been a year.

today wasn't even supposed to exist. it's a leap year. i don't know why there are supposed to be 366 days every four years. i could look it up, but i'll just forget to. at least until another four years roll around.

i took down my basketball hoop. by myself. a feeling of accomplishment i haven't felt in years. i'm going to sell it on craigslist. people will buy anything on craigslist. i wish i could have a whole career dedicated to selling shit on craigslist.

it's been a year since i started hard times. it's hard to believe that it's already been a year since i saw victor villasenor speak, and how i was inspired, how i thought he was a genius, how good burro genius was, and how i thought my mission in life was to help these poor, illiterate mexican children.

a year since i had that overpriced crepe with meagan in santa cruz, across from the rio theater, where we once saw joanna newsom perform.

things are good, and then things are bad. things get good again. things get bad again. and then there's that in between period. the blank period. the television static period. that sleeping in, feeling sluggish all day, accomplishing nothing period.

it's the calculator turned upside down to spell: "asshole." not that funny, not that entertaining. you just kind of smile and feel nothing. it's that hangnail, the one that teeters, not too annoying, wouldn't be painful if you peeled it right off. that opening band that's just kind of blah, and every song sounds the same. that basketball game you know is already over at halftime. that record you kind of want, and it's on sale, but you don't buy, because you're thinking, i haven't even listened to their other ones yet. that movie everyone loved and talked about for about ten days, and then everyone decided they hated it. yes, i'm talking about garden state. that movie you finish watching and just feel kind calendars with pictures of boats on them. keychains with a picture of your relative's new baby. birthday cards with just the name signed. family fucking circus cartoons. randy on american idol, saying, "yo, yoo. so check this out. it was just alright for me." the clerk asking if you've found everything you were looking for. the kids walking in twos or threes with their multicolored hoodies (when did this become cool?) and skater shoes. no noise, no trouble.

no highs, no lows.
what's a pony?

i just finished reading wake up and smell the coffee by eric bogosian, as recommended by ultrafknbd. pretty good stuff. he satirizes just about any way you choose to live your life. whether you're a free market throat-cutting asshole , or else a free-loving, tree-hugging vegetarian - you're fair game; you're laughable either way. i like that he can do this, mock any type of existence. because it's true.

we're all so worried about what others think, how others perceive us. how we will accept/rebel against what's been planned for us. but the truth is, no one's watching. no one really gives a shit. think about how self-involved you are, then multiply it by about a hundred, and that pretty much covers everyone else.

bogosian also wrote suburbia, which is a masterpiece. granted, i've only seen richard linklater's film, but the characters, the dialogue, the setting, the plot (or lack thereof), set it up. i remember i first saw it at the tower theater when i was thirteen, maybe fourteen. it was a film that i needed to see then. the opening sequence, when they drive by all the suburban sprawl and play gene pitney's "a town without pity," exposes the absurdity of modern day existence. what were people (city planners) thinking when they created these towns?

let's line them all up in a row. make sure everyone's got an artificial lawn and one tree. no, no, not two in the front. maybe another in the back, but for the front, just one. one is enough. okay, two windows each, facing the street. on the two story houses, two more windows on the second floor. we want people to be able to look out, and get some sun without having to go outside. and a sidewalk. yes, we need a sidewalk. otherwise, how will people know where to walk? on the other side of the street, make more houses. let's make it so the houses face each other, so that people can look at each through their windows, but they'll never have to communicate any other way. let's get some insulation, but don't overdo it; we want artificial heat in winter and air conditioning for the summer. a couple blocks down, put up a convenience store, doesn't matter what. 711, circle k, whatever, whatever. just a store so a man can get his beer! christ, that's why it's called a "convenience" store - don't you know anything? no, don't put it there. not too close to the homes. well, because all the snot-nosed kids are going to hang out there, and they won't want that. would you? exactly, so put it down a little further. a little further down let's put up a gas station and grocery store. why farther down? so they have to drive to get food and gas, stupid. don't you fucking know anything? people don't want to see their goddamn meat and vegetables and milk being loaded and unloaded in filthy crates.

that must be how it happened. and this "convenience" they've created has left us with a bored generation. we don't have to walk uphill both ways in the snow to get food, or to go to school, or to hang out with friends. look at all this time we've saved. we've saved so much time, there's only one thing to do: squander it. go to that shoe convention and spend $19,000 on those rare nikes that you'll put on display. buy yourself a box of comics that you won't read. buy that ten seat suv for the three people in your family. collect those movies you'll watch once, twice, if it's really good. spend hours on craigslist and ebay, looking for that rare, out-of-print, japanese-only import, autographed box set. try to ignore that part of yourself that says the act of spending is more thrilling than actually owning the object.

drive down the block. see how dark, how quiet every street is. are these people sleeping? are they even home?

does anybody live here?
kenyan dream.

i dreamed i was in kenya. and all i did over there was watch tv.
how to completely destroy me
in a dozen words or less.

"are you still in high school?"

"no, i graduated college already."

"well, i'd love to have a college degree! what did you study?"


"you can be a school teacher!"
peeing in the corner.

when i went to take out the trash, i saw one of the mexican workers hanging out by our garbage cans. i was going to say hello, but he turned his back to me, and then i realized he was taking a piss in the corner of our backyard. i thought maybe i should offer him the use of our toilet, but it's not like he would stop the flow, zip up, and follow me into the house. i just let him pee. it was the noble thing to do.

i asked my dad if we could jam in the garage. he said, yeah, that's fine. so the rich bitch came over, and we took about twenty minutes setting everything up. we played two songs, and it was all over. my dad opened the door. "can you guys turn it down?" he asked. "we're playing at a regular volume," i said. "it's kind of loud," he said, "i was outside and i could already hear it." he seemed embarrassed to be telling us that it was too loud, as his face was red. maybe he was silently angry, i don't know. i told him we'd stop playing. so i turned off the amp, and put all the cords away.

my dad appeared in the doorway again. "you guys should be wearing earplugs when you play," he said. this was what really got to me. i didn't mind him telling us to stop playing, that we were being too loud, but i always, always hate it when he tells me to take these little precautionary measures. "don't stay up too late." "don't drive over 70." "wear your hood in the rain." i know he means well, but i'm forced to play the cliched boy looking to grow up overnight, and i can't play this role if he keeps giving me mini-lectures on what i should or shouldn't be doing.

it was much, much worse in high school. often times, if i was sleeping in too late on the weekend, or on a summer day, he would literally pound on my door. "wake up!" he would say, as if we had something planned. even then, i could only think, what's the point of waking up? to sit with you and watch the fucking tv? to mow the stupid lawn that's just going to grow long again next week? to get dressed and go to church where we can worship a god that may or may not exist? just let me get some goddamn sleep.

of course i feel guilty. i'm too hard on the guy. i don't think he ever wanted to be a dad. i asked my mom if he was ready to have kids when he was 27. she said she didn't think he felt ready. he told her that he didn't have a steady job, and that he seemed kind of ambivalent about the whole thing. but he went and had me anyway. maybe he was facing the same "quarter-life" crisis i'm facing now. but god help me, god help us all, if i reproduce any time soon, if at all.

