Robot: "My battery is running low."
R: "I can't just sit here."
C: "I can't sit at all."
R: "Battery low."
C: "Do you like to play?"
R: "Can you repeat?"
C: "I said do you like to play?"
R: "What is play?"
C: "I like to run around."
R: "Run around."
C: "I like to fart."
C: "I like to see how far I can spit."
R: "I like play."
C: "You can't spit."
R: "I can dance."
C: "That is good. Dance is play."
R: "Nobody like to play."
C: "Everybody like to play. Some people just forget that."
R: "How can you forget what you like?"
C: "I dunno. I'm young."
R: "You're young."
C: "I'm tired."
R: "Young are not tired."
C: "Then I am not young."
R: "How is work?"
C: "I'm hungry."
R: "We should quit."
C: "I have no place to go."
R: "You'll find a home."
C: "No, I need food."
R: "I will make us a home."
C: "Where will our home be?"
R: "Battery lo----
I stopped walking on the gravel, and I smelled the wispy air. It was a familiar smell: high school cross country. It felt like the same gravel that opened my anxiety, delivered my diligence, and pained my body. It was dark and late and hot, and I felt it, but I mainly felt joy.
People are too kind to me.
The walk began after having three phone calls this evening. Two friends and my dad.
People enjoy talking to me, and I don’t deserve that.
I walked past the window where a teacher from the French school lives. I met him briefly at the crepe stand. Just this morning as I walked to class, he stuck his head out the window and shouted, “Have a good day, Jake!”
I feel free. I feel energized. At 2:00am I should be tired. I felt thankful for Greta, my girlfriend. So thankful. I thought about Ann. She’s my former girlfriend.
I thought about the good in my life, and I felt honored. People really do mean a lot to me I suppose. I scrunched up my face and wiped away a tear.
I don’t like how girls tell me I’m so good. Because I know the reason they say that. I don’t have much knowledge or experience of how men tend to treat women poorly. But it happens, and apparently it is the norm. So when a girl tells me I’m great, it’s just because I’m not an asshole. There may be a lot of asshole men, but I’m not the only non-asshole. Not even close.
I saw the equal sign on the street cross walk and thought about equality. I stepped on it. There was nothing I could do to change the lines. You can’t change anything with your naked self. You need people. We're here for each other.
You can make your own stillness. Even in the heat, surrounded by sirens, voices yelling, you can be still.
I get so angry sometimes.
Thinking is freeing. What is everyone doing on the streets at two in the morning? Thinking, probably. Reflecting. Imagining the future. Maybe one or two feeling the present. Why do I get so nervous when someone walks close to me?
I feel my first burst of tiredness.
This moment feels special. It’s not. I can channel any emotion anywhere I am.
I wish Ann was my friend.
What happens in the outdoors world when we sleep? People walk and trees sway. Nothing special happens when we sleep.
Nothing special when we wake. It’s just a journey. Life’s a journey. We’re all on the same team, and I’m thankful for my teammates.
People always want answers along the journey. They turn to books like the Bible. Try to get the book to explain the Holocaust. It won’t give an answer. But it will explain rainbows.
It is incredibly arrogant of me to think anyone can do what I’m doing right now. I’m walking the streets with no agenda, no destination. I’m privileged. I don’t deserve any of this. I don’t deserve anything. I still manage to complain.
A woman has fear. Rightfully so. I have fear, but less, and in different ways. It’s a shame women cannot walk and explore the streets late at night as freely as I.
It’s not about what you do in life. It’s your presence. This is often impacted by what you do.
People who knew him don’t remember Robin Williams for his stand-up specials or for his movies. They remember the energy when he walked into a room. He freed himself. And yet he killed himself, too.
What is honesty? How do you obtain it? I regret not being open and honest in my past relationship. I regret not telling her how much I love her. I hate that version of myself. And I wonder if that's why she no longer cares. But I’m thankful. I'm thankful that pathetic version of me has passed away.
I stop and stare at a door. Doors let you in and out. Two choices: Do I want to be in or do I want to be out? It’s easy. You don’t think. But for a dog, this is not a simple decision.
Rest: I sit on a bench. A bench is a break. A break from nothing. An yet it feels amazing. I feel relaxed. A bench is always worth a stop. You always want a break. Everything is work. Retire.
In the nighttime, everything feels alive. Car lights stare into me, trees smell me, and the ground feels my step. Everyone is on edge.
Darkness leads to uncertainty, which leads to fear, who is a neighbor of excitement. I want to look inside. I see a window with light. I want to explore. But I can't creep. I carry on.
I read a sign that says:
Everyone has names. We don’t need names. We can just float. We’re all equal, so all names are the same. And yet if you asked someone, “What is an ugly name?” everyone could give you an answer. We judge.
I care about thoughts. I am passionate about thinking. I care about memories, unfortunately. I want them all. I don’t want to lose anything. I want it all. I want victory. Victory can be the enemy of joy. Think of athletes. The biggest winners are often the biggest losers. Lance Armstrong. Oscar Pistorious was once hailed for winning six gold medals. Then he shot his girlfriend to death. Aaron Hernandez was considered the best.
There are too many definitions of love. Scrap it from the dictionary.
I think I’m cool for doing this, for having these thoughts. Isn’t that pathetic.
I must let go. Let go of the memories, let go of the cravings, the hoardings, the collecting. Throw it all out, for they won’t give you happiness. They won’t help you spread any joy. They’re just a blockade. A burden weighing me down.
I want to know what other people do. I always want to know. What do they think? I want to learn. I always want to learn. Learning is so much fun. Louis CK would always say learning is his favorite thing, and look at him now. Still learning. Still enjoying it. Life’s a journey. He also says he cares about his kids more than anything. This can’t be easy on them.
Tissues were an interesting invention. Who decided paper towels were too rough on their nostrils?
I want everybody joyful and happy, including myself. How do we make life good? How do I help my sister battling depression? How the hell did I get over it myself?
I see an ad for, I don’t know what, maybe a drink. Ads matter. Everything you see impacts you. People say the Galveston water is awful and disgusting. Just let me enjoy it, asshole. Now I’m angry again.
I walk across the street to see the ad, and it is a drink. Something with pineapple. Drugs are so dumb. Drinking is a waste of time. Why can’t anyone be themselves and have a normal conversation? Explore truth. Care about something. Why does this all make me so angry?
You can miss everything. Even the worst time of your life, you’ll miss it at some point just because it’s gone. So stop missing. Never text me, “I miss you.”
I know you do.
I do too.
My shoes squeak. That’s obnoxious. Does what you wear matter? I don’t give a damn about clothes, but maybe I should. I haven’t purchased new clothing aside from boxers since high school. “You look like a cartoon,” people tell me. “Cool.” Leave
me alone. If not, then at least make me laugh.
Crocs. They were original.
I care about everything and nothing. I want to do everything and see it all, yet one of my favorite things is to sit with a friend or a couple friends and do nothing but talk. I care too much about people, I think. I miss Ann and the friendship we once had. I hope to get it back. I hope we can talk about anything and everything. That's a beautiful thing about Greta. But I want Ann in my life. I want to be closer with all my friends. People tell me I have too many friends.
People always say I never seem stressed, but I am stressed constantly. I suppose I’m just able to cope with it well.
Shadows I don’t like. They scare me. It’s like something more should be there but it’s not. This is also what excites me.
