Hercules: King of the Zombies

“I’m patient zero,” I told my wife when she answered the video call.

“I haven’t even had coffee yet.”

“This is serious. I’ve put all the pieces together now. Get coffee. I’ll wait.”

She went off screen briefly and I sat listening intently to her morning routine. It contained more prayer than normal I think. I kept hearing things like “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus” and “Lord you made him…” and some mumbled plea about answering calls in the future that began with “Good morning”.

She sat back down. “Patient zero?”

“Zombie apocalypse? Duh.”

“This should be fun. Please. Enlighten me.”

“So if you remember, I was raised with cats. Now throw my mad cow into the mix…” I began.

“You do NOT have mad cow,” my wife informed me. “And Moosa isn’t a real thing either.”

“Then explain my erratic thought processes. HA! You can’t. So much for your psych degree, Doc.”

“You’re just bizarre.”

“No. I’m misunderstood.”

“Einstein was misunderstood,” she incorrectly corrected.

“He couldn’t make correct change for the bus, either.”

“But You can most certainly make change for the bus.”

“Tell that to the Korean bus driver who had to make correct change for me when I put ₩ 10,000 in the thing to pay for my fare yesterday.”

For those unfamiliar, ₩ is the symbol for Korean won which makes more sense than our $ for dollars. Double strike-through W for Won versus a double strike-through S for Dollar. In regards to the origins of double strike-through S for Dollar, I blame the French influences on the early development of the written English language. Kind of like the superfluous K in knight or knife. It’s a working theory. Back to Won (₩). It is Pronounced wan but spelled w-o-n. Lost in translation, I suppose. Anyway, 1,000 ₩ is like 90 cents. Cents: (¢). Boom! Take that Frenchie!

“You didn’t.”

“It was all I had on me. It resulted in me having about six pounds of Korean coins in each pocket. After that I just dumped the contents of one pocket into the thing (what is that called anyway?) every time I got onto a different bus. The driver would then make change and the machine would spit a new set of coins out weighing slightly less than six pounds. It was exactly like paying a percentage to have my money laundered. I felt like I was in the Triad.”

“That’s exactly nothing like having your money laundered, and the Triad are Chinese.”

“Right! But they are also foreign to Korea, so it works.”

She placed her left thumb on her cheek and covered her eyes while shaking her head.

I explained to her for perhaps the hundredth time in twenty years how I came to be afflicted with the first of three bovine sicknesses. The second is from a mandatory series of anthrax vaccinations and the third is from an Army mandated small pox vaccination. I know that you are thinking that small pox and cow pox are two different pox (poxes?), but if you are thinking that, you are mistaken. Apparently, small pox was eradicated except for weaponized versions stockpiled alongside weaponized anthrax in Russia and sold off to any number of belligerent states. So the US engineered something out of cow pox to administer to us so we can’t get either type of poc. Milkmaids seemed to be immune to small pox, so why not? What is it with Russians and cow disease weapons? Weirdos. I digress.

Removing her hand from her face she asked me what Einstein had to do with all of this?

“You brought him up.”

“Oh my god, would you just get to your point?” she pleaded.

“As I was saying, when I got exposed to MRSA, that particular disease was outmatched by preexisting conditions and teamed up with the mad cow, cow pox, and anthrax. Voila! Moosa.”

“And your cats had what to do with this?”

“I’m glad you asked. Being raised with cats is what started it all. You remember that manipulative parasite they carry?”

toxo

“Toxoplasma gondii. Yes, but that affects women and causes birth defects or something.”

“It makes them more promiscuous so they have more babies and perpetuate the cycle, yes. But it also makes men less risk averse to put them in the way of the big cats we once lived alongside so that when we became cat scat we could also spread the bacteria.”

“Is there a point to this?”

“Of course there is. The Toxoplasma gondii explains why I was chasing that cat in Panama and got stuck in the sticker patch which is where I picked up that fungus that controls the minds of ants in South America.”

