Z-pocalypse

I used to do this thing where I’d hold up my credit card, y’know, when someone was at the door—I’d hold it up to the peephole instead of looking through, so if they tried to shoot me in the face, they’d shoot my Visa instead.

It never occurred to me that I’d still die, only slower, ’cause how would I eat without plastic? They still had to swipe it back then. You couldn’t just enter the number online, and your food magically appeared.

This one time, I couldn’t find my Visa, and the guy wouldn’t give me my food. But I had this string of pearls, those yellow South Sea ones—paid my rent for six months when I sold them. And this guy says, “gimme those, and I’ll give you your food.” So I ransomed my necklace for twelve bucks’ worth of Greek food, and I had to wait a week to get it back, because that’s how long it took to find my Visa.

That’ll be the worst part, if there’s ever a zombie apocalypse. Getting food, I mean. My z-pocalypse plan involves a greenhouse and a box of quail, but it takes time to get dinner from that. You can’t plant lettuce and cucumbers and have a salad that night. Even a bird takes some doing. You have to soak it and pluck it and scoop out its guts—oh, but kill it first!—and then you need a recipe, or you have to wait for eggs…. You can’t be lazy in zombieland.

Another thing, if the zombies come, I don’t know how to drive. I have this idea I’ll build my greenhouse in the tundra, let the zedders freeze solid outside, only how would I get that far north? I suppose I could dart from house to house till the city runs out, but after that, I’d need wheels. And someone to build me my greenhouse, because I drop things and break them, and I fail at IKEA.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not stupid. I know how to build a greenhouse, and a water filter, and a fence. It’s just, actually doing it…all those bits, and you’d need a ladder, and one of those things for digging post holes, ah…whatever you use to pour concrete, tin snips, glass cutters, a hammer…so many things, and I don’t have any of them.

It’d take me a while to set up my post-zombie paradise. Even so, I’d be fine. A zombie apocalypse, y’know, you’d just have to wait out the zeds. It wouldn’t take long for them to get too decomposed to move. Then, your main worries would be pathogens and the living, and I excel at avoiding both. People-shy and pathogen-paranoid, that’s me.

Anyone want to collect me, should we have an apocalypse (zombie or otherwise)? I can’t actually do anything, but I know how to stay alive.

27 thoughts on “Z-pocalypse

  1. I would, but I don’t know how to drive either. I would be just an extra pair of hands.

    Also, my household skills are limited to making tea, frying eggs and washing dishes (that’s a lie, I can do more, but that’s how it sometimes feels).

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    1. I suppose we’d have to recruit burly folks and drivers for our z-team. People who can do stuff, while we, ah…sponge off them. Ahem.

      In my z-fantasy, I’d use the z-pocalypse to recover my health through necessary physical exertion, but I imagine that would take a while. Even in a fantasy world.

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      1. Mooching off is more difficult than it seems. When you’re lazing about doing nothing and someone comes along and starts being busy and industrious anywhere in your proximity… It’s like a quiet guilt trip. Eventually you have no choice but to join them. Even if you do fail IKEA.)

        The truth is, you’ll need a small community to survive the z-pocalypse, like a village type thing. That’ll require more than one greenhouse, and more than one box of quail.

        I didn’t expect Bob to own up to the fart, he sounded like someone who’d deny it to the very end, but his admission WAS very in character. And the dog did get his revenge.
        That twist ending though, if it goes where I think it does, might be above and beyond karma. 💩

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        1. I think I could get behind that, a nice wee post-zed village, with a high fence and lots of greenhouses, and a whole load of quail. A few goats, maybe, and a well. And a dentist. You’d definitely need a dentist. Having teeth would be important, post-apocalypse.

          With the twist ending, I was hoping to imply two things: one, that Bob IS about to get a nice dose of karma, but two, well, consider what we already know:

          1) Sam was in the toilet when Bob did the fart.
          2) Bob had been farting all day, but his previous farts hadn’t smelt much.
          3) The cabbage pie at the end is left over from a couple of nights ago, and Sam’s mum doesn’t want him to use her loo if he eats it.

          So, it may be that Sam’s in the habit of using Bob’s toilet for particularly unpleasant deposits, and while Bob DID do the fart, he may not have been responsible for the stench. MAYBE it just happened to hit at about the same time.

          I can’t believe I put that much thought into a story about farts. What have I become?

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          1. I’d imagine dentists to be at a premium in a post-apoc world. So I suggest an emendation to the plan – “Mission: Kidnap Dentist*”. To be attempted some time before leaving the city behind. Most other people fleeing would probably be too concerned about zombies to think about dentists (although, judging by zombie dental hygiene – they shouldn’t be), so we’ll have a distinct advantage.

            *Should really be “Mission: Politely Ask Dentist to Join”, but it doesn’t have the same ring…

            A post-apoc village might be really beautiful. Somewhere green and quiet, with a garden, and no cars around… And no ladders in sight (the highest thing to break the horizon/fence facade should be hibiscus or rosehip bushes, and the odd tree).

            Totally missed the connection between Sam’s toilet break and the smell*. Although I did notice Marko got dumped, and Joe’s insidious campaign against Grisha ends up as memorable as the main story (and features the most disgusting detail of the narrative too). It also took me a moment to realise that the b word Pete apologises for is “bloody”, I thought it was a quaint and “toothless” swearword by now.

            *It’s a good proof of concept for your idea for mysteries about mundane happenings.

            You’ve become the person who can write a compelling narrative about a fart. That’s not a bad thing to be.))

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            1. We shouldn’t have too much trouble securing a dentist for our post-apocalyptic village. My teeth are bad enough that he’d be able to soak me for whatever I had for the rest of my life. My box of quail would be his box of quail.

              You know, you’re right. When I think about the z-pocalypse, and what life might be like, I don’t think about scene from those zombie shows, with the deaders running around biting everybody. I think about what it would be like after they’ve all rotted to bits, in a fresh, new world with 95% fewer human beings. I picture that, a beautiful farm in some deserted place, not having much to do but feed the birds and tend the plants…I worked on a farm through high school, and I always complained about it, but I secretly loved it. I’d bike down first thing in the morning and get to work picking fruit or pruning trees or whatever was on the docket for the day, and it’d be nothing but me and the morning dew. Completely quiet. No-one to bother me. It wasn’t the nightmare you get doing farm work in the USA, like when you’re illegal and you can’t get a proper job. (I tried that, and it was terrible, just…they’d pick up truckloads of us and wouldn’t give us breaks, and the sun would beat down…it was far easier to do handjobs for businessmen.) But a proper farm, a good farm, that’s nice work if you can get it.

              As for Joe, well, he HAD to get the most disgusting line in the story. He just had to. He’s sort of, y’know, every group of friends has its arsehole, but with only a couple of hundred words to show his awfulness, I had to go all out. Ha, ha.

              “Bloody” isn’t much of a swear word, it’s true, but it’s still not nice to say in front of one’s mother. Well, mine doesn’t much like it. Some mothers might tolerate it better.

              You’re right, though. I DID write a mystery about mundane happenings. Not much more mundane than a fart. That kind of concept relies on one’s ability to get the reader invested in the characters, which is one of my worst weaknesses (I’m not good at writing characters people identify with). With a bit more practice, though, I bet I COULD do a burglary mystery or a dude-who-keeps-parking-in-front-of-that-hydrant-on-Fifth mystery.

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              1. For some reason, it seems really fitting for you to have a garden (full of weeds, because you’re a brown thumb* 😝) and a small cottage. Z-pocalypse or not. I think giving the dentist only some of your quail so he could breed his own would be a better idea.

                *which doesn’t mean that it can’t be pretty, malvas and wild sage are weeds

                We had green house work days in high school too. Everyone pretended to hate them, while really, they were a lot of fun… Hoeing the field, planting potatoes (…I think, memory gets blurry… There were two or three large open fields by a small greenhouse, and a fenced enclosure with ostriches, if you did your job well you were rewarded with a small potted plant from the greenhouse, a strawberry, a mint plant, or a peace lily. I have no idea why the ostriches were there, maybe to draw in visitors). The US farm work sounds pretty much like slavery.

                Speaking of which, the last few days were full on sticky heat, the sort of weather where you just want to lie down in front of the AC and not do anything. In fact, you end up not doing anything, but it still feels as if you’ve worked all day. Consequently, my brain feels like mush. Hope it’s better on your side of the globe.

                I think your characters are funny and memorable, relatability is overrated. And, really, that guy who ate all of Neil Gaiman’s work? He was relatable. If that’s not good relatability, I don’t know what is.

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                1. P. S. I wanted to italicise the “every” in “everyone”, but forgot to put in the slash in the second parentheses. This is what happens when the heat gets to you.

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                  1. Y’know, I can’t even imagine what it must be like for most undocumented immigrants in the USA, the ones who aren’t white, or who don’t speak much English. When I got there, the first job I had was in childcare, looking after three kids under four, for less than $2/hour. I was also expected to do the housework AND run errands all over town, with no car. I tried day labour, mostly farm work, but that proved hard to get. I was small and female, and only got picked when there weren’t enough men. In the end, dishonest work was the only way I could accomplish what I’d set out to do (earning money for university).

                    At the end of it all, I earned enough to go back to Canada and get an education. Most people desperate enough to sneak into the USA don’t have that option. I’d imagine a lot of them end up staring down the barrel of an entire lifetime of demeaning, ill-paying labour, with no social safety net and no home to go back to. I could’ve left any time I wanted, had I not been too embarrassed to tell my parents how badly I’d failed. Or, I mean, maybe I could’ve. They might’ve said “you made your bed. You can lie in it.” But probably not. I THINK they love me.

                    I’d love a garden full of weeds, by the way. I like those new lawns people are doing, where instead of just boring old grass, they’re having moss and mushrooms, weeds growing rampant, birdfeeders…just miniature wildlife preserves in people’s yards. My parents have a formal English garden, which is hilarious, because they live in Ontario. Their neighbours are all “wtf?”.

                    I always kind of pictured myself ending up in Italy, probably somewhere on the coast. I was thinking Civitavecchia, as I’ve been there before, and it’s by the sea. There are nicer places, but I like familiarity. Though, with fucking Brexit, that might be more difficult. No more European passport. I still have my fingers crossed for Scottish independence, a reunion with the EU, and a home by the sea, but hope’s fading daily.

                    I love that your farm days featured ostriches. The farm I worked on didn’t have animals, just blueberries and orchard fruit, a variety of greenhouse products, and so on. The season ran from spring to autumn, with most work available in the summer, then the rest of the year off. Perfect job for a student. Still. It would’ve been SO much more exciting with ostriches.

                    We’ve got that same sticky heat here, in fact, and my AC isn’t working, so I’ve had the balcony door open every day. It’s nice, but flies keep coming in. I found a giant beetle drowned in the toilet this morning. It’s great, though. My old place, I couldn’t open the balcony door or a million spiders would get in, plus a pigeon or two. Here, it’s just a few flies, and the fresh air is lovely. I might just turn off the AC and keep opening the door, even when they fix it.

                    You know, it’s funny you mention that guy eating Neil Gaiman’s work. I’ve just finished reading this book about what goes into writing a bestseller, what audiences are looking for, and one of the things they mentioned was that people LOVE reading about work. Not any specific job, I think, but the workplace. And the Neil Gaiman joke was mostly about that guy’s office, and the people he knew there, and then he was eating the books on the side.

                    I’ve never had an office job, exactly, but I’ve worked in places with people. I get it. Reading about those little day-to-day interactions and frustrations is probably reassuring. Familiar. I can see people wanting to read about that in the same way I can see myself picking Civitavecchia over, say, Catania. In the end, everyone wants what they know.

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                    1. In fact, the first thought that flitted through my head upon your description of US farmwork was “slavery in the US was never abolished”… It just became less institutionalised. The same is true of Israel, by the way. Most of the hard labour is either done by Arabs or foreign workers from Thailand or the Philippines. They don’t have much rights, or protection, and are mostly stranded on construction sites under the glaring sun. And this is supposed to be “the only democracy in the Middle East”.

                      I actually managed to find the farm we worked in on Google maps. It’s an educational farm, and the reason there were ostriches is because it’s situated right by a tiny zoo kind of thing (the pictures show donkeys, and chickens, which must’ve been there back then too, but the ostriches were the only thing outlandish enough to stick in my memory… Was there also a small enclosure with guinea pigs? Perhaps, but I don’t remember). During such vivid episodes you never suspect that you’ll be trying to reconstruct them in your memory decades from now, at least, not when you’re twelve. We didn’t pick anything edible though, we just planted things in the field and replanted things from one pot to another in the hothouse. I do remember the damp black soil being cool and soft to the touch and looking vaguely like chocolate cake.

                      I also prefer wild overgrown gardens to perfectly manicured topiary, something worthy of the word “ecosystem”. Preferably with a lot of flowers, so that you get bees and bumblebees buzzing around. It’s good to know that this is actually a growing trend.

                      My day hasn’t just been hot, it has been busy in a thoroughly unexpected way. A friend asked whether I could help and translate five pages of text from Hebrew to Russian, he didn’t have the time to do it, prior commitments and so forth. I unwisely replied “yes, of course!” without bothering to inquire what the text was about and expecting a breezy half an hour’s job. It turned out to be an academic text with long quotations in Talmudic Hebrew (which is about as intelligible to the modern reader as Chaucerian English, perhaps even slightly less so… Chaucer is poetry, the Talmud is impenetrable religious scholasticism), all about whether one specific word in the Bible referred to bats, or moles (it’s exactly like the word for “mole”, but the text throws at you many clever reasons why it really refers to bats, and specifically fruit bats). So I spent hours looking up every second word, figuring out oblique syntax, cross-referencing to existing translations and writing and explaining exact transliterations (because most of these “clever ways”? they’re untranslateable puns). The only upside has been that the friend graciously agreed to pay for the job, and I now feel unexpectedly scholarly (I can say “the Septuagint” and sound as if I really know what I’m talking about (…I don’t)) . But really, I also wanted to just lie on my bed flat as a manta and watch Netflix.

