Friday, February 27, 2009

Eat Pray Love

Exterior shot of the Eisemann Center

[Editor's note: before I start this post, I have to give a shout out and a big HAPPY BIRTHDAY to one of my best friends, the matron of honor at my wedding and my college roommate, Cathy. Best wishes!]

Earlier this week, I went to hear Elizabeth Gilbert speak at the Eisemann Center. Her talk was part of the Dallas Museum of Art's series, Arts and Letters Live.

Ms. Gilbert has written four books, but her most well known book is Eat, Pray, Love. I read that book last fall and found her to be a very good writer. I enjoyed her prose probably more than I enjoyed the actual content of the book, not that I didn't like the content. I'm just emphasizing that I liked the writing. She can paint the scene for you in words, and she is very open and honest about her feelings in any given situation. It was a good book and I would highly recommend it. Even if you don't agree with her point of view, hearing her point of view is still interesting.

I decided to snap a few shots in and around the Eisemann Center to include in this post. Most of them really stink, as I was hastily shooting with one hand, trying to be inconspicuous in a lobby full of book-loving women. Seriously, you would have thought we were there for an Oprah taping. I digress. I'll share the photos with you, of course, because that's what I do and you must endure it if you keep coming back to this blog. The photos are interspersed today - with commentary all their own just underneath. The paragraphs are not in sync with the photos today. (No comments that say, "Or any other day, either, sister." Thank you.)

A water feature outside the center.
If you look closely, you can see photographers with tripods - must have been a photography class...

I was trying to get a cool angle shot of the building - somehow it just feels uneasy.

Ms. Gilbert had a lot of great things to say. First, she was funny. Second, if you've read the book, she DOES end up with the Brazilian. Third, she now lives in New Jersey with her husband and runs an import business.

She told some very funny stories about being in the store - one day when she introduced her husband, Jose - pronounced JO-ZEY because he's Brazilian and they pronounce the "J"- the woman asked her how it was spelled and she told her - J-O-S-E. The woman, when Jose walked away, whispered to her, "Honey, you are mispronouncing your husband's name - it's HOE-ZEY." Like, she had been mispronouncing it the whole time and her husband didn't have the heart to tell her.

A fuzzy shot of the will call window, where my tickets were being held for me.

Books for sale...drool.

Another funny story came out of the fact that sometimes people seek out their store because of her book and want to meet her. One day, this woman came in the store and sort of quietly said to Jose, "You know, the woman who owns this store is a VERY FAMOUS AUTHOR." Jose said, "Oh yeah? Who is it?" And the woman said, "Barbara Kingsolver." You won't get this unless you're into books. It's funny, nonetheless, to us book nerds.

She talked about her next book that she just finished - it's on marriage. She wrote it once and hated it and decided to start over after a six month break from it. This time, she feels it's really good.

Her other three books - which I now own because I am a SUCKER at these sorts of events - are Pilgrims, which is a collection of short stories, Stern Men about Maine lobster fishermen, and The Last American Male, about this man in North Carolina who tries to live off the earth, etc. While the third book listed there was a National Book Award finalist, none of her books sold really well until Eat, Pray, Love, which is a humongous hit.

The aforementioned "abouts" are just what I've heard, since I have yet to read any of them. They are now at the bottom of a very big pile of books I've purchased, mean to read, haven't read. Some women covet shoes. Or handbags. Jewelry even. Not me - God help me, I covet books. My house will fall in one day from the weight of them.

A little info kiosk near the front door.
This one is blurry, but more interesting, in my opinion...

...than this clearer one.

Some cool art on the wall of the lobby.

A sign in the lobby before the event announced she'd sign afterwards.

Other insights from the lecture - she does not have a regular meditation practice, which is first amazing to believe after you read this book, and second leaves hope for the rest of us. She gave advice to a girl heading out for a world tour to always dress modestly in southeast Asia so you don't embarrass the women there.

Another tidbit - she sold the rights to the book to someone making a movie of it. But, sadly, the lead role will be played by Julia Roberts. Too bad. It's said to begin shooting this summer.

These are the books I bought...
...they kept coming out blurry and I knew it so I kept snapping... I can see the purse camera was more interested in the floor.

She also talked about her decision to not have children. She talked a lot first about how she cannot tell you what you should do in your life about anything, and about how in modern times we all have so many choices that we suffer from having to make so many choices and worry so much about making the right one. She also talked about somehow everyone needs to find peace with their decisions and stop worrying about what other people are doing, or what might have been. And, how thinking, "if I had only...or if I could only..." will never lead to contentment - when you get the new job or new house or whatever you "could only", you'll realize that isn't it. So, you have to live boldly and believe in your decisions.

My friend Monique, who went with me.
I made her take this photo - she didn't want to.
I told her the blog needed it. Notice the uncomfortable body language.
What a good friend I am.

Inside the auditorium before it started and photos wouldn't be allowed.

Anyway, she said she had to think a lot about the child question while writing her new book on marriage because they are so intertwined. And, she decided that having children was not for her because she could see the yearning and euphoric longing her friends would feel about children and she would feel that for a good used book store. She also said when studying cultures, she has found throughout time and different civilizations every civilization has had at least 10% of women who do not have children, and sometimes up to 26%, as in the 1920's in the US. And, she has decided that since it's everywhere in all sorts of civilizations, that she believes these women are needed in that capacity - that it is a necessity in society for some women to not have children and fulfill THAT role in said society.

She asked us to think of our own families and the important roles the spinster aunts or women without children had played in that family - stepping up to fill in when called upon or helping in very real ways to raise each and every child in that family through being a role model, a friend, etc. She said she was very proud and happy to be a member of the "Auntie Brigade" and that she thinks of herself as a "Spare-ent" to lots of children, and this is her role. And, she excels at it and loves it and yearns for nothing more.

Afterwards, getting ready for the signing - that's her - the blonde in black.

A little closer.
I also totally interrupted what my good friend Monique was saying to take this photo.
Man I'm a good friend.

She also said a study had just concluded on the happiness of older women. The researchers had tried to find any correlation between having children and not having children and the overall contentment with life in older women in retirement centers and nursing homes. They found there was ABSOLUTELY NO COLLABORATION between whether a woman had children or not and happiness later in life. The only correlations present with regard to happiness in this population had to do with money and health. So, quit telling the people without children they'll be sad and lonely when they're old. Instead, tell them to take care of themselves and save their pennies. In the mattress in today's economy, of course. Geesh.

It was refreshing to hear someone so completely at home in their choices and in their life on this topic and every other one. I am generally very content in my life, but sometimes think I need to justify my choices to others, but hearing her let me realize that knowing and feeling you are right - in your gut - is really all you need, and how lucky you are to feel that. That your intuition is probably right. I am going to try to dwell "in the gut" on this more often. Less second guessing. More dwelling on the contentment.

The book signing underway. LONG line. We didn't wait in it.

OK, so this post has gotten way too heavy for a Friday. So, I need to wrap it up. We were supposed to have a little get together this weekend to celebrate "Open that Bottle Night" with some friends, and I was going to tell you all about it in this space next week, but S is still sick - so we had to cancel it. Please keep him in your thoughts and hope he gets well soon. And, as far as next week goes - I'll post a bunch of other stuff you don't really ever need to know but I'll tell you anyway.

Best wishes for a wonderful weekend as we usher in a new month!

1 comment:

  1. That fountain in front of the Eisemann is brought to you by the same company who did the Fountains at Bellagio in LV.


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