by j-a

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June 2005

Madness in the Method

excessive caution can't stop the change.
Pernilla August, Anakin Skywalker's mother
Star Wars - Episode II: Attack of the Clones
I watch people like I watch television: they entertain me, and sometimes they worry me and cause me anxiety with their dramatic antics; but I'm almost as unlikely to interact with them as I am to interact with people on tv. Excessive caution predominates.

New neighbors move in next door.
More people to get to know enough to avoid.
I hate change, but...

They're viciously bickering in the driveway even before they've moved in. It makes me wonder why people who obviously hate each other so much would want to live together. But I already know the answer: it's only half the story. First one then the other gets into and out of the car, threatening to drive away, with the other chasing after him/her to try to prevent the departure.

Later, I find two coats in the side yard, obviously tossed there by one or the other of them in a fit of vindictive rage. They're soaking wet from the rain. I hang them on the fence post by their hoods and head off into the gardens, thinking that maybe I should have kept them (though I have no use for them, they're not my style, insulated nylon hoodies) or thrown them out, destroyed them.

I'd have to have a lot of nerve to do that, though; but how much nerve does it take to toss refuse into someone else's yard? I mean, being pissed enough at your SO to throw his/her clothes away is one thing; but to throw them into someone else's yard? At the very best, it's rude. I'd hoped to impress them with my neighborly example by politely returning them, but as I'm working in the gardens, I think that their crude arrogance doesn't deserve a good neighbor. I'm wrong, of course; but it's the way I feel. When I return to the front of the house, I see that the coats are gone.

It's going to be an interesting summer.

The Gardens of Eden

Days like this, I don't know what to do with myself
All day -- and all night
Fiona Apple, "Oblivion"
The bulk of the gardening is over--at least all of the heavy work. Only ordinary maintenance remains, which would be true in any case. The postmod world is not yet all concrete. (Of course, I don't live in the city, which is where postmodernism reigns supreme.)

Once an envisioned project plays itself out in a flurry of activity and I settle back into a more sensible life of ease, I don't know what to do with all of the free time except to worry that there is more work in the future to disrupt the idyllic bubble I've somehow managed to inflate temporarily into an extended spacetime dimension.

The quiet summer night is like a romantic southern novel in a dramatic pause between sub-plot episodes. Air conditioners of sleeping people unaware that the outside atmosphere has cooled to a comfortable degree inhale the muffled sounds of distant midnight traffic. All that's left in the vacuum is that enigmatic illusion of stopped time that an occasional punctuating motorcycle engine will deny.

It abides during the day too, but few, too occupied, stop to take note amid the heated air it hangs on above the macadam, stripped of most of its persistence by the ordinary attitude that the ability to see in daylight brings. This is where the gardens come into play: the mystery of night extended into day. Plant foliage absorbs and encodes it, but no one notices.

The leaves of my newly planted pepper plants have developed a niveous coating and are beginning to curl and die. Sunburn? The occurrence has occasioned the demised of my spirits, similar to the mosquito problem of a few weeks ago (which the goldfish, that are getting larger and fatter, solved effectively). I go to all this work to prepare the garden beds, and when I plant stuff into them, they threaten to die. But it's early; they may yet come back. I'm always too quick to become discouraged by setbacks. Persistence in the face of adversity is a virtue. I should take the natural world in better stride and worry more about the world of people; that's where the real problems lie.'s a hollow feeling...

Sometimes I have very little hope for the human race and think that the sooner we render ourselves extinct, the better. This morning, while making my morning rounds of the gardens, I find a cigarette butt in the strawberry patch. Last night, late, two a.m., the next-door neighbors had guests over, and they were out on the back porch, socializing. One of those dumb blonds that visit probably flicked a butt over into my yard. What kind of a person does that?

I call them 'dumb blonds', not out of the standard social prejudice against their kind, but because they smoke cigarettes. (As far as the standard dumb blond prejudice goes, I kind of appreciate that stereotype--even to the point of worshipping it.) If a person smokes, s/he is by definition dumb; and that's the answer, the kind of person who flicks butts. The latent disrespect that flicking butts (or anything) into someone else's yard indicates is either ignorance or arrogance. In one form or another, the example extends to the entire human race. Just one more item of proof that we are only animals.

