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It was dark, I was cold, and I couldn't breathe.
A shiver of terror went through me when I realized that I had no idea where I was, or why I was enveloped in darkness.
Nearly a foot of heavy snow had fallen on me while I slept. Overcoming my desire to go back to sleep, I managed to poke my head out to discover a silent, cloudy night in Albany.
Confused and numb from the cold, I managed to stumble back to my apartment, where I found it impossible to recover the warmth I had lost.
This keeps happening.
As I was leaving the bar, I noticed six guys in their late twenties standing together near the doors. Their eyes were squeezed shut, their knuckles were white from clenching their drinks, all
their heads off.
“Wow, check out these party animals.”
Then I noticed... their screams were not of carefree abandon, but desperate frustration. These were six very unhappy people, trying very hard to blow off steam, only to find they had more steam than can be blown off in one evening at a bar.
As I walked by, they started pouring their drinks on each others' heads.
Girl in the supermarket, why did you smile at me and then look away bashfully? Am I somehow obligated to do the same? May I continue shopping for apples, or do I have to dance this clumsy tango with you now?
Listen, I'm taken. Well... OK, I'm not really (at all), but I feel as if I am, having being smitten with you-know-who for as long as I have.
I know it hurts, but try to forget about me... try to move on. No... ...
Hey, where did she go?
*chhhhk!* Self-absorbed doofus in the produce section.
The Economics Lesson:
Price controls are counterproductive.
The Psychology Lesson:
The sensation of a corkscrew twisting into the chest.
The After-School Activity:
An attempt at emotional detachment. Wasa crispbread and a glass of water.
The Bulleted List (3” x 5” card):
* Would you like to make a donation?
* Why don't you get a job?
* You swine
* Possible conversation topic: wet-bulb temperature (?)
* You can't see the stars when you live in the city
* I bought this for you
* A grievous wound.
The Invocation of the Deity:
Merciful Lord, save me and confound my enemies, Amen.
Her voice is warm, sultry, pleasing...
I welcome her in.
I open all of the doors to all of the rooms that are usually closed and locked, the better for her to spread the light her music seems to offer.
By the time I notice what she's singing about, it's too late -- she's suddenly everywhere at once, and her words start to rip me apart. I curl up into a ball on the floor and shake and moan, praying for her song to end.
After she leaves, I don't feel purified or healed. No, I always feel much, much worse.
One of my friends has recently become preoccupied with the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator.
Me? I'm an INFP.
“Yeah,” he says. “You're the emotional one. You and I get along because my logical thinking and good judgment compliment your irrational, chaotic style.”
He tells me to be extra careful when communicating with Steve-o, who is an extroverted judging type. Steve-o won't understand my reliance on intuition for making decisions. Steve-o might misinterpret my introversion as coldness. Steve-o and I are very different people...
That's fascinating, professor. Can we shut up and watch TV now?
“This is as good as I'm going to look...”
That was as much of a pep talk as I could manage as I stood in front of the mirror ten minutes before my interview.
The interviewers played “good cop, bad cop” with me for one harrowing, grueling hour. I confessed to everything.
Right now, halfway through this bottle of wine, I couldn't tell you exactly how it went. I do remember that when asked for my professional opinion about a recent development in my field, I used the word “fun” nearly ten times. In retrospect, that was probably too many.
Terrifying Science Fiction Tale! (part one)
I drag the realistic automaton around by a chain bolted to his neck. When I get to the next dusty town, there are the inevitable annoying questions about his origins, the legality and ethics of my business, and whether or not I have a license for this sort of thing.
I assure the curious that he
feel pain, and that the howls and pleas for mercy they may hear are simply part of his programming, included in order to enhance the realism. Fifteen minutes with the automaton cost five dollars, step right up.
Terrifying Science Fiction Tale! (part two)
Only one person can stand in the tent with him at a time.
I have no idea what they do to him in there. Discretion prevents me from asking my customers, and it is my policy never to speak to the realistic automaton.
All I know is that everyone exits the tent with a disturbing, satisfied smile. After five people go through I need to shut the operation down for repairs, since there isn't much left of him. I think there is rarely any physical contact.
“Oh, he's so
!” they always tell me.
She is tired from rolling out the pie crust, and has flour in her hair. After the pie goes into the oven, she needs to chase her shrieking, giggling, chocolate pudding-covered child around the house several times so that she can attempt to pacify it.
Her husband comes home and inquires about dinner. They eat in silence. She requests his help later that evening with cleaning chocolate pudding off the walls and windows and floors and other surfaces onto which a child can fling pudding. He declines with a patronizing kiss on her forehead, and pours himself a drink.
After dinner the tall, quiet Frenchman smiled and brought out a bottle. His hometown was in Charente, and he wanted to share this special Cognac with his new friends.
