I know, I know. You’re tired of reading about Balloon Boy. I just wanted to take a moment and ask: Remember when you were that trusting? Someone older and supposedly wiser told you to do something and you went along with it because you yet hadn’t accumulated years of experiences, good and bad, to give you insight as to when to follow directions and when to say, “Are you kidding me?”
I remember. It was when a freckle-faced girl named Alice told me that I should eat the “blue Hawaiian ice” from the toilet in our pre-school bathroom. This was back in the days when you had to go to the potty with a buddy. While mine was a year older, she wasn’t much of a buddy– inasmuch as she nearly poisoned me with toilet freshener. Luckily, a teacher was suspicious about how long we were in there and saved me from an early death before I took that first bite.
It’s been a few years since I’ve taught theater to young kids, but I’ll never forget the discussions we had about the difference between make-believe and lying and between a show and real life. Some parents had clearly put deep-seeded fear into their children about the dangers of deception. Other kids found story-making and trickery to be second nature. I wonder what will become of Balloon Boy. Will he decide that he likes the limelight and continue to do things “for the show”? Or will he realize that he was manipulated by his own parents and never be able to trust anyone again? The trust of a child is so freely given and so easily lost.
I’ve decided to continue the trend of baby talk, but with a twist. I’m just about to “give birth” to my own kicking, screaming, possibly overweight baby–a book. With the deadline looming (August 15th), and a month of pure bliss in the form of a writer’s residency in Italy, you’d think that I’d be in a state of real joy and a sense of release. It’s almost done! It’s almost perfect! It’s…wait…oh, yeah, that’s not how it feels at all.
In my limited experience, every time I finish a book, I feel totally unclear about how good said book actually is. Once you live with something for that long, nit pick it and obsess over it, fact check it and get it critiqued, revise it and revise it, it’s hard to have any real perspective on it. I know I chose great people to profile. I know that I have written things before that people liked. I know that there are nearly 200 pages of words in a Word document. And I know I’ll just have to wait and get some distance from it before I have any sense of whether I actually like it.
In this regard, I imagine, real babies are much different. Even if that sucker is all wrinkled and purple and covered in stuff, crying and squirming, having just caused you the most intense pain of your life, you can’t help but think it’s the most perfect creation.
Don’t miss She Writes, Deborah Siegel and Kamy Wicoff’s awesome new social networking site for lady penners. You can start discussion threads, join groups, learn about upcoming classes, and blog about your literary adventures. A great new resource.
Everyone knows it’s not the most secure time to be a writer. There’s a lot of doomsday rhetoric out there, which I really try to stay away from. I believe that people will always be hungry for stories–well-crafted, beautifully told, reflective. Those take time and, therefore, money, to create. Twitter, in other words, isn’t going to displace people’s interest in nonfiction and novels. Or at least that’s my belief.
Plenty of people are trying to innovate new ways of organizing the news, however. One of the latest is True-Slant. According to the site:
True/Slant is the digital home for the “Entrepreneurial Journalist.” Knowledgeable and credible contributors anchor and build their digital brands on True/Slant using tools that enable them to easily create content and craft stories filtered through human perspective (not an algorithm)…Our goal is to build a community that is as engaged with the news as we are. With that in mind, we opened up the site even though we are not quite ready to launch a finished product. We consider this our Alpha version, and ask you to remember that as you explore the site.
It will be interesting to follow this experiment as it develops.
I’ve been fantasizing about men a lot lately. No, not that kind of fantasizing you dirty birds…I’ve been fantasizing about them getting involved in activism around family-friendly work policy, subsidized childcare, sexist mainstream media, violence against women, and a range of other fields that have too long been framed as “women’s issues.” An excerpt from a column of mine that ran yesterday sums it up:
The truth is our fates are inextricably tied together, not running on two parallel tracks. When men lose their jobs — and, indeed, they have at a higher rate than women recently — American families all suffer, just as they suffer when women are paid unequal wages or fired for missing work to take care of sick kids or an elderly parent. Newsflash: Men aren’t from Mars and women aren’t from Venus; we’re all struggling to make healthy, meaningful lives on the same damn planet — and it’s time we started acting like it.
At the end of my panel on feminism and men on Saturday at the Brooklyn Museum of Art, the unstoppable Daniel May asked a question about the language that we use to frame such issues and it got me thinking…maybe feminists do need to let go of a bit of the ownership. But if we step back, dudes, will you step forward?
I just can’t resist Sarah Haskins. She’s feminist. She’s funny. And she’s a vicious critic of stupid advertising.
Do not miss Michael May’s (yes, Daniel May’s brother) amazing This American Life, Turncoat, on Brandon Darby, post-Katrina organizer turned FBI informant. A description:
Brandon Darby was a radical activist and one of the founders of the incredibly effective relief organization Common Ground. Michael May reports on how Darby changed from a revolutionary who wanted the overthrow of the U.S. government into an informant working with the FBI against his former radical allies.
It brings up so many critical issues about activism: the “hero complex,” working inside vs. outside the system, violence vs. nonviolence, approaches to leadership–collaborative (slow, but ethical) vs. authoritarian (effective, but isolating), mentorship in the movement etc. etc.