CHRIS’S CORNER Welcomes Guest Blogger Dana Talusani: The Judy Blume Project (Part 1)

Last week, I launched a new #FollowFriday-inspired feature called CHRIS’S CORNER. Every Friday, I ceremoniously hand over control of my blog to a special guest whom I feel has a message or expertise of interest to my readers and blog subscribers. In the inaugural edition, author and blogger Carrie Bailey of Peevish Penman introduced herself and shared wonderful advice on what to expect if given the responsibility of being a guest blogger. Seemed an appropriate enough topic, and one met with enthusiasm from readers.

Today, I’m excited to touch upon a very different subject— the impact and legacy that one woman’s work can have on generation after generation of women of all ages, ethnicities, social backgrounds and geographic locations. (No, this blog is not about E.L. James.) Her name is Judy Blume and for most women ages 18 to 50, she has served in any number of prestigious roles, from second mama or big sis to guide, counselor or friend. Her books have reached many of us at a time when trying to understand what was going on within our minds, our hearts and especially our bodies was far more difficult to comprehend than any subject in grade school.

I recently came upon two thoughtful and witty writers who learned of just how far-reaching Blume’s impact has extended and an intriguing and global endeavor they’ve taken on to capture that impact in one loving, affectionate anthology, a love letter of sorts, to an author who has left an indelible impression.

It’s called The Judy Blume Project, and the women behind it are bloggers and writers Dana Talusani and Kim Jorgensen Gane. I even blogged about my discovery of the project earlier in the year. I asked them if they would share the story of how the project evolved and what my friends here reading this blog can possibly do to take part, should they feel a special kinship with Ms. Blume and her legion of fans worldwide.

Here in Part 1, Dana shares the impetus behind the Project. Tomorrow, Kim will share in Part 2 exactly what you can do for a potential opportunity to participate.

You can also follow Dana on Twitter here.

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DanaTalusani

On a warm evening last September, I failed my ten-year old daughter.

Don’t get me wrong—I’ve made mistakes a-plenty since the day she was born—but somehow it always shocks me, this coming up short.

I should have been more present, more prepared. But I wasn’t. I wasn’t prepared on the morning when she shyly asked me to shave her underarms. I wasn’t prepared to discover that there was hair sprouting in other places, too. I wasn’t prepared to see the stretch marks—red, angry tiger stripes—on her budding breasts. I thought I had so much more time.

True, I’d bought her 3 cute sports bras last year and stealthily placed American Girl: The Care and Keeping of You on her nightstand, but for puberty to swoop down and snatch my daughter in her vicious, whirlwind talons seemingly overnight?  Seven kinds of wrong.

I couldn’t decide how to feel…angry or proud or panicked or cheated or sentimental. Turns out, it was all of those things.

So on a September evening, I sat next to my daughter on the front porch, grasping for my bearings, my breath, my words. I didn’t know an elegant way to explain the mechanics of things to a ten-year old and I didn’t expect to bungle it so badly. I didn’t understand that I needed to be okay with her growing up before talking to her about growing up.

She kept her gaze firmly focused on the rabbits scampering in our front yard, squared her jaw,  jiggled her legs staccato-fashion, and did not want to hold my hand.

It hurt when she didn’t want to hold my hand because I really, really wanted to hold hers.

Instead, the hand that I coveted went militantly into the air.

“Mom. Mom. Just stop talking. STOP. Stop talking, okay? I’d rather read about it in the book.”

So I let her go, my little rabbit, back inside to safe territory. I remained on the porch, dug my fingers into my scalp and wept a little. I wept and thought, “Dammit, where is Judy Blume when you need her?”

At that moment, I desperately wanted Judy sitting next to me on that porch, extending her hand. She’d know how to make this all better.

Judy Blume:  Surrogate mother of my generation.  Sparing no detail, she explained the weirdo stuff happening to my body— stuff that I was mortified to broach with my own mother. She made me not so frantic about the roaring in my head and in my heart. She gave me a compass when I was convinced I was lost in the woods. And here I was, a grown woman, fumbling through the woods again; needing guidance.

It took me a few days to lick my wounds before I could write about failing my daughter.  It was a hard and humbling piece to write, and I wrestled with myself before hitting “publish.”  But I did.

I hit publish because it wasn’t just a piece about puberty suckage and my parental failure. It was also a love letter of sorts; a love letter to a woman who meant so much to me in those tender, thundering years. I thought Judy deserved that kind of tribute.

Turns out, a lot of other women agreed. A lot. Almost as soon as I hit that publish button, comments and emails and texts came tumbling in. From women of many nations, of many faiths, of many colors. Women raising their hands in a collective roar of “Me too! Me too! She meant so much….”

I wasn’t necessarily surprised that Judy Blume shaped many women, but I was surprised at the willingness of women to respond and open themselves—many of them women who didn’t know whodahell I was or whatdahell my blog was about or wheredaheck to find me. But it didn’t matter, because none of these women were strangers. We were all connected by the Sisterhood of Judy.

