the lead singer for bloc party is black.

well, i was going to post a really angry rant again, since i received another rejection letter in the mail. i don't know why california state library, the sacramento county of education, and all these other stupid places have to send mail out. i have a perfectly good email account, and an active cell phone. a simple "you didn't get the job" on the phone or by email would make me feel a lot better, as opposed to wasted paper informing me of my inadequacy. fucking wankers.

yeah, i was going to title today's entry "i'm so depressed i could go for a big mac," but i knew there had to be something good today. and there was. my education award finally went through, and so now my grand total for student loans is: $6,939.59. i plan to repay it over the course of the next 30 years of my life.

last night, rich and i talked about how all the artists in our cd collections, with the exclusion of rap, are predominantly whiteys. the only exceptions were boris and mono (both are japanese). i've thought about this before, and how it makes it really difficult to set any creative goals when there are so few filipino (or any other "minority") trendsetters. my first insight into this came when peter bacho, along with some other asian american writers, talked at the richard hugo house. "when i was in school," he said, "and this is still going on - who did we study? wordsworth, shakespeare, eliot, etc. all white folks."

actually, my realization came earlier than that. in african american lit, dr. smith once asked, "how many african american writers can you name?" one of the few african american students raised his hand. "richard wright, james baldwin, olaudah equiano, toni cade bambara..." dr. smith cut him off. "okay, okay. but you're the exception." she then addressed the rest of us: "how many of you can name more, or have heard of any of the writers he's just mentioned?" none of us raised our hands. she gave her usual smirk, the one that says, no comment.

i googled filipino indie rock and almost, for a split second, almost-but-not-quite, second-guessed myself about a racist music industry, just because the samples i played were so terrible. see for yourself:

indie flip

but i know there's still truth to it. it's just your typical craigslist post. music industry seeks hottest, youngest new indie rock band. you - preferably in your 20's, caucasian, no drugs, no drama. you have to be really, really fucking good if you're anything but.
instead i sat in the car and read a map and
spelled out entire sentences with my tongue
on the roof of my mouth where nobody could read them.

another unproductive day that leaves a bad taste. i requested nearly twenty movies from the library. i watched badlands and black narcissus. i deleted all my facebook information, but lacked the will to delete the account entirely. i know that if i did, i would just reactivate once this life picked up again. i emailed random people on craigslist, telling people that their taste in music was terrible, or that they shouldn't shop at wal-mart, just to see if i could get a response. so far, none yet. i read some of kim stafford's the muses among us, and i temporarily remembered why writing mattered. kim stafford once spoke at seattle university, and i was lucky enough to see him. it was one of those things that was so good, i couldn't talk about it. whitney summed it up best when he nodded and said, "sometimes you just gotta know when to throw down." that's the only way to describe kim stafford's performance. in the book, he quotes wordsworth who once said, "the most evocative poetry will be spoken by common people in moments of deep feeling." i'll have to try and remember that whenever i beat myself up over my inability to prepare a decent portfolio for an mfa.

monday through friday, my dad goes to work at uc davis, cleaning classrooms, waxing down halls. he carpools with my uncle mike and another guy named angel. angel never knocks or even honks the horn. my dad just takes his sweet ass time, and comes out when he feels like it. sometimes i catch angel sitting next to the garage and smoking a cigarette. when he greets me, it doesn't sound like an english "hello." it's more like a blend between a tagalog "hoy" and an english "hi," but it sounds mumbled. he reminds me a lot of pagoda. i've often thought about joining them, just to see how lazy my dad claims he gets to be. they leave at 4, arrive at 5, then don't start work 'til 7. he gets a fifteen, then a lunch break at 9, then they wrap up around 11 if they're good, midnight if they're not, but either way, they don't leave until 1. an 8 hour day, but, performed with skill, becomes 3-4 hours at the most. when he walks out the door, sometimes he says, "adios," and other times he says nothing. today, he almost forgot his backpack. he grinned, but didn't say anything. once, i looked in his backpack. he had his lunch, an extra shirt, a beatles book, and the sacramento bee. i don't know why i looked in there. i don't know what i expected to find.

my dad owns a gun. he used to keep it in his closet underneath all his sweaters, but it wasn't there the last time i checked. he never uses it, but still, he keeps it loaded. it earned him a criminal record back in the 70's. "shooting at the moon," my mom likes to call it. some guys were harassing uncle mike back then, so my dad, trying to protect "rep," drew the gun, and fired a couple of rounds into the air. no one was hurt.

this isn't really what i wanted to write about. i don't know why i never edit these entries. i just put down whatever and then click "publish post." things are less complicated that way.

yesterday, walking back from rich's house, a girl wearing a nightmare before christmas t-shirt was walking in the opposite direction. i wanted to say, "cool shirt," or something equally lame, but i held back. it reminded me of the time dave from the zine on subbing wanted to hum a propagandi (or some other terrible punk band) song when he saw some kid wearing the band's shirt. he didn't do it, either.

there was a point in time when a less cynical, less disillusioned, idealistic me would say anything to just about anyone. i summon that power from time to time, but lately, it ain't easy.
these days i seem to think a lot
about all the things i forgot to do.

based on toby's recommendation, i went and saw lars and the real girl with my mom. i remember seeing the preview for it a few weeks back, thinking, this movie will never work. it's got a really stupid premise. this guy, lars, deludes himself into thinking that this life-sized doll (bianca) that he ordered off the internet is real. and to help get him through this temporary "illness," the town has to play along with it. sounds dumb, right? really, really dumb, and it wouldn't work in a million years? well, it did. i don't know how, but the movie was seriously the best damn thing i've seen all year.

i probably am a little biased, though, since i had already warmed up with some pre-sadness. i already felt embarrassed asking for a free popcorn with my student id (mondays are "student mondays" at the tower theater - free, unlimited popcorn and $6.50 admission), since my id clearly says "seattle university" across the top part, and i clearly don't go to school there anymore, since i show up at the tower theater almost every other monday. and since my mom and i got there really early (20 minutes before showtime), i had a lot of time to think. it went a little something like this: damn. i'm really at the movies with my mom. and it's not the "i'm in town just for the weekend - let's catch a flick" kind of rendezvous. what happened to having regular friends, hanging out with people my own age?

i tried to suppress the questioning with a game of snowball fight on my cell phone. basically, you throw snowballs at these two guys, and then the levels get harder. in addition to the two guys, a penguin shows up, and then it's a polar bear. it gets really difficult. i haven't gotten past the polar bear.

and then the movie played and i got choked up at almost every scene. but especially when they go bowling.

there was really great thunder and lightning today. the sky looked really fucked up and around six, everything was lit up red. if i had a camera, i would've taken some pictures. i got six movies from the library and watched rosemary's baby at home. i expected more out of it. i still think the omen is way better.

rich and i are supposed to watch 28 weeks later tonight.

all of this can't be any good for my eyes.
i haven't seen him in, like, eight years.

i didn't go to my cousin's son's 1st birthday today. i felt like sleeping in, even though my parents didn't leave until 11. so i slept until 1:30-ish, and probably could've gone longer if i had turned my phone off. i watched the simpsons' treehouse of horror marathon. i always looked forward to it when i was younger. i was even hoping it would lead to a new treehouse of horror episode tonight, but i think the world series preempted it.

i really liked halloween at one point. the first costume i really remember is the one i had in kindergarten. it was a glow-in-the-dark skeleton outfit, and i even wore it to school. if i remember correctly, i had the teacher turn off the lights so that i could show everyone how it glowed, but i think i didn't expose it to enough light, so it didn't work. but then again, i could just be making this up.

i carried around a large plastic pumpkin, and the night wasn't over until it was full. then my cousins (i really only remember trick-or-treating with claire and our adopted cousin, grace) and i would regroup at my house and dump our earnings all over the carpeted floor.

one time, someone suggested we go to the rich neighborhood (the fabulous 50's downtown) so that we could get better candy. it worked. i remember getting the full-sized bars, and plenty of them. on this same occasion, my adopted cousin grace wet herself in the street. i don't remember the incident, but my aunt likes to mockingly recount my version of the story that i once told. confusing, i know. anyway, it goes something like this: "one time, grace went into the middle of the street, and she went pee-pee all over herself." ate, my aunt, tells this to me, usually in the company of others, in a sheepish, girly baby-talk that once served as my own voice.

on another trick-or-treating misadventure, we went to a house on my street. the tenant had really gone above and beyond what the holiday required. she had somehow hooked up her doorbell to a giant vacuum cleaner, and the thing roared when we pressed the button. it lit up green, and a white sheet hovered over it, ghost-like. the old witch creeped up to the door, and we could see her through the front window. grace ran away. i think the woman felt bad because she broke character and shouted, "where are you going? i've got candy!" to which grace replied, "i don't want any candy, lady!"

i think at 13 or 14, i stopped trick-or-treating. i remember the night, too. i put on a red raggedy ann wig, and i knew it was over. i was too old to be dressing up, and it was just a sad moment. on halloween nights after that, i would rent a bunch of horror films and watch them in my room by myself. every now and then, i'd relieve my mom by opening the door and giving out candy to the hopeful, polite children of our neighborhood.

jump back in time. i remember in 2nd or 3rd grade, the 8th graders would create a haunted house in the rec room for us younger ones. i never went in. i didn't like to get scared, and i didn't really see the point if there wasn't going to be any candy. i think it must've been 2nd grade. i stood outside the rec room with the tomboyish kendall and alicia. alicia looked really afraid to go in, but i think kendall just stood out there with her for moral support. i stood there, too, probably just an early, skeptical version of the person i would later become.

