stomach into knots.

i wish i had more important things to write about, but i don't. all i have is cold weather, stomach aches and the occasional person to chat with at work.

i told my team leader, kevin, that i would be coming in late all next week, since i'm going to be grading the cbest tests from 8:00 - 5:00. he went on and on about how great it was, how they have catered lunches, and whatnot. "i think you're really going to like it," he said. i wanted to say, "i really doubt it, since all work is immoral," but i held back.

i don't know how i feel about work anymore. i hate it, obviously, but when i'm not working, i feel like i should be working. from raymond carver's "what do you do in san francisco?": "i believe, too, in the value of work - the harder the better. a man who isn't working has got too much time on his hands, too much time to dwell on himself and his problems." the thing is, though, i know raymond carver hates this guy he's writing about, and that carver would also agree all work is immoral. after all, he was a janitor at one point, and then became an alcoholic writer. but i also know where this character is coming from. i don't like to dwell on myself and my problems.

i think life would be so much better without computers. it would force me to come talk to you, or else phone you up. instead, it gives me the opportunity to hide behind a keyboard and never have to answer to anybody.

i blew my phone interview today. i'll be ecstatic if i actually get the job. i don't know what it is. for all the meaningless jobs i apply for that i don't really want, i blow them on purpose; but for jobs that i actually think i won't mind doing, at least for a little while, i blow those, too. careless and nervous. yes, mr. employer, those two traits would best describe me.
sensual seduction.

my new jam.

a hostage taker wanted to talk to senator clinton today.

on the history channel i learned about a 1993 somalian ambush which left 18 u.s. soldiers dead.

the discovery channel told me about a british airways jet that landed in a warzone.

one acquires much knowledge and culture from just fifteen minutes of simple channel surfing.
maybe that's why you're so well-adjusted.

an old co-worker, adam, once asked me, "did you ever watch the pee-wee herman show?" "i think i've seen an episode," i said, "but i never really watched it." "oh," adam said. "maybe that's why you're so well-adjusted."

for the first time in my twenty-four years of existence, i put up the christmas lights. and i went on the roof. i think if i went on the roof more as a child, i would be more well-adjusted. it must've been a pretty pathetic sight, though, seeing me up there clinging to a hammer and nail, crawling slowly upward. i knew i could've probably just walked up there normally, even crouching a little, but i didn't want to take any chances. i'm uninsured, after all. my idea of an extreme sport.

my dad and i had a mini-debate about whether or not the first set of lights should connect with the other. "i'm going to have two extensions cords running. one to the back, and one to the garage." "why don't we just connect them all, and put them all into one socket?" i asked. "the voltage will be too high," was his answer. we're pretty early still - no one else on the block has them up. i saw that a few houses off mayhew did, but that was about it.

being up on the roof for the first time made me think about all the little things i haven't done yet. like give a dog a bath. or cut firewood.

my mom just told me that i have to cheat the system.
"god," she said. "god, will you help us, god?" she said.

another early morning post - 5:36 a.m. this time. i couldn't go back to sleep because i had a line running through my head, but once i put it down, it won't be as good as i thought it was:

life is a small, good thing when you can read a story, or even just a line that shakes you to the core, written by someone who's long gone, but lets you know that he's alive and well, at least more so than any living person you know.

i guess i'm a weirdo for feeling compelled to get out of bed to write something like that, but i welcome it, since not much else can get me out of bed before six these days.

i've made quite a mess of things by coming back home, yet choosing to not really be here at the same time.

during work, i had an idea for a story about a music teacher, but then it became about a theology teacher. so i don't know what it'll be about. i know it's there, though, and that i should do something about it.

work is a cold, dead place where i try to not look at the clock, and then get angry with myself when i accidentally catch myself staring at it.

in my freshman english xl class, this black kid named caesar once asked me, "you don't talk much, do you?" i think i remember looking at him, and then looking away. barry answered for me: "only when he has to."

this one kid in my geometry xl class named anthony would always ask me, "are you going to the dance?" in the beginning, i said, "yes," and then after i went to one, it became "maybe," but when i finally realized i didn't want anything at all to do with this place, these people, and that i had made an agreement with myself to just shut down completely for the next four years, my answer became a simple and direct, "no."

sometimes i think about lessons i'd like to deliver to a class. i felt like it was really something i could do, and wanted to do, after co-presenting a lesson in conflict resolution to the school council at moreland elementary. it was one of the few times where i felt like i was good at something, that i was funny, and that the kids were actually listening to me. i'm doing this, i said. i'm really doing this. it wasn't too scripted, either. i was able to just talk and talk, and make sense, and it was necessary for me to be there. i was so on. i want to teach quiet kids, ones who "don't talk much." i want to get the shy ones, the sensitive ones, to break out of their shells. but i know it's not always possible. one day, though - not any time soon - i'll just have to try anyway, and see what i can do.

i think about carlos and how he was so willing to admit his ignorance, and how janessa would tell me that she saw me walking home. there was something tragic, yet hopeful about all of them. they were nothing like the self-serving, blank-staring, fatalistic lot we once were. maybe i'm only exaggerating things in my mind, or maybe i'm just seeing things differently as an outsider.

at work sometimes, i kick and kick until my knee cracks. i can also crack my wrists and my elbows.

is there a price to always wanting something better, not just for you, but for everyone? at what point can we just say, that's enough. that's good enough.
'bub!' can you believe him?

some things to tell:

meagan told me her group gave a presentation on doctors yesterday, and that it was awful. at one point, someone in the audience asked, "do physicians ever work in medical libraries?" to which the only boy in her group responded, "well, i interviewed someone with an MLS degree, and i think that stood for 'medical library science.'" another boy raised his hand to voice what meagan had been thinking: "doesn't MLS stand for a master's in library science?" you know, what they used to call an MLIS back in the day? the degree we're earning this very second?

in the sixth grade, mrs. ogan held spelling bees to help us study our vocab lessons. some of the boys didn't like competition (i wasn't one of them because spelling was the only thing i could compete in) maybe because they didn't like standing, or maybe because they knew they'd lose out to someone else, like me. anyway, once you were eliminated, you had to sit down. on the very first round, noel misspelled the word "barracks," most likely on purpose, since he was a strong speller, so he took a seat. once this happened, mike meissner chuckled, and this made noel cry. it was an awkward and sad moment, yet also refreshing, since noel was arguably the most pompous kid in class.

i'd like to welcome more moments like these in life.
why can't they build a school here?

a message, complimented with a firm grabbing of the collar, and a violent shake:

"is this how you want to remembered? imagine you die tomorrow. with the junk you eat, all the exercise you don't get, and all the chemicals you've unwittingly poisoned yourself with, the chances are probably much greater than you'd like to think. what will you (i) leave behind, save for a collection of useless things we've collected over the years to avoid, distract ourselves from asking the ultimate, the inevitable: why haven't you pursued that which you love with everything you've got? have you ever had to struggle? have you ever really gone after that (and by that, i'm not talking about something you can pick up at the mall) idea, person, thing that's supposed to get you out of bed? that's supposed to get your heart beating, your brain functioning at a level that it's supposed to? have you ever felt challenged? or did you just do what was required? does anything mean anything to you, at all?"

i drove back home with my headlights illuminating the black road scattered with dead leaves while listening to "your hand in mine." kevin complained earlier that the guy who sits across from him groans a lot, mumbles "shit," and shakes the desk. he finds this annoying.

