Tuesday, March 10, 2015

03.10.15 | In the Style of D.J. Waldie


After construction at the gate finally finished, the campus seemed like a scale model. Carbon copy street lamps and newly planted trees stood straighter than soldiers as the road stretched across the campus. We were plastic figurines, all features obscured, travelling about. Used to the root-lifted pavements, we tripped on our feet on the flat brick floor.


Our house was on the corner of the intersection, fenced off by a hedge that was not there in the preview video from ten years ago. The house itself was built 98 years ago and has undergone renovation a number of times to attract students. In this run-down neighborhood a distance from campus, it took a lot more to do so. We chose this house at the intersection but some still called it the “ghetto house”.

A European fountain sat in a corner of the yard but it never had water. The renovators left it untouched. They came one morning without warning to repaint the house and re-landscape the yard. We’ll just be working on the outside, they told us. Don’t mind us.

And at the end of the day they were gone, but the house had a blinding new coat.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

11.01.14 | Apophenia

The universe is trying to tell me something, she thought, when she finished her shower gel and shampoo on the same night. The bottles sighed pomegranate and mint when her fingers embraced them, but they oozed no fluids—they were dry. Empty.
Both of them.
This is rarer than cosmic alignment, she thought.
It’s like— like emptying a jar of peanut butter on the same sandwich as a jar of jam.

And three days later, it happened.
She did not have time to wash the jars before work, so she left them to soak in the sink. She did, however, have time to make coffee and discover that—of course—the lone coffee filter remaining in the carton would contain the last of her coffee ground.

No doubt about it, the universe was definitely trying to tell her something.

Everything’s dying.
In pairs.

And I will die alone.

When predicting a series of coin flips, one typically would not predict more than five heads in a row. The coincidence would be too absurd.
But when a coin is actually flipped and yields ten consecutive heads, people flip.
Statistically speaking, any permutation of such binaries would have the same probability. Heads-tails-heads-heads-tails is just as likely as heads-heads-heads-heads-heads.

That was what she told herself.

Assuming a fair coin, at least.
Coincidences aren’t supposed to mean anything.

The next morning, two doors down.

He held his milk carton vertically over the bowl, and shook it slightly, examining the white beads as they fell. The cereal crumbs that had been at the bottom of the bag now floated at the top of the bowl, trembling as the milk drops struck the surface.

He blinked.
Finishing these on the same day—what could this possibly mean?

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

04.15.14 | Blood Moon

I used to see the sky as a ceiling. I was on the Earth, the ground, the world. The moon and sun were just passersby in this skylight window.
But seeing the blood eclipse today—my first eclipse—my perception changed. I imagined the moon there, and the sun behind us, behind the Earth.
I am science-literate. I have learned about the solar system in school and I understand how it works, how there are planets and planetoids revolving around a star, and how moons revolve around these planets. But I never realized how ignorant I was to the astronomical implications regarding the human condition. (Pun not intended.)
The idea that we are now standing between the moon and the sun is profound to me. I stood on the Parkside lawn and looked up. The sun was no longer out there, above our heads, but directionally beneath our feet. But that would be the wrong perspective. "Beneath" implies that I am the center. I am not the center. We Earthlings are not the center. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that our feet are pointing toward the center of not just the Earth, but also the sun and thus the Solar System.
The universe is magical and I am glad to be here, even if we are just "tiny specks on a planet particle".

Saturday, January 18, 2014

01.18.14 | 算命

In Chinese, fortune-tellers are known as calculators of fate. Every person is born under a specific alignment of stars. The fortune-tellers read this. Each canvas of constellations is mapped onto the fetus, forming its skin and skull. The ridges on a palm or the arch of an eyebrow can reveal much more than a résumé.

Friday, October 18, 2013

10.18.13 | Memory

She sits like a man on the bench and leans back, exhaling ghosts into the night. A clang jerks her head upright. An old man is rummaging through a nearby trash can. She watches him fish out a paper wad and open it. His eyes light up with excitement. He gorges on a half-eaten burger. She closes her eyes, and when she opens them again he is gone.
At night the man in the tattoo whispers in her ear. Do not forget the morning I left.
Her diary had been reduced to ashes, some of it blown away by the wind. But her memories stayed. She never forgot. She never will.
To her, “the end of the world” is not an exaggeration because the world ends when she does.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

08.27.13 | [Untitled]

Dull orange intoxicates the night,
Casting ghosts on walls
And in pavement cracks.
We too were once ghosts,
Whispering on purple rooftops,
Bathing in moonshine.
By daybreak we donned our skins
And slept.
But one night we lost time—
Dawn cracked without a sign,
And morning swept us away.
When I looked again,
You’d vanished.
I now haunt empty streets
Searching for your solitude.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

04.24.13 | Roads Diverged

I took a different route home today and passed by the architecture school. Students were outside sculpting things and, although I could not see their faces clearly, I knew they enjoyed what they were doing. (I knew, at least, they had a passion for art; otherwise they would be doing something else.) I only realized then how much I missed my high school art classes and my old art club. I wondered how different my college life would have been if I had chosen to pursue a degree in architecture or design instead, if I had chosen to turn at a different corner.
But I didn’t turn there, despite my long-lived ambition to become an architect, and despite having walked practically everywhere else. I had set off first with the aspiration to save the trees, but I was reluctant to take chemistry—I did not wish to play God in an artificial utilitarian utopia, operating on assumptions regarding particles I cannot see. At some point I was in pursuit of the truth behind human behavior and cognition, but I rather liked keeping the truth of my own mind a mystery. One road I turned onto involved numbers, laws, and dollar signs, but the road was so well worn and so bland. The system that governed it was too bureaucratic for my cynicism, so I spun around and left. Still lost, I still chose not to do major in any visual arts because I refused to be quantitatively evaluated for my imagination. Ironically I eventually chose to study narratives, a course of study that also requires quite some creative ability. I told myself it couldn’t be too bad, because at least there are only so many combinations of the twenty-six letters and punctuation of the English language (unless you are E. E. Cummings). There are no such mathematic restrictions in visual art.
But it turned out that I had been viewing everything too functionally, despite my distaste for such systems. I told myself to stop thinking in terms of probability and conjectures. Consequently I told myself to pretend, to imagine, that I had not seen today’s route as a different route and had not wandered off on so many tangents.
Today I passed by the architecture school, and I saw students sculpting things outside. The birds in the branches were warbling, and I, too, felt compelled to write a song about myself.