My apologies for not writing this past summer. I hope this finds you well.
I did submit some of my work though I haven’t learned if the pieces will get published or not. I get to “Hurry up and wait” which is one of my a-dad’s favorite sayings. Nevertheless, I won’t write that I had a boring summer.
I bought (Professor) Ted Van Alst Jr.’s newest book, Sacred Smokes. It was great to send a picture to him after I received it. (He thanked me too.) I’ll need a whole post to write about it than share now. Definitely, go find it at your local bookstore.
I am happier with the upward trend that Native authors are on the shelves. (There’s hope for my future books to be alongside Mailhot, Orange, Trudell, and Van Alst’s.) Youngsters today are luckier then when I was a shorty.
Sadly, when I was a child- Natives were considered extinct or ancient. I was the “token” Indian in the room who heard jokes and derogatory remarks about my people. No one understood their racism hurt me to my core; they just saw my fists fly and my tears stream down my tan, round face. Now in my adult years, I know now that Aboriginals/American Indians/Inuit/First Nations/Native Americans* exist. We are strong, smart, educated, funny, beautiful, important people who vote, read, write, shop, live in society. I earned my Certificate in Native American Indian Studies from UMass Amherst in 2012 to prove, to The People, I know stuff.
In my younger years, my a-mother tried to normalize my heritage and show that I wasn’t unique. I was a loved lone Inuk regardless. A-Mom bought me over the years: toy igloos, Eskimo** dolls, posted pictures of Eskimos in the snow, and had statues for me to cherish. I liked them and felt better with the artifacts around my side of the room.
Back then, we didn’t have the internet on a phone or on a laptop. We, kids, bike rode or walked to the public library during business hours and used the card catalog to find the books or find a relic, the heavy encyclopedia— you couldn’t take out of the reference section. We either checked out the book or found the correct encyclopedia where we then rewrote the pages or photocopied the pages for a nickel! (And nickels for photocopies took away our trips to the penny candy store. That in itself was a travesty to the chubby Inuk** I was.) After the arduous library trip, we had to walk or bike home to sit at the kitchen table and write in cursive on paper the homework assignment! (Cursive writing is when one scribbles legibly the alphabet and the words connect. A skill that public ed teachers have stopped teaching the next generation.)
Trips to the library were a chore and I enjoyed the lessons and knowledge they gave me once I could sit at the table. (I still swell up with pride walking into a library though now I drive.) After dinner, one of my parents took the responsibility to stand over me and reread my work to make sure I didn’t plagiarize or sound like an idiot. (English and Social studies was A-Mom’s cup of tea while A-Dad’s ken was/is science and math.)
I remember I wrote reports about Eskimos to feel connected to my people. When I was in eighth grade, I wrote and gave a report to a little class for extra-credit. (I have always been a writer and a teacher. Now I have the legal certifications— then I acted as if.) I had a bibliography and pictures like I did for my recent thesis.
I don’t know how the tangent began, I digress. I’m a writer who still has to write. I worked hard for my MFA these past two years, and I need to keep the juices flowing. I can’t wait for my diploma to arrive in the mail sometime soon (???).
This summer: my husband did have knee surgery, I moved our kid in/out of three different homes, we adopted a kitten, and we’re planning on moving to the next town. I submitted work to two agents. Though I was turned down, I did receive excellent feedback for my prose. I read aloud most of my “A Whale of a Tale” to the Straw Dog Writer’s Guild -Read Aloud Night – in Northampton. I visited with two LesleyMFA Alumni for supper at The Roost. Sonya Larson of Grub Street invited me to Alexander Chee’s book reading and Writers of Color gathering. I bought his book, How to Write an Autobiographical Novel, and he is amazing. We had a fun night in Brookline. I am slowly learning my first language. There’s always another Red Sox or Patriots game to watch too. I saw my fren who returned from Scotland for a New York Minute. I miss her face. I visited another fren for dinner across the Commonwealth. Also, I took a day trip and drove to New Haven, Connecticut then took the Metro-North R.R. into New York City to help celebrate my dear MFA friend’s birthday. Fun though was very short. And, of course, I got lost. We laughed, we noshed, I drank Pepsi. SL has awesome friends!
It’s been a h3ll of a summer thus far and Autumn is upon us. Later on this month, I am going to the Boston Writers of Color supported by Grub Street group and speak about WoC and MFA programs. The brisk weather, while I’m happier to have, came on quickly after the gawd-awful hot, humid days. The struggle is real. Be well all. I’ll write again. I don’t want to be this tardy again.
*The five different words are used by Americans and Canadians. In my opinion, those words are all interchangeable. I don’t think those terms used reflect well upon us. I prefer to use Indigenous peoples of North America. We, a collective of tribal people, lived across the continent long before the countries were “founded” in 1776 or in 1867.
**Eskimos and Inuit are two tricky words. Canada has four different land regions of Inuit. The word Inuit is an Inuktitut word that translates into “The People.” Meaning the first people. We’ve lived for thousands of years across the tundra. Next, the word Inuit is plural for Inuk. I am a Labrador Inuk. Using the words, Inuit or Inuk, is preferred.
**Eskimo is an old term that translates into “Meat Eater.” It is a derogatory word and there are many people like me who despise hearing it. Ex., the NFL team, the Edmonton Eskimos, should change the team’s name. (But that’s another post.) Then, in Alaska, there are the Yup’ik Eskimos and they keep that title. Remember, I said it’s tricky.
***Either way, please respect my identification as Inuk because that is who/what this writer is.