We meet Ronnie D, a single woman in her 30s living in a small house with two cats. Our first attempts to get through the front gate into the patio area are thwarted with a large limb from a tree. The front gate is actually just a regular door with nine small windows that you would normally find inside, but here, it marks the entrance to the outdoor space. After some struggle Ronnie comes to assist. She has wet hair, no makeup, and is dressed in cowboy boots, a bolo tie, and cat ears. She rattles off some explanation through the windows that she knows her outfit really calls for a bonnet instead of the feline flair, but the bonnet is reserved more for road trips though there are times to wear it in stationary positions as well, this not being one of them. She maneuvers herself between the door and the limb, using her arm to push the limb up while using her leg to unhitch the door. She smiles and says it's her security device, then continues to explain that although the limb is always in the way of the door, it becomes more problematic after a rain. She's considered cutting off the limb but hasn't been able to bring herself to do it yet because the tree is a beautiful Ficus that has probably been there at least 50–75 years, and who is she to decide what limbs it keeps for her mere convenience. Then of course, she muses, the door knocking into the limb on a regular basis is causing it pain, so she isn't doing it justice overall. At this point a sadness overtakes her face, and she sits at a mushroom table surrounded by unswept leaves to cry, but the tears don't come. A few moments later, she hops up quickly and sings a song about her cats while leading us into the main house.
At first glance, the main room is reminiscent of a video about prehistoric life that one could see in the hall of a natural history museum -- a world so unfamiliar to one's own experience that the only thing to do is stop and gawk at the unusual landscape. Cats scatter from here to there as a large floor fan blows small shreds of newspaper from one end of the room to the other. The newspaper scraps are from a "recent" collage project Ronnie has completed over a month ago, yet hasn't cleaned up yet because the clipppings are so valuable. Miniature pieces of old junk mail with coupon offers, pictures of smiling men, and chosen words litter the tile -- mouth, PAIN, neuralgia. It appears as if there is a fireplace hidden somewhere behind a leopard print bean bag chair, stacks of books, cat toys, CDs, cardboard coffee cup sleeves, saguaro boots, dried gourds, and newspapers. The mantle is covered in clumps of cat hair and colored post-its scribbled with notes, directions, and random math equations, and smack in the middle of all the chaos is a smiling wooden Buddha figure perched above it all. Trying to avoid tripping over the bike in the middle of the entrance, our cameraman stumbles and gets his equipment tangled in a beaded curtain positioned in front of a massive, carpeted-yet-shredded kitty condo adjacent to a litter box. Bookshelves with printed books, notebooks, massive stacks of paper, ashtrays, notes captured on receipts and wrappers, spare change, rocks, empty cardboard tea boxes, a miniature bottle of mouthwash, and random electrical cords line the west wall and are covered with a layer of dust so thick, it's easy to decipher the path of the last thing to be pulled or placed on the shelf. Ronnie comments that she's been meaning to dust those, but time just gets away on her, years and years just fly. Then a severe sadness overtakes her face, and she sits down on an end table randomly placed in the middle of the room with a cat bed situated on top to cry, but the tears don't come. A few moments later, she springs up and sings a song about dust remover being marketed to women, but maybe they should make some men remover, am I right and leads us into the kitchen.
The kitchen reveals only about six square inches of usable counter space; the rest is covered in random kitchen appliances, fake flowers strewn about, and clean paper towels torn in half. The sink, surprisingly, has no dishes in it, but the space right next to it is stacked precariously high with clean dishes needing to be put away while the back of the sink is covered with both empty orange juice bottles and bleach handy wipe bottles. From the wall, a cartoon drawing of a an alley cat stares sadly into the room with oversized eyes filled with distant longing while the opposite wall holds mushroom art, vintage tiki masks, and a plaque disparaging the virtue of men. Ronnie twirls in a circle to show us the kitchen -- the fridge, the stove, the oven which, by the way, she has never used for a list of fears too numerous to name here, the mini convection oven she uses in its place, the big blue bag of plastic bags, the big blue bag of paper bags, the cabinet-slash-kitty perch full of kitty dishes, toys, and accessories, the telescope pointed to the view of a brick wall, and her kitchen table, buried somewhere beneath a mode-podge of things making it completely unusable. She explains that she's never used the table, and in fact, she's never been a fan of tables, but one of the cats like it, so it's more of a kitty space. If one looks closely enough beyond the gift bag full of receipts, cans of cat food, unopened mail, piles of grocery store flyers, a partially used gallon-jug of fake blood, various healing gemstones, and flattened cardboard cat food trays, a small kitty sleeping box can be seen. Ronnie explains that the table was a gift from her parents when she first moved in. This revelation causes an extreme sadness to overtake her face as she dejectedly sits down on a bar stool pressed tightly against the lower kitchen cabinets, a kitty-proof device to keep one of her cats from slashing everything inside, to cry, but the tears don't come. She whispers that she wishes she could be a table user, but she's just not a table user; she'll never be a table user; she'll never be what the world expects from her, what her family wishes for her. Then she hops up, offers us one of the fake flowers from behind the convection oven while she curtsies, singing a song about how flowers that never die are the flowers you can't trust, and leads us around a cat scratching post, two oversized cat carriers, and a papason chair full of stuffed animals, sweaters, cat toys, and jackets to the half-closed door of the bedroom.
