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Lame Animal Totem: Millipede

I know we’d all love to have a porcupine that jumps around and seems to flee from invisible foes as our spirit animal, but that’s just too bad—you can’t always get what you want. This month’s Lame Animal Totem is the millipede…specifically the kind captured by ring-tailed lemurs, who squeeze the millipedes until they exude a poisonous liquid. The lemurs rub the millipede venom on their fur, then stagger around with glazed eyes, foaming happily at the mouth. They carefully release the millipedes back into the wild to continue doing what millipedes do best: producing more venom and having [...]

How to Tame Your Fears

Fear is a terrible sensation, one we never, ever want to feel. How lucky we are to live in a time and place where it’s so often possible to avoid the things that scare us most: violence, disease, natural disasters, dangerous animals, and, at least until the very end, death. Instead, we get to sit around on our widening behinds watching television shows…about violence, disease, natural disasters, dangerous animals, and death.

Hmm.

I noticed a long time ago that fear often comes packaged with enthrallment. We don’t look away from accidents or guns; we give them our rapt attention. This tendency [...]

Lame Animal Totem: Tardigrade

The Tardigrade is a truly wondrous creature: an eight-legged microscopic beastie also known as the “moss piglet” that can go without food or water for more than ten years, live in the vacuum of space, stew in boiling water, and keep waddling onward, good as new.  Tardigrade energy is the totem of people who just will not freaking STOP, the spirit animal of all who believe everyone needs to hear about their gruesome dental history, their endless arguments with ex-spouses, the exploits of their moss-piglet children.  Which reminds me: Tardigrade is also the totem of Things That Aren’t As Cute As [...]

Make the Madness a Game

This holiday season, I won’t get into the knicker-twisting anxiety and exasperation that once plagued my holidays. No interpersonal conflict, no traffic jam, no decorating disaster will get my goat. I may get all the way through January with my goat entirely ungotten. Is this because I am an enlightened being? No. Is it because I am a patient and loving person? No.

It is because I’ll be playing Bingo.

If you’re in the Tribe, you’re probably familiar with Dysfunctional Family Bingo. The rules are simple: before the holidays, make or download a blank Bingo form (click here to download the [...]

Lame Animal Totem: Gophers

Gophers are dirt-brown rodents with tiny eyes who hoard food in their large, fur-lined cheek pouches, bite aggressively when threatened, and use their hairy tails to feel around when they walk backward through their subterranean tunnels. In other words, they’re just like your Aunt Helga. (Remember Helga? She used to come over a lot when you were little, before she went to prison. She taught you to chew tobacco.)

If, like Helga, you have the Gopher as your totem animal, you like to undermine others and back out of commitments at the last minute, by the hair of your tail. [...]

Lame Animal Totem: Bony-eared Assfish

There is a creature swimming our oceans that is called Acanthonus armatus. But, perhaps because Acanthonus has the smallest brain-to-body weight ratio of any vertebrate, it prefers to go by its more familiar name, the bony-eared assfish. I did not make that up.

You can know that Acanthonus armatus is your animal totem if you’re swimming around subtropical waters and you hear yourself call out, “Whoa, Mabel! Get a load of the bony ears on that ass fish!” Listen: fish don’t have ears, and you don’t know anyone named Mabel. Now, I know that if the bony-eared assfish is your [...]

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