white gold medal ribbon.

the number nine is a piece of shit, let me tell you. this town likes to celebrate "car-free days" when it can't even get its public transportation system in order. for all the money spent on promoting "car-free days," the city of seattle could buy another express route so its south side residents don't have to pack ourselves like sardines into the chronically tardy morning express. today was especially bad. normally i don't mind having to stand, but when another commuter is literally breathing down my neck, it becomes bloggable. i like, too, how every time i take the bus home, the only people on the bus are blacks, asians, mexicans and indians. and people like to say we've come so far.

today at work, i attended a computer training. i didn't learn anything that i couldn't have learned on my own, except maybe how to wrap text around an image. still, i'm sure that i'll run into problems when i actually have to do such a thing. the computer trainer guy was this stocky 30 something with a shaved head and beard. there were three other guys with beards. "there's a lot of beard in here," one of the girls said. the bearded guys laughed. neatly shaven, i felt left out. one of the bearded guys looked at me. i think he could tell i felt left out.

during break we ate some sandwiches with salad. i ate two cookies. the bearded fellows started talking about thailand because, apparently, two of them had visited thailand. they talked about how you could buy a big bowl of soup in thailand for thirty cents. "what was in it?" one of the girls asked. "dog, probably." they laughed; i didn't. i thought that, especially in a university setting, people would be less ethnocentric. but no, they continued. "i couldn't believe when i found out that they raised dogs in farms there," the trainer said. "it smelled horrible." "worse than cows?" the other bearded guy asked. "have you smelled a dog farm?" "no, but i've smelled their poop." the girl looked uncomfortable, probably because we were all eating lunch, and probably because the only asian in the room, me, sat there, saying nothing.

i was going to say that all animal farms smell fucking awful, and have you been to southern california? sections of i-5 on the way to los angeles are literally unbreathable. i didn't say anything though. not because i was offended that they were perpetuating the stereotype that all asians eat dogs, but because i was bored, and anyhow, i was on a roll at internet checkers. they started talking about some show called little britain. "have you seen the american version?" asked one bearded man to the next. "no," he said, "but i've seen the british version." they began quoting scenes and talking about it like it was the greatest show on earth.

the girl i worked with has dyed her hair black, so now every girl in the entire building who sees her has to say something about it. "i love your hair!" "you changed your hair!" "it looks so good!" if i tattooed "dick" across my forehead, i wonder if i'd get any comments. also, there are two women in the office who are big obama fans. they leave work to visit the headquarters so they can obtain yard signs, window stickers, bumper stickers, t-shirts and the like. they are obviously more educated and informed than i am, so i shouldn't talk, but sometimes i'd like to just take their enthusiasm down a notch. sometimes, i just wanna be like, "are you sure you want to vote for obama? are you sure?"

on my way back to the ethnically diverse bus after work, i ran into an old classmate, whitney. he recognized me right away, and put his cell phone down. "i'll give you a call back," he said into the receiver. it made me feel important, but only temporarily. i extended my hand, and thought for a brief moment that we might have to do the half hug, but we didn't. that's only something really masculine men do. "what are you doing these days?" he asked. "working here," i said, pointing to the building. "i heard," he said. "you were working with katie, right?" "no," i said, "i took her job." "good," he said, "she didn't need that shit." he looked around, as though all of us, the whole class of 2005, was again wandering around campus. "what were you doing before this?" he said. "unemployed, living at home." he laughed at that. "was that pretty sweet?" "it was alright for a while," i said, "but then it just got depressing." he nodded in agreement. "yeah, like me, you know. i never turned 18, left home and came to seattle." i didn't know what he was talking about. "let me get your number," i said.

i think it's healthy to amass a good number of numbers, if only to convince myself that i could have a social life; you know, if i wanted one.
she looks just like sarah palin.

last night, at john and emily's, we were watching tv, and then all of a sudden, there appeared a woman on screen, who, to me, looked nothing like sarah palin. "she looks just like sarah palin!" john exclaimed. emily sighed. "ahh! every time somebody sees some woman now, they all say, 'she looks like sarah palin!' i'm sick of it!" it occurred to me then why sarah palin was chosen to run for v.p. - not because she's "hot," or because she would scoop up all the hillary votes, but because she looks like "the every woman." these days, anyone with dark, shoulder-length hair and glasses is going to be, no doubt, compared to sarah.

i've always thought about those snl characters, and how they are almost all able to look dead-on like most celebrities and politicians without much makeup (i.e. will ferrell = george bush, darrel hammond = al gore, tina fey = sarah palin). maybe that's how these actors and actresses get on the show, and how these people get elected (or not elected). they're the "everyman," and "everywoman." and anyway, who's spoofing barack obama these days? i doubt it's the fat black kid from keenan and kel. even more reason for the right-wing to rally against our "liberal, biased, left-wing media." anyway, the point is, even though most people think sarah palin is unqualified, ridiculous, and ignorant, the gop has already succeeded. her name is out there, and that's all that matters. i don't know who joe biden is, and more importantly, i don't know what he looks like. i'm not about to do a google image search on him, either.

the republicans know exactly what they're doing, and the democrats are forced to put up this "fight," if only for the mere sake of proving to everyone that yes, we do still live in a democracy; if, by living in a democracy, one means only being able to choose between pepsi and pepsi clear. on friday night, i met meagan at 15th video, and we watched a little bit of the debates. it was nice to see the 15th video clerks huddled around the registers, watching the only flat-screen in the store. they made little biting, sarcastic remarks every time mccain spoke, and it was evident who all of them were voting for. no one made a fuss, though, when obama said that he would increase troops in afghanistan, or when he used language like, "we need to kill bin laden."

it didn't sit right with me, but i understood why he said it. he's forced to give the people what they want - a candidate tough on terror, a president who isn't afraid to just kill a man. this clearly wasn't the same candidate who started his campaign focusing on diplomacy, saying he would like to sit down and talk with dictators and other leaders of "menacing" countries. i told this to john and emily. they agreed that it was strange to hear him talk this way. "yeah," john said, "it didn't sound like something he would say. it would be like if i started talking ghetto, like, 'yo, wassup gangsta.'" emily looked at him. "yeah, great analogy," she said. "shut up," he said.

this morning, i told the same thing to my mom. she said that she didn't like that obama said that, but she'll still vote for him because, well, what other choice does she have? my dad won't vote for obama because "then the black people will get too yabang (cocky, uppity)." both my aunts are going with mccain because they like being underpaid, oppressed minorities, i guess. nobody asks me who i'm going to vote for, which i kind of like. maybe i come across as someone who's truly uninformed, or else someone who looks like he's tired of playing this stupid game we have to play every four years, where the g.o.p. is like our big white uncle who pulls the magic quarter out of our ears - the only difference being that, in the end, he doesn't actually give us the quarter - and the democrats who are like the other uncle who says he's got all these great ideas, but then gets too drunk, or else interalizes all the insults and leaves the dinner party early and in shame.

and then i just sit there and wonder what the fuss is all about. i'd rather be at my friend's house; his sweet mom looks like sarah palin. who am i going to vote for? i'd like to vote myself off the show, please.
tony meatballs, alive and well.

it looks as though i'm not the only turd left in seattle u's punchbowl. my roommate from freshman and sophomore year, anthony, is apparently still at s.u., working as an assistant coach for the men's soccer team. i checked my facebook inbox, and there was a birthday greeting from him, marked january 4, 2006. feeling bad that i hadn't kept in better touch, i googled him and found his contact page right away. i called him up, and we'll probably carry on our tradition of watching terrible movies and talking about his latest love interest. i hope it's more interesting than the last.
in every disaster, there is opportunity.

i read the news today, oh boy. the headlines on the papers outside my apartment read: "wamu sold," and another read "wamu seized." i really don't get it. i don't have any sound knowledge of economics, but i know that it doesn't make any sense to give loans out to people who don't qualify for them. it's kind of like giving an eighteen year-old kid $80,000 to spend on education, even though you're certain he'll never be able to repay it. oh wait.

