Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Here and Colorado


Mario’s Pizza, Gunnison – June 4th

In our booth, in our wooden alcove. I can’t see. I don’t have to see. The Tapout shirt. The retiree with the tucked in t and no belt. Clothes inspired by bad tattoos. Things bedazzled. I love these booths. I want all restaurants to have them. And the waiter. This guy. I wish I went to high school with him. I’m not sure why. He talks like a VJ. I think he would’ve been fun in study hall. Maybe that’s it. I can’t see them and so I can pretend. So I do.

An orange glow. Then a streak. Now a tint. I am with Sonja and Devin.

The electrical synapse corrodes, it flickers. Orange. Orange-ish. A guy Sonja knows comes up to us. How did he see us? He compliments my shirt, then says “no homo” and laughs. This makes me not like him. He leaves. We talk again. It flickers. I take a drink. Sonja says she guided with him a few years ago. His name is Chase. Sonja has a sister named Sasha. When I see her, I say her name with verve. She seems to like this.

I go away. I spread out in the booth. I have my side to myself. I wonder if they notice I’m away.

A polyester jacket, with a chenille letter I earned, myself. I-vi-IV-V all over my record player. Not cause it’s hip; cause it’s all we have. I’m here. The orange is from a light in a mine shaft. How I imagine it looks that is. The light of ’55.

But I’m back and my hair still cool from dipping it in the reservoir. And the stones I tried to skip. And the mud now on my cuff.

Last night in the hot water. I looked at Sonja. Sonja and the stars and the smell of sulfur. I got so thirsty in there. We played chicken with Devin and Claire before. I love these booths.

I saw her then; Alana: specter of tweed-clad college, hard-bound. At least in my mind, sometimes in person, sometimes with elbow patches. She was range roved and her blanket, madras. With the embroidered letters. It really was madras. Those years were madras. Madras and embroidered. She’s ingested so much bad since school. Mostly guys. Dudes. Some dudes.

It was a thousand miles from here. In blazers. Collars popped when it was cold. As pillows in the spring. On a madras blanket. Thinking about my books. Reading books. Thinking about my iPod battery. Blocking out time for studying. Not for this. Pencil skirts, mackintoshes, saddle shoes, duck boots, toggles. Her eye lids; perpetually gibbous. Lined. Out lined. So bored and so excited. At the same time. Only her.

She was bored though. Her that is. Herself. Roman candle bursts of thrill. It’s not enough. No one’s surprised at what has happened.

Now, on the way past me to her own panels of wood. To her own waiter. Her own food. I don’t even think it’s weird. I heard she was here. Kinda here. Here and New Zealand. Here and New Zealand. New Zealand and here. Microfibers and the North Face.

Not here exactly, but a hundred miles close. Gust that breathes for you when it’s warm, chill that takes it away. Alana. Who? Alana! She.

That won’t stop. It’s good I can’t see. There’s orange grease on my fingers that I lick and leave. She can’t see.

Youth Lagoon - Montana

Old Town, Ft. Collins – June 24th

The rain split, but the lights are still distressed. Kinda lo-fi. Smudged. So many amateur photos of this.

It’s summer, so the populace is sparse. It’s like a painting awaiting people to be added to the scene. Still wet like a painting not yet dry.

Streaked rubber, dabbed tar, splattered oil. We cross the street. It’s nice it’s night.

On the corner, a man stops us. He says he wants to ask us a question. I prepare to explain the universe to him. He sprays us with cologne. I toss water with my shoe. I am bored. He is nice. He is hard to shake. We leave. Dominic and I leave. He was nice though. We had to say no. Why would we buy cologne on the street? He made references to clubs. We really couldn’t.

Along we walk. Snaking neon, fields of brick, hedged by eaves. Cagey stares from underneath awnings. The wet slips, yet remains.

Dom points to a place and says he knows all the waitresses there. No one cares. I ask him if he knew Kendall’s aunt owned that place. No one cares. We double back. The same looks. Mirror neon. New shadows. Back. Guys dressed like middle schoolers in entry ways. Skater clothes.

We cross the street again. Halfway through, I begin air high-fiving the walk light cautioning us. This place is just dripping.

We head east of College Ave. To the promenade. The town square. Shops mostly closed. Bars and restaurants mostly open. A few persons hung about on shelves of benches and ledges. Maybe it’s the water, but I walk to the beat of waves.

An imprisoned bar. A stoplight inside. A fog light of color. We pass, but in the swirl we hear our names. It is Brittney. Or Britni. I forget. A black ribbed tank top with the bar’s logo. I wonder if she ever wears it for fun. A belt of flesh. A black skirt. Do they even make long black skirts? A black apron that’s longer. She’s a year younger than us. From school.

4th grade recess when my friend asked if she had been dropped on her face as a baby. Then ran off crying to the teacher. In 8th grade and I was a freshman. I talked to her and her friends when they came to the football games. Junior year summer when we pretended over text to be closer than what we were. College when we didn’t talk for years. I hugged her when she graduated. It feels good to see her.

She had been outside talking to the bouncers. They sit on stools. They are in black too. She talks to us now.

Her tartan is stark blonde highlights over subtle shades of brunette, traces of purple. She talks much. She mentions a boyfriend occasionally. If I had to guess, I would say he has a large truck, but is emotionally unavailable. He is some night-club promoter. How is that even a job? There’s always a market for morons. I always found her attractive.

Her face seems worse, but her body is better. I feel like her laugh is now licensed for commercial use.

She says she does modeling too. A big smile. Shows us photos. Why does she have photos on her?

I tried to hide my reaction, but she caught me. I couldn’t whip my judgment of her behind my back quick enough. Casually hide it there. Slip it into my pocket. Before she ever noticed. She could tell though. I couldn't help it. It was quiet and late and they were sleeping, but the wood still creaked when I moved. It happened. I moved. It creaked. Like that.

I don't like seeing old friends anymore. When they see me they stare like a test question they hadn't studied for. I am glad to see Brittney or Brittany. Maybe it is Britni. I hope I don't make her feel like that. I hope I didn’t. Dominic sometimes siphons his personality from others. I feel bad. She seemed happy.

Snailouse – Living the Dream

Outlets, Silverthorne – July 10th

Oh magic fabric! You, imbedded with a thousand microscopic Hebrew slaves waving palm leaves on my skin. Bailing sweat off in buckets. Making Egyptian cotton seem like Kevlar. Making a regular 50/50 shirt seem to be a disadvantage. Even you appear to be a good idea in here. We’ll never work out for more than a month. But, still. For $12. And, wait…you were $30? As I lift you in my hand, you make so much sense. It’s too much!

That shiny thing though! I see you too. Savant water bottle. The thing is: I could carry you wherever I go. I’d barely notice you. Until I needed you. When my throat calls to you. What a marvel you are! Apparently I could run over you. I could press the tonnage of a car down on you and you’d hold strong. You wouldn’t even hold it against me. You’d forgive me and my car! You’d look past the incident. You’d still honor your contract. Continue to aid in nourishing me. You’re swell. You know that? Well, I don’t know though. I’m not really in the habit of running over water bottles. I’m really not. Still though. $4! You seem like such a good idea too! I need some air.

What is this place? Shouldn’t people be adjusting insurance claims in here? Calling people off of boy band microphone headsets. Why am I here? What are we doing here Sonja? When can we leave? How can we get out?

These lights. This place. Whitewash. I want to leave this whitewashed place. Fluorescent lights. Fluorescent retina.

The whitewash makes it seem like a dream. My memories all seem like dreams now. I no longer recall them in my body; only in my head. They are movies. Not memories. Whitewashed. High brightness, low contrast.

I can float back into them. Merge. Invade the background until I’m unnatural white too. And it’s like I was never there at all. My life a dream.

Who are these nice people, Makeala? Makeala and company. Makeala and her family. From the hamlet of Atlanta. Months verging on a year since Sonja and I have seen Makeala. Never since I’ve seen her family. Her Christmas card family. Her dressed in white and khaki on a beach with a wink of sand fence and scarf of sunset family. Whitewash.

A little brother. He annoys most and does much; thankfully keeps us adults from talking directly to each other often. A sister who looks both older and younger. Who acts both older and younger. I think she’s older.

A mom; pruney and water-logged. Permanently sunglassed. Perpetually exhausted. Sleeps on a Pumice Stone. A dad who wears Turtle necks. He spent too much on his glasses. I get the feeling he’s gone the majority of his life with a goatee. I do not respect him.

It was awful nice of them to let us come up though. I’m glad to be up here. In this lacquered world. Varnished. Sanded. Finished. Wilderness, right?

It’s nice to escape. To stay in a different room. To dream the lush foreign dreams of a new bed. To have experiences that’ll feel like dreams. That’ll fade into nothing. The whitewash.

I watch Makeala make her dad buy her things she doesn’t need and then it fades to white. I see Makeala’s sister roll her eyes and then it fades to white. I see Sonja become tired as only doing nothing can make you as it fades to white. I come out of the white to make a joke to her brother about the song playing in the store and then dive back in.

Makeala: your sister with the tulips pouring from her mouth. Pearls from her ears. Her face blurry with makeup. She tells your mother she’s bored, but she cc:’s everyone within ear’s reach.

These kids are not impressed. They are not impressed. They are the cliché kids of an early oughts PG comedy. They want to go back to the house to watch a movie. The house the company owns. That the company lets senior management use. In that house I had my choice of beds. I went with the one on the left. In a room of the digested West. Wampum. Moqui stripes. Sarapes. Bones. Bones animals vomited from their heads.

Makeala, remember our bike ride? You, me, Sonja. Just this morning. I couldn’t adjust the seat. I used the soles of my shoes as brakes. We got out and rode before we remembered how much we loved sitting on couches. I think of it.

Nice of them to let us come. I doubt Makeala’s parents remember my name. Why should they? Who are we? Who are we to demand to go to the Outlets? Who are we to demand to go watch a movie? Who are we to tag along? No q & a. No cue. No queue. It wasn’t my idea. None of it.

Who are we? We are dictators all of us. The light turns on when I tell it to. The information is there when I want it. I summon who I want to communicate with. I don’t wait. It happens when I want it. Patience is quaint. We are all dictators.

We don’t understand when things don’t go our way. We need attention, admiration. We are cold, uncaring. I am bigger than you see me. You are smaller than you see you. You are paranoid. You are too sensitive about yourself. You are a brick wall to anything pertaining to others. You are rigid. You are paranoid. You don’t know how any sane, good person could have a different opinion on abortion. You are a dictator.

You get mad at the car taking a second too long to start once it turns green, delaying your diplomatic envoy to McDonald’s. You get mad when they put on ketchup at McDonald’s. Don’t they know who you are? If you can change your Yahoo wallpaper to be whatever you want, then why would anyone think differently on the economic crisis?

You take 50 pictures of yourself. Find the one angle where you look how a famous person should. Where your asymmetrical face, long nose, small mouth, too close eyes, fumbling hair, look antonym. You pretend to be that person the rest of your life. In your mind you are that person. You plaster that picture like propaganda anywhere you can. You never have to look in a mirror again. You have that picture.

The distance between who I am and who I think I am grows. They are now two people and take off to two different lives. I feel the gulf. It lives in every sentence I say and thought in my mind. They'll meet occasionally throughout the rest of their lives. Like old friends. One time at Christmas. Once on a vacation. Another time after rereading a favorite book. A few times when they find a new hobby. When the current of truth that runs through everything aligns and the person I think I am climbs back inside the person I am. I miss it. I miss me. I miss you. Even if I don’t know you that well. I still miss the person you used to be.

Now in a rented minivan. GPS to the house. Sonya, Makeala, me in the middle. Talking amongst. We throw our conversation on the Roulette Wheel. Every once in awhile it lands on the first 12 and feels like old times. Other times. It’s whitewash.

