Collage

We fall onto the unmade bed, hands clutching and mouths exploring. Our skin is burnished by the light of a bare red bulb screwed into the overhead fixture.  We don’t talk. We couldn’t talk even if we wanted to, because music blasts forth from somewhere in the Stygian depths of the room. It’s AC/DC.  I listen to the fierce beats and shattering chords, trying to decipher its meaning.  Somewhere within it has to be the declaration I long for.   She was the best damn woman I had ever seen. Could that be it? Or, maybe, She was one of a kind, she’s just mine all mine ?

Evening Shadows v.2

As his tongue traces the length of my neck, I study the dim posters on the wall, a host of centerfolds. There’s a blond stepping out of a shower, her voluminous hair somehow dry, while her white negligee is sodden and transparent. There’s a brunette straddling a bar stool, her buttocks gleaming and her lips pouting. A redhead lounges on a leather couch, tugging at her panties, revealing that upstairs and downstairs do indeed match.  He notices my distraction. “You could be that hot too, if you exercised more.” He thinks he’s complimenting me.  But, I wonder, am I just a sorry substitute until one of those women on his walls, a “fast machine,”comes along to “shake him all night long?”

After the kids have been fed and the dishes cleaned up, I retreat to the couch with my laptop. There’s work to do and bills to pay, but Facebook lures me into its depths. Serena has recorded a video of her baby eating her first bites of mashed peas. Jennifer craves donuts but is supposed to be on a diet. Lydia shows how she applies winged eyeliner, a skill I know I’ll never master.

And then, my attention is caught by a video of a presidential candidate in a bus. I push play. All at once, someone flushes a toilet, the heater wheezes, and Fatty, my attention-deprived cat, leaps into my lap. The beginning is lost to me, but I tune in when the candidate says, “I took her out furniture shopping. She wanted to get some furniture. I said, ‘I’ll show you where they have some nice furniture.’” I wrinkle my brow. This is news?

On President’s Day, I visit my garden. I look at the rectangular bed and remember it last fall when the tomatoes were plump on the vine, the abundant zucchini crowded out the moth-eaten broccoli and frilly greens suggested where sweet carrots might be hidden beneath the soil. Now the plot is covered in mulch, a thick layer of leaves from my oak tree and a few burlap bags. The plantings must be rotated this year, to keep my garden healthy and fruitful, but it’s hard to imagine how it could be better than it was. Deciding to plant snap peas on the northern end, I kneel down, close to the cement rubble border, and begin pushing away the leaves with my gloved hands. The denuded soil is damp and black. I pick up a handful and squeeze. When I open my fingers, the clod crumbles. Not too wet then. It’s ready for tilling.

My bra is unfastened and his saliva coats my areolae. His hands sweep down my torso and land on the fly of my jeans. Alarmed, excited, I realize his intent. What should I do? We’ve kissed. He’s touched me in intimate places. He’s seen my bare breasts. Is it too late? My throat is clogged with words and my hands go limp. He says, “I need you now,” and tugs off my pants. His knee parts my legs. And then those words of mine are useless. Pain flares through my core and I squeeze my eyes shut, tears leaking through the creases. He collapses with a groan. It’s over for him, but it’s the beginning for me.

The candidate goes on, “I better use some Tic Tacs just in case I start kissing her. You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful—I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.” I’m so entranced by the flickering images and grotesque sound bites streaming from my laptop that I don’t notice the subtle change in the air and dimming of the light behind me. The candidate says, “Grab ’em by the pussy.” My twelve-year-old daughter, with blushing cheeks and budding breasts, asks, “What’s he talking about?” I slam the laptop shut, but it’s too late.

As I till the soil, loosening clumps and removing hairy root systems, I think about the old saying that women start gardening when they give up on sex. It makes sense. Gardening is a sensual activity. In this moment, I smell a hint of manure, feel the chill of the soil, hear bird song and taste the imminent rain. The physicality of this work makes it seem more intimate than the mental work of balancing ledgers and composing emails. If it were a substitute for sex, it wouldn’t be a bad one. But that’s as much as I’ll concede. I haven’t given up on sex, have I? What about romance? In four to six weeks, these snap peas will mature. They will be crisp and sweet. Too good not to share.

TBR Highs & Lows

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These are some of the books on my Goodreads “Want To Read” shelf that I’m most excited to crack open.

 

The Queue by Basma Abdel Aziz. This looks so intriguing and I need to read it during Women in Translation Month.

After a failed popular uprising, citizens of a familiar, but fundamentally different, Egypt must petition The Gate to resolve even the smallest of every day affairs. Unfortunately, The Gate never opens and the queue before it grows longer day by day.


