Bubba, Squoosh, and Ploppy

It has come to my attention that my siblings are worried about my future children’s names.  I have, they say, a bad track record, the principal things I have named being Squinchy and Kitty-Koo, the cat I named when I was five.  They leave out of this reckoning Margaret, Harriet, Abigail, Lonely Annie Anaconda the Araucana, and the rest of the chickens I have named, Artemis and Aphrodite the terrible cats (by the way, DO NOT NAME CATS AFTER GODDESSES.  They get airs.  Kitty Koo was a great cat.) as well as Snowdrop the black rabbit I named after a white lamb from a movie.  Maybe that one doesn’t help my case — but it did have a white spot on its forehead.  Also, they forget I have named a number of imaginary people, and many of them have perfectly fine names like Rosie and Mari, and the ones whose names are things like Bean, well, their names fit them.  Like Squinchy fits the Squinch.

However, my brother believes I am going to have a baby and say, “I know there is a totally magnificent name for this child, but I just can’t think of it.” And meanwhile, the poor kid will get called Bubba.  He’ll probably be some nerdy oboe-playing blond boy named Bubba.  And his siblings, says Aidan, will go by Squoosh and Ploppy.  Seriously, Bud.  Although, now that I think of it, that’s some nice onomatopoetic stuff.  If I want to name them after their diapers that is.

Now, I think things have a way of naming themselves, so I am making no promises, but I do believe I can do better than Ploppy.


I Hominid All Over the Place

So I was teaching my students about the word root of the word human the other day.  You guys, it’s really cool.  Did you know that the words human, humble, humus, hominid, humility, and humiliate all come from the root humus/homo, which means soil? Even linguistically, humanity belongs to the earth. I was very excitedly sharing all this, when one of my students pointed out something else.  HOMINID SOUNDS LIKE VOMITED! Hot damn, did that get their attention.  We spent the next few minutes writing brilliantly on such topics as when the hominid vomited humbly on the humus.  Interestingly (I swear), humor comes not from humus but from humid, as it originally referred to humors, those lovely medieval fluids, and when one was in good humor, ones fluids were doing well.

I bring this up because mine are doing poorly.  For the second year in a row, I am experiencing a non-viral, pre-Christmas stomach cleanse.  I will spare you the details, except to say that last year I, er, hominid so hard I burst blood vessels in my eyes.  This year is much more subtle, but I am beginning to feel a tradition coming on of involuntary Solstice fasting.  Given that I really, really hate fasting, I guess if my body wants a break from digestion it has to get sick.  One time in college I tried fasting in solidarity with striking janitors, and by eleven AM I was in tears on the phone with my mother.  “Becca, eat,” she told me, and reminded me my stomach had early on learned the nickname Tyrant Tummy, since I could go from content to inconsolable in sports car speed when I got hungry.  I ate a late breakfast, followed by lunch, and haven’t tried again since.  So I don’t fast.  I don’t skip meals.  I eat my protein.  And occasionally, just for variety I guess, I get sick.

I Want to Catch a Fish

This past year, as some of you may know, I have taken up fishing.  What I mean by this, is that every once in a while, I wade around in some water with my fishing pole.  I tangle and untangle my line.  I watch the light on the water.  I snag lures on branches and rocks.  I imagine that somewhere in that vastness of water is a fish who will find my tiny little line with its randomly-chosen lure and will bite.  So I fish.  But I have not actually caught a fish.  Up until recently, I didn’t really care.  I was in the “labor and relinquish the fruits of your labors” school of fishing.  I was Process Oriented.  See, fishing itself is pretty nice, regardless of the results.  I spent summer afternoons with my feet in a cool creek and my dog on the shore, and an exhilarating, rainy hour this fall fishing Pinks in the Snoqualmie — the water churning with the power of the fish, and my line out there among them!  These have been days of surging unity and rightness with the world, though I went home fishless, and often lureless, having excelled mostly at catching rocks.

But you know what I realized recently? I WANT TO CATCH A FISH.

It comes down to this: fishing, like most activities in life, is unavoidably metaphorical.  And I have been living the same way I fish. Querying agents without any true internal expectation they would pick up my book.  Loving people without expecting they would love me and meet me and choose me as fully as I truly need.  ENOUGH! I WANT SOME RESULTS!  Sure, there have been some blissy days and good adventures and moments — more than moments — of growth and epiphany.  The process is good, and if I only focused on specific results it could have ruined a lot of nice days.  However, I actually do want to publish Good Like the Sea, and I do want live love in a real, growing partnership.  I also, quite literally, want to catch a fish.

To catch a fish, I need to do a few things:

1. Go fishing with someone who knows what they are doing.  (Anyone, anyone?)

2. Learn more about where fish are, what they bite, etc.

3. Go fishing places there are actually fish.

4. Buy some more lures, since the only one I have left is this weird pink one I found on the river bar.

5. Practice.

6. Believe.

This last one is big.  I struggle sometimes to imagine that in all that expanse of water, a fish will really bite my hook.  My friend Charlie says you have to imagine that your hook is enormous and unavoidable.  It helps, too I think, to believe in the existence of fish.

Then there’s the question of what would I do if I actually caught one?  If I really, truly caught a fish.  I’d have to reel it in without losing it.  I’d have to figure out if it was a kind I was allowed to keep.  If it was, I’d have to somehow kill it, and the only methods of killing animals I have tried (slapping, stomping, trapping, hitting with a car) work fine for mosquitoes, snails, rats, and possums, but don’t seem quite right for fish.  I guess I’d use a knife or a rock, or worst just let it drown in the air, like 90% of the rest of us adults.  It’s an exhilarating terror of possibility, but I want it.  Anyhow, I do know to clean a fish and yes David James Duncan, I promise I would cook it in butter.

Wisdom from the East

Did you know, on the East Coast, the ocean is to the East and the mountains are to the West?  It trips me up every time.  Also, as far as I can tell, everyone in Asheville, North Carolina shits in a bucket and Delaware is a short road full of tolls.  Intercourse, Pennsylvania is not what it sounds like, nor is it what it is: Amish Country, by which I mean it is more of an Amish Disneyland where you can park next to a tour bus and buy rag rugs made in India and sold to you, presumably, by someone who could make them herself if you didn’t mind paying her something worth her time.  Our nation’s capital is a heavy-souled town, despite the earnest efforts of my seat mate on the plane, who was flying from North Pole, Alaska to lift the death spirit off D.C. through the power of prayer.  One bedroom apartments are small with four people in them, no matter how loverly those four people are, and men, when bored, can teach cats, also bored, to swim.


Then this: the first principle of the Occupy D.C. camp, followed by such profundities as “Don’t show up intoxicated,” and “Volunteer every day” — “Let your anger at injustice be a positive and non-violent force for change.”   Again: Let your anger at injustice be a positive and non-violent force for change.   I just keep thinking about this, both on a social change level, and in my own life.   So there you have it, some wisdom from the east.