Gauntlet Hair – Top Bunk

10th St, Boulder – July 29th

Kiddie pool in the front yard. Iced and flush with drinks. People on the lawn. On the porch. Inside. Out back. Everywhere really. And I among them. Inside.

Out of all the things to do. The things I could be doing. The things I’ve done. A view I climbed to see. Strumming a guitar. When I punched Daly. Running till air gnawed through my neck, lungs, and muscles. Nothing extends to every cell like talking to you, new friend.

You here now. You who I discover I like. Who I like talking to. Who I probably won’t be talking to in twenty. I’ll continue to like you for a day. For longer too. Maybe. You, girl. With your too many bracelets. With your loose, long tank top. Your waterfall hair.

I’ll project a life unto you. Times you’ve never had. I’ll assign a first boyfriend to you. Favorite bands. A quirky taste for Mexican sodas you can only find in gas stations. I’ll assume that you’d adore the things I have to say after we leave a show. Love the way I look with my hood up. Love the way you look with a hood on. That we’ll have a unifying love for public transportation. That your confidence in clichés will make up for me being too embarrassed to believe in them myself. Don’t worry yourself telling me. I’ll figure it out myself. You don’t mind, do you? Thanks. It really makes me happy. I’m actually doing it right now. Yes, that’s correct. All in an instant. All without words. All in one feeling.

This could go on for awhile, couldn’t it? But what exactly? Sidney, she says.

Then there’s you. Who currently resides in the corner of my eye. My older friend. My friend. You whom I came with, but am not talking to. I will be talking to you in twenty. You, for whom I hide an occasional disdain. For not being exactly what I want at some exact moment. For not leaving enough room for my imagination. For us knowing each other too well. Not well enough. Brooklyn, you are.

I am for the faint of heart.

Music comes from the upper corners of the room. Upstairs someone plays along to the beats on a drum kit. When they hit the cymbals and hi-hats it’s metallic rain.

I have been in this house before. Not this one. This house though. My friend Louis lived in a house like this. The Formica. The green. The linoleum. I spent the night there. His brothers and sisters thought I was so funny. He had a bunch. I did impersonations of Louis and mine’s friends.

He came and picked me up with his mom Teresa. He kept telling her to turn up the bass.

The bass took over for my heartbeat. It rolled through the room. A storm. Kick drum thunder. Snare drum lightning. It settles. It surrounds. Is in us.

It’s turned down. The drummer keeps playing. Though.

I’ve left Sidney and am back with Brooklyn. I came with her. She’s chill. I think she’s great. I think she’s terrific. That’s what I say when I'm fond of someone, but I can’t put my tongue on why exactly. I wish Sonja was with us. We both like her. She likes the both of us. She doesn’t live here right not. Not in this area code anymore.

This couch is swallowing me. And Brooklyn. The twine from the stitching comes up and ties us down. I don’t mind.

I’ve been in a stable string period the past couple weeks. I haven’t been questioning. Getting up in the morning makes sense. It’s nice. It’s starting to wear off though. Tonight it is.

I look around and the only color my eyes seize on is red. Red patches floating all over. My eyes tighten the image and I see they’re cups.

I see they’re in control. The cups. Cylindrical spaceships towing around their human cargo. Tugging them to the outer reaches of the galaxy. The cup is a brain. It has a human tail. A parasite that has taken a human host. Taken over. Consciousness has been outsourced to it.

The couch and the cups bother me now. I ask Brooklyn if she wants to go upstairs for some air. I smile at my sentence. She laughs. There’s no more drumming. Took no notice of it stopping.

I go every other and jiggle the rail. Brooklyn behind me. Some people in the hallway. They stare. Take the place of family photos.

I look for and find the room with the drums. It is empty of people. I sit on a lawn chair. Brooklyn bounces small and steady on a fitness ball.

Then I get up. Survey the room. I go to the mirror. Ticket stubs. To the Fox Theater. To the Rocky Mountain Showdown. There are pictures. Edged into the frame. Of my friend Jordan. This is his room. I don’t know who he shares it with. I’ve seen these photos before. On the internet. It’s weird to see them now. Folds, fingerprints. Creases, no captions. Google Art Project. Wikipedia. Then I saw them in real life. Uffizi. Louvre. Musée d'Orsay. The British. Prado.

It was green downstairs. Older, lime. It’s fresher in here. Vivid. Alive green. Not plant green. Electric green. Popsicle green. Electric popsicle green. It shoots through here. Crystalline shoots, striped across the room.

It’s the bunk bed. I love the bunk bed in here. I love bunk beds. I never had a bad night in a bunk bed. I never spent a night in a bunk bed with someone I didn’t trust. I slept on the floor in a sleeping bag next to Louis’ bed. I slept in a bunk bed at Trenton’s. It was metal and shook. This bunk bed. Golden wood. Benign right angles. I sit again. I marvel at the bunk bed. Brooklyn bounces away.

I’m glad Brooklyn is here. She’s a better friend to me than I am to her. I put my feet up on the bottom bunk. I lean back. I fall.

As I lay on my back with the light sliced by the ceiling fan to which streamers have been attached and the bunk bed as the bottom border of my vision, I have an existential reboot. The Apple start-up music. The Windows login music. I have no awareness of being alive before. I am not me. In a day when I understand time again, I’ll see this is the best thing that’s happened in awhile.

Then Brooklyn is over me. She’s not laughing, she just smiles. Her hair drops down, whispers and sweeps my skin. We’re in a cave of faces. I imagine she’s on the top bunk, looking down at me on the bottom. Right before we go to sleep. A cave of our faces.

Indian Rebound - Sitges

The Fillmore Auditorium, Denver – August 9th

Chandeliers always put me in a good mood. Never too good of a mood. Just right. The same way walking over a wooden bridge does.

We were raised in the smell of hairspray. And between shoulder pads. Jackets with them. Disciplined under them, wrapped in mesh. They tricked us into reading. Made it into some Pavlovian experiment. We got pizza out of it though. And now we are here. Standing. Aching. I twist in my tube of personal space. My barrel of 88% social nicety. Stretch, rotate, release. As many micro-movements as I can fit. In. We are under chandeliers. It’s usually a good sign if you’re under a chandelier. Good decisions lead to chandeliers.

We stand like tall grass. And when we like what we hear, it's like wind moving through us. The opener made me move like airplane turbulence. Now we’re rustling you could say. Being raked like leaves.

Ceiling of clouds, roof of sweat. In it. We were all so annoying before we turned 20. Right before. How we secretly thought we'd never be as cool once we were no longer teenagers. The realization that we’d never be considered prodigies. The fear that nothing would ever come naturally. That we hadn’t been discovered. That it’d all get harder. What's the ratio of minutes worked to minutes enjoyed? How many minutes must I suffer for every minute of perfection? I don't remember my last perfect minute. I have had some though. Two Fridays ago I guess.

It’s bad though. Here. When I look around. I don’t mind the flat bills. They don’t ask to be taken seriously. At least not in the same way. But the fedoras, military caps, newsie hats. Why are you here? Why are you on? Fedoras. Shouldn’t you be at home recording acoustic covers for YouTube? And military caps. Go back to your coffee shop. Go edit your digital nature photos. Go have an adventure for me. Go feel something for me. Then report back. Preferably by blog. Make it easier for me and link back to it on Twitter. But first you must guilt me into following you, by following me. Hurry though! You only have a month before I unfollow you without you realizing it. In your mind I will always be following you. And newsie caps. Continue thinking people like you more than they do. They don’t. Everyone's a little disappointed when that guy shows up. Subtly self-conscious about wearing his new cap.

We are colloquial, we are quaint, we are provincial. Not!

I don’t get it. It’s more relatable to say I hate reading. No one gets it when I say “no thanks!” They talk about their best days. Doing nothing. Having to do nothing. Sitting on the couch. I have the evidence if you don’t believe me. That half has preprocessed experiences, the other half have fake ones. Flat bills and fedoras. Very few experience. You can tell them though. They're the ones not telling everyone else.

I don’t get these people. They say they love natural beauty. Colorado. Why are there so many tattoos on them? More per square inch of skin than anywhere else. Denver.

Has the music hit our bloodstream yet?

We shower in news clippings. Personal and professional. And so we don’t know anything. Really. I only speak rumors. Not from knowledge, understanding. Just things I’ve heard. Friends of friends. News Sources. Secondhand at best. Rumors. Does anyone know what they're talking about? News. Knowledge.

Those chandeliers though. Later, if bored I shall use you to imagine myself at a ball. One where there are prescribed dances that have already been planned out for me. My sentiments outweigh my vision and so I am trapped. All for socio goals.

That’s the thing though. I was tricked. We were bamboozled. They duped us. They said there were no limits. Unlimited options. Not true. They are just better hidden.

They said I could dance however I wanted. It could flow through me. I can’t though. I can’t move in every way. Not even as well as him. Or her. I can only do so much. I wish I only had to dance how they told me. That way, I could focus on making eye contact with a lady love. That way, I wouldn’t have to think about if that accidental brush was intentional. I want to do the dances that have already been figured out for me. The ones that make me less of an animal. The ones whose lines help me to see the lines that make up me. Distinguish. Distinct.

These limits are there. My dad couldn’t get me a car nor your internship. They’re just better hidden. It just makes it that much more confusing when one confronts them. They said they weren’t there. Some buried electric fence they hoped you’d never test the boundaries of.

We all say the same lies. A few fortunate souls have destiny’s luck that prove them true. They’re not. They got lucky. With so many combinations someone was bound to get lucky. Now they seem larger than life. Passion is the lottery. Talent is pedestrian.

They made so many plans for us. Then gave us too many options. I know it’s my fault. I know. Where to start though? Anyone know? Options...

Satellite Stories – Helsinki Art Scene

Here’s the thing though: everyday feels like a dress up party. What are these costumes? What is this ’49 haircut I have? This 80s print on my shirt? The 60s cut of my shorts. The same shoes I wore as a kid in the 90s. Now on my same feet. Only bigger, the both of us. Huh? What did you say? Come again. Sorry, I still didn’t catch that. Whatever.

Costume party. Us. You. From who did you steal that mustache? It is not yours. It’s New York’s. Oh? You heart NY. I see. That’s cool. Well, what of your shirt though? Your tank top is from California. Striped planks from the boardwalk of the Santa Monica sunset. Cali. Yes. Them. Those shoes. They are of the Algonquin’s deer in Mass. A 1/16th Cherokee? Who cares? What difference does that make? And your cut-offs from the homeless of Wichita. I’ve been there. I’ve seen them. Have too. Your homage to them is charming. Libyan rebels dress like you too. Take a look. See for yourselves. And you sir! Why a backpack? That requires an explanation! It must. Your apartment is a museum. I bet. A real collection of treasures from indiscriminate middle-class humans of the past century. Especially pack rats. Especially ones with mothers who were good housekeepers. Good stewards. I’m sure all of your apartments are. Either that or plastic.

We aren't people. We want to be plastic. We don’t want DNA. We want to choose a mold to be poured in. We aren’t people. We are create your own players. We are a higher vitality and a lessened morality. We were 10 pts for a beard. 50 for muscles. I can switch my outfit. I can switch my vehicle. We were so close to turbo. We are limited. I am an a la-carte. I am not real. Someday though, we could be.

Until then. I need you. And you and you. I need them. You guys too. Y'all. Vosotros. Us I guess. I need those coins and tokens you put out. Place them and I will follow. I will seek. I will jump, overcome obstacles for them. Battle bits for the bits. They're more horse bits, aren't they? Decimals of confirmation that add up. Decibels of corroboration. Quicker than you think.

