kaluha cake.

i got paid today. that makes up for my non-refundable enrollment fee, i guess. take that, mrs. fortune. actually, yolo high school, another continuation school wanted to interview me today. i don't know why i turned in the application. i really can't be a teacher this year. i'll just have to tell them that.

today felt productive. i helped my mom clean out the kitchen cabinets. we got rid of all these dishes, mugs, and other miscellaneous items. is that how you spell it? i've been using misc. so long i forgot. it always feels really good getting rid of crap, straightening things out. what does that say about what kind of work i'd be best suited for? garbage man? executioner?

i started my lasagna garden today. it felt good, to actually be outside, feeling like i'm doing something. all i did was lay down wet newspaper, but that's how you have to start. then i pulled the grass clippings from our yard waste bin and put it down as the second layer. i wonder how my dad's gonna feel about that. he can't be too upset, though, especially if i mow the lawn tomorrow evening to add to the layer. maybe i'll just be a full-time gardener. i think i really could not work anymore, if only we had some goddamn socialized healthcare. maybe all the exercise and being outside will help my immune system, though.

one thing annoying about living at home again, though, is mom's demands. she's already barking at me to wash my car, clean the bathroom, etc. i've got to earn my keep.

tomorrow's supposed to be 103 degrees. wonderful.
the perks of unemployment.

i'm glad i've got all this free time on my hands. my mom and i talked about me not knowing what i'm supposed to be doing. she's all for me being unemployed. "dad was out of work for five years, so it doesn't really matter. we still made it." we talked about a lot of things tonight, most of which centered around work. she told me about how she worked at a hospital in woodland for a week. on her first day, an airplane crashed, and a farmer was wheeled in, "half his bones hanging out." she couldn't work there anymore, not because of the nearly dead farmer, but because it was too far, and she didn't own a car.

"there was no public transportation at that time," she said. "uncle nanding would drive me out there in the middle of winter, and there was too much fog. and i felt bad for him because he didn't have to be at work until 8. i had to be there at 6:45. and then i'd get off at 3 o'clock, but i'd have to wait until 5 for him to pick me up. i told them at the end of the week that it wasn't going to work out."

my mom didn't own a car until her late twenties. she bought a volkswagon rabbit from a dealer in sacramento.

"when i was working at mercy downtown, i'd always park across the street so i could see my car. i was so naive at the time," she said, "because i read in a manual that the car had to be parked in a garage or else it would rust. and all the doctors and nurses laughed at me when i said that. but anyway, i would park across the street and i would always look at it every couple of hours, and my patients would ask, 'is it still there?'"

"were you worried that it would get stolen?" i asked.

"no," she said. "i was just amazed that i had a car."
so much shit.

I'm currently looking for a job. I'm nearly convinced that there's nothing out there I would sincerely enjoy. If I'm lucky, I might find something I can tolerate. Why do so many useless jobs exist? So many unnecessary non-profits all over. So many vague job descriptions. So much shit to sift through.
step aside.


I've decided that I'm going to start a garden. A lasagna garden to be more exact. I don't really have a clue what I'm doing, but I have read a little bit of Lasagna Garden, and I'm hoping that it will turn out alright. Most likely it will be just a big mess of garbage by my parents' window, but at least I'll have tried to succeed at something.

I sold books back to Time Tested Books yesterday in the 106 degree heat. The old man took only a handful, saying that some of the books were "underlined, highlighted, or just in bad shape." Or he just "didn't have any use for them." How do you not have use for mint paperbacks like To The Lighthouse or newer, literary extravaganzas like The Devil Wears Prada? No hard feelings, though. I made ten bucks out of it, and donated the rest to the library.

I got my cousin Rich excited about the library again. Once he realized they carried indie music (Xiu Xiu, Smoosh, Mates of State, Cursive, etc.), he went nuts and checked out a dozen discs or so. We went to his house to rip them on his computer right away, but he found his Windows Media Player wasn't working. It reminded me of times my computer would crap out on me in college, and I'd wake up with a sick feeling knowing I had to fix it somehow. I usually just ended up reformatting the entire drive. I should've been a computer engineer.

