How Did The Wooly Worm Cross The Road?

I was driving home from work the other day, and while traversing a flyover ramp getting onto the interstate, I spotted a little black and brown wooly worm.

I’m not sure why I noticed the wooly worm. As I said, I was on a flyover ramp and wooly worms are quite miniscule little creatures. But notice it I did, which led to a plethora of questions: What was he even doing there? How did he get there? Will he, in his old age as a moth, be able to regale his children and his children’s children with tales of the harrowing day he crossed the interstate when he was but a wee little child, or did he get squashed into oblivion by the BMW that was behind me on the ramp?

It later led to an “exhaustive” Google search on why wooly worms cross the road. I found a lot of information about wooly bear caterpillars, but apparently, despite the fact that it seems everyone has noticed they cross the road, nobody knows why. (Exhaustive: I looked for about three minutes and couldn’t find an answer.) Do other species of worms cross the road with the apparent frequency of wooly worms? Is this behavior not unique to wooly worms at all? I’m no naturalist, but I am fairly certain that other species of worms have decided to cross a road at one time or another, and it has gone completely unnoticed. Perhaps this is all about us, the people who notice them. Maybe we have some evolutionary quirk in our DNA that compels us to prepare for an onslaught of cold weather, and the old wives’ tale of wooly worms being able to predict the severity of the upcoming winter is so embedded into our psyches, that we subconsciously look for wooly worms in the autumn, wherever they may happen to roam.

I’m going with that. I just pulled it out of my ass, but it sounds science-y enough to be plausible.

Doom has descended upon you in the form of an eternal winter, so sayeth the wooly bear caterpillar.  (Image courtesy of hiltonpond.org)

Doom has descended upon you in the form of an eternal winter, so sayeth the wooly bear caterpillar. (Image courtesy of hiltonpond.org)

My half baked hypothesis doesn’t answer the question of why he crossed the road in the first place. So maybe WHY he crossed the road is not as important as the manner in which he crossed it. One thing I do know about wooly worms is that when they feel threatened, they curl up into a little ball. The one I observed on the flyover ramp wasn’t curled up into a ball. No, he was just inching along, in the midst of several tons of rubber, steel, and plastic, going about the business of being a wooly worm. Was he oblivious to the danger around him? Or…just maybe, he concluded that curling up into a ball was completely unproductive given his situation, and fought every single innate instinct he had, and so trudged along with all of his might to get to the other side of the ramp before SPLAT happened.

Now, I just pulled that out of my ass, too, but I’m okay going along with it.  Anthropomorphizing of wooly worms aside, only one of two things could have occurred here:  He either made it across, or he didn’t.  It is possible that, despite his best efforts, SPLAT happened.  But curling up into a ball and hiding from the situation wasn’t going to get him where he needed to be.

Hush. Utter Not Thy Simplistic, Useless Platitude.

“She plunged into a sea of platitudes, and with the powerful breast stroke of a channel swimmer made her confident way towards the white cliffs of the obvious.” –William Somerset Maugham

I loathe platitudes. Even Merriam-Webster doesn’t like them. Check this out:

Platitude: noun. A statement that expresses an idea that is not new.
1: the quality or state of being dull or insipid
2: a banal, trite, or stale remark

Banal…insipid. Ouch. In the movie Men in Black, when Agent J says, “It’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all,” Agent K responds with, “Try it.” I’m with Agent K on that one. That is really the only suitable response to a platitude that is as patently ludicrous as that one.

To be fair, not all platitudes are quite as trite and unhelpful. In the book/movie The Help, Aibileen Clark says repeatedly to little Mae Mobley, “You is smart. You is kind. You is important.” That’s pretty good stuff right there, because adorable, neglected little Mae Mobley surely wasn’t hearing anything like that from anyone else in her life. Like every other lovely turn of phrase, “You is smart. You is kind. You is important.” has exploded all over the internet. That’s not a bad thing. Being reminded once in awhile that you have value is a necessary thing for people to hear, no matter where it comes from.

There are dozens hundreds thousands of platitudes that we all have to swim through all the time. “He/She is in a better place.” “It is what it is.”  “Time heals all wounds.” They are all vastly different, said by well meaning people in various circumstances and for various reasons. They all have a few things in common though: They are all effective conversation enders. And while they are designed to be encouraging and comforting to the recipient of said platitude, they instead wind up making only the person who said it feel better–because they were uncomfortable in the face of your own discomfort and came up with something–ANYTHING–to say.

