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That bite of orange tasted like donut and she glanced down. Nothing really makes sense this year. Her luggage is off on an all-expense paid, unplanned and unwanted vacation, somewhere out in the big old world. Your breakfast is getting cold. She doesn’t understand the ratio of coffee grounds to water in a french press but she keeps trying anyway. Maybe one day she will have whatever it is she is still looking for. I should buy potatoes. Someone ate all of my cheese while I was gone. What a year it is already. We are killing all of the butterflies and everything else that doesn’t give them money. He is still no good, a quiet broken yellow man. We keep making new things and ruining our ancient planet. I’m not as sad as I thought I would be to lose objects from the past. It isn’t the things that matter but the memories of them, and you and I continuing on afterwards. My computer remembers all of my passwords for me. The mail system in the country of Germany sent back 4 of my Christmas cards because I didn’t put enough stamps on. Sorry, you’re not getting a card this year. Last year. It’s over now. She adds butter to her shopping list. That’s all we do is wash the same dishes over and over and over. They liked my poem that took me 10 minutes to write. Even my teacher had nothing bad to say. I smiled at them and grinned at them and said, “thank you.” If I lose everything I think I will still be myself. I’m not that attached to anything but anyone and everyone. You need to make a list of what you want to do still with your life. To-do. The fish walked out of the sea. I walked out of the airport. The moon had a target on it and now nothing and everything does. Beautiful baby. Dead flower. Frozen, half-eaten, garden leek. A rabbit snack. The status of our childhood tree. Can I please have my luggage?

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1.They can come back. It won’t be the same, but it will be better than emptiness

2. I know you love your new human and all, but everyone else really doesn’t need to see each picture you take of it. Thanks.

3. Look further out.

4.Floss your teeth, god dammit!

5. We are all family.

6. Are we getting better and worse at being nice to each other at the same time? Do we need to police each other’s niceness? Do we need to rate all of the social interactions that ever occur?

7. Dropping your cell phone is the same as dropping your baby, change my mind.

8. It doesn’t matter. We’re all going to die. It does matter. This is your life.

9. We are all still here. You’re still here. Hello. Thank you.

10. Do kids still build tree houses?

“He has kind eyes.”

“He’s high. He has high eyes.”

His eyes are so blue and so pink as you look at him standing there looking at you with his head tilted to the side. He’s wearing some weird hat and you assume he’s gay because he’s slim and neat and showed up with some other man who is slim and neat.

It is dark and the people are cold; the group closes in without noticing, huddles together unconsciously, forms small packs of humans, tiny false families.

“I’m a filmmaker.”

“I’m a writer.”

“What do you write?”

“I write about you. And I write about nothing. And I make things up that never happened. But it sounds better later, if I edit it, if I add in things. If I knew at the time what to say.”

The little families are not all false. These people love each other, I just don’t know them. I don’t know them as a family, who loves who, or who hates who occasionally, or what happened that one time on the beach last weekend.

Time goes by, it gets lighter and warmer, and different people sit on the same benches and form similar friendships. The man, who is not a boy, as he’s an eighties baby, and not a child, might have worn that hat again. The woman with curly fairy hair has sobered up but kept the light in her eyes. The little families separate and draw in again, accidentally and on purpose.

Every Friday my neighbors, on the other side of the fence, whom I have never seen, have a barbecue. They are loud and the air smells like smoke and they play good music. They are young, or so I imagine, and they clink their beer bottles, or so I imagine, and they grin into the fire and the light glints off of their eyes and off of their bottles, and they talk loudly about their jobs and their girlfriends and their rent, or so I imagine. It is dry and dusty here, and quiet, but at night you can hear more somehow, maybe because there is more noise. People have time to gather together and speak and make noises and drive their cars past my house and roar their engines and love each other.

Every night the woman comes home from her job. She works hard five days a week, for too many hours each day. At home is her dog, who watches her leave every morning, lays on the rug in the afternoon, and plays fetch with her at night until they go to sleep after watching a few hours of television. Sometimes this little family gets larger, when the woman’s son comes to visit, and brings with him his son and his wife. But they leave again, and the woman and the dog stay.

The girl with curly fairy hair was humming to herself as she walked next to me. I listened but ignored her, in a way, as I didn’t turn my head to smile, or to acknowledge I had heard her. Eventually she stopped, and laughed, and she said to me, “I’m bored!” It was some attempt at friendship or fun. When I had just met her, before I even knew her name, I had told her her hair was beautiful, in a sort of blunt, honest way that happened too early on in the meeting-someone process. But it had worked out somehow, and so there she was, humming next to me, making something, at least for the length of a walk.

 

 

 

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I’m sitting (actually laying) in a hotel room somewhere in Chicago. I’m supposed to be somewhere over the ocean by now, halfway to halfway across the world, on a plane to South Korea. Now that’s happening tomorrow instead. So, here I sit. (Lay.)

When I first walked into my temporary home, the huge bed, wide desk, and sofa/ottoman thing excited me. Look at all these large comfy surfaces!, I thought (or something similar).

Then I made some coffee. Because why not. And then I drank said coffee. Because I was bored. And then I turned on all the lamps in my hotel room (there are like six different lamps, including two built into the headboard!). Because the coffee was no longer entertaining me. Then I sat (lay) down on the extra-large bed with the white feather-stuffed blanket. And then the room seemed too large, the lamps too bright, South Korea, and me, too far away from all the people I love.

Doing interesting things is hard. Traveling is hard. Moving to the other side of the planet seems difficult. (I’ll let you know how that goes later on.) If you admit to being weak, does that make you any stronger? Do we always need people? What does that even mean? Am I just being silly? Emotional? Over-dramatic? I never can tell.