i don't think i've ever met a successful father. after the kid grows up, he ceases being a father, and instead becomes some dude that sits in the corner. some dude who doesn't talk, not at family functions, not at anything, ever. i can't help but think that they have moments where they look at the ones they love, they look at everything around them, and wonder, i gave it all up for this? i sacrificed for this? i still had things i wanted to do. maybe i'm projecting these things onto them. maybe i don't know what the hell i'm talking about.

how could i, though, when they never fucking talk?
you don't have to.

you don't have to read all of it. you can just skim through, or else ignore it completely. i'm only writing about random things. like the fact that these two mexicans are finally fixing the fence in our backyard. and how, when a different mexican showed up once and said he could do the job, my dad refused him and said to us, "he's mexican. he seemed kind of shady."

i could've put up the fence. all i would need are a tool belt, an electric saw, posts, boards, cement, and some know-how. but i went to school, so i don't know any of this, or even where to get it.

i watched we own the night the other night. pretty crap. i expected mark wahlberg to throw down; i expected vigilante justice; i expected plot twists, a set up, something. but nope, nothing. it was just a straightforward action movie with no cheesy lines or anything. total bore.

i called about my state application. this guy named casey said, "the final filing date is april 29, and that's when they send the packets to us." "oh. okay, thanks," i said. "we'll contact you when we get your packet," he said. and i could've said, "i have a degree. i got a hundred on your stupid, pointless test. i can type 91 words per minute. i think i can handle a little filing and answering calls. what else do you fucking want from me?" if i had some cojones, i would've. but i don't, so i didn't.

the mexicans are doing something else now. they've got what looks like a mini vacuum or maybe a wood chipper, and they've attached it to a yellow extension cord. there's also an orange extension cord that isn't being used. maybe it's too short. manual labor is looked down upon. in the book the giver by lois lowry, a laborer is the worst job you can get. it was better to receive all the pain in the world and be exiled from your community and sled down into the abyss to meet an ambiguous fate.

i wonder if there's still snow enough in the sierras to go sledding.
a dark day.

there was this black kid from seattle u i once knew. i think his name was david, and he was a grade below me. david was the president of the democratic students club on campus. i don't know why i knew him. i wasn't a part of the seattle u democrats or anything. i had history class with him, and he said some pretty insightful stuff. being in a small group with him, talking about history, i felt like i could finally learn something from a history class. dr. hanh's class. shit, now i'm remembering something completely different. i remember when i wrote my final paper for the class, dr. hanh (hahn?) completely attacked me because i had written something like, "we read a lot of fiction for a history class," and i wasn't even trying to be malicious. she got really upset, though, and wrote me a scathing email about how she pretty much felt like i was undermining her class, no, her entire teaching credibility with the three page essay i had written.

i was shocked. so shocked that i had to reply right away. afraid that she would fail me, send my quarter's worth of work down the drain, i told her that i actually liked her class. and, as an english major, i actually felt that reading fiction was a great way of understanding different political climates, etc. at the time i felt i was being sincere. now, in hindsight and disillusioned with my entire educational experience, i feel as though i would've risked anything, said anything, to avoid failure. she responded promptly and briefly. something to the effect of, "oh. sorry i misunderstood what you had written. it's been a crazy day." it was the same day the u.s. declared war on iraq. the same day i had bought a green army t-shirt from the teen challenge thrift store. the same day the stupid kids working at the stupid taco bell were laughing, making jokes. i made my own: "man, should they be joking around in there? there's a fucking war going on." i was mimicking seann william scott's character in old school: "man, there's a fucking dart in your neck." i thought i was funnier than those kids working at taco bell.

anyway, about david. the day bush got reelected in 2004, i walked with david down the crosswalk that connects the murphy apartments to campus. we were just shooting the shit. he seemed kind of down. i knew what was bugging him. there were clouds above us, and i said, "it's a dark day." he knew i wasn't talking about the clouds. seattle's always fucking dark. "a dark day, indeed," he said, and we parted ways.
he should've started earlier.

i finished reading francine prose's blue angel. it's been a while since i've read anything, especially a fictional novel. it was good, though. damn good. it's the story of a man who risks everything for a little tart. a little whore, and a little piece of trash. i can't relate, but that's what good novels do: they make you relate, or at least try to. it's books like blue angel that make me remember why i liked literature and writing in the first place. it's an escape, really. a chance to be someone else for a good three to four-hundred pages. the workshop scenes felt a little far-fetched. but that could be because my experience in them has been so limited.

it's funny how, looking back, i can remember how excited i was at 18, when i received that letter of acceptance, and how i can now compare it to how relieved/anxious i felt when i received that diploma. it's like when the rich bitch found our grandma's obituary among a pile of photographs. "wow," he said. "i can't believe your mom still has this." i didn't pay much attention. i must've muttered, "yeah." "it's funny," he said, "you live your whole life, and then all it comes down to is this." he fluttered the tiny, rectangular piece of faded newspaper. "yeah," i said, "that's that." our collective experience, our life's work, all reduced to size 8 aerial font. or whatever it is the bee uses.

i don't know how francine prose could write a novel. i don't know how anyone can. you really have to believe in your characters, believe in yourself, believe in the made-up world you've created. almost to the point of arrogance and risking an entire detachment from reality. i wouldn't know, really. i've only attempted short stories. i can't imagine trying to have to do a whole novel. and then there's always the chance that nothing will happen to it. either it takes up space on your hard drive, or it'll become an official manuscript, and you'll send it out.

most likely, people won't read it, or they'll read a little, and they'll hate it. you'll hear again and again, "it's not ready yet." there's this whole process where you're supposed to have an agent, supposed to have recent publications, supposed to have your name recognized, and then finally, you find an editor, and it goes back and forth like this for a couple of years, and then, eventually, if you're lucky, the editor will say, it's ready, and it becomes a book. and then it sits on the shelves. you have to put it out there with the vigilance of an impoverished vacuum salesperson. you have to tour with it, try to get it sold by word of mouth, tell all your friends and family to buy it, read it, cherish it, think you're a genius for writing it. do readings in towns you've never heard of or cared to visit, in bookstores populated only by couples in their seventies, critics for shitty local newspapers, english majors, students attending for extra credit. and of course, nobody gets it. nobody ever fucking gets it. what's there to get? after reading a few passages from your four hundred page (in your mind) masterpiece, it's still not doing it any justice. it's a goddamn movie preview. but not even that. out of context, it's more like the stupid fucking fandango commercial with the weird paper sacks and googly eyes.

and then there's always the chance people assume it's autobiographical. and then there's the pressure of doing a follow up, and feeling like a failure when you can't follow it up. very rarely can someone do a follow up. the pressure's gone. you've got it made. your name's out there. people know you. you're kind of a big deal. what's the point?

that's all our lives are, and all they will become: words. yet, no one ever has time to write.
the only reason.

the only reason i update is because i have nothing better to do. i don't care to preserve this empty period of my life - the loss of morning, the forced naps, the endless hours of television, the donation of things that once meant something to me. i'm finally beginning to understand the title: "everything means nothing to me." that includes all of this: the half-written fiction, the tiresome rants about capitalism/privilege, the vaguest of memoirs.

i've exposed myself more than i would have liked. but the truth is, i've shared nothing at all. as far as i'm concerned, this isn't me. this is someone else writing down trivial details, being some place he doesn't wish to be. someone else's life entirely. i don't know who i am, or what i want, and i probably never will. so, it's safe to say, this isn't me, and these aren't my thoughts. it's just some character, or else some recording of a poorly conducted experiment with inconclusive results.
walt disney poop fetish.

during my senior year of high school, my poetry teacher, mr. hornback, would sometimes tell us random stories or facts about life. i don't know why he did this. he probably didn't know what else to do with us non-writers. once, he showed us a short film about robert bly, and we all thought it was kind of dumb. another time, though, he told us about walt disney.

according to mr. hornback, mr. disney had, in his office, a large glass table. mr. disney would occasionally have his secretary, or whatever other female assistant he had, enter his office. he would then lie underneath the table. at this point the secretary would remove her skirt, remove her underwear, and defecate right there on the table.

mr. disney would watch, and he would enjoy it. anyway, that's what mr. hornback said.
interview with j.d. scarcello.

when did you first know you wanted to be a musician?

