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112721

brown lipstick residue on dab pen (battery everlasting), stoned at the reception, crossed @ the sangeet, Prada perfume for the function. My home outfit— XL pale blue modest mouse tshirt, greasy tangled hair, black velvet loose pants from when I was a kid, knees scuffed, hand-me-down diamond pendant on a gold chain. I wonder if you can be a sexy hag if you still have a dad. Feel like no…

112021

a series of hours in Denver with darren for ganja white night at red rocks. I thought ganja was fine, sort of cringe, the last night was the best set. 10 minutes into truth (who I had literally flown from SF to see) the power in all of Morrison, CO went out, and we sat there, peaking on acid, with thousands of other people, in front of a dark stage. the only saving grace was our 24oz coors banquets (my new favorite beer, because it tastes like soda) which we sipped on gratefully, trying to figure out what to do with our energy and attention. when the power came back on they went straight to ganja, and I tried not to be too bummed and instead channeled my feeling into detached amusement. the previous night I inadvertently took way too much shroom chocolate, more than darren, and missed the Widdler because I was tripping too hard in the bathroom. I was grateful to nikita for taking care of me, if only for the brief 45 minutes I didn't have a handle on myself, and cherished the fact that having such a time-tested friendship with someone, even if it is long past, means that they don't leave you naked tripping balls in a public bathroom. as I sat there in the Southwest-sponsored atrium, head in hands, I contemplated life for a bit, sure that anyone with less experience would not have such a sense of humor about the matter, and would be having a way worse trip than me—mainly I was concerned I had altitude sickness, because my hands were tingling and I couldn't breathe, because I was wearing way too many layers, one of which was a skintight Uniqlo heat-tech turtleneck. note to self—wearing restrictive clothing while tripping is a no-go, no way around it. when I stripped down to my naked body in the stall and unsuccessfully tried to make myself throw up, I felt a little bit better, because if I were really ill I probably would have thrown up, or at least fainted. the crowd felt so overwhelming, I felt totally ill-equipped to handle going back in, and told nikita to just leave me there to die (or at least til I could call an uber home.) it was nice having someone in doctor school around—it comforted me when I asked nikita, 'do I look healthy?' and she gave me the funniest look and said 'what? yeah of course,' it convinced me it was a little all in my head. anyway, when I made it back into the crowd for ivy lab, I felt like a bona fide stud, like I had emerged victorious from a battle, like I had confronted death and won. it was like I had risen from the ashes, like a phoenix. I even hit the dab several more times because I felt too sober, weird. anyway, no more shrooms for me at shows, I can't imagine why anyone would do such a thing when acid is just so much better. on acid I do feel a bit more self-conscious, particularly about the way I look, but nothing a bandana mask can't fix.
