The Morbid Ballet of Cricket Death

Imagine, if you will, a one and a half-ish foot-long lizard perched jauntily on a nicely detailed fake branch, being served wriggling crickets by a humble human. He is a vibrant array of cool jungly colors: several shades of bright green, dark brown bands on sides and tail, and a shock-white belly. Sooty black rings strange eyes and streaks back to strange ears, sky blue blurs on jaws and cheeks, pinks and purples tinge sectioned lips, and the throat - like darkened jewels - shifts from midnight blue to royal purple to magenta to forest green to black to red, and back again. And the tongue is an orangey-pink sticky lump, and faster than the human eye.

The human, a punk-haired young woman with a stuffy nose, sits in a chair next to the open sliding glass door of the lizard's cage, calcium-dusted cricket bag in one hand and sneezing cricket on the other. She rests the cricket-hand just inside the cage, right in front of the lizard, who with what can only be deemed lizardy glee, cocks his head one side, then the other, opens his strange yellow mouth, sticks his glob of a tongue partway out, shifts his head from left to right a bit to get the proper angle and then — BLAT! The tongue splats onto the cricket (and partially onto the human's hand) and sluuurrps it backward into the waiting jaws faster than the fastest blink. And then the crunching begins.

The human giggles and hands the lizard another cricket. This one leaps off her hand and into the cage, and the lizard scuttles forward and blats it up, then scuttles back into place in front of The Hand Of The Big Thing, awaiting another wriggly-legged morsel. This morbid ballet lasts all of about fifteen minutes as the lizard gleefully chews down approximately thirty dusty crickets and the occasional fruit bite. The human has giggled much, and laughed outright a few times when the lizard-after-a-cricket's antics brought him surging up onto her hand in a desperate (though succesful) attempt to glomp up a wayward insect intent on running up the human's wrist and onto her arm. Crickets gone, the lizard peers up at the human, and the human peers down at the lizard, and a silent 'thank-you' and 'you're-welcome' ensues. The lizard sits, too full to move, as the human closes the door to the cage, crooks a fond finger at him, and leaves.

The lizard, almost wobbling - if reptiles can wobble - drags his full belly onto the nearby hotrock and closes his strange eyes in contentment.

This is Heironymous, my not-quite-juvenile, not-quite-adult Chinese Water Dragon. We call him Harry for short, which goes better with the googley-eyed black fancy goldfish named Fred who resides on a kitchen counter. Harry is, hands down, the coolest lizard I've ever had. And that's really saying something, since the Savannah Monitor I once had named Gabriel would literally throw himself at the glass at the front of the cage and slide sideways back down, scrabble at the glass a bit, then heave himself up again only to slide down again, and scrabble again, all in a strangely heartwarming attempt to get me to hold him so he could sleep on my chest. He was desperate for my attention, and would not STOP throwing himself at me through the glass until I either left the room or gave in. Harry doesn't particluarly enjoy being held, but as long as I'm not actually holding ONTO him but rather holding him up, he puts up with it. And I think that he, like Gabriel, enjoys having his strange little ear-holes scratched.

Harry's tongue, when his aim is just a bit off and he blats my hand as well as a cricket or fruit bite, feels like a lot like those disgusting little sticky octopus toys that I loved so much as a kid; you know, the ones that you can throw at the wall and they stick to it, and gravity causes them to slowly "walk" down the wall. Or refrigerator. Or TV. Or whatever. I'm sure Mama Wren has many fond stories of finding the gross little things lying at the foot of damn near every vertical surface in the house at some point or other when I was a toddler.

*Sheepish grin* Sorry, Mom.

Harry is the only lizard I've ever had that I can feed by hand. I am endlessly amused by this, and really do end up giggling and laughing out loud. Yes, I know. I'm strange. But Harry encourages it, eagerly blatting up crickets and fruit bites. He even came running full out from the other side of his cage the other day when I put fresh fruit bites and cut up grapes in his food bowl. I giggled so much I fell into a fit of coughing (I'm getting over a cold) and scared him.