                      Civitavecchia looks amazing, by the way… Although, if I had to buy any beachfront property, I would validate your theory about familiarity and settle in Nahariya (it’s the laziest and most easy going city I know, you could probably safely cross its main street with your eyes closed, despite the constant traffic… it’s THAT slow).

                      Hope you feel better. Constant nausea sounds awful.

                      Fun fact: right now I’m sharing the room with a huge roach. It ran and hid under the large couch that’s too much of a bother to move. It’s right behind my back as I sit down to work, so now I send the occasional glance behind to see if the roach decided the coast is clear. It’s a standoff (if I catch it, it has nothing to fear beside getting unceremoniously dumped out the window… But it doesn’t know that).

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                    2. I think slavery in the USA is more inside prisons than out of them. They can make prisoners work without pay, I believe. Doing farm work or childcare under the table, you ARE paid…just very poorly. Even $2/hour isn’t slavery, as you’re technically free to go. (Technically, because there are only so many places you CAN go with no money. We’ve established I could probably have gone home, had I begged my parents for mercy, but most people stuck working those jobs likely can’t.)

                      I’ve never been to prison, but I’ve heard awful things, especially about those for-profit ones. They can force you to work and take away all your privacy, and subject you to all sorts of indignities, and there’s nothing you can do. They put people in solitary confinement for ages, but also deny solitary confinement to people who want it because they’re being abused by other prisoners.

                      Also, you hear about people going to prison for the silliest of things things, like registering their child in the wrong school district or stealing a can of soup. There are folks getting long stretches for non-violent crimes. Women going to prison for things their husbands or boyfriends did. Women going to prison for having miscarriages. When foolish things like that are getting people stripped of their liberty and their dignity, you just know something’s rotten. In this case, yeah. Free inmate labour. Reprehensible.

                      Your day sounds both fascinating and utterly dull. You know, like when you find something boring on Wikipedia, but you can’t stop reading it. Like, one time I got sucked down a giant mathematical rabbit hole, following an innocent Google search for “pressure coefficient.” I hate the way every article on there leads to like 100 more articles, and you have to read at least enough of them to understand the original one in its entirety, and then, while you’re doing that, you ALWAYS find more you kind of want to read, and it never ends. And you WANT it to end. You really want to move on. But you also want to see what those other links say…no escape. FUCKING Wikipedia. Anyway. Your day sounds like that.

                      Civitavecchia is pleasant, yes. Right on the Tyrrhenian Sea. Plenty of sun, or there was when I visited. Quite quiet, too, despite the port. Or maybe I was there in the off-season. Who knows? Either way, I liked it. You make Nahariya sound good, though. The idea of a town so slow even the cars just putter along, well, that’s rather comforting. Is it a big city, or more of a village?

                      If I had a huge roach in my room, I would not sit down till I’d tossed it off the balcony. My building is currently infested with millipedes (just the storage lockers, not the residential parts), and just knowing they’re there is annoying the bejesus out of me. Fucking millipedes. Those can bite, can’t they? I hate biting insects.

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                    3. Even “good” prisons are still awful places that shouldn’t really exist. There are few reprehensible jobs in this world, and “jailer” is definitely somewhere close to the top of that list. If as much effort went into eradicating poverty and improving the educational system (and making it available to everyone) as into “fighting crime”, there would be way less crime (maybe even way less pathological cases like serial killers, they are, more often than not, consequences of an extremely abusive childhood).

                      Sending someone to prison for having a miscarriage is one of the most unconscionable things I’ve ever heard. What sort of psychopath you have to be to do that? (actually, I’m not THAT surprised, nothing that bad or stupid ever surprises me anymore…)

                      The Wikipedia rabbit hole at least can be kind of fun, that experience has been far too frustrating to be exactly “dull”, but I acutely wished to be doing something else (in truth, I was just a victim of my own ego, didn’t want to send it back admitting defeat).

                      Nahariya is about 50,000 people, so pretty average for an Israeli city. It has this main thoroughfare that is bisected along its length by a river that flows out into the sea, or rather, a dry canal that sometimes has water in it during the rainiest month of winter (so, the city’s name, which translates as “River-ia” ends up being somewhat misleading). It is a typical, unassuming beach town. Full of small, squarish, white and beige buildings and with a long promenade along the sea (the best kind of promenade where there are never too many people, but still enough ice cream stalls and small cafés to stop at if you’re hungry).

                      Millipedes don’t bite. They’re peaceful bottom feeders that nibble on rotting matter (and have an adorable habit of curling up into a perfect spiral and pretending to be dead on the slightest interaction with anything other than they). Scutigerae centipedes also live inside houses and do have a very mild bite, but they never attack humans and are a good natural control of house pests (including roaches and silverfish). They DO look very creepy though.

                      I wish I had some solution for the going outside thing. The truth is, most urban environments are pretty naff. I mostly just go out for groceries, which has a nice ritual quality to it. Going anywhere else in Haifa inevitably requires taking the bus, which implies waiting and often ends up feeling like it wasn’t worth it. Anyone who’d be fun to take for a walk lives down in Jerusalem or even further south, and going there often is too much hassle. The only option for socialising in Haifa is the nightlife, and that eats too much money and time. These days I see people about once/twice a month (there’s also Skype, but with everyone’s schedules being what they are, those conversations happen about as often).
                      Life turns us all slowly into anchorites, doesn’t it? At least we don’t live on a pillar in the middle of the desert.

                      You should get a cushion for that chair.

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                    4. I’d say it never ceases to amaze me, the depths to which people sink in their need to see other people as less than human (as though being alive, but not human, justifies ill treatment), but it hasn’t surprised me in a long, long time. As far as prisons go, I’d say we’ll always need somewhere to keep our murderers, but there’s no need for those places to be violent or inhumane. Solving the overcrowding problem would help with that, and non-custodial punishments for non-violent offenders would be a start. Like, take a Bernie Madoff type and force him to do charity work, helping the poor rebuild their finances. Take a person who registered his child in the wrong school district (and how is that a crime?) and make him volunteer at the school he…stole education from? (“Stole” education. How wrong does that sound?)

                      Ice cream stalls on the beach…ah, the most painful of nostalgia. I hate looking back on good times and realising even if I went to the beach, I couldn’t have them again. Unless they had, like…non-dairy ice cream. I didn’t realise that you become lactose intolerant if you stop drinking milk, but apparently, you do. Or I did.

                      Now, why did I think millipedes bite? Maybe I DID mix them up with centipedes. You know, I haven’t seen a single silverfish since I moved. At my old place, they were EVERYWHERE, always getting in bed with me, invading boxes of paper and shitting all over them. Man, I hate those things. I’m so glad they didn’t follow me over. I thought they might, but they didn’t. Stroke of luck, there.

                      That’s exactly it, with going outside. I know I SHOULD, so I don’t get all, y’know…hermitish. But there’s just not much out there for me. I don’t know many people, and those I DO know come to see me. I guess I could go to the Dollarama. But, really, what would I do there? Buy junk? Take “People of Walmart”-style photos like an arsehole? Doesn’t appeal, somehow. I could take a picture from directly beneath the ladder, but again…why? I suppose I’m an anchorite already, minus the religion.

