Monday, March 30, 2015
Someone has found my sleeping bag, and as karma would have it, it is damp from the misty air. Everything is damp, sweaty and gross. I’m not used to being such a burden on my friends; I thought I was more responsible than this. Rain is coming soon. I prepare for the typical discomfort associated with “roughing it” and the coming night’s “rest.” I can’t imagine why some are bothering to set up a stove—in their stuffy puffed jackets and dirty boots, with dirty faces and mouths. Too unappetizing. I’ll stick to the bars.
Daylight comes and we continue on the trail. We come across three monstrous elephants with large, round, human eyes. They stand at attention in a glade, awaiting the commands of their military trainers who sit bow-legged on their jeweled harnesses. The beasts are about two-and-a-half stories tall and are not intimidated by men, not to mention the bamboo forest they could walk through as if through blades of grass. More frighteningly, they appear to have some intelligence, evident though the exchange of glances between them.
One of the trainers makes several pointed threats. It is 20 miles until our car.
Friday, March 20, 2015
Leaving the hotel, my friends drive me to their new house in Palo Alto. They show me their new patio swing, painted robin egg blue and rocking gently in the breeze next to a bush. It is a symbol of their new-found success in the tech market, of which I played a miniscule role.
Here, one of my old tormenters is now assuming a much friendlier disposition, asking me questions in frank, not in jest. I am taken aback, and answer slowly. His blonde-haired lady sits in an armchair nearby, watching nonchalantly with an errant gaze.
After an intense night of celebratory drinking, I wake momentarily from fifteen or so hours of sleep, rolling on the cot they set up for me in their living room. In a romantic stupor, my old spazzy friend (a new resident of the Palo Alto incubator) and I have tied the knot, despite the lack of any past intimacy. Well, besides a few awkward stares on the bed, of course. In my right hand, I stare starry-eyed at a grainy, clearly-recycled piece of paper with blue stylings. Our nascent marriage is certified, and my loopy signature is readily apparent.
I'm not sure about this. What have I done? Was there a prenuptial? Did she target me in an insane bout of militant feminism? (Truly that college of hers must have taught a few tricks.)
Dozing off, I awake to notice that she has finally arrived; her light is on in her room across the hallway. I see her petite frame lying belly down on her bed, exhausted from work. A strange feeling sinks into my gut, and as if controlled by the atoms of the air, a preternatural affection blossoms from my heart.
Getting out of bed, shirtless and entranced, I walk towards her doorway and open my arms in an embrace. She's wearing a pretty black blouse and her lips are painted a lush red: a feminine visage I've never seen before. Open-eyed, she smiles, but is quick to defend herself from my embrace. Still smiling, she says that before any intimacy, I will have to fight for it.
Confused, I see that in the background, to the left near the window, a old bald Indian man with a white goatee is cleaning his hands in a basin. He starts performing some calisthenics. This is the swami of Hindu Kush! He is my opponent. I limber up and prepare for fisticuffs.
Wednesday, March 18, 2015
I cannot afford anything less than an A-minus in this class, just as much as I could not finish this assignment in three hours. Luckily, I’m friends with a course administrator. Y, in his red striped polo, puts a loopy signature on a form with a black ballpoint pen, half-dry and visible mostly through the depression in the paper. He ridicules my pitiful scholarship, but this is well-deserved.
I am approved to drop the class but need to give the form to the resident pig woman. But now it’s 7:00 pm; I highly doubt she’s in her office. Perhaps an email will do? I struggle to find a scanner. Maybe I can use my smartphone? The halls become an unfamiliar labyrinth.
My mom and dad come to visit me for graduation.
“Wait, you guys brought the TV, right?” I ask selfishly from the outright, referring to the old flat screen I’ve been looking forward to obtaining.
“Yes! Of course!” Mom replies as they take suitcases out of a hatchback crossover, which we do not own (and I hope we never will).
In my apartment, they criticize my coffee machine for
- Being too small, and
- Not being automatic
Thursday, March 12, 2015
Nighttime In my Focus, with blue LED lighting in the panels. My unknown bearded chauffeur in a baseball cap pulls out and makes a three point U-turn on Bancroft avenue from Spieker plaza, and begins driving downhill, westward. He’s not interested in the features of my automobile—because he already knows them—and he doesn’t tell me where he is driving. It is possible we have just left a social event in that area.
It is now daylight. The blind corner of the faux roman concourse, with all of its ornate panels, is walked instead of driven. At the end of the esplanade there is a cattle watering tank at the base of a grassy hill, which has a step-function periodicity reminiscent of a novelty slalom course in the summer time. The neon pink straps on our backpacks do not reflect the stolidity of our faces as we begin the hike. Nothing else is visible at the apex except the blue sky, and it is warm.
Saturday, January 3, 2015
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.
Wednesday, December 10, 2014
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.
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.
Saturday, October 18, 2014
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
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
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
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
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.