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Rita Arens
My name is Rita Arens. I like to write. A lot. Many pages.
Recent Activity
Here I've spent the first half of 2014 thinking I could no longer run giveaways for THE OBVIOUS GAME on Goodreads because it was published in 2013. (The dropdown in the author tools area only give you options for the year prior to your pub date and the year of your pub date.) I was sad, because Goodreads giveaways are such a win/win. They are inexpensive for an author to run (you only pay for the books and shipping) and they provide exposure as each sign-up adds the book to the signee's to-read shelf, thus giving the author and the book exposure she wouldn't otherwise have had. Lately most of my dealings with THE OBVIOUS GAME have been either asking people to review it or answering emails from people who love people with eating disorders (in which really what can I say but, "Well, I wrote an entire book about what I want to say to you now, so maybe you could read that and then let me know if you want to talk more"). The answering the emails part is really hard. Really hard. But I am really glad I at least have the book to point them to. And this is the part where I say, "Hey, if you've read THE OBVIOUS GAME, could you drop me a review on Goodreads and Amazon? It doesn't even have to be nice! Nobody likes everything." And then I follow that up by saying, "If you haven't read THE OBVIOUS GAME, mightn't you request it at your library, and if your librarian has trouble, she can contact me and I will get her the book with my author discount?" And then you might say, "But I really want to help you MORE." So of course I would smile sincerely and say,... Continue reading
Posted yesterday at Surrender, Dorothy
Here I've spent the first half of 2014 thinking I could no longer run giveaways for THE OBVIOUS GAME on Goodreads because it was published in 2013. (The dropdown in the author tools area only give you options for the year prior to your pub date and the year of your pub date.) I was sad, because Goodreads giveaways are such a win/win. They are inexpensive for an author to run (you only pay for the books and shipping) and they provide exposure as each sign-up adds the book to the signee's to-read shelf, thus giving the author and the book exposure she wouldn't otherwise have had. Lately most of my dealings with THE OBVIOUS GAME have been either asking people to review it or answering emails from people who love people with eating disorders (in which really what can I say but, "Well, I wrote an entire book about what I want to say to you now, so maybe you could read that and then let me know if you want to talk more"). The answering the emails part is really hard. Really hard. But I am really glad I at least have the book to point them to. And this is the part where I say, "Hey, if you've read THE OBVIOUS GAME, could you drop me a review on Goodreads and Amazon? It doesn't even have to be nice! Nobody likes everything." And then I follow that up by saying, "If you haven't read THE OBVIOUS GAME, mightn't you request it at your library, and if your librarian has trouble, she can contact me and I will get her the book with my author discount?" And then you might say, "But I really want to help you MORE." So of course I would smile sincerely and say,... Continue reading
Posted yesterday at Surrender, Dorothy
Recently The Writers Place in Kansas City asked me to teach a workshop. And I said yes! Here are the details: PITCHING, QUERYING AND SUBMITTING: WHAT TO KNOW ABOUT SENDING IN YOUR WRITING Saturday, 10/25, 2 – 4 PM Teaching Artist: Rita Arens What separates a good essay from a viral essay? What do you need to know before you query an agent with your memoir? How much can you expect to make with online publishing? Bring your questions and your query letters for this hands-on session. CLICK HERE TO REGISTER: $40 nonmembers / $30 members You must have a current membership to enroll at the member rate. Click here to join or renew. Tell all your friends! Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at Surrender, Dorothy
I have only an extremely marginal understanding of relational databases. I remember being introduced to the concept of a foreign key, which basically controls all the values that reference it. I understand foreign keys like this: If humans are the most intelligent species on the planet, then X, Y, Z. What if elephants are smarter? The whole string falls apart. (Again, I may be butchering the true definition, but stay with me.) So. White privilege is kind of a foreign key. I think the reason so many white people have denied white privilege is because they are afraid of what that would mean if their whole worldview has been with or without their knowledge predicated on an invalid foreign key. What if rap music is no more dangerous than blasting Brahms? What if a resting expression is just a resting expression, no matter what color the face? What if tall is just a genetic trait and doesn't have a inherent relation to aggression? What if people are only dangerous or stupid because they really are dangerous or stupid? What if there is no way to tell from looking at a person if he or she is friend or foe? What if you couldn't be scared by a hoodie? What if we've been fooled by selective history? What if the foreign key is invalid? The whole system collapses. And only then can we rewrite the logic to represent all possibilities, and not just the prevalent one. Question everything. Continue reading
Posted Aug 26, 2014 at Surrender, Dorothy
Thank you, Neil.
