2017-07-19

26 hectopascal pt. 4

Ben 13:44
yo, ronnie and i are out tonight, theres a kind of beach style rooftop party

Ben 13:45
simon is hosting it, idk if you remember him but anyways would be fun if you were down too

Ben 13:45
semester's over soon, etc

Ezra looked out of the window. The sky was an impeccable blue, not a single cloud and indeed, he did feel like a long drink or two. Things were happening. Outside his house, cars were stopping at red traffic lights. A plane was slowly gliding along the line of the far horizon, and high above the stratosphere, satellites were making their rounds around planet Earth. Ezra sighed. He sure could do with some weight being lifted off his shoulders by the mix of music and chatter, and alcohol's Gaussian blur.

Ezra 13:50
sure, im coming. when and where?

_____

"Good to see you outside the cave," Ben said, slapping his friend's back. Ezra smirked. "Yeah, I got sick of watching shadows of pots so I thought I check out the outside world." Veronica snorted into her cocktail. The festivities in honour of one Simon Trent's access to parental credit cards took place in an open-air rooftop bar right across the beach, with the obligatory tiki torches and several sunshades of straw placed among occasional benches and chairs. Thankfully, the place wasn't too crowded yet, so the three of them could claim a bench closest to the balcony, overviewing the ocean. "Boy, I wouldn't mind Simon's parents adopting me," Veronica said as they admired the location. "He literally doesn't even have an occasion to splurge this hard." "Yeah," Ben nodded, "I think his dad is a lawyer with some tycoon types in real estate, or something." Ezra wrinkled his nose. "How exactly did you two get invited, or where should I remember him from..? I don't recall this guy, like, at all." "Urm, he was in two of our media psychology classes, and we kinda hung out after uni one time, back at Vance's...he was the guy who was ranting about this club closing, Flamingos, or what's the name again..." Ezra's brain still refused to spit out an image, so he just gave a helpless little nod. Ben chuckled. "He doesn't remember, Veronnie. Honestly, do you ever even look at people?" Ezra started rolling up the sleeves of his white shirt, feeling caught red-handed. He tended to skim faces like pages of books, on a quest for whoever would catch his eye. Most people didn't.

Veronica stood up. "Boys, I'll get some more drinks. I feel like after surviving my marketing exam today I can totally drink half this bar and still be standing. I am invincible - I AM HE-MAN!" Ben and Ezra looked at each other with raised eyebrows. Veronica was anything, but not a skilled drinker. Her feet got unsteady after a beer or two. "I'll look after her," Ben said, sighing, as she pranced away. The surface of the ocean was calm, just steady ripples softly splashing on sand. "How are you?" he asked. Ezra shrugged. "Fine. As fine as I can be, I guess. I passed all my assignments. I'm slightly behind on applications. I'm tired. But I am quite content sitting here, staring at the landscape." Ben smiled. "That sounds pretty good, coming from you." "Don't be so ironic. How about you?" "I'm dope. Honestly." Ezra watched Ben cautiously from the side, but he seemed sincere. "Are you sure?" "Yeah. Uni is almost over, Vronkers and I are almost done with the appartment, painting walls and shit - we're doing pretty fucking well, really, the two of us - and I'm interning at my uncle Fred's agency in two months - I haven't told you yet, have I?" Ezra shook his head. "I only got the email today in the morning, he talked to people and showed them my CV and stuff - well, you know what he's like." Ben chuckled, lighting a cigarette. Ben's uncle Fred could talk people into selling their last pair of shoes in the pouring rain. Ezra smiled at his knees. "I'm lowkey relieved I haven't missed out on you being upset, or in trouble or anything, to be honest. I was wondering, the other day. I barely have my mind together for my own bullshit, usually." Ben looked at him, sarcastically wide-eyed. "You don't? I wouldn't have guessed, pal." Ezra punched his arm, but grinned. "Shut up." Veronica was back, gleefully carrying three tall glasses with pretty-coloured beverages. "I forgot what the hell this is called, but it tastes great," she said, placing each glass carefully on the railing beside their rattan bench.

The place was filling up quickly. Ezra glanced around lazily - it was mostly students he found he was vaguely familiar with from his classes, as well as some men and women clearly in their late thirties that he'd never seen before. A group of girls enthusiastically waved at Veronica, who waved back. Ezra recognised the red-haired girl from several weeks before, who had approached him at the wrongest moment possible, and flinched. A quick glance at Ben told him that he'd recognised her, too. "Isn't that your almost-date? The one you told to study some law before harrassing you?" He could barely contain his laughter. Ezra rolled his eyes. "Sure looks like it is." Ben was just about to retort something witty when he spotted the host. "Oh, there's Simon! Simon, hey!" he called and waved his hand. A boy, who Ezra now remembered, was grinning at Ben and walking over. His short, blonde hair that was previously held in place with gel was surprisingly dishevelled for the time being only half past eight. "Hi," he greeted them, "so glad you made it! Ezra, I'm glad they took you along, I didn't have your number saved..." "Yeah, I know, thankfully we've got Benny for that..." Ezra replied, having a vague premonition of impending smalltalk. However, the conversation didn't spiral into a circular exchange of pleasantries - Simon seemed to be in highest spirits. "I actually asked a friend to DJ tonight but he dropped out last minute, so a few playlists I threw together will have to do," he continued, "I was actually really tempted to just have a Phoenix-themed party and blast their last LP all night - I love it! In fact, all I'm gonna do tonight is corner everyone at the bar and have them sit and stand and dance through 'Tutti Frutti' at least twice." Veronica nodded enthusiastically. "It's ear candy, literally - I've been looping it for days!" Ezra did share the sentiment, which he was surprised to realise. "I wouldn't mind," he said, "It's swoony as fuck."

