the friend level.


i went into andaluz, looking for something to buy my friend for her birthday. andaluz is a very girly store in columbia city which sells clothes, candles, books, jewelry, and a whole lot of knick-knacks. i flipped through some books and finally decided on one. then i stood around looking confused, so that the cashier would help me choose something. she was an attractive girl, mid to late twenties, and i assumed by her hipster fashion sense that she'd be able to help me find something nice. "can i help you find anything?" "yeah," i said. "are you shopping for someone else?" no, i'm in andaluz looking for some purple thongs and scented candles for myself. "yes. for my friend," i said, "she's turning twenty-six." "oh okay," she said, "so, you're just at the friend level," and then she moved her hand back and forth to illustrate what the "friend level" looks like. i nodded.

"well, what's she into?" she asked. "is she really girly, or is she into sports?" "no, not really. she likes art. and music." "oh, okay. so more of the artsy type." "yes," i said, "oh, and she's into environmentalism." i had no idea what i was talking about, but i was suddenly afraid this woman was going to make recommendations that i knew my friend wouldn't want. at all. she started looking through the books. "well, here's one, if she's into art. does she have any pets?" "yeah!" i said, "two dogs." "okay. here's one. it's really cool." i flipped through it. "i think she'll like this one," i said. then she handed me a pack of playing cards with 3-d dogs on them. "here's another kind of funny one, since she has dogs." she smiled as she said this, knowing fully well that nobody was buying these dog playing cards. at this point, i was cradling a stack of books and some other random things in my arms. it was an awkward position to be in. i didn't want to offend the saleslady's judgment or taste.

"it's also scarf season," she said. "here are some scarves." i looked at the scarves. i could actually see emily wearing one of those. "and there are more up front," she said. i thanked her, and when i was ready to buy, i brought the items to the register. "are you ready?" "yes," i said. she had a round face, and really short, blonde hair. it was a fro-hawk, i guess you would call it, and the very top of her hair was frosted an even lighter color. "you work at pcc, too, don't you?" i said. "yeah," she said, "good eye!" "cool," i said. "yeah. i work part-time there, and part-time here, keeps it interesting." she didn't frown or express the slightest resentment of having to work two retail jobs. i admired her for it.

"you live around here?" she asked. "yeah," i said, "in those apartments above the starbucks." "oh, off rainier." "yeah." "cool, how do you like it?" "i like the neighborhood a lot. i'd come here every now and then to eat at tutta bella's, so i kind of knew the area a little bit." "nice." "what about you? are you down here or up by seward park?" "capitol hill, actually. i drive down here for work. yeah, i love the hill. it's my favorite neighborhood, and i've lived everywhere. the u district, the central district..." "oh, the c.d. yeah, i lived there, too." "yeah, i'm over by group health now." "oh, on 15th. yeah, i was gonna live there, but the girl never called me back." she frowned. "well, thanks for helping me out," i said. "yeah," she said, "see you around."

a more suave person wouldn't have hurried out of that shop. someone with more self-confidence would've said, when do you get off, and would you fancy a drink. one cousin once told a younger cousin, "why didn't you make a move? you should've asked her number, put your arm around her. something." to which the younger cousin replied, "i don't think that's how it's done." the older cousin scoffed at this know-it-all response. "you tell me how it's done, then." "i don't know how," he said, "but i don't think that's it."
all too true.


here's a good beginning for a short story: "the day before halloween, a man at the uw set himself on fire." meagan called me to tell me this yesterday. she didn't know what to do with that, so she called me up to tell me. i didn't know what to do with that, either, so i told everyone in the office about it. "a man set himself on fire at the uw." "was that today?" "yeah." "how awful." people wanted to know, was he protesting something? some monks set themselves on fire once to protest the vietnam war, so obviously, this man should be protesting something too, yeah? maybe he was crazy. maybe he was cold. maybe there was nothing left to burn, and he had to set himself on fire.

i went costume shopping with emily the other night, and as expected, i came up empty-handed. we went to american apparel, then to red light. i could've been a tree for $40. "selections for guys are lame," i said. "and they aren't for girls?" emily said. "you can be a whore or a whore." point taken. i looked at some of the costumes available for girls, and suddenly i wished i had no morals, principles, or even just a general sense of what's good and proper. what's a little objectification? why don't we all just get down and nasty. we are liberals in a liberal town, anyway. it's what's expected of us.

i thought about being dracula, but i couldn't find the right cape. i wanted a costume that i could actually wear on more than one occassion. nothing bothers me more than owning some stupid thing that i can't use for 364 days of the year. girls still have a better deal, i think. because as slutty as the costumes are, they can still use them any other night for roleplaying in the bedroom. sure, this is probably a sexist thing to say, but let's be honest. no one's fucking dracula with his fake, plastic teeth. there's nothing sexy about frankenstein, the werewolf, or freddy and jason.

i have a slight cold, and i had to go running around doing errands this morning. see, there's this training going on at the school today, and everything, as usual, was done last minute. we forgot to make parking arrangements, so i had to find out which car belonged to the speaker, martha. she described her rav 4 in great detail, and when i asked, "what's the license plate number?" she said that it would be "easier" if she just described the car to me and told me where it was located. yes, it was "easier" for her because she obviously couldn't remember her license plate number.

some fools were doing construction work when i came in this morning. i thought it was some sort of halloween prank. but i live in the adult world now, and things like that just don't happen. some staff members decorated the staff lounge, though. there's fake cobwebs in the entrance and assorted snacks on tables with black and orange tablecloths. i've never been put off by this sort of thing. most men might be, but i'm not. life is sometimes so drab and mundane that i actually enjoy it now when people make an effort to be festive. that reminds me, i want to watch the film happy-go-lucky. i've read good things.

i feel a change coming, and no, i'm not talking about the election.
dear jenny n.


dear jenny n.,

you were full of life, always laughing, a happy-go-lucky kind of kid. you used to love to sing. what happened to that? i remember how you would sing phil collins' "a groovy kind of love" for the whole class, and you weren't embarrassed or anything. no one made fun of you for that, and your voice wasn't half-bad. after the first grade, though, i never heard you sing again. what happened there? did someone tell you to stop, that you weren't any good? what a shame. most people, myself included, can't sing well, but i think the real tragedy is when we're too ashamed to even try.

every time i try to imagine what you looked like, you were smiling. i wonder what was going on in that head of yours. you always looked like you were telling yourself the greatest joke in the world, or else you were just so damn happy to be alive. i remember in kindergarten, when our chairs weren't attached to our desks, i rocked back in my seat and rested the back of my chair against the front of your desk. one afternoon, you thought it would be funny to pull your desk away and see me fall. i fell, but i didn't get hurt. i looked up and saw you laughing. paul turned to you, and said, "what are you thinking, jenny? that's not funny." our teacher, ms. crawley, agreed, and she said, "i can't wait until next year. your seats will be glued." she said "glued" kind of funny. i found the whole thing funny, even though i was probably too embarrassed to laugh. you and your slapstick humor.

sadly, i don't remember much else about you. it's amazing how we can remember those first few years of school, and then the last, but hardly anything in between. it's all just one big, unimportant blur, isn't it, jenny? you were short, and a red and white polka-dotted ribbon held your ponytail. around sixth grade, some of the boys accused you of stuffing your bra. i didnt think that you did, but i really didn't care either way. if i had been a girl, i don't know what i would've done.

then, in the eighth grade, something terrible happened. on our autumn retreat in applegate, ricky stepped in human feces. it happened in the upstairs shower, and rumor quickly spread that you were responsible. this earned you the title of "shower shitter" behind your back. isn't that awful? all it takes is for one kid to say he might've seen you coming out of the bathroom before ricky went in, and all of a sudden you're crowned "the shower shitter."

i don't know why i should recall this, or what sense i'm trying to make of any of it. a few years ago, i searched you on myspace, just to see how you were doing. i think your profile said you went to chico state, and i saw all these pictures of you boozing it up with your friends. you looked like you were still pretty damn happy about being alive. in the pictures, you were smiling, but it was different. you no longer struck me as the kind of girl who would go around singing "a groovy kind of love" to strangers.

