Landlord has started painting our apartment building. I discover this sporadically, noticing the sudden changes, and never see his workers. Ugly strange patterns in garish colors, dappled sponges (like in the ’90s). I have to find him and complain, having this lack of control and this poor taste is unlivable. Usually he doesn’t do much work — and usually we don’t even complain about serious stuff. But before I can get him, I peek out into the entrance hallway and it’s transformed by a second coat into a surprisingly acceptable if bland two-tone blue.
A couple teenagers steal a bag of UK Pound coins. They dash haphazardly out into the street and spill it on the pathway of a public park, inviting everyone to grab one.
An advertisement navigates down a scenic but underdeveloped street in San Francisco, a slight slope with scrubby greenbelt on either side. Though the ad substitutes a silly marketing phrase, I eventually imagine looking to a street sign and recognize it as Jones from my time as delivery man. I picture what a single land plot would be, snug perhaps, but the kind of multi-level house that would be built in SF would accommodate several people. And it’s a few long, long rows.
Inspecting my art aquaintence Colin Fahrion’s collection of old banknotes. Ones from Bolivia, Brazil, others. In their pleasant little folios they have a fine canvas texture, yet seem to feel like tragedy, as if they bare the weight of political events long ago that they could’ve changed. Beautiful, cursed money.
It’s the end of the day and I’m in the living room of my communal apartment closing up shop for the night. I stand waiting near a fridge in the wall saying goodnight to roommates one by one. I wave the door open and closed as our director (perhaps someone we just call “the director) walks past. He looks like The Dude from The Big Lebowski, and I apologize because I realize I’ve been wafting cold air into the room this whole time.
My crush comes in and asks a question about our group video server, specifically where she can put some nostalgic TV for sharing. She also asks about the name, which is something like “Pontecruff”, derived from pontiff + scruff. I give her friendly instructions and offer to make the name easier to remember. But also I confess that the functioning server was set up on the last router we had and by now the correct config is probably buried.
Waxing poetic, we reflect that the server should give you a feeling like the smell of a box of plastic VHS tapes. Dusty, familiar, a smell from another time, a collection of things you might not remember but know you want to keep.
In a hallway of a home I share, someone has left a piece of art pinned to the wall with a burning stick of incense. Left unattended, the art’s image has been burned into the wall paint. It has the feel of a traditional East Asian woodcut, the impression of elegant architecture clinging to a foggy mountainside. I’m annoyed that I seem to be the only one responsible enough to avoid this kind of damage, annoyed that I’ll have to clean it up to get our security deposit back. Yet it’s a unique print, a unique story, and the image can remain as something contemplative until we do move out. Who knows when that might be…
I awake in the night and realize I’ve just had some dream with Dara. Though not remembered, I’m pleased to realize it — their mere presence being a good sign.
Walking back from Mission Street, the main street in my neighborhood, I spot the panel of a lone phone booth that might still work. I idly start wondering about how many of those used to be around — how I’ve witnessed the changeover during the relatively time I’ve lived in San Francisco — how not long ago, wherever I was on the street, I’d have a mental map and know exactly where the nearest payphone would be. I also idly wonder how much it would cost to get one installed as a novelty, say in in a rich person’s backyard.
On the way back to my apartment I take a rest, laying down in the mouth of a slide, gazing at the sky while my waist is through the middle of part of a clothes hamper. I ponder the bemusing question of what time of year it’s best to arrive in Antarctica: the 6 months leading out of winter, or the 6 months leading into it? I have a playful argument with someone unseen about the sacrifices I’ve made going to Antarctica when I did (worth noting: I haven’t actually been to Antarctica).
I get up from my rest, floating above the trashed out grass-overgrown parking space, noticing as a car pulls in that I forgot part of the plastic hamper which I wear around my head. I float down to nab it quickly as the rumbling car takes the space. I’m dressed today in an aesthetically-pleasing purple velour lapel shirt, worn underneath a pair of white overalls shorts. I look glamorous. I recognize that with my pretty long hair this is what someone would probably call a “femboy” look. Meanwhile I’m already late for an exercise class I occasionally take at 2:00 pm to the north near Potrero Mall. I’m not worried about being late, even though at this point I either arrive in the middle of class or miss the whole thing. I remember that the hamper hat (that I just picked up from the ground) has in its brim an empty glass bottle; I decide to store it on the balcony of my apartment. Floating up to the landing, it’s been recently replaced with a metal grating and is still packed with disorganized chairs (a short bamboo one, three rocking chairs of two different types), etc. Realizing I can organize it slightly differently, I pull a chair or two into the sideyard just beyond. The sideyard is narrow, with a fence of prickly pear cactus, exercise equipment which came with the place, and a view of the Latino neighbor’s wide lawn just beyond (despite being on the third floor). This is the second place owned by our landlord where my wife and I have lived, having made the decision to move out of the Fartpartment a few years ago — while making a deal that we still get to visit the old place now and then. But the reality is that this new place is much harder to get nice, there hasn’t been an organic long-time progression of acquiring stuff and finding a place for it. This place has a backyard, it’s a better layout, but it’s been months or even years and it still feels like we’re moving in. It’d be nice to visit the old place again soon.
