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“The Banal and the Profane” is a monthly Lambda Literary column in which we lift the veil on both the writerly life and the publishing industry. In each installment, we ask a different LGBTQ
writer, or LGBT person of interest in the book industry, to guide us through a week in their lives.
This month’s “Banal and Profane” column comes to us from cartoonist Nicole Georges.
Nicole J. Georges is an illustrator, zinester and educator living in Portland, Oregon. She is best known as the author of the autobiographical comic zine Invincible Summer, whose individual issues have been collected into two anthologies published by Tugboat Press and Microcosm Publishing, and the graphic memoir Calling Dr. Laura. July saw the release of her latest book Fetch: How a Bad Dog Brought Me Home.
A very grouchy week leading up to book launch…
I flew to San Francisco on Wednesday, interviewed kids about gender for a book with Judith Butler & Ken Corbett on Thursday and Friday, then got ready to teach class at California College of the Arts on Monday.
Judith Butler drove us to and from camp in her vintage Audi.
I had a glass of wine at dinner and revealed to her that I consider my dog to be my current life partner, after years of traveling together and accepting that another human is not necessarily suitable for this road situation.
Will I regret this? It doesn’t seem like something you say out loud.
She has a running theory that I have become significantly more eccentric since our breakup four years ago. She first said it to me in Portland, when I was trying out a new hairstyle that involved brushing a ponytail backwards to make it bigger.
We were walking towards my car, me with this new giant hair-attempt, carrying 2 totebags and a purse. One bag held my dog, one snacks and books. I couldn’t help but wonder if it was the hair or the sherpa-vibe that made her say it.
Tomorrow I am beginning a new summer term at California College of the Arts MFA in Comics Program.
In order to learn to gather details for richer narratives, I’m making my students keep a diary in the style of Lynda Barry, listing things like this:
DID, SAW, HEARD, DRAWN.
My iPhone died in the night and I overslept.
Once I woke up, I found the least-echoey space in my new temporary condo.
This was the floor of my closet. I put a comforter down and interviewed my friend Alec Longstreth for my podcast. We talked about parenting whilst being a professional cartoonist.
I stayed in the closet later in the afternoon to call up Lucy Knisley, another cartoonist with a baby, who is insanely INSANELY prolific. Her secret is that she has a nanny, and also boundaries. I think these are good things to hear.
I’m posting the podcast on parenting this week in honor of my friend Sarah, who is a writer and nearing the end of her pregnancy. I wanted to give her these conversations that I’ve had with creative professionals over the past year so she can be fortified and as ready as she can be.
After my podcast interviews I walked to campus to make copies for the first day of class, and immediately got lost in the halls of CCA looking for the photocopier.
I have been teaching here for 4 years.
I was advised to walk the wrong direction by THREE different people and yelled “Why does this art school have to be so ARTY?” as I panted and dragged my many tote bags through an artistically-fabricated maze of white walls.
I finally found the photocopiers, my veins and eyes bulging, and started making copies of the syllabus, and Stephen King’s top writing tips.
My former student Sean walked by and said hello and I think I just snarled and exuded a toxic puff of smoke like an embattled mushroom or an angry toad. I can’t really remember.
I de-spazzed by the time we sat down for class. I teach in the middle of a zen garden. I’m not kidding. It is very beautiful and includes bamboo, a small footbridge, and lion statues made of rock on either side of the door.
Is it suitable for a workaholic monster to teach there? Who can say? If nothing else, I provide some yang.
My students were very nice and intelligent. Since it was the first day, they were quiet.
I got in trouble at the nail salon for taking my foils off after the man walked away. What they do there is, they strap chemical-laden cotton balls to your fingertips with foil. This usually takes five minutes or ten.
Today, the guy walked away, and 20 minutes later my fingers were burning. I tried to get his attention, then popped them off myself. I was thoroughly scolded, and the woman who came to finish my manicure would not make eye contact again until she saw that I have the nail beds of a 6 year old. “So cute!”
All was forgiven.
I did a short interview with a woman from the Oregonian (a newspaper in Portland).
When I told her my mom gave me a 1-star review on Amazon, she said “You don’t sound that upset about it.” I said “Well, I kind of think of it like a sitcom. Of COURSE she did that. It’s very in line with what her character does. You just kind of say ‘Oh, Mommmmm.’” (insert laugh track)
We are staying in a giant condo structure with giant, inoperable windows that face an astroturf dog park and some grass with a sign posted advising you not to sit on it.
I take a nap every day.
Today I was woken up by the sound of a child yelling and playing harmonica.
Imagine my face inverting like Kermit the frog, the Heatmiser, or (more obviously) the Grinch (“the noise noise noise NOISE!”).
