Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Inverse Color Differential aka Anti-Sky Paradox

I am not a scientist and I've never professed otherwise.  In fact I take a certain amount of pride in my superior right-brained skills even if it came at the price of my left brain.  So what if my analytical left brain functions are a little diminished?  That's the cross I embraced in high school when I took my first taste of a recreational substance and smiled.  Admittedly it's been both uphill and downhill since then.  But I have never complained about being illiterate where science and math are concerned.  Generally I accept scientific principles, even if I don't always understand them.  Certainly I accept mathematics and the legitimacy of the study of calculus while I clearly do not understand it.  Nevertheless, evolution is a hell of a lot easier to swallow than creationism.  That's a fact.  Anyone who believes humans were made in the likeness and image of a mythical super-being should check their brain for tumors.  But I am no scientist.

I exist somewhere in the metaphorical middle ground between evolution and fantasy.  Now if anyone is still reading at this point let me make clear that this is not the introduction to an atheistic rant.  On the contrary, it's a theory I came up with, one that unilaterally mocks all known scientific principles and everything else that decidedly left-brain people hold dear.

February 25, 2009 (all dates are approximations)

I close my eyes and enjoy the relaxing nature of the couch. I feel as though I am in the middle of a cloud, a nice, fluffy, white, smoky cloud of pure comfort. It’s dense but it allows me to float peacefully within it, untainted with feelings of discontentedness. I open my eyes and try to peer out the window but the blue sky outside is barely visible through this cloud all around me. I can somehow tell that the sky is blue, yet I start to wonder if that is on account of my eyes seeing the blue or my brain knowing it to be blue and commanding my eyes accordingly. I don’t know how I could ever know one way or another which phenomenon was actually taking place. In fact, for all I know the sky is red and has been red for many years, making my brain an unmodified liar. Or maybe it is my eyes that are liars. I suppose I cannot trust any of the organs inside me. They could all be deceiving me in one way or another. And what if I am not alone in possessing a deceitful brain? It stands to reason that because brains are all made of relatively the same materials that other people exist out there with lying brains of their own. That would explain why mankind generally believes and agrees that the sky is blue and the sun is yellow and the trees are green, even if they are truly not. It’s a brain-wide conspiracy!

This may be the marijuana talking but I feel like I must test this hypothesis for accuracy. It would really bum me out to discover that there are people out there with honest brains while I sit here with a deceitful one. But that could very well be the case. What if the sky really is red and there are people out there who see it as such? That would annoy me. I would surely come to envy that elite class of brains.

Unable to let the issue rest in my head, I pose the question of the sky’s true color to the room hoping for constructive replies. Ray states that it is blue without even looking up from the bong, a statement that unanimously convinces me that he too could suffer from the same ailment as I, assuming of course the sky is not really blue. Regardless, Ray is operating under the perception that the sky is blue, just like I am. If the sky is in fact not blue, Ray doesn’t see it. He is not elite. Now it is time to get Tyler’s response. If he turns out to be elite, I may have to rethink my whole stance on him. After all, Landon is decidedly not elite; he believes the sky is blue and would accept no other premise as true. Of course the sky may really be blue and in that case this whole tangent is a silly waste of time. I would feel much better if that were the case but I am not so sure anymore.

Tyler confirms the sky is blue as well. He is not elite. Oh well. This all may have been for naught anyway because science has consistently advocated an invariably blue sky from the point of Earth’s inception. Though Earth as a planetary object has changed quite considerably since its inception, it is entirely possible that the color of the atmosphere changed sometime thereafter. That may be the only way to account for the possibility of people’s brains registering colors differently and it may be the only explanation that could prove my theory plausible, not that I have that as an ultimate goal.

Epilogue: I was never able to confirm or reject this theory.  It stands as a rational prospect in the universe of infinite possibilities.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Lux, an Individual, Plaintiff v. Earth, an Entity, Defendant

I open my civil procedure book to page three twenty-nine and start reading the introductory comments of the chapter. If I were a different person I would just skip ahead a few pages to the cases but I know that sometimes the introduction provides important insights that should not be overlooked. Besides, my professor tends to fixate on them unnaturally. I don’t appreciate coming off like a loser when he inevitably quizzes us later in class.

The chapter begins by attempting to teach us about pleaders. Pleaders tell stories designed to get a court to give them something they want. Once upon a time, those stories were oral and relatively free-form, with the pleader telling the court what had happened and what he wanted the court to do about it. I feel like this ‘once upon a time’ model would be much more desirable than the one we have currently in place. The former lends itself more convincingly to the chaos and vengeance that I’ve always more or less endorsed in my life. But over time I suppose things get complicated even if the aim was initially simplistic. Modern society, whether or not it was the stated intention, has taken its justice system to the utmost extreme. These days complaints are filed years before the corresponding case is heard before a court, if it's ever even heard at all. This ‘dragging claims out’ mentality has become the decided norm and there is really no going back now. I sigh with veiled annoyance at that reality. It’s nice when things are simple.

Next the book attempts to analyze the similarities and differences between the old complaint form and the contemporary one. But I fear my focus has already begun to wander. For some inexplicable reason, I start to picture the old-time pleaders described in this introductory paragraph as little red-headed children with freckles, perhaps even pigtails, crying tearfully to their fathers about the treacherous actions of their siblings or supposed friends. Of course daddy doesn’t really care about what was done to his red-headed child; he will do absolutely nothing to restore any sense of justice. The child must learn to live with whatever covenant breach was inflicted upon her and that is essentially where the story ends.

Unfortunately the court system back then was just about as ineffectual as a father dealing with his red-headed child, perhaps even more so. Not much has changed over the years except for the complications involved in the general process of trying to find some semblance of justice. But it seems as though it hides from everyone. Justice was and continues to be something of a running joke that none of us can quite understand.  But we do pretend.

In my career, I hesitate to use that word because of the dishonesty it portrays but regardless, in my career I have drafted a few of these modern day complaints. Therefore, I feel pretty confident in stating that I know the general protocol involved and can repeat it almost in my sleep.  Of course that particular skill doesn’t really make things better.  In fact, I cannot help but wonder if our justice system is long for life. It is inarguably ineffectual; not one person could possibly assert any level of satisfaction with it.  There seems to always be some room for complaint.

So here it is, my play on the complaint.  It's rather silly but that tends to be my specialty.  This is a complaint that I have entertained now for at least a year, though I believe it's been stewing much longer than that.  I guess you lose track of time when you are in this constant state of disillusion and heavy denial.  But I’ll try to make this as accurate as possible.  After all I am an attorney, a person you might even call 'counselor' one day, though it doesn't seem likely.

*Note: This is not a real Complaint.  I do not condone the use of this Complaint in a legal forum and I discourage anyone from attempting to use it.  Enjoy.

United States District Court

For the Central District of California

Lux, an Individual, Plaintiff,                                Civil Action No: J6901789                                                             

Earth, an Entity, Defendant 


Verified complaint for Violation of Due Process Clause, Material Breach of Implied Contract, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, False Imprisonment, Negligence, Damages, and Injunctive Relief. Jury Demand.

1. Plaintiff Lux, hereinafter “LUX”, for her Complaint against Defendant Earth, hereinafter “EARTH” hereby brings claims seeking relief for, among other things, the taking of private property through a violation of the Due Process Clause, the breach of an implied contract that law school would benefit Plaintiff, and Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress vis-à-vis the prior implied contract.

2. Lux alleges on personal knowledge as to all facts known to her, and on information and belief as to all other facts, as follows:

The Parties
3. Plaintiff Lux is an adult individual residing in the County of Los Angeles. She lives and breathes in the State of California.

4. Upon information and belief, Defendant Earth, is a global entity with a presence in many different countries. Its principal place of business is everywhere, including the State of California.

Jurisdiction and Venue
5. This action arises under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments of the Constitution and the common law of the State of California.

6. This Court has subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to 17 U.S.C. §1331 (federal question), U.S. Const. Amend 5 (Due Process Clause) and expressly incorporated under U.S. Const. Amend. 14 to the States, and 28 U.S.C. §1367(a)(supplemental jurisdiction). This Court has personal jurisdiction over Defendant Earth because, on information and belief, it conducts a significant amount of business in this District. Earth has also committed wrongful acts which have had direct effects in this District.

7. Venue is proper in this judicial district under 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b)(2) because a substantial part of the events giving rise to the claims asserted herein occurred in this District.

Factual Background
8. This dispute arises out of Earth’s wrongful acts during the years between 2007 and extending through 2011 and the present. Surely Earth’s wrongful acts against Lux extend further back than the year 2007 but all those wrongful acts will not now be the subject of this Complaint.

9. Plaintiff Lux exists on Earth as a human being. Defendant Earth, in its capacity as a planet that hosts life, including human being life, has a duty to look out for and protect life of all kinds. Because Earth led Lux to a metaphorical slaughter, Lux has suffered damages of a very profound nature. She seeks major redress of those wrongs.

10. On or around August 2007, Lux began her legal education as a law student at an accredited ABA law school in the State of California, the reputation of which was and continues to be solid. As a condition precedent of attending law school, she agreed to an implied contract that a legal education was a worthy pursuit. At this point in history, Plaintiff had no reason to believe it would be anything but worthy. Defendant Earth knew more about the future prospects that Lux would be able to entertain at the time of formation of the contract. Keeping this knowledge to itself, Earth allowed Lux to enter into this ill-fated contract, an action of which she would predictably live to regret. Lux was undoubtedly pressured into agreeing to the terms of this contract even though she did not realize the extent of what could happen in the future. Defendant Earth made many untrue statements in order to convince Lux to agree to the terms of this one-sided contract, including assurances that Lux was not wasting her time and money by undertaking three years of legal studies in a declining economy. Lux reasonably relied on those statements made by Earth when she agreed to enter into the contract.

11. Prior to August 2007, Lux had a content, debt-free life. The benefit of not being harassed on a daily basis by creditors and other such sharks was a routine that Plaintiff liked and was very well accustomed to. She had grown used to the benefit of that lifestyle and considered it not a bad way of living. Plaintiff Lux reasonably expected the continued receipt of this benefit of living comfortably and contently the way she always had. Although Lux never had any previous delusions of grandeur, her life was by no means terrible. Of course that has all come to change now at the time of this Complaint.

