Tuesday, November 17, 2009

the bad thing and the wooden man

it's raining cats and dogs on the hill tonight.

and i'm thinking all good things come to an end.

about everything. (except about school)

ya know that feeling when you're having too much fun, when you're too happy, when the world tremors ever so slightly with light? when you hold your heart on a string like a balloon, taught straight strings and your head is thrown back, hair wild across your face, sun on your back and you're just skipping? skipping. doolally and foolish like.

but in the back of your mind, your mind of scribbles and stick men, you simply know that The Bad Thing is waiting just around the corner to push you back to where you belong.
"you git back there, you."
slap slap.
"wha-? me? oh. it's you again."
"this is Life, donchaknowit? it ain't all Fun, Loser."
whack on the back of your head.
"what on earth were you thinking, Fool."

i hate that.
and don't tell me it isn't true because it is. that's what a client said many moons ago when he pooed in his pants on a walking safari and we were trying to commiserate with him. well. safari c was. stoically poker faced. heroic in fact. i was stuffing tea towels into my mouth behind the camp bar, trying to act normal.

he sadly said to us, (after he'd cleaned up of course - as the camp froze, poised on the edge of uncontrollable mirth) he sadly said, "and don't tell me this happens to everyone. because it doesn't. it isn't true. "

i mean what do you say?

"oh ken. i'm devastated you pooed in your pants on a walking safari for no apparent reason. and even worse - oh god i'm sorry - in front of your petulant teenage daughter who already hates you and is dying of embarrassment just by your being alive...i've never seen anything like it EVER before. so sorry. why. don't. you. just. die."
no. of course not.
you say," gosh ken. don't worry. it happens to everyone."


but lucky old lucky me, recently i've been keeping The Bad Thing in check. i've been sitting on the edge looking in. being terribly careful of not having too much fun. of not believing too much in anything. of delighting in irrelevancy. i've been standing next to The Bad Thing. so he can't surprise me.

man. i've been holding his hand. sometimes.

i hate that.

but i love it that i can see beautiful things in intense simplicity. in terrible things. i love it that we can if we want to. slyly. when The Bad Thing isn't looking. i love it that we can choose to see things the way we want to. no matter how delusional. (you can always grab hold of The Hand) i love it that i rode past a choir yesterday, under a single tree out on the plains - singing a song i didn't understand. its angelic strains floating on mischievous little rain winds. and how my horse was scared of the skinny cow rustling amongst the dead dry maize stalks. . .

i wish it wasn't there, the Bad Thing, but then perhaps the rain wouldn't smell so sweet.

i have a new toy, oh bestests. which will start to be a regular feature. i am not sure what to call it/him/her. right now, the only thing which springs to mind is Wooden Man.( lashings of apologies to the sisterhood. yes. he does have breasts) another name which leapt ever so easily to mind was, she perhaps mistakenly confesses, is Man. he has travelled all the way from the fairest cape for this assignment. a one way ticket. so instead of the old kitchen board, y'll all be seein' him. hell. maybe somtimes in front of the kitchen board. but as i was sayin' , all good things must come to an end. i give you wooden man. be kind.

these things take time. i might even sew him a little hat in time.

wooden man: tuesday night - rainy - ngorobob hill. sometime in november.
oh and the bad thing is that i don't think he can sit because of the large steel rod up his bottom.. this is rather unfortunate because it means i can't bend him into the Thinking Man position. sigh sigh. oh well.

toodely ole toot y'all. bisous. fresh rainy new ones X.X.X. x j


Dumdad said...

Behold the Wooden Man!

And you can sing this song to him (adapting Plastic Man by The Kinks):

A man lives at the corner of the street,
And his neighbors think he's helpful and he's sweet,
'Cause he never swears and he always shakes you by the hand,
But no one knows he really is a wooden man.

He's got wooden heart, wooden feet and toes,
(Yeah, he's wooden man)
He's got wooden knees and a perfect wooden nose.
(Yeah, he's wooden man)

He's got wooden lips that hide his wooden teeth and gums,
And wooden legs that reach up to his wooden bum.

Wooden man got no brain,
Wooden man don't feel no pain,
Wooden people look the same,
Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Etc etc etc.....

Bill Stankus said...

Looking at my life, backward that is, I had a nearly perfect 10 years ... didn't know it at the time but compared to everything else it was the best.

There were a few other good times but they were never continuous ... lots of those slap-downs and bags of broken glass in between.

connie said...

What a beautiful post.

Bee said...

There is something Biblical about the picture of the beasts. Are they going somewhere . . . or on an Exodus?

Poor, poor man who pooped his pants.

Wooden man could use a loincloth, too.

ewix said...

The poor man whose teen daughter wished the embarrassment of him off the planet.....
yes, we must keep dodging the bad thing and pretending it maybe isn't there and we must realise how lucky we are
dodging bullets all the time......
much love

Lori ann said...

i can see the beauty even in the bad things. i love that you can too.life is brutally beautiful. i love you most brilliant one.

i could knit wooden poser man or should i call it wooden person?, a hat if you want.

Lori ann said...

i forgot to say hurrah for the rain.

family affairs said...

Well, hello wooden man looking quite jaunty and pleased with himself and I suspect that it's because with steel rod up his bottom he will never have to suffer the same indignity as "your smelly man in Africa". Phew. Lucky him. Looking forward to seeing who knits him a little pair of underpants first Lx

Nao said...

It has been a while since I found myself in front of the Keyboard, but I have to say, I have missed your blog. Your wild and wonderful perspective is always refreshing. You writing always inspires. Oh the "bad thing," lingering in the shadows of the light, we all know him. Best to acknowledge him I say. And the story of the man that pooed on the Safari, it is a great story and a good story is a fine thing. Your stories are always brilliant, what can I say, I am impressed. Thanks for this, keep writing, keep telling your stories, they are good for the soul.

