This cracked me up. I was cleaning the refrigerator, ugly, elbow-length yellow gloves on and all—couldn't be more mundane, more inglorious, m'I right?—and, of all the songs, “Eye of the Tiger” started playing loudly and overdramatically on my laptop, followed by "We Are the Champions." First I laughed, then felt a little broody and reflective, like you do. It made me want to fling the sponge across the kitchen, leap into Crazy Ivan, and race to the tandem-skydiving school at the local airfield (tandem skydiving being the most outrageous thing that I can actually see myself doing some day). But, no, there’s some funny-colored dried gunk in the corner of the bottom shelf that’s just calling my name. Must. Clean. It.
[Update: I actually looked up tandem skydiving this morning. $250. Hell, for that kind of money I could hire someone to clean my refrigerator!]
Okay, I’m all set. I have a nice glass of iced tea within easy reach, “Fate” is loaded up on the PC, a basket of freshly washed laundry is sitting on the table so I can fold unmentionables during those two-minute segments when I send Clementine-the-sidekick back up to the surface…
Well, never mind. I’ll skulk around in the dungeons a little longer than I was planning to, then send Clementine back up. Surely Benny will have moved by then...
Just had a big laugh by and at myself.
I reread the columbine/seed pod entry and noticed in particular the line that argued I could just take the seed pod because “I wouldn't really be taking a thing, just seeds that have the potential to be a thing. So why pay real money when you're not really getting anything for it?”
And it struck me that, according to this logic, yarn should also be free. After all, you still have to make the thing out of it, don't you?
One of my goals on 43 Things is to improve my Spanish. I already speak credible Español; my goal is just to keep those synapses firing and not let it all just dribble away. My two most reliable sources for day-to-day exposure are my local Subway Sandwich shop—staffed by an unbroken line of chatty Latinos for the 10 years I’ve been going there—and the nature shows on V-Me, the Spanish PBS channel. Which means while, yes, I’m accomplishing my goal, it’s not exactly going the way I had in mind since I’ve only managed to cement in my brain the words for white bread, chicken, lettuce, tomato, mayonnaise, salt and pepper, and add to my vocabulary words like spoor, herd, scent-marking, predator, prey, carrion and tranquilizer dart.
Unless I'm ordering a zebra sandwich from Spanish-speaking people in a Subway Sandwich shop in Africa, I can't see how this is going to help me.
I recently went to a nursery and came across a table with sale plants on it. My second-favorite plants, after dahlias, are columbines, and there were a few sad, brown, end-of-season, essentially dead columbines on the table, some with dried, ripe seed pods…which, I realized, was really all I needed. After all, no one would notice, would they, if I picked up a seed pod out of innocent curiosity and accidentally never put it down? And, really, how would the nursery be financially damaged by the loss of one teensy seed pod? Look around; thousands of profit-generating plants as far as the eye can see! Money practically pouring off the tables! Besides, seeds aren’t really plants, are they? I wouldn't really be taking a thing, just seeds that have the potential to be a thing. So why pay real money when you're not really getting anything for it? Conversely, why pay $3 for one dead plant when I can have 20 or 30 plants from a seed pod for free? All I needed to do was pick up a seed pod. Just. Pick. Up. A. Seed. Pod.
So I picked up the dead plant, went to the cashier, stood in a long line, and paid $3. Plus Seattle's infamous 9.5% sales tax. Argh. I hope you were watching, God.
[Update: Last night I climbed out of Crazy Ivan, marched over to the carrot bed and boldly yanked out two carrots without thinking about it. So brave and bold am I!)
Lately, because they're finally big enough after a bizarre growing season, when I arrive home I've been ambling over to my square-foot-gardening bed and pulling up a carrot. Last night I pulled up a nice one, planning to put it in a chef salad. But it was too early for dinner and the carrot kept Siren-calling to me from the kitchen counter and I had the post-work, post-commute munchies so…nom nom nom.
Fast forward 1.5 hours to when I’m cobbling together the salad and feeling a little disappointed that I had eaten the carrot because it’s so satisfying to grow something that becomes part of an actual meal. Which is about when I had a thought that stunned me momentarily.
I could go pull up another one!
Huh. Who knew?
While you may think I’m in danger of becoming a pasty-faced, Golum-like myopic type who lives in the basement and does nothing but play video games, I don’t have a basement. Neener, neener.
Actually, my interest in video games comes and goes rapidly. I can play “Fate” for hours and hours. Or not at all. I can go days without playing, but once I load the game, I’m a goner. However, the main difference between me and the Golum-type is that, as a relatively responsible adult, while I’m playing, I’m uncomfortably aware of all the things that’re not getting done. Which is when a certain element of game-play in Fate comes in handy. See, you have this shape-shifting companion who helps you fight battles and gather armaments and treasure. Mine is the default Jack Russell terrier (when she’s not being a lizard, spider, wolf, white tiger, shrike, griffon, wyvern, brain monster, or abomination. Love the brain monster the most—a walking brain with two legs and and two wobbly Jello-like arms that it flaps boozily around in the air.). When your inventory fills up with weapons and treasure, you can send your companion back to town to sell your loot to gain inventory space and simoleons. However, this takes two real-time minutes, during which my character can’t do much for fear of getting zapped, fried, frozen, chewed on, poisoned, clubbed or splatted. So I’ve discovered all the household chores which can each be done in two minutes, like:
Clean the cat-litter box.
Empty the dish drainer.
Get ready for bed (straighten out my (rarely made) bed, set my alarm clock, turn on the reading light, find my crossword-puzzle book and pencil).
Put laundry in the washer.
Put laundry in the dryer.
Take laundry out of the dryer.
Wipe down all the surfaces in the bathroom, with perhaps a quick toilet scrubbing.
Pick out clothes for the next day.
Open, sort, throw away and/or shred the day’s mail.
Pay a bill.
Straighten out all the area rugs.
Move the sprinkler from one part of the yard to another.
So, if you were a fly on the wall, you would see me hunkered over my laptop, focused intently on the screen, oblivious to all around me, and occasionally leaping up, racing around the house frantically for exactly two minutes, racing back to my chair and hunkering down again.
I get to play; chores get done. It’s the American Dream.
Erika has been running her “Sims Sunday” postings for a while, for many generations of Sims, in fact, and—although the game itself holds absolutely no interest for me—I’ve been a big fan of these blog entries ever since they first saw daylight. Erika has a way of making the mundane—the interior design of the houses, things that are arbitrarily left lying around, the Sims’ day-to-day activities—seem important (and very funny), and making the important—births, adoptions, birthdays, marriages, illness, deaths, resurrections, hauntings—seem mundane (and very funny). You can’t wait to see what happens next, and happen it does, and quickly, since there’s a rapidly revolving door of generation after generation in the game. And Erika amuses her readers by taking screen shots of Sims “moments in time” and posting them on her blog with clever commentary.
So, taking a page from Erika’s book, I share this snapshot from an RPG I’ve been playing called “Fate.” (The usual: Work your way through 50 levels of a dungeon, acquire money, armor, skills, sidekicks and magic, then die, get resurrected, acquire more money, armor, skills, sidekicks, magic, and die again because the monsters have gotten commensurately stronger, acquire more money, armor, skills, magic, and die again, ad nauseum.) Getting good armor is hard which is why I was so excited when I found (actually, fished out of a pond because that's one of the whacky ways you find things in the game) a helmet that came with a lot of defense points. Score! Except, unlike all the other helmets, which were made of manly things like steel and titanium, and were the perfect combination of macho-looking yet
girly shiny, this helmet was…
…pink bunny ears. So this is what “I” currently look like: