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Rita Arens
My name is Rita Arens. I like to write. A lot. Many pages.
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AMY! You showing up here on New Year's Eve #2020 has given me hope for 2021. Thank you! ONWARD!
Toggle Commented Jan 3, 2021 on How do I continue? at Surrender, Dorothy
1 reply
Typepad, you are useless. I should have left you decades ago. But, much like an AOL email address, I’m just too lazy to quit you. I talked to my husband about this. “I know a person,” I said. but the effort to clean up 15-year-old writing feels similar to an abandoned wood bench. It would feel good to purge it, but good enough to warrant the effort? One wonders. I am waiting to emerge from this pandemic. I have a third novel in me. I need the library back to write it. I need to get out of my house. My work. I need for my world to be a platform to jump beyond myself again. I need my world to be bigger. I need to migrate this website to something better. I need to write another novel. I need for the world to take its mask off and breathe in, breathe out, and move on. Continue reading
Posted Dec 28, 2020 at Surrender, Dorothy
Y'all. It's been four months since the U.S.A. admitted there was a problem, since I got sent home with my laptop and my oversized monitor. I feel like I should record this for posterity, but what to say? I have never in my lifetime donned a mask, homemade or otherwise, for any reason other than sanding drywall. Now, a mask is slung around my gear shift of my car, and I have an entire kitchen drawer dedicated to PPE. I'm making choices about whether to allow the little angel to work (masked) and attend school (masked) versus struggle with online schooling not up to par with her level of learning. I'm trying -- really hard -- to also remember what it feels like to be sixteen. She has very few of the freedoms I had at that age. I also want to observe, in this moment, what feels good: Sweating out a 90-degree run on my front steps Jumping into a pool on a hot summer day Letting the breeze hit the soles of your feet A deer making eye contact as they graze in the gloaming The nose flare of a horse who is thirsty seconds before you lift the water bucket to its lips The satisfaction of a barn cat who seldom is granted human touch Snapping a cover on a pontoon after a beautiful summer afternoon Saving a powerpoint that's been months in the making Reflecting on a book that hasn't yet been written Asking yourself what is left on your list even if this pandemic shrinks your timeframe I spend a lot of time hoping me and mine don't perish in this pandemic. I hope you and yours don't, either. I guess none of us know. Continue reading
Posted Jul 25, 2020 at Surrender, Dorothy
This week, my daughter finally got her license, a month and a week after the intended date circled on my calendar. I took her birthday off months in advance, but when April 6 rolled around, all the government offices were closed. School was closed, the sleepover was weeks beyond cancelled. Life felt cancelled. We spent the day instead celebrating her existence any way I could think to do. As Missouri and the world cautiously peeps out from behind closed drapes, I'm vacillating wildly inside. Part of me looks at those around me cavalierly chatting an arms' length away without a mask or apparently a care in the world and wonders if I am punishing myself and my family unreasonably. The other part keeps clicking on horrifying tales from Queens hospitals as if to remind myself why I'm home. We found this fawn in our yard this morning. Animal Control thinks he may have been born last night. I check on him every few hours to see if his mama has come back yet. His pose is my mental state during the pandemic. At the beginning of all this, I bought new novel-writing software and dug out the novel-in-progress I started multiple years ago. I, like many, thought I'd be so productive without commuting or being able to socialize outside my yard. I misestimated how much mental effort it would take to keep myself grounded from day to day. The level of effort to keep my anxiety from spiralling out of control has ebbed and fallen. I never know if tonight I will wake up at four am unable to find my way back to sleep, or if I'll hit my alarm five times with the feeling of dead exhaustion I haven't experienced since my vitamin D levels dropped dangerously in... Continue reading
Posted May 17, 2020 at Surrender, Dorothy
