Greetings from the first sunny day here in the office in my apartment! Our skylight was covered with garbage bags for much of the winter, but here in the advent of spring, the bags have been removed and the light pours in!
My biggest news is that this summer I’ll be starting at Lesley University for my MFA in Creative Nonfiction. After last year’s foray into the MFA application game, I was redeemed this year when I got into three out of four schools I applied to. It was a super tough decision, but in the end I was charmed by Lesley’s low residency format, interdisciplinary nature, and the good experiences my friend Jodi Sh Doff has had there so far.
Recently I pilfered the library for any and all books by the Nonfiction faculty there. (But not the Muriel Rukeyser. That was an impulse take out, or maybe wishful thinking?)
Today I learned that the YA anthology I’m in, Truth and Dare, is shipping from Amazon three weeks before it’s publication date. I’m tempted to tell everyone to just hold tight until it appears at your local indie bookstore, but I haven’t received a copy yet and so am throwing some cash at Amazon to get my hands on one.
Kirkus also gave this awesome review (the full review will be published when the book comes out):
Truth-telling can be dangerous, as anyone knows who’s traveled the angst-filled terrain of adolescence. With remarkably few exceptions, the short stories in this collection exemplify the best of the form, drawing readers immediately into the lives of characters who confront the hard truths of alienation, love, trauma and sex..
And fellow contributor Saundra Mitchell has made these hot bookmarks for the occasion.
Please telegraph my teenage self and tell her that one day, you’ll publish a story about being a young queer girl crushing out on straight girls and it will appear in a book with two girls whispering/kissing?/whispering on the cover. Win.
Today I learned that Brian Jacques died. I was in the sixth grade when I first read Redwall. I remember the awesome satisfaction of stuffing the fat paperback in my desk, carting in my backpack, bookmarking the pages. It was a book that my teacher, Mrs. Brooks, regularly gave to boys–that gender of reluctant readers–to borrow, but I remember getting my own copy from the library and devouring the pages, chunks at a time. My brother, a year younger than me, started reading them, too. Together, we collected the series–Mossflower, Mattimeo, Salamandastron, The Outcast of Redwall–in a kind of race to read as many as them as existed. I distinctly remember the day I sat in my bedroom reading one of the Redwall books for so long that when my mom called me to come down for dinner, I jumped up and my legs buckled, completely asleep. I had spent the better half of the day engrossed in the dashing heroes, bravery, feasts, humor, battles, tapestries, forests and castles of Redwall Abbey.
I also remember the time my brother and I begged my mother to buy us the latest Redwall book–The Pearls of Lutra. It was on display at the Waldenbooks I would later go to work at during high school. My mother didn’t think we needed a hardback book, but she finally caved. It was the last of the Redwall books I remember reading. I was in early high school; a fantastical series of woodland creatures fighting to save their families and their home seemed like just a phase. But when I read that Brian Jacques had passed away, it all came flooding back. How good it was to grow up in the time of these books that could totally mesmerize. There apparently was a television series made, but I have no recollection of this. I only remember the stories in the pages, the intricate covers with their valiant illustrations, and the heady feeling of finishing the last page.
Last week, my mother got re-married. Friends know that I approached the event with a mix of joy and trepidation, and worried over details like panty hos and manicures and donning a purple sequined dress. But I have never felt happier to be among my family than that night.
One thing my mother’s husband has brought to her is a decent taste in music. I grew up listening to Jimmy Buffet cassette tapes and gifting my mother with anything parrot related at Christmas. Her new husband, though, from the beginning graced her with mix cds featuring The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Shakira, Arcade Fire, Death Cab for Cutie, Gnarls Barkley, Sia, and more. During dinner my mother turned and tapped my arm, wanting to share with me that the song we were currently listening to was from the Juno soundtrack. Sure enough, over the chatter of friends and Aunts and Uncles and cousins enjoying themselves, was one of my favorite Moldy Peaches songs. At my mother’s wedding. Children don’t usually attend their parents’ weddings, but my goodness, am I grateful that I did. I wrote and gave the following toast for them.
Three years ago I got a call late one September night from my mother. She usually didn’t call so late, but she assured me that it was important. She said she needed my help on the computer, because she needed to know how to put a photograph on an album cover. She was up late making a mix cd for Barry.
There were all sorts of uncanny details that told me that Barry was the perfect match for my mother–from his love of Dunkin Donuts coffee, to the coincidence that his two children were the exact same ages as my brother and I. Suddenly, phone calls home to my mother were peppered with anecdotes of which new restaurant her and Barry had tried, how much fun they had had last weekend, or the sweet thing Barry had said just the other day. It was wonderfully obvious that he and she were falling in love.
Right when they were growing comfortable in their new relationship, though, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. There would be surgery, and months of draining chemotherapy and radiation. Ever practical, my mother thought that maybe Barry should move on. Why should a handsome and energetic man like Barry have to lose time to such an inconvenient chapter of life? Instead, Barry shined with all of his most admirable qualities. To my mother in those months he was nothing but loyal, kind, patient, and loving–loving in a manner I hope everyone here may experience in their lifetime. When my mother recovered, their relationship seemed even stronger, and my visits home again adopted that joy and brightness that Barry inspired in my mother, and I knew we had struck gold.
It is common knowledge that parents want what’s best for their children, but the reverse is also true. Especially when you have a mother as unique and wonderful as mine, or a father as generous and attentive as Barry, there is so much you want for them. As their children, we hope our parents would find love and companionship, someone to come home to, someone to grow old with. How lucky that our parents have indeed found this.
I cannot say how blessed I’ve felt to have had Barry in my life the last few years, and how excited I am to have him in our family for many years ago come. J. and Z., N. and I are looking forwarded to spending many holidays with you and summers at the shore house, and having a lot of good laughs. I think we are all blessed to know a couple, and a tale, as radiant as this one. I’d say there’s a happy ending, but today is not the end. It is the beginning. Here is to happiness, health, love and companionship on every day of your lives. I love you both so much.