Monday, March 12, 2007

short story no 1 in the style of wittgenstein's mistress


I remember I put that bag of healthy choice popcorn in the microwave. I had just cleaned off all the tomato sauce that had exploded on to all the sides of it, and you had just confessed to me that you had taken a picture of it while I had been away. It made me feel embarrassed for some reason, but I never told you.

I remember once as a kid I had a friend over at my house, and she cleaned up our microwave when she saw how dirty it was. That made me feel ill at ease too. Like old people must feel when they realize that they fail to do their dishes properly anymore, and their guests rinse their drinking glasses to get the greasiness off them before using them. It is amazing how much you can feel and think within such a short period of time. As I think of it now, I realize that it was only briefly that I felt and thought all of this.

I have this image of my grandmother’s face when it dawned on her that there was butter in our jar with raspberry jelly. I guess she had used the same knife to put butter and jelly on her toast. “Did I make a mess?” she asked my dad, when she could see he was trying to get some jelly without butter in it. Later, when he and I were grocery shopping, and he got a new jelly, he said to me that it was strange how he couldn’t eat the old one, even though it was just his own mother who had got the butter in there. I said to him that I thought it was more about the fact that he so dislikes butter. “I would never eat jelly with butter on toast either” I said.

I saw a documentary about Derrida where they film him as he is sitting at the breakfast table putting first butter and then honey on a piece of toast. He uses the same knife too, for both spreads, and even though the images are sort of gritty, you can tell that there are little crumbles of toast in the butter. He doesn’t seem to mind though. He just spreads it real meticulously on his toast, until the butter and the honey is all blended. I don’t think Marguerite minds either. That’s the name of his wife. Now that Derrida is dead, maybe she even misses finding little crumbs of toast in the butter. He died of aggressive pancreatic cancer at age 74. Deleuze committed suicide at age 70 by throwing himself out of the window, but apparently he had really serious lung cancer, and couldn’t speak any longer. Lyotard died of cancer too I think, at age 74. As did Paul de Man but at a younger age I think. Not that I ever read any of his stuff though. I just know all this from Wikipedia.

Sara and I speculated about there being a link between deconstructivist and postructuralist thought and dying early. Although I guess 70 and 74 is kind of average. All the same we have a thesis that maybe the kind of thoughts they were thinking aren’t too good for you. Which is sort of alarming, cos I guess theirs are the kind of thoughts that I am being taught to have in University. But really, imagine if there is a link between premature death and having counterintuitive thoughts. As I was just writing this I accidentally wrote “premature thoughts”. I think this is interesting.

I remember once we met up outside the library and decided to go home to my place and have English muffins. We heated those in the microwave too. Before going to my place I stopped by the deli and bought a pack of Oreos for desert. I carried the box under my arm, and as I came out again into the street, you asked me what I had got. “Tampons”, I answered and looked away. You just went “oh” I think. After a minute I showed you that it was Oreo’s I had got, and not tampons, and you told me that I should never say such things, because even if it weren’t true, it would stick in your mind forever. I guess I got what you meant, although I said I didn’t. Or maybe I said that I didn’t care if it stuck, because I can’t really change the fact that women menstruate. But in any case it’s true, you do manage to think so much in such a brief period of time. And it just sticks.

That was kind of the same thing that happened with my old neighbor Suzy, when I found that letter outside my door in which she accused me of throwing a party until 5 am on a Wednesday and being disrespectful to my neighbors. “You should make better efforts to stay quiet after 11 pm on weeknights” it said. I remember I started crying after that, cause I hadn’t thrown a party at all. Actually I had had a cold, and had been cooed up in my apartment writing my final papers. Well, I was only working on one at a time, but still.

I wrote a note back and told her all this, and asked her to inform me if she had told other people that it was me that had thrown the party. So that I in turn could inform them that it wasn’t me. And I think that was why I started crying I think, because just like the tampons, it was already out there, and so I could never entirely take it back.

This is what Sally says to Harry in “When Harry Met Sally”, after he has said he thinks she is attractive, and Sally says its improper for him to make such a comment since he is dating her best friend Amanda. “I take it back”, he says, and Sally goes: “you can’t take it back, cos it’s already out there”.

