The Long Days — Repost

Prompt: Pace Oddity
Prompt: Memorize

sb10067777h-001

I get up as late as possible, telling myself I will shower after work instead of before work. Makes logical sense.

I complete my assigned tasks. I’m a professional. The day drags, and I become weary of smiling and listening to the same banter, the same jokes, the same complaints and petty politics.

Once back home, a large drink is in order. I don’t feel creative enough to cook, but defrost something instead. We eat in front of TV, with a bottle of wine.

More wine, more TV, then finally, bed, where I dream I am the master of a herd of wild horses.

On the weekend, I sleep later. It’s physically very hard to drag myself out from under the cool white sheets and plump duvet. I meet friends for late lunch. There are jokes and banter, complaints and petty politics. But the pizza is filling. The glass of wine I drink with lunch makes me drowsy, and I nap, dreaming I am a time traveller.

I wake in time to make dinner. We had planned to go see a movie, but I feel a bit tired, so we have steak and salad at home. I’m not very hungry, but have a few more glasses of wine.

Finally it is time for bed. Finally. The day passes so very slowly, it is almost painful. I feel pricks of hurt, and aches in places there should be no aches. But at last, I can turn out the light, and return to my dreams.

__

For me, this is partly what depression feels like. The day passes agonizingly slowly because there is no joy in it. There is no connection, only numbness. Yet you have to meet and speak to people as if everything is perfectly fine; you have to perform everyday tasks as if they matter. There is only one real and meaningful thought: This will soon be over.

Some depression is triggered by an outside event. Sometimes, it is nothing but an inexplicable shift in your feelings of self and of others. People who are depressed can’t help it.

If you have such feelings, please speak to your doctor. There is relief for depression, whether it is counselling, medication, or a combination of the two.

If you recognize depression in a friend or family member, realize that pep talks don’t work. They need actual, professional help, and you can encourage them to seek help by pointing out there is no shame in depression, and that there is effective help available.

If the shadows grow too long, and the day passes so slowly that you are desperate to hurry the night, please call an emergency hot line. You can feel better.

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  • Photo: Getty Images.
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Drifting In and Out

Prompt: Enamored


Hello Wednesday,

And hello Jo! Jo is one of the visitors we hosted this past week, as she and others competed in a Multisport athletic challenge nearby– I invited Jo to visit this site, with all its diverse, dark, bright, and incoherent ramblings, hoping she wouldn’t be too horrified. As I said in an earlier post, I was a bit hesitant and pre-stressed about their stay, but it turned out to be a delightful and rewarding time.

Pre-stress. That is the inane experience of freaking out via unwarranted negative anticipation. Part of the stress is that of living up to expectations, part is dealing with the unknown, part is the feeling disorientation because a stream of visitors can impart the feeling of disconnecting you– however unintentionally– from the safety and comfort of “home”.

I am not enamored of this feeling, but I think it is interesting to consider the things that cause us such unnecessary stress. Or understandable stress:

cartoon sane desire


cartoon medical marijuana


cartoon health coverage


I would like to welcome any new visitors to Fluffy Pool. In the manner of blogs, the most recent posts are always at the top, but you might find that some of my stories rely on earlier entries to make sense. Here you will find quite a large community of characters, most interrelated, and sometimes the stories are challenging unless you’ve read what comes before. Ultimately it doesn’t matter since it’s all for fun and entertainment, and satisfies my personal cravings to write about what is on my mind.

Thank you for reading.

~~FP

Devotion

Prompt: Inhabit

fish

My given name is Adolph G. Zenith, though my friends always called me Zen. The “G” means nothing; my parents merely thought it gave my name more gravitas, and lacked the imagination, I suppose, to find a suitably, equally formidable middle name to compliment “Adolph”, and that also started with G, George, Gregory, Gerald notwithstanding. But my parents were busy people, and did not have the time or inclination to pour over baby name books. So Adolph G. Zenith it was.

You might have heard of the Zenith family. We were frequently in the news for a groundbreaking campaign for science- and bible-backed eugenics. My parents were large, powerful people who tried to live as they preached: god-fearing, white-proud, “true” Christians. Both were tall and muscular, infused with presence and charisma. Hopes for me, their son, were high.

I was not even remotely a formidable child. Instead I was plagued by allergies, was asthmatic, was very thin with delicate skin prone to dryness and sunburn, and had sparse, ash brown hair. Hardly the model Aryan boy my parents so vehemently wished for. We travelled the country, and sometimes ventured overseas, attending rallies where my father spoke for hours at a time, sometimes replaced by my mother when he needed a drink or a bathroom break, and I was to stand proudly behind him with his “stage staff”, looking young and strong in a blue slacks and a white shirt and a blue blazer.

My father would take his jacket off, revealing a short-sleeved shirt, and loosen his tie, to demonstrate that he was a man of the people, sweating, passionate, and powerful; but I was not permitted to remove the blazer no matter what the temperature, because the shoulder pads were sewn into the jacket, without which I would look like the underweight, bony, fragile child I was. More than once my mother had to hustle me off the stage before I fainted in front of hundreds, sometimes thousands of people.