So, if we must be animalistic, then let's choose an appropriate punishment for those people who flick their butts. (You see them everywhere, flicking them in parking lots, out the windows of cars, with complete disregard.) All caught flicking shall be tied to chairs, butts extinguished on the faces, inserted into mouths, and forced to swallow. Extinction may be a better consequence, because now that I've delineated the problem, it seems a little hollow.

child abuse

Several times over several days, through the walls of their closed-windowed house, while I'm outside gardening, I hear my new neighbors screaming at each other. Today, I see their little girl, about two or three years old, watching me from the side window. I smile at her. No reaction. I work a bit more and, as I'm passing by the window again, I give a small wave. No reaction. The window is open. I hear the father's voice from deep inside the house yell nastily, "I told you to get away from that window." A little bit later, as I'm passing by again, I see that the window has been closed.

Later, I'm inside, sitting at the computer, when I hear someone yell out, "Please don't do that, honey." I get up to investigate. My neighbor from across the street is sitting on another neighbor's porch. The little girl next door is sitting on her front step throwing stones at the cars on the street. My neighbor shouts again, "Honey, don't throw stones."

The little girl shouts out, "I can do what I want."

The mother comes to the door, yells, "Don't you yell at my daughter," scoops her up, and takes her inside.

Still, later, out working in the yard again, I again hear the muffled shouts from the house next door. But this time, I hear the little girl also. I can't make out what she's shouting, but her voice does not have the whining, defensive, or tantrum-like tone of a typical small child; instead, it's an accusatory, deriding little voice. She's learning her lessons well. I wonder if child services is interested in this kind of thing. There's child abuse, and then there's child abuse.

The summer is heating up and, when people begin to get overheated, they sweat out essential nutrients that are required for the maintenance of a steady and calm state of mind; but I think that far more than that might be going on here.

an unfettered mind

Another day of avoiding outdoor work. It's just too hot and humid. But that's an excuse. I've worked in this kind of weather before. But I have to be highly motivated; and right now, I'm not. Not during the day, that is; but evenings find me rushing around trying to get things done before it gets dark. It's a biorhythms thing, I think. I've been taking melatonin so that I sleep at night and remain awake during the day. But what difference does it make if, when I'm awake, my body wants to be asleep and causes me to mope around unproductively?

Anyway, this hot weather is for easing off and laying back.
And the winter is for retreating and hiding out and fantasizing.
It's during the spring and fall when all the work gets done.

Looking back, I can hardly believe I spent all that time working so hard digging all those garden beds and planting all those crops. That was a lot of work packed into a few short months, almost like I was working at a real job again.

Now, it's time to kick back, water the plants, and watch them grow. I'm in caretaker mode now. Life is good. And the summer heat, which always affects me by suggesting an alternative state of consciousness, is settling into the core of my existence like the cold does in winter, but in reverse, when life becomes a dangerous and paranoid reality.

I slip into this mode of existence where I will begin to let things slide toward chaos, where my well-constructed plans begin to unravel and I feel no need to control my environment, even past the point where the control I abandon is not neurotic, but practical. This is summer mode, though it occasionally recurs at other times; but at its height, it's as non-functional as winter mode, when I will obsess exhaustively about how I will (overly) control everything, in order to attenuate the anxiety and fear that rises in the stead of summer's sap.

Dream images reflect this state: fish, some of them huge and defying the logic of their small environments, unfed for months at a time, abandoned in aquariums to fend for themselves, or discovered wild in pools in the woods; untended and overgrown gardens with huge wild plants proliferating;

And while I'm on the subject (sort of): why is that scientists can't develop domesticated plants that are as hardy and prolific as weeds, which will grow in the harshest conditions and, even when they appear to have died, return to life with the next rain? You would think that, with all the advancements we've made, some bright biologist would have discovered by now how to breed food crops that grow as fast and hardily as weeds.

There's a certain kind of madness about weeds that my dreams of plants and fish reflect, a kind of alien life force that will not be denied. Or maybe it's not so alien after all. Maybe it's only alien to the conditioned mind that inhabits me, injected into me when I was a baby, as a displacement of the original life force that nature provided me. It's a fertile field, the unfettered mind.

Growing things is one of the primary ways I adapt myself to my physical environment. But the things I grow are not necessarily flora. Often I propagate a variety of ideas like plants that must be nurtured to survive; and just as often I leave them to their own (unconscious) devices; and occasionally they wilt and die.

