Monday, September 29, 2014

Shave

I walk up to the mirror to shave before my date. My beard and mustache have grown into handsome layers of laminar fungi. I put down the razor and use my fingers to instead peel back the layers that have grown so comely on my face, revealing up to three different species living in harmony. They peel like an orange rind from its soft ovarian body, or more tangibly like a strong adhesive bandage.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Door to Nowhere

Roof deck with picnic tables, tiki torches and outdoor propane heaters.
Tapas on the tables with sangria in red cups.

Prolonged hugs with old friends and love interests. I need to change
into semi-formal.

Dressing in the bathroom. Two navy blue stalls awkwardly merged with a
low-lying door instead of a barrier. I have to wait for the others to
finish their business.

---

I climb the annexed stairwell up to the top and open the door to a shear
four story drop, all the way to the first floor. (Why does the stairwell
lead to here, of all places?) The only means of landing is to grab onto
the adjacent bunk bed of a new member. This involves me leaping over the
man-made abyss and grabbing onto the sheets, which I do, with sweaty
palms, not looking down.

Mattresses for prospective members. Blood stains from virgin romances.
Consent curtains.

I guess I better introduce myself to the new guys. Where are they?
They're not in the kitchen either.

---

Class average on the test: thirty-two. What the hell? What happened?
Sorry, out out forty, not a hundred!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Examination Room

I fantasize about having a spot in the Morgan Freeman-narrated physics
documentary, but even in my fantasy I cannot summon the well-spoken
character of people who know what they're talking about. I can see
myself dressed very well in a fitted grey suit with dark-rimmed glasses,
my name, the subtitle ("nuclear physicist") but when I'm asked a
question I'm not able to explain the phenomenon correctly. I believe the
documentary is covering EMP weapons. These thoughts flood my mind as I
stroll down the hallway of what appears to be a cross between a hospital
and the third level of the Z Center in view of the Olympic pool.

All high-and-mighty from my ego-trip, I become very proud from the
example I made for my people. Yet, from what I thought was an
opportunity of empowerment, I enter the lobby and see a Latina woman
(around my age) cleaning the crevice of some door with a specialized
tool. She is being told by an Anglo supervisor to go over it again, and
she robotically agrees. The floor is excessively waxed, much like the
foyer at the hospital I used to worked at.

I see an examination room placed awkwardly near to the receptionist
desk, within sight of anyone in that area. I see the nurse and a female
patient discussing the procedure. "Don't worry! You're gonna be fine"
she tells her. However, minutes later, the nurse must recant as the
woman is given the unfortunate results of her test. The nurse opens the
door to the previously complacent receptionist, and after I catch the
split second sight of her holding the probe next to the nearly naked
woman, I shield my eyes and turn away.

--

We heard the residents near Candlestick park got free tickets the 49er's
game because they were forced to look at an ugly crane for so long.

Driving through one of the Marin tunnels, we reach a lone green house.
Inside, the stairs are paneled with hundreds of tablet computers fitted
with sensors to monitor the stresses applied by the stepping person.
However, none of them are turned on, and this appears to be both a
whimsical blunder and waste of semiconductors. At the bottom of the
stairs, I find my old lover in a cabaret lounge...

Monday, September 8, 2014

Numerical Approach

We all sit down for the multicultural musical performance in the convention center. Many high school students in bright costumes queue at the sides of a stage, some carrying scripts. The stands consist of reclining leather chairs bolted to tacky blue felt carpet. There's also a bar with a sign saying "Everything served except BitCoin" that strangely utilizes the eyes in the logo from the Chattanooga Lookouts.

One of the a-capellas begin. A cellular buzzer is heard and someone gets mad at the interruption. E. retorts at the audience member by saying it's not her fault, although I'm sure she's not familiar with the mute function on her new smartphone. To my left, A. is also distraught that she cannot pause her retro Microsoft Zune, further agitating said audience member. No one seems to be engaged with the overall tackiness of their surroundings and inharmonious smell of garlicky catering food.

A new act comes to the stage. Professor, who is sitting nearby, has apparently seen the results of my problem set and is not satisfied with my approach and overall performance. We both ignore the musical performance, and I don't dare ask about the mark I received.

He asks me to illustrate my analytical and numerical approaches to the problem, and I fail to show this adequately on a blank sheet of paper. He flips through some pages of analysis looking for a means of exonerating me and approving my competence. I try using his template, which features a strange logarithmic diagram, but I can tell he disagrees with that method.

