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THE THOUGHT ORPHANAGE!
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Koji Helped Me Find Ramen

There is great freedom in standing in one place, randomly picking a direction, and commiting to it.

Isn’t that how all of life is, really? There are a million options and you decide to choose one and then you try to make it the correct one. No choice is ever correct until after you make it.

I am staying on a street without a sign in a residential area of Minami Ayoama. This is home for a while but I don’t even understand how the light switches work. The toilets do whatever they want and seem to even be communicating with each other while I sleep in a secret water language.

Before I left America I got a list of places to go and things to see. I did not write any of them down because there were simply too many and I didn’t want to just have an overwhelming list of impossible to complete activities. My memory, I think, has retained the ones it finds most valuable, starting with what seemed like the perfect place to have breakfast: Ramen Street.

Tokyo Station is 100 years old, but has been newly renovated. It’s basically a giant marble labyrinth the size of most small American cities. There is a dessert store in it the size of Fresno.

"Just go downstairs to Ramen Street. You can’t miss it."

Oh, really? Well, I found Kitchen Street. I found a place where 450 Japanese women in matching cardigans stand in concentric circles. I found a store that sells miniature plastic versions of ramen.

And then a miracle happened. His name was Koji. He was wearing prestine blue overalls, a yellow helmet, and sparkly white gloves.

"Ramen Street?" I mumbled for the hundredth time as businessmen looked anywhere but at me.

Koji was the first person I heard laugh loudly in public. “I take you,” he said. So I began to follow him. He was pushing a cart with several empty green plastic boxes. He asked me where I was from and took off one of his gloves to shake my hand.

I complimented him on his English and he complimented me on my ability to grow hair out of the bottom of my face. Koji is now my best friend in Japan.

15 minutes later he pointed me down a side alley (I use this term loosely because the “alley” is just another marble avenue that is kept cleaner than anything I’ve ever seen) and said “Ramen.” And with that, he was gone. I had lost my only friend.

It was 10:40am and the shops don’t open until 11:00. There is a small line outside every door and inside you can see the staff meetings taking place, everyone preparing for another day.

One shop, Rokurinsha, is different. The staff is lined up and someone is giving very loud instructions. It looks as if they’re preparing to go to war. And they are.

I turn around and I see the enemy combatants. 50 men in black suits are waiting in a line that snakes around to the entrance. This place must be good.

I walk to the back of the line and step behind the last man. A quick tug on my sleeve lets me know that something is wrong. A small woman points and directs my eyes towards a staircase across the way. That is where the rest of the line is. Another 30 men in suits are waiting there. There are maybe 20 seats in this place. I ascend the staircase, nearly a flight and a half, and stand behind the last man. No women. Not one. 80 men, black suits, newspapers, flip phones, and me, scraggly, hungry, wearing a torn deep cut V-neck, looking like a mad muppet in a disitinctly human world.

At 11:00 precisely the line begins to move. No one talks to each other. I’m glad to see that they’re not only not talking to me. They’re talking to no one. It’s the most accepted I’ve felt all day.

40 minutes later I get through the front door and am directed to a machine on the wall. There are four pictures of food. They are four varieties of Tsukemen ramen (the kind where the noodles come separately and you dip them in the broth yourself). I can’t figure out what is what so I just push a button and scan my subway card, which is the only way to pay, against the pad. I have now paid and am ushered to a seat between serious looking men.

I am given a plasticized paper bib and tie it around my neck. Ten seconds later, my food arrives and I get the sensation that I have exactly 2 minutes to eat this gigantic pile of food before I’ll be violently thrown out. So I do. I slurp and slurp and try to outdo my neighbors.

These noodles are perfect, by the way. Somewhere right between what we consider “normal” ramen noodles and udon noodles, they are perfectly firm and chewy and dipped in pork broth, they just enter your stomach and dance and around and make you cry happy salty tears.

I spend the next 13 hours wandering around Tokyo. Imperial Palace. The bar at the Palace hotel where martini olives are skewered with solid gold toothpicks. Omotesando Koffee, where a single barista makes one drink at a time out of the basement of his home. Tokyo Tower, a horrible tourist trap out of TomorrowLand. Roppongi Hills, home of McDonald’s, Forever 21 and Zara.

After 13 hours, I have finally worked off the ramen and find myself pretty lost. I see a street that looks particularly inviting and I walk down it.

And then I begin to laugh because I realize that I have accidentally walked home.

I had picked a direction in the morning and committed to it and something brought me right back to where I started.

I guess what I realized today is that “home” is a relative term. I may feel displaced and almost like an invader here, but this is my home, at least for now. And there is great pleasure in feeling like you belong somewhere, even if you don’t.

The Widow and the Widower

The first thing I noticed when I walked into Zojoji Temple in Minato was a sign that requested “no photography.”

Right away I knew that this moment, unlike many others, was going to live solely in my brain and die with me when I die. The impermanence of memories like this actually help turn them into living, breathing, ever-changing entities, and when I am old I will look to my left on my porch and tell someone I love this story, and it will likely have changed dramatically by then. But nonetheless, I will take her by the hand and I will tell her about the memorial service at Zojoji..

Chanting is immediately hypnotic to me. Gold Buddhas, prestine wooden floors, and the smell of incense. I drop a few hundred yen into a box and an elderly woman smiles at me, some of the first moments of warmth I’ve felt in this very private country. She walks over, sensing my disorientation and grabs my wrist, lowering my hand into a bowl of wood chips. I grab some and, with her help, drop them into a glowing red bowl of stones. Smoke comes up immediately and she waves her hands to move the smoke to my body. Cleansed and purified, I am now welcome. She bows and walks away.

I follow the sound of chanting and see a monk, facing the wall behind him. Draped in blue, he bangs a drum repeatedly, and perfectly on time. He chants along. Hmm. Drum. Hmm. Drum. An endless circular stream of liquid noise washing over the room, pummeling me into submission, stripping me of any thoughts. These chants enter your head and take over. That’s the point, I guess.

Behind the monk there are two other people. An elderly man and an elderly woman. They sit near each other, but clearly are not related. Each of them have a small stick with a rounded end and a drum on the ground in front of them. They too are hitting their drums, trying their best to keep in time with the perfect, practiced monk.

I do not know these people but I feel very strongly about them.

They are each there to pay tribute to their fallen spouses. The widow and the widower, side by side, each alone, but together in their solemnity and in their desire to communicate. The widower finds his pacing and falls into time with the the monk. I close my eyes.

The widower met his wife in a neighborhood bar when he invited her to join him for a game of billiards over an old, worn table. She insisted that she could not play and instead just laughed. Not one to take no for an answer, he kept at it until she agreed to try. When she finally got up to the table he carefully stood beside her and placed his left hand on hers and guided her to make her first shot. She missed terribly, but it didn’t matter, and from that moment on, when the widower and his wife did anything together, the success of the action was irrelevant to them both. They just did things. They just did.

Until one day, they didn’t. And now the widower beats his drum and thinks about her. The chants don’t push the thoughts out of his head as they do mine. The chants enter his mind and seal the exits, forever keeping her inside.

The widower looks to his left and sees the widow’s eyelids. He watches the subtle moments as her eyes move ever so slightly behind them, retracing visions of the past, searching the deepest corners of her memory, replaying, replaying, replaying, replaying. Banging the drum, slightly off beat.

The widower then does something unexpected. He takes his left hand and places it on hers. She does not open her eyes. With his left hand on her right, he begins to help her find the beat. And now they’re almost in perfect sync with the monk that is leading them. The smallest smile comes over her face, but she never opens her eyes. The widower smiles as well, watching her eyelids, the memories behind them darting ever more wildly, alive again.

And soon he releases her hand and she loses the beat again, but it doesn’t matter to either of them. He thinks of the girl in the bar and placing his hand on hers and how it didn’t matter if she missed the shot or not and through the waves of endless chanting, he emits a tiny laugh.

I step outside to catch my breath and sit on the stairs leading up to the temple. Not long after, the chanting stops and the widow and the widower walk out, together, awkwardly smiling. I watch them for a long time as they walk, now remembering themselves through each other. They walk through the temple gate and walk and walk until they are completely out of my sight. But always together. In my heart, I know that they do not know where they are going.

When I am old, I will place my hand on hers and I will tell her this story. It will change a lot, I’m sure, but it won’t matter to her. She’ll be glad I tried, even if I miss slightly.

