There’s a scene in the 2018 revival of Twin Peaks where Sarah Palmer—mother of Laura Palmer, the ur-teenager whose murder was the investigative impetus for the entire series—is sitting in a dive bar when a dangerous-looking trucker tries to pick her up. Throughout the show, Sarah has been portrayed as a vulnerable woman: her daughter is dead, her husband is found guilty of the murder, she is wracked by grief. She screams and cries and curls up in a ball; sometimes she has mysterious visions. We’re used to seeing her as a kind of wounded animal, albeit the sort you wouldn’t want to approach, since she might bite.
In the bar, though, Sarah warns the trucker to leave her alone, and then, when he doesn’t, she takes off her own face to reveal a void full of flickering images and asks him, “Do you really want to fuck with this?” Then she tears out his throat with her teeth.
The upshot for the show is that Sarah is probably possessed by a demonic force called Jowday (or “Judy”)—but weirdly, in the moment, the scene feels cathartic and exciting. No, we don’t want Sarah to be tortured by a demon from within. But we also didn’t want her to be tortured by that trucker. In a moment when so many women are powerless, she showed herself to be incredibly powerful.
All of which is to say, when I was drawing sharks this week, I wasn’t specifically thinking about Sarah Palmer tearing her face off, but I also wasn’t not thinking about that.
Actually, I think about Sarah Palmer tearing her face off, Sarah Palmer asking Do you really want to fuck with this?, kind of a lot. Sometimes as a moving, surprising, scene of television, and sometimes because I feel that question bubbling up within me. Sometimes because I am asking myself, about myself, Do you really want to fuck with this?
Our yard is full of plants—weeds, technically—that popped up because we got so much rain. They took over the yard almost overnight: one morning I looking into the back and saw so much purslane, grown so high, that I thought a branch had fallen off a tree. (Yes, my eyes are bad.)
We’ve struggled with the soil in our yard for years; when we had it redone a few years ago, we were assured that a few handfuls of local wildflowers would result in beds of bright color and form for years to come. They did not. Every spring I toss out more and more handfuls of flower seeds: African daisies and poppies and desert bluebells and primrose and whatever else strikes my fancy, and rarely do we get more than a few small plants blooming out front. They grow in my garden, where I water them, but they do not grow where we were told they would grow.
There is, then, something exciting about the spontaneous green, the volunteer vegetation. It’s all over our neighborhood; all over the city; but it’s in our yard, for once, too. A mixed blessing. Over the weekend, Dave finally pulled a bunch up, because it was taking over, and I’m about to pull some more. The monsoons are largely past, and soon the plants will wither and brown if we leave them be, becoming more and more difficult to deal with.
When Dave tried to weed the front corner of the yard, he was bitten by angry black ants who’d made a nest beneath the weeds. We had wanted nature to come in and take over, and when we did, it bit us. It asked, Do you really want to fuck with this?
For the moment, at least, I plan to leave that corner of the yard alone. Is it good? Is it bad? I don’t know. But it’s earned a breather, by my way of thinking.