Discover more from Dear Diary
Plants are Screaming.
Also, Moms are Evil; Sex is Hot
This morning I sat in bed – which is new, the bed is. Let me take a detour before I’ve even begun. I saw the bed frame on the Instagram of a local thrift store. It’s a fucking cloud. Like, it is a giant, bulky, white bedframe, all rounded edges with attached floating bedside tables, white lacquer, 1980s, in the shape of a giant cloud. Could you die. I did die. King size, like our mattress. I sent the store a desperate message, and they responded after closing with, It’s still here. Despite being a Taurus with a Capricorn moon, my husband is tres spontaneous, thanks to his Sagittarius rising, and we hopped in the car and drove to the thrift store. The caption to the photo of the cloud bed had read, You won’t find this cheaper anywhere – if you can even find it! But, what did that mean? How much was I willing to shell out for the cloud bed of my dreams. I did some Googling and, actually, you can find the clould bed elsewhere, specifically on Chairish, a site I did not need to know about, a site that sells lovely vintage furniture and knick-knacks and, knowing exactly what they have, charge a premium for it. On Chairish, the cloud bed was going for $3,000. This made my heart race and my whole body sweat, the physical onset of a money freakout. How much would the thrift store charge for the cloud bed? Welp, they charged $599. I nearly wept. The bro behind the counter showed us a video of a walk-through shot at the house they got the bed from, all 1980s opulence, extreme luxury, fucking rich, rich, rich people who either had a lighthearted love of plasticine 1980s furniture, or else allowed their aesthetic to calcify a few decades back – either way, to great effect. I was cruising a wide Lucite box from the haul, slim and rectangular, and the bro asked, You know what that was for? They put their VCR in it! And yes, oh my god, it would fit a VCR snugly, with a little hole in the back for the cords. Such attention to detail is so admirable.
The bro hooked us up with a butch queer named Kimber who hailed the magical bed frame home in their truck and helped TJ put it together. The old bedframe, which I long longed to get rid of, as it had divorce cooties all over it, was hauled away. There was (is) a problem with the box spring, a problem I will take full responsibility for, because though It was not initially my fault, my simmering PMS rage and impatience eventually had me tearfully apologizing to the kindly Armenian proprietress of a local mattress shop - but all that will be fixed shortly, and the blue-sky duvet cover I ordered from Urban Outfitters will arrive, and my dream bed will be totally operational. Anways.
Dear Diary is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
This was meant to be about how I was sitting up in my dream-bed-in-progress this morning, drinking coffee and scanning the headlines, and I came across one that went suchly: Plants Really Do ‘Scream’ Out Loud. We Just Never Heard It Until Now. NO! I cried, and dropped my phone, clutching my face in my hands. I CAN’T HANDLE THAT PLANTS SCREAM WHY DO WE ALL HAVE TO EAT EACH OTHER?!?! My husband chuckled quietly beside me. The accompanying photo showed a pair of gardening shears chopping the fuzzy green stalk of some miserable flower. A photo that registered as neutral-pleasant to the psyche now had the tinge of true crime. I thought of only yesterday, when I pulled the bouquet of tulips on my table from the Fiestaware pitcher I was using as a vase, and transferred them into an actual vase tall enough buttress their drooping stems. Like the picture, I had taken a pair of shears and lopped off a couple inches to make them fit more prettily. What a monster.
I scrolled around to make sure this was not fake news. Stressed plants ‘cry.’ Plants aren’t silent. This is What it Sounds Like When Plants Cry (fuck off, NYT). Stressed Plants Make Ultrasonic Clicking Noises. Stressed Plants Emit Sounds That can Be Heard By Animals (It’s official – humans are no longer animals. We’re monsters!) Tel Aviv U team record plants ‘talking’ for the first time. Plants emit a ‘rather noisy’ cry for help when under stress. New study finds plants ‘scream’ when stressed or injured. Scientists detect ultrasonic popping sounds from plants when they are deprived of water. Plants cry out when they need watering – but humans can’t hear them. WHAT THE FUCK.