Easter 2020. It's the day my daughter was due, exactly 16 years ago. She came a week early. We named her Lily, anyway. I just watched the filmed-from-home version of SNL. At the end, they paid tribute to a crew member who passed away of COVID-19. And y'all, it just broke me. We sit here in our houses, trying to make fun of Zoom meetings and not wearing pants, celebrating the Tiger King and carbs. Trying to ignore the fact we're stacking corpses in refrigerated trucks in New York City. Most days, I can play stay buoyant with the rest of America. Something about the raw reality of watching comedians try to be funny from walk-up apartments while paying homage to the sound guy from afar just got me. I want to go inside a place other than my house. I want to hug my friends. I want to hug my parents. In the wee hours, I'm scared of my daughter getting intubated. I'm afraid of my loved ones dying. I know we're all terminal, but not all at once. The hard bit of this is to not lean in to the fear. To embrace the boredom and the weight gain and the exhaustion that comes from being on video for eight hours straight rather than the real human terror of a global pandemic, something that used to be the stuff of sci-fi pulp fiction and streaming third-rate thriller films. Tonight, I cried for the sound guy. And for spring 2020. And for the seniors who don't get prom or graduation, the families who unexpectedly said goodbye to someone important, to the exhausted medical workers and Amazon warehouse workers. For the hair stylists and dry cleaner owners who face bankruptcy. I hope we never have another Easter like this one,... Continue reading
Posted Apr 12, 2020 at Surrender, Dorothy
So I've lost track of the days. I remember the Friday - how many weeks was it ago? When I stood in the parking garage elevator clasping my computer monitor, prepared to work from home for however long it took. I thought it would be like a week. I was so wrong. Now I think it will be until at least the end of April. I just left a ten dollar bill under a rock for my Door Dasher. It'll be the first food not prepared by us we've eaten in two weeks. The little angel hasn't spoken in person to anyone her age in as long. Today I saw some week-old kittens. We went to the barn, where there were considerably fewer humans than lambs, goats, cats and horses. We kept a six-foot distance from the humans. Oh, but it's spring, and it's warmer, and it's windy. It's terrifying to not be able to plan for a week, a month from now. The news every day is awful. I've become too paralyzed to write. I've almost decided to delay my next novel until the little angel goes to college. I almost wonder if it will take that long for the world to right itself. My incisions sort of burn. They will heal soon. It's weird to think that I've finally achieved my breast cancer door prize. That it's over, as incredibly bizarre as the surgeries were. ONWARD. Continue reading
Posted Mar 28, 2020 at Surrender, Dorothy
It's been a while since I've been any sort of regular blogger. But hello, 2020! What a nice surprise to remind us that sometimes journaling is important. So ... my second surgery to end the breast cancer reconstruction experiment 2020 is scheduled for Wednesday. 48 hours from now. And I'm not sure at all that it will actually happen at this moment. Life is that fluid. I left work on Friday, huge monitor in hand, kind of in shock. We were told we'd be working from home for the near future. Some friends left for spring break. I thought about my daughter's sweet 16th birthday sleepover. Life felt pretty normal. Monday. Bars, restaurants shut down. Co-workers on spring break domestic and abroad all but stranded. New normal all Microsoft Teams meetings. Meanwhile, industry charges on. My surgeon called me. Told me as of this minute, I'm still having my procedure on Wednesday. Cried twice today. Co-worker's wedding just got cancelled. Multiple people on my team worried about being single parents having to homeschool their elementary school children while also working. Nobody has toilet paper, milk or butter. I write young adult novels. I read all these stories in the late 2000s. WHAT IS HAPPENING? So, I decided to come back to blogging in this bizarre social experiment called COVID-19. Today, we contemplated cancelling my little angel's sweet 16. Today, a co-worker had to cancel her damn wedding. Today, I have friends flung wide domestic and abroad, and I'm actually worried about them getting home. I don't recognize my country or my world. And at the same time, my world has shrunk to the less than 2k square feet of my home. The three people and one cat who reside here. For the next eight weeks - is this it? What... Continue reading
Posted Mar 16, 2020 at Surrender, Dorothy
It's been 28 days since my first surgery. I was so naive about the recovery. I am historically inclined to overestimate my stamina and pain tolerance, but I really outdid myself this time. I went back to working from home full-time two weeks ago, and last week I went into the office four out of five days. I also somehow managed to bust a blood vessel in my eye and pull some part of me that used to be my full lat muscle so that on Thursday morning I tried to sit up in bed and couldn't. It's odd, after a surgery, when you look fairly normal and you're trying to act normal and the world bustles on around you. It's almost harder psychologically when you still feel so vulnerable to jostling or seatbelt rubbing or even lifting something larger than a milk carton while trying to fake normal life. I remember not taking enough time after my lumpectomy and bursting into tears on Monday morning when someone asked me what I did over the weekend, because I had spent the weekend recovering from my Friday surgery and the loss of more than a third of my breast. I hadn't told most of my co-workers I had cancer. Last week and this weekend, I suffered a very bad mood. There have been deep bouts of anxiety throughout this whole process. Some might have been influenced by all the painkillers, if I'm to believe their pharmacy inserts. Some of it, no doubt, is seasonal. Some hormonal. A lot related to my inability to do the things that help the most -- running, lifting weights, taking a bath. And the overwhelming realization that I didn't have to have reconstruction. I did this to myself. So this morning, I woke up and looked... Continue reading
