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Rant #268
(published March 2, 2006)
In His Image
Leslie Wolter
Once when I was over at a friend's house, he happened to have the television tuned in to the show Cops. I would never normally watch a show in which people are tackled, questioned, and dehumanized and it is called entertainment, and this particular segment was no different, in fact was representative of everything that is abhorrent about the show. The "cops" had apparently been called in by neighbors to examine a stench coming from an elderly woman's home. They arrived, with camera and crew in tow. They at first barged their way in to this woman's home as she squinted in confusion at the bright lights being shone in her face. Then they began to step with exaggerated disgust over the mounds of trash covering the floor. There were empty soup cans, banana peels, bowls of noodles, tissues, newspapers, and other piles of detritus covering the floor at least a few inches thick. The garbage was also piled up on chairs, tables, and any other surface. Just so the viewer would get a full picture of the extent of the filth, the cop stars barreled in to the kitchen and directed the camera to pan in on the mounds of dirty dishes in the sink. One of the particularly insightful and generous protectors of the peace then directed the camera's attention to a pile of squirming maggots nestled in among the debris on the floor. The woman, who was dressed in a dirty bathrobe, with hair in a disarray, struggled to make her way around her home with a walker, all the while being brutally questioned as to the lack of hygiene by the cops. "How can you live like this?"

"Look at this . . . there are maggots over here!"

"This is disgusting!"

She stood blinking and resting against her walker, looking as if she barely had the strength to muster up the show of humiliation they so obviously wanted from her.

"I'm all alone here. Sometimes the only reason I get up anymore is to feed the cats."

"You can't continue to live like this! It's so disgusting!"

She stood blinking and resting against her walker, not knowing what more to say.

Sloth: from the Greek "akedia" meaning "not to care." Denotes spiritual sloth. The avoidance of physical or spiritual work. Sluggishness of the mind which neglects to begin good.

There appear to be plants of a moss like consistency growing in my fur. I wonder if they are edible? This tree. Home. If I can reach the crevice of those two branches I can probably nestle in. Sun. Must reach leaf cover before the sun hits my eyes. Blurry sun scorch. Climb then nestle. Climb then nestle. Climb then nestle. Sleepy.

In Hell, when we all eventually get there, the punishment for SLOTH is to be thrown in a pit of snakes. The color associated with SLOTH . . . incidentally, is light blue.

I can't actually look up, because I climb upside down. Occasionally, I will peep the sky. Such a pretty light blue. Once a week I make my way down the branches. Inch by inch. Once on the ground, I am able to void my bowels. And then I begin to go back up again.

My friend's father suffers from Bi-Polar Disorder, or Manic Depression. What this means is that for roughly half of the year, he is extremely ebullient and hypermanic . . . painting the roof and singing to strangers and that sort of thing. As a child growing up with him, this wasn't the half of the year that was worrisome to Yvette. The part that kind of sucked was the downside. Way, Way down side in which he was basically catatonic . . . confined to the bed in a dirty t-shirt with no ability to see to the basic needs of Yvette and her sister. Their mother had committed suicide when they were toddlers. This meant that when dad was on a down swing, there would be food-encrusted dishes piled up in the sink, dirty laundry piled up like little mountains around the house, and very little guidance given in terms of basic hygiene and eating habits for the wee ones. One time, Yvette had no clean clothes to wear to school. It was junior high, that magical time of intense fashion consciousness and a desire to not be ridiculous. Being a girl of some imagination, Yvette noticed that there was a perfectly clean pillowcase available. She also noticed a belt that would fit her. She cut a hole in the top of the pillowcase for her head, and two parallel holes on either side for her arms. Cinched with a belt, and she felt as if she could set off in her new shirt. Before the end of the day, she was universally known as "Pillowcase Girl."

The tree hangs over me with its protective shadows. A canopy. I cling to the branch so that I don't fall. Ascend and rest. Ascend and rest. Sometimes there is rain dripping down from leaflets. It is blurry for me to clearly see . . . I can't focus . . . but I feel it. Sleepy. Sleepy.

Apparently, the animal associated with the sin of Sloth is, oddly enough, not the Sloth. Rather, it is the goat. Let's see . . . isn't the goat associated with the devil, too? Lucifer, Satan, Beelzebub, the Antichrist? So Sloth must be a pretty big sin.

My husband, Seth drinks too much. He has a history of demons that he can't really confront head on, so he drowns them. He says that if he doesn't have enough to drink, he cannot sleep at night because his brain plagues him. So he drinks. From the time he gets home from work until the time he goes to bed, you will find a beer clutched in his hand. Then, he wakes up feeling groggy and slightly sick, and struggles through what he must do until he can become drunk again. He has so much potential. He could be an artist, an architect, an engineer. He is that smart and that good with his hands. But his focus seems to be on drowning the demons and doing what he must do to bring home a paycheck. Even though I know all of this intellectually, I do not have much patience with him. When I come home from work and he is huddled in a blanket on the couch, with the mess spread out around his feet, I slam things and I grumble. When he sleeps until ten or eleven, I play loud music, sometimes shouting. It is hard for me to remember that he is doing his best, that sometimes even getting up in the morning is a triumph.

This is my tree. These are my claws. They are long and sharp. I use them to ascend and nestle. Ascend and nestle. Sometimes I eat. Sometimes I scratch. Sometimes I look around, at the leafy canopy enveloping me. Mostly, I just sleep.

We are sinners, all.

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