Psychological Torture for Fun and Profit

slightly crazy



I just finished a serious of articles for a client on how parents can communicate effectively with their teenagers. It was fun and inspiring, the client was extremely pleased. And it was very satisfying to be able to bring so much of what I’ve learned in the last year about emotional intelligence and human interaction into a work of non-fiction that will go on to actually be used in the real world to achieve something. And to get paid for it (and tipped!).

But damn if I’m not as sick as hell about writing about nurturing and caring and building empathy. Yes, yes, I love and respect and espouse all of that, blah blah blah. But I feel like everyone neuron in my brain has been soaked in feel-juice to the point of supersaturation and bursting.

Right now, I really want to write an e-book called Psychological Torture for Fun and Profit, and thus hurl it out into the universe. That’s what I want to do.

On the plus side, apparently my solution to too much writing is that I immediately go and write about how I want to do more writing. Evil writing, but still writing.

Maybe…I’m moving in the right direction with this whole writing thing. Just maybe.



bright red hair_mirror

“It’s because he’s thorough.”

That’s what she says. The down-to-earth red haired nurse with the great sense of humor. We got to the appointment 20 minutes early, and they took us in for the x-ray right away. They always seem to do that. That’s why they are my favorites, even though their co-pay is three times as expensive as any other department.

It is 8:41 in the morning. That’s a good two hours before I usually open my eyes, let alone achieve higher brain function. We got here early, because we always do. Because I’m pathologically punctual. And I always assume that mamacat, with her old, injured body, will ambulate more slowly than she actually does. She’s like a turtle, that way.

They shunted us into the x-ray room two minutes after we checked in, 20 minutes before our appointment. They always do. I like to think it’s because every time we check in I make the receptionist laugh. A real laugh, not just the polite, laughter equivalent of talking about the weather. Even at 8:21, my brain several hours and 95 milligrams of caffeine away from advanced cognition, I made her laugh. That’s why she let us in early. I prefer to think that.

It is 8:41 in the morning. The x-ray was already done. It was much faster this time, now that mamacat isn’t in so much pain. Even though this break was new. The second break in a summer defined by fractured bone. Last time was worse. But last time is over. This one is still here. The x-ray is done and the nurse takes us into a room and sat us down. The red-haired nurse. She makes me laugh, even at 8:41 in the morning.

“You’re going to be waiting for awhile,” she says after taking mamacat’s blood pressure and going through the normal checklist. “Dr. Whatley usually runs behind, and he’s still with another patient.”

“That’s fine,” I say. “We’re happy to sit here.” I spoke for mamacat. I often do, because she tires easily and sometime she doesn’t make any sense. I’m never sure whether that should make me feel bad.

“It’s because he’s thorough,” the nurse adds, with the tiniest hint of urgency. “He takes a long time with each patient, because he’s thorough. But you’re going to be waiting for awhile.”

“She told us we’d be waiting,” I say after she leaves, half to a sleepy mamacat and half to myself. “They never do that.”

I find it refreshing. Just like the fact that she didn’t bother with the unnecessary task of ensuring that mamacat’s medicines hadn’t changed, because we had been to her GP just a few days previously. They always do that. I’m never sure if it’s a waste of time or a sign that they are thorough.

But I find it refreshing. And I don’t think it’s just because I like her attitude. And the sound her voice. And the fact that she probably has no idea that she’s beautiful.

Dr. Whatley shows up nearly forty minutes later. Almost a half an hour past the time of our initial appointment. He asks a lot of questions. He carefully prods along mamacat’s newly broken left arm. He dithers back and forth about whether the break need surgery, in a way that could be discouraging but is instead reassuring. Both options are valid. He admits he doesn’t know. Doctors who do that make me happy. He presents us with an array of options. He is there for a long time.

We’ve met so many orthopedists in the last few months. But I think he’s my favorite. Mamacat thinks he’s her favorite. We both agree that he’s thorough.

I believe that, because I saw it. I was there. I saw him methodically inspect the arm and squint with deliberation at the x-ray. I believe he’s thorough because I saw it for myself.

But is that why? Maybe it’s because she told me. The red-haired nurse who I imagine probably keeps her scrubs on when she gets home, because she has a newborn, and she’s going to get dirty anyway. For the same reason she doesn’t wear makeup. Or maybe she changes into new scrubs. Baby scrubs.