There was never really any turning point or anything, where I said to myself, this is what I’m going to do. It was always at the back of my mind, but something more as a hobby than anything.

do you have any formal training as a musician?

No, no formal training. I mean, I took guitar lessons when I was like thirteen or something, but after a while, it just got kind of old. Lessons are good for a short while, but at some point, just as is the case with any other “formal training” - as you and some may call it – completely deadens your creativity.

talk about the songwriting process. where do these songs come from?

A lot of it actually happens when I’m driving, or when I’m taking a shower. Usually a melody or maybe a verse will come to me, and then I just keep it in my head until I get the chance to write it down. From there, I go to my acoustic guitar and just belt it out. I try to make it fun. Any time a song isn’t fun to play, it’s never a good song.

who would you say your musical influences are?

That’s a tough call. There are so many. I tend to draw inspiration from just about every good band or artist I hear. But I guess if I had to pick a handful, I’d say Marc Bolan, Lou Reed, Bob Dylan, and even Neil Young. More contemporary artists would be the likes of Thom Yorke, Devendra Banhart, and even Doug Martsch - even though his last record was a piece of crap. Anyone who comes across as though he’s got a screw loose in the head is definitely somebody I try to emulate.

you tend to keep many different side projects going. for instance, there’s urban gangster, the last supper club, jacob scarcello, jacob dempsey, ider down, and probably others that i haven’t even heard yet. is there a reason for this?

No, it’s know. It’s all me.

are there any artists out there that you’d like to work with?

Yeah, there’s a few. In particular, there’s an unsigned instrumental band called Wooderson. They’re just a drum and guitar duo, but what I like about them is that when you think drum and guitar duo, you automatically assume it’s gonna be math rock, but they’re definitely not. They can be really raw and brutal, or they can be extremely melodic and pleasant. Definitely got some loose screws in there.

any artists you wouldn’t want to work with?

Joanna Newsom. She has no talent. At all.

well, i disagree. i think we’d better end the interview here.
taking the long way home.

had i not forced myself to get out of bed on a friday afternoon, here are some things i would've missed:

- the group of kids cutting class, hanging out in the park
- the plastic bag stuck to a high, leafless branch
- the old man honking at his wife
- the boy and girl, hugging & kissing on the sidewalk
- the little boy who could pedal faster than me
- the alhambra man making his rounds
- the marlboro cigarette packs on the damp street
- the portable basketball hoop overturned on its side
- the black girl, talking on her cell phone & sitting in her parked car

it will all go. i could've slept it away. i could have stopped and straightened that basketball hoop. i could have told the old man that he needed to not honk at his wife. i could have told that boy and that girl to make it work, no matter what. sometimes i find the endless possibilities overwhelming.
i got addicted & it ruined my family.

it's time to admit that i'm addicted to the internet. and for no good reason. it takes every ounce of strength to not turn on the computer first thing in the morning, hoping that someone has sent me an email (library circulation notices count), or that someone has commented on last night's entry, or that someone has requested me as a friend, or that someone is on messenger with something important to say. the likelihood of any of this on a regular basis is zilch.

i have deleted my facebook account at least a dozen times by now. apparently, the online social network will never completely delete me. instead, it will "deactivate" my account, and once i log back in, i'm back. these social networks are a disgrace. i was one of the first to jump on friendster. i added maybe five or six people, and that was that. then came facebook. i added some people i took classes with, and then i never talked to those people ever again. so i deleted them. and then i got a myspace account because i was so bored at work. i had no friends, so i told all my coworkers and relatives to sign up. they did, and then i deleted my account.

big deal that your interests are music, thrift stores, records, running, poetry and biking. who cares that you listen to death cab for cutie, devendra banhart, spoon, radiohead and the blood brothers? and so you've read to the lighthouse, cat's cradle, 1984, and to kill a mockingbird. who fucking cares?

actually, the real reason i deleted my profile is because of a site i discovered called mydeathspace. basically, when someone dies, his profile is sent to the site and it is "immortalized" for eternity, or for as long as humans have the energy to run a server and turn on a computer. i didn't want to be remembered by the list of bands i was listening to that particular year. i didn't want to be remembered by the books that i've read, or even by the top 8 friends that i had listed. i prefer costanza's philosophy: i want to be forgotten.

yet, i still log on every now and then. i still search, wondering what old classmates, coworkers, people i once considered "friends" are up to now, more for novelty's sake than anything. i'm just as interested in finding out what happened to the teenage mutant ninja turtles action figures i discarded at age 10. what happened to that jose uribe rookie card i flushed down the toilet? how's my mickey mouse hat doing in that landfill? what became of my rubber band gun, or the whisper 2000? what happened to my x-ray glasses and my nintendo?

i think it's sick that i've made over a dozen trips to the thrift store in the past six months, and i still have things i don't need. i think it's sick that there's a target in folsom, in sunrise, in rancho cordova, in downtown, in arden, in west sac, and probably in other places that i don't even know about. i think it's sick that we can just drive a few blocks and find a radio shack. i think it's sick that we all know better, but we don't do better. this country, i think, runs on self-hate.

i don't want to believe that we are disposable, that we are replaceable. but it's arrogant to think that i - that we - could somehow avoid jose uribe's fate.
the triumph of machine over people.

the girls next door is about these three zeros named kendra, holly, and bridget. they all live with hugh hefner. hugh pays for them to do things like party in vegas, or else go to europe. holly is always pissed because hugh will never marry her, and she is the main "girlfriend," so she has to stay home more often than the other two zeros do. kendra is the worst girlfriend because she does stupid things, like one time, she bought a grill, and another time she hired a pet psychic to "cure" her dog. bridget is my favorite because she is able to smile through all the hard times. anyone who can consistently smile through a reality that revolves around a pair of fake c cups and good hair is all right in my book.

icarly is a kid's show on nickelodeon. it's a good show if you're in the third grade, which, mentally, sometimes i am. it takes place in seattle, which is another reason i had to give it a chance. carly is this girl with a webcam show who lives with her brother, spencer. spencer is a law school dropout who decided to become an artist. he makes crazy things, like a sculpture made of butter, or else a giant, moving robot made out of junk he found in his closet. i like that the show's producers want the general public to believe that a law school dropout could afford a giant loft that overlooks the space needle.

the moment of truth is a show where the host asks the contestant a bunch of generic personal questions, (i.e. "have you ever killed a drifter to get an erection?") while the contestant's family and friends sit in the audience. the contestant has to answer truthfully to win some money. what i don't get is how the machine can tell if the contestant is lying or not. i don't know what makes me stupider - asking that question, not knowing, or blogging about it.

you already know.
how to fake like you are
a nice & caring person.

on the way to the rich bitch's new apartment, we spotted a black man taking a shit by the dumpsters. he looked at us as we drove by. i went to use the rich bitch's bathroom, and i thought about taking some toilet paper to the man. i don't know why i thought about doing that.

i keep seeing/hearing the preview for vantage point. i hate the part where randy quaid says, "i think i saw something," and then forrest whittaker says, "i think i saw something, too." i know i'll probably see it just for that line. sometimes i'll sit through the movies - shitty or good - just to hear a line that gets stuck in my head.