YOUTUBE-zombieant___Gallery

I held up my arm to show her the sticker wound I’d gotten when I was nine years old. There is a still visible brown mark much like a tattoo. Maybe it is more like the pencil wound on my left leg I got when I was thirteen following a leg spasm while I held a pencil point down under my desk. “It got in at this point.”

“So you have fungus for brain. That explains things.”

“No. I’m just saying I’m not in full control of my mental faculties.”

“No argument there,” she shrugged.

“You can’t insinuate that I’m stupid after calling me Einstein.”

“I most certainly did not call you Einstein.”

“You said I was bizarre and through the whole misunderstood money laundering Triad thing, we established that bizarre is basically a synonym for Einstein when we talk.”

“I’m pretty sure having mushrooms in your head is no basis for zombification,” she suggested. “That fungus is not the same thing as magic mushrooms.”

“The point is that when the MRSA wins out over the mad cow, it will erupt in my skull at which point the fungus will take control due to Moosa diminished mental facility and I will become a zombie with bacteria that draws people to me. Cycle repeats. Zombie apocalypse.”

“I am going to choke your mother next time I see her.”

“I would too. This is all her doing. First the cats, then the willful spread of mad cow. I told you she was the Mesopotamian goddess of the underworld,” I gasped at a sudden realization. “I am a demigod! I’m like Hercules, king of the zombies!”

“And I am hanging up now.”

 

 

 

Photo Credit

Zombie Ants: http://www.ourwindsor.ca/news-story/5444141-a-mind-controlling-fungus-is-turning-ants-into-real-life-zombies-in-the-rainforest/

Forever Jung

I’m sorry. This has nothing to do with Carl Jung, I just liked the way it sounded as a title. I know it may have given you the wrong impression, but that is ultimately irrelevant. Focus on the important part. I just may be the next Sigmund Freud, y’all! How does that make you feel? Not the old grumpy looking one. The young Freud with the killer mustache that I would totally wax into handlebars. You have to give it to him. The man did demonstrate a certain je ne sais quoi I’m almost positive derived from his flair for impeccable personal grooming. This is especially true when compared to the lackluster…. whatever that is he did to his head and stache of Jung.

freud pics

Here is how I reached this conclusion:

“I swear this heat and humidity sucked the life out of me today,” I lamented to my Queen.

“Ugh,” She replied. She’s quite monosyllabic before that first cup of coffee at 5 p.m. It’s funny how when I go to Korea, she lays about until late afternoon in our home near Savannah, Georgia.

“I had to grind the narcotic beans of a foreign plant, strain water through them, and drink it at lunch it just to survive the day and beat the heat drooziness. Oh what a wretched life,” I explained.

“Ah. We’re being dramatic. That helps.”

“Why are you always falsely accusing me of drama and hypochondria?”

“You sound like you are gearing up for a Shakespearean play. “Oh what a wretched life!” Really? Yes, you are dramatic and a hypochondriac,” apparently she inhaled a whole cup of coffee while I was being decidedly not dramatic. “You are dramatic and hypochondriac and you are my love.”

“I’m just your love, but the other two are figments of your imagination.”

“Maybe my love is a figment of my imagination too?” Ooooo! Maybe she hadn’t gotten through that coffee after all. She doesn’t play well until her BCC (blood-coffee content) are at certain levels. I’m convinced that this is the manifestation of condition based learning similar to when an alcoholic learns to play pool or something. If they learned it on a bender, they can’t play well sober.

“You aren’t following me here,” I began. “Bear with me for a minute.”

“Oh god,” Her syllable count was shrinking again. I’d need to type fast.

“So you love me greatly and part of you thinks I’m perfect, but there is another part that thinks I can’t be perfect. As a way of coping with this cognitive dissonance, you project dramatic and hypochondriac behaviors onto your perception of my persona. It’s really quite simple. Your id and ego are at odds. Boom! I can psychoanalyze too. We’re like professional associates now. I can so be a shrink. I’m really good at this”

“Lol,” Was her only response.

