I haven't updated this blog in a while, mostly because I was saving my next post for a big announcement that my agent was able to sell my Japan memoir after the success of my Salon.com and NYT essays--but that never happened. Now that I work in publishing, I understand how foolish it would be to take the many rejections I got from houses personally: I am a nobody who wrote a book about a subject no one is talking about, and that is a bad investment on their part. But personally, the years I spent working on that book were one of the better investments of my life. I got the king of bylines, I got the agent, I got a shit-ton of rejections, and I learned they would not deter me--and I had the opportunity to interact with people all over the world about subjects that are dear to my heart. Oh, and I also learned a lot about proper comma usage and did some stellar research on Japan. And I documented one of the most poignant times in my life for my children to maybe read one day. So there's that.
Am I still writing? Fuck yeah, I'm still writing. But not under this name, so this blog is going dormant for the moment. I will leave it up, because even now, two years after the New York Times piece, women still contact me about their own experiences with miscarriage, and I'm always game to talk about that. (The CONTACT ME button still works!) But if you've stumbled across this website because you're a Russian bot, just know that no one is home right now.
To those of you who were cheering for me, thank you. It means more to me than you'll ever know.
"Let us imagine for a moment that Aziz Ansari isn’t a predator but a sexual enthusiast trying to persuade this “Grace” to enjoy with him one of his favorite pastimes: would she like to do him on the bed? If not, then would she like to give him head?"
Thoughts on date-night consent and the #metoo movement over on Medium.
I saw a beautiful Instagram post on the Internet this weekend, wherein this extremely woke man, Robbie Tripp, praised his beautiful wife for having a body while congratulating his heart for finding that beautiful.
I was so touched by his devotion that I felt the need to pay tribute to my own boyfriend, whom I love passionately despite his being as obnoxious to be with as he is abhorrent to look at.
As a teenager, I was often teased by my friends for my attraction to boys with weak chins and receding hairlines, ones who were harrier and more pot-bellied, dudes that the average (basic) girl might refer to as “ugly” or “vomitus” or even “I think I saw that guy on America’s Most Wanted.” Then, as I became a woman and started to educate myself on issues such as hair conditioning and subatomic particle theory, I realized how the media glamorizes men by portraying them as being infinitely smarter and more powerful than women—and that’s just not the case. Take my boyfriend: he’s the weakest, stupidest P.O.S. to walk the earth. He can’t even do laundry or quote Chaucer. He doesn’t even know a single feminist writer: that’s how worthless he is.
But I love him! Oh, how I love him. For me, there’s nothing sexier than this overweight doofus with back hair right here: he’s got arms, legs, a face—all of it. His horrifying underbite might not be featured on the cover of GQ, but it’s the one featured in my life and in my heart. So what if he barely fills out two inches of his tighty whities? So what?
So many women think they need to fall in love with someone for a variety of reasons not pertaining to hair luster or penis size, and I’m telling you that’s not the case. Gals, rethink what society has told you to desire: a real man is not a male stripper or a postal worker or a Ford Taurus or a koala bear. He’s real. He has teeth sometimes, and ears, and fingers and toes, and beautiful stretch marks on his fifth nipple. A real man doesn’t have to treat you nice or be smart: he just has to tolerate you and maybe sometimes notice when you walk into a room.
Men, don’t ever fool yourself by thinking you have to fit a certain mold to be loved and appreciated. You don’t. There’s a woman out there who’s going to put up with your disgusting visage and your lazy heart because society’s bar is so low for you. Don’t try to understand the struggles of women both in the world and in your bed. Don’t bother feeling smug about your ability to love someone your peers deem “subpar”: women have been settling for less than they deserve since the dawn of time. Which is why eventually, you’ll find someone to love you like I love my Quasimodo. (JK: his name is Jeff, but I call him Quasi because… well, have you seen how ugly he is? He doesn’t even have a six-pack.)
Check me out in Issue 7 here.
I've been reading the comments on The Japanese Art of Grieving a Miscarriage, and there are two overwhelming consensuses:
1) Pregnancy loss--whether through miscarriage or abortion--is incredibly painful.
2) Something needs to be done to make the experience less lonely.
So I'm going to try.
Shallow cultural appropriation aside, I'm creating a virtual Jizo garden. If you have a Jizo statue (or any memorial to a lost child--piercings, tattoos, shrines, ornaments, etc.) and would like to submit a photo, please contact me below. I love the idea of seeing Jizos together as you see them in Japan. Perhaps in full force, we can all feel a little less alone.
Message me a picture at facebook.com/hiangelaelson.
Like so many of my attempts at becoming a real writer, I expected my latest--The Japanese Art of Grieving a Miscarriage in the New York Times--would fade to obscurity in a matter of minutes. However, two days since publication, the piece has been shared over 7,000 times: and that's just on Facebook.
The comments have been overwhelming. People have shared their support of my little Jizo as well as their stories surrounding their own losses--some occurring recently; others, decades ago. I like hearing them. I like to think they make all of us feel a little less alone, and I'm thrilled that the magic of writing brought us all together.
I've always considered myself a comedian, but the Jizo piece isn't a joke. While I would never be so bold as to claim I have the ability to help people, I do hope my story proves useful to people who are grieving in similar ways. And if there's anything else I can do, let me know. That thousands of people care about my absent child as much as I do satisfies both the mother and the writer in me. I am crushed.
Here is a picture of Jizo in my garden. For the second anniversary, I went for a hoodie in terms of crochet. It could have gone better.
I'm fortunate that my story has a happy ending. I fell pregnant with my second child a month after the miscarriage. He is almost a year old now: teething, putting his fingers in sockets, refusing to nap. I don't appreciate him nearly enough.
Thank you for reading,
If you absolutely must have a miscarriage, I recommend writing about it in The New York Times. It's a great way to memorialize the baby who got away, and you might get an extremely cute illustration out of it.
Thank you to Roberta Zeff for the opportunity to share my story. If you are in need of a Jizo, you can get one here.
So it's been awhile since I've done any crazy get-Internet-famous schemes (though my OKCupid profile is up to 283 likes). My absence from the Internet can be attributed to a few reasons:
1) The election happened and I entered a catatonic state
2) I went to Australia
3) I'm in the middle of moving to Seattle
4) I got some excellent blogging advice from someone a lot better at this than I that chronicling my Internet fame-whoring isn't as compelling as, say, creating a community for people who want to Internet fame whore... or do other nice things.
5) I sent an essay to The New York Times and one to Salon.com and they were both accepted--even though I am an Internet nobody. This leads me to believe that all I have to do to become a writer is, you know, write.
So I've decided to focus on actually putting my work into the world instead of my selfies.
"But wait!" you think. "What's going to happen to your blog? Where will I get my daily dose if schadenfreude reading about your numerous literary failures?" To which I say, 1) Schadenfreude can be obtained at the Trumpgrets Tumblr and 2) I'll still post stuff here; it'll just be half as fame-whorey.
Why, look at this! I got called up at The Moth StorySlam in October! I sprang to have them send me the video so that you might behold a story from my book about the time I was busted being an asshole abroad. Maybe it will be on the radio. Maybe it won't. Either way, I had more fun telling it than I did living it.
Read my essay on marrying for love and visas at 22 in Osaka here.