Dreamed I was in this store that looked exactly like what I imagine stores in the U.S.S.R. used to look like—meaning there were all these single light bulbs dangling from frayed cords, illuminating tables with moldy potatoes, scrofulous onions, soleless boots etc. etc.
And one of these tables was the Karma Exchange.
Under the laws of this particular regime, you had to stay in karmic equilibrium.
The Regime assigned each life event Karma Points, which were a type of currency! So, if you wanted something really good to happen, you had to sign up for an equivalent number of really bad things to happen.
I was standing at this table, bickering with some jowly bureaucrat: Make these good things happen for my children…
Okay, he said. But you realize you are really going to have to suffer…
I am fairly sure this dream was inspired by a conversation I had with BB as we were driving to Rhinebeck for lunch.
We were talking about Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez whom I love, love, love. And her economic plan. Empty posturing or feasible blueprint?
Well, she was an economics major!
“I suppose its feasibility depends upon how you define money,” I said. “Once money became uncoupled from…” I paused, searching for the word.
“Specie,” BB said.
“Yes, that! Once that happened, money became a totally imaginary construct. In fact, you might say that debt has replaced money as a kind of bespoke currency that’s very unequally distributed. Anyway, if you believe that, AOC’s plan is quite doable—“
“Modern Monetary Theory!” said BB.
My favorite kind of get-together! We hung out! Meaning we spent time together with no specific agenda. We pulled in at that auto garage looming alongside 9G that has those strange fieldspar sculptures and rusty vehicles, and I tromped around pretending to be a girl photographer:
(Not quite Christine. Christine was a Plymouth Fury, not a Pontiac.)
We chattered! We are both huge Joyce Carol Oates fans. I looked up the poem that inspired the title of her novel Because It Is Bitter and Because It Is My Heart, and read it aloud in my best imitation of James Earl Jones:
In the desert
I saw a creature, naked, bestial,
Who, squatting upon the ground,
Held his heart in his hands,
And ate of it.
I said, “Is it good, friend?”
“It is bitter—bitter,” he answered;
“But I like it
“Because it is bitter,
“And because it is my heart.”
Of course, we had to stop by A.L. Stickle, my favorite store in Rhinebeck, to take a look at all the fabulous new stock. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t need a cherry-pitter:
Or a rubber chicken:
Lunch was excellent, and we drove the back road back to my house. I glimpsed Wyndcliffe through the barren forest! We also saw this standing not far from the porticos of one of the unruined mansions:
At the edge of a Hudson cove, we passed an ancient stone building that I remember reading—somewhere!—is one of the oldest manmade structures in Dutchess County.
“Must have been a mill!” BB remarked.
And I had one of those Duh! moments because the road we were driving along is called Mill Road.
Alas! No place to pull over to catch some photographs. It was a surprisingly busy road for all that it was so narrow and off the beaten path.
My own heart feels considerably less bitter this morning, though hideous white stuff from the sky has covered the world, and my remunerative work looms very bor-r-r-ringly indeed.
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