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Today I woke up and opened my eyes for the eleven-thousand-thirty-seventh day of my life and had a vision. It was a white bedside table with a glass of water on it. I received this vision because light rays bounced off the painted wood and the faceted glass, then entered the holes at the front of my left and right eyeballs and landed UPside-DOWN on the photosensitive retina at the back of each eye. The retinas then translated the light rays into nerve impulses for my brain to process. The brain took the virtual image produced by the impulses and rotated them again a hundred and eighty degrees, and combined them into an apparently singular image, preventing me from seeing double.
Before I got OUT of bed, I touched the sheets with my LEFT hand. The RIGHT hand stayed tucked under my head because it didn't need to also touch the sheets in order for me to fully know what the sheets feel like. LEFT and RIGHT hand, LEFT and RIGHT hemisphere of the brain, Northern and Southern hemisphere of the Earth.
What else can I halve.
My sense of space is binary, based on a body that has been reduced to certain tasks, mostly mental ones; figuring things out. These tasks are oriented around the brain, the eyes, and the ears. My brain sits at the very TOP of my body, the head of household. The eyes and ears route directly to the brain. The side in which the eyes are situated I consider to be the FRONT, and CENTER to be the height at which my eyes are set. I look DOWN at my feet and UP at the sky.
FRONT BACK, LEFT RIGHT, TOP BOTTOM, IN OUT. The bilateral positions extend outward into movement: FORWARD BACKWARD, LEFTWARD RIGHTWARD, UPWARD DOWNWARD, INWARD OUTWARD.
The joy(stick) of life.
There are double of many body parts, and that is because the second is expendable. We have two eyes, two ears, two hands, two legs, two feet, two breasts, two butt cheeks, two lungs, two kidneys. If there is one, we are less likely to live without it. We have one heart, one brain, one liver.
Three Halloweens ago, I was wandering from party to party and a guy handed me a giant carved pumpkin head that he had been wearing all night. I tried it on, and it was the strangest sensation. I could see out the eye holes as if I was inhabiting my own skull. The large hollow head wobbled on my shoulders as I took a pumpkin head selfie.
Poop: Input enters the system, is transformed, and comes out as something else, with a certain shape, smell, color and texture; all depending on what we eat and how we were feeling at the time of digestion.
That man, Hanes, managed to get his name on the underpants of millions of women.
Hannah Darboven's handwriting pieces show writing as the embodied gesture that it is. Before I learned how to write, I would fake it, just making a connected line of loops and squiggles to look like 'adult writing.' Before I could shave I used my mom's embossed metal tschotske the size of a credit card to wipe shaving cream off my legs.
There is a specific part of the movie Lady and The Tramp (a Disney movie about dogs) that I always looked forward to when I was a kid. The main dog character, Lady, is walking through a crowded party in the house where she lives and we are seeing from her perspective, all the human legs bustling about like tall trees. When I was in college, I would sometimes drop DOWN on hands and knees at packed parties and crawl through everyone's feet to get the same perspective.
Last summer, N walked me down Flatbush Avenue from Junior's Deli to Park Slope with my eyes closed. It was easy to entrust my body to her, even as we crossed busy intersections. The unsettling part was when I had to pee and she led me into a crowded bar to use the bathroom. Because I wasn't using the eyes, my attention was available for smells, slight gradations and material change underfoot, temperature and moisture change, and for sounds and the direction of sounds. In the crowded bar, I could feel and hear the proximity of other bodies and imagined their eyes on me. The actual act of peeing and wiping with eyes closed was no big deal. For all I know, the door was wide open.
You can use your toes on the track pad on the MacBook Pro. On the iPhone, the big toe works quite well to go through the apps and to slide through photographs.
I had my first dream smell last week. It was the smell of blood.
A few days ago had what seemed at the time like a genius idea in one of my morning dreams. The idea was to replace all the I's in this book with the silhouette of an apple core.
On the eve of my 29th birthday, I had a lucid dream. Once I realized I was dreaming, my movement and sensory perception slowed way way way down. What felt like losing bodily control was really just my conscious self taking over for my more fluid subconscious self. I was learning how to re-inhabit the dream body in the dream landscape. I could see my own eyelids and perceive my arms as extensions of my brain. To walk towards the door I had to speak it. Walk towards the door. Turn the knob. Walk forward. Outside, I was on a roof. Jump off. Fly. I couldn't quite manage to do that part.
