accessory stalking

Gravity Is What Holds Me to the Ground

A couple magazines need pictures of me and my mother. We both hate having our picture taken so no such contemporary pictures exist. 
Let us go back to 1976. I am 18 months old. I am wearing saddle shoes, a diaper, a fucking cute dress, and ribbons in my hair. Deal with it. 

Tonight I gave a reading in celebration of Women’s History Month. After, a woman came up to me and thanked me for helping her see things differently. She said, “I’m 56 years old,” and I looked her up and down, sure, in a flirty way but mostly an appreciative, you don’t look a day over 35 way. She said, “Oh my god, you give me goosebumps,” and started fanning herself. I smiled and thought, “Yes, Ive still got it.”

Sometimes, those little reminders are nice.

I went to Australia which is similar to the United States but also very different. I am going to write about the trip for The Guardian. There were crowds like I’ve never had. I went on television, TWICE. I signed so many books my hands hurt. My dream of becoming a writer has exploded. Everything feels fantastic, as in, like a fantasy. 

I have five new books coming out in the next few years. W T F? FIVE? I didn’t dream big enough and now I am swallowing it all. But I want the books to be good. I want them to be better than what I have previously written.

It can also be exhausting. I’m on the road constantly. I am on the road too much. I give me all at events and then I am completely drained. So many people who have so much to say and I want to honor their time and their stories and I try. I worry that I don’t give enough to the person I want to give the most to. I need to find a balance and I will. 

An Untamed State is in the 2015 Tournament of Books and it has advanced past the first round. You can read the deliberation here

I want to write about certain topics, say, my past, without having to answer an endless litany of interview questions about it. Sometimes, it is deeply uncomfortable when someone is basically like, “So, about your rape…” I suppose you have to deal with that when you make certain choices but still. I’m trying to say something here. 

After Australia, I stopped in Los Angeles for meetings. At least, that was my excuse. I always make up reasons for going to that city and they are true but they aren’t the whole truth. “Meetings” in Los Angeles can mean everything and they can mean nothing. So many meetings, over so much time and progress is v e r y s l o w but maybe, someday, I will have exciting things to tell you about involving the kind of work that happens in Los Angeles.

I had a driver while in LA whose name was Melva. We got on very well. She shuttled me across the city to my various appointments and traffic on the 405 was insane and Obama was in town. She helped me find a pen engraver. I ate a macaron for the first time and I finally understand what that cookie is about. It was so hot, ninety degrees but it wasn’t sticky and miserable and there was so much sun and all those concrete highways stretching out in every direction and the water and palm trees and and and and…

One of my meetings was at a restaurant called The Ivy that I’ve read about in glossy magazines. I was excited but the restaurant was the most overrated place I’ve ever eaten at. First of all, the prices are insane. They are not expensive, they are in the stratosphere of absurd. I was not even paying and I was offended. Everyone in the joint seemed to be ordering salads so I felt an intense pressure to order a salad so I did and it cost like $28.95 and my soul ached because I hoped that at such a price point, the salad might make me fly. It did not make me fly. It was just a salad and a mediocre one at that. Dressing? What dressing? 

The place was packed with beautiful people wearing expensive clothes and expensive sunglasses. I don’t belong there but I was there so maybe I am changing the rules about where I belong. The plates were also ugly. Hideous ugly.  My lunch companions were fantastic. The iced tea comes with a lot of accessories including a stalk of sugar cane and it was excessive. There was barely any tea in the glass. When you leave, they give you a box of delicious cookies and that is a nice enough gesture but still, the restaurant is overrated or maybe I am just not their target clientele. When we left, we saw that the valet had parked one of our cars at a parking meter literally right across from the restaurant. Oh how I laughed. I love Los Angeles. 

I wish I could explain how that city draws me back over and over. Actually, I can explain but I won’t. Gravity is involved. We all have a center of gravity and sometimes that center is a place or a person. 

A hotel room, and I’m staring up at the ceiling and I see a bug. I hate bugs. It is tiny but it seems huge. I want to be macho or at least mature, you know, but I can’t and so she throws up a book, hits the bug squarely, kills it, and I am exposed for who I really am–a girl who is afraid of bugs and inexplicably has tattoos all over her arms like she is cut from much tougher cloth.

The thing is, that bug could have fallen in my ears or nose or mouth while I was sleeping and then a colony could have festered inside me. Those movies never end well so I feel like my caution was warranted. 

My body feels like a cage. I want out of this cage and intellectually, I know how to free myself but in practice, freeing myself is not easy. 

I am impatient. I am patient. I am so happy which you may not understand but I am. I am learning how to be happy even when everything isn’t perfect. Everything will never be perfect. 

Gravity is what holds me to the ground. I need it now more than ever. 

There are all kinds of cages, really. The frustrating thing about cages is that you’re trapped but you can see exactly what you want. You can reach but only so far.