Toggle Commented Aug 26, 2014 on Let the Pain Flow Through You at Surrender, Dorothy
1 reply
I start out slow, every time. My feet tend to cross over. I have the uneven soles to prove it. After a stress fracture, I realized I was doing it, so now I force my feet what feels like miles apart but is really just normal as I strive to feel my feet hit straight on their balls. Thwap, thwap, thwap. My neighborhood is hilly. The first hill always burns, but my thighs warm then on the downhill and the run starts to even out. I feel the blood rush to my legs. Hello ladies, who is here? Roll call. When the sweat comes, it tickles first. It itches. I scratch my head under my hat until it starts to flow, soaking into the short hairs at the nape of my neck. The sweat trickles slowly at first until it runs strong and is just part of me. When the humidity is close, I feel it try to strangle me. I breathe carefully, siphoning the air. It comes only with effort, and my legs scream for what it brings, oxygen. Relief. The uphills now, they're like biking. After I met my husband, he taught me to conserve energy, to shift down with the same energy. Running is like that. The humidity is a hill, and I have to shift down just to keep moving. The heat is an animal looking for my jugular. I turn away. Sometimes, when it's so hot, I realize I could go down. I'm forty, and it's over 90 degrees, and my husband is traveling on a job. There is nobody here but me to take care of her. You can't run through heat. But I want to. I'm annoyed I didn't start this when I was young and stronger. But I'm her mother. I can't... Continue reading
Posted Aug 25, 2014 at Surrender, Dorothy
*snort*
Toggle Commented Aug 22, 2014 on Let the Pain Flow Through You at Surrender, Dorothy
1 reply
Here are some more examples of how the media could walk a straighter line when portraying people: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/08/14/media-black-victims_n_5673291.html
Toggle Commented Aug 20, 2014 on Let the Pain Flow Through You at Surrender, Dorothy
1 reply
Good examples. Thanks for sharing them.
Toggle Commented Aug 20, 2014 on Let the Pain Flow Through You at Surrender, Dorothy
1 reply
:) good
Toggle Commented Aug 20, 2014 on Let the Pain Flow Through You at Surrender, Dorothy
1 reply
AND DOESN'T IT SUCK THAT THOUGHT WENT THROUGH MY HEAD? FUCK. That I might worry someone might think I was being condescending and calling you well-spoken. This is going all when I named my cat again.
Toggle Commented Aug 20, 2014 on Let the Pain Flow Through You at Surrender, Dorothy
1 reply
And not because you are black, for those who are new here. Because we are sisters in grammarly justice.
Toggle Commented Aug 20, 2014 on Let the Pain Flow Through You at Surrender, Dorothy
1 reply
After the #IfTheyGunnedMeDown hashtag started getting traction, I saw the other picture of Mike Brown on the news. I think that's what we do. We keep talking and talking and talking. And those of us who are not afraid to talk to each other about it publicly just keep doing that, too. In other news, I love that you used the correct "effect change."