It was August last year when I was gifted with a parable-like dream. I was in the stacks of a vast library looking for nothing in particular. A gray haired couple came rolling a book cart down the hall towards me and as they came closer I saw a baby albino gorilla sitting in the bottom row of the cart. The man explained that the gorilla is ancient although it appears a baby. He said if I wanted to hold the gorilla, I had to be calm and not distracted, because the gorilla was squeamish.
I have a recurring dream where I find a whole extra part of the house that I am living in at the time. Like an attic full of luxurious rooms or a whole wing with a beautiful view and a swimming pool that until that point, had been left untouched.
Right before leaving Los Angeles for this three year graphic design program, I had a dream that I was being sentenced to prison for three years (for an unknown crime). Now it is three weeks before grad school is over and last night I had a dream that I was going to die of an (unspecified) terminal ilness in three weeks.
The door to a corner store is welcoming to the general public and the door to a residential home is not.
When I return to my parents house, the faucet turns the opposite way of the one in my own home. I retrain myself at my parents' house and when I get back to my home, I turn the faucets the wrong way there until I re-re-train myself.
After college I worked at a newspaper in Point Reyes. My boss was very romantic. She preferred candles to electric lights and sitting on the floor to furniture. She had one folding chair that she brought out for visitors. Once I was a visitor. When I arrived, she was lying belly down on the ground reading The Brothers Karamazov by the light of a single candle next to her book. It felt like walking into a temple and I had a strong urge to take off my shoes.
Cats seem to follow the sun as it slowly moves across the room. They also sit in the window for hours and watch it like a television. In Croatia I watched a cat staring cross-eyed at a bird perched on the roof just on the other side of the window for five minutes.
In our current apartment, we sit on the ground in the 'internet corner' because that's the only place with a strong internet connection.
I wasn't sure if I had the right apartment so I sniffed the smell coming OUT of the crack of what I thought was L's door. Then to make sure, I sniffed someone else's door to compare. It was definitely L's door.
The only way to get the full satisfaction of cleaning dust is to wipe it up with my hands.
Today, M got fed up with having to go to the internet corner every time he wanted to look something up, so he paid three dollars for one hour of high speed internet. I am sitting here in the living room while he is on the computer, and my whole sense of the room is shifted, suddenly, the internet corner has spread to the whole apartment and I can see internet everywhere. The living room table is suddenly a research station rather than a space just for eating and writing. But in one hour, the spell will be over and the connection will recede back to the corner.
F was my friend and roommate. She had her bed positioned at an angle a few feet from the wall. It bothered me every time I went into her room. While she was out of town, I slept in her bed because it was way nicer than mine. First thing I did was push the mattress against the wall, and then just before she got home, I returned it to the askew position.
Depending on who I am talking to, I might tell someone I live on the fifth floor of the Knickerbocker Apartments or 625 Orange Street or the East Rock neighborhood or New Haven or the state of Connecticut or the East Coast of the Unites States or North America, or the Northern Hemisphere or Earth or the Solar System or the Milky Way Galaxy. East, New, East, North, North, Outer Space. I currently live in all these places.
Every time someone comes into my desk space in the atrium, I jump because I am sitting at the computer with my BACK facing the entrance. I have no spatial awareness when I'm focused on a screen.
Where I was house sitting in Guilford, there was a grandfather clock in the living room. I spent the weekend there working with M, and the clock would notify the passing of every half hour, and with a special song for the passing of every hour. I kept slipping in and out of an awareness of time passing. Just when I would lose track, the ding would strike again.
When I went to port of Los Angeles, I watched a ship unpacking cargo from mainland China. Usually I forget the fact that the ocean connects distant territories, but in that moment, the portal-ness of the ocean became evident.
A new branch of a furniture franchise has opened in the 'gate to New Haven' area. They have taken over a mid-century modern building and ignored the original structure, leaving it empty, but with a giant warehouse sized growth on the back of it. They have a larger than life sign announcing 'Jordan's Furniture.' And the other side of the building is the most mysterious part. It says 'It' in two story sized pink letters. You can see it from a mile away. The entire parking lot has pink parking lines, another extreme branding intervention. A surprising amount of families with children rush towards the entrance. Inside, it's a sub-par version of IKEA with tanner, more expensive, more leather furniture. I follow the general flow to the back of the warehouse where there is a giant It again over a large entryway. It is dark inside the room, and I can hear music. I enter and see a three-story-high five-storiy-wide space with colored light bouncing off all the industrially insulated walls. There's musical fountain light show, over which children and adults are flying across the entire length of the room on zip lines, two-up on both sides. There is also a bungee rope where people are leaping off a ledge two stories down to a large foam mat. A two foot child on the zip line is followed by an adult kicking her legs to a David Bowie musical fountain show below her.