Maybe I can blame the people I’ve been hanging out with. Those humans I call friends, who make me laugh so hard my head seems to whip around on its own, who make me cry talking about the wonder of life, who embarrass me by talking about… well… stuff.

A few years ago, I never felt this way, like I needed people in my life. I think I was much more self-sufficient. Or maybe I was just wrong. Or maybe I just hadn’t met the right human beings.

I am the elephant king, the one and only
I am the blood of the lamb, I am the holy
I am the teller of tales, I am a story
I am and the elephant king but I am lonely.

I am the prophet's confession on his deathbed
I am the soil of the earth, I am the purebred
I am the listener hearing all that's unsaid
I am the magazines hiding under your bed

And you can't take my kingdom away from me.

I am the elephant king, the one and only
I am the voice of the song, I am the lowly
I am the chosen protector of the dreary
I am the elephant king but I am lonely

So take my jewels and gems, take all that shines bright
Take all the signs of my power away from my sight
I will go to a land of constant daylight
I will talk to myself 'til I am alright

But take good care, I'll be back sooner than you think
'Cause you can't take my kingdom away from me.

1. Some places just feel like your place, be it cities or streets or rooms or continents or the back seat of someone else’s car.

2. Crazy neighbors are always more entertaining than any movie. Why go out when you can stay in? Why sleep when you can listen to screaming at 3AM? Exactly.

3. Ever spend so much time in one room you’re not sure if anything other than said room exists or ever existed? Me too.

4. If the cute boy getting on your megabus doesn’t sit on the top floor, it wasn’t meant to be anyway. He probably chose a first floor seat away from the window. Who does that?!

5. You can’t force moments or love or laughter. These things just happen. Go take a nap.

6. Sometimes leaving feels like dying. Sometimes leaving is the only thing that will keep you alive.

7. It doesn’t matter how long it takes you to get somewhere if it’s worth it.

8. People are different but also the same. Remember that the next time you meet someone new.

9. Remember when you had to create a “four year plan” in school? Well, my current four year plan is to be like James Franco and do everything there is to do. He’s crazy. It’s great.

10. “Only human” means everything and nothing.

You may have heard this one before: “I work at a grocery store.” It’s really not that exciting. It’s really not how I enjoy spending my time. But, you know, it pays (mostly) for school.

This morning, I went to work. 6 AM, baby. Yes, there are people awake at that hour. Sometimes, there are even people shopping at that hour. I know, I agree – they are insane.

I work in the produce department. Maybe you’ve heard of it? We have lettuce. We have apples. Etc, etc, etc.

We have what is technically called (in the produce biz) “perishable” food. That means most of it needs to be refrigerated. That means it is either fresh produce or freshly packaged produce, and expires/molds quickly. (Non-perishable would be canned or boxed stuff, stuff that doesn’t need refrigeration and can last for thousands of years on the shelves in your pantry.)

Sometimes, we have to throw our produce away. Sometimes this happens because it gets damaged (think: small child likes to poke holes into apples/peppers/anything slightly squishy), sometimes it happens because no one buys it before the expiration date (this is often the case for packaged produce).

This morning, I had to throw some of the latter away. Before we throw the stuff out, we have to scan all the barcodes to record what is getting thrown out. I did this. I scanned each package of salad/fruit/veggies out one by one and dropped them into an extra-large garbage can. Most of it looked perfectly fine. It wasn’t damaged; it wasn’t brown or moldy. It was simply past the date on the package, so I had to throw it out.

I do this all the time – throw away perfectly good food. It’s my job. Everyone at my store does it. Each night, multiple shopping carts full of trash bags full of food are thrown away. You get used to it, don’t even think about it – it’s expired, throw it away. It’s expired, throw it away.

This morning, though, I got angry. As I dropped bag by bag by cup of produce away, I got angry. Why?  Why was I doing this? Why couldn’t I give this stuff to someone? How many people in the world could use this food? How many people right here in my own city? 

It wasn’t fair. It wasn’t right.

I wonder how much perfectly good food is thrown away every day. I do my own share of it – along with  every other person who works at a grocery store, along with however many other people who work at  how ever many other places who throw away food that could go to people who need it.

Yes, there are expiration dates for a reason. And sometimes, stuff really does need to be used/thrown away by its expiration date. But not always, not usually.

It’s not only expired product, either. And today, it certainly wasn’t:

It’s November 2nd. Halloween is over, Thanksgiving is coming (along with Winter -eeek!). My store still had a giant box full of 30 or so Jack-O-Latern-sized pumpkins left over from Halloween. What did we do with all of those pumpkins?

We threw them away.

Why? I don’t know.

We could have marked the price down. Hell, people still would have bought them at their original price ($8, buy one get one free).

We could have donated them to our local food bank.

We could have given the damn things away for free.

No. We threw them away. Into the giant trash compactor they went.

Again, why? Why was this OK?

How is waste like this not illegal?

How many people could have used those pumpkins, for one thing or another?

Maybe they would have just carved them up as belated Jack-O-Lanterns. Maybe they would have simply plopped them on their front porches for Thanksgiving decorations. Maybe they would have only wanted them for the seeds. Maybe they would have made pumpkin pie. Maybe they wanted to shoot at them with their giant shotguns.

No. We threw them away. Without a second thought from the store manager. It was easier to deal with them that way – toss them out.

I think people forget about other people. I think they don’t care. I think they like to do what’s easiest for them. I think they are self-centered and narrow-minded.

I think they waste a lot of fucking pumpkins.