finish your collapse and stay for breakfast.

i've declared today casual friday, and by "casual" i mean that i've been casually shopping for a laptop all morning. why not? it's payday, and i'd like to watch the third season of weeds at some point. i went back and forth between dell and hp, and after reading all the negative dell reviews, i finally decided to go with an hp. both websites give the customer a chance to "customize" his/her laptop, and by "customizing" they mean selling you a bunch of extra, unnecessary crap. i didn't spring for anything super fancy; i took the minimalist approach because i'm a minimalist kind of guy. and anyway, i already got burned on a previous used laptop purchase, so i felt guilty spending the extra money.

i have to admit, it is pretty empowering to finally be able to make real purchases. while i can't justify buying a nice new bed and a new laptop, i have to say that i will actually use these things, and that they will bring me some comfort/relief/entertainment at the end of painfully casual workdays. i don't think buying stuff would be so wrong if the manufacturers would stop making an excess of crappy goods. why don't they just make top-of-the-line everything? if you can't afford it, you can't afford it. simple as that. forget about putting it on credit, or taking out loans; it just shouldn't be a possibility. i think people would be a lot happier if more things were simply out of reach.

on the plus side, soon i can blog from home.
i've got it on cassette.

most people in this country look down upon overeating, overspending, and pretty much over-anything, but i haven't heard many complaints about oversleeping, so i assume that i'm alright. last night, i slept for ten hours (9:00 p.m. - 7:00 a.m.), and it was pretty damn great. my dreams, like everyone else's, are much more interesting and creative than our drab realities. for example, i was in this record store, either with the rich bitch or jacob, and i found all these neil young records that i'd never even heard of or seen. i moved from "y" to "r" and then i found a radiohead christmas album. there were small cartoon children on the album cover, and it looked like something disney would've created. i had to hear it, but i didn't want to pay $24.99 for the vinyl.

the record store clerk sensed my urgency to hear what thom yorke would sound like caroling. "i've got in on a cassette," he said, and he played it. it wasn't a traditional christmas song, but the melody was definitely winter wonderland-inspired, complete with chimes, bells, and your typical christmas melody. i couldn't believe what i was hearing. radiohead doing a christmas song? amazing. this happens to me a lot, in my dreams, i mean. i hear these great songs that i've never heard before, and sometimes i even sing or play songs that sound original and awesome. asleep, i have the ability to be a musical genius, but awake, i have nothing.

and then i dreamed that i wasn't just playing super monkey ball punchout, but that i was actually in the ring. we looked like transformers. i realized during the match, though, that someone had left two player on, and was just knocking out the idling second player and racking up points. totally cheating. our gloves weren't big, either, but sometimes they were. we, the transformers, could often pull off the ryu street fighter kick, the kind where you grab the opponent, stick your foot against his stomach, and send him flying off behind you. super monkey ball punchout is a great game.

walking down the hill to the law building, i overheard two men walking behind me. one was a fat older man with a beard, and the other was a twenty-four year old law student. i didn't pay much attention to their conversation until i heard the fat man say, "so, you're like what, let me guess, twenty-three?" "twenty-four." "okay, twenty-four. so, you must get laid a few times, am i right?" "yeah." "then you're fine, that means you're good at bullshitting." they both chuckled their little lawyer chuckles. i didn't hold the door open for them.

i can't believe i have to share the planet with these people.
you only live once.

last night, while taking the 49 back to my place, this jamaican guy tapped me on the shoulder. i turned around. "hey man," he said, "this third street?" "no," i told him, "we're still on broadway." "oh. i don't need to stop here!" he informed the driver. "i thought this was my stop, but it's not. you can keep going!" this made me laugh a little, since he was obviously drunk and talking to the bus driver as though he were his personal chaueffer. "i'm lost, man," he told me. "i need to catch the 125 downtown to get to west seattle, but i'm lost." "well, third street is still a little bit down. we'll go down pine, and then turn left on third."

he seemed to acknowledge what i was saying. i smelled the alcohol on him, but it wasn't strong alcohol; it smelled almost like cologne. maybe he had been drinking cologne. "i gotta stop at a gas station first," he told me, "i need to get loaded." his dark eyelids drooped heavily and his head lulled from side to side. i nodded, as though confirming this fact that everyone needs to get loaded every now and then. "i don't know," he shrugged, "you only live once." i was trying to read fidelity, but i enjoyed the distraction. i was waiting for him to tell me something ridiculous, but it didn't happen. he just kept talking about how he needed to find a gas station so he could get loaded.

"how long have you been in seattle?" i asked. "not long," he said, "just a couple weeks. i'm from the midwest, but i come here now and then. i don't know this place." i just nodded. he seemed perfectly content, being high, drunk, or drunk and high, taking bus rides which may or may not be his actual destination. "will you tell me when we're on third?" "sure," i said. i pointed out that we were on eighth, and that the numbers just kept going down. "ah, yes," he said. i was interested in this person; where he'd come from, where he was going. the answers, i'm sure, would prove to be a lot more interesting than my own.

sometimes i sit on the bus and get pretty down. maybe it's the music i'm listening to, or feeling so closed in when it gets super crowded. once, i saw this really depressing city year/americorps ad. it was red with a white timeline, and the timeline had these dates bulleted: born, graduate, change the world (city year), get a job, retire, die. i thought it was the most ridiculous ad i'd ever seen. first of all, shouldn't one constantly be trying to change the world throughout his entire lifetime? and why perpetuate this myth that one can change the world in one year by volunteering? everyone knows it's bullshit.

i think, too, about moll flanders, and how moll realized that she felt lonelier in the city than she did when she was isolated in the country. it's something about being surrounded by lots of people, but not quite knowing how to interact with them. i don't think i really know for sure how to interact with people. others, i find, know very well how to put on a show; they laugh as they say their goodbyes.
the rip-off.

he didn't return my call last night, when i told him that i'd like to talk to him about the laptop purchase i made. i barely slept, thinking about how i would approach it. i know that there are no real guarantees on craigslist, and it's pretty much assumed all sales are final. still, i wanted to get a hold of him. maybe he was a reasonable man. i called him twice again this morning, and no response. finally, around 1:30 p.m., he picked up. it was difficult to hear him; an ambulance wailed in the background.