Fear not.  Time heals all wounds.  If you happen to be a lizard. (Image courtesy of dnr.wi.gov)

Fear not. Time heals all wounds. If you happen to be a lizard.
(Image courtesy of dnr.wi.gov)

“God won’t give you more than you can handle.”

Really, now? That might be the single most insidious thing a person can say to another human being who is suffering. Say that to a person who has lost a child, or been diagnosed with a terminal illness, or who has had everything they have ever loved and known stripped away from them, and has been left in a situation where they honestly don’t know what to do next. Say it, and be grateful if the person to whom you said it doesn’t respond with tangible proof of their sudden, seething inner rage in your face. Because it’s exactly like saying, “I don’t understand why you’re having such a hard time with this.”
Gee, thanks so much for heaping feelings of inadequacy on me. Would you like me to lie down so you can kick me, too?
The range of human emotion that a person goes through when life frankly sucks cannot be distilled into or turned aside by a pat little phrase. We’re messy creatures, and emotions are sloppy. The feverish, schmaltzy goo that we ooze out on a daily basis inevitably winds up on other people, even when we don’t intend for it to. Even when we try our hardest NOT to ooze.
And the thing is, it’s not even Biblical. The actual scripture is, “God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability.” It’s right there! 1 Corinthians 10:13. There is a vast difference between being tempted and having to endure large amounts of life’s suckitude. Good grief, God never promised that life would never be painful. If that’s supposed to be the case, then I want a do-over.
If life was never painful, we would never have reason to ‘bear one another’s burdens’ (Galatians 6:2). Perhaps it’s just me, but I don’t think saying, “God won’t give you more than you can handle” counts.

Leif Erikson Day Mattress Sale?

Facebook is rife with silly little personality quizzes. I have to admit that if I run across one, I will probably take it. This, despite the fact that in the back of my paranoid little brain, I am quite certain that while I am doing so, nefarious minions are chucking with evil glee while mining heaps of data. For some reason I don’t quite understand, if the opportunity presents itself to know which Disney Princess I am, I have to know. Now. It’s Belle, by the way–the bookish one. (Duh.) I’ve also learned that if I was a superhero, I would be Thor, and that if I were to live in a foreign country, it should be Denmark. I know next to nothing about Denmark, except that Shakespeare wrote once that something was rotten there, and that it is consistently ranked as one of the happiest countries in the world. It also has something to do with Vikings. Thor–the original Thor, not the comic book Thor–had something to do with Vikings, as well. Perhaps I have some bad-ass inner Viking that I’ve been neglecting.

Being so bookish, I should probably know a bit more about Thor, and Denmark, and Vikings, but my reading and research has never led me in those particular directions. I do know that the other day was Columbus Day, (a non-Viking) and a few days before that was Leif Erikson Day. (Yup, Viking. From Norway, not Denmark. Alas.) Apparently, since it has been fashionable for some time to villainize Christopher Columbus (what with the genocide and the diseases, and all…it’s really quite understandable), someone decided that we should all celebrate Leif Erikson as the real first explorer to lead Europeans into North America. Never mind that Leif Erikson day is an unofficial UNITED STATES holiday and Leif Erikson wound up somewhere in CANADA. Too add further insult and absurdity to it, Leif Erikson day falls on October 9th, which has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with his life. Rather, it is the date the first ship from Norway carrying immigrants sailed into New York Harbor.

Well, all right. It’s a hodgepodge of a holiday, for sure. Columbus Day is much more straightforward. Yeah, yeah, I know…genocide, diseases, terror, and all of that. I don’t condone it all, but hey, it happened. A long time ago. We can complain about him all we want, and it is certainly worthwhile to talk about the people that Christopher Columbus brutalized, but nothing is going to change history.  Period. Furthermore, I challenge any person to name me one country or civilization that wasn’t borne from the blood and ashes of the previous civilization. It isn’t a phenomenon that is unique to Christopher Columbus.  Or Americans.  Am I making light of a tyrant?  Probably.  I just think there are more important things to get our knickers in a twist about.

Plus, The Leif Erikson Day Mattress Sale just doesn’t have the same ring to it.

You Become The Beast You Feed

The thought occurred to me this morning that I did do in fact, have a blog.
A blog that I have ignored for nearly two years.

How did that happen?

It’s not as if I suddenly ran out of things to say. There is absolutely no shortage of things in this world to mock, and sarcasm is still my native language. I didn’t wake up one day and decide that life itself–minutia and all (okay, especially the minutia)–was not entertaining.

Or maybe I did. At any rate, I got bored. And so I stopped writing my blog.

