the bridge.


the bridge is just too goddamn awful and horrifying to write about.
picking up the kids.

every now and then, my aunt asks me to pick up my cousins from school. i don't really like doing it, since being anywhere around that school just brings back bad feelings and memories, but family is family, so i do it anyway.

it's easy to understand why i didn't like it there. it's funny because i see it in my cousin's faces now, too. how dejected and tired they are, come 3 o'clock. on any given weekend, a holiday, they're just bursting with life - ready to sing, ready to run around until they pass out, ready to throw rocks at cars. okay, they don't really do that. but still, you get the point. why do people want to send their kids to these schools? to be taught by ignorant, old white people who think they know everything. it doesn't make any sense.

it hasn't really hit the youngest one yet. i think it's because they really aren't "learning" anything yet. not in the third grade. by then, i imagine that they are (and that we were) gluing popsicle sticks together all day and reading crazy stories by roald dahl and judy blume, crazy stories that could've only been written by crazy, pcp-addicted high school dropouts. but then sixth grade rolls around, and it's drill & kill. vocab, math, religion (ha! are/were they serious?), science. i remember history lessons and history tests. some of the most boring, life-sucking lessons ever.

no wonder those kids look the way they do after school.
complaint.


last night, wooderson's jam session was abruptly ended for the first time in our existence (7 years of rocking rosemont) by something other than our boredom, fatigue, or lack of songs to play. that's right. a neighbor complained. i had just finished playing my new song, "tim tan," only the third time i've played it, but for some reason, the feedback became insanely loud. and then there was a knock on the door.

neighbor: "do you guys think you could keep it down?"
rich bitch: "oh yeah. i'm so sorry."
neighbor: "yeah, it's just that, we've got an interview in the morning."
rich bitch: "no problem. sorry about that."
neighbor: "our windows were rattling."

good, considerate citizens that we are, we stopped playing. but not before likening the complainer to will farrell's character in old school. "got a big day tomorrow. we're goin' to home depot. gonna look at some wallpaper. maybe go to bed bath & beyond. i don't know if we'll have enough time."
girls with short hair/
an apology to kendall.


i received word that an old classmate stumbled upon this poor excuse for an online autobiography, or, conversely, as some critics might put it, "the best damn thing since anne frank." anyway, i found the old entry, the only time i mention her, and i felt bad for my remark, using the adjective "tomboyish" to describe her. the only reason she earned that adjective, that title, is because she wore her hair short in grade school. and, like a preteen trying to listen to sleater-kinney's first record, we just weren't ready for it. also, she dominated all sports, and could easily emasculate any of us boys with a simple glare.

for some reason, around second grade or so, i thought we were going to be good friends. she started hanging around me and edgar, god knows why. it was at this point that edgar had stumbled upon either his dad's, or else his older cousin's stash of pornography (mostly penthouse and playboy magazines), and he had the gall to actually put them in his pee-chee folder, and share them with us at recess, behind the bushes, by the newly built orange and blue playground. kendall and i were shocked. but i even more so, since here was this girl, looking at a completely nude woman with enormous breasts, and she wasn't even going to tell on edgar or me. she just got wide-eyed and probably giggled or something.

later on, though, someone must've told her it wasn't socially acceptable to be hanging out with two filipino boys who spent their time hiding in bushes, browsing through crumpled photos. she should probably jump rope, play hopscotch, wall-ball, or tetherball or something, instead. there were boys, after all, who needed to be shown a thing or two about a thing or two, and girls who needed her to conform, to grow her hair long, and put on nail polish, and wear skirts instead of pants, and talk about - not join - the boys wrestling in the dirt, who weren't nearly as impressive.

idabel from other voices, other rooms. how cool is that. we should've been better friends.
the scariest thing.


the scariest thing about all of this is that i could probably do nothing for the remainder of my life. i told pirg to cancel my interview. i'm purposely sabotaging myself. who wants to work a 55-60 work week anyway, even if it is for a "good cause?" i'm sick of nonprofits and their inability to do anything. i hate it when people tell me, "oh, you don't want to work there. that would be a boring job." all work is boring, stupid. i might as well just have gone to sac state, gotten a student assistant job, got my degree and sat at a computer for the rest of eternity. anyone who's out there looking for their "dream" job, or something exciting and fascinating, good luck. be on the lookout for the holy grail and unicorns and leprechauns while you're at it.

i'm not even worried about finding work anymore, or looking into grad school programs. i tell people i'm doing that, but mostly it's just to get them off my case. here's a twenty-four hour sample of what my days have actually become:

2 am - 12 pm: asleep
12 pm - 2 pm: computer, email, looking for jobs i have no interest in interviewing for
2 pm - 4 pm: guitar, reading, biking
4 pm - 5 pm: shoot sam in the face with nerf gun
5 pm - 6 pm: flipping channels, wondering when the hell reruns of seinfeld or the simpsons air
6 pm - 7 pm: watch downloaded movie (real movies only enjoyed in morning for matinee prices)
7pm - 9 pm: guitar, blogging, reading, finding things to get rid of/sell
9 pm - 11 pm: computer, email, looking to see if new jobs have been posted
11 pm - 12 pm: a daily show & colbert report
12 pm - 2 am: jam session, watch downloaded movie, music videos

in there, sometimes there's a nap, there's often something to eat, and there's a little more tv and a little more internet than i'd care to admit.

so there's a solution, right? go out, go make some friends. try a little harder at getting a job and make some money. make a living. get on your own two feet again, right? you're still young, there's plenty of time, you might say. take a shower, dress up a little bit, shave that dirty mustache for god's sake, and hit up the clubs. buy some random woman a drink. go back to school. grow up, you must be thinking, grow the fuck up. do something, do anything. stop wallowing in your self-pity, your horrible mess. volunteer. stop turning on your computer every ten minutes. stop driving you and everyone else mad with this nonsense. move away, travel. stop blaming the media, your family, your friends for what's happened to you. things could be worse, right?

thing could always be worse.
one day you're in; the next, you're out.


i'm making it official: amoeba records is a shitty record store. just a few years ago, their used prices started rising to $8.99, $9.99, and pretty soon i saw used cd's going for $12.99. a used disc. keep in mind, you can download that same album (free, of course - rules don't apply on the internet), burn it on a disc that comes with 49 other discs for $12.99 and make 50 copies of that same piece of crap. but other than that, amoeba's workers are rude, obnoxious, and pretentious. the last time i was there, a clerk, who was positioned at the farthest possible cash register (probably 15 + yards from where i was standing) called to me multiple times. obviously, i didn't hear the long-haired dickhead. so, when i finally noticed him waving me over, he was a real dick. here's how that scene played out:

l.h.d. (grunting): ...
me (handing over my vinyl): do you guys validate?
l.h.d. (sighs, rolls his eyes): yeah. we do that later (flicks parking ticket back at me).
me: ...

we didn't say anything else. he made it pretty clear by manhandling my records and grunting and slamming things down that he was pretty upset that i didn't hear him, and that he had to call over to me one too many times.

