The seven things successful people don’t want you to know!

  1. 3:50 AM give up, go take pee, look at clock, wonder if you’ll get back to sleep before alarm goes off
  2. 5:00 AM wife shakes you, says “your alarm” which would be unnecessary, since you’ve been awake since 3:50, except you can no longer hear the first couple higher-pitched cycles of the alarm so, ok. You turn it off and get up.
  3. Let in cats. Feed cats. Close 2 doors so sensitive cat is isolated from the less-sensitive cats and can eat in peace. Turn on coffee machine. Open windows to air out downstairs.
  4. Go check the trap line. It’s still dark. One dish of beer has a few slugs. On the way to the other 2 dishes over by the echinacea a slug somehow gets into your Birkenstock. You do the “A slug got into my Birkenstock” dance but he holds fast so you take off the sandal and flick him into one of the beer traps, kerplunk. A dozen or so of his buddies are in there too.
  5. That’s fewer than usual lately, maybe you’re making headway. Maybe they’re hunkered down waiting for the hot weather to pass. Maybe they’re on the tomatoes.
  6. You’ll never know cause you have to go eat breakfast (slice of rye bread, butter, ham, Greek yogurt with blueberries + honey)
  7. One cat wants out. No not that door the other door. Then another cat wants out, but not the door the first cat went out, the other door.
  8. You tiptoe around while you do all this so your wife can sleep.
  9. But she gets up to make sure you don’t forget to throw lettuce and blueberries out the window for the tortoise.
  10. Throughout all this you have the idea of distance in your head. Maybe you had a dream. Distance between galaxies is the same as distance inside atoms, between the nucleus and the electrons, it’s mostly empty space, you think. And yet we find each other.

Guided meditation

Is everybody comfortable?
Tea okay? If anyone needs a blanket, just tell me. Or they’re over there by the window.
Is everyone comfortable?
Okay.
Namaste etc etc.
Relax. Concentrate on your breathing for a few breaths.
In through the nose, out through the mouth.
In through the nose, follow your breath on its journey through your body.
Trading those little oxygen molecules for those little carbon molecules or whatever.
Here is the scene.
You are a rugby player.
Or an American football player.
Big game.
Someone hands you the ball. You cradle it in your arm. Leap, fly over opposing players, crash into the end zone, ball cradled safely in your arm.
Score!!
However many points that is! Enough to win the big game, anyway!
Okay, except one thing: you’re not a ball player, you’re an old guy.
And it’s not a ball you’ve got cradled in your arm, it’s a tortoise.
Okay, and a few other things: it’s not opposing players you fly over, it’s a low fence you put up around the flower bed to keep the tortoise from running away. And you don’t crash into any end zone, you hit the slate tiles by the driveway like a ton of bricks.
Safely cradled, though: you bet. Tortoise looking at you like, my dude, wtf?
But he’s okay.
That’s important, because you had the old red cat put to sleep the day before and you don’t want to hurt any more animals for a while.
Okay, we’re not naive, Easter ham, someone gave their life for that, but you know what I mean.
Double check everything. Tortoise, fine, runs laps in the house. You: was I this sore before? Is the headache new? Did anybody see? Am I dizzy or just tired?
Breathe.
Or is it all the sugar?
Breathe in through the nose, out through the mouth.
Let your mind wander.
Have some tea.

Love, a play in one act. One scene, actually

Curtains open to reveal a kitchen.
Man: Dude, are you fucking your lettuce?
Tortoise: What? No.
Man: Cause it looks like it.
Tortoise: Erk, erk, erk.
(Woman enters)
Woman: Good morning.
Man: Good morning. Would you like a cup of coffee?
Woman: Sure.
(Woman sits down at table)
Woman: Is the tortoise stuck on his lettuce?
Man: That’s what I thought at first. Remember when he was little and he tried to walk over a leaf of lettuce and it rolled up into a cigar and he got high-centered on top of it?
Man: Here’s your coffee.
Man: But he doesn’t appear to be stuck this time, strictly speaking.
Man: I mean, I think it’s optional.
Tortoise: Erk, erk, erk.

Small world

Beta works at a government ministry in Vienna. Yesterday she told me her boss told her another staff member at the ministry took a picture of our tortoise, which had escaped, and was, I guess, on a sidewalk here in our village, and posted the picture to Facebook prior to secretly returning the tortoise to its flowerbed.

I guess that’s why he is a boss at a ministry, guy knows EVERYTHING.

Also, the staff member is KEVIN BACON.

Or something.

