Monday, July 26, 2004

I'm at a family gathering at a large resort. I guess it's a resort, it's not very nice. It's kind of like a sprawling farm with lots of places for visitors to stay. There are a lot of family members here that I've never actually met. I am not thrilled about being here, but there's a girl I like around and I'm trying to spend as much time in the same rooms as her as possible. It's not totally working out as well as I'd like, though.

I walk outside and it's dark and there's some art outside. There's some straw on the ground, too. It might rain soon, or maybe it already rained. One of the pieces of art is an old-looking wooden shed, made of thick, dark wooden boards with black cast-iron hinges and little doors like you'd see on an antique stove. It doesn't have a big door, but the front wall is set back a little bit so that the roof hangs over, and you can stand under the little bit of roof and look at the hinges and doors and at a TV screen that is set into the wood. On the screen is footage of you, looking directly into the camera which must somehow be inside the screen. The footage is time-delayed, though, so when you make a face or thrust your hands toward the camera, you don't see it actually happen for a few moments, followed by all the confused expressions you made after the screen didn't show you your thrusting hands or goofy face. Every once in a while the little doors open and instead of coo-coo birds coming out it's a wobbly head, your head. I see my own blue-ish head wobbling out of one of the doors and I think, "Wow, I wonder how this art knows how to take my head off of my shoulders and the things behind me in the camera!"

Sunday, July 18, 2004

I’m standing on what feels like a boat. I think it’s just the street, though. But it drops off sharply on either side. It’s like a street made of a bunch of concrete boats chained together. There’s some other kids on the “boat” that I’m on. There’s a multi-level blimp up in the air above us, and we’re near an airport, because planes keep showing up really close to our heads, flying over and down the direction of the street. They’re these new kind of planes, one guy is explaining how they’re the newest kind and they have four of some specific new engine part instead of having just one like the old ones did. They have a special new name, too, and they look a little bit futuristic and cool. One kid is flipping out about how close the planes are, he thinks he’ll be able to touch one, they’re that close. I’m standing near the edge of the street, facing away from the drop-off, and I watch one plane get way too close to this delighted kid, then soar up drunkenly and almost hit the blimp. It dawdles in the air for a while before it falls to the ground near our part of the street. We’re safe from the explosion and I’m actually quite excited about having been able to watch the whole crash and see it coming. We can’t see the wrecked plane, though, which bums me out a little, but we’re just too high up and since the street drops off so sharply, we can’t get a vantage point of the actual wreckage.

I have to fight somebody later and I throw them to the ground by pushing on their shoulders. I am a lot better at fighting then I thought and it makes me feel strong and powerful. “I am a tall guy,” I think, “Of course nobody should want to fuck with me!”

Saturday, July 17, 2004

There’s a school but it’s secretly being used as a jail and I am the newest member of a syndicate that is going to free the prisoners. We stage a bloody coup and I get to use a big gun to shoot down security guards, who come in waves and waves. We have smoke bombs, too, and in the smoke I run to the room where the prisoners are sitting in their orange jumpsuits. I blow open the lock with my gun and run into the room followed by two other members of my group. I am really excited and I shout, “Guess who’s free, motherfuckers?” and notice that some of the prisoners look confused, like I might be there to shoot them. They’re tough-looking guys—long, dirty hair and tattoos, real generic prisoner-types. I tell them that our “headquarters” is a classroom on the same level and that anyone who wants to help fight can go there to get a weapon, but anyone who wants to just leave should follow me down the escape chute. We find it quickly—it’s dark, a cross between a laundry chute and a waterslide. I get in even though I’m really scared about what might happen if the school’s security forces have located the exit of the chute and are guarding it—what if there are dead bodies blocking the bottom of the tube and we get stuck in that tiny space? It’s really, really long and I have lots of time to think about it as I fall face-first down the cramped hole.

There’s a soccer game later and some of the prisoners and some of the guards are playing. I am full of energy and run all over the field. I am not really good but I hustle hard and get in the way of the other team’s players.

Friday, July 16, 2004

Somebody shoots somebody else and I am very upset. I don’t actually talk to the shooter but I talk to somebody else about how wrong it is for him to be actually shooting off a gun. I’m sorta dealing with it as if this guy had just gone to a party and broken a lamp or TV set and left or something. I’m upset, but not in the right way.

