Posts Tagged ‘zombie apocalypse’

Sometimes you have to take a vacation. From everything. Usually you’re allowed to plan such vacations. You need to request the time off from work, clear the kids’ calendars, buy the tickets, pack the suitcases. When you get wherever you’re going, you turn off the electronics, throw on the flip-flops, and chill out with your favorite beverage next to your favorite person.

Occasionally such vacations are forced upon you. Family emergencies. Accidents. Major depressive cycles. Zombie apocalypse. You don’t get to plan for those – they just happen, and you simply have to ride them out.

Sorry for not being around these last two months, but that forced vacation thing hit me. My absence started as a simple lack of planning and time management as we prepped for, and then went to, one of our historical war weekends at the end of May. It was a lovely weekend, too. Overcast, cool, with occasional light rain and drizzles. My kind of weather. I slept well, we had excellent sales in our merchant booth, we visited with great friends, and we came home exhausted but happy.

I did have a minor mishap as we were packing up to go home. I was carrying a bundle of camp trash to the dumpster when I stepped in a camouflaged gopher hole. If you knew my history with wars and gopher holes (I’ve broken both ankles at various events this way), you probably wouldn’t be all that surprised that I managed to find another one. But it’s a long way down when you’re as tall as I am, and a hard landing to boot because I’m carrying so much extra weight. The left ankle screamed as it was twisted, the right knee bruised and swelled as it made impact with the hard ground, and the left elbow went for the all-of-the-above option as I finished my topple. Don’t ask me how I managed to do that left-right-left thing. I think it has something to do with gravity and chaos theory, but I’m no physicist.

Thankfully, there didn’t seem to be any serious damage. Just some sprained joints and a bruised ego. I hobbled around, taking care of business as best I could. I cleaned up our camping gear from the war, I did laundry (lots of laundry), updated our business records, paid bills. The hubby and I went to our annual check ups at the doctor’s, where I refused the recommendation for a second blood pressure medication, mainly because I’m a stubborn idiot. I got new glasses (I can see! Well, better anyway. Still not fully corrected. Additional options are being explored). And somewhere along in all that, the fog closed in. A black, unrelenting fog that left me adrift in a sea of crushing exhaustion, fiery body aches, and virulent self-loathing.

Depression is the Cthulhu of emotions. It’s a little of this and a little of that, combined with some of this other stuff, and overall an evil sumbitch that sucks the life out of everything it touches. It’s not just feeling sad. It’s not just something that I can “snap out of.” It’s not all in my head. It’s a biochemical shit-storm that turns an otherwise intelligent human being into a drooling crybaby who’s only thought is “I suck.” Nothing can be accomplished because nothing is worth accomplishing. Nothing is worth the effort of even trying, least of all me.

I couldn’t write. I couldn’t do anything creative. All the usual voices in my head disappeared, replaced with the constant mantra of self-hate. The only desire I had was to crawl up into a little ball in the dark and just disappear – forever. Just turn myself off and be done with it all. I hid a lot. I spent an inordinate amount of time in bed because I just didn’t have the strength or the will to do anything else. When I wasn’t there, I was at the computer, hiding in my fantasy games or watching hour after hour of videos on Hulu. I was incapable of doing anything else. I didn’t cook. I didn’t clean. I didn’t get out of my pajamas. I’m not even sure I showered. Much of the time is lost behind a black veil of murk.

It took a chunk out of my life. It’s only been in the last couple weeks that I’ve been able to catch glimpses of little patches of blue in that otherwise stormy sky. I’m slowly creeping out from under it. I’ve done a couple small things creatively – I stitched up some lavender sachets, and played with beads to put together several scissor fobs. I even jotted down a couple notes for a short story idea. But it’s an unrelenting struggle. Every day I wonder what the hell I’m thinking, trying to start a writing career at my age. Each positive thought I generate is countered by a dozen negative reasons why none of it will ever matter. Who am I kidding? I claim to be a writer and yet it’s been months since I did anything to support that claim. No new words on the page, no queries sent out, no contests entered, no submissions e-mailed. I don’t even have the obligatory cat mascot right now. What a loser.

Yet, despite all that, I’m still here. I’m still trying. You should, too. Don’t believe those evil voices in the dark – they lie. Believe me, I know how hard it is. And sometimes you just have to close the blinds and crawl into bed and ignore the world for a while. But don’t do anything more than that. Hold on until you reach the other side. It’s a fine line we walk, those of us with mental illness. Constantly bobbling to one side or the other, desperately flailing our arms to keep from falling. And it’s a merciless battle to keep doing it, year after year after year. Keep doing it anyway. Keep working on getting the right balance of meds. Keep going to therapy. Keep talking to friends and family. Keep exercising. Keep eating right. Keep looking for the triggers. Keep doing SOMETHING to fight back.

Say it with me: it will get better. It will get better. It will get better…

Because it’s worth the fight. So are you. And so am I.

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Sleep is a wonderful thing, as long as you can get some. Supposedly, as we get older we tend to need less sleep, but that doesn’t seem to be the case for me. I’m still off-line for that nine to ten hours a shot that I was back in high school. Longer if I’m having a bad headache day. Which seems to be all the time anymore.

I’ve made several attempts over these last few “self” employed years to get on a consistent daytime schedule. My husband is up at the butt-crack of dawn to head off to his bruiser of a job and it just seems reasonable that his dutiful wife cleave to the same schedule so she can be the domestic goddess and have dinner waiting for him when he arrives home.

Okay, you can stop laughing now.

While most nights I do cook dinner – it does seem a fair exchange since he’s been out dealing with the nutjobs known as humans – I’m hardly the stereotypical housewife. Even that word – housewife – is an archaic annoyance to my ear. Yes, I handle the dishes and the laundry. Occasionally I even vacuum and dust. But that’s because I’m the one at home, not because I’m the woman. If our positions were reversed, my husband would be wearing the frilly maid’s outfit carrying the feather duster when I came in from the cold, cruel world.

Sorry. You probably didn’t want to see that.

Anyway, these last few months have been challenging in the sleep department. Though I have the new prescription for the post-detached retina vision, we haven’t had the money to get the new glasses. Every time we turn around it seems something else more important comes along to demand what few cents we have. You may think that getting new glasses is pretty important, and in the general scheme of things, you’re right. But when the choice is new glasses or fuel for the only vehicle that gets my husband back and forth to work, or new glasses vs. utility bills, well, you can probably understand why I’m still sitting here with an eyestrain headache.

Being a life-long migraine sufferer, my body has basically one response to any kind of head pain: shut down. I escape into something resembling sleep. But it’s erratic. I’ll be down for three or four hours, then up for anything from two to twelve hours, then down for twelve hours and up for two, down for four, up for six, etc., etc. Really hard to maintain any kind of schedule when you’re fine for a couple hours and then get hit by that dart from the big game hunter.

And even when I am “sleeping” I’ll wake up several times for various reasons, or no reason at all, so it never seems like I’m getting a full straight batch of time. Or I have really intense, detailed, bizarre dreams: the zombie apocalypse happens while my husband and I are at one of our historical events, and I’m stuffing loads of embroidery supplies into my back pack while my cats sit on my shoulders or run around my feet and my husband is loading ammo into something that looks like a cross between a bow and a sub-machine gun; aliens have attacked and I’m leading the resistance and trying to figure out how to escape from the skyscraper we’re trapped in that is now morphing into an old Victorian mansion that has money stuffed in the cushions of the couch but we can’t leave now because the party isn’t done and I have to find my husband; I’ve suddenly manifested superpowers but have to take a running jump to fly like Ralph in The Greatest American Hero and my telekinesis blows out the headlamps of a guy I’m mad at but then the dragons are trying to shoot me down and I land in a refugee camp where I’m looking for a bathroom but the only one I can find has its porcelain thrones at the ends of the arms of one of those spinning octopus carnival rides.

Yes, I’m well aware that I need professional counseling…

If it’s any consolation, it’s not any better when I’m awake. That’s why I’m a writer. And even though I have done very little with my current projects as far as putting things into words on the computer, I’ve actually accomplished quite a bit of problem solving for those projects. There are many times when I wake up and can’t get back to sleep because my brain is in overdrive. I’ve cleared up a couple issues I had with several of the characters in my current novel, which has also helped me figure out more of where that monster is going. It’ll mean a significant re-write of the 60K words I’ve already done, but, hey, I got nothing but time, right? And I’ve doodled with several short story ideas for the collection I’ve talked about e-publishing, which has given me an overall theme for it as well. I’m feeling pretty good about where I’m going with both projects, even if I’m way behind my original time line.

