All the Hate Mail!

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

Thank You

Hi everyone.

Last week I asked you to join me and change some lives. I mentioned that any dollar amount was important. Even one.

One dollar goes a long way.
One dollar means you opened your wallet and took something out and gave it to someone else.
One dollar, to someone in need, means that someone out there cares.

I asked you to give to Next Door Solutions, a great organization that helps victims of domestic violence. I spoke with the director of the organization and she told me that the recession had hit them hard and that often charitable organizations were the last to bounce back from economic downturns. She told me that people don’t often discuss domestic violence and don’t often rally around it.

You did.

In 72 hours, you raised $15,464.00

That’s a lot.

I spoke to them again today and they were floored, incapable of believing how a group of strangers, from all over the world, could simultaneously care about the same thing. Them.

$15,464.00. In three days.

I am awed by you. I am in your debt. I am genuinely lucky to know people who can do something like this.

If you were able to donate, thank you. If you weren’t, thanks for reading, because even the knowledge if what NDS is and what we have done here is important.

If you want to stay involved, you can contact your new friends at www.nextdoor.org

They’ll remember you.

Thank you, from the bottom of my often sarcastic little heart.

Now I can get back to being bitter and sad and hopefully making some of you laugh occasionally.

Love love love

Elan

US

I’m turning 30 on Sunday.

I’d like to thank my mother, my father, my sisters, my teachers and employers, my childhood dogs, the many wild animals that never ate me, the hawks that didn’t swoop down from the sky to retrieve me as a toddler, the planes that didn’t crash, the lightning that always missed me, and lastly, the great luck that I’ve encountered.

I really do want to celebrate this year though, and I want to do it just like I did last year.

There’s an organization called Next Door Solutions and they have a very clear mission: “To end domestic violence in the moment and for all time.”


It’s a pretty clear mission and it’s hugely, hugely important. 

Millions of people are affected by domestic violence every year. 1 out of 4 women (yes, 1 out of 4) has experienced domestic violence in their lifetime. Half of the husbands that physically abuse their wives also abuse their children. And, though often unreported, hundreds of thousands of men are also victimized by domestic violence every year. 

Almost 75% of you know someone who is or has been a victim of domestic violence. 

I could ramble off more stats, but the fact of the matter is:

This isn’t a “them” issue. It’s an us “issue.”

So, for the next few days, I’d like you to please give me a birthday present, and it’s the only kind of present I will be accepting. Please click HERE and give a donation to Next Door. To make this more rewarding for everyone, I will be matching every donation up to the first $5,000.00. So, if you donate 5 dollars, you’re really giving 10. And if you donate 50 dollars, you’re really giving 100. It’s pretty cool. Honestly, any amount is amazing.

Put my name or theyearofelan in the matching gift box and the nice people at Next Door will make sure to keep track of what we raise.

Please give anything you’re comfortable giving and let’s change some lives and let’s bring some more awareness to this very important issue. There are so many things we can’t do anything about, but here’s something we can all help be a part of. Help change some lives. 

For more info on Next Door, please click Here and then click Here AGAIN to make another donation. 

Give anything you feel good about and if you can’t that’s okay too, and thank you for just taking a second to read this. 

Oh, and PLEASE tweet me to let me know you donated so I can PERSONALLY thank you thank you thank you. 

This is my favorite time of the year. Please reblog, retweet, read, and give what you can. Seriously, I love anyone who is reading this sentence. It’s amazing. Thank you. 

Love

Elan

An Excerpt From The New Thing I Am Working On And It Is Called “Snowman”

July 2, 2012 - 13:16 

“This is the longest car ride of my entire life,” they both thought, in unison. It was the first time they had agreed on anything in a long time.

No one could say what they were thinking. This was a rule in moments like these.

“I can’t believe I’m here,” they both thought.