                      And, yes. I will get a cushion for that chair. It’s one of those, ah…not an Aeron, but the same company…Herman Miller…Sayl, I think. With the mesh back. I could probably tie a cushion on there easily enough.

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                    5. Irredeemably violent people should definitely be confined, but I would argue that they should have access to media/the internet and decent living conditions. Solitary confinement with minimal human contact is actually a fairly severe form of torture. And I want to live in a society that is more invested in prevention than “getting back at” the criminal (even if their crimes are really horrible). And yes, things like stealing or counterfeiting should just be punished with community service. That would be fair.

                      Sorry for bringing up painful nostalgia. You know what you could get though? One of those fruit ice slushie things, you usually have a choice to have them based on water instead of milk (there’s a stand at the nearest mall that has something like 15 different fruit varieties that you can choose in any combination you want).

                      On second thought, you’re probably being too harsh on yourself in viewing things in terms of “giving up”. If most of the world becomes stressful and boring, then retreating to a small, cozy corner of your own is the right thing to do. There’s that unspoken assumption in many people that life should be about struggle and achievements, a life made of “shoulds” (my grandmother is like that, her trademark phrase is “a man ought to be healthy/industrious/wholesome et cetera”… En fait it translates to a suffocating lifestyle where any trace of spontaneity has been wholly eradicated). Life is made to be enjoyed. You have your own space and do something fairly interesting for a living (instead of boring office drudgery). That, in all books is a definite victory (maybe not a big one, but “life is made of small victories” e.t.c).

                      I liked the woman in the flowy dress, you don’t see something like that here a lot, people prefer to either go for “businesslike” or “casual” at the expense of “elegant” (not many polite older gentlemen casually striking up conversations with random people in the street either, for that matter). People watching is probably the one fun thing you can do in places like your street. You’re lucky though, you have a balcony from which it can be done even better, no need to go out into the street for that (less chances for those awkward moments when you lock eyes with the people passing you by, unless they look up and see you staring at them from above, then maybe it’s even more awkward… 😶).

                      Thank you for creeping me out with the earmouse (I like it).

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                    6. Well, of course. Nobody should be isolated in miserable conditions. That’s inhumane. Even people who can’t socialise with other prisoners without becoming violent should be allowed some kind of monitored contact with people. Even if it’s only playing an online game with a co-operative element, where speech is through stock phrases/emotes. Like, a horrible Nazi murderer, you wouldn’t want him on the Internet spreading Nazi shit, but he can’t do much harm playing an online game that allows co-operative battles and limited communication. Or, y’know, he could talk to other prisoners through a fence. But few people are THAT incorrigibly vicious, especially when their needs are being met.

                      I do love a good fruit ice, now that you mention it. Especially the ones that come with little fruit pieces right in them. Those are delicious. I like the strawberry kind…the seeds add a bit of texture. They’re murder on my teeth, of course, but I don’t mind a little tooth pain for the refreshment of fruit ice on a hot day.

                      To an extent, you’re right: if you haven’t much to do outside, if other people are bothersome and frightening, why NOT hide away? But I was also supposed to get an echocardiogram to rule out Marfan’s syndrome (or rule it in, I suppose) a few years ago, and I never did, because I’d have had to get in a car, go over a bridge, wait in a room full of sick people, then lie down in a vulnerable position and let a doctor rub a THING on my chest for…what, twenty minutes? Anyway, that would’ve been five things I’m afraid of, all in one trip, and I couldn’t bring myself to do it. So I don’t know how healthy my heart is. That’s not good. When things get to that point, it’s time to start easing back into outdoor life. Even moving to my new place was a frightening experience, and it was just twenty minutes in the back of one of those wheelchair cabs. And my mother was there, which you’d think would’ve made it better, but in fact it made it worse, an extra witness to my weirdness and fear. (I didn’t do anything weird, though. I just sat there and waited.)

                      I liked the woman in the flowy dress, too. I went on Google to see if I could find the dress, or any of her ensemble, but I couldn’t. It didn’t look like anything people wear in Vancouver. She looked sort of Mediterranean, but you say people don’t dress that way in Israel. Maybe Italy. They’re all about fashion there. But I never saw anyone quite so elegant in Italy, either, except at La Scala. Ah, I suppose I’ll never know. What do I need with an outfit like that, anyway? I have plenty of nice clothes. (But I rarely buy long dresses, as they usually seem to be made for women much taller than myself, and I end up tripping over the hems. I’m not even that short, at 5ft6. How tall ARE models, these days?)

                      Glad you enjoyed the earmouse. Those are a real thing, you know. When people get their ears ripped off, doctors grow new ones on the backs of mice, then they take them off the mice and sew them to people’s heads. I don’t suppose the mice survive the process. Well, maybe they do. COULD you remove something that large, and cut off its blood supply, without killing the host organism? I don’t know. Well, probably. People lose their legs and survive. I suppose an earmouse might live. If they bothered to save it.

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                    7. I like the idea of setting up fun little quests to help acclimatise to the outside. And a pool noodle is indeed a worthy trophy, especially since trophies are supposed to be useless (that’s their whole point*). Influenced by your crested dove drawing, I’d say that the colour of the pool noodle should be turquoise, but if they don’t have any, then the obvious answer is orange, it’s your colour.

                      *that’s not entirely true though, you could carry the pool noodle around with you and strategically position it to perfectly block out the ladder anytime you’d want to sit down

                      I know earmice are real because I remember seeing a photo of one in an article (not an image you forget), it was ages ago and the article was in fact about the first ever instance of growing a human ear on mice, I had no idea there was a medical use for it though, I thought it was a bizarre one off experiment (the article might have presented it this way… What we need to develop is a large inchoate mass of stem cells that can grow any organ on prompt… Creepy? Very. Morally responsible? You bet). Your earmouse is definitely one that escaped the labs though, it won’t be harvested, it will go on to have a fulfilling earmouse life.

                      Actually, now that I think about it some Jerusalem hippies may dress like that, either them, or the very wealthy. Most of the women who wear long dresses here though, are religious, Jewish or Muslim. The dresses are grey and plain, and are supposed to be “modest”, but usually just project a kind of very severe elegance.

                      Back in highschool, when we did “The Merchant of Venice”, the girls playing the female leads just engineered long dresses out of sheets of colourful fabric and gauzy scarves as sashes to hold them around the waist. You could try something like that, it looked surprisingly durable (in the sense of not-falling-apart) and good.

                      Today has been slightly better than “meh”. I did some math, I did some drawing, I figured out how long exactly to cook eggs to get that perfect gooey yet almost solid yolk (like in eggs benedict), went for a walk, got judgmentally stared at by cats (they sit around the building like tiny guardian sphinxes and stare at you as if their eyes emit biological disinfectant rays). If today was an animal it would be a badger, solid, dependable, 7/10 kind of thing.

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                    8. Now, to actually accomplish said quest. I stared at the Dollarama from my balcony for quite a while, today, but failed to summon the courage to go downstairs. Well, I suppose there’s no time limit on my quest, though it would make sense to do it before summer’s end. I can’t see any turquoise noodles from where I’m sitting, but there are certainly orange ones, a whole lot of orange ones. I could get one of those.

