“Breaking Up With My Meds” is the first post of a new series of incredibly brave articles drolly titled “Going Off.” Diana Spechler is the writer, and her column appears in The New York Times, under the category Anxiety. The last two paragraphs grabbed me. They talk about our modern society’s yearning “to become spotless on the inside,” a flute tune that resonates with the drum I’ve been beating for some time — our need to reclaim the original definition of virginity.
“I wish I could meet that young woman,” I thought at the time. “She is a real live virgin.” I promptly forgot her name.
It is the magic of the Writers Conference of San Miguel de Allende that Sunday afternoon, yesterday, standing in the gardens of the Hotel Real de Minas, I asked a new acquaintance what she wrote. “I’ve just begun a series for The New York Times,” she answered, “about going off my meds for depression.”
And so begins a friendship, Facebook and otherwise. Diana Spechler. You should remember her name.
Last night at the 10th Annual San Miguel Writers’ Conference, Alice Walker bemoaned the fact that women still refer to each other in groups as “guys.” Thinking in the shower this morning, what’s an alternative? Gals? Ladies? Women? Think about it. Can you hear yourselves, hum, Ladies, using any feminine term of address that doesn’t have just a smidge or an echo of diminution in it. Diminution? Is that a good word? Maybe I’m thinking “a tone of condescension.” Maybe I’ll come up with some better term for calling out to a group of my, (oh dear, shall I say it?) gal pals, when I want to get their attention. Gal pals? Yech. That tasted awful on my tongue. Help me come up with something better!
In Mexico they call this Dia de Amistad y Amor. Friendship and love. I’m feeling both right now. It’s been one tumultuous year this week since Virgin Territory came out. I’ve made so many phenomenal new friends, and become reacquainted with old ones in deeper ways. I wish I could have a party and bestow abrazos on everyone of them. If you’re reading this, you are in that circle. Consider yourself hugged.
But there is no time for a formal celebration, though Larry brought me a rose this morning and is washing the dog as I write this, two major acts of love. We’re not going to eat out, because I’m busy getting ready to head off tomorrow morning to the San Miguel de Allende Writers’ Conference. Cleaning out the fridge is a priority this evening, so green furry things won’t greet me when I get back next week.
One of my favorite writers in the world, Sandra Cisneros, is the keynote speaker, and I’m clutching my copy of Woman Hollering Creek, eager to get it signed. (I’ve loaned out her other works, Caramelo and The House on Mango Street, because nothing pleases me more than sharing work that I love. But where are they?) I also submitted the first thirty pages of VT, along with a one-page synopsis to the Writers’ Conference manuscript contest. I was one of just a few to win a private appointment with a hotshot literary agent. Please keep your fingers crossed and your prayerful knees bent for me.
But most of all, I just want to say “Thanks.” I scroll through my contacts list, my friends on Facebook, and I do remember the people behind the names, the kindness they showed, and the encouragement they’ve given. May you have the happiest of days filled with heartfelt affection from south of the border.