Because I’m a masochist, I decided the best way to read Carrie Fisher’s memoir, The Princess Diarist, was not to read it at all, but to listen to it. I knew going in that it was Fisher herself who narrated her story, detailing her life before, during, and after Star Wars: A New Hope. Like many of the people Fisher writes about in her memoir, I was introduced to Star Wars at a young age. I think I was seven; my brother would have been two. We rented A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi on VHS and our lives were never the same. I wrote ardent fan mail to my heroes — addressed to Leia, Han, and Luke. My brother wept openly when Darth Vader died. We kept A New Hope, never returning it to the video store down the block. It was, and is, part of our lives.
“Are you going to have this for the rest of your life?”
“Wow. That really sucks.”
The question was put to me by a dear friend, from whom the abrupt vernacular felt comforting. The things that ‘suck’ are myriad – exhaustion, malaise, fever, low-threshold for even the mildest of illnesses, blisters. I have been relegated into a world of self-care by necessity. Self-care, or else.
I am not one to necessarily neglect my health; I know the warning signs of my body. I know I’ve had too much sugar when I get tongue ulcers – or I’ve been drinking too much if I break out – turbulence in airplanes is a direct connection to my anxiety, as is being late, and not hearing from friends in a ‘reasonable’ amount of time. These are the banalities of being a human in a body. But I know it can be much worse – it can be war.
This week, Mari was joined in the studio by journalist Gabriella Geisinger.
They played a great selection of music, including tunes from Peggy Sue, Gaptooth, Grip Tight and Jesca Hoop, and had a bit of a chin wag about the recent Reclaim The Night event and amazing charities such as Sisters Uncut.
Listen back to the show here:
I don’t expect Claudia to answer the phone, so when her voice crackles through the speaker, I rush quickly out of my office to the balcony, stepping into the frigid October afternoon. I’m in London, and when Claudia says hello her voice is heavy with sleep. It’s only 8am on the east coast.
I’ve called to ask her if there’s anything she wants me to leave out in this piece I’m writing – “about you – about us,” I vaguely explain.
“Write whatever you want. I trust you,” Claudia says.
“Famous last words!”
Her laugh, which is more like a giggle, is infectious. She laughs like a woman unencumbered, and it makes me laugh too. Claudia is excited by the piece, though not because she is its subject. She pauses thoughtfully, and then says “mentoring is not something we really talk about in higher education. We talk a lot about advisors but not so much about mentors. About someone who sticks with you through it all.”
She would know. Claudia Highbaugh is the Dean of Religious and Spiritual Life at Connecticut College. Her previous academic institutions include both Yale and Harvard, but it was at the small liberal arts college where I met her, in the Autumn of 2007. She was teaching a freshman seminar: Examining Art Through Religion and Culture.