I looked out the window to kill him with my eyes, and saw a mom wearing a hijab frolicking with her children, literally skipping and gleeful. One of the kids was the harmonica kid. My icy heart melted and I benevolently forgave the musician near my window.
I walked to the bubble tea shop wearing dog hair covered sweatpants and no eyebrows.
I don’t have any eyebrows.
People were spending too much time at the counter trying to deduce how to order a drink. I wanted to yell “YOUR TIME IS UP!” but I did not. Where is my medal?
I used to have a joke with my therapist that I had a running tab at the trophy shop. I really feel like there must be some reward for all the times I try to be a good person (or avoid being a bad person). Something besides satisfaction of a job well done. I want to clink with medals for good behavior as I walk down the street, neck bent with the weight of them.
Maybe a standing ovation here or there for choosing to be a workaholic instead of a drug addict after the way I was raised. Is that so much to ask?
The Seattle Book Review referred to my rape comic as “smart cartooning” and I glowed with pride.
Today I remembered that music existed, and played Abba all day, boosting my anxious spirits.
During a Katy Perry dance with the dog, I jumped on the bed and felt like an acrobat.
I felt proud that I didn’t fall over and crack my skull on the cement floor of my very modern condo.
I returned to my hobbit closet this morning to do an interview with a radio show called Radio Pet Lady.
I also called my friend Lacy from the closet to record her memories of my departed dog, Beija. I’m posting these interviews on my podcast leading up to the release of my book, Fetch.
Everyone remembers Beija’s scarred face and big ears. They think her voice was like Mama Fratelli, but I know it was more like an insecure Taylor Swift fan. Of course she was insecure, that’s why she started all those dog fights and got the scars in the first place.
Today my students seemed unmoved when I played them a loud, kindergarteny rendition of my dog’s theme song: “Ponyo of the Sea”. It is sung by 5 year olds and includes lines like “Yum yummy yum, I smell a treat.”
They are students working towards a Masters of Fine Arts degree.
The boba tea shop is too close to my doorstep, and now I am a sugar addict.
I started soliciting twitter for boba money in exchange for cheaper pet portraits.
I don’t know why I wouldn’t just sell a normally priced pet portrait and use the money for a boba card.
I interviewed Virgie Tovar for the podcast. She came over. We did NOT sit in the closet, we went upstairs to the “common room” of the condo building, where there are plush couches, fake books, and a flat screen tv. We both had boba and she talked about class and gender and fatness. I kept pretending she was dropping the microphone because that is how it felt.
I could not find my shorts that I wear under a short dress, so I think I was sexually harassing Virgie by showing her my cotton underwear.
I also enjoyed socks with gold orthopedic loafers.
When I woke up today, I had an hour long phone call about movie options for my new book.
Then I interviewed Virgie.
Then I taught class & interviewed legendary women Trina Robbins, Lee Marrs, & Mary Wings.
Then I brought Kettner to my closet to do a podcast interview for his show “Adult Crash”.
Today was a very long day.
I am willing to get my nails done at a normal price, but I still don’t fully understand haircuts, so today I went to Aveda.
Between you and me, the girl was very timid.
My hand massage felt like a whispering joke, and I’m not even sure if she cut my hair or just did the motion of snipping the scissors while asking me where I have lived and for how long in order to see how tense my shoulders could get.
Weather/location small-talk makes me want to take the scissors and then jam them into my own ear.
I’m doing fine.
Today I went to a meeting in the Castro and, while walking around afterwards, saw a golden retriever carrying a paper bag for his master. I like using the word master for a dog, it feels so old fashioned. I guess dog people might not like that. Anyway, I started thinking about what Ponyo could carry for me. A box of tic tacs. A stick of gum.
My date was kindly visiting, so in order to work, I sequestered myself to the common room at the condo. I set up my drafting table on top of the giant wooden desk, put on giant headphones, and drew a very cute pit bull for an anti breed ban sticker. It says “Keep your laws off my paws”.
I think I am the worst possible candidate for a community room.
I don’t like spontaneous community interactions, unless I am high on sugar.
I like to mentally prepare for small talk or for when I’m being observed.
I saw a former student at the bubble tea place. I was greasy and unbrowed and feral wearing stretch pants as pants.
I want to send her a video of me wearing a lot of lipstick to tape over that memory.
The condo where we are staying has a room called “The Pet Spa”, where you can groom your dog in a giant metal tub and then blow dry them with an incredibly powerful hose.
I didn’t bring a blow dryer with me to San Francisco, so tonight after a shower, I walked over there in my pajamas in the dark, holding a round brush. There was already a small terrier using the facilities, so I snuck back to my condo with wet hair and waited for him to finish. You know what? Despite the minor anxiety of being discovered using dog facilities as a human being, it was one of the best blow-outs of my life.
Fetch: How a Bad Dog Brought Me Home came out on 7-18-17.
Images by Nicole J. Georges