Episode 52: Tight Hat, The Edge of the World

Uncomfortable Skin
Flat Earthers
Speculative Fiction
Anime Conventions

Episode 52: Tight Hat, The Edge of the World Shel We Read a Poem?

Shingles!Uncomfortable SkinFlat EarthersCapitalismSpeculative FictionShingles!Anime ConventionsFurriesEpisode transcript here: https://laurenhudgins.com/2022/02/21/episode-52-tight-hat-the-edge-of-the-world/shelwereadapoem@gmail.com@ShelWeRead


Intro music

British Voice: Shel We Read a Poem?

Russ: Hello all and welcome to Shel We Read a Poem. I’m Russ.

Lauren: I’m Lauren.

Russ: And it was not allergies, was it?

Lauren: No, it was not allergies. If you listen to the last episode, I was complaining about having an allergic reaction on my face. It wasn’t allergies. I realized it wasn’t allergies on day three, when I was just upset about the immense pain that was coming from my jaw and ear, and I had already been to the doctor to make sure I didn’t have an ear infection. And as I was massaging that area, I noticed a bump. It wasn’t on the other side of my face. And so then I looked at the anatomy of that part of my neck and it was a lymph node. And I realized it definitely was not allergies.

Russ: Everyone, all you armchair physicians, please remember shingles does not cross the midline.

Lauren: All down one side of my face. I thought I had cellulitis but it turned out to be shingles when I went to urgent care.

Russ: Oh, shingles.

Lauren: So bad. I’m still so itchy. I’m bitchy and I’m itchy. And earlier, for at least two or three days, I was just absolutely miserable. I was in so much pain. My lymph node had swelled. It’s the the lymph node in particular, the preauricular lymph node. And it’s swelled to the point that I could barely open my mouth to eat.

Russ: God.

Lauren: It was so bad. I was in so much pain and now I’m still in pain just less.

Russ: That’s good.

Lauren: There’s also a lot of itching.

Russ: “I’m in pain, just less and also there’s a lot of itching” that feels like an epitaph.

Lauren: I’d take it.

Russ: Lauren and I record this thing on Discord. And I came on just breathless and still drying my bald head because conventions are back everybody.

Lauren: Who did you cosplay today, Russ?

Russ: I cosplayed as Szeth-son-son-Vallano, Truthless of Shinovar, and that turns out is not a popular character. Both laugh.

Lauren: Oh, okay. I thought this was maybe the main character. And this is why…

Russ: He’s not the main character.

Lauren: Oh, okay. So no one had any idea who you were.

Russ: No one had any idea who I was.

Lauren: That’s even fewer people than I thought.

Russ: Yeah. So tomorrow, they’re getting Spider-Man. And you know…

Lauren: That will be easier.

Russ: I think that will be easier. But now I was like: man, I got to record a thing. And so you know, me not wanting to go like: Oh, I’m having so much fun. I don’t want to go home, and then just dashing home and then it starts pissing down rain. And so I get home and I’m in my Szeth cosplay, which is nothing but white robes and shit.

Lauren: You should have started recording in it.

Russ: Soaked to the bone. And now it’s all hanging up over there.

Lauren: Drying. Well, I’m really glad you’re having fun. I am not.

Russ: You’re not. My stye finally popped itself.

Lauren: I thought I might have one for a moment when I was feeling irritated.

Russ: Would that it were so. And so I’m finally wearing contacts again after like a month.

Lauren: So here are all the places I have shingles lesions. Russ laughs. It started in the forehead on my right side. And then it went down my face so that I have one on my eyebrow. I have one on my upper eyelid on the outside. I have one on the lower eyelid in the inside. I have one I think in my nose and some on my jaw near my ear. So right on top of the preauricular lymph node, and all down my scalp.

Russ: Throw down those antivirals like they were a candy.

Lauren: I have been. They are my favorite.

Russ: They are my favorite.

Lauren: It turns out that if you get shingles lesions on your eyeball, you can go blind.

Russ: Is that so?