Twilight in a round mid-sized stone cathedral, an art show of one girl’s work is displayed in every direction at eye-level height. I find it enthralling, wanting to know more.
Back in my own building, the grubby ground floor apartment of the girl includes a living room half open to the outside, cute little plants on the exposed basement walls. Her sideboards in the disused interior still have the landlord’s old stuff such as 80s radio scattered about. Next door (in apartment #306?) where the landlord’s family has just moved in recently, it’s a lot less grubby than expected, like an 80s nightclub in a mall — colored plexiglass panels, plush diner booths, knocked out walls — a multi-level living space big enough for the family not to have to see each other.
My wife introduces me to the girl who made the art, repeating her name like a Pokémon. We really hit it off; before I know it I’ve been pimped out and the girl is making out with me.
A twisty beige ground-floor office in the process of being decommissioned. As a stop-gap measure we often lock things in place so they don’t move — for example, a log in the hallway, or a heavy military-style desk made of enameled metal (like something I’d see on old Fort Ord during college). We’re setting little plants out on the exposed retaining walls outside, going back and forth down the unlit hallways even as someone pulls up in a red sports car outside, looking for someone I don’t know.
In a rolling almost artificial landscape, unfinished-looking, grid-like. Myself and a few associates are trying to get to a power plant I now own. In our way is a locked gate and barbed wire-topped wall abutting a rocky outcrop of a hill. Trading property here is like trading cards, and I only recently acquired the power plant (sight unseen) from a Mr. Burns-type character.
Landlord showing apartment next door to one little black kid, representing his family. Landlord elected not to finish the bathroom in the middle, which is huge, and has at least two working toilets for every person who could live there. One in particular sits in the middle of the room near the courtyard window and has had it’s stall walls removed. You could use it as a chair now.
At beginning of night, I’m watching a video while sitting back straight upright in a chair. The video is of two rust-colored puppies playing amongst matching red rocks, while it rains. Val lies on couch. I’m half-lucid and think I’m actually asleep on the living room couch (I’m in bed).
I get up to go to the kitchen. At the bottom corner of the kitchen table a tiny cute spider emerges — followed by a tiny scorpion. As soon as I notice it, thinking I should warn others, it incredibly quickly scrambles across the floor, up my body, and to the left side of my neck.
I wake up, my heart pounding, and remember to set my sleep tracker.
Skin writing is used as apunishment on someone suspected of human trafficking, marking them for later.
A dog-sized cow is acting menacingly at the property line of my childhood home, just at the edge of the neighbor’s lawn. I walk all the way down the street trying to read its dog tag, with no real plan how to make it go away.
Discover I’ve moved in together in the same ground floor apartment as some people I know in real life, but mainly from Twitter — KC Crowell, Feral, all Oakland peeps. I myself am an observer, but unusually, one with an identity — a hovering presence dwelling mostly in the rafters, where a glowing horizontal level divides my space from the everyday living space. The easily discerned border of the ceiling has curved buttresses, marking its construction in the early 1900s. On one section of old wood paneling, I spot a poster advertising old-timey glassware, lab glass perhaps. My roommates begin reinstalling some authentic hand-blown stained glass fixtures, decorative colored filigrees that have been in storage for almost a century. The landlord likes the residents so much he was convinced to let them haul it out from storage. The square ends of the curvy abstract forms fit perfectly flush against the buttresses.
My wife and I are sitting in our living room when a sudden noise shakes the wall overhead. A 4-in nail has popped through and knocked off one of the top row trading cards, the same like the arrangement in our apartment’s hallway art gallery. My landlord has been renovating the apartment next door for weeks (this is waking-life true, actually). I angrily walk down the hall to give him and his crew working next door a piece of my mind. He opens the door and as soon as I start describing what happened he pretends to act like they did it on purpose — despite one guy down the hall yelling “hey I’m sorry”. In response I act like I’ll helpfully go measure exactly how many inches of nail are sticking through the wall, so they can measure it from their side, possess an accurate perception of wall thickness, and not do it again.
While we stand outside on the balcony, an older sickly-looking interloper shows up who starts stealing the conversation away, acting like they’re trying to empathize but only talking about their own problems. They’re abruptly standing in the apartment next door while my landlord is standing in mine. Normally I suppose I’d be sympathetic, but instead I turn to my landlord and ask “who the heck is this?” He just says “someone annoying” and I’m simply inclined to agree. There’s nothing to do but let this energy vampire drone on and try to avoid them.
I’m standing in a long winding line on the street here in my neighborhood, the Mission District. I went out to buy a case of beer, Pabst Blue Ribbon, for like $23.99. The line moves surprisingly quickly, but it’s split up into a few sections that complexly join into one. The lines’ purpose is labeled only at the penultimate merge, so of course it appears I’ve gotten in the wrong one and should be in the $19.99 and above line. Right about the final merge I look and see the entrance to the store, just another neighborhood corner store that happens to handle particularly high volume right now. The place only allows one or two customers inside at a time, and it’s upstairs through a single doorway — the place I think is called Boban Vervinsky. Exasperated, I realize in this unnecessarily crowded line that I’ve had my mask around my neck the whole time.