Denver is kind of a strange city, I can't really place it. lots of coors and blunts...no masks, really...seems like a city where you need love. I think I would feel a little desolate there without it, or at least without intimacy. somehow San Francisco I don't feel that so strongly, or even in NYC despite the cold. maybe it is the coursing erotic energy of New York that makes me feel like you don't necessarily need love there, there is so much else to pay attention to. SF surely doesn't have that same energy, but somehow I feel that living there without love is really OK, there is so much beauty, much to do, and the weather is pretty nice, you don't miss it so much, maybe it's like a perennial spring. perhaps Denver would be different in the summer, but in an unseasonably warm November it did feel like it had a sadness or a loneliness to it that I couldn't place, I was happy to leave. we met a guy who worked at our hotel—Jeremy, he told us silly stories about working there and also was so generous, he gave us a ride back from red rocks on Saturday night and we went to some afterparty in a loft. everyone was doing ketamine and they seemed sort of like us. we saw those people the next night, too, ran into them at the show, crazy. after ganja came on sunday night, we were still tripping, so we walked along the road 2 miles into Morrison, me in my pashmina, darren in his cloak, like vagabonds from a strange land. we made better time than the cars, and ended up at a bar with a lot of Christmas lights, and it glowed red, it was so beautiful to me. the bartender was flirting with a patron, we observed with awe, thought—is this how they do it in the real world? not by swiping on apps, 2am in bed? local Morrison oldies went up to sing karaoke, but soon enough the bar was overrun by wooks like us, who went up and rapped Eminem while everyone came down slowly. we went outside to smoke a j, and I sank into a chair, feeling like a mirror held up to the world, no interiority there. maybe that is my calling, to be such a mirror, the eyes of the world. maybe it was the acid, but I felt a centrality that others could envy, like the world existed only to be perceived by me, turned into words or art or something or the other. I sat in my narcissism with a kind of languor, and thought about what a gift it was to be 23 and alive.
after returning from denver, I drove down with my mom to Los Angeles, she wanted to see some museums before our wedding in laguna. the Getty was grand and stately, and I criticized it as wealth propaganda to my mom's unwanting ears. we admired the holbeins for their attention to detail, the rembrandt and rembrandt-adjacents for their proportion and scale. the next day we went to LACMA and the broad, lots of art to fit into one day, then I had my writing class later in the evening, which I took from our room at the four seasons in Beverly Hills.
I felt an inescapable loneliness there, listened to bladee on my Bluetooth speaker. fished around in my backpack for it, amidst my myriad possessions, a bag of Cheetos, Vaseline and my Prada sunglasses. I felt like a caricature, listening to sentence and hotel breakfast, gorging myself to extremes on prime rib, chardonnay, uni and caviar fettuccine, sea salt ice cream, smoked salmon on toast, amaretto cheesecake, arroz negro with squid, green-tea-infused vodka, trying to fill some void inside me until I finally threw up in our hotel bathroom, knees to the ground, felt ill with profligacy and extravagance. like finally I was getting what I deserved, from God, the lesson being that you can't binge away your pain, eat your feelings, spend to hide. it reminded me of the night at palette when we got too drunk on krug and I threw up our whole tasting menu in the bathroom stall, serves me right for having no self-control, my just desserts. somehow it seemed to feel right though, of course this is how to do it, at least if I throw it all up I will be skinny...my dad used to say after the first bite it's all greed. I am greedy, so greedy...
at dinner my mom and I got in a drunken conversation about the ways I was mistreated in childhood, her face took on a solemn expression and she became quiet, she apologized and the moment felt surreal, fictional...later in bed when I thought she was asleep, she turned to me and told me I was very strong...