"hey. i bought that laptop from you yesterday." "yeah? what's up." "hey, i was wondering if you'd be willing to give me a refund." "why? what's wrong with it?" "it's just not working out for me." he advertised the laptop as an 80gb hard drive; in reality, it was only 30 gb, but since it runs windows vista, it's about 20 gb. for some reason, though, it mysteriously just keeps declining. now it's at 13.9 gb. by 8:00 p.m. tonight, it could very well be utterly obsolete. what the hell kind of a laptop is this? i continued my complaints. "you know, it just wasn't the computer you actually advertised." i heard him thinking for a moment, his juvenile mind searching for an excuse not to help me. "i...i spent the money already." "well, that's really not cool," i said, "because this laptop isn't any good." "give me a call tomorrow," he said. "we'll work something out." yeah. by "work out," i'm sure he means not picking up the phone when he sees me calling.

he ripped me off, and i have to deal with it. still, it doesn't stop me from feeling racist.
ghetto gangsters.

who knew that starting a new life would be so costly? it's no wonder no one ever leaves home unless it's for school or a job. there are all sorts of things we have to buy. consume and consume and it never ends. i could've cut corners, obviously, but i feel like i've already had to do that as a student and then as an americorps volunteer, so why should i have to do that now? in robert deniro's words, "when's it gonna be my turn, huh?" i decided to splurge on a nice, comfortable bed, since i've never had one. i've always slept on "efficient" twin beds, and i've never known what a "nice" bed actually felt like. i decided to go with one from the recycled home company.

recycled home company is this store located in downtown seattle, where they sell a bunch of one-of-a-kind art, vintage furniture, etc. they also have pre-owned beds and new beds. i bought the value rest 500 series bed, which i found through a craigslist ad, retailed at $395 + $45 for delivery. i didn't really want to spend that much on a bed, but i figured it's where i spend one-third of my day, so i may as well get something comfortable. and yes, there's a big difference between the value rest 200 and the value rest 500.

but, guess what? it doesn't end there. no, of course it doesn't. because it'd be too much for an independent retailer to also sell nice sheets and comforters to go with the bed. you have to go to a whole different store for that. thus, on saturday morning, meagan and i headed to ikea for a second time so that she could help me pick out a down comforter, a duvet and some sheets. i had my giant yellow bag full of stuff to purchase - $154.52 worth of crap - and i was all ready to pay for it. i slid my debit card through, and nothing happened. i slid it again, but worried that i would be charged twice for the purchase. again, nothing happened. was all my money gone or what?

at this point, on the self-service machine, i read a note that said customers who use debit save 3% or something like that. i really wanted to run my debit card through. i asked a nearby clerk for assistance. "hi," i said, "can you help me? my debit card isn't going through." "you didn't enter the right pin," she barked, "you'll have to run it through as credit." "but i'd like to save 3% with my debit card." "it's too late," she said, "you've gotta do it as credit." i felt like an animal being forced down the line. i already hated this place, ikea - why was i even here? - and then, to have to deal with this nazi clerk, this ugly little piece of tukwila trash - i was fuming.

as she ate her nasty ikea cinnamon roll, meagan sensed my frustration. "can we go?" i asked, "i really don't want to be here anymore." "sure," she said, "just let me wash my hands." as she got up to find the nearest sink, i looked around at all the cattle, buying the same poor quality, exoticly-named shit. and then i remembered i still had some ounce of power, a little bit of dignity. i told meagan i was going to return the shit i was forced to buy, and that i - we - would never come back here again. "okay," she said, "but that's it. you're on your own now."

i returned my garbage and told the clerk about his fellow clerk's rude service. he apologized and told me to fill out a comment card. i did just that, even though i didn't care if ikea "improved" or not. i highly doubt a giant, worldwide, multi-billion dollar corporation gives two shits about my unhappy comments.

i didn't feel any better that i had to go to target afterward and buy pillows, pillow protectors, and pillow cases - for a grand total of $84. i was fine before i needed all this crap, and now it seemed as though i couldn't possibly function without them. i guess it's payback for always silently judging others who buy compulsively and seemingly to no end. i get it. when you live in a studio apartment by yourself way outside the city, you just want stuff. you want to be surrounded by things, things that wil endlessly entertain you and bring you ephemeral joy. you want things to look nice, the way they do in movies and magazines, because you think these things will make your life more interesting.

but they won't. they're just a damned headache. on an impulse, i bought a dell laptop from this dude off craigslist. i seriously regret it, and now i'm trying to get rid of it on craigslist for a fraction of the cost. but thinking about getting rid of it kept me up all night. i thought of siddhartha, and how he tossed and turned at night, thinking about money - how to acquire it, how to spend it. these few purchases i've made have already ended up owning me. maybe i should've just been a carpenter's apprentice, or even a law student. one year later, i still don't know what i want.

maybe a refurbished flat-screen will do for now.
the $45 dining table.

meagan and i went to tukwila last night, in search of a full bed for my new studio. we went to the macy's furniture store, thinking that it was the clearance furniture store. most beds ran from about $699 to well over $2000. with no intention of buying, i test-drove the cheapest twin bed they had, one that ran for about $600 - $700. "i can't tell the difference," i told meagan. "i don't see what makes a good bed any different from a bad one." "you're used to sleeping on pretty terrible beds," she said. then she went and rested on a $2000 bed. "come try out this one," she said.

i plopped down on the bed, and immediately, i could tell the difference. it felt like sinking into a giant cloud, but still having the support. i didn't want to get up from the bed. "i get it," i said aloud. still, $2000 wasn't in the budget i had mentally created when thinking about how to furnish my apartment. "this is like a career bed," i said, then added, "this is like a bed you sleep in for the rest of your life. the kind of bed you get when you get married." i told her i wasn't sure how long i planned on staying in my apartment, and since this uncertainty lingered, i wasn't ready to make a $500 investment in a bed, let alone a $2000 one.