8th grade halloween party. again, i didn't dress up. instead, i just wore all black, and i painted my face white. it was a dance party, and, of course, i didn't do any dancing. the one thing i do remember is when the dj played "bullet with butterfly wings" and warned us, "no moshing." so all the tools who claimed that rock music sucked and rap music was cool (yes, this was a major controversial issue that served as the basis for most of my junior high school conversations) got up on the dance floor, despite their convictions, and jumped around with a handful of the "rocker" girls in class. i was disgusted. i couldn't stand watching such a great song being ruined by a bunch of assholes that i was forced to see everyday. i went into the bathroom and washed the paint off my face. it didn't really come off completely, so i grabbed a handtowel, and completely ruined it. i'm sure mrs. troughton was pissed on all souls day.

the last halloween party i had was with my first americorps group. ross, naomi, melissa, francesca, francesca's friend, adam, adam's wife, emily and john came over. i started early with it's the great pumpkin, charlie brown and then went into a nightmare on elm street and friday the 13th, which almost all of them hadn't seen yet. i couldn't believe it. ross asked, "how have you seen all these horror flicks already?" i told him about my high school tradition. at one point, he said he wanted to watch the entire nightmare on elm street series. i'm sad to say we never got around to it.

this year i think i'll bring the tradition back. i'm thinking about the saw series and maybe hostel and hostel 2.

we used to have a motion-sensor pumpkin that would blink and say, "happy halloween," and then it would give a long, creepy laugh. there was also the option to just have it light up for times when we got annoyed with the laugh. it never really scared anyone, i don't think. i used to put up fake cobwebs, too. i'd try and make pieces of it stretch for as long as i could, until it would break and float in the breeze. sometimes it attracted bits of leaves and real insects. sometimes i couldn't differentiate between the stretchy cotton and the real thing.

fake blood was good, too. i'd just put little droplets of it in the doorway and then spray it down with the hose the next morning.

a lot of people hate it's the great pumpkin, charlie brown and i don't know why. i guess it is a stupid cartoon. i like though, that linus is so determined that he falls asleep outside. and then lucy has to wake up in the middle of the night to retrieve him. the best part is how tired and frustrated he looks when she plops him down on his bed.

i'll probably have that same look on wednesday.
down in the dumps.

once, in the sixth grade, i think, i didn't do so well on a math quiz. and by not doing "well," i mean i got a c. paul, this portugese jock with wavy hair and dimples, informed me, "man, you're down in the dumps." and another time, when i got first honors instead of high honors, my teacher, mrs. ogan asked me if everything was alright at home. "yeah, it's fine," i told her, and walked away. but before i could move two steps, she grabbed me by my red sweatshirt. "are you sure?" she asked, accusingly. she had a look in her eyes, disappointment or worry, i couldn't tell. i nodded, scared shitless. no teacher had ever touched me before. i was pretty sure they weren't supposed to. it happened at the back of the room, so no one really saw it. my memory isn't so good. sometimes i remember things from another perspective. maybe it happened to another kid.

other out-of-body, vague memories: age 3 or 4, my dad closing my door, telling me goodnight, but it must've been a dream, since i wasn't sleeping by myself yet. age 2 or 3, on an airplane to the philippines, me yelling at my dad for him to wake up, and he doesn't, at least not for a while. age 5, this second grader throwing me up against a fence. we were playing a game, but i told everyone he bullied me.

in kindergarten, i had this yellow lunch box with animals on it - a giraffe, a monkey, an elephant, and some others. thayne, a piece of shit nobody two grades ahead of me, walked right up to me, and said i shouldn't have that lunchbox because it was a "baby's lunchbox." even then, i knew i wasn't supposed to listen to such trite nonsense, but i did. i told my mom i just wanted a plain lunchbox. later, the same thayne gunther would go on to steal my self-titled rage against the machine cd at joseph's 12th or 13th birthday party.

i was pretty much left alone until high school. during my first theology class freshman year, this kid named dax, the epitome of a misogynistic, homophobic excuse for a jesuit jock, just started kicking me. he was sitting in front of me, and for some reason, he turned around and started kicking my leg, harder and harder each time. he looked over at another douchebag in class, and said, "look, i can just keep hitting him and he won't do anything." i guess i just expected our white teacher to notice that one of his students was being physically assaulted, or for dax to stop at some point, but when he didn't, i kicked him back. i guess it's what he wanted because he finally let up. this blonde-haired sorry excuse for a human being also picked on other minorities, including a soft-spoken thai-american kid named kevin.

another day, we had to play rugby during p.e. i got taken down hard a few times, but i didn't really care. i had no interest in playing a game i knew only white people played. but something must've happened. maybe it was all the shit-talking, or maybe i finally saw an opportunity to do what bill murray advised "the rest of us" to do in rushmore: "take dead aim at the rich kids. get them in the cross-hairs, and take them down." i pretty much snapped and felt a shot of adrenaline. i took travis ryan down, and then another. and then another. i was ready to die on the field that day.

coach hastie spat sunflower seeds all over some kid's bmw. i guess he knew the kid, and he didn't like him much.

the only thing i really learned in my four years of high school was passive-agression; to repress everything, and to let it all out in a destructive and hateful manner.

when i was a sophomore, columbine happened. it was april 20th, and i was giving a report in my english class about terrorism and violence in general. one classmate asked what "ATF" stood for. before i could answer, another student called out, "alcohol, tobacco and firearms." mrs. ellis interrupted him, "give him a chance to answer!" i answered, "alcohol, tobacco and firearms." when i got home, my mom was watching a handful of students on the tv screen, and all of them were crouching with their hands on their heads. she told me what had happened, but i couldn't say i was surprised. i was only surprised that it hadn't happened at our school yet.

i really felt no sense of brotherhood, or belonging, that others spoke/speak about. i did go on kairos (senior retreat), and temporarily deluded myself into thinking that this small group of boys who i hadn't spoken to for four years were going to be my brothers. had i never read catcher in the rye and come across the word "phony," things might've been different.

i still don't speak to anyone from high school, except for dong bui on occassion. dong was a pothead who eventually had to quit when his lung collapsed a few years back. he and i bonded, and still bond, over the common belief that our parents were duped into dumping money into a sexually repressed, hate-making, racist institution. he says he would love to teach at jesuit one day.

as for me, i've learned that i need to lighten up on the cynicism. i need to go into something, and not keep one foot out the door. it's tough though, you know, being down in the dumps.
bags and bags of lemons.

in a desperate attempt to get something started, i began looking around at graduate schools again. there's this thing, apparently, called a post-baccalaureate pre-med program (pbpm) for people like me who studied something they're not entirely crazy about. basically, it's for college grads who want to study medicine, but didn't write down "pre-med" on choose a major day. a lot of schools have them - even seattle university. being financially irresponsible, i'll probably apply to a few. i applied to a master's in composition program at sfsu, though, just for a little insurance. i might still work on the msw at the uw, too. if life was a baseball game, some might say i'm desperately trying to get a rally going. anything is better than staring at the wall and realizing an hour has passed.

i was going to apply to barnes and noble and borders today, but i couldn't bring myself to do it.

my mom's been harvesting lemons from the lemon tree. there are too many of them.
...and i see nothing worth liking.

the results are in. i failed the oral examination, so no on-call secretary job for me.

i watched thank you for smoking. my favorite line: "if you want an easy job, go work for the red cross."

and now, an excerpt from franny and zooey (pgs. 25):
"I don't mean there's anything horrible about him or anything like that. It's just that for four solid years I've kept seeing Wally Campbells wherever I go. I know when they're going to be charming, I know when they're going to start telling you some really nasty gossip about some girl that lives in your dorm, I know when they're going to ask me what I did over the summer, I know when they're going to pull up a chair and straddle it backward and start bragging in a terrible, terrible quiet voice--or name-dropping in a terrible quiet, casual voice."

i'm doubting my interviewing skills. this morning didn't go so well. how am i supposed to find work when i have no experience because no one is willing to hire me because i have no experience?

