2017-10-13

the ghost

Though he'd never been a bon vivant, Ezra had never felt as much as a ghost as he did these days. He worked, went out if he had to, talked. He sat in trams, smiled absently at cashiers, and replied to messages but all of it felt unreal. Actions on his part were reduced to an absolute minimum. He moved as little as he could, fueled no discussions. Just like people imagine spirits moving among the living, barely heard or seen, he mostly read and watched - messages, books, blogs, people, movies. When someone joked about him "finally leaving his cave", his smiles in reply were weak - he knew better. Ezra took his cave with him, wherever he went, existing in a half dormant state, watching the world around him move like Plato's shadows. He felt like he couldn't perceive anything without adding extra context - reality needed to be turned into film, or the pain of it would be overpowering.

He quietly and carefully added a score, wherever he went, his headphones being his surreptitious little conspirators. It's just a movie, Ezra, they seemed to whisper. There's a plot. It'll end. Never looking to the sides, his eyes were a camera, carefully choosing and framing what he needed to see: concrete beneath his feet, the hesitant, abstract movements of his fingers as they performed their mundane tasks, pressing buttons, grabbing things. He added subtext here and there - light was never just light, it was a mood, a mood he liked to think set the tone for everyone who happened to stumble into the shots his mind created continously. 

His presence was elusive. He went to one place yet it felt like an entirely different one, almost automatically. Events had to be turned into filmic moments, composed, controlled. Everything redundant had to be edited out mercilessly. Even to himself, Ezra felt like he wasn't there, like a bodiless artificial intelligence, unable to piece himself together to a simple human being. When did the mechanism stop functioning, he wondered as he forced himself to stare at his reflection in a shop window as he waited for a bus. When did he become a ghost, created of denial and numbness, dissociated from the person he was supposed to be?

At a time like this, he greatly appreciated diving into real films and books. They meant that someone elses mind was at work crafting and plotting, weaving a soft story bed to sink his restless mind into, to forget. He'd noticed caring more about the concerns of fictional characters than about his own life, and although that positively couldn't be healthy, he relished it, bathed in the absence of himself in his own story.

Not all was well, though: His alternative universe had to be computed 24/7 and the powers of his brain were getting exhausted. There were times when he almost blacked out in the middle of a street, simply because he was so thoroughly fatigued by thinking, and thinking, and thinking. All that processing was getting too much. But just like an old computer, he could do nothing but shut down shortly before overheating. There seemed to be no way out. Somehow, through all this imagining, he had gotten so out of touch with his human self that it seemed lost to him. There were moments when he realised that hours had passed and he didn't remember what he had been doing all the time.

One day, ultimately, he couldn't remember how he'd found himself sitting on a bench outside in the pouring rain, with his eyes closed, feeling absolute quiet, like some higher power had scooped him up to check what the hell was wrong, why ezra.exe had stopped working. The rain was overwhelming. Water splashed down from somewhere up above, smashing onto the bare skin of his face, soaking his hair and clothes, awakening his senses to the perception of pure physicality. He was, indeed, made of flesh. He felt it. The water almost hurt, in a fantastic way. The ghost in him had retreated, not trying to make sense of the rain, and all that was left in Ezra was the realisation that he existed, he was someone you could see, and touch. A material being, there was a chance for him to make it out back into the material world; a human with a name and a body and a life to live.

2017-09-15

untitled #24

You're leaning against the crash barrier in a street you've known and romanticised since you were six years old. The air is cool but not cold with a light breeze, the scent of a chimney having been lit a couple of houses away filling it and you're acutely aware of the fact that summer is over. This is the first time in months you're wearing a jumper during the day. You look down at your battered trainers and the whole situation - the street, the cold metal of the barrier, your shoes, the fact that it's autumn once again - makes you feel like it's 2002 and none of the things that scarred you have happened yet. Every now and then you remember a theory of temporality that you think you've heard of, that says everything in time happens at the same time, in different dimensions, and instead of time progressing, the dimensions progress. Something like that.

You remember it fondly whenever you miss being a child, thinking that somewhere, you're still running home from school with your Batman backpack. Right now, at the crash barrier, you feel like a glitch put you back into the universe at the beginning of the new millenium, and you dare not move, scared the feeling will go away. Thought by thought, everything seeps out of your head. You don't think, you don't hurt. You're completely still, drinking in the view of your shoes and your knitted jumper and the cobblestones at your feet, and the street winding down between pretty houses, as long as the universe still lets you use your seven year old self's eyes. The chimney scent smells so divine in the newborn September air. Then your phone vibrates and the magic is gone.


2017-08-27

untitled #23

She was rummaging through her drawers, not looking for anything in particular, just looking. Jesus, how much stuff had accumulated over the years. Memorabilia from school years: her journals that were supposed to contain homework and school-related notes but ended up full of stickers and scribbles and doodles and the occasional funny teacher quote; the really good tests, or the weird tests that she had wanted to keep to remember the heated discussions afterwards ("Did you know what the hell was up with that poem? What did you write? We never did that kind of stuff in class before, why would she give us this weird shit for a test??"); favourite pens and pencils that reminded her of a time when she loved glittery pink Hello Kitty items; photos she had taken with her old film camera of a class trip to a disused coal mine.