You can even choose your own problems. It’s made up. When someone tells me they have self-destructive tendencies, all I hear is that they’re taking a shortcut to significance. The lazy way out. When there’s blood you must matter. When your stomach’s pumped you must matter. When your friend is making sure you get home safe you must matter. Lazy. Made up.

There, there. It's ok. I know how you feel. I feel the same. I do. The exact same. I feel just as stupid. Our subconsciouses agree. When the door is heavier than I expect, when the doctor's form is impossibly hard to fill out. When I sneeze and no one says "bless you." When I sneeze and three people say "bless you." When I actually meant to type "too." When I realize that you feel the same. When I see that you think you're just as special. Just as destined.

But that's what makes it ok. It's what makes it significant. Justifies. Our own newspapers. That's why we follow, like, add. The more; the less it can be true. And with each crumb it is validated. It hides "have a nice day," "good, how are you?" It hides when water goes down the wrong pipe. No more squeaky leather. The currency does drown us though. The currents are too much. It's exposing us! Why isn't everyone else embarrassed?

We are trading cards. If maybe someone would put me in their spokes. I’d have significance. A use. The famous have it best. Even their gum sells for hundreds...

I promise you I feel the same though. If you'd just believe me, we could stop. I feel the exact exact same. Seriously. Seriously. Seriously. The same. Admit it. Let’s admit it and leave.
continue reading...

Friday, July 8, 2011


Frequency - unouomedude

I was lost & confused so I thought about organizing my life on paper. I thought if I could nail some corner of it down, get a toe-hold on a part of it, just get my head above water; it’d help. I wanted it on paper.

I thought about formatting my social circles to a flight map that shows where each airline is based in & flies to & from.

I ended up getting frozen yogurt with Kaley. She’s my Elaine. When I met up with her, I saw she had brought Will; the Joey to her Rachel. I wasn’t sure who he was to me. I only kinda knew him. Kaley thought we’d be good friends so she decided to force it. Sometimes I was scared I was Ross not Jerry to her.

I had fruity pebbles, cookie dough, & gummi worms in my frozen yogurt. Will had Oreos & caramel. Kaley had strawberries & three orange Tic-Tacs Will snuck into her cup when she went to the bathroom. We laughed. I laughed. I thought about making Will my Joey & being Chandler. Or maybe Kelso to my Eric.

Kaley bit into the first Tic-Tac, startled. She spit the second into Will’s cup. The third she sucked down till it was white; then till it was no longer a solid. It was fun. We had fun.

As we were leaving, we ran into Tara. Tara was my LC. I was Stephen. I usually felt guilty when I saw her. We had some awesome times together. The last time we spoke was bad. We were pleasant. She was nice. She looked nice. It made me want to call her again. I posted on her wall about it being good to see her. I also included an old inside joke about dieting. We’ll see.

Tara is Karen to Kaley’s Pam. They were pleasant. Each was nice. Tara met Will. I wonder if she thought of him as a possible Barney. I hoped not.

I climbed into the backseat of Kaley’s Cherokee. We drove around dancing in the car. We were just kidding around. It was fun at the time. Maybe you had to be there though.

I thought about using the template of a TV schedule & tracking myself via channels of id, ego, & superego.

In the late morning I went to the gym with Maren. We’d been hanging out a good amount lately. I could see us dating as some point. It mostly depended on how well we texted.

I didn’t worry about us working or lasting. She was my Izzie.

Every once in a while I would look at her & smile. She would smile back, then look down bashfully, then look at me again; smile. It was fun. We enjoyed it. She used the stairs, treadmill, & elliptical.

After, we ate sandwiches at the place in the gym. We saw Choi. He had been swimming laps. He was from China. He came to America to study. I liked Choi. He joined us. Choi was our Fez.

We stayed awhile talking, then left. Maren & I made plans to ride bikes Thursday. Bikes.

I showered & met Sierra at the mall. I was the Will to her Grace. Or maybe I was her Jack. I don’t know. I’ve only seen ads for it.

It was just because I was the only guy she knew who liked to shop. I was also the only person in the world she liked to shop with.

She invited me to a party at her house that night. I already had plans with Ethan & Desean. I told her I might drop by. I told her we might drop by.

Ethan, Desean, & I went to Sonic. We play this game where we randomly pick drink & syrup combos to try. Ethan was my George. Desean was our Turk. Neither of us was really JD to him though. I guess if I’m honest, he’s more my Charlie Young.

We left & drove towards downtown. When we only had ice left in our cups, we threw them.

I threw mine at a yield sign. Ethan threw his at the trailer of a semi. Desean threw his up at a stoplight. We all missed though. We all laughed though.

We met up with Seimonne & some of her friends. Desean & Seimonne had a Theo-Justine thing. We ate dinner at this place called Salt. Our waitress wasn’t hot. I’m always kinda disappointed if the waitress isn’t attractive.

I flirted with a Keisha. I hoped she might be an Uhura to me. George flirted with a Noelle. I think he saw her as an Angela to his Sean. Maybe.

We were enjoying ourselves so we all decided to go chill in the restaurant bar for a bit. I got this weird white chocolate cake for dessert. I kept talking to Keisha. She was very attractive. She prefaced many of her phrases by saying real talk. I texted Kaley & Maren. The rest of the night pretty much passed in the same manner.

Everyone Gets A Star - Albert Hammond, Jr.

When I woke up I thought about mapping my wants, needs, & priorities to a Monopoly board. Instead I closed my eyes. An hour & a half later I thought the same thing. Only clearer. Then I thought about making a periodic table of my emotions.

Rather than that, I met up with Elise for lunch. We were like Rory & Jess. It was annoying I know. It made me feel uncomfortable.

Clippings stuck in your collar after a haircut. The time I was in a suit at my sister’s outdoor graduation. A sweater that’s scratchy like voices on a walkie-talkie. Clothes I want off.

I kinda had to see her because she was only in town for a couple days. I had to I guess.

I got Kaley & Ethan to come. She brought her boyfriend. I saw them as Hilary-Trevor. It was awkward. It went as well as it probably could have possibly gone. We told stories from middle school dances. We took a group picture. Elise had her hand on her hip.

Later that afternoon I saw she tweeted about having lunched with me. Lunched.

I was at the park when I saw that. Ethan, Kaley, & I went there. Kaley called Will to come. She made me talk because she thought it’d be fun. I talked because I’d pretty much do anything a girl told me to. It was fun though.

Will showed up with a remote controlled car. We took it all over the park. Down the slides & such too. It ended up breaking. That car kinda made my day.

We take ourselves way too seriously. For real.

continue reading...

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Spun the Bottle

Walking on a Dream – Empire of the Sun

Tucked discreetly behind Wallace’s Auto Parts like cigarettes holed up in a middle schooler’s coat was The Factory. An establishment of such regal bearing could only mean something to youths. And it did, as a hub of what places geared towards 18-24 demographics should supposedly be centers of. In a college-town with a sub 50,000 population, that had no suburban loyalty to any metropolitan area, The Factory pretty much had a monopoly on all such spokes and hubs; which mostly meant live music (since that’s always a good place to start with young folks). It was (pretty) popular. It was (kinda) the place to be. It was successful without being a success. Plus, it was quote unquote student-owned so obviously awesome things happened therein. I didn’t mind The Factory. I didn’t like The Factory. At best I found it to be mildly stimulating and at worst it was vaguely embarrassing. Anyways, all of that is to say…

“Hey. Do you want to go to the Battle of the Bands tonight at The Factory?” Luke asked me. We were in his dorm room. I had planned to sleep that afternoon into evening, but had somehow ended up there for a couple hours.

“The Factory’s gay,” I said because as a heterosexual young man everything’s obviously gay. I always felt like an idiot saying the name of the place.

“You go there more than anyone else I know.” He was right. I did. Not cause I liked it. I felt I had to for some reason.

“Good point.”

“So is that a yes or no?”

“That’s a we’re in college, so we don’t have to plan hours in advance.” The concert actually started in like fifteen minutes. I can be such a jerk sometimes.

“Shut up.”

“Seriously, we’re college kids. We’re supposed to be crazy and spontaneous,” I announced. “Actually why don’t we go spray paint “Ram Pride” on Dr. Tock’s house. That could be fun.”

“No. Don’t be stupid.” He hates it when I get like this.

“Welp, I’m done talking for the evening.”

There was a tennis ball on the floor by Luke’s feet. I asked him to toss it to me and he did. This would prove to be a bad move on his part.

I decided I should throw the ball at Luke’s head on the other side of the room and see how hard and close I could throw it without hitting his head. I was curious to see when this experiment would reach its asymptote…

Forty or so minutes later we were being driven to the aforementioned concert venue by our idiot friend Drew. Don’t worry; I’d call him an idiot to his face too. I wouldn’t feel bad about it either. As long as you’re willing to say something to someone’s face and they’re willing to still talk to you after, then I don’t consider something rude, inappropriate, offensive, et cetera. That’s just my thinking though.

So like I was saying, Drew was kinda an idiot. He’d seriously do whatever you asked him to. He wouldn’t do it because he wanted you to like him or anything like that. He was just too stupid to think of any of the many reasons why he shouldn’t do whatever you wanted of him.

After I had hit Luke four times with the tennis ball, wrestled it back three times, and apologized twice, we decided to go to The Factory. We then decided to find someone to take us because neither of us felt like driving. I was pretty sure that someone would end up being Drew, or someone who acted exactly like Drew, or who looked like they’d be named Drew.

Under the pretense of a question mark, I commanded him to take us.

The building the Factory was housed in took the word ordinary to a new average, the word nondescript to a new blend, the word boring to a new lull. And as if it mattered, the place was painted white. The students who were pseudo owners of The Factory were probably still weeks away from realizing how cool it’d be to ask some art major to design a sign to hang on the outside; months away from realizing the awesome irony in leaving the rainbow Christmas lights up year round. It was probably better left unadorned anyways.

As Drew’s truck churned over the gravel expanse leading up to the factory that served as both road and parking lot, it suddenly seemed like a great idea to act like we were pulling up to some hot spot in some big city where people with cameras cared about people who got out of cars.

“Hey Jew, stop up front and let us out,” I said to Drew, unnecessarily slapping the side of his head to make sure he knew who I was referring to when I said “Jew.” I was excited to watch Drew, who had assumed that he was going to enter the establishment with us and proceed to stay within five feet of Luke and me for the remainder of the night, try and locate us in the crowd. The smoke and flashing lights were going to make his mad dash to find us priceless.

There was an open glass door among some fogged up glass windows that covered the only outer wall that anyone ever looked at. Around the outside, scattered pods of people were talking. I rolled down the window just enough for my forearm to fit through and began waving a little. I “asked” Drew to honk a few times too.

Luke rolled his eyes when I inquired about his willingness to get out first to open my door for me. He did it though. I knew he would.

When I got out, I stared at and specifically waved, and I think even pointed, at a couple groups of very confused people. I knew I didn’t know them, but I can guarantee you they spent part of the night trying to figure out who I was and how I knew them. I hope at least one of them lost sleep over it. That might seem stupid, but it made it totally worth it to me.

Here Comes Tomorrow - Niteflights

As I was walking I saw a cluster of girls that I did in fact know 33% of. They were really popular and attractive so naturally I headed over to them.

“Hey there!” I said gaily.

“Hey!” I swear she had never been so happy to see me; the music probably worked her up. The she/her was Jenni Metcalf, resident close-to-perfect girl on campus. She broke away from the other girls and met me as I walked.

