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Rita Arens
My name is Rita Arens. I like to write. A lot. Many pages.
Recent Activity
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 yesterday at Surrender, Dorothy
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Y'all, I am so tired. I got home around seven last night, dumped my stuff out of my suitcase and handed it to my husband, who left for his third week-long business trip of the month this morning. But I had a great time moderating the Getting Your (First) Great Book Deal panel and the leading the Grammar Clinic with the amazing Arnebya. Why didn't I get her looking at the camera? Or better yet, with me? I don't know, either. I ran into my friends Maria Niles and Katherine Stone. Celeste Lindell, my real-life Kansas City friend of 15 years, and me. My co-workers/friends, Diane Lang (left) and Julie Ross Godar. Backstage at VOTY, a sweet baby was attached to Janelle. I took this right before Multi-Culti shut down for the night. Arianna Huffington and Guy Kawasaki. Check out BlogHer's new initiative with HuffPo and the Center for American Progress, Make Life Work! Great keynote on intersectionality in blogging could've gone on for hours. I got photobombed by the author Margaret Dilloway. She had to leave early, so she asked me to keep her updated on the rumored appearance of Khloe Kardashian. Also 15-year-real-life-KC-friend Kelly Oliver George and I missed Khloe Kardashian at the Hairfinity booth. We were krushed. But all was right in the world after I got a big smile and hug from my friend Luvvie. Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at Surrender, Dorothy
I'm so proud of you. Keep up the good hard work.
Toggle Commented Jul 19, 2014 on Watching 'THIN' at Surrender, Dorothy
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Thank you, Becca!
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I'm watching a documentary about eating disorder treatment called THIN. I think I understand better why so much in-patient treatment doesn't work. I don't see staff showing compassion. They refer to the patients as antidepressant junkies, even the suicidal ones. The parents seem clueless. I'm angry, watching this. I get 3-4 emails a week from people who have read my ED posts. I can't believe there is so little out there that is real. I want to wrap my arms around these women and girls (and sometimes boys). They are so scared of their own bodies. They should be more scared of their minds, and their minds are being sadly neglected. ED is about the mind. It's about looking into your future and asking yourself if you can stand the thought of suffering at this level in five, ten, fifteen years. If you have ED, you have three choices: you can suffer indefinitely, you can recover, or you can die. Those are your choices. Some of us contract terminal diseases. The difference between those people and the general population is that those people know how they will die. We will all die someday. The human mortality rate is currently 100%. The question is: Do you want to speed it up? I didn't care when I was sick. When I looked at recovery, I started to care. I reached for happiness, for peace. I didn't want to go on like that. That daily struggle between life and death is awful. How can anyone keep it up indefinitely? At what cost? It is my hope that anyone reading this while hating his or herself can see the three choices clearly and want, seriously want, to eliminate the more dismal two. There are evolutionary reasons our brains can drive us for perfectionism that... Continue reading
Posted Jul 16, 2014 at Surrender, Dorothy
thank you!
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Yes, absolutely she is.
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I am glad, too, Katherine. And it IS you, lady.
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Oh, thank you!
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In preparing to write this post honoring my friend and activist/entrepreneur, Katherine Stone of Postpartum Progress, I searched my gmail, which has also archived my old hotmail account, to see when we first found each other. I dug up an email from Katherine dated April 15, 2009, which would've been a few weeks after my daughter's fifth birthday and about a year after I started getting help and taking medication for my anxiety disorder. Katherine wrote: This Mother's Day - Sunday, May 10 -- Postpartum Progress will host its first annual Mother's Day Rally for Moms' Mental Health. Each hour, on the hour, for 24 hours straight I will post a different "Letter to New Moms" written by survivors of and experts on perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. That email signified just one of Katherine's countless efforts to make moms suffering from mental illness feel more normal. I did write that post, and Katherine and I have written for one another on the subject of maternal mental health again and again, knowing we can prop each other and even strangers up over the miles with our voices. The first time I remember clearly having a long conversation with Katherine in person was at Type A Mom in 2010. She was a little intimidating with her long, red hair and tall, lanky self and these totally adorable sparkly heels, which she later said her kids bought her. The kids and the shoes stuck, because it's important to remember even people who present as physically beautiful and loomingly tall and effortlessly stylish are people with insecurities and doubts. It's easy to meet people at blogging conferences and think they are perfect, but nobody is perfect, and everyone has her struggles. Katherine embodies that dichotomy for me. Here is this person who looks... Continue reading
Posted Jul 10, 2014 at Surrender, Dorothy
I would love to see you, Kim! I know for sure I will be at the grammar roundtable and at the blogs to book panel, so please come say hello!