the mattress store gave meagan the creeps, and i have to admit, i was weirded out, too. what a strange business it is, selling big boxes and pads that people spend 1/3 of their day on, that they fuck on, that they cry on, that they have no idea what to do with once they move out. giant things that require trucks and rope and pivoting just to get through the door. and the varying price ranges. again, it's like asking, how much do i value comfort at night? is my comfort only worth a $100 used ikea bed from craigslist, or is my sleep-time comfort worth $2000? who makes these decisions? how do people decide?

staring up at the ceiling while test driving the twin mattress, i remarked how the furniture store reminded me of a funeral parlor, or else a casket shop. meagan agreed. "i think that's why it's so creepy," she said. i told her that we should go, that i had no intention of dropping a single dollar in the store. "i guess i'm not the young professional you thought i was," i said. "i can't afford this. this is for people with money." we drove across the street to the real macy's furniture clearance store. a sign outside read: "mattress event." "what the hell is a 'mattress event?'" meagan asked. "i mean, come on. an 'event?' really?" inside, the cheapest full bed was $699, more expensive than the cheapest full bed at the regular store. "that's all i got," the asian clerk said. well, then, it's not really an event now, is it?

something occurred to me while driving. i was overwhelmed with gratitude that i didn't have to work in a furniture store, especially one in renton. i was glad i didn't have to work in retail at all. i was glad i didn't have to live in renton. "yeah," meagan said, "that's what bothers me about seattle. i love the city and all, but everything around it like northgate, issaquah, renton and tukwila just bothers me." we decided to eat at baja fresh. we ordered the usual meal we get when we're both super hungry: two burrito ultimos, no meat, an order of nachos, also no meat, and one small drink. people who get medium and large drinks are just lazy. first of all, you waste money because refills are free, and second, you're showing the world you're too lazy to get up and walk a few feet to get a free refill.

we went to ikea because i needed a shower curtain. i always like looking through the as-is section, though, so we went to that section first. meagan spotted this dining room set which was advertised for $45. "wait," i said, "is that for the whole thing, or for each piece?" the four chairs and the table were marked at $45, so we assumed $45 covered the whole deal. we debated about how we would fit it into meagan's tiny paseo, and how we would actually go about purchasing an as-is item. while growing more confused and scatterbrained, i suddenly remembered the real reason we had come: "i need a shower curtain!"

we trekked over to the bathroom section, with meagan all the while panicking that someone would snatch up the $45 dining table. "it'll still be there," i assured her, "no one's gonna take it in 15 minutes." "no," she countered, "emily once wanted a desk from the fremont market; she left it for like 5 minutes, and it was gone when she got back." after hearing this, i joined in her panic that we would lose out on such a fabulous deal, so i upped my pace. when we got to the shower curtain section, i told her, "just pick out the first one you like. don't even think about it." an older indian couple found this amusing, but stepped aside to allow us to frantically search through the different patterns. we settled on a grey/gold/brown polka-dotted pattern.

when we got back to the as-is section, the table was still there. i asked a clerk how we would go about purchasing and having it taken apart so that it would fit in the car. the clerk was a bitter long-haired man, and he told me to load it on a flat cart. "what about having it taken apart?" i asked. he looked even more annoyed. "you'll have to decide that after purchasing." eager to get as far away from this most bitter individual, i practically ran across aisles, looking for the first available flat cart i could find. i found an empty one, and rushed back to meet meagan, guarding the dining table. i loaded it onto the cart, while meagan watched. i dropped one, and she laughed. "a little help," i said. "sorry," she said, "i didn't know you were going to be stacking the chairs!"

"this is what i hate about going to ikea," i said. "you come for a shower curtain and you end up getting a whole dining table set." meagan ended up carrying two chairs to the register, but then i realized we weren't even in line. when we got in the right line, this fat woman with a green chair came up to us. "you know that dining room chairs are 25% off? you have to go back there and ask the clerk to put the discount stickers on," she said. "but the chairs come with the table," meagan said. "oh. i don't know then. you might just want to ask." "i'll go ask," meagan said. meagan came back with disappointing news. "the chairs are sold separately," she said. "do you still think it'd be worth it?" "no," i said.

i unloaded the table and chairs. dropping one of them again for the third time. "i'll go put them back," meagan said, defeated. "no!" i told her. i always hate it when she gets the idea that she's supposed to do a retail clerk's job. having worked retail for many years, i hated it when i had to put stuff back, but that was about 50% of the job. work sucks, but retail work especially sucks for that specific reason. people who work retail need to learn to hate their jobs, i mean really hate them. so, as a customer, i say fuck putting stuff back. "you're not putting that back," i said again. "this is a giant fucking corporation!" she gave up at that point. an older man nearby acknowledged that he heard my little hissyfit. for a moment, i worried that he was a manager, but then i realized i didn't really care if he was.

we drove back into the city, first stopping off at omar and mogwai's house. the dogs were jumping up all over the fence and i did a little dance in front of omar, mocking him. i grabbed my stuff, and borrowed emily's air mattress. it's a queen-sized eddie bauer self-inflating mattress, and it's actually kind of cool. john and emily had warned me that there was a leak in the mattress, and that i would have to patch it up. "so, it'll deflate on me?" i asked. "yeah, it'll deflate, but probably not until you wake up."

it didn't deflate all that much. in my new columbia city studio apartment, i slept the whole night through.
the best you can is good enough.

after twenty-five years of existence, i finally got to see radiohead last night. it all started when i browsed craigslist and found some girl named shanna who was looking for someone to go with. originally, i foolishly thought it meant that she was giving the ticket away for free, but then i realized my presumption was incorrect only the night before the actual show. still, at $60 for a general admission pit ticket, it was a good deal. i didn't have to feel like ticketmaster was screwing me, and my money wasn't going to any stupid corporation. i hope she spends the $60 on food or something relevant.

