This morning I woke trying to remember the day. Saturday? Ah, wait, it’s New Year’s Eve. Goodbye, 2020. Welcome, 2021?
I looked back into my photos to see where I was in Jan 2020 (only one year ago) and found the picture above — taken at the Highline in New York City. I couldn’t believe it was only one year ago that my husband and I took Amtrak to NY to see Itzhak Perlman at a concert commemorating the 75th Anniversary of the Liberation of Auschwitz:
Many times since the beginning of the pandemic, I’ve thought of those locked up — immigrants in cages, the Japanese interned in America during WWII, and those in Nazi concentration camps. Remembering the concert, the soldiers from WWII and the survivors who were at the show, the soaring sounds of Perlman, I was back on the temple bench. I thought of the speaker’s words: care for the immigrants of today — locked up by the Trump administration, the reminders that our job was not only looking back but looking forward to ensuring the rights of all — put this end of 2020 into perspective. …
Dear Elected Officials Throughout the United States,
In my state — Massachusetts — Secretary of State William Galvin wants me to deliver my ballot in person (though I’ve already mailed in my primary ballot, so I guess praying for deliverance is my current option.)
I’m glad to have the ballot box option for November’s election; I’m enraged that Trump and his minions are forcing voters to find a workaround for our most basic rights. Every elected official — right and left — must make having an honest election in November their priority.
The time is now — this is an inflection point for democracy. Either we put down our collective foot, after almost four years of conniving, stealing, lying, and robbing our country of goodness or we hand over our freedom. …
I played with the first line, “Everyone hates a fat woman,” for a decade (and published four other novels) before writing Waisted. The story of women obsessed with the scale screamed in my head, but I kept the words locked away. Because writing it meant facing myself. Writ honest, the novel would have to include tales of self-loathing, food needs so intense one snatches it back from the garbage, and dressing room terror because, for me, no story is worth writing without emotional honesty at the core.
And I wanted to avoid this particular honesty.
When I was a child, my mother hid everything sweet and delicious in a giant lobster soup pot on top of the tallest cabinet in the kitchen. Thus, my sister and I, at the tender ages of perhaps five and eight, learned to be mountain climbers. (Only recently did I consider that maybe Mom was hiding the cookies from herself.) Living with my thin, beautiful, food-hiding mother, I…
“Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn’t mean politics won’t take an interest in you.” — Pericles
In this time of societal gnashing of teeth — whatever one’s political inclination — it seems there is at least one thing almost all citizens with a patriotic heart can agree on: voting is not only important, it’s the most reliable way to make a yearly difference in the country. According to Ballotpedia:
Unless one’s made of stone and iron*, writing a novel (Waisted) based on extreme body-shaming & how the eyes of others scorch women, must change one, yes? Pair that with compiling an anthology titled Women Under Scrutiny, and voila, the perfect storm for facing personal crucibles.
Examining ‘knowing one’s character’s crucible**’ is paramount, I tell students when teaching writing seminars; looking at my personal albatrosses is a delve I leave to my unexamined subconscious. (A dissociation at which I excel.) Swimming on the surface personally, as my obsessions reign free in fiction, has been my specialty for quite some time.
Until Waisted. …
Our writer’s code, written into our secret writer club rules, remind us that day jobs stand between us and a published novel. I understand. For years I thought if only and when and someday. And yes, working one, two, three jobs at a time took a big bite out of what would certainly have been my fast track to a Pulitzer. But slogging through, learning at, loving, and hating a number of jobs, that’s what formed and hold up my novels.
The bosses I despised (especially them,) the coworkers who became family, the ones who turned my stomach, those I supervised, fired, hired, found cheating, using drugs, selling drugs . . . they gave me worlds. The clients. The patrons. …
I grew up with the idea that the size of my body was the most important thing in the world — and that my body was always too large.
When I look back at pictures, I see me at normal, chubby, and large — but at no time did I ever see myself as anything but too big and in need of a diet. Every bite I took was measured in self-worth and whether I could afford the calories, or deserved them.
The answer was always a resounding no.
When I received the ‘first pass corrections’ for Waisted (the layout that comes before the final printing) I looked at the first line — Everyone hates a fat woman — and remembered every time I felt those words. …
If people don’t vote, everything stays the same. You can protest until the sky turns yellow or the moon turns blue, and it’s not going to change anything if you don’t vote.
— Dolores Huerta
1. To ensure our children and grandchildren — and we — have clean air to breathe & an environment in which they can enjoy all the land’s bounties.
2. To respect our ancestors and keep our American family of mankind. Where did your family originate? Because we remember that unless you’re Native American, your family began as immigrants or a slaves. …
These have been tumultuous times: ICE locks up children for the crime of escaping poverty/abuse with their families. An erroneously-elected ignorant president attacks everything from the National Parks to racial justice. A tilted Congress chooses to placate pleasing him versus serving the country.
These have also been times of courage and honor. Ordinary (extraordinary) men and women devoting hours, sacrificing to donate funds, and even risking careers to save our country.
Does that sound hyperbolic?
Only 85 years ago, not long ago at all, Germany built the Nazi’s first concentration camp. By the time WWII ended, these elected officials had murdered well over six million people via ovens and other hideous methods. Likely, few Germans, if asked even three years before officials built the camp in 1933, would believe predictions of mass killings — of their government methodically murdering millions of citizens. …