9

Montag bis Freitag (Monday through Friday)

Jeden Morgen fahre ich zum Arbeiten.

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Home, home of the rabbits, where the deer, not the antelope … sometimes visit.

Jeden Morgen suche ich für Kaninchen. Nichts. Sie mussten sich verstecken.Gestern Mittag, beim Gehen vom Mittagessen zurück, habe ich 6 Kaninchen gesehen, die mit faulen Gnade streckten.

Die Prüfungswoche war vorbei. Die Kaninchen waren müde.

Sie studiert hatten. Sie wurden nicht versteckt! Das Leben ist gut!

If Google knew German like I knew German (i.e. inadequately), you’d quickly know what I meant. However, Google does not translate Daviddeutsch (yes, Renate, I tried). So, here’s what  I meant to say:

Every morning, I drive to work.

Every morning, I look for rabbits. I don’t see them. They must be hiding.

Yesterday at noon, while returning from lunch, I saw 6 rabbits stretched out with lazy grace.

Exam week was over! The rabbits were tired.

They’d been studying. They weren’t hiding. Life is good after all!

8

It’s Me, Part II

Imagine a perfectly planned weekend where each activity builds on the last, leaving you with a satisfying sense of completion. Now, what happens when the plans go astray? Disaster? Not this time. It was, for me, a pretty darn awesome weekend!

I had planned to goof off, ride my bike, buy new hiking boots, go to see music with a friend, and then rest quickly before an equally full Sunday. I had lots to do, all of it for good reasons. I had set up my accountability buddy (it’s Mel!) to keep me on task. I had everything planned.

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My new official portrait, courtesty of Lil’ Rokstar. It’s either anime me or me as a junior high girl.

Yes, I goofed off. I’m good at that. But the weather and laundry ruined the bike ride. Then, my friend, let’s call him A, was too sick to go out. Finally, just as I was about to go get the boots, A’s wife — umm, K — invited me to go to a magic show of  a mutual friend … err … E. The alphabet soup continues with E’s boyfriend, G (that’s what he wants to be called!), new friend M, K, and I (that’s me) hanging out afterwards. For my effort in driving — go halfway to work, stop and have fun — I was rewarded with a free beer and my official portrait.

OK, the portrait is something, for sure. I like it quite a bit. Yeah, I look a little girly, but my last haircut left me looking a little girly, too. This girly guy, though, is actually decidedly tall and not good at moving or acting girly. I can curtsy pretty well, but that’s about it.

The big deal, the thing I’m really proud of, is that I am part of a network of friends! For the first time in my life, I feel like I’m part of the group and not just an acceptable outsider. Yeah, I’m less close to some and I don’t even know everyone in the network, but I belong. I belong right there. That feels good.

Take that, world, I’m doing just fine.

 

5

Body Sounds

My stomach spoke one night and it knows two words: cold and culpable. Cold, I understand. It’s simple and basic – something that helps or hinders life. Stomachs should know that word. Culpable? I can only imagine that I’ve been watching too many Law and Order reruns. How did it form these words? Was it using duodenal voice? Was it just the sound of whatever vile (bile?) thing turned the corner from small to large intestine?

I hear things sometimes. I don’t think it’s hallucination. I just interpolate sounds into places where they’re missing. With the sound off, I still hear sounds when people fall to the ground or hit each other. It’s the same sound, in fact, as when I’m over-caffeinated/under-slept and I blink. Am I making this up? Maybe. Still, when I watch a subtitled movie, I remember the real actor’s voices speaking the English language lines.

When I’ve been off the bike for a while, I have a double rhythm with each step. One sound comes from each footfall. The other, the click track, comes with each bend of my right knee. It’s not quite polyrhythmic, but, with a little creative shuffling, it does sound like a minimalist Cuban drum set.

When I do ride or, particularly when I’ve ridden a lot in dusty places, I hear birds, always coming from just to the right side. Really, it’s the chain after dust removes or dries the chain lube. But, until logic kicks in, I’ve decide it is a small group of birds. Really.

I worry that, at night, I make sounds like a strangled goose. If I could sit awake right next to my sleeping self, I’d know. Actually, if I rode my bike more often, that strangled goose might breathe more easier through a less fat-clogged throat. So, yes I’m responsible for the hypothetical goose. I’m culpable for any goose damage. Is that what my stomach was saying?

18

It’s Me!