so, at this point in life, after spending a whole year at home doing nothing, all cautionary rules go out the window. i will meet craigslist strangers, and i will allow them to take me somewhere, anywhere, to do anything. and anyway, when would i get to see radiohead again? probably never, especially since i've rarely liked anything after ok computer. shanna picked me up after work, and she drove us to the white river ampitheatre in auburn. it was a long drive, and we hit traffic. we missed the opening band, the liars.

i bought a $7 plate of nasty nachos with beef, sour cream, and salsa. you're not really at an event until you get overcharged for something you really don't want, but are forced to get anyway because you are so damn hungry. i gobbled up my crappy nachos, while shanna took small bites from her fry bread. she threw the rest away. we looked at the merchandise afterward. all the radiohead shirts were supposedly made from recycled plastic bottles found in landfills. even if the shirts help the environment, i still wouldn't pay $40 for one. i couldn't help but remember how members of godspeed you black emperor! responded when asked to tour with radiohead a few years back. they flat out refused, then added: "radiohead are a bunch of hypocrites, and a bunch of liars."

i sense the frustration. you can't really be the biggest band in the world, and still expect to live out the anti-consumerist/eco-friendly lifestyle. at one point, right before playing "you and whose army?" thom yorke said, "the best thing i like about what happened at the wto. a corrupt and malignant organization. and they still are. this goes out to all the people in seattle who were there during those days." better moments were seeing them perform "lucky," "climbing up the walls," "street spirit (fade out)," and "no surprises." yeah, i'm the prodigal radiohead fan. i was into other musical whores when they were putting out amnesiac and hail to the thief.

but i have a newfound respect for the material i neglected. at one point, i realized, while i gave up on this band, they were still having a damn good time and doing their own thing. they were putting out records other people - not me - were enjoying. johnny greenwood even stared straight out into the audience while playing a song, and i could swear he was thinking, look what i get to do. you're miserable. you have to get up at 6 in the morning to catch the bus while i play in the greatest fucking rock band there ever was.

and i have to admit, i was pretty miserable. not just because of the lack of material from the bends and ok, and not just because my back hurt from standing from so long. and it wasn't the assholes that charged to the front of the stage when they heard something recognizable like "idioteque " or "there there." i think i was just plain old sick of living in a world where i can't be appreciated for anything creative that i try to do. i watched the guitar techs tune the guitars before the show, fiddling with the effects pedals, and i could only think, how miserable this must be for them. here they are, musicians themselves, and they've got a whole fucking sold out stadium in front of them. and they can't do anything. they just tune the guitars and walk off stage. back to being ordinary, ignored, and forgotten.

the worst shit actually happened after the show. i figured it would take us about half an hour to get out of the parking lot, and back onto the freeway. no. not at all. it took us two and a half fucking hours just before we reached the freeway. the assholes who created the white river ampitheatre apparently gave no consideration at all to people trying to exit the place. it was as though they had decided to create a giant stadium that would host world-famous bands, but they thought no one would ever come. so, they decided not to create actual parking spaces (the whole parking lot is just a flat, rocky road), and not build any other roads that would serve as exits. one fucking road for 50,000 people. i got home at 3 a.m., then had to catch the morning bus to work four hours later. fuck you, auburn. fuck you, white river ampitheatre.

there was a radiohead shirt for sale for $40, and it contained a lyric from the song, "15 step." it read: you used to be alright/what happened to you?

i looked at the shirt for a long time.
the career-driven asian.

at fort st. george last night, over spicy fried chicken and garlic fries, my friends and i overheard a career-driven asian discussing her plans. i didn't catch most of it, but for the most part, she ultimately came across as the anti-heroine of this blog. what i did catch, i found slightly amusing: "i decided i want to get my b.a. that way, if i want to relocate, i can find more opportunities..." stuff like that. she was a young asian woman who wore a dark business suit. "it felt like she was from the early 90's," meagan remarked, "all that was missing were shoulder pads."

who was this woman? i know that there are more like her. tons of them, i'm sure. they were the ones cramming for the s.a.t.'s while all their friends went out on friday nights to watch movies like fight club, american psycho, and american beauty. in debates, she was the girl who wouldn't know, or even care, what the hell these communist liberals were babbling about. these people live on a different plane of existence; they speak a foreign language. in their late teens, they could probably tell you the difference between an ira and a roth ira. maybe i'm just envious.

"why do you wish you were doing something?" a friend asked. "i don't know," i answered, "i just wish i was doing something meaningful." "like what?" "i'm not sure. i'd just like to feel like i'm contributing to something." "to get what result?" "i don't know." i can't say i want to help people because i don't know for sure that that's entirely true. to even just admit that on a literal level implies that i'm better off, and that i know how to fix their problems. but that's crap. because if i had solutions, if anyone had solutions, we wouldn't be in the state we are in. and it's 2008. two-thousand-fucking-eight, and the majority of people are still screwed.

"social justice is a crock of shit," this person told me. "how so?" i asked. "you can't enjoy anything! think about it. you just feel bad and guilty all the time. and there are all these people who would love to be in your place, if they could." "yeah." i don't remember much else, but if the conversation continued, it might've gone something like this: "and if you were in their position, do you think they'd want to help you? fuck no. even if you reversed where people stand in society; it doesn't matter who's on top - they'd still drink your milkshake. didn't you ever learn anything from the twilight zone? 'people are the same everywhere.'"

realist idealists. that's what we call ourselves, for the time being.
who can really tell?

this weekend i went to the seattle art museum with john, emily, and meagan. the last time i went there was four years ago, when i was a junior at s.u., and byron and his mom came to visit. i have to admit that i don't really get museums, or art, at all. i won't admit to not appreciating art because i don't think that's true. i know the process of trying to create something and failing, failing, failing. but when i look at something like, say, a jackson pollack, how does he really know when he's finished? how do i know that he's not just fooling me, and everyone else? what is it about drips, and shapes, rectangular frames, oil on canvas, pictures depicting gods and goddesses?