I've applied for a library technical assistant position through the state, and an on-call library assistant position through the library system. I really think I'd like to work there. I decided I didn't want to do subbing after I thought about waking up again before 8 a.m. to face a room full of unmotivated, near-comatose beings. Teaching just doesn't feel right.

Yesterday, Rich, Byron and I played Bust-A-Move on his Playstation 3. All I could think of was what Meagan said as we stood in line in the disgusting heat, waiting for cheap ice cream from Leatherby's: "This is a sign that people no longer know what to do with themselves."
alone again, naturally.

i don't think it's really sunk in until recently, but now that meagan's left for seattle, it's written all over. i'm really 1) unemployed 2) living with my parents. and to top if all off, i was served with jury duty yesterday. what the fuck, state of california? could you choose a worse time?

i really don't know where to begin as far as this blog entry is concerned. i feel like a category 5 shitstorm has just hit me. i know it's really not that bad, that i just need to adapt. but meagan and i haven't been apart for more than a couple of weeks. 3 weeks is the longest, i think, when i went to louisiana. dark and difficult times lie ahead, harry.

a few days ago we went and visited my friend dong and his girlfriend jean at dong's parents' house. dong said that he never takes jean anywhere in sacramento. "we come here, and that's it" he said. i remember having that feeling that i was "above" this town. there really is nothing to do here, except shop. i was reading through an old adbusters issue that talked about how our society has purposefully made us feel bored any time we're not shopping or getting mindfucked by the media. it's completely true. but now i feel bored all the time, and ill whenever i end up buying something. fucking adbusters.

the best i can hope for now is a state job. how fucked is that? what else is an english major who can't teach gonna do? i just want to save money, plan my next escape. hopefully next time, it's permanent.

my parents scare me. they worked hard, and they love their tv. we do occasionally sit around and talk about important things, but for the most part, the tv steals the show. i wish that we would get rid of all of them and find out how else we might be able to entertain ourselves.

i'm thinking about spending my time working in the backyard. i want to learn how to start a garden. i'm going to remove all the rocks. i'm hoping it will be therapeutic.

that's it for now. i probably shouldn't blog again until i actually have something going on in life. we'll see.

melodee, can you cover room 13?

so, as some of you already know, i've quit my first "real" job. i was an english teacher at mather youth academy for one whole week. and for that whole week, last week, i was a completely different, unhappy person. i couldn't register anything my girlfriend was saying. i couldn't understand what was happening in the movie becoming jane. every morning, i woke up with a queasy stomach, and everyday was like high school all over again, where i was just expecting something awful to happen.

the staff was cool, i won't lie about that. mr. rosas is a very upstanding, moral, and supportive human being. the teachers were very supportive, too, and they're able to do something i was and probably never will be able to do. they can keep their cool. they can emotionally detach themselves from work, and they're able to shake off all the negative, hateful energy they accumulate throughout the day.

needless to say, the kids won. they got under my skin. i approached mr. rosas on friday afternoon during my prep/lunch period to tell him something was on my mind. i didn't intend to quit. we just talked. some of the things i remembered him saying were, "life's too short to be doing something you don't want to do," and "just because i took a chance on you doesn't mean that you should feel guilty if this doesn't work out," and "god will never give you a cross that you can't bear." he tried to make light of the situation, completely aware that i was having a mini nervous breakdown. i was a little recharged. i didn't have my 8th graders that day, so i was feeling alright.

then my 10th-12th class came around, and it really wasn't so bad. mr. rosas showed up and the class was quiet, attentive.