"Don't you have a code or program that demonstrates how you solve a problem?" he asks with a swollen tinge of concern. I can't respond right away. He tells me to look through my file system for examples. (At this point his voice cracks and he's almost to the point of tears, like a disappointed father.) I start searching for my Fortran codes on my laptop but can't sort my files by type. All I see are many irrelevant PDFs.

We leave the performance and in a neutral tone tells me to continue working, with no goodbye. A sense of failure washes over me as I walk down the tree-lined street. Is it possible they will tell me to leave? There's rap music played in public speakers that does not match the suburban environment, but would've went well with the tawdry auditorium.

Around the corner, I make it to the Mission Inn, where a section has been turned into a restaurant with signage indicating an obnoxious family space theme. We walk through a very empty, oblique-shaped and under-utilized section of the building that may have been dedicated to ice cream vending in the past. Walking through the awkwardly narrow door to the main lobby, I spot a green prize machine.

"There's something I should tell you about this machine" says D. He walks around to the side of it, opens a hatch, and grabs me one of the plastic prize dispensers. It's a balloon, apparently free; no need to deposit quarters. "Yeah, these things can be intimidating. That's why you only see entire trains of ladies attempt to play for fear of failure. Redundancy at its best!"

I ask him how he learned such dating skills, and he gives me the name of the new-age scripture he bought in Berkeley.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Television Haze

The Charles River is flooded, and there is a high current towards Watertown. The railway under BU bridge is almost inundated.

Heading down, we have to ford some parts of the esplanade.

Some of the underlying granite has been exposed from the intense urban erosion. We reach the bar.

Mindless glow of televisions in the dining hall. The patrons, sitting in high back chairs, are under the influence of alcohol and sedatives.

I see the barista and order an Adios Motherfucker. It shines a beautiful, aquatic blue in the TV haze.

Some girl I had a crush on in middle school. She's wearing a blazer and jeans with no apparent underclothing, and she doesn't remember me. Her intoxication probably doesn't help either.

These old middle school characters drink spirits and stare out the bay windows at the nighttime deluge of Boston. Same view as the BU bridge.

I leave the tavern and trace my steps back towards the flooded city. My friends are behind me but can't keep up with my pace. This turns into an unusually scenic hike in the emerging morning. We don't have to ford any streams like last time.

My phone and wallet are still here, but I've lost my grey hoodie in the scramble to leave. It may be held by a second degree connection I've so obnoxiously left behind. It gives me anxiety. I've lost and recovered that jacket so many times it has sentimental value now.

A reclined cyclist defies inertia on the sharp hairpin turn on the nearby Ivy League road.

A chicana from the 1970s wearing a sundress greets me and gives me a ride in her yellow car. We're off to the suburbs.



Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Moonlight on the Private Bay Views

Beautiful blue moonlight in the idyllic Oakland hills. Driving on the winding road by the modern high-rise apartments and condominiums with colored Piet Mondrian-like panels and aluminum trim; it’s like driving by prefabricated 3D-printed sculptures in a big-city museum. They are where some of my friends in the Silicon Valley live, and are high-tech, heavily gated, and said to have the most impressive (or only) views of the bay. We wouldn’t know; all of the hill peaks are gated as well, hence the “only.” Yes, every speck of real estate is top dollar. The bubble never popped in this dreamy moon-soaked future.

The ride continues back into the city (Cambridge? San Francisco?) These friends are having fun while I suffer and remain poor, I mutter. At this point, I naturally begin to develop my statement of resignation as naturally as Jefferson wrote the Declaration. “It makes no sense to be disrespected and poor while my friends live well and prosper in much better environments. It’s not worth it to me.” This manifesto felt like spoken keys to my prison. At this exact moment, I am impolitely accosted in my limousine by a bumpkin, who feels I will tip him for opening my door. I make it clear this is not okay, and he apologizes while I curse at him and try to close the carbon fiber flap. It won’t close, and he very well may have robbed me, yet I continue to scoff as I finally close it. I’m wearing a very fine blue blazer and tell the driver to continue.

