Saturday, June 05, 2004


Attentive readers will doubtless have noticed the recent change to the title and graphic of this page. Partly it's a whim—a desire to track the permutations of the archetypal Jack from architect to monster-masher—and partly it's because I was getting sick of all the search-engine hits I was getting looking for the nursery rhyme "The House that Jack Built" (which apparently—who knew?—has some crypto-political significance, although I never quite worked out what it was).

But there's a real shift here, too. Because I honest-to-God do feel like I've killed a monster.

After nine months of unemployment and spiraling debt, I'm pulling a regular paycheck again. The wolf, if still howling balefully in the middle distance, is at least no longer on the doorstep. Much of the great looming anxiety that's marked the last year has dissipated.

But what the fairy tales don't mention is that killing the giant is not in itself an end to all problems. That nearly every action creates as many problems as it solves is a hard truth to accept. We want the quick fix, the neat resolution, the happily-ever-after. But after the beanstalk comes down, there's still the issue of how to dispose of the huge, stinking corpse in your back garden. And that becomes your new day-to-day reality.

I think of the old joke that I first heard from Lea Hernandez:

Q: How do you eat a whale's asshole?
A: One bite at a time.

No comments: