02/01 Direct Link
Sometimes I wish I could choose my own theme, but it doesn't work that way. For example, for February I sense the dual themes of "aging" and "responsibility" coming on. What a drag, right? I suspect a 'rabid toothy animals on motorcycles' theme isn't in the cards this month.

See, just writing "rabid toothy animals on motorcycles" has led to a minor crisis. I am 32 years old, and 'rabid toothy animals on motorcycles' should not be in my thought process. I should be faxing mortgages and filling out paperwork. Stock transfer! Have my card! Bank my tax! Adult situations!

02/02 Direct Link
At our office party, Gary made an announcement: he was not going to retire at the end of the year. It's a good thing he wasn't looking directly at me when he said this, because I'm fairly sure I did a bad job of hiding my disappointment. My girlfriend gripped my arm as if she thought I was going to fall over.

Gary probably didn't know that my happiest thought at the start of 2012 was that I only had to work with him for one more year. Gary! Insufferable shatterer of dreams! Your selfish financial decision affects us all!

02/03 Direct Link
I yelled at her today for killing the spider. He had been living near the radiator in my bedroom.

"He's just a little SPIDER!" I said. "Where else is he supposed to live? It's COLD outside!"

She was pretty angry. She called me an idiot and stomped out. As fights go it was pretty ridiculous.

I know it's wrong to draw these types of comparisons, but Julia would have handled the spider differently. She would have made him a little house out of cardboard and set out a water dish. She would have sung him the theme from Spider-Man.
02/04 Direct Link
I was reaching for an orange, and I felt something like a rubber band stretch and *snap* in my lower back. I fell to the floor, a groaning, hissing mess. I eventually crawled up to my couch, and now any movement below my neck (including breathing) leaves me in agony. I am scribbling this onto the back of an envelope partly to fulfill my 100-word requirement, and partly as a reckoning of my final days in case this bone-itis is fatal.

I think the theme of "aging" knew I was avoiding it. It has decided to confront/attack me.

02/05 Direct Link
I don't need everyone to like me. It's not worth it. "Woe to you when all men speak well of you," see what I mean?

Animals are a different story. They are unyieldingly sincere and fair in the distribution of their approval. If a puffin decides you're OK, that really means something, and you must have earned it.

I want cats to think I am interesting enough to be worth their time. I want dogs to know I am a skilled and generous giver of behind-the-ear scratches. I want tigers to see me as delicious but tantalizingly unobtainable.

02/06 Direct Link
The only food in my apartment is a box of Grape-nuts. I eat several handfuls a day, trying to make it last.

She came to visit today, still angry about the spider, and found me on the couch barely able to move, shave, or bathe myself. Maybe it was bad timing, but I asked her if she'd mind bringing me some fruit or something.

She said she wasn't willing to "date a vegetable," and left. I don't think she knows what that means, and I don't think she's coming back. I am not as depressed as you might think.

02/07 Direct Link
We will tell all of our current friends and colleagues we wish they would just die horribly in a... cistern somewhere, and we will go to a new place and find new and better friends who sparkle like diamonds and who like us the best. "Yes, new friend," they will say, "we will bring you something to replace your box of Grape-nuts, which is currently your only source of sustenance and companionship."

Lying on the couch, drooling with pain, we make bold, crazy plans for our post-recovery life as we remember old insults and affronts to our capabilities.

02/08 Direct Link
(the serious answer)

I keep coming back for the process of writing and editing and rewriting until I have exactly the right words. Sometimes it takes a while, but in the end I have something that is coherent (to me) and somewhat self-contained. Lately they have been either lame jokes or set-ups for lame jokes, but that doesn't matter, because the experience always seem to teach me something useful.

(FUN, RELEVANT FACT: In my first draft of this I used the word "crafted" and it made me throw up in my mouth a little.)
02/09 Direct Link
The logical part of my brain has the right idea. It knows the concept of "paid sick days" does not apply to me, and I should be at work proving that I am indispensable. The emotional part of my brain says I am on the couch, five episodes into a Columbo marathon that only needs to stop for naps, and I should just enjoy it.

Logical brain knows it can't win against that argument, so it goes back to its favorite hobby of estimating how many days after I died in my apartment it would take before anyone found me.

02/10 Direct Link
I am on the rebound now. Rebounding from my injury, I mean, not from anything else.