Of course, this isn’t exactly news. David Chamovitz’ What a Plant Knows, Tompkins and Bird’s The Secret Life of Plants and Stefano Mancuso’s The Revolutionary Genius of Plants have edged into this territory, suggesting a sort of plant consciousness, but then backing away from the thought that they might be too conscious. Aficionados of plant medicine, in particular mushrooms and Ayahuasca, know deeply how alive the plant is as they experience the results of ingesting plant consciousness. I’ve long known and also not known, exactly, just how conscious plants are. They famously like classical music, right? The mycelium of the substrata is constantly kiking. But screaming when not watered? Reader, it is my worst fear. I, who have killed so many plants. To think that they suffered. To imagine I thought they hadn’t.
This all makes me think of two things – my recent weekend, and my dear friend Clement. First, my weekend. I bought a flowering jasmine plant at Trader Joe’s, because I could. Who doesn’t love the stink of a flowering jasmine plant? It is one of my favorites. Rather than walking around my neighborhood, tearing off little vines (Aaaaaah! Aaaaah!) from neighbors lucky enough to have them exploding in their yard, now I can have some exploding in my yard. With the help of my child, I dug a hole out front, carefully maneuvering pink-grey tubes of earthworms out of the way of my shovel. It struck me this would be a great time to get the dead hamster, Little, out of the freezer, and give him a proper burial.
It’s been hard to get Little out of the freezer, where he sits along stray popsicles, wrapped in a paper towel and tucked away in a Ziploc baggie. My child has not been able to decide where the pet’s final resting place should be. Little, a sweet, fluffy, Djungarian hamster striped like a chipmunk, was an itty-bitty earth angel who lived a fairly decent life with us, aside from becoming degloved after Birthday rainbow, the cat, sliced at him as he clambered up the sides of his – we thought – cat-proof rat cage. We had to take Little to the Exotic Pets Vet – during quarantine! – and nurse his little Freddy Krueger-ish visage with oral and topical medicines. He healed wonderfully, you’d never know he’d been so slashed! Apparently prey animals such as rodents and bunnies have extra, furry, fatty rolls of skin along their neck, flesh that tears away quite easily, saving them from being successfully slain, but, yes, creating a pretty gnarly wound. After that, we moved Little and his rat-cage mansion into the office, and the cat never looked upon him again.
Before Little was Snowball, a teddy bear hamster with a cunty personality, who, after escaping his shitty but aesthetically pleasing hamster habitat six times - being fucked with by the cat each and every time – had a Rumspringa in which he found himself in Birthday’s jaws for the last time. Snowball was buried in my sister’s backyard, because she owns her home, and won’t be moving anytime soon. My child was low-key traumatized from having his other homestead relocated three times within twelve months, and clearly did not feel that he could rely upon his parents to maintain a stable address. This suspicion extended to me and the house we share, even though we’ve been here for four years and they’ll have to pry the keys from my cold, dead fingers, I love this house so much. Regardless. If you don’t own your house, be prepared to move a whole lot is the lesson my kid learned (he’s not wrong), and so he had been reluctant to put Little in the ground on our rented property. But, caught up in the joyful activity of gardening, he relented, and dashed into the house to fetch Little, while I snapped some sprigs of rosemary (Aaaaaah! Aaaaah!) from the bush that grows wild along our front path.
