Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Planting Dandelions by Kyran Pittman

Planting Dandelions: Field Notes From a Semi-Domesticated Life

From Goodreads:  Introducing a writer with a keen eye, a wicked tongue, and an appealing take on family.

In the family of Jen Lancaster and Elizabeth Gilbert, Kyran Pittman is the laid-back middle sister: warm and witty and confiding, with an addictively smart and genuine voice-but married with three kids and living in the heartland. Relatable and real, she writes about family in a way that highlights all its humor, while at the same time honoring its depth.

A regular contributor to Good Housekeeping, Pittman is well loved because she is funny and honest and self-deprecating, because her own household is in chaos ("semi-domesticated"), and because she inspires readers in their own domestic lives. In these eighteen linked, chronological essays, Pittman covers the first twelve years of becoming a family, writing candidly and hilariously about things like learning to maintain a marriage over time; dealing with the challenges of sex after childbirth; saying good-bye to her younger self and embracing the still attractive, forty-year-old version; and trying to "recession- proof" her family (i.e., downsize to avoid foreclosure).

From a fresh new talent, celebrating the joys and trials of a new generation of parents, Planting Dandelions is an entertaining tribute to choosing the white-picket fence over the other options available, even if you don't manage to live up to its ideals every day.

My Take:  Kyran Pittman is an essayist.  She takes the every day conundrums and articulates the crux of the issues. She writes honestly and sometimes painfully. Although the essays are organized in chronological order, each can stand on its own.

We enter Pittman's life during a fork in her road. She has abandoned her marriage and her husband to meet up with an internet love interest and run away with him. She's non-traditional and averse to commitment and conformity. She rides the edge of reason like a well worn horse and that's the way she likes it. I found this introduction to the author brave and raw. She makes no excuses for her behavior. She tells the reader she was a screw-up and her husband was a good man. She starts the book in adultery and I don't want to like her. But I do.

The internet boyfriends turns out to be the man she marries and they pursue their lives as a couple seeking non-conformity. And then something shifts. What she really wants is to belong. She wants to white picket fence and the minivan and the things that come with suburban housewife. Next thing we know, they are the proud parents of three small sons and struggling through the trials of parenthood, financial crisis, loving intangible objects, adjusting, aging, and all the subjects in between. How could I not like the woman who provides pictures of the emotions I feel?

This book was best read in small doses. It's a nightstand book or even a bathroom book. It is funny, in fact, hilarious and sad and heartbreaking, and real. Very well written.