Simon almost stayed true to his promise. Phoenix were interspersed with some alibi jazzhop tunes, enough to please the crowd, but mostly it was the sugary, dizzy sounds of the french bands latest opus. Ezra didn't mind, at all. Everyone was getting increasingly drunk, conveniently decreasing their talkativity. No one would come up to him and talk him into depression about their search for apartments, campus gossip and how the cinematography in the latest Marvel universe installment was actually really something (it usually wasn't.) Several drinks had taken their toll on him,too - his vision ever so slighly blurred, movements of people around him appearing smooth and flowing, not clumsy as they probably were in reality. Several metres away, Ben and Veronica were swaying to the music, holding on to each other, Veronica obviously for stability. She kept stumbling and giggling into Bens neck. Ezra looked out at the ocean. It wasn't bad, losing yourself in the moment every now and then. When everything - people, music, waves crashing - melted into one single bed of white noise he would sink in it. He loved it. It was people with their individual troubles that overwhelmed him, but when an abundance of impressions came crashing down on him, he relished the feeling - it blended out his own persistent, nagging thoughts. It was almost like postmodern meditation: make it too much of everything, so it can equal nothing.

At the bar, several bottles of wine stood untouched. Apparently, the student clientele wasn't very much into alcoholic classics, but Ezra studied the logos on the bottles for a bit. Beaujolais. He'd heard that before, but couldn't assign a taste to it or even remember whether he ever tried that wine. Perhaps today would be the day. Suddenly, he realised that someone was tugging his sleeve - the girl, again. Ezra looked down at her in confusion - didn't he put her off once and for all last time? Maybe, having stomached a decent number of cocktails, she had come for revenge. "Dude, I actually said 'Hi' like three times, are you dreaming?" She was smiling, like they were pals and not actual strangers with a more than just awkward encounter in the past. He was slightly perplexed. "Er, I don't know, haven't heard you - music's loud, etc. Hi." The girl - Tess, he remembered - leaned against the bar, seemingly pleased to have his attention. "So," she said. He felt cornered, like a wild animal behind a trash can in the suburbs, the local wine mom coming for him with a stick and shouting things like "I'll teach you to ruin my front yard...".

Ezra took a deep breath and ran his hand through his fringe. "So, what." "Well, last time was kind of unfortunate, if you remember... let's have a drink, maybe? You looked quite bored, so I thought I'd say hi," she said, playing with the straw in her glass. "That's very considerate of you, but I was just checking out the wine bottles, actually, so..." "Wine it is," she beamed, "which one do you suggest?" Ezra was suddenly very protective of his Beaujolais. "Er, I'm not much of a connoisseur. I don't know. Maybe the Riesling, or something. I don't feel like it though. How about you find someone to dance?" It wasn't that she was particularly annoying or anything - she wasn't. She was just like any other person, and he didn't see why he should follow protocol and engage in chatting and flirting that wouldn't lead to any place he felt any desire to investigate closer. The general public of his environment was often confused by his backing off of people whenever they approached him, but the truth was that, as bewildering as that reaction was to most people seeking acquaintances and company, he couldn't stand it: the walls of empty words moved around for what seemed like ages, all the uninspiring characters who triggered absolutely nothing in him. He wasn't arrogant about it, in fact, he was certain that most people were as uninterested in him as vice versa. He just took the freedom to act upon his feelings - he considered it a progress on his side that he refrained from physically shaking his counterpart, asking them what the hell they were doing with their time.

"How about a dance, then? This song is quite nice," the girl said, kneading her straw and looking him straight in the eyes. It was Fior Di Latte playing, seductively and terribly on point, had this been a movie scene. Ezra sighed. To hell with the niceties. "Pal, you really could do better than waste your time here, ok? I'm trying not to be rude, but it's not happening," he said, locking his fingers firmly around the bottleneck of his newly-found french mystery. She frowned, half embarrassed, half agitated. "But why? Literally, why won't you just give it a try? I don't usually clinge to people, you know, and just really wanted to get to know you a bit - that's it! Why are you so stuck up?" she protested. Some people nearby turned their heads, sniffing the delicious scent of drama. To this, Ezra would't cater for certain. "I am not stuck up. I wouldn't see why anyone should be entitled to anyone else's attention, I'm sure you'd agree if I was the girl," he said in a tone as neutral as possible. Tess crossed her arms in front of her chest. "You don't even know me, don't you think you could change your mind? Why can't we just hang out for a bit?" "Because I don't want to." "That's not a reason!" "It's a perfect reason, now will you please let me through. I've got plans." With the bottle in his hand, he slipped past her and made his way down the stairs, across the ground floor and out the doors, to the beach.

The promenade was a bit of a night club cluster, so even right at the shore, distant chatter and fragments of music were audible against the soft swish of the water. The night air was fresh, the sea a beautiful purple-tinged blue and Ezra was beaming. The almost starless night, the coolness of the wind, stray seagulls - he just let the sensations wash over him, basked in almost-silence and air, and realised he truly wasn't thinking anything. He wasn't analysing. He wasn't considering what to reply to anyone. He wasn't listening. He wasn't rearranging schedules, wasn't worrying about the next day - nothing. His mind was at peace. He opened a few buttons of his shirt, took off his sneakers and sat in the sand for what seemed like moments to him, but in reality was almost an hour. He only moved when the flood made the waves lap at his feet. Grabbing his shoes and the bottle of wine, he obediently retreated a few metres up, sat down again and uncorked the bottle. Beaujolais. It was too dark to properly judge the colour of the beverage, but it was definitely a red wine, though it seemed paler than he expected. A mouthful proved it was also fruitier, and less intense than it could've been. For that night, it was perfect. A breeze ruffled his hair. Soft white noise, the vastness before him, being close to something as pure and primal, and unbothered as the ocean was his oxygen mask in an existence that tended to suffocate him more often than not. He didn't harbour any hopes of being saved or healed by it, he was still doomed to be human, after all. But for now, he savoured the feeling. Slowly he sank into the soft, sun-dried sand that immediately gave in to his weight, and laughed quietly to himself, the sound of it drifting out into the night.

