Category Archives: Family

How Jobs Taught Me What To Write

wordificator (2) Our writer’s code, written into our secret writer club rules, remind us that day jobs stand between us and a published novel. I understand. For years I thought if only and when and someday. And yes, working one, two, three jobs at a time took a big bite out of what would certainly have been my fast track to a Pulitzer. But slogging through, learning at, loving, and hating a number of jobs, that’s what formed and hold up my novels.

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Celebrate Valentine’s Day by Giving to These Kids!!!

 

My husband brings me roses every Valentine’s Day, which I love for more than one reason—along with the sentiment and that I adore flowers, it speaks to the lack of tradition I had growing up and feeds my need for the sweetness of security.

But this year I’m asking him for something in place of flowers—sharing our love and happiness. I gathered a list of books and games needed by The Home for Little Wanderer’s Roxbury House. There are many in need (and sometimes I think I, like you, can suffer from compassion fatigue)—plus, during this season of political fear, many of us are giving everything we can to groups that protect our rights. But I worry about forgetting the most forgotten.

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The Push and Pull of Mothers and Daughters

 

2 Mom in GownI never met a book by Ruth Reichl I haven’t loved, and my adoration continued with this book. Where others were hearty meals, Not Becoming My Mother (retitled for the paperback as For You Mom, Finally) was a deceptively simple snack. (I’m certain that Ms. Reichl, editor of Gourmet Magazine, would find a more elegant food analogy, but I, alas, am but a quick and dirty cook, though one who loves reading the work of educated ones—like Ruth Reichl)

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Give Mom Some Schadenfreude for Mother’s Day!

Two years ago ago, at an event at the incredibly wonderful Reading Public Library (in Reading Massachusetts) one of the librarians bought my second novel book, The Comfort of Liesfor her mother. For Mother’s Day. Using a large amount of not-usually-available-to-me control, I didn’t say any of the following:

“Nothing says Happy Mother’s Day like a cheating, anger, and hating-being-a-mother book!”

In fact, that’s true. Who the heck wants to get Little Women on Mother’s Day? Not me. Does anyone want  to psychically compete with Marmee?

No. I. Don’t.
I want to be feted with a pile of books that say:

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Food and Loathing and Hamper Cookies

beach kids

Everyone hates a fat woman. Or is it that a fat woman thinks everyone hates her? Or does a fat woman simply hate herself?

As someone who’s measured her worth in dress sizes, waistbands, and, when in the midst of bravery, the hard-core truth of pounds, I’ve felt all of the above. We are a harsh country, filled with both self-loathing and a Calvinist push towards walking off, dieting away, running away from, and when all else fails, surgically sucking out unwanted fat.

Do men suffer as women do? I’m not sure. I don’t think so, not as much—not when fat men on screen are allowed to bed and wed women as lovely as Katherine Heigl. I think being fat is painful for men. I simply don’t think they’re as reviled; they need to climb far higher up the scale to merit as much hate as heavy women.

I recently re-read (even re-bought, when I couldn’t find my copy) Food and Loathing by Betsy Lerner. From far too young, Lerner’s existence rested on her body size—real and perceived. The book begins thusly:

“It is 1972. I am twelve years old. It is the first day of sixth grade, and I am standing in the girls’ gymnasium waiting to be weighed.”

 

If your flesh doesn’t crawl with those words, if you don’t want to either go running for a cream cheese smothered bagel, or conversely, vow to stop eating as of tomorrow, this book will still

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Weaving a Safety Net for Strider & Gallagher Wolf: Let’s All Help

 

Strider03_1920

“It’s not known what Justin Roy used to punch a hole in Striders stomach in December 2011.”
“The life and times of Strider Wolf” Boston Globe, Sarah Schweitzer

Many calamities conspire to push a family off the edge: abuse, illness, accidents or a confluence of all these events.

Strider Wolf underwent three surgeries in four days to repair the torn intestine suffered at the hands of his mother’s boyfriend. His brother Gallagher, 11 months, also suffered, but couldn’t speak. Their grandparents—already using every resource they had to maintain what they had— took them in, but at great costs and with only the slightest help.

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My Father Bought Me Pretty Shoes

dad 3

I dreaded Father’s Day as a child. Every year (during those far less aware days) we were asked to make a card for our father as a classroom project. My father died when I was nine, so from that day forward I made cards for my grandfather, embarrassed by my lack.

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Fiction From Emotional Fact

 

A parent’s tragedy will always influence the life of their children—often to an overwhelming degree. Writing fiction from the emotional truth of one’s past can be liberating and also confusing. How do writers use their past without being wedded to events as they happened? How do we write honestly, without spilling family secrets that other’s want kept private?

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Raised by Books

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn_

Perhaps every insatiable reader has a book so thoroughly imprinted at a vulnerable age, that they carry those characters like family of the heart forever. Some marked me for horror. IN COLD BLOOD assured I’d never stay alone in a country house. Others taught me about the awful mixes of fear, revulsion, and sadness we can barely tolerate, like OUR GUYS, by Bernard Lefkowitz, a book which assured I’d look at any boy my daughters dated with more judgment than I wanted.

And some taught me faith in the future.

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Oh Santa Baby, I Just Can’t Quit You

betty-draper-on-the-couch

Oh, Santa. Baby. How long will our merry go round keep going round? Do  we need couples counseling again this year?

You and I have been in our indescribably on-again-off-again relationship for too long. I’ve been writing about our tortured love for how many years?

In 2011 it was off.

2012, back on again.

In 2013 we acted like friends with benefits.

But it wasn’t enough. Sure I had Adam Sandler for Thankschanukah, but you can’t intersperse dreidels with Christmas cookies and call it one big happy holiday. Thankschanukah is gone, and as my friend’s 3-year-old said as she wept for a Christmas tree (when reminded of her joyous Hanukah celebration)  “But I’m so over Hanukuh!”

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