I’ve been thinking a lot about the way a novel keeps giving back, even after it’s been published. An analogy I’ve used is that writing is like dreaming; I meet dream characters go to dream places, but it’s hard to foresee while I’m in the act of writing who or what will appear. It’s only after having experienced the dream – after I’ve written the paragraph, chapter, manuscript – that I can then go back and interpret it, understand what it might mean, where it might fit in my life. I work on the book and the book works on me.
I’m living alone for the first time in nine years. Not having roommates in the last six months, I found that I’d a some kind of scaffolding to my life. My schedule varied much more – I’d look up and it’d be 10pm and I still hadn’t had dinner. My roommates were an external clock; when they’d come back from work and start making food, some part of me would realize, Oh, it’s time to eat. And it was already tough, working from home, to get out of the apartment in the afternoons – to get more than a couple thousand steps a day. That much tougher with one fewer person around to say, Hey, I’m going to this thing; do you want to come with?
After I finished my first novel, while I had some free time on a road trip in the Southwest, I got a tattoo on my left forearm. A single thin band, inspired the ringed tattoos that one of the characters in the book had. After I got it, I thought it might be interesting to commemorate each new novel with a new tattoo, inspired by something in the book. For See You in the Cosmos I considered tesseracts and bits of the diagram on the cover of the Voyager Golden Record. But none of the designs felt right. None of them had the poetic sharpness of the first tattoo.
Then, a couple of months ago, after coming back from the book tour for See You in the Cosmos(the subject of this week’s podcast), a tour in which I’d talked so much about Carl Sagan (the dog in the book), it struck me: I should get a dog. Like, not a dog tattoo – an actual dog.
So. I’d like you to meet Matisse:
He’s the reason I moved into a new unit in my building (dogs are only allowed in the downstairs units as they have sturdier, polished concrete floors). Matisse is super shy around people when indoors (this one included), but we’re working on it. Outside he’s a champ. When we came home from the Humane Society last Wednesday, he sniffed around, eschewed (esCHEWed) the crate I got for him, and found his spot:
He’s a lab mix, ten months old. But I’m pretty sure he’s also a cat.