during break, i sat in my car and watched a low and full orange moon while listening to john fahey and terry robb's christmas album, vol. 2. tomorrow, i think i'll brave the cold and read some raymond carver. if someone approaches me and starts up a conversation about raymond carver, i'll definitely have a friend for life.

two team leaders argued for a solid five minutes about whether or not "jr." could be used as a subject. "i'm not saying you're wrong..." team leader one began. "oh, but i could be," team leader two interjected. "i just don't want to walk all the way down there and ask about it." and blah, blah, blah. you're both hopeless.

yesterday, randy called team leader one "harry potter," and himself he called "superman." "more like clark kent," team leader one mumbled, attempting a comeback. a pitiful display.

what does it mean to be temporary? what's the greater picture behind all the meaningless jobs and dissatisfied workers around us?

when is it all gonna break.
we can't just ignore that disastrous ending.

my advice to readers: when pulling out of the parking lot of your meaningless job, don't exacerbate things by playing songs in your car like belle & sebastian's "get me away, i'm dying" or elliott smith's "fond farewell." surprisingly, downer songs like the ones mentioned above don't make you feel any better about the work you're doing.

one time, i made a comp for our americorps group with that same belle & sebastian song. i wanted everyone to know that we were all fooled for being idealistic.

in the morning, look yourself in the mirror and repeat the question: "weren't you destined for something greater than this?"

i didn't see gina at break. kevin went to his car to do whatever it is he does in his car for fifteen minutes. so i stood outside and played snowball fight. i should really get a new game.

drugs are my anti-work.

rita mae brown: "insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results."

weren't we destined for something greater than this?
there's a pretty young thing in front of you.

the main reason i want to (or at least claim that i want to) work for the poor, is mostly because i hate seeing an individual a little too pleased with himself. for example, when i rode on airplanes every year for the holidays, i'd usually have to be crunched in between two people i'd never want anything to do with, but this one guy stands out in particular. he could've played santa claus at a mall. and when he brought the tray down so he could put his laptop on it, the tray met his stomach. he looked like an important businessman. he'd bring his fist to his face whenever he coughed, and later, he'd rub his hands together, and wipe his hands on his pants. he squirmed in his seat with the stench of entitlement emitting from his underarms. he had a palm pilot, too, probably, and used his pen to do whatever it is one does with a palm pilot.

on saturday at work, my supervisor and this other old guy - a real hoighty-toighty fellow well into his fifties - were cracking jokes with this perky blonde thing, my age or younger, who liked to talk a lot. she looked like kalle from road rules season 4, but with black hair underneath the blonde mess. i don't really get that look. anyway, it creeped me out a bit. i don't like it when old guys talk to younger women because i'm a guy and i know what they'd like to do. and i know what they do do, preferably when no one else is around. to most normal people, it's just friendly workplace banter, but to me, it's reminiscent of the colonel's creepy smile in boogie nights. they should all just "admire" from a safe distance, and then marry the small, yet domineering asian woman, like they had originally planned.
there's no success like failure.

let's spend all the money we can, and never have anything to show for it. let's learn all the things we can, and never act. let's come up with all the greatest ideas, and never implement them. let's write stories that go nowhere. let's write songs we'll never perform. let's go to the movies when the sun is shining. let's work, and work, and work, and never feel liberated. let's squander the days we have off. let's keep our eyes glued to the screen. let's never let anyone into our lane.

today, i cut more wood, and watched the sunset. the sky was all broken clouds, like a red and purple quilt, and i learned to distract myself from thinking about cutting the wood. it made the cutting go much faster. like how things are so much more doable when you know it's coming to an end. you know what i mean. like in may, before school ends; everything's easier. i think one of the scariest things is not having a date to look forward to. just dates you never want to arrive. like birthdays and interviews.

shortly after graduation, meagan's dad and grandma asked me how i felt now that school was over. "i'm okay with it," i said, "but now i'm just going to have to go to work." in unison they told me, "well, you'd better get used to it." a nail in my foot.

if i could go back in time, i'd go to my last eighth grade party, and act a complete fool. i'd pay the dj to leave and play the loudest shit, and i'd tell everyone that was is it. that we're never gonna see each other again; that we're never gonna have to come here again; and how we'll soon find out that the lives we lead are safe, sheltered, and meaningless, and that this is our last chance to feel young and alive and reckless. and then we'd trash the place. i'd like to write a movie where a scene like this plays out. imagine some little chubby asian boy who realizes that he's going to play it safe everyday for the rest of his life, so he just tears it up that one night. in my film's version, everyone would go along with it; in reality, people would probably just leave.

watching the craziness on tv, hearing the insanity in the music, confronted with the utter stupidity of the workplace, one can easily understand why people rob banks, do drugs, and get into all kinds of trouble. when i read the stranger, i realized that i was capable of anything - good or evil - and that idea is pretty fucked up and downright scary, or liberating, whichever way one chooses to see it. but someone once told me that people for the death penalty are afraid to admit that it's inside them, too. as dazed and confused slater once put, "we're the aliens, man. we're the savages." a philosopher once wrote that everything we find disgusting merely reminds us of our mortality.

i don't know what i'm talking about. sidenote: this is a cop-out.

in my audio recording class, my teacher once listened to one of my songs. "if i were you," he said, "i'd add a chorus, a bridge - something." i've never taken criticism regarding the songs i'd written before, so i turned to the line i had been holding onto ever since i started writing songs: "well, you know. it's just a joke song." he seemed pretty annoyed with this, and responded, "well, i can write joke songs, too, you know. and i'll be laughing all the way to the bank." he was a great guitarist, and really talented, but i've always tried to avoid taking advice from helpful people.
after all, in moments of quiet,
i'm strangely drawn toward you.

i watched a little bit of 13 going on 30 on the fx channel tonight. i never knew this, but i don't really like jennifer garner. i thought the most interesting part was when they were actually 13, and the little fat nerd boy, matt, made her a model house. and then he was going to play his casio keyboard for her party. but then she brushed him off, got rejected by the cool kids, wished she was "thirty, flirty, and thriving," and the movie was over.

we finally got a fire started here at home. apparently, a fire-starter is useful when you're using old, shitty wood.

we watched bringing up baby. i liked how crazy katherine hepburn was. especially the way she acted when she tried to get them all out of prison. the movie made me want katherine hepburn circa 1938 to be my best friend. there's also a great part where cary grant is wearing her bathrobe, and he has to answer the door. since he's unable to explain the predicament he's in, he jumps up and says, "because I just went gay all of a sudden!"

at work today, i graded 144 books in the morning, and then 230-something after lunch. i overheard that there were over 700,000 books total. fresh recruits will be coming in on monday. i've realized that work is only good for making you appreciate the time you have off. nothing beats those last five minutes on the clock. nothing.

i caught maybe ten seconds of a ufc fight on channel 4. i really didn't get it. i don't get boxing, either. i wish more people would die in fights. in football, too. then i'd watch.

one time, in fifth grade, i was having a mini-debate (not really an argument, not intellectual enough to be a real debate) with this girl named sarah shakle. or maybe it was shakel, i can't remember. anyway, she was giving me some sort of quick-witted response, and i was completely following, and listening, when all of a sudden, ryan mcguiness, this little redheaded trouble maker, interrupted. "shut up, sarah. you're fat." it was so mean and unexpected that it was funny. i don't think i was insensitive enough at the time, though, to laugh. i don't really remember sarah's reaction, either. i think she turned red, maybe smiled a little, and then kept quiet.

