By Steve Brewer
Scripps Howard News Service
March 28, 2005
I can't concentrate on my job because a tree frog has taken up residence in the flowerbed below the window of my home office. All day, he sings his song: "Brreee-deep, brreee-deep, brreee-deep."
It's driving me crazy. I can't work. I can't talk on the phone. I can't even play solitaire on my computer because the frog jars me out of my time-wasting reverie. "Brreee-deep."
You're saying to yourself about now: That little frog is one of God's creatures, a harbinger of spring. Many people, especially those cooped up in corporate offices or snowbound in frozen climes, would be thrilled to hear a frog sing his song. No way will this guy gripe about a frog for an entire column.
You don't know me very well, do you? Allow me to make the following three points:
One, I can complain about anything. Some friends once made great fun of me because I groused about being awakened by a flock of birds in a shrub outside a motel room. No one, my friends said, could gripe about twittering songbirds greeting the dawn. Hah, I proved them wrong.
Two, people who work all alone at home, as I do, tend to obsess on distractions. We're spoiled by our solitude. I spent a whole career in newspaper offices, churning out articles while keyboards clattered and people argued and yakked on phones all around me. Over the past eight years of toiling solo, I've lost those powers of concentration. Now, if someone's padding around barefoot in the far end of the house, I can't work. If that person starts, say, humming, I lose my mind.
Three, you haven't heard this frog. This is not the sweet chirrup they use as background noise in movies. This frog, while probably tiny (I've never actually seen him), has a giant voice. He's the Pavarotti of tree frogs, singing to the cheap seats. This frog's got his own echo. If, as I suspect, he's crooning for a mate, it's a wonder every female frog in a four-county area isn't hop-hopping to our door.
Compounding all of the above is the fact that I can't do anything about the frog. He hides in a thicket of leafy vegetation. If I slip outside to try to catch him, he clams up, and I can't locate him. As soon as I'm back indoors, he starts up again. "Brreee-deep."
(If I could catch him, it would be for a humane relocation. Really. I wouldn't squish him, not when I have so many enemies who could really use a singing frog in their yards. Heh-heh.)
I can also make him shut up by banging on the window of my home office, but that only results in a duet with percussion. It goes like this: "Brreee-deep." Bang! Long silence. "Brreee-deep. Brreee-deep." Bang! Silence. "Brreee-deep." "Aarrrgh!"
I know I shouldn't blame my stress on the frog. Stress isn't the external event; it's the internal reaction to the event. There's no reason a frog should make me so hopping mad. He's just doing what frogs do, following Nature's imperative to attract a mate and make more little frogs, which will sing under my window next spring ...
Wait, don't go there. I can't control the frog (or future generations of frogs); I can only control my reaction. I must relax, and ignore the froggie opera. Block out the noise. Meditate. Take deep breaths.
Breathe deep. That's it. Relax.
Breathe deep. Breathe deep. Breathe deep.
Contact him at ABQBrewer(at)aol.com