The radio was playing a commercial about car donations. The man in the commercial had a very jovial Santa Clausian voice, the kind of of voice that commands authority, wanting you to prove that you are nice and not naughty, but also full of a promise of a better life, of more presents under the tree and a pass to heaven in your stocking. This man thinks you have a car you no longer use and he wants you to give it to someone who needs it more than you, and in exchange, you will receive a voucher for a tax write-off. He is the voice of understanding the relativity of the condition of your life. Do you think you are having a bad day? You have a car. There are other people who have bad days but they do not have cars. Ho ho ho. Oh, you need your car to get to work? Some people would love to have the problem of getting to their jobs, but they do not have jobs, and as a result they can’t afford a car and as a result of that, they can’t go out and find a job. On Dasher, on Donner, on guilt-trip and privilege. Here you are, coincidentally, listening to this commercial in your wonderful car. A car you probably don’t need. A fancy car, a fancy car with a radio in it. These people don’t even need your fancy car. They just need a car and you sit there with your air-conditioning and your radio waiting for your luxurious hip music to come through your perfectly working speakers as you cruise the highway doing God knows what, but I’ll tell you this, other people need this car more than you. Asshole, with your life so nice, please donate your car tonight.
Just when you think the commercial is going to end, it does not. Santa’s pleas for your car are echoed by another voice: the voice of a young boy, one who sounds like he has been coughing. Why is he coughing? Probably because his parents make him walk to school in the cold because they don’t have a car. How do you feel about your leather seats now as this poor sick child is walking, probably barefoot and without a proper coat in winter, miles and miles to school just for the futile hope that he will get an education and one day be able to afford a car and have a home and have a child. But none of this is going to happen for this child. This child will die or become a prostitute because this child needs your car. Your car. Right now.

On Being An Adult

I have no fear of turning thirty. Just as I have no fear of turning thirty and a day.

Birthdays, much like Holidays, aren’t very important to me. I will give them this credit though: they are excellent at bringing about much needed self comparison.

Where was I a year ago? Ten years ago? Four Christmases back?

Funerals do the same.

Where was I when my father’s father died? Well, I was at home, and I was 11, and he was living with us, and he was in a coma, and then finally he stopped breathing and I walked into his room to say goodbye. I waited in the living room until two men in white came in and wheeled him away. I don’t remember the funeral. All I have are little flashes of grey and cold and my uncle’s face, frozen. I remember by mother’s hand. I remember always taking my mother’s hand. I don’t remember my father that day, but I know he was there.

I hated the feeling of not being able to do what I wanted. I hated the feeling of lacking control and all I wanted to be was an adult so that I too could freeze my face in the cold grey days that hurt me.

I stopped taking my mother’s hand. I was to be an adult.

When I began working, I never stopped. I worked as many hours a I could and I kept working and I kept working so as to be an adult. I remember that’s what my father did and that’s what he was doing on those nights when dinner was late.

I didn’t take more than a week or two off for about 5 years and then I decided that I needed to visit my mother’s side of the family in Israel. It pained me to step away from what my life was, but I did. I’d be gone for ten days.

My mother’s father wasn’t doing great, but he had not been doing great many times, and he had always recovered. I brought my camera and I took pictures and I tried to ask questions and I don’t honestly remember anything about those ten days except for a few bright flashes and dust and sand and my mother by the beach she grew up on as a child.

That’s not true, there is one thing I remember but I have a hard time talking about it.

My last night on that trip was my grandfather’s birthday. Some of my cousins came over to their small apartment that my grandparents had lived in since I can remember and I sat at one end of the long table and my grandfather sat at the other end. He was pretty frail, but it was his birthday, and he insisted we open a bottle of wine. He almost never drank wine but he knew I loved it. It was terrible wine, but we held our glasses high and proud and were together. As we sang happy birthday, I knew it would be the last time.

I don’t remember much from my childhood, to be honest, but I see flashes. Simple things: short drives, a scary slide he coaxed me to go down, the cows they’d take me to see at the old agricultural school that he and my grandmother started when they were teenage immigrants. The collection of bells that all had different tones and the small fruit platters that all had old wooden handles that collected the smells of all the foods that had ever been in them. The old computer in the corner. The look on my mother’s face. Never frozen. Never, ever, ever, frozen. Never.

Where was I when my mother’s father died? I was at work.

I sat on the curb outside my office and I cried, just like I cried in the airport as I drank a better glass of wine by myself on his very last birthday. I cried.