what makes mary cassat, renoir, lichtenstein, and warhol so special? they're innovators, people will say. they changed the world. well, what about the quiet people who i ride the bus with everyday? i'm sure they have dreams, would like to be artists, would like to remembered for all eternity. if given a spacious studio with sufficient lighting, and proper art materials, they would probably jump at the chance to paint all day, suffer for their art, and work and work and work to achieve something worth achieving. maybe they are aware of this dilemma. i don't know, and what i don't know could fill a book.

there's always this talk of getting a "real" job. well, what is a "real" job? is it having the ability to put on a tie every morning and drink coffee? does it have to do with pay and benefits and retirement funds and made-up titles? almost everyone i know is stuck some place where they'd rather not be, and they're always waiting for something better, something more glamorous. but what is it? sitting at a desk with no real responsibility? contributing to society in a real and meaningful way? what does it even mean to contribute?

life becomes completely absurd and devoid of meaning when i stop at any moment and visualize myself just a few months ago, sitting on my cousin's couch and playing grand theft auto iv. people do this all the time. i've been watching the olympics, and all i can think about is how michael phelps must feel the day after winning the eighth medal. you train your entire life for something, and once it's achieved, it's just like the day after the best christmas. you have to wait a whole year again, and it'll never be as good. some people work and work and work, and the smallest thing could ruin it all. you jump in the water too soon, and you're disqualified. you lose by 1/100th of a second.

i don't know what i'm getting at, really. was i better off just being a bum and living in my parents' house? i feel like in that situation, i could at least be blatantly honest: i live at home. i don't do anything with my life. the most i accomplished today was taking a walk to the bank. i rode my bike. i didn't contribute to the gdp. i didn't harm anyone, and i didn't feel like a victim. in fact, i didn't feel anything at all. i am unemployed, but i am not ashamed because i am not suffering like most others actually are. i don't have friends, but that's okay because most people my age would just like to go out to a bar, and i have no interest in doing that.

now i have a job, and i have potential for some real responsibility. i have things to talk about, like how today, i'll be hearing back about a studio apartment in columbia city. howdy. how was your weekend? was it a good weekend? this is a proposal. i'll forward it to you. make sure you cc her. the red light means there is a voicemail waiting for you. i'll be attending a word formatting training today from 3 - 4:30 p.m. does the printer only print from the third tray? if you need more toner, you can always order some.

if my body is 90% water, why can't i swim?
bet you think i stole this.

i just came from a human resources/staff meeting, where they discussed things like comp time, flex time, overtime pay, dress code, etc. i really wasn't even supposed to be there, but i heard the words "free lunch" and off i went. all i could wonder was, what are people doing that requires constant work 37.5 hours per week? today, i made some copies, ordered a package of papers from the office max catalog, took a call, and shot off two or three emails. i could've accomplished all this from 8:30 a.m. - 8:40 a.m., but instead, this idea of work - not work itself, but this idea of work - requires me to be here from 8:30 a.m. until 5 p.m.

the higher-ups actually look like they use their time wisely. they hold meetings, have one-on-one conferences, and seem genuinely busy. i wonder, like so many others do, what it must be like to love the work you do, to actually find it meaningful and socially relevant. i heard today that seven or eight others actually applied for my position. two or three of them had masters degrees; one even had his j.d. "a little overqualified," i told emily. "just a little bit," she said. what a sad world we live in where people with $100,000 degrees are forced to apply for jobs that pay much, much less.

the other night, i was walking down 15th with meagan when this little black kid was heading towards us in the opposite direction. as we passed him, he held up a little technological gadget. "like this? my blackberry. bet you think i stole this, huh? i can tell!" feeling like an official yuppie, i was only glad to hear this arrogant kid voice his belief that i believed he was a thief. it only solidified my decision to get as far away from teaching as possible. with my new job, i make as much as i would have my first year of teaching. i also get treated like an adult, and i can take classes and get a masters degree pro bono (for you non-lawyer types, that means "free"). and once i get that masters degree, i could apply for the job i have now.

it's pretty great, though, coming home and not having to think about anything. i told this to jacob. "you're losing your idealism, man," he said. i don't really care, though. all i saw was that nonprofits are disorganized and that they waste people's time. all volunteering got me was a feeling of worthlessness and a real need for real money. besides, what was i going to teach those kids that they didn't already know? how would i possibly reach out to them when i can't even force myself to believe in the system that supports them, the country that watches over them?

i ride the number 60 in the morning. the 60 takes me to work, takes me to emily's, takes me to meagan's. it's a good route. mary, the bus driver, picks me up in georgetown, and she says, "good morning" when i arrive, and "have a good day" when i leave. from the bus window, i see qwest field where the mariners play, and i also see the entire city. on clear mornings, i get a view of mt. rainier from beacon hill. i arrive early, and i use the bathrooms in the law building, ones i've preferred even as an undergrad. they are immaculate.

this past week, i've been asking emily, the other program assistant, how to do things, even though katie, the previous program assistant, left me a very detailed instructional binder. i've found that most of the work i expected to be doing can easily be delegated to other individuals - not by my choice, but by theirs. i told rebecca that i needed to post signs to direct people to a meeting. "i'm kind of possessive about my new signs," she said, "i'll put them up." i told charlotte i needed to make twenty-two copies for the meeting. "do you want them two-sided and stapled?" she asked. "sure," i said, and then i retreated to my desk.

my main job duty thus far has been trying to locate a room or apartment on craigslist. this is no easy feat for someone who's neither female nor gay. not wanting to spend over $700 a month also makes this search difficult. my best lead was at this house on 15th and olive, a 3bed/2bath house. i would've gotten my own bathroom. this is one of the most important things i look for, as i occasionally like to binge on fried chicken and hot fudge sundaes. the day i checked out the place, alicia said she'd have a decision by sunday. i told her friday i was sure that that was the place i wanted. on sunday evening, when she still hadn't called me back, i called her. "i haven't decided yet," she said. be a fucking grown-up. say yes or say no. it's not difficult. it's now thursday, and still no word; i assume the deal is dead.

