When I was 8, I saw a pair of white gloves in a toy store that sang to my soul. They were long and satin and gorgeous, and I knew immediately that my life would never be complete without them. So when my mother wouldn’t buy them for me, my mission was clear: make her life a living hell. I begged and I whined and I sulked, and it soon became clear to my mom that she could either buy me the damn gloves or live the rest of her life being tortured by a freckled pain in her ass. She chose wisely.
Every night I’d put the gloves on very carefully—pulling them slowly up past my elbows—and I’d slip into my black mary janes that made the most satisfying clicking sound on the tiles of my bathroom floor. I’d spend long swaths of time click-clacking around that bathroom with those beautiful satin gloves on, and I felt positively regal. The fact that the bathroom was so small that I could only take a step or two in any direction, and that I was in my pajamas so I looked like I’d just fled the “special” ward of a hospital, stepping back and forth in place and gesturing wildly with my gloved hands—well that never occurred to me. It all just felt so right.
That memory has been hovering over me lately, and it’s made me realize 2 things: 1) My inclination towards madness is nothing new. And 2) What if I was willing to be a bit more like that little idiot, tapping back and forth in front of a bathroom mirror for no other reason than the fact that it made me happy? Ok the second one isn’t so much a realization as a question, but whatever. Continue reading →
God, let me think clearly and brightly; let me live, love, and say it well in good sentences. -Sylvia Plath
I’ve recently found myself pining for my misspent youth—dreaming about those carefree days that were wide open, when everything was still possible. When my skin was smooth and not puckered. When i was just an innocent little flower about to bloom.
And then I remembered what a total moron I was, and it made me feel a lot better about being old. It also made me think of all the things I wish I’d known back then, the things that can really only be learned the hard way.
So here are the things I’d say to all of my younger selves—the things that I will probably be learning and re-learning for the rest of my life:
There is very little that can’t be made better by a freshly made bed with sheets just out of the dryer.
You have so much time. Don’t rush to choose a job or a man or any final destination. You don’t have to have it all figured out yet.
There’s so little time. Stop wasting it trying to be perfect and just try to be better. Perfectionism is just a search for reasons to hate yourself. Being better is so much more possible—and interesting.
When social media first came around, I did not jump to join the masses. I preferred to be invisible. My life, as the cliche goes, had taken some bad turns and there was nothing about it that I wanted memorialized in photographs, much less posted for the world to see. I didn’t believe I had anything worth showing and so, I stayed as far off the grid as I possibly could.
When I was 23 I left my hometown, and in 12 years went back once, for half a day. I kept in touch with one person, who would occasionally tell me that someone had messaged her on Facebook to find me. Another friend reached out to my sister to ask her where I was. I would get the messages and let them go unanswered.
Truman Capote wrote of grief in In Cold Blood—he said that it draws a circle around you which separates you from anything outside of it. That’s what fear did to me in my 20s, and I disappeared into that circle. I didn’t want to be seen and so, I made sure I wasn’t. Continue reading →
*I’m doing exactly what they tell bloggers not to do—changing the schedule. I’ll be posting Monday nights now. For the most part. Unless I can’t.*On August 5, Kim Kardashian is scheduled to be the keynote speaker at BlogHer‘s annual conference in L.A—one of the biggest conferences for women bloggers in the country. In explaining this decision, Elisa Camahort Page, a co-founder of BlogHer, told ABC news, “She has parlayed her influence into a huge media, commerce and mobile app empire, including making tens of millions on her app alone. And it’s an empire with women in the driver’s seat.” Apparently financial success alone merits this prominent space on a platform supposedly intended to promote female empowerment.
I suppose, given how so many people have already deified her, this shouldn’t come as a surprise. And yet it does.
It seems to me outrageous, and incredibly sad, that BlogHer would hire Kardashian to be the voice of their conference. Maybe I’m crazy, but I could have sworn that blogging had something to do with actual writing, even if in the most tangential of ways. That ideally, being a presence on social media might be about more than just the numbers–that as feminists we could strive to make it also about contributing something of substance to the world around us. (Hold the laughs until the end please.) Continue reading →
Things — identifiable objects, products, goals with clear labels and price tags, men you’ve known for five minutes — make such a handy repository for hungers, such an easy mask for other desires, and such a ready cure for the feelings of edgy discontent that emerge when other desires are either thwarted or unnamed.
