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Do you miss me?

Because blogging has felt increasingly uncomfortable for me for personal writing, I am going to attempt TinyLetter instead. It’s an e-newsletter platform and you can subscribe here. It will deliver my ‘personal writing’ posts directly to your email rather than on this blog.

This blog was always supposed to be a place for very honest writing.

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I am hoping with TinyLetter I can feel a little more free again, because I will know exactly who is in the room with me when I am talking. I will always keep this blue milk blog going, but the e-newsletter might be the place where I do more of my ‘thinking out loud’ style writing; the way I used to do on this blog.

Kitten mitten

Sleep-in. Wake leisurely and decide to try making impressive lemongrass, lime leaf and ginger cordial for guests bringing lunch over. Pick, chop, put on to simmer. Congratulate self. Read next step… “cool and infuse for at least 5 hours”.

Why do I continue to be so me?

On reckoning

When I think of my relationship with my mama, I think of this poem, not because I feel Mama asked me to remember her memories, but because I think my mama feels like I’m trying to punish her by honestly remembering mine. I know what it’s like to punish vulnerable people for holding onto memories I wish they’d forget. I’m just telling you that one way we might help each other is if we try to share our sad words, funny words, whole stories, half-relationships, empty mysteries and full memories we don’t want to be true. Nothing in America encourages this kind of reckoning or liberating transformation so we have the interior lives, the policies and the president we currently have.

We do not have to be this way.

From Kiese Laymon’s “Our generation has not given you a healthy model of honest reckoning” at Mic. 

they ask me to remember

but they want me to remember

their memories

and i keep on remembering

mine.

 

“Why Some People Be Mad at Me Sometimes” – Lucille Clifton

They destroy productivity, so even you shouldn’t like your design.  

This is a good response to Jia Tolentino’s “The personal-essay boom is over” in The New Yorker from Susan Shapiro in Forward with “Taking it personal: A feminist defense of the first-person essay”.

While Tolentino and others espouse the simplistic, paternalistic view that women mining their intimate lives in public could be somehow exploitative and exploited, I quote Nora Ephron: “Everything’s copy” and try to emulate her grace and sense of humor. I always found revealing secrets in print cathartic and liberating, repeating my shrink’s mantra that, to stay healthy, you should “lead your least secretive life.” Indeed, I owe the career my conservative Midwest family hates to this form. I was originally compelled by this so-called 2008 “first-person industrial complex boom” decades before, as I devoured the audacious confessional poetry of Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton, Ted Hughes, Robert Lowell and Nikki Giovanni in the staid Michigan Jewburbs in the sixties. Getting my MFA at NYU in 1981, I noticed one could turn poetry subjects into essays and books (like the brilliant Mary Karr, Carol Muske-Dukes, and Katha Pollitt.) After working at The New Yorker for four years, I wrote for The New York Times Lives and Hers columns, Newsweek’s “My Turn,” Cosmopolitan’s “Outrageous Opinion,” along with Glamour, New Woman, Marie Claire, which, at the time, paid $1,000 or more.

Tolentino attributes the shifting essay market to politics (a response to Trump’s election) but as her own piece demonstrates, it’s economics. She quotes former Salon editor Sarah Hepola saying the personal essay “boom” of her day was motivated by an online climate where content was needed and budgets were slashed. Yes, after Apple’s iTunes destroyed the feasibility of music albums, the Internet devalued paper tomes with e-books and hurt print. Cheaper shorter faster online essay versions did proliferate, along with internet trolls and pop up adds. Instead of 1,600 word, $1,600 carefully curated Jane Magazine pieces, suddenly XOJane paid $25 or $50 for quick takes, many silly, which I blame on editors (who are, after all, our bosses) and the higher ups in charge, desperate to keep their businesses afloat. I didn’t love all the Tampax and cat hair pieces or prompts from Hearst’s The Mix. Yet it seemed a worthy experiment since it gave young writers I knew clips, exposure, and literary agents. Cream rose, as always.

 

 

She told me how when she spoke to women about the idea that maybe emotional and sexual life doesn’t have to end with motherhood, they’d often get this look in their eyes, a look of panic and recognition, and she’d know in that moment that they were having an affair, or they were trying to have an affair, or they had just ended an affair, or they were having an emotional affair, or they were having an intense, romantic friendship that might as well have been an affair. It was an expression of wanting to call for help but not having the vocabulary, and at the same time hating themselves because the experience didn’t fit with their notions of what marriage was supposed to be.

I asked a friend of mine, a therapist in Chicago named Elena Vassallo Crossman, if she had encountered such women in her practice as frequently as she encountered men in similar turmoil.

“No,” she said, “Not as much, but I think that’s because many, many women have internalized the culture that disavows this kind of desire. It is a culture that’s very comfortable with women as mothers, and any role beyond that, no way. And that’s because what comes next, the next stage, the stage where a woman is for herself and not giving everything away, not seeking her partner, not giving everything to her children — I think it has the potential to be the most generative, creative stage in terms of woman’s energy. She emerges from that dependence on relationships when everyone was looking at her for her utility. It has the potential to be the most powerful stage, and so a culture that disempowers women has to disavow it. This is why middle-aged or old women are witches and crones in fairy tales. It’s why they’re ugly. And if they’re not ugly, they’re dark. We have to make that power dark.”

From Kim Brooks’ “The emancipation of the MILF” in The Cut. 

Of course, this is not such a problem when you divorce and date – another path through motherhood.