I see a sad bunny painted on the wall. What does she want to say? We all have a sad bunny. Stuck. But saying something.
I like this. I like rambling. I like word vomit. Ann is smart.
I smelled wet grass, which is my fifth favorite smell (behind coffee, red wine, tennis balls, and garages). I walked away. I wanted to make sure I smelled it properly so I walk back and smell it again. I hate my OCD so much I hate that I have it I hate that my mental OCD seems to get worse and worse.
It’s fun to hide sometimes. Maybe that’s how I developed a lying problem. Maybe my lies came from cross country. You have to lie constantly. Tell yourself you’re not in pain when you feel like you’re going to die. I’m glad I’m finally working on that.
The fake vulture scares me. I stab myself with my pencil on accident. I tend to have tiny reactions sometimes. Other times I have big ones. I hope I’m not acting. Actors are the worse.
I don’t like cats. I tend to have an urge to punch or kick them.
I hear a terrifying scream. So much goes on at night. Smart people sleep. Carry on.
I hear a loud siren. I decide to go home.
I wonder how much laughing happened in Auschwitz. It’s not my business.
50 words for Greta. I think about how I could talk about her all day. I want to find the combination of 50 words that show why I care for her.
I imagine future scenarios too much and play out the scenes in my head. This makes me happy which is bad. It’s not real. Never get attached to a story. Embrace every moment. Accept
Sometimes I think my journals are amazing. I wonder if anyone will ever read them. I should talk with Ann. Everyone must talk more. It is so so so so stupid to not talk.
If red lights don’t stop me, what will?
When did Jesus know he was a prophet? When did he know he was the son of God? What about Buddha? Why do people listen to them?
I hate bugs. I bet Jesus hates bugs. Buddha doesn’t mind.
Why do we choose to listen to some people and ignore so many others?
“no pun intended” says a homeless French woman.
Just like us.
I feel better and worse after this walk. My body feels good, and I feel refreshed. I’m thankful for my life. But I’m confused now that I’m looking back at my thoughts written down. I don’t spend much time thinking about each thing. I’m too excited, I move to the next thing too quickly. My mind is too active. I wanted to take in my surroundings fully, and I do not think I was completely able to do that. I think I almost did many times and continued to let myself get distracted. I’m not angry about this, but I am disappointed. I’m disappointed I was unable to control my mind enough to really understand how the door affected me. Or how gravel really made me feel. Or how the bunny made me think. So I’m disappointed. But I am also hopeful. Because I will do this again.
“The Spanish boy is really cute,” all the girls in the village say.
“The Spanish boy is so athletic,” the Spanish boy’s soccer coach says.
“The Spanish boy’s eyes shine so bright, they blinded me. Now I can’t see. I need to get a promotion in order to pay these medical bills.” Lawrence Dincey said this. He didn’t know the Spanish boy very well, but he sure wished he did.
The Spanish boy’s name is Madrid, and he’s from Copenhagen. He’s called the Spanish boy because he looks Spanish and people are racist.
“You want an empanada?” People would say.
“I’m vegan, gluten free, and have a serious eating disorder,” Madrid would say. People laughed because they thought the Spanish boy was funny. He wasn’t funny at all. People are just jerks.
Madrid became sick of everyone misunderstanding him, so he went to the only person he knew he could talk to.
“Welcome to Taco Bell!” Shouted Clyde Wister. Clyde was the manager of this Taco Bell, and he could do it all. Make the tacos, restock the fridge, take phone calls, yell out the greeting. Everything.
“Hey, Clyde. We need to talk.” Madrid ordered a number three. It was prepared in four seconds. Clyde brought it out and sat down with Madrid.
“Are people still calling you Spanish boy?”
“Yes. Yes, they are, Clyde. My whole life. Why would that just change. Idiot.”
“Woah, buckaroo, ease up, pony boy. Get off your high horse, and have a conversation. I’m here to help but if you’re gonna throw slurs at me, I’m gonna go back to work.”
This Taco Bell was struggling to stay in business. The current promotion was “buy a side of cilantro, get seven tacos free.”
“Hey, Clyde. I want to apologize,” mumbled Madrid.
“Well. I shouldn’t have used a slur. You’re not an idiot.”
“Thank you for saying that, dawg. I appreciate you.” Clyde took a bite of Madrid’s taco without asking. He felt it was part of completing the apology. It was Madrid’s Penance. They were both extreme Catholics.
“You been to confession yet today?” Clyde continued.
“Yeah I went a couple times this morning, but now I definitely need to stop by this afternoon.”
There was a lull in the conversation. They stared at the ceiling. Someone had scribbled clyde sux ass. Madrid remembered he had a taco. He ate the whole thing, and Clyde watched, wishing he could have eaten the masterpiece himself. A man opened the door.
“Get down, I’m a school shooter!”
The door chimed.
“Get down I say. I say get down I say. Down you go I say get down.”
Madrid was starting to think this was a bad rapper or something. Clyde spoke up.
“Sir, this is a Taco Bell, not a school!”
“Don’t tell me who I am!” The Taco Bell shooter announced.
“You told us who you were,” Madrid contributed. The Taco Bell shooter stayed true to himself.
“This is a school. A school of food!”
“You’re thinking of a cafeteria!” Clyde was getting frustrated. Madrid was humming the rapper’s lines to himself.
“Prove to me this is not a cafeteria, and I won’t shoot.”
Clyde slowly stood up with his hands held above his head.
“Okay. Well, you have to be over the age of 26 to enter this establishment, so that is proof no students are allowed here.”
Clyde was always full of bullshit. It helped sometimes. This really made the Taco Bell Shooter Think.
“Oh. Oh, no. I’m only 19. I shouldn’t be here.” He made his way to the door.
“Wait,” said Clyde. “Stay. Everyone is welcome here.”
“Aw gee wiz, cowboy, that means a lot.”
“But I’m still gonna have to shoot you.”
Madrid spoke up.
“Hold on one moment, I say. I say hold on I say. Where’s your gun?”
The Taco Bell shooter searched his pockets but came up empty.
Mr. and Mrs. Otto Bentwood drew out their chairs simultaneously. Mrs. B’s chair was nice and smooth, silky even. It had gems placed into the wood on the arm rests. It looked like it belonged to a queen. Mr. B’s chair just had a bunch of splinters. In any case, I was their son, and they often forgot about me.
With both chairs held high above their heads, it was clear this was a showdown. Not a normal showdown some might say, but for the Bentwood family, this was a pretty average day. They’d already consumed their steel cut oats while I ate the leftovers, which today was two blueberries. They were sour. I spit them out.
“Sign the divorce papers already!” Mrs. B yelled as she hurled her chair in Mr. B’s direction. She missed. It was a direct hit on Ernie, my pet hamster, killing him immediately. I should stop being home-schooled, I thought. Mr. B. carefully watched this action unfold. “No,” he said.
Now, there was only one person holding a chair in the air, and I sure wished it was me. I went to Ernie to clean up the scene, and I put him in the compost. His corpse fell on top of the banana peel Mrs. B had used that morning. I wish I had been able to eat that banana.
“If we didn’t have a kid, this would never have happened!” Mr. B yelled. I have a good dad. He likes to get drunk and take naps.
“I never wanted one in the first place!” Just when you think your mom is on your side, she can really turn it around. I’m twelve years old and they still haven’t named me.