2017-05-25

26 hectopascal pt. 3

When he woke up from his fever-induced slumber, the sky had already darkened over San Francisco, but the clouds had dissolved. He groaned, shuffled a little in his messy sheets and realised he felt completely dehydrated. The phone was silent. Ezra reached for the plastic bottle at his feet with a faint hope it would contain anything liquid, but the bottle turned out to be empty and he had no choice other than to drag himself to the bathroom and the kitchen. The thought that he, the Universally Ungrateful Beast, probably deserved to develop a full-on head cold, lurked in the back of his head. That'd get his mind off his pretentious existentialism. He sighed.

When your bones feel like they're splintered and your skin is on fire, moving and walking isn't fun. Hanging over the sink, he threw a clouded glance at the mirror. His face was almost always unusually pale, but today a sickly yellow-ish tinge and rosy cheeks ruined the marble white of his skin. Not that he could care less.

The item that saved his kitchen - to use the attribute 'tiny' would already be very well-meant - was a plant with luscious green leaves in a yellow pot that hung from the ceiling. Against the background of little blue tiles and dirty dishes loosing their patience next to the sink, it saved the room from undirected chaos and made it seem like everything, mutinous as it may be, was still under the inhabitants control. It wasn't, though. Ezra rummaged through the cupboards feebly hoping to find anything of nutritional value, but apart from an expired bottle of ketchup - who even bought it, and when? Certainly not him - and a bag of letter soup he found absolutely nothing. He mustered the letter soup. This one he didn't buy either. Veronica did, after she and Ben had played around with his fridge poetry magnets. Currently, they spelled "no carps in this diem pond". He crinkled his nose at this fairly dadaist nonsense but didn't move the letters.

A cold shiver ran over his back. This was a terrible moment to get so sick. He had work to do and papers to write. He boiled water for both soup and a cup of herbal tea, determined to at least uphold the illusion of functioning, and wasn't soup magical when it came to colds, anyway? His kitchen didn't have a table, but it had a stool and about 15 free square inches of space, where he settled with a small bowl. Letter soup. My life is a letter soup, he thought to himself, a mess of signs that mean nothing, the possibility of a good stir ruining absolutely everything and, as a finish, the entire mess growing colder by the second. A sudden buzz almost gave him a heart attack. It was Ben again.

Ben 20:37
you alive? hopefully not out of aspirin again? junkie

Ezra ignored the message, staring out of the window. In terms of his appartment's view, he was very lucky - on the 4th floor of an old town house located right between two streets, he had the classical San Francisco panorama right before him whenever he glanced through either of the two small windows: two roads hurrying downhill, pastel colours, cafés, the beach somewhere always near, if you walked long enough. The sky was beautiful. An intense indigo bleeding into a wishful yellow tone. If he just weren't so miserable all the time, he could be happy here. He loved this place. "I can sort everything out," he said to himself aloud. Ezra's voice was hoarse. He pushed around letters in his bowl. Hello. Ezra. Help. Pls why. You're ridiculous, he thought. People would kill to be in your position. Eating a few spoons of soup, he picked up his phone and answered Ben.

Ezra 20:44
im good. well kinda

Ezra 20:44
will probably skip work tho

Ben 20:46
dang man but better get some rest than turn up there tomorrow and get everyone to hate you because you share your flu or whatever it is youre dying from

Ezra 20:46
haha



Ezra's laptop made a bubbly noise. It was sitting on the fridge from when he was watching a film earlier, and the Skype window was blinking. Ezra sighed and clicked to take the call. "Whassup, Benny." Ben's face popped up on the screen. He had curly, brown hair and an abundance of freckles all over his nose and cheeks. "Yo! Nothing, just wanted to check up on you, Hamlet. Have you got some food left? Veronnie and I could drop off some takeout, if you're interested. We're off to the cinema in a minute." Ezra shook his head. "Thanks, you guys got me sorted with a bag of letter soup the other day, so I'm well-fed and on my way to recovery. 'N stuff." "My bag of letter soup?" Veronica's voice off screen startled Ezra for a second, then she appeared right next to Ben. "Hi Ezra!". He just waved his hand briefly. "I'm fine, kind of, I'll better get some more sleep I guess. Today was stressful as hell, I was gonna get some shit done but I ended up almost passing out, it's probably a fever but it'll pass, I just need to sleep." Ben raised an eyebrow. "You sure? You look like shit, to be honest." Ezra nodded, winked at the pair and clicked the red button.

He wasn't doing too bad. He was close to waving university goodbye for good and, in the meantime, working freelance at a hip PR agency where people certainly did realise they were up to something with him. He should be thanking the universe. Something, however, was always nagging him. Even though opportunities came to Ezra every once in a while, they never seemed to be more than that: brief encounters with luck. He pulled a grimace at his own thoughts. When did he become so biedermeier? That's just the way things are in the 21st century, he thought to himself, you should've become a gardener or a baker, if you wanted a contract job and a schedule cast in stone. There were only two ways: come to terms with constant worrying, or just stop. Just ignore the toothache, it's here to stay. Was stability really the nonpareil gold standard for a happy life? Debatable, and how he detested himself for craving just a tiny bit of this meditative, elusive, magical stability in his existence. The unexpected email, assignment, appointment always came round. Things broke. Things didn't work out. Things that worked out didn't always have the best timing. His bank account wept silently more often than not. His folks had their own micro- and macro-disasters to take care of, that sometimes involved him, and sometimes didn't. All the people he was close with were tired more often than not, and by God, he was, too.

