Now That It's Almost The Holidays There Better Not Be Any Borrowers In My Damn Apartment

  • I’ve been inside too long for this shit to be cute

  • You had better not have developed any resourceful little networks in my walls

  • I don’t want to hear any damn Borrowers

  • Absolutely not

  • whatever it is, go get your own

  • Oh, what’s that, are you making do with whatever’s available? I do not care

  • Don’t fucking call me a bean

  • Fuck off

  • I do not care about the problems

  • stop being like people but a little different

  • I needed that

  • I still need that

  • Give that back

  • you sound like a bug and you want me to feel sorry for you, both at the same time? Absolutely no

  • You can live in a beautiful clock and I can’t

  • it’s not borrowing

  • You don’t respect yourselves

  • I don’t find your whimsy

  • I don’t like your naming conventions at all

  • Go away

  • You are also stealing my privacy

  • stop making me think about wartime rationing

  • Fuck tininess

  • I’m gonna be home a lot even more for holidays and I want my coziness to belong to me

  • Fuck you definitely

  • Ugh

  • fuck off of borrowing please

  • oh do you still remember that one week in summer you visited your great aunt? I do not care about this story, remember it by yourself

  • quit bothering me

  • Where are you??

  • I’m too tired for folksing

  • Go away from my house, I don’t want to worry about your smallness

  • Leave me alone!!! you can steal from me or you can live in my house but you can’t do both at the same time

An Exchange: Getting Sir'ed, Monkey's Paw Edition

The scene: A local grocer with a pharmaceutical counter.

It’s not overthinking a class thing, I don’t think, because pretty much everyone has to go to at least some sort of grocery store, so it’s not as if —

Just because almost everyone does some version of the same activity doesn’t mean it can’t be “a class thing,” and what in the hell “a class thing” is supposed to elide I’d like to know —

L’customeur: A stylish, Johnnie-come-lately transsexual, buying mostly onions.

L’cashiereur: A brisk, friendly woman, prepared and equipped to sell him those onions.

L’customeur, lurching between a handful of slapdash half-attitudes like “helpful Guy” and “so self-consciously Midwestern it’s almost Midnight Cowboy somehow” and “you think I’m a gal, it’s fine,” overshooting all of them and landing squarely in “just sounds like Clippy”*: Can I also trouble you for some multivitamins, please?

L’cashiereur: Are they for you? [The you was deliberate but not pointed, if that makes sense].

Me: [Okay. Okay, I get this, I know what this is, the “you” denotes “hey what’s your deal, are these prenatal or do you want the Centrums for Boys,” which is fine, she means nothing by it, fully expecting her to come back with Gal Vitamins]: Yes, they’re for me.

She returned with two boxes, at which point I thought, Oh wow, is she bringing me one of each? That’s sort of sweet, and also I really don’t know if the difference between sexed multivitamins is a big deal or not. Is it just more folate for women, or what?

A close-up reveals: Both multivitamins are for men. One is “for men” and one is “for men 40-plus.” This is the first time I have been “sirred” in seven months.

Forty-plus!!! Okay, bye! Goodbye, today’s newsletter is finished, I bought the REGULAR MEN one, which probably doesn’t have enough folate, but I don’t even know what folate does when it comes down to it, which is probably part of the reason why I take multivitamins for about three months every four or five years before forgetting.

*I went back and forth between “Is ‘sounding like Clippy’ a white transmasculine problem that has something to do with, like…the helping professions?? Or anxiety about ‘female socialization,’ which God I hope dies in 2020, or anxiety about test-driving a slightly different model of whiteness and not knowing how touchy the steering wheel is, or is it just a ‘me thing,’ and ultimately I landed on a ‘me thing, but with possibly-broader white implications.’