                      I think we ARE now at the stage where we can grow organs without a live host, or close to it. I’m sure I’ve seen skin being grown independent of a body or blood supply. Or maybe that was something I read in a sci-fi story. I THINK it’s real, though, or close to being real. I’m not sure whether they still do earmice, or whether those were more of a proof of concept, sort of thing. They certainly don’t seem the most humane of inventions. It would be a sad life, scuttling around for a few weeks with a heavy mass on your back, only to be slaughtered so some other creature could have an ear. I mean, I guess you wouldn’t be aware of your destiny, but you’d know SOMETHING was wrong. How could you not?

                      The dress I saw certainly wasn’t modest. I mean, it didn’t show any flesh, but it very much showed the wealth of its wearer. That, I should say, is a more vulgar display than a bit of cleavage, not that I wouldn’t wear it myself. I’m not above the odd vulgar display. Especially coupled with the diaphanous coat and the gold hairpin, that dress practically screamed “I have money.” I liked it because it was beautiful, though, and because I hadn’t seen one like it before. It’s good having clothes that everyone else isn’t wearing. Most of mine are pretty run-of-the-mill.

                      If my day were an animal, well, I’d say today has been a sloth. I was plagued with heartburn in the night, so much so that I woke up several times, and then I didn’t want to wake up in the morning. I stayed in bed as long as I possibly could, and I’ve been slugging about all day, dragging through all my tasks like they’d suddenly become impossible to manage. Now, I’m just sitting here, dozy and warm. Definitely a sloth of a day.

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                    9. You’re right. I remember seeing mentions of 3D printed organs out of the corner of my eye, even mentions of the first transplants being performed successfully. I wouldn’t want immortality, but I would want a drastic improvement in quality of life from the medical perspective, better treatments, better anaesthetics, and the right and option for a quick and painless euthanasia in case I’d either become too ill or too addled to enjoy life (this, ironically enough, is something I suspect the very rich have already access to, but if you’re poor, you’re expected to hang on no matter how bad it gets).

                      Ha, I like the shoe scale of coolness*. Bob Ross’ official website, by the way, hasn’t got any galleries of his original paintings (or prints), but it does have a prominent “Wellness and ASMR” section.

                      *for some reason, whenever I type “rgdoubleghost” my brain automatically brings up “rgtripleghost” and “rgquadrupleghost”… They have a fascinatingly awkward sound to them (and the implication that Ratty’s Ghost can live forever, ad infinitum…).

                      You know, who you are into is the kind of gossipy thing people tend to casually remember indefinitely, even without meaning to gossip about it, but you could ask your friends to abet you in maintaining the closet.

                      The dozy and warm bit of your day sounds good, the only bit that sounds good. Here’s a neat photo of a red flower to make up for all the doldrums (because you like red, and sunny weather): njnasekin.wordpress.com/2019/06/25/13/
                      Hope today’s better.

                      Would going outside with someone make it easier to get used to it (or just defeat the purpose of doing it alone)?

                      And why did you snip off that poor dog’s tail? That was totally undeserved.

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                    10. Ah, the dog’s tail. Well, my right arm’s been sore, since I dislocated it in my sleep. I’ve run out of stockpiled blog doodles, and it’s currently too uncomfortable to make more, so I’ve been using some older doodles I did on a game called Drawception. That’s an online game where you get 5 or 10 minutes to doodle something Post-It sized to match a text prompt, then the next person writes what they think your drawing is, and the person after that draws it again, and then at the end, you get to see how well the original phrase survived. The prompt I was responding to there was “amazing detail,” so I drew a dog being amazed by the removal of its tail.

                      Going out with someone makes it both easier AND more difficult. Easier in a physical sense, because that person can push my wheelchair. More difficult in a terror sense, because with the addition of a friend, I become self-conscious, knowing I might embarrass myself. I behave oddly when startled. I claw at my eyes and (very occasionally) make an “eeee” noise. Nobody should associate me with that sort of nonsense. I mean, I suppose now you DO, as I’ve gone and confessed to it, but it’s one thing to know it’s a possibility and quite another to see it. My mother, for example, gets this look of contempt on her face, and for sins far less severe—if I groan when I sit down, if I can’t eat my dinner, if I disappoint her in any way…. I don’t like to disappoint people.

                      Thanks for the red flower. What kind is that? I’ve been thinking of getting some for my balcony, in hopes of attracting hummingbirds. A friend of mine has been posting the most brilliant bird shots on Facebook, and I’m absolutely green. It’s been ages since I’ve got close enough to a bird to get anything resembling a decent shot. Plus, the birds were like company, wee visitors I could count on.

                      I suppose there’s not much point in trying to maintain the illusion of the closet, if people will just remember anyway. It’s that sense of being looked at differently that’s annoying, not the prospect of gossip. Ah, well. I don’t suppose it matters, either way. People still have their prejudices, whether they turn them on you or not. Not noticing doesn’t mean they aren’t there.

                      RG Quadruple Ghost…ha, ha, ha! Well, that’s one way of living forever.

                      Better ageing, I can get behind. I’d support any technology that would let us keep our wits longer and enjoy comfort in our declining years—anything that’d let us maintain our independence and dignity till the end. That’s absolutely fine, as long as we don’t edit out the end. There has to be some natural wind-down, some upper limit to our longevity. Not all animals seem to age as badly as we do, even in captivity, where they’re vastly outliving their natural lifespans. A twenty-year-old robin has outlived its wild counterparts by a good eighteen years, but it still pecks and preens, though it’s grown a bit threadbare. It still flies from perch to perch, till one day, it’s just done. (Assuming nothing else carries it off.) Human beings, though, we seem to get more helpless than most elderly animals. Maybe because we’re more complex. Maybe because we put more effort into keeping each other going once something’s gone wrong. We’re social animals—we take care of our elderly, so maybe we never evolved graceful ageing, or it’s being bred out of us. (Or maybe I just don’t know what to look for in an old bird, say. Maybe that twenty-year-old robin’s riddled with bird Alzheimer’s, and if you put it outside, it’d get hopelessly lost.)

                      I just don’t want infiniTrump. Ha, ha.

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                    11. Now that you mention Drawception, I’m pretty sure I’ve played it, back when I was stuck at nightshifts at the hotel reception job. Pretty sure nobody guessed “amazing detail” from your drawing (my guess would’ve been “tail-stration anxiety”, because maybe, the tail hasn’t been really removed and the dog just entertains a worried thought, the diagrammatic nature of the drawing hints at that).

                      I can’t think of any reaction to a panic attack (any overwhelming thing, really) that doesn’t look embarrassing. Besides, you won’t be able to disappoint me, partly because (unlike your mother) I’m lazy and have no standards (so refusing to eat, being ostentatiously tired, and other such sins of decorum are part of how life is supposed to be lived – in sin😈), and partly because I know what panic feels like (and there are no embarrassing responses to that). So, uh… If there’s no one else, and if you’ll have me, I’d volunteer to be your “emotional support possum” (I won’t bite annoying and obnoxious people though, at least, not literally)*.

                      *This is, sort of, a serious offer. I wouldn’t want to intrude on your hermiting away if that’s what you’re most comfortable with, but I want you to know that it’s “on the table”. No one has to do that shit alone.

