I recently got my copy of Cactus Heart 12.5 in the mail. It contains my story “Feral Cats of Kalamazoo,” a story that I haven’t read since I sent it off months ago. It’s strange to read your own words and only vaguely remember them, but it gives you a slight bit of distance and a chance to be surprised by yourself.
The story revolves around a half-drunk woman sitting on the steps of her apartment complex waiting for a food delivery. Her life is falling apart and is about to get worse. It’s one of my darker stories, but there are also lots of cats. So if you don’t like depressing stories, focus on the cats and it might still be a rewarding experience for you. Basically, just read the story no matter what because it is probably just the right thing to do.
Anyhow, back to my introspection. There were parts of what I had put into the story that underwhelmed me, of course. These parts felt too familiar, too much like me. I didn’t necessarily recognize the exact phrases, but they were typical of anything that I might write on a regular basis. However, there were other little bits that I found satisfying. It’s embarrassing to be impressed with yourself, but occasionally I am. That’s probably normal and okay, but I can assure you that it doesn’t feel okay. It seems like a real asshole move to be like, “Well, well. This is kinda great. Look what I can do!”
Then, I remember that I am supposed to be my own best friend and that this would NOT be inappropriate if it was geared outward toward other friends. That makes everything feel simultaneously more and less crazy. It’s fine because I would do this for someone other than me. But wait, I’m me…so….it’s not okay. Except maybe it should be? I don’t know. But reading my work and not recognizing it gives a feeling of multiple selves: the me that wrote this and the me that exists now and is reading it. Then there is the me that assumes I shouldn’t feel good about anything I do and the me that is my own best friend and is like, “Don’t be silly, you’re super!”
Feel exhausted? Me too. All of the mes are exhausted. How do people with dissociative disorders even handle this shit?
I feel like I ought to be summing this all up, making sense of all the reasons that it is okay to feel proud that this publication arrived in the mail and that I was pleasantly surprised by my own story. Intellectually, this all sounds right. But in my weird little heart? I’m certain that I’m a big dumb jerk who thinks too much of herself.
Anyway, I think my message here is: Go check out Cactus Heart 12.5! If you don’t like what I wrote, there’s plenty of other stuff to love. Oh, and thanks for reading this blog. That’s a nice thing to do. So maybe come back soon? You know, if you want to…whatever, it’s casual.