"it's a catch-22."
"what's that? what the fuck's a 'catch-22'?"
"think about it."
"you know what i'm thinking about, man?"
you blew it, boy. you really blew it.

well, there went another interview. a black man, a black woman, and a white woman interviewed me all at once. they asked the usual questions about my qualifications, my experience, and, as expected, i was a horrible liar. words like, "inexperienced" and "a need for supervision" flew out of my mouth. just about everything you're not supposed to say in an interview, i said. i'm a terrible liar, what can i say? goodbye (again) medical benefits, meager paychecks, experience writing for a newsletter. just let some overqualified, overeducated, perky white girl who frequents starbucks get it. what do i care?

i really want the library media technician through pajaro valley unified school district. i want all my brown children to line up and wait for a computer, so they can check their myspace pages when they're supposed to be typing an essay instead. they'd rather leave comments, talk, and be with their friends, friends who look like them. they're poor and so's everyone else, so what's it matter? i envy it. i know i shouldn't, and that i'm only romanticizing the poor, but i do anyway. i wish i could've gone to watsonville high. i would trade my jesuit/liberal education for real friends, a real sense of community any day.
it's no good, it's no good.

the "last" job interview tomorrow. something better happen. it's for a communications writer position through grant union high school district, and i think it may only be part-time. but still, i'd be paid to write, and that's something i never thought possible.

sister liane wrote me today, since she heard from rachel (speculation) that i'm considering a move back to the "watson," as rachel likes to call it. liane said that she has a new americorps member joining soon, and that he would need a roommate. so i'm on deck. it'll be like season two of the o.c.

pretty boring game two of the world series. i don't know why i watch that shit. just killing time until my life gets back on track, i guess. but it was pretty funny when holliday got picked off at the top of the 8th. cocky bastard. well-deserved.

i watched the illusionist with my mom, to further my grand time-killing scheme today. i like it when even she gets angry at how stupid mainstream cinema can be. in conclusion, i wish edward norton could've made the idea for that movie disappear.

i'd like to go to critical mass tomorrow. but i might be too lazy to bike all the way down there. we'll see what happens.
stay the course.

i went to procuts for a haircut today. i hadn't been there probably in five years, but nothing had changed. the same women were still there, and they had the same posters up. terminator 2, the three stooges, george clooney, and others. there was a small american flag sticker at the bottom of the george clooney poster, and it read, "stay the course." that, i think, is the only new thing they've added to their barbershop.

before she cut my hair, i asked her if they took visa. i couldn't remember, it'd been so long.
"cash only," she said.
"oh. cash only. i'll come back."
she hesitated. "no, i cut your hair first. you come back and pay me later."
"ok," i said. i sat down.

"your day off today?" the stylist asked me.
"no. i'm not working."
silence for a while, then: "do you work around here?"
she obviously didn't hear me the first time. "no, i don't have a job."
"oh. you're in school then?"
"no, i graduated two years ago."
she cut my hair in silence.
"how long have you been here now?" i asked.
"ten years," she said.

"sideburn? or no sideburn?"
"no sideburn."

"short enough for you?"
i pinched a tuft the way i always do, then said, as i always say, "yeah, it looks good."

i asked her where the nearest atm machine is, even though i know i won't go there because of the $2 - $3 service fee non-wamu machines always charge me, a fee i will never understand.
"go past watt," she said, "then take a right at the first light."
"oh, at the schools," i said.
"no, no." she walked me outside, then pointed down the street. "go past watt first, then take a right. there's atm machine there."
"alright," i said. "thanks, i'll be back."

i drove to washington mutual on kiefer.
that was a long time ago.

man, there's nothing i hate more than waking up to empty virtual mailboxes and a lack of comments listed on anything. i would think with numerous email accounts and registration with various anti-social virtual networks (myspace + facebook), i would get a goddamn message or comment once in a while. but lately, it's been nothing but a streak of "sorry, you didn't win," or "we've decided to select another candidate for the position," or worse, spam. and then i get on aim. and underneath everyone's screenname is the generic away message: "sorry, i am away from my computer right now."

i've sent emails; i've entered contests; i've applied to a slew of jobs. what's the hold up?

on monday i checked out the taking of patty hearst, why we fight, and the big buy - all on dvd. "people used to say i looked like her when i was a teen," the clerk said. "but that was a long, long time ago." she appears to talk to herself more than the people she's helping. "these look interesting," she said. "i never hear about these things until they pass by my desk." not wanting to be rude, i joined the conversation. "i watched the first two," i said, pointing at patty and why we fight. "and they were pretty good. but i haven't seen the big guy yet." yeah, i realized later that it was big buy and not guy.

another scene, sunday, picking up vicodin and motrin for rich.

"are you dropping off or picking up?" the girl asked me.

"i'm picking up," i said.

"did the dr. call it in?" she asked.

"yes. no. i don't know," i said, flustered. i then added, "my cousin just called just ten minutes ago."

she looked perplexed. "he called this in, or his dr. did?" she asked again.

"he called." irritated, i blurted out, "i'm just here to pick up his pills."

she knew this was going nowhere, so she decided to look him up. "he's not in the system," she
informed me. "give me his name and address." i did.

as i waited for the prescription to be filled, an old man came along and chatted with the same girl for a bit. he must've been a regular, since she knew him and the wife he was talking about on a first-name basis. apparently, the girl was also married.

"i'm worried about my husband," she said. "he always lets me get what i want."

old man: "that's nothing to worry about. enjoy it while you can. it won't always be that way."

"oh no?" she asked.

"no. the wife and i get into plenty," he confessed. "but it's nothing too bad. if you can get through a little bit of that, you'll be just fine." he then added, "but really, our dog is the master of the house. she gets whatever she wants all the time."

"i believe that," the girl said.
sex trafficking is evil.

"you will pay for this. i will make sure of it."
lead me to water, lord, i sure am thirsty.

i'm too much of an alarmist. "every time we talk, it's like the end of the world," a friend tells me. i'm all talk and no action. i'm passive-agressive. i don't know what it's like to hunt for my own food, and i've never even caught a fish. for that reason, it doesn't feel like i'm in touch with humanity. if we really asked ourselves what our purpose is for being here, would we spend so much time hiding behind tv screens, ordering from the drive-thru menu? what do we lose when we simply order a pizza, instead of watching the bread rise in our own ovens? how much time are we really saving? am i halfway to crazy, or am i, as kramer once put it, "so sane that (i) just blew my mind?" it's easy for me to feel flustered, to think i've been let down. is all the questioning making me (us) sick? how did it get to the point that all our lives - you, me, and everyone we know - depended on numbers? when did someone decide that every little decision we made, from the shirts we wear to the water we drink, would be determined by a figure with a dollar sign preceding it? if life is all about the journey, and not the destination, then why do we microwave our food, myspace message our friends? how much time are we really saving? if children grew up without schools, would things be any better? how much did school play a role in breaking down our spirits?

i remember when miss crawley, kindergarten teacher, love of my five/six-year-old life, defended me, and took my only pink slip to the office herself. i didn't throw sticks at girls. not yet anyway. she believed in me. and her outrage was my victory. it was the first (the only?) time someone stuck up for me. and then i had to ruin it. later on in the year, i threw dirt and sticks at girls. peer pressure. i wanted their attention. i didn't want to be "good." i wanted someone to like me. i confessed. everyone was surprised i admitted it. life hasn't been the same since.

i've heard from multiple sources that life and all of existence is just one moment. time, obviously, is a man-made contraption, so this could be the real deal. "it's all happening." right now. i'm throwing sticks, and i'm holding back. right now i'm doing everything i can and nothing at all. it makes a lot of sense when i don't think about it too much.

