Well, we are the proud owners of a new-to-us secondhand wicker sofa. I don’t think anyone else in the household really grasps how miraculous it is to find a secondhand wicker sofa, at any price — this one was $375. It’s sturdy, lightweight, comfortable, and beautiful. It would take two people to move it (away from this house, I mean), but it could be any two people — even two older children.
Honest question: why isn’t all furniture made of wicker. As someone who’s moved, a lot, I’m becoming increasingly averse to non-wicker furniture. And frankly, even if I never moved again, and someone could guarantee me that the next furniture I bought would never have to be moved, I would still buy wicker, because it’s still the most beautiful good idea on earth. It’s gender neutral, even.
It’s just really hard to find, is all. This sofa came from the Habitat for Humanity ReStore in Waimea — ooh! Very very minor earthquake just now, second one I’ve felt since we moved here; apparently somewhat common; happened just as Nick stepped out of the shower naked lolllll — anyway, it is easier on the one hand to find wicker furniture in tropical locales, and it is harder on the other hand in an economic collapse. I’ve stopped by the wicker store in Hilo three times now, on different days of the week, and all three times they’ve been closed, because they’re barely open, because economic collapse. In fact the ReStore was also closed when I stopped by, on a Friday, but I peered through the windows and espied the precious anyway.
My mother, who was very practical — to the point of nihilism — avowed wicker furniture. I remember a three-level shelf we had in particular, that was dragged all over Oklahoma, then to the Reservation, then to a series of assigned teacher housing locations. I often claimed it for “my” room, whatever confabulation that turned out to be, because I loved it.
Wow, it all makes sense now. My mother loved wicker furniture, sandals, “sun baths” as she called them (where you go outside to feel the sun on your skin, on purpose), walks, water, swimming, full moons, blues and greens and yellows and browns, linen clothing with a simple cut, and minimal makeup. She grew up in inland North Carolina, but her family had some coastal place they’d go, because I was saturated with stories of her dad’s sailboat and the unfortunate thing that happened involving the sailboat later on. Frankly, though, I’m hazy on the details of my mom’s life, because she didn’t talk much about it, and I didn’t think to ask. I’m familiar with the unfortunate sailboat story because it involved my dad, and he talks about his life and circumstances a lot (a lot).
Anyway, via nature or nurture, I’m finding a lot of my previously uncontextualized proclivities tie in to life on the coast, perhaps transmuted through my mother’s preferences in furniture. This is astounding! We never took beach vacations, or any vacations, during the Oklahoma years, so the beach was a firmly theoretical concept to me. When I was very young, our parents would take us to Dead Indian Lake now and then. The name was unremarkable to me — I was just excited to go to Dead Indian Lake!
Wow, Oklahoma. Keep it classy.
Anyway, I think our last excursion to D.I.L. ended in me cutting an artery on my foot on broken glass below the water, and an emergency trip to my grandma’s to get it bandaged. A previous trip to D.I.L. had ended in a fish biting my brother’s nipple, literally wounding him. Looking back now, that lake sounds like a shithole!
So then we moved the Rez, but I went out to California to visit an Oklahoma school mate whose family had moved to the coast around the same time ours had moved to Arizona. I had just finished 7th grade. My friend Amy had grown breasts, since we both moved, and I notably hadn’t. I was a very late bloomer in every area except height.
Amy and I would pack a lunch of mostly deviled eggs, for whatever reason, and her mom would drop us off at Avila beach. We would wear our modest one-pieces, but then we visited a beach side stall and bought matching strapless bikinis, hers green and white, mine blue and white, but same design. This entire visit was a lesson in the power of femininity, and what it feels like to not have it. Amy was tanned, voluptuous, beachy, sun-kissed, athletic, popular, and already very womanly. She’d always been the dominant one in our friendship, strongly opinionated, and I associated her with the smell of Dove soap but now she smelled like coconuts. I was — as you can imagine. A pale, gangly, pre-pubescent wallflower, easily ignored.
