July 22nd, 2010 - Mary-Kim Arnold
In July 2010, I am 38 years old, married. I have a daughter who is 14 and a son about to turn 4. I have a job that requires a lot of me and most of the time, I am willing to give it. I say I am writing a novel, but I never really write very much.
July in Providence
We drive down to the beach in the late afternoons. Later, we’ll get clam cakes and chowder from the shack down the road. We’ll get ice cream cones and eat them in the car, let all the doors hang open.
Deep Thoughts from Old Notebooks
Here are notes I was taking on (or very near to) July 22, 2010. These are exact quotes, arranged by topic.
On Work: “Work is going well”
On Social Media: “Facebook is a breeding ground for the circulation of feel-good, superficial stories of triumph of the human spirit, cheapens and exploits the most intimate experiences of what it means to be alive, to struggle with doubt, to decide in the face of one’s own darkness to get out of bed, to put on one’s clothes, to re-enter the world of commerce and competition and to face another day.”
On Birth Control: “The same day I thought fleetingly, as I watched my nearly 4-year-old son play in bed, it might not be bad to have another, is the same day my birth control, an IUD that apparently is not FDA-approved, was recalled.”
On Aging: “a day and a day and a day older — just wanting to bear witness”
On Gardening: “In the backyard, the hostas and astilbes fill out the shade garden. They are beautiful this year, a serene patch to consider amid the tumble and jumble of other plantings.”
On My Teenage Daughter, Staying with My Ex-Husband for the Summer: “How I already miss the lurking silence, a door closing upstairs, eyes cast down to phone and texting madly”
On My Son: “When I hear his small voice, when he says something like I am just messing with you mama, I am filled with warmth, in him a glimpse of possibility, promise that something I have had some part in making can be different from the past, can be light”
On Despair: “What is the nagging sense of despair at the edges of every day”
Notes about My Job That Must Have Meant Something Very Important, But Now, 10 Years Later, Mean Nothing to Me:
“Round 2: Increase community engagement — steering committee?”
“Points of Light initiative”
“Orientation dinner ASAP”
“Then they can monetize reputational capital”
“Problematic relationship between universal and particular: the universal ‘shameful experience’ and the specific ‘shameful experience’”
Partial To do List from July 22, 2010:
Send book recommendations to C____
Send civics info to V____
Email A____ for birthday
Raise issue of existing structures / systems — all broken!
Look into buying imprinted bags
Mary-Kim Arnold is the author of the poetry collection The Fish & The Dove (Noemi Press, 2020) and Litany for the Long Moment (Essay Press, 2018), an experimental memoir of her adoption from Korea. Other writing has appeared in such publications as Conjunctions, Hyperallergic, Poem-a-Day, The Georgia Review, The Denver Quarterly, and The Rumpus, among others. She teaches in the Nonfiction Writing Program at Brown University and in the Newport MFA at Salve Regina University.
From Mary: "My amazing daughter, now nearly 24, has organized a mutual aid fund for Providence queer and trans folks. I encourage you to find and support mutual aid funds in your community. Click here.