Friday, January 16, 2015

The Adventures of Karl the Potato, Part I: The Magic Shoe

Once upon a time, there was a potato named Karl. Karl was a very smart potato, which is like a smart cookie, only healthier. In fact, if you were to scoop out Karl's insides, they might have resembled brains... if you colored them and sculpted them and squinted and used your imagination.

Karl's earliest memories were of dirt. In fact, most of his memories were of dirt. Having lots of eyes doesn't really do you much good when most of your time is spent totally underground. He might have been able to see earthworms sometimes if it weren't so dang dark under there. If you're wondering how Karl got so smart when his whole life was spent in the cold, dark, and quiet of hanging out in one spot underground all the time, then remember, Karl was only very smart for a potato. Most potatoes aren't very smart. In fact, potatoes are known for laziness and watching TV. Some of the most ambitious potatoes succeed in eventually becoming french fries.

What made Karl so special was that some of Karl's eyes were actually ears, and after he was harvested from the ground, he quickly picked up on the art of language. Of course, with no mouth, Karl had no way of speaking, but being unable to speak often makes one a marvelous listener. He heard all sorts of discussions, and the market where he waited to be bought was frequented by college students and professors who loved to talk about how smart they were and exactly what made them so dang smart. It's difficult to listen quietly to these kinds of discussions without learning something, and Karl had nothing better to do but listen, so as a result, he learned quite a lot. For a potato.

After Karl was bought, he didn't have as many people to listen to anymore. He tried communicating with his fellow potatoes, but potatoes aren't much in the way of conversationalists. Karl watched as his fellow potatoes were eaten one by one, and he knew one day it would be his turn. But as he waited, he grew more and more bored. Around the time he started thinking he couldn't stand the waiting anymore, he remembered a story he had heard a mother in the supermarket tell her fussing children. The story featured a young woman who called on her fairy godmother, who gave her magic shoes. So Karl wished as hard as he could for the Potato Godmother to come help him. It wasn't long before poof! The Potato Godmother appeared.

As it turns out, Big Bird has a side job as the Potato Godmother. It's not a very difficult job, since most potatoes don't have the presence of mind to summon her. Him. It. Whatever. Karl was as delighted as potato can possibly be! He related to the Potato Godmother the story of the girl with the magic shoes as well as he remembered it (telepathically, of course, since that's the only way potatoes can communicate), and the Potato Godmother asked, "So... all you want is magic shoes? Not a dress and a horse and carriage and so on?"

"Yes yes, just the shoes will be more than enough!" exclaimed Karl eagerly. And telepathically.

"Well golly, shoes are the easiest part of the package! I bet I could make you magic shoes that last well past midnight! In fact, if I did only one shoe, I could make it last even longer!" So the Potato Godmother waved her/his/its magic wand and with another poof! the Potato Godmother was gone and Karl now had a magic shoe!

To be continued...

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Doors that open inward

I keep meaning to post something, but I keep putting it off because I haven't decided whether I want to start a new blog now that I've returned to Alaska or just start writing in this one again. Indecision has rendered me inactive, I'm afraid. I hate it when that happens. So for now, I guess I'll take the path of least resistance and write here.

But what to write? Writer's block is the worst. I hate it when I want to write something, and I'm totally ready and motivated, but it's like the words of half-formed ideas are trying to shove their way out of my head so fast that they clog the way and nothing ends up coming to me. It reminds me of one of the rare history lessons I actually remember from grade school. I think it was my sixth-grade social studies teacher who taught us about some big building or other, I think in NYC, that caught fire. Everyone inside was panicking, pushing and shoving to get out of the building, but the doors opened inward, and the people at the exits didn't have room to open the doors so everyone could get out. Consequently, a lot of people died. I think she said after that, a law was passed saying that certain kinds of buildings had to have doors that opened outward for that reason. Obviously the door leading from my thoughts to my hands opens inward. But if that's the case, then obviously my thoughts can't be that bright, if they aren't even smart enough to just take a step backward so the door has room to open. That's one of the problems with quantity over quality, I guess.

Doors are funny things. I know a lot of writers that contemplate the meaning of doors. Some people like to hypothesize that doors are some kind of magical portal because they can magically get you from one place to another. These people are often high, I think. Doors are just empty space with an outline that holds the wall out of the way. Nothing magical about that. Unless the doorway has been enchanted, of course. You know what is magical about doors? If you close the right ones at the right times, you can keep the dogs from stealing your food.

One time I tried to open a door inward, but I was half-asleep at the time. The door swung open faster than I meant it to, rebounded off my big, clumsy foot, then crashed into my head as I tried to move forward through the door. It kind of hurt. Stupid door. If I had been two people, the one watching it happen to the other would have laughed hysterically, though.