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Category Archives: Angst

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.

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

 

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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…)

 
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Posted by on 12 November 2018 in Angst, Life

 

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The Controversial President Weight Loss Diet is going to be HUUGE! The Biggest, Most Beautiful Diet Ever!

So two weeks ago I announced my intention to see how fad weight loss diets worked on curing me of being an a-hole. The first diet covered was the Watermelon Diet, and it didn’t work out so well. I gained four pounds and was served with divorce papers. For more details on that diet, or the protocol I’m following for this study, see my first post here.

My examination of the next diet on my list ended up getting delayed because I unwittingly decided to try the Really Sick Diet (brought to you by Kiddos Who Don’t Cover Their Mouths When They Sneeze™). While the Really Sick Diet is great for weight loss, my informal canvassing of those within hearing range of my sickbed suggests it makes you more of a whiny jerk rather than less.

So not very comfortable or helpful on the asshole front.

Just as well, if you ask me. I’d rather be an asshole than sick like that again.

So now, a week late, I bring you, just in time for the midterms, the Controversial President Weight Loss Diet!

The way this diet is supposed to work: you listen to every piece of audio and watch every snippet of video of the President of the United States that you can lay your hands on. That includes any and all Access: Hollywood hot mic recordings out there.

Although it’s been around for decades, lately proponents of this diet have been swearing by it. In the last two years alone, adherents have seen the pounds just roll off. To the point of endangering their lives!

Some limitations of this diet:

  • Tends to only work in four, eight, or if the VP gets elected, twelve-year cycles. A sixteen-year cycle is theoretically possible, but far too depressing to consider. Occasionally, if you’re lucky, an impeachment might break this cycle.
  • If you like the current president, this diet indicates that you may suffer from a severe case of psychosis and weight loss is the least of your problems. You may also experience grossly inappropriate bliss that results in blackout eating.
  • If you don’t like the current president, you will lose your appetite, your will to live, and all sense of hope. You will gain a newfound sense of urgency and an overwhelming desire to vote in the next election. Also, in addition to weight loss and dark thoughts, blackout drinking is not uncommon.

Now those are the weight loss considerations of the Controversial President Weight Loss Diet. But my thesis is on the impact of said diet on making me a better human being and less of a shifty prick.

Here, I am sad to report, the benefits are less clear.

Week 2
Diet: The Controversial President Weight Loss Diet

Description: Basically, endure as close to a lethal dose of exposure to the sitting president as you can without causing permanent brain damage. On the other hand, you can eat and drink as much as you want, should you retain the urge to eat.

Purpose: Leave you so nauseous as to be incapable of feeding yourself.

Amount of president consumed in the last two years: Way, way, way too much.

A-Hole Index score: (Mine, not his!) 5.0. Respondents rated me either a 0 or a 10 on the A-Hole index, with nothing in-between. I had an even number of respondents, the 0s and 10s were evenly split, and so the average was 5.

Net result: Now this is where it gets interesting. About half the respondents, when interacting with me during this period, said I displayed newfound humanity, filled them with warmth and hope, and they looked forward to seeing me at our polling station Tuesday (whatever that means). The other half blocked me on Facebook, but not before telling me to (variously) “Eff off, snowflake!”, “Go back to your own country, snowflake!” and, most perplexing, “Maga, snowflake!”

I’m not sure what ‘maga’ means, but from context I’m guessing it’s pretty bad.

So a mixed result. Stay tuned for next week’s update, when I look at the All Peanut Diet. Hopefully my legume allergy won’t cause any problems with this one.

And no matter what party you belong to, VOTE!

 

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I’m not getting older, dammit! The world is just getting darker!

So I have a problem. One that requires more than a little blue pill to resolve.

Oh, if only a pill could solve this problem!

Or, for that matter, even a suppository.

I am deeply saddened to report that when it gets dark, and I mean very, very dark, I can’t see.

This is particularly disturbing because I do my best work at night. When it’s, you know, dark.

Yes, when my body most desperately needs to rest and rejuvenate itself, my brain is all, “Hold my beer.”

But in a good, non-alcoholic, non-electoral sort of way.

As you might be starting to suspect, I wrote this entry during the day. But I had no choice, given I can’t see at night.

You see, since everyone else in my household have brains that listen to their bodies, they’re all asleep at night.

Or should be. Get back to bed right now, Kiddo!

Sorry about that. Because of this (nearly) mass slumber, I can’t just flip on all the lights, crank up the volume on my .mod files, and take care of business.

