Kevin Brennan Writes About What It's Like
The heat wave has lasted more than a week, making for claustrophobic days after early-morning walks and errands. I’m talking a solid week of 100+. Sleeping was difficult because we hate to run the AC all night, but we gave in halfway through and set the ‘stat for 78. Why should it be hard to sleep at 78 degrees? With a fan too. The dog paces up and down the hallway, looking for a cooler spot, and it’s hard for him because he’s wearing a fur coat all night and worrying about things only he can hear.
You can hardly get relief from swimming because the cement deck of the pool is like a griddle. It’s great in the water (though the water’s as warm as chicken broth), but school’s out so you’re competing for space with all the kiddies, girls wearing what I hope is a fad – pink mermaid tails that force them to drape themselves over the side of the pool waiting to be noticed. It makes me sad to see them that desperate for attention, and missing out on the swimming. The boys play their competitive games and sometimes splash at the little mermaids.
I’ve been trying to keep my tomato plants alive, but even though they’re in big pots that can be moved it’s hard to find spots where they’ll be in shade part of the time. Scorch marks on their stalks. Doesn’t take much and they start slumpin’.
I had a dream where everyone lived in the mall, like there’d been something catastrophic that happened and we had to go communal. Not sure what store I lived in, but I noticed there was a length of shrubs in my compartment with some small birds skittering around underneath. Bring the outside in. When I walked up and down the concourse of the mall, people hanging around in groups looked at me like I didn’t belong, and I had to agree.
Watergate keeps coming up these days, and that makes me happy because the novel I’m shopping around to agents is set in the summer of ’73, when the Senate Watergate Hearings were in full swing. If I’m lucky, some agent might see this as a harmonic convergence and think my book is unbelievably timely, even though it takes place forty-four years ago and I wrote much of it at least ten years ago. Yet, as written, it is timely somehow. It’s about a really fucked-up family, and that, my friends, is your metaphor for the week.
I read this piece by linguistics professor, James McWhorter, about how totally bizarre English is as a language, and I agree. But you also have to admit it’s a hell of a lot of fun to write in this language. With its blend of all the strange Celtic languages, Viking languages, German, French, Latin, and Frisian, English gives writers so much to work with that any writer can be identifiable by the way he writes. I’m glad, as an English speaker, though, that we don’t have nouns with genders, because I can’t wrap my head around a river being male while a flag is female (in German, anyway). You have to memorize all that when you’re learning one of those languages, yet it turns out that English is one of the few languages that doesn’t genderize its nouns. (Luckily, the word for noun is neutral in German.)
English spelling is a whole ‘nother kettle of ghoti, of course …