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Binders, Guest Posts

It Can’t Wait

June 3, 2015

beauty-hunting-jen-logo-black1-300x88By Dina L. Relles

“Just raise your children,” my grandmother barks, “raising three boys nearly on your own is enough for now. Save the writing for later. It can wait.”

I look over to where she’s sitting in the Prius I take to pick her up most Saturdays. Her lipstick bleeds into the cracks fanning out from her mouth. She’s worn that turquoise velour shirt three days running. Her voice is raspy from the cigarettes she smoked when she was younger that she finally gave up for her second husband. I’m not sure she considers it a fair trade.

I briefly wonder what it’s like to be at the end of a life.

***

It’s 3am. My legs are tired from chasing after the children, eyes ache from endless articles read by phone while the TV drones in the background.

I woke to meet the blank page, where I can stand still.

From the next room, I hear his little body, heavy with sleep, roll from one side of the bed to the other as he heaves a waking sigh. I shift to the backspace key instead of the mouse because the click is quieter. I wait, silent, thinking maybe he’ll settle back down. He doesn’t. I throw a glance at my emptied bed as a text comes through on my phone: “Alive. Crazy night. Three cases; didn’t sleep. Loving you.”

This was our choice: he would work around the clock; I would parent the same. But even a life chosen can weigh heavily. And foresight is only as good as the distance you can see ahead.

Save. Exit. Good morning.

***

A recent closet purge uncovers early journals—one in pale purples and teals with its tiny silver lock that my father brought home from Israel. Another—smaller, magenta with “My Diary” in gold lettering—details an eleven-year-old’s heartbreak at overnight camp.

Tiny, tightly folded papers in yellows and whites—passed in French class or high school hallways—are carefully stowed in a rusting tin box with a black handle. Next to it sits the “novel” I penned as a preteen, handwritten in fading pencil on college ruled loose leaf pages, bound with fraying yellow yarn.

I’ve been writing all my life. Continue Reading…

Guest Posts, Jen's Musings, Owning It!

Here’s What The F*ck I Am Going To Do About It.

February 26, 2015

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By Jen Pastiloff.

For Lidia Yuknavitch, my teacher, my heart sister, my friend.

I haven’t blogged in a while so here I am. Hi, hello, hi. I’m in Los Angeles, here at home for a few days before I hit the road again for more workshops.

A few weeks ago, I led a retreat in Ojai, California, with Lidia Yuknavitch, who wrote The Chronology of Water. The Writing & The Body Retreat. And yes, it was everything you’d imagine- and then some. And yes, we are doing it again in September.

In my own workshops, I ask people to write about the things that get in their way and the fears they have and what they are afraid of. I ask them to write and share about all sorts of things. That’s why the subtitle is On Being Human. It is not a “writing” workshop, per se, although there’s writing. Mostly, it’s about what it means to be a human being. They laugh and cry and let the snot fly, as I like to say.

And then I always ask this: Now what? Now what?

So you wrote about it and shared it out loud and you may “want to be a writer” and you may not, no matter really, what really matters is this: what now?

Writing and sharing is hard, and I think a pretty big deal, but you can write until you are blue in the face and go on retreats and camps and workshops and whatever but what are you going to do?

This is where I get stuck.

I talk a good talk.

But then I sit here and stare out the window all day.

So, when Lidia gives a prompt that is so similar to what I ask except she asks it in her Lidia-esque way, I know that this woman is my heart. She asks the group what was main thing was that was getting in their way. I participated in this one.

What was getting in my way? She asked us to write down the first thing we thought of.

Okay, done.

My own self gets in my way. Me.

Then she gave this exact prompt, and this is really where I knew I loved her for life, “And here’s what the fuck I am going to do about it.” We had five minutes.

This is what came out of it for me. This is my Now what?

Continue Reading…

Guest Posts

Sunday Times.

November 9, 2014

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By Joan Wilking.

 

Sunday mornings I drive to buy The New York Times. I could subscribe to it online or have it delivered, but I don’t. It’s a habit that goes back to my childhood when my father and I would go out for bagels and lox and the Sunday papers. In those days it was The Times and The Philadelphia Inquirer. Now I drive to the Ipswich River Store and the bagels have been replaced by a breakfast treat called a clamshell, whole wheat dough baked around a combination of scrambled egg whites and sautéed vegetables.

I’ve always loved the Sunday Times, especially the magazine, which I’d pull out and read first, kind of like eating dessert before dinner, but in the summer of 2007 my relationship with the magazine changed. After that, up until just few months ago, the first thing I would do is flip through the sections, pull out the magazine and set it aside. I’d skim the front page of the paper, read the Sunday Styles, followed by the Book Review, and the Arts and Entertainment section. Then I would finish my coffee and steel myself to face the magazine. I’d open to the inside front cover and my stomach would twist as I wondered, Will it be a single page, or a two page spread this week?

Week after week I confronted ads for luxury apartments for sale at the iconic midcentury modern Manhattan House on East 66th Street. They began running shortly after my uncle, a well known Madison Avenue antiques dealer, jumped to his death from the twenty-second floor of the building, just short of his ninetieth birthday. To say that his suicide was a shock is an understatement. Having to face advertisements for units in that building every Sunday was an ongoing perversity, profit and loss, made more ironic because I spent years designing similar ads for similarly luxurious apartments; some of them listed by the same agents who represented the Manhattan House.

Continue Reading…

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