years later, though, our high school ethics teacher, mr. andre, taught us a lesson in the most entertaining way possible (damn, that's a lot of commas). he made us list all the different words and phrases we could think of for things of a sexual nature, i.e. "pussy, cunt, slit" for "vagina." as we were listing off different words for "penis," mr. andre started chuckling to himself. "what? what's so funny?" we wanted to know. "alright. alright. quiet down. now you can't tell anyone else about this. if i tell you, you can't go spreading it around." we swore we wouldn't tell. "in third period," he began, chuckling, "tony whittaker's suggestion for 'penis' was 'ryan mcguiness' toothbrush.'" at this point he started cracking up. mr. andre. what an awesome teacher.
can i get a ride?

how many more entries before i'm unable to write about meaningless that have happened to me? guess you'll just have to keep reading to find out.

when i tried to think of something to write about, the first thing that came to mind was carpools. back in the day, i used to ride to st. ignatius with random people. the galinatos, pinko, sarah d., dong, rich, claire, and byron. it made sense, you know, since everyone pretty much lived in rosemont. here are the top five anecdotes regarding my carpool memories:

5) when he was unemployed, my dad would drive me, claire, and rich to school. everyday, he would honk the horn, and it would take rich and claire a good five to ten minutes to actually get outside and meet us in the car. my dad didn't like this so much. "you'd better be ready the next time," he warned them, "or else i'm going to leave you behind." they may or may not have listened to his advice. i wouldn't really know, since the next time, my dad stopped the car, literally as though he were at stop sign, gave a faint, brief honk, and then sped off. i most likely turned white at that point, and wondered how my cousins would get to school. but my dad looked pissed, so i didn't ask. years later, rich would tell me that they called my mom, and told her "uncle ronnie never showed up." my mom took them to school.

4) tita lorna, claire's mom, would sometimes pick us up from school. she was usually good about waiting to see whether or not we actually made it inside the house, but one time, she didn't. so i wandered outside of my home for a few hours. the woman who lives across the street from us asked me if i wanted to come into her home. having been told never to trust strangers, i politely declined. "they should be back any minute," i told her. around five o'clock, i got worried. but eventually, they showed up. tita lorna waited for me to get inside every time after that.

3) tita lorna would listen to ksfm 102.5 in the car, and we would listen to all the great r&b/rap hits of the early 90's. one time, though, she must've had the radio on a little too loud because she obviously didn't hear the lightrail's alarm. she busted through the tracks as the gate began closing down on us. claire screamed and shielded herself, as if she really believed the long planks of wood would penetrate the vehicle, and split her in half. she berated her mom, and tita lorna apologized to us all. i had to wait until i got home to laugh.

2) just in case you haven't already figured it out, my dad had a pretty low tolerance for anyone riding in his car who wasn't me. he'd get upset with dong, because apparently dong would "slam" the trunk whenever dropping off or retrieving his backpack. dong would also "slam" the door too hard, and this annoyed my dad to no end. readers, remember when riding with my dad that you never, ever slam the door. he will never forgive you. so anyway, my dad was always annoyed with dong from day one. and so dong was given more or less the same warning rich and claire received. "be outside when we pick you up," my dad told him. dong obeyed. then, one day, my dad decided he didn't like making u-turns, so he told dong, "be on the corner when we pick you up." dong obeyed. finally, my dad decided he didn't like picking dong up at all, so eventually he told dong, "come to our house." from then on, until i got my license, every morning dong walked to our house.

1) one morning, uncle rebel took us to school in his blue paseo. he must've been watching some japanese show the night before, or else he'd recently been attracted to a japanese woman, or something, because that entire morning, he went on and on about how much better the japanese were at everything than the americans were. "look at the way they name their cars," he said. "for the japanese, it's A-KOO-RA! not like those americans. "ah-cure-ah," he said, in a shrill, i'm-imitating-the-most-flamboyant-homosexual-stereotype-i-know kind of voice. "TOH-YO-TAH!" followed by more or less the same homosexual impersonation, "toe-yo-tah." riding in the backseat, i thought this was pretty funny, and i kept repeating the two ways of announcing japanese brands in these voices. claire mustn't have thought this was funny at all, though, because when we walked to our classes, i said, "A-KOO-RAH! ah-cure-ah." she gave me her typical god-you're-annoying look, and told me to shut up.
you know god loves
the sensitive ones.

i spent spanksgiving (yes, i am in seventh grade still) cutting up wood to make a fire. it took several hours for us to get it started, since the wood was mostly rotting crap i found behind our house. as i was sawing, i repeated borat's "grip, pull; grip, pull," and thought that i might enjoy a summer, or maybe more, on a farm. somewhere stylish, though. i'm not talking lodi or rio linda here.

my mom warmed up thanksgiving dinner around noon. she didn't want to cook, and i don't blame her, so all our stuff came prepackaged from raley's. she mentioned that raley's workers make $20 an hour. i briefly entertained this image of me bagging groceries. but i don't really want to learn what goes in what bag, and what has to be separated. i'd probably get flustered and walk out.

oh, i forgot to add that my dad finally got the fire started by dousing lighter fluid all over the wood. he had this other bizarre idea to light a candle under one of the branches, and also to put a plateful of coal at the bottom. i've never had luck starting fires. every time i try and try and subsequently fail at starting a fire, i wonder about all the houses in history that have burned down, and i find myself asking, how the hell did that happen? or i think about a man making a fire out of two sticks, and i think, there's no fucking way. i'm sure it's an amusing sight for others, though, to see me sitting by a fireplace, crumpling up balls of black friday ads, and stuffing them underneath parts of a rotting fence.

today, my parents and i watched party girl, starring parker posey, and joyeux noel, a french movie about world war I soldiers who declared a ceasefire on christmas eve. both were great in their own way. i was surprised, though, that my dad sat through all of party girl, since it has such an early 90's feel to it. but parker posey is transgenerational.

let's see. in the shower (where all my blog ideas come from) i remembered a day in fifth grade after skate night. for those of you unfamiliar with the term, skate night was a night that king's skate, the local rollerskating/ice skating rink (off bradshaw) would cater to only st. ignatius students. i went every now and then, but i never skated. i'd hang out with my friends and play rampage at the arcade. and then, at some point during the night, the lights would dim, the disco ball would spin, and kids would know it was time to "couple skate." actually, i think the dj actually had to announce it. "it's couple skating time," she would announce, making all the losers feel bad for sitting this one out. since i never bothered checking out a pair of rollerskates, nevermind talking to a girl, i didn't participate. i just used it as an opportunity to feel what most self-pitying alcoholics and fifty-year-old divorcees endure on a daily basis.

anyhow, fifth grade was about the time that people took "couple skating" seriously. i even remember my friend elliott - or maybe it was robert - couple skating with some random floosie. i couldn't be happy for them. i could only feel like something was wrong with me. anyway, the following day, michael troughton reported to our teacher, miss edwards, who had skated with whom. (did i use those correctly?) miss edwards was surprised at the names he was dropping. ryan with noelle. mike with alicia. robert and kathleen. so-and-so with so-and-so. the list goes on. and everytime, miss edwards looked shocked. "wow, she said. even james was out there?" "well, no. not james." and then they both looked at me.