sometimes i find it hard to imagine we survived that place. former cellmates probably keep in touch, as do ex-pow's. okay, so catholic school wasn't as miserable as prison or war, but still. it amazes me how far away we've gotten from this ideas of support and community, the same values our teachers tried instilling in us all those years.
dear noelle.


dear noelle,

was it weird for you that there was a boy in our class named noel, too? i mean, yours was spelled differently, obviously, but i've always wondered if that screwed up your sense of gender or identity. maybe not. to be honest, i can't even remember when you showed up. fourth grade? sixth? but i do remember when we were gonna be friends. i thought we were gonna be good friends, and i never got to tell you how disappointed i was when it didn't turn out that way.

we were always paired next to each other, alphabetically because your last name started with "s" and mine with "t," and other times by height because you were as tall as i was. you got shit for being tall, i remember. granted, claire was taller than you were, but claire's family had money, and we all saw what kind of car your mom drove. she drove some beat up old thing, a stationwagon maybe, and there always looked like there were boxes or clothes filling up the backseat.

there were other clues that your family was broke, and this helped determine your "popularity status," which was present but never talked about. you wore your red, faded st. ignatius sweatshirt, and on free dress days, it was oversized white shirts with faded denim shorts. they looked like real hand-me-downs, possibly taken from your older sister. we never saw your dad, so we assumed you were one of the few kids with divorced parents.

you were good-looking, but you probably couldn't tell by the way most people treated you. you probably didn't think much of yourself, being so tall, lanky, and flat-chested. some guys would joke. "a real woofer," one would say. "a real bow-wow." i think secretly, though, you drove the boys wild. i remember seeing what ryan had written in your yearbook. it hinted at the possibility that something had gone on between you two. was there something there?

in the eighth grade, i had watched the movie welcome to the dollhouse, and i thought it was the funniest thing in the world when the boy tells dawn, the main character, "you'd better watch out because at three o'clock, i'm gonna rape you." i repeated the line to you once, assuming that you had seen the movie, too. i don't know why i assumed that, since it was a pretty obscure indie flick, but you seemed like the type of girl who would've been into such things. i mean, you did tell me once how you loved empire records. my friends hadn't seen dollhouse, so they didn't understand what i was quoting (story of my life, noelle). they just thought it was a crazy thing to say to a person, but i got off on that. i liked having other people think i was crazy. anyway, i never found out if you knew what i was alluding to. chances are, you probably didn't. it was a pretty messed up thing to say, so, sorry about that.

once, at a school dance, i saw you standing in the doorway, and you were singing along to hole's "doll parts." i must've been the only person in the room to see you doing that. i thought it was adorable, and i had the sudden urge to get up and ask you to dance. i didn't. i should have, but i didn't.

what i remember best is how we let each other cheat on vocabulary tests. we had to grade each other's assignments and tests, and we were supposed to use red pens to mark them up. but you and i were clever. we even went so far as to replace the red pens with blank ink, and then we'd just change the errors that way. i couldn't believe that you were down for something like that. i mean, jesus. a girl who cheats? who helps me cheat? we should've been bff! how did we not work out?

in my yearbook, i expected you to write down your phone number, or email, or something, but you didn't. i expected you to write something heartfelt, something along the lines of how you were gonna miss me, just as i was gonna miss you, but you didn't. you just wrote, "good luck next year. you'll have one less person to steal things off your desk." or some shit like that. you don't know how much that bummed me out. i was bummed all summer. i don't think i've ever gotten over it.

the last time i saw you, i was eighteen and working at tower records. you came in wearing a hooded black sweatshirt, and you were with two boys who most likely went to mira loma high with you. i wanted to say "hello," but something held me back. maybe this general idea that's stuck with me for so long, this idea that you're just supposed to say goodbye to certain people, things, parts of life. it's not good to cling. you can't be a clinger, therefore you can't just say "hello."

you were in and out. i didn't even get to ring up your purchase. i hope that you stole something that night, and got away with it.
dear john.


dear john,

do you go by john, now that you're an adult? when we were kids, it was b,j. b.j. was a cool name until we got to about sixth grade and all of us started getting a better sense of what oral sex was. i remember the first time someone called you "blowjob." it was probably matt or paul, but someone called you "blowjob," and then they said your last name. i thought it was the funniest thing i'd ever heard. then again, i could be making this up. but even if it was just something i imagined, something that might never have happened, your face turned red. i still remember times when your face turned red.

you were the fat kid, but you didn't get it as bad because people knew what a sensitive guy you were. daniel got it worse than you because he was kind of crazy. i'm sure he was a nice guy, but he spit when he talked, and he smelled kind of bad. granted, it's still no excuse for the way we treated him. i can't imagine what it must've been like for him. i mean, i already had a miserable time in school, as i'm sure you probably did, but imagine what it must've been like for him. you hate school, your mom is nuts, you're poor, and none of these kids even want to come near you. some fuckin' life, huh, b.j.?

i thought you were pretty well-adjusted. i mean, there was that one time you told our science teacher, "fuck you!" and you ran out the room. you made everyone really uncomfortable, but secretly, i admired you for that. you had the balls to express what all of us were thinking. i mean, come on. none of us wanted to be in that stupid room dissecting worms and frogs and discussing nuclei and chloroplasma. what kind of bullshit was that? if i could reverse time, i'd go back to that day with you, and i would've screamed "fuck you!" just as loud, if not louder, than you did. so what if it would've affected my citizenship grade, or barred me from getting into jesuit. shit, i might've been a lot happier.

i wonder what you were thinking that day. if i remember correctly, you had your head down, and our science teacher called on you. you looked up at her, and you didn't say a goddamn word. she kept badgering you, expecting you to answer, but you wouldn't give her the satisfaction. at last, you exploded, and then you ran out the room. you probably felt like a fuckin' failure then, a real screwball. no one, in the history of all my catholic schooling, has ever told the teacher to fuck off. you didn't know it then, pudgy little bastard that you were, but you showed me what it meant to be a rebel, to defy authority. and you poor bastard, no one ever congratulated you. so i'll say it now. congratulations.

you went through this weird phase in junior high where you started calling everyone "a fucking queer." it got to the point where you said it, i think, just to say it. lenny would take a sip from his purple squeeze-it, and you would just have at him. "fuckin' queer." we thought it was a riot at first, but then it got old. we started to question whether or not you yourself were a gay. "fuckin' queer this, fuckin' queer that." you were a tgif one-liner, and we didn't want to hang out with you much anymore because we had cable.

you had a little sister and you were quite protective of her. i remember how you put your arm around her and how you would walk her to class. guys gave you shit for that, too. you were a fucking pussy, a little bitch for walking your sister to class and showing affection. what a fucked up school, huh, b.j.? i thought it was a cool thing for you to do, though, showing us all that you actually cared about your family, no matter what the others said. i knew that by you doing that, there was something more to you, that you weren't just the one-liner fat kid. you had depth, man. real class, even. i wish we knew each other better.

the last time i saw you, you lost some serious weight. you were at the church, or maybe it was at mervyn's with your mom - i was with my mom - but we didn't say anything. i wonder why you didn't talk to me. maybe you were shy, just as i was shy. maybe you thought i was in some kind of asian gang, and if you looked at me the wrong way, the next morning, you'd find a headless squirrel on your doorstep. i really have no idea. but i would like to know what you thought of me. i tried not to be a jerk, but i'm sure i couldn't help it. kids are mean. we were cruel and judgmental, and we were looking for acceptance, even though we didn't want to give it.

during our last christmas party, eighth grade, i saw you dancing with alicia. i turned to one of the guys and said, "why's she dancing with him?" the guy answered, "he probably just asked her." it didn't occur to me until then that one could just ask something of another person and get what he wanted. but you, b.j., asked for a dance when you wanted one. you told the science teacher to fuck off when you had had enough of her. you ran out into the parking lot to be by yourself when you were angry at the world. you held your sister's hand when she needed a big brother to hold her hand.

you were a fuckin' queer, but a good one. i don't know why it took me twenty years to realize that.
so you rejected it, therefore.


we graduated last night. it was my st. ignatius class again, i don't know why it's always those assholes. they'll haunt me forever. at least i wasn't stuck in class again. i've been in more mature situations lately, and once, i was even their teacher. some of the girls were crying, but i knew it was just another dumb dream i'd wake from. lucid dreaming, i think it's called. there was a sac bee reporter in the crowd, though, and i approached her. she told me she knew all about my blog, and was looking to hire me as a regular contributor to the paper. "your mom sent me an outline," she said. "oh yeah?" "yeah, i read all about your composting and walking around neighborhoods. we're really excited to have a segment dedicated to highlighting the ordinary things ordinary people do." i was stoked. but then i woke up.

i met with dr. s on saturday morning, and she had her dog in the backseat. the dog stank. dr. s had braided/dreadlocked her hair, and she wore these purple sunglasses. she told me that she was really "touched" by the email i wrote her, the one where i said i was afraid to contact her, since she had written me such a glorifying reccomendation for that teaching gig, and i quit after a week. she told me i should never hesitate to contact her, and that people "do stuff like that all the time." she then went on to say that people are meant to do what they love. she said that some cashiers are happy being cashiers and janitors are happy being janitors. "scripture says the same thing," she said. "romans 12."

it didn't sit with me well. still, we continued walking. by the time we reached the park, we realized there was a "pumpkin push," which was essentially a costumed marathon. "we probably should've planned this out better," she said. no problem. we just kept walking while her dog sniffed stuff and peed on things. when the runners finally caught up with us, we moved over to the dirt path so they could have room to run. i wanted to say, "we're always in the margins, huh, dr. s?" but i didn't. i didn't feel comfortable enough yet that she would get my bizarre sense of humor.

she started telling me about dr. w, even though i didn't care about dr. w, since i had never taken any of her classes. dr. w had twins, and named them byron and william. one was born naturally, the other by c-section. dr. w for some reason or other couldn't have any anaesthesia, so she felt the cut. "she said she now knows what martyrdom feels like," dr. s said. "jesus," i said. some runners passed, and dr. s walked ahead of me. i asked about another professor i had. "do you see much of him?" i asked. she said no, and seemed put off by my asking. "let me finish telling you about dr. w," she said. it occurred to me that dr. s is a very focused woman, and that's probably how she got to where she is today, a tenured professor at a premier catholic school in the northwest.

we stopped by the water so her dog could get a drink. she started telling me about some retreat/spa she went to in taos. she told me about how the workshop director wanted them to "write naked," but that writing naked didn't mean taking their clothes off. the director wanted them to write without any social constructs, whatever that meant. dr. s said, "but i told the writer i'm an academic writer. i stick to the mla format, and i have to do my research first. i can't write naked." as the story unfolds, it turns out dr. s was able to write naked. she told me about her essay on jane eyre, and something about how it occurred to her that bronte wrote in epistlary form. every chapter begins with "dear reader."

dr. s then told me about how this gave her an epiphany, that bronte was writing about herself, so that she could transform herself into the new woman she hoped to become. "just as gloria watkins had to write about her tumultous past in order to become bell hooks." apparently, foucault had also written something else. i felt uncomfortable. i had to nod along like i understood, or that i was interested. suddenly, i had my own epiphany. i was stuck in class again. i thought things would be different this time around, but i was still intimidated by her namedropping writers i haven't yet read, and styles of writing i still haven't fully understood. i have to admit, as a college graduate with a degree in english, i still don't know mla format.

on sunday morning, i attended ross' brunch/talent show at his co-op. i made broccoli and tofu stir-fry. some of the talent show acts were really good. one girl sang a piece of an opera, and another girl sang a funny song on the guitar. others were just bizarre and unnecessary. one old man made us chant, "how i love you, how i love you," while another dressed up as dr. seuss' thing #1 and did an impromptu dance to some 80's song. i liked the idea, though, this thought that we were building community. it's just too bad i'll probably never see these people again.

maybe i'll start writing letters to my old classmates. let them know how i've turned out, if they're at all interested.
we've gone division one.


walking over to the connolly center, i had to think about what i was doing, and why i was doing it. i was on my way to see my old roommate from college, whom i hadn't spoken to in over five years. maybe i had been feeling guilty, since he wrote me a birthday greeting via facebook in january 2006, and i had never responded to it. maybe i was genuinely in a good mood after work yesterday, and i thought seeing an old friend might sustain that good feeling into the night. or maybe it was something else entirely. maybe it had to do with seeing johnathan and setting up plans to see an old professor. it was like something out of a charlie kaufman movie script, where i was setting up all circumstances to relive my early years at seattle u, so that i could once again convince myself that i mattered, and that the world was an okay place to be in.

alright, that's probably going a bit too far. i walked into the connolly center and asked for him. this blonde girl swiped my staff card. "do you have an appointment?" do i have an appointment? this is just fucking anthony we're talking about here. she said that i could go back and see for myself if he was in his office. i walked around the corner and then another corner and saw his name on the door. the door was wide open, but inside was an older, slightly balding guy with dark hair. i knocked. "umm, is anthony here?" he turned around. "hey! nice to see you, man!" i was stunned at how much older he looked. his face was the same, but he was somehow hairier and balder.

his office was just as messy as he kept our dorm room. there were boxes full of equipment stacked one on top of the other, and papers lay scattered about all over his desk. "have a seat," he said, and i sat down on a red chair with wheels. he had a gatorade and water bottle on his desk, and his windowless office smelled like a gym locker. "i was out playing with the boys today," he said, and as our conversation continued, he repeatedly referred to the soccer team as "the boys." i asked him about how our school going division 1 affected him. he said it didn't really, except that they are getting more money. he added that the soccer team has always been good, so moving up a division didn't matter all that much. "what about basketball?" i asked. "oh yeah, it matters for basketball," he said. "do we have a good team this year?" i asked. "we'll see," he said.

during our conversation i felt extremely guilty that i hadn't attended a single soccer game of his, or even knew anything about the sport. soccer was his life, but i neglected it and viewed it as a waste of one's time, just as he probably saw creative writing as a totally useless endeavor. he asked me what i had been upto since graduation. as usual, i underplayed what i had done. he told me that he had worked in a bank and was on the verge of a big promotion when the soccer coach offered him a job. he took "a huge paycut" (second time he's told me this) so that he could do what he loves. i slightly resented that he didn't turn out to be the money hungry personal banker i always envisioned he would become.

i told him about the troubled youth i worked with. "they sound like my kids," he said. i told him i didn't want to be stressed out all the time and having to bring my work home with me. "that sounds like my job," he said. the thing was, anthony coached a soccer club from burien that had at-risk youth with drug problems, anger management problems, etc. "one of my players even has a kid," he said. "can you imagine? i have parents coming up to me asking me about parenting advice." he looked miserable as he said it, but he could still look me in the eye and tell me that he loved his job. he worked three jobs, actually, and in addition to that, he was taking classes to get his masters in educational sports leadership or something like that.

we got to talking about old classmates from seattle u and from high school. "did you hear michael is getting married?" "he already did," i said. i told him that he could google michael's name, and an online article from the new york times would appear. it was a high-profile wedding, as our former classmate is currently some big shot lawyer in new york, who married a schoolteacher he met while attending georgetown. "he deserves it," anthony said. "he was such a good guy." we're good guys, too, i wanted to say, so where's our goddamn recognition?

anthony continued to talk about his brother, who recently took the mcats, and was now applying to med schools. he also told me about a former teammate on his soccer team who is now making "$2 - 3,000,000 a year." he qualified all of these success stories by saying that these guys "worked [their] butts off" and "deserved everything [they] got." i had a hard time imaginging what these guys were doing differently, though, that they "deserved" such things. while i've never seen anthony work his butt off on the soccer field, i do have plenty of stories about how he and i would watch episodes of seinfeld all day on his computer, and how he would later type all his assignments last minute, late into the night.

did these guys just hit the books harder, party less? did their brains function at a higher level than the rest of us? i told meagan that i thought it was warped that anthony believed hard work can lead to financial success, but she agreed with him. "i could do it," she said, "if it's something i really wanted. and you could, too." i guess they were both right. if i wanted, i could take out $80,000 in loans to attend law school, work my butt off for three years, and then interview for big firms like i was a white, yuppified asian american. and all this time, despite what the papers have to say, i could convince myself that i have job security, that the economy is still strong, that i would be able to tolerate waking up everyday in a suit, and maintain good standing with the other suits who were born and bred long before i was to swim michael phelps-style, right up the corporate stream.

but i digress. "you talk to stephanie at all?" it was a stupid question, i knew even then. stephanie was this disney channel blonde who anthony had spent most of college pining for. one day i bluntly asked her how she felt about him. "nothing is ever going to happen between us. ever." i told her that she should probably let him know that, but i'm not sure if she ever did. "we don't talk anymore," he said. "it ended badly." i could sense that he was hurt, and i didn't press him on it any further. "what about mikel? rob?" according to anthony, our neighbor mikel has been traveling all around the world, probably working as an international gigalo. neither of us knew what became of rob.

