I attended my local county fair today and noticed among the sewing contest entries that someone had entered a Halloween costume designed to make the wearer look like a Taco Bell hot sauce packet. Yes, among the masterful quilts and well-tailored dresses was a large fleece taco sauce packet. If that brave soul could try to bend that contest to her will, I can do the same with a YouTube video.
Farts can spark a litmus test of the self. By the time we’ve reached adulthood, several epic decisions have been made. Will I be liberal or conservative? Will I prefer an automatic or a manual transmission? Much in the same manner, we decide if we will be among those who relish talking about farts. I am one of those people.
Last week I tweeted that the perceived heat of a fart upon exit is directly proportional to the magnitude of its smell. This is the first tweet I’ve done that has been liked, and I discovered that there are folks who comb Twitter for fart references. It is strange that farts have a fan club of sorts given that they aren’t scarce like other entities who develop a following, such as celebrities. Oddly enough, during the vaudeville era there was a professional farter called Le Pétomane who had the distinction of being a celebrity because he was uniquely flatulent. Fans of Le Pétomane aside, I would guess that no one has camped in line for days for a fart, unless they are exceptionally unlucky.
My willingness to talk farts is akin to the Fat Acceptance movement. Since I have been flatulent since birth, it behooves me to speak of something that happens to me so often. My intolerance to lactose and soy protein collides with my addiction to carbonated drinks to make me a fart powerhouse. I have been called both Motorboat and Bunkerbuster. In my youth, my dad acknowledged my affinity for art and farts by nicknaming me De Butta.
This symphony of farts and fart talk felt apart when I fell in love with my husband. He is not one of those people who would sign up for a symposium on gas. Once I knew I was willing to avoid this subject for his sake, I realized he was The One, and I became part of an Interfart marriage.
I will try to refrain from telling him I devoted this much time to writing about farts, but I doubt I will be able to keep this from him for long. There is room in my brain for just one secret at a time.
Back in the year 2000, my interest in learning to backmask audio collided with “The Second Coming” by William Butler Yeats, and this was the result. With this recording, I began the most important journey of my life. There was a man who heard this and decided to fly 2,000 miles to meet me because he wanted to see the woman who created this recording. That man became my daughter’s father.
It all started with a silly impulse to backmask, a $7 microphone and a collection of free or cheap audio utilities. That is how I became a mother.
Should you feel burdened enough with unrequited love to venture into amorous spellcasting, we suggest that you cast these spells alongside proven strategies in securing a partner. Regardless of the inevitable success of any one of the following spells, don’t abandon surefire tactical maneuvers like:
- Wearing dungarees two sizes too snug,
- Bleaching hair to 10A² Extra Chrome Ash Blond
- tatooing the beloved’s name in hieroglyphics on the sole of your left foot
Warning: These spells are contraindicated for those who play the mandolin, listen to Gordon Lightfoot or own a semi-automatic weapon. In a single-blind trial of these spells, 2.5% of spellcasters reported insomnia as a side-effect. 5% reported a doubling of their speaking vocabularies. 3% documented spontaneous gender change. Criminal penalties may apply to casting these spells in the states of Wisconsin and Rhode Island.
Spell 1: Casting the Runes of Self Doubt
Examine the factors that have rendered your desire unrequited.
Why do you think he hasn’t professed his desire for you yet? No matter if you are wanted in five states, we assure you that the only thing standing between you and romantic bliss with him is your self-doubt. Yes, if you are not convinced that he could ever love you, he never will.
To eradicate self-doubt, we suggest the following ritual:
Secure a set of runes carved from sandstone and cast them into a full bathtub. Prepare an olive oil effusion of
- 2 parts powdered diary pages
- 6 parts Little Debbie Swiss Cake Rolls
- 3 parts belladonna
Preheat bathwater to 95 degrees. Light 6 puce-colored candles along bathtub rim. Pour the olive oil effusion into a supersize atomizer and mist your body with it. Next take a bath in the rune-cast tub while listening to any 6 Stevie Nicks songs of your choice. Retrieve the runes and recast them in your hope chest.
Love shall replace self-doubt within a fortnight.
Spell 2: Conjure the Beloved
Resort to this spell only if you have pined for him in excess of two weeks.
How to Conjure the Beloved
Rent a 13th floor apartment. Furnish it in his-and-hers fashion. Hang an octagonal mirror on the south wall of the living room and attach a gold-lamé tube top to each side. On the next winter solstice, light 759 lavender candles arranged in a tessellating pattern on the living room floor. Base the tessellation on the shape of a hummingbird in flight.
At the stroke of midnight, baste each tube top with a shot of rotgut liquor. Should any liquor remain, drink the rest. Wearing as much eyeliner as possible, stand before the mirror and chant your intended beloved’s middle name 79 times. If you don’t know his middle name, just substitute the letter S, as Harry Truman was wont to do.
