Kana's Chronicles

Life in Kana-text (er… CONtext)

If you have ever joked that you’re “in danger of becoming a Cat Lady,” well… I’m sorry—you probably already ARE one!

But in case you’re still uncertain, I’m happy to offer this handy scoring system:

Cat Lady? Who, ME??

#1: PHOTOS. You might be a Cat Lady if…

…you’re thinking of writing a “cat lady” post and go looking for photos to accompany it and realize that more than half the pictures on your phone involve your cats. +3 C.L. points.

  • Additionally… +2 C.L. points if this is true even though you also have human children.
  • +1 C.L. point if you can reach that “half-the-pictures mark” only counting your pictures of SLEEPING cats.
  • Oh, and let’s not forget… +1 C.L. point if you are (do you hear yourself??) thinking about writing a “cat lady” post! (As we say in A.A.: “normal” drinkers don’t spend time wondering whether they might be alcoholics. In other words: If you’ve asked the question...)

#2: BUDGET. You might be a Cat Lady if…

…you haven’t paid for TV channels in a decade, but you have multiple birdfeeders (a.k.a. “KITTY CABLE“) in front of your window and purchase birdseed in eighty-pound installments. +3 C.L. points.

  • Additionally… +1 C.L. point if the UPS man secretly hates you for your quarter-ton monthly shipments of cat litter and cat food.
  • +1 C.L. point if you have ever uncovered more than two dozen cat toys by moving a single piece of furniture.
  • +1 C.L. point if you hang and fill a Christmas stocking specifically for a cat.
  • BONUS: +2 C.L. points if anyone outside your household has ever wrapped and shipped a Christmas gift to your cat.
cat birdfeeder

#3: BATHROOM & BEDROOM. You might be a Cat Lady if…

…you close the bathroom door not for privacy, but because a cat climbing your legs is more painful when your pants are down, and/or because a cat likes to pop up through the leg-hole of your panties to comment. +4 C.L. points.

  • +1 C.L. point if an industrial outdoor storage-tote serves as your litter box.
  • +2 C.L. points if your husband has actually constructed a tiled enclosure in your bathroom to contain said box and prevent the litter from getting kicked out all over the bathroom floor.
cat in a drawer
kittens and books
  • +1 C.L. point if you regularly find cats playing “hockey” in the shower with your hairclip / dental floss / chapstick / phone charger / prescription bottle / [fill-in-this-blank-with-literally-ANYTHING]
  • +1 C.L. point if the “other woman”—you know, the one sharing your husband’s pillow—is purring when she does so.
  • +1 C.L. point if your love-life may have sacrificed a smidge of spontaneity thanks to the prerequisite herding-everyone-out-of-the -bedroom.
  • +3 C.L. points if you and your spouse sleep together quite comfortably in a Full-size, but you recently bought a larger bed solely because you had insufficient room for the CATS.

#4: NOTORIETY. You might be a Cat Lady if…

…yours is the town’s most heavily-trafficked Foster Home used by the local shelter for harboring “found” kittens until they’re adoptable. +5 C.L. points.

  • +1 C.L. point if you have ever had more than a dozen foster kittens in the house at once.
  • +1 C.L. point if you have become the person folks call when they’re thinking about cat-doption, and you have used your fostering to “test drive” kittens and match up half a dozen friends with THEIR current cats.
  • +1 C.L. point if your neighbors know your indoor cats from their window-appearances, and/or if someone in your neighborhood has given you a “Cat Lover” mug.
  • +1 C.L. point if your mother emails you cat-related comics at least once a week.
  • +1 C.L. point if you have ever been handed a bag of cat treats by someone whose name you don’t even know.
handfuls of kittens
This is what you might call a “Cat Lady Starter-Kit”…