The Secrets of the Starbucks Lovers (Taylor Swift: Girl Detective #1) by Larissa Zageris, Illustrated by Kitty Curran. This just seems so darned hilarious that I HAVE to read it.

One of the world’s most famous pop stars moonlights as a girl detective in the grand tradition of Nancy Drew. In this installment, she helps a starlet solve the mystery of the threatening messages she receives on her skinny mochas.


The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid. I will admit that this book doesn’t sound all that interesting to me, but so many of my friends are R.A.V.I.N.G. over it that I have to see what the fuss is all about.

This book taps into the public’s fascination with the private lives of Hollywood stars like Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor. In it, a legendary film actress reveals all–the twists and turns in her rise to the top, her love affairs and her closely guarded secrets.


The Merry Spinster: Tales of Everyday Horror by Mallory Ortberg. I love a witty and clear-eyed take on the tales that have shaped our culture and ourselves. I’d also love to read Ortberg’s popular book, Texts from Jane Eyre, which sounds really funny and has particular appeal for this former English major.

In this book, Ortberg reinvents classic fairy tales with her trademark wit, feminist ideology, emotional honesty–all the while refusing to shy away from psychological horror.


Sunlight 24 by Merritt Graves. This sci-fi exploration of social inequities sounds fascinating. I’ve received an ARC of this from Netgalley and am looking forward to finding out if the story is as good as the premise.

Dorian Waters can’t afford the nano-implant that would help him gain an equal footing with other members of society. He can’t get a job; he can’t get into college and he can’t get the girl…

tbr_lows

I’ve made space for more intriguing works on my Goodreads “Want to Read” shelf, by removing these five books.

 

Wolf Hall by Hillary Mantel. I started to read this in 2012. Despite being about one of the most fascinating times in history and featuring one of the most fascinating characters –I just couldn’t get into it. Perhaps I wasn’t in the mood for it, or perhaps it really was as boring as I felt it to be. Deleting this from my TBR list feels like dropping a huge weight from my shoulders. I’ll also be deleting the second book, Bring Up the Bodies.


Ink is Thicker than Water by Amy Spalding. I may have put this on my TBR list as a reminder to pick up a copy for my daughter. In any case, the themes in this young adult book aren’t personally compelling, so I’ll make room for other books that excite me more.


Note to Self by Alina Simone. This book is about all the things that currently occupy a lot of my mental space, particularly the “search for a meaningful life in an era of rampant narcissism,” however, the reviews for this book are so low that I’ll seek enlightenment elsewhere.


The Marriage Contract by Katee Robert. I like a bit of gratuitous romance and sex, but I’ve lost patience with books where two characters are forced into a relationship and end up falling in love despite themselves. The notions of love and force shouldn’t be romanticized. Frankly, I’m not sure how this book ended up in my TBR list to begin with.


The Well-Ordered Home: Organizing Techniques for Inviting Serenity Into Your Life by Kathleen A. Kendall-Tackett. I must have been sniffing oven cleaner when I put this book into my TBR list. It’s not the sort of thing I would buy anyway. Usually, when I need tips of this sort, I ask my mother or browse Pinterest.


TBR Highs & Lows was inspired by Howling Libraries. The more who wish to participate, the merrier! Here are the rules:

  • Link back to the original post at Howling Libraries
  • Sort your Goodreads TBR shelf by date added, ascending
  • Find 5-10 (or more, if you feel ambitious!) titles to purge from your TBR (the “lows”)
  • Post those 5 books in the list, with a brief explanation of why you removed it
  • Next, sort your Goodreads TBR shelf by date added, descending
  • List the last 5 (or more!) books you added to your TBR, with a synopsis or your brief summary of why you added it (the “highs”)

 

First Line Fridays: The Library at Mount Char

firstlinefridays

What’s the first line of the closest book to you? Leave me a comment, then head over to Hoarding Books for more great lines from great authors!

“Carolyn, blood-drenched and barefoot, walked alone down the two-lane stretch of blacktop that the Americans called Highway 78,”

~Scott Hawkins, The Library at Mount Char

My first line is from The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins. From the blurb on Amazon/Goodreads, this book appears to be wholly unique. It’s about a woman, who once was an ordinary American, but then her parents died and she was taken in by a man known simply as Father. She and the other inhabitants of his home spend their time in a great library studying its secrets. They speculate that Father is actually God and the library holds the truth about creation–but then Father disappears leaving the library unguarded…

mount char

I cannot wait to dig into this one.