Tear the paper in half. Rrrrr.

Then take your half-sized sheet and fold it back and forth again and back and forth and slide your now-red thumb across the bend. Perfect.

Left thumb on the left side of the paper, right thumb on the right side, and separate your hands as if you were welcoming a dear old aunt. Or just opening a new tab on your computer. Rrrrr.

Good. You place the piece on the steadily growing pile.

This continues for a while: folding, creasing, tearing. Rrrrr. Put the slice of paper on the stack. Watch it get bigger, occasionally line the pieces up again by jostling them against the table. Then run your finger along the ragged edge of torn paper and appreciate the paper cuts that you don’t have.

Somebody sits next to you. You glance up, and they nod at you with a quiet hello. You nod back, and bend your head down again to focus on your paper. Not rude, just focused on the task at hand.

“What are you doing that for?” They ask.

Your poke your head up again, a prairie dog risking death to see the outside world. You can practically feel the hot sun on your head as your face heats up. “No reason.”

“Then why?” They ask you again. Their voice is wild with confusion, but muted beyond the point of comprehension.

“Because I want to,” you say simply. You don’t have to have a reason. You don’t have to justify yourself to this stranger. You don’t have to justify yourself.

They shrug their shoulders, and something rises up out of you and tries to take the reins, tries to throttle you. You resist and go back to the paper. Still, you have been bitten. You have been infected. You are unclean. Now you have to justify yourself. But you don’t have to.

A few more seconds tick by. Your tries to scrounge up a reason. The only ones that comes to mind are bad reasons, reasons that are not good enough. You briefly wonder if this is proof of a higher power. This is bad. Terrible, really. Can’t get out of your head. How’s that for a news article? Some clickbait all-caps headline: “PERSON DIES AFTER BEING TRAPPED IN THEIR OWN SKULL”. This is not what you imagined for yourself.

Then it’s been too long. Too long, didn’t come up with a witty comeback quickly enough. Failure. And what does that make you? An abject failure. Oops.

So you go back to tearing and folding and stacking your little bits of almost-confetti and ignoring the lecture and enjoying yourself.


To Be Read, Spring 2018

This post is a part of Top Ten Tuesday, a blog tag run by That Artsy Reader Girl. Despite that, this list only has seven books.

Walden by Henry David Thoreau

I’ve been wanting to read this book after hearing so many quotes from it and about Thoreau. He’s lived a pretty interesting life, and Walden reflects what is arguably one of the strangest of them.

A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin

Peer pressure is making me read this book. But that’s a lie: it’s really because my mother told me she hated it (a good indicator I’ll love it) and I enjoy high fantasy with complex worlds and even more complex politics. But I also want to be able to talk about it with my friends.

The Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

My english teacher recommended it to me last year. I bought it on a whim sometime over the summer. I still haven’t read even the introduction, and I feel terrible about it–just languishing on the bookshelf. It’s not terribly long, either.

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

From what I’ve seen of the TV short (BBC) and the recommendations I’ve received from a friend, I should have read this book approximately eight years ago (that good!). Instead, I’ve just purchased it, and haven’t even thought about reading it yet. Whoops.

The Relic Master by Christopher Buckley

I started this sometime last year–well before December. I’ve restarted it twice. I’ve sworn I was going to read it over the weekend in one fell swoop countless times. I have not idea what’s stopping me. The story is interesting enough, but for the godforsaken life of me I am too busy.

The Secret Life of Cows by Rosamund Young

Honestly, it sounds entertaining. I like cows. Stories about farm animals–dogs, horses, cats, ducks–were the backbone of my childhood. I could still tell you all about James Herriot’s stories, and this book reminds me of them.

WikiHow Articles That Have Never Been Written

How to Disappear in Plain Sight: Three Steps (No Pictures)

Whether you’re just looking to avoid drama or want to see you will pay attention to you, disappearing in plain sight can be a useful skill. Luckily, unlike most other forms of disappearance, disappearing in plain sight is actually advantaged by technology, since people are frequently more focused on their cell phones and social media than on the person standing across from them. In order to successfully become a hermit in broad daylight, to disappear in plain sight, you must change your appearance, behavior, and social circle.

One: Changing Your Appearance

  1. Your appearance is the first thing you must modify to disappear. It helps to do this gradually, since sudden changes may cause your more observant “friends” to notice what you are trying to do, and this is the last thing that you want.
  2. Begin with the clothing that you wear. Adapt to what others are wearing. While it may seem that wearing only neutrals or even all black would help you disappear, it may make you stand out, depending on your social circle, job, and school. If your peers dress in neon rave outfits, you must do the same. If they all dress is black business suits with white shirts, follow suit.
  3. Stop wearing perfume. Olfactory memories are some of the strongest memories. You do not want a previous acquaintance getting too close and suddenly remembering you when your perfume reminds them of a past situation.
  4. Start to look a little distant. People don’t like getting in the way of people that aren’t all there. Once you have successfully done this, start to look a little sad. Make sure you don’t look sad enough that anybody would try to talk to you–just leave a glimmer that subconsciously leaves even the most extroverted people avoidant.
  5. By the end of this, you will blend in physically while remaining socially unattached. Remember: if you were a part of several different groups, you will need to act and look differently for each group.

Two: Changing Your Behavior

  1. Once you begin modifying your appearance, you should also start modifying your behavior. This can be difficult to do, but slowly adopting new habits will lend authenticity and subtlety to your physical changes.
  2. Begin, first, by softening your voice and speaking less frequently. If you’re normally a loud and extroverted person, it is important to take this step very slowly. People will notice this–your interactions with them–first. If people do notice that “you haven’t been talking as much lately”, make a vague excuse (“Sorry, allergies have made my throat scratchy!” or “But your stories were so interesting I didn’t want to interrupt!”). Eventually, you won’t speak, and certainly won’t be spoken to.
  3. Be good at everything, but not too good. Just good enough you’re third or fourth on people’s lists of people to call when they’ve got a problem. Remember that the third and fourth spots on those lists don’t exist. The most important thing to remember about this is don’t be special. No matter your personality or desires, invisibility requires destruction of the unique.
  4. Walk without purpose; drift aimlessly. Find yourself on the outer edges of conversations for a few brief moments, and then move on. You are becoming a ghost of yourself.
  5. Modify your personality to fit whatever group you’re stalking the outskirts of. Be careful, though, or you’ll forget you ever had one.

Three: Watching Your Social Circle Collapse

  1. Now that you’ve successfully modified both your physical appearance and social behavior, you can quietly sit back and watch the fruits of your labor unfold. Stand silently on the sidelines as your social circle stretches before your eyes and then slowly collapses into itself like a gaping black hole.
  2. Watch first from the corners of parties as everybody else is swept up in conversation. Then from the smoker’s porch as you no longer have anybody sweeping past you, mostly just to say “how’s it going?” Finally, watch from the safety of your living room, no longer invited out. The one time you break your fast from interpersonal contact, you text an old friend about whether or not they’re having a party this weekend. They reply that they should have sent you an invitation. They didn’t.
  3. Try not to die. There won’t be anybody to claim the body.