Posted by: Ariel | May 1, 2012

Marco Polo

If poems are meant to represent reality, then Hangover from Billy Collins succeeds. I love the way the Prairie Home Companion audience swells up to end the poem even though the author never reads that last line and it may not even actually exist.

I’m also reminded of this painting which, to me, represents the ultimate in frustration.

Death by Stress

by `alexiuss

Posted by: Ariel | April 13, 2012

“The History of Molecular Gastronomy”

If the good lord had intended us to walk, he wouldn’t have invented roller-skates.

We begin, not with European professors and hydrocolloid solutions, but with a man: William. The circumstances of his childhood are not well known to us. It seems safe to assume he led a relatively independent life, travelling extensively and accumulating the wealth of diverse knowledge that would serve him well as an adult. His parents remain a complete mystery, and perhaps a bit of a disconnect in that regard is what led to his never marrying and the unconventional adoption in his later years. What sort of a man must he have been, this quintessential explorer? Devoted solely to responsibilities of the self. Fearless, surely, and with an unsatisfied mind darting like a salamander from idea to idea – always looking for something more interesting, always a bit bored.

We are the music makers, and we are the dreamers of dreams.

The enervating abyss of boredom, as we know, presents a grave danger unless filled with an equal amount of ambition, and so it was that our young man luckily turned his mind to productive pursuits. We see, though it is still poorly recorded, his increasing interest in the senses, particularly tastes and flavors. His journeys then became less haphazard and more purposeful; we can actually trace some of the routes he took, through Morocco and the Mediterranean, as it was known, through southern Spain and the islands of the Atlantic, which is of course where his fame was first kindled. But let us contemplate briefly the importance of that creative urge, that compelling stirring of the emotions that leads us lovestruck from mere watchers, listeners, consumers of experiences, to find ourselves producers of new things, and bestowers of fresh newborn substance upon the weary world.

Where is fancy bred, in the heart or in the head?

Through his heroic actions on the isle of Loompa, he saved a people and created enough goodwill for his company to last several lifetimes. His legend was already established in his lifetime. But underneath that legend, the man remains, and his passion for imaginative and groundbreaking food science stands on its own merits as the precursor to what we consider modernist cuisine. Exploding candy for your enemies, hot ice creams for cold days, wriggle-sweets that wriggle delightfully in your tummy after swallowing, and the ever-acclaimed three-course dinner in a piece of chewing gum – these represent just a fraction of the recipes developed by William in secret. Whether made possible by unprecedented technological know-how, an unearthly grasp of the science, or simply the nerve to mix two things that had never been mixed before, we may never know. What we can say for certain, is that his ideas, bizarre and unnatural though they may be, represent a colorful part of our history: an art that does not merely reflect life, but adds to it.

Further reading

Consider the tension between simplicity and complexity in this Freakonomics podcast, where the question is asked, “what could be lost by understanding something completely?” The answer, of course, is magic.

You may also find interesting the remarkably similar treatment in the Deep Space Nine episode Paradise.

Justifying means with ends.

Posted by: Ariel | April 1, 2012

“The Fifth Stage of Grief”

Yes, jokes do often reek of truth, except the careless words of youth
So every jibe from high school hence, usually comes at some expense

By laughing we accept our fate, suppress our doubt, equilibrate
It’s best throughout to keep our cool, lest we play the April Fool

Like water flowing round the rocks, we see ourselves a stream
Not immune to turbulence but not quite as it seems
For life’s a joke that we don’t get, a funny one and long
If we’re to make it through, our undercurrent must be strong
And though we take a winding course beneath the stormy air
And one could make the case that the terrain is just unfair
We laugh to show we know that in due time we will get there

Posted by: Ariel | March 27, 2012

“Lost and Found”

Let’s have a sing along. Below are some alternative lyrics I think fit the melody better.


 
Lost my glove, and lost in love
Got nothing left but the stars above
My one regret, when all’s been said and done
Is the glove I lost – the missing one

We had some fun in the summer sun
We really thought we’d just begun
A laugh or two, the sky so blue
With both my gloves, and you

Life just isn’t fair
It could be anywhere
The wind picks up
A frigid day
Tears freezing in the air

Lost my glove, and lost in love
I did my best, push came to shove
And now I see, with misery
How cold winter can be

Instrumental solo

Repeat from bridge

Posted by: Ariel | March 26, 2012

Fate is a cruel snake, with bitter herbs and spices

It was cold today, near freezing after a week of summertime seventies, and I’d just gotten my second parking ticket of the week. I had screamed as loud as I could in the car, after checking to make sure nobody was watching. The only thing left to do was decide what I would deprive myself of, in order to make up the money. It was going to be hard to do; this was in a whole different league than cancelled cheeseburgers and a week of no grapefruit juice.

All I wanted to do was have some laughs at improv practice, so I pulled up the school shuttle’s online schedule. It went from the train station straight to campus, and it’d be the easiest way. I was a little worried about missing it, so I hurried out the door at 4:30 with the bus due to leave at 4:40. Plenty of time.

The only thing worse than public transit not having a set timetable, is having a set timetable and ignoring it. The shuttle was gone when I got there, left early I assume, though I may never know for sure. I waited for five minutes to make sure it wasn’t just late, before walking up to the train platform. Not to worry, the trusty train would still get me there well before improv started at 5:15. As I crossed the street I saw the train I wanted pulling out of the station. Thirty seconds later I was alone on the platform with the gusting wind. I started to get irrationally angry. I took it personally that whether I took car, bus, or train, the world would find a way to make me suffer. Instead of going to the leeward side of the wall, I stood facing the wind, daring it to numb me, and maybe hoping it would.

At 5:00 I was chatting with a homeless man who told me how he knew from the clouds that it wasn’t going to rain. Not because he was a meteorologist, he said, but because he had been rained on so much, he’d eventually just figured it out. I was beginning to realize that I wouldn’t be going to improv when the PA system clicked on and I was told how both northbound and southbound trains would be indefinitely delayed due to an emergency farther down the line. It was meant to be this way. As the homeless man cheered me on with a whoop, I walked down the up escalator, trying to find a pace where I could make no progress at all. I kept that rhythm for a while, trying to stop dwelling on what had happened, and to reach the beginning of acceptance. In the end, these things are facts: the Earth is not the center of the universe, and the world does not revolve around me. As I walked out of the station I saw the next scheduled shuttle bus pull up to the stop, five minutes early. By the time I’d walked half a block, it was gone.

Posted by: Ariel | March 9, 2012

“Any Eddie At All”

Edward was allowed to daydream at work. Actually, that’s what he was being paid for: to let his mind drift right out his office’s unopenable window and into the 65th story clouds. He worked for a late night stereovision show called When Life Attacks. In the beginning, it was rumored, there had been some honest-to-goodness reporting. There used to be a theme to every show, and interviews with people whose lives had taken those sudden turns and unexpected twists that audiences loved to watch other people go through. Then the Network took over, and under a few decades of their careful management, it had become 99% formula pieces that more often than not involved the antics of puppets, or artificially created puppets that were inserted post-production with seamless three-channel interpolation. That’s what happens, Edward thought wryly, when you lay off all the reporters.

Edward was responsible for the other 1% of the show, a segment called “Any Eddie At All” which aired only occasionally. It was supposed to be about the wacky adventures of different people who were all named Eddie. The wackier, the better. Hence the need for Edward, perhaps the last creative mind still employed by the Network. His job was to come up with the sketches, explain them to the actors and tech guys, and hope that on the surveys, the appropriate demographics found it a “welcome diversion” instead of “bathroom break material.” Edward enjoyed the challenge of coming up with new content, sometimes three or four times a week. He felt it stretched his mind, and gave him a kind of freedom that he needed more and more the longer he stayed in the city.

“The Hammer wants you,” Lucy warned, poking her head into Edward’s office and breaking him out of his reverie.

“Oh. Thanks,” he replied with a grimace as Lucy smiled apologetically and ducked away.

They called him the Hammer, ostensibly, because he always hit the nail on the head. Privately, Edward suspected otherwise. In Edward’s version, the Hammer was a young aspiring actor who couldn’t even land a part in a two-bit soap opera, his delivery so hammed up that it pushed him beyond even the sluggish credulity of daytime stereovision. But if there was anything the Hammer was good at, it was handling public relations disasters, and somehow all his incompetence had been spun into determination. He was certainly favored among the higher-ups, who probably liked the way his nasty streak tended to trim the budget.

Like a dumb collie, the Hammer had that rare ability to keep the staff in line without thinking too much about it. “Git ‘er done,” he always used to say. When that became inappropriate for the workplace, he switched to “rubber snakes, milkshakes, whatever it takes!” This was a reference to one of his early attempts at writing sketches, a full-blown disaster saved only piteously by some rubber snakes thrown in from the wings and a milkshake thrown in from the audience. Oh yes, the Hammer’s pep talks were not to be missed. After all, it was one of his few responsibilities. Edward knocked on the overly large door and was greeted with a kind of loud indecipherable bark. He stepped inside less than eagerly.

“Oh, Edward,” the Hammer sighed, emphasizing the ‘Ed’ as if talking to a wayward child. “I’ve been meaning to talk to you. You know, our mission here is to cut costs.”

The Hammer’s fat hands made a chopping motion in the air which Edward deemed wholly unnecessary. As he saw it, it was much more like a crusade to firstly, cut costs, and secondly to saturate the entirety of the universe with mediocre programming and excellent advertisements.

As the Hammer gave a fervent and eloquent speech about the monetary and labor-related issues associated with expensive props and sets, Edward’s thoughts lingered on Lisa, the new actress who had begun to star opposite the guest actors that played the Eddies. She had shimmering red-brown hair and everyone talked about her as an up-and-comer with serious potential for bigger things. She was certainly a charmer, and she’d schmoozed him good – even though he was aware of it and how self-centered her motives were. Still, he couldn’t help but take more care with his work, constructing more and more elaborate scenarios which – no doubt – was the reason he was being chewed out. Edward tuned back in for a second.

“He who controls variety, controls the universe,” the Hammer was saying in his visionary voice.

Edward stifled an eyeroll and thought about his last piece, which took place in an airship. In it, Eddie settles in for another trying commute: a quick flight from San Francisco to Los Angeles. He prepares for a couple hours of cramped legs and a bitter fight over the shared armrest. But instead of a tactless amorphous opponent, Stacy K sits down next to him in spacepants and a halter top. Stacy K, the biggest pop star in California and on the verge of going national. Eddie does a double take, and returns her polite smile while listening to his earbuds, humming softly to himself. When the flight attendant makes him take them out though, Stacy K leans over to him slightly.

“What was that melody?” she asks. There’s a beat as Eddie musters his courage. “It’s absolutely thrilling,” she encourages.

“Just an obscure band I like,” he answers.

“Well, you’ll have to let me listen, once we get in the air. My name’s Stac…”

“Everyone knows your name, Ms. K,” Eddie interrupts as she flashes a demure smile. “I’m Eddie.” Of course, she would be modest as well as beautiful.

“Just call me Stacycakes,” she replies coyly. “Not everyone knows that name,” she adds, taking out some sheet music and pointing to it. “Now, what do you think about this riff?”

Eddie can’t believe his ears. Later on, bewildered, he glances out the window and is surprised to see the tops of clouds, washed out with brightness. He looks back at her with the brightness still in his eyes, hair tucked behind her ear and tiny furrows crinkling her face as she focuses on her screen. It’s beautiful here, he thinks, in this place where it has never rained. But as the ship lurches briefly, he’s reminded of the persistent annoyed tugging of forces that want him back on the ground. Eddie desperately tries to drink it all in, to capture sounds, smells, and entire moments like an astronaut with a camera on his last moonwalk, trying to preserve experiences he no longer has time to enjoy. Inevitably, the end of the flight comes, and as they touch down Stacycakes thanks him for his advice.

“Why don’t you write down your number,” she offers, holding out the napkin she got with her peanuts. And Eddie writes it down.

Part of the reason the sketch was so expensive was that Edward wrote two endings for it. He pitched it as being audience participation, arguing that letting the audience decide the ending would get them more involved in the show. Truthfully, he didn’t know himself how the story was going to end.

Ending number one starts with Eddie getting a phone call the next day. Stacycakes thinks they work really well together and wants him to fly out to her studio once a week. He gets a partial songwriting credit on her new album, just enough to get him noticed. He becomes not quite a real celebrity, but kind of a twitter equivalent. He’s not important enough to be followed in real life, but he’s followed in the blogosphere. A couple years later, he stands on the stage clutching his Grammy, behind and to the left of Stacycakes. All he hears during her thank-you speech are snippets of words: serendipity, worked perfectly, tune just came to me. And when she gestures vaguely back toward him, he smiles into the lights and falls in love.

In the other ending, Stacycakes never calls him back. He sees the napkin again, though. It’s a bit worn, a bit worse for the wear, the faded airline logo still visible next to the ten hastily scrawled numbers. It flies at him, twirling in the wind, as he lingers on the bridge on the way home. He’s taken to gazing into the water as it reflects different views of the skyline, the city settling down for the night. The napkin startles him out of his trance. But there’s only a glimpse of it, then it’s gone. Only a memory of a possibility. Like so many things.

At some point, Edward realized Lisa was becoming a common element in many of his daydreams. She didn’t always appear the same way, but he knew it was her. She’d be the waitress at the other table who you never saw the face of, or a dragonfly somehow wandered too far from its pond, or a tall modern building, all curves and glass, with gleaming facades and a red carpet leading to a shining welcoming entrance.

He became used to her constant presence in his thoughts, and he decided he liked her there. He started writing his sketches around her, subconsciously at first; he would build them for her benefit, and consider what she would like. He was staring out the window down to the river, where a small boat’s engine had stalled and an agitated figure tried to restart it. He imagines the gathering sharks circling, feinting for position with some of the hungrier crocodiles and a few opportunistic jellyfish. The agitated figure – we zoom in and it’s Eddie! – is alone now with the sun setting fast. His smartphone has no service and he throws it angrily into the water, where it bounces off a lunging crocodile’s snout and is snatched up by the arms of a camouflaged octopus and funneled into its gnashing beak. Well, Eddie thinks as he stares into the darkening water, it’s over. They’ll figure out a way to scuttle the boat before morning. He gets out a pencil, for he is a poet, and composes his final words.

Fluid is fate, but not unkind
Peace to those who cannot bind it
As we seek, so shall we find
Peace to those who search while blinded
So take me now with ready mind
And peace to those who’re left behind.

He rolls up the piece of paper and slips it into one of the empty beer bottles, which he tosses into the cabin next to the defective computer. Without further ado he jumps into the water, and is shocked to still be alive after ten seconds go by. He sees the furious melee above him as he sinks into the deep, cold depths: sharks turned on each other, snapping and bleeding through translucent blobs of jellyfish; alligators thrashing in the clutches of invisible tentacles. It’s almost funny that they don’t even notice me, he thinks as he starts to drown. Just as his eyes close and he starts to slip away, he feels cold lips on his, and air pressed into his lungs urgently. A mermaid? Surely that isn’t possible, but there she is with strands of her red hair floating in every direction…and it’s her.

“Have you seen Lisa?” Edward asked the first person he saw.

“In Lucy’s office, I think.”

Lucy was not involved with the creative part of the show; she was a mixing engineer and they rarely interacted. But she’d been there as long as he had, been promoted several times, and in the picture on her desk she was grinning next to Edward, looking wobbly and slightly flushed, at their 5-year renewal party. She was always extra patient with him if he had an unusual audio idea he wanted to try. When Edward walked into her office, she was leaning forward and chatting with Lisa, who was sitting on the edge of the file cabinet.

“Hey Luce,” Edward said with a wave, and put a hand on Lisa’s shoulder without thinking. “Lisa,” he blurted out, “I have a great idea.” He lost his train of thought when she turned around and flipped her hair out of her face.

The Hammer wasn’t exactly pleased by the mermaid script.

“No one likes to see Eddie escape the octopuses,” he berated Edward. “You know that. Remember when you wrote ‘Eddie and the mysterious sixteen-fingered tickler?’ Now that was a script. No one expected it to be two octopuses…octopi…whatever. Come on, man. Get it together. Whip us up something really fresh, really juicy. No more seafood! Rubber snakes, milkshakes!”

There was a moment of glum silence. “Whatever it takes,” Edward finally responded.

After a career built upon the non-obvious, it was hard for Edward to come to terms with what he had to do next. If he waited too long, Lisa would be off to Hollywood and out of reach. He had to get her attention while she still needed him. And so Edward started writing a sketch. A sketch based not on his daydreams, but his real dreams: his conscious thoughts, and goals, and wishes. It starred Eddie, an experienced screenwriter, and Lisa, the starlet on the rise. Their productive and successful professional collaboration flowed effortlessly into affection, and in the script, after their greatest triumph on the set earned them each a nice bonus, he asked her out to dinner and a show. She said yes.

Edward worked all night, harder than he ever had before, until everything was perfect. As he walked out of the building, feeling what could only be called happy-go-lucky, he passed the Hammer’s office and winced. He’d be eaten alive for coming up with something so genuine, so sincere. He might even be fired. The wacky-factor was completely nonexistent. But, Edward thought, it was worth the risk. Besides, without him, there wouldn’t be any more Eddies.

The script was pitched the next day, but Edward couldn’t bring himself to watch the live taping. He was just too embarrassed, so he delegated a few of his duties and watched it from home when it aired later that evening. He put some popcorn in the microwave and settled down in his worn easy chair. The scene started brilliantly, and there was even some cheering when Lisa agreed to the date. But in the taxi ride to the restaurant, Eddie’s lines started coming out a bit awkward, and the actor looked confused. The words he was supposed to say were too true for television. Maybe with actual feeling behind them, they could be charming, but lacking that they just came off as amateurish. Lisa wasn’t faring any better, but she was poised, and she wasn’t about to go down with that ship.

She leaned over to Eddie and said in the most seductive and mocking voice she could, “Oh Eddie darling, you don’t actually have feelings for little ol’ me, do you?”

And just like that, the laughs started back up again. As the tech crew caught on, they gleefully played along, turning Eddie’s dialogue into single-spotlight soliloquies with tinny violin music. Lisa ad-libbed as the date took a very different turn from what Edward had designed.

“Oh my gawd, Eddie, it’s just a show, and I’m really busy right now. Besides, it’s so off-Broadway I think it’s like, in the Atlantic Ocean.”

“But Lisaaaa, I saved a seat for you!” Eddie whined back.

Edward watched, hand frozen in the bag of popcorn, as Lisa turned every authentic feeling he had into a joke. Rubber snakes, milkshakes. It was their most popular sketch of all time.

The next day’s sketch was submitted nonchalantly, with little fanfare, to a distracted room full of people still congratulating each other on their brilliant interpretation of yesterday’s script. Lisa walked in late, gliding over to Lucy and murmuring excitedly about what a great time she had last night after the show. Lucy smiled a little, glancing briefly at Edward with an unreadable look. Edward turned back toward the projector screen stiffly and continued the presentation. The sketch featured an aircar with an artificial intelligence that keeps taking the driver to places he doesn’t want to go. The AI’s lines are unintentionally hilarious as it misunderstands everything the driver wants.

“We have arrived at Elderly Yoga,” the AI announces proudly. Eddie shakes his head and pushes a button. “Beep. I’m sorry, please re-enter destination. Did you mean solitary yurt construction, sales, and/or delivery?”

Eddie is slow to exasperation though, earnest and patient to a saintly degree. “Please, please, just get me some elderberry yogurt.” Beep. “No, I don’t want any gift ideas for elder caribou. I’ve never wanted that.

There is a striking shot of Eddie a bit later, as the car flies precariously through a torrential downpour in a foreign country, with his face pressed up against the glass, watching the rain. You get the feeling that for him, what started out as a simple fancy for yogurt has turned into a life-or-death struggle.

The climax of the story is when Eddie is almost at the yogurt shop. He is disheveled at this point, but attractively so. His hair is tousled and a few manly beads of sweat adorn his brow. He is telling the car to go forward, forward, but it goes just a bit too far. He yells “backward!” at the top of his lungs, but the weary AI hears the order to go “Ed-ward” instead. An unexpected command, it takes a few seconds to process – frustrating beep-filled seconds for Eddie. Then the car starts moving again, but not backward or forward. It’s hard to tell which way it’s going. It just starts flying away, slowly at first, but then faster and faster, as Eddie pounds on the windows from the inside and tries to unlock the doors with a series of ever-quieter wails. The car slides off the digitally displayed map, slips silently sideways into the blank spaces between words, and the AI doesn’t look back as the last traces of the past disappear into the rear view mirror.

Posted by: Ariel | March 7, 2012

Eme-urgency

It’s an open question whether our lives are better when we cram more stuff into them. It’s commonly repeated wisdom that we ought to live life with a sense of urgency, as if our lives – instead of growing longer and longer – were like the final period in a hockey game with the time ticking down to zero. But as we learned to do things quicker, as a species, we didn’t just do more of the same old. Inevitably it seems, a new piece of technology meant to aid in one task actually results in ten more tasks we have to do.

So we could debate all day the finer points of quality living, but this post is about appreciating art – one of the things we’re in danger of losing as we make ourselves busier and busier. Regina Spektor‘s new song All The Rowboats is wonderfully clever, sharp, and urgent as it mocks museum paintings for being unable to live or change, condemning them to a stately eternal death by boredom. On the other hand, Gilad’s The City Beneath The City has a beautiful contrast between motion and still life, permanence and transitoriness, orange and green. Plus it’s the Metro! Hometown shoutout. I love being able to travel, but I can’t seem to escape the fact that the more I can travel, the more I do travel and the less time I spend actually doing things. This is the idea of induced travel, which is applicable to more than just transportation. Maybe the more buttons we’re given to push, the more buttons we push and the less time we spend living. No matter which way you look at it, “there’s a price to pay, and a consequence.”

The City Beneath the City

by `Gilad

Posted by: Ariel | February 29, 2012

“Twenty-nine Mixed Up Sentences”

Every leap day I write her a letter just before midnight. I don’t want her to remember until later, see? I don’t want her to write one back.

Once you’ve lived long enough, you start appreciating leap days. They’re precious hours that don’t seem to count against your total. Makes you feel young.

When I was young, I was desperately in love but I’d no damn clue what that meant. Then I grew up, and I learned to understand. Soon after that, I began to realize I didn’t know jack about anything. I’ve given up trying nowadays. I pretty much just hang on. Back at the beginning again.

The letter has everything I should tell her. Can’t take back what I already said, though. Letters don’t turn back the clock.

Once I tried to tell her during a leap second. I gripped her shoulders with one eye on my watch and blurted out a syllable like “MAR!” So stupid. Her name doesn’t even start with Mar.

Why do I bother? I think that if I can just reach her, just touch her on Leap Day, then we’ll be bonded outside of time. There aren’t that many leap days left, and I don’t want to waste my chances. Of course, I always do.

And everything is back to normal again. When it should be out of this world awesome. It could be, anyway. I can never give her this letter, because I’m scared. I don’t want to lose her. Shit, it’s 11:59 and none of the sentences are in order.

Posted by: Ariel | February 27, 2012

Wearing your heart on your sleeve

empathy

image source: frameworksinstitute.org

When we express emotion, we are judged. And the more we need to be accepted, the more we need to repress our feelings or conform with the group. In that way, a genuine emotion is a more truthful piece of communication than words. And so, to truly understand each other, we have to empathize and not just recognize. There’s a reason you have to walk a mile and not just try on the shoes.

There’s a common emotional framework of valence and arousal – where emotions vary on one axis between calm and excited and on another between negative and positive. I’ve read in “The Man Who Lied to His Laptop” that in order to connect with someone in a bad mood, for example, you need to match their emotional state instead of just exhorting them to feel better. This rings true with me. It’s hard to just make someone feel better, but you can make it less lonely.

I think people should express their emotions more freely, especially in non-professional situations. It may be more risky, but the potential for connection is higher. It’s fun to share a moment with a stranger (one of my life goals is to have a non-creepy wink with a stranger). Not to mention, it defuses so many of the games people play. Particularly when something negative or embarrassing happens to you in public, try acknowledging it instead of pretending it didn’t happen. You’d be surprised how the empathy of strangers can make you feel better. Instead of being worried about fitting in, standing out, or being accepted, I’d rather strive to accept myself and be comfortable with who I am. Being able to laugh at yourself is a great talent.

I have been trying to figure out why this video is so hilariously funny, and I think it’s not only because the kids are so silly – it’s because we all identify with them, empathize with them, and remember what it’s like to be that devastated over something, even if it turned out later to be inconsequential. We laugh because we understand, we’re just more afraid to be laughed at now that we’re grown up. So much of art is based on teasing out the tiny hints of emotion we let slip, from the Mona Lisa’s smile to the candid shot. By those standards, this is a masterpiece.

Posted by: Ariel | February 24, 2012

“Editing for Concision: A Primer”

It was getting dark by the time gym class let out and she filed with the other field hockey girls back into the main school building. She stopped for a second at the water fountain, and when she stood up, Mark was standing by his locker looking at her. “Hey Trace!” he offered with a wave, and she heard her friends giggling to themselves up ahead. Her hand jerked for a second, but ended up flipping her hair over her shoulder instead of waving back.

When he looked at her, time stood still, but not in a good way. She simply did not know how to express her feelings without seeming totally uncool. It made for some desperate moments which stretched on interminably only to end in awkwardness.

She gazed at him longingly as he walked away, mesmerized by the curve of his spine bending back and forth. She realized she loved his spine, but hated the way it stole the words out of her mouth.

“Wait!” she wanted to scream. “Wait. I’m not the same as everyone else.” But she didn’t, and the moment passed.

Tomorrow, she decided, she would climb into his arms.

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