Thursday, January 31, 2008

i heart mike gravel, apparently

I am so valuable. So court-able. I am that beloved (yet usually idiotic-sounding) beast that reporters love to interview around election time.

I am an undecided voter.

Recently I took one of those perhaps-less-than-scientific online quizzes to find out which candidate best represented my views. Because historically, I have been an Issues Voter!

It turned out I should be stumping for Mike Gravel and Dennis Kucinich. But the quiz tracks content, not form, where both candidates and voters are concerned. So it doesn’t take into account, for example, that John McCain is a jerk (not that I’m saying he is—in fact, he probably isn’t) or that I’m a pragmatist and am not going to vote for anyone too Naderific.

So that left me with the big three, which are now the big two, and I agreed with all of them 80-something percent (I’m guessing I liked gay marriage and legalized marijuana a little more than Clinton, Obama, or Edwards). I was going to be forced to do what I usually try to avoid: vote based on personality and strategy.

But hey, that could be fun.

At first I was leaning towards Obama because he just seemed so damn smart, and we all know what kind of presidents America’s anti-smart/pro-drinking-buddy attitude has gotten us.

But then I read this article in The New Yorker about Hillary’s governing style (hardworking, pragmatic, cooperative, incremental, action-focused) versus Obama’s (visionary, sweeping, relaxed) and although I’m not sure it was supposed to make me like her, it did. Yes, she sounded a little Tracy Flick-ish, but I have a very big soft spot for the Tracy Flicks of the world, and I need to believe that quiet, hardworking types get shit done.

But, I don’t know, Obama has a slightly better track record with the gays and is maybe a slightly less dirty campaigner, although I’m not all hung up on the Sins Of The ‘90s the way a lot of Clinton-haters seem to be. Also, Obama probably stands a better chance of beating McCain.

Should I flip a coin? Vote for who’s prettier? Invite blog commenters to buy my vote?

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

puffy

I had my lower wisdom teeth out yesterday, which marked my first experience with general anesthetic, followed by my first prescription for Vicodin. I was nervous about the former—that I would either die or, like, deliriously confess my wildest sexual fantasies to the hygienist assisting with the surgery.

There was an episode of Ellen—pre-coming-out—where she got high on nitrous and started hitting on her dentist. Although the dentist was a man, I always suspected that the plotline grew out of a fear that all closeted queers have of losing control and outing oneself.

But as far as I can remember, the most embarrassing thing that happened was that my dad, who drove me to the appointment, insisted on asking my oral surgeon a bunch of questions afterward, including whether he could see my extracted teeth (he could not). He was already disappointed that he hadn’t gotten a chance to refer me to his oral surgeon. My dad’s a control freak too, which is probably where I get it, not so much from being gay.

The Vicodin was also uneventful. And—knock on wood—I haven’t been in much pain, so I didn’t take a second dose. Pot has never done anything for me either, dammit. What’s a girl supposed to do when she wants to let go a little?

Friday, January 25, 2008

tucson post-

I understand the horizontal.
It doesn’t make me wistful
and humble the way cathedrals do
in cities that have cathedrals
and snow.

Of course I eye Kokopelli skeptically,
the way he dance on the sides
of coffee mugs and key chains.
But if you’re a tourist long enough
you are, if not absorbed, stained.

We washed our faces
and let the desert wind dry them.
We posed in front of mine shafts,
crunched fry bread, slipped white
fingers into silver rings. I envied
a young dancer’s leggings
like a soccer player’s shin guards.
To be special enough
for a uniform, mythic enough
for a costume. To escape

running shorts and T-shirts,
which is what the hawkers
of dream catchers
want, and the makers
of dream catchers.
Them too.

Is there something after
who brought what:
an Easter ritual
a Disney movie
devastation
a souvenir
a language
silence
heroin, then crack
a winter home
a house without drawers
a book about you
written by me
a book by you
purchased by me
an artifact.

Can this be about audacity
on all sides? And breath?
And sticking it out
through the summers,
inhaling fire until it lives in you?

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

confessions of a poetry squatter

In Truth and Beauty (which I just finished and highly recommend), Ann Patchett says that she always thought being a writer meant living in some drafty-but-romantic wreck of an apartment and writing by candle light, which she was fully prepared to do; in fact, for her at least, it meant being pampered with muffins and solitude at a series of writers’ colonies.

