It’s been 10 days since arriving in Baton Rouge and every day is full of discovery. The number of people who’ve asked “Why did you come here?” as in why would anyone choose to move here is really amusing. We’ve gotten that question from both locals and transplants. Maybe we haven’t been here long enough to see all the things wrong with it, or we haven’t been here long enough to love it enough to knock it like they do.
I thought I would miss the familiar plant life of New England, but instead I’ve been excided discovering the different plants and specially animals in our neighborhood. A gecko or similar lizard returns nightly to our front window so he can simultaneously hunt bugs and taunt our cats. The birds that frequent our yard have voices I’ve never heard before. And my favorite encounter so far is a small toad that is silent until just after a heavy rain. When the ground is wet and mildly flooded the toads call for mates. The best I can describe is they sound like miniscule sheep and they are loud. I got close enough to one that it screamed “MAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!” in my face.
Not all the encounters with the natural world have been the fun ones. A day after giving our cats a flea treatment we discover they have fleas. We don’t know how long they’ve had the parasites or if the fleas have infested the house so we go out and buy flea powder for the rugs and furniture. The previous tenants left behind a small vacuum and we want to get treat the possible infestation immediately. We give the cats some extra treatment, spread the powder wait a while, and go to vacuum. The machine dies shortly after it fires up.
We try to troubleshoot the problem but rather than spend a long time on it we go buy a new vacuum, one of the stick style ones that can transform in to smaller hand vac for the stairs. The stick vac is not designed for the job at hand and it over fills, shoots powder in to the atmosphere overheats and shuts itself off a couple of times. Eventually we have to concede that cleaning the place will be a 2 part and 2 day job. I get really frustrated and am rather unkind to myself as a result. This morning I made a point to thank L. for being the level headed one last night.
I visualized last night going very different yesterday. I imagined a calm evening writing a blog post about my reading goals and the first visit to campus. That wasn’t how things went. In a way it reflects my expectations in coming to grad school and reminds me where my work lies. I’ve been expecting that leaving the hustle of my home market to study and having a set schedule instead of the inconsistent schedule of the working artist, would create a sense of calm for me. I thought that I could rely on external changes to make me chill. The Battle of the Fleas is a reminder that’s not the case. Life won’t stop because I want to write a blog post, or need to read a thousand pages by dawn. The fleas are coming. It’s on me to create that sense of centeredness internally so I can respond to them and any other challenge from that place. Did not expect to learn so much from a few fleas.