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September 21, 2008 / Maleesha Kovnesky

A Frog in Wax

I’m sitting here at my laptop finishing the last eggplant from the garden.  I’m sad about that.  I had a blast this summer gardening and the eggplant was a surprise…I didn’t think any of it would grow.  I just finished eating a handful of small Thai green eggplant, sauteed with a few tomatoes, olive oil, and black bean garlic sauce.  I’m trying to think of what to write about. 

I wrote 8500 words this weekend, sore hands and all, to a new story I’m writing.  It’s coming to me easily and I am thankful for that.  I could write about my sweater collection, which I swear is coming (riveting, no?) but that would mean I have to get the camera out and take pictures of my sweaters.  This will be a feat done one evening this week.  Wasband just left for a week long photography trip to the Grand Tetons, so while he’s down there getting chased by bears, I’ll be running the house myself.  This is fine since the hoof and mouth is finally clearing up. 

The weather is gloomy.  There’s a lot to add to the gloom in the air.  I finally talked to Carli down in Houston, who just got power back to her house.  She said that power is still out around most of the city, and every time a gas station or a grocery store gets power, it’s instantly swamped with the masses that are trying to resupply.  I haven’t seen anything about Hurricane Ike in the news here for days, so I found it interesting to hear that there are still so many challenges there.  She said that on her drive to work there are several stoplights that are turned around and facing the wrong direction…not that it matters, since the power is out anyway.  She said it was “eerie” to drive to work crossing these intersections that were supposed to have stoplights, but it’s pretty much a “you’re on your own” sort of system for most people right now.  While most of us have already forgotten about that news, they’re still trying to find fresh food to eat.   

The news has mostly been about the massive $700 billion bailout that ol’ GW wants to give to these failing financial giants, you know, because it wouldn’t be fair to let them go bust like they ought to.  I don’t pretend to know much about global financial markets, but I do have the good sense to know that the $700 billion will be coming out of our tax dollars.  And my children’s.  And their children’s.  But hey, it was already going to be that way because of the incredibly astronomical cost of the war in Iraq that doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. 

As a regular person with a job, some kids, and hobbies, this news really deflated me.  I get that the economy is failing, but this bailout isn’t guaranteed to fix it, either.  And if it doesn’t fix it, then we’re still out $700 billion and now even deeper in the hole.  At that point, we might as well start learning Mandarin and find a way to like melamine in our dairy products. 

A long time ago during a military exercise in North Carolina, there were a couple hundred Marines inside a warehouse waiting for something (I don’t remember what…we were always waiting for something).  We were huddled in our respective groups, talking and complaining and joking around.  It was dusk, humid, and hot.  There were dozens of those citronella candles burning in the corners of the cement floored warehouse, presumably to keep the Cessna-sized mosquitoes away.  Not that it was working. 

A platoon of infantrymen was nearby, and one of them caught a frog that had the misfortune to hop through a warehouse full of bored Marines.  A particularly cruel person grabbed the frog from the man, and laughing, he dropped it into one of the citronella buckets.  I dashed over to see it, I’m not sure why.  I wasn’t going to be able to save a stupid frog in a bucket of melted wax.  It lived for a few moments, swimming in the hot yellow wax, certainly trying to find the strength to escape.  Finally it stopped moving.  The dead frog didn’t rise to the top, but it didn’t sink, either.  It just floated there, dead, suspended in wax.

I haven’t thought about that frog since the day it happened, but hearing about another blow to the lives of Everyday Janes and Joes made the image of the floating frog pop into my mind.  That’s kind of how I imagine our lives are right now.  Floating.  Not able to get to the surface where there is fresh air.  Not able to plant feet on solid ground.  Knowing that the quality of your existence on Earth is subject to someone bigger and more powerful than you are.

It will be interesting to hear what the outcome of this bailout is, and how it affects us in the long term.  In the meantime, I wish I had more of that eggplant.  It was delicious.

