November 29, 2009

The Robot and the Fish

Anyone who knows me (which is anyone who does) will tell you that I hover on the Cliff of Silly. It's a ledge where I've pulled up a sleeping bag next to the roaring fire of ridiculousness and made myself at home. Marshmallows can be roasted on the flames of my insanity. But I digress...

I have been known (by those who know me) to assign personalities to inanimate objects. I just think the spatula should enjoy being a microphone and yes, my pencil rolls off the table of its own volition. It likes the ride.

Above we have Mr. Miagi, a red Japanese fighting fish who, by virtue of his breed's quirks (do fish have breeds?) had to live in his tank all alone. Oh, he amused himself by playing in the bubble stream and could eat like a starved child at a free ice cream buffet. And certainly he paid attention to the office staff (he was employed as a mascot) when we lifted his lid. He had no opinions on proprietary matters, but nonetheless, he was quite a hit with visitors. And then the office lights were shut off because five o'clock had come and it was time for the human types to race back to their own tanks.

I like to think that, on those lonely nights and lonelier weekends (three-day weekends must have sucked), he wasn't entirely alone. You see, I'd given him Robby.

Robby doesn't actually work as I'm told he once did. If you're older than me (for which I offer apologies and Depends) you may remember Robby Robot, who ate your dimes and never pooped them out. He was a mechanical bank and, sadly, mine has retired from active duty. So I put him in charge of Fish-Sitting, a job for which an immobile item has, in fact, little choice. I like to think that, on those lonely nights and lonelier weekends (four-day weekends must have blown), Robby would provide Miagi the audience he craved.

Unlikely friends from whom we may learn a lesson. The first is that granting sentience to playthings is a good way to score eye rolls from others. The second is that we should be so undiscerning in our quest for friends. Grudges, prejudices and wars all spring from a narrow view of differences; fish and robot could have fought over the value of plastic over flesh and vice versa. But Miagi just swam and Robby just watched.

Now that Mr. Miagi has gone on to that great tank in the sky (or under that tiny bush by the warehouse) I find Robby's permanently downcast eyes rather indicative of his emotional state. No one else sees this, naturally, but we should all have such good friends.

November 28, 2009

Minor Allergies

Sometimes, the animal kingdom gets it right. I have (as previously mentioned) eight felines and not one of them is especially sensitive to their shortcomings, flaws or quirks. They just blast through life in that self-important way of theirs, untroubled by such things as leaking eyes, crooked tails or extra toes. We have unapologetic 'velcro' kitties (the ones that cling), unabashed schizophrenic ones (the ones that fear their own whiskers) and carefree adventures (the bombastic ones who won't stay out of the basement). They don't mind being different, odd or even mildly insane. They just are.

We're all a bit sensitive. Go on, admit it. What are you sensitive about? My list includes small... shall we say... bosoms, utter lack of vertical reach and a spine laid out in such a way as to resemble a blind man's doodling. But I have arrived at such an age that these things have been relegated to the bin of 'minor inconveniences.' I know they're there but acceptance is two parts reality and one part dementia.
Where was I going with this? Oh yes, I remember.

I have developed an allergy. One might say I'm allergic to a stick. Or not the stick so much as its existence. Or not so much its existence as the documented proof thereof. Confused? Good.

My problem is thus: I have, sometimes-sporadically-occasionally, required the use of a cane to remain mobile. I know... shocking. MS is a funny thing, letting me tell it just how invincible I am while plotting to cut my legs from under me without warning. Sensitive about MS? Not at all. As anyone with the disease will attest, the MonSter isn't interested in such novel things as pride and therefore sensitivity is fairly short-lived.

In truth, I don't truly mind the cane anymore. When I need it, which isn't often yet, I can endure the stares from people who see a young person stealing the accessories of a senior citizen. I can manage under the constant "Can I help you?" when I'm trying to reach the Fiber One cereal. I can even laugh off the people who walk right past me (and practically over me) when I fall. The one thing I strive to avoid in all that is photographic evidence of my stick.

Yup, that's the allergy. I cannot tolerate having my picture taken while holding the dastardly thing. Something about committing its likeness to glossy paper bugs the all-loving crap outta me. When I was in Williamsburg VA this summer, I needed the dreaded thing to maintain forward momentum and made darn sure the cane was ten feet away from any photo op. My friend looked at me like I'd sprouted mold whenever I threw the wretched thing halfway across the state so she could snap a shot of me. Recently, my oldest niece and I went to a nature center and once again, the stick was a balance saver. But she got a picture of me with the cane and I had to refrain from tossing her camera into the lake. That would be impolite.

I suppose humans are wired for denial, particularly regarding things society considers weakness; mental disease, addictions, physical imperfection and everything in between that can't be squeezed into the cookie cutter. Not having a picture of the cane doesn't change its presence in my trunk. Not having a picture doesn't mean it won't be there next time I need it. It should be a badge of courage, a sign that while something within me wants to defeat me, I have chosen not to let it. At least I could go to Williamsburg and the nature center and countless Walmart trips that have involved the stick. The pictures just prove I was living, not sobbing at home for a disease I cannot change. MS would like me to do that but my Mommy taught me to be defiant.

And anyway, it's one of the few weapons that is legal to carry!

November 4, 2009

Doormats (or The State of Which)

I was the quiet kid in the back of the class. I was the girl who never winked at a boy. I was the lady who wore the conciliatory nature as though it were virtue. It's not.

I'm a woman now, however fervently my height disagrees. I've done the self-examination thing to the point of boredom. There's much we don't realize about ourselves and more that we do. Often what we don't like within ourselves becomes a sweep-under-the-rug nuisance. Change is and always shall be counter to our instinct. Most humans dwell in that forest of the status quo.

In these questing years, I've come to understand a little of how others view me. I'm the doormat. It's a useful invention, really. We all have one and those that don't mourn its lack. Who doesn't want visitors to wipe their feet? I have lived a wiped feet existence. Oh, not in every aspect, but in the ones that count (meaning the personal matters) I have to shake off the dirt they track in.

Not my family, naturally. No, it's the ones who share no blood with me that seem to see that as an excuse to trample on me. Why? Because I've always let them. And when that brilliant self-examination is through, I see a person within who hates confrontation and wishes to upset no one. So essentially, I'm too nice. Which must explain why I'm still single.

I intended to say something to someone at some time today, a cutting dissection of how I am being treated and how I demand it cease. And let me tell you, I rehearsed all day. It didn't happen. Because though I had the words, I failed to summon the appropriate moxie. I have reached the point of anxiety and cannot open my mouth properly. I want to spare feelings, everyone's except my own.

There's a point when even the most conciliatory person must stand their ground. The one I must correct thinks that I can't do it, can't say it to their face because I'm the quiet kid in the back. I long to prove them wrong. I need to. Because I'm still a person, no matter how short or nice or anxious. I can be conscious of others' feelings while still voicing mine. This is America, folks. I have rights.

So I will get up off the floor, dust myself off and kiss off the status quo.