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There is something really amazing about fireflies, isn't there?
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I can't resist going outside on summer nights. It seems untenable to me that these flowers I planted six years ago can grow now as tall as I am, choking off the space around them with their stretching blooms. I didn't know what I had done. No matter how old I grow, on summer nights, I am seventeen again, pressing my face to the thick air, listening to the tree frogs and the owls and the cacophony of insects that create a din where in winter there is only silence and cold. The cold sometimes creates a sound that is not a sound, but more a feeling. The trees rustle where the boughs meet fifty feet above my head. I wonder who planted these trees or if they planted themselves. I wonder if the trees will still be here after I am gone from this place, and I am certain they will be. The trees don't care about my business. They'll offer shelter and shade to anyone and no one. Summer nights convince me that I could walk away into them, walk for miles into their thickness and here on the edge of town I could disappear into the thickets where the deer live and the coyotes howl, pressing against the edge of the houserows. They ignore our presence and continue to be wild at the edge of it. Once in high school I took a walk late on a summer night along the edge of a highway and out in the fields farmed by my relatives, I saw a million fireflies light up all at the same time. That they did that every night, that they still do that every night while I am sleeping or watching Netflix continues to center me and remind me that my little melodramas... Continue reading
Posted Jul 8, 2014 at Surrender, Dorothy
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thank you, Kim
Toggle Commented Jul 7, 2014 on It Comes, the Rain at Surrender, Dorothy
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It is the meaning of my life, at least. :)
Toggle Commented Jul 7, 2014 on It Comes, the Rain at Surrender, Dorothy
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I arrived back from my aunt's funeral around six. We'd planned to rent a pontoon all day, enjoy the lake before camping. That didn't happen, but death comes when it comes, nothing to be done about that. My aunt was a wonderful woman, and despite the Pick's disease that robbed her of her speech, what I remember most from her was conversation. I returned from the airport still in my funeral dress and immediately changed to camping gear. We managed to pitch the tent and get down burgers and s'mores before the rain came. In my grief I went straight for sleep, but within a few hours I awoke in a puddle where the tent leaked. My daughter slept through hours of thunderstorms when my husband and I sat stark awake, hands pressed against the leaky tent walls, wanting to make it to morning for her on her first night in a real tent. When the thunder peaked, she awoke and hid in her sleeping bag, and I pulled her down to me on the mat off the cot and felt that feeling a mother feels when comforting her young no matter what the age. That feeling might be the meaning of life. I woke this morning with the tent rocking in a 20-mph wind, but in the midst of my grief and exhaustion was the memory of comforting my girl with my physical self against the wind and rain, and the knowledge I would not let anything come between her and me. Continue reading
Posted Jul 6, 2014 at Surrender, Dorothy
Thanks to Grace Hwang Lynch of HapaMama for inviting me to talk shop. Check out her post here! On Writing I recently did a Skype author interview with my niece's English class. They asked when I started writing, and I realized I was younger than their 14-year-old selves when my fingers started itching. I began with poetry heavily influenced by Shel Silverstein and progressed to thinly veiled plagiarism short stories in the style of Ray Bradbury. After being published in a chapbook that I think probably published anyone who sent anything in, I had the bug bad, and it really never left. So let's talk about writing. What am I working on/writing? Right now, I am not writing anything. A few weeks ago, I sent my contemporary new adult novel, THE BIRTHRIGHT OF PARKER CLEAVES, to my agent. He said he would read it. I was happy, though I felt none