And so what if my sleep schedule doesn’t match everybody else’s? The only person I’m beholding to is my husband, and I make sure he’s taken care of. The only other thing I need to be concerned about is that I’m as productive as possible while I’m conscious, given the visual limitations I’m dealing with right now.

I spent a lifetime trying to do things the way other people told me they should be done, and it just didn’t work, and I just wasn’t happy. Now that I’m doing things my way, for me, I’m experiencing a lot more satisfaction with my life. So I guess the whole point of this meandering rant is, it’s your life, find what works for you.

And what works for me right now is another nap…

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In my constant effort to avoid actually accomplishing anything, I spend an inordinate amount of time browsing the Internet, reading all sorts of memes from the right and the left on Facebook and watching videos of everything from dancing cats to epic fails on YouTube. Usually it’s all nothing but time wasters, but every now and then something sticks with me and I end up going back to it several times just to make sure I saw it right or didn’t miss anything, or sometimes just because it makes me feel good.

Recently I ran across a video of Michael J. Fox on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, during which Michael was talking about living with Parkinson’s and his attitude toward life. You can see it for yourself here. If you’re any kind of fan of his, or have spent any time whatsoever watching the news or talk shows or reading his books, you’re already well aware of his positive outlook despite his challenges. So it wasn’t really new for me to hear. But for some reason it really stuck with me this time.

As a chronic depressive, positive thoughts are a rare bird in the bush of crazy that is my mind. It’s not that I’m consciously creating the negative, hopeless, self-loathing things that inhabit nearly every moment of my life. In fact, I constantly have to fight against them, forcing logic and reason into the forefront when anxiety and OCD tendencies are running amok. Thankfully there was a time when my insurance actually paid for counseling sessions as well as the meds, so I have some tools I can use in the everlasting fight for my sanity.[1] One of those tools is to focus on the good things on your life. In the beginning it can be hard to recognize what those are, but over time and effort it becomes a growing list. Since I’ve been Mrs. Crankypants these last few entries, I decided that today I need to let that go and look at the good things I have and get back into a better head space. So here we go:

1)   Husband – For most of my life, I figured I’d never have one of these. Being bigger, stronger and smarter than most of the guys I knew made it hard to get a date. I was 39 when this big lug of a blonde finally convinced me he was worth my time and I haven’t been happier. He is truly my partner, confidante and cohort-in-crime. He supported me without question when I told him I didn’t want to go back into an office job anymore, and was going to stay home and actually try to get this writing thing going. He’s my rock, my hero, my battle-brother, my knight in shining armor, and my best friend. If I had nothing else nice to say about my life, he could make it seem like a picnic in the park.

2)   Family – I actually like most of my family. I have too many friends who are estranged from parents or siblings, and even my husband was more relieved when his mother passed than sad. But as a kid, my family didn’t have a lot and being in the military, the only constant was each other. Sure we’ve had our disagreements, but most of them we got over, and the ones we didn’t we just don’t talk about anymore. And since I didn’t have my own kids, I have to stay on good terms with my nieces and nephew, because they’ll be the ones deciding what happens to me when I’m completely senile.

3)   Friends – My husband and I are very private people and have a bad habit of not letting others in, metaphorically speaking, even when we could really use the company. We care deeply about the people in our circle and would do just about anything for them if asked, but tend to not let them see what’s going on with us. We have the attitude that we “don’t want them to see us like this.” But there have been a couple occasions over the last few years where we’ve been forced to ask for help because there was just no other option, and people stepped up for us. It made us realize that we’re not alone in this world. And we also learned that we have a pretty bitchin’ team for the coming zombie apocalypse…

4)   Schedule – I am my own boss. I don’t have to subscribe to someone else’s idea of what my day should contain and when. This is especially nice since I’m a night person. All those years working the 8-5 office grind wore on me in more ways than just all the annoyances from the bosses and co-workers. Now, I get to be on my body’s normal vampiric circadian rhythm, in bed about dawn and up in the early afternoon, all without having to set an alarm. I do what I want when I want, and any deadlines on me are those I decide for myself. That, folks, is true freedom.