but seriously, i'll be the first to admit i don't have a clue what's going on. the news is calling wamu's demise "the largest bank failure in u.s. history," but then they add, there, there, don't worry. you're insured up to $100,000 and jp morgan chase will take care of everything. they say that we're not facing the second great depression because back then, people didn't have insurance, so everything they had in savings just disappeared.

the following might sound like total conspiracy theory crap, but it makes sense in my mind, so i'll say it anyway. it makes total sense if the individuals in charge of approving subprime mortgage loans a few years back already had financial investments through jp morgan. these same individuals foresaw mass foreclosures, and they knew that their actions would create all kinds of economic chaos, but in the end, they also knew that jp morgan would be there to clean up the mess. jp mogran's stock has risen .5 percent in the last four days - would it be such a stretch to believe it?

i know somebody's profiting from this debacle. too bad it isn't you, and too bad it isn't me.
not interesting enough for full paragraphs.

dreamed i was in france, and saw the plastiscines in a big stadium. then i got lost in a costco type place.

looks as though i'll never get a seat on the bus anymore. too many people breathing, fogging up the windows. lucky i'm not claustrophobic.

started watching dead like me. first episode wasn't so great; still, i'll probably keep watching.

mom called last night, and i gave the usual response: "(he/she/work)'s alright."

realized why i've always liked theology classes better than history. god's stories are much more interesting, what with all the incest, the 760 year-olds, the fire and brimstone. history is nothing more than a bunch of guys with guns, killing each other, trying to compensate for something, all done in the name of god or country, sometimes both.

possible title for an artsy film: freddie macs mae's fannie. tagline: "the economy isn't the only one going down."
it's behind me, and now it's gone.

i didn't do anything differently today. at the bus stop this morning, i still put my headphones on. i listened to this american life, and i realized that, even if this was the last morning i'd have on earth, it would be alright just spending it listening to this american life. it wasn't alright, though, that i had to stand for the whole bus ride. the story was a pretty boring one, and it was actually the first tal story that i didn't find very interesting. i haven't listened to that many, but i just assumed they were all amazing. i was proved wrong.

the freshmen have arrived at the university, and they were buying their books, nervous and excited for the first day of classes tomorrow. i wondered if i could blend in. could i pass for an overdressed eighteen year old student? i asked meagan this, and she said i could pass for college, but probably not eighteen. "why not?" i said. "your eyes are red. you look like someone who's been working all day." i looked in the mirror. my eyes were red. only the two extremes have the power to make them such - work and weed.

there was a lot of leftover food in the staff lounge. it seemed as though every room and its closet held a meeting today. i ate some cod wrapped in cold fry bread, and helped myself to salad, a snapple green tea, and two coconut lemon bars. the sweetness of the meal gave me mild vertigo, or maybe it was staring at the computer for too long. i have these moments sometimes where i feel really off-balance, and it takes me a little while to adjust. it first happened a few nights after i had graduated from college. maybe it was just proof i wasn't eighteen anymore.

the receptionist came in to tell the girl i work with that she bought some clothes from ross and was very excited about her recent purchases. that's how it goes where i work. the girls chat about everything from clothes to politics, and i sit there, pretending to be more interested in cracked.com's article of the day because i have nothing to contribute, nothing to add to the conversation to make it any more bubbly and full of pep than it already is. i stay out of it, mostly because i am a conversation-killer. case in point: friday, stacy and emily are chatting about weekend plans. after ten minutes of talk, stacy turns to me. "do you have any plans this weekend?" i shake my head, "no. not really."

they look disappointed, so i feel i must come up with something. well, there was that writing group i was going to attend. "actually, i might meet up with a friend from undergrad." first of all, she wasn't really a friend; second, i was already thinking about backing out (which i did). "oh, that's cool. did you go to school around here?" "i went to the main campus for undergrad." "oh." the conversation ends, further prooving that, not only is a b.a. no longer relevant in our society, it's no longer relevant to even discuss your b.a.

i enjoy all this anyway. i like to write about the ordinary because the ordinary is all that really matters.
we've all been there.

i'm in a good mood tonight, so i thought i'd blog, you know, just to see what happens. maybe it had to do something with the two hour power nap i took right after work, or that i watched a movie about a writer (yes, the latter always puts me in a good mood: i.e. wonderboys, adaption, sideways, starting out in the evening, swimming pool, etc. any more recommendations?). i finally got around to seeing stranger than fiction, having avoided it for so long because the idea for that movie was my own, and i thought it up in winter 2004, during my script writing class with professor cheryl slean. unfortunately, i wasn't a very good writer, and my idea wasn't well formulated.

essentially, my main character, jarvis slackowzki, was writing a script about something, and he would meet a girl named eloise gundam (yes, my characters' names were the only thing i was proud of). in his script, his main character was a man named jerome. the inspiration for this was that i met a black guy named jerome who played trumpet, and he tried to recruit me for trumpet lessons at the s.u. recording studio, but i politely declined. actually, i said i would email him and then i didn't. again, my roundabout, underhanded version of just saying "no." anyway, i thought it would've made for an interesting story if i had been writing a story about a guy named jerome and then i would meet jerome. since it didn't happen that way, and i never met a jarvis in my life, jarvis would write the story, and he would meet jerome. yeah, i obviously didn't know how to write fiction.

anyway, the essence of the story was that the writer would meet the main character in his story. had i been a more focused writer, been born a little earlier, and had a bit more ambition, i might've penned stranger than fiction. it's like that scene in waking life, where ethan hawke's character talks about all these discoveries going on at the same time in different parts of the world. the theory is that everyone more or less is thinking the same thing, and we all just have to snatch these ideas out of the air. the successful people are the ones who can make the ideas come to life. it's not about skill or resources or luck. it's all just about sticking your hand into the air, grasping it, and then making it real. i wish i knew how it was done.

anyway, stranger than fiction turned out much better than my one act script did, a script which included lyrics from elliott smith's "2:45 a.m." professor slean told me, "you don't actually need to include song lyrics." and then it turned out that jerome was a rapist and tried to, or either did, force himself onto eloise - i can't remember. of course my untrained writerly mind made the black guy a rapist. i was ashamed that i had come up with it, but i really had no other ideas. they taught us that the plot had to move forward, and for some reason, i ended up churning out something that would've been better suited for the lifetime channel. unlike most plots, most work-in-progresses, my one act scene didn't move forward. after the semester, it sat on my computer, like most of my other botched attempts at a good story, unedited.

i think i liked stranger than fiction because of where i am right now. in the beginning, the main character, harold crick, has a routine, and it's a very boring routine. he wakes up, brushes his teeth, goes to work, and then he comes home. it's a very one-man-guy kind of life, the sort of which has somehow turned into my daily existence. when harold realizes his author is going to kill him off in her book, he stops caring about carrying on his daily routine, and decides that he doesn't want to die, but what should he do? in a great scene, dustin hoffman's character tells him he should eat pancakes, implying that even if harold were to just eat pancakes until his death, his life would become a lot more interesting and fun than the previous life he had been living up until that point.

if i really faced the fact that everything was going to end, what would i do differently? would i still go to work tomorrow? would i continue to be so engrossed in my book? would i leave my headphones on? am i really living my life right now, or is it someone else's? am i really who i say i am, or am i just some character i've made up in my mind? why doesn't everyone, myself included, just do what we wanna do, say what we wanna say?

we might not have as much time as we think.
what happened to this town.

so, i was reading sarah vowell again on the bus today, this time her book radio on: a listener's diary. she spent all of 1995 listening to the radio, and wrote about the experience. the first chapter focuses mostly on kurt cobain, and how radio stations all across america continue to play nirvana songs over and over again. "he'll always be on the radio," she writes, "just like he'll always be dead." she goes on about how she immortalized kurt, and how his suicide sent her into a deep depression. it's a really good chapter.

