But since the banks I owe probably won’t show up, I will probably just be talked mean to, and given a repayment plan. At least the interest charges will stop. Most of what I owe is accumulated interest.
Today I needed some chocolate to make it through Valentine’s Day. Chocolate covered peanuts are perfect for diabetic depression. Chocolate to bring me up, and peanuts to help me not spike or drop in blood sugar levels. Depression and Valentine’s Day have always walked hand in hand in my recollection. Maybe it was the Valentine’s cards that we used as kids that did that to me. You know, the ones where your parents buy them in bulk, and after you pick that one for the special someone, you just put your classmate’s names on random cards from the pile for the rest. And then later that special someone gives you an obviously random card in return. Blues City!
I was, of course, a kid in the 60’s, in the Space Age of Mercury and Gemini Missions. Those were the cards I picked from for her.
But what kind of weird messages did the other random cards send? Some of them were absolutely bizarre.
What kind of love goes with socks with holes in them, and screwy boys with little pigs? No wonder so many of us grew up a bit demented.
And how is being eaten by a giant cat not traumatizing?
Some cards were inappropriate, and some were all wet. All of these are a bit perverted.
This one causes nightmares.
And boys should never have to get cards like these from a girl. Knives and forks and wieners? It makes me shudder just to look at them.
And what does love have to do with food? At least, anthropomorphic food? And food puns?
These are just scary and weird.
And there were Valentine’s cards that were right for me, but I didn’t want them. Enough eating of fuzzy worms on Valentine’s Day for me!
So it’s no wonder V-Day makes me blue. I was trained to it from an early age. Now, I just buy myself chocolate.
Canto 13 – Dino-Man
Fred 3576 was tied to one side of the tree, his girlfriend Wilma456 was trussed to the other side. Their pet, Dino6476 was laid out dead and ready for skinning, much too dangerous to try to keep as a live captive. The two cave youths looked at Ged with large, fearful eyes.
“I can’t wear that!” moaned Ham, looking at the fur loincloth young Fred was wearing.
The Nebulon Princess grinned at Ham. It began to dawn on all of them that she now understood the words being spoken around her. Ham blushed.
“We have to find that clown of yours before he can do some real damage. Unless you think you can do the riding beast, you are going to have to use what that boy is wearing as your disguise.”
“Ged? What are you going to do about the riding beast?” Ham seemed nervous about the grim determination he obviously saw on Ged’s face. Ged could tell just by looking that what came next was going to traumatize Hamfast Aero.
“I’m going to skin and eat this thing.”
Ged’s environment suit was laid aside. Ged sat down next to the dead raptor with his lectroknife. The blade shimmered with barely controlled energy. He slit the beast open from throat to groin. He quickly peeled back the hide, and then spent about half an hour stretching and preserving the hide on the gray ironwood frame he made from tree branches. The meat he carved off was eaten raw with special cat teeth he grew in order to eat the meat. Then he began to analyze and absorb. Complex DNA patterns formed in his inner eye. He had never gone further than imagining this process before, yet he knew he could achieve it. He ate more as he began to change. The skin of his face split at the nose ridge and fell away to reveal scales. The bones of his face began to elongate into raptor form. The more he changed, the more he felt the need to eat. As his own previous flesh sloughed off, he had to replenish his own mass with the flesh of the raptor. After another twenty minutes, Ged Aero had become a dinosaur, a Dionysian velociraptor.
Just as Ged had imagined, Ham was nearly in shock over the transformation. He’d seen Ged grow scales here and there, and change color a few times. He’d even seen the fangs grow in once or twice. But this was the first time Ged had let anyone else witness how completely his ability allowed him to change form. He knew it was disgusting and awful to watch, but he felt the time had come to reveal what he could truly do.
“Ged? How did you…?”
“Truly amazin’ Bucko!” Sinbadh gasped.
The Princess took Ham in hand and made sure he followed through with the plan. She stripped the captured Fred of his Bam-Bam shorts and then undressed Ham, before putting the caveman disguise on him. Ham was too far gone to protest or be embarrassed.
