Daily Archives: February 15, 2012

Once more into the breach, once more

For those who didn’t know me in the black days known as “the Nineties,” I used to be a writer. Specifically, I used to write nonfiction for a plethora of science fiction magazines, culture zines, weekly newspapers, and other gathering posts for society’s detritus. After about 13 years of little recognition and less pay, I came to my senses and quit nearly a decade ago. I refer to my two temporary returns to standard writing as “relapses”, and it’s because of writing that I have sympathy and offer support for recovering heroin addicts. Writing is a nasty, foul, vile little business, and the only reasons I can see for wanting to go back to dealing with science fiction publishing are either addiction to the subject matter or a level of masochism that usually entails bunny suits, overflowing toilets, and six-foot sandstone strap-ons lubed with habanero peppers. (Now’s about the time I’m told by friends “Tell us what you really think.” That’s when I tell them about how the only way I got paid for one of those relapses was by threatening to out the personal E-mail addresses and phone numbers of every executive at SyFy if I didn’t receive my check, and they understand why I’d sooner get a hot Clorox enema than have to deal with that again.)

Strangely enough, though, I don’t have that level of hatred toward writing about horticulture. I have no delusions of reaching the heights of a Gertrude Jeckyll or even a Neil Sperry in garden writing. For me, it’s pure relaxation, spiced with a thrill coming from sharing new wonders with friends. And then there’s the cross-pollination with people in other endeavors: I haven’t found the right opportunity for another article about plants for Reptiles magazine, but the response to last year’s article on carnivorous plants in the vivarium gives me an itch to try this again.

Then there’s the newest addiction: dark gardening. And so now I start as the new gardening columnist for Carpe Nocturne magazine, starting with the Spring 2012 issue. Arioch, Issek, and Nyarlathotep help us all.

Fear and Loathing in Bronchitis

The period between the end of January and the end of March is one of my favorites, and if you can’t hear the sarcasm dripping off every last word, it’s because you don’t have your ear close enough to the computer screen. One of the absolutes about weather in Texas has been “If you don’t like the weather, hang around for five minutes, and it’ll change,” and this year has been a beaut. One day, clear, sunny, and ridiculously dry. Ten hours later, below freezing, rainy, and a relative humidity perfectly suited for growing mushrooms. Mix and match these traits and add a few more (dust storm, snow, asteroid strikes), and this pretty much sums up the end of winter in North Texas. Start out the day in heavy coat and boots, and be prepared for shorts and sandals by the time you get off work.

For me, if the weather would stay consistent, I’d be fine, and I’d settle for shaving the insides of my lungs every few hours to keep the moss under control. Instead, almost without fail, having to go back and forth from indoors to outdoors leads to a visit from my old friend, bronchitis. Some visits, he brings his girlfriend viral pneumonia, and they spend the next few days trashing the environs before they finally get bored and move on. I regularly joke that “any idiot can cough up blood, but coughing up urine takes talent,” and that’s actually a fair assessment: I know I’m getting better when the end of a five-minute coughing fit brings up a nice tracery of arterial blood within the usual five kilos of yellow-green phlegm in the bathroom sink.

In one way, I can actually thank bronchitis for the reason why I have no interest whatsoever in mind-altering substances. I used to have a much worse time of things when I was a kid, and I was actually surprised to discover in first grade that my schoolmates didn’t have full near-death experiences when they were ill. (The first time I had actual pneumonia, I didn’t believe I was sick, because I wasn’t looking down on myself lying on the couch every few minutes.) I don’t need exotic pharmaceuticals to see floating Nixon heads flying off the television and intoning “Sacrifice…sacrifice…sacrifice…”, because I get worse things than that simply by closing my eyes and trying to sleep. If anything, I overdose on NyQuil just to keep the fever dreams under control. It’s bad for my kidneys and liver, but it beats watching dead babies crawling on the ceiling.

If there’s any good that comes out of all of this, it’s that April is going to be spectacular. After the amount of epoxy putty currently forming in my lungs, it had better be.