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05/01 Direct Link
I was surprisingly calm when the mouse ran out, stared at me for a few seconds, then ran back under the radiator.

“Hm, I have a mouse,” I thought.

I decided to call my landlord, who came over with some glue traps.

“Listen, if you catch a mouse, leave him in the trap,” he said. “His friend will probably come to rescue him and you'll catch them both. Where there is one mouse, there are probably two.”

I was very moved by this information. I never knew that mice were such loyal friends.

They're in here somewhere. Good night, mice.

05/02 Direct Link
Sometimes I think about one of my professors when I step out to check my mail. He talked about the feeling you get when you're opening your mailbox.

“Maybe this will be the day,” you think. “Maybe someone will send me a letter that will explain all of this, and everything will finally make sense.”

Checking your e-mail, answering the phone, responding to a knock on the door, it's all the same thing. Something on the other end could change your life.

Unfortunately, I've discovered, those things are rarely delivered. Maybe you have to go out and find them.
05/03 Direct Link
* A gun is a kind of tube into which you can put a projectile. There's an explosion on one end, and the projectile comes flying out the other end. You can use them to kill things, or to practice your aim so that you'll be better at killing things. They're scary.

* I am a quiet person. Some people erroneously associate being quiet with a propensity for going crazy and shooting everyone.

*A former boss once asked me in casual conversation whether I owned a gun.

Surprised, I said “No, I hate guns...”

She looked relieved.

* It hurts to be misunderstood.
05/04 Direct Link
It's 3:00 a.m. and my mind is gone. I've been working at the computer all day, trying to get this project finished.

Such a nerdy adventure called for junk food. I don't know why.

So I bought two slices of pizza and a bag of crackers. You might not consider that very bad, but for me it's an extremely rare indulgence.

I ate the pizza and the crackers -- now I have a stomachache, my project isn't finished, I'm exhausted, and I feel fat.

The rest of this weekend is going to go the same way, minus the junk food. Ugh.
05/05 Direct Link
I don't think I can make you happy.

I don't understand you at all. The kinds of things that you enjoy mystify me. Does the smell of jet fuel really make you happy, or were you just saying that because you thought it sounded interesting?

I can't enjoy pointy rocks in the shoes or mint ice cream with you, at least not on the same level that you seem to. I need to understand these things in order to understand you, otherwise I should stay away.

Do you like crossword puzzles? No?

Flying kites? No?

Sexual intercourse? Hey, me too!
05/06 Direct Link
“But as I was adding things to the bowl, I realized that I had added half a teaspoon of salt rather than a quarter, as I should have. Imagine my surprise when those cupcakes came out and tasted just fine!”

“Uh-huh...”

“So then you have to put the cocoa away, and clean up all of the crumbs (did I tell you about my mouse problem?) and then figure out what to do with all of these cupcakes, see?”

“Hm...”

“For a first date, I think this is going really well, don't you? Yes, I really feel a connection here...”
05/07 Direct Link
Mouse, the time has come for you to leave. I didn't mind you passing through, but I simply don't want you eating and crapping in my apartment. If you're concerned about the glue traps, I'm going to release you in the park right after I catch you. It's not like I'm going to let you sit there and gnaw your legs off, OK?

Apparently the proper thing to do when I catch you is to get “a sturdy rod or stick and deliver[ing] a sharp blow to the base of the skull,” but I promise I won't do that.
05/08 Direct Link
The sounds of the city at two in the morning:

squeaky bus brakes every 20 minutes
someone repeatedly shouting 'hey!'
a car stereo with ridiculous thumping bass
two people having an argument at the bus stop
the person upstairs tossing and turning
a dog barking

Of particular concern this evening is the guy who keeps shouting “Hey!” Is he looking for attention, or just yelling at the moon? Maybe he's a terrible rapper?

Depending on your mood these sounds can be colorful or ominous, comforting or threatening. Tonight I am happy to be safely indoors, away from the bloodsucking weirdos.
05/09 Direct Link
When I was a kid I would hear people on the radio singing “yeah, sweet mamaaaa” and I would wonder why people referred to their lovers as if they were their parents. I guessed it was yet another thing that would make sense when I got older, but I was wrong.

I find the whole thing creepy. I never saw my girlfriend as a “mother” figure, even when she was behaving in a way that was kind and comforting.

Sigh... never mind.

(I overanalyze things sometimes.)

Won't you be my sweet life partner, ooooh!
I'll be your significant other, yeaaaaah!
05/10 Direct Link
It started to get dark and the lamps came on, creating pools of orange light in the tops of the trees. The heat of the day was finally dissipating, and cool, lilac-scented air wafted by. We walked at a much slower pace than usual, our chatting punctuated by silence in which we watched the gathering clouds.

It was a perfect spring walk, and I don't remember when I've felt more content. By the time the thunderstorm started we were almost to her car, so she didn't even get wet. I waved goodbye and dodged raindrops all the way home.
05/11 Direct Link
Most of the apartments in my building have windows facing our small courtyard. We could all stand and wave to each other, if we wanted to.

Now that it's warmer, most of us have our windows open. I can hear all kinds of sounds coming out of them, giving me clues as to what kinds of stories are unfolding in these small spaces.

Right now all I know is that the people in the apartment next to mine are having noisy sex and I'm sitting here playing Minesweeper. This makes me uncomfortable for several reasons.

Boom. I'm bad at Minesweeper.
05/12 Direct Link
She started to touch my foot, and I pulled it back with a start, involuntarily.

I had just given her a long, slow massage at her request after a demanding hike. Her feet and calves were sore, so they received extra attention, but I also massaged her back, her shoulders, her scalp, her forehead. Her skin was so soft...

Now she wanted to ease my sore muscles, but I pulled away and couldn't look at her. I put my feet on the floor. She didn't say anything.

I wanted that so badly, but I was... afraid?

Of what?

Of what?
05/13 Direct Link
That memory was surprisingly fresh, considering that it's about six years old. It's not a particularly happy memory, but for some reason I enjoyed dusting it off and smothering myself in it for a few happy hours while I completely lost sight of the present.

“Smothering”? Yes, there's something ominous about that word. I had voluntarily immersed myself in it, reliving the doubt, the uncertainty, the regret. Is there a danger of suffocation when you do something like that? Is living in the present really that much better? When a memory choses to emerge, do we really have a choice?
05/14 Direct Link
The semester is finally over, and I'm entering what may be my last summer vacation.

During my two summers working at the phone book, I used to stare out the window, daydreaming about carefree vacations from my childhood. I fantasized about going out for my lunch break and never coming back, spending three months on the patio drinking lemonade and playing badminton in the back yard. Now, like a good, responsible adult, I'm thinking about getting a summer job.

...

(Actually, I'm only pretending to be an adult. To those of you who are working full time this summer, “Nyaaaah-Nyaaaah!”)

05/15 Direct Link
Are you aware that there are seminars, Web sites, books, and DVDs designed to teach what is called “speed seduction”?

The idea is that you can go into a bar, spot the most emotionally vulnerable woman there, and manipulate her into sleeping with you that night by subtly insulting her, and... ... well, I never got past that part because I found the whole thing so repugnant, but did you know that such a system existed?

I could teach a seminar on pining, I think. I just spent an hour at it.

I'm afraid no one would come to my seminar.
05/16 Direct Link
I was sitting here watching Annie Hall when the mouse scurried out to give me a look that practically said, “Hey, man, what's up? Um, were you planning on going shopping soon? There's nothing to eat around here...”

Listen, if I wanted a freeloading sponge of a roommate with terrible hygiene, I'm sure I could find one on Craiglist pretty easily. My human roommate would probably also be a musty-smelling creature who scares away guests and goes to the bathroom on my floor, but at least he could help with the rent.

As it is, I'd rather live alone.
05/17 Direct Link
Norman Mailer came to our campus a few weeks ago. Here's what he had to say about writing:

(a paraphrase)

The good stuff that you write always comes from your unconscious. If you make a plan to write tomorrow, your unconscious will start working on material for you. If you instead decide to do something else, your unconscious will be “furious with you,” and you won't be able to write anything at all.

If you make a plan and actually keep it but still can't write, that's fine –- it's just your unconscious being furious at you from some other time.

05/18 Direct Link
She was standing behind the cash register wearing a black baseball cap. We made eye contact, and I felt as if I had met her before.

A few hours later she stood outside the door to the men's room while I threw up, sick with a bad case of food poisoning. “Are you OK?” she shouted.

She made me a some ginger tea, and I felt better.

That was six years ago. Today she sent me an e-mail with a photo. “As you can see, I have changed a lot, getting much older,” she wrote. “What can we do???????”
05/19 Direct Link
Q: How does it feel to be the word's biggest hypocrite?

A: I've convinced myself that it feels pretty good.

Q: How did you get your start?

A: Sunday School, I think, where you've got people trying to convince you to be a better person than it's humanly possible to be.

Q: Any tips for aspiring hypocrites?

A: The two keys to successful hypocrisy are rationalization and self-deception. Beyond that, it's just lots of practice.

Q: Plans for the future?

A: I've taken hypocrisy as far as I'd care to; maybe I'll branch out into other forms of villainy.
05/20 Direct Link
A CHILLING PROPHESY

(but don't bother reading it)

The collapse of the provisional government in 2012 marked the true end of Madagascar's position of world leadership.

In the meantime, the power vacuum would be filled by the newly-formed Republic of the Southern Tip of Chile, located in one of the few habitable areas left in the western hemisphere.

In response to the political catastrophe in Madagascar, the Chilean prime minister outlined his plans for Chilean global hegemony before signing a major trade agreement with The People's Republic of What's Left of Asia, then took his wife out for lunch.
05/21 Direct Link
There have been a number of important medical breakthroughs so far this year, but one in particular has me excited. A surgical technique still in development uses powerful lasers to burn out the tiny section of the amygdala responsible for loneliness. Survivors of the procedure report decreased feelings of emptiness and isolation.

When you consider the numerous health problems linked to loneliness, doesn't it just make sense to try having your head cracked open for this dangerous and invasive surgery?

(DISCLAIMER: Completely fake. Do not burn brain with laser. Half a bottle of wine more or less does the trick.)
05/22 Direct Link
Note: Do not use today's space for expressing outrage about the state of the world in the hopes of changing it. That's a job for bloggers, who have been doing that for years to no obvious effect (so far).

Also, do not use this space to complain about loneliness or the unsatisfactory nature of existence or the lack of chocolate brownies in the apartment, because to do so would be unseemly.

Also:

No irony.

No using one word over and over.

No memories.

No book reviews.

No artificial cheerfulness.

Absolutely no weird short stories about futuristic talking animals.


Now...... write!
05/23 Direct Link
“So...” I'll say, “I don't know, are you hungry? I think I might get something for dinner...” (As if she can come with me or not, and I don't care either way.)

Or...

“As mammals, we both should periodically consume proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. As social animals, we might find doing this together satisfying. Shall we?”

Smooth, yeah, smooth...

“Let's eat!” (As if that was the plan all along.)

There's no point in thinking this through. I'm just going to get nervous and blurt out something stupid.

“I kinda like you, huuuuuh, wanna get some falafel?”

NO, wrong, wrong, wrong...
05/24 Direct Link
A sign in front of a nearby church:

THE GRASS IS GREEN
THE BIRDS ARE SINGING
GOD DID IT AGAIN!

The earth revolves around the sun, the temperature changes, and the plants and animals respond. It is a wonderfully self-regulating system.

Say, if you like, that God set the system in motion at the beginning. Say, if you like, that he looks over it and smiles. But to say that God stands there and presses the button to make Spring happen every year is to ignore the beauty and elegance of the system, and is vulgar in the extreme.
05/25 Direct Link
“Well I don't care what you say, I'm not going to chew my rice 200 times.”

“Try it, come on, it'll revitalize you.”

“I don't care what it will do, I'm lucky if I chew things five times. When I eat really soft things, I don't bother chewing them at all.”

“Listen, chewing releases the natural essences, it brings all of the forces into balance and creates harmony in your body.”

“Shut up, we are not talking about chewing any more.”

“You'll feel blissful...”

“Shut up.”

“You're cranky because you don't chew enough.”

This has been Great Moments in Macrobiotics.
05/26 Direct Link
When we congratulate people on a wedding anniversary, I think what we're usually saying is “Congratulations on finding someone, and keeping the relationship going so that you can continue to share your lives together.”

When I congratulate my parents on their wedding anniversary, as I did today, the meaning is more like “Congratulations on making it through another year in which you didn't get divorced or murder each other.”

Now I'm terrified of marriage, and will die alone.

PS – Mom and Dad, although I doubt you'll read this, I love you both dearly, but I also think you're both insane.
05/27 Direct Link
Are you wondering what happened to the mice? If you are, please try to forget about them. I realize that this is the weirdest possible forum for discussing rodent control, but please don't use glue traps. They seem more humane than the traditional kind, but actually they're much worse.

Did you know that mice can carry hantavirus? Did you know that my ex-girlfriend's uncle once got really sick from contact with a mouse? Did you know that my landlord was right about mice trying to rescue each other if one of them is in trouble?

Mice, I am sorry.
05/28 Direct Link
The Albany Aqua Duck takes you on a historic tour of Albany -- first down the streets, then in the river. I really want to go. It's $24, but I'll buy your ticket. Want to try?

Maybe we'd sit in the back. Maybe the sun would start to set as we went into the river. Maybe we'd hold hands. Maybe afterwards we'd have dinner somewhere. Maybe we'd go back to my place and talk for five hours. Maybe you'd spend the night. Maybe we'd wake up and have pancakes.

New rule: all fantasies involving amphibious vehicles must be acted upon.

Ha!
05/29 Direct Link
It was a hot day. Some pigeons had gathered around scattered chicken wings on the sidewalk, picking at and fighting over the bones.

A small boy was throwing pebbles at the pigeons, hard, as if he was really trying to hurt them. I thought about stopping and asking him why he was doing that, but he did it so mindlessly I was sure he wouldn't have an answer. I said nothing and kept walking. Maybe the heat makes people do strange things, or maybe he was as disgusted as I was by the sight of birds fighting over bird meat.
05/30 Direct Link
After paying all of my bills for May, I find myself with $30 in my pocket and about $40 in my savings account. I was approved for a small student loan last month, and now I stroll out to my mailbox every afternoon, looking for a check.

I'm in no hurry to get that money yet, though, because there's something romantic about being unemployed and (temporarily) broke on summer vacation. Free of responsibilities, I've been spending most of my time in the park and the library, relishing the best things in life and ignoring my duties as a consumer/individual.
05/31 Direct Link
There definitely was a sort of theme this month, wasn't there? I'm actually not so creepy.

I can't believe I've been doing this for three months. The stuff I've written usually makes perfect sense to me, but I can only imagine how it looks to people who might find it. What kinds of assumptions do they make? What kinds of experiences have they had that would color their perceptions of what I choose to write about?

For that matter, what if in reading your batches I'm wildly misinterpreting them? What if I'm taking them out of context? Would you be angry?