Sunday, August 7, 2011

What to Expect When You're Expecting (a Personal Essay to Hit)

So, last Saturday afternoon while I was hiking somewhere around 12,000 feet above sea level in the Colorado Rocky Mountains, my first ever published piece went live on

My poor sister Caity sprained her ankle on our way down the trail, so I ran down ahead of her to get the car and drive it to the upper trailhead to pick her up, and when I got back into service range, I checked my email and discovered I had dozens of new followers on Twitter. And that was how I found out it was up.

I'd had no idea it would go live that day, so it was a total surprise. After going six or seven miles in insanely high altitude I was running on fumes, so I was running on adrenaline and panic, but then a few minutes after I picked her up I realized I was a published author, and the rest of the day passed in kind of a blur. Yes, we went to the ER, and yes, Caity will be limping for a couple of weeks, but it was one of the best days I've ever had. And I'm so glad my sister was there to share it with me. 

I'd been so worried. Not so much about exposing myself, but about exposing my family. My mom, my dad, my aunts and uncles. So when the comments started rolling in, I didn't even care that some of them were pretty harsh. They were the least of my worries. But they were all over the map - from brutal and derisive to supportive and tremendously insightful. It was overwhelming but in a good way. (And highly entertaining.) I was genuinely touched by some of the comments and emails that came in. It felt good to know I'm not alone, and that some of us tolerate the demands of the corporate world better than others. Some people don't have a choice but to gut it out due to their financial and familial obligations, which fortunately is not a factor for me, but many sent me their best wishes for me to be able continue to make it work. And that's generous and cool, and it warmed my heart. 

But the real moments of truth were in the reactions from my family. I'd shown the piece to a few of my siblings, and each one had warned me that my parents might be upset that I had put so much out there about the family. But they were amazing. They loved it. It did, as my mom put it, "sting" at first, but mostly they were excited and proud.

But I knew blowback would come from somewhere, and it did. From my mom's sister, who was (is?) apparently deeply hurt by the way I characterized their family. I think mainly what she took exception to was being described as "round." To which my mother said:

"It takes all kinds of us to make the world go round, round ones are the group I fit into and she does too. Nothing wrong at owning that. We round ones seem to balance out the edgy ones like [my dad]." Damn straight!

My dad also threw in:

"Truth in literary circles is the capturing of what is often thought, but never so well expressed, however piercing it is to those involved. Those on that periphery read at their own peril."

So, crisis averted. I think my aunt will come around eventually, or at least I hope she will. I'm lucky, is all I can say. My family is cool. 



Posted via email from Jane Donuts is Starting Over


avb said...

From a fellow ambivalent loafer -- just wanted to say I loved the piece. And I'm thrilled to have discovered, via your blog, the Rumpus advice column!

Jane Donuts said...

Fantastic! Glad you liked it. Thanks for reading.

And yes, Sugar is the best. THE BEST.