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  • Harry Jensen

March 31, 2020

In an email, my Granny told me she doesn’t think swearing or talking about diseases is funny, but who the fuck is my herpes hurting?

I lost a wager in a game of basketball today with my roommate Zilch and thus had to take out the recycling, but I beat him in the first game, so now he has to slip the name “Mr. Vibration” into his next conversation with another roommate, his girlfriend. To take a break from relaxing, I followed along with a YouTube tutorial on how to paint an evergreen with watercolors, but I got frustrated when I got to the trunk and ended up writing “DEATH” in the spot where a signature usually goes. The Death Tree now sits in a gallery of other house works of art, mostly drawings of Maude and people with their hands on their face. Everyone in my house seemed tired and irritated today, and not just because of my curling up on the living room couch and yelling coded messages about being sad.

“I’m a little worm,” I explained. “When we run out of food you can eat me first, or even before we run out, I’m here to help.”

After a morning of crying came therapy, and it was good despite my anxiety about it. Even though therapy is my sole obligation, all week long I despair over its return. I know my shrink will make me to talk to my feelings, and I don’t want to; those guys hate me! Therapy makes me talk to them. In this way, my therapist is more of mediator between myself and my psychological Siamese twin, a not-so-helpful specter shaped like my Dad but brimming with the temperament of a boiling infant. During our session this afternoon, I again made Rivver join me on the long, winding rainbow path of my soul, which leads to a pot not filled with gold, but with the burning chili of trauma and nihilism.

Hopelessness is a hard situation to uplift oneself from, particularly because you need it the most dearly when you’re aware you don’t have it. Sometimes things happen that shake you, or maybe that’s the way the cards were laid for you, but one occasionally needs to check in with themselves on life’s first philosophical question: “should I keep doing this…?”

If I have no answer, or at least no discernible answer, an existential adrenaline rush hits me and leaves me reeling in the absurdity of my circumstances. In good health, I do not need to be cognizant of The Big Why, of why I am doing this, doing something, doing anything. I simply tootle along and do my assignments and crafts and cover letters and joke with my chums and eat trail mix and judge people ferociously. But once past the threshold of tragedy, my father’s passing, a reason was needed to justify the doing this, the going on, the continuation of being. There are many times where I need something solid to keep me chugging along, some tangible statement like “I will make 50,000 dollars in the next two years,” or “I want to call my grandmother once a week,” or “I would like to taste some penguin before they're all gone,” but feel free to make up your own.

Ever since seeing the patercorpse — the sick nasty term I use for my dead father’s body — I have been in need of a reason, a why to get through the how. Not all the time, anymore, but sometimes. It’s not always there, that palpable reason to persevere, but it is sometimes, and it’s all the more precious now that I know how much I need it.

And there is hope, buddy — don’t get me wrong! Meaning and hope are abound and self-created and yours. (Or maybe God’s, if you’re into all that, and if you are, kudos to you, I’m not jealous at all of your miraculous faith, you glorious and enlightened son of a biscuit.) Hope's horizon can be elusive, often hiding behind a quarantine or a corpse. The search continued today, and my search for meaning began with a walk during this little pandemic of ours.

While I was accompanying Cecilia home this evening, I noticed that a number of the trees had colorful eggs hanging from the branches, and I wondered if the maples were going to start giving birth to iridescent chickens. Unfortunately, they were just plastic Easter eggs tied with string, and seemed more like a premature mourning for Easter than a celebration of it. Even greater misfortune befell me when my girlfriend started to search the eggs for chocolates, and I had to inform her — to her great chagrin — that she would not be allowed to touch me with her Coronatized hands for the rest of the walk.

“I was just gonna look for chocolate so the dogs don’t get it,” she said, suspicious that I was shaming her — or perhaps just aware of it — with her hands extended from her body as if she could get rid of them.

I have to enforce the bubble with people on the street, not just my lover. Social distancing has required me to construct a six-foot metaphysical perimeter, an imaginary sphere which, if penetrated, opens me up to the viral spew of gab-mouthed pedestrians. I’m even more vulnerable when I’m walking my dog. During our walk today, a large and dumb looking businessman was walking past us, and though he did not make me enforce the bubble per se, he did require me to make evasive maneuvers. Despite avoiding my eye contact like a gentleman would, the large dumb man erred by slowing down and relaxing the reins on his foul teacup doggy, allowing it a prime opportunity to stick its nose in Maude’s hindquarters. Luckily, I managed to yank my dog to safety in the nick of time, sphincter and all.

See, the common large dumb man doesn’t share my generous understanding of the body’s limits, namely that my dog is an appendage. Maude is physically attached to me on the walk through a dead leather umbilical cord most would call “the leash.” More importantly, she falls into the category of things which I kiss lovingly on the head. Little tiny coronas have been known to prosper on the lovable foreheads of pooches, and thus I deem her within the bounds of my body, having included her in the invisible scope of my bulbous hygiene bubble. She is more of a limb than a companion, and, for the rest of this Corona quarantini, none of my limbs are having their anuses probed by slobbering mutts, engaging with tree eggs, or touching my face.

Though trying and dry at times, today’s events have given me a dash of — what’s that? — oh yeah, hope. It’s the little things that give you a reason to keep going on, and right at this moment mine remains simple: I hope God will give me another day to preserve the integrity of my dog’s butthole.


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