Quarantine Haiku

In the small hours of the night, I’ve composed a quarantine haiku that pretty much sums it up as my mind slowly turns to quarantine mush.  Ta-da!  Another day had passed and someday, hopefully soon, I will once again connect with the wonderful people around me.  Today was not yet that day.

 

Distracting myself

No more than existing alone

You son of a bitch

A fast lane favor, just for you!

I hate getting cut off when I’m driving.  Everyone does. I even get angry when I see a driver cut in front of a truck in the space the trucker has left in front of him to brake safely.

But I once read that if you imagine a good reason for why the other driver did what they did, you’ll feel better.  Maybe they are rushing to the hospital, or to be at the bedside of a dying loved one before they pass.  Maybe the person who cut me off is not a total bastard, but is trying to follow the rules of a serial killer in a Saw movie and had no choice.  Well, it’s true, it does make me feel a little better to give them some selfless excuse.

But what about those drivers in the fast lane that drive at the same speed as the slow lane traffic, people you can never pass?  What’s their excuse?  What can I tell myself to bring down my road rage?

I have the answer and this is my gift to you.

The slow driver in the left lane is driving straight to the lowest circle of hell.  These are their last moments on Earth before they are eternally damned and they want this time to stretch out as long as possible.  Would you deny them their final moments in the sun before they are damned for eternity?  By going slowly in the fast lane, they have figured out how to extend time interminably.  I feel pity for these poor souls.  Even if they weren’t damned before they drove slowly in the fast lane, they sure as f*ck are now.

Grouchy Potatoes

“Midway upon the journey of our life I found myself within a forest dark, For the straightforward pathway had been lost.” (Dante, The Inferno)

 

WARNING:  Those gentle, fainthearted souls who live in blissful ignorance should not read on, lest they lose their precious purity and discover themselves dragged down into despair, never to regain their beautiful innocence.

 

It has been almost a decade since I was visited in my dreams by the creatures of deepest Hell.  Only now, with the passage of time, have I mustered the courage to bring their evil to light.  When I close my eyes, I see them as I did that first day they revealed themselves in my nightmares.  In future writings, I will tell the story of each demonic being I came across in the darkest nights.  For now, I will list them here, though I recommend against speaking any of their names out loud, lest you invite their evil into your home or heart.

I remember them marching past me, and it all started with Grouchy Potatoes, the herald of Evil.

My visitors on the first night were as follows:

Grouchy Potatoes

Shifty Carrots

Silver-tongued Chick Pea Hummus

Flippant Parsley

Brutal Sprouts

Greedy, Snarky Tomatoes

Angry Corn (loose, not on the cob, I recall the Corn as if this all occurred yesterday)

Selfish Peas

Murderous Leeks

Arrogant Mixed Nuts

A Single, Slovenly Pear

Bloodthirsty Clementine Oranges

Strangely, there were also a handful of dishes, including some Boorish Cole Slaw and Malevolent Pizza.

My terror knew no bounds and I lay frozen in my bed.  There was no hope, no respite, no future, only death and destruction.  In that moment, I feared for my immortal soul.  My life was worth nothing in the face of such monstrosities.  The only saving grace was that they utterly ignored me as I cast my gaze upon them.

Little did I know the second night would bring the leadership, the C Suite, the royalty of Hell’s demons to my sight.  I only list them here as I hope their very existence will lead you, dear reader, away from dark paths and into the light.

The first whose aura made me quiver in fear was Saul, The Apple of Doom.  While his origins are lost in the mists of time, many believe he came to exist through the unnatural combination of a Red Delicious and a Granny Smith.  I stifled a scream and briefly lost all awareness when his savage visage came into sight.

When I came to, when I saw what followed, only then did I know there was no escape.  Directly behind him were the Four Asparagus of the Minor Apocolypse:

  • The White Asparagus of Hopelessness
  • The Green Asparagus of Despair
  • The Purple Asparagus of Unwelcome Advice
  • The Canned Asparagus of Crushed Dreams

After came a procession I can barely bring myself to recall.

The Okra of Cruelty

The Chick Pea of Temptation (aka The Seductress)

The Celery Stalk of Mankind’s Downfall

The Twin Chives of Decay, Robert and Allen

The Summer Salad of Darkness

The Kumquat of Weak Willed Hedonism

The Dried Fig of War

and finally, at the end of the procession was Alexander, the Red Potato of Harshest Rebuke.