Toggle Commented Aug 20, 2014 on Let the Pain Flow Through You at Surrender, Dorothy
1 reply
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"I'm glad I had lunch with you guys today," I said. "I'm having trouble with my anxiety because of what's happening in Ferguson." That we were well into our lunch was not lost on me. It's all I can think of when I see other people: that I want to talk about it, that it's like the sixties out there, that it's still happening and so many white people still think the protests are unfounded at worst or an overreaction at best. But I didn't immediately launch into it because of my white privilege. I wanted to talk about it but I waited for my window, even knowing these friends felt the same way that I did about it all. Because I wasn't positive they'd want to talk about it. She asked me why I didn't write about the anxiety. I thought to myself because Stacy Morrison already did it so well, and also because I don't want to co-opt the pain for myself when it is not my pain. My pain is watching their pain, and it seems selfish to claim my pain. I didn't say that part, though. I don't know why. I feel like I felt after Hurricane Katrina when I saw all those black people standing on bridges, shielding their babies from the hot sun, squished into that dome, stuck. Just. Stuck. And then white people focused on any little bad thing those black people did while they were stuck instead of pulling them out faster. She called me this morning to say she'd been thinking of our conversation. We'd talked about how there is racial tension and even genocide going on all over the world. We'd talked about the Holy Land and Ukraine. We talked about this again, and I wanted to cry and I... Continue reading
Posted Aug 20, 2014 at Surrender, Dorothy
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I had some hard conversations at BlogHer '14 with white women who thought the women of color at Voices of the Year were exaggerating their feelings of otherness. It's true, world: White people still think people of color are making this stuff up. The events of this week in Ferguson, Missouri, once again magnify the truth: My friends of color are not exaggerating. White people may not see it because we are not treated this way, but stigma/skepticism/suspicion is still their reality in 2014. We can wish it weren't true. We can pretend it isn't true. Or we can amplify what is true. We can continue to insist on the education of our white colleagues and friends and strangers about how we intentionally or unintentionally are contributing to the racism problem we have boiling in this country. We can continue to insist on change. If you're confused about what I'm talking about, click here. It's time to share what's being said. Here are some posts written about race this week that I believe are worth reading. Please amplify them. The Ferguson Shooting Has Me Scared for My Son by Janene Davis Affected by Karen Walrond #IfTheyGunnedMeDown Hashtag Calls Out Media's Portrayal of Black People by Betty Fokker Racial Bias, Police Brutality and the Dangerous Act of Being Black by Kristen Howerton Tonight my friend and colleague Feminista Jones has organized a 90-city National Moment of Silence for Mike Brown. Details are here. The gathering for Kansas City is at the Plaza fountain. Gather at 6 Central, moment of silence is 6:20. Wear red. I would be there but we are headed to a preplanned family reunion tonight. If you can't see things on Facebook, here are the details: Peaceful vigils honoring the innocent lives lost and pay respect to those... Continue reading
Posted Aug 14, 2014 at Surrender, Dorothy
Last night I made my best friend meet me twenty miles closer to my house than she originally intended because on Saturday, I broke my ass. Okay, I don't know if I broke it, because I can't get in to my doctor until Thursday, but I fell backwards on tile and bounced, so let's just say it together: OW OW OW OW OW. Also, I really hate driving right now. I tell you this partly in an obvious bid for sympathy (hello, I'm supposed to be training for another half-marathon, not trying to type with my butt on three pillows) and also partly to maybe explain the following, in that about 80 percent of my brain is thinking about the pain in my butt at all times, leaving only 20 percent left to process actual thought. Her: Have you friended your fifth-grade teacher on Facebook? Me: What? Why? Her: She's, like, awesome on there. Me: My mom was friends with her ... sister? Cousin? That's crazy, since they didn't live in the same town or anything. What was the teacher's name? Martha? Her: Mary. Me: I think her cousin's name was Martha. (pause) Me: Oh, wait. Maybe that was Jesus. Continue reading
Posted Aug 12, 2014 at Surrender, Dorothy
OMG, LETTERS.
Toggle Commented Aug 7, 2014 on When Talk Gets Cheap at Surrender, Dorothy
1 reply
Sometimes just knowing the name of the thing is helpful. I'm sorry you have them, too.
