Hi, everyone. Today’s essay by Elan Mastai about his first screenwriting job and the loss of his mother to cancer had me alternately blinking back tears and laughing aloud. It is truly wonderful and you do not want to miss it.
I love everything Teri Vlassopoulos writes, and she is so honest and thoughtful here on the fraught topics of (sometimes) wanting to quit writing now that she is a parent and has less time for it, and whether maternal happiness can even be trusted.
My friend Emily Brooks and I talked about autism, the rights of disabled students, and the need for disability justice in education:
Imagine if knowing students’ disabilities were a way to understand how to make the material most accessible to them, and there wasn’t so much pigeonholing based on outdated ideas about disabilities. Imagine if students’ goals for themselves, no matter how lofty, mattered more than externally imposed goals based on “normalization.” Imagine if the language of accessing disability services centered on strengths and differences and individual interests. Individualized, strengths-based education, as you mention, would benefit everyone. As we work to dismantle the oppression embedded in our education systems and our society, we will increase support, safety, and acceptance for all young people.
“You Will Be With Me in Paradise,” Wan Phing Lim’s beautiful essay about her father’s death and cremation:
Red or blue ribbon? The red is too gaudy, the blue however, matches the marble urn, its veins a light shade of grey. It’s a hot day to be back at the crematorium, but this time we are in a private room. Femur, pelvis, flecks of skull—father’s remains are served in a silver tray. In true hierarchical fashion, the eldest is invited for first dips. Clumsy chopsticks pick on calcium bits—curses befall the descendant who drops her father’s bones.
Marcia Butler, Catapult Writing Program alum and author of the new memoir The Skin Above My Knee, on her writing process and how music helps her unlock her creativity: “I know from my experience in music that the golden stuff comes after the chafe, the grind, and the sadness. One rarely hits high notes until you’ve missed many.”
Eva Recinos remembers her old worry dolls —a rtifacts from her childhood that now remind her of her parents ’ love and courage, and her own inner strength.
A lovely essay by Kayla Whaley on rollercoaster thrills and found butterfly wings, her childhood experiences with self-touch, and the awareness and shame that only came later:
Good girls, normal girls didn’t collect the half-rotted and discarded wings of dead butterflies—not even if they had once been beautiful; not even if they still were beautiful in some fragile, inexplicable way. Good girls didn’t cradle these wings like prayers and hide them among pencil shavings and gummy erasers. They didn’t hide things at all. Why hide if you don’t fear getting caught? And why fear getting caught if you aren’t doing anything wrong?
Elizabeth Ellen on relocation, family, and watching beloved friends and children grow up: “I was happy we’d all of us found our way to Ann Arbor, Michigan, even though we all had other places we also called home, other cities and countries and people who weren’t present that we loved.”
While I’m glad I read this fantastic piece, it actually made me squirm a little: “Do You Want to Be Known For Your Writing, or For Your Swift Email Responses?” Melissa Febos has somehow managed to peer deep down into my soul, and based on the responses and tweets I saw, I am one of many who feel that way.