“Darling, I love you like a big, bloody steak.”
This snip of dialogue was meant to be delivered by a female character with a British accent. It was her response to her lover who in some equally colorful way expressed his doubt of her affection. The two were a couple who were at the center of a positively brilliant short story that I was composing in a lucid dream within a dream. It was the best thing I’d ever written.
When my alarm went off, I automatically reached for the plotline of this story, still convinced it was genius; the sort of story that just wrote itself, that flowed from the mind through the fingertips onto the page. I just needed to hook this one detail: What was it her lover said to her that prompted her meaty response? I lay there, trying with groggy desperation to remember what it was. But instead I remembered the dream that held the dream about the perfect story, which involved a big hairy cat and a skinny man with the worn-hard good looks of a someone who had lifelong habit of frequenting dive bars who was, by all appearances, my boyfriend. I didn’t get his name. The cat belonged to him.
Then it occurred to me that it was not an English woman who was a character in a story in dream who’d spoken, but it was I who told him, my lean, cat-loving paramour, in a sarcastic British accent, “Darling, I love you like a big, bloody steak.”
I’m a Winter
Until April 20, 2016, I had lived my entire life on the coast of California. Snow was an unknowable phenomena. I read about snow in books and saw it in movies—snow that was waist-deep, snow that rose up to the second story of a house, snow that broke the branches off of trees, snow that frosted eyelashes, snow that turned cars into unidentifiable white lumps. As a child I demanded to know when exactly this magical accumulation of snow was going to make itself known. My parents shrugged and said, without a hint of remorse, that it simply did not snow in Los Osos, California. Frost was closest we’d get.
I am confident that having been made to wait 42 years to brush the fluff of fresh snow from a brownstone’s gate, or to stand in a silent intersection staring up at the flakes as they float down through the streetlights to land softly on my face, or to pack a snowball to throw at a wall, or to make fresh tracks across the newly whitened paths in the park has made my immense enjoyment of these moments all the more acute.
The best thing about having a romance-free lifestyle is never having to worry about when or whether you should text someone, and never worrying about if or when they’ll text you. I thought after everything I’d learned, I wouldn’t still be the girl who countenances these tired, stupid dilemmas.
Turns out, I’m still that girl.
“If I name my couch, does that mean I’m crazy?”
“I took my cat to an opthamologist. I’m not sure my crazy gauge is the one you should trust.”
“I spend so much time quality time with my couch. People say, ‘what did you do this weekend?’ and I say, I sat on my couch. But it’s so much more than that. You know how important my couch is to me. Seems a shame just to call it ‘couch.’”
“Well, if you do name it, you should call it Hank. Hank is a good solid name for a good solid couch.”
Hank and I had a lovely weekend together.
It is hard to write about the world right now—to parse the variety ugly realities of it. The great orange apocalypse of a presidency bearing down on us, the well-documented desperation around the world that screams for our attention, the shameful, unapologetic injustices in our culture that grow bigger and bolder each day, empowered by our own silent, helpless malaise, by our persistence in being misinformed, under-informed, misdirected, or just uninterested.
I have always been a watcher. I watch and then I write. But now, that doesn’t seem like enough.
And yet I am also filled with this trollish, terrible curiosity about how bad it can get. But the delinquent in me is holding a lighter and an economy-size can of aerosol hairspray, who wants all the assholes to know—they can get burned back; who’s ready to watch it all conflagrate just to see what will happen next.