Am I alone in reading at the beach without advice?
I’m honored to have my essay “Hindsight” in the Winter edition of Mary: A Journal of New Writing.
I was a graduate student in psychology when my therapist said, “It sounds as though you spend about ninety percent of your time trying not to be like your mother.” True. What right-minded person would want to be like my mother? She was weak, sickly, hospitalized for suicidal depression at one point, and an alcoholic. Striving—consciously and non-consciously—not to be like my mother shaped my life for decades.
Feelings rather than logic drove Mom’s thinking. She was a kitchen-sink fighter—throwing everything into every argument. For her, no argument was ever lost because no argument was ever over. As a child, even in my bedroom with a pillow over my head, I could hear her screech about things that happened months or years ago with no apparent connection to whatever triggered this particular bout. I absolutely sided with Dad when he’d finally say, “I’m not gonna listen to any more of this crap.” He would then head to the basement or garden, the door banging behind him.
My earliest memories of Mom aren’t so negative. She worked hard, laughed a lot, enjoyed playing euchre, and taught Sunday School and Vacation Bible School. An excellent seamstress, she made a wedding gown for one of her younger sisters. She and Dad belonged to a square-dancing club, and she sewed their matching outfits. She was inconsistent—sometimes sending me out to cut a switch and then not disciplining me with it—but she also made wonderful birthday cakes. She taught me to sew, cook, clean house, and iron.
Read more at Mary: A Journal of New Writing. Thank you to Mary‘s editors for publishing “Hindsight.”
There’s been a lot of great news lately. I’m delighted to share that my short story “Beast and the Beauty” is in the Spring 2015 issue (Volume 16) of Clare Literary Magazine, a publication of Cardinal Stritch University.
Thank you to the Editorial Team at Clare Literary Magazine.
A while back on Facebook, I mentioned that on the recommendation of my ten-year-old granddaughter, I was reading The Cabinet of Curiosities. I made a connection to Different Drummer stories, except for children. Then she read all three volumes of The Hunger Games—which, frankly, seem a bit horrific to me, not to mention advanced. Upon finishing, her comment was, “That was sad.” No nightmares or anxieties or other negative effects are apparent. Maybe her reaction is testimony to the fascination children have always had for (fictional) horror, as evidenced by the longevity of fairytales in their original (as opposed to Disney) versions.
Now she is reading Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children. Now, as general background, I would say that my granddaughter is very smart, and a very advanced reader, and her parents are both very intelligent and somewhat unconventional. But she’s ten-and-a-half. And I wonder how the world is changing. As I recall, at about that age, I was reading the Ruth Fielding adventure series. I find this book a real page-turner, but it includes sentences like, “‘Do I look like I blow truckers for food stamps?’ Ricky was a connoisseur of your-mom jokes, but this was apparently more than he could take.” And it includes issues of mental illness (paranoia, etc.)
My take-away is that children and families are different, and that what is acceptable reading material varies widely. And most importantly, adults with children or grandchildren who read need to dip into their reading worlds. And be prepared to set limits, encourage, and discuss as needed.
What are your thoughts and experiences?
The best thing about the writing life is that it is never boring. The worst thing about the writing life is that it makes one much more critical of the fair to middlin’ writing of once enjoyable books.