then the ninth graders showed up. half the class was new, and they were fucking animals. no other way of putting it. i just tried to get them to listen to aesop rock's song, "no regrets" so that we could discuss the theme and lyrics, and i couldn't get through it. cadet brown, a large black boy, and cadet powell, a slender black girl, started going at it. "nigger"-this, "bitch"-that, "fuck," blah blah blah. i sent them out, and they were still cursing each other as they walked to the door, staring each other down, ready to slit each other's throats. the class was in an uproar. i killed the music, and told them to journal for the rest of the class period. nobody listened. "man, you bug me. where's mr. nichols?" james liddle, the little white trash-white supremacist asked. "just journal," i said. "that's all you have to do." pretty soon, kids were out of their seats, talking, doing whatever the fuck they wanted. i sat at my desk and just watched them. i wanted to kill them. each and everyone of them deserved to die.

i must've had pure hatred in my eyes because cadet miles looked at me. he was the only one who looked at me, and i'll never forget that stupid look in his eyes. it was a look that said, here's another person who's given up on me. i watched the clock dwindle down. i still had a fucking reading period to get through. i decided this shit wasn't for me.

mr. rosas showed up at the end of fifth period, just as my reading period started showing up. "can i talk to you for a minute, mr. tan?" "sure," i said, and walked outside. "things get any better?" he asked. i shook my head, no. i couldn't talk because i was about to break down, and i didn't want to cry in front of any stupid cadets walking to their classes. "it got worse?" he asked. i nodded, yes. "is there anything i can do? anything you want me to do?" he asked. and, like a baby--i felt a lot like sam weir in an episode of freaks & geeks--i asked, meekly, "can i just go home?" he said that i could and i walked away as quickly as possible, holding back frustrated tears, feelings of failure.

i didn't even bother getting my things together. i just wanted to leave the campus as soon as possible.

my walkie talkie started going off. "melodee, can you cover room 13?" the background muffled, the sound of disaster, the sound of things falling apart.

"copy."
student coming out. room 13.

teaching is awful. my students are much, much worse than i expected. they love, love, looooove talking about getting drunk, having sex, getting high all the time. these kids are twelve, thirteen years old. they love cursing at each other, they love saying, "faggot," "bitch," "fuck" this and that. it's a goddamn, son-of-a-bitch, motherfucking nightmare. normally, this would be okay with me because, you know, there's always one or two kids there who actually want to learn. right? wrong. nobody here wants to learn a damn thing.

all my kids wear military uniform and i can't keep a room quiet for more than three minutes. it's a complete disaster. i know i'm young, and they want to test me. they all want to see how much they can get away with, and it's really annoying. how do you tell someone that the one thing they love doing--namely, getting high--is a stupid thing to say. escaping from their shitty reality is all they have, and i'm expected to take that away from them. to tell them that it's not okay to even discuss that shit in my classroom.

so far, i've had a kid pull his eyelids to the side, you know, to make fun of asians; i've had a kid tell me he doesn't like jews; i've had a kid repeat, "sendmeoutsendmeoutsendmeout, i'mgonna keep buggin' you till you sendmeout"; i've heard the following words used by just about everyone: niggershithellfuckdamnbitchshitcockfaggotdickassdamnpussy, etc.

i made the mistake of asking kids why they're here. sometimes it's as harmless as "i missed a lot of days of school" to something as hostile as, "i brought a flamethrower to school with the intention of burning it down."

nevermind education. these kids are so far back that getting them into the army would be an accomplishment for me. getting them to do anything legal would be an accomplishment for me. meagan says i've already developed the 100 yard stare, that i look like i'm carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders.

and jesus christ, it's just my second day.
cruising.

this evening i'm waiting for meagan's arrival. i don't really know when she's coming in, so i've just started cooking rice for her anyway. it's almost 8:30. i've been reading teachers have it easy: the big sacrifices and small salaries of america's teachers, and i have to admit, i felt pretty guilty when someone wrote, "many young teachers look at teaching as a two to three year stint, similar to the peace corps, knowing that they can't actually make a living from their earnings." or something along those lines. but, yeah, that's me. i'm just being realistic. i know what i'm about to go into tomorrow will most likely be one of the most difficult things i can go into, and from a practical point of view, i have this recurring thought that there's no fucking way i can do it forever. i don't know what it is. i'd like to have a house, a family, and good health insurance one day. i don't want to have to borrow from my parents forever or have them co-sign a loan. i guess that makes me a sucker, a hackney sell-out.

