I am now accepting applications for a House Boy. The necessity of this position being filled in my home has become increasingly clear to me. For your services, you will receive free room and board, on-street parking, and audio/visual appliances at your disposal. House includes: front and back porch, back yard with hammock, eat-in kitchen, air conditioning, cable internet — all just a five minute walk to the subway.
The job entails the following: We will have sex at 6:00 each evening when I return from work. You must then prepare a delicious dinner for our enjoyment, do the dishes, give me a bath, and read to me until I fall asleep. As I dream away, you will be free to roam the city and pursue any felicitous adventures you desire as long as you are home by 7:00 a.m. so I can make you breakfast.
House Boys must be cute and slightly shy with the ability to nod and smile. Knowledge of vegetarian meal preparation a plus.
If you would like to apply for this position, drop me a line. I seriously injured my back last week and spent ten days laid out in violent pain and packed in ice. My friends ame in a constant stream of care-taking, cigarette and iced coffee procurement, movie delivery and dish washing, for which I am eternally grateful. But I think it was all that time on the couch unable to get up and do anything for myself that affirmed my need for a House Boy.
I might go over to craigslist now and see if I can drum up any takers. Hold me back, folks.
I didn’t sleep for six weeks.
Until Friday. I went to bed at 8 p.m. and woke up at 4 p.m. the next day. I felt like I’d been in a coma. My doctor had wanted to give me drugs. Red-and-blue Tuinal, lipstick-red Seconals. I shunned the pharmaceuticals. I figured if I eventually got tired enough, my body would surrender to sleep.
Sleep is the first thing to go with me. I get excited, stressed-out, any other intense emotion, and I stop sleeping. I was clocking two or three hours a night for the past month, but they were filled with garish nightmares.
I remember most of my dreams every night and I remember them in vivid detail. They have plot lines and soundtracks. They always include photographs and a cast of animals. And I keep having nightmares about my parakeets.
My parakeets are quite the innocent little guys. Soleil and Mordecai. Mordecai was named in tribute to the preregrine falcon in The Royal Tenenbaums. He is the old Jewish man, hunched over and rustling his feathers, grumbling all the time. You can imagine him in an easy chair with a cigar hanging out the side of his mouth. And Soleil is his slim blond mistress. She has good posture and a beautiful voice.
I’m quite fond of these two little birds. But in my dreams I am always killing them in one of five ways. Usually it’s either by drowning them or crushing them. I also burn them, step on them, or feed them to a larger animal. There hundreds of different ways to squash or drown a parakeet, sometimes simultaneously, and I have done all of them while in dreamland. A lot of times I’m holding them, or putting them in my pocket, and accidentally ripping their heads off. Or I take them swimming, and break their wings so they drown.
So the doctor wants to know why I’m not sleeping. I tell him I started a new job, I’m flailing about in unrequited love, I’m moving furniture I can’t carry into an apartment that can’t fit it. He enjoys analyzing my dreams. He loves it because I give him endless material to work with.
I had a dream Friday night. I was sitting in the parking lot of a pet shop (see?) and three people I was with were smoking pot. And they handed the pipe it to me, and I took a hit before I realized what I had done — that I don’t put substances in my body anymore. I tried to exhale without it getting into my bloodstream, and then I looked down and was holding a developing pan full of wet photographs. They were all of the same person. I ran from back yard to back yard trying to show people the photographs, like, “Look at this person! Look at him!” and they were ignoring me or telling me they didn’t know who he was.
My doctor began to give me all these interpretations of my dream, and what the people represented, and why this person was on wet photographs that everyone else refused to see. I don’t know. Sometimes I just think I’m weirdo and my dreams simply serve to remind me of that. So I told him, “Sometimes a photograph is just a photograph.” He laughed; he likes Freud. And he recommended I use a mental tool he’s entitled, “Finishing the Dream.” It’s right up there with his “Urban Isolation Syndrome.”
He tells me to imagine a different, happy ending to the dream. To walk through the bad parts and rewrite the outcomes. This could take all day. He tells me to take out the birds, groom them. I tell him the birds would have a heart attack and die if I put my hand in the cage. Then I wouldn’t even have to drown them.
Those are just my dreams. My nightmares are worse than any movie you could ever imagine. Most of them involve trains.
I have serious train issues. It’s ridiculous. I grew up in a house with a train running through the back yard until I was 3. We weren’t allowed on the tracks but some hideous things happened to me there that I won’t recount. In less traumatic days, we put pennies on the rails so they’d get squashed when the train went by. We moved out eventually because my dog got killed by the train and my parents thought we might be next.
My worst nightmares include trains and being accidentally strangled by someone I trust. The last few I’ve had involved trains running off the tracks of railroad bridges. Crashes. But I am never actually in the train. I am below or in the water and the debris falls on me. I’m sure the doc would have a field day with that one.
When I moved to Boston I lived in a constant state of panic attack when I saw that there were trains on the street. What did I do to deserve this? You actually had to look both ways before crossing the T tracks. My stomach churned and my heart beat wildly every time I crossed Commonwealth Ave. I used to walk four blocks in the opposite direction and four blocks back just so I could cross the street where the subway went back underground. Eventually I had to get over it.
Weird thing is, I’m not afraid of trains, just the tracks. I love train rides. I love being on a train, the smooth lull of the trip, looking out the window at views of cities you don’t normally see. But in my dreams, there are ankles getting caught, trains moving so slowly they creep up on me, tracks redirecting themselves wherever I step so I can’t get out of the way of the train. There is also the recurring nightmare about family members hanging me by the ankles over the third rail and telling me not to touch it. The train scene in the Fugitive was the most terrifying scene in a movie I have ever witnessed.
Last night I dreamt about these three music reviews I wrote last week in the real world for possible freelance to this newspaper. In the dream, the music editor dismissed the two really good ones and took the third, which was my least favorite. He hacked it down to three paragraphs and said, “I like this one. This one is definitely worth $6.00.”
I think that particular dream was inspired by the truly awful documentary I saw last night called Stone Reader where one of the guys interviewed cites his favorite professor as the one who completely tore apart his short stories with no constructive criticism whatsoever. My worst nightmare.