Author Archives: Mark Hill

How Xena: Warrior Princess Gave Me a Mild Case of Childhood Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Remember Xena? I don’t, or at least, not really. I have vague memories of watching it, probably on days when I was home sick from school or otherwise just bumming around. It’s the perfect sort of mindless schlock for an undiscerning kid to zone out in front of. I must have watched at least a dozen episodes, but I can’t remember the plot of a single one.

I can, however, remember one scene. Xena was interrogating a henchman who refused to talk. Because Xena’s not the sort of gal who takes no for an answer, she hit him in the neck. This was no ordinary rough stuff—she knew a special spot that, if hit hard enough, would cut off the blood flow to the brain. It was now only a matter of moments until this goon died.

He panicked, of course, and started blabbing. Xena wasn’t satisfied and was going to let his brain explode, or whatever, but Gabrielle convinced her to show mercy. So she hit him in the same spot again, which restarted the blood flow.

I’m sure I’m misremembering the details, and because this is the Internet I’m equally sure that a Xena superfan will correct me in the comments section. But my point is that my young, suggestible self was convinced that this was a real technique. This silly fantasy show, which to my adult eyes looks like it was filmed on a budget of quarters stolen from vending machine change trays, had fully convinced me that human bodies had a secret weak point just waiting for someone to show up and exploit it like we we’re all a bunch of video game bosses.

So, what did I do with my newfound knowledge of human anatomy? Did I challenge kids I didn’t like to fights, knowing that I could destroy them with a single well-placed chop? Did I run around warning my friends and family so they wouldn’t fall victim to the terrible scourge of the Exploding Brain Technique? No, my reaction was even dumber than that. I fully believed that even the slightest blow to my neck meant a risk of a sudden and terrible death. My body became a walking bomb just waiting to be set off.

I didn’t panic though, because I knew how to undo the death sentence. And so from then on, whenever my neck was touched, I would immediately hit it in the same place to save my life.

I don’t know why I didn’t ask my parents for advice on my mortal peril. Maybe I was miffed that none of the supposedly responsible adults in my life had bothered to warn me about this obvious risk, like if the parents of a young gazelle hadn’t bothered to mention that those big cats with the manes aren’t trying to chase you down for a fuzzy hug. Or maybe it was simply that part of me knew even then that I was being an idiot. All I know is that I kept hitting myself in the neck a lot.

This mostly occurred when I was alone, because at no point do I recall anyone asking what the hell was wrong with me. I suppose I should be thankful, although had an adult witnessed my routine they could have saved me a lot of grief. I suspect that when I was playing or socialising the part of my brain that kept track of stupid bullshit had to instead focus on more important things.

So that’s why I mostly remember this as being something I did in bed. I would roll over, inadvertently brush my neck and think, “Crap, I’m going to die!” Then I’d hit the same spot. “Phew, okay, I’m good.” “Oh shit, the cat just stepped on my neck! Oh God oh God, okay, I got it, I’m good.” And so on and so on, throughout what has to be the stupidest sleepless nights in history.

The worst was when I was unsure whether the latest hit was a lifesaver or a death giver, because apparently when I was a kid counting to two was hard. So I would have to wait in a tense panic, ready to hit myself again the moment it felt like my brain was going to burst. Somehow this approach always seemed to work out.

What’s especially unusual in retrospect is that I was sure that even the slightest blow to my neck could doom me. Xena gave that guy a vicious chop, whereas a feather touch to my neck was enough to make me rub it again just in case. I suppose it was probably a good thing that I wasn’t winding up and going to town on my jugular whenever I felt it necessary.

The fact that odd and even numbers meant the difference between life and death gave me a general obsession with multiples of two. If I was idly tapping my desk I made damn sure that I did it an even number of times. Bouncing a ball? I had to get that 16th bounce, because only suckers settle for 15. And I’m sure I annoyed the cat by chasing after it to get one last pet in.

I don’t remember when I stopped, just that it took longer than it reasonably should have. I probably forgot to unblock my blood flow a few times, then later realised that I had not suffered a horrible, tragic death. Or maybe I just grew up and got slightly less stupid. My point is that pop culture can influence suggestive minds in very unusual ways.

So for any parents reading this, make sure you sit down and have a talk with your Xena watching little ones about how the show’s portrayal of human anatomy is not entirely accurate. And to whoever wrote that episode I’d just like to say, sincerely and from the bottom of my heart, fuck you.

