Look! A Real Person!

Alice Adeline Cooke, in her mugshot, after being convicted of bigamy and theft. Nice!


I love human beings. Not necessarily individual ones, like to talk to, in person, but to watch, to admire, to experience, say, on a subway car full of them. Or to look at pictures of them, in their lives. Like Alice, above, not looking the least bit contrite (being a blogger makes things like vintage mugshot fun somehow a reasonable way to spend 15 minutes).

And so imagine my delight when I wrote to Ms. Corrine Purtill, of Salon fame, and she actually wrote me back.

This is what I wrote:

Hi  Ms. Purtill:

I am sure (I hope!) your inbox is overflowing with praise this morning after your wonderful piece appeared in Salon. I can’t tell you how encouraged and inspired I feel. And not alone! Thank  you, thank you.

I have been dealing with the same brass ring demon for some time and just started a blog because I was so tired of checking to see if my agent had written her your-life-is-about-to-change email yet. So I must share it with you: www.isthismychair.com. The first post will look familiar, as I just posted your piece.

Also, you mentioned your child vomiting on you, and as the mother of a 6 year old, I get it. I have been writing a column about being a (Buddhist) mom since my daughter was 6 months in a Hudson Valley arts magazine. The column is called Flowers Fall: Field Notes from a Buddhist Mom’s Experimental Life (http://www.chronogram.com/user/profile/bethanysaltman). But there is one piece I wrote, when the column was a still a magazine-sponsored blog, that I remembered after reading your lovely piece………http://www.chronogram.com/blogs/Flowers-Fall/show/Who-Needs-a-Toilet-When-Mommy-s-Here.

Anyway, I am sorry for shamelessly promoting my own writing  here….trust me, it’s because I feel so share-y, not because I am hoping you will make  me famous.

I hope  this finds  you well in London!


And this is what she wrote:


Hello Bethany,

Thank you so much for your kind email, and apologies for this delayed reply! I am really glad you liked the piece. We spend so much time alone with our thoughts as writers that we can forget how many kindred spirits are out there at their desks plowing through drafts and feeling the same way. Thank you for pointing me to your column. It’s great. I am going to share it with another Buddhist writer mom friend who I think will love it.

Also, this piece of advice may have just changed my life:

“You should always,” he said, “always be able to give your kids the look [which he then demonstrated, his soft brown eyes widening, bulging, bearing down], to get them to stop whatever bullshit they’re about to do.”


Thank you again for reading the essay and for such kind words. All the best to you and good luck with your writing!


I then wrote again:

Hi Corrine.

Thank you so much for your response. Have you gotten a lot of great
feedback? (A book deal:)?

If it’s ok with you, I would like to post our correspondence on my
blog (www.isthismychair.com). I put the Salon piece on there and have
been posting about wanting to reach out to people I find interesting,
and you actually responded, so I wanted to share it.

And I am so glad you liked the column and Daido’s advice. A goodie
alright! And boy, so far (my daughter is only 6), so good!

How old is your youngun?

Take care,


And she wrote again:

Hello Bethany,

My young’un is 16 months old. It’s a fun age, but exhausting! Everyone told me it gets better and better, and so far I’ve been pleased to find it true.

Feel free to post our correspondence. Hearing from other writers since the essay came out has been an unexpected and wonderful experience. Thanks again for reading it.

All the best,


I think this bodes well for my future, and yours, too, Dear Reader numbers 1-250, according to Stat Counter (I know some of you are robots, but hey). Talking to humans is fun. Especially from a distance.

(PS: I have started Ms. Heti’s book, and she will be hearing from me soon!)