All the Hate Mail!

THE THOUGHT ORPHANAGE!
- an elan gale nightmare - a blog - a disease - a problem - a dog without a home

Constant

Marilyn opened the top drawer in the room where she grew up and found a poorly decorated box filled entirely with old hopes.

Photographs, sounds, and bullshit mementos of when things were going to be a certain way.

The slight rhythmic squeak of the ceiling fan was just as she had remembered. It, like all other things she knew had remained eternal.

A slightly torn picture rested atop the pile. She remembered the day she tried to shred this memory, but was too conflicted to complete the job. That memory. The memory of her inability to destroy the memory had all but eliminated all the memories and all the reasons she wanted to destroy it in the first place.

Dinner was getting cold downstairs.

She was in no hurry though, despite the hopeful voices that ebbed through the walls.

Why change now? This moment, like all things, like the perfect moment she was missing, would last forever.

This restaurant is doing a Menu for One on Valentine’s Day.

Sounds delicious. 

This restaurant is doing a Menu for One on Valentine’s Day.

Sounds delicious. 

Why Are You Always Looking At Your Phone?

“Why are you always looking at your phone?”

I’ve heard this a lot.

Why don’t you talk to the people you’re with? Why aren’t you present? Who are you talking to?

As we become more dependent on our phones and social media as methods of communication, more and more people ask these questions.

People moan about “how we’ve changed.”

Hey, people who talk like this: Maybe it’s your fault.

When I’m in a good conversation, my phone stays in my pocket. When I’m engaged, I stay engaged. Maybe it’s you?

And what’s wrong with wanting to talk to people that are far away? What is it about your proximity to me that makes you take precedent? Why are you more important just because you happen to be here?

We aren’t trapped with the people we’re trapped with anymore. We can talk to whomever we want to, anytime we want to. Maybe this is a good thing. Maybe the people around us need to do a better job of being the people we want to be around.

Imagine if we could teleport and instantly be around the people we wanted to talk to, to be around, to feel. I bet we’d pop in and out of countries faster than we pop in and out of chat windows.

This is progress.

If you take out your phone when I’m talking to you I’m going to make it my goal to do a better job of being interesting, and if I can’t get you out of your screen then maybe it’s better that you’re talking to someone else, because clearly I’m not living up to my expectations in this relationship.

“Why are you always looking at your phone?”

Because you’re not giving me a reason not to.

The Notebook 2

James had just received his pilot’s license. After nearly a year of training, of studying, of books and manuals and wind charts, he had finally done it. A goal accomplished. A feather in his cap.

He took off for his final leg back to Palo Alto, his first real trip as a pilot. He was looking forward to seeing Molly. She’d been waiting for this day. Not because she so badly wanted him to be a pilot, but because she wanted her fiancé back. She wanted him to get his nose out of the books and back against the nape of her neck where it belonged. 

Molly knew that she should take some of the responsibility. She too had lost the fire that used to rage inside her. She forgot the feeling he used to give her when he walked through the door. When they were young, their evenings flowed like watercolors on a canvas, blending perfectly from one moment to the next with past, present, and future feeling like they were all happening at once.

Now, dinner meant dinner and bed meant bed.

On their third date, Molly took James to see “The Notebook.” He didn’t know what it was but went along because he didn’t care what they did as long as he could slide his hand over hers.

As the credits rolled, James wiped a tear from his stoic face and Molly knew that there was something about this guy that just felt honest.

"I need to get back to that," Molly thought and opened up her laptop.

Somewhere over the bay, James banked towards the sunset, basking in his moment.

Molly clicked “Buy Now” and somewhere in a factory in Brisbane a series of gears and levers began to move. A robot arm climbed 40 feet into the air to clutch the 3rd paperback reprinting of “The Notebook,” by Nicholas Sparks.

James banked left, starting to head towards the city, towards Molly, towards home.

Clear tape stretches over a hurriedly folded box. With one book inside, the package moved nimbly over the rolling metal cylinders and into the distribution pod, where it was almost immediately collected by AD471, a delivery drone on its third delivery of the day.

Up, up and away. 

"The Notebook" and James were both headed rapidly towards the city, alone each in their vessels, but not alone in their willingness to change everything. James knew he would walk through the door and lift Molly up and tell her that he wanted her to be his co-pilot, forever. His co-pilot for life.

James pitched down and pulled the throttle, beginning his descent. AD471 banked sharply right to avoid a usual patch of wind as is recorded in the Amazon Drone Delivery manifest. 

"What’s that?" asked James, to no one in particular. 

