Friday, December 26, 2008

life with brian 1: monologues (fiction)

1: Monologues

It’s not that I like speaking in monologues, but when the other party in the conversation abdicates his responsibility to come up with anything responsive, it’s either that or shut the heck up. And I like the things I have to say too much to shut the heck up, so I monologue. Besides, after two years being married to Brian, I’ve pretty much gotten used to it. Entire weeks have gone by when I have not even heard his voice. He sits, he nods, he smiles sometimes, he makes odd little sounds in his throat that seem to signify cognitive responses that I pretend to understand, and he sits some more. Every once in while some pearl of wisdom will escape his encapsulated mind:

“Do we really have enough money?” or “We don’t have any room.”

Mostly he just lets me talk for both of us, and I am perfectly capable of it. Days come and go, problems come and go, money comes and goes (and goes more than it comes): there is always something to say.

I don’t want to give the impression that Brian is just some great lump who sits around and does nothing. That would not be the truth. Not at all. Oh, he’s not working right now, but he does other things that have value. He does all the cooking for one thing, and he’s very, very good at it. I can hardly believe what that man can whip together from a bunch of nondescript ingredients, and that is a good thing considering the sorry state of our larder these days. The most words that come out of his mouth each day often come right around the time he says something like “There’s food,” to whoever is listening, and the various denizens of the household migrate toward the dining area to discover what culinary bit of whimsy he has brought out of his imagination this time.

We might eat alone, Brian and I, or maybe with the girls, Allie and Marie, if they aren’t with my ex. Or maybe the Subterraneans will surface for a dinnertime visit. We do see them from time to time, though less so than you’d imagine considering that they live just down a flight of stairs from us. If they come, though, at least there will be someone else willing to carry on a normal conversation at the dinner table. If anything about the Subterraneans can be called normal.

Besides his expertise in the kitchen, Brian is also an artist. I mean that literally: he paints. His work adorns almost every wall in our cluttered, messy, overstuffed, chaotic, utterly packed little townhouse. When he moved in, he turned the already ridiculous front room of the house (then already full with my desk, computer, filing cabinets, bookshelves, and about a dozen other things in a 7x8 space) into a studio.

“Good light,” he said, elaborating as always on his reasoning for cramming even more crap into the first room people see when they walk through the front door. And now his easels and paints and brushes and half-finished canvases are pretty much everywhere that the other stuff wasn’t, and the effect is sort of like living in the immediate aftermath of an earthquake, if the walls could sort of stay up. I try not to look left when I walk in the front door. My orange tabby, Shakespeare, usually greets me, and that helps, because he curls around my feet and makes me bend to pet him, stopping me long enough in whatever I’m doing that I will remember the clutter and avert my eyes.

Brian insists that Shakespeare is yellow. No one knows why.

At this moment, Brian is depressed. I ask him why he is depressed and he won’t tell me; this of course is not a tremendous shock. If he had told me, had actually articulated something that significant when invited to, I might have had to call the New York Times or Newsweek or something. But of course he didn’t; he mumbled something about needing to figure it out for himself and rolled over on the couch. He does this a lot too: sleeps on the couch. I don’t actually understand it; we do not have a particularly comfortable couch. Still, he falls asleep on it frequently, and he often even sleeps the whole night on it. Actually I suspect that he is not sleeping right now because he is not snoring. When he sleeps, he snores, and his snoring can scare trains out of tunnels. So the silence from the couch makes me believe that he is simply lying there thinking.

He thinks a lot.

Today’s bout of thinking stems from Christmas. Christmas was yesterday, and it was a fairly low-key event as far as such days have been in my life. Allie and Marie are away, so we decided not to celebrate the holiday until next week when they return. And finances are such that we really had little to spend on presents. I think what is bothering Brian is that we spent anything at all. I can’t seem to convince him that a little deficit spending around the holiday is a good thing, that it does the soul a world of good. He just sees that it does the wallet a world of bad. And he’s right of course about that, but it’s Christmas and I don’t care. So he’s depressed. And so he’s thinking.

He should be painting; it would take his mind to better places. When he paints, something within him is freed. I think his soul lives in the brushes and canvases and waits for him to release it; if he doesn’t paint it remains trapped there, unable to breathe, unable to fly. He said this morning that his dreams had died. How? With canvases unfinished and others yet unimagined? But he’s like a shark: if he stops moving forward he starts to die. And now, as Shakespeare sits on the windowsill above him looking at a fresh December snow, he is not moving.


it's your hair that i notice first
streaked with morning
it frames your face
you lying there eyes closed
soft breath not quite there
i follow its path as it bends the sheet
and i can touch you there
touch what i feel is you
in the spark of daylight
you'll rise
pull on the wrinkled shirt from last night
say something you think is beautiful
drink some coffee
from behind my paper
and drive away,
leaving a kiss on my lips
and a hole in my heart
where a fire ought to be

Favorite Films

  • The Wizard Of Oz
  • Amelie
  • The Princess Bride
  • Casablanca
  • Annie Hall
  • The Lord of the Rings
  • All That Jazz
  • Citizen Kane
  • Love Actually
  • Moulin Rouge
  • Big Fish
  • When Harry Met Sally
  • Almost Famous
  • Bull Durham
  • Notting Hill
  • Apocalypse Now (Redux)
  • Magnolia

All-Time Favorite TV Shows

  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer
  • Gilmore Girls
  • M*A*S*H
  • The West Wing
  • The X-Files
  • The Daily Show
  • Ally McBeal
  • Picket Fences
  • All In The Family
  • Seinfeld
  • The Mary Tyler Moore Show
  • Star Trek
  • Firefly
  • Wonderfalls
  • Northern Exposure
  • Get Smart
  • The Dick Van Dyke Show
  • Twin Peaks
  • The Larry Sanders Show
  • Monk
  • Felicity
  • St. Elsewhere

Current TV Shows I Enjoy (in no particular order)

  • Perception
  • Major Crimes
  • American Horror Story
  • Louie
  • Suits
  • The Newsroom
  • Falling Skies
  • Franklin and Bash
  • Veep
  • Scandal
  • Fairly Legal
  • Girls
  • Don't Trust the B---
  • Justified
  • Portlandia
  • Psych
  • The Middle
  • Person of Interest
  • Happy Endings
  • Hart of Dixie
  • Real Time with Bill Maher
  • Nikita
  • Raising Hope
  • Castle
  • Drop Dead Diva
  • Covert Affairs
  • Elementary
  • Rizzoli and Isles
  • Revolution
  • The Last Resort
  • Alphas
  • SNL
  • Revenge
  • Community
  • Suburgatory
  • New Girl
  • Once Upon a Time
  • Grimm
  • Nashville
  • Downton Abbey
  • Smash
  • Homeland
  • Fringe
  • Glee
  • Haven
  • Community
  • Warehouse 13
  • Modern Family
  • Vampire Diaries
  • The Daily Show
  • How I Met Your Mother
  • The Colbert Report
  • Parks and Recreation
  • Leverage
  • Rachel Maddow Show

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