Ezra 21:16
i feel like 40 years ago you just had to float along The Great Stream to live your life, and now the world swims in the opposite direction and if your arms are weak its your problem

Ezra 21:17
people 40 years ago probably said the exact same thing about people from 40 years before that

Ezra 21:17
or probably they didn't because world wars I and II

Ezra 21:18
i hate everything
                                                                                                   
Ben 21:21
bruuh.

Ezra 21:21
i know

Ezra 21:21
i'll shut up

Ben 21:22
you're delirious. everything is glittery and fairy-sparkly and beautiful. cant you see

Ezra 21:22
SORRY i said i'll shut up. there. im silent. im sleeping now

He knew that Ben knew what bothered him, and he knew that neither of them had a solution. Somewhere someone might have found some psychoanalytic way to change people's perceptions of their experiences on planet Earth, but not him. Not today. He guzzled down the rest of his letter soup before it had a chance to turn completely cold, picked up his laptop and made his way to the bed. He wasn't intending to sleep, however, not yet. The room was just a few square metres, but Ezra didn't mind. He didn't own anything too much to clog up the place, and he was far from claustrophobic. If he propped up his pillows against the wall at his bedside, he could lean back and watch the city, and the sky. Before covering his pale shoulders with a blanket - he was shaking, and he could feel blood rushing to his cheeks - he pressed 'Play' on his laptop. Only recently, he'd made a playlist that Ben had described as an "acoustic hurricane of wistfulness in the evening sun", and Veronica had subscribed to it and shared it on Facebook, where it, absurdly so, gathered a large following. The varying progressions of major, then minor, then major chords again in the songs he picked did something to him, and apparently to other people, too. He savoured the sounds that tended to all his grazes, reassured him it's fine to feel the way he felt, and that he wouldn't necessarily be stuck with that feeling forever, and he didn't notice how he slowly drifted into a deep, dreamless sleep.

2017-02-28

26 hectopascal pt. 2


Everything will work out, eventually. One way or another.

2017-02-13

26 hectopascal

Even though the sky was grey and a drizzle was mercilessly making its way into the collars of everyone who didn't carry an umbrella, the streets didn't seem glum. It felt like the neutral background of wet concrete only made all the other colours pop. Flashy signs and ads were scattered all over tall office buildings with shops on the ground floors, and if greys and blacks prevailed in the stream of raincoats and jackets, they certainly didn't in umbrellas, which turned the shopping street movement into an almost psychedelic flow if you squinnied.

In this scenario, a young man was walking fast straight down the road, his movements stiff and tense, his black fringe wet where the hood of his rainjacket couldn't shield it from the persistent water and his face contorted in a way that most passerbys identified as extremely annoyed, and therefore tended to move out of his way. What the rain thankfully also hid were some rare, angry teardrops that ran a race against their peers from above on his pale cheeks. He had decided to walk home from running errands despite the fact that it would take him almost an hour, and in spite of the weather and the cold he had already caught several days ago and was inevitably going to worsen. He wanted to feel numb, for once. He couldn't wait for the moment the mechanical movements of his legs and the never-ending pattern of cobblestones in the old city centre beneath his worn out sneakers would dissipate his doubts, the pressure of everything, stop any brain activity in the area of thought in general.

Why did everything have to be this way? Why did everything have to be? Maddening, pointless, overwhelming. He was being bludgeoned by rules and schedules, by patterns and obligations. He couldn't breathe, for god's sake. When he'd get home, he would call Travis at work and tell him he was sick as hell. Croak something through the phone about the flu, give his thanks to everyone's phony get-well-soons and shut off his social media, bury his phone in the laundry basket. Nobody at work would understand if he told them. They thought he was doing well. They saw the dynamics, the frisson of his never steady perpetuum mobile job. The whirlwind of steppingstone projects he was involved in, they've heard, wasn't he? He was still so young, he was promising, surely everything was working out? Wasn't he doing well?

He cursed under his breath, sweating and shivering at the same time. The rain got just a little heavier, not enough to coerce him into seeking shelter but certainly enough to drench through the fabric covering his chilly skin. They knew nothing. Their day jobs were secured, but he wasn't actually working yet. He was just starting, hesitantly setting foot in the halls he hoped he could stay in, one day. He could be dropped anytime. They had no idea of his baggage. He had a goddamn hard time wading through the detritus of the human relationships he was entangled in. He technically had nothing whatsoever under his belt to gaze into the rosé coloured, gleaming bright future everyone thought was his to claim. His coworkers thought everything was peachy, and his classmates thought he should be the last person to worry about what was to come. But he was overwhelmed. And he was goddamn tired.

A red traffic light stopped him at a junction, and he found himself in the company of an elderly lady and a handful of school children. He glanced at them through the rain that kept getting stronger by the minute. They old lady was sporting a beautifully cliché umbrella with geese and kittens, suspiciously eyeing the children who were too busy catching pokémon on their phones to notice or care. God, how easy was the world when he was one of them. They were about eight years old, probably called Finn or Dustin or Max, hadn't done their math homework yet - page 28 in the book, multiply 23 by 114, why do I have to know how to do it on paper, when there's calculators? - and were going to spend the rest of today peacefully pursuing the Meowth one of them spotted on the map several streets away.

The traffic light just wouldn't turn green, and he was suddenly acutely aware of the fact that someone might be making up stories about him, too, in this very moment. Ascribing God knows what to his clothes, or that he carried no umbrella. His frown deepened, he looked over his shoulder to find a ginger girl in a puffy blue jacket looking at him. "Hey, sorry, I - I think - did, um, did you drop this?" He lowered his eyes on her outstretched hand to see a piece of paper that he recognised to be a museum ticket from two months ago, when he had, in spite of a terrible mood and a raging headache, dragged himself to the Weinstein gallery because they had been hosting an exclusive Chagall exhibition he wouldn't have missed if he were dead. Damned be his habit of never emptying his pockets, and of clenching and unclenching his fists inside of them whenever he was nervous. "Thank you," he muttered, swallowing half of this non-sentence and taking the ticket, then shoving his hands back inside his pockets and directing his gaze back to the stubborn traffic light.

