I can’t give you what you need. Look around you. Everything around us shouts your fertility. Points toward it. The whole palace is waiting on your womb. It’s the organizing principle of this entire operation. You think you can hold out against it?
So much of life is spent not having sex. Put the kitchen in order, clean the bathroom, print the report, return the call, keep the dental appointment, get the car out of the shop. But this isn’t about us at all: it’s about some deal. So let it happen, see what it really is. Watch the ball go up, up over the formalized landscape, lost in bright overcast.
After getting in line at 9 AM and standing under a disgusting fine drizzle for almost three hours, Monique, too, got her shot. Just before nightfall she began to get chills and her temperature went up. After taking one paracetamol tablet and twenty drops of diazepam, she fell asleep.
And in the moment of me and my father, I see myself, I see my face in a tiny square in the corner of my phone and I’m flushed, I’m this red angry thumbprint listening and trying to think things through and waiting for it to all be over, and he’s in his bed holding the tablet or whatever they gave him at this terrible angle where I just get the underside of his chin and his hair splayed out on either side, it’s like the underside of his chin is a tiny featureless face jutting up out of the hospital gown, some weird eyeless monster, and all I’m hearing is wheeze wheeze crackle crackle.
How can we get closer to the wounded belly of the world?
Choose your own birth adventure: either you come out of a dark vagina or an iridescent anus. Taking over for Spinoza, the receding figure who is always with us, Kafka laughs at the childishness of a second creation story. In his work, the animal speaks while the human is, ultimately, struck dumb by anal bureaucracies of his own making. Legal fictions estrange humans from each other and create, in the most sensitive souls, fissures that never heal.
She called all the local doulas and hired me because I was cheapest. I still wasn’t sure whether this was a pastime or calling or business or what, but I was leaning toward pastime/calling, as I had neither the desire nor the bandwidth to hustle in this realm. So I asked for the tiniest of honorariums.
My fellow doulas got wind of this and read me the riot act, because I was undermining the whole community. We all had to charge within the same ballpark. No one cared whether this was my calling or pastime or what; just please charge the standard goddamn rate. I apologized. I hadn’t wanted money to be a thing, but money is always a thing.
The worst thing about being alone is that you have to talk to strangers, and that’s awkward. He was bullied as a boy for saying funny things at the wrong time. Even his sisters used to say he had an odd manner of speaking, but there’s nothing he can do about that. What’s he supposed to do, not speak?
What is the remedy for dropping a bomb on fellow human beings, allowing their homes and the homes of their neighbors to burn to the ground, shooting at those trying to escape the fire, giving near life sentences to the survivors, and then, covertly, keeping the bones of those who died in the attack as trophies? What is the remedy for the creation and maintenance of the carceral state?
It was 1982. Brezhnev died. Ready also died, after eating rat poison. Olya started her senior year at the Institute and bought herself a violin made by the German master Schneider for 1,600 rubles, telling her poor parents that a girlfriend who’d dropped out of school and married a Georgian had given it to her. She continued to meet Burmistrov at the same apartment. She was so used to Horse Soup’s screaming that she no longer paid any attention to it, focusing only on the food in front of her.
Or perhaps the joy lay in the way they loosened the world, suggesting that nothing was really so important. Lions and bears were insulting each other on the playground — and still, she was carrying this weight? The weight of the husband? Of the shag carpet?