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BY Cobalt

01/01 Direct Link
We were asked to help advance the line, by answering calls for the customer service representatives. We were to answer the phone wherever we stood in line, take names and numbers, and let the people know that someone would return their call. All at once the phones rang; all at once we answered them and took messages; all at once they stopped ringing. Later, data had to be compiled. Apparently, after getting to the names N to O, data stopped compiling. Names and numbers of calls received had been intermingled with names and numbers of calls yet to be made.
01/02 Direct Link
Slugs on the stained glass windows. You know how impossible it is to get rid of them. You scrape them off but they just keep coming back. And the leaves on the pews. You sweep or wipe them clean, but the leaves return, as if there's a huge old tree growing in the middle of the church, and it's autumn all year round. Why did I care? Me, all I had to do was keep track of the punch cards, count the holes in each one, and write the numbers down in a book. It seemed important at the time.
01/03 Direct Link
The girl is playing an instrument that looks like a mandolin but sounds like a cheap piano synthesizer. That's a sound that annoys me. She's smiling, and dancing around some small candles on the floor. Shutters on a nearby window bang open and shut with the wind, and even though I keep looking, and sometimes jumping in surprise, she pretends not to notice anything odd. Her little half-boots are edged with fuzzy, lime green dingo ball curtain lace, and I'm worried that if she dances too close to the flames, they'll catch on fire. And, she probably wouldn't even notice.
01/04 Direct Link
The man in the red, hazardous materials protective suit is carrying a briefcase. He puts it on the table and opens it. Inside are dead fish. I don't know if I'm supposed to throw them away or cook them up and serve them for lunch. In the next room I hear the old woman ringing a bell. If it's a triangle and she's signaling dinner, then I'm supposed to cook the fish. But maybe she's just practicing for orchestra. I go to see, but can't find a door to her room, just an outline where new bricks have been inserted.
01/05 Direct Link
With the aluminum siding came the temporal disturbances. Each piece carried its own mass, which conflicted with the other pieces. Putting up the siding on the shack was like trying to drive nails through earthworms moved at the speed of light, that each had as much mass as an imploded star, but retained their size. You'd also imagine the nails having as much mass as an imploded star, and the hammer, same circumstances, with no useability remaining. Trying to put the siding on the shack was creating so much a collapsing solar system, one that completely ate up the structure.
01/06 Direct Link
In Patagonia, I had to find Bobby and Julie. Their house sat on a hillside by itself, with a small theatre area around it for their performances. I had to find the right people who knew the right people, in order to get phone numbers to reach one of my cousins. Certain people were too difficult to track down. I was down to my last penny but had to find someone with money, to buy me a plane ticket to America. Worse, I couldn't figure out the country calling codes to call to Chicago, and didn't want to ask anyone.
01/07 Direct Link
There were of course awards for food arranging and preparation. Some people though, knew how to look for loopholes in the contest, and would make their food item, arrange it, wait for a judgement, and then simply rearrange the food. And rearrange it. And rearrange it. And rearrange it. How some of them would be able to keep the rice holding up on their sushi, or the meats from stinking, I didn’t know. I thought it might be easier just to prepare the dish over again. But some people, I think they only knew how to make one little thing.
01/08 Direct Link
The mouse was smart. Boy that mouse, it was smart as a cat. When it sat on the table-top, watching me, and didn’t even flinch when I made abrupt movements, I knew I was dealing with a different kind of mouse. I had to take a photo, to prove this smart mouse existed, but in the time it took to find my camera, the cat woke up. I had to separate the cat from the mouse. Would the mouse be smart enough to avoid my cat, and be curious enough about me to stick around until I found my camera?
01/09 Direct Link
Because I arrived early, the coordinator asked if I wanted to help finish wrapping Chrismas lights around the legs of the cattle. Help finish putting lights on the cattle installation? It was a huge honor to be able to participate in this tradition. I walked excitedly among artists and the elite, through the rows of the fifty dead cattle, supported on their sides in the steel frames for preparation, the stitched up bellies glistening bloody along the incisions, small ruby red lights encircling the legs of each animal. I didn’t even have to put on gloves or a lab coat!
01/10 Direct Link
I stood on the platform and waited for the train. The train would drive up the curve onto the second level of the platform to pick up passengers and turn around, creating a blindspot created in the area where I stood. That was my chance to arrange the items on the bagels. I had pepperoni, cheese slices, black olives, and the secret coins, two which I was supposed to hide on each bagel half. But I became complacent. When the train was moving up onto the second platform, agents disguised as tourists had stolen most of the coins from me.
01/11 Direct Link
In the house was a boy. He sat at the piano, playing with a toy. I asked where his parents were. He said they weren’t there, they were out of town. I asked who was looking after him. He said he was all alone. “But it’s Christmas,” I said, incredulous that he was all by himself. “I know,” he said. “We made bird ornaments for everyone, because we don’t have any money.” I asked to use the phone, to warn people about the danger of the giant black fish in the air, but he said the phone didn’t work anymore.
01/12 Direct Link
I was to pack only what I could carry. Then I was supposed to climb up through the small attic door, and then squeeze through the tiny air vent in the roof. I had a difficult time choosing what to bring with me. The vent in the attic was actually a large doggy door, blocked by a milk box on the outside. When I crawled out, I was on a snow covered ground outside of a barn by a street. I couldn’t attract attention to the portal, so I laid on the ground and pretended to be a sleeping bum.
01/13 Direct Link
Trevor and I went to see a film at this new cineplex. It was full of people. I gave my ticket to the taker. She checked it against a list, looked at Trevor and said, “You can go home now.” I was dismayed. “But we’re together,” I said. “That’s nice, so you want to see the movie or not? Twenty seconds earlier and maybe your friend would have made the 200 ticket mark.” We bought tickets to a different movie, but it was terrible so we snuck into another screening room, that had six screens spread across all four walls.
01/14 Direct Link
Trevor and Sarah had picked up a lot of new pets, and kept most of them in aquariums. There were rooms and rooms full of animals. Some animals needed medical care and were separated from others. When I asked Sarah if I could take photos of a kitten in an aquarium with six mouse toys, she said I had to ask Trevor, because he would have to turn off the electricity first. The strangest pet they had was a gigantic koi that took up the entire length of a huge aquarium. They said he started out as a regular goldfish.
01/15 Direct Link
The clothes won’t stay on the snake. I don’t know why I thought dressing up the boa was a good idea. Even if someone had pointed it out to me, that it wasn’t going to work out, I still would have attempted it. I thought a school uniform would look good. I even kept it in the refrigerator, figuring it would be more comfortable. I also brought in a bunch of sod and put in on the couch, because I thought it would be like sitting outside in the grass on a spring day, but it was nothing like that.
01/16 Direct Link
There were baby bears all along the road. People were driving by slowly, feeding the bears from their car windows. Other people were standing around, scared of the bears and afraid to move. When I walked over to one of the bus shelters, I told people that the bear cubs weren’t dangerous as long as you didn’t act scared. I reached down to pet some bears, but some of them were very frisky and wanted to chew on my hands instead. I didn’t mind at first, but after awhile I couldn’t get some of the cubs to stop biting me.
01/17 Direct Link
“What does your shirt say?”

