Oh hi. I decided to take an unannounced writing hiatus around the end of 2020, for a lot of reasons that are probably not surprising. But I miss it, and I miss you. In the earlier days of this blog, I wrote less and quoted more, and that will be my approach for a little bit. This is my humble offering:
- It’s Unfair and It Doesn’t Make Sense, Mari Andrew. “The whole-hearted feel like they have something of worth to say to the broken-hearted, the denizens of the healthy think they know more than the sick. Around those who are in pain, people suddenly assume the role of expert: “I suggest feeling your feelings. Be grateful for the good in your life.” Why do the perfectly-fine presume they have tools for the suffering?” Oh this meditation on not giving advice, but instead being present, is powerful and making me tear up. “When New York was overwhelmed with suffering of every kind, it felt just as unfair that I’d hear a saxophone playing Somewhere Over the Rainbow on a perfect mid-summer day in the park. Why do I get to hear this? It’s completely backwards. It makes no sense. It’s unfair. “Why me?” applies to goodness as much as it applies to suffering. Why do I get to hear this song? But I do.”
- You’re Still Exhausted, Anne Helen Petersen. “Life is still exhausting because the pandemic was and remains exhausting in so many invisible ways — and we still haven’t given ourselves space to even begin to recover. Instead, we’re just softly boiling over, emptying and evaporating whatever stores of energy and patience and grace remain.” She also describes the pandemic year and a half as “isolated, extended, slow-motion trauma,” and how perfect a sum is that, of the ever-present dread, confusion, fear, monotony. She ends with mercy, and if this sounds like it’s for you, it is: “For some of you, [actually taking rest is] easy. But for others, addicted to the feeling of constant utility, that’s the hardest part. But your refusal helps set the impossible standards for everyone around you. You are beloved and worthy of rest. Now act like it.”
- The Trash Heap Has Spoken, Carmen Maria Machado. TW: Talk about fatphobia and disordered eating. I encountered this gorgeous piece about fatness and the power of taking up space in a beautiful anthology called Fat and Queer: An Anthology of Queer and Trans Lives. Here’s an example of why Machado is one of my favorite writers ~of our time~ “I have an intermittent daydream in which I’m a queen straight out of an epic fantasy novel. I am draped in red silk and sit in a large baroque throne, crowned with a grandiose headdress dripping gemstones that tick tick tick like Yahtzee dice when I turn my head. My feet rest on snoozing bears. I am so fat I can only leave the throne on a palanquin borne aloft by twenty men. I am so fat it takes the air out of the room. I am so fat no advisor tells me no. I am so fat would-be conquerors flee the room in fear. I am so fat the members of the court do their best to look like me by eating onions cooked in lard, but none can match my sweeping vista, my strength, my power. I am so fat I can take as many lovers as I please. I am so fat that fatness becomes culturally inextricable from a firm, wise, no-nonsense attitude. I am so fat the citizens who come before me for advice or assistance feel safe in proximity to my orbit, and afterwards they go home to their families and tell their children that I am even larger and more exquisite in person. I am so fat their daughters shove pillows under their clothes during play and say, “I’m the queen!” and then argue over how many monarchs are allowed during their game.”
- “The Low Road,” Marge Piercy. How can you stop them? / Alone you can fight, you can refuse. / You can take whatever revenge you can / But they roll right over you. / But two people fighting back to back / can cut through a mob / a snake-dancing fire / can break a cordon, / termites can bring down a mansion […] It goes one at a time. / It starts when you care to act. / It starts when you do it again / after they say no. / It starts when you say we / and know who you mean; / and each day you mean / one more.”
- The 100 Best YA Books of All Time, Time. How many of these books have you read? (I’m only at 23/100!) Any you see in this list that you’d forgotten about, and the sight of the cover drags a core memory from you like “Ohhhh THAT one!” Any that you think this list is missing?