Discover more from Beyond with Jane Ratcliffe
You Look Fine
The Body, Brain, and Books: Eleven Questions with writer Amy Scher
What are you reading now?
I am not reading anything right now. This is rare for me. But I just finished writing my debut YA novel and sent it to my agent; and I basically read it 4 billion times. Does that count? (Recently though, I’ve read Consent by, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz, and Secret History by Donna Tartt. I also read Yellowface by R. F. Kuang—in like two days).
What are your most beloved books from your youth? Did you ever hide any from your parents?
I loved Judy Blume (who doesn’t?). I never hid anything from my parents. I’m a middle child and a Virgo. That would have freaked me out.
What’s your favorite book to reread? Any that helped you through a dark time?
Anything and everything Joan Didion.
What’s an article of clothing that makes you feel most like you?
A summer dress. Everything about me feels better in summer.
What’s the best piece of wisdom you've encountered recently?
I recently listened to the Wiser Than Me podcast with the incredible Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and her guest, Fran Lebowitz, who I’m kind of obsessed with. But Fran said something that really struck me. I’m going to paraphrase but it’s something like “you look fine.” And then she explained that as you get older, you see it was true – that you really still did look fine then. Now maybe not so much. But then, fine. Ha. So I’m going to embrace this age, even though I feel like I’m starting to age: “I look fine.” I don’t want to look back and realize it only once it’s passed. I want to enjoy it now.
Tell me about any special relationship you’ve had with an animal, domestic or wild?
I’ve had so many; particularly senior rescues. I have loved animals from the time I was little. My wife and I have a rescue cat, Stanley, who we got because we thought it would be so sweet to have a cuddly kitten in our home. It was her first pet (at age 35!). But at the adoption center was basically the first and last time he let us pick him up to cuddle him. He’s such a character; so much fun! He talks and has full conversations, he’s always around when I’m teaching my healing or writing classes, and my students all love him. Last year, out of the blue, he started cuddling! It took him 10 years. When he sat on my lap for the first time, my heart (and time) stood still. So the relationship has taught me a lot, I guess. Like that things happen in their own time. And to be more like Stanley – don’t spend life trying to please others.
What's one thing you are happy worked out differently than you expected?
My entire life. I almost died in my 20s. Then I did this last-ditch crazy effort that led me to India for part of my healing journey, and to so many internal places I never imagined I’d have to go. Then, at 30, I met and married a woman … who I’d met in India. At a hospital. (I’d never even dated a woman before). My mind is still blown. Simon and Schuster published my memoir about the incredible experience and the one-and-onlyblurbed it. I couldn’t stop thinking: how is this my life? Most days, I still can’t. On a more somber note, I lost my dad when I was 30. I never imagined how painful it would be to lose a parent. I believe we’re pre-wired to survive it; yet it still feels unsurvivable sometimes, even over a decade later.
Singing in the shower or dancing in the kitchen? Or another favorite way your body expresses itself?
Singing in the kitchen for sure. I’ve always wished I could sing. A few years ago I took singing lessons (after reading that, yes, anyone can learn to sing). I didn’t believe it could happen because my voice was terrible. I was told growing up we all inherited terrible voices … which was not untrue. But I worked with singer-songwriter Susie Wilkins over Zoom and guess what? I learned how to sing. And I was not terrible. I can sing “Here Comes The Sun” by the Beatles (and a few others) well enough to belt it out in front of others. I broke the family curse I think.
What are your hopes for yourself?
I hope I’m always brave enough to be myself. I think it’s the hardest and most important thing in life. And I think it’s a huge part of what keeps you well.
What’s a kindness that changed your life?
When I was debilitated for almost a decade with chronic Lyme disease, a family member sold their car to help pay for my treatment.
What’s a guiding force in your life?
My loved ones who have passed. I still feel connected deeply to them. I believe they are always around watching over and helping me. Probably rolling their eyes sometimes too. But that’s okay, I just want them close.
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Meet me in the comment section
Have you ever learned a new skill (like singing) to break a family curse? Do you have a pet who wouldn’t cuddle you for ten years? How are you going about ‘being yourself’ these days?
Tell me in the comments!