About the Author
Alister Flik grew up in a fundamentalist Christian home in the Midwest with a healthy variety of crazy available to her, and her middle child syndrome hardly affects her at all anymore. At 18, she moved to the West Coast, got a tattoo, and now lives happily as a quirky theist amidst the Portland heathens she so dearly loves. Her idols are Joan of Arc (crazy or not), Flannery O'Connor, and Daria. Her favorite superhero is the perfect superhuman combination of Joan of Arc, Flannery O'Connor, and Daria dressed in a cape, armor, boots, and armed with wit and a pen. She is currently looking for someone to illustrate this into a comic book.
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Look. Sedatephobia Chapter 1
So, I'm struggling to have the following story make sense...Any comments would be helpful.

"Perhaps I know best why it is man alone who laughs; he alone suffers so deeply that he had to invent laughter." --Nietzsche

Don't get me wrong. I've been to my fair share of therapists. This one was terrible. In one of our first "sessions," I just came out and said, as politely as possible, "Well, I feel like we're not getting anywhere…" I said this casually, like I felt that would make him more receptive. "I come here and say something, and you repeat it back to me in the form of a question, and I feel like I'm running in circles." And I know, I know that's a "therapeutic approach." We were told to use it on the kids at the camp where I worked. I sucked at it.
"I wanted to bite the counselor's leg."
"So, what I hear you telling me…is that you were angry with the counselor."
"No, I just wanted to bite her leg."
"So…what I hear you telling me…is that you were hungry--no…is that you wanted to bite the counselor's leg?"
What is that? I can't remember exactly what his response was to my attack on his technique…but it was something along the lines of, "I just want to make sure I'm understanding you." Bullshit. You just don't know what to say because you're a trained parrot.

Then there was my lobster dream. That made it all click for me. I know you're thinking that this "lobster dream" officially classifies me as crazy, but who among us hasn't dreamt of a bright neon orange lobster (complete with mustache) speaking French to her. Well, in my defense, it was the therapist who sent me the lobster. His idea, not mine. He had passed along a message for it to deliver to me. Here's the catch: I don't speak French. Bastard. That was when I knew, I couldn't communicate with this man because he was a neon orange, French-speaking lobster. No, he did not really have a mustache, but wouldn't that have been cool?

I'm testing that theory. If you laugh at the world long enough, do you think it will start to laugh at you? I really enjoy making people laugh. I would have said, "making things laugh," because I didn't want to imply that the world is a people, (aren't we all really just one people…man) but I was wondering, in what other context would that make sense? So, I changed it.

Do we look organized? Sometimes, I feel like, if we all laugh hard enough, the world could peel away, like old newspaper, and leave us stuck, globs of soggy words that never found the right order. What do you mean, "what do you mean?" That's my point.

Why ask about my dad? You think I have an Electra complex or something? Oh, you just want to know. Sure, sure. Well, I don't want to seem too defensive. I guess, I can say about my dad…he was a farmer's son. No, you tell me what you think that means.

My grandfather built his farmhouse. Started at the base (to make things sturdy I imagine that's what you do) worked up the walls to keep out winter winds, and topped it off with a roof to cover his family. Pretty standard building procedure. When I was little, I spent one summer with my older brother on the farm. Mostly uneventful farm chores, but a tornado swept through the town one night. I remember the screaming sounds and the crashing hail in between thunder. The lightning was like a strobe light at a rave. At the time, I wouldn't have known that, but now my mature wisdom and experience helps me create this simile. We were playing a silly board game called Snail Race. The siren interrupted everything, and I saw my grandma grab my brother's hand and the dice dropped to the wood floor. I never heard them hit. I remember that I couldn't see my grandpa, but I felt his big hand around my ribcage as I was lifted from the floor and carried toward the basement door. When we went outside the next day, bits of wood and farm machinery were strewn everywhere, but the house was standing, like a giant FU to the still stormy skies.

My last therapist suffered from what I diagnose as "unintentional asshole syndrome." No official treatment for UAS, but I believe there's a Tool song that offers one solution. Their first CD. I won't say the name of the song. You'll just have to find out. It would be un-lady-like. So, he had this horrible habit of asking me "how are you feeling?" or some form of that question. I hated it. I'm sitting in a dark room, too close to a man who won't stop staring at me. How am I feeling? Uncomfortable.

