Swimmers Club

Originally from Misfits Mag, 2016


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Municipal Pool

Check which is the shallow end and note the point where you will be out of your depth.


Who: Rita Bullwinkel
Where: Nashville, Tennessee, USA
What: Writer

Hi. Who are you?

A living thing that other people seem to identify as a human woman. 

Where are you from?

A small town in northern California called Portola Valley.

What time is it where you are? What's going on?

11:24 AM on a Sunday. My long time lover is playing piano in the living room while I write on the sofa. The lover is wearing cutoff jean shorts, a Providence, Rhode Island Columbus Theater T-shirt and a Soylent trucker hat. To most people I think the lover would, at this particular moment, look quite unhinged, which is a nice look to have about you if you can manage it.

Can you tell us a bit about your piece/pieces in Cassette 68?

I have three small stories in that pretty little book called Cassette 68. One of them is about corporate bullshit and the end of humanity as we know it. One of them is about a mother who feeds her son too much yogurt. And one of them is about the way that plants will stop reaching their leaves toward the sun if they decide that they are tired of living and that they want to die.

How do these pieces differ to what you've written before or don't they?

It is very difficult for me to tell how any of my writing differs from any other thing I have previously written. I think of the things I write as ligaments that have been separated from my body, which is why it is very difficult for me to talk about them and look at them, because they are my fingers and my toes and my ankle and, to me, they look like other people’s body parts but different because they are mine, and they used to be a part of me but now they are not. Now they are just unshapely objects that people can look at and choose to consume or throw away.

Can you tell us a bit about what you're working on next?

Later today I will likely try to bake a cake. Then I will make a birthday card for my wonderful sister. She is a project engineer at a very large construction company in San Diego where all day long she builds grand skyscrapers and giant bio-tech refrigerators that house little vials of human blood and disease and drugs on trial. Once I had a dream where I fell asleep in one of her refrigerators and woke up and was completely fine, though my hair was wet and my skin was very purple.

Heard any good music this year?

I am in love with that rocky mountain raga-man, Robbie Basho, especially his 1978 Visions of a Country. I am also immensely taken by the magic-wielding vocals of Jessica Pratt and Angel Olsen.

Do you fancy yourself as some kind of artist or what?

I fancy myself a vegetable. I frequently think I share significant physical attributes with a potato, but I have also been told that my body resembles an eggplant, specifically a longish one that only bulges at the bottom ever so slightly. I even have an eggplant medallion that I wear when I am feeling particularly vegetal.

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My favorite thing about this necklace is that when you lift off the leaves you can see that the body of the eggplant is really a small container for perfume or poison. I haven’t found anything really good to put in there yet so right now it only contains the old lady perfume it came with when I found it at Southern Thrift.

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Finally, have you read anything good this year?

This year I have read piles and piles of beauty. I am always encouraged by how much beauty there is just waiting to be found. Some of that found beauty includes:

Paperwork and the Will of Capital by Taryn Simon
Bogeywoman by Jaimy Gordon
The Bend, The Lip, The Kid by Jaimy Gordon
Coming Through Slaughter by Michael Ondaatje
Bellocq: Photographs from Storyville, the Red-Light District of New Orleans by John Szarkowski (Author), E.J. Bellocq (Photographer), Lee Friedlander (Preface), Susan Sontag (Introduction)
How to Set a Fire and Why by Jesse Ball
Notes on My Dunce Cap by Jesse Ball
Bluets by Maggie Nelson
The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
Fine Fine Fine Fine Fine by Diane Williams
A Manual for Cleaning Women by Lucia Berlin
Vertigo by Joanna Walsh
Holiday Meat by Mark Baumer
You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine by Alexandra Kleeman
Important Artifacts and Personal Property from the Collection of Lenore Doolan and Harold Morris, Including Books, Street Fashion, and Jewelry by Leanne Shapton
Department of Speculation by Jenny Offill
The Lover by Marguerite Duras
U.S.A.: The 42nd Parallel / 1919 / The Big Money by John Dos Passos
The Sorrow Proper by Lindsey Drager
The Kiss of the Spider Woman by Manuel Puig
Tantra Art: Its Philosophy & Physics by Ajit Mookerjee
The Riddle of the Sands by Erskine Childers
Night Sky With Exit Wounds by Ocean Vuong


Rita Bullwinkel lives in Nashville, Tennessee where she is a graduate fiction fellow at Vanderbilt University. Her writing has appeared in many publications including VICE, NOON, Spork and Guernica. She is a graduate of Brown University, a Vanderbilt Commons Writer in Residence, a Sewanee Writers’ Conference Tennessee Williams Scholarship Award winner, a Hawthornden Castle International Fellow and a Helene Wurlitzer Foundation grantee. Her story “Passing” was a finalist for The Conium Review‘s Innovative Short Fiction Prize judged by Amelia Gray. Her story “In the South the Sand Winds are Our Greatest Enemy” was selected by Joyland Magazine as one of their top five favorite stories published in 2015.

Read more about her at ritabullwinkel.com.