Working Women Slouching Towards Reno

 “‘I remembered I wanted to be a veterinarian once,’ Debbie says. ‘But now I’m more or less in the vein of being an artist or a model or a cosmetologist. Or something.’ ” – Joan Didion, Slouching Towards Bethlehem

Well Debbie, I remembered I wanted to be an archeologist once. But now I’m more or less in the vein of being an educator or a child-wrangler or an autism-whisperer. Or something.

I’ve been obsessed with Joan Didion, and making fierce efforts to embody only her admirable qualities, since I was seventeen. During college, I used to pretend to be J. Dids, mostly when in underwhelming social situations or when consuming events that are supposed to be amazing but lean toward disappointing.

Here is my role model:

I have been working on reliving this photo for seven years.

Sans shades – shades are tacky in the indoors.

Here I am at age 20 in New York at the Museum of Natural History. Joan believes that New York is only for the very rich, the very poor, and the very young. Here, I am supposed to be having a good time, because I am sitting in front of a large stuffed elephant and that is interesting. Instead, I feel very little and write in my journal, a la Joan.

I continue to strive for Didionionia experiences.

After a year of living in "the Bay area", I finally dragged my ass to Chrissy Field to get my body superimposed in front of the Golden Gate Bridge. It was a balmy November day, but I dressed like Johnny Cash/Hamlet that morning because I was feeling that phenomena Joan often discusses - "alienation from self," more casually called "weird." I brooded up the beach, read, and recoiled from love-sick couples lounging on the promenade. I had a Russian woman take my-almost-smirking-but-ever-aloof-Joan photo. I like how she captured the bridge growing out of my skull.

Yesterday I made the voyage to the Presidio to have lunch with mamacita Sarah. I knew it would be far, and I knew it would be nice. But I didn’t expect it to be so lovely. I’m sad that lovely is an overused, maybe banal word. But it was just lovely. The Presidio reminds me of visiting lots of historic places in New England as a kiddo – like Plimouth Plantation in Santa Monica, but not.

Sarah’s office at Futures Without Violence, which I may or may not jokingly refer to as The Wife Beaters, is in the former band barracks of this military-fortress-turned-posh-office-space.

Sarah contemplates her upcoming excursion to Reno for Thanksgiving in the cavernous conference space at her office. There are a lot of nice hardwood floors and a ginormous kitchen filled with free soda at her office.

Hang on, there’s a phone call on line 1.

Here Melanie Griffith decides to stop using her Working Girl powers to promote the evils of Wall St. and starts advocating for consent and non-controlling relationships.

After egg and tuna salad sandwiches on a bench by a palm tree, I went and checked out the SF national cemetery. I’ve also been to the national cemetery at the Punch Bowl in Honolulu – a biggie Joan Didion destination, which she writes about In the Islands. Why? History sure. And nation-state ideology. And death. 13,000 soldiers killed during WWII alone are buried in a volcano crater in Hawaii. The SF cemetery as 26, 425 graves. That’s a lot of war dead. The U.S. is just shy of 5,000 soldiers killed in Iraq alone. (Probs between 600,000 and 1.2 million Iraqis…but who’s counting anyways?)

We may need a new Punch Bowl…

Joan Didion is obsessed with the dead - soldiers, the people Squeaky Fromme killed, her kid. I try not to think about death, but usually I do. I hope death is as orderly as this picture.


About Caitlin Healey

Real life 90s girl.
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