I knew her through her boyfriend, Cale Stanley, who was a friend of a friend and was now more or less my friend. He was the best white guy on the football team, and thus the most popular player on the football team. The two of them were, of course, a big deal. Little did everyone know, but once he stopped catching pieces of air trapped in cowhide, she’d finally see the creepy way he smelled his fingers when he was deep in thought and once she dropped down from an anti-bacterial hotness rating of 9.999 to a nice round 9, he’d discover all the weird insecurities her mom planted in her when she made little 5th-grade Jenni put on make-up a year before the rest of her friends. They really were a great couple though. And since when does the football player get the hot girlfriend? But seriously I was so happy to know cliché movie-type stuff like that actually happened.

She wrapped me up for a hug, not a big deal. Jenni Metcalf just gave me a hug, but whatev.

“Are you guys just getting here?” and by ‘you guys’ I mean you Jenni Metcalf, and only you. As if there could ever be anyone else.

“No, we’re actually just heading out.” That’s about right.

“Oh I see, so you came and then you saw me show up and suddenly decided to leave,” I joked.

“Oh that’s not what I happened,” she playfully slapped me in the arm. Jenni Metcalf just playfully slapped me in the arm, but whatev, no biggie.

“It’s fine, I totally understand.” She laughed, so I kept going. “I know how it is; big campus celebrity Jenni Metcalf is too cool for the skinny freshman. I get it.”

She laughed some more, and then stated,“No, but seriously it’s way hot in there.” She nodded towards the building without moving her head. I looked up at it. It was like a huge hyperventilating chest with its windows slightly bulging and pumping to the beat. It suddenly looked kinda ominous. Yikes. It was weirding me out right then. Strange. Anyways, those girls were the types to go somewhere for like 15 minutes, get bored or hot or something, and then jet.

“Are you just saying that cause you were in there? So campus it-girl Jenni Metcalf shows up and the temperature magically rises a couple degrees. That’s pretty self involved.” Another round of non-annoying, melodic laughter ensued, broken up by a couple of her out-of-breath mock denials. Then the other 16.7% I knew came over from that group.

“Oh you!” said Cari as she joined us like she knew exactly what we were talking about and that I was of course up to my old antics.

“Yo Cari!” I called back in a voice that I assumed was how high schoolers in Grease-era America greeted each other.

I think I had hung out with her like three times, but her brother was rushing with me; so Cari and I were, of course, extremely close.

“What are you up to?” She asked. Seriously? Are you really asking me that? I’ll give you three guesses. Hint: look at the building I’m standing in front of.

“Umm, I thought I’d just come here and see if anyone interesting was standing outside.”

That got a laugh. If people thought my sarcasm was mean-spirited I don’t think I could ever say anything again. But they would’ve laughed at anything. They had that natural Friday night buzz.

“You guys should probably get going before the paparazzi figure out that you’ve left the concert.” Girls like that are always impressed if you’re the one who initiates the break in the conversation. Their other girlfriends were getting antsy anyways.

“Yeah, you’re probably right,” Jenni replied; smiling I might add.

“Alright, see yas,” Cari said between sputtering laughs.

“Yeah, see ya,” Jenni understated with that split second linger before she turned to leave. I could’ve been imagining it, but I’m arrogant enough to think that she did. I wouldn’t be surprised if she actually had because I was not trying to pull anything. I was just conversing with her. Jenni had been hit on and/or stuttered at for so long, I knew she just liked to talk to me. I wasn’t hitting on her, I was just being nice. It’s the truth.

Nothing's Wrong - Cloud Nothings

I forgot about Luke. He wasn’t with me and I couldn’t see where he was. As I turned away from the girls I felt the sudden urge to talk to someone, and I slapped the back of a nearby Cade Mutton and asked,

“Hey how much is it to get in?” I really didn’t care what the answer was, and thus didn’t listen to his reply. Plus he’s one of the biggest faggots on campus. We’ve never met, but we knew who each other was cause his girlfriend aided in a class of mine. We’d shared a couple awkward ‘aren’t you going to introduce us moments’ before, so I figured what the heck?

“Alright thanks bud,” I gave his back another slap. Oh, and he was pear shaped. Just so you know. Like really pear-shaped. I can only imagine what his pant buying experience was like. From the waist down he looked like a 45 year-old mother of 6.

I glanced around and saw Luke talking with some guy who probably went on to nothing and whose high point in life was that conversation he had with Luke Metz on the night of Battle of the Bands, you remember that one? Drew was with Luke. My night was ruined.

We spent like five minutes arguing with the girl in the box office. She wouldn’t believe me when I told her I was covering the event for the school paper. Even if you don’t believe it, you still let me in for free because I made your night slightly less boring. I started to haggle with her a bit after that. I told her my roommate worked for the university parking patrol and that I’d get her next parking ticket torn up. She didn’t buy it so I had to buy a ticket.

$7 to breathe sweaty air and hear demo-quality live music seems a bit pricey to me, but in all honesty I was glad to be there. If you were from like Boulder or Austin, you’d probably kinda snicker at this place; think of it as a tad humiliating. Laughable, that’s the word.

You’d say that you hung out in cooler places and heard better music in high school. You may even be right. Sometimes I thought I liked it more because it was kinda lame. It annoyed me, but I wondered if it wouldn’t annoy me more if it were actually the authentically hip place frequented by authentically hip patrons that it was trying so hard to be.

When we first got in, the noise and staccato lights made it hard to place yourself or others. Once my eyes got semi-used to it I looked for a spot for us to stand. I grabbed Drew and shouted in his ear. “I need you to be the fullback. Get us up there.” I pointed towards the front row. Drew scratched his bearded check and gave me a thumbs up.

Luke and I followed in Drew’s wake as his stocky body pushed through the crowd. It was pretty easy to get to the front row. When people have no real loyalty for a band they’re much more gracious about you taking their place.

The next song started and it was so boring that I spent most of it looking around for people I knew. I could only see like three people deep in any direction so I unsurprisingly didn’t find anyone and was forced to listen to the rest of it. The band was called “Lease to Own” if that tells you anything.

For the following number, the singer put down his guitar and picked up a tambourine. It was an upbeat little tune, and since I was in the front row, right against the stage, I extended my arm up towards him. He indulged me by using my hand to hit the tambourine a few times. That was fun.

Houdini – Foster the People

In fact, it was so much fun that I decided to have some more fun. I climbed on Drew’s shoulders, which he was totally up for, and watched the show from there. I see people at music festivals do it all the time and I’ve always thought it looked like fun; at least for the person on top. They’re usually girls though.

Drew rose up and I hung unto his head like the horn of a saddle. When he was fully standing, I saw that I was staring the lead singer right in the face. Like right in the face. It was kinda awkward at first so I decided to start bobbing my head rooster-like to try and break the ice. He looked pretty confused and tried to peer around me, but every way he looked I leaned with and broke into his eye line again; just for kicks. This continued for a bit until I started miming like I was playing defense on him in a basketball game. He kept trying to get around me, but I continued playing very fundamental defense and prevented it.

Finally, he got pretty mad and just shoved me. Those guys in bands always decide to get tough on stage; or really pretty much anywhere where they’re not going to actually have to confront someone face to face. For real. Those guys get a microphone and a couple hundred people with nothing better to do in front of them, or just a cigarette in their mouth, and they suddenly get that confidence they never had while they were off listening to pop-punk and playing WOW alone in their rooms in high school. Fags.

I was too surprised to be scared as I fell back into the crowd. It ended up working out nicely because everyone caught me and just started crowd-surfing me. Unfortunately, I ended being dropped off stage left way in the back.

I now had a personal vendetta against Mr. Lease to Own. If he wouldn’t have annoyed me so much, I probably would’ve just left; or at least politely watched the remainder of the show. I couldn’t let him shoving me go, especially since I had single-handedly made their set like 10 times more exciting.

I texted Drew to come meet me in the back corner. He came and I immediately asked him to fullback me to the front again.

Once we got back up with Luke, I began yelling up to the singer. I kept asking if he remembered me. I told him to take his emo crap back to 2005 where it belonged. I asked him if I could get financing to lease to own one of their albums. Then I started yelling out random numbers to try and distract him. It works when someone’s counting so I figured it was worth a shot. Next, I began trying to guess his lyrics before he sang them. Most of what I yelled up to him ended up being about a homosexual lead singer or crying alone in your room. All the acknowledgment I got from that was a few angry glances. This did not sate me so I reached unto the stage and starting untying his shoes. He started kicking at me, but only a little so he failed to foil my efforts. I waited for the next song to start and then began tying his shoe laces together. He kicked even more, but didn’t stop playing so it was pretty easy to accomplish. That guy was such a seasoned performer nothing would’ve stopped him. He was so focused, so into his music, so passionate; such a true artist.

After that, I just turned around and faced the audience. I lounged against the stage and started playing around with my phone. As I was doing that I got a text. It was from Cari.

hey. we r havin a little house-warming party at our new place. you should come :)

Needless to say, we split quick. I basically dragged Luke and Drew out of there before explaining. I even forgot about my feud with Lease to Own Guy. He was such a queer.

On the way over to the girls’ place we made fun of that band the whole time. They were the lamest. Usually my time at The Factory passes much more civilly. Usually.

The girls’ house was on a corner. There wasn’t much to distinguish it besides that.

Psychic City (Voodoo City) – YACHT

As we walked up to the door I suddenly panicked because I didn’t know whether I should knock or just walk in. It seemed like a really important decision. It really worried me. I knocked.

The door was opened by a way pretty girl with dark hair. I hadn’t ever seen her before. She smiled and said, “Hey!”

“Do Jenni and Cari live here?” I asked.

“Oh yeah yeah.”

I laughed pleasantly, though insincerely, but not impolitely and said, “K, just checking. I didn’t want to be barging in on some random place.”

“Nope. You’ve come to the right spot.” She was really something.

“I don’t think we’ve ever met before. What’s your name?”

“Yeah, I don’t think so. It’s Rachel. Wait. You were talking to Cari and Jenni tonight outside the Battle of the Bands, right?”

“Yup, that was me. Good memory. Oh, and this little dynamic duo behind me is Luke and Drew.” I didn’t let them talk.

“Well, it’s nice to meet y’all!”

“So Rachel. Tell me. Are you getting the vibe that we’re totally going to be like BFF now? Cause I definitely am.”

“Oh yeah! Totally! I’m so glad you picked up on that too. I thought it was just me.”

“No no, I felt it. So like what’re you thinking? I mean, The Bachelor every week obviously, but how about we get in a Spin class together too.”

“Oh, for sure. And also: mani’s, pedi’s, tanning; the works.”

“Fantastic. This is going good places.”

“How is ever going to go good places if you never actually come inside?”

“Yeah, seriously. Why are you keeping us out in the cold? What kind of hostess are you?”

“Get in here then!”

She led us inside and I looked around. It looked like the party had been going on for a bit. We were in a big open room with fluffy looking red furniture. A pretty good amount of people too.

“Oh! You guys have to come here first,” Rachel said.

I noticed she walked with a weird hitch, limp thing. Her right leg didn’t seem to be bending all that much. She was very attractive though. The more you looked at her face, the more beautiful it became. And somehow the limp made her more attractive too. I don’t know.

She took us to a small dining room off the kitchen. One of the walls was completely covered with signatures.

“You guys have to sign the wall.”

“Wow. I’m honored,” I said.

“This isn’t just from tonight?” Drew asked.

“Oh no no,” Rachel answered.

Drew laughed hard. “K, I was wondering.”

“Yeah, Whitney’s brother and his friends lived her before us and started it. So this is like two year’s worth of visitors.”

“Whitney…Foster?” I asked.

“Yup. She’s lives here too.”

“Oh, cool cool. You guys have quite the crew living here.”

“I know! I’m so excited.”

She took us to the kitchen after we had each endorsed the place. They had made a bunch of desserts and stuff. Cari walked in.

“Hey there!” she said. She was very excited. I don’t think there was ever a point in her life where she wasn’t some form of excited.