111721 (sound poem)


Ex mess, tex-mex, deus ex
machina—DM stress, messy sex, seminal wreck.
Mellow yellow trawler flies 2000 miles, westerly jaunt,
skip-hop-jumping a continental
United States. Empty schwa, inverted straw,
belligerent field of grass. Forget! Forget straw hat,
dry meadow, grey stairs of escaped Seder. We sat in warm embrace.
Serendipitous serotonin uptick, reuptake, reuptook
from East Hyde Park to Little Village, Frisco to Wailea, Estes to
Salida. Ay, ¡Salida! La salida está ahí. Leave quickly, si quiere sentirse feliz...
They say blonde mop brings nothing but trouble,
nothing but trouble indeed. Kept FedEx address, a final caress,
my presence blessed, I guess. Repress contest, depressed undress,
bottle of Hess, latex to digest the regret. Then sell the rest—
no penance left to expense, I tried my best.

111621 (listening to the world)

a practical stranger walking beside me who keeps prefacing with 'real' — 'my first real relationship', 'my first real breakup'; my tentative, gloppy steps down a muddy path that there is a sign saying not to go down; the sound of my fingers click-clacking on my keyboard at a trained 140 words per minute; always, now, my grandma's oxygen machine breathing in and out; the low end missing on car bluetooth speakers, but high trebles and mids; the painful silence waiting for a follow-up text from a former date; the opaque chatter of a crowd during the intermission at a concert, but also the specific conversations happening to my left, right, behind; the perilously strong and loud wind up in the mountains at red rocks, arriving on cue to enhance a build-up to a drop; the consistent hum of the fan in a hotel bathroom, muffling the quieter sounds of showering, peeing, and doing makeup; the dramatic tenor of Jeremy, who works at the Warwick, as he tells outlandish stories about finding stashed baggies of coke and loading a corpse into a body bag in 607; the small beep of the card reader that lets us into our hotel room, 604; the perverse tick-tock of the clock in my childhood bedroom, which has always driven me crazy; my voice out loud, I guess, which a date said was decidedly 'not neutral' in the way I thought it was; the faraway sound of planes overhead in the night sky; the deafening white noise while a plane is ascending into the night sky; the same sound but through my noise cancelling AirPods, distant and faint, but still present; the friction-y click of a lighter in darren's hand as he lights up a j; the driving house beats coming out of the PAs to our right at a DJ brunch in LoDo; the whomp of the bass during wobble rocks, stronger the closer you get to the stage; the faint sound of water rushing as my mom turns on the faucet on the other side of my bedroom wall; the dull rush of freeway traffic on 880 some hundreds of invisible feet away; my mom's stressful and frantic inflection as she yells at me to pack my clothes for the wedding, barking quickly and intensely, with a higher pitch than normal, and a melodrama to it all.

111121 (image portrait)

a waifish girl with stark features, maybe 17, stands in front of the northbound BART train, warm springs/fremont line. hair whooshing in the wind of the arriving train, long, to the hips, with a fierce undercut that belies some hidden angst, a personality not to be fucked with. sunglasses on head, always disappearing in their clothes, such a small-framed figure, feminine but almost juvenile in its delicateness, like a 5'4" twiggy. their stance is casual, nonchalant—looking past me, bored, with an unwavering aloofness, a bona fide ice queen. no man would dare say a word to them—they give the fierce impression that they're not afraid to to make enemies, not capable of people pleasing. but somehow this affect affords them a curious magnetism, one totally un-purchasable, un-obtainable by someone like me. their stance in front of the train brings to mind the casual manner with which they would walk right out of Safeway with a stolen bottle of wine, no one the wiser, and we would return to their car, always littered with books, receipts, disorganized in a characteristic way, which they would drive me around in with reckless abandon, no care for longevity. they had different hair for different phases of life: at some point, it was short like a boy's, bleached light blonde, not so dissimilar to guy fieri’s. they'd pose for my unrelenting pictures, smoking a Marlboro against the dry summer hills, glowing gold in the sunset, my forever muse. in elementary school, their hair was always tied back in a silly low ponytail, shiny, especially in the light streaming through their tiny childhood bedroom's only window. now, dark, jet-black hair, sometimes greasy or unkempt in the light, cut short, like a mullet, shrouding a thin, piercing-laden face, so ivory, at times even sallow, and deep brown eyes that could pierce through any and all bullshit, as if only they were privy to the secrets of life, too smart for their own good. their eyes have always been sad, not for any particular reason, but always in general, as if it was moonlight, not sunlight, that nurtured them into adulthood, gave them their daily Vitamin D. the way these eyes see the world feels to me colored by some ever-present melancholy, or disillusion, but always with a remarkable capacity to appreciate beauty, specifically that of nature, but also that of relationships, or love, or that pesky unifier of shared experience. at times, those eyes felt deadened—in the depths of drug addiction, a severe depression the extent of which was unbeknownst to me at a fragile 18. but those glazed-over eyes soon recovered their vitality, and I remember them gazing out the window on the way to Mendocino with an undeniable awe, free from any detachment or cynicism, if only for a brief moment. now, their eyes are almost always alive, if solemn, especially glowing around their spirited pup, with a deep and innocent love, or when discussing magical realism, or postcolonial literature, ever brilliant and quick-witted despite all the trauma, past but never forgotten, like the train we just missed.