It turned green instantly, he stalked forward but noticed the girl was keeping up with him. "Hey, sorry," he heard her chirp, "I was thinking, are you, er, heading anywhere?" He turned to her, bewildered, as he continued walking at the same pace. She was blushing but also beaming up at him, while trying to keep up with his strides. Oh boy, he thought. "Would you like to grab a coffee? I know a really good place, not far," she said, nervous as hell, evidently so, but looking determined. He absolutely didn't need this today. "Thanks, I'm good," he said hoarsely, not sure where to find the patience he would need to part ways with her without triggering the asshole department of his brain. She blushed a little more, clearing her throat: "Well, you might be better even, afterwards. Also, you run around losing your stuff, and I pick it up, I guess I might as well say you owe me, right?" He stopped. This was too dumb. He knew it was supposed to be a mischievous little line, nothing else, but what the hell. If he'd been the girl, everyone would scream harrassment. She looked at him, expectantly and fairly sure of her victory over his will. "Correct me if I'm wrong," he said, looking her straight in the eyes, "but attempted blackmail is considered a crime in these parts. Try looking it up in the civil code." He left her standing, baffled and probably weirded out, and sped up a little to disappear in the next subway station. Hades' realm, he thought to himself, right where I belong.

Later, when he had changed out of his drenched clothes and fallen face down on his bed, his phone vibrated inside the laundry basket where he had, true to his promise, placed it upon returning. He ignored it. It vibrated again. And again. And again. It wouldn't stop. It gave of a series of little buzzes for over two minutes. He groaned and shifted on the bed hoping to sit it out. Silence spread in the room, and just when he sighed it started over again. He lifted his head, glared in the direction of the pestering little sound and basically fell of the sheets in the most inelegant way possible. His head and back hurt like hell. He was definitely getting sick. He pulled aside t-shirts and sweaters in the basket, only to see a billion messages crowding the screen, from the one person on the campus he himself would call a friend. 

Ben 17:34
omg ezraaa you absolutely brilliant cold-blooded bitch you hahaha

Ben 17:34
"try looking it up in the civil code" my ass hahahaha

Ben 17:34 
i love you my man

Ben 17:34
i wish id been there

Ben 17:35
ezra

Ben 17:35
EZRAAA

Ben 17:35
helloooo have you gone into hiding again

And several similar texts, including a chain of emojis, gleamed at him. He texted back.

Ezra 17:40
i dont find it that funny. howd you know? i didnt see anyone around there

Ben 17:40
people know you, hamlet, and people talk hahaha

He cursed quietly. He'd been miles away from the university, in the south part of town, so how on earth? He could already sense a web of petty gossip and intrigues unfold in the cloud of modern campus lore.

Ezra 17:41
srsly. who did

Ben 17:42
just kidding, no one was there but this girl who tried her luck is actually taking some of the classes you take

Ben 17:42
and she happens to be friends with people who are friends with veronica

Ben 17:42
which resulted in veronica texting me a flood of OMGs and OMG BENs

Ben 17:43
thus, i am informed of the opportunity you decided not to take today in the most dramatic way possible hahahaha

Veronica was Ben's girlfriend and only just bearable when she wasn't jumping all over him with personality makeover ideas. He was 97% sure she was going to end up as a life coach after graduation. She even had a matching blog. His phone buzzed again.

Ben 17:45
i can hear you gritting your teeth pal

Ben 17:45
at the universe and the common, lowly human craving for companionship and warmth hahaha

Ben 17:46
ive seen pictures tho, she wasnt that bad, actually pretty good looking. dont tell veronnie i said that haha

Ben 17:46
maybe you could use some distraction from brooding all by yourself

Ben 17:47
whatever it is this time, itll work out buddy. i dont know for whom it will if not for you

Now he was, indeed, gritting his teeth. He was shaking a little bit, something very close to anger welling up. Pearls of sweat were on his pale forehead. There it was again, the assurance. He knew it was usually well meant. Spoken with familiarity and affection by those who cared about him, with slight annoyance by those who knew him superficially, and sometimes even with jealousy and a certain air of personal defiance by those who really should be worrying. But that wasn't the point.

Nothing ever worked out automatically, for anyone. Anything could happen at any given time. This wasn't some shabby talent show. This was life. He just didn't understand why everyone spoke and acted like they couldn't wrap their heads around the idea that it was the process of doing things that killed him on a daily basis. The inevitability of observing cause and effect gnawing away at every action he took, of being responsible for simply everything. Being neurotically aware of this responsibility with almost every breath. He lived his life with the tension of a harp string - ready to collapse upon impact and tear down everything in a radius of 50 metres. He knew it wasn't the only way to carry the torch of your existence, he knew it was probably sabotaging and undermining everything he did when he was calm and focussed but that was the state of affairs.

Ben 17:51
i know you hate when people say that

Ezra 17:53
you know i dont owe anyone normal behaviour

Ben 17:53
i know

Ben 17:53
and tbh im kind of flattered to have figured out how to deal with you anyway

He couldn't help it, the tiniest of smiles crept on his face. Ben wasn't as plain as he always made himself seem. Ben had mastered the tightrope act, he had his cake and could eat it, too. Casual and unfettered on the outside, attentive as hell, sharp and flexible on the inside. Ben knew something about the way he, Ezra, functioned and he let him be. Ben was okay with him coming and going, okay with him not replying to messages for days, okay with any abstract shenanigans that wasn't exactly in his lane, but he didn't mind. It was nice knowing someone understood something.

