Ikigai (Japanese): A reason to get up in the morning, a reason to live.

It can be anything really. Nothing big needs to be had, just, at least, have something. For example: feeding your kids. Okay, maybe that’s jumping the gun. If you’re here, and you don’t know how to get there, maybe you don’t have kids. Maybe you never will. That’s fine. So if you don’t have someone else to provide for, why not, choose yourself? That’s too hard for you? Okay, what about saving up for a new…car or phone, or that interesting book that you know you’ll never read, but will keep your desk warm. Anything really. Something that can make you more than just the letters sprawled out in your name. Really, nothing big needs to be had, just anything. Something. Everyone needs something. Otherwise, can you really say you’re living? I mean, sure you can, but there’s a difference between living and being alive. And there’s a difference between being happy from the thought of going from today to tomorrow and being happy from forgetting that today eventually becomes tomorrow. Unless you really want to live mechanically, ticking away with rusted gears, until oil stops fueling you, then don’t have anything, but when you decide to find something, life will always be there waiting.



Curhat(Indonesian): To share one’s story, the pouring of one’s heart, a casual act of opening up.

“And so, there we were, on the edge of knowing what a life together would be like, and you know what?”


“That’s when he starts talking about some lady he’d been eyeing ever since we got out of the store!”

Was there something on her face?


Was she… Wearing some strange outfit, or talking to herself, or is he a medium? Maybe she was possessed by the ghost of her grandmother, or father, or, just a ghost. Maybe he was worried that she’d be sucked into –

“I called to give you a story.”

It doesn’t sound like it’s going to be pleasant.

“It isn’t.”

Well, if it’s going to be like that, then I’m going to try my best to lighten the mood. I don’t want to sit here and give you a pity party.

“That’s not what I’m asking for.”

Well if it’s not, then let’s have some fun.


What? Not serious enough for you? If he’s going to be eyeing other women when he’s got you, then you’ve got to lighten up too. If he’s not serious, then why should you?

“That’s…something I figured you’d come up with.”

I’m not sure what kind of impression you have of me.

“Well, you’re the type of person I’d call.”

Fair enough. So, it was a ghost right?

“How do you think it died?”

Te Quiero

Te Quiero(Spanish): More than “I like you,” but not “I love you”

The course of our parallel lines break in half, a wedge created to divert our movements, such that, we may never meet. In that sense, we were never parallel lines, but, congruent shapes, fusing in the way atoms do. Energy is released when we meet, and that energy is placed in a cycle, advancing life. But not our lives. Not ours. Our energy is absorbed by others, they watch and they match every smile we have, but it’s theirs. Not with you. Not with me. We’re congruent, in the same way that we meet in the same places, think the same things, and know exactly what words to finish each other’s – Of course we’re congruent shapes, meant to fit in the mold that we hold dear to our time, but not parallel lines. We won’t meet in the same place. Nor move in the same way that you want me to move. Not like this. Not like that. Not yet. That’s exactly it. Of course we’re congruent shapes, and of course I’ll find that we’re exactly the same in a whole since that’s why I’m still smiling. But that’s only it. Energy flows when we fuse like atoms, it’s hard to break us apart, molecular bonds are like that. But let’s leave it at that. For now. That’s all I can offer.


Aturdir (Spanish): The feeling of being overwhelmed, bewildered, or stunned to the point of being unable to focus or think straight.

The end of the world happens in one hour. It’s honestly great. You might think that when the world ends, people would riot on the streets, go crazy, purge. But that’s not the case at all. The city is riding on by just like always. The winds caress my skin like dull blades, and the same shoulders tackle me on their way to the station. The same panhandler, the same street artist, the same girl who sits by the window at the Tim’s waiting for… What is she waiting for? I’m not sure. But she’s been waiting there for the past few years. It’s these past few years that I’ve lived in the city, and no matter what, she was there. And beyond her, is the man who walks like everyone he knows has a knife and a gun and is ready to nab at whatever it is that’s hiding in his duffel bag. He slings it again today, and I hear the ruffle of whatever is inside. It sounds heavy. Like the bikes that roll down the bike lane, hovering over the cars that are using their horns way too much. Relax. Seriously. We’re down town. It’s okay if it’s slow. Construction is like that. Cranes been here since… Since I got here. What are they building? I live in a building not too far from the station. Every once in a while I like to go to the edges of the city, where I can breathe a little easier, and see my feet among the crowd. Other than that, the city isn’t all that bad. The nights are full. Right. That’s right. The world is ending. That means, there won’t be a night.


Quincena(Spanish): A period of 15 days, usually attributed to wage payments.

“I’ll see you in a fortnight and a bit.”

That sure is a mouthful, isn’t there a better way to word that? I mean, who even uses fortnight anymore?

“I’m sure someone out there does. It’s convenient, right?”

A fortnight is fourteen days. Which is also two weeks. I’d wager most people don’t know what a fortnight is.

            “But isn’t that something we’ve all encountered before? I mean, it’s Shakespearean, right? That’s like, mandatory reading.”

Mandatory if you went to school. If you say two weeks, and you don’t know what a week is, then I’d have trouble speaking to you. Isn’t that just the natural go-to? Why start with fortnight?

             “But doesn’t saying fortnight just sound –”

Pretentious? Yeah, it does.

            “Not pretentious, just, a bit better than ‘I’ll see you in two weeks’, doesn’t roll off the tongue.”