“Cari! What’s going on?”

Rachel went back to the main room and so we just hung in the kitchen for a few with Cari. Cari already knew Luke through her little brother, but met Drew for the first time. We left when Cari told us about some YouTube video we had to see.

Us guys went with Cari to her and Whitney’s room. They had about a million candles burning in that house. Their room was no different. It smelled good, but almost too good.

On the walls were a bunch of pictures with the girls all over the place: a street in New York, inside the Coliseum, Eiffel Tower, on Santa Monica Beach, in a field somewhere. I started thinking about what they hated about each other; what their pet peeves were and what annoyed them with one another.

Cari was still going on and on about the video. The more she talked, the more I lowered my expectations. Her laptop was on a white desk right next to her bed. She sat on the chair that paired with the desk. Drew and Luke sat and slightly bounced on her bed. I stood behind her. Once the video came up she of course started it too early and so we had to take like three buffering breaks for a three minute video.

We finally just restarted it from the beginning. Some adolescent girl was lip-synching to some song I'd never heard before. When she kept doing the same dance move over and over again to start the video, I started laughing despite myself. I only laughed when she struck up that first dance move again; which the girl did for each chorus. Cari was doing all the dance moves too as she laughed her head off. I looked and saw that Drew was too.

“Yeah Drew!” Cari egged him on.

One thing lead to another and we ended up watching every video that girl ever made. They got progressively less funny to everyone except Cari. Even Drew was getting bored with them. I started doing my own thing and examining the room. I read all the quotes she had written on a mirror with dry erase markers. I didn't like any of them.

Then my attention went back to the pics of Cari and her housemates. The pictures were in frames that said things like best friends and memories. Even if I felt secure enough in my sexuality to put up pictures like that, I don't know who I'd put in there with me. I have lots of friends, but there's something almost matrimonial about the way these girls were best friends. There's this weird absolute confidence about all of them. People make girls out to be pretty catty, but from what I've seen there's just a few insane drama queens mixed in with girls who have these friends they’re like glue with. I still can’t imagine what random petty things they probably found annoying about one another. But there had to be some, right?

I don't really know how to explain it. I just know I don't have it. These girls can do anything with each other and love it. They can watch YouTube videos and copy the dances and have the time of their lives with it. They can go to a restaurant and take a million group pictures by a fountain afterwards and think it’s the tops. I don't get that. I don't understand how that works. Like with my friends, I don't really know if I have best ones. I could probably come up with them if I thought about it, but I don’t want to. I don't think there's one of them with whom I'd actually care to share things I really think about. Sharing that type of stuff sounds exhausting. And if any of them ever wanted to dance along with a video, I'd just start insulting them. It seems like it'd be nice sometimes, but even after I think about it, I'm not sure I want that.

I saw a Cosmo magazine lying close by and started peeking through there as Luke, Drew, and Cari took turns showing each other funny videos. I thought about leaving and going to see what else was going on. It seemed rude, so I couldn't bring myself to do it. Something had to be done though.

"Hey," I said. "I'm reading about the most incredible thing. You guys have to check this out."

"What is it?" said Cari.

"Apparently they've developed a way to spoon without cutting off circulation in any of your extremities. Huh huh? How about that?"

"Really?" she sounded genuinely intrigued.

"Oh yeah. My life will never be the same."

Cari made a weird little squealing noise. My friends just sat there and stared.

"Luke and Drew don't seem to be as excited about this as us, Cari." Luke just shook his head at me after I said that.

"I know! Come on guys this is a big deal!"

"Maybe if they demonstrated to us this ground-breaking technique they would come to appreciate it."

"I think that's a marvelous idea!" She made that squealing noise again and laughed.

"Uh..." Drew said.

"That's not happening," Luke added.

"Are you serious? Not even for Cari? That's so rude guys. I'm disappointed in both of you. Go wait outside in the car."

"I don't care what you say, that's not going to happen."

"Well then, would Miss Cari indulge me by partnering with yours truly in a demonstration?"

"I would love to." She climbed off of the bed where she had ended up and joined me on the floor. I winked my right eye at the guys and Luke rolled both of his at me. Cari wasn't as much of a knockout as her housemates, but she was still pretty good looking. She was a little bigger, but not fat or anything. She probably would be someday though.

Rubbish Zoo - More Ink Than An Octopus

She laid out and I moved in right next to her and in between glances at the magazine I grabbed her arms and rotated her torso till she was in place and then I pressed myself right up against her; definitely closer than what was necessary.

"You guys see how magical this is now? I bet you're both regretting not trying it out. There's some floor space over there if you still want to give it a whirl."

"We're good," Luke answered.

"How's that feel Cari?"

"This is real real nice. How does it feel for you?"

"I wish I could stay here forever. Are all your limbs still awake? Blood still going round-trip?"

"Oh yeah. This is fantastic. Blood still circulating for you?"

I looked straight at Luke and said, "Oh. It's flowing."

He started shaking his head and laughing, "Oh my word." Luke was always saying geriatric phrases like that. I half closed my eyes and opened my mouth like I was in ecstasy. Then I started flicking my tongue like I was going to lick her. They both laughed and Luke covered his face. Cari hadn't picked up on what I had said and couldn't see me so she sincerely asked Luke, "What?"

Before Luke could answer, I chimed in, "Hey, so tell me about Rachel. I've never met her before."

"Whoa! Does someone have a crush on Rachel? Hmm?"

"Who said anything about crushes? That was an innocent question inquiring about my new friend Rachel."

"You know asking about a girl when you're currently spooning with another is bad form. I'm a little hurt...and jealous."

"I'll make it up to you. I promise." I gave her hip a little squeeze after I said that. It was a goofy thing to do, but still fun. I wondered what she was thinking when I did that. I kinda regretted it ten seconds after I did it.

"Well it's not like I blame you. She is so beautiful. So so beautiful. She actually used to be a model."

"Used to be? She's still hot," said Drew with his most intelligent comment of the night.

"Well she did a ton of the whole runway thing. You know because she's real tall and skinny so she's like perfect for it. And also, when I say modeling I mean like real stuff, not like local department store stuff. Like big stuff. Anyways, she got in a car accident like two years ago and it was very serious. She recovered and everything, but her hip got real messed up. You probably noticed she walks with a limp. So obviously she can't do runway stuff. She did some print stuff after, but she's gotten kinda whatever with it all. It's a little bit of a sensitive subject actually. She really doesn't like people knowing."

"Wow," is all I could think to say.

"So why doesn't she want people to know?" Luke asked.

"I'm not sure. I know if I were a model at all I'd want everyone to know," she said and laughed.

"And what is going on in here? Am I interrupting?" It was Jenni. She was standing in the doorway; like an angel I might add.

"Hey Jenni!" I said brightly as I looked at her upside down figure.

"Hi Jenni, I'm Drew," said Drew, slightly out of nowhere.

"It's nice to meet you Drew."

"And I'm Luke."

"Nice to meet you too! I’m glad you guys could make it! But seriously, what are you two doing down there? It looks a little sketch."

"Just taking part in the spooning revolution,” I replied.


"There was this thing in Cosmo about spooning without making your arms or anything fall asleep,” Cari explained.

"Oh. How about that? Well...when do I get a turn? Cari would you mind terribly if I slid in and tried it out?"

"Sure thing!"

It sounds stupid, but I pretty much froze. I couldn't think of one thing to say. It was a pretty awkward situation if you think about it. And not awkward in the way that everyone uses the word all the time nowadays. It was awkward in the most literal sense of the world. I was still loving it though. I won’t lie.

"Is that ok with you?" she asked me.

"Uh...yeah, sure," I was trying to play it cool. I felt pretty awkward still, but she looked movie star graceful even just sitting down on the floor, which distracted me; which was nice. I tried to be a little jocular, "I have to warn you though, it may be so comfortable that you might never want to move again."

"Thanks for the heads up. I'll take my chances."

"Here. Come a little closer. And now, just put your arm right…here...yup. 'K, now I'm coming in."

All I could think about was not smelling her hair or perfume or body spray or lotion or nectar of heaven or anything other scented thing that she might use to make her perfect self even more perfect. I felt like if I did, it'd be creepy then. If I did that, then it'd stop being something fun; like something kinda goofy and innocent and that it'd become just all weird and ordinary.

"Why didn't you wave at me earlier?" I asked from behind her.


"Earlier. When we first arrived, I waved at you."

"Wait. I don't remember that. Really?"

"Yeah. I started out with just a nice polite little wave. Then I got kinda obnoxious with it because I wasn't sure if you noticed and I still got nothing. It was pretty embarrassing."

"And I just ignored you? I promise it wasn't on purpose." She was still buying it.

"Well, it would've been one thing if you would've just ignored me, but then you totally flipped me off. In front of everyone and I was like whatever Jenni, I thought we were friends, but I guess I'm not cool enough."

She laughed and I could feel her laughing against me. I felt weird.

"You're ridiculous."

"What?" She didn't respond. She just laughed some more. "So what do you think?"

"Well my arms aren't falling asleep, but it's so comfy I think I might fall asleep. You?"

I just made snoring noises. She laughed again. I looked at Luke. He rolled his eyes once more at me. I annoy that guy so much, but I guarantee you he'd rather hang out with me rather than anyone else

"I could get used to this," Jenni said and before I could respond with something; presumably a marriage proposal, Whitney Foster popped her head in.

"I'm not even going to ask, but anyways...a bunch of people are about to leave and so I just seeing if you wanted to say bye."

"But I'm comfy," Jenni responded. She groaned a little, then set in motion the momentum required to get up. I was neither sad nor relieved. I may have imagined it, but I'm pretty sure Jenni pressed her body back into mine before she got up. I don't know.

Surfacing – Chapel Club

She was so beautiful though. She really was movie beautiful where you could blow up her face real huge and exhibit it for hours of public scrutiny and somehow you'd end up just marveling at the stars-aligning genetic combination it took to make that.

"Thanks. You were a fantastic big spoon," Jenni turned and said before she walked out.

"Yeah. You’re the best big spoon I ever had," Cari added laughing as she followed Jenni out. "It really was comfortable," I heard Cari say in the hallway.

When they had left I said, "Hmmm? Hmmm? How about that?"

"You're ridiculous," Luke said. I seriously think I get told that a hundred times a day.

"Why didn't you make out with them?" is what Drew had to offer.

"Why didn't you do something besides just sit there and bore everyone? Seriously, you guys have been mannequins. Drew your assignment for the rest of tonight is to say one interesting thing."

"Just because we haven't been hitting on everything that moves," Luke replied.

"Just because I actually know how to converse with the opposite sex. "

"We do too. We're just not obnoxious about it."

"Well all I know is that I got to spoon with Jenni Metcalf chumps. And yes, I'm definitely going to put that on my resume."

"Hey. Do you think they want us to go?" Drew said.

"That's a good question. Since it seems like everyone is leaving, maybe we should too."

Luke shrugged, so we just sat.

I saw Rachel walk by a few minutes later.


"Hey guys!" She seemed like such a nice person. Genuinely nice. Not annoying nice. You could just tell.

"So we've known each other for a while now." I paused for her to affirm.

"A very, very longtime."

"So I can ask you something and expect a completely unbiased and honest answer."

"Of course."

"Well...and remember you won't any feelings, except maybe Luke's, but do you guys want us to leave? Like not just us, but are you all trying to get people out of here?"

"Oh, no. You guys are good."

"You sure?"

"Totally. We were just trying to not make this turn into some raging party or anything."

"Oh well if this isn't going to be a kegger then we might as well split."

"You'd ditch your BFF like that?"

"Ok, you talked us into staying."

"Well we're honored to have you as long as you'll stay."