but i got my revenge. a dozen or so years later, i did couple skate. at this place on the outskirts of seattle. and semisonic's song "singing in my sleep" came on. so the joke's on them.
andrew jackson, all we're asking.

the best part about working again is having time off. but the last five to ten minutes of work are good, too. i like to look at the clock and think, i'll be getting off in like, five to ten minutes. that's a good thing. i use the bathroom a lot, and since my cubicle is one of the farthest away from the nearest restroom, that means i have a lot of walking time. that means less time staring at my computer screen.

this japanese guy named kevin sits across the aisle from me. he failed the bar for the third time, and his girlfriend who works in a pharmacy in vallejo, is disappointed with him. but not really. i think he was just exaggerating. "what will you do after this?" he asked me. "i don't know," i told him. "probably sub." he said he was going to study full-time. he'll be taking a $4,000 writing course at uc berkeley. what a waste, i wanted to tell him. but i didn't. because like camera obscura says, i need all the friends i can get.

sometimes when i need to ask my team leader, who's name is also kevin, a question about a sentence, i'll delay it. i'll pretend to be looking in my packet for answers, or else i'll just stare at the screen. i take to heart george costanza's advice on working: "always look angry. when you look upset, people think you're busy."

yes, i'm lazy, and i also don't believe in the work i'm doing. but, then again, who cares? this is america.

and now, a commercial break for black friday.

hello, consumers. remember to buy everything in sight on black friday. keep repeating the mantra, "if i don't buy it today, it might not be here tomorrow." also, make sure you're shopping strictly for yourself. if you're thinking about buying gifts for other people, that's what christmas eve is for. let's take a look at some goods that will be heavily marked down.

treat yourself to this sleek and affordable ($400!) digital camera from kodak. you can use it to take pictures of all your co-workers and all the credit cards you own.

we all know this is gonna be a hot item this year. you need this. and at $599, it's a steal! the latest status symbol to let everyone around you know that you really do make that much more than them. or maybe you just owe more - i forget which it is. make sure you buy two, because they're so small, they're easy to lose. oh, and don't forget the accessories. the iphone's useless without them.
Cingular (AT&T) service: $199.99 (6000 min)
Bluetooth earpiece: $50
Data package: $20-$50
Getting out of your current contract: $200.00
Car charger: $40
Case: $50

okay, you're really an asshole if you don't already have one of these. but again, remember you that you're supposed to have at least two of each item, just to play it safe. we all know how many of "those" people have moved into the area recently. anyhow, this portable dvd player (cheap! $169!) is absolutely necessary for all those hours you have to kill when you're all alone, and there aren't any television sets around. yes, the bathroom really is the only place to use this thing.

i remember one or two teachers trying to tell me the concept of buy nothing day. i think we all stayed quiet when this was brought to our attention. you mean, there are some heathens that don't buy anything at christmas? they might as well have told us we were all unlovable. i don't think i really "got it," until i started working at a thrift store in college, and i saw how much shit people got rid of on a daily basis. and then i'd walk into a fred meyer, a qfc, a target, a best buy, and i'd think, man, there's a lot of shit in here. and i know it's not just here, but also literally in thousands of towns and cities everywhere. and then one time we had to take a trip to the dump because people kept donating (and by "donating" i mean abandoning) junk in front of our store.

the dump was an awful place. i guess that's why they call it a "dump."
all day long, i think about the paradiso.

it's not quite 7 a.m. yet, but i'm wide awake. i woke up around 5:30 and i couldn't fall back asleep. an older woman with long blonde hair came and replaced our garbage can with a smaller one. i tried to play my guitar, but i played so quietly that i couldn't hear whether it was good or not. my writing teacher used to tell me about the poet william stafford and how he would wake up early and write. all his best ideas came to him early in the morning.

during my dante class once, father rowan told us about how he ran into an old student of his. the student was homeless (probably an english major) and he wandered the streets all day. father rowan asked him, "what do you think about when you're walking around all day with nothing to do?" to which the ex-student replied, "all day long, i think about the paradiso."

i was going to blog about holiday returns, and how i really hate when i receive gifts from macy's because when you try to return the shirt you'll never wear, they only give you store credit. so you can buy something else you'll never wear. and when did my family members all get together and decide that after i turned 16, i'm only capable of wearing XXXL t-shirts? what are they trying to say? that i need to get fatter, or that i'm already too fat?

every year, i talk about doing a buy nothing christmas, but i always end up caving in and getting somebody something. i think it's because when i was 11, i would've hated whatever relative was using his anti-consumerism beliefs as an excuse to not get me that stupid nerf gun, or useless super soaker that i convinced myself i needed.

being the minority even in your own family is rough.
cheerful holiday banter, pt. II.

hopefully by now, you've been drinking a little bit and you're unbuckling your belt. you're sitting around and everyone's talking about how so and so is doing so well, which translates as, why aren't you making any money yet, you useless liberal bastard? after the talk dwindles down because no one really knows what your cousin (insert cousin's name here) does at (insert name of major computer software corporation), besides the fact that he makes over 50k a year, the conversation will eventually turn to who's voting for who next year.

this is actually the time to stay quiet for a little while, allowing all of your relatives to spend their time blabbing on and on about who believes in what, and what is best for america because you're about to let them know that their conversation, just like our entire democratic voting process, is a complete waste of time, unworthy of both participation and of discussion.

here's how to break it down:

someone talking: "so, what are your thoughts about (obama/hillary/mitt/rudy)?"

you: "well, all you really have to think about is voting in junior high, especially if you went to private school. not much has changed since then. did the poor kid or the kid who lost his temper in class a lot ever win? hell, no. so mike gravel, you're out. did the one black kid in class ever win? well, this is a tricky one. you know, it was cool to pretend like you were "down" (remember hand quotes) with that one black kid, trying to listen to dr. dre and saying things like, "oh, for real, for real." you said you were going to vote for the black kid because it was the right thing to do, but in the back of your mind, all you could think was, why isn't this kid in public school? so, at the last minute, you didn't vote for him. obama's out. how about the tomboy? the one girl in class who was always raising her hand, always getting the right answer, proving herself better than you both academically and physically? no? not for you? goodbye, hillary. how about that one rich asshole, the one who always brings up how your football team lost to your school's biggest rival, and how, if he were president, somehow, that will make your team win the next time? definitely a contender, rudy.

