Beloved, by Toni Morrison.
This book means so much to me. The relationships between women are forged differently than the rest, I swear. This book demonstrates that magic, and the profound links that tie us together. The power of memory, of trauma, of repressing moments that bring us pain, and generational trauma. So many emotions, captured flawlessly in a book that illustrates a flawed woman in a difficult world. I recommend this, as well as everything else in Toni Morrison's corpus of work.
Warning: this secret is not as deep as the others.
I'll be brief. My mom had this special nut butter. You know, the one you buy at Costco? Those big industrial jars that tout buzzwords and phrases like "vegan!" "gluten-free!" "ecologically friendly!" "One of these jars can feed a family in Tanzania for a year!"
I knocked it off of its pantry shelf while she was traveling abroad and it hit the floor, and the stupid glass jar broke (did you know that glass breaks easily?) immediately, leaving me a huge pile of superfood nut butter to scrape off the ground. I had to wipe the floor at least five times and burn six candles to eradicate the intense smell of peanut butter in the house.
Three days later she came back from her trip. And nothing. No comments about the nut butter. A week went by. Two. Three. A whole whopping month later, she muttered something about a nut butter she had bought specifically from Costco.
I cannot believe I had the guts to say it but I did it shamelessly.
"Mom, did you not hear Dad complain about gaining weight recently? He totally eats five tablespoons of nut butter a day. He finished it before you left on your trip."
To this day, she does not buy nut butter because she wants to help him lose weight.
....Also....My dad hates nut butter. He also found some 'strange stains' on the tile in our kitchen recently. Oops.
My high school experience in 6 words.
Did they ever actually like me?
Older, current me answering younger me: Nope, nope they didn't Sarah. But you'll be fine.
When they show you what you’re lacking, and you cannot afford to live without it.
I know that I must have become numb
and lost all feeling
Because I still remember the day that my friends came over
(I owe it to my friends–all of my healing)
And they heard my mother, who, unaware of their presence
Accused me of stealing
Snacks at midnight, of hoarding food and eating it alone–
And when I walked out to see them
They told me that I looked beautiful
They handed me a flower, and said I was like the stem.
The strong pillar beneath that becomes a blooming bud
I felt warmth and safety, and that heat
that melted my heart, that kindness that feels sweet
at first, that relief at knowing that someone out there
can still love you, can see you for who you are and for that reason care–
My face was unaccustomed to smiling;
my armor unaccustomed to feeling flower petals
raining from the sky.
I had no clue that people who claimed to care about me
could even be tender–
If this was what a support system was, then I could fly.
––Leaving and forgetting my childhood home became easy.
#growingpains #eatingdisorder #triggerwarning #friendsaregifts @ColdRamen
He's my husband, so I know he knows best.
We headed up here yesterday, and I underestimated how long it would take to pack. Luckily, Sebastian managed to pack some of my things once his bag was ready.
It was an awfully long trip to get here; I attempted to lighten the conversation and said that our drive was reminiscent of Odysseus' journey. He did not find this amusing, and told me not to speak about literature that I did not understand. I was pleasantly surprised to see that he had at least brought my embroidery work, and I rested, knowing that my growing discomfort in the carseat could at least be channeled later into fierce needlework.
Today I finally got a good look at the room I collapsed in. Last night I was able to unpack my clothes, undress, and then I only remember the texture of the bedsheets. It's an ugly room, with mismatched shams and sheets, with a small vase holding wilted flowers. There's only a small window here, one that's nearly part of the ceiling, so there's no chance of me peering out of it or even reaching it with my longest finger. Wait, my luggage is gone. I am only in my shift, so I cannot make it out very far if there is anyone else in the house. Also, where is Sebastian? There is no other imprint on the bed, so I must have slept alone. I shove and kick the bedsheets off of myself and stagger out of bed. I get a better look at the wallpaper–I'd never noticed it before. It is a ghastly shade of yellow; one might say it looks like the ugly stepsister to marigold. I reach out and stroke it, and bits of the paper flake off. Old glue and bits of mold now skip about in my palm. I shivver and rub it onto the bedsheets. Now to find Sebastian. I scour the room one more time. A bed–a bed most peculiar!–it has only round edges! And it's nailed to the floor! And the vase is stuck, or glued I should think, to the dreary dresser. There is not even a pitcher or basin for me to refresh myself. I guess at the very least, I will wash my face if I cannot find Sebastian. He must have gone out for a walk. He mentioned plans to go walking or hunting today. I must have overslept. I reach for the door.
I said, I reach for the door.
Why isn't the door opening? Pangs of fear are rising in my belly. This is precisely what Sebastian wanted to come here for–I've been having night terrors and attacks of 'hysteria,' or so the doctor said. The plan was for me to come here, relax, and go home in four days. Let me reach for the door one last time, and I'll dry my hand first in case it was moist and slipped about on the handle.