and last night, i had to deal with the pretentious, geeky, wannabe-artist type. here's how that went:

me: can i get cash back?
p.g.w.a.s. (sounding like kip from napoleon dynamite): sooo-ryyy.
me: ...
p.g.w.a.s. (handing me jukebox): here you are. thank youuu.

in tagalog, there's a word that perfectly describes these lame, pasty hipsters: arte. it means that someone's being a big drama queen, being a big, dumb actor. that's the only way to describe the people who work there.

that being said, here's an updated list of the greatest west coast record stores (in my opinion):

5. half price books (seattle)
4. streetlight (santa cruz)
3. dimple (sac, davis, roseville, folsom)
2. rasputin's (vallejo, berkeley, sf, san jose)
1. easy street (seattle, west seattle)

yes, i miss easy street and ripping them off. while this works at any record store, easy street was really casual about it. say you buy a cd and it's a piece of crap. now, the rule is, once it's opened, you can't return it. the only exception is when it's defective. so lying about its defectiveness is the only way to get it back to the shitty company where it belongs. so you take it in, say it's defective. technically, you're not lying. one black man, a customer at tower records, summed up this scenario best when he told me, "it's defective to my ears." here's the other thing, before you go in to return the janky cd you bought, make sure you hide the other copies. because once you say it's defective, the clerks will try to get you the exact same copy. so hide that other shit. put those copies where no one else will find them. file them under engelbert humperdinck. then proceed with plan. when they can't find the same copy, they'll be forced to give you store credit. then you can buy another janky cd to burn.

in the case that you lose your receipt, all you have to say is those four magic words: "it was a gift." those four words will allow you to return anything you own. join the phrase "it was a gift," plus "it's defective," and suddenly, you're unstoppable.

the beautiful thing about easy street is that they don't open cds in front of you. clerks in other stores will do that under the guise of, "we want to make sure this one isn't defective, too," but really, they do it so that you can't return something and get your money back. easy street will also give you a stamp each time you buy something. so, return 15 cds (that remastered bob dylan box set will do the trick) and get one free. note: the free one isn't returnable.

to most, this probably sounds petty and juvenile. but then again, so is participating. you decide.
milf-a-monte/apartment hunter.


the rich bitch received his eviction notice verbally just this past week, and so we've been scoping out places where he might store his neverending supply of maxim magazines. i've only accompanied him on three visits to random apartment complexes, but so far, it's been...well, something to do.

the first place we visited was a place in rancho cordova, right next to the old music connection, which apparently closed down at some point. the landlord took a while to get to the door, and the outside lights weren't working. also, it was raining. "what is she?" i asked, "vietnamese?" "no," he said. "i don't think vietnamese. she's umm, i don't know. not american." finally, she opened her door, and she was all set to show us the 2 bed, 2 bath. "it's number 9," she said. she led us two rooms over and tried opening the door with her set of dungeon keys. she tried another. i might also add that it was pouring rain outside, and here's this 'un-american' woman, fumbling to open a door that's just two away from her own. she tries for about two minutes, while mumbling, "no, not those," until finally, she just stops. "i'll just show you number 8," she said. so we follow her next door to number 8. but on the way to number 8, she steps in a puddle and groans. "ughhh," she says, and looks at her foot, all dirty and soaked. she shakes her head like she's going to lose it, then looks at the rich bitch and says, "come back to tomorrow. it's just a bad day. i'll show you tomorrow." we shrug and leave.

in the car, i say, "what the fuck was that?" we have a good laugh over it. "her stupid hours are 4 pm - 7 pm. the weirdest hours, and she can't even show us a room!"

on friday, we try two places in natomas. apparently, these apartment management creeps like hiring girls in their thirties, who, in turn, have to act and dress like they're still in high school. i theorized that they do this to entice single young men into visualizing what it might be like to have a decent-looking woman in his bedroom. not that there's anything wrong with that. well, maybe there is.

we read reviews online for the miraamonte trovas, and it scored a whopping 21%. the only positive reviews were obviously written by management. here's an example of a "positive" review, written by "anonymous":

subject: FANTASTIC MANAGEMENT

"My experience with Miramonte/Trovas apartments has been nothing but fantastic. Group Interland Management has done a wonderul job coming in and taking over this property. Many residents may be experiencing some angst or frustration with the new staff, but due to no fault of this company. I'm not sure if you realize what these girls had to take on when this property was taken over...FPI left it a mess. As to the people requesting copies of leases, or work order requests, parking frustrations etc...have a little patience. The girls in the office are cleaning up a huge mess left behind by prior management, coming into a property with files scattered all around the office, people showing up to move in with no move in file. This was in no way Interlands fault. Most residents would know this had they taken the time to go to the office and see what all this company is about and what they have to offer. This is a beautiful community, with an amazing staff and killer rent specials...definitely worth looking into. As for the comments about the office staff being ditzy and bimbos...grow up and act your age."

hilarious. did they actually think that some random renter would write such a glorifying review regarding management? to be honest, i did buy it for a second. i like to buy these fantastic stories where employees actually write letters of recommendation for their boss, students praise their teachers, etc. in my fragile state, i'm pretty gullible. that is, until i read the comment below, posted by zrwolf14:

"Wow...I wish the people who worked at Miramonte-Trovas spent more time responding to maintanance concerns and other resident issues, and less time writing reviews of themselves. This is absolutely the worst place I have ever lived. The staff is unresponsive to residents at best, and more often rude. To anyone considering living here, I would strongly recommend going elsewhere. Read any 'honest' reviews posted and you will get a good sense of how awful this place is. I can't wait until my lease is up."

i think this is funny. if you don't, you have no sense of humor. just imagine this poor, dumb woman in her thirties, renting out apartments in natomas, dressed like she's about to hit the clubs with lindsay lohan, and then googling her own place of employment, realizing that all her tenants hate her, and so she writes this self-glorifying review to raise her approval percentage.

side-splittingly hilarious. she should start a blog.
sex & the city dream.
carrie bradshaw, lying in bed, pregnant with her first son, sleeping with her three other girlfriends. "i think it's kicking," she said. "i can feel a contraction."

"are you sure?" miranda asked.

"would i make something like that up?" she said.

"alright, alright," they said, and charlotte and samantha grabbed her suitcases, while miranda escorted carrie out the door and into a taxi.

when they got to the hospital, the baby was already born, waiting for them. no labor, no mess.

