We Are Strong, Benatar Style

Dearest Millicent,

Quickly, because all dream descriptions that don’t involve expanding and shrinking ballon nipples should be quick, I have a dream for you.  Last night, I dreamt that I opened my door this morning, and you were there.  You said “I didn’t have anything else to do.” So, you had driven to my city, and we went out in the world to run errands.  On of our errands was to go talk to your past mother-in-law.  She was being mean, and we told her off expertly.  It was very satisfying. I wish you were there as cognitively as I was.  We were, as they say, fierce.

Ummm…that phonecall, while terrifying, was a gift from the heavens to read about.  And, because there are too many Law and Orders on television these days, I must say, be careful.  But, wowzers.  Somebody threatened to “cut you!” I thought that only happened in 1940’s dice alleys or very bad after school specials.  And the reference to Dr. Phil.  Wise.  But we must also have a universal “What the shit?”  It is quite an intrusion, hilarious or not.  Any clues to who the missing link in this may be? When the drama rains, the drama pours, no?

Lastly, the fifth child must not be allowed victory.  You must crush him, probably through ignoring him and his evil evil ways.  You must pretend he is a sleepy-eyed SUV driving dolt that just wants to skip class to eat muffins and watch the Cosby Show (and shag his new college girlfriend).  He obviously has respect issues, or in a twisted way thinks that he is charming you with his intellectual avarice.  Pretend you are part of the No Child Left Behind program, and adequately (that’s all that is required) serve some while leaving the obnoxious (this stinker) far behind. Of course, easier said than done.  Also of use, my neighbor, our mutual friend, recently said that she has been going into class lately with the goal of being the worst teacher possible.  Then she congratulates herself when something goes a muck.  She says it has improved her attitude greatly.

If all else fails, you should introduce your mystery caller to your letter writer.  I bet they would hit it off on a magic carpet ride touring the planets, grooves and all. And then throw them this fifth child as a therapeutic craft project for their violent tendencies (too much?)

Yours always,


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.