1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, Feminism, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, IN THE NEWS AND ON MY MIND, Kerry's Causes, Memoir Monday, Writing

A Response to Jia Tolentino’s “The Personal-Essay Boom is Over”

This response is directly on point.

BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog

zoeBy Zoë Bossiere

A couple of weeks ago, a piece by Jia Tolentino came out in The New Yorker called “The Personal-Essay Boom is Over.” The title alone was enough to deluge social media feeds with writers stepping forward to defend the vitality of the personal essay in spite of the article’s assertions, or otherwise agreeing with Tolentino that the personal essay is, in fact, “dead.” The only problem is, the article isn’t actually about what we writers know as the personal essay at all, but rather a separate subgenre of nonfiction called the “confessional essay.” If we want to get even more specific, Tolentino’s article is talking specifically of the confessional essays typically printed in online “women’s” publications such as xoJane, Jezebel, Salon, and others. To compare the personal and the confessional is a common false equivalence, and a great underestimation of all that first-person nonfiction writing encompasses.

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TToT: Hum Bucker Splitting Push Pull Pots – Go Pretenders and Sluggers, GO! #Baseball #ChrisCornell #RIP #10Thankful

Most recently, on The Handmaid’s Tale, a line is spoken that captures how it is:

“We only wanted to make things better. Better never means better for everyone.”

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So true.

Oblivion – Grimes

It’s a two-in-one edition of the TToT this week, as last week I allowed my mood and a bad sun burn on both arms to dictate my lack of a post.

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Ten Things of Thankful

I’m thankful for an unexpected email.

The anthology I was published in two years ago is being rereleased this summer. I received the surprise email to confirm I still wanted to be a part of the project.

I’m thankful for a successful first violin lesson in weeks.

Other than writing, I have never felt so frustrated one minute and wanting to give up and then so determined the next minute as I feel with the violin. It’s my roller coaster.

I’m thankful for an anniversary celebrated with my friends at “The Elsewhere Region”.

We celebrated the existence of writing group, two years on, with blueberry cheesecake and, you guessed it, writing.

I have written more fiction, more stories, starting during those nights in the group than I’ve done on my own time in a while. The short story I submitted to the Alice Munro Short Story Contest, for instance, was begun there. Though I found out this week that I did not qualify with it (bummer), I am still glad it came out of that place.

I hope there are many more still to come.

I’m thankful for the chance to see my sister included in a team of dedicated women.

My dad and I walked to see her game the one night. We stood there and I listened as best I could. It was the sound of the coaches leading their players, encouraging them by shouting positive reinforcement and the other teammates cheering them on that was so nice to see.

My sister hasn’t played in over ten years, since before motherhood and time gone by, which makes it all the much harder to jump back into a game like baseball. I admire that.

Hearing a group of women encouraging each other to do their best. I wish I could be a part of something like that.

I’m thankful that my nephew is getting more comfortable with his baseball.

He is still so little, but he will get there. Maybe he will play for many years and maybe he’ll ultimately decide baseball isn’t for him. Either way, he gets to learn about being on a team, just like his mom.

I’m thankful for my sister, two years older.

Our two-year age gap feels like nothing really. She will always be my big sister though. She is one of my biggest influences, an example I follow, two years behind and I like celebrating her every May that comes around with the loveliness of spring.

I’m thankful for a Friday morning surprise phone call.

I’ve volunteered with the Kidney Foundation of Canada for years, since soon after my transplant, and now I was contacted about getting involved more so, possibly with public speaking opportunities about diagnosis, dialysis, living donation, organ transplant, and hopefully to offer some hope that life can be good for twenty years with care and a little bit of luck.

I’m thankful for an enlightening and enjoyable conversation with my new neighbour.

She showed me around her home and we sat at her kitchen table for over two hours, talking about writing, the town we live in, family, and she wanted to meet the rest of mine.

She came by two days later, for a drink, to meet my brothers and my sister-in-law and the kids.

I’m thankful for a family day.

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We were celebrating my sister’s birthday when we could all be together.

It was Victoria Day long weekend here in Canada. This means the carnival comes close to my house and we all walked down there together.

My nephews went on the cars and my niece went on a few rides all by herself. She is braver than I ever was when I was her age.

We went on the gravity ride with her (my brothers and I) and it felt both good and bad.