We then heard some non-crisis screams for Rachel. She excused herself and we were once again left alone. Minutes later, Cari came back to her room and said, "You guys want to play a game?"

"I've never met a game I didn't like," I said. I looked at Luke and Drew.

"I love games," Luke added.

"Sure," said Drew as he laughed for no apparent reason. "What game?" he asked also.

"You'll see," Cari answered. I remember being kinda weirded out by the way she said it. It didn't seem like her when she said it.

Walking out to their living room I recall passing some more candles. The flames peeled off scents which switched in quick succession from autumn leaves to the beach to cookies to clean linen. They smelled really synthetic against each other. The lights were off except for a few lamps and candles strewn about. Rachel and Jenni were sitting on the floor, giggling a little. They didn't seem like themselves either. I also remember realizing that I had no idea what time it was. No idea. For some reason that bothered me.

“Where’s Whitney?” I asked.

“She went out with Criag,” replied Jenni. Criag was Whitney’s boyfriend. Not that it matters.

The girls patted the ground and so I sat down first, to the right of Jenni and three hours from where Rachel sat at my midnight. Luke sat next to Rachel and Cari next to him and Drew next to her and also next to me.

Jenni pulled an empty bottle from behind her and said, "Spin the bottle much?" A mixture laugh/cheer/yell went up from everyone. I looked at Luke and he raised his eyebrows and smiled. "Great. I'll go first."

She glanced around, feigning nerves, then laughed. Jenni rotated her wrist and the bottle multiplied her movement. At first so fast it looked like a circle, then slower, then teetering, then casually winking and pointing its finger at me.

Everyone started laughing because I apparently was grinning really big. It didn’t feel like I was. At least to me. I leaned in towards Jenni, but before I dove, I pulled back and said, "But what about Cale?"

She looked me straight in the eyes and laughed. Grabbed her phone and thumbed something out. She showed it to me. It was a text to Cale. It said "we're over." She hit send. She laughed a little again, slanting in as she whispered, "We do it all the time." Then bringing her head away from my ear, she paused and I went in and sunk my lips into hers. And held 1...2...3... Then I pressed my lips together down on her bottom lip before releasing and then going in again. Then 1...2... And back out a little. Then I titled my head to the other side and dropped my lips back into hers. I slid my tongue out and as it went past her lips she parted her teeth and her tongue came against mine. I rode her movements and reached with my tongue behind hers like I was trying to pickpocket it or something. Then we moved away for good.

I didn't realize it when we were kissing but her hand was on my neck and as we moved away she squeezed it a little and I thought I was going to die. I took some deep breaths and stared right at her. She just smiled at me.

Everyone did that cheer/laugh/yell thing again. And with that we were off. It was Rachel and Luke, then Luke and Cari, then Cari and me, Drew and Luke (which didn't happen), then Drew and Rachel, me and Rachel, then Jenni and Cari (which did happen), and so on and so forth.

I don't know how long we played or what exactly went on or how many times I kissed someone, but at some point I forgot what I was doing. I didn't know if I talked or who I kissed, I don’t know if I laughed at obvious jokes or got self-conscious and put on some chapstick. I just know that thoughts weren't really loosed in my mind again till the night air whetted me as we stepped out of the house sometime later; laughing and waving goodbye to the girls who laughed and waved back.

Dream a Little Dream of Me – The Mama's and the Papa's

When the door closed, we all let out the quietest-loudest cheer you ever saw and grabbed each other embracing one another other and the moment and our luck. I hated it.

I hated them. All of them. Luke, Drew, Jenni, all of them. I wished it never would've happen. I wished it wouldn't take up space in my memory. I wished I could still think about those girls the same. I wished they never would've let losers like us touch them. I wished we never would've spooned. I wished we would've just spooned. I wished they would've still seemed so perfect.

We got into Drew's truck and after about 5 blocks and I don't know how many comments about how awesome that was, I had Drew let me out at a stop sign. I couldn't take it. For real. The way they were talking about it. The way they were smiling. The way they were happy. The worst. I didn’t want to feel like we were sharing this. I didn’t want this to be something we joked about over the phone ten years from now. I didn’t want this. I think they thought I was going to go back and try something with one of them. I don't know. I just knew I couldn't take it.

So I got out and walked and stared up at the stars because for whatever reason, they always look so perfect to us. I was so thankful no cars drove by. That there were no house lights on. That it was just me and no proof of people to force reconciliation with my imagination. That way I could just stare up at the sky. And I did. The stars really can do no wrong to us. If we can’t see them clearly, it’s the clouds’ fault or the city lights’ fault; never the stars’ though. They always seem so perfect to us.
continue reading...

Saturday, February 19, 2011


Daydreaming – Dark Dark Dark

Cassandra stared in and through the multi-tasking window that was acting as both portal and mirror. Currently it was being utilized more for its light-refracting properties rather than its translucent abilities as the girl stared at her reflection. With the prompting of a head band, her hair framed her face and her eyes stayed the same while the majority of her skin acted as a chameleon upon the dusk tinted scenery of the 8 route that shone through her reflection as it flowed by the bus outside. From her many roundtrips on the 8 she had found that at this time of night, she was particularly fond of the wallpaper the bricks of the Immanuel church put on her face. She liked looking at herself in windows. She had always thought that she looked better in windows than in mirrors.

More than a hot bath, more than a massage, more than her friends, more than her favorite song, more than her favorite food, more than her family, more than eating her favorite food with her family, as of late what brought on the most relaxation for Cassandra was riding the bus. Her mind could rest its eyes, her heart could put its feet up, her spine could breathe in deep when she was on it. Somewhere on there she found the balance where she was neither weighed down nor held up. It calmed her to be among people because there were none of the options and anxieties that take the place of others when one is alone. It calmed her to be on her own around people she didn't know because she was free from the push-pull of expectation and experience that's a side effect of familiar company. Plus, there was movement. Movement she was not responsible or accountable for.

She partook in this bit of public transportation often. Sometimes she would bring a book or an iPod. Sometimes she would text. Sometimes she would stare out the window or even sleep. Many times, like tonight, she would just watch her reflection. She kept to herself on there. She made little eye contact with others and even less small talk. She did as she pleased on the bus and in turn being on it pleased her much.

That evening, as the bus caught its scheduled wind at a stop on Brighton, a youngish male walked on during the flux of people. He hung his weight on a strap and against a bar, standing near the front of the vehicle. Being the only other person under the age of 25 inside, Cassandra took notice of his presence; even more so because the presence was that of a male.

Via clandestine looks that swooped from this man and then back outside like a wave lapping up and then backpedaling from a beach; she continued to take notice. The more she looked, the more she felt an affinity for this stranger. The more she looked, the more she felt like her and this man were strangely connected.

She became sure they were linked in some cosmic way. With his cardigan under his coat, and the earbuds in his ears, and because of the bag on his hip, she was sure that they would get along; that if he would notice her and smile, and come talk to her, ask what she was reading, tell her what he was listening to, then take her to a coffeehouse, that they would end up staying there until the place closed, talking. And then they would exchange phone numbers and continue their conversation till 4am. That they would know what one another meant when they said things; that they wouldn't be explaining things, misunderstanding things, misinterpreting them, they'd just be talking.

And then, at Sheridan, he promptly exited the bus.

The annoyed resignation of realizing the corner procrastination has backed one into was the only thing on Connor's mind. He took an inventory of the charlatan excuses he had given himself, the priorities he hadn't properly budgeted, the impulsive logic he had signed off on. Now, with a probable all-nighter awaiting his company, Connor thought that there would not be a single minute within the next 8 hours that he would enjoy.

He thought about it some more and hoped that it'd only be 8 hours. In his bag was a duo of 5 hour energy's that Connor feared he would need every minute of.

His was the Sheridan stop, and when it came he exited like one of the walking dead, which he currently felt like in spirit, but which he would literally feel like the next morning when his physically exhausted self would be placing a hopefully completed paper on Dr. Salt's desk.

Grasping his slowing evaporating freedom during the 3 block walk to his building, Connor felt like he was finally starting to appreciate life fully and that if he didn't have this one paper, that would probably be rather pointless in the grand scheme of things, that he would be completely happy. He thought about all the wonderful things he would do for himself and humanity that very night if it weren’t for that soul-sucking essay. If only.

Two eyes from inside a sleeping bag shadowed his shadow ghostly as he paced past. Connor suddenly felt envious of the homeless man. He wished he too had no concern for due dates, GPAs, or the causes of FEMA's failures during Hurricane Katrina or whatever it was that his paper was supposed to cover. He wished that instead of engaging in a wrestling match with his brain and laptop all night, he would be passing the darkness in a manner more compatible with the human body.

When the man was out of sight, Connor then thought about what a stupid, immature thing to think that was. This caused him to start a new inventory of all the immature thoughts that had led to his procrastination and all the immature thoughts that came flowing thus from when he was firmly in the grips of patience's evil twin.

Right before he sunk keys into his door, Connor was only a few more of the appropriate neurotransmitters away from indulging the impulse to run back down the stairs and down the street and back to the man in the sleeping bag. He thought he could ask the man something along the lines of "what's the meaning of life?" Every time he saw a homeless person he wanted to ask them really cliché questions like that. It wasn't that he thought he'd be returned with a variety of profound and insightful answers that hit upon truths that existed outside the responses typically conjured by conventional society, he was merely curious what they would have to say.

He didn't though. He thought he thought better of it.

Truth - Alexander

On a raft of cardboard, in a sea of concrete, Cable, laid inside his home. Below him, the sidewalk hardened. Hours before the last crumbs of heat absorbed from the day’s sunlight fled away from the cement and so, hiding as much from the world as from the cold, he lied there, huddling into his sleeping bag.

Most people would call it a game. He didn't. To him it was seconds and minutes, hours if he was lucky. It was time. It was something that didn't make hunger so sticky, the boredom so available to hang out, the regret so needy. It kept the cold from being drilled so deep, the guilt from prosecuting. It medicated momentarily.

A 21st century kid would be bored, but it was all he had at the moment and for a long train of moments that night it had been working. It didn't take much for something to work for him anymore. This one worked especially well when exhaustion's anti-effort propaganda was so convincing to every cell in his body. And so he laid. Still, immobile. If it weren't for his eyes that cut out the shadows of passerby's and re-imagined them like a child finding objects in the clouds, he would be so still that you'd swear he was the very center of the entire universe, around and upon which everything swirled and rotated and moved and hung and hinged, as he remained motionless; the frozen crux.

A young man was scuffing past. As he walked along his shadow was handed from streetlight to streetlight. From his horizontal vantage point, Cable tied the man’s shadow into the dynamic shape of a clock hand that kept going from 9 o’clock to 3 o’clock and then repeated the 180 degree turn again and again. Cable liked it when the shadow’s movements were shifty and complex. He liked it when it took more time to associate it with something. He liked what he had come up with just now.

The man walked on and Cable continued to watch the shadow that shifted loyalty from light to light until it had passed from his sight and he was forced to fast his eyes until another appeared.

Then, instead of a shadow, a sequence of high-pitched giggles; like someone running their finger up a piano's keyboard.

Cable's eyes went to the sound's estimated location. They brought back to him three people across the street. He continued to look on until details began to reveal themselves. There was one woman, and two males. One of the males was Carl, his homeless neighbor on the north side of Sheridan Street. He was always trying to sell people old, wrinkle-carved post cards. Usually people just gave him money and told him to keep the postcard. This is what appeared to be happening now. More laughter, the woman again, words were being spoken, but there was too much distance for Cable to find contrast between the sounds.

Another arpeggio of giggles followed by something that Cable would come to often think about. Carl grabbed the young women's hands; the man she was with took a step forward, not sure if his fight or flight response was about to be tested, but Carl only started dancing with her. It was a slow anachronistic, idiosyncratic dance that she went along with. In fact, she seemed to be enjoying it.