And then I went back to work.

I didn’t go to his funeral because I had to work and it was 10,000 miles away. My sisters and my mother sent me photos. Those are my memories. I have no memories of what I was doing during his funeral.

I have flashes. My mother’s hand. The faces of my sisters. A flag. The dust. A spread of food and an obituary. All in my head. My mother’s hand. The one I could not take. I wasn’t close enough. I was an adult.

I had become an adult.


I have no fear of turning thirty. My only fear now is that I will remain an adult forever.

Butterflies

The only reason butterflies fly around is because they’re totally panicked that they’re not caterpillars anymore. 

What looks like gleeful gliding from flower to flower is actually just short bursts of unimaginable rage and confusion as they flap their strange new wings in a feeble attempt to knock them off of their bodies.

Tired, they land on another flower, lament their existence, pray for the happy hand of death, and again begin to remove the all-to-real limbs that they don’t remember growing. 

"Off, vile wings, off!" they cry. But it is to no avail. 

And as you watch them, the misery peacocks of the sky, they interpret your smiles as mockery and they vow to wait for you in hell, where they will have their way with you. 

The New Pill

What would you do if there was a pill that could eliminate all suffering?

One pill that could take the earliest stages of sickness into its final point in a matter of moments?

If it’s a common cold, you would experience all symptoms in minutes and then feel better. If you had a cancer with a treatment in just a few days you could be better. But if was terminal you would die in a matter of weeks, or days, or hours. 

If you’re going to make it, you will in moments and if not you’ll perish in a similar time period.

Would you take the pill?

The Light in the Kitchen

Ethel woke up on a Tuesday morning and found herself in the same house she had lived in for the past 7 years. She didn’t bother to turn on the kitchen light as she prepared her coffee. The bulb hadn’t worked in a long time.

Ethel felt the usual rush before the coffee even touched her lips. Just the smell of it was enough to awaken the space behind her eyes. The promise of the future was equal to the future itself and the coffee was little more than an afterthought, a liquid used to back up her expectations.

She got in her Range Rover and headed downtown as the sun was still rising. It, like the coffee, was enough to rouse her. It was the promise of a new day and it would be like the others. These dull blues would soon give way to a prominent yellow and suddenly everything would be inexplicably bright and white and the blue sky would be nothing more than a background the movie of life plays against.

She answered the phone the same way every time. That was company policy. And when it was time for lunch she would go out of her way to always try a new restaurant. It was important to her to experience variety. 

When she got back to her desk she would reach into her top drawer and grab one off the top of her stash of peanut butter cups. These were the things that gave her the freedom to experiment. No matter the quality of her meal, this would end it just right. 

Jeopardy! was on the DVR back home and the music would settle her after a long day.

Leftovers were as good as anything else. They had taken on a new quality as the sauces had sweetened overnight. They were as new as anything else.

At nearly eleven, she washed her face and felt clean.

When the phone rang at quarter past twelve, she fought to keep herself in her dream, but she couldn’t.

"Hello?" she said.

"Hi," he said.

She hung up immediately. He was inconsiderate to call this late. That would not be tolerated. That was company policy.

The next morning she flicked the light switch in the kitchen and no light came on, as it hadn’t in years. But she heard a gentle buzzing from the socket overhead and it was a sound she remembered well from before a time she had learned to forget that sound.

When the sun rose it looked different. 

Smoking Cigarettes

I was a cigarette smoker for about 10 years, which is really upsetting.

After a year I was going to stop after two years and after four years I knew I’d be okay if I stopped after five and then after eight years I knew it would be okay as soon as I stopped before ten. All of this was really quite silly and if I get sick one day I’ll look back on it and I’ll feel like a really stupid, stupid man.

In all honesty I started smoking because I wanted desperately to be cool. And then sometimes I was angry. Sometimes I was stressed out and sometimes I was cold and sometimes I just didn’t care.

I had great excuses:

Death is so random and there is such a fine line between us and it and between being and not being and a simple automatic breath divides the light and the endless black. “Life is full of so many things,” I would say and the feeling of helplessness in deciding my fate would become my opponent. “At least if I smoke this next cigarette,” I’d say, “I can be responsible for my eventual demise.” It’s something I would have been in on.

