(or, A Feminist Analysis of Patriarchal Themes in Animal Collective's "Fireworks")

I awaken so slowly that my dream transitions seamlessly into reality. You. I was dreaming of just you, lying next to me in bed. The last image I see asleep is the first one I see awake.

I stand up and stretch, walk downstairs ready for some breakfast. Now it's daytime; the light pours in through the bay window and casts long shadows across the dining room furniture. I walk into the kitchen, my bare feet gently patting the ground as I look for sustenance. I smile when I spot the cereal box tipped over, and drenched in sunlight from a window. Now our cereal is warm, but I pour two bowls anyway and take them upstairs. But I don't go into our room for a long time. I stand at the doorway, and watch you sleep, and watch you sleep.

Today is not an Attractive Day. Today, today is an Ugly Day.

I wake up in the drunken rubble of the night before. My lamp and shelf are knocked over, there are wine stains on the floor, and I feel like a train wreck.

My problem is that I arrive at work and I am immediately coddled. No one scolds me for being an idiot, or a whore. They just wash me, pep me up, pour espressos down my throat, and a "diet pill," and a line of magic candy, and oh, God, this is not real life? It can't be. I am insulated in this world of vapidity, and oh, fuck, there's no air. I can't work in a vacuum. I feel UGLY.

"Feel my pores," I tell Stacy, "They feel... huge."

Stacy spends some twenty minutes talking me down before I actually breathe, and inhale, exhale, I'm okay. But if everything else didn't already suck, I start to remember my one defining flaw: my height. I am abnormally short for a model. 5'8". That is unacceptable, and yet, I succeeded. Through unfavorable means, perhaps, but it was success nonetheless. But it's beginning to catch up with me. It's these 6'4" trees of today that I do battle with for the spotlight. And now this is stressing me out, and my pores feel planet-sized again, and I start to feel tragic, but all I have is agents and fashionistas and touch-up artists and people I don't know, greeting me, comforting me vaguely before instructing me like a dog, and I'm trying to be polite, but I just close my eyes, zone out, and the day passes right by me. I am out, I am done for the day, it's behind me, and I look up and thank God for illicit drugs.

I step inside my home to my two girls greeting me and I remember why I do this. Pauline wants to play Airplane, but I just want to feed them and spend time with them lying down. But what can I say? "Sorry, Polly, Mommy can't lift you up because her mind is tired, her body is tired, her soul is exhausted and about to expire?" No.

When their father was still here, we used to take family trips to the beach. We would lay there, hold hands, while the girls, so young then, played next to us in the sand, a time when smiles were still genuine on my face. Now, that's really all I desire. Now, they're really all I desire.

"The aliens are after us, you know. They're here. He's an alien. So is she. So are they. But that lady isn't. She's too ugly."

I'm eating lunch with Jeremiah. Cocaine makes him a little crazy, but in spite of it all, he is my brother, and I like humoring him, anyway, so I always stay and listen.

"Yeah, Jeremiah? What else?"

"Well," he says, and he leans in close to whisper, "a genie made me out of the Earth's skin. But it made me promise not to tell. So don't tell. Okay?"

"Okay," I say, and kiss him on the cheek.

"What's the day?"


"No, date."

"Oh. The 21st."

"Okay, thanks."

A beat.

"What're you doing?"

"Nothing," he snaps.

We sit in silence for a few minutes before I hear him sigh. He looks up, and grabs my hand.

"I'm sorry. I'm sorry, it's just this project for work has me crazy stressed and I don't really know how I'm going to finish it in time, and it's got me on edge. So I'm sorry if I seem off."

He smiles, and tilts his head downward adorably. He knows I can't stay mad for long. I rub his hand and tell him it'll be okay. Peace is re-established.

"How's your food?" he asks.

"Good," I respond.

Silence for about ten minutes. Then, somehow along the train of thought in my head, as there's nothing to do but think when faced with quiet eating, I found a certain song stuck in my head, but I couldn't remember the chorus completely.

"How's that song go, Ed? 'You can't always get what you want, but...'"

Ed sighs.

"'If you try sometimes, you get what you need.'"


"Yeah," and this time, I think he means it.