110721

impressions from the last few days: k'ed out on a wednesday, sitting on the couches on the carpeted upstairs at temple, listening to underwhelming ripoff bassnectar, a genre I decided I just don't like; eating frozen spanakopita with sour cream dip Catherine made several days prior; Zuni is overrated, their vegetarian options lackluster, and can you believe they didn't even bring my mom anything for her 60th birthday? they gave us a bad table, and I made a big fuss about it til they moved us, and felt funnily but also eerily like my dad; Jennifer, the lady who sugars me, is always sweet and hyper, we commiserated about our poor taste in men and she gives me advice like a big sister; peppermint tea in Leslie's canary living room is comforting on a fall Thursday night; I've only listened to vampire weekend and bladee for weeks (before, a little bit of wilco and jungle); casual 24 hour trip to LA (actually, I flew into Burbank) for Ori's birthday, zooming to the fedex to pick up our custom boardgame which shipped from China; health-conscious shredded chicken tacos, lentil soup, and shots of casamigos which go down so easy you don't even need a chaser; the blessed view of Griffith past the palm trees from ori and Lukas' los feliz balcony, always sunny on the east side; blood streaming down my arm at the party after a dangerous Lime crash in silver lake, swerving with Catherine on the empty night streets, as embarrassing as it was potentially life-threatening and contemporary, what a way to go! ripping off the bandaid the next morning meant ripping off the weakly formed scab, a repeating cycle of pain that felt almost amusing in its pitifulness; we got to the party, bleeding, and said we crashed on our way to buy american spirits, everyone's eyes lit up as they asked us can they have one? drunk in the bathroom, I whined to Catherine about how no one cares, but deep down I had already accepted that as a fact of life, and nothing to be surprised about; the little Yale freshmen who witnessed our episode asked us are you OK—are you on your way to a party? I told him you don't want to come, it's just a bunch of washed up ivy leaguers who are doing nothing with their lives...they still wanted to join us, but halfway back to the party they wisened up and we lost em...a girl whose defining feature(s) are (1) routinely getting too fucked up at the function and (2) having gigantic breasts was throwing up when Catherine exited the bathroom, tits bouncing furiously on the outdoor sink, 'too much adderall'...I got into an intense conversation with a friend about his mom dying recently, of alcoholism, she believed in reptilians and QAnon, it unsettled me; later, another conversation with a quasi-friend obliquely accused of sexual assault; later, we ordered McDonalds to the hot tub—only half was delivered, no sandwich, no Lukas' chocolate shake; I called the doordash driver who smartly ignored my call, I ate a fraction of my 40 piece McNuggets disgruntled in my target bikini I curbside pickup-ed earlier in the day; not particularly hungover, but in physical pain (my arm from the Lime crash, my throat from chain-smoking all night), we lazily made our way to alcove where I somehow spent $35 dollars and left hungry; it was 68 degrees out and Lukas made them put a heater by our table, classic LA; we waited in the line at Maru, a recurring hallmark of my los feliz visits, this time there was a goth woman in the bottega boots I have a ripoff off, and some girl wearing the same aqua REI fannypack I gifted my mom; I got home so quick, my cousin picked me up from the San Jose airport and we talked about astroworld and the mechanics of asphyxiation on the ride home, I had a stomachache by the time we got to fremont; I licked and dressed my wounds and got dressed for Diwali, where my uncle invited a distant relative he found on 23AndMe; they live in Cupertino, their kid was smart but believes that automating everything is the future, and we should strive for technological progress at all costs; he and my cousin won at teen patti, Indian poker...the night ended with everyone talking about visas, H1B, OCI, EAD, how many years it takes to sponsor a greencard, how tedious it is to apply, a conversation I realized was unique to immigrants, the terms and anecdotes they were trading foreign to me, so privileged and young. the time changed last night—I didn't even realize. we went to the new vegetarian dhaba near my house, which replaced the subway we always used to go to after karate, and ate a thali—roti and rice with vegetable korma, baingan bharta, Punjabi kadhi, some alu thing, ghar ka khana—real 'home-cooked food'. I ate a piece of leftover halloween candy from the coffeeshop in niles, enjoying the faux fall colors while my mom drove us back home in her SUV. the huff and puff of my grandma's oxygen machine is now a familiar character in my home, it feels less alien than before, it breathes like a cousin of noo-noo's from Teletubbies...

