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.
broweLast week, I wrote an article on the Huffington Post entitled “5 Ways to Connect With Your Spouse When Kids Own Your Lives.” It was a cute (if not exactly “disruptive”) piece about the ways my husband, Brady, and I communicate with children underfoot. I thought it would be in good company on alongside other non-disruptive Parenting HuffPost articles like “Why Coffee Mugs are More than Just Cups” (because "They add a little 'personality' to our mornings") or “Lentil Soup Recipes That Won’t Bore You To Death” ("Of all the soup recipes out there to choose from, lentil soup is the most unassuming"). So I published my marital tips--and then I crammed them down people’s throats.
On Twitter, in Facebook, on BabyCenter, on StumbleUpon, on Instagram, on this blog, in Mommy groups: I shared this thing everywhere. HuffPost says if you can drive enough traffic to your post, they’ll consider featuring it on a main page. (For the record, when you post like I did, you get a link to share with people that doesn't connect anywhere to other HuffPost articles: you are essentially writing on HuffPost stationery). The promise of being featured is exciting when you're a nobody in desperate need of Internet street cred. But HuffPost doesn't tell you what “enough traffic” means when it comes to bumping yourself to the front page. And then, because they’re sadists, they publish a Like counter on their articles so you can spend whole days obsessing over the Like counts of other posts that actually get picked up.
My post was Liked 171 times. While this is nowhere near Pregnant Dog Totally Slays Maternity Photo Shoot (37k likes), it has more than 5 Things Moms Can Do To Try and Stay Sane (55 likes)--both featured on the Parents page last week. Am I butthurt about this? Slightly. But no one’s more pissed than Brady, who actually emailed HuffPost to ask what the deal was with their nonsensical posting logic. The two of us spent a week obsessively checking the parenting page throughout the day. “Can you believe they picked up lentil soup instead of our kids?" Unreal. Give me a break.
Of course, we might be biased. Maybe my post was rubbish, but I'm not so sure considering it was shared a bunch of times--mostly by friends who probably don't have the heart to tell me it's rubbish, but also by a few strangers. “I sent this to my husband,” someone told me. “This is really refreshing,” said someone else. I didn’t expect my latest fame grab to resonate with people, but I admit the compliments took the sting out of losing above-the-fold to a knocked-up golden retriever.
I don't consider the HuffPost experiment a total defeat. For one thing, if you share something with a recognized masthead on it, people are more likely to take it seriously (I learned this when my mother texted me at midnight with OMG YOU'RE ON HUFFPOST)--so the platform does have its perks. I learned some valuable (and obnoxious) self-promotion strategies, and I got some kind words from total strangers.
But the best affirmation came from Brady, whose birthday was last Monday, the same day I posted my article. “I have a scheme to get you likes,” he said. "You just wait." Over dinner he told me that morning he'd emailed George Takei, the king of viral Facebook, to ask him to share my article as a birthday present. Mr. Takei never got back to us (for the record, George, I still love you), but Brady showed me the email he sent, which lauded my beauty and writing talent and skills at wifery and mothering--the things you never say to your spouse when you're rushing to get through the dishes at night, the kind of spontaneous validation you can't get even with a thousand Internet likes. If I could add more tips for staying close to your spouse (kids or no kids), it would be these: Write to celebrities to tell them how wonderful your partner is, and hold tight to each other's stupid, shameful dreams.
Anyway, Brady won’t let me publish the e-mail he sent because he’s not a narcissist—which is too bad because I'm pretty sure “Husband Asks George Takei for a Birthday Present for his Fame-Whore Wife” would totally go viral.
PRO TIPS WHEN PUBLISHING ON HUFFPOST
--Use Google Chrome: All other browsers will cause issues with the preview text
--Don't lead with an Instagram photo: The preview text in the share bar will be like "Photo taken by
Purple bodysuit by Mamas & Papas, 2013 collection, imported from Kuwait. Pajamas by Carter's.
Sunday mornings are special at our house. With the weekdays so busy with working and chores, weekends are a great opportunity for all of us to relax and reconnect. We try to take it easy on Sundays and enjoy a perfect morning together as a family of four.