Some unannounced blonde attendant (who’d otherwise be pretty cute) starts blithely giving me instructions from behind my back, that I can’t hear, don’t understand, and don’t want. The stress and crowding involved are too much and I give up, throwing my items on the ground toward to store, flipping off the clueless unhelpful attendant on the way out.
This leads to a short back and forth where I’ll see someone I know on the sidewalk giving the middle finger, like Courtney K., and I have the great timing to give them the middle finger back. I’m getting in flipoff doubles, at some point I feel like I’m physically throwing flipoffs… all in a cinematic-quality slow motion montage with scenes bouncing one to another to another. (It reminds me of another dream, where I first learned to double-middle-finger the whole world around me like Rick Sanchez on Rick and Morty.) But the chain is broken when there’s a girl, Morgan or Megan, with long dark hair over her eyes who doesn’t see me gesture to her.
Not about to stop acting free, I set off running down the cracked asphalt streets of my neighborhood. I run like a big cat, galloping on all fours. While doing this it’s like I’m narrating my method to some unseen flirting female observer riding along with me. I start running on just my hands, floating my legs up for more speed and maneuverability. It’s at this point the observation strikes me that this is the kind of locomotion I’d choose to do if I were dreaming. The dream rapidly breaks down; I wake up with a sharp inhalation and a beating heart.
A search of the name “Boban Vervinsky” has no results at time of writing.
Donald Trump’s existence suggests an axiom: the higher the getting, the bigger the dark side.
Being hosted at some guy’s elaborately-decorated stylish apartment, white walls and expensive décor, a congenial upper-middle class bougie gay dude. He gives up his bedroom per my request. In the middle of the night I’m awoken and think I’m being visited by a group of raccoons, but it turns out to just be a few of his cats.
Later, I think it’s happening again so I stay asleep. Yet slowly I realize that in the bedroom with me are a whole menagerie of apes, macaques, zebra, even a giraffe maybe. This is his personal zoo, something he acts like I should be impressed with, while he himself acts nonchalant. It is (I admit) bizarre and impressive. Doubly so with the apartment’s trendy Instagrammable Pinterest-y surroundings.
(This is midpoint of my night’s dreams, which I remember when I wake up earlier in the night — for real — with some insight into my own progressed technique into the writing of dreams. Yet I still don’t wake up to take notes on it, worried I might not get back to sleep…)
In the classroom of a middle school, which feels near the coastal location of my University. I’m my current age, hanging out in bookshelves behind the rows of desks observing class, but I pop in occasionally, keeping tabs on the teacher and mingling with students.
A class lesson: “what’s wrong with this cream cheese recipe?” I personally think they added lemon juice, or didn’t use real cheese. Moving past, the teacher calls on me, somewhat jokingly. Nose in a textbook, I respond mispronouncing ‘book’ like ‘boooook’. She responds in the same joking tone that we’ll name our next lesson’s monster “Orin”.
I abruptly notice that a green starfish kid in the front row has suddenly developed injuries consistent with exposure to a contagion we studied in class. Teacher has also noticed but is playing it off so as not to alarm the students; I don’t do so well hiding it. We help get the student out. Afterwards I take time reflecting on it in the bookshelves.
I return just a bit later, but class appears to be over for that year. Instead, the room is occupied by a choral group of young kids, 4-6 years old, in flowing robes with hoods, singing what could be a Buddhist funeral dirge. Their parents wait behind them to take them home, some breaking down crying. It’s obvious the starfish kid didn’t make it.
Jolted, reminded of life’s brevity, I set aside time to enjoy hanging out with one particular girl I like who reminds me of a fun redhead I knew in high school — Sam Promenchenkel. She’s quite taller than me; my head reaches just under her armpit. With a group we stroll along a stepped boardwalk away from the school. On the way I’m goaded into doing a scooter trick up some stairs, and manage to leap all the way to the second-to-last step, where I do a little bounce and make it all the way up.
My cousin Betty is with our group, skipping away ahead of us toward her wife. She seems so happy and excited, I’m very happy for her, though I watch her get further and further away.
We get to the ocean and do tricks leaping into the surf on scooters. Someone brings up how left-brain-focused people will typically veer to the left and miss their mark on the waves. We practice crossing our eyes, water streams squirting from our pupils, trying to get the streams to meet where we want.
Departing from a short flight between San Francisco and Oakland. Other passengers are paranoid about a bad weather landing, but I’m not worried as its just a short hop.
Then, a lengthy wait for my baggage at baggage claim. I’m able to go back directly to my apartment, living with roommates where I have a single room crowded with many years of collected cool stuff; ephemera, curiosities, art. The walkway of my room has taxidermy mounted on the walls around the door — so much you have to duck around it. I keep a key hanging from a nail on the back of my door, but I realize that in all the years living here none of my roommates have even asked for it.
I see my walrus girlfriend, too. During a conversation with her I go down the hall, admiring some items in a glass-fronted curio cabinet, noticing the small tusk-less walrus skull I own locked inside. I pause and consider her reaction to learning about it, but honestly don’t have a clue.