Caves Are A Suitable Replacement For Heaven

Now that a little more than a year has passed since the great upending of my life, I find myself more often reflecting on the first psychic loss that prefigured this one, the loss of the hope of heaven, and the various terrors that fell out of its collapse – the fear of time, the fear of the infinite, the fear of change, the fear of memory, the fear of obliteration, the fear of the moment before obliteration, the fear of anticipation, the fear of noticing, the fear of history, the fear of progress, the fear of revelation, the fear of ignorance. For all that heaven might have been a mere continuation of the same surveillance and forced-cheer of white evangelical Christianity, the prospect of being extended into something endless and familiar was as reassuring and pleasurable as the prospect of a good, long meal without the possibility of hangover and indigestion. It meant the switching-off of worry and slipping into rest: Yes, there’s this. The loss of one’s family, the loss of the belief in one’s family’s potential for goodness or even salvageability, the loss of safety, etc, were all subsequent — not less, necessarily, but could not have preceded the first loss.

The endlessness of time, in either direction, without heaven to anchor it, seemed at best superfluous (What do we need such big amounts of it for? Surely half, or even a quarter, would do) and hostile. Modernism has mostly covered this problem, so I won’t linger here, but I believe caves to be an excellent application to such fears, and recommend them broadly. Last night I showed Cave of Forgotten Dreams, an old favorite, to Grace, and was reminded anew of the steadying, bracing spiritual anchorweight of a good cave:

A cave is an archive of great time slotted into a size and scale manageable to the human spirit. It is a repository of steadiness, of accumulation, of accretion; floors build up and ceilings drip down. Time is decoupled from life and the one progresses largely in the other’s absence, cave spiders and the occasional bat notwithstanding. I like them very much, and find them deeply restful places, when I have the chance to stand inside of one. The cave does not think about me, as it is kept constantly occupied by the organizing and cataloging of its own archival records, which provides me with the freedom to contemplate my own place in the archives after the time dedicated to noticing the archives has passed and the time comes to join in. The cave, like the archive, like some surgical patients, has been tucked away from everyday activity, cooled and shielded from friction, and left to live on slower terms than usual until such time as the necessary effect has been achieved.

The basic principles of the Clock of the Long Now (or Millennium Clock) are:

  1. Longevity: The clock should be accurate even after 10,000 years, and must not contain valuable parts (such as jewels, expensive metals, or special alloys) that might be looted.

  2. Maintainability: Future generations should be able to keep the clock working, if necessary, with nothing more advanced than Bronze Age tools and materials.

  3. Transparency: The clock should be understandable without stopping or disassembling it; no functionality should be opaque.

  4. Evolvability: It should be possible to improve the clock over time.

  5. Scalability: To ensure that the final large clock will work properly, smaller prototypes must be built and tested.

A cave possesses most of these same qualities, though it might be looted from time to time, requires very little in terms of maintenance aside from water and a lack of interruption. Of course, all longevities shrink in the great accounting of time; huge terrors become small one and wink out of existence. The cave at Chauvet has been kept in such remarkable condition due to a sudden rockfall 28,000 years ago. An abrupt end, followed by preservation, transformation, collaboration, rest, re-discovery, analysis, followed by something else yet to come in the archives of time — a cave is a good place for agony and fear to rest a while, before contemplating activity again.

The Boxcar Children Get A Visit From A Relative

Previously: “It’s perfectly natural to drink milk if it’s Henry,” Benny said, relieved. “Henry consumes approximately three gallons of water for every gallon of milk production, which is perfectly safe.” Henry did not answer, which was perfectly safe.

“Now children, what do you think?” she asked Violet and Benny and the remaining Henrys, who had ten dimes apiece, not counting the dimes in the third Henry’s mouth. “Do you know what I saw over in the sunny part of the woods? I saw some blueberries.”

“Oh, oh!” cried Benny, who knew what blueberries were, but nobody heard him until he was nearly crying. And the crying was never finished. Something was moving in the woods.

“The dairy industry is a constantly evolving business,” Violet said. “It must change and adapt with new regulations, new technologies, variable outputs, environmental conditions, the replacement rate of the herd, and whether you’re near enough to buy. And whatever is moving in the woods is certainly near enough.”