5)   Creative Ability – I can play more than a dozen different instruments, compose music, write fiction and non-fiction, do needlework and weave at a level some seem to think is pretty astonishing, design my own patterns for needlework and weaving, do respectable drawings, and can even color inside the lines. These creative things have been easy for me all my life, a gift that I often neglect to appreciate.

6)   Health – There are those who know me that might wonder about this one, given that I can’t see past the end of my nose, have terrible tinnitus and frequency loss, had titanium knees installed, suffer from migraines, carry A LOT more weight than I should and, of course, the depression. But those are things that have been with me most of my life, and that I have largely adjusted to in one way or another. Even as my old, fat self, I’m far stronger than the average person, have pretty damn good reflexes and endurance, and make my doctor crazy when he looks at the scale and then looks at my near perfect blood work. Already I’ve lost a number of friends that were my age or younger even, to heart attacks, stroke, aneurisms, and I just keep on ticking. We’re long-lived in my family, and I plan on terrorizing the world for some time to come.

7)   House – Yeah, it’s in a geographic location I’m not too thrilled about, but the house itself is pretty good. It’s nice sized, has some features I really like, and keeps me dry. It’s my haven, my sanctuary from the cold, cruel world, my fortress of solitude. I’m not at the whims of a landlord who couldn’t be bothered to care beyond that monthly check. I can put nails in the wall, paint things chartreuse if I really wanted to (and could convince my husband), can have pets, and share it with a really cool roommate. Owning your home gives you a security you just can’t have any other way, and that helps keep me calm on so many levels.

8)   Companion Animal – There’s all sorts of studies about how pets can help ease stress, but anyone who’s ever had a pet doesn’t need a study to know the benefits. Right now we’re down to just a cranky old cat, but he’s a great character to have around. Mostly for comedic relief. He makes more noise coming down the stairs than our 60lb. dog did, and is about as graceless as a cat could be. But he also walks on the treadmill with me, tucks himself against my back when I’m not feeling well, and insists on helping me with whatever project I might be doing, usually when I’m right in the middle of the most important part that I really can’t screw up or the whole thing is screwed. Nothing like a 15lb. cat in your lap when you’re trying to be productive. But there’s also nothing like petting a soft, warm, purring bundle of anti-stress when the world has been mean to you.

So these are some of what I’m thankful for, the good things in my life that make it all worthwhile. I’m going to still have my days when the depression is beating me mercilessly about the head and shoulders, but these will help me fight back. It won’t be easy. But it will be worth it.

© 2014   Cheri K. Endsley   All Rights Reserved.

[1] Maybe someday cognitive therapy will be taken more seriously, but as long as the public at large, politicians and even the medical community just want to throw pills at mental illness, or, at worse, don’t want to throw anything at it at all because it’s “all just in your head and you need to get over it,” then people like me will continue to struggle. Get educated, people. It could mean life or death for somebody you love.

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My husband and I are two very independent, solitary creatures. We don’t do the party thing, or just about any other kind of social thing, besides our activities in our historical group. And that has been extremely limited over the last couple years due to a soap-operatic variety of bullshit thrown at us by the numerous gods we somehow pissed off at some point. For the most part, we’re okay with just the two of us. But lately I’ve come to realize that if the zombie apocalypse happened on a weekend, we’d never know until my husband went back to work on Monday. And even then it might take awhile to notice, given some of the people he works with.

I had that thought as I was steaming about a nastygram we received from the city regarding our yard. It was the second time in as many months that our local bürgermeisters had slapped their mighty Yuppie-Nazi paws on us. The first time was for parking one of the vehicles on the front yard, or, in their language, an “unimproved surface.”

That happened while my husband was in the hospital. We had all three vehicles to get off the street due to the street sweeper. Since I wasn’t going to the hospital until the afternoon, I parked one of the cars on the front lawn. I came home late from visiting him, exhausted and stressed and worried, and didn’t think anything about leaving the car in the yard. I’d just move it the next day. Having spent a good chunk of my childhood in the mid-west, I thought that parking a car in the middle of your front yard when you were out of driveway space was no big deal. In fact, in some places, if there WASN’T a car parked on the lawn, it meant Bubba Jim Bob was off fishing or hunting somewhere and there would be good eats when he came back.