i checked out another place on beacon hill, this room for $550. again, i'd have my own bathroom. but when i got there, some asshole named vince or lance or vance was already scoping out the place. olaf, the renter, introduced us. why would you introduce two people who want to rent the same room? that makes you my competitor. i shook his hand, thinking he was the other roommate, but he definitely was not. vince or lance or vance gave my hand a firm, unfriendly shake. when it was all said and done, i was eager to leave, just because i knew my chances of getting the place were a long shot. "are you interested?" olaf asked. "yeah, just let me know if these guys pass," i said.

the apartment hunting business, like any other business, is completely backward. i'm putting money into the place, thus i should be interviewing the landlords and making sure they're not a bunch of lazy, incompetent assholes. it's just like job hunting, too. we, the employees, are putting years of our lives into business and organizations; therefore, shouldn't we be conducting the interviews? it's our money, and our time, so why don't we ever get a say in anything?

because in the land of the free, you take what you can get.
the boredom and the freedom
and the time spent alone.

it's now four o'clock, and i officially finished my first day of "work" (in quotations because i didn't actually do anything today), though i left the office around 1:15 p.m. my boss told me a little bit about the organization and my general job description, and i think i now have a better sense of what goes on down there. as she was talking, though, i couldn't help but think about previous jobs, and how no one ever really showed me or talked to me about what i was supposed to be doing. at the red cross, they howed me my desk and then signed me up for a bunch of trainings. at watsonville high, they told me to show up on monday and wait for instructions. there really ywas no excuse for the watsonville debacle, as they already had volunteers the year before.

so after learning about the organization, they sent me to human resources. it turns out, it's just right across the way from the campus security office. i met sara, the human resources rep, and she definitely had a case of the mondays. we got to talking, though, and i soon discovered why she didn't seem like the happiest person in the world. "i saw on your resume that you had done americorps," she said. "yeah," i said, "i did." "me too," she replied. enough said. turns out, she had actually done three years, and then she got her masters in education. "do you mind if i ask," i said, "but why aren't you teaching?" looking at her, i already knew the answer. "i just got tired of it," she said.

who's teaching these days? only shallow, callous people who can shake it all off at the end of the day, or else superhuman god-like individuals who somehow manage to plow through all the bullshit. i really don't know. aimee, a previous americorps volunteer i met in watsonville, dropped out of the ucsc masters/credentialing program after three weeks. as a teacher, i lasted one week. i read somewhere that most people last only a year, and then they get burned out and leave. instead, they go to law school. they work retail. they get jobs in offices and wake up for the morning commute. they do anything else.

sara, the hr person, asked to see my identification. i showed her my passport. "this looks pretty new," she said. "yeah, i just got it last month," i told her, then quickly added, "i was going to go travel if i didn't find work here, but i just decided i'd work instead." she nodded in agreement. "yeah," she said, "the thing about travel is you either have time and no money, or money and no time." i agreed.

sara seemed very intelligent, sage-like almost, and i felt really bad for her, knowing that human resources wasn't really what her idealistic self once had in mind. the nosy snoop that i am, i asked what she was doing there anyway. "well," she said, "i really wanted to work for a nonprofit, but it was really hard to find work. they usually want someone younger..." i couldn't tell how old she was, but she said she did americorps in '92, so she was probably somewhere close to 40. whatever her age, she was concise and informative - just the way i like my hr people.

when i got back to the office, my boss talked to me a little more about the organization, and she showed me the draft for the new website, expected to launch august 25, the first day of school. it looked sleek and to the point. she then handed me over to emily, who is the program assistant for the center for professional development (cdp), and who also shares a cubicle with me. emily is from illinois; she got her bachelor's in psychology; and she loves horror movies. she briefly went over where things in the office were located, and then we talked about horror movies for probably a full hour. also, she nonchalantly dropped a few "shits" and "fucks" casually into the conversation, and didn't seem to mind that some of the associates in the nearby offices could obviously hear her.

i took the bus home with my $10/month bus pass. now all i need is an apartment.
seattle u saves me again.

my future boss called me at the last minute to schedule me an appointment with the dean, so i had to grab whatever clothes i had from my grocery bag. i only had two good shirts and one tie in there. i couldn't wear the green shirt, since i wore that one yesterday to meet the vice-dean, but i definitely couldn't wear the shirt i wore on tuesday to meet everyone. i had to decide. should i wear the green shirt that the receptionist saw me wearing yesterday, or wear the striped shirt everyone saw me wearing on tuesday? i thought there was a chance that the receptionist would remember the green shirt and not the striped shirt, and maybe i would only see her, so maybe the striped shirt would be a better idea.

then again, maybe i could've convinced all of them that i had multiple copies of the same striped shirt, since it's such a nice shirt that maybe, just maybe, i bought more than one. it was reminiscent of the seinfeld episode where jerry meets the woman who continually wears the same outfit. i could've convinced people that i had just ended my wash cycle (in truth, i've washed my clothes once the entire time i've been up here - and it's been, what, seventeen days?) and started in reverse, as per costanza's theory. i decided to go with the striped shirt and brown corduroy pants i had been wearing the past three days, hoping that i wouldn't run into anyone from the original meeting.

the dean, however, insisted our meeting was a mere formality. he was just there to say, "congratulations." so technically, i could've just worn jeans. he then escorted me to katie's going away party, and i was congratulated by everyone who had interviewed me on tuesday. yes, i'm still wearing the same clothes, and no, i haven't washed them yet. i'm sorry. i tried not to sweat, so as not to further spoil my already-worn shirt.

long story short: they offered; i accepted.