#5: YOU MUST ADMIT. You are most certainly a cat lady if…

  • +1 C.L. point …if you sometimes know a kitty’s name the minute you meet it, and you know you’ll be keeping it even though you’ve SWORN you wouldn’t have more than [fill-in-this-blank with the number of cats you currently own]. (Exhibit A, Cat #4: Yoda, on the left. More than 50 kittens came through our house this spring—but THIS one was instantly mine! Also, instantly “Yoda.” Exhibit B, Cat #5: Footprint, below. Due to his weird ability to turn off his bones, we also refer to him as “kitty putty”…)
  • +1 C.L. point …if you don’t even flinch when you step on a mouse in the dark because you know there are probably at least eight dozen toy mice stashed around the house.
shampooing a cat
  • (BONUS: +1 C.L. point if you still don’t flinch when you realize the next morning it was an ACTUAL mouse’s head, because all you can think is: “What kind of crazy-ass, kamikaze moron of a mouse ventures into THIS house??”)
  • +1 C.L. point …if you have ever glanced down at your clothing in public and blurted the horrified exclamation: “I’m wearing my CAT!”
  • +1 C.L. point …if you keep a pump-dispenser of Johnson & Johnson no-tears baby shampoo right beside the pump-dispenser of Dawn at your kitchen sink, specifically for the purpose of washing CATS.
  • +1 C.L. point …if you habitually tip out your shoes before putting them on, because one of them is invariably hiding a toy mouse deposited by a CAT.
  • +1 C.L. point …if you and your spouse habitually refer to one another around the house as “Mommy” and “Daddy” when your only shared children are CATS.
  • BONUS: +2 C.L. points if you “do VOICES” for the cats!
  • BONUS PLUS: +3 C.L. points if you have your SPOUSE doing voices for the cats!
  • (No points for talking TO the cats, by the way. That one’s such a no-brainer it’s a freebie.)

Ready to score your quiz? Out of the 50 possible points…

hissing cat siamese
Who needs emojis? CAT faces say it so much better!

Fine. You may call me Cat Lady.

In the years since Jon married me, I’ve lost count of the number of people who have apologized for swearing around me. Ironic, really, because in the years before marrying Jon I had a serious, Pirate-Sized Potty Mouth. (He never chided me for my language—but my F-bombs suddenly felt disrespectful around someone whose outcries in adversity never exceeded “Son of a Biscuit!”)

Now, because they don’t hear me use them, people assume obscenities offend me—when truthfully I’m merely saving them for situations that REALLY call for that level of emphasis. All that said, I have one word to pronounce today:

HALLEFUCKINLUJAH!

I have never talked government stuff here—there’s no tag in my cloud for Politics—but this morning’s Relief encompasses so much more than just Government. And (as a bonus) for the first time in my life, the Electoral College vote purporting to represent me actually reflected my Actual Vote! It only took a move from my native Idaho to Oregon… The Electoral College stupidness is a another whole rant—but since I don’t talk Politics here <wink>

How’s THAT for a strong finish? Thus ended my first book.

Back when “book” meant folded sheets of gradeschool writing paper (blue dotted lines to guide the letter-heights) stapled within a construction-paper cover, illustrated ala Crayola. Come to think of it, “Annie Ant” also became my first published work—-a result of living in a town so small that its news-starved local paper printed the contest-winning, 12-sentence text of a first grader’s “novel.”

My seven-year-old self suffered from no excess of modesty—and so, as easily as that, I assumed my place as A Writer. Not even doubting my right to the title. By Third Grade my self-published works included “Other-Books-by-this-Author” pages. (Not even joking.)

Through all the permutations of things-I-want-to-be, and four decades’ worth of things-I’ve-BEEN, “Writer” remains firmly embedded in the mix.

HOWEVER. The rapid story-wind-up I quoted above does point to a detestable Deficiency in my Practice. I skimp on Editing. No, let me be even more shamefully specific: I am LAZY about Editing.

Annie Ant” shot its wad in the set-up: a girl (named for myself, naturally) found an orphaned ant and named her and carried her around and made her a house from a shoebox and then… “She went to school and stuff like that until she died.” Wait, what?! I mean… I know First Grade didn’t cover “story arc” or anything—but that there is just plain LAZY storytelling.

mug with pens
Printed & ready to Edit…

This week I set myself the task of EDITING my own unfinished novel. For reals this time. Printed pages and actual red pen and all.

Five pages in, sufficiently horrified by how MUCH red pen they required, I admitted to myself that I’ve read those same pages several dozen times without improving anything. Lazy. If I’m not willing to make the most of what I actually write, I may as well just slap a wrap-up on the back end and call it done.

(Oh, I have a good one: “And stuff like that until she died!”)

I should get back to Editing.

Junior High Journalism class first impressed the term “White Space” on my mind.

In the context of a yearbook page, it’s just what it sounds like: the portions of page with nothing printed. But White Space took on a life of its own as we created layouts arranged around the White Space Statutes as stated by our instructor. Mr. Bromley (bless him!—the man who put Jane Austen in my hands! ) laid down Layout Law… almost all of which revolved around what one could (or couldn’t!) do with White Space.

