I always thought RALPH stood for the "Royal Association for the Longevity and Preservation of 'The Honeymooners,'" a fan group here in New York that was established when Channel 11 decided to stop showing reruns.

Was I mistaken?

I would be honored by your reply.

--- Joel Friedland

Dear Joel:

Like love, the name RALPH means many things to many people.

If it speaks to you of Ralph Kramden and a television program that ceased to exist some fifty years ago, that is exactly as it should be. That's what you want so it's what we want too.

However, we should also like to remind you that names are just names. Thus, a Buddhist master might ask you, "Who were you before you were Joel Friedland?"

--- Lolita Lark

Subject: Thanks to the Uterus


Thanks to a poem about a uterus, I have discovered RALPH.

One of the e-mailing lists I am on is about shopping at thrift stores, and for some strange reason, one of the members decided to post Lucille Clifton's poem called 'Poem to My Uterus.' It was a good poem, and it reminded me of another poem about growing old that had appeared in a past issue of The Fessenden Review about 15 years ago.

So I spent an hour or so, going through my past issues of Fessenden Review, trying to locate this poem. I did finally find it --- it was by Sue Saniel Elkind, and the final line is about gnarled fingers leaving marks of passion on her lover's back.

I discovered Fessenden Review fairly late --- I think I subscribed, and then the magazine soon folded. Fortunately, one of the wiser things I had done in my life was to send for a complete set of back issues, which provided me with great pleasure --- enough so that I have kept all of those past issues.

Today was a slow day at work, so I was cruising the web, and decided to enter Fessenden Review to see what I could find, and was greatly surprised to find the website for RALPH. Anyway, to make a long story short, I've decided that I will send you a check for $25, so that I can be added to the RALPH mailing list.

By the way, I remember that when the Fessenden Review folded, the subscribers were offered many options to finalize things. I believe one of the options was a partial subscription to The Sun. It took a while, but I eventually started receiving my Sun issues, and now the Sun is my favorite magazine. Thanks for prodding me a bit to subscribe to it.

Also, there are a very small number of magazines that I have sent away for back issues. They are The Fessenden Review, Coevolution/Whole Earth Review, The Sun, and Gnosis. I'm not just some sluttish reader willing to send money for any old magazines --- I only do this for magazines of high quality that really speak to my heart, the ones that will respect me in the morning when I stay up way too late into the night reading from their pages.

All the above is a way to say "Thank You So Much" for finding some way of continuing the spirit of Fessenden Review, and also to tell you that a check will soon be on its way to you.

Respectfully (if you're ever in the Lorton, VA area, I'll cook breakfast for you),

--- Vern Stoltz

Dear Ralph:

     I hope I am directing this to the correct person, but if I'm not, it's best you heard this anyway. I am replying to the review on Wasted by Marya Hornbacher.

      I found the review a little less than reassuring or hopeful. It seems like the person who edited needs to seriously read (and perhaps review) something by Peggy Claude-Pierre.

      I will have that harsh, hateful anorexic voice in my head for the rest of my life. People with eating disorders feel like they don't have the voice to speak out about their inner pain and struggles, so they use their bodies--like a painters canvas, only it backfires because people pay attention to their bodies, and not their feeling.

     And I suppose I did want a little attention... it comes from the desire to look like those emaciated bodies... it comes from the inability to express my pain and anger verbally and instead attempt to express it with my physical appearance.  

         On all of those bodies there is visible pain, anger, distrust, self-hate, depression, anxiety, and other dark emotions that are difficult to deal with and express in any way. Here it is etched into the skin, so the outside world can see it.

      That is what my anorexia craved and attempted to build... I never "pleased" that voice entirely, as I never reached such an extreme low weight that anyone would ever stop to notice. This frustrated me and the anorexia within. I wanted to be those figures because that is how badly I felt inside and I wanted that to be visible.

      And I was/am frustrated that I never "achieved" the very emaciated body, because my pain was as real as those bodies' bones are, and my self-hate was as extreme as their weights, and my demanding anorexic daily diet was as painful as the victims of concentration camps appeared.

      Some bodies respond to starving faster than others, some anorexic's weights are more alarming than others, but what I learned since my college days is that it does not matter. .Anorexia, bulimia, and compulsive eating are real.

      Very, very, harshly real for the people who practice them, regardless of whether that is evident in their figures. You need not to get to a ghostly ghastly weight to be in serious trouble and serious pain. You need not to be "qualified" for the media's flare for drama to be in drastic need of help, support, love, and nutrition.

      My body, though not as thin as some anorexics, was dying just the same.

--- Anon

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