Jane Eaton Hamilton

"I cannot and will not cut my conscience to fit this year’s fashions.” – Lillian Hellman

Tag: The Rumpus

Rumpus addictions: Spontaneous Combustion

 

I have a new essay up at The Rumpus, called “Spontaneous Combustion,” joining my other essay there called “Infarct, I Did.” This essay is about my mother’s addiction to prescription drugs and its challenges to the family. Why my mother never overdosed, considering the great number of pills she ingested, is a mystery.

 

Voices on Addiction is a column devoted to true personal narratives of addiction, curated by Kelly Thompson, and authored by the spectrum of individuals affected by this illness. Through these essays, interviews, and book reviews we hope—in the words of Rebecca Solnit—to break the story by breaking the status quo of addiction: the shame, stigma, and hopelessness, and the lies and myths that surround it. Sisters, brothers, mothers, fathers, adult children, extended family members, spouses, friends, employers or employees, boyfriends, girlfriends, neighbors, victims of crimes, and those who’ve committed crimes as addicts, and the personnel who often serve them, nurses, doctors, social workers, therapists, prison guards, police officers, policy makers and, of course, addicts themselves: Voices on Addiction will feature your stories. Because the story of addiction impacts us all. It’s time we break it. Submit here.

Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) BELIEVE THE VICTIM

This is a literary blog and exactly the place literary essays about domestic violence belong.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness month in the US. November is Domestic Violence Awareness month in Canada.

S/he/they don’t have to be hitting you for you to be a victim; abuse happens with gaslighting, lying, cheating, yelling, sexual abuse, dehumanizing you, demeaning you, threatening you, throwing things, frightening you/the children. This month and next, I ask everyone to remember that this is not just a heterosexual, able-bodied crime. The disabled are victims of violence at home at a much higher rate than are the able-bodied. Queers and trans people are frequent victims of violence both outside the household perpetrated by strangers, and inside it perpetrated by their intimate partners. If you want to read more about queer violence, I started a website to collect the pieces I could find about it at www.queerviolence.com.

Thank you, readers, for having the interests of victims at heart this month and next. It is your understanding that will make a difference. Thank you for educating yourselves.

All a household needs for domestic violence to occur is one partner who feels entitled and willing to batter. It’s not about the victim. It’s entirely caused by, about and the fault of the offender.

Why doesn’t she leave? S/he/they have told her that she’s crazy, she’s imagining things, it’s not that bad, s/he/they love her. Periodically, the violence ends and the loving relationship begins anew, refreshed and revitalized This pattern of violence broken by love broken by violence broken by love eventually twists a victim’s mind. She believes in the love. She hungers for it. She needs it. It’s the “real” relationship, after that. The violence is just something to be borne. This creates a psychological condition called trauma bonding. (In a hostage situation the same dynamic would be called Stockholm Syndrome.) When there’s violence, she would give anything, do anything, be anybody just to have the pendulum swing back to where her partner loves and approves of her again.

Kids are often caught in the crossfire and this is particularly grievous because they are observing behaviour that will make them feel “at home” as adults. They won’t know how to form healthy relationships with healthy people. If you can’t make yourself leave for yourself, make yourself leave on behalf of your children.

Call your local transition house because, there, you will have breathing room to think through your circumstances and to begin the process of healing and figuring out the next steps to your free future.

What can you do? Support resources helping battered women. Educate yourself on feminism and why it’s critical to everyone’s future. BELIEVE THE VICTIMS. If you like the offender, and you don’t like the victim, nevertheless, BELIEVE THE VICTIM.

Read Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men by Lundy Bancroft.

Below, I’ll link to literary essays on abuse. Please feel free to add the ones that have been important to you in the comments.

It Will Look Like a Sunset by Kelly Sundberg, Guernica, Best American Essays

Apology Not Accepted, a blog by Kelly Sundberg with guest essayists on the topic of IPV

(Stay tuned for a book on the topic by Kelly Sundberg in 2018.)

Using CNF to Teach the Realities of Intimate Partner Violence to First Responders: An Annotated Bibliography, by Christian Exoo, Assay Journal

The Story of My Fear Over Time, by Kelly Thompson, The Rumpus

Underwater, by Kelly Thompson, Manifest Station

I Understand Why Some Women Stay, by Virginia Mátir, xojane

The Mule Deer, by Debbie Weingarten, Vela

On Car Accidents and Second Wives, by Mandy Rose, Apology Not Accepted

Never Say I Didn’t Bring You Flowers, by Jane Eaton Hamilton, Apology Not Accepted, Full Grown People, notable in Best American Essays

 

 

Weekend at the Rumpus

Thrilled that WEEKEND appears in this great company in Anna March’s Reading MixTape #26 at the Rumpus!

