Snapshots From An Offline Life

What’s up bros????????

A lot has been going on, but as usual most of it is too boring to bother telling anybody about. I don’t find it boring but I recognize that it mostly is boring to others. For example: I got a book contract FINALLY!! But when I tell people and then they ask me “oh what’s your book about?” in my brain I’m just like “say as few sentences as possible” but no matter how few sentences I use I can still see the person’s eyes glaze over. It’s crazy that capitalism is destroying our world but when somebody writes a book about it it’s impossible to make it sound interesting. I need to work on this.

But anyway, I got a book contract. My experience with peer review was unusually agonized and protracted, delayed by stuff totally outside of my control, which was very challenging for me. Whenever the ball is in my court I am FINE. I loved writing the book, I loved revising the book, I do these things quickly and with pleasure. But waiting as month after month after month after month dragged by and nobody knew what was going on or why the one reviewer was so late…as the date my tenure file is due draws nearer and nearer. I feel you can see in my face that I have aged unnaturally quickly because of it all. Five months of interrupted sleep, nightmares, and constant all-day obsession are not good for one’s skin. Literally my husband told me “what’s wrong with you, you look crazy” and when I said “what do you mean??” he said “you’ve got intense bags under your eyes and your eyes look weird.” My human husband said that to me, to my face.

It is obviously not important in the grand scheme of things, but we are all just dealing with what’s in front of us. When the final report finally came in and the editor told me to “celebrate!” I burst into tears and cried in my husband’s arms and wailed some embarrassing things. We immediately went to the Game Stop and bought a Nintendo Switch so I could play the new Zelda and that’s what I’ve been doing ever since (joke (sort of))

I really believe in peer review. When people take it seriously it’s amazing and powerful. It is also excruciating and nerve-wracking. Them’s the breaks!

Other things going on:

I joined an 80s style gym, by which I mean it is pretty basic and run-down and full of old ladies, like the gyms I grew up waiting around for my mother in. I’ve definitely fallen into that middle aged rut where you are perpetually joining gyms and getting excited about finally starting to regularly exercise again and then four months later you realize you failed and have to start over. BUT THIS TIME IT’S GONNA BE DIFFERENT ha ha ha. Specifically I want to go to aerobics classes constantly, every day of the week if I can. It is so much fun. Taking a Zumba class with a bunch of old New England ladies dancing to out-of-date hip hop. Sign me up! So far I’ve gone every day for one week. We’ll see what happens. I’m also obviously doing that middle aged thing where you’re like “look at all these old ladies, ha ha” and then you realize they’re probably like six years older than you. Look upon my works ye mighty and despair

I pickled garlic scapes

I grew a ton of stuff in my garden

I hate the cherry tomatoes I chose to plant this year. Fuck this variety; never again I say. And I mentioned this to my friend who is a farmer and her face grew thunderous when she heard what variety I’d planted and she yelled oh FUCK that shit. Whoever invented this variety is truly a monster; I think his name is “Matt” because the variety is called “Matt’s Wild.” Word to the wise. They may be blight resistant but it’s not worth it.

I believe I have solved the fruit fly issue: keep the compost in the freezer and put little jars of apple cider vinegar with a drop of dish soap around the kitchen. I will report back on this in September as we actually haven’t reached peak fruit fly season yet.

I forgot that I have to start getting mammograms now that I am forty and then my doctor reminded me and this depressed me

I started trying to wear sunscreen every day. Success has been middling on this goal so far

We had an epic 7 day heat wave that entailed spending a lot of time sitting in the basement so the dog wouldn’t die

I’m playing so much Breath of the Wild that my real life has become psychedelic, like I’ll walk past a decorative ceramic ball sitting on someone’s porch step and think “I wonder what I’m supposed to do with that” or I’ll see a tree branch laying artfully on the ground and think “I can’t pick that up because my weapons cache is full”

Through a complicated set of circumstances we were given a really fancy juicer for free and I have been making “sour juice” that’s mostly kale and lemons

I read every Tana French book essentially in one sitting and now am devastated that there aren’t any more–anybody got any French-esque recommendations? If you’ve read her you know what I mean by this

I’m playing the piano a lot, and exclusively am trying to learn Bach inventions and Joplin rags. Somehow these seem similar to me. Something about contrapuntal writing and syncopation.

I have decided I don’t care that much about going to Tanglewood. I think New Englanders do “outside hanging out” in a weird way I don’t like.

At the same time, I have recently realized that sitting outside at night in New England is not necessarily impossible; I sat outside til midnight the other night and only got two mosquito bites. So maybe these things are not hard and fast rules, which I am glad to learn.

This whole summer I have been doing almost nothing but working on my book and some articles I have going on. I spend the whole day in my office typing. I don’t know if I will regret this when I am old or not, but it’s just the way it is. Meanwhile, my husband is doing things like taking apart our windows to figure out how they work so that he can replace the sashes himself. He did this because the other day I broke a window through carelessness. He just sighed when it happened. Leo is Virgo’s cross to bear in this way; Leo is constantly like OOPS and looking guiltily at Virgo and then Virgo has to figure out how to fix whatever happened. I’m sorry honey. I also apologize for blaming my character flaws on astrology, which is a cop-out and not cute. Anyway he’s learning a lot about windows, for example our windows are “double hung,” which means you can lower the top half as well as raise the bottom half. We never knew that! And he’s doing wild amounts of yard work, and identifying every plant in our yard and how to care for it and what its uses are. And trimming the hedge and building things and fixing the hole in the roof and paying all the bills and making informational calls to contractors and roofers, and vacuuming and managing the vet appointments and bathing the dog and figuring out direct deposit and ordering me new credit cards and researching dentists and taking the car in for oil changes and dealing with the trash and recycling. I don’t do ANYTHING for this family aside from making the bulk of our income and doing a lot of pickling. I guess I’m also in charge of cleaning the bathroom, so that’s something. I also wash the windows once a year, which I find deeply, profoundly satisfying. I have a squeegee and everything.

