So I was literally changing my tire on the side of the road, sitting in the gutter, crawling underneath in order to hook up the jack, just so I can remember to go get it fixed or replaced after work today, otherwise, when I might forget and have to try to change it at 6am when driving to work this morning. As it were, I had to stop off and fill it otherwise risk the spare popping or being too dangerous.
As I was doing this, I was listening to this book being read. It was about this point when Joan Didion called “privilege” an accusation she would not use to describe her daughter’s upbringing. I’m gonna say she lost me.
Joan Didion’s story is really sad. Her daughter and her husband died within a year of each other; her husband suddenly; her daughter slowly. Both seem truly awful.
However, when you’re describing how you have to call local newspapers to keep them from putting items about you and your famous filming a movie in town, or how you have to explain to your daughter the difference between being “on expenses” (as in an expense account) or not and also telling me that’s not privilege. And you’re not being at all ironic or self-deprecating, I am not buying it. It’s not the same.
I can afford to fix my tire without too much trouble. I can change it without too much trouble. I was lucky in a lot of ways having a good education in practical and intellectual matters, and now as a high school teacher in an urban school district, I do ok. And I am deeply privileged throughout almost every element of my life.
This is a sad story. But you can tell a sad story and recognize that privilege is still a thing. No discussion at how much suffering her daughter would have experienced if born under different circumstances. It felt flat and annoying.