With him? My favorite day, and by "favorite" I mean, the most awkward. I arrived in his office, and I was a little leery of everything because…well, we're friends now, I might as well just be open…because it was my time of the month. He had this brilliant, new age idea that I should close my eyes and tell him what it was I "felt" in my body. Right. I was not about to close my eyes while he had his open. That seemed like a creepy situation waiting to happen. So he promised to close his, as well. I half trusted him. I only peeked twice. We began the proceedings. I didn't know what to do. There was a surplus of awkward silence, but it wasn't that bad, because at least this time, he wasn't staring at me. I checked.
"How are you feeling?"
"Um…" my cramps hurt like a motherfucker. I figured I'd better find a euphemism. "Tense."
And here, I wanted to say, "my uterus," but refrained, believing the specificity was too graphic. "My stomach," I said.

Yeah. I was starting to feel bad about lying, and I was thinking that this process was pretty futile. I told him I wanted to stop. He must've opened his eyes at that moment, because I tensed for a second before I looked at him, and when I did, he was giving me these, "I'm sorry you can't see what's wrong with you," eyes. And this is where the real Freudian gymnastics come in. He managed to morph my "stomach tenseness" to "heartbreak." How many women need to be told that their cramps are misplaced heartbreak? Not many, I think. Maybe it all comes back to my penis envy. Do you smoke cigars? The cherry on top of this crazy-sundae was his attempt at what I guess was a "leveling" statement. He said, "welcome to the club."

I used to pray every night before I went to bed. Now, I count…1, 2, 3, 4, 5…I've found it has pretty much the same effect…if…when I'm lying to myself. Maybe I should try imagining sheep. It works in cartoons.

My first boyfriend? Well, he had the same name as my dad. No, not really. I'm messing with you. We met in English class. He asked me to junior prom. I broke up with him a week after our first kiss. It wasn't romantic. The kiss…not the breakup. Well, I guess the breakup wasn't particularly romantic, either. But it wasn't horrific, as far as breakups go. He cried. I didn't, not at first, anyway. He never saw me cry, and I guess that's my point. Oh, the kiss. Right, that's what everyone thinks should be exciting. Well, I don't remember it. I remember the before and after, though.

I was leaving for a trip to visit my brother at Oxford…you know, in England. He's brilliant. Anyway, I figured, I should try and kiss him (not my brother) as…kind of a reward for sticking with me this long. It was something I had to do. I'd never kissed anyone before, not really. Maybe once in 7th grade, during Truth or Dare. That doesn't count, though. Right, so I did the cheek-peck, and thought, great, I got that out of the way. Now I need to get out of here. But he followed me to my car, and leaned in as I sat myself behind the wheel for my getaway. Now that I think of it, the position can't have been very comfortable for him, sticking his head in through my open car door. The car was low to the ground. We called it the origami car. It folded like paper whenever…whenever there was an accident. So he leans in and…does his thing. Then it was over and I tried not to laugh. It looked like I thought the situation was funny.

I laughed. Why would I laugh at him? Why did I want to laugh at this boy? I smirked and said, "good-bye." Then I drove away…a week later, I broke up with him. Maybe the laughter makes sense to you. I don't know. I don't really have a lot of experience with first kisses. Maybe they're supposed to be like that, but I didn't think so. I'd think they're something you're supposed to remember. Not something you laugh at because you just can't handle it. Because you're just so terrified. But maybe that's what romance is. I never figured it out.

I'm a relatively calm person. Calm like a rubber band, as my mother always said. Think about it for a minute. You might get it. No, why would I tell you about one of the times when I wasn't calm, while I'm trying to convince you that I'm a calm person? That would only convince you that I have bad reasoning skills, and whether that happens to be true or not, I'm not going to tell you about any of my freak-outs this early on in the relationship. Yes, I've had freak-outs. Don't tell me you know someone who hasn't. If you think you do, you don't really know them. I don't even feel like telling you about this anymore. Yes, I'm pouting. Bitter. I'm a bitter rubber band.

