Would you like a girlfriend?

“Would you like a girlfriend?”




“Why not?”


“I’m not ready for one.”


“Many people start a relationship before they’re ready for one.”


“I’m not the person I want to be yet.”

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“Is this a date?” she asked with hint of smile.


“Depends on your definition of date,” he said. “How would you define a ‘date’?”


“A meeting held out of romantic interest,” she said. “Is this lunch out of romantic interest?”


“I don’t like that framing. The word ‘date’ gives me the tremors. It’s like an exam, adversarial, solemn. The two parties assess each other across the table, considering their suitability for lifetime partnership. If that’s what it’s going to be, please say no.”

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Someone was handing out brochures outside the student center. I took it as an automatic gesture, and was about to put it away, when I glanced at it. It was blank. I don’t like talking with people selling me stuff, but curiosity overcame my annoyance at having something pressed upon me, so I walked back and said, “Excuse me, this one is – ” and I saw that all the brochures he was holding were blank. He was grinning. I was suddenly afraid – anyone handing out blank brochures with a grin must be mentally ill, his smile could at any time become violent, and I should get out of his way. Before I did, though, he put his finger on the blank brochure, and said, “There’s something you want to do that you’re not doing, but I can’t tell you what it is.”


A: You see, our greatest problem is the demotivation of our scientists. That’s why we give each of them this hypodermic needle, with unlimited refills. We refer to the black hole that can open up inside anyone, at any time, especially in those whose lives have been dedicated to one pursuit, wherein they question whether what you’re doing is meaningful, and consider whether despite all the work that they’ve done to get up to this point, they wouldn’t be better off jumping onto another ship? You see, if left untreated, wonder-deficiency can lead to de-motivation of colleagues, gluttony, sloth, pointless clicking of advertisements, pacing, slouched posture, burning/shredding of one’s work, absence from work, love affairs and elopements, screaming, and suicide.

After the onset, it only takes a second – a quick jab to the stomach – before the feeling is all but forgotten. It can be used anywhere. The action will hardly be noticed. And they will again feel that childish wonderment in gazing at the stars, or the swirl of a snail’s shell.

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Emptiness, I

Woke up on the edge of meaning. There’s a cliff by my bedside. The other is a wall. I want to sleep forever, but dreams desert me: like potions they demand raw ingredients, fresh kills under the sunlight. Taking a deep breath, I begin my daily fall.

(from 11/22/13)

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Parameters of life

He was badly tuned. And he was making things worse. He had gone back in time, to right before he had been born, and was fiddling with the knobs that would release his baby-soul into the waiting baby-receptacle. There were thousands of knobs, some as small as pinheads, their dials too small to read, others as tall as he was, made of steel and turnable only by engines (the one the angel had given him had been picked up by a stray cherubim, who had been humming too loudly to hear his “Stop!”). When he turned one dial, all the rest changed according to some gear-ratio logic. He didn’t know what any of the dials did, because they were labeled with Hebrew, Sanskrit, Latin, and other Godly languages. It would be okay if he messed up some parameters, as long as he increased intelligence. But intelligence was not a single parameter, according to the guidebook. It was an emergent parameter, depending in a chaotic manner on hundreds of other parameters. Fortunately, his laptop was cranking away trying to optimize all the different variables; all he had to do when it finished was to turn every dial to match the readings on the screen. When he turned back to the screen, the program had crashed. In fact, the laptop had become simply a notebook, with error messages scrawled on its blue-lined paper. He flipped through its pages, looking for the numbers, the numbers… The time to birth was running out… His time would be up at any point, and he would be sucked back into the time machine, to wake up as the boy the baby would later become, rendered dysfunctional by his own trembling fingers…


The sky is cloudy. The wind calls. I don a jacket and head outside.

It starts to rain thoughts, big and small. I stand and soak. Others hurry by with large umbrellas. They don’t have time for stray thoughts. A guy grabs them as they come, filling bags and bags of them, but somehow they leak out of their bottoms; he tries grabbing them with his hands, his clothes, his hat, his mouth, like someone who has won 15 seconds in a money machine, his eyes wide and maniacal-veined.

Some thoughts glimmer as they fall, too far to catch. The guy makes a desperate rush for them but trips, and his gathered thoughts spill out and fade. It makes me sad, but I stay; there are enough where I stand.

I walk by the road the way back. There’s a traffic jam, punctuated by honks. The thoughts bounce off steel skeletons and die on the asphalt. Faces look out, distracted.

No one opens their window for the homeless man. He catches thoughts, but he has too many already.

As I arrive on my doorstep, the thought storm subsides. The man with the bags walks by, “nothing again,” he says, “those slippery thoughts, they always get away.”

I open the window, and let the wind whisper in. The thoughts are gone now, but a sticky residue remain on my fingers. They’ll carry me until the thoughts come again.