RSS

I decided to be more creative this year and all I got was a lousy ear infection.

Turns out I’m not just super smart, I’m too super smart for my own good.

I know, I’m as shocked as you are. It never occurred to me that one could be too smart, though all modesty aside, if anyone ever was, I would be an obvious candidate for that label.

Now just how did I come to this epiphany?

The usual way:

A long period of inexplicable bubbling, hissing sounds with no obvious source but that came off as the blob from that 50’s horror movie sneaking up on me, followed by the psych ward, and then, after a psych referral, by a visit to my increasingly long-suffering doctor.

But first, you know how too much traipsing about at high-speed in running shoes can lead to fungal infections on your feet?

No, apparently it’s true! I may not have much direct experience with this ‘exercise’ thing or its common side effects, but I’m reliably informed the above is a real thing. Something to do with heat, sweat, moisture, itchiness, and stench-ridden shoes.

We live in a strange, cruel world.

Also, one where healthy people need to buy new shoes more often than they’d like.

Or do.

Seriously. I’m looking at you, Leo! Either buy a new pair of shoes or stop standing so close to me! That smell? Hurting me!

Jeez!

Well, after my little tête-à-tête with a non-psychiatric representative of the medical establishment, I am forced to conclude that the same thing is true from running your brain too much.

Yes, that’s right, I have an ear infection. Confirmed by a doctor, no less. An actual doctor! Of medicine!

I have been struck, in the prime of my life, just on the downward side of the flower of my youth, with Athlete’s Ear.

Tragedy of the highest order.

Now my doctor didn’t call it Athelete’s Ear. Possibly because diagnosis of the disease is so dreaded, but more likely because he wanted to impress me with his expertise, he went with the medical term for it: a fungal infection.

Actually, he used an even more medical-ly term, Otto-is-my-psychosis or something along those lines, but hey, I had an ear crammed full of fungus when he said it, so it was hard to hear properly.

That’s right. The fungus gets all up in your ear canal, blocks things up, and causes pressure differentials that lead to fluid hissing and bubbling from your Eustachian tube, in, through, and beyond the ear drum, and into the ear canal.

These are not the magic mushrooms you are looking for

Athlete’s Ear looks like this, only with the ants deeper in the ear and being immobile white fuzz instead of ants. Not shown: disgusting yellow gobs of ear wax.

So my fears about an invisible blob stalking me turned out to be unfounded. Ha ha, I was only committed for three days for believing that. Good times…

Here’s the important bit, the proof I’m too smart part: the medication prescribed for me to drip into my ear to stop the fungus and return me to a decent quality of life? Normally used to treat Athlete’s Foot. But in extreme cases when the lives of important people such as myself are on the line, it can also be used “off label” in a last-ditch effort to treat what I like to call “extreme academic illnesses” such as mine.

(There was also some tiny-vacuum-cleaner-in-the-ear-so-don’t-move-your-head-at-all moments, but they were unpleasant and I don’t like to talk about them.)

What this all boils down to is that either my return to writing has been exercising my brain too much or I’ve strained my hearing muscles due to indulging a little too much in a repast of loud, fast noise.

Since my ear muscles aren’t bulging with newfound bulk, and as it is a well established fact that I only sample speed metal while encased in a sound proof cask a minimum of two kilometers from the source¹, I’ve clearly been thinking too hard of late.

Ergo, it is my brain that is overworking, leading me to be super smart while generating enough heat and moisture and shoe-stench to encourage fungus to grow inside my ear.²

Ah, the fruits of my mental labors.³

¹ Citation needed (other than this one)
² I suppose another likely explanation is that an invisible alien blob sprayed its spores in my ear, and those spores grew tendrils which reached into and networked with my brain, increasing my thinking power, but as that would mean I’ll go back to being stupid once the infection is clear, I choose not to embrace this theory.
³ Not actual fruits. While (probably) non-toxic, do not attempt to eat ear fungus! Also, do not taunt ear fungus!

Advertisements
 
Leave a comment

Posted by on 14 January 2019 in Other Blogs

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Only slightly less well known? NEVER go in against a rabid dog in a lightning storm!

