Rant 001. Assault is assault and one more thing to think on.

I’m checking in off-schedule because there are some things this week that are driving me batty–OK, one thing in particular–and also something that I just read that you guys need to read, partly because I said so and mostly because it’s excellent and insightful and important.

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I’m checking in off-schedule because there are some things this week that are driving me batty–OK, one thing in particular–and also something that I just read that you guys need to read, partly because I said so and mostly because it’s excellent and insightful and important.

Continue reading “Rant 001. Assault is assault and one more thing to think on.”

I’m a judgmental person. (But I’m trying to stop.)

Three years ago, when I was working 9:30 to late at a stressful job with a difficult boss; three years ago, when I was so sick, I weighed less than 100 pounds and didn’t know what to do about it; three years ago, when the only thing that made me happier was hearing about the drama in everyone else’s lives—three years ago, I was a very judgmental person.

Three years ago, when I was working 9:30 to late at a stressful job with a difficult boss; three years ago, when I was so sick, I weighed less than 100 pounds and didn’t know what to do about it; three years ago, when the only thing that made me happier was hearing about the drama in everyone else’s lives—three years ago, I was a very judgmental person.

Continue reading “I’m a judgmental person. (But I’m trying to stop.)”

Catch and release

“Fresh fish doesn’t smell.”
That’s what my ex told me. So when I grabbed a fishing pole for the first time in a dozen years and cast, I thought back on that moment…

fishingmain“Fresh fish doesn’t smell.”

That’s what my ex told me. So when I grabbed a fishing pole for the first time in a dozen years and cast, I thought back on that moment we’d disdainfully passed the seafood counter at Publix. Well, fresh fish does smell. And that smell, I have decided, is seafood stank. It lingers in your nose in a nauseatingly self-satisfying way after you haul in your first catch and then your second.

No matter if you catch and release or catch and stow, your hands are getting up in that fish’s business. There is no stopping the slimy oddness from imprinting in your pores. And even though the slick gooiness is repellant, the feel of the scales beneath it—just a hint of sharpness and then smooth. Sharp and smooth as the gills flutter and the muscles flex and contract. There is a squirm, your grip tightens and then POP—as if that fish is a bar of soap in the shower, it goes sailing (triumphant) through your fingers, arcs over the dock then SPLAT on the wood planks. It wriggle wriggles in any direction it can, so completely disoriented that it can only hope to be flapping its fins toward water.

I feel for the fish then. It cannot breathe, I remember, without the cool river water running over its gills. I wet my hands and reach down for the creature again. I still its movements as gently as I can. And I wince as I reach for the hook. There is no getting it out without leaving behind a slight tear in the fish’s mouth, my father tells me. He leans in, his hands coming closer as if he would help, as if he would take the fish as his own. But I am petulant. I spread my arms and hunch over my catch, protective like a hawk over my catch, and yet all I want is to free it. No, all I want is to turn back the clock to a point at which my sweet spotted trout would have seen the hook and turned tail, never to have the hole I’m ripping in his tough skin. It is horrible and I have done this, and then it is done. The hook hangs limply, my fish lays still. Dead, nearly, I think. Quickly—I must move quickly! I think. Seconds later, the trout is slipped back beneath the surface and he is gone, returned to the depths. And I stink of fish.

Lizard snatcher: A tale of youthful ignorance

My fingers get twitchy whenever I see an anole. My dad calls them chameleons. Don’t tell him this, but I was so sure he was wrong about that, I googled it. Turns out he’s right (don’t tell him that either).

anole

My fingers get twitchy whenever I see an anole. My dad calls them chameleons. Don’t tell him this, but I was so sure he was wrong about that, I googled it. Turns out he’s right (don’t tell him that either). You know the lizards I’m talking about, with their slender bodies and smartly chiseled heads, transformed a bright green or muddy brown depending upon their conditions.

I’d never seen one until my family rented a house for a week on Neptune Beach near Jacksonville. I don’t remember much about that week other than the Belle Barbie doll my mom bought me, the scratchy faux-grass carpeting that covered the patio floor, and the lizard that bit my thumb and held on as I swung him through the air. Dad had discovered him and scooped him up and handed him to me. I was wildly curious until the little bugger latched on with his nubby little teeth. Mom was pissed.

You might wonder why my interest in these chomping chameleons prevailed after that poor first impression. I do, too. But when we moved to the beach soon after our trip, I kept my eyes peeled for them. And when I was old enough to run about the yard by myself, I started catching them. I’d stalk them in the bushes, moving quietly, quietly, until THERE! There it was, squirming in my dirt-streaked fingers. My cronies—two girls who lived next door—and I would place them in habitats we’d put together in buckets, or just stroke their soft little bodies for a few seconds before letting them go. I’d watch their tails whip out of sight, a little sad to see them go.

Back then, when I was eight or nine or ten, I didn’t feel bad about snatching these creatures out of their worlds and placing them so self-assuredly into mine. I was pleased with myself. Now, I’m admittedly a little disgusted by my old pastime. It seems cruel. And, after moving north before slowly creeping south just a few years ago, I hadn’t touched one in more than a decade. Until yesterday.

I wasn’t going to do it, told myself not to, but when I saw it sunning on the deck, I couldn’t keep my hands to myself. I delicately plucked it from the railing and cradled it in my hands. The smooth, reptilian skin was a sun-baked grass green. I released my hold quickly, but the guilt pooled in my brain as its webbed toes skittered up my arm before daring to leap from my bicep to the wood. It landed with a slap and still it ran, sweeping around a balustrade. It was gone and had taken with it that twitchy, must-touch feeling. For good, I hope, but only time will tell.

I’ve seen one since then, but I let it be, I swear. After all, what could I do? Mom was standing right there.