I’ll see you in a fortnight and a bit doesn’t either.

“Well, I don’t want to be factually inaccurate and say two weeks when in fact its fifteen days.”

Who cares.

             “You should. You were late today because I said we were meeting again at noon. You didn’t know what noon actually meant and –”

Okay buddy, I get it. We’re meeting in a fortnight and a bit. Happy?



Allora (Italian) : A filler word most of the time (well, so, then, in that case, at that time)

His mouth had moved, and I watched every muscle make the motion to open and close, but the words that sprang forth was nothing but empty space.


He smiled thinking I could hear his words, and so I smiled to help him think that I heard his words. Our smiles filled the room, the only other noise, the clock. The clock ticked slowly, filling my mind, and eventually, I smiled for the clock, and he smiled back, thinking I was smiling for him, for the words I couldn’t hear.

And he talked again, his mouth making the motions to speak, but the words clasped into his lap, leaving the air between us to find the lull in the clock, ticking away. The way his eyes blinked matched with the ticking, until his face became the clock, his eyes the hands, the numbers his skin, the white blending perfectly.

He opened his mouth again, the words spilling out appearing in my ears as nothing but wind, the ticking continued. We sat like this for as long as the clock kept ticking. He stared back, watching my eyes as I watched his, trying to find his words hidden within. The sun cut through the glass of the window surrounding our room, grazing my face in a warm balm, wrapping around towards my ears. The dust in the room settled against our eyes, our lashes protecting our retinas, his lashes slowly ticking away. I tried to find a word in my mind that would escape my mouth and enter his ears.  I tried to find a word to fill the space.

I opened my mouth, and spoke.


Resol (Spanish): The reflection of the sun off of a surface or the glare of the sun.

I’m pretty sure I blacked out from drinking last night. My head’s spinning, I can barely stand. I reach around in the dark of the room, trying to find a ledge. The only thing I find is more empty bottles. I’m not sure how my hands grasped those bottles, but I did anyway. Don’t need them if they’re empty though. Waste of my time. Damn. I can see colors. Like blinking colors. Too many. Out of the way. Okay, I’m good now. I think. Found the wall. This room is too damn dark. The curtains are killing me. Where did everyone go? I thought I was at a party. Drinking till my lights are out. Oh. That’s right. I wasn’t invited. So I drank myself to sleep. Was that it? Or did everyone just leave? I mean, I have way too many empty bottles here if it was just me. I don’t even recognize the room. Too damn dark. I reach my hand out, trying to find the light switch that I think is on the other side.


Landing head first into a wall is no fun. My insides want to escape. That’s not a good sign, is it? No, it’s not. I try to hold myself together, walking to the curtains. I trip on a bottle, it rolls over to the carpet. Face first into the floor is no fun either. I roll over on my back, staring at the ceiling. Too many damn stars. I close my eyes, and listen to my breath. The draft catches me awake. The window’s are open. Sheesh. I open my eyes to see the slight of light hitting the doorframe of the kitchen. I crawl my way up. The window was cracked open, bleeding sunlight. It dripped onto another glass bottle. This one still had some booze. Jackpot.


Uitwaaien (Dutch): Going out for a walk or to the countryside in order to clear one’s mind.

My mind is filled with clutter. Last week, last month, last year. He said, she said. Blue, grey, green. Coffee, burnt eggs, scrambled. Blinking bulb above my head, can’t fall asleep. Where do I go? The winds are howling across my windowpane. Nowhere else in my apartment can fill the empty void I want. My thoughts follow me like a spoiled shadow. Breaking into my house, the winds find the top of my hand. Breaking and entering. I try to call the cops but remember it’s just the wind.  Last week, last month, last year, I had said something that I couldn’t take back. I wonder what that is. Searching through the crevices of lunch, I found a bagel I made last week. Wouldn’t hurt to eat. Threw up in the washroom. The wind taps at my window. The moon is calling somewhere. I can’t get up. I won’t be able to sleep. I close my eyes for dinner. Burnt pasta. It’s only burnt because I thought having burnt eggs weren’t enough for the day. No. It’s because I can’t cook. While I had the heat on I tried to remember what I said that day. Nothing came. Nothing will. Half an hour of staring at the ceiling and I think I’ll die of sleep deprivation. I get up, slap on a coat, and leave my home. The wind is the first to hit me. Of course. Followed by the moon and stars. Thousands of those blinking lights. I begin to walk.

I remember now.


Tsundoku (Japanese): The act of leaving a book unread after buying it, typically piling it up together with other such unread books.

Mountains of worlds left asunder, collecting dust from their master’s departed skin, grazing their fur with the gentle caress of a child, barely opening their spines. The first of their kind to be forgotten was an action novel, guns blazing protagonist, cheap one liners, and an expiration date of a day. No one was left blazing with that kept at the bottom of the mountain.

The second of their kind to be forgotten was a science fiction novel, about a man stranded on Mars, landed on old vestiges by accident and understood as long dead, he struggles on the deserts of the unclaimed, his last stand. Turned into a movie, thought he’d read the book, but now it was compiled against pages and pages of other such defiled intentions.

Such was even the case with his textbooks that he bought with the implication of reading them for class. Buried under layers of fiction, fact is crushed under the fantastical worlds that he had never laid eyes on. As day grows, that pile only heightens, his own mind knowing no bounds in its interest, but never reaching what it wants.