One of these unknown sisters read through the responses/comments on my post and said something to the effect of: “Wouldn’t it be great if *someone* brought all of these voices together? Maybe in anthology form? GOOD LUCK !”

 

Thought #1: Who is this chick?

Thought #2: She is clearly mentally unstable or at least teetering on the ledge, because this idea is crazy.

Thought #3: But what if?

So I emailed Probably Weirdo Crazy Lady.

She responded:

#1. I am Kim and I am a mom and writer who lives in Michigan.

#2. I am only a little mentally unstable. I am a mom, after all. But isn’t life a little richer with a bit of crazy?

#3. What if, indeed. You are onto something here. You should go with it.

Email to Kim: Umm, I don’t think you understand. I am a nervous small dog of a person and just the idea of something this big makes me crackerjackbatshitcrazy.

Email to Dana: I like small dogs. Plus, I am more of a Saint Bernard kind of person, so I can bring you rescue whiskey and carry you on my back down the mountain if you pop crackerjacks.

Email to Kim: Dude, this is not something I can do. I’m a quitter. I am afraid of everything.

Email to Dana: Didn’t you just share a parental  fail on the Internet? You’re not as afraid as you think. This is going to go somewhere. Do it.

Email to Kim: Look man, I’m not going down alone. If I’m gonna fail, I’m taking you with me.

Email to Dana: Let’s Go.

*Some woman* on the internet who just so happened to read my blog and who firmly believes in helping other women to find their voices, their confidence, their bliss and to recognize their true potential, whom I’d never met or talked to in my life, offered her hand and strangely, I found that one hand is sometimes all you need.

One hand. One matchstick can set a fire. 

It took six days. And the Judy Blume Project was born.

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…to be continued tomorrow with Part 2 and how you can get involved with The Judy Blume Project. Stay tuned!

Happy reading!
ck

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12 Comments

  1. […] this first part isn’t shizzle. Not by any means. I am truly excited to be guest posting here for…gulp… award-winning young adult author Chris Kuhn! Her support for The Judy Blume […]

    • Thanks so much for taking part, Dana! Means a lot to me. Excited to share with readers about the project and what you and Kim are doing. 🙂 ~ck

  2. Rescue whiskey should be an option for everyone. I’m so glad to be a part of this (even though I am still working on my submission SHUT UP).

    • Good for you… I still have mine to write, too, and will post here once it’s ready. Maybe Monday? Hmm. Have fun doing it. And thanks for stopping by my blog. Hope you’ll visit often. I do like to have some fun. Nice to meet ya. 😉 ~ ck

    • Arnebya, “still working” is a-ok with me. Because girl, you deliver. Love you.

  3. This is just all kinds of exciting!! Wow! @BlogHerLife last week, Chris Kuhn this week?! This is feeling very real, and we can’t WAIT to see what Arnebya and others have to share about what Judy Blume has meant to them. Thanks SO much, Chris!

    • Absolutely, Kim! Excited about sharing part 2 of the guest blog from you with readers tomorrow, so they can get all of the details about how it works and what they can do! I hope the entries continue pouring in. And thanks for extending the deadline for we slow-pokes out here. Much appreciated! 😉 ~ck

      • We have quite a few cool kids in our corner, eh? Thank you, Chris, for having us. So crazy-good that we met via Judy…ah, who am I kidding? Judy joins us all, but you’re a sista. xo

  4. I’m one of the submitters (submitees??…) and think the idea is incredible, not only as a thank you to JB herself, but as a reminder to us women, especially those with daughters about to hurtle headlong into puberty with all the gangliness of Bambie on Ice, that there is a voice out there which can help navigate those years without the clinicalness (again not sure if thats even a real word!!) of the ‘puberty and me’ books out there.

    Please excuse my blatant inability to formulate sentences with actual punctuation and without making up words on a whim today, its been a long week…..

    • Thanks so much, Lisa, for not only visiting and reading the blog today, but taking the time to comment. You happen to be talking to the Queen of Creative Wordplay, so I love all of the semantic cleverness on display here! 😉 ha Good stuff. And you raise a really good point – where else can we turn without it feeling like one of those gym class documentaries that most of us slept through or giggled about in the back row. Judy gives us the world and our place in it – the way it really is. I’m so happy you love this project as much as I do, and as these two wonderful ladies do. Hope to see your entry – and mine – in the anthology. Fingers crossed for us both…handcrafted vocabulary and all! Lol ~ck

      • LISA! Did you just say, “hurtle headlong into puberty with all the gangliness of Bambie on Ice?”

        Dude. I love you already.

        And Chris, about those gradeschool documentaries–I got a cartoon where the sperm wore a top hot and a bow tie. NO joke.


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