read Aimee Bender’s “The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake” in one day–1.5 sittings, one long overnight marathon that consumed me until 4am. it broke me into pieces–the 8-year-old emotional wunderkind, a mother who needed mothering. it made me feel real, made me wonder if she grew up like me.

i have a particular fondness for the name Rose because of Doctor Who. it was the way her name was uttered in those series, wonder and longing.

been thinking about the particular pathos of emotionally precocious children. there is no “don’t grow up too fast” and “aren’t you a special kid” for their particular brand of intelligence. only “don’t be silly” for the unhappiness we sense and the intangibility of burdens we don’t know how to carry.

i was a smart kid, very smart. but i wasn’t “the smart one,” because that title had already been claimed by the eldest.

Bender is all lit fic and magical realism and delicate hearts. improbable to the modern American aesthetic. she is a literary paradox that makes me feel a little safer in this world.

i’m out of my element in my new field of study. it’s a daily bruising of ego to be in class, a bath of inadequacy. i dash myself to pieces trying to catch up, trying to be like them, wilting into an insecure, impoverished version of myself. i forget who i am. i need these thoughtful, delicious, artful books as reminders.

life belongs to the observant.

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