Creatures of the Earth

I am choosing to believe my suddenly poor work ethic is due to the fact that it feels so much like spring outside. They are tapping the sugar maples! In early February! It’s what everyone says when the subject of the bizarre weather comes up, which it does during every interaction with every person. The sugar maples! Did you hear? THE SAP IS RUNNING!! Everyone is horrified. Yesterday the vet said “The sap is running! The birds are singing springtime songs! BABY ANIMALS ARE BEING BORN!” It’s very disturbing and no one likes it, really. Or at first it was something to jokingly pretend you liked but now it’s just scary. Everyone wants a snowstorm but the weather guy keeps saying it ain’t gonna happen. The sap should not be running in the first week of February! The local paper published historical records showing that in 1800 the sap didn’t start running until April. Lord! Lord save us!

Anyway so I am pretending that since my body believes it’s spring that’s why my mind is doing a bad job. I am taking naps and spending 10 hours making a personalized crossword puzzle for my husband and cleaning my house and reorganizing the refrigerator and staring out the window at the spot where I’m going to put my garden and basically I’m just puttering around. I’ll get out my book on Keynesian economics or open up my Word doc with my book proposal and then suddenly it’s 3 hours later and I’m bleaching the shower curtain and listening to the “THAT GIRL IS POISON” spotify playlist of all new jack swing that I found recently and enjoy very much. I am acting like I normally don’t start acting until April. JUST LIKE THE SUGAR MAPLES


So I have to tell you, this Cheryl Mendelson book one of you people told me to get? Is a LIFE-CHANGER. My old man and I are both reading it and we are living our lives now in a different way. Every night after dinner we clean the kitchen, sweep and mop the floor, sweep the bedroom and bathroom floors, and clean the tub/sink/toilet. What? But it only takes 15 minutes! Cheryl Mendelson was right! I wake up feeling like I’m in a goddamn General Foods International Coffee commercial. Everything sparkling clean and covered in Laura Ashley prints. Like Heaven!

Things Cheryl Mendelson has already taught me and I’m only a few chapters in:
- how to do hospital corners
- how to clean a mirror
- how to take care of hardwood floors
- how to do laundry that has “protein stains” on it (gross but real human issue, especially for someone with horrifying night sweats)
- which clothes don’t actually need to be dry cleaned
- what to do during “spring cleaning”
- what order to clean the house in
- have a “reshelving station” where you put books before reshelving them (just like at a library!) instead of leaving 100 books scattered on every flat surface of your home
- air out the bed before making it in the morning
- ideas for how to separate all my different kinds of rags

I love this book. I love its focus on how housekeeping is some of the only unalienated labor still available to us. I love how quietly revolutionary it is. THANK YOU

Now I will go buy a nightgown and a yoga punch card

Pray for America

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Getting Schooled: THE REVENANT

I’ve been once again wonderfully schooled in my comments! I really like how smart and articulate my readers are; I will choose to believe this means I am doing something to attract such people, which reflects well upon me, even though all I did to deserve this particular schooling was declare that The Revenant was “boring.” Hooray! Abe writes in the comments a review of the movie more trenchant and interesting than any professional review of it I have ever read, and certainly more interesting than all the boring-ass dudes in my life who are just popping huge boners about how “brutal” the movie is, just because that bear eats DiCaprio for an hour and a half (sorry, spoiler). Check this shit out (spoilers):

