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Pooping Back and Forth: Love Is Weird and Sometimes Shitty — an Exercise

Pooping Back and Forth:  Love Is Weird and Sometimes Shitty — an Exercise

Well, it’s Valentine’s Day on Saturday, so I thought today’s post would be about love, romance, obsession, sex… you know, all that stuff.

I just finished Miranda July’s new novel The First Bad Man. To keep from gushing too much about how weird and eccentrically awesome it was, I’ll just say:  no one does love and obsession and sex quite the way she does. After all, this is the woman who brought us “pooping back and forth forever,” which you have to admit is strangely intimate and sexual and … dare I say it?… romantic.

In The First Bad Man, middle-aged Cheryl is in love with a man twenty years her senior, who is in love with someone else.  Then Cheryl gets a young housemate, Clee, to whom she ends up playing the role of enemy, then mother, then lover.  To understand how that happens, you’ll have to read the book.

July is a master of weird love.  In her short story “Majesty” from the collection No One Belongs Here More Than You, the narrator has a dream about Prince William in which, “he had lifted up the back of my skirt and was nuzzling his face between my buns. He was doing this because he loved me. It was a kind of loving I had never known was possible.”

Again:  weird, and yet… there’s something about this dream that is so true to human emotion.  I guess what I mean is, love and relationships are complex and strange, and our writing should reflect that.

Miranda July is an author, actress, film-maker, and all-around talent. She wrote, directed, and starred in Me and You and Everyone We Know — the film of “pooping back and forth” fame.


I’ve always been interested in the expression of love in eccentric, creepy, or unexpected ways. I love the juxtaposition of romance with something dark or disconcerting. Like Courtney Love sang, “I love him so much it turns to hate.” Haven’t we all felt that at some point? There’s a fine line between the two extremes.

And speaking of Love, how about her late husband, Kurt Kobain, who sang, “her milk is my shit. My shit is her milk.” Like pooping back and forth, there’s something romantic there, buried beneath the yuck.

That’s what I was going for when I wrote this poem, published by Burlesque Press two Valentine’s Days ago. I wanted to combine gross and creepy with sex and love. Don’t they often go together anyway?

This is apparently the symbol for “pooping back and forth.” Feel free to use it on your Valentine’s Day cards.


When you’re writing, there are so many ways to show love and obsession and sexual tension besides two people staring into each other’s eyes a la Twilight.  Sometimes it’s the way a character describes another that shows love in surprising ways.  For example, in Miranda July’s story “Making Love in 2003,”  the narrator first meets Steven Krause and describes him this in way: “His face was an animal face, a cat-giraffe face that said everything in the absence of language. His clothes were careless and perfect, just areas that loosely mapped his nakedness.”

Or take Beck, for instance, (who recently — and deservedly — won a Grammy).   In his old classic “Nitemare [sic] Hippy Girl” he sings that the girl has flaky skin and is a “melted avocado on the shelf.”  Yet her skinny fingers are fondling his world. She’s a “goddess milking her time for all that it’s worth.” He’s talking about a weird kind of romance.  Most romances are.

Beck was probably my lover in an alternate universe.

Beck was probably my lover in an alternate universe.


And so here’s my challenge to you on the eve of Valentine’s Day weekend. Can you write a story or a poem or song about love and romance but show it in eccentric or creepy or unexpected way? After all, it isn’t just about hearts and flowers and candle-lit dinners. Most of the time, love is weird… and sometimes shitty.


“Nitemare Hippy Girl”

by Beck Hansen

She took me off my guard with disappointment
I got sucked inside of her apartment
She’s got dried-up flowers, flaky skin
A beaded necklace and a bottle of gin

She’s a nightmare Hippy girl
With her skinny fingers fondling my world
She’s a whimsical, tragical beauty
Self-conscious and a little bit moody

It’s a new age letdown in my face
She’s so spaced out and there ain’t no space
She’s got marijuana on the bathroom towel
I’m caught in her vortex
She’s changing’ my style

She’s a nightmare Hippy girl
With her skinny fingers fondling my world
She’s a whimsical, tragical beauty
Uptight and a little bit snooty

She’s a magical, sparkling’ tease
She’s a rainbow choking’ the breeze
Yo, she’s busting’ out onto the scene
With nightmare bogus poetry
She’s a melted avocado on the shelf
She’s the science of herself
She’s spazzing out on a cosmic level
And she’s meditating with the devil
She’s cooking salad for breakfast
She’s got tofu the size of Texas
She’s a witness to her own glory
She’s a never-ending story
She’s a frolicking depression
She’s a self-inflicted obsession
She’s got a thousand lonely husbands
She’s playing’ footsie in another dimension
She’s a goddess milking her time
For all that it’s worth


About evalangston

Eva Langston is a writer, among other things.

One response »

  1. Pingback: I’ve Been Reprimanded…Again, or, Why Your Writing Won’t Please Everyone | In the Garden of Eva

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