It was a glimpse of what going on a ride like that was like as a kid, moments of pure pleasure, and then I’d return to being thirty-three and I’d feel a little ill and I was off balance for a long time after the ride ended.

We passed games with those people yelling and bells ringing and buzzers buzzing. It was loud and a little went a long way, but I remember what it was like to find such a thrill from a place like that.

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The child roller coaster was loudest of all. Every click/thud of the cars as they went around the bends and up and down, up and down. Life is loud and uncomfortable a lot of times.

I’m thankful for extended family that are cool and care about what’s most important.

whole front porch
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We had a lovely afternoon sitting on my front porch and talking about everything under the sun. My aunt and uncle spoke about my cousins and we discussed movies and animals and family.

As for roller coasters…
Buckle up because we’re only about ten feet up the clicky part.

—The Daily Show

Whether it’s 45, a sicko who attacks a concert full of young girls, an attack on a bus in Egypt, a knife attack by a white supremacist on a train, I can’t seem to get off the roller coaster, but gratitude for family and fun and flowers takes the edge off the nausea a little bit.

But check this out.

Roller Coaster Story

Grandma is always the wise one.

Into You – Ariana Grande

RIP to all who have been lost in the last few weeks.

I’m always thankful for life.

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Picking Up The Pieces #FTSF

I have always helped the children in my life understand my blindness by explaining that my eyes don’t work, that they are broken. This may sound harsh, but I’ve found this to be the best and most concrete way to explain things. This is not an easy concept for a three-year-old to grasp, no matter how it’s worded, but it’s the best I’ve yet come up with.

Still, they don’t automatically see this as anything bad. They think it over a moment or two and then we go on with our day. I think it is such a difficult idea to imagine for them at that age, to understand that anything like that can be the case. I am happy to see myself through their eyes for a time.

Was I broken when I was born without perfect eyesight?

Of course not. No baby could or should be called such a thing.

The image that immediately comes to my mind is that of all the poor birds we found on our deck or on the lawn growing up. My mom would bring them in, carrying them delicately in the palm of her hand, and would give them time to see if they could recover. a helpless bird with a broken wing is how I felt a time or two. Sometimes the broken wing spells the end for the bird and sometimes they just need some peaceful and restful recovery time.

My mom would release the bird if this healing were enough. In this simple yet selfless act, she taught me how to heal from the things that might break me.

After all the medical stuff I would endure, I often thought it odd how I never did break a limb. That is one break I have managed to avoid.

I felt the most broken when I became so sick and lost at age eleven.

It broke me the day I lost a loved one, had to hear my oma’s heart break at the words she had lost a grandson, or when I had to tell my own mother her baby brother lost his son/she lost yet another nephew.

It broke me in pieces for a long time after my first experience with love and relationships, as a teenager, when things turned out worse than I ever could have guessed. It kept me from looking for love, for letting it into my life, for many years.

Another piece of myself was broken off when I had to admit I couldn’t handle anymore school because of the pain and I had to take a break from all the stress.

Sometimes we’re left scrambling and searching all around us for our missing pieces, for a long long time.

These things broke off pieces of me and yet love and hope and the most pleasant surprises yet to come helped me put the pieces back together.

Life can be like this sometimes. I feel like a broken person sometimes, when I think of how some might see me, incomplete or whatever. I have lost more eyesight than I was born with, in years gone by, including my left eye now being artificial. Does this leave me broken, not entirely whole?

Whatever that might mean, when something is broken, can it be fixed and even should it?

Any broken part of my physical body or any blow to my spirit, any blow to my heart, I make up for all that by remaining as whole a person as I can be in other ways that matter.

I will take broken eyes over a broken soul anyway. It’s those who are broken in personality are the ones who could most benefit from some repairs.

My eyes may be broken, my heart a time or two, but my personality and my character are in tact and solid. I know that for certain. There is no quick fix, no repair man to call when the soul is irrevocably damaged. I can heal my cracks. They may still exist, but they make the whole of me stronger, in spite of all the breaking there ever was.

This has been a Finish the Sentence Friday post with
Kristi from Finding Ninee
with some thoughts on the things that break us.

