11/13/11

the woods, week 2.

Not to alarm everyone, but my little stone house is haunted. There are big brown spiders. I’ve seen two so far, or it might be the same one. The first time I picked him up in a towel and shook him outside. Then I watched him immediately scurry into a crevice near the doorstop, so he might have just come back in. Better it’s the same spider, right? I’m not afraid of spiders. I don’t want them crawling all over me but my fear is proportional to the harm they can do, which as I understand it is not very much. Even if the big brown spider is one of the poisonous kind, he would have to bite me like twenty times before I died, wouldn’t he?

Something lives inside the chimney, I can tell you that much. The thing inside the chimney has sharp claws and an itch that she waits to scratch until just before I’ve begun to fall asleep. She is irregular. More terrifying than the scratches is the silence between, when I’m waiting for it.

A gurgling ghost in the toilet, but what else is new. He’s either gasping for air, or like a fish, the water is his air.

Mostly they live inside my head. Too many horror films. I turn around and my brain thinks there will be a person standing there. Coming or going from the bathroom, what if there’s a person standing there. When I turn around, what if someone snuck right up behind me. What if, what if, and no need to finish the thought.

Look, I get over it. I’m not huddled in the corner of my studio with all the lights on terrified until morning. I will let my feet dangle over the side of the bed, no problem. I imagine how horrible it would be if a scaly hand reached out and grabbed my ankles and I brazenly do it anyway. That’s what being a grownup is.

There’s this thing about me and my past that pretty much nobody knows about. It was so significant at the time, more than a year of this, but I was around 8 years old? Over 20 years ago, who cares about a terrible year that happened when you were 8. It sounds dumb but I’m just going to tell you anyway.

My mom went away for the weekend and I had this babysitter. She did my mom’s nails. We watched the movie Pet Sematary about a million times that weekend. I’ve seen it again recently – it’s kind of a good movie, actually. It’s brilliantly campy and absurd. That weekend, I watched it over and over and over again. I was terrified of the sister with the weird disease and the little boy and the idea that animals and people would come back to life to kill me and my entire family but I couldn’t stop watching it.

After that weekend, some thing happened inside my brain and I was just completely fucked.

First of all, my bedroom was not a bedroom. It was my mother’s closet made into a tiny room that held my bed and my stuff. My mom’s clothes lined the far wall. I used to share a room with my sister but they put me in the closet because I was too messy. My sister tried putting a strip of duct tape across the floor but I guess I was sort of a brat about it and threw my stuff over to her side anyway. So, until I was almost 16 my bedroom was my mother’s walk-in closet.

After that weekend I was terrified of everything and I couldn’t sleep alone at night. My mother would read me books and then when she got up to leave I would cry and scream and claw at her until she agreed to come back. I made her stay with me, but even then I was still scared, and it took me forever to fall asleep. Oftentimes when she got up to go back to bed it would wake me up, and I would whimper at her to come back.

A year of this. My mom tried really hard to be patient with me but it completely exhausted her. You could see it all over her face. An 8 year old could see it. Once she sat out in the car all night because she was afraid she might lose her mind and murder me. My brother and sister were fed up. They’d say, “Molly, can’t you understand you’re driving our mother fucking crazy?” and I knew I was but this thing inside of me was bigger than my desire to be considerate. I thought there were people hiding behind my mother’s clothes. When I shut my eyes, I thought the second I opened them there’d be a wrinkly-faced woman peering down at me. There were monsters under the bed and undead animals slithering around above the ceiling tiles.

It just went on and on and on like this. It was embarrassing. I was too old to be behaving this way. Once I flipped out at a slumber party and the parents called my mother to come pick me up, angrily. Mom took me to a kid shrink. Some other stuff happened. I don’t know. Eventually I was able to pass a single night alone in the closet with all the lights on. I remember just staring around the room with the covers up to my chin, fighting to keep my eyes open until I fell asleep or went blind or something.

Everyone thought I’d gotten better, and I had, but only just enough that I was able to keep it to myself. I slept with the covers over my head right up until one of my siblings left and I finally moved into a big kid room.

Years later my mom told me she thought something else must have happened that weekend, that the nail technician babysitter had done something funny to me, but I don’t think so. I’ve always been “dark.” I just had this wild imagination without an off switch. I think I was mad about being put in the closet, but I’m not the type of person that expresses anger properly. My first reaction to being slighted is that it must be my fault. I am only vaguely considering the idea that ghosts and demons are real and have a way of coming out whenever we’re alone together.

I do go on! I hope that wasn’t terribly boring for you to read. It was surprisingly painful to write.

About the writing and whatnot: I started my novel over today. The first couple of weeks are designed for making mistakes, I figure.

You know, I check my stats for this site from time to time, and I discover that people out there are reading. Often I can guess where you’ve come from and why, but it’s weird when you’re from some state I’ve never been to and I see that you’ve clicked on a lot of links and stayed for an hour. I just hope I’m not letting you down. A blog devoted to talking about pretty much nothing but me and my feelings… I feel like I’m getting away with murder here.

 

11/6/11

The Woods, Week 1.

Dear Diary,

Hi. Remember me? It’s me, Molly.

The MacDowell Colony is pretty weird, I’d say. The living all alone in a studio in the woods of New Hampshire is the best part, probably. The worst part is that all the other people are strangers and it’s scary to have to talk and get to know them. It’s a rotating door with people coming and going always. I almost said, “like rehab,” out loud to someone but I’m trying to do things differently this time and not say weird, alienating things right out of the gate. Trying and failing, I suspect, but oh well.