And reverie, or fantasy, or, as an alternative, pointed dialectic, preoccupies me as I work as much as when I find myself idling around, intent upon doing nothing at all. Sometimes I awaken to myself and the reality in which I exist and marvel at the disconect between the world that I imagine and the reality of my physical existence.

passive resistance

Many people appreciate the down-to-earth, everyday qualities of President Bush--and I'm one of them. I actually like the guy, despite myself and despite his politics. And immediately after 9-11, (almost) everyone, myself included, supported efforts to hunt down and kill terrorists. I wanted to see them and everyone marginally associated with them dead. But even then, I knew I was wrong; I realized I was railing against a better, Christian, motive.

Now, I still feel that bellicose way sometimes, even as I criticize the Bushevic brown shirts for their Gestapo-like activities (projection). But here's the difference between them and me: I know I'm being an asshole when I feel this way; and I'm not in charge. I'd never vote for someone like myself. We don't need assholes holding public office; we need our better citizens running things. We need above-board people.

Now Bush, despite the press he gets, is an intelligent person. His political opponents like to classify him as an ignorant cowboy who doesn't read, who isn't even capable of reading; but he's not. (He's not a cowboy of any kind; that's just an act. And he's not an oilman, either. He's an elitist who puts on a good dog and pony show.) You have to give him credit for the intelligent way he and his hand-selected orchestrators have grabbed up all the power in Washington.

But good leadership requires far more than intelligence and political savvy. It requires a marked ability to deal with people, not in the heavy-handed and dismissive way that Bush and his cronies do, but diplomatically, in a way that allows people who interact with you to come away feeling better about themselves. Good leaders do not impose their wills on people and on nations; they insinuate themselves into the hearts and minds of people via kindness, tolerance, and compromise.

This administration wants to think that it's above all that. It decided early on that it will have its way, come what may and despite the cost. This is not the kind of government I want. This is not good government. Any intelligent asshole can run a government in this way, imposing its policies and dogma upon its citizenry and upon the world. Good government requires good diplomacy. And great government requires an implicit sense of honesty and forthright behavior. Politicians and bureaucrats who maintain clandestine methods as their modus operandi do not win the hearts and minds of the citizenry. At best, they propagandize people by appealing to their baser instincts and social prejudices. Sooner or later, it will backfire on them. [Okay. So sooner is out; when does later start?]

The assholes in charge now are hidden too far below deck; their lies and deceptions (and those of their "liberal" counterparts; let's not pretend they're any different) thwart the efforts of good and honest people who would form a better government. The world is overly populated with these underhanded kinds of people, and they too readily find their way into positions of power in national, regional, and local governments and in less formal social formats, even as they overrun the streets of the cities, corrupting the populace that readily gives in and cooperates with them. There are too few people who stand up to them; there are even too few who will passively resist.

I'm thinking about all of this as I'm standing in the side yard cutting a point onto a stick with a knife, preparing to stake a fledgling plum tree that is bending over from the weight of the recent rain, when I am returned to "reality" by my new neighbor exiting his house. He tosses a sideways glance at me and heads on quickly to his car without a word. I take a mental snapshot of myself from his point of view and I see me standing here poised in mid-knife stroke; and suddenly it occurs to me what whittling is all about.

I've always assumed that the stereotype whittler, the farmer or country bumpkin whiling away his hours surrounded by wood chips on a porch, was the epitome of a laid-back and benign individual. But the fact that we have that image in our minds begs the question: how did we acquire that image in the first place? Somewhere someone must have come across enough of these whittlers to have established the stereotype.

But maybe there are not hoards of old farmers out there whittling away. Maybe they only do it when they can be observed; after all, they have a lot of work to get done; and those old men who sit out in front of the general store passing the long hours of their retirement would have better things to do if they didn't feel they had a sharpened point to make.

Think about it: a stranger approaches an isolated farmhouse. His approach, by virtue of the flat expanse of planted fields, can be seen from a far distance. When he arrives, he finds a man, alone, whittling on his front porch. What's the story here? A lazy farmer wanting to do nothing but waste his time? Or a wary, passive-aggressive individual, having spotted from a distance the approach of a stranger, cagily staging a pseudo-idyllic scene?