My reality has had light bulbs, but not a lot else so far. I’ve applied to a couple of writers’ retreats, but haven’t been accepted. Although the prestige and the uninterrupted time sounds great, the truth is I’ve become almost too good at getting books written at Starbucks, one hour at a time. When I have time to submit work, it seems more appealing to send my manuscript to publishers than to picturesque cabins in various woods. After all, I’m an urban writer. I like a little noise.

But all this was before I came to the University of Arizona an hour ago.

I’m in Tucson for work right now, and when you work for an organization with “poets” in its title, the kind people at the U of A Poetry Center offer to put you up in one of their “Poet’s Apartments” even if you’re not technically a poet.

I guess I’d pictured a dorm room with a couple of books of poetry sitting on the back of the toilet. But this is a modern one-bedroom with pale gray-green walls and fresh red tulips and a guest book signed by Lucille Clifton. There are framed broadsides signed by Allen Ginsberg, Li-Young Lee, Leslie Marmon Silko, Brenda Hillman and Billy Collins. The cupboards are stocked with granola and organic soup. There are mugs with pictures of poets on them, and all the silverware matches. None of these things are true about my actual writer’s apartment (though it’s a huge step up from my previous two).

Sometimes I have what I think of as an Annie Complex. Do you remember how, when she first saw Daddy Warbucks’ mansion, she was so thrilled that she didn’t know what to clean first? When she found out she wasn’t there to clean it—just to enjoy it—she could barely comprehend her situation.

I didn’t grow up as an orphan in the Depression, so I don’t know why luxury scares and confounds me, but it does. I think I’m afraid I might get used to it, and then I might start demanding things. I might become fussy and dissatisfied with my current material life. This is a problem because A) I pride myself on being low-maintenance; it’s almost a pathology with me, and B) I don’t have the money to have regular-basis luxury, and not wanting too much is a defense mechanism.

Twisted logic or not, I found myself wondering if it was okay to open the soy milk in the fridge because it didn’t expire for months and I certainly couldn’t drink all of it in two days and wouldn’t it be better to save it for Lucille Clifton, who was a real poet and would be staying longer?

But between Truth and Beauty and my truly beautiful surroundings, I feel inspired to be more ambitious. To believe that my writing deserves more than the occasional latte as fuel. It’s part of that whole believing-in-the-power-of-art resolution, right? Good lord, the vase of willowy magenta flowers next to my bed alone makes me want to be a better person in every way.

Reader, I opened the soy milk.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

i’m posting this from my office…

…like, my home office, which I am able to do because I know have wireless internet. Hallelujah! Praise Sean (the very kind friend who set it up)!

The only phone jack in our new place is in the bedroom, and trying to write in a messy, unmade bed is like trying to write a memoir when your entire body except for your left eyelid is paralyzed.

Okay, well, not exactly.

And I know I could just have made the bed.

But do not underestimate the sense of peace and moved-in-ness that comes from finally making use of the great little nook of desk and bookshelves and vinyl beanbag turtle that you set up weeks ago but had so far used mostly as a time-out space for fighting cats. It is really, really good to know that you did not talk your girlfriend into renting a two-bedroom for nothing, that you’re not some ungrateful anti-Woolf who gets a room of her own and then ignores it.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

truth, beauty and high school

1. the ant and the grasshopper

Thanks to a two-hour bus-and-train ride this morning, I’m almost halfway through Truth and Beauty, Ann Patchett’s memoir about her friendship with the dramatic, enchanting and facially disfigured writer Lucy Grealy.

Ann (as portrayed by herself in the book) is none of the above. A shy girl taught in Catholic school to be humble, responsible and invisible, she recognizes her need for a person like Lucy, who leaves bowls of spaghetti in the middle of the floor and doesn’t believe you’re expected to pay off student loans or hospital bills.

With the exception of having gotten into the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and having published a half dozen novels, I totally relate to Ann and have fallen for her as much as she falls for Lucy (I probably need Lucies in real life, but I need Ann on the page).

2. everyann

Last night AK, Veronica and I discussed our own awkward years.

“I was the classic bullied kid,” said Veronica, who grew up practicing Native rituals and attending alternative schools in Boulder. Somehow I thought such childhoods exempted one from bullying.

“I always pictured you as a popular kid,” I said. “Maybe not like party-kid popular, but arty-popular.”

“Like how some kids in band have a way more active social life than more technically popular kids,” AK agreed.

