Shackleford and his pups from “The Endurance: Shackleford’s Legendary Anarctic Expedition”
There is no love as unconditional as that from a dog. Before I met my dog I had never had someone who was always glad to see me when I came home. No one who was always overjoyed when I woke every morning. No one who was ecstatic to sigh next to me on my pillow each night. I don’t like admitting it, but in many senses, I didn’t discover a joy for life until I had a dog. I didn’t really know why people wanted to live before him. Sometimes I worry that if something happened to him I will go back to how I was BD. Before Dog. Back when I was sad. Through him I discovered that in the morning the streets are empty and the leaves are covered with dew and that time, morning time, is the best time for all things. That time is also the best time because my people, dog people, are the only people out on the street. My tribe, my new tribe, stumble about with plastic bags in hand, along the sidewalks, offering cursory greetings. It is not true that we, the dog people, are actually friendlier, more outgoingier. We’re just in a constant state of mild dog bemusement. I went to a talk given by Neil Gaiman a few weeks ago and my one take away from the whole talk was that he said that all writers need a dog. I totally agree. Adopt a dog. He or she will make your life better. Lovelier.
time passes. i keep waiting for time to heal this wound. grief. when i am happy my heart beats like a hummingbird, my blood flows freely through my veins. each platelet healthily rushing along. no plaque or clotting in sight. when i was a little girl, 8 or so, my aunt took me to solvang. it’s a little tourist town in california that’s all danish and hans christian anderson themed. very cute. there was this stall selling oysters where you could find a pearl. she bought me one. i didn’t know then that every oyster had a pearl inside. i thought i had picked a one-in-a-million oyster. my only knowledge of oysters, truth be told, before this was from the alice in wonderland cartoon, actually. but i had never won prizes at fairs, so this seemed to be a lucky occasion. she had them put my pearl in a silver ring. i thought it was the best thing ever. we went to anderson’s split pea restaurant in buelton on the way home. i put a bit of all of the toppings from the platter in the center of the table on my soup. back then, the brown, pea soup and yellow interior seemed amazing, almost magical. close to disneyland. time would make it tacky. age would make it sentimental, wonderful, again. this memory, every memory, of her, is tied up, locked up, in that phone call. the call years later from childhood. telling me that she’d killed herself. and for years after that i’d simply not answered my phone for fear that every call would bear news of death. of another abandonment. another failure on my part. blocked numbers, still, are best sent straight to voicemail. you never know. ignore all calls, think of pearls. time will tell.
a little girl with chapped lips sit on the swings, ignored by her parents. a bandaid falls from one knobby knee, revealing a scab earned during a game of freeze tag. she picks at it. her name is samantha. last night, between lavender sheets made sweaty with dread about this coming play day, she dreamt of trolls. about a sprawling black marble castle filled with shelves of books and a troll army at her command to lay waste to the humans. it was a good dream. here, in the day time, she pumps her feet encased in ruffle socks and mary janes, picks her scab, and ignores the others girls on the playground. pines for her trolls army.
there is no
c o n s c i o u s n e s
in a still life
no explosions of sensations
cascading through neurons
House foundations are made from concrete and rebar. My foundation is made from paper pulp and ink. Sunny days spent indoors, shelves alphabetized, eating and drinking whatever the characters I’m reading eat. I like it when they drink tea, imagining I sip when they sip. There is no one better to break bread with than your best book friends. My BBFs are loyal. They stuck with me through high school, college, two grad programs, a move to New York and then back home to Los Angeles. They were there when I needed company in heartache, by my side in the hospital bed after a particularly nasty car accident, joyfully nestled in my purse on dates and interviews, and bravely in my hand above treacherous bath waters. My BBFs are so accepting, they never judge; I mean they’ve been there, done that, behaved poorly. My BBFs are brilliant, to boot. I always learn something when we’re together. (My favorite is when they teach me a new word.) You may think me misanthropic, finding my besties in books, but you’d be wrong. After all, people write books.