I was concerned about falling behind on my writing, so I scribbled some ideas on bits of paper. Written under the influence of pain-delirium and malnutrition, I open them up to the world because I can do nothing with them:

* ITEM: Are ethicists "getting any"?
* SCUBA diving: gross wet animals rubbing up against you
* A list of things that are weird (bread, plastic, etc...)
* We need to stop people from breeding GIANT CATS (underlined seventeen times, illustration of a cat eating a building)

02/11 Direct Link
Giant cats are real, you guys. Some mad idiot is crossing housecats with ocelots or panthers or something to create an animal that is half wild, half domesticated, and extremely large.

A giant cat might be fun for a while, but here's the scary truth: if you gave your dog a pencil and asked him to describe himself in relation to you, here is what he would write: "Your goofy pal who hopes you'll feed him."

If your cat deigned to participate in the same exercise, he would write "If I were slightly larger, I could probably take you down."

02/12 Direct Link
I made a minor life decision today: if I'm ever dating a girl who thinks we should call each other "babe" I am going to dump her immediately. I am going to do it with style, too. I'll say, "Listen, instead of me calling you 'babe' why don't I call you something that will sound to you the way 'babe' sounds to me?"

She will think I have something romantic in mind, and she'll say yes, and I'll say OK, let's practice, so she'll say,

"Hey, babe?"

And I'll say, "Yes, Garbage Monster?"

("I can call you "GM" for short!")

02/13 Direct Link
I want to go to a doctor to find out what happened to my back, but I get nervous around them and I'm worried I'll turn into an idiot.

First, here is a stack of crazy theories I found on the Internet and printed out.

Second, hey, check this out: when I move my elbow like... this? Like this, see? Are you watching? It hurts.

Could my social awkwardness be caused by muscle tension? Have you ever touched a dead guy? Are these things on my leg Morgellons? No? Well... should we do Homeopathy to them, just to be safe?

02/14 Direct Link
There you are, wondering who taught her to eat soup like that. How many more times will you have to witness this spectacle before you've had enough?

Or maybe you're eating your soup alone, feeling yourself slowly eroded by loneliness, or maybe you've just been handed your soup bowl and are still taking it sort of personally.

It's hard to get perspective on your situation when you're single-mindedly focused on changing it and swapping one painful problem for another.

Hey, don't listen to me... I have pain and soup on the brain. My faith in love is still DEVOUT.

02/15 Direct Link
Mail guy enters the room like a rock star. He smiles and acknowledges us by name as he slowly sweeps his pointed finger across the room.

"Hey! What's up? Gary! Cindy! How YOU doin'? Ha haaaa..."

He drops off the mail and shares the gossip with us. Mail guy knows everything about everyone. Sometimes mail guy tells a joke. One time he said he liked my sweater. Now we're gathered around him, smiling and happy although ten minutes ago we were all exhausted and grouchy.

"Bye!" we all say, waving. "See you tomorrow!"

Mail guy is such a cool guy.

02/16 Direct Link
My supermarket is now putting "ethical meat" (n.b. those scare quotes are bold and italic because I don't know what else to do with them) in the tofu section.

That pig on the package is like, "Maaan, I had it sweet. The farmer was relatively nice to me! When they slaughtered me I barely minded! A minor inconvenience in an otherwise full life. Buy my flesh, bro. I want you to. I'll be offended if you don't."

Hey, supermarket. Hey. Don't do that. I don't want to have an enraged mental conversation with Advertising Pig every time I go shopping.

02/17 Direct Link
People talk about needing time to get into "vacation mode" before truly being able to relax. This has never been a problem for me. I entered "three-day weekend mode" at ten o'clock this morning, and do not expect to re-enter "work mode" until Thursday afternoon.

When I was employed by a company which encouraged us to ask "how does this add value?" before making a decision, admitting this would have been seen as a sign of weak character. Now that I'm just helping to protect the public good, my disinclination to work can blossom in a supportive environment.

02/18 Direct Link
I love the idea of staying in bed on Saturday morning, but I can't do it because I start to think. I go through the list of times I've been an idiot (it is extensive), and the opportunities I've missed. That's a lot for a person to deal with before breakfast. You at least need some toast and a cup of tea in your system before diving into that stuff.

The second I wake up, therefore, I have to LEAP out of my bed. Acrobatics before breakfast is also difficult, but more fun than two hours of depressed ceiling-staring.

02/19 Direct Link
The people who live across the hall like to play terrible music at all hours of the night. They get frequent complaints from their neighbors.

Today I noticed a sign on their door:

It's my birthday weekend!
Deal with it!
Thanks! :)

I couldn't figure out what to write below that. It would have been something like the drafts below, but more devastatingly on-point:

-Are you fishing for birthday wishes or trying to preempt noise complaints?