“No, I was just really unpopular. Every bullying cliché you hear about, that happened to me. Kids threw my jacket in the mud. They weren’t even creative. Back then I thought it was because I talked too much, but now I think maybe it was because I didn’t fit in with the white kids or the Mexican kids, who were all from like the same two towns in Chihuahua and Veracruz.” (Veronica’s Argentinean.)

“I’m obsessed with high school,” I admitted. “I always want to know how people were when they were kids because I think it totally defines how you are as an adult, one way or another, whether you rebel stay the same.”

Although AK and Veronica are both more extroverted than I am, and Veronica especially has a certain Lucy-like ability to make an entrance, I suspect we’d all identify with Ann.

Then again, maybe Lucy would too. Ann portrays her friend as a certain kind of glamorous, but also as someone who’s chronically lonely and self-doubting.

I remember getting up on a favorite soapbox of mine during a conversation with Stephanie a while back: “I hate how movie stars are always going on about how they were so nerdy in high school. They can’t all have been nerds. Someone was popular, and I wish they’d just own up.”

Stephanie shrugged and said, “Maybe that just shows how insecure kids are. Everyone feels unpopular at that age.”

At the time I was grouchy because Stephanie had rejected my theory, choosing to have empathy with homecoming queens rather than join me in pounding on them.

But she was probably right. And it’s probably empathy that separates grownups from teenagers in the first place. If I weren’t such a mysteriously Catholic quarter-Jew, I wouldn’t have to let the allegedly geeky Julia Roberts off the hook right now. Sigh.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

a long way up

1. the pit of delillo

Sometimes I miss the days when my New Year’s resolution was just to lose weight like everyone else. I’m still secretly hoping I’ll hit the gym three times a week in 2008, but for some reason I resolved, this year, to Renew My Faith In Art. Abstract much, Cheryl?

For maybe a year or two, I’ve been struggling with the idea that, as much as books/movies/music are important to me, they don’t really Save The World. And aren’t we all in the world to save it?

No, we’re not, AK said when I told her my resolution. As a relaxed second child, she’s not the victim of a ridiculous self-imposed imperative to take care of everything and everyone. Just do what you’re good at and what makes you happy, she advised, and the rest will follow.

So although I could have looked at my crisis of faith as a sign that maybe I should give up this art thing and become a social worker (this random, mostly fake back-up plan that pops up every once in a while), I decided to just put a little more energy into what makes me happy, i.e. reading and writing.

I finally crawled to the finish line of White Noise, the most depressing and painful really good book I’ve read in a long time. It’s all tightly written, semi-absurdist prose about middle class fear of death and how technology interacts with that fear. So timely I wanted to strangle myself with an Ethernet cord.

Plus there was that whole moving thing, that whole Pit Of Despair thing. I haven’t been a happy girl.

2. saint nick

But then—speaking of strangling oneself—I picked up Nick Hornby’s A Long Way Down, which is about four people who meet while trying to kill themselves. You might argue that this is not a good choice for someone hiking the canyon walls of the Pit Of Despair, but it was actually the best thing I could have done.

Objectively, A Long Way Down is not the literary masterpiece that White Noise is, but subjectively, I had the palpable and only slightly melodramatic thought that This book is saving my life. I hadn’t felt that way about a book in a while, but when it hit, it was a familiar feeling. I had been saved before, and when it was time to be saved again, books were there.

The dialogue was funny, the characters were flawed and loveable and suitably depressed, and despite the subject matter, the book was hugely life-affirming, but not in an annoying or unearned or overly optimistic way. As one of the characters, an unsuccessful musician named JJ, points out, it doesn’t take much to decide to want to live, but—and this was more comforting to him—“happy” people aren’t so far from soul-crushing thoughts either. They’re not so special. They’re not so immune.

So I read A Long Way Down and felt renewed and understood and ready to go out into the world again (well, mostly). And you can’t Save The World without being engaged in it, so in that way books are very, very important. And when I engaged, I wrote—part two of the equation.

I would like to say that the thing I’ve been working on (draft three of the not-so-new novel) will find its way into the world someday and make someone feel a little more engaged with said world. But I may not have any more success as a writer than JJ does as a musician. All I can say is that being in another world for approximately four hours a week makes me like this one a little more.

Friday, January 11, 2008

writing prompt #6: the soda pop stop

Thanks to Erin for the following writing prompt: “How about a ‘ripped-from-the-headlines’ story? Here’s the headline I was thinking of: 2 naked men walk into store, buy candy and drinks.”

1.