I padded the hole with a bed to herbs and my child came out, teary at having to confront the death of his pet again. I can’t say enough what a good pet Little had been – charming, silly, soft, barely nibbled us when we handled him. He loved to stuff his mouth-pouches with crunchies, and create elaborate fluff-tunnels in the shredded paper that lined his cage. He ran nightly on his wheel, we could hear him, rooms over, as we fell asleep. I was afraid to remove him, lest he had turned grizzly during his stay in the freezer, but of course he was simply small and soft, his body frozen hard beneath his fur. He did look like he was sleeping. My child dared to look. It wasn’t so bad, but it was still sad. We spoke about what a lovely animal he had been and how lucky we all were to get to care for him. He’d died a natural hamster death, old age I guess, after a spell of looking especially frail, at about a year and a half old. They don’t live long, hamsters. I placed Little on the rosemary, and Tj and Atti both placed flowers they’d yanked from around the yard (Aaaaah! Aaaaaah!) atop his fluffy body, and then I placed the jasmine plant on top of him and filled in the gaps with soil. My kid grabbed a tall, curvy stick he’d lugged home from somewhere (kids and sticks!) and we worked to wind some of the jasmine around it, hoping it will vine upward. We took a cannister of wild flower seeds my friend Christina had given me for my birthday, and dug tiny holes in the soil around the plant, sprinkling in some seeds, really turning the spot in to the Little Memorial Garden. My kid took a smooth rock he’d lugged home from somewhere (kids and rocks!) and wrote with a Sharpie, Here lies Little Lippman RIP and placed it near the jasmine. Question, my kid asked, raising his hand like he’s in school. If we have to move, can we dig Little up and take his ashes? I explained there wouldn’t be ashes, that’s from cremation, and that Little’s body likely would have decomposed back into the earth, but that we would check if his bones were there, and at the very least we would dig up the jasmine, whose roots would have dipped into the nutrients of Little’s disintegrating form, and used them to make so many delicious-smelling little blossoms. He seemed satisfied with that.
Anyway – Clement, I thought of my friend Clement reading about screaming plants this morning. Clement, a student of psilocybin, is fairly obsessed with plant consciousness, the magic of it, the potential of it to help us heal the planet, as well as human culture. After teaching themselves how to make Claymation film – like, creating the puppets with wire armatures and whatnot, and setting up a whole world in their bedroom, a little Claymation movie-studio – they shot a series called The Deer in Between about the coming apocalypse, and deer who weight human hearts in the underworld, and the primacy of mushrooms. Clement also shot the mushroom trip chapter of the sprawling art-film adaptation of my book Valencia (as well as co-producing it with me and shooting Amanda Verwey’s awesome art in a stop-motion for the opening credits). They are currently working on two projects – a novel in which a character is tortured by being able to hear houseplants communicate, and a film, for which they scored a Creative Capital grant, which deals with mushroom consciousness, gentrification, queer culture, nightlife, and the permeability of human bodies. I’m actually going to hang out with Clement tonight at a Mykki Blanco show and cannot wait to hear what they have to say about the latest news in plants being one of us. How this will or will not affect my dietary choice moving forward, we shall see. I do wish that my own preferred manner of disposal after death was not, like illegal – I wish to be dragged out into the desert, preferably in Tucson, Arizona – and left there, to be eaten by coyotes and Gila monsters and whoever else might like a bite. It would be nice, after a lifetime of consuming life, to know that my own form will one day be food, too.
Speaking of mushrooms – I just feel like they’re so hot now. Welcome to my trendreporting, a few years behind the actual emergence of trend. I myself am giving up trying to have a mushroom experience, after the last three attempts resulted in nothing, due to the blocking effects of my Effexor, I believe. I did start weaning off the meds at one point, and tried microdosing, and got very high, but I had not wished to be so high, frankly, and also the sensation of not being on my Effexor makes everything feel very creepy, sinister-like, and so I don’t count that. I find myself returned to the relationship I had to psychedelics while I was abstaining from all inebriations – it’s just not my path. I thought maybe it could be, but alas, no. My psych meds are waaaaay too precious. I am open to attempting DMT, tho. I would like to see the tiny mechanical gremlins who are controlling reality.
Back to mushrooms being hot and about to get hotter - Bett Williams’ memoir The Wild Kindness, one of the best books I’ve ever read, period, seems to be coming together as a possible television project, with collaboration between the author and Diablo Cody, who is so fantastic, and also Liza Johnson, a really, really great director who has shot episodes of your favorite shows (The Last of Us, Dead to Me, What We Do in the Shadows) as well as made an ammmmaaaayzing film called Elvin/Nixon, starring Michael Shannon – whom someday I will dedicate an entire post to, I love him so much) is a deluded, drugged-out Elvis trying to reach President Nixon (Kevin Spacey, okay, bad person, yes, great actor) to assist in the war on drugs. It’s fucking great, watch it. The thought of The Wild Kindness coming to life in such capable hands makes me supremely happy about life.