“What do you think is moving in the woods?” Jess asked breathlessly.

“It’s a relative,” Violet said. “I know it is. I can tell.”

“It’s a dog,” Benny said with a triumphant air, after tilting his head and listening carefully for a few seconds. “I can hear its paws on the tracks.”

“But there couldn’t be any relatives all the way out here,” Violet said. “Not if Mother couldn’t find us, not with Henry in the waterfall waiting to get Caught. Not when we have a pocket full of our own money, and our own dishes too.”

“And milk,” Benny added, forgetting entirely about the dog in his excitement to add to the list. “And milk, and milk, and milk, and milk, and milk,” he chanted, vibrating dangerously.

“Keep quiet,” Jess said.

The children were as as still as dirt, huddled together inside the freight car, Benny stillest of all. Jess opened her mouth in order to swallow more air as ballast against her fear, and watched like a cat through the open door towards the storming sheets of green just outside. The rustling noise edged closer, the greenery trembled and parted – and out crawled


He was an Airedale. He was pulling himself along on three legs, whimpering softly.

Jess let out a long breath, and said to Benny and Violet out of the corner of her mouth: “All right. It’s a dog. It’s at least a dog.”

“I can see that,” Violet said. “What else is it?”

“It’s also hurt,” Benny said, vibrating again. “It’s also hurt! It’s also hurt! It’s also hurt! It’s also hurt! It’s also hurt!”

“We’ve got to get Benny that milk, and soon,” Violet said to Jess. For if Benny was not kept in regular supply of nursery-food, he was liable to go insane and grow up, and then there would be no managing him. Not even the Grandfather would be able to stop Benny, if he grew up, and the Grandfather was a very rich man, with an Irish cook for a prisoner.

At the sound of Violet’s voice, the dog lifted his eyes and wagged his tail feebly. He held up his front foot.

“Is it only a dog?” Violet cried out. “Should we help it?”

“I don’t know,” Jess said. “If it’s a relative—Don’t let it in, Violet,” she shrieked, seeing the dog edge closer to the door of the freight car. “It may only be a dog when it’s outside.”

“Well, we’ve got to do something,” Violet answered crossly. “If you won’t let me fix his paw, you might at least let me hurt him further. It’s not right for anything to meet us unchanged.”

“That’s fair,” Benny said. “Why don’t the dog and I switch places? That way he can tell you if he’s really hurt or only pretending, and I can have a tail for a while.” At this, the greenery trembled and parted again behind the Airedale, and another Airedale stepped forward – this time dragging itself on only two paws, whimpering softly. Upon seeing the second Airedale, the first Airedale froze.

“Can you fix that?” Violet asked Jess.

“I don’t know,” Jess said. “I think it’s just a couple of thorns. But I don’t know what the rules are for this sort of thing.”

“I thought we outlived everyone except for Mother,” Benny said, trying to grow a tail. “I thought we outlived all the relatives during that time we went to sleep on the farm, and all the farmers died, and everyone who wasn’t us went away. I don’t see how there could be any other relatives left, besides the Grandfather, maybe. And we have our own dishes, and a refrigerator too, if you count the cold spot in the river we put Henry and the milk-bottles in, so even if they were both relatives, they haven’t got any dishes with them and would have to defer to their propertied relations.”

At this, both Airedales seemed to nod, and sat down with a thump on the wet ground outside the freight car.

“I don’t know,” Jess said. “Is a thorn property?”

“Forget about the thorns,” Benny said. “The hurting would be the property, in this case, wouldn’t it?” He turned politely to the Airedales. “Does your hurting belong to you? I mean, was it a proper gift from someone else? Because that would make it yours to do with as you liked, and might count heavily against our dishes.”

Both the Airedales nodded, but did not move.

Are you our relatives?” Benny asked officiously. “You must deal honestly with me. I am growing a tail, too.”

Both the Airedales wagged their tails, and whimpered in united pain.

“Poor relations,” Benny announced after a moment’s consideration. These must be poor relations, who could only come up with pain-property before coming to deal with us.”

