Monday, January 28, 2013

Paid Time Off

I'm spending the day in bed. The weather was passably nice yesterday, by which I mean it wasn't cold enough to kill in half and hour, and the sun was out. I was reminded yet again why I've never been into sports. Give me a dojo and a martial art, and I have the coordination of a ballet dancer. Give me a zombie or a human threat and I'm as dangerous as the next guy, no mistakes or false moves.

Just don't give me a goddamn football.

My right knee is throbbing like hell and walking is more work than I care to admit. I don't even know what I did to hurt it, but any time it sits immobile for longer than five minutes the whole mechanism of my knee locks up and it hurts like crazy to get it moving again. The rest of me isn't exactly in mint condition, either, but none of my bruises or lumps (or even all of them together) come close to how much the knee is bothering me.

So that means no real work for me. I could mention some things going on out in the world, but I do that far more than I'd like. I made a promise to myself when I resumed my duties on this blog that I would try to ignore as much of the world as possible and write down the human stories around me to share. The problem has always been that the world doesn't stop to worry about my promises or desires, and intrudes anyway no matter what I'm doing.

In relaying the larger stories going on in New Haven and beyond I've missed out on so many small things that may not matter individually, but together paint a better picture of who we are as people than I can otherwise manage. Those little things matter.

For example, you know Big K is assisting me now. You know he's a smart guy who seems to have lost more than most--or at least has a harder time dealing with it than many people do--and that's a big guy. Maybe you caught the fact that he's a black dude. Even that little bit of knowledge helps create an image of him, but at best it's filled with inaccuracies your mind inserts to fill the void. Maybe you think, being a black guy who worked as a professional, that he had a hard-luck upbringing but busted ass to make it through college. Hard to blame you for that assumption; before the zombies killed the world, it was full of inspirational movies with just that plot. Many, many of them. We do that with everyone and everything to some extent, but at least with K it's not true.

His parents were postal workers, high in the organization and paid well. Lifers who saved and scrimped early and were still frugal when their kid was old enough to go to college. K also had scholarships, was a straight-A and honors student, and didn't hate any of his professors.

Also, he fucking loves pickles. I mean like something crazy. When he came over here yesterday and saw the homemade ones Jess stocks up, I thought the guy was having a stroke. He hadn't eaten a pickle in more than two years, and I thought he might kiss me when I offered him one of our many, many jars. We grow everything we need to make them (except salt, of course, but then we've got access to enough of that to last forever anyway) and they're a treat for us, plentiful, so why not give them to someone who'll appreciate them?

Did he ever appreciate them...

It was the first time I've seen real, naked emotion on K. He always has that air of self-control around him, but not so much when faced with thirty ounces of Jessie's finest homemade kosher dills. Maybe there is some deeper connection for him, a comfort food that reminded him of happy times and sweet moments. Maybe not. It's possible he just has a serious jones for wee salty cucumbers. Either way it made me smile to see a grown man six inches taller than me fist-pump the air over a jar of food, right before picking me up in a bear hug.

Small moments, ladies and gentlemen. None alone will do the trick, but they do add up.


  1. Pickles? It's been a few years since I've had one last. Our supply of vinegar hadn't lasted, and apples were in very short supply down in Phoenix. Oranges and other citrus fruits were quite abundant but all attempts to make pickles out if the juice failed...

    We all have foods that brings us comfort, alas I'll never have my mom's meatloaf ever again, nor my dad's pumpkin pie.

    We managed to find quite a few shrimp boats near the City of Corpus Christie, and our luck seems to be very good, because two of them were fully fueled. We loaded all of our gear onto them, and we managed to strip the Humvee of anything useful before heading out.

    It wasn't long after that that we received a call over the radio demanding the boats to be returned, the UAS seems to love its shrimp. They sent out several small boats to intercept us buy all of them developed engine trouble and one sprung leaks in her bow.

    Their seamanship was bad, but they didn't sink.

    We are sailing near one if the oil rigs, one with quite a few boats tied up to it, but it is clear that there is no life on it. I myself watched as ten shambling forms walked off the edge landed hard in the water.

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