Argiope aurantia vs. the giant who made civilization

I slept well last night. You are not going to believe this, but the weather has been warming and yellow garden spiders the size of my thumbnail have been making the trek through the wall between my shack and the garage and catapulting themselves, at one a.m., onto my bed near the wall. It’s happened twice. The first time it was a dull THUD, just after I had turned out the lights, as if a small rock had hit my pillow. Reaching out in the dark, I felt the big spider scurry over the back of my hand. Thinking it was a mouse, I yanked on the lamp-cord. It was a yellow garden spider, gentle and horrible, frozen in the light, terrified. I smashed it against the wall with my stiff dayplanner. I had unpleasant thoughts. I fell back asleep. A fluke! I told myself in the morning, over bacon. Never to happen again.

Then, the night before last, it happened again. Lights out, and THOCK! as a small object hit the wooden frame of my bed. NO, NO, NO, I thought to myself, and almost did not turn on the lamp. Almost rolled over and went back to sleep. almost. I sat up and turned on the light. There was another one, massive, trembling, immobilized in the bright lamplight. Gentle spider, I thought. Spinner of elaborate garden webs, catcher of dewdrops. Steadfast. What was she even doing in here? It was the female, large and decorated. The male is a ghost, existing only for mating, then dying. Their lives are in the garden- what were they doing in my shack? As I reached for my planner, a part of me remembered that I was the giant in the situation. I had created civilization, the combustion engine, synthetic fertilizer, iphones. She was only, maybe, looking for a warm place to lay her eggs. On a sort of expedition. Being brave. I smashed her with my planner. I turned the light back off, had horrible thoughts of yellow garden spiders jumping like lemmings from the upper part of the wall, falling in a cascade onto my face. What I deserved.

Last night I crawled into bed at midnight, somewhat anxious, with a borrowed copy of Chelsea Starr’s hurriedly photocopied zine, Long walks on the beach with Chelsea Starr. Chelsea Starr does not know it, but she is my favorite queer Portland writer. Maybe she reads this blog. Chelsea, you are my favorite queer Portland writer. Chelsea writes genuinely hilarious stories about her childhood of incredible poverty and neglect. Reading her stories is like reading about my own childhood, only somehow I have magically been given the ability to laugh at it. I do not know how she pulls this off, but it seems enormously important that she continues to do so.

I read Chelsea’s zine, and no spiders fell on my face. Life is good. I fell asleep.

Now, this morning, it is brightly sunny, like spring. I eat my breakfast on the back deck, sitting cross-legged on the wood. Eggs fried in bacon grease, Brussels sprouts fried in bacon grease, corn tortillas fried in bacon grease and bacon- friend in bacon grease. It is the same thing every day, with mustard greens or kale in the weeks that there is a frightful hike in the price of Brussels sprouts. I wonder if it is bad for me to eat so much bacon. I like to roll the egg and bacon up in the tortillas, and make a little taco. I like to eat the Brussels sprouts with my fingers. I have been having violent dreams. Is it because of all the bacon? Last night I dreamt that friends were trying to kill me, that my housemate shot me with an antique revolver. We were all wearing long slinky dresses with splits up to the knee. I woke up feeling as if I had missed something important, neglected something, forgotten something so crucial, like a child or a whole life. It felt as though, in the night, a part of me had left. Was it my old self, my old way of living, my old way of thinking about the world- was it this part of me, saying goodbye? Slipping out in the night? Did it happen when I half-woke to the sound of freight trains, the highline to Chicago, the 4am mail train? Was that the old me, leaving quietly, so as not to wake me? Scrawling a note on a piece of paper bag, leaving it on the nightstand while I slept? I love you, I miss you, I’m leaving, goodbye. Is that why I woke with such a sense of loss? Is this what happens when you decide, for the first time in your life, to go to college? After eight years of never being in one town for more than eight months at a stretch?

I do not know, but it fills me with melancholy, this bright morning. What happens to that other self? Where will she go? Will she be lonely? She will always be out there, in the fields, sleeping, alone. There is always someone, lonely. Running from nameless things. Looking. Attempting to transcend gravity.

And what about this new self? What am I, now? Boring? Uninspired? No! I will be prolific, I will grow all the things that one can grow will moving in time, but not in space- I will no longer spread myself so thin that I cease to exist entirely. Days and hours will stack up into something of worth, and every minute will add onto the one before it. This is what I want.

8 thoughts on “Argiope aurantia vs. the giant who made civilization

  1. hey, just wanted to say that i do hope you make some more of those zines. waiting until magic paycheck day so that i can go to the bank and send you $5 for one!

  2. I hope you don’t mind, but I want to tell Chelsea that you are a fan! I know she would be thrilled. She is basically the sweetest most inspirational hilarious adorable gumdrop ever.

  3. hi carrot! sarah gotts just sent me the link for your blog. i woke up feeling super sad and blue, going through the world’s saddest longest breakup. and to read some kind words first thing while drinking my coffee was truly the best thing that could’ve happened to me today. so: thanks!!!

    do you have a copy of “candle-lit dinners with chelsea starr”? i thought it was lost for good but someone gave me a copy so i can make more. let’s do a trade? xo chelsea

    p.s. i’d suggest getting your cholesterol checked before chugging so heavy on that bacon train. for serious.

  4. Chelsea- I summoned you! Blogospheric magic, via Sarah. An internet miracle! Strangers and friends, connected in time and space. Your writing is so good to read. Very important stories, enormously hilarious, makes painful things seem ok, by some clever magic on your part. I hadn’t read any of your zines until I read “walks on the beach” the other day. It’s so refreshing to read a zine that actually has good writing in it. They are, as far as I can tell, few and far between, and I am lucky to count the people in my community as authors of the best ones. I lent your zine to a friend after I was done with it, and she liked it too. Let’s do a trade! And thanks for advice on the bacon, although I might just be a reckless dare-devil and eat it in spite of everything, on account of it’s my only vice, other than celebrity gossip and facebook scrabble.

  5. I don’t get much time to read the blogs that I subscribe to, but I always want to try keeping up with yours; the entries are rarely boring despite their simplicy, but at the same time they are hardly simple because they always cause me think a lot, and that’s the kind of writing I love.

    Also, I am glad to know that I am not the only one who tries to not kill bugs. Everyone thinks “Why not?”, never “Why, anyway?”. This is something my family loves to tease me for with their original “Oh, don’t hurt the rocks! Don’t step on the grass!” phrases and such.

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