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Blog Crush: Dear Sugar

If you like advice columns (and I think you do) and seriously badass honest writing (and I think you do), you might want to read Dear Sugar.

My favorite recent thing she’s done is this letter to her younger self:

You are not a terrible person for wanting to break up with someone you love. You don’t need a reason to leave. Wanting to leave is enough. Leaving doesn’t mean you’re incapable of real love or that you’ll never love anyone else again. It doesn’t mean you’re morally bankrupt or psychologically demented or a nymphomaniac. It means you wish to change the terms of one particular relationship. That’s all. Be brave enough to break your own heart.

…There are some things you can’t understand yet. Your life will be a great and continuous unfolding. It’s good you’ve worked hard to resolve childhood issues while in your twenties, but understand that what you resolve will need to be resolved again. And again. You will come to know things that can only be known with the wisdom of age and the grace of years. Most of those things will have to do with forgiveness

….One evening you will be rolling around on the wooden floor of your apartment with a man who will tell you he doesn’t have a condom. You will smile in this spunky way that you think is hot and tell him to fuck you anyway. This will be a mistake for which you alone will pay.

…Don’t lament so much about how your career is going to turn out. You don’t have a career. You have a life. Do the work. Keep the faith. Be true blue. You are a writer because you write. Keep writing and quit your bitching. Your book has a birthday. You don’t know what it is yet.

…You cannot convince people to love you. This is an absolute rule. No one will ever give you love because you want him or her to give it. Real love moves freely in both directions. Don’t waste your time on anything else.

…The useless days will add up to something. The shitty waitressing jobs. The hours writing in your journal. The long meandering walks. The hours reading poetry and story collections and novels and dead people’s diaries and wondering about sex and God and whether you should shave under your arms or not. These things are your becoming.

Damn.  Her writing reminds me of one of my favorite poems, that was a manifesto for a long time:

Antilamentation by Dorianne Laux

Regret nothing. Not the cruel novels you read
to the end just to find out who killed the cook.
Not the insipid movies that made you cry in the dark,
in spite of your intelligence, your sophistication.
Not the lover you left quivering in a hotel parking lot,
the one you beat to the punchline, the door, or the one
who left you in your red dress and shoes, the ones
that crimped your toes, don’t regret those.
Not the nights you called god names and cursed
your mother, sunk like a dog in the living room couch,
chewing your nails and crushed by loneliness.
You were meant to inhale those smoky nights
over a bottle of flat beer, to sweep stuck onion rings
across the dirty restaurant floor, to wear the frayed
coat with its loose buttons, its pockets full of struck matches.
You’ve walked those streets a thousand times and still
you end up here. Regret none of it, not one
of the wasted days you wanted to know nothing,
when the lights from the carnival rides
were the only stars you believed in, loving them
for their uselessness, not wanting to be saved.
You’ve traveled this far on the back of every mistake,
ridden in dark-eyed and morose but calm as a house
after the TV set has been pitched out the upstairs
window. Harmless as a broken ax. Emptied
of expectation. Relax. Don’t bother remembering
any of it. Let’s stop here, under the lit sign
on the corner, and watch all the people walk by.

Yeah.  If I don’t start grading things RIGHT THIS MINUTE I’ll end up reading her entire back catalog.

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8 comments
  1. melodie said:

    “Write Like a Motherfucker” was the first column of hers that I read. Of course I was hooked straight away.

    Anyway I think you’re aces as well, and I wanted to thank you for sharing that poem, which I admire quite a bit.

    • JenniferP said:

      I must investigate this “Write Like A Motherfucker” column as soon as possible, I have a strong feeling it is so far up my alley that I basically live in that alley, since that was pretty much my New Year’s Resolution. Thanks for the kind words!

  2. L. said:

    Karen Armstrong’s The Spiral Staircase is written in a very different vein but has a very similar overall theme (your mistakes and meanderings become some of the most important parts of your life). One of my favorites.

    • JenniferP said:

      Thanks for the rec!

  3. Virginia said:

    “You’ve traveled this far on the back of every mistake”

    is a fucking MANTRA.

  4. Marya said:

    Oh, shit. This made me cry.

    • JenniferP said:

      I’m reading through her back catalog, and she is a goddamn genius. I’m glad I didn’t know about her before I started this, or I might never have done it, because her blog is just perfection.

  5. She IS a genius, and I, too, discovered her first when she wrote the “Write like a motherfucker” column (there are mugs that have that on them, and I think I may need one NOW), but since then I’ve read just about everything, and all of it makes me cry and makes me smile and is just so beautifully written. She’s a miracle! And thank you, Captain Awkward, for that poem you included. It’s just beautiful.

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