"i'm not having terribly good luck with the ladies," he said, seemingly out of nowhere. i always found it amusing that he chose to confide in me all his lady woes. i could only assume it was because he was inundated with so much machismo on a daily basis, stories about how so-and-so "scored another goal," and by "scored another goal" i mean firing his balls into that loose, open net. meagan suggested it was because the both of us had no idea how to ineract with women, as a direct result of our brainwashing at jesuit, our catholic all-boys high school. anthony probably assumes i just "know how it is." fact is, i do.

i kept asking if he needed to get back to work, or if i should go, but he told me no, and acted as though he had all the time in the world for me. but eventually, it was time to go. he suited up, black nike sweatpants and a black seattle u track jacket. he put on a black seattle u baseball cap. he looked like he was going to rob a bank, but in reality, he was going to coach a game at 7 that night. "you going this way?" i said, pointing to the gym. "yeah, yeah. my car's over there." "oh, alright." he told me that i should email him if i want to hang out again. "sure," i said. "is it still sardon-a?" i was referring to his email address.

"still sardon-a," he said, then he stretched his arms out. "it's just like i never left."
twenty-seven thousand before taxes.


the sun always seems to come out as soon i step into the office. the decent weather is out there, just mocking us. i've been editing this document that goes on the american bar association's website, and i'm craving something else. i'd like to be watching episodes of the office on somebody's couch, or else having a water balloon fight on a hot summer day. fall is great, though. this city never looked better in the fall. it's all colored leaves and puddles, the way things should be in october.

last time around this year, i'd do nothing all day and then i'd walk over to my cousin's house. chances were, despite it being the late afternoon, he'd still be asleep, so i would watch tv on his big screen, some movie he'd just downloaded or else netflixed. after he had woken up and showered, he would watch whatever i was watching, too, and then we'd play music until we got tired of that. then we'd sit around and say, "well, what next?" and since he'd just purchased a new barbecue grill, he'd suggest we barbecue, even though we had just done that two nights ago, or else a week ago. "that sounds cool," i'd say, and we'd invite some other cousins over. if they couldn't make it, then we barbecued anyway, and then we watched the red sox win.

he was really into eating sunflower seeds, like we were at a real baseball game. he'd spit them into a red plastic cup. sometimes the oysters would give me a stomach ache, and i would be in the bathroom for a little while. i have a weak stomach. but the oysters are really good, especially when you dip them in vinegar with chopped onions. my uncles introduced us to this great appetizer when we were kids, and we were simply carrying on the tradition. one uncle even told me that i should come along with him to the bay sometime, where he buys the oysters fresh. it never happened.

because i was looking for a good laugh, i watched freedom writers last night. the joke was on me, though, as it turned out to be a true story. i'm glad that there are teachers out there changing lives and helping people. it's just too bad that at the end of the line, if they're lucky, there's a 9 to 5 waiting for them.
jesus, where do i start?


my heart was pounding, as it usually does whenever it gets ready to speak. i had rsvp'd for a free lunch in the student center, and they were showing a video about st. ignatius of loyola, which would be followed by a discussion. i signed up for the free lunch, but i was also interested in ignatius. you see, i took this ignatius spirit and practice class at seattle u, and it had a great impact on me. maybe it was the fact that the class was deliriously early in the morning (started at 8:00 a.m.), or the fact that conversations were so boring, that i just had to speak up and say what i've been meaning to say for the past nineteen years of my life. i could do no wrong in that class. once, i even wrote about something completely off, and my professor, a jesuit, still gave me an "a" because he said it was meaningful and well-written, and he said that i should "seriously consider becoming a jesuit."

i think i would become a jesuit, if the order allowed sex with women and/or light-sabers. i think about ignatius a lot, and this idea of how self-reflection leads to action. the table discussion was off to a weak start. people talked about how their work fits in with the jesuit mission and blah blah blah. i realize now that i'm the kind of person who just wants to cut through all the crap. i just went into it. "i've gone to jesuit schools my whole life, and i really value these ideas of being self-reflective and service-oriented." i didn't know where i was going with this, but i continued anyway. "it's interesting to see this video on ignatius now that i'm out of college. i just think that now there's so many problems in the world, that it's difficult for people my age, and of my generation, to even know where to begin. i mean, there's global injustice, global warming..." at this point, i started to see the looks on people's face change. this is supposed to be a light lunch and discussion, buddy. what are you trying to pull here?

i didn't say all that i needed to say, and that's always been part of the problem. i hold back a lot of it, for fear of making people uncomfortable, or fear of coming across as a downer. i told them how i am constantly struggling between reality and idealism, and how i want to work for the poor, but i also recognize the need for financial stability. i wanted to tell them how i felt like this school is good, but at the same time, it's bullshit. how do we work for the poor while paying off loans and feeling financially imprisoned? i didn't get any real answers, but for some reason, i was still expecting them. the woman next to me said something like, "you're what? late twenties?" i said, "twenty-five." "well, mid-twenties." and then she went on to say some nonsense about nothing.

i don't know how she was able to smile through her presentation. i don't know how she can walk around campus and say that these students are doing good. sure, they're doing good. they're bettering themselves, after all. but for the most part, i believe they're just here because it's the road that all americans are supposed to take, the road that will hopefully lead to a comfortable life with air conditioning and kids running through sprinklers on a well-trimmed lawn. as i exited the student center, two blondes were chatting behind me. "so, what movie were we talking about?" "american gangster." "oh yeah. i was saying how i wanted denzel in that."

if ignatius, jesus, or socrates were alive today, he'd be ignored by the media, and he wouldn't have a clue about where to begin.
compromising his artistic integrity.


i saw my first label on the bus yesterday. i sat down next to some asian chick, and there it was, pasted at her eye-level: "all college gave me was a whole lot of debt." when she got off at 5th and jackson, i slid over to take her seat. i looked at the label and saw that the edges were a little rough, as though someone made a halfhearted attempt at peeling it off. but it was there. it lasted. i smiled to myself and had to think of other things to keep from laughing. i just thought it was such a ridiculous thing for someone to post on the back of a bus seat. and then other people read it, and what were they thinking? i found it all hilarious.

on the can this morning, i was thinking about new year's and the new year's before that. the only sentence i could form when thinking about it was, "that makes sense." it makes sense to have confetti and a big tv showing dave clark's countdown in new york. and my uncles getting plastered. when we were young, they'd thrown coins, sometimes bills, and all us kids would scoop it up like little competitive, money-hungry vultures. i don't know why they did that, but it made sense at the time. it still makes sense now.

i'm not sure what made me think of new year's. maybe it was having a conversation recently with friends, and how they admitted they'd never had a fun new year's. pretty much everyone i've ever met in my entire life has told me much of the same: "i've never had a good new year's." maybe it's because hollywood always makes new year's look like some coke-driven sex-fest where there's always someone to kiss at midnight. but high school is nothing like an episode of saved by the bell. there was never any max for us to hang out in after school, and there won't be lines of coke, lines of g-strings, waiting for us when the ball drops in 2009.

the other night some out-of-towner was gabbing away on her cell phone. the 174 at night is a very ominous looking bus. it's pretty dim, and there's only a blue light at the front of the bus. i don't know why they keep it so dim, but it always looks like some shit's about to go down. most riders, i think, are people heading into the city from the airport. i think this because they're always carrying those rolling suitcases, the kind fhat became a fad for college students. anyway, this chick is talking at a normal volume, and just about everyone on the bus can hear her. from what i heard and remember, she was on vacation, and her friend is dating a "redneck." i exchanged glances a few times with some other passengers, and our looks said it all: "can you fucking believe this woman?"