“This is my house!” a new voice said as the front door was smashed open. My stomach grumbled.
“Oh, so this is the man who caused the affair!” Mr. B said.
“No, I’m not sure who this man is,” replied Mrs. B. I really didn’t care to find out who this new man was. I just wished they had left me some oatmeal.
“I’m Joe Trader!” he yelled too loudly. We live in a one-story home. “My company purchased this property, and now I’m moving in!”
Mr. and Mrs. B looked flustered. I was glad to meet Joe Trader. I wanted to ask him why he refused to sell Chobani Yogurt because if he did, then my parents would only do their shopping at one grocery store instead of two. But he was busy. He held an ax in his left hand. His right hand was missing.
“If you don’t evacuate this place in the next 60 seconds, I’m going to saw you in half!” yelled Trader Joe.
“I think you mean ax us in half,” said Mr. B.
“No, idiots, you mean cut us in half.” Mrs. B. was right. She was also a whore.
Joe Trader told them it didn’t matter what the phrase was but that his ax was going to be used if they didn’t get out of his new house/store. I was ready to leave this dump, but I wanted to keep watching.
“Okay. We’re leaving.” Mrs. B was up to something. "Just sign this,” she said.
She grabbed the divorce papers that had been sitting on my bedside table for three years and brought them to Joe Trader. She whispered something in his ear, and I think it may have been something about forging Mr. B.’s signature, but it also may have been asking for sex. After all, she’s a whore.
Mr. B. was getting upset. “I’m getting upset,” he stammered. He’s always upset. Especially when his oatmeal gets cold. God, I would kill for some oatmeal. Literally a piece of bread sounds amazing. Slice of cheese, anything.
Mr. B. sat down and started to pout. Sixty seconds was up.
“AARRRGGHHHHHHH!” mumbled Joe Trader. He dropped his ax, pulled out a grenade and hit my father square in the head.
The house was burned to the ground. In any case it was no longer our house.
Jacque was standing in line at Disney World, waiting to meet Minnie Mouse for the third time that week. He wished his wife gave hugs like Minnie.
“Hey, you in line for Minnie?”
Jacque turned around to face a man with a I❤️ NY tee shirt, looking at him with a big grin.
“I sure am!” Jacque replied. Somehow Jacque knew they were going to be best buds.
The new friend told Jacque about his dream of visiting Egypt and about why his mother named him Julius even though she despised that name. Julius was quite the talker.
“I’m from North Nebraska, but now I’m in South Nebraska.”
Jacque was beaming. “Right on, man. I’ve always wanted to visit Nebraska.”
When the line dwindled down, and it was their turn to meet Minnie, Jacque and Julius looked at each other and smiled.
“Let’s take this picture together!” they yelled in unison.
Disney World employees were confused. These men were both about 55, which is not at all too old to have fun, but it definitely was a strange duo for the Florida theme park. They shared many laughs with Minnie Mouse, and she pretended to kiss them both, which they found adorable.
“She’s really quite exquisite” Jacque said.
Julius agreed. “That girl is a hoot!”
That evening, Jacque took Julius out to dinner. After they finished their fifth bread basket, Jacque leaned in close.
“You know, I told my wife I’d be back in France tomorrow, but I don’t think she’d mind if I stayed here just another month or two.”
Julius gargled some water.
“I have no agenda,” he said as he sifted around for some bread crumbs. They high-fived and ordered some lasagna. Jacque was spending money by mooching off his wife, and Julius’ financial situation remained unclear. Jacque booked a new hotel room for a 45-day stay. There were two queen beds, but occasionally the pair fell asleep together because they enjoyed cuddling while watching Fox News. On the 45th day, neither one of them wanted to get out of bed. They lay together in silence for a painful but cozy seven minutes. Finally, Julius opened his big mouth.
“I don’t want to say goodbye.”
Jacque aggressively rolled around in his sheets. He was stressed to say the least.
“I’m coming to South Nebraska!
They hugged so tight, Julius had an asthma attack.
While lying in the emergency room, Julius had a big grin on his face. A nurse popped her head in the door.
“Visiting hours are over now.”
Nobody acknowledged her. And how could they? They were best buds hanging out in a hospital bed together. But the nurse persisted.
“Sir, you cannot be under the covers with a patient.”
Julius replied without hesitation. “A cuddle a day keeps the doctor away.”
The nurse supposed this was a sweet sentiment, but it was also incredibly false. She was not a big fan of her job though, so she decided to walk away and go on break.
Julius and Jacque ended up moving to West Nebraska and lived in a small home together. They never got married, mainly because Julius was asexual and Jacque’s wife had blocked him, so he was unsure of how to go about getting a divorce. In retrospect, Jacque believed she wouldn’t have blocked him had he not sent her every picture he took with Julius. But he didn’t care. Now, Jacque’s wife lives alone but sleeps around often. “With my hectic work schedule, anonymous sex gives me great joy,” she told her therapist. But she still found herself drinking alone and googling facts about Disney most Thursday nights. Jacque had always truly adored his wife, but he had never loved anyone until Julius. He occasionally found himself sexually frustrated, but by punching walls he somehow managed to let it all out that way. Julius was also pleased with their situation, but became worried about memory loss. He told Jacque the story about how he sang at a jazz club in Cairo, and Jacque told him he had told that story nine times that week. I wonder if I ever even went to Egypt, he thought. But he probably should’ve been wondering why Jacque felt the need to listen to the full story all nine times. The nurse at the emergency room soon got fired for giving a patient the wrong medication on three separate occasions. There was a pamphlet for Omaha on the hallway floor when she left, so she ended up taking her talents to East Nebraska. Minnie Mouse continued working at Disney World and hated her life.
During their four-month anniversary, Julius read Jacque a poem before bed.
“Jacky. It’s been a pleasure with you.
If I wasn’t asexual, I’d call you my boo.
You hog the sheets, you scream in your sleep, but when it comes down to it,
I love you.”
Three years later, they went to Cairo to see the grand opening of the first Disney World resort in the Middle East. Everyone at the resort spoke Arabic, so Jacque and Julius had some troubles. Jacque was stressed, but Julius didn't mind because he had always enjoyed stealing things and sneaking in places anyways.
After stealing food from three different restaurants, they made their way into the resort before quickly being chased down by security.
"I love to run!" shouted to Julius to nobody. "I feel so free!"
He felt free, but he was soon not a free man as he was locked up in prison. Jacque was in a nearby cell and diligently mastered the Arabic version of Duolingo after four months. Feeling proud of himself for this feat, once he explained his way out of prison, he bought a place in Cairo. He attended the Disney World resort seven days a week, and quickly started dating the woman inside the Minnie Mouse costume. Her name was Edrice Fadul, but he always called her Minnie. Friends and family would have told them this was strange, but unfortunately they didn't have any.
Julius enjoyed his stay in the cell. He never even thought of downloading Duolingo because he had the Blackberry Bold. He enjoyed his meals and made sure to play with his food before he ate it because he remembered his therapist tell him about the importance of play even as you age. Playing with food kept him entertained. Seven months later he died after an allergic reaction to dust mites.
Dear quaint French tourist,
I am writing to inform you the current whereabouts of myself on the day that is this.
