Category Archives: Humour

The Apocryphal Tale of the Octopus Liver

Before we begin, let me quickly introduce my dad…

Panel 1: water bubbling. Panel 2: a man wearing a Greek fisherman's hat emerges from the water. Panel 3: He holds up a sea urchin and says "yum!" Panel 4: Child me is standing on the beach. I say "You're ... going to eat that?" my dad (still in the water) says "The row is a delicacy!" Panel 5: he eats the cracked-open sea urchin. Panel 6: I am horrified.

My dad wore a Greek fisherman’s hat everywhere. My dad cooked squid spinach. My dad was notorious for eating unusual things, particularly seafood. He told us which flowers in our garden were technically edible and snacked on them. He fossicked in rock pools and consumed their contents.

We thought it was excellent. As kids, we showed our appreciation through gleeful declarations of how grossed out we were accompanied by general screaming. He retired the fisherman’s hat sometime during my teenaged years, but otherwise remains as is.

This is the tale of the octopus liver. It happened when I was about eleven or twelve. It is an incident of some contention in our household. There have been denials, arguments, blatant lies.

Older modern-day Dad looking cross, saying: "There was no octopus liver"

But this is how I remember it…

It started, logically enough, with an octopus. We caught the eldritch horror in a net while camping. It oozed through the mesh, tearing it wider, and nearly escaped the eskie. It was gross, horrifying, and absolutely amazing.

Panel 1: octopus tentacles burst from an eskie. Dad is trying to put the lid on. Some tentacles disappear off the side of the panel ... Panel 2: tencales following two children screaming "eeeeeeee!" Panel 3: tentacles following child-me screaming "eeeeeeeee!"

I believe it ended up cooked and eaten. That is generally what one does with caught seafood, but I have no firm memory of it.

That is, except for the liver.

Panel 1: older, modern-day dad looking cross saying "I SAID there was no octopus liver!" Panel 2: Older, modern-day dad looking thrilled at his own cleverness, saying "... because octopuses don't have livers! It was a hepatopancreas! An organ that combines the function of both a liver and a pancreas!"

I remember very clearly because it went into the freezer, and I was in a habit of keeping track of questionable freezer content.

My freezer diligence began a little while earlier when dad killed our excess roosters (we were promised one rooster and four chickens, but we got five roosters), put them in the freezer, and talked often and lovingly of cock a vin (a French recipe for cooking roosters—not whatever you were thinking). I would not eat ex-pets, even if they had been shouty arseholes. An anxious child and a fussy eater (by my dad’s standards), I counted frozen roosters every time we were having chicken anything.

And so, after the octopus, whenever I rummaged in the freezer for ice-cream, I double checked the icy little parcel of liver was safely tucked away.

Older, modern-day Dad looking put out and a bit confused that you don't get it. Says: "Hepatopancrease"

And I waited.

Until one day …

Child-me is sitting on my bed reading, another small child (sister) burst in the door shouting "He's eating it!"

It began.

Modern-day Dad looking confused. saying: "Shelfish hepatopancreases are a delicacy. You can cook it in butter and use it as a sauce. It wasn't weird to try it with octopus."

Which, with hindsight, is an almost plausible explanation. Almost plausible, because in reality he didn’t cook it in butter and use it as a sauce, he cooked it in the microwave.

Panel one: octopus liver in microwave. Panel 2: "BANG" from inside microwave. Liver is splattered all over the inside. Panel 3: from inside the splattered microwave looking out--three kids horrified and screaming 'eeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!'

… Without pricking it first. I added the microwave to my list of Things To Be Anxious About In The Kitchen and quietly avoided using it for a very long time.

But that’s not the end.

Panel 1: Dad at table. Liver is in bowl in front of him and he is scooping it with a spoon. Panel 2: three kids watch, concerned. Panel 3: Dad raises spoon and opens mouth

Panel 1: Three kids watching, alarmed. Panel 2: Dad puts spoon and liver into mouth. Panel 3: three kids watching, nauseated.

Panel 1: Dad is chewing and his expression says he regrets everything. Panel 2: three kids screaming "eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!" Panel 3: Dad smiles, revealing teeth covered in octopus ink

The moral of this story is my dad kicks your dad’s butt, always prick your cephalopod hepatopancreases before you microwave them, and definitely don’t forget to remove the ink gland.

*********************************

First up, a big thank you to my dad for being endlessly interesting and an excellent sport! I’m not sure he entirely understands why I always found this episode so funny (or why his insistence that it was a hepatopancreas and not a liver was so adorabley dad-funny that I worked it in), but he still played along when I asked if he would mind if I wrote (the version I remember) down and showed it to the internet. That’s love.

