Thursday, November 10, 2005

My First Submission

Okay, so it's not a submission yet. It's an article that needs a query to certain magazines. And the cuss words have to be taken out (not mine, the authors) depending on what publication I submit it to, but it's done. It's been checked off my to-do list and sent to the author for editing. After a week of fighting a cold, scurrying Sophie to Kaiser for a ripped eye cornea, dealing with busted cars, rain and a surprise job orders (long story) , it's a blessing to have this off my mind. And I'm proud of it. I can now sleep in coughy, achy, sneezy peace. My remaining goal: The pilot. I didn't make this Friday's mark, but I'll hit the Thanksgiving draft mark, and then I can get my Girl Scout Badge. And stuff myself silly with turkey. And sleep like the dead. (Oh wait, I have kids. I'll be too busy feeding them turkey to eat it myself. And with my luck, those rugrats won't sleep, which mean I won't either. But I'll still be thankful, because that's how dorky I am.)

Please let me know if this article would make you consider reading this book. Or not. I'm open to suggestions (If you hate it, save it for Monday so I can finish my pilot in a delusional state of accomplishment. Grassy ass)

The article:

Marrit Ingman’s musical tastes range from The Telephone Company (popular among the toilet training crowd) to Nine Inch Nails. She’s an advocate of breast feeding and organic foods. She swills coffee and is a self-proclaimed pie junkie. She’s a devoted wife and mother. Yet when her son was 15 months, she considered driving her car off Highway 183 to get away from the pressures of family life.

Such is the duality of 33-year old author, Marrit Ingman. In her first book, Inconsolable, published by Seal Press, Ingman portrays a dark, disturbing, and real version of her experience with post pardum depression. If Brooke Shields is the Hollywood PPD cover girl, Ingman is the anti-Hollywood mug shot. Raw, raging, and always poignant, one isn’t sure to wash her mouth out with soap or hug her.

Academically educated and schooled by life, Ingman’s writing is at once intimidating and approachable. It’s intense and casual. Not many people can use the words ‘platitudinous’ and ‘bad-ass mama’ in the same sentence, but Ingman rocks it. If Ingman were a baker, her cakes would be fluffy, but the frosting would be black. It’s this darkness, and eventual journey into light, that makes Ingman’s book so compelling.

Inconsolable isn’t a book that sugar coats the post-pardum. There’s no black and white portrait of Ingman on the front cover, looking wistfully away from the camera in classic Herb Ritt’s contemplation. Instead, Ingman shines a glaring spotlight on her mental deterioration. Part Girl scout leader, part crime scene investigator, this author is a no nonsense mama when it comes to telling it like it is – detail by gory detail. Take page 4 as an example: “With PPD, you might feel as if you caused a person to exist and every moment of his or her life is misery. You have made life’s biggest and most irrevocable mistake. You need to get the fuck out of here, and you’ll do whatever you can-you’ll put a gun in your mouth, you’ll cut yourself – to stop the racing thoughts in your head… you are a piece of shit. Killing yourself would be a blessing to your child.”

While the faint of heart might initially cross Inconsolable off their book club list, they might also reconsider switching their coffee to whiskey and giving it another go. What Ingman’s book lack’s in platitudes it gains in reality. And like truth of any kind, this book is real, and one needn’t be afraid. Ingman would be the first to agree that if Woman #1 in the book club never had an ounce of post pardum depression, good for her. She can use this book as a “Thank God that was never me” example. But say Woman #2 had some thoughts about hating herself and her child, but all she had was Woman #1 to talk to? Inconsolable would do a fabulous job of making her not feel so alone.

Of all the insights Ingman has into womens’ many expectations of motherhood, it’s this theme of isolation that seems to rise again and again. In her chapter “The United States of Generica” she states, “I saw all these mothers walking around with their babies in Pope-globe hermetic strollers. I had no idea there were so many other people with children in my town. I’d flag them down, but there’s no place for us to stop and stand, to talk to one another… it concerns me that for so many post-pardum women walking around the mall with the baby is their way to ‘go out.’ Go out and what? Be isolated in public?”

On several occasions, Ingman delves into the concept that while mothers go to places where other mothers are, everyone works so hard to pretend that they aren’t mothers. When she first discovered she was pregnant, she admits she had unrealistic fantasies herself: the Ikea rocker, the baby sling, the cool haircut, and her baby in retro tee shirts. She’d be so cool, no one would even know she was a mom! But life changes, sometimes for the good, sometimes for the bad. And her message is loud and clear: It’s okay. She smirks, “I sure wish I could be sexy or political, though. I wish depressive mothers could have Usenet groups. I wish people would write graphic novels about depressive maternal superheroes who mange to get out of bed and floss and resist suicide.”

While much of Ingman’s novel focuses on dire facts of post pardum depression, it’s her personal anecdotes that keep the reader from feeling like they’re being preached at. There’s laugh out loud passages of play group drinking games. There’s the Leapfrog caterpillar her husband, Jim, programmed to say a certain F word. There’s three pages devoted to categorizing different kinds of mothers, from “The Sunday School Mom: Wears floral-print smock dress. Tends flock; likes ovine metaphors.” There’s the “Free-Market Mom: Wears Nikes and American flag t-shirts made in Pakistan by ‘terrorists’.” And of course, “The Crazy Mother: Wears stained maternity panties and the tiara from her kid’s toybox…My score: HIGH. ‘Nuff said.”

She goes on to conclude that all these categories are for crap. It’s this sectioning off of parents that make motherhood so hard. Instead of tearing each other down to make each other feel better, Ingman encourages women to support each other. Her message: If you want to wear your kid in a sling and eat Vegan, good for you. If you want to shop at Walmart and wear white Keds, go for it. Ingman, who admits she’s critical, is also first to admit that we need to stop being so judgemental and just get on with doing the best we can.

Once in a while, despite the darkness, and despite the rage, Ingman sneaks gentler feelings of motherhood into her memoir. She’s mentally healthy now, and in a passage of rare vulnerability, writes,“In spite of everything, I have fallen in love with my child. When he nurses, he runs his fingers along my other arm and threads them through mine. His hand feels spidery. I tell him, ‘Nose to nose,’ and he leans into my face and presses his nose to mine. We sit like that for several seconds.’

It’s these moments of softness that make Ingman such a forceful writer. Like that feral cat you just can’t trap, she’s wild and unpredictable. You’ll never catch her standing still. But then there’s the rare moments when she eat out of your hand. And you smile at the warmth of it all. But don’t get too close… she might bite ya.

Inconsolable can be found at major book stores, as well as It is distributed by Seal Press.

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