|rubberducky's Journal | Survivor: Space |
My name is Jeremiah J. Irons. I’m the illegitimate son of an oil Tycoon, and a Baptist mother. I'm also a former Toxic norn, (i.e. a drug-junk food addict), but by sheer force of luck, and will and dedication and the help of the rusted gears on my mountain bike, I became the developer of JUICE THIS: A JUICING RAW FOOD EMPIRE ™. Kale, spinach, mangoes, bok-choy, boot straps, you name it, I juice it. And I enjoy my cup of delicious frothing sunshine every morning on the patio of my Colorado home while I look at the passing coyotes and moose and deer and wild cockatiels. And believe you me, these super-power-micro-nutrients pack the one-two-punch. Yee-haw. Howdy there. In short I suppose I’m something of a fruit-nut-paleodiet-o-lithic guru, and I have cured everything from Asthma to Zenophobia by the power invested in me (and my investment), by the power of Mother Nature’s unlimited and infinite soothing and healing powers and a tiny baby carrot the size of my pinkie. You want the laying of hands? I’ll give you the grinding of rinds. I’m ready to take this rodeo into Outerspace.
| 8/18/2013|| 2|
So, in the immortalized words of the GPS system I bummed in Chinatown, "I have arrived." I wake up in a strange room with nothing short of a killer headache that I can attribute indirectly or directly to nasal congestion. I wish I brought my NETI pot, so I could rinse out my nasal passages with saline solution, but all I have on me is my juicer and fruit dispenser, as well as my unlimited store of positive thinking. Then I hear the voice of an angel, a purring, pixelated angel fluttering through the intercom. The Hands voice. How ironic. I was told for years to talk to the hand but I never imagined it would sound so sweet.
OK, now I'll be the first one to say it. This disembodied Hand sounds sexy, in a gravel-pit-lavender-and-cigarette-smoke-smote-in-chili-powder-kind-of-way. She says she is going to supervise me. Sounds like a promise. Nanny-Hand can have me on Nanny Cam for as long as she likes, her Holy Handness of Handresses. The rest of the message from the captain and his henchman is completely boring and quite frankly sounds a little dramatic, a little toxic. You got to watch out for emotional vampires. They make mention of some kind of threat on board, no doubt a pathogen or a contagion or some pathogen-carrying creature, but I think they have completely the wrong attitude. Getting sick is a choice, you know. I choose not to get sick.
So I take a shot of wheatgrass with a lemon-rind chaser.
And get to entering my information on this hunking piece of computer-ish technology. I don't do computers. I do nature. It takes me a little while to enter the information onto the keyboard, because I type with my pointer fingers.
Username: J. Irons
Species: (Former) Toxic Norn, now a picture of perfect health
Mother: NMF (may she rest in peace)
Father: NMF (may he rot in ****)
My fingers are sticky from the juice. Sticky fingers, stick keys. Puns are fun. I lick my fingers and wipe the keyboard off with my thumb, dry it off with a little corner-made-hankerchief of my polo shirt.
Then I lie down on the bed. Its basically a metal slat. If you asked me, this year's theme is essentially Survivor-Budget. But the room also has a certain zen appeal. I heard that the old monks of Gaitu would lay down on slats of bamboo for months at a time to increase spine alignment as well as celestial communication. Its basically a way to mainline the Gods. So I decide to turn this dismal scene into an opportunity. I lower myself onto the bed, and I can feel my back straighten out gradually, and a little kink I got from my recent mountainride in California iron itself out. From here, I can see these empty shelves. Rows of empty empty shelves. And you know what I see? Potential. Lots of potential. I am going to practice my tricep extensions with those shelves, maybe do some vertical pushes and inclines later, impress that empress-of-a-hand with a handshake if I ever see her floating in the corrider.
The Hand, man. She's a stone-cold fox.
I'm about to take a nap, when I look up, and through the ventilation system, I see some sort of orange substance dripping steadily down. It lands on my lips. Tastes like....funky papaya.
Either there is a monster on this ship that is bleeding or dripping orange goodness out of its orifices, or there is a fellow juicer on board.
Which is not cool.
So not cool.
The juice is my thing.