I’m not sure if it’s necessary to say this, but just in case … my dad is a marine biologist and has passed exams on which rock-pool discoveries are edible and which are certifiable jerks who will stab you with venom* that paralyses your autonomic nervous system, potentially shutting down your lungs and suffocating you. So probably don’t follow his lead in picking up and eating random things unless you also have some sort of relevant knowledge/experience and know what’s what.

If you love my stories and comics, check out my store and my Patreon page. You can support my work and get unique rewards!

And don’t forget you can follow me for updates on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

* That’s right, I know the difference between venom and poison. You may swoon now.

Half a Glass

Optimist: smiling glass half full. Pessimist: sad glass half empty. Realist: Half-glass saying "Either way, I'll get drank." Idealist: Glass dreaming of having ice and an umbrella. Anarchist: cat pushing glass off table.

*********************************

If you love my stories and comics, check out my store and my Patreon page. You can support my work and get unique rewards!

And don’t forget you can follow me for updates on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

Work-From-Home Colleagues

Three panels. Panel one, I walk with my laptop saying "Time to get some work done!" Panel two, I find the cat sitting on my desk chair. Panel three, I work on the couch.

Four panels. Panel one, the cat sits on the couch arm watching me type. Panel two, the cat climbs onto my lap, forcing me to move my laptop. Panel three, I hold my laptop in the air, the cat is curled sleeping in my lap. Panel four, I lean awkwardly to type with my laptop on the couch arm while the cat purs happily in my lap.

*********************************

The untold problems involved in working from home.

If you love my stories and comics, check out my store and my Patreon page. You can support my work and get unique rewards!

And don’t forget you can follow me for updates on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+ and Pinterest.

Halloween Helper

A mummy tries to help someone with lots of shopping bags, but they scream. The mummy picks up something someone dropped, but they scream. Kids scream and run away from the mummy. The mummy is sad. Someone calls out from the bathrooms "Help! There's no toilet paper!" and the mummy looks pleased because he can help now.

*********************************

Here’s the thing. The mummy could be about to say, “No worries! Hang tight while I’ll pop to the store for you!”

He isn’t. That isn’t how this is going to play out at all.  Maybe if someone else made this comic, that’s how it would go. But they didn’t, I did. 

So here we are.

If you love my stories and comics, check out my store and my Patreon page. You can support my work and get unique rewards!

And don’t forget you can follow me for updates on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+ and Pinterest.

Life and Blanket Forts

While building a blanket fort: "The strength of duct tape, the grace of a draped blanket, the comfort of pillows." Sitting in complete blanket fort: "I may not feel like the architect of my life, but I can always make this." Cat jumps on blanket fort and collapses it.

*********************************

So that’s me right now. How are you all doing?

If you love my stories and comics, check out my store and my Patreon page. You can support my work and get unique rewards!

And don’t forget you can follow me for updates on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+ and Pinterest.

Bear with me

Grammar tips from a Proper Writer. When trying to remember if it's 'bare with me' or 'bear with me', it helps to think literally. Obviously, this isn't something you want [me, naked, and someone else undressing]. Unlike this, which is much-- [a bear sits next to me. It looks hungry. It's bloodstained t-shirt says: 'I'm with stupid'] ... wait.

 

*********************************

Disclaimer: a Proper Writer is just someone who writes stuff. You don’t have to pass a comma test to get a license or anything.

If you love my stories and comics, check out my store or my Patreon page. You can support my work and get unique rewards!

And don’t forget you can follow me for updates on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+ and Pinterest.

Amazing Ideas

Three panels. In the first it is night time. I am sitting up in bed. My husband, sleepy, says "it's 3am" and I say "I need to jot down something or I'll forget these amazing ideas!" The second panel is labled "later" and I am looked at my notebook, confused. I say "wut." The third panel shows what is written in the notebook: "Wine!!!! cats, farts and favouritism" also there are scribbles and the drawing of a dinosaur's bum with "rawr" coming out of it.

*********************************

If you love my stories and comics, check out my store and my Patreon page. You can support my work and get unique rewards!

And don’t forget you can follow me for updates on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+ and Pinterest.

Pests

Two panel comic. In the first panel, a kitten has caught a spider and brought it to me. I say, "Good kitten! When you get big we'll never have a pest problem in this house!" Second panel titled "six months later". The house is trashed. The cat is wielding a katana and leaping after a fly.

*********************************

If you love my stories and comics, check out my Patreon page. You can support my work and get unique rewards!

And don’t forget you can follow me for updates on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+ and Pinterest.