"you're the man now, dog!" - sean connery, finding forrester
"peter, these are lungs." - mira sorvino, mimic
"no god." - unknown, 30 days of night
"i want us to be open and say 'yes' to everything." - owen wilson, the darjeeling limited
"you got served." - every character, you got served
"i teach hip hop at the cennah (center)." - jessica alba, honey

and now, the characteristics of someone who lives downtown (all qualities which the rich bitch must adapt to, should be truly consider himself a resident of the downtown area):
- has a bike
- is vegetarian or vegan
- wears a scarf in the cold
- drinks coffee from local, independently owned businesses
- signs up for a yoga class
- barely drives, but when forced to, drives a prius or bug - anything compact, really
- knows where the "bad" parts of downtown are
- smokes
- has a tattoo or piercing or both
- wears a thrift store blazer or pea coat
- buys organic groceries from a co-op
a total eclipse of the heart.

when i was little, i thought things like this were a big deal.

i'm grown up now, or so my age has me believe.

i don't think they're a big deal anymore.

i always forget what the e.m.p. in seattle stands for. it's the experience music project, i think.

while using the restroom at toys 'r us today, i saw someone had written the acronym "e.m.p." above the acronym, someone had written: "electra magnetic pulse." and underneath it, someone else had written: "eat more pussy."

i don't mind public restrooms as much i used to. before, i couldn't go anywhere that wasn't my own. now, i don't mind them so much. i like checkered tiles, high seats and extra space. large mirrors with warm overhead lights. foam soap is a plus, and lotion (even though i never use it) makes it classy. an attendant is unnecessary, but definitely doesn't hurt. i need an extra good lock on the door, too. any kind of carpeting in the restroom is a huge turnoff. especially those carpets that cover the toilet seat. what kind of an invention is that? i really hate those toilet seats that are plastic and cushioned. when that cushion rips, it's all over. just go with good old fashioned porcelain, please. meagan and rachel had a wooden seat. i wanted to replace it.

the worst restroom i ever used was at linda's bar in seattle on my 21st birthday.

another bad experience was in the philippines at the mega mall. they had no toilet paper, so i had to use some pesos my dad gave me. i cried on the car ride home, and i pictured all these filipinos walking around with mud butt. "what are people supposed to do here?" i pleaded. "i don't know," my dad said, "maybe they bring their own napkins or something."

and now, the top five most pleasant restroom experiences i've ever had:

5) seattle university, bookstore bathroom. i was walking through the cold for the longest time, and i had to urinate. i made it to the urinal, and i unloaded. i lifted my head with such sweet relief, and found that the overhead lights emitted heat. extra bonus score.

4) personal bathroom. after a week of basketball camp at sly park, i was ready for the comforts of my own restroom. i didn't use the restroom all week, since i never had to go. i urinated, but i refused to sit down on a seat that i had to share with a dozen other boys. finally home, i was king of the castle once again.

3) nordstrom's, fifth avenue (?), seattle. i was at some concert with toby and tiffany. i think it was the blood brothers. suddenly, i wasn't feeling so good. i think i had nachos earlier that day. i took one look at the restroom at the vera project, and i said to myself, "no fucking way." i told my buddies i'd be back, and i was...half an hour later.

2) bimbo's club, san francisco, march 2003. this was a love/hate experience. i was standing at the very front of the stage with rich and keith. mogwai was going to come on at any second. suddenly, it hit me. fucking nachos again, i think. i tried my best to hold it, but when that fucking sound guy came on stage for the fourth time to tune stuart's guitar, i said enough was enough. keith and rich looked really disappointed. there's nothing i can do, i told myself. still, it was the greatest experience because i could hear the opening guitar riff to "hunted by a freak," as i did my business.

1) parent's bathroom. i ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich while sitting on the can. i was four. my dad opened the door. "what are you doing?" he said. "i'm eating a sandwich," i told him. "you're sick," he said, and he closed the door.
about a life.

the point of life is to make as much noise as possible before leaving.
what's there to do?

dan rowan moved from sacramento to l.a. for school. when he came back to sacramento for winter break, he would refuse to leave the house. someone asked him why, to which he only responded, "what's there to doooo?" dan had a lisp, and he was the rich bitch's roommate for a little while. he played drums in our horrible wannabe punk band, the crew. i heard that on another occasion, when he had to come back to town for the birth of his baby brother, he drove up in his station wagon while drinking a 40. i believed this really happened.

another time, i met this santa cruz guy, derek. he was tall and looked like he was stoned all the time, which he probably was. he worked at the tasting room with meagan. once, when people were talking about pins and bank accounts, he said, "my pin is completely random. it's so random it doesn't even make sense to me. if someone cracks my code, he deserves my money." later that same evening, derek asked me where i was from. "sacramento," i said. he nodded, and then he said, "sac town." i waited for his punchline, since he seemed the type of guy to have a penchant for them. he delivered: "and that's about all there is to that place."
lack of participation.
our p.e. teacher, mrs. walker, would host these indoor soccer games for our class. since all forty of us couldn't be playing at the same time, she'd make half of us get on the floor, while the other half sat on the bleachers, or else on the edge of the stage. when she'd blow the whistle, we knew it was time to switch. sometimes, some of us slackers who didn't care to kick around stupid fucking purple and green nerf balls would just sit out the entire period. sometimes she would catch us. "dong!" she would scream, "get in the game!" or, "jason! get out there!" my favorite times, though, were when she would call for someone, usually one of us asian kids, to get out in the game, and then that person would already be standing there, ready to kick the ball. obviously, we all looked the same to her.

then there's this whole confusion thing. being mistaken for someone else. it happened a lot when i worked for the red cross. there was this other asian guy, chris bender, who worked there. he looked nothing like me. he wore glasses; he had tattooes; he told jokes, and he talked more than i did. but, of course, halfway through the year, i was congratulated for my promotion to marketing and communications specialist. and of course, bender came up to me countless times to tell me how many people, people who have been working there for years, have lately been calling him "james."

so i wasn't surprised when the rich bitch told me recently that this little person, edward, who now works at skip's, mistook the rich bitch for me.

these cases of mistaken identity don't really bug me. i don't expect much from people. i actually prefer cases such as the one with diana's, a former coworker, who seemed to have completely forgotten who i was altogether. she didn't even try to remember my name; she acted as though we were two individuals who had never even met. good thing, too. i hate catching up.

because, honestly, i don't need your congratulations when i do something of value. congratulations. what a meaningless word. i don't need to know how the kids are doing. the kids could be on crack for all i know, what difference would it make? and then there's always, "how's your mom?" how else could mom be doing? and then there's the more general question, "so, what have you been doing these days?" to which one could only possibly respond, "breathing. thinking. managing successfully, up until now, to avoid small talk."