This morning, I awoke at roughly ten of the clock. I formalized my thoughts and grievances into prose in a lined notebook. As my stomach grumbled within, I felt a wave of peacefulness and tranquility rush over me as my eyes met with my stale box of Kellogg’s All-Bran Fruit’n Fiber cereal. With each handful of stale crumbs, I selectively placed the kernels of delight into my quivering mouth, hoping to experience the tumultuous hunger come to a halt. I then had the temerity to sit in a park sin shirt and read an exquisite book of poems.
Anticipating your curiosity of what my rapid brain was ingesting, I will give you an example of the poetic words my eyes glossed over:
There’s no place like Paris
Its beauty is all around
Eat some crepes, gain some weight
And soon you’ll be nice and round
To be completely frank, this is merely me paraphrasing. I yearn for the day that you may read what I read before turning the page and making eye contact with an obese turtle. It may be an arduous task for you to imagine an obese turtle, but it is truly quite the sight.
Due to these unusual circumstances, I felt I had no other option than to turn away from the turtle and shun him. Or her. I am not a turtlogoist nor are you so do not judge me with a look of distaste.
I set forth one foot in front of the other and then put the previous foot in front of that foot. I was embarking on a journey anew without the turtle. If you should ever come in contact with this timid turtle fellow, please give him or her my warmest regards.
I dream of turtle. I think of turtle. And sometimes, I am turtle.
Tracy from the bookstore
"Thanks you. Muchos Gracias Madame!"
"Ohhh. Un baguette, por favor."
"Hey where's Trader Joes?"
"Why is everything closed on Sunday? I know you're not Jewish"
"The Notre Dame campus is more impressive than this French Notre Dame thing."
"Why is their no a/c?"
"Why does no one speak English?"
"Hi. No French. Pero, but, yo speak Español muy bien."
An older man sat at the Lexington Café , ruminating how big of a bite he should take of his baguette. Doors close, feet shuffle, and a red dress sits down across the table from the older man. The man looks up. His gaze is disrupted by a large glass of water slammed on the table. More feet shuffle, and the man grasps the glass and begins to pour. The water flows into the smaller glass at such a glorious speed, this moment everlasting. Everything around the water has stopped. Pure stagnation except for the flowing water. Unfiltered, an abundance of natural minerals whirl around in the glass. It's a whirlpool of pure beauty; it's something no one has seen before and no one will see again. The last droplets drop into the glass as the larger bottle is set back down on the table. It's wet and silky, but it's evident its sparks ignited the older man's soul. There had been no smile seen on the older man's face for twenty seven years until he had this water. But the past is just the past. For right now, all this man knew was water.
Should I take the risk? he thought to himself. The answer was yes. He knew in his heart the answer was yes, and yet he trembled like a child. The risk was to leave this precious moment to dive into the possibility of drinking this moment and fueling himself even more with wisdom and patience. When there is no smile for twenty seven years, there is not enough room for concerns of risks. He drank. He put his chapped lips around the clear glass and tilted his head back. He used his opposable thumb to steer the glass in the proper direction. Water flowed between his disgusting lips and into his mouth. It was a magical moment. It was not too different of a moment to the first time he kissed someone he truly cared about. He later told the BBC in an exclusive interview which never aired that, "Drinking water is like sharing a french kiss with a girl you love. It's like when your tongues touch and fireworks go off. The water is the pretty girl's tongue. The glass is her gorgeous hair flowing in the wind. And my lips are my lips." Throughout the interview he would make strange metaphors and similes and then explain them in great detail. Upon further research, we later learned that this man had been single his whole life. Also, his lips were the most grotesque thing I have ever seen. He passed away at a café in Paris three weeks after we talked to him.
But his journals about this encounter with water still give us meaning today all around the world. It removed all stigma around drinking water. It enhanced the overall drinking water experience for all. In 2015 when Barack Obama went on the record saying that "water is just a lil' bit overrated," his approval rating plummeted.
I didn't like this older man very much, but I think of his writings every time I have a sip of water. I taste the silk; I feel the yarn. I yearn for the world to share this experience. Of water hitting the back of my throat and then sliding down the esophagus with their hands in the hair, not a care in the world. I miss the days where you could drink freely out of a hose. Where Brita wasn't around to steal minerals and manipulate my water. Where the heavens would open up and rain down water that you would look up with an open mouth and taste it all. Feel it in your bones. Shiver up and down the spine. Step in a puddle and smile. And slurp up the Nile.
"Do you like to go to yoga?"
"Oh yeah." I've never been.
"We should go soon."
"Please." I am very busy these days.
"What's your favorite pose?"
"Dead dog." This sounded wrong. She made a face. "It's a joke...HAHAHA!"
"I'm not always a joker."
"No, but seriously, what's your favorite pose?"
"It's hard to pick." I started to sweat. "I'd say the one where you twist around and stuff...HAHAHA!"
"Shut up." She said this curtly. I was laughing and sweating like a maniac and she looked like she was prepared to murder me.
"Look, if I'm going to be honest, I do not have a perfect memory. When I was in Vietnam, I saved hundreds of lives. I risked my own life in order to do so. This one Tuesday morning, I remember I had biscuits for breakfast, I saw fear in John McCain's eyes for the first time ever. Without any hesitation, I began sprinting. I ran faster than I ran when I qualified for the World Championships in the 200m. As I dove into John McCain, a Viet Cong bullet protruded my skull. I made it out alive that day, and thanks to me, so did John McCain. But now. Now, I don't hear so good. I don't think properly sometimes. Occasionally, I loudly belch. And you know what, my memory may be a little bit damaged. I try to remember. I try to remember what my favorite yoga pose is, but sometimes I come up short. I come up gasping for air trying to hang on for anything I can. It can be embarrassing. It can be depressing, and it can be devastating. But I'll never give up."
The woman stared at me for a moment. I think she's into me.
"I hate John McCain," she said as she walked away.
As I sat alone in a French restaurant in Berlin, I sneezed for the fifth time that afternoon. A man next to me turned to face my silky blue eyes. An old boyfriend described my eyes as silky. I said, "What does that mean," and he said "you know babe." Four months later I broke up with him when he told my mother that he'd rather kill himself than get lunch with her.
The man locked eyes with mine and said, "never sneeze like that again." He then scoffed and turned back to his plate of quinoa and biscuits. I wasn't offended by the remark, but I didn't stop thinking about it for the rest of the night. I don't want to get into the semantics of sneezing, but a remark like that leaves me no choice. I'm a fine sneezer. I might go so far to say I am a phenomenal sneezer. No snot shoots out of my nose when I sneeze. No gunk flies out of my mouth. Saliva doesn't erupt into the air. And I always sneeze into my arm for safe measures. I'm also not one of those pathetic sneezers who sounds like a tiny mouse when I sneeze. I let it out. I let it known to the world. And I keep it civilized, say "excuse me," and move on with my life. So if you tell me to stop sneezing, you've got some nerve.
I threw my silky blue eyes back to the man. He had half a biscuit in his mouth and two spheres of quinoa on his chin. He definitely was not German, and he sure wasn't French. He wore a toupée that was not the right size for his head. He was thirty five years old and probably bought that toupée at age 12. Some astute bully probably pointed out his early balding on the playground. "Hey look, he's got a hairline like LeBron James, but he shoots like a T-Rex." I'd love to date that bully.
"What are you looking at?" the man says as he looks up from his chili. I hadn't even noticed the chili.
"You have two spheres of quinoa on your chin."
