"Happy New Year!" my mother shouts into the phone.
"Ok," I say, and I hang up.
I'm getting old. Time's flowing without me. Another year has gone by and nothing's changed. I've had the same To-Do list for fifteen years now, and I haven't done shit. You get a job, you pay the bills, and next thing you know your life's been amputated again. Your life is born with flesh-eating bacteria and it gradually dies every day and there's nothing you can do about it.
I pour gin in a glass with a weird stain at the bottom I never could get rid of. If a therapist held a gun to my head and said, "What does it make you think of?" I'd say an oil spill. That would be a lie. The real answer would have been a splattered fetus. I see that everywhere. A poor little thing that didn't even get a chance to ruin his own life. Life did it for him, free of charge, like a pre-packaged, microwaved shortcut to where we all end up. Lucky bastard. I feel envy toward those dead fetuses. They don't suffer the Chinese Water Torture that life is, day after day, a succession of reminders that you're losing yourself a little more, and a little more.
I have no tonic, so I mix orange juice with the gin. It smells like fermented AIDS kept under the sun. I don't dare to look at the expiration date. Can't even look my calendar in the eyes. I figure the alcohol will kill the bacteria. That's what people call positive thinking, or to be even more vulgar, optimism.
You know that fantasy people have that time stops and everyone freezes except you and you can do anything? My life's been that in reverse—I freeze and everything else keeps moving, and meanwhile life can mistreat you as it pleases, like killing off loved ones, making your fridge break, and surprising you with type 2 diabetes.
Anyway, no more fucking around. It's time for New Year's resolutions. Get a career, find love, learn a new skill, lose weight, become active in my community. Sounds good enough.
On January 1st, I drink gin. On the second, I write my list. On February 11th, I stare at my list and hurl spaghetti sauce on it. I throw many things on it, and next thing you know it's a modern art painting. With relief and all. I think, I can make modern art. That's a skill to develop.
So I quit my job and start doing it full time, fail, get another job selling mattresses, and by March 7th I get fired for sleeping on the job. Literally on the job.
But by that time I had met Sofiana, a fellow coworker who works at the cash register and got impregnated by a big blue cat named InterSky. So one evening I sneak into the store and leave a note, dare I say a collage, on her locker. The message is written with painted macaroni—do I need to state again the importance of relief in modern art?—and it says, "Let's be honest, you peaked at sixteen. I'm your only option left."
She reluctantly accepts to go on a date with me. Did I mention I had started a new diet by then? If not, I'm mentioning it now. I can only eat spinach and boiled calamari. Just so you know.
We meet at a restaurant shaped like a blue whale that serves fried corn and chocolate frog legs for a reason I can't grasp. So I only order gin. We talk about future projects. She wants to travel the world, all of it, and I want to open a small business with the ambition of turning it into a medium-sized business within two months. Obviously, we disagree on everything and hate each other, but I figure if we rub our bodies together about four to five hours a day we may produce enough endorphins to not chop each other's heads off.
As I explain this to her, I vomit an unsound amount of blood in her face. The doctor says my small intestine has taken a life of its own and has started eating the surrounding organs. Its way of saying, "If you can't get the proper nutrients, I will." I stay in bed, sick, on a mattress I got for thirty percent off, for three months.
It's summer. I do things like going to jazz festivals and taking walks. On my walks, I think about being home. The Illuminati cut my power and Internet. They're good at pointing fingers, but when you ask them with what money you're supposed to pay they retreat back into the shadows, speechless.
I find a gig as a test subject in a sleep apnea study and get kicked out for not sleeping on the job.
In August, the phone rings.
"Happy birthday!" my mother says.
"Thank you," I say, and hang up.
Halloween's right around the corner. I build massive statues of werewolves with paper mache and cobblestone for the kids—the kids! I fill the laundry basket with candies, ready to give back to the community with a vengeance. Nobody shows up. Children order their sugar online nowadays.
The phone rings.
"Happy Thanksgiving!" my mother says.
"Shut up," I say, and I slam the phone.
I sneeze and it's Christmas. I buy little Buddha statues that I throw at cars from the overpass. Did I tell you I got a job mowing elderly women? Never mind, I got fired anyway.
The phone rings and I cry wildly. I'm old, so old. Every breath tastes like death. Every decision I make is a wasted opportunity, with a million possibilities I'll never learn about playing hide and seek behind my head. From the time I set foot on the floor in the morning to the time I crash on the sheets, I'm heading in the wrong direction.
The phone keeps ringing.
"Happy New Year!" my mother shouts.