Nope. That door is shut. And now I think I've begun to understand why the room is sparsely furnished, and why I have no other clothes besides a nightdress to cover me. I swear I see something in the corner of my eye. I want to think nothing of it, but I think it was a girl. A girl...in the nasty wallpaper. Lord help me, and Lord, while you do that, I hope you present my husband with some version of chloroform today.
@nijahwrites #feministliterature #theyellowwallpaper #basicallyafanfic #shortstory
This is based off of the novella "The Yellow Wallpaper" by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, but I put a little spin on it. I loved that novel, as it deals with how men used the concept of 'hysteria' to control and castigate women. Think late 1920's cars, long gowns, and controlling husbands. (Also, 'déjà lu' in French means 'already read' so I alluded to this being a rewriting of the story anyway) Thanks for such a fun challenge!
I tried to gather my thoughts and go to my mental happy place; and I hoped like never before that I would not need my inhaler, which I had left on my bed downstairs.
A captured montage of writing fears
I take the pen to the paper
Ten seconds start counting down
I’ve cut myself off so many times,
ripping piece after piece of paper out of this notepad
that I could origami it into a crown.
And I’ve found excuses
Every nook and cranny bare,
the lowest fruit on the tree picked off.
The stories might sit in my mind,
but my mind and heart and hand just don’t see eye to eye,
yeah–and I cannot force them all to care.
It gets annoying,
feeling my own silence.
When I get asked
“So, do you have anything new?”
“I remember when you were five, you wrote short stories all the time!”
“Writing? Wait, you’re saying its...hard?”
“Aren’t you supposed to be good at this?”
“These words should be flowing out of you.”
Yeah, well, buddy, I’m standing at the back of the room
at a press conference
They handed me the mic
I yelled at the pretentious writer onstage,
staring at her with contempt as she files down her nails.
I have all your questions on my notepad, and I grill her for answers.
She waits for me to finish (that bitch!)
And I know I have her cornered.
With a hairflip, she focuses on me,
and I begin to feel seasick.
Those eyes lined with dark circles and shadows.
At this point, my hands froze.
Her stature, mannerisms and pose.
She slowly pushed her chair back and rose
And walked over to me.
“When we finally come up with an idea, we will gladly let the people know.
I turn to you now, and tell you the same thing. As we merge back into one person, the writer, the critic, and the silent but vigilant dreamer, we remember that echoing what
our critics say is eventually only going to hinder us.
But the wishful thinking and the itching in our hands for a pen and some paper never ends, does it? Come back in ten years, and I might still be here, trying to find my pen amidst a pile of sofa cushions with an unfinished play on my desk, a novel leaking its contents into my bathtub’s greedy drain, and a lonely orphaned poem in my bed, searching for its mother to come back and claim him.
–every time non-writers ask me what writer’s block (and fear of writer’s block) feels like
#poetry #untiltomorrow #feltcutemightdeletelater #moodypoetry
Part of the ending of “The Awakening” by Kate Chopin.
"The water was deep, but she lifted her white body and reached out with a long, sweeping stroke. The touch of the sea is sensous, enfolding the body in its soft, close embrace.
She went on and on. She remembered the night she swam far out, and recalled the terror that seized her at the fear of being unable to regain the shore. She did not look back now, but went on and on, thinking of the blue-grass meadow that she had traversed when a little child, believing that it had no beginning and no end."
This quote is one of my favorites. I think the theme of death is too often treated in a very dark way, with negative connotations. What I love about literature is that it has opened my eyes to other people's perspectives and therefore changed my ability to judge people for their decisions. Yes, ending life is a very, very serious thing, but in the context of this novel, I think death here is both a symbolic and literal demonstration of how women at that time in society (this is like, early 20th century Louisiana) were essentially victimized for wanting to have some autonomy over themselves. Through death, many female writers epxlored death as a conduit for eternal freedom. Freedom from the physical world, aka the patriarchal world that let them down so hard. Anyway, I found that Chopin here shows our heroine peacefully accepting death, because she knew that the physcial world was becoming a prison for her. And while I do not condone doing that or replicating this character's behavior, I think that it is valid to question and explore the variety of spiritual perspectives on death. Thanks for coming to my TED talk haha.
What I expect my eulogy will be.
The young man walked up to the podium and tapped the microphone a few times even though he had been reassured earlier that the sound system was fine. He tapped his jacket pocket and then his pants pocket–actually, he patted himself down airport security style until his anxious expression melted into relief. He presented a piece of creased paper and finally cleared his throat.