Note from rubberducky: I am typing this on a very small cellphone so my journals will be short until next thursday, when I arrive back at home. Bear with me, please! =)
| 8/24/2013|| 1|
Dreams. Illustrious dreams, real-time vivid, wherein I do menial tasks but they are in colors brighter than real life. Right now: Hot shower. Use the conditioner, VO5 strawberries and cream. Am upset that VO5 strawberries and cream have been discontinued. The HAND is in the shower with me, kind of undressing in sign-language. Her nails are painted in a fancy French manicure, with a purple base and hot pink tips. VO5 strawberries and cream wafts through the air. There are purple bubbles on the wall that bleed iridescent blue. I can feel my pulse in my temples. I wrap myself up in Hand’s warm and supple hand body, and she squeezes me gently. Then harder. Then harder. Then she is boa-constrictor with a feathered boa wrapped around her throat. I turned around and look into her hot-pink-blinking-nails, and she is same old hand. So familiar. too familiar. I hear a voice over the intercom whisper into my ear: “SILLY RABBIT--TRICKS ARE FOR KIDS."
I hear a voice over the intercom whisper into my ear:
"SILLY HOBBIT--YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT.”
I wake up again with a headache worse than the previous headache and distinct electrical currants blaring through my brain. Brain zaps. These are familiar zaps, little micro-pseudo-seizures any drug addict or prescription drug addict who has been on a serotonin-reuptake inhibitor for any length of time will tell you about. It feels like someone is tinkering with the curtains, letting light flash in and out of the room. But of course there are no curtains. Been here before, done this before. You don't need to be in the presence of a physical window for you to experience a new view.
So, I used to be a prescription drug addict. Yeah. Toxic norn.
Or was me.
(Self-affirmation for the day: That *was* me)
The question is: why I am feeling this way now?
I blink my eyes, try to clear my head, focus my eyes on the ceiling. The ventilation slat, the steady drip-drip-drip of orange goo. Another drop falls upon my lips, and I lick them. They are dry. I feel a currant of warmth surge through my body like honey has been poured down my spine, and something in my brain clicks and is assuaged. My brain is this sponge that just soaks this stuff up. The zaps go away. The vision restores itself.
Well then, I say out loud to nobody in particular.
I think I am addicted to goo. Already.
Now, I would be pissed off—genuinely seething—if I wasn’t always so positive, and if the goo didn’t feel so good. Leave it to me to fall off of the proverbial wagon in space. But the goo feels like a warm hand, a warm hand squeezing me gently, holding me gently, squeezing a bit harder…
I get up. My back kills, but I feel the pain pulsing out of it slowly. So much for uber-straight-spine alignment= instant super highway to the gods. I look at myself in the reflective surface of my bed. My eyes look hollow, and dark circles, bluish bags puff up underneath them. A familiar look. Seems like my beard has grown a bit (how long have I been asleep?), and looks like I shaved with a saltine cracker. A familiar look. Speaking of which, my throat is dry like I've eaten too many saltines without water, and my breath tastes like my tongue looks: greenish coating with some weird white bumps close to my uvula. A familiar look, a familiar look, a familiar effing look.
I wish to god I hadn’t been here before in this hallway of Deju-vus. Was it the clinic in Malibu? The mental hospital in Reno? The halfway house in Boca Raton?
I make some of my juice. It steadies me. I decide what to do. What option does a drug addict have? You either:
1) Find the source of your next kick.
2) Avoid the source of your next kick.
One takes you to heaven, one takes you to hell, but I’ll leave you to decide which is which and what is what and where the angel-feathers lie and where they don’t. Seems to me that both roads lead to the same place. Which in this cracked-out-spaceship-of-a-space-case is:
The ventilation system.
Now, I know, as contestants in this game called Survivor, and in this game called Life, we are supposed to be heading towards some sort of external place or motivation like a planet. But I’ve always been of the mind that one has to turn inward before they can turn outward; one needs to explore the cosmos inside before you put a flag on the moon. Surely some of you out there have read a little Walt Whitman: “One world is aware, and by the far the largest to me, and that is myself.” And right now, the ventilation system, well, it’s more than the internal cosmos of this whole ship, it is the lungs, it is equivalent of the mitochondrial furnace of a primordial cell, it is a metaphor for the brain I am trying to steer now and the seat of the soul that resides in this internal clockworkings. So I’m not going to journey out and abound right now. I’m going up and in. This, too, is worth discovering.