"it's a boy!" the nurse exclaimed, and she held him up.

he looked just like me. but then i realized, it didn't just look like me - it was mine. my only thoughts on being an imaginary father: happiness and absolute horror.
justification(s) to myself
for not wanting to help others.

okay, the title isn't completely true. i'm just older now, and thus skeptical about how i'm supposed to do it. i have to face the fact that nothing will ever turn out the way i want it to. apparently, my imagination has high expectations. so, when i signed up for my first year of americorps, i expected to be working long hours and seeing people benefit directly from my hard work. but the work really wasn't hard. and although there were people i met, desperate people, poor and inconsolable, i couldn't do anything for them. i had a stipend of $452.81 every two weeks, and i was afraid to turn on the heater in thirty to forty degree weather. how was i supposed to help the poor, or feel empowered, when i was on food stamps, bundling up in my bedroom?

i saw a lot of people get fucked over in my two years of volunteering: idealistic college grads given random, meaningless tasks that regular employees didn't want. a disabled, displaced man who couldn't get a ride to our chapter because he was, well, disabled (to which melissa replied, "does he not know how to take a fucking bus?"). people who lived in shit-smelling, dingy apartments, so grateful to see us with the two bags of expired groceries we had for them. students who didn't want to go to school, but had to anyway, and, conversely, those rare students who did, thinking that it was/is the only recipe for getting a good job, which, in turn, could get them the bling bling both parties felt/feel entitled to. mexican kids not knowing how truly far behind they are, and how their ignorant teachers aren't really "teaching" them anything.

a friend once said, "i don't know why i ever even considered teaching. what am i teaching them? why am i teaching them? so they can consume? no, i don't want to teach them that. they're going to consume anyway." at a happier time, this friend also said, "you can help people - it just won't be in the kind of way that you would've liked." well put, friend. well put.
can you type?



so, i guess you found out that this whole taking a break from blogging thing was bullshit, yeah? and all that about my eyes getting blurry and needing to stop was just crap. well, the truth is, my eyes are getting worse, but i'll go blind before i stop. i actually have to go out of my way, restrain myself, when an entry doesn't pop up the next day. the fact is, i have nothing and everything to talk about, and putting my fingers on the keyboard feels more natural to me than walking.

i interviewed for an admin position downtown yesterday. the man who interviewed me, steve, is a senior policy analyst, and he has appeared on cnn and cspan. i thought he was going to be intimidating, and really in-your-face, but he was casual, and he didn't even really have questions prepared. at one point, he obviously had nothing to ask, so he said, "what's your favorite band right now?" i told him "sigur ros, have you heard of them?" he shook his head, and said, "what are they like?" i told him they had a made-up language, and sometimes they sang in icelandic. he seemed intrigued. "what else do you like," he said, "something i might know?" "umm, have you heard of explosions in the sky," i asked? he shook his head again, smiling. "no, it's gotta be something more top forty," he said. i mentally scanned the last time i checked the billboard in the paper. all that came up were rhianna, beyonce (i actually thought about saying beyonce, but i didn't), james blunt. i couldn't come up with anything. i just sat there and thought about a mainstream band i actually don't mind listening to, but i couldn't. finally, he said, "do you like tom waits?" "yeah, i like tom waits," i said.

the fact of the matter is, i had no idea what i was interviewing for. i don't like to talk much, either, especially at interviews, and i'd prefer it if the other person talked more. i know this is a bad thing, and doesn't help me in the hiring process, but the truth is, i really don't have questions for you or your staff or your company. i really don't care what you do, who you are, or how you do it. the only two questions i come to every job interview with are, how much does it pay, and, if the price is right, can i have the goddamn job?

steve made me take some typing test. but before he i did it, he lost about 1,000,000 points when he sat me down and asked me, "can you type?" it was one of those questions that brought back feelings of americorps and incompetence. those condescending questions that aren't meant to be condescending, asked in such a candid, nonchalant way. "can you type?" no, actually, i can't. i spent four years in college as a creative writing major sticking my finger up my ass and sniffing it. can i type.

then he made me do some other assignment, which i did, half-heartedly, and i left.

on the way home, i got on the wrong RT. i kind of knew it was the wrong one, but i didn't care. i felt like wandering the streets and listening to cat power for a while. i also thought it might make a good metaphor. taking the wrong train, getting off track, getting lost and having to find my way back. wanting to say i have no direction home. i took the meadowview RT and got dropped off at broadway. i had to walk back a few blocks to catch the right RT, the folsom RT, and stood the whole time, since the train was packed (sidenote: i thought about not sharing this information, since you should probably be thinking by now, how dumb is this guy, there are only three RT's you can take, but i feel it's essential to the story - well, probably not really, but whatever). by the way, does anyone ever actually have to pay to ride the RT? i've ridden four times now, and no one has ever checked for my ticket.

on the RT i stood next to a group of black teens. none of them seemed to be friends, but one of them was talking out loud like he knew all of them really well. he talked like my friend joseph. you know, that kind of incoherent buzzing with a lot of inserted "motherfuckers" and a "shiiiiit" here and there. when an older white woman got on the train, this black kid started freestyling. i think he did it to intimidate or annoy her, or maybe both. the woman didn't seem that uncomfortable, though. typical sacramento, she probably thought.

later, i had to ask the rich bitch, "why do people talk so ghetto (sidenote: i know this isn't the proper, PC term to use, but i can't come up with a better word)?" "what do you mean?" he asked. "you know," i said, "kind of like the way joseph talks. like, 'mow-fucka had a wave cap on, that foo's helladumb." rich bitch saw this as an opportunity to mock it, too: "shit, foo, we all be hangin' out, and you know, we is gonna get our drank on." i think people have to go out of their way to sound like this. maybe they try lines out on their friends. i'm really not sure how it works.

you feel me?
three fools.

so hillary was all like, i'm going to bring our troops home; within the first thirty days that i'm elected into office, i'll bring them home. and people cheered. and barack was like, i never even voted for the war to begin with, so ha! and people cheered. and edwards was all, it's not even a question about bringing them home, but it's about how are we gonna do it, and i'll do it the best way. and people cheered.

i feel really bad for really smart people who believe things can be different. for people who put these candidates' stickers on their cars, put their posters up in windows, or else their little signs on lawns.

all i can say to them is this.
ain't no guarantees -
not in this life, anyway.

your own family might just say, you can't live here anymore. you might make your brother sleep in your car. you might get pregnant. you might get robbed. your mom may get drunk, and forget to pick you up. your mom might talk to you like you're still eight years old. your dad might get arrested. your best friend may decide to stop talking to you. your uncle might get teary-eyed, and say, don't be like me. your distant son might just off himself. your dad might have an affair with some woman in canada. your parents will split up. your parents might just never wake up. the love of your life will leave you. you won't get that job you wanted - no, you'll lose out to someone less qualified, but much, much more perky than you could ever be, or, worse yet, bilingual. you'll get a c on that test you were confident you aced. an old classmate will catch you working, smirk, and say, so this is what you do now? you might come across more people who have completely given up on life - more than you would've liked to have known. your house will be foreclosed. you'll have no option other than to declare bankruptcy. everything will be right, will be perfect, but you just won't be in the mood. your doctor will say, i've got some bad news. your dentist will recommend oral surgery, but it will be so complicated that he can't do it himself, and he will have to refer you to a specialist. you'll watch some guy get run down in the street, and you'll have no idea what to do. you'll see some smaller kid getting pushed around, and you'll only think, i'm glad that isn't me. you might get addicted to something. you might be squandering every precious moment you have. you may have missed your only shot to do something exciting, something that will make you feel alive. and finally, one day, you just won't wake up, but you'll be fine with it because you'll realize everyone's been asleep the whole time.
wes & chris in countout.