12. Defendant Earth has taken away Plaintiff’s property rights vis-à-vis her debt-free existence prior to 2007. Lux is entitled to that freedom and way of life that she had grown accustomed to and this entitlement is now only a pipe dream, less in fact. Lux received no notice or hearing before this right was savagely taken away from Plaintiff four years ago. It has yet to be restored and Lux is naturally discontent over the matter.

13. Upon information and belief, the behavior of Earth was and continues to be intentional; at the very least Earth has acted with reckless indifference. Earth’s behavior in this regard would surely shock the conscience of any court this matter comes before.

14. This interest is extremely important to Lux. She finds her current life exceedingly more and more difficult to live by the day. If this situation is not rectified soon, Lux may become too disillusioned to recover and live a normal life.

15. Defendant Earth has tricked Lux into a state of mind fraught with danger and paranoia. Lux constantly fears the passing of time, to the point where she can entertain no other more pleasant thoughts. Earth has engaged in outrageous conduct that has led Lux to suffer severe distress as a result. Lux is unable to think clearly without the aid of narcotics. Earth’s actions have exceeded all bounds of decency that are typically tolerated in a civilized society.

16. Defendant Earth has trapped and restrained Plaintiff Lux, several acts of which have led to her continued confinement in Earth’s bounded area. Lux is well aware of her confinement within Earth’s bounded area and her inability to free herself from its constraints. There is no reasonable means of escape that the Plaintiff has been made aware of or has been able to reasonably discover. Any means of escape that Plaintiff has been able to think of are both dangerous and disgusting. Lux at no time consented to being trapped within Earth’s bounded area. Quite the contrary, it was done against her will and she now demands redress.

17. Earth either knew or should have reasonably known that it was engaging in all acts alleged herein and that those acts would cause harm to Plaintiff.

First Cause of Action – Violation of the Due Process Clause
18. Lux hereby realleges and incorporates by reference the allegations in paragraphs 8 through 17 above, as if fully set forth herein.

19. Upon information and belief, Defendant Earth was previous to 2007 providing Lux the benefit of a debt-free existence. This was an interest unmistakably important to Lux. In fact, she counted on this benefit on a mere daily basis.

20. At no time did Earth make clear that this benefit would soon end. When taking away a benefit such as this one, it is the duty of Earth to notify benefactors of the benefit of its impending end. Earth made no such notification to Lux.

21. It is the duty of Earth to allow for a hearing so that individuals who are soon to be deprived of a benefit that they have grown accustomed to, can present evidence and argue as to why they should be able to keep the benefit. The hearing must also provide individuals with the reasons why their coveted benefit is being taken away. Lux was not granted the opportunity for a hearing whatsoever.

22. It would have been very easy for Earth to set in place procedures that would warn Lux and individuals like Lux that this benefit could run its course.

23. Earth has an undeniable interest in making sure that its citizens are relatively happy. A revolution, which many countries sit on the inevitable forefront of, is not in the best interest of Earth.

24. Because of Earth’s deprival of a benefit that Lux had grown accustomed to, Lux is entitled to damages pursuant to the Due Process Clause.

Second Cause of Action – Breach of an Implied Contract
25. Lux hereby realleges and incorporates by reference the allegations in paragraphs 8 through 17 above, as if fully set forth herein.

26. In exchange for adequate consideration, Lux agreed that she would go through three years of law school at an accredited and ABA-approved university. The consideration in question, the promise of economic well-being after graduation and passage of the bar exam, was never delivered upon by Defendant Earth.

27. The terms of the contract were harsh and oppressive and decidedly one-sided. Lux was under an extreme undue pressure to submit to the terms of the contract. There was both substantive and procedural unconscionability in this implied contract, neither of which Lux realized at the time of formation because at that time Lux had not yet begun her legal education. Needless to say, Lux was not in a position to negotiate the terms of the contract.

28. Certainly there was uneven and unequal bargaining power between Plaintiff Lux and Defendant Earth, especially evident given the nature of the contract in question and the dearth of knowledge at Plaintiff’s disposal at the time of contract. The country had yet to plummet into economic despair in the fall of 2007. But the reality was on the horizon, perfectly within Defendant’s sights. Even though Plaintiff Lux has long come to the realization that life is nothing more than a mere game, she always assumed that hard work ultimately paid off. She has come to find out that that assumption is flawed, more than flawed, it is all out false. It fails as a matter of law. Plaintiff will admit that she came of age at the wrong time in history, a period where the world was descending into unrestricted chaos. However, economic upheaval, revolutions and wars was hardly foreseeable in Plaintiff Lux’s position as a human being in early 2007 when the contract was entered into. Therefore it cannot be said that Lux entered into the contract reasonably informed of the risks.

29. Defendant Earth uttered many untrue statements, the most egregious of which was that Plaintiff Lux would enjoy economic prosperity at the conclusion of her legal studies and after she passed the bar examination. Defendant made this statement to Lux hoping to coerce her into assenting to the contract, knowing all the while of its extreme falsity. Needless to really say, Lux relied on the veracity of this statement when entering into the contract, reliance of which ended up being to Lux’s extreme detriment. While Lux acknowledges that she has the right to rescind the contract based on this heinous misrepresentation made by Earth, Lux instead opts for damages because rescission alone cannot right this wrong.

30. Plaintiff Lux here acknowledges that Defendant Earth will attempt to use the Statute of Frauds as a defense to this implied contract. However she would like to point out at this time that that course of action would be, for lack of a better phrase, a dick move on Defendant’s part.

31. As a direct and proximate result of Earth’s breach of the implied contract, Lux suffered and continues to suffer direct, incidental, and consequential damages. These damages include but are not limited to Plaintiff’s current disillusionment.

32. Earth’s actions have caused and continue to cause irreparable harm to Lux, and Lux is therefore entitled to injunctive relief to stop Earth from continuing to breach the Implied Contract.

Third Cause of Action – Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress
33. Lux hereby realleges and incorporates by reference the allegations in paragraphs 8 through 17 above, as if fully set forth herein.

34. Through Earth’s engagement in outrageous conduct, including but not limited to Earth’s breach of contract, Earth has caused and continues to cause Lux severe distress. In breaching the implied contract and causing Lux to waste her time and money, Earth has acted with utter disregard for Lux’s emotional tranquility.

35. As a direct and proximate result of Earth’s actions, Lux has suffered damages and losses in an amount exceeding $500,000.

36. Defendant’s actions were and continue to be willful and malicious in that Defendant intentionally breached the implied contract and caused Lux to experience severe distress as a result of Earth’s outrageous behavior. Plaintiff is therefore entitled to punitive damages in accordance with California Civil Code §3294.

Fourth Cause of Action – False Imprisonment
37. Lux hereby realleges and incorporates by reference the allegations in paragraphs 8 through 17 above, as if fully set forth herein.

38. Earth is a planet with an atmosphere. Earth has kept Lux restrained and confined within its bounded area now for more than twenty-four years. Lux has searched and searched for an escape but has been tragically unsuccessful in the pursuit.

39. Lux is well aware of her confinement on Earth and is injured by it on a daily basis. Her injury exists in the form of growing older and seeing those around her die. She has also been injured by Earth due to its gravitational pull on numerous occasions.

40. Death by means of suicide is the only means of escape from Earth’s bounded area and that method is dangerous, disgusting and unreasonable, especially in the mind of an atheist. Plaintiff Lux is an atheist. Accordingly, there is no reasonable means of escape that Lux can discover.

41. Defendant’s actions were and continue to be willful and malicious in that Defendant is intentionally and callously holding Lux confined within its bounds. As a result of this outrageous behavior, Plaintiff is entitled to damages in the amount of $500,000.

Fifth Cause of Action – Negligence
42. Lux hereby realleges and incorporates by reference the allegations in paragraphs 8 through 17 above, as if fully set forth herein.

43. Earth has a duty to protect and serve all life contained within it. Because Plaintiff Lux is a life contained within Earth, by the transitive property, Earth has a duty to protect and serve Lux.

44. Earth breached its duty of care when it harmed Lux by depriving her of her Due Process Rights, by breaching the implied contract, by intentionally inflicting emotional distress upon Lux, and by falsely imprisoning Lux against her will within its Earthly confines.

45. But for Earth’s ghastly breach of its duty to protect Lux, Plaintiff Lux would be healthy, uninjured and living in economic prosperity right now.

46. It was or should have been foreseeable to Defendant Earth that Plaintiff Lux would be injured as a result of its breach of the implied agreement. Therefore Earth is responsible for the injury.

47. Plaintiff Lux in no way contributed to the breach, mostly because Lux was unaware of the future and what could happen, both factors that Earth knows and is responsible for predicting.

48. Defendant Earth was negligent in its interactions with Plaintiff Lux and as a result Lux was harmed. Lux is therefore entitled to damages in the amount of $500,000.

Jury Demand
49. Lux requests a jury trial on all triable issues of fact.

Prayer for Relief

Wherefore, Plaintiff prays for judgment as follows:

1. That judgment be entered in favor of Lux and against Defendant Earth;

2. That Defendant, and all persons in active participation therewith, be preliminarily and permanently enjoined from inflicting continued harm to Lux.

3. That Defendants be ordered to pay Lux the amount of $5 million.

4. That Lux recover compensatory damages for Defendant’s wrongdoing in an amount to be established at trial, together with pre-judgment and post-judgment interest thereon;

5. That Lux recover an award of exemplary damage, disgorgement, restitution, pre-judgment and post-judgment interest as permitted by statute and/or contract; and

6. Any such other relief as the Court may deem just and proper.

Respectfully submitted,


Dated: October 25, 2011

Friday, September 23, 2011

Vendetta Red's Ambulance Chaser

It may have dawned on me though I never realized the extreme importance that our society puts on electricity until two weeks ago when this area suffered an extensive blackout.  It angered me, not because I had just showered and was unable to dry my hair, but because there was literally nothing to do but sit around and stare at the wall, something that became impossible once the sun went down.

