What's Your Experience With Swords?
Beyond the Book: Answering your burning questions.
Ok y’all, I’m still deep in book-writing final days and when I tell you that my brain is DONE - it is “white guy trying to cook a steak on a gas grill” done. There is no pink left. It is crispy burnt. It is devoid of any juices.
So, being in this state, and knowing that I’m way overdue for a newsletter, I turned to Instagram and requested that y’all send me questions - any questions - and I’d pick a few to answer. Y’all asked some very interesting ones. So let’s dive in shall we?
What’s your experience with swords? None. I have no experience with a sword that you wouldn’t give a four-year-old as s part of a halloween costume. I also have no desire for any hands-on experience with a real sword. When I was in middle school we had a softball unit in PE and when it was my time to be up at bat I not only completely missed the ball, I also managed to hit myself in the head, breaking my glasses - which my grandpa then soldered (is that the world for the melted metal?) together at the bridge making my welfare glasses look EVEN COOLER. Nobody should ever hand me a sword.
Craziest take on a food?! Um, I don’t have very wild opinions about food at all other than the fact that I hate most sandwiches. Either be bread, meat, or cheese. Don’t try to be all at once and don’t make me open my mouth so wide in order to eat. I don’t like it.
Did you enjoy Rihanna at the SB halftime show? I got variations of this question multiple times so I’ll answer: I didn’t watch. All I do is write this fucking book and also, if you read my last book (and you should, it’s very good) you know I’m not a big fan of football. Also, is this a time to admit that I vaguely know maybe three Rihanna songs? This is not a “I am so cool because I hate popular things moment.” In fact, I love Rihanna in that weird para-social way that we can love a celebrity. She absolutely changed the makeup game. She seems really cool! But I literally only had like one year of club life in my twenties and then it was over and forgot how to dance and became somebody who just tries to make people listen to Radiohead and Moses Sumney all the time. This is why nobody invites me to parties.
What is something you wish your readers knew about you? Um…that they don’t know me. I get it, I put a lot in my writing - especially here. And when you connect with someone’s words it’s easy to project yourself onto that person or some idealized version of what you imagine they would be onto them. But if you haven’t sat down with me and gotten to know me, you don’t know me. And it’s vital to my mental health and to the health of my real-life relationships that I hold a lot of myself back. Believe it or not, there is a lot in my life that you don’t see. None of it is very interesting, trust me, but it’s mine. And that’s a boundary that I find that some people think I don’t have a right to.
What makes you laugh? You give so much, would love to know what makes you smile. Aw, thanks for such kind words and a fun question to answer. My partner and my kids make me laugh all the time. I am legit married to a person who would do just about anything to make me laugh. I cannot think of a day in our 4+ years together that he hasn’t managed to make me laugh. He is uniquely dedicated to appreciating the joy of life, and dedicated to helping me see it as well. And my kiddos - they have very different senses of humor. My youngest’s sense of humor is quite dark and often very inappropriate (he’s 15) but he just catches us off-guard with the most wry comments. My older son loves a good dad joke, and he delivers them with such enthusiasm that you can’t help but laugh. He loves to call me the moment he hears a joke that he thinks will make me chuckle.
Have you or are you planning on writing about being mixed? This is an interesting question, and a request that I get quite often. It’s no secret that my mom is white. I’ve written about that multiple times, and our relationship gets a fair amount of time in So You Want To Talk About Race. I also wrote an essay about it, and how I feel about “mixed” identity in 400 Souls. But I don’t really have the desire to write more about it right now and I don’t know when, or if, I will.
I think that being mixed - especially having one Black and one white parent- is often fetishized in discussions on race in a way that can be very harmful. I have a lot of feelings about that, that I’d need to be much more clear on before I could responsibly write on it. I don’t think that “mixed” itself is really an identity - at least not for me personally. I know that my experience in life as a light-skinned, very visibly Black person raised by a white parent is very different from my friends who have, say, one Asian and one Hispanic parent, or someone of mixed race who is white presenting. I think that we all share a sense of “otherness” at times, and also likely share pain of trying to relate to family members who do not understand us or are plain-ole racist. But that shows up in a lot of other spaces as well, as with interracial adoptees, or people in interracial relationships. All this to say, I’m trying to figure out if there’s a place where writing about it further than I already have would be of use, and I haven’t found it yet.
What advice would you give a young, queer, Black trans kid trying to survive in this world? I'm not trans, but I am Black and queer, and I used to be young once, so I’ll do my best here. When I was young and feeling very alone in the world, someone told me that my world seemed small and my options limited right now, but every year that passed my world would become larger and my options more vast. My people were out there somewhere, waiting for me. I would say that now, as an adult, I’m so grateful every day to be born Black and queer, even in a world that seems to hate us - because there is no community more loving, more kind, more honest, more resourceful, more fierce, than the Black queer and trans community. It is waiting to wrap its arms around you and once it can, you will always have a home.
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I absolutely loved all of these answers!
Though I am far from your experiences, when I read about them I feel deep compassion and love for you. I'm 79 now and my life has been one long learning. Many of them have been sparked by horrible trauma, betrayal enough to bring me to my knees. I, too, have had people who lifted me up. I also have a close relationship with God, who has sent comfort and rest my way.
I know, that as a white woman I cannot relate to a life of racism. But, I can relate to being too tired to go on for a bit. And I can relate to heartbreak and pain. My heart goes out to you.