A Hack Comedian Modifies His Routine After Cthulhu Annihilates Most of Humanity and Enslaves the Survivors

Hey, have you ever noticed how the followers of Nyarlathotep, they talk like this, but the followers of Dagon, they don’t talk because voice boxes have no purpose in the dark depths of the planet’s unexplored waters? Boy, those Dagon cultists didn’t think that through. Good luck ordering a pizza, am I right?

And speaking of food, what’s the deal with airline food? Seriously, a year ago who would have thought that fistfights would break out over half a pack of Bits and Bites salvaged from a downed airliner? It’s like, if I had known that would be the most nutrition I’d see all week I wouldn’t have used to tell stewardesses that I didn’t want no dumb Bits and Bites. I would have asked for two! Talk about irony!

My wife’s really mad at me for losing that fight, by the way. See, she’s seven months pregnant, and I already see the dads in the audience nodding. They’re all, “I know what that’s like!” But get this, get this. She’s about to give birth to a shrieking, scaly spawn of the Deep Ones, conceived during a blasphemous ritual uniting man and eldritch horror of the sea. And I’m just like, “Man, my human baby was stinky enough!” I work 16 hours a day in the Mines of Misery, I don’t want to come home to no smelly fish baby!

Speaking of kids, my son just turned four. Now, the parents in the audience know that four’s the age that kids start asking “Why” all the time. I’m glad he’s curious and all, but man, give me a break! “Why’s the sky red? Why’s my hair brown? Why did that big worm eat grandma?” And I’m like, “I don’t know, man! Your hair’s got to be some colour, and the old and infirm have to be devoured by something! Now leave Daddy alone, he’s trying to enjoy his half hour of allotted rest time!”

And of course you know what he says to that, right? That’s right, “Why?” Then I’ve just got to play the ol’ “I’ll tell you when you’re older” card. Joke’s on him, he’s so underfed he ain’t living past six!

Not that us adults are doing much better. If any of you saw me here before the Great Awakening you’d remember that I wasn’t exactly a skinny man. So I bet you were thinking, “Whoa, what happened to this guy?” Look at this lady in the front, she didn’t even recognise me!

Well did I tell you about this new diet program I’m on? It’s called “Learning that most of your rations are made from the flesh of fallen slaves.” Yuck, right? I mean, the rations were already stringy and tasteless and barely had enough nutrients to see us through another day of service, but now it turns out we might be eating that guy who got “transferred!” No thank you! I’ll get by on scavenging grubs and maggots from the corpse piles if it’s all the same to you!

Oh, but don’t worry, don’t worry. You don’t have to look so disgusted, lady. Don’t put your fork down just yet. I have it on good authority that the kitchen is serving certified dog meat. Man, aren’t you guys lucky? I’m up here working away and you’re all feasting on dog and fresh rain water. I bet it’s not even irradiated yet! Jeez, whose tentacles did you have to suck to get this kind of treatment?

I tell ya, being a slave ain’t what it’s cracked up to be. Take my life, for example. No please, take it. End this madness and suffering, this endless torment that makes every day nothing but a grim reminder that existence is meaningless and that death is the ultimate release. Thank you, and don’t forget to tip your wait-thing!

I’m Doing My Part

In the wake of the Isla Vista killings, severe criticism has been aimed at the so-called Men’s Rights Movement and their aggressive, dehumanising attitude towards women. Well, I’m just one man, but I’m doing what I can to counteract this blatant misogyny.

Ladies, I promise that if you reject me romantically, I won’t go home to seethe with an ever growing hatred of your gender. I’ll probably just have a beer and play a video game while experiencing a slight sense of ennui.

If I try to strike up a conversation and you tell me that you’re uninterested, I won’t react negatively or add this failed encounter to a mental list of perceived slights made by your entire gender against me. I’ll just forget about it and go hit on your friend.

If I express a desire for a sexual encounter and you establish that you aren’t physically attracted to me, I won’t write about the incident in an angry, hate-filled manifesto that blames the complex biological and social factors of the mating process entirely on you. I’ll instead quietly masturbate to the mental image of an idealised fantasy female figure (not an image of you personally). It will be generally enjoyable, but tinged with a hint of loneliness.

If you ever feel the need to express that I am making you physically or emotionally uncomfortable, I will apologise and explain that it was not my intention to do so. I will also do my best to ensure that my public pornography browsing is more subtle in the future.