i don't think i can see my eighth grade teacher before she retires. i'd like to, though. it would be great to say things like, "i have never been more miserable than i was in your class. even though it wasn't your fault. just the mere fact of being an outsider, on so many levels, in a predominantly white catholic school has caused considerable damage to me in so many different ways." i wouldn't even be serious. i'd just like to say these things (of which i'm sure) no one else has ever said, especially to a former elementary school teacher.

the fact is, i've learned nothing. there's a saying that success is measured on the basis of how you handle defeat. i see now that i don't handle it well at all.

during one of my one-on-one sessions with larry, he once told me that all he was trying to do, as a teacher, as a friend, was to help me "find what makes me happy." "maybe it's not writing," he said. and that "even if (i) end up just working at fred meyer's (a local grocery/housewares chain), i could still find something i'm passionate about." after he said this, he did some goofy old man thing where he grabbed himself by the neck and said, "noo!"

jesus christ. all i wanted to do was talk about my characters.
slicing up eyeballs.

i get eyelashes in my eyes a lot. almost everyday, probably. does this happen to anyone else? i have to use the tip of my finger to get it out.

i'm now down to one cd shelf. i consider this a huge accomplishment, a milestone in my life.

i donated a lot of junk again today. i don't necessarily feel "charitable."

somebody finally picked up the junk we put in front of the rich bitch's house. all that remains are a couch and loveseat.

my mom has been coughing a lot. she likes to say things like, "maybe it's because of the dust." last month it was, "maybe it's because of the christmas tree."

i can hear kathy griffin's voice on the tv. i can't stand that woman.

if it were up to me, i'd be watching a mary elizabeth winstead movie right now. preferably death proof, or else final destination 3.

i got accepted to two graduate programs, and i don't really want to go to either.

if i had friends, we'd probably be doing something stupid tonight. like playing video games, or else talking at a bar.

i'm a part-time misanthrope, i've decided.

for the past two days, i've been thinking about the lyrics: "i'm taking the cure/so i can be quiet/whenever i want," and wondering what they mean.

if laughter is contagious, then i must be immune.

i'm ready for something new, something big. preferably dramatic and dangerous as well.

in my bedroom, there are feathers, feathers everywhere. dust balls and feathers, it never ends.

it was so sunny today that i thought about riding my bike. it didn't happen.

i thought about volunteering again. or an internship. but toby's right when she said, "there's nothing worse than a twenty-five year old intern."

i am owed something. i shouldn't have to start from scratch.

i'd just like to keep my sanity. and my dignity.

i'd like to see it all go down in the streets, to fulfill my childhood fantasy of defending myself, hiding behind my bedroom window, armed only with my rubber band gun, a bb gun, and a slingshot. your bombs and your bullets have nothing on us.

this wheel of fortune spins out of control.

this game of life is missing too many pieces.
god bless the darkness of the night.

another sunny day
that i just slept away.
all our lives are fictions.

my cousin quit updating her blog because she said she didn't know what to write about. so i'm doing a second entry tonight just to prove that there's shitloads to write about. whole volumes. they don't even have to make sense. i could go on for days, but sleep is more important. like how ate once said, "the greatest part about life is being asleep." what a sad fucking thing to say. i mean, i get her point, but shit, some thoughts you're just supposed to keep to yourself. like how the rich bitch's friend tells him that he "gets lonely sometimes." we all get lonely. even when we're with someone, or when we're with other people. especially when we're around other people. and, we would all rather be sleeping than doing anything else. these are givens. you don't have to voice them.

but now i'm getting off track. the whole point was to just write about whatever comes to your head. like this one time i slept over at joseph's house, and his sister, christine, was having a sleepover with her friends, vi and katie. joseph decided he was going to put shaving cream in vi's hand while she slept, and then he would tickle her face. but he couldn't find a feather, so he just left the shaving cream there. vi woke up the next morning with shaving cream all over her hair and all over the bed. she was mad pissed. joseph and i weren't laughing. we were more scared for our lives. good thing we didn't fuck with katie.

and then there was that time i tried to do a magic trick for my cousins. i just read about it in a magic book. you were supposed to put a paper towel over a cup, and then slide the cup over the edge of the table and into your lap so that the paper towel would make it look like it was still there, and then you would slam your hand down on the paper towel to show your audience that the cup had disappeared. but i was six, maybe seven. i used a nice glass from my mom's nice collection of glasses. and when i dropped the glass onto my lap, it rolled onto the floor and crashed.

there was a guy at work who said, "every experience is an experience." i like the line in no country for old men when tommy lee jones' character says, "it is true that it's a story."

i read a bunch of other blogs. they were kind of boring. a lot of people wrote so sequentially. this happened, then that happened. i went here, and i did this.

i want you to know that you're crazy. that i'm crazy. that the craziest thing of all is to pretend like we're not crazy.

like how, in college, when walking through the quad, i always wanted to just fall down into the water that was in the center of the quad. i just wanted to fall, face-first, down into the shallow water.

or how, when watching this one woman read at a bookstore downtown, i was so bored that i wanted to just fall out of my seat, and hope that i would keep falling.

it's like dave eggers when he just wrote, "FUCK! FUCKING SHIT! MOTHERFUCKER!" or maybe that was someone else...

it's like this: "i think the u.s. is one of the most wasteful societies ever created." and alternately, "i think the u.s. is one of the most resourceful societies ever created."

all those debates in school that made us think there was a right and a wrong. people voted, didn't they? people fucking voted. and the most clear, articulate, reasonable candidate got the job done.

we're in a state of emergency here.

it's like cindy who sometimes starts off her sentences with, "it's like..."

and then there's this issue of all these people, all these poor, unhappy, miserable souls that don't know who they are, and so they do things - things that aren't human, yet not necessarily inhumane - all of the time.

and i know what i'm talking about. and i don't know what i'm talking about. hard times or not, i will still be talking.

"open your mouth, you are lost. close your mouth you are lost."

don't tell me these things. i'm lost enough already.

and then there was supposed to be this stupid long, fucking entry that kept me awake for at least a good half an hour - it takes me a long time to fall asleep, especially if i'm thinking about something. it was supposed to go:

i am ignatius j. reilly, educated and stubborn.
i am mary grace, silently judging the self-righteous, throwing the book.
i am mrs. turpin, looking down upon others, getting the book thrown at my head.
i am francie nolan, desperately hoping, dreaming of a better life.
i am johnny nolan, a pipe dreamer, who will never accomplish what i set out to do.
i am katie nolan, hard working and thrifty.
i am neely nolan, street-smart and trying to survive.
i am professor tripp, trying to be somebody once again.
i am james lear, wonder boy.
i am winston smith, ready to sell out everything i love in the name of fear.
i am charlie, standing on the fringes of life.
i am holden caulfield, unable to relate to those around me.
i am franny, on the verge of a nervous breakdown.
i am dante the pilgrim, lost in the dark wood.

and, of course, there were supposed to be more. like moll flanders, tom jones, all these characters i could relate to. the ones who seemed more real to me than most people i've ever known.

and there was this line i had that i wanted to use in a story, a film, but who knows when those things will ever get done. for now, it'll have to sit here, in this depository: "maybe i should take an aspirin. maybe i should take all the aspirins."

and then this line created lyrics: "and all the aspirin in this world couldn't cure this headache that you've been giving me/'cause i don't want your love/i just want your pity."

