born with teeth-kate mulgrew

“For a certain kind of actress, nothing serves romance better than a new part. When separation is imminent, suitcases are just about to be packed, and the script, marked and highlighted, lies on the bed, love is at its most tender.” (64)

“Actresses. What a bunch of sad saps we are, I thought. Madly in love with the child. Madly in love with the craft. Trying desperately to forge an alliance between the two, and constantly failing. If I were a man, I said to myself, none of this would be in question. My children would respect me, my wife would honor me, and everyone would exalt the work. But turn the knife just slightly to the left, and what you have is a harried woman sneaking out before dawn, cracking the whip for sixteen hours on a soundstage, creeping back home under cover of night, forever explaining, forever apologizing, forever in conflict. Picasso wasn’t in conflict, you can bet your bottom dollar on that. He said, Scram! I need to work, and his mistresses and their spawn ran for the hills. Dickens wasn’t in conflict. He had ten children and wrote as many novels in almost as many years, because it was both understood and appreciated that he was gifted, famous, and rich. The male artist has always been respected.” (268)

“In my naivete as a mother and my egocentricity as an actress, I honestly thought that seeing me on the screen would make my children proud.” (265)

“It’s hard to know what’s in a person’s heart when she never says good-bye.” (83)

it’s that last line that was the first to jump out at me from my notes this morning, the one to move me to tears. i suppose it sums up the occasional longing that i’ve felt over the past three decades or so to know something about my mother. in this case, kate is talking about missing her mother’s death, and in mine-i’m feeling about missing my mother’s life. but in a lot of ways, this story resonates because of all the things that we’re expected to do and be as women, which ironically i know to be false through my mother’s absence. she has taught me that we don’t have to be anyone’s daughter/sister/mother/wife, even if we are all of those things.

i wondered about the process of this book, why she omitted orange, but i suppose this career relaunch is one that she’s still currently thriving in, and it was the platform to highlight all of the other milestones and highlights of her much storied career thus far. this material was more memoir-y than the present, and the reader gets to draw her or own inspirations on how such a dynamo has sustained an acting career way beyond the prescribed expiration date that we are given. the challenges of life that she has opened up about and woven throughout this story, which, i suppose are less woven and more difficult to extract because they are woven into who she has become are honest and generous, and i was moved to tears at least thrice.

i missed the talk that she gave at the reference library, so perhaps there will be more of this to be gleaned from the talk or the q&a, so one day, i will watch that. in the meanwhile, i will sit in the space between season two and season three of the show, because the fact that so much time and space was given to those two matriarchs is rare, even though it’s problematic because it paints the prisoners as lifelong degenerates scrambling for a top spot and doesn’t implicate the guards or the overarching prison industrial complex nearly enough.

the overwhelming sense of her gratitude must have been help-full in her life-from the writing in of her young pregnancy to the soap opera that she was in, the do-over for the star trek audition, and meeting her daughter late in life-i am floored by how strong she is, and how empowered she has been in the shaping of her own life. i bow to you, miss mulgrew, i bow to you.

“It is extraordinary what two women, complete strangers to each other, can negotiate over coffee and buttered toast. Within minutes, we had accomplished our respective missions.” (297)


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