I have been busy. I have overcommitted. I have disappointed editors. I will be spending the weekend trying to catch up. I taught Tuesday, did a reading in Chicago on Wednesday, taught Thursday, did a reading in St. Louis, which is far, on Friday. I need a personal assistant. I need to learn how to say no. I need to do this sooner than later.
I am also trying to make the time to go to the gym. Frankly, that matters more than almost anything else so yeah, I am taking time to work on my fitness as the song goes.
I am slowly figuring out how to get home in this new town. I always make it but I know I am not taking the most efficient route yet. Regardless, when I see this building, I know I am near my apartment.
I did a radio interview at WGN, while in Chicago, with an interesting host. He was very attractive in the way I like—good Midwestern stock. My sister-in-law came along for the ride. We were talking about Bad Feminist and the host asked me, “Do you really think I, as a white man, am more privileged than you?”
Heh. That actually happened.
Whenever I see the number 33 I have to take a picture. She is always with me and everywhere, there are reminders. This is an unexpected comfort.
In Chicago, I read at the lovely store Women and Children First. Before the reading, me, my brother, sister-in-law, and niece went to dinner because my niece was about to melt down. Basically as we sat down, we requested french fries. The waitress brought this bowl of pita bread and my niece attacked it like a velociraptor. She may only weigh 23 pounds, but when she is hungry, she is HANGRY. She was wearing sneakers that light up when she moves I cannot handle how adorable those shoes are. So tiny! At 7:30, we walked back to the bookstore which was insanely packed. I don’t know, 200-300 people. And it was HOT. Every reading has been unbearably hot. I have sweated off at least 15 pounds in the past couple weeks.
Anyway, as I walked in, the audience began applauding. I just don’t even understand. It felt fucking great.
I went on stage and read and took questions. A young woman thanked me for writing about being fat and disordered eating and I almost cried. Then there was a crazy signing line that took, god, an hour and a half. People stayed for all of it. In addition to my brother’s family, my cousin (who is more brother than cousin) and his partner were also there. It was so nice to be around my people and to share what I do with my family. My niece was really well-behaved. For the most part she sat and listened and babbled. A couple times she did her ancestor sigh, which just made me laugh. I get it, kid. I need to wrap this up. The store owners gave her toys to play with during the signing and she was quite content because there were so many people! Paying attention to her!
There were some very… umm intense fans at that reading. It was eye-opening. And flattering. And surreal. I am still trying to wrap my mind around this new phase of my life.
The latest re-print of Bad Feminist looks like this, minus the pin, that is just a pin, sitting on top of the book.
Last night, I read in St. Louis at Left Bank Books. Another great reading. More than 100 people in the audience. INSANELY HOT. I was sweating buckets. It was just. so. fucking. hot. I was sweating buckets. I am repeating that to express how hot it was.
Before the reading, I was at home, rushing to the radio station to participate in this On Point conversation about Beyoncé and feminism on NPR. My co-panelists were Tanya Steele and Jessica Valenti. It was an interesting, thought-provoking conversation though it felt hard to fully express myself at times because the host kind of cut us all off at times.
Before I did that, I was feeling really low and exhausted. I don’t know why but this weekend I am feeling the distance more than I usually do. I am shrouded in longing and loneliness. I miss her. She’s just so much fun to spend time with. She is so good for me. I think I am good for her. I want that goodness always. I want it all. This is greedy but I don’t care. Fuck it. I want it all.
Anyway I was just not in the perkiest mood and beyond all that I am also feeling stressed out of my mind because I was feeling just how much I have overcommitted this semester. I made an executive decision. There was no way I was going to be able to drive to St. Louis with my sanity intact so I hired a driver. I sure did. It’s gonna get me in trouble but sometimes, self-care is important. The driver came and picked me up in a Cadillac and ferreted me to my reading and then brought me home. At one point, we stopped at a gas station and he hopped out to open my door (which I kept saying he didn’t need to do and which he ignored), and then he stood and waited and it was kind of cool to have a handsome white man waiting on me. As I walked out of the gas station, this brother said, “Damn. Are you a celebrity?” I just laughed and said, “No, I am a writer.”
Treat. Yo. Self.
Then I met Curtis Sittenfeld who wrote American Wife, which is one of my favorite books. I tried super hard not to be awkward.
One of my former graduate students drove three hours to see me read so I had dinner with her after. It was so great to catch up. She is doing really well and that makes me happy.
I stole this big version of the Bad Feminist cover. I mean, I asked for it and they gave it to me but I would have stolen it.