We decide that if such views are gated, we will hike into the mountains and see these views for ourselves. I set up my sleeping bag at the apex of a large rock, but in an apparent carelessness I do not set up my tent nor place a rain cover over my bag. E. and D. are down below and search for water before they go to bed; I am deeply snuggled into my bag already. All of a sudden, heavy rain begins to fall: the kind that engenders flash floods. I realize how foolish I was to ignore my tent and rain fly. However, my friends seem the least bit concerned and continue their trip to the creek.

I now smell synthetic tire rubber from a floor pump as D. operates it. This is now a daily activity before D. takes his car for a ride, analogous to some cyclists. I see the car mounted on a big old wash fluid container, made of plastic. No such unfortunate mishaps will happen again! he states as he continues pumping.

Friends are seated at a nearby table, We are enjoying a Zachary’s deep dish all-meat pizza, although someone is needlessly complaining about the quality. If we finish before 5 o’clock, we get a discount on ordering another one, someone mentions. I think of this possibility as a I start attacking the saucy crust on my slice. We start negotiating the bill. I forget to whom I’m a creditor and to whom I’m in debt.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Terrarium

T. holds in her hands the terrarium bowl housing her bioilluminescent moss species that will act as key players in our project’s fulfillment. These mosses are clumped into grapefruit-sized agglomerations and synchronize their discharges of yellow and green light like the movements of a symphony. This is quite the dazzling display, and truly a feat of modern bioengineering, here in the empty Missouri street. It brings a big white smile to T.’s face.

The colored-light display is interrupted by the crackling thunder of an oncoming storm. I look upwards from the grey asphalt to the smoky blue of the clouds, which suddenly blind me with plasmas. I tell T. that we need to go inside, although the conception of this thought is met with a barrage of lightning bolts from the unseen pantheon hitting trees, bicycles, everything. I hop on my road bike to hasten my escape, but fail to understand I have mounted a mobile target for these angry gods.

---

I discover L. has modified the Jeep with neon interior lighting and various proximity technologies

D. is upset with me, having not been able to find me, wasting time and risking being fired

M. admonishes me before I take off from their garage

motorcycle gyroscopic stability on the hairpin turns

mint green building on the empty side street in Cambridge, clean as a whistle and utopian, strong although short amongst the soulless skyscrapers

single pair of doors made of glass form the entrance

the lobby has a fake plastic plant and directory with movable chiclet letters; I search for the ambassador on the list

nothing else in the lobby, just mint green stairs, like the ones in the reactor

motorcycle to china town

I have unraveled the fire hose all across the bay bridge to Oakland, paying no mind to the disastrous effects on human life were it to snap

it’s meant to be a last form of communication if the mission fails

motorcycle motorcycle

the bridge is lovely with this new cyberpunk LED lighting; plays well with the Akira-inspired Ducatis

the chinatown discotecque contains all sorts of life, although I care for the one carrying the nuclear football

the briefcase is opened, but I order a beer and some food from the papuseria instead

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Amphibious Smart Car

At dusk, I descend into the lake and begin the swim across as part of my day’s workout at the forest retreat. A seemingly feasible task at first, the waves become larger and more ocean-like at the half-way point, where to my despair the other bank looks as far away as it did when I began. Turning around, I am much more overwhelmed by the current and worry I won’t have enough energy to make it back. (How did those guys in Gattaca do it?) Yet, at dawn, I finally reach calmer waters and see the sign welcoming people to the area. It is the only visible manmade object in the grove of Joshua trees, which point towards an inlet where I can beach.

Once I arrive at this beach, a white smart car, driven by a yuppie-ish twenty-something white male in a blue polo, is driven right into the water and enters an amphibious mode to navigate the Bay of Tamaulipas. As he makes way out to sea, he says something to the effect that he is on a journey to discover himself. Exhausted, I make my way inland and surmount a steep embankment consisting of very fine bleach-white sand. I see my friends off yonder gathered near a circular arrangement of marble benches.

The President is holding a community gathering here in order to hear the public opinion about the crises in the Middle East. He shakes the hands of the two friends on my right, and as he seems to acknowledge that I’m here with an expression of disappointment, he does not shake mine, and enters a reclined position as the first testimony is given. This one comes in the form of song, recorded in Arabic by the friend to my left and played from a Walkman. The embellished crooning takes a life of its own and fills all of our ears with the despotic injustice being experienced by his family. The President is not impressed and ask for the next statement.