This writing prompt series is an irregular effort to force myself to write when I otherwise feel abandoned by a Muse of any sort, let alone the unfortunate specimen assigned specifically to me. If you don’t remember the origin of this series, you can catch up here with Part I, here with Part II, here with Part III, here with Part IV, here with Part V, and here with Part VI. But fair warning: reading those entries, while providing a modest sense of continuity, will very likely not help you make any sense of it beyond a vague feeling there may be a recurring character involved in some sort of questionable religious past. Or present???

The rules are simple: using the writing prompt book Write the Story, include the ten provided words (underlined in this text) in a story using the given title. Any failure to do this, no matter how fleeting, will result in a sharp rap on the knuckles with a ruler wielded by an angry, eagle-eyed nun.

The ruler, by the way, is metric only. As it should be.

Business as UNusual

As a full-time trapeze artist, I found it difficult to relate to people other than my fellow trapeze artists. The idea of working in an office, or spending time in a studio interviewing a politician or celebrity (or celebrity politician!), or being able to ignore the dangers inherent in space travel in order to go for a moonwalk were completely alien to me. I could no more embrace a new career than I could another man’s housewife.

And then I met the new nurse. She’d signed on with our carnival company after some sort of unpleasantness involving a cult. That was the scuttlebutt, anyway, though no one seemed to have any concrete details on the matter. Our chance encounter was triggered by, of all things, a possibly rabid dog, a frenzied dash of terror across an empty field during a rain storm, and a lightning strike.

Not of me, thankfully. As the hairs on my neck rose and the air began to crackle, my early days of open air trapeze training kicked in and I flung myself to the ground, pursuing foamy-mouthed stray be damned. The lightning struck the dog, and I heard the most heart-wrenching wail in its aftermath, louder to my unpracticed ear than the furious accompanying thunder. Whether it was the dog or me who made that sound, I cannot say. But when I looked up and around, the dog was gone, leaving me alone in the weedy field with the puckered wound of a dog bite on my thigh.

I stumbled into the old health clinic, long abandoned and therefore cheaply rented by our company to service, once again but temporarily, as a medical facility. She was on duty that night, her smile as bright and dazzling as the engagement ring, resting against a wedding band, on her left hand. I reported my injury as well as my suspicions about the hound’s health, and she gently led me down to a curtained off cot in the basement.

The examination was perfunctory and evidently found all to be acceptable. We both waited, breaths gasping, for her to conclude the series of injections to protect me from rabies, and then I found myself able to conceive many things I’d previously thought impossible, including the aforementioned embrace of an ostensibly unavailable woman.

She was just what the doctor would have ordered for a lonely trapeze artist. Or so I though at first…

I think the nurse will be going on hiatus for the foreseeable future. Actually, I know she will since the next three writing prompt exercises are already done and are all stand-alone stories. Feel free to let me know if you wish to see more of this crafty nurse, though, and I can work her into a future prompt.

 

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on 29 December 2018 in Writing, writing prompts

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

All I Want For Xmas is This Super Power (Or Twenty Thousand Leagues Around The Black Hole)

One of the kiddos kept asking me, if I could have any super power, which one would I choose?

Not the invisibility vs. flying question that you’ve all probably heard of and/or been asked, but any superpower.

That is super open-ended, and given the infinite possibilities, it took me a while to think of an answer.

“Invulnerability to any injury,” I finally say.

The kiddo was disappointed. Maybe you are too. But hear me out.

Can’t get hurt.

Let me say that again, in bold: Can’t get hurt.

That’s a huge plus right there.

And not just physical injury. I’m thinking immunity to the countless slights, disappointments, forgotten birthdays, betrayals, unrequited loves, and failed dreams I am currently and fully expect to continue experiencing until I die.

Having this enhanced ability would entirely eliminate my need for the Soul Crusher.

But it’s also super strength, when you think about it.

Bully threatening to beat the crap out of you if you don’t hand over your lunch money? Ha! Let him flail away at you to his heart’s content while you giggle, “That tickles!”

Watch how that breaks him. If that isn’t super strength, subtly deployed, my middle name isn’t Maynard.

Also, I really need to find a healthier place to work.

Want a less subtle form of super strength with this power? OK.

Car falls on your kid/spouse/other loved one/beloved sports mascot (and you didn’t deliberately cause the fall)? Lift that puppy up. Don’t worry about muscle strains or torn ligaments or a wrenched back! You’re invulnerable to injury!