-Caroline Knapp, Appetites: Why Women Want
We’ve all been there. Too much to drink, late-night out–you end up going home with someone who is so hot you can’t believe your own luck. Only to turn over the next morning and find that, in fact, you can completely believe your luck: once again, screwed by the beer goggles.
I have a pair of goggles that are similar to those–well not so much “similar to” as much as “the opposite of.” Mine are what I call “body goggles” (#bodygoggles), and apparently I wear them all the time. I’m not proud of owning said goggles, but there it is anyway. Objects may appear larger than they actually are.Continue reading →
“It is not all bad, but it is not all good, it is not all ugly, but it is not all beautiful, it is life, life, life—the only thing that matters. It is savage, cruel, kind, noble, passionate, selfish, generous, stupid, ugly, beautiful, painful, joyous—it is all these, and more, and it’s all these I want to know and, by God, I shall, though they crucify me for it.”
-Thomas Wolfe’s Letters To His Mother
February 17, 2016
I’ve been recovering from some pretty invasive oral surgery this week, so I’m re-publishing an old post that I think is particularly relevant this time of year, when many of us fall off our resolution-wagons. ‘Forget it,’ we say when the results aren’t what we thought they’d be. ‘I don’t know why I ever thought I could change in the first place.’ We set unreasonable goals, beat ourselves up when we fall short of them, and then use those shortcomings as proof that real change simply isn’t possible. And by believing that, we make it so.
So I’d like to reiterate my objection to the whole idea of new year’s resolutions.
Change is slow and subtle. It isn’t about grand gestures or sweeping declarations. It’s about the small decisions you get to make on a daily basis that eventually add up to something bigger. And the beautiful thing about “a daily basis” is that a new one starts every day–you get to decide to start the process of change right now, even if the scale is smaller than what you had in mind. Smaller scales are better anyway; sudden, sweeping change never ends up being real. It’s the painstaking, repetitive, meandering change–the kind that takes place in the grit and muscle of life’s grind–that’s what ends up sticking.
I’ve been doing more thinking about what I’d tell my younger, dumber selves, I suppose because my present self needs the help too. It’s funny how I can learn something–sometimes over and over again–and still need reminding about it. I guess knowledge and acceptance often run on very different tracks. (See Part I of my sage wisdom here.)
I’ve been aware of my body ever since I grew boobs and an ass: its measurements, its image, its power. I can’t help it. It’s been made abundantly clear to me that as a woman, it’s part of my net worth and will affect how successfully I make my way through the world. It should be lean but not without curves, sculpted but not too bulky. And thin. Above all else, it should be thin.
But now it seems that skinny is no longer enough—now you have to make it to those 00 jeans cleanly. You have to meditate on your third shakra in order to find your inner goddess while you honor your light by sitting in chair pose next to your composting machine while eating gluten-free gluten. Or something.
And guess what? Marketers are on to us. They realize that while the goal is essentially the same, the vehicle to get thin has gone green. So that despite the fact that I’m an absolute ogre and ridiculously dramatic when I’m hungry, last month I decided that a juice cleanse was the way to go for me. Because, well…cleanse! It’s right there in the title, dummy. This wouldn’t be the same thing as grapefruits or cabbage soup—this would purify me, rid me of all those nasty toxins that my “dirty” living has deposited in me. And obviously I’d spend enough money to ensure maximum health benefits, and upgrade to the package that includes wafer vitamins and vegetable pills. I mean, I’m not an animal.
egotist, n. a person of low taste, more interested in himself than in me.