Know what else is hot? Sex. It seems like everyone is writing about it! I know I am. I am working on a book called The Libertine, a sort of autofiction I-don’t-fucking-know hybrid something-or-other, a memoir of sex. It’s been hard to write. It’s like – do I really want to put that out there? Do I sound like I’m bragging? Trying to be super cool? Or, like a victim, as I discuss various wrongs done to my heart? Am I whining? Am I an edgelord? What? So, I popped it all into the third person, featuring a protagonist known only as The Libertine, and now she is me and not-me, and I am truly liberated!
My various anxieties about writing so sexed-up a sexy book were somewhat soothed by the reading I was in at Stories Books last week. Part of the NDA autofiction reading series. The first guy, Taylor Lawandowski, read about this whole scene of people and the various sexual connecting they were doing. There was sex in Jasmine Johnson’s piece, though more drugs than sex, and I really liked its fast, stream-of-consciousness, Here I am sitting on the bathroom floor with you on drugs at a party energy. Poet Erin Taylor very frankly wanted to get fucked, and William Jones narrated anal fisting scene like it was 1999. I had almost also read an anal fisting scene – truly, what are the chances??? – but read a blow-by-blow account of Madonna’s Justify My Love video. Robert Gluck and Miranda July were the stars, Robert reading from an ongoing poemish list of ‘misreadings’ that sort of twisted between funny and punny and philosophical and just poetic. Miranda read the opening of her just-finished novel, and it was SUPERB, and I am dying for it because The First Bad Man is one of my all-time most favorites, ever.
Along with sex and mushrooms, evil moms are also hot. I noticed this trend – a cinematic one – during horror-movie-season this fall. The mother of Barbarian force-feeding milk to hapless victims was so poignant. Like so many mothers, the havoc she wreaked was an outgrowth of love and protection! And trauma, of course. Relatable, all of it. In Smile, the lead character, played by Sosie Bacon, whom I adore, finds herself the victim of a type of psychic chain letter – having watched one already afflicted commit suicide, she, too, will begin to be tormented by horrific visions until she, too, suicides, in front of another, who will then catch this disease. SO SCARY! And all the smiling makes it more so, of course. I once dated someone who enjoyed terrifying me by just silently standing in the corner smiling when I entered a room. It’s really, really scary! Anyways, Sosie’s character does all this research and learns that all the folks who catch this terrible curse all experienced a severe, formative trauma. Hers was her mother killing herself, and when she tries to outsmart the curse by dealing with the trauma head-on, at her creepy, abandoned childhood home, the mother rises up like a giant monster, like she belongs to the same mommy group as the mom from Barbarian.
And now, last night, watching the previews that rolled before Scream VI, I got a peek at yet another horror-mommy flick, the forthcoming Evil Dead Rise, where Olivia Wilde doppelganger Alyssa Sutherland plays some sort of rotting-faced zombie mom. It looks really good and scary and truthfully maybe a tad too much for me as the evil mom has two kids and ugh, a casualty of becoming a mother has been the ability to watch things in which children suffer or bear witness to horrible things. I just can’t handle it! Early on in my relationship with my husband, a true crime freak, I tried to watch Paradise Lost, which he had never seen, and it’s truly such a good and important movie and a classic of true crime, and I just couldn’t do it! Likewise, I could not watch the new ID Discovery offering on Jared the Subway guy. I watched the first one, and parts were very interesting, as life tends to be, but I was like, I cannot follow this where it will have to go. Thankfully Yellowjackets is back. I missed those characters so much! And this season we will have Lauren Ambrose, who I love forever because of Six Feet Under. I was destroyed to remember that, because it is Showtime, they will drop a piddly single episode each week, leaving me to die for the next seven days. I watched the first season very much after the fact, and was able to binge it with my husband whilst spending the night at a dungeon, a gift we received for our wedding. We did avail ourselves of the amenities a dungeon offers, but not as much as if there had not been a full season of Yellowjackets to consume. Sex is hot, but fucked-up, stranded teenaged witches may be hotter.
Dear Diary is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.