                      In the department of self-reliance though, have you considered getting a motorised wheelchair? The sort you can zoom around in if you wished, or is it too cumbersome/expensive? My father has one. He gets around quite a bit.

                      The flower is chinese hibiscus. Overhere, it attracts sunbirds, so it probably would work as hummingbird bait too (that’s a good flower criteria, by the way, hummingbird appeal).

                      The opinion of people who judge you for who you’re sleeping with doesn’t count for much (unless you’re a pedophile or a sex offender). Prejudices, ah… Should be noted but not validated. That’s the way I’d put it.

                      That’s what I’d assume, that in the wild, once you’re beginning to slip even a bit, you don’t survive for long. Dogs and cats, sometimes lose their mental sharpness with age, you can see the reaction to their name being delayed, they play less, withdraw into themselves. Just like humans. Birds though… This must be the advantage of having a birdbrain, it doesn’t wear with age.

                      infiniTrump is a big no.

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                    12. You know, I’m not sure WHAT followed “amazing detail,” but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t that. Oh, wait. Actually, I do remember. It was something like “Socar’s dog gets its tail cut off.” That was a thing that happened on there. People started to recognise my style, and even draw me (or my avatar, which was sort of a white blobby thing) into posts. It made it a bit embarrassing, and drained some of the fun from it. It’s like, at first you’re just drawing and having a good time, but then people start noticing you and liking what you’re doing, and you have to try harder. Or maybe that’s just me being self-conscious again.

                      You can certainly be my emotional support possum if you’re ever in the area. (Just about died at the mention of the emotional support possum, by the way. The more I think about that, the more ludicrous it becomes in my brain.) I mean, I wouldn’t be able to show you around Vancouver, or anything, but I could probably let you take me outside, at least briefly. My response to panic isn’t ALWAYS terribly extreme, by the way. Usually, it’s dead silence. I only move or make noises if I absolutely can’t take it any more.

                      In truth, I dislike being a full-time hermit. I can’t stand having someone else present 24/7, which makes it difficult when Mother visits—she insists upon staying in my home, even when I offer to pay for a hotel room. She takes it as a personal affront that I’d ask, but I like to be left alone when I’m tired or not feeling well. (Really, who doesn’t?) But I like having company when I’m up to it.

                      I’ve considered an electric wheelchair, but I can’t justify the expense. Those, I believe, are more for people who can’t walk, and I can. Indeed, I try to walk as much as possible. The other thing that sucks about electric wheelchairs is that they’re heavier than the ordinary kind, and I’m not sure you can fold them. Mine weighs so little I can lift it unaided, and I can fit it in my front closet. That’s the main reason I got rid of my old one, the clunkiness. It didn’t fit ANYWHERE, and I certainly couldn’t lift it.

                      Hummingbirds like red, for some reason. I think most red flowers might attract them, but only nectar-rich ones would hold their attention. I might get flowers AND a feeder, so they can try the flowers, but if those are empty, they won’t go away hungry.

                      I had a parrot once that was very elderly, somewhere north of fifty. He wasn’t MY parrot, exactly. I used to take care of abandoned birds till homes could be found for them, and this fellow was one of those. He’d picked himself almost bare, no feathers from the neck down, but he was very curious. Very bright. Not at first, I mean. He was frightened of me, and just sat there. But once he’d figured out he could come out of his cage, he started walking over and sitting in my lap. I think he liked the warmth, having no feathers and all. He’d sit in my lap and look at what I was doing on the computer, and he’d “comment” when I switched tasks. He liked games, with the music and bright colours, and he’d do cheerful sounds for those. He didn’t like my word processor. He’d yell at that, sometimes jump off my lap. He was sort of OK with the Internet, as long as there were pictures. I liked that parrot. I’d have kept him forever, but someone else wanted him. If I could age like that parrot, I’d be happy. Yes, even if I went bald. Ha, ha, ha.

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                    13. That’s the price of fame. It’s like that thing where talking to complete strangers is easier than talking to close friends and family, because they don’t expect anything from you, and there’s no need to conform to any pre-existing notions of who you are.

                      Somehow, possums make for a really incongruous yet fitting “patron animal” of stress (they do look constantly stressed themselves after all). I don’t mind not getting shown around Vancouver, although I do wish we could hang out, and go on hikes, and have our little adventures. But you know what, I could bring some interesting Israeli food, or you could order something that I’ve never tried. We could have a culinary adventure.

                      The idea, by the way, is that if you’re going into a stressful situation with someone who’s calm and is ready to help you back out and “abort the mission” the moment you’d ask them to, then you regain a sense of control over the situation, and the stress lessens.

                      Had a fairly crappy day again, nothing awful, just stifling heat and own laziness getting the upper hand. Slept too much, accomplished almost nothing, brain feeling like warm tofu. Now it’s morning and today I’ve promised to go down to Jerusalem and see a friend who’s leaving for Russia for a while. We’ll probably go down to the market for a cup of coffee, I won’t get much done, again, but it will fun. The Jerusalem market is this maze like place dotted with tiny baristas and pubs, always crowded, always noisy. Not as polished as the city centre, but infinitely more friendly.

                      I’d like to preserve my curiosity too, when I get old. I always wonder what animals see when looking into human “concept spaces”, like when cats or dogs watch TV. Do the little psychological tricks of the pace at which a scene is edited or the mood of the soundtrack affect them too, at some subliminal level? Music is really a hardwired biological language, after all, much more primal than speech. I wish you didn’t have to give that parrot away, that sounded like a perfect existence for an elderly bird.

                      Loneliness sucks, and life is awful. I drew you another possum: imgur.com/a/umuojge

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                    14. Thank you for the possum. That has to be the most relaxed-looking possum I’ve ever seen. They DO have that stressed look about them, don’t they? I think it’s their patchy fur and their naked snouts, and they way they look like they’re screaming when they open their mouths. You know, it’s all people in cages on the Internet today, wall-to-wall human suffering, and I can’t do a bloody thing about it. It’s awful, that helplessness, watching a trainwreck in progress and you can’t divert the tracks. So. Yes. I needed a possum. A reminder we’re not all monsters.

                      You know, I read something interesting about dogs watching the telly. I read that their eyes process moving pictures differently than ours do. They pick up on far more frames per second, so the idea was, a dog watching TV wouldn’t see a moving picture. It would see a series of stills. Its brain might be able to fill in the gaps and understand the narrative, much as ours does when we watch a crappy animation, but we can’t assume that. I have no idea what birds might see, but that particular one seemed to enjoy colour. And music. Can birds even see colour? I’d presume so, as their eyesight’s so important to them. Ah, I do miss that parrot. I miss having SOMETHING around. I thought of getting a parakeet, but I’d never hear the end of it from my mother.

                      That’s the other thing with my mother, by the way: I can’t quite trust her to help me, if I get into a situation I don’t like. This one time, she took me outside, and I wanted to go back in, and she kept the keys in her pocket and kept trying to persuade me to stay out five more minutes. The more she did that, the more I wanted those keys, till they were all I could think about. That’s the worst part of fear. Time becomes irrelevant. Your current situation feels like FOREVER. You’ve always been frightened. You’ll always BE frightened. “Five minutes”—she might as well have said “just another five hundred years.” It would’ve meant about as much to me. I kicked the wall with my feet (I was sitting on the…ah, the edge of a concrete planter). Mother looked at me like I’d lost my mind. I was offended and annoyed (and still frightened). I hated that.

