Time Travel is Real
an ordinary object in your house is a portal to the future
Last weekend I took a short trip to DC. The light in the hotel bathroom was a huge ring around the mirror. Ring lights make your eyes look like this:
It is so cool. (YouTubers have known this for as long as there have been YouTubers.) And while I have experienced the value of a ring light while broadcasting (see below for link to the last Pen Parentis Literary Salon), staring into this mirror with this uncanny light in my eyes made me feel like a little girl.
What is the different between looking in the mirror as a child and as an adult—and when does that change? Or does it?
Or maybe mirrors show us our future selves—?
That is certainly what I was seeking when I was little and staring at myself. How would I look in five years, ten? But the same thing on a smaller scale happened every time I got dressed up and took those last looks before going out: How would this hairstyle hold up at the restaurant after the date picked me up, or at the gala? How would this outfit appear under the fluorescent lights at the office? Would the childbearing remnants ever melt away or should I come to terms with this new shape and therefore self? (Let’s not go down this path, shall we?)
Even now, when I look at my face in a mirror I can hardly see what is there right now. In public, I am most certainly wearing a self image at least ten years old, if not twenty—I notice it when I catch a glimpse of the unfamiliar woman that heavy disappointments and eternal hope have forged.
When I stop to gaze more deeply these days, I’m wondering if the furrows will get more widespread, and whether I’ll have to learn to like myself again.
I’m looking, therefore, into the future.
It’s funny to me that I started this newsletter during pandemic to be able to keep in touch with everyone about my publications and since then I’ve spent an awful lot of time writing these posts instead of writing new stories.
I’ve still got that short story coming out in New Myths this September, of course.
But you will be happy to hear that I’ve been writing new short things to submit to various fee-free contests. I also submitted to the $7,000 de Groot Foundation Freedom to Write Grant and (because they are giving away a minimum of seven such grants) I warmly encourage you to submit to the grant as well! It’s a very easy application — they walk you through the whole thing, paragraph by paragraph. Check it out if you are over 18. That’s the only guideline!
I went to see my friend Emily Pulley’s performance in a world-premiere opera inspired by Eudora Welty’s Why I Live at the PO. Here’s the full text of the short story. The opera was excellent! Such a range of musical styles! Great talent. There were some brilliant casting choices including my friend as Sister because, well, she’s an outstanding singer and has the best comedic timing — personally, I enjoyed watching her fill her time on stage with “stage business.” It was always my favorite part of being an actor: the freedom of filling the time onstage when you have no lines in a way that is neither distracting nor out of character—yet if someone looks at you it should deepen their knowledge of your character. When I write fiction, I frequently give my characters “stage business” to do while they’re having a conversation or avoiding one….
Also saw Everything Everywhere All at Once, Dr Strange and the Multiverse of Madness, and the Nic Cage movie, The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent. (They’re all multiverse movies). All three are visually amazing.
If you’ve got time, you might enjoy the Season Closer of the Pen Parentis Literary Salons — on May 10th I was livecast with co-host Christina Chiu and the authors Sadeqa Johnson, Marie Myung-ok Lee, and Jacquelyn Mitchard. I do not know which of these authors impressed me the most. Playback is available on youtube.com/penparentis
Here’s a funny thing: on the night of the salon I woke up suddenly around 4am, laughing. This has never happened to me before. Screaming, crying, falling, clutching at nothing, talking, all of these yes—but never laughing.
Why don’t we wake up laughing more frequently?
I only wish I could remember what I was dreaming that was so funny.
If you’ve got time, check out this crazy video my brother sent me which animates the faces in Victorian photographs. (I recommend playback on double speed unless you are feeling up for a lava-lamp-style experience).
This would be such a neat thing to do with your oldest photographs of ancestors.
Oh, and while we’re killing time (you’ll get this pun in a minute), here’s something one of my brothers sent me. The irony/hypocrisy in this situation staggers the mind.