Some of My Recent Writing on Art, Music, Health, and Social Justice

Hi Readers. I’ve been so busy that keeping up with the blog is kind of a tall order. Lately, I have edited a book on a rare gastric disorder, ghostwritten a comedic memoir, and I’m still slogging away on a local history book about the incorporation of Citrus Heights. To keep things fun and to try and maintain my value in the world, I contribute to a few publications about art and social justice. Ah, the life of a freelancer.

So I thought I’d include some short descriptions of some recent pieces and some links for your perusal. For me, art and politics, health and social justice, these things are all of a piece. I’m also a little ADD so I bounce around a lot, which is probably why I have 168 followers on Twitter. I’m writing a YA novel about climate change, did I mention? Anyway, here’s a ‘greatest hits’ of my recent work.

A few months ago, I wrote a feature for Submerge Magazine about political satirist and YouTube doyenne Randy Rainbow. If you don’t know his work, check your pulse. He was a total doll to interview, and he got my daughter and me tickets to the show, which was cathartically hilarious.

In May, Sacramento’s Concert in the Park was lucky enough to have Lyrics Born grace the stage. He’s a multi-faceted hip hop artist who has recently dabbled in comedy, and we had a great conversation about the realities of being a working artist.

Now for the darker stuff. For the last half of 2018, I was knee deep in a project about a dissociative disorder called Pervasive Pregnancy Denial. When you see gratuitous headlines about newborns being found in dumpsters, this is what you are actually witnessing, the culmination of childhood trauma and the psyche’s elastic ability to block out painful information. The US is the only country in the industrialized world that doesn’t have a federal statute recognizing reproductive-related mental health events as mitigating circumstances for these types of crimes. Dame Magazine was bold enough to publish this story, and I’m very grateful for their help in putting this piece together.

Dame also published a piece I wrote called Can the “Wellness” Industry Solve Our Healthcare Crisis? about the failures of conventional medicine and the potential for evidence-based alternative or traditional healing modalities to correct these shortcomings. I also address some of the shitty practices in the multi-billion dollar wellness industry that is disguised as the solution with very little oversight or results. It’s a complicated subject, but really important since so many 2020 candidates are championing #MedicareForAll.

When the documentary Leaving Neverland came out, I was struck by how many people didn’t understand the nature of childhood sexual abuse. The two men who came forward, Wade Robson and James Safechuck had a conversation with Oprah (and praise be to Oprah for doing this because the backlash was extreme) where they discussed the reasons they both came forward. I wrote an open letter to both of them on Medium from the perspective of a trauma-informed yoga teacher.

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In the interests of addressing some of the underpinnings with so many of our social ills, I wrote a more philosophic piece on the nature of violence in the US. It occurs to me that we will not fix our more obvious problems if we don’t learn how to acknowledge our own baked-in rage as a culture.

I’d love to hear from you about anything I’ve published lately. Thanks for taking the time, readers.

Love and Light,

~M.

Evelyne Michaut’s Memoir Rewrites Trauma into a Tour-de-Force

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At the end of 2017, I lost my shitty job and a small miracle occurred. While I feverishly sent out resumes and heard nothing but crickets, a friend introduced me to a woman who had just finished a novel and was in need of an editor. Evelyne Michaut is a French-American mom of two kids living in the Bay Area. We clicked right away.

She was in the process of getting a divorce, her third, actually. Shy about this manuscript, she knew it was time to let some other eyes see it. I braced myself for first-time-writer syndrome, but I was happily surprised at how good she was. The novel was a spec-fiction book with a decidedly matriarchal flavor, but she was struggling with one character in the story – the antagonist.

Halfway through my first read, she contacted me and said, “I think I have to write the real story first.” Then she sent me a stripped down version of her memoir. And this was really where the motherload resided.

Watching Evelyne unfold this memoir was fascinating as a writer and editor, and excruciating as a woman. The Harvey Weinstein allegations had just surfaced, and the #MeToo movement popped like a boil. We had many conversations where we marveled at the timing.

Evelyne was in her 40s when she unearthed a deep gash of sexual trauma in her own background, a childhood scar so horrific that her brain had lovingly plunged the knowledge deep into her subconscious in order to protect her and keep her functioning. This trauma had informed her whole life without her knowing it, manifesting in physical pain and erratic romantic choices.

There was a truly astounding moment when we were discussing the abuse itself and we were trying to figure out how to bring the reader into it without forcing her to relive it gratuitously. I suggested she go back into her journals to see if anything surfaced. Sure enough, decades ago she had recounted dreams, bizarre sexual nightmares she’d had long before the awareness of the trauma surfaced. It was like her young adult mind was trying to tell her in the gentlest way possible, that the scar was still there, weeping.

I had never worked on a project like this before, and I thank God that we met often in real life and relied on video chat to discuss the work. I’d be thinking mechanically about how to best express something and see the expression on her face change. We would bring the conversation away from the text for a moment, and give her some deep breaths before continuing. She is also a very clear communicator who speaks the poetry of spirituality, and so while our metaphysics were very distinct, this gave us a common vocabulary to unpack the narrative.

What Evelyne did took incredible guts. She had to be unapologetic in telling the truth, and this meant saying some unpleasant things about some of the people close to her. She was also able to find humor in really dark places, poke a little fun at herself, “pushing into the cracks,” as Leanoard Cohen would put it.

I was so lucky to work on this book with Evelyne; she took some really fucking rotten lemons and made Beyoncé-grade lemonade. The Goddess Guide to Divorce: a Memoir comes out on Valentine’s Day as a gesture of self-love, and a signal to women and men that healing is the first courageous step in making love possible.