"but all in all, we know that in junior high, just as in real life, all our candidates promise things they can't really deliver because ultimately, your principal and the school board decides, no, you can't have extra long recesses, and no, we can't get rid of uniforms, and no, we're not going to dedicate a period to nap time. so no matter who wins, things will remain exactly the way they are because america's school board says so. members include:
cheerful holiday banter, pt. 1.

when i was in college, after the holidays i'd always ask my classmates and friends how their vacation was. but to be more specific, i was usually asking, what did your white conservative asshole relatives have to say? most of the time, the answer came back the same: "well, you know, they usually mouthed off their opinions in front of everyone; i ate quietly, and left as soon as possible." i couldn't help but feel for my liberal friends, and i always wished that they, we, had more backbone.

i'm more or less the same way in the company of strangers. that's why, for the less articulate among us, i think it's important to have a script to carry around regarding issues that our drunk uncles, aunts, and grandparents are most likely going to bring up while stuffing themselves full of hormone-injected turkeys during the upcoming holidays. everything from why gay marriage is acceptable to why mexicans deserve to "steal" your, yes your job.

the scenario goes something like this:

someone talking: "there are too many mexicans in (insert name of your town here). i can't believe how many there are. i really hope our next president does something about all these mexicans coming in here, and taking over our jobs."

script: "well, (insert your favorite relative's name here), when you watch or read the news concerning "illegal immigration" (make sure you use hand quotes to be extra annoyingly liberal), do they ever talk about NAFTA?"

at this point, the answer could be yes or no. but either answer merits a full explanation of what NAFTA is. so, script continues here:

"it stands for the north american free trade agreement. do you understand what that means? (remember to throw in a bit of condescension just for good measure) alright, you don't. just imagine that i have a house across the street from you. obviously, i'm younger and better looking than you are, so my house would be a lot bigger and a lot nicer. instead of going to your job everyday, you'd get to work from home. and lucky for you, i would be your employer. everyday, i get to come to your house, and depending on my mood, i'd pay you what i feel like, but you shouldn't ever expect anything more than a nickel per day. and since i'm just going to assume that you're lazy and worthless to begin with, i'm going to keep two big armed guards by your side, who will make sure that you work from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m., and they'll get to (depending on relative's gender: have their way with/torture) you whenever they feel like. when i come by to give you your daily allowance, i'm also going to eat your food, burn your clothes, take a shit on your floor...well, you get the point. and last but not least, i'm going to make sure you have a good view of me and my home, so you can see all the great food i'm eating, the sweet ass mini cooper i ride around in, and all the crazy sex parties i'm having. if you try to cross the street and enter my home, i'll make sure the cops and my vigilante neighbors shoot you down."

after you say "shoot you down," make sure you stare your relative down for at least five minutes. let them know how truly crazy you've become over the years.
all of a sudden, i miss everyone.

i've had this thought for a while, and i've been meaning to write about it, but i never seem to get around to it.

i think what gets to me the most about school is that i literally spent everyday of my life for nine, and in some cases, 13 years, (and in even rarer cases, 17 years) seeing and talking to the same people day in and day out, and now, i never hear from any of them. it makes me wonder how i'm supposed to expect to create any sort of lasting friendships in the future.

i have no phone numbers, no email addresses. nothing.

but even if i did, i probably wouldn't get in contact with any of them anyway.

i'm kind of funny like that.
about exercising.

i've never been a fan. p.e. was great because we never really had to exercise. all i remember is doing stretches ("can you touch your toes"), and then playing some useless sport that we would've played at recess anyway. the only time we had to physically "exert" ourselves was when it came to the presidential fitness challenge. then we were forced to see how many sit-ups, chin-ups, and how long it would take us to run a mile. the answer was usually zero, zero, and forever, since, you know, all we ever did was play indoor soccer with nerf balls, or else play with the big multi-colored parachute.

i played soccer. i don't know if i liked it or not. or if i was any good. i just did it because what else are third and fourth grade boys to do? mr. martin made us run like crazy. he would do this thing where we'd all run around the field in a single file, and then whenever he'd blow the whistle, the person at the front of the line had to run all the way around to get to the end of the line. it was the most work i've ever had to do, and i hated it. i'd purposefully show up late to soccer practice to avoid it, and when that didn't work, i would get nose bleeds. if i ever got too hot, or if i just crinkled my nose a certain way, it would be bleed. and then i would get to sit out. what a lazy SOB, huh?

when i got too tall, mr. martin made me play fullback. i hated fullback because i knew i'd never get a chance to score a goal. but on the plus side, it meant i got to lounge around by our goal and kick the ball as hard as i could. that's kind of the way i am. no work. just something explosive every now and then. when i kicked the ball the wrong way at a game once, mr. martin yelled "james! out!" and my mom interpreted it was though he was pulling me out of the game. in actuality, he meant to kick the ball out of bounds, but you know, my mom wasn't really into sports. she took me off the team to spite mr. martin, which pretty much ended my soccer career.

i didn't have to run much again until i got to high school. p.e. was a little more laborious, as mr. hastie would make us run at the beginning of every first period.

i didn't do anything until college. meagan decided she wanted to go running, so i thought, what the hell. let's see what kind of shape i'm in. the answer came when i started panting after my first lap around a baseball field, and kept repeating, "i think i'm gonna throw up." all i could envision was the chicken alfredo i had consumed for the past couple of weeks, and how i had always, always washed it down with a bottle of sierra mist. meagan pointed to her water bottle. "your body needs this. not sierra mist." i don't think i drank sierra mist again after that. but i still ate my chicken alfredo. it was just that good.

during my second year of americorps, i'd sometimes go to the gym. meagan and rachel would sometimes be allowed to bring a guest to the gym with them, so, being the opportunist that i am, i checked it out. turns out i like running at less than 4 mph, and usually to explosions in the sky's the earth is not a cold dead place. it's really a perfect soundtrack for running. just when you feel like you're too tired, and you want to give up, the loud shit happens.

i found out that another one of my S.I. classmates got married recently. i can't imagine getting married at 24. but people go to war and die at 17. that's even more fucked up.

i hate looking at myspace and seeing how everyone posts pictures from some party. or reading about where they work, the people they know, the music they listen to, the books they read. it's all just one giant advertisement. i used to have one. i still have a facebook, though i don't know why. i guess minimal cyber-interaction via posting on a wall is better than no interaction at all.
just to remember the good old days.

there were some things i wanted to talk about that i can't really remember too well. i watched before sunrise and before sunset, though, so i feel kind of talked out, even though i haven't said a word. i keep hearing about this idea in richard linklater's films that all of life is, or becomes (obviously), just a memory from our death beds. i was thinking about that a lot last night. how i can just lie in bed at home, and think that everything i've done - school, work, relationships with people - could all just be a dream. it's scary and liberating all at once. and just before i shut my eyes, i can imagine that i'm 5, or 55, and everything is more or less the same. i guess john lennon had that same thought when he wrote, "nothing's gonna change my world," but then again, he got shot, so who knows what the hell he's thinking now.

i've been reading stephen colbert's i am american (and so can you!) and it's making me feel a lot better about everything.

at some point, i knew how to take action. if i liked a girl, i asked her to come study with me. if class was boring me, i re-directed the conversation. if i felt like doing something, i called someone up. things never just fell into my lap. i had to go after them. i don't know what made it so easy to "carpe diem." maybe it was my awful roommate and his love of eminem and the temptations ( a strange combination, i know), and his big pile of dirty soccer clothes that he washed once a quarter. the way he would come up to me like the eager schoolboy he was to tell me about his latest encounter with the love of his life, stephanie. the way i knew stephanie was just not that into him. during this phase of "knowing things," i told stephanie that my roommate really liked her, and that she should just let him know where all of this is heading. i know it was stupid to do, and that it wasn't my place to intervene, but come on. i was literally drama-free for four years in high school, so just give me this one. plus, i was tired of listening to him talk about how he pushed her in the hallway, or how she threw her book at him or something. it was all so juvenile. but then again, who am i to talk. stephanie said she would have a serious talk with him about it. i didn't really pay any attention to how the rest of that played out.

i think that all i'm trying to say is that i have to be really dissatisfied with how things are going before i can actually do something. kind of like how alcoholics and druggies need to hit rock bottom before any kind of healing. but i've never been either, so i don't really know. this is all just an experiment. it's what life is anyway. just trying shit out, and if it works, it works. if it doesn't, move on. i've been pretty good about not complaining lately, i think. for the moment, and maybe just for today, i've at least stopped trying to think that i should be doing something else. if you're always trying to better your situation, which is the american way, then how can you ever be truly present and enjoy what you're doing right now? no matter how shitty things are, and even how worse they can get, there's always something worth laughing or thinking about.