wes & chris were two punk rock kids who worked with me at tower. at one point, wes read about how the coca-cola corporation was killing protesters in south america. being the civil-minded liberal he was, he decided he would boycott coca-cola for good.

countout was a small, cramped room where clerks would dump out their money and leave just $100 in the register. usually, two or three clerks would count out their money at the same time with a supervisor present. this is a small piece of the scene i remember:

chris: so, i heard you're not drinking coke anymore. what's up with that?

wes: they're evil. they're an evil corporation. they kill protesters.

chris: so how is you not drinking coke going to stop them from killing protesters?

wes: i'm boycotting their product.

chris: but, so what? you don't drink their soda, and that's going to make them stop killing people?

wes: no. they're never going to be a good corporation. there's no such thing as a 'good' corporation. that's an oxymoron, and anyway, that's not the point.

chris: so how long are you not going to drink coke? for the rest of your life?

wes: yeah. probably. i don't know. as long as they're killing people, i can't support them.

chris: so what! do you even like people?

chris' final words in the argument silence countout. or maybe i left at that point, i can't really remember. all i know is, wes didn't really have answer for that. or maybe he did - of course he did - but he just couldn't bring himself to say it.
how to tell when you're
completely unemployable.


one of the first few moments i realized i was utterly unprepared, unmarketable, if you will, for the "real world," the business world, is when i interviewed for my first real internship. it was for a marketing & communications position at the richard hugo house, and i only found out about it through toby, who was quitting it because she found something better, something that would make her more marketable.

anyway, the volunteer coordinator was this nice young woman named tina hetzel, very hip, very "down" with the game, a woman who would leave a few weeks after i was hired to move to michigan, where she would earn her mfa in creative writing. so tina sits me down in some large room and asks me very casually (this is seattle, after all) about my work experience, my resume, and any writing samples i might have.

me (the 3 c's: calm, cool, and collected): oh yes, i have those (and then i dive into my stolen suede messenger bag to pull out said items).
tina (looking at papers, begins to read): this is good, i'm really glad that you brought this (and then she looks at me).

at this point she is showing me my very own short story entitled, "the plug at the bottom of the lake." behind that story is a ten page research paper entitled, "revision: an alternate cookbook."

tina (smiling, possibly suppressing laughter): but, when i talk about writing samples, i was thinking more along the lines of...you know, articles, or blurbs, or press releases.

i must look really hurt or offended or something, because even though i don't say anything, she leans forward and her eyes get really big, like she's going to say something like i've got cancer, but she's trying to comfort me. like she's trying to say, it's okay, we'll get through this. we'll get through this, she's saying. together, we'll get through this.

tina (again, playing the role of supportive physician): i'm really glad you brought this in. i can tell just from reading the first paragraph that you're a really strong writer, but just so you know, this isn't really what the job's going to be about. there is a creative element to what we do, but most of the time we're writing either press releases or articles about authors.

me: oh, okay (yes, readers, i am twenty-two at this point, and i'm bringing in short stories and research papers to interviews). well, i don't really have articles or anything.

tina: well, that's okay. that's okay. is that something you'd like to get experience in?

me: yes, definitely.

tina (scribbling something on her notepad): great!

and so that's how i got my first internship - the first of many random adventures scribbled down on a piece of a paper, which i refer to as my curriculum vitae.

at some point, though, the professors in the english department must've wised up. our english majors are looking a little too cheerful, they must've thought. with graduation just around the corner, they're acting like people are just handing out jobs outside the seattle center. we've gotta put an end to this, they said. and so they did. they held a career night exclusively for english majors. attendance was not mandatory, but strongly recommended. they got a handful of alumni to show up and talk about how successful they are. they got these people dressed up all nice and fancy with their ties and jackets and made-up titles. and these people told us how important it is to network, to be technologically savvy, to make yourself...marketable.

corporate douchebag who sold out his jesuit philosophy #1: on monday morning, sometimes i'll be at the office, and everyone will be talking about brad and angelina. brad and angelina this, brad and angelina that. and you know, even if i don't care about brad and angelina, sometimes it helps just to know a little bit about celebrity gossip, or american idol, or whatever's the big thing in people magazine.

audience groans.

corporate douchebag who sold out his jesuit philosophy #1: i know, i know. it sounds stupid. but trust me, it really helps to know little things like that. sometimes you have to make small-talk. it's all part of networking (he sits down; he looks embarassed; he looks like he's thinking, maybe i should've thought about what i was going to say tonight. and then maybe, just maybe, he smiles. whatever, he thinks. these spoiled pricks will probably be working for me by the time they get out of here).

corporate douchebag who sold out her jesuit philosophy #2: i got my first phd in '92...

all the professors look real happy for this woman. you see, they're saying, this is what it means to be a successful english major. we hold special dinners for winners like the ones speaking tonight. do something that makes you stand out, and maybe we'll invite you back to speak, too.

plain & simple, i'm unmarketable. sure, i could attend that job fair, i could go to that resume workshop, and i could find "buzzwords" to make myself more appealing. but the fact is, i don't know how to sell myself; i don't know how to network. deep down, i don't want to play the game. i know that no one really wants to play the game, but i think there are some people who really, really can't play the game, the kind of people who think an unpublished short story is evidence of "work" & "accomplishment," and use such things to try and get a non-payable job. as far as i'm concerned, they can keep their cubicles, their water coolers, their celebrity gossip, their monday morning groans, their friday afternoon plans for the weekend.

i say all this now, but i'll get sucked in. i know i will. it's inevitable. it's an unprecedented, unholy cavity awaiting its next trip to the dentist.

at least i'll have plenty of material by the time i retire.
jingleheimer schmidt.

...and what were the three of us doing that night, exactly? john, jacob, and me. girls night out, guys night in. all i remember is playing t. rex on my new used stereo, and then we watched that fat, flamboyant kid sing "over the rainbow" on gorillamask.

mad money, the bucket list, cloverfield. i can't believe this pile of shit clogging up movie theaters. why do films like this get made? who's still going out and seeing these movies? haven't people seen enough films to just be completely disgusted with mainstream cinema? and people are always attacking movies for being too violent, or too sexual in nature. people need to take a stronger stand against absolute garbage. but then again, something like hustle and flow surprises me, so i don't know what to think anymore...

some people are just born with talent, or else they're well-connected. i wonder if these people ever had to spend months brooding, contemplating the absurdity of our existence, worried about whether they'll sink or swim.

an allegory: this kid starts a garden. but he's only got one seed. he plants the seed and waters it, and he waters it, but nothing happens. finally, after a little nurturing, it grows, but just a tiny bit. just enough to know the damn thing's alive. he keeps watering it, hoping it'll grow into something, something big, like a goddamn tree or some shit. but it doesn't really grow into what he thinks it will. so, he decides to just leave it alone for a while. maybe it needs some independence, some sunlight, some time to grow on its own, he thinks. this dumb kid. and he sits by the window, watching, waiting, every single day, for that fucking thing to grow. sure, there are weeds, and there's some awful goddamn rotten soil, but he believes in it. he believes it'll grow. it fucking has to.
exchanges.


me: i heard that the mayans would sacrifice someone in their tribe, and that they would pull their hearts out.
kevin (in the distance): yeah! was that true?

rich: alright, man. you ready for this?
rick: yeah, yeah. (looks at singstar microphone) so how does this work?
later, while remembering the exchange:
rich: what the fuck? what did he mean 'how does this work'? it's a fucking microphone, and it's called fucking singstar. you sing into the microphone, jackass.
sign outside a carl's jr.
in rancho cordova.