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8 Comments

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  1. Carli / Sep 26 2008 4:48 pm

    Hurricaine Ike update…
    As of today, there are still over 500,000 “customers” without power down here in the Houston area as a result of Ike and an entire household is considered to be one “customer.” At our peak I believe there were over 2.5 or so million “customers” in the dark. I have many friends and acquaintences who are still without power (it got up to 90 degrees today) and some who just recently got water. It’s quite odd, there is a strange comradery amongst everyone since noone was unaffected…noone. I find myself asking complete strangers the same two questions, “did you have much damage?” and “do you have power?” I suppose we all have to stick together down here because it’s clear we’re now yesterday’s news. Things certainly aren’t back to normal. It was only two days ago (11 days after the storm) that folks were allowed to even go back to Galveston to see what remains of their homes. Lives have been turned upside down….not for just say 30,000 or 40,000 people, but for the over five million plus people living in the fourth largest city in the United States. Not to mention the millions of people outside our immediate area that also were hit with the storm as it traversed the country. But,we will recover…we will all once again have that little luxury called “electricity” and we’ll all be able to watch the five o’clock news talk in great depth about which political figures are having affairs, who’s the latest celebrity to get a nose job, and how it’s now possible to clone your favorite pet….but maybe, just maybe…if our power stays on long enough to watch until 5:57, we might just see a little blip across the tickerboard mention that Houston….we have a problem.

  2. Jodi / Sep 25 2008 6:03 am

    I feel a little like that frog myself these days.

    It’s good that you were able to still find some joy in your eggplant, and even better that your writing is coming so easily. Keep us posted on your progress.

  3. Allison / Sep 23 2008 3:44 am

    I’m looking forward to your story about your sweater collection (pictures included) 🙂

  4. faemom / Sep 22 2008 2:14 pm

    That was a great post. I think you illustrated the feeling of our country so perfectly, floating without solid ground under our feet. I think maybe this is why we are so into the elections, hoping that someone (any one) can save us.

  5. crisitunity / Sep 22 2008 7:14 am

    What a marvelous, thoughtful post. I was moved by the plight of that poor frog.

    BF explained to me that we’re currently trying to avoid what happened in Japan in the nineties. Japan’s economy started spiraling down and down and it just kept going, getting worse and worse, and throughout this time there were little mini-measures taken to try and harden the wax again, but they kept failing. Economists have figured out that if Japan had taken giant, bold measures instead, even one big move could have saved their economy from going as far down as it did. Apparently that’s what we’re trying to do. I asked him why we seem to have taken a number of these bold measures (stimulus checks, Fannie Mae bailout, now this) and none of them seems to be preventing a recession, and he said to ask his brother, who is far more of a financial whiz than either of us ever will be.

    Without these banks functioning, our economy will shrivel up and die; without Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, we lose the financial value of Germany’s GDP. That does not keep me from being angry that it’s necessary for the government to bail them out. Doesn’t it tread on the private/public problem too?

    I just don’t know enough about it to be properly angry. Instead, I’m just confusedly angry, which is not, I think, how an American citizen is supposed to feel.

    The only positive I can think of is that with this terrible mess, we can always clear the decks and start over with a better system, as was the result of the ’29 crash.

    That was long! Sorry.

    We all might be better off in the long run, if it comes to that.

  6. romi41 / Sep 21 2008 9:25 pm

    the frog in the wax with the deadened eyes really encapsulated the somewhat dark nature of this post…I hope there’s light on the way, but in the meantime you’re a great writers in multiple genres…it’s no eggplant but hey 😉 …

  7. morethananelectrician / Sep 21 2008 7:37 pm

    I have been spending a lot of research and study on the bailout and the surrounding circumstances…what a mess the government has created.

    In the 90s, the government decided everyone needed to have a house. So they required that the lenders issue a percent of their loans in the sub-prime range. These smaller banks didn’t want to carry these bad loans, so they were immediately sold to these larger banks, who then started to trade them on Wall Street.

    The whole thing is a mess. I am so much against this whole thing, but the alternative is that the banks stop lending money for about five years (credit cards, auto loans, businesses). This would crush the whole system. Earlier in the week, I knew this was a bad idea. Now, I see it as the only option.

    The government is going to try to gain more control over our lives with this (and that pains me greatly since the government does NOTHING other than defend our country well. )

    Sorry for the wordiness!

    Thanks for the wordiness, actually. It’s all interesting. I guess I see why they “have” to do it, but from what I understand that if the bailout occurs, it’s still not guaranteed to work, and at that point the economy will never recover. I guess there’s not much to be done but sit back and watch the show.

  8. teeni / Sep 21 2008 5:26 pm

    I’m glad to hear you are making progress on your story. That’s a good way to describe the bailout but I sure hate people who are needlessly cruel to other living things. Jerk. I wish you had more eggplant too. I wish you had so much that you would send me some. Produce from the garden is the best! 🙂

    🙂 It is. The guy was certainly a jerk. I imagine he’s either in prison or emptying grease bins at McDonalds today.

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