San Francisco: Walking about in an Art Exhibition.

I’m at an Art exhibition in San Francisco.

It’s an interesting room. There are photographs, sculptures, fabric, Interesting stuff.

It was an impromptu thing. I didn’t plan to be here. I was probably skateboarding my way to some cafe to do some work. And as I whizzed by on the sidewalk this exhibition caught my eye.

It is an interesting room.

The glow of the room is mostly yellowish – warm lighting from overhead bulbs.

There’s punch being passed around. I get myself a cup. It’s purple – like some sort of blackcurrant flavour. There’s some fluffy jelly-ey stuff at the bottom of the drink. Chewy. I have no idea what it is. I didn’t know people put chewy stuff inside punch. But it feels like an interesting addition to the drink.

To the right of the entrance there are photographs on the wall. One of them looks like a picture of a subterraneous church in a desert. Like, a literal underground church. Like they dug a hole in the dry brown desert ground, and built a church in the hole.

I don’t get the idea behind the church, but it looks like a really interesting picture. If I had some spare money I would probably buy it.

I’ve been buying a few things here and there.

I bought this really cool ball at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art one random evening. I was walking behind the AMC Matreon building, thinking of cool dark spots to stop and steal some kisses while out on a date.

And then I saw the SF MOMA space. They were moving to a new location, and they had this Discount Sale thing going on. I spent over an hour just going through the very exciting things they had on sale. And at the end I bought the ball. It wasn’t too large to constitute any logistical headache. I also felt it was very financially accessible, for something that interesting.

It’s a small transparent ball you can hold in your hand, but inside it there are like twenty tiny coloured beads that float around in the viscous liquid the transparent ball is infused with. I think it looks super interesting.

I bought two other balls at the Exploratorium. Two smaller squishy balls. One pinkish and the other light light-green.

You know, now I’m not sure which balls I bought where. Did I buy the two squishy balls at SF MOMA? Hm, now I’m not quite sure.

I put the three balls in a wine glass I place on the work desk in my dorm room. It’s really interesting seeing the sunlight hit the glass and the balls, and having that complement the view of the San Francisco Bay I have from the desk. Cool stuff.

I really like my room.

I’ll be changing cities soon as part of the school program. I’ll need to think about how to move around with these things I set up.

I’m not taking any wine glasses along on international flights, that’s for sure.


I’m walking around the room, taking in the art and conversing with people.

I’m talking with the lady pouring the punch.

I think she’s very pretty. She says she’s from Senegal.

She’s very light skinned. I think that’s unusual for someone from Senegal. Usually I would think Senegalese people were very dark. Her pupils look greenish somehow. I don’t know if they’re contact lenses, but either way I think they’re super hot.

I think she flies around with the other lady – a dark-skinned one standing not too far off – she looks like the manager of the operation or something.

We talk for a bit. I entertain thoughts about collecting say a phone number, keeping in touch, possibly planning something. She’s friendly, and she looks like she might be open to it.

I don’t know. These days I have a good number of interesting people I’m unable to follow-up with. My life these days is school assignments and pre-planned travel itineraries mapped out by the school administration. So much is outside my control.

Ugh.

I get some more punch as we keep talking.

Their lives must be so cool though, travelling around and trading art halfway around the world from where they were purchased.

Seems like a really interesting sort of life. Mmm.


I’m talking with the dark-skinned woman a few feet away. The one who has an air of being “the boss of the operation”.

I mention that I find what they’re doing extremely interesting. They’ve got really colourful fabric that reminds me of traditional attire from Nigeria.

We talk about the artwork.

There’s this class I’m taking in college – Multimodal Communications.

Recently we’ve been studying art. Studying Picasso’s artwork and analysing the subliminal messages and undertones in the different pieces. Stuff like that. The classes have been making me feel especially sophisticated.

Like, Professor I definitely agree with Shajara on that. This particular campaign poster was really tapping into the anti-colonial sentiment at the time. And if we take a look at the generous use of the colour red, it was really intended as an allusion to the overbearing presence of the Spanish occupiers...

Please give me second while I take a sip of my 1923 Sauvignon ..

Aha, as I was saying….

Hahaha.

I’m talking with the manager, drawing on some of the concepts I’ve been learning in Multimodal Communications class.

She doesn’t seem to share my enthusiasm.

She gives me a very matter-of-factly stare and emphasises that she’s running a business.

In that second I get a sense of the anxiety that comes with such an entrepreneurial situation. She probably rented out this space for the exhibition. She’s most likely thinking about the wages of the people working with her, how many art pieces have been sold, and how all of this will result in a profitable venture at the end of the day. Those are probably the calculations running through her mind. Not the entrancing use of vibrant colours on West African traditional fabric.

Hahaha. Good to know.


I keep walking around the room, taking in the interesting pieces on display. There’s a couple not far off. An interracial couple. They look like they’re in their mid-thirties. They both have relatively pronounced statures. The man looks like a Black-American, a bit on the fleshy side- just a bit, and his partner is a thick white woman with blond hair.

They look through the art, exchanging smiles and light kisses every now and then.

I watch them with a level of admiration.

They look very comfortable and established in life. I can tell that just from looking at them.

Like mm look at us, we have absolutely no problems in life. Lets go peruse some artwork and enjoy each other’s company on this random Wednesday morning. Mwah mwah. Mwah mwah mwah.

Mm, babe this one is three thousand dollars, how would you like that for the kitchen?

Oh you think it’ll be better along the staircase?

Hm you know, I think I agree with you. It really complements the rug.

Let’s get it. Mwah mwah.

Haha.


I’m in a different corner of the room.

I’m in conversation with a guy. He kinda looks like Harold Perineau. Like a Harold Perineau in his late twenties/early thirties with a pronounced crew cut.

I think he’s an interesting guy. He speaks with a very soft and calm voice.

We’re talking about random stuff. At some point we talk about music.

He says something about analog music and how it represents the highest-fidelity form of audio. He says digital technology chops up the sound into a discrete form amenable to computer processing. And that there could come a time in the evolution of music where the world would revert to audio for its uncompromised fidelity. So it would be a strange trend – Usually transitioning from analog to digital is seen as the very hallmark of technological progression. But at some point it could be the other way around.

Hmm. Wow.

I think that is an extremely brilliant argument. Wow. Just wow.

We keep talking.

At this point I’ve probably read somewhere about the Nyquist-Shannon theorem. I’m probably just not familiar enough with its implications to understand how it relates to his perspective. The theorem says something about the relationship between the information capacity of corresponding digital and analog signals – something like that.

We keep talking.

At some point I realise that he’s a photographer. He was actually the one who took the super-interesting pictures of the underground church. Woah.

He says he took the pictures on a recent trip to Africa. Somewhere in Ethiopia. Or Eritrea, something like that.

We keep talking.

At some point he introduces me to his sister. They live together somewhere in San Francisco. We talk.

Every now and then I bring up something about the super cool college programme I’m enrolled in, and all of the immensely interesting stuff we’re learning. It something I’m extremely excited about, and usually it just comes up at some point whenever I’m in conversation with people.

Haha. All of this stuff I’m so excited about right now, will make my life unthinkably complicated and difficult in about a year.

Haha.

I don’t know any of that now though. I don’t know any of that now.

We keep talking.

At some point the super interesting photographer guy gives me his card.

He says I’m going to be an extremely successful scientific person. I thank him for the massive compliment and say Haha I hope.

His sister wishes me the best of luck with my endeavours.

He says I don’t need luck.

Hahahahahaha. Tell that to me this time next year. I’ m going to need all the freaking luck I can get Bro.

Hahahaha.

I think he’s such a cool guy.

I keep walking around the room.


Image: Random rainy day in Downtown San Francisco.

Kaleidoscope. 2.

We’re at City Lights bookstore.

The school is having some sort of an event.

It’s like poetry and stuff.

