i hate california girls.


the flight up north was better than most flights i've ever had. on time, not bumpy, and plenty of empty seats. i trekked to the back of the plane and placed my guitar in the overhead compartment. a girl took the seat in my row by the aisle, and there was a seat empty between us. she put her bag there. i had my record bag and leather jacket at my feet. i didn't think it fair that only she should get to use the space between us. i had to say something. the plane took off, and i watched california disappear below. the girl put her hands to her ears. it looked like she really hated flying.


i didn't say anything for a while. i considered listening to my zune, but i decided that i should be open and start conversations with strangers. it was the thing i did when i was kind of content with all things, so why not try it again. where to start, though? "do you hate fying?" "where do you go to school?" finally, the perfect starter: "do you mind if i put my bag up here?" i asked. she said nothing, and just scooched her belongings to the side. she seemed a little stand-offish. i hesitated to say anything more. but i wanted friends. i wanted to believe i was still capable of something as silly as this.


"do you go to school in seattle?" "no," she said, "i'm still in high school. and i'm not going to seattle; i'm going to spokane." i suddenly felt very old. i am at that age now where i can no longer discern how old members of the opposite sex are. 15, 27, 45. as far as i can tell, any female can pass for any age. i didn't say anything more. i didn't want to come across as unfriendly, but i also didn't want to say anything else to make her thing i was hitting on her, which, of course, i wasn't. i said something anyway. "what were you doing in sacramento?" "i was at church camp." "oh, cool," i said. but i really didn't think it was cool at all.


now i had to know. had she been a part of something similar to the documentary jesus camp? "so, is it the type of camp where kids testify and stuff?" i raised my hand, to illustrate to this naive girl what it means to "testify." "not really," she said. "it's more like a leadership camp. we put on plays and do music for worship and stuff like that." "oh okay." "what do you do in spokane?" "i'm not actually from spokane. it's the closest city to where i'm going." suddenly, it struck me. this girl was from the tri-cities. "do you live in the tri-cities?" i asked. she laughed a little bit. "yeah," she said. "my girlfriend is from there," i said. i was fully relieved that i could slip that in there, as an indication that no, i'm not a dirty old man, and i'm not hitting on you. please believe me.


"what do you do in the tri-cities?" i asked. "i don't do anything, really," she said. "i go to school, go to church, and that's it." she seemed embarassed to admit this. i tried to sympathize. "yeah, whenever we go there, all we do is go out to eat." "yeah," she said, "that's about all there is." when i got to seattle, i didn't feel anything. i wasn't happy, relieved, anxious. nothing, neutral. i realized this girl was right. all anyone does is eat, go to work (well, some of us), sleep. there isn't much to life. it's not complicated. why did i try to imply that being in a big city means something? all i've done so far is eat, fill out applications, and go to one job interview.


yesterday, i decided i wanted to be reckless and push myself a little more. what could it hurt? i spent the entire past year doing nothing but wallowing in self-pity. i decided i would bike from georgetown to the capitol hill area. it's a six mile ride, and i'm sure it's nothing to most riders, but i'm not most riders. i am slow, unconfident, and i barely know how and when to change gears. on the steep hills, i walked my bike on the sidewalk. when i was riding, other bikers would pass me and yell at me, to get out of their way. so, it felt like a huge accomplishment when i made it to meagan's apartment. i decided to reward myself with lunch at jamjuree.


i also made an appointment to take the strong test at seattle university's career center. this middle eastern looking guy gave me my results. i thought he would just say, "here, you'd probably be good at being a writer," but i was wrong. he spent two hours trying to explain that the test was only "descriptive and not prescriptive." basically, he was saying that i shouldn't let the test dictate what i ought to do with my life. but honestly, that's exactly why i took the test. i wanted direction. i wanted an easy answer. i wanted someone to say, "you'd be good at this. do it forever."


the test cost ten dollars. the receptionist said, "check or cash?" i had neither. i just remembered i left my checks in another bag in sacramento, and i deposited all my cash in my checking account. "i could run to wamu," i said. "how long will that take?" he asked. "fifteen, twenty minutes." he frowned. "well, since we're getting started so late, why don't you just pay tomorrow (today). my results came up: 1) musician 2) librarian 3) technical writer 4) translator. i'm thinking about not paying the ten dollar fee.


at the beginning of the test, it asked: how satisfied are you with life? 1 - very dissatisfied 10 - very satisfied. i was lost, obviously, but i was also hungry. i chose 3, closer to very dissatisfied. how happy have you been lately? 1 - very unhappy 2 - not very happy 3 - happy 4 - very happy. i spent the entire morning trying to get emily's dog, omar, to come inside the house, and then i spent the entire afternoon worrying that someone would dognap him, or that he would jump the fence. i chose 2 - not very happy.


afterward, i felt even more lost. i mean, i want to be a musician. no shit. but music isn't going to pay the bills. i told this to daniel, the career counselor. "well, then you have to think about your values. maybe you value stability and financial security. remember, this test is just about your interests." well shit, daniel. i'm also interested in figuring out what i should do my life. how about you make a test that has some real answers? but i knew he was right. no one has that answer except for me. so i'll have to keep interviewing, keep talking with strangers, learning from others, doing random shit and blogging to keep it interesting, to at least attempt to figure it all out.


i walked from seattle university back to georgetown. later that night, meagan googlemapped it to see how far i'd gone. a total of 5.7 miles, and i covered it in about an hour and a half. at one point, i looked behind me and saw the entire city at a distance. damn, i thought, i've walked pretty fucking far. and i thought about walking to portland. i thought about walking and walking and walking to stop myself from thinking. my legs hurt and my feet were sore, but i knew i was going someplace, and i had a destination, so it was okay to just suffer through it.

1 comment:

Jacob Dempsey said...

You forgot to mention that yesterday we got schooled at horse by a 10 year old (which, by the way, I blame you for).