Yeah. I've been told Nietzsche's quote before, but it always seemed so pretentious. Laughter is…isn't calm. But, hearing it can be. If man created laughter because he suffers, what does the person who hears that laugh feel? I'm not sure I know the answer. I just like the question. The point isn't that "man alone suffers…" it's that man doesn't suffer alone. That's such a welcoming statement; you almost forget that you should be pissed off. Well, me, but I prefer second person sometimes. It makes me feel more universal. Sometimes, I forget to feel all warm and fuzzy about universal suffering.

One therapist told me that a joke is almost always a mask for something painful. Sarcasm especially. I wouldn't know anything about that. I told him his beard reminded me of a lumberjack. You know, one of those manly-men chopping down big phallic trees and over-compensating for something. But if jokes are pain…Well then, laughter should be…the balm. And that guy had a horrible sense of humor. I never use that word…balm…it feels clumsy and conceited. Like I dropped it, or it's better than me. I know it's just a word, but don't you ever think… Do you wonder how much truth there really is in the way things are supposed to be? Supposed to look? Things. Just things, I don't know.

When my brother was a senior in high school, and I was a freshman, he had a wrestling match in Florida. My whole family drove down to watch him compete. We looked so supportive. He got his ass kicked. I had a great time. Have you ever watched the referees at a high school wrestling match? They squirm around on that mat like some kind of…zebra worm. Okay, so that didn't make sense, but it's hard to describe. Just use your imagination. It's funny. After the match, we loaded up the loser and started the drive home. It was really late, but my dad refused to admit that sleep was a necessity. My mom's whining only had an effect when she was awake to vocalize it.

My mother once put out perfectly cut pieces of fruit on the counter. I know this doesn't sound like the type of story that would begin with "my mother once…" and still have any kind of entertainment value…but as storyteller, I know something about this fruit that you do not. Telling you this creates what I like to call "suspense." No, I can't think of any other way I might be using "suspense." Let's just focus on this story, shall we? Anyway, it was an evening like any other. I had just arrived home. I think I could drive, so I was at least 16. I entered our home via the main door leading to our kitchen. Lo and behold--fruit, prepared on the counter. Picture perfect. I was as happy as a cannibalistic peach to see that fruit. I picked up a piece and dropped it into my mouth. My senses were suddenly overwhelmed with the aroma and taste of bug spray. It was like being struck in the face by a Raid lightning-bolt. I spat it out as fast as I could, and called calmly for my mother. "MOOOOOMMM!" She entered the kitchen frantically. I held the deceptively sliced piece of fruit out, and it glistened with juice, my saliva, and whatever bug killer we had in the cabinet. I presented it to her and knew exactly how to express my confusion, "What the hell?!" She put her hand to her mouth and exclaimed, "Oh! I never dreamed anyone would try and eat it." She never dreamed anyone would try and eat the cut fruit on the kitchen counter. So she sprayed it with bug spray to try and put a stop to our pesky gnat infestation. She came closer to putting a stop to her pesky daughter infestation.

My dad drove through the dark and my mom's grumbling for two hours before she slipped into snoring. I was out not long after. I remember falling asleep to Knightsbridge's "Life's Been Good." The next thing I heard was my mother screaming and tires squealing. We were at the bottom of a steep hill on the road. In front of our headlights was something red and wiggling. Something big. My dad got out of the car and ran over to a car parked a few feet in front of ours, past the red thing. There was a couple hugging each other, pressed as close to the frame of their car as they could. They were scared of the red thing. I looked at it, and it had flopped a limb over into the light from our headlights. I saw a hand. My mother whipped around and told my brother and me to sit back and look behind us for other cars. My brother did as he was told.

Now, here's a weird one for you. I was in the restroom, during junior prom; fighting a few rebellions on the hair front when I had one of those moments where I stare at my face in the mirror. The heavy bass faded out, and I couldn't hear myself breathing. I thought my face looked grey, like it was behind a filter of television snow. It reminded me of a dog's face. Long and tame. I did catch my eye looking at me. It looked angry, like…a tired old man waiting for his shift to end. I just walked by my reflection into the mass of bodies outside the bathroom, and I left the mirror empty.