And speaking of jobs, Gary got one! As you may know, he retired from teaching after ten years of being ABD and teaching college as an adjunct. He was tired of contingent precarious labor and also tired of this kind of intellectual and affective labor that is impossible to shut off. He wanted to go back to straightforward work where you clock in and out and don’t have to think about it when you’re not there. He’s been applying to all kinds of cool weird jobs in our town, and just got one, working weekends at a bookstore. He came home exhilarated after his first day. “I worked all day doing concrete tasks and now I’m home and am not thinking about it at all and don’t have to think about it again until next weekend!” I am happy for him even though I would rather chew off my own foot than have a 9-5 job ever again.

Oh god, we saw “Hereditary” and I am still deeply haunted. It was over a week ago and I still can’t get up to go to the bathroom without my heart pounding out of my chest–the other night I woke up and even though I was in bed with my old man I still got so scared I couldn’t go back to sleep, I kept imagining a shadowy form emerging next to the bed and I felt like I would pee my pants, and it was so hot that Gary wouldn’t let me cling to him and so I had no comfort. It was the scariest movie I’ve ever seen, which is saying something because I have seen all the scary movies, and been very scared by many of them. But nothing holds a candle to this shit. It was so wild. It was during the heat wave and we just wanted to go see a movie to get into the air conditioning. We have lately been even more out of touch with pop culture than usual and had heard NOTHING about the movie, and literally chose it only because the time worked and it was showing in the one good theater our local shitty cinema has. I vaguely perceived from the poster that it was a horror movie, but that was fine because I love horror movies. I was like “oh boy I love Toni Colette” and that was kind of the end of my understanding of what the movie was. LITTLE DID I KNOW. Jesus Lord alive. I have never, NEVER been so disturbed by a film, and I’ve seen some crazy shit in my time (married to an experimental film scholar). The theater was almost empty–it was just us and then two or three people sitting alone, which became more and more creepy as the movie went on, these mild rustlings from lone watchers in the dark behind us. The movie starts and you think it’s just an artful but straightforward haunted house movie–like, it’s great, the atmosphere is great, the music, the setup, really unusually inventive sound design so I knew Gary was loving it, etc. We were like “ooh this is gonna be a good movie!” and settled in for a fun time…but then there’s this hideous turn and the movie becomes about really different stuff than you thought it was going to be about. It’s very very affecting and scary in a conventional sense but it’s also disturbing on a psychic and spiritual level. There are images from that movie that I swear will haunt me for the rest of my days. I watched the entire second half with my hand covering my mouth, in an “OH MY GOD” gesture. I couldn’t even look at or lean on my husband; it was so horrifying I couldn’t bear to have contact with another human being during it. I haven’t been that scared in a movie since Blair Witch Project and this was 1000 times scarier and more upsetting than that. It was like Rosemary’s Baby, The Babadook, and the Witch put together and made exponentially more disturbing in every conceivable way. Honestly it was shattering. I kept thinking WHAT THE FUCK IS HAPPENING or like OH GOD WHO WILL I BE WHEN THIS MOVIE FINALLY ENDS, HOW WILL I RECONSTRUCT MY LIFE

It seems like I’m over-selling it and I’m sorry but this is authentically how it felt to watch. It was truly a full body experience. I wouldn’t have ever thought a movie could be so affecting. When it ended we sort of staggered out and looked at each other’s drawn, pallid faces and Gary goes “Jesus…..CHRIST”

We both said “I can NOT go back to our house right now” so we went to a bar to try to drink away what we had just born witness to. We sat down at the bar and the bartender was like “you guys look fucked up” and we said “we just saw Hereditary” and he goes “ohhhhhh god I just saw it too” and gave us free drinks. So the story ultimately had a happy ending and it all worked out

Now that I’ve said all this you might be thinking wow, that movie sounds awful, but you’d be wrong, it was probably the best movie I’ve ever seen. Not one second was wasted; every single element was so carefully, consciously constructed. They simply nailed it. It was tremendous, a tremendous cinematic accomplishment. I assume the person who wrote it is a serial killer but I must tip my hat to them nonetheless, as well as to the director and the cinematographer and all the actors and the sound designers and the composer. Well done to all!

I really feel like anyone who says this movie didn’t affect them is either lying or is an actual graphable psychopath. It’s like people who claimed to have seen the twist in the Sixth Sense coming–no you fucking didn’t, and why do you think it makes you seem cool to pretend you did?? Don’t @ me

Remember how I went to see Sixth Sense in the theater by myself at a matinee, and the theater was absolutely empty and I sat right in the middle, and then right as previews were starting another solitary woman came in and sat DIRECTLY NEXT TO ME?? In the actual next seat? This is still by far the weirdest thing I have ever witnessed a person do in public. We never spoke or acknowledged one another. Just me and a total stranger watching the entirety of Sixth Sense alone in a huge dark theater next to each other in silence. OMG I just remembered Sixth Sense also stars Toni Colette

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2 Responses to Snapshots From An Offline Life

  1. Kerry says:

    Congratulations on the book and the end of that long ass haul!! I’ve been so fascinated by your career journey! Also HEREDITARY….I’ve been so stoked for this and I take your film reviews very seriously, so I think I am in for a horrendous treat.

  2. Ro6 says:

    OMG that window thing is totally the secret to living your best non-air-conditioned life; slide the screens up to the top, and mostly only ever open the top part of the window… it lets the HOT air OUT!

    But mainly congrats to both of you for the book and the job!!

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