Friday, May 04, 2007
Mysteries of Fate and Transport
Fate and transport.
I love that term, even though it evokes a dreadful memory. Edit that to say, formerly dreadful.
First, the memory. Or, as Vladimir Nabokov memorably put it, in the wondrous title of a piercing and singular autobiography: Speak, Memory. (Anyone interested in writers or writing should check out the terrific essay at the link.)
It's 2002. I'm a technical editor and writer ("Project Specialist") at an environmental engineering firm. Oh. Let's speak it. (Why not? I am too old and detached from it to care or fear.) It was Blasland, Bouck & Lee, or BBL. (Today it goes by something like "BBL, an Arcadis company.") The client needs a chapter on the "fate and transport of constituents" at a contaminated site. We cannot, however, use the words "contaminated" or "contaminant" or "contaminants." In language -twisting the evil propagandist Joseph Goebbels could appreciate, we euphemistically call the pollutants or contaminants "constituents," evoking thoughts of the electorate or at worst neutral players in the drama authored by Mother Nature. I am tasked with writing Chapter 6, if I recall correctly, of a feasibility study (FS), or maybe it's a remedial investigation (RI). There's one problem: I am not in any manner an expert on the fate and transport of anything, certainly not constituents. I read up on everything I can find (articles, websites, in-house technical journals). I enlist the help a brilliant colleague, but he too is not an expert on fate and transport. But no one else wants to help; it is not corporately expedient. In fact, it is de rigueur not to help me. The real corporate expert, out in the Rocky Mountains, could conceivably help but does not, owing to schedule, distraction, indifference, malice, or, what?, his pending sex-change operation. He doesn't write one word to help me but charges 40-some hours to the project, for feck's sake. I can't sleep. My eyes are hollow. I am falling apart, ready to cry at anything or anyone. My therapist sees me in ruins. I work on drafts until 1 a.m. at home. I submit it to the clients. They hate it. My superior hangs me out to dry. That is my fate, transported there by misery and madness.
That was then.
Today, somebody at my current workplace mentioned something about aquifers, and it transported me back to those fateful days. Those former days were the beginning of the end of that toxic job.
Tonight, walking the dog, the sky bright at the horizon, a blue of Caribbean waters deepening into a nightly dark blue denim of dreams and blankets, starlit fabric heralding a creeping absence of day and light, I wondered at the fate and transport of the blossomed and billowing forsythias competing for hue and chroma with the double-yellow stripe in the middle of the park road.
I wondered at the fate and transport of emerald hills carpeted fresh and raw as any dusk in Ireland.
What is my own fate and how will I be transported there?
My mind bubbled with echoes of virility and nubility seen at the mall I just returned from (okay, I'll fess up: that's a highfalutin way to describe my ogling of scantily clad female beauty -- at least scanty compared to the coated cocoons of wintry dress sported round these parts for about nine months of the year).
Fate and transport. We see it all over.
I get home and a silverfish centipede scampers in the dark of the kitchen. I cringe at them. I fear and loathe them. I kill it by stepping on it with my shoes, slightly disappointed the dog or one of the cats didn't see it first to do my dirty work. Then it would seem more, um, natural.
Moments later, in the bathroom off the kitchen, it's a spider. I take a tissue and catch it and toss it into the toilet bowl while continuing with the fate and transport of the not-quite-forsythia-colored streaming of my personal constituents. After earlier browsing through Buddhist books and after buying A Book of Hours illustrated by my high-school teacher John Giuliani, I admit it wasn't kindly to Mr. Spider. Yes, I suppose I could've tossed him or her outside.
But I was in the middle of my own surficial water discharge/recharge cycle.
Such is my fate.
May this posting transport you to somewhere you have not been to before.
P.S. As you know, I'm annoyed that the poster up above is missing the comma after wildlife; plus the rest of its punctuation is a dog's breakfast.