honestly, though, i kind of admire people like her. people without any common decency, people who can just say whatever the hell they want at a normal speaking level. i watched the life and death of peter sellers last night. there's a scene where he's at the pink panther strikes again premiere party, and he calls the director talentless. "people ask me again and again," peter says, "why i compromise my artistic integrity by doing films such as this? i tell them the same thing every time: 'money.'" he then goes on to tell the audience to enjoy themselves, "if that's at all possible." what a man. a wreck of a man, and never considered a man by his first two wives (of four), but still. what a speech.

so, this card goes around the office every time some big life event happens (i.e. having a kid, getting married, getting sick, etc.). there was even a card for boss' day last friday. i had no idea boss' day even existed. how about underpaid and unappreciated everyday workers' day? i guess that's everyday, so there's no cause for celebration. anyway, this card goes around, and i never know what to say, as i don't even know any of these people yet. i just look at what the last person wrote and write much of the same. that's probably what all those sixth grade summary assignments were for. what do you say to someone who's just had a child, and was readmitted to the hospital? get well, get well soon, we want you to get well.

stupid hallmark, instilling, and then profiting from, the individual's sense of social obligation.
why don't you act black?


when i was nineteen, i thought i'd branch out a bit and eat dinner with other people. there was this group in bellarmine i'd usually eat with, and i think they felt kind of slighted that i chose to associate with other people. i didn't quite understand this, since we were attending a catholic university. people were supposed to be inclusive here, right? for such a small school, i was surprised how cliques still formed, and i still didn't know most people i saw everyday in classes and in the dorms. so, i started eating dinner every now and then with this kid, johnathan.

he was pretty mellow and low-key, so we got along fine. it wasn't until about sophomore year that i heard from some girls that he was a strange, strange man. he would make random bird noises and he allegedly humped my friend's body pillow. he was the kind of guy who hung out in random girls' rooms, and he didn't know when to leave. i can't say i could blame the guy. whenever it came down to hanging out in some girl's bedroom, i found myself reluctant to trek back to my own dorm, which was dominated by my roommate tony meatballs' nasty heap of grass and sweat-stained jockstraps, socks, and soccer uniforms. but i could always take a hint, and i always knew when it was time to go.

johnathan's behavior got progressively erratic by the time sophomore year was in full swing. he told me that his parents had divorced, and that things were getting all fucked up for him. he had depression and had to take medication. this then led to a series of dizzy spells, breakdowns, and panic attacks. once, outside of my french class, i witnessed him pass out. he'd sometimes walk past me and not say anything. he became heavily medicated and had to drop some classes.

i finally saw johnathan again yesterday on the bus. i couldn't tell if it was him or not, as he had put on some weight and grown some facial hair. i wondered if he would've walked right past me, had i not waved. i'm sure that i could've gotten away with just looking out the window, but knowing what he's been through, it'd be a pretty fucked up thing for me to do. he sat down next to me, and we got to talking. he told me that he was living with his mom in south seattle, and he was still trying to finish school. he switched from being a computer science major to environmental studies with a math minor. i wanted to ask, "what are you going to do with that?" but no sensible person ever would.

he should've graduated with my class, three years ago, but here was now, still in school, "taking it slow." he said that he could only take one or two classes a quarter, but if he took more, he might have a panic attack or something. i asked him where he went to high school. he pointed forward and said, "right there." "what's that?" "franklin," he said. "how'd you like it there?" "academically, it was alright. socially..." and then he made a big thumbs-down, "it went down the tubes." i laughed, since we were in the middle of our own socially awkward conversation. "why's that?" i said. "oh, you know," he said, "people there just expected you to act a certain way." "what do you mean by that?" i asked. "it means exactly what you think it means," he said. "i had one person actually come up to me and say, 'why aren't you acting black?'" johnathan shook his head and made that sound jon stewart makes whenever president bush says something really ass-backwards.

"you still keep in touch with anyone?" he asked me. i mentioned some girls' names, and even from across town, i could hear their collective groans. he nodded, as though he remembered them well. i didn't know what else to say to him. i wanted to ask if he was taking it slow, why continue his education at seattle u? why not go to a state school, where it'd be cheaper? i can't imagine how much debt he's getting himself into. what a dilemma. as i got up to leave the bus, he asked me if i had a facebook. "yeah," i said. "your last name?" he asked. i told him it, and i even spelled it out. i was surprised he even knew my first.

but there it was this morning: you have 1 pending friend request.
a reactionary in the crowd.


i attended this event at the law school just now, as it's part of my job to put them on. the issue being addressed focused on immigration policies and detention centers. the speaker was getting really emotional and didn't come across as professional at all. she was more like the old liberal woman who lives next door with her cats and listens to npr on the way to work. but her intentions were good, and she's actually doing good, humanitarian work, so you can't really knock her for it. still, she waved her hands around and said things like, "their stories just break your heart." and i'm sure they do. she and a younger guy played part of a film which depicted some individuals who were locked up in detention centers for minor dismeanors they pled guilty to years ago.

after the film, this white guy with a ring on his left pointer finger raised his hand. he quoted some section of the law to ensure that everyone in the room recognized what a smart and thoughtful person he was. "actually, what you said wasn't entirely true," he said. "this doesn't just apply to low-wage workers. there are carpenters who could get that kind of work." the speaker interrupted, "no, that isn't true. well, if he had a bachelor's degree..." "yes, yes they can," the boy shot back rather arrogantly. he then went on to talk about our need for border security and how, five years ago, a terrorist came down from canada, ready to blow up the space needle on new year's eve.

there was tension in the air and it was obvious that this guy was a self-righteous reactionary. i understand the need for various viewpoints and intellectual discussion, but what i fail to understand is abrasive personalities. this guy could've easily said something along the lines of, "while i understand flaws in our current national policies regarding immigration, i still think that our nation needs to focus on enforcing border security, so as to prevent future terrorist attacks, and could you please speak on that?" but nobody has manners anymore.

no, we've been playing call of duty 4 on xbox live for too long, and we've forgotten how to converse with our fellow man. we hear voices on the other line of a man singing some creepy-as-fuck song he's made up. it goes something like this: "we're going to have fun, fun. we're gonna have some fun, fun!"
the heroes dan and joe, whose names
i probably didn't get right.


even after saturday's u-haul debacle, i still felt this sense of dread hanging over me. i don't know what it was, but i only seem to get it in seattle. maybe it has something to do with my high school flim teacher telling us that every time it rained in a movie, something bad was going to happen. and since, according to a friend, i might just be "living art all the time," i sense this. i sensed it last during my year spent in the central district, but there it was actually warranted, what with the junkies shooting up in our yard, the homeless man sleeping on our porch, and the murders at judkins park and in front of my bank. sadly, returning to work on a monday morning in the ivory tower is the only thing capable of warding off this sense of doom, jumpstarting me back into reality.

i got a haircut on saturday, and i finally understood emily's endless complaints against the gary manuel training salon. first off, yes. i do go to something called a salon because i don't trust john the barber in columbia city whose shop looks like a scene straight out of saw 3. there are other places. there's a place on broadway, and they charge $30. there's rudy's, and i think they charge $20. and there's helmet head in georgetown which charges a whopping $45. i went to gmts because they used to only charge $14, and even though the place was full of young, pretentious hipster bitches, they actually did a decent job most of the time.

since then, they've jacked their prices up to $20 for a cut, and they no longer accept walk-ins. i had to schedule an appointment two weeks in advance. when i get there at 2:40 p.m., ten minutes late because of slow ass busses, the receptionist informs me that they screwed up and put me down for 8:30 a.m. that same morning, but that they can still "accomodate" me. and accomodate me they did, by setting me up with paris, this blonde chick who could easily have been mistaken for ms. hilton herself. it turned out she was from coeur d'alene, liked metal, and raised horses. the kind of stuff bad fiction is made of.