They were a constant presence in my left hand as I’d sit by the window late at night in the kitchen window of my tiny apartment and as the revolving door of people in my life came and went, they were as stable as the wall I was leaning against, blowing smoke rings and always knowing that I was better than who I was being.

I’m not perfect and once in a while I’ll still slip. A part of me still holds on to all those people I was over those ten years, even his faults and all his worst vices and his incredible stupidity.

After a while, every cigarette is the last one.

And one day, no matter what happens, there will have been a last one, and I really hope it has nothing to do with why I am perishing because after a while you go from being a precocious little jerk who wants to have a hand in his own death to a person who feels the sun beating down through his shirt on a summer day and wants to freeze that moment terribly and never wants to leave it and wants that moment where everything becomes nothing to come when he least expects it, hopefully in a moment just like this one, where everything feels perfect.

Help Me Save A Dog!

Hey everyone who reads this!

It recently came to my attention that a really cool dog I know named Lucy has Lymphoma and needs to go through chemotherapy in order to see the rest of her happy dog days.

We all know how devastating it is to lose a dog. They’re a part of our family. They’re the beings we can count on to love us no matter how terrible we look and to act like fools and lick up our tears when we are sad. They’re smelly, but so are we sometimes, so we shouldn’t hold that against them.

Anyway, I thought there could be a fun way to help Lucy’s owner pay for the chemo while strengthening our bond to each other and have some weird experiences along the way.

Here’s my proposal:

I will do you a favor. I’ll basically do whatever. If you want me to write you a story or sing you a song or just want me to shut up and take a vow of silence for a day so I’ll stop clogging your timelines, I’ll do it. If you live in the LA area and you want me to do your laundry, or cook dinner for you and a few friends (it may not be good) or you want me to buy you coffee or you want me to come to your child’s soccer game and root against the other team…

Basically, I’ll do anything reasonable as long as it’s not illegal and there’s no nudity involved. Like, at all. 

Send me the favor you want me to do and the amount of the donation you think it’s worth to helpmesavelucythedog@gmail.com and we’ll make a deal.

For more info on Lucy, click here https://www.giveforward.com/fundraiser/l8t2/lucylifefund

You can also just donate a few bucks if you have it in your heart. Either way, I really appreciate you taking the time to read this and I bet we can make this into a cool story we can remember later on. And then maybe we’ll throw a party with Lucy as the guest of honor. 

Love 

Elan

Let’s Have Coffee

Walking to dinner I ran into a guy I hadn’t seen in about ten years.

We went to different high schools and on weekends we would each invite the other one over to our respective side of town to mingle with “the others.”

One time, when we were 16, we kissed the same girl at a party but neither of us knew until later. We had a pretty good laugh about it. One time we saw a guy get shot in the leg on the Santa Monica pier. His mother was a psychologist and he didn’t care for her very much. 

This is all I know about this person.

"Hey, Elan!" he said. And I responded, using his name. 

And then we were kind of at a stand-still. We both kind of breathed and looked around and then in an effort to break the silence I said “Let’s have coffee.”

"Sounds good," he said, and we kind of did a handshake hug and we both kept going, off to live the lives we were living mere moments before. 

To be honest, me saying “let’s have coffee” was a lie. Not because I’m against it, but certainly because I won’t. And here’s the thing:

The reason I won’t get a coffee with this guy is not because I don’t like him or think he’s worthwhile or find him interesting or anything like that. 


The reason I won’t get a coffee with him is because doing so would be even more of a lie than when I originally said “let’s have coffee.”

In ten years, I’ve put absolutely no effort into seeing this person, to becoming more acquainted with his life, or to even psychologically nurture the relationship we once had. In this modern age, if I really wanted to ever talk to him, ever, I probably could, and yet, for ten years, I chose not to.

So, now, just because I’m uncomfortable on a sidewalk because we end up in the same place with nothing to say to each other I’m supposed to disregard ten years of history? Sure, we had a nice friendship, but the majority of our relationship is actually us really not caring about each other at all.

