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The Color Purple

I read Alice Walker’s novel The Color Purple when I was about fourteen, probably too young to understand its full complexity. All I understood was that the world conspired against Celie–and at fourteen, that’s sort of how the world felt to me, too. With each re-reading of the novel, I saw more: the way that the form–an epistolary novel–drew on centuries of (white, European) literary tradition and challenged it at …

parenting will make you nuts, but it’s not as bad as READING about parenting

…and when did “parenting” become a verb, anyway?  Time was, back in the day, a parent was a noun, and what you did was “raise” kids or “try not to drown” kids or “don’t lose the kids in the mall.”  But those were simpler times, I guess. Probably–if you’re a parent–you have seen (but not yet had time to read because: parent) the spoof in The New Yorker that says …

Birthday War Games

For a long time, when my kids were little, I refused to outsource the birthday party: I made a cake, invited the kids over, maybe used the “community space” in our building for games of some kind or another.  The year that Liam turned four, when Caleb was still less than three months old, I decided it would be a good idea to host Liam’s entire nursery-school class (about 17 …

in which I share a cup with Gwyneth Paltrow

I have a Very Big Birthday coming up in  two months.  REALLY BIG. As if to celebrate that fact, my body has started to disintegrate. I have this twingey thing in my knee, and then there’s that little hitch in my hip, and my neck sounds like there are cornflakes in it. Plus I have a shoulder thing.  I don’t know if years of waitressing, back in the twentieth century, …

in which I experience an epic parenting fail

So Liam has been walking around the last few days humming and singing “here comes the sun,” which I think of as one of the all-time great songs. I say to him, “wow, I love that song; I didn’t know you liked The Beatles.” He looks at me, horrified. “I don’t. It’s from “Glee,” with Demi Lovato.” Me, equally horrified, “Demi Lovato? Singing The Beatles?” Liam, speaking as if to …