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Why I Have to Look away from The Handmaid’s Tale Sometimes, and Why That’s a Good Thing

Part-Time Monster

Last week, as I was watching “A Woman’s Place,” the sixth episode of Hulu’s adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, I was struck with a realization: I had not watched a single episode of the show without flipping through the social media feeds on my phone or my laptop simultaneously. So I started to think about why…Why might I might be avoiding focusing myself entirely on this show, a show that I gave high praise to and found fascinating for so very many reasons?

The answer was deceptively simple: I was, in fact, avoiding focusing myself entire on this show in order to avoid the trauma of doing so. As a woman, the show terrified me. So I did what I do when I need a distraction…I pulled up a social media feed that I could passively scroll through or easily put aside while I was watching, redirecting…

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Staging an (Accessible) Online Reading: A Step-By-Step Guide

BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog

zz_sonyaBy Sonya Huber

The typical literary reading presents an obstacle course for many people with disabilities and chronic illnesses. From finding transportation and parking to staying up late to navigating stairs and chairs, every decision involves stress and difficulty. My recent essay collection, Pain Woman Takes Your Keys and Other Essays From a Nervous System, deals with the twists and turns of living with chronic pain, and I knew that I needed to find ways to connect with people with chronic pain. I was surprised to find that an online reading was easy and fun, and I believe this is something other authors can easily do to extend their own audiences and make literary readings more accessible.

My first foray into online readings was through a Facebook Live Event. I hadn’t seen this done before so I kind of winged it, and in the end I think it turned…

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Women Are Not Here For You. You Do Not Own Us.

Oh my God, yes. This.

Drifting Through

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A guy walks up to a girl in a bar. She’s laughing with her friends, engrossed in conversation. He slides in next to her to introduce himself. Offers her a drink. I’m just here to hang with my friends she says more than once. He proceeds to ask her “get to know you” questions, ignores her icy stare. Oblivious to her friends rolling their eyes. He appears immune to her Not interested‘s and her No thank you‘s. Finally, she sighs, I HAVE A BOYFRIEND. He backs away grudgingly, defensively, hands in the air, It’s cool, it’s cool. I got it.

Her rebuffs weren’t enough. Her refusals were dismissed. It was clear that what she wanted wasn’t of much concern to him. But another man’s woman? That’s a record scratch. A stop sign. A no trespassing sign.

This story isn’t unusual. It’s not even rare. Most women at…

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I Knew Not #HarryPotter #AtoZChallenge

Wine. Water. Whales. Writing.

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These were all contenders. Nope. None of these. Instead, why not go with a little blasphemy?

The A to Z Challenge – W is for Witchcraft and Wizardry

As in…

Hogwarts: School of Witchcraft and Wizardry

Feminists today speak of being descendants of those witches once tried for practicing witchcraft and burnt at the stake.

I see Emma Watson on TV and walking the red carpet with Tom Hanks. She’s doing just fine after playing one on screen for a decade.

I knew very little about witchcraft until I was in my mid twenties. I always heard the word and thought of black magic, frowned upon by God.

I knew not.

Now I picture that giant castle (Hogwarts) and I wish I could have received my letter.

A classic tale of good vs evil, but as the story eventually makes clear, none of us have only, strictly one or the other inside of us.

All those religious groups and parenting groups who protested the Harry Potter books and movies originally thought of evil too, without reading the books themselves, to see what treasures were waiting to be discovered.

Claiming Godliness does not automatically make one an all good person. I think Harry Potter and the many witches and wizards throughout his fictional world can teach valuable lessons about what is right and what true decency looks like.

For fiction, this story was wonderful. It was a magical world, coexisting alongside the non magic world, both containing good and bad. The power of witchcraft had terrible misinformation attached, leading people to judge something without getting to know more about it. Rowling did a wonderful thing, an important thing, in bringing these subjects into the mainstream.

I am particularly affected by the themes in the HP series, as being misjudged is never a welcome place to find oneself.. I don’t want to judge anything unfairly, if I’ve hardly even given it a chance. I would hope all of us could learn from the witches and wizards in the story that J.K. Rowling created.

I sure wish I could wave a wand right now and make things different from what they are, in several areas.

Don’t you?

***This is my first year of joining the A to Z Challenge and so I’ve decided to post randomly, as a way for new visitors to my blog to get to know me a little better. I look forward to discovering some interesting new blogs too.

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