Posted Feb 16, 2020 at Surrender, Dorothy
Last Monday I had the first surgery in a phase of breast cancer reconstruction. Basically some of my back moved to my front via my armpit. It's as gnarly as it sounds. I've had three drain tubes trailing directly out of my skin for over a week now. Totally reminds me of The Matrix. It's been a hard week or so. The night after my surgery I stayed in the hospital, pretty much drifting in and out of episodes of American Greed. My nurse was 15 minutes late with my morphine the first time. He made some joke about how my doctor had so no more morphine, and I told him it wasn't funny at all. The second time he was 45 minutes late. I'm sure there was a reason, but it just goes to show people can decide their hustle based on how they feel about you. Not so well played, Rita Arens. I didn't really understand what had happened to me until I finally found an animation that wasn't too gross. Now I understand why the healing has been going what to me feels like so slow. I was back at work four days after my lumpectomy, after all. It was way too soon emotionally, but I was fine physically. This time has been the opposite, except for two big cry days. Last night I went to sleep at midnight and Beloved woke me up at 1 pm. I remember getting up with my alarms to take hydrocodone at four and eight am and my other pills at 9, but each time the fog enveloped me again pretty quickly. If he hadn't woken me up, I think I could've slept 24 hours straight. I do feel better, though. The reason I wanted to write, other than to capture... Continue reading
Posted Jan 31, 2020 at Surrender, Dorothy
Beloved called me this afternoon to say the wood floor guy called, like, a few months early to say our wood is in, and could he bring it over tomorrow? Except that meant I needed to clear out six floor-to-ceiling bookshelves between dinner and the work left over from today. With MY BABBEE'S childhood memorabilia, along with my master's thesis, gifts from family members, copies of three books (one out of print) and photo albums dating back to college. Oh, and in the space I used for eight lovely years when I worked for BlogHer from my house, where I greeted my daughter each day when she got off the big yellow bus from kindergarten through sixth or seventh grade. This won't take long. The biggest thing I noticed, though, in scooping out books I loved from writers I used to email daily to my daughter's early elementary accomplishments, is how far away I've grown from the daily documenting of my own life. In leaving BlogHer, I left blogging, and tweeting, and really ... all of it. In some ways, it's okay, because the little angel does not want me documenting her life anymore. It's her life, after all, not mine. My dad always says your right to swing your arm ceases when it connects with someone's face, and writing about my teen feels like that. Like telling you the story of my current parenting situation would be stepping out of the bounds of my experience and treading on hers. I'm not interested in doing that. There are, however, some things I've forgotten to write down. I always thought teenagers would hate me. She doesn't. Unbelievable. Watching your child drive is both terrifying and awesome. I owned a horse as a kid. My daughter seems more confident than I ever... Continue reading
Posted Oct 21, 2019 at Surrender, Dorothy
The light is here longer now. My girl is finishing her freshman year of high school. She just got a learner's permit. She's a better horseback rider than I am and wields a mean powerpoint. And oh, my God, how is it possible she's going to be a high school sophomore in a few weeks? I started this blog on my maternity leave. I started it because I didn't know how to process what I was feeling about being a mother. That totally hasn't changed in fifteen years. I still don't know how to process what I feel as a mother, except now that I'm here, I want to say this to the me there, the one who started this blog at this time of year in 2004. It turns out okay, Rita. I want to say that to the me who cried in the shower every morning at 23, not sure if I would find my way. I want to say that to the me who paced for miles up and down gravel roads at 17, the me who worried about grades at 12. The me who was afraid my mom would die young. The me who was afraid of tornadoes and fires as a kid. It's not over yet, but so far, Rita, it's been okay. Your life turned out okay. You got married, and you still are. You gave birth to an amazing girl who only got more amazing with every year. You live in the Midwest, and you like it. Your friends are amazing people who have your back through everything, even cancer. You did write those books you said you would write. Your body held up. You can still carry your own groceries and think your own thoughts. When I was in my twenties, I... Continue reading