I wasn't used to drinking back then, so it didn't take long for that smooth, mellow liquor to loosen me up enough to enjoy an evening of lively conversation and laughter with my new colleagues.
Tonight I bought a small bottle of Hennessy for the French onion soup which I'll make for her tomorrow. I'll put some into the soup, and drink the rest to cheer myself up after she leaves.
I was slumped on my couch, playing Tetris.
I asked, “How can I fight back despair?”
She looked up from her book. “Tetris isn't doing it for you?”
It was a flippant answer to a serious question.
“Tetris is a world of interlocking squares and the possibility of completion. Tetris
“Yeah? Mega Man 2 is a world of sinister robot masters. What's your point?”
There was a pause.
I began again. “I get the sad, overwhelming feeling that I am not long for this world.”
“Of course, it's wise to start with Air Man's level. It's the easiest.”
Today my fortune cookie told me, “
Someone you care about seeks reconciliation.
I instantly realized what was going on. I pictured a man alone in a room, typing new fortunes for Happy Panda cookies nationwide. Most of them are lifted from the
This one, though, was written specifically for someone he knew. He hoped she would see the note after a $4.95 lunch special and think of him.
The message reached me instead. More than a lesson in the fragility of human relationships, this story is a reminder of the impracticality of cookie-based communication.
“OK, now we're just going downstairs to wash some clothes.”
Sometimes I catch myself narrating my everyday activities as if I'm starring in a documentary about myself.
“This is... I dunno, some kind of laundry detergent. It's safe for dolphins or something, so... that's pretty good...
“When I put the detergent in, I like to swish it around like this – see? Yeah, I've always done it like that.”
When the documentary is finally released, you should go out and see it. If you manage to sit through the whole thing, you and your friends will be quoting it for weeks.
I stepped outside to catch the last few minutes of the parade, and decided to take a walk afterwards. The streets were alive with stumbling, screaming, singing, joyful people in funny green hats. Wearing a dark coat and a serious expression, I became painfully aware of how much I stood out among them.
I knew that even in my happiest moment I could never match their ability to externalize emotion. Suddenly uncomfortable, I cut my walk short. I went back to my empty apartment where I cursed myself for being so reserved.
Ah, parades! Parades
do this to me.
we always hear them at night. lift your head off your pillow and hold your breath. did you hear it, too? my eyes stay wide open until morning.
in the morning we get up and look around, but we never find anything. we try not to talk about it during breakfast, because of the tension. we know what we heard.
we're at a loss. there is talk of moving. we're both too afraid to fall asleep. don't close your eyes. (what happens after we fall asleep?)
when i close my eyes, am i remembering the sound or hearing it again?
My friend wanted to start a newspaper, but he didn't have any original content. I asked him whether his newspaper would have
of the news that's fit to print.
That's when he hit on the idea of a newspaper made up entirely of slogans. I suggested
“Hard-hitting journalism that everyone can enjoy.”
He followed that with
“A tough but fair look at our world today.”
We continued in that fashion until we had enough to cover the front of a sheet of loose leaf. It wouldn't have made much of a newspaper, and unfortunately the project was scrapped.
“The major problem the modern ironist faces,” according to Charles Rudolfski in his ground-breaking 1961 work
Anatomy of Irony
, “is the chance that someone will get fed up and try to peg him with a brick.”
Ironic expression, whether made for an attempt at humor or for more serious purposes, is always to be considered a self-defense mechanism. The ironic statement contains an opinion from which the speaker wishes to distance himself, making it difficult to determine where he actually stands.
Naturally, if this method of expression becomes habitual, some amount of violence against the ironist will ensue.
I told her how sitting alone in public places made me very uncomfortable.
After one of her telling dramatic pauses, she said, “You'd better get used to it.”
She advised me to bring a book to The Daily Grind and just read and drink coffee.
Every few seconds I scanned the room to see whether anyone was staring at me. They were
staring at me.
That guy thinks he can come in here and drink coffee alone? We
him. Hate. Him.
Intimidated, I began to construct a small fort out of sugar packets and was asked to leave.
I was abandoned in Austin.
Forty miles outside of Austin, actually. I had just walked thirty-five in my uncomfortable dress shoes, and every step was agony.
An old car sped by and raised a cloud of dust that seemed to follow me all the way up the road. The thought of revenge kept me on my feet.
Sunburned and thirsty, I finally limped into the parking lot of a small gas station. The attendant looked at me for a second and asked if I'd had some trouble. I brushed the dust off my suit and said that I had.
At night when the moon is full, I often find myself outside.
I walked over to The Egg and looked out towards the river. It was quite late, and the plaza was dark and empty. Sometimes I take a walk to try to sort out my thoughts or solve a problem, but tonight I just felt like spending some time with the moon. Tonight it looked lonely, and for a moment I wanted to turn into another moon and fly up there to keep it company.