Oh no. Everyone else in my household gets cranky when I turn the productivity up to 11 past, well, eleven. Suddenly the Missus and the one kiddo who actually does sleep at night are making snide remarks about needing rest and don’t I have work in the morning and look you’re making the dogs bark and oh my gawd what is that racket you are listening to it should be illegal to distribute it!

(My hearing is fine. Spider by They Might Be Giants is meant to be listened to loud.)

In order to appease the Missus, I turn everything off, go to bed, and when dawn’s surly light finally returns, make yet another medical appointment.

My doctor always sort of wilts and sighs when he walks into the exam room and sees me, like a blow-up punching bag suddenly deflating after one punch too many, then mutters “Oh no, not again.”

While most people would see this reaction and think, “Uh oh, I must be really sick!” I’m not worried. I’ve been here before. Seen the doc about this many times. And after the poorly hidden but inevitable eye roll, he always tells me the same thing:

“Still not getting more exercise? I really think you should focus more on that. Not being able to see in the dark? That’s nothing to worry about. You’re just getting old. Try turning on the lights.”

I am not getting old!

And turn on the lights?? Did he not read the above paragraph about other people in the house wanting it dark so they can sleep?

Since modern medical science has cast me aside despite my numerous co-pays, I was forced to do my own research.

My own experiments.

And I figured it out.

(So start writing up those Nobel Prize nominations, in case they won’t accept my self-nomination.)

I’m not getting older. Nope.

The world…is getting darker.

Hear me out. Once you see the evidence you will drop your jaws in amazement.

(Or disbelief. But if you stay silent, I can still imagine it’s amazement. So hush.)

Here’s a modern-day keyboard. Notice anything about it, aside from the dirt?

Peek-a-boo, I can't see you, goddammit!

Who uses this? Members of the band Disaster Area?

That’s right. It’s super dark.

Here’s what it looks like at night with all the lights in the house in the mandated OFF position:

I see London, I see France, I do not see this freakin' keyboard

The real reason schools started mandating touch typing classes…

Now you can see my problem (or more specifically, can’t).

And don’t tell me to get a back-lit keyboard! I’ve tried that! They require you to press a key combo to turn on the back-lighting.

Can you see any of the keys in the dark on the above keyboard? Can you? Then how the hell am I supposed to see them, hmm?

Think about it. Their design solution when you can’t see the keyboard is to require you to hit specific keys on the keyboard so you can see the keys. On the keyboard! It’s Kafkaesque!

They’ll be the first ones up against the wall when the revolution comes, let me tell you!

But, I perceive you mumbling as you nervously edge away, what do keyboards have to do with my supposition that the world is getting darker?

Well, aside from black reflecting back less light into the environment (ergo, making the surrounding environment darker), we once had, long ago, better keyboards.

And by better I don’t mean clickier (though that was better too). I mean beige:

Seriously, does it get any better than an IBM mechanical keyboard?

If my sunglasses were handy, I’d put them on before using this keyboard

See what this pinnacle of keyboard engineering looks like in normal lighting? Compare that to yet another modern keyboard (this time grey):

The Great Computer Compromise of 1995 between IBM and Apple solved nothing and only punted down the road the final, disastrous decision to switch to black for computers and accessories that future generations would lament for all time.

“We think beige is too bright. Waa waa. If black is too dark, how about we meet in the middle and try gray?” No. Just no.

But check it out what happened when I photographed my, if the Keyboard Industrial Complex PR hacks are to be believed, “old, tired, and passé” vintage keyboard in the dark.

WTFtl;dr! It actually got brighter:

OK, even I agree that white is too bright. Turn it up to beige AND THEN STOP!

CAPS LOCK on because DAMN IT, YES, I’M EXCITED ABOUT THIS KEYBOARD! AND NO COLLUSION! TOTALLY NO COLLUSION! COVFEFE!

Beige is a color I can type on in the dark. Because with beige, the cold encroachment of darkness is stopped in its sneaky, disabling tracks. I can look down and see the damn keys I need to press and then press them.

Presto! No back-light, front-light, or side-light required.

And it’s not just the keyboard. Tell me, how am I going to find that black CD eject button, cleverly placed, of course, right next to the black power button, on this particular, recently manufactured computer?

Stephen King's got nothin' on this scary beast

Hell, in this photo I have a spotlight on the chassis and I’m using a flash, and you still can’t see anything (except the dust bunny residue)!

But take away the above modern, fancy-pants, 1080p, USB 3.0, multi-core and multi-threaded (guess the color of the thread – hint: it’s BLACK) super computer and replace it with a late-80s, early-90s computer, and what do you get?