I stand on the bed. I’m a tall cuss. I try to pry the ventilation slat off with my finger nails. Obviously, won’t budge. This may be Survivor: Budget, but it seems that this lego-starship-of-a-vessel has been put together with some premium super glue. Then it occurs to me: The Breville juicer. I’ve got a fruit-shoot on there with a serrated edge that can pry this baby for sure.
But first I need some liquid energy.
I take a shot of wheatgrass.
Then I get to work. I finagle, I push, I pull, I jimmy, I shimmy, I shake. Finally the thing pops off, and a sting of goo is attached to it like a string of cheese on a piping hot piece of pizza.
And like the stringed cheese on a piping hot piece of pizza, I eat it. Mouth wide. Funky papaya. Tastes good.
I keep the ventilation slat underneath the bed (who knows: could be a good weapon in the future: these things are heavy), and then tap into my inner parkour skills and spring from the bed into the ventilation system, which, I must admit, looks like the inner workings of a honeycomb, covered with goo. Then I do an army man crawl forward, occasionally licking the goo as I make headway.
Want to feel like God? Sit in the ventilation system. As I move around, I can peer into a number of different rooms underneath me. Most are empty. One has a summer hat, or Derby-esque floral hat in it (could be the queen of England?) Not my taste, but I’m sure it cost a pretty penny. But one has—and I could be mistaken here—the distinct smell of tea, just wafting out of it like the frankincense vespers in a Catholic service.
If there is one thing I would like to add to my juice, it would be tea.
I kick the ventilation slat, and fall onto the bed with a clatter. There are two teabags right there for the taking. I haven’t really met the other contestants yet, so I’m not sure exactly what miscreant or mister or mistress these belong to…or whether said-pally is willing to share. But I’ve watched the movie The Departed enough times to know that if you want something, you’ve got to reach out and take it. So I place them in the pocket of my designer jeans (which are now of course stained with goo), and pop back up into the ventilation system.
I study the packets in the orange bioluminescent haze of the ventilation shaft. Someone has scribbled Orange Goo tea on the makeshift label, but I am going to call it Orange Goolong tea, after my favorite blend: Chinese Oolong, the dark and twisted sun-ripened tea the monks of Gaitu call Dark Dragon tea.
Speaking of dark dragons, I heard the announcer is somewhere up here. Maybe I’ll meet him. Maybe he or she knows the way to the goo source. Maybe the announcer is the head of this whole show, is the wizard pulling all of the strings. Maybe I am the announcer? Maybe the Hand is the announcer? Maybe I am the hand and the hand is me and we both announce together? Maybe I am this whole entire ship suspended in space and obviously heading nowhere in particular? MAYBE THIS WHOLE GAMESHOW WAS ORCHESTRATED BY MY ENEMIES TO GET ME TO FALL OF THE WAGON AND LOSE MY JUICING EMPIRE?
I keep crawling.
And when I do: I find a room—dare I call it a headquarters?—filled with gelatinous sacks the color of amber, all dripping goo, hanging like chrysalids from every which way. Some are torn open, as if some drooling infant has haphazardly plopped out of it. Some are swollen. Some are smaller, look like tiny fruits hanging helplessly. The whole place is buzzing. I stand up and my brain wobbles; feels like a dip in blood pressure, or some sort of contact high, but I swear to god, when I do, these sacks appear to be conscious of my arrival, and without lips or eyes or even teeth, appear to be smiling.
Welcome, brother, they say without saying a word. We understand you.
So many thoughts right now.
| 8/25/2013|| 1|
Buzzing. Buzzing. I’ve only ever heard buzzing like this white static noise when I’ve been sitting too close to the television. It sounds like chit-chat. I walk into this hive-of-a-main-metaroom, and it feels as if I am pushing through jello. J-E-L-L-O. The air, "its alive." That’s what Bill Cosby used to say, and he was a damn fine actor, even in commercial television, if I may say so myself.
