Consider the owl

You will not be punished for your anger; you will be punished by your anger. – Buddha

Hibou au bout du rouleau (24 March 2021)

Sadness and anger are quite unpleasant as far as emotions go, and yet they are a normal part of the human experience. Essential, even. Take Riley, the protagonist in Pixar’s 2015 animated movie Inside Out, for example. In order to overcome a difficult moment in her life, she must absolutely listen to what her sadness has to say. The same goes for Riad Sattouf in the sixth volume of his biographical graphic novels, L’Arabe du futur. “Les émotions,” histherapist tells him, “sont comme nos enfants. Si on ne les écoute pas et si on ne s’en occupe pas elles tournent mal” (page 143). In your case, the child in question is not sadness, but anger.

Chèvre qui cherche le mal (25 March 2021)

Consider for a moment the following words, which you might have said once or twice to your ex-husband when he was still your husband but no longer wanted to be your husband: “You’re a fucking asshole!”

What poetry.

Girafe qui gère mal sa colère (27 March 2021)

On their surface, these words appear to be about a woman expressing her anger at a man who might very well be an actual fucking asshole. He did, after all, make a joint decision with the woman to not have children. She is now 43 and childless with nothing of any significant value to show for her time on earth. It’s pretty much too late for her to come back on this decision now. This fucking asshole, on the other hand, can easily come back on it, and the woman is so angry about this.

Lapin qui se lasse de toute cette merde (29 March 2021)

In reality, these words have nothing to do with the man and even less to do with the woman’s desire for children since at no point in her life has she ever truly wished to be a mother. The words are for herself. She’s the fucking asshole. She’d had a great partnership with the man. He’d been her best friend. She’d respected him, looked up to him. She’d even loved him, you could say. The problem, foolish as it may sound to those of you who don’t care about this kind of thing, is that the relationship never corresponded to her vision of romantic love. It had always left her feeling incredibly empty and unfulfilled. 

Pingouin au bord de péter un câble (31 March 2021)

And what had the woman done with this feeling? She’d suppressed it. Ignored it. Everything else was so great, she’d told herself. She wasn’t about to throw the man away just because he wasn’t a romantic. She had hoped that it would come with time. But it never did. She’d been foolish to believe it ever would. And here he was, seventeen long years later, throwing her away. If she’s hurting now, if she’s regretting the years lost, it’s her own damn fault. She hadn’t listened to her heart, and she is so angry at herself.

Watusi qui accapare tout le wigwam (2 April 2021)

At her mother, too, come to find out.

For the eighteen years she had lived under her mother’s rule, it had been tais toi donc here and ferme ta bouche there. This was how you kept the peace. You shut up. You told other people to shut up. You told your heart to shut up. All to keep the peace. Except that it hadn’t been peaceful at all. She’d been miserable. She had not felt fulfilled in her relationship. She had known from the very beginning that she never would be. And yet, she had not given voice to her feelings. She’d told them to shut up, just like her mother had taught her. And what did she get in return for her obedience to this flawed and irrational training? The upending of a life she would never have built if she had not shut up in the first place!

Fourmi qui fait semblant de s’intéresser (7 April 2021)
Alligator qui n’a rien à foutre (9 April 2021)

You would not be like her, you’d sworn! You would not be like this controlling, passive aggressive, and unbendingly strict woman! And yet here you are! If the perfectly pleasing and wonderfully stable marriage you had with Jerry went straight down the shitter, it’s not because Jerry was controlling, passive aggressive, and unbendingly strict. No wonder you’re pissed off at your mother! I would be too if these were the only life skills mine had taught me! Câlice de maudite marde de crisse de tabarnak!

Xérus qui a zéro patience (10 April 2021)

“This isn’t good,” you tell your therapist sister, “She could die tomorrow, for all we know.”

Quiscale qui s’en câlice (19 April 2021)

You are thinking of your father, of course, of the cold indifference you’d felt at his passing, at the suffering this had caused you. How much greater the suffering if, at your precious mother’s death, you harbor in your heart even an ounce of anger or hatred. This isn’t what you want. You want to love her. Unconditionally. But how?

Coyote qui a du culot (25 avril 2021)

Consider the owl, the universe answers.

And because this situation is urgent, and you need to be smacked over the head with this kind of stuff1, consider also the goat, the giraffe, the rabbit, the ox, the ant, the alligator, the xerus, the rusty blackbird, the coyote, the sacred ibis, and the snail.

Ibis sacré qui s’en sacre (2 May 2021)

Emotions are like our children, the therapist told Riad Sattouf. Lest they turn bad, we must listen to them, we must take care of them. Sattouf’s sadness was a little girl who would appear to him in his dreams. Your anger is a bunch of miserable looking, uncomfortably dressed, potty-mouthed animals jumping out at you from the cracks in the sidewalks of Brooklyn.

Escargot qui laisse échapper plein de gros mots (15 May 2021)

If you want what you say you want, which is to love your mother unconditionally, then you must consider what these animals have to say. As uncomfortable and shameful and dishonorable to your mother as it might feel to do this, there is no other way around it. These animals are taking up a lot of valuable space in your heart. If you want to make room in there for love, you must let them out. Allow them their little tantrum. And then release them back to the wilds they came from.

Sidewalk cracks for Hibou au bout du rouleau (Prospect Park, Brooklyn)
Sidewalk cracks for Chèvre qui cherche le mal
Sidwalk cracks for Girafe qui gère mal sa colère
Sidewalk cracks for Lapin qui se lasse de toute cette merde
Sidewalk cracks for Pingouin au bord de péter un câble
Sidewalk cracks for Watusi qui accapare tout le wigwam
Sidewalk cracks for Fourmi qui fait semblant de s’intéresser
Sidewalk cracks for Alligator qui n’a rien à foutre
Sidewalk cracks for Quiscale qui s’en câlice
Stain for Coyote qui a du culot
Stain for Ibis sacré qui s’en sacre
Sidewalk cracks for Escargot qui laisse échapper plein de gros mots

The photo of the cracks for Xérus qui a zéro patience is unfortunately not available.

  1. I’m not kidding. See Who’s counting? ↩︎

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