-The fact that it's your birthday does not mean you have a license to terrorize your neighbors with shitty music. Happy Birthday, though!!! :D

02/20 Direct Link
With naps and mini-naps, a possible sixteen hours of sleep achieved today. Did not move for hours at a time. Called for delivery; resented the need to walk down one flight of stairs to get it. Ability to write complete sentences compromised. Three-day weekend a roaring success.

I decide to do the normal goofy fluff on the first two days of a three-day weekend, and I figure I will become ultra-productive on the third. Instead, I get even lazier. I don't know how I will fare at work tomorrow. Someone come over here and feed me.
02/21 Direct Link
I may be going plant crazy. I had four, and that was fine for a while. I have seen Hoarders; I know where this is headed.

We like to feel needed, but plants teach us how to give space to the things we love. They teach us this by dying when we smother them.

At the same time, a plant is a living thing that needs some attention. It's about balance. You've got to talk to them. You've got to tell them they're pretty once in a while.

(This newest craze is just a normal part of the healing process.)

02/22 Direct Link
Once when I was young, my brother was kicking around in the dirt and got some of it into my mouth. My grandmother told me we'd all swallow a pound of dirt and two dozen spiders before we die. Hearing that, I burst into tears.

Somehow I thought she meant you had to eat all of those things at once. You can see how that would upset a small child for whom the concept of things accumulating gradually over a lifetime was too abstract. I suppose I was also unhappy at the talk of dying.

MORAL: Don't talk to children.

02/23 Direct Link
When I opened the door, there she stood with a big jar of tomato sauce. She pushed it into my hands. I thought you could incorporate it into the dinner, she said. I was making avocado sushi. She knew that.

It was a challenge in the style of a cooking show in which the incompatible mystery ingredient is revealed after the meal has been cooked.

I distracted her with heavy petting while I hid the tomato sauce behind my toaster. We spent the evening avoiding the topic of fucked-up mind games. She definitely enriched my life, for a time.

02/24 Direct Link

Mind readers are a menace in today's society. If you don't learn to protect yourself, your bank number could be at risk. It's a legitimate concern.

The only thing they would have gotten from me today was a continuous eight-hour loop of

You make-a my dreams come truu-ue!
(woo-woo! woo! woo! woo-oo!)

When I don't have a song stuck in my head, I need to make up dumb stories to confuse mind readers. On my honor, it really works! Writing one dumb story a day at is the best way to practice.

02/25 Direct Link
Ms. Nicks,

This written warning is in reference to one of your lyrics, in which you state, "I've built my life around you."

I'm picturing a kind of circular edifice which you've constructed around a guy, possibly while he was sleeping.

What if he wants to get out? Demolition is the only answer. You've essentially turned your life into a prison for another human being. Besides, any free-standing habitable structure is required to have an emergency fire exit.

We advise you to build your life into a kind of three-sided shanty, so people can come and go easily.

02/26 Direct Link
Most of the decisions I make in my life are designed to accomplish two things: avoid stress, and try to be left alone. I think those are the two main things I really want.

So, for instance, if I know that Gary is upstairs, I will stay the hell away from the stairs because if I go up there he will corner me and give me a thirty-minute recap of some documentary about herons he saw the other night. My cheerful work persona requires me to listen attentively. None of my basic wishes are being respected in this situation.

02/27 Direct Link
Online somewhere I found a plea to change our violent everyday metaphors.

"Hey, this meeting with Marjorie is going to be a battle, you really need to arm yourself or she'll cut you to pieces."

"Hey, this meeting with Marjorie is going to be a difficult quilt, you really need to prepare your knitting needles or she'll tie knots in your yarn."

Change our metaphors, change the world. That's the thinking.

Of course, the first thing I thought was that knitting needles could be deadly weapons, and if Marjorie ever dared to tie knots in my yarn...............

02/28 Direct Link
Super health twig cereal
the finest twigs, the finest branches

mom can I have sugar pips

no eat this horrible old stuff

I won't I refuse I will die instead

what if I give you super health twig cereal

ok then since that is the product we are advertising, but in real life I would not fold so easily

sugar free
eat it fast
twiggy good
fiber blast

don't talk politics at the breakfast table
but you do misunderstand the difference between federal budget deficits and personal debt
so this cereal is your punishment

02/29 Direct Link
Today was a pay day and a leap day, which means I got three paychecks in February. I marked the big occasion during lunch by getting two different kinds of chips with my sandwich. (Normally I get no chips.)

I don't know how to do celebrations. I usually need to get help from other people, but this was a private party. Maybe I should get myself another plant.

(When you write about yourself, it's good to do it obliquely. Obfuscate and fictionalize everything. That way when you go back to read it in five years, it won't be so disturbing.)