Derik Badman's Journal

2020-09-13 08:25

We're at the beach now (well a house on the beach) for a week. It probably should feel weirder to be sleeping in a different (and oh so inferior) bed, showering in a different shower, sitting at a different table with my laptop, than it does, having not been in any other house since March, but coming here is always strange as I travel so little anyway. We've stayed at this house a number of times over the years too, so it's not completely new or different, a bit familiar, a bit changed. Since it is late in the season, though apparently busier than usual this year (so said the kid at the grocery checkout), we can get a place on the beach, a second floor with a deck looking out at the ocean. It's really the only way I could come here and really enjoy it, as my favorite part is sitting on the deck reading with the sound of the ocean in the background, occasionally looking up to watch the waves coming in, or the clouds at the horizon, or the gulls and pipers skittering about (a bit of people watching but usually the beach is mostly empty this time of year).

We went grocery shopping right after we unpacked and it was my first time in a grocery store since mid-March. Everyone was masked, thankfully not too crowded on a later Saturday afternoon, though still you have those people who can't seem to get the concept of distancing or that other people exist around them so they are in groups and block aisles with their carts and bodies oblivious of anything but themselves. But I secured the things that have most become my beach traditions, lots of mayonaise based salads primarily. The taco place, that usually closes right after we get here, was open, so takeout dinner was delicious tempora avocado tacos, a food I have never seen or heard of other than at this one place, so a once a year (at best) treat, probably all the more delicious for that rarity.

There have been years when I've gotten bored at the beach, and years when I stumbled along on incomplete projects, but mostly I just spend a week reading as much as possible. I brought a big box of books of various sorts, including a few comics to review, and I've got my fiction to work on (story number six is underway). One of my books is also more potential research for my never completed Ancient Greek D&D idea, which I have not quite given up on.

I was anxious all day yesterday (we couldn't check in until 4 so we didn't start driving until just after 2), and that is starting to subside now. My travel anxiety is very focused on the expectation of the travel and less the travel itself. I can't rationally explain it. It helps a lot in this case that we drove here, so no worries about schedules of trains or planes, or tickets or delays, probably also that I know I could be home in 2 or so hours if that were somehow necessary. And once the week starts I can mostly stop worrying about leaving the house unattended (avoid those fantasies of coming home to a burnt down house), and try to not think about Buddy wandering around the house meowing as loudly as he can wondering why no one comes to pet or feed him.

The sky is rather overcast this morning, the deck is still slick and shiny from overnight rain I guess or just a night's worth of sea spray unevaporated without the sun shining, so I'm working from inside. It's already time to get out my sweatshirt, unworn for months now, a preview of autumn.

Later in the day now, I finished my draft of a review of A Gift for a Ghost and read a whole novel, Ottessa Moshfegh's Death in Her Hands, while sitting on the deck listening to the ocean. The novel was an engrossing and quick read, a kind of metaphysical detective story about an old lonely woman who finds a mysterious note in the woods and then proceeds to basically write a murder mystery in her head to explain the note. She's an unreliable narrator (it is very clear early on) and the book's only narrator or focalizing character, so all we can know comes from what she says and what she lets slip through. Recovering an underlying explanation seems only ever partially possible - in particular, I'm a bit baffled by what happens between her and her dog, so much so, that I started doubting whether the dog even existed at all - but that doesn't detract from the books interest or themes. I feel it fits in very well with other metaphysical detective novels like Auster's City of Glass or Robbe-Grillet's The Erasers where detective is not some much solving a mystery of a murder but trying to solve the mystery of themselves. I checked out a few reviews after finishing it, and found this one from The New Yorker to be the best.