ICYMI Book Review: I Miss You When I Blink
Mary Laura Philpott's 2019 release worth a longer look
Usually, this spot is reserved for newer releases, but it is hard to pass up the opportunity to recommend this wonderful set of essays by Mary Laura Philpott. Published in 2019, this collection was a precursor to 2022's Bomb Shelter (which the Reader reviewed this past August).
Anyone who considers themselves to be a Type A personality will likely understand and strongly identify with the lens through which Philpott sees the world, organizing things into tidy and attainable lists and goals. Much like Bomb Shelter, her work in I Miss You When I Blink hits close to home for many who understand the anxiety and worry that comes with trying to fit everything neatly into an itinerary.
Very much a planner and perfectionist (traits of many Type A-ers), Philpott thought that if she was always right, she'd always be happy, and that by creating the perfect to-do list, she'd achieve the contentment and success she was searching for. However, after ticking all the boxes — from a spouse, to children, to a home in a residential neighborhood — she instead felt anxious and stuck, wondering why she felt so wrong after doing everything right. Should she continue on in the same way, or walk away and completely reinvent herself? As it turns out, the answer wasn't — and isn't — so simple.
Instead of choosing either extreme, she decides that making changes in her life is the best course, and comes to terms with the fact that failure is a risk of some of those changes, but amazing results are just as likely. Identity crises aren't once-in-a-lifetime things, and in offering up her own experiences to show that personal re-inventions are both normal and necessary, she gives "Type A" personalities a nudge to know that they are able to make these changes, too.
Philpott just gets it. She doesn't tread lightly around the bad, and talks in detail about the anxiety and unknowns that come along with making changes in your life. She gives excellent anecdotes that will hit home for a lot of folks, taking on the conflicting pressures brought on by modern adulthood. She understands what it is like being that person constantly searching for the right thing to do to get the most out of their life. And she understands what it feels like when you don't succeed.
I Miss You When I Blink, while billed as a memoir of essays, is also a guide for those of us who may feel a bit lost, a bit confused, a bit anxious; it is a perfect example that there's no way out but through it, and Philpott is there with us every step of the way.
Atria Books // 288 pages // Essays