Announcement · Memoir

From “Revenge Savings” to “Breaking the Ties That Bind”

My parents, who split up before my first birthday, hated each other with a passion and disagreed on everything except on one matter of importance: that I should never have been born. My father told me that it would have been better for me. My mother told me that it would have been better for her. I believed them both. It is not that surprising, then, that, around the time of my sixteenth birthday, I became paralyzed and nearly died. I did go to the threshold where you can no longer return to your body, and I stayed there a while pondering my future. I understood that if I kept traveling farther from the hospital room in which I lay, however, my new life would be worse than if I returned to live on as the kid who should never have been born, so I grudgingly reintegrated my quarters. During my out of body trip, I also learned that I was supposed to figure out what I had come to do in life and do it, but I was clueless about how to proceed with my newfound mission.

I learned that both my parents were wrong: my life was not in error. I also learned that I was supposed to figure out what I had come to do in life and do it. At sixteen, however, I was clueless about how to proceed with my newfound mission. How was I going to learn how to want to remain alive long enough to figure out what I had come to do in life and do it? It would take over a decade to find the answer to my question. “Breaking the Ties That Bind,” my newest creative nonfiction story [Mothership — Talon Review Volume 2 Issue 6], explores that moment when an unexpected, horrifying confrontation with a transgenerational monster becomes the catalyst that allows me to envision the meaning of the rest of my life.

“Breaking the Ties That Bind” started its story life with fewer than three hundred words and was promptly rejected by a couple of magazines that publish short shorts. The story grew to a respectable 1,500 words, but I was still hesitant to send it out to publishers. The subject matter – fighting an intergenerational matrilineal monster – was taboo. But then again, I had already published “Revenge Savings” which is about another taboo subject in Tangled Locks Journal. Since Teresa Berkowitz, the publisher, had steadily boosted my confidence while helping me develop an online presence, I had learned to trust her editorial input. With the help of Teresa’s editorial feedback, “Breaking the Ties That Bind” found a permanent home in Mothership — Volume 3, Issue 6 of The Talon Review.

Much gratitude also to the editorial team at UNF’s The Talon Review. “Breaking the Ties That Bind” found its perfect home!

Announcement · Fiction

Women’s History Month, Bullies, and My Latest Publication

An acquaintance recently reached out to me, distraught. Her child kept getting bullied at school, so she had transferred the child to another school district. “But why should we be the ones who leave?” she asked, in tears, “instead of the bullies?” School officials had done what they could, at least, she explained, but the parents of the bullies didn’t seem to be genuinely sorry and even made excuses to explain away their children’s unacceptable behavior. “It’s like with Putin,” she continued, “nobody stopped him when he took Crimea, but now look at the horror that’s unfolding!”

We spoke of the discrepancies between the masks that people put in public and who they truly are once the masks come off. “I work in a very PR-savvy industry,” she confided. “They all wear blue and yellow, yet so many of them are real jerks!” I didn’t want to know names. “If you truly want to support Ukraine,” she continued, “then don’t just pretend to be a good person, be one.  Otherwise, you’re no better than the dictators and the bullies of the world!”

The theme of the destructiveness of deception is one that I’ve been working on through my writing. It is at play in my newest publication, “Looking for Mr. Goodbar Version 2022.” It is a 100-word story, and you can read it here Looking for Mr. Goodbar Version 2022, by Dominique Margolis – Friday Flash Fiction

“Looking for Mr. Goodbar” is the title of a book published by Judith Rossner in 1975 and adapted for film. The 1977 crime drama starred Diane Keaton, Richard Gere, and Tom Berenger. “Looking for Mr. Goodbar” is based on the true story of Roseann Quinn who was murdered in her late twenties by a man she brought home from a bar, and it served as a warning to women at the height of the sexual revolution in America.

In my 100-word story, however, the woman “disappeared” in the end. It is possible that the pregnant woman may still be alive. She may have left town to start life anew without Mr. Goodbar in it. Another possibility is that Mr. Goodbar’s sex addiction, compulsive dishonesty, and disregard for his pregnant wife’s needs may have killed her spirit.

In a future story, I will focus on the woman’s resurrection.

Announcement

Revenge Anthology and the Minimum Requirements for a Healthy Human Relationship

“Snapshots of Deception with Sunset,” my newest flash fiction piece, has just been published in Revenge, an anthology of short stories edited by Akshay Sonthalia. This new anthology was published by Poet’s Choice/Free Spirit Publishers based in Mumbai, India. More information about the anthology and how to purchase can be found on Goodreads

“Snapshots of Deception with Sunset” explores the themes of adultery, broken trust, and narcissism. The idea for the story came to me as I was watching one of Dr. Ramani Durvasula’svideos on YouTube. Dr. Ramani is a clinical psychologist and the author of two books on narcissism. She is also one of my favorite Youtubers.

When I watch Dr. Durvasula’s videos, I learn about what I did not learn from my parents and from my school and university years in both France and the United States. As the title of one of her books indicates, we need to know “how to stay sane in an era of narcissism, entitlement, and incivility.” To do that, we need to know how to treat ourselves well. 

How do we accomplish that when we did not receive any template for decent treatment? Too often, children of narcissisticparents learn how to navigate the world from their parents.

In schools, there is not enough focus on teaching children and adolescents about boundaries, about what toxic behavior is, and about how to walk away when people are treating you badly. Few people learn that “the minimum requirements for a healthy human relationship are respect, kindness, compassion, mutuality, self-awareness, and growth.”

Fortunately, we live in a time when we have access to free, top-notch information about how to cut the ties that bind us to a toxic past to create the future we were meant to live. I encourage anyone who struggles with toxic relationships to explore resources like Dr. Durvasula’s lectures.

Announcement · 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.