You get this, a right proper computing machine:

This. This I can effin' see.

The IBM “Just Try And Make The Room This Is In Dark” PS/2 P70. They don’t build ’em like this any more. Can’t afford to. Too much lead needed for the chassis.

That’s right. I closed the curtains, turned off the lights, and then tented the entire house (due to termites) before taking this picture, and it still looks like I’m standing outside on a bright summer day.

That’s how much frickin’ light beige computers give off!

Now it might be the termiticide talking, but I think I’d be able to use my computer at night just fine…if it were made out of beige. But sadly, as amazing as the above computer is, it does lack one feature deemed unnecessary in the 1980s and 1990s:

WiFi.


Do you have tales of horror trying to use an albedo-challenged computer in the wee hours? Share them in the comments so we can commiserate together and maybe put together a kickstarter to make a modern beige computer!

(Please comment. The Missus thinks I’m nuts and I need you to help me prove her wrong.)
 

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Ha ha. But no, I’m dead serious. Are you going to eat that or not?

Being young at heart is a curse.

It’s true.

When you’re actually young, you can eat all you like and not gain weight. You can not exercise and your growing body will consume all those calories and turn them into height and, somewhat less gloriously, pubic hair.

When you’re young at heart but not actually young, you think you can eat all you like. And because you feel young, you don’t feel the need to exercise regularly.

Then you unexpectedly get an ear infection and need to go to a doctor’s appointment and the nurse weighs you beforehand and gives you a healthy portion of side eye as she noted the number and holy crap, you’ve gained weight!

So yes, being young at heart is a cruel, dirty, unfair curse.

I wouldn’t be ‘sporting some extra baggage’ if I was old at heart. If I was old at heart, I’d be starving myself and cursing my slowing metabolism and worrying just how much longer I had left before I’d just die already and no longer be taunted by that ice cream in the freezer I can’t have.

How do I know this? Because nothing flips you from young at heart to old at heart like a nurse’s tut-tutted disapproval as she takes more than the usual amount of time to write the greater than usual number of digits associated with your current weight.

The doctor isn’t going to be much help, either. “How much exercise do you get, Ian?” he’ll ask you. And, “Have you considered getting more than that, Ian, because I think it would be a good idea.” You, like a fatted deer in the headlights, will just sit there on the wax-papered bed, still winded from the effort of having your blood pressure taken, unable to respond beyond mumbling, “Well, I do walk to my car on the way to and from work…”

Exercise. Is there a more cruel form of punishment in life? Some say there should be a Constitutional amendment banning it, but to that I merely have two words:

Eighth Amendment.

Let’s face it. Exercise hurts.

It does.

Don’t say it doesn’t. Don’t say it “Hurts so good.” That’s utter nonsense and you’re on drugs.

By they way, can I have some of those drugs? I’ve been having nightmares about walking to and from my car at a brisk pace, and I wake up with my legs in such fiery misery…

Look, if exercise didn’t hurt, we’d leap out of our beds every morning, a glint in our eye and all agog about getting in some cardio.

Do you leap out of bed every morning, or do you pinch your eyes shut, pull the blanket over your head, and wistfully think, “Just a few more minutes.”?

Uh huh, that’s what I thought.

Has anyone every said, “No thanks, honey, I’d love to jump back into bed, but that’s just not the cardio I’m looking for. Nope, it’s the gym for me, and nothing else!”

QED, exercise hurts.

So I’m faced with two choices now that I’m old and my excess calories are actually excess rather than fuel for additional stature and extra curly hair:

I can stay young at heart, be generally pleasant to hang out with, and slowly replace my wardrobe with items more…roomy.

Or I can become old at heart, starve myself, be grumpy all the time, and discover I still can’t lose weight if I don’t exercise.

I know it’s obvious what the more tempting solution should be, but let me tell you, starvation is hard.

First off, you are hungry. All. The. Time.

It hurts. Not as much as exercise, but it hurts.

Second off, and forgive me for going here, but bowel movements are weird. You kinda feel the need, but when you sit down your bowel is saying, “Yes yes yes!” but the rest of you is saying, “Now hold on there for just a second! I don’t think you’ve thought this through. Are you really sure you can afford to dump this material? There might be a few more nutrients to glean from it, why don’t we give it another run through first, hmm?”

Third off, well, actually, that’s about it. Unless you count not going out to lunch with your friends anymore as being a negative, and let’s be honest here, they’re more than happy that the hungry sourpuss has begged off this afternoon, given his penchant for whining about how miserable he is and always forking bits of food off their plate. For them, at least, your absence is a huge plus.