Books

Four panels. In the first panel, I enter a room covering in wall to ceiling bookshelves. I'm holding a bag that says "books" on it. A dinosaur says, "Don't you have enough books?" Second Panel: I am walking up a spiral staircase made of books. Third panel: I reach the top and the night sky can be seen through unfinished bookshelves. Fourth Panel (large picture): from outside you see I am standing on the top of a tower reaching up into space. I say "Not yet".

*********************************

Got any book recommendations for me? I love fun and am partial to fantasy, but I’m basically omnivorous. I’m always particularly on the look out for books written by women, POC (esp WOC) and LGBTQIA+ folks.

If you love my stories and comics, check out my Patreon page. You can support my work and get unique rewards!

And don’t forget you can follow me for updates on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+ and Pinterest.

A Case of Shit Bees (Impostor Syndrome)

Do you ever peek at the last page in a book? Sometimes I do. This story ends with me winning first place in a youth art competition.

A big, golden trophy, lit dramatically. Plaques on it read: "1st place!", "wow!!!", "You're AMAZING!" and "Yay!"

I was eleven, quite young compared to some of the other people who had entered. The person who came second was older than me. I saw her face when our names were called, and I think she was disappointed. At least, that’s how I remember it.

The art trophy was the first trophy I had ever won. Most childhood trophies are obtained through sports, and I was not part of any afterschool teams. I had tried this and that, but I was as athletic as a potato with a Netflix account and as graceful as an octopus wearing crocs. My M.O. was to go to one practice, refuse to run anywhere for any length of time, throw the ball in an appalling double-handed underarm, sulk when I was shown better ways to throw balls generally but asked not to do it at all just now because this is actually soccer and we don’t throw the ball in soccer, and then quit.

Unsurprisingly, the art trophy remained the only trophy I ever won.

This story begins with the bee.

I was six. I was sitting on the grass at recess and put my hand on a bee.

Child-me is sitting on the grass. My hand has landed on a bee. I say: "Ow!"

Adult-Me does not blame the bee. It was innocently cruising for pollen when an enormous pinkish monster descended from the heavens and crushed it into the lawn. Despite minimal chance of survival, it put up a defiant last stand. It was pretty much Gandalf facing down the Balrog.

Adult-Me can respect that. Adult-Me knows bees are important. She fishes drowning bees out of swimming pools, plants bee-friendly flowers, and has lived with a hive of angry bees in her backyard for over two weeks so a proper beekeeper could take them to a new home instead of having pest-control kill them immediately.

Child-Me had a different perspective.

Me, wearing a mesh hood-mask filled with bees. Like the "NOT THE BEES!" Nick Cage scene.

I screamed until another kid showed up, and then I made him save me from the bee. It had already torn its stinger out and doomed itself thanks to one of nature’s crueler design flaws, but I wanted vengeance against my nemesis. Children are tiny, self-righteous super-villains, and I made sure that bee ended up as paste.

Child me is standing over a crushed be. The sky is red and yellow, it's all very evil and dramatic. I am wearing a super-villain helmet and saying: "My enemies are nothing but bare feet in the dard, and I am the Lego block they will break themselves on! I will chew up the world and smear it under the desk of the universe!"

Then I went to the teacher to show her the sting.

I hold up my hand with a sting on it to the teachers. The teacher says "Oh, a bee sting" (she does not seem impressed)

It was the incorrect response. I was, clearly, a hero who had narrowly escaped death, and I should definitely get to go home for the rest of the day so I could be nursed back to health while eating ice cream. The teacher was not convinced. I was allowed to go to the sick room and get a band aid, but that was it.

And that’s why, a few weeks later, I drew the bees.

I got chosen to go to a drawing session with an Actual Illustrator of Actual Picture Books. The Actual Illustrator talked to us about capturing the characteristics of a subject, and then gave us some pencils and paper and told us to try drawing something bold and fierce and monstrous.

My time had come to right a grave injustice.

The original bee drawing has, unfortunately, been lost to history. Nevertheless, I have drawn a reconstruction from memory. I think I really captured the oeuvre of my six-year-old self, which I would characterise as overly preoccupied with fitting in the right number of legs.

Some wonky bees. They each have six legs, although there is barely space for them.

When I showed the Actual Illustrator my bold, fierce and monstrous bees, I watched his face very carefully. I knew there would be a moment of enlightenment in which he would see bees as I saw them. He would understand the trauma I had endured. He would celebrate my heroic fight with the bee. He would tell everyone in the room about my amazing drawing.

But that moment didn’t come.

Child-me holds up my bee drawing. The Actual Illustrator says, "Oh. Hah! Bees? That's not really-- You know what? Good job"

Worse, I could read the truth on his face.

