It's right there, as long as you: leave the house, park the car, walk through the sand, move past the guys throwing fishing nets, turn your head, mentally pause while your feet keep moving, walk up the stairs, make your way down the path, and keep checking, yep, it's still there, and later, yes, it's still there, and, still again, it's all right there, hovering on the edge of the world, changing shape, until you realize, you are, too.
Filtering by Tag: NATURE
"Those who live by the sea can hardly form a single thought of which the sea would not be part."
-- Hermann Broch
I did not like Hope Jahren's Lab Girl, and I feel slightly bad saying that. Why? Well, she seems like a nice and is a successful person. She's gotten a ton of awards and accolades, and she's a pioneer as a woman and a human in her field, which has something to do with botany. But for me, this book was a fail. First of all, the nature writing parts were a snooze. And I'm not opposed to nature writing, because this book has some of it, and I ate that book with a spoon. But this is just ... I don't know? Clinical? Disconnected? Something? Speaking of disconnected, the narrative that is supposed to be the memoir part of this memoir and science writing book doesn't work. It's like a hundred pages of workaholism. Then, wait, she's bipolar or maybe manic-depression, I'm not even clear, and then it's back to work. And then she gets pregnant, and she ends up beating her head into a wall or something, and then thankfully for her when she gets to her third trimester she gets on anti-psychotic medication, and then back to business as usual. A lot of the book is her obsessed with her lab partner named Bill who is sort of tempestuous and rude. Which is fine, but maybe if she spent more of the book explaining anything she learned about herself or her mental state issues, I would've enjoyed it more. Instead, it's like pop a pill and move on to the next thing. I don't recommend it.
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I planted these pots this weekend. I went to Home Depot, and I asked the plant expert what to get, and I picked out five plants and five pots. I also got some potting soil and some Miracle-Gro. At home, I put some dirt in the pots, and then the plants in the pots, and then some more dirt around the plants in the pots. Then I walked around for a while and decided where I wanted to put them. Then I watered the plants in the pots. I got dirt everywhere, including on my knees, but my husband vacuumed it up for me. After that, it rained.
Down at the bottom of Southwest Florida, it can feel as if the one percent has eked out its own private orange grove. Take a drive along the coastline, and you will find yourself dodging Maseratis, Ferraris, and Lamborghinis. There's a glut of millionaires and billionaires, wealthy folks who can afford to buy second houses, and the immigrants who service them. Many of the homes have been built inside gated communities: mechanically-mapped imaginary moats wrapping around plots of land cut off from the rest of the world by gates and fences. Half the year, the place is besotted with the so-called snowbird population fleeing the snow up north. The other half of the year, it's humid and deserted. In the margins, there are bears, bobcats, alligators, turtles, dolphins, otters, pelicans, panthers, egrets, and rays. Take a walk along the beach at sunset, and you'll see how many of the high-end condo towers are mostly dark. These days, their owners can't be bothered. It's just nature and some tourists and what you get when you live in one of the United States that makes you feel like you're about to fall off the end of the world.
I've never been great with deadlines, but when I set out to write The Fetish Alphabet, I had no idea it would take me 12 years to finish it. But, it did.
In 2002 (as I recall it, and since this story covers many years, it's possible I'm misremembering parts of it), I reached out to Andrew Gallix at 3:AM Magazine. Andrew teaches at the Sorbonne, and 3:AM's slogan is "Whatever it is, we're against it," a phrase I wouldn't mind having pounded into my gravestone. (You can read more about 3:AM's illustrious history here.) I believe I pitched him the idea of a fetish alphabet. An alphabet. Of fetishes. A series of flash fictions exploring erotic derangements. He must've said yes because at some point off we went. A Google search reveals I wrote six installments -- A through F -- which were published between August and November of 2002. And then, for reasons I can no longer recall, I stopped.
A year later, I published You're a Bad Man, Aren't You? with Future Tense Books. It was a collection of short stories I'd written and included a few of the fetish stories. That same year, I worked with artist Anthony Ventura on an illustrated version of The Fetish Alphabet. He beautifully illustrated the stories I'd written, and I wrote some more. I mean, look at this illustration for "A Is for Anthropophagy." Amazing. Some recent poking about online indicates I rewrote some of the letters -- for example, I changed "B Is for Bestiality" to "B Is for Bukkake" -- and I believe we got as far as O. And then, for reasons I can no longer recall, I stopped.
Of course, this always bugged me -- the whole lot of it. That I had started it and not finished it. That it had been one thing and then another thing but never a finished thing. That I had said I would do it, yet in the end I had not. Over the following years, life happened. I moved, and I was broke, and I got sideswiped by Hurricane Katrina, and I moved again, and I worked as a waitress, and I moved again, and I got married, and I had cancer, and I got better, and we moved, and so on and so on. Buffeted by the waves, I suppose, or perhaps more like a drunk weaving back and forth across the road of life. Depends on how you look at it.
One day this year, I woke up, and I wasn't moving anymore, and I wasn't broke anymore, and I wasn't single anymore, and I wasn't sick anymore, and I wasn't in the eye of a storm anymore. Still, I had spent a lot of this year feeling like I was failing at things. Or at least not particularly succeeding at things. I wanted to do one thing and finish it. One. Thing. For fuck's sake. So I would know that I could. In that spirit, in November, I undertook a 30-day yoga challenge, and, to my quasi-surprise, I finished it. And then I set out to write 30 fictions in 30 days on my blog, and I did that, too. And after the former and during the latter, I emailed Andrew again, 12 years after the fact, and I asked if he would be interested in me finishing The Fetish Alphabet, and, luckily enough, he was kind enough and generous enough to give me the space to do it. The subject of my email to him on November 21: "An indecent proposal."
Today, the alphabet is done through W. I found a few of the ones I'd written along the way -- H, M, and O -- and the rest were lost. As of this writing, you can read The Fetish Alphabet through Q at 3:AM. A lovely woman named Emma posts them. That means X, Y, and Z are the only ones left. I told Andrew I'd do one every day, and for a while I did, but I ended up missing a few days here and there. Right now, that 12-year deadline is so close I can taste it, and you know what it tastes like? It tastes like rich New Orleans soil and bloody surgical gloves, aviation fuel perfume and prickly south Texas cacti, plastic bags filled with lavender air and the inside of an over-worn wedding ring. Surely, there are fetishes for all these things, including finishing things.
She wanted a house, so he found four leftover toilet paper tubes and an old shoebox. He taped the tubes to the top of the box. He went on a walk, collecting small sticks and large leaves. Back at home, he weaved them into walls. For the roof, he removed the shirt from his back, cut out a piece of it, and sewed the canopy over the tubes and the walls. He skinned a baby rabbit and used it as a throw for the matchbox bed. When she got home, he invited her inside their tiny life together.
Time: 5 minutes
Word count: 98 words
The couple felt burdened. Together, they decided to unburdened themselves. The first thing they did was to sell the house. It had been causing their spines to bend from the weight. They took up residence in a park. Next, they began to divest themselves of their limbs, which seemed unwieldy and sometimes ached. Finally, they rolled around together as torsos and shed their clothes, feeling the grass underneath their belly buttons and holding hands with their eyes.
Time: 2 minutes
Word count: 77