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

Exam

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

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