Is that why I think that? I read the pauses between words — crawling along in a slow southern drawl — as careful contemplation and analysis. Maybe I would have thought he was dim. Maybe I would have thought his indecision about the surgery was wishy washy. That he lack conviction. Maybe I would have thought he was a time waster, and resented him for making us wait so he could take such long pauses between words.

As I wheeled mamacat out we make a followup appointment. He wants us back in seven to fourteen days. They have an appointment next week, but we don’t take it. We wait the whole two weeks, because that’s the next time Whatley is available. I’m willing to wait. Mamacat is willing to wait. Some things are worth waiting for.

After all, he’s very thorough.




Spring Cleaning is for those allied with the blinding,
intolerant sun
Who believe in angels and pixie dust
and that greeting cards can cure depression

We, who are Autumnborn,
with burnt orange blood sneaking through our craggy veins,
we succumb to the the Autumnal Purge
in that moment when the trees start to choke
and the winds start to shiver
then we begin,
and kill off clutter,
and murder waste as it slumbers,
in a somber frenzy of bloodless sacrifice,
not in defiance of Death
or as affront to Entropy

But in praise of Them.

Temporal Toxicity

Penny retrieved from stomach of a dog

I stopped doing 30 Uncomfortable Days because the universe played a joke on me and put me back into the role of caretaker for an overweight old lady.

It’s funny that if I was mad at her, or in psychological splinters the way I was last time this happened, I wouldn’t have made the overweight comment. Because if I said it maliciously, or as anything other than just a fact, I would have felt bad about it.

Anyway, I’m not doing uncomfortable challenges because they’re too difficult right now. Th word “difficult” there has a different meaning than it did when mamacat had her second accident that caused me to stop my challenges in the first place. I thought I couldn’t handle them psychological and also take care of her. It was true then. But now they are too difficult because I just don’t have time. I’m too busy hauling around an old lady, and too busy writing.

And getting paid for it.

Because that’s actually happening. Weird but true.

Will I go back to uncomfortable challenges? I certainly intended to, as soon as I could. But now I’m not so sure. Not because they were stressful, which they were. And not because they are difficult, which they also were. But because the whole thing worked.

I’ve conquered fear, and now neither vicious conqueror nor plague of demons can stop me.

That last might have been a tiny bit of a gigantic lie. I’m still plenty afraid of too many things. And it’s certainly going to make it difficult to move forward with what I want to do. But I got started. I jumped over the “it’s too scary to do any of this” and out into the jungle full of ravenous, jagged-toothed plants.

I just live there now. Or rather, I live in the badly tended garden full of slightly prickly plants that’s next to the tooth-plant jungle. I’m working on entering the jungle; I just have to practice my machete skills. But at least I finally took the machete of it its packaging.

But the main reason I probably won’t go back to uncomfortable challenges is that now I have a different problem. I’ve started writing professionally and I’m on that path, and I am confident I can keep walking it. For a few hours a day. Between episodes of Friday Night Lights. And all the time on Facebook. And playing Fallen London. And cleaning the house.

Distractions! Much like “fear” it’s a hilariously common and vague problem that’s difficult for a creativity-obsessed guy like me to admit that he has. And just like fear, it’s bloody poisonous. Distractions is a deliberately cute way of talking about this powerful toxin in my psychic bloodstream that is infecting my dreams and making my ambitions fester and rot.

Time management is not something I’m good at. Nor is avoiding distraction. Nor is impulse control, or motivation. Yes, I am much better at these than I used to be. I am also taller, but that does not mean I could pluck an apple off the roof of the Burj Khalifa from the ground without first getting zapped with cosmic rays and getting stretch powers. And I don’t give that any more than a 28% chance of happening in the next few months.

So my next goal is to do that thing I just talked about. What was it? Right, purge myself of the toxin of not-doing-the-stuff-I-should-be-doing. I wish I had some kind of fun little game about it that I could post and use social pressure to force me to stick to it. But everything I’ve thought of would make terribly boring blog posts.

Time management just isn’t a sexy problem, even with a cool supervillainy name like Temporal Toxicity.

I’m open to suggestion.