I know what I look like. I look like me, but what I see and who I am don’t always match. Maybe that’s for the better, since a face full of my thoughts might look like almost anything:

  1. A snot explosion after a silly string fight.
  2. One inexplicably red leaf holding a coffee cup, filled with green M&M’s.
  3. An apple … just an apple … in a purse*.
  4. A half-scrunched, half-curious, half confused face. Why confused? It has three halves.
  5. Words urgently trying to form 10 thoughts at once.

20140528-144919-53359686.jpgActually, I look like this, in the best picture I’ve ever seen of myself. My hair is longer than it’s ever been and it feels right. While I was gone from work/life/everything, I just let it grow. Just before I was ready to cut it off, a woman at the grocery store commented on how well cared-for my unruly mane seemed. So, long it is. The smile, too, is something I’ve never really believed I could do. Sure, I can smile, but never have I felt so good AND smiled that all out.

I’ve been forced to learn some new lessons with this long hair, lessons 90% of the y-chromosomed ones never learn (that’s all you males) :

  1. Wind at your back means blindness in front.
  2. Food mixed with hair in your mouth isn’t nearly as refreshing.
  3. Aerobic exercise gets scary when, suddenly, hair enters your mouth. It’s worse, if there’s still food on it.
  4. It takes almost two years for your hair to dry, even in a dry climate.
  5. Hair products to remedy items 1-3 are expensive, smelly, and confusing. Also, they taste bad.
  6. Bathroom drains clog at least once a month, even if you shed only two hairs a day.
  7. Haircuts cost more for longer hair. It takes the same time so … I don’t get it.
  8. It’s fun to watch your shadow’s hair bounce … unless you’re blind from or gagging on your hair.

So, that’s me and I’m doing very much better, thank you. How’re you?

 

*OK, really, that’s my sister, at 4 years old, describing her dream.

2

Bite the Fence

In my life, I’ve had animal advisers. If I’d followed their advice, my life would be simpler, stranger, and maybe, just maybe, more compelling. But, whatever I do, I’m not biting the fence.

Cat: eat, sleep, and avoid squirt bottles, even the pantomime versions.

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A work bunny … working, of course.

Cows: do whatever, do it slowly, and feel relief anywhere and everywhere.

Masturbating goat: As an adolescent, I wasn’t ready for his message. I’m still not. Using a fence post? Really?

Rabbits: go to work, eat grass, get fat.

Coyotes: Use the tree and find the rabbits.

Llamas (alpacas?): sniff carefully, grow your hair out, and bite the fence.

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Actual marmot hand attempting to feed a weed to a skeptical llama/alpaca

6

A Conspiracy

The world will conspire against you. Don’t get me wrong. This conspiracy is neither good nor evil, just collections of events that hit you harder together than they ever could on their own. The driver who cuts you off in traffic isn’t evil, usually, just incompetent or careless and you get the “benefit” of their behavior. Whether the world cares about you or not, the world will, at times, give you a package deal that feels like a conspiracy, but, as often as not, it’s a conspiracy of good, not evil. If you’re me — thankfully, you’re not — you’ll notice the bad more than the good. Yesterday, I saw the good.

Last night, a friend invited me to a show where his band were performing. I showed up early and another friend gave me a single card promoting her own show later in the month. On the front, was a card with all the showtime info. On the back was an ordinary playing card which she used to give a kind of reading about what it means, coincidentally exactly the kind of thing that defines my life: a kind of treasure inside me that I’ve protected or held too closely and is now escaping. To use a different metaphor, I’ve been a caterpillar for much of my life and, for no other reason than instinct, I recently made my cocoon. Soon, my treasure, my butterfly me, will emerge. That simple card felt like validation. I know … it’s probably no more real than astrology, but it felt real and, honestly, that’s what matters.

This show had a variety of performers including one woman I’d never met who recognized me from the one time 8 months ago when I’d spent a few hours at an outdoor art fair. That’s not really the point, but it got my attention. She told a story of a trip she’d taken to Spain after her life fell apart in a way almost exactly like mine had. She hiked several hundred miles, along with myriads of other people, passing by, at one point, a plain cross on top of a hill where hikers are to leave a stone from home and all their cares at the base. For her, it marked a turning point where long-unknown peace came over her. I’m not in Spain, nor will I take that kind of trip … unless it’s cycling in the Chilean Andes … OK, not even that. I am on a metaphorically similar journey and what I’m missing is that stone-leaving moment. At least I thought I was.

The day before yesterday, I’d actually had my turning point where, my employer deposited a paycheck of exactly $0.00 when I’d expected something with a few more digits. Seeing that $0.00 scared me, reminding me of a really bad thing from the past, but I immediately called, worked through a chain of people and solved it, no more than 20 minutes after the flawed paycheck was posted. Before, I would have hidden fearfully, thinking and over-thinking all the disasters, real and imaginary, that were about to happen. This time, I just fixed it and then, once fixed, just broke down for 20-30 minutes. You see, I didn’t break until after instantly facing and fixing this really big bad thing. That’s my moment. That’s where I’m sure of my turnaround.