i stopped listening to the radio in high school. i couldn't understand why kwod (106.5 fm), 98 rock (98.5 fm), and all the other stations wouldn't let go of the alternative era. i thought i was above it, even though i was listening to shitty pop-punk bands like screeching weasel and the bouncing souls. i would only turn on the radio weeks before christmas, when the oldies station would play christmas carols, commercial-free, nonstop, 24 hours a day. they still do it; it's amazing.

but i sided with the stupid punks who wrote songs like "the radio still sucks (ataris)," "please play this song on the radio (nofx)," and "fuck the radio (pretty much every punk band's message)." be a rebel and think for yourself, right? it was easy to hate the radio. on the way to school, i'd listen to the same wankers doing the morning show, and they would make the same lame jokes about dawson's creek, or else some wisecrack about monica lewinsky. they were boring; they were tired; and worst of all, they never played a single fucking song in the morning. why it never occured to me to play a tape, i don't know.

i wish that someone had turned me onto npr or some other relevant station at an earlier age. i probably wouldn't have been ready for it, but if i heard sarah vowell praising kurt cobain for dropping his guitar mid-song once at a concert to insult and publicly humiliate a molestor in the mosh pit (some guy was groping a girl, and kurt didn't appreciate this), i might've actually listened. she also brought up how he and bassist novoselic french-kissed on national television to ward off homophobic fans. in the liner notes to incesticide, kurt admitted that he had a hard time living his life knowing that two "wastes of sperm and eggs raped a girl while singing the lyrics to 'polly.'"

i read all this, and i saw this stuff happen on tv, but i never really thought about what it meant. i was too young to be a real nirvana fan (the angst didn't occur until ok computer), but i knew kurt stood for something, and that he meant a lot to a lot of people. i remember hearing about his suicide on the news (my parents always loved telling me about musicians' suicides and/or overdoses - perhaps a subconscious attempt to draw me away from my noisy electric guitar), and i remember seeing a kid with a hooded sweater, sitting on a bus stop, his head in his hands, like kurt's death was the end of the everything.

i'd be lying if i said nirvana had nothing to do with my decision to move to seattle seven years ago. even though the grunge era was long over, and the wto riots were three years behind us, i thought that seattleites would still be passionate and out-of-control, ready to stand up for what's right, ready to scream at the top of their lungs whatever it was they had to say. smashing guitars, inhaling teargas, and looting nike, right? no, not at all. it turns out seattle was a lot more like the seattle depicted on frasier. and guess what? i fucking hated frasier.

but, who am i kidding? if the real revolution ever came, i'd probably just watch it on tv.
fraud is the worst.

according to dante, fraud is the worst sin. the people who committed fraud in life are closest to the asshole of the inferno, where satan is stuck. before reading the inferno, i always assumed that it would be something else, like rape, murder, or genocide. but no, it was fraud. who would've guessed? the other students in my dante class were equally surprised. "why fraud?" someone asked. father rowan explained, "dante believed that fraud and deceit were the worst. he believed a society wouldn't be able to exist if it consisted of fraudulent characters." it kind of makes sense. if i was a shady character who went around ripping everyone off, and you were a shady character who went around ripping everyone else off, we would probably soon figure each other out, and then we wouldn't even talk anymore. we would no longer be a society, but rather a bunch of people living separately, dreaming about our next big scam. nothing would ever get done.

i was thinking about fraud tonight because i just finished listening to last monday's episode of this american life, "enforcers." act one focused on a group of people who scam the scammers. their website, 419eater.com, chronicles three "cyber-vigilantes" from the u.s. who targeted a nigerian scammer. the cyber-vigilantes posed as members of a made-up church, then tricked the scammer into travelling 800 miles from his hometown to the border of darfur, and made him wait for over four months, promising that they would give him a $200,000 grant in order to build a church in nigeria. these vigilantes even went so far as to tell this scammer that his mother was dead.

sounds pretty fucked up, huh? that's what i love about this american life, and the show's creator, ira glass. they make a big deal out of stories like this, stories most people would normally just gloss over. people on the 419eater thread left comments like, "hahaha. this is side-splittingly hilarious" and "this guy is getting what he deserves. good work." the three vigilantes expressed no regret putting their victim in harm's way, or even telling him that his mother was dead. they reasoned that this nigerian scammer was willing to rip off a church; it was his greed that led him into harm's way. he had it coming. in essence, two wrongs make a right.

ira pointed out that the nigerian scammer uses the same exact logic to justify ripping off his own victims. most likely, the nigerian believes that it's the americans' greed which leads them to their own financial ruin. so, what point are the people at 419eater trying to make? they claimed their purpose is to waste scammers' time, so that these scammers will have less time to scam other people. sounds pretty pointless to me, but i guess everyone needs a hobby, right?

i really need to learn how to start up my own podcast, and do my own radio show or something. i get excited thinking about the possibility of working on a team full of people who love reading and writing, and music and film. young, idealistic people who can actually get shit done, but who have enough sense enough to demand monetary compensation for the good work they do, unlike americorps. where does such a place exist? i think my dream job would be to work on a show like this american life. they're up for five emmy's this year; i think i'll have some competition applying.

dare to dream, right? i just need to figure out how to get things off the ground.
on being a pushover.

at bumbershoot a few weeks ago, i ran into this girl from a writing class i once had. she asked if i was still writing. i wanted to say no, but i'm a terrible liar; i wanted to mention the blog, but i didn't think it was important enough. i went with what was safe: "kind of," i told her, or maybe it was "a little bit." ambiguous enough to come across as though i was too cool and levelheaded to be pursuing something so childless, so pointless, but also mysterious enough to state the obvious: "duh. what do you think i went to college for? writing is the only reason i wake up anymore."

my answer didn't satisfy her curiosity, so she told me about a writing group she planned on starting, and would i like to join? the invitation caught me completely off guard, as i remember this girl once told me in class: "you don't know what you're talking about." we were paired together twice, which really upset me, since i wanted to see what other people were writing about, and because this girl obviously didn't give two shits about anything i had to say. ever. but of course i couldn't be a dick and outright refuse her invitation. i'm the worst kind of people, you see. i will say yes to anything, bend over backward for you, and then take it all back. i will resent you, and i will write about you during work hours.

i regretted even then writing my email address for her, since i knew that it would be something i would never do. i could've used a fake; i could've just never replied, or even went so far as to delete my entire email account. i am that dramatic, if you haven't already figured out by now (so don't be surprised if one day, you visit this site, and you come across an error message as opposed to yet another manic-depressive daily rant). i'm such a pushover that i even bothered replying to her follow-up email, requesting a time and place to meet this weekend. i wrote back: name the time, name the place, i'll be there. even though i knew i'd never show.

and i thought about it, and i thought about it. maybe it wouldn't be so bad. maybe it would actually help me. i can't just decide to be a writer now, can i? i need to make connections, need people to look over my work and critique it, analyze it, to no end. i need to get out there and meet people, even if it's just to talk about something as silly as writing, right? i weighed the pros and cons. i thought about my cousin who admitted he didn't care much for family gatherings adding, "life's too short. you should get to choose who you want to spend time with."

i told a lie. i replied just twenty minutes ago, saying that i needed to prep for the gre with a friend of mine. in truth, emily wants me to study for the gre with her, but i doubt i will be ready by november. i still don't even know what to go to school for, what school i want to attend, how i'm going to pay for it, or if i even want to go, or anything. in any case, i don't feel like i need a writing group right now. looking back, i can say that most of them were barely helpful. because all that time, i was writing with the belief that something would come of it: a publication, a portfolio, a completed work.

now i write only because i'm certain that nothing ever will.
welcome freshmen.