For example. Never “trap” White Space in the interior—it always needs an “escape.” Which pretty much means you don’t want a boxed-in block of EMPTY in the middle of your page. Like what I’m doing here: THIS is what you never do. The emptiness in the middle of the page draws the eye away from the content it’s meant to be looking at.

trapped white space diagram

At the time my 14-year-old mind never pondered the prospect of being trapped BY White Space. But I am recognizing it now: White Space has never had a consideration for MY rights on a par with the efforts I have made on behalf of ITS freedom all these decades…

Nothing paralyzes my brain more quickly than a blank page.


A blank screen.


A blank whiteboard.


colored pens and pencils

Case in point: I opened the screen for this post over the weekend, and let it loom in all its BLANKNESS for two days while I tinkered with themes and photos and settings on the blog, all the while studiously ignoring this one browser tab. [Can I call it “studious” when I’m NOT attending to it?]

I’m certainly not the only writer with this particular hang-up, though I maybe carry it to extremes. As I do with most things. I think it’s why I gravitate so strongly to color. I’m no artist, but on my desk I keep mugs full of rainbowed pens, pencils, highlighters, oil pastels, brush markers, Post-its.

I paper my planners with stickers and doodles, color-code my lists, collage my office door with cards and decals, decorate my desk with washi tape, paint with stencils on my wooden furniture.

You won’t even find a white wall in my house. I have vanished every one of them, so WHITE SPACE never overshadows me.

If you think that takes a literary conceit a little far, well, I just won’t invite you to sleep in my turquoise guest room.

Truthfully, I wasn’t thinking of pages when I painted. But also truthfully: White Space traps me if I let it.

And MOST truthfully: I recognize the only true escape from the empty page… WRITING on it.

white board writer's notes
The only “White Space” left in the house: my office closet door…

Two years ago on an August evening, an unknown Oregon number rang my Idaho cell, and I picked up the call that changed EVERYTHING. Jon and I were agitating to get out of Boise, which has outgrown itself —-wanting to move closer to the Coast, somewhere small-town, more like Idaho used to be… (When I was growing up there weren’t a million people in the state! Now they’re approaching a million in the Boise valley.) Jon, who’d been a mechanic at the same mom-and-pop shop for 27 years, was searching job postings all over Oregon, while I drew a radius around every Home Depot to which I might transfer…

Girl Boss mug

Over and over, my life has proven that GOD is a better planner than KANA. (I write that sentence with a sulky frown, because I’ve considered myself a brilliant planner, thankyouverymuch!)

And so it was that despite all our lists, maps, searches, and phone calls, it was this call-from-the-blue that revealed the real plan for our exodus:

“Is there any chance you’d be interested in managing an RV park in Pendleton, Oregon?”

Why HELL YES, since you ask!

We had chosen to live on wheels for just this reason. Everything we owned was in that fifth wheel—so we could just roll up shop and roll down the road! (That’s it just below: ALL Our Stuff, driving down the road.)

RV toyhauler rear Grand Design Momentum

We gave notice at our respective jobs, bid farewell to our Church, my AA Home Group, Jon’s folks and brothers, my teenage daughter, our friends of decades… And exactly 19 days after answering that phone call, we were Pendleton residents: registered to vote in Umatilla County and proud holders of Oregon drivers’ licenses (though I have literally had a mug shot that looked better than this photo).

DONE!

Now here’s the thing. There wasn’t a written Position Description at that time, but we had a pretty solid idea of what we were taking on. We’d lived in an RV (and an RV park) for our entire marriage, I’d worked in the RV park office for several years, and Jon had moonlighted on the maintenance staff in the summers. So it’s, you know… you keep the grass mowed and laundry machines running, manage the reservations and help people park, sell ice and laundry quarters, pump propane, make bank deposits and do the paperwork, pick the best staff you can from whoever is living in the park… stuff like that.

And indeed, when I ended up writing the Position Description a year later, it was full of stuff-like-that. “Reviewing and updating the Park’s legal and operational documents (renter application, rental agreement, park rules, employee handbook, employee contract, etc.) and staying apprised of applicable changes in state and local laws“… You get the drift. And yes, that’s all stuff we have to do.

But here’s what’s NOT in the Position Description—-not even the one I wrote myself. Because some of this shit just has nowhere to fit in a document like that. Snake Charmer, for example? What heading would you put that under? It’s a thing. In the summer we get bull snakes strolling through from the open adjacent fields—-looking enough like rattlers to spook our East-coast guests, and terrorizing poor Bob, who lives here and doesn’t care that they’re not venomous. Periodically I get a call from Bob, barricaded with his little dog inside his motorcoach, under siege by a bull snake lounging beneath his steps—-so Jon jogs over to take it by the tail and swing it back over the fence.