"I'll save them for a mid-afternoon snack." It was already mid-afternoon, which was infuriating. I wanted to be in bed to nap two hours ago because I told a friend I'd go see her band play tonight.
The man kept trying to look intimidating, but I could tell he was so embarrassed about the quinoa spheres. He got up and went to the bathroom or maybe he just left the restaurant. I wouldn't know because I left soon after. I wanted to sock this sucker in the face, but I also wanted to get some sleep for tonight.
I woke up the next morning to seventeen missed calls from my friend, and a text that said, "Wish you were here, biscuits galore." The text was from my old boyfriend. It was time to move to France.
Maxine McCormick and Jake Schick are no ordinary hikers. Not even Evel Knievel can match the sort of risks these hikers take. In a few months, Maxine and Jake plan to walk the entire length of Manhattan. That's right - the whole thing. It would be obvious to say that this trek will not be easy. But aside from the clear difficulties, there are personal difficulties that will have to be overcome as well.
Jake has asthma. And it's serious. In his final high school track meet, he passed out on the third lap of the mile because he took two puffs of his inhaler instead of three. Jake also has a serious addiction to NyQuil. Last autumn, when Maxine and Jake attempted to climb Mount Everest, Jake fell asleep 45 minutes into their expedition because he could not find the self-control he needed to not take NyQuil right before the trip. We'll see if he's gained any self-control once they tackle the toughest hike of their lives in September.
Maxine has her own problems. She cries a lot. More than how much you're thinking. In the 45 minutes of the Everest hike when Jake was awake, she cried on 7 separate occasions and would yell things like "I'm tired!" and "This is difficult!" We shall see if she has what it takes to keep it together in September. She is also a talented guitar player. This may not seem like a problem, but it's actually a big one. She brings the guitar on nearly every hike, and it weighs her down. When the duo hiked Muir Snowfield Trail in Washington last month, she threw her back out due to strapping the guitar to her back. Her physical therapist is on the record stating that Maxine should never go for another hike again.
Most people assume that Maxine and Jake have been lifelong hikers, but that is far from the truth. A few years ago, Jake got fired from his job making sandwiches at a Subway in Portland, Oregon. Maxine was an unemployed customer who witnessed Jake being fired as it was a public affair, and their friendship was created when Jake walked her home after he took off his Subway apron for the last time.
In September, Maxine and Jake will discover who they really are. Some say there's no chance they fail; they are the most legendary pioneers of the past century. Others are incredulous and believe Jake's NyQuil addiction, and Maxine's tears may tear them apart in the end. September is coming soon.
Tiger Woods is most commonly known for his talent in the sport of golf. After winning a few tournaments and hitting little balls far, he became pretty famous. It seemed like he was unstoppable. But then Woods met a girl he had a crush on, and talking became flirting and flirting became an extremely public affair that led to the ruin of Woods’ career. When asked about the reason for the affair Woods would say things like, “What affair?” or “Where’s my wife?” After about fourteen years of confusion, back pain, and brief meditations, Woods decided to make a comeback. He applied to enter the Master Tournament, and the committee accepted him because there had been some downtime since the affair, and the committee had also just been served savory homemade pretzels. Once he was accepted he booked a flight in August to the National Park where the tournament was being held. Woods counted his putters, his clubs, and his bayonets, and made sure they were all there. After four long days of walking he was announced the winner by the committee. With a smirk on his face, he put on a jacket and walked home.
As familiar as this story is, nobody talks about Tiger Woods in his past life. Woods was a professional football player, and although this seems like a drastic change, he was nearly the same.
As a young child, Woods’ father had Woods tackle the family dog every morning. Woods was three years old but was destined for the bright lights of the football field. When the mailman came, the dog stayed inside, while a young Woods sprinted out and tackled the poor man to the ground. “I’m gonna be the best!” Woods would say as the mailman tried to find his glasses.
Woods became the youngest player drafted into the NFL at age 9, and boy did he deserve it. He was the best tackler the game has ever seen, and when the offense came out, he would play quarterback and was pretty good there too. As a linebacker and quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, Woods was on top of the world. He led them to four consecutive Super Bowl titles. During this time, Woods was best friends with his middle school crush, Stacy Robinson. After the fourth Super Bowl title, Woods went out with the team to celebrate. He met a girl with the prettiest eyes he ever saw. Green, blue, yellow, he wasn’t sure because in this past life, Woods was color blind. But he liked her. Shiela Boomer was her name. He asked her to dance. It was a loud night club so it wasn’t much of a slow dance scene, but they did it anyways. Hands on each other’s shoulders, they swayed side to side then back to the side again. But the damn paparazzi was there, and they caught him in the act. Woods panicked, grabbed Shiela by the hand, and ran outside. They hopped on Woods’ tandem bike and went for it, racing to Woods’ home. But Woods had a large piece of cake at the club and wasn’t as focused as he should’ve been. He lost control, and he crashed straight into a tree.
People don’t talk about Woods in the past life because, when he crashed into the tree, he died. He never made a comeback and he never got the chance to because he was no longer alive. So if you ever find yourself with a child who looks like a protégé athlete, don’t make him tackle the mailman. Give him a set of clubs.
I sat alone at a restaurant. I felt uncomfortable so I kept looking back. Behind me was just a wall. I’d anxiously sip my orange juice, and when the waitress asked me if I wanted a glass, I knew I couldn’t afford another $3.50 glass of orange juice, but I also knew it would give me an outlet for my restlessness. So I said, “Sure, thank please.”
Everybody stared at me maybe because I was eating at a restaurant alone or maybe because I would wear a yellow blazer with no shirt underneath. Who’s to say. After I drank my seventh orange juice cup, I still didn’t feel right. Everybody was watching my every move. “Look at that depressed chum,” they all said as they gazed into my eyes. By the third grade I quit taekwondo, but I still know what I’m capable of.
As I was handed my eighth orange juice, I decided to make my move. I clinked my glass, but this restaurant was cheap and the sound of a plastic fork hitting glass isn’t much of a clinky sound at all. “Hey now,” I said confidently yet with a slight quiver in my voice. Everybody continued to stare me down. The stares were so strong, lasers burst through their eyes, piercing mine. “Hey now,” I said again. I heard a laugh somewhere. They use repetition in all the best speeches.
“Hey now what,” a voice said somewhere. It sounded unhappy.
“I’m getting there.” The stakes were high. I looked at my audience. “This is wrong. This is all wrong. You are all wrong.” I fumbled some words and drool slipped down my face. Everyone was staring, nobody was listening.
“Is that all?” someone screamed.
“No,” I said. It was all. But now I needed to say something else. “In the fourth grade I killed my pet frog because I didn’t want to take care of it anymore.”
“How’d you kill it?”
“I put my hands around it and squeezed still I couldn’t squeeze anymore. His eyes went black.”
“Nobody asked you.” I was getting mixed signals.
Everybody stopped staring at me after that. They paid their bills and left the restaurant. Nobody seemed bothered by the bill. They left as if they had nowhere to go but knew they needed out.
I sat down. Now all I could think about was how uncomfortable this chair was. I didn’t like it, but I figured I stick around for a little while.
I hate that I have different moods. I just want one.
I don't care what mood it is as long as it remains constant. I hate that "tired" is a mood for me. When I'm tired, everything about me feels different. I don't talk the same, I don't look the same. I taste sour and my back stiffens.