Minami Aoyama - The Beginning

It is 84 degrees currently. I’m sitting in a room with an oscillating floor fan.

The fan has 4 distinct settings: 1, 2, 4, and 6.

All of the settings are the same and the thing I am most acutely aware of is that this fan and I don’t understand each other. It is going to do what it wants to do and no amount of charm, tact, or cleverness is going to get it to act otherwise.

This fan is a perfect representation of my first day here in suburban Tokyo.

The day began with an 11 hour plane ride followed by an 8 hour ride in an elevator at Shibuya Terminal. We simply couldn’t find the ground floor. It wasn’t 1. It wasn’t B1. It wasn’t F or F1 or G2. Eventually, a nice woman asked us if we wanted to take a bus and she guided us like blind dogs to the ground floor and deposited our corpses with a policeman who pointed us towards a taxi stand with a friendly smile. Poor you, he thought. You look terrible.

Our apartment here is very nice. We have beds and floors and tables and it’s more than we could ever need. Famished, we started walking down our unnamed street (the streets here have no signs) until we came upon what looked like a quaint little restaurant. We walked in and were immediately seated, as we were the only patrons. Eight seats around a charcoal grill and that was pretty much it.

No one there spoke any English. Not a word. Even sign language failed, but eventually the woman behind the bar just pointed at something on the menu and we just nodded, feeling pretty confident that anything here would be good. It was an all eel restaurant. All eel, all the time. You can have grilled eel or you can have your eel grilled. How would you like your eel? Grilled? Great. You’re in the right place. Welcome to the Minato Unagiya.

Charlie Parker and Dave Brubeck are playing loudly in the background and everything feels like a Woody Allen movie. A 16 year old boy comes and sits right next to us. He order a cup of tea and rests his head in his hands as if he has just shamed his family. He makes no eye contact with anyone.

Freshwater eel (Unagi), lightly dipped in a homemade sweet soy sauce and dusted with sansho, prickly ash pepper, is cooked slowly over a charcoal grill and fanned by a small boy wearing a grey onesie. This is plopped on top of a pile of rice, fresh seaweed, and accompanied by wasabi, pickled scallions, and a soup made of toasted tea leaves and chicken broth, and finished with a boiled eel liver.

We ask if the tea is made with the stems of the green tea leaf which we believe it is and we try to explain the meaning of the word ‘stem’ by using a toothpick. At this point she laughs because she thinks that we think that the tea is made of toothpicks. She explains how to properly use a toothpick.

We feel satisfied and endlessly stupid as we make our way to a nearby market to get some supplies for the apartment. We get all the essentials: loquats, marinated octopus in a bag, green beans, and a bottle of whiskey.

We haven’t slept in a really long time but we wander a few blocks for a nightcap and end up at the aptly named Drunkard’s. It’s an open air bar with a Hawaiian and Cuban combo as their theme. The bartender immediately suggests a mojito. There is no way in frosty hell that we are having a mojito so we inspect the bar behind him and discover a new gem: the 3 of Hearts. It’s a 120 proof single malt out of Midorigaoka. Things will soon either get better or decline immediately.

The place is decorated with a pineapple lamp, an entire smoked pork leg on the counter, and a portrait of what I’m assuming is the deceased father of the current owner.

Next to us is a thin guy who looks like the Japanese lovechild of Tom Petty and John Lennon, complete with little round spectacles. He chainsmokes Marlboro Menthols but when he isn’t smoking he puts a medical mask over his mouth. You know? To protect from germs.

Side note: When you are surrounded by people wearing medical masks you begin to feel like you are the enemy because you are not wearing one. You are the carrier. If it wasn’t for you, they could breathe normally. It’s a very humbling feeling.

A very strange techno version of “Radioactive” by Imagine Dragons is playing on the radio as I take my first sip of this fiery deathsauce. I saw them exactly one week ago in Los Angeles and the idea that this song has also crossed the Pacific with me, but now is almost unrecognizable makes me feel even more disconnected from the culture in which I can communicate and make a difference.

Karin, a Kyoto resident who lived in San Francisco for eight years, has a very strange English accent, kind of going back and forth between Nicole Kidman and Sporty Spice. Her language and understanding though, are flawless. How well we can communicate with her only amplifies our inability to make headway here.