The strangest thing was not that there were two naked men in the store, but that they didn’t know each other. Their paths had started miles apart (in Arizona and Massachusetts—but even that morning, in Pasadena and Westwood) and had climbed hills and sped down freeways to land them at Galco’s Old World Grocery.

First a word about the store. This much we can be sure of: It was a low-slung building with too-short shelves and too-wide aisles. The stock of the store did not fill the structure of the store. The lights were fluorescent. The tile was designed not to show stains, but did.

But there was some confusion about the name. The wooden sign swinging from the awning said Galco’s and promised a full deli. But the neon paint on the windows said, “The Soda Pop Stop: Every Beverage You Ever Wanted!” Despite the greater permanence of the wooden sign, evidence inside pointed toward the store being a soft drink depot: Coke and Pepsi in novelty glass bottles, cases of IBC and Jarritos, prune soda from Thailand.

This was good news—or at least it was relatively good news in a day full of bad news—for one of the men. Ordinarily Jeff Lindy, from Massachusetts originally, might have stood out slightly, just being white in a neighborhood that still mostly wasn’t. But today he was all skin: white in parts, freckled peach in others, dusky pink in a few. His stomach—not notable when contained in jeans, but significant when un-tethered—wobbled, and so did his lower lip. Although he must have had some memory of becoming naked, or at the very least of discovering that he was naked, he radiated complete surprise, as if with each excruciating second he realized his plight anew.

But a careful observer (which everyone in the store both was and wasn’t, not wanting to seem rude, not able to look away, not able to avoid focusing on certain things) would have noticed a flicker of relief cross his worried face when he saw the towers of bottles filled with high fructose corn syrup.

2.

Arthur Miranda hadn’t given it a lot of thought, but he’d been hoping that Galco’s was still Galco’s. After leaving Tucson, he’d grown up less than a mile from here, and he had nearly forgotten memories of after-school salami, of a smiling man with an oily apron and an Italian accent.

Today, though, he just wanted to go somewhere he could be naked without getting arrested. Trader Joe’s and Food 4 Less seemed like places that had policies. In the Old World, he imagined, people worked things out.

Art was missing Jeff’s girth and panic. He wore a calculated expression of nonchalance, a silver chain bracelet and nothing else. Clothed, girls thought he must play guitar or write poetry. Naked, they would have thought of him as a boy. He had the small round butt of someone who flung himself off tire swings suspended over swimming holes. Parts of him were cinnamon, parts were creamy beige, parts were accent-wall brown.

Even before Art saw Jeff, when he saw the rows of cans and bottles—shiny, not an egg or fish or ear of corn in sight—he thought he should have brought his camera.

3.

Jeff’s best friend in the dorms, a shy but opinionated sophomore named Keri Chang, had told him sororities were snobby. Frats were different, he told her. They’re dependent on each other, Keri had said, they can’t be that different. Lots of things that are different are dependent on each other, Jeff had argued, look at us.

The men of Delta Sig hadn’t seemed snobby, exactly, but they spoke of partying and of Their Parties (it was a verb, it was a proper noun) with such pride that it seemed a close—but fun-loving—cousin to snobbery. They gave him a bid and he pledged because, doubts or not, you couldn’t turn down the Best Parties In L.A., Especially Better Than Those Fuckheads At ’SC.

But after four nights of hazing that left him feeling like his brothers were grooming his liver for pâté, he’d been more than willing to accept the surprising advances of a senior named Zania Li who reminded him of a sexier, more outgoing Keri Chang; who lived in her own apartment all the way across town in Highland Park; who was not above sex on the first date if she thought a guy was really cute and they totally had a connection.

4.

Although Art did not play the guitar or write poetry, he had, in the two months since school started, filled three sketchbooks, carved six linoleum blocks, developed 106 photos and set 117 lines of type. He was exhausted. This was not what he’d signed up for when he’d signed up for art school. He’d imagined late nights in the studio, yes, but punctuated with lazy hillside days smoking out and talking about Basquiat. Maybe an occasional bout of artist’s block, in reaction to which his professors and friends would be quietly awed.

He wanted depth and spontaneity, not bleary-eyed busywork. His friend Koon suggested transferring to CalArts, where, according to legend, there was a Human Sexuality class in which everyone was invited to masturbate together. That made Art think that maybe you didn’t need to pay $30,000 a year, or even $18,000, to be a Real Artist. You just needed to have an idea, and to be brave.

5.