“Thaank you, Princesssss,” said the velociraptor that was Ged Aero. “You and Sssinbadh ssstay and guard the prisonerssss.”
The Princess firmly shook her head no. She stripped the girl of her Raquel Welch 1,000,000 B.C. bikini and put it on. Her small son she stripped naked. “We go,” was all she said.
Ham mounted on Ged’s saurian back and the Princess got up behind him. The little blue boy was wedged safely in between them.
“What is to become of us?” cried young Fred3576. “You killed our Dino. You can’t just leave us here in the wild naked and tied up!”
“No harm will come to you,” hissed Ged. “Sssinbadh will ssstay and guard you.”
“Blimey! Ya kin count on me, Cap’n. As long as ye don’t eat me. I am yer faithful dog! Space dog, that is!”
Cold weather makes my joints creaky and my bones ache. My head gets fuzzy, and it makes it hard to think when my blood sugar gets low. (By fuzzy, I mean on the inside like interference in your TV picture, not fuzzy on the outside. I am fuzzy on the outside because I had to give up haircuts due to psoriasis on my scalp.)
Yes, as we get older, we get crummier and crummier. I am literally crumbling now as psoriasis flakes my skin off all over.
And as we get older… and poorer… and dumber… we have to learn how to do things to get happier. My health problems lead easily to depression. Not just a little generic sad, but deep down at the bottom of a deep, dark black pit of gloomy depression. So, I have to take matters into my own hands. Yes, I act a little goofy on purpose. I draw a funny picture. Laughter produces serotonin in the brain, the chemical that is missing when you fall into debilitating depression. Scraggles is the result of major dark back in the early 80’s. I also go to Walmart and buy chocolate. Eating chocolate produces serotonin in the brain too. I ate a whole 98-cent box of M&M’s this morning. (Of course, as a diabetic, they had to be peanut M&M’s because peanuts have niacin in them at levels that boost your body’s insulin towards working more efficiently. M&M’s make me happy.
Of course, I am not out of the woods yet. The mood of your family impacts your own mood. My children have been ill for most of January and all of February so far. And that puts them in varied states of depression and needing chocolate. It is a good thing that Valentine’s Day is near and Walmart is over-stocked. And it helps that it’s cheap.
I am old. Being old is not easy. Being ill is worse. It really is heck. But I don’t give up. I don’t surrender. I have fought back for too many years to give up now.
Talking to a school administrator the other day about the challenges my children and I have been facing in the last year, I had one of those experiences where you get a look at your own life through someone else’s eyes. “Wow, you have really been on a difficult journey,” he said. I just nodded in response. Financial difficulties, health problems, dealing with depression… life has been tough. But you get through things like that by being centered. Meditation tricks. Things you can do to smooth out the wrinkles and keep moving forward.
I always return in the theater of my mind to a moment in childhood where I learned a critical lesson. My life has been one of learning how to build rather than destroy. It has been about creating, not criticizing.
When I was a boy, I was a serious butterfly hunter. It started when Uncle Don gave me a dead cecropia moth that he had found in the Rowan grain elevator. It was big and beautiful and perfectly preserved. Shortly thereafter, I located another cecropia in the garage behind the house, a building that had once been a wagon shed complete with horse stalls and a hay loft. I tried to catch it with my bare hands. And by the time I had hold of it, the powder on its wings was mostly gone. The wings were broken in a couple of places, and the poor bug was ruined in terms of starting a butterfly collection.
Undeterred by tragedy, I got books about butterfly collecting at the Rowan Public Library and began teaching myself how to bug hunt. I learned where to find them, and how to net them, and how to kill and mount them.
I discovered that my grandfather’s horse pasture had thistle patches which were natural feeding grounds for red admiral butterflies (pictured top left) and painted lady butterflies (top right). But if you wanted to catch the rarer mourning cloak butterfly (bottom picture), you had to stake out apple trees, particularly at apple blossom time, though I caught one on the ripening apples too.