Monday, July 12, 2004

I’m at school, in a math class that I have been skipping for the past few months. My speech teacher, Mrs. Whatever-her-name-is-with-the-white-hair comes in to get something. She doesn’t say anything to me, or really even look at me, which bums me out because I have been skipping her class for at least two or three months now, too, and I have no intention of going back there. I wonder in my head how I’m able to pull this off, to skip these classes all the time and not get totally fucked up for it.

There’s a show, though, that I have to play. The sound-girl is wearing a white shirt and she has long, dark hair and glasses and she’s overweight. Another guy is playing keyboard and laptop for me (not Cale, though—this is some jocko dude) and I’m playing laptop and we’re supposed to do a total Stars of the Lid ripoff set. I don’t know what the venue is but it looks like a slightly smaller version of the room 606 & I played at ATP. There’s not that many kids in the room because we’re the opening band. The sound in the monitors keeps getting quieter and quieter and I try to compensate by turning things up on my mixer but it doesn’t seem to help. We’re sorta line-checking but all these kids start standing around looking at us and things are running late so we just kinda keep going and just figure we’re doing our set now. Which is a terrible idea, especially since we’re doing Stars of the Lid ripoff material. At some point during this first song, I walk out into the audience and hear that the music in the house is really, really quiet. The sound girl keeps getting up and leaving the desk and I keep asking her to turn up the sound, but every time she does it gradually gets quieter and quieter again in the monitors. I don’t remember how the show ends, but it does.

A little later, I get into an altercation of some sort with a trio of boho-hip-hop-at-the-height-of-boho-hip-hop looking folks—two dudes and a chick. One of the dudes has a kind of thugged-out do rag on, though. The chick looks just like an angrier Lauryn Hill. I don’t remember what the altercation was about, though. I deftly avoid getting my ass kicked by do-rag.

I have to go to a banquet, though. I don’t know if it’s a banquet about my dad, but he’s got something to do with it and that’s why I’m there. My sister and mom are there, too. There’s a lot of fancy-looking people seated on one side of a long banquet table with a white tablecloth-- so many that I can’t see t hem all. Most of them look old and rich, though. We eat good food and I act quiet and a little aloof, like I would at any type of event like this, family-related function. Then these stewardess/waiter-type people start pushing carts down on the other side of the banquet table, handing out these prizes or gifts to most of the people at the table. My sister gets some kind of weird toy bunny that’s still in the packaging. My dad gets some kind of really specific computer or printer adapter that I look at and wonder why this company or hospital or college or whatever organization is in charge of this gathering, why would they get something so weirdly specific? Like, it’s an adapter for a very specific type of printer. Most of these gifts are like this—consumer electronics seemingly randomly grabbed off the rack at Circuit City. A photographer is following behind the two or three cart-pushing waitress/steward gift-distributors, taking pictures of some people happily holding their prizes. He stops and tries to take a picture of my sister smiling with her eyes squinted shut holding this bunny in front of her face, but this older, white trash woman waddles behind her holding some giant stuffed animal—some grey Pokemon-looking thing. She’s trying to get in the picture and the photographer is holding off on taking it because he doesn’t want her in it, but she seems to be pretty oblivious to this. An old lady is washing her hands at a sink behind me and saying something about it, making disparaging remarks about my father. He is being himself, friendly and laughing, and I don’t understand why he doesn’t do something about this bitchy old woman. The old woman is wearing a pink old-lady suit, and muttering about my dad. I get really pissed. Then I hear the people to my right talking shit about my dad, too. I turn and realize that sitting one person away from me is the boho-hip-hop trio. I look at them for a second then put both of my middle fingers in their faces and say, “Fuck you, you shit-talkers. You don’t know my dad.” They get livid and insinuate that violence might happen but they get up and leave without doing anything.