I mean, who's going to try to take advantage of a man with a knife? Who's going to threaten even an old retiree with one in front of a store in a small village. No, whittling is not an idle way to pass long hours. It's a powerful statement being made by men who feel threatened by an encroaching postmodern "civilization": "Yeah, I can be homey and congenial. But stay a bit away from me. I got a knife."

It's a good symbol, in any case, for a decided, pointed focus.

taking better care

What am I doing with my life?
I've totally lost my writing focus.
My daily procedure is fraying at the edges.
And now I doubt the wisdom of my gardens vision.
(Or should that be the vision of my gardens wisdom?)
I'm becoming so confused. Life seems to have no point.
It's because I'm not writing everything out every single day.
It used to be my therapy. Life without therapy is simply life.

I love my life. I have always loved my life, though it's only been over the last ten years that I've learned to love my lifestyle also--because previously, although I've had a fondness for the life within me, the external circumstances of my life early on were not conducive to an appreciation of life, as I struggled to reconcile the unique individual that I am with the rubber stamp mentality that society seems to have always wanted me to adopt.

I've got to get back to posting to blogs and publishing.
I can't allow the love of my life to fall into disuse.

This morning, after only two hours of sleep late yesterday afternoon (4 to 6 p.m.), I took my brother's family, all five of them, to the airport. I drove their big, disgustingly affluent, nine-seat luxury van back home. (My nephew drove us there.) The van needs work [which will be done while they are away] and so was difficult to drive--loose steering so that you drift from side to side and fear you will slide out of the traffic lane, brakes that pulsate and make you think they're not going to stop you, and more blind spots than a teenage girl in a roomful of attractive older men.

So, just as I'm leaving the airport, heading back out onto the superhighway, with my brother's instructions echoing in my feeble brain as to what to do in case the plane crashes and no one survives [immediately go to the house and take all of his tools from the garage and anything else I want from the house and put them where no one will find them, because "her" (his wife's) relatives will soon arrive to strip the place bare], an 18-wheeler passes me and throws a stone and cracks the windshield. It's a small chip, so I'm debating whether to tell them about it or pretend I never saw it, that it must have happened while the van was sitting in the street in front of their house. But then I realize that I'm going to have to drive back out to pick them up--and I will have had to have noticed it then because it's right in the driver's line of sight. So, honesty turns out to be the best policy after all, when there is no other way around it.

I'd had to piss since the ride to the airport and my back has been hurting badly for three days, each making the arduous drive through the increasing morning traffic and the road construction that narrows down the lanes that much more physically stressful, and the sun is just coming up and I'm heading due east, sunglasses restricting my vision to the same degree that they cut the glare so that they become a break-even proposition; ditto the sun visor, which restricts my range of vision even more; so that when I finally get to my brother's house, I have to rush in quickly to have a slash. And then, immediately, I get a hard and heavy pain in my right kidney area, and I think, "Shit. Now I've got some kind of kidney infection or something."

But it was just one of those passing displaced pains caused by a flare-up of my inflamed spine when I haven't saturated my tissues with enough NSAIDs. (I only started taking them again yesterday.) The "kidney" pain subsides and I hurry home and get into bed, because, more than the coffee, more than the beer, more than the humidity, more than the stress of the kind of hard physical work I've been doing in the gardens, lack of sleep is a major cause of my spinal inflammation and subsequent loss of heart rhythm if I will not take the symptoms seriously and cut back my activities and addictions. I've got to start taking better care of myself, mentally and physically. I've come to understand that a wise person knows how to attend to the cues of self and environment, to go along with the feelings of ennui and not push on with planned work when (especially internal) circumstances try to disallow it, to pursue alternative activities when they present themselves in the face of more stressful ones that threaten the integrity of the self by becoming too difficult, to slip into bed and sleep, even in the middle of the day, when the body cries out for relief.