In the signing line, I met a young woman who thanked me for talking so openly about the fluidity of sexuality and as is often the case in these moments, I urged myself not to cry. She also brought me cupcakes!
Someone else brought me pink letter stickers. I did not know people bring writers gifts but now I know and it is GREAT.
But I felt the cupcake woman’s gratitude so deeply. (I know her name.) And I understood where it was coming from. My sexuality has not really ever stressed me out but it has baffled me at times. I am openly, eagerly bisexual but I was done with women after my last relationship with a woman! I was fucking done. This is what I told myself. And then there was her. Here I am in uncharted territory.
This young woman, Jenny (Jenni?) introduced me at Left Bank Books and she was wearing the most amazing shirt and SHE MADE ME A TEAM PEETA arts and crafts project that I will cherish forever. I think we are super friends now.
Then I posed with the staff at Left Bank Books and I saw two unicorns, I mean, black booksellers.
During the Q & A a black woman who works in Ferguson asked me how we can get more people of color at literary events and I did not have an answer but she did invite me to read in Ferguson and I said I would, happily and I meant it, so that’s going to happen at some point.
I feel I look okay in this picture. It takes a lot for me to say that.
Last Sunday, I went out and bought the New York Times and saw my book listed on the bestseller list and I did that dance Miss Celie does when she sees the house she inherits.
The book is still selling well. It’s on a bunch of local bestseller lists. Booksellers keep telling me amazing things about how the book is selling. I am thrilled.
Here is a really thoughtful review of both Bad Feminist and An Untamed State in The Boston Review.
I was on HuffPost Live with Jamilah Lemiux and Elizabeth Plank.
I like to bake but when I write about baking men (exclusively) send me e-mails, telling me that I’m never going to lose weight if I make such things. That’s what happens when you choose to talk about food while fat. It’s fine. I mean, it’s not but whatever. Most of the time, I’m not even baking for myself but I should not need to qualify my life for anyone.
I understand nutrition, concerned men of the Internet.
I decided to bake cookies for my brother because he likes cookies and I like bossing him around so I thought the cookies would help with that. I combined room temperature butter, a cup of brown sugar and half a cup of white sugar.
What’s strange is that my heart catches when I see her name on my phone, or in my inbox, or on Twitter. I cycle through checking these various devices, craving these moments of connection, these points on the map. You are there. I am here. You are there. I am here.
I added a large quantity of vanilla and two eggs to the buttersugar.
We’re trying to figure this out, together and separately. We have similar and very different concerns. It’s hard to get this right when we’re not sure what it is or we are sure what it is and the surety of what this is is something that is terrifying and thrilling and too big and so unexpected. I did something careless that hurt her and I eventually realized I had done this hurtful thing and I had not done it intentionally but that doesn’t lessen the hurt and we were able to talk about it and it certainly won’t happen again because I made a decision that I was already wanting to make but regardless, it made me realize, this is real. This has long been real. This isn’t going away.
I don’t want it to go away. Ever.
Then I added flour, baking soda, and salt to the wet ingredients.
Ha ha wet ingredients. I am not mature.
I want in ways both grand and small, to show her how important she is, how much she matters, how special she is. At the same time, I don’t want to overwhelm. I want her to have the space she needs. It’s a delicate balance. I am not so delicate a woman. I am just me. For the first time in my life, though, I am okay with all of this, who I am, who I want to be with, the why of it all.
When all these ingredients were combined, I added some white chocolate chips and some semi-sweet chocolate chips and MIX MIX MIX!
My new oven is not a LIE OVEN. It bakes things at the proper temperature in the proper amount of time so that’s cool I guess.
Here are some weird things about my new apartment.
1. The ice tastes like dirt.
2. The hot water smells like sulfur so I basically take devil showers.
3. The intercom to ring my apartment rings into someone else’s apartment and that guy is PISSED.
4. The garage is full of spiders and grossness.
5. The building is haunted by the spirits of serial killers.
6. The elevator is paneled with wood and grime.
7. The property manager sent each tenant instructions on how we should clean our floors. I promptly threw that shit out.
8. The washer is awesome but the buttons are confusing and many.
She is adrift at sea without a compass, not knowing which way to go or how to get there. What I want to say is I am the shore, waiting, warm, a safe harbor, so much more. If you look, just so, you might see the edges of my land. This shore will always be here if she finds a way to reach it.
I love Bette Midler. I love her version of Shiver Me Timbers.
"Sometimes you get out on the sea and ya, in the middle of the night you know, and you can’t see your hand in front of your face. There’s a way to navigate, though, by the stars."