Slim streams of pale grass are irrigating the brick farms here, pulling minerals from the earth to grow these heavy crops. Fresh-grown brick is a newly discovered delicacy for the golems, who have lived for so long on tasteless gravel and cinderblock.
From this far up it looks like a modest little overgrown patio, but these vast acres of brick will feed several golem cities, and the tireless muscle they lend in return is well worth the effort when winter comes.
the tiny desk blues
I woke from a dream an hour early this morning, and once the world had stabilized I was compelled to write it down, swiping the words into my phone and feeling surprisingly lucid for how tired I was:
Went to some class about computer engineering and we just talked about Slack’s branding. Their name was a portmanteau of the founders’ unlikely names, and we talked about the cultural significance of waffles and the hash mark. Archaeology students worked on the decaying building immediately behind the outdoor lecture and one of them dropped her notes into our class by accident.
Bought a new motorcycle and inexpertly drove it towards home, making the engine overheat several times and occasionally drifting into the opposite lane. I had difficulty deciding when to shift between the 3 gears, and would sometimes try to pedal it as if it were a bicycle. When rain fell from the trees I tried to catch it to cool the engine, and it hissed when it splashed into it.
Rolled through downtown Berkeley, where several friends from high school were taking part in some outdoor sleepover event. Couches were laid out on the sidewalk and full of people in conversation, and blankets lined the street itself. I rolled my motorcycle onto the blanket before I realized my mistake, and got off to say hello and carry the bike somewhere better.
Just about everyone was angry at me, bitter and silent, and not because of the motorcycle. Jacob wouldn’t make eye contact with me, and Adam Miller wouldn’t say a word. Only Ben and Leo and some strangers would speak to me, and Ben or Brian mentioned how some public letter from Michelle had done a number on my reputation.
A girl I didn’t know asked about the motorcycle and another asked about my fit bit, and I felt guilty for having enough money to buy these dumb unnecessary things when my friends were getting by on so little.
I had some brief conversation with Leo and another person, who said some other person was weird. Leo and I started to get into an argument about what it means to be weird and I said that if we were just going to talk semantics we wouldn’t have that conversation.
I was standing behind a couch that Jeff was sitting in, and he also refused to speak to me. He muttered something to someone next to him as a message for me, and without looking in my direction passed me my old Hello book, which in this dream was also one of the Draw Something books. Michelle had got ahold of it somehow and distributed it to denounce me. I looked inside, and all the signatures in the inside cover had been removed, leaving only the words that mentioned me. Many people’s pages had been censored in this way, making the book seem like some strange egoistic creation of mine. When I came to Michelle’s page I found that I had pasted over her work with something typed out by someone else – some offense I had done long ago, that maybe lead her to do this.
I started to wake up here, and the reality of the book slowly dissolved. With eyes still closed, I tried to explore the book further, but it was artificial now, and Michelle’s motivations weren’t there to understand anymore.
There was a lot of nonsense in this dream, but it felt unusually cohesive, and the way I felt interacting with people – the nitpicky conversation with Leo, that economic guilt about my gadgets, the dread that I had somehow wronged Michelle – were so much more grounded, felt so much more real than what I’m used to in my dreams.
I woke next to Laurel and she was sleeping heavily, but Zinky was making his rounds on the bed. Once I was finished writing he burrowed into the blankets between us, and slowly tunneled through them all the way to the foot of the bed. It was dark and I was hardly coordinated enough to photograph him properly, so here is an anonymous fuzz-shadow receding into the blankets.
And so our bonus day off was a little holiday indeed: sleeping late, eating fruit and bread and cheese, playing games all afternoon. Laurel is hidden here behind her game, where she’s playing matchmaker for every soldier in her legendary army. Zinky is just about asleep next to me, all four of his paws piled together in a single bundle.
There are many things to do when morning comes, so sleep well.
I feel I have a duty to introduce Berkeley visitors to the pizza we treasure here – both Zachary’s and Cheeseboard, the two primary pizza forces that make up our world. Cheeseboard is closed on Sundays, sadly, so after climbing I suggested Zachary’s to Michael and Christina, and we looked around at the fan-made posters while we waited for our pie.
Climbing and lunch out make for a fine Sunday, and Laurel’s return from San Diego makes it even better. Tomorrow’s an added gift for us, and we’ll likely laze about the apartment emphatically.
Kari and Valle just graduated, and at their party today Pearce and I were treated to some lovely conversation with their friends. I occasionally fiddled with my lens cap, wondering when an unobtrusive photo opportunity might arise, but no one set themselves apart to perform some spectacle for the rest of us. I had to detach myself from the conversation for a moment, step back and let my camera click in an unsubtle way, and in so doing break the ice that obscured my lens.
Following that I explained my project, which has become a part of introducing myself. Pearce went on to shower my photos and writings with accolades, and I could only grin and bear the assault of compliments he had for me.
I want to somehow characterize the people we met today, but my mind is slipping toward sleep, and these words will only become wispier with each passing minute. Valle showed us his new black widow, who moves in a fluid and eerie way and was just beginning to weave her web. Kari was sweet, and so happy to see everyone even with the post-graduation shift taking place in her and Valle’s lives. Her friends, Johanna and Emily, are sharp-eyed people full of curiosity, wonderful to talk with on a sunny Saturday evening.
It’s picnic season now, so hopefully we will have more days like this soon.
I used to come to this park when I was very little. It was different then, with a concrete sandbox in the back corners, and no synthetic spider-web for kids to creep on. When I returned from college I discovered that it had changed since my time there, and now the place is being torn down yet again, so that another generation of kids will have their childhood playplace replaced by something new. I feel like a sort of grandpa to the toddlers who will come here next, when the new new playground is built up.
For how many people has this place become a blurry childhood memory? Who remembers it the way I do?
I believe in you
We took a long lunch today to commemorate Xiao’s transferring from another team to ours – something like the workplace equivalent of a marriage feast. On the way there I kept staring up at the buildings, wondering at the personalities their architecture conveyed.
The facades of these skyscrapers are all just masks, of course – the lives inside are hidden completely from the street.
The entrance to the restaurant was plain and innocuous; we were met by a welcome desk, who pointed us to an elevator, and the eight of us stepped into a dark box to be carried up to the next floor. The air of both floors was heavy with incense, and we left the sounds and smells of the street behind when we walked to our tables.
Inside I felt like we were standing in a bottle, or a starship in interstellar space. The walls and ceiling were black, and broad ribbons of blue light lined the front desk and bar. Fish-scale bars lined the windows, and outside, down below, the world was still carrying on its busy city life, silent to us.
Each of these skyscrapers is full of microcosms – it feels so different being on either side of the glass.