creative writing

When I Grow Up

When I was younger I used to think that I could be anything I wanted when I grew up. When did this idea of endless possibility become some silly childhood fantasy?

Here’s my list of things I’ve at one time or another wanted to be when I grow up.

  • Comic Book Artist
  • Dinosaur Expert*
  • Stephen King
  • Professional Baseball Player
  • Circus Clown*
  • Ozzy Osbourne
  • Fireman
  • Hobo
  • Herpetologist*
  • Matt Groening*
  • Zookeeper
  • Graphic Designer*
  • Photo Journalist
  • Mountain Climber
  • Bank Robber*
  • Entomologist
  • Radio Announcer*
  • Screenwriter
  • Marine Biologist
  • Professional Skateboarder*
  • Cowboy*
  • Fabulously Wealthy
  • Stunt Man*
  • Retired
  • John Carter of Mars*
  • Organic Farmer
  • Microbiologist
  • Landscape Architect*

Hopefully it’s never too late to grow up and become anything you want.

( * indicates things I have actually been and/or pretended to be)


Mommy works at Home Depot and sells snow shovels during blizzards.

What were you thinking?

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My Mosquito

There is a mosquito in my room, blinking in and out of sight like a figment. I fear he is some sort of mutant mosquito, toying fleetingly with the power of invisibility. But always the sound betrays my little, bloodsucking friend. I say friend because he and I share a relationship, something deep and unspeakable. In my moments of most focused concentration, when I pander to the indulgence of reveling in my aloneness, as if through this isolation and self-exploration I may somehow discover profundity inside myself, there he is. Nothing more than a background vibration really, frantic yet soothing, surprising yet expected. It feels like terminal deja vu. It’s just me, the dust motes and the menacing blank page before me, and all of sudden the ghost-like return of my mosquito.

My isolation is an attempt at meditation, as I mine the deepest creases of my brain for inspiration. I am a writer of fiction supposedly, trying to construct a masterful work of literature from the ether of my own psyche, a task on par with producing gold bullion from a burning pile of dog poop. I long to write a story of consequence, of socio-psycho-significance, of earth shattering implication; a story of prize winning, career-launching quality. There are a million stories out there and all I have is this stupid mosquito.

Mosquito That Causes Malaria (by NIAID on Flickr)

Ah, inspiration!

Words begin gurgling to the surface, typed into the computer sooner than thought. Bloodsucker. Parasite. Plague. Malaria. West Nile. Suddenly I feel a flush come over me. West Nile. I read it out loud. I type it again, like this. WEST NILE is coming, if not already here! Forget the guns, the WMDs, the Al Queda splinter cell du jour. These little bloodsucking terrors are in our midst as we speak. What are you going to do? Lock the door? Live in a bubble?

I often find myself cursing beneath my breath at the disembodied sound when I hear it, halfway between a buzz and a squeak, simultaneously pathetic and menacing. It is appalling really, that my mosquito should always return, as if I had not made my feelings clear in the past. I tell him to stay away, that he is a bloodsucker, a parasite, a confirmed carrier of numerous deadly infections. Naturally, the very idea of any parasite sickens me, but this is because I live in denial. Parasites are everywhere. There are parasites living among us. We ourselves are parasites, sucking dry the blood of the earth.

Of course, the dance of the parasite requires a perfect balance. The parasite relies on the host for most of its sustenance, but must be careful to not injure the host too severely, because if the parasite kills the host then the parasite will also die. The truly successful parasite should be able to completely elude detection. In that sense, my mosquito is not at all successful. The sound of his maniacal buzz always divulges his presence, and I can tell he is growing closer as he hones in on his target, seemingly in eternal orbit around me.

Then the sound stops, and I notice he has alighted on the hairs of my right arm, and he is awkwardly burrowing for a purchase of skin. I wonder whether my friend realizes he is a parasite, that his company is not welcome. Perhaps he thinks we are old friends with an unusual handshake. Perhaps he thinks he is entitled to harvest a meal from the real estate that comprises the surface of my body. What are you thinking, my little friend? What are you thinking?