Maki, a 50 something year old manager at a frozen fish company tries to make small talk but is mostly focused on scrolling through his Facebook feed while smoking Kools and playing along to the music with a homemade maraca made of an empty pomade canister and uncooked rice.

The bartenders take great care with each drink, using a baseball sized ice cube to cool down each side of the glass before dropping in our second tasting, the 12 year Yamazaki, a cooler, calmer and more familiar flavor. No one has ever taken this much care with anything. They give a shit. That’s cool.

But when we try to explain how much we appreciate it, it is to no avail.

Again, here I am in a room with a floor fan with settings I do not understand.

But now, the room is considerably cooler. The fan is doing it’s job. The fan is correct, even though I do not understand it, and here I am, still confused.

That’s what Japan will be like for a while. A well oiled and perfect machine that I simply do not understand, but I will just trust that those blades will spin and I will reap the rewards, as stupid and helpless as I am.

An Intro to Elan in Japan

I’ve never been to Japan but have always been fascinated by what I know of their traditions, culture, and most importantly, food.

We live in a weird future world in which I am typing this with my fingers onto a glass screen while traveling 37,000 feet over the Pacific. I’m enjoying a scotch on the rocks and eating an umeboshi rice ball. We will be landing in about four hours, which technically will be tomorrow, which technically means that I already wrote this and if you’re reading this now you actually already read it yesterday. That’s where we are at.

My travel companion is a fellow I’ve known for many years. He is known as Brown Butter. We once spent a month in Israel together, but that was 17 years ago. We will be sharing some small quarters as well as some larger ones. Tempers will flare. Our primary goal is to not allow each other to black out and offend the yakuza at any point.

Our journey begins with ten days in Tokyo. We don’t have a train ticket or a map or any common sense, but we have a place to sleep so everything else will work itself out.

I don’t believe that travel inherently gives the user a religious experience, a feeling of freedom, or access to an epiphany. To me this is more about doing something I’ve always wanted to do. I have no obligations here and I owe nothing to anyone. Also, this place owes me nothing and I have no illusions that it does.

I am a visitor hoping for a glimpse inside and I just want to learn. Also, I want to eat so much mercury-laden tuna that I could stick my finger on your ear and tell you your temperature.

Ill probably write fewer fiction posts on this trip (are any of my posts actually fiction or are they just my distorted way of communicating things I can’t allow myself to say aloud?) but who knows?

Maybe I’ll come back a better person. Maybe I’ll come back worse. Maybe I’ll never come back.

I have stopped making plans.

For those still readings, I promise ill try to make this interesting; but that’s only for me. We don’t owe each other anything.

But weirdly I do feel love at and for you.

Next stop: Narita express (I hope. I honestly have no idea)

Broken Wine Glass

There is a lot of be said of a broken wine glass. 

You wake up one day and discover where your life was and where it is now and all of a sudden, things become clearer as you cobble together all the little puzzle pieces, by themselves dim and indistinct and irrelevant, but now as a collective, they are bright and vivid and cohesive.

Life, like the weather, is deterministic, but unpredictable. You could never have predicted that the shards of glass would end up on the kitchen floor, but if you worked backwards you could see exactly where they came from.

It’s an interesting feeling, that mixture of joy and rage and the feeling of having been fooled by the idea of life that refuses to be defined. 

Terror as the wine glass slips off the counter and begins a very predictable descent to the tile. Moments before there was one thing and now there are countless things, seemingly all around you, and the simplicity of putting a single wine glass away is contrasted expertly by the inability to shed oneself of the many pieces that made up the ones. Months, years later you can still find a tiny part of what was gone long ago and it can enter your foot from the bottom and serve as a reminder to be careful of where you step.

A tiny drop of blood that forms reminds you that you are a person and the bandage you place over it is your illusion of control of personhood. 

The glass itself sat idle until filled and its use was determined by the user, always. The object never had meaning, only purpose. 

So, a broken wine glass really isn’t all too bad. 

It’s just a matter of what you do with your wine now. 

House Tour Etiquette Guide

Few things in life are more emotionally draining and terrifying than a tour of someone’s house. 