“Then for pity’s sake get away from the door,” Jess said. “Property that results from a gift always wins out over property found.”

“But they can’t get up here,” Benny said. “They can’t get up on their own unless someone helps them.”

“I’m certainly not going to help them,” Violet said. “I don’t want to be related.”

“I’m not going to help them,” Benny said. “But I do want to know if any more are coming.”

“Relatives and property only increase, once they’ve started,” Jess said. “Shut the door.”

“We can’t shut the door,” Benny said. “Not if they’ve got—”

“Shut it anyways,” Jess cried, springing forwards and heaving against the freight-bar with all her might. “I don’t want a dog, I don’t want a dog, I don’t want a dog, I don’t want a dog—”

The door finally rolled shut. Outside it, the dogs breathed steadily.

Oh, Look At Me, I'm A Scottish Border Ballad

Oh, look at me, I’m a Scottish border ballad….let me list all the things my mother gave me….oh I know ever so many people who are dead…should I maune or should I mickle….guess how many chickens I have….ooh, something is happening thrice without fail….ooh guess who owns Carterhaugh, it’s me, I own it….ooh I’m a Scottish border ballad, guess how many sisters there were?…three, oh look at me my name is Margaret, oh look at me my name is Annie, oh look at me my name is Janet, ooh look at me I’m ga’n o'er the sea, ooh look at me I’m an abrupt shift from past to present tense, ooh look at me, my love is on a ship, or my love has a ship, or my love is a ship, ooh, look at me, I’m a Scottish border ballad and I’m repeating myself, ooh I’m a Scottish border ballad and all of my sons are rats now, or crows, or I wish they were, ooh I’m waiting to meet Sweet Willie, ooh I’m waiting to meet Fair Thomas, ooh I’m in the woods and I’m waiting on a nut-brown maid, ooh a rose is growing out of my grave and it’s twining with a briar that’s growing out of your grave, big deal, ooh I’m a Scottish border ballad and I’m noticing a corpse, and I’m asking the priest who yon corpse is, ooh I’m a Scottish border ballad and I’m finding out I know that corpse…ooh look at the lauch getting lauched…ooh I’m all aboone…ooh look at me, I’m a Scottish border ballad and all the ladies are doing something, with their gold kems in their hair…ooh look at me, I’m asking a question that I’m going to immediately answer…ooh I’m going to describe three things and then the third thing is going to be the most thing of the things, with the most thinglike qualities, first thing, second thing, and third thing will be, the most of the thing o’ a’ o’ tha three, ooh look at me I’m a Scottish border ballad and I’m ending tragically…ooh look at me I’m a Scottish border ballad and I’m averting a tragic ending at the last possible second…ooh there’s the queen of Elfland over there…ooh there’s three marvels to behold over there…oh look at me I’m a Scottish border ballad and I’m offering a choice between three rare auld gifts…ooh look at me I’m taking place in liminal spaces….like the hunt….ooh look at that harp, it’s enchanted probably…I’m refusing to go to market…ooh, for lang, lang will something happen…ooh I hope something doesn’t transform into something else at a particular time of night, or during a particular….ooh nothing better happen at this crossroads…ooh nothing better happen when I talk to this stranger I’ve met along the road…ooh nothing better happen when I answer these riddles…ooh, I’m a Scottish border ballad and I sure hope 500 years from now no folk singers ever adapt me into a cycle…ooh I hope sweet Parcy my lover isn’t in any danger out there in the storm…ooh guess how many cows I have…ooh I’m a Scottish border ballad and guess how many alternative titles I have…six…like Raggle Davy, and Black Jack Saddle, and Captain Seven, and Yellow Heave O, and Margery May, and Margaret’s Disappointment…and Mauny Faa…ooh I hope no one ever indexes me according to type…ooh I hope everyone listens to my pleas here under the gallows-tree…ooh someone in Norroway is quarrelsome….look at me, with my brindle-cows….I have sheep too…etc

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