The best NPR moment I caught today was on Fresh Air -- a program I loathe. But Anna Quindlen was the guest. She's a columnist and novelist. Most know her probably from Renee Zellwegger playing an Anna type character in the film One True Thing. Meryl Streep played her dying mother in the film. And the film is based on Anna Quindlen's novel of the same name. She's got a new book, Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake, and was on Fresh Air to talk about that.
GROSS: That's Anna Quindlen, reading from her new book. And would you compare the person you initially was - were...
(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)
GROSS: ...with the person that you invented?
QUINDLEN: Oh, Gloria Steinem uses a phrase that I mention in this book, female impersonators. And she talks about how women respond to societal pressure by becoming some carefully manipulated version of themselves. I think I did that for a long time. I was a pretty gutsy, out-there little girl, the kind of little girl who wasn't afraid of a whole lot, who got into some trouble, who shot off her mouth all the time.
And over time, I think I learned that that was not necessarily what was wanted. Now, those people who read me over the years in the New York Times or Newsweek would argue, I think successfully, that I didn't mitigate that much. But I did enough so that I tried to do more of what I think of as a girl imitation.
GROSS: Which was?
QUINDLEN: Nicer, sweeter, less outspoken, less combative. All of the qualities that you need to be a good opinion columnist tend to be qualities that aren't valued in women. And I think that was a bit of a challenge for me when I became an op-ed-page columnist and has been a challenge for many of us who do that as a living.
GROSS: So who are you now? What parts of the past have you incorporated into your new self, or what parts of you...
QUINDLEN: Oh, I am five again.
(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)
QUINDLEN: I think there came a moment, probably when I was around 50, and I'm not sure exactly why it's around that age, you know, everybody wants to talk about how you're reaching menopause, or your children are leaving the nest, but what I found was really the upside to that, which is I didn't care anymore what other people thought about me.
After all those years as a woman of hearing, you know, not thin enough, not pretty enough, not smart enough, not this enough, not that enough, almost overnight I woke up one morning and thought: I'm enough.
Let's all stop caring and not silence ourselves.
This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"