In regards the Revenant: I agree that its very single-minded and turn-free story structure can be dull, but one of the things I liked about it (and which I thought you yourself might enjoy) is its both metaphorical and literal treatment of capitalism as fatal flaw. The strongest part of the film for me was the world, how it was this middle point between wilderness and the beginning of its tarnishing: the easy killing of animals for pelts; that incredible moment outside the camp where natives flock like children in the third world, trying to sell junk and beg for money in a world that didn’t have either a decade before. Part of the pleasure of the movie was how well it recreated a place that seems impossible to access.
I talked with someone who was turned off by the ceaseless revenge driving the story, but I don’t think we’re supposed to see the savagery and careless destruction as a good thing. I think we’re supposed to find it sad, the ruination of a beautiful and spiritually rich world by the wants of men and thirst for wealth/power/revenge/sex etc. It’s supposed to be sickening because it’s about that despoiling. That’s why the final fight between Leo and Tom Hardy is so starkly brutal, just the two of them wrestling, biting each other, ensuring that both of them will die because of this dark lust they both have. If we’re meant to root for Leo, it’s only because we’re complicit in that mutually assured destruction and because we know that ultimately his desired but ultimately already-lost allegiance with a spiritual world is no longer tenable in the seedy reality of capitalism. He wishes he could bring those things back, as Tom Hardy says himself, a little on-the-nose at the end, but knows that they’re forever lost, just like the wilderness.

I’m not too small a man to admit that this extremely insightful and well-written mini-review has pretty much completely turned me around on The Revenant. I definitely had been thinking about capitalism while watching it, but I think about capitalism while watching everything, and I had not developed my dim impression that “it’s about capitalism or something” into anything like a fully-formed view of the film. I took the lazy way out, and didn’t bother thinking hard enough about the film, which is a trait I despise in others and am ashamed to admit I partook in. I left simply feeling exhausted by the movie without interrogating the real source of that exhaustion, which was not Men Being Eaten By Bears Over And Over Again but rather Capitalism, Duh. Because what is a better for capitalism than a man being eaten by a bear a bunch of times? A BEAR MARKET (I’m sorry, I am just kidding at this point)

I love this review so much.

Why does Anthony Lane get paid the big bucks to complain about an actress looking old or having flabby thighs when shit like this gets posted on my blog for free???? CAPITALISM IS BULLSHIT, that’s why

Anyway, keep the schoolings coming, although please don’t be mean. To sum up, thus far I have been usefully schooled on:
- dishwasher management
- The Revenant


I have spent probably 37 hours doing administrative stuff and dealing with administrative emergencies this week and I am heartily sick of it. It is insane that this is a big part of the job! Everyone tells you it is, but you don’t pay any attention, you just think they are complaining and dumb. Cut to: you get a job, and suddenly you’re sitting in a full faculty meeting in which you are voting on whether to amend the wording of the proposed amendment to the proposed amendment, and you look at the ensemble conductor sitting next to you and you both just stare into each others’ eyes like, how is this my life! It is hilarious to me how many things I do in the daily course of my job that I have absolutely no training in and no way of knowing how to do. It’s fun! Just think, in only one year I have learned so much about paperwork!

It is very cool how after the entire first week of classes is already over, you get 20 emails from business majors telling you they are “interested” in your class and could you please tell them what the workload is. LOL! News flash kid, this class filled up back in March and you really should not be just now expressing interest in a class that has already met twice and had an assignment due! And no, I won’t be detailing the workload to you, lazybones. LORD. If you have to ask, then it’s already too much work, I promise you. I will confess that writing brusque emails to business majors is one of the many pleasures of this job, I’m not made of stone.

My beautiful husband finally built me the bookshelves he’s been promising to build me for almost ten years. The wait was worth it, as they are amazing and glorious. They have completely transformed my office into a heaven-upon-earth. I can sit at my desk and be surrounded by all my materials; my bust of Beethoven finally has a home; there is even a place to jam all my cords down behind the filing cabinet so that it doesn’t look like a nightmare back there. I am so happy. Best husband in town!

The best movie I have seen in year is FORCE MAJEUR, please do yourself a favor. We talked about it for 3 hours and I still have more thoughts about it.

Okay I have to go now because I have to listen to like twelve symphonies by tomorrow afternoon

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Mariah Blow My Love To Me I Need My Gal Beside Me

A way up here, they got a name
for rain and wind and fire
the rain is jack, the fire is tess
but they call the wind mariah

You guys good lord! The wind blew up in the night, just as my weather app predicted it would. The kind of wind that cuts through every layer of clothing and into the marrow of your bones. The kind of wind that howls and moans around the corners of the house. The kind of wind that made frontier women go bananas and murder all their children.