The dancers shuffled around some more on the sidewalk as the other man looked on awkwardly. Carl spun the girl slowly over and over again. Watching them, Cable felt something. The feeling didn’t quite match up or overlap with anything he felt before. He liked the feeling at the time, but he wasn’t sure if he’d like it if he were to ever feel it again. All Cable knew was that at the moment, watching them, being Carl would be worth a winning lottery ticket, a thousand shooting stars, 3 genie wishes. Although it would have irritated Carl, and weirded out the girl’s escort even more, if Cable would’ve went and asked her right then and there, she would’ve danced with him too.

Carl finally dipped the girl for a finale, which spilled out some more giggles onto the street and then before Cable could take everything from the scene in, the girl and her wallflower were off walking away from them and back into that million human mass of people in the city that you weren't currently living life with firsthand.

Cable experienced wanting something so much that the desire for it is equaled and snuffed out by an ever-growing disappointment that comes from each moment’s awareness that one doesn't actually have it. It's the curse of wanting something too much. If you want something too much, you'll never actually get it. You’ll be blinded by the goal and never see the first step you could take to get there. The discontent will siphon your motivation and confuse your sense of direction. You'll just lay there and think about it, be tortured by it. Cable just laid there.

This memory was one that he would come back to frequently. Many times the thought of it would impart some relief from reality for him. It would also many times make him ache at how things actually are and were.

From time to time on their walk to her place, Caitlyn would start laughing. She knew her companion, Corbin, would not reflect as fondly about what had just happened. She imagined he felt annoyed, uncomfortable, a tad emasculated. She felt he was probably imagining her to be some flighty, impulsive hippy; which she kinda was, but also kinda wasn't. Either way she got irritated at the thought of him thinking that. She would remind herself that she didn't care, then think about randomly dancing with that homeless man, then laugh a little, then become aware that Corbin was still being a bit weird, then she'd start the cycle over again.

This was their second date and due to the majority of the walk that was concluding that date being conducted in silence, each was being forced to speculate on the status of their partner. It was forcing both of them to mentally put money down on the others' probable mood, thoughts, and desire for a third date.

Young Blood – The Naked & Famous

At her building, a half-hearted hug was exchanged along with a promise of future communication that was vague enough to be loop-holed out of later by either party. As soon as Corbin was gone, she realized she felt exhausted. There was no real time or energy left for anything so she began her pre-sleep checklist of chores and dressing down. Once in her bed, her relaxing mind and body caused her thoughts to slip easily from one to another.

Floating back to memories of college, the images in her mind were framed by cloudy, ethereal borders of nostalgia. She called upon recollections of those times when she felt like her personality was taking shape, finding contrast and distinction from the world around her. It was during college that she felt that she first truly achieved, in part, that existential goal of finding oneself that was so hyped up during her adolescence. It was like her eyes had finally gotten used to the dark and she saw that around her, it was not all black, but a palette of gray, and she saw that there were shapes and forms, and that she was one them and that she had her own form, her own shape, her own shade. Caitlyn’s current wistfulness also served to bowdlerize those memories into a format that better fit her current emotional ambiance; leaving out the often anguishing aspects of birthing one’s personality, and leaving only the times of self-knowledge amity.

It was then, during her four years of school, that she tagged herself with words such as impulsive, spontaneous, spirited. It was now that she felt like all those things were n/a. She saw that those attributes only fit when she had a floor under her. She was only those things when an institution like college was there to give her both reasons and excuses for doing it. Without that, without them; she wasn't. To be such a person now meant more than dancing with the homeless, but actually becoming homeless herself, jumping in her car and driving in some direction till something caught her eye or broke her car down. It meant pawning her stuff and taking off to Europe; filling in the blanks, connecting the dots later. It meant something she wasn't sure she was capable of. It meant something she wasn't sure she'd regret at 50.

So Caitlyn stuffed those thoughts back into some untidy, unorganized, mostly-forgotten shoebox and pushed it back under the bed in her mind. She threw in thoughts of tomorrow's demands, thoughts of disappointing, dull men like Corbin, thoughts of disappointment with herself, in too. With the idea that maybe when she woke up tomorrow something wonderful will have happened, something wonderful that will have changed it all for her; for the better.

Walking into Starbucks the next morning before work, Caitlyn exchanged places with a man holding a drink carrier who held the door for her before making his exit. Something in the man’s combination of manners, smile, haircut, Chukka boots; made Caitlyn want to take a second look. It was more than attraction. There was something about him that Caitlyn wanted to know; something that at the moment she felt like she might be able to understand simply by watching him walk away into the rest of his life.

Inside she spun around to the outside window. She watched the man get into an old car parked on the street. There was a woman in the passenger seat as well as shirts and suitcases hung up in and pressing against the back windows. She saw the out of state plates and began imagining their story. In her mind, they were two young artists who had grown tired of the 21st century brand of dizzyingly disconnected monotony and had set out upon the world at large to see what they could see and do what they could do. In her mind they were very kind, very witty, very attractive, very trendy, very physically/psychologically/emotionally/spiritually healthy people who were very much in love with one another.

She thought that she should do something like that. Maybe she just would.

Two days, 1200 miles, a sonically exhausted iPod, countless passive aggressive hints, three aggressive and direct arguments, and yet she still had not tired of echoing the GPS's British taskmaster voice. Every "turn. right. at. Mad-ee-sun" was doubled and he only found respite from the mimicking with phrases like "continue. for. eighty. miles."

His mood cycled through the nuances of a thesaurus entry for annoyed as his momentary sentiment would morph from irritated to exasperated to irked, miffed, ruffled, to perturbed to chafed to bothered to et cetera.

It was not just that she was his sister. Any human being continually doing that or any of the other myriad activities she deemed appropriate car trip behavior would've gotten under his skin. To her, it was exactly just because he was her brother. Only with him was she able to behave completely unchecked. For an 18 year old girl, being with someone that they are not trying to impress, attract, entertain, or any other of those word’s spiritual and synonym cousins and brethren; someone whom they don’t care what they thought of them, is a luxury and a relief and a necessity.

Someone’s Missing - MGMT

Cameron and Carmen Blythe were at the moment in the throes of something they would one day recall fondly, though that proposition seemed further off than the end of their cross-country trip. For Cameron, it was the road trip of shame, a tail-between-the-legs prodigal son homecoming. It was the best option for a dream to be a graphic designer that had run out of financial fuel, but which could still be rebooted. It was a logical, though uncomfortable decision that was made with understanding and empathetic parents. It was being 27 and moving back to somewhere he hadn't lived for nearly a decade. Ultimately, it was something that made sense; what he wanted to do could be done from anywhere, especially somewhere with free rent.

For Carmen it was a vacation. It was parents seeing an opportunity for brother-sister bonding, a senior trip for their graduating daughter, and something for Carmen to do besides going with her fellow New Mexican classmates to old Mexico again for spring break.

So a plane ticket was bought and under the pretense of helping Cam pack and having two drivers, the siblings were reunited. From her haphazard boxing up of his belongings, to her "letting" him do most of the driving, to her humming along to her heart's content despite her tunes’ correspondence with what was actually playing, to her spilling drinks 3 different times, to the never-ending repeated British accented directions, Cameron felt the same childish aggravation he felt at 14 when Carmen continually butted into his birthday sleepover. Though some of his irritation was understandable, Carmen was also unfairly and unknowingly being boxed in with some of Cameron’s current frustration with the elements of his life too.

The morning provided Cameron with none of the feelings of a fresh start, but the grimy aches of sleeping in a car with half the amount of rest he was used to getting in a bed. Neither did the trip ascribe feelings of untethering, of possibilities lined up; just an air of defeat.

Needless to say, Cameron did not feel like talking, least of all to his sister. So after handing Carmen her drink and making a cutting comment about spilling, the car was started and Cameron began to hibernate in his thoughts. He ignored the doubled "proceed. to. 23rd. Avenue" that he heard in his periphery, and continued driving. He ignored the humming she had struck up and the fact that Carmen seemed to be staring at him. He wasn't going to give in. It wasn’t easy though. Like an itch that you refuse to scratch, feeling that one is being stared at without checking to see if the hypnosis is true, can be a bit maddening. Still he would not do it. That's what she wanted.

The traffic light eased from yellow to red and Cameron eased the car up to the intersection and took his position at the starting light for the next turn of color. On the corner, right by the car, was a sign-twirler. Wearing a body suit the pale blue-green color of oxidized copper along with a slightly terrifying foam Statue of Liberty mask; the individual was uncomfortably close to the their car. Being stopped next to sign-twirlers made Cameron feel even more awkward than being stopped by panhandlers. The current presence of one also did nothing to help his already raggedy nerves.

The shoddy Statue of Liberty continued to dance and its movement tickled the corner of Cameron's eye, making him want to look straight at it. He refused. He couldn't give in to anything else besides looking straight ahead. The dancing continued. Beside him, Cameron sensed Carmen looking back and forth between the sign-twirler and him, wanting to see his reaction; to see if he wanted to laugh like she desperately wanted to. Laughing was even more out of the question than looking so he continued focusing ahead.

Cameron then noticed that the sign-twirler's dancing coincided with the beat of the song they were listening to. He found this amusing, but bit the corner of his mouth to prevent it from showing to his sister. The dancing continued and the longer they waited and the more the person danced, the more he wanted to laugh. The busy intersection slowly cycled through its lights and Cameron was centering all his willpower on not busting out.

But, when the sign-twirler started pelvic-thrusting it was too much for both a bitterly-disappointed and embarrassed 27 year old as well as a stubborn, deeply-annoyed and worn out brother and he laughed and so Carmen laughed too and they looked at each other as the light turned green and laughed even more; even harder.

Living in America - DOM

Twice to the right, then the same to the left, two up, two down, then once to the right and left and up and down and then four hip thrusts while correspondingly pushing the sign out and in; shoulders and legs improvised. Caleb had his routine down and was thus able to fill out his shifts robotically. From inside the costume he could care less about the people that laughed at him, honked at him, threw stuff at him, were politely annoyed by him, were made to feel slightly awkward by him. There were worse ways to earn 7.50 an hour. Plus, he could study while he worked.

Flowing into his ears from headphones was not music to dance to, but intermediate German lessons. He would listen and repeat hard, Spartan German phrases as he rhythmically moved his body. He was pretty sure that anyone who passed by him on foot thought he was uttering curses on them.

Once again, he did not care. Believing that contemporary American culture deserved such tacky marketing strategies as sign-twirling, Caleb felt no embarrassment nor regret for what he did. His only concerns were paying for school and working towards getting out of the states and over to a Berlin or a Munich or a Heidelberg or even a Vienna. Basically any place that spoke German and that didn't have to resort to such brainless tactics such as sign-twirling to get people's attention. This was not where he wanted to be nor what he wanted to be doing, but it was bearable because it was a way to get where he wanted to be, doing what he wanted to be doing.

So Caleb continued to grind out the Germanic syllables for three more hours of twice to the right, then the same to the left, two up, two down, then once to the right and left and up and down and then four hip thrusts while correspondingly pushing the sign out and in; shoulders and legs improvised.

After his shift, Caleb took off his costume in an alley and biked back to campus. Slaloming through pedestrians he set out for the main library. There was some work on Goethe that he needed to complete before his next class at 2. He slipped into an empty table and began assembling his temporary work space. Reaching into his backpack and through the gaping mouth of his Lady Liberty mask he pulled a book out and started filing through the sticky-notes he had placed throughout the text.

Three paragraphs into his work, Caleb took a 5 minute break to get a drink and waste some time on the Internet. While unnecessarily checking his email for the second time in that 5 minute span, a conversation was overheard that Caleb deemed worth hopping unto.