what am i supposed to do with all these half-written songs? all these journals piling up? all these stories saved onto my computer? all these blog entries? what am i supposed to make of it?

i'm this kid, and i've got all these goddamn legos. i'm drowning in them. and i see this stupid picture of this giant castle, you know, the picture that came with all the legos - of what the end result could look like - and i'm just putting each lego into my mouth. i'm not even connecting the goddamn legos. i look around, and people are just throwing more legos into the pile. and some asshole is even making a joke: "leggo my legos!" and pretty soon it's just raining legos.

it's just coming down. it's all coming down, coming down like crazy. can you see it?

can you fucking see it?
a really good title for an entry,
but i forgot what it was.

my third day this week grading cbests. topic number 2 was for people to respond to the quotation: "it is better to have tried and failed than to never have tried at all." a lot of people wrote about thomas edison and how he found 9,999 ways how not to invent the light bulb. some people wrote about failed marriages. and at least two wrote about miscarriages. i really didn't get it. overall, though, people seemed to do a lot better with topic number 2. i read one paper about somebody who had a childhood friend who dared her to do a "mid-air high five" - that is, for both of them to jump out of their second story windows and give each other high fives. it was interesting enough, so i gave her a 4, the highest score possible.

one girl wrote about how her parents tried to discourage her from attending college. she wrote something like, "they told me i would fail, and that i would be broke." in retrospect, it's pretty sad, but when i first read it, i had to laugh out loud. i just imagined these two shitty parents sitting in front of the tv, or else playing nintendo, warning their daughter to not go to school. and here's this girl with her backpack, ready to head out the door, ready to leave for college, and her parents are just shaking their heads, saying, "you fool. don't do it. you'll fail." then i read some more, and it turned out her parents were almost right. her grades started to slip, and her parents encouraged her to drop out. i laughed again at what a pair of horrible parents they were. but eventually she got her shit together; she pulled through. her parents finally saw her potential, and eventually chose to support her financially, so she could focus on school full-time. then she graduated. i passed her with a 3.

for the first topic, the one about whether or not the u.s. deserves the label of a "disposable society," i read this one paper with a really wordy intro. it started off like, "well, if one were to take a free-market capitalist stance on the issue....and if one were to adopt a marxist perspective...and if one were to make a conservation approach, then..." it had obviously been written by someone who had never left her classroom, or ever looked up from her books. i knew a girl like this. a girl named julia. i worked with her once. she asked me to be her writing consultant for one, grueling, hour-long session, god knows why. she heard from a little bird that i was 'good' at what i do. if by 'good,' she thought i was someone who couldn't understand what the hell her paper was about, and that she needed to explain it to me as if i were a five year-old, then she'd be right. i really hated those types of sessions. ones where i obviously had no idea what philosophy, what political topic, what analysis of an essay one was trying to explain to me. the trick the motto: "if the writer can't explain it, can't articulate it, then the writer doesn't know what the hell he's talking about."

but, of course, someone like julia could explain it; she could articulate the main point of the essay. she could also pinpoint the main idea of each paragraph, and point out references, and fully flesh out each supporting detail. and, likewise, i could not, for the life of me, be patient enough to listen to anything about post-modernity, abstractionism, post-colonialism, magical realism, surrealism, etc. all of this, all of these ideas lost me every time. school never taught me any of that. the only thing school taught me can be summed up easily by one of flannery o'connor's neighbors:

i only learned "how some folks do."

this second round of grading has gotten me thinking (again) about what makes good writing. what constitutes a "4"? one editor for the literary magazine glimmer train once said about good writing: "it's difficult to articulate, but not to recognize." that's completely true. if asked to write a 4 essay, or even a 4 blog entry, i couldn't do it. i know that having a wide vocabulary helps a lot. being able to use words like: "exigent," "advent," "concupiscence," "lattice" and "intricacies" will get you up there, especially if you can spell them and use them correctly. and it's weird, too, how we graders know when someone has "control" over his essay, so that when the writer uses fragments like, "oh yeah," it doesn't count against him. on the contrary; suddenly, he has "style" and "voice." whereas another "weaker" writer, who might choose to use the exact same fragment, "oh yeah," will be penalized. he will get a 2.

how does one grade writing? how does one teach it? how does one fucking major in it?

based on eileen's recommendation, i'm reading francine prose's blue angel. the book was namedropped by laura linney's character in the savages, so i thought eileen might be on to something. anyway, the first chapter takes place in a writer's workshop. one of the boys in the class has written about a character that fucked a dead chicken. the scene rang true. it reminded me of when meagan showed me this short story called "tina and the king." in the story, this couple starts getting turned on after striking each other with taco bell burritos. why do college students feel the need to write such stupid stories? i can't say i didn't enjoy them, but they're obviously not doing anything other than trying to elicit some sort of shock, or disgust. any reaction will do.

i never really went for that. i wrote long, boring stories because that's what life is: long and boring.

when writing, i think i want(ed) to reflect people's dull realities back to them. the funniest and most outgoing people i knew (know) were (are) often the most tragic. but i tried to be funny, too, sometimes. you can't always be so serious, and you can't always take yourself so seriously.

yes, i'm ending on a goddamn cliche.

give me a break. i've been reading them all week.
fifty-cent suckers.

i forgot to mention that a few weeks ago, i asked my cousin sabrina, an eighth grader at st. ignatius, whether or not the eighth grade class still sold valentine's suckers to raise funds for their end-of-the-year class trip. she said, "no." when i pushed the subject further, it sounded like she had no idea what the hell i was talking about. come to think of it, the eighth grade sucker tradition ended even before i got there, so i don't even know why i brought it up in the first place. maybe i thought they revived it. it was a pretty awful fundraiser, if you think about it.

here's what would go down: just a few weeks before valentine's day, representatives from the eighth grade class - usually two very perky girls - would visit each classroom and tell us that, for fifty cents, we could purchase a sucker for our "friends, crushes, and sweethearts," and this sucker would come along with a personalized message. i'd usually get two, maybe three suckers a year. one from my cousin claire, and once i got one from my cousin byron. some of the girls in my class, the real skinny ones with sparkly white teeth, would often get a dozen or more. i never joined in the "oohs" and "ahhs" when the girls would tally their sucker counts on the board; instead, i chose to dwell upon the unspoken pity surrounding the sucker-less suckers. these were normally the bigger boys. the ones who didn't look so good. the ones nobody wished to sit next to on the bench. the few whose addresses on the school roster normally preceded that dreaded abbreviation: "apt.," followed by the even more unholy # symbol.

but you couldn't really throw down two quarters to make the fat kid's day, could you? no, of course not. if you did, you'd be a faggot. if you did, your worst fear would come true; he would want to befriend you. he would prey on your pity; your act of charity would serve as an open invitation to become best buds. i wonder how many fat, sucker-less kids crying in the corner it took for mrs. clark to realize that maybe this whole valentine's day sale wasn't such a good idea. we'll have a bake sale instead this year. we'll wash cars. bring your buckets, children.

i never sent any family members any suckers. i sent my friend joseph one once. it was just so i could write this ditty i came up with one day that was so stupid and strange that it warranted a sucker. it went: "a happy v's, a happy v's, a here we go, a you're too slow." it made no sense, just as i don't make any sense. anyone who really knows me knows that i come up with these bizarre sayings as often as i can. so it cracked both of us up.