Edgar Allan Poe and The Season of the Tortoise Dish

Edgar Allan Poe wakes from fitful sleep his eyes burning and swollen. He looks at the alarm clock but can’t focus his eyes and can’t find his glasses. He dresses and goes downstairs and looks at the clock in the kitchen which says two in the morning. Upstairs his wife is coughing. He looks for laudanum but they’re all out of laudanum.

A red cat rubs up against his pantleg, covering it with hair. Edgar Allan Poe opens the door and lets out the cat.¬† In accordance with the Law of Preservation of Red Cats, the other red cat comes in and demands food. Edgar Allan Poe goes back into the kitchen to get cat food because even though it’s too early if he gives the cat food it might let him sleep. If he doesn’t, it won’t.

In the kitchen, he steps into the tortoise dish.

These are the facts of the tortoise dish: it is too warm for the tortoise to hibernate, but too cold for the tortoise to spend all day outside. So the tortoise lives in the kitchen. That’s why there is a tortoise dish in the kitchen. The tortoise dish is full of water. The tortoise drinks from the dish, and walks through it before having a bowel movement.

Of the three nasty things you can do with the tortoise dish, stepping into it turns out to be the least nasty, as it spills the least water. The second-worst is to kick it by accident, which spills more water. The worst is to step on the side, which flips it over and empties it out, throwing algae-and-worse-filled-water a long distance.

Edgar Allan Poe goes back to bed, but the cat he let out is meowing so he lets it back in.

In this manner, he fails to fall back to sleep.

His alarm goes off at 4.30. He gets up, feeds the cats, eats breakfast, makes a cup of coffee and his wife asks him to take out the garbage.

He goes around the house gathering  the residual waste from all the half-filled garbage cans into a single garbage can. When he empties out the bathroom garbage can, something remains stuck to the rim of the bin. He looks closer. It is a sanitary napkin.

He sighs, and reaches to take it, but his wife is walking past and plucks it off and drops it into the other garbage can.

Edgar Allan Poe gathers residual waste from the rest of the bins in the house. He goes outside and empties it all into the large garbage can. The sanitary napkin is stuck to the rim of the small garbage can again. Edgar Allan Poe says, It’s the Tell-Tale Sanitary Napkin, or something. He plucks it off, and throws it away and returns to the house.

He opens the cabinet to get cat treats to lure a cat out of the living room, and kicks the tortoise dish.

Edgar Allan Poe drives his daughter to town on his way to work.

It’s beautiful isn’t it, he says. The weather. Like a new season. Too warm to be winter, too crisp in the mornings to be summer. They should invent a new season.

Dad, dad, dad, says his daughter.

Tattoo

Man: Yeah, right here on my forearm. A turtle. Tortoise, I mean.

Young woman: Yes, that would be cool.

Man: Think so?

Young woman: Yeah. And you could tattoo a rock on your bicep, so that when you flexed your arm it would look like the tortoise was fucking the rock.

Man: [blink] Totally.

Apocryphal fables: The man and the tortoise

Man: [Waters flowers, gives tortoise fresh water] Hi, little turtle. Tortoise.

Tortoise: You’re a little close to my rock, you’re making me nervous.

Man: Sorry. [Steps away from rock]

Tortoise: Hey, nice shoes!

Man: I… carry on, don’t let me distract you.

Tortoise: You have any more of that lettuce? For once I finish here? What’s up, you look down in the dumps.

Man: No, nah. I’m fine. I have time on my hands, is all. Just not infinite time, so I’m forced to prioritize my goof-off agenda, which re-stresses me.

Tortoise: Have you vaccuumed?

Man: Yep.

Tortoise: Mopped?

Man: Just finished.

Tortoise: Made the bed?

Man: Eh, yeah, sure I made the bed.

Tortoise: Decided what to cook on Sunday and done the shopping?

Man: I’ll do that tomorrow.

Tortoise: [Nods]

Man: I mean, should I play the cello, fire up the theremin, try to compose something, record something, write something?

Tortoise: Have you weeded the vegetable garden?

Man: I did that last week.

Tortoise: It grows back, you know. Mowed?

Man: I’m putting that off until tomorrow, in the hopes that it rains and gives me an excuse not to.

Tortoise: Respect.  [Stares at man]

Man: What?

Tortoise: Did you really make the bed?

Man: Mostly.

Tortoise: If I were you, I would write an erotic novel entitled Transit of Venus.

Man: I think that’s been done.

Tortoise: Can’t copyright titles, dude.

Man: Plus, aren’t you supposed to write what you know?

Tortoise: I would totally write it, but I’m busy.

Man: Maybe I will try to come up with a name for the musical genre in which I compose. Unfortunately creepcore is taken.

Tortoise: Crashcreep?

Man: Hrm. Nice.

Tortoise: Don’t mention it.