I wonder if there’s a compromise? A middle-aged at heart that allows me to eat all I want while still keeping off the extra pounds solely through the walks to and from my car? Maybe ensure a little extra exercise by jacking up the height of my car a bit so I have to step up into it.

“No, I don’t have huge knobby tires on my Ford Focus station wagon to compensate for a tiny, tiny penis. I did it for my health!”

It’s not fair. I’d be a lot happier in life if exercise just didn’t hurt so much.

 
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Posted by on 2 July 2018 in Angst, Life

 

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Captain Kirk is (will be?) a terrible captain

Recently, in an attempt to escape the real world, I started watching Star Trek: The Original Series again.

It’s the perfect form of escape, set not just in the far off future, but in distant, distant lands under the aegis of exploring for a utopian government. How much further from today’s reality could you possibly get?

A little further, it turns out.

I used to watch the show religiously on broadcast television when I was a kid, oddly enough for a similar reason I’m watching it now: to escape the terror of real life and the homework it entailed.

I still have homework, but as a husband and father, it is of a profoundly different nature than that assigned by my grade school teachers.

Oh, 20/20 hindsight, how I wish my life now could be as simple as it actually was back then, my contemporary prepubescent protestations to the contrary.

But I digress. As an adult, I found myself returning to the show every now and then, dialing up an old favorite and re-watching it just for nostalgia.

Tiny, single episode bites. Get the nostalgia hit but fail to see any overarching patterns.

But this is the first time I watched a sustained number of episodes in a small amount of time – about ten episodes in the last week.

And I discovered that Captain Kirk is a terrible captain.

I’m not talking about all the bad decisions he made that led to unnecessary loss of life, or even the sheer amount of loss of life that occurred under his command.

Those are real issues, but his incompetency is more basic than that.

Captain Kirk completely loses his head around women.

Episode after episode, he pursues one ill-advised romance after the next.

I mean, in one episode he even gets into a fight with another man over a sentient sex doll!

(Don’t believe me? Give Requiem for Methuselah another spin if you think you can handle the fully woke squick factor.)

And more often than not, he isn’t using his wily ways to save the ship. Requiem for Methuselah is a prime example of a recurring pattern of (bad) behavior: he meets a woman he finds attractive, becomes genuinely smitten (to the point that sometimes Spock has to use the Vulcan mind meld to erase the failed relationship from Kirk’s mind at the end of the episode), and chaos, heartbreak, and often a crew death or two ensues.

Pathetic.

This man is not just in command of not just an incredibly powerful military ship (yeah, yeah, I know, “ship of exploration” – how many ships and alien crews has he destroyed, how many planet surfaces has he severely damaged?). He is also responsible for the lives of his crew and, as a representative of the Federation, maintaining peace throughout the galaxy. But hey, that green-skinned, scantily clad lady over there is really hot, so the heck with duty.

That’s a commendable trait in a captain, right? A pretty face turning your head and causing everything else to go out the window is a vital skill in the enlightened future, yes?

Even worse, he flirts with his own crew members! You know, the women under his command? How is that not, well, to be perfectly blunt, rape-y?

(Not talking about Rand – watch the end of Mirror, Mirror and Kirk’s interaction with Lt. Marlena Moreau if you want to see just how creepy and unprofessional the “great” Captain Kirk is.)

This is your captain speaking. Commence to Phase I of creepiness: Manspreading

Due to heat transfer requiring air and space being mostly a vacuum, it’s harder for men to keep their junk cool, hence Manspreading…In…Spaaaace

Oh sure, I suppose you could argue that all the men on the Enterprise (and Starfleet in general?) have this problem, as McCoy, Scotty, Sulu, Chekov, and even Mr. Spock have their own unwise romantic escapades.

Or perhaps you’d claim that he’s a product of his time because the men on the show are constantly referring to women (including fellow officers!) as “girls”. Certainly don’t see any of them (male or female) routinely calling the men “boys”!

But isn’t the Captain supposed to be above that? *cough* *cough* Picard thank you very much *cough* *cough*

It makes you wonder why any woman would want to join Star Fleet to begin with.

Yes, I know, ST:TOS was ground-breaking at the time, had a diverse cast, a positive message about Humanity, blah blah blah. It’s true, I won’t argue it. But I’m not here to nitpick about that.

I’m just pointing out that Captain Kirk was a dude bro who always assumed that if the woman was beautiful, he automatically loved her, needed her, and was allowed to aggressively pursue her. To the point that he did, at best, inappropriate things, and at worst, endangered the ship, his crew, even the galaxy.