Two snow storms ago, M and I walked in reverse with our backs to the harsh wind. We were still walking towards our destination, but we were looking where we came from and not able to see where we were going. We could only see people as they passed us. We had defined a new front, opposite of forward. This sensation made apparent how frontal we are. We align 'front' with the direction the eyes are facing and thus with forward motion. Even if you are moving towards a place, but your eyes are facing away from that place, you are considered to be moving backwards.
M and I went on a walk during the snowstorm a few weeks ago. In a snowstorm, people feel free to walk in the middle of the street where they would usually be out of place. The snow obscures the separation between sidewalk and road. There is nothing to disturb the new flattened hierarchy.
There was a guy walking down the street wearing a Buzz Light Year shirt, the kind that could serve as a lazy-person's costume with front and back printed with Buzz's torso. I complimented him on it as he walked by, and he said Thanks! I got it from Disney.
In the Situationist text Theory of the Derive, Debord notes a study that tracked a Parisian student in a year and found that there were hardly any significant deviations in her itinerary, which formed a geographic triangle between the three aspects of her life: school, home and her piano teacher. Unfortunately, this describes me pretty accurately. Last semester, when M and I took the shuttle home, we lost track of time and ended up a mile past our stop. This minor deviation put us somewhere refreshingly unfamiliar, and I could see clearly how trodden my path had become.
I go through phases of experimental interactions with strangers. In college, I was walking around suburban Middletown Connecticut in a listless mood. I heard someone playing Classical piano as I passed by their house. I gathered my courage to step onto the porch, walk up to the door, and knock to ask if—well, I didn't know what I would do if someone answered. I was greeted by a teenaged boy who was rehearsing the piano. He invited me to sit and listen without my hardly saying anything. Eventually, I started to feel awkward and let myself out. He continued to play.
In this same time period, I was melancholy and started walking around late at night. Instead of going to one of my friends, I confided in the woman who sells late night hotdogs from a metal cart and she let me cry on her shoulder after I bought a hot dog.
Cul de sacs. Are there any true dead ends?
Sitting at the window in my fifth floor apartment, I watched a squirrel travel from the ground UP a tree, across the street on the telephone wire, into another tree, to another wire, and he got way up the street faster than I could have walked there.
It would be inconceivable to bring my car to a full stop in the CENTER lane of the I-91 highway.
Four Halloweens ago, I was living in LA. I didn't have any plans or a costume (as usual.) I cobbled together an outfit and drove to an area where I knew there would be parties, and started walking into them. I decided not to talk or smile or make contact with anyone except through the eyes. I would meander through, and then watch people from the wall or stand still in the middle of a bustling room. I was a creepy character, which is perfect on Halloween. I managed not to talk to anyone, even if they tried. Usually if I am antisocial at a party it makes me feel bad, but in this case, I felt empowered in my silent bubble. At the third party, I ran into someone I knew which blew my cover, so then I was just a girl with no costume at a Halloween party.
If I'm biking on a slight incline, I find it far more discouraging than a visible incline where at least it is apparent why I'm having such a hard time.
As I was walking down the street last summer I encountered someone carrying a full size mirror behind their back, walking ten feet ahead of me. There I was walking towards myself walking away from myself, what was behind me proceeding FORWARD at a consistent pace. I took a detour from my intended path to follow the mirror until it turned in to an apartment building.
Every year, I fly across the country a few times. I happened to be awake on the plane over Summer break as we flew over the Grand Canyon. That was the first time I truly appreciated flying. Then I fell asleep, and the landscape was completely new: flat, gridded crop land as far as I could see. I dozed off again and then we were hitched up in the clouds, like all the most generic images of heaven. I dozed off again and we were flying over huge peaks of snowy mountains.
The Yale engineering building is a good advertisement for itself. Every time I walk by the fishbowl space, the tools and machines are on display in perfect order, a majestic perfection. The thing that makes the work space so inviting is that the tools are in their place and arranged by size, but in order to maintain this image, this means the tools can't be used.
One of my favorite things to do is walk around in the evening looking into people's windows (from a safe distance) as I pass by on the sidewalk. Windows are fascinating because of the lack access to the interior.
