"My name's Marlene. My dog's name is Thomas. He doesn't like walking because he's got a thing on his toe, but thanks for the offer." Cathy shakes her hand, happy to have Marlene in the proper container, and then impressed and overjoyed when Marlene -- even yet more beautiful now; hair brushed back, wearing shoes, looking human -- asks to borrow the lawnmower. "Mine's dead. Add it to the list."
Cathy Jamison asks Marlene from across the street if she ever thought about killing herself.
"Think about it all the time, but I just keep waking up."
Cathy nods. That's just shocking enough; mostly, though, it's good enough advice for today. She approves of the way they keep death on the table in their conversations; that they are honest and horrible enough to talk about death without talking about talking about death. Just waking up? That's all she's been doing. Split and dive. Sun and water and air.
Guy comes up to Picasso on a train; maybe the guy's German, maybe not. "You're Picasso? Why do you distort people so, when you paint them? Why can't you make a realistic portrait of a person for once?" Picasso asks him what that would even look like, and the guy pulls out a photo from his wallet. Picasso just stared for a while.
"Is your wife really that small and flat?"
That night Paul brings their son Adam home. Paul has just given his son an iPhone, so that he can call him. Anytime. Paul has a flair for drama and a feeling of not being heard, so he gets redundant and he gets overly expressive and he barely makes sense: "You understand? Call me when we're together. Call me right now. Call me right now! It's a phone, too!" He has a feeling of not being heard because he is not being heard. Paul loves his son, desperately. He would buy more phones if he could. He would paper the walls. Nobody is that small and nobody is that flat.
When Adam enters the house, something is strange and something is missing. His voice climbs octaves as he climbs the stairs; he finds his mother in the bathtub, dripping blood. Cathy Jamison loves to be shocked because she understands the purpose: You wake up to the realities of a situation when you think time is up. All the simplified and cartoonish facts rush back into vibrancy. You see the truth of your life and the truth of the things around you. You realize that you can put the atom back together and that these things have meaning. That the material world is not just a cover story for the internal but that it has merit and strength and beauty of its own; that it acts on you just as you act on it.