Monday, April 5, 2010

Ivy Donegal's Restorative Household Cures

Folksy remedies for a variety of common and obscure complaints, but mostly those experienced by noted hypochondriac Miss Ivy Donegal herself. Enjoy.

Complaint: Angst

Symptoms: Low growling, ambivalent anger, desire to point out the ineptitudes of others

Cure: Blogging


Complaint: Intense Angst - of the type that could crush small children with its mighty jaws and make grown women incredibly annoyingly whiny and sad

Symptoms: Excessive crying, the consumption of one or more boxes of kleenex within a single day, a desire to run away to a deserted island near Alaska so that sufferer will no longer inflict self on other people, only bears.

Cure: The drawing of angry, juvenile pictures on paper using a large, blunt writing implement - most often a red-coloured Sharpie. Scrap-booking. Rest and replenishing liquids.


Complaint: Hunger

Symptoms: Venomous wrath, growling of stomach, light-headedness, mild feelings of nausea, and in some individuals a desire to eat things, particularly delicious foods.

Cure: Eat delicious foods, and then remember to eat things more often in order to continue living...which should not be a hard thing to do, but apparently it is.


Complaint: Chronic Heartburn

Symptoms: A burning feeling in one’s chest or throat, frequent upper respiratory infections, and a hoarse voice upon waking in the morning (due to erosion of the vocal chords by excess stomach acid).

Cure: Copious volumes of Peptobismol, and a stubborn resolve to not give up foods one loves, including chocolate and Diet Coke, even though such foods certainly make the heartburn worse. Later on, a tracheotomy, and/or replacement of the vocal chords with one of those creepy voice boxes common among cancer victims and veterans of Vietnam. If anxiety is present, treat with chocolate and Diet coke. Repeat.


Complaint: Premenstrual Dysphoria

Symptoms: Crying, laughter, more crying, unimaginable rage, the desire to throw things out of windows, feelings of whimsy, and an intense hatred of all things stupid, but especially stupid people. An awareness of symptoms and a belief that the sufferer has gone completely batshit crazy are common, both within the sufferer and those in her immediate vicinity.

Cure: The realization that this is a symptom of premenstrual dysphoria, and that is will pass, is often helpful for both the sufferer and her family. If premenstrual dysphoria is confirmed, the sufferer must consume one entire New York style cheesecake, partially frozen, within the shortest possible timeframe. Repeat as necessary.

Aside: Many women have noted the healing powers of James Cameron’s "Titanic," but I would caution against frequent use, as many doctors fear that, like antibiotic-resistant bacteria, future dysphorias will evolve to become resistant to James Cameron films, and that such an outbreak could lead to widespread death of our very souls.


Complaint: Unbearable Lightness of Being, also known as Atheist’s Remorse

Symptoms: A sense of sadness and/or emptiness accompanying a sufferer’s realization that God does not exist, that dead things are actually dead, and that this life is all that there is. Many sufferers experience recurrences of Atheist’s Remorse around the time of major religious celebrations. An interest in personal culture and an expressed desire to be Jewish are very common symptoms, as are feelings of anger and sadness towards one’s religion of origin, or all religions.

Cure: It is important to realize that this is a chronic condition, although symptoms typically get less severe over time and in some cases disappear completely. Bouts of illness should be treated with logic, the retelling of the story of Jonah - who was eaten and regurgitated by a pious whale - and, in severe cases, a viewing of the movie “Drag Me to Hell”...because if you don’t believe in God, then you can’t be cursed by a gypsy and burn forever in Hades. Amen.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Why Must We Keep Axing Chickens?

I am sobbing like a baby or, more accurately, like a very sad adult.

I just finished reading, “a complicated kindness,” a book I tried to tackle a year ago, only to putter out on the twentieth page. This time, it was effortless. I picked the book up yesterday, and today, between napping, playing with puppies, and re-watching Dr. Horrible, I finished the entire thing. Three hundred pages. Less than thirty hours. Not bad for the world’s slowest reader.

And the crying? Is it for joy at my overwhelming sense of accomplishment? Um, no.

The book follows an intelligent young woman coming of age in a Mennonite community in Manitoba - the sort of Christian town that puts my own stoic upbringing to shame. It follows the central character, Nomi, doing the sort of things that people do when they’re trying to hold onto contradictory paths - getting headaches, smoking pot, wearing too much eye makeup and listening to loud music on repeat. Her older sister left town, three years prior, following a similarly painful conversion to apostate-hood. Shortly thereafter, their grief-stricken mother was excommunicated and disappeared. The plot continues.

Present day, I’m crying out of anger, at my own Christian childhood. I’m crying at hellfire and damnation, and the brilliant minds who teach this, every day, to young children who have no concept of metaphor or choice. I’m crying at the slow and agonizing feeling of ripping out my own roots to make life make sense, even if it means I might one day burn forever in Hell. And I’m crying sobs of relief at the simple fact that someone understood what I was feeling, at least enough to write a book about it, even though I’m not a Mennonite, just Pentecostal.

My mother read this book, last year, and I’d asked her about it, and she had made vague comments about the practice of shunning and how it seemed so severe. And now I think of her, reading it, and attributing all the young girl’s problems to shunning, to the specific practices unique to the Mennonite sect, or to her drug use, or to her mother’s adultery. Maybe it was premarital sex. That was the problem. Not Christianity, or brimstone, or obedience by fear.

I think of the options available to good, Christian girls, and the inevitability of teenage marriage, babies, and teaching Sunday school. If you don’t get married, you become a missionary to convert the heathens of foreign locales. This was so close to being my life. The thought makes me physically sick.