yesterday, i told myself i was going to buy some milk, since i'm out. i could've gone to qfc and taken the bus at 5:26, but i decided i wanted to go home right away, and i took the 5:09 bus instead. i wanted to check out the columbia city farmer's market, and it was a longshot, but i thought they might have sold milk. even though i didn't have cash, and i was fairly certain a farmer's market only takes cash. so, i went. there was no milk. i ate my cereal with water this morning. my mom told me that she had a coworker, gemma, who was too cheap to buy milk or condiments for her kids, so the kids always ate their cereal with milk. when they were lucky enough to go to mcdonald's, her two boys would load up on salt, sugar, ketchup and mustard packets.

i've been putting just about anything and everything on my holds list at the library, since the columbia city library is less than 500 feet away from my house. yesterday, i picked up sarah vowell's book, bring the cannoli, and i read some of it on the bus this morning. she's amazing. i'm glad to finally be reading a funny author who isn't david sedaris, and who doesn't tell the same story over and over like miranda july. i first heard sarah vowell read "shooting dad," the first story in cannoli, on this american life. i didn't think the story was going anywhere at first, but i really liked her voice (she sounds like a character on the simpsons or else kristen schaal), so i listened. the story was great, so now i have to read everything she's ever written. also, she's coming to town hall next month.

so, you know. something to look forward to.
lack of co-operation.

last night, ross invited me over for dinner at his co-op, bob the house. i was reluctant to go, since it's an hour bus ride from my apartment to the u-district, but i decided i could use a night off from watching back-to-back episodes of ugly betty. a few days earlier, i asked if i should bring anything. "you don't need to bring anything," he said, then added, "maybe just a bottle of wine." so, after work i stopped at qfc to look for some wine. i don't know anything about wine. mostly, i just look for bottles that are under $10 and have a cool-looking label. i settled on snoqualmie red rose, something or other. the dealbreaker was that it was local and the label contained the phrase: "organically grown grapes." perfect for a hippie commune.

after the bus dropped me off at 45th ave ne and brooklyn ave ne, i had plenty of time to kill. i decided i would go inside a comic book store. when i was younger, ten maybe, my parents drove past the comic store. i wanted to go in then, as comic stores were the only places i wanted to see on vacations, but i think it was closed that day, or else we were too busy to stop. it was a small comic store, but they carried a lot of stock. the clerk said, "hello," and i looked around. little yellow notes said "new!" and the comics were arranged by label: dc, image, marvel, etc. it was hard to believe that i was into this stuff at one point, even though i never read a single comic from beginning to end. i always preferred much lighter reading, like archie or foxtrot.

i picked up liz prince's small comic, would you still love me if i wet the bed? i read the first few passages, and decided it was too girly, too hipster, too romantic. but i kind of liked it anyway. they also had a harvey pekar and frank miller section; the few comic artists i actually know. i was interested in the process of creating a comic, and i wanted to ask the owner or clerk or whoever was standing behind the register, but i didn't. he probably just wanted people to buy stuff and get the hell out.

to get to bob the house, i had to walk down 17th ave ne, a neighborhood full of frat and sorority houses. a bunch of sorority girls, a dozen or so, were talking in front of their big, brick house. i never knew anyone in a frat or sorority, except for my cousin francis, who went to uc davis. i heard that when he pledged, his brothers got him shitfaced, stuck him in a trunk, and then drove him out to the woods. then they beat the shit out of him. i think he had to eat a live goldfish, too. all in the name of tradition and brotherly love.

i'm sure not all frats and sororities fall under the hollywood stereotype, but even so, i can't imagine what would make anybody want to pledge. the girls were mostly white, and they all looked the same. they wore sunglasses even though it was dark out, and their land rovers and mini coopers were all crammed together in the driveway, overflowing into the street. did each of them really feel like they belonged? what do they get out of this, other than parties and cheap rent?

when i made it to bob the house, ross wasn't there. one of his housemates let me in. since i don't know how to make small-talk, i began with my usual question, "are you originally from seattle?" i feel like the most boring person on earth every time i let that one out. she said she was from texas and came to seattle to get her masters at the uw in bio-engineering. now she does freelance writing for science magazines. it was awkward, though. i got the sense that she didn't really want to talk to me, and was just keeping me company until ross finally arrived. when he finally did arrive, she shot upstairs almost immediately. is this what it's like to live in a hippie commune?

while preparing falafel patties, boiled beans, and corn on the cob, i asked ross what the point of living in a co-op was. "ideally," he said, "living in a co-op is supposed to make your life easier. it's supposed to be cheaper, obviously, and you should be able to buy stuff in bulk. people help out with cooking meals and doing chores. you're also supposed to support each other and exchange ideas. other people are supposed to expose you to new things. it's kind of like being in a relationship." he expressed that he was thinking of moving to south seattle. "so, there's been a lack of co-operation around here, huh?" "yeah," he said, "my housemates are hardly ever here."

ross' ex-girlfriend, anita, who was staying with him for two weeks, had cooked up some vegan cornbread, carrot-slaw, and hummus dip with green peppers. they both liked the red wine i brought. during dinner, someone came home and hardly said anything before going upstairs. i felt a weird tension in the house, like they all had come to resent each other or something. it made me glad that i lived alone. in fact, with my fruit flies and other bugs dancing in the kitchen and attacking my left-overs, my studio seemed like more of a co-op than bob the house.

at 8:32, i decided it was time to leave, so that i could catch my bus back to columbia city. the bus comes at 8:45, and then not again until 9:26. i powerwalked down sorority avenue, worrying all the while that i would miss my bus and have to wait another half an hour. i jaywalked and didn't hesitate to check the clock on my cell phone. with the 49 in sight, i sprinted down the sidewalk and shot across the street. i made it, just as the bus arrived. on the nearly empty bus, i sat by the window, panting, and i thought about timing.

if i had left just a minute earlier, would i still have made the bus? the obvious answer was yes, since i would have had extra time. then i thought about it some more. if i had stayed a minute earlier, i might have decieved myself into thinking that i had all the time in the world, slowed down my step, and may have chosen not to jaywalk. a single stop light would've made me late. during my half-mile walk, every step mattered, and the traffic flowed in my favor. it might not seem like that big of a deal, but lately, i've come to think that timing is everything.
i thought it was thursday.

on the bus yesterday, this big black woman was telling everyone how much she disliked the driver. "sometimes i work overtime, just so i can avoid him!" she said. after our driver hit a bump, she started up again, "he is a defensive driver! and he talks all the time!" i found it amusing that most of the complaints she held against the driver were the same complaints i could've used against her. motherfucker's just trying to do his job, i wanted to say, leave him alone. this woman wouldn't shut up, but nobody else seemed to mind.

over the weekend, i went to john's parents house with john and emily. they had a family get-together for john, since he graduated from art school. john's mom asked him to sit in front of the cake, which read: "persistence pays off." john's dad explained it. "john has had his final portfolio stolen, had his car broken into, how many times?" "three," john said. "and he rode the ferry every morning to poulsbo. persistence does pay off." we applauded. john's mom and emily took pictures of him while he sat in front of his cake.

before the party, emily wanted to buy a banjo, so we went to dusty strings in fremont. dusty strings is probably the greatest music store i've ever been to. the store builds harps, and sells auto-harps, xylophones, acoustic guitars, mandolins, and banjos. i really wanted a harp, but the cheapest one was around $1300. emily bought a gold tone banjo, and said that her dream is to busk at the public market. i want to try busking, too. apparently, you need a license to do it.

this fat man just came into the office. unlike all the other applicants, he was wearing a plaid t-shirt and khakis. he thought his on-campus interview with the law firm was on thursday, but it was actually this morning, and he was half an hour late. the interviewer still called him into the room, even though i'm pretty sure he's not going to get the job. i don't know why the interviewer still called him in. he's late, and he's not dressed for the part, so he's obviously not going to get it. why waste his time any further? it's just how our society functions, i guess, built on false common courtesy.
i want a bachelor's degree.