He was feverish. He texed Ben that he was getting sick and that he would go to bed, and threw his phone back into the pile of shirts as it buzzed again. He sighed, defeated, and picked it up.

Veronica 17:59
hey

Veronica 18:00
ben messaged you right? you man of the law haha

Veronica 18:01
tess lowkey hates you now and shes super self conscious and she actually told everyone in the girls' lacan class whatsapp group

Veronica 18:01
can you believe? like wow, how petty is that and totally weird, i mean why would you message that around? but the other girls kinda gladly jumped aboard the gossip wagon

Veronica 18:01
ya know, someone approached the enigma himself haha so they gotta do some analysis

Veronica 18:01
i am screaming at the fact you didnt even recognise her (did you? bc she said she thought you didnt)

He shook his head. This day was crazy. He went back to his mind game of someone viewing his life as a story. He was fairly certain he would either make a marvellous book character or an incorrectably shitty one. His head felt like it was splitting in two, and every new thought or sensation was over the top. He lay back down, like a broken bow, and typed one last message, before finally giving in to his rising body temperature.

Ezra 18:03
i didnt. god, i thought at this part of my life i was supposed to be surrounded by people with a certain level of maturity. but who am i to complain, its probably just what i deserve

2017-01-10

lmao=lamenting my anguish online

I'm really into light indigo these days. I miss writing stories, but I also feel I'm out of words. It seems like there's still an abundance of ideas and even sentences in my brain, but they're all gone the moment I sit down with a keyboard. God, it's annoying as hell.

I think I came here to say something, but now it's gone.

2016-11-21

nite rides


Evening and nights trams are easily my favourite place to be at my favourite time. Whenever in a tram at dusk and after, I get a feeling of direction, a feeling of having a goal, since I'm either heading home or going some place exciting, or productive, usually. Whatever the result of this movement to either place, I feel like Something Is Happening. Stagnation is what I dread most, and since I love to let myself be seduced by mere concepts at any point in time, night trams are my concealer for whatever hole I might have fallen into. Night trams bring hope, nostalgia and a sense of living to me.

To no one's surprise, I fell in love with this song a while ago, so here's a cover by me and my brother.

2016-10-03

the point(illism)

They had put quite some effort into claiming their sunny spots in one of the few gazebos overlooking the little lake in the middle of Quinnsbury Park. For an hour they had been lurking around it, waiting for an elderly couple to leave together with their slightly obese dachshund, to run inside and sprinkle as much of their belongings around the place as possible to avoid the invasion of exhausted park runners, pensioners and school classes on trips with their overly eager biology teachers. They did so giggling and breathless like two primary schoolers who just snuck out of class a heroic half an hour early. A group of middle aged nordic walkers graced them with long, disgruntled looks before moving on to find an empty gazebo, or at least a bench without someone already feeding pigeons on it.

His contribution to the artifical chaos was an old, brown leather bag, two enormous bottles of soda and a stack of library paperbacks that was rather impressive considering the fact that he'd carried them outside his bag, balancing a tower of old, stained paper beings around crowded park walkways. She had brought several large sheets of thick cardboard, acrylic paints, water, a set of brushes and a museum guide of a Monet exhibition that was almost a decade old. She leaned on the rail figuring out a good spot in the park landscape to turn into a painting, while he picked up one of the book, only to place it in his lap and let the fading autumn sunlight wash over his features with his eyes closed. She was enthusiastically skimming the guide.

"I really can't wait to get started, even though I have a premonition that I will fail spectacularly," she said, propping up a cardboard sheet against a pillar and laying out her colours and whatnots. His mouth twitched into something akin to a half-smile. "You're like a preschooler right now, all buzzing and eager, and in an hour you'll cry noisily about how it turned out completely different from what you expected." She ignored his teasing, knowing he'd probably turn out to be right - again - and started painting. "I gotta start some day, I mean I wanted to try impressionism for ages now, and I think that's one type of painting I could actually master. It's more mellow than, say, expressionism and it's oddly satisfying to keep dotting the paper. My goal is to forge van Gogh's sunflowers one day."

He chuckled. "Keep that criminal energy coming, it suits you." She threw him a dismissive, albeit still good-humoured look and started painting, but he didn't see it - his eyes were still closed, and he was so completely still in the sun that if the breeze didn't move his hair a little he'd resemble a wax figure. The book in his lap remained untouched for at least an hour, and she only looked up from her cardboard and the landscape every now and then as if checking whether he was still there. She wondered whether his back didn't hurt as he seemed to arch against a pillar of their shared gazebo in a rather unnatural fashion, and whether he was actually asleep, even though she didn't think he was. This was of enormous interest as she kept allowing herself to indulge in the contrast of jet black hair and porcelain skin he happened to display on himself, and she wanted to avoid him catching her staring at all costs.

The painting was turning out weird. She placed careful brushstrokes side by side trying to create texture, but if at all, the trees and the lake looked like an awkward, sloppy kind of pointillism, rather than the swirling dynamic of an early impressionist she was trying so desperately to go for. Her annoyance started to show on the cardboard, resulting in even more misplaced strokes, until she angrily put the brush aside and let out an exasperated little noise. "Well, I definitely see something happen there. The artist started their work conscientiously, carefully, until their temper got the better of them," she heard him say. "Not quite what the goal was, but true art nevertheless." The irony wasn't appreciated. "Oh, you're impossible! Seriously, sometimes I wish someone would punch you for your self-righteousness, and I hope to God it won't have to be me, with my tiny bicepses," she almost hissed. But he only smirked at that, because just as he took the freedom to be cruelly insensitive, he didn't mind people being insensitive to him. "I sense outright aggression! Don't restrain yourself, the cardboard is your playground!" he exclaimed theatrically, moving out of the way of leg aimed at kicking him in the shin. "You suck," she grumbled, turning away from him.