The wind woke me up in the dead of night and I lay there wide-eyed, worrying that this terrible town council vice president we just elected will finally succeed in his ten-year quest to bring Wal-Mart to this town. Finally I got up. I decided braving the wind and the 20 degree temperature to get to the coffee shop would be good for me, in terms of walking through the fire to make myself do some work. Here is what I did in order to get to the coffee shop:
- get dressed in normal clothes
- put on wool hat
- put on wool hooded medieval-looking thing that goes over my head and down around my shoulders
- wrap wool scarf three times around the whole shebang
- heave myself into enormous heavy hooded knee-length wool coat that I got for $5 at Goodwill even though it was brand new and from J Crew. This is the best coat I have ever owned. Warmer than any parka, and voluminous enough to wear the thickest sweater beneath. Getting into it reminded me of the bear skin DiCaprio is swaddled in for much of The Revenant, a movie we drove to Vermont to see and which, spoiler alert/shocking news: I thought was boring!!! I’m as surprised as you are. I just kept thinking “Lord, what’s the point.” Then a drunk teen got up right during the scene where you-know-who does the inciting incident and DiCap is yelling and frothing at the mouth, and the drunk teen tried to go out the door but then keeled over flat on his back and just lay there with his feet propping open the exit door with light streaming in, and a bunch of bemused grownups sort of went over and heeled him upright and he sheepishly left. Later we were like, it is sort of emo that we all assumed he was a drunk teen–maybe he was someone going into diabetic shock or something, I don’t know. Being a teen is like living constantly in a boy-who-cried-wolf state. Everyone around you just constantly rolls their eyes. Oh suuuure, you’re having a seizure, riiiiight, run along sonny
- put on my huge wool mittens
- struggle the 20 minute walk to the coffee shop
- take off the mittens; shrug off the bearskin cloak; unwind the scarf; heave the medieval hood thing off my body; take off the wool cap; stuff it all under the table

Since this is a small town we are becoming regulars at various places. Everyone here is so nice and open to chatting. The coffee shop lady and I have been having a conversation about expanding your palate that has lasted several weeks. Today I bravely ordered light roast and said I still prefer dark roast even though I know it’s embarrassing. She said you should never be embarrassed about what you prefer. Then she tasted the dark roast and made a face and threw the rest of it into the sink and said “I JUST CAN’T DO IT”

We are also regulars at the amazing bar down the street, where you can bring in food and dogs. One night we went in there and a huge husky was frantically chewing up the festive spruce logs that had been put in the window for decoration, and everyone was laughing about it. They sometimes put a tv on the bar and play shit like Twin Peaks Season 2 on mute with no close-captioning. They play full albums only, but if you are having a conversation about music you loved in middle school and you yell for them to put on “Angel of Music” from Phantom of the Opera they’ll do it. They have a club where if you try 100 new things within a year you get a mug. This is how I finally tasted a “bitter,” like what David Brent drinks. It was okay. Anyway we go there and play Settlers of Catan with our 25 year old friends.

We are also getting to know several local dogs by name. “Hey Chewy,” we might say, while walking down the street. “Is that Franklin!” somebody yelled the other day at the park. Or you might see a dog you know but he’s with a person you don’t know, and you go “Hey, what are you doing with Jack??”

Everyone is coming into this coffee shop wrapped in various equivalents of DiCaprio’s bearskin.

Last night I was so excited to tell my old man about an article I read about steam heat, which I knew he would love, and I told him all about it and he did love it. STEAM HEAT. For example, did you know the entire Empire State Building is heated with only 1.5 pounds of steam pressure? And its heating system is like 100 years old. Steam heat! A legitimate engineering miracle! It was invented in 1850 and is still the way to go, as far as I’m concerned. And systems installed in 1850 are still functioning just fine today. Come on! The greatest inventions of mankind:
- bread
- large wine
- Leuchsturm notebooks
- steam heat

Okay money where my mouth is time, lets get to work!

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