Greasy pizza

We were little kids who sat in the school cafeteria during lunchtime. The cafeteria special that day, as it was every other day, was pizza. I used to think that pizza was a big deal, but the school pizza really, really sucked. I had a friend from Botswana next to me and a friend from Korea across. The Botswanian friend grabbed her slice of pizza and downed it. She slurped that stringy white cheese and said it was good. I glanced at my piece of oozing pile of lump before me. There was hardly any pizza sauce in it. The cheese looked man-made; it was was white and tasteless. I turned it a bit and looked under it. The dough was almost white and seemed uncooked. The bread had little holes in it that made it look like a big soggy biscuit. Amid my dissatisfaction, I grabbed it by my hand and took a bite off its cold triangular tip. The cafeteria was white and windowless. It looked like a big gym, but when I had revisited it many years later, I found out just how tiny that place actually was. It’s funny how things appear so big and grandiose when you’re a kid. I somewhat recall what I was wearing; probably light blue jeans, white sneakers, and a sweatshirt. That was the type of outfit I wore pretty often during those days; although they weren’t of my preference. My hair was probably half tied in a pony tail with a colorful clip that had strings and charms on it. My skin was smooth and wheat colored. My grandma used to say that to indicate that I was neither light skinned nor was I dark. It never looked like I was smiling, but I was a pretty
happy little kid. I always wanted to be around people and have fun.
All around me kids ate their respective soggy pizzas.
This was a big deal to me.
It took great distance and a lot of effort to get here, but here I was, in America, making new friends. Kids were just kids, no matter what our skin tones were or what our cultures were. We talked to each other like the vacant vessels that we were. Empty, and so open. We were filling it, I was improving on my English. Such genuine friendships, such innocent jokes and real laughter. We finished lunch, I threw away my greasy pizza. That, I just couldn’t open up to. I headed back to class with hands in my pockets alongside my friends.

1994

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Hello from the future

It’s two hundred thousand years later
And I think about you
Where you roamed, what you saw, what you felt
How you lived.
I look at my hands, and notice that they’re so pristine. Yours must have been bruised, and maybe the lines that run across your palms were darker.

Hello from the future. We’re stuck in a rut out here. There’s a lot of people who choose to ignore it and are completely happy living mechanical lives because they don’t, for some delusional reason, find it mechanical. But I don’t know why I’m not happy with it. I think it’s a small percentage of us who are not so happy with it. I don’t know what this percentage is, maybe twenty-five? Maybe even less? I have no idea, I haven’t done a methodological statistical analysis on it. But I’m guessing that it’s a few. Did you like the feel of touch way-back-when? Me too. See, we haven’t diverged too far off.

You know, I have a crush on a guy who existed over a hundred years ago. I’ve been reading his writings, and it’s reaffirmed my suspicion that people of the past were, actually, just like us today. Hard to believe since the believer in me used to think that we are so special because there’s a lot of new weird things happening that’s never happened before. But this progress… as they say, always sucked. Even in the past it sucked. But to be clear, it’s not even about what sucked, it’s this rate of sucking; this relative change from the baseline, that sucks, and that is exactly the same as the sucking that’s going on right now. We’re talking about the amazon jungles being destroyed, but we have no idea how WILD New York City must have looked before it got turned into a concrete jungle.

Progress, as they say… it was always coming, it’s still coming they say, as we watch structures getting stacked before us one at a time. This exponential fast rise of… what? We “progress” and forget the trail we leave behind. So where are we headed anyway… building concrete jungles one after another. They worried about conservation in the past as they inhaled coal during the industrial revolution, and some of us still give a damn today. So how are we any different than those who complained about progress, and how are those in support of progress any different than the delusional happy people we meet today who love a nice smooth oiled up car that runs fast and a nice cup of cheap labor coffee from Starbucks? But what can you do? It’s herd mentality. They talked about stupidity in the past, but it’s trickery more than anything. Maybe trickery is stupidity. You go to the grocery store and think your milk comes from there. It’s not your fault anyway. Just go with the flow. Go home, watch a mystery show, eat chicken wings and get fat. Get everything sterilized, get more immunocompromised and survive through life in a much more complicated fashion even though it doesn’t make sense, but then simplicity didn’t make sense, did it? That’s why everything’s so complex and confusing today. Why does it matter anyway, it’s too complicated and irrelevant to me me me now now now! Just go with the flow. Everybody’s doing it. And those who aren’t finding satisfaction from it are the unhappy ones, and they’ll be the ones taking antidepressants anyway. The sweet smell of progress! The wonderful scent of dead skin leather, the funny crunchy taste of popcorn chicken. That goofy animal label, it’s so cute! Let’s sit near the gas run heater, open up our devices and go somewhere else in our minds. Checked out. Lost. Even more confused. Oh happy life.