If you would like to have an intellectual discussion on the role of pornography in society and its effects on the dignity of women, man’s perception and attitude towards women as sexual beings, and/or any other relevant topics, I would be happy to do so. I can’t promise that I won’t have an erection, but if I do it will be because I find the topic both intellectually stimulating and physically stimulating on an abstract level, and not because I am physically stimulated by you specifically. Furthermore, I will do my best to disguise it so you don’t even notice.

If I want to be more than friends, I promise to be open about my feelings rather than hope you will suddenly feel the same way if we spend enough time together. If you don’t share my feelings I will be happy to continue our friendship, and at no point will the term “friend zone” be employed unless it is clearly and unequivocally ironic.

If you’re already in a relationship, I will respect that and wish you both the best, aside from feeling a quiet melancholy ache when I see you express affection for your significant other. I may also idly consider bittersweet what-if scenarios during the occasional long and sleepless night, which I cannot prevent because the vagaries of the human heart are cruel and ever-meandering.

If I feel the need to use a gendered profanity, I promise that the insult will have a non-gendered motivation. For example, I will not call a woman a bitch if she refuses to go out with me. I will call a woman (or a man) a bitch if she or he doesn’t bother to hold a door for me, even though they made eye contact and I was clearly in a hurry.

To my fellow men, I promise that if you are finding yourself romantically successful during a time which I am not, I will not reduce your success and excuse my own failures by implying that you are only finding love because most girls want “douchebags” like you rather than “normal” guys like me. Please note that it is possible I may still think of you as a douchebag, and that this pledge is meant to reflect on the lack of commonly perceived correlation rather than your own personality.

I could go on, but I don’t wish to dominate your equally valuable time. I will simply state that I will do everything in my power to support the cause of gender equality, and that I proudly consider myself a feminist at all times aside from the rare, emotionally trying moments where I pine for the one that got away because I just know I didn’t try hard enough, which concludes with a guilty and unsatisfying ejaculation followed by a period of self-introspection and a reaffirmation of my gender politics.

The Wife of the Innkeeper in Diablo is Unhappy With Their Living Situation

Bron, we need to talk. I’ve tried to be supportive, but it’s time to accept the fact that opening an inn in a town plagued by dark cultists, the undead, murderous goatmen, the angry spirits of our ancestors and demons in service of the Lord of the Seven Hells himself was not a prudent business decision.

For starters, we haven’t had many guests. I’m guessing that’s because being surrounded by cursed ruins and twisted forests overrun by shadow doesn’t exactly scream “vacation hotspot.” And business travel has slowed to a crawl ever since most of this land collapsed under the screams of endless shrieking hellspawn. But I think what’s most important is that the majority of our prospective customers are now part of the shambling army of zombies currently laying siege to our town. I imagine they’re unlikely to be tempted by your “bring in the body of a slaughtered goat shaman and we’ll cook him for free!” deal.

I know, I know, you “anticipated” this. “But think of what we’ll sell to the guests we do have!” you said. “We’ll supply warriors and mages. We’ll arm and armour heroes!”

Well, I don’t know if you’ve taken a good look at the heroes in town, but I have. And I don’t think the eight-foot tall strongman wielding two flaming broadswords forged from Angelic steel that syphon away the life-force of his enemies to fuel his bloodlust is going to have much use for your grandfather’s old wood axe, unless he’s planning to shave with it. And that light leather armour from your stint in the town watch? The one you said wizards would be all over? Yeah, this wizard is surrounded by a raging winter storm that freezes anyone who gets within five feet of him. Which, incidentally, probably explains why Snuffles went missing.

Then there’s the woman who throws jars of poisonous spiders at her enemies while her undead hounds rip them to shreds, and the monk who punches skeletons apart. Should I ask them if they’d like to peruse our dagger inventory? Some of them haven’t entirely rusted up yet!

Not that it even matters if you make any money, because I’m sick of having to beat off swarms of flesh-eating ice bats every time I go to the grocers. I’m sick of losing guests who don’t believe me when I warn them that if they get too close to the tree around back it will set them on fire and then eat their soul. I’m sick of living in a town where the legions of the Hells outnumber us honest, hard-working folk by thousands upon thousands to one.

Remember when I had to hire an adventurer to escort me to my sister’s farm down the road? And he killed over 200 of the Hells’ undead minions, a trio of giant electrified spiders that could summon meteor strikes, and Lord Dunhyld, the Phantom of Anguish, one of the grotesque champions of Azmodan, Lord of Sin? It’s a good thing a horde of imps devoured all his flesh just before we got back inside the gates, or else we’d have had to take out a second mortgage to pay his hazard fee.