Dogs…We had a big white dog that used to wander all over the place. He wandered away for a whole year…but he came back. His name was Phineas, or Finny, after my dad's favorite character in A Separate Peace. He said it was his favorite book, but I think it's just the only one he remembered. He was not a big reader, but that character's charisma stuck with him. The dog was mammoth. Just like my dad. They were really a lot alike. Friendly, happy, not too bright. The only time I ever saw that dog growl and snap was when my older brother fell and broke his leg in our driveway. The neighbor dog came over to see what all the big sissy crying was about, and Finny thought he got too close to my brother. He planted himself right between the two animals; my wailing brother, and the curious mutt from next door. Finny turned out to be a good protector. When Phineas got too old, my dad drove him to my grandpa's farm and shot him. Finny, not my grandpa.

I watched my dad. He was digging through the trunk of the couple's car. He said something to the couple and they pointed. Have you ever seen Ghost Rider? No, the one with Nicolas Cage. Yeah, I know it's bad, but you remember how he would point his finger at all the villains? Yeah, that always reminded me of the limp way the couple pointed. Well, okay. You're right. It couldn't be that the couple pointed. ONE of them pointed like that. Anyway, he or she pointed into the trunk, and my dad pulled out a blanket and went over the…to the body. In the light from the headlights, I saw his lips move as he said something to the bloody figure and laid the blanket over it. My mom's voice pulled my eyes back into the car. She was on her cell phone, talking to someone about an accident. My dad was suddenly at her window. He said the guy was drunk, and walked out in front of the couple's car. I looked back at the body. I could see his fingernails poking out from under the blanket. I thought, his fingers must be hot.

I just thought of another dream that I never told anyone about. In the dream, I said, like I was solving some great puzzle, "ideology is destroying the world." But when you're awake, and you remember that crap, it just confuses you. In this dream, I saw my dad standing by my little white car with his big hand resting on it like a king offering the royal horse to his heir. I don't know why, but I knew I had to run to him, and I tried. I couldn't move, though. Then everything went red and the next thing I knew, I was driving a big black jeep, G.I. Joe style, through a tunnel. The jeep got stuck in the tunnel, and I looked at one end and saw a dinosaur. One of the big kind, with lots of teeth. And at the other end was some other, non-specific monster. They both looked at me, and breathed on the back of my neck. I know that doesn't make sense, geographically, but this is a dream. Don't be so persnickety. Anyway, in this dream, I realized my trapped situation, and I knew that I was going to die. Then, for an excruciatingly long second, my eyes were closed. I opened them, and the monsters hadn't eaten me. No. I was not relieved. I was terrified. I was still waiting.

I heard my mom crying and yelling, "It's not safe." But she was always whining. My dad knew how to not listen. He was running up to the top of the hill. My brother asked my mom something, but I didn't hear it and my mom just stared, open-mouthed out the back window as my dad ran into the black. "He's making sure no one else drives down here," she whispered. I couldn't see him anymore, it was too dark. I could hear my brother breathing next to me. Then he stopped. I jerked my head to check on him, wondering if he'd punctured a lung at the wrestling match. He was pointing at the hilltop. I looked back, and I could see the figure of my dad, a clean-cut shadow of his giant form. Lightning, I prayed.

I have a moment, the moment I decided I wanted to make people laugh. I was young, 9 or 10, and my whole family was sitting down for dinner. My older brother said something snarky to my dad. I don't remember what it was, but I remember that I didn't understand it. My dad let out this big booming laugh. He was a big booming kind of guy. It was like he couldn't control it, and it just slipped out of him. I thought, I want to be smart enough when I get older, that I can make him laugh like that. But somewhere deeper than that, I didn't believe it was possible. Maybe I never thought I could be as smart as my older brother. I was probably right, if he has anything to say about it. But I don't think intelligence is what births humor, anymore. No, the mother-womb of a good laugh is something else. I'm never sure, but I think part of it is finding the person who wants to laugh.

I have a cousin who was a swimmer. Huge feet. Like flippers. Consequently, she was a fast swimmer. One foot was a whole shoe size larger than the other. She would swim in these big circles. Not really, but that's what my dad used to joke about.