But my greatest challenge as a butterfly hunter was the tiger swallowtail butterfly. They are rare. They are tricky. And one summer I dueled with one, trying with all my might to catch him. He was in my own back yard the first time I saw him. I ran to get the butterfly net, and by the time I got back, he was flitting high in the trees out of reach. I must’ve watched him for half an hour before I finally lost sight of him. About five other times I had encounters with him in the yard or in the neighborhood. I learned the hard way that some butterflies are acrobatic flyers and can actually maneuver to avoid being caught. He frustrated me.
The tiger swallowtail was the butterfly that completed my collection, and it was finished when one of my cousins caught one and gave it to me because she knew I collected them.
But then, one day, while I was sitting on a blanket under a maple tree in the back yard with my notebooks open, writing something that I no longer even recall what I wrote, the backyard tiger swallowtail visited me again. In fact, he landed on the back of my hand. I dropped the pencil I was writing with, and slowly, carefully, I turned my hand over underneath him so that he was sitting on my palm.
I could’ve easily closed my hand upon him and captured him. But I learned the lesson long before from the cecropia that catching a butterfly by hand would destroy its delicate beauty. I would knock all the yellow and black powder off his exquisite wings. I could not catch him. But I could close my hand and crush him. I would be victorious after a summer-long losing battle.
But that moment brought an end to my butterfly hunting. I let him flutter away with the August breeze. I did not crush the butterfly. It was then that I realized what beauty there was in the world, and how fragile that beauty could be. I could not keep it alive forever. But it lasted a little big longer because I chose to let it.
So, here is the lesson that keeps me whole. Even though I had the power, I did not crush the butterfly.
Yes, I, of all people, should probably not be trying to give advice to ugly people. I have some wisdom about ugliness to share, but only by participation in the world as a member of that class of people that ordinary folk would really, really, extremely importantly not want to see naked. I am not Boris Karloff’s Mummy unwrapped, but I am in no way pretty under my clothes.
So why would anybody with six incurable diseases, one of which is a skin disease that involves reddish pink bleedy spots, ever contemplate becoming a nudist?
Well, horrible as I am, I have had a lifelong yearning for a life lived naked. I recently found an online quiz thing that asked the question, “Should you become a nudist?” Here is the result it gave me;
So, apparently, I have nudist tendencies. I have been concealing a long-standing desire to throw off all my clothes and walk around naked all the time. And I have been doing it all my life. But I am not some mentally ill pervert, or even an exhibitionist. I just have an innate feeling, as I suspect most people do, that I was meant to live a more natural life wearing only the things that God clothed me with. When I think of myself naked, I try to think of myself more like the boy I have drawn here to picture the feelings I have about nudity;
There is a certain innocence and rightness involved in being nude. I don’t generally push it in people’s faces. I don’t plaster a bunch of naked pictures of myself on the internet. Some nudists do. I see a lot of naked people on Twitter now that I have written articles for nudist blogs and joined a couple of nudist websites. But they are not Playboy magazine nudes. They are more often than not the slightly overweight, blobby sort of people that look like oddly bulbous stacks of uncooked pancake dough. They are the kind of unfettered and unashamed personal body images that go a long way toward making me feel better about my fat old blobby-spotty self. If people like that can be proud of their naked form, then my bugged-out eyes help convince my stupid head that I could do it too.
I have been to a nudist park precisely one time. As chronicled in this blog last July, I visited the Bluebonnet Nudist Park in Alvord, Texas. I have been naked in the presence of other naked people. And it really is a liberating experience. Being seen naked by naked girls is not nearly as soul-crushingly embarrassing as I once believed. Especially since being a nudist is in no way about sex. In fact, lewd behavior of any kind gets you kicked out of a nudist park faster than if you were doing the same thing at the Ballpark at Arlington for a Texas Rangers baseball game. (Most of those lewd dudes, admittedly, were fueled more by alcohol than hormones.) Those people at the nudist park did not look at me, scream in horror, and run away. They looked me in the eye, smiled, and talked to me as if I were the same as they are.
So my advice to sincerely ugly people, based on my own experiences as a bug-ugly human being is… become a nudist. Learn to accept your whole ugly, horrible self as an ordinary human being with no artificial veneer. Do not cover up who you actually are. Then, you may begin to see that what you always thought of as ugliness and horribleness is really beauty and grace and healthy human-ness.