And don’t even think of saying that I should just keep in touch by mailing a letter. You know as well as I do that all the postmen have been eaten by wraiths.

I haven’t asked for much in this relationship. But I don’t think it’s unreasonable to want to live in a place where we’re not in constant danger of dying tortuous deaths that will condemn our spirits to the fiery pits of the Hells for all eternity. Also, I have yet to “get used” to the constant stench of rotting flesh and endless blood rain as you claimed I would.

I love you, Bron, but enough is enough. Either we move, or we divorce. I know divorce is a sin in the eyes of the Gods, but considering that we’re woken up every night by the shrieks and moans of the ritualistic murder orgies held by maleficent covens across the river, I think it’s safe to say that the Gods’ eyes are elsewhere.

I know that keeping inn is your passion, and I want to support that. But let’s run an inn that overlooks the tide of a crystal clear ocean instead of a tide of unrelenting demonic evil. Let’s run an inn where you don’t have to demand gold up front in-case the guests are robbed and murdered by bandits. Let’s run an inn where, instead of hosting recitals of ominous prophecies and triage centres that turn into shambling battalions of the risen dead, we host bingo night. No one’s ever lost a limb or their sanity to bingo night.

Oh, and maybe think of a more welcoming name for your new inn than The Slaughtered Calf. Seriously, what the fuck were you thinking?

Internet Job Titles Explained

Blogger: I am a housewife and/or teenager.

Vlogger: I am an attention whoring housewife and/or teenager.

Social Media Specialist: I dropped out of university because I spent all my time using Twitter and Facebook.

SEO Specialist: I can make your content more appealing to Google and less appealing to human beings.

Anything with “Rockstar,” “Jedi” or “Ninja” in it: I work for a company that will be defunct in six months.

Humourist: I’m too pretentious to call myself a comedy writer.

Comedy Writer: I’m not witty enough to call myself a humourist.

Freelance Writer: If the law didn’t stop me I would eat you and put the money saved on groceries towards rent.

Movies Inspired by Internet Ads

He was a desperate young man in your area who had just made a strange discovery about women. She was a single mom in your area who was lonely and looking to get laid with no strings attached. Neither of them wanted a relationship, but a one night stand left them hoping for more. Now they’re torn between enjoying their single lives and getting serious. They weren’t looking for love; they just wanted to Meet Sexy Singles.

When a stay at home mom realised that a single weird food would keep her from ever having to diet again, she thought she had struck it rich. Then her husband stole her secret, the fortune that should have been hers, and her son. Convincing the world that her ex is a fraud won’t be easy, but she finds one hotshot junior lawyer who’s willing to go up against his sharks. Together they’ll win back her money, her child… and maybe even her belief in love. Her ex will eat his words in Eat THIS.

When an average local man discovered the cure to cancer, he thought he’d be a hero. Instead he’s on the run, chased by ruthless killers as he struggles to unravel an elaborate global conspiracy between pharmaceutical companies and hospitals that may even reach the very top of the World Health Organization. He doesn’t know why the medical community wants his cure suppressed, but one thing’s clear: Doctors Hate Him.

Buzzfeed Reports on the Second World War

The 23 Most Unforgivable Military Blunders of 1941

17 Propaganda Posters That Will Make You Feel Feelings

10 Problems Only People In The French Resistance Understand

Winston Churchill And FDR Would Be The World’s Greatest Power Couple

31 Biggest Landmine Fails Of 1943

14 Things That Happened At The Yalta Conference

The Story Of The Battle Of Stalingrad In D. W. Griffith Stills

If All Allied Leaders Were Replaced With Ingrid Bergman

27 Times In 1945 President Truman’s Family Was Cuter Than Yours

319 Concentration Camps That Will Make You Lose Your Faith In Humanity

I Will Rain Destruction Down Upon You Like a Vengeful God, The Source

I entered your bright white fluorescent hell like a lost soul entering a strange and despotic land. I needed new earbuds and I needed them urgently enough to brave your tangled maze of poor choices and suspiciously named in-house brands imported from only the least discerning Chinese factories. Nexxtech sounds like an anime produced by a discount Korean sweatshop animation studio and GnarlyFish like a Phish cover band that the other cover bands look down on. What sane man desires to sully the soundtrack of his life with headphones that make it seem as if your music is being piped through an unusually long air tunnel?   

