Monday, August 21, 2017

The jet lag dreams seemed to arrive intertwined, or one within another. I overslept and realized I had to contact people at work. I decided to call in sick—in fact I was sick, I thought, with some kind of cough and fever. It was 11:10—pretty late for this, but still morning at least. I reached my boss by instant message. All the while I was working on a complicated project. It wasn't much like my actual job—maybe more like my old one. I thought about writing, about how easy it is. Just pick a time period, a circumstance. An ordinary, put-upon man in 19th-century France. He marries a woman and finds he cannot satisfy her. He becomes obsessed. What's wrong with her? What's wrong with him? This is writing. I heard French chanson and someone asked, “Who is this?” and I said Jacques Brel, and then I realized it couldn't be him—“Jacques Brel has quite a strong accent,” and this singer did not. “It must be Charles Aznavour,” I concluded. In the meantime Brel was doing an acrobatic act as part of his show. Swinging with a woman on trapezes that led higher and higher. I considered how scary and dangerous this was and imagined I was him. I'd quit right away, abandon whatever was left of the engagement. But what excuse would I give to save face? “I'm bored,” I'd tell them all. We were living in a big house, me and Sara and my siblings, maybe some others. My brother was staying in a room at the end of the kitchen. He'd left a pan on the stove with butter burning. I turned it off, thinking he'd gone to sleep and forgotten. He emerged, explaining that he was thinking of staying awake until some ungodly hour, like five o'clock, when he was to visit a morgue as required by a study program he was in. He dreaded it. He described the corpses he'd have to see, “their flesh torn by polyester strings,” and I knew exactly what he was talking about, and told him so. In the other corner of the kitchen I was cooking something with rice, brownies, and candied almonds. My sister Weezie came in and peered at it curiously. Later my brother again had something on the stove, and again I turned it off, and again he came out of his room. “I'm sorry,” I said, “I really thought you were asleep.”