king me.

during my first year of americorps, i had no other choice but to find ways to pass the time, since my supervisor was too busy to assign me to do anything. mostly, i just browsed the internet (pitchfork being my favorite site at the time), but i also drew cartoons (a short-lived but ahead of its time comic entitled "kathleen's coffee") and wrote random emails to my equally bored, but actually busy fellow volunteers. it was during this period that i discovered internet checkers, which is available on windows xp. i was drawn in by the fact that i was probably playing against other slackers with desk jobs across the nation, as opposed to the all-powerful computer.

i didn't have a strategy when i first started. i'd just move my pieces forward and hope to jump my opponent's. soon, though, i learned how to force double-jumps, and my ultimate strategy was to move forward and risk my pieces to earn the king. during the post-katrina days, while waiting for clients to arrive, my checkers hobby turned into a full-blown obsession. i'd get clammy waiting for my opponent to make his move. i'd get really excited when a certain move brought the odds in my favor. i played not to win, but more for that precise moment when i knew that the game was mine.

i also talked shit. the thing is, in internet checkers, players aren't allowed to "chat." instead, we're given a select group of phrases and emoticons to write to one another. some examples include, "are you still there?" "nice move," and "king me." so, how does one talk shit if there aren't any shit-talking phrases? well, it's easy. lay on the sarcasm. when someone fucks up and gives me the opportunity to swallow two, three pieces, i send the message: "nice move." when the guy's down to his last piece, i write, "king me" and then i follow it up with a bunch of smiley faces. :-) :-) :-):-) :-) :-):-) :-) :-):-) :-) :-):-) :-) :-):-) :-) :-):-) :-) :-):-) :-) :-):-) :-)

yes, the only reason to play is to annoy the shit out of the other person who's slacking on the gig. "look!" i bragged once to a friend. "i'm totally kicking this guy's ass!" my friend rolled her eyes at me. "you're probably playing a ten year old," she said. i'm no checkers champ, though. even though i've played off and on for over three years now, i still lose my fair share of games. and even when i'm losing, i still set out to annoy the other party just as much, if not more, than i do when i'm winning.

one way to piss off my internet checkers opponent is to simply leave the game. and by "leave" i don't actually mean that i exit out, or close the application. i minimize the screen, instead. i let him sit there, let him think that i'm going to move my piece again, when really, i've left the office for a two hour staff meeting. but the real art of it is, i string him along for as long as i can. so, when i know i'm going to lose, i take my time moving my pieces, acting like i'm really strategizing, really trying to figure out how i'm going to make a comeback. that way, when i eventually leave for two hours, he thinks i'm still sitting on it for a good long while, thinking long and hard about my next move. he won't want to leave, either, because he's winning.

and we all know, nobody quits when he's ahead.
the stuck mentality.

back when i worked in the writing center, there was somewhat of an unspoken motto most consultants stuck to: "sometimes, you just have to let them fail." this typically applied to procrastinators, students who would show up with a sloppily written paper the night before it was due. often, i'd look it over, and i'd want to tell the student that he had a lot of work to do, but that's just not something a consultant is usually supposed to say. i mean, going by the book, i wasn't supposed to consider when the paper was due. my job was to help the student become a better writer, and not necessarily earn an a. so, when the procrastinator came in, expecting me to underline in red everything he should "revise," i would fulfill those expectations. i'd give him sentence-level revisions and send him on his way. chances were, based on the grade the student received, i wouldn't be seeing him again.

most people think of revision as this sort of after-the-fact kind of autopsy. most english majors know that it's a lot more complicated than that, though. it's more than just pulling out a red pen, doing a spellcheck, changing a word here and there to make something sound more sophisticated. real revision is a recursive process, something that's supposed to take place while writing. it has to do with recognizing and understanding the shape of the text the writer is creating. it has to do with "felt sense," or the ability to feel, to recognize when you're putting down gold, or putting down shit.

i've never been a good writing consultant to any of my friends or family. i sometimes ask them to send me their writing samples, but i always know it's a mistake whenever i do this. i don't know what it is, but every time they give me a piece of writing to look over, i have a hard time thinking about what i'm going to say to help them improve the piece. maybe it's because i know that no matter what i say, or how i say it, i'm going to offend her/him. so, i make a preemptive strike and end up sounding like an asshole anyway. they always send me personal statements for jobs or schools they're applying for, and there's a lot at stake. i feel the pressure, and i crack under pressure. worse than they do, probably.

the latest of these debacles has to do with my cousin sending me his personal statement for applying to some uc's. my cousin has been in community college for three years now, and i think that he could and should be doing a lot better. i've been on his case ever since he decided to go to community college. i'm not sure why his situation has gotten under my skin so much. i think it has to do with seeing my other cousins go to community college and never finishing. i didn't want the same thing to happen to him.

it's more than that, though. i think it's got something to do with this stuck mentality, something i understood all too well all of last year. it's this feeling that you can't do anything, that you'll never achieve any sort of acceptance anywhere. it's a feeling that just makes someone want to sleep and sleep during the day and play video games at night. some people, lucky ones, have never had to experience it, but i know some people, too, who have never gotten over it. maybe it's a mental state. maybe it's depression. whatever it is, it's this line of thinking that goes: there's nothing i can do to change my situation in life, so i might as well just forget about it.

because i don't want my cousin to fall into this line of thought, i've been on his case about applying for schools. as much as i complain about our overrated and overpriced, dumb-downed educational institutions, and how i screwed up by choosing a worthless major, i still believe that college at least showed me how things could be. it gave me a glimpse of the good fight, and though i'm not necessarily fighting the good fight right now, i want others, family especially, to glimpse it, too.

so, i screwed up. i got on the offense and told him that he shouldn't have waited until the last minute to work on things. i told him that thanksgiving and our other cousin having a baby are not excuses to not work on a small essay that could decide whether or not he gets into a good school. he listened. or maybe he didn't. in any case, like the consultant i once was, i was left at the desk, once again scribbling notes to myself.
i got so wasted last night, man.

yesterday, the receptionist from across the hall paid us a visit, as she usually does whenever she is bored, or in need of some candy. she told us that this guy who works here, tyler or taylor, i think his name is, was at a bar on saturday night when a guy got shot in the head. apparently, taylor or tyler was standing right in front of the guy when the victim got blasted. it seemed a far-fetched tale. who witnesses a horrific murder first-hand, and then comes in monday morning to tell everyone about it? anyway, the receptionist bought it, and for all i know, it could be true. "if that were me," she said, "i would've gotten on the floor and peed my pants."

she also loves to come in, david brent-style, and tell us about her weekend drinking adventures. i don't understand people who brag about their drinking problems, like it's some wonderful, unique talent they have. don't they know drinking's only cool when you're a baltimore homicide detective