I've been pushing hard throughout the spring, trying to accomplish my long-envisioned gardens plan. But I'm worn out; it's time to take a rest. And writing can be quite restful.

seeking peace

My old workplace (recurrent and further developing), with even more machinery crowded into available space: Rita is showing me around, explaining the newer operations to me. I'm trying hard to understand the "logic" of the operations, since she seems to be expecting me to help out in some way, by taking over some of the lower management functions perhaps. What she wants me to do is complicated, not in and of itself, but because the floor plan (or lack of one) is obtuse and overly crowded; but Steve happens along, overhears what she's saying to me, and tells her that he doesn't want me to be tied down to a lot of specific tasks and duties, that he wants me to be free to be able to respond to him immediately should he need to call on me to consult with him. This makes me feel good; it empowers me. Rita doesn't like it; but she goes along like the good little manager that she is. We go into the office where a meeting is scheduled to take place; but no one is there yet. People start arriving. Karen walks in before the meeting starts and, confronting me, tells me directly that she'd like us to get together outside of work, like go on a date, to see if we can be together. I appreciate her directness, the lack of her former games, and I say, sure, we can do that, but we can't talk about it now; I'll see her after the meeting. This makes her happy and she leaves the room. Instead of attending the meeting, I go out into the plant and wander around. I'm having a hard time getting through some of the aisles because they are so filled up with new equipment and pallets of products; some of the aisles are blocked completely and I'm forced to go a different way. I think that, if I were still in charge, there's no way I'd allow these conditions to exist, and I wonder why Steve allows this, since he was the major motivating factor in my drive to create a safe and efficient workplace. Apart from the inefficiency created, this situation presents many safety hazards. But I'm not in charge; I'm a free agent. I can do nothing but wander and observe, which I do, as if I am a roving supervisor at large, unable to make decisions that affect the operations, but vested with "authority" nonetheless. I meet Karen at her workstation and tell her that she should call me, and I give her my phone number. I prefer it to be this way instead of me getting her number and calling her. I tell her that we can be together, but under no circumstances should we interact at work, that here we are all but nonexistent to each other. She agrees. I go on wandering, with the growing realization that everyone's attention is on me, that all of the women are interested in me and want me to pay attention to them. But I cannot, not in any way except strictly professionally.

Since Rita no longer works there either--in fact, since it is the old building, not the new one--I understand that this is not so much about the company as it is about my own psyche; that is, the symbol system refers more to my internal self than it does to the external effects that (I feel) have been controlling me.

Eileen is nowhere to be seen, nor is her presence felt, so that I feel free to allow Karen, since she has chosen to be so straightforward, to pursue me.

And the fact that Steve has empowered me to be free of the machinations [the crowded machinery is symbolic of my internal conflicts, which I weave my way around so as to be able to progress and observe (myself, and others) without the kinds of restrictions that have inhibited me (and others) in the past] of the daily operations imparts to me a kind of stoic peace that eluded me in real life workplace operations, despite the fact that I intensely sought that peace; and still do--although I far more frequently find it now, especially in dreams.


I'm having sex with db, who is younger than she was when I first knew her, and who is also someone else, an even younger version of herself. As I engage her orally, I question her about her past. I had assumed she was a virgin, but she tells me stories about "herself" that reveal that she has had sex and near-sex many times before, way back into her childhood. [She's a kind of layered person, being herself, two of her nieces who are at the same time earlier versions of herself, and other young girls, all of which is manifested in the experiences that she's relating.] She tells me about her past friends and lovers who brought her and almost brought her to orgasm, and the process of telling me these things turns her on even more and each orgasm she tells me about causes her to orgasm in the present. But as we proceed, I keep hearing strange sounds, first outside, then, I suspect, inside the house. Finally, there is one loud crash that I can't ignore, and I get up to investigate. As I'm doing this, I discover an older guy, someone we know, an employee of db's father [actually, of her brother-in-law; her father was dead when I knew her--but not when she was as young as parts of her are in this dream; interesting. Is this her father, or his agency, haunting me from the grave?], who has been assigned to live here with us to keep an eye on db and what she is up to. I resent him being here; even though I had known he was here, I didn't know he was in the immediate vicinity at this particular time, nor did I know that he was spying on us while pretending to be getting things from the bedroom closet that he was sorting through and organizing. But at the same time that I resent his presence, I accept it also. Some of the noises that I'd heard were caused by him in his clandestine activities; but the final one was loud and came from outside; so together we investigate it's cause. Looking out the window, I can see the shadow of the house on the lawn, and I notice that the roof addition is not there. The house looks as it did before we added on. [The addition is the (pseudo-)social self that I adopted/conditioned when I trained myself in various "social; skills" in order to better compete in the business world.] This concerns me, and I go outside to discover that the addition has fallen off and that the house itself is falling apart. I go back inside to discover that twelve guys, varying in age from young to old, have been secretly living in the house superstructure and have been slowly causing it or allowing it to deteriorate. I'm upset, but not at these guys. I begin to talk to them and, in my best supervisory manner, I begin to motivate them. I tell them that we can rebuild the house, little by little, as we continue to live in it, and eventually we can get a larger place that we can work on to improve and continue to trade up until we have a nice, substantial home where, if they have families, they can bring to live with them. Some of them are on board immediately, but others take a bit longer to convince. While I'm talking to them, one of them, the most incorrigible one, is "erasing" a phonograph record/CD/DVD of Led Zeppelin/Lord of the Rings [thus making the nephew (see later) a combination of Brian and Jay, db's nephew and mine, respectively] by gouging with a fine instrument the sound/image variations out of the groove. [Sexual image?] He's doing this because my [dream-]nephew has been using the record to "escape" from reality, and the general consensus is that he should not be escaping in this way, that he should remain in reality. [The message here is quite clear.] I tell the guy that he shouldn't have done that, that although the kid should be facing up to his problems instead of allowing them to be sublimated into music/fantasy, still, it is something that should not be taken away from him. He disagrees; but there is no hostility in his disagreement. I tell him that my nephew needs the material to help him deal with and make sense of his life and the problems he feels that it presents, that if we take his outlet away from him, he will only substitute something else for it. Some of the other guys agree with me, and some do not. But as we continue to discuss the problem, the guy begins to come around to my way of thinking until, at last, he sees my logic and agrees that perhaps it might be better to wean my nephew off of his addiction instead of forcing him to go cold turkey.