These gelatinous sacks, they vibrate slightly. I can see the stomachs in some of the pumping, wriggling, moving back and forth like they are digesting some barely visible matter, a smattering of purple darkness radiating at the belly. I poke one. It pokes me back, without moving. I can detect the vague silhouette of one of the inhabitants, and it looks like the sack that is bearing it—though some silhouettes look startingly norn-like.
“One time I took the car out when it was raining and I was blasted, high as a floating gadget. My windshield looked like crumpled cellophane. I didn’t see the dog, but more importantly, I didn’t see the girl walking the dog,” a pod says.
“From a distance, I watched my nornchi fend for herself like a little wildling. She pushed everything. She pulled everything. I don’t know if she is dead, or if she is still wandering around on the top of an elevator-less hill the rain. I don’t even know her name,” another pod says.
“I once crushed a bottle of aspirin and snorted it just because I could and now I can’t smell anything. No apple pies, not cinnamon soy lattes, no fresh picked geraniums. If I can’t smell, I can’t remember anything either. When will they come up with braille for the nose, please tell me this? When will I get offered disability checks for a failed nose, please tell me this? There are such thing as invisible illnesses, you know, ” a pod growls. "Invisible illnesses are a national epidemic!"
“Who is the new guy?” one high-pitched voice asks. I feel myself shrink, my head pop turtle-like into my shoulders. The gelatinous pods stare at me eyelessly with a singular focus.
“Pod-food,” one says quietly. “Poor fool. Another one of us, wouldn’t you say?”
“I can’t say,” one pod says sadly. “I have been afflicted with congenital indecisiveness. I try to make a decision, but instead I end waffling back and forth so much I end up collapsing in on myself and passing out. That is why I eat the goo. I still don’t make decisions, but I am confident and comfortable with my indecisiveness.”
“God bless the goo,” another pod says quietly. “God bless us pod-foods.”
“Welcome, Brother,” one pod, the oldest, Boss-Man Pod, it seems like, reiterates. “You have spectacular pants. You keep yourself well. We could use one of you.”
“I remember when I had spectacular pants and kept myself well,” one pod sighs, noiselessly. “Now I’m just fat. I can feel it. It’s the goo. Its all this goo.”
“God bless the goo,” another pod says. “I haven’t felt my finicky spleen in years.”
“How did you find us, Brother?”
“I bet he Toucan-Sammed it,” an uppity pod says. “I bet he used his nose. I can’t use my nose. Tell me when will they invent braille for the nose---tell me when they will invent the equivalent of an up-ramp for my olfactory system--”
This place was brimming with negativity, all of these negative ions, and negative energy, coated in the soppingly sentimental warm gelatin. I could feel my positivity ticker thumping loudly in the center of my chest. It was in desperate need of fruit rinds, but still powerful. It seems to me I could blast all of these pods to Hades with one glaring self-affirmation, or I could join the pity-party and throw some proverbial darts into the milieu. The air is sweltering. I try to put my finger on the trigger of my heart and am about to open my mouth when—
“You don’t want to do that,” the Old Boss Pod says. “You’ve come too far to do that. Besides, do you think your self-affirmations and cake-and-balloon-filled-blood will work here? We know real positivity when we taste it. Your blood is triple-O-negative. You have a pack of goo-tea in your jean pocket, we can smell it. And you reak of goo. You're a good looking guy, but right now you look like what the British call shyte. The bags under your eyes resemble fish bladders and would serve a boxing gym well. Not to mention, you can only hear us because you vibrate on our own low-frequency. So save your faux-positivity for someone besides us pod-food.”
I stumble backwards and stutter. I’m not often speechless, but these pods, its like they know me, its like I’ve just walked into a back alley AA/NA convention in Ft. Lauderdale and all of the old timers are smoting their cigarettes on each other’s stories and drinking coffee at incredible rates and inviting each other out afterwards for private engagements like family pool parties and other unbearable events and are otherwise digesting each other, incestuously. But I’m not as perturbed by it all as I could be; there is synthetic warmth in my heart, and I smile sleazily, maybe a little stupidly, a little forced-self-assuredly like I do at the Annual San Francisco Health Food Convention when I am parked in a booth next to a man who will pickle anything, no questions asked.
