I now live in a Spanish-style townhouse perched below the Hollywood sign (after selling my absurdly purple, art deco castle in SF, living in a hotel room for two weeks with four cats, and schlepping boxes of my belongings all over California). The veil of migraines has finally lifted and my third eye is wide open to the star-studded sidewalks and palm trees of around-the-corner. I spent a few weeks unpacking boxes with cardboard-dry hands, reading books every second I got, and watching movies in all the adorable, indie, architecturally-pristine theaters around town.
I adopted a weird, cow-colored kitten that wouldn’t leave my backyard after she learned that cat food tasted way better than rats and (sadly) her sister got eaten by a coyote. I celebrated a couple cat birthdays; got off anti-depressants and then got back on; got my nostrils pierced then took them out; continued working on my Sylvia Plath tattoo-sleeve; nurtured some really important relationships with the important ladies in my life; rode in a doombuggy or two (Haunted Mansion, yay!); retraced some SoCal steps while seeing many new things; had Babes in Toyland melt my face; let Morrissey break my heart, put it back together, and break it again; ate hella punk rock, vegan donuts; slept on my new king-sized mattress while covered in cats; and re-kindled my flame for Anne Sexton.
I don’t know where my inspiration has gone. It’s like it got sucked up in that aforementioned tornado, but was never spit back out. I am tinkering with things, toying with ideas, but not really putting anything solid on the page. Here’s a chunk of journaled, poetic, journal-poetry:
we’ve had our gallbladder hour
all saucy and mossy and full of spite
i have loved you like only time can be loved
and full of sleep-in-the-eye mistakes
I’m obsessed with Shirley Jackson right now—I mean, I’m always kinda obsessed with her, but there seems to have recently been this resurgence in her popularity and her books are everywhere (not to mention this awesome collection of stories, essays, and other writings [“Let Me Tell You”] that just appeared on bookstore bookshelves everywhere and was [awesomely] edited by two of her kids).
There is just something about how Jackson embodies the shadow that makes my toes tingle. Right now, “The Bird’s Nest” is usurping all of my free time. It’s full of multiple-personality-disordered antics (because it was written before the realization that Dissociative Identity Disorder is a more apt diagnostic handle) and relational breaches, and it really elegantly performs the experience of a shattered self. This disintegration is at work in her prose (particularly the dialogue), the layout of the book, and the relationships within. Jackson’s protagonist(s)—Elizabeth/Beth/Betsy/Bess is/are treated with love and understanding by the author—even when the other characters in the novel find her/their behavior incomprehensible and/or reproachable.
Jackson displays an insider’s understanding of trauma, she knows that it has the power to immobilize, fragment, and destroy. But, she also understands healing and the psyche’s innate strive for wholeness.
This book discombobulates, upends, confuses, and teaches the reader—while doing a really lovely job of mimicking Elizabeth/Beth/Betsy/Bess’ life experience. This book is elegant, honest, and non-exploitative. Because DID is steeped in a tumultuous history of misdiagnosis, false memory, and a rejection of the diagnosis as “real” by medical professionals (mostly in response to the realizing of “Sybil”—the seminal case study of MPD—as a fraud) it is really important for works of art like “The Bird’s Nest” to exist, de-stigmatize, and teach. “United States of Tara” is another eye-opening and honest portrayal of this diagnosis.
A record—any record—by Le Butcherettes. I’m sure that I could very easily download an album or a song on this technology-machine sitting in front of me, but I would much rather feel the vinyl in my hands, smell the paper/plastic/glue, flutter my fingers across the inserts, and do all that old-school music stuff that went along with music-listening. There is also something about the hunt that feels important: going from record store to record store, pawing through the alphabet, not finding exactly what I am looking for but finding another treasure instead. Internet shopping takes some of the Easter-egg-hunting-joy out of life.
I saw Le Butcherettes play a few weeks ago with Babes and Toyland at Riot Grill Fest (@ the Regent; Downtown LA). They blew my mind with their raw intensity, abandon and power. Watching them play felt like watching a snake slip out of its skin; like something necessary and natural, transformational, vulnerable and freeing. (And, King Buzzo [from the Melvins] joined them onstage for a cover of Bikini Kill's "Rebel Girl!" Total fangirl moment of squee!)
Basically Teri Gender Bender is my new rockstar crush; she’s a total fucking force of nature.