Here’s our Resident Alien, Season 2, review:
Otherwise, just adjusting to being a second-class citizen, getting a red robe & white bonnet in my size… You know, the usual.
The creative nonfiction piece I wrote about here is now up at The Pine Cone Review. I’m fond of it, although it would have taken a truly spectacular piece to start to do Isabella justice. The Pine Cone team has paired “Magic” with an appropriate picture focusing on a dropped and broken ice cream cone. Many thanks to the editors.
One of my violin students is a magic child. She always wears magic clothes. Last lesson it was a retro kimono over athleisurewear. Sometimes it is a glittering unicorn t-shirt. Other times, lots of sequins. It’s not just her wardrobe, either. Sometimes she “is” an animal. Other times, she expresses astonishment over my (very rudimentary) piano playing, as if it were miraculous. Always, she gives the impression of living in her own world, a world where anything could happen, at any time. She also has a magical name: Isabella.
She is eight years old–a magical age. When I was eight, I remember visiting some friends of my mother’s in Rome. They were a couple–grown-ups, but young grown-ups. I called the man, whose name was George, “the Wizard” (not sure why–I had read some of The Hobbit by then), and I had a great time with him. He gave me a copy of Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, which I loved because my third-grade teacher, whom I had left behind at my regular school, had worked on a reservation and woke us all up to the sufferings of Native peoples. It was magic to be in Rome with cool adults, to be allowed to swing George’s hand and carry his umbrella, and to talk about books with him. I know eight is a magical age.
So of course I had to write about Isabella. I juxtaposed her magic with Ukraine’s surprising and seemingly miraculous defense against the Russian invasion, and the editors of The Pine Cone Review accepted my flash creative nonfiction for Issue 4. I look forward to seeing it there and to familiarizing myself with the publication. It is interesting because it is rooted in “brown” identity–the staff are from various formerly colonized nations–but open to a mix of perspectives, as long as they are creative voices. I feel this is a hopeful and positive approach in our divided world. It seems like the sort of magic we need.
My friend Rena died in October. As her artwork suggests, she was an endlessly creative person. She was also full of love for all things good and beautiful and perpetually curious about the world. She left a lot of great art behind–I am fortunate to have a small collection of it–and her family and friends are making a book to share her art and spirit with others, especially people who might be interested in displaying her works. I’m proud to say they have accepted my short tribute to Rena for this volume.
I will just tell a short anecdote here, which is one of my favorite Rena memories. Rena’s friend wrote Under the Tuscan Sun, so Rena and her husband Steve were invited to the Hollywood premiere of the movie. They chose to attend their granddaughters’ violin recital instead (I was the girls’ teacher). While I was (though flattered) still reeling from this decision, Rena came up with a plan to have our own premiere when the movie came to our town. We all put on strings of pearls, sunglasses, and other stuff we imagined Hollywood people would wear, and we gave each other air kisses and called each other “dahling.” A wonderful time was had by all.
I’ll leave you with another work by Rena that I am privileged to own.
Thanks to Editors Jessica and Allison, of FEED Literary Magazine, for publishing my flash CNF, “Memory,” today (scroll down–it’s the second piece). As I mentioned when FEED accepted it, I wrote about the piece here. Having reread it just now, and viewed it in the context of some other works in the magazine, I think it fits with a sense in some of those pieces that something irretrievable has already been lost for the vulnerable speakers before they begin. The editors kindly called my piece “mesmerizing,” but I think that characterizes the alienated questing in many of the works in FEED.
So if you find yourself needing a dose of something dark, melancholy, and beautiful, head on over, do a little reading, and, as always, let me know what you think.
I am happy to report that my flash CNF, “Memory,” has been accepted by FEED. Many thanks to Editors Jessica and Allison. I am especially thankful because this piece was accepted before, by Rum Punch, but it stopped publication before “Memory” could appear on its site.
I wrote about the piece on this blog back then, so I will only add now that although I say in “Memory” that people don’t travel by freighter, this form of transportation actually seems to be having a bit of a vogue, judging by the search for photos I just conducted, but the most popular cruises appear to be local coastal ones. I don’t think a lot of people choose this option for transatlantic trips. I clearly remember that when we returned to Europe in 1973 almost nothing of the kind was available.
So I look forward to seeing my strange memory trip back to what was still essentially mid-twentieth-century American life out in print soon. In the meantime, I will be familiarizing myself more fully with the contents of FEED.
Xena: Cosplay at the 2014 New York Comic Con.
I am pleased to say that my essay, “How I Became a Social Justice Warrior Princess,” is up at Lemon Theory. Many thanks to Editor Sarah McKinnon for seeing merit in the piece. It’s about how literature helped me understand the nature of patriarchal power and how, as a woman, I could have a constructive relationship to that power. I did not conclude that it could have a constructive relationship to me. Moreover, I try to remain mindful that as a white, middle-class, cisgender woman I also occupy a privileged position in relation to other groups, but I believe the path I sketch is relevant to everyone’s relations to power.
Finally, it may be a stretch to call myself a “social justice warrior.” As a violinist, I cannot attend political meetings or many demonstrations during other people’s after-work hours, so I am perhaps not active enough to justify that title. But I show up when I can and give what I feel I can, and besides, I couldn’t resist the phrase, “social justice warrior princess.”
In the interim between my acceptance and publication at Lemon Theory, I have managed to read a little of it, and thoroughly recommend it, especially to young women struggling with issues surrounding female identity and mental health. There is also a section and an editor devoted to issues pertaining to military troops, which I believe is laudable and much needed. So please check it out and help a deserving fledgling enterprise spread its wings.
When I was about a year and a half old, my family crossed the Atlantic on a freighter. I was struck that, although I had no memory of the trip, some memories came back to me in a dream when I was seven, after I had been looking at pictures of us on the boat. This fragmentary tie back to a time that was already lost in many ways moved me to write about it for a contest that called for 200 words on the theme of separation.
I did not win the contest, but I have now placed the piece in Rum Punch. At the moment, the editors and I are deciding how to change its name, but I’m sure we’ll have one soon. I’ll announce and post a link when it comes out.
My autobiographical essay, Audit, 2016, is up in Wiki Lit, which I wrote about here when the essay was accepted. The piece is a meditation on my life, what it means and what it amounts to, using questions on the income tax form as prompts. I like it because it seems to wander, but in the end concisely articulates who I am. Besides being a good way to get to know me better in a hurry, it is also a fun reinterpretation of tax terms and something of a commentary on their limitations.
I hope you will read it and let me know what you think.
Photo credit: United States Internal Revenue Service. IRS Form 1040. 2011. https://www.irs.gov. PD.