We’re upstairs – up the wooden staircase paved with historical pictures framed on the wall.

Collette is reading a poem she wrote.

Something about kissing boys in Chinatown.

In my head I’m just thinking:

Wait, people have started kissing already? I thought we all just got here? I thought we were all still trying to make sense of this new environment? Trying to find our bearings in this San Francisco place?

Kissing? In Chinatown?? What??

I’m lying on the floor. It’s a wooden floor. The entire room is made of wood I think. Brown shiny lush-looking wood. It feels so nice to lie on.

I’m the only one lying on the floor. Everyone else is sitting on something. I’m not really bothered. It feels nice. Plus I don’t think anyone finds it weird.

I’m talking with one of the asian classmates. She’s Chinese. 

Her name starts with an X. A number of female Chinese classmates have names starting with “X”s. In fact one has like three “X”s in her name.

I don’t get it. It’s strange. They have names like “XinXueXie”. Like what?

Another thing that’s strange is that people find my own name weird. Especially the full name.

There’s this Isreali-American guy that jokingly pronounces my full name as “Obolowolomolo…”.

Haha. Hahaha.

I’m talking with the female Chinese classmate whose name starts with an X. We talk about literature for a bit. She says Jack Kerouac is her favourite writer right now.

I say mm interesting. I don’t know too much about Jack Kerouac. I read about him briefly on Wikipedia sometime ago, but that was it.

The room is aglow with warm yellow electric lights. There’s some poetry in the air. Poetry with the mischievous sexual charge of adventurous teenage girls.

This is very exciting.


I am in an ice cream shop along Adalbertstrasse.

There is a lot of pink in the shop.

There is a giant ice-cream cone on one side of the room.

I think there is also a giant ice-cream man somewhere.

I am across a small table from Ivan.

We’re having ice cream.

Ivan is saying something.

All I can think in my head right now is how weird his face looks.

His face doesn’t look weird because it’s weird. Ivan’s face isn’t weird.

His face looks weird to me because I haven’t looked at anyone’s face this closely in a long time.

I am just realising that.

His face looks weird to me because he is not my girlfriend. Apparently I haven’t looked at anyone else’s face up close in a while.

And so this feels surreal. It’s almost like my brain is expecting to see something different, and so it’s disorienting and trippy looking at these unfamiliar lips moving in an unfamiliar manner on this unfamiliar face.

I feel like I am in a dream.


I am at the Burgermeister at Kottbusser Tor. I am getting a burger.

There’s this guy on the queue. I think he looks interesting.

I tap him on the shoulder or something. Something to get his attention.

He turns around.

I mention that I think he looks like Idris Elba.

He laughs and blushes.

I ask if that’s something people generally tell him. He says not really.

We talk for a bit. I get my burger.

I ask if he wants to go sit somewhere and have a chat.

He says he’d love to, but his girlfriend is waiting outside.

Of course. There has to be a girlfriend somewhere that’ll ruin everything.

I say okay.

He turns towards the door.

Seemed like a cool guy.


I am on the U-Bahn.

I am headed to Krumme Lanke.

I’m not sure what exactly I was searching for online, but I learnt about this cool lake and I felt it would be great to go for a swim.

It’s late autumn and the water is going to be pretty cold, but I’m not thinking about all that now. I just need to land there.

There’s a couple sitting opposite me in the train. They look like they’re in their late forties or something.

They have smiles on their faces.

They look very happy.

I ask if I can take a picture.

They say sure.

They seem like such nice people.


There was this day.

I had just left an event I attended with my girlfriend. I think it was the Maker Faire.

We were on this bridge not far from Station Berlin – the location of the event. This bridge that arched over a river or something.

Arguing.

I’m not sure what we were arguing about.

I don’t think there was any actual thing to argue about – it felt like she just invented a reason to pick a fight. Concocted an argument out of thin air and began saying things I had to get annoyed at.

So there we were. Arguing on this bridge over a river.

And there was this couple walking by. This old German couple.

In that moment I was wondering what was going through their minds as they passed by us arguing.

I was wondering if there was possibly some profound relationship wisdom I could extract from their brains as they walked by.

Hm.


I visited City Lights bookstore this evening.

It was really nice. Warm glowing ambience. And lovely woodwork. Very lovely woodwork.

I walked through the different shelves and categories of books.

I think I read an entire book on Banksy while I was there.

I bought a book.

I have some money now.

Well not that much money, but I’ve been working more hours and earning more internship money during the summer holiday so I have more spare funds.

I bought a book written by China Achebe. “Girls at War”.

It’s not a very large book. It’s pretty light.

I’ll take the time to go through it later.

I also bought some stuff at Chinatown.

I bought some pillows.

And I bought this strange wooden thing with rolling spikey stuff that tickle the underneath of your feet as you roll them over the spikes.

It feels really nice.


I am on the U-Bahn.

I am headed somewhere.

Autograf’s Future Soup is playing through my headphones.

I recently put a picture up on my Instagram. A picture of the sign that had the name of a station – an U-Bahn station.

The caption was something – some allusion to Schrodinger’s cat.

These days I’m not even comfortable making Physics puns on social media.

I’m worried one of my classmates’ll see my posts and be like:

“Why is this guy pretending to know Physics on Instagram? He’s failing in class!! He’s failing woefully!!”

I don’t understand anything anymore.

Nothing makes any sense.

Nothing makes any sense at all.

There’s this book we’re reading in Physics class. Something about this guy on some adventure in some quantum world. There’s something about a leopard that’s unusually long due to some strange quantum phenomenon. Something like that. Something about wavelengths and wavefunctions or something.

I’ve been thinking about that and how one could possibly draw an analogue to the shutter speed of a camera. Taking a picture of a moving leopard with a low shutter speed could give an effect similar to the strange quantum phenomenon that lengthens the fictional leopard.

I wonder what parallels exist between the mathematical underpinnings of both scenarios.

I wonder.

I don’t know what to do with the idea.

I don’t know where to put it.

These days there are a lot of things I don’t know where to put.

I can’t put it in a Physics assignment, that’s for sure. The last time I tried something like that, the Physics professor said it was “outside the scope of the class”.

These days practically everything I’m interested in is “outside the scope of class”.

Nothing makes any sense.

Nothing makes any sense at all.


I’m somewhere in Berlin.

I’ve been skateboarding around, practicing ollieing up curbs.

I think Aesop Rock is playing in my headphones. Or Chiddybang.

There’s a playground close by.

I head towards it.

There’s sand, there are things to climb on, and there are swings.

I sit on one of the swings, contemplating life and rocking a little from front to back.

A woman just arrived at the playground.

I think she came to pick up one of the kids or something.

She looks sternly at me and says I shouldn’t be on the swing. That the swings are for kids.

Says I should not be using kid’s swings.

She’s talking to me so sternly.

I don’t understand why she’s being so stern.

I back away from the swing.

I’m thinking about the implications of her words.

Am I an adult? Is that what this means? Am I a grown up? Is that the meaning of all of this?

Have I now gotten to the point in life where I look completely out-of-place in a playground?

What does all of this mean?

As I head away from the playground, skateboard in hand-  I think to myself, No. No I am not an adult. I am not an adult please, I’m a baby. I’m a freaking baby, I’m a kid. I’m a kid please.

I am not at all ready to begin to think about the heavy connotation of responsibility and pivotal life decisions that comes with “adulthood”.

I am not ready for any of that at all.


Image: Upstairs at City Lights bookstore in San Francisco.


This post is one in a series. The other pieces in the Series can be accessed here.

San Francisco: Night out Clubbing at Ruby Skye.

The first club I visited in San Francisco, was Club X. Someone in the class mentioned on our Facebook group that they were having an event. And I think it was free for people with student IDs. It was either free, or at a significant discount.

Our student ID cards weren’t actually ready at the time. We all had our pictures taken a while back, but were yet to receive our ID cards.

The Facebook post mentioned however, that there was a way to join the event guest list. So you could be eligible for the discount/free entry even without a student ID.

All you had to do was to go comment your name on a post on Club X’s Facebook page or something like that.

And so people began to comment their names. We were all very excited.

Mm Clubbing, Mm Club X, Mm let’s go Mm


On the night of the event, it was like we were going for a meeting with school’s founder at the HQ. We were so many.

We were like thirty. Or more. Trooping along the sidewalk and chatting excitedly, our eyes alight with anticipation.

Most of us were new to San Francisco. A lot of us were new to the USA. And so that event provided an interesting opportunity to venture out into the city on our own, while still being surrounded by a group of people within which you generally felt safe.

The event was also 18+ which was great, because very few people in our class were 21 years or older. And so all 21+ events were out of our reach. Well that was unless you had a fake ID.

Club X was fun. Club X was very fun.

Clubbing at Club X became something of a regular thing over time.

At some point, some classmates began to form a negative impression of the club. They would talk about it on the group. Say it was rowdy or disorganized or not very classy, or some other concern that never resonated with me.


People generally go out for events in smaller groups now. SF is less unfamiliar and so people are more comfortable going out on their own. I myself have gradually been curating my personal algorithm for finding events in San Francisco. Eventbrite is generally where it’s at. There’s usually always something of interest happening on Eventbrite, on any given day. Given that, the question then involves which events you’re the most interested in.

Ruby Skye is a cool club people have been talking about. They generally speak very highly of it. Practically all of their events are 21+ though. So it seems to be something people just fantasize about from a distance.

I was scrolling through their website the other day. I don’t even know how I landed there, or what I was looking for.

At some point I saw something about an upcoming event. 18+.

Sorry what? Eighteen what did you just say?

I looked through it more carefully.

Yes. Yes it was an 18+ event.

Ohohohoho

I put a post up on the class’s Facebook group. A bunch of people were super stoked about it. We began to make plans. I think there was like a party Facebook Messenger group or something. We used that to correspond in more detail.

Seemed like something great was up ahead.



We’re in the club.

We’re about ten people from school.

Ruby Skye is super cool. It’s very big and spacious.

We’re dancing and having fun.

The girls go to the bathroom like every ten minutes. I have absolutely no idea what they’re always going to do in the bathroom.

And they go collectively. Like all of a sudden four girls are like, we need to go use the bathroom.

Like, do all of your bladders have synchronised timers or something- I don’t understand.


I just met this guy. He says he’s Australian. He’s a good-looking guy. Seems fun.

At some point I introduce him to one of the female classmates. She’s from Eastern Europe. They look like they might hit it off.

We keep dancing. Dancing and chatting, and there’s some flirting going around too.

The girl from Eastern Europe is back. Doesn’t seem like she and Australian guy really got something going.

We’re dancing. The room is generally very energetic. There are flashing lights and music, and every now end then there’s a super stimulating “beat drop” that just completely revs the energy level of the hall.

The Eastern European classmate looks like she’s interested in dancing up-close with me.

I don’t pay her body language any significant attention. I don’t have the energy for ambivalent and confusing signals right now.

We spent some time together over the winter break.

I used to have something of a crush on her.

We used to watch “How to Get Away with Murder” in my room. Watching steamy sex scenes of Annalise Keating and the tall muscular detective guy.

The guy was weird. Time and time again Annalise would do things to ruin his life. He lost job, his reputation was ruined, but yet he still kept indulging her- I was like dude the fuck is your problem, what is wrong with you, her own life is good- you’re the one who keeps getting in trouble- what is your problem you this guyyy.

One of those nights I indicated an interest in taking things further- I wasn’t exactly interested in spending time alone with a pretty girl in a dark room, and all we’d do would be to watch other people have sex.

She said she want interested in taking things beyond platonic movie watching.

Okay.

Okay.

I didn’t offer to have her over for movies after that night. I needed to reorder my life priorities.


Now she’s sending all of these confusing signals my way.

I don’t have the energy for this. She had her chance.


I’m at a different end of the club.

The view of the stage is different from here, mm.

Two girls walk up to me.

We talk for a bit.

At some point one is like:

“So, my friend”, she points to her African-American friend.

“She has been feeling a bit shy. And she told me she would be more comfortable dancing with someone who’s similar to her. Like racially.”

Hm.

I don’t understand what’s going on, but I don’t intend to protest.

There’s no problem shy African-American girl- I’ll be your black guy. I’ll be your safety-exuding black guy, there’s no problem.

We begin to dance.

All of a sudden she’s not so shy anymore.

In just a few seconds she went from demure-looking girl to vigorous hip-twister.

Oh she’s comfortable alright.

She’s definitely comfortable. This has to be what a mind at ease looks like.

I’m not complaining.

I’m not complaining at all.


Image: View of the Sutro Tower from somewhere. Either Corona Heights or Potrero Hill.

California Street: A Psychoactive Gift On The Fire Escape.

There’s this musician I’ve been listening to recently. A rapper.

His name is Tumi. I think his music is cool.

He’s from South Africa.

I’ve had his “I’m killing” song on replay for a while now. The song has some seriously dope vibes.

The whole Spotify thing is still somewhat surreal to me. Streaming songs on repeat.

That is something I probably would’ve never done about a year ago.

In Nigeria I always had to conserve my internet subscription. Internet subscriptions cost money, and so if I planned to listen to a song more than once, it made more sense to just download it.

But that’s not the case here in San Francisco.

There’s wifi everywhere. Our college dorms have super fast wifi and that’s just wonderful, but even out in the city free wifi is not hard to find.

That sort of access to the internet makes you see things differently.

Now if feels like my computer is really just a screen, a keyboard, and maybe some RAM.

And the entire internet is my hard drive.

Because you can access files on the internet so quickly- it’s almost like they were already on your computer.

I find all that really interesting to think about.


My roommate isn’t around. I’ve got the room to myself this evening.

I think I have some weed in one of my drawers.

A while back this Israeli guy was hanging out at the dorms. I think he was couchsurfing with an Israeli classmate or something.

I went to the patio downstairs to do something, and we crossed paths there. We got talking.

His first name was Roy.

His last name was literally something from the Bible. Like, the name of some fire-bending prophet or something.

People in Nigeria are generally very religious and so names from the Christian bible are very common. But physically meeting an Israeli guy with a Bible name made me see Bible characters as being much less otherworldly.

Like, these people in the bible were human beings. That clairvoyant prophet I’ve been hearing about in church since I was a baby, was just like this guy that’s smoking weed across the table from me.

They were all human beings, not surreal mystical characters existing on some esoteric metaphysical plane.

It felt like a very profound realisation and awareness.


Roy said he spent like the past few months working at a weed farm.

Sorry, a what?

A weed what?

I thought that was super interesting. I had never heard anything like that before.

He offered me some weed.

I took some time to weigh the situation.

I had class the next morning, and I didn’t want to be disoriented from the weed or anything.

I probably thought: I don’t know, I’m probably enough of an unserious student already. I don’t think I should aggravate my situation even more with some impromptu weed.

But he seemed like a really cool guy, and I felt like I would enjoy spending time with him.

I obliged.


We spent the next few hours smoking different strains of weed and talking about a bunch of different random stuff.

We talked about surfing, and about his time in the Israeli army.

He said the stress levels in the Israeli army could get very high. And that people relieved the stress in primarily two ways. Jerking off and fucking.

We talked about Fela Kuti.

Everybody knows Fela Kuti.

With a lot of people I meet randomly, whenever they hear I’m from Nigeria, usually Fela Kuti comes up in the conversation somehow.

Like, everybody knows this Fela Kuti guy.

At some point Roy would open up another small weed container and be like “This one. This one makes you laugh a lot. This one makes you laugh for no reason at all”, and he’d proceed to roll it into a joint.