                      I presume you wouldn’t do that to me. Ha, ha.

                      I only wish I could go hiking, and you never know. Maybe one day I will. Vancouver IS a great spot for it. I bet I know some folks here you could go with, should you be in town. That way, you wouldn’t be stuck with ALL indoor stuff. But I do like the idea of Israeli food. Nothing perishable, of course—that’s a long trip. Ha, ha. But, yes, that could be fun. And I could get you some food from my favourite restaurant, which claims to be Israeli, and you could tell me if it really is. (It’s the one that has the “Israeli salad” and the vegan shawarma, which is bad. Don’t order that.)

                      The whole no expectations thing, by the way, is an unexpected benefit of bringing my blog back after several years off. Very few people remember the original. No-one really knows who I am. I mean, sure, they could look at my Facebook, but I don’t say much over there. Not much of a personal nature, anyway. It’s like…a fresh lease on anonymity. I can say whatever I want, knowing the audience is tiny.

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                    15. I’m afraid it’s not even ill-will, just apathy and a kind of myopia… People look at someone who looks a bit shabbier than them and their empathy switches off. That’s scarier than hate, in a way. Loathing someone is a twisted form of empathy, you compulsively think about them, you exult in their suffering, and if you have just a tiny shred of self awareness all of that schadenfreude can turn into genuine sympathy*. When you’re dealing with a cold, rigid system that runs utility and profit though, and if you integrate into it, it suddenly doesn’t matter who you hurt. I think Democrats have trouble winning because they’re enmeshed in that very same system, still paying lip service to suits, and ties, and “respectability” and all that these things represent. Republicans swim in it.

                      *a lot of is just who you focus on thinking about, the jingoistic “us vs. them” sentiment is so dangerous precisely because it’s all “us, us, us”… “They” are bastards only insomuch as it makes “us” look good, “they” are bastards so that “we” can look good (and that’s why “they” don’t matter and can be done away with).

                      Now that you mention it, I think I’ve read that article about dogs too. I would’ve assumed that they may see the TV as just another window (cats? cats are simple, they see a moving thing, they assume it’s something they can catch… I think I’ve read somewhere that their eyesight is pretty blurry, their world is probably more “kinetic” than “visual”, if it makes any sense). I like that the parrot was annoyed with the word processor. Blank boring space? Incomprehensible symbols? I know exactly how he felt (thanks, math class). Why is your mother opposed to you getting pets?

                      People who never felt panic have no concept of what it feels like. They just have this idea that something is wrong with you and that they can “fix” you, as if it was the matter of flipping a switch. We don’t have to go outside. Compulsion is the pits.

                      A cursory search showed at least one hostel that is reasonably cheap, so you don’t need to worry about me occupying your space. I have no idea what food will be interesting to bring, by the way, maybe you already have everything you could get here (and more). Supermarket hummus is so loaded with preservatives as to be literally imperishable (because it’s barely edible), but I won’t be bringing that, that’s for sure.

                      There’s a vegan shawarma place in Jerusalem, maybe I’ll try it today (for research purposes).

                      Typing on the phone is really slow, despite the auto-suggestion feature (which, for some reason, suggests words I’ve only used once, like “latrine”… Who needs that in everyday conversation? And now I’ve used it again, so it will never let go of it).

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                    16. You know, that lady I mentioned today, the one standing in the cage with her daughter in her arms, didn’t look any shabbier than I do. Not even a tiny bit. In fact, she looked better. Her clothes were tidier. Her hair looked like someone had cut it for her—like, a professional. Her look was neat, if boring. She really did look like ANYONE. You could’ve stripped the cage away and dropped a Starbucks in the background, and she wouldn’t have looked out of place. Obviously, they’re all people, they’re all human, but looking at her in particular…she was so ordinary, just a mother with her child. The sort of person you pass every day, and maybe you nod, or maybe you don’t notice her at all. Looking at a picture like that, you’d think people would start to understand how very, very easily the same thing could happen to them. How fortunate they are, that it hasn’t.

                      I saw another awful thing today, too, a bunch of folks angry at the idea of free education. Like, seriously, who WOULDN’T want to give young people the best start in life? Who WOULDN’T want their kids to have it easier than they did? There was a lot of “I lived in grinding poverty for thirty years, paying MY student loans. It’s not FAIR if everyone else doesn’t suffer the same.” And all I could think was, shit. What the fuck’s wrong with you? You suffer through thirty years of crippling debt. You’re fifty years old and nowhere near owning a home. You live hand-to-mouth. Why would you EVER want that for anyone else? That’d be like…that’d be like me wanting everyone to have a mouthful of broken teeth. (Then, there were a few people who DID have money, blustering about how they’d worked HARD for what they had, so why should they have to share? And, again, Jesus fuck. Sharing is the best part of having everything you want. It’s like, hey! I have SO MUCH I can give some away! Talk about a sense of achievement, pride, excitement! Not much can beat that.)

                      I’m not saying I’m never selfish, of course. I can be terribly selfish. Everyone can. But there’s petty selfishness and there’s egregious selfishness, the sort of thinking that lets you sit sipping tea while the SS goosesteps by.

                      Ha. I’m having one of those angry days.

                      My mother doesn’t like me getting pets because they make me ill. Their dander interferes with my breathing, and I wheeze and I suffer. It’s not so bad with pocket pets. Rats were fine for a long time. I used to get those hairless rats, and they were better. Birds, though, are especially dusty, and not good at all. Still. Maybe a SMALL bird, or a dustless variety….

                      I’m not sure it’s possible to get through life without experiencing panic, without knowing what it feels like. I mean, even my mother understands it. I know this because once, I was really mad at her, so I stuck a rat to her back. She was terrified of rats, and she went dancing around screaming “Get it off! Get it off!” (Obviously, she got over her fear, as she became quite fond of my rats, and even had her own. But this was when she was new to rats, and I was a little arsehole.)

                      Ha. Maybe that was vengeance, with the keys. (Or maybe she really thought it would help. Getting close to rats DID help her stop being afraid of them. But getting trapped in places I don’t like only makes me MORE afraid of getting trapped anywhere.)

                      Don’t get me wrong. I WANT to go outside. I love the outdoors. If I could only get used to it again, I’d love to go to the seashore, maybe travel again. It’s just, at this moment, my fear of nearly everything out there conflicts with my enjoyment of the environment. Bit of a quandary, that.

                      Ah, yes, I think Vancouver has some lovely hostels, and even some regular hotels that are reasonably-priced, if you’d rather not share space with potentially unhygienic travellers. (I mean, not in the sense that poor travellers are unhygienic. I don’t think that. I meant it in the sense that people in hostels tend to be doing a LOT of travelling, and planes and trains and buses are notorious hotbeds of disease. Especially respiratory infections.) I WOULD invite you to stay, but you’ve seen my place. There’s really just room for one person. It gets a bit awkward, squeezing in, especially with someone you don’t know all that well. Nobody likes THAT on a visit to a foreign country.

