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

Attention Surplus Disorder

Is there a thing called Attention Surplus Disorder? I think I have that. I can’t stop paying attention to things. I can’t help but overly focus on things constantly.

If I have simultaneous thoughts, they play side by side with tremendous clarity and they resemble fractals, with each little piece breaking down into smaller and smaller parts until eventually the particles are budding like flowers and suddenly growing back rapidly into many different iterations of their original form.

These little movies play side by side, but they are on opaque screens, never blocking out the world, but playing like projected home movies on a threadbare sheet in the wind, casting color and shape on the things behind it, but never fully obscuring everything.

Or is that Attention Deficit Disorder?

I am concentrating so hard on both right now, damn it.

My Glorious Death Kayak

            I think the scary thing about dying is that it will literally be the last thing I do.

            And even worse, I’m not even going to look my best at the time.

            The odds of going out looking super dapper are low, at best. I’d even bet that I’m not going to be in a very comfortable place. I’m just going to be this thing that death happens to and all my organs are going to send a signal to my brain that basically say “screw this, we’re done,” and that’s it.

            I’d like the last thing I do to be something better. I’d like the last thing I do to be hurling a kayak through a huge stained glass window. The kayak would hit the floor first and all the colored shards would shoot light in every direction, turning the world into a living kaleidoscope for just a few seconds.

            And the people who don’t know me at all would see the kayak and the people who know me well would see the color show I tried to leave them as I left the earth.

            So when I die, don’t look at the kayak. Look at everything around the kayak. And tell me I look pretty. 

           

July

            “I’m sleeping, July,” I said, holding my ear to the front door of my apartment, waiting to hear footsteps, but there were none. She was just standing there, on the other side. I could hear her violently breathing through her nose.

            “I’ll wait,” she said.

            My apartment didn’t have a peephole. Such things were extravagances.

            I could just hear her nose air, steadily increasing in knots, as she stared at me through the door.

            My phone was dead, drained by thousands of vibrations, missed calls, text messages.

            It was me and the door against July.

            The first time I met July she ignored me entirely. What a turn on.

            She was a new bartender at Rock Bottom, a place I liked going because no one there was good looking so I never had to smile or impress anyone or feel bad for sitting at a bar alone.

I could just be fat and drink beer on a wobbly stool and listen to the manager Carl complain about the guy who delivered the Newcastle kegs and what a dick he was. Frank was the door guy who didn’t need to be there because no one wanted to get in. Kelly worked there too. I think she was 90.

And then July came. I’m guessing Kelly died, but I’m not sure. I fixated immediately on the way she flirted with everyone but me. I was 22. She was 33. She had big beautiful eyes that she used to not look at me. She had gorgeous lips that she used to never talk to me and she had an amazing body that seemed to just glide away from me at every opportunity.

After a few weeks of this, I was at Rock Bottom and no one else was. It was just July and me. Without a glance she handed me a five dollar bill and asked me to put something on the jukebox. I walked over and picked a few songs. The first one was “To Be With You” by Mr. Big. She rolled her big beautiful ignorey eyes. She wiped the bar so thoroughly I thought she was going to fall right through it. After the song ended, she let out a deep sigh, letting me know she was glad it was over.

But it wasn’t. For five dollars you get 12 song selections, plus a bonus 3. I used her money wisely. I selected Mr. Big’s “To Be With You” 15 times in a row.

On the third time, it was annoying. By the fifth, it was infuriating. By the eigth play, it had become ridiculous. By the tenth, it was downright funny. And by the thirteenth play, we were outside smoking a cigarette together. Anything to get the hell away from that song.

She admitted it was a good move and she gave me her phone number and I left. I wasn’t there, but I bet she was smiling when the song played for the last time. And then the silence probably took over. I imagined July walked over and put in a quarter, just to hear it another time.

We fell for each other pretty quickly even though we knew very little about each other. She was a great artist and spent her time making custom pinball machines. I was an unemployed writer or whatever and I was sad. We both loved vodka and I’m not sure we ever saw each other sober. Ever.

We would sit on kitchen floors and smoke cheap menthols and make out in parking lots and take cabs we couldn’t afford to places we wouldn’t remember going to.

I’d visit her at Rock Bottom and she’d only pretend to ignore me now.

She would come by at 3am and we would drink on my front steps and she’d draw and complain about her mother and I would throw cards into a hat from across the living room.

We ate nostalgia and listened to our song frequently, flooding the room with the memory of a great moment that had died long ago.

 

So there she was, breathing through my front door, her fire threatening to compromise the frame.

It was true, I was sleeping, and this was the fourth night in a row she was doing this. It was 4am.

This time though, I didn’t let her in. And she didn’t wait. She just left. The note on my car told me exactly what I should do to myself.

I never went back to Rock Bottom again and she never called again. That was the end of July.

Two years later I ran into her at the drugstore. She was married to someone with the same name as me and she seemed really happy. She told me she had quit Rock Bottom.

