Wednesday, October 29, 2008


Confession: I have a twisted mind. A fucked-up, double-helix railroad track of a mind, on which two competing trains of thought are constantly, endlessly, hopelessly chuffing.

Today, for example---when the kids I watch in the afternoons are eating blueberries in the kitchen, laughing and cramming their mouths full of freezer-burned fruit and saying things like "Sit in my watery nest! Right here, in this nest made of beans!"---there is, in my mind's-eye, one placid, Thomas-like engine moving along with a vapid smile...and another veering off to one side because she's too busy looking at the vague hypothermic shadows of juice surrounding the kids' mouths and paging through her immense catalogue of unsavory associations---past Donner Party and heliotrope cynanosis and victims of drowning---to realize she's about to derail.

It's not about worry, not really. It's not that I'm concerned, in a serious way, about the possibility that I might have to Heimlich somebody. But the facts that stick in my head are the weird, macabre ones---every terrifying, perverse thing I've ever read about or witnessed is right there and ready to rear up without notice.

Like, for example, when I'm getting on the subway at a certain stop, on my way to meet a friend for margaritas and cheese fries at the restaurant where they roll their eyes at us, and Morrissey is wailing out of my ipod, and even from down here I know it's beautiful...but I can't help thinking of how, five years ago, I watched a man jump to his death here, not twenty feet from me. I remember his trench coat, his wristwatch; I remember the body sprawled on the platform and the paramedic saying "It's no good."

Or when (less seriously, thank goodness) Audra is relating a story about the faulty burglar alarm at the store where she works, impersonating its lunatic whooping and the customers who wouldn't leave, and I'm laughing and also thinking that the sound she's making is exactly like one of those sirens used to indicate the arrival of Nazis at the end of The Diary of Anne Frank. Or I'm toasting marshmallows around the bonfire with friends and remembering the well-meaning vegan who told me, in stockyard-graphic detail, the truth about gelatin. Or I'm drowsy, drifting off, thinking that one of these days I should deal with those cobwebs under the bed, and suddenly that statistic pops into my head, the one about the number of live spiders a year the average person is likely to ingest in her sleep. Is it three? Or seven? Seven seems like a lot, but maybe...

And on and on. Am I the only one who's like this? Whose every present---every now and now and now---is tethered to something appalling or vile, a heartbreak?

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