of the excitement that I felt when people asked to read THE OBVIOUS GAME, because now I know not to drink the water until it's been filtered, or some other terrible metaphor for becoming jaded by the publishing beast. I have a few ideas for my next novel, but for now, I wait to see if my agent will represent PARKER CLEAVES or if I need to go to Plan B. (I do not know what Plan B is yet.) How does my writing/work differ from others in its genre? Well, for one thing, it's in my voice. I know that sounds silly, but it's true. If I find a writer I like, I'll read anything that person writes. I fangirl easily. It's my dream that people will like my voice and then want to read anything I write, and I realize that is totally vain. But it's the... Continue reading
Posted Jul 1, 2014 at Surrender, Dorothy
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On Sunday, my wonderful Tante Sue passed after a long struggle with Pick's disease. I remember most about her that she loved to socialize. Pick's stole her speech. It makes me very angry. It doesn't make sense. I hate you, Pick's. On Monday, my daughter's buddy Ka'Vyea Tyson-Curry left Children's Mercy Hospital after two months of recovery from multiple gunshot wounds. He's ten. He likes books. He did not deserve any of what he got. It makes me very angry. It doesn't make sense. But I love you, modern medicine. Thanks for saving Ka'Vyea. I miss my aunt. I'm glad Ka'Vyea is doing so well. Life. It's complicated. You just have to hold on. None of it makes sense. Maybe that's not the point. Maybe the point is just to ease each other's pain in any way we can. Continue reading
Posted Jun 30, 2014 at Surrender, Dorothy
*snort*
Toggle Commented Jun 25, 2014 on RIP, Simon the Fish at Surrender, Dorothy
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All streams go to the ocean.
Toggle Commented Jun 25, 2014 on RIP, Simon the Fish at Surrender, Dorothy
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Bettas are actually fairly hearty and only require a small bowl. And they do make eye contact, which is as good as you're going to get with a fish.
Toggle Commented Jun 25, 2014 on RIP, Simon the Fish at Surrender, Dorothy
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We maybe could've rehabbed Simon, but it was kind of painful to look at him after he ate his tail.
Toggle Commented Jun 24, 2014 on RIP, Simon the Fish at Surrender, Dorothy
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The little angel's betta fish, Simon, went down the toilet, where all streams go to the ocean, last week. I bought Simon on a whim as a surprise one day, because I had fond memories of my own betta fish in college and because I think every child needs a fish. My daughter hadn't even asked for one; it was just one of those impulse things I do as a mother because I can. When she came home from school that day, I showed her Simon, and I think I was more excited than she was, but she grew to love him and shed a tear when we made the decision that anyone who has fungus growing on his side and who has eaten part of his own tail is probably on the shady side of the tree now. RIP, Simon. We made a trip to the pet store and came home with a new tank and a new betta fish, which the little angel named Serendipity without really knowing what that name meant. I promised to buy more distilled water so we could take better care of the tank, even though Simon did actually live for three years through his murk and that is pretty good for a betta fish. It's been a week and it's time to start switching out half the water like the man at the pet shop told us to do. The man who also looked at us with his jaw dropped when we admitted we never turned out the light on Simon's tank and said, "You know they don't have eyelids, right?" and made me feel as though we had strapped Simon to a chair and played The Cure and showed him non-stop video of the bombing of Hiroshima. So now we turn out... Continue reading
Posted Jun 24, 2014 at Surrender, Dorothy
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Thanks, Julie!
Toggle Commented Jun 19, 2014 on Hotter Still Thirteen Years In at Surrender, Dorothy
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Thank you!
Toggle Commented Jun 17, 2014 on Hotter Still Thirteen Years In at Surrender, Dorothy
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