The ACTUAL Job Title Should Include…

The reality of this job is some crossbred chimera of… House Mother. Building Super. Narco. Concierge. Groundskeeper. Zookeeper. Safety Inspector. Sponsor. Hostess. Personal Shopper. Newspaper Reporter. Driving Instructor. Postmistress. Social Worker. Tech Support. Marriage Counselor. Emergency Services. Landlord. Mediator. Plow Driver. Plumber. Ditch-Digger. Electrician. Traffic Cop. Crew Boss. Legal Advisor. Neighborhood Watch. Marketing Manager. Trainer. Travel Agent. And maybe Tiny-Town-Mayor. (Or Tiny-Country-Dictator?—-there’s really not another branch of government in play here.) Plus, occasionally, a touch of Pastor.

Facebook classifieds local listings

I’ve had someone knock on my door to alert me (with quite stern intensity) that there were hamburger buns in some trees! I wasn’t sure what she wanted me to do with that information, but I thanked her politely.

Last week a mom knocked on my door for help with her fourth-grader’s math homework (the kids still aren’t back to school-in-person in our county; thanks to COVID they’re suddenly all home-schooled).

I’ve been asked on the phone if there were any possibility I could provide a javelin upon the caller’s arrival, something about a scheduled coaching-session. (We don’t have Craigslist here, but a community FaceBook page serves similar purposes—and my request for the loan of a javelin was certainly one of my odder posts there…)

RV park autumn leaves

I do wish I’d started earlier at jotting down the surprising incidents, the sorts of things that leave me owl-eyed blinking and wondering if someone actually just asked me that… But here’s just a small and recent sampling.


Tech Support, Level One Zero

“I need you to help me set up one of those—-you know, a mailbox on my computer,” says one of our residents, hefting himself onto the stool across the counter from me. Not having the least idea what he has in mind, and not wanting to sound insulting, I settle on the vague but diplomatic: “Tell me more.” Email! It turns out the thing Stan wants but doesn’t know the name for is an email account.

I set him up with gmail—and staple the address and its password to his renter’s file, assuming he’ll need help with that again. Sure enough, a few months later he’s at our door asking my husband about his password. Feeling rather proud of my foresight, I produce it on a Post-It, but Stan frowns and says he’s already tried that. “Here. You make it work,” he insists, holding out his device.

It’s a Roku remote.

Sometimes the moment when you understand something is the same moment when you realize you don’t know where to begin with explaining it.


Parrots. Parents. And Other Wildlife

I’ve been asked if we provided grazing for horses. (They might fit through the dog-park gate?) I’ve been asked if we had rules about goats. There’s a six-foot iguana living in a fifth wheel down the way. (And Harley does startle people, sunning in the window at eye level.) There used to be a one-legged man with a parrot (for real!) and after I teasingly called him a pirate, he showed up in the office in full piratical regalia! Actual wooden leg and antique pistol and all. (Turns out he used to make a living playing pirate in Key West.)

I’ve seen cats walking their humans on leashes (and one that rode around on his person’s shoulder), cow-dogs on rodeo ropes, one bear-puppet, a couple imaginary pets. One day a glance out the office window started me laughing—“Ohmygosh, that looked almost like a huge chicken in that camper doorway!” My cohort and I had a good giggle, because how crazy is that! Well it WAS a huge chicken. Harvey, the biggest rooster I’ve ever laid eyes on. (Thankfully, Harvey’s person considerately took him on a drive every morning so he wouldn’t wake the rest of us cock-a-doodling.)

camper with chicken

For pure entertainment value, though, it’s hard to beat the people. Especially (being a hike-in-the-mountains, pee-in-the-bushes kind of Western Gal myself) watching the people unaccustomed to wildlife that’s any wilder than, say, pavement pigeons.

An overexcited woman grips my arm: “Ohmygod, did you see the MOOSE?” (Yes, we do see deer in the fields and conservation easement between our fence and the mountains. Do I educate her, or just let her have her moment?)

A person with a camera around his neck (whose country of origin I won’t mention because it’s too exactly-the-stereotype to be believed) asks me WHAT TIME will the family of quail be returning to view? I’m reminded of a back-country hike in Yellowstone, when we ran into another hiker who was anxious about being on the wrong trail “because when I went UP the mountain there were SHEEP.” (Again, do we educate or just point him toward his car at the trailhead? Notice to all hikers: Bighorns do come on legs.)

