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.

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