For half a year now, I have been suffering from often painful digestive health problems. I thought that perhaps I had done all the digestion I could do in one lifetime both physically and metaphorically speaking. And yet, to keep on living, I had to keep on digesting, so how would I do that?
One day, the thought occurred to me that I would need to split my digesting into two parts: the French part and the American part. My problem seemed more manageable that way. Here is what I would do: draw two circles in white chalk on a blackboard. The circle to the left would be smaller than the circle to the right because I only had about twenty years of French living versus thirty-five plus years of American living.
I drew the circles from left to right because I had learned to write from left to right and because I had assimilated the arbitrary construct that time traveled from left to right. I would digest my binational living from the oblong area where both circles intersected. With my piece of white chalk, I started highlighting that area of intersection so it would look like a cloud because I felt at ease on planes above clouds and, on land, I did some of my best thinking with no roof above my head.
Almost imperceptibly, I had become the French sixth grader who loved her math class. I barely took the time to notice the inkwells on the neatly arranged wooden desks from which my classmates and I watched our teacher draw shapes and circles and letters and numbers. I had walked up to the blackboard and started drawing my cloud inside the oblong area of the two intersecting circles that symbolized my life. The chalk dust made me sneeze.
My teacher, Monsieur Raoul, had stepped to the side and was waiting for me to finish. I did not get scared when he called me to the blackboard to solve a math problem, but now I was, and I froze. I was too close to the board. I could no longer see the circles for what they represented, and the cloud I was drawing seemed like a ridiculous thing to do in a math class. I was failing the exercise.
Somehow, I retreated forward to the present time, but outside of the larger circle that should have represented my American life. I was back on my couch in the suburbs of Los Angeles with a roof over my head and no clouds in sight. My two dogs were asleep next to me. It became suddenly clear that figuring out what was going on at the intersection of my binational life was a futile exercise, at least for now. Instead, I thought of focusing on the single thread that ran through all my splits at the seams: dogs. My love of my canine family members and their love for me will be the subject of a future post.
2021 was a good year for my published work. For now, I am trying to close the door to the year 2021 as elegantly and productively as I can. During the first week of 2022, I learned that a very short fiction piece I had written last year will be anthologized by Poets’ Choice, an Indian publisher based in Mumbai, but two of the stories I wrote last year are still looking for a home.
Because I have been unusually exhausted for the last few months, I feared that I may not have the energy to keep writing in 2022. That was a depressing thought. I needed help, but I did not know how to articulate the type of help I needed regarding the future of my writing. Thankfully, I did remember how empowering and joyful it had been to work with Teresa Berkowitz, the editor of Tangled Locks Journal, and I reached out to her.
In the fall of 2021, I had the especially good fortune to have my short memoir, “Revenge Savings,” published by Tangled Locks Journal. Teresa is extremely supportive of my writing so I sent her my 2021 unpublished fiction and creative nonfiction for developmental feedback. Tangled Locks Journal has launched services to support writers including developmental editing and promotion.
I have been lucky to study and work with gifted English professors, but Teresa is truly the best editor I have met for both fiction and creative nonfiction, and she also works at baffling speed. Best of all, Teresa once again boosted my confidence. Her detailed feedback is also allowing me to reflect on the type of writing I want to pursue next.
I am welcoming in 2022 with renewed energy and, health permitting, I will be writing a short memoir this year.