Most of the work I do nowadays involves social media and content marketing.
I still do editorial illustration, however, including some very interesting assignments from The Rumpus, which specializes in artist and writer interviews, offbeat topics, and highly personal essays.
I recently illustrated Writing My Context, by Lyz Lenz. The opening paragraph creates some tension:
The flight attendant drops her wings. They ping on the ground as she walks by checking the cabin before our flight. They are brass and feel heavy in my hands. The pin is bent and pricks my palm as I hide it in my lap. I want to keep them. I am a thirty-two-year-old mother of two children. But right now, I am alone on an airplane from Chicago to Portland, with an overwhelming urge to do something completely out of character.
My trip is an escape. I am on my way to a week-long writers conference. It is a chance to slough off the skin of mother and wife for a week. To be seen as an individual, a writer. To be responsible only for myself.
I sit on the plane holding those brass wings. I want to keep them because I know that in my everyday life, I would never steal them. But in this moment, I want to believe that anything is possible. That I am capable of anything.
The next time the flight attendant comes by, I hand her the fallen wings.
I write in moments that feel like plunging underwater. During naptime, while the baby sings himself to sleep and my daughter plays with her toys…
I write in the afternoons when I turn on the TV, hand out snacks, and put the computer in my lap…
Before I was a mother, I was a writer. Before I wrote about my children, I wrote about books, politics, and sex. No one really read that work. It was rejected a lot. I gave essays to my friends for critiques and they politely handed them back telling me, “It has promise.” Later, when I had my daughter, I still wrote about politics, sex, and books, but I also wrote about her. That was the writing that got published…
I once held fast to the feminist narrative that having children wouldn’t define me. But I know that they have. I didn’t want children to change me, but the reality of my new self is inescapable…
Surely we secrete our secret selves through our skin in ways we do not always recognize. For now, writing my children is writing my body. It’s hard to know where one ends and the other begins…
Parenting books tell me that I ought to draw healthy boundaries between myself and my children. But I once read that cells from the fetus stay inside the mother long after the child is born. Scientists don’t know what those cells do to the mother exactly, but they do know they linger forever in her heart and in her head.
I think again of the flight attendant’s wings. I am glad I gave them back. I return home… I hug my children. I am glad for the week. I am glad to be back. I know I do my best work surrounded by the waffles, the dog-eared pages of feminist theory, bright plastic cars, and silver wands.
Any moms out there? Did any of the above passages strike a chord?
Have you ever been tempted to “steal some wings?” i.e., to do something completely out of character?
Has anyone else used fruit snacks as a sedative?? (Maybe I should keep a few boxes handy for when I’m under pressure to meet a deadline!)
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