Tag Archives: Lemonheads

Happy “Spirit Journey Formation Anniversary” and “Deathday” to a LOT of people! Second most had birthday! Fall break!

41. Private Demons: The Life of Shirley Jackson – Judy Oppenheimer

The “private demons” of the title turned out to be more along the lines of “communal” demons to me. I related quite heavily to a lot of what’s presented in a pretty novelesque fashion in this biography. And that’s both good and bad. Referring to oneself as “gratuitously difficult” is definitely something I understand wholeheartedly. I also understand trying to save or fix yourself through writing; dating someone who legitimately believes in you but also can’t stop trying to be the center of attention; moving to a new place and having some people make it a point to make sure you never forget you’re not one of them (Outlander! I’m only from one effing state away.); and collecting objects other people find morbid. Bones! Usually not human! I don’t think any of the ones I have are human! Many are fake! Anyway, I’ve always seen myself and what I could become reflected in Shirley Jackson’s work – particularly We Have Always Lived in the Castle’s Merricat (if I was left completely alone it would probably take about a week for me to start ritualizing, just replace Jonah the cat with my pigs, I do not keep sugar on hand though, just for reference).

It really shouldn’t have surprised me that I’d relate to her. I guess I just didn’t expect her to be so utterly relatable. After all, she actually had a career that involved writing as her main occupation, and she had children, and I hadn’t realized that I totally have depression when I first read this. I have not been able to get near the level of writing career I want (not unlike most writers), and I also have yet to become addicted to barbiturates. I am pretty into Lemonheads though. Not making light of addiction, just relating to the fact that Shirley Jackson was also heavily into candy. So, for me, this was essential reading because it’s yet another example of how I’m not entirely delusional about who I’ve always thought I am and how hard I keep trying to do the work that means something to me. Some people aren’t easy and don’t have it easy, it’s a thing; it’s not just me – or you, or anyone who doesn’t give up just because someone else wants them to be nicer.

Apparently there’s a newer Shirley Jackson biography. Swell. We’ll see if I still find myself in that one, it supposedly has a lot of information gleaned from previously unpublished sources and maybe won’t be quite as novely as Private Demons. I hope I do.

Murderface and Pickles. Ladies of ritual and discerning taste I also admire.


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Say nope to dope

17. Cooking Dirty – Jason Sheehan

I was hoping this book would be a nice blend of Kitchen Confidential and Dishwasher. I like reading things from the low end and the high end of professions, especially professions where commitment and talent sometimes collide and become totally overlooked. Sheehan is not as lackadaisical as the Dishwasher and he’s not as great of a writer as Anthony Bourdain. Jackass or not, Bourdain can definitely write well when he wants to. When he wants to.

Anyhow, as for Cooking Dirty, well, I found myself wondering if any of the food Sheehan was cooking was actually good. Sometimes it clearly was, sometimes, for instance when he described thawing out ice blocks of fish using a pressure washer, it sounded terrible. I believe that the descriptions were somewhat deceptive, like when Andrew Zimmern is chewing on some wacky detritus and describes it first as “good” and subsequently as “chewy.” Most of the time having to chew something for ages is not good.

As a memoir, it’s a little less disconnected than Medium Raw but there are a lot of areas where I’m not quite sure what Sheehan was writing about was relevant and then realized I wasn’t entirely sure what the greater narrative arc of the memoir was…perhaps: “I’m still alive after all this heavy drug use that I glossed over and now I have seizures that I won’t explain despite explaining many other random things like these dudes’ living situation in New Mexico and I get to write for a living and you don’t”… “Oh, and I’m married to someone who’s nearly as wacky as me and I quite possibly did the worst possible things to get into writing, but I made it and you still haven’t, most other writers who did not start out as drug-abusing cooks who dropped out of college and traveled all over the country in shitty cars…” I’m over-using the ellipses because I’m still a little confused about what I was meant to be getting out of this. If you acknowledge Kitchen Confidential, but wanted to give a more accurate version of it, then why was I reading about your (not in the kitchen at all) girlfriends or your journey to becoming a writer and winning awards without paying any of the dues that most writers have to pay? It’s getting convoluted in here.

The Dishwasher didn’t seem like he was bragging and totally ended the story in the right place. And he gave me the phrase “bus tub buffet,” which I will take with me for life because of all of its disgusting possibilities. Eat off the other side of the hot dog, man.

What is this ‘cooking’ that you speak of? Pammy prefers her food raw. But not medium raw necessarily.

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