Posted May 20, 2019 at Surrender, Dorothy
Tonight I saw some commentary on DadSummit about a device that simulated breastfeeding. I had some feelings. My friend Doug French encouraged me to write. So here goes. I have one child. She's fourteen. She's healthy and happy. I only breastfed her for seven weeks, because that was the minimum my OB-GYN gave me for her health. I hated breastfeeding. Imagine, my men, what it would feel like to have a part of your body that you had always associated as a secondary sex charactaristic suddenly turned into your baby's only method of survival. Someone suddenly told you that unless you gave up what you had always associated as part of your sexuality, your baby might die. Welcome to being a woman. I wasn't onboard. I didn't like the feeling of satisfaction breastfeeding gave me. I considered that part of my sexuality. I spent 45 minutes on each side trying to get three ounces of milk. My baby cried and fed constantly. I never slept. Every three hours, it started over again. I moved to formula. La Leche League hated me. That was 13 years ago. You guys, she's fine. This child has missed one day of school for illness in ninth grade, and that was due to a stomach virus. Thank God she had all her vaccinations, because don't get me started. And so I had a reaction tonight to a simulated breastfeeding scenario for men. I saw their comments as dismissive and resistive. I thought, you know, it must be really nice to be given a hard pass by society to feed a child with your bodily bluids. Cry me a river, men. Seriously. I'm 45. I've had one pregnancy, one childbirth. I have suffered endometriosis, where part of my uterine blood escaped into other parts of my... Continue reading
Posted Mar 19, 2019 at Surrender, Dorothy
I never really processed the radiation tattoos. Six little dots. Freckles, they called them. I was happy they weren't my first ink. I had two real tattoos before those six dots. I assume there are plenty of straight-laced ladies who were horrified to get their first ink in this way. My breast cancer still doesn't feel real. I see people with pink ribbons and I don't resonate with them. Mine was so early, so unexpected, so ... in some ways, harmless, compared to what other people face. My broken ankle feels more real than cancer did. Isn't that odd? Broken bones are so innocuous. But .... the tattoos remain. When I go to put on a bra. When I go to think about a swimsuit. What is that mark? Oh, yeah. I had cancer. Really? You? Yeah, actually, just a few years ago. 2017. It's 2019. That was like, yesterday. It would be easier to forget all that happened. If there weren't tattoos. They aren't freckles. They never were. Continue reading
Posted Feb 15, 2019 at Surrender, Dorothy
I never really processed the radiation tattoos. Six little dots. Freckles, they called them. I was happy they weren't my first ink. I had two real tattoos before those six dots. I assume there are plenty of straight-laced ladies who were horrified to get their first ink in this way. My breast cancer still doesn't feel real. I see people with pink ribbons and I don't resonate with them. Mine was so early, so unexpected, so ... in some ways, harmless, compared to what other people face. My broken ankle feels more real than cancer did. Isn't that odd? Broken bones are so innocuous. But .... the tattoos remain. When I go to put on a bra. When I go to think about a swimsuit. What is that mark? Oh, yeah. I had cancer. Really? You? Yeah, actually, just a few years ago. 2017. It's 2019. That was like, yesterday. It would be easier to forget all that happened. If there weren't tattoos. They aren't freckles. They never were. Continue reading
Posted Feb 15, 2019 at Surrender, Dorothy
I've used this boot twice before. Seriously, this is ridiculous. In the past, however, it's been my fault. Stress fractures from running longer and harder than a nonathlete with flat feet should. This time, a very tall, very large horse accidentally stepped on my foot and broke a toe. The doc with the X-ray warned me if I didn't wear the boot, I'd end up with arthritis and also not be able to run without pain. He also told me that if I were eighteen, I'd probably heal within a week. Thanks, motherfucker. So this week, I wore this giant sofa on my foot to my corporate job with a normal black leather boot on the other foot. I clomped around the office for four days before giving myself a giant overcompensation injury, supination. In other words, I woke up on Friday morning barely able to put any weight on my left foot. I broke a toe on my right foot. So, yeah. I iced my left foot and realized my Mac was down to 60% and I'd left the power cord at work. I headed in with a sneaker on my left foot and a sofa on my right foot and kissed any hope of looking cool at work goodbye for at least six months. There's something about looking physically weak at work that is especially threatening to me. Clomping is not my jam. So now it's been a week. The doctor initially told me I'd be in a boot for three weeks. I think I'm going to get an X-ray next Saturday, just to see. Maybe I'm closer to eighteen than he thinks. So many people have been curious this week as to what I could've possibly done to end up in a boot. That's kind of crazy... Continue reading