whatever. i just have to go in tomorrow and see where it takes me.
the last day of freedom.

tomorrow marks the last day of freedom for me. in reality, it won't completely be "free," since i will still spend time planning my week. i'm anxious to meet the kids on monday, and i'm not really sure who or what to expect. i just have to throw myself into it and see if i'm any good. it's a weird thing, how this past year, i was able to deal individually with pretty much any kid, but i knew if i didn't know him/her in the classroom context, i couldn't talk or relate to this person in the real world. today, for example, as i was driving to the library, i saw two large teenage boys, and wondered, "who the hell has to watch these kids all day, everyday?" i'll be one of them again, soon.

i got a book called the plutonium files for meagan at the watt avenue branch. i guess it's about all these tests that the government did on people back in the day. some pretty horrible shit. injecting infants with plutonium and whatnot. it turned out that they didn't have these other two books i wanted for myself, so i drove to the rancho library to get them. i got teachers have it easy: the big sacrifices and small salaries of teachers and 11 Interviews: Kids Who Didn't Go To School and Got a Real Education (a.k.a. Teenager Liberation 2) or something like that. The clerk, a nice older woman with highlights, looked at the books, smiled, and asked, "Are you going to be a teacher yourself?" "Yes," I answered. "My first year." Her smile only grew, while I thought, "Did you even read the titles of what I'm checking out?" "Oh, congratulations," she said. "My son's girlfriend--they've been seriously dating--is trying to get a position." "Oh, what school?" I asked. "St. Francis." I nodded my head politely. "Cool." I took my books and left.

I revised my schedule for the week, knowing now what my classes will actually look like. Then, I took a break. My dad was watching some Samurai shit on the History Channel. I watched, too. Pretty boring stuff. During the commercial, my dad was impressed with a man who broke a baseball bat with one fatal blow. Then some commercial about classic horror films came on. My mom asked if dad or I had seen The Exorcist. I said yeah, the remastered version, where she does the spiderwalk down the stairs. "Ano bang 'spiderwalk?'" I demonstrated and hurt my back. "You hurt your back, didn't you?" mom asked. "Yeah," I said.

They decided to order pizza. I didn't really like the meatballs, but I ate it anyway. Then we started talking about how capitalism divides us (well, I was anyway), how and why public schools are failing, and how insurance companies are stupid and pointless.

Now they're watching an Elvis special. My dad just turned up the volume.

What a crazy world I live in.
terrific speech 2.

orientation day number 2. the superintendent delivered a speech about "never giving up" on kids, how we are the "elite" and supposedly selected from a pool of 100+ applicants. i didn't really believe the latter. i'm still trying to figure out how i beat out older, credentialed applicants with a buttload more of experience than me. i met one drill sergeant and the science teacher today. it helped settle my stomach a little, seeing that they were normal, breathing human beings, and not psychotic animals who have hard-ons for military destruction, as i had previously envisioned them. drill sergeant's advice: come in monday morning with confidence, and prove to them that you want to be there, that teaching is something you want to do, and have always wanted to do. simple enough, right? sometimes before falling asleep, i have these long speeches thought out in my head, exposing racism, homophobia, sexism for what it is. having my kids call out all the celebrities they can think of, and show them how the majority of hollywood, the majority of the media, is dominated by white men and women. how this will tie into the rest of the curriculum, i'm still not yet sure.

today was kind of pointless. they showed us how to take attendance on the computer and how to use our email system. like we've never used computers before. i got out of there around 2:30.

byron came by around five and we were bored out of our minds. he finally decided he wanted to go to dairy queen and buy a double cheeseburger and a mint flurry. i thought about how i used to be 18 and eat that kind of shit. disgusting.

then we romped around my backyard, talking about things we could possibly soup up one day. it's going to be a lot of work. our new idea is to create slideshows, ala cartoons and images, set to ambient music. i'll need a projector.

