Kathy Pfeiffer

How to square one truth against another?

How to square one truth against another?

I first read Kathryn Harrison’s The Kiss, a memoir of her love affair with her father, this past October. Of course, I had heard about it plenty when it was first published in 1997, but that was a year when I spent most of my energy simply getting by. As I read, I felt compelled to transcribe some of her beautiful sentences. I’m reading them again today, in light of #MeToo, and I wonder if maybe they’ll speak to you too.

“… my rage over always receiving directives disguised as gifts”

“… the dizzy rapture of starving. The power of needing nothing …. live on air, on water, on purity.”

“… I feel too much — I always have — and it’s impossible to live with my heart always breaking, equally impossible to keep myself anesthetized.”

“My father’s possessing me physically seems increasingly to be just that: Each time, he takes a little more of my life; each time, there is less of me left.”

“Is there a way to tell a stranger that once upon a time I fell from grace, I was lost so deeply in a dark wood that I’m afraid I’ll never be safe again?”

In How Our Lives Become Stories, Paul John Eakin declares that “Kathryn Harrison is the author of her younger self.” He notes the apparent disconnect between the identity depicted — “weak, controlled, victimized” — and the writer who crafted her, “strong, controlling, even manipulative.” How do we square the truth of our past selves against the identities we’ve crafted in response?

The Blank Page

My life can become glutted with words. I read breaking news, profiles, analysis, interviews, think pieces, literary criticism, testimonials, scholarship — and yes, also fiction, essays, poetry, discussions of craft. And the more I read, the more I write, taking notes on everything I want to remember, recording the passages that give me goosebumps, in addition to syllabus planning, and research, and my sabbatical goal of 500 words a day (yes, OF COURSE I drop the ball on that one, I mean have you SEEN the news lately?).

It’s a lot.  Some days, it’s too much; words are too much.  I find solace in the blank page — not the page that wants to be filled, but the page that wants to be blank for a while. When language feels overwhelming, I turn to silence, and make blank books and empty boxes, spaces of possibility where I put my faith in the words that I will write some day in the future.  But not right now, when right now feels too noisy, too messy, too much.

Leaps of Faith: Under Water

Leaps of Faith: Under Water

In March, 2017, The Sun Magazine included my flash nonfiction “Under Water” in its “Reader’s Write” column.  The theme?  Leaps of faith.

An audio version of my work was included in a podcast for AIRSLA (Automated Internet Reading Service of Los Angeles, www.airsla.org), a non-profit organization that provides online podcasts of news, information, and entertainment for those who are sight-impaired or reading-impaired.

It’s a lovely rendering of my words (even if my name is mispronounced).  Take a listen; I hope you like it.

© 2018 kathy * writes