One of my fav writers (Orphan’s Tales FUCK YES), Cat Valente read The Haunting of Hill House, and writes about it here. Below I’ve taken out spoilers:
"Holy crap! This book is so good! I know this is all I Should Have Read It By Now territory, but I hadn’t read it before and it is just so very awesome.
And lo! It has a female lead! With an internal life and thoughts and difficulties! She is not a kickass heroine, nor is she perfect or fabulous, she cares a little about shoes but in a very human way, and she has no superpowers. But look! She has a mind! She wants things! She takes action to make her life less shitty! …
Basically, I sometimes feel like Red Hot Chili Peppers are ruining my life. And the devil toddler puppet Flea is so mad that Nick Cave won’t love them. And I love knowing that Nick Cave is super famous and brill, but he still has the same kinds of problems to deal with on a day to day basis as I do. Average people problems, that all working people have. Problems like: Kiedises. Fleas. the other one. the one I can’t even picture. Funk spazzin’. Sir Psycho Sexys. The sucking of kisses. That video where they are all golden. Nasal whinesinging. Jumanjiing around with guitars. Pepper Ballads. Stone Cold Bushes. Extreme shirtlessness. Self-satisfied studiedly whacky monkeyshenanigans. Slo mo beach running. Vests without shirts. Funky motherfuckers who simply refuse to be told to go.
I don’t want to even begin to write about him because of you know. Every word you choose is a winner, making losers of the infinite number of words you didn’t choose. But all these other words could have won too! There are no perfect descriptors for him. I’m not equal to judging this contest of next word and then next. I don’t want to trace his outline because it shifts. And he is a word person. But is that the truest thing to say? He’s also a touch person and a facial expression person and a movement person. He did things for people, for me, that words can’t express; and yet there’s nothing his words couldn’t express. And right there it slams into contradiction. Or it crumbles into contradiction. Or this text/my thinking/writing attempts do no such action verb and I’m just trying to make my grief sound like something more than just shitty terrible feelings puddling in my brain. I am scraping and scraping, trying to find ideas, this is truer, no THIS is truer. Like I’m going to get to some bottom-most layer? And when I strike it and find words for it, that will help?
Nothing I say about him is not true of your relationship with him, okay? I worry that I am stepping on someone else all the time with this. It felt to me like a mirror relationship. For 20 years. I know early on it was really annoying sometimes to be around us. And I know it was annoying to be around us not because I’m so perceptive and tuned it to other people but because of the people who said “It’s fucking annoying to be around you two.” When you find someone who reflects to you this version of you that is what you want to be, you’re elated. A lot of time when straight men “love” women I think they are looking in a “mirror” and liking the laughter at their own jokes and the way their own sexiness or whatpukingever is reflected back at them in some fucking distorted manner. What is missing is actually seeing the other person too. And of course just the whole power dynamic between men and women, especially when unacknowledged, gives you almost unfixable distortion. So I have used the whole “mirror” biz before a lot to think about that kind of relationship, but I don’t mean a mirror like that. I mean like we really saw each other and ourselves and we were so different from and the same as one another. If you knew him, you know what I mean, and maybe you had it too. And we just looked at each other a lot, and wanted to be close to one another, sharing sharing sharing thoughts and it was a little like being in love. Or maybe a lot like it. But minus some of the bad parts, like insecurity and stuff. Just this person whose brain seems to contain more rooms than you will ever get familiar with. This is the image I return to again and again when I personally think about being in love. The basic thing I notice that makes me start to think I am “in love” with a person besides of course lefty anger and a wiener that works and a mouth that says filthy things, is this brain of always surprising rooms that I can imagine exploring for some period of time. I was not in love with him, but I loved him more than some people with whom I have been in love. Or maybe I was, it doesn’t matter now and I don’t know that I believe in this distinction: “in love” or “love.” This distinction crumbles, or it does no such thing maybe. I’m just saying to you that in my own private thoughts that are my personal business I will always think that love I felt was more than maybe you feel with this person you go to bed with every night.
It was disappointing how little we saw each other in the last few years and that is my fault. Depression did something ugly to my brain. It made me not make efforts in really important things. I didn’t visit him. And I got really sad when he’d plan to visit and it would fall through, which happened regularly for a while. And I got anxious when he would tell me he was coming, but with little notice. And I felt so ashamed that I didn’t have time in those instances to get groceries and take off work and plan some magical set of activities for a perfect visit. It is obvious, I see it with clarity in the too-late present, it is so fucking obvious to anything breathing that this sort of preparation does not ultimately matter, being together is the mattering thing. The main thing is to look at one another and talk, just be as forthcoming as you can about what is happening with you, and listen to him, and ask questions, and just use that time to care about and support each other and make fun of the other people in the bar and tell sex stories and talk about retarded shit you did together a long time ago and gossip and tell the funniest thing you can think of. Who the fuck does not know this. That this is how you spend time with your friend when he visits, instead of being anxious and wishing you were doing a better job at some unsayable thing. But I forgot this basic friendship thing, and I know he didn’t know why I was sometimes withholding, except he knew I was struggling and I guess maybe he sort of knew it was not him but me. But then again when he was using I remember being so hurt that he avoided me while I was in Detroit. When I found out later why, I was like “Oh, that was not about me,” and I knew that should erase the hurt. But part of you always protests, saying: but you are my other part and that should transcend all addiction/depression, whatever fucking mess is in your brain, don’t I glow more brightly than all that? Equal parts yes and no. And that yes/no points to the epic nature of love, and the sickening unromantic lifestealing reality of addiction and depression.
So sad and angry. No replacement. No one else to have these particular conversations with. No one else to be happy for me in the same way about these certain things I was looking forward to telling him. I had these future conversations that I was AGAIN waiting for some fucking perfect moment to have. Just to tell him explicitly and at more length about how moved I was seeing him perform in Chicago the last time, and to ask a bunch of questions, and to make space for whatever he had to tell me, what was new in his brain. But there was no urgency, because I thought we had forever. And that is a non-scientific thing to think about anything.
In 2001, 2% of TV characters were queer - and 92% of those were gay men. There were only 3 recurring lesbian characters. Two of those three were Tara and Willow. (this info’s from Alissa Wilts’ essay in Buffy Goes Dark, she cites Children Now 2001 Prime Time Diversity Report)