At the table behind him, from the voices he heard, he believed there were 3 girls. One was describing to the others a "friend crush. You know, don't you like ever see someone, and you're just like, 'man I wish I were friends with them.” She went on to say that it was "totally different from a real crush. That's the whole point. If there're feelings like that at all then it's not a friend crush." Then furthered explained that you “can totally have a friend crush on a guy or a girl."

One of the girls expressed doubt over the possibility of such crushes and entered into some pseudo-Freudian rumination on subconscious sexuality. The last girl said she knew exactly what the first girl was talking about.

Caleb tried to get into his work, but continued to get tugged back into the conversation he was eavesdropping on. Between tangents on friend crushes and weekend plans, the three females seemed to be working on some sort of anthropology project. It was these episodes of focus from the girls that kept Caleb interested. In particular it was the girl who had spoken last who was distracting Caleb from his work with her keen comments on her own work.

From her, came many remarks on the inside-out social and economic decay of America which Caleb wholeheartedly agreed with. She spoke of some Scandinavian social policies which she believed would work in America. She blamed the current housing crisis on Congressional changes to the CRA in ‘92. She jumped from topic to topic, but she seemed like she knew what she was talking about. Caleb found himself surprised at how much of what she said, he had thought about on his own. His ears perked up even more when she began praising how Bavaria had grown into prosperity without losing its cultural or historic core. He wished he could turn around and talk to them (her).

We’re Happening – The Vaccines

He took the thought of speaking to her from nebulous wish to a potential occurrence to a game-planned reality. His priority now was deciding his course of action with this girl whom he'd never actually seen. In his mind he had two actions. The first was to turn around and, with an irresistible mix of wit and charisma, introduce himself and engage them in some non-creepy fashion. This seemed rather difficult as the words "creep," "creepy," and "creeper" were very much in vogue and people used every opportunity to assign such language to situations such as this. He could just see that one girl who didn't believe in friend crushes deciding that some aspect of him trying to talk to them was creepy and announcing this observation to all within library voice earshot; thus undercutting the merits of taking that action.

Also, he never thought of himself as “that guy”; the kind of man who could eloquently disarm strangers with his words and magnetism. Caleb believed in the idea of a dream girl much more than the American dream and with that belief, he always figured that to have the kind of romance he anticipated with this ideal girl, he would have to start out their courtship with a debonair action of the sort that a that guy would take. Even though no one else would see him as that guy, she would.

The second course of action would put this presumably suave first impression on hold for a bit. First he would find out as much as he could about her right then and there through eavesdropping, hopefully even a first name, then find her on Facebook, stalk her on Facebook, come up with a strategy to slowly work his way into her life based on the information she shared freely on Facebook. Probably, through some long-term approach like being in a class with her, then working on a group project in said class with her, working on said group project with her in the library, ironically talking with her in said library about friend crushes, then a smooth change in subject from said crushes to real crushes while walking her back to her dorm, revealing he has a real crush on her as they approached said dorm, have said crush reciprocated, followed by a joyous run back to his own dorm, a phone call to mom telling her he thought he had found "the one," then being able to tell the story at their rehearsal dinner about how he knew right from the very start that they were meant to be, and being able to retell the story at least once a year at family gatherings and such as they aged from newlyweds to parents to grandparents.

It then came into his mind a bit of practical wisdom once shared with him by his friend Carson. Carson told him of the strange phenomena where almost all girls sound attractive. He gave an example where you would be on the phone with some customer service representative and while you were talking with her, in your mind you would imagine her to be young, pretty, and single, when in reality the kind of woman working that job is probably 35, portly, and divorced. Ever after Caleb had found this to be overwhelmingly true in his own life and so presently he became scared at the thought of striking up a conversation with the girls only to discover that she was not as he pictured her. He combined these thoughts with the other sophomoric theory that he had been introduced to only that day as he tried to decide if he had a real crush or only a friend crush on this female.

After a thorough examination of this issue on levels both theoretical and functional, Caleb settled on his having a friend crush on this girl at the very least. He decided that the distinction really mattered little when all he really wanted to do was talk with her. With that squared he away he determined he would wait till the girls left and then he’d follow and catch up with her, introduce himself, and with humorous and refreshing honesty, confess his eavesdropping and begin a discourse that would hopefully lead to either a very happy friendship or romance. He slouched down in his seat and sighed happily at his simple little plan.

The silence in the library seemed a few decibels quieter/louder than it had been a few minutes earlier and with horror Caleb turned around to find the table behind him occupied by only a single male and with a glance at the clock, himself late and unprepared for his 2 o’clock.

He hustled his things into his backpack and ran off to class already formulating multiple devices for tracking his library fräulein down.

Dreaming - Seapony

She had been inside for far too long. Two hours of fluorescent light and stale air and Callie’s skin was ready for some pure vitamin D and her lungs craved air without an expiration date. Especially today. Though she had spent the majority of her life under a roof, today was one of those days where the presence of walls somehow felt like an intrusion on her existence.

With a cancelled class and a solid start on a group project, Callie’s obligations for the day were now non-existent, but instead of engaging in some open air activity, she headed back to her dorm to seize the opportunity for a nap. So across the lawns that were heaving green after a week’s worth of sporadic rain and through a campus whose foliage was rebuilding itself after a cold winter, Callie took in the Friday afternoon feeling that shows possibilities and hides responsibilities.

Sliding into her unmade bed, Callie resumed the last position she had found herself in that morning.

2-ish hours later, reality slowly fluttered down to her consciousness like a shirt blown off the clothesline and settling on the lawn. It came to her first that she was in her room. Next, she realized it was PM not AM. Then, she recalled that it was Friday. Now, it came to her mind that it was 4:19. Followed by an attempt to recall her nap’s dream, which had sadly been ripped up into scraps too small to reassemble by the time she tried. Then, it was the decision to search for her phone which she had lost among the tides of bed sheets. After that, it was the slow processing of a text message inquiring about Callie’s availability that evening that preceded an invitation to go to a bonfire if she was free. This was followed by an affirmative reply on all accounts and a subsequent choice to lay back down; not caring if she fell back asleep or if she just laid there thinking.

She did both back and forth and it was during a downhill descent back into sleep that her vibrating phone awoke her fully. Answering in a voice thick with sleep, Callie discovered that her friends were in the car waiting to leave and wondering why she had stopped responding to their texts. Suddenly alert and still in her clothes, Callie was quickly off to meet her friends.

It was now almost 7:00. Callie and her girlfriends allowed themselves their one nutritional splurge of the week as they gave in to the convenience of the drive-thru before setting out on the 90 minute drive they had ahead of them. Even after they had eaten and been on the road for a bit, Callie was still dusting off some grogginess and trying to truly wake up.

She started thinking about how much she had slept. She hadn’t realized how exhausted she was. Over the course of her life at school she had experienced many of these unplanned marathon naps. Callie and her friends would joke and call them piggy bank naps where weeks of subtle exhaustion build up to the point that you have to just cash out and check out for a while. They always surprised her though, when they actually happened.

River – Akron/Family

With the darkness increasing and the civilization decreasing, Callie found herself more and more disoriented and unfamiliar with their location even though she had been out this way many times before. She was glad when the car began slowing before changing directions and road surfaces as the pavement gave way to dirt. They were just about there. She saw a fire behind bars of trees and barriers of cars. Once again, she was ready to be unconfined.

Getting out of the car, Callie walked straight to the fire. She felt a little bad for not being very engaged with the others during the drive. Her world seemed to be on a couple seconds time-delay from the world outside her and so she hadn’t been the best company. Fires, like TVs and babies, gave excuses to stare and not talk and that’s what sounded best to her at the moment.

Most people were still greeting one another or getting something to drink, but Callie went and found a place on a log. Putting her hands in the pockets of her pullover, she leaned towards the fire like it was in the middle of telling the most fascinating story.

The dropping temperatures ushered more people towards the heat. Callie greeted any familiar faces that greeted her first, but most of her attention went to the fire. She found herself following the blue flames as they moved around the very center of the fire. She soon lost herself staring as the flowing flames took precedence over the surroundings in her consciousness.

“You ever notice how everyone looks better in firelight?”

A guy suddenly appeared sitting next to her, straddling the log, posing random questions, and forcing her to regain the presence required for human interaction.

“Hm?” She said.

“Have you ever noticed how people are better looking in firelight?”

Never one to be rude without cause and this being far from the first time a man had begun interacting with her without an apparent reason, Callie replied simply,

“What do you mean exactly?”

“Look around. You probably know most of these people or at least have seen them before, right? Well look at some of them and tell me if you think they look more attractive than usual.”

Callie looked at the guy for a second to see how serious he was, shrugged to herself, then did a sweep of the people near the fire. To her surprise, she did legitimately find that the people seemed to be better looking than usual. Their faces seemed interesting and full of life. There was something in each person that Callie wanted to linger on.

“Whoa. I don’t know if it’s like a placebo effect or what, but they really do look better.”

He laughed then said, “It’s for real. I’m telling you, you can’t photoshop people to look as good as what they do near a fire.”

“And why is that? Enlighten me.”

“It’s because of the movement. So the fire gives enough light that you can clearly see a person and what they look like, but because the fire’s moving, people’s bad features seem temporary and they become kinda invisible. So you don’t notice them. You see the face for once, not just the unibrow or the crooked nose.”

“Do you use this line at every bonfire?”

He laughed again, then said, “It’s not a line. It’s the truth. People don’t describe brides and mothers-to-be as glowing for no reason, right?”

“’K, well, I’m not going to lie, I’m kinda buying into it.”

“As you should. Think about it. If you’re talking to someone and they have like a weird birthmark that’s awkwardly close to their lips: most of the time when you’re talking to them, you’re focusing in on that, but…in the firelight, the flicker makes that birthmark go in and out of visibility so you don’t really focus in on it and you end up seeing the rest of their face. That face is no longer defined by that birthmark, it’s just a face. It’s weird, but it’s true.”

“What’s your name?”

“Chayce. Yours?”

“Callie. And tell me Chayce, where did you acquire this bit of ancient wisdom?”

“Just paying attention, that’s all. I don’t know, I like fires so I’ve had lots of opportunities to pick up on it.”

“Are we a pyro then?”

“Mmmm…not quite. “

“So why then?”

“Why I like fires? Well, I don’t know if this will make sense, but do you ever feel like everything’s moving like really, really fast?”


“’K, me too. Sometimes I feel like everything’s moving so fast that I’m constantly going to be nostalgic for something. You know just cause everything’s changing so fast? Before I know it, the things around me are gone and I’ve moved on almost without knowing it. I’m telling you, almost every day feels like an out of body experience for me. It always feels like a combination of yesterday and tomorrow or something, but never today. And it just makes me always nostalgic for something. Does that make sense?”

“Yeah. Actually, I kinda think I know what you’re talking about, but… what does that have to do with fires?”

“Oh yeah yeah. Sorry sometimes I just get going and forget where I’m heading with something. And I know this will sound hokey, but please believe me that this is being said in all sincerity. So anyways, fires have this natural sense of movement. It’s constructive and destructive at the same time. There’s a balance to it you know? So like just by watching it or being around it, I feel like I’m back on track with the proper rhythm of things.”

“No, yeah, that makes sense too and even if it’s insincere, it at least sounds good so…”

“Well, I’ll take that. Seriously, I hope I’m not coming off like I’m trying to be some Native American mystique or something. I can promise you I don’t usually take myself this seriously. So I apologize for busting out all this weird, abstract stuff before building it up with some “hi, how are you?’s and such.”

“It’s actually easier to talk about this kind of stuff than small talk sometimes.”

“Agreed. Anyways, I still can’t get over how everyone always looks better around a fire.”

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