So when I came out the next day to head back to the hospital, and saw the ticket on the car, a few choice words came to mind. It’s MY yard, dammit! Who the hell am I hurting by parking there? We had been very careful to not buy a house under control of a Home Owners Association because we didn’t want to be nit-picked to death about how long our dog’s hair was, or what color our begonias were. But, more concerned about helping my husband recover than fighting city hall, I paid the ticket and made a mental note to not park there again.

And then they struck a second time. As part of our own personal sequestration plan, we decided to stop watering the lawn. Given that most of Southern California is technically a desert, the amount of money we were spending a month to keep the yard sort of green was just stupid. Enough to keep fuel in the truck for a week of commuting. We felt that getting the husband-unit back and forth to work was far more important than having a patch of putting green for the neighbor’s rat-on-a-string to shit on. Plus both the State and the County encourage water conservation efforts, so we had the additional feeling of pride for accomplishing our civic duty.

Apparently, the City did not agree. Now, admittedly, a few weeds had sprung up because of some recent (painfully brief) rains, and the PNO’d vehicles in the driveway were sporting some decent cobwebs. But, in looking around the neighborhood, we were hardly alone in our wanton disregard for picture post card perfectness. Again, I had a few choice words, which my husband embellished upon. You might have noticed that we don’t really cotton to the idea of being told what to do. Yes, he was a Marine and I grew up in the Air Force, so you’d think we’d be used to it. But we aren’t contracted to the city – the city is contracted to us. The term “public servant” comes to mind, so we have a hard time taking orders from people that should be taking orders from us.

But we finally calmed down and looked at what we could do. We whacked the weeds, trimmed the bushes, swept off the spider webs and cleaned up the edges. I even repotted a couple plants that desperately needed it. An exhaustive afternoon, which left us sunburnt and overheated, despite sunscreen, hats and plenty of water. During all that I was composing a response to the city. I had a hard time keeping the blatant snark out of it, but finally managed to come up with something that we both felt was administratively correct, with just a small, satisfying hint of “fuck you.”

One of their reasons for dinging us was because of their “concern for the health, safety and general welfare of residents.” That sentence in particular set me off, so, of course, I had to respond:

“…while you claim to be ‘concerned for the health, safety, and general welfare’ of the residents, we find it distressing that after eleven years of uneventful occupancy in our house, you chose to send us a nastygram about a change in our property instead of inquiring as to our well-being. If you had bothered to take a more compassionate approach, you would have found out [what a crappy couple of years we’ve had]…”

And that’s why I was thinking about a zombie apocalypse and us being, perhaps, a little too alone. We’re just this side of being that elderly couple that dies and nobody notices is missing until the weeds have grown higher than the house and the mail is stacked up in the street. It made me realize that we need to do more about building a stronger social network, maybe even do things *shudder* outside the SCA.

It also made me realize that maybe we ALL need to take a little more time and look outside of ourselves. We as a culture have become too consumed with me-me-me and buried ourselves in our electronic toys. We have forgotten that we exist in a co-dependent relationship with six billion others. Somewhere there is a balance between getting everyone to play nice together and allowing for individual freedoms. I don’t see where having a vegetable garden, a sculpture garden (both with friends that have also been cited for their yards), or a temporary vehicle garden causes anyone a problem. Stop drinking the Kool-Aid and start thinking for yourself. Let’s bring some reason and common-sense back to the world.

In the mean time, the flying monkeys and I will be sitting on the hood of the car parked on the front lawn waiting for Big Brother to strike again. Maybe I’ll even shake my cane at him.

© 2013   Cheri K. Endsley   All Rights Reserved.

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I’m walking through some sort of encampment, part SCA war camp and part zombie apocalypse refugee camp. On my back is a beat up ALICE pack, out of which my cat is poking his head and complaining loudly. In one crooked arm I’m trying to keep control of a bunch of Really Important Things, which turn out to be cross-stitch projects. Over my other shoulder is a spiffy Barrett light .50 sniper rifle. I’m wearing a skin-tight purple outfit, which is alternately a wetsuit or a flight suit, depending on the light, while trying to find a clean bathroom in an area that looks like the bad side of a landfill.

Welcome to my dreams.

