Journal

Self styled

August 27, 2020
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Busy Philipps is reading her memoir to me. Of all the high school characters, I find Kim Kelly the most recognizable. I know that girl. I’ve been that girl. And Philipps’ memoir is as compelling as her tough-girl character from Freaks and Geeks. I like the way she tells her story. Admitting, immediately, that it’s hers. From her viewpoint. She’s narrating her experience as closely as she can get to it, as well as...

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Last best thing

December 12, 2019
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Last night, while watching the spectacularly moving Marriage Story, I revisited the horror that was my divorce. We did all those things. Sat quietly in a room and agreed that we wanted an amicable divorce without lawyers or pettiness. And then he went out the next day and hired “us” an attorney. And “our attorney” began to dismantle my entire life. I’d stayed home with our kid for a year, and had only been...

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Shrooms

November 18, 2019
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My brother is the only person I’ve ever accepted drugs from. Despite being a terrible student in a rigorously academic family, he knew everything about drugs. When he gave me a second batch of hallucinogenic mushrooms, he told me to take them with food. “Try pasta,” he said. We cooked them with steak. They smelled feral. We devoured the steak, and went to a late movie. The theater packed, and lit in animated green....

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Genre fiction

November 13, 2019
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The eagles are back at their nest. Or in trees nearby. Whenever they return, the meadow quiets of birdsong, and the doves hide. What if all our stories are love stories? Once they end, I mean. I’d stretched the ladder, leaned it against the porch roof, and climbed up. I used a broom to sweep the leaves from the corner, and cleared all the gutters. I’d dragged the whole thing out as long as...

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Yeah and yay are different

August 16, 2019
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If you’ve ever taken a writing class, you’ve probably met this Flannery O’Connor quote: “Everywhere I go, I’m asked if I think the universities stifle writers. My opinion is that they don’t stifle enough of them. There’s many a best seller that could have been prevented by a good teacher.” My teachers loved to use these three sentences of O’Connor’s to bolster their sometimes savage approaches to student writing. I’m not a fan of...

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BEAUTY! MESS!

August 6, 2019
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You are 22. Snow on the cars; ice on the streets. She came out of her house at 4 a.m., barefoot, in a nightshirt, and kissed you for hours. She stood on your boots, her hands clasped at your neck, and kissed you.So lithe you could lift her. You write heartbreak and violence. Poems where the butterflies devour one another. Stories where the girl is a livid bruise. Nameless. Screaming. In the mornings, at...

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The meaningful meaningless invective

July 29, 2019
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I get a number of emails every year from someone trying to police my language. “You’re too smart to use so many 4-letter words,” they tend to write. Using that old shaming technique that my grandmother tried out on me when I was a child. “Only ignorant people talk like that, JillAmy.” Bullshit. Talk however you want to talk. If you don’t like 4-letter words, don’t use them. If you hate the word queer...

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Uncertain

July 24, 2019
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I’m listening to Brene Brown read her book, Rising Strong. And it feels like she wrote the entire thing specifically to address issues I struggle with. What I find most compelling about Brown is her honesty about anger. She talks about how often her first response is anger. In our culture, we rarely acknowledge women’s anger. We don’t talk through why we get angry, and what anger is a cover for. What is anger...

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Holier

July 20, 2019
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Years ago, I saw a play where one woman told another, “I can’t stand these young women who say their names like there’s a question mark at the end. Like they aren’t quite sure their name IS their name. Maybe it isn’t?” I stressed about that for ages. I told every woman I knew about it. And most of them did what I had. Stood there struck by the dialogue. Retracing every time they’d...

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Letter to a woman as she ages

July 11, 2019
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When you were 44, you fell in love with the young woman you had been. The one that used to embarrass you with her earnestness, her certainty. Do you still remember the day that you woke on the beach in Kaneohe with your head in the lap of another girl, and her tears falling on your face? Her tears woke you. The sun had dragged the top of its head over the horizon, and...

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