When a bus drives by with no passengers, it ceases to be a bus and becomes a long, well-lit, moving room.
I was waiting for M outside the AT&T shop. There was a man walking slower than the rest, cautiously. Whenever someone came down the sidewalk towards him, he would pull inside a shop doorway and wait plenty of time for them to pass. He did this for every single person, about six times. Then he turned the corner when someone passed by and I thought he was gone. But then he popped out again and continued down the street after the others passed. The limits of this man's sense of personal space were made visible to me like a sour yellow egg around him. After this, I started to see the shapes around other pedestrians.
At the supermarket, we travel down the aisles like through a city street, all the while still inside the same marketplace.
I ate a quick breakfast one morning. I left a piece of a biscuit on the plate and when I returned home at 2am, I ate the remaining bite of the biscuit. It was a real life jump cut.
I am both intrigued and frightened that I make an appearance in google street view. I am on my bike on Elm Street in New Haven on my way back from the grocery store. In standard fashion, my face has been blurred out, and I am craning my head to watch the panopticon eye passing in the opposite direction.
As a bicyclist, I have certain privileges that cars and pedestrians don't have. If the walk light is on, I can identify as a pedestrian and continue forward. If the traffic light is green, I can identify as a car and continue forward. The cars zoom past me, the bicyclist, and I the bicyclist zoom past pedestrians. I the bicyclist get to be slow and fast at the same time.
About eight years ago, I was supposed to meet my dad at the movies to see a comedy. I mistook the theatre and the name of the movie and I was running late, and this was before texting was a thing. I ended up sitting by myself in the theatre, thinking my dad was there, thinking I was seeing a comedy, but really I was in a different theatre seeing The Last King of Scotland, that movie about a genocidal Ugandan dictator, Idi Amin.
In high school, E and I went at the Coachella music festival, an experience I will never repeat (too hot, too many people, too expensive, too controlled.) It was already a bad sign when we waited in line to enter: they were making everyone throw out their water bottles at the gate so we had to buy the five dollar Arrowhead 12 oz. bottles inside. People were emptying bottles on their head and throwing them to the wayside in a huge pile. Inside the festival grounds, there were no trees, so shade was a 'hot' commodity. I wandered about trying to find some. Even the long thin shadow of a telephone pole was taken.
I was in and around Death Valley for a few days over last winter break. There was sparse phone reception, which was part of why one goes to the remote desert, to get out of touch. When we got into Death Valley and approached the epicenter where the fancy hotel resides atop a hill just past Zabriskie Point, our phones got all five bars, and started beeping and buzzing with incoming texts and emails. I had better service in Death Valley than I do at home. The park gives the illusion of being out in the wild west, but then provide visitors with an oasis of cell phone reception, swimming pools and gourmet food.
I had a job in Northern California. My commute was a twenty minute drive on a windy forest road. There was a short part of the return trip that I always looked forward to. When I would drive on this particular hill, I couldn't tell if the car was heading UP or DOWN.
I was driving my friend's stick shift truck in bumper to bumper traffic. The car behind started rolling towards me slowly and tapped me. Some time passed and I decided to get off the freeway to avoid the traffic. The car, to my surprise, followed me, honking. It turned out I had rolled back in to their car.
Some of my friends' parents in elementary school had a station wagon Volvo with the pull down seat facing the back window of the car. This was a coveted seat. The rare and wonderful caboose where landscapes zoom away instead of towards you.
I would like to design the bottom of a shoe, a mobile stamp.
An early experience with art: being dragged around the Museum of Contemporary Art in LA by my parents. I looked UP at the framed artworks on the sparse and off-limits walls. Through an entryway, I could see another room of endless boring art. Then my mom bought me the MOCA T-shirt with their logo which had a square, circle and triangle in primary colors. That was the only image I liked in the whole museum.
P told me about her father who had a car for twenty years. If there was something wrong with the car, he would just listen to it and know what the problem was without even looking under the hood.
Sitting in my car on Chapel, I could see way down the street as all the lights changed. Red, red, red, yellow, green—until they were all red, then the farther ones started turning green. The citywide network of synced and timed traffic signals was momentarily apparent.
We wandered into a church ceremony in New Haven last Spring. A procession of males, arranged from youngest to oldest, was marching around the chapel wearing robes (let's say ranging from eight to sixty). Before our eyes was unfolding a live chronology of the male human species.