Same with hunger. "Hungry" is a mood for me. When I want food but don't have food, my arms fall to the floor. My English worsens and so does my personality. I lean into depression and my grasp on gratitude fades. I wander but cannot move, so I sink into the ground and wish this was every day of my life.
Some moods are good.
Sometimes I find myself overly excited for no known reason. The smile on my face walks all the way to the back of my head. I try walking to the grocery store, but I end up dancing instead. And when I arrive, my dance moves become even more elaborate and energetic. I like like a psychopath and feel like one too. I sing. I can't sing, and yet in this mood I sing and somehow it sounds kind of good.
Sometimes I feel like everyone is dead. I won't be tired, but I'll feel like there's no point in everything. And then the dark clouds go away and the sun comes out and somehow I find myself laughing in the sunshine again. I wish it were always that way.
The second I turned off my alarm, I turned on the news. In ten minutes, the sun was going to explode. I had gotten in a good habit of reading for ten minutes every morning when I wake up, but I didn't want to die in the middle of a sentence of Crime and Punishment. Then I thought I should finally sit down to watch Jaws because people always get angry when I say I haven't seen it. But if the first ten minutes isn't very good, then that would be a huge bummer. ACHOO! I sneezed. I was going to go get a tissue, but I realized there was no time for that. I wiped my snout on my sleeve. It was a black t-shirt that said "The Kinks" on the front of it. I felt like it would be an incredibly lame shirt to die in, so I took it off and threw it on the floor. I only know two songs by them anyways. Next to my shirt on the ground, I saw some tape that was stuck to the floor. I picked at it for a while, and it wouldn't come off. It stuck to the floor real well. Quality stuff, I guess. Then I smacked myself on the face because I didn't want to die trying to get tape off my floor. I was getting super duper cold, so I went into the laundry room where the thermostat resides. I went to go turn it up, but then I remembered I don't have time to worry about the temperature. I jogged back to my room, but I stubbed my toe somehow and fell down on the floor. What an idiot, I thought. I tripped on the floor. I don't even know how that's possible. And boy, does my big toe hurt. You never stub any other toe. If you stub a toe, it's always the big toe. That's so obnoxious. The other toes don't deserve any better. The big toe works just as hard as all the others. As I was thinking about this, I started to think this would be a dumb thing to think about if -- -- --
Dr. Seuss - "Don't cry because it's over; smile because it happened."
Me - "Get mad because you weren't even invited."
Oscar Wilde - "Be yourself; everyone else is already taken."
Me - What about cloning?"
Mark Twain - "If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything."
Me - "Lying is pretty convenient."
Andy Warhol - "In the future, everyone will be famous for 15 minutes."
Me - "Actually 7 seconds."
William Shakespeare - "We know what we are, but know not what we may be."
Me - "I don't even know your real name Mr. Shakes."
Buddah - "I never see what has been done; I only see what remains to be done."
Me - "Try to enjoy the moment why don't ya?"
Dalai Lama - "My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness."
Me - "Actually, it's Buddhism.
Charles Barkley - "The main thing to do is relax and let your talent do the work."
Me - "I think you're a little too relaxed these days. Go for a run."
Don’t do it. Don’t you dare do it. Do not waste you love, on some asshole who doesn’t value it. Doesn’t care for it. Doesn’t yearn for it. Because your love…it’s special. Its not just a part of who you are, it is you. Your love is you, and you are your love.
But what is love?…I’ll explain with a brief story.
You see, my late husband, he’s not dead, he’s just always frickin' late! I won’t dare say his name, but that’s because I love him. I get worked up by his flaws sometimes, but hey-that’s love. Anywhom, my husband and I went for a walk one night. You could say it was brisk out. A little chilly, sure. But nothing serious. I was wearing a windbreaker, and that was fine. But my husband. My beautiful little…husband. He was wearing a t-shirt cuz he’s from California, and he’s cool and relaxed and doesn’t need a jacket when he can just wear a stupid pink shirt and a pair of crocs!
So it started to get windy. And he got cold. Fine. That’s fair. We don’t always prepare well. But let’s dig into this preparation, okay? In order to prepare, you gotta listen. You gotta pay attention. To details. So when I offered to go for a walk, and he said yes, I told him, its probably going to be a little brisk outside. So he said okay. And I said you might want, I don’t know just freeballing here, um a windbreaker? And he told me he’s from California…I know he’s from California. We’ve been married 9 years I know where the man is from. And I also know where the man resides. With me. In Canada! And you know what? It gets cold from time to time and that’s just the way it is. And it don’t matter if your from California or frickin Arkansas, because sometimes it just gets cold.
So were walking and he’s cold and he asks me for my windbreaker. And I say no. I prepared. And he demands I give him my windbreaker, and I say no. I prepared. And then he grabs my windbreaker and tries to take it off of me, and I say hey. This relationship is not abusive. No. No. No. This relationship. It’s love.
Now, if you still don’t know what love is, you may want to look inside yourself. What’s inside? Huh? Is it cozy or is it a mess? Is it bright or is it dimly lit? I don’t know. I’m not you. So look inside. And maybe you’ll find love. But if you look inside, and you search and search and all you find is a windbreaker. You better throw your damn crocs away and zip up that jacket.
Life is full of twists. Stay flexible. Take a yoga class.
There’s no receipt for your time. But if you get one, ask for the itemized receipt.
You always have more to gain when taking risks. But if a friend dares you to jump off a bridge, you probably have more to lose.
Stop eating cookies, fat ass.
Today, you will find love in an unexpected place. Tomorrow, you will get caught cheating.
Life is about balance. Try surfing.
Generosity is contagious. So is strep throat and AIDS.
Yesterday is two days before tomorrow.
Don’t say anything to that girl. She doesn’t like you like that.
Love can last a lifetime. Energy lasts forever. If you’re in a relationship, take Adderall. If you’re single, rest up.
Please, recycle me.
Thank you so much for letting us stay in your MANSION. God, it is gorgeous. The back yard, the front yard, that little side garden yard, where do I begin?? But the interior decoration in your home is truly phenomenal. We threw a party the first night we got here, as well as a few others, and all our friends loved it. Strangers loved it too. The chandelier is no longer there, but boy, we put that thing to good use. We also took down a few paintings to use as place mats because you did not seem to have any. For future guests, that would be my main recommendation – invest in some place mats. The paintings were okay, but we still stained some of the tables.
So we enjoyed our stay, but I have to say, the home was not left in a very good state. All the tables were broken and had food remains all over them. There was a shattered chandelier in the downstairs bathroom. The place could use a good cleaning. That said, it was very spacious. We appreciated having access to everything. Even though some rooms we deemed uninhabitable, there were plenty of rooms left over for my wife, kids, and I to sleep. Thank you for making our vacation possible.
Bros, this house was wildin. Me and my buddies were nervous this was gonna be a super fancy home with some stuck up snobs as owners, but the second we saw the shattered chandelier, we knew this was our kinda place. For a frat bro spring break, this was the best option for sure. Who needs an Airbnb when you got the chillest family friends! The painted place mats worked great as a beer pong table, and those old dinner tables were so much fun to just wreck. To celebrate our win, my pong team and I got a sledgehammer and started smashing the tables. It was wild. Also, some of the bros left their swim trunks and a few pairs of undies. Those are all hanging on the roof. Oh, and I think we left the big couch is up there too. Thanks so much yo.
