Mugwort pillow

Dean gets on my nerves sometimes — he's too talky for a flatmate who's not a friend — but my suspicion is that something's organically wrong in his head. He's older than me, pushing 70, so maybe he's senile. Maybe he's just a kook.

my flatmate

This morning I came out of my room and found the sink running, hot water full blast. A slab of meat — pork, I think — was sitting on the counter, with a carving knife beside it. Nobody was in the kitchen, but it had to be Dean's meat, because Robert doesn't cook anything but noodles, or sometimes potatoes and eggs.

The bathroom door was closed, so someone was in there, pooping or showering. We're all old-timers in this house, and when nature calls, you drop everything and answer the call, so it didn't take Columbo to know that Dean had been prepping his pork, and suddenly had to go to the bathroom.

Sept. 21, 2022

Didn't think much of it, and my morning continued with a bus ride to breakfast and the library and the bank. Hours later I came home, and the meat and knife were still on the counter. At least the sink wasn't running, so what the hell, I went into my room and did whatever it is an unemployed man does all day.

Came out to pee a few hours after that, and the meat was still on the counter, so I knocked on Dean's door. He wasn't home. Then man had gone to work, leaving his pork on the counter.

If it was a "just this once" story I'd shrug, but he's also left the stove on and gone to sleep, left the back door open overnight, and told me a dozen times about the joys of unsalted butter. The man's not all there. His pork is still there, though.

In a hippie zine many years ago, I read an article about some lady who'd added mugwort leaves to the stuffing inside her pillow. She claimed that it helped her remember her dreams. It didn't change her dreams, she said, didn't have any psychedelic properties or anything, but when she woke up she'd remember her dreams more vividly than on nights she slept with out the mugwort.

I know what you're thinking: What the hell is mugwort? Wikipedia says it's "a common name for several species of aromatic flowering plants in the genus Artemisia." That's about all I know, and back then I didn't even know that.

All I knew was, remembering dreams sounded cool. My dreams have always vanished into the ether within moments of waking up.

A few weeks later at a farmer's market, a slightly smelly old man with a fabulously wavy beard was selling the ordinary herbs and seeds and flowers and such. Mugwort was on the table, reasonably priced, so I bought some.

Based only on the article in that zine, I stuffed it into my pillow, and it worked. Or I thought it worked. Maybe it's all psychosomatic, a placebo in a pillow. Maybe it's 'woo', but does it matter? I claim no science about it, but the mugwort sure seemed to carry the memory of dreams over the threshold and into the next morning.

The mugwort pillow lost its punch after a few months, though, and then a grand landslide of years went by without mugwort in my life. I fell in love, got married, moved to Kansas City, hated it, moved to Madison, loved it, but the wife got sick and died, and then I moped around for a few years and moved back home to Seattle, where I've continued moping.

Exploring an unfamiliar neighborhood one afternoon, I turned a corner and The Herbalist emerged, all green and foofy. Internally I snickered about the kind of people who buy exotic herbs for purported but unproven medicinal value, but suddenly I remembered mugwort, so I walked inside and became one of those people.

Two ounces of the good stuff, for only $3.

Does mugwort still work its magic? Oh yeah, baby. Here's just one of my dreams, since sleeping on my new mugwort pillow:

I was an an all-you-can-eat buffet, bringing a sixth plate loaded with burgers and fries, pizza and Chinese, fondue and two slices of pie back to my table, when a gorgeous woman approached, and she had me before hello. She was blonde, buxom, wearing glasses to signify intelligence, and 30 or so — half my age, which is icky, but it's a dream so it's allowed.

Another clue it was a dream, is that she smiled at me, batting her eyes seductively. I said hello and flashed my missing teeth at her, and she smiled even bigger, sexier, and said to me, "You have something on the back of your pants."

I twisted myself around, but it's hard to see your own butt, especially if you're fat, and I'm fat even in my dreams, so I put my plate on the table and darted to the men's room.

With a mirror behind me, I could see that the backside of my britches was not merely smudged but enormously stained with shit residue. It looked like I'd had severe diarrhea leakage but never noticed. Severe, meaning it wasn't just at the apex, it was spread so wide it covered both buttcheeks, up to the beltline, down to the seam and beyond, to the top of my pant legs. It was brown and moist toward the middle, lighter and dryer toward the edges, and those outer bits were crumbling off my pants, suggesting that this sprawling geography of poop had been on my pants for a long time.

I'd had a job interview earlier that morning, wanted that job and thought the interview had gone well, but now I knew, I'd probably left crumbs and residue where I'd sat in their office. Maybe more crumbled off as I'd walked. Unlikely they were going to call me back.

More immediately, I was in a crowded restaurant, with no way to leave without walking through the dining area, flashing my massive shitstain to everyone.

Then I'd have to stand at the bus stop, shitstain on display, and step up the stairs onto the bus, which would lift my browned butt to eye level for the people behind me.

Then I'd have to ride home, stinking up the bus.

Then I'd walk into the house, and Dean would be there, wanting to talk, of course, about the shitstain on the butt of my pants.

Luckily, I woke up before having to live through all that embarrassment, but thanks to the mugwort, I remembered every detail for long enough to write about it.

Highly recommended.

And now, the news you need, whether you know it or not…    

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Hundreds of prison and jail deaths go uncounted by the federal government, report finds 

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Simply telling the truth amounts to a monumental decision of "historic magnitude" over at FOX News 

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Morgan Stanley hard drives holding sensitive client data got auctioned off online 

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PBS and BBC team up to misinform about Brazil's Bolsonaro 

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According to QAnon, September 24 is going to get wild.
The Simpsons told them so.

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Craigslist remains pretty much the same as it was in the 1990s 

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Advocates for migrants who were sent to Martha's Vineyard sue Ron DeSantis 

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Brusio spiral viaduct 

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Uttar Pradesh Association of Dead People 

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One-word newscast, because it's the same news every time...




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The End

Uncle Jack Charles
Ramsey Lewis


Cranky Old Fart is annoyed and complains and very occasionally offers a kindness, along with anything off the internet that's made me smile or snarl. All opinions fresh from my ass. Top illustration by Jeff Meyer. Click any image to enlarge. Comments & conversations invited.
Tip 'o the hat to Linden Arden, ye olde AVA, BoingBoing, Breakfast at Ralf's, Captain Hampockets, CaptCreate's Log, John the Basket, LiarTownUSA, Meme City, National Zero, Ran Prieur, Voenix Rising, and anyone else whose work I've stolen without saying thanks.
Extra special thanks to Becky Jo, Name Withheld, Dave S, Wynn Bruce, and always Stephanie...


  1. Wow, that quote from Jeff Koyen - that's a name I haven't heard in decades. I seem to remember loving his zine "CRANK!"

    1. He's one of a dozen or so people I respect, which is easy because I don't know him well.


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