i discovered recently that my younger cousin didn't know the difference between a bachelor's degree and an associate's degree. i explained how students who attend a four-year university earn a bachelor's degree, and that community colleges only offer associate's degrees. i assumed he already had this information, but he didn't. i can't remember now if i knew that i would be earning a bachelor's degree before or after i started college. most likely, i didn't know until after. that's how terrible our schools are at letting their students know what lies ahead. keep in mind, too, that my cousin, like myself, attended an expensive catholic school. go figure. so, if this happened to us, just imagine what's going on at the public school level. yeah, it's that bad.

my cousin was also duped into thinking that he had to declare a major while he was attending community college. this didn't sound right to me, but i didn't say anything because i didn't actually attend community college, so i wouldn't know. i did an internet search recently, though, and found out that no, one doesn't actually have to declare a major at the community college level. a student just needs to complete 60 semester units to earn his associate's degree, and then can transfer to a state school. i don't quite understand this, either. shouldn't a person just be able to drop community college at any point, and transfer, since he was eligible to apply for college at 18? i suppose he stuck it out so that his credits would transfer.

why is this seemingly simple information so difficult to obtain? when i was in high school, i didn't know that had i taken a.p. courses, they would've transferred to college, and i would've been significantly less in debt. i could've graduated a year earlier. but no advisor, friend, teacher, or parent was ever able to tell me any of this. i didn't even think about the cost of college, really. i just knew that you took out loans, but at eighteen years old, i had no concept of what one's annual salary looked like after college. what do you have to compare $80,000 of debt with, when you're earning $200 a month in allowance, and you have no idea what you're worth once you get your college degree?

there's a definite disconnect here. when i entered college, i didn't know the difference between a loan, a grant, and a scholarship. i carried this myth with me that since my g.p.a. wasn't very high - seattle u was the only school to accept me - that i wasn't even close to being eligible for any scholarships. i had no idea where to even look for them, let alone apply for them. my advisors were no help, either. in high school, the summation of my meetings with mr. seishas was: "your g.p.a. isn't high enough for any uc's." then, in college, dr. smith: "are you able to afford these extra credits?" i told her yes, even though the real answer was no.

so, why are philosophy, theology, and algebra part of the core curriculum, and not a class that teaches financial responsibility, or even a workshop dedicated to giving students information about the cost of classes vs. the actual amount the average college graduate can expect to earn after graduation? maybe the people who run these institutions think it's just a given. you're supposed to know that, at seattle university, if you don't qualify for scholarships or grants, after four years, you can expect to be at least $90,000 in debt. after you finish college, if you chose a major like creative writing, you will make $31,500 a year, if you are able to find a job.

maybe the people in charge know that it doesn't matter. what eighteen year-old ready to embark on his college adventure is going to listen to a session on financial responsibility? an eighteen year old whose family has no money isn't going to think twice about $90,000. it might as well be a million dollars. and poor people who want to escape their life of poverty will get themselves in debt to do just that. in conclusion, the way things currently work are as follows: go to college; you'll be poorer than you were before you started.

this is probably a given for most people; goods and services cost money. duh. but what does it mean when information is kept from the poor masses, from the high school graduates about to embark on a financially exploitative journey of self-discovery? what does it mean that, at our school, naeff scholarships were only advertised to students enrolled in the honors program (something i didn't even know about until my senior year of college)? is this omission of information/blatant oppression masked as: "you should have known better?" "you should've asked the right questions?" "you should've been more proactive and responsible when it came to these matters?"

how were we supposed to know?
it's very good for the male penis.

i made the mistake of watching obama's recent appearance on the o'reilly factor. i can't believe that i used to care about stuff like this, even be slightly passionate about it. it's amazing how some of this bullshit is aired on television. millions of viewers are watching, hanging onto these people's words, and i can't believe it's happening. we've decided in our country that one person will be responsible for decisions that affect all of our lives. yeah, that's including mike, who you went to school with, heather, who sometimes cuts your hair, jeannette, who's book you've just read, your mom and dad, sonny, who cleans the bathrooms in your workplace, ian, who you think is a huge douchebag, danielle, who you were once in love with but now probably has a bad coke habit, and pretty much everyone you've ever talked to in your entire life. oh yeah, we'll just leave it up to one fucking guy to make the most important decisions for all of us.

god forbid we got together in our communities, started grassroots organizations, and tried to figure shit out on our own. i feel like my generation gave up before we even started. we tell each other that protesting is pointless, and that people are truly uninformed. we have become oversensitive and shut down at the slightest of disagreements. that's how i operate, anyway. i don't know how else to be. how am i ever going to feel empowered, or learn, or even truly listen, when i shut down in front of family and friends? watching o'reilly and obama go at it, i thought about my own inability to deal with conflict. i never have been able to. i've always sucked at debates, and i've always felt attacked. when it comes to something important, i find it difficult just having normal conversations with people.

i wonder why this is. i was pretty sheltered growing up, and i've never been in an actual fight. all throughout grade school, i tried to remain as inconspicuous as possible. i was quiet and kept to myself. i wasn't this way because i thought i was better than anyone; i just figured that if i was quiet and kept to myself, i'd make it out alive. there wasn't a single physical fight between any two people during my nine years at st. ignatius. i let mike t. drag me through the hall by my sweater, but i refused to label it as bullying. we were just playing a game, and i didn't mind.

everyone wants to be right; i understand that. but i know myself well enough that if i want to be "right" all the time, or at least most of the time, how will i ever listen, or learn? i think that my complacency or pessimism stems from the fact that i'm afraid. i'm afraid because i live in a country where adults continue to hold rallies. i thought rallies were over and done with once we left high school? i live in a country where some old white bitch holds up a sign shown on national tv that says: "hockey moms for palin." i live in a country where two grown, educated men sit across from each other and talk about iran having nukes, russia being an aggressor, the terrorist network coming to destroy us all.

and i am terrified because i feel absolutely powerless to do anything about it. i am more afraid of the people talking than the people coming to destroy me. because at least the people who supposedly hate our freedom and want us dead are clear about what their goals are. o'reilly and obama were talking about tax cuts and using figures that i couldn't understand for shit. but because i'm poor and i don't invest, their conversation didn't even apply to me anyway. i wonder about these people who think they have answers, who know what's best. why aren't they afraid?

how did they get to know so much?
the seattle freeze.

the girl we interviewed today was incredibly enthusiastic. everyone was thrilled with her resume, experience, and passion for social justice. interviewing her really made me question my own interview skills. i pictured myself in "the hot seat" just five weeks ago, slumping down in my chair, or else leaning forward with my bad posture, hardly smiling and feeling hopeless about the state of the world. what made them want to hire me? i've never asked anyone here that question directly. someone said that they liked my answer when i was asked about my "five year plan." the simple truth is, i have no five year plan, but i'm pretty sure i wouldn't have a job right now if i told the truth. instead, i said that i hope in five years, i will be idealistic and engaged in meaningful work. apparently, they liked that. now i'm working.

i asked the potential work-study why she was interested in social justice work. it was the only thing i asked her. she told me that she used to watch the news with her parents every night, and she saw all the horrible things going on in the world: the starvation, the wars, the poverty. she said that on the news, she once saw kids digging through the trash, looking for food. after seeing this, she regularly threw away whole bananas, thinking that these would reach those starving children.

the applicant also mentioned something called "the seattle freeze," and had we heard of it? no, we said. we thought it had to do with the lack of employment in seattle, or the weather, but we were all wrong. the seattle freeze refers to how everyone in seattle is super-friendly, but they all have their own exclusive social groups. meagan's roommate immediately came to mind. i think the seattle freeze is a real thing, but it doesn't bother me. i don't go out too much; i like to watch tv.

as the interview progressed, i gathered that this girl was much more qualified than i was, and she also had much more interesting experiences than i have had. she's also a year younger than i am. at one point, she even looked at me and started saying, "so, if you ever want to go to law school..." one of the lawyers interrupted. "don't start poaching james," she said, laughing. earlier this week, someone asked me if i had ever considered going to law school. i told her no. i wanted to tell her that i didn't even know what lawyers did, really, but i also didn't want to come across as a complete moron. if someone actually told me how we could change the system, how we could obtain knowledge and information without accruing debt, i might listen. i could be convinced.