It was a super interesting evening.


Surprisingly I did pretty well in class the next morning. It was a Formal Analysis class, and during my pre-class preparation I sort of independently came upon the concept known as “regression to the mean”.

I think it was “regression to the mean”. Some concept in Statistics.

I mentioned it in the course of the class, and was surprised to learn that it was an actual thing. Like, an actual statistical phenomenon.

That was really interesting.

Hm. Maybe I should smoke more weed.

Hm. Or maybe not.

Hm.


Tumi’s “I’m Killing” is still playing on Spotify.

Earlier in the day, I was playing the song on loudspeaker while I walked to the bathroom for a shower.

A classmate was walking by and she started nodding to the music and smiling at me.

I felt very good about that. Very very good.

I’ve had a crush on her for a while. But she doesn’t pay much attention to me. Or at least I don’t think she does.

She has a boyfriend. Some guy like that. Also a classmate. I’ve got mixed feelings about him, but generally I think he’s cool.

He can be kind of an asshole though. Everyone in the class generally agrees on that. He just has this persistent tendency to disturb and rile people up.

Hm, maybe I myself should begin to disturb everyone a lot more.

Maybe I should begin to play my music on loudspeaker, and make sure to bother everyone with it.

Maybe then my crush’ll begin to pay me more attention.

Hm, maybe that’s what makes her like that guy in the first place.

Hm.


Roy- the cool Israeli guy, he left me with some weed.

By “some weed”, I mean like three different strains. Or four even.

I’ve had them in one of my drawers for a while. I haven’t touched any of it since he gave me. That was like over a month ago. I’m not really a weed guy- I just don’t really have the space for it in my life.

But this evening I’m especially free. And I’m kind of in the mood.

I go get some.

I think smoking in the dorms could set off the fire alarm.

I heard something people do, is to head out onto the fire escape to smoke.

I’ve always thought that was kind of exciting, but I’ve never really given it too much thought.

But this evening I seem to have a lot of free time, so I find myself actively contemplating it.


I’m on the fire escape.

The night is dark, and California street is glittering with electric lights.

The air is chilly.

Tumi’s “I’m killing” is still playing in the room.

I light up a joint.

At some point I hear giggles.

I turn my head to the right, to understand what is going on.

There are two smiling faces in the window.

It’s Jakob and Fiona. They’re on the bed in the next room. They both look very excited.

Fiona opens the window and calls out my name. We all spend some time exchanging thrilled pleasantries- They from the warmth of the room next door, and me from my chilly spot on the fire escape.

We laugh and talk for a while. We’re all very excited to interact in this exhilarating situation.

At some point they close the window and return to indulging in their enviable romance.

I proceed to take a few more puffs at my joint, feeling accomplished to have scored some “cool guy” points in the books of two people I admire.


Image: View down California street on a random night.

Ocean Eyes

I’m sitting on a raft.

It’s a plastic raft- It’s made of a number of buoyant plastic cuboids strung together somehow.

The raft bobs gently atop the water.

The night’s air is entrancingly tranquil.


The raft bobs gently atop the water.

I’m listening to Billie Eilish’s “Ocean Eyes”.

I’ve got these Motorola Bluetooth headphones I bought online over the winter with the appreciable student-internship money that came in over the holidays.

December was chill. Very chill. I think I discovered Imogen Heap in December. Through Spotify.

It was a very stimulating experience- Having the atmospheric electrification of her robotic music reverberate through the dimly-lit room while I sat at my computer, doing some data-processing internship work against the backdrop of downtown San Francisco’s shimmering night-time skyline.

I think I bought the headphones from some site an Indian classmate told me about. I had never heard of the site before. They had some pretty solid deals.

I like the headphones. Rather than go over my head from ear to ear, they go around the back of my head. I find that really appealing, because other headphones leave this like cuboidal crater across the top of my head whenever I take them off. Because they compress the hair.

The Motorola headphones are cool.


The raft bobs gently atop the water.

I’m listening to Billie Eilish’s “Ocean Eyes”.

At this point in time, I don’t know Billie Eilish by name. She’s one of the artists whose cool songs Spotify recently recommended for me. Or put together in a playlist. Something like that.

“Ocean Eyes” by Billie Eilish.

Along with “Slip” by Elliot Moss.

Haha. I also really like that one. I really like it.

At this point in time, I’m aware of these artists more by the enigmatic communal identity given them by their general genre, than by their names.


The raft bobs gently atop the water.

I’m falling in love.

I don’t know it yet though. I don’t know it yet.

I was at this seminar earlier. At the Nervana HQ. Nervana is this Deep Learning library I recently learnt about. They held a seminar to publicize their library and familiarize people with its workings.

I don’t know anything about Deep Learning. I just know I’m very interested in it.

I got to the seminar late. Everyone was seated and listening intently to what some Indian guy was saying. That was when I walked into the room. I strolled in and found a seat for myself at the back.


“I’m going to make you late for your seminar.”

It was something of a concerned whisper.

An anxious wisp of a voice that floated its way out of an entanglement of smudged lipstick and sensual gasps and intertwined limbs and an unhooked brassiere.

“Don’t worry, the seminar isn’t all that important.”

The intertwined limbs kept at whatever it was they were doing, relatively uninterrupted.


I’m falling in love.

I don’t know it yet though.

I don’t know it yet.


The people at the seminar probably saw me stride regally across the room, looking very esteemed and cool and untroubled and confident.

What they probably didn’t know was that my otherworldly chill and dreamy tranquility at the time, came from engagement in a completely different kind of activity. I new next to nothing about the technical topics being discussed in the room.


General view from the floating plastic raft

The raft bobs gently atop the water.

“Ocean Eyes” by Billie Eilish keeps playing.

I don’t know how much time passes before I get off the raft. Maybe an hour. Maybe more. I get off, and on to the small pier leading back to the road.

I keep walking along the bay.

At some point I come across this guy. He’s standing right in front of the railings by the sidewalk. He’s facing the water.

I think he’s fishing.

Yes. Yes, he’s fishing.

He’s got this fishing rod in his hands.

Somehow, we begin to converse.

He is from the Dominican Republic.

I think.

Some Latin American country.

We talk about general things for a bit.

He works construction in the US.

At some point he tells me about his girlfriend:


He used to have a girlfriend. Back in his country of origin.

They lost touch when he moved to the US for work.

Her mother never liked him.

Hated him actually. For some reason.

Hated him so much that she prevented him from ever knowing he had a daughter.

Something like that.

His girlfriend was pregnant at the time he moved to the US.

But he never got to know.

He just recently found out.

He reunited with his girlfriend the year before. They spent the holidays together somewhere in Latin America.

He shows me pictures and videos.

His daughter is like six years old.

Or seven.

Or eight even, I don’t know.

I’m shocked he could have been deprived of news of her existence for that long.

He smiles as he scrolls through the pictures, his face gleaming with immense fondness for the both of them. He says he’s planning towards having them join him in the US.

We keep talking.

At some point he asks for my story.

What’s your own story?” He asks, curious.

I tell him I’m studying in the US on a scholarship.

He seems very wowed. Very very wowed. Immensely impressed.

We keep talking.

At some point I try my hand at his fishing rod.

I’ve never done anything of the sort before.

He gives me some instructions: Do this, do this, after that do this and do this…

He lists like seven different steps.

I find myself repeating the steps after him, but I know only like the first one actually made it into my head.

I swing the rod to send the bait and hook thing into the water.

There is an unnerving “CRACK!” somewhere along the equipment.

I think I just broke something.

I begin to apologize profusely.

“Oh my God I’m so sorry, that was so clumsy of me I’m so sorry I hope it’s not something so serious”

He says there’s no problem. That I shouldn’t worry about it.

His reaction gives me some relief.

We keep talking.

