I am tearing through memoirs lately and just finished Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor's My Beloved World. I was excited to read it, not only because it is written by a Latina, but also because I heard rave reviews from friends. Now I'm not so sure we read the same book. By memoir standards My Beloved World is decent, but it's frankly more auto-biography than the reflection required by memoir - though Sotomayor insists that is her goal in the introduction.
When Sotomayor did reflect, I was grateful. There are too few examples of what high powered women go through. Some highlights below.
On her divorce from her husband:
"I'd never seen need as an essential part of love. Weren't caring and affection, mutual respect, and sharing a life really more the point? If anything, need seemed to make the feeling contingent, less genuine, almost as if there were an ulterior motive to loving someone. In retrospect, maybe I was looking at it too rationally. The truth is that since childhood I had cultivated an existential independence. It came from perceiving the adults around me as unreliable, and without it I felt I wouldn't have survived. I cared deeply for everyone in my family, but in the end I depended on myself. That way of being was part of the person I would become, but where once it had represented salvation, now it was alienating me from the person I had vowed to spend my life with."
On being perceived as tough:
"In this comradely environment, I learned to be more attentive to how I was perceived by colleagues. That initial impression of 'one tough bitch' had mostly faded with experience but would resurface now and again when someone new joined us....
When I'm focused intensely on work, I become oblivious to social cues, or any cues for that matter. I block out the entire universe beyond the page in front of me or the issue at hand. Colleagues who knew me well didn't take it personally. In fact, they sometimes found it convenient. ...That same tendency as a prosecutor gave me a reputation - undeserved, I believe - for ruthlessness in cross-examinations. It's not how I mean to be; when I'm concentrating hard and processing information quickly, the questions just shoot out unceremoniously."
I can relate - on both counts.