30 September 2016

0 FJ: the sex lives of dead people: bobby kennedy/marilyn monroe edition

surely you are aware by now that there is nothing trippier than attempting to unpack the rumors surrounding the sex lives of dead people. right? you are with me? if not, go here to the Finding Jackie Compendium of The Sex Lives of Dead People and then come back to me…
oh, hello! welcome back. today:

29 September 2016

0 on national coffee day

i get that these are desperate times and we're looking for things to rally around and unite us but- much as i LOOOOOOOOOOVE coffee (and i love it HARD)- the national days devoted to foods and drinks are getting a bit ridic.

28 September 2016

0 "unfortunately we cannot pay you for this endeavor"

AV and i were approached to write something. short and sweet and simple, but still.

"unfortunately we cannot pay you for this endeavor," the editor wrote, assuring us that, thanks to our efforts, we were guaranteed a tweet to 2,300 followers. as though they were rihanna and being reimbursed by a tweet would mean a great deal.

they are not rihanna.

but we did it because these are the things one must do. this has been done so often that it could be an entire section of my CV: "unpaid endeavors."

and now i'm wondering if it should be the title of my memoir.

"unfortunately we cannot pay you for this endeavor."

subtitled my life in giving away words for free.

priced at $399,999.99.

26 September 2016

0 "all these high peeing cats"

lest anyone think cat bathroom drama at the eaton house ended with the death of the cat who shat, no. it did not. 

20 September 2016

0 the danish bedroom set

(me and the danish bedroom set, 1988? 1989? 1990?)

debo grew up in denmark.

which is a bit of a tall tale, because i think she and burvil and joe spent under two years there. but it sounds so much more glam to say she "grew up" there and it is perhaps not entirely misleading because one does do quite a lot of growing up between the ages of 2 and 3.

so when burvil and joe moved back to the US somewhere around 1956 or 1957, they did so with a whole haul of danish modern furniture.

my whole life, i have taken this furniture for granted because it was just the furniture in my grandparents house which wasn't made by joe. her whole adult life, my mother has been eyeing this furniture, ready to away with it.

her claim was staked early on.

while my parents are eager to talk estate planning at every available opportunity, my grandparents were not. so the matter of how their estate will descend upon my mother and aunt has remained unclear. perhaps because of this lack of clarity, burvil has, in recent years, begun giving her daughters things.

i have not been exempt from this. it is how the entirety of the toy collection once kept at my grandmother's house has come to live in my parents attic.

my mother, meanwhile, has received what we in the family call "the danish things."

this is not always the beautiful bounty one might expect. for god knows what reason debo was desperate to possess burvil's clown cookie jar. a cookie jar that so terrorized me as a child that i would only open it after being assured that the good vanilla wafers (the jackson's old fashioned vanilla wafers, as opposed to that 'nilla wafers crap) were indeed inside the clown's pants. with jubilation, debo announced that this clown thing had come to live in her home. in horror, i recoiled.

but her greatest victory to date, the ultimate victory to be had really, was her inheritance of the danish modern bedroom set.

debo has coveted the danish modern bedroom set for decades. and, much as burvil made it quite clear  that, upon her death, i am responsible for pulling the gold tooth from her gums, debo made it quite clear to everyone in the family that the danish modern bedroom set was hers to be had.

some time last month, burvil bequeathed it to her and, this week, debo scrambled down to mississippi to pick it up, exchanging great-grandmother's blue bed (the bed she had been endlessly excited to inherit a decade ago but which has since apparently lost its luster) in an ongoing game of musical beds which my family seems to participate in with unending delight.

and lo, the danish bedroom set is installed in what used to be the blue room (or k.smartt's room) in the hotel sordide.

we're calling it the mediterranean room now, garebear tells me.

and i say, wait, it's the danish modern bedroom set. denmark has nothing to do with the mediterranean. and isn't that the room with the american flag pictures? 

yes, he tells me. but this is about branding, he says. imagine the sounds of the ocean! and the spices! wouldn't you rather stay in the mediterranean room? what does denmark have? just low-hanging clouds and happy people. it's so much less romantic. it rings less true.  

