On the night before your book launches

Men yell at you in emails about atheism

This morning, I woke up to emails from people who had read an excerpt of my book in The Guardian. My book is about religion in the Midwest. And okay, its memoir about my life and faith falling apart, but its also political. And so many of the emails were like, “HAVE YOU CONSIDERED BEING AN ATHEIST?!”

Wow, thanks, never heard of it, tell me more.

Or explaining to me what exactly the Bible means. My favorite was one that was very long and asked me if I had ever read the Bible.

Bitches, that shit is memorized.

I looked at those emails, deleted them and thought: Okay, we are doing this.

This is a small book (178 pages), from a small press. At this point, I’ve exceeded expectations. But it still doesn’t feel like enough. I want to be honest with you. Last week I was on vacation and the whole time, I thought, “WHAT HAVE I WRITTEN LATELY!?” The answer of course, is A FUCKING BOOK, YOU IDIOT!?

But do you ever do that thing where you just need to do more and more. I want to do more. I think this is okay. Ambition is okay. No, it’s great. But how, as a woman do you speak it? Do you live it?

I took a phone call on vacation with my kids. I took that trip with my kids last week as a time to focus on them before things got crazy, but one afternoon we were sitting in the AC watching Sponge Bob and the phone rang. I have a rule: Always answer your phone, unless it’s my mom. (Just kidding, Ellen!) But seriously, answer your phone, you don’t know who it will be.

So I answered and it was a story calling. And I am very excited about it. I’ll tell you more on a later date.

But it made me feel weird. Like here I was, supposed to be enjoying my kids (and I was, dear reader, they are weird little weirdos and I adore them), but I had the adrenaline rush of a story. And I thought two things: I love what I do. I love my kids. I want to work.

So I went for it. Doing interviews on the floor of the hotel room. Sending emails from the pool.

So much of my work and life is like this. There is no separation. I write and hand out snacks. I cook and take phone calls. Men believe in great ideas of the lofty separation of life and art, women live in the dissonance of sticky floors and 30 minutes to write in the school pick up lane.

So many of the essays and stories I’ve written have been at the dining room table, while my kids fought in the other room. Or finished while I shouted, “TWO MORE MINUTES!” and they ate contraband cheetos, that I pretended I didn’t know about, but oh, I knew.

Life is never one thing or another. Joy pain. Celebration stress. It’s always all together. A chowder of emotions. A curry of emotions. A paella of emotions. (I’m hungry.) And I think as women, we contain it all. I grew up being told men can compartmentalize better, but I wonder if that’s not just a privilege? Like they don’t have to contain the universe in them, so they don’t. (Don’t, #NotAllMen me, I am sure you do, but you don’t express it as often because of how patriarchy fucks us up, so fight it, okay? Don’t fight me, fight the SYSTEM!)

Life isn’t easy and I don’t want it to be. I hate yoga. I don’t like peace. I thrive in this chaos. But tonight, I am drinking champagne sent by a friend who is a BEST-SELLING AUTHOR (omg!), and I had a small book party, and then drinks after with someone who is lovely and a friend. And we shouted and yelled and were so happy. I am also behind on assignments. I feel overwhelmed and stressed out. I actually pre-apologized to people. Like pre-gaming, but for feelings. And was told that was not a thing.

But it is where I come from, and anyway, whatever happens thank you for being on this email list. I don’t know why you are here, and I don’t know who raised you to think this was okay, but I’m happy we are doing this.

Okay, I’m a Sagittarius so that’s fucking enough of these feelings.

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