As they travelled before my eyes, surrounded by bushels of haughty rice pilaf, madness overtook me.

I fear my dreams are prophetic.  If so, our world’s demise is assured.

 

The Fable of the Mask Maker

I really enjoyed the concept of this fable I wrote, but had a tough time writing it.  Mostly because I didn’t want it to be too long.  I think just about everything worth saying can be beautifully fit into a few paragraphs at the most, and most of the words beyond that should have been edited out.  This is especially true for a parable or fable.  Neither you nor I came here to read a novel, so I hope this isn’t too long for either of us.

The fable of the mask maker

Some time ago, there were two sisters, both in their early teens.  Perhaps you know of them, perhaps not, but this is the story of Ann and Kate.

The sisters were very close in age, and they lived in a large city with their parents. Both had close friends and, because they were young, they were both in the process of discovering who they were.  They had dreams and fears of what the future held.  They both wanted close friendships, they wanted to make their parents proud, and, like many young women their age, they wanted to fit in with their peers.

One evening, they were both invited to a masquerade ball.  It was to be a grand event, with many friends attending and numerous people coming from out of town.  Everyone was going to be there.

When the invitations arrived, their Mom gave them some money and sent them to the mask maker, telling them, “Picking out the right mask is very important.  You get to choose who you will be the night of the ball. Because people won’t know who you are, you can choose to be anyone or anything you want.”

The girls were excited and ran to the mask maker’s shop.  When they entered his store, they found all sorts of masks that were perfect for a masquerade.  The girls could choose to look like high society ladies in Venice, or have cat’s faces with whiskers, or have steampunk gears on their cheeks, or anything else they could imagine, both plain and fantastic.  The choices were so many, they were overwhelmed and had a terrible time deciding.  Their parents had suggested a traditional masquerade mask, while their friends had said they were going with masks based on a popular show of the time.  They even had suggestions for each other, but each sister had to choose a mask for herself.  The choosing process was difficult, but finally a decision was made by each of them, and they brought their money to the mask maker sitting behind the cash register.

The master artisan told them, “You have made some excellent choices!  There are no wrong decisions to be made here and these are among my best work.  Let’s see what you have picked out.”  Ann had selected a stunning mask, the face of a character from the most popular show in town.  It was the mask of the heroine who was loved by the audience.  She was certain that this would be accepted by all of her friends and that she would fit in perfectly.  She knew many would be wearing the same face the night of the ball and she drew comfort from this.  Kate, on the other hand, had found a more unique mask, that of the face of an exotic merchant of the stars.  This mask spoke to her heart, but though she had always been drawn to becoming a star trader, it was neither the traditional mask her parents would have picked for her nor one that would be popular or common at the ball.  Ann was quick to point this out to her.

As he took their money, the mask maker said, “Because my masks have to be able to fit any face, the fit is never perfect.  When you dance and enjoy your party, remember that your mask may slip off from time to time.  When this happens, just remember, if you keep in the character of your mask, nobody will notice that it has slipped.  You can put it back into place as if nothing has happened.”  The sisters thanked him and left with their prizes.

The ball was everything Ann had expected, though a bit bland and predictable.  She saw her friends, many of whom wore the same mask she did, and they all enjoyed the drinks and dancing.  They watched the other partygoers, sometimes with fascination, and commented on everyone who attended and what they were wearing.  As teenage girls sometimes do, they often had biting remarks for those who were not well dressed and for those who didn’t see the wisdom of picking a mask others could easily recognize.  But this pettiness was kept to a minimum and they enjoyed each other’s company. 

Throughout the night, Ann worried that her mask was slipping off and kept fixing it.  Even when it had not moved at all, she kept adjusting it and feeling it to make sure it was in place.  It was a constant distraction and by the end of the night, she could focus on little else, always worried that if it slipped off, someone would notice and she would become the object of ridicule.  But fortunately, that never happened, though there were a few close calls.  By the end of the night, Ann, fully exhausted with the mask and the ball, was ready to leave.  All in all, she had a good time, or at least that’s what she told her parents the next morning as she wondered what had become of Kate, who she had lost track of early in the night.