i probably read this somewhere, but i only remember my mom telling me about it. it's about these two guys in a hospital after world war II. they're separated by a giant curtain, and both are immobile. the first soldier asks the other to tell him if he has a good view. "the view is wonderful," the other soldier says. "there's flowers everywhere, and children playing in the street." everyday, the soldier with the great view tells the other soldier about the things that he sees, and the soldier without a view is able to relish these images of the outside world he one day hopes to return to. when he's finally able to walk again, he gets up to visit his neighbor next to the window, only to find that the soldier who has been telling him about this miraculous outside world has bandages wrapped all over his eyes and around his head, and there is no window. just a brick wall.
i didn't want anything more to do
with the outside world.

sometimes i blog just because i really hate what i've written in the previous entry, and i'd like to make it disappear to the next page as quickly as possible.

i had a dream last night that i was in elementary school again. but this time, i was actually young and everyone else was young, too. not like those recurring dreams where i'm all grown up, i've finished college, and i'm stuck there and i can't figure out why. in this one, i was probably in fourth grade because it had to do with confession. we all had to walk down that middle aisle at st. ignatius, confess our sins to a priest and then stand before the entire congregation. i didn't want to do it, and i knew we had the option of just walking to the front, making the sign of the cross, and walking away, so that's what i did. but as i was making my u-turn, b.j. nativo, the little emotional fat boy in class, looked me dead in the eye, and called me a "sinner."

b.j. once called our science teacher, mrs. mangino, a "motherfucker," and then ran away. i guess whenever b.j. felt insulted, or whenever he just felt like being alone, he would run away. staff would always find him sitting by himself in the parking lot, or else wandering around the field.

from half nelson:
teacher: "you don't see other students coming up to my car and talking to me, do you? i'm your teacher. i'm not your friend. i just want to be left alone, alright?"
girl: "fine. be alone then. asshole."
teacher (rolls up window): "bitch."

in college, i thought that what i was learning was going to help me change the world. but once i got out, it was much bigger than i expected.
the kids keep me focused.

i couldn't be a cop because i didn't wanna get shot.
i couldn't be a lawyer because i was told to never lie.
i couldn't be a doctor because ten years of school sounded like a long, long time.
i couldn't be a garbageman because i couldn't stand the smell.
i couldn't be a teacher because i didn't know a damn thing myself.
i couldn't be a poet because i wanted to make a living.
i couldn't be a mail carrier because of the phrase "going postal."
i couldn't be a priest because celibacy is scary.
i couldn't be a salesman because capitalism is a dead dog.
i couldn't be a musician because i got stage fright.
i couldn't be a druggie because rehab is costly.
i couldn't be a bum because my parents always had some money.
i couldn't be myself because i kept reminding myself of all the things
i couldn't do.

that was supposed to be funny, but it turned out to be like some cheesy thing someone would read on a spiritual retreat.

this one for the fortune cookie: "things would be a lot better if you weren't so worried about looking stupid."

i watched half nelson and now i really wish i had just taken up drugs while i was teaching. that's really the only way i would've survived this year - smoking crack in an empty girls' locker room. broken social scene played during almost every scene, so it made it that much more enjoyable. why are all my heroes always fucked up loners?

driving to work today, i wished for something dramatic to happen. i'm not wishing for anything negative or tragic - just something to shake me up a little. i don't know what i'm looking for.
that's what she said.

these days, i usually wake up at a reasonable hour, say, 9:35-ish. but then i remember i have nothing to do, nowhere to be, so i just go back to sleep. and then it's usually nothing earlier than 11 a.m. i'm all hazy, and sometimes i convince myself i'm in the initial phase of glaucoma, if there is an initial phase. i've been eating peace cereal every morning, a habit i've kept up since i received food stamps last year. from there, it's usually mind-numbing internet browsing. i'm sure there's a place where i could get paid to browse the internet in a mindless stupor. somebody hook me up with a state job already.

yesterday, the library clerk seemed a little annoyed that i directly brought her two dvds that i needed to return, so that i could check out five total. "you know, you could just drop these off in the drop box." "i know," i told her, "but last time they didn't let me check out five because i dropped two off in the box." this was a complete lie, and i don't know why it came out of me. the only explanation is that i'm forgetting how to talk. "well, normally if you just tell us you dropped them off, you'll be fine." that's exactly what i did last time, and exactly how it happened. so why did i lie? then, she got doubly annoyed when she found out how many dvds i had on hold. she brought nearly a dozen to the counter. "i would suggest that you don't request any more dvds until you pick these up." i wanted to say, "no. it's a free country and i'll request all the dvds i want, and maybe i've got requests sitting at other branches, and who the hell are you, you're just a library clerk who's part-time and on call, and who makes less than $13 an hour, i would know because i've applied, but they haven't called me back yet, so fuck them and fuck you," but instead, i said, "alright."

my favorite library clerk wouldn't have given me so much shit. that's why she's my favorite library clerk. she would only tell me things like, "oh, you're checking out stephen colbert's book. i read it. it's hilarious." or, "you have a great and unique taste in films." and then she would recommend some old movies, and say, "thank you" when she handed me my borrowed goods.

when i wasn't working, i would wear my pajama pants all day and sometimes i wouldn't leave the house. my mom would call me ignatius j. reilly. i wish. to have his level of disregard for all of society borders on genius.

but the difference now is that i put on real pants, or sometimes jeans, and i go to a big, well-lit office to correct sentences written by 3rd-5th grade ELD students. for one prompt featuring a girl riding a scooter, one of the kids wrote, "the gole."

i finally talked to one of my co-workers other than gina. it was this guy named kevin sakamoto, who had to have been 25 or over. "i don't know about this," he told me, right before break was over. "i'm like, 'what did i get myself into?'" "do you have a day job, too?" i asked him. "no, this is it. i'm kind of in an in-between period. i'm waiting for my bar results. and the holidays are coming up, so i figured, it would be nice to have some extra cash." i asked where he went to law school. "mcgeorge," he said. thinking it was some prestigious school on the east coast, i asked him where it was. "oak park," he said. "it's in the ghetto."

gina, rich, and i watched the office in hd. afterwards, i was hoping either journey's video was back, or that comcast had added trace adkin's stupid video to on demand. no luck for either. instead, we played music. i tried to teach gina a bass line, but she gave up just as easily as she would playing guitar hero III on easy. then i showed her how to get food stamps.

my day isn't done until i've shown a lazy person - and this includes myself - how to get by.
the girl is riding a scooter
with her knee pads and helmet.

i think the worst part about working again is not being able to start my entry with, "i did nothing today." even though it feels like i've accomplished nothing, and in actuality, have done nothing, i still went to work and sat at a computer for a solid four hours. i'm really glad i signed up for the night shift, though. there's no way i could survive a seven hour day shift at this place.