when i used to work at tower records, i usually stood by the register all day because i was too lazy to tag product or put cds where they belonged. so i'd ring people's purchases up. whenever there was a pretty girl in line, i'd either stall my customer by taking forever with the yellow plastic bags, or else i'd slowly swipe their cds, demagnetizing the security tags. either that, or i'd hurry up the transaction, depending on where she was in line. i wasn't the only one who would do this. all the other lonely, desperate geeks with massive record collections - those of us who spent more time browsing through music, rather than learning how to socialize - would do the same. our ploy rarely ever worked. all the girls would go to david fixx, a clean-cut and sensitive pot-smoker, for help. we always resented him for that.
go with yourself.

i had to take a break from watching movies. today: match point, an inconvenient truth, and the motorcycle diaries. the first surprisingly good; the second evoked unpleasant memories of 7th/8th grade science class; the third i'd already seen, so didn't finish.

remember that time fiona apple made that grammy speech and kept yelling, "go with yourself!" and no one knew what the fuck she was talking about? she should've ended with, "you feel me?" and then she might've gotten some street cred.

back in august, my mom asked me to measure the windows in my room, so that we can replace the blinds. i haven't gotten around to it yet.

i was going to make a list of people i wanted to be, like, "i want to be john lennon. i want to write a song that repeats the iambic pentameter, "all we are saying/is give peace a chance." but that would be a really lame list. and then i was going to end it with, "i want to be myself. i want to know what that would be like." what a terrible, cliched ending.

i think i could write, though. when i really put some effort to something, it's never really as bad as i imagine it could be.

sometimes i talk to people for a long time, like we're almost gonna be friends. and then i never hear from them again. i was going to make a list of people who've let me down. in fact, i already typed it, then deleted it, because it would be pointless to just name names. i'll save those stories for a future entry.

add it to the list of things i would've done differently tonight.
gentle girls.

tres bizarre dream last night. one where melissa joan hart, jamie lee curtis, and amanda bynes start this rock band. or at least people who look like them. they tour the country, and they're a folk/punk trio. i realize it's not real, but i write a concert review for them on pitchfork anyway, but i know that i'm dreaming. but still, even though it's a phony, i think it has a chance of getting published, so i think i'm awake, and i begin writing the review, based on the review that i've already dreamed up on my computer screen. i try to take a few notes, but i'm kind of waking up. i say to myself, "i'm not that asleep. this could be real," and i think that i can just copy and paste this fake review that i'm half asleep, dreaming about. it doesn't work. anyway, all of a sudden, this concert, which i've already written about, somehow becomes a reality, and gathers a large group of people. so i'm at the concert, near the front row, and there's no band. instead, everything transforms into a scene from our lady of fatima. a powerful voice thunders overhead, and says, "kneel, and wish for whatever you please." i'm skeptical, and can't think of anything i really want, so i think, i'd like a new set of teeth because i'm tired of having these two brackets at the back of my mouth. it's a wasteful wish, i know, but remember, i'm going under the assumption that it won't come true. a minute or so passed, and all of a sudden, my teeth are all loose, and i begin pulling them out, one by one, including the back teeth with the brackets. i look behind me, and there are cars, jewelry, gold, riches, and decadent food flooding the aisles. all the bald men now have hair. everyone's laughing, crying, hugging each other. then everyone, including myself, kneels again and begins praying. a man yells, "this is the lord! he's granted us everything we wished for! he's the messiah!" and as soon as he yells that, everything is gone, back to the way it was. i tongue the brackets at the back of my mouth. the voice thunders again: "i've let you glimpse the way things could be. so why are you doing nothing to fulfill your dreams?" the crowd begins to weep, for the day of reckoning is upon us.

i won't analyze that too much. i think it speaks for itself.

i sat in the hospital for the uc davis med center yesterday, waiting for rich, who had "tweaked" his ankle. not a sprain, not a fracture. "tweaked." but he still got x-rayed, and got crutches, which my doctor didn't think to get for me when i completely sprained my ankle a few years back. foolish health care system. it really was talking about hard times at the hospital, as this one overweight woman kept falling asleep in her chair, spilling her neon green liquid (limeaid, perhaps) all over the floor in front of her. it was just a little spill at first, then she'd wake and say, "what the fuck is wrong with me?" when she spilled the second time, i went to the restroom to get her some paper towels. she mumbled a thank you and mentioned something about her sore arm. she fell asleep a third time, and down came the whole cup. i notified a security guard to call a janitor to clean up the mess. he did. the embarrassed sleepy woman told the janitor that there was a hole in the bottom of the cup, and that's why she spilled all of it. as she walked away, i asked rich, "why did she have to lie about it?" "i don't know," he said, "i guess she just didn't want anyone to know she was falling asleep."

an overweight man dropped some change by the snack machine. he bent over to pick up his nickel, but couldn't do it. he was too big. a pitiful sight. i almost got up, but the janitor was closer. he helped him. a young black woman kept crying. the old woman sitting in our row looked defeated, like she or her husband had something serious. a young latina hipster who looked like this girl julia i once had in nonfiction writing, told her aunts what was going on. i wanted to know why they were there. they had two loud boys with them, who walked circles around the chairs, one of them staring at me every time he got close.

another mexican boy and girl looked at the fish. i wanted to say, "como se dice fish en espanol?" but i didn't. it felt kind of pointless. the excited children counterbalance the elders' dejected spirits. isn't that the way it's always been?
where do you go to, my lovely?

tonight, i tried to go to this buddhist meditation spot in west sac, but all i found were a bunch of dimly lit trailer parks. fought traffic and dodged near-accidents to find inner peace. sort of a metaphor for life, i think. i feel like bill murray's character stepping out of the elevator in the hospital, that scene from rushmore. "i'm a little lonely these days." i tend to keep having the same conversations with everyone. a love/hate relationship with the world. watched die! die! my darling on tcm, commercial-free. i love commercial-free films. especially retro b-movies starring girls like stefanie powers. an old-school modern gothic tale, just the way i like them told.

i decided one minute to have nothing for dinner, then everything, including honey roasted peanuts, the next. i randomly burst out into song earlier, and for some reason it was, "where did you sleep last night?" i didn't have a guitar on me to play it, though. not that i know how, anyway. back on aim, back on craigslist with nothing to do on a friday night. there are things out there, so others say, so i say to myself sometimes. how nice it would be to not have the highs and lows all the time. who was it that said he needed that? all the time, otherwise it wasn't worth it? johnny nolan from a tree grows in brooklyn, i think, as recounted by aunt sissy, told to her sister, johnny's wife, francie and neely's mother, katie.

i had an afternoon dream that i was back at watsonville high, but i couldn't let myself go through a door. how pathetic, i thought, leaving a place and then crawling back to it. and then rachel showed up, but she had long, black hair. she told me paul, the after-school director, killed himself. i had no idea who she was talking about, and i don't think she did, either, but she was crying. i woke up to my dad blending fruits to make a smoothie, his daily ritual.

after die! die! my darling, i got the mail. one of my highlights of the day. and any time there's a piece for me, double the pleasure. double the fun. a letter from grant joint union high school district wishing for me to interview for a communications writer position. basically, writing, editing, and publishing a newsletter for the entire school district. lord, how i want it. now, about the third part of the secretary test. four old women, one looking harsher and stricter than the next, "quizzed" me. i, as usual, was unprepared and made some bullshit statements, as i'm sure everyone does at these things, about my previous work history, and how i'm abundantly "qualified" for the on-call secretary position. they recorded it; they took turns asking questions; they took notes; they smiled and nodded a few times; they thanked me for coming; they'll let me know in a week. no wonder nothing ever gets done in this world. i love social justice. i love fighting for the poor. so why do i keep fighting the poor with my own ideals for success, financial stability?

my mom says she wants to take some creative writing courses. and that nila does, too. "is it hard?" she asked me. "no, i said." i asked her about the journal i gave her a few years ago. "yes, i've been writing in it," she told me, then added, "i don't write everyday." teachers always stressed that. i guess it's always been in the back of my mind, this writing everyday business. that's fuel for the gloomy rants.