When I got my mail from Eddie in the lobby I asked him if he knew if Suzy had told other people about the noise, and he said I should just pet her dog Tilly, cos “she likes that”. I told him he didn’t get what I meant at all. “It wasn’t me that threw the party”, I explained, “she just thinks it was”. “Oh” he said, and drank from the carrot juice he always gets from the Egyptian guy next door. “Then don’t worry. I’ll tell her you’re a nice girl”. But this only made it worse, I guess, because for a moment Eddie also thought it was me that had thrown the party and been disrespectful to my neighbors. It just stuck even though I tried to correct it.

I think Suzy felt this too as a matter of fact. She came over an apologized and gave me a hug that made me feel weird. Then she came over again and said “I don’t wanna keep beating a dead horse around, I just wanna make sure we’re good?”, she said. That was the first time I ever heard that expression. About the dead horse that is. Sometimes I use it in class if I get too redundant. I learned this word too quite recently. Redundant. I use this a lot too. And reiterate.

When she came over the second time she brought me some chocolate rugelach, which I thought was such an odd gesture because the box had already been opened. I explained to her that I can’t have sugar because my teeth are really bad. “Well, it’s not that my teeth are that bad, its more that I produce vast amounts of acid when I have sugar, and it attacks my teeth to such an extent that it breaks them down”, I elaborated. “But I appreciate the thought” I said and smiled. She may have hugged me again after that, but I don’t remember.

When I meet her these days, I always pet Tilly. Luckily we don’t live on the same floor anymore, so it’s kind of rare that we bump into one another. But when we do, she always goes “Look Tilly, it’s Sarah!!!!” in a really frantic and excited voice. But Tilly never seems that excited to see me at all. Which is strange, because dogs usually like me a lot.

“You must have a dog”, a guy once said to me when I bent down in the street to let his dog sniff my hand before I petted it. “I wish”, I answered.

Later I found out that you had stuck the teddy bear, that Hanna gave me before going back to Amsterdam, inside the tomato splattered microwave too. It appeared as if it was its blood that had exploded onto the sides of it. Like in stories where people put their pets in there to dry them off.

I put the timer on three minutes, and as the minutes came to an end, smoke started coming from the oven. They were burnt of course. The popcorn that is. And the whole apartment smelled, and I had to open the other window too, the one without the screen. And you know how I hate that, because I so fear that bugs will fly in through the window.

That was what the exterminator said at least. I asked him “where do they come from?” Without skipping a beat he said: They comin’ from the windows!” He was talking about the waterbugs. He was wearing a dark blue overall. Then he placed the sticky traps around the apartment, but the only thing that ever got caught were those tiny little silver-colored insects you tend to see in the bathroom. That mouse got caught on one of those too, only it was much, much later, and on a different sticky trap. But the exterminator was the same.

I remember I called you and started crying because it was whimpering real loud for being stuck in the gluey gel, and I had no idea what to do with it. You laughed I think, and said that you could never figure what to do when I cry, because it seems as if I am cracking up at the same time. I think you commented on the time I cried because of the note from Suzy too actually.

Muhammad the doorman came up and threw it away in the trash bin while it was still alive. Sometimes he works 16-hour shifts, and I hear him snore when I come home late. Sometimes I ask him if I can get him anything if I step out to the deli. Once he asked for sugarless ice cream which I thought was such an odd request, because he is not skinny at all.

As it is, sugarless stuff isn’t good for you at all. I think it might be linked to cancer as so many things are. Along, perhaps, with deconstructivist thought. When my old roommate Stine interned at Farrar, Strauss and Giroux she read a script about “Sweet’n Low”, and she told me that Donald Rumsfeld had a hand in making the production of artificial sweeteners legal. We had “sweet’n low” at our house at the time, and she said she loved the pink packaging and wanted to bring some home with her to Copenhagen. I told her how I had been fascinated by it too when I was younger, and that I had brought some home with me from a trip with my mom to Seattle.

She asked me how young I was, and I said 16. She said that was so strange how she had just discovered this thing, and I had known about it for close to 10 years. It made me feel good for some reason, and later I asked her to explain to me what Sartre meant by the idea of “existential freedom”. We stood in the hallway between our rooms, and I made that wrinkle between my eyes that I get when I concentrate. In any case it evened things out between us. Me and Stine that is.