The “hiding from my frat brothers” thing had worked well. Zania had eyed him with sympathy: a man trapped by fate. He’d climbed into her car, which was sporty and low to the ground but beat-up, and they’d raced eastward, then northward and arrived at a heavily treed pocket of hillside. Even in the dark he could tell this part of the city was different. Breathtaking was a word that came to mind, in that he actually breathed deeper here, opened his eyes wider and let more colors come in. Night-black palm trees, neon orange graffiti.

He’d been alarmed when she started shooting up in front of him. Then she explained: diabetes. Type I, not the kind you got from being fat, she said. One might ask why she didn’t give herself insulin shots in the bathroom, but Jeff did not. Zania got naked in front of him, so it seemed only fair that he accept her other immodesties as part of the package.

She was all one color, a watery nonfat latte, a girl who sunbathed with her top off. In the morning, as he was lying beneath her patchwork quilt parsing the particularities and sub-clauses of “Bros before hoes,” she turned to him and said, I need orange juice. When he’d started to put his jeans on, she’d said, Now. Don’t call 911. Don’t put your fucking clothes on, just go or I will die and you’ll never get your dick sucked again.

6.

It was one part performance art, one part social experiment. It was about How We Define What Is Natural In The Technological Age. It was about Tangible Versus Digital, and The Politeness Imperative, and Spontaneous Acts In Scripted Spaces.

Art was not sure what would come next. That was part of the point, he told himself, although it nagged at him a bit. Maybe he would go into another store wearing just one item of clothing and see how people reacted to that? To just a cowboy hat? Which he didn’t own. This project could get expensive.

Maybe he should get arrested, and document that. But his mother would never understand that going to jail for art was like going to jail for protesting apartheid—or at least it was different for going to jail for stealing a ’99 Honda Accord, which is what his brother had done.

But what came next was Jeff. A naked white guy holding a wallet and talking to the girl behind the counter. She looked like the kind of person who was not used to surprises and not looking for them, her jaw slammed into stunned horror.

Jeff was saying, Anything with sugar is fine. He was shaking too hard to do the most logical thing—as much as logic could still be said to apply—which would be to grab a six-pack of root beer, slam down a five and leave.

The girl was saying, Everything’s got sugar ‘cept the diet.

7.

Eyes appeared along the cloudy strip of windows that circled the store. Jeff had almost made it out and was ready to streak back down the half block to Zania’s house when he saw them: three sets, two hazel and bushy-browed, one dark brown and almond-shaped.

It made perfect sense. In this day without sense, this clicked. What diabetic wouldn’t have juice or soda in her fridge? More to the point, maybe, what really hot senior would pick up a freshman pledge at a Delta Sig party and whisk him away for a very above-average blowjob for no good reason?

The only connection, he realized, was Delta Sig. Not the career-ish, networking kind of connections they promised during rush week, but a stifling invisible rope that meant you could not just leave without being properly humiliated. And Delta Sig must have connections to sororities too, to girls who didn’t pussy out of pranks. His bros had hoes at their disposal.

There was a rustle of noise with the faces. The trio pushed past the open door, a single unwieldy beast, and he heard one of the guys (he was pretty sure it was Alex Vitale) say, “Holy shit, there’s another naked dude in there!”

8.

More than Art wanted to be an artist, more than he’d wanted anything in a long time, he wanted to help Jeff. This guy who was in Galco’s naked, not on purpose.

He had a flash of what Jeff might be like: kind, gullible. The sort of guy who would be perfectly content getting a decent job, marrying some nice girl and buying a house in he suburbs. All those things Art had learned to scorn. But instead of seeming clunky and pathetic, that life now seemed simple and more fulfilling than the edgiest video installation. At the very least, he thought he would like to have a beer with Jeff.

So he looked at the chuckling buffoons outside the window and he looked at Jeff (above the waist only) and said, I have a coat in my car.

9.

The girl behind the counter was not going to help him, that much was clear to Jeff. Which left the other naked guy.

For the first few seconds, as the data of his nakedness registered, Jeff assumed he must be a victim of Delta Sig’s unrelenting nature as well. He didn’t remember Art from pledge class, but maybe he’d looked different with clothes on. Or maybe multiple frats were in on it.

But when he looked more closely (just at his face), he did not see a victim at all. Art looked a little nervous, maybe, but there was a daring confidence to him. Maybe people walked around naked in Highland Park. Maybe there was a contingent of nudists in these hills, people who said to hell with rules. Maybe he would follow Art there, to the one place you could be guaranteed not to be shamed for suddenly finding yourself without clothes.