Janelle said...

ah dumdad..you're Brilliant! great stuff! thanks hey! xxx j

yeah bill. and by the way. your poetry ROCKS! been swinging by reading it all...xx j

why, thank-you kindly connie. x j

bee, this picture was taken on lake natron...the herd of goats, cattle and donkeys belonged to a very remote maasai boma on the border between kenya and tanzania and they were heading out to find grazing. it was terribly dry. every day we saw dying and dead animals. some wild some domesticated. the water in the foreground is lake natron, which is a soda lake. the landscape is mind blowingly beautiful. xxx j

indeed elizabeth, indeed. keep on ya toes, eh? lots love to you x j

hey beautiful lori ann! yeah. PLEASE knit him a little hat!! and maybe a little sweater for winter?? and its the next morning and STILL raining....god. its BEAUTIFUL!!! the valley is full of water....and the sound of rain on the tin roof is my best. love ya too angel lady XXX j

heh he he lulu....i wouldn't be able to put ON his chuppies because of the steel rod...shame man. shame. xxx j

hello nao! where've ya bin sunshine?? thanks for swinging by and your very very kind words. sending you love back XXX j

Nancy said...

Seeing beauty in the bad things is precious. I am pleased it's raining. I think of you on the hill so far away on a Tuesday night, sometime in November.

Val said...

that poor chap - but hellov funny! so so happy for your rain too - and so true - the bad things make the good things so much more intense so we need them all apparently :-)
is the wooden man for drawing/painting purposes????
there is no end to your creativity - thanks for another brilliant read to brighten my day xxx
word veri - fecatim - was his name Tim by any chance??

Mud in the City said...

Beautifully described in a way that we all recognise. Extended uber happiness can feel a bit like keeping fate at bay. Waiting for it to pounce. But why is it that when the Bad Thing happens after a wonderfully joyous time I feel, "Oh well, probably deserved that. Maybe I shouldn't have done X"

Maybe it is the other way round and I should be thinking "I deserve to be gloriously happy, I do!"

(bet that's what the wooden man is thinking)

Janelle said...

oh god. i'll have to yet again heave us all over the bladdy number THIRTEEN....there. x j

SafariB said...

very cool Dumdad. Very cool indeed :)

J - thanks man. Your creative brain never ceases to amaze me! Gees... xoxo

veri word fedebe... is wooden man fedebe of having a steel rod up his arse?

Jeannie said...

Eerily apt post for my state of mind... My happy go lucky christian style friends never understand how the responsive universe is not all good, the way it is in their world. How one has always to watch over one's should for the trickster and his bag of bad jokes. And yet the bad things happen to them too; perhaps it's just that they deal with it better?

The Bad Thing has got a little too close here again. I have some distinctly man-made little white pills with which I am fighting him off, and hoping he'll get the message. Thank you, and your evocative writing, for echoing my prosaic reality in such a perfectly beautiful form

karen said...

I love the Wooden Man, and look forward to seeing his wardrobe growing. Yes, keeping the Bad Thing at bay can sometimes be a full time job, and you have described it so amazingly...

Great to hear that you are having so much rain!

Anonymous said...

Oh Janellibeans I do remember Ken the pooper! And his dreadfully embarrassed daughter - poor man I hope he isn't re-humiliated by your blog!! which had me laughing round my kitchen. We are having sooo much rain I can't believe there can be much left up there - bloody English weather! kisses always xx Ruth

tpe said...

I agree with Connie:"what a beautiful post".

Plus, it made me laugh darkly (and fairly loudly, too, as it goes). Poor, poor, Ken. He will take a leaf out of the wooden man's book, one hopes, and stick an iron rod up his thingy before next going walkabout on safari. What a perfectly formed catastrophe. What a straight-down-the-middle, no going back, this spoils everything I've ever worked for humiliation. Magical.

He sounds like a trooper, of course, but I'm thinking he still wakes at night in a fever, trying to discern if the shape in his room can really be a phantom Janelli with a tea-towel in her mouth trying ever so hard not to laugh.

But yes, apart from that (in fact, as well as that) it was a very beautiful piece of writing. The Bad Thing always comes, Janelle, I think we both know that, but it's both necessary and nice to laugh in its face every once in a gladdening while.

Kind regards etc....


Charl said...

Thanks for a lovely post Janelle. Your posts help to keep me bound to Africa and I appreciate that very much.
a Small box with a slot cut halfway through should give Wooden Man a chance to sit down from time to time. Keep well

Chimera said...

I do so love your blog Janelle and I love your mind full of sketches and stickmen! You must allways dance even when lying down on the floor.
Bad things abound but good things bounce. keep on whirling,
Tanvi xxxxx

Lori ann said...

you okay there sweetie? your awfully quiet, just wondering, (being a mum), can't be helped.
hope your just living your charmed life.

Reya Mellicker said...

What I wish is that when the Bad Thing has me in tow, I could remember that The Good Thing is right around the corner, ready to lift me up. Because nothing lasts forever, whether good or bad. I remember that when things are great, but always forget about it when I'm sad. Seems unfair.

The wooden man is great! Give him a little wooden kiss for me?

Janelle said...

hello blogging darlings!~ am still here and THANK =YOU for all your terrific comments....THANK-YOU...prommise to write soon...saturday....just been completely and utterly swamped at school..holidays start tommorrow....i'll be BACK here....sending y'all LOVE LOVE LOVE x x x j

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