I tried playing solitaire with real cards and found it utterly insufferable.  Everything I wanted to do, write, listen to music, watch the first NFL football game of the 2011 season, was completely out of the question.  We couldn't even eat dinner.  I had to settle for Sauvignon blanc and some raspberries, not entirely unpleasant but not quite a hearty meal either.  By 8:30 there was still no lights and I was, for lack of a better word, restless.  The sun had gone down an hour earlier and across the valley I could see that some cities in our county had their electricity restored, but not us.  Even though it was a warm night, I didn't care to sit outside on the patio and smoke weed.  So I went in the house, lit some candles and smoked some weed.  I dug out a sketch pad from a few years ago and started drawing.

Luckily, fortunately, and if I believed in a higher power I would say thank god that my iPod had a sufficient charge that night.  I put in my earbuds and started drawing fiercely.  This is one of the things I came up with after listening to some Vendetta Red.  Great band by the way, excellent wordsmiths.  If I were studying for the GRE or the SAT or the GMAT or some other vocabulary test, I would definitely try to get my fill of them.

Oh and because I'm an attorney I feel that I must say "I don't own the lyrics below, just the drawing associated with them on this blog.  I am in no way affiliated with Vendetta Red, though that would be awesome, and while this isn't my favorite one of their songs, it is really quite good."  (Yes, that last part was dicta)

In fiscal flight from the ravenous cavernous orifice
asphyxiated form
Washed in wolves blood sterile and pantomimed parting in
parts the trial of the worm
Sew the lid closed cough and spit into your palm with

charitable charm
Slap the bad man's wrist insist disarm
Do the math the path is a narrow one it led me down to a cold

and shallow grave
On my tombstone I read the epitaph "Here lies the one who lived

and died a slave"
Till the vexing that his hex annexing animates his

glorious distresses
Serve the right foot raw so flawed undressed
Semi conscious concentration Christmas cards and suffocation
Ambulances beckon bodies tires squealing sirens wailing

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Number Between 116 and 118

I have no rational fears. I know that is a somewhat arrogant declaration but it’s entirely true. I don’t fear heights or spiders or elevators or the dark or snakes or germs or tunnels or any of the other fears that people would generally consider normal and founded. But that’s not to say that I don’t have any fears, I do have a few. They are just the irrational, inexplicable and very silly variety. The number between 116 and 118 is one such fear. It’s not based in logic, rationality or common sense; it’s wholly and completely insane and I readily admit to that. The story of why I came to fear this number is complicated yet unremarkable.

It begins around 1988 or 1989, a time when analog television still existed. In fact it was a time where analog television was the only television that existed, and static channels or empty channels or dead channels or white noise if you will, were prevalent throughout the television channel lineup. It was well-known that pretty much every channel above 69 and below 2, were dead. Channel 1 was my absolute nemesis, the one I feared the most.

Now I cannot pin this down to one singular incident, mostly because at the time I was too young to register moments and commit them to memory accordingly. Nevertheless, it was during that time in my early formative years where I became intensely afraid of these dead, static-laden channels. Admittedly I remain afraid of them to this day. Luckily though, with the advent of digital technology, these dead channels of static are becoming a thing of the past, like capitalism and democracy. They have been replaced by a soundless blue screen that I find much more aesthetically pleasing and not nearly as upsetting.

I don’t know exactly why I came to fear the dead channels with their snow and static. I think it was my father’s doing. After all, he was responsible for my fear of certain pool drains and my somewhat later developed fear of black lizards with blue bellies, so it stands to reason he was also responsible for my fear of the dead channels. But I do not assert this with one-hundred percent certainty. He has vehemently denied my accusations in this regard.

Still, I imagine it could have happened something like this. We were sitting on the couch watching television when he made the executive decision to flip the tuner to channel 10. As an aside at this time we only had about four channels, channel 10 being ABC. When he went to switch the channel, something went horribly wrong. While he tried to punch in the 1 and the 0, he accidentally switched their order, a product of dyslexia or perhaps a failure of the remote control buttons. So instead of getting channel 10, we got channel 1, my proclaimed nemesis. The static roared loud and the white and black snow vibrated with utter craziness, a terrifying assault on my young eyes and ears. It was a punishment unfitting of the simple mistake. And from there a fear was born, an irrational fear that twenty some odd years later I have been unable to cure. At least that’s how I imagine it all happened.

My fear in this regard seemed to blossom like a mushroom overnight. I slowly and steadily began to fear everything that was unnatural vis-à-vis the television. By this I mean that I hated the static snow, the blackness, and those bright and vibrant color-bars with their long beeping sounds. Anything that signified the television was malfunctioning in some way scared me to the point where I would refrain from watching altogether. If I did watch, I diligently kept my hand hovering over the power button so that I could turn the television off at the first sign of trouble. That is the way I continue to operate.

Fast forward approximately fifteen years. My irrational fear of dead channels was still alive and thriving in 2005. This was roughly the time where the movie The Ring was released in the United States. With its little girl beast emerging from the static of a television to scare unsuspecting viewers to death, my fear of the dead channels was heavily reinforced. The movie made me wonder how some random screenwriter was able to get inside my head and discern my deepest, darkest fear without so much as meeting me. And when I finally realized that others might share this so-called irrational fear, I found the idea quite comforting. Maybe it was not as unfounded as I had been led to believe.

Now it might be unclear at this point what channel 1 and the other dead channels possibly have to do with the number between 116 and 118. However it is probably quite obvious that it has something to do with the channel with that particular numerical designation. Well it does. I was flipping through the channels one day in 2005 when I came upon an unusual channel. It was inarguably strange, blacker than night with a white graph superimposed. The line of the graph moved around with jerky, almost breathing type motions. It was reminiscent of a heartbeat monitor, although it was anything but magnificent. And while the snow of the dead channels was thankfully absent, the familiar and scary static sound was present and louder than ever.


I began associating the weird graph channel with the scariness of channel 1 and all the other dead channels that I had come to fear over the years. And as the reader might have logically deduced by now, the channel with the weird graph was none other than the number between 116 and 118. So my fear and loathing of the number grew naturally from there. In a lot of ways it was worse than channel 1, which by this time had turned into the ‘On Demand’ channel (don’t get me started). But it was worse than channel 1 because it was a modern day channel 1. While the static channels had all but disappeared, transformed into non-threatening blue screens for the most part, this static-filled, heartbeat graph channel had found some kind of digital loophole. It was coming through my television bringing loud and frenzied static, something that by all accounts should have been eradicated at the turn of the millennium.

Accordingly, I now hate channel 117 in the same vein and with the same amount of passion that I hate channel 1. But unlike channel 1, which had pretty much been relegated to the land of television, the number between 116 and 118 had found a way to escape the digital realm. It had broken free of its digital television shackles and entered the real world with only one true intent: to harass me incessantly. And it has enjoyed mild success thus far. Every time the clock reads 1:17, be it am or pm, I feel a sense of fear, the irrational hostility that only something evil can create within you. And though I haven’t laid eyes on the channel itself in years, I am constantly reminded of it, at least twice a day, sometimes more.

It doesn’t sit well, on its own or in my head. I wish I could petition to remove it from the clock, from time in general, though I know I’d be met with a bit of resistance. So for now I must resolve to ignore it, purposefully look the other way for the two minutes surrounding 1:16. Of course there is no avoiding evil completely; there are days where I happen upon the number, be it on the clock, as part of someone’s address, on the treadmill while I’m exercising, on January 17th, or what have you. The ways in which it can plague my life are unfortunately infinite. It’s impossible to completely escape; this story here is my reluctant acceptance of that fact.


To this day, well into my mid-twenties, I fear all the many television abnormalities. As my roommate could easily attest to, even the far less menacing color-bars make me incredibly uneasy. While the snow and static from the dead channels has all but been eradicated in this digital age, new, related fears have been forged. Presently, it’s the EAS or Emergency Alert System that is wreaking havoc on my life. Without warning, my digital cable box will freeze and immediately change the channel, without my consent by the way, to this terrifying black and white EAS test screen. And that’s not even the worst part. The worst part is the noise, not static but a frighteningly loud siren that could easily chill your very bones.

I remember one day I was innocently filling the bowl of my bong, looking forward to a nice and relaxing afternoon when all of a sudden my television started emitting this high-pitched, completely abhorrent siren. It was more like an incessant shrieking than anything else. At first I thought there was a fire or someone was breaking into my apartment, but it ended up being worse than that. I turned around and realized that it was the EAS screen on my television making the sound. Ever since that day, I’ve been especially careful and diligent in my monitoring of the cable box. I won’t be caught unaware again; it could be a heart attack in the making.


In sum I cannot be certain what would be worse: lying in a coffin filled with live black lizards, or being tied to a chair and forced to watch and endure and listen to channel 117. Though my tendency is to aver that subjection to channel 117 would be the far less traumatizing choice, I’m honestly not sure if that is indeed the case. When it comes to the ‘would you rather’ game, my predisposition is always to go for hidden Option C, death, even though I know that it’s the cheaters’ recourse. I suppose the only thing I can really do at this point is continue living my life and hope that my destiny doesn’t come down to a choice between poison and a dagger.

The End.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Abdominal Star Is Abominable.

Classic, just classic.  A comment on the silliness of this world.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011


The biggest tragedy in life is the incessant marching on of time. It never stops, it doesn't respond to threats, denials, begging, or bargaining. It presses on with cavalier indifference and I don't blame it. Things can’t stay the same forever just because we want them to.

But anger is a useless emotion in connection with death. It serves no purpose and is a means to no end. Death will always be there, lurking around the corner, an unreckonable force with no known cure. Not that a cure is forthcoming; I don’t believe the scientists of the human race will ever discover the secret of life or the antidote to death. Though I am, and will remain, devoutly unreligious, I will not aver that science has all the answers.

