Thursday, October 06, 2005

Looking forward to naif alcoholism

Last night I dreamed that Robert and I were at a party and I was talking to his friend Kasper's girlfriend of six months, Sharine, when I noticed that she was wearing an engagement ring. She saw me looking at it and blushed, then took it off and hid it in her napkin. "Are you and Kasper engaged?" I asked but she didn't answer. So I walked across the room to where Kasper and Robert stood and I asked Kasper the same question. His whole face lit up in a huge grin and he started laughing. "Yes," he said. He called Sharine over and she slipped the ring back on her finger and we all stood there, smiling at one another, until I pulled Robert off to the side and he said, "Sarah, I know you're upset about this. And listen, to make it up to you, from now on I'm going to pay for your dry-cleaning."

But before anyone tells me what an insultingly obvious dream that was, let me tell you that, at my friend Suzie's suggestion, I did the astrological chart for our relationship at, a totally free endeavor that resulted in "the stars" reporting that one of us is mentally ill. I don't even have to ruminate too much before taking a stab as to which one is more likely to fall into that category. What I would be far more interested in learning is the answer to this question: When did horoscopes stop using words like "perfect," "sparkling," and "joyful" and start predicting "sexual power struggles" and "naif alcoholism"? Breaking up with someone because you've received bad news from a psychic computer program...that actually does sound insane...but now that we've been diagnosed as "doomed," maybe it calls for a wine-soaked tug-of-sheets during which we bark and throw tarot cards at each other.

On a positive note, that dream does remind me to pick up my dry-cleaning.

Yesterday's workshop included an essay by a first-year student, a girl I will heretofore refer to as PH, short for her self-proclaimed description, as in, "I am a total pothead, man" and "I had a high-assed head." Her essay was centered around marts, like 7-11, and she covered everything, from what they sell to who works at them to her encounters with the people behind the counter. The writing was sharp and funny enough to qualify as addictive, which is why, in class, I didn't quite know how to articulate my point.

In addition to offering praise for all the things that worked so well, I thought it would be worth mentioning that some of her piece -- details about shoplifting, living with a coke dealer, waking up in the afternoon and going straight back to bed to get high -- made me uncomfortable. Yes, yes, I realize maybe they're supposed to, maybe we should all congratulate her for such "disarming honesty" -- but my reaction was underscored by the fact that her story was not really about the past; mostly, it was about her life now. And (this really is the mother in me) it made me feel sorry for her.

I didn't say all of that -- just left it at the discomfort -- and PH rolled her eyes and said, "Yeah, um, that's, like, whatever. The whole story?"

Ruth, a woman in her seventies, chimed in with me and said, "When I got to the pot, I thought, 'This is porn! I don't want this in my house. But I kept reading...and the writing is very good.'"

After class, Sara came up to me outside and said, "You were right to point that out because I think several of us felt it. But, also, you're not her ideal reader."

And I know that she is right. The truth is that I would fit in better at meetings of Oprah's Book Club than I do in workshops of confessional pieces about self-destruction. Does that make me mature or, more likely, just not cool enough for my school? Shall we drink to that?


Anonymous camille said...

I laughed out loud during the first half of this story.
Thank you for that. I can be joyous everyday. Not continuously but I will take the momentary highs as they come.

10:24 PM  

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