And don’t forget your newly acquired ability to breath under water, because cell death due to lack of oxygen is a form of injury, and guess what? You’re immune!

Also, since ‘crush depth’ has no meaning for you now, you can swim down to the bottom of the Marianas Trench and see the sights no one else can.

You even get flight out of this one, assuming you can come up with a suitable launch system. Being immune to physical harm, you can not only survive the roughest of landings but deal with the crudest forms of lift conveyance as well.

Can you say ‘sit on a box of TNT and set it off’? Because with this super power, you sure as heck can!

Time travel is theoretically possible as well, if you can locate a black hole nearby to slingshot around so you can exceed the speed of light and set the ol’ Hands of Time spinning backwards.

Actually, the black hole doesn’t need to be that close by, does it?

You can survive the most brutal of launch systems, the vacuum of space means nothing, NOTHING! to you, and cellular breakdown due to the passage of time is now merely the subject of parlor room conversation as far as you’re concerned. So what if it takes you ten thousand years to get to that black hole? You just add an extra ten thousand years to the amount of time you want travel back.

Or should that be twenty thousand to cover the return trip as well?

The point is, my unimpressed kiddo can go suck it. Invulnerability is awesome and should totally be on the top of everyone’s Xmas list. It’s certainly on the top of my list.

(And hey, now this is an Xmas-themed post suitable for posting during the holidays. Except maybe for that whole “my kiddo can suck it” part…)

“Ah!” you exclaim smugly. “All that may be true, but you can’t be invisible! And invisibility is the chosen super power of the intellectual elites. So YOU can go suck it!”

(Hmm, less and less holiday-appropriate by the word.)

Sure, technically you’re right. But who cares! You can openly eavesdrop on people and, being immune to all forms of social hurt, not care what people think of that act or of you. Taken to the extreme, you don’t even need to know what horrible things they’re saying about you behind your back, because whether they’re plotting your death or just saying mean things, it can’t and won’t upset you.

You can have bad breath, flash crooked/stained/missing teeth with every smile/grimace, mispronounce tomato ‘to-mah-toe’, and wear bell bottoms with sandals and socks without consequence. No shame, no sense of not belonging, nothing. Even if, to keep you away from them, people shove you into a frigid, muddy pen on a distant northern farm that’s in perpetual twilight. Because

A) you could stop that shoving with your de facto super strength right at the start and

B) even if you didn’t, would you feel sad and crushed by the rejection, cold, and muck?

No.

So effectively, that makes you invisible. Or invisible enough to keep smiling unphased in a world that really does hate you.

Mostly due to jealously because of your super power.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on 24 December 2018 in Other Blogs

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Your Significant Other Will Dump You If You Order The Veal And These Other Items

If you don’t remember the origin of this series (or, more likely, you’ve just stumbled upon this posting in your quest for pictures of naive boy scouts and have no idea what I’m on about), you can catch up here with Part I, here with Part II, here with Part III, here with Part IV, and here with Part V. Just don’t expect reading those entries to help any of this make sense and you’ll be fine. The rules are simple: using the writing prompt book Write the Story, include the ten provided words (underlined in this text) in a story using the given title. Failure to do so results in finding yourself on stage, in front of an audience of your parents and peers, wearing nothing but a speedo and a cape that inexplicably has the word “PHOTOGRAPHER” emblazoned across it.

A Lunch Date Gone Wrong

Is it hot in here, or is it just me? Things were going so well, the relationship seemed back on track. And then…the carnival came back to town.

She started showing up late for dates, or putting them off. Without explanation.

I admit it. I got jealous. I began to assume the worst: she was going to leave me for that cult. When we started dating again, I made a promise to myself. OK, two promises:

I would get all the facts instead of jumping to conclusions.

I would never again roller skate nude under the full moon.

Without using mosquito repellent. You can only draw blood from scratching bug bites too hard so many times before you swear that oath.

So here we are, our brunch date now a lunch date due to her inexplicable tardiness, having a ‘discussion’ over a mango salad about her career, her needs, her hopes and desires. And how they don’t include assuming the traditional housewife role, or monogamy, or, worst of all, punctuality.

My sweet tea couldn’t taste more bitter. I struggle to hold back, to refrain from pitting my rapid-fire questions against her inconsistent logic. She was never late before the carnival returned. She never came over to my place smelling like pipe tobacco and my ex-wife’s favorite perfume before the carnival came to town. We never talked about marriage in the days preceding the cultists’ return.