But amidst the wasteland of electronic detritus designed to take advantage of the ignorant, the desperate and those whose last major technological purchase was a phonograph so they could enjoy the musical stylings of that young up and comer Bing Crosby I managed to suss out some headphones that appeared as though they would allow me to hear my music without simulating the effects of deafness, tinnitus or, somehow, both. And they were only overpriced enough to make me feel like I had been tricked by an experienced shyster, not taken complete advantage of by an incompetent conman who nevertheless somehow managed to play me for a fool. In your Kafkaesque Best Buy that constituted a “deal.”

I was heroically able to complete a transaction with your surly cashier despite the fact that she seemed less intent on taking my money than she was on demanding my email address, as though it were the last piece of the dark ritual required to raise the shambling corpse of Circuit City from a Lovecrafian nightmare realm of dead but dreaming corporations, and not a means by which to send me newsletters for television sales that the Amish would recognise as rip-offs.

I of course also turned down her offer of an extended warranty, despite her pleading assurances that it would give me three years of coverage on everything from water damage to all-devouring plague of locusts. While I realise that you are probably holding her children hostage until she forces enough of these bad investments onto hapless consumers willing to take on the financial burden simply to cease her incessant braying, her dead eyes betrayed the fact that she no longer has any love left to give her progeny. If they are lucky they will somehow escape your nefarious clutches and spend their formative years in an orphanage, or perhaps they will simply be granted the sweet embrace of death instead of being trained to slave away in your call centres, answering questions from easily confused grandparents for what will feel like endless eons.

What seemed like a prudent financial decision would prove to be my downfall, aside of course from the obviously poor decision to offer my patronage in the first place. If entering your store was my Anschluss, declining the warranty was my Stalingrad. That may seem like a tasteless analogy, but I feel it is appropriate considering the quality of neither your electronics nor your service would feel out of place in Pavlov’s House.

I left your store like Lot left Sodom, only had I been accompanied by a wife I know she would have had no desire to look back. But less than an hour later I found myself returning to prostate myself before my nemesis, to grovel in the faintest hope that this soulless harpy would show mercy on a man who was cursing her beneath her breath.

You see, it seems as though your crude packaging is made from two kinds of plastic. One has the strength of mithril and would be better put to use manufacturing bulletproof vests than in safeguarding your products from the orcs that you apparently think wish to steal them. The other kind has the strength of thin cardboard that’s been left out in a rainstorm overnight and then urinated on by a horse that had really been holding it in. That’s how, after spending several minutes trying to penetrate my new headphones’ defences with about as much success as eunuchs have in penetrating women, I sliced through the plastic, an earbud and very nearly my finger. Fierce resistance wasn’t ended that abruptly since the Death Star was destroyed.

While I admit that I am not what society generally deems to be “competent” or “intelligent” I don’t think it’s immodest of me to brag that I am usually capable of opening a package without rendering the product within useless. You don’t see me pouring a glass of milk by running a steak knife through the carton or making an omlette by smashing my fists on an egg carton and collecting the yoke that dribbles out. And yet that is essentially what your shoddy packaging forced me to do.

Under the circumstances I didn’t feel it was unreasonable to ask for a replacement or a refund, in-so much as your cold corporate heart has any concept of reason. Yet my protestations were met with nothing more than repeated statements about how my request was only covered under your extended warranty. Under other circumstances I would have taken this as the company line spouted by an apathetic employee with no desire to risk being fired for breaking protocol. But this employee knew I had erred. There was a glint in her eye, a mocking tone in her voice, a suggestion that I had fallen into a classic pitfall and instead of throwing me a rope she was going to rain down poisonous snakes.

I will begrudgingly admit that you have technically done nothing wrong, at least not in the legal sense. Morally you are doing wrong simply by continuing to exist. But if your reaction to a consumer suffering from a product’s design failures is so robotic and unfeeling that I now assume the term “customer service” is what you use to refer to the handjobs you give each other while recounting this experience then I see little recourse. I am not an angry man. But you have roused a dark part of me from a deep slumber, and soon the only “Source” you know will be the source of your constant suffering. I am that source, my friends. You will sing laments of my coming, and I will make ensure you can hear them only in mono sound.

Thanks For Helping Me Through My Childhood Existential Terror, Mom

I don’t remember how I learned about death. It may have been when my grandfather died, or it may have been when I lost Goldfish, my beloved pet goldfish. I don’t remember when I learned how to not name things like an idiot, either.

But however I learned about it, I quickly became obsessed. The concept of death, of simply one day never waking up because you’re dead, sucker, gripped me with a terror even worse than the fear I associated with class presentations and the constantly looming threat of having a video game save file accidently deleted by some mouth-breathing friend. I’m pretty sure you could have locked me in a room with the sex-offendingest looking guy you could find and I would have been more at ease than I was when I thought about death. At least until I realised that I would probably be murdered after the sex offender was done sex offending. Then I would panic.