Indisputably, death is in all of our futures, how could a rational mind possibly assert otherwise? Regardless, we bathe in the present, ignore the future prospect of death, and relish the past in an almost unhealthy way. We perceive the things we do as important, we hope the people in our lives see us as memorable, we desire to leave a mark on this world that will remind all future generations of our once existence. Of course we can admit that most will be failures at that particular endeavor; few are actually remembered by history or singled out in the annals of time. But conciliatorily, we hope that at least our families and friends will share a word about our lives, some story or sentiment that proves we had a life here at one time.

As much as possible, I refrain from considering my own death and the deaths of the people around me. It’s too bleak a thought for me to venture near, to even fathom really. Yes, death is indeed unimaginable, but only for the living. I suspect for the dying, it is quite welcome, a long deserved respite from a tortuous journey. And while it is inarguably a sad thing for us to witness as mortal creatures, it is both a necessary and natural process.

Of course for the ones left behind, death is a cruel reminder of what is still in store. It also signifies the nonnegotiable end of a cherished relationship. The latter is the reality where anger usually resides. We absolutely abhor the idea of losing a loved one to death. But our consciences could never afford a choice to keep the dying alive for mere peace of mind. As living creatures, we should always strive to be unselfish, especially when it comes to death.

Ultimately death is sad because we desire those around us, as well as ourselves, to live forever, to last for an eternity, to never succumb to the inevitable expiration that haunts each and every one of us. We’d freeze ourselves in time if we could, to never grow old and decay, to never have to watch our families and friends and contemporaries wither away to nothing. But those are unrealistic feats.

Today I witnessed a death.  While it was sad, it was also for the best.  Best only because we cannot freeze ourselves in time, we cannot keep from growing old and we cannot stave off the slow rotting that afflicts us all.  If we could, then death would not be for the best.  Instead, we'd live forever, within and amongst our kin, healthy and relatively happy.

I didn’t pity her, not really. In fact I envied her in a manner of speaking. She is finished now. Death is no longer a prospect, no longer an impending doom in her future that she will one day have to contend with. We should all be so lucky.

Rest In Peace, Skylar.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Crazy Nutjob Stalker Tried To Foil My Honorable Attempt At Passing The California Bar Exam

*Note: This is unfortunately a true story and I recount it only now in honor of the upcoming Bar Exam on July 26, 27, and 28. GOOD LUCK CLASS OF 2011!!

It was mid-May 2010, although later she would assert that she had been harassing me since January of that year. I had just finished my very last exam of law school and it felt pretty awesome. Now the only thing looming over my head was the three day beast in late July that would determine whether I became a successful attorney or that kid on the side of the road holding out a cardboard sign with a scribbled out sob story replete with religious overtones in order to evoke the sympathies of passersby.

Ah, but I already digress! Anyway, that Thursday after my last final I was looking forward to a weekend of graduation celebrations, short-lived as they may be. As an avid procrastinator and one who has made a private career out of living in the present and pushing the future as far from the forefront of my mind as possible, I wasn't even thinking about the following Monday that would find me back in the classroom, enduring five hour lectures courtesy of Barbri, for the next two months in preparation to sit for the California Bar Exam. It was the last thing on my mind.

That night I was at a bar with my roommate and another friend, taking full advantage of my newfound freedom, when I got a call on my cell phone from a 'Restricted' number. Now at that time, I had absolutely no qualms about answering 'Restricted' calls. In fact, I almost always answered them because the curiosity would just kill me otherwise. So I took the call and the first thing I heard was a woman’s voice calling me a fucking bitch. Me? I’ve been called narcissistic, cavalier, and apathetic with nihilistic tendencies, but never a bitch! I was somewhat shocked and not entirely sure I heard her correctly. But she ended the call immediately thereafter, leaving me to wonder what was going on.

It was loud in the bar and I had had a few drinks that night, but nonetheless, I was pretty sure that she had called me a fucking bitch. I told my friends what had just transpired and they both expressed the opinion that it was a wrong number, a simple mistake. I agreed with them initially and decided to brush it off. After all, it must have been a mistake; there was no one that I could think of who had any cause to call me such derogatory names. So I shrugged it off and went back to drinking and laughing and celebrating with my friends.

The next night there was an awards banquet for all the graduating law students at my school. I was getting ready to leave when I got a call from none other than ‘Restricted’ once again. At the time not really recalling the night before in any great detail, I answered the phone with a good-natured ‘Hello?’ The caller just hung up. I started to get this uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach, the kind of feeling you get when you feel like you’re in some kind of perceptible danger.

A minute went by and I remember the feeling getting stronger. The phone rang again, and again it was from ‘Restricted’. Now as an aside right here I must state that I absolutely abhor the label ‘Restricted’ in this context. It connotes a level of doom because the caller is not only unknown but also classified. These days, I all-out refuse to answer any ‘Restricted’ numbers, my own innate curiosity be damned.

I was annoyed at the persistence of the caller but I answered it again in the name of investigation. Again the cowardly caller hung up without speaking. By that time I was starting to realize that nothing about the exchange was random or a mistake in the usual sense of the word; it was purposeful and intentional. The phone rang once more another minute later. I was really irritated by that point so I answered the phone by emphatically declaring that the charade was getting ridiculous. Instead of hanging up as she had done on the previous two occasions, she responded with what became her trademark saying, “fucking bitch.”

I was taken aback but I quickly recognized the voice as the one from the bar the night before. I had heard her correctly after all. I requested to know who she was and what the meaning of all the harassment was. I’ll never forget her reply to that question, a sinisterly spiteful “Oh, you know exactly who this is.” It was chilling, truth be told. Her voice was bloodcurdling cold and slightly sociopathical in sound. But I truly had no idea who she was or what I possibly could have done to her to deserve that kind of treatment. Before I could express that sentiment to her though, she promptly cut off the call.

I’m not going to lie here, I started to panic a little. As an avid watcher of Criminal Minds and as a past law clerk at the prosecutor’s office, I know full-well what terribly, crazy and insane things people are capable of perpetrating given the right motivations. I wasn’t pleased at all that now apparently one of the many nutjobs in this world had decided to set her sights on me. Admittedly, I tend to be a bit paranoid by nature, so to have someone actually threaten me in no uncertain terms was more than a little disconcerting.

From that moment on, I started telling my friends and acquaintances all about it so that if something did happen to me, the police would know where to start looking. I was pretty sure at the time that the situation would escalate; she didn’t sound like she was at all finished harassing me. And she wasn’t. But for the rest of that weekend, for whatever reason, she left me alone. Unfortunately though, she was just getting started.

Come Monday morning, as I was settling into the desk to embark on my very first day of bar exam preparation, my phone buzzed and I remember feeling a chill of panic as I looked at the caller. It was Ms. Restricted. I didn’t answer the phone; instead I turned it completely off. I didn’t even want her to have the satisfaction of hearing my phone ring and knowing that I would receive a missed call from her. It was no doubt especially irritating for her as I didn’t have a voicemail at that time. So by shutting off my phone, I literally made it impossible for her to harass me. Of course, it also made it impossible for anyone else to reach me, but I figured that was okay since I had to get serious about studying anyway.

So I placed my phone away and resolved to concentrate on the screen in front of me as the portly professor began to lecture on torts, a subject by the way that I hadn’t studied since the first year of law school and would inarguably be rusty at. In fact, I would come to learn more about torts in that Barbri class than I ever learned during those first two semesters of school. It is actually quite surprising the amount of information you can’t retain in two years, but I suppose that’s a digression for another time and venue.

About a week went by with my phone being completely shut off and it finally occurred to me that my parents might wonder what was going on. After I spoke briefly with my father, I hung up the phone.  But just as I was about to turn it off again, Ms. Restricted called. At that point I was thinking “Holy Fucking Shit” this nutjob must have been calling me non-stop because I don’t believe in coincidences. I answered the call with the idea that I would talk some sense into her. She accused me of sleeping with her boyfriend, not once but continually, hurled a few choice insults along those lines, and then hung up before I could get a word in.

Quickly I turned the phone back off and threw it down. Paranoia was then majorly coursing through me. I found myself wondering if Ms. Restricted was somehow able to discern when I had turned my phone back on. I questioned what kind of a nut she was.  The idea she could have that information was really frightening. I immediately jumped over to the window and scanned the outside area for suspicious people but I saw none. Still I wasn’t convinced that she wasn’t lurking around nearby, so I drew the blinds shut and decided to go smoke a bowl to calm my nerves.

When my roommate arrived home that evening, I updated her on the situation. She thought at the time it could be the girlfriend of Josh (names have been changed), a guy that I casually dated a year earlier. She rationalized that it was Josh's girlfriend mainly because we had recently run into them both, and the girlfriend was acting oddly juvenile. But I expressed a fair amount of doubt in that scenario. What kind of a special nutcase would hold a grudge for more than a year? And since she wasn’t even his girlfriend at the time I was seeing him, it didn’t make a ton of sense that she would be Ms. Restricted. But we didn’t dwell on it long.

Skip ahead to mid-June. My phone had been more or less shut off for close to a month, much to the chagrin of friends and family trying to get a hold of me. I decided it might be time to test the waters by turning it back on and seeing if Ms. Restricted was still lurking about. My curiosity was a factor in that decision but I also felt like I was keeping up fairly impressively with the Barbri interactive pace program and could do with a little distractive nuisance. Besides, if she continued the harassment, I could just shut my phone off again.

For the first few days that my phone was back on, I received no annoying ‘Restricted’ calls. So I was thinking maybe she gave up, or in the alternative, figured out she had made a mistake in harassing me in the first place. But I came to find out one afternoon that that wasn’t the case at all. I was sitting in class waiting for the lecture to begin when I felt my phone buzz. Sure enough it was her, Ms. Restricted. She was back. I turned to my friend sitting next to me and showed her the screen of my phone. She knew all about the prior harassment and offered to answer the call. I reluctantly allowed her to do so. But in hindsight, that was a mistake. Apparently thinking it might be funny to poke the unstable nutjob, my friend teased her about the boyfriend issue that was obviously a sore subject. My friend said something to the extent of “Oh yea, he was so good, aren’t you jealous,” before she promptly hung up on Ms. Restricted.