i'm clearly running out of ideas.
first day of orientation.

today, august 6, 2007, was the first day of teacher support (it was actually entitled teacher curriculum support day or something of the sort) provided by folsom cordova unified school district. it was held at the library of folsom middle school. i arrived at 7:45 am to a room full of...well, older white women. i took a seat at a table by a woman i had met at the health insurance meeting, and i sat across from one of the few men in the room. he was reading a book. i sat there for a few minutes, looking around, feeling uncomfortable the way i normally do, until my silence was too unbearable to continue. i hate moments like this. and it's an easy moment to play the race card. feel bad for me, the minority within the minority within the minority. i'm a male, i'm filipino, and best of all, i don't even have a fucking credential! who the hell do these people think they are, offering me a position in their school district?

so i started talking to this woman. same old blah blah: where'd you go to school, where'd you do your student teaching. same old responses: americorps? then the woman's friend, stephanie, arrived at the table. they get to talking and i'm stuck with the anti-social reader. we don't exchange a single word for the entire morning session.

finally, we split up into groups and i am placed in room 213 with two other women who are the only other new secondary ELA teachers. one of them, elise, soon discovers she's not in the right room and that she's actually supposed to be with the junior high group. so it's me and another youngish looking woman (i make the mistake of asking her if she had just completed student teaching last year and was given the response, "no. actually, this will be my fourth year") at the whim of our lead teacher, kelly h. when kelly h. discovers i'll be teaching grades 7-12 at mather youth academy, she seems genuinely concerned for my well-being. "oh my gosh, that's a lot of responsibility." and every time she told us how to use a section of the holt handbook, it always ended with, "but, for you, james, you're just going to have to go with whatever works."

it finally dawned on me. i'm going to be working with the worst kids in the entire district.

after a few more "lessons" on how to use the materials, she sent me upstairs to meet with the junior high group, since, you know, i am going to work with 7th and 8th as well. and so i went up to meet sarah, the ELA lead teacher for middle school, and she asked me what i'll be teaching. i told her. "wow, how's that going to work?" she asked. "i don't know," i said. this, at least, gave the group a little bit of laughter. the middle school session was pretty useless, since i arrived later, but at least i received a pacing schedule which informed me that chapter one would take at least 7 weeks to cover, and that my kids will be testing on the last week of august. that gives me a whole prep week, to, you know, design a curriculum for six grades for suspended and expelled students for an entire year. also, at one point, sarah politely added, "oh, so you'll be getting the kids janet and i kick out." i simply nodded.

i'm not quite sure what i've gotten myself into. aimee's words still ring in my head: "why is it that they always take the worst, lowest-level students and hand them over to people who have the least amount of experience?" at this point, i'm seriously considering teaching them straight out of teenager liberation handbook, convincing them to all drop out and get a "real education." but, then again, i guess i should see who i'm dealing with first.

at the end of the day, the anti-social reader, who turns out to have a master's degree, and has spent four years teaching in poland, asked me if i drove today. "yes," i said. "do you have jumper cables?" i know i didn't, but for some reason, i said, "maybe." i didn't have them. i hate privileged white men.

on the brighter side, i think that i will have something in common with my students: we've all made some bad choices. but instead of fighting and doing drugs--all the fun stuff--i joined americorps and took a job i'm not really qualified for.

i think i'm ready for them now.
baby i'm a want you.

i haven't much to report considering i didn't do jack today. i bought a brita filter for my parents so that they wouldn't keep using bottled water. yesterday, i bought tempeh, avocado and cheese to make sandwiches, and as usual, i didn't take a plastic bag. the first bagger seemed fine with it. then, another bagger came along. "paper or plastic?" he asked. "i don't need a bag," i said. "oh, you don't need one. okay." it almost felt like i was defending myself. "that's how fucking ingrained people are to being environmentally irresponsible," i told my cousin as we left the store. i hate being a hippie, obviously. but it's such a waste. 5,000 years for one bag to decompose. i think we can all do without them.