Gradually, the time that I spent spewing out all sorts of goofiness got consumed by various other things. Some of those things were probably important at the time, and some of them were most definitely not important at all. The importance factor really doesn’t matter, though, because this blog isn’t really important. Blogs are a dime a dozen. Everyone and their brother has a blog, or a social media account, or pushes out videos on YouTube and Vine. I know, because while I can ignore all of the ‘viral’ posts on my Facebook feed, I cannot ignore Tweedledee and Tweedledum each night when they say to me, “Mom! You’ve gotta see this!” and then show me the silly videos that they think I will find amusing. Eventually, what happens is, I realize that I have spent 45 minutes standing in the kitchen looking at videos on Procatinator. (Seriously, if you value your time at all, DO NOT LOOK AT PROCATINATOR. Do not even glimpse at it. I have this theory that Armageddon will not be ushered in by four horsemen, but by cat videos. That is a subject for another day, though.  And yes, the reason that I provided a link was because I secretly want you to go there.)

This morning, before Cloudbuster left the house, he took a hold of this little book of poetry we purchased over the weekend, and read a few lines. I don’t know if I just looked at him funny, or asked him about it, but he simply said, “You become the beast you feed, right?”

Now, I’ve spent the better part of today thinking about that statement, turning it over in my head, and analyzing it nearly to death. I’ve considered it in multiple contexts and applications. “You become the beast you feed.” I’m not typically a huge fan of simple statements, but that one pretty much felt like a fist in the solar plexus, because there are times when I absolutely feed the wrong beast. It is the beast in which–among other things–being right becomes more important than grace, and my own sense of satisfaction comes at the expense of people I cherish. It’s the beast in which I forget to just enjoy my life and everything in it, and for the love of all that is holy, just stop taking life so seriously, woman! (Hey, I never claimed to be a perfect person who didn’t have a nasty beast frolicking around in there.)
Enter this silly, “unimportant blog.” In the grand scheme of things, it’s not important. But the thing is, it is. Because while musings about anvils and how to annoy loved ones at Thanksgiving are certainly not “highbrow literature,” I enjoyed writing them. I haven’t spent the past two years in a writing vacuum. I have been writing. But I don’t remember the last time I actually enjoyed doing it. I think it might be time to stop feeding that particular beast.

The Introvert Vs. The Office Party

The long dreaded day has arrived.  Oh, I’ve been talking smack this past week, and I’ve convinced myself that, not only is it “no big deal,” but that I’ve been actually looking forward to it.  But I’m overly fond of deluding myself, and now…now it’s “Go Time.”

go time

No, I’m not taking part in a marathon or some team sport where pride is on the line.  I’m not contributing a piece of writing to a publisher, or making a dessert for a party.  Today is the first of two dinner/awards thingies/holiday get-togethers with Cloudbuster’s…CO-WORKERS.  Yes, you know those little parties–the corporate shin-digs in which spouses are invited.  The ones where the two, opposing spheres of work and home collide in a fiery cataclysm of  doom.

Worlds...colliding!!!

Worlds…colliding!!!

Several weeks of ignored anxious energy has now sprung up and reared its ugly head.  For I am Spicedrop–Queen of the Introverts.

That's QUEEN of the Introverts to you, pal.

That’s QUEEN of the Introverts to you, pal.

When confronted with people I do not know, I am not a swan, gracefully gliding amongst people with beauty and charm.  I’m more like an ostrich–I stick my head in the sand.  If I don’t see them, they’re not there.  Normally this is not a huge problem.  I’m not a fan of crowds so I don’t frequent concert halls, malls on Black Friday, or anything with the word “Festival” in it.  The only exception to this rule is the St. Patrick’s Day parade, where half the crowd is already so drunk by noon that they don’t notice anything, and the other half is just HAPPY.

Now, this dude I can talk to!

Now, this dude I can talk to!

Then there is the World’s Worst Riddle–the question of “what the hell do I wear?”  These sorts of things fall into two categories:  They either have NO dress code whatsoever, or come with some mysterious demand like, “dressy casual,” requiring a frantic Google search for those of us who fall under the category of fashion-inept.  Either way, I am a frenzied wreck, dismantling the contents of my closet and rejecting every single item I own until my bedroom looks exactly like…Tweedledee’s.  Never mind that just yesterday I pretty much liked everything I had, and that these people have never seen me or the contents of my closet before.

What?  Is this too much??

What? Too much??

