Not Without My Decor

Curtains Have I Made
A set of curtains I’ve made

I’m feeling possessive of my curtains.  Paranoid might actually be a more accurate descriptor.  We’re getting ready to move again in a few months & my anxiety has decided to fixate on whether or not we’ll be taking them with us to the new place.

I’m sure that sounds like a small petty thing; maybe it is.  Let me explain it a little better.  We moved around a lot when I was a kid—not military-family a lot but as my parents’ jobs & finances changed, we inevitably found a new place every 3-5 years.  We never took the curtains with us & to this day, I don’t know why.  Maybe they didn’t want to deal with the hassle of taking down the rods & hardware & putting it up at another place.  Maybe there are super secret real estate arrangements that hinge on whether or not a family willingly gives up their window dressings.  Maybe my parents have some heretofore unknown superstition about carrying draperies (& by extension bad luck) from one dwelling to another.

I don’t know & for the most part, it was just a thing I didn’t get to have a say in, like the moving.  It didn’t really bother me until I got older, had a job, & was able to spend my own meager income on decorative things.  We moved into one house where the owner had left behind her own drapes in some of the rooms.  (Why?!  What is the reasoning?)  These were blackout drapes that were coated in cat fur near the top.  I was working at a linens store at the time & I spent a couple of weeks looking at what I liked & comparing prices, before finally settling on green panels & long gauzy white swags.  It would hardly make House Beautiful but I had ambitious dreams & a minimum wage budget, so I made it work.

A few years later, it was time to move again.  And when I brought up how I was trying to figure out how to pack the curtains, my mom told me I couldn’t take them because, they weren’t included in the contract.  HUGE fight followed: I’m screaming that I bought them with my own money & my mom yelling back that she’s not going back to the realtor to dicker over curtains.

When I finally moved out on my own, I didn’t take any curtains & lived in different rented places for seven years with just blinds & nothing else.  And then, my husband & I moved to our current place & I loosened up a bit.  There were no pre-existing blinds, the Target curtains we bought were flimsy & we had some drafts coming in through the windows, & I was learning how to sew. . . so I made curtains.  Nothing too fancy, just repurposed sheets that were on sale but they made me happy & they were pretty. . . & now we’re getting ready to move again.  And I don’t want to leave these behind too.

So I guess it’s time to grow up & ask why we always left the curtains behind.  At the very least, I still have the cheapie Target curtains; I’d have no problem leaving those for strangers.

Books, Thoughts

Off the Shelf: Sorry To Disrupt the Peace

Sorry to Disrupt the PeaceSorry to Disrupt the Peace by Patty Yumi Cottrell

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A gift from a friend who saw the recommendation as “Kafka crossed with David Foster Wallace” & thought of me. I have to commend her instincts; this novel definitely kept me reading & left me pondering the human mysteries it brought up. Helen Moran has received a phone call that her adopted brother has committed suicide & she decides to travel home to mourn him as well as uncover what happened to him. Told from her point-of-view, Helen’s interior monologue eerily conveys a character teetering on an edge, although readers may deduce that this is not an uncommon state for her.

First, Helen’s voice & skewed perspective is compelling & while she purposefully sets out to “solve” her brother’s suicide, she often seems to contribute to the mystery of her family’s difficult relationships as well. She’s not unlike Jesse in Suicide Blonde, where the world & its workings have completely confounded her & she’s determined to figure out her own way through the chaos. But where Jesse is chasing her fragmented dreams from her past, Helen appears to have never been comfortable in this world & creates entire structures for herself out of her own self-justification & whatever is at hand.

There are some great moments of pitch-black humor & her increasing desperation at proving her good intentions despite her erratic behavior humanized her for me. Ultimately, Cottrell seems to be shooting for a Pynchon-esque ending, where nothing is really answered & I can appreciate that. I just don’t know if all the narrative strings are wrapped up as satisfactorily as they could be. I wanted to know more about this character & how she could even get through a day with these experiences weighing on her, but had to settle for where the book ended.

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Audiophilia, Thoughts

Toronto Fragments

Matthew Good at REBEL Toronto on 3-16-18
Matthew Good at REBEL Toronto on 3-16-18

The drums that open the set like warning shots.  Matt strolling out to his guitar in camo & playing the opening chords with the economy & force of a salute.

