Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Someone HANDED me the bulhorn!

I had just concluded that perhaps my place in this world was a very small place.  A very small and insignificant yet cozy place, much smaller than I've ever envisioned or even currently occupy.  Perhaps my place in this world is just my bed.

Two months ago, I felt that my life was on the cusp of making sense, or that I was at least on the cusp of making sense of it... of crafting a story around it, a setting, a bed of roses, to make it all smell nice.

And then I landed on last week.  Monday, I had a pap smear.  I actually signed myself up for it.  It'd only been 7 years, but I was already excited for another!  And it was just a fabulous as I remember it being.  I'd go in to detail, but it's already been done.    

Tuesday:  This was our second week at a weak farmer's market near our house.  Blue's hope was to sell bouquets.  We planted flowers.  We weeded.  We watered.  And then we picked and packed them up. And nobody came.  This week, our friend who has the tent and the signs didn't even show up.  So we sat, the kids and I, in the hot hot sun, in the barren parking lot, all by ourselves without even a sign to tell you what we were doing.  The flowers were wilting.  Coyote's robot was melting.  HE was melting.  One lady drives in, buys two patty pans for $.50 each (that's ONE WHOLE DOLLAR, for those of you too lazy to calculate).  She then fingers a giant bouquet of at least 10 sunflowers and asks how much.  $5.  But that was just too much for her.  I understand.  It must be hard to feed the Escalade.  And she doesn't owe us.  But the way she asked and her sniff when I said the reasonable price... it brought back all those years at the Seattle Farmer's Markets: the burnout of too many haughty, stupid questions from the same idiots every week. ("What's in the bread?"  Same Effing Thing As The Last Three Years and yet you ask EVERY DAMN week)  What about selling something makes some people think they are better than you?  And that's the thing with burnout, it comes back so Fast! We waited longer. We sweat in our chairs.  And then we packed it in.

I FELT, "Good grief, why does nothing I do ever work out?  Everything I touch wilts.  Everything I try fails.  There's really no place for me in this whole godforesaken world, is there? I have no talents, no abilities.  I am probably just 68" of wasted resources."

But I know all about building resilience in kids, so I SAID, "Well, what a useful learning experience!  We learned so much!  What did we learn?"  "That the Eagle Ridge Farmer's Market SUCKS and that we're never coming back!"  Blue says.  "Exactly! And we also learned that you always bring your own tent!  And that flowers need ICE.  And that some people are just too terrible to sell anything to!"  And then I locked my door and flopped on my bed for a while. And then got up and went to a meeting.

(nota bene: this blogging has been interrupted about 100,765 times by urgent, violent children who are burnt out on summer vacation.  Where's alien abduction when you need it?)

On Wednesday, I thought that I should probably be kicked while I'm down so I tried some thing else new.  I went to a writers group.  And it was just like every other writers group.  It was a bunch of people I could relate to if I reallyreallyreally tried very hard.  All the usual suspects were there.  The non-strategic thinker, obsessing over possible translation glitches for a book he hasn't even written yet, much less published, much less sold a copy of... etc. etc.  There was the girl complaining that people think she's whiny and unlikable... which she was... and no one disputed, but someone did say that lots of great writers were whiny and unlikable.  There was the girl wondering more about personal problems than writing.  At least two lecherous men, one of which was a classic blow hard who made a point to speak patronizingly to everyone.  An ancient, confused old lady from New York.  An MFA student with red hair and white eyebrows who knew A LOT about the necessity of sending everything to the Library of Congress to get a copyright stamp... cuz our stuff here is so HOT that people can't keep their plagiarizing mitts off it.  Early on, this voice in my head, the clearest one I've got, said "LEAVE. NOW"  But this other voice, sounds kinda like my mom, said, "Now now.  Don't judge a book, or a shelf full of them, by its cover!  You never know what you might learn!"  And so I stayed and sank even further into my trough of despair.  And then I went home and locked my door and flopped on my bed.  My home.  My place.  My only place in this world.