Lauren: Yes. So I have had three doctor’s appointments in the past week. One was to see if I had an ear infection. I did not and they said “Yeah, you probably just have an allergic reaction.” It was not. The second was to get diagnosed with shingles at urgent care. And the third was an emergency eye doctor appointment to make sure I didn’t have one on my eye because I was starting to see double a little bit and had a little bit of blurring. But no, it was just from the inflammation from the shingles lesion inside my eyelid.

Russ: If you get a lesion on your eyeball, what’s the treatment for that?

Lauren: I have no idea. I didn’t have to get it.

Russ: Oh, a lovely glass of rosé I see. This thing here is full of hot sake.

Lauren: Last weekend, I didn’t want to drink at all because I thought I was having an allergic reaction. And now I’m sure that having rosé is not healthy for me, but oh my god, I’m in pain and I want something to kill it. Even though I will probably regret it later when I have a histamine reaction.

Russ: So are we talking about today?

Lauren: Well, which one is the least amount of stretch? Oh, I don’t know. Fuck it. Whatever “Tight Hat.”

I tried to tip my hat to Miss McGaffry,
I never should have put it on so tight,
‘Cause it wouldn’t come off my head
And my neck got stretched instead.
That’s what you get for tryin’
To be polite.

And it is a picture of of an incredulous looking man whose neck is very long, with a hat on top. And apparently his hat was too tight, so he stretched his neck out just raising it up.

Russ: Thank you for the hats you sent me.

Lauren: Oh, you’re welcome. I hope it is not too tight.

Russ: Hats.

Lauren: Hat.

Russ: One of them has a permanent place in my coat pocket.

Lauren: Oh good. That’s why you’re wearing the other one. So the only reason I chose this poem is because I couldn’t find another poem that was about being uncomfortable at this stage. Russ laughs. Lauren groans. My skin is wrong!

Russ: It sucks being sick. Doesn’t it?

Lauren: Yes. I have not been the sick in so long. It’s not just that I have these itchy burn-y lesions on my face. It’s also that like, I had all the lymph node swelling and I had a lot of the other sick things where I just felt like my skin was really sensitive on my right side, even the parts of me that weren’t in the region that the lesions are in. When I was at my first doctor appointment, I had a blood draw just for like some routine testing. And wow, it felt like fire with a needle going in. And I was just like, what is up with that? I guess this phlebotomist is not very good. But no, it was just that I had shingles and my skin was incredibly sensitive. And I just felt icky and tired. And one day when I finally started to feel a little bit better, I slept for like 13 hours. And that was good. But I kept having to get up in the middle of the night twice to take painkillers. Because once the four hours would run out, I would be like: I can’t sleep. I hurt so much.

Russ: Have you had shingles before?

Lauren: No. And I hope I never do again. This is awful. They won’t vaccinate people our age, Russ.

Russ: Oh, they won’t?

Lauren: Fun fact: If you have shingles, you can give people chickenpox.

Russ: Yay, I’m gonna find some adults and touch them.

Lauren: I am not allowed to be around infants and immunocompromised people right now. And it’s not an airborne thing, shingles isn’t. You have to like scratch a lesion and then touch somebody. Russ laughs. But considering how itchy the lesions are, that’s not hard to do.

Russ: I had shingles into seventh grade.

Lauren: What?

Russ: Yeah.

Lauren: Oh my god.

Russ: You didn’t know this about me?

Lauren: I knew you had it at some point, but I figured it was in your 20s.

Russ: Oh, no, I was in the seventh grade. I still have the scar to this day. The initial lesion scar, it’s on the left side of my trunk and to this day, it has no feeling all.

Lauren: Right. Mine are on my face. Facial scarring.

Russ: You went to the doctor way quicker than I did. It was a solid week and a half before… It was like spreading around to my front. It was amazing.

Lauren: It was because the lymph node swelling. Once the lymph node swelling happened, I was like: This is a problem. We have got to deal with this. Alright, Russ, What are you doing today?

Russ: I decided I would do “Edge of the World.”

Columbus said the world is round?
Don’t you believe a word of that.
For I’ve been down to the edge of the world,
Sat on the edge where the wild wind whirled,
Peeked over the ledge where the blue smoke curls,
And I can tell you, boys and girls,
The world is FLAT!

I heard a great story about a flat-Earther the other day. Oh, there’s an illustration.

Lauren: We need to talk about the illustration.

