Monday, December 01, 2008

A Field Guide To Demons

Hey everyone! Thanks again for all the recent comments! I'm working on editing the middle of my book which I'm calling A Field Guide To Demons (a title stolen from a book that catalogs demons -- groovy idea!). What I realized is that I'm going from an enclosed space in sections of the texts to a more open area. So I guess, despite my gloomy ways, I'm writing a redemption story. How did that happen? Life, along with love, is a profound mystery. Here's a small section. Thanks for reading!

My marriage suffered all the the unspoken grief from my rapes, the iceberg we could hit from time to time. My now ex-husband gave up his time practicing with his band when he came to understand how awful I found it to be alone in the apartment at night. I had so loved being alone and found myself in the bizarre hell of being unable to spend so much as a few minutes without another person around without starting to panic. The days took on a sameness that comes with chronic fear. My life became divided between the person everyone saw and my secret damaged self.

"Try not to be afraid, dear," Hank would say every now and then, unaware of what was making me feel so awful and too smart to ask direct questions. I thought of him saying this when I approached his casket. Sweet Hank who had longed for someone to call him dear, his favorite term of affection. I remember a beautiful waitress who used this term -- he ordered a lot of pasta on her shifts.

His body appeared jaundiced and bloated. I touched him one last time, thought about how I had held my mother's dead body after everyone left, no longer afraid of hurting her. At least she's not suffering anymore, I'd hear a thousand times that week. And a lot of people told me that Hank's vision would be perfect in Heaven, but in my mind he'd always seen what he needed to see on earth. The line made me think of all the things Hank didn't want to see in this world like the time we watched Blue Velvet with friends, including one deeply unattractive girl from our old high school who had dropped by in a teeny-tiny mini-skirt, her mottled thighs on full display. Having pined after Hank for years, she seized her chance to squeeze close to him for the duration of the film.

"She sat on my good side, Michelle," he said, making a poo face.

There was so much unrequited love, so much mystery. Hank had loved our friend Erin ever since her family showed up in town, the last stop on her father's tumultuous career path, a brilliant man hindered by the bottle. Also brilliant, Erin stood almost five feet tall, wore thick glasses, and topped her plain face with a John Denver-inspired bowl cut.

Hank referred to Erin as the bitch, as if she were both a person and a platonic ideal. They argued all the time and Erin refused to give into his desire, already feeling the horrible claustrophobia of being a beloved.

Since I didn't have many female friends when I got married, choosing the thin gruel of being a girl mascot for groups of men, Erin seemed a natural choice for a bridesmaid. Because Hank so vocally opposed our decision to wed, my betrothed did not choose him as a groomsmen so there would be no pretend walk down the aisle for them. For my bachelorette party, Erin, Tim, and I went to see The Prince Of Tides. Seeing Nick Nolte anally-raped and having to work out his pain in therapy should have clued me into the underlying them of my own marriage had I been looking for signs.

The night before the wedding, my parents and bridesmaids all gathered in my grotty apartment for my last night as a single girl. Having eaten a dinner of KFC, I nestled on the floor and hoped for sleep. Instead as I eyed the bride and groom troll dolls my mother had bought me to honor the big day, Erin tapped my shoulder.

"I've always wanted to be with you," she said.

I pretended to sleep and thought about Jeff, the artist I had never gotten over. He was back in town like some cosmic joke, just in time to ruin any peace. Did anyone end up with the right person?

Erin moved back to her Strawberry Shortcake sleeping bag, a leftover from childhood sleepovers that still accommodated her small frame. I slept in an old red sleeping bag that my dad had owned since he was a boy. It often got used during camping trips when the family piled in the car for Corpus Christi. I could remember shaving my legs in the Gulf Of Mexico. Those days seemed far away. My parents slept on my great grandmother's old bed, the bed I shared with her for years. Now it would be my marital bed. I thought about all the sadness and hardship that had haunted my parents' marriage. I knew even before my marriage started that it would end as soon as I began to get well, whenever the hell that might be.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
“Be a lamp unto yourself. Work out your liberation with diligence.” Buddha

Cocktail Hour
Drinking movie suggestion: Milk
Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Monday!


the walking man said...

The voice is honest and hinting at emotion rarely displayed through the acceptance of your circumstances.

Poo face?

Brian in Mpls said...

I love the title.

I ended up with the right person it just took a long twisted path to get there.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of Platonic ideals . . .

Charles Gramlich said...

"hindered by the bottle" is a great line.

As for redemption. I sometimes think that all stories are redemption stories, either actual or implied.

Lana Gramlich said...

Really drew me in! I love the part; "choosing the thin gruel of being a girl mascot for groups of men..." So evocative!

Tuesday's Gone said...

I remember reading this so well.

Your writing has so much power. 10 million times as sexy as anything physical could ever be.

Scott said...


Another impressive piece of writing. Your work always has so much emotion and feeling in it, even in small excerpts like this one.

And that picture...impressive, also. :)

Laura Benedict said...

Love it.

They're all redemption stories. If they're any good. ;)

JR's Thumbprints said...

The initial pastoral scenery in Blue Velvet is a great opener--the tulips, the old red fire-truck, the townspeople waving; It makes us comfortable, it gives us a sense of belonging ... that is, until the violent stroke of man watering his lawn and the discovery of a detached human ear in a field. It's all down hill from there.

Hey Michelle, Sounds like the book is coming along fine. Can't wait to see the finished product.

Anonymous said...

The writing is so heartfelt today. Much more honest than usual.

But, is a question--- why, Darling, are you exposing yourself in your underpants to strangers? You are better than that.

There is an element here to encourage you to be raw...fine. But mainly men are your commentators...and the women are silent about your undress.

Certainly, you are pretty-- and that is wonderful, Michelle. But, you are exposing yourself to the internet of strangers.

It's like trying to save Edie Sedgwick. Cover up, Darling. Your writing exposes enough--- and it is artful--- and beautiful. Leave something to be desired... From, A Faithful Reader

Cheri said...

Jesus Michelle.

Scott said...


Just for the record, I do like your pictures, but I'd read your words if they had no pictures at all accompanying them.

You do whatever the Hell you want, it's your blog!