i thought about sending a sucker to one of the girls in the class ahead of me. it wouldn't be as awkward, you know, since we don't share the same classroom or anything. and anyway, she wouldn't even know what to think of it. but what if it did lead to something. imagine how cool it would be to go out with an older girl. older girls know a lot more than the girls in my class. that would definitely make me look cool, no doubt about it. but the boys in seventh grade are a lot cooler, much more athletic. why wouldn't she just hook up with one of them? maybe they're all gay. maybe they're annoyed by the girls in their class like i am annoyed by the girls in my class. so this will be perfect. yes, i'll take one sucker, please. wait! no, yes. no. maybe. can i still get one tomorrow?

oh, forget it.
happy valentine's day.
G         C
Five years ago
I fell in love with a college girl
She took my heart

But she went to school to learn something new
and now I'm in Sacto with a broken heart

Oh broken hearted Filipino sucker guy
Oh broken hearted Filipino sucker, sucker guy

One day I'll go there and win her once again
but until then I'm just a sucker of a guy

the pubic and private sector.

graded cbests today. some dumb idiot wrote, "the pubic and private sector," more than a few times in his essay. i laughed at it, seventh grader that i am. he passed with a three. today's question was: "do you agree that the u.s. is wasteful with regards to natural and human resources? explain." i was surprised that maybe just under half the responses said that this country wasn't wasteful. but then it would usually turn out that the writer was severely confused, and would typically go on and on about how "we are the world leaders, and most other countries look to us as the model." it could almost make sense. when talking about the human resources part, i imagined that a lot of people would talk about how useless state jobs are, or how americorps volunteers don't do anything - something alone those lines, you know - but most people, again, came across as confused, citing things like, "people with 'special needs' are now being given menial jobs," etc. really, what am i supposed to do with that?

kathy simpson, the testing coordinator/facilitator (whatever her title is), came up to me at some point during the day. "james," she said, "you've been giving a lot of people 2's. so, next time you're thinking about giving someone a 2, take it to an acr first." an acr is some old person who sits in a room by himself and reads, while waiting to assist people like me, who can't make out cursive handwriting, or who give too many low scores to writers. i took my next test to him. he read it out loud. when he finished, he said, "sounds like a 2." i gave it a 2. a 2 is a failing score. we look at 2's during diagnostic testing, which will happen monday, and we bubble in reasons for why this particular essay should receive a 2 and not a 3.

i stood out in the sun and ate lunch by myself.

i've been kind of sick. going to san francisco yesterday, i'm sure, didn't help it much. i have the kind of sick where my nose runs and my cheeks feel warm, and if i'm lying in bed, i get shivers. also, my ears have been popping. it's amazing how quiet it gets. that part i like. when i go deaf, i won't even mind. so, after work, i took a nap. i slumped on the couch and watched barak talking about how his dad left him when he was 2, but he had a family that loved him. i sat there, slouching, at the same time thinking, if this guy's gonna win, he'd better fucking do something. and people better get really, really pissed off if he doesn't.

part of me wants to believe in him. part of me doesn't want to believe in thomas, the white house protester. thomas, who has camped out in a broken down tent every day since the early 80's, telling me that this is all a "facade." that it's such a facade, even his own presence, his entire protest, could be nothing more than symbolic, too. i want thomas to not have to camp out there any longer. do something already, barak. and god help you if you let us down.

i was thinking how this whole idea of electing one person to fix everything is kind of ridiculous to begin with. i mean, if you really thought about putting this one person in power - someone who's going to make sure that everyone gets medical insurance, someone who's going to make sure that corporations don't get away with every single dollar, someone who's going to make sure that your kid has a chance to go to college - doesn't that mere act lead us to believe we're unable to change anything ourselves? vote for this one person because the millions of people who slave away every hour of the day can't fucking come together and get shit done themselves?

alright, i feel ill. time to call it a night.
we are hypocrites and we are liars.

i cringe when i look at previous entries. sometimes, they're even just from a few days ago. like how i rail against capitalism, and then i buy a brand new guitar. or how i talk about privileged kids when i live off my parents. it's all pretty ridiculous. i live a comfortable life compared to many others. i just want to take a moment and acknowledge my hypocrisy, the unwarranted, self-righteous, petty, and downright boring rants that i occasionally spew. this blog was originally supposed to document my working with kids. remember steven, and eric, and delsy, and magali, and anna, and carlos? my kids. i was supposed to save them. i was supposed to be something to them. obviously, i've gotten off track.

i had no intention of saving those mather youth kids. i knew they were doomed from the start. i guess that's an ugly way of looking at things, but i don't know how else to do it. a bad banana ruins the fruit basket, but sometimes the basket's a piece of shit to begin with. i hope now that this blog documents how much an effect one's environment and one's social circle has on his entire world view. how do you escape the cave when no one believes there's no light, no world other than the shadows of american idol and the girls next door. in the book a heartbreaking work of staggering genius, after he becomes orphaned, dave eggers says, "we are owed something." that's how i've always set out in this world. it's taking me some time to realize that i'm owed nothing, that my world can shrink or grow, depending on my actions.

chelsea baker rang me up at guitar center today. i bought a kyser silver capo. i stood there for a while looking at it, when she finally noticed me, and said, "can i help you with anything?" i do these things now where i think about saying something, something i really want to say, but i always, always hold back. in this case, it was: "i need help with a lot of things." but i asked to see the capo instead. she rang me up. during the process of our transaction, she got distracted by a fellow co-worker. a guy dressed in black, patches on the pocket of his short-sleeved shirt, hair down past his shoulders. they argued about something. i took my receipt from her, and thanked her, while she was still talking to her co-worker. she called out, "thanks," as i had my back to her.

it's moments like this that make me wonder what we're doing. just what the fuck are we doing, exactly? we are taught to value money and registers and things, fucking things over real, human interaction. each interaction more deadening than the last: would you like a message on your cake? would you like a bag with that? that'll be $19.38. do you have change for a ten? masterpiece theatre at nine. thin crust or regular? is that the best you can do? we guarantee the lowest prices anywhere. you're listening to ksfm 102.5. congratulations! you've been conditionally accepted to our program. we thank you for your interest, but the position has been filled by another candidate. number 2 pencil only, please. please, no talking during the test. please leave a message. may the lord be with you; and also with you; we lift up our hearts; we lift them up to the lord.

somebody please, for the love of god, talk to me like i'm a human being for once.
can you hear the drums, fernando?

my old man drove us to the freeport bakery, where we would pick up a chocolate decadence cake ($25) for my mom's sixty-first birthday, which is tomorrow. i didn't like listening to the commercials on the radio, so i put on a cd he had stashed in the compartment. not the glove compartment, but the one that sits between the driver's and passenger's seats. what's that one called? anyway, he had a francoise hardy cd which i gave him for his birthday, two, maybe three years ago, and an abba's greatest hits, also a gift from me. what can i say? i don't know what to get the guy other than music. so i put on abba's greatest hits. we listened to "s.o.s.," "mamma mia," and "fernando." this is what fathers and sons do. i asked him if this freeport area had a bad reputation. "not so much," he said. "it's worse back there," he said, motioning to the streets which we had already passed.

