Rhythm for no reason

Often during the day and usually when under stress, I hear music cycling through my brain. Nothing divine or extraterrestrial mind you, no music of the spheres, or song of the living trees. Just an interesting piece of music on the radio or one of the songs that the kids downloaded filters through my ears and excites my imagination. Sans earphones or iPod, the rhythm builds inside of me like a crescendo, mounting and growing like a snowball bounding downhill. My fingers tap or my hands begin to silently conduct the unseen sound as if the walls and earth reverberate with its beat. Boom ba-ba-dum ba-ba-dum. The panels in the ceiling flash and chime as if played by giant invisible hands, jumping from note to note, tile to tile sending snowfalls of dust cascading to the bouncing floor. Birds whiz and zip across the window panes like fiddle bows, while trees shake and dance to the orchestra. The mounting sound peaks; I almost will the walls to break asunder as the song spirals down to its conclusion. The floor cracks, the tiles shudder, the birds and trees twist and jump until . . . the music fades away; the song ends, seeping into the night like the remnants of a flood, into the earth and its hidden chambers.

No one else hears it. The classroom or lecture hall remains unchanged, except for the clock. A minute or two have passed. The guy next to me scribbles notes, surpressing a yawn. I sigh and decide to start writing. Notes rarely help my memory, but they do keep me awake. I start to doodle as another slide glides across the screen. Notes and chords drift and fade, but I sit and wait, eager for a fresh faint riff to sound.

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The horror . . .

As usual, Halloween this year arrived unexpectedly. Though one of my favorite holidays, I can never welcome the holiday as it deserves: scary stories, rented horror flicks, and enough carved pumpkins to illuminate a landing strip. Such traditions fill out the holiday like a good meal can fill out a pair of trousers. If I had my way, October should be dedicated to stories. Nothing but reading and listening to great tales, particularly with the kids. By November, children’s brains should percholate with any assortment of evil monsters, brave heroes, mysterious places, whimsical names, and cracklin’ leaves so that the whole month passes without a trace of homework-inducing melancholy (my bookbag in November typically reeked with such large projects and long papers that I felt tethered indoors to my desk for weeks). Sadly again two short papers chained me to the computer Halloween night, thus delaying my plans another year. Yet after scribbling a few paragraphs, I conceeded to the howl of wind and eye of moon and went searching through our bins for a make-shift costume for my uncle’s Halloween party.

As you may or may not know, the actual costume for Halloween parties matters little. I once attended a birthday party just before Halloween at one of the city’s bars, where the female attendees wore cat ears or devil horns and little else but a few scraps of rags. It was quite a show (only days later did my eyes slink back to their normal positions within their sockets), proving that oddity, excentricity, and a little less dignity are the only requirements for any costume. Yet being fond of riddles and self-humiliation, I strove to piece together an interesting and unique costume, something different from the norm, and thus dove into our collection of old hoods, masks, and fangs.

In years past this technique has met with various degrees of success. Once Pat clad himself in a short striped T-shirt, dark glasses, fake red hair, and a tall Seussical top hat. With his skinny frame and recent girlfriend-induced gut peeking from under his shirt, he somehow pulled off a drunken British rocker simply by mixing and matching bits of old costumes. Ryan raided Katie’s closet for dresses, wigs, high heels, and socks to stuff down his shirt — he wanted to be quite volumptuous. Candy he called himself. Personally I cannot recall which was funnier: seeing his chest sag under the weight or watching Dad’s face when Candy leapt up into his arms to plant a huge lipstick-stained kiss.

This year I was going to outperform them all. Choosing a mermaid tail, which I partially stuffed with towels (for definition) and shoved under a worn knit cap, I wrapped my body with white towels. The mermaid tale effectively poking out from under my cap, I found clean green shirt, which I crumpled and piled onto a dinner plate. A spicy tuna wrap with wasabe. Perfect.

My Costume
Throughout the entire night, nobody could guess my costume. Looking back now at these pictures, I realize that the confusion stemmed from my haphazard creation of two costumes in one. Like those illusions of two faces that upon refocusing transform into a candlestick, my costume too transformed depending on your perspective. At one point, I could be a spicy tuna wrap with wasabe, and any other time, I became the buffoon in a bathtowel — with the fish growing out of his ear. Oh, just wait until next year . . .

The horror . . .

Coffee Crisis

Emails like the following convince me that madness fuels my cells, more necessary than oxygen or water. I wrote this months ago, but only recently decided to post it as it’s quite nonsensical. My family agrees with me on this point. My friends just think I should take up drinking more.

Java java java java java. Katie had to work today so when I arrived home after dropping Kevin off at school, I found no one to offer the melting caramel frapaccino I had bought for her. Of course, I could not let it go to waste, but wait! Add to that one grande pumpkin spice (having already been consumed on the way home while stuck in traffic) to a hilarious reading of Douglas Adam’s Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy on tape and subtract breakfast; I now faced the inevitable high of combining two caffeinated frappacinos, one empty stomach, four misplaced space travelers, and one bowl of petunias. Java java java . . . My fingers punch across the keyboard like a high-strung bird spearing the lump of a broken Sweet Tart; my right foot despite the absence of music has broke into a lively jig and my left wisely minds its own business while looking for something to kick. Java, java, java, JAAVAA!!!