Awake, I realize that I am the one who is sublimating problems and/or conflicts into fantasy and, furthermore, that I am all of the people in the dream, all aspects of my fractured self, ranging from a time when I was young to now; but the dream is therapeutic in that "I" am the motive force that convinces "everyone" to work together to create a harmonious and functional home to live in. I feel like I've accomplished something huge, as if I've uncovered a vast wealth of previously unconscious material and begun healing a complicated multiple split that had previously eluded me and caused me to need to distract myself via fantasy. But I hope this is not so non-retractable as the dream suggests. I love my fantasies as much as I love my dreams. They could take over my whole life if the "reality" of social obligation did not sometimes intervene:

a jolt of reality

Jim calls from Florida while I'm out working in the yard. He leaves a message with the flight arrival information and tells me to call him back. When I call him, Joyce answers. Because there is some kind of a time delay (she's on a cellphone), she keeps talking over what I say, and vice versa, and we stumble until we figure out when to allow pauses for transmission time. Meanwhile, in the background, I can hear voices of the various other family members arguing among themselves and trying to get her attention--until she finally shouts harshly at them in a shrill voice to "Shut!     Up!     I'm on the phone!"

I remember other similar incidents when I was on the phone with her, and I realize that what would normally be an undesirable tone of voice takes on a welcoming quality when it's totally justified and works to prevent ignorant interruptions to information that I want or need to hear. Empathy is a word that comes to mind re these events. I don't want to be the one to say what needs to be said in the tone of voice necessary to communicate the negative passion, but if someone else is willing to say it, I appreciate what I otherwise might not care to hear, even when it's as jolting as Joyce's voice is in my ear.

Cut to the next morning: I pick up Jim and his family at the airport. The ride there is not nearly so taxing as was the ride home from there last week when I dropped them off; but the van is just as difficult to handle. After I meet them at the baggage claim area, I go out to get the van while they wait for their bags. Jay goes with me. But the bags take a long time to arrive and a state cop chases us out of the pickup area.

So, while Danny and I ferry bags out to the curb, Jay circles in the van and stops again to load the few bags that we have. No cops are around, so he remains parked at the curb. And then, just as the final bags are about to arrive, an airport cop on a bicycle rides up and begins to lecture us on how not to bring the van to the area until all of the people and bags we are picking up are at the curb.

It's hard to take a cop seriously when he's wearing shorts and riding a mountain bike; and, anyway, he's being an asshole, so taking him seriously, in my mind, is absolutely out of the question. (Maybe he feels he must act in this overbearing manner because he's dressed this way and using this mode of transportation; but I doubt it. It's probably his inherent nature.)