they finally tested us today, and they started eliminating people. luckily (unluckily?), i wasn't one of them. since i finished my first round of testing early, i had an extended break. i went to the cafeteria just to see what they had. i filled up a cup of water and read a july issue of entertainment weekly which featured an article on michael moore. i was hoping some older person might see me doing this and try to talk to me about how awful our country is, but no such luck. a black woman said, "hey there, how are you?" and i thought she was talking to me, so i looked up, said, "good, how are you?" and she looked at me and said, "good." then another black woman appeared from behind me and i realized she wasn't talking to me at all. when she was alone again, i tried to not seem so dumb for acting like she had addressed me earlier. "what time are we supposed to be back?" i asked. she looked annoyed. "we usually get fifteen minutes," she said. "oh, are you not training?" i asked. "no. you're probably on a different schedule." i used it as my opportunity to get the hell out of there. "i'd better go check," i said, before leaving.

i went to the front of the building, wishing i smoked. instead, i called meagan and then played snowball fight on my phone. gina showed up. she asked me how i liked it so far, and i all i could say was, "it's nice to know i'm getting $10 an hour just to sit there." "yeah," she said, "it gets kind of repetitive, though." i asked her if she usually goes anywhere on her break. "no. i'm a loner," she said. "i just go to my car and listen to the radio." she asked me how my library media technician interview went, and i told her i hadn't heard back yet. "will you move to watsonville if you get it?" "yeah," i told her. "i probably will."

when i filled my car up at the shell station, i had that terrible thought i usually have when i watch the numbers going up. there goes one hour of work. there's two. almost three. for fuck's sake.
she is riding a bugaboo.

today was my first day of part-time, temporary, night-shift "work," grading papers. there were 120 of us, and we were all herded into this giant room filled with rows and rows of computers. my first night of training only reaffirmed my belief that all standardized tests are useless. i can't believe how much money and time goes into scoring a child's ability to write "the boys are playing music." that, by the way, would score only a 2 out of 3, since, by california state standards, it's not "complex" enough. to earn a 3, one would have to say, "the boys are playing their instruments."

basically, students have to write a sentence based on a picture. what really struck me, though, was that california decided "in a band" is so "commonly used" that it would have to be considered "not complex enough," and the student would only earn a 2.

meagan once told me, and i agreed with her on this, that it's scary to think some people have dedicated their entire lives to such idiocy, to such a waste of time. she said this in reference to the woman who gave our americorps group a presentation on the meyers-briggs test, the same woman who admitted that she does this on a regular basis.

but randy, our trainer, or manager (whatever the fuck you want to call him) for the night didn't really strike me as someone who really devoted himself to this, even though he said he's been doing it since before 2001. he kept joking about leaving early, and once, while talking about the whole "in a band" being overused, he said, "you know, the kid puts it down. it's too bad, but what can you do. i just score it, and later, a paycheck comes."

the only requirement to work at this place is that you have a college degree. this struck me as odd, since randy had to spell out a lot of things. like "scooter." or "trombone." maybe people were fucking with him, asking him to repeat the correct spellings, but then again, you have to remember that all of this is taking place on the old mather air force base.

to pass the time, i played with my fingernails and watched the screensaver change colors and shapes.

i think everyone there agrees that standardized tests are ridiculous, and what's even more ludicrous is that we're being paid $10 an hour to score a third grade ELD student's ability to form a single sentence. but, whatever. you just quell those thoughts, and sooner or later, a paycheck arrives.
too many of those punk rock kids,
trying to ruin everything.

what did the bird say when it flew over k-mart? "cheap! cheap!"

back in the day, we always made fun of k-mart. i don't know how the k-mart jokes got started. but if you bought your clothes from k-mart, you were poor. it wasn't cool to shop at k-mart. what was the big deal about k-mart?

i used to make prank calls with my cousins. one of the calls we would make would go something like this:

caller: "hello?"
me, or one of my cousins: "blue light special at k-mart! aisle seven, panty hose on sale! blue light special, blue light special!"
and then we'd hang up, laughing our asses off.

until one day, it was my turn to call. usually the caller didn't dial. it was sort of a ritual, psyching yourself out, or else getting into character. the other person present would dial some random seven digit number, or get a random number out of the phone book. so claire dialed, and i made my usual k-mart blue light special call. claire laughed a little too hard, a little too long that one time, so i asked what the hell was going on. "that was your mom!" she screamed. i was really pissed. that was the last crank call i would make, at least for the day.

the only other time i got really mad at claire was when she "helped" me with my baseball card sale. basically, rich or i would usually set up a table at the rosemont house driveway, and try to make money from the baseball cards we had. the driveway was perfect, since it's located on the corner, and a lot of people would stop by. anyway, claire said she would help me sell some cards, if i would split the money 50/50 with her. i wasn't much of salesman, so i said okay. when our first customer came, she ran into the house. it was a boy, a little older than me, and he started looking at my cards. "loser!" claire called from behind the screen door. the boy looked up. he ignored it, then continued looking at the cards. "what a nerd!" claire exclaimed. the boy left. if i remember right, she pulled the same routine with the few remaining customers of the day. at the end of the day, despite claire's heckling, i made a few dollars, and i refused to share any of the money with her, since all she did was drive customers away. she told on me, and my grandma was pissed. i ended up sharing the money with her.

one time my cousin francis was driving me and a bunch of family to reno. it was raining on a zig-zag path, and i looked at the speedometer. he was going 90. i was afraid that my recurring dream of falling off a cliff inside my parents' van was going to come true. uncle nestor, i think, told him to slow down. so he went 75 or 80 instead. i can't remember. i didn't (and still don't) really have much to talk about with francis, since he liked sports and i liked sitting at home, listening to depressing records. we did, however, have circus circus in common. being too old to actually go there and play games, we just talked about how it used to be cool, how it used to be fun. like the throwing the whiffle ball in the barrel game. or shooting down pepsi cans with a cork gun. or smacking a catapult with a hammer, sending a rubber chicken sailing into clockwise rotating pots. we talked about how it was cool when they would have a show at circus circus, and those motorcyclists would criss-cross each other in a steel caged ball. "yeah, circus circus was really good," he said, "but now it's different. too many of those punk rock kids try to ruin everything."

i meant to blog about k-mart, and then go into something about thrift stores. sorry for the tangent. since i refuse to edit anything, you'll just have to follow along.

i started going to thrift stores right before college. i never really liked buying clothes, but when i found out i could find awesome shit, like vintage cardigans for less than a dollar, i was pretty excited. i usually went for the same old thing. old, 80's-style striped polo shirts, and vintage t-shirts that looked cool, or said something stupid and/or weird on them. and track jackets. how i loved the track jackets. my first favorite track jacket was a green one that i found at world thrift. i think that was the name of the store. anyway, my tower co-worker bronwyn really liked it, and asked if she could have it. i said she could, but only because she was going to her homeland, ireland, and there was something cool about knowing my favorite green track jacket was going to ireland. i told her to give it back to me after the trip, but she seemed so happy to have it that i couldn't ask for it back. i had found some other track jackets by then, anyway.

rich and i would usually hit up a store called teen thrift challenge on folsom blvd. the fat woman who always sold us shit always said, "two dollars." we made fun of her, and how cheap it was to buy things there. brand new car? two dollars. how much for this rifle? two dollars. two dollars. two dollars.

when i got to seattle, all the thrift stores weren't really thrift stores. they were more like consignment shops that sold the same shit sacramento did, but the latter was too lame to know it could make a real profit off the junk they had. sacramento didn't, and never really did, know that vintage was "cool." i saw my same striped polo shirts and track jackets sold almost always over $10. i just waited to go home to buy "new" clothes again.

