HI babes. Get a snack.
If you don’t know Jen I am so happy to introduce you to her. I’m not completely sure how our paths crossed but, she is one of the most giving, Jen Pastiloff is the founder of one of my favorite lit sites The Manifest Station and if you’ve been here a while, you might remember she published an essay of mine about my mental health (TW it is a lot of issues) and treated me with such love and dignity. That particular piece was one that I could not for the life of me sell in any form and she was so kind in her treatment of it.
Jen is, the antidote to the sort of shiny, BE POSI all the time Mommyness, yoga doing, life living thing. Y’all know I am purely allergic to both bullshit and aggressive positivity and Jen gives me a person who reflects how I want to talk to myself. Y’all know what I’m saying? She speaks my language. When I see her post, don’t be an asshole followed with how she’s being an asshole to herself, and to stop I feel seen and heard.
Jen is a relentlessly loving person. A real person who wears some really bomb lash extensions and has a lovely family and chunky biscuit baby whoms
What’s your name/pen name.
“Ugh, why is this always so hard? Let’s see: I can’t hear without my hearing aids so that is kind of annoying. I have terrible tinnitus (ringing in my ears) 24/7 so I have a high tolerance for getting used to things, as well as pain. This is not always a good thing. I stayed at the same waitressing job for almost 14 years in Hollywood because I “”was used to it.”” I stayed in an abusive relationship for 2 years because I was “”used to it.”” You get the point.
I have a fear of dentists. I watch too much Netflix (thank God for subtitles and blue-tooth hearing aids), I drink way too much coffee and wine, I have a 2.5 year old who is the love of my life and also a high pain in the ass. I live in a one bedroom apartment and share a bed with my husband and son and my dream is to have another bedroom and a washer and drier. Really, those are my dreams. Oh: also finding a cure for Prader Willi Syndrome, which is the rare genetic disorder my nephew Blaise has. It manifests itself in many hideous ways but the worst is that it makes the person feel starving all the time. Like, he could literally eat himself to death. It’s straight out of a science fiction film. Fuck Prader Willi.
I went to NYU but took a semester off after junior year and that turned into… what year is it? So yea, I am a college dropout. And I have a memoir publishing June 4 from Dutton Books. No, I am not suggesting you drop out of college but for the love of coffee, sometimes our paths are crooked. Maybe college is not for everyone. Maybe the person I am is because I did not finish? Who’s to say?
I am saying this: Embrace the not knowing. You have no idea where life will take you or what will happen. The sooner you accept this, the happier (slightly happier, at least) you will be.
I post a lot on instagram at @jenpastiloff. Especially with the hashtags #realmotherfuckinglife and #nopantssunday which are exactly what they sound like.
I like being real and pantlessless.
I think Lidia Yuknvaitch is a fucking goddess. I lead workshops with her called Writing & The Body and it has changed me to my core. In the best possible way.
I don’t sleep with my hearing aids in so mornings and the middle of night are hilarious. “”What? What did you say? Mommy doesn’t have hearing aids in.”” I 99% mishear what you are saying, even with my hearing aids in, and usually what I hear is way funnier.
My father died when I was 8. He was my entire world. It messed me up real good but I turned out okay. Also; I wrote a book about it one million years later, so there is that.
I believe we get to change our minds about who we are and what we want, despite what the world (or our own Inner Asshole has told us.) \Ugh, I curse a lot.
My motto is “”Don’t be an asshole”” but I believe we are all sometimes assholes. Because: humans.
Sometimes I feel like a walking dead person. Less than I used to, but still. Sometimes I do.
I take anti-depressants. I teach yoga. I lead workshops around the world that I made up where I encourage people to become free and give less fucks what anyone else thinks. I love what I do.
I give away more than I have. I don’t mind that.
How do you like to work? Do you need your workspace to be any particular way?