I think she may have been regressing syllabically at this point and thought of that as one word pronounced “laul” or “loll” maybe, but I suppose she could have been waking up and that was an “el-oh-el”.  Either way, I’m honestly not sure if she thought I was being funny or if she was laughing at me or laughing at my epiphany regarding the innate skills I possess as a psychoanalyst.

*Footnote: When she read this, my Queen informed me that I need to clear some things up.

1) She would like everyone to know that there are time differences between Korea and Georgia and that it was only 5 p.m. in Korea.

2) She claims she said I was a dramatic hypochondriac rather than dramatic and a hypochondriac.

3) She also claims she did not mean “el-oh-el”, but that it was an autocorrected “oh hell”.

 

Photo Credits:

The Freuds: http://discovermagazine.com/2014/april/14-the-second-coming-of-sigmund-freud

Carl Jung: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carl_Jung

Subtropical Yeti and Muscle Cars

Apparently STDs are a real thing. STD as in socially transmitted diseases. Not to be confused with the other use of STD. It’s a little early in the post for me to be explaining myself, don’t you think? Anyway, they are real. I learned of them from a friend on Face Book who suggested that my potentially spreading small pox might be an STD. Not that I’m spreading small pox, but that my pox are spreading on me. And since I am in Korea without my family this time it stands to reason that the malady is of a social nature rather than a sexual one. Obviously.

Upon learning that socially transmitted diseases are a thing (who knew?), I announced to my friends: “Meet the next Howard Hughes, y’all”.

Kim, my wife of 20 years seems to think that this is not a viable life option so I suggested to her that I should become a hermit. Just to clear things up, the marriage is of twenty years. I didn’t even know Kim when she was 20.

Ok. So let me back up a little bit. I will tell you right now that I am a terribly flawed individual. I don’t think I’m a monster, but I make mistakes. Often. Sometimes these mistakes hurt those I love. Other times they just make me look stupid. That said, Kim and I just recently emerged from one of these in which I emotionally devastated her. It was not intentional, but she has to get sick of this at some point and I was feeling terrible about it all. In my mind I’d emotionally scarred the love of my life. Scarring equals abuse. I decided I was an abuser. The text conversation went like this:

“I passed my Korean driver’s license test!”

“Can you forgive me?”

“Not for passing the driver’s tesr2.”

“Test.”

“For being hurtful.”

“Oh god.”

“I’m an abuser.”

Her response? “Wow.”

“Huh?”

“That escalated quickly. You went from passing a test, to your fingers having a stroke and being unable to spell, to being an abuser.”

“Welcome to my head.”

“Wow.” Again with the wows. “You’re not an abuser.” She assured me.

“I emotionally scarred you. I’m pretty sure that qualifies.

I determined that I was the worst form of awful human being and that maybe I would be better off away from humanity. So between that and the emergence of socially transmitted diseases, I decided I should be a hermit.

“I’ll be like some random Buddhist that never bathes and talks to his fleas.”

“You might actually be happy that way.” She said.

“Gripes at them more likely.”

“What the heck are you talking about?”

“The fleas, Kim. I’d be griping at them rather than talking to them. Fleas are jerks.”

“Fleas are definitely jerks.” She agreed.

“I don’t want to be a hermit anymore.”

“That was quick. What do you want to be now? You’re like a toddler changing professions.”

“The fleas screwed it up,” I explained. “Ask those buttholes. I’ll just be a beachcomber and live under a banana leaf,” I beamed at my brilliant idea. “Plus, fleas hate saltwater. Have you ever seen a fish with fleas?”

“Sand fleas.” She offered.

“Great bait!”

“They bite.”

“Buttholes.”

“Right?” She’s very supportive.

“How about a Djinn then? No rhyme intended.”

“O….k?”

“Djinns never have to miss anyone they care about. They just move them into the lamp with them.” I explained. I’m not sure why it needed explaining. Seemed fairly obvious to me. “Plus there are no fleas in lamps. I’ve never seen a flea in a lamp.”

