A collection of essays, outdoor adventure stories, ruminations, wordplay, parental angst, and blatant omphaloskepsis, generated in all seasons and for many reasons at 64.8 degrees north latitude

Saturday, November 11, 2023

COVID, Perimenopause, or Existential Dread?

Many conditions have similar symptoms.  As seasonal illnesses ramp up and the darkness of winter closes in, it can be difficult to tell whether you are suffering from:

a) COVID-19 (a viral infection that went out of style at least two years ago),
b) Perimenopause (a life phase characterized by fluctuations in trivial and poorly investigated non-male hormones), or
c) Existential dread (a condition caused by reading the news and possessing a modicum of logic).

The questionnaire below is definitely not designed to help you self-diagnose, no matter how much that appears to be its sole and obvious purpose.  Our lawyers would like to remind you that medical information can only be provided by a licensed professional who is not covered by your health insurance plan. The following questions are designed only for your entertainment, discomfiture, and paranoid fixations.

Which of the following have you experienced?

1) Headache

2) Tiredness

3) Ennui

4) Inability to tell the difference between tiredness and ennui

5) Memory lapses that seem marginally less terrifying if you call them “fuzzy brain”

6) Attempts to cover up fuzzy brain via fuzzy logic and pointless arguments about things that didn’t happen, but maybe they did, and was it your fault?  It was probably your fault.  Deny it.

7) Loss of smell

8) God, what is that smell?  Do I smell something?  Do I smell anything?  Maybe I smell.  Maybe everyone can smell me.  Maybe I don’t even remember what things used to smell like. Is this egg salad bad?

9) Diminished sexual desire

10) Diminished desire of anyone else to want to have anything to do with you sexually, ever.

11) Sweating with fever

12) Sweating without fever

13) Copious sweating at night

14) Copious sweating at any goddamn time, just random clammy body-juice oozing and dripping and pooling like that cold bog full of long-dead armies in Lord of the Rings.

15) Cough

Results: 1-6: a, b, and c; 7: a; 8-14 a, b and c; 15: a

Note: if symptoms worsen or persist for more than two weeks/years/decades, consult a glasses-wearing TV pharmacist, your mother-in-law, or a YouTube ad with rapidly scrolling side effects in four-point font. 


Wednesday, November 1, 2023

Due to recent budget cuts, AP English Literature will be combined with Driver’s Education


Unit 1

Wiglaf his name was, son of Weohstan,

Although his dad was too freaked out to even let him back out of the driveway.
‘Twas no easy path that Ecgtheow’s honored heir

Must tread over the plain to the place

Where the cones were set up to practice parallel parking. 
For against his will he must win a home elsewhere far,
At least if he was planning on college next year. 

Beowulf he now saw hard oppressed. 

Wiglaf minded the prizes he had given him,
Not to mention the two-day extension on that essay last quarter. 

Not long he lingered.
With his leader-lord the young liegeman was bidden to share the shock
Of accidentally mixing up the accelerator and the brake. 

But only for a moment.

Wiglaf spake, and his words were sage. 

Sad in spirit, he said to his comrades,
Who were sometimes total sons of athelings,

“I remember what promise we made to Beowulf
In the banquet-hall.  Cafeteria. Whatever.

Himself who chose us, urged us to glory,
Because he counted us keen –

Or at least vaguely capable of getting 5’s on the AP exam. 
Okay, maybe 4’s. 

Now the day is come that our noble master

Has need of the might of warriors stout.

Let us stride along the hero

And pay attention when he tells us to use turn signals.”


Unit 2

To church was my fourth husband carried
In the morning by neighbors,
Who for him made sorrow.
And young Jankyn was one of those.

I was forty, if I shall tell the truth,
But as help me God,
When I saw Jankyn go after the bier,
I thought he had a pair of…

What?  Aye, ‘tis the parking brake.
And that good shaft, the gearshift
Where I place my hand just so
Upon its plump and rounded…

Nay, the warning letters
From the School Superintendent
Spake not of this withal.

Truly, as my husbands told me,
I hadde the beste quoniam myghte be. 
It will be part of your individual road tests.

Quoniam.  Quoniam.  Quo-ni-am.

Syn I knowe youre delit,
I shall fulfille youre worldly appetit,
And teach you reverse
And the imperative mood
And some really tight three-point turns.

Especially you, young Jankyn.


Unit 3

Yet here, Laertes? Aboard, aboard, for shame!
I’ve got a lot of advice for you.  So much advice. 

I have found the very cause of Hamlet's lunacy:
He’s failed his road test five times.

What is't, Ophelia, he hath said to you? Marry, I will teach you! Think yourself a baby?
Although, come to think of it, fifteen does seem young for a permit.

It is common for the younger sort to lack discretion,
But you should at least know enough to put on your seatbelts, for chrissake.

Though this be madness, yet there is a method in't