05 August 2008

Cemetery walks and other news

Since I can't go to yoga until I get new contacts (semi-custom lenses have been ordered though!), I've been taking walks instead - gotta keep the blood moving. Plus I felt really fat and sluggish and gross from not getting any exercise. My goal is to walk for about forty minutes every day, but so far the every day thing hasn't quite panned out. I manage it four or five times a week, though.

It's not in Somerville, it's right over the line in Arlington and there's a muddy shallow brook (the Mystic Brook, of Mystic Brook Parkway fame, for locals) that borders one side of the cemetary which is home to some enormous fat-bodied carp, turtles, ducks, as well as some shopping carts and traffic cones. Besides providing an eternal resting place for the dead, the cemetery also seems to be temporary housing for a hobo. I discovered his/her camp when trying to find my way into the cemetery (my terrible sense of direction meant that I couldn't remember the way in from last time, so I walked along the river thinking that would get me into the cemetery.

It did, via a little unclaimed patch of land with a well-worn track - clearly some kind of unofficial back entrance to the cemetery. I noticed as I was getting in that there was a bunch of rubbish and some branches that looked almost like a lean-to ... I wandered further along and saw a bunch of clothes - like, a couple of whole outfits - strung along the cemetery fence, which I thought was weird. Maybe some underpants and the odd t-shirt from drinking, copulating people was to be expected, but you don't forget that you wore jeans that day and leave without them. Then I noticed that there was a bedspread hung on the fence, and a big bar of Irish Spring on top of that. Oh. Those branches didn't just look like a good place for a fort, they were someone's house. Also, he/she must have been washing their clothes in the brook, which is muddy and seems like it wouldn't exactly be ideal for cleanliness. But where else are you going to get running water? And it's not like someone who's homeless has six bucks in quarters to hit the laundromat with.

Ironically, I was listening to Howards End at the time (that's a very good recording by Elizabeth Klett that I linked to) - anyway, among other things, Howards End is about housing and finding your place in the world. So of course I felt guilty, listening away to Forster on my iPod when this other person didn't have any home to go to or power chargers to plug their iPods into, or a job to give them an iPod in the first place. Then I got over the guilt and tiptoed away from Hobo Corner. In succeeding walks, I've found that the hobo uses Degree deodorant (travel size), drinks white wine and smokes cigarettes.

I also feel guilty about strolling through the cemetery like it's a park, since it's not a park ... but on the other hand, I'm probably the only one (besides the hobo) who is looking at all the gravestones and admiring them and wondering about the lives of the people under the stones. I don't know, if I was dead, I don't think I'd mind if someone wandered around my cemetery thinking. I've never seen a single mourner there, though a few graves always have fresh flowers. So despite my guilt, I haven't stopped going there for my walks.

Anyway, I'm so wracked with guilt all the time that it's hard to tell what's valid and what's not. On the way to the cemetery there is a 4 way traffic light. It's a busy intersection, so as a pedestrian, you really need to press the button, or you're not going to be able to cross. I am so retardedly self-effacing that it took me five minutes to push the button - I didn't want to inconvenience the cars by making them stop at a red light, so I was waiting for a break in the traffic, which never came. Now I just push the button but it took a minute for me to figure out that yes, I've got as much right to push the button and make the cars wait as the cars have to carry on going when they've got the green.

But that's enough about my neuroses for now, I think. The other news I wanted to mention is that we're getting a kitten. (Mom, I know - this is totally not, like, a good or smart idea.) But someone in Dave's nursing class found a kitten in her yard and took him in. She says he's super sweet and she'd keep himself, except her existing cat doesn't like him, and she is determined not to take him to a shelter, but to find a home herself. Not like our cats will like him better, except for Simone, who loves everyone and persists in grooming Inty even though she gets swatted for her trouble after about three licks.

Anyway - Dave texted me one night to say, "this girl in my class has a kitten who needs a home. Do we want a kitten?" So I replied, sensibly, that kittens are cute but we probably don't need any more cats right now, and that was the end of it. Except he kept mentioning this kitten, so finally I realized what was going on and said, "honey, if you want a kitten we can have the kitten." So we are going to have a little male who will probably need to be neutered toot sweet - from the pictures I've seen, he looks like he's about 12 weeks. He doesn't have FeLV, thank fuck - the classmate got him tested - but he'll need his shots.

So that's the scoop for now.


Kaethe said...

When I moved here I found myself in a small town some of my ancestors had come from. Yeah, apparently, I wasn't paying much attention to that sort of thing growing up. Anyway. There's something really cool about having the kid's preschool playground right next to the family plot. Or hunting for Easter eggs amidst the predecessor's headstones.

Visit away, I say.

Also, congrats on the new kitten. Be excellent to each other.

Zak said...

I'm fascinated by your hobo encounters. It almost sounds like you happened upon a gypsy camp, complete with laundry and body-washing facilities. Do you think this person was cleaning clothes and him/herself in the Mystic Brook? The homeless men who live near us have a deal going with the local underage kids, whereby the kids trade weed for booze purchased for them by the homeless. An interesting exchange, particularly from a legal perspective.

zak said...
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Cara deBeer said...

zak, I think I told you at some point (possibly while lost in Danvers looking for gas stations) that in high school I didn't do much drinking because drugs were waaaaay easier to come by on a boarding school campus - dealers don't have liquor licenses to lose if they sell to kids. Also, booze is kinda bulky.

Katharine Weber said...

Simone will mother this kitten madly, which will help with the group dynamics.

And you should practice feeling morally superior as a pedestrian with your tiny carbon footprint. You are utterly entitled to stop traffic.

Cara deBeer said...

I am hoping so, too, about the improved group dynamics. I do think Inty is already a little less screamy because Simone is constantly trying to interact and be friends with her.

But jesus - we are going to have a cat colony!