In case you hadn’t heard, today is World No Tobacco Day. Did that affect any of you? For those of us who don’t smoke, today didn’t call for any sacrifice whatsoever. For those who smoke regularly, well, I’m wondering how many of you felt compelled to take a day off because the World Health Organization sponsored a day to raise awareness about the dangers of smoking.
We all know about the perils that await smokers and second-handers, right?
I love American Public Media’s daily newsletter, The Writer’s Almanac. It’s a spectacular daily vitamin containing historical writerly birthdays, other “on this day in literature history” paragraphs, and a daily poem.
I have a huge crush on whoever it is that researches and writes the “today in history” section, because they unearth the most exquisite quotes and trivia tidbits. For example, today is Walt Whitman’s birthday, and they include this quote of his:
“The public is a thick-skinned beast and you have to keep whacking away at its hide to let it know you’re there.”
I thought all you published-and-publishing authors out there might appreciate that. See, it’s not a recent phenomenon! I find that both heartening and sad.
To read more about Walt, check out the full bio on the APM page (scroll down to May 31st).
Please forgive me. My heart is breaking. I have to practice for my Jewish Book Council audition tonight. And my head is pounding.
Rather than write another sappy post about dying flowers like I did last week, I am going to refer you to someone else this week: Ester Perel on Huffington Post. She wrote a book called Mating in Captivity: Reconciling the Erotic and the Domestic. Courtney wrote about this too: The Pleasure of Distance.
I also want to congratulate Huffington Post on their new expansion. It rocks! Plus, they now link to Crucial Minutiae! How cool is that?!
For this second set of summer jams, I picked Rappers Delight Club and Wilcannia Mob, two acts that are not just singalongably sunny, but also hilariously honest. Both come from the peculiar and wonderful genre of kids’ rap, but manage to stay far from the glossy Lil’ clones so familiar from MTV (excepting the aforeblogged lipgloss-genius Lil’ Mama, and with one honorably surreal mention of seven-year-old reggeaton sensation Miguelito, whose video for Boom Boom disturbingly alternates between cute kids at the zoo and gyrating mamas at a racetrack).
When you google my name–I’m the only “Joie Jager-Hyman” on record–the first thing that pops up is this trying-too-hard-to-sound-like-an-adult letter that I wrote to the editor of the Dartmouth Review when I was a sophomore in college.
My friend at the time had written an article about the death of antisemitism, which I found offensive. I told him so over lunch, and he actually got excited. He encouraged me to Write a letter! So I finished my dinning hall delicacy, cleared my big red plastic tray and stomped back to my dorm room to compose a “thoughtful” response on my Power Mac.
As I continue talking, talking, talking about Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters–on the radio, at colleges, in documentary interviews–the more I am convinced that I have written the book I was supposed to write. Which, of course, is an amazing feeling.
You see I wasn’t that keen on writing about eating disorders specifically, and food and fitness obsession generally, in the first place. I thought my first book was going to be this memoir-ish thing that I wrote for my masters thesis at Gallatin about my grandmother’s mental illness. Perhaps that reflection will still make it out into the world, but after lots of rejections from agents and publishers, I realized that it wasn’t ready.
I’ll be honest. Sometimes, I feel like a fool, writing this column week after week. I stubbornly search for some small piece of beauty hidden in the dire daily news parade of Bad, Worse, and Worst. All because I refuse to learn the lesson that the world is awful, people are basically evil, and the best news is the bloodiest news.
And yet — sometimes I feel obligated (to whom, I ask myself?) to tone down my posts, to make sure I include a dollop of gloom-and-doom to the news stories that I highlight here.