Just last month a resident asked me to move the birds congregating in the adjacent tree and making a mess on his trailer. I said sorry: “Shit literally happens.” (Though I did enjoy the image of myself swinging into action with tiny bird-size lassos… )

The people-watching prize, however, goes to a colleague of mine who runs another KOA park… Young kid finds baby skunk. Kid’s mom lets kid pick up baby skunk. Baby skunk bites kid. (Go, Baby Skunk!) Mom wants proof that “the animals are up-to-date on vaccinations.” !!! (Park manager silently wishes baby skunk had bitten MOM while he was at it…)

So. What have we learned?

  1. Wildlife should come with identification.
  2. And warning labels.
  3. Quail need watches.
  4. Turn left at the sheep.
  5. Unless it’s a deer.
Continue reading

This morning a customer didn’t bother to tell me his name, just went straight to spelling it.

Yeah, it was one of THOSE names. Not as confounding as some, but definitely not one I would have gotten right without having him spell it out.

“My sister and I grew up with a maiden name we always had to spell,” I told him. “Now she’s a Jones and I’m a Smith!”

On the other end of the phone my customer laughed with me, and then said, “Mine’s Italian. It means ‘eat goat’.”

I couldn’t help myself. “That’s awesome! EAT GOAT.”

Next time someone upsets me, that’s what I’ll say. “Hey! You. Eat goat!”

I have a tenant who has a very long name with very few vowels that ends in -wczyk. It occurs to me that he has never said his name to me either. It’s like a secret password that only the chosen can know…

In my maiden-name days, that’s how I used to screen for telemarketers: if a caller correctly pronounced the name, I didn’t immediately hang up. “Smith” doesn’t lend itself to that kind of screening…

Although there was the one time a phlebotomist labeling my blood sample asked me how to spell it. I was so taken aback I just blurted “Smith!” again, because isn’t that word self-explanatory for a native speaker of English?

I should have told her to eat goat.

Do you ever try to retrace the rabbit-trail…

…that somehow connected the thing you WERE doing with the thing you find yourself doing NOW?

If you’re like me, that rabbit trail may take several days to loop around to its starting point (assuming it even does). But if you’re one of those Focused People With Organized Heads who completes an entire task before taking up the next, you may not understand how it works. So let me illustrate with a simple example: Reading the newspaper.

And… We’re off!

I am reading the New York Times on my tablet, scanning today’s headlines to see what I “should” know—when I see an article on the sidebar about “What the Great Pandemic Novels Teach Us“—and I’m a reader and intrigued and stuck at home during a pandemic, so of course I have to check that out!

…and the article references Daniel DeFoe’s book, A Journal of the Plague Year. Which I’ve never heard of, despite having done a fair bit of research on Robinson Crusoe’s island (for a novel I’m stuck in the middle of writing) so of course I have to check that out! I open the Apple Book Store…

…to search for DeFoe’s book and find it (with notes! Yay, we like notes) for $2.99, so I charge it to my Apple account. But while I’m here…

…I just have to look through the “Special Offers & Free” section, because they cycle new things into that listing every couple of days, and you never know what awesome book-you-wanted-to-read might surface there for a couple bucks. See, just like this: here’s Call the Midwife by Jennifer Worth, which I totally want to read because my mom got me watching the BBC series when she visited a couple months ago. So I buy that too.

…and then I just have to take a second to assign my two new purchases to categories I’ve made up in my iBooks (because yes, there’s a touch of OCD here too)…

…and I realize I don’t have a category for “Medical Practice, Midwifery” in my Book Buddy app (where I track and tag everything I read) so I pick up my phone (because I’m faster typing on that screen than the iPad) and open the Book Buddy app to add the category.

…and I realize that one of the books I’m currently reading (I’m midway through one on audiobook, because I can listen while I do stuff like clean the kitchen; and one actual paper book, which I can read during the daytime; and one on my iPad because I can read in bed without bothering my husband with a light on; and one other one on my iPad because I thought of it yesterday and started to read it) is not listed in the “Currently Reading” status on my Book Buddy.

…which makes me wonder if I’ve tagged it yet on GoodReads (where I also track what I’m reading, because it’s got that social aspect, and it’s keeping count of my reading goal for the year) so I go there and update that app as well.