At night, when I assume other children were spending the time it took to fall asleep thinking about unicorns or winning the Stanley Cup or winning the Stanley Cup with a team of unicorns, I developed a habit of working myself into a frantic, death-obsessed feedback loop. First I would lie perfectly still and take slow, deep breaths to pretend I was six feet under. Then I would think about what it would be like to stop existing and never exist again, to reach a point where not even hockey playing unicorns who also fought crime and did your homework and were your best friends could save you.

I would imagine going to bed and not waking up, I would imagine years and decades and centuries going by without me, and I would imagine the whole world forgetting that I ever existed. All the while my breathing would get quicker and quicker as the thoughts made me more and more anxious. Eventually they’d overwhelm me, at which point I’d sit up straight and gasp like people do in movies after they have a nightmare, and yes, I’m aware that this sounds like I was getting off to some unusually depressing pornography.

After one particularly panicky instance I started crying and ran downstairs for some mothering. When my mom asked what was wrong I choked out “I don’t want to die!” in-between sobs. I assume her first reaction was to make sure I wasn’t being chased by an axe murderer, but after she performed a perimeter check she gathered me in her arms, rocked me back and forth, and tried to comfort me with words that I’ll never forget. “But that won’t happen for a long time!”

Damn, Mom. Look, I understand that I put you in a tough position. When you’re in the kitchen making tea in preparation for a nice, relaxing night of watching Jeopardy!, tactics for helping your son confront his Lovecraftian existential horror will not be at the forefront of your mind. If I was in your situation I would have either said, “Well then you better get your stupid tears off my shirt and get the fuck back to bed,” or yelled, “Go talk to your mother!” before hiding under the nearest blanket and faking a bout of narcolepsy. I’m proud of you for not panicking and trying to find a Berenstain Bears book that covered the situation. The Berenstain Bears and the Terror of the Infinite Void would really fly off the shelves.

But talk about not being comforting. There were no platitudes about going to heaven or wild speculation about medical technology one day being able to put my brain in a computer or cryogenically freeze me until science invented immortality. Not that I would have expected you to go in that direction, but I like the idea of a parent’s comforting words being loosely inspired by Demolition Man.  

No, what I got was a kick the can down the road, deal with it later mentality, which works well for me as an adult when I’m feeling too lazy to do the dishes, but less so as a child facing the most terrifying thing he’s ever learned about. I understand the strategy, because kids are dumb at time. To a kid, the week before Christmas is an eon. Ask a child to comprehend the seventy or so years it will take for them to become a wrinkled old person hanging out on death’s front porch and you can watch their brains seize up. They understand in theory that it’s really long, but the concept of time means about as much to them as the concept of money. They know it exists and it’s important, but they can’t begin to explain why it’s in limited supply. Incidentally, Mom, you never did give me a satisfactory explanation as to why we couldn’t just make everyone rich by printing lots of money.

Unfortunately, what was supposed to be a message of “It won’t happen for a long time, so worry about it later” was interpreted by me as “It won’t happen for a long time, so you better worry about it constantly until it does.” I’m good at worrying. I do it a lot. If I don’t have anything to worry about I worry that I’ve forgotten something. Or, if I’m feeling meta, I’ll worry about how much I worry. Right now I’m worried that I’m talking about my worrying too much. How’s that for meta?

So I went right back to having my little panic attacks. But guess what? Panicking about death became so routine that it started to not scare me anymore, or at least no more than I was scared of anything else in my life, like French homework or girls. I worried myself into a state of tedium. “Ugh, it’s just another night of fretting about the horrible implications of eternal oblivion. I wonder if we’ll play freeze tag tomorrow?” I worried myself into freedom, and while that’s probably the least inspirational story of someone overcoming their fears in human history, it was good enough for me.

Thinking about dying still unnerves me, but no more than I imagine it does most people. So thanks, Mom, for advice that was far more brutally honest than you probably meant it to be. I’m sorry for forcing you to get philosophical on such short notice. I don’t know if our conversation was the sort you’re taught about after “Where do babies come from?” at parenting classes, but you acquitted yourself well.

Love,
-Mark

P.S. I’m also sorry about the time I rolled my foreskin down as far as it could go while I was having a bath and then called you in to look at my amazing accomplishment. Those were my wild days before I began to fear the cold embrace of the grave.