It soon becomes apparent that the door can neither open nor close fully due to the extraordinary amount of purses hanging from it. Most interestingly though, Ronnie is only ever seen with two purses, one with threadbare straps, the other with a broken zipper. The room has three dressers with countless drawers as well as what appears to be two closets; however, clothes lay piled on top of every dresser and stacked in neat piles on the jewelry armoire which has become completely inaccessible. On the floor are, what we later discover, plastic bags full of clean laundry amidst stacks and stacks of notebooks, dirty socks, unmatched pairs of shoes, a Strawberry Shortcake crib full of cassette tapes, shoeboxes full of cassette tapes, unopened Christmas presents, an unusually large number of circuit boards, more bubbles than a grown woman should possess, brand new cat litter boxes, toys, scratchers, and costumes stacked halfway to the ceiling, and a partially unpacked suitcase, the remnants of a vacation Ronnie took in December, five months before our visit. Shockingly, the twin bed is completely clear and even made, although the sheet set is obviously intended for a much larger bed. She explains that you must always make your bed, otherwise it's like living in chaos, and that's no way to start your day. The walls are covered in Tupac birthday memorabilia, old photos, hats -- including one bonnet -- motivational sayings, and a pretty pink dress covered in what we can only hope is fake blood. Ronnie makes a dash to tidy as we enter the center of the bedroom, moving the clothes into one main pile, revealing spray paint cans, a pile of tangled necklaces, bicycle safety lights, and at least three creepy baby dolls. Interestingly however, even prior to her rearranging, a clear path was cut to a mini bamboo drawer set ontop of the largest dresser. As it catches her eye, an inexplicable sadness overtakes her face. She sits down in the empty laundry hamper to cry, but the tears don't come. At this moment, both cats come to her feet as if to calm her, both meowing. Ronnie responds that it's true, we never open those drawers, do we, babies? She then sings a song about mama and babies, mama and babies, I'm the mama, and I got two babies, as she hops up doing the Karate Kid's tournament-winning crane move, and leads us to the final room in the house -- the bathroom.
The same scenario is true for the bathroom door as was true for the bedroom door; it can neither open nor close fully, but instead of purses, the door is covered in clothing, mostly pajama pants. The floor is riddled with dirty underwear, shoes, and hair styling appliances. Oddly again, Ronnie is usually seen in very few clothing combinations and seldom styles her hair. Near the shower is a large plastic bin whose drawers cannot be accessed, but upon peering in, it appears as if it is full of makeup, hair accessories, and even more hair styling appliances. On the top of these drawers there is an empty blowdryer box, empty shopping bag, empty soap bottles, and a box full of a wide range of nailposlish colors. Ronnie hasn't painted her fingernails since 2012, and she has had the same nail polish color on her toenails for so long, it's permanently changed their natural color. The back of the toilet bowl is home to at least seven toilet paper rolls, the makings of a project she explains, and the counter is covered to the edge of the sink with lotions, sprays, makeup, and a big, old silver boombox. The overhead storage holds industrial sized bottles of hand soap and antibacterial hand gel. The ledge below the mirror is full of fortunes from fortune cookies and hand-scribed motivational messages written in the third-person; the mirror holds a Beyonce quote, though we soon learn that she rotates the messages on her mirror depending on the mood and need. We do not attempt to open the cabinets, but one of her cats does and then disappears into the darkness of yet even more hair styling appliances. As her cat's tail disappears completely from view, a solemn look overtakes Ronnie's face, and she tells us that one day, we'll all disappear into the darkness, then she stares deeply, silently into the chest of the cameraman for two-and-a-half minutes. The cat reemerges from the cabinet, and she quickly does the hokey pokey while sing-asking us if we want to listen to a super sweet late-night trance mix tape from the 90s.
In Case You Were Wondering . . .
Sometimes Ronnie D writes funny stuff. Sometimes she writes desperate teenage prose. Most times she just slams her feeble, little woman-hand onto the keyboard in an attempt to feel something, anything.