…and when I close my GoodReads app, I can see that little red badge in the corner of my FaceBook app that tells me I’ve probably gotten some laughs or comments on my daily installment of the “Captain’s Log” in Social Lockdown—so of course I have to check that out!

…which reminds me that I haven’t done a post yet today, so I open my photos (I take photos of stuff ALL the time, even when I pretty much haven’t left the house for a month) to find a fresh one that I can wrap a wry comment or a silly story around. So I get that posted. (Are you curious? It was a photo of the newly resurrected Sports Page—and I mean PAGE, singular—in our local rural-Oregon paper. Three articles: WNBA draft, “Social Fish-tancing” for anglers, and QUAIL CALLING. Apparently that’s a thing. Which pretty well illustrates the reasons for discontinuing sports coverage in the first place.)

…and while I was sending that photo to FaceBook, the banner notification phased across my screen with an incoming email from my boss in Portland so I go open that…

…to discover that she might be misreading the break-down of employee hours I just sent her, so I trot into my home-office and sit at the computer where I can pull up the entire payroll spreadsheet and type out a clearer explanation of who’s doing what.

…and I close my spreadsheet and ask myself, “What was I doing, anyway?

Oh that’s right—I found the book of Call the Midwife, which made me kind of want to see another episode. So I put on my tennis shoes and get on the treadmill (which has a TV right in front of it for just this purpose—and this is when and where I watch the “chick flick” stuff my husband is not excited about) and watch another episode.

…and then I jump through the shower and put on some clean clothes (still no bra!—I’m working from home, baby!) which reminds me I should start some laundry (because I only own so many yoga pants—maybe I should look on Amazon for more) and the laundry is right next to the bathroom I meant to clean today, so I’ll get that done while I’m here, and I think I’ve earned myself a soda…

…which I pop open while I ask myself, “What was I doing, anyway?

Oh that’s right—there was that Plague book I wanted to read! So I pull it up on my iPad and start to read. [This is the one part of the narrative where I actually stay put for a few hours. I have turned OFF all the notifications (new emails, FaceBook comments, text messages) that could come up on this screen, BECAUSE I use it to read.]

I’ve started to highlight descriptions and sections of the book that feel applicable to today, to people’s responses to the Coronavirus pandemic. So I start to think that it would be interesting to juxtapose excerpts of DeFoe’s book (talking about the Plague) against photos and headlines and graphs from today’s news.

…so I sit down at my computer again and start a new blog post in WordPress, where I can play around with the concept—and I type a few excerpts from DeFoe into text blocks. Now I just need the right current graphics to put alongside.

…so I start Googling images for “Trump downplays virus” (to go with DeFoe’s observation that the initial presence of the Plague in London was kept from the “publick” as much as possible). I’m playing with possibilities (about a dozen tabs now open on my browser), and a few of the images feature tweets directly by Trump…

…and I figure I could go right to the source, so I pull up Twitter and start scrolling down Trump’s timeline. (And scrolling. And scrolling. And scrolling. And I stop to see how far back I’ve gotten, and it’s yesterday. Aw, hell.) I mess around with blog formatting (WordPress has a new interface I haven’t mastered) for about forty minutes until I’m tired of working with this text block, so I shift gears and begin working on an introduction to the post, writing to set the scene for 1665 London and the Plague…

…until I hit a lull in the word-flow, and I think about putting a contemporary illustration alongside the introduction, and it seems there was a painting from the Louvre that really fascinated me when we were there, when I was nine years old, maybe I even bought a postcard of it… I start Googling for a Plague painting in the Louvre, and I don’t find it, but I DO find one that I definitely had in postcard form—a whole desperate family on a raft, struggling and waving for help…

Wait a minute, I totally remember this painting as being about The Flood—you know, the Noah one—but its title is “Raft of the Medusa,” which isn’t Biblical at all, so now I have to go read up on what this painting is actually about (a scandalous French shipwreck caused by an incompetent ship’s captain, what?!) and I wonder where I got my original idea, and why I was so fascinated by this particular painting that I would recognize it so immediately today. (In other circumstances I might have hypothesized that my nine-year-old self was titillated by the penis in the foreground… But after two full days of walking through the Louvre, I’m pretty sure I was penised out.)

I’m staring at this painting on my computer screen with two dozen tabs lining its top, and I’m tired of fiddling with the Plague post, and I ask myself, “What was I doing, anyway?

Oh, yeah—I was reading the Times!

So—six hours later—I go back to my very first tab and begin again to scan the headlines.

And THAT, Ladies and Gentlemen, is how we read our news!