I “missed” Father’s Day last Sunday, in that I didn’t realize it was occurring, so it was a bit jarring when friends started sending me texts asking if I was okay.
My father died in 2019, which feels like so long ago and also so very not long ago. The grief comes in flares now, unlike the great rolling waves of bricks that used to grind me to dust.
And yet, as with anything, as soon as we stop to notice, we begin to feel it more fully. Writing about my dad makes me cry about my dad.
Perhaps that’s why we stop noticing. Perhaps it’s easier most days to live with a subdued awareness. Otherwise, how would we go on?
As Sarah Manguso wrote in Ongoingness: The End of a Diary:
“Today was very full, but the problem isn't today. It's tomorrow. I'd be able to recover from today if it weren't for tomorrow. There should be extra days, buffer days, between real days.”
While I recover from a day that’s already a week behind us, here’s one of my favorite memories of my father:
My first book — The Lesbian Sex Haiku Book (with Cats!) — had just come out, and my father bought 15 copies, which is such a dad move.
He then took several of these copies to bookstores around Tucson, AZ (where I grew up) and asked booksellers to display it prominently.
AND SOMEHOW HE SUCCEEDED. There was a Barnes and Noble in the foothills that had my book on it for a short time.
So, if you’ve never known love, it is this: a 65-year-old straight man pitching lesbian poetry to bookstores in a very conservative state.
I thanked him in the Acknowledgments of Transgressions, which felt very weird at first — who dedicates erotica to their parent?! — but he was always incredibly supportive of my writing, no matter how taboo or strange or niche.
And that is a gift not many people have. I recognize it, as I recognize the varied and complicated relationships most of us have with our parents.
Book stuff: Transgressions got a coveted orange sticker that says: #1 Bestseller in Lesbian Erotica. I’m thrilled! And thankful.
Plus, the book’s still just $0.99, but only until June 30! Get it for cheap now before it goes back to… well, still pretty cheap, $3.99.
Advice stuff: A teenager struggling with pedophilia and the other teen who loves him. The real “trick” to getting closure. Plus, how to know if you’re ready for a relationship, a bizarre bachelor party request, and many more dating and sex conundrums here.
Vice stuff: A beginner’s guide to group sex and swinging.
Fun with Canva: Been making some pull-quotes from Transgressions. Do you have favorite quotes from the collection? Let me know and I’ll make them pretty and give you a shoutout on social media.
A little something
Tech tip: If you’re looking for a free online photo editor that does many of the things PhotoShop does, try Photopea.
Yes you can…nabis: One of my best buds works for Get Sava, a rad women-, Latinx-, and LGBTQ-owned cannabis delivery service in the Bay Area. Enter the code YesYouCanna to get $20 off your first purchase as a new customer. (All puns intended)
Self-care: Esther Perel has an interesting blog post on why we should add eros (sensuality, really) to our self-care regimen.
Writing: Try a dangerous writing prompt.
Currently reading: Stamped from the Beginning by Ibram X. Kendi, an extremely thorough history of racist ideas in America. It’s heavy, (literally and emotionally), but the truth often is.
My favorite parts are, perhaps unsurprisingly, the ways literature has helped spawn social change, like Phillis Wheatley’s Poems on Various Subjects in 1773, which catalyzed the antislavery movement. Her poetry, the first to be published by an African-American woman (while she was enslaved, no less!), also led to her freedom.
Her poetry freed her. I loved that.
Also reading: Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon, a YA love story with a kind of Grey’s Anatomy urgency to it — sweet and dark and twisty.
Video: Anthony Bourdain’s mom suggested he do an audacious thing, and he did and this led to his big break. He was 44 years old.
Speaking of audacious, here are a few writing opps you should consider applying for, especially if the idea makes you squirmy.
Richard J. Margolis Award / Eligibility: Nonfiction writers of social justice journalism / Prize: $5,000 + one-month residency / Deadline: July 1, 2021
Barbara Mandigo Kelly Peace Poetry Awards / Eligibility: All writers / Prize: $1,000 / Entry fee: $15 / Deadline: July 1, 2021
Bellevue Literary Review Prizes / Eligibility: All writers / Prize: $1,000 + publication / Entry fee: $20 / Deadline: July 15, 2021
Robert and Adele Schiff Awards / Eligibility: All writers / Prize: $1,000 + publication / Entry fee: $20 / Deadline: July 15, 2021
Craft Magazine / first 5,000 words contest for Novel Writers / Prize: $2,000 + novel critique / Deadline: June 30
Voyage First Chapters Contest / YA writers / Prize: $3,500 / Deadline: July 18
The Epiphany Fresh Voices Fellowship / Yearlong fellowship supporting one emerging Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian, or other writer of color who does not have an MFA and is not currently enrolled in a degree-granting creative writing program / Due July 1st, 2021
The Deborah Tall Lyric Essay Book Prize / Lyric Essays, Hybrid, Cross-Genre, Verse Forms, Visual Work, Beyond Category / Prize: $2,000 + Reading at Hobart & William Smith Colleges / Entry fee: $27 / Due: August 1
Thanks for reading!