And it was the last thing he ever said. AD471 had been sucked into his left engine, igniting a fire, and sending James and “The Notebook” hurtling wildly towards earth, bound together forever in fear and desolation. 

As he fell, he noticed the cover and had a fleeting glimpse of a charred Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams, holding each other as he would hold no one ever again.

The phone rang and Molly quickly answered it.

"Hello?"

"We’re sorry ma’am," a voice said.

"Oh no, what’s wrong?" asked Molly.

"Well, the copy of The Notebook you ordered was damaged en route. Another one will be on the way shortly. Sorry for any inconvenience. We have waived the delivery charge."

The Doctor

The year was 1962 and the once quiet streets of downtown Munich were busier than ever.

The sounds of honking. The hanging lights swaying in the wind.

But the foot traffic made the city feel alive…

…to everyone except for the Doctor.

 

“These people, these animals, are slowing our movement,” the Doctor said to his wife. “We must find a way to lull them into a false sense of security, and then, once we have them trapped, we will destroy them all.”

Shortly thereafter, the Doctor invented a way to destroy as many pedestrians as possible. He had created a place where people would feel comfortable to walk and then they would be violently rammed into by roaming vigilante car squads! Yes! The Doctor would be victorious.

And he was…

That, my friends, is the tale of Dr. Fredrick Crosswalk

How To Cook A Duck

A lot of people don’t know this about me, but among other things, I am also a pretentious amateur cook. My friend saw a dish I made the other day and asked me to send him the recipe to make something for his wife. Here is my recipe:

how to cook a duck

two duck breasts, fat on

orange juice, grand marnier, balsamic vinegar, honey

get the skillet hot as f*ck

don’t put anything in it

score the duck fat in a criss cross fashion without reaching the flesh

put salt and pepper on each side of the duck, passionately 

put the duck in the hot as f*ck skillet, fat side down. after the first 5 minutes turn down the heat to medium f*cking hot and give it 2-3 more minutes

put on better music this stuff is terrible

flip that motherf*cker over, leaving it on medium f*cking heat for about 5 or 6 minutes (leave it for like 8 if you don’t like it medium rare, which is how you should like it because that’s how the f*ck it’s supposed to be.)

K

take the motherf*cking duck out and put it on a plate to chill for a second.

pour out 95% of the duck fat (save it to fry potatoes in, also you can put it on your neighbor’s car, you have no idea how much damage duck fat can do to a paint job)

throw in like 4 tablespoons or some shit of honey

and like 3 tablespoons of balsamic and a shot of grand mariner and a shot and a half of orange juice

turn down the lights because things are about to get sexy

scrape the duck bits that are in the pan and just let this shit reduce down til it feels SAUCY as f*ck

then, throw the duck back in for about 45 seconds on each side to coat it and give it a little tiny bit of warmth

put it on something

eat it with your mouth so good and hard

turn off the stove

wash the dishes

make love to your wife

regret parts of your childhood

go to bed

salt and pepper to taste

Everything Happens For A Reason

I remember the day that I found out that everything happened for a reason.

It was 2pm and I was still in bed. My head was aching and my body had wine stains on it. 

At the foot of my bed there were three dogs I did not know. All of them were named Stanley. They had bandanas around their necks that I assumed could be used to tell them apart, but they were all the same bandana. Three little cocker spaniels, all of them named Stanley and all of them with matching bright red bandanas.

I decided to get some water and as I walked through the living room, all of my belongings has been replaced by piles of black ash. I tried to sit down on a chair I once had but I just fell right through to the floor, coughing and choking as the fire remnants filled my lungs.

Stanley laughed. Well, all the Stanleys laughed. They were having a damn ball over there, just laughing and showing their teeth and lamenting their very existence but using humor as an escape.

The water pitcher was no longer in the refrigerator because the refrigerator was just a pile of ash decorated with fancy ice trays that had survived the apparent blaze.

The smoke alarms, hysterically, were also ash piles. Totally hilarious.

I took a drink from the faucet and felt instantly better. One of the Stanleys licked the caked Syrah from my ankle. I wondered if he or she would be okay but then I remembered that sometimes I did that and I seemed fine.

A seven year old boy emerged from the bathroom and asked me what his name was. I confidently told him it was probably Stanley. He smiled and leapt through the kitchen window. It was impressive. 

I crawled back into bed and wondered what I had done wrong the night before. But then I realized that everything happens for a reason. I closed my eyes and told myself that everything was going to be alright. 