The magic starts at 5:30, when little, sweet Groucho tiptoes into our bed and cuddles under my arm. "I love you, Groucho," I whisper sleepily into her soft curls. "I want breakfast," she whispers back--for the first of 87 times. Mini muffins to the rescue! Make two dozen the night before and store them in a plastic container on the edge of the kitchen counter. Paired with a juice box (strategically placed on a low shelf in the fridge), Groucho can stuff her face unsupervised for twenty minutes while hubby and I cling to each other in bed and rue the third bomber of beer we had at midnight.
Soon, dear Harpo sings himself awake. I fetch him from his crib and nurse him tenderly on our chrysanthymum-embroidered coverlet from Target. It's reversible, which is great because we can mix up our bedroom/living room's color scheme from medium green to slightly less medium green. Also, we can just flip it over should Harpo barf on it. You can only do this so many times, but with two kids, we're always doing laundry!!!! I wouldn't call it a suicidal amount of laundry, but I do enough loads a week to inspire existential crisis. Why am I washing this? It will just be dirty tomorrow. Does anything I do matter? Am I even living or just waiting to die?
Tide Free totally helps.
With Harpo fed, it's time to make coffee! Coffee is the centerpiece of any perfect Sunday. Recently, I've been enjoying the Godiva brand coffee my mom found in a Marshall's two years ago. It's been aging in my freezer ever since, and I think time has really enhanced the flavor. I store it in another coffee can to confuse myself.
Of course I have to have my coffee in my favorite Contigo Autoseal Vacuum Insulated Stainless Steel Travel Mug! Seriously, no human should have fewer than three of these in their kitchen at any time. In the future, Contigo Autoseal Vacuum Insulated Stainless Steel Travel Mugs will be used as currency: they are that vital to everyday life! They keep hot drinks hot for hours, and they have a push-button spout, which means you can knock it over without spillage--a must for anyone with children or hang over-induced clumsiness, or both! I have one in black and one in medium green, which will one day store my cremains. That's how much I fucking love Contigo Autoseal Vacuum Insulated Stainless Steel Travel Mugs!
Crock Pot by Crock Pot
Hubby and I fill our travel mugs with coffee, and then we cradle them in bed and try unsuccessfully to go back to sleep as our beautiful children enjoy screen time. Even after seven Daniel Tiger episodes' worth of unsatisfying rest punctuated by crying, whining, hair pulling, and other assorted batshittery, our coffee is still as fresh and hot as the hell that awaits us until nap time.
What do you do to make your Sundays more special than anyone else's? Enjoy your weekend, friends!
Here is my advice when signing up for Pinterest: never admit to being a woman. Even if you are one, when they ask you for your gender at the signup, lie. Otherwise you're going to get a whole lot of this:
I'm trying to give Pinterest the benefit of the doubt here in assuming that these recommended subjects aren't painting all women with the same vapid brush. Perhaps the fact that there are boards for both "Fitness" and "Ab Workouts" speaks to the complexity of womanhood. What young, tender girl hasn't found herself at the crossroads of "Hair and Beauty," "Hairstyles," AND "Braids"? Truly, Pinterest is catering to the true female experience, one that enjoys both "Home Decor" and "DIY Home Decor." The message here is that a woman must always be renovating something.
As someone content to squat in the derelict crack den that is my own body, I don't know what I should be looking for on Pinterest. When you're not willing to change yourself, Pinterest is just a visual representation of a bookmarks bar. I turned to my social media experts to solicit use cases. "I find recipes I'll never cook," was one answer. "I like to discover projects I'll never do," was another. While some had found practical applications (finding classroom writing prompts, managing lists of baby supplies), most of my friends who used Pinterest admitted it was a place they go to get "inspired" and then not do anything they were inspired to do.
This seems like a waste of time, or at the very least a missed opportunity. If there's anything I'm learning in my journey to become online famous, it's that to inspire people you must connect with instead of just pander to them. So how can Pinterest challenge and engage its main demographic: cisgender, heterosexual women in a constant state of insecure self-improvement? As a member of this target audience, what would I enjoy curating photos of and then admiring them for more than ten seconds at a time?
And then the answer came to me: Penis.
Wait, wait, wait! Don't leave yet! I promise this post will not contain any real dicks. Why? Because Pinterest won't allow them. Here's proof:
Of course, there's no penis on Pinterest. There's no penis anywhere. I bet you've seen more live tigers this year than you've seen dicks on TV ever.