Real versus unreal

“Did you write this?” She asked him directly. In a surge of embarrassment, he walked away with a flushed face. She picked up her pace to match his quick steps. She touched his shoulder from behind and he shivered as he stopped. He placed his palms over his eyes. He wanted to disappear from the face of the earth.
“Why don’t you admit it?” She walked in front of him and drew his hands away. She looked at him. He looked at the ground.
“I’m sorry” he mumbled through clenched jaw. His breath left a trail of fog in the cold weather. His cheekbones were pink and his dark hair had subtle brown highlights that stood out against the snow filled background.
In a burst of anger she threw the secret love letter that she had found, at his face. He had written it for her, but had never intended for her to find out. He grimaced with pain inside as it brushed against his skin.
“Why didn’t you utter a word? Why were you so reserved all this time? Why did you pretend that you never cared?”
He was silent.
“Why don’t you look me in the eye? Why do you leave when I walk in? Why did you ignore me for so long? How could you deny that I had wanted you too? You’ve ruined my life!”
“I didn’t mean to” he said, “I didn’t want to hurt you. I never wanted you to find out, I didn’t want my feelings for you to ever end.”
“I don’t understand! Why couldn’t we be together? Why couldn’t we have gotten to know each other better? Lived happily ever after? You see, everything’s messed up now. I can never wake up and face the day without sensing that something is missing. I can never not think… about this, about you, about what you did! I’m forever trapped” she continued, “Because now it’s too late. I’m obligated to the future. I’m bound by societal rules and plans that have been made for me. I’m fixed into settling down and having a family with someone else” she placed her hands over her face and cried, “I can never be happy.”
He tried to touch her hand but she brushed it away. “Because of you!” she said through her teeth and with teary eyes, “Why didn’t you tell me all this when you could have? Three years of acquaintance and not a single word of truth from you! Why didn’t you tell me all this before I found someone else? It’s too late now. I could have been with you. My life’s an empty, meaningless, waste of time.”
“You’ll move on… eventually” he said.
“I’ll never move on. I’ll always be in love with you and never be able to be with you. I hate you because of that. It’s all your doing. You’ve played a game with my heart.”
“I promise you, that I didn’t mean to…”
“You’re admitting that it’s a game?”
“I suppose l…” he could barely say the word, “I suppose love is a game.”
“Then it isn’t true, is it? It’s not real, it’s just make-believe, like a game!”
“Can’t a game be for real? I engaged in it with all my heart, and I almost died because of it.”
“You can’t expect a game to last forever.”
“What meaning does forever carry?”
“What meaning does a moment carry?”
“Sometimes, it carries great depth.”
“Can’t a forever bond have depth too?”
“Then it wouldn’t have the length.”
“But momentary encounters are so sporadic, temporary, and heartbreaking. You’re left with shattered, empty, non-existent memories.”
“Are memories non-existent? Were all those feelings that once made your heart swoon, unreal? Are encounters make-believe? If so, is depth unreal?”
“Yes. The only thing that’s real is a forever and ongoing bond through time.”
“I wish that for you. I want you to feel, taste, and live in what’s real.”
“But I’m not happy in reality.”
“Then you’ll have to deal with heart-breaking encounters” he said as he kissed her. Soft snowflakes fell over them in their silent surrounding. They embraced for however long, before reality drifted them apart.

RealUnreal

 

Tune that I would’ve never chosen

I can’t believe I’m hearing this same old tune again. How long has it been, like twenty-some years? Is this what it’s like being old now? My, how I’ve grown… into something no less different. Blank eyed and coming of age, sitting in the car and looking out the car windshield; I once watched my self being somewhere far away from this place.
Here I am, miles and miles away, across the seven seas, years and years down the road
Surrounded by dust and glitter under the eastern sunlight
Finding pieces of myself that my feeble arms have tried to hold together for so long.
How weird, to be hearing some same old tune
That I would’ve never chosen.

Red planet

Here I am, in the red planet. The atmosphere here stings my skin as I sit alone in this arid dust bowl. The sky’s red and it’s making my eyes bleed. My crimped hair’s brittle and it obscures my vision. My throat’s dry and I squirm on the rocky ground in dreams of quenching thirst. My mouth thinks it’s water, but I’m eating dirt. It gets inside my fingernails. It smears across my face. I grab a handful of it and let it squeeze out of my clenched fists. Am I even human anymore? Am I a machine? Am I an empty shell? Am I just dying slowly and awaiting to be filled by your holy water in the palms of my hand?
Release me in the downpour of a summer’s rain.
Let it splash across my face like being roped in the tides of your love.
I think of jittery visions of your powerful arms around my waist from a thousand years ago, and your tender kiss underneath the waterfalls in paradise. I can warp back in time to when the world glowed before my innocent eyes, and you saw it from across the room and then asked me out.
There was a world once where the birds flew over the rainforest, and we made love on the ground after a spell of laughter. There was a time when the sun set and you followed me to the beach, and I saw its beautiful reflection in your striking eyes. Redo the moment when I was pinned against the wall and I believed in your promise of true love murmured near my ears. There are wires deep inside that bond to my brain and it recollects your hidden flesh. It resurrects before my eyes in a way that’s truly holy. If there’s god, I believe in one and it’s in the form of your warm-blooded body. Your body, that of a Greek god, naked and pale stands before me. Is it you, or are you a flickering image prerecorded and absent? I reach out my crooked finger to touch you but it just passes through. My eyes squint and blink sporadically while they shut. Let me believe that I’m not dreaming. Wake me up and tell me that we’re sitting in back of the taxi cab once more near the city shores. The city is so alive and the air is humid and hot, and there’s sweet scent of your warm breath tantalizing over my neck. I reach to cover it. My teeth are chattering. My body is shivering in cold. A wave of sediments blow and deposit over it, and I wonder how long I’ll live like this.

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Dark hallway mission

The voice tells me to get into the elevator and to go to a certain floor. I do so as told. Instinct tells me to walk down the hallway. There’s promise of a grand prize; the greatest thing, the highest goal. There’s supposed to be something that I’ve always wanted at the finish. I’m told to open the door. I do so.
And there you stand, behind that door
wearing a black and white tuxedo. Your chiseled face looking even sharper against the shadows. Your creamy skin and shiny hair, contrasting each other. Your glass-like eyes, contracting in the spotlight directed at you.
You are fully attentive and looking at me,
but with a look of worry. Wordlessly, you give a notion that you want me back, that you’re begging for me now. That you’re willing to disregard everything for me and that I could too, for you.
But there’s something unkind, untrustworthy, and cold about this whole new setup. There’s doubt brewing in my gut.
There’s an uneven tune playing in my ears.
And there’s a sad, tragic, unstoppable feeling,
that I wished it were true.

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