"warning: this area contains a chemical known to the state of california to cause birth defects and other reproductive harm."

and yet, people were still eating inside.
old haunts revisited, pt. I.


my mom and i brought down old suitcases and boxes that have been sitting in our garage for years. here are some things we pulled down:

- a small yellow box of bullets
- a stuffed ninja turtle (raphael)
- a talking gopher or chipmunk (dead batteries)
- a creepy, black and white picture of a relative (i'd rather not say whom)
- three jesus figures (one of them is black!) and one jesus picture that lights up
- a wreath and christmas stocking
- a clip filled to the brim with bullets (was my dad preparing for armageddon or what?)
- an old wallet with an old sears & roebuck credit card (my dad's) inside
- seven empty suitcases

i was really hoping to find my old penguin game, but i'm sure my mom gave it away years ago. there's still one big box left, but i'll have to wait for my dad to help me bring it down. i wonder what will be in there. i'll save the results for "old haunts revisited, pt. II." look forward to it. look forward, i say.
the silence after the explosion.

they sat there with dirt on their faces. a nearby building had just gone down, and all they could do was sit there. the one man, wearing black pants and a white shirt, hugged his knees. he tried to fold his hands, but couldn't, so he brought his knees in even closer. the other man was still in shock. he had his hands over his head and slowly rocked back and forth.

"maybe we should pray," the man with the tie said, but as soon as he said it, he realized he couldn't even hear his own voice. he tried to say it again, louder this time. "maybe we should pray. maybe we should pray. maybe we should prayyy." by now he was shouting. he screamed it, over and over again. now he was pounding the concrete wall. he hit it after every word. MAYBE. WE. SHOULD. PRAY! the other man, though, hadn't snapped out of it. he was still rocking back and forth. the screaming man looked at his fist. it was covered in blood. it ached, but it didn't matter. he couldn't hear. he couldn't feel anything.

another explosion went off. this sent the two men lying flat on their stomachs, burying their faces into the ground, and covering their heads with their hands. "dear god, dear god," he was saying, but it was all inside his mind. his voice was dead to the world.

finally, he grabbed the other man's arm, and they ran. they ran the fuck out of there.
something i heard
about mike patton.

i once heard that mike patton showed up to a party, did the dishes, and then left. he didn't say anything to anyone; he didn't drink, eat, or dance. he just showed up, headed for the kitchen, did all the dishes himself, and then he went home. that was the single greatest thing i ever heard about mike patton.
...so just give up.


i do things. i do things to occupy my time, to cleanse myself of this awful feeling, this void. for instance, i try to decipher how my low cds should be arranged. originally, it was alphabetical, starting with the rare, 1999 recording of a paris show entitled, "anthony, are you around?" but then other record geeks told me it was supposed to be arranged chronologically, thus starting with their debut album, i could live in hope. but then i have these eps and singles, like the transmission ep, and there's no precise date anywhere on the album. technically, i could look them up, but then i imagine what i might look like from an outsider's perspective, and i can't bring myself to do it.

i guess i became obsessive compulsive right after college, when i found myself with a lot of time on my hands. too much fucking time. i'd sit around the apartment and think of things to do: wash dishes, work on our beast of a backyard, arrange and organize my things, and then move on to the next person's things when i had nothing left to arrange and organize of my own. i called myself a "minimalist completist." i didn't want much, but i wanted every low record.

in the movie ma mere, the main character says that he realized that he never truly believed in god, but that he liked the idea of being abandoned by god.

when i was a kid, my aunt occasionally offered to take us out for ice cream. i told her i didn't want any, and then i would sit by the window, and i would watch as she and my cousins would drive away to baskin robbins. i would wait for that deep, sinking feeling. once, someone finally called me on it. "he just wants us to feel sorry for him." "no, i don't," i argued, frustrated that i had been exposed, my twisted sense of self revealed to all.

my reality becomes unglued. i don't know who i am, or what this is. i don't know what we're doing, where we're going. the only thing i'm sure of, the only thing i can completely back up, is that at some point, everyone tastes the flavor of the week.
people with big appetites,
who pass out in malls.

lately, i've been pretty uninspired. gloomy weather is crap. whenever i go bike riding, even if it's just around the block, my ears feel like they're going to fall off afterward. i got into san jose state, and i should be excited, but all i can think about is how much more in debt i'm going to be, and i contemplate just getting a boring job and saving some money. i should probably stop watching so many movies because it almost seems like i'm just trying to create some sort of new reality for myself whenever i watch one. it's great not having to think about time passing, or getting older. i can just watch someone do something else on screen because i'm too uninspired to do it myself.

and another thing, reminiscing is stupid. i was going to make a "memory almost full, pt. 2" entry, but it's stupid. each time i think about what's happened, i always tend to only remember the annoying and miserable parts. surely, something good happened. i just can't remember.

i don't know why i feel so stuck. a lot of people feel stuck, for one reason or another. it's like in igby goes down, when igby's dad says, "i feel this great, great pressure coming down on me. it's constantly coming down on me. it's crushing me." what the hell is that? what is that which everyone feels? this invisible, haunting force.

i peel oranges and listen to records. i just don't care anymore.
bastard from a basket.


i went with my mom to see the first showing of there will be blood. hollywood, like the music industry, it seems, has conspired to make less desirable cities like sacramento be the last to see and hear about anything they have to offer. what is this "select cities" bullshit? why do audiences in new york, los angeles, san francisco, and seattle always get to view films before the rest of the world? it's completely ass-backwards, since people in those cities actually have something to do other than wait four months for a movie to be released.

i guess some places just are never meant to be "cool." like sac, stockton, redding. jesus, what is redding, anyway. just one giant truck stop. but i've been to small towns like watsonville and corvalis, oregon, and i thought they were decent places. i don't mind slow places. i think, that like daniel in there will be blood, i just don't like most people that inhabit these places. especially kids who wear big, puffy jackets with their fur collars and stupid patterns of dragons or else marijuana leaves, worn with their even stupider matching hats. i saw them on sale at zumiez for over $60. the clerks were listening to the worst wannabe death metal and had their long greasy hair coming down over the side, marlene dietrich-style. goddamn kids working at zumiez at the folsom outlet on a thursday afternoon, trying to look cool.