“I’m here to present the life of my best friend here. She unfortunately left us at the worst time and in the heart of youth. However, she went down doing what she loved. Because I miss her, I blame the holiday itself. I blame the store itself. Black Friday, you are a horrible capitalist creation that stole my friend from me. All she wanted was the illustrated version of Valley of the Dolls! But no, Barnes and Noble had to place that book at the top of the shelf sixteen feet above her head. Obviously she was forced to climb up there and snatch it! With the discount that the flash sale offered it was a mere five dollars compared to the original price of twenty-three fifty! That price was legendary! I don’t reproach her for climbing the shelves; I reprimand Barnes and Noble for making those wooden shelves so flimsy, and for them not nailing them into the wall and ground so they would not tremble or fall! The fall–the impact”–his sniffling and running nose got the best of him for a second and a kleenex appeared in his hand. Patting his eyes and readjusting his glasses, he continued:
“She was only five feet tall. She was so petite and small! I was never good at physics but that’s like reaching five G’s falling down and feeling the wrath of the full force of gravity! I imagine she fell to smithereens. The silver lining here is that she accomplished everything she wanted to do. She rode a mechanical bull and lasted fifteen seconds; we cried together on the marble floor in the bathroom of a hotel room that we splurged on whilst wearing couture gowns; she danced on a table once with me at the club; we went to Ireland once with just our wallets and a pizza and had a picnic on a cliff, and she read a thousand books. Well, actually, she read nine hundred and ninety-nine books.”
He paused and waved at someone a few steps away who stepped forward and handed him a box. Opening the box, he pulled out a hardcover book.
“Here you go Sarah. The Valley of the Dolls, remastered edition with illustrations and bonus photos of the film. I didn’t make it in time to snatch that Black Friday price for you, but I got it anyway.” Leaning over, he placed the book into the casket behind the podium, and he brushed her flyaways back into place. His eyes gazed at his old friend for a second, and scanning her quickly, his eyes narrowed, and he turned back to the crowd, his voice an octave higher.
“I’d also like to point out that Sarah was wearing head to toe vintage Saint Laurent Rive Gauche today including a vintage gold choker (that I gave her, by the way) and matching bangles and rings (that I helped her find later), yet somehow she is now missing one ring and one bangle. Also, her top is white silk, and I sent it to get dry-cleaned, so I find it interesting that now she has a few tan colored drop stains. Y’all bitches better not have cried on her corpse! Gross. Don’t you remember that she was a germaphobe! After-life Sarah, Sarah 2.0 will not be happy about this! I cannot believe that we have friends who steal here! I am apalled. Nevertheless, Sarah used to say that the ‘show must go on,’ so I will finish for her. She was the most stylish, funny person I knew, and she was fantastic at spreading her love for reading. I will miss you, but I know you are with Joyce, Chopin, Hemingway, Austen, Flaubert, and Garcia Marquez. I’ll miss you, but I know you are having way more fun there. Please never take part in Black Friday again.”
#eulogy #humor #satire #thisisclearlyajoke
when you’re the only creative one in the family.
My hands were shaking
I clenched the sides of the seat
as I stared into the depths of the bowl.
I was nervous and giggly in the car, anxious too
Laughing as I gloated about how well I would do
and now here I was staring into the depths of the bowl.
Back home, I can look over my shoulder now
and I see the empty notebooks and unmarked books
and anyone looking closely could easily why and how
I was staring into the depths of the bowl.
I saw it all coming in a dream months before
It was a nightmare, it didn't mean anything, I swore
The score report came back, and I knew that number could never be uttered aloud
I felt the world was turning black, and I knew I would never make my parents proud.
My only solace was the dark pit at the bottom of the bowl.
"Lawyer, engineer, doctor, or an economist" ; these words were the soundtrack of my life
"Pick one, get a job, get married, become a wife."
I tried to follow that route, and I felt my heart break
Everytime I tried to drown the voice deep down I felt okay at first,
But then I felt fake.
I turn back and look into the depths of the bowl.
Everything keeps spinning.
Not far off in the kitchen mom is livid–her fury comes out in her silence
Her daughter has failed in every way, when her life was only beginning.
All they had asked of her was excellence
"Throw away the creativity, it will never amount to anything!
You are here to work, dreams are distractions, and life is not as good as you think it will be."
"Mom, Dad? I failed the exam. I never got into law school, and I hid the letters. I'm so sorry."
"Where do you think you're going without offering an explanation? Excuse me, we are not done talking here!"
"I'm sorry, I think I'm going to be sick."
"Sickness is temporary. Failure is forever. Go compose yourself, and come back when you've made the right decision."
As I crouched on the floor and stared into the depths of the toilet bowl at the aftermath, I chastised myself over and over for running away and allowing my fear to overpower me.
This goes out to all my lovely writer friends and overall my creative friends, who tend to elicit these responses when they announce their career choices. I support you and I believe in you. One day our works will be published, our artwork will be on the walls of galleries, and maybe one day we might be recognized for it by our peers. #bebrave #LEBass #challenge