At some point he asks where I was headed.

I point in the general direction to the right.

He says okay.

He says okay, but that I shouldn’t go too much further down that path.

He says there’s a very dangerous area there- Third street.

Says the place is very unsafe, especially at night. I should avoid it at all costs.

I thank him for his concern.

We keep talking.


A number of weeks later, I’ll find myself skateboarding down the infamous Third Street.

At night.

I never planned it- I was just skateboarding along the bay, and then somehow I found myself there.

As I cruise down the sidewalk on my skateboard, I’ll take my time to observe the people I come across. They’re all black. They look like the sorts of people you’ll come across walking through the Tenderloin district- the sorts of people the Terderloin is kinda known for, but they don’t look particularly menacing.

Some of them look vaguely sketchy- not exactly the type you’d think of walking up to and striking up a conversation with.

I don’t know- Maybe they look particularly unnerving precisely because of the pronounced warning of the Latin American fishing guy.

I don’t know.

Thoughts of getting some fast food at a road-side restaurant will cross my mind.

I’ll be concerned about the time. It’ll be pretty late.

Usually I’m out at midnight in San Francisco and don’t feel uneasy at all.

But this is Third Street.

I’ve only ever heard one thing about this place. And that, is that I should not do exactly what I’m doing right now.

I won’t buy food.

I’ll skateboard down Third Street some more.

I’ll come across a MUNI stop.

Ah, a train goes back towards the Ferry building from here.

I’ll wait at the stop- skateboard in hand. Wondering what my fate will be, surrounded by all of the suspicious Third street people.

The train will take forever to come.


Image: View of Downtown San Francisco’s shimmering night-time skyline from one of the dorm room windows.

First-Time Surfing at Pacifica.

I was at this surf shop. That was a number of weeks ago. I’ve had this curiosity about surfing for a while- I think it’s an interesting activity.

I was talking with the guys at the shop. There were interesting-looking boards everywhere. They had a number of overhead television screens where I could see live footage of some surfing locations. I could see the live waves and weather conditions and stuff- it was all very interesting to look at.

The attendant mentioned Pacifica as an interesting surfing location in relatively close proximity. I noted the name. It would be interesting to check it out at some point.


A while before that, I met this couple at an ice-cream shop in the Sunset district in San Francisco. They had a number of surfboards in the cargo bed of their pickup truck. I struck up a conversation with the guy about surfboards and surfing. He mentioned that I could get pretty good surfboards at Costco for a ridiculously cheap price. They were made of a different material, but they were still pretty good. That was interesting to learn. At some point they offered to pay for my ice cream. I didn’t argue. They were nice. Nice people.


I am at Pacifica. I am at the beach. I took a number of subway trains and then some buses to get here.

I’ve started trying the surfing thing. I’m definitely not doing a lot of things right. I’ve just been getting bashed by the waves over and over and over. I actually didn’t even go through any tutorials or watch any surfing videos before coming here. I just felt it wouldn’t be all that much of an issue:

It’s water. And then there’s a board. And you’re moving about on the board. I skateboard already and I’m pretty alright at that, so how difficult could this possibly be.

Bruh, it’s been difficult. I got past the torrent of waves once. Once I got far enough into the water to turn the board around and face land. It was a strange experience- seeing land from the perspective of someone out in the water, with nothing but a surfboard to hold on to. I felt somewhat unanchored and adrift and disoriented.

The next step was to catch a wave. At that time, I didn’t even know what the next step was. From watching everyone around, I just knew I needed to get into the water, past the waves and then surf back somehow.

There was this guy next to me in the water. He was giving me some directions:

Lie straight on the board, grip the edges with your fingers, let your toes be at the the very edge of the tail end.

It felt very strange. Learning to swim during weekend visits to a Staff club swimming pool back in university in Nigeria, the issue with being in the water was learning to be comfortable off your feet. Off your feet and on your stomach or on your back or however- just not in the upright position that an entire life of experience existing as a being on land, has made you an expert at.

Following that guy’s directions, it felt like I was unlearning another sort of comfortable position. Now I wasn’t putting my trust in my hands and my legs to keep me afloat and propel me through the water- no. My feet were to be be stuck together- immobile, at the end of the board- my hands were to grip the board for a while before I began to paddle. Somehow I was supposed to put all of my confidence in this piece of plastic to keep me afloat and balanced astride the pulsing swells of belligerent ocean water. It felt weird.


The guy giving me directions had a very deep and resonant voice. He looked very Chinese, but sounded very American. Exactly like one of the San Francisco college staff. Exactly like Mister Wang. The familiarity actually helped me feel more at ease, out in the water on the surfboard.


I am back on land. I’m jogging along the beach. There’s this very tall bearded guy I saw taking a break from surfing earlier. I thought he looked interesting. He is sitting on the sand with his board and with a group of people.

Somehow we strike up a conversation. I think I start by complimenting his beard. We begin to talk. His name is Simon. He’s German. He’s here with his girlfriend and a number of friends. His friends also happen to be coworkers at a startup he founded based on some work he did for his PhD in Germany. Interesting. The company was recently acquired by Apple and they all moved to the US from Germany. Interesting.

We keep talking. His PhD had something to do with graphical processing and parallel computing. We talk about that a bit. I mention some Machine Learning Consultancy I was engaged in, in Lagos Nigeria- it involved building Computer Vision software to process real-time traffic footage. We keep talking.

At some point they want to go have lunch. I come with. We go return our surfboards and wetsuits. They are all so tall- the guys. They are like six foot seven. One is even taller than Simon. Like six foot nine. I’m like six foot two, and generally that’s considered pretty tall. But hanging out with these guys makes me feel like an insect. Like an excited, chattering insect.

And I actually like it. I like hanging out with very tall people- it makes me feel like a baby who is surrounded by adults capable of handling whatever problem comes along. It makes me feel very safe.


We are having lunch.

I mention that I’ll be spending the next semester of college in Berlin. Ahhh, they say. Berlin will be fun. The Oktoberfest is coming soon. I should make sure to indulge in the vast variety of sausages Germany has to offer. And the beer. I’m going to enjoy the beer.

I actually do indulge in the sausages. In the next few months. Currywurst. Bratwurst. A number of different “wursts”. I’ll take one at a small sausage kiosk after emerging from a quick autumn dip in the chilly water of Krumme Lanke, while contemplating the anxeities involving my college enrolment and the ambiguity surrounding my general future.

We keep discussing over lunch. At some point Simon’s girlfriend makes a comment about Khal Drogo. Something about Khal Drogo having a large penis. Or at least having a larger penis than Simon. He looks hurt. It’s not a lasting impression- it’s just a brief flicker of discernible discomfort/pain on his face. I think that’s very unfair and inconsiderate of his girlfriend. I wonder why she would say that- obviously primarily to spite him. We keep talking.


In about thirty minutes I’ll be in their car- Simon and his girlfriend. It’s a very small car. First I’ll wonder why such a large guy drives such a small car. I’ll also wonder why a considerable number of people I’ve met in Silicon Valley drive such moderate cars. People in Nigeria with much less money drive such extravagant vehicles. The roads can be remarkably terrible, and people spend hours in traffic, but somehow there’s still a lot of prestige associated with the sort of vehicle a person owns.

People are somehow capable of spending so much money on individual luxury, while the communal welfare is generally deplorable. In the most affluent parts of Lagos you’ll see like a $70,000 Porche wading through knee-deep muddy water pooled in cavernous potholes along the road. I don’t understand it. I don’t get how such an aesthetically dissonant experience could still be perceived as luxury- it superlatively bewilders me.

In the car Simon and I will talk about relationships. Relationship issues. I’ll talk about my relationship. The major issue I’m experiencing is maintaining the desired level of intimacy with a partner who is on holidays with her family, on a different continent. Simon’s major issue is that he’s meeting other people he would like to date, but can’t because of his current relationship. I try to empathize, but I cannot completely relate. Simon and his girlfriend have been in a relationship for fifteen years. I have absolutely no idea what that feels like.