and then during the movie, there was an old couple whispering about anything and everything. "is that his son?" "no, it's his brother." shut up, old fools. shut your mouths.

in other news, i'm losing my eyesight, so if i don't write for a while - a long, long while - either i have nothing to say, or i'm trying to give my eyes a rest.
once.

winter would've been a complete loss, had i not seen this movie. after watching it, it just felt like every other downloaded flick was just trying too hard. and the soundtrack on vinyl is on sale for $3.99 at dimple, but i think it's because the last track, "say it to me now" doesn't play correctly. and it's an essential track, too. damnit.

it's the kind of movie that makes you feel like fixing vacuums and living with your dad even until your late thirties is not embarrassing in the slightest. in this world, it's actually acceptable, and possibly the only way of doing things.

i went to easter seals, and i don't think i'm going to take the job. the interviewer, a man named toby, convinced me that the job was "emotionally draining," and once he said that, i decided (in my mind) that it wasn't worth $10 an hour. the "consumers" (toby's words) were severely disabled, and there was an employee addressing them (maybe 20-30 of them), reading stories from the sacramento bee and explaining things to them. he said things like, "does anyone know what 'extinct' means?"

if i was noble, idealistic, and if i still cared about changing lives, changing the world, i might have chosen to come back for a second interview. but i'm a coward, and i'm going to tell them that i found something else, even though i haven't. i'm going to take a state exam on january 30.

after dong quit his job at big 5, he said to me, "you know, i realized, i'd rather be poor and unhappy than poor and working." i tried to come up with a similar quotation, something to do with the deadening of one's idealism, but it didn't quite work out.

i had naan n' curry for the second time in my life yesterday. i forgot how spicy that stuff is.
something uplifting (but for real this time).

i got into san francisco state, and san jose state, for their masters' programs. i think i may choose to attend the latter. i also have an interview with easter seal's on thursday for a part-time position. the position includes a discounted gym membership. so, you know, things are looking up. in other news, i've discovered that salad spinners are amazing. if you don't own a salad spinner, you aren't a healthy, well-balanced human being.

i have to give jacob credit for calling things "amazing." it's even funnier when it's applied to stupid, little things. like, "the last episode of the hills was amazing." i think it may catch on. i think it may become the new "hella." or better yet, michael meissner adding, "ass" to the end of every sentence. "what the hell is hillary crying about ass?"

i think i could watch that clip of hillary getting teary eyed over and over again. it's the only kind of health insurance i'll ever need.
something uplifting.

many people - actually, probably all - have complained that this blog is too much of a downer. jesus, complaining all the time is such a cliché, one reader says. he's so depressed, another squawks. can't you write something uplifting? someone asks.

so i tried to think. maybe my "odd world view" (one of my least favorite professor's description of my choice of subjects) has been shaped by too many writers who could've used a higher dosage of lithium. so i went down the list:

teachers would make us read poems like "annabel lee" or "the raven" when i was just a kid. to be fair, it was around halloween time, and i guess they couldn't find any other "spooky" things for us to do. and of course, "the raven" was creepy and it did freak me out, but still, i thought it was cool. the protagonist is haunted by his dead lover and some bird keeps driving him mad. so by the time i learn that edgar allen poe died drunk and penniless and alone on the street, i thought, wow! not only can he write, but he's also a goddamn rock star.

next there was j.d. salinger. well, we all know how that goes.

and then sophomore year, i read the bell jar. i was probably too young to understand what sylvia plath was going on about, but i didn't care.

next on the list: michael dorris, a yellow raft in blue water. years later, when talking about this book in college, my professor, peter bacho, only had to say, "...and like every true artist, he killed himself." i was going to laugh, but peter bacho had a really serious look on his face. jesus, peter, what a goddamn cliché.

so when i tried to think of funny writers or funny stories, the first character that popped into my head was ignatius j. reilly. but he was obese, overeducated, unemployed, and he lived at home with his mother. and the author, john kennedy toole, was just like every true artist.

and then there was hemingway, sexton, woolf, and a whole slew of others i haven't even read yet.

but on my twenty-first birthday, a friend introduced me to david sedaris, who wasn't completely messed up, and who was actually funny. he managed to take worst-case scenarios, i.e. taking the blame for a crime he didn't commit, his mother dying of cancer, and his poor pathetic sister who lived in squalor, and somehow, he managed to make them funny. his stories were, well...uplifting.

by the time i was a junior, it was apparent that everyone in my classes had already read naked. we all tried to write like him.

it's hard, i think, to write uplifting stories, or entries, or poems, or whatever, when so many who've come before haven't been very positive. but maybe i'm missing something. maybe there's a bunch of them on the shelf right now that i'm just not thinking about. maybe there were true artists who had prosperity in their lifetimes, didn't become boozehounds, and didn't feel compelled to live in isolation.

well, there, i tried. maybe the next entry won't be too much of a downer. but then again, don't get your hopes up.
skurred stoopid.

i watched a haunting on the discovery channel with my mom this afternoon. shows like that kind of amuse me, since they always feature horrible re-enactments and unbelievable story lines. this one was about some guy who bought a house that was haunted. it had the typical stuff in it: weird noises, and he'd find his mail scattered across the floor, and he'd feel like someone was watching him. when i was a kid, this kind of stuff used to scare me. especially unsolved mysteries. i think it was because the host looked like a ghost himself. he'd always be walking in some dark place, like a church or a cemetary, and they would really let the fog machine go at it. even in college, when i saw the episode about some old man who was put inside a chest and left by the side of the road, i was freaked out. mostly because they actually showed an autopsy photo of the dude's face so that a potential viewer could identify him. i think viewers were too busy throwing up, though. his eyeball was all dangling out of the socket, and his face was all smashed in. it was a terrible image.

but then i volunteered for two years, and during that time i decided that the only thing to fear is ignorance.

ignorance is preaching to our impressionable children. ignorance is made-up job titles like "paranormal investigator," or else "local folklorist." ignorance is blowing money on rims and booze. ignorance is not questioning anything. ignorance is diet pills and the bowflex. ignorance is staying home all day and feeling hopeless. ignorance is getting in your car to go somewhere that's ten minutes by foot. ignorance is thinking your country is the best, the richest, when you haven't been anywhere else. ignorance is coming up with lists about things that are ignorant when you could be doing something more productive.
photos from the front.



wow. just, wow.

so i'm applying to savemart because i have nothing better to do with my time. after asking me about my education and work experience, they make you take a twenty page personality test. it starts off fair enough with questions like, "most people make you angry," and you're supposed to respond: strongly disagree/disagree/agree/strongly disagree.

i just had to blog when i came across this question:

It is maddening when the courts let guilty criminals go free.

what the fuck does this have to do with working at a grocery store? i'm expecting the next page to say, "jesus christ is your only father," or "what hitler did was okay." strongly agree, i'm sure, would be the answer that they're looking for.

now i want to get this job just so i can quit on them for making such a dumb fucking personality test.
the parable of the decline
of two potential leaders
into two mumbling mice.


