Goodie The Second: “Animal Madness,” a personal essay

Goodie The Second: “Animal Madness,” a personal essay

Animal Madness   My son Benjy is addicted to animal videos. Three, four times a day he pulls me to the computer and makes me watch with him. For about a year, the videos were almost always about small mammals: irritable fennec foxes, clever mice, and in general anything cute and furry, with chubby a decided advantage. After the Era of Chubby Mammals commenced the Period of Birds. This bird stretch has been unusually long–sixteen months and counting. I have probably seen every crow encounter, zebra finch escapade, and cockatoo dance available on the Internet. I coo and laugh and wax indignant as required. I feign interest in the sixth talking raven video of the afternoon (“Nevermore! WakaWakaWaka!”). And I think to myself, this kid is adorable, but man, is he nuts. If Benjy were merely obsessed with viewing animals on the computer I would shrug it off–I  have had manias far darker than that. But his goal is to win me over to the charms of the foxy and avian sets, so he can convince me to buy them. The fennec fox could live in a habitat under his desk. The finches would do just fine in a large wire cage in the living room. I’m not sure where he imagines the Russian tortoise or the bearded dragon will live, but I’ll bet he’s got it all mapped out. His primary work these days is mapping the humans who live here right out of the house, to make way for the ducklings and every other species he schemes to bring in. Benjy has contracted Animal Madness. My husband Lars...

Goodie the First: a personal essay

The Resident Expert on Everything The first time I heard the word “Asperger’s,” I was pregnant with my second child and lying on my side on a massage table, a pillow under my enormous belly. The massage therapist had just told me about an adolescent boy with an obsessive crush on her. The boy had Asperger’s Syndrome. I know this is so South Park, and clearly beneath me, but I was woozy with pregnancy and Swedish massage, and I heard her say “ass burgers.” This conjured images of donkey-meat (or worse) on a bun. “He eats them?” I murmured, emerging from the sublime straight into the ridiculous. “Eats what?” she said. “Ass burgers.” She laughed. “No,” she said. “He HAS it.” And here the anecdote ends, because at this point I dozed off. I looked this Asperger’s thing up when I got home, because my daughter was at daycare and my husband at work, and there was not much else to do except clean the cat box, which was temporarily off limits to me. Asperger’s Syndrome, it turned out, was a form of autism. I knew nothing whatsoever about disorders that began with the letter “A.”  Nor did I much care, because the afflictions of my people began with other letters. I did have a sister once, whose name began with an “A,” but she was taken out young by an aggressive “C” – as was our paternal grandmother, her namesake. “C,” “H,” “T,” and “MHD” were our alphabetic demons. This Asperger’s/autism stuff did not concern us. And I’ll bet you know precisely where this story is headed. Twenty-four...

Goodies!

Welcome to my author website! Today I’m launching a new feature: “Goodies for Readers.” What you will find here is the occasional essay or story, published only on the site–just for you! I’ll also share anecdotes, media reviews, the occasional photo, and writing/publishing updates. I’m so glad you dropped by. xo...