I immediately knew it would be a big problem.  Ms. Restricted was definitely going to up the ante now. I was far from amused. I asked my friend why she had to kick the hornet’s nest and raise some hell but she just shrugged in response. Not even thirty seconds later, Ms. Restricted called back. Now that my friend had basically announced my guilt thus stripping me of any further deniability, I knew I couldn’t answer the call. Ignoring it didn’t work; Ms. Restricted had become enraged. She called about four times in a row before I finally had to shut it off once again. Then I chastised my friend for her unhelpful meddling. But I let it go soon thereafter as the lecture began and the topic was property. As far as the MBE was concerned, property law was my undoing. I had to focus.

That night, I turned my phone back on and was instantly bombarded by calls from Ms. Restricted. This woman seriously had no life. She obviously made it a full time job stalking and harassing me. I don’t see how any man could possibly be worth that much strife. Anyway I finally relented and answered the phone, stating immediately, and before she could get a word in, that I had no idea who she was or who her boyfriend was.

She of course didn’t buy my ignorance on the matter even though it was actually authentic and sincere. But instead of hanging up this time, Ms. Restricted somehow found a little confidence and began chatting with me. I told her that I believed she was mistaken but when she said “Lux, please…” I realized that I was in fact the person of interest to her. That was a shocking moment; I really started freaking out. Until then I had been under the assumption that she had the wrong person. But the truth of the matter was, I had wronged her somehow. It may have been something small and insignificant, but in her eyes it was a wrong nonetheless. Because I didn’t want to have to spend the foreseeable future looking over my shoulder and wondering if every woman I came across with a scowl was Ms. Restricted, I decided in that moment to try to mend fences. I knew it was going to be hard when I had no idea who she was or what she was under the impression I had done, but I was going to try nevertheless.

I immediately demanded to know who she was and who her boyfriend was, but she refused to divulge the information. I asked her how I was supposed to stop seeing him if I didn’t even know who he was to begin with. She had no answer for that. Instead she proceeded to engage me in an hour-long guessing game, one that was never actually resolved in that phone call. In the midst of the game, where she gave me clues (I wish that were a joke) as to her identity, she also concocted a crazy story about how it wasn’t really her boyfriend that I was sleeping with but she was calling on behalf of a friend. Of course I didn’t believe it; I don’t care how good a friend I have, I’m not going to stalk someone for her. I called bullshit on her, but she was insistent.

In life I have sort of learned that a lot of battles are not worth fighting. This includes battles with crazy ladies who may or may not know where I live and what car I drive. So finally I just stated that I believed her. At the end of the conversation, she alluded that the calls would end now that we talked. I was wary of that statement, particularly because nothing really was resolved, but I accepted her promise on face value anyway.

And the calls did stop. But then they resumed. It was T minus one week until the bar exam. I was on the last leg of the marathon and the calls from Ms. Restricted picked up again. I was already freaking out about the test: did I study enough, will California Civil Procedure rear its ugly head in one of the six essays, will there be crossovers to deal with? I was trying to cram as much information into my head as humanly possible. The last thing I needed was this crazy, persistent nutjob back on the horizon. But there she was, like an ugly stain, making herself known five or six times a day.

It got to a point, I want to say the Friday before the exam, where I just decided that I wasn’t going to allow her to make me fail. I didn’t want her having the last laugh. Nobody deserves to get the last laugh except me. So I became determined to pass, of course I was always somewhat determined, but her diligent harassment spurred me on even more. I wanted to be able to assert wholeheartedly that she wasn’t able to faze me at all.  So for the next two days, I focused solely on preparing for the exam. I honestly didn’t think about Ms. Restricted at all, except once or twice in the form of a criminal law hypothetical. I imagined what kind of criminal and civil laws she was violating and what kind of arguments were supported by the facts at hand. It was extremely helpful in studying and the bar exam went off without a hitch. I was pretty confident after the final performance test was written and they called time. There was no possible way I could have failed.

On November 19, 2010, I found out that I passed the bar exam. So fuck you stalker! Some might say she gave it a valiant effort but mine was stronger and more impressive.  I have since found out Ms. Restricted’s identity though I won’t share on this forum. She was someone that I knew and it was a situation that she blew way out of proportion in her own mind. I never slept with her boyfriend or had even the mildest interest in doing so. To this day I still believe she is an unstable nutjob though she eventually did apologize for the harassment and I accepted it graciously. Regardless, I take a certain amount of solace in the fact that while she did make me uneasy and slightly more paranoid than I’m accustomed to during a time in my life where I needed anything but that, in the long run she wasted a lot of her own time and energy on a futile endeavor – harassing me – and that’s time she will never be able to recover. It turns out there really was a woman out there (potentially more than one in fact), who was sleeping with her boyfriend. All that time she spent stalking me, she could have spent stalking the other woman. When we finally spoke and all things were revealed, it was that little fact that she expressed the most regret over.

In closing, I am telling this story now only because the upcoming bar exam has reminded me about it. Also, it was a very odd thing in my life that has further awakened me to the craziness of people in this world. But despite the certainly large number of nuts out there, in the year since this all happened, I can honestly say with a straight face that her disgracefulness is thus far unrivaled.

The least so I hope.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Little Scary-Ass Dinosaur Creatures

The young and eager officer pulls the car up to the curb outside the police station with a quick maneuver. Detective Donovan announces that this is a fine spot and opens her door to exit. The officer cuts the engine and leaves the vehicle hurriedly, probably to aid Detective Donovan in my transfer. But I’m not going to my demise willingly. She instructs me to get out of the car as she makes her exit and holds open the door. I don’t respond in any way, causing her to make an impatient hand motion at me and repeat her request that I exit the vehicle. I decline to move. Get out of the car, she commands, tapping her foot and sighing impatiently. That’s not going to work. I shake my head vehemently back and forth. If I remain in the car, I can’t be locked up in a dark, windowless room with nothing more than my fading high to keep me company. At least in this car I can still see a vestige of freedom.

I’m not leaving, I tell her defiantly, adding that she’ll have to kill me first. I watch her face for indications of whether she will accept the challenge or back off. But she doesn’t respond at all. Instead she crosses her arms slowly and then turns to the young and eager officer standing nearby. Go fetch those lizards for me, she instructs him with impassioned vexation. He nods and walks off. I see what she’s doing here; I’m not blind. She wants me to believe that she just so happens to have a bunch of lizards at her disposal inside. I scoff and shake my head, mildly amused by her silly idea of blackmail. While unfortunately it is no secret that I am deathly afraid of lizards, not all lizards just the ones in California, I do not believe that she actually has some in her possession that she can just have fetched on a moment’s notice. That’s ridiculous.

It’s the middle of the night, I point out shrewdly, stifling an arrogant laugh at her expense. You won’t be able to catch any lizards right now, I relay confidently. In response, Detective Donovan smiles and leans down into the car, placing her hands on the seat and looking at me with startling composure and almost bloodcurdling seriousness. She has an all-knowing smirk on her face that is starting to make a great uneasiness grow inside me. My skin is beginning to feel hot and my pulse is quickening. I had them collected earlier this afternoon in anticipation of picking you up, she notifies me in a calm and collected voice. I knew you would give me trouble, she adds by way of explanation, noting that now I have some motivation to cooperate with her.

I smile uncomfortably, desperately hoping that she’s joking with me about all this. But she nods and indicates that she is totally serious. You’re bluffing, I stammer out, trying to sound assured. But the words come out shaky and panicky and not at all as imposing as I had hoped. She nods again, lifting her eyebrows and shrugging briefly. We’ll see, she states, looking away from me coolly and with nonchalance. We will just have to see, she repeats giving me another shrug, oddly calm now considering her anger spell of earlier. Could she actually have lizards somewhere in the police station, waiting patiently to be let loose and freak me out? No, that’s preposterous! Isn’t it?

I crack my knuckles nervously and peer around Detective Donovan to see if the officer is returning with anything. My gut tells me that she is bluffing, that she doesn’t have the type of foresight needed to concoct and carry out a plan this diabolical. But as I catch sight of the officer walking back this way carrying a sizeable box covered with a towel, I immediately decide that I am too scared to find out one way or another. Alright, alright, alright, I yell, raising my hands in the air and scooting toward the door that Detective Donovan still has open for me. You win okay, you win, I exclaim in full, unadulterated surrender. Just call off the lizards, I scream in a full blown panic.

She smiles victoriously and then nods, holding up her hand and wordlessly directing the officer to halt where he stands with the mysterious box. He complies instantly, not moving any further forward and not moving any further backwards. I shut my eyes and rub my forehead, breathing a huge sigh of relief and cursing myself for having a publicly-known fear. It’s an inconvenience like no other, especially when there are people in your life willing to exploit it at any cost.

Okay get out of the car, Detective Donovan directs, grabbing hold of my arm. I swallow once and open my eyes. My heart is still beating really fast and I am visibly shaking from the possibility that there could be lizards inside that box. The relative proximity of any possible lizards in that box is really making me fear my every move. It’s also making me fear what she might do with the lizards, if there are in fact some contained in that box. Taking all things into account, I decide to abide by her instructions to exit the vehicle knowing failure to do so might bring unwanted lizards into my life. So I move further toward the door and the exit with an air of submission. I don’t want her thinking that she needs to get lizards involved in this. The whole fight was supposed to be between me and her, not me, her and little scary-ass dinosaur creatures. Now the playing field is all kinds of uneven and there’s not a damn thing I can do about it. Complaining rarely does any good.

As I make it to the seat next to the door, Detective Donovan reaches up and pulls me out of the car by the hood of my jacket. She doesn’t even give me a chance to exit on my own accord. I stumble as my feet hit the ground awkwardly and I casually wonder if my ankles will be in pain tomorrow as a result. She scolds me for fooling around but I’m doing no such thing. Because my lower extremities have been basking in a large hiatus of inactivity for quite some time now, they are clearly ill-prepared to function without proper warning.

