Tag Archives: Writing

Spreading Blog Love

Last week, after the publication of my essay on my gay son and his dream  of being a good father, I received an outpouring of support for both me and for him. Theresa from New Jersey wrote, “the tide is changing.” Given the response I received, I think she is right.

One of the best gifts of all was from Dr. Sayer, an adolescent psychologist. She gave me a Liebster Award. No, I’d never heard of it. Before she’d received it, she hadn’t either. Here is what she wrote upon being awarded by Amy of Mom on Purpose:

To accept the Liebster, I have to do 3 things. First, I have to answer 5 questions posed by Amy. Then, I have to nominate 5 blogs I really like for the award, and those 5 blogs should have under 200 followers. Finally, I have to pose 5 questions for my nominees to answer.

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Helping the MFA Cross the Digital Divide

The article was originally published in  the AWP Job List – July 2011

The Digital Divide

In 2008, I entered Mills College as a later-in-life MFA student. Years before—many years before—I had earned an MBA and then spent my youth doing marketing and strategy in the for-profit and nonprofit sectors. Finally, I had set aside enough money and mustered enough courage to commit to the word. It was a dream come true. Continue reading

A Mother is a Phoenix

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This blog originally appeared on Blogher.

You quit your job to stay home and now your kids are launched (at least they are in school most of the day). You’ve volunteered for everything from class representative to PTA president. You’ve carpooled, you’ve brought snacks after soccer, you’ve attend yet another school play. You’ve been there for the braces, the training bra, the horrors of teenage acne. And finally, in the silence of night, you awake and realize that faint sound is the earth spinning seconds minutes hours days weeks months years. And suddenly, you are forty-five.

You don’t bother with the how-did-this-happen. You made your choices. Your regrets are  vague wisps rising from the ashes of what was once your sense of self. You know it is time to begin again, to lose the feathers like a bird reborn, break out of the cage and…

You mine your passions and know that the only thing left is to circle back to the beginning and ask who was I, who am I, who do I want to be. You have a long list of who you aren’t and a longer list of who you won’t be. You take your pen – you don’t bother with pencils, there is so no time – and make large bold Xs down the page. You won’t be President, you wont be CEO, you won’t be singing in Carnegie Hall, you won’t be finding the cure for AIDS, you won’t be changing the world for women and girls, their fathers and brothers. The list becomes far shorter than you ever imagined.

You begin again with circles – Xs have become too limiting – and create Venn diagrams of possibility. You love writing, sharing, revealing. You love building communities and bridges and wading in large pools of absolution, forgiveness, and unconditional love. You want to speak truth and realize you could be a storyteller – you’ve been living a life of fiction for years.

And so it begins. You start school, praying for second, third, fourth chances, all optimism and great hope. You love your classes, your classmates, your professors. You laugh when you realize you are just another spoke in the wheels of diversity – older, returning student next to young poet of color, memoirist in a wheel chair, writer from the center of the gender divide. Everyone has a voice and the harmony is the sound of what could be.

At home, you study beside your children joining them in a Greek chorus of complaints: Tests! Projects! Papers! You miss your daughter’s soccer game, again. You’re late for dinner, again. You reschedule dentist appointments; their teeth are clean enough. You yell at the cosmos and sometimes your husband. You are humbled, living life in child’s pose, arms extended, forehead to the ground begging for clarity. Is this what you wanted when you knew you wanted change? You wonder if, perhaps, it wouldn’t just be better to let this dream fade away.

And then you hear your daughter telling her best friend, “My mom? She’s done all kinds of things but now, she’s a writer.”   You realize you are no longer doing this for you alone. You must finish what you have begun because you need to teach her a mother is a phoenix and will rise and rise and rise.

