Out of Sorts

On the bus yesterday, I made plans. I called the book store to reserve a copy of Freud’s case study of Dora at the front counter since I’d long ago lost mine. I set up dinner to catch up with my friend Jeff. I called to arrange a haircut with Mimi. The owner of the hair place told me that Mimi wasn’t available at 10:00 in the morning like I wanted. The CTA keeps the speakers on the bus at an incredible volume, so I missed part of what she said. I only heard “9:30.” I said yes and then hung up.

Today I am a wreck. My body feels incredibly disorganized. Apparently, I hadn’t made an appointment with Mimi. Mimi wouldn’t be in for another half an hour, and then she’d have a customer. Steve would be cutting my hair, which he hadn’t done for, I don’t know, almost ten years? Apparently, Steve’s boyfriend had left him on Christmas a couple of years ago. Steve wanted to throw out the boyfriend’s fishing kit, but was afraid and couldn’t do it: “He’s incredibly vindictive. You don’t cross that one.” Steve told me that he hates paying expensive heating bills, so last winter he moved into the guest room. It’s much smaller than the master bedroom, and a lot darker. “A lot darker. I moved in meaning to leave it in the Spring, but it suits me now and I never moved out.”

I left in a daze and even the well below zero temperature couldn’t brace me. My hair wasn’t bad, but everything was off. Mimi and I entertain one another. We never endure awkward conversations and I don’t ever need to tell her how I want my hair cut. I think I’ve used her almost without exception for about nine years, subtracting the year I lived in SF, the year I lived on the other side of town with an ex (going to the place where he got his hair cut) and the first year I moved to town when I’d switch from cutter to cutter to find one with whom I’d click. Yesterday I was reading a chapter on phantoms from The Shell and the Kernel by Nicholas Abraham and Maria Torok. It brought up an incident where the analyst realizes that the patient wasn’t really speaking of his own problems or neurosis, but rather voicing an obsession of his father’s. Another voice was speaking through the patient; the phantom occurs when you absorb someone else’s story. I have a pathological tendency to do this — my sense of self can be often be fungible –, and even though I’ve known all day that I’m not really depressed because of my own problems, I can’t seem to shake it. I feel cross-eyed and unable to focus. I feel overwhelmed by the small, black, furry creatures who keep waking up to stumble over to me in order to “mark” their ownership of my book, my nose, my glasses with their cheeks.

It eventually helped a bit to sit down and read Miranda July’s book of short stories, No One Belongs Here More Than You. I particularly liked the story “The Sister,” about two guys in their 60s who find one another through the prospect of one dating the other’s (non-existent) sister and with the aid of a tab of ecstasy. I feel like someone in the “bear” community you should adapt this into an arty film or a porn. I also enjoyed “It Was Romance,” about a bunch of ladies taking a seminar on romance. The stories in this book are about people living in and coping with a culture of emotional scarcity and creating functioning economies between themselves. It’s a good book even if no one is “pooping back and forth, forever.” From “It Was Romance”

I walked down the hall and saw that Theresa was sitting on the floor next to a chair. This is always a bad sign. It’s a slippery slope, and it’s best to just sit in chairs, to eat when hungry, to sleep and rise and work. But we have all been there. Chairs are for people, and you’re not sure if you are one.

I wish I’d been able to find some way of helping Steve clear his head, but we weren’t partners in a Romance seminar. He was cutting my hair, and I was a customer, and felt shitty/powerless next to his story.

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2 Responses to “Out of Sorts”

  1. untoward Says:

    Have you ever read “Two Serious Ladies” by Jane Bowles? I love that book for all its strange beautiful passages. I posted about it here:http://untoward.livejournal.com/324200.htmlShe's not exactly like July, of course, but they both come at things in a weird way I like.joey

  2. darknessatnoon Says:

    No, I haven’t read her yet though I’ve been meaning to for a long time. I still haven’t found a way to express what I like about these stories, and may post further about it. There something she does with her characters being lonely, unhinged, fuck-ups — I can’t quite say she romanticizes it — but I’m thinking in particular of the girl in the first story who sees the epileptic neighbor having a seizure and takes the opportunity to nap with him so that she can feel close to someone. In the meantime, I’ll check out Bowles.

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