110421 (unfamiliar place)

the lobby of pedro arrupe residence hall is nondescript and neutral. while you might expect a college dormitory to be welcoming and inviting, if decrepit, this one is decidedly uninvested in, as if the residential students were an afterthought and second-tier to commuters. all the obvious facilities of a dorm lounge are present—vending machines, one for $1.50 sodas, one for junk food like rice krispies, flamin hot doritos, gummi bears, cheezits; a bulky printer you have to scan your USF id to use; a cramped kitchen full of embarrassingly dirty dishes and an oddly low ceiling. but the color of this lounge is lacking—no unique markers of school culture, no contributions from the living community to indicate this is a place that is invested in. save for ‘suyeong’s pumpkin’, claimed in sharpie, and someone’s empty aromatherapy diffuser sitting on the out of tune grand piano. on a pool table with balls askew sits a plastic tub containing someone’s clothes, like they’re in the process of moving in or moving out. the entire space sits in this kind of liminal place, maybe it’s too much to expect 18 year olds to treat a place like a home. the only character in this lobby, its saving grace, is the towering paned windows circling the main space, through whose dirty glass you can catch the sunset disappearing fast down Anza, in a rush to get to class.

110321 (familiar place)

temple is a nightclub in the shadow of salesforce tower, in the heart of a fake neighborhood called the east cut. I say it's a fake neighborhood because no one I've ever known has actually lived there, besides Antonio for a brief month at the beginning of his job in Facebook corporate housing. there are no restaurants, no dive bars, no coffeeshops save for a lone Philz in this barren wasteland — nothing is there, let alone open past 7pm, and in the perennial glow of the fluorescent lights of sweetgreen, you see towering new apartment buildings as far as the eye can see. in the midst of this sterile hellscape is my favorite nightclub, and the only one in San Francisco I have ever enjoyed. on the weekends, it is like any other club — peers swear it is an ABG hotspot, and indeed, at swanky VIP tables sexy asian girls in little black dresses lounge in white leather armchairs and dance vigorously to EDM. on wednesday nights, the scene changes, and you see throngs of tie-dyed, matted-hair bassheads, the Neo-hippies, overwhelmingly white, thrashing about to computer-generated sounds no one could realistically describe as a genre.
temple houses many contradictions. as soon as you enter, a selection of hassled bartenders glowing a phosphorescent blue-green dish out $12 mixed drinks, cheap for a San Francisco nightclub. in the front (main) room, a killer Void sound system, replete with a subwoofer so big you could live inside it, pumps electrifying bass through the floor. a screen begins behind the DJ, curving up and towards the crowd, and on this and accompanying panels that stretch along the sides of the space, dedicated VJs create a unique immersive visual experience, featuring anything from unsettling cartoon imagery to lava lamp globs. simultaneously, pillars of LED light bulbs light up in sync with the music, a veritable orchestra of neon flares. on two platforms, one on each side of the club, coordinated dancers perform — we dubbed them 'future strippers'. they wear masks that cover their whole faces, sometimes full chrome, sometimes with active screens, evoking an uncanny sort of eros that only adds to the ambiance. through a small opening in the back of the main club area, you enter a secret side room, where DJs who could only be local spin trashy hip hop out 2 PAs to a small but determined group. to flit in and out of the main room to the side room is a game in itself, bouncing between energy levels and unwelcome doses of self-awareness...

