Watching holiday movies this weekend? Why not write one?
Spilling Ink Teen Writing Contest
Editor’s Letter, November 2014
After Page One: Blogging
My three-year-old watched me silently with round eyes, ripe for impression. When she asked me what I was doing, I danced around the word “kill.” I told her I was “getting rid of” the flies because I don’t like them. This, of course, was a mistake: I just endorsed violence as a reasonable means of dealing with something she doesn’t like. One day I’ll catch her smacking her baby sister with a shoe in a moment of irritation, and I’ll no longer be able to claim “she didn’t learn that from me.”
Welcome to Class 2 of Birthing the Mother Writer! Here, Cassie focuses on the Deeper Stuff of Poetry.
Pickiness is why “What’s for dinner, Mom?” drives me crazy. It’s the expectation that not only will a meal magically appear on the dinner table every night, the meal will cater to the diverse and capricious tastes of everyone in the family, too. Top earners in America spend almost half their food budget in restaurants; the lowest earners spend just over a third. Clearly, there are pulls away from home-cooking. Social and political issues—city planning, maternity benefits, education, crop subsidies—account for much of this pull. Pickiness, no doubt nurtured by those same issues, accounts for the rest.
What in the ever-loving hell is wrong with people? A few days ago I dropped off my kids at school, as usual, and stopped for coffee on my way home. There in the coffee shop I saw a woman with two toddlers, both of whom were staring at iPads, while she was staring out the window. She was obviously tired, but I could tell that it wasn’t a new experience for those kids. They were tapping and swiping away while their mother daydreamed, and it wasn’t until one of them spilled something that she paid any attention.
Next week is our son Lee’s birthday. He will be 41. We’re planning some of his favorite foods for the occasion: Chinese chicken, stir-fried vegetables and brown rice, with lemon cake and cookie-dough ice cream for dessert. Dara, who loves celebrations, will festoon the kitchen with crepe paper streamers and balloons. There will be no birthday candles, though, and no presents either, because Lee won’t be there.
I’m driving at dusk with one hand on the wheel. The baby is screaming. My right hand, stretched backwards, rocks the car seat while I chant aah and ohm, matching the volume of the screams, for as long as my breath will allow, trying to fill the car with white noise. My four-year-old looks out the window, tuning it all out. At any moment, a deer or chipmunk might bolt in front of my car, or I might turn a corner to find a semi veering into my lane, head-on. Last week, flash floods washed red earth over every road in the area, so it’s impossible to make out the yellow line, to tell where one side ends and the other begins. Every so often, the baby stops crying for about 60 seconds, and I wonder if he’s gone to sleep, or if he’s died, but then he pipes up again full-force.
When the doctor told me I had cancer, I’d asked, how much? It was like when Tami found out she was pregnant. The nurse said, “How pregnant do you want to be?”
This month, we’re celebrating books for which we are thankful. These works speak to us and offer perspective, hope and understanding; they remind us to value what we value. Personally, I’m grateful for every minute I spend reading any book, …
On drives Grace chats about woodpeckers
and how we can have anything we want
in our backyard
The photo of you, Solemn One,
leotarded on your father’s lap
will not make you sob.
2) Miss — There’s barely room for her curvy warp between the mother barrel and straight-sided Girl. Miss hates her mother’s house. If she gets a chance, she’ll roll off and do something better. She’s not sure what’s better.
If you wipe up enough spilled milk
you become one who wipes up milk.
So even grown children give us no
leave to die.
It’s Saturday and we sit on the floor
piecing together LEGO® houses and flying cars
Elizabeth McCracken’s new collection, Thunderstruck & Other Stories, is her first book of short stories since 1993. A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, she is the author of a previous story collection, two novels (including The Giant’s House, which was a finalist for the National Book Award), and a memoir, An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination. A former public librarian, McCracken has received grants and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and many other organizations. McCracken is a faculty member at the University of Texas at Austin, where she holds the James A. Michener Chair in Creative Writing. She is married to the novelist and illustrator Edward Carey.
Russian Roulette: A Review of When Rain Hurts: An Adoptive Mother’s Journey with Fetal Alcohol SyndromeChristina Gombar
In January 2013, Russia enforced a total ban on American adoptions after a Tennessee mother sent her seven-year-old adopted Russian son on a plane back to Moscow, alone. A more recently exposed scandal is that of American adoptive parents “re-homing” …