although they didn’t consider themselves religious people, the two of them met in a sacred place, a place where young adults come to better themselves. an institution not unlike alcoholics anonymous, but on a grander, much more expensive scale. there, the two of them sat side by side on a daily basis and buried their noses in books, looking up every now and then only to communicate and clarify the new ideas upon which they had stumbled. these ideas were new and revolutionary, some might even argue dangerous; nevertheless, these books and ideas continued to shaped their ideals and made them want to better themselves, and eventually change the world. yes, they were becoming more and more idealistic everyday, and they prided themselves on this fact. they wrote essays and stories and poems, and they submitted it to elders and to each other, seeking approval and acceptance. society, after all, taught them to want such things.

and so it went. they encouraged each other; they learned how to have fun. they believed they were empowering themselves in order to fight for a just and worthy cause. simple words, spoken or read, sometimes both, helped them to understand that complacency and ignorance were simply unacceptable. these words, these ideas were changing them, changing the world. together they learned that they must fight for justice and compassion, even if it took an entire lifetime, no, especially if it took two lifetimes, and they promised each other, themselves, that they would resist, that they would never sell out, that they would always refuse to become passive, zombie-like consumers.

passivity is death, one of them once read. hope springs eternal, the other said.

the words lingered in the air, a sustained note, ringing and echoing continually, reverberating and shaking skeletal structures.

at last, they were told, go on. you’re ready, someone else said. and so the two of them believed it. everything else they were told was true and right, why not this. together, they packed up their shit, and they left. it was time.

too soon, they learned their idealism was of no use in their new surroundings. when they fell behind in rent, the landlord said, get a real job; your idealism doesn’t pay the bills. they began to argue over petty things. a leaky sink was enough to drive one of them mad. they tried to recapture those insights they once had, but the words sagged and drooped, each letter indistinguishable from the next. they became ink blots, incommunicable. nobody was listening, anyway. everyone, for one reason or another, was far too self-involved.

people in this new community took advantage of their childlike ideals. they treated them as slaves, as ignorant children. we just want to do a good job and help those who need it, the two of them said. but their voices, their spirits were broken. once articulate and empowered, they were now reduced to nothing more than two little mumbling mice.

at last they looked at each other and said, what happened to us. we were going to change the world, but nobody even respects us. we don’t even respect ourselves. they said things like, no wonder nothing ever gets done. it’s no wonder nothing ever changes. we’re still so easily broken. we’re still lost in the dark wood. and then they wondered, will we ever get out? will we ever really be free?

they thought about this for a long time. it came up in many future conversations. to this day, they’re still thinking about it.
those simply delicioso belding boys.


today i was flipping through channels. i stopped and watched a little bit of simply delicioso, a mexican cooking program, because ingrid hoffmann was making some meatloaf with beans or something. i guess she's supposed to be like the mexican giada. anyway, i kind of spaced out because i don't understand spanish, and for some reason i got to thinking about the saved by the bell episode where rod belding shows up as a substitute teacher. specifically, i recalled the scene where rod, zack, and screech are sitting around mr. belding's office, watching the game, and zack talks about how he can't wait to be "under the stars" with kelly. and then he hugs a pillow and says, "mmm!" that final "mmm!" is priceless.

the weird thing is, later on, around 3:15, rich calls me up and says, "hey, put it on channel 12." unfortunately, i was at the beat looking for a good copy of tea for the tillerman, so i couldn't indulge in the surprise. he had to tell me what it was. it was the rod belding episode. i think this is just further proof that i'm destined to be rod belding. i don't want to teach, and i'd desert my kids for a stewardess named inga in a heartbeat. you should see her, readers. she's like, a ten.

i took some pictures of our destroyed backyard, but the camera is borrowed, and i forgot the usb cord, so i'll have to post them later. i also have a great picture of the horrible job a "parang jamaican" (my dad's words exactly) boy did of writing "happy birthday james" in blue frosting on my baskin robbins ice cream cake. his slop job is actually the highlight of turning twenty-five.
come in anytime.


a twenty-five year old male walks into his local library to volunteer. not out of the goodness of his heart, not to help anyone - but only because he had nothing better to do. he shows up and the branch manager makes him wait a while. he sits and tries hard not to look like he doesn't want to be there. does he ever want to be anywhere, really? she finally finishes her business and gets to him.

"now hold on," she says, "there's another person who would like to volunteer as well. let me find him." she walks away, searching the aisles of books for the second volunteer, but to no avail. she then addresses the entire library: "if anyone is here for the volunteer orientation, please come to the front desk," and then she looks at the man and says, "i know you're here." when nobody else shows up, she says, "alright," and then she looks at his volunteer application. "how old are you?" she asks.

"twenty-five," he says.

"oh okay, good then," she says, as if she doesn't know what to say because no other twenty-five year olds show up to do this, ever. she says, "follow me," and leads him to a computer screen that reads: out of order. it's a self-service machine, the kind they have at grocery stores to replace cashiers and baggers. "we really want people to start using these," she said. "we need to have the numbers up to at least 20%. it would be helpful if you could come in any time, stand here, and maybe show people how to use it." she stops, thinks. "have you used it before?"

"yes," he said.

she then leads him to a cart filled with books. "have you shelved before?" she asks.

"no, not really," he says.

she explains how the number go from small to big, and how they should be put in order from small to big. "i'm sure you can handle it," she says. then she leads him to a room in the back and shows him where he can sign in and record his volunteer hours. "you can go ahead and put today," she says, "put an hour, even if you don't stay an hour," she says. "i don't care," she says. she leads him out to the main floor again and wheels the cart of books to a nearby table. she pulls the books off the cart, scatters them across the table, and says, "we'll just see if you can put these in order. i'm sure you can," she says, and walks away.

the volunteer begins putting the books back in the proper order. it takes him two or three minutes to do this, and a few people are watching him. they could only be thinking, why in god's name is he doing this? he finishes, but the branch manager is busy assisting some children. he sits down and waits. while he's waiting, he picks up a russian book. he readies an answer in case anyone asks why he's reading this particular book. does he know russian? no, he would say, he just likes the font.

ten minutes pass and the woman returns to him. "alright, let's see if you got it right," she says. she looks at the books, and notes that they're in the correct order. big to small, just like she requested. "wonderful," she says. "you can come in any time and do some shelving. that would be really great. thank you so much."

"no problem," the volunteer says. but he's not sure if he'll come back.
glory is fleeting,
but obscurity is forever.

when i was in the first grade, the gulf war happened. i wrote this poem on a really rainy day. my teacher said it was good, and i believed her.

the angels are crying
because the soldiers are dying.

right now, if there is a god, he's pissed. he's angry because we've been driving our cars too much, building dams where dams aren't needed, buying things we don't need, and neglecting the needy. to show god's wrath, he hath sent us nonstop local news coverage of a storm. in my backyard, our side fence has completely fallen, our discarded christmas tree has been blown across the patio, and the wheelbarrow i borrowed from my aunt is in the middle of the lawn.