Posted Feb 2, 2019 at Surrender, Dorothy
Tonight the little angel introduced me to Ari's Seven Rings. Cultural appropriation aside, I need to react on a whole 'nother level. That's not really setting cultural appropriation aside ... I just have another subject to also introduce, and others have handled the appropriation better than I would. Dude. What is wrong with us? When are we going to realize that buying stuff doesn't solve anything? Sorry, Ari. I just can't listen to this and take it at face value -- you've never been one to brag on your dollars before, and I just don't want to hear it now. Wearing a ring, but ain't goin' to be no "Mrs." Bought matching rings for six of my bitches. I'd rather spoil my friends with all of my riches, think retail therapy is my new addiction. I'm picturing Ari and her girl gang with their new matching diamond rings, probably enormous diamond rings, and realizing once again that even though I personally look around at other people's diamonds and think they are awesome, diamonds are actully not fungible. We only care about them because a long time ago, a diamond miner decided we should celebrate marriage that way. Diamonds aren't rare. Think about it. Diamonds are like assholes, and everybody's got one. I'm not proud of the fact I look at other women's diamonds knowing that those diamonds have absolutely zero zilch zippo to do with the men's or women's who presented the diamonds love for their partner. Your love is not actually reflected in carats, regardless of what the industry would like us to think. I'm going to be forty-five in a few weeks, and I keep waiting for maturity. Why do I care about diamonds and square footage and thread count? Why do I think having nice things is... Continue reading
Posted Jan 22, 2019 at Surrender, Dorothy
Over the past year or so, I've been having what I'll call a stress dream over finding an apartment because I suddenly realize I have to go back to college. I graduated from the University of Iowa over twenty years ago. In all the time I lived there, through two dorm rooms, one sorority house and three apartments with approximately fifteen roommates, I don't recall losing any sleep over where I was going to live. I didn't go to graduate school in Iowa City. I went to graduate school in Kansas City, as an adult living with my now husband. I have no idea why I've constructed this storyline in my head. I realized last night that I have a created a whole town in dreamland that doesn't exist in reality, and I've revisited it several times now. There's the two-story duplex with the leaky sunporch and hilly back garden planted with flowers I don't know how to grow. Its windows and doors don't lock, and I'm constantly closing the shades. It has a pool I have no idea how to chlorinate. It's on a street that doesn't exist and that I've researched several times over the past year in my dreams, trying to find my way back to my bedroom there, the one with the four-poster bed I've never owned. The union where I buy groceries in my dreams is located just south of a four-story library I never saw in real life but where I study constantly in my dreams, sure I'm about to fail. There is a cupola at the top that plays calliope music at all times. Raindrops on roses, and whiskers on kittens. In this town, I keep driving past a row of restaurants in Omaha that doesn't exist. I really like the Mexican one... Continue reading
Posted Dec 25, 2018 at Surrender, Dorothy
Today I had a worlds-colliding moment when a new co-worker commented on an old practice of mine, which is to say, blogging. He called it "Facebook," which is totally fair - that's one of the places my blog bleeds out to. And he complimented me on my writing. In my head, I was all: Thanks, sir; all the rest is mute. William Shakespeare Because even now, when I went to put that quote in there, I had to pop the hood up on Typepad, creaky old bitch that she is, and look at the HTML, because the WYSIWYG editor doesn't even work anymore. I'm like the old couple in The Princess Bride who give you a cure for being only partially dead but then tell you to not go in swimming for at least an hour. "Well, hidee ho! Let's take a look at that href tag!" But can I just say, wow, that felt amazing! Thank you, dude, for reading old words of mine from months ago and realizing I was a person before I came to the cube next door. I don't pay my corporate job any disservice, but it was still fun that for an amazing decade people paid me for my voice. A few weeks ago, one of the little angel's friends did THE OBVIOUS GAME for a book talk. I was driving them to whatever and heard her talking about how she chose the wig lady scene to highlight and I had this moment where I realized my daughter's best friends took my writing seriously enough to talk about it at school. Guys, I can't tell you. I just can't tell you. I have always been one to write fan letters to my favorite authors. I've never had a letter back, but I do believe... Continue reading