Toggle Commented Aug 6, 2014 on On Intrusive Thoughts at Surrender, Dorothy
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I try to call people when I'm in the car, which is probably not the safest thing to do, but it's when I'm not glued to my keyboard or talking to my daughter. By the time she goes to bed, I have time, but then it's late to call most people and besides, I'm really tired. It's tough.
Toggle Commented Aug 6, 2014 on When Talk Gets Cheap at Surrender, Dorothy
1 reply
When I was a kid, my uncles and aunts and my gran would call from far-away places and all action in the house would cease as we passed the phone from person to person, sometimes picking up a second extension that rendered the first person mouse-voiced for the remainder of the call. Time morphed from bulbous drops of homework hell to the fast lane where every minute cost thirty-five cents. We couldn't get enough of that long-distance. When I was a senior in high school, my boyfriend went off to college, taking a little part of my teenaged heart with him. After watching me mope around the house for a few weeks, my parents allowed me one hour a week to talk to him on the phone on their dime. I would sit in our basement in the most private possible room and talk on my sister's leftover princess phone. My boyfriend told me about his new fraternity and how different college was and how long it would be until he'd be home for a visit. I sat with a travel alarm clock between my feet, watching the second-hand sweep as we paused, listening to each other breathe, and each breath cost so much money. To be able to communicate for only one hour a week was torture. We sent letters, but they took so long to arrive the news was old and all there was to do was caress the ink and know the other person touched this piece of paper, too. Somewhere in there, along came cell phones and affordable long-distance plans. The cheaper talking got, the less I seemed to do it. I was quick to email and slow to text. Now I communicate via words and pictures on all manner of social media with my friends,... Continue reading
Posted Aug 5, 2014 at Surrender, Dorothy
Sure do! http://www.blogher.com/getting-your-first-great-book-deal
Toggle Commented Aug 5, 2014 on Gone PhotoBlog: BlogHer 2014 at Surrender, Dorothy
1 reply
I'm glad it didn't bring on more instrusiveness! Have fun in Mexico.
Toggle Commented Jul 31, 2014 on On Intrusive Thoughts at Surrender, Dorothy
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Yeah, the imagination thing has its pros and cons.
Toggle Commented Jul 31, 2014 on On Intrusive Thoughts at Surrender, Dorothy
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I don't often have snake thoughts. Snakes don't really scare me, but when she was little I kept thinking about them wrapping around her.
Toggle Commented Jul 31, 2014 on On Intrusive Thoughts at Surrender, Dorothy
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When the little angel was a baby, we lived in This Old House. If you're new here, you may not know that This Old House was a beautiful Arts & Crafts with a screened-in porch in the Waldo neighborhood of Kansas City. It was built in 1921. It had push-button light switches that sometimes threw sparks, it was not ducted for air conditioning (making my home office nearly unbearable in the summer) and it had decorative metal grates with holes big enough to pass my fist through, lovely as they were. While in the throes of postpartum something, I became convinced that snakes could climb up through from the leaky, Silence-of-the-Lambs basement through the ductwork and slither out the very large grate holes into my daughter's bedroom. Every time I looked at those grates, I had to push the thoughts away, but it was hard. It was so hard. These thoughts, I now know, are called intrusive thoughts, and they are closely associated with anxiety disorder, OCD, eating disorders, and psychosis. I still have them from time to time, but they are much lessened after medication and meditation and all manner of my managing-my-anxiety-disorder daily rituals. I feel a kinship with Stephen King. Here is a man who must suffer, as I do, from intrusive thoughts. I first read PET SEMETARY in high school, and then I thought it was a horror novel. I've been rereading it this week, and I now understand it is a book about grief. A parent's grief. I got the ebook copy, and there is a foreward in this version written by King in 2000, in which he admits something very similar to what happened to Gage in the book happened to his own son (almost) when his own son was two. He wrote: "But... Continue reading
Posted Jul 30, 2014 at Surrender, Dorothy