Friday, September 28, 2018
I received your phone calls and texts. I read your posts on Facebook. I see your tears. I hear the hurt. I am with you. I believe her and I believe you. You are not crazy.
Here is what we do now.
We remember we live in a world that was not made by us or for us.
We remember that in our lifetime we have to live in two places, the world we have inherited and the world we are inventing.
We work the system. We make the calls. We write the postcards. We get out the vote. We protest.
We make new language.
Dr. Ford talked about a memory that was seared into her hippocampus.
In 1987 Toni Morrison birthed a word for us in Beloved
She named this kind of memory
plugged into an always-on power socket
breaking time past and present
who gets rememory
is blessed with the difficult gift of Beloved
and recognizes the meaning of
Two front doors.
Get off the internet.
Throw out the paper.
Find your allies and be with them.
For the love of everything sacred
Find your circle
Pray and dance
Make magic and art
Alter your state
so you can
KNOW WHAT YOU KNOW
YOU ARE NOT CRAZY
and you never have been.
The women of Liberia
ended a bloody civil war
a white t-shirt
and their naked bodies.
It is time to give thanks to our teachers
to the artwomen and prayerwomen
and sciencewomen and businesswomen
and motherwomen who dare
to spin their own yarns
and to the men who say yes to their brilliance.
Rest. Refuel. Get back to your sacred work.
We need you.
Stay with it. Breathe.
Monday, April 2, 2018
If you are looking for a Spring Break read, go pick up I'm the One Who Got Away by Andrea Jarrell. It's a riveting coming of age memoir in which a mother-daughter pair escape a charismatic but dangerous man. At its core, the book is an exploration of female desire, and Jarrell's chiseled prose comes alive documenting the moments in which a young woman first learns the pleasures and liabilities of inhabiting an erotic self.
Writers, the interview is chock full of great thinking about writerly routines and practices.
If anyone is in the New York area over the next couple of weeks, Andrea will be appearing at two events:
April 11 at 5:30PM, 742 10th Avenue, New York, NY
She'll be doing a New York Public library event with memoirist/poet Gayle Brandeis.
May 17th at 7:00PM, 126 Franklin Street, Brooklyn, NY
She'll be reading at WORD Bookstore with novelist Melissa Scholes Young.
I wish I could attend these--if anyone is able to go I'd love to hear about them.
Happy Spring everyone!
Thursday, March 8, 2018
Here we go! Interview #1
Thursday, October 19, 2017
We Are Never Meeting in Real Life, Samantha Irby: Get inside the head of one of the funniest people I've met on the page in a long time. Irby's inner monologue as she fills out an application to reality TV show, The Bachelor, had me in stitches from page one. Her self-deprecating humor offers Philip Lopate style permission for each of us to be human. Also, if you like swearing, which I really do, run don't walk to pick this one up. And when you finish the book and just NEED MORE FUNNY, take refuge in Irby's blog.
F*ck Feelings, Michael and Sarah Bennett: Here is the thing your shrink won't admit, everyday that you don't get your shit together equals another day of gainful employment for them. Believe me, as the daughter of a therapist, if at all possible you should avoid becoming a shrink's lifetime bread and butter. The Bennetts agree. This book lists the most frequent chronic problems they witness in contemporary adults (everything from living childhood trauma, to raising a kid with an LD, to adultery--they cover A LOT of ground), and then suggests perspective shifts that will help you live with the problem rather than solve it. In the wise words of Maggie Nelson, "the shit stays messy," and the Bennetts are here to teach you how to celebrate small victories and stop wasting time solving unsolvables. As someone who has both been the bread and butter and gone to college on the bread and butter cases, I get it, there is nothing that can replace a real person resonating with your trauma. And still, from the minute I read the phrase "f*ck self-improvement" I got the tingling feeling of a laugh going, and the sense that liberation was much closer at hand than I allow myself to believe.
P.S. Here is a public service announcement for my fellow middle aged people. Did you know that double spaces after a period MAKE YOU LOOK OLD? Lord, how did I miss this? So forget your anti-aging creams, just drop that extra space after a period and you will be looking ten years younger already.
Monday, October 9, 2017
Packet #3 of 2nd Term is killing me.
That said, the best part of this last packet has been luxuriating in the reading when the writing has not been flowing. Here's my reading list for the month:
I'm going to start with the essays I've loved, because they feel like they might be more widely appealing. They are all low-investment (relatively short compared to a book, and free) reading options that will challenge you into a better place from sentence #1. Plus, if you have not seen the plural of "Prius" written on the page, you will find its appearance "prii" hugely satisfying.
What has Irony Done for Us Lately, A Place Journal: Calling all Pam Houston fans: she has a new book on the way, and some gems from it are being released as essays. This one must be read with tissues, but you won't be disappointed. Bennington peeps, read to experience our beloved Josh Weil with a thirty pound elk baby in his arms.
I'm Drowning in Whiteness, Ijeoma Oluo, Kuow.org: Fellow white people, we have to read these pieces. What comes up for me and what I'll be thinking//writing about more, has to do with what white supremacy has stolen from all of us. It should be obvious by now that non-white people live more dangerous lives in the US. And we should be furious about that. But if we think that white supremacy mostly does a disservice to other people, we are missing the point. These cultural separations are robbing us all of us.
I Need to Talk to Spiritual White Women about White Supremacy, Layla Saad, wildmysticwoman.com: The biggest lie white women have been sold is that we are our most successful when we are being nice, that and that love looks like something from a Hallmark card. Fury is love that demands justice, and you've been told you have no right to your own fury. The world needs us to find our fire, ladies.
Now for the books:
I'm the One Who Got Away, Andrea Jarrell: A memoir exploring the contours of the writer's desire across the span of her life. Without mentioning the word misogyny, she nails the complex problem of women's desire in the patriarchy. Has a great ending. Plus she got her MFA at Bennington--WOOT!
Conundrum, Jan Morris: Published in 1974, this is the classic trans memoir that seems, so far at least, to be the seed for all others. Important because it establishes some metaphors about the experience of gender that seem to have become fundamental to how we talk about the various genders that don't yet have a name or a language to live in. The book was a break through, but in some sense also represents the linguistic limits the gender nonconforming experience still lives within. Read along with Nora Ephron's scathing response to the book to learn how some of our prominent feminists have been seriously horrible to trans folks. I haven't been able to locate her review online, if you want to read it check out The Most of Nora Ephron. Like Conundrum itself, Ephron's response continues to be the scaffolding behind a lot of political pushback towards transpeople.
Middlesex, Jeffrey Eugenides: Confession. I haven't finished it yet. But so far, this is the most writerly example of a gender nonconforming experience I've come across. That said, the author is not gender nonconforming himself, which doesn't mean he shouldn't write it, but it does mean that I think he has to have some of the same problem I do trying to feel into the experience. But, the guy is a masterful writer--which accounts for a lot. So more on this to come.
Some Assembly Required, Arin Andrews: A FTM trans memoir written by a young adult right after transitioning. Includes very explicit information that most trans memoirs do not directly address. Written for other teens considering transition and does a lovely job of addressing the overlap between gender identity and sexual orientation. From a distance we are taught that these two topics are separate, but in this first person account it's clear that for this individual the two topics are intimately tangled together.
not shown in the pile: Boys of My Youth, Jo Ann Beard: This is a collection of essays by a writer that writers love to love--her language is like fireworks in your brain. Plus she is funny. You should read her even if you're not a writer. If you are a writer you should read her and then work hard not to feel bad that your words don't fizz and swoop on the page just like hers. We are all special in our own way, right ?! LOL