the parchment-like partitions of the pods of honesty

rock garden 010


Dear internet-

it’s been a minute. It rained today, internet. It hailed actually. I know they don’t have hail where you’re from, internet. Well I’ll tell you what it was like. It was like the sky fell down, but the sky was made of water, and then afterwards nothing was different at all, because the ground is made for those sorts of occasions, and the ground just funnels it all away and then throws it back up at the sky, and on and on, and I live in a little shack and so I watched it from inside, through the raspberry canes that bend outside my window. I was scrunched up in my reading chair, internet, sickness curled inside me like a tapeworm. A tapeworm that eats all light, a tapeworm that eats all hope. A tapeworm that makes me feel as though my life is over, already, and I am just a ghost watching the world carry on without me. And so I didn’t go to dance class, aka Thug Camp, because I felt so sick, even tho I really, really like dancing “thuggish”, which is not my adjective, but the instructor’s. And I like dancing “thuggish” in my dorky sweatpants, with all the women in huge baggy clothes and neon high-tops who swing their glossy, ironed hair around and when they stop dancing their glossy, ironed hair falls exactly into place.

But then, internet, it turns out it was just the start of my period, not the end of the world, and now I feel much better. I left my shack and went inside and talked to Kristi about Halloween costumes while she cooked a bunch of meat. I don’t really feel inspired by Halloween, internet. I think the last time I felt inspired about it was in 2004 when I dressed up as my friend Wej. I put on clothes he liked to wear and someone drew his tattoos on my arms and legs and then I walked around all night pretending to be him. Everyone thought it was hilarious and we were friends so I thought it was ok, but then like three weeks ago he told me that it had hurt his feelings, which is crazy because nothing ever hurts his feelings. Except I wonder if him read me writing that nothing ever hurt his feelings, maybe it would hurt his feelings?


I had a really good idea last night, internet, right before I feel asleep, about how to actualize my insane privilege so that I really have as much money as I look like I should. Having that much money would be awesome, because I wouldn’t have to try and find a job in Portland. I’m sure you don’t know this, internet, but trying to find a job in Portland is like ten times harder than actually working. No, more like ten hundred times harder. Trying To Find A Job In Portland basically involves having a staring contest with the internet, i.e. Craigslist, and everyone knows that the Portland Craigslist job board is really just a two-dimensional manifestation of the Flaming Pits of Hell, Impossible Horrors, and Eternal Damnation. It’s kind of arty, actually, when you think about it that way. Really The Portland Craigslist Job Board should just be called the NO Board, because it’s where you go when you want the universe to say NO to you. Like- “oh what did you do today?”

“Oh, I spent a while on the NO Board.”

“Oh man! Is that why you look like such shit?”


But really it’s worse than that, because the Portland Craigslist Job Board doesn’t even say “NO”- it doesn’t say anything at all. It’s like lighting a candle and saying a little prayer, except instead of a candle you have a little tape player that just plays a soundtrack of people laughing at you. It’s like trying really, really hard, and then failing, but doing it every day. It’s like attempting to win the lottery. It’s like making crush art and then burning it. It’s like writing a really amazing story and then losing it. It’s like running on a treadmill that makes you more out of shape. It’s like having your computer stolen.

You think I’m joking, but everyone keeps saying that Portland and Detroit are like neck and neck as Worst Places In Country To Try And Find A Job, and I’ve never been to Detroit but I feel like I can imagine that the two job markets ARE sort of weird, insanely different but eerily alike, parallel-reality hell pits.

The NO Board ate three months of my last winter, and I refuse to give it any of this one. So I’m working really hard to manifest wealth the old-fashioned way- in my head. I also might try talking to people, like real humans who have faces and stuff, because sometimes they have information that is useful, if you can imagine it. Or I might even try setting out on my own two feet, an object propelled through space, and pushing open the rain-flung glass doors of three-dimensional shops and buildings, wherein there are more humans with faces. One could navigate the whole world this way, I think, if one set one’s mind to it.

The other things I did today, internet, besides re-apply for food stamps and think the world was ending, was think about Why I Love Alan Jackson With A Pure, Unself-conscious Love and discover a new plant called Honesty.

I discovered the plant called Honesty when I went to the IPRC to get stuff to make crafts and hang out with A.M. yesterday and in the big, flat drawers of big, flat paper there were all these insides of old books. The world has decided it likes the outsides of old books, to make journals and things from, but it doesn’t yet know what to do with the insides of old books, so it puts them in the big flat drawers of big, flat paper at the IPRC. I took one of the insides home, a thread-dangling, yellow-glued sheath of dictionary insides, and it turned out to be a book of words having to do with gardens. like Nut Weevils and Pepper-Root, and the RIGHT and WRONG ways to build a rock garden. And while dismembering the book’s insides even further I happened upon the plant called Honesty.

Perennial Honesty (Lunaria rediviva) is a tall, hairy-stemmed perennial found throughout Europe in damp woods, and on lime. It has large, pointed oval leaves with marked serrations. The common name “Honesty” arose in the sixteenth century and may be due to the translucent seed-pods which are like flattened pea-pods and borne on the plant through winter.

