Conference Envy: A Survival Guide

Sad Web SurfingYesterday I was running around the park in a T-shirt with a birthday party full of seven-year-olds. Today, I walked downtown through a flurry of hard, tiny pellets of snow that I couldn’t escape from. It was a little like the experience of going to bed a happy, underpaid writer and waking up the next day as a miserable, underpaid writer who is staying home while everyone else you know is traveling to a conference.

No matter where you look online, you’re getting smacked in the face with these niggling little reminders that you’re here dealing with laundry and kids and deadlines and your friends are off brown-nosing editors and eating dinner in absurdly large groups and developing inside jokes and memories that you’re going to be outside of the next time you get together.

You can complain to and commiserate with the three or four other people you know who aren’t at the conference, but you’re aware that it’s petty and fruitless, so you stop after a few hours and just try to avoid the Interwebs for a few days—which means that, no, you didn’t see that video of Trump as Lex Luthor or whatever it was. [Read more…]

A Good Fight: Deux Jours, Une Nuit (Two Days, One Night)

Two_days,_one_nightIf a pair of writer/directors exists that can rival Joel and Ethan Coen for a body of work with profound depictions of humanity, it is another set of brothers. The films of the Dardennes, Jean-Pierre and Luc, have consistently been among the best of modern offerings and were a main feature in an essay I wrote on European film for Image a few years back (“Portraits of the Sonata: Desire and Transformation in Modern European Cinema,” No. 61, Spring 2009).

La PromesseL’Enfant, and especially Le Fils, match any expectations one could have with regard to artistic portrayals of humanity’s struggle for decency and dignity, and one of the Dardennes’ latest works, Deux Jours, Une Nuit (Two Days, One Night) proves that their touch has not waned in the thirty-odd years they’ve written and directed for the screen.

The film features the magnificent Marion Cotillard. In an Oscar-nominated performance, she plays Sandra, a Belgian mother of two children who has just learned that while she was absent, her employer offered her co-workers a choice: they could either have a one thousand euro bonus, or Sandra could keep her job. [Read more…]

In the Marrow of Depression and Anxiety

8025692978_ddec2400e8_mBy the time you read this, I’ll be feeling much better. Therapy will have commenced, medications will have been adjusted, and clinging to the One who clings to the brokenhearted will have kept me affixed to a drip line of peace.

I can say this with some confidence, for it’s not my first time off the high dive. An episode with postpartum depression knocked me out in the spring of 2005. A thyroidectomy, and the resulting difficulty with getting my levels adjusted, incapacitated me in 2011. Today, I’m not entirely sure what’s going on. Hormones seem to be fluctuating. Obsessive thoughts have sparked actual conflicts, causing more anxiety and guilt. Constantly trying to “hold my thoughts captive” has depleted my energies and now sunk me into a depressive state. [Read more…]

Sugar, Sugar, Part 2: May 8, 2015

Continued from yesterday

2629206224_7d8554b1d8_mWhen the editors of Good Letters first asked if they could rerun my 2011 post on my sugar addiction, which was posted yesterday, I couldn’t even bring myself to read the old post before saying no. I felt too weird and vulnerable about what I’d written and preferred that it stay buried in the archives. So I wrote other stuff, until I found myself coming back around to this topic in my life. Addictions don’t tend to go away. They are either active or in remission, rarely cured.

A new twist for me: Weeks after I wrote that original post, I had some medical tests done and got a new diagnosis and learned that in fact I’m a type one diabetic, not type two as originally pegged. Type one is an autoimmune disease and typically has an onset in childhood or adolescence, but it can also hit people much later in life, as it did me. Once properly diagnosed, I got some basic training on how to calculate and inject insulin and was on my way. [Read more…]

Sugar, Sugar, Part 1: June 10, 2011

1374816661_c4e7e255fb_mI’ve written before about my father’s alcoholism. From my adolescence until his death, I spent a lot of time and energy being angry with him, and letting myself be hurt by him. At the core of my anger and hurt was the belief that he was consciously and willingly choosing alcohol over everything else—our family, his work, his passion for life and music. Dignity, peace, joy. Me.

Instead, he chose getting drunk, getting sick, losing everything good. I couldn’t understand this, or forgive it. At his death, our relationship was virtually non-existent. Watching him struggling for breath in the end, and looking so ravaged at a relatively young age, some part of me kept thinking, perplexed, You chose this.

I have an eating disorder. My struggles with it now are much less intense than they were, but the disorder isn’t vanquished. Years ago, in my efforts to figure out my behavior, I read up on the idea of sugar addiction, and decided that the word “addiction” aptly described my behavior with sugar throughout my life. [Read more…]


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