The knapsack problem How to write a book / P and NP / leaving home
At first I thought Anna was going to make me disappear from her world as well, as soon as I made a mistake or two, like for example in the beginning of the evening when I tried to talk to her about my favorite movies (a topic that I always brought up when I had nothing else to talk about), or shortly after, when she talked me about her relationship with her parents when my initial reaction then was to try to make some weird parallel between it and the relationship that I had with my parents and to try to resolve her issues by means of it, not because I really believed I can do it (my relation with my parents wasn’t that good anyways), but because I thought that that were the only useful direction to which I could take this conversation. In hindsight, I was obviously way off — I didn’t realize that all my solutions were to her just new problems, that every advice was criticism, and that every attempt to get close to her actually bought me farther away.
But although she never made any compromise with her rejection to be involved in any of those topics, she listened without making weird and vaguely related remarks that were meant as an excuse to change the subject and when she did finally change the subject, she did it in a way that was sudden but at the same time didn’t feel forced. She started talking about books, but ignored usual topics of favorite genres and authors, and instead talked about why she preferred paper books (because of the way paper smells), the times of the day (and night) when she reads etc. Then she started telling me a story of how she got a very old and rare novel (she didn’t say the title) from her local library, and when she read till about halfway through it, she came across two pages that weren’t cut out properly, which made her realize that although many people had lent the novel previously, she was the first one to reach that point. In the end, she felt hesitant to split the paper, and ended up leaving the pages sealed. I didn’t ask her why, as I knew that she would have asked me why should she cut it in return, and instead we went on pondering whether there was a chance that some other person had gotten till those pages before, but they were also hesitant to split them. At that moment I suddenly recalled an occurrence when I came across a pair of improperly-cut pages myself - the book was mine, so I did cut them (or tear them by hand, which seems more probable), but I did feel an awkward sensation when I saw the concealed page for the first time - it was like I was seeing something that I was not supposed to see.
Because, after all, who gave me the right to do it? And who would even be capable of giving me such right (some obscure Greek god maybe? ;DDDD). That was one of those questions that don’t make any sense before someone asks them, but once they are on the table, they can make me confused as hell, a reaction that perhaps makes me worse than Ann, who just felt that same sensation, but she quickly skipped the pages instead of overthinking the hell out of it, like I did. Or perhaps both of us were lucky, because we were not numb for this weird sensation, and because we can probably perceive countless other similar phenomena that don’t exist for other people. But then again, perhaps we were crazy for having minds that stop and start whenever they want and often drift in unwanted directions, beautiful but useless, like most of the thoughts that they produced.
Our conversation also kept drifting from topic to topic and occasionally hitting a wall until I became tired of it and so I remained silent and instead caught myself listening to the rhythmical moans or Cathy which were coming from the other room. Her voice sounded so passionate that I couldn’t help but feel envy when I listened to her “Oh”-s and “Yes”-s. “Yeah, they are fucking…” Anna said to me with a tone of voice which seemed emotionless, but which at the same time served as a more than clear signal that she was jealous too.
It was the typical type of envy that idealists like me felt for people who were deeply-rooted in the “real world”, whatever that concept meant. One that is stemming from the dreadful feeling that that I would always be going in one direction and looking at the opposite one. And, although much more confident than me, Ann was similar to myself in her lack of willpower, and, similarly to myself, she didn’t feel she knew what true happiness was, not because she lacked the means to attain it (in fact, I sometimes think that people like her are best-suited to attain virtually anything), but because she didn’t possess the single-mindedness necessary to actually enjoy it. So my envy was hers as well, and (as hilarious it seems to me sometimes (and probably to you as well)) it was particularly tragic at times, as it was an envy that completely devoid of hope of attaining its object of desire.
“Do you want to see Dana?” Ann she asked me after a while (Dana was the nickname she used for that dirty profile in that social network that she told me about) and then she explained what she meant - she liked to show me the sexy outfits that she had bought in order to take the pictures she posted online and to tell me some of the stories that she made up for her character.
Her question threw me off guard even more than the first time (when she said she wanted to sleep with me) and I had even less of an idea on how to answer it, not because I could fancy myself choosing both options, but because I couldn’t imagine choosing either - on one hand it would have been absolutely stupid to refuse the proposition of the beautiful girl, whom I was also obliged to stay with (not to mention I had absolutely nothing better to do) and on another - she was about to make herself vulnerable to me, which, I felt, would leave me vulnerable as well, as if I was obliged to leave the real of the normal and the mundane with her. I say “as if”, because I don’t really know whether it was more of an obligation, or a want or desire. At any rate, normality were a constant burden to us all (OK I mean us at the facility, I didn’t mean to include you), so escape was sometimes automatic, like the drowner’s grouching for breath. So, while I while my mind was playing scenarios and weighting the pros and cons of each one, I told Anna that it would be interesting for me to see her alter ego.
The knapsack problem How to write a book / P and NP / leaving home
Meeting my roommate Alex / Picking friends / Who am I / How switching places would solve both of our issues
Hallway Church and Turing / Being stupid
X Nerd stereotypes / How I got my nickname / Establishing connection with my younger self
Good company Social code / Anna / Catherine
Fence Outside / Not being punished / Discreet and continuous models
Outside This or nothing / The moon / Fractals / Me and Alex / Explanations / Is the world mathematical
What are we in for Anna's kinky alter ego / Marijuana
What are we in for contd The conformist choice / Taboos / Dichotomies /Marijuana
Back to the facility Anna and Cathy / Trying to be like other people / Sleeping with Anna
The sleepover Anna's childish behavior / Critics / Boring robots / Adoring Anna
The sleepover contd Irony / Heroes and deserters / Retreat to where? / Real and ideal / Choices
Us and them The uncut book pages / Envy
Sex Anna's fantasy / What makes us weird / The establishment and being normal
Cigarettes Alex's good night sleep / About me and Alex again / Sex and love / The proof that P does not equal NP