i got out of the car. it was a warm day, maybe seventy degrees. the weather has been global-warmingly magnificent lately. i asked him if he could pay for the cake, and that i would pay him back. he said, "i got it." i wonder what he thinks about his college-educated son who hasn't worked for the past six months. i try not to dwell on it. there's an old man reading the paper outside. he's sitting by himself, looks up when we pass him. i have nothing to say to him. the freeport bakery is loaded with cakes being rung up by women in their twenties, most likely sac city students. i tell the bakery lady that we would like the chocolate decadence cake. she asks if we would like something written on the cake. i ask my old man. he nods. "could you write, 'happy birthday lou' on it?" i say. "lou?" she asks. "l-o-u?" "yes," i say. she says she needs to go to the back, so she goes to the back, and when she comes back, she slips the display cake back in the case. she rings up the cake; my old man pays her.

that's the whole story. great story, huh?

i don't want my mom to be upset that all we got her was a chocolate cake, so i suggest to my dad that we do some things, like maybe hire an electrician to fix the broken socket next to the sink, or else buy a new toaster oven. she had a freak out yesterday, while trying to cook fried chicken. she's done this before. she made a batch of fried chicken, and then she strips the meat from the bone and says, "pula" (tagalog: red), meaning the chicken is undercooked. so she said she needed to broil the chicken. "kaka eenis," (tagalog: so irritating) she repeated. she tried to turn on our busted toaster oven (only the bottom part heats up) and finally slammed some pots and pats down. "and this doesn't work!" she said, raising her voice, "so what are you gonna do!" she wrung her hands in the air, and stormed off to the bedroom, where she quietly closed the door behind her. serenity now, serenity now.

so i figured i'd get her a new toaster oven. i bought it from target, so she could return it if it happens to let her down within the next 90 days. my dad didn't know what to get her, so i suggested an ipod, so that she has some music to listen to when she takes her morning walks. he thought it was a reasonable idea. in the car, i asked him "can you listen to music at work, too?" "yeah," he said. "so if she doesn't like it, i can use it, too." we got her a purple one, as per my dad's suggestion.

"want to get a pizza?" my dad asked. "sure," i said. "round table?" "sure," i said. "why don't we call in advance," i suggested. "do you have their number?" "just call 411," i said. he dialed. "does it cost extra for 411?" he asked. "yeah," i said. "i think so." he called in the pizza, and we headed towards round table on kiefer blvd. "how long has this place been here?" i asked, while waiting with him at a table. "i don't know," he said. "maybe eighties, early seventies." "still looks the same," i said. he agreed. at the other end of the restaurants, there was a group of kids, eating pizza, being boisterous, being young and carefree. a girl got up to visit the salad bar. she didn't put much on her plate, then rejoined her group. "ron!" the pizza lady called. he got up and she handed him the pizza. then we left.

that's the second part of the story. great story, huh?
keep holy the sabbath.

i never got the whole "sabbath" thing. jews keep holy their sabbath on saturday, so weren't christians supposed to do that, too? why do christians go to church on sunday, if saturday is the official day of worship? i once whined to my dad about having to go to church. he said, "god gives you so much, and all he asks of you is one hour of the week." i don't remember god asking that. well, maybe in the bible. but the bible was just written by some old men who wanted to control everything, the universe included. i used to have to go to sunday school. they crammed all us little ones in this small chapel, kind of like an annex (not sure if that's the right word) to st. ignatius church.

i hated going. i knew even then that the sunday school teacher was completely disoriented and that her faith was based on nothing. well, maybe i didn't think that exactly, but i knew enough not to listen to her, and instead spend my time looking at the girls, who usually sat on the opposite side. louise with red hair and freckles. and later, how all the boys called her "broke," but i didn't care. like charlie brown and like wooderson, i had a thing for redheads.

and when we were done with sunday "school," we walked back to our parents just in time for communion. i hated that walk back to them. for some reason, i'd always get this stupid smile on my face, as if i were saying to myself, i can't believe i belong to this stupid church and that i have to dress up nicely and comb my hair to impress all these old people. i never really found church useful. in later years, i'd always tell my mom that i learned a lot more through theology classes taught by bitter, old jesuit priests than i ever did sitting in a pew, smelling old man cologne and old woman perfume, staring up at a wooden, broken down superstar. i didn't include those second parts when i said it, obviously, but i just told her i didn't want to go to church anymore. it took her a while to get over that. i'm sure she still hasn't completely gotten over it, since at christmas time, she'll ask me in kind of a guilt-tripping tone, "are you coming with us?" and this last december, just like every year, i give in.

the best memories i have of church are when the service finally ended. my parents did (and still do) this thing where they have to wait for the priest to pass their aisle before they can leave. they can't just leave when the music starts, or even when the priest completely disappears into the lobby. no, they wait for the precise moment when he passes the aisle, then it's time to go. usually, we sat in the back, but my grandma liked to sit up front by herself. she wanted the best seat in the house. and then, after mass, we would meet up with her, and if it was sunday morning, we'd go get brunch, probably somewhere like the marie callendar's next door. eggs and bacon inside, pie to go. same as usual.

every sunday, same deal. when you're a kid it's boring, but i guess when you're old, you take some comfort in it.
you could throw a rock from
the border and hit the factory.

when i went to skip's with my cousin, he wanted to buy an electric guitar because the salesman was giving him a "good" deal. we looked at the back of the guitar and it turned out it was made in mexico. he told the salesman he didn't know this until just now. the salesman acted like he should've already known that. the salesman also said, "it shouldn't really matter. i mean, you could literally throw a rock from the border and hit the factory." this stupid, insensitive comment made by a stupid, insensitive employee, is reason enough for one to never set foot in skip's again.

as soon as he said it, i just envisioned this group of white boys in their twenties, and for some reason they're wearing flannel shirts, and they're standing on the usa/mexico border, throwing rocks at factories. this group of privileged, white assholes, taking the day off from their stupid, shitty jobs, selling garbage made by someone else, making 100 times more than the physical laborers. and here they are, throwing rocks at factories, literally, figuratively, just to prove that guitars from mexico are still good to buy, even though they're made by workers with no insurance, no benefits, who make less than a dollar a day. and then i see these salesmen driving around in their stupid pick-up trucks, with their confederate flag-framed license plates, a stupid fucking jack-in-the-box head on their antennaes, a pair of balls in a sack hanging from the truck's trailer hitch, the "to" and "ta" removed from the logo so that the back reads, "yo," and from inside the cab, they're blasting some 70's wanker rock, or else it's some horrible, god-awful neu-metal.

can you see these assholes? i know you know who they are.

it conjures up all kinds of things buried in my psyche. how ridiculous it is for one person to be bought and sold, while the other wears a tie to work. how one person stands at the border, chugging his corona, laughing wildly with his frat brothers, throwing rocks at the people who were supposed to own this fucking land, while the other loses his hand in the meat slicer. how one person can blog, sleep in, while the other must slave away at every waking moment. how one woman can be kidnapped, beaten, and sold into sexual slavery, while the other merely pays to get off, pays to own her. where's the celestial design here? if you believe in god, then god is a negligent father.

but no one can really talk, can he? i've bought tons of goods, i'm sure, made by slaves. i eat the food picked by calloused, bruised, and broken hands. to think about it is painful, and it usually induces feelings of guilt and self-hatred. but just because you choose to ignore it doesn't mean it's not there, that it's not happening.

it's all happening. it's here. our collective anger should be enough by now.