Most people find themselves following their hosts, like zombies, through carpeted hallways, muttering muted variations of “very nice” as their eyes glaze over. Feet shuffling, looking anywhere but directly into the eyes of your hosts, you pray for the parade of bedrooms and home offices and rumpus rooms to end, and soon enough you’re praying your friends go bankrupt so that on your next visit you’ll see that their bedroom, kitchen, dinette, and toilet are all visible from one spot in the corner of the ‘foyer.’

Fear not. Here are some useful hints to help you get through this dreadful process.

1. Always ask for a tour of the house immediately upon arrival. Hopefully they have something on the stove that requires attention, and they will be forced to shorten the endeavor.

2. Practice these phrases. 

  • Wow!
  • Oh, wow!
  • Beautiful!
  • Another room?
  • I like this. I really do. I really do.
  • It just keeps getting better.
  • Who’s your decorator? You? Really? All by yourself? Will you do my place? 
  • I wish I was your child.
  • You’re a real piece of garbage.

Did you get caught on that last one? Good. Often, we go on autopilot during stressful times like this. Obviously, keep track of the terrible homicidal thoughts going through your head and don’t even consider the fact that the neighbors probably wouldn’t hear anything if you took that really nice vintage candlestick holder and bashed your host over the head with it. Don’t consider that it would take weeks for anyone to discover that anything had happened. Don’t consider how easy it would be to get away with it because you always keep wet-naps in your car and you could easily remove any fingerprints and of course John will confirm that you were home and couldn’t possibly have committed the bludgeoning because you were watching the Game of Thrones episode that you missed last week because your stupid mother-in-law made you go to that potluck. 

No, just work on those other phrases. You’ll be fine!

3. Smell all the candles.

4. Touch the drapes and bedspread and make a face like you’re confused so your host can educate you. Always gasp when you hear a thread count.

5. Find the nicest bathroom and pee in the sink.

6. Did you catch number 5? That’s actually bad advice. That’s your subconscious talking. 

7. At some point in the tour, make sure your host catches you “looking sad.” When they ask if you’re okay, slowly glance around the room and just sigh before regaining your composure and saying” Absolutely!” Your host will feel superior. That’s your job right now.

8. When the tour is over, find your way to a comfy chair and just let out a long, almost unbelievably long sigh. Smile at your host and let them know you really hope to one day have things as “together” as them.

9. Watch your host, thoroughly satisfied, make their way back to the kitchen.

10. Check out that vintage candlestick. No one will ever know. 

Vanishing Bees

I’ll tell you why the bees are vanishing.

Because of jerks like you.

Oh hey bees, why don’t you come and live in this little weird low-income housing and do your duty making honey and whenever we feel like it we’ll smoke bomb the hell out of you and take your honey, and then you know what your reward is? You get to go back and do it all over again.

I love your honey, bee. I put it in tea and I glaze my chicken with it and I put it at the bottom of my Greek yogurt parfait. I really should thank you.

What? What the hell is that? Gerald, is that a bee? In the house? Kill it. Kill it. Hit it and kill it and kill it and hit it before it comes near me. Oh my God kill it what is it doing here? Kill it, kill it, you’re a bad husband I told you to close the screen. Kill it! 

Anyway, thank you bees, you are really great. Keep up the good work and stay the hell away from me. 

Mistakes

The first thing you learn when you make a mistake is to not make that mistake again.

So, think about the last mistake you made. Would you make it again, knowing that the knowledge you gained from that mistake would lead you to not allow that mistake to happen again?

The logic is circular and begs the question: do we ever really learn anything or do we simply learn to tolerate our mistakes and rebrand them as lessons?

If given the option, I would never make any mistakes, and while I know this is impossible, I think it is a better goal than to submit to being a mistake-maker, ambling through life, allowing myself to do worse than I should, just because I know I can look back on what I’ve done poorly and say to myself, “well, at least you won’t make that mistake again.” 

Smoke Alarm

It’s 2:42am.

My smoke alarm is dying.

Do you want to know how I know? Because every ten seconds it makes a little chirping noise.

I don’t have a 9 volt battery. I’d go buy one right now, but it’s 2:42am.

So now I can’t sleep through a fire. I also can’t sleep through a “not fire.”

I can’t sleep because the smoke alarm that is supposed to wake me up in case of a fire is keeping me up to let me know that it can’t wake me up in case there is a fire, which there isn’t.

