Why Do We Seek Labels?

10 Cities/10 Years

It’s almost a daily occurrence now. On Facebook or Twitter, in an article or mind-numbing listicle, someone is discussing the traits, burdens and/or pleasures of being an introvert. Based on the unscientific sampling of my personal feed, 90% of the narcissistic self-promoters in the world are actually meek and shy introverts.

When us loners aren’t breathlessly talking about how weird it is that we prefer books to people (haha, I’m soooo crazy!), we’re posting the results of a Briggs Myers personality test (or some generic knockoff).

“I’m totally an INFP.”

“Well, I’m an ENFJ.”

“Oh, I could definitely see that. I guess that’s because I’m an ENTP.”

“I kind of figured all of you were CUNTs.”

And when we get bored with scientific classifications that mostly mean nothing, we fall back on the original sugar pill of personality labels: The Zodiac.

What’s Your Sign?

How is it that a…

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Of sand ghosts and blank eyes

I have some pretty strange dreams but this was the scariest of them.

It starts out in this monochrome, stuffy, dull room which has a entire wall covered by a bookshelf. All the books there are old and faded. A guy comes in and hands me a small diamond, like the one you find in earrings. He says he has trapped a spirit/demon inside it and leaves. All of a sudden the door flies open and a dark, menacing figure stands in the doorway and says something that equates to him wanting me to give him the demon. I look at the books on the bookshelf and remember some obscure historical fact and when I repeat it to him, he gives an anguished scream and disintegrates into black sand like particles which are then blown away by the wind.

The ghost comes by every once in a while and I scream other obscure facts at him and the process is repeated.

I find myself on this cliff with my college friends (whom I’ve known for 4 months). There is also a shipping container on the cliff. I meet a school friend who belonged to a group I rarely talked to and that person invites us in. As we accept, the other members of the school friend’s group file into the container. I pray that my crush, let’s call him Eagle, at that time isn’t present. I watch anxiously with my fingernails digging into my palm. When I don’t see him, I relax and enter with my college friends. The inside of the container is rather small but it’s connected to a few other containers which makes it appear like a house. Its decorated with rugs and carpets and low light. It gives off a party feeling. The rest of my college group settle down at one corner of the room and I am almost about to sit down when Eagle enters. I feel my breath stop and my knuckles tighten. I immediately make my friend exchange places with me so I am atleast one person away from him as we sit down. He remains standing and talks to the people sitting next to my friend. All the while I feel like I’m going to go crazy. Then another school friend, H, joins him and she is all over him and he reacts very nonchalantly. I am very close to the breaking point. It is apparent that they are dating. All of my college friends notice this and point it out to me. I leave the room and enter the adjacent container. This container is almost like a kitchen. So I open the fridge and take out a drink and spend the rest of time hanging out on the kitchen counter.

All of a sudden, we are all transported to a dining room with a two long tables arranged behind each other. All of my school and college friends are behind sitting in chairs behind the two tables, in rows. Eagle is in the first row. The person who gave me the diamond is there standing in front of the tables. And the sand ghost makes an appearance. I am out of facts to throw at him. In my desperation, I look around and notice that all of my friends are not moving, their faces are blank. Some of them have bloodied eyes. I go over to N and take his face in my hands. His eyes are red in the corner. It’s minute, but it’s there. I look into his eyes and they look sad. I feel overwhelming sadness and pity. The ghost interrupts and asks for the spirit/demon. He sits at one end of the table, far way from N and takes out an object that looks like one eyed long binocular. He scans around the room. The person who gave me the diamond looks at me with a panicked expression. I catch on that the binocular is for finding the demon. The diamond is on a long table behind me, a little away from me. The binocular is close to sweeping across that area. I suddenly hand out the telephone receiver that is directly behind me. Miraculously, the receiver flies across like it’s attracted to the binocular. The ghost grunts and leaves. As soon as he open the door, he turns into sand which is swept away.

And I wake up.

No Apology

Mehreen Kasana

On my way to class, I take the Q train to Manhattan and sit down next to an old white man who recoils a noticeable bit. I assume it’s because I smell odd to him, which doesn’t make sense because I took a shower in the morning. Maybe I’m sitting too liberally the way men do on public transit with their legs a mile apart, I think to myself. That also doesn’t apply since I have my legs crossed. After a few seconds of inspecting any potential offence caused, I realize that it has nothing to do with an imaginary odor or physical space but with the keffiyeh around my neck that my friend gifted me (the Palestinian scarf – an apparently controversial piece of cloth). It is an increasingly cold October in NYC. Sam Harris may not have told you but we Muslims need our homeostasis at a healthy…

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