StoltzfoosThis is the second installment of a guest blogging series by Shawna Stoltzfoos. Read her first entry here

I am a person who looks for the meaning in things. One time I saw a fox and I couldn’t get it out of my head. I had never seen a fox in the wild like that before. I Googled “what does it mean when you see a fox,” and when that only raised further questions in my mind, I sought out a person who specializes in that kind of thing. Task one: find out if anybody specializes in what it means to see a fox. Task two: If so, track down that person and get them to tell you what it means. Task three: Absorb this information carefully and probably with the supervision of a person who specializes in helping a person digest such information. Task three-point-five: Find out if there is a person who specializes in helping a person digest information they’ve recently uncovered about what it meant when they saw a fox.

I was a living, breathing deleted scene from I Heart Huckabees.

So you can imagine my befuddlement when, just last week, I opened a fortune cookie with no fortune inside it.

Before you laugh, consider that earlier that day I had called a list of phone numbers at work– returning calls for my boss, all unrelated matters– and all three of the numbers were no longer in service.

Before you still totally laugh because who cares, consider that the next day, I went to the library to get a book that I had previously confirmed online was available. A book recommendation that I felt had come to me by mystic coincidence, at just the right time when I truly needed to read it. Not only was that entire floor of the library closed for renovations, but when I convinced a librarian to retrieve it for me anyway, she returned with a solemn look on her face. “It’s the strangest thing, we have all the books by that author lined up neatly in a row, but that one isn’t there. It’s missing.”

I was walking home, considering all of these perplexing conundrums, when a man in a bright blue shirt yelled at me viciously from across the street. “Excuse me lady! Wanna know what the word of the day is?”

Yes, I nodded with gratitude. Yes and thank you so much please tell me, I nodded.

“Nobody cares.”

I took this in with great weight. Did he mean that nobody cares what the word of the day is, or that “nobody cares” is the word of the day? But then, wouldn’t he mean that “nobody cares” are the words of the day? Or did he mean “word” as in a piece of prophecy or encouragement? Did he know about my fortune cookie?

I opened an anxiety-reducing app on my phone that shows you drifting hot air balloons with positive words on them. It helped.

“Listen,” I told the universe, which might be a multi-verse but that’s a separate list of tasks I’m working on, “I would very much like for you to explain yourself.”

The universe mostly shrugged at me. The universe can be a dismissive asshole.

I went home and called my brother, who was the only person I knew who would take all of this in with the precise blend of sincerity and insincerity I was looking for. The kind that says, “Huh, that’s weird. But like, relax.”

He answered the phone, and the only way I can think to describe the sound on the other end would be to say: A thousand buzzing robots trying to mate while falling apart during a zombie world war, inside of your head at a thousand decibels.

He hung up and texted me: “I dropped my phone in the shower literally ten minutes ago. It’s acting crazy. Did you need to talk about something important?”

I felt my goosebumps stand up and walk out, probably to unionize.

“Excuse me,” I yelled to the war-hungry zombies now stuck inside my head forever. “Do you know what the word of the day is?”

They shook their severed heads no.

“Me neither,” I said. “But I think it might be ‘nobody cares.’”

“Don’t you mean words of the day?” they said. Zombies are dicks.

By the way, according to a man who lives in the woods off Rt 30 near Caledonia, who specializes in this kind of thing, seeing a fox is about looking past your thickets and deepening your discernment. Or it’s about being a dreamer. Or something about a redhead. I think he might have Googled it.

Shawna Stoltzfoos is a writer, actor, and filmmaker who lives in Lancaster City, and the creator of the mini-series Young/Lancaster.