Posted Nov 27, 2018 at Surrender, Dorothy
This week, I've spent time thinking about how much my life has changed in the past decade. In 2008, I was fresh off the publication of my first book and in the heyday of blogging as a service, BaaS, if you will humor my acronyms. Oh my, how life has changed. In the time that has passed since my departure from BlogHer/SheKnows Media, I've ceased to have a professional reason to be on social media. And, to some extent, my appetite for it has decreased. I finished another novel, which will come out from InkSpell Publishing in August 2019. It will be a labor of love, in that I care more about the themes of the book and in good sentences more than in the book's commercial success. That is a departure from my first two books. In those, I truly hoped for commercial success. Now, I understand a writer's chanches of making the front table at B&N are akin to a singer's chances of winning The Voice and then having a hit single a year later - so many people I talk to think somehow this art is different from that art, and ... it's not. But that's okay. There are too many people who think making art is only relevant if that art makes a living income. I know a lot of extremely talented artists and writers. Very few are able to survive solely on their art. Most depend also on income from speaking, teaching or brand representation. We no longer live in a society where artists have landed gentry sponsors. So, why, if it is so hard to make a living at art, do we still make art? Because it's important. Rise up from your couches, oh, Americans. Break free from your must-see TV and your Facebook... Continue reading
Posted Nov 7, 2018 at Surrender, Dorothy
Sign up in the left nav to get my now quarterly newsletter. 'Cuz there's news in there, seriously. Continue reading
Posted Oct 14, 2018 at Surrender, Dorothy
It must be very difficult to be the child of a blogger. It was a grand experiment, this parenting blogging thing, and we navigated it by making a lot of mistakes, trying to figure out as we went along how much of ourselves to share and where the line was between us and our babies. In SLEEP IS FOR THE WEAK, I wrote a lot about the struggles of parenting. I didn't write enough about the joy. Now the parent of an amazing fourteen-year-old girl, I've waited too long to revisit what it feels like to be a mother. I've often told my daughter that she can't possibly love me more than I love her. I still believe that to be true. The love I feel for her goes beyond human love to being love. It is both intellectual and instinctual in that I wouldn't have to actually think about throwing myself in front of a bus for her. I wouldn't be able to make the choice not to. I love her too much. But it's intellectual, too, because I love her not only because she's my child, but for her intelligence, her humor, and her resilience. She's bravely survived both my husband and I losing jobs and all the financial uncertainty and sacrifice that came of that. She bore my cancer without complaint and wrote a heartbreaking poem about the experience that showed me not only her writing talent but the depth of her maturity at such a young age. She has understood the world better as a very young child than many adults do, and that understanding gives her empathy for others -- and for me -- that I don't deserve and shouldn't be able to expect from a teenager who's still growing up and going through so... Continue reading
Posted Jun 14, 2018 at Surrender, Dorothy
In 2009, I left my corporate job for a job in the blogosphere. At the time, it was my dream job. We had a good run. In that time, I watched many of my contemporaries make a living from their words and then fall from the industry as the way media works changed. Now, my TIME magazine is 100 pages shorter per issue and the headlines are more dominated by the royal wedding than they are a school shooting or Hawaii being ruined by a volcano. I remember the day Osama bin Laden died. I found out on a Sunday night, around midnight. We needed to cover it. So it goes. Media has died. I half-heartedly spoon sand over it and click on the next cat video. In 2017, I re-entered corporate America. Two weeks ago, I landed back in the building I've always felt most comfortable in. The art hanging on the walls is familiar. My heels make the right noise walking across the tiles of the floor. Even the sound of the noise-canceling swoosh makes coming back seem normal and good. And the view from the 16th floor of an all-glass building made sunglasses inside seem not ridiculous. I'm back at the company where I first took heat for blogging, back when blogging was a thing. My co-workers at my last job, the first re-entry, would sigh and roll their eyes whenever I referenced the eight years I spent in media. "Oh," they'd say. "Are you talking about THAT again?" That. When blogging was a thing. Continue reading
