Dear Ann Landers,

The Lost Letters

Dear Ann Landers,

­I’m a mid-middle-aged star, and although I’ve long been aware that I will die (about 5 billion years from now—yikes!), I can’t help but harbour certain feelings of inadequacy and inconsequentiality. Why even bother with all this heat and radiance and excessive exuberance? Also, I’m feeling incompetent with regards to my size. I’m only 1.4 million km across, and so many of my astral brothers and sisters, well, they’re huge. I know you call me a yellow dwarf. (Yes it’s me, your Sun). I will never get to know what it’s like to supernova and become a black hole. Just once, Ann, I’d like to bend light into myself rather than just dumbly spurt photons all over the place. Yes, I know you love those photons, and need them (you’re welcome, it’s a gift), but humans, well…speaking of inconsequential. Just saying. But fuck, America doesn’t even care about me anyway, not like those solar-luvin’ fun-in-the-sun beach-party Ancient Egyptians.

I am good at my job (I work at a Helium factory, you could say—I am one—hence my rather high voice), and many fellow cosmic bodies seem attracted to me, so I feel a part of the community. But they always seem to keep their distance; they’re rather elliptical and I never feel like I can get close to any of them. (Though I do have this thing with a gal named Halley…every 72 years, I melt her icy minerals in a cosmic spume of space dust, if you know what I mean). I really just don’t see the point anymore. Meditation barely does anything for me because I’m already not thinking at all, I’m actually quite limited in the thought department, just cruising through space tending to my nuclear guts. Maybe I go pharmacological? But like what kind of drugs can you even give a star? Ann…fuck I just don’t want to die. Is there any way—before your society implodes in another cyclic round of chaos and war of all against all, or your Earth goes all fucked geologically speaking—you can find some sciencey way to inject, say, 6×1013 cubic metres of hydrogen and buy me a bit more time?

Yeah “Thanks,”

– The Sun

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Dear Ann Landers

In an effort to simplify my life and become more “zen” or whatever, I’ve given up on the soul and turned to basics, namely by reducing my diet to only carbon, nitrogen, sulphur, phosphorus, inorganic salts and so-called semi-precious micronutrients such as zinc, brass, copper, bronze and, as you suggested, molybdenum. Yum! Of course, you famously subsist on this elemental stew, the diet of pretty much every single-celled organism on the planet. “Simplify, just fucking simplify,” you said back in 1973 when you started eating your nutrient paste. But I’m finding it lacking, somehow. Would I be allowed to include silicon, rubidium, xenon, tungsten, mercury, tellurium, arugula, lobster rolls, butter-fried scallops, and Butterball turkeys as a special treat from time to time? Also, can I (retroactively) include human flesh in the “carbon” category? And, if so, will you be a special expert witness at a probable judicial hearing sometime in the near future? Many thanks,

H. Crenshaw

Milford, TX

Dear Ann Landers,

You’re quite fond of proclaiming, whenever even the slightest opportunity presents itself, that your spirit “Annimal” is a lynx. And who could blame you? You’re such a little wildcat, Ann!

Well, for years, I’ve been trying though various means—avoidance, projection, alcoholism, repression, psychic spaying and neutering—to come to grips with my own spirit animal, or I should say animals? My various guiding beasts include a bear, a leopard, a raven, a little pony, a squid, a three-legged dog, an Eastern screech owl, a buff back goose, three sea otters, half a pack of wolves, 4 meese (trust me—you try referring to them collectively as ‘moose’), the carcass of a walrus, an imp, a giant 7-km2 colony of the fungus Armillaria solidpes, a Butterball turkey, a tabby house cat named Mr. Frumples, a (different) squid named Mr. Frimples (imagine the confusion!), the ancient Egyptian jackal-headed god Anubis, a baby human, and Lassie. Fuckin’ Lassie.

I guess I’m lucky to have such a collection of spirit guides able to harness particular strengths and respond to various situations as they arise. But the confusion that exists in this howling bestiary is starting to affect my daily life, and it’s becoming difficult to know which animal I should listen to at any given time. One moment, I’m ordering a tunafish sandwich at the deli, and then I feel an urge to stride and rove across the steppes, and the next I’m saving a baby from a well. Fucking Lassie.

What [chirps, howls, bleets] you say I do?

Becoming-animal,

Travis in Cornwall

Dear Ann Landers,

Dear Ann Landers,

I am a being largely comprised of interstellar mist, a sort of amorphous gas cloud with the occasional accumulation of dust and spores, and the odd (and oddly satisfying) slime secretion. Generally I am content, but we all have our problems, right? Sometimes I can’t help but ooze my way through the electrical and plumbing ducts of my building into my neighbour Judith’s apartment—much to her shrieking horror and my bioluminescent embarrassment. My job at the Weather Network is secure but unfulfilling (I seed clouds, and sometimes fill in for the assistant camerawoman, Judith). My friends would say I’m “happy” I think, or at least I have what Freud called “ordinary human unhappiness.” Of course, I’m not strictly speaking human, but I do watch a lot of your TV shows.

So, I was drifting and oozing about the other day near the abandoned train station, and I had the sudden, intense, ineluctable, and unshakable desire to be solid, a concentrated accumulation of matter. Hard wood, rock, metal, a dense synthetic polymer, hell—a crystal! I would love to be a crystal, just for one day. I dream of being the helical shell of a snail, with its expanding mineral excretions. I don’t just want a skeleton like yours (I can picture it now throughout your body, flesh and musculature firmly attached to its ossified density), I want to be all bone.

So my question is, where do I draw the line between “the grass is always greener when you’re a hyper-dense singularity” and “I really need to act on this deep desire and change my nebulous ways”? Metaphysics or physics? Should I stop worrying and learn to love the vague indeterminacy and slime, or seek out a solution on a molecular level and organize my body a bit? Also, do you watch Matlock?

Sincerely,

Orenai 34-oo78 Mist Cloud

Dear Ann Landers,

Aaaah! It’s a sense of ineffable longing, a deep emptiness, a figurative and literal hollowing of my core. Black. Black. Hole. Aaah!

Stephen

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Dear Steve,

Look on the bright side, Steve, and fill that core with what’s really missing in your life: a basket of sea urchins and a baby step-brother, Steve.

Ann

Dear Ann Landers,

I’m in a bit of a pickle. What should or could I do?

–Harley

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Dearest Harley,

You’re telling me, that’s quite the “pickle.” I wouldn’t fess up just yet; the law isn’t quite on your side. As long as you have enough canned food for 9-12 months, stick to your Appalachian cabin hideaway for now, and learn calisthenics and, if possible, Transcendental Meditation. Your biggest problems are inside, internal “pickles.” And your step-brother/cousin Jedediah. What a dick.

By the way, in the future, try putting the word “pickle” in quotes. It just may help you out of one (due to the fact, as you probably know, that they give you something to hold on to as you slime your way out of the green, oblong, and briny Cucumis sativus).

Ann

Dear Ann Landers,

I pressed the wrong button in the elevator and saw something I shouldn’t have. What should I do now?

Sincerely,

Britney

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Dear Britney,

I know it’s not my place to say, and it may be the most difficult thing you’ll ever have to do, but you must tell Brenda what you saw. If she hasn’t found out that Chester has “extra limbs” by now, I can assure you that she will—she must—find out sooner or later, the hard way. Also, don’t be so careless—that clammy, fur-spackled outgrowth extruding from Chester’s back is for Brenda’s eyes only. Next time take the stairs or escalator, or use a rope and pulley system or a grappling hook or suction cups.

Ann