Detective Donovan grudgingly helps me to my feet before she starts leading me toward the front doors of the police station. I eye the box filled with potential lizards as we pass by the young and eager officer, making sure that he doesn’t exhibit any sudden movements and bring the box closer to me. While it’s dishonorable to even acknowledge, just the mention of lizards can throw my rational mind out the window and I am helpless to combat any of the related physiological symptoms that arise as a general byproduct of that potential lizard proximity. I think it pretty much goes without saying that Detective Donovan is a dirty fighter, drudging up childish information and using it to sinisterly manipulate me. It’s clearly a breach of ethics and she should be reprimanded by her direct superiors and the Constitution.

***Note: This is an excerpt from an unpublished story.  Some names have been changed.  If you want to read the rest, find me a f**king literary agent because I am way too lazy to do it myself.  Thanks for reading. Semi-Colon Parentheses.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Three Hour Sentence

I watch the ball go back and forth, back and forth.  I follow it with my eyes, left to right, left to right.  There is no clear winner here and I’m starting to believe the match will never end.  But it has to.  Nothing can last forever.  I inject the first ten milligrams of heroin solution into my left arm.  I don’t have to use a tourniquet this time because of my two weeklong hiatus.  My veins are healthy, vibrant and full.  They have recuperated quite nicely during the break.  But soon enough I’ll be back in the thick of it, needing both a tourniquet and a larger dose to get me good.  I’m on the precipice of what’s likely to be an extraordinary binge.  This shows absolutely no signs of dying.  We are what we do.

They have turned the kitchen table into a platform for ping pong.  I’m not sure where they acquired the net from but I don’t ask.  For some unusual reason, they both seem very into the game; it has taken over my mother’s inherent need for order and schedules.  I must say it is strange to see her care for something so trivial, so juvenile and so meaningless in the grand scheme of things.  This is after all the same woman who once scolded me for getting an “A” when there were “A Pluses” available.

Seconds or hours later, Tegan hands me the red ping pong paddle and requests that I step in for her.  I accept the paddle reluctantly and a bit grudgingly, not feeling completely confident or assured in the functionality of my hand-eye coordination at this moment.  My mother prompts me to get moving, impatiently displeased with my lack of luster.  I roll my eyes but eventually comply, albeit somewhat lazily.  With my back to the big window that looks out north, I raise my head slightly and steady my grip on the paddle.  This could easily be a disaster for me.  For all I know, I am displaying a bag full of tells, relatively powerless to suppress them.  But I don’t feel at this moment like I have much other choice.

She prepares herself to start off the serve, bouncing the ball a couple of times, a thinly veiled attempt at intimidation or some other kind of bullying tactic.  My mother has always been great at striking fear in our hearts.  I can recall the sounds of malevolent muttering coming up the stairs from the laundry room and warning us to behave or else.  I know I never relished being the focal point of her anger; luckily my younger sister Karen almost always accepted the brunt of that.  The rest of us were glad for it.

But I am grown now and her scare tactics will no longer work on me.  More to the point, I am unimpeachable in this state; nothing could ever hope to faze me.  This drug would never allow me to feel anything bad, not even for a second.  I’m grateful for that.  It’s a relationship I tend to exploit whenever I have the time and means to indulge.  Though to be honest, it’s not an addiction.  I couldn’t put my life on hold for it and I would never allow it to run my world completely.

Now that some amount of quantifiable time has passed, I can feel the opiate gently receding.  It hasn’t left me completely, but it soon will.  By all accounts I have only a few moments of blissful euphoria left.  Then it will be time to reload, an ugly process I only take part in out of necessity and lack of other more suitable options.  When I look back on my youth I can actually recall having a slight phobia of needles, something very humorous to me now.  Certainly back then the idea of getting a vaccination made me incredibly uneasy and somewhat anxious.  Naturally I have since gotten over all my needle-related apprehension, and not a moment too soon.

I return my concentration to the game as my mother clears her throat.  She wants to begin the match, irritated with my obvious inattention to the matter.  As she swirls the green paddle in her right hand a couple of times, I find myself wondering when this kind of stuff started mattering to her.  It never did before.  She has developed some strange priorities and I’m not really sure how they came about.

Finally she is done with all the show and serves the ball, a quick jab to the left hand side of the table.  That was in, she declares proudly.  I never really had a chance at that ball, what with my slow reflexes and terrible backhand.  She pulls another ping pong ball out from somewhere and serves to the exact same spot once again.  Of course I miss that one as well.  I don’t even attempt a noble swing at it.  In fact, by the time I realized what had happened, it was already too late to react.  She accuses me of not even trying.  I respond by telling her that it’s just a game, another pointless activity to pass the time with.  Its importance level to me is extremely low.

She shakes her head and picks up another ball to serve, imploring me to take this one seriously for a change.  I nod in agreement and start to think that maybe switching hands would help.  But my left hand only has four working fingers due to a basketball rebounding incident in the eighth grade.  So I suppose it’s not really the best hand to use in a game like this where hand strength and poise mean everything.

I decide to stick with my right hand after all, knowing it is the stronger, more athletic one anyway.  When she serves the ping pong ball this time, I am actually able to respond somewhat successfully.  We get a volley going until she hits the ball way off to the right and far out of bounds.  I feel like we should end the game now on a high point for me, but no one else in the room seems to agree with that sentiment.  My mother asserts that we will keep playing the game.  I question whether someone else would like to step in for me, but apparently nobody does.  It looks like I’m stuck in this role for awhile longer.

Tegan is on her laptop doing something; in reality I’m sure it’s nothing.  My mother encourages me to serve the ball instead of just looking around the room in search of a graceful exit.  I hesitate, not really wanting to persist in this game any further but not feeling like I have much of a choice.  Eventually I comply in order to cease the relentless petitioning from everyone around.  We get another volley going, despite my mother’s attempt to best me by slamming the ball to the back corner of the table.  I adapt impressively, given my relative intoxication and total indifference to the matter.

After awhile of this back and forth, I start to get to a point where moving my arm in the same fashion is a heavy irritation.  Finally I decide I’m done responding to the ball so I let it fly past me without taking a swat.  It bounces to the floor and rolls over toward where the bunnies are sitting in their cages.  Of course my mother doesn’t hesitate to announce that she won the point and it is her serve once again.  Must this go on further?

I exhale slowly and rub my eyes, wondering when enough will be enough.  As she winds back to serve, I put my hands up to halt the action.  I tell her to wait as I set the red ping pong paddle down on the table softly.  I take a fresh syringe out of my pocket, one that I have already pre-loaded with ten milligrams of heroin solution, and hover it around the inside of my left arm, looking for a good vein to plunge.

Do you have to do that right now, she asks me with slight exasperation.  I nod as I scrutinize my left arm for a good injection point, indicating to her that this is very important.  She sighs and shakes her head as I make her wait for me to inject the opiate into my bloodstream.  This shouldn’t take long, I assure her.

It’s an easy stick; it always is when I’ve been away for a little while.  Truth be told, it’s one of the main reasons I stay away for as long as I do.  It can be a true hassle trying to find a viable vein with a few days of constant heroin use under my belt.  I wouldn’t wish that kind of struggle on my greatest nemesis.

As I pull out the needle, I feel instantly alive again.  The heroin rush is like nothing else on this earth.  It’s like a body-slam of ecstasy, a complete and total infiltration of feel good chemicals, all energized and eager to please me.  It’s as if a compassionate soul threw a balloon filled with euphoria right at my face.  It smashes upon contact and soaks me to the core.  But it’s not cold.  Quite the contrary, it is warm and makes me feel like anything is possible and everything is good.  It’s the only time in my life where I can see my future as potentially bright.

* * * * *

We pick up the game once again and I surprisingly get some pretty good shots in.  But just as the game could be mine, my father walks into the room and announces that it is time to head down to the awards ceremony.  Ugh, I would rather play this game than endure that one.  I’m dreading the next three hours openly and honestly, knowing it will be a painful waste of my time.  But it has been made perfectly clear to me in no uncertain terms that my attendance is mandatory.  Believe me, there are a million and one other places I’d rather be spending that time.

Ándale rápido, my father yells in his fluent Spanish tongue.  He always has to have everyone in a panic, even if it’s only a subconscious goal of his.  It doesn’t really work too well anymore.  Over the years we have adapted and come to see this behavior of his as ordinary.  It barely even elicits attention anymore.  But we all know this is an event we must attend.  Merely ignoring our father’s screams is not going to make it un-so.

We slowly respond by following him down the steps to the garage.  My other two sisters have already loaded themselves into the car and have taken to complaining about the wait.  I get in the back seat and lock my door so no one can get in next to me and force me to the middle spot.  I absolutely hate the middle spot.  It always puts you slightly higher up than everyone else and right in the way of the rearview mirror.  That’s extra attention I don’t need.  Plus there is nowhere to lean your head or your arm.  It’s a terrible spot.

Once everyone is seated in the car, my father starts up the engine and tunes to the radio station playing the Padres game.  I get the feeling he doesn’t care much for going to this event either but he’s trained himself to display a healthy amount of interest.  If he had his way though, he would be sitting in his office lair, watching the baseball game on the big screen, holding the cat in his lap and dozing off in his desk chair.  But for whatever reason, he is very intent on making us believe that this is a priority for him.  In turn he asks that it become a priority for us as well.  I must say there’s a very slim chance of that happening, at least for me.

I listen as he complains about how we are going to be late and how parking will be an absolute zoo.  It’s just down the street, I offer in an attempt to quell the rising panic and long string of complaints that are sure to follow.  My father always panics about situations where he is bound to run into a lot of people.  He really hates crowds, and traffic, and driving at night.  Karen urges him to start driving now because she doesn’t want to be late to the ceremony.  She is one of the honorees and therefore she is mostly to blame for us having to endure this long and tedious night ahead.

Once we reach the top of our driveway, my father shocks us all by making a right turn.  What are you doing, my mother questions, noticing the error almost as fast as the rest of us have.  Most people on this side of the street never turn right because right leads to a cul-de-sac, a dead-end, a pit.  But my father assures us that the gate will be open today, even though in the fifteen years we have lived here, I have never once seen it open.  Why should today be any different?  This is going to make us really late if we have to turn around and come all the way back up, Karen whines in her usual fashion.  My father disregards her concerns with a simple wave of the hand.  He is not at all convinced to turn around.