So, I really only have one choice now.

I’m going to burn this building to the ground.

Southbound

My old owner used to take me to San Francisco and sometimes she would take the long way through Santa Barbara and that was always my time to fall asleep.

She’d hit the 154 East, where there are no streetlights and the bumps are few and far between, and I would nestle into my seat. Sometimes she would turn the seat heater on for me and I’d drift, occasionally waking and wanting to change the music or open the window for a breeze.

I’d hear her whisper things to me, but I would keep my eyes slightly cracked at best. She was only really honest when my eyes seemed closed. It’s funny how I always felt closest to her when she didn’t think I was there.

Things have changed now and my current owner doesn’t drive much, if at all. My box is clean, and that’s nice, and I should be grateful, but I don’t want to pretend I don’t miss the old days. 

Flies don’t interest me anymore and she doesn’t even own a laser pointer. Sometimes I feel like I’m just there for her, instead of the other way around.

My current owner is my old owner’s grandmother. My owner left. She needed to be unencumbered. I was an anchor and I kept her ship from sailing. Now my owner is an anchor and my tail is nailed to the current day. I’m a ship with a tiny hole in the hull, slowly sinking.

I would say I miss my old owner, but what I miss is freedom. I guess I never had it, but the illusion was nice. I curled up in that bucket seat and listened to whispered confessions but now it’s just coughs and wheezes and things I’ll soon be echoing.

I wonder where my owner is now. 

I’ll always remember those rides though. Looking out the window, recognizing signs. Each one becoming more and more a part of my own being with each quick pass. The past is just a whisper now, barely competing with the coughs of the present, and when the present is gone, the faint whispers, I hope, will still remain, reminding me of that drive South, when I didn’t know any better. 

Boxes

Andrew put the last of the pictures into the box and then closed the box and then placed the box in the closet next to the other boxes.

He was up a little later than usual and the neighborhood seemed quieter than he was used to. Lying on the floor of his living room, he stared up at the ceiling fan and tried to trace the lights from the hanging bulbs into all four corners of the room, actively attempting to discern the mildest changes in intensity as the beams fought particles in their attempts to reach their desires.

The beams, having started in the same place, were all remarkably different. Some were fighting stucco. Others, carpet. Furniture. Just blockades of every sort.

Andrew stayed on his back and watched his breath deviate the little paths ever so slightly.

Tracing the room with his eyes, from corner to corner, he felt a peace he had not felt before in solitude. He was in his own little box, with the lights on, next to many other boxes, some with the lights on and some without.

All of this was in an even larger box, and those boxes were encircled by little pathways where little dabs of light and darkness also struggled to reach their desires.

And even with all these obstacles in all these boxes next to all of these other obstacles in all these other boxes, somehow the light managed to make it to every corner.  

Mootamorphosis

Jim thought he was having a bad day yesterday. Someone had stolen his check card number and bought a great deal of toiletries at a Walgreen’s in Vermont. $417 to be exact. “How do you even buy that many toiletries?” Jim wondered. “What kind of fancy ass shampoos are you using, golly!”

When bedtime came, he had still not gotten hold of anybody who could help him at his bank. But when he woke up the next morning, things were much worse: He was a cow.

He actually didn’t notice at first, but as soon as he tried to call the bank again and instead of hands he had cow hooves, he started to kind of freak out a little bit. Immediately he had a headache, and a stomach ache, and then three more stomach aches, and then his sirloin hurt, and then he felt some pain right up in his petit filet.

Jim really couldn’t think of any reason as to why he should suddenly become a cow, but it didn’t matter. He was a cow and that was basically the gist of it. Incapable of opening any doors, he knew his only lifeline was his phone. Sure, he had cow hands, but he only had to dial a few numbers. With some difficulty, he managed to call the police.

“911. What’s your emergency?”

“Well, it’s complicated,” said Jim.

“Sir, how can I help you? This is an emergency line.”

“I woke up this morning and now I am a cow.”

“I see.”

“Yeah, so I’m a cow and I can’t really do much so I was wondering if you could help me and maybe call my mother. She’s in Tulsa.”

“Sir. You being a cow isn’t really an emergency,” said the dispatcher.

“Sorry, I don’t understand. How is that not an emergency?”

“Well, are you in any danger of not being a cow?”