Posted May 19, 2018 at Surrender, Dorothy
I met Janelle Hanchett in person backstage at BlogHer's Voices of the Year show, where she was preparing to read "We Don't Start Out With Needles in Our Arms." She was also wearing a baby at the time. We spent about five minutes debating whether or not said baby should be worn onto the stage (I was a fan of the idea in theory but, having worn a baby myself in the past, not a fan of the reality of having a baby anywhere near a microphone in a room of 3,000 people). Janelle's story is a shocker, both for its rock-bottom and for its normal. I volunteered to be on the launch team for her memoir, I'M JUST HAPPY TO BE HERE, because after putting out a book about mental illness myself, I get how scary that is. Not only are you sort of laying yourself bare as a writer, you're exposing to the Instagram world what mental illness really feels like. Janelle's story is one of addiction and recovery, but I recognized in her writing a lot of the same rage I've felt at times in my life and the same mental pain that is so severe it feels physical. What I've always admired about Janelle's writing: Her beautiful sentences. While I feel confident she could turn the mundane details of life into art, she's got some pretty compelling material to work with, and the result is truly important writing. A few of my favorite quotes: I signed my daughter out, chatted with the receptionist, held my girl's hand to the car to make sure she was safe, and all these actions felt like tiny miracles. I gave the death glare to the woman when I saw her in the parking lot, because I was sober, not Jesus.... Continue reading
Posted Apr 12, 2018 at Surrender, Dorothy
In 2010, I wrote a post about anorexia and Dr. Phil. Shortly after that, I wrote a response on BlogHer which seems to have been lost in the abyss. Shortly before I was laid off from SheKnows Media (which acquired BlogHer and is now being acquired by Penske Media, I transferred some of my posts to Medium on a lark. One of them was 5 Things You Should Know About Your Girlfriend With an Eating Disorder. I've said it before: It's amazing, but I have received between 3-5 emails a week since I originally wrote the article sometime between 2010 and 2016 (yes, I admit, I don't have the will to research my posts on BlogHer -- it's painful). Originally I tried to write back individually to people, and at one point I had a six-month ongoing conversation with a mom, but after a while it became too overwhelming to keep up with all of the stories. And, after all, I wrote a book about this whole thing. So I started sending back this reply to the people who write me: I get so many emails like this I put everything I know about eating disorders and recovery in a novel called THE OBVIOUS GAME. You could read it together and use it as a conversation starter. Either way it should help you understand. Good luck - there is a lot about romantic relationships and how they are affected in the book. RJBA One time prior to today someone had an adverse reaction to this response, saying I was trying to sell them a book. I pointed out that THEY wrote ME, and that was the end of it. So imagine my surprise when today, I got this: "send me an email and I will answer your questions" "Fuck you... Continue reading
Posted Apr 2, 2018 at Surrender, Dorothy
I caught a few minutes of The Voice tonight. I haven't watched it since Christina Grimmie was killed. That was a bit of a perspective-setter about fame. In this episode, Kelly Clarkson was having a moment. I assume from context clues that Alicia Keys has been nabbing all the hot young things to the extent it started to give Kelly a complex. She didn't even want to turn around for a fabulous voice because she said, "There's no way I will win," or something to that effect. Oh, Kelly, I feel you. This is not a love song. Here's the thing: Any time you try something new, put yourself out there, no matter how high you've risen in your field or in your art, isn't there always an Alicia Keys? Isn't there always someone who intimidates you because they are amazing in their own skin, in their own art, and that confidence somehow feels threatening, as though there were a finite amount of wins in the universe? Because there are not: A finite amount of wins. Kelly Clarkson is a thousand million times more successful than I am, a thousand million times richer, more talented. In that moment, though, I wanted to grab her ears and look into her eyes and tell her to levelset, my friend, because you are all that and more and you need to have a Coke and a smile and shut the fuck up. You. Are. All. That. I know, right? Getting through a career is hard. It is so hard. You get knocked down, laid off, hired again, budget cut, high expectations, no expectations, no team, huge team, quarterly dividends, what did you say, again? And then you start again. Over and over and over. A fifty-year career is no longer a fifty-year career,... Continue reading
Posted Mar 13, 2018 at Surrender, Dorothy