an airplane flies overhead. there's a house well-decorated for halloween on rosemont drive. crazy country spending money to make something scary. if only there was a way to show everyone how buying things, like useless halloween decorations, is harmful. and yeah, people say, so what? that just means that the economy is doing well. and they just stop there. "well, it's a good thing. a very good thing." if only we could see the calloused hands that stitch together the fabric, the smoke that rises from the ghoulish factories, the deadening of our own collective spirit every time we hand over the visa to the equally unhappy salesperson. and then there's people like me, who know better, but still participate because, as vince vaughn says in that crappy film, into the wild, "you can't get too caught up in that shit."

we're all stuck in mrs. trefoile's attic, awaiting a ghastly, beast-like donald sutherland, too ignorant to understand true evil, to let us out.
don't be like me.

dear jorge,
you make sure you go to college, so that you can have a good career. there are a lot of temptations, i know. don't be like everyone else, using drugs, getting high. don't get into trouble with the police. know that they're not here to help you. only to deport you, make you suffer. the white man can disrespect you as much as he'd like, but if you do so much as give him a dirty look, he'll have the authorities send you away. for good. and don't think you'll be back there with esmerelda and juanita. no, they'll send you far, far away, to a place you have never been. do you think the authorities have the time to sort through all of us? to send us back from "where we came?" no, they don't, and they don't care where we go, so long as it's away. could be portugal, guadalajara, el salvador, cuba. it won't matter when we don't speak english, when we've got dark skin, dark hair, and dark eyes. it could be different for you, you know. i've heard you complain about school. but just try. try working in the field. just for a couple of days; no, a couple of hours. you won't be able to stand when the day is done. don't flirt with the girls. one little kiss and she's pregnant and you've disgraced us all. i'm not asking much. just get good grades, so that you can have a good career. so that you can provide for your family, like we have provided for you. take a look around. you can have better than this. do you think i like living here? living in pity and filth? it's easier now for you. back then, things were worse than this. i never had the chance to go to school, but you do. can you imagine? you don't want this. i know you don't. and i don't want it for you, either. college is the answer. you can be anything: a doctor, a lawyer, an engineer. you're young, but not naive. you don't want this. don't be like me. please, don't be like me.
you know who you are.

if you'd like to be someone else, let me know. but e.e. cummings and flannery o'connor stay who they are.
dwight and angela.

congressman elijah cummings addressed the americorps group in february. he said, "there are people we know who bring out the best in us, and then there are people in this world who bring out the worst in us. surround yourselves with the former, and avoid, at all costs, the latter." i'd like to heed his advice. he was a good man. maybe exaggerated a bit, but he was a powerful speaker, and with great power comes great exaggeration. he also told us, "dream big dreams. too many people out there aren't dreaming big enough. don't be like them." i wish i could've recorded his speech and played it any time i'm in a rut. i'd definitely be getting something done.

finally secretary test tomorrow. the oral exam. i think my years as an americorps volunteer have killed any optimism i might have about future employment, so now i can relax at all my interviews. to be honest, the office does kind of inspire me to find a crappy desk job, if just for a while. i'm sure pam, jim, michael, and dwight won't be there, but there's always some interesting folk to write about. if, however, this was an interview for a library clerk position, i would be sweating bullets. i want to sit in a library all hours of the day. and don't fucking ruin it for me by telling me it will get old. that's a goddamn lie.
only happy when it rains.

on cloudy days in october, i only have one memory, and i'm not even sure why it's there. my dad picks me up in his tan and brown volkswagon bus, and there's garbage on the radio. yeah, shirley manson. i don't know what caused my obsession with her. maybe it was the low self-esteem she projected, or maybe it was the overly-dyed red hair. anyway, my dad picks me up and drives to the pink flamingo, a chinese restaurant a few blocks from our house. he'd always order beef and broccoli with a side order of white rice, and maybe something else. i remember eating at the table, staring through our glass sliding door at the windy and cloudy, dismal day.

i saw garbage once at uc davis freeborn hall. i was a freshman in high school, and rich came along. it was a good show, and i wrote a review about it, which was published on some guy's "unofficial garbage" site. i was surprised he put it up. his site came down, though, so my last trace of anything i've written on the internet is this here. i don't remember much about the show, except that this one guy starting doing a really creepy dance when they played "#1 crush." i bought a large blue t-shirt that had the version 2.0 logo embroidered on the front. i wore it to school the next day, then felt like a huge nerd in my latin class. i regretted putting it on. i don't think i ever wore it after that.

yesterday, i told my mom about a potential tutoring job in portland, or. she asked if i had friends up there, i said i did. laura and kate. she told my dad about this, to which his only response was, "too far." i was angry with him all day for it. he's told my mom (i only know this because she told me) that it's nice having me around the house again, but it will be hard when i have to go. i don't really get why he said this, since we never talk, other than when he asks what i'd like to have for lunch, and i always tell him i don't know. here he comes now. "did mom go to work?" i ask. "mmhmm," he grumbles, pours himself some water.

i had a garbage poster up in my room for a while. it was the one where shirley's down on her knees and she's reaching out for their red sidewalk star in hollywood. what's that called again? a hollywood square? i thought that was just a name for the game show. whatever. i had it up for so long and in so many different places that the corners were getting ripped apart from where the thumbtacks once were. eventually, it came down completely, along with all the other posters i had, when i went through my "get rid of all things because mogwai's come on die young cd is the only thing i'll ever need."

yeah. freshman year of college i downloaded a couple of mogwai songs. the first song i ever heard was "helps both ways" from the aforementioned album. i was intrigued. i downloaded more. by the time i had "christmas steps," "ex-cowboy," and the opener, "punk rock," i knew i was on to something. every other album i owned paled in comparison. at the time, i had a lot of pop punk in my collection, which, i am embarrassed to list here, but i will name a few to help paint an accurate picture: blink-182, mxpx, screeching weasel, all. i can't go any further. needless to say, i picked up come on die young, as well as every other mogwai album to date, and dimple, amoeba, and rasputin's took all the useless, juvenile pop punk bullshit. posters had to come down. useless junk donated. i wanted nothing other than dark, ambient music that would serve as the soundtrack to my life. "music you can be married and buried to," is what the rich bitch calls it.

i have a hard time of letting go. i wanted, and still want, to be a minimalist, but how do you get rid of the things (adbusters, mogwai records) that helped you develop that philosophy in the first place? it's ironic, hypocritical. maybe that's what "oh! how the dogs stack up" is all about.

he's eating bread now, smacking his lips a lot.

yes! i am a long way from home.
francie and neely.

this staffing agency was crazy. before i checked in, i set off the metal detector, and a somber looking indian fellow asked if i had any cds or dvds in my bag. i had grizzly man on me, and i had to turn it in. that's when people started pouring in, by the dozens. i hadn't seen so many unhappy, pessimistic college grads put together in a room since my last national americorps conference.

yes, today about 50 of us visited CTB - McGraw Hill to "apply" for the test evaluator position. and by "apply," i mean show up. there were no "group interviews," as the website had indicated. it was more of a presentation. the woman, jan, who told us about kelly services (the temporary staffing agency) and its partnership with McGraw Hill, first asked if anyone knew what McGraw Hill was. some nerdy white boy raised his hand. "it's a textbook publishing company." "very good," the woman answered. before i go any further, i should note that she was a very scary, not intimidating, but scary, woman. she had spiky white hair, eyes as black and beady as the devil's, leathery skin and dark eyeliner. she reminded me of a previous employer, caitlin, my boss at the aids alliance thrift store. the woman who got really pissed when i accidentally sacked her partner's dog with a large black bag of unsellable items. i still picture the dog, running up the stairs, and me, letting go of the bag just a second too late, almost as if it were in slow-mo, and then the dog, surprised, yelping as he hurdles backwards down the last three steps, and his black, hairy asshole almost meeting his face.

the dog didn't run around the store so much after that.

jan kept stressing how we should "not come in with preconceived notions about how to grade a standardized test," and that standardized tests were "the only effective way of measuring a student's academic progress." yes, we unemployed college grads could really make a difference, by sending vital information about a students ability to fill in bubbles to his teacher. i couldn't believe how secretive and professional these people acted.

it made me think about my own experience with tests. how i did really well in the beginning, and then not so much come sixth grade. by the time i went in for my SAT's, my confidence was so shattered that i scored a 1040. don't worry, you can take it again, my parents and friends told me. i scored worse the second time.

i never really felt good when i scored well. i only felt bad when i scored bad. that's all the tests are for: confirming our inadequacies, letting us know of our shortcomings.