I get up and run to the end of the banquet table, where there are stairs going down. There’s 3 railings in the stairway, and I hop on top of them and slide down the railings on my feet, sometimes having to jump to avoid breaks in the railings or switch my feet between different banisters. It’s a long, long stairway and people are going up and down it but I avoid them easily. I’m sliding down the rail so fast. There’s windows above my head and sunlight coming down on me. When I finally get to the bottom, I’m back in school and I run right towards this red school-door that’s in front of me. I push it open and there’s a little tiny paved path for janitorial vehicles that’s going across the side of the school, and then a grassy hill that’s really steep, then the curb and a real road. A black limo –a classy one, like a Rolls Royce, if they make limos—is sitting at the curb. The door opens from the inside. My dad is the one opening it. He tells me to get in, that we’ve got to get to the airport and get on our flight to go home. I get in.

Saturday, July 10, 2004

I’m sitting at a table in a really weird, plush restaurant that’s not too busy, and at the table with me is the GZA. He’s smiling. I ask him when he and RZA are gonna get a television show, and how I think it would be amazing if they did. He laughs and is real polite, all like, “Oh, I don’t know about that…” I have to get up and go to the bathroom, so I do. I walk to this bathroom that looks like the bathroom of a rich person’s house. It’s really narrow and there’s a candelabra of black wrought-iron in front of me, jutting out and I feel like it’s really in the way. There’s music coming in through speakers in the ceiling, very triumphant-sounding, glorious, airy music. It’s pretty loud for bathroom music.

I walk out and I’m in the lobby of my elementary school, Carroll Manor Elementary. There’s tons of people here. I go out on the front steps and there’s tons of people on the steps. I run into someone I know and tell them I’ll be right back to chat. I go to the parking lot and get into a car with my ex-girlfriend Katie (I think.) We’ve got to get to Dulaney High School. She’s driving this little silver speedy car, a really nice one, and she’s driving too fast. We pull up over the curb and start driving on the grass to avoid the traffic in the high school parking lot and then we see like four or five cops. They stop us and tell us to get out of the car. Sensing that they’re going to frisk us, I take the little green change-purse-esque zipper bag that I keep my drugs and drug paraphernalia in and put my phone over top of it in one hand, then pull them both out of my pocket, using as much of my hand as possible to cover the bottom of my “works kit” so it looks like I’m just holding my phone, and I throw it in Roby’s spare shoulder bag, the one with lots of cat hair and the patch of a bunch of mountains on it, which I have in the car with me because I’ve been borrowing it from her the last 3 weeks. The cop who is standing behind me goes through my pockets and then reaches in the bag and takes out my little green pouch. They don’t even say anything, I just know that I’m now busted for drugs which is a big deal. I’m really stressed about it but they basically let me leave and go to school.

I walk through the hallways and tell somebody about how I’m busted for drugs now but instead of going to class a bunch of us go outside and stand on the ridge of a mountain. There is harp music coming out of the sky, like it’s being piped in. I think it sounds beautiful and we climb the grassy mountain, looking out at an amazing scene with clouds and mountains and green valleys. I turn to Cale and start laughing about how perfect the harp music that’s coming out of the sky is, and he laughs, too, and agrees. Soon other kids we’re with are all laughing and climbing up the mountain. The harp music is really, really loud.

Thursday, July 8, 2004

Tim Kinsella puts on a parachute and jumps out of the plane we’re in. It’s not a passenger jet, it’s kind of like a more realistic version of the X-Men’s plane or something. So now it’s just Cale and me in the plane, and we’re flying pretty close to this river that runs through the middle of this sprawling amusement park, like Disneyland, with Houses of Blues and other theme-park shopping and theme restaurants around—mostly shit like that, with some rides. The place is awesome—really clean, really shiny, very impressive. But the plane is going really fast and getting really close to the water and I tell Cale that I don’t know what to do, so he should just get out of the plane and I’ll take the blame for crashing it here. It hits the water and it doesn’t explode, it just spins and flips and maybe a wing breaks off, as if it were a plastic toy that was tossed along the surface of a lake. We get really wet but we’re OK, we swim to shore, where there’s a Planet Hollywood or Planet Hollywood-esque restaurant that some meathead bouncers are guarding, velvet rope and line of high-maintenance bitches and all that. We know that the bouncers are reporting us to the park security on their headsets. I tell Cale to take off but I stick around hoping that they’ll show up and I can take the rap. I’m really sure that nothing bad is going to happen to me. When the security doesn’t show up soon I get lonely and decide to go find Cale and Tim, and I sneak off while the bouncers are talking to some girls in strappy heels.

