Dear Delia: A Reading List of Dissent and Love

Recently, my fourteen-year-old goddaughter, Delia, asked for a reading list. I knew she was serious because she sent the request by snail mail – the millennial equivalent of engraving a message in stone. “I didn’t even vote for this president and he’s ruining my future,” she wrote. “I need books to get woke.” Obviously, an equally serious response was in order – one that acknowledged the gravity of our national turmoil without exacerbating her fears. So with the help of far smarter friends, I assembled a primer of essential “consciousness-raisers” that are neither condescending nor obtusely phrased, and I organized them into three categories I thought might appeal to her. I think this list will support resisters of all ages, for one of literature’s greatest services is to re-rear the scared, angry kids we each carry inside us. But in the spirit of James Baldwin’s epistolary essay, “Letter to My Nephew on the One Hundredth Anniversary of the Emancipation,” the “you” to whom I refer is my goddaughter in the wake of the first 100 days of the Trump presidency. Continue Reading →

The Mothers Day Grinch

For me, Mothers Day is the plain worst. In the past it made me weepy; now it makes me grim. I know I’m not the only person who feels this way. I also know that vocalizing this dissent is controversial at best, toxic at worst. (I’ve got stories.) That said, I’m going to vocalize it once again, and not just in solidarity with all those who don’t have kids or lost their mother or don’t exactly have a hearts-and-flowers relationship with her. I’m calling out Mother’s Day because shattering myths is one of the few upsides of our new dystopia.

I’ll start with this: I am electively child-free. I mentor, I big-sister, I god-parent, but I never wanted to be a mother, and I say this as a person who has been pregnant twice. (What happened in either instance is a story I’ve yet to tell in print.) I like some kids, even love a few, but ended up feeling I’d spent too much of my youth babysitting adults and other people’s offspring to sign on for dirty diapers and asshole adolescences as a grown woman. As well, I don’t much care for the emphasis of nuclear families over other, more elective types of human relationships; the fact that Freud is still a common reference is evidence enough of their inherent dysfunction. And the relationships between mothers and daughters? Oy vey. Continue Reading →

National Luci Day

Today is the twelfth anniversary of my youngest goddaughter Luci’s birth. From the minute I met this person as a pie-eyed, very round infant, she possessed the ability to meet people where they are and smile them into an exchanged joy; when she was a toddler, she did so wearing only a diaper and very muddy ladybug boots. Yesterday—the day before her birthday, mind you—I received a tiny envelope. In it was a rainbow pendant of Mother Mary. “I knew how much you love Mary,” she’d printed. “So I had to get it!” That she sent it at all was lovely; that she instinctively sent it during Mother Mary’s month is just amazing. I am grateful for many things in my life but being a godmother to this star flower and her sister-star Delia is high on that list; ditto for their mother Melina, my partner-in-crime since first grade. Chosen family is a miraculous thing, and so is peony-scented love.

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