The Stanleys, minus the window-leaping child, circled my quiet body and I kissed the back of my own hand, practicing for a time when I would marry my wife in front of a congregation of friends, obligations, and annoying family members.

All is well, I thought, as I descended back into sleep, waiting for the surprises that tomorrow would bring. 

Ode To A Friend

When my friend died, I really thought about all the things I took for granted. Those phone calls that meant nothing. The text messages that all mirrored the others. The pleasantries.

When she was gone, all the things that meant nothing suddenly meant everything. It was never hard for me to make her smile, but I couldn’t do it anymore. It was never hard for me to make her laugh, but my jokes now would fall quietly to the ground. It was never hard to comfort her when she felt overwhelmed, but now I was silent.

I cried a lot. 

My friend was quiet. 

She told me I was going to be okay. She told me to cheer up. She gave me a reason to. 

I found myself wanting all the things for myself that I wanted for her. I wanted her quiet. I wanted to hear that silence again. I wanted it to be temporary. I wanted our pauses to mean something, but now they last forever. 

They still mean something. They mean a lot to me. I remember the last time we ran out of things to say. I’ll never regret telling her I loved her.

I remember where I was standing. 

Sometimes I drive past my old house, just to put a place to that moment. I pull to the side of the road and I think about the moments that mattered to me and I hear her laugh and I look for spiders, the spiders she was so scared of. 

But there never are any spiders. Maybe that means there is nothing left to fear. 

I close my eyes and I tell her that there are no spiders here. She smiles, in my mind, and in my mind she thanks me for checking.

And then we just stand there together, in a spiderless world, knowing that everything will be okay, because there is nothing left that can harm her. 

This Day

This day is not important to me. This is just another day.

But like every day, it’s going to be exactly what you make it.

Make this one whatever you want. Make the next one whatever you want. If it takes a ball dropping to make you change the things you don’t like, that’s great. Some people need the loss of love. Some people need to experience mortality. Some people need to feel the detrimental effect of their actions. Good for them too.

But here we are, passively watching a ball drop and watching numbers shrink to endless zeros and if that’s all it takes to look at yourself in the mirror and say “NOW,” then now is our time, and we are lucky for it.

Love so hard. Hate with passion. Hug tightly. Kiss until you can’t breathe. Mean it when you say goodbye but mean it even more when you say hello.

I’m not going to pretend 2014 is going to be great, but I know it’s going to happen, so I greatly recommend making it great.

It’s up to me. It’s up to you.

Shake your life until it looks like something you love.

Shake it until the leaves you hate fall from the branches.

Shake it like a Polaroid picture.

I enjoy my life!

I enjoy my life!

My Sappy Love Note To You

Hello, my friends:

It’s been a very interesting year, to say the least. Today marks the two year anniversary of “All The Hate Mail!”

I started this blog, primarily, as a way to not bother everyone with thoughts and ideas I didn’t want to tweet. I’m not a blogger. I’m just a guy with a blog.

Things changed for me a bit this year with the creation of Diane in 7A. Those of you who have followed me for a while were not surprised, having lived through “Revenge On My Neighbors” and “My Blind Date,” but many people were shocked and alarmed and confused and cried endlessly into their porridge.

Let us raise a glass to them. They will be fine in 2014. 

Those of you who know me best know I’m actually a pretty solitary guy. I live alone and I live alone in my head. Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, and the like have offered me a really cool way to interact with the world, and I’ve been lucky enough to have people read the things I say.

I know I come off as cavalier, cocky, sad, pompous, angry, bitter, and a lot of other great qualities, but let me say this: I am probably all those things, along with lonely, shy, and imperfect in just about every way.

If you’ve come this far in this post, you probably think I’m okay, and quite frankly, that’s more than I could ever ask for.

I don’t know what this whole life is about and I don’t pretend to, but I know that it’s only made better each and every day by the strangers (who often become friends) that I get to interact with.

Obsessively, I read everything everyone sends me and I am thankful for the people I get to hear from, talk to, and learn things about.

You guys are great. You make me really happy in a world that often feels cold and impersonal. I feel our relationships mean something to me, and if they do to you too, even better.

Thanks for talking to me, thanks for laughing with me, thanks for being angry with me, and thanks for reading this.

I honestly wish everyone happiness, if that’s what they want. And if they want weirdness, misery, woe, or confusion, I hope they get that too.

We’re in this together, and there’s a lot of ups and downs, but let’s laugh until it hurts and cry until it feels good again.

I love you

Elan

A Year of Disappointment!

Another year, another massive disappointment.

Good job, everyone. You’ve really let each other down. You’ve lied and stolen and cheated and you were late to dinner.