As I think of it, I actually made a postcard for my ex-boyfriend using the packaging of a sachet of “Sweet’n low”. Or rather, I used the writing on it, and of course he wasn’t my ex-boyfriend at the time. “An artificial blend of nutritive and non-nutritive sweeteners” I wrote on it. And then there was an image of a 70s porn-model that didn’t look like me at all, showering herself with a water-hose. I don’t think it dawned on me until much, much later that is was an apt metaphor for our relationship. When I think of it, it may not have been apt at all, but I like the idea that it could have been.

This happens to me a lot I think. That I make puns and metaphors and references without being aware of it. Just now it dawned on me that it was sort of clever to say that Sartre’s “existential freedom” evened things out between Stine and I, not least because I made a wrinkle between my eyes while she explained it to me. I like to think that I let the wrinkle go or evened it out when she was done explaining and I had grasped what she said. Or at least, pretended to grasp what she had said. Once someone asked me if Calvin Klein had been purchased by a bra manufacturer, and I said I didn’t know, only that it was a part of a holding company. This is sort of funny too.

Actually I once saw Calvin Klein drinking from a Styrofoam cup. It was at a lecture and he was tapping around real nervously on the podium. You would think this is linked to Derrida and the butter contaminated with crumbles of toast, but I don’t really think it is.

Then you came over and named the absent mouse Percy, but I can’t remember why. Only that you wrote me an email later, where you told me a romantic story about Percy being stuck to the gluey trap together with a lady mouse, just like Leonardo diCaprio held on to the piece of wood, which Kate Winslet was lying on in the ocean as the Titanic went down.

I once saw Leonardo DiCaprio in the street in the West Village, and I felt so self-conscious that I looked down into the pavement as I passed him by. I saw Kate Winslet too incidentally, but that was much, much later, and on a different block. She didn’t really make me feel self-conscious. Actually, I think she was the one that looked into the pavement as she spoke on her cell phone. I read somewhere that she shops at the Chelsea market.

Actually she didn’t look one bit as curvy as they describe her in magazines. My dad commented on this, and he even went back to see her, once more, although now he says he didn’t go back to see her, but rather to look at an Eames chair in a storefront window. “She was a skinny little thing, wasn’t she?”, he said. I think I may have nodded.

I remember that I felt like going on a diet after having passed Leonardo diCaprio in street. I never did, but it’s interesting that he made me want to. Especially in the light of the fact that I never really found him that attractive to begin with. Not to mention the odds of me passing by him once again. I saw Jake Gyllenhall twice though. He is really tall, whereas Danny DeVito isn’t. But that’s hardly a surprise to anyone.

Once I saw Ileana Douglas in Chelsea, but she didn’t make me want to diet at all. At least I don’t remember that she did. I still haven’t met anyone who knows who she is when I mention I saw her. Maybe this offers a clue to why she didn’t make me want to go on a diet. Although I remember her as being skinny. Once I told a friend of a friend that I had seen both Kate Winslet and Leonardo diCaprio in the street, and she didn’t find that amazing at all. Later I told her I had gone to a screening where Wim Wenders and Jessica Lange were there for a subsequent interview. She said she thought that was cool. But I don’t think I told her about Ileana Douglas. Perhaps because I hadn’t seen her yet at the time.

Later I googled for information on the waterbug to see if it really does fly through windows. I don’t remember what I found, only that it belongs to a German roach family, and that they sometimes enter through that little gap in the bathroom sink. After that I closed the gap off with duct tape.

I went for a walk after that and got three granola bars instead of the popcorn. But I never told you.

3 comments:

Pickle said...

Go Boo-Ba! Go Boo-Ba! 'At a good purple monster propped up by a pack of sugar free gum. Who could resist?

AC said...

Luv it!
AC

anna said...

I don't know Ileana Douglas either. I never saw anyone famous in New York, but my friend Artúr blamed me for never looking at people in the street after I missed both the tall guy with the long black hair and the weird skin AND the guy with the pirate patch, so maybe I just never realized I saw famous people.
I started swimming too. I have to think of you when I feel the muscles in my arms. And I never knew waterbugs can fly. This makes them slightly more scary then they already are.
I believe this blog makes me miss you a little...