but honestly, i found the "if you ever want to go to law school" comment a little demeaning. i mean, i get it. i'm just the assistant. i looked forward to being on the other end of the stupid interviewing game, just to know what it would feel like, but i really wasn't there. some people my age have often complained to me, "i'll never feel like an adult." i don't know what it takes to be an adult. it's probably all about attitude and confidence, the way one carries himself. it's these little things that matter, the things that make others talk to you and treat you a certain way.

these are things i don't have, and probably never will have. so, go ahead and talk to me like i'm a complete fool; i won't pretend that i'm anything but.
brotherhood of the travelling pants.

with my bag of groceries, i boarded the nine this evening. i went to the back of the bus. every time i head for the back of the bus, i have to wonder about this whole concept of second-class citizenry. we were all minority males back there today. there were these three guys, who had to be in their late teens or early twenties, and they were talking to each other. sometimes, too, i am arrogant enough to think that i will be made fun of. i go through life waiting to play the victim. after all, i am dressed like a j. crew tool, taking public transportation.

i didn't pay much attention until the boys started talking about girls. i waited for them to brag about how much pussy they got, as this is what i'm used to hearing from a bunch of boys their age. they fit the profile: one looked half-black, another looked half-black, half-asian, and the third looked half-black, half-mexican. "i bet i can tell what kind of girls you're into," one said to the other. "yeah? what then?" "either white girls, or asian girls." they all laughed. "yeah, i'm into asian girls." "what about me?" the third asked. "what kind of girls you think i'm into?" "i'd say half-black, or asian." they laughed again. he was right.

this talk of women really seemed to get the discussion going. it brought me back to fifth, sixth grade slumber parties, total catholic school sausage fests, where we boys would finally have to admit to having a crush on so-and-so. i tended to like these moments, as girly and pointless as they were. it was thrilling to say aloud who you'd been thinking about all year, as though voicing it might have somehow brought it closer to a reality. when you made it known, it was like she was already yours; someone who could finally save you from the loneliness of adolescence. but that's what catholic school did. it made you feel guilty for being attracted to someone of the opposite sex. you would just have to carry your dirty little secret until you were thirty, old enough to get married.

the boys kept their discussion going. "girls won't know if you like them or not. i don't give a fuck if you're holding a cardboard sign that says, 'i like you' and you're standing on a garbage can screaming it, she still won't know. until you actually look her in the eyes and tell her." it was breaking me that these ghetto gangsters at the back of the bus were being so emo.
call your mother and tell her you'll never be a lawyer.

today, we had a staff meeting, so our department could figure out what the other department (the one we share an office space with) actually does. two of the student advisers role-played a typical session with a student. what i got was that they basically do writing center work, minus having to read anything. it's all just about asking questions. "did you like your first year?" "what are you passionate about?" in truth, i could probably use one of these sessions myself. lately, though, i haven't been passionate about anything except for writing about how i'm not passionate about anything.

what i gathered from this role-playing session, though, is that most students here don't know what the hell they're doing. when asked why they chose to come to law school, most students say that they know lawyers, or that there are lawyers in their family. some students even cry at these adviser sessions, wondering why they're so behind, wondering if they'll ever get a job. i thought most of them had it figured out, but i guess a lot of them don't. i can't believe that this is what most of our lives are about: not knowing and just trying to push forward.

there's a whole bunch of crap in front of the columbia city plaza. all these pallets, signs, wood, and broken furniture were discarded outside their doors. the other night, i saw a mexican with a pickup truck sorting through the mess. "is all this free?" i asked him. "yeah," he said. i wished then that i had a truck, too, but i didn't. though my apartment was only a block away, i decided not to carry home the tv stand with its missing wheel. the top was all warped and bubbly. i tried to excavate a chair from the pile of rubbish, but i didn't have any luck. i just imagined all the wood tumbling down on me, rusted nails going through me. it wasn't worth it.

on the way home yesterday, the number nine was completely full. the driver informed us that the previous bus had gotten into an accident, so that's why everyone was crammed so tightly into this one. i stood the whole time, but didn't mind it so much. the glass castle has taught me that any time something sucks, all you have to say to yourself is, "this is an adventure," and all of a sudden, nothing is quite so bad anymore. the bus driver didn't seem to know any of his stops, though, which also made for an interesting ride. he'd say things like, "next stop is, uh, well...hmm. andover? andover! our next stop is andover."

then this car almost hit our bus. a woman near the front yelped. "don't worry, folks," the driver said, "if that was the closest call i had today, i'd be happy." this statement was meant to reassure us, but it obviously didn't come out that way. he blasted the air-conditioner, as if to compensate for the lack of space. no one seemed really put out, though. "it's not so bad," one woman told him. she had a seat near the front.

tomorrow is friday, and i like fridays. not because of the promise of a weekend, but because none of the students are around. i think i'd like to work in a place where no one is ever around.
i don't want your money.

this morning, i told myself i wasn't going to hate living in the united states. then i got screwed over by another corporation. it started last night when i found out that my internet service provider, clearwire, doesn't allow peer-to-peer torrenting. really, who pays for internet without taking advantage of torrents? as it turns out, a bunch of seattle folk are pissed off at this, and they've started their own website, www.clearwiresucks.com. i read from some of these angry posts that clearwire offers a ten (some others said 7) day grace period, so i decided that i would call in the morning and try my luck.

of course it didn't work; hence, this blog entry. after putting me on hold for an hour, and nearly making me miss my bus, the representative handed me over to another representative, who then handed me over to another representative. "i heard that you offer a ten-day grace period," i said. as it turns out, i received my modem on september 2. today is september 11, which makes me four days past my grace period. "so your contract is still valid," the woman told me. "what's the fine for cancelling early?" "$220." "that's fine. just cancel me." but of course, they wouldn't even let me do something as simple as that. she put me on hold, and i had to wait yet again for her supervisor.

the supervisor was named saqueshia or saquella, or sa-something, and she wasn't helpful at all. she asked me what the problem was. i couldn't outright say, "you guys won't let me download torrents," so i told her there was a speed issue. she said that she would like to troubleshoot, and possibly send over a representative if necessary. then, she almost made me want to vomit. "i don't want your money," she said, "i would like to see you get the service you signed up for." you don't want my money? really? so, that's why you won't just waive the early termination fee?

the woman before sa-something told me that if i had requested an extension on my seven-day trial, i could've waived the early termination fee. well, i would've done that, had they even bothered to advertise the seven-day trial somewhere, anywhere, on their goddamn website. so, just to recap, clearwire won't advertise that there's a seven-day trial, then they'll tell customers after-the-fact that they could've called to request an extension on the seven-day trial (which they didn't advertise), then they'll add insult to injury by saying something as stupid as, "i don't want your money."

clearwire, fuck you. you're right up there with ikea.
i get nervous in social situations, motherfucker.

on the bus this morning, i read one of those poems on the bus. today's was by angela reid. it's like this:


She drafts her letter of resignation,
Moves to France,
Buys a winery,
Cuts her hair (short),
Takes a lover,
No, two,
Writes her memoirs
And a best-selling cookbook.
Then her stop is called;
She clutches her ticket, memorizes her numbers, thanks the driver,
Who has himself just moved to Spain.

it appears that everyone on the bus is dreaming about leaving this country. and everyone shares the same self-doubt that it's a real possibility. there was a latina sitting under the poem, smiling to herself, as she read from a book called blood and flowers. it occurred to me that almost everyone who lives here hates this country. any time i start thinking, maybe i do like the united states, i end up driving by a whole street full of lowe's, home depots, wal-marts, big-o-tires, dairy queens, baskin robbins, hollywood videos, and all that other good stuff. and it strikes me that this is all we have.