My eldest niece was on Facebook the other night, complaining about her own weird dreams, when I whipped out the one above on her. She now wants to share whatever it is I’m taking, I guess because her weird dream didn’t quite measure up. That made me start thinking about just how weird is weird, because, sadly, what I described in the opening paragraph is pretty normal for me.

A couple years ago I wrote a piece about my dreams (“Zombies In The Outfield”) that explains the variations I have, so I don’t think I need to do that again. Lately I’ve been dealing with a lot more nightmarish types than usual. Friends meeting gruesome deaths because of something I did or didn’t do. Being lost, alone and injured somewhere while being chased by zombies/aliens/screaming toddlers. When I finally get to where I can ask someone for help, I’m ignored, or, worse yet, refused. The really bad ones are when I’m dealing with all that other stuff and then realize my husband and I are no longer together, and I have absolutely no back up.

Intellectually I try to remind myself that the dreams are just a reflection of the stress I’ve been experiencing in the real world. The more stress, the more neurochemicals are fubarred, the more crazy I get. And crazy is just the price I have to pay for the really cool stuff I can do, like music and writing and stitching. The anecdotal evidence has supported the idea that brilliance and insanity are closely related for thousands of years, all the way back to the time of Plato and Aristotle. It’s only recently that science has had the tools to take a more reasoned look at the issue.

In her 1998 Roeper Review publication (“Creativity, the Arts, and Madness”), Maureen Neihart, Psy.D. reviewed the historical theories and then touched on studies searching for a link between crazy and creative. The initial indications were “…a more frequent occurrence of certain types of mental problems in those who are exceptionally creative.”  Which is what the anecdotal evidence had been saying all along, but scientists need empirical data before they can confidently make a decision. The question that wasn’t answered, though, is WHY?

Well, in a more recent article (“The Unleashed Mind: Why Creative People Are Eccentric”) Harvard professor Dr. Shelley Carson may have found that answer. She posits that “cognitive disinhibition” may be one explanation for why crazy and creative tend to stick together. We creative people just filter the world differently, using more information in different ways than originally intended. Sometimes that usage leads to extreme weirdness, like being convinced your cat is really an alien in disguise sent to spy on you. And sometimes it gives you that leap of thought out of the box and into that momentary flash of brilliance, which gives you the answer to life, the universe, and everything.

With fMRI and EEG testing – among others – we can now take a look directly into the brain as it handles different tasks. The scary thing about this is how similar the results are between test subjects that are creative, but non-schizophrenic, and actual schizophrenics. Proof that crazy and creative are just different sides of the same coin. And while the thought processes seem to be more in keeping with a schizotypal personality, many creative people – especially writers – suffer from depression, a different set of issues all together. Or so the specialists would like you to believe. My hypothesis is that all the higher functioning imaginary stuff creative people do in their minds just causes them to be even more disappointed with what they have to deal with in the real world.

So here I am, a living scientific proof that creativity and crazy are closely related. It’s a fine line I be walking, that’s for sure. I had a great aunt who was an accomplished painter, and spent the last twenty years of her life never leaving her own house and yard. I don’t often even make it into the yard most days, so she’s already ahead of me in that department. I guess I’m the crazy aunt for my generation. All I need is a weird old house full of cats and a nervous canary and my legend will be complete. Yeah, it’s my own little world, but it’s okay, they know me here…

© 2013   Cheri K. Endsley   All Rights Reserved.

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The zombie apocalypse has already started. Most of you probably haven’t noticed yet because it is far more insidious than anyone could have possibly imagined. The shambling flesh eaters of Hollywood are just the cover story to throw us off the truth.

I noticed the first signs a few years ago. The blank expressions on the pale faces of the afflicted. The awkward steps as the newly turned tried to maneuver through the world. The loss of their ability to communicate in full sentences. I realized then the plague was already well under way. It was just a matter of time before we all succumbed…

As I dug deeper into my research, I found that the infection hadn’t started because of some CDC accident, or aliens, or even the likes of “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo.” And the vector for spreading this new mutation was like nothing I had ever seen. It wasn’t airborne, blood borne or even in our water. No, it was far worse, far sneakier than even my demented mind could have thought up. The latest incarnation of the zombie infection is spread via electronics.

