Happy Spring Equinox (*in Northern Hemisphere)!
My sexually liberated grandmother, Jani Mace, age 62 and me age 15, Christmas 1978
Welcome Spring in the North! Below is info from my newsletter, because there is a lot of it, along with some personal and writing updates.
But first, I want to take this moment to say I am grateful that almost two years on since I came down with COVID in NYC, leading to over 18 months of long haul COVID, that I have ALL THIS NEWS and my concerns are more about writing and yoga and ways of embracing neurodiversity than in a state of constant alarm and/or exhaustion due to scary health issues. My yoga practice continues to be a big part of healing, along with various ayurvedic medicines and plant-based supplements, and now I have the energy to add in cardio and am beginning to feel stronger than I have in years. And yes, lest anyone be confused, I have been vaccinated thrice and am a Big supporter of vaccines, which also appear to have booted out the remaining virus lurking in corners in my body (and brain). I am mostly back to myself and incredibly grateful for all the support from both alternative and traditional medicine that got me here. But now to some writing and yoga news....
The photo at top is of my grandmother Jani Mace and me in 1978, which relates to a I wrote for the wonderful Oldster Magazine curated by Sari Botton, entitled My Sexually Liberated Grandmother, Myself. This came about because I saw an article in Oldster written by a woman about sex after 60 and remembered when researching my book about both my grandmothers, The Amazing True Imaginary Autobiography of Dick and Jani, I had read Jani's drafts of essays about the same subject, which she had submitted to places like Playboy with no hope of having them published. The idea of women's desire in the 1970s was anathema, never mind the desire of an old woman. I contacted Sari about these unpublished essays and she enthusiastically agreed they would be of interest. While it took me a while to finally go back into the old boxes, find the essays, and then consider how on earth I would approach this subject, when I did, the essay flowed. I was still concerned, perhaps because somehow this subject still seems taboo even though Jani was So Not Scared of writing about it. I asked Sari if she would read an early draft, which she did. I was surprised by her positive response. I guess the moral of this writing story is: the touchy subjects that make you kind of cringe inside and feel exposed are probably what you should be writing about. The response to the essay by readers so far has been overwhelmingly positive. I hope you will read it for yourself and encourage you to subscribe to Oldster on substack, because Sari is putting together an extraordinary body of writing by older writers about, well, getting older.
The other publication in the fabulous literary journal [PANK] is Red Hots, a story I wrote two years ago, which took a long time to find its home and this is a great place for it. My story will be in the double volume print issue launching at AWP next week, but happily you can also read the story online as a sneak peek into the volume. This story is close to my heart for many reasons, not the least of which is it is the first story I wrote as I was beginning a long autism diagnostic process, which coincided with the beginning of the pandemic. I was beginning to see how being on the spectrum had affected my childhood, and while the story is fiction, it led me to feel my way back into being a child, knowing for the first time why I felt so entirely alien to—well—everything.
As for my current memoir including this new diagnosis, I have decided to take a step back and regroup. I realized I was trying to shoehorn this new discovery into what had been a memoir about trauma healing through yoga, and it was not working. I am now taking the time to integrate this huge readjustment to my own life understanding as I find a voice for the memoir—allowing it to talk to me, which as it turns out is a slow process. When I discover the form it wants to take, I will bring it back into the marketplace. I am reading a book called Authoring Autism: on rhetoric and neurological queerness by Melanie Yergeau that has made me see how radical what she refers to as Auti-biographies can be and how tricky to negotiate the many ways we have been silenced so I can ensure I do not write from any internalized ablism. So this is gonna be another kind of long haul, which is equal parts daunting, terrifying, and incredibly exciting. I have not felt this excited about writing since I stumbled on how I write stage texts, and that was a scary time, too. So wish me luck...and speaking of stage texts...
I wrote Respairation or you have to unmute yourself while recovering from long haul COVID—it's mostly about that fan favorite mortality and not being ready to face it, along with meditations on dead female poets, feminism, class, lack of control over—well—anything really and the ways we keep trying to have control anyway. You know, the usual. But I wrote it, so it's also funny. Fabulous actors from three countries and times zones representing most phases of my theater career: Zoe Bouras, Julia Brothers, Renee Bucciarelli, Marietta Hedges, and Jacqueline Springfield make (a 25 minute excerpt) come alive beautifully and can be seen now on YouTube here, alongside other fabulous work by a group of women artists curated by Yani Perez for IATI's Women's Herstory Month celebration.
ONE Opening in Thursday Inwood Writing Workshop (on Zoom)! One slot in the Thursday Inwood Writing Workshop is open for the 6-week April-mid-May session. Email me for information and/or go to The Unadapted Ones to see more about the philosophy behind the workshops. Any open spots usually go quickly, so get in touch soon if you are interested. Most people stay on for multiple sessions, many for years. This is why you have not seen me advertising for the Tuesday workshop since 2019. Only six people are in each workshop, so everyone can read every week, which is why it's so exclusive.
As mentioned in my last newsletter, I began teaching gentle yoga for healing again in December! I felt like I had the energy to finally do so, inspired by an extraordinary training I did with Dr. Arielle Schwartz on applying polyvagal theory to yoga. Polyvagal theory was pioneered by Dr. Stephen Porges and his research has led to multiple methods to enhance ventral vagal tone. This is the primary driver of our nervous system. When supple and healthy, the vagus nerve helps us pendulate between active, aroused sympathetic state to more relaxed, receptive parasympathetic state with ease in response to our bodies' needs. While originally these techniques were designed for people healing from trauma, over the course of pandemic everyone's nervous systems have been impacted. While teaching one-off classes has been helpful in order to gain some consistency in the practice, I have decided to teach a series of Sundays at 4pm Eastern on Zoom in April, so we can build on what has been learned from class to class. If you want to register for the series, which will be offered on a sliding scale, please email me, and I will send you the registration info and answer any questions you may have. I will be recording the classes, so if you can't attend a class, you will be able to take it later. All people signed up for the 4 classes will receive these recordings, so you can practice throughout the week. If you know of someone else who also may be interested, you can give them my email or send them to my site, which has more information about the type of yoga I teach. Finally, I can also offer private yoga classes, if you would like guidance in creating an at home practice. Contact me for more info.
I hope to see you soon! In the meantime, enjoy the thawing and the new blooms, or if you are in the Southern Hemisphere the beginning of autumn. In either case change is afoot. I know there is a lot of sorrow in the world right now, and I am doing what I can for those most afflicted, but also I want to be fully present where I am to heal and help others heal, to somehow make a better place for us to live. I have to believe as we heal ourselves we offer space for that in others and are better placed to support those who need it. But we cannot do that from a place of lack or else more harm ensues. I used to do that a lot, and felt I was being heroic, but I was not. I was just creating more suffering in the long run. In any case, may you find the balance that works for you. And thrive in the way that feels organic to who you are becoming, since we are always becoming, never static. The seasons remind me of that as they change. The tide as it ebbs and flows, the ever changing sky.