…is an awful mantra, honestly. but it’s all i have so, whatever, right? this is my strand to climb and this is my little hope. something’s gonna come through soon. (how soon is now etc? how now is soon, more like it )
the funniest thing is thinking things cant get any worse and then they do the funniest thing is believing in love the funniest thing is all the funny things that arent funny now but will surely be funny later or so you tell yourself because how else are you expected to deal with all this shit.
“THE REASON THERE ARE SO FEW stories about shopgirls is because we often frame what shopgirls sell—women’s efforts at self-creation—as indulgent and narcissistic, not as work, and so many people presume that there is not a lot of narrative drama in that experience. But what Zambreno knows, and writes so well, are the key elements that define the tense dynamics of every shopgirl’s experience: sedation, seduction, and surveillance.
Retail often feels like a physical, rather than a mental, employment. The employer needs shopgirls to talk and smile and interact with other people, which of course requires thought, but they are mostly paid to be present. Shopgirls are there in case people want to buy something; their day is entirely dependent on what happens in the hours they are on the sales floor.
The sedation sets in after a shift of little to no human interactions, in the hours between busy shopping periods, when their bodies are all that their employers require of them. Those are the hours when the small talk with coworkers, the careful avoidance of thinking about the pain in their legs, the two-fingered spacing between the wooden hangers, slow the body down and paralyze it. “To last throughout her shift she escapes outside of her body and lets it do all the work,” Ruth thinks. “Sometimes she is struck by the sense that she is someone else’s character, that she is saying someone else’s lines … by the end of her day her throat is dry from her constant spiel.””
Melissa Broder is a poet. In Scarecrone, her latest collection, she writes poems about right now, modern life, not about phones and cars and computers but the way we feel. The things we tell ourselves to survive, the way we frame our experiences so that we may live with them. When you finish…