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Exercise

Ara Hagopian


I’m on drugs and I am desperate to close this gap between us. The gap between reader and writer is too wide. It feels profoundly untenable to me in this moment. Desperate. The very thought of you reading to kill time and paying half-attention and making critical judgements feels powerful enough to turn me into some sort of werewolf. My name is Ara Hagopian. It’s not a pen name. No trick spellin’ as a rapper once said. Got what it takes to get it through your thick melon, Ara Hagopian. My twitter is ara_hagopian and my phone number is 508-635-7719 (Alice Munro never gave out her phone number in a published piece!). Feel free to call me or send me a message. I’m always happy to talk to people. That is not a fake phone number, I promise. It’s the real thing. I don’t think I’m capable of lying right now. I can feel thoughts coming, if that makes sense, and as soon as a lie comes over my horizon I feel a very unpleasant sensation like clipping the pink part of a fingernail.


I’m really toeing the line here between good drug writing and bad drug writing, but… I feel comfortable saying that I love you. If I elaborate on that I’ll sound stupid, so I’ll just move on. I won’t ask you to love me back. Just please do me a favor and bring your whole self to this thing, would you? I’m writin’ here!

…You

:You

;You


+You

-Me

<Me

&Me

!Me

?Me

You and me. Me and you. Both of us together. Hopefully that accomplished something. Or maybe not. It’s kind of dumb now that I think about it. But I already have a better idea. Let’s do some exercises together. I have three ideas for exercises we can do.

You know that voice in your head? The one that you think in? The one that tells you you’re not good enough?

Try screaming in it.

Again, I’m talking to you. Not an abstract you. Not a literary you, but a literally you. Literally you literally reading this.

Try screaming with the voice inside your head. Scream as loudly as you can for as long as you can. Not so easy, is it? Try it again. Try to do it for ten seconds longer this time. Shut your eyes tight, tuck your chin, clench your facial muscles. Mentally scream until the veins in your head burn. Try it one more time and give it your absolute all. Isn’t it interesting, this mind-body connection? Have you ever felt it as acutely as you feel it right now? You’re welcome! How do you feel in this moment? Check in with yourself, as they say. Do you feel better or do you feel worse?

Checkpoint- did you actually do the exercise? Or did you just read about it? If you didn’t do it, go back and do it. Seriously. It’s an interesting experience, I promise.

We’re gonna have a little “choose your own adventure” moment:

-if you didn’t do the exercise, go back and do it


-if you refuse to do the exercise, close this book and throw it in the garbage… I don’t want people reading my words if they won’t do what I say


-if you’ve done the exercise, feel free to read on


The second exercise is to take your right middle finger and insert it into your mouth. Position the finger such that when you bite down you are biting down onto the middle phalange (I had to look up what those little finger-sections are called… it’s so funny that they’re the only thing we have three of, like we have two arms and two legs and two eyes and two ears but we have three little finger sections on each finger). Again, I am not saying this for dramatic effect. I’m earnestly entreating you; if you don’t comply you risk severing the fragile cross-temporo-spatial connection I’m endeavoring to create between us. I’m a good person and I care about you. You can trust me. Anyway put your right middle finger in your mouth and bite down on the middle phalange. Bite down hard. See how hard you can bite down before you have to stop yourself. When you pull the finger out there should be teeth marks. You can see the theme developing here with these exercises… are you ruled by your conscious mind or your unconscious mind? Can we truly be called master of ourselves? How and why and to what end does an abstract thing become concrete? I don’t know the answer to such questions. I can tell you, however, that when I get high enough I’m able to bite my own finger and draw blood. Not that I’m bragging or anything.

Your third and final trial (hee hee) is to read the following sentence out loud to yourself:

Human experience is all about making idealism seem reasonable.

Read it out loud! Read it as if it were a truth and an incantation. Being on a bus or at an airport doesn’t make you exempt. Read it out loud now, not later this evening. Do it now, damnit! Right now!


Whatever it leads to, it will lead to something interesting.

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