Category Archives: Stories

Me and God Kicking it at Six Flags

Yeah, we did this one too.

Instead of participating in class today, I daydreamed about going to an amusement park with God.

I was wearing my adventure sandals and he was in his Old Testament kicks and rocking those sweet B.C. robes. He got us both in for free because he knew someone at the front gate and right away we decided our goal was to go on every single roller coaster at least once. We had gotten there early and spent the entire day dominating the place—zooming through the rides and egging on park employees in a good way, as if bantering with me and Holy Joe was the fulfillment of their entire careers as amusement park workers.

God had every right to be unimpressed with the amusement park, what with its sausagy people, the endemic smell of old nacho cheese, and the inevitable onset of line-depression. He had every right to be like, “My Child, this blows. Do you want to go to Waffle House?” or “My Child, this is lame. I shall call upon the bird with the greatest wingspan and we shall ride upon it until the furthest reaches of the earth” or “My Child, this is a place of depravity and it will be destroyed in 3….2….1…..”

Instead, he had a great time running around and armpitting people on the rides and making funny faces for the coaster cam. One time his beard got in the mouths of people behind us and they were pissed but at the end of the ride he turned around and sincerely said that he was sorry and that they were also forgiven. God was just a chill dude who liked to chow down on funnel cake after going on the Tilt-a-Swirl and before entering the Cistern of Death.

At one point, we were on the Ferris wheel and he decided to have a little fun—-just when we had reached the crest, he stopped time. The earth’s rotation, the sun’s burning, every physic of motion was halted and he just sustained all of it through his awesome power. Then we sat at the top of the world and looked out over a sunset that lasted forever. He was wearing his baseball cap sideways and he turned to me saying, “Pretty nice, huh.” I just rolled my eyes. “Get over yourself.”

He snapped his fingers and the world started up again, the wheel gently lowering us to ground level like a friendly giant. We ended up going on all the roller coasters except for one because we ran out of time before the park closed.

I was dead tired that night and slept the whole way home.

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Prophecies in the Bathroom

Speak and we listen, oh wise oracle

My roommate’s loofah is an oracle.

As it sits unassumingly on the bathtub’s rim in all its rough, spongy banality, it communicates with the gods and is our mediator, though I do not presume to call it our friend.

Its strange shape– the mysterious internal chambers, the bizarre woven texture, the evenly regulated rippling of its exterior—is designed to absorb the gods’ will and disperse it throughout the bathroom as if in a fine prophetical mist. How many times have I been in the bathroom when I am visited by intense revelations: insights into my future after I return from Egypt, novel birthday gift ideas, meals I should eat later on in the day, the appropriate length to which I should cut my bangs?

Before I knew the truth, I thought these moments of brilliance were the result of my own cognitions. Now I know they came from the sponge.

The oracle is ancient. Before this apartment building, before the city of Cairo had even been conceived of in thought or deed, the oracle quietly existed. In the time of the ancient Greeks, sandaled men and women would journey on foot for days with baskets and pots on their heads just to seek the oracle’s presence, and if they were lucky, its prophecies. It was revered by all, though they feared to worship it because of the gods’ anger.

The oracle itself did not want their worship; it wanted quiet. It longed to cease answering the absurd petitions of man and meld its consciousness completely with that of the gods. Daily and nightly it was pulled out of its reverie to a brash existence, greedy humans grubbing after what was not theirs to know. Who could ever truly understand the will of the gods?

The Greeks came and went, as did countless other civilizations, the piles of rubble growing and shrinking with the ages, until Cairo came, and the sponge was once again lifted up, into our bathroom, onto the bathtub’s rim where it now sits enigmatically, an endless stream of communication flowing between it and heaven.

I now realize I misspoke. The loofah could not belong to my roommate any more than the Rocky Mountains could belong to the United States. These kinds of things are not simply owned. Indeed, because the loofah oracle did not belong to me, I assumed it was my roommate’s and she likely assumes the same.

This is the wisdom of the oracle. It quietly leads us down paths of assumption, all the while safeguarding its own peace. It does not even pay the price of having to scrub elbows and backs and instead gently perfumes the air with knowledge, leading us to greater insights.

And today is the last day it gets a free ride. As far as I’m concerned, things are about to get exfoliated up in here. Just wait until the weather gets warm enough for everyday sandal wearing—I don’t care much for prophecies but I do need something to sand down the horns that grow on my feet. Thanks oracle!

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The Sun: Worth Remembering

Gah! The sun! Hissssss!

Well I’ve really gone and done it now. I spent too much time inside and forgot what the sun looked like. My mom told me this would happen but I didn’t believe her. I never believed her.

She always said, “Emily, make sure you go outside so you can remember the sun. You can brush your scales off out there and smell the air with your tongue and slither around for a bit. Don’t stay in that cave all the time! Once you forget the sun, it’s hard to get used to the light again.”

I would hiss at her, “Leave me alone!” And I didn’t listen to her, even though I knew better.

I didn’t think I’d been inside for that long when I woke up one morning and saw a hideous substance pouring in through the crack between my curtains.  The stuff was garishly bright and I had no idea where it was coming from. I wanted to make it go away but was afraid of getting it all over me. It made me uncomfortably warm.

When I got up to shut the curtains and complete the darkness, I accidentally tripped and fell because I apparently hadn’t used my legs in a long time. While scrambling for support on my way down, I ripped the curtain from the wall and was blinded by a great BALL OF FIRE leeching heat right through the glass. And I thought:

GOOD GOD WHAT IS THAT THING?

As I lay on the ground, painful memories came rushing back to me. I had seen this monstrosity before, been hurt by it before. Endless peeling of scarlet flesh, droplets of sweat stinging my eyes, days lasting eternities. How could I have forgotten? This abomination was the sun, the enemy, its penetrating light revealing all. What horror.