The best way to be this guy’s friend is to treat him with honesty, and the only way to treat him with honesty is to do what I’ve always done for the majority of the time we’ve known each other: pretend he doesn’t exist.

Forever

To whom it may concern, 

Which is probably no one. 

It was really amazing that day when a big voice came from the sky and took over everything and told us that it was time to pick eternity.

We are all pretty surprised. Basically, in case you don’t know, the voice told us that we had actually finally figured out a lot of the world’s problems and considering how we had done as a species up to then, the voice was pretty impressed. The voice told us that we could pick a day and a time and at that point all time would stop and we wouldn’t have death anymore and we would just kind of live forever, which was apparently the goal.

For a long time, there were a lot of questions and not too many answers, but after the dust had settled, all the world leaders got together and they picked a date and a time and they all voted on on it and they actually all agreed. It was the first time that every leader of every nation on earth agreed to anything. We were all going to live forever. It was a pretty big moment of celebration.

But it was also a pretty short moment. 

It only took a couple of days before everyone else realized that the leaders of the world were all okay with picking a date that was soon because that meant that when time stopped they’d be the leaders of the world, and that they’d get to continue to be the leaders of the world.

Suddenly, there were a lot of angry groups of people. Not the usual terrorists and anarchists. These were just regular people.

Old people felt it was unfair to have to be old forever. Sick people were afraid they’d never be able to die. Newly pregnant women couldn’t believe their children would never be born. Parents of all ages didn’t want their kids to never grow up. Kids didn’t want to be kids. 

Quickly, nobody wanted to be anything, at least not forever.

The world leaders were overthrown and one after another, smaller groups came into power, claiming to be the ones who would take care of all of us. Soon, they too were thrown out and everything kind of dissolved into nothingness. 


We were at war constantly. The one thing that everyone had agreed on was now the thing that no one could agree on.

So, that’s when the bombings started. And they got worse and worse and soon the nuclear bombs came out. Before we knew it, there weren’t that many people left to have to agree, but still we couldn’t.

Some people wanted to wait for peace. Some wanted to wait for more births. Some probably just wanted to die before they were going to be stuck here forever.

The big voice in the sky gave us the choice and we still haven’t made it.

I haven’t seen anyone in a long time. 

I don’t know if I’m the only one left but if I am, I’m not going to choose. Kind of doesn’t seem worth it any more. We should have just gone on living for now, because the promise of forever became the promise of never.

I guess I just feel like you should live for something for as long as you can rather than wanting to live forever for nothing.

Anyway, if you’re reading this, you can choose. I’m not going to.

Sincerely,

No one in particular 

Important Thoughts Vol. 162

  • The reason that suits have ties is because most people wearing them are often engaged in activity that deserves a good and serious choking
  • You can’t ever accurately figure out what you were thinking in any moment other than the present because your mind has settled on a “truth” and the possibilities you considered before arriving at that truth are subsequently weakened in value. The only way to even come close to understanding your decision-making processes is to overcompensate and assume that everything you have ever decided is wrong
  • Daylight Saving Time is an elaborate scheme by Swiss watchmakers, assuring that you will look down at your watch an additional two times a year, increasing the chances that you will get sick of your timepiece and replace it
  • Most therapists that treat paranoid patients actually DO want to kill them, but that is a result of how annoying paranoid people are
  • This is how we are spending this moment together 

Stranger Stalk

When I travel, I always set aside at least half a day to play a little game I call “Stranger Stalk.” It’s a great way to learn a lot about a new city and get a feeling for how the locals behave and get an idea for fun things to do.

