I’m a little bit of an Alien fan. Just a little, right? So it was with tremendous excitement that I sat my eager tail at the local Regal Cinema to check Ridley Scott’s latest masterpiece. I saw a lot of things in that movie—some of them I understood, some of them I have no freaking clue what the hell they were smoking—but the movie is essentially about getting things started.
It’s about the stuff Michael Fassbender holds on his finger and says ominously, “Big things have small beginnings.” It’s about black goo.
It’s about the catalyst. The thing that makes it all happen.
You might not know this but I write a little bit. And that little bit has fallen to a teeny tiny bit of late. More like a trickle of words. It felt like the rushing river of literary productivity that runs in my head had dried up, its surge stopped by psychological dams. I was stuck. I’ve said it before, I don’t believe in writer’s block—at least not with me—and godammit look at what happened. I got blocked. Mentally constipated. Nothing would move.
When I was a freshman in college, I ran into a little intestinal trouble. I developed an ulcer in my duodenum (a word The Boy brought home from Health class)—the place where your intestines come together. It hurt when I ate so I did the most logical thing my 17-year-old mind could conceive: I stopped eating. When I came home for Christmas break, I’d lost about 15-20 pounds. I’m not a big guy as it is, standing at an imposing 5 feet, 6 inches, and such a dramatic weight loss made me look like I had AIDS. Or was a crack addict.
Anyway, I go to see the doctor for tests to see what’s happening, right? Blood tests, CAT scans, the “let-me-feel-on-your-guts-til-it-hurts-and-you-wanna-slap-me” test. I also got some x-rays—actually enough x-rays that I would glow in the dark. And to make my insides look even more sexy for the camera, I had to drink radioactive barium. Have you ever had this stuff? It’s like liquid chalk.
So I drink the stuff, get my x-rays, go home while doctors try to figure out what happening inside. I must point out here that no one had the presence of mind to say, “Hey Chris, after you take this stuff, make sure you drink plenty of fluids.” That would have been helpful. See, a couple days later, I wake up and I REALLY gotta drop some kids off at the pool. I go to sit down and, like Yukon Cornelius in the Rudolph Christmas special—nothing. Got the leg shake and the one tear and no dice. Nothing’s moving. It had been a couple days since I went and I’m a little concerned. Talk to my mom about it and she recommends castor oil.
Castor oil? It’s 1990—didn’t castor oil go out of style with the Little Rascals? But I get it—if it works, it works. I take the stuff (almost vomit along the way) and my stomach starts bubbling and churning and cramping…nothing. NOTHING. And it hurts. Bad.
Have you ever had to go to the emergency room because you can’t shit? I have. And it is as spectacular as you imagine it to be.
We (and I say we because I’m a college student at the emergency room with my mom because I’m constipated) tell the nurses what the deal is and they respond with, “Oh, an enema is exactly what he needs!” Yeah, not so much. So if you’ve been keeping track, I had a couple days worth of food, radioactive barium, castor oil, and now some undefined number of ounces of water (I have no idea how much water goes into those things; I was a bit more focused on my increasingly dwindling ego!) Things are not feeling so hot. AND STILL NOTHING IS HAPPENING!
I get taken in the back and the nurse who drew the short straw comes in with rubber gloves and a bottle of topical Novocain. “What are you gonna do with that?” I say. She says, “Well, it has to come out.”
It came out. Bit by embarrassing bit. And once it got going, everything else just flowed. Or exploded. Everywhere. EVERYWHERE. Anyway, I brought that nurse a Christmas gift afterward.
Whether it’s the black goo, a swift kick in the ass, or a Novocain-covered rubber finger in it, you gotta get that shit out. Find the thing that makes it happen for you and tap into it, dig into it, whether it hurts or is embarrassing or disgusting. It’s in there; it has to come out. It has to come out. Look, you just got a front row seat to THE most embarrassing thing in my life—but if it gets you started, it’s worth it. And truth is, it got me started. And today, that’s what it’s all about.
I’m back on my shit (pun intended): the Festival continues tomorrow with the one guy who just couldn’t let things go: GOLLUM!