He watched  her back with a grin. "I'll buy you ice cream," he suggested amiably. There was no response. He took on more comfortable position to sit and watch her trying to save what could be saved. "You know," he said after half an hour of silence, "that's what people are," nodding at the painting. "What, passive aggressive failures?" she asked, still slightly peeved. "Nah," he replied, looking at the little dots and smears of colour, "impressionist paintings. You don't ever get what you see, if you start looking closer. It's just dots, and dots, and between the dots, there's nothing." They sat in grave silence for a minute, the only noise being the swoosh of the brush. "Aren't you the optimist," she said finally. He sighed. "Come on," said, running his hand through his hair and standing up. "Pack up your stuff. Let's have De Daumier-Smith have his blue period and give it a rest for today. I'll buy you ice cream." She crinkled her nose. "Who's De Daumier-Smith?" she asked. He didn't reply.

2016-09-04

its late

She knew by the first bite of baked sweetcorn and the shiver she woke up with in the morning after sleeping with an open window. When clouds had quietly changed their shapes from cotton balls to feathers, and when the scent of the air at dusk had begun to tug at something in her chest - that's when she knew that summer was over, and even if it hadn't brought her particular cheer she would be missing, a mellow sadness crept into every inch of her as soon as the sky changed its promise of bright and harsh sunlight to that of sparse, apologetic and farewell-bidding rays. As she did some modifications to her wardrobe, getting out a few sweaters, she figured it wasn't so much the summer fun she'd be missing - she didn't harbour any romantisised notion of a Summer Dream as teen culture and western capitalism had established it firmly over the course of decades - but the distinct taste of passing time that suddenly became more palpable and alarming. However quietly this feeling dispersed, breathing became more difficult nevertheless and as ever so often, just sinking into the ground, crumbling after an unnoticed petrification, seemed so much more convenient and sweet that coming to terms with the fact that yes, time has passed again.


2016-09-02

a letter to J. D. S.


Dear Mr. Salinger,

you probably wouldn't be particularly dying to read anything like the following, but since you made Holden love the idea of just talking to the author of an appreciated book, I will be bold and write anyway - it's not like you can do much to stop me or just shake your head in disapproval of such an irrational endeavour since this letter is either six years or a lifetime too late.

As embarrassing as this is, Mr. Salinger, the point of writing this escapes me since the recipient is eternally unavailable and the content of the letter in question is thoroughly chaotic, albeit as sincere as can be. After spending yet another several days with the Glass family instead of everything else I should be doing, I am harbouring a vague necessity to tell you something - what exactly, I do not know. Yet, I intend to keep typing until all the peculiar little thoughts I had whilst watching Buddy Glass's belletristic home movie return to me.

I am deeply impressed, Mr. Salinger. It may delight you to know that, in my excitement about your writing, I had decided immediately to dedicate my MA thesis to your protagonists as examples of American existentialism, but I withdrew from this plan in horror after researching secondary literature on your short stories and discovering that critics are oh so stupid. Why are they so stupid, Bessie? To have someone I have never met, driven by scholarly narcissism and normed education, ruin a thing that struck me like thunder in its honesty and accuracy? Nay, Mr. Salinger. No academic paper shall ever be written by me on the subject of the Glasses, since doing the opposite would result in estrangement of newly found - who, in fact? Soulmates? Best case scenario. Role models? Flawed ones, but yes.

It's very funny you should mention people thinking they're "a bunch of insufferably 'superior' little bastards" because even if you shove it in some critics' faces, that they are, in fact, not; some won't listen and bemoan literally this alleged insufferable superiority as the major flaw in character design. In the first decade of the 21st century, mind you, well over fifty years after you've proven them wrong through your story, if only they had read it with an open mind. At least that is my opinion. I am, however, perfectly aware that this opinion is dismissable for various reasons.

I just need to tell you, Mr. Salinger, that I found it refreshing as hell that someone dared to create characters whose troubles lie deeper than the average man's, and chose not to focus on those who modestly hold up a credible level of naivite and false compassion whilst still giving lessons, thus appeasing the common, nervous reader: no, my friend, relax: I am not above your level in any way. No, Mr. Salinger, you dared to create brilliance without a deus ex machina scent, you made Seymour and Buddy and Zooey, who are ideal and restless, nevertheless, and too aware of the snares of self-absorption and narcissism to display any of the two without self-reflexivity. Once upon a time - just hear me out - I made up someone not quite far from Zooey in his properties, for a story of mine, and a lecturer thought I should give him more to worry about - "how about some trouble with a woman?", he suggested. I couldn't comprehend how he could miss the point of this character not having such a problem at that particular point in fictional time, of not dealing with anything that could be easily resolved by me, the writer. I am, unlike you, probably just not as talented a wordsmith to convey someone like that unmistakably.

I am absolutely certain you would object to a comparison of Zooey and this character of mine, and you'd be right - so far, I am just admiring, not quite comprehending what fell into my hands with your stories. Ideally, I will, someday, but for now, let me just thank you, Mr. Salinger, for providing perspective, solace, hope and rest. For yet uncharted reasons, I felt quite at home in that East Seventies appartement, and reassured by the words of wisdom coming from a certain Zachary Michael Glass.

Sincerely,

me

2016-07-18

ficus no. 2

He looked around the room with a sigh, as if to assess the situation. She was sitting on her bed wrapped in a tartan blanket and side-eyeing him like a dog who chewed up a carpet when their human hasn't been watching. It was a sunny day, and the pastel colours of her place could suggest serenity if it hadn't been for the shadows around her eyes and a puffiness he was already familiar with from previous encounters. There were children's books scattered on her bed, her laptop rested right next to them displaying several tabs of football match moments on YouTube and "Mrs. Robinson" was blaring out of small speakers in a corner. Apparently, the player was put on loop because the song ended and began again right away. Dust particles were dancing in the air to the music.