My dad stood at the top of the hill, waving his arms, his legs firmly planted in the darkness, like they went into the hill, and he could not be moved. He looked like a house, but somewhere, I still knew he was a man. I clutched both arms around my ribcage and squeezed to keep my screams in my stomach. The headlights didn't slow, and only my dad's shadow moved away from the approaching lights. Later, when the ambulance arrived, it came from the other direction and got to the body under the blanket first. The drunk lived.

No, I'm not upset. I'm just…tired of being calm. Why? Because, it's like staring at my body from across a room where everything has it's place, and…and seeing this dark hole. Sure. A wound. It's NOT heartbreak. And I see myself digging into that hole in this picture perfect world, screaming, "this is HERE! THERE IS MORE TO ALL OF THIS! This is only LOOKS right. SEE?!" and I dig in deeper, until I'm swallowed by it, like the wound was a mouth that opened up, and I climbed in so easily to let it take me. That's not funny.

Did you ever read a novel and wonder if they're writing about you? Yes? No? That's not an answer. Did you ever write a novel, and wonder if you're writing about you? No. You don't write. Sure you do. Everybody writes, don't they? I could try and write out an argument for illiterates, but how would they ever know? Yeah, that joke was a little forced. Fine. In this argument, writing would be some metaphor for a cathartic release. Illiterates would experience this catharsis when they explained to people that even though they look so happy because they can't read the newspapers or Revelation, they're really just as plagued as everybody else and that's why they deserve to write as much as the next guy. That's how I would make my argument. But I like things a little funny.

Last edited by Alister Flik on June 26, 2009, 9:51 pm
"I do not think, therefore I am a mustache."
-Sartre *Nausea*

LOLOLOLOL ROFL this is hilarious cynical writing. I'll be honest it was way too long for a rant-piece, but shorten it up and it could be the most amazing rant-piece I've ever read (that is if you think like me, that my opinion is so totally important that anything I don't like should be immediately modified in order to coincide with the definition of definition of perfection tehehe). This made sense for the most part, there was only a slip up in the lobster paragraph that didn't make grammatical sense, but c'mon you're bashing your therapist, do you really need to make sense?

"I know you're thinking that this "lobster dream" officially classifies me as crazy"
Naw I think this story officially classifies you as crazy (tehehe jk)

"He had passed along a message for it to deliver to me." => He had passed along a message for it to be delivered to me.

And hold on, wait after the lobster, I'm stalled at the delivery guy. Did he speak french? Was he wearing neon orange? You lost me.

"I'm testing that theory. If you laugh at the world long enough, do you think it will start to laugh at you?" Only if you're a comedian, which is a good thing because it'll also start throwing money at you. Haha, you're like a schoolyard bully, laugh at the little kids and they give you their lunch money.

"(aren't we all really just one people…man)" No that's in China where there's no such thing as Individualism or private healthcare, here in America we're Capitalists and hence don't believe in a "collective," that sure worked out well for N. Korea didn't it?

"Do we look organized? Sometimes, I feel like, if we all laugh hard enough, the world could peel away, like old newspaper, and leave us stuck, globs of soggy words that never found the right order. What do you mean, "what do you mean?" That's my point." LOVE IT! This is the textbook example of a great sentence. You should put it more toward the top so your reader sees it sooner and gets roped in.

"The lightning was like a strobe light at a rave." Brilliant.

Hey the Tool song, you talking about Stinkfist? That's not about anal sex btw, it's about adverting raping us as a culture, but good parallel to "unintentional asshole syndrome." Love it!

That's as far as I got, this is long. I'll come back latz and try to finish it. Peace!

Posted on Tuesday, June 9, 2009 at 12:07:35

Alister Flik

Thanks for the review. I appreciate your help and insight. I'll look into clarifying a few things.

Also, the Tool song is "Jerk-Off," but yeah, Stinkfist is a great song, just not what I was looking to reference. I knew there had to be more behind the lyrics than just the immediate vulgar message. That's why I love Tool.

Thanks again, I hope you enjoy the rest if you get a chance to finish it. It is a bit long.

"I do not think, therefore I am a mustache."
-Sartre *Nausea*
Posted on Sunday, June 14, 2009 at 20:38:20

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