They tried to bulk me up with red meat, which I was fed at least twice a day; and some fruit juices which they heard were “cleansing”, but except for potatoes there was not much in the way of vegetables set before me because they personally did not find them appealing. I was allowed sugary drinks and pastries, but nothing in my diet seemed to change my core appearance. I was not a poster child for their movement and never would be.

I grew up under a cloud of palpable disappointment, a daily routine of sighs, eye rolls, impatient instruction, and whispered, disapproving comments. I could read at an early age, and was good at spelling, and had a knack for model building and climbing trees, but not at running, swimming, aerobic exercise, weight-lifting, growing tall and blonde, or understanding or explaining the philosophy of race purity and pride.

My father was not averse to a good whack across my temple with a meaty, open hand if I transgressed, sometimes knocking me to the floor. “It’s for your own good,” my mother would say, as if I didn’t know.

To be honest, I don’t remember much of the dogma or the philosophy of my father’s speeches. I developed an ability to completely tune out whatever came out of my parents’ mouths, possibly as a defence mechanism, since they often brutally smothered or slandered things that were important to me, like my love of rock and roll, my satanic curiosity about parapsychology, my devotion to fishing, and my friend René. To survive long evenings on the stage, to avoid a wallop across the head, to attempt to build a core that I recognized as me, I would zone out and travel in my mind, float across oceans, relive kind moments, play scenes from films in my head, try and communicate with René across the miles.

As a teenager, I was able to worm out of many of the stage performances, if not the sermons and some of the prominent, televised protest marches. I was still thin and unthreatening, but I was quick and newly certain that everything my parents did and said was wrong, as teenagers are, except that I felt righteous and outraged and on the side of the true god.

Zenith was not our real name. Father had it officially changed when he learned his heritage. “I’m not a Jew,” he said, “not even close, it’s passed down through the mother, my mother was not a Jew.”

“You have Jew blood,” I said, using the only phrase I knew, which now makes me cringe.

I was sixteen, and about to be kicked out of the house. He had confiscated my cellphone and laptop in order to confirm that I had not been communicating with undesirable people, and that I had no porn nor access to porn. I was angry; more painful than the anger was the loneliness I felt without being able to text René or visit the forums that connected me to a greater world

“I have no Jew blood,” my father said, and his face flushed, and his eyes darkened. I tensed and flexed, ready to dodge a blow.

“Nothing wrong with Grampa’s blood,” I said defiantly. Grampa was a grumpy old thing, dead six years, but he was kind to me, and never hit me but once.

“You’re an ignorant fool, always have been,” said my father.

“Thanks,” I said, and instinctively ducked. For the first time, my father’s hand missed my face. He looked startled, and I felt a surge of power and confidence. This was new to me.

But I was not quick enough to avoid the next blow, which was a closed fist against my upper cheek. I fell to the floor.

“Respect,” my father said.

From the floor, I said the most hurtful thing I could think of: “Grampa’s blood is in you, you are a Jew.”

My father kicked my shoulder, hard, and I fell on my back.

He spoke to me then, in a dangerously low voice, about how the “Jew blood” had been flushed from his system, pint by pint, and he was pure, but somehow bad blood had infested me, his son. I’d heard this before, though hadn’t thought he meant it literally, which he had.

“I’m a Jew,” I said. “Thanks to you.”

He kicked my in the mouth, ostensibly to silence me, and that’s when my mother appeared from upstairs, and saw the beating had been taken too far, and banished me to my room without checking where the blood was coming from.

I didn’t ever get my phone or laptop back. And yes, I’d been communicating with undesirable people and looking at porn, so chances are I would have been booted out anyway.

Ten years later, in Portland, Oregon, I met a girl name Addy, and changed my name to Ted (short for Teddy, short for her nickname for me, “Teddy Bear”) Rickman (a family name on my Grandpa’s side), and was able to renew my friendship with René before he died.

As far as I know, my parents never tried to contact me or see what became of me. They continued touring for a while, then settled down with a congregation in a town called Green Falls, which they hoped (according to an obscure news article I found) to convert to an all-white, all Christian community. I heard nothing more, nor do I look anymore.

I supposed I was erased from their lives, and no longer inhabited their consciousness or their memories. They had the kind of minds that could exclude anything painful or conflicting or unpleasant.

I don’t have that kind of mind.

I think of them daily.

Gritty Meatballs

Prompt: Visceral


Dear Wednesday,

I admit, my reaction was visceral, from the gut, when I was informed that we would have four guests, three of whom I’ve never met, staying with us for over a week while they attend an athletic event (as participants). I’m still recovering from family reunion week, for heaven’s sake (and recovery realizations are pretty glorious… intently savouring every quiet moment of no-one-else-ville).

We all need to learn to control such reactions, or at least not to trust them, necessarily. My reaction was not instinctual, it was a purely selfish response to what I perceived as a burdensome lack of privacy. But was it?

They are lovely people. They train hard, and buy provisions, and are charmingly appreciative (the English accents don’t hurt).

Now they are visiting friends overnight, and I was astonished how much I missed them. The house suddenly seemed a lonely cave.

I also admit I am confused.

