Predictable

by jkatejohnston

November 24

Dear Max,

I got my period for the first time in at least six months, and I’ve completely lost the hang of it. In the middle of the night, I went to the bathroom. There was a mess in my drawers. In the process of cleaning myself up, I turned the bathroom into a crime scene, with not just blood on the floor but bloody footprints. I cleaned the bathroom and the soles of my slippers, all with a bare behind, and slunk to bed.

Then a few days later, I went to change my tampon in the morning, and when I pulled on the string, two tampons came out, like a magic trick.

*

I’m reading The Last Chronicle again, and it’s completely satisfying. Teresa and I have both read it many times, so I can call out to her across the house, “Mr. Crawley is crushing the bishop!” and she knows exactly what I’m talking about.

She was chiding me the other day about my predictability. Every time we talk about taking vitamins, I can be counted on to boast that I eat an entire farm box by myself every week (not the box itself, but the contents), and therefore I don’t need to take any pills. But I think predictability is one of the bonuses of having been together all this time. After twenty years or so, there shouldn’t be too many surprises. We have a fund of shared experience. We don’t have to explain everything.

But back to the Last Chronicle. You know how one of the best things in life and reading is anticipation? Looking forward to something is as good as the something, often better. That’s one of the many reasons I don’t approve of meditation. Why live in the moment, when you could live in hope?

Anyway, there’s that great chapter when Mr. Crawley is walking into Barchester to obey the Bishop’s summons, and he’s telling himself the story of how he’s going to crush the bishop, and his joyful, angry anticipation is just so great. And as a reader, you’re anticipating right along with him, and you’re even happier because you’re reading a book, and he has to live his life.

All right. I’m going to type out the part I’m talking about. This comes right after Mr. Crawley has been suspecting (correctly) that his wife tricked him into accepting a free ride for part of the way.

But his trouble in this respect was soon dissipated by the pride of his anticipated triumph over the bishop. He took great glory from the thought that he would go before the bishop with dirty boots,—with boots necessarily dirty,—with rusty pantaloons, that he would be hot and mud-stained with his walk, hungry, and an object to be wondered at by all who should see him, because of the misfortunes which had been unworthily heaped upon his head; whereas the bishop would be sleek and clean and well-fed,—pretty with all the prettinesses that are becoming to a bishop’s outward man. And he, Mr. Crawley, would be humble, whereas the bishop would be very proud. And the bishop would be in his own arm-chair,—the cock in his own farmyard, while he, Mr. Crawley, would be seated afar off, in the cold extremity of the room, with nothing of the outward circumstances to assist  him,—a man called thither to undergo censure. And yet he would take the bishop in his grasp and crush him,—crush him,—crush him! As he thought of this he walked quickly through the mud, and put out his long arm and his great hand, far before him out into the air, and, there and then, he crushed the bishop in his imagination. Yes, indeed! (Trollope, The Last Chronicle of Barset, Chapter 17, Mr. Crawley is Summoned to Barsetshire.)

And in the next chapter, near the end, when he finally says to Mrs. Proudie, “Peace, woman,” you almost jump out of your chair.

*

I forgot to write in this online diary that my strategy of sending my manuscript through the mail, like a bomb, worked. Don’t get excited, Algonquin is not publishing my book, but I did get a nice email from Shannon Ravenel saying that she retired five years ago, but she would pass my manuscript along to the people who should read it. So, I got past the “agents only” rule.

I still haven’t heard from Fahrenheit. Maybe they reject you by silence.

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