110221 (sleuthing the physical world)

outside lands: Catherine and Amy wear matching turtlenecks and baggy jeans, in the glaring sun in front of the sutro stage, an ordinary 75 degrees in the mild San Francisco fall...trendy skinny girls wear revealing costumes and elaborate hairdos, looking beautiful if oddly glammed up for a friday autumn midday...we wear cheap sunglasses to hide our faces, to not be perceived as we perceive, all the instagram glamor around us bewildering and unfamiliar, and maybe a little bit of a jolt to the ego...pretty nondescript girls in black and white checkered cargo pants and marbled 70s translucent shirts, like lava lamp throw-up, space buns and glittery face makeup, cheap target jewels glued above and below the eyebrows, fanny packs, mom jeans, faux fur, bell bottoms, overalls, tie-dye; neon tracksuits, butterfly clips, balayage blond buns and bucket hats, white sneakers muddied by the October rain, some converse, some nike, some superga...chunky earrings and thrifted denim jackets, tight-fitting skirts, beanies and yeezus merch, and this is to say nothing of the costumes...groups of white 20somethings in matching shiny spacesuits, matching where's Waldo shirts, dressed up in questionable costumes like prison jumpsuits that make you question whether it's actually 2021, or whether you just have a charitable opinion of 2021; 800 drunk Velmas and Daphnes falling over themselves to get to the front of the strokes, or tame impala, or Tyler the creator, fainting in the crowd from dehydration, exhaustion, fatigue, being carried out by medics, wonder if they made it to day 2? to quote Twitter user @keyon, "Why everybody dressed up as scooby doo characters this year I’m really crying"; the where's Waldo girls sat on top of the where's Waldo boys shoulders and blocked everyone's view, singing off key to 'cape cod kwassa kwassa' as we pouted in the back. the lights of the festival cast an otherworldly glow on golden gate park, trees glowing a neon purple, orange, blue in the background of dense, intimidating groups 10, 12 strong who looked like they all collectively peaked in college when they got into the fraternity of their choice... dressed as Cameron from ferris bueller, I laughed when they would call out 'yeah, red wings!' at me, searching for some acknowledgement of their masculinity, some form of cultural clout...little do they know, I don't watch sports, I barely watch movies...Catherine and Amy looked smart in their costumes, respectively, in her baggy ferris sweater vest and white turtleneck, aviators in tow; in sloane's fringed white jacket and matching boots, gray trouser shorts. Amy and I rode the 5 westward in the morning drinking cacti's, travis Scott's new spiked seltzer, and feeling sympathy for the muni drivers who had to deal with the whole sorry mess. a basically shirtless man in a captain hat, no feeling in his eyes, berated the driver from the back of the bus for closing the doors too early, Amy and I made alarmed eye contact and got off at the next stop...the first day, we walked back 40 blocks, en route I devoured a hot dog from one of the hispanic ladies who sell them from the little carts on the side of the street...when we left the festival grounds, herded like sheep, moving 2 miles per hour in the crowd through the artificially narrow barbed wire fences, there was a maze of hot dog ladies, each beckoning with their own brand of bacon wrapped hot dogs, calling out their venmo addresses...everywhere you looked was hot dog lady, or maybe a hot dog young boy, eager to accept your intoxicated 8 dollars in exchange for the best hot dog of your life...the second day we left early, caught the easterly 5, and made it back in time to actually hit the town, the town being a random cash-only Irish pub in the richmond that a date took me to a week ago; we put songs on the jukebox and talked about religion over shots of fernet and gin and tonics, a free chaser of coke from the manager Bob and the bartender steve...at 2am we waited in line for a laughable 40 minutes for the sweet taste of chicken fries, chicken nuggets, spicy mcchicken's from Burger King, all the way at 6th and Geary, amidst the collegiate halloween revelers no doubt out at one of the local bars that don't card, or else an underage house party...
Amy and I walked right into the SOMA tent to see nancy whang, and minutes later the line stretched all the way out the door, 200 people at least, we felt lucky to have escaped the wait. a man inside in a cowboy hat was foaming at the mouth to tell me he went to a little school in Cambridge, I probably hadn't heard of it...at cvs, a bulky man was yelling at the clerk, an elderly asian man who by all accounts was just trying to be helpful— when the man left, the clerk told us, 'this is the new San Francisco, everyone is just out for themselves'...

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