April 11, 2005

Bugs and Arlene

What's the only thing worse than finding a beetle in your coffee? Finding HALF a beetle in your coffee. I cannot EXPLAIN how half a beetle got IN there, that's why. I think I would have NOTICED if I had nibbled the left side of a stone-cold and (one assumes) crunchy beetle out of a hot liquid. And yet there he was, bobbing around dead-ly, disconsolate and 3 legged, right at the top of my cup. IT WAS VERY POLITE OF HIM TO BE BUOYANT. The only thing worse than half a beetle FLOATING in your coffee is finding him stuck to the bottom, giving you the glassy eyeball as you lick at the dregs.

The part of it that is REALLY troubling me is how he managed to get half of himself IN there. I mean...WHERE IS THE OTHER HALF? I gotta tell you, a tiny section of my brain is GIBBERING IN HORROR over it because it can't stop speculating that the OTHER HALF of the beetle got EATEN BY A ROACH which means ROACH FEET touched the inside of that coffee cup, that would be the one I was just DRINKING OUT OF, and HAIRY CLICKETTY VILE ROACH LIPS touched the ragged edges of the half-a-beetle and therefore when the beetle was STEEPING he was disseminating ROACH SUCK MOLECULES into my BEVERAGE and...urgle. I am about to go in through the tear duct with a pick and poink out that tiny brain part because THIS DOES NOT BEAR CONSIDERATION. I would rather eat beetle salad with no dressing, thanks much, than have a single ROACH SUCK MOLECULE touch my hair. I have a roach thing.

Tomorrow night I have a PRE-TOUR dessert party and signing at my little local indie bookstore, The Owl's Tree. I AM MAKING SPRING FLOWER TEA CAKES! And a fruit ring! And I ordered petit fours from the bakery and my friend Amanda is bringing her famous mini-cheesecakes and quite a few people from my church have said they are COMING which is...spooooooooky.

Look, I'm proud of this book, okay? I love it unabashedly. SHAMELESSLY I love this book. But it is better when strangers read it. Because they judge the book and react to it based on nothing more than a story that on a SYMBOLIC level ate me alive and demanded I tell it, but which bears only a geographical and thematic resemblance to my actual life.

I'm not Arlene. Really. And she isn't me. Thank God. She's a MUCH more intense person than I am, she's BRAVER than I am and much edgier----we have the same sense of humor because, well, I WROTE THE BOOK, but the fact that she turns a phrase like I do doesn't make her into me at her core, in her essentials. We have different decision making systems and priorities and the way we react to things emotionally is night and day and if you put the geography aside we have radically different life histories and relatives and relationships and SHE IS NOT ME. People who know me WELL don't need me to say so---it's obvious. But OH the dangers of a first person narrator! People who just know me to talk to are going to ASSUME A LOT OF THINGS ABOUT ME BASED ON HER. Which...It spooks me.

On the most FACILE LEVEL....she cusses like a FREAKIN' SAILOR and she hasn't exactly invested a lot of time in "keeping her pants on" and she ---I am not giving anything away here because the book makes NO bones about this, she SAYS so on the first page, okay---she made a deliberate (albeit hot-blooded) decision to KILL a person. SHE IS NOT ME. And there is this part of me that is SO intent on getting enough distance between us so that I don't end up WHISPERED about in the A and P or, you know, excommunicated.

But at the same time, I love her. I love her scared and savage heart and her yearning for goodness and her smart mouth. So. It's weird. This desire to protect her and yet push her away. I have yet to learn the language that will allow me to look the people in my community in their eyeballs and say, "She isn't me, okay? But she is mine. Foul mouth and fornication and all. She's mine."

Posted by joshilyn at April 11, 2005 6:37 AM

Joshilyn has a thing about roaches. Check. Arlene is not Joshilyn. Check. Bearing all of that in mind, does Arlene have a thing about roaches?

Three more days!!

