murdery nineties teen edition

Hi friends,

It’s Spring Proper here, which means I’m starting to have wardrobe anxiety. I understand how to dress when it’s cold. I’m actually kind of good at it. But here at the equinox of my life, I find myself still failing to figure out how to look nice and be comfortable when it gets hot. If you want to stress me out, just say the word “sundress,” because I have yet to find one of these mythical cotton summer wonder items that sits right on me/is SFW. So now I’m staring down the barrel of being constantly a little sweaty, a little itchy, and a little grumpy, while gamely doing my best to be happy about the flowers and the birds and whatnot.

Other things I haven’t figured out (not at all a comprehensive list, really just scratching the surface here): boots, leggings, hair, work pants, eyebrows, scarves.


The Writing
I worked up my submissions queue to a nice state of churn this week. On the one hand, it feels good to have so many (by A.V. standards) pieces in motion, but on the other, more submissions means, you know, more form rejections. Fortunately, one of my writing goals this year is to hit 100 rejections, so I need to keep ’em coming. I’ve currently got 12 active submissions out there, including two “elder submissions” that I’m trying not to get overly attached to. I swear they’re like pet fish; the longer they survive, the more invested you get in them.

I wrote a sci-fi story, too! It’s … an English major sci-fi story, to be clear. But that genre intimidates me, and so now that I’ve written in it, I feel like a proud kindergartener bringing home a drawing for the fridge. It’s also opened up a whole new arena of speedy pro markets, which has been fun to explore.

The Reading
I  read Life on Mars by Tracy K. Smith this week. The thing that I love about poetry is that I don’t write it, I have no plans to write it, I know I would be terrible at it if I tried to write it, and so it’s something I can just read and enjoy. Or not. I can analyze it—or not. And I’m glad to have spent time with this Pulitzer Prize winning collection, which is a beautiful sci-fi-inflected (different flavor than mine) elegy for Smith’s father, who worked on the Hubble telescope.

I also read Nothing but Blackened Teeth by Cassandra Khaw, a nasty and fun novella set in a Heian ruin that pulls in all kinds of Japanese monsters and spirits and a terrifying main antagonist for a big, bloody splashdown of a finish.

I’m currently listening to The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris, and it’s great. There’s so much publishing industry inside baseball, which is catnip to read for someone who’s been  banging on that closed door for quite some time. And this book pulls no punches. It’s about a Black editorial assistant navigating an all-white publishing firm in Manhattan, with all the layers of unspoken privilege and entrenched structural inequalities that entails. In one pivotal scene, Nella’s powerful white boss puts her on the spot in a meeting with a successful white writer and goads her into giving him some candid feedback about his atrociously-written attempt to inject “diversity” into his manuscript. I’ve read scenes involving eyeball trauma and disembowelment that were less painful to get through. I’m only about a third of the way through it, but so far, I highly recommend it.

The Watching
Okay, I’m sorry I got so down on The Mandalorian and the general state of American entertainment last week. I didn’t realize there had been a meeting a couple of years ago where they decided that since I was going through a bit of a rough patch, they would produce an absolutely perfect piece of serialized content tailored with a ridiculous degree of specificity to my interests and needs, which is, of course, Yellowjackets. 

Holy hell, y’all, it’s so good. I don’t know why I thought it was just a teenage Big Little Lies (which I also haven’t seen and may have completely unfair preconceived notions about), but I’m so glad I finally got around to watching it. I’ve never been at a better point in my life to see Juliette Lewis and Christina Ricci grudgingly team up as middle-aged fuckups. Melanie Lynskey’s grown-up Shauna is the scariest one of them all, though, with that pleasant suburban smile and those speedy knife skills. In the flashbacks, the accurate portrayal of the sheer brutality of nineties teen girlhood is astounding. Plus the acid trip sequence set to “Down by the Water.” Kevyn’s Portrait of an American Family t-shirt. The While You Were Sleeping retelling. The excellent use of “Firestarter” and “Kiss from a Rose.” Perfection. Murdery folk horror perfection.

The Murder Garden
I was wrong, pitcher plants aren’t necessarily tropical. Nepenthes is (the biggest is Nepenthes raja, which can eat rats and birds[!]), but Sarracenia grows in the southeastern United States and is purportedly beginner-friendly. So I ordered a Sarracenia flava and started poking around tutorials for carnivore-friendly DIY planters.

I love you, and I hope you have something good to read and something good to eat this weekend. Take care of yourselves out there.

Keep up with me.

No promises.


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