paris had never cut men's hair before, even though she had been there since january, and she didn't know how to use clippers, so her supervisor had to come over four times to show her how to do it. my haircut took an hour and a half. "thanks for being such a good sport," she said. she patted me on the back, the way another blonde i knew, rachel, would, and thanked me for coming in. yes, paris. thank you for sort of cutting my hair.

the u-haul place on rainier was a disaster. there were three lanes and one guy working behind the counter. "why is he helping everyone else and not you?" meagan asked me. because we're no longer living in a society, i guess. meagan was panicking because we told her professor we'd pick up the couch at 5, and it was already ten past. we couldn't call her, either, because meagan had written her own phone number down, instead of her professor's. i got emily on the phone to look up the number in my gmail account. meagan called her and said we would be late.

renting a u-haul is a pain in the ass. u-haul's a powerful entity that can fuck someone over with the littlest thing. first of all, they always (at least in my experience) leave their tanks at half-full. i never questioned this before, but when i finally thought about it, it made perfect sense. they will never leave their stupid trucks at a full tank because then you can't just use up the gas you need. see, they're smart capitalist pricks who try to suck every cent out of you. basically, there's no way for a customer to fill a truck up to half-full. a paying customer is either going to go under or over the mark, and since customers don't want to go under (as this results in a $30 fine, and a minimum charge of $5.95, plus every gallon thereafter), they're obviously going to go over. so, you'll pay for gas you're not going to use.

then, you have the option of getting $14 insurance. if you waive that, you're responsible for any windshield cracks, tire damage, dents, etc. if someone looks at your truck the wrong way, i wouldn't be surprised if they charged you. they make you look over the truck and note any damages on it. if you fail to note any damages, and don't mark the dents or scratches with a stickered x, you're held responsible. according to the clerk, there are fifty pages for the u-haul application. what a horrible business. it's no wonder there was one guy behind the counter, and a big red "help wanted" sign on the window.

then, once we got the couch, the latch got stuck because i opened the rear door of the truck without locking the latch first. we fumbled with it for about twenty minutes, when finally, some guy named dan (i think that was his name) showed up, and fixed it for us. then there was the trouble of getting the giant couch with the hideaway bed up the stairs. i was ready to give up on it when joe (i think that was his name) showed up and gave us a hand. he was muscular and said he did this for a living. but even he was struggling with it. then there was the trouble of getting it through the door. he and my neighbor were able to tilt it through the doorway vertically. the saddest thing was, by the time it was inside, i didn't even want it anymore.

back in the u-haul truck, i backed up and hit some guy's car. luckily, there was no damage and the guy wasn't too pissed off. then i hit something at the gas station. i think it was just the squeegee. again, luckily, there was no damage. but you can imagine how, at that point, i decided i was never going to get a u-haul again.

"he wanted me to know how you liked being back in the city."
"yeah? what'd you say?"
"i didn't know what to tell him. i said that you liked it okay, since you get paid for what you were doing when you were unemployed. and he said, 'what do you mean?' i told him that well, you like to blog, and you get to do that. he said, 'what's his blog about?' i told him it was hard to pin down any one thing you wrote about. i said it's called talking about hard times, and he said that it sounded like a lot of complaining; it sounded like something someone does in high school.' i told him no, that he writes about stuff going on in the world, stuff that matters to a lot of people."

i wanted to tell her she didn't have to waste her time and energy defending me. that yeah, it's not as important was going to med school, or law school, and that i'm really not doing anything of considerable value. it's probably juvenile, and there are probably high school students blogging about the same things, but with a better vocabulary. what does it matter, though? someone's reading, even if it's just my aunt and my cousin. i couldn't be a rockstar or a poet, and i just wanted someone to listen.

that's more than i can ask for.
i don't check the weather.


surprisingly, i feel much better now that i blogged twenty minutes ago about my foul mood. maybe it also helped that i ate a banana, an orange, and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. last night, i got some movies from the library. i was in the mood for something light, and something really stupid. i ended up watching confessions of a teenage drama queen, hence the picture in the previous entry. it wasn't that stupid, though, and therefore it wasn't that funny. i think i just wanted to see lindsay lohan before her life became a total wreck. even though we didn't realize it then, 2004 was a good year, i think, for many of us.

today is friday, and i've got nothing to do. maybe i'll see how many blog posts i can put up before the day is over. even though i'm covering for someone else, i have little to do. the w.s.g. just asked me if i've noticed that weather.com doesn't accurately predict seattle weather. i said that i don't check the weather. i used to, but not anymore. if it rains, it rains. what can you do? "i need to know what the weather is like," she said. i told her to carry around a sweatshirt and umbrella everyday, and she'll be fine.

the w.s.g. and i started talking about americorps again. i think she likes hearing about what a waste of a program it is, but it also gives her the chance to bitch about the program she did, too, which was o ambassadors. she said that there's this quote from george carlin that goes, "scratch any cynic and you'll find a disappointed idealist." she asked me, too, about the girl i'm covering for. "she got married," i said. "how old are you?" she asked (for the second time). "twenty-five." "do you know a lot of people your age getting married?" "classmates from high school and elementary school," i said.

she said that she didn't have any immediate friends who are, or who have, gotten married yet. "just in my peripheral vision," she said, "but i see that it's coming closer and closer to my social group." i nodded. she continued. "i just seem to get to know the same kind of people i got to know growing up, and they aren't the type to get married young." i nodded again. "but my sister got married at twenty-four." i couldn't nod again, so i asked, "how old is she now?" "twenty-eight," she said. good for her, i wanted to say. there's dignity in popping out kids and dedicating your life to watching soaps. changing cat litter and throwing dryer sheets in the dryer. only fools pretend there's more to it than that.

it's funny how most people in their mid-twenties don't seem satisfied, no matter what we're doing. it probably has everything to do with the fact that college is over, so now what? our parents, and even the state, made it mandatory for us to go to school everyday. but as meagan's dad once bluntly put it: "you can't go to school forever." what fools the older generations are, valuing education and then valuing money. the two are mutually exclusive.

it's a good awakening, though. a rude one, but a good one.
standing in the back, looking around.


yeah, i'm twenty-five now, and i still take to heart what a washed up band like jimmy eat world has to say. i listened to bleed american on the bus this morning, and i was thinking about how that record meant something to me at one point. especially the song, "a praise chorus," since i'm the kind of person who's always standing in the back, looking around, and spending all my time wondering how i've grown up and how i missed out. what an awful feeling. by the time the track "hear you me" came on, i was on the verge of just breaking down in front of all the passengers in the back. i just remembered how i once was an open, sensitive, and hopeful person. and now, there's just nothing to me, nothing at all.

this morning, i received a slight reprimand for not immediately informing one of my supervisors that her appointment was here. it set me in a really foul mood. i didn't tell her because she was still in a meeting, and i thought that her meeting was important. and i don't know why she was annoyed, either, since she still took her sweet time coming out to get the student. i feel highly unstable, though. i feel that just something small like that can set me off, make me quit on the spot, break my lease, and just dump the few things i own. dramatic? yeah. honest? yeah. there are a lot of things i repress, though, and i'm afraid to see how they will choose to manifest themselves one day. so far, they are harmless paragraphs.

now i'm doing something real stupid. i'm trying to propose a new time for some pointless meeting because one person (out of thirty) can't make it. but she's really adamant about being there. as if this meeting is going to matter in the grand scheme of things. sometimes i wish i had the guts to just keep living at home, and not have to feel bad about it. living in the city hasn't changed anything. i still spend most friday nights alone watching the daily show and eating garden burgers. i still have no desire to go to the bar and order a red hook or else a hefeweizen. i'd rather play music myself than pay to see someone else do it better. i'm not meeting girls or making friends, and i don't even feel the need to try and do such things anymore.

this is nothing more than punishment for indecision, for giving a damn.
you need to buy a house.


i went and saw ross last night, as he just moved into a co-op right down the street from me. it's a half mile walk, and it's not so bad, except that the road leading to his house has no sidewalk. it's just a gravel road, and the houses are the kind of rich people houses where you have to walk up cement steps to get to. it was dark and rainy, and i thought i might get hit by a car. always an adventure. ross again had no idea what we should do for dinner, so i brought over some tortillas and sour cream. we fried eggs, squash, red peppers and fake chorizo, and made some sort of burritos out of them. "i don't know if this will be any good," i said to him. "i don't know what it's going to taste like." "it'll taste like food," he said.

he asked me how i liked living in columbia city. "i like it," i said. "it's more real than capitol hill. but not as real as living in the central district." while preparing food, i told him that i'd like it if i had a house. the house he was staying in was especially nice, but he had no reason to gloat over his new dwellings, as he was still just renting. "yeah, i think about that everyday, actually." "i just think it's stupid that i've always been giving my money to some stranger, some guy i don't even know." he agreed, saying the whole concept of renting is completely "parasitic." "i can't imagine ever owning a house in seattle, though," i said. he agreed. to own a house with the kind of money we make, people like us would have to move to some shit town in kansas or else nebraska.

