Rendered Fat Content


Priests of Anubis, perform the opening of the mouth ritual; illustration from the Book of the Dead of Hunefer
"I have no idea who I'd be without them hectoring me."

I tell myself that I maintain my many rituals to retain my sanity, but truth told, they occasionally drive me crazy. I maintain many rituals, for I seem to be one of those beings more attuned to rhythms than melodies or rhymes. I hold an extreme sensitivity to timing, and sense in what sequences I should engage. I meditate before breakfast, never after, and insist upon fasting until after I've finished my morning writing. My doctor prescribed a pill I'm supposed to swallow a half-hour before breakfast, which disrupts my usual sequence of rituals, delaying breakfast until seemingly much later, so I can throw in my morning shaving and showering ritual before I eat. I fairly religiously maintain these little engagements, inevitably in precisely the same sequence, until long after I hear myself starting to complain about them. They sometimes seem more habitual than actual ritual, only occasionally inducing any increased mindfulness. I confess to complaining about them to myself, as if I'd been cursed with them rather than them having once been freely chosen. I might best explain them as Bitchuals now, rituals where the underlying incantation has become subvocalized complaint. I bitch to myself about 'having' to perform them.

I wouldn't trade my Bitchuals for the world and most of its charms, for it seems I'll come to harm should I disrupt my sacredly profane routine. Vacations, of course, could legally disrupt my routine without injecting any real harm into my life, but when home, I tend to stay very strictly on these rails lest I simply lose my whole train. With the Stay At Home Directive, I'm enjoined to stick close to the old castle, and I might now be suffering from over-repetition of the reliable old regimens. I begin most days with one foot dragging, a nagging sense of futility haunting me. These once freeing tasks own me now, and far from serving as mere preparatory practices, some days, they comprise the bulk of my productive actions. I catch myself preparing myself to prepare myself, and when I ask, "To what end?", I cannot reliably find any extensible purpose beyond just satisfying the initiation routine. I'm reliably all dressed up, but do not always find any place to go.

I believe that most maintain Bitchuals of one kind or another. Commuting used to be a great one for many, a must-do every workday, accompanied by endless complaints. The more disagreeable chores often accrete some form of ritual to help make them more palatable. Since The GrandOtter moved in, I've relocated to the basement bathroom, a space I share with the cat's covered litter box shrine. I insist, each morning, on emptying the thing, removing the lid, shaking out the rubber door mat laid before it, and then vacuuming out the room because I despise stepping barefoot on granular bits of litter. I disassemble the room each morning, precedent to almost everything else, and this private insistence serves as a slight barrier to entry. I cannot simply shower and go, but must engage in this obligatory Bitchual beforehand. Some days, I delay this stage of preparation out of sheer boredom at the prospect of performing it.

I'm presently engaged in re-re-reading my finished manuscripts, and I find this exercise simultaneously reassuring and off-putting, and this contradiction, confusing. I might think that I'd welcome any opportunity to lounge in my own punditry, but I find it slightly embarrassing, so this work, too, perhaps fairly characterized as integral to my freaking life's work, has become another Bitchual. I might need some sacred disruption in my life, for it might be true that Bitchuals expand to overfill any time allotted for them, and might well simply slip back into unnoteworthy routine given more severe time constraints. Left free to roam, though, they seem to take far more than what would otherwise seem their fair share of the calendar. They come to dominate. I suspect that the Ancients had a saying to explain this effect, sometime like: Focus too finely upon small things and they will come to dominate your life. What was started as a form of liberation, easily becomes prominent oppression. I both bless and curse my Bithuals. I have no idea who I'd be without them hectoring me.

This being Friday, I feel moved to perform my Friday Bitchual and briefly recount my writing week:

I began with a piece confessing to perhaps the most prominent feature of most all of my writing, that I'm a
SelfReferencer. I include the observer in what I describe.

I next wrote what I consider to be one of my very best ever pieces,
InterdependenceDay, a latter day manifesto for the world I experience, or, maybe, for the one I aspire to inhabit.

I next noticed how my neighborhood encourages a lifestyle of
SelfDeflection, where I enter through the garage and largely live looking out the back.

I followed that with a reflection on how my small misconceptions have tended to translate into
ParodyProductions, reinforcing the notion that I carry an obligation to tell myself the truth.

I then posted a prose poem, written early on a midsummer's morning while anticipating a

I spoke of
TheSphericalCow, and scientists' ability to find truth through absolute absurdity, and their studied capability of discarding initial assumptions, a skill I hoped we all might better develop.

I ended my writing week reflecting upon how
Behinder I feel these days, seemingly making barely modest progress.

Overall, a fitting series for a high summer sequestering. Thank you for sharing this space with me. Summer's already a quarter over and I can attest that I definitely feel NowHere, where ever I might actually be. I warmly appreciate each of you traveling through this uncharted territory with me. Have a great week!

©2020 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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