“And no nagging, needy wives in lamps either,” She offered in a manner suggesting that her supportive nature only goes so far and that residing in a lamp in the middle of the Sahara was just a tad farther than she was willing to go.

Remembering that she prefers cold weather and forgetting that hermits live alone, I toyed with the idea of being an Arctic or Antarctic hermit if there was such a thing, but there are polar bears at one locale and penguins at the other.

“Penguins are jerks too…..,” I began.

“Take the polar bears then.”

“….. and polar bears are just hungry. Plus, it’s cold there. Which is why I can’t be a Himalayan hermit.”

“Is this your way of coping?  This rambling?” She asked.

“Yeah, and yetis. Beats the hell out of talking about how awful I am.”

“We aren’t talking about how awful you are,” She said. “I said you’re a good guy, but you aren’t infallible.”

“I don’t know what else to talk about right now. A yeti would understand this. They don’t know what to talk about either. That’s why they hide in mountains like I’m doing. Except their mountains aren’t full of bustling garlic breathed people who look like elves to me. So when you get right down to it, I’m something like a yeti: tall, white, hairy (semi) and currently live on the side of a mountain in a subtropical country where no one understands me when I speak. I am a subtropical yeti….”

“Well you ramble then and I’ll just sit here and read.”

I think I failed to mention that this conversation was over instant messaging while each of us are on different continents. As you can clearly see, I express myself better with the written word. You should hear me trying to discuss feelings vocally. It’s truly horrific and only marginally successful when done in total darkness. It also helps when she doesn’t laugh at those expressions uttered into a dark room intended to put me at ease through the illusion of solitude. I told you I was flawed.

Sensing she wanted to change the subject because I am in possession of inordinately high levels of emotional intelligence, I decided to comment on recent FB timeline posts.

“I see you’ve been taking stabs at me on your timeline.”

“Huh?

“Memes abut holding in snarky comments or letting go does less damage. I’m pretty sure those are directed at me. It’s cool. I think I earned it.”

“You are going to think everything is directed at you right now.”

“If the snowsuit fits…” I began. “I’m not mad or hurt or anything. It was just an observation that had nothing to do with the phallic nature of fleas or flightless water birds.”

“What’s the plural of yeti,” She asked.

“I’ll have to ask our scholars. As soon as I can find a yeti scholar. They’re more elusive than the hillbilly yetis like me.”

“No crap, I looked it up: yetovia.”

“They have a bank?” I asked, more than a little irked that my yeti brethren have been withholding information. “What time are you going to bed?”

“Why?”

“So I know when to get up so I can talk to you. Duh. I don’t have to explain these things to yetis.”

“Because they are at the bank and don’t care.”

“They are starting to be as douchey as fleas.”

“Before you go, just tell me this.”

My gut immediately tied itself in knots. I don’t think I’ve ever had a panic attack, but I’m pretty sure this is how they start. One more question that sheds light on my many flaws, exposes that weak spot in a carefully crafted façade presented to the world so they can’t see through my crap. “I’ll try.”

“Why can’t we get rid of that Mustang?” She referenced the dilapidated 66 Mustang sitting covered in our driveway.

“I want to restore it.” I’m more than a little confused at this point. I’m the subject changer, the deflector. Not her.

“Why do you want it so bad? It just takes up room in the driveway.”

“It’s a classic and I’ve wanted one since I could drive. It’s my dream project.”

“The damned thing isn’t reliable. It’s paint its chipped. It won’t hardly start.” She listed its issues.

“It just needs some work.”

“And you have the patience and skill to do this?”

“Mostly. The body work will be a learning process though.”

“When it’s fixed it will still be an old car that could break down again.” Kim was making me work for this one.

Did I mention that Kim has a tendency to sell things when I’m overseas? My horse when I was in Iraq. My BMW last time I came to Korea. I really thought it would be my dog this time. She hates German Shedders. Now I felt like I was in a battle to keep this classic car project and couldn’t care less about the dog. How quickly loyalties shift. Sorry, Smoke. You’re on your own, pup.

“I don’t want to just patch it up. I’m talking full restoration. It could take years.”