"that's nothing compared to the philippines," my mom just said.

wow, 2,000 + hits. either people i don't know are actually reading this, or else a good, distant friend keeps hitting the "refresh" button. the latter makes more sense.

tomorrow, i turn a quarter of a century. so, of course, with it comes the age old question, what should i be doing with my time?

mary oliver says that i should know how to pay attention, fall down in the grass, be idle and blessed. voltaire says that i should learn how to cultivate my garden. daniel defoe says i should steal, should poverty leave me no other choice. peter bacho says that i should spend every waking moment trying to get published, as there is no other reason for writing. father leigh says i should be a lifelong learner, continually enriching my mind through literature. george w. bush says i should be a good american and spend, spend, spend. my mom says i should go back to school. derrick jensen says i should stop raping the land. howard zinn says i should be more informed and fight for a worthy cause. dr. smith says i should remain idealistic and dedicate myself to social justice. steve perry says i shouldn't stop believing. socrates says i should be examining my life, or else it isn't worth living. adbusters says i should live more, buy less. "the man" says otherwise. anne lamott says i should take things bird by bird. the french situationists say i should live without dead time. flannery o'connor says i should just write about how some folks do. alonzo harris says i need to man up, man the fuck up. john lennon says i should imagine. zinesters say i should d.i.y. (d.i.m.?) mark renton says i should choose life. kevin drew and leslie feist say i should grow old and do some shit.

so, what have i been doing? applying for jobs and not making the follow-up calls. looking at master's programs. writing and recording songs. listening to records. blogging. watching downloaded movies. being indecisive, being filled with doubt and regret. listening to the advice from all those above. trying not to be an asshole. trying to make sense of things. trying to amount to something. trying to find a reason. trying to have a good time.

trying to make things good enough for me, for everyone.
the best kind of music is the kind
that reminds you of your mortality.


three people sat at some janky cafe downtown. one of those rundown places with so-so food and cheap beer that all the "cool" kids went to. cool in quotes because we all know, cool doesn't really exist 'round these parts.

the girl went through her bag, found a few dollars for the tip, then rose. "gotta go, boys," she said, "new year's resolution: lose the weight." and with that, she patted her barely visible stomach. her friend scoffed, while the other flicked his ashes into the ashtray. he was the artsy kind, the kind who wouldn't say nothin' about nothin' unless he felt like he was really onto somethin'. then you couldn't get him to shut up. the woman left, and this is how it went:

the artsy one started to talk. "new year's resolutions. what a goddamn fraud," he said. "resolutions are for people who like to make lists, and never actually do anything. think about it. it's all so arbitrary." he looked at his cigarette, like he was really deep, and in anguish. a real s.o.b. "i could quit smoking any time," he said. "01. 01. 08. they're just numbers. who ever said that 01 had to correspond to january, and that 02 was february and so on and so forth? for all we know, the concept of a year could begin at any point. why not july?"

"something to do with the seasons, i think," the other man said.

the artsy type put out his cigarette. "please don't interrupt me," he said. "you know i don't say much, so when i do, it's all i ask is that you might listen."

the other man tried not to get too upset. he looked at the pretty young waitress to try and think of other things.

"so anyway, seasons or no seasons. all we are is trapped by gravity, whirling around on a giant sphere that happens to circle another life-giving sphere. it's completely absurd, ridiculous. and we try to pretend we're important by carrying around a visa, driving around in expensive boxes, living in even bigger boxes." he seemed to be losing his train of thought. "i saw this movie, the savages, recently. and there's a great scene where the main character, john, denounces greenhill manor, an old folks' home, by saying that the freshly cut lawns, the scenic views, the leather furniture was nothing more than propaganda to distract us from believing that death is ugly, painful, scary, and that it stinks of shit. but i'm willing to argue that everything, goddamn everything, is just propaganda to steer us away from that same basic fact." he began to run his finger around the rim of his coffee cup. "decaf or regular? regular or diesel? diesel jeans or old navy? navy blue or red. red hots or mike and ike's." he stopped, obviously trying to think of the next sausage word.

the other man wanted to tell him to shut up, that he got the point.

but, of course, he wasn't through yet. "i think you get what i'm getting at," he said. "it's just. how can we go on living when we know what's ahead. and when i'm gone, when you're gone, when the pretty little waitress we're both in love with is gone, sure, people will be upset. they'll 'mourn' us for god's sake, but then what? they'll be sad for a little while, but soon enough, they'll begin to think of other things."

after his little hissy-fit, they sat there in silence for a while; that is, until the other man finally pulled out his wallet.

"well," he said, "i know what my new year's resolution is. i'm going to find myself some friends who are the exact opposite of you." and with that, he left a tip, and he left that janky cafe, possibly for good.
i was a teenage (female) riot.

so, my cousin wants to play the guitar. i have some advice i'd like to give her, and all girls for that matter, on how to become a teenage riot. first of all, she should know that "teenage riot" was the first song off daydream nation. if she doesn't know who wrote that album by the time she's finished freshman year, all hope is lost.

the first thing i'll say is that to become a teenage female riot, you are doing something most boys, myself included, can't, and could never do, mostly for anatomical reasons. but for those interested, here are a few rules to follow:

1) choose your idols wisely: kathleen hannah, sarah utter, cat power, carrie brownstein, or any of the girls from broken social scene would be a great choice.
2) don't wear a tie - ever. even if you are just trying to be ironic, again, all hope is lost.
3) start a band. make sure you choose attractive, heroin-chic girls to play the instruments. that way, you don't even have to be talented, but people (boys) will still come to your shows. just look at the donnas.
4) just learn three chords and learn how to play them in different ways.
5) when you're accused of singing off-key, just roll your eyes, and make something up. say, "duh. i'm going for a deerhoof meets melt-banana type vocals." side note: you don't actually have to know who these bands are. in fact, extra points for making up obscure sounding bands.
6) get all your clothes from thrift stores; be a trend-setter, not a follower.
7) you don't have to know about all the old school punk "favorites" like the clash, the ramones, the sex pistols. they all sucked anyway. just find one or two bands from the same era and confidently claim that they were much better, and that they never got the respect they deserved. (see: gang of four, the slits, television, the fastbacks, etc.)
8) download all the girl bands from olympia circa 1996 (on labels like kill rock stars, k records, and subpop) and try to sound like them. even if you can only do a so-so cover of bikini kill's "rebel girl," boys will remember you and talk about you for the rest of their lives. trust me. i'm one of them.
9) don't wear patches or buttons. don't get tattoos or piercings.
10) wear your hair short. almost boyish, but not too boyish.
11) become fluent in a foreign language, and use broken phrases in your lyrics.
12) get into zines (www.microcosmpublishing.com)
13) ride your bike. when people treat you like a child for choosing to ride your bike rather than drive a car, call them "polluting fascist assholes."
14) become vegetarian. if you're vegan, you will become a god to a select few, but ridiculed by most.
15) in high school, work at a record store and act like you're above everyone else. because really, you are.

that's all i have to say for now. i might make a part two after listening to some more sleater-kinney records.