And then there was a little drawing, captioned- “the parchment-like partitions of the pods of honesty”.

Now, I don’t know if this Honesty plant is real, or if this yellowed, dismembered book came from an old cluttered junkshop and the old cluttered junkshop got it from a dusty box of things at an estate sale and all the dusty boxes of things at the estate sale had once belonged to a wealthy old recluse who had found a portal to a magical land in the back of his closet, and on one of his outings to the magical land he had picked up the book in a junkshop there. In which case, this magical land is definitely the sort of place that I would like to inhabit.

But maybe the portal is lost forever, and all I can do is try and cultivate the plant called Honesty in the magical, sun drenched backyard of my own heart, and encourage it to take over everything, and climb the wall like something fierce, invasive, and willful, and smother out any sort of truth-stifling socialization, until I am able to transcend every stubborn knot in the English language, and Honesty’s parchment-like seedpods rain down upon everything. Imagine what a writer I would be!

That must be how Augusten Burroughs did it.

The other amazing thing that happened at the IPRC, besides finding a book from another land, was that I hung out with A.M. A.M. is amazing because she’s one of the only people I know who laughs as hard as I do at how fucked up things always are. Some people don’t think it’s funny that everyone is always broke or really depressed or getting injured and not being able to pay for it or even worse, being sick and not knowing why, but man, those people are not me and A.M. I mean, just in her personal life alone, there is so much unbelievably fucked-up and broken and sad right now that we don’t even have to talk about me, A.M. just opens her mouth and we laugh, and laugh, and laugh. And if we run out of stuff to laugh about we just talk about how Annie Dillard is getting old and won’t live forever and we might not get the chance to convince her to be our mentor or even talk to her in person and she might never write another word, and that’s so sad that we could probably laugh until we throw up.

I just love A.M. And I haven’t told her this, internet, but she is part of my imaginary queer-writer dream-team, which is made up of friends from all over the country, and in my fantasies the five or six of us buy a van and go on a reading tour together and it’s an amazing use of resources because none of us suck. The newest recruit to my imaginary queer-writer dream-team might be Aimee from Desark. I don’t know if you know this, internet, but she has a blog, and it turns out she’s not only a brilliant song-writer with a heart-breaking voice, but writing comes as naturally to her as bees to a hive, and yes I know that is a stupid analogy, but sometimes it takes me a really long time to come up with these things and I don’t want to spend any more time on that one.

And I guess that brings us to Why I Love Alan Jackson With A Pure, Un-self-conscious Love. The thing is, internet, is that Alan Jackson writes really stupid songs, about being crazy for a mercury and love making a diamond shine. And you may not like those kinds of songs. And if you don’t, it’s probably because you have a Healthy Musical Immune System, and your brain rejects Alan Jackson’s songs as Bad Music Not Fit For Listening To. But I have to tell you, internet. If you can just override that internal system, you might just find that you like Alan Jackson’s songs more than almost anything. It can be pretty hard to override that internal musical immune system, but I find that Repetition works pretty well for me. Like, for example, my friend gave me a country mix CD a few years ago that had the Alan Jackson song “Don’t love make a diamond shine” on it, and I listened to the CD a whole lot, and at first what happened is that I liked all the other country songs but the Alan Jackson one, but THEN what happened was that I eventually grew tired of all the songs BUT the Alan Jackson one, and I NEVER grew tired of that song, never ever EVER, no matter how many times I played it, until I loved it almost more than any other country song ever. And I don’t know why Alan Jackson songs are like this, but I’m telling you, just ratchet open your brain like you are doing brain-yoga, and maybe don’t look at the screen, and listen to the Alan Jackson song below, and try and let it get in. Just unfocus your eyes and let it in. He wrote it about his maid, when she died in an accident.

And after you’re done with that, go look at Virginia’s comic Milkyboots. If you go back in the archives, you can read about the five months it took her to get a coffeeshop job after moving to portland. And I even got to appear in the comic a few weeks ago!

8 thoughts on “the parchment-like partitions of the pods of honesty

  1. finding today’s post was like the time whne i was a tiny person and i looked behind my uncle tom’s couch and found a doll intended for me. i showed him i had found it, instead of being mad that i’d snooped, he made it dance out of the box.

    bring on the dream team! wagons ho!

    remember how we’re going to wait until A.D. loses her marbles and then tell her we’re her children? great plan!

  2. i think i may have seen that plant. there may be one growing just meters from where i am sitting right now. but perhaps its already dead. the news headline: honesty frosts over, wilts and dies.

    but i really will find out if that plant is the plant in your book, and take pictures of myself basking in its light like a tourist.

  3. It’s a real plant; I’ve seen it growing a couple of times but mostly you find it dried. It was all the rage in the 50s & 60s interior decorating circles because of those interesting parchment pods.

    Glad to see you back & writing a lot again. This latest entry was excellent & I hope someone gives you a job writing a column for some paper or zine very soon.

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