My amazing writer friend, Laurie Easter, interviews me!
My amazing writer friend, Laurie Easter, interviews me!
Please join me over at The Rumpus for my latest essay… Here’s a few descriptions from fellow writers:
Brian Sheehan: The Sweetest Kidnapping is the latest essay by my friend Cathy Bell, and by its questioning nature of a single event in her childhood, leaves us examining how we perceive story and truth in our own lives. Powerful, raw, and an important read. Thank you for your gift.
Pamela Ramos Langley: This is a BEAUTIFUL, heart wrenching essay by my friend, Cathy Bell, published in the Sunday Rumpus!!! Cathy has used some smart and evocative weaving to texture this story of a woman’s contextualization of a simultaneously traumatic and strangely magical event in her young life.
Lia Woodall: “And then when I hugged her and smelled her, I remembered her.” “How long, exactly, does it take for a child to forget her mother?” Cathy Bell’s powerful essay probes memory, hers and others, over decades, for perspective and understanding to the shifting geography of her childhood. How the villains and heroes in our impressionable and vulnerable years can change faces and their truths into serviceable fictions. How one night can bathe us in a protective force field of unflinching love. “When the scary is over, all we remember is the magic.”
I spent a year working on my essay “Drive-by”. It started as fragmented, became a narrative, grew huge, shrunk back, and on and on. I needed this essay to be perfect. It’s my heart. It’s my baby. I’ve never loved an essay I’ve written more than this one. It chronicles a turning point in my life, a moment I could admit I missed my mother after years of no contact between us.
It’s taken a while to find the right home, but it DID find the right home at Full Grown People, a journal that that looks at “the sometimes glorious, sometimes messy, stuff that comes with adulthood.” I can’t begin to list the people who helped me workshop this piece in all its forms (thank you everyone!), but I will say thank you to Lynn Hall who has been the biggest champion of this essay since I wrote it and for her amazing editing skills to help me cut 1500 words from it. And thank you to FGP’s founder and editor Jennifer Niesslein for publishing and fine tuning it. I am so happy to have this essay birthed into the world today. I hope you’ll share in the journey (both the journey to publication and the literal drive-by of the story) with me.
“I wonder if reliving our childhood through day-long drives, as we often do, gives us insight to the ways the past intertwines with the now. Sometimes we don’t know how we really feel until we come close to the object that excites us, or haunts us, or excites and haunts us all at once, like our mother.”
I’m very excited to announce my latest essay publication in The Rumpus this morning. It’s one of the shorter essays I’ve written, so it won’t take long to read. Thank you!
Mom sent my blue baby book to me once in an act of severance. As I flipped through the musty pages I found where she recorded my first sentence: “Momma, see!”
Read the whole essay here:
(Photo by Kristin Basta)
My poem “My Mother in a Song” was published at http://run-to-the-roundhouse-nellie.com/readers-house/ this month, so I wanted to post it here as well. The prompt was MOM.
My Mother in a Song
She is the orchard
and the peaches that come later in a jar.
She is the music playing from the radio, filling the car.
“Seasons in the Sun”
“Hooked on a Feeling”
“Sunshine on My Shoulders”
“Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree”
She is a clean house,
the smell of Windex and the clear pane of a window.
She is the music dancing from the cabinet stereo.
“You Make Me Feel Brand New”
“I Can See Clearly Now”
“You Are the Sunshine of My Life”
She is also the black, chilly night
an absence of light, a void without stars.
She is the music blaring out from the bars.
“One of These Nights”
“The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia”
And she is the gap in the baby book,
the blank pages after age four (where writing should have been).
She is the music whispering from the record’s spin.
“When Will I See You Again?”
“Day by Day”
“Song Sung Blue”
“If You Love Me (Let Me Know)”
She is blanket laid out by the mountain stream,
roasted marshmallows, fried chicken,
bologna sandwiches—the goodness that picnics bring.
She is the song the artist loves to sing.
“The Best of My Love”
“Rocky Mountain High”
“How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)”
When Light Pierces Through My Eyes Like Angry Tendrils
I am a vampire hiding
Hiding from sunlight,
Florescent light, light
Reflected on shiny things.
Even the little blue numbers
On the cable box display
Far across the room,
These are the things that hurt,
Seeking parts of my brain
I’d otherwise not know.
Scents coming through the air
Assault my brain like poison.
We afflicted cry out when
tiny molecules enter the nose:
A woman who wears too much perfume
Car exhaust as the traffic light changes
Beautiful, beautiful lilies
Yeast in baking bread
And especially burning popcorn
Scorching in the microwave at work.
These are the things that hurt.
Hail hitting the roof
Clank of a dish set in the metal
Kitchen sink, dryer buzzer buzzing
Children laughing, crying, singing
Sharp, biting barks (I love my dog, I do.)
Always the ticking clock
hanging on the bedroom wall.
Another tick. Another tock.
These are things that hurt.
These are the things that hurt me.
I’m so thrilled that this little (very personal) essay is taking on a life of its own! I was informed yesterday by the editor of Hippocampus Magazine, Donna Talarico, that “Wash Me Clean” is one of her six choices for nominees this year. Literary journals and small presses are all allowed to nominate six pieces published in in the last year. You can read my fellow nominees’ work here: http://www.hippocampusmagazine.com/2013/12/hippocampus-announces-pushcart-nominees-for-2013/ All excellent personal stories.
It’s an honor to be among all the other nominees–writers light years beyond me in talent and craft skills. Even so, it’s a blessing and more than anything I just want my grandmother to be proud of her girl.
An essay about caring for my grandmother during her Alzheimer’s illness. It’s about the way we forget who our loved ones were before they got sick. Please go to Hippocampus Magazine to read it! Thank you!