Announcement · English · Fiction · Memoir

A Toast to Digestive Health and to a Fantastic Editor

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.

Announcement · English · Fiction

“Luz and Corazón” published by Pensive

My poetic short story, “Luz and Corazón,” is now available online in Issue 3 of Pensive: A Global Journal of Spirituality & the Arts.

Northeastern University’s Center for Spirituality, Dialogue, and Service hosted a launch party at 7 p.m. ET. A trip from Los Angeles to Boston would not have been feasible, so I am grateful to have been able to attend via Zoom.

Co-editors Alexander Levering-Kern and Jayla Tillison introduced the event, and Alexander asked that we observe a moment of silence and that we send our love to our fellow beings across the planet. At that moment, I closed my eyes and traveled back in time to when I was sitting at one of the small wooden desks popular in 1990s university classrooms.

The air smelled like when professors were still using chalk on blackboards, and I was sitting, listening to, and observing Willard Johnson, my Religious Studies professor at San Diego State University. He was a type of human being that I had not yet encountered. He had a Ph.D. in Sanskrit, he meditated, he personally knew and invited as guest lecturers many Native American authors, he was himself a prolific author, and I could palpably sense that he truly saw me. His way of seeing me projected me onto a future in which I sensed that I could belong.

At the time, what Professor Johnson talked about in his classes was highly mysterious to me. My English skills still left much to be desired, and the subject matters he was introducing me to were completely foreign to a French girl educated in France where religious studies was not an academic discipline. And yet, by the time I signed up for my first class with Professor Johnson, I had already undergone two near-death experiences, and I was about to drop out of an American University system that, just like the French university system, had provided no answers to my need to understand why I had been born and what I was supposed to do with my life.

Even though Religious Studies was not my major, Professor Johnson became my thesis advisor. More than that, he left a lifelong imprint on my development as a human being. His book Riding the Ox Home: A History of Meditation from Shamanism to Science, is the book I would take with me on a deserted island. How I wish that Professor Johnson were still alive today!

I dedicate “Luz and Corazón” to him.

Announcement · English

My publishing journey and my new website.

This is it! My author’s website is live! Many thanks to Teresa Berkowitz from Third Sector Consultants for creating my online space and for graciously providing her time, talent, and skills!

A year ago, writing for publication was not on my mind, and yet, during the winter of 2020/2021, a strange sensation came over me. Stories whose themes I’d mostly kept to myself started to take a life of their own. They no longer wanted to live in hiding. Many even took the form of young children and small animals. I had to make them happy, to set them free, and that’s why I decided to start writing for publication.

So far this year, eight of my stories have been published and will be forthcoming in magazines such as Tangled Locks Journal, Pensive: A Global Journal of Spirituality and the Arts, and the Dillydoun Review. Currently, I am working on a memoir whose themes are anchored to a near-death experience at sixteen.

Thank you for visiting!