Russ: The illustration is a girl and a dog and a bird. And there is a cityscape in the background, and there’s a sign poked through this very flat, massive land looking not unlike a cliff and it says “Edge: keep off.” And there’s a fire hydrant for some reason that’s not attached to anything, but you can see its base poking out the bottom. And the dog is very, very nearly slipping. And the girl is peering over the edge of the world.

Lauren: And this is what’s on the cover of Where the Sidewalk Ends. So it’s what people associate with it. But it’s funny that The Sidewalk Ends doesn’t have this as the poem. “The Sidewalk Ends” doesn’t have this drawing with it.

Russ: Yeah. And I don’t think “Where the Sidewalk Ends” has any illustration, does it?

Lauren: We should probably double check, but I think you’re correct.

Russ: Nope. No illustration for “Where the Sidewalk Ends.” I heard a great story about a flat-Earther.

Lauren: Tell us.

Russ: And this is a very secondhand story. But it was a way of converting flat-Earthers. A lot of times when it comes to conspiracy theories, a good way to convert is either, one: out crazy them, or, two: have them choose between one of two conspiracies. So the story was: This individual had an acquaintance who was a flat-Earther. And they snap them out of it immediately. And the reason why was because they told them if the world was flat, the edge would be the most commercialized place. Can you imagine how many hotels would be on the edge of the world?

Lauren: That’s a really good point. The restaurant at edge of the world.

Russ: That would be controlled. Oh my god, there would not be an inch of space. Every rich person would be clamoring to have the house on the edge of the world. And oh, my god, like capitalism would seal the fate of the edge of the world. And this flat-Earther believed in capitalism, more than they believed in flat Earth. It’s like: Oh, no, you’re right. Yeah, that would happen.

Lauren: What if you thought that it was flat, but fairly infinite?

Russ: Say that, again?

Lauren: What he thought it was flat, but fairly infinite?

Russ: What is “fairly infinite?”

Lauren: That’s true. But what I mean is the end is not reachable by any human endeavor.

Russ: Oh, that’s a very popular theory. So one of the leading flat Earth theories is that the edge is in Antarctica. And so you can’t get to it because it’s snowy and very cold and surrounded by mountains.

Lauren: There’s only one edge?

Russ: Yes, there’s only one edge like a pizza only has one edge. It goes around in a circle. Picture this. So what I want you to do is take a globe, which the world is by the way, we are not espousing flat Earth, shut up all of you. You take a world, you take the globe, and then poke your finger in the South Pole. Okay? And then put all your fingers in there and pull it outwards until it’s flat. So where you put your fingers in, has become the edge, but now you flattened it out like a pizza. And so now, where Antarctica was on the globe is now surrounding the entire flat pizza. Right?

Lauren: Okay, yeah, that makes the most sense, I guess.

Russ: No, it doesn’t. No, it doesn’t. Don’t you give them voice

Lauren: To make it flat you have to have an area that very few people have witnessed.

Russ: And that’s convenient.

Lauren: You have to know that the South Pole is reachable by a number of different directions.

Russ: God dammit. I have just converted 50 people. Shit.

Lauren: That’s pretty interesting.

Russ: Oh, god. But my answer to that is then every then everyone would have a house or restaurant with a view of the edge. Picture ski chalets and things and the like. It’s not on the mountain, but you have a view of it.

Lauren: Right? If you could get that real estate.

Russ: So either way, it’s capitalism.

Lauren: I guess you’d just be peering off into space.

Russ: I mean, literally, that’s what we do every night.

Lauren: Yeah, but our angle is different, because the Earth is round.

Russ: The angle would be disappointing. Like you would peer over the edge of the world and it would just be exactly the same thing as you saw looking up.

Lauren: Well, also gravity. Like, what happens if you get to the edge of the world? Does gravity just suddenly not exist? Or does gravity go down but down to what?

Russ: Yes. It’s turtles all the way down. Flat-Earthers are my favorite conspiracy, I mean, like them and Q, hand in hand. Oh, I love those boys.

Lauren: I like the flat Earth more because it’s always just an interesting thought experiment.

Russ: Well, it’s all born of exceptionalism.

Lauren: But also it’s fun to think about the earth being flat. It is to think about.

