Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Mermaids and things

My sister, who lives in Warsaw, today sent me some notes on legends surrounding mermaids. Why? Because the mermaid is the mascot of Warsaw, and she knows that days prior to my arrival I especially get interested in things surrounding my home town.

But you have to ask yourself why a mermaid would be the city’s mascot. As someone pointed out, Warsaw is some 300 kilometers away from the sea. What sense does it make to give a mermaid a shield and a couple of good looking breasts and place her on every moving piece of public transportation, to say nothing of stamps and municipal buildings, supplemented by a couple of monuments honoring her?

And mermaid legends are a little bit unreal. Typically they go something like this: a fisherman finds her, falls in love, rescues her or she him and then either he is forever satisfied with a mermaid in his chambers or she turns out to be, in real life, a lovely, wealthy princess, with her lower body then suddenly transformed as she becomes readily available for marital consumption in all ways – as opposed to the mermaid who has to satisfy and be satisfied basically with her top torso, with perhaps a smack of the tail thrown in for those who love a little pain on the side.

Warsaw’s mermaid has been around for centuries. Currently, her monument resides in the center of the Old Town Square, and there is another, bigger version by the river. I grew up in her shadow. I liked her sword raised high, I liked that she was a woman, I liked that she belonged to Warsaw, and not, say, to inferior Krakow (there is great rivalry between the two cities: it has been an ongoing sibling thing for some 1000 years; I don’t know if Americans can appreciate that, given the baby status of all urban centers here).

So, a mermaid it is: right there, in the center of the Old Town of Warsaw, with her bottom covered but her top exposed. She’s awesome, even if a little out of place. Warsaw’s protector in some spiritual sense. Triumphant and …mermaid-like.

I'm okay, I'm okay!

A reader, concerned that my my recent days demonstrate a pace that has more elements of frantic than of either rational or calm, forwarded a super nice message which included his wishes for more restful days and a photo to put me in the mood for a nice moment of repose. I am passing it on, wishing the same for my readers, who have patiently endured my frenetic and overly wordy posts:
slow down, you're going too fast... Posted by Hello

Another one of those evenings where I fall asleep at the computer with a half-written post

It's midnight, I’m sitting here thinking: keep it short, keep it short.

My attempt at short:

Today (Monday) I get up worrying that maybe I have the beginnings of a tooth ache. I just had had everything checked several weeks ago, but I am having an acute attack of teeth hypochondria. So I go to the dentist.

Many people worry about being lost in a foreign country without knowing the language. That is never a concern for me. Instead, I have a hidden terror of being stuck in a country with a strange and frightening network of dentists incompetently playing with their instruments of torture. Like it’s a power trip or something to grind away at the exposed nerve endings of a person helplessly strapped to a chair.

Perhaps I remember too well what it was like going to the dentist as a kid in Poland. No pain killers. Just pain. Endless, horrible pain. I know much has changed since the fall of communism. I am sure market economy dentists are of a different breed and inflicting pain is not longer the top priority it once was. Still, I am left with an irrational fear of them and so I often find myself just hours before a flight sitting in a dentist’s chair here in Madison, attempting to convince my tooth doctor that there surely is a problem and could he please detect it and fix it before I take off.

My chart must have the following note scribbled in it: “this is one of those pre-departure emergency visits. If indulged, she will go away and leave us alone until the next planned crossing of the ocean." So this morning I am indulged. The dentist even took out some "special paint" and brushed it over the tooth in question with a “special formula” that would keep it from giving me trouble in the weeks to come. Even though, as he pointed out, there is nothing wrong with the tooth. (I think he just missed the emergent problem, that’s all. Still, I feel that I will survive the three weeks I am away.)

After my early trip to the dentist (I was there at 8:01, just as they were opening up), I deal with the suitcase issue (see post below).

Then I have a meeting at the Law School during which I feel like basically my entire professional life is being quickly, conspiratorily set for me as I am struggling to give coherent responses. I survive, but I come out sweating, being especially appreciative of Tom’s Natural Scent, because believe me, without it, I would have been too naturally scented for words.

Then, quickly in succession: a coffee meeting to talk about Poland, special dinner for a daughter, burgers with a couple of bloggers, a cosmo at Opus lounge with said daughter, and then, finally, a minute with the computer, with HENIEK blasting away in the background.

[HENIEK is a spirited Polish folk song that my pals in Poland presented me with (on a CD) a few years back. I listen to it more than I will EVER admit to (just about) anyone. ]

And before I know it, I wake up, find the half-written post, along with a toy bird perched at the side of the keyboard and a pair of sunglasses casually folded next to it. What was I doing? Could it be that I was singing HENIEK with sunglasses on? To a toy bird? I do not remember. Sleep took over. This morning (Tuesday), I am only cleaning up the pieces of an abrupt ending to a long day.