'bout time, huh?
sodom, south georgia.

day before yesterday, i found this craigslist ad that was too good to be true. free rent, it said, and a monthly stipend included. i wrote him an email saying i'm interested. he called me back yesterday, said come check it out. so after my job interview, i headed down there. the place was located by boeing field in south park. i already had my reservations, as i drove past the dilapidated rung theater, and rows and rows of decaying homes. the type of area where residents just let the dead grass grow.

i got to the intersection where he said he was located, cloverdale and 14th ave sw, or some shit like that. i called him up. "i'm here," i said, "right in front of cloverdale family dentistry." he sounded a tad bit out of breath. "did you pass the pizza place?" he asked. " place?" "yeah, there's a pizza place on the corner." for some reason, i lied and said that yes, i know the pizza place he's talking about. instead, i was actually looking at a drive-thru espresso joint on the corner. "can you just give me your address?" i asked. i wanted to just drive past this dump, and see how bad it really was. "no," he said, "it'll be easier if you just pull into the pizza place. i'll send a car out to get you." "couldn't you just give me the address?" i asked again. "it'll be easier if you just pull into the pizza place," he repeated.

this freaked me out. why couldn't this asshole just give me the exact address, after i had already driven all the way out there? send a car out to get me? more like send leatherface out to get me. fuck this. i started driving back towards boeing field, slightly looking for this imaginary pizza place, but more focused on just getting the hell out of there. i got into the left lane with the intention of driving back, wanting to be adventurous, wanting to figure where the hell this place actually was. before i made the u-turn, though, i envisioned a chainsaw driving through my left arm, my fingernails getting plucked off, one by one. i got into the right lane and pulled into the boeing parking lot.

i called the asshole up. "hey max," i said. "where are you?" he asked. "i'm at boeing..." "boeing! that's too far! you've gone too far! head back!" now i was really creeped out. "well, it's just that, i think the location is a little too far from where i'll be working." in truth, i haven't even found a job yet. "where will you be working?" he asked. "north seattle," i said. more bullshit. "north seattle, well that's not too far," he said. "well, it's farther than i'd like to drive, you know? with gas prices being as they are, too, i just don't think it's a good idea." there was a long awkward pause after that. "well, i'm sorry to hear that, jim." that was the other thing, he kept calling me jim. i really hated that. "yeah, sorry about that," i said.

i drove away, and he called again. "jim! i forgot to mention that we might be opening a hostel in north seattle soon. give me a call if you change your mind." "i'll email you," i said. but i won't. i like my limbs.
sous chef and a homeless man.

prerequisites for dream: emily told me how, in high school, some of her teachers were so lazy that they would sometimes stop lecturing and just put on a film or an episode of the simpsons. i told her that this would sometimes happen to me at jesuit, too, and mr. vujovich, my high school "psychology" teacher, would end class abruptly (even with 45 minutes left to go) and just eat his lunch. we would watch him eat. nobody seemed to mind, or think it was unusual. the first time he did this, though, i turned around to face joey, the class clown, and said, "what the hell? is class over?" joey seemed kind of surprised, like he just realized, oh yeah, we're still in school, and he laughed a little, but then he went back to writing on the back of my chair: caslin (the new theology teacher) eats cock. her drew a big cock and balls with his sharpie.

i told emily that it was kind of fun, not having to do anything in high school, but it sucked once i got to college and realized how i felt like a lot of students were a lot smarter than i was. sometimes, in my pre-caluculus class, since i had no idea what the hell was going on, i would just watch the clock and try to pass time by singing songs in my head. usually it was blink-182's "all the small things," a stupid but catchy tune that could easily burn away three and a half minutes. so when it was 10:47 a.m., and class ended at 10:50 a.m., i would start the opening chords in my head, tom delonge's opening riff with distortion, the g chord to f to c. and i could hear his voice in my head: "all the small things..." yeah, i really did this.

i picked up a book emily had on her coffee table called probes. i didn't really get it, but i liked a lot of quotations in there. one of them was just a question: why is america the land of the overrated child and the underrated adult. i really liked that one. it made me think of all the stupid parents at st. ignatius who put all this pressure on their kids because they felt their own lives were ordinary, empty and meaningless. and now, as a pseudo-adult, i see a lot of people my age (myself included) who are headed in this direction. so, what do we do? we procreate and hope that our kids are happier, more successful, than we could ever hope to be.

another quotation from probes was something along the lines of: "the system has done a great job of making everyone the same. competition is based on absolute uniformity." and i didn't really realize it before i read it, but it's true. i am competing for jobs right now, telling employers what they want to hear: "i have good communication skills. i am a hard-worker. i am organized and efficient." in patrick bateman's words: "i want to fit in." meagan said that the whole notion that these employers want "diversity" is utter bullshit. they simply want to fulfill their idea of diversity. they already have an idea of what a good little asian-american candidate should be like. they want the amy tan: the bookish, quiet asian who is a pushover, and who will get the job done without complaint. competition is bullshit when everyone wants the same thing: the gold medal, the 4.0 gpa, the job. what does it mean when everyone wants the same thing?

i think it means we've been duped. the third and final (non-verbatim) quotation i remembered from probes: "school is the first adveritising agency. for it is the institution where we learned and accepted that we cannot live without it."

enter remembered dream #8762: i was taking a class at seattle university with my parents and my friend dong. we signed up for some bullshit class called racism awareness or something like that. the instructor was this old, gray-haired woman who fully believed that she knew everything, or at least more than we did. for some reason, there was this little black kid also in the class, but he wasn't really part of the class, and from time to time, he would raise his hand to tell the teacher it was his birthday. he did this three times, and on the third time, i finally realized he was full of shit. the teacher, though, acquiesced each time and gave the student a present she had stashed away in a closet. at this point, dong said that he had to pick up his friend, amber, who was snowed in somewhere, but the professor did not allow it. she barked at him and told him that he had an obligation to stay in class. he conceded, though unwillingly.

at this point, i told the professor that it was unfair to not let him go, since she had interrupted class plenty of times to give away presents. she slightly acknowledged her hypocrisy, but nothing changed. we sat there, and she continued to lecture us about racism, a topic i was convinced she knew nothing about. my suspicions were only confirmed when she passed out polaroids she had taken of people who "expressed racist attitudes" toward her. one of them was a white woman, a sous chef, and the other was a homeless man who wore an army surplus jacket. at this point, i dropped the polaroids, and i announced that we were leaving. the professor followed me, as she was obviously irritated. i said, "i'd like to talk to them alone," and she backed off. i convinced everyone to drop the class and i added that this woman didn't know what the hell she was talking about.

i was a leader. i was able to stand up for someone else. i called a bullshitter out. my friend and i ran across campus with huge grins, and i didn't care that we looked like fools. it felt like graduation, but better, because there was no stupid ceremony, no stupid tassels, hats, gowns or uniforms. for once, we got to do things our way. we just ran and ran, laughing wildly, ecstatic that it was over, that we had finally gotten away from not just the idiot professor, but everyone who ever tried to convince us that we were nothing, that we couldn't possibly exist without their knowledge, their institution.
blonde stripper who drank sparks.