And maybe that’s why his girlfriend makes snide remarks about his penis. Possibly to hack at his self-esteem by undermining his sexual capabilities, in a bid to reduce the likelihood of him exiting the relationship to date someone else he’s interested in.

We’ll talk about a number of other things in the car. He’ll describe how he broke a personal speed limit while driving on the Autobahn. Interesting.


We are done with lunch. We head to the counter. They offer to pay for my meal. I do not argue. I am with the super-tall adults who are capable of handling whatever problems come our way. I am the safe and excited chattering insect baby. They pay for our food and we head out to the car.


Image: That afternoon.

Lost at Night in San Francisco.

I am walking by a graveyard.

It is a military graveyard- the people buried here were likely casualties in some war.

I walk amidst the headstones, reading off the names. A lot of these people were young men.

As I walk through this throng of gravesite markers in the dead of the night, I begin to wonder what things were left undone by these people. Just how much was left undone.

Words never said. Ideas never conceived. Aspirations never accomplished. Lovers never met. Lovers never seen again. Children never had.

The graveyard feels loud. It feels loud with voices- voices destructively interfered with, by untimely death.

It’s in the middle of the night here at the Presidio in San Francisco, but strangely I feel somewhat deafened by the riotous voices seeming to bubble to the surface from the graves, and overhang the general area like a dark insidious cloud of suppressive heaviness.

In a few months I’ll be having dinner with a classmate couple in Berlin. One of them’ll mention something about how whatever happens in life is for the best. Even the very negative things, like untimely death. I’ll ask her if she really thinks that perspective is valid, or if it’s just palliative. She’ll say she’s not quite sure.

I keep walking.

At some point I come upon an asphalt road. I put down my skateboard and begin to skate.


I am skateboarding by one of the very interesting Revivalist buildings which populate the Presidio. Some guy walks out of one of these buildings. The room he walks out from, is very brightly lit. I think he’s security.

He asks me what I’m doing here. I describe my night. Went out for a walk, skateboarded a bit, found myself here, skateboarding onwards. He seems satisfied with my explanation, and tells me to go on and be safe.

I keep moving.


I am at the Golden Gate Bridge. I have absolutely no idea how I got here.

I began this night by heading out of the dorms at Nob Hill. I doubt I could find my way to the bridge during the day without a map and without asking for directions. I have no idea how I managed to do it at night.

A few minutes ago I was walking along a footpath bordered by some brush and some short wooden poles which had some sort of rope strung between them. I headed out of the footpath and voila, there was the Golden Gate Bridge right up ahead.


I am at some sort of a car park. I’m trying some ollies on the skateboard. I still haven’t gotten the ollie thing down.

A guy at the Sunset district expressed some humorous scorn when I told him I had been skateboarding for about a year. He was surprised I couldn’t really do any serious tricks.

I was somewhat taken by surprise. I still considered myself a young skateboarder- one who consequently deserved some slack with regard to proficiency at tricks. I was surprised by what he said.

He was an interesting guy. Steven. Steven with a South American last name. Said he was a jeweler. Looked like he was high most of the time. I was curious what his day was like as a jeweler. I wondered what his office/workspace looked like and stuff.

He expressed some sort of disapproval at Nob Hill as a residential location.

“Noise everywhere from the passing vehicles, homeless people…”

At that point I realized how quiet the Sunset District was. I had spent the past few months getting used to, and even coming to enjoy the auditory bustle of Nob Hill, but at that moment I realized there was definitely a point in his perspective.

He was riding this bike. Modified bike. It had large handlebars and a strangely low seat. He looked like he was riding a bike meant for preschoolers, but at the same time it looked cool. He said he built it himself. Said he intended to exhibit it at some event for modified bikes coming up soon.


I am at the Golden Gate Bridge. I have no idea how I got here. But that’s not so much of a problem. The actual problem is that I have no idea how to get back.

I have expended pretty much all of the impatient repressed energy that sent me bursting out of the dorms this night, to the amusing amusement of the Turkish-looking security guard. No way I’m skateboarding back to Nob Hill this night. I don’t even feel it. My body has no such plans right now.


I am in an office. I think it’s an interesting office, because it looks exactly like the movie depiction of American police stations.

I take some time to stare around the room, taking in the very interesting space while feeling like someone just threw me in the middle of a movie scene being filmed.

I walk up to an officer sitting by a window overlooking the bridge. He looks obese, most likely because of the sedentary nature of his job.

I explain my situation to him: Left Nob Hill on a walk, found myself here, don’t know how to get back etc.

He seems very nice and kind. He makes a phone call and tells me not to worry. Says someone is coming to get me. I feel relieved.

I ask him what he is doing by that window. It doesn’t look like he’s taking in a leisurely view of the bridge at night. It looks like he’s doing his job.

He says every once in a while someone comes along with the intention to jump off the bridge. He’s there to prevent that from happening successfully.

Oh wow. That’s pretty intense.

I wonder how computers could possible be equipped to carry out such a task. I don’t know, maybe there’s some sort of a pattern in the gait of suicidal people that computers could learn to pick up on. I don’t know, maybe.


My ride is here. I thank the kind officer at the station, and head into the car.

I’m being driven by a young police officer in his mid-to-late twenties. We’re engaging in conversation. He says he recently got married. Says some people think it’s strange he got married pretty early, but that he’s very happy with it. Happy with his marriage and his wife.

To be honest, I’m in the group that thinks it’s strange. I think he’s a loser for getting married.

Have some woman somewhere with whom you go snuggle every night. What a loser.

In the next few months I’ll find myself in love. And everything he’s saying will make profound sense to me. I don’t know anything now. I don’t know anything.


We’ve reached my stop. I can get a bus to my destination from here. I think the police officer, wish him goodnight and head out of the car.


Image: A different night. With a skateboard borrowed from a Chinese classmate.

Of Summer Rendezvous and Stolen Wine.

Mister Wang is on the balcony.

I’m not quite sure what he’s doing. I think he’s just taking in the view. Or maybe he’s having a phone call- I’m not quite sure.

I am in the kitchen section of the college HQ. There is a stash of wine bottles by my right.

I never really used to pay attention to the wine. In my head, it was in the same category with the like shoulder-high rack of wine bottles in one of the meeting rooms. The one with a table and an iMac and bookshelves and sofas.

I had that room to myself on a recent afternoon. Reclining in the extremely comfortable chair, reading about a newly-popular deep learning library called Keras on the iMac screen. Thinking about neural networks and activation functions and feeling like some grey-haired Stanford professor.

In my head, the assortment of wine bottles to my left were not for consumption by mere mortals like myself. The wine was arranged there for a different species- one I had never encountered before.

In my head, the bottles by my left were not wine, they were art. To be protected from contact with my inquisitive epidermis, lest those invaluable vessels dripping with rich history, instantly crumble into regrettable dust upon contact with my lowly Homo Sapien skin.

But the bottles of wine in the kitchen- the bottles of wine here by my right? These ones are different.

Like a few weeks ago I walked into the HQ kitchen and saw a half-full bottle. I paused mid-stride to make sense of what I was seeing.

Wait, this wine is for drinking? This wine is to be drunk? By human beings?

Ohhhhhh.

Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

Okay. Okay. Okay I get it now. I get it now.

I think there had been some sort of a celebration at the HQ a number of hours before. Hence the wine.


Mister Wang is on the balcony.

I intend to transport one of the wine bottles into my backpack.

I do not know if that is stealing. I know chocolates and general snacks are accessible to all, but I just don’t know about the wine.

I don’t know if it’s expensive wine. To be honest I have no idea how to identify expensive wine, either by the bottle or by the taste. I think confirmation bias could make otherwise unremarkable wine taste expensive. To like me the uninitiated, it definitely would. It probably would have much less of an effect on expert tasters and stuff though.