                      As far as food goes, I can’t really eat anything spicy, thanks to the hated heartburn, but most of what I eat here is Greek food or fruit and vegetables. So anything that’s not, y’know, a plate of rice and veg, has the chance of impressing me. Really, you don’t have to show me something I’ve never seen before, though. I’d be more interested in seeing what you think represents Israel, or represents good food. Or something strange and Soviet. Ha, ha. (Not mayonnaise!)

                      You know, ages and ages ago, when I got my very first iPod, I included the complete non-word “cuntyballsinousness” in a tweet. My current iPhone still suggests it, nearly every time I type in “cu.” I only ever said it once! Non-words I actually want, though, like “packbawky” or “Drumpf,” it always changes to, like, “pantaloons” and “Dump.”

                      Fucking autocorrect.

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                    17. You know, you’re much more civil than me. When I hear things like “why don’t they just go back home” I’m sorely tempted to be rude and say something like “why don’t you get off the planet”. That’s why I try not to get into political arguments. What gets me, what really gets me, is the lack of self awareness. I understand where resentment comes from, that unpleasant little need for a convenient scapegoat for all your frustrations, someone who’s responsible. What I don’t understand is how many people don’t see it for what it is, and even lovingly garden it until it grows and grows and gets ever uglier (actually maybe I do understand, anger at racism and scapegoating is perilously close to scapegoating itself, but still).

                      Apropos politics, a snippet of conversation from yesterday… “Smotrich is just a troll to be ignored.” “You keep saying that until he comes to cut your penis off…” “No, I mean, he’s a literal troll, the sort that hides under bridges and eats children, and turns to stone in the sunlight.” (Smotrich is like an unholy combination of Trump and Pence, ultra religious dudebro who tweets openly racist and incendiary crap, and he’s currently the Israeli minister of transportation, which should tell you everything you need to know about this government).

                      You could try getting one of those hairless cats. I’ve heard they’re friendlier and cuddlier than regular cats as well (they still have dandruff, although it might be manageable with regular bathing).

                      By panic I mean specifically the kind that arrives out of nowhere in a situation that would otherwise be normal. Me, I get that same trapped feeling in high and narrow places, it quickly resolves into an intense urge to either press myself into the ground and freeze, or jump off the ledge (the “call of the void”). Worst offenders in everyday life are long escalators in tubes (like in subways), where you have that long vertiginous perspective in front of you (my Moscow friends have ample opportunity to make fun at me for that… there, travelling by the subway is a way of life, and the escalators are extra long). And the really annoying thing is that it’s not constant, sometimes I handle heights relatively fine, but any amount of subliminal stress about something else suddenly triggers it.

                      After travelling in third class trains in India, and staying at some very interesting hotels and dormitories (including one truly memorable night on a schooltrip that combined bedbugs and food poisoning*), I don’t think there would be much to fear from hostels in Canada (I’d imagine them to be like hostels in Tel Aviv, which are very nice… There’s one right at the beachfront).

                      *The worst though, the worst could’ve been the night after that, when we got to Chennai and they tried to make us stay at this abandoned looking place with rust and dripping pipes and awful prison style beds (all because it was free, the place with the bedbugs was free too…)… And then, someone discovered old, crusty cum stains on the mattresses. We rebelled. We didn’t sleep there. We forced the school to pay for us and let us stay at a decent hotel (even with an outing to a charming, impossibly cheesy, pseudo-American style diner… The sort of place with licence plates from different states decorating the walls, and an impossibly creepy statue of Elvis). It was also the only Indian city where we got lost on the streets at night, five people, separated from the rest (we wandered for hours and we weren’t mugged or mauled by wild dogs). Chennai sun is brutal though, worst sunburn ever.

                      I’ll keep the thing about spicy food in mind. For Russian things, I could bring a bottle of kvass and we could make that soup (it’s good even without the addition of mustard and horseradish).

                      The bathtub photo is a good representation of feeling trapped. It really is too small.

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                    18. Oh, I’m not THAT civil. My first response, which I obviously didn’t post, was “why don’t you fuck off, you unbelievable wankstain?”. What I SHOULD’VE said was “even assuming you’re right, and every one of these people is free to go home, and has a home to go back to, does that justify inhumane treatment? If you believe it does, don’t bother responding: your opinion is garbage, and you are too.” These people, man, Internet trolls, they always try to get you to debate them on facts (or “facts,” in this case) that have no bearing on the point. There’s NO excuse for piling people up on concrete floors and letting them die of dehydration. Just, none.

                      I’ve been trying not to fall for it, lately, but sometimes people are just SO fucking wrong. It’s hard to resist pointing out all their nonsense.

                      I wouldn’t say anger towards racism, cruelty, inequality, and so on, amounts to scapegoating, UNLESS you place the blame on people like, well, that dude in the comments. People like that, they’re just not so fortunate. It’s not their fault the world’s set up the way it is. A lot of them probably never had a chance to see it any other way. If anything, people like me are the worst problem, middle-class drones who buy into the system and actively preserve it—people who don’t vote, or vote for the status quo; ones who don’t speak, don’t agitate for change. (I’m not saying I personally don’t vote. I do. I do my best to put my money where my mouth is. But my demographic is certainly a problem.)

                      Our Smotrich is called Doug Ford. He’s a rotten dead fish smelling up Ontario, and the brother of Toronto’s former “crack mayor,” whom I once believed to be the absolute nadir of Canadian politics, at least when it comes to sheer foolishness. When I say “crack mayor,” I DO mean crack, as in the drug. He was caught smoking crack while in office. (Or I THINK it was while he was in office.) Anyway, he died, and maybe Doug will follow soon.

                      You know, I’ve got a friend who has those hairless cats. They’re cute, and all, but cats are notorious vomiters, and I don’t like the idea of cleaning up cat puke. Plus, there’s the whole litterbox angle, and toxoplasmosis. Cats are just too gross for me, I think. I’m not sure why people like them so much. Maybe they have some redeeming quality I’ve yet to observe.

                      By the way, you are braver than I am, riding the subway. We have the Skytrain here, which is the above-ground equivalent. My mother absolutely LOVES it, and says it’s the cleanest and best train system she’s seen anywhere in the world. I hate it, and would rather walk than get on it. I don’t like when the trains go over bridges, and when you look out the window you can’t SEE the bridges, so it feels like you’re flying through the air. DO NOT WANT.

                      Hostels in Canada are generally good. You DO have to watch out for bedbugs, but that goes for hotels, as well. Some of the most expensive hotels in Vancouver have had infestations. It’s just something that happens when lots of people are sleeping in one place. There shouldn’t be anything nasty on the mattresses, though, or anything that would stand out as dirty or unpleasant.

                      I like the soup idea, by the way. That sounds good to me. I checked to see if any restaurants had it here, but there’s like ONE Ukrainian place that delivers, and all they have is a “soup of the day,” which is one of those “order and hope” deals—you have no idea what it’s going to be, and it MIGHT be fish. Ha, ha. I don’t like that kind of risk.

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