as a surprise, the application included a short "essay" question we would have to fill out before our "interview." the question read: "what are your thoughts about standardized tests." as if to warn us, specifically me, jan addressed the question and shaped our responses: "now, do you really think that if you write, 'i don't believe standardized tests do any good.' that we'll still offer you employment?" i wanted to say, 'yes' and that it was a trick question to test our ability to answer honestly, but everyone was shaking their heads no, and jan looked a little too satisfied with our collective defeat.

another funny thing happened. "now," jan said, "was anyone recommended this position by a friend?" a handful of folks raised their hands. "ah, what's your name, my dear?" "angela." "and angela, who recommended you?" "her name was stephanie crane." at this, jan handed angela a small sheet of paper. "read it out loud, angela." angela read, "anyone who recommends a friend to work for kelly staffing will receive $50 once their friend has completed 160 hours of work." had it been a studio audience, the ooh's and ahh's would have been cued. jan's intial response: "angela, i want you to scratch out the '$50,' and in its place, put $80. that's right. when you recommend a friend, you'll get $80 once that friend completes 160 hours of work. now, come on. tell me you don't have some friends who have college degrees..."

that's about where i tuned out. i told them i'd really only like to work night shifts, 5:30 - 10:30. "we don't have any work this coming week. would you be willing to wait?" i'll wait.

"will you start work on monday?" the indian man asked me. "no, i won't." i grabbed grizzly man and left.

i went to the library, my only sanctuary these days, to pick up a vhs copy of a tree grows in brooklyn. my favorite library clerk was there. she's probably in her fifties, has a dark, brunette streak that goes down the middle of her golden hair, almost like a cat's. if it were the 1950's, 1960's, she wouldn't look a moment out of place.

"how's it going today?" she asked. "pretty good, how are you?" i asked. she smiles. she's always smiling. maybe because i'm always frowning, at least inwardly, that this friendly encounter never fails to bring me joy. what a sap, i know. "i'm doing well," she says, then adds, "it's always good to, you know, get the day going. always a good thing." it's an instant connection, as if she understands that, what some unenlightened others would consider mundane, something like checking out old vhs tapes from the local library is a sure way to make use of your day. better than complaining. better than regretting. better than shopping. still smiling, she asks, "by any chance, are you related to penny tan?" "who was that again?" "penny tan?" "no," i said, regretfully. "oh, she was just an old childhood friend of mine. i've always been curious. anyway, i'll meet you on the other side." she hands me my tape, and i thank her.

in a tree grows in brooklyn, there's a scene where francie wants to check out a book called the anatomy of melancholy. the librarian says it's too big for her, and that it will probably go over her head. francie tells her that she doesn't care, that she's reading all the books from A-Z, and that she "wants to know everything in the world." the librarian senses her urgency, and recommends another book to counterbalance the dryness of anatomy of melancholy. it's a fine scene; one i wish to relive with my own librarian every waking moment.
the lonesome lows don't quite go away overnight.

i just finished watching the red violin with my mom. i wish someone warned me it was over three hours long. it was well done, but too damn long. i wished halfway through that someone would smash the damn thing already.

i really wanted something miraculous, different to happen today. but today was just like any other. i did start a short story called broken lock. i'm only a single-spaced page into it; hopefully, i'll learn to stick with it. i created a character named samir. who knows where it will go.

my mom ordered vegetarian pizza from round table. i had four slices and then helped myself to a slice of lemon meringue pie.

i have a two hour interview tomorrow, concerning my potential employment with CTB - McGraw Hill. business casual, so they say. it already sounds unpleasant.

i feel sick tonight. maybe it's from sitting down for three hours, watching a film about a musical instrument.

i'm wearing my orange cardigan i purchased from the thrift store i once worked in. i was going to steal it, like i did many other items, but i acted too slowly. someone already tagged it and put it up for sale, so i had to purchase it like any other normal sucker. it serves me well, though. a little beady, but still intact. in college, i once helped a girl move a giant sleeping bag, or something, down to the laundry room. she complimented me on my cardigan. "it reminds me of kurt cobain," she told me. she was a dirty hippie, if i remember correctly.

i wanted to write this poem the other day, but never got around to it:

two black men walk down arden way,
talking, looking tough.
"i'm mad hungry," one says.
"macky-d's, macky-d's," the other spouts.
one's got a lean face, dreadlocks dangling,
the other shades himself with crooked baseball cap.
crooked cap: "got cash money on you?"
"coupla dollars, you feel me?" lean face says.
he digs deep into the recesses of sagging denim,
draws a wad of folded cash.
"that'll do, that'll do," crooked cap says.
they speed to a trollop, 'til their voices fade,
leave nothing, save that for mad, electric laughter.
walking down mayhew.

when i'm feeling lethargic or just plain lazy these days, i force myself to go walking. i don't really wander - i'm not the wanderin' type - so i usually just walk to my cousin's house, which is probably six blocks away. here's what goes on:

lock the door behind me. we have two doors, ever since someone tried to break in, many, many moons ago. the second, the gate, is an ugly beige-ish, yellow beast that clangs whenever you try to unlock or open it. i walk. i don't step on our lawn because cats tend to leave their business there, and i don't like to step in it, especially if it's been raining.

today it drizzled.

the new pavement is so black that when it's wet you can almost see yourself in it. i look down a lot, and kick things like stones that are in my way.

there are beautiful blue azaleas (okay, i don't really know what kind of flowers they are, since i, like everyone else in my generation, was only trained to tell the difference between coke and pepsi, and never taught to name more than three kinds of flowers) growing over the fence of some dude's house, who lives on the corner of mayhew and roseport. they're the only real sign of beauty for the entire walk.

after i cross kiefer blvd., there's a newly built gated community to my left, juvenile detention center to my right. the light remains on twenty-four seven in the upstairs bedroom of the model home. what a fucking waste of electricity. it also appears that they've halted building, since no one is buying any homes around here. everyone, for some reason or another, wants to live only in the natomas area.

yellow leaves scattered along the cracked sidewalk. oreo wrappers, pieces of cardboard, and mulch. or whatever it is. stuff that looks like hay growing where the sidewalk meets the fence. there's a can on the ground. i want to pick it up, carry it with me to the recycling bin, but i don't. i'm not a hobo yet. instead, i kick a nail.

i only walk if i'm listening to music. there are dogs that bark the shit out of you, and i feel like an idiot every time i fall for it and jump. a little broken social scene drowns it out.

the only thing that really stands out for me on this walk, other than the things i call azaleas, is an abandoned tree house. the only window is cracked, and it looks more like a shitty, big birdhouse than anything. i wonder if it ever served any purpose.

the new stop lights greet me before i reach the house. yes, apparently residents of this area were too stupid to recognize a four-way intersection complete with stop signs, so the city took it upon itself to install giant, overhanging red lights that flash all day, everyday. what a goddamn waste.

on the way back, listening to sigur ros, i was angry that so many things were blocking my view of a cloudy sky. stupid telephone poles, endless wires, detention centers that couldn't rehabilitate the guiltiest catholic, two-story homes no one would care to rot in, fences and giant walls that keep the bad guys out.

our fence is rotten and falls down every winter when the winds get too strong. cats and other animals sneak through loose boards, so it really serves no purpose. even if they were down, no one would be watching.
about larry.

the first time i met larry was at a "sam green" party - basically, sam would hold these get-togethers at dr. weihe's elaborate home, paid in full, i'm sure, by the blood of illiterate first-generation college dropouts. faculty, staff, and students would attend this annual ritual, held towards the end of winter quarter, to hear some of sam's students read aloud their finest works. i attended because meagan and i were a couple, and meagan knew sam, since she had taken the ireland trip the summer before. there we were, amidst SU's literary circle - a real meeting of the minds. larry shook my hand, after meagan introduced me. we didn't speak much. little did i know this man would save, ruin, then possibly save again, my life.

meagan recommended that i take larry's expressive writing class, and so i did. i was a creative writing major, after all, so what's another couple grand? put it on the tab. or, more specifically, and this is going to sound awful, but it's true, and this is what this blog's all about - truth - put it on my parents' tab.

so, in spring 2004, i took expressive writing with larry nichols. we did daily writes, freewrites; we wrote to music; we read essays and wrote responses. we listened to the man talk. our first real assignment was to write about a "turning point." i remembered meagan's turning point essay, a brilliant piece about her mom getting drunk and forgetting to pick her up one evening, and i especially liked that she kept things in present tense, giving the reader a sense of urgency. i followed suit. i wrote about my experience at jesuit high school, specifically about mrs. ellis, my english teacher, and the time she told me to write whatever we wanted.