“Sweetheart, you just made my point on our marriage for me.”

“Masterful.” All I could do was shake my head in awestruck wonder.

“And that’s why you love me.”

“One of the many.”

Image By Philippe Semeria – http://www.philippe-semeria.com, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5770652

Marriage Explained

As I trudge up the rock face to my quarters, I often avoid the circuitous route up the stairs that eventually leads to the opposite side of the building in which I live. More often than not, I opt for the foot-wide concrete ledge of the monsoon ditch that runs from the top of the mountain to some rice paddies in the valley. I don’t think the word “ditch” paints an adequate picture of this thing. It’s over twelve feet wide across its flat bottom and when my six-foot two-inch self is in it, I can’t see over the edge. At one point there is a slightly smaller ditch that joins it just opposite of my building. This junction creates a little island of sorts upon which grass and a few half naked trees grow. Seriously, it’s like the mange jumped host type and is thriving on flora. I’m not sure why, but I find myself drawn to stare at it once I’ve scaled what I had originally assumed was Fuji until a Korean informed me that Fuji is in Japan. Maybe I stare at this little island because I find it peaceful or a pretty little patch of the world that is just out of place. It may be more likely that I stare at it because I do not acclimate well to altitude and when I’m lying flat on the ground with my head turned in that direction gasping for air in a manner reminiscent of a fish gasping for water that isn’t there, I have no choice but to stare at it since it is the only thing present in my narrowing field of vision.

A few days ago I stopped just short of rounding the corner of the condemned building that lay one terrace below my current residence: The Millipede Marriott. I heard a strange new sound, which is interesting in and of itself since I wasn’t wearing my hearing aids at the time. I’m fairly certain that this means my wife could hear the same sound from our home in Georgia. If you were to imagine what a chicken might sound like if instead of multiple clucks in rapid succession, it was simply issuing a single cluck. Then imagine that the cluck was deeply pitched as if it were from a male animal and that this male creature was from the South Eastern United States. So now you have a deep cluck with a bad Southern twang drawing it out and maybe it’s being uttered from inside a large balloon.

At first I thought that some ginormous bullfrog was in the culvert through which Fuji’s drainage runs (I’m sure the guy was lying about the mountain’s location in order to have a good old chuckle at the foreigner who should obviously be removed from the highlands). I took this opportunity to pause my ascent, thinking that a grown man perched on the edge of a monsoon ditch peering into the black depths of a mosquitobat (more on them later) habitat looking for real life amphibious Pokémon might be judged less harshly than a pause to stave off altitude sickness. The sound continued and to my relief it wasn’t emanating from the cavern in front of me. Not that I have anything against caverns, but as eluded to earlier, there is a sizeable population of these bat sized mosquitos in that vicinity which is why I’d assumed the noise was coming from a giant frog. It would certainly have to be giant to survive and feed upon mosquitobats.

As it turns out, the source of the sound was far less interesting than a 200 pound green Jigglypuff subsisting on giant mosquitos with a taste for human eyes. Instead, it was a pheasant rooster standing atop the only rock on the ditch island that I’d be staring at as soon as I face planted at the apex of my climb. His chest was puffed out and his head was held high as he issued these strange sounding noises that were far too large to be coming from such a small bird. His mate busied herself nearby pecking around and doing her thing. I honestly don’t know what it is female pheasants do, but she certainly looked busy at it. The rooster stood watch, posing and making noise as the hen went about her business.

As with most animals I see, I mentally ran through options on how to capture and consume this rooster. In the end I just opted to take a few pics instead. For one, I don’t know what the hunting regulations are in regards to Fuji Pheasant or if they may be endangered. Also, I’m pretty sure that cooking takes longer than I like in the thin atmosphere up here. I called my wife and recounted the events of my day culminating in my almost participation in real life Pokémon Go. After I told her about the pheasant encounter she responded with a single profound and telling statement that explains so very much to me: “They must have been married for a long time”.

Touché, wife. Carry on. I’m going to stand over here and make some more noise.