Tuesday, July 6, 2004

There’s this huge, end-of-the-year thing going on for school, involving a giant bicycle race through a huge, weird cavern. The bikes are special bikes that send information to a Nintendo of some kind, so while you physically bike around, other kids are watching a TV screen with a video game on it, and their friends who are on bikes are in the video game. I am in the race and I am doing OK, even though there are certain parts where it is almost impossible to pedal because the incline becomes really suddenly steep. Also, there are big crowds of students doing other things that you have to bike through, which is dangerous. It’s a really long race, it’s taking over an hour even though the area for each lap isn’t all that huge. On my 3rd lap, I feel somebody’s hand on my back, pulling at my shirt. I protest, but the smiling student to whom the hand belongs informs me that stuff like that is totally OK since it’s a video game. “Alright,” I say, “Then you’re gonna see some real Road Rash shit now!” I push a different kid over with one hand as I pass him, his bike and everything falling right over, and I can tell it hurts even though this “is a video game.” I decide to try and just win on speed.

I notice a huge screen above me that has peoples’ high scores from earlier games at this end-of-the-year party. “MC Lickatung” has all the high scores for a sit-down Mario Kart tournament. “MC Lickatung” is the Instant Messenger name my friend Elizabeth used to use, and I haven’t seen her in a while, so I’m determined to find her. I don’t know where to start looking, but I see this kid Greg that she used to like, and I wonder what he’s doing here.

The race ends abruptly. I go to my locker but I can’t remember the number, just the combination. When I find out which one is mine (with some help from this big jock named Ramas) I forget the combination. I try a few things and luckily my third try is correct. The locker is empty, though. I pick up my backpack and start running for the front of the school. I know that something changed and my bus used to be one of the last to leave, but recently it’s always been one of the first and I have missed it every time. As I’m running, I bump into my friend Jake’s mom who offers me a ride home. I tell her I really want to try and make the bus but I end up talking to her for too long and once I finally make it outside to the front of the school, my bus is gone, I can just tell. I take out my cell phone and call Jake’s mom to see if she’s left yet. She hasn’t. I get in her car and find out that we are on our way to Ocean City and that my sister is going to be there.

Sunday, July 4, 2004

I'm in this video store, it has no windows. And bins of used VHS tapes, rows of bins, and then shelves on the wall and even on the triangular ceiling. So video tapes are right next to your head at all times, old video tapes. There's 2 levels, too. And it's cramped and dark, with tons of videos. I'm here with my dad because we're going to see John Sales do stand-up comedy. I went to middle school and high school with him and in middle school he was like the biggest cut-up. Class clown on a steroid. And now he's doing stand-up at this video store and I got tickets in advance and there's a lot of people here, and they laugh at all of his jokes. They really like him. I'm psyched for the guy. But for some reason I leave out of this back door, a door customers aren't supposed to use in the bottom floor.

Thursday, July 1, 2004

I'm riding my bike down Damen Avenue, past the Kedzie Industrial Corridor or whatever it is called (this is in the city of Chicago) and down by the United Center. There's not a whole lot of stuff along the right side of the road (if you're heading south) on that stretch of Damen and the sun has just gone down and it's just gotten dark, and as I am passing this empty parking lot to the right, an old blue pickup truck pulls up like it's going to come right out onto the road, so I slow my bike up a little just in case the dude doesn't see me/doesn't care. As I get closer, I see that the dude does see me, and he's an old black man with a grey beard. Then I notice that there's a yellow rope tied between two poles blocking off the exit that this truck is aimed at, and I figure that the guy has slowed up not so much because of the white kid dressed like a little boy who is coming down the street on his bike, but because he noticed the yellow rope, too. But I am wrong. After I pass him, he drives out onto the street, and I look back over my shoulder and watch the yellow rope snap SPI-GANG! He pulls out fast and then rides pretty slowly in the far left lane, never passing me, a guy that's just on a bike, all the way to Roosevelt.