Our theme for the month of October was selected by readers and is a format challenge: write a post completely in dialogue.

Gabriel? Gabriel?

Yes! Over here.

Oh. Gabriel. Good. We’re ready for you now. If you’ll follow me right this way.

How are you today?

Fine. And you?

That’s not how this works. You know that.

How are you today?

Ummm…overwhelmed, I guess. By good things mostly. Some bad things. There are just a lot of things, I suppose.

I see. Now, could you please remove your ego—yes, right there is fine—and could you stand against the wall over here? We’re just going to measure your privilege quickly.

Okay. Excellent. You can relax. Still in the ninety-fifth percentile, so no change there!

Yeah. I don’t think that one’s changing any time soon.

I think not. And now could you step onto the scale? We’ll assess your work ethic.

So, do you have any big plans for the rest of your twenties?

What? Oh. Ummm…hopefully learn Italian, maybe finish the novel I started, run the Berlin marathon? Mostly just spend time with my friends, though.

That sounds nice.

Okay. You can step off now. Work ethic is a little lower than usual, but probably nothing to be concerned about at this point. Have you noticed any changes in ambition or trouble motivating yourself lately?

Not any more than usual. I think I’m just finally settling in to life here in Seattle, and I want to enjoy finding my rhythm before I start focusing on any new projects. I still have more ambition than motivation, though. I always tell my friends that I have type A ambition with type B work ethic.

I wouldn’t say that. That’s not what the charts suggest. Do you self-efface often?

I—I don’t think so. Is my privilege-accomplishment index low, though?

A bit on the low end for you, maybe, but no.

Now, if you’ll sit over here, I’m just going to take your anxiety. You’re going to feel some tightness. That’s normal. Okay?


Aaaaand we’re almost done. There. You can stand up. Twenty-two over three hundred and seventy-eight. Good.

Is that normal? I don’t know what those numbers mean.

It’s normal. Now if you’ll just follow me down this hallway, please.

And in here.

There we go.

It has been a while since your last visit.

Yeah. I meant to come in this summer, but I was traveling a lot.

Really? Well, I suppose if you have to have an excuse, that’s a pretty good one. What was your favorite thing that you learned about the enduring facets of your identity when you were plucked from your normal surroundings and routine?

Well, I really enjoyed my time in London—

That’s not what I asked. That’s not how this works.

That I love meeting new people, I guess.

Good. Now, I just have a few quick questions for you. Just answer honestly, please.

Have you been engaging in much spiritual practice lately?

Well, I mean—

Gabriel. There are no right or wrong answers. Just be honest.

I mean, I pray a lot, but I haven’t been to church in a few months. I’d like to go more, but I try to get all of my chores done on Sundays and—

And have you had any major accomplishments since you were last here?

I got a new job, and I won five gold medals at the Gay Games.

Wonderful. And any failures?

Well, my car died back in May, and I still haven’t gotten a new one. Does that count?

If you think it does, then yes. Now if you’ll lean forward I’m going to take a quick listen to your will to live.

It might be a bit cold.


Good. It’s beating along nicely. It has been a few years since we heard that murmur. That’s a good sign. Yes?


Now I’m going to use this depresser to take a quick look at your deepest fears and regrets, so I’m going to need you to open wide for just a moment. Your throat and chest will probably feel tight, and you will experience a sensation of hopelessness. I need you to trust me that it will pass, though. Okay?


All right. Three more seconds. Three…two…aaaaand…one. There.

Here. Here’s a picture of Leslie Knope and Ben Wyatt walking through City Hall together arm-in-arm. Let’s get that mood back up!

Feel better?

Yes. Thank you.

Mostly the same, then. A little less fear of change, though. That’s good!

Thank you. I guess moving across the country will do that to you!

All right. Now I’ll just have you think about physical and emotional intimacy for a moment. Got it?


And cough. Excellent. And cough once more. There. Done.

Did that make you uncomfortable?

A little bit.

I’m sorry.

I’m getting better, though.

Good. Now, I’m going to have you stand and look at the conviction chart on the other side of the room.

You can come right up to the line here. There. Perfect.

Now, can you read the big item at the very top for me?

Yes. “I want to be happy.”

Perfect. That one’s easy. And the next line down?

“I want to have strong, mutual relationships” and “I want to have work that challenges me appropriately and serves a greater purpose.”

Very good. And the next line down?

“I—I want tooooo….”

It’s all right. Take your time. Don’t tense up; try to relax.

“I want to?” No. “I want someone to….”

Try the next one over.

“I want a car.” No! Sorry. I mean, that is true, but it says, “I want a career…a career that….is? In-Involves, maybe?” I’m sorry. I can’t make it out.

That’s all right. We know that this is always difficult for you. I have a couple books that I can prescribe at the end of the appointment. Don’t worry. Are you worried?


It’s going to be all right. This is something we can take care of. Okay?


Now, I’m going to have you bend over just a bit, and I’m going to have you list people that matter to you and that you matter to. And I’m just going to listen. Okay? This one’s easy.


All right. Someone that matters to you.


And someone that you matter to.


Good. And someone that matters to you.


And someone that you matter to.


Someone that matters to you.


And someone that you matter to.


All right. And one more big one! Someone that matters to you.


And someone that you matter to.


Very good. You can stand back up.

Are you sure? I could go all day!

No need to brag! I trust you, though. Very good.

Do you feel a bit better?


Good. Now is there anything else that you want to talk about today?


Gabriel. That did not sounds very convincing. You said you were feeling overwhelmed. What’s that about?


That’s not how this works.

Okay. It’s not nothing, but it’s fine. I mean, not fine. It’s—it’s—I can handle it.

If you don’t talk to me, I can’t help you.

Gabriel? Gabriel?

Fine. Think about it, and we’ll talk next time. Do you think we can do that?

Yes. I’m sorry. I really do.

That’s all right. That’s why we always have a next appointment. And we’re not going to wait so long this time, right?


Oh, and I think I figured out one of the things on the chart.


“I want someone to watch sleep.” Is that right?

That’s not how this works. You know that.

Do you remember the way out?

Yes. Down the hall and to the right?

Exactly. To the right.

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