First, though, he would follow Art to his car. And so the two naked men who did not enter Galco’s and/or the Soda Pop Stop together left it together, bare skin and all ensuing flaws illuminated by the mid-morning sun. Each thinking about a somewhat different future. It was like they’d traded clothes. Sort of.

Monday, January 07, 2008

writing prompt #5: around to hear it

Thanks to Jamie for the following writing prompt: "How about a story from the point of view of a coyote." (Since Jamie’s a poet, I decided to make it a poem instead. Jamie also introduced me to the very inspiring Charlie of The Daily Coyote.)

He is growing into his ears.
Once funnels, they swallowed a creak
of cabin floor, a housecat’s keening
meow, somehow maternal.

There was a girl with a bottle
and his nose turned from nub
to snout. Shingle roof
between him and the Wyoming moon.

Polar fleece and roast chicken,
red leather collar and a name
to answer to.

He elongates, looks like
he could bite someone
even though he’s slobber-tongued
with the cat.

The girl lets him loose
for long nervous hours.
Her fingers tap her teacup,
she listens for a shot
or howl. She hopes
he listens too.

He is growing into his ears.
There are new sounds now:
leaf crunch, sheep bay,
the yip and bark of his own,
a song he always knew the words to.
Now there’s music too.

And in the chorus,
an awareness.
A memory of sudden noise
followed by sudden quiet.
Were the plains always so wide?

Now fearlessness becomes the memory.
He is fast-pawed, dart-eyed.
But yes, the trees were always falling.
When the twin shots killed
his parents, his ears were still
shut flat against his head.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

america's next top 10 list

It’s top 10 list season…or it was two weeks ago. But two weeks ago my little notebook of stuff I read and saw this year (yes, I have one. What?) was buried deep in a cardboard jungle. So here are my favorite books and movies of 2007—two short, belated and pretty much uncalled-for lists.

Also, FYI, the books were not necessarily published in 2007—that’s just when I read them—making that particular list all the more irrelevant. And I’m a slow reader who spent much of 2007 reading dry history books about Malaysia, so the crop of fun novels I had to choose from was smaller than usual.

Also, my lists started in March. January and February are still in a box somewhere.

Look, if you want real best-of lists, go somewhere more professional. Here at Bread and Bread we just aim for scrappy but loveable.

Top five books I’ve read since March 2007:

1. American Woman by Susan Choi
2. The Fortress of Solitude by Jonathan Lethem
3. Lunar Park by Bret Easton Ellis
4. Flash House by Aimee Liu
5. Song for Night by Chris Abani

Honorable mention: The History of Love by Nicole Krauss, Talking to the Moon by Noel Alumit, Apex Hides the Hurt by Colson Whitehead.

Top five movies I’ve seen since March 2007:

1. Juno
2. King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters
3. Ratatouille
4. Zodiac
5. Gone Baby Gone

Honorable mention: Sicko, Waitress, Persepolis, the Quentin Tarantino half of Grindhouse.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

the pit

I had a history teacher in high school who sometimes referred to The Pit of Despair. As in, “If you don’t turn in your term paper outlines on time, you will fall into The Pit of Despair.”

Of course I was a good kid who turned in my outline punctually, but I had a taste of life in The Pit—maybe not Of Despair, but it was some sort of pit—this week when AK and I moved. Although I was highly organized physically (it’s a coping mechanism), and can now proudly point to assembled Ikea furniture and hung pictures as evidence that we have officially and successfully moved in…the evidence lies.

Our internet still doesn’t work, no matter how much I poke the modem with a stick (the extent of my IT skills); our back patio is waist-deep in empty boxes; I’ve been living off Christmas cookies and goat cheese balls; and AK and I have been completely irritable, disconcerted and at various moments, yes, even despairing.

The second day in the house, OC—who was sequestered in the office with Temecula and had not met Ferdinand yet—saw another cat outside the window. He freaked out and beat up T-Mec, and they’ve been at each other’s furry little throats ever since (although now that they’ve met Ferdinand, they like him just fine, miraculously).

It was actually kind of comforting to see my cats, who normally share food and lick each other’s ears, turn on each other. I told myself, “All mammals have trouble adjusting to new situations and sometimes take it out on the ones they love.”

OC and T-Mec have yet to cuddle, but they seem to have struck a cautious truce. I’m back at work. It’s nice to have DSL and a little structure. I’m crawling out of The Pit, bruised and blinking in the sun.