It might not be so bad, but this Queen of the Introverts is married to the King of the Extroverts.  He’s a talker.  A crowd worker.  Never met a person with whom he cannot find something interesting to discuss.  He’s a “mingler,” whose seemingly innocent request of, “let’s mingle,” invokes apprehension and dread in my heart.  I’ll tag along–more accurate is that he will drag me along–while I mumble, “Duh, duh, duh, nice to meet you, duh, duh, duh…” until I find the nearest chair and collapse into it, thankful that THAT round is over.

Duh...duh...duh...

Duh…duh…duh…

I’ll seek out the other introverts and try to strike up a conversation with one, because it seems to be the safest course of action.  We’re an easy lot to spot, after all.  Just find the other person hanging out on the sidelines.  The one who is not saying a whole lot, but has a pleasant grimace smile plastered on her face.

Wrong grimace.

Wrong grimace.

And then, after hours of social anxiety has reigned supreme, on the ride home in the safety and isolation of our own vehicle, I will think of all the witty and charming things I could have said.

And then I’ll have to do it again.  Cue the ostrich.

Hey, cool, there's a book down here...

Hey, cool, there’s a book down here…

O Christmas Tree, Much Pleasure Dost Thou Bring Me!

This past weekend, Cloudbuster and I had the same conversation that we have every year around this time.  It’s tradition, after all, and it just wouldn’t feel like Christmas without some version of the following words being spoken:

Spicedrop:  Can we get a fake tree this year?

Cloudbuster:  No.

Spicedrop:  Can we at least go to a tree lot?  The boy scouts have one just–

Cloudbuster:  No.

Spicedrop:  Fine.  Then can we at least make sure our tree doesn’t look like a huge green Grimace this year?

Cloudbuster:  Hey, you picked that one out.

Let me be clear right now that I do not have any sort of problem with real Christmas trees.  Okay, except for the needles dropping and getting embedded in the carpet underneath…and getting pine pitch in my hair when I crawl under the tree to check the water level in the stand…and the irrational fear that one or both of my dogs will hike up a leg and pee on this most coniferous symbol of Yuletide Joy.

Other than those things, I have no problem with real Christmas trees.

Each year, we go to a Christmas Tree lot, hack down a defenseless pine, tag it, bag it, and throw it in the back of the truck.  Last year, we got this monstrosity of a tree that stuck out way into the middle of the room.  This tree had a trunk so thick that we broke our Christmas tree stand and had to run down and get a new one right away.  And yes, a few years ago, we got a grand and glorious white pine that did indeed look like a ginormous green version of Grimace.

Some years we have to hack off part of the bottom because what we wind up bringing home is far too tall for the ceiling in the family room.  After Cloudbuster and I finagle the tree into the stand, we proceed to wrap it in strings of lights, at which point we have the other conversation that must be had every year:

Spicedrop: I think that’s enough lights.

Cloudbuster:  No.  We need one more.

Spicedrop:  You could land small aircraft by that thing.

Cloudbuster:  It needs one more string.

I don’t belabor the point, because by now, I have circled the tree 834 times, following him as I hold the string of lights and feed it to him as he shoves it all willy nilly into the branches gently and methodically considers the perfect placement of the lights on the tree. I’m simply too dizzy to argue.

We toss our bizarre assortment of ornaments onto the tree, and finally, we have the last great debate concerning the Christmas Tree for the season:  the debate on whether or not it is a “star tree” or an “angel tree.”  More often than not, it’s an “angel tree,” in a last ditch effort to make whatever sorry sack of needles we’ve brought home at least appear triangular.

At this point, at the coronation of the Christmas angel, I will invariably make a crude comment concerning the top branch of the tree and the posterior end of the poor, poor angel who sits on top.  Hey, it’s tradition.

And when it is all over, we plug in the tree, turn out the rest of the lights, and ooh and ahh over the joyous display.  After all, we’ve picked out the PERFECT tree.

Why I Am A Horrible Book Club Host

I have a book club meeting tonight.

I host our meetings at my house.  In order to prepare for tonight’s meeting, I have cleaned a little bit, I’ve got a bottle of white wine chilling in the refrigerator and a bottle of red on the counter. I’ve made some appetizer-type snacks, which will no doubt pale in comparison to the other goodies brought by the lovely and intelligent ladies I have the privilege of meeting and discussing books with each month.

I’ve located my crazy assortment of wine glasses, some plates, and napkins.  Later on, I will dig out a couple of extra chairs in case we have a full house this evening.  If the thanks I receive for hosting this shin-dig each month are any indication, I have no problem in getting my hospitality groove on.

In fact, I think I have done just about everything…

Everything, that is, except FINISH THE BOOK.