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Quartet #2



I read the word ANHEDONIA and I don’t know what it means. I’ve never seen the word, but it smells like it might be worth knowing.

Into Google I query ANHEDONIA, and the Wikipedia result comes up first.

Wikipedia tells me that ANHEDONIA is an inability to experience pleasurable emotions from normally pleasurable life events such as eating, exercise, social interaction or sexual activities.

I read the sentence again to make sure it’s snug in my brain, then I read the beginning of the next paragraph in Wikipedia because my attention is still rapt.

I read,

Anhedonia is seen in the mood disorders, schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, schizoid personality disorder and other mental disorders.

That’s when my attention loses interest. I tell myself I can’t possibly have ANHEDONIA because I don’t have a mental disorder.

I go back to reading whatever I was reading that used the word ANHEDONIA and I feel like I have a slightly better understanding of not just whatever I was reading, but of the world, and myself.


Last night we burned our dinner candles. They’re red. They were tall. But we burned them while we ate and after we ate, while we talked about our lives.

They became little stubs.

Last night, sometimes my attention shifted rapture from our talking to the candles burning.

I wasn’t looking at the flames. The flames weren’t interesting enough, but the wax was, especially the way it melted and collected into random blobs.

I’m looking at these red dinner candles right now. A painter would probably say I’m pensive.

I think whatever I was reading that used the word ANHEDONIA lost my attention, and now I’m deeply involved in these red dinner candles we burned last night.

The one closest to me looks like a frozen waterfall. I’ve seen pictures of frozen waterfalls. I’ve also seen pictures of frozen natural springs in the middle of a forest. This melted red wax looks like those pictures, except not as icy, not as pristine.

Some of the melted red wax spilled and congealed on the batik we also have on our dinner table. Some is frozen in midair, like an afterthought with tentacles.


There’s someone sitting across the table from me, painting me. I didn’t want to tell you that part. These days I’m being painted a lot.

I think it’s because I’m famous.

Or maybe it’s because I have delusions of being famous? Maybe I don’t really have to be famous but just think I’m famous and that makes me interesting enough to paint?

My painter thinks I’m famous. I don’t have to prove my fame to my painter. All I have to do is look pensively at, say, the red candle.

Or read the word ANHEDONIA on my computer screen, and try to understand whatever I was reading, and the world, and myself.

These facial expressions nourish my painter: the ones that come naturally as I look at the red candle, as I look at my computer screen.

Thoughtful facial expressions.

Confused facial expressions.

Quiet facial expressions.

Subdued. Diluted. Watery. Sentimental.

Concrete facial expressions.

Stubborn facial expressions.

Belittled facial expressions.

Sharp. Angular. Rough. Hewn.

My painter likes all my facial expressions. I don’t even have to try. My painter doesn’t tell me to pretend to be doing this or that. My painter doesn’t say to look a certain way, or feel a certain way, or be a certain way. My painter knows I’m famous, that’s enough reason to paint me as much as possible.


There are paintings of me everywhere in my apartment. Covering every square inch of wall space.

The one my painter is working on now is going to be nailed to the ceiling. It will be the first one nailed above my head.

I’m a little worried about the popcorn falling into my eyes, and I don’t know what kind of toxic material is under the popcorn, but the walls are completely covered, and I think it’s better to use ceiling space before floor space.

I like to walk around my apartment. I pace the floor whenever I want to think hard.

I need my floor to be clear, that’s why I’m using my ceiling next.

My painter asks for a glass of water. I walk into the kitchen and fill a glass with tap water. I open the freezer and plop 2 ice cubes in the water.

My painter says,

“Thank you.”

I say,

“No problem. You need anything else?”

My painter deliberates.

My painter says,

“No, not right now. Thank you.”

I return to my seat and quickly find my quiet facial expression. I think I like this one best. It empowers me. It makes me feel unflappable. It also makes me feel like I’m doing good for those around me, being quiet.

Noise isn’t good. I never intentionally create noise. But I know I slip every now and then. It’s part of being human. I get noisy and my facial expressions get noisy. I don’t like when this happens.

My painter says,

“You look like the most beautiful person in the bar.”

I say,

“Whisper that into my ear.”

My painter stands and walks over to my side of the dinner table and bends at the waist until I feel lips against my ear cilia.

My painter whispers,

“You’re the most beautiful person in the bar.”

I tingle from my painter’s breathing, straight from nostrils into my ear canal, like a warm ocean wave drowning me.

I smile.

I want to eat my smile it looks so delicious. I look at my web browser, at the Google query box top right, and I see my most recent query,


No, I think, I don’t have a mental disorder.

September 11, 2010 1:07 pm

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