“It doesn’t say anything, it’s just a picture of a two-headed monkey,” I reply.

“So, that Peter Gabriel song, “Shock The Monkey”, what’s that all about?”

“Uh, I don’t know. I haven’t listened to it for a long time,” I answer.

“That’s a pretty weird song. You know that other song by him, (I don’t hear what he says, I’m not listening). That’s a pretty good song too.”

“Yeah?”

“It’s a pretty bad economy right now, I mean everybody’s having a hard time. We’re all having it rough,” he adds.

“Yep,” I answer, somewhat confused.

01/18 Direct Link
When I walked into Spanish class, the teacher gave me a four page test. I was late, but he didn’t care as long as I finished the test. I couldn’t remember any Spanish. Half the test didn’t even concern Spanish, but merely word definitions. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d been in the class, nor what any of my other classes were. The next day I picked up the test. I had failed it, and I felt indignant. The Spanish teacher gave me my report card, and I had passed the class anyway, with a B times 2 grade.
01/19 Direct Link
“We’re embalming him,” they tell me, while they stand around holding toothbrushes as though they’re flatware forks or something. It doesn’t look like any kind of embalming happening, and I think the man on the table is actually just sleeping. Maybe they don’t know, I wonder. Maybe I should tell them, he’s not dead, he’s just sleeping, can’t you figure that out? But I’m the one standing there wearing the back half of a two-person giraffe costume and a pajama top. I feel comfortable, sure, but I’m hardly in a position to lecture doctors and nurses about science or medicine.
01/20 Direct Link
She said, “These stalactites are made of human hair, sharing similar characteristics of rhinoceros horn.”

Everyone looked around, nervous. Some people stared at me, expecting me to stare back and share in their apparent sense of incredulity. I couldn’t.

All this talk reminded me that I needed to trim my fingernails, because you know how it is when you type often and your fingernails start to get too long. Predictably, I didn’t have my fingernail clippers on me when I really needed them. I thought, well, I could ask someone to borrow theirs, but then, they might find me disingenuous.