So why now?

But her apparent calm and detachment only served to fuel my fears that she had tired of me and was returning to her old ways. Leaving me alone, divorced with no path back to my ex, doomed to online dating and online / offline rejection.

So of course I exploded, all of my fears and insecurities a festering eruption that poisoned the conversation, the meal, the entire ambiance of the restaurant. And as she stormed off, her sweet tea just as bitter now as mine but dripping from my face and hair, I had to wonder if this had been her intention all along.

 
1 Comment

Posted by on 20 November 2018 in Angst, Life, Writing, writing prompts

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Life can’t hurt if you avoid living it

If you have a piece of chalk, you can do sums out the outside of itI have a box I keep in my car.

A small, dark box with a name:

Soul Crusher.

The purpose of this box is straightforward.

Before exiting the car, I open the box, which is empty, and scoop the contents of my soul out of my body and into the box.

Everything I love, everything I hate, everything that gives me pleasure or pain, everything that excites me, engages me, repulses me, detracts from me.

I put it all in this box which I close up tight and leave in the car, safe from all interference.

OK, I’m not literally scooping anything out of my body. That would make a mess in the car, raising a lot of awkward questions every time I take it in to be detailed.

No, this is more of a visualization exercise.

You know, like the guy who would get home from work, go to a tree in his front yard, and “hang” all the woes from his job on the tree in order to leave them behind before he went inside to his family.

Kinda like that.

Why do I do this? Simple – pain management.

When you find yourself under a constant barrage of negative energy and mass shootings in the news and voter suppression on your twitter feed and a constant stream of other injustices and always having to be the rock other people cling to while the same bad things work to drown them too, you quickly reach the point where you are done.

Brain the size of a planet but soul the size of a half loaf of zucchini bread. I'm so depressed.Just done.

With all of it.

But that’s not really an option, is it?

So how do you make all the pain go away so you can function?

If you can’t stop the source(s) of the pain, stop the receiver.

Tuck your soul away in a box where no one and nothing can touch it, influence it, or look sideways at it.

Sure, life seems a bit…muffled, fuzzy around the edges, but it’s so much quieter. And you can still pay your bills and balance your checkbook and keep your car in its lane while you’re driving.

Which might not be the case if you’re being crushed under the weight of everything.

Everything crushing you can be distracting.

To be fair, my system isn’t perfect. I have had some minor setbacks.

The dog got into the box the first day I used it, before I started leaving it in the car.

Bitch ate my soul!

I was all for cutting it out right away, but the Missus (and the wailing Kiddos on their knees beseeching me) convinced me to wait for nature to take its course.

I’ll be honest with you, I washed that soul thoroughly, several times, and it still doesn’t smell (or feel) quite right since that incident.

And a couple of weeks ago I gave the kiddos the keys to the car so they could get their backpacks out of it, and they found the box.

And played with it.

And lost it.

Hid it, more likely.

I didn’t have a soul at that point, so I didn’t get too angry, but strong words were still used, and after several days of on and off searching, the soul (and the box) turned up, albeit a bit rough around the edges.

About a month into this regime, a really intense, well-dressed but still creepy gentleman approached me, offering to buy my soul. For a really, really good price.

I mean a don’t-worry-about-the-mortgage-or-needing-a-job-anymore good price.

But sell your soul to a stranger, and who knows what they’ll do with it (or what they’ll feed it to).

Better to tuck it away nice and cozy in a Soul Crusher box.

I’ve been boxing my semi-tangible, gooey side since the beginning of September and things are working out great now that I have my soul shedding routine down pat.

Life is way easier when you don’t have to live it.

Brain the size of a planet, soul the size of a ping pong ball force-fed steroids. I'm so depressed.Nothing gets under my skin.

Nothing makes me angry.

Nothing makes me sad.

I just don’t care.

It’s awesome.

While most of you are hoping I’ll tell you how to get your own Soul Crusher box (“Operators are standing by! Act now and we’ll throw in a Potato Masher and Melon Baller, absolutely free!”), there’s probably a naysayer or two out there muttering, “Now hang on, Ian, that’s horrible! You’ve excised your soul! The very essence of what makes you…you! You’re just an empty shell, shuffling along from moment to moment with no spring in your step, no twinkle in your eye, no joy or warmth.”

