Houseguests & Other Fish

Today, I write Frustration. 

More accurately, Frustration writes me. Frustration (in many guises) has been camped out in my living room for a week or so now, pounding away on a noisy old Remington, using a lot of whiteout on my self control and self respect and willingness to be a positively-contributing member of society. 

I’m hoping Frustration is almost ready to shelve the draft. It’s an old story, highly unoriginal, and will likely run into copyright issues since it’s already been written by so many others.

Frustration is a terrible houseguest, you see. It never looks you in the eye. It slouches just out of reach and says things, damages things, mutilates them. The things are always objectively worthless; there are no insurance claims to file. But the damaged goods are also irreplaceable. They are like things you might have collected in a special shoebox as a child. The instant an older child smirked, that beauty burned as surely as if it was acid. 

Besides, there are a lot of other houseguests I’d prefer to entertain. When Anger comes to town, we have a lovely time. Burning bridges keep the house warm and well-lit, and there’s never any washing up because all the dishes are broken. 

Apathy, Sloth, and Laziness are excellent assistants for clearing a calendar. They helpfully bring along Distraction to liven things up, and get right to work ignoring all the penciled-in dates and deadlines. Inertia will take care of any attempts at a schedule change. 

Then there’s the crowd favorite Lust. Lust usually involves a lot of cleanup. The stories more than make up for it – particularly the ones I won’t tell. 

But at some point, it’s time for everyone to go home. If you have ever wondered on what point Benjamin Franklin1, Erma Bombeck2, and Agatha Christie3 all agree, look no further: guests, famously, are perishable goods. Greta Garbo says it best, accent and all: “I vant to be alone.”

This is an exorcism. There is no chalk and no candles. There is no Linda Blair. There is only my intent to reclaim a sense of self against the eroding effect of small inhumanities. 

I bet you have a box somewhere. You may have to look for it. It’s cardboard, and acid-stained. 

Pull it out. You need it – rather, we need it. See, I have one that matches. It’s all I’ve ever had. But I hold it carefully, because sometimes I still remember when it held treasure. I think your box holds treasure too. We’re going to say this together. 

“Those who are just doing their job: gone. Those who make their name by summing up and putting down others: gone. And those who pin the word crazy: gone. Done, banished, fin.”

Forget the houseguests, it’s time to move on. After all, we have better fish to fry. 


1 “Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days.”
2 “House guests should be regarded as perishables: leave them out too long and they go bad.” 
3 You notice who brings the body to the house party? One of the guests. It’s like potluck, only no one asks for their dish back.


“When your world says you’re worthless, how do you name your own worth? Become a trickster.” Check out my post Trickster’s Bouquet for more thoughts on creation and survival – and please share your own in the comments!

Published by Marushka

I dream curiosity and write words that change brains.

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