I wonder if Mister Wang on the balcony can hear my thoughts.

I wonder if he has already perceived my intentions. He gave me a brief glance a few seconds ago.

I don’t know. He seems to be very engrossed in whatever he is doing.

I don’t know. Or maybe he is just being disingenuous.

The wine bottle is in my bag.

In my head I am coming up with explanations for my actions. I am advocating my innocence to the skeptical college-faculty superego in my brain. I can see myself in front of a disciplinary council, drawing on ethical frameworks and logical arguments to exonerate my very pitiable self from impending doom and desolation.

The school administration has been expelling people in recent times. I wonder if I could get expelled for stealing wine from the HQ. I don’t know.

But wait, I don’t even know if this is stealing. The wine is definitely accessible to general staff. I think. For students? I don’t know. For a student sneaking a bottle into his bag to drink back at the dorms with his girlfriend? I have no idea.

The wine bottle is in my bag.

My head keeps dancing about in a web of ethical conundrums as I head out to Market Street and begin to skateboard down to Powell.


A Kenyan classmate just helped me with a wine-opener. She says something about having some sort of share in the wine.

I’m not quite sure what she’s talking about. There’s only room for two this night.

I head down the stairs. About ninety percent of the class is home for summer break- and so the building in Nob Hill which functions as our dorms, is largely empty. The girlfriend and I have been making use of a number of different rooms in the building, in addition to our assigned rooms for the summer.

I call one the “flute room”, because during the session one of the occupants used to play the flute.

It was somewhat ticklish for me being in that room with the girlfriend, and thinking about the relatively innocent conversations I had had right there, with the occupants of the room a number of months before.

Hm, if only these people knew what we’re doing in their room now. What we’re doing with their beds.

Today it’s a different room. This one has a view of California street. Like my room.

I’m heading downstairs, wine-opener in hand.

The stolen wine should set a very stimulating mood for the night.

This night should be a very interesting one.


It’s a number of days later.

I am having a conversation with a resident assistant- a classmate from Malaysia. She is telling me about a strange discovery she made while locking up one of the rooms in the building for the summer.

The room was supposed to have already been cleared out, and so she was surprised to find an unempty bottle of wine in the wardrobe. Along with a blanket. And a number of other things which had very tenuous strings to their consequently ambiguous owners.

Hm. I wonder where the wine came from. I wonder how it got there. I wonder how it got opened, and I wonder what activities the beings who drank from the bottle intended to engage in.

Hm. I wonder.

This life is a mystery.


Image: Drinking (unjustifiably?) expensive wine at Shiro- an interesting Pan Asian restaurant in Lagos Nigeria.

Kissing Girls in UC Berkeley.

Oh my God, you’re an angel!!

We are at UC Berkeley. Africa hall. Or Africa section. Africa something.

I am expressing immense appreciation to a student.

She is tall, and she has some glittering party make-up on. I think she looks really interesting.

She just let us into a 21+ party.

None of us is up to twenty one.

Well apart from our American classmate who has a fake ID. He is 21+ according to his fake ID.

I did not know Americans also faked documents. I used to think stuff like that only happened in like Nigeria.

A few weeks after resumption, someone offered to help me and some other classmates out with fake IDs.

You know, for 21+ party access and stuff.

I politely declined.

Please, I just got to America. I just landed here a few weeks ago- this place where everything is supposed to be perfect and where life is supposed to be nothing short of heaven on earth. Please hold on to your offer, thank you. I did not fly here all the way from Nigeria to make fake IDs thanks.

——————

We’re in.

We’re inside the party.

Come to think it, we came all the way from San Francisco without even being sure if we were going to get in.

Hahaha.

Props to the infallible confidence of the American with the fake ID.

Hahahaha.

———————

The party seems really fun. There’s cool music and party lights and people dancing everywhere, mm.

I walk around and talk to a number of people. There’s some guy who studies something interesting. Like Biomedical Engineering or something like that. We talk for a while.

I keep moving around and dancing.

At some point I ask the DJ for permission to play some music from Nigeria. It’s rap music and I enjoy rap, but it’s this party rap that has a vibe that I feel will provide some interesting contrast to the predominantly Western music that’s being played.

The student DJ agrees.

I look up Falz and Phyno’s recent collaborations on Spotify. Falz has been making some interesting waves recently. While in Nigeria, I was like the only one I knew, who knew him. Well, me and the person who introduced me to his music. Recently though, he has been experiencing some international recognition. His music is very good- I really enjoy it. And I feel happy for him.

Falz and Phyno’s “Karishika” begins to play. “Karishika” is a jovially superstitious song about agents from the underworld who disguise themselves as attractive women, with the aim of inspiring the ruin of men who are making notable headway in life.

It appeals to a pretty prevalent mindset in Nigeria that men are the primary beings with well-defined destiny and purpose in life, and that women generally exist to either support or preclude the realization of said destiny.

It’s definitely very patriarchal, the women in the society for some reason behave in ways that reinforce this perspective- making you actually begin to wonder if it’s some sort of a self-fulfilling prophecy thing. Or even more bewildering, if men in Nigeria are in actual fact the only humans with life purpose and women only exist as auxiliaries.

But it’s a great ass party song.

The people dancing also seem to think so. Everyone seems excited.

Haha great.


I’ve resigned from my acting DJ position.

Now I’ve found myself toying with the idea of just walking around and persuading girls to kiss me.

I think it’s an interesting idea.


There’s this Asian-looking girl. Her name is Melanie.

We’re talking and dancing. I make her aware of my current mission. She seems very excited by it, but for some reason is hesitant to actually kiss me.

We talk some more and dance some more. At some point we kiss.

Mwah. It’s a mwah kiss.


There’s this British-sounding girl.

She is very very fun to dance with. She has some serious moves.

We keep dancing.

I make her aware of my mission. She’s also excited by it, but she says she has a boyfriend.

I think she’s lying.

We keep dancing. I keep attempting to persuade her. In between dance moves and hearty laughter she keeps bringing up the issue of her boyfriend- a being whose existence I am very suspicious of.

—————————

I haven’t kissed any girls in a bit. My attention has been taken by all of the other rooms in the building.

I’m in the bathroom.

There are condoms everywhere.

I do not understand.

The sexual culture in this country is so different.

Growing up in Nigeria, sex was pretty much a taboo topic. Something people only talked about in detail, in private. Not every time hush hush, but definitely not this.

Here, sex is everywhere.

There is a surprisingly expansive heap of condoms in front of the bathroom mirror. And dental dams.

The impression I get is, “We know you people are going to have sex. Just do it safely please.

I don’t even know what this dental dam thing is used for. At this very point in time, I do not even know what the name is. I pick up a few pieces of the coloured rectangular stretchy thingies, and begin to imagine what in the name of God they could possibly be used for.

————————————

I am in another room. It looks like some sort of a Computer research lab. There is a pretty large monitor in the middle of the room. There is a girl seated at the computer. There is a guy hunched over her, looking at something evidently very important on the screen. They look up at me as I walk in. They do not seem very friendly. I say hello and leave.


I am back at the dancefloor.

I’m with two female classmates.

Now I’m attempting to persuade them to cop a feel of my chest muscles.

I know one of them thinks I have a hot body. She wrote that to me at this school event where everyone had a large piece of paper that I think some of us taped to our backs, and then everyone else wrote pretty pleasant stuff on everyone else’s paper.

Now I’m trying to persuade her and her American bestfriend to take some action with regard to their evidenced thoughts.

They seem shy, but have the potential to be receptive. I keep exploring the possibility.


The party is pretty done.

I am in the kitchen.

Some guy is frying something. Tater tots or something like that.

It took me a while and some confusion-inspired concentration to realize that the name of whatever he is making is “Tato tots”. Like “tato” from potato.