Close up of the Actual Illustrators face. Instead of features, it has the words "Your bees are not good enough"

And the Actual Illustrator went off to admire some older kid’s drawing of a friendly monster. A friendly monster. A monster who was not bold or fierce, like my bees.

The Actual Illustrator is giving a thumbs up to a kid holding up a drawing of a friendly mosnter. In the background, I am wearing my super villain helmet and radiating fire-coloured rage.

But all of that—the certainty, the confidence, the self-righteousness—must end at six, because I don’t remember ever feeling like that again.

There’s a thing called Impostor Syndrome.

It looks a lot like modesty, but if modesty was dosed with nuclear radiation and went rampaging through downtown Tokyo. It’s when you struggle to process your achievements, downplaying them as good luck, just regular hard work, or not important compared with your failures. It’s when, deep down, you can’t believe you deserve success or recognition or even compliments, and that other people think you do just proves there’s been some big misunderstanding. It makes you feel like an impostor, and you live in fear that Scooby-Doo is about to show up, rip your rubber mask off, and reveal the fraud underneath.

A hand is pulling off my super-villain helmet and smug face. Underneath I am regular-me, but with "draws terrible bees" written on my forehead.

And it’s very common. Most people experience it at some point in their lives.

Realising is the first step. Apparently, it’s normal for people to hear what it is and immediately have a lightbulb moment as they recognise it in their own behaviour. But I didn’t.

When I first heard about Impostor Syndrome, I thought it was for people who were objectively amazing and just couldn’t see it. I knew I was not objectively amazing. And if I wasn’t objectively amazing, then beating myself up about it wasn’t maladaptive behaviour, it was just being realistic. Healthy, even. I thought it kept me in my box and stopped me reaching too far and making a fool of myself.

It took me a long time to realise that not only did I have it, but that I had it so badly that my denial of it was moulded from 100% pure weapons-grade Impostor Syndrome. And I still—still—can’t quite get past the notion that it’s not for me, that I don’t have the right to the term, that Impostor Syndrome is for kids who draw friendly monsters.

So I’ve started calling it a case of shit bees instead.

Literally a case of shit bees. An open suitcase filled with bees that look like the poop emoji.

… not like that.

I am sitting while a doctor takes me temperature and listens to my chest with a stethoscope. There are growths that look like shit bees on my face. I am saying: "...and giving me compliments! They must not realise I have no relevant qualifications and am just making it up as I go along! They'll figure it out eventually..." and the doctor says: "Hmmm ... sounds like shit bees to me."

Okay that’s ridiculous too. But there’s a reason for that. Bear with me a moment.

My shitty bee illustration was the first failure I can remember, and it became the first weapon in the arsenal of evidence I used to beat my achievements to death. There have been other things since, but it started with the bees.

It was a fantastic weapon.

So I’m not putting it down, I’m just changing targets.

I am standing in the middle of a swarm of shit bees, shouting "Fly, my pretties!" with glee.

Because it is ridiculous.

All of it, but me in particular. That I cared so much about the bees, that something so silly could erode my soul, that not being ‘good enough’ by some nebulous and ever-changing standard even matters.

I can’t take my impostor-thoughts seriously when I think of them in terms of shit bees, and when I can’t take them seriously, they don’t unravel me so much.

I’d love to tell you that thanks to my shit bees, I never struggle with Impostor Syndrome anymore, but that wouldn’t be true. It’s helped me realise that the face under the rubber mask is a rubber mask too, but I’m still not sure I know what my real face looks like.

Maybe I don’t have one. Maybe no one has one. Maybe I’m a Mission Impossible style babushka doll of masks, a swarm of shit bees in trench coat. Turtles all the way down.

And maybe that’s not so bad.

But by the time I was eleven, I had misplaced my super-villain helmet. I didn’t know about Impostor Syndrome, let alone have the awareness to name it and fight it. I certainly didn’t know that most other people had it too, tucked neatly away behind their perfect friendly-monster drawings.

And so, a story that began with a bee ends like this.

Five years after my shit bees, I won a youth art competition and got a trophy that someone else wanted. At long last, I had drawn a friendly monster instead of shit bees. I took the trophy home and put it on a shelf in my bedroom, the way all the other kids put up their trophies for football and netball and soccer. I looked at it every day.

A brown trophy with a golden shit bee on top. Plaques say: "Shit bees tho", "you didn't win on merit, you won for being 11.y.o.", and "boooooo" There are stink lines radiating from the trophy

The last page of another person’s book can’t tell you the whole story.

*********************************

Do you ever experience Impostor Syndrome? If so, how do you deal with it?

If you love my stories and comics, check out my Patreon page. You can support my work and get unique rewards! 

And don’t forget you can follow me for updates on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+ and Pinterest.