A Laboring Cow

I heard a podcast once about living in the moment verses letting your mind wander and how across to board when people allowed their minds to wander they reported feeling unhappy. They reported feeling most unhappy while commuting to and from their jobs because that’s when their minds wandered the most. It wasn’t the job making them feel miserable; it was the time spent getting to and from it.

I find this oddly funny.

This made me think of Sisyphus and his punishment of pushing an immense boulder up a hill only to watch it roll back down again. He was sentenced to do this for eternity. But Sisyphus’s punishment wasn’t the intense physical part. His punishment was watching it roll back down each time. It was during the downtime, the time spent letting his mind wander, that’s when he felt his punishment the most. That’s when he felt his unhappiest.

I know. That’s not real.

But.

I live in a suburban town in New Jersey, just outside of New York City. And I spend a lot of time letting my mind wander. Sometimes, I feel like the suburbs are my commute to and from life. Not that I know what life is, or what that even means. I know that I rarely have adult conversations anymore. I turn on WNYC and listen to other people talk about shit so as to not let my wander too much.

It helps.

I make dinner for the kids. I shorten the stems of flowers hoping to keep them around longer. I light candles. Sometimes I scratch Walter’s bug bites for him. I run a lot.

I pet my cats.

I count my kids’ fish every day because one time I stopped and then one disappeared and I know the other ones had to watch it decay.

I felt bad for the surviving fish even though they probably ate him.

I give baths and I do a lot of laundry.

When I was 23 I applied for a job at a dairy farm. It was in the middle of Pennsylvania. It was old school, not one of those big industrial factory farms where cows are treated like cogs in a milk machine. I’d spent my teens working in the food industry. I enjoyed waiting tables. But then I graduated with a college degree and did what one does with a degree: I got a job in an office with air conditioning and windows that don’t open. The kind of job that doesn’t require the punctuation of a hot shower.

The farm didn’t hire me. I was turned down because they wanted someone who had “physically reached into a laboring cow and helped deliver a calf.”

I do not have that on my resume. I didn’t have it on my resume at age 23. I still don’t at age 42. I will likely die not having that on my resume.

But I can’t imagine a mind wandering too much with both hands inside of a cow.

Stories Told From Ticket Stubs: The Old 97s.

March 1st, 2001: Old 97s.
A Throwback Thursday Series.

I used to be a huge Old 97s fan. A friend of mine named Aaron gave me Too Far Too Care back in 1997 and I was hooked. I saw them a bunch of times over the years, but this one stands out. It took place during a tumultuous time. I had gone through a rough breakup a few months prior and instead of facing my demons head-on, I left DC and moved to NYC in December of 2000. I left behind a secure, high-paying job and dozens of close friends and ended up staring at four blank walls in a three-story walkup in Greenpoint.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I loved living in NYC. But I was also pretty unsure of myself. And so I, like countless others, set out every day wandering the streets in search of myself.

None of the two friends I had in NYC at the time liked the Old 97s. And since I was young and still freaked out by the idea of going to a show by myself, I wanted company.

This is perfectly absurd to me now. At age 41, I would be THRILLED to attend a concert by myself. I love being alone now especially since I so rarely ever am. Now, concerts and movies look more like a three mile run or a trip to the gynecologist. If 41-year-old me could sit 27-year-old me down, she would definitely beg her to enjoy the alone time. She would tell her to go to that show and sing along at the top of her lungs. Because that’s what she needed and wanted to do. She was just too insecure to actually do it.

I wanted company. So I purchased three tickets: one for me, one for Gerry and one for Bob. And they went. And I THINK I even paid for their drinks, possibly even the car service to and from. Yeah, I’m pretty sure I paid them to hang out with me that night.

For what it’s worth, I consider Gerry a lifelong friend. We still keep in touch. I’ve known him since I was 17. And I don’t see Bob much anymore, but we never had any issues. The three of us hung out regularly back then, sometimes every single night. So it wasn’t like they hated being around me or anything like that. (At least I hope not!) They just didn’t particularly like The Old 97s. So throughout the entire show, when they weren’t bored to tears, they were visibly annoyed. And this made it impossible for me to enjoy the show.

Why had I begged two people to see a band they didn’t even like?

Right before leaving (we left early) I asked them if they wanted anything before heading back to Brooklyn, and I think it was Gerry who quipped, “Yes, I would like the last two hours of my life back.”

Buuuuuuurn.