14 September 2016

0 dreamz

my dreams tend to be task-oriented (find this person! teach this class!) or anxiety driven (the one where my examiner read my corrections and put his head in his hands being a recent example) OR task-oriented AND anxiety-driven (teach this class, the title of which you do not know!).

so it was rather a lovely thing when last night, after waking up with a nightmare, i fell back asleep and dreamt of the dog of my childhood.

i remember nothing much about the dream except that it was something to do with finding something, we were in a field near a white house and burvil was there. and, suddenly, so was the dog of my childhood.

i must've been kid-sized because he was enormous. and though my dreams are very seldom tactile, i was keenly aware that the texture of his fur was exactly as i remembered.

13 September 2016

0 don't tell me the lights are shining any place but there

it's a bazillion degrees, no lie. i'm wearing the dress i bought because it looks like a modernized, strappy version of esther smith's tennis costume in meet me in st. louis.

as an eight year old little girl i wanted nothing more in the world than to be esther smith arriving home after a game of tennis and singing about the boy next door while she waited to wash her hair. (except maybe to be vivien leigh...)

i'm a thirty-five year old woman on the hottest day of the year, sitting in a library with no air con and wearing a strappy version of esther smith's tennis costume when N sits down next to me and, her eyes widening, exclaims in a non-library voice, MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS!! 

as it's going to be in my head all day, while we're here...



biography as coloring book... therein lies your niche.
- ni.muh, 12 september 2016

12 September 2016

0 there's a new jackie movie coming

and you know i'm going to go and see it and hate it and bitch about all the inaccuracies (already, just reading the reviews, i am internally bitching about all the inaccuracies) and then defend it in spite of hating it and all its inaccuracies and gradually i'mma come a full 180 and die-hard LOVE it because of those inaccuracies.

in the meantime, i'm going to whine hard about the awfulness of how portman is doing the voice.

0 fyi, the efforts of k.lo (hopeless romatic, enchanted by the power of dressing hair) to get me into a mullet persist

10 September 2016

0 liminal

really, she's just liminal. so said some girl whose face i can no longer recall in the writing biography module i took in maph. she was speaking of jackie and responding to some work i'd done for class- the obituary, the scene from the life, the bio, i don't remember.

i'd written something and, in response to it, this girl said jackie was liminal.

i nodded and smiled earnestly and said, mmmmmmmm. 

it was a word i did not know.

when i went home and logged onto my free university dial-up, there was no entry for liminal in the online dictionary i consulted.

and so for a weird number of years i went through life believing that jackie was liminal without knowing what liminal means.

for some reason i far prefer the anthropological definition.

and i'm intrigued by the fact that this university of chicago undergrad saw this about jackie in 2004. that she was in a perpetual state of becoming. that she never arrived.

would to god that i knew which piece of my work she was responding to when she said this. that would be helpful. i would go back and consult it and try to figure out what in it gave her this notion that i overlooked for years but which has defined the work on jackie which i have ultimately produced.

my academic girlcrush carolyn g. heilbrun (whose middle initial i inexplicably always type as R) gave some lectures on liminality and its role in women's lives. and, reading it, i nodded yes, yes, yes the whole way through. and then i was like, but wait. because what she was describing wasn't a fleeting state. it was my whole life these last five years.

heilbrun posited liminality as a transitory state. the definition above also would suggest it is such.

but isn't the whole of life transitional? aren't we always transitioning? are we really ever so settled or are we just constantly passing from one liminality to the next?

i seem to be promenading from a series of thresholds without ever walking through a door. maybe i shove something in through the mailslot, but it's not like i actually want to go inside, much less own the house.

were i not working on 12 separate projects at once and pretty sure that- in this metaphor- i am someone who wants to frolic in the front yard, this might make me feel flakey. as it is, it just makes me extraordinarily grateful that i rent.

05 September 2016

0 rested, ready

the other week, somewhere amidst my mad dash through the slim-pickings of feminist biographical thought, i happened upon a statement about which i thought nothing because it was in close proximity to the word autogynography- an atrocity by which i was temporarily stupefied.

