Ennui and Jujubes

I’ve always liked the word ennui.

It’s hard not to like such an great word. Jejune ain’t bad either, even if it sounds like some kind of candy you’d get at a movie theater. Leave it to Plath to mash those two together.

I sent resumes to several places the past ten days, and it’s like being pulled in a million different directions in an annoying algebraic equation without any hope of getting answers.

What if x place hires me? Will my life will change in a, b, and c ways? Etc. Hence the ennui. And Jujubes. Or whatever. Husband-Man, ever at the fore, sent me a posting for a writing position in D.C.

I emailed back that I didn’t think the horses would like D. C. very much. Even so, I’m starting to grow used to the idea that I’m either going to have a hellish commute or we’re going to have to outright move for me to find a job.

One of the columnists we carried in the newspaper tried to convince me to start my own syndicated column, but as I pointed out to him, there isn’t a lot of money in that (in fact, he’d let us use his column for free for the last three years after I told him we couldn’t afford to carry him any more). I also have a very hard time keeping politics out of my opinion columns. Bill mastered the art of that long ago.

While killing time in Moses Lake today (waiting for Things #1 and #2 to register at the local community college) I picked up some Maeve Binchy. I haven’t been into the Goodwill up there for some time and was pleasantly surprised to see some decent books up there. Binchy is compulsively readable and entertaining…just the thing for summer. I’m still plowing through  A Short History of Nearly Everything by William Bryson for the second time (I love this book, but like all weighty nonfiction you can’t just zoom through it).  I’m trying to figure out a way to make all three of my sons read it this summer.

Bryson’s book was an immediate hit with me, probably because I got dragged fossil hunting more times than I can count when I was a kid but never really had a handle on the history of our planet. His chapters on ancient history are excellent and filled with all kinds of anecdotes that really help math-impaired people like me get some concept of what a billion years means.

And speaking of ancient history, one of my favorite newspaper stories was about a fossilized mammoth bone that turned up after a particularly bad irrigation washout east of Royal City. I had the pleasure of visiting with two paleontologists (below) whose bantering made for a hilarious afternoon. We ended up using a photo of the folks who found the bone with the story thanks to Dr. Moody’s steadfast refusal to look at me while I was shooting.

Paleontologists, mammoths, and afghans, oh my!

I didn’t crop the photo so you all could enjoy the requisite wacky afghan on the back of the couch and all the “Nik-Naks” (spelling courtesy a sign seen during my meanderings at the Goodwill this morning).

I can’t retain facts like I used to (which is probably why I’m re-reading Bryson’s book) but I remember these two talking about how stressful paleontology can be. I had to be deliberately vague in the story about where the bone was located, since paleontologists always have to worry about swarms of people showing up at dig sites. Dr. Gus (on the left) brought up his alcoholism almost as an aside–in a living room full of strangers and the press, no less–and said although he’d been sober for many years, he was still grateful for every day he had without that suffering. It would’ve been a great detail for a Rolling Stone article (“Rock Star Paleontologists” maybe?….ha) but even though I didn’t mention what he’d said in my article, I was impressed with his honesty (which happened to come at a very serendipitous time for yours truly). I sure wish I’d had the opportunity to take a class from either one of these characters.

I wrote a really good lede (if I do say so myself) for this article about how it was elephant season on the Royal Slope. Sadly, it’s pretty obvious from looking back over my stories which ones I enjoyed writing the most. The bone was from a Columbian mammoth, from an animal that probably died about 14,000 years ago (the docs dated it thanks to the layers of ash they’d found it in).

Trying to get a handle on that kind of time makes it impossible not to have a little more perspective on the smidgen we’re allowed on our little watery globe.

Too short a time to risk much ennui.


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