Truth. Justice. Elegant prose.
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I have reached an age where I’m called upon to write obituaries for friends. How lucky I was to work with the great Donna Diers. From Yale Alumni Magazine.
About cancer, white privilege and dancing stoned. In Gawker.
Essay in Unruly Catholic Women Writers, Vol. 2. In press, New York University
Short stories in horror anthology. In press, The Apocryphile Press
It’s my website so I get to say …
Our Ability to Survive Ourselves
When Amanda Berry was literally kicking and screaming her way to freedom, I was working on a piece about solitary confinement. As details emerged about the horrific conditions that Berry and two other women endured in the Cleveland home where they’d been held for a decade, it was not the kidnapper whose behavior amazed me. It was Berry’s. I knew that being that isolated and that controlled for that long should have rendered her incapable to seizing an opportunity to escape — incapable of even recognizing the possibility of escape. It did not.
The freedom of the Cleveland women came shortly after Elizabeth Smart blamed the emphasis her Mormon culture put on virginity for a hesitation to escape from the man who kidnapped her at knifepoint and repeatedly raped her for nine months. “Why would it even be worth screaming out? Why would it even [have] made a difference? Your life already has no value,” Smart said at a Johns Hopkins conference on sex trafficking. Again, it is the victim’s behavior that fascinates me. Smart is speaking out in ways that are bound to make many people in her own circle uncomfortable and that continue to draw attention to what some perceive as her shame. She’s doing it so that other victims won’t bear the same burden of shame. That would make her worthy of one of the most overused titles in our language — hero.
And finally there’s Reshma Begum, a seamstress at the Bangladesh factory that collapsed on April 24. After 17 days trapped in the rubble, Begum was rescued when she banged on a pipe and called out to salvage workers, who had long since give up hope of finding anyone alive. Her survival is improbable, to say the least. Begum is also a victim of crime, the crime of sending workers into unsafe conditions, a crime in which we are often unwitting accomplices when go shopping. Strong and resourceful, she managed to emerge whole when a global injustice came crashing down on her.
These stories are linked for me because they are all about the unspeakable things we human beings do to each other. They are also about our tremendous resilience, our ability to survive even ourselves. I spend a lot of time writing about what’s wrong with the world, and there is no shortage of material. But there are also Amanda Berry, Elizabeth Smart and Reshma Begum. They give me hope for my species. 5.2.13 » things I said
Let me draw you a picture. Some people still have a hard time wrapping their minds around climate change and global poverty. Here’s a handy interactive graphic that just might make it clear.» great old stuff