BUT, it was something along the lines of how, because women's voices have historically been undervalued and/or actively silenced, simply the act of writing or speaking is transgressive.

i read this, set it to the side, and have, in the week since, thought of it again and again.

because the corrections are about polyphony. the as-yet-unwritten thing for the nonexistent book is about ventriloquism. the mess of a thing- dubbed "the fabulous keynote" by N and rejected all over the place- is about silence contextualized within cacophony. the whole jackiebook is about cultural chatter.

for a fairly self-aware person i have entertained a dazzling lack of awareness about what appears to be a personal obsession with voices- of others, and all of my own.

AV's been reading the jackiebook manuscript. your voice here is so different, she tells me. not what i expected based on your blog.

i'm like the new nixon! i declare, somewhat defiant because i am aware that this is a skill i have cultivated under duress. this shedding of voices, like a snake... this splitting... like an amoeba? what i am is clearly not a composer of metaphors from the natural world. (i should stick to nixon.)

this morning, thinking about the unwritten article for the nonexistent book, there was a disturbing moment wherein i realized that i now know how to write like an academic. i know how to write what they want. i'm very nearly certain i could give the editors what they want if i wanted to.

perhaps this is the legacy of the corrections. of the reading of 1000000000000000 tedious academic articles, an ordeal out of which one does not emerge unscathed, nor unbroken. and yet, realizing this, i was deeply sad.

because, writing-wise, this sounds like the most boring possible way to go about getting words on the page.

so now that i can do it, it represents both a professional skill and yet another way in which i must police myself. so that i do not default to it.

because i do not want to write the way they want. i am meant to be here in a pioneering capacity. and it seems rather late in the game to start playing by the rules.

0 tacos

01 September 2016

0 structure

AV and i're taking a turn about the common, mulling the jackie radio play. she asks how i envision it and, panic rising, i say, flat out, that i am incapable of handling structural issues at present, i haven't the emotional stamina for visions.

and she says, yeah, yeah, no, ok then, i'll do structure and you'll take it from there.

this woman, with the afflicted back, walking around on a crutch, and here i am being all demanding, dictating that i do not do structure.

and i'm reminded of why is so wonderful to work with other people. the lighthearted joy with which they assume the burdens that seem absolutely crushing to you, and how this is so infinitely much better than when i am alone and must wrestle with my words all by myself.

the corrections are out there, in the world, being read by someone. it is like some invisible piece of me has potentially been set on fire. this is how it always is, when someone's reading something in which you have a heavy emotional investment and from which you have no emotional distance.

AV and i have reached the point of emotional distance with the original incarnations of our PhDs. looking now at what i submitted then, i appreciate even more the fact that they didn't fail me because, in retrospect, it was quite seriously what the fuck. a perspective that has come with time and which, were i any less neurotic, would probably instill some confidence in the work i've done now. for it is in light of that work that the prior work looks so skimpy.

but it is hard to be confident when invisible pieces of you may or may not have been set on fire.

every time we are together, AV and i walk down memory lane and sigh, ohmygod can you believe that this time last year, neither of us had finished/submitted/viva-ed/passed. it is, possibly, a way of consoling ourselves for the fact that it often feels we've done relatively little since doing all of those things.

a totally nonsensical possibly as i have, subsequently, rewritten 1/3 of my PhD. but still. it feels like nothing. we were forewarned that, in the end, we would feel numb.

AV has told me that the only way in which she has so far benefited from being a dr. is that, when she goes to the hospital, the healthcare staff are visibly more respectful when they realize she holds a PhD.

AV makes repeated references to the party we're going to throw when we both graduate. debo makes casual references to a hypothetical trip she and garebear will be making to london in winter. the circumstances for this trip remain unexpressed, though we obviously all know what is for.

it is assumed i will graduate in january. this in spite of the fact that garebear has admitted that every time he overhears debo talking on the phone in hushed tones (a frequent occurrence as it seems everyone around them has fallen ill and/or died), he assumes that she is speaking to me: that i have heard from my examiner, that he has reviewed the draft, and the news is not good.

when garebeall tells me this, the relief is tremendous.

we are in this together, all three of us, in our own ways, suspended, tensed and waiting to see what happens next, as though the future were some place where everything will suddenly be so clear.

0 an inadvertently hilarious commentary on my present state