"you guys don't own a tv?" i asked. i couldn't tell if i was being judgmental. it felt almost like an underhanded remark: "of course you don't. you live in a hippie commune." but then again, i don't own a tv, either, so i didn't know why i asked. i think i just wanted to watch the remainder of the debates. "no," he said, "we don't. but i kind of want one." i said i wanted one, too. "as much as i think it's a time waster, and that it sucks you in, i still think it's an important part of national culture. there are things i want to see, like the debates and the daily show." we sat there a while listening to the talking heads.

he showed me his room, which was a mess, but not too bad. on his dresser, there was a wooden head with antlers growing on the sides. "where'd you get that?" i asked. "i made it," he said. i picked up the head and inspected it. it was heavy wood, and he had hollowed out the inside and stuck some rope in there. the back of the head had a small latch door you could open. it must've taken him a long time to do. "what other weird shit do you have?" i asked. he laughed, then showed me his lamp that was some old metallic tool. it was some sort of green scale, and when he moved the scale to the right, the light turned on. "wow, that's really cool," i said. "isn't it?" he said.

he then showed me three wooden boxes with dead bugs pinned down in them. "what the hell kind of a bug is that?" i asked. he explained that he had found a kid's science project in the dumpster, and then cut the bugs apart. he then reattached various bugs' body parts onto one another using superglue, and created these new mutant-like bugs. "i think that's like a beetle grasshopper with a bumblebee head." i thought it was cool, but also sort of gross. i would've thrown that shit out long ago.

he showed me the basement, and it was just your average dark basement used as a storage area. i don't get people who have basements and don't utilize them as awesome hangout spaces. in fact, i don't get the whole concept of storage. if you're not using something or enjoying its value, why even hold on to it? yeah, i can say things like that now that i no longer have a massive cd collection. in the basement, i asked ross if he had seen the orphanage. "no," he said, "what made you think of that?" "walking down the stairs, i guess. it's a good movie."

i've always wanted a house with a basement. my uncle used to give my cousin rich one piece of advice over and over again, and that was this: "you know what you need to do? you need to buy a house." we laughed at his absurd advice, as though buying and owning a house were such an easy task. our uncle owned a house himself once, but now he lives in an apartment. around this time last year, though, rich was seriously considering buying a house. he was going to buy one with some friends, until he found out they had terrible credit. he then tried to recruit me to go in on one with him. "think about it, man. you'll have home ownership experience." it was my turn to laugh, as i was unemployed and had no desire to do anything that involved me sticking around sacramento indefinitely.

this older woman came in just now and asked to use the interview room for her study group. "sure," i said, though i wanted to say, "do whatever the hell you want," or else "go ahead, i don't give a shit." "you're so good," she said, then she smiled at me. "do you like your job?" she asked. i smiled back. and because i've been spending my time blogging, printing strange messages on labels, and resting my feet on top of the cpu unit, i could answer honestly: "yes," i said. "yes, i do."
the best and worst of humanity
a.k.a. good-intentioned girls and
route 7 debacle: episode 1.



last night we had this event at the school for students to meet with members of the legal aid community. i had to stay an extra two and a half hours after work to do meet-and-greet, but there was free food, so it wasn't so bad. the same group of students showed up last night, and they were all women. let's face it: women are the only ones who really care about social justice. anyway, i've seen this group of girls at just about every event we've put on, and i have to say they are inspiring in that they stick around after hours just to hear some old geezers talk about how they put in 80 hour weeks toward a losing battle all in the name of social justice.

they remind me of the kind of girls who all get dressed up and go out together on valentine's day to make a point. i suppose the latter's point is to say, we don't need dates to have a good time. and these girls are making the point that, even if you're losing, even if you're setting yourself up for a lifetime of defeat and having to perpetually deal with bullshit bureaucracy and endless debt, it doesn't matter so long as you have a small group of people willing to do the same. i think it's cool.

but of course i can't end on that note. last night, on the number 7, we stopped somewhere along jackson for quite some time. i couldn't tell what was happening, but when this black teenager came charging towards the back of the bus while spewing profanities, i knew something was up. "just get the fuck up and move!" suddenly, i saw the bus driver taking the wires off the bus. i took off my headphones and asked this punk rock guy with his studded black leather jacket and ripped black pants what was going on. he slowly shook his head and said, "i don't know."

his stoner-like demeanor and his inability to respond irritated me. i was sandwiched between two stereotypes: johnny punk rock asshole and hip hop fuckup. hip hop fuckup wouldn't let up. "dumb fucking bitch! ahh, she takin' the rails off now! what the fuck she doin' that for?" the kid was obviously on crack, or else had drank two pepsis because he was really wired up and had to let everyone on the bus know exactly how he felt. during this brouhaha, and hip hop fuckup's semi-abillity to communicate in the english language, i was able to gather that the bus driver had become obviously agitated, and she refused to drive the bus, since passengers at the front of the bus were unwilling to move for a wheelchair-bound passenger.

"it's mandatory! it's against the law! people need to get up for somebody in a wheelchair! bet i would have to move to the back of the fucking bus 'cause i'm black!" hip hop fuckup was having a field day with this. i felt like an old man, and i had to resist the impulse to tell him to calm down. but other passengers were getting visibly uncomfortable. finally, the metro cops or whatever they're called, showed up in their white truck with the yellow lights. i saw two people finally get up from the front of the bus and move toward the back. they were asian, and it's quite possible that they didn't understand english.

when all this finally settled down, some black girls boarded the bus and started talking really loudly, calling each other "bitch" and all this. then the black girl next to me started making jerking off motions with her hand, and this sent her little group into an uproar. maybe if i had really listened to the joke, or maybe if i was in the mood, i would've found what she was saying to be funny. or maybe if i hadn't attended the evening event just hours before, and saw the good-intentioned, primarily white girls gathering to hear people speak about social justice, i wouldn't have felt so put off by it.

on another note, mia kirshner, who provided me much solace in high school by wearing a catholic schoolgirl outfit in the terrible b-movie, exotica, and continued her bad movie streak with winners like the crow: city of angels and not another teen movie, has finally gotten her act together and done some good. she wrote a book which she co-produced with ex-adbusters staffers called i live here, and she'll be reading at town hall next monday.

sexy social justice, such a rarity these days.
trying to look at the bright side.


i finally saw sarah vowell tonight. granted, i've only been into her for a few months, but i am a big fan. the funny thing is, though, i'm not really a fan of her writing. well, that's not entirely true. i really love her personal nonfiction stories, but then she gets really, really into history, and anything even mentioning history (or art, and especially art history), i just, for the life of me, can't get into. yes, this is me claiming to be ignorant and lazy. i don't really want to learn about charlemagne or historical civil wars. maybe it's just the dates and memorization of names and places that drives me crazy, who knows.

but i really do like sarah. once she put down her new book (which i'm sure is great, but i honestly probably won't read), the wordy shipmates, and started fielding questions, things suddenly became a lot more interesting. the first question someone asked was about native americans owning slaves. sarah talked about how the cherokee and some other tribes owned slaves, and how, while this was a horrible thing, actually shows the native americans in a more humanistic light (as in all humans are capable of evil), as opposed to this idea of the noble savage who was entirely good for the mere sake that they were completely "decimated."