There are probably reasons for this, some involving decency laws. But I saw more of Lena Headey's vagina in Game of Thrones than I've seen of my own, so I'm not sure we can really rely on the strictness of these rules. The message in this discrepancy between acceptable levels of nudity is that a woman can be displayed like a cooked goose in a Chinatown window, but the penis is so special, so secretive, so revered that we must avert our eyes lest they be burned by its majesty.
When I say I am demanding a Penis Pinterest board, I'm not saying that I actually want to look at wang en masse... for more than thirty minutes. I do believe any red-blooded cisgender heterosexual female might enjoy a titillating lineup of trouser snake more than she'd appreciate photos of braids. But what women might enjoy more is leveling the playing field between the genders when it comes to feeling self-conscious.
Even when signing up for a free social media cork board, we females are inundated with body parts we should be improving. Shouldn't we encourage our male counterparts to have the same initiative? Let there be an online repository of dick picks men can reference in order to worry about how they measure up. Let there be Pinterest boards available for them to learn how to give their dicks extra volume, what moisturizers to use, what exfoliants to avoid. Let the ass-backwardness of the double standard men and women are held to in the media be unpantsed! Maybe then I might get something I really want to look at--or, at the very least, some non-phallic content that isn't completely, offensively bland.
Unfortunately, due to the aforementioned ham ban, I couldn't make a penis Pinterest board. The closest thing I could get is a board of things that look like penis, which is funny, but I wouldn't say it'll knock your socks off.
In closing, there is not a single thing to write home about on Pinterest. Don't sign up for it. Don't even look at it unless you enjoy feeling shitty about your hair.
If you want something that will really take your breath away, you should (WARNING: THE LINK YOU ARE ABOUT TO CLICK WILL INUNDATE YOU WITH FAMOUS MOVIE PEENS) check this out.
Are you as pissed as I am that you've never seen below the belly on the telly? Tell me about it in the comments below. If I have enough backing, I will take my case to Pinterest.
Maybe it's because I'm a narcissist, but I sincerely believe my journey toward viral can and should inspire the masses. This is why I'm starting an online motivational movement to empower people to follow their dreams without fear of judgment. I call it: Carpe Dopeness.
(GOOP was already taken.)
For a successful launch on this #MotivationMonday, I've created a Pinterest board (more on that later) full of amazing motivational memes to share around the Internet. I'll also be posting them on Facebook all week. Feel free to share with your friends who need a little more dopeness in their lives.
Now, I bet your asking yourself, "Is she serious?" To which I reply, "It depends. Are you?"
On the surface, Carpe Dopeness is just another of my social media gimmicks, an ironic twist on YOLO, something to make people chuckle and then forget as they scroll through their Facebook feeds. But friends, believe me when I testify that I have been changed by my quest for online fame. A week ago I was a trembling milquetoast biting my nails before my laptop, wondering, "Should I ask people for help in following my stupid, shameful dreams?" Then I drank a bunch of bourbon, and the answer was, "More Cheetos!" And then (apparently), "YES!" I posted a CALL TO ACTION(TM) on Facebook, which was answered and shared by dozens of loved ones (and even a few strangers). My posts last week garnered over 1,000 impressions when the week before they were only seen 70 times, and I'm pretty sure that was just my brother refreshing his browser to make me feel better.
I used to think dreams were for dopes: idiots, innocents, the irresponsible--navel-gazing losers who not-so-secretly hope they're special. But now, thanks to the blind support of people who haven't spoken to me since grade school, I see now that dreams are important not because they are achievable, but because they are fun. Dreams make the workday tolerable, amuse us on our commutes, tickle us while we do dishes. They distract and entertain and give us hope of being more than we currently are. That's what Carpe Dopeness means to me: It's the courage to scheme even though your wishes don't really matter to a cold world with real problems, but hey, it's something to do until Game of Thrones comes back on. I'm not sure I'll ever get this book published, but I promise you I'll have a blast trying.
So this is my mission: to be my dopest self in full view of the world and inspire others to do the same--to say to a faceless crowd of people blithely scrolling through their Facebook feeds over their morning coffee, "I am chasing my dreams because I am just as bored as you are! Regard me, and join!"
So how serious am I about Carpe Dopeness? Serious AF.