WTF, Jim? WTF?

Hark! What yonder noise is this? I believe a beautiful woman is approaching! I MUST HAVE HER!

“I feel pretty!”

Captain Kirk couldn’t keep it in his pants, and as an adult only now seeing this for what it is, the eight-year old fanboy (yes, I said “boy” – go ahead and call me on it) in me is having a hard time reconciling my childhood hero-worship with the reality I now see in these old episodes.

Remember that every time someone whines about how horrible things are today and can’t we just go back (forward?) to the “good ol’ days”.

Because the past’s vision of a future utopia reveals a lot about said good ol’ days. And sadly it’s often this:

They’ve fallen a little short.

 

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I am NOT addicted to Q-tips!

First let me just say that I am a calm, rational, logical person who is definitely not addicted to Q-tips.

Or their generic cotton swab brethren either.

Yes, I admit, I used to regularly clear my ear canals of wax using the those handy, tiny tufts of cotton on a stick. It was effective and felt…satisfying. So effective and satisfying (but not addictive!) that it became a daily duty.

If you haven’t cleaned your ears with a Q-tip or the generic equivalent, you can’t understand. The scrubbing sensation, the rustling, up-close sound, the joy when the cotton comes back yellow and your inner ear feels…pure.

Unblemished.

Born anew.

It’s simply amazing (but not addictive!).

I’m pretty sure there are a ton of ASMR ear cleaning videos that can give you a sense of it. A pale, shadow-of-reality sense of it.

(That said, don’t blame me if you get lost down that particular ASMR rabbit hole. I recommend a viewing of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan as an antidote.)

But ear wax, its nature…waxes and wanes.

Some days it’s moist and clingy and easy to remove.

Some days it isn’t.

Some days it’s dry and brittle and swab-phobic. It’s an entrenched army of bitter angry wax, stretched too thin and unwilling to cede its hard-won inner ear-land.

On those days, the spinning and twirling and rubbing of cottony goodness inside your ear has to be…more vigorous.

More determined.

More ruthless.

And on one of those days, I drew blood.

A lot of blood.

An eliciting from the Missus an “Oh my gawd are you having an aneurysm!?” amount of blood.

The Emergency Room doctor, of course, told me that sticking something deep in your ear and spinning, twirling, and rubbing it is stupid.

That’s the actual medical term for it: stupid. I kid you not.

She’s probably right.

So I stopped.

(See, not addicted. Told you!)

She also explained that the ear has its own way of cleaning itself and getting rid of excess wax. She gave more details, but at that point I had a wad of gauze, a large scab, and no doubt some surplus ear wax clogging things up and making it difficult for me to hear. I got the gist of the message and left it at that.

What my doctor said may be true, but she failed to mention (or perhaps I just didn’t hear) that as you get old (not older, but old, like me), the body’s mechanism for self-cleaning the ears becomes less…pleasant, shall we say?

When I was little and before I had access to cotton swabs, I never thought about the wax in my ears. Whatever self-cleaning was going on went on seamlessly and quietly.

Not so now.

Now I can feel small pieces of wax fall into the bottom of my ear canal, hear the slight rustling sound as it lands, sense when it’s actually falling out of my ear (usually when I’m trying to make a good impression on someone – nothing says “Hey I’m a classy cool, hip and with-it dude” like flakes of wax fluttering out of your ear).

I couldn't find a picture with the right sort of ants. These are fire ants and when they climb into your ear, it's A LOT less subtle than other ants (and therefore flakes of ear wax) sound

The pitter-patter of tiny feet never sounded more horrifying

And not itsy bitsy teenie weenie yellow flakes of ear wax.

Dime-sized.

And not bright yellow.

Scab-brown.

Not to mention the itchiness that accompanies this self-purging. Did I mention the itchiness?

It’s like having chicken pox in your ears.

Or an army of microscopic ants marching in and out of the ol’ sound canals.

It’s enough to make an old man want to head to an NRA-approved Death Camp™ (also known as a ‘school’) and end it all.

But instead I find myself reaching for the box of Q-tips again. Not because I’m addicted, but because the bugs are in my ears and I need to get them out.

Fortunately, they get stuck in the ear wax and I can spin, twirl, and scrub them out before they cause any brain damage.

(If you feel compelled to leave any comments, please use ALL CAPS as I’m having a hard time hearing right now.)

 
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Posted by on 26 February 2018 in Angst, Life

 

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