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More Lipstick for the Wolf

Lately, I spend my Saturdays reading.

I have read five books by Ruth Reichl, wonderful stories of travel and food and champagne and love. I have read all three of L.M. Montgomery’s Emily of New Moon books, which, as Natasha Lyonne avers, are better if grimmer than the Anne of Green Gable series: more honest, higher stakes. Also I have reread Eve Babitz’s Sex and Rage and Black Swans. And of course all of MFK Fisher.

Especially How to Cook a Wolf.

It does not escape me that all these books are by and about women writers who found love and literary success.

For the moment, both evade me. I say “for the moment” because I am relentlessly hopeful in my own way. Though my romances have conferred as much pain as pleasure, I still look forward to the next one.

And though I have yet to sell my book–yet to finish it, even–I see its cover before I go to sleep at night. Sometimes on someone else’s night table.

In the meantime I keep my scale very, very small. Frankly, I’m too broke to go out. I have no money to spend and though an affordable New York still lurks beneath the city’s Instagram ops and best-of lists, I find myself weary and wary when faced with the prospect of restaurants and bars. Friends invariably pick up the checks and it hurts to burden them. This is not how I like to live. This is not how I like to treat my people.

In my home I can take care of business. I rise early and write as long as my brain will let me, then go for a long walk, the neighborhood quiet in the mid-afternoon. I shop the grocery sales and cook slowly as the sun ripens in the horizon. I cook because it is cheaper than eating or ordering out but also because the rhythm of stirring, chopping, stirring–knife thumping, oil sizzling, sauce thickening– feels elegant and serene. The way I felt before the Legend smiled at me and I smiled back. Continue Reading →

A Word from the Siren in Charge

1970s Alice Walker taking up plenty of space like the good womanist she is.

I’ve been really struck that, even now, I’m seeing a number of women couch their indignation about the Kavanaugh hearings with phrases like “of course not ALL men…” and “there are really good guys.” Obviously not all guys are awful but I’m tired of tiptoeing around male feelings.

Witness how, even as CBF was serving her civic duty at great personal cost, she was in a million palpable ways laboring to “make nice”–to apologize for taking up any space. It is vital that we women stop people-pleasing no matter what our conditioning. I get that those of us who sleep with anyone identifying as a man are deeply conflicted in a way that is still unacknowledged. That we may unconsciously fear wilting dicks even as we wave our flags. But the bottom line is we need to stop being cool girls and instead stand as grown-ass women.

Everyone bold enough to identify as a women in this misogynistic culture needs to speak in declarative sentences rather than upticks that beg for permission. We need to stop playing along or picking our battles when micro- or macro-aggression appears. We need to call out BS as it happens in real time. Even if it means we seem like “man haters,” we need to stop apologizing for ourselves and stop trying to pretty up our righteous fury. And can we stop patting “good guys” on the back like they deserve a medal for achieving a baseline of decency in the face of profound human rights violations? I honestly expect any man I electively know to use their male privilege to fight misogyny and gender inequality at every turn. Life is short but the legacy we leave is long.

In other news, Mrs. Lincoln, Grace is really digging on the cooler weather. She’s all, mom, I like to snuggle in your knee pit! and, mom, isn’t it fun to play with jangly balls at 3 am? So cuddly I can hardly begrudge her transgressions, she’s keeping me company as I roast acorn squash, brussels sprouts, and pork loin tonight with concord grapes, thyme, and chopped apples. I also am opening a bottle of red from the Sierra Foothills that I’d been saving for a special occasion. Because, you know, Sunday blues, mean reds, permakittens, and patriarchy. NYC balance, y’all.

Erma Bombastic’s Bruja Penicillin

Monday was a full moon, an especially powerful one since it followed on the heels of the autumn equinox. Both aspects were all about conserving energy–letting go of what wouldn’t serve in the long, dark nights to come.

That made so much sense that I didn’t want to waste precious energy talking about it. Actually I didn’t want to talk about anything, which I feel more and more as toxic masculinity holds the country hostage in its hideous, withered talons. People keep saying this is its dying gasp, but if there’s one thing I know about power theory, it’s that those who have power never willingly cede it. Revolution is always necessary for systemic change, and most of us in the second year of 45’s oligarchy are too rundown to be as radical as is required.

To be clear, I don’t just feel this poison in the political realm–I feel it in my personal life, my professional life. My DNA. My pussy. And it’s exhausting. Male entitlement has completely drained me. I feel ill–headachey, dyspeptic, itchy, restless. I check my phone a billion times a day, I toss it across the room a billion and one times more. I’m not hungry, I’m too thirsty. You get the point.

So when I got home last night from a particularly trying day on the front lines of the cockacracy, I eyed that big beautiful moon and my disaster of an apartment (I’ve really let things slide since Beau stopped coming by), and resolved to concoct a special chicken soup. This witch’s brew didn’t heal me all at once, but it infused me with the power and wisdom and charisma of Diana and Sophia and Oshun and Yemaya and both Marys and of course Aretha. Also it tasted pretty good. I woke soothed and energized, ready to rise like a pheonix from this country’s flames.

Here’s the recipe. Continue Reading →

"All, everything I understand, I understand only because I love."
― Leo Tolstoy