Stood still and my memory quit . . . so don’t stop moving. Scream, clap, stamp, dance as much as the crowd allows. Lights strobing across my closed eyelids like a signal to pray & I do: thank you, thank you for the chance to be here. Both in the crowd & under those lights, every word ascends & unfurls like smoke against a mirror, both places at once & permeating the press of people, intoxicating & shocking us with the new setting for familiar words.

Breathe; scream There’s holes up in the sky; breath; scream And no one’s seen your son in days; breathe; scream Goddaaamn!; clap.  Dizziness comes & with it the thought: don’t let me fall, yes, please let me fall.  The split-second faith that nothing will go wrong surrounded by half-drunk strangers in a small space all fixated at one point in front of them.  The quiet break of unseen violins where all the lights go out except of a line of spots that trace a route over our heads & we all wait in expectation of being found.

My husband sheds a few tears quietly but I miss it, waiting for the next note, the next line to find a permanent line to my heart.  I turn toward him & sing Ivory green into his red eyes as if it means everything in the world.

Matt curves his arm against himself & sings Dream of something effortless.  I think of all the small factors that led to this moment: not just finding the club in a strange city or driving to a post office in the middle of nowhere to turn in the passport application, but his failed suicide attempt, my hospitalization, the station in Goldvein that played a bad redirected satellite feed of MuchMusic, his drug cocktail, the nights I couldn’t (& still can’t) sleep wondering why my heart is beating, the fog that lifts before the day breaks, the hospital that became a park, the parent that cared, the parent that didn’t, & the insidious tide of will that keeps us moving forward into life even when we want to quit.

Over it all, snow falls down onto the city with a secret message: Yes, this is the best dream & its yours.

All of us on the floor in the crowd are coming out of our lives & our heads to grasp these words that promised us so much.  We hold each other & sing gleefully despite the irony We’re stuck inside out own machines.  No boats, no lonely sailors, just the ocean crashing forward onto the stage, begging the earth to fall back with us.  During the violins of the last song, as the drummer & the other guitarists throw their picks & sticks into the crowd, Matt stays onstage & sings into our waves Here by my side, it’s heaven over & over again until the playback stops & he braves the pull of our screams before walking away in the dark.

Later, in the hotel room, I will itch for alcohol, my husband will cry again as I play him another song, & we will stare at Matt’s Instagram newly updated with a picture of his cut open finger.  We all know we are not the same & we walk forward with that knowledge.

Be well, Matt. Rest, heal, create another day.

Audiophilia, Thoughts

Monday Music: “Flametop Green”

Hey there everyone, it’s late on a Monday & I want to put something up on the blog, but I’m tired & facing a basket of laundry.  So, I thought I’d share a nice calming song as the day winds down.  I’ve mentioned this one before, but here’s the song itself.  Consider it my long-distance dedication to you, dear Reader, in hopes that it will give you some time to recollect yourself at the beginning of the week.

Books, Thoughts

Off the Shelf: Brown Girl in the Ring

Brown Girl in the RingBrown Girl in the Ring by Nalo Hopkinson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

3.5 instead of 4. Ti-Jeanne has a baby she doesn’t always want, visions that she can’t control, & a life in a destroyed city that didn’t welcome her. Her grandmother Gros-Jeanne tries to lead her into accepting her reality & making it better. But it isn’t until Ti-Jeanne’s spurned lover knocks at her door with a plea to escape Toronto that she has to decide whether or not to face her hard circumstances & rise above them or escape with him.

This book was on a recent NPR list that focused on Afro-Futurism & mentioned this book so I thought I’d pick it up. I was drawn in by the tension between the traditions that define Ti-Jeanne’s life & how the city of Toronto doesn’t seem to nurture them. (I feel like some of this push-and-pull is what was missing from The Galaxy Game.) The book is also written with just enough dialect to keep me captivated, instead of blocked out. Fans of Sacred Games, you’ll appreciate the language work here. There were times that the everyday moments of Ti-Jeanne’s life dragged, but it is possible that this was a result of reading the book in an electronic format. I’ve found that it can be a lot easier to skim/skip parts that don’t interest me when I’m not holding a physical book. Ultimately, the beautiful parts of this book are in the atmosphere & the paranormal insights that Ti-Jeanne has when her faith & her adopted land come together in her mind. Everything else in the plot seems to dull in comparison.

Also, content warning: there is a graphic clinical description of a heart transplant. If you are squeamish, like me, you’d do best to skip that section. There are other body horror elements, but not as terrible as the described surgery.

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