Simone Biles, GOAT*

* If you’re not familiar with the acronym GOAT, it stands for “Greatest Of All Time” and is reserved for athletes who have in fact demonstrated they are the most accomplished and excellent in their sport in their contemporary era but also in the eras which came before them.

So, Simone Biles. Legend.

To see more images that demonstrate Ms. Biles’ superiority in her field, please go to https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/kirstenchilstrom/photos-simone-biles-goat.

As you are probably aware by now, Ms. Biles recently excused herself from the Olympic games currently underway in Tokyo in order to care for her own mental health. Some completely useless pundits and politicians ragged on her for it, calling her ugly names and generally disregarding the emotional intelligence of her choice, thereby demonstrating they have no emotional intelligence themselves.

Seriously, you guys? Shut up.

Neither I nor they nor anyone else who isn’t an Olympic athlete has any lived-experience context or understanding of what Ms. Biles has accomplished or gone through or what it took to get her to this point. Neither I nor they nor anyone else who isn’t Ms. Biles has the right to insist what is necessary for her own mental health.

She was already a total icon for her numerous past successes, including four gold medals (and one bronze) in the 2016 Olympics. That in itself — including the extraordinary dedication, drive, and skill needed to reach such an achievement — is impressive enough for anyone, full stop. But now, she has also demonstrated the courage and smarts to say, You know what? I’m maybe putting myself at serious risk** if I don’t take a step back for a moment and CARE FOR MYSELF, too.

And that bravery and clarity is ALSO worthy of our respect, compassion, and admiration. We live in a culture that glorifies running ourselves ragged for bragging rights about nothing good. How often have you heard people humblebrag about how little sleep they got or how crazy-busy they are or how much work they have to do? These are not things to be proud of.

Simone Biles is an icon, a legend, a GOAT, and also a really smart woman. Not only for her medals, but also for her recent (and probably temporary) step back to enact some much-needed self-care. 

I hope all of us are able to choose self-care with such grace and intelligence. (This is very much on my mind as I begin another school year in about a week and as my beloved state, governed apparently by abject imbeciles, rages headlong into a Darwinian fourth surge of collateral-claiming proportions.)

And in case you still want further guidance on how to think about Simone Biles’ recent actions, see this helpful decision tree by Carlos Greaves posted over at McSweeney’s. (And if you don’t still need that guidance, go read Greaves’ piece anyway, just for the laughs.)

And also? This goes for all other athletes (or anyone else) who have the presence of mind to take care of themselves. Like Naomi Osaka, who recently made news and got flak for her good choices, and all the others.

Be well.

** If you don’t know what “the twisties” are, they are real and serious. Please learn about it — which you can do easily by clicking here and also clicking here — before you form an opinion.

 

Women’s Writers Wednesday 9/16/15

This week’s installment comes to us from Mary Lynn Ritch, who has written a response to Gina Tron’s memoir You’re Fine. (You might remember Tron from, among other places, this blog last month, when she herself had a guest post about Amy Jo Burns’ Cinderland in our WWW series.)

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I met Gina a few years ago when we both had essays published about having similar awful high school experiences. Since then, she has become one of my closest friends whom I talk to almost every day. She is also, honestly, one of my favorite writers.

 

When I found out she was writing a book, I knew that I had to buy it because I knew it would be all of three things—manic, crazy, and ultimately hilarious. Her memoir, You’re Fine. published by Papercut Press, is by far one of her most impressive pieces of work about getting lost in the mental health system.

YOU'RE FINE.

 

In all honesty, I’ve read many memoirs by people whom I’ve never met who have stories that I am amazed by because I’ve lived a sheltered life. I know my silver spoon upbringing is the reason why my go-to books are dark memoirs. I usually choose books about hard drug addiction, murder, cults, sexual abuse for the fact that they all spotlight something I’ve never known. The stories never affect me personally other than my being amazed that the writer made it through the other side to live to tell their tale. That was, until I read You’re Fine.

 

The memoir starts off with Tron’s being dropped off at a mental health facility. Her conversation with the cab driver is hilarious and sad at the same time.

 

Throughout the book we learn Gina’s downward spiral into the abyss was triggered by many things, but ultimately due to a rape and the loss of her mother. In the process, she got addicted to cocaine and did a stint at a mental health ward. Tron’s views of the people in her life during that difficult time are without much judgment even though it’s obvious to the reader she was sometimes taken advantage of. Those parts were a bit hard for me to read, and there were times when I had to put the book down because I was so upset people treated her the way that they did.

 

I can’t say that I didn’t enjoy the book. It was captivating from start to finish. My favorite parts included her hilarious interpretations of her crazy dreams as well as her always unfiltered and hysterical take on her surroundings. I absolutely loved this book while learning it’s hard to read a memoir written by someone you care about. This book is for anyone struggling with grief as much as it is for anyone who has survived rape and drug abuse. This book is for anyone needing to figure out what it means to be fine.

***

Mary Lynn Ritch

 

 

 

Mary Lynn Ritch is a writer based out of Atlanta, Georgia.  She has been published in VICE, Ladygunn, and various other publications.

 

 

 

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To see more kinds of reviews like the ones in this series, check out these blogs by Melanie Page and Lynn Kanter. And of course go to the Sappho’s Torque Books page here to see other reviews by me and by other contributors to the Women Writers Wednesday series.

The Women Writers Wednesday series seeks to highlight the contributions of women in literature by featuring excellent literature written by women authors via reviews/responses written by other women authors. If you’d like to be a contributor, wonderful! Leave a comment below or send me an email, tweet, or Facebook message with your idea.