Oho. Now I get it.

Unfamiliar accents further complicate the understanding of new expressions.

I have resumed my kissing mission.

There’s a girl beside me. We’re having a pretty alright chat, and I’m attempting to elicit multiple kisses from her over tato tots.


We are outside. We’re sitting on the floor- we’re all considerably tired and pretty drunk.

We need to get back to San Francisco. That is something we’re all subconsciously aware of, but for some reason no one seems to have the energy to translate into action.

We keep sitting on the floor and laughing. An immensely drunk Danish classmate somehow emerged from within the building with this very giant baguette. I wonder where in the name of God he found such a giant baguette. I thought I had seen all there was to see in that building.

An Argentine classmate takes up the responsibility of ordering us an Uber. This guy is our father this night- right now we’re all just a bunch of drunk college guys lying on the floor in UC Berkeley with absolutely no plan on how to get back to SF.


Image: A different party.

Party in Oakland/A Second-Hand Cuban Cigar.

Once I was seven years old, my

momma told me, go

make yourself some friends or you’ll be lonely


We are in an Uber, on the Bay bridge back to San Francisco.

Lukas Graham’s “Seven Years” is playing on the speakers.

We are on our way back from a party in Oakland.

A Danish classmate somehow got us invites. I think he has some DJ friends there.

We are all ecstatic. The Danish guy is in the passenger’s seat. Jamming. We are all jamming.

I’m in the seat right behind him.

Oakland was fun. Oakland was very fun.


This is like, very bad rap!! Like, it is really bad hahaha!!

I am shouting to my American roommate, trying to be heard over the very loud music. Subconsciously I realize that I am beginning to perceive myself as having heard enough rap music in my life, to confidently call something being played aloud in a club “bad rap”.

My roommate is dancing. We are all dancing. There’s this face he makes when he dances that makes me think of his mother. I think it’s very cute.

I met her once. When we were all moving into the dorms at the beginning of the first semester. They’ve been inviting me over to their home in Southern California for the holidays. I’ve just not been comfortable enough in terms of either time or finances to accept their recurrent invites.

They even once offered to pay the flight tickets. I was touched. I just felt like I would be entirely dependent on them while I was there, and I didn’t really like the thought of that.

A Brazilian classmate was in our Oakland party group. I think he left recently. He seemed anxious about something, I don’t know what.

A classmate from eastern Europe says she’s going out for a cigarette.

I think she’s very pretty. I had a huge crush on her at the beginning of the first semester. But at some point she started dating some guy. Some Danish guy. Another classmate. She seems to really like him.

I have mixed feelings about him- the Danish guy. He’s smart. He’s very smart- remarkably smart. His performance in classes are like magic to me. I don’t understand it at all.

He’s also very rude. And insensitive. That is annoying, that is persistently annoying. But he’s fun. He’s very fun.

The Danish guys are very fun. They are this cool Danish duo who are always going out and doing cool stuff.

The pretty European once mentioned something to me about cigarettes, and how they can be a considerably reliable facilitator for conversation.

Would you like to head out for a cigarette?” is a pretty effective way to draw a person out of a crowd and go have a more private conversation.

I recently tried cigarettes for the first time. I never even thought about it in Nigeria. My parents thought very negatively of it, and I had a number of very interesting hobbies so my life was lacking neither excitement nor novelty.

In the past few months they’ve been very accessible though. A considerable number of people around me here smoke cigarettes. And so that continuous accessibility has outweighed my inattention.

I was unimpressed by the cigarette. I don’t understand why people like them. They smell and taste annoying. I am completely confused by how popular they are.

I recently tried this fat Cuban cigarette thing though. Ahhhh. That one was different. That one was very different.

It was at this interesting building on a street off Powell- I think it’s the street with the Walgreens. Or the one after that.

It’s the street with this jewelry shop where I collected the number of the sales attendant. After spending about twenty minutes asking pretty detailed questions about diamonds whose prices involved very bewildering numbers.

I acquired a considerable amount of knowledge about diamonds that day. Learnt about the head. Learnt about how the colour and the presence of impurities could influence the price of the jewel. Some impurities actually make the diamond more valuable- depending on the specifics.

Mm. Interesting.

Learnt about the prestige. I think it was prestige. Prestige, premier- something like that.

“You want my number?”

She looked up at me, looking somewhat bashful. She briefly glanced around- almost like she was looking for some sort of approval from the second attendant.

“Hm, well I don’t have a boyfriend, so okay.”

Paper. Number. Pocket.

She was very friendly. And sexy. She was very sexy.

I never called her. I’m a first year college student living in a dorm room with my American roommate. I don’t think going out on dates with a woman who sells diamonds for a living is what I should be doing right now. I have classes and assignments and my general life to figure out.


Aha, the Cuban cigar.

We had just finished this Student Support Network meeting with the college psychologist. Cool guy, the psychologist. I was nominated by a member of the college staff who seems to really like me, for some reason.

I was on my way out of the interesting room in which we had the meeting. Impressive wooden floors, ornate wooden bookshelves and general furniture- just fascinating. The room felt like something out of a period piece about a renowned monarch.

I was on my way out of the room. And then I saw this other room by the right. There was a large table at the centre. There were chairs around it. It looked like a group of affluent and accomplished men in dazzling suits had recently gathered there to discuss men-stuff and politics and opportunities for the realization of even more accomplishments and affluence.

I walked into the room and took my time to soak in the very esteemed ambience.

And then I saw the Cuban cigar on the table. I think it was a Cuban cigar. It was brown and fat, like the type in movies. It had to be a Cuban cigar- that’s what they call the brown and fat ones isn’t it.

Before I knew it, I was on the balcony- looking over the tops of the buildings outside, and generally just enjoying that San Francisco skyline in between puffs of the brown fat cigar.

I don’t know what the general opinion is on smoking second-hand cigars, but that was just one faint tiny bell ringing at the back of my mind.

I took my time to draw some very slowly-savoured breaths through the cigar- getting a thorough taste of the resplendent affluence and accomplishment and life-establishment that the men in that room had very perceptibly diffused into the space.

It had neither a disturbing smell nor taste. And it felt very round and firm between my fingers. Brown and stolid and fat.

A few minutes later, I returned the cigar to the table- I had taken just a few puffs- and headed out.

On my way back up Powell, I became aware of this strange feeling in my head. My head felt clear. It was strange. The marked mental clarity I felt after smoking the cigar, made me wonder if there was some sort of fog in my head before.


The pretty European classmate is taking a sip from a transparent bottle. The liquid inside is bright blue.

There is a very jovial African-American guy seriously hyping the contents of the bottle. He says it’s Ecstasy.

He is talking very excitedly. He is either normally a very excitable guy, or he’s just excited about talking with the pretty European. I don’t know. Or maybe I’m just jealous.

I just took a sip from the bottle. In my mind I’m thinking about how much Ecstasy tastes like Gatorade.

I keep watching the African-American Ecstasy hype man. Chattering on about his very dubious-tasting drug.

At some point the Danish guy who got the club invites says we should better get going.

“So we don’t get mugged!”

He sounds like he’s talking from recent experience. Maybe they got mugged in Hawaii.

The two Danish guys recently flew to Hawaii. A considerable number of classmates were dumbfounded, myself included.

A number of months ago, I arrived the USA from Nigeria. My first time travelling outside the country. I am still here, trying to understand and make sense of this new degree of freedom- this new axis of movement. And these guys are flying to Hawaii on a moment’s notice.

Wow. Like wow.


Soon we’ll be thirty years old, our

songs have been sold, we’ve

travelled around the world and we’re still roaming


We are in an Uber, on the Bay bridge back to San Francisco.

Lukas Graham’s “Seven Years” is playing on the speakers.


Image: Cool nextdoor neighbours at the dorms.