Archive for Discourse

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lifes-that-wayIntensely personal stories often illuminate universal truths. Writer and actor Jim Beaver’s memoir is one of those. In October 2003, his wife Cecily was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer. In an effort to keep loved ones abreast of the situation, Jim began sending a nightly e-mail to 125 friends and family members. These messages, eventually reaching an audience of nearly 4,000 and spanning a year, are the basis of “Life’s That Way”.

Jim writes: “I’ve attempted to flood the path with light where I could, and where I could not I’ve wanted at least to hold up a candle so that others coming this way might not stumble too painfully.” And indeed he has. The first 1/3 of the book traces the course of Cecily’s illness, painting her so vividly that her death in early March is a punch in the gut, even to the reader who met her a mere 125 pages earlier.

The remaining 2/3 of “Life’s That Way” deals with the aftermath in a way that is immediate and intimate. Beaver continues the nightly e-mails, processing his experiences, sharing the struggle of raising a young daughter alone and mourning his beloved wife. “I will bear this grief. I will endure it. I will reach a point where it doesn’t kick me down an abyss whenever I turn my back on it.”

As someone who still deals with the abyss of grief on a daily basis, I found this beautiful book wrenching and yet somehow hopeful as Jim Beaver weaves wisdom and humor into his story and their lives. I recommend it highly, not only to those who have faced such grief but to anyone who someday might. As Beaver so pointedly writes: “Some kind of Providence keeps us blind to the intensity of suffering so as to keep us sane, until that day when the suffering is our own or that of someone we love beyond imagining.”

But taking this journey with Jim, Cecily and their daughter Maddie has made me more acutely aware of the necessity for life beyond the grief. 

[You can find "Life's That Way" now on Amazon or GoodReads.]

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This is an open letter to the transphobic group Privacy for All Students which has been working overtime to repeal California’s new law protecting transgender kids in the schools:

I get it. You’re trying to protect your children from a perceived threat. Some of you are even willing to file false reports of transgender kids doing the things you imagine they’d want to do so you can get the ball rolling. I’ve lied to protect my child. I understand the urge. But the reality is that your children aren’t the ones in danger.

Our transgender children are routinely harassed, humiliated and violently violated by sweet little darlings like yours. Our transgender children are singled out, attacked and shunned by those good little boys and girls you’re raising to be ignorant, hateful and terrified of anything they don’t understand.

Your misplaced indignation and transphobic rhetoric is a real and present danger to our transgender children and your obsession with peeking over stalls honestly freaks us out to the point that we wish we could keep YOU out of the restrooms our children use. Quite honestly, you are the reason a law like this needed to exist in the first place.

Our transgender children deserve the right to use the restroom in which they feel safest, because they are subjected on a daily basis to small-minded, cold-hearted, bigoted little bastards like the ones you’re raising to be just like you.

sincerely,

one pissed off trans-parent

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1113In Writing News - I’m one week and 16,000 words into the new novel. I owe much of that word count to a handful of Twitter friends, busting out word sprints of 20 – 30 minutes throughout the day. There’s something about the joint effort, even with virtual strangers, that is motivating. Because writing is, by nature, a solitary act, we can get mired in our own muck and talk ourselves out of exciting and productive work. I’m trying to keep myself accountable this time around – to myself, my NaNoWriMo buddies and most importantly, to my novel.

I had a serious slump on Friday, writing next-to-nothing and Saturday wasn’t much better. But today, I jumped over the stuck point and was able to push through three more chapters. With the exception of the nagging feeling that I’m telling the story from the wrong POV, I’m feeling good about the progress I’ve made and how the story is unfolding. My shitty first draft (a la Annie Lamott) is well on its way.

In Reading News – I’m 2/3 of the way through Jim Beaver’s “Life’s That Way”, a memoir spanning his wife’s illness and the aftermath of her death. Because it was written as a series of e-mails to loved ones as the events were taking place, there is a rawness to the writing that is wrenching. Incredibly engaging and some seriously brilliant thoughts on grief. 

To balance out the intensity of Beaver’s book, I’m finishing up Christopher Moore’s “Lamb; The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal” and starting in on Diana Rowland’s “My Life As A White Trash Zombie”.

In Other News – My oven has been repaired, I’ve acquired a cat named Fraidy and I get to see my godchildren in Monterey next weekend. How about you?

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friendsGreat live music is one of the (few) things that I love about my hometown. Last month, a group of local musicians released a CD titled “My Friends & I”, showcasing Modesto’s vibrant music scene. The project was the brainchild of Earl Matthews who fronts both The Cryin’ Shame and The Poorhouse Millionaires and whose big badass blues voice turns me into a giggling fangirl every damn time. The collection is a mix of acoustic blues, contemporary folk and americana. 

In an effort to promote this local talent on a wider scale, and make some art of her own in the process, my ever-brilliant sister Ruth (aka Bullish) organized a group of fiction writers and put together a collection of stories inspired by the songs on the CD. 

You can find out more about the song/story collaboration at Bullishink.com or check out the original Kickstarter for “My Friends & I”. The CD is available on Amazon and at CD Baby, while the e-book is at Smashwords for free and Amazon for 99-cents. And the next time you’re passing through California’s Central Valley, stop in and check out our superb live music scene. You won’t be disappointed.

The following Modesto area bands and artists collaborated on 13 great tracks: The Poorhouse Millionaires, Ryan Russell, The House of Orange, Heaven Lindsey-Burtch, The Rob Hill Band, Cole Thompson, Sommer Cooks, Patty Castillo Davis, Christine McGrew, Bethany Joseph, Nathan Ignacio, Lovecore Singing Telegrams, Bob and Chandler 

And the 13 writers who donated 1,000 words apiece to the cause are as follows: M.L. Gammella, Ruth Long, Sarah Aisling, Lillie McFerrin, Jenn Monty, Jeff Tsuruoka, Lisa Shambrook, Lizze Koch, Samantha Geary, Nick Johns, L.E. Jamez, Jeff Hollar, Bradley Richter

Now GO! Follow the links!

READ, LISTEN  AND PASS IT ON :)

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It’s a Book Meme. How could I resist? Feel free to link your own version in the comments.

Author(s) You’ve Read the Most Books Of:

Charles Bukowski, Louise Erdrich, Agatha Christie, Elmore Leonard, Chuck Palhinuk, Alison Bechdel, Sherman Alexie, Brendan Halpin, Michelle Tea, Anne Rice, Ivan e. Coyote, Diane Wakoski and of course, Laura Ingalls Wilder.

Best Sequel Ever:

I’ve always thought that Memnoch The Devil was head and shoulders above Anne Rice’s other vampire tales.

Currently Reading:

Lipstick Jihad by Azadeh Moaveni and (despite my agnosticism) A Year of Biblical Womanhood by Rachel Held Evans

Drink of Choice While Reading:

Water with ice for chomping unless it’s Bukowski and then it’s whiskey.

E-Reader or Physical Book:

Both, though I prefer an actual paperback book.

Fictional Character You Probably Would Have Dated in High School:

Mouse from The 18th Emergency.

Glad You Gave This Book a Chance:

The Last Temptation of Christ

Hidden Gem Books:

The Joys of Yiddish – Leo Rosten

Silk – Alessandro Baricco

My First Kafka – Matthue Roth

Important Moment in Your Reading Life:

Woman At Point Zero by Nawal El Saddawi changed everything Read the rest of this entry »