I was on the brink of despair. Then other memories flooded my mind, pleasant ones. I remembered sitting in a warm armchair and watching yellow rays dancing through tree leaves all speckled like. The sun slipping below the horizon and making the clouds neon. The golden hours of spring days when everything is beautiful. Those were pretty. Maybe the sun wasn’t all bad.

Strange how I could forget something that caused me so much pain and joy. I need to slither outside more, but first I need to take a good long nap.

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Delta Surprise!

It took hours to absorb enough light for this photo

At the airport in Oklahoma City, I munched on a third Major Milk Makin’ Lactation cookie while contemplating the news of an unexpected 29 hour layover in Amsterdam. “That is a long layover,” I thought. Actually, I was a little angry at the time, so I believe my thoughts may have had some more descriptive words that connoted my irritation.

Apparently something had gone horribly, horribly wrong. I had been so excited about the future just an hour beforehand, gushing about the beauty of life like a simpleton. But now the beginning to my spring semester was darkened, and the shininess of the attending Delta employee’s bald head did nothing to ease my dread, and the fact he implied that this predicament was my fault only served to incense me. “Who made the reservation?” he said. “Does it matter?” I half snapped, half asked politely. A Muppet friend could have made the reservation, but that didn’t alter the fact that Delta had confirmed it and then changed the flight without notifying me. Someone was going to pay for this.

As it turns out, Delta/KLM agreed with me. In Atlanta, I learned that my flight from Amsterdam was no longer scheduled for Jan. 24th at 5:25 pm, but for Jan. 25th at 5:25, and that since it was not my fault, I would be taken care of in Amsterdam by nice people who would put me in a hotel and feed me.

At the airport in Amsterdam, I talked to some truly wonderful KLM representatives, one of which had a voice like the Swedish chef, and eventually wound up in a hotel nicer than one I would ever be able to afford (as an Arabic fellow making $520/mo.) and confronted with a lunch buffet of my wildest imaginings.

Bread! Butter!  Prosciutto! Little things of jam I could steal! Oh happy day! I even got a toiletry bag from KLM filled with, among other things, spray on deodorant with man-smell (the cooling sensation on the pits is quite nice), and a European size XXL white t-shirt, which translates to an American medium. This was perfect, since I didn’t have pajamas in my carry-on.

bunny bunny bunny!

Later that day, I chased and took pictures of bunnies in the hotel parking lot, went to Amsterdam, and ate a 3 course meal by myself while reading A Confederacy of Dunces and watching happy dinner parties in a lovely dining room lit by hundreds of votive candles and decorated with roses. It has been a most wonderful paid vacation.

A word on Amsterdam: at one moment I thought to myself, “If you’ve never considered suicide, try going to Amsterdam in the winter. There are many lovely bridges to contemplate jumping off of after tying a stone to your foot.” I had been to that city once before, in the summer, when it was sunny. I now realize that it may have been the one sunny day they’d had all year. While wandering around Amsterdam, I felt like I was in the surreal, dark world of one of the characters from a Rembrandt painting, surrounded by people who were hurrying to get home to the light and remember a reason for living. But that’s just my impression. The windows of the city are quite lovely though.

Hopefully I will arrive to Cairo for real-sies today.

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What is “Fax Machine?”

I’m trying to get back to San Francisco in July. Yes I got back yesterday, but yes I loved it and yes I want to live out there just like the rest of the dreamers in the world. A large man at a bakery told me to come back when I made it big and buy a cupcake from him so now I definitely have to go back. He awaits me with his floppy hat and the cupcake.

Unfortunately, I’ve found myself in the awkward position of having no money. This sad fact has led me to Craig’s list as I search for the likely-lethal ride share possibilities. I’m also considering the safer yet more complicated method of using frequent flier miles, which got me out to SF in the first place.

Scared of Craig’s list, I began trying to rack up my miles in earnest. After cashing in on all possible miles with Delta, I still found myself short a cute 30,000 miles for a reward trip. Disappointed but not yet defeated, I turned my sights towards American Airlines.

I hadn’t earned any miles for my first trip to Cairo last May, which could put me just over 12.5K miles, the minimum amount for a reward trip. “They owe me,” I thought. I also thought, “This will be easy. Flight problem solved. Next step: find a puppy and an apartment.” As I found out later, the puppy will have to wait.

So I hunted through the back logs of my emails, scrutinized all of the numbers that lay within the ones pertaining to flight information, and found everything I thought I needed. Success was at hand. I could see the California sun, the blue water of the bay reflecting its golden rays. I filled in the information for the first leg of the journey, feeling cocky. Then came the second leg, carried by Royal Jordanian.

As soon as I selected the name of that carrier, this message came up: “Mileage credit requests for this airline must be submitted via fax. Please send a copy of your ticket receipt and boarding pass(es) to 1-817-963-7882.”

Excuse me? Did I read my screen correctly? You want me to fax something? As in, use a fax machine to transmit information? How about instead of faxing anything, I build a time machine and go back to rescue American Airlines from where it is clearly trapped in the past. I could bring their executive leadership into the year 2012 where we have things like scanners and internet.

Also, when they say boarding passes, do they mean those pieces of trash with numbers and my seat number on them that I have to show the person in front of the jetbridge in order to get on the plane? The ones I usually crumple, fill with gum, or tear apart before absent mindedly shoving them into the pocket of the seat in front of me? Surely they don’t mean those things?

All of this archaic nonsense makes it seem like they don’t want me to get these miles. It’s almost like they want me to pay for a flight. But I’ve never heard of a large, failing corporation acting against the interests of the consumer, so that certainly can’t be it.

I guess it’s back to Craig’s list.

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