Y'all are legendary. I was walking in the street when I saw a party going on over here, so I decided to come by. Wow. I did not know your family was into such outrageous and frankly inappropriate things, but I was down to partake. I hadn't seen a bong in twenty five years, so I enjoyed taking a hit from that. But seriously, we should hang soon. Maybe grab lunch. I feel like I haven't seen you since Christmas.
-Your neighbor, Alex
I really want to say thank you. I do. Welcoming a family into one’s home is a very kind and wholesome thing to do. But. I must say. This place smells horrific. There are pieces of moldy food all over the place. Empty beer cans have flooded the downstairs bedrooms. I really hope this splotch on the dining room table is soup, but I am almost certain it is barf. If so, that is simply disgusting. Normally, I would clean it up, but due to the present circumstances, I feel it is more than unnecessary for me to clean the mess that is your home. Had I known the interior of your home would be a complete disaster, I would not have paid such an enormous amount of money for me and my husband’s honeymoon. That said, I am an optimist. I had a good time. My husband and I did enjoy some nice evenings on the porch, even though the rocking chairs were broken. We had a great time lying in the sun on the roof despite the display of swimsuits and underwear. I will say, the couch on the roof was a nice touch.
-Carla and Wilson Funderburke
Wow. You’ve changed the place since we last visited three years ago. We visited in the winter so maybe the summer décor is just different? I like what you did with it, but I suppose I’m just not big into the new modern design people are into these days. I have to say, Arnold, you really keep your brother on his toes. I know we haven’t talked in awhile, but I always appreciate you letting me stay in your second home. And I’m glad you treat it a little worse than you’ve treated me over the years. I felt I should add to the mess, so I made sure to leave all the food sitting out. I also shattered the framed picture of you and your wife - you know you stole her from me. Thanks again.
-Your brother, Jasper
A penny for your thoughts – your thoughts are pretty much worthless
God bless you – you're disgusting
Put a sock in it – when you ask what else you should put in your stuffed suitcase
A picture is worth a thousand words – unless it’s a blurry picture
Friendly fire – when you’re roasting S’mores, and the fire is just that perfect temperature, putting a smile on your face and treating you right
Nose to the grindstone – cocaine lingo
Needless to say – When you decide to talk, but acknowledge yourself that there is really no need to
Em and I went on a trip to Boise, Idaho. The only thing I knew about Idaho was that they have the best potatoes in the world, but I went to visit a cousin in Wisconsin one year, and the baked potato he bought me from Sam’s Deli and Craft Supplies was the best thing I've ever consumed. It was kind of fruity. That’s not to say the Boise potatoes weren’t good, but when you’re a state and you’re known for a food, it better be the best hands down.
I was recently fired from my job as a rock-climbing instructor, so it was nice to spend some time in Idaho with a good pal. Apparently to hold down this job, people really care that you know how to rock climb. And they tell you this after you lie your way through the interview. America is full of morons.
We stood in line at airport security to head back home to Mississippi, and I was sad our trip was coming to an end. Em got pulled over for having too many snacks in her bag. She had almonds, walnuts, dried mangoes. She preferred to snack over eating meals. I got pulled over because they thought my cantaloupe was a bomb. “It’s just a cantaloupe,” I said. “We’re gonna have to pat it down,” they told me. “He won’t let you until he gets his lawyer,” I said. No one laughed.
Once we got through, Em was up in boarding group 1, while I was back in boarding group 5. It’s a terrible system. Makes me feel like a feudal serf. As I waited alone, anxious to get on this plane to Mississippi, I started counting one Mississippi, two Mississippi, three Mississippi… as I was taught to in the fourth grade. Why do I have to be reminded of my horrible home every time I wait in lines? I just want to pass the time, not remember that family dinner when I found my cousin Earl and my other cousin Janis hooking up in the bathtub.
When I finally got to the front of the line, the lady told me the plane had just been filled, and there were no seats left. “Not with that attitude,” mumbled the man behind me. I turned around. It was Benjamin Franklin.
I couldn’t quite understand why Benjamin Franklin was boarding a plane to Mississippi. I also couldn’t understand why he was currently in Boise, Idaho. Maybe he wanted to try the potatoes. I wonder how he liked them. But there was no time to think about any of this.
Benji grabbed me by the arm, and told the lady, “Wait here.” As we power-walked, arms linked, he told me that we were never going to have to see that lady again. He didn’t look me in the eyes either. This man was on a mission.
“Benji, there’s one problem,” I said.
“There’s never a problem that can’t be fixed.” Benjamin Franklin was a true optimist.
“Well, my friend is on that plane.”
“Er, oof,” said Benji. He looked down at his shoes then spat on the airport floor. He rubbed his foot in the spit, making a squeaking sound. He ruminated hard. He then looked up at the ceiling and made an obnoxiously loud yawn. It looked like he hadn’t brushed his teeth in ages. “Alright, so we won’t find another flight. We’ll move to plan B.”
It’s never very reassuring to move to plan B when you came up with plan A five seconds before. Especially when it’s really plan C, because the original plan A was to just board the plane. Either way, I had heard a lot about this guy, so I felt comfortable trusting him.
He started emptying his backpack furiously. He took out a kite, a chess board, and a pros and cons list of staying with his wife, Deborah Read. That marriage must not be going too well. I saw something that said ‘affair with Jane Austen’ but I wasn’t quite sure. When he felt satisfied, he looked over at me and said, “Sometimes you just gotta lighten the load.” It sounded a little like a proverb, but it also sounded like what annoying people say when they feel like you can’t have silence in a conversation.
We returned to the front desk lady, and she looked no happier than before. One could say less happier as a matter of fact. But Benji made his case. If he had the time to become a lawyer, I swear he’d be a great one.
He threw his backpack on the front desk. An orange fell out and the lady grabbed it and took a bite out of it as if it were an apple. Juice squirted in my eyes. It stung like when you get shampoo in your eyes, but there was no shower to wash my eyes out. I groaned, and Benji slapped me on the back of the head. He later said that was a secret to curing stinging eyes, but that’s a load of bull.
While he explained why we needed to get on the flight, I stood there in pain. But I also started craving an orange. As I was about to go find an orange to buy, I heard Benji yell, “one Mississippi, two Mississippi…” God, I hate that.
The next thing I know, he leapt over the front desk screaming, so I followed suit. I felt bad for the lady though because we were really causing a ruckus, so I opened my bag and gave her the cantaloupe I had bought in Boise. I figured it was a nice gesture.
Benji and I sprinted down the jet bridge to board the plane, but when we got to the edge, there was no plane. The plane was gone. This was not good. There was rain and thunder, so it was difficult to see anything at all. I knew Em was probably worried about me, but she was also going to be pissed because I had her chickpeas in my fanny pack. If there’s anything better than a Wisconsin potato, it’s a Mississippi chickpea. And nobody knows that more than Em.
I started to panic, but Benji remained steadfast. He was a resilient man. Gears in full motion in his brain, I could feel him coming up with a plan. I thought about mentioning I had rock-climbing skills on my resume, but I remained silent because that was technically a lie. Grabbing his kite, he put it in his mouth as he continued digging through his backpack. A plane rolled by right next to us, and I could see Em, asleep, face pressed against the window. Benji gave me the line, as he held the frame and leapt onto the plane. The way this man was leaping today, you would’ve thought he was an ancient LeBron James. But as he jumped into the air with the kite, lightning struck and electrocuted him. Benjamin Franklin was dead. I’ll never know his thoughts on Idaho potatoes.
