Let’s start with Ernie basics

I had a dream that God rose above the horizon, pointed at me, and started telling me to get people to prevent the impending collapse of society. God took the form of a giant klingon with dreadlocks who had squid arms and giant lobster claws. When he spoke, it was like when you’re trying to get a really old shitty pair of headphones to work by turning them around in the jack, only I had no headphones. This made sense, in the dream, because it was all sort of divine language, and it makes sense in the 21st century instead of angels he’d use technology. A group of scientists and myself had done some pretty wacky experiments on each other (one of them had a single antler growing straight up, like an oak tree, out of the top of his head) and we were just trying to enjoy ourselves in a symposium-like fashion of sitting around and chit-chatting about the good times, waiting for society to collapse, when we had to step outside and see this very strange vision. There were some other bits involving two lesbian secret agents and two gay secret lovers, time travel, and a death highway that we had to cross in order deliver the recordings to the past. I think the dream was: a metaphor. At least I hope it was. Honestly at this point I find the apparition of God in the form of a giant klingon with dreadlocks and squid arms and lobster claws to be far more plausible than some bearded ghost. The 21st century is a strange time to be alive.

Hello, my name is Ernie, and besides the details of my very interesting dreams, I have the basics about my life to share with you all:

1. I currently work in a plant shop run by an irascible Scottish man named Ian and his partner Anne, who runs the homewares/kitchen shop next door. We sell houseplants. (“We” being myself and Ian. There are no other employees.) The shops are in Brixton Market, an indoor market which is half-gentrified and half-not, which makes it a lively mix of people from all over the world. (This can be said about many places in London, but it’s very much on display in Brixton Market.) Anne and Ian have changed the function of their shops multiple times throughout their ten years at Brixton Market, and they’ve just switched from coffee to houseplants. Their business model is simple: they buy houseplants at Covent Garden market at four in the morning when all the wholesalers go, drive them south across the river, and jack up the prices triple to sell to the hipsters there. People are absolutely cookoo for houseplants. I did not know this, because I barely use instagram, but that’s really where the trend started to take off. I also think it has to do with the economic strangulation of my entire generation, and so desperate as we are to care for another living thing but unwilling to submit to the financial burden of a child, or even a dog, houseplants are a safe middle ground. You don’t even need a yard.

2. I work in a houseplant shop because I got hit by a car at the end of May. I had got on my bike and was riding towards south bank to hang out with Harriet after work. I was biking past a long line of traffic when one of the drivers, bored with waiting, decided to yank the steering wheel to the left and scoot. She didn’t signal, I was coming down a hill, the bike stopped moving when she hit it, I didn’t. I flew over the hood of the car and landed on my right side. I was wearing my helmet, so even mid-air I was like “eh this is fine I’ll be fine” and due to the shock, I had no idea that my elbow was no longer where elbows are supposed to be. The driver was very apologetic and offered to drive me to the hospital, but I declined and said I just wanted to sit down for a minute. I sat in front of Sainsbury’s (it’s a supermarket chain, for my american audience) dizzy and feeling weird. Some other people had stopped to help; one ran inside the market to buy me some juice, one called an ambulace. “I’m fine, I don’t need an ambulance,” I said, taking off my jacket. I then saw my arm. Which, while the skin wasn’t even broken, it did look awfully … strange. “Maybe we can call that ambulance after all,” I said.

Several weeks of casts, reconstructive surgery, recovery, and bad sleeps later, I was wandering around with my flatmate Ceara in Brixton Market and saw an ad for a part-time shop assistant in the plant shop window. It was exactly what I needed, really: a low intensity job run by nice, sane human beings willing to hire a man who had little-to-no experience with plants and whose arm didn’t really work yet. So now I spend my workdays potting cacti in terrariums and talking up the virtues of sansevaria. My arm is fine, mostly. I had some titanium plates installed on my bones and a lot of great physiotherapy. My room is full of plants.

3. Because I only work part-time, and I have had this crazy idea at the back of my head for a long time, I started working on a book. It’s a novel. It’s set in Istanbul and explores the lives of several characters from wildly different social places — a Syrian refugee boy living on the streets, a trans kid from Anatolia who runs away from home, a rich housewife, a Kurdish handyman squatting in an abandoned home, an American teacher with an archaeology habit, a working-class fisherman — and how they accidentally unconver a conspiracy involving murder, gold smuggling, and political corruption. It is really ambitious as projects for me go, and I desperately want it to be good, and I am desperately scared it will not be. I have written a first draft which I of course hate and I start working on the second draft tomorrow, and I suspect I will hate that too, but slightly less than I hate draft one. This is what writing a book is like, unfortunately. You work for a very long time to make something you hate. You hate it because you have a vision of what you want it to be, you compare it, and it’s so obviously not that. But an author’s first readers are super helpful because instead of seeing the vision, they see the actual writing — they have nothing to compare it to, no vision to taunt them — and a first draft is always going to be better than the nothing of a no draft.

Those are the basics of the things I literally spend my time doing. I’ll write more about daily life stuff in the future, because, as I indicated in my very rash promise yesteryday, I have thirty days of time to fill, and daily life stuff is great for killing time. I promise dreams will feature less, unless they are as good as the one listed above.

(My favorite dream I ever had was in college. There was a bunch of animals all gamboling around in a perfect continent of perfect fields, and then they all went up in a big crowd to watch a rocketship land. The rocketship was like Air Force One — some politician was expected to come out, and a little staircase and podium was wheeled up to the door of the rocketship. All the animals held their breath and watched. A guy in a dark suit with a bright red shirt and a huge afro came out. “I’m Ron,” he shouted, and waved his hand. “Goddammit I’m Roooooooooon!” The crowd went nuts. It was: a metaphor. I hope.)


  1. kelly Belly said:

    i love houseplants, and dogs and children too. I can’t wait to read that book! XO

  2. Alex Guyton said:

    Baaaaaaaark sounds dope.

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