Here is what my days are like:

I wake up every morning around 7:30 AM, which makes every morning a christmas miracle. You have to get up early because you can only get eggs for breakfast between 7:30 and 8:30 and after that it’s continental, which, you know, that’s cool, I’m not fussy, but they only have cows milk for the cereal, and pardon me, but that’s disgusting. Do I look like a baby cow? I am a baby almond, or coconut, or rice or soy bean, thankyouverymuch.

The communal meals have a way of seriously stressing me out, because it seems to me that the other people just love to be in each other’s company, whereas I am terrified of them and only ever want to be alone. Once at breakfast I thought I was very lucky to find that the one table everyone was at was full up. So I just sat at the empty table, but this always makes people flip out. People always flip out when you try to sit at an empty table, like I was crying and feeling so lonely and unpopular when really I was so, so grateful, but they said no, pull up a chair, come sit with us. I know that they’re just trying to be nice and making sure that I behave normally, and I’m not trying to complain. I just always wish I could do whatever I want without worrying about other people’s feelings, and you can’t. Not even alone in the woods at an artist’s colony can you do that.

On another morning, the people with tortoise-shell glasses motioned me to their table, but there were all these hearty, amazing men at the other one, and I thought, yes! The salt of the earth, blue collar writers are here! So I sat down and they were very friendly and easy to talk to, reason being that these were all maintenance men and groundskeepers.

The only thing that would make this place better is if it were me and a bunch of homeless people. Then I would feel really good about myself instead of weird and terrible.

In the time between breakfast and dinner we do whatever we want. What I usually want to do is hang out in my studio writing, or reading, or playing the guitar or eating out of the picnic basket they leave at my doorstep around noonish. Sometimes I walk around in the woods. The woods are filled with little creeks and moss covered stones. There was a lot of snow when I got here but it’s beginning to melt. It’s all really fucking inspiring and beautiful and shit.

Mollybear loves picnic.

I’ve seen 5 deer total, and they seem like very fast, happy deer. Today I walked by one who just stood on the side of the path staring at me. Temple Grandin has an entire chapter in her book called, “Fear is Worse than Pain” and so it’s very important to me that I am calm and make deer in my path feel as safe as possible. To do this I tell my heart to tell the deer’s heart, “I am your friend and I will not hurt you,” and I walk slowly and keep my head down and look deferential. It’s a serious sacrifice because I’d really like to look at the deer. I walked by her twice and both times she didn’t run away and that makes us both happy, I would like to think.

At dinner, again I have to see all the people, and I really don’t mean to complain about the people, they really are nice, they are just such terrible reminders of what a weirdo I am and how poorly my social skills have developed that I can’t help but resent them. On my first night I gave a brief intro where I said that I was from Michigan and had arrived there from school in Montana, so most conversations start with “Where in Michigan.” A girl who is a really nice person and sculptor said to me, “I went to graduate school at Cranbrook,” and she said it sort of apologetically because it’s such a good school. And what did I say? I said, “Cranbrook is a really great school. I used to work as a custodian there,” which is, you know, true, in high school I worked in the bloomfield hills school district and I cleaned the toilets at one of Cranbrook’s satellite locations, but who am I, Good Will Hunting? I mean, it was a Humble Brag, big time, and I can’t even pretend like it was an accident, I pretty much do feel that way. So that sentence has been echoing in my head for the last 5 days or so, plus other stupid things I’ve said that are too horrible and numerous to go into further.

There are plenty of young people here and almost all of them come from Brooklyn. If I want to feel poor, insecure, meek and weird, not just for the next two months but for forever and all of time, I think I should probably move to Brooklyn and try to distinguish myself as an artist there.

My favorite person so far has been a shy, gentle man with a killer mustache and a tattoo on his neck. I thought for a second he wanted to have sex with me, which I love about a person, but then when I asked him if he was happy about going home he said, “mixed feelings. you know, I’m homesick. I miss cooking and I miss my boyfriends.” I told him that I didn’t miss any of those things, and we had a good laugh about that. “I miss my boyfriends!” Oh my god. The best. That night he performed an autobiographical monologue in the library that included a lot of dick sucking. It was pretty great. Of course he’s leaving now.

Most nights they put on a talent show and a couple people present what they’re working on. It’s fun. It’s great to see people other than writers who are very serious about and excellent at their craft.

I miss the internet but it’s not that bad. I have one bar on my phone so I can get text messages in my room and I can check my email. I don’t get enough email and it makes me mad. I would very much like to know if they are utilizing James Spader’s character more on The Office because I very much like his character. I miss The Biggest Loser and The Daily Show, but those are the three shows I watch, and you know what, it could be worse. If things are going badly in politics or whatever, I am happy to not know that stuff.

The library has internet and it’s about a 5 minute walk through the woods from my studio. People at home have been scolding me whenever I check Facebook, like I should be some sort of writing slave who has given up their Facebook privileges. Well fine. I am (mostly) taking it to heart and try not to interact much so that people are content that I am sufficiently suffering.

Not to belabor the point, but I mean, you do know it’s not “Facebook” that I love, right? That it’s the people and the relationships that it allows me to maintain and nurture? Whatever. I’ll try not to use Facebook.

The writing is going really well. I feel good about my progress. The fact that every correspondence I have with people from back home usually contains something akin to, “We expect great things from you” scares me a little but not as much as you might expect.

Here’s what I do: I meditate some, or I just sit still on my bed and think for awhile. I try to very literally get into an unconscious, trance like state. Then I write in my notebook as fast as I can and for as long as I can. At night I type it all up on my laptop and marvel at the sheer number of words I’ve created and I try very hard to delay the fear and panic that the words are all wrong, arranged in the wrong order and amount to all the wrong ideas and sentiments.

I really do think it’s going well and I’m so grateful to be here.

Here is my little house.

Love,
Molly