The second testimony comes from the Hispanic friend on my right,  also in the form of a song, this time recorded in Spanish. It is played from a device that has a switch that can transition the music into the English language. This performance is not as well-produced, and my friend’s embarrassed face seems to acknowledge this. This does not help our leader’s continued disinterest in the public inquiry, forced upon him by his PR committee…

---

I drive the dark blue BMW above eighty miles an hour on the far right lane on the 91, paying no mind to the concrete barrier that could potentially cause major damage to the fa├žade at the slightest misstep in steering.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Peace Offering

The protesters appear before the holy wall wearing shirts bearing the visage of Barack Obama with the slogan "America and Israel United Forever". I see one of my Ethiopian friends wearing a yarmulke; he asks for my sympathy in the demonstration, since apparently out of view there is another protest from the opposition of massive scale. On my right I see an acquaintance running down the temple steps in colorful Nike gear, and she meets me at a white fold-out table. 

She makes a peace offering in the form of food. Although she says the name of this specific dish, it looks like a cross between a torta and a calzone, and it is filled with hummus and fajitas. She asks that I enjoy it and to please be sympathetic to their cause.

---

Late at night in San Francisco, I am with my graduate friends at a bicycle repair shop, where a secret meeting is taking place. I assume this group intends to stage an uprising of some sort, but I am too distracted by the colorful fixies hanging in the room to pay attention. I want to leave but there is no lee way around the transfixed audience. Therefore, I crouch and start crawling on the floor underneath the table. 

After a struggle, I find the shop's bathroom. Like Pinnacle Peak, these guys cut off people's ties on their birthday (why they would be at a bike shop on their birthday I have no idea why). However, they must despise ties since the bathroom is the only location where the severed garments are hung, and the worst offenders have theirs right next to the john. I see one green felt tie to the left with a yellow anthropomorphic sunflower with a sad face. 

Once relieved, I head out to get my bike. At this point, I begin to develop a lot of anxiety. Did I remove my expensive light? Did I lock the front wheel? Did I lock the thing in the first place? I'm startled when I  arrive at the customer bike rack and do not see my bike on the lower section with my U-lock. However, the shop guys knew I had a relatively expensive rig, so they put it in the top rack, having effortlessly compromised the lock. 

It's daylight already, so I get ready to ride to the east bay (somehow).

---

At a scenic overlook near Portola Valley, I espy my car and decide to dismount and run towards it, hoping in the time in between nobody steals my bike. I drive a weed-lined course back to my starting point, park, and begin disassembling the front tire to fit the machine in my trunk. For some reason, Z. is here and she gets into my passenger seat. We drive off to my apartment. 

We drive through my old neighborhood, spotting hoodlums playing with a Fedco shopping cart on the sidewalk. Tenement housing has sprouted from the earth like funguses. It is the dead of night. 

Once we arrive at my home, I immediately get in the shower. Through the flowing steam, I see Z. peek her head through the bathroom door, smiling at me. This wasn't my intention, and I think she understood the message. Once I am finished and dry off, I see her in my roommate's bed, sleeping not with my roommate but with a older female member of my family. She's passed out from our adventure. 

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Closet Full of Cakes

S. points out our location on the OLED-embedded fold-out map, which has tracer circles emanating from the main city in this part of Arkansas. Her boy band idol is apparently nearby, and she plans on meeting him in some errant tryst after dark. Once we arrive at our bed and breakfast, she leaves and I stay up late as usual. My father scolds me for keeping some lights on, interrupting the intense blue of the moonlight. At that point, I begin worrying about the location of my automobile. I realize that I had given the keys to my grandmother for her to borrow.

Transported back home, to my aunt's house, in some room, L. tells me that in order to get my keys back, I have to go with her to the liquor store and a series of other stores. My keys have become collateral for a number of petty purchases; she assumes I make a lot of money nowadays and such items would be no financial burden. She heads out the door expecting me to follow but I stay behind.

In this room there is a closet full of cakes. Raspberry, chocolate, strawberry. All very large, eight inches high, 11 inches in diameter, sitting on the unrefrigerated shelf. Some are careening in their plastic containers, buttressed by random shirts and sweaters. My father, who is also here, eagerly calls me outside. I don't leave the room until I hear an unnamed relative also summon her husband, who I can only see from behind as I walk across the dry yellow leaves in the front yard. My dad is standing next to our old Honda Accord, in shorts and a t-shirt. I don't see my automobile in the street, just the elm tree in the light of the disposable camera flash.