everyone essentially wrote the same thing, summed up best by jon rogers (remember that asshole?) with his opening statement: "fuck this school." for the first time i felt united with a group of dissatisfied individuals. i felt the "brotherhood" stronger than i did at kairos. it was a moment that saved me. i wrote about this, but didn't read it aloud. mrs. ellis read my essay silently, looked up, and said, "james, i had no idea."

to be honest, i don't even remember exactly what i wrote. the essay, though, couldn't have come off as any more pessimistic than most of my usual ranting. but i did feel satisfaction in surprising her. i was always the good student. obedient, quiet, raised my hand to volunteer answers. i was one of the few students who read in and for class. one of the few who would choose to read the longer book when given a choice. so, when she read about my gloomy experience, i could only expect that she was surprised.

anyway, for some reason, larry liked the essay. he liked it so much that he made me read it for the whole class. i was pretty excited about that. finally, after years of reading and years of journaling and trying stories out, i was getting some recognition. it wouldn't last long. my next essay was titled, "baseball card show," and in it, i made a saved by the bell reference. suffice to say, i didn't read it aloud. or even work on it for that matter.

larry paired me with a girl named amy (who i was also paired with in a life-changing theology class; we might've been friends if she wasn't so superficial and arrogant (she was a miss teen usa contestant at one point)) and another girl named cienna (damn, i had to look her up on myspace - my memory is terrible). i always felt victimized by cienna and amy. cienna was a pretty good writer (she writes articles for seattle's the stranger now), but her criticisms were damn blatant and harsh. and i had worked with karyna mcglynn before. i know that doesn't mean much, since the majority of you readers don't know these people, but you get the point. anyway, i always got the impression the two girls hated me, and i hated larry for placing me in the same group with them. and then we switched groups once, and i was okay for a while, and then he fucking put me back with cienna. what the fuck, old man?

here's a typical scene:
[amy reads] and on my sweet sixteenth birthday party... [she finishes story]
me [going through my "eschew surplusage" phase]: i don't think you really need to call it your "sweet sixteenth birthday party"; i think you could just say, "when i turned sixteen..."

now, it wasn't the greatest advice. it really had nothing to do with the story. i was just trying to, you know, shorten it to the point that there would be nothing left.

cienna: "no, she needs to leave 'sweet sixteenth birthday party' the way it is. it's important to girls; you couldn't know that; you're a guy"

okay, so it's not verbatim, since memory escapes me, but that's essentially how i interpreted it. i got flustered and shut up for the rest of the workshop. yeah, i remember my sixteenth birthday. i got my license, ate my cake, and didn't have any friends over. i guess i can't give anyone advice now.

workshops were a pain in my ass in that class, since i wasn't getting the feedback i wanted, or thought i deserved. and most everyone in class was a terrible writer. i remember reading tiffany small's script for a screenwriting class once. it was obviously written the night before, since it didn't exceed three pages in length, and the entire opening act was just a couple of people standing around a kitchen at a party, talking to each other. and we actually had to discuss it like it was a real effort at a script. my teacher, cheryl slean, talked about it, instead of denouncing it as the efforts of a lazy college student. i only say this because i kind of knew tiffany, and she was a much stronger writer, and she was obviously pulling one over on us.

anyway, my only real goal was to get larry to notice my work. i guess i was always expecting him to say something that would give me credibility as a writer. and yes, i was still looking for the professor grady/james leer relationship that wonder boys sold me. i can't say i ever really got it.

larry recommended that i work for him at the writing center. i immediately applied, and i began trying my hardest at sounding like an "intellectual" in writing workshops whenever larry was listening in. i got the job, i think, because larry knew my work, and because my friend, tiffany, was the writing center coordinator. had it been any other way, i don't think i ever would've been a consultant.

i did pretty well as a consultant. like i've said before, it was the best job i ever had. the rest of the story gets pretty boring from here; i worked with larry on an independent study, and i wrote a couple of terrible stories that went nowhere; i presented my research paper at the pacific northwest writing center convention in april; i let larry down by not showing up to another presentation he had expected me to attend. we didn't talk for a year.

i wrote him twice, apologizing first for being an ass, and then again just to catch up. he never responded to the second one, but he told meagan that he will when he gets a chance. i'm not holding my breath.

actually, i'm bored enough to write about the pacific northwest writing center conference. why the fuck not? maybe i'll make this the longest blog entry yet.

after reading my research paper on revision (entitled: "revision: an alternate cookbook" - god, how many trees must suffer for such useless undergraduate essays?), larry recommended i collaborate with jean bessette to work on a presentation. jean was hungry to get into grad school, and knew that a presentation like this would do wonders for her application, so she agreed. her research paper was on insight, and somehow, we were supposed to connect the dots. we had, i think, three weeks to do it.

it was a strange collaboration. jean could've been a freshman, and i probably still would've been intimidated. i'm a first-generation college student who also happens to be filipino-american - what the fuck do you/did i expect? anyway, we sat around, trying to think of how our essays connected. it was a fun project, and we finally put together a presentation, complete with powerpoint.

it rained the day of the conference. the first session was horrible. these two girls and this fucking guy, and all they did was talk about how to make the writing center more fun. they had stuffed animals, balloons, and some party favors. the whole time i was thinking, what the fuck is this? i thought this was an academic salon? jean and i worked for hours on academic, abstract nothings, and these assholes were going to just entertain us with puzzles and jokes? what the fuck?

our presentation, as expected, went really well. it even inspired a whole hour of intellectual discussion. and later, i won a mug. or maybe it was a thermos, i can't remember.

i remember feeling like i was going to win something. it's like when zidane says he knows he's going to score a goal, even before he gets the ball.

it's felt sense by sondra perl. "the soft underbelly of thought." fucking writers. alright, enough already.
i love it here. these people are beautiful.

i watched grizzly man with my mom tonight. i liked it lot more than into the wild. the guy, timothy, wanted to protect the bears in alaska, but many argued that he put them in harm's way, since he was "habitualizing" them. in other words, his presence made the bears used to a human being, which in turn made them more vulnerable to hunters and poachers. timothy did a lot of drugs in his lifetime, and had built up a lot of anger. but, he at least found something he was passionate about and chased it, until it chased him and killed him in 2003.

i sold some clothes and a bag at crossroads clothing today. they took my oshkosh diaper bag and my red track jacket that i never wear. "the others were just tees that we don't really need right now," the saleslady explained. she, like others i've encountered at crossroads, wasn't too friendly. what kills me is this hipster elitism that the store exudes. in case you haven't forgotten, crossroads, you're located in sacramento. and as for your workers, well, they live here, too. so lose the uppity attitude.

i need to put a moratorium on the complaints. i'm pretty sure friends and family and readers of this blog are sick of it, too, because i'm sick of listening to it myself.

the remainder of the clothes i took to the goodwill. the receiver thanked me, and asked if i needed a receipt. i probably should've said yes, but as i always do, i say no. i was always upset when i worked at the thrift store and people demanded receipts for their plastic bag of stained t-shirts, or a can of dirty tennis balls. or for their vinyl collection, which always consisted of olivia newton-john, barbara streisand, and mantovani records. so i always say no to receipts. and i'm sure i'll be paying for it come tax time.

i looked around the thrift shop. i really wanted this vintage skyway piece of luggage. however, it was locked, and one would have to sit with it for days, trying to crack the three-digit code. i seriously considered this a possibility. i also looked at suits, but fancied nothing.

on to the next thrift store. i got kind of worried, since i was wearing my "deport illegal immigrants" t-shirt (the sign is held by a native american indian, so, you know...irony) and there were obviously a lot of immigrants in the store, especially russians (who, i think, own teen challenge thrift) and mexicans.

the fabulous typewriters i always wanted from the store weren't there. but there was an identical vintage skyway piece of luggage (is there a better name for this?) that was actually open. on a closer look, though, one side had collapsed, so i didn't get it.