Here’s how it works:

1. Sit at a cafe and keep an eye out for groups of two or more. I recommend really focusing on people in their late 20’s and early 30’s, as they’re most likely to have interesting lives.
2. Pick your Stranger. What you’re looking for here is someone who arrives with someone, but leaves alone. This helps assure that the person you’ll be following is a social animal and not just a complete weirdo who will murder you when they spot you following them.
3. It’s important to pick someone who seems on slightly near average in every way. Don’t pick someone super good looking or someone who is really well dressed or someone with an incredible haircut or weird piercings. Chances are, you will either end up chained in a sex dungeon or arguing with the doorman at a trendy club if you don’t look for an average Joe or Jane.
4. Start the chase. If it’s your first time, just get up and casually follow them. (Wear sunglasses so they can’t see you!) If you’re more experienced, like me, you’ll enjoy what I call spotting, where you must challenge yourself by letting them get completely out of your line of sight, count to 100 and then try to track them down by running through the streets. It adds an element of fun and is great cardio!
5. Have lunch where they have lunch. Have dinner where they have dinner. Go the bar they go to afterwards. Never say hello but if you’re at a nice restaurant, make sure to casually play with your knife with the sharp tip against the fatty part of your left thumb to make sure they know you shouldn’t be messed with. (This is a JUST IN CASE).
6. If they seem cool, when they are done, thank them and give them a small cash tip. I recommend $12.00.

You’ll see a lot of historical landmarks like “Where that guy eats ribs” and “That really loud place to scream into a cell phone.”

Oh, and if you do this, you didn’t hear it from me. I’m pretty sure it’s really illegal and dangerous but hey, what isn’t these days? Yolo!

I’m Not Superstitious

All superstitious people start their superstitious stories by saying:

"I’m not superstitious…but…"

and I’m not a superstitious person.

But…

I am not interested in ouija boards or ghost hunters or psychic readings or UFOs.

But…

The sky was mist and the rain was coming and going. I was walking through the seaside shrine in Miyajima, a labyrinth of over-water walkways surrounded by bright orange beams of wood and I saw a humble cedar sign offering fortune telling in exchange for a 100 yen donation, which is about a dollar.

I would never do this. But…

A lacquered wooden chest held 40 small drawers and inside each of them was a note on translucent paper, all in Japanese. I was to shake a box of numbered sticks until one prominently presented itself to me. Then, I was to match the number on my stick to the drawer, open the drawer, and read my future on the provided paper.

Normally I would just laugh at this, but…

36 was my number. 100 Yen poorer, I excitedly opened the drawer, wondering what awaited me. Happiness? Power? No more dentist visits?

Looking as helpless as I am, I was lucky to get some help from a passing woman named Yuhko. She offered to help me translate and I proudly presented her my fortune. Her English wasn’t perfect, but it was 1,000 times better than my Japanese, so I was immensely grateful. Here ya go!

Her face dropped immediately. She didn’t want to read it.

“Please?”

She shook her head, and began…

“Your luck…is the worst. You are the worst. It’s not so bad. But it’s the worst. You should do nothing.”

“What? That’s it?”

“No, would you like me to read more?”
“Please. I’m fine,” I lied.

“Your luck very bad. In matching, like love, you will not find. In gambling, you will lose all you have. Do not move where you live. It will be worse. If you have disease you cannot cure it. It’s better to believe in God because you cannot fix it.”

“Great. Is that it?” I asked.

“Also, do not travel. Do not go East. East is worst direction.”

Well, I’m flying back to Los Angeles tomorrow. And that’s East. And that’s travel. What else you got?

“In business, you will fail. Your family will not be good.”

At this point I’m sure I looked pale and Yuhko was kind enough to make me feel better.

“Do not worry. Luck can not get worse. Try again next year!”

I thanked Yuhko and walked away with the fortune folded in my back pocket, where I keep all terrible news about how my life is going to be a disaster.

Walking back to the hotel I walked by a much smaller Shinto shrine and the sign in front offered wish granting and requested a donation.

I’m not superstitious.

But…

I bowed twice, clapped twice, prayed for my fortune to be revoked, bowed again, left a small donation to the shrine and then I departed. I did everything according to protocol.

I hope things work out. But what am I saying? Nothing is different than it was yesterday. This is all super silly. I don’t believe in any of this. But you better believe I’ve uttered another silent prayer or two since then. To who? To whoever will listen. I’ll literally shout it out to the world.

Okay, let me be clear I’ll do anything to make sure this fortune doesn’t mean anything. I’ll sacrifice some leaves. I’ll spin around and sit and swirl salt water in my mouth. I’ll stand on one foot and bleat like a sheep. I’ll do anything. Please. Please. Please.

But…

I’m not superstitious.