She sighed. Here, in this room, was most of the evidence of one particular human having been around on this planet for quite a while now. Her eyes were on the book shelf. Wasn't it curious that you could trace a persons entire life back to their deepest childhood if they kept a tidy book shelf? There were all the books with huge letters and short stories and poems and lots of pictures that her five, six, seven year old self had learned to read with, the childrens books her eight, nine, ten year old self had devoured countless times, back when her schedule had allowed for finishing a book and starting it over again, and again if it was really good. There was "Robinson Crusoe" that she had read a million times at thirteen years, fascinated and disturbed by the idea of building a life all alone on an island scavenging from ship wrecks.

There were Goethe, Schiller, Fontane, and the most terrible book by Musil, "The confusions of young Törless", that she had to read for class. There was "Homo Faber" by Max Frisch, a novel she had never had to read but had found it in her sisters school book shelf when she was way too young for it but bored, so she had read it nevertheless, remaining moderately appalled that writing something like that was, apparently, ok in western civilisation. There were books that bore the "remaindered" stamp, great books for just a few bucks because of a random scratch or stain on the cover. Finally, her university books, mostly novels, some that she had read thoroughly for a term paper or exam, some that she had skimmed through only to know what was up for a class. Several books that she had bought years ago but never even opened because there hadn't been time for them. Soon she would have the time, she thought.

Her hands had changed. Slightly bonier, more visible veins, no more bitten fingernails. She would never pick up her beloved "The Thief Lord" with soft, small, rosy hands ever again. Her gaze wandered on and paused in the mirror. She knew that for most people, she still passed for a teenager, with her round face and big eyes, but she knew better. Her skin had become patchy, with prominent dark circles around the eyes, and slight creases on her forehead from raising her eyebrows too much. She stared herself in the eyes, trying to remember if that was how they looked when she was eight years old. "Jesus," she said to herself after a while, "you're gonna stare at the face of a tired, bitter adult in the mirror for the rest of your life."

2017-08-09

roofing

"I hate talking about myself, and I hate when people ask. Gives away too much. I don't know."
"Really? I thought everyone loves people to be attentive, to care about getting to know you and stuff."
"Not me. I'm happy to be a supporting actor in the public eye. I want to be the person at the party everybody only knows the first name of, nothing else."
"Edgy."

The view from the rooftop was breathtaking. There was something magical about electric light shining warmly from countless windows against the backdrop of the cool colours of shadows on the concrete towers. They had brought two beverage crates from the party to sit on, she had sunk into someone's giant borrowed hoodie and he'd draped his own sweater over his shoulders. The breeze was not unwelcome, though, after sharing the air in their friend's appartment several stories lower with at least 40 other people. An array of cigarette butts around them indicated they weren't the only ones taking advantage of the buildings sloppy caretaker who had a tendency to forget to lock the door after checking on the gas units on the roof.

"Where'd you wanna go from here?"
"Like, here, exactly?"
"Silly. Just, life-wise. What's your plan?"
"Good question. I don't really have one."
"None at all?"
"I don't know."
"Well I wanna pitch some of my animation stuff to a couple studios. I live for it, I swear. I've got no backup plan, in fact."
"Aren't you scared?"
"Sort of. I try not to think about it, though. What about you, don't you have that one thing you wanna do?"
"Sort of. But I'm not much of a self-marketer. I don't really believe in success, anymore. So far, I feel like I'm doomed to be average in anything. Jeez, that sounds miserable. I don't want to sound miserable. I'm just through with over-excitement and expectations that life won't meet."
"You don't seem like average to me."
"That's what everyone says. Facts speak for themselves though."
"What facts, may I ask?"
"I don't know. I can't seem to find an audience for what I do. And no employer, it seems."
"You're only just starting out."
"Come on. I'm not. There's people half my age who do better. I always end up giving these comparisons, which I shouldn't, I know, but it's true. There's not always happy ends to stories. Sometimes people just live a bland life searching for what they can't have, and just quietly fade away sans pomp and drama. I'm starting to think that I'm one of those."
"I don't want you to think that. Even if that is the case, it's nicer to live your life hoping for something."
"I know."

They sat in silence, only faint beats from the party and the noise of cars occasionally driving past in the street down below creating ambient noise for their tiny private function. The wind grew stronger, clouds moved faster. Timelessness had cradled both of them in her hands, slowly wiping thoughts of the future off their minds. The feeling would be fleeting, though. Soon Greg and Vanessa and Chavi would come up there with cigarettes and drinks, and the sun would set, and darkness would make the window look even more homely, and a feeling of comradery with all of humankind would quietly bloom in their minds upon the sight, but time will have returned. Life would be a riddle again.

"But holy shit, it's difficult," he said.


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.