"do i know you?" the waitress asked.
he looked like he was making an honest attempt to recognize her. "so many people have said that to me in the past week, so i don't know," he said.
she laughed. "no," she said, "i think we had a class together."
"did you go to s.u.?"
"yeah," she said. "i think i had some classes with you."
"what year did you graduate?"
"i should've graduated two years ago, but i graduated this year."
"oh," he said, "i graduated '06. were you an english major?"
"no," she said, "but i almost got a minor in english. i majored in philosophy," she said, and almost curtsied.
"oh okay, i was an english major," he said.
"that was probably it then. we probably had an english class together!" the girl smiled as she said this. she had been smiling the entire time.
"the girl here," he said, pointing to the empty chair in front of us, "she majored in philosophy."
"oh," the girl said, and nodded her head, accepting that she might meet another person she might have had class with. "did you both go to s.u.?"
"yeah," i said. "yeah," he said.
she took our order: two sundaes, one small, one large.

"did we have class together?" the waitress said to the girl.
"yeah. i was gonna say you look really familiar."
"did you live in xavier?"
"i did, but during my freshman year."
"did you live on the all girls floor?"
"yeah, but in bellarmine when i was a sophomore."
"what year did you graduate?"
"oh," the waitress said, "i was supposed to graduate two years ago, but i just finished this year."
the waitress left to check on some other customers.

"she was probably hitting on you," i said.
"no she wasn't. and anyway, she's not that attractive."
"she's pretty," the girl said.
"yeah," i said, "plus, it's hard to tell. she's been at work all day. you have to take that into account."
"that should be a good thing," he said. "when she's all sweaty and hot and tired. that's how you can tell."
"i'm going to leave your number on the receipt."
"i'm going to."
"i don't care."
"you should ask her what it's like now that's she's graduated," i said.
"i'm not gonna ask her," he said. "you ask her. i'll tell her you just graduated and that she should talk to you."
"yeah right. i'll tell her to do americorps. it'll change her life."

suddenly, a man walked into the restaurant. "dude, that's her boyfriend."
"no, it's not," i said.
"yes, it is," he said. "she just kissed him on the cheek."
"that doesn't mean that that's her boyfriend," the girl said.
"yes it does."
the waitress delivered the sundaes.
"i wanted to ask, what's your name?" the girl said.
"muriel," the waitress answered.
"oh yeah. that sounds familiar."
"did you take the bible as literature?" the boy asked.
"yeah!" muriel answered. "do you remember the blonde stripper who sat in the front row and drank sparks in class all the time?"
they both laughed.
"yeah," the boy said, "she drank alcohol right in front of everybody, and she didn't even care."
why the career center rules.

at the career center, i show up whenever i feel like it, and i ask to use the internet. the receptionist says, "sure." i surf the internet, i blog, and i print out copies of my resume. i can also get a bunch of brochures and books on job hunting, grad school, etc. that's why the career center rules.

well, the receptionist just told me they close early on fridays. 3 o'clock to be exact. i guess not everything about the career center rules.
the best you ever played it.

"i'm calling to say that we've chosen someone else for the position. thanks for your interest, though. you scored very well on the test and had very good interviews. it was a tough decision to make." bullshit. how did i already know then the moment i heard they were really excited about another candidate, that the deal was dead? how did i know that i should have just blown off my second interview, or else should have walked out when i saw their bored faces as i tried to build up my past experiences? i even lied, goddamnit. i've never made a cold call in my life.

"how do you look when you're interviewing?" a friend asked me. "what do you mean?" "are you smiling? are you enthusiastic?" "probably not," i said. another friend said, "you've probably been to enough of these interviews that they don't even phase you anymore, am i right?" "yeah, i've been to a lot of them," i said. the thing is, i don't think i'm doing anything wrong. there probably are just more qualified and articulate people out there. applicants who actually believe their previous work experience and education meant something. applicants who don't mind a little competition. it's okay that i've got this job. it just means some other asshole has to go around and write up another cover letter and alter his resume to make it fit the description.

i didn't take the news very well. i've been doing this for a year. it's become clockwork. internet search. wait around. days, months even. sometimes there's no call. sometimes it's just an automated rejection email or letter sent to my address. but sometimes, there's the call. then it's belt and tie. think about questions. think about responses. drive. think, could i make this drive everyday for the rest of my life? find parking. occasionally pay for parking. wait around. "hello, my name is..." and "nice to meet you." shake hands. smiles stop. now it's serious, professional faces. expectations for me to sound like i want this, i own this. and then it's blah. blah. fucking blah. rise up. shake hands. "good meeting you." "when will i hear?" "soon. very soon." wait around. days, months even. "we're calling to say that we've chosen someone else..."

and here i am. when that most recent awful cycle finished, i went back to sleep on the couch. then i tried to watch snakes on a plane, but john's disc skipped in the middle, so i couldn't find out whether or not the plane landed. i'll assume that it did. then i thought about the documentary the devil and daniel johnston, and how daniel was madly obsessed with this girl named laurie. it was unrequited love, and when laurie gets married to someone else, daniel is slightly happy because it allows him to live in this fantasy world where he can just keep dreaming about something he can never have. maybe that's me, reveling in the despair of never being able to find my true calling.

it sure as hell beats a souless 9 to 5.