Author: Susan Goldberg

Am I Bullied by the Past

Am I Bullied by the Past? Or Just by My Memories?

In the very early days of Facebook, back when people “poked” each other, I received two friend requests, both from women I’d originally met in Grade 8. Both sent me chatty messages, congratulating me on the arrival of my new baby, commiserating about the trials of integrating newborns into the emotional lives of their toddler siblings, and updating me on their whereabouts, relationships and careers over the previous 20 years. The irony of their sweet messages wasn’t lost on me. In the eighth grade, I’d been the new kid, parachuted across the country from my tiny, all-girls, private-school class in Vancouver, British Columbia, to a public junior high in suburban Toronto. I was awkward, friendless, and scared, all of which was likely noted by the group of girls I half-fell in with. I spent that year in a state of watchfulness, arriving at school each morning wary about how my status in the group might have shifted overnight.  Toward the end of the year, an anonymous, handwritten note appeared in my art folder. The letter, …

The Public Intimacy of Private Ink

Susan Goldberg gets inked. (Photo: Farrah Braniff) Spring came late this year, but I can tell it’s here because all of a sudden people are commenting on my tattoo. I live on the Canadian Shield; I spend at least nine — often 10 — months wrapped in multiple layers. Each year, when it finally gets warm enough to wear a tank top, I forget that much of the general public hasn’t yet seen the typewriter inked onto my right upper arm. It’s like seeing the first robin of the season. “Hey, cool! I love your typewriter!” someone will say at a bar or restaurant or on the street, usually followed up with: “Are you a writer?” And I nod and smile and say, “Thank you” and “Yes.” And then there is a bit more smiling, and I pray inwardly that they won’t next ask, “What do you write?” If you write, then you know there’s no worse question than “What do you write?” Particularly if you happen to be, say, the kind of writer who …