioned on the very first page of the book and are an important symbol throughout; the character’s name is Maria, not Jodie…but isn’t “Jodie” similar to “Joanie”?) But this is where the song took me on a journey. I checked out pictures of Eve Marie Saint and “On the Waterfront,” then I checked out Simone de Beauvoir. Ironically, I had always had an interest in the existentialist Jean Paul Sartre, and wonder of wonders, Simone de Beauvoir was his lifelong companion. I picked up her autobiographical book, “Force of Circumstance” (the Circumstance referred to in the song) and then most of her other books. I named my cat after her. I also went back to read many of Sartre’s books. I took copious notes with the intention of writing a fiction novel about the couple, but life went on and I never did. (I even visited Sartre’s grave on a trip to Paris; de Beauvoir died the year after I was there.) I can say, though, I’m quite an expert on their lives. All from a song – what an amazing journey.

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