The Morbid Ballet of Cricket Death described above was the highlight of my Saturday. The rest of the day consisted of cleaning, organizing, folding, putting away, re-organizing, and coughing. The apartment is finally set up the way I want, with the exception of the computer and I think a box or three still at Mama Wren's nest. I've been battling whatever cold-bug that's been going around here for the last several days, and was stayed home from work a couple days last week. During those days I rested until I couldn't stand the thought of lying down another minute, then unpacked and cleaned as much as my cold would allow. I get weak when I'm sick- I went over to Mama Wren's to get the last of our stuff and had to settle for two bags of bed stuff and towels and two crates holding my Windstone Dragons (if you are a dragon lover and have not laid eyes on a Windstone Dragon, by the gods, DO!) After hefting just those four things up the steep driveway, I was beat. I sat with Mama Wren and talked for a bit, got a Mom-hug (those are great for getting over colds) and went on my weary way. The thought of resting was beginning to regain it's appeal by that time, and upon arriving home I promptly left everything in my car, trudged into the apartment and slept for another two hours. With tissue stuffed up my left nostril to keep from waking up later with a puddle of snot in my ear.

*Sigh* Colds suck.

I'm mostly over it now, with only residual coughing and sore nostrils to hint that anything's wrong. Otherwise, I feel great. Although our apartment is small, we've managed to make it look nice, and kept it as roomy as we can where we can. Harry's cage is in the kitchen's tiny dining area, with the table pushed right up against it to double as my drawing area and a preparation surface for cooking. The kitchen really is the most cramped part, but the boy and I are managing. We discovered quickly that only one of us at a time will fit in it, so we take turns cooking and such, and out of sheer necessity, I have transformed in a little over one week from someone who did the dishes only when they were so piled up in the sink that I couldn't get a drink of water to someone who does the dishes almost as soon as I'm done eating off them. Mom, pick your jaw up off the floor- I think I'm even more suprised by it than you! *grin*

We're getting down to the details now: where to hang this picture, where to put that poster, would this candle look better over here or over there? I'm also realizing how horribly misleading those little bath and shower gift sets really are. They seem so convenient when you need to buy someone a present at the last minute- why not get them this cute little bow-tied and lace-frilled package with shower gel, body lotion, bath salt, body scrubber, body buffer, foot massager, sparkling leg spray, compact mirror, three different scented candles and an adorable carrying case for the whole damn mess?

I've recieved so many of those atrocities throughout the years that I'm throwing away bath stuff that I received eight years ago and never used. Hell, I never needed to use it- I had a good six or seven years' worth of bath stuff to scrub and sniff through already at that point, and it didn't end there. And now, even after Mama Wren and I went through the hall closet at her nest before I moved and threw away a good two-thirds of the stuff in it that we never used and didn't need, I still have too much of it. I kept only the stuff that I really actually liked- the more natural sounding stuff like Mandarin Orange body lotion versus Peppermint-Pinstripe Holliday Jingle-Bell Shower Gel (ooooh, and it's magenta-tinted), and I'll be filling up another garbage bag tonight with some of the stuff that I like but have no room for. If anyone gets me a bath set for my birthday this year, there will be blood. Just a happy little warning...

So the place is - mostly - presentable. We had one of the boy's work buddies and said buddy's girlfriend over for a little while last night, and my bestest friend is in town this weekend and will hopefully be stopping by for a while today after I'm off work. Then, probably this upcoming weekend, Mama and Papa Wren will get to see the place, and Grandma's been chomping at the bit to see it, rumor tells. We have a Sunday dinner date with the boy's parents and younger sister, and after that I think the housewarming will be done, and certainly the last little bit of the unpacking and putting away will be done and it will, finally, be home.

I am, simply, happy.

Are you really a nudist if it's 3 a.m.?

Tomorrow's The Big Day. Funny how up until today I couldn't wait and now I'm thinking, "Oh come on, just one more day to get shit packed!" Ah well. Tonight will be busy with boxes and tape. Again.

