There’s this scene in the Simpsons where Mr. Burns goes to the doctor and the doctor informs him that he has every disease imaginable. They call it Three Stooges Syndrome. Mr. Burns mistakingly believes this as evidence of being indestructible.
After this past year I have to say, I’m starting to feel a little bit like Mr. Burns in that regard.
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I made a weird art project for Youtopia this year.
I started going to this festival a few years ago with my circus family. They told me it involved camping and was awesome and that I had no choice and I was coming. They have never steered me wrong when it comes to awesome things, so I went.
And it was, as promised, fucking awesome. Full of so many strange and wonderful art projects and people, it feels like wandering into another reality where everything hopes to catch you flat-footed in awe.
This year we all decided to make a theme camp and give back. I was totally on board with this. We got our art grant applications funded and managed to build a camp that delighted, challenged, educated and entertained people. It was a complete success, considering we pulled the whole thing together in three months after deciding last minute to do it.
Since we had a camp this year, I had always wanted to do some kind of weird art project that might evoke in others that same feeling of delight the art at Youtopia evokes in me.
So I bought a shitload of crappy bulk stuffed animals and some embroidery thread, cut the animals into pieces and sewed them back together in creepy mutant arrangements, then stuck them in a cheap birdcage and hung it from a tree. I called it the Nightmare Menagerie and attached a bunch of index cards and a sharpie to the cage. The rules were to take a card, write a childhood nightmare on the card, put the card back in the cage, take any animal they’d like, sleep like a baby.
I didn’t know if anyone was going to even look at it, but a steady stream of people would wonder what the hell a birdcage was doing hanging from a tree, walk over to investigate, then spend time writing nightmares, comparing different mutant animals, then walk away with their weird prizes.
It really made me think about how those folks were interacting with it. What they initially thought it was. The first thoughts they had after reading the instructions. The conversations sparked by those memories. Their reactions to the different animals, and why they picked the one they picked.
And man are the nightmares weird and diverse and wonderfully strange and idiosyncratic.
I am planning on doing something with them at some point in the future. And I’ll probably make another menagerie for next year.
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I got to go to therapy and for once talk about how everything is actually totally fine at the moment.
And while it was a bit awkward to not have anything in particular to talk about, it felt really fucking nice.
Nothing is really bothering me at the moment. I’m healthy (thank you, poop transplant). My friendships and relationships are totally fine and I feel close to everyone that I care deeply about. I’m not really anxious or teetering on the brink of depression anymore. Day job’s great. Writing is actually going (thank you very much NaNo), and I have fun and exciting band stuff coming up.
This year has been so unbelievably fucking stupid at times, I really didn’t think I would make it to this kind of emotional place for a while. But I’m here, thanks to the stupid amount of work I’ve been doing to try and figure out how to human better over the past few years.
I feel like I’ve ALMOST got this how-to-life thing finally figured out. For now at least.
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As I said above, I’m doing NaNo again this year. I love NaNo. I try to do it every year and I’ve lost more times than I’ve won, but for me the benefits of making myself sit down every day to write outweigh the total words I wind up producing.
I spent a good deal of time both last year and this year re-outlining this thing to get it ready for when I was ready to sit down and sacrifice three months of free time, and I’m happy to say because of that, the writing is actually going. And since I decided to add a second POV character, I actually reclaimed some of the joy of drafting this time around too.
Coupled with the aforementioned feeling of everything being fine, I’m letting myself be cautiously optimistic the NaNo habit might actually stick around for more than a few months after November’s over.
I’ve got to take advantage while everything is still fine. Because, y’know. Three Stooges Syndrome. Temporary indestructibleness is about the best you can hope for, after all.