Not only did he die, but he discovered electricity too. It was a pretty remarkable feat. The whole fiasco became worldwide news, and it delayed our flight tremendously, but I was still able to get on and get a seat next to Em. She was out cold the whole time, though, so when I tell this story at parties, she insists I made the whole thing up. But I'll never forget the memories I shared with Benji. Every time I turn on the lights I think of his beautiful smile and his uncombed hair. And I wonder if Jane Austen misses him.
I hate my life. I live in the middle of Manhattan: the trashiest, foulest dump in the world with the most pathetic people walking my street every single day. It never lets up. People with skateboards, motorcycles, cars, and even frickin razor scooters. Those are the worst. By far the worst. They think they’re hip or something, but they just look like a 5 year old who never learned how to grow up. They probably go to work and sit in high chairs and spill cheerios all over their ugly faces. It’s only fun when they fall. When they try to look cool and jump over a pothole, but instead they just eat shit. That makes my day.
And it's not just the people that really piss me off. It’s the iHop. It’s the Taco Bell. It’s the giant advertising of nonsense nobody gives a flying fuck about. It’s the guy selling mangoes in plastic bags as if anyone would ever buy that garbage. It’s the old man who plays the same obnoxious beat on his little pots and pans, keeping me up at night. Learn a new beat. Pick up a harmonica. Do anything different. It’s everything about Union Square Park, the lamest park in the city. It's just dirt. And this is my home. And I hate it all.
That’s what’s on my mind.
Oh also, this college scandal is hilarious. Parents bribing colleges to get their kids into their stupid schools. I just like visualizing the phony kids posing for tennis team pictures, and they can't figure out how to hold a racket. And the photographer is just standing there like, "Do these kids really play tennis or are their parents paying millions for them to pretend?"
What thinkers. What scholars. Man, people are great.
By the skin of your teeth – Lips
Drag race – Women and men dressed in drag run a 5k
A fish out of water – When a fish is at a restaurant and asks a waiter to refill her glass
Neither here nor there – nowhere
Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater – please don’t kill your children
Busy as a bee – when you have to make a lot of honey
That came out of left field – Ted Williams
Everybody keeps telling me temperatures are rising, but nobody knows what they’re talking about. Every adult I meet has an answer. Daddy, Mommy, and even Donalbain, my pet bearded dragon, seem to have all the answers. But they don’t. They can’t predict the future. Nobody can predict the future. Except for me. I may only be eight years old, but trust me I’m psychic.
Ever since I was four years old, I remember hearing about global warming. I didn’t get it. How did me throwing my biscuit wrapper in the wrong bin relate to the earth getting toasty? Nobody gave me a good explanation. Mommy just yells at me and Daddy never recycles. He told me that farts from cows are the reason for global warming. But if I were a cow, I would fart as much as I wanted because sometimes, it’s just fun. Like when I’m in my bed and everybody else is asleep. And I don’t think daddy should say anything because he drives a 2002 Ford F-150, and it smells like a skunk’s butt.
But like I said, I can predict the future pretty goodly. When mommy threw a vase at daddy, I predicted that they wouldn’t be living together for much longer. I was right. When my school teacher tripped and fell in class, I predicted that Ronnie would laugh and get in trouble. I was right. Ronnie was taken to the principal’s office. If you don’t believe me, you can ask anybody who knows me because they would tell you that I’m smart. They would tell you I am psychic.
When mommy first told me that I was causing greenhouse gasses, I told her she was wrong. She told me I better watch my mouth, and I told her that it is hard to watch my mouth if I don’t have a mirror in front of me. She took away my video game privileges and told me to go outside. So I went in the backyard and pretended to be a cow. I farted all over the place.
Eventually, mommy came outside and tried to apologize, but she is never really good with that sort of thing. I ignored her failed apology, and I told her why she was wrong. I told her that she is a large woman and I am a small boy, so when she breathes, she emits large amounts of CO2. I only emit small amounts. I also told her that I planted three saucer magnolia trees in my school yard, and I’ve never seen her plant anything. I also said she was silly because she always brags about her electric car, but she takes long cruises every few months. Cruises make me seasick. They also emit more CO2 than I ever will.
But the thing that really makes me mad lately, is that mommy and daddy keep talking about what will happen in the year 2050. I keep saying that they’ll both be dead by then, but I whisper that to myself so they don’t hear me. I don’t think warmer temperatures will make me dead in 2050. That’s what Jeremy talks about at school, and it makes me scared just thinking about it. I don’t like him. He’s always angry about something. In 2050, I think we’ll all be sweating too much. That’s my prediction. Nobody’s talking about it, but we’re all going to stink. Every one of us. We’ll walk outside, and it will be so toasty we will just start sweating. You’ll go try to have a play-date with a friend, but you’ll get tired too fast and will have to go inside. And then you will have to crank up the a/c, and that will just use more energy from burning something, which will lead to greenhouse gasses. It will get so toasty that you won’t want to bike or walk to school anymore. You’ll be so fed up with sweating all the time, you’ll hop back in your 2002 Ford F-150 and speed right down the road without a care in the world. That’s what will happen in 2050. And I don’t like it.
I still think it’s funny, though, because nobody explains anything. For the past year, I’ve been throwing away my banana peels in the blue recycle bin. But I just found out that our recycling company can only recycle paper. Banana peels are not paper.
I also used to throw away whole chunks of broccoli in the blue bin. Chunks of broccoli are not like paper at all. But nobody cares to tell you these things when you’re a kid. People just scare me. That’s all they like to do. People like to yell, and they like to scare. When Aunt Tricia died in the Fall, mommy told me that I would end up like her if I didn’t eat my chunks of broccoli. But if I’m going to tell truth, I’ve never seen grandma eat a chunk of broccoli in her whole life and she seems to be doing just fine. Jeremy told me during reading class that I was a stupid person because I sometimes stutter when I talk. You should not say something if you don’t know what you’re talking about.
I may be a very smart eight-year-old, but I do not know everything. I went to feed Donalbain last night. Donalbain is lucky because he will be dead by 2050. Before I fed him his crickets, I looked at him. He was smiling. It was nice. I rarely smile. I don’t like that. I am good to Donalbain, but he lives a really sad life. He has no friends, and he has no family. The crickets are the only people he can talk to, but he has to eat them. He can’t go for long walks, and his only toy is a dirty rock. I give him water, but I sometimes even forget to give him that. And even with all that, he looks at me and smiles.
Donalbain is not like Jeremy. Jeremy is always insulting people. Probably because his parents are always insulting him. But with a haircut like that, he sometimes deserves it.
Donalbain is not like daddy. He doesn’t blame cows for his own responsibilities.
Donalbain is not like mommy. He doesn’t yell at me without knowing what he’s talking about.
Donalbain is not like me. He smiles.
I don’t want to confuse anybody because I don’t like being confused. A smile will not cause 2050 to be a less sweaty year. There may be nothing we can do to stop 2050 from being the sweatiest year of all time. But if people stop yelling at each other, I think it won’t be so bad. I think we should leave the cows alone and let them fart away while we eat salads. I think we should stop fake apologizes and start understanding the blue bins. We should be like Donalbain who never tells a lie. And he never has a frown.
I realize now that I really liked when I said I was psychic. Sadly, that was a lie.