As we drive down to the dead end, I note the “not a thru street” sign in yellow and black on the side of the road.  It’s mocking us and our decision to head this way regardless of warnings and ample experience.  I hate that sign even though I know it has a valid and inarguable point.  But just the fact that it has to rub our faces in it seems utterly unnecessary and bordering on psychopathic.  Signs, like all inanimate objects, should not have the right to be glib or condescending.  The Constitution does not stand for it.

Technically though, this street is a thru street, so that sign is consequently a big, fat, yellow liar.  The only thing that lends any sort of credence to the sign’s exclamations is the asshole at the bottom of the cul-de-sac who constructed a gate that essentially cuts the road in half and prevents it from being thru.  In his defense he has always asserted vigorously that he erected the gate only in order to discourage traffic from tearing up the street late at night.  But to me, and most other people on the block, his reasons are more closely related to mad power trips than noble feats.  He’s largely considered by the neighborhood to be a belligerent asshole with major control issues.

As we near the bottom of the street, I can see that my father was actually right in his preposterous claims.  For some odd reason the gate is open tonight.  I’ve never seen anything like this before.  We slow to a crawl as we come up on other cars waiting to cross through the gate.  I suppose everyone wants to use this pass tonight; they probably consider it a once in a lifetime opportunity.  I notice groups of people on foot walking through the gate as well, taking care not to slip down the rather steep hill that connects our street to the main street below.  This is sort of amazing.

I’ve never seen such crowds of people here before.  If I didn’t know any better, I would say it was the Fourth of July and this street was prime viewing grounds for fireworks and other related festivities.  But we have never had fireworks anywhere around here and I’m pretty sure that May 26th is not the new July 4th.  I mean nothing spectacular, at least that I can recall, has ever occurred on this day in history.

I suppose everyone around here is heading to the same destination as we are.  This is going to be a huge event and I wouldn’t be surprised if the whole town showed up in some capacity.  At least the venue is made to accommodate thousands and thousands of people.  It’s the city’s auditorium slash convention center.  Seven years ago they constructed that massive beast right next to the neighborhood elementary-middle school.  Of course it was the year that I graduated into high school, so I didn’t really get to take advantage of the brand new auditorium.  Now those stupid terrors that attend the school get to use it for dances, rainy day picnics and really huge games of heads-up-seven-up.  Recalling that particular injustice now makes me slightly angry, but I’m certain the useless emotion will pass in due time.

As our car inches through the narrow opening, my father starts to worry that the gate isn’t open wide enough for our sport utility vehicle to make it through unscathed.  That’s a ridiculous statement.  We all assure him that it will be fine; he has ample room on both sides of the car.  I think he just panics sometimes when it comes to driving.  Karen again starts to express concern over getting to the ceremony on time.  I tell her I don’t want to hear anything more about it.  We have over an hour before it is actually set to begin.

Naturally we make it through the gate with space to spare on both sides.  My father likes to get paranoid about all the things that could go wrong.  And the people walking on both sides of our car aren’t helping the situation much for him either.  But the way I see it, they’re all going to get out of our way to prevent injury to their bodies.  That’s just human nature.  No one can really stand the idea of suffering a life-threatening wound.  That fear alone controls everything they do.

* * * * *

After driving around for a good five minutes looking for the absolute best, most advantageous and closet parking space available, we finally park and cut the engine.  Without a whole lot of regard for schedules or appointments, my father likes to take his time when he drives around looking for adequate parking spots.  It makes my mother and Karen absolutely crazy, but I think it’s quite entertaining.  Tegan doesn’t seem to notice much of anything though; she’s been texting on her phone non-stop since we left the house.  Honestly, I don’t know what there is to say but she finds plenty of things to type.  And Rhea, well she’s still fuming about being stuck in the middle seat.  But that’s her curse for being last born and last on the list of seniority.  It’s not our fault she has no clout and no backbone and can’t argue competently or convincingly.  People usually take advantage of those who don’t fight back, another common characteristic of human nature.  But other than that, Rhea isn’t paying much attention to the time or displaying any urgency in that regard.

As we exit the car and start walking in the direction of the huge auditorium entrance, I notice that I am still holding onto the red ping pong paddle.  It’s strange that I didn’t put it down earlier.  It seems like something I would have done because I absolutely loathe holding onto things and being responsible for the safety of them.  I’m pretty sure Tegan would be quite pissed if I lose her red ping pong paddle.  After all, she just purchased them.

I hang back for a minute, assuring them all that I will catch up soon.   I decide to inject another ten milligrams of heroin into my arm, feeling like I could absolutely never survive this night without it.  Years ago this option wouldn’t even have occurred to me.  But here I am with it in my hands, all measured out and ready in a brand new syringe, waiting patiently for me to pull the trigger.  Even if I wanted to, I would be unable to convince myself that I am not better for it, better from knowing it, using it, feeling it, being one with it.  Because the truth of the matter is and will always be that I am better for it, better in every conceivable way.  There is no persuading me otherwise.

Some would say that voice is the drug talking, sinisterly insinuating that my life would have no worth without heroin in it.  But I’m persuaded of that truth.  Only I have known myself with and without it and therefore I can say, with a fair amount of certainty, that I am more content now than I ever was before.  Still it’s a funny thing how I got myself stuck on this little habit.  You can sit there growing up, thinking about all the lines you won’t cross, but when it comes down to it, there are very few lines you won’t cross given the right circumstances.  I can’t even be sorry about that.

After I loiter around the trees and dirt that line the vast parking lot for some untold minutes, reveling in the familiar euphoria that heroin has made my own, I decide that it’s probably time to go inside and brave the horridness that will surely be this event.  Otherwise, I’m sure someone will come out looking for me, knowing full well what it is keeping me to the outskirts.  I’d rather they only have their assumptions, no full and fair proof to charge me with.

For all its faults, chiefly its proximity to an elementary school and its location here in town, this auditorium is incredibly lush and somewhat awe-inspiring.  The fact that they built it at all is quite extraordinary, even though it was years and years in the making.  But this city is hardly worthy of such grand measures, certainly this kind of extravagance is unwarranted.  I feel like they went out of their way to make it grand.  I always sort of wondered what identifiable person they were trying to impress with this edifice.  It must be someone with a lot of clout.

Its dominion and presence is quite remarkable.  There are these old-fashioned street lamps lighting the front terrace area, giving it the impression of an old-time opera house.  You can almost imagine what it was like to live back then, when operas were a valid form of entertainment, at least for the elite.  I’m sure the common man wasn’t attending any operas in his very limited free time, but who really wants to imagine themselves as the common man?  Certainly not me, I like to envision romantic things, exciting things, unrealistic things.  That is where my excitement lies.

The haloic glows that surround each one of these lamps give this place a more authentic touch that only I can truly appreciate.  These images aren’t something that everyone here is privy to.  In fact, I would say the bulk of the attendees aren’t seeing this at all, not in the same spectacular way that I am.  Privilege doesn’t even begin to explain what I feel right now, but I suppose it is an adequate start.

As I make my stumbling way through the crowds of people outside, and the uncompromising security guards inside, I take a moment to gawk a little bit more at the lights and art that line the entrance and hallway of this magnificent building.  In a lot of ways, this inside area is reminiscent of the Louvre, especially that one hallway carpeted in red plush, lined with golden chandeliers and walled with portraits, much like this one.  I remember it sort of had the look and feel of majesty and I could imagine kings living there.  I wonder if this was place was made in that image.  If it were old enough, I could imagine kings living here.

Up ahead I notice a fuss being made.  It’s hard to tell exactly what is going on but a cluster of people have gathered and are looking at something they consider to be quite fantastic.  I walk a little closer to investigate and as the crowd parts slightly, I realize why everyone is hanging around and making such a big deal.  Oh shit, it’s George W. Bush!  Wow, I’ve never seen such a person up close!  This is insane.

George W. is with his wife and they are dancing.  I can’t believe they are actually here.  Of all the dinky little events in the world to go to, why would they possibly want to come here?  I’m so confused.  I consider the possibility that I am just hallucinating and that none of this is real, but all the usual signs of unreality are absent.  Therefore it must be real.

I glance over and catch sight of my parents, standing near the doorway to the stage, some odd feet away from me, their backs to the hoards of people.  I walk over to them and try to get my father’s attention.  He has yet to notice the presence of the former president and he needs to be informed.  These are just the types of things he likes to know about.

W and his wife are right over there, I tell my parents, pointing with my thumb behind me.  They both seem to be in a good amount of shock and awe when they finally see for themselves.  I just don’t know how you fail to observe something like that.  My mother instructs me to give them a break.  Apparently they have been hunting for good seats while I have been outside, and in their words, screwing around.  I guess they are miffed about the blatant heroin usage.  It might be time to scale back in their sights.

We sent Tegan and Rhea off to handle that job, my father states, pushing his hands deep into his pockets.  I inquire whether that will be his best excuse for not noticing the huge display behind him.  He affirms that with a nod.

We start to watch George W. and his wife dance around as the crowd bends and folds for them.  They seem to be showing off in a showy manner, and even though I shouldn’t be, I’m quite impressed.  His wife holds her head back, striking a pose to accommodate the cameras.  A few seconds later, they freeze for another photo.  Suddenly I realize why they have come to this event.  They’re important here, and treated as so.  It’s nice to be among those who appreciate you and view you as a “big deal”.  I would be happier to be here now if I were getting all that positive attention.

I watch as they continue to marvel for the cameras, shaking hands and dancing elegantly in a crowd that was made for them.  They are like royalty here, very fitting for the castle.  What an insanely better quality of life they must have than most of us.  How do some people get so lucky?  Of course I gave up on the notion that life could be fair a long time ago, but the differentiations between one side of the scale and the other border on the extreme in some cases.  I really don’t know how people can look at the injustice in this world and actually say with a straight face that they believe in a merciful god, or any god at all for that matter.  It’s beyond me.