Sure, I’d seen other signs, such as a friend whose been a priceless treasure during this awful period said that I, the king of pathetic, had just taught her how to be a good friend. She’s right. I know it. I’m not sure exactly why/how, but I believe it. What I do know is that, just by being me, even a wounded-but-recovering version of me, my best still showed through without me having to spend any effort. That feels miraculous, but, really, it is just the basic ordinary truth. I believe in myself, a little bit, and I have proof that I deserve it.

On the drive home I stopped at the grocery store, because it was there and that was as good an excuse as I needed to stock up on my various food addictions (not “addictions” just “frequent companions”). While strolling past the ice cream, an attractive woman I’d never seen before, complimented me on my hair. Did she just say, “Nice hair”? She did not. She said that, unlike many men with long hair, I obviously took care of it and tried to make it look good. It’s not true (I just use shampoo once a day, a brush once a day, and my hands every two-three minutes), but it made me smile … and smile … and smile some more.20140301-223044.jpg

A week ago, I was a frozen rose, hints of a beautiful past, struck down by sub-zero weather. But now, spring is coming …

0

Unthinkable

I’m ready. Ready for things to be back to the way they never were. For things to have been as they couldn’t have been unless they were different. Of course if I undid that which never happened, I’d surely miss it’s absence. But I’m ready.

21

5 Signs a Coyote is Near on a Snowy Day

When walking across prairies or through woods you may wish to know whether a coyote is walking with you. You may wish to know many more things, but, surely this is one of them. In fact, research shows that 22% of all top 1000 things-to-know lists include nearby coyote spotting.* Fact. Without further ado adieu babbling, here are the 5 signs of a coyote walking with you:

Coyote from Yosemite National Park, California (from Wikipedia, photo taken by Yathin S Krishnappa)

  1. when the old tracks go to the culvert and the new ones go from the culvert and end up right near that dense tree, over there;
  2. when dogs, from a modest distance look towards you, but off to the side a bit, at the dense tree, over there;
  3. when geese, planted on the snow, also look not at you but to one side … dense tree, etc.;
  4. when, at your sudden noise, a yipping cough dislodges snow and reveals a coyote snout, likely owned by a coyote;
  5. when the Acme delivery truck stops right by the dense tree, over there.

If one or more of these items are true for you, your happy walk through the snow, may not be as solitary as you thought.

Unreplicated anecdotal research confirmed each of the above findings … well 4 out of 5 of them. Obviously, you can trust these results. You’re welcome.

* as shown in Head, Marmot I. (2011) “Useless Facts in List Form.” Journal of Fictional Findings and Bogus Results, vol 6 (3): 2-8.

9

Walking Through the Untracked Snow

When life puts a layer of the fluffiest powder ever on top of an equally large layer of near slush, trails of all kinds disappear. Some will re-emerge from hibernation coated in a layer of fresh mud. Others, mostly those near my home, leave for a day or two and come back refreshed. However, I can’t wait for those two days to pass.

The Perfect Powder Day, Outside My Window

Walking on a trail covered in fresh untracked snow is an adventure, not unlike climbing Mount Everest although much more like walking through the mall. Just like the mall, the trip requires careful planning. In dry times, is it spiked with dog poop? Better avoid that section. Is that a ditch or just a low spot in the snow? Caution!

Of course, when you “know” where the trail goes, you can be certain to not stumble upon a barbed wire fence … at least not more than once (writes a wincing man). At places, it’s an exercise in memory. Is it one tree on the left, none to the right? Is this where it’s washed out? When in doubt, don’t trust your feet or, more specifically, don’t trust my feet. My feet will find every unevenness sinking deeper or shallower than expected, resulting in an awkward lumbering gait. This, I suspect, has something to do with local sightings of Big Foot (“He’s 6 foot 4, wearing a brownish coat … “).

As much as I don’t want to trust my feet, I do, but I trust my knees, ankles, and arms even more to compensate for my feckless feet. When everything goes well, I can look off to the horizon, hopefully towards the mountains, and blindly compensate for each hidden obstacle. Really, it’s a perfect powder day, but not one with skis attached. Like those deep powder days, the underlying surface is unknown and you, the skier/walker just has to move forward, ready for anything, but not obsessed over any one thing. There’s a lesson in that I suppose … take the sidewalk.