Read This

Required Reading. For a laugh. I am probably one of the most awkward people on the face of the planet when it comes to flirting interactions. Of course, the fact that 90% of the time I am entirely unaware that flirting is occurring likely does not help my case. This, plus a recent situation involving my friend being unable to figure out how to respond to “you have lovely eyes”, mean that “How To Respond When You Suspect Someone Is Flirting” by Mallory Ortberg seriously delights me. I’m probably just going to memorize this list for future use.

“Thank you for your time and for your goodwill.”

“I am happy to either confirm or deny your question.”

“Sincerely, [your full name here].”

“I look forward to remembering this conversation later.”

“I have, as do you, eyes.”

“You seem to like the other people here, and I can’t distinguish your enthusiasm for them from your enthusiasm for this conversation. That’s not a criticism.”

“Are you cheerfully enduring this interaction, or a willing participant? I can’t distinguish good humor from genuine interest. Give me a sign.”


Read This

“The Writer” by Richard Wilbur. I’ve loved this poem for a long time, and have some very fond associations with it. To be honest, however, I hadn’t thought about it in a very long while. Then, the other day, a series of internet rabbit holes somehow miraculously led me back to it. This was delightful not only because it reminded me of this piece, but also because internet rabbit holes usually lead to the scariest parts of the internet, so this was a far more pleasant outcome.


The Writer

Richard Wilbur


In her room at the prow of the house
Where light breaks, and the windows are tossed with linden,
My daughter is writing a story.

I pause in the stairwell, hearing
From her shut door a commotion of typewriter-keys
Like a chain hauled over a gunwale.

Young as she is, the stuff
Of her life is a great cargo, and some of it heavy:
I wish her a lucky passage.

But now it is she who pauses,
As if to reject my thought and its easy figure.
A stillness greatens, in which

The whole house seems to be thinking,
And then she is at it again with a bunched clamor
Of strokes, and again is silent.

I remember the dazed starling
Which was trapped in that very room, two years ago;
How we stole in, lifted a sash

And retreated, not to affright it;
And how for a helpless hour, through the crack of the door,
We watched the sleek, wild, dark

And iridescent creature
Batter against the brilliance, drop like a glove
To the hard floor, or the desk-top,

And wait then, humped and bloody,
For the wits to try it again; and how our spirits
Rose when, suddenly sure,

It lifted off from a chair-back,
Beating a smooth course for the right window
And clearing the sill of the world.

It is always a matter, my darling,
Of life or death, as I had forgotten. I wish
What I wished you before, but harder.