I remember it was something of a feather in her cap to have a friend visiting from Arizona, simply because it sounded exotic. We were at an outdoor public pool one day and many, many boys were paying court to Amy in our corner of the pool. “This is my friend Hannah, she’s from Arizona,” Amy stated with total confident succinctness, and the slightly diverting detail of my being from Arizona was simply absorbed into the long list of interesting things about Amy. She wasn’t greedy for attention — it was naturally given to her. It was amazing to observe.
In my school, on the Reservation, I was considered somewhat voluptuous, believe it or not. I was flat chested but I had an ass, and long strong legs, good shoulders, a muscular stomach, and I’d been running cross country for two years now. I was accustomed to receiving a lot of oblique attention, actually, simply because of my race. But also, and like many darker-skinned people, Navajos tend to look younger, for longer, than Caucasians do, if that makes sense? The advent of facial hair for young white men is a signifier of impending adulthood that’s almost entirely absent for young Navajo men. The lottery of feminine developments in puberty is probably almost as random for Navajo girls as for white girls?, but I’d say more of them continue looking like young new moons — slim, coltish, long black or brown hair, and beautiful undisturbed skin. To have Caucasian genetics is to have no idea what sort of popcorn kernel you are, until puberty pops you into your adult shape, which is likely prone to red flushes, acne, and humiliating swaths of body hair — that’s my opinion, anyway, relative to Navajos with more predictable genetics.
So anyway, whatever notability I had going for me on the Rez orbited mostly around being tall, white, bookish, and a reasonably good runner (for being white).
So now, visiting Amy in the Land of the Whites, those characteristics translated to: average height, average race, and utterly unremarkable. I was Amy’s appendage, and if any boy was nice to me, it was to get to her. We went for ice cream, after the pool, and we had towels wrapped around our waists and pressed close to the glass to look inside and choose our flavor. I noticed the young man who worked there had his eyes glued to Amy’s breasts, in her suit still wet from the pool and pressed to the glass. She didn’t notice, or didn’t let on.
It was a fun visit, and I really enjoyed being close to the ocean, and having these excursions where we could just wear swim suits and towels and flip flops and be warm all the time. It was a totally different life than anything I’d experienced before — certainly different from home, where it was genuinely really fucking cold a lot of the time. (That’s the thing no one understands about Arizona and the high country.)
Here are the only pictures I’ve retained from that visit:
Back to Avila beach and the summer before eighth grade, though, there was a sobering incident. Amy and I discovered a little cove off the main drag, away from the normal beach goers, and we adored it. When we had been younger, in Oklahoma, we had often sought out little hideaways in the forest, or her parents’ attic. (My family lived in a single wide so we didn’t have an attic lol.) We spread out our big beach towels in this cove, ate some of our deviled eggs, looked at some stupid shit like Cosmo I think — even then, even at thirteen years old, I found Cosmo appalling, but it was appalling like a traffic accident you can’t look away from — and nattered on about this or that boy, probably. Who knows. Anyway, we laid down to tan (of course — and my shrimpy, meager body refused to be any color but white; Amy’s majesty was burnished like a beautiful goddess android) and subsequently fell asleep. We had all the best nap time ingredients: the sigh of the surf, the breeze, the sun, the otherwise quiet.
I woke to Amy’s short, horrified scream, opened my eyes, and saw a figure in swim trunks sprinting away through the sand while Amy pulled up her bikini top. A guy had crept up quietly enough not to alert us, yanked down Amy’s bikini top, roughly handled her breasts for what could have only been a second or two, and then ran away.
We gathered our things and called Amy’s mom from a pay phone, telling her to come pick us up. We were both mostly quiet, after confirming and reiterating our initial affront. I mean, what was there to say. It was our first run-in with a genuine predator — someone who touched her intimately, painfully, and without her permission; and who didn’t even consider me worth preying upon. Amy was like ‘wow’. I was like ‘wow’.