            I tried to reminisce with her about some of the funny moments we had, but she didn’t remember any of them. She didn’t remember the song or the cabs or the floors. She didn’t remember knocking on my door.

 

            I always wonder how much of that whole thing I imagined. I mean, it’s so clear in my head but what if I’m wrong? What if her eyes never actually looked up across the bar? What if she didn’t hand me that bill? What if I was alone on one side of the door, hearing my own breath bouncing back off at me?

            Maybe it’s all true. Maybe none of it is, but I still remember it. I guess it doesn’t really matter either way.

            Rock Bottom isn’t there anymore, either, and it only exists in memories I share with no one.

            Maybe that’s why there was no peephole on my door: because only the things on the inside matter.

 

****For her protection, July is a fake name. Her real name was June. June Adams and I think she now lives in Glendale, CA****

Memoirs of a Monster

Dear Kid, 

I feel terribly misunderstood.

I don’t have a lot of choices when it comes to housing. This economy has left me exactly where I am: under your bed.

You think I like living down here? Do you have any idea how hard it is to stay so quiet when I have so much to say. I have ideas. I have feelings. I’m a living, breathing, being. I want to talk art, politics, and about baseball. 

Every night when you go to bed and you cry about my existence? How do you think that makes me feel? I have to do what I have to do. 

Do I eat you? No. Do you pull your little legs off? No. I could. I could do all of those things. No. I just live here. I’m a reminder, if you will, that not everything is roses.

You go out. You have friends. You’ll grow up and have a job and you’ll forget about me. How do you think that makes me feel? I’ll just be another monster under another bed. I’m a thing to be responded to, not even a real being.

So, go to bed, young man, and know that I’m here. 

And one day, if you feel it in you, check underneath your mattress and just tell me you love me. I hear you say it to your Mom and Dad. I’d like to hear that one day too.

Best,

Samuel

It’s A Very Leno Christmas

The sun crests the mountains over Burbank, struggling to shine through the smog and gently kissing the stucco condominiums that line every street.

Inside every home, kids in onesies burst at the seams as underslept parents keep their blinds drawn and pretend they don’t hear the footsteps in the hallways.

It’s a quiet Christmas morning.

Down the road, an aircraft hangar has been bustling all night. Jay’s elves have been up straight for two days, performing their yearly duty.

It takes over 3,000 gallons of greek yogurt to entirely cover the concrete floor of this airplane hangar. It takes another 8,400 gallons to make sure all the cars are also completely covered. By the time they are done, nearly 80 tons of unflavored greek yogurt have been used to entirely cover every Bugatti, every vintage Mini, every custom Cadillac, and every pristine Pontiac. 

By the time Leno arrives, all the workers are gone. He gingerly opens the back door, wincing, praying. 

"Yippee!" he proclaims in his trademark voice as he surveys his perfect white playground. He loosens his red necktie and slowly takes off his navy suit until he is just wearing his lucky socks and a pair of red silk boxers, the ones he wears every year.

He begins to wade through the yogurt, careful to not wake the ogres. (The ogres are three Tonight Show interns with snorkel gear who are instructed to remain buried in the yogurt and scare Leno if he gets too close). 

Using only his sense of smell, he tries to find his favorite cars. Tenderly, he wipes yogurt off the side view mirrors and makes a mustache and beard out of it. He is his own Santa!

Whoops! An ogre appears and frightens Jay, who takes several steps back. The intern gasps for breath and is immediately shot by security. No one scares Jay. The other ogres take note and stay underyogurt. 

Finally, Jay finds his present to himself. This car is differently shaped, and smells and tastes different from the others. It has that new car taste. It’s a 1966 Shelby 427 Cobra in electric blue. 

He lays down on the hood and tells it that he loves it. 

The other ogres quietly sneak out of the building and back to the safety of the lot. 

"I was very good this year," Jay reminds himself. "I was very good."

Perspective

When people tell you to “get some perspective” what they’re really saying is “stop feeling things and stop being a human.”

There’s no question that perspective is important and it’s crucial to be aware of the vastness of our world, the varieties of people and where they come from and what they do and why they do it and that bad things happen to good people and that good things happen to good people. 

But no one ever tells you to “get some perspective” when they’re comfortable with your thoughts.

No one tells you to get perspective when you comment on the nice weather or tell them that you like your job or tell them that you’re in love and you’re happy and the sun is shining down on your shoulders just right. And that in this moment you feel warm.

No, they want you to get perspective when your emotions act as a mirror and they are forced to examine their own lives and feelings in a way that makes them want perspective. Get some perspective, they say. “Get some perspective so that I can feel better.”

Get perspective when you’re good and ready. Until then, let your emotions be a part of what being a human is and allow them to envelope you and surround you and suffocate you or keep you warm when the pilot light goes out and the basement is too dark and scary to enter. 

Feel now.

Get perspective later.

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