“My name is Jeremiah Irons,” I say. “I’m the con of an oil tyke—I mean the son of a snake oil typhoon—I mean the son of an oil tycoon, and the illegitimate child of Baptist mother. I am the king of JUICE THIS: A Rawfood Juicing Empire, and I often ride my bike out in the beautiful--”
“So many freudian banana slips!,” a pod giggled. “You’ve got goo all over your face.”
I wipe my mouth, and continue.
“I believe in the power of juicing—”
“I believe in the power of judging,” one pod sighs. “I would believe in the power of juicing if I could smell the juice. I heard most of the benefits of super-concentrated nutrients are actually psychosomatic and in populations of people who cannot smell, the effects of high-dose vitamins like Vitamin C and A-OK are decreased by half.”
“No, I,” I begin, but I am starting to sweat, and feel the tremors coming on hard. "I have not seen that literature--"
“I heard you have it hard for the H.A.N.D,” one very frank and brusque pod asks. “I accessed your dreams when you drank my juice. It was me that was slinking above your room a few days ago, but I've crawled back to my pod because I wasn't...ripe enough. Anyway, do you like all disembodied body parts, or do you make special allowances for metaphors or acronyms that are not indeed real and are not to be taken seriously?”
“Yeah, do you have a metaphorical metaphor-metabolizing problem? Do you put too much stock in signs and inanimate objects? Or do you have imaginary relationships because real relationships would be too painful? I heard that’s the first step of becoming pod-food.”
“What is pod food, exactly?” I ask.
“You’re half-way there, Brother. You should know,” the Old Boss Pod chuckles, chinlessly. “But I suppose the only way to really know—to really-really know—is to step in a vacant pod and find out. Put on the zoot-suit. Get zooted.”
“In one of those?” I ask, pointing to a deflated pod that looks like an old, neglected robe tossed on the bathroom floor.
“One of those.”
“Are you all former toxic norns like me?”
“We are all presently toxic, yet not all norns,” a husky Grendel pod coughs and gags. “Hrmph!Ack! Hrc! You’re really presumptuous and unpolitically correct aren’t you—hrmph-imagrundel—I would have karate-chopped yer ask-me-no-more-questions if I met you in a bar in Barbados--Hrmph. Erm- imagrund--”
I motion forward, but stop in my tracks.
“Creatures like you and I are more useful inside of the auspices of the pod, then outside of the pod,” a sincere sounding pod says. “Trust me. The ship needs danglers like us, for reasons we'll explain later. And we need more recruits…”
“Yes! Yes! more recruits! And tell him what happens when we morph!” a pod with sinuses squeals.
“Yeah, tell him what happens when we hatch! When we transform!”
“And ruin the surprise?” The Old Boss Pod smiles, liplessly. “I wouldn’t dream of it. Besides, its the kind of thing you just have to experience...”
I walk over to the deflated pod, and stick an arm in, try it on for size like a used coat, then kind of back up suddenly like a spooked schoolhorse that has seen a snake in the grass. Some nearby pods laugh and giggle, buzzzzzing in jovial agreement.
“Psssst.” A tiny pod whispers. She’s the size of coconut and at the base of my feet. “I heard through the grape-vents that you have to reach a planet. Its pretty tough out there. Once you transform, you won’t look like you, and the other contestants on board might try to kick you or squish you, but you’ll be pretty impervious, able to slip through small spaces, and covered in gelatin so thick no one will be able to touch you.”
"Sounds a little scary.”
“Its scary, but its beautiful.”
“You’re so small. Why are you here? What made you pod food?”
“I should think it obvious,” she sniffles. “I am a crab-apple, or an apple-crab. I forgot which. My exoskeleton was not tough enough. I’ve spent most of my life eye-level with everybody else’s feet. Toes are ugly. They give me anxiety. They are always judging me.”
I nod my head understandingly.
“Your tasseled loafers are pretty though,” she adds, wincingly, charitably. "Though you might want to consider patching up the sole."
I chew the inside of my mouth. A little boil emerges, and I chew that harder until I taste blood.
“I just don’t know how I feel about all of this.”
“Once you become pod-food, you won't need to know how you feel about all of this," the tiny pod whispers. "I'm not completely transformed yet, but I am caring less and less."
"Won't you miss yourself?"
"Don’t worry—I've been told there’s a way back,” the tiny pod whispers. “Its just that nobody has figured it out yet.”
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