I need quiet, which is hilarious because I am deaf. No, I was not born deaf. I am not Deaf with a capital “D.” I just get distracted easily so I can’t have noise (besides the ringing in my head.) That is the only thing I need. I need to be surrounded with books or mementos or photos. Things that inspire me, remind me who I am, make me feel grounded. Books do that. They make me feel less lonely. I feel like they whisper to me, “Go on, girl. You got this.” I know it’s corny but I do. My favorite words are “I got you” and I need things around me to remind me of that sentiment. My other faves are: It’s going to be okay. Basically, I need to feel that to write. I have no system. No routine. No high demands. I can’t even type. But, I get it done. Which is again to say: you do you. You do not need to fit inside any kind of box. I call it the “just-a’box.” I am just a waitress, just a mom, just a yoga teacher. Barf in my mouth. You (and me) are not JUST an anything nor do we fit inside a box. Make up your own damn rules.
Who are your favorite artists or authors?
“You, Shannon Barber. Truly. Your poetry. Lidia Yuknavitch. Roxane Gay. George Saunders. Cheryl Strayed. Sam Irby. Emily Rapp Black. Rene Denfeld. Alice Anderson. Naomi Shihab Nye. Toni Morrison. Jesmyn Ward. Alexander Chee. Claudia Rankine. Marlon James. Christa Parravani. Rumi. Stephen Dunn. Stanley Kunitz. Liz Gilbert. Zadie Smith. Brenda Shaughnessy, Miriam (Mimi) Feldman (paintinga and her writing!!) Megan Stielstra. Elizabeth Crane. Rob Roberge. Gina Frangello. Paul Auster. Virginia Woolf. Annie Dillard. Maya Angelou. Jess Walter. Jeanette Winterson. Tana French. Kate Atkinson. Omg- this is so hard. I could go on and on. Hold on, let me get more coffee.
Sylvia Plath. Caroline Knapp. Hanya Yanagihara. Margaret Atwood. Leslie Jamison. Nicole Krauss. patti Smith. Joan Didion. Alice Walker. Judy Blume. On and on…. ”
Do you have any memories of the first piece of art or literature that really moved you?
My first thought is Judy Blume. The first real book I ever read as a teeny kid was “Forever.” It was full of sex. I loved it. I hid in my room behind my bed and read it in 2 days. It was before my dad died so those memories are hardwired into my DNA. I have a deep love of Judy Blume. Hi, Judy! You make the best art. You inspired me as a small human to write and look at me now. It’s your fault! Also, you named a penis Ralph in your book and that still makes me laugh. Ralph!
What makes you ridiculously happy?
“My son’s laughter. Napping in the middle of the fucking day. My fake ass eyelashes. Finishing something I am proud to have written. Leading my On Being Human workshops. A book I cannot book down. When my husband brings me coffee in bed (he does this every day. Not to brag, but, okay, I am bragging.)
A show I cannot stop watching (I am a binger to the core!) When there is no traffic in LA, which is basically like two days a year (Christmas and Jan 1.), Italian food in Italy, Paris, light coming through a window. The idea of my own washer and dryer! The handmade “”don’t be an asshole’ and “”don’t should all over yourself”” mugs someone made and mailed me. They are just just so stinkin’ cute! I can’t even make chicken and someone made me these!”
Do you still feel awe? If so what fills you full of it? If not, tell me.
“All the time. I call it “”beauty hunting.”” My son’s awe fills me with awe. Watching his toddler brain process something. Last night i was working on this interview at my computer and he comes over and says, “”It’s not time for work. It’s bedtime.”” He was right. I closed the computer and cuddled with him. My 2 year old is teaching me boundaries.
Nature brings me to my knees. I am no Mary Oliver, but, my God, look at the sky. It’s breathtaking. How do we get to live in the world? Look what it does.
Honestly, wifi while I am flying. Utter awe. I am just dumbstruck. Like: how can I text you on your couch while I am high in the clouds above Cleveland? My hearing aids. Sometimes just the shock of sound when I put them back in brings me to tears. Anti-depressants. Look dudes, I probably still wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for them so that is all sorts of awe-inspiring.