You forgot to get him a gift and you forgot to compliment her on her haircut. You forgot to introduce me at that party. You forgot to pick up scallions. 

You never wore those pants I liked. You didn’t even notice my manicure. You told me you loved me. You told me you hated me. You said nothing I wanted to hear. 

You burnt the rice. I told you the rice was done. Why did you do that?

You cheated on her with her best friend. You never call to say goodnight. You put regular gasoline in the car when you know it’s supposed to take premium. You never remember how I take my coffee.

You bought the wrong kind of milk, again.

And I fell for it all. Another year of disappointment. I was so stupid. I thought you meant it this time. That’s what’s really disappointing. Not that you’re disappointing, but that I keep allowing myself to feel hope. I’m my biggest disappointment. 

Not next year. I’m done with that. Low expectations, no pressure, no fear.

Well, no, that doesn’t seem right. 

I guess I’d rather be disappointed after having a few minutes of believing in something.

Good work, everyone: You disappointed the hell out of me this year. Let’s do it all over again. 

How Justine Sacco Accidentally Changed Everything

By now, everyone knows about Justine Sacco:

The tweet, the backlash, the deleted account, the hand-wringing, the attackers, the defenders, the everything.

I don’t want to get into any of that. I don’t know more about her than anyone else. I don’t think my opinions on the matter are particularly interesting, and I can assure you they’re not useful. But, here’s what I find alarming:

The Justine Sacco incident changed the internet forever.

Here’s why:

Before Justine Sacco got on her ill-fated flight, she was probably living a relatively normal life. She had 144 twitter followers, most of whom she probably knew personally. 

I’m going to call her a private citizen, for the sake of argument. Did she have her company’s information in her bio? Yes. But so do a lot of people, and saying that your opinions are yours and your alone isn’t really saying much anyway. After all, that’s what opinions are.

But here’s what’s interesting to me. This totally anonymous person wrote a highly offensive tweet and became a public figure in a matter of hours, ripe for dissecting and investigating.

Celebrities are used to this. Public figures, politicians, musicians, and athletes are trained to think before they speak, and to nimbly curate their words before unleashing them upon the world. 

Normal people aren’t.

But now, we have to.

We are in a new world. There is no division between “private citizens” and “public figures” in the world of social media anymore.

I’m not sure if this is good or bad. It will definitely stifle creativity. But it will also make people more mindful of what they put out into the world.

I think people are really glazing over how monumental a cultural shift this is. The democratization of information is now complete. 

We are all equal and we now have to acknowledge our responsibility to act as such. We can’t just pretend it’s “someone else” anymore.

Now, we are all someone else. 

Tea

The old woman could not hear the trees laughing, but they were.

For the 800th consecutive day now, she had put on shoes and walked to the other side of the park to have a cup of tea with her friend, George.

The trees watched every day as she walked back and forth, covered in woven sheep hair and spider eggs.

George was not even a real man. He was a bundle of snakes in a nylon human wrapper, which explained why he consumed his tea using a small double sided spoon wrapped in his forked tongue

The old lady didn’t seem to mind.

The trees laughed as George and the old lady drank boiling water filled with their dander.

The winds came every night and helped the trees shed their leaves. The same leaves that crackled under the feet of the old lady as she walked across the park to drink other leaves in hot water with a man made of snakes.

It all seems so silly, thought the trees, as they laughed

The Dog

When I walked into my new apartment, I saw a dog, which startled me.

Firstly, I had never seen a dog in real life. I had only seen them in movies and on television and in the operas my parents took me to as a child.

And never before had I seen one, regardless, wearing a crisp policeman’s uniform. He was sitting upright on a small chair in the middle of the empty living room. All the other furniture had been neatly stacked in the kitchen and painted white to match the ceiling. 

The dog handed me a notepad and on the first page was a note that said “Hello” but on the second page there was a hand-drawn picture of a large oak tree.

Of course, I immediately knew what this meant. 

"I’ll give you the furniture. I’ll even give you the fear I feel when the wind whips through this wretched city, blowing ghosts into my mouth, allowing them to scream into my ears directly from the inside. They are not trying to scare me, I know, but they do, because I am used to noises coming from the outside."

The dog, using a grease pencil, marked the number 6 on each piece of furniture in the kitchen. They weren’t mine anymore. He then walked up to me and drew a small circle around my ear, leaving a mark for the nighttime panic extractors, letting them know where to burrow. 

I sat on the lone chair in the middle of my new apartment and stared out the window, wondering why people kept dogs as pets at all.