So, as he goes on an on with his lecture, far beyond what is necessary (obviously acting out some unconscious agenda), I just keep looking him in the eye and nodding my head as if in understanding, not wanting to provoke him (further), but not wanting to seem apologetic or guilty either. I'm giving him my best (or worst) passive-aggressive behavior, determined not to (have to) say a word as he asserts what he thinks is his professional authority. Throughout the interaction, I notice that Jay is deferring to my presence and standing aside, glad to be out of it.

Then Danny comes out with two bags, and the cop says, "Is that all of the bags?" I should have just said, "Yes." But instead I say, "There's one more." I think this pisses him off, but he says nothing. He hangs around as we start to load the bags into the back of the van. I try to force the last one in, but it won't fit. I know I could force it, but I'm trying to buy time so that we don't have to drive around again before the others get here. The cop glares. And then Jay says, "Wait. Take the small one out of the corner and put this one there." So we unload several bags, and the cop, frustrated, goes away. Victory, if only temporary, over a minor authority figure.

life is cheap

Back at home. Sequestered again. Time crawling. Has it been weeks? Or only days? Hot temps. Lack of rain. High humidity. Miserable to be outside. Miserable to be inside unless the fan is blowing directly on me. Like all projects I undertake, I'm totally bored with gardening and it takes all of my energy just to water the plants I've put in so far. So, I guess I'm between projects, in the doldrums of motivation. I hate these times when the motive winds won't blow. I always doubt my plans and accomplishments when I'm shifting gears between modes of existence: Maybe I should be doing something else with my life. But what? One thing is as good as another; any project is better than none. It's the work ethic thing operating again; produce or perish.

Something got into the garden last night and ate the tops off the carrots and some of the kohlrabi. At first, I didn't know what had gotten in, and I wondered where my fencing scheme had failed. Later, I found vague tracks in the loosely packed and therefore less hardened clay of the new terraces I'm building. (All of the other ground is hard and dry because we're nearing the end of the second week of a mini-drought.) Then, this evening, I see our old friend the groundhog in the neighbor's yard. The fat shit is back and looking very well fed.

It rained last night for a few minutes. Nothing much. Only a few inches of water in the rain barrels. But it's better than nothing. But it seems kind of sad, kind of like a lot of wasted time, to be waiting for a rain that never comes. Anticipation without effect. I was checking the darkening sky every few minutes, hoping for a downpour, ready to divert run-off into the second rain barrel.

And meanwhile, I was watching a talking head on FOX News trying to justify the president's apparently blasé attitude toward the increase death rate in Iraq. (As I am writing this, I am struck by how much that sentence felt like it was about to end in 'Vietnam'.) But I guess I'm projecting because I'm sad to say that I have come to the following disgusting conclusion:

Despite the fact that I am against the occupation of Iraq by foreign troops, both insurgents and "real" armies, I don't mind seeing U.S. troops over there dying for American interests in the region. As long as we continue to have an all-volunteer army, the Bushies can send as many of the stupid cunts over there that they deem necessary. The more Bush supporters that die, the better off we'll all be. Actually, so long as it doesn't directly involve me, the more warmongers that die, the better. Survival of the fittest and all that. The problem is that when war rages, more innocent than guilty people get killed. But that too is a matter of fitness. If you don't have the resources and/or wit to get the fuck out of a war zone...well, what do you expect will happen? It's unfortunate, but life is cheap.

This morning I awoke to the sound of something rattling around outside my window on the back porch. I hurried out, sun burning my as-yet-unadjusted eyes, and saw the groundhog waddling quickly up across the yard, frightened by my sudden appearance. I had it cornered, or so I thought, between the woodshed and the hedges. It ran back and forth, confused for a moment, and then it skittered under the woodshed door. By the time I got it opened, it was gone, through a hole in the wood between the woodshed and the gardening shed, where I know it has a hole in the back corner that I can't get at unless I remove all of the old rabbit cages that are all attached to each other and stand as a large unit. I'm going to have to plug the hole up from the neighbor's yard; not that it'll do any good. If it's determined to get in, it'll just dig another one. Looks like the time has come to buy a big trap and get rid of the fucker once and for all. Meanwhile, I'll try covering the crops with deer netting to see if that'll keep it from doing any more damage; but I doubt it. But it might deter it enough to lose interest. I'm determined that I'm going to get rid of this little bastard. I hope I can trap it, but if I have to, I'll kill it. Food is expensive, and life is cheap.