Saturday, January 3, 2015

Coffee Cart

I cross-registered at the nearby women's college to take a few courses in the humanities. They hold some classes in the old fallout shelter, which is five stories tall and constructed mainly of steel beams and corrugated metal sheets. A few sliding doors in the main corridor have a yellow radiation trefoil. I'm not exactly sure if such materials are actually housed in here.

I see a few girls getting coffee at a cart nearby; one of them is C. and I'm happy to see her. I say hello and open my arms to embrace, and she does a quarter turn as if to respond to me but she is interrupted by her friends. I swear we made eye contact, but she is unable to evade their grasp. I interpret this as a cold shoulder, and I go on my way in an awkward, melancholic defeat, my arms crossed. Looking in a mirror, I notice I am a bit scruffy with an emerging neck beard and dry, wiry hair. Untamed brows, bags. No wonder.

It is five minutes until my next class but this being my first day, I'm not sure where the lecture halls are. I look at my schedule and see that the room is in 1-163, but to me I don't know if the numbers correspond to a building, level, or whatever. One hallway leads to a large hangar-like area, completely empty and illuminated with large warehouse-grade fluorescent lights. The stairs descend two stories a flight, and at the bottom I become more suspicious I am not going in the right direction.

Two minutes until class. I don't know where the classroom is and I have to piss really bad. These classes take attendance, too. Shit. I take a hasty, panicky leak.

I see old characters from undergrad in the smokey hallway emanating from the hangar. I shake some hands. Long time no see.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Parking Lot

They messed up on our order. That delicious food is for my sister. They completely forgot to include mine in the bag. Anything open right now? No just Stater Brothers maybe, says Dad, who is irritated with the incompetence but is too tired to act on my behalf.

I'm an adult though. I drive over to the market. I spend about half an hour staring at nothing near the front of the store in my black quicksilver t-shirt. Then I snap out of it and grab a hand basket.
I make way around the different aisles, managing to mostly buy junk and not actual food. Peanut butter Oreos. Near the delicatessen a white man in a baseball cap tailgates me, stalking me. I have to maneuver to the wine section to avoid him. He has a little daughter of about three to four years old. Very strange.

I carry out my groceries just as the store is closing and I navigate the parking lot maze, which is surprisingly full at this time of night.

Great, I actually see a fast food place open. Yet once again I space out and by the time I regain my bearings even this place has closed, the neon lights turned off. I'm starting to get really hungry and I only bought junk food. I can't even find this bag of junk food. Did I put it in my trunk?

Still looking for my car, I notice that both my keys and wallet lie on the grass in the lamp light. Nothing has been stolen, though. It's a miracle. How did I drop these in the first place? I press the door-open button on my key repeatedly and continue in search of my car. I don't dare use the panic button. Some cars light up but it is a coincidence; none is my car. Drivers stare at me.

Wait, now I'm in the passenger seat of my own car? I mean, that does look like the panel and steering wheel, but I'm in the passenger seat. I insert the key into the ignition; it fits. I start the car and release the brake but I'm in the passenger seat. The car rolls a bit. I awkwardly enter the cockpit and get a foot on the brake pedal. I'm near a tire store illuminated with fluorescent lamps. Yet when I put my foot on the accelerator I am back in the dark parking lot. There is a fog and light mist. What's going on? I keep day dreaming.

I see E. jogging on the raised road to my upper right, in the same direction I'm going. Despite this, she does little but acknowledge me; she does not join me on the road below and continues on her way in a very efficient and ambitious manner. I must seem to symbolize some sort of incompetence or inadequacy in my behavior. I continue running among the diagonal parking spaces and cannot find my car among them, pressing buttons on my key fob. There is a wood-paneled motel to the left.

Hmmm, a Thai restaurant with a plethora of well-dressed clientele. I awkwardly weave through their packed arrangement in my overly casual get-up. I exit on the other side, where there is a sprawling yet desolate cyberpunk shopping district. This steel-lined distraction is not what I'm looking for. However, I notice that the restaurant is multiple stories, and I see several classy diners enjoying their meals through the windows. I repeat my awkward foray across the dining tables and start jogging again.

I run down dark Alcatraz to the intersection with San Antonio Mountain Rd, seeing the rich people head northbound on the four lane highway to their high altitude abodes. I head southbound where the lanes quickly merge to two and there is minimal street lighting, just like Alcatraz. Soon enough, this road becomes a hiking path, and eventually even this trail greatly narrows and disintegrates into a poorly maintained and brushy route. Also, keep in mind it's dark, and it would be menacingly dark if it weren't for the brilliant moonlight. Just like Tilden without a headlamp. Having had such bad experiences in the wilderness before, I forsake this shortcut. Furthermore, I am inconvenienced with this cumbersome pillow, which would not fare well amongst the jutting branches. I choose the route through the metropolis instead. (These vast distances covered so efficiently!) I take a right on Alcatraz at the intersection, leaving mysterious San Antonio behind.

Once again back in this parking lot I am antagonized by a mentally slow yet physically agile black man, who follows me around in close quarters making rapid movements with hands and uttering aggressive-sounding nonsense. I get rid of him after assuming a fighting stance; we are near a public bathroom/shower, and he disappears inside of it. There is a long line of blonde white men to these showers. One of them begins to mock me, and in a rage I begin a tirade of pronounced threats. He instantly becomes shorter in stature, and although he is quieted he is not defeated. I search through this facility (I don't even know what I'm looking for anymore.) One exit is actually a balcony overlooking the posh Emeryville shopping center. What the fuck! I turn around and try to find the exit of the bathroom but this is a continuous topological labyrinth.

