Hi Toasties, how are you this Friday afternoon? I have just acquired three new books, lots of good beer, and a shoe cabinet the size of Rhode Island, so I cannot complain. Now when people come over to my house and take off their shoes (even after I tell them they are welcome to leave them on, it’s just that I refuse to wear shoes in my own house) we won’t have to socialize while staring at a big pile of our discarded footwear. You just need to believe and trust that this is an important step in my evolution as a host.
I don’t mind telling you that it was an especially great week for writing at The Toast and I wanted to include EVERYTHING in Toast Points. But that would have taken too long, and I like to stop working as early as possible on Friday afternoons so I can start my weekend eating early (today I have fresh-baked cookies! Sadly not these ones, though). Here are some highlights from our week together:
Tasbeeh Herwees, “Grief in the Diaspora”:
A phone call in the middle of the night is not always a harbinger of bad news. Sometimes it’s a misdial. Sometimes it’s a miscalculation of the time difference. Still, when it rings at 3 AM, you are shocked awake, and your mind can only react with panic. My mother again answered the call. My mother again gently roused me from my sleep, her body filling the frame of my door and her face again shining with sorrow.
Your grandmother passed away, she said, standing in the doorway. Your father’s mother is gone. Time shifts briefly to accommodate for decades of diasporic longing and
And then: We have to clean. The guests will arrive soon.
Benjamin Dreyer, copy chief at Random House, gave us this delightful reflection on copyediting his favorite-of-all-time, the inimitable Shirley Jackson.
Our own Ella Risbridger, Miss Ellabell, on her boyfriend’s diagnosis with a rare and difficult to treat form of blood cancer and what their lives are like now:
We were very happy, although there had been, lately, something uneasy there, some shadow at the edge of my mind. I suspected privately that I needed to return to therapy: I suspected that I was succumbing to a kind of paranoia, a particular and peculiar kind of paranoia that centred on my boyfriend, who was the centre of my world. I remembered vividly that a psychiatrist had once written “She deeply fears losing her boyfriend, with whom she has created an ideal home life”, and I thought that this was true, and I thought that this was the reason I believed (fully and entirely) that my boyfriend had cancer of the blood.
As it turned out, the reason I believed this was because he did. He did have cancer of the blood: a rare cancer of the blood, that begins at Stage IV, and that Wikipedia notes, gravely, as “generally incurable”. His oncologist tells me this is not necessarily true, but that it is so rare that he cannot tell us anything else.
“I don’t care enough to subtweet you, but I would favorite someone else’s subtweet about you if I was bored and casually watching TV while scrolling through my timeline” and other Very Specific Burns
Jaya on the unwelcome comments people make about her name.
“Stay here and read my take on the The Thing, which is very important. My take, that is.”
Mindy Hung, The Toast’s intrepid Romance Writers of America meeting correspondent, met fellow romance writer and Toastie Melanie Greene at the conference, and I’m working on getting over the fact that neither of them took a picture for us to praise and delight in.
Kaylen Sanders wrote beautifully about growing into her racial identity and the challenges of being “the token black girl in a white slice of suburbia”:
I took a step out of my mind and, for the first time, saw myself as the world did. Zora Neale Hurston’s words stamped themselves across my soul: “I do not always feel colored…I feel most colored when I am thrown against a sharp white background.” To the white world, I was the black girl, and that designation came with a fixed mold that I sometimes fit into and sometimes didn’t. But whether I fit the mold or not, I would always fit the color.
I found myself uncomfortable in this new place, this identity that scratched against my spirit like wool. I didn’t know how to be black after spending so much time imagining myself as anything but. While my white friends colloquially tried on the n-word like a new shade of nail polish, I kept it out of my mouth on a shelf that I wasn’t sure I’d ever be able to reach. My friends were too white to know the burden, whereas I wasn’t sure I was black enough to carry it.
“If Julian of Norwich were your professor, you would ask her what would be on the final, and she would reply, ‘All manner of things shall be on the exam.'”
My dad’s surgery was today. We’re three time zones apart and I’ve been waiting for news all day. Earlier this week, my eldest child made him a card that began, Dear Grandpa, I am sorry to hear you have cancer! What does it feel like? She wrote this because I’ve got things to do, I do not supervise her letter-writing. I decided to go ahead and send it to him because I thought it would make him laugh, and it did. He said, “Tell her that it feels like you ate too many worms.” When she heard this she laughed, too. In some ways, they really are two peas in a pod.
I went to my daughter’s “mythical creatures” art show today so now you get to look at some arts. Here is a pegasus:
and here is a portrait of Artemis, goddess of the hunt
and here is a mythical creature known as Tweedolphin (invented by my daughter) who ‘was born half dolphin half duck, because his mom was a dolphin and his dad was a duck’:
Have a lovely weekend, friends.
Nicole Chung is the Managing Editor of The Toast.