Namo amitabha Buddhaya, y'all.
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Thursday, May 31, 2012

Watershed Moment in Jen History.

I haven't had a very good week.  Over the long weekend, we got news that Joan's half-brother Pete, who went AWOL about 40 years ago, had died.  He and Joan weren't in touch (that being evident by the fact that the local police had to call our local police, who came to our door and left a detective's phone number.  It's never good news when that happens.)  Joan is basically his sole living relative, so it fell to her, which is to say, us, to make the final arrangements.  He owned so little and had so few plans that it wasn't much to do, actually.  He's a veteran, so he'll be buried in the veteran's cemetery near where he lived, which doesn't cost anything, fortunately.  (Just paid for a roof, a new transmission and a water heater--can somebody tell these things not to all hit in the same month?).  His nice landlady is cleaning out his apartment and giving most of his possessions to Goodwill.  There won't be a funeral service but if there's any money in his accounts, we'll give in his name to Stand Down if they take donations, or the Wounded Warrior Project if they don't.

So, I mean, it's not been insurmountable or anything.  Just kind of sucky.  And Joan is okay.  They didn't have any kind of relationship, really, except when they were kids, and that was a long time ago.  Sometimes I think I'm sadder than Joan is.  I mean, the guy wasn't a prince or anything, obviously, and we're not rich or anything, obviously, but if we'd known about his living conditions and the state of his health, we probably could have done something to help.  And I'm bummed I never got to meet him.  Okay, I never got to meet Bette Davis, either, and somehow I've survived all these years.  But, anyway, I would have liked to meet him.

This may or may not have any relation to what happened this morning.  I was bumbling around the kitchen, making coffee and my usual breakfast (banana, peanut butter, graham cracker; paradise) when something moved in the sink.  Things do occasionally move without the aid of human hands around here; we have three cats and possibly a poltergeist, though I prefer to just believe in the three cats.  I ignored it because I was busy slicing the banana.  Then it moved again, and I could no longer ignore it because its feelers were wiggling near the top of the counter.  Joan had just gone back to bed for another half-hour of sleep; we had a series of thunderstorms roll through here last night, and I don't think either of us got much decent shut-eye.  So, really, really not wanting to, I approached the sink, looking for a weapon.

Freeze picture.

Digression:  Let it be known that I, Jen, am afraid of those big palmetto bugs.  Or cockroaches or water beetles or whatever the hell they are.  The ones that are three inches long and can fly.  I'm not inserting a graphic here because a graphic would be too graphic.  They terrify me.  They make me scream like a six-year-old girl.  We have a rule in this house: If there's wildlife running around in here and it has six legs, Joan handles it.  If it has eight legs, I handle it.  (Once there was a snake in here.  Imagine the consternation.  I mean, snakes got no legs.  Who's responsible?  Well, the answer was me, but you can see how this might have caused some serious division-of-labor issues.)  Part of that is, of course, because the degree of revulsion I have for this particular critter won't let me do the right thing, the Buddhist thing, which is to say, catch it and throw it outside.  I can do this with eight-legged critters, unless they're running really fast, because that particular revulsion isn't there.  I also did it with the no-legged thing.  But six-legged things?  It does not work.  My only thought when confronted with one of those horrible creatures is to get it the hell away from me as fast as possible, which practically always involves stomping on it.

So what does Joan do, when I outsource my fear and loathing of six-leggers to her? Well, she stomps on them.  Really, it's a Hobson's choice.  Get stomped on or get stomped on.  And I'm not sure that outsourcing stomping is correct, in a Buddhist-y sort of way, but I'm so terrified of these critters that I. Don't. Care.  Well, I didn't think I cared, anyway.  (It's not correct.  First Precept:  "I will do my best not to kill, or to let anybody else kill."  Kinda hard to fit stomping-uponst in there anywhere.)

Roll picture.  I approach the sink.  The six-legger in question, which is indeed one of my nemeses, wiggles its feelers at me.  I have a second to wonder if I'm going to throw up.  Then I reach for my weapon--a pitcher--and as I do, a strange thought occurs to me: I'm going to kill this living being because I'm afraid of it.

Which kind of stopped me dead in my tracks.

Yeah.  That was basically it.  It wasn't harming me, harming Joan, harming the cats (they'll stare at it with riveted intent, but they won't kill it; predator fail).  It was just sitting there being disgusting.  If being disgusting were a capital crime--no, I won't get into that now.  But let's just say the body count would be high.

Standoff.  It looks at me.  I look at it.  It wiggles its feelers some more.  I don't have feelers to wiggle.  But I do have an eight-ounce glass next to the sink.  I grab it and plant it squarely on top of the critter, which runs around the circumference of the glass a few times, then stops, confused.

I let out a long breath.  Now that it's contained and not going anywhere, like, say, up my nightgown, I feel a lot better.  Of course there's still the matter of what to do with it.  Getting it out of the house as quickly as possible comes to mind.  If it were an eight-legger, I'd slide a thick piece of paper or an envelope under the glass, pick them both up, and carry them out.  But I can't do that with this creepy thing.  What if it gets a leg around the edge of the paper and, you know, touches me?

Finally I take the gas bill and slide it under the glass.  Then I lift glass and gas bill and put them both on top of a can of cat food.  Then I lift glass, gas bill and cat food and take them out the back door.  I disassemble the whole thing on the patio and back off, keeping a careful eye on the critter. It makes a few laps in the glass, then eventually notices somebody's opened the door.  It takes off down a crack in the wood and that's the last I see of it.

I will, of course, be asking Joan to go get the glass.  I'm not going back out there unescorted.  I'm pretty sure I've already paid the gas bill, but even if I haven't, it can sit there and rot for all of me.  And the can of cat food?  Already opened and fed to the feral cats that eat on my porch.

I'd like to think I'm not going to kill another living being just because I'm afraid of it, or annoyed by it, or otherwise disturbed, but I'm sure I'll at least swat a mosquito at some point.  (Is there a self-defense exception?)  And I'll probably still yell for Joan if a six-legger invades the house again.

Then again, maybe I won't.


Cele said...

oh mi god this is exactly my position on snakes.... sneaky creatures.

You are a braver woman than I - I definately outsource sneaky creature removal.

Jen said...

Aw, heck, I have no issue with reptiles. I picked up the little guy with my bare hands (just behind the head, like Steve Irwin used to do, and it wasn't a bitey snake, fortunately). Cats' interest? Zero. But one time there was HORNET loose in here, and they were chasing after it and leaping into the air to catch it. They have all the common sense of a--of something with no common sense.