And now that I've gone over and over all the wonderfulness that is involved n this move, what really sticks with me is:
Now when I have to wake up at night to go to the bathroom, I won't have to get dressed - head to toe - just in case mom or dad is still up and about, thereby coming more fully awake than I would if all I had to do was roll out of bed and stumble around a bit.

Geez, am I lazy, or what?

Leaving the nest

In less than one week, I'll be living in my own place. Thursday's the day- the boy and I will be cramming boxes and bed and TV and lizard cage and all into the back of a U-Haul and carting it off to a new home. Our home.
It's exciting and alien at the same time to think already of this new place as HOME. I've lived so long in the mountains among trees that whisper in the wind and earth that springs into fresh scent in the rain, that the seven-mile-down-the-hill difference will be a bit unnerving at first. Granted, there are trees and such at the new place as well - it's not really that much of a difference - but there's more cement, too. More asphalt and metal and plastic and cars and noise and traffic. It's nothing compared to, say, L.A. or New York, but there's a discernable difference between here and there.
Being amountain girl, I want to see mountains, not buildings, when I look out the window. I 'll get over it, I'm sure, but it's a little ... disquieting ... to know that it will take me half an hour now to drive up to my favorite lake, instead of fifteen minutes, and that one hundred yards from my front door will lead me to a busy business street rather than a nice back-country road lined in silence and green. The nature-lover in me shivers a bit.
I'll have to plant a rose, or some such, by the front door.
Foliage-qualms aside, I actually couldn't be happier. Don't get me wrong, I love Mama Wren, and Papa Wren is fun to play Sorry with, but it's time. It's been time for along while now, but I didn't have the funds or, truth be told, real motivation, to get out on my own before. It was always easier to bitch about things in the comfort of my rent-free, on-the-spot-laundry, free-internet digs, than to serisouly consider trying for my own. I guess you could say I'm a late-bloomer.
Now that things are set in motion, set in stone and very quickly coming together, I feel a sort of giddiness, a kind of bubbling of the soul, at the thought that, "I'm really doing this. I'm really stepping forward, making aBIG decision and leap in my life." I feel like giggling, like jumping up and down and squealing out somthing silly like, "Wheeeeheehehehehehoooohohoaahaaahahahaaaaaa!!!" Or something. maybe a simple "squeeee!" Like alittle girl who finally got not just a pony for christmas, but a friggin' unicorn - and it speaks and tells the most wonderful stories.
I feel like a little kid.
Mama Wren and I went out and about yesterday, visiting relatives, having lunch, and at the end of it she bought me brand new silverwar with kick-ass curls at the ends, two frying pans (one pale blue, one brownish-crimson) and a salt and pepper shaker set (bamboo), fot the apartment. Just so I'd have something new in my new place. In my new life. Then we came home and I spent several hours packing up kitchen stuff, and the whole time I felt giddy. And as soon as I get home from work today, I'll be packing even more, and somehow that's not depressing.
Everybody bitches about moving, but I'm too caught up in that "squeeee" to feel grumpy or put-upon. I suppose that might change on Thursday, when all my careful packing needs to be unpacked and everything put away, but for now I'm thrilled. Sure, sure- the next move, whebever that ma be, I'll probably be bitching right alng with everyone else, but for now, for this first real move, I feel alive.
Is it odd to be more concerned about where I'll put all my books than about the lack of a dishwasher? I am, after all, a modern girl, and for many more years than I care to rememberm there's always been a dishwasher. Not when I was a kid, but hey- I was a kid, I didn't care then. I rarely washed dishes then, and when I did it was fun because it was usually when I was at a friend's house or had a friend over, and the kitchen would consequently end up as wet and soapy as the dishes, if not more so. It's that hose-thing with the sprayer on it. C'mon- who can resist the urge to squirt a friend with it while doing the dishes? I mean, it's so convenient, hooked up to the water supply, and well, it's right there...
I think the boy would be smart to avoid the kitchen at dishwashing time. (Evil, wicked grin.)
Ahhh. 3:55. Time to shut down the computer, feed the fish, and head home. Tomorrow's paper is being printed and my work is done.
I have boxes at home, waiting to be packed.


