Here are two book reviews I wrote for Lambda Literary a couple of weeks ago. The first is of Radical by E.M. Kokie. It’s a dystopian novel set in the present day, and it hits a little close to home. The second was the quintessential summer slow burn, Phantom Limbs, by Paula Garner.
I’ve had the amazing opportunity this past summer to take a writing workshop with Benjamin Alire Saenz, the author of Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe(among other fabulous things). (You can see the wacky glory that is a baker’s dozen of young adult literature writers above.) Ben was an incredible teacher and workshop leader, and that whole week was amazing. You can read about that experience here.
My parents have the relationship that I’ve always dreamed of—the sort of relationship, I think, that a lot of people dream of. It’s the kind of relationship we’re taught, through movies, TV shows and books, that we’re supposed to aspire to.
They met when my mother was 19 and my dad was 23, and they’ve been, for the past 31 years, each other’s one-and-only in every sense of the phrase. My mom has called him her soulmate and her best friend. She told me recently that if she hadn’t met him, she didn’t think she’d be with anyone at all.
My life, on the other hand, has been markedly different.
I wrote about comparing my parents’ relationship style to the way I’ve learned and choose to love. It turns out maybe we’re not so different after all, and that I learned a lot from them, even though on the surface our styles are very different.
A lovey-dovey personal essay just in time for Valentine’s Day. And my first essay for The Establishment, which I’m completely thrilled about! I love The Establishment!
More specifically, passing beloved fandoms down to youths (or, conversely, failing to do this! What happens when your fandoms just don’t TAKE? How does that make you FEEL?)
From my Facebook plea:
Friends! Nerds! Countrywomen! (and also dudes i ~guess~) 😉
I’m writing an article for The Learned Fangirl on passed down fandoms, and I wanted to know if you’re interested in being interviewed! Doesn’t have to be your kid, just has to be *a* kid — your little sibling, your cousins, kids you babysit for. I’ll take any and all fandoms (right now I’ve got people for Doctor Who, Marvel comics, and Star Wars, but I’m into duplicates) and I just wanna know things like
How did you get into this fandom (how old were you; if it’s a fandom that’s been around for a while, did someone you looked up to get you into it?)
2. What was your padawan’s initial reaction to the show/movie/comic book (you see what i did there)
3. How do you address the more ~problematic~ elements of a given fandom with impressionable young minds, particularly from a feminist standpoint? (Moffat’s fuckery on DW, the Leia slave girl bikini thing; the dearth of diversity and representation in general, WHY ISN’T THERE A FEMALE DOCTOR YET)
4. Does experiencing your fandom with a newbie change things for you?
5. What fandomy things do you do together? Cosplay? ComiCon? Do you write fan fiction together? Or write your own comics?
PLZ AND THANK U
Reach out to me at email@example.com if any of this appeals to you!
There is a difference between hesitating and saying, firmly, no. What is the name for that place? I imagine it to be vast, to be full of women who said okay, who whispered it, or didn’t. I imagine it to be full of shadows, and a difficult place to leave.
I started writing this essay in Freiburg, in Roxane Gay’s non-fiction writing class, Beyond the Self. Now, it’s up at The Toast. It was shared on Scarleteen’s Facebook page. And Jess Zimmerman tweeted it and said, “Men are terrified of writing like this.”
My Teen Diary asked me to read my teen diary & write about it, so of course I did. It was super angsty but also really fun! And, excitingly, it scored me my first TOP HIGHLIGHT, which I present for you here:
The body is not a temple, it is a body, and it is yours to do with as you will. The disrespect and callousness a person shows you does not mean that you are creature undeserving of love, of tenderness. It doesn’t even mean, really, that those who treat you callously are bad people—they’re just young, just careless, just taught different, though similarly toxic, things about sex than you are taught.
I also discovered this photo of me & my one true love, cardboard Legolas Greenleaf:
I am sitting in the University of Freiburg library, which is basically my second home at this point. I’m status post one very harrowing creative non-fiction workshop with Roxane Gay and all of my amazingly talented fellow writers. I’d really meant to blog more consistently throughout the past two weeks — reporting on our syllabus, the analysis & close reading of all the amazing texts we’ve been assigned, and all the terribly insistent SnapChatting I’ve been doing both about the retreat and the daytrip to Basel yesterday (my poor friends and lovers received dozens of snaps from me yesterday, lo siento).
But instead I’m slightly drunk and writing post cards to myself. My essay topic was about “sex that is not technically non-consensual” or the ways in which sex can be both consensual and traumatic, so I wasn’t kidding when I said it was harrowing. Gray areas. People talking critically (but so compassionately) about some of the more painful parts of my life. It’s something that I’ve been mulling over for a while, something that I hinted at, maybe, months ago in my first-ever paid and published piece for The Toast, A Personal History of Misogyny. This new piece was not an easy one to write, but it was, I think, a necessary one. [And I swear this isn’t me gloating here, but I am over the moon about it: RGay corroborated that, the necessary-ness of articulating gray areas, particularly when it comes to subjects like sexual assault and trauma.]
But I don’t want to write about that essay. With any luck, and with a bunch more work, that essay will be published. I’m an ambitious sort of lady, and I’ve already pitched it somewhere. On Monday I’m headed to Amsterdam, where I’ll hopefully get a tattoo but will definitely edit my essay. In the meantime I want to share a little bit about the reading Roxane gave for us today, and some of the advice that followed.
Greetings from Offenbach, where I will be spending the next couple of hours before heading to Frankfurt to head to Freiburg to take two classes with Roxane Gay (cue excited squealing). Today has felt like the absolute longest day, which is mostly just me not being used to traveling. My girlfriend is flight attendant and routinely suffers through longer days, while also working, which, ugh, fuck work.
Anyway. My original plan was to get to Offenbach having slept a restful and long sleep on my overnight flight, drop my bags off, and then flit around Frankfurt for a day in order to make the very most of my time spent in Europe. Last time I was ~abroad~ was in 2013, after all, when I went took myself to London for my first ever grown up vacation. But ha-ha-ha at the idea of sleeping on the plane. I HATE planes. I don’t mind flying but sitting still for more than an hour is the devil. I think I slept maybe twenty minutes.
Also there were a lot of children on my plane and in my vicinity. All but one of them was surprisingly well-behaved but I thumb my nose at the little punk who wouldn’t stop wailing unless his mom let him stagger like a little drunk old man up and down the aisle the whole time.
When I was in high school, I started a feminist club called F.A.T.E. The acronym makes me cringe now (“Female Advancement and Teen Empowerment” — I meant well, at least?) but anyway — one of the things we did each year was create posters for Love Your Body Day (which, if I remember correctly, was October 19th.) Still, even with the best of intentions, it took me much longer than that to really internalize the Love Your Body message. Sometimes I still struggle with it.
I started to look in the mirror, every single day, with deliberate and positive thoughts…These are my thighs, I thought, strong and brown, firmer in the summer months when I spend hours walking and running and dancing. These are my hips, wide like my grandmother gave me. “Childbearin’ hips,” as if that were not a choice but a given. This is the little pouch of my belly where my love of cupcakes and French fries resides; my skin is softest here. Here are my breasts, with stretch marks creeping across the tops of them like ivy; I’m told I have a lovely décolletage.