The Huntress

Homesick for Another WorldI’m reading Ottessa Moshfegh’s collection of short stories “Homesick for Another World.” While I had some trouble settling into the stories in the beginning, I’m glad I stumbled across the book at my library. I love it when women write dark, troubled, non-sexy characters–and this book? Yeah. It fits that build.

And then some.

“Homesick” is not a rewarding read in the traditional sense where a story is finished and the reader feels a sense of accomplishment, of closure. Nope. If anything Moshfegh’s strength is leaving you more unsettled, more worried than before. She really is a great writer–even if she is a tough writer to love because her characters are so tough to love.

(Incidentally, I happen to agree with Roxane Gay’s review of this book on Goodreads–the way fat characters are described gets to be too much. Sadistic. Phobic. I also thought the story “Mr. Wu” was problematic.)

I came across this passage, however, in the story “The Surrogate.” And it stopped me as all good passages that touch on our lives in intimate ways do.

“Gigi said, ‘Don’t worry about finding a husband. When the woman is the hunter, she can only see the weak men. All strong men disappear. So you don’t need to hunt, Stephanie Reilly. You can live on a higher level. Just float around and you will find someone. That is how I found Lao Ting. It was as if there were a spotlight on him and he walked on air about two feet off the ground. I saw him from a mile away.'”

Well, I’m here to say, no, Stephanie Reilly, that is terrible advice, as my current single life can attest.

I’m pretty sure I have been floating around for a long time now. Hoping things just somehow work out.

Which is why when a friend of mine suggested that I start dating like a *man in 2019, I thought, yeah, this is good advice. I need to hunt. I need to seek what I want. We all do. Because floating ain’t getting me anything but dark clouds.

Photograph-of-Vivien-Leigh- 1207732_hr
Sure, she’s a fairy, but she looks pretty certain of what she wants.

It’s not that I don’t know that feeling of meeting someone that Gigi describes. That slow-frame pause on a moment. I can still remember the feel of my first love’s handshake when we met. The way he held on, the papery warmth of his palm, his strength, his closeness, his scent. Everything stopped. Everything focused in on him. He didn’t want to let go of me, he told me later.

But first loves are first loves. Most pass. And believe me when I say this: Thank God for that. There have been other moments since then. But none for a long time.

So, Gigi, I’m going hunting.

 

 

*I recognize the stereotype, but if you’ve spent ANY time with online dating, then you will see the stereotype still mostly rings true. Men do a lot of messaging to usually younger women.

 

That’s Nice

Lately, one of my neighbors likes to talk about how nice I am. She sees how well I take care of my elderly cat, and hey, that’s fine, but I can’t help but feel there’s a degree of malice in her pronouncements.

“Oh, you’re so nice.”

Right.

I hate when people say I’m nice. Kind? Sure, I’ll take kind. Though I think kindness implies an action of goodwill, like giving money to the homeless or maybe donating your time to seniors. That sort of thing. And I haven’t done much of that.

But nice? To me, it implies submission, a rule player. The kind of woman who marries the patriarchy and smiles all the way through.

A nice woman is a conformist.

I am not that woman. Never have been. And I’ve had to sacrifice a lot of material comforts because I’m not.

So, hey, don’t call me nice.

The Determinism Apparent in a Series of Unfortunate Events … Or In Spite of.

Dear Reader,

It’s important to be forgiving. It’s important to love the writing process. It’s important to understand this THING … this NOVEL in PROGRESS … is the journey I seek.

It’s also important to realize that writing can be frustrating as fuck.

On Monday, my 50,000 word, self-imposed deadline is about to go whooshing past. Quite frankly with prep for my fall classes and grading and …  well, I’m not going to make the deadline.

I could choose:

A. Screaming at my cursed existence.

B. Screaming, crying, AND cursing.

C. Blaming my cat. Again.*

D. Forgiving myself and getting back to work.

Obviously D. Always D.

I could tell you why this missed writing goal isn’t my fault. See *. But who cares? I need to plow through. Because I have goals. Real goals. I want to start my own writing business. I want my novel published. I want … phew, I’m a Buddhist nightmare.

But whatever. I want. I’m writing.

Now back to work. IN SPITE OF.

 

 

*My cat is the loveliest lemon you’d ever have the privilege of snuggling with if you were lucky enough to meet him.

On my way to work this morning …

I saw a rabbit scampering across the campus lawn, a stripe of white down its side like a lightning bolt.

Still alive. Still here. Still breathing.

Today marks twenty days of … something. I don’t even know what. Poor health, for sure. Something brought on by a virus that morphed my usual autoimmune symptoms into something new, something I’m working my way through.

But I’m getting better.

 

deep breath

the morning dew

glistens

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

Tidying Up Book.jpgClutter is a part of my life. Always has been, probably always will be. I tend to rationalize it, as in I tell myself I’m smart enough not to waste time on unnecessary cleaning. And there is some science to back me up on this. See article here: https://curiousmindmagazine.com/science-says-highly-intelligent-people-messy-profane-night-owls/

So it’s funny that I’ve been wanting to read Marie Kondo’s THE LIFE-CHANGING MAGIC OF TIDYING UP since I first heard of it some years back. Fast forward to about a month ago, I happened to remember the book while searching for a different book at the public library. I put my name on the wait list, and it arrived the other day. (Side note: It’s impressive that there is still a wait list for this book more than two years after publication.)

