Posted in human nature, writing

Narration

René Magritte, Le Principe Du Plaisir, 1937

I talk to myself. When I shop, cook, read, practice (sometimes), go for long walks—I imagine and comment often unconsciously, no matter who’s around. And I always write out loud…always.

It’s not enough for me to see characters talk to each other on the page, express themselves through inner monologues, or confess their longings in letters; I have to hear them do it. Nothing about them or their situation feels concrete until my ear can process their voices. The same is true for an objective narrator. I have to hear the narration in order to see the scene and action.

I started talking to myself when I started reading, an offshoot, I suppose, of being read to by my parents. When I started school, I read everything I needed to learn aloud; and when I got older, I learned to keep my voice low so I wouldn’t disturb anyone around me, or become the subject of ridicule or fear. I still have sharp memories of the warning issued by one of my math teachers when there were whispers in class: “There are only two types of people in this world who talk to themselves; and none of you are millionaires. The men in the white coats will be coming for you soon.”

In my youth, I didn’t think I was crazy, but how could I be sure? It was the sixties.

Thanks to cell phones, I’m no longer concerned about my habit of talking to myself in public. These days, most people are talking to air—yelling at their kids, coordinating schedules with their mates, or gossiping in a way that invites everyone to eavesdrop. Next to them, my babble about ingredients labels, or what was on the grocery list I left at home, is inaudible, even if my lips are clearly moving. No one cares.

And at home? Well….

A few days ago, my husband came in to my office wanting to know who I was talking to as I was in the thick of a character’s outpourings; but as soon as he saw the page of text on my screen, and the phone receiver resting in place, rather than at my ear, he said, “Oh,” and left without another word. Without blinking.

That’s the wonderfully comforting part of living with someone for a long time.

You can talk to yourself all you want, and it’s just part of another day for them. At least, that’s what I tell myself….

©2019 All Rights Reserved

Posted in animals, dogs, human nature

Anxiety

Our second dog, like our first, was a rescue. This one, a Jack Russell terrier we named, Yoda, had been tossed into a garbage can.

We expected behavioral issues because of the way Yoda been abused, but also prepared ourselves for the fact that Jack Russells, while amazingly cute and intelligent (which she was), are also notoriously self-possessed, tenacious, stubborn, and feisty bundles of energy.

Within a year, Yoda had our heads spinning. We had no idea that Jack Russells have springs in their legs, and looked on in terror and awe as she chased one squirrel up onto the roof of our garage, and another halfway up a century-old oak tree. If it moved, Yoda chased it. And then we chased her.

Though she was devoted and protective, she was not a physically affectionate dog. In her fifteen-plus years with us, she may have licked me twice. She liked to cuddle, but only on her terms. For a while, she tried sleeping with us, but decided we were too restless, and moved down to the living room where she could rest undisturbed.

Even so, as independent as she was, she was prone to destructive fits of anxiety, no doubt the result of her history, which invariably led to her finding some large sheet of paper or envelope we had set aside, and ripping it to shreds in front of us.

More now than ever, I’ve recalled her doing this, because current events have made me antsy, and, in an effort to calm down, I’ve been going through articles, recipes, teaching materials, wisely-abandoned works-in-progress, ideas, and decades-old receipts I haven’t looked at or touched in years, and feeding them into a shredder. As the strips mound and fill basket after basket, I realize I’m breathing easier. Yoda had a point.

Sometimes it’s good to rip things up. Clean out. Unjangle the nerves.

And then have a biscuit.

©2019 All Rights Reserved

Posted in history, human nature, Irony, poetry, Politics

Provenance

“Picture of Dorian Gray” by Ivan Le Lorraine Albright,

His car belonged to a Nazi.
Not a would be,
Or wannabe,
Or could have been,
Or clone,
But a Nazi high in rank,
A name you’d know,
And I forgot
The minute he smiled and said it.

He keeps it under wraps in his garage
To shield it from harsh winters,
Hungry salt;
But brings it out when sunlight burns
Each Independence Day,
To drive in the parade.
Crowds wave and sweat,
And he waves back,
Honking,
Drowned out by marching bands.

Afterward, he parks it by his house,
And beams as neighbor’s children
Ooh and ah,
And beg to climb inside.
He doesn’t balk, but
Makes them wash their hands
Of sticky cream,
And cheesy dust,
With disinfectant wipes.
He is insistent on this step,
Of course,
To keep the car pristine,
Interior unstained—
As if it could.

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