I never get food. I never find my car. I never go home.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Cabaret Singer

I see her, French cabaret singer, singing on the television screen.

Red, green, violet lights illuminate her face and the band in between.

This is part of a commercial, and I'm in it, too, as part of the crowd.

She finishes her performance, smiling, proud, reaches for my hand as I
scream praises out loud.

Commercial paused, I cross the television plane, into the capitalist
fairy tale universe within.

Becoming a younger me, they envision me and the singer in our youth, in
a garden.

On a stone bench, this little girl, a white dress; me running on the
packed dirt road,

A young boy, in blue shorts. I run fast towards her siren song where the
sun doth shone.

She grows taller, into a woman, and I into a man, dressing finely to the T.

Each other chasing playfully, in Grand Central Station, divinely she
runs and smiles at me.

The subway stairs are flooded with honey, trapping Nintendo characters
and the grandfather clock.

We continue to run as Yoshi melts in agony, screaming murder, while I
still hear her talk.

The rainbows flock into a pinwheel well, which spins and spins like a
psychedelic maelstrom.

It spins and spins and captures all matter, all light, nothing escapes,
including her song.

The lyrics take shape as they enter the rave, each one in block letters,
it's some type of sign:

It's the name of the company, the corporate sponsor, its logo prominent
as we two lovers die.


I climb to the top of the flat-roofed building, home of suspected
communist infiltrators, by way of the garden trellis, as the other
agents move around to the other side to place wiretaps. When I reach the
top, I realize the building is not very stable, swaying from side to
side as I attempt to crawl forward. This does not mesh well with the
secret nature of our investigation. I begin to hear yelling and shots
fired from below. I think we've been spotted, and I need to get down.
But the trellis has disappeared and I'm forced to consider unlikely
options for descending the four story drop into the dark street below,
made clearer through the light-pollution of this cloudy night.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014


I scramble to grab a pen, eraser, and three very sharp pencils in the
dark. I take an Uber to the Tenderloin, home of the night club venue of
my engineering exam. Aggressively dodging human sludge, we let the
bouncers check our IDs and proceed to the right, away from the rave, up
the stairwell to a corporate corridor. The test taking facility is on
the left, and consists of six or seven round tables, each for two
students. The proctor hands out the blue test booklets, and I wait for
him to commence the test. My eyes are on the clock. He never calls time,
yet, students have begun penciling their responses. What! I am already
fifteen minutes behind for this one and a half hour exam. I look at the
question sheet; there are about seven or eight. The first deals with the
porosity of snow and compressibility. Harmless, I think, let's move.
What, another thirty minutes have passed by! I see D. on my right
handing in his exam, making a face that clearly explains "that wasn't
too bad," and walking out confidently. I am paralyzed. I cannot meet
pencil to paper. More students hand in their exams and, as usual, begin
talking about it as they leave the room. My professor sits at front
seemingly occupied on his computer, but in reality, his patience for me
to finish is waning. I can't breathe. Failure is better than this
suffocation. I begin changing my life's itinerary, but then subside into
motives of cowardice. My body spills anxious droplets of honey onto the
shiny white plane below me.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

I Have Headphones, Too!

I've been invited back to the institute to my friend's Master's thesis
presentation in aeronautics. The main lobby is revitalized with green
marble tiles and columns and the students sport a crisp utopian flair in
their brass-buttoned coats. We gather in 6-120 to a considerable
audience of graduate students and a spectrum of faculty members. For
some reason, I'm under the impression that I should be editing the
technical information of my friend's slides. I get nervous, knowing
nothing about the content, and fumble the keystrokes on my computer. I
insist on using the HDMI interface from my laptop to the media control
center in the rear of the auditorium, as opposed to using the VGA
connector at the presenter's podium up front. Looking behind, I see my
friend laughing. Don't worry, he has everything under control.


In my office, I see my old colleague. Yes, I have headphones too now!
Just like you used to wear when you were writing your thesis. More
things in common than the few we had before! And good news!: I factored
in the precursor contributions for all levels of the decay chain. You
could see the Bateman characteristics emerge beautifully in the stream
of equations on the video screen, with all initial concentrations fully
defined and no loss of generality in the Heaviside terms.


Walking down Haste towards Shattuck. What? We're going to the game, and
you're not wearing Raiders gear! That's a black-and-white Mars Volta jacket.


Driving on the dusty and empty avenue in Newport Beach, I accidentally
enter the right turn lane. Once I pass the plastic pole barriers, I turn
on my blinkers and illegally merge back into the travel lane. I continue
down my secret shortcut by the railroad tracks only to discover the
owner of the recycle yard has blocked the road with his wooden gate. My
car has become a motorcycle, and I dismount to speak to the butch woman
with short, curly blonde hair who is about to ride hers. She understands
my predicament and points to the dirt path at my right. It leads right
to the end of my previous route via a hiking trail. I thank her and
carry my motorcyle by hand through the alley.

I pass by a ball field lit by floodlights. Shit, I'm late to practice.
The infielders are already warming up; I feel quite ashamed and don't
know how to smoothly engage with the exercises. What punishment will
coach devise for me? He doesn't make eye contact. There's my research
colleague fielding a ground ball. I had no idea he even played.

Monday, September 29, 2014


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.