Allow me to present a few of my favourite cartoons, the first of which is tangentially related to today’s Daily Prompt, visceral

cartoon art sucks


cartoon gritty meatballs


cartoon send more roc


Savour every moment!

~~FP

Rejection

Prompt: Ooze

cell phone new message
Language warning

Wendy was busy that night; in fact she actually did have to wash her hair, having had an altercation with a beehive, a subsequent application of ointments to her scalp, and a seven a.m. shift the next morning.

Colin, who had thought it was time to move beyond the random texting, was not well-pleased by her response.

“You cunt,” he texted. “Your too fat anyway. I was only feeling sorry for you.”

Wendy had a long soak in a hot bathtub, pleased to have clean hair, happy to have avoided a date with Colin, tired and relatively content, until she logged into Facebook, from bed, on her laptop.

“I hope your raped and sodomized by a gorilla,” said the post from Colin Gibbons. She hadn’t known his last name until that moment. His grammar and spelling were below par.

“I know where you live, bitch,” he wrote. “I can see you. My friends wanna fuck you too.

Even though your a fat cow.”

Wendy blocked and banned his account, but not before he posted a picture of a woman performing a sexual act on a donkey.

After work the following morning, the red light on the land line phone blinked, indicating there was a message waiting. She decided not to listen to the message, and deleted it.

She looked out the apartment window and saw a man with a camera. Perhaps he was taking pictures of the building for a rental listing, as she knew several units were coming available at month’s end.

Her cousin Amos called her on her cell, and having checked her on Facebook, asked if she was all right. Wendy burst into tears.

“Don’t tell anyone,” she said, “But I am not all right.”

“Don’t tell anyone?”

“If they know how scared I am, how hurt and demoralized and disillusioned and how much I want to crawl into a dark hole and hide… they would be happy, they win.”

“They? This was Colin Something.”

“Add Louis, Carl, Roger A., and a few others I am trying to forget, and you have a picture of my life since February.”

Amos begged her to be safe, then logged off his phone and set it gently on the counter. Seven threats, seven attacks, since February? It seemed unlikely. Was she being too sensitive? Perhaps she should be a little more careful, a little more diplomatic when she turned a guy down?

Wendy considered deleting her Facebook account, once and for all. She considered avoiding nights out with her friends, or any social engagements where she might meet someone. Maybe she would avoid contact for a little bit. But she vowed not to delete her Facebook account. That would mean they won.


When Women Refuse

All of My Hopes and Dreams

Prompt: Grainy

cartoon ny cover hot dog and dog

Dear Wednesday,

Today’s topic is mustard.

Just now, I learned that I have no real feelings or comments to share about mustard.

So may I instead present a few of my favourite cartoons, only very peripherally related to today’s prompt “grainy” (mustard –> hot dog)?

cartoon hot dog stand crushed dreams


cartoon hot dog invited to cookout


cartoon hot dog whack a mole


I do like mustard on a hot dog– the bright yellow kind. Otherwise I’m partial to hot English style mustard. How about you?

~~FP

My August Long Weekend

Prompt: Organize

beach party crowd

My long weekend starts on Thursday evening, with a mac & cheese dinner for family plus 4-6 guests.

Friday morning: Golf.
Friday: sunning, swimming, boating, sand-castling, beverages. Make 2 salads.
Friday dinner: Bring Your Own Dog (hot dog BBQ) for family plus 20.

Saturday morning: Golf. Make spaghetti sauce for 50. Pick up garlic bread. Make salad. Buy watermelon.
Saturday: sunning, swimming, boating sand-castling, beverages. Set up marquee and tables. Prepare plates, cutlery, napkins and condiments.
Saturday dinner: Pasta for 50 (some years 70-80). Meatball Contest. Musical entertainment. Beverages. Dancing.

Sunday morning: Golf.
Sunday afternoon: Bocce Bitch Tournament. Prizes. Variety of salmon appetizers. Beverages.
Sunday evening: Tacos for 30.

Monday: sunning, swimming, boating, sand-castling, beverages. Strike down marquee.
Monday afternoon: Greek lunch buffet.
Monday evening: leftovers for ? Strike down tables.

Tuesday: Bye bye to all except 3 visiting family. Return rental plates, glasses, cutlery, tables, cloths, and pots.

Wednesday: Sleep. Do laundry, Do more laundry. Try to find lost kitchen utensils. Hose down deck. Avoid weighing oneself.

___

Now, the above is too much work, and as well-organized as it all has become over the years, the number of people who come early and linger late has increased. People have procreated and bring their children to a weekend that meant so much to themselves as children. And so it goes.

How do we scale it back without offending anyone or ruining childhood memories of a fine gathering put together by generous, open-hearted and loving hosts? I enjoy all of the events and dinners, but there are never fewer than 20 or so people here, in and out, over the course of any day. I don’t golf. I personally oversee only the Thursday, Friday, and Saturday dinners, and I have help; friends or family host the others. I organize and provide prizes for the Bocce Bitch Tournament. Most people pitch in to clean up.

We go through scads of toilet  paper. The fridge stops functioning properly. The dog gets neurotic.

But it’s mostly fun. And utterly exhausting. What to do?