EDIT: Forgive the typos- I'm smarter than I type, really. My fingers just can't keep up with my brain sometimes. Ok, a lot of the time...

Tell me a story

Sometimes, when the rain is heavy and the day already dark and fading, the road beneath the tires disappears. It's a pretty trick: black under black isn't there. At times like these, but for the sounds of wet tires on wet asphalt, I could almost think that I was flying. And in those seconds right after another car passes going the other way, and I'm temporarily blinded, my imagination soars, again.

I become then, fleetingly, a warrior-fighter-pilot in a fast spaceship, small, just enough room for me and the rations and ammo I need, speeding slick through the blackness of space with a cool smile, shoulders back and head down, oh so slightly, like a bull savoring the view before the charge. And I'm all alone and for once it's ok to be that way; the warrior-fighter-pilot has no room for love, no room for sadness or any happiness other than the feel of the controls, trusty and comforting, in her hands.

Or I am an elven scout, riding dragonback through a storm, seeking something dreadfully important and always tanatalizingly just out of sight. My steed is calm despite the howling wind, shearing through black clouds like a burning sword through snow, and the sweet rolling movement of wings does not move me in my throne-saddle, and I sit, quiet and watching, Queen of the Sky with her cherished companion.

And in those quick quiet black seconds, before vision returns to show me just another rain-slicked country road, I'm happy.

It's those little escapes, you see, that make life worth living. Being able - for a few moments, a few hours - to get away from what you know and to be or experience something new, brings a sweet peacefulness to an otherwise ragged day. And it's not merely my imagination that brings those escapes, that's the wonderful thing; it's books, and good movies, and journals and long talks.

It's stories, see.

I love stories- reading them, seeing them, hearing them, thinking them. And the best kind of stories are those that people tell about their lives; all the little things, and the really big things, and the things they think no one else could possibly care about but treasure themselves for sentimental, sappy, silly reasons. Humor and tragedy and lessons learned, love and hate and joy and grief; those are the things that make life worth living. And it's the experience of living through another's memories that puts one's own life into perspective; in escaping your own life in a story, you take back with you at the end some bit of wisdom, though you may not always know it right away.

Sometimes the wisdom you take with you is profound, and sometimes it's merely a reminder; a new way of understanding something you already know.

Both are sacred.

And, it's fun. It's an intimate moment of sharing, storytelling. It's a coming together and a touching of spirits that nothing compares to. Whether you're gathered around a campfire or separated by miles and electronic connections, the spirits merge for the time that the story is told. You're allowed, invited, into someone else's world - their head, their heart - with no promise of anything but that sharing, and you go in, anxious and happy and alive, and through the words and images they conjure, the storyteller and the audience and the story all merge and reality, for a time, fades away to whitenoise.

I want to find old journals and read them late at night, a cup of hot chai tea at hand, purring drooling cat in my lap, and lights low. I want to find old photo albums, flip through them slowly, read the descriptions and imagine what it was like at each particular time and place captured on film. I want to sit with a complete stranger, at a coffee shop or bus stop, say, and hear the stories of their glory days that everyone else they know has heard too many times.

I want to know about the simple things and the complex things, and the simple made complex and vice versa; I want to hear about the chance meetings that changed lives and the sudden realizations that make you stop dead in your tracks, stunned, and rethink your mood and morals and motives, even if just for that day.

I want to hear the jokes. I want to hear the whispered confessions. I want to hear the laughter.

I want that sacred merging of two spirits; I want to learn and laugh and come away a better person for the gifts given in that merging.

I want to hear stories.

Tell me a story, dear friend, and I'll tell one in return. Tell me a story, and, for a brief time, let's merge, and learn, and simply be alive in the whitenoise of everyday life.