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The Pathetic Fallacy is My Normalcy

May 25th, 2005 · No Comments

English critic John Ruskin coined the term ‘pathetic fallacy’ to describe the way in which nature reflected the events in a piece of writing. For example, dark clouds are overbearing and bring bad fortune with them. Today was no exception to this rule.

Work was fine, although I apparently left my lights on in the morning and thus arrived back to my car to find that it wouldn’t start. For owners of cars that have anti-theft devices in their stereos, if your battery dies, make sure that you don’t attempt to enter a ‘lock code’ if you’re not sure that it’s the right one. About a year ago, my battery died, and I ended up spending $70 or so to have Mitsubishi reset my stereo – all because I though I was uber-l33t and could hack my stereo code. In any event, the security people at my place of work luckily had a jump-starter on hand and so I was able to quickly get the car going again.

On my way out, I bumped into two people that I had happened to meet in my first two days of work. The first, a fellow intern, was waiting outside along the second, an agent that ironically enough had been one of the key people involved in creating the job position that I was working in 12 years prior (the gentleman referenced here had been chosen to select a software package for the organization; the package he chose became the software that I test). They quipped about my need for a jump starter as I walked in and out of the building. As I walked into the building to return the device, one other gentleman who was standing with the others jokingly asked, “Hey, now that your car is going, can you take us to the train station?” Now, I figured that he meant the train station in Tarrytown – which of course is right down Route 9, literally being only a tenth of a mile out of the way for me. Surely enough that was where they were headed.

They were apparently late for their train and were waiting for a cab. Although I didn’t get them back in time for their train, I did save them a couple of dollars, and made double use of my vehicle, which of course made me feel great. That was just about the only thing that made me feel great today. Work was somewhat of a headache. It almost feels like people are talking down to me no matter how simple the subject. I think they’re offended by my obsession with efficiency. For example, today I asked a supervisor if I could use PDF to submit a paperless report to her. In the future, she said, that might be a good idea. In the meantime, though, she’s having me go through 180 pages of color printed paper and perform tests on various functions in their software. To get a better understanding of exactly how much it really costs to print 180 pages of paper in color, consider this: at a mere 5 cents per page, that’s $9. Figure that being nearly half a ream of paper that it’s another $2. It cost $11 to give me 180 sheets of paper that I didn’t want. At the very least, she should have printed it on both sides to save the other 90 sheets. Consider all the effort wasted creating that paper. Waste makes me mad. Waste not, want not, right? Not to mention that because I was testing software on a computer, if I had not been forced to multitask between a computer and a stack of unbound papers, I could have written down my notes faster, and in a less sloppy way. I’m testing software; everyone involved has a computer – why are we wasting so much paper? To put it in a different way, why are we wasting so much money?

If I was only complaining about waste today, though, I’d consider myself lucky. Aside from the fact that I think that no one really cares about me now, I think that I’ve done a terrible job caring for the people I should have cared for all my life. Today was my father’s birthday, and I didn’t get him a gift (yet). I’m going to. But aside from the fact that I was too selfish to get him a gift despite all he’s done for me, I saw my grandmother today. She is in stage five of Alzheimer’s disease. She kept asking my brother when he was going “back to Italy”. In fact, she thought that my brother was her father at Easter time. The thought of cognitive decline frightens me greatly. It was so hard to see that she was slowly slipping away, and I never realized how bad it was until it was too late. Today, she’s completely incapable of even holding a conversation, and there’s nothing I can ever do to get the grandmother that I knew back. Sure, she’s still there physically, but mentally, she’s practically a vegetable. She was wearing three dresses and a nightgown, for example. When she spoke, it was hard to follow because she’d slip between English and Italian without warning. My father just would nod his head and agree and laugh to most of what she said. For months I’ve wanted to believe that it couldn’t possibly be the right way to talk to her. I want to really believe that if you just say the right thing, she’ll understand.

But it seems more and more like she won’t, and there’s nothing that I can do to change that. I’d give anything in the world to be able to – not just for my grandmother, but for anyone in her state. I don’t even know if she’s suffering, because one moment she’ll look sad and the next she’ll look fine. But deep down inside, I think that she’s sad that I didn’t go visit her more when I was younger. Each time I talk to her, she asks when I’m coming next, and reminds me that I never come to visit her. It’s like that’s the one thing that’s ingrained into her deep down that she’s holding on to.

I just wish that it wasn’t.

My grandmother, me, and my brother at my father's house.  Photo credit: Nancy U.
My grandmother, me, and my brother in the kitchen at my father’s house, celebrating my father’s 53rd birthday over some chicken parmagiana and some hearty discussion.

Tags: Scary Stuff

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