Monthly Archives: October 2015

The First Bad Man by Miranda July (My love letter to Miranda July)

201501-omag-mirandajuly-2-949x1356The First Bad Man by Miranda July
276 pages | Purchase @ Barnes & Noble

It’s been a long time since it’s been physically uncomfortable to finish a book. By physically uncomfortable, I really mean that my emotions are so all over the place that they’re manifesting themselves as thought I’m experiencing some slight anxiety and a fair amount of sadness. And joy. Of course, I shouldn’t be surprised that this is the state that I am in at the end of this novel as I always feel this way at the ending of anything Miranda July creates.

Some people may not WANT to feel this way, but, honestly, I welcome it. I value this feeling as a sign that I was truly touched by the characters and the journey that I shared with them. Not only did I get to crawl inside of them to feel what they’re feeling, both the good and the bad, but I was also able to sit fully outside of them as a spectator to the events comprising their daily lives.

One aspect of Miranda July’s art (whether it be her novels, film, or performances) that I adore so much is that she captures life so perfectly. The beauty of life isn’t in one single type of experience or a perfect, flawless moment, but it is a culmination of our awkward interactions, happiness, love, pain, loss, the mundane, the disgusting, connecting with other people, connecting with ourselves, and everything in between. She doesn’t shy away from this and, even in a scene of loss and sadness, the beauty shines through.

The First Bad Man is narrated by Cheryl, a woman in her 40s who lives alone and exists within her own eccentric world. She once felt a connection with the soul (Kubelko Bondy) of a young baby and periodically reconnects with Kubelko Bondy, but only ever in passing. Cheryl’s entire world is changed by a brief cohabitation with a young woman named Clee. Together, they explore their boundaries and bring us along with them through the hilarity, the (sometimes) uncomfortable fantasies, life, and loss. Through this experience, Cheryl’s life is completely changed; she finds a strength that we don’t get to see her embody at the beginning of the novel.

A few additional quotes from the story that I am particularly fond of:

A bag of blood was rushed in; it was from San Diego. I’d been to the zoo there once. I imagined the blood being pulled out of a muscled zebra. This was good – humans were always withering away from heartbreak and pneumonia, animal blood would be much tougher, live, live, live.”

“Every night my plan was to make it to dawn and then feel out the options. But that was just it – there were no options. There had been options, before the baby, but none of them had been pursued. I had not flown to Japan by myself to see what it was like there. I had not gone to nightclubs and said ‘Tell me everything about yourself’ to strangers. I had not even gone to the movies by myself. I had been quiet when there was no reason to be quit and consistent when consistency didn’t matter.”

“These exotic revelations bubbled up involuntarily and I began to understand that the sleeplessness and vigilance and constant feedings were a form of brainwashing, a process by which my old self was being molded, slowly but with a steady force, into a new shape: a mother. It hurt. I tried to be conscious while it happened, like watching my own surgery. I hoped to retain a tiny corner of the old me, just enough to warn other women with.”

The ending of this novel feels like the loss of a loved one. I want to crawl back into the pages (or, in this case, my Nook app) and hang out with Cheryl for a little bit longer. She made me laugh. Her story, at times, made me want to cry. From beginning to end, I wanted to give her a hug. I am now in one of those rare circumstances where I want to continue reading and starting in on another novel, but my heart is going to need a few days to get over this one.

My subject mentioned something about a love letter for Miranda July — basically, if Miranda July were to ever stumble across this page, or my face on the street, I would, ultimately, want to adequately convey that her art speaks directly to my heart. I hope that she writes many more novels, short stories, films, and whatever else she desires to create.

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A celebration, this is: Sylvia Plath

Happy Birthday, Sylvia Plath! In honor of Ms. Plath’s birthday, I am sharing this blog post that I wrote a few years back… for her birthday.

No Other Appetite

Sylvia Plath was born on October 27, 1932.  As we all know, she is no longer with us, but her writing and passion live on.  For me, personally, I have yet to find another writer who touches me in the same way that her words touch me.  Her fiction, poetry, letters, and personal journals are treasures that will all continue to live on as  classics forever.