"too heavy on the symbolism for emotional baggage," toby shuster said today. much too heavy.
this time tomorrow.

finally. i ended the bad movie streak by driving down to san francisco with my parents and byron to see what i've been looking forward to for weeks - the darjeeling limited. byron called to say he was coming over at nine because i told him to, but i was still sleeping. i feel the need to let people down every now and again.

anyway, we didn't have any trouble finding the embarcadero theater. i pulled over and jumped out. i have to admit, in retrospect, it felt pretty selfish, just abandoning my parents and expecting them to pick us up when it was over. but they ended up going to quincy park, and had, probably, a lovely time.

last night ricky said he would put me on the list, plus one, so we wouldn't have to pay. but there was some confusion at the box office. "i was drinking last night - sorry," ricky confessed, forgetting to write my name down. the cashier cleared it up with a call, though, and we were in.

i'm not going to talk about the movie. i'll only write about the bad ones.

i remember this time i read a story out loud to the entire english department and to a roomful of english majors. at the time, and in retrospect, i hated the story. it was loosely autobiographical, and considering my childhood, in my opinion, was a complete waste, the story was, too. the only highlight was during the q&a session following it, when, after what seemed eons of dead silence, jacob asked, "have you read any salinger?" yes, i have, i told him. "i like salinger," he said. next question, please.

i don't know what made me think of that. whitney once told me that wes anderson's characters are loosely based on j.d. salinger's stories, especially around the glass family. it made sense enough. i remember the first time i read franny and zooey. i was sitting in the back of my mom's van while my parents drove us to the movies. i don't remember what we saw. i do remember franny having a nervous breakdown. i wanted to help franny as she lay down, chanting some religious nonsense. better yet, i think i wanted to be franny.

i feel a lot like those characters. maybe too often i "loosely base" my own personality on these failed stereotypes and caricatures. they always seem unfit to handle the most basic social situations. how often are they just going out for a drink, when do they ever dance? they always seem on the verge of breaking down. like they'll weep for days and never leave their rooms. for some reason, i like that about them. but it's only funny when it's on screen, or in print - not when it's your everyday existence.

ricky and i hung out tonight. he was the first one to train me when i worked at tower. we went to r5 records and dimple. it seems the only way we can communicate is through music. it seems music is the basis for my relationships with a lot of people. this depresses me a lot. if it wasn't for music, i think, i'd have no one to talk to, and nothing to talk about. funny though, how i rarely ever blog about music.

how am i not myself? how am i not myself? how am i not myself? how am i not myself?

it doesn't work as well when i'm just typing it. i wish i could figure things out. i really do. and at the same time, i'm completely aware that "figuring things" out means just making other people happy. showing them that i'm successful. that yes, a college degree can lead to something. i admitted to ricky tonight that i'd be perfectly happy working in a record store if the pay wasn't so low, and if it wasn't "frowned upon."

i wish i knew how to relax. but then again, i am sleeping twelve hours a day. so what's wrong with me?
are you being nice to him?

i drove to the rancho cordova library today, thinking, why the fuck don't we have a library in rosemont? if i didn't have a car or bike, and i'm sure a lot of poor saps in my neighborhood don't, how the hell would we get our books? i'm going to find out how to get a library established in this great neighborhood called rosemont.

i went to the library to get indecision 2004 and grizzly man. i watched the former with my parents, and we were well entertained.

hours of sitting on the couch made me feel like a lazy turd, so i decided to work on the yard again. i filled the wheelbarrow up twice, and decided that was enough.

while working in the yard, the black and white cat snuck in again, through the loose fence board. a girl started calling some foreign-sounding name, like "yabata," or "selvadora." i couldn't quite make it out, but i was receptive enough to know that she was calling for her cat.

"are you looking for your cat?" i asked.
"yes," she called back, hidden behind the fence.
"he's over here. i don't know how to get him back." i began to whistle.
"she's probably scared of you!" the girl called back. i wanted to say something witty, like, because i have brown skin? but i held back; i had no idea how old this girl was. i peeked through a hole in the fence like some creepy, voyeuristic parasite, but, to be honest, i still had no idea. she could've been fifteen or thirty.
"are you being nice to him?" she asked.
"yes," i answered, truthfully.
"have you seen my other cat, a big, fluffy gray one?" in fact i had, just minutes ago when i got the mail.
"yeah, i think he's on our front lawn," i called back.
"he never came home," she said. at that point, i think she went back into her house. otherwise, she stood for a little while in silence.

i can't say that that's completely weird and unfounded, though, since i find myself doing a lot of that these days.
he held the world in contempt.

someone and i (it's gotta be rich or cosmo - who else do i see these days) were talking about the movie searching for bobby fisher. i have no idea why, nor does it really matter - i'll just get into what i was going to say. i watched it in theaters with my parents, i think, when i was younger, and i really liked it. then i watched it in my film class at jesuit, and i gained even more appreciation for it. our teacher, mr. trafton, pointed out, as he usually does, amazing scenes, especially one in particular where the main character and his arch-nemesis are pacing around a room, staring each other down, and they look exactly like chess pieces. i never really knew how much trouble went into making a film - good or bad - until mr. trafton showed us all that crap.

anyway, one of the lines i remember from searching... is when the tutor tells his protege that bobby fisher "held the world in contempt." he also never wanted publicity, fame, or anything pointless like that. he just wanted to win and move on. that's all there was to it. i remember, even as a kid, that i liked that philosophy. and later, i felt like salinger basically did the same thing. dropped gold bricks onto the public, and refused to take any responsibility for it. for some strange reason, this has always appealed to me: do something great, move on. don't even bother recognizing it. a lot of people waste lots of time patting themselves on the back. me, i don't think i've even taken the time to scratch an itch.

that's what my parents have been saying to me lately: "you've already accomplished so much." i know i shouldn't, but i have a hard time believing it. i won't be satisfied until i drop the golden bricks, and don't have to bother sticking around to clean up.

on a more casual note, in mr. trafton's class, he asked us to come up with titles for possible movie reviews (this being my one complaint against trafton - not at the time, but in retrospect - that he never assigned any real "work") - not the actual review, mind you - just the title. i came up with an especially awful one: searching for a good movie? is latin dead? his only response was, "your title implies that the film may not be good."

i really liked his class - all english classes for that matter. it must be how jocks felt when people like me, bobby goedrich, and robert chang had to suit up for p.e. you know, kind of like, "this is my turf" mentality. and yes, when jesuit jocks stepped into a classroom, they were, indeed, on my turf. literature was (is) the only thing i've ever felt comfortable talking about - the only thing i thought was worth talking about. how booby miles felt about football: "there's only one subject," and in my case, it was english. it's just too damn bad our death-wishing culture doesn't appreciate a good novel the way they do a two hour sports game. too damn bad an english degree won't pay the rent, but a useless business degree will. and it is because of this that i, like bobby, will always, always hold the world in contempt.
it's so bad we don't know what day it is.

well, yesterday i felt like crap and didn't do anything. i had to stop reading the problem of civilization. i was really starting to take it to heart, and it wasn't doing me any good. i felt like i got the main point of the book, and didn't really need to know (hear) every single thing i'm doing wrong. dead whales, cancerous toothpaste, disfigured iraqi children, extinct salmon, the last breath of fresh air. i got it. but being unemployed, living at home, and then piling that stuff on top of it makes for a bleak, depressing experience, which i'm not completely prepared for.

i think i'm beginning to learn my threshold for things. it's not very high. i guess i never really built up a tolerance.

i keep getting dirt under my nails. i wondered where it was coming from, but i just realized right now that it's from tearing apart fruits and veggies for my compost pile.

the cat came into the yard again while i spread banana peels over my pile. he went between my legs, smelled my feet, and finally let me pet him. dumb cat.

rich and i wrote a decent song, and watched premonition over pumpkin pie with cool whip, chased with pumpkin ale and sunflower seeds. i need to start eating healthy again.

sandra bullock in premonition, the romantic/thriller/horror/lifetime channel movie. the whole time, we were shouting, "Look at a fucking calendar, you fucking idiot!" rich had it figured out by the end of the first scene. final verdict: "so bad, you don't know what day it is."

it's finally raining again. i could lie in bed for hours listening to it. but then again, that's not very productive.

ross emailed me back. i think i remember now why i didn't bother keeping in touch. he's a decent guy, but i think he just wants to be left alone. here's his response to me telling him that i've been reading some capote:

"i havent read anything by capote, but i saw that movie and kind of thought his character was an ass.

not to say you're an ass for reading him."

hmm. don't really know what to do to that. i probably just won't respond. i'd rather have a dead writer for a friend.

"like a lost pair of kites hurrying toward heaven." perfect.