A sassy, crafty mama bird from Los Angeles
raising a very sweet little girl with Autism
and a new baby boy in the Midwest... and other stuff, too.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

"Sometimes just being a woman is an act of courage"

I wrote a post about all this two days ago, but then I decided NOT to post it. However, I started a new book this morning and there just happened to be a line in there about Sylvia Plath and the whole head-in-the-oven thing. So, it seemed a little too coincidental and I decided I'd post this. Look, not every post is going to be totally awesome...
A few days ago Nicholas Hughes committed suicide. Not that interesting to most people, unless you know the whole story. For some reason last December I picked up The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath. It's a semi-autobiographical novel that she originally published under the pseudonym Victoria Lucas. This poor girl's soul was so so so tortured. I absolutely loved the book and it kinda left me wanting more. So, I decided to learn more about her, her relationships, and her family's life after her death. She and poet Ted Hughes married and had two children together. One morning while the babies slept (both kids were under three), she methodically stuffed wet rags under the doors and stuck her head in the oven with the gas on. Her suicide was a really big deal at the time. And really, what a way to go. 
Anyway, it turns out that two months before she killed herself, they had separated and he'd already gotten another woman pregnant- a woman to whom they'd rented out their London flat, along with her husband. The other woman, Assia Wevill, decided not to have the baby.  Two years later, they did have a little girl, despite the fact that she was still married. It's been said that Assia was "haunted" by the memory of Sylvia Plath and was pissed that Ted Hughes never treated her as a lover in public. She basically went crazy and when that little girl, Shura, was 4 (same age as my little girl), she fed her a cocktail of crushed up sleeping pills mixed in whiskey.  Once Shura was dead, Assia turned on the gas oven and... you guessed it- stuck her head in! 
This lead to so many rumors that Ted Hughes was pushing his women to suicide, but it seems more likely that they were all crazy and crazy attracts crazy. Just like my friend Marianne always says: water seeks its own level. In fact, some Plath super-fans started scraping the "Hughes" off her grave to insult him.
In 1998 Ted Hughes published "Birthday Letters", a collection of poems that were basically love letters to Sylvia Plath written after her death. You can see that he really did love her. I read the poems two nights ago and they are intense; a great window into their lives together and his alone, without her.
A few days ago, Frieda Hughes, Sylvia Plath's daughter, announced that her brother Nicholas Hughes, had committed suicide. Totally crazy, right? It's like it's just what these people do. Obviously it totally screwed her kids up to have had their mom off herself while they were asleep in cribs. I undersand that when you're so crazy that you are at the point of suicide, you dont think about how it will affect your family, but come on. I guess my family should be grateful that I don't even know how to operate my oven!!

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