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January 11, 2004

Olfactory Assault

The repugnant odor pervaded my nostrils once again, bringing my waning Winter Break to an abrupt and unapologetic end. I was back in Berkeley. And for the first time in a long time, I longed for the fresh air, immaculately mowed lawns, bright sunshine, and brisk breeze of Orange County, which I had left behind only an hour before. But it was already gone - a brief, nostalgic remembrance in a mind trained by years of effort to concentrate on the six months of toil that lay ahead. Six months of unending work, intolerable assignments, and enough bullshit to drown a hundred people in a tidal wave of pointless excursions. The escalator moved unrelentlessly upwards. I was wedged between suitcases and two large, immobile women. I breathed deeply again. "Yeah! That's it! Berkeley. I love the smell of shit in the morning!" (By the way, did you know they are re-releasing Apocalypse Now?) Without another thought, I grabbed my suitcase and stepped off the escalator with a purposeful step, into the compost heap whirlpool designed to destroy me.

Hours before, I had been sitting around my home, doing absolutely nothing and enjoying every moment of it. Maybe it was because I had not been home in eight months or because the last semester was taxing, but I really enjoyed my brief stay at home this Winter Break. I caught up with a lot of old friends I had not seen in a long time, rested, relaxed, ate, slept, and watched TV - all activities which were painfully lacking while at Berkeley. I even managed to get in a few movies, all of which I enjoyed. Three that stand out are The Last Samurai, The Italian Job, and Pirates of the Caribbean. I remember seeing an ad for The Last Samurai back in October and scoffing at the merits of Tom Cruise as a "samurai" but I'll be the first to admit that I was wrong. The movie was not perfect, but it was definitely entertaining - worth the $7 at a movie theater. I also really enjoyed The Italian Job, which I rented last week, for it's fast-paced direction, technical gadgets, and of course, for the happy ending. It was a fun movie to watch and so what if it was predictable. Not all movies have to be dark, epic, indie films about horrible, taboo subjects. Pirates was entertaining, but it was about 40 minutes too long and kind of cheesy in that Disney sort of way. It was a decent film, but perhaps not deserving of all the great reviews it got.

All the merriment of break was over now though. The sickly sweet, pungent odor of marijuana, incense, and trash assaulted my senses as I walked back to Unit 3 from the BART station, consuming my thoughts. I had been away too long. I had grown accustomed to the smell of normal air and now my nose was rebelling against the toxic smells. While deep in thought about how much this place smelled, a bum (who else could it possibly be) came up to me and asked me "Got any change?" three times in rapid succession. He was clearly crazy but all I could think was, "ASSHOLE! Made me lose my train of thought!" Albeit, it was inconsequential thoughts about how downtown Berkeley smells awful, but still! He had absolutely no right to interrupt me like that! What the HELL! Can't I even THINK in peace anymore? I replied, "For you, no."

Coming back to the dorms, I was confronted by more foreign odors, ranging from a burnt smell coming from the lobby to a musty smell on my floor, no doubt a result of the dorms being closed up for a month. But I've already adjusted to the smells by now. I'm once again in the dorms, virtually alone (a common theme in the last year), and with nothing to do. I suppose I'm still on "vacation" for the entire next week but it's not the same here. Oh well, at least I still have my ER, X-Files, and West Wing DVDs to keep me company. Maybe I'll just buy my textbooks and read ahead ... Dammit! Someone save me! Where are all my so-called friends in my time of need? Would you let me do something so wreckless and stupid? I hope not. I'm counting on you! You better not let me down!


Fuck your friends! You don't even have any goddamn friends you loser! "Oh, oh, Berkeley smells bad! Not like the sweet perfume of Richlandia where I come from! How I long for the orange blossoms and jasmine I once knew!" THIS IS WHY YOU DON'T HAVE ANY FRIENDS: BECAUSE YOU THINK LAME THINGS LIKE THIS AND EVERYONE KNOWS IT. I would bite you a THOUSAND TIMES to impress that upon you. You are a loser. Good luck living the rest of your life. Loserface.

Ok so that was a bit hasty perhaps... you're not a total loser, and I'm not looking to start some kind of war here. I would only ever bite people that I really like, so take it as a compliment. I'm just trying to help liven things up, like you asked!

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