I try to convince my father to walk up and meet George W. because he was generally a fan of him and his presidency.  Of course only generally because I do recall there being quite a few things about that administration to dislike.  But nevertheless, it is somewhat exciting to be in the midst of someone who used to hold such power.  My father refuses to walk over there and introduce himself though.  Even the “this is a once in a lifetime opportunity” aphorism doesn’t work to persuade him.  He would rather just watch from afar.

So that’s exactly what we do.  I lean my back against the wall and stare on as the people begin to come closer and gather around.  George W. and his wife continue to dance and make a general spectacle.  And as the scene unfolds in front of me, a woman a few feet away asks a relatively strange question that makes me pause and do a double take.  She harshly yells over the chattering crowds and light music, “Where are you from?”

I look at her blankly, unclear why she would ask me such an odd question and unsure what to say in response.  Instead of replying ordinarily, I request that she repeat the question, pretending that I didn’t hear it.  You have a different look, not American but something else, she restates with more detail.  This lady is a nut.  Why is she asking me such a weird question?  Before I can answer in any real capacity, my mother responds on my behalf by shouting back at her that I am from a city in New Mexico.

What, I question my mother, completely in shock and absolute confusion.  That is a wildly inaccurate statement and I feel like it came pretty much out of the clear blue sky.  I ask my mother to explain her answer but all she offers up is a shrug.  The woman to my right questions me again, demanding to know from which country I hale from.  I return my attention to her with a look of utter bewilderment.  What the hell is going on here?

Instead of inquiring further or letting this woman’s interrogation of me persist, I decide to just answer the question, hoping to dispose of it and her as fast as possible.  I am from Croatia, I tell her bluntly and dismissively.  It would be nice if she would drop the inquiry right here and now.  I don’t want to get involved in a thing.  She responds much to my chagrin, asking where Croatia is located.  I shake my head and offer that it is a country in Eastern Europe.  She finally seems satisfied enough with my answers.  Nodding briefly, she immediately walks away without another word.  What a bizarre interchange.

I shake my head and return my focus once again to George W. and his wife.  They have ceased dancing and are now starting to walk toward the main room to find their seats for the ceremony.  I bet they have real close seats, like ones in the first or second row.  In my opinion that is too close.  I don’t see how you can enjoy a show that close.  And in the case of this little production, I can’t imagine it being very advantageous to sit close enough for everyone to see when you bail out early.

After George W. and his lofty entourage fully pass by, my parents wave their arms at me and beckon that I follow them toward the seats.  I decline, saying that I must use the restroom first.  My mother warns me not to leave or hang around out here throughout the entire ceremony.  I agree to the terms and walk off in search of the bathrooms as they turn down the steps to find their seats.

The woman’s bathroom is amazing here.  I imagine the men’s isn’t too shabby either.  Not only is there a lush pink couch in the waiting area, but there are upwards of thirty stalls lining the back wall of the bathroom, great for choice and privacy.  I pick a stall near the corner wall and sufficiently far away from everyone else looming around.  Distance is key when illegal things are being attempted.  I must say I also appreciate how these doors reach almost down to the floor.  It makes me feel secluded in a comfortable way.

As I’m searching around my pockets for my last syringe, well I shouldn’t say last but the last one I have with me, I realize that I am still carrying the red ping pong paddle.  Still?  I shake my head in confusion but I nevertheless continue with my quest.  Just as I am readying my arm for another blissful, euphoric heroin injection, some devil woman decides to choose and occupy the stall right next to me.  Really, with all thirty of these vacant stalls ripe for the picking, this woman has to pick the one right next to me?  What the hell is wrong with people?  She must be kidding, this must be a joke.  People don’t really do things like this, do they?  It must be a joke.

But what if it’s not a joke?  What if this is purposeful, willful and intentional?  I start to consider the possibility that this is an assassination attempt upon me.  Does she have the mens rea to attempt my murder?  Am I worthy of garnering such a plot?  Will she ultimately be tragically successful?  No, I’m being overly paranoid, hopelessly irrational.  There is no one who desires me dead, and therefore this is not a murder plot.  But the circumstances surrounding me are eerily reminiscent of a certain scary movie scene and so the question still lingers in my head: Could she be here now only to send a sharp blade through the bathroom stall and into my ear, Scream 2 style?

I freeze, completely motionless, totally convinced, and waiting with bated breath for the knife to strike through the stall.  But it never does.  The woman just takes a piss and then walks to the sink to wash her hands.  I feel relief that she didn’t end up being an assassin.  She was just a strange woman with weird motives.  I guess I probably should have assumed that but the whole situation had a feel of doom to it, something dark that I could not shake.

Once I hear the door close again, I decide that it is safe enough to shoot up.  There will always be something that could deter me from the task but I am more or less inexorable in this state.  So I stick the needle in, pull back a smidge to check for blood, and upon seeing the requisite amount, I confidently plunge the syringe that sends the heroin solution deep into my bloodstream.

Exhale, inhale, exhale.  I remove the needle and discard the syringe in the little box for sanitary napkins.  This feels so nice, like a heavy concentration of all the best things in life.  I am a seriously selfish soul, collecting all the good feelings around me and jamming them unapologetically into my blood.  There’s nothing out there better than this.  When I tire from this rush it will be time to die.  This is the best of the best.

I wash up, even though it’s not customary after this kind of transaction.  I grab a paper towel from the automatic dispenser.  The pure robotics of the machine and how it is able to anticipate my need fascinate me like nothing else in this room.  I begin to think about how the machine works, the mechanics of it and how it was developed.  My mind is terrible at understanding how science and mathematics converge to create technological advances such as this.  But I do try to consider it a lot.

Once I leave the bathroom, I try to remember in which direction the stage is located.  I always get rather discombobulated in big structures such as this one.  Though I must confess, I have been in this building a number of times and accordingly, I have no actual justification for my lack of direction.  It’s really quite inexcusable yet I am making one anyway.

Finally I locate the double doors that lead into the stage area.  This place is entirely too big.  After walking down a few steps, I peer around the area in search of where my family may be sitting.  It looks like every single seat in this immense room is full and the ceremony hasn’t even begun yet.  This is nuts; under most circumstances this is where I would abandon ship.  But I don’t have that luxury right now.  That type of luxury would entail having a car or other rational means of getting home.  Walking would not be rational in my current state.

I text Tegan’s phone in order to find out where they are all sitting.  Even though she is constantly on her mobile device and treats it very much like an appendage, it takes her close to a minute to respond.  Meanwhile people are pushing past me, aggressively searching for family members and friends who came earlier and saved seats for them.  Seat-saving should really be outlawed; it should be first come first serve.  In that case, I wouldn’t have a seat right now and I would have a totally valid excuse for remaining outside.  If I am ever in a position of authority, I am going to strive to make seat-saving illegal.  That’s going to be one of my campaign promises.

Tegan replies that they are all sitting on the right side of the big aisle and half way up.  I begin walking further down the red carpeted ramp, somewhat impressed that Tegan and Rhea were able to snag seats as close as they obviously have.  That’s no small accomplishment for an event like this.  After all, George W. is here and who knows who else.  It must have taken some serious shoulder rubbing and finagling on their part to secure these seats.  I heard people were starting to show up here hours ago.

Finally I spot them sitting in the middle of the row.  Great, there’s no easy access over there.  They couldn’t have gotten anything closer to the aisle?  While I understand beggars shouldn’t be choosers, I expect a little more being an unwilling participant and all.  It looks like they actually tried to pick the most middle seats possible.

Wishing I could walk out but know that I cannot, I grudgingly begin the uncomfortable, awkward and irritating trek through the knees of everyone smart enough to sit closer to the aisle.  I hate bumping into people and I hate people bumping into me.  The whole touching of strangers, potentially sick and disgusting strangers, really irks me, especially when I consider the strange part of strangers.  I guess it is best not to consider it at all.

Most of these people express their displeasure at the interruption with a loud exhale but the really brazen ones also add in an exasperated eye roll.  It’s no picnic for me either.  I take a seat between Tegan and my mother, unfortunately placing myself right in the middle of their conversation about someone from school.  They are always gossiping about some poor soul they find wretched in some way.  It’s usually about her weight gain, cosmetic surgery or prolific need to procreate.  It’s all pretty boring to me, mostly because I don’t find other people’s lives to be all that fascinating.

I close my eyes and sink further into the chair.  I wish I was anywhere else but here.  The blended voices of the audience start to die down as the music gets louder.  The ceremony is probably about to start; loud music is a classic audience silencer.  I try to hand my mother the red ping pong paddle to hold onto.  She accuses me of always asking her to hold things.  I hardly think it’s always.  Ultimately she refuses to accept the paddle so I turn to Tegan for what I hope to be better results.  But Tegan doesn’t want to hold it either, even after I remind her that it is hers and even after I threaten to lose it.  She points out to me that I didn’t have to bring it here in the first place.  It’s hard to argue with that logic.  I ask her to take it anyway, irrespective of my irrationality.  But in lieu of actually responding, she just turns her head back to the stage, leaving me holding the red ping pong paddle up in the shape of an offer.

I sigh with defeat as I realize she will not be accepting my oral contract.  All out of options, I decide to place the paddle under my chair.  Hopefully I will remember to retrieve it later.  But it’s not overly concerning to me right now.  The red velvet curtains open suddenly, revealing a stage with at least three rows of chairs and a large podium directly in the center.  I find myself wondering why this town’s yearly ceremony is of any interest to the former President.  It’s not at all something I can understand.  As unlikely as it sounds he may have a friend receiving an honor tonight.  That would explain his attendance to some degree.  But who knows for sure.  I decide not to let it bother me any further.

The lights on the stage get brighter as the ones above lose immensity.  The show will be starting soon.  I’m fairly discontent here, something incredibly hard to achieve when high on heroin.  In a big way I feel like I’m wasting the drug’s time, like it was meant for better, more exciting things.  But I can’t apologize; without it I would surely die of boredom and I can’t have that.  So I reluctantly accept this as a loss and determine not to grit my teeth over it.  This is my reality, here, alone in a sea of people, waiting miserably for the night to end.  But realistically I know that it’s just the beginning of a three hour sentence.