When she arrived at the ball, Kate was nervous.  Her mask was different from everyone else’s and she could tell right away that this singled her out.  Though she loved the star trader’s mask, she wished her sister and her friends would love it too, would accept it.  But they didn’t, not at all.  They laughed at her choice, they poked fun at how poorly she fit in.  And so Kate had to forge out on her own and make new friends.  She feared the coming “I told you sos” from her parents, friends, and sister, who would never have worn such a mask and were either embarrassed or worried about her choice.  Nonetheless, Kate wore her new mask and carefully followed the mask maker’s instructions.  She kept in character so that if her mask slipped, no one would notice.  She made a number of new friends that night and met many interesting people, but it was a very difficult process.  She wondered to herself, “Why must it be so hard to meet new people, to make new friends?  Why do my friends judge me so harshly, why do they mock me?”  But by the time the evening was over, she barely noticed the mask at all, she was so fully enjoying herself.  She danced the night away and everyone commented on the remarkable star trader in their midst.

When the night was almost at an end, Kate saw herself in a mirror and admired the beautiful mask she still wore.  It was perfect.  She raised her hands to take it off, but when she put her hands on it to remove it, she touched her own face.  In a moment of clarity, she realized the mask had fallen off hours before.  Her face had become that of the star trader and she could never again return to the comfortable life she lived before that night.

A Little Bit of Oscar Wilde

Sometimes, instead of uplifting, life-affirming quotes and stories, instead of depth of thought and greatness of character, there’s nothing quite like a shallow, brilliant mind to make you smile.  At least it’s that way for me…

Well, here’s a bit of Oscar Wilde.  He had lots of brilliant thoughts, and I’ve done my best not to reproduce any of those thoughts here.  I pulled these from Only Dull People Are Brilliant at Breakfast, a thin, little, awesome book.

 

“Men marry because they are tired; women because they are curious.  Both are disappointed.”

“Bad art is a great deal worse than no art at all.”

“Life is much too important a thing to ever talk seriously about”

“The secret of life is never to have an emotion that is unbecoming.”

“Murder is always a mistake.  One should never do anything that one cannot talk about after dinner.”

 

The Fable of the Mage’s Spell

It’s been years since I posted anything and it’s time to get back to writing.  I challenged my brother for each of us to write a fable.  Here’s mine and I hope you enjoy it.

In a distant land, one you’ve never heard of, an ancient and powerful mage decided his life had come to an end.  He wanted to give something to his children, and their children, and so on, all the way down the generations.  He had tremendous magic at his disposal and he decided to give his descendants a gift.  He saw that amidst their happiness and joy, they were always struggling to survive, always laboring to keep the wolf of hunger from their door.  And so he settled on the gift of sustenance.  He thought, “If only they didn’t have to struggle for their most basic needs, they would be free to enjoy their lives, free to love and create and experience to their hearts’ content.”  They would never starve, or lack for shelter, or freeze to death, or die of heat stroke, or go hungry.

Unfortunately, as the mage neared death, his mind had become somewhat addled and his thinking was not clear.  The mage thought, “I must be careful, I don’t want to be worshipped as a god after I am gone, or have my descendants waste their precious time trying to learn my secrets rather than living their own lives, so I must find a way to hide the source of this gift.  While everyone will have this gift, I must ensure they don’t know it for what it is.  They will have all of the benefits, but they won’t think about it and they won’t be grateful for it.  This way I can rest in peace and be gently forgotten after I leave this life.”  And in that very thought he made his greatest mistake.

As the mage passed from this life, he wove his most powerful spell and bestowed this incredible gift upon his descendants, instilling it into their lives and the lives of all who would come after.  At the very heart of the spell, he ensured his descendants would never know the gift he bestowed, that they would never even know his name.

Even one generation after he died, his grandchildren had already forgotten what it was to struggle in life, to feel the bite of starvation or the fear of the elements.  And because of the nature of the mage’s spell, his offspring were unaware of the gift bestowed upon them.  His children and grandchildren never felt gratitude for their easy lives, and they never understood that their needs were taken care of.  Their descendants spent all of their days striving to fulfill needs that were already fulfilled.  They were never again content, though all of their needs were satisfied.  They found themselves always working to answer new needs and always desiring more than they had, no matter how large their bounty.  They were never again grateful for their blessings or achievements, and that has been the way of things ever since.