My response sans soul: Maybe. But along with that, also no walking around feeling like my guts are going rise up and burst out of my throat, no fear that we’ll make the world unlivable before my kids reach adulthood, no dread that I’m about to lose my job, have undiagnosed cancer, that I’m a failure as a husband and father, that I’m impotent, or that I’m going to bomb during the Improv show I’m in on Monday.

(Note to self: without my soul, I will bomb in that show. Must decide if I care enough to put it back on beforehand.)

I’m also a much more pleasant passenger without my soul, as backseat driving seems pointless.

That’s a fairly tepid response, but still true. Now, if my soul was burdening me right now, if all the angst and fear and anger and hatred and despair and passion it embodies was contaminating me right as you made your claim, the vigor and intensity of my response to your statement would leave you shaken and terrified and checking the locks on your doors every two minutes.

But lucky for you, I don’t have my soul right now.

When the Deadites came for me, they took one look inside my box and said, "Never mind."

The contents of my soul (that are detectable with a digital camera – film works better but for some strange reason I didn’t feel like bothering…)

 
2 Comments

Posted by on 12 November 2018 in Angst, Life

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Hiding Behind the Hydrangea, A Few Words Popped Into My Head. These Are Not (All Of) Those Words.

If you don’t remember the origin of this series (or, more likely, you’ve just stumbled upon this posting in your quest for pictures of naive boy scouts and have no idea what I’m on about), you can catch up here with Part I, here with Part II, here with Part III, and here with Part IV. Just don’t expect reading those entries to help any of this make sense and you’ll be fine. The rules are simple: using the writing prompt book Write the Story, include the ten provided words (underlined in this text) in a story using the given title. Failure to do so results in a disappointed and judgemental “Tut-tut!” from your mother.

An Unexpected Union

The key to finding the nurse was her ex-boyfriend. Not me, but the former boyfriend who came after me. Yes, after the tug-of-war between my wife and my carnival companion ended with me still married, my medical indiscretion moved on. I admit I kept tabs on her, even before my wife threw in the towel, sued for divorce, and took me for pretty much everything, including my prized hydrangea. So I know my lost love had played the field after me, casually dating, at different times, two brothers who owned a now defunct potato farm, a dentist, and then, more seriously, him.

The political cartoonist.

The major influence in her life since me.

The most recent ex.

I’d been more than keeping tabs on her at this point. I’d been following her, watching her, trying to find a way to win her back. The day they met was a terrible blow to me. They’d bumped into each other in line at a common, everyday sandwich shop. They chatted as they waited, then ended up ordering the same sandwich: ham and cheese on rye, Russian. He invited her to sit at his table, and soon they were brushing hands and laughing. Instant connection. I watched her scribble her phone number on the back of her receipt and hand it to him.

“Call me,” she said as she walked past me. I was in disguise as a broken homeless man, so she didn’t recognize me.

I had to recite the alphabet backwards three times before I was calm enough to get up and follow him to his place of work. I spent the next six months tracking him, learning his patterns and his secrets, preparing.

They broke up the night I’d planned to dispose of him. Money had been spent, wheels were in motion, but I called it off anyway. I felt sorry for him. He’d prepared an intimate dinner for two in the gazebo in his backyard. An exquisite meal. And over the salad, he proposed. And crying, she said no and left. Hiding behind a thriving hydrangea (that looked suspiciously familiar), neither noticed me.

I lost her after that. Gone from her usual haunts and from her clinic job; she was nowhere to be found. But he, the current ex, was obsessed. Desperate to find her, he looked high and low. He let himself go, lost his job, his house, his reputation. But none of that mattered compared to his quest.

Frankly, I found it more than a little disturbing.

Given our goals intersected, I let him do the work and just followed. And tonight, after months of searching, he finally found her.

And has drawn a knife! No!

I stopped him. I saved my beloved. Passed off my presence as a coincidence leading to a fateful but unexpected reunion. No, union. For she has taken me back! I am loved again!

So successful was this turn of events that I have won her complete and total trust in addition to her undying love. And so tonight, before sharing her bed, I will be sworn in to the Brotherhood of the Carnival. To be with my true love and her true family forever.

 
2 Comments

Posted by on 12 November 2018 in Writing, writing prompts

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

 
%d bloggers like this: