Updated: Aug 2, 2021
AFFIRMATIVE By Saif Maqbool
If you text long enough into the abyss, the abyss texts back also into you. I am indeed up – will you be my Columbus, my Magellan, my Vespucci, my Bloomberg? Will you come and explore the cavern- ous trenches of my fatalism, my despair, my emotion- al destitution? Will you fester in my apathy and allow the stench of my resignation and disappointment to mingle with your own carefully cultivated l’eau d’esperation? Will you allow me the total dishonor of wincing at your every word, of choking on your overly sensitive ego?
Last night, amidst the dim lighting and gentle haze of the shitty bar, as you vacuously feigned a British accent in your grotesque salmon shorts and oversized button-down, you reminded me of a younger, less impressive Winston Churchill, with whom I am not at all familiar, but quarter-heartedly pretended to admire for the sake of civility. Let me be your beachhead at Normandy, come and land your waves of disappointment. In the throes of my desperation, I crave your vapid pseudo- intellectualism, your pretentious overappreciation of art, the details of your fináncial internship.
I was reminded then of the rst time we met, you were chugging “champagne” in the grimy base- ment of your “literary” society, looking for all the world like the colossal douchebag you are – I was impressed though that your early-onset alcoholism has left your innate grace intact. You were like a drunk Roger Federer, every move calculated and methodical, and like a sober Lindsay Lohan, every move reeking of inebriation and desperation.
As my soul continues to atrophy with every moment we share, I can’t help but fixate on the shallow savannahs, valleys of selfishness and artificial peaks that litter the grotesque landscape of your character. Last night, in your Carman double, I was truly inspired by the tenderness, the gentillesse and the bonhomie with which you roused your roommate and removed the opiate chamber that his sleeping frame sheltered like a penitent Simba in his arms.
As the corpse of your roommate maladroitly shambled out of the room, you were already dimming the lights, already choosing some “tunes”, glancing shamelessly at yourself in any re ective surface that crossed your eld of vision. Was this why Kurt Cobain had to die?
Illustration by Kristine Dunn
Let me be clear: my availability tonight is borne of aspirations dashed on the harsh rocks of reality, expectations left in tatters by a cruel demon child running through my psyche with scissors. In my search for emotional connection, I am an architecture student on an arduous tour of rural Poland – you are a vast, writhing sea of bland grey monotony to my desiccated land- locked country. I am prepared to be the Helen to your Paris, the Persephone to your Hades, the Stalin to your Hitler. Be my Midas, drive me off the precipice of emotional balance with your cursed touch.
Four years from now, as the gentle pitter-patter of raindrops on the tiny window of my cubicle at a mid-tier investment bank slowly compresses my soul to leave a generic metal cube where there was once a Volvo, I am certain that I will remember this moment with vivid clarity and crushing regret. Such is my plight though, that I cannot help but accede –
“U are the captain of my ship, U are the master of my soul.”
I hate myself.
NEGATIVE By Alex Swanson
3:32AM “I hate u”
Firstly, it’s “you,” fucking peasant. Secondly, no, I am not “up.” In any sense of the word. I’m actually asleep. Leo beckons to me to climb onto his weird spinning top as I fall into yet another layer of dream. Maybe I’ll awake soon, but waking and being up are two very different things. On any given Tuesday/Thursday as my 10:10 looms, I awake at a cool 9:20 and spend my precious minutes perusing memes, before finally slipping into something comfortable and gracing the outside world with my avant-garde finesse. On the other days, I am subject to the seduction of slumber, engaging in languorous lovemaking with that most fickle goddess, Sleep, only leaving her bed for when the fire alarm blares at 6:30—cook your fucking risotto properly—or when I…just wake up.
Why should right now be any different? I could – and frequently do – run a world from my bed, even with one eye half open, my face puffier than the fish I ate on Tuesday, my face looking worse and more tired than the trash coming out of EC at any given moment during NSOP. My mental prowess runs thick, even in soporific stupor. I don’t need to be “up” to call upon my powers.
I know this might seem harsh, but I don’t like you. Not in any way enough to come over to your Wallach single. Maybe you think that cheeky double-entendre was charming, but no, I am not erect. There’s only one thing that gets me going, and that’s Mariah Carey eating a peach. You’re not even close. I bet your room decor is hideous, too. A poster of Che Guevara, maybe a bottle of a nondescript tequila brand, and if I’m lucky, way too many pillows and “fairy” lights. The thought of it disgusts me. Who even lives in Wallach anyway?
Illustration by Kristine Dunn
And also there’s you. You’re like the gum that I can never get off my shoe, or the Ultimate Frisbee listserv I can never get removed from. I’m sorry, but when I first met you at The Heights, it was dark and it was loud. I could neither see you nor hear you. In other words, it was bliss. Subsequent daylight and regret have revealed my folly, yet still you persist with these messages inquiring into the state of my consciousness. They get weirder and weirder. Who even uses the chat function of snapchat? Last week, you sent me money on Venmo with the description “are you asleep?” Btw, I appreciate the full sentence more than the 69 cents.
What is even so special about the vertical pose, the rigid state of “up?” I am just as beautiful prone as upright. Why have you trained your narrow eye to only view me as awake, acceptable, prêt à manger, when I am up? You’re in a cave, a cave with a narrow slit of light illuminating only one side of things, and it’s the ‘Live Laugh Love’ poster above your Twin XL. But you wouldn’t realize that, or that I hate you, since you’re too busy being up and seeking the same in me. A read receipt might have worked, but you seem incapable of processing my distaste for you. So, to answer your pathetic attempt at inquiry, I am neither up nor down. Go to bed.