After I realized how ridiculous I was getting, I walked back to my apartment.
Throughout the day I sometimes like to make up little songs that describe what I'm doing or how I'm feeling at the moment. People who have witnessed this seem to find it either endearing or obnoxious.
Today's impromptu composition (accompanied by a little dance) came after placing a call to Amazing Wok.
I'm so happyyyy,
I'm gonna get some bean currrrd!
When my neighbor expressed his disapproval, I offered to share my lunch with him.
“I don't eat that hippie shit,” he sneered.
Then, in my sweetest
My neighbor is a douchebaaaag,
Why is he such a douchebaaaag?
On the way to the restaurant, I noticed a tall woman wearing a heavy black winter jacket, black shorts, and black running shoes. She awkwardly clutched a bouquet of red flowers in front of her chest.
The jacket had a fur-lined hood, which was pulled over her head and obscured her face. There was a kind of unnatural, mechanical quality to her movements as she lurched up the sidewalk towards me.
While I was eating, I looked up and noticed her standing in the restaurant's vestibule, staring at me. I continued eating, looked up again, and she was gone.
I've been walking around feeling light-headed ever since insomnia ate away whatever was living inside of my skull. From the minute I wake up in the morning I'm ready to fall asleep, but when I get into bed I want to go outside and run laps.
* A Theory:
You are turning into an owl. It is a painful process, but in the end you will be much happier.
* Professional Opinion:
Prolonged insomnia will turn you foaming-at-the-mouth crazy in a few months. It is a painful process, but in the end you will be much happier.
Ever since I was a child, I've had a rule. I cannot tell anyone that my birthday is coming up.
I realize this doesn't make sense to most people, but it feels like a request for special treatment, which is against my principles. (My
and only one loophole. If someone else shares my birthday
is talking about it, I can say, “Hey! Wow! That's my birthday too!”
The woman who sits next to me at work also has her birthday on the 31st. I'm bringing the cupcakes.
It's a party now, bitches.
Sometimes taking a walk can be an invitation for Fate to take a swing at you.
Maybe it will be the beginning of a great adventure or maybe you'll be hit by a bus, but either way you're getting out into the world and interacting with it. Living alone in a small apartment can inhibit interaction if you aren't careful to get out sometimes.
Tonight, though, I floated along the streets like an old ghost, passing through the people I saw. Silent and invisible, I did not interact with the world because I was not really a part of it.
The amber-colored overhead lights cause the drinks at the bar to give off a gentle glow. She has come in for a drink and did not intend to stay long, but the light has also given her red hair a special radiance. Before long she finds herself at the center of attention.
Suave, witty, well-dressed men gather around her for a chance to make contact with those deep brown eyes (and who can blame them?) and the opportunity to be the next to buy her a drink.
I suppose I can't blame her for forgetting to call me.
Walking back from work, I noticed someone sitting on the steps of an old brownstone. He was munching on a cookie, and his big orange cat stood next to him, sniffing the breeze. They both seemed to be enjoying themselves in the pleasant weather of that afternoon.
As I went by, he gave me a warm, sincere smile, and his cat meowed at me. After asking if it would be OK, I scratched his cat behind the ears and walked on, smiling.
Eating cookies in the sunshine with a cat seems like a pretty good way to spend your time.
accident waiting to happen.
Her behavior is baffling. Could it be that years of masterful self-delusion have spawned a creature unable to believe she is capable of making a mistake? Completely unaware of her (many) character flaws and annoying habits, she is supremely confident that she is the hottest thing on skates.
Oblivious to the existence of other living, breathing, feeling creatures around her, she aggressively pursues instant gratification, rolling over anything that gets in her way. She calls this strength; I call it sociopathy.
She is vain and proud and blind and reckless, and I find her terrifying.
The first day of spring is a very personal thing, and different for everyone. For the first time in several months, I stepped outside today and did
get the feeling that Nature wanted me dead.
I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. Spring!
The sun began to burn off the gloomy fog that had been accumulating in my mind since November, and the blue sky spoke of happier days to come.
Everything seemed new and full of promise. Forget what your calendar says, the day Nature becomes friendly again is the
beginning of the new year.
One Drunken Get-Rich-Quick Scheme, Heretofore Forgotten.
At the top, in my handwriting:
ICE CREAM + CHILDREN + (drawing of a padlock)= $$$!
Below that was someone's drawing of seventeen smiling stick children in a large locked cage, eating ice cream and standing around an old Mrs. Pac Man arcade game.
Outside of that cage, in a larger cage, the children's parents seemed to be drinking martinis.
Two notes were scribbled in the margins: “They fall asleep eventually,” and “Hose them down if they get too rambunctious.” (Did these refer to the children or the parents? And... why all the
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