Migraine Nights

Dearest Carla Fran,

Back after a peculiar night. At various points I slept, writhed, read Spenser criticism, slept more, did half-somersaults in reverse to bend the iron girdle around my neck, made toast, tried to e-mail a gentleman to whom I owe a phone call, couldn’t, read Lucky Jim, carved a canteloupe, and created a LinkedIn profile for one Jemima Puddleduck, CEO of a company connected with Gambling and Casinos.

Thank you for your good wishes. They worked. The muscles of my neck and back have unleashed me and I feel—sleepy, yes, but euphoric. The day after a headache is a joyful one.

Trying to catch up on all the delights of which you’ve written me, I tripped on pulsion, which coincides unhappily with one of my migraine dreams. Apologies in advance for the self-indulgence that follows, and for crossing a boundary into the downright grotesque, but it startled me so.

I dreamed that I was at a relative’s apartment, which happened to be located on the fifth and last floor of a grey apartment complex in some little seaside California town. Across the street was a grocery store called Bag ‘N’ Bend, which allowed you to place all grocery orders by phone, and they would deliver. From the outside it looked a little retro, more Piggly Wiggly than Bristol Farms. I walked up the stairs, feeling more and more winded, and pitying the delivery boys who had to climb those same stairs to bring the groceries.

There’s a gap here. Cut to me standing in front of a mirror, feeling short of breath and vertiginous, like on a rollercoaster, and taking my shirt off. One breast was normal. On the other the aureola had expanded to cover the entire breast. It was huge and pink and monstrous. My heart was beating 192 beats per minute (measured it with a metronome), and then, as I watched, the right aureola shrank back to normal, then expanded again, as if it were some sort of external beating heart. Only tuned to a slower, more normal rhythm than the heart inside my chest, the rate of which was more hamster than human. Or worse—a slowly winking eye.

So apparently I suffered from pulsion of the breast. Pulsion. A terrible word. A college friend once told me that if you pushed your stomach out from within, you risked weakening the lining and rupturing your intestines. He was a big drinker, a big talker—not someone remotely health-obsessed or given to squeamish fears. But this possibility really scared him. Humans have never seemed more balloon-like than they did in that living room, pushing their stomachs out while Paul panicked.

Whatever it’s discomforts, you’re right. Pulsion does imply growth (or inflation, anyway).

If it’s any consolation, I think, you know, that re-pulsion might just as easily be an intensifier, like re-lining or re-doing or even re-producing. Not an active shrinkering but a doubled growth.


One Response to Migraine Nights

  1. Pingback: American Idle: How Fear and Anger Drive Us To Our Fallen Work « Millicent and Carla Fran

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