From her bedroom in what has been affectionately dubbed “the Snothouse,” a local blogger shares her take on dedications, fluctuations in temperature, and the distance between cleanliness and godliness.
Portland, Oregon – Although it is nearly midday, our source, who asks to be known only as “jessmonster,” has yet to do anything with her hair. “I got distracted by breakfast,” she says, “and then I just wasn’t sure if I cared anymore.”
Jessmonster struggles with feelings of accomplishment. Every dish washed, every cupboard door shut behind her, every bed made is a milestone to be celebrated. “Yesterday I even vacuumed by room!” she cries in triumph.
The changing of seasons is bittersweet for the jessmonster. For one, she can’t decide if she’s hot or cold. She opens and closes her bedroom window more frequently than she checks her email. One minute she is griping about the heat being turned on, “when it’s only October!” and the next she’s warming her hands on a candle, a long ago gift from a cousin. In a typical change of subject, she steers the conversation towards gift-giving. “I’m taking up knitting again,” she declares, following a yarn-free summer. “I’m looking to make as many Christmas gifts as possible out of all my left-over yarn.” She expresses a wish for friends to submit requests. “As long as it’s for a baby hat or a scarf,” she amends.
“Excuse me,” she says with a shiver, and interrupts the interview to dry her hair. “It’s not the aesthetics so much as the warmth. Is this interview almost over? I think I need another cup of Batdorf & Bronson.” Saying she’ll only be a minute, the jessmonster comes back with her third cup and a hankering for popovers. She shares her philosophy on baking: find three good recipes, and simply rotate. “You’ve got your chocolate chip cookies, your pumpkin bread, your popovers. The trick is to create an illusion of variety. One week, throw some coconut in the cookies. Try mango applesauce in the bread. Put Nutella on your popovers instead of jam. That way you’re not messing around with complicated and unfamiliar recipes.” She does like to keep herself on her toes, however, and admits a recent interest in carrot cake and lemon bars.
When asked about recent writing projects, our subject clutches a copy of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader to her chest and declines to comment. “I’d rather wait until I’m done.”
She does, however, share a budding interest in dedications. “I think they’re a really undervalued element of the publication process. Anyone can whip out a “For Elizabeth,” but I think a good dedication is a sure sign of genius.”
Leading the way to a large bookshelf, she roots around for several minutes before emerging with a stack and offering examples. Her favorites, she says, come from author Russell Hoban.
“For Barbara Alexandra Dicks, who often signs her name in lower case but is, in fact, a capital person.” (A Baby Sister for Frances)
“For Julia, who likes to practice with a string bean when she can.” (Bread and Jam for Frances)
She also raves over the following:
“As nearly possible in the spirit of Matthew Salinger, age one, urging a luncheon companion to accept a cool lima bean, I urge my editor, mentor and (heaven help him) closest friend, William Shawn, genius domus of The New Yorker, lover of the long shot, protector of the unprolific, defender of the hopelessly flamboyant, most unreasonably modest of born great artist-editors, to accept this pretty skimpy-looking book.” (Franny and Zooey)
“To M. J.
This book is your fault. If it had not been for your brutal insistence, Lord Peter would never have staggered through to the end of this enquiry. Pray consider that he thanks you with his accustomed suavity.
D. L. S.” (Whose Body?)
Jessmonster is always on the lookout for something new to add to her collection, adding that the library atmosphere is particularly conducive to this hobby. “Obscure hobbies are underrated,” she complains. We all need our little things to keep an eye out for…”
In typical jessmonster fashion, she lets the end of the sentence hang, and so shall this interview.