Books have a way of entering your life at the right time, and Kondo’s is no exception. Lately, I’ve been telling myself I need to get ready for a move, even though I have no idea when or how that will be. I haven’t really wanted to leave Albuquerque. I love the area. The great food, the Sandia Mountains to the east, the volcanoes to the west. It’s just beautiful here. But I need a better job. And I haven’t been making much progress on sending out my memoir. Albuquerque’s been feeling less like home.

Kondo’s method involves chucking anything you own that doesn’t “spark joy.” When I started sorting my clothes first like she recommends, I didn’t think I’d have much to get rid of, and in the scheme of things, I didn’t—certainly not trash bags full like some of her clients. But I did find clothes that I’d force myself to wear in spite of feeling frumpy and old in them. She’s right. Trashing these materials is actually freeing. It’s like a tamer form of Chuck Palahniuk’s blow-up-your-apartment-and-leave method. It feels better to wear something you like and are comfortable in, even if it means wearing the same outfit frequently. While I can’t get rid of every piece of clothing that doesn’t spark joy, a certain income is required for that, I’m more conscious of the clothes I still have.

Over these last days, I’ve been culling more and more stuff, and it’s sorta addicting. Like, what can I get rid of next?!? But then this morning, I noticed a calendar I hung above my writing desk and stopped. My dad’s calendar. It’s one of those free calendars you get in the mail from the Nature Conservancy. I took it from his desk a couple of nights before his funeral. I wanted something of his to hold onto, I told myself, but I think now I was literally trying to stop time. When I hung it up in my apartment, I declared I wouldn’t take it down until I moved out of the city. That’s a lot of mental baggage to hang on yourself, and I realized it needed to go.

But I couldn’t do it.

So I stared at it throughout the day, giving it the beady eye. When I finally took it down this evening, I could feel the frown on my face as I held it. The constriction in my chest. And I missed my father again. I placed it on a chair next to the trash first, and then finally in the trash. Time has moved on. And so must I.

The whole point of this discarding extravaganza is that by ridding yourself of things that don’t make you happy or “spark joy”  you bring about the things you really do want. Hm. An actual writing career? A better paying job? Kondo’s got her work cut out for her. Or, really, I do since she never actually does the sorting for her clients.

Next up on my discard pile: Socks. I have about 30 mismatched pairs. Time to rectify that.

 

 

On Deserving the Purple Chair

I have a new purple chair, which is really an old purple chair, a hand-me-down from a neighbor. She tells me the chair is from a hotel in town, though she doesn’t know which one. It’s a swayback (I think) with those long unfurling arms, and it is incredibly comfortable. The neighbor just says, “Good lumbar support.” I’d agree.

Here’s a picture. I cropped it as close as possible—my apartment is in a STATE right now. As you can probably see, the chair is worn. A lot of tushes have sat in that seat, I’d bet, if what my neighbor said is true.Purple Chair (1)

About fifty eclectic people call my apartment complex home. We’re joined together by a landlord who generally picks tenants who are quiet and stable. A good thing. There are college students, the middle-aged, lots of single hermetic types, (myself?!) and a few older, closer-to-retired-than-not folks. It’s a quiet place, rare for Albuquerque, and even rarer for complexes in general. On the whole, it’s been a good place to live these last four years, though I find myself wanting to leave now for the first time since I moved here. But that’s another post.

A fair number of people in the complex know who I am, and I tend to get a lot of offers for furniture castoffs from neighbors who are moving or redecorating, including the table I’m writing on. (Which is originally from Neil Patrick Harris’s family restaurant in New Mexico before it closed. Provenance!) Sometimes these offers are great, like the chair and table. Other times they’re annoying. When I’ve been offered clearly used mattresses and frames, broken down TVs, electronic gadgets that don’t work, I think, really? What universe made you think I’d dispose of your trash for you?

But my neighbors really know me for my cat, Vincent. Vinny Walking (1)

Vincent and I stroll the neighborhood, aka, the apartment complex courtyard, together most days. Vinny has had a lot of health problems, which my neighbors ask about. He’s in renal failure and we do subq fluids twice a day. When he doesn’t show up in the courtyard for a few days in a row, people worry, ask if he’s all right. And that’s nice. Vinny likes it too.

The thing is: My cat loves people. He has the brain of a cat, but the heart of a dog, and he always tries to walk with whomever comes and goes. When someone ignores him, I admit it, I judge. There’s one guy who always pays Vinny all sorts of attention when his girlfriend is around and then whizzes on past when he’s without her, breaking my little guy’s heart.

At any rate, because people often think of me when moving, I have quite a mismatch of furniture that fits my lifestyle right now. In addition to the chair and table, I have a cornflower blue loveseat with white snowflakes, and a weird 1975 vinyl chair and table set. (Want it? I hope to sell it. It was made by Madison Industries in Kansas, MS. The same place that made Kirk’s captain chair all those years ago.)

And though I am seated on the purple chair as I type this post, the chair is already more Vinny’s than mine. He often jumps up while I’m trying to read and worms behind me, effectively pushing me off.

He looks like this afterwards:purple chair cat.jpg

But I don’t mind. I think to love a cat is to love that part of its personality that owns you. That owns the chair. That owns the simple love of a good life, and an expectation that the good stuff should be yours. A cat knows to deserve the purple chair.