gall and gumption

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Every Part of the Buffalo

Oh don't get carried away applauding. I still don't have a job but at least I got out of the house and took a long editing test. The fact that I "edit" for a living does make the typos here even more of an embarrassment, I won't deny it when you look me straight in the face like that. The editing tests required two trips to Virginia, a long commute each way. But I think I did OK on teh [just kidding! just kidding!] tests and it was actually pretty there, right on the river and it was spring.

On another fine spring day this week I ran around on some errands with my cousin. We haven't spent a lot of time together, but we are definitely family and we find each other hilarious, so it's quality time. The result is that I've had more laughs than I've had for a few weeks.

My mother, still thinking of the particularly rough week I had last week and my generally demoralized state (cabin fever, broke, the whole guilt/rage thing that happens when you live with a parent etc.) sent me this note:

The next time you are afflicted with thoughts of low
self esteem or self worth or whatever the term is, try
this: Recall all the good things you have done for
others, dogs, cats, earthworms, people, not fighting
with your pa despite extreme provocation and so forth.
Work backwards from the moment. Remember this.

I started watching a natural world tv programme last
week but turned it off after about 10 minutes. If you
thought life as an emperor penguin was bad, how about
this there are about 3 million bats living in a cave
in Borneo or somewhere, and the guano is about 100
metres high. In this mountain of bat shit, live about
30 million cockroaches, who dine on it. Sorry...

Yeah good deeds yadda yadda whatever then I notice that I'm trying to picture in my mind what all that bat guano looks like. I'm supposed to remember my good deeds to earthworms (which consist of mostly trying not to step on them but that's more for my sake than theirs). But I keep thinking about my mother encountering this information about bat guano and cockroaches. And then I remember this story she told me about when she was in high school. She doesn't talk about the past much because she is more of an In the Now kind of person. Anyway when she was in high school -- a girls' school in Kingston, Jamaica, her class was reading the Canterbury Tales. The Miller's Tale was included but in a very bowdlerized edition. "Well, of course Patsy and I were dying to know what had been cut out." So they, being clever and resourceful, went to the library and got hold of an uncensored copy of the Miller's Tale and read "...and it was this thing about one fellow farting in the other man's face and we were shocked! 'What? Oh! Disgusting!'"

But when I got home from these excursions the dogs were a bit desperate. No, on Thursday they were beyond desperate. Now, I was not gone for more than six hours and had taken them on a long walk before. But nevertheless there were seven patches of poop and a big puddle of pee to be cleaned up. Sweetie had diarrhea so her propensity to go under my father's desk is a bit problematic -- the stuff ends up all over the computer cables.

So after my long day and taking them out, before I could do anything else I had to clean all this up. It was a huge mess, especially under the desk and all over the cables, and she narrowly missed a little shelf of books sitting on the floor. (She also chewed a corner of my copy of The Golden Notebook -- an excellent literary choice, Sweetie.)

Last night I was spared. I took them out for their favorite local walk along the Lake of Fug and the Squirrely Woods. And wrote to my mother reporting on encouraging developments. And of course the seven piles of dog crap. Because if I don't whine I'm not sure she'll know it's me. Now, I'm not sure my mother ever gets demoralized, or is ever afflicted with self-doubt. Like if we're driving somewhere and we get lost it's my fault. But that's OK because I have enough for both of us.

She replied that I will be rewarded for my services to dogs. And concluded with:

Remember you've done a lot of good things, and be glad
you do not live in a cave in Borneo.

This reminds me of how you always hear (and I don't doubt it) that Native Americans had a use for every part of the buffalo. My mother practices more and more a similar wise economy with the weirder materials of experience. She probably hit the remote right after the words "30 million cockroaches." But she carried away the moral, and look, it turned out to be useful.


At 12:16 AM, Anonymous caroline said...

You and your mother are both so weird and amazing and brilliant, it's almost impossible that the world can keep on spinning with you two and your big ass brains on it.

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