The Big Lie about Big Little Lies

big little lies bookThe first thing that caught my attention was The Mom. That Mom. We all know her. She would never admit that her mean-girl daughter ever did anything wrong, but sometimes she pretended she did only to feign (for the rest of us) that some sort of discipline was taking place in their home, which we were all absolutely certain it wasn’t. She had that same child tested for gifted programs after she used one fancy word properly one time at dinner. She signed the girl up for piano lessons and ballet and French and soccer, then whined about the child’s teachers giving her too much homework. Yet she intentionally put her in the best classes at the best school with all the best teachers, teachers who were (dare we say) kinda tough and didn’t scale grades. And That Mom drove all the rest of us insane when she pretended to be annoyed while she whined and rolled her eyes at how demanding her child’s friends’ six-birthday-parties-this-month! were going to be on their already-busy lives.

Wait.

Am I talking about this book or I am I talking about my own life?

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Sojourner

Judge Melvin posing with her motorcycle. PC: lauramelvin.com

We are both divorced mothers of a single, beloved son and I think we both would admit that while not many things can make us come undone with pride and love, our all-grown-up baby boys certainly rank at the tip-top.

We are both at the stage in our lives where the ‘hard stuff’ is mostly behind us, and we are both searching for our new place in the world. We’ve both seen that, yes, it’s scary out there when you’re by yourself, but it’s also pretty exciting.

We are both too independent for the traditional expectations of who and what we are supposed to be anymore, and many people don’t know and will never know who we really are on the inside. Sojourners (people who don’t like to stay in one place for too long) are like that. Read more

Sex and Economics

PC: Instagram @thepetitereader

In 1991, I was forced to enroll in your typical, freshmen-level Economics-101 class at Minot State University in North Dakota. It was utterly coma-inducing to be honest, like you probably think this blog post is going to be after seeing the word Economics in the title, but stay with me for a minute.

Knowing that only a small fraction of the 80 or so students in the class would ever need an in-depth knowledge of supply and demand curves, the professor offered us an alternative assignment: Read “Atlas Shrugged” by Ayn Rand and complete a 2000-word essay on what we learned. Anything we learned. However we interpreted it, let it be known that we gleaned something inspiring from the mammoth 1000-page novel. So thinking it was the easier option, I read it as a teenager and predictably wrote my paper on the value of capitalism. It was a snoozer.

I’ve since traversed through my 44 years never needing to know too terribly much about surpluses and shortages, just as my professor predicted. This past year, I found myself teaching Economics to my 12th graders and believe me when I tell you, it’s a class that’s still coma-inducing, so I made them the same offer: read Atlas Shrugged and tell me what you get out of it. I also decided to give the book another run-through myself just so I could be prepared to answer their questions.

It was like I was reading an entirely different novel! All the capitalism/socialism stuff remained familiar but there were new ideas in there about sex and the relationships between men and women that I couldn’t have or wouldn’t have appreciated when I was 19 years old. Ayn Rand, a woman whose fame comes entirely from her Objectivism philosophy and her knowledge of the path of the American economy, also incorporated an INCREDIBLE understanding of the sexual tendencies in men and women. I couldn’t believe it! Please read on! Read more

O Captain! My Captain!

Gone With the Wind, 1939, Warner Brothers. Pictured: Olivia de Havilland.

One random topic of conversation always seems to lead strangely into another in the American History classes I am lucky enough to teach each year. I often find myself horribly off-subject as my almost-adult students and I slowly get to know one another and this week was no exception. Admiring from a safe distance how one of my female students boldly spoke up for another in a small spat of gossip, I commented to the young lady that she reminded me of Melanie Hamilton. The girl curled up her face as if I’d insulted her, although I was pleased that she even knew who I was talking about in the first place!

But, she has no backbone, right?” 

I laughed and explained that, in fact, Melanie Hamilton had quite the backbone and more courage and righteousness than any other character in literature, or in movies, or on television, that I could think of.

“She takes up for everyone,” I explained, “even people who have wronged her.  She always looks for the good in others and she forgives effortlessly.  She is even-tempered and never gets angry and she’s always wise to the situation and ready to offer a solid piece of advice.” 

In my opinion, it was a high compliment to be compared to Miss Hamilton, and as I heard myself explaining what it is that I love about this timeless Gone With the Wind character, the patron saint of goodness from antebellum Atlanta, I made a note to myself to try harder to be more like her. Read more

Reflections of a Former Bookseller

Photo Credit: Instagram @coffeeeyesandblankstares.

I visited one of my absolute favorite places today, Barnes and Noble. I was looking for a blogging planner which they did not have, yet I still managed to leave with $50.00 worth of stuff I just couldn’t live without.

Each time I walk through those heavy wooden doors, the smell of paper and leather filling my nose, I am overwhelmed with happiness. See, two years ago I decided to check this place off my bucket list and get a Christmas-season job there. I had the time off from work, and I thought the extra money would be helpful for my holiday spending (be assured, there was no extra money). B&N was just one of those places I always thought would be an amazing place to work, and it was. Read more

Towanda! My Favorite Female Authors

Photo Credit: Instagram @samanthagrander.

Southern women writing about the Southern things that all Southerners understand. Southern characters who bring memories and scents and nostalgia flooding to the surface of our recollections. What more can a person hope for, being a reader, than to be taken somewhere we’ve already been before, a place we know and remember fondly? To return to a time and place when something so wonderful happened, with people we don’t think about nearly enough…well that’s what makes a really good book.

I am partial to Southern female writers, but the authors I admire come from all over, and I am a better writer myself having read about places in America that I’m not familiar with. When I reflect on the kinds of books I love the most and the writers I most admire, I have worked it out quite simply… Read more

The Three Books That Made Me Want to Be a Writer

So these are my favorite books, ever. If you are receptive to sincere recommendations, pick one of these. You won’t regret it.

writer-little-altars-everywhereLittle Altars Everywhere by Rebecca Wells (home state: Louisiana!) is THE short story that made me want to be a writer. When Wiletta recalled the night Vivi beat her children with a belt, I found myself hurling (hurling!!!) the book across the room because I couldn’t imagine bearing that kind of guilt. “Sweet Jesus, I seen they whole lives in front of them, how they would be when they was grown. I seen it all just by lookin at them….and it froze my blood.” That’s what a good book does…it affects you visibly, emotionally, and psychologically. As a writer myself, the best I can hope to do is simply write something that makes someone say, “Wow, she’s been through the same thing I have.” This, my friends, is the book that inspired that little voice in my head to say, “You need to tell your story too, Dawn,” and that story became my first book.  You’ve likely heard of Wells’ other, more famous work, Divine Secrets of the Yaya Sisterhood, and it is also a favorite, but make no mistake, Altars changed me. Read more