I was feeling kind of blue last night. The day hadn’t gone quite right. Things were messy at the office; I hadn’t started the short story that is due tonight; and I felt old and fat. I was feeling kind of blue.
Remember that I ended the Sunriver trip feeling like an ass. This feeling lingered even into Tuesday morning as I set about sorting the quotes and orders left over from the previous two days. Custom Box is surpisingly busy right now. In general, our business declines after April 15th. It also declines after a price increase. Since both of these events just occurred, we’d expect to be compeletely dead. But we’re not. We’re busy.
I had a moderate lunch, in keeping with my diet, but then I broke down and had a Hershey bar with almonds. And another one. That’s 460 useless calories and many grams of fat. I began to beat myself up mentally. I’d already spent the last three days consuming more calories than normal (though that was by design). I felt fat. I felt defeated. I felt thrown from my diet.
Rather than triumph over these bad feelings, I stopped by Safeway on the way home. I bought Safeway Chinese food for dinner. Then, when I’d finished my rice and sesame beef, I had some left-over cake and ice cream. I felt emotionally and physically defeated.
To make matters worse, I’d been unable to start my latest short story assignment. I’ve got a clear plot in my head, but at this point it’s blatant plagiarism (stealing a poignant bit from Craig Thompson’s Good-Bye, Chunky Rice). I want to make it my own, adapt it into something new, but the words just weren’t coming.
I lay on the couch and moped.
The phone rang. Jenn was calling to invite us over to dinner. Emotionally, I didn’t much feel like going, but intellectually I knew that it was a good idea.
And you know what?
When we walked onto the porch and I saw Emma’s big smiling face, everything was better just like that. Harrison appeared at her side. “You know what, J.D.?” he said. “I saw you from far away, but I didn’t see Kris. She was way behind you.”
We sat on the floor and we played.
“Harrison, who’s your favorite superhero?” I asked.
He pulled out his astronomy book — which features members of the Justice League of America on every page — and he pointed out his favorite. “I like the Blue Superman,” he said (referring to a plotline in which Superman splits into Red Superman and Blue Superman). “And Plastic Man,” he added, finding the stretchy guy on another page. (I know from past conversations that Hank also likes J’onn J’onnz, the Martian Manhunter.)
Without warning, Harrison jumped on my back. Ouch. “Harrison’s a wild boy,” said Emma.
“Are you a wild girl?” asked Kris.
“No,” said Emma. “I’m a wild woman.” Then she thought about it a little more. “No. I’m a princess.”
I read Emma a story about the pyramids in Egypt while Harrison lay on my back, his chin resting on my head.
“Harrison,” I said, when we were finished with the story, “Bring me the Great Big Book of Absolutely Everything.” He brought me his National Geographic photographic atlas. We looked up Egypt. I pointed out the actual pyramids, tried to explain their scale. We looked at photos of boys riding donkeys, of a woman carrying an urn on her head.
Harrison tried to explain to me that Oregon is bigger than Egypt. “Go get your globe,” Jenn told him. When he found his globe, we tore a piece of paper so that it was the same size as Oregon. When we placed Oregon over Egypt, it was clear that Egypt was larger. Still Harrison didn’t believe.
“Egypt’s about the same size as Oregon and Washington together,” I said.
“I don’t think so,” said Harrison. “Oregon is big.”
He went upstairs to fetch a larger map. “See?” he said. And, indeed, on this map Oregon was bigger than the Egypt on the globe. Hmmm. How to explain scale?
“Every place looks big when you live there, Hank,” I said. “You look out in every direction and everything seems so big.”
“I know what,” said Harrison. “When God looks down from the universe, he sees the whole thing” — meaning the Earth — “at once.”
Kris, of course, tried to secularize the conversation, but without success. “Well,” she said, “Anyone looking down from space — like an astronaut — could see the whole Earth at once.”
“But God is even above the astronauts,” said Harrison, “Because he’s in the universe.”
We left it at that.
Instead we compared the sizes of the states, and talked about the different places Harrison has been. “You remember Joel and Aimee?” I asked. “They’re moving here,” I said, and I pointed to South Dakota and Mt. Rushmore. “That’s a long way away.”
Harrison played with the globe. “Why are the North Pole and the South Pole so far apart?” he asked. And we couldn’t really explain. I mean, they’re far apart by definition, not for any other reason.
I started the night feeling kind of blue, but I finished it feeling rosy. All because of interaction with a couple of kids.
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Mom (Sue) said:
On 28 April 2004 (09:26 PM),
Adam Luckey said: