vendredi 20 mai 2011

Pulp fiction



"If Jon-Jon Goulian did not exist," asserts novelist Benjamin Kunkel on the backflap of Goulian's book, "it would have been necessary to invent him."

And I might agree, if only for the color he achieves on the wall against which he is leaning, and his "hermit tendencies", were I not paralyzed psychologically by the weight of that statement. I mean, about how many people can you honestly say that, starting with yourself? Maybe one or two of your children, but I'll bet that's about it. It is certainly not how I have been feeling about myself, and if anyone said it about me, you could be nearly certain that they were worried about what I might do if they didn't.

This as been one of those times when writing is not an option, mostly because it is not possible, or seems impossible.

My garden? How much can you stand to hear about the digging of holes, the moving about of plants and the blossoming of the promise held in the sepals of the buds?

My life? How much can I say without getting in very big trouble? And I never have been very good at applying Anne Lamott's excellent advice, "Write as if your parents are dead." I'd need quite a few others to be dead, as well.

How does it feel to wake up in the morning knowing that if you did not actually already exist, Benjamin Kunkel would be feeling the need to make you? That you would be necessary to the improvement of his life?

My plants could honestly say that about me had they any form of consciousness we might recognize, my son would actually be required to, my dogs might even be thinking this already in their own doggy way, but I know my husband is telling stories when he says anything close to it, and as for his children, or most of them, the thought would never cross their minds, although every time my stepdaughter mounts a double-pony to ride, she ought to. She is the one, aided by her father, who can bring me to acting just about the way she does, while being completely aware of what I am doing, and wondering why I can't just stop.

I don't particularly care that it is undignified. The only person judging is someone whose opinion I already disagree with so fundamentally as to occasion the fit in the first place. Worse is that it worries the dogs to no end to see me like that. They imagine their world falling apart, and they are right. I have begun to understand the number one reason given in court for divorce: unreconcilable differences. There are, it happens, differences that do appear to be unreconcilable. It came to mind as a possibility when we entered our 9th year of having the same argument, without appreciable progress made by either party toward better understanding, or even understanding at all, of the other's position.

This might be indicative of an element of unreconcilable in our differences.

The next big question that appears is which is worse? Accepting them and find a way to live with them, or accepting the futility of it and moving on? This is why it is a terrible thing to have a wedding album made. You were happy, for a day. At least until his youngest son made it his business to stare all his hate and fear into you while you tried to be gay and dance at your reception, and you realized that no one was coming to his or your rescue. Nor ever would.

You were on your own.

This begged another question: can one hope to be happily married while not liking all of one's stepchildren very much? Jon-Jon Goulian probably knows the answer to that, and I don't have to invent him to find out. I have a rough idea of my own answer. It is no. Children take us to the realm of the visceral, the irrational, the animal and the ugly in us all. In every parent, there is a mother grizzly bear just waiting for you to not appreciate their children, deserved or not, and if I had one single piece of advice to offer anyone considering marrying someone with children, I'd say to make sure you love them at least as much as your intended spouse and include them in the wedding. If they refuse to attend, that's probably a bad sign, one that indicates that you ought to probably reconsider; it isn't likely going to be worth the upset, because even if they do chose to attend, they will probably reconsider sometime later on anyway, and you will be the first to know when they do.

In fact, their mother or father should probably also wish to join the celebration because if they hate you then, that isn't likely going to get better either, which brings me back to the stack of books on step parenting and loving being a step mother.

I have been accused of thinking that I have done everything right and that the problem lies outside me. Shouldn't it be obvious that I am willing to consider the possibility that I might be mistaken in my presumption when my bedside table is groaning under a weight of paperbacks explaining How to be a Happy Stepmum step by step?

[I just saw the pun. Forgive me. Actually, it should be included in the title and I get copyright.]

I might as well read How to be a Happy Architect (yes, it exists), for all the good that comes of reading how to be happy in what makes you miserable.

Please note that my husband's bedside table groans under the weight of his reading glasses (the kind that magnify and that you can get at your corner grocery store), Robert Ludlum novels and dust.

In all fairness, I have as much dust on mine.

But all this has been pointing in one direction: blogging is sometimes not appropriate. There are subjects that cannot be contained comfortably in a blog, or in anything nonfiction. The most difficult thing is to find yourself faced with the monolith of The Novel. The actual need to create characters who live your stories and express your pain, who make the discoveries you are afraid to and find the courage to act, when you cannot. Not when there are so many that are not worth the dust on their jackets, filling whole bookshelves and as quickly forgotten as the Chinese take-out eaten earlier in the night, leaving a trace of themselves, like the oiliness of the inside of your mouth and stomach, but nothing substantial until you go back to George Eliot and forget them altogether.

I would not want to read one of those novels publishers find publishable because they are airy and easily forgotten as you move onto the next one and the one after. I would not want to find that I had written one, wasted my time making meals that coat the tongue and cause regret, but The Sisyphus Journals has begun to feel like it is not the time, nor the place.
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