i don't know if there is any other way to feel about living here. in school, all we heard was that the people who founded and ran (and continue to run) this country, were a bunch of rich, white, blood-thirsty men. they killed the indians and became heroes. they killed the nazis and became heroes. they did a whole lot of killing, and that made the country run. what's there to like about the united states? some people will say, it's not perfect, but it's still better than a lot of places. they're probably right about that. but that's just about as pointless as saying, i'm not perfect, but i'm still better than a lot of other people.

yesterday, i had to talk in front of people. it wasn't much. i just thanked the keynote speaker and thanked everyone for coming. then i said, pick up some materials by the stairs. then i said, thanks and goodnight. still, i got nervous about it. i can't believe teaching was an option for me at one point. i hate people looking at me and not saying anything. it just doesn't make any sense. what would i have done as a teacher, anyway? i'd say, this country was built on slavery and oppression, and nothing has changed. then my students would feel bad about their country, themselves, and then they would blog and blog about nothing.

there's a professor here who knows me by name. i find it kind of weird that he does, since he's kind of a big deal. remember the whole alberto gonzalez controversy a few years ago, where he fired a bunch of high-profile attorneys based on nothing? this professor was one of them. while he was the u.s. attorney for the western district of washington, he successfully prosecuted terrorist ahmed ressam. during student orientation, he gave a really good speech that almost - just almost - made me want to become a lawyer. but i'd enroll only if it was free. once, this professor caught me eating free food outside the building. "what are you doing here?" he said. "no tables, no chairs?" "i've got to catch my bus," i lied. the truth was, i would've felt weird eating with the students, since i wasn't one of them.

three law students - all female - approached me yesterday, since they are applying for our work-study position. after a year of interviewing and being rejected, it's strange being on the other end of it. one girl had red guitar-pick earrings. given the choice, i would've hired her based on that alone. i'm not a sensible person. i don't believe in things like g.p.a. or merit and hard work. this whole system is based on luck and knowing people. i don't know why anyone would want to do work-study, anyway. $8.25/hr., part-time? yeah, that's really going to help cover the $100,000 of debt they'll accrue over the next three years.

when it's so code in the d, how da fuck d'we s'posed to keep peace?

that's not a knife, dude!

on saturday, i decided i wanted to get a haircut. i walked up and down rainier ave, trying to find a decent looking, affordable barbershop. there wasn't one. i took one step into big john's barbershop, and immediately wanted to leave. big john, if that was him, was this big old black dude, who reminded me of my uncle rebel. and uncle rebel isn't someone i would want cutting my hair. big john sat in his chair and had no customers. everything inside his shop looked dusty, rusty and old, like something straight out of texas chainsaw massacre. the shop's crappy interior was a little shocking, since it sits in between yuppified restaurants like geraldine's and tutta bella's, and next to indie/crafty/superchic (whatever you would call it) andaluz. what the hell are you still doing in business, big john?

luckily, big john took cash only, and i didn't have any cash on me. so, i left big john's shop, telling him i would be back. i'm sure he didn't hold his breath, waiting for me to return. i walked into some salon. these black women gave me a what-the-hell-are-you-doing-here look. "how much for a haircut?" "fifteen, but the barber ain't here," this black woman told me. "he's gone for the day." "alright," i said, and left. why is it so difficult to get a haircut in columbia city? i decided that i was just going to have to suck it up and go to helmet head in georgetown. emily recommended it, and despite the exorbitant price, i figured i had no other choice. i walked to georgetown.

the receptionist had no empty slots until two, so i played wii fit with emily until then. i was glad to see that my wii fit age was only 26. i was also labeled "normal" - not underweight or overweight - and told that my profile was the least likely to get sick. good news from a japanese machine. i played these games where you hit soccer balls with your head, skiied down a hill, and ran a short distance. i even hula-hooped. wii fit is a pretty good game for people like myself who are too lazy to actually go outside. i just might have to get one.

this old redheaded woman named elizabeth cut my hair. she talked a lot like this girl i used to work with at tower, jessie, who sounded like she was high and giggling all the time. both of them probably both were. elizabeth grew up in upstate new york, then moved to chicago, then moved to kirkland, then to georgetown. she decided that the pacific northwest was the most beautiful place she had ever been to, and thus decided to stay. she also talked about how she was trying to buy a house, and how she owned a doberman pincher. i guess that having a doberman pincher makes it hard for people to buy a house.

when i returned to emily's, she decided she wanted to leave the house. we walked over to fantagraphics, a store dedicated to graphic novels and comic books. i liked just about everything in the store, but i couldn't bring myself to make a purchase, since i knew i could check out just about any item from the library for free. after that, we went to a store where they sold $300 pillows and other highly-priced goods for the house. i'm talking $400 lamps and $45 candles. how do these retailers justify their prices? how do customers justify their spending? emily bought a tattoo art book. she said she was thinking about getting another tattoo.

after checking out georgetown's shops, we went to miller paint co., where john works. john showed me how the paint mixers work, how the tint machine works, and how he doesn't mind closing ten minutes early. in the back, he offered me a big yellow bucket for free. i thought about taking it and using it as a garbage can, but i didn't. towards the front of the store, there was a display case with an engravement. there was a giant typo, something that read along the lines of "devine paints will transforms..." john found it hilarious that the company spent so much money for the engravement, and that there was a blatant error any ten year old could easily point out.

later that night, the three of us spent a long time at target, game crazy/hollywood video, and safeway. by the time we got back, it was ten o'clock. emily announced that she was starving. i was at the point where i was so hungry that i wasn't hungry anymore. john, however, first found a big soapy stain in his trunk, and felt compelled to clean it up immediately. next, emily pointed out that one of his beers had spilled all over the bottom of the fridge. he then felt compelled to clean that up as well. this led to john cleaning out the entire fridge, and emily fuming, since she was hungry and had no space to cook. finally, she gave up and ordered a pizza from stellar pizza.

we ate our pizza while emily tried to play the wii game she had rented called cooking mama. there was a giant steak on the screen, and she had no idea how to cut it. john and i, in our inebriated states, called out suggestions. "grab a knife and cut it!" he said. "there's no knife!" she told him. "there's a knife right there, to your right!" i yelled. she tried to pick it up. "that's not a knife, dude! that's the space in the cutting board!" i looked closer at the screen, and realized she was right. this got me laughing quite a bit. at last, she realized all she had to do was wave the wii controller up and down, up and down. the steak split into five neat strips. by then, we were all in hysterics over how stupidly simple the whole game was.

on sunday, i finished reading the glass castle by jeannette walls. i liked it a lot, but then again, like the author, i'm fascinated by hardships.
loose hipster bitches = the end of us.

i got a call from i.t. this morning. it was the main i.t. woman, who happens to be vietnamese (i think). i have a really difficult time understanding her, and she is probably well aware that she is hard to understand. for this reason, i try to solve all my own technological problems, but usually to no avail. today, i just needed a document converted into a pdf document, and she took care of this correctly, and right away. minutes later, though, she needed something from me. "access to jus..." "jim!" she always cuts me off, as though we shouldn't even bother answering the mainline with our department's title. "you know al alsdorf?" "yeah, bob alsdorf?" "yeah. he here. he need you to open door for ada office." "open the door?" "yes, he need you let him in." "oh, he needs to get in?" "yes, you let him in. okay?" "alright, i'll go ask rick..." "nevermind!" and with that, she hung up. i found it rude and unprofessional, but then again, what do i care? i'm blogging on the clock.

i suppose that i, too, would be upset all the time if i had to work on computers. they are, after all, the most important asset to any company, and definitely not the morons that use them. if email goes out, or the system shuts down, everyone would probably just go home. and that would suit me, and probably everyone else, just fine. if people really wanted anarchy, they'd learn how to dismantle our technology, as realistically shown in last year's summer blockbuster, live free or die hard.

