You know the place. You’re stuck. Whatever it is you’re doing, everything has come to a screeching halt, and you feel the burn of skid marks on your hiennie. If you’re like me, you play with the grass for a little while, rub your rear, look around, and hope you imagined the whole thing. Nope. Still stuck.

In my mind’s eye, I pick up the Stuck and turn it over, looking for a pry spot. Turns out Stuck is a continuous circle: a nice round ball. Very Zen. Huh. Okay.

I try to become One with the Stuck.

Ohmmm. I’m contemplating my stuckness. Ohmmmmmm. I’m making friends with it. I’m releasing Stuck into the Universal Beingness. Inhale in….exhale out…inhale in…wonder what’s for lunch….exhale out…inhale in…can I finagel McDonald’s into the calorie budget?….exhale out….

Having no attention span is problematic.

I could focus on my inability to focus instead. No, wait: Known.  Black . Hole. Deviate! Down periscope! AAahhhhOOOOgah…AaahOOOgah. Dive…DIVE!

Okay what do I know about being stuck? What have I personally experienced about getting un-stuck?

Surprise! It comes back to an animal.

Celeste got sick.  No, Celeste is not a dog or a cat.  Think smaller with carapace.  Bingo, you got it!  Celeste is a box turtle*. 

The vet was casual and reassuring: it’s just an innerear infection.  Easily treatable.  One shot, twice a day for seven days. He handed me a bag of syringes and a vial of antibiotics.  I held them away from my body as if they were radioactive. Okaaaaaay…


He demonstrates: wait till she’s moving, grab a leg, and inject between the scales. Tip: it’s a little dicey doing this with your eyes closed, though it will protect you from future infection. I manage to shoot her up that evening.  I may be imagining this…but is she a little perkier?

Next morning, I call the vet in a panic. I’m late for work.  Turns out turtles are smart. No way was she going to let even a toenail out of her shell after the second shot. Here we have the classic stuck: there is NOTHING more stuck than an angry turtle – with an earache – jammed into its shell.

The vet laughed. A lot. No I didn’t need to drop her off for a weeks worth of turtle boarding and skilled turtle nursing. His advice: I needed to pick the hunkered shell up out of the aquarium, get down on the floor and push her like a toy car. Vroom vroom. This would somehow kick in her instinct to unhinge the drawbridge, her feet and head would come out, and she’d start walking. Voila. Grab a leg. inject.

Sure. Whatever. I drop my handbag, pull off my heels, get on the floor in my last pair of run-less stockings and start driving the turtle shell across the carpet.


I start doodling patterns in the pile. Hey..this is sort of fun: turtle art? I start a crop circle.  I see an eye peering through as her hinges start to unhinge. Two minutes and four crop circles later, her head is all the way out, beak up, with all four legs shoving aside imaginary sand to move forward. Even her teeny little tail is out. I grab a leg, give her the shot, and just for the heck of it, push her around a little bit more. She’s craning her head this way and that, to see exactly where she’s taking herself.

Stuck? Act as if I’m moving.

Maybe, just maybe, my brain will start sending out ancient little clawed legs to shove aside the imaginary sand, and I’ll make it to the ocean.


*I belong to that sub-group of animal lovers that: a) considers a turtle company, and b) would actually notice if a turtle didn’t feel well.

Copyright © 2009. The Literary Horse. All rights reserved.

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