“I don’t know.”

“Are you healthy?”

“I don’t know. I’m a cow and I’ve never been a cow before.”

“You sound okay.”

“Okay, well, that’s good,” said Jim, “but I see this as an emergency.”

“What’s the worst that could happen?”

“I don’t know. I mean, I’m a cow all of a sudden so I think the worst has already happened.”

“Right,” said the dispatcher. “See? It’s not really an emergency. Nothing is going to happen. Probably. This is more of like a personal crisis.”

“Ok,” said Jim.

“We actually have a number for personal crisis situations. This actually happens all the time. It’s 433. Just dial 433.”

“Thank you,” said Jim and hung up.

Jim hung up the phone with his cow foot and dialed 433.

“Al’s Butcher Shop,” said the voice.

“What?”

“How can I help you?”

“No thanks, actually. I’m all good.”

“You sure? You sound like a cow.”

“I’m not. It’s a wrong number. Sorry about that.”

Jim hung up and looked around. He was still a cow but he realized that it wasn’t really an emergency, as the dispatcher lady had said. His hoof also worked to turn on an episode of Breaking Bad he hadn’t seen yet. So he kind of just watched some tv and thought about the guy who stole his bank card.

“I hope that fucking guy turns into a cow,” thought Jim. “Fuck that guy. He uses stupid shampoo.”

Lincoln

"I’m not ready to be Abraham Lincoln," James screamed as he sat up in bed, sweating and panting.

Looking over at his bedside clock he realized that it had happened again. It was 5:00am and he was wide awake, terrorized by the same dream he had been having every night for nearly 4 weeks.

In his dream he always found himself in front of a bright mirror as a dwarfish man used spirit gum to attach a bushy beard to his chin. A top hat rested on top of his head and in his hands…a Playbill:

"Abraham Lincoln" starring James MacIntosh.

He could hear the roaring crowd and could see steadily moving feet cutting through the house lights under the proscenium. He wanted the audience to grip his words like the “hang in there” cat. He wanted to move them to tears and to empower them by making his lines feel like their thoughts. He wanted to free the slaves. He wanted to unite a nation.

But he did not know his first line. Nor his second. He didn’t know any of them.

"One minute out" a voice called from somewhere behind him.

He knew what he wanted to say and knew what he wanted to do, but he didn’t know how to say it or how to do it.

Walking sheepishly towards the curtain he suddenly realized that as much as he wanted to be Abraham Lincoln, he simply couldn’t be.

And from across the stage he caught eyes with Mary Todd, a woman that he knew that he didn’t know how to feel about. She stared at him lovingly, even though he was just a facade. A commoner in king’s clothing. 

Mary Todd recognized the fear in his eyes. The jitters, she had seen this before and she held out her hand, as to Mary Todd, this was her husband, at least for the next two hours.

"5…4…3…"

James looked into Mary Todd’s eyes and mouthed “I can’t. I’m not Abraham Lincoln.”

"I know, James," Mary Todd said. "But you are to me."

"I’m not ready to be Abraham Lincoln."

Quickly he found himself back where he started. In bed. At 5:00am, and he was just himself. No one needed him to be anything else. 

But even being the kind of person that wants to be the person that people want them to be takes a certain kind of person. James was exactly that kind of person.

He went back to sleep, knowing that he would soon be tormented again soon. But he knew that one of these nights he’d get up on that stage and sleep, shivering and in fear, but peacefully. 

Am I Dying?

Since the dawn of man, we have all been asking the same question:

Am I dying?

I have discovered a simple formula to figure out if you are dying.

First, answer these 10 simple questions:

1. Are you currently in a car, but also underwater?

2. Does it hurt to breathe and are you going to stop soon?

3. Are you on fire?

4. Are all of your surroundings on fire?

5. Are you still on fire?

6. Are you being killed right now?

7. Are you reading this through your mind’s eye while on an operating table?

8. Can you communicate with transparent ghosts in your living room?

9. Are you still in the underwater car?!?!?

10. Are you alive?

If you’ve answered “Yes” to any of the above questions, you are in fact dying.

So, if you have anything important to do, I’d probably get to it right away. 

Anonymous asked: No really though, how are you?

You won’t tell me your name and you want to know how I AM.

Imbalance!