What happens in my workshops. Transformation, connection, lifetime friendship, fear gets told to buzz off, people find their voices, change their minds, allow themselves to be held, listen to other people in ways they maybe never had. I can’t believe I get to do this and IF I EVER STOP BEING ASTONISHED I WILL BE DEAD.”
Free for all: Tell me something good. (Yes I did just quote Chaka Khan at you)
“Well, I recently started lifting weights and I feel really great. I remember when I was nearly dying from anorexia, if someone said that I looked “”strong”” or “”healthy”” I would have a literal panic attack. Now, I soar. It’s a tangible feeling of growth. I don’t think we necessarily “”overcome”” things or “”get over them”” but we learn how to live so that they are not controlling us, so that we are able to find slivers of happiness, or awe, as you aptly put it. I have bad days but the majority are good.
I am part of something SHAPE magazine is launching called WOMEN RUN THE WORLD and I will be featured in the June 2019 issue. I sold my book in The UK to John Murray (Hachette UK .) I have clean sheets as opposed to cookie crumb sheets (I sleep with a toddler.) I have a retreat coming up to France and the day after I return from Europe, my book launches. That is actually good, or very, very bad. Hashtag jet lag.
We are closer to 2020 when we can vote the evil cheeto out of office.
I no longer care (as much) what other people think.
Something else good? Here’s the good news: I know it feels sometimes like there isn’t enough room (for you, for me, for all of us) but there is. That€™s a lie. That€™s a bullshit story-as I call it.
Sometimes it may feel like about she got there first & SO WHAT IF SHE DID? There’s room for all of our stories, voices, creations.
If you get sucked into that spiral of Not Enoughness “you won’t create. You’ll think â what’s the point?
The point is YOU. You are the point. There’s no other you.
It’s not a cliche. Or it is, but for good reason.
I lived in the Land of Lack for years but I escaped! Not unscathed: I have moments where I slip back.
But I remind myself that there’s room! And I surround myself with people who remind me, who lift me up, who make me see THE ROOM I WAS INSISTENT ON DENYING THE EXISTENCE OF. Find those people. Do your thing. We need you. Don’t be an asshole & hide. Tattoo this on your heart: THERE IS ROOM FOR ME.
your inner a-hole will try & trick you & tell you that it’s too late. It’s been done, there’s too many ______ (whatevs your blank is), you’re too old, too fat, too sad, too single, too smart, too dumb, too open, too potty-mouthed….WHATEVER THE F! It’s a dirty trick. Don’t listen. There’s room There’s room There’s room There’s room There’s room. MAKE ROOM FOR YOURSELF. We need you.
“I have a workshop coming up in NYC March 16. PDX with Lidia Yuknavitch april 5-7, Ft Worth April 27, France May 25-June 1, London June 2, Book launch at Skylight Books in LA with Lidia June 4, Powells in PDX with Lidia June 7, DC July 14, Malaprops Books in Asheville July 16, Kripalu in Massachusetts July 19-21, Philly Aug 24. All info at jenniferpastiloff.com. Or go here https://www.jenniferpastiloff.com/events
Preorders are so important. And, if you send proof of purchase by Feb 28 you get a gift. order wherever you like and submit proof here https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfOG-KBufmq-DE5t7NnUekkOi0enMt_Dld_5sSNhICW9xZguA/viewform. Thanks for preordering. It truly means the world. I got you, too.
I have a scholarship fund for a woman who has lost a child called The Aleksander Fund https://www.themanifeststation.net/2016/10/17/aleksander-scholarship-fund/. I run a literary magazine with Angela Giles called The Manifest-Station https://www.themanifeststation.net.
Besides my own instagram at @jenpastiloff I also have @nobullshitmotherhood and @GPowerYouAreEnough.
More info here https://www.jenniferpastiloff.com/onbeinghuman”
AND y’alls I’m serious. You see why I love her.