Last year Rachel came over to help me take Sandy and Clementine to her parents house for Passover but I completely failed. Sandy was about 5 months old and Clementine was 5 weeks old. We we’re stuck in that cycle of crying, feeding, diapers, nap. I literally couldn’t get us out the door.
This year we made it, I even got us there on my own. We lasted about an hour. Sandy opened every drawer, door, cabinet and ceramic dish within the first 5 minutes. And she never stopped. Then there was dip. Her hands were in the dip, she’s dipping chess pieces, licking the bowl, the whole 1 year-old routine. Rachel’s parents were amazingly kind and we got through most of the Seder. Note in the photo how far I had to seat Sandy from the nice China.
The girls ate it all, Parsley, Bitter Root the apple-walnut-wine stuff. Now that we left, I hope Rachel’s family can relax and enjoy the rest of their dinner!
We did not break a single dish or child. VICTORY!
First you’re taught to fear a phantom, a man in black, a man with a knife, a man who’ll pounce in dark alleys. Well-intentioned women—mothers, aunts, teachers—will train you to protect yourself: Don’t wear your hair in a ponytail; it’s easier to grab. Hold your keys in one hand; hold your pepper spray in the other. Avoid dark alleys. When you reach young adulthood, the lessons change. They acquire an undertone of disgust: Don’t drink so much. Don’t wear such short skirts. You’re sending mixed signals; you’re putting yourself at risk.
If you follow the advice and it never happens—if you end up one of the three out of four—you can convince yourself that safety is a product of your own making, a reflection of inherent goodness. But if you’re paying attention, you realize something doesn’t add up. Because it keeps happening: to your sisters; to your friends; to little girls and grown women you’ll never meet, in places like Cleveland, Texas; Steubenville, Ohio; New Delhi. Good people, bad people, neutral. It keeps happening in TV shows and novels and movies—they open on the missing girl, the dead girl, the raped girl. If you’re paying attention, you begin to realize that it isn’t happening. It is being done. And you are not safe. You have never been safe. You were born with a bulls-eye on your back. All you have ever been is lucky.
Cara Hoffman’s 2011 novel So Much Pretty opens on the dead girl. Her name is Wendy White; she’s been missing for five months, and within the first fifty pages we learn that her body “was put to use for months before being found.” In another book, my heart would sink, reading those words. Among many other things, I’m tired of the way this story is told in fiction: from the point of view of the male detective, grizzled and weary, shaking his head over some beautiful broken body. The man represents cynicism; the body, innocence. By the end, his jaded worldview will be confirmed, or he will be saved—either way, he’ll need to see the body. I’ve read enough of this genre to know I’m tired of it. I’m tired of the way it puts women’s bodies to use, as footnotes. The dead girl is the beginning of the man’s story. Being dead, hers has ended before page one.
The Toast is singular among the ladyblogs. It is primarily a humor site with a heavy focus on the literary, pop culture and general nerdy content targeting young women. It doesn’t trade in celebrity gossip, and its editors, Nicole Cliffe and Mallory Ortberg, do not work for a man.
Not enough FUCK YESes in the world to express my feelings about this.
Happily, the novel is now being reissued for the first time since then, in a new edition. I’m quite proud of it; it’s about a group of college girls who are known as “the death girls” on the Swarthmore campus, because they are really into the work and lives of certain women writers (Plath, Sexton, and a third writer I invented) who committed suicide. It’s about the romanticization of despair, and I guess it’s about growing up.
God I love her.
and after we had begun
construction of the perfect home, a
he-said, she-said, marital marathon,
there was a moment when I said no.
heaven could not contain the
come-backs, lashed, coursing up
from the vein of your lovely throat.
and-but-I-thought you were kind.
if it is marked,…