Russ: It doesn’t make any sense.

Lauren: Well, I know well, that’s what makes it fun. How would our celestial bodies work if the Earth were flat? It’s fun to think about.

Russ: Umberto Eco wrote a… Oh god, I’ve gotta know gotta look this up. Oh, no, I’m wrong. It’s Alan Lightman.

Lauren: So this Alan Lightman…

Russ: Alan Lightman is an author who wrote a novel in 1992, called Einstein’s Dreams. And I’m quoting here from Wikipedia. The novel fictionalizes Albert Einstein is a young scientist who is troubled by dreams as he works on his theory of relativity in 1905. The book consists of 30 chapters, each one exploring a dream about time that Einstein had during this period, the framework of the book and consists of a prelude, three interludes, and an epilogue. Each dream involves a conception of time. Some scenarios involve exaggerations of true phenomenon related to relativity, and some are entirely fantastical. The book demonstrates the relationship each human being has to time and thus spiritually affirms Einstein’s Theory of Relativity.

Lauren: Have you read it?

Russ: I have. Yes. I read it in college for a sci-fi class. I really enjoyed it.

Lauren: Oh, good, then I should probably read it.

Russ: And each one is a thought experiment like that.

Lauren: Okay. I will read it.

Russ: So what’s the prognosis on the shingles? How long until they are not shingles anymore? The doc didn’t say?

Lauren: No. She said I would get some relief in two days. And I did some relief in two days. Russ laughs. But not all the relief, just some.

Russ: Yes, you’re going to hurt until you die. Here is a pill bottle the size of a policeman’s flashlight.

Lauren: I’m actually running out of antivirals tomorrow.

Russ: Oh, zanen. They give you more I assume. Or is it just the one course?

Lauren: It’s just the one course. Hopefully they’re all dead by then. Every last virus, I hope it is dead.

Russ: And, and with that Lauren got her PhD.

Lauren: I’m sure it would bite us in the ass in some ways. If we lost every virus.

Russ: My prettier half had never been to an anime convention. The first time I met her, she was running a Dragon Ball Z fan site. Okay, that’s the person you’re dealing with and they’ve never been to an anime convention? The most excited I’ve ever seen her: So she went to a couple of panels today. I didn’t really care what they were talking about. Like, I know that people but I don’t really care. She went to one with William Shatner, and she went to one with Ming-Na Wen, who did Mulan and now is on the Mandalorian and also Book of Boba Fett. And the most excited I saw her today was when she encountered a group of furries. And I had to talk her into… She’s like, “I really want to pet them. Like they look so soft. I really want to pet them.”

Lauren: I can’t decide whether they would find that good or bad.

Russ: Well, that’s the thing. I was like, “You totally can. Just ask. The worst they can say is no.” And also they’re furries. They probably really want to be petted by people,

Lauren: Right? It would sort of affirm their their animal identity.

Russ: And so she goes over there bashful is can be, and it’s like, “Can I get a picture with you?” And the—I don’t know what it was—horse—I couldn’t tell. It was something anthropomorphic—was excitedly, “Yes, of course.” And then she goes, “Can I pet your fur?” And of course she could pet its fur.

Lauren: She’s not very threatening at all.

Russ: Oh, and she was losing her shit. Like bouncing up and down just from getting to pet that… I was like, “You know, if you need to explore this, this is something you can do whenever you want to.”

Lauren: Sure, but maybe she just enjoys it when other people do it.

Russ: Yeah, that’s all it is: just a tactile thing.

Lauren: I think she might be very excited also by like human sized critters.

Russ: Well, do you have any uplifting…

Lauren: Although, a human sized horse is a lot smaller than a regular horse.

Russ: Which would you rather fight…

Lauren: Oh the ducks?

Russ: …one horse sized duck or 30 duck sized horses? 30 duck sized horses.

Lauren: Yeah, I think that would be my answer too.

Russ: Just punting them away. Well, do you have any uplifting thoughts for our listeners?

Lauren: I’m the one with shingles, you just totally delightful story.

Russ: I’m the I’m the sunny spot in this podcast and that’s terrifying because I’m a black hole of emotion.

Lauren: We really didn’t get too gloomy on this episode.

Outro music.