We made firm promises to visit one another again the next summer, but Amy got pregnant, and we drifted apart. She visited me for my high school graduation, though — she’d already CLEP’d out and was working as a phlebotomist to support her kid — and all my male classmates lost their minds.
And that, my friends, is the story of why I like wicker furniture. Just kidding — I slept in this morning and am feeling the time. I’ve finally arrived at the point in the organization of things in rooms where audiobook narration can resume with no further issue and no changes in acoustic variables, so today’s the day. Nick and I are contracted for two more books to finish a five book series we already began, plus a…3? 5 book spin off series — idk, some number of books, about protecting some other chick — we’re deep in handsome bodyguard territory these days, literarily speaking. And then I’m auditioning for a whole new author that writes about sexy Immortals, which sounds great. She’s reviewed highly on Amazon.
In fact, my sound engineer Jeff texted me about how funny he thought one whole exchange was, in the last book. I could keep a lot more money for us if I would edit all this stuff myself but experience has taught me that god didn’t put me on earth to edit digital audio, so I just spend the money and it’s fine. The perk of all that, though, is that when Nick or I mess up, narrating, we just clap, go back to before the mistake, and re-read. Jeff sees the large decibel spikes on the track, where the claps occur, and listens to what’s going on there so he can splice it together. I’ve been doing this gig for six years so I have far fewer mistakes, plus I’m just freakishly good at reading out loud, at any speed, and always have been (what a random skill!); Nick is new at it so his chapters can be a little clap-heavy, let’s just say.
So anyway, there was this line of dialogue in Nick’s chapter where the female (my character — but our characters show up and say things in each others’ chapters, of course) whispered, “You think I’m just some slut”. (Spoiler alert: her character *is* just some slut.) So Nick delivered that as best he could, and normally I just stay out of it but I was like, “Okay wait — will you clap? Hang on.” So Nick claps, and then we had this whole long conversation while the recording was running about the implied ferocity of that whisper. I mean — whispering goodnight to your tiny sleeping baby is a whole different kind of whisper than whispering “You think I’m just some slut,” right? And he tried all different pitches with his voice, and I was like, “It doesn’t matter, as long as you sound fucking offended, you know? ‘You think I’m just some slut’ — no woman says that without being furious. Furious!” (PS: my character whispers this in Nick’s character’s chapter immediately after being caught red-handed, blackout drunk and heading up to the suite with not one but two guys from the bar.)
This is interesting, right? So many books and stories and dialogues are set up around masculine themes, masculine interests, masculine constructs, masculine assumptions. These romance novels are a deep, thorough exploration of the subjective feminine psyche, with a minor frisson of plot. This is really primordial, uncharted territory for Nick, who is a very masculine man, albeit an empathic one. And like most men, I think his ability to access his own feminine/intuitive energies was disincentivized. Whatever. Anyway, we ended up having this whole thing about a tiny scrap of dialogue. He was like, “Well if she’s so mad, why does it say ‘whispered’ instead of ‘hissed’ or something?”
I was like, “Because a woman wrote it, and any woman would know that the whisper is worse.”
He was like, “Well I don’t know that.”
I whispered, “I know — I can tell.” Just kidding.
He finally delivered some version of the right tone, and we moved on. And being such a masculine man, he does a better job than I could of delivering this handsome bodyguard’s inner dialogue, really. But I just couldn’t let that little fierce whisper issue pass without some troubleshooting. Anyway, so Jeff told me he thought all this was totes hilarious, which was great because I’d forgotten all about it.
So yeah, we got some ground to cover. But, relative to sleeping in — and this is the last thing, I swear — that’s how you can tell the barbell program is working! It’s not like the sleep of ennui, which would be ridiculous in acid-trip beautiful Hawaii anyway — it’s the sleep of the dead. We’re rounding the last day on our third cycle of this new program, which I’m finding to be quite intense but also very fun. It’s a volume program, so lots and lots of reps at lower weights rather than 3 to 5 at higher weights. We did high weight/low rep all spring and summer, so this is a nice change. And the sleep is — whew, like narcotics.
Alright, that’s that.