And Thursday.  Because I can't help myself (oh why oh why ever NOT?!) I tried something new.  I went to a march today about the general state of the economy and the taxes certain multinational corporations aren't paying.  This being Spokane, I girded myself for the worst: a measly turnout with a defeated attitude.  The kids and I made a sign, "Those who benefit the most from a healthy, safe and educated workforce should help pay for it." And the almost amusing, almost sensical: "Tax cuts 4 multinational corporations don't work.  People do." Seems hard to imagine how I could have used bigger words to convey that, huh? And off we went.  What I found were a lot of people I know.  The organizer, who I didn't know,  handed me the bullhorn and said, "I can't lead the chants and do all this at the same time.  Find someone who wants to use this thing." So I turned on the mike and said, "Well, folks, looks like this bad-ass proclaimator is all mine!"  And off we went!  (video here, possible if I did it right this time!)  This would be the second time I sang an acappella solo in a week... me, who can't sing AT ALL (On Sunday I dressed up as Malvina Reynolds and gave a short speech to the congregation that involved solo-ing the first lines of several songs before I helped the kids make protest signs...Blue's said "less embarrassing parents" and I'm sure she wished she'd brought that sign along on Thursday!)

And then when we got to the U.S. Rep's office, they lent me a little soap box to stand on and give testimonial, as we all made a soup line along the street. I love me some good bullhorn, baby. And after I was done, someone asked me to speak at a feminist event this Friday.  And then me and my family went up to our Reps office and complained bitterly about these fat cats not buying the cow cuz they've been getting the milk for free... and she's a chicken to not stand up to it (did I get the whole farm in there?  I'm kidding.  I used more sophisticated language.)  Our Rep is confused and imagines that the Tea Baggers are the only ones who vote or have voices... so we just needed to remind her that other people in this world disagree and we have good reasons too.

We tried something new (protest, new?  Sarajoy "Von Protest" - as I was dubbed in high school, where have you been all your life? HELLLLOOO!) ... new for our life in Spokane. And I came home and flopped on my bed and felt good for a few minutes before I got up and went back to work in the kitchen where I've been canning and cleaning for the last several days (except for the one I spent at the pool and the one I spent couponing).  It looks like that's actually my place here, in this world  Now... what will I say to the feminists?

P.S.: the camera is as broke as I am, so no photos until October, when my birthday provides the perfect opportunity to beg.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Better to have loved and lost and all that

Ugh... it's getting time to choose between my two cows.

Contender #1:  Hendrika: matriarch and total bitch. Her moo actually has a whiney edge to it.  I've gotten milk from her these last few days but she's kicking and screaming the whole way and even made contact with my recently tetnus'd up arm.  She won't let down and I have to yank on her to get anything.  She inhales the grain and I've got only 5 minutes to get the job done.  And she kicks - did I mention that?  She's the one I bought off range-land lo these two years ago.  She'd had no contact with humans and was basically as wild as a wolf.  I was like Romulus and Remus - only imagine if the wolf is completely without compassion and doesn't want to give them milk. And she's still crazy.  Last year at this time, she was calmer and was giving over a gallon a morning on our milk-share program in which the calf gets milk 1/2 the day and I get the other half.  But now she's such a withholding expert that I'm getting barely over a quart.  Hardly worth the stream of cusswords and rage I feel at 5 am. What a way to start the day, eh?! I feel like I'm the one getting milked for grain.  I am so embittered at her 4 am bellowing me out of bed (world's most irksome alarm clock) and then kicking at my arms while I try to force a few ounces from her that I've started snapping the wet rags at her ass- ala boys' highschool locker room (the movie interpretations).  She's a mutt and a bitch and can't be appreciated --- except by me, who admires her refusals to go along to get along, her questioning of authority, her rebellious nature,  her basic anti-cow, anti-docility.  And she's already been bred with miniature Jersey again.

Contender #2: Sukey: Hendrika's inexplicably mellow first born, now a mother herself.  Sukey daintily nibbles at her grain.  She pleasantly releases her milk.  And never kicks.  She's has the sweetest personality of any cow ANY BEING I've ever met.  She is the perfect cow.  Except she only gives a quart, but give it she does!  Happily and freely.  And she's beautiful - not that I'm shallow, it's just something you notice.  She's got those dainty pink toes and that alabaster face and auburn hair and shapely calves (har har).  She's so sweet, you can almost here her humming as she picks her way through the hay. I'm afraid if I sell her, her new owners wouldn't be capable of appreciating such a fine animal.

But I'm also worried I'll get resentful because the process of milking takes the same whether you get 1 quart or 1 ton from a cow.  You've got time overhead costs: you scrub the teets with hot, soapy water; you milk; you feed the cows; you clean the barn; you strain the milk; you boil the rags; you sterilize the bucket.  You may milk for 5 minutes or 15. 45 minutes of work for 1 quart?  How's that going to feel in February?  Will I get to make cheese?  She'll produce more over the next couple years and hasn't even reached her peak for this cycle.  We may get up to two quarts.  But when it's time to let her go, won't I just love her more?