01/21 Direct Link
I smashed the aquarium, and water gushed out. With what little water remained in the tank I saw a guppy sitting still, staring at me. I felt bad about my actions, and decided to rescue the guppy. I also searched through the gravel on the floor, and found a snail and a pink octopus the size of my thumb. I put the three of them inside a drinking glass. I thought the octopus was dead, but within minutes it came back to life. The snail attached itself to the glass. The guppy still stared at me with suspicion, not moving.
01/22 Direct Link
The creature brought in some kind of small electronic device that looked like it was from some corner in a thrift store. I thought it was a remote answering machine message checking device. The creature pointed it away from us, and said some funny things into it.

“It’s a remote radiophonic transmitter,” he told me.

“What does it do?”

“You can broadcast your voice in whichever direction you point it in, and make people think they are going crazy!”

“Perfect!” I cried. Already we were ready to drive our enemies insane, by whispering weird things at them from far away.

01/23 Direct Link
I thought I was going to Japan. But it was Ireland. Sort of. Pubs, accents, the color green. Except, well, everyone had slanty eyes and black hair. And all the women wore kimonos and had red freckles. Old men wore thick wool sweaters but walked around barefoot and carried bamboo sticks with water buckets on the ends. I pulled out my ticket, but all the text was rubbed off. I pulled out my guide, but for some reason I had only brought old cookbooks about disgusting looking and sounding recipes that I couldn’t imagine anyone ever making, much less eating.
01/24 Direct Link
The woman brought out boots for me to try on. She didn’t even ask me my shoe size, and of course, the boots were three sizes too big. I tried them on anyway, to see how they looked. I told her I didn’t like red and white in my boots. And for some reason, these boots had six eyelets for a shoe lace, and were simple tennis shoes. She told me that I was “Twenty-first century!” Because I “think like the twenty-first century, so I must live in it.” Then she brought out real boots for me to try on.
01/25 Direct Link
I’m part of a worldwide plot to assassinate Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, and Jim Carrey. I’m only given small pieces of information at a time, so that I am unable to thwart the plan if we are discovered. I don’t even know how many of us there are. I don’t know if I’ll be pulling a trigger, setting a bomb, or poking a hole into a bag filled with poison. The first task I am given is to sew a jumpsuit out of dirty old bed sheets. When I ask what to do next, I am simply told to wait.
01/26 Direct Link
It was funny, how our costumes were made up of hundreds miniature duck squeak toys. They were so small, you couldn’t even see them until you were up close. You could fit about ten on your thumb. The process of bonding them together into fabric was detailed, involving glue and heat and some other stuff that I didn’t know what it was about. If we sat down in them, a loud wheezing sound erupted. If we lay down, a loud whistling drone emitted, and dogs howled. If we got into a bubble bath, well, we floated up to the ceiling.
01/27 Direct Link
His hairline was trying to mate with his chin. It was an elusive act, taking many years to achieve. The man would be about 85 before the hairline made contact with the chin, right beneath the bottom lip, which had only recently been working its way down to ask the chin out on a date of its own. The hairline by this time wasn't spry and aggressive as it had once been. Its pores sagged open, the hair folices dawdled, and the skin itself was one behemoth layabout. Even the chin wasn't firm and virile as it used to be.
01/28 Direct Link
There was a wax nose in the birdbath. I didn’t want anyone to know I’d seen it there, and worse, played with it. It could easily be mistaken for a real nose, but I knew it wasn’t, because I was a wax body part expert. Most likely, it had been placed there in the dirty water as a test. Who was trying to test me? I looked around the gathering, people standing around the grill, some kids in the sandbox, dogs chasing each other around the yard. My suspicion floated around, grasping, reaching for a guilty party to hang onto.
01/29 Direct Link
The roses in the vase were alive, writhing around like fish caught in a bear trap. I thought I was supposed to set them free, so I dumped them out onto the table, water and everything. When the maid came into the room, she yelled at me. I didn’t know how to defend myself. I thought I was doing what was expected of me.

She accused me: “They’re never going to live if you keep treating them like this.”

“But I’ve never even seen them before,” I told her. She just glared at me, as if expecting me to apologize.

01/30 Direct Link
I cut my finger and yellow blood flowed, a dirty, brownish yellow, like a wine mustard. Naturally I panicked, because we were in the middle of wilderness. I knew it was for the worst, when my finger started to tingle. The vein must have been severed. Blood was certain to gush out of me like an erupting volcano any second.

Then, we went into this old bar in the center of the ghost town. That’s when I realized that the blood on my finger actually was mustard. It’s moments like these that make us realize how small we really are.

01/31 Direct Link
Her reason for leaving home was to be able to buy furniture. She bought a reasonably priced antique armoire for only $40, but then blew $2,000 on an antique canary yellow sectional sofa half made out of bamboo, with two matching chairs. Predictably, she didn't know where she was going to put the sofa and the chairs, because she didn't yet have a place to live. She even had the nerve to bring them to her parents' house, and put them in storage. Try doing that without running into them, and having to explain why you ran away from home.