I, Monkey

A few thoughts that were on my mind.

While walking home from school one winter day, absentmindedly swinging my cherry-red Regional Science Bowl lunchbox, I thought to myself that I could set a trend.

No, I realized.  I cannot set a trend precisely because I am, in fact, carrying a cherry-red Regional Science Bowl lunchbox...

*    *    *

Contrary to popular belief, I have no idea what I am actually doing.  It's a chronic condition.  I have improvise-itus.  The condition has both advantages and disadvantages.

Have to give a presentation on mental illnesses?  Hey, I'll make it up as I go along.  (I got an A on it).

Have to write an essay on A Tale of Two Cities? Yeah, I can do that.  Have a plan? Nah, I'll just scribble something down after midnight, mere hours before it's due.  (I think I got an A on that, too).

To paraphrase Calvin and Hobbes, the right mood to be in to complete a project is last-minute panic.

I mentioned disadvantages, but there actually aren't too many when I think of it.  The primary among them is said last-minute panic.  It isn't good for the health, apparently.  Mental or physical.

Improvise-itus is also known as procrastination.  It just doesn't come with the baggage of stereotypes.

*    *    *

I like hats.  They are good objects to fidget with and hide behind, similar to a security blanket.  Unlike a security blanket, they have the advantage of being socially acceptable.

I also like hats because I can tip them in salute, like men did in the good ol' days.  I tip my hat at cars that stop for me.  I tip my hat at random strangers.  I tip my hat at a friend, who will tip his hat in reply...if he isn't plugged in to his iPod, that is.  They didn't have those things in the good ol' days.

*   *   *

Sometimes I steal ideas entirely unintentionally.  I'll "make up" a name for a character or place... just to discover, sometimes years later, that someone else made it up before me.  I once composed an entire song and heard it back later, note for note, on the radio.  It is an exceedingly disappointing experience to discover that one is not nearly as original as one had thought, and it keeps happening to me repeatedly.

On the plus side, it shows the universality of the human experience.  A little girl fiddling around with a piano can come up with the exact same melody as a middle-aged man creates on a guitar, records, and gets played on public radio.  Not the top of the charts, to be sure, but still...

It's surreal.

Similarly surreal is the experience of stringing together some meaningless syllables that sound nicely together and later discovering a.) it's a real name, b.) there is a university with that name, and c.) it appears in the Bible.

I suppose this is the basis of the monkeys-with-typewriters theory.  There are a finite number of letters or characters in any language, and a finite quantity of possible arrangements, so eventually, if you have enough monkeys playing with typewriters for long enough, one of them will produce the entire works of Jane Austen.  Theoretically.

The point is that I, although technically a human and typing on a computer, am a monkey on a typewriter.  Unlike a monkey, however, I have an awareness of phonemes, morphemes and syntax, so I would technically wind up with Pride and Prejudice much sooner than my furry, banana consuming companions.  This, for an author, is a supremely depressing realization, for at the end of it, it means there are a finite amount of stories to be written, and most of them already have been. 

I console myself by telling myself that if I disguise it well enough, nobody will realize that I am actually not coming up with anything new.

Shh.  Don't tell anyone.

The End

11 comments about this work Feed