My Mother, the Honey Badger

I had a poetry professor who used to tell us that poetry was cheap therapy. He also used to tell us to just write and throw something on the linoleum for the cat to sniff, which was his way, I think, of getting us to not be afraid or precious about our writing. I still use that  cat and linoleum thing as my mantra when I’m in a blue funk. I don’t really write poetry anymore, though– just fiction. Perhaps I should pick it up again? To flex my muscles? I have noticed in the past that poetry tightens up my prose like nobody’s business, so maybe I should go ahead and devote a notebook to it.

But what I wanted to say here was that as much as I feel sometimes that writing fiction makes me a crazy person, I’d be much nuttier if I didn’t have that release, that way to process my emotions. Writing allows me to legitimize my passions or obsessions or questions. Instead of an idea rattling around like a dried pea in a tin can, I can develop whatever idea that is, research it, and figure out why it is of interest to me in the first place.

For instance, a year ago or so I discovered Neil Gaiman. I know, I know, late to the party. I read Neverwhere first, and it was fun, and I was bored, and I read American Gods after that– and it created a synaptic burst. I was already interested in Jung and archetypes, but reading what he did with gods and goddesses pushed me over the edge. What would I have done with this newly focused obsession if I hadn’t been a writer?

I don’t really know.

But I did do this: I read more, more and more, about Jung and about myth, and tried to figure out why it clung to my brain the way it did. What do other people do, I wonder? What do non-writers do? Do they even wonder why it is interesting to them? Or do they simply stop at the stage where they realize, “Oh, myth. That’s neat-o-rama.” Is that it?

This is one of the reasons why I think everybody is a writer. They must be. How can people simply stop their curiosity? Don’t they poke about? Don’t they wonder, “Why am I interested in archetypes and not Michael Bay films?” Are most people like 75% of my students, and they simply regurgitate what somebody else has to say, without wondering how they feel about the subject? Maybe writers aren’t really writers, just very curious people with a need for an outlet.

In other news, I totally need to throw more dinner parties so that my house is tidier more often. It is so much easier to concentrate on my writing when there isn’t an assload of housework to do, and the only way to get ahead of myself in the housecleaning arena is to Bust A Move and clean the hell out of it. My sister-in-law, Fae, says that is the sole reason she has parties and dinner parties, and I am beginning to think she might just have something there.

And now, in yet more Other News, I’m going to hunt around in the fridge and make peach jam. Or fig jam. Or candy some grapefruit peels. Yesterday was hellish, and I need to purge it by cooking something in Lots and Lots of Sugar.

For some reason, I find this video of a Honey Badger to be inspirational. It just goes for what it wants, and it doesn’t care. I’m a soft person most of the time– but that’s another blog. Let’s just say, I could use some Honey Badger qualities to make my life easier and perhaps more fulfilling.

My mother is the human version of the Honey Badger. She doesn’t care. She will tangle with that cobra, get bit, pass out, wake up, and still eat that sucker. She will go a step further than the Honey Badger, and will actually laugh about it later. Yesterday, my sweet mother chewed up the entire veterinary staff we took my two cats to, in front of an office full of other customers, even though she was totally in the wrong and knew it. She. Did. Not. Care.

Now, I admire the Honey Badger, but yesterday I was absolutely mortified. I felt like this. Not sure if I was the terrified Amy Pond or the concrete angel, but I’m sure you get the picture. Why do I admire the animal, but not the personification of it? I love my mother, in a real and not in a My Mom is Perfect kind of way, yet I really thought I was going to crack in half from shame and self-combust on the drive home. Hellish.

Yes, I'm being annoyingly overdramatic. But also, I read somewhere that this was the inspiration for the Doctor Who angels in Blink. So there.

What would a regular person do about this? I know what I’m going to do about it. I’m going to write her into a character and untangle this mess of emotions. I’m going to throw it out there for the cat to sniff. I’m going to indulge in cheap therapy, just like my teacher told me to.

Oh! And I am listening to this. I suppose if he is not on Pandora, a 44 minute digital version of a mixtape will have to do. What’s on it, I wonder?


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