i read an adbusters article (yeah, that makes me white - so what?) recently on how hipsterism marks the end of our civilization. the main case was that every generation had this group of rebels (i.e. situationists, hippies, etc.) that opposed the mainstream and the powers that be. these previous groups stood for something, were unified, and they had meaning. but our unlucky generation produced squat; instead of getting educated, politically-savvy, idealistic youth, we got hipsters. they exist for no reason other than an attempt to be fashionable: the big sunglasses, the trucker hats and messenger bags, the love of indie-electronica-folk music, the costly haircuts that try to convey the individual's false apathy. and the girls with the straight-cut bangs, their vintage skirts, their excess of plastic jewelry.

but really, what's the point of blaming any one group? everyone's at fault. you're to blame if you're poor. and if you're rich, you're to blame, too. but who could blame you? if i had money, i probably wouldn't want to part with it, either. so, of course you're going to vote for a politician who supports your interests, someone who will keep your money safe while you sleep at night. money, like technology, has become the only reason for our existence. we all like to pretend it's not, but it is.

this is the land of the free. come here, and make a lot of money. but don't make too much because then the poor people will resent you. don't make too little, either, because then the rich people will resent you. wherever you end up, though, especially don't end up in the middle because then you will end up resenting yourself. in the middle, you won't qualify for scholarships, or low-income assistance, tax breaks, welfare, health care, or anything else you might need. so, it's probably best to just be on top. when you're on top, you can live in a gated community and keep out any poor people who resent you. it's easier that way.

my cousin didn't know it at the time, but he presented an allegory of my entire existence in one small action. he called me up once, asking me to come to his house. when i showed up at the door, he looked extremely disappointed. "ahh, man!" he said, "what are you doing here?"
why did you leave california?

if i had gotten accepted to lmu or santa clara seven years ago, i probably would've gone. i don't know why seattle u accepted me, and those two schools didn't. i don't know why i only applied to three schools. laziness, probably. i know that i didn't apply to any uc's because my grades were too low, and i didn't apply to any state schools because i probably thought i was above them. i mean, who wants to go to csu fresno, or humboldt state? but people do go there, apparently, and by now, they're probably more well-adjusted and focused than i am.

i have to admit i'm a little embarrassed to be back here. when i left, i tried to convince others that i had these great plans to attend grad school and make it as a writer or teacher or something. on the other hand, i might be looking forward to this encounter with old professors: "so, what are you doing these days?" "nothing. you believed in me, and you were a fool." "are you still writing?" "no. i keep a blog, and everyone knows blogging is pointless." "why don't you apply to grad shool?" "because if an undergraduate degree made me this unhappy, a masters just might kill me."

maybe i'm being overdramatic. i don't think i'm even recognizable. once, on a return visit to tower records, some of the older staff members hadn't only forgotten my name; they acted as though we had never even met before. and these were people i worked with for an entire summer, 40 hours a week. i am asian after all, and my round head, like charlie brown's, makes me pretty forgettable. i'd like to keep it that way. i used to think my ability to not stand out would make me a good undercover cop or spy. i wish the c.i.a. were hiring unskilled college graduates.

if i had skill and confidence (connections and white skin would probably help, too), i think i'd like to live in mountain view, california, and work for google. with the money i made there, i would buy a small house with no roads leading to it. in the back, i'd have space for a garden, and i would compost all my leftovers. i'd have a whole forest nearby, so i could trim bushes and cut branches whenever i got bored, like i did in my parents' backyard. also, with the money i had, i would fly people out to come visit me, or i would visit them, and i would have writers/artists/musicians-in residence. i would grow my own food and draw water from a well. i would end this blog.

really, i would.
i once was a strapping young man.

it's weird that i now work across the street from where i lived for two years. it's been seven years now since i first moved into bellarmine hall, and in two weeks, a whole new group of hopeful eighteen-year-olds are going to show up and occupy the building. i remember being very excited for college. freshman year was a time of hope and possibility. and when i was in college, i thought that i could do anything. during move-in day, the elevators took forever, since students and their families were constantly trying to get their stuff up to the dorms. tired of waiting, i ended up lugging my 19" sharp tv up the six flights of stairs. yes, i once was a strapping young man. i remember being sweaty, tired, and ready to collapse when i had finally made it.

i was ready for my parents to leave, but they seemed to want to stick around forever. in fact, they were back a month after i had moved in to attend parents' weekend. i really didn't get it. why schedule parents' weekend so shortly after moving in? do it in the spring when some time has passed, and when the campus looks best. fools. anyway, i thought my parents had left, and then they came back. my dad was waving my schedule around. "do you need this?!" he asked. "i've got a copy," i said. he looked disappointed, and then they left for real.

i don't know what i'm going to do now. maybe i'll take a bunch of literature classes during winter quarter, and hope to get high with one of my professors. the dream lives on.
if you lose this one.


even though i don't believe in you, if you lose this one, it's going to be pretty fucking funny.
he don't like it at all.

this past weekend, i was finally able to attend the thing they call the bumbershoot. it's an all day music festival that features art, comedy acts, $7 polish sausages, and a bunch of other crap. we missed the first couple of songs neko case did because the folks who run bumbershoot are a bunch of numbskulls. basically, there are stages set up everywhere, and then there is a mainstage - you know, the place that most people will go to, because the mainstage features the day's main attractions. the assholes who run bumbershoot decided to set up two security checkpoints - one just to get into bumbershoot, and the other just to get into the mainstage. yeah, it's confusing.

the other thing meagan and i didn't know about the mainstage is that people are supposed to get green tickets to see the evening's main performances. after hanging out at the seattle center, scarfing down polish sausages with sauerkraut, and greasy ass fries, we decided we wanted to get back to the mainstage so we could watch band of horses. the people at the first security checkpoint stopped us. "you can't get in unless you have a green ticket." "where do we get those?" "they're sold out." "well, how else can we get them?" "you could try waiting by the exits. usually people on their way out just throw them away."

i was pretty pissed. sold out? are you fucking kidding me? meagan asked the security guard, "what did we pay $40 for then?" to which the guard snootily replied, "to get into bumbershoot!" again, are you fucking kidding me? according to this guard's logic, we paid $40 a ticket not to see bands play, but to walk around the seattle center to buy overpriced junk food. oh, and there were some assholes juggling knives. i was determined to find the nearest information booth and get some answers. "so, you guys are sold out of green tickets, huh?" "yeah," replied a girl with red hair. "there's nothing we can do?" "you can try asking people for them." "how were we supposed to know about these tickets?" meagan asked. "it says on the tickets," the girl calmly replied. she was, in fact, referring to the size-four-fucking-font printed on the front of the tickets. but who buys tickets to a festival and actually reads the physical ticket? once you've gained admittance to your destination, you don't carefully inspect that which got you in.


but no, we were the stupid ones. my ignorance made me first blame my friends ("why didn't someone like jacob or tiffany or emily, someone who's been to bumbershoot before, tell us about these stupid green tickets?" - yes, i will continually blame everyone else for every little problem i encounter, and this, i'm sure, will lead me to one of dante's circles in the inferno), then take up panhandling. with half an envelope, i created a sign: "need green tix." within minutes, a sad-looking young woman handed us her ticket. "oh my god," meagan said, "we love you." the woman walked away without saying anything. a little girl walked past me. "need green tix? what's 'tix?'" she asked. "tickets," i said. a fat man walked by and said he had one. "twenty bucks," he said. "i'm waiting for free ones," i told him. what an asshole this guy was, trying to make twenty bucks off something he got for free. fuck off.

i struck up a conversation with a man who had his family with him. "yeah, i missed out on the green tickets, too," he said. "yeah, so what the hell did we pay for?" "exactly. i should ask for my money back," he said. "yeah," meagan said, "you should get your money back." just then, an old asian woman handed us tickets. she had two of them to give away. "we only need one," we told her, and then we marched back to the gate. meagan was able to sneak our umbrellas past security for a third time.

a small victory over the fools who try to profit from things that should be free.