You read that right. Whoever told you that viruses couldn’t be spread from machine to human obviously has never read any science fiction. The zombification of the Western World started with the invention of the television. There were some minor advances after that, but the next big jump in infections came with computer gaming. I’m sure all of us know someone who has been sucked into the alternate universe of an electronic game. At first it seems like an addiction, with the hapless infectee playing more and more to attain that high associated with leveling up or unlocking achievements. Then the poor sap looses all sense of time, doesn’t bother to bathe, eats sporadically, refuses to make eye contact. I know you’ve seen someone like this, some pale, smelly, grunting zombie incapable of connecting to the real world any longer.

From there the next major level of the infection went to smart phones.  Now the zombies can shamble around the streets of our hometowns, blank eyes locked on tiny screens, only the thumbs of their hands able to move anymore. They are oblivious to everything around them. They walk into traffic. They stumble into fountains. They trip down stairs. Our cities are filled with the Walking Dead. Go ahead, try to talk to one. You’ll see what I mean.

Sadly, I have many of the very early symptoms myself. I check the weather with my app, instead of looking out the window. I play Solitaire with electronic cards. I can’t even remember my own mother’s phone number anymore. If it weren’t programmed into the phone, I’d have to look in Contacts.

And my grip strength isn’t what it used to be. My fingers just don’t seem to work as well as they used to, while my concentration lacks any… SQUIRREL!

You see the problem. The only real cure is to get rid of any and all electronics in our lives. Some hardy, dedicated survivalists might be able to pull that off, but the vast majority of us are trapped. Even Zulu tribesmen out herding their cattle have smart phones these days. Doomed with the rest of us.

It is possible to resist, if only to delay the inevitable. But the longer we can delay, the longer we can maintain our independence, the longer Skynet has to wait before it can terminate us. Or we get plugged into the Matrix, depending on which version of zombie hell you’d like to follow.

Just because the phone makes noise doesn’t mean you have to immediately respond. That’s what They want you to do, to become little Pavlovian dogs panting at Their every whim. It’s okay to turn it off sometimes. Yes, really. And use full sentences. That really bugs Them. The fewer letters you use, the less you have to think, and the more infected you become. If one of your friends starts writing in thumb-speak, you’ll know it’s close to the end for them. When “Why are you sad?” becomes “Y r u :(” just go ahead and plan their wake. Their time as a fully functional human is over.

Read real books. I mean the heavy paper things in which you have to manually turn the pages, with that indescribable smell of wonder when you open it. Get a fountain pen and really nice paper and practice your handwriting, with every curly Q and dot and cross, listening to the metal nib of the pen softly scratching across the page, feeling the texture beneath your fingertips. Go for a walk in the park. And I don’t mean the virtual kind on your treadmill, but a real one, outside, with the trees and the sun and the sky and the pollen and the dog poo. Stand at the bay and smell that moist, salty smell of the fog rolling in. Careen down a mountain on a sled and revel in the cold snow making its way into your boots. Paddle a kayak down raging waters with slippery fish jumping all around. Go to the theater and laugh or cry or cheer. Hold hands with that special someone. Dance.

In our world of ever-growing technological advancements, we have inadvertently created a monster. We are losing touch with what truly makes us human and becoming more dependent on the machines as we ourselves become more robotic. It’s our fault. But resistance is not futile. We may all be infected, but we don’t all have to succumb so quickly.  Hopefully we can find a balance before our children no longer read and write, or even lose their ability to speak because they are wired directly into the computers. The more brains we can keep in our control, the less the zombies will have to eat. Only you can prevent zombification.

I think it’s time to go camping now…

PS: This was supposed to have been published last week. I did indeed go camping, and had this article all drafted and ready to go before I left. Because I’m trying to maintain a regular schedule, and because my little OCD self couldn’t bare the thought of publishing EARLY, I planned to make the final post from my sleeping bag in the wilds of Arizona. Once there, I and my smart phone and the WordPress app didn’t seem to be agreeing on what I wanted to do, despite having a decent connection (wi-fi is everywhere, it seems), so I gave up, cringing at my failure to provide my followers with their weekly dose of madness. Then I realized the hypocrisy of my real crime, succumbing to the electronic demons even as I rail against them. Me – 0. Zombies – 1. *sigh*


© 2013   Cheri K. Endsley   All Rights Reserved.

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