Crushing Headaches

Dear Carla Fran,

I woke up in the middle of one, and it has been with me all day. The longer I have these aches–migraines? tension headaches?–the longer they feel like a color, a really bright and painful shade of blue, a little like the Windows XP welcome screen.

My reason for writing you, however, is that I find myself in the grip of a powerful crush. It’s a novel sensation, and not all pleasant. I liked the generalized feeling of goodwill towards kindly members of the male sex, and I’m resenting the crystallization of all my feeling on one person. It’s like enjoying the sun for the first time in awhile, then realizing you’re the ant under the magnifying glass in the eleven-year-old’s fist.

I am combating the affliction with a combination of Emily Dickinson and Thomas Hobbes. Hobbes’ elaborate analogies between humans and machines–Sovereignty, for instance, is the “Artificial Soull” of the “body” of the State, which is itself an “Artificiall Man”–are helping. We are all tiny watches–our joints are wheels, our nerves are strings, and God is the great Artificer. At times like these, when my neck feels like a steer being tugged by wranglers on either side, I find this easy to believe. And comforting. We are machines, and we rust, and we tick, and things chug onward on their predetermined tracks.

Dickinson, in contrast, is incredibly unhelpful. Her poem “Wild nights–wild nights!” does not help. Neither do her clipped phrases or her angular handwriting or her habit of dressing, in latter days, always in white. Nor does her comparison of the Brain to the weight of God, “which take them, pound for pound…” a strange conversion of the brain and God into grocery-store scales. It’s all so spare. I find her destabilizing and fascinating and completely obsessed with the number “two.” Which again, does not help.

My crush is beautiful and dresses in green. I don’t often allow myself to pay attention to beautiful boys–they’re far too much work and seldom worth the trouble. But there it is. The bird of my brain strolled down the walk and bit my precautions in half for lunch. Birdbrain that I am, he is of course taken. It’s as Dickinsonian a crush as one can easily find in this day and age. I may dress in white tomorrow.

I’m off to eat honey and go to bed. I hope you are well, dear friend.