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I took a seat by the TV. Emma the front desk girl brought me a piece of the cake, but I wasn’t really hungry. Nobody showed any further interest in me, as usual. The party wasn’t really anything special for me; they brought in cake every week at the slightest provocation and donuts if nobody could think of anything to put on a cake.

Still, it was my birthday and I probably wouldn’t be getting anything but Stevens’ dud piñata. I spat confetti out of my teeth, and tried to remember this morning’s Motivational Life Coach e-mail. “Being interesting is an action,” it’d said, “So go out and do it.” I spent some time trying to think how that could be motivational, pondered for a while whether it really meant anything at all, and had just about sunk into a rather despairing collection of thoughts about how the world had reduced me to the point where an e-mail forward was my biggest impetus in life when I realized it was time to get back to work.

The empty piñata head was sitting on my desk when I got back; it watched me blankly as I worked on the SWAT report and continued trying to get all the confetti out of my mane.