–ambrose pierce, the devil’s dictionary
i am both an aspiring memoirist and a very private person. what can I say? the onion that is me has many layers. memoir writing chose me—it’s what makes me feel tethered to something instead of just flung out into the wild by myself. and i’ve been told that in order to get published, i need a “platform” (i assume to have something off of which to jump when the insecurity arising from social media engagement is too much to bear). so to attain that platform, i’ve started a blog; and to build up that blog, i’ve made a deal with the devil: facebook.
so here i am, a few weeks into my social media blitzkrieg: i’m on facebook (go like my blog’s page); i’ve turned myself into a twidiot (go follow me @danifleischer); and i’m hash-tagging my ass off on instagram (go follow me @sum_of_my_pieces). i tend to go balls out once i set my mind to something.
and actually, social media has been really helpful—facebook especially—because now there’s a quantifiable way to know whether or not i should like myself—to know exactly how liked i am, how worthy my words are, and most importantly, how i stack up against my friend from third grade whom i haven’t seen in a quarter of a century. plus, as an added bonus, if you have a fan page, facebook gives you “insights” into its activity: how many people saw each post versus how many engaged—and of those who engaged, how many merely commented and how many liked it. so now the over/under on how long it will take me to jump off that platform is one simple math problem away.
which is all to say: this is why i didn’t have a facebook page until now. let’s set aside for a moment the privacy issue, as well as my belief that there’s a natural selection in life that weeds out people who aren’t supposed to be in your life anymore. and let’s forget about the problem of comparing my insides to others’ outsides. what’s most troubling is that i can’t help but measure my worth by how many likes each post gets. once i put something out there, i’m finding it really goddamn difficult not to care how it’s received.
and this isn’t just about ego, it’s about my writing—my writing—which creates the perfect shit-storm of doubt and insecurity. ‘shit, should i have posted that? did that make me look dumb? why hasn’t X liked it yet—i wonder if he’s mad at me. oh my god, that picture of the thing in the place with the person barely got any likes—see, i knew it! i knew my writing was shit and i’ve been living in a fantasy world to think that i’ll ever get published and—oh my god 6 more people just liked it! yeah i knew it was funny.’
don’t even pretend that you haven’t asked yourself those same questions or felt a similar shame when you post something that you think will kill and instead it dies a slow, painful death. it all feels like i’m standing in front of the class in my underwear. actually, given the personal nature of my writing, i’m standing in front of the school naked on a windy day, watching my underwear get raised up the flag pole as i try to cover up all my shivering bits.
now look—i realize that a lot of people are idiots, and i shouldn’t worry about what they think about me or my writing. all i have to do is look at how many likes someone’s spinach omelette gets, and i realize that maybe mass approval doesn’t say much. (i really don’t get the food pics people. unless you’re a professional chef or that picture can reach through my computer and give me half of that omelette, i really don’t give a shit what you’re having for lunch. but what’s more troubling to me than the actual pictures is how many people like them.)
i also realize that if i want to get published i’d better grow some thicker skin, and that my career does not hang in the balance of how many likes a ralph waldo emerson quote gets. (but sidenote: i put up an emerson quote that’s one of the truest and most eloquent things ever said, and it only got 6 likes?? why am i always so much more right than everyone else?)
yet despite all the things that my better, more confident self knows to be true, my lesser, more fearful self cares about the social media response. and over the last half decade or so i’ve actually done a lot of work to create a better sense of self-worth—work that, i believe, has yielded some positive results. and yet social media has me fixated and almost blinded, trying to make this blog of mine wildly successful in the one month that i’ve been doing it.
what i know i should remember—what’s difficult to call up when i need it to resonate the most—is the pride i should feel at just putting myself out there, results be damned. there was a time not too long ago when the idea of rejection would have kept me quiet and alone, not doing the thing that i love to do.
in an interview in the new york times, marilynne robinson said: “it comes down to fear; the fear of making self-revelation of the seriousness of ‘i sense a sacredness in things.’” i do sense a sacredness in some things, and that admission carries with it a vulnerability that scares the shit out of me. but here i am anyway, because how can it be any other way?
so let’s cut the bullshit: if you’re sitting there with a bemused grin on your face—if you’ve been mildly entertained, or identified in any way with what I’ve said here—if you really do like this blog, then click the link below and like the damn blog. it’s hard to put yourself out here like this and this fledgling writer needs some support.