Your beloved will abide with you by the next time you spot three gold cars ride down your street in a row.
Spell 3: Is He the One?
Warning: This spell does not function as a warranty for the Conjuring the Beloved spell. Once you’ve Conjured the Beloved, He’s the One,regardless of your satisfaction with the results.
We recommend this spell for women who have suitors to spare. This divination spell will enable you to read fate and choose from would-be beaux appropriately. You must Cast the Runes of Self-Doubt one full moon cycle before you inquire if He’s the One.
If you’d like to know if He’s the One, get two Susan B. Anthony dollars and drop them into an 8-qt stock pot of boiling rosewater. Reduce heat and let simmer for 7 minutes. Turn off heat. Light a silvertone unity candle with two gold tapers. Examine the stockpot and estimate the distance between the coins. If the coins sit less than 37 millimeters apart, he’s the One. Extinguish the candles at your discretion.
Repeat this divination spell for each man in question. Should more than one candidate qualify, pick the gentleman whose coin distance in millimeters is closest to your shoe size.
After I wrote about my emergence from long-term welfare last week, I recalled that I still had a screen shot of my 2006 BVR-ordered psychological evaluation. The picture above shows the summary of my MMPI-2 results. Since my life has a perpetual soundtrack, this picture brings to mind a lyric from “Never Too Late” by Three Days Grace: “This world will never be what I expected, and if I don’t belong, who would have guessed it?”
I have considered that there is risk involved in disclosing such information, in particular the risk that this revelation could undermine the apparent legitimacy of my perspective on subjects that are unrelated to my history of mental illness. I think this risk is due to stigma about mental illness and that disclosure helps reduce this stigma. My history of clinical depression does not make me an unreliable narrator because if I were still suffering from disabling mental illness, I would not have the motivation to write this blog. There wouldn’t be enough of my writing for anyone to critique and dismiss on the grounds of my illness.
The highest score on my exam may be surprising considering that I’ve focused on depression in the history of this blog. My seventeen years of treatment (1992-2009) lent me a torn perspective on mental illness. While I do believe that mental illness can be disabling, I’ve also considered that there are symptoms that may be considered part of a “disease” but are not necessarily harmful to one’s happiness and productivity. With that aside, I will tell you that my occasional hallucinations have not been a burden to me. When I was seriously depressed, I had little relief from the drudgery of reality. I wished that I would hear or see something divorced from my everyday life, but it seemed the visions would not return, like a dark night of the soul. If I had no insight that I sometimes hear or see things that are not grounded in physical perception, then my hallucinations would indeed be part of a disease.
Yesterday evening I beheld a precious gift, a gold necklace that belonged to a friend of mine who passed away early this year. I was standing in my kitchen holding the necklace and looked toward the living room. Standing next to my couch was my departed friend. With a peaceful smile, she flickered away. I am grateful for such comfort. If this is a disease, I do not wish to be treated for it.
This morning I read an article entitled “You’re Not Meant To Do What You Love. You’re Meant to Do What You’re Good At.” Brianna Wiest’s essay offers some sound advice on choosing a career based on skill. However, it does not address the matter that there are interests worth pursuing regardless of the possibility of economic gain. In this age, we have the unprecedented privilege of self-publication. We need not bow to publishers or other tastemakers to have our voices heard. I am not so worried that I could exhaust my ideas in a day, a week or a month. I write simply because I’ve had the time and clarity to do so, not because I have an illusion that I could support myself by writing. I feel so fortunate to live in a time and place where it is possible to publish my ideas and experiences so easily, and I will not be discouraged because this interest of mine is not financially productive.
My pursuit of writing is not entirely different from devotion to any other hobby. Just because a hobby has the potential for artistic value does not mean that its devotees necessarily have delusions of grandeur. Think of a teacher who breeds new varieties of flowers in his spare time. Are his students and family cheated somehow by the time he spends in his garden? Would anyone imagine that he would abandon his career if he happened to breed a dynamite petunia? In our culture, artistic hobbies are not so readily supported. They are often seen at best as dividing loyalty and at worst delusional.
Now that I am well into my 40’s, I have long resolved the conflict between career and identity. Career is not so much about who you are as it is about selling your labor and developing the skills that command value in the labor market. I don’t feel anguish that I do not have a creative job. I feel lucky that I have a job that pays my bills and leaves me with enough time to enjoy my family and do a bit of writing and photography.
I will close this entry with a quote by Martha Graham from Agnes De Mille’s 1991 book The Life and Work of Martha Graham that has uplifted me repeatedly through the years:
There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep yourself open and aware to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open.