He drew a deep breath and she watched him with the same guilty expression. "So?" he finally said with a huff, crossing his arms and leaning against a shelf. She shuffled in her tartan. "I'm fine," she replied and it sounded very much like a threatened porcupine raising its quills. His mouth twitched a little to almost show a half-smile, almost. "Yeah, sure you are. Determined, working on your life, focused on all the great things to come, aren't you." He knew he sounded harsh, but he also knew that it was exactly what she needed - anything more pitiful and compassionate would have her throw a fit, probably, or worse - burst into several minutes of crying she'd be utterly embarrassed by at the end of the day.


"I am." she said, almost offended. "Well, I'm getting there." He did not bother to keep a straight face anymore, raising his eyebrows and grinning widely. "Interesting, I'm just at a loss a little here - what could anyone possibly be up to with a bunch of kid's books, football and late 60s folk rock..? Is that film script inspo, or performance art..." She rolled her eyes, and he mentally ticked the situation as a point past any imminent moments of hysteria. He was a master of his art. Any art actually, and he knew that she knew. "It's therapeutic," she said. "I'm having a bit of a... I'm... You know. Life, and shit." He picked up one of the books, and turned it to read the summary. "You're blanking everything out again, aren't you." She looked out the window.


And here's to you, Mrs. Robinson, Jesus loves you more than you will know.


"Yeah. I need it. It's getting too much again. I need a break. I've felt out of place again, and so alone. I need it." He nodded absently. She watched him. The otherworldliness would never leave him, whatever exactly it was. He put the book back where it was.


Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio, our nation turns its lonely eyes to you.


"What's up with the football videos?" He sat down on the bed, too, and cautiously picked up her slim, small laptop, clicking through the tabs. "I had no idea you were into that?" She shrugged. "I'm not. Not really, at least. I like some aspects of it. These people dedicate their entire lives to it. It's a physical thing, and this physical thing extends to a mental thing. They're so upset when they lose. They're literally children. It's like watching children react to something, and they're so happy when they win. Just look at that." On the screen, the national team just scored the first goal three minutes before the final match would be over. The boys were beaming already - exhausted, sweating, barely able to run, but so, so happy. "It's so untainted. Primal, almost, because they're too drained to pretend, too weary, and too emotionally invested. So I'm borrowing some of that happiness." Their eyes met briefly and she felt a dizziness return, as always when that happened. She gave up on trying to understand why. "And the books are a time travel, aren't they." A sad nod from her. He looked at her for a minute or two, like someone conducting an experiment, waiting for two chemicals to react. They didn't.


Hide it in the hiding place where no one ever goes.


"And the song?" he asked finally, playing around with the hem of the tartan blanket. Her reaction was a barely noticable shrug. "Though there's a funny story to it," she said, "years ago my sister bought a CD from some buskers in Italy, and they had covered that song. I was only 12 or so, and I absolutely loved it. I had no idea it wasn't theirs, and the most hilarious thing is that it said 'amplification prohibited' on the disc, and I didn't know English well enough back then to understand what it means, so I had absolutely no doubts that it was the band's name. I literally only realised why they wrote it on there years later, when I stumbled across that CD again." He beamed at the thought, and she at the memory. "You can file that under time travel, too, I guess." Her features hardened.


Look around you all you see are sympathetic eyes, stroll around the grounds until you feel at home.


He didn't say anything, still looking ahead pensively and now she looked him up and down. Quite the sight, frankly. "You know," she nudged him in the shoulder, "I wish I could paint. You'd make a superb subject." He looked her right in the eyes, and there it was again, the vertigo. "A friend of mine is a painter, I think I will pay him to track you down and follow you around for a week, and make a series of portraits without you noticing." He smiled. "So much effort." "So worth it," she replied. The song went into the chorus for a billionth time that day. He got up, took her hand and almost dragged her off the bed, so unexpectedly that she lost her blanket and almost fell over her slippers on the ground. "Come on," he said, swirling her around, dancing a few steps. In her vision, the room started swirling too, again.


Koo-koo-ka-choo, Mrs. Robinson, Jesus loves you more than you will know.
God bless you, please, Mrs. Robinson. Heaven holds a place for those who pray.
Hey, hey, hey
Hey, hey, hey

2016-06-27

pep talk


~Me to myself~

1. Okay, okay, I get it - life is hard. It's a goddamn bloody chaotic mess most of the time but 7 billion people around the planet are somehow coping and you should, too.

2. Remember how shitty things were some time ago? See, you made it past it, so why not get to grips with life in its harmless stage?

3. You had the opportunity to intern at a magnificent place, the people were wonderful, they didn't hate you and you have actual WRITTEN WORK published in an actual PRINT MAGAZINE, you gathered experience, you realised it's exactly what you had always hoped it would be. And of course it's a tough job area, it's not easy to actually get employed and not work your skin off as a poorly paid freelancer, but you MADE A START and that's something big enough for now.

4. There's not much uni work left. 1 1/2 term papers, an exam and your master thesis. That's doable. Go kick some academic ass, gurrrl.

5. You bought new running shoes, you're gonna enjoy going out for a workout once in a while. You can do this, you fat piece of lazy ass. (just kidding. you couch potato)

6. The quicker you get all of your uni work done, the faster you can go and actually do what you found out you like. Right? RIGHT?

7. WRITE THIS FUCKING BOOK. You've got the characters. You've got the story. You made seven zillion notes about random ideas and side characters and quirky shit to incorporate, you've got this. YOU CAN DO IT.

8. Your cat likes you.

2016-06-22

the less i know the better

I fucking ADORE this song and I hope this illustration/ animation does my feelings justice.