Monthly Archives: May 2019

Fun with Quokkas

As the country is wrapping up National Mental Health Awareness Month, it seems to be appropriate to share some of my relatively minor struggles.

I have been depressed most of my adult life.  I could go into grim medical descriptions or personal anecdotes, but that should be saved for another blog. Suffice it to say my brain doesn’t produce all the neurotransmitters needed to operate the machinery smoothly. That results in dark moods, generalized pain, muddled thinking, fatigue, and irritability. Depression: it’s not just for moping around anymore!

My GP and I have worked through a variety of pharmaceuticals, alone and in combination, over the last few years. We’ve discovered any number of annoying and embarrassing side effects, but recently my wife and I have had to deal with Vivid Dreams and acting out. I referenced earlier the time I dreamed somebody had been set on fire and I was frantically try to swat out the flames with my bare hands. We both awoke to my slapping my wife’s butt repeatedly. She did not find it stimulating.

My dreams wind up being involved versions of the stories I write, full of action, horror, and ass-kicking. The cats now sleep on Kit’s side of the bed to avoid being launched into space. (catapult)

So, I try to program my dreams. Instead of internalizing all the frustrations of my life and the terror of current events, I focus on happy things. And there is nothing happier than a Quokka. In case you haven’t heard about them, they are cat-sized marsupials that live on a single island off the coast of Australia. They look to be constantly smiling and gleefully pose for selfies with tourists, no matter what PETA and Australian Fish & Game might have to say.

I now have a picture of two Quokkas taped to my wall near my bed. I have named them Graeme and Oista. Each night, I say good night to them, and their cousin Saltine. I tell them to leave the Club and go back to their Townhouse.

Sometimes, I elaborate to get into the happy Quokka groove:

In my best Shirley Temple voice I sing a few bars of “Animal Quokkas in My Soup”.

1980’s marsupial singing sensation: Quokka Khan.

Wallaby-like creature that realigns your spine: a Quokka-practor.

Jason Momoa leading the marsupials in a Maori war chant: An Aquaman Quokka haka.

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I’m lucky that my wife hasn’t smothered me with a pillow yet.

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A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Joust

This weekend was the second annual Treaty City Joust, an acknowledged tournament for international league standing in Darke County Ohio. It is something of a big deal if you follow sports where people on horseback whack each other with sticks.

I had been there last year, tucked between the food trucks to sell  my books. It had been a very good sales day for a variety of reasons. 1.) The Arcanum Faire books are set in Arcanum in Darke County and many locals can’t believe somebody actually wrote a book about their boring little town.  2.) I was tucked between the food trucks where potential readers were already clutching money in their fists. 3.) The heroes were ren faire performers and jousters just like the competitors on the list who valiantly fought to hold off the end of the world. 4.) I was between the food trucks.

I was not exactly engaged and enthusiastic Saturday morning. After my bout with pneumonia a few years, seasonal allergies easily escalated up to asthma and fatigue. My recently increased levels of antidepressants weren’t picking up the slack yet, either. Promises had been made to unknown fans on the Internet, so there was an obligation to attend even if there had been minimal contact with organizersI slowly assembled my books, tent, and other accoutrements and pointed my car towards the nearest gas station that excepted my fuel rewards card.

That is where I received my first sign that the Universe wasn’t in support of my quest. At the gas station, the card reader declined all of the debit cards in my wallet. Only someone who has ninety-nine per cent of their assets existing only as data in financial data banks can appreciate the fleeting terror of that moment. I did finally register a hand-written sign on building’s door which read: NO DEBIT/CREDIT. Through some glitch of technology, all of their card readers, inside and out, were useless. The ATM outside the building worked just fine. I was able to buy my gas the way my nineteenth century ancestors did, with cold hard cash.

Trusting that to be the worst thing to happen to me that morning, I fired up Google Maps to guide me around the streets closed for maintenance between me and the freeway. Thus commenced a leisurely tour of the neighborhoods around the OSU campus as my phone demanded multiple U-turns and normal turns onto paths that were blocked to me.  Resetting the device, enhanced with vigorous bouts of harsh language, did no good until I noticed the projected time for an eighty-six mile trip would take nine hours and forty-seven minutes. For reasons unknown to Goddess and Science, my phone and Google believed I was on a bicycle.

At nearly the time I had been hoping to arrive, Kreatur and I left Columbus. The trip had all the minor annoyances common to a road trip in Central Ohio, but nothing as irredeemably odd as my earlier difficulties. The high point was my bird of omen. For the longest time I had felt a strong affinity for hawks and eagles, even before a sparrowhawk flew down my chimney for me to capture. (it was released, no need to track me down ODNR)

Off to my right was a red-tail hawk in flight with a snake in its beak. I thought the sign augured well for my day at the Darke County Fairgrounds. Either that, or I was destined to found an Aztec empire in a new Tenochtilan.

The torrential rains from the night before must have frightened off many of the attendees. Some of the arena was still a mud pit, and the junior jousters set to run through their paces a nine a.m. were just getting started in the afternoon as I arrived. The crowd was only a third of the previous year’s size. They looked to be families that had spent almost all of their money on horses, armor, and jousting lessons.

There were no food trucks.

I stuck around until the wind folded up my tent for me, but it proved to be a very disappointing sales. I hold my chin up and keep chugging. There is still a good chance of my building a stone pyramid in the jungle and cutting out the hearts of my enemies at its summit.

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