In celebration of the memory of her life, here are a few videos of Sylvia Plath reading some of her work:

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Quotable: The First Bad Man by Miranda July


It is no secret that I adore Miranda July. I first fell in love with her film work and was ecstatic to learn that she wrote books, as well. I am finally reading The First Bad Man and, like with everything that she produces, there are quotable gems throughout the novel. I wanted to share a couple of these quotes with you today; I am sure that I will find many more between now and when I am ready to write a post about the entire novel.

“I wondered how many other women had sat on this toilet and stared at this floor. Each of them the center of their own world, all of them yearning for someone to put their love into so they could see their love, see that they had it.”

“We all think that we might be terrible people. But we only reveal this before we ask someone to love us. It’s a kind of undressing.”

“If you were wise enough to know that this life would consist mostly of letting go of things you wanted, then why not get good at the letting go, rather than the trying to have?”

Purchase Miranda July’s novel and prepare to feel refreshed: Barnes & Noble: The First Bad Man by Miranda July

This isn’t related to the novel (though maybe we could look deeply into its meaning and connect it with the characters), but this is one of my favorite short videos that she has put together:

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Filed under 2015, Favorites, novel, Women Writers

To Write or Not To Write…

Antique black typewriter painted with UV light. Various objects on a dark background. Artistic blur.

Antique black typewriter painted with UV light. Various objects on a dark background. Artistic blur.

Surprise, surprise… it has, once again, been quite the lag since my last post. All of life’s daily “stuff” has really left me feeling pretty deflated by the end of the day. Between work (I started a new job last February), baby (turning two next month!), pets (3 cats, many reptiles), caring for the house (the cleaning… never…. stops…!!), and all of the other things that come up, there really isn’t much time leftover to update my blog. As always, however, my intentions are to MAKE time and to set up a more definitive schedule. It might take me some time to get there, but I’m truly hoping that I get there.

This past year has been pretty tumultuous. Last October I left a company that I worked at for close to 7 years and worked briefly at another company that just wasn’t a good fit. I wasn’t happy from day one and struggled to try to make things work. This was happening while we went through the worst winter that we’ve had in a long time. Snow. So much snow. Somewhere in the midst of all of this, I came down with a nagging cough that turned out to be bronchitis. I put an application into my current company during the holidays, and, luckily, everything worked out! I’m much happier now, enjoy the work that I’m doing and the people who I work with.

Being in a better place mentally and emotionally inspired me to start up my classes towards an M.A. in Creative Writing again. Finally, finally I was going to be able to start my actual creative writing classes! Needless to say, I was psyched and determined to make the most out of it. As I began, however, I found that my excitement dissipated fairly fast. My inspiration depleted completely. How could it be that I was running out of gas on achieving my lifelong dream just as I was getting to the good part of the process?

The realization that I wasn’t invested in the work and that it wasn’t helping me find any additional joy in my days was startling. My desire to be a writer has been an integral part of my personal identity for as far back as I can recall. I felt as though I was watching my dreams die, but they weren’t dying because anyone else was shooting me down; they were dying because… well, I don’t know why. If this wasn’t a part of my path, then what have I been dreaming about my entire life and working and hoping towards?

While it is possible that I’m being melodramatic and, perhaps, I wasn’t enthusiastic due to other circumstances – the teacher, the assignments, the school, exhaustion – I know that I’m never going to enroll in school again for this endeavor. It’s too expensive and I can’t see how it will pay off. That’s a sad and scary thought for me. Though, at the end of it all, if it’s just that I’m an eager reader and casual writer, as long as I can indulge and continue to find happiness in these activities, I will get to a place of contentment with that fact.

Have any of my readers had a similar experience? Any MA or MFA students out there? Please feel free to share your experiences and thoughts in the comments section. In the meantime, I’ll be over here, trying to get my act together with this blog.

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