E,  Fun & Inspiration,  Inner Critic

Sea Monkeys in the Sewer

When you were a kid did you ever order sea monkeys from an ad in the back of a comic book? Advertised as a “bowl full of happiness” and “instant life” I was intrigued. Maybe obsessed. I must have managed to talk a parent into ordering them because I have this vague and disappointing memory of tiny brine shrimp in a bowl.

Not only did they not look anything like the little cartoon characters in the ads, they weren’t very interesting and they didn’t live long. And, much like the poor goldfish from the circus, they were flush…. oops… given our family’s version of a burial at sea.

Brine shrimp (Artemia monica) from Mono Lake, ...
Brine shrimp. Photo credit: Wikipedia

That was the end of the story… until my nine-year-old eyes locked on to a supermarket tabloid headline about some alligator or snake or something crawling out of a sewer in an exotic urban East coast locale. What do you think this did for a kid with a slightly overactive imagination?

My young Lizard Brain was instantly convinced that the sea monkeys would come to life and crawl back home — by way of the shower drain, the bathroom faucet… or maybe the toilet.

[bctt tweet=”My young Lizard Brain was convinced that the sea monkeys would come to life & crawl back home.” username=”AndreaPatten”]

An Inner Critic can be a lot like sea monkeys in the sewer. I actually imagined them swimming through the pipes, grazing on people’s crap… And, like all crap-feeders, getting bigger and stronger as they made the trek… Wait… What about the alligator in Newark? What if our flushed monkeys weren’t really sea monkeys but alligator eggs? What would happen if they grew to be giants? And took a wrong turn and came back through the toilet? While Grandma was on it?

[bctt tweet=”An Inner Critic can be a lot like sea monkeys in the sewer.” username=”AndreaPatten”]

Well, that’s how an inner critic behaves: improperly disposed of, it trolls around looking for a giant shit sandwich on which to feed and then… zingo… it’s growing faster than an imaginary alligator!

How do you get rid of an imaginary alligator?

A baby alligator swimming.
A baby gator. Photo credit: Wikipedia

You call imaginary animal control. Uncle Stumpy’s Gator Gone truck. Google ‘alligator removal’ if you don’t believe me.

They’re expensive, but who cares? You’re finally going to get rid of the alligator, the sea monkeys, the giant snake or whatever other fears and phobias you’ve been dragging around behind you.

The gator guys arrive in a truck that looks like it should have been sent for parts  —  you’re not convinced. They don’t look too sharp and the only tools they seem to have brought are a stick, a rope, and some duct tape.

And just when you’re about to send them on their way, the smaller one lets out a yelp and starts to run. There’s nobody standing around the truck — they’ve gone after your gator!

There’s splashin’ and thumpin’ and somebody yellin’ – and suddenly they’re back with your gator dangling on a long pole between them, duct tape securing its powerful jaws. Duly chastened, it can no longer do any damage to you, your cat or any butt that chooses to perch on the throne in your powder room….That super-sized, crap-swilling gator is now just an ugly little dinosaur wearing a muzzle.

[bctt tweet=”That super-sized, crap-swilling gator is now just an ugly little dinosaur wearing a muzzle.” username=”AndreaPatten”]

And the Gator Guys look a lot more like George Clooney.

p.s. Laughter is one of my favorite ways to muzzle that Inner Critic.


Want to put your Inner Critic to work for you? The Inner Critic Advantage: Making Peace With the Noise in Your Head by Andrea Patten is now on Amazon.

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  • Peggy

    this line…Well, that’s how an inner critic behaves: improperly disposed of, it trolls around looking for a giant shit sandwich on which to feed and then… zingo… it’s growing faster than an imaginary alligator!


  • Debra Reble

    Thank you for your timely post Andrea. My inner critic seems to be rearing its ugly head lately now that I have a few creative writing and audio projects in the works. So appreciative of you and your beautiful being

    • Andrea

      I think the key is finding that line between “my best” and “perfect.” As much as that little lizard tries to convince me otherwise, I know they are not the same. Be kind to yourself. You’ll get through this and give us more wonderful projects. <3

  • Jan Deelstra

    Oh Andrea, how I loved the sea monkeys of childhood! And by the way, Uncle Stumpy’s Gator Gone runs the same service I run…tee hee. Loved and Tweeted.

  • Sue Kearney (@MagnoliasWest)

    I call it my monkey mind, and forever going forward I’m going to be seeing your sea monkeys when I think about that yapping committee in my head.

    My positive thoughts, my loving thoughts, my grateful and generous thoughts — all have to pick their way around the shit sandwich mine field left behind by the monkeys.

    The good news? Every time a positive, loving, grateful, and generous thought gets through, the path gets a bit wider and safer and easier to find and navigate.

    Hooray for monkey eradication!

    Blessed be,

  • Shann

    Thanks for the laughs and brilliant imagery. Laughter is one of my favorite tricks for taming my inner board or directors. Yes, I have an entire group sitting around the table trying to kick my ass on occasion. It’s amazing how quickly they quiet down when I ask them to find humor in the situation — while donning a ski mask and nibbling on a powdered donut.

    • Andrea

      I’ve experienced “the board.” I’ve also heard it called “the jury” and “the sh*tty little pity committee.” Isn’t it great when we get them to use their power for good???? 😉 Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  • Nadia

    Oh Andrea, I LOVE this article and this approach. I literally could not stop grinning while reading. What a delight! When I notice that inner critic or bullying voice…..I actually learnt to shut it up quite quckly with :” You have got to be friggin’ kidding me, right!? Life is to short to take it so darn seriously all the time, it really is.

    It helps me move along and right past it. No longer wasting my life away with all that unnecessary chatter or letting myself be bullied in this way.

  • debraoakland

    Wow, now you have me re-living the moment I found a big centipede (not a sea monkey) at the bottom of my toilet when I went to flush. LOL!

  • Lore Raymond

    Appreciating how you masterfully weave Florida life and chidhood memories into a parable for modern times! Never had to deal with gators here on my natural canal–birds, possums, dolphins, and manatees–yes.
    Cheers to lots more humor headed your way and mine to keep those “sea monkeys” at bay!

  • Lisa Hutchison

    I remember those sea monkeys. You are right, Andrea, they looked nothing like the package! Talk about false advertsing LOL. Humor is a great way to disarm the inner critic! Thanks for the laughs and memorires.

  • ckkochis2017

    I love your sense of humor weaved with a thread or two of metaphors! Growing up in the country, it wasn’t a matter of wondering what was crawling around the sewer system, but what was growing in our septic tank! Thanks for bringing up those (now) hysterical memories.