M and I ate dinner at Outback Steakhouse. Looking around, we could have been anywhere in America, and there were no windows to belie that fact. By proliferating Outback Steakhouses far and wide, the CEO has broken the fixity of time and space, thereby creating a wormhole through which visitors can teleport to any part of America in general.
I had a job working on a political campaign in California during a year off from college. We got soon-to-be presidential candidate Barak Obama to speak at one of our events. When he arrived, I got to open the door for him as he entered the press room. I took my place stage left as he spoke, facing a sea of cameras. I was able to imagine for a moment that they were pointing their lenses at me.
Last summer, we stopped at a swimming hole during a driving trip in northern California. I watched a chubby boy holding a cup that he filled with water then emptied into the air. Each time, he flung his body in an attempt to collect the water back into his cup, to no avail, and landed with a splash. This task, although technically futile, was infinitely entertaining to the boy.
There was a kid in the river in Texas who was there catching snakes all day in the water. Sometimes, when he caught one, the snake would bite him. I took a photograph of him smiling proudly with a snake wrapped around his wrist, and he had two little streams of blood flowing DOWN his arm from where the teeth sank in.
I went to a natural outdoor hot springs and spent the whole time trying to find the hottest pool. Just before we left, I found a person sized pool just the temperature of my body. It was not too hot, not too cold. It was just right.
Some people think of the shower as cleaning off the day and preparing for sleep. Other people think of it as cleaning off the night and starting the day. Sometimes you have to clean off both.
I was 21 when I peed in the shower for the first time. I was annoyed when I found out my roommate was doing it and told her not to do it anymore. But then she said try it before you knock it. I begrudgingly peed during the next shower. It was liberating to perform the sacred act of cleansing and the profane act of pissing simultaneously. Now, hardly a shower goes by without mixing the two.
I finally read the text on the bottle of Doctor Bronner's soap. How great to have reading while in the shower. Two familiar activities, reading and showering, mutually modify each other and create an usual experience.
I lived in New York last summer and noticed a proliferation of outdoor movie screening series. It seemed that every night of the week you could attend multiple different movies on a giant inflatable screen. I arrived late for the MLK movie and had to sit too far back, to the point where the screen was no larger than my iPhone screen and the sound was muffled by all the open space, so I left. Another experience was more successful. The park was smaller so everyone was forced closer together and the farthest sitting area was still a good view. The minute the movie ended, a team deflated the theatre and it went right back to being a diffuse space, everyone milling around, directionless with no evidence of the previous events.
My dad is friends with Jeff Bridges from elementary school. A few years ago, the Dude invited us to a private screening of Avatar on the Paramount lot. A photojournalist from the New York Times Magazine was following Jeff around. I ended up in a printed image taken mid-screening wearing 3D glasses sitting next to a movie star in an empty theatre. A bougie version of the famous cover photo of Guy Debord's Society of the Spectacle.
There is a new smart phone called the Samsung Galaxy Edge that has eliminated the frame on the sides, like an infinity pool, so the screen just goes right over the edge of the device, touching your palm as you hold it. If you take a photo, the screen appears to continue into what you are photographing.
On my flight back from winter break, each seat had a screen on the back. Most people's screens were on the whole time. I was trying to read, but kept getting distracted by the forty or so moving images in my peripheral vision. My attention flitted between other people's entertainment and it was just as riveting without sound. I watched a good portion of Straight Outta Compton and part of Infinitely Polar Bear and some weird reality show about a hunter activist (not sure) When I finally saw Straight Outta Compton with sound it was apparent how useless the score was. This may be an unfounded, but I have noticed a drop in inter-seat conversation in coach, and it seems to be concurrent with the proliferation of the aforementioned personal media portals.
Watching fire has a similar quality to watching TV, but with a more communal feeling, because fire is in the round whereas a screen is frontal.
M is sitting across from the table from me on his computer. The screen is reflected in each lens of his glasses and it looks like rectangular cat eyes changing color in the dark.
My parents took me to see Crocodile Dundee in the movie theatre. It was my first 'big TV' experience. When the crocodile slithered towards the camera, I ran out of the theatre screaming.
If there is a TV in a bar or restaurant, it inevitably pulls the attention of whoever is facing the screen. Sometimes the TV provides a talking point, but most often it just divides the attention of the group. Those facing the screen are pitted against those with their back to it.
For a period I was fascinated by seeing myself from the view of a surveillance camera on the mounted screen. I would get distracted at the Walgreens register watching myself as an anonymous customer—placing items on the counter, handing over money—as seen from above and behind.
Does the Internet have seasons?