Guest Posts, Inspiration, Self Image

The Frenemy in the Mirror.

September 12, 2014
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By Georgia Kolias.

I walked through my bedroom door with a pile of laundry in my arms, clean clothes destined for dresser drawers. On leaving the room, I realized that my four-year-old daughter was standing in front of the full-length mirror. When we bought our house, we realized the previous owners must have been giants. The bathroom mirrors were high enough that I could only see my head floating up around the bottom of the medicine cabinet door. There were no other mirrors in the house and that suited me just fine. Looking at my body in the mirror was not usually something I wanted to do. Not because I have an unusually horrific deformity that I can’t face, but just because mirrors are a tool of the devil. You can either become bewitched by allowing yourself to feel validated and worthy because you like what you see, or they can become instruments of delusional torture in those moments when you aren’t feeling your best, your clothes feel awkward on your body, and the unavoidable critical voice in your head narrates rude descriptions of your flaws. Continue Reading…

Guest Posts, healing, Inspiration

I am a Native New Yorker.

September 11, 2014
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By Jody Hagemann.

I am a native New Yorker and an only child. I was twenty five years old. The doctors called at around 8:45 am on September 11, 2001 to let my mother know she had lung cancer. The phone call was cut off when the one of the Twin Towers came down. My parents tried to call the doctors back, to no avail.

Where was I?

My parents knew I was on a plane in Cleveland about to depart for Madison, Wisconsin at 9 am for business. We were removed from the plane, told something happened in New York and we could not fly that day. In the airport, an announcement was made that a plane with a bomb on board was heading towards the Cleveland airport and we were to evacuate immediately. I ran with hundreds of others out the front door of the airport into the bright blue sky and onto the nearby expressway. There was silence. We stood, we waited, heard nothing. Not a plane in the sky.

No plane with a bomb ever appeared. (Later on we realized it was the plane that went down in Shanksville, PA – it had come into the Cleveland airspace).

Continue Reading…

Books, Guest Posts, parenting

Lost. By David L. Ulin.

September 9, 2014
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By David L. Ulin.

(From: The Lost Art of Reading: Why Books Matter in a Distracted Time)

I decided I would help my son Noah with The Great Gatsby. He didn’t ask, not exactly, but neither did he say no. First, I showed him some of my annotations: a galley of a novel I was reviewing, the marked-up copy of a text I was preparing to teach. He stood just inside the door of my home office, thumbing through the pages, smiling closely to himself. “You’d fail if you were in my class,” he said.

Noah was right, of course, for I am a minimalist when it comes to marginalia … or maybe, it’s just that, at this point, I know what works for me. Either way, I’ve developed my own shorthand for note-taking, a system of slashes and asterisks and underlinings that take the place of language, that serve more as memory triggers — cite this — than as the component parts of any intellectual or critical frame. It’s not that I mind highlighting passages that move me; in fact, I’ve grown so used to reading with a pen in my hand that I miss it, an almost physical ache, when I read for pleasure, as if in the act of annotation, I can’t help but take a deeper plunge. And yet, like Noah, I don’t want to be distracted, don’t want to be pulled out of the flow. The sample annotations that he showed me, a series of page spreads covered with small, precise loops of writing, made my head hurt, not so much because of the denseness of the commentary as because of how it cluttered up the page. Too many notes and it can get overwhelming, interposing the reader’s sensibility on top of the writer’s until it is obscured. To me, this is antithetical to the nature of the process, which is (or should be) porous, an interweaving rather than a dissemination, a blending, not an imposition, of sensibilities. Continue Reading…

Grief, Guest Posts, healing

How to Rebuild a House.

September 8, 2014
Leah Tallon is a writer living in Milwaukee.

By Leah Tallon

Seven months ago, the house I had been living in with my boyfriend, Dave, and my miniature dachshund, Molly, burned to the ground while we were checking in for dinner reservations in downtown Milwaukee. We’d been gone all day, visiting his grandmother, applying to my dream bookstore, getting haircuts and, somewhere in the middle of all that, 20 minutes away, an electrical wire inside the wall of the office was sparking, the outdated cloth-covered wires catching fire after months, maybe years of luck finally running threadbare. The flames grew quietly in the center of the house and ate their way through family heirloom bookshelves full of paperbacks, an oriental rug, to the coat closet and the connecting wall to the living room, up through the ceiling to the bedrooms, to the roof. It filled the spaces between rafters under the floorboards and ripped through the basement ceiling. In one of my recurring dreams, I still hear Molly, my best friend for 6 years, scared and trapped in her kennel, barking while the smoke puts her to sleep and she dies alone until the firefighters can drag her kennel out into the clean snow. While support beams and walls crumbled, a friend of a friend posted on Facebook about the house closest to the park being a cloud of smoke, “There are fire trucks everywhere, they can’t find the owners, does anyone know who lives there?” A close friend saw the internet S.O.S. and called us, still 20 minutes away.

That’s where this essay that I don’t want to write starts but it’s not the real beginning. It’s not what this is about. There’s no beginning because I can’t find one.

Continue Reading…

Converse-Station, Interview, writing

The Converse-Station: Angela Giles Patel Interviews Chloe Caldwell.

September 7, 2014
Chloe Caldwell in Kingston, NY for Grazia 5/31/14

The Converse-Station.

Jen Pastiloff here. I’m the founder of The Manifest-Station. Welcome to The Converse-Station: A place where writers interview writers. With the site getting so much traffic, I can think of no better way to utilize that traffic than to introduce the readers to writers I love. The dialogues created within this series have stayed with me long after I’ve read them on the page. Today’s is no different. It’s between Angela Giles Patel (who happens to be one of my best friends and one of the 2 editors of this site) and the incomparable Chloe Caldwell, who is just an astounding writer, teacher, truth-teller.

By Angela Patel.

My first introduction to Chloe Caldwell was via her Letter in the Mail from The Rumpus. In the letter she admitted “I’ve never known how to write a letter, or a postcard, (or an email…?) without just going into the dumb shit in my brain.” And it continued on for nine glorious pages filled with all sorts of wonderful. By the end, I was smitten by her and immediately read everything I could get my hands, or cursor, on. Then I learned she was teaching an online course at LitReactor. I signed up, paid attention, and the rest is history. Continue Reading…

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