Posted by: David at April 11, 2005 8:20 AM

But that's the perfect way to put it. No, she isn't you, but she is YOURS. And those of us who know you can see glimpses and flashes of you peeking out in her. And those flashes are GOOD - they make her funny, and real, and sympathetic. But in no way do I think you would murder someone (unless they were messin' with one of your babies) or sleep around so, um, ENTHUSIASTICALLY, and I know you don't cuss, etc. etc. So breathe deep and relax - people who love you WILL see the difference. And they'll love Arlene, too.

Posted by: Amy at April 11, 2005 8:42 AM

I can't find the place that tells me when you'll be in Bham. I think one time is this week but I'll be seeing Shirley Manson and Garbage in ATL. But don't you come back at the end of themonth>>


Posted by: "Anne" at April 11, 2005 9:13 AM

Last commentor: I'm so jealous that you're going to see Shirley and "Garbage". Tortured. Shirley rocks! **So this doesn't turn into some sort of chat situation...

Joshilyn, I will attest, is nothing like Arlene. I've know her since early college days. I go on the record for all of you. Of course, she ain't no boring wallflower either. I'll save the rest for the talking head of me when I'm 80 talking to the documentarian about Joshilyn. I'll need the money when social security is gone.

The book is wonderful. Roaches are not.

Posted by: Waylon at April 11, 2005 10:53 AM

Joshilyn, how KIND of you to get your book all ready to release on the day before my BIRTHDAY!! Such kindness, and we have never even met! I have a copy reserved at the local Borders. I attest I am NOT related to Ms. Jackson in any genetic form whatsoever. I just love to read. Welcome, Ms. Jackson, to the Actor's quandary - the character is yours, but she isn't YOU. I mean, I wouldn't really go around controlling people and giving them lobotomies if they defy me... but it sure was fun to act that way in the Play! (Cuckoo's Nest). If you think writing about stuff gets you looked at funny in the Piggly Wiggly, then try ACTING a role where you do "intersting" things... People tend to look at you like a bomb about to go off. HA!

Posted by: peggy spence at April 11, 2005 10:58 AM

Just got to work to find my VERY OWN copy of gods a-waiting for me! The cover is even more gorgeous in person, and it's going to take all my will power to wait until lunch to crack it open and start reading. AND I saw EW this weekend and am planning to look for Glamour today. Congratulations on everything!

Posted by: Aimee at April 11, 2005 11:03 AM

Just a warning to Aimee: If you start "gods..." at lunch, you're going to have a REALLY hard time concentrating on work the rest of the day!

The afternoon I started reading, I didn't go t bed until I'd finished it. And I'm already planning to read it again soon.

And Joss, about the bug thing? Eeeuuuwwww!!!

Posted by: DebR at April 11, 2005 12:43 PM

I got the notification TODAY that my book is being shipped!! Wahoooo! Of course I still want a signed copy because I'm greedy... but I haven't ordered one yet because I'm cheap.

You have every right to be proud of your book!! Be proud and loud... or something like that.

Posted by: Heather McCutcheon at April 11, 2005 12:45 PM

Actually even worse than half a beetle floating, is discovering the bug...in your mouth! Yep, I haven't been to an UNO restaurant since this happened to me. After a great, and very cheesy dinner, I was completely enjoying my coffee until it got chunky. It was my last sip, I wasn't looking, and it was just a fly, but still. Since then, I do pay a bit more attention to what goes in my mouth.


Posted by: pam at April 11, 2005 10:33 PM

I would be horrified I ate the damn bug. This would give me reason now to purchase all my caffeinated beverages at some high- priced yet quirky little coffee shop, where I could also indulge in a really good frosted cookie on occasion.

Posted by: Lisa V at April 11, 2005 11:54 PM

Yuo may be interested to know that six copies of your book have arrived at the Chapters in Windsor, Ontario, Canada. They don't know EXACTLY where in the store the books might be - they're not on the shelf, or in "the back", but the computer says they are there, therefore, it must be so. Now I have to go to Chapters and BEG them to look harder. I can't wait!

Posted by: Shelley at April 12, 2005 1:08 AM