“The Birthday Present”; Or, Sylvia Plath at 81

Today Sylvia Plath would have been 82. We still have much to learn from her stirring words.

Reflection and Choice

For Linda Wagner-Martin

Sylvia, you were so young.

SylviaPlath_2469087b

If you had lived, you might have been on a television show, with Oprah fawning all over you, cooing about your brilliant career.  You might have been a spokesperson for so many things:  surviving infidelity, channeling betrayal into art, being a grandmother while winning awards for spinning out words.  You would have known something about multitasking. You could have helped others live Their Best Life Now, or something close to it.  You might have been an endowed chair at a university and taught whenever you felt like it.  You might have said things like “I have never felt more alive” and had a line or two about knives and lying to prove your point.

You could have written poems about your tragedies, and how they leave one reeling, but then there is a center, and it holds, and then it is flying, not…

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“The Birthday Present”; Or, Sylvia Plath at 81

For Linda Wagner-Martin

A version of this essay appears in the 11 February 2015 edition of the Gray Matters section of The Houston Chronicle.  Today Sylvia Plath took her own life in 1963.  Here is the link:

http://www.houstonchronicle.com/local/gray-matters/article/A-Birthday-Present-Sylvia-Plath-at-83-6075112.php?t=0c49e2278f79b87a02&cmpid=twitter-premium#/0

Sylvia, you were so young.

SylviaPlath_2469087b

If you had lived, you might have been on a television show, with Oprah fawning all over you, cooing about your brilliant career.  You might have been a spokesperson for so many things:  surviving infidelity, channeling betrayal into art, smiling while winning awards for spinning out words.  You would have known something about multitasking. You could have helped others live Their Best Life Now, or something close to it.  You might have been an endowed chair at a university and taught whenever you felt like it.  You might have said things like “I have never felt more alive” and had a line or two about knives and lying to prove your point.

You could have written poems about your tragedies, and how they leave one reeling, but then there is a center, and it holds, and then it is flying, not reeling.  Similar, but new.  I know you loved Yeats.

Today, Lady Lazarus, you are going viral, again, pictures of you, poems, references to The Bell Jar.  You are a chameleon: pretty, happy, morbid, overwhelmed, on the verge of tears, triumphant.  Everything but old.  You sure could go for the jugular, even when everyone was saying “don’t.” Continue reading

Halloween Is Not Scary.

20121030-140934.jpgThis piece was also run by The Houston Chronicle on 31 October 2014 in the Gray Matters online section…http://www.houstonchronicle.com/local/gray-matters/article/The-truth-is-I-hate-Halloween-5861001.php?cmpid=twitter-premium&t=1189e264dd79b87a02

Although everyone below voting age disagrees with me, the truth is I hate Halloween. It isn’t really a holiday, but still involves an exhausting amount of preparation. If it were a holiday, I guess it would celebrate tooth decay. Candy is ubiquitous, but it never is really very good candy, yet cruelly still contains the same number of excessive calories. Getting dressed for work is in itself sort of an ordeal, so the idea of play acting and dressing up like a character I will never be, or be like, is not that appealing. I don’t want to express my identity issues through something cheap and highly flammable….I would prefer those things to remain a mystery. The only costume I could ever muster up respect for was worn when a friend of mine, who had a last minute invitation to a Halloween party, but alas, no costume, took some white garbage bags and dressed herself in them head to toe. She went as “White Trash.” Now that was clever.

Continue reading