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  1. Weekend by Jane Eaton Hamilton
  2. Transitory by Tobias Carroll
  3. The Lost Girls by Heather Young
  4. Arcade by Drew Smith
  5. The Art of Waiting by Belle Boggs
  6. Every Kind of Wanting by Gina Frangello
  7. This Angel on My Chest by Leslie Pietrzyk
  8. The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
  9. Intimations by Alexandra Kleeman
  10. The Story of a Brief Marriage by Anuk Arudpragasam

The Rumpus

Rubber Soul

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Just because of my article on Rumpus on Saturday past about my harrowing descent into heart disease (Infarct, I Did) this flash fiction I wrote about a different encounter with cardiology. The truth is that in trying to find an image of rubber food, I plugged in “healthy rubber food” and found nothing. There is only rubber junk food, which should tell the dietician something, don’t you think?

rubber soul: the dietician

jane eaton hamilton

so what are your concerns she says and i say i want information for my ankylosing spondylitis and she says but let’s talk about lowering your triglycerides i say my triglycerides aren’t elevated she says the things i show you will get them back in range and i say but i am really interested in the list of foods i should avoid with ankylosing spondylitis and she says also we will also work on a plan to get your blood sugar more stable and i say my blood sugar is within range and she says let’s talk about how to even those numbers out because obviously your body is having trouble converting your sugars triglycerides and sugars are our concerns today and i say but what i’m consulting you for is ankylosing spondylitis and then she says what time to do go to bed what time do you get up why do you stay up so late have you heard about sleep hygiene do you watch tv in bed do you read in bed reading in bed is particularly bad because your eyes move back and forth and i almost laugh because reading in bed is what writers do and sometimes we write too with pens or even laptops so i say just consider it as me working the afternoon shift she says only sleep that you get before midnight counts and the window should be open you don’t want to add rotten sleep hygiene to your woes i say heaven forfend she says the only thing you can do in bed is sleep i say am i allowed to have sex because although it’s often unhygienic what we do we do do most of it in bed considering our older bodies i’m sure you can understand her lips collapse together and she pretends i didn’t say this she says only the sleep you get before 10 p.m. counts i say does sleep know what time it is what if i have sex at 2 does that orgasm not count it makes me sleepy she ignores me and says what time do you rise do you ingest food when you get up what do you eat and brings out plastic bowls red orange and blue so i can choose the amount of my yogurt and asks me to estimate the size of my apple which makes me giddy why am I giddy i say jiminy crickets doesn’t that depend on the size of the apple the store sells we move along through the day’s food when we get to dinner i say could we just discuss the hit list for the ankylosing spondylitis now and she bends to her bookcase and plunks a rubber mound of individuated white rice kernels a blob of sliced melded carrots a blop of cooked spinach and pasta with discrete strands along with a chunk of salmon on a plastic segmented plate more food than i would eat in three meals like portions in nashville she says you should eat more vegetables all of the stacked vegetables quiver like we are having a slight earthquake 4.4 say or the aftershock of a 5.7 i think of japan where there is rubber food in restaurant windows cultures are wiggle-rubbing like tectonic plates and i try hard i try really hard i try excessively hard sucking in my lips wiping emotion from my eyes not to react so as not to be labelled a bad patient but it is hard to answer questions with rubber food shaking not inches from your face i want to tell her that once my daughter had a boyfriend in japan who made prosthetic ears and i kept one by my canadian telephone and i was keen to collect more body parts i got rubber lips and one eyeball i ask her if she imagines that eventually i got a whole face (i didn’t because the kids broke up) but she says do you eat fish do you eat beef do you eat chicken do you eat fried foods salt breading do you drink alcohol pop coffee water what do you take in your coffee how much of it do you take she is going to find something wrong with my diet if she prys enough she is getting more insistent more charged up more i can see the roots of her hair bleaching in front of me she plunks down a glass of rubber milk which cannot slosh and a glass of rubber orange juice the food off-gasses in a way that makes me swoon with nausea i think you don’t put rubber food in front of a writer she says because we are gonna write about it i will give you a print out of your weight loss goals and the changes you need to make so that your triglycerides and blood sugars come down try it for a month then make an appointment to see me again and i say if i come back will you be able to prepare the list of foods that aggravate ankylosing spondylitis and then there is a silence and into it i say may i please have some rubber food to take home so i can compare portions but she just gives me a quarter of an elastic laugh i say is there a website i can order rubber food when she leaves the room for the print out i slip the rice just the rice into my gym bag

 

 

In Plain Sight: The Vanishing of Ellen Bass

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Ellen F Brown interviews poet Ellen Bass in this cogent interview from The Rumpus–it’s wonderful to catch up with her. Many of us spent our young adulthoods with the work of Ellen Bass, both by reading her lucid, conversational poems and via her books on child sexual abuse, I Never Told Anyone: Writings by Women Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse and The Courage to Heal.

Count me among the thousands helped by Ellen Bass’s work. Count me among the thousands touched by her poems in (older) and also her more recent collections Mules of Love, The Human Line, and Like a Beggar. Like me, Ellen Bass stopped writing poetry for a time and has reinvented herself as an older, seasoned writer who found the new writing world a quite changed place. I wish her continued success.

Read the interview here.

 

100 times yes re: “On Pandering” by Claire Vaye Watkins

JEHthedoor

photo: Jane Eaton Hamilton, Paris, 2014

Tune in to Tin House to read this exceptional essay by short story writer Claire Vaye Watkins on writing towards the big boys.

Tin House

Mary Gaitskill and the Life Unseen

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‘Mary Gaitskill and the Life Unseen’ is an article in the New York Times Magazine, by Parul Seghal. She

The New York Times

Here is another interview on The Rumpus (from 2013) by Suzanne Rivecca, called ‘What Men Talk About When They Talk About Mary Gaitskill.’

The Rumpus

The Atlantic

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