But then, how will my arms look in February if Hendrika stays?

Whoever I keep will be my cow for the next two years and then Chocolatey Claire will ascend the stanchion-throne.  So two more years of wrestling and wrangling or two years of low-drama low-volume.

Why can't I keep both?  Because that is insane.  I don't need both.  I don't have room for both.  I don't have money to feed two full grown cows all winter.  And I need to sell one in order to buy the hay for the other.  

So, let's vote, please.  Not binding, of course. Just a poll.  To your right there.  Who would you choose?  It's like The Good Son.  It's like those morality-in-a-life-raft brain squeezers. It's Sophie's Choice

Monday, August 8, 2011

I'm a big kid!

The extended gypsy fantasy included sleeping outside and lasted a week
The kids are gone for the week.  I actually do miss them because I'm actually enjoying summer vacation with them this year!  But ... have already found a few things with which to occupy myself.  For instance, in the 36 hours since they left I napped on the porch with a beer, skinny dipped, hiked, polished my yoyo skills, kicked Huck's hiney at cribbage (TWICE!), and not done one load of laundry nor washed a single dish (it's getting a little obvious now too).  I've slept, eaten, dressed and frolicked without fielding a single complaint!  I've witnessed Huck read Neruda to 200 people.  And I watched a hummingbird attempt to solicit nectar from every single one of my clothespins.  I am trying my hardest to enjoy the absence of 130 collective pounds of responsibility. Meaning has been easily replaced with entertainment and simplicity.  Oh... the trade-offs.

I've also watched two movies, Something something vs. the World (it was great) and the another of my fabulous movie-for-myself flicks... something Huck wasn't interested in and the kids couldn't watch.  I've had two in recent months and Gollleeee! do I pick some winners!  I've indulged myself in two gruesome lesbian/murder flicks: Boys Don't Cry and Monster.  Both true stories which makes them in some ways worse... and in other ways if someone had made them up, I would be suggesting lock down. Both movies are such well done horrors that instead of letting myself flow along with the well-spun magic, I take firm hold of my emotions and don't let go.  It seems that if I really allowed myself to fully move in to these stories, I would go insane.  I would be plummeted into an existential crisis the like of which I have not seen since high school.  I would become, permanently, uselessly, a total wreck.  AND an committed atheist but definitely NOT a humanist.  I would be left with nothing, hope-wise.  These redemption-less stories sure do wreck what's supposed to be a self-indulgence.  And yet I prefer them to things like Chocolat -- no matter how many Johnny Depp scenes they flung at that thing, it was never going to be better than awful and it did plunge me into a cravass of futility-of-existance and a desire to hurl rotten tomatoes at the creators -- or whatever you call such wasters of resources.

Also, with the kids gone, I've got the Calvin and Hobbes books all to myself.  C&H were hilarious as a child.  And now, as a parent, they are even (if it's possible) funnier. When I was young, I couldn't pick a favorite between Far Side and C&H.  Reviewing them now, C&H stands.  The Far Side was revolutionary and broke open the funny pages and has been mimiographed so completely that even my kids noted the similarities to Bizarro, Off the Mark, and others.  (NOTA BENE: we are funny page connoisseurs sometimes necessitating purchase of several dailies in order to enjoy them all in their proper formats.  Other kids favs: Garfield and Peanuts).  Far Side is still hilarious, but the quirky humor element that so surprised us in the '80's is no longer so surprising and that dents the hilarity, but tips the hat to it's revolutionary success.  Calvin and Hobbes, on the other hand, remains induplicatable.  Philosophical, drawn to convey the Platonic-ideal of each expression, bridging the gaps between generations, it will never be surpassed.

The longer I am a parent, the less, it seems, that I remember being a child.  And this is by some necessity.  It will not do to understand the children more than I understand my own position and task.  Yet Calvin and Hobbes manages to connect me to both, simultaneously. And Blue says, "I like how sometimes Calvin is just imagining a monster and other times there really is one, but his parents just don't understand." I remember thinking that as a child too. 

wheat field across the street
I may not be an atheist yet, nor a committed theist, but I am a CalvinandHobbseist.  I believe in the resurrection of monster snowmen.  I believe in the attack of the stuffed tiger.  I believe in Spaceman Spiff.  And if there be a heaven, it will include Calvin and Hobbes, both, forever and ever, Amen.


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