i've been making worksheets for my kids, but i feel like such a hack. i've been reading the new teacher book published by rethinkingschools.org, and one of the writers talked about how much time is wasted making kids fill out worksheets. i almost feel like i'm working against myself. i know i don't need to stick to the textbook, but i don't know if these kids will be advanced enough to just read to kill a mockingbird and discuss it at a normal high school level. i really have no clue who i'm dealing with here. unfortunately, i looked up two staff members from my new school. one was a drill sergeant, the other an instructional assistant. all i can say is, it's probably going to be a very long year.

tomorrow's the first day of orientation. please, god, no ice breakers.
none's unfair in hate and peace.

yesterday afternoon, inside a dimly lit fair game shop off fair oaks blvd., watching my older cousin scramble around looking for a silver face plate that cost $20 to put on his psp, i suddenly missed college a whole lot.

"how do you install it?" rich asked. "we can do it here," the clerk, a teenage boy, said. "but," he added, "it'll cost $20." "oh, i didn't bring it with me," rich answered. "do you have one that's already on so i can just see how to do it?" "no," the clerk said. "i don't know how to put it on." at this, another clerk, an older man, intervened. "i'll show you how," he said. "just give me a minute." then, after ringing up a customer, the older man followed through as promised. "screw here, screw there, then you flap it shut." "oh," rich said. "looks simple enough."

it turns out it wasn't. rich ended up buying mini-screwdrivers from target that cost $19.37. as the total came up, he realized the irony.

earlier yesterday, driving around, byron and i started talking about how sacramento seems to have gotten worse. much, much worse. apparently, the closest 711's have been getting robbed pretty frequently, and someone was shot and killed at the shell station right on kiefer blvd. last friday. "yeah, i know," byron said. "it's getting terrible." he seemed to think about it some more. "like, there's all these black kids playing basketball in my neighborhood." "why do you automatically assume black kids are causing all the trouble?" i asked him. "oh, i'm not. i'm just saying there's a lot of different ethnicities. it's not that's it good or bad..." his tripped over his logic. but it was a fun conversation while it lasted anyway.

today i'm making lesson plans and i don't have a damn clue about what i'm doing. so far, this is what it costs to become a credentialed california teacher:

cbest: $41
cset (single subject, english tests 1,2,3,4): $210
u.s. constitution equivalency test: $32
tb skin test: $13
project pipeline application fee: $50
project pipeline enrollment fee: $500
california commission on teacher credentialing fee: $55
livescan (fingerprinting) fee: $20
monthly deductions to pay for tuition for 20 months: $478.00 = $9560
gas driving to test sites, interviews, district office, trainings and meetings: $300+

grand total for becoming a credentialed high school english teacher in the state of california (taking the alternative, nonprofit route):
$10,781
not all who wander are lost; except for a few, including me.

here i am, wasting time as always. i have done nothing productive today other than get rid of two jackets i never wear and a polyester t-shirt. two days here and i'm already bored out of my mind. at the thrift store, a man with lots of tattoos dropped a cd holder. i picked it up. he didn't thank me for it; instead, he held out a notebook with a cd attached to it. "what's this? a game?" he asked. "yeah, i think it's a game," i said. then later, he ran into me in the store again. "is there a mirror back there?" "yeah, there should be one back there," i told him. i got the thought after that that all people want some form of communication even if it's that microscopic. i feel like everyone in sacramento is really lonely and desperate. i didn't pick up on that in seattle. there, everyone felt too cool. like i had to constantly prove myself to somebody if i wanted to hang out with him/her. watsonville actually felt like community. everyone there wanted to feed me, not kill me.

i really dislike this transition period. it's hot, i'm sweaty, and it makes me never want to leave the house. which should be a good thing because i should be planning lessons and whatnot, but instead i've just been reading the new teacher book aimee let me borrow. it's got good information and will probably keep me from losing it altogether. i also thought about signing up for a creative writing class at a community college. i think that'll help me keep it together.
sam has been in the backyard for a while. i think he's trying to get chance to fall asleep. dumb dogs.