Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Lethargarians

My Saturday reminds me of a scene from "The Phantom Tollbooth", when Milo meets the Lethargarians and they tell him how they spend their time.

"Well, if you can't laugh or think, what can you do?" asked Milo."Anything as long as it's nothing, and everything as long as it isn't anything," explained another. "There's lots to do; we have a very busy schedule"At 8 o'clock we get up, and then we spend."From 8 to 9 daydreaming."From g to 9:30 we take our early midmorning nap."From 9:30 to 10:30 we dawdle and delay."From 10:30 to 11:30 we take our late early morning nap."From 11:00 to 12: 00 we bide our time and then eat lunch."From 1:00 to 2:00 we linger and loiter."From 2: 00 to 2:30 we take our early afternoon nap."From 2:30 to 3:30 we put off for tomorrow what we could have done today."From 3:30 to 4: 00 we take our early late afternoon nap."From 4: 00 to 5: 00 we loaf and lounge until dinner."From 6: 00 to 7: 00 we dillydally."From 7:00 to 8:00 we take our early evening nap, and then for an hour before we go to bed at 9:00 we waste time."As you can see, that leaves almost no time for brooding, lagging, plodding, or procrastinating, and if we stopped to think or laugh, we'd never get nothing done.""You mean you'd never get anything done," corrected Milo."We don't want to get anything done," snapped another angrily; "we want to get nothing done, and we can do that without your help.""You see," continued another in a more conciliatory tone, "it's really quite strenuous doing nothing all day, so once a week we take a holiday and go nowhere, which was just where we were going when you came along. Would you care to join us?""I might as well," thought Milo; "that's where I seem to be going anyway."

That was Saturday. It must be the new pills, because not only did I spend most of the day in bed (as I'm meant to -- when you take away sitting and standing that's pretty much all that remains), it was all I really felt like doing. I plowed through the book, which I love, though I'm coming to the end and I'm not ready to finish it. So I'm making it last by reading other things along the way -- mostly food magazines and a couple of news and political weeklies. For some reason this pattern -- making the book last longer, stretching it out -- reminds me of Hamburger Helper. Must be the economy, but I'm seeing their commercials for the first time in a long time.

When I read I tend to keep the TV on with the volume very low, and I watched the President's healthcare rally in Minneapolis. When the coverage was over I discovered a strangely compelling show on MTV: "World's Strictest Parents." I don't know if the show is new or old, popular or not, but something about it drew me in and I watched a few episodes where truly difficult and intractable kids were sent away for a week to stay with families whose home lives are characterized by structure and discipline. There's a heavy dose of religion in the families who take in the teens, at least in the 2 episodes I've seen, which is unsurprising and makes the culture clash even starker.

We played a few games, but not until late in the day. Nick did a lot of work in the morning and took care of shopping in the afternoon, then we both did the de rigeur cleaning before our potential buyers arrived at 6:30. Very nice Chinese couple, asked the right questions, but we'll see.

Today is even less ambitious than yesterday. We've got people coming at noon but that's it. All the errands and cleaning are done. The day lies ahead, pretty much uninterrupted ("Let us go then you and I, while the night is spread out against the sky, like a patient etherised upon a table." - TS Eliot.)

I've been up a while; the pain woke me at about 4 and I couldn't get back to sleep. I stayed in bed as long as I could -- til about 5 -- then got out quietly so as not to wake Nick (though needless to say I managed to wake Holly.) I returned emails from friends (thanks Wendy, Thomas, Sara, Sarah, and while I'm on the subject thanks for your cards and calls and emails Gena, Lamia, Ellen, Pam, work people and family.) Holly's now been barking for a half-hour, but Nick is still in bed, though he'll be up any second.

While we're on the subject of Holly, she is a source of endless amusement. Last night Nick dropped -- and she retrieved -- a cherry tomato, which she played with for what seemed like a half hour. She rolled it, held it in her mouth, spit it out whole, stalked it, and chased it. She treated it the same way she treats a large ant or a cricket -- she torments her prey before she devours it. The tomato didn't put out too much resistance. She's a paper tiger anyway -- brave and bold inside her corral in the yard or inside the house; timid and terrified when she's on the leash. Afraid not only of other dogs but her newest phobia is a tipped-over trash can. Nick thinks it must look to her like an enormous open mouth. That would explain it (though I'm not sure he can come up with the creative reasoning to explain the rest of her new-found fears.)

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