Those Lazy Days of Summer

This blog post can also be read on BlogHer at http://www.blogher.com/those-lazy-days-summer

Lazy Days of Summer

In less than twenty four hours I will have my kitchen back and my quiet mornings with tea and the newspaper and my voice. You see, I lost my voice as I do every summer yelling at the kids to get ready, turn of the TV, stop Facebooking, Tweeting, IMing, texting (didn’t know those were verbs), clean up your room, pack your suitcase, don’t forget your bathing suit, unpack your suitcase, go outside, and have fun god dammit! I hate summer. I hate the lack of routine that requires me to fill their days and the guilt that comes with realizing I am not providing my children with a meaningful, life altering experience that will a) get them into the college of their choice and b) keep them out of my hair. My mother can’t relate. She just sent us out the door, poured herself another Tab and vodka, and spent the afternoon lounging around with friends. She loved summer. Continue reading

Me and Gloria, We’re like that…

 

Me and Gloria

Me and Gloria

I had breakfast with Gloria Steinem the other day. No really, I did. With Gloria and three hundred other women who paid far too much money hoping that a few flying cells of her DNA might dance by on the breeze. There, on the off chance they might swallow and absorb even the most minute elements of her wisdom, her experience, her courage.

 

For nearly a decade now I have co-hosted an annual event, bringing speakers of interest to the doyennes Silicon Valley. Let’s be clear, I couldn’t point out a doyenne for the life of me. But, as a member of the Planned Parenthood Golden Gate affiliate Board of Trustees, I am responsible for helping to raise funds. Given that I live in the seat of some of the wealthiest zip codes in the country, an event that enlightens, inspires, and engages my “friends” with money, is not a bad thing. And truth be known, there is a little Atherton Girl in me who loves to see the latest fashions up close and personal. I may not be able to afford those $1,000 Loubatin shoes or the $5,000 Burkin bag but it is more fun to see them in (or rather, on) person than through the latest Vogue fashion spread or sneaking a peak at Gossip Girl on TV.

Gloria (we are now on a first name basis) spoke and fielded questions for over an hour. During that time, she took us on a journey of recent history reminding us of what it was like for our older sisters and mothers who did not live with the presumption of reproductive freedom. She traced the economic, political, and social oppression that women experience when our biological imperatives are controlled by others. As we traveled across cultures and history, I marveled that she was able to bring it all back to right here, right now. She made us laugh, she shocked us, and she challenged us to take action: to model for the next generation what she continues to model for us.

As she spoke, I looked around the room, a sea of blond, blow-dried hair straightened to ensure that not a curl was out of place, and I wondered, do these women hear her? Is she connecting? Does a feminist from the 1970’s really speak the truth for women in their forties whose biggest struggle is getting Chad into private school and making sure that the house remodel is done on time so that they can enjoy their vacation sailing off the coast of Turkey.  I could not help but feel cynical. But in watching the other guests, I noticed that as her talk unfolded, they sat up a little taller, clapped a little louder, and laughed in unison affirming all that she shared. I realized these women, as challenged as they may be by the constraints of too much wealth (yeah, I know, nice problem to have), yearn as we all do to find meaning. The gift Gloria gave that morning to the wealthy women of Silicon Valley is the notion that while they may not be changing the world as they remodel our homes, their acts of everyday rebellion are important and valid.  She reminded the room that mountains are built one pebble at a time and despite this economy, the checks rolled in.

Icons are funny people. They become that way not just because of what they do but because of who they are. They are able to engage us, to connect with us even if they have never walked in our Jimmy Choos, or for that matter, we in theirs.  Gloria Steinem, because she is gracious, elegant, and poised, invited us to believe that our efforts, however meager, make a difference. That the activist on the street, the volunteer in the shelter, the board member who hosts events, and the attendee who writes the check, all play a critical role in change. She reminded us that “acts matter.” She closed her speech by sharing that she considers herself the ultimate “hope-aholic”, and that the best way to heal and move forward is to share your knowledge and experience: “Tell your story so someone else can learn.”  What better inspiration could a writer have?