the rest of the q + a session was a letdown of sorts, as sarah's sarcastic quips and "i don't know's" made it quite clear that she wasn't up for any sort of bullshit academic masturbation fest. seriously, you should've heard some of the shit they were asking. "why do you think the english have a better sense of irony than the americans?" what? what fucking planet are you on, buddy? audience members were treating her like she was some sort of deity, and i think that she made every attempt to undercut her authority in order to try and come across as a real person who longs for real conversations. but maybe that's just me projecting.

while i would've liked to stick around and tell her how i really loved hearing her read "shooting dad" on this american life, i didn't want to have to wait in line and fight crowds. i really don't think i'd deal with any crowd or line to meet an author, except possibly the chance of meeting jhumpa lahiri. all the best guys and girls are dead. but even then, what's the point? autographs are fun when you're a kid. i remember going to disneyworld and getting autographs from mickey mouse and cinderella and the ninja turtles, and it was a great time, until my older cousin said, "you know those are just people in costumes, right?" and i did know. i just hadn't put two and two together, i suppose.

i guess if you're a hardcore collector and need to have every first edition limited edition hardcover, you'd stick around for an autograph. but really, what's an author have to say to you, a random stranger in a random city? dear jeff, warm regards. dear alice, thanks for reading. dear mike, nice leather jacket. it's like the whole yearbook thing. you don't really know these people, so what are you going to write to them? remember that time we had class together and didn't talk? that class was fun. keep in touch.

i've start printing small labels at work and i've been sticking them on buses. they are like little fortune cookies except that they don't tell you your fortune. they give you the real scoop. like one reads: my life is more ordinary than yours. and i guess they're like post-secrets, but they're not really secrets. they're more like pleas or sympathies sent out to the world. another: i'm really sorry that you hate your job. i don't know why i'm doing this. i just like the thought of strangers reading something i've come up with. and maybe it will start a craze. it'll be better than that elitist poetry on buses shit because you won't have to submit your poem. you'll just need a label maker.

i was nervous putting my first one on today. i wanted the bus to clear out, so i could do it. it felt like i was trying to steal something, and i chickened out on the first bus, but not the second. i saw these little black half balls on the roof of the bus and recognized them as cameras. i hope i don't get caught. i'd probably just get a fine if i did, but then i also imagine myself having to peel off every single one myself, and that would be a real bitch. is it really vandalism, though? just a few words never hurt anybody. well, except for mein kempf. right before i exited the 7, i got the nerve to finally post one. it reads: i'm talking about hard times, please listen.

maybe it will help me get discovered and i can turn this stupid blog into a book. and then, yes. i'll be more than happy to sign your fucking book.

things i forgot to mention.


while riding the bus on saturday, i looked out and saw the sun setting. it broke through the clouds all purple and orange and red, and it was one good goddamn sunset. later, while taking a shower, i thought to myself that no one can really be successful if he/she fails to recognize a good goddamn sunset every once in a while.

i stood on the bus again this morning. they blast the hell out of those heaters they've got, and it always feels like i'm standing amidst a warm fart. everyone looks so miserable on the bus. i wish we had some early morning crazies who would do a little dance or do chin-ups on the bars (i've seen one guy do it). it would make the ride a bit more entertaining.

today is as slow as a slow monday could be. the american flag positioned between the law school and the dorms lay limp. i really don't get the flag or why people feel the need to raise it or pledge allegiance to it. the only time the flag is interesting is when it's at half-mast. then you know something terrible has happened, and only in tragedy can we really bond as members of the same country. it's funny how most people just go around with their headphones on, one place to the next, and don't say shit to anybody, except maybe a "sorry, i don't have any change," and nobody really finds this weird. the real tragedy isn't the disaster, crisis or collapse itself. i think the real tragedy is that, these days, it takes one for people to really communicate with each other.

one of the advisors came in wearing more makeup than usual today. she wrote me a courtesy email earlier saying she would be in late because she woke up with a massive migraine. when she finally came in, she told me that she puts on lots of makeup to compensate (not sure if this was the exact word she used) for headaches. we had a good laugh about her silly little habit, and then she told me a story about her cat. how her cat was meowing for a long time outside her door, and when she finally let him in, the cat just kept meowing angry meows at her. "he was being a little shit," she said. i laughed at her cat story.

why is it racist to say "colored people," but not "persons of color?" today, i met a student who was a person of color, and she shook my hand. she was wearing one of those obama shirts where half his face is red and the other half blue. i think the shirt is supposed to mean that obama unites republicans and democrats, but that thought just occurred to me now, and i'm not sure if that's what the shirt is really trying to say. maybe it's just saying that obama is a colorful person of color.

if i had a lot of money, i'd run for public office and get people all excited about all the things i was gonna do. then, like any other job, i'd probably just waste a lot of time on the internet.
my spreadsheet is better than your orgasm.


for a while now, zumies has been selling these hideous sweatshirts that seem to be all the rage with the youngsters these days. they are hooded sweatshirts and they are always very colorful with, in my opinion, really ugly designs. they are so outrageous, though, that i secretly want one, preferably one that is entirely obvious. something with like dollar signs and marijuana leaves. you know the drill. i guess, though, that it wouldn't make sense to wear one, since i'm still a young looking asian. strangers who saw me wearing one would only think i'm just another dumb hip-hop kid who gets off the bus at jackson and 12th. for it to work as a halloween costume, i'd have to go to some uptight capitol hill party where people would "get" what i was trying to "do." that's my problem; my sense of humor is too elitist.

i still don't have a "look" though, and i hate to admit, but that kind of bothers me. i used to have a look. it involved track jackets and cardigans, skater shoes, a crooked hat, and striped polo shirts. but now i've outgrown that look and i've got nothing but the same five dress shirts i wear to work. there isn't much selection for guys when it comes to fashion. that's why the assholes at project runway never make clothes for dudes. that's why stores like ross only have 1/20th of the store devoted to men. i always thought that was unfair, but i guess it's kind of unmanly to complain about such things.

i used to go to thrift stores a lot, and i used to like it a lot. but everything now just kind of looks the same. i always come across faded xxl polo shirts and t-shirts that say 1999 seattle breast cancer awareness walk. anything in my size that looks actually wearable, they jack up the price to around $17.99. $17.99 for a used shirt. that's right. that's how they roll in the big city. give me a fucking break. because of such outrageous dealings, i find it entirely appropriate to join the rest of yuppified humanity and buy clothes new. i guess if i was really dedicated to fighting the system and buying recycled, i'd spend more time sifting through the crap, but i just don't know how much fight i have left in me.

yesterday, i had a long phone conversation with a friend from high school, the only person from high school i still keep in contact with. so far, we've had fairly similar experiences, and it was good catching up. we are restless and in debt. we are grateful for our education and the chance to get away because we have seen so many others develop this "stuck" mindset, and refuse to do anything about it. we still don't know what we want in life, and we are getting a little anxious that those around us are buying houses, getting married, and figuring things out at seemingly faster rates than we have been. we just don't want to get left behind.

"i used to think," emily told me, "that with some people, we'd be best friends forever." she went on to say that she used to envision getting older and being really close to the friends she had growing up, so close that their kids would eventually play together. i assumed she meant that whole thing where women congregate in the park with their strollers on sunday mornings. i never had that thought. it's a shit thing to say, but i guess i always knew once graduation rolled around, i was never going to talk to, much less see, any of these people ever again. i think the worst part is, the thought didn't even sadden me. joseph put it best when, after our eighth grade graduation ceremony and sentimental slideshow, he confided in me: "yeah. i was about to cry. but then i realized, what am i thinking? i hate these people!"

so, what's a friend, a real friend, supposed to be? someone who's just around and available to hang out at the drop of a hat? someone who can drive you to the airport and be a reliable pickup? the hardest thing, i think, about having to be a social being, or being in a relationship, is finding that fine balance between being needy and playing it cool. if i were to find someone my age and say, "hey you. be my friend," i would be a total creep and it would be over. if a guy walks up to a girl and says something like, "are you tired? you've been running around my mind all day," it'd be over. those two aren't getting together. guess that my problem is i've never been one for wanting to take things slow. i feel like i've already been waiting for fucking ever.

why don't we all just go around, blowing our loads at the drop of a hat?