I just ate a cinnamon apple muffin. Hopefully this will halter my urge to launch myself off the wall like a ninja and land on my bed. I don’t doubt I can do it, but I’m pretty sure that my bed might be upset at the result. I think the sugar from the muffin is exacerbating my condition a bit . . . Oh, Dad has come home! His footsteps echo and crack against the floor upstairs as he bellows for me. Here I go . . . and race upstairs!

ME: Helloooooooooo DAD!!!
Dad: Hey, do you have my card?
ME: Yesssssss, I most certainly do!!
Dad: Well, can I have it?
ME: Only if you say pretty please with sugar on top!
Dad: I’m not saying that.
ME: Well, tough tomatoes, you’re not getting it otherwise.
Dad: Come on, I have a meeting to go to.
ME: I haven’t heard the password yet . . . (I cup my hands over my ears. )
Dad: (sighs) Can I have my card . . . please? (he struggles with the word)
ME: And . . . . ( I start dancing around the kitchen a bit like the main character in Fame)
Dad: I’m not saying any of that sugar nonsense.
ME: Ok, but only because you are the bestest best father in the whole wide WORLD!!! ( I hand him his card and gambol upstairs to do some laundry. After an enjoyable search for whites and darks, three loads of laundry, and ten seconds later, I return to the kitchen. Dad is still there when I come down).
Dad: I want you to do some research for me.
ME: Right!
Dad: About cars we might need in the future . . . with Ryan driving soon we may need to rethink our current transportation needs.
ME: Right!
DAD: Have it ready tonight! I want this taken care of when I get home.
ME: Right-oh!
Dad: Ok, well, I’m off to my meeting.
ME: Right!
(he leaves and opens his door )
Dad: Ok, I’ll see you later!
ME: Oh Dad . . .
Dad: What? ( he looks at me oddly)
ME: Have a fantastic day!! Ok? It’s so beautiful and cool so be sure to roll the windows down and enjoy this superbly excellent day with it’s blue sky and fall-like temperature, ok? It won’t last forever and so be sure to enjoy the moment as it comes lest it pass you by forever and ever. Ok?!
Dad: . . . . uh, sure! Um . . . see ya.
ME: BUH-BYE!!!!

Java java java java java JAAAAAVAAA!

A Fable: Of Cereals and Spoons

Seeing my dazed and despondent look on my face, a fellow classmate asked me several weeks ago how my one o’clock class had gone. I answered him with a story, whose moral could be applied to any of the various classes attended this semester:

Once upon a time in Japan there lived a young boy who lived with his grandparents outside many of the major cities. The boy grew up immersed in the old styles and customs of the country as his grandparents shunned many of the modern traditions and habits adopted by the urban populations. Although he loved and respected his grandparents, the boy wished to see and experience the world a bit. He particularly yearned to visit the Western world and taste its delicious food for his grandparents would only eat rice, night and day, day and night. The boy was in desperate need for a change of a palette.

Then one day, the boy got an invitation asking him to visit his cousins in America for the summer. Overjoyed at this news, the boy — after obtaining permission from his grandparents like a good grandson — quickly packed and left for America. When he got to the house of his cousin, he decided that his first experience was to sample American cuisine; therefore, on the morning of his first day he slipped downstairs early in the morning and grabbed a box of flakey cereal and a glass of milk. He had many good things about how delicious cereal in America was and how you eat it not with chop-sticks but with Western utensils, namely a spoon.

The boy had just poured the milk onto the snapping flakes and readied himself for the first bite when his cousin’s father trudged downstairs. The father was an out-of-work academic and seeing the young boy with his first bowl of cereal used this opportunity to refresh his teaching skills.

“Hold on, Kyon,” — for that was the boy’s name — “Wait a moment before you eat that.” The boy, Kyon, hesitated, just inches away from sampling the the spoonful of crunchy sugary cereal.

“Before you eat, let me explain a little history to you about the utensils that we use here in the States. It will help you to better appreciate that meal of yours.” The boy set down his spoon into the bowl and waited, while the milk slowly soaked over and into every morsel of breakfast cereal.

The father then began explaining the history of the spoon, its uses, its origins, and what types of food were created specifically for the utensil: soups, custard, porridge, and grapefruit. He delved into the types of spoons from soup spoons to ladles, to spoons with holes and spoon-straws. “An amusing invention,” the father said, “but quite absurd unless one is eating an orange slush.”

He explained the composition of each spoon, reveling in the stories of ancient wooden spoons, its uses in warfare, and the eventual advent of metal leaden spoons and then lead-free metal spoons: “A practical and eventual discovery, but wonderful nonetheless.”

He then described the architecture of the spoon. How he had coined the round curved section as “bowl” and then thin metal handle as the “handle.” “All of this,” he chimed as his lecture climaxed, “paved the way for the invention of the . . . spork!”

He said this as if to receive an applause, but none came. The boy looked on. His face a strange mixture of boredom and incredulity as the father then descended into another lecture about sporks, eventually transitioning into forks, their uses, their history, and why no one had every thought of such an incredible utensil before.

Eventually after what seemed like several hours, the father paused. The morning paper had landed on the lawn and the sprinklers threatened to soak the Classified and Unemployment section. The father ran outside, accidentally locking the door behind him. Quickly the boy used this opportunity to taste the cereal, which — as you might have guessed — had now turned into pile of mush floating in lukewarm milk. This was worse than week-old rice, the boy thought, promptly tossing the mushy mess, spoon and all, down the garbage disposal.

The moral of this story, for those who have not guessed it, is that even the most delectable exercise can become unpalatable if weighed down with too much instruction. Sometimes the best way to teach anything is by not teaching at all.