here's a list of some of my best finds (not including the things i took from the thrift store i worked in):

- the umbrellas of cherbourg lp original motion picture soundtrack, $0.50 (salvation army, sacto.)
- valley of the dolls lp original motion picture soundtrack, $0.50 (salvation army, sacto.)
- mermaid avenue, vol. 1 cd by billy bragg & wilco, $1.99 (goodwill, seattle)
- heroes cd by david bowie, $1.99 (goodwill, seattle)
- banana republic black leather loafers, $2.99 (goodwill, seattle)
- baby blue smith-corona manual typewriter, $6.99 (teen challenge, sacto.)

what a boring list. thrift stores are cool. that's the only point i'm trying to make.
jamie has eyes black and shiny as boots.

i thought about micro machines today. i used to collect them, even though i found the commercials annoying. it always featured that guy who talked really fast, and he'd end each commercial with, "micro machines from bandai." i didn't understand the connection between speed talking and miniature-sized cars. i had a bunch of those things. one christmas my mom even got me the jumbo jet that transformed into a micro machine airport. i didn't get why it transformed into a jumbo jet, but it was fun for maybe two minutes running the cars up and down the streets with my fingers. after watching home alone i used micro machines to set up a booby trap by our front door. my dad stepped on a few, and told me to clean it up.

i wonder where all my shit went. all my micro-machines, my ninja turtles, a blow-up space shuttle, sunglasses, coke bottles, papers from grade school. is it all just sitting in dump somewhere? it bothers me to think that something that used to bring me joy, no matter how short-lived or unimportant it was, is now just rotting away with everyone else's junk. that's why i'm trying not to collect anything now. so i don't have to think about where it all goes.

when we were kids we did something called potion-potion. basically, we found all kinds of things under the sink and in the medicine cabinet, and dumped it all together in the sink. everything went in there: perfume, baby powder, shampoo, conditioner, ajax, you name it. and then we'd stir it all up with the end of a toothbrush, or else a q-tip. sometimes we would rock-paper-scissor each other to see who would have to unplug the drain. when i tell people about this today, they usually say, "that's really dangerous."

today, i added another layer to my compost pile - pine needles that i raked up.

a fat cat sat on the fence for a long time. i watched him and i thought to myself, "king of the castle."
and there's no driver at the wheel.
when i was in school, teachers used to warn us about "flashers." i was glad i never had to walk home. i imagined a creepy old bearded man with a gold tooth who would wear a yellow rain coat with matching hat, and who would wait just around the corner to reveal his naked, shriveled body to us children. but then i wondered about hot, older female flashers. did they exist?

another time a drug "expert" came to visit our second grade class to show us drugs, obviously so we knew what the good shit looked like when we would try to score a decade later. she brought in a bag of white johnson & johnson's baby powder, or maybe it was arm & hammer baking soda, and told us it was cocaine. maybe it really was coke, but then again, i couldn't imagine where a fat old broad could score coke in the sacramento suburbs. i think she showed us "heroin" too, but all i remembered seeing was a syringe. and finally, the good stuff: marijuana. "also known as 'reefer,'" she said. she lit it, so we could know what it smelled like, and my nose bled. i had to go see the secretary, vicky isaacson, so she could stop the bleeding. she always took care of my nose bleeds. i'm pretty sure my sensitive nose is what kept her employed.

in third of fourth grade, (it had to have been after street fighter II was released for super nintendo, otherwise mike meissner wouldn't have known what a "roundhouse" was) a karate expert visited our class and showed us some super kicks and punches. i think he broke a block of wood, too. we were all impressed, since violence was cool. mike meissner asked if he could do a roundhouse. the guy said he could, but he needed a lot of room. "do it outside!" someone yelled. the karate guy gave our teacher a look, and our teacher said that's enough. the guy left, and we didn't get to see our sweet ass roundhouse.

my mom made me take spanish lessons after school on tuesdays. some mexican woman offered it to us kids. i hated going because i was the only boy there, and i was older than everyone. the three or four other girls were in kindergarten or first grade, and i felt out of place. i didn't learn any spanish. i could count to twenty at one point, but that was it. all i remember are the little cartoon playing cards that had pictures of the spanish word underneath them. like "el diablo" and "sol."

there was a girl in our class named kristen schiber-anderson, and she ate glue, crayons, and any other school supplies we had. in the first grade, she had to leave class early once. "what's wrong, kristen? is everything okay?" ms. rice asked her. "yes," kristen said. "we're just going to see a movie." ms. rice looked disappointed. "oh. well, tell your mom that that's not a good reason to be leaving school." kristen said "okay," smiled, and left.

this other kid, elliott, liked telling us stories. like how this one time his brother's friends and him said "bloody mary" ten times at night in front of a dark mirror, and how his brother's friend got all scratched up because that's what bloody mary does, she scratches you with her long, red fingernails. he was in the hospital for a week. i believed elliott until recess was over.

there was a priest named father monaghan. he presided over my parents' marriage. and then when i was in third or fourth grade, he was accused of molesting some of the 8th grade girls. since my cousin claire was in eighth grade, i asked her about it. "some girls would take rides with him," she said, "and he would ask weird things, like 'what's your bra size?'" i imagined some of the girls like jenny driggs and kim rossiter sitting in his car, getting weirded out about having to answer him. a little while later, he had to leave the school.

in computer class, we would use old green screen macintoshes to help us with our typing. they only had one typing program and it featured peanuts characters playing sports. like charlie brown would be bowling, or else shooting a basket, and you had to type a word like "character" in under ten seconds or he would roll a gutterball or throw up a brick. i liked that game. when we got older, we got to play in color. the only game they had was the oregon trail, so whenever we finished our typing assignment, we played. in the beginning, you get to create character names. and so of course cocksucker would die of malaria. and motherfucker would die of cholera. here lies dipshit, R.I.P. and if the river was less than six feet deep, you could usually fork it without losing anything. sometimes you paid an indian to get across. a few of my classmates were able to beat the game in class. i don't know how they did it, but they did. for the grand finale, you sailed down a rocky river, and you had to dodge large bolders, otherwise all your characters would die, and you would lose all your oxen.

around that age, we used to play cops & robbers. i always liked being a robber. even though we didn't steal anything, it was just fun to be labeled the villain. we couldn't use any toy guns for obvious reasons, so we made L's with our hands and played dead if we didn't get the first shot off. i always hated it when the guy i shot wouldn't go down. he would just stand there, and say you didn't get me. that's when i knew i was getting too old for cops & robbers.
we haven't located us yet.

i watched cache this afternoon with my mom. it was good, creepy, but the ending was a letdown. it's one of those movies where you expect some shit to go down, but...well, i don't want to ruin it.

the hbo show the wire is kind of like that. you're expecting gun shots and explosions in every scene, but all you get is reality: a lot of paperwork and men shuffling their feet, acting tough, and swearing. it's a good show, though. i can say that after watching all of season 1 in the span of a week.

other shows that i've been able to endure the entire series practically all in one sitting include six feet under and homicide. it's a lot of death, now that i think about it.

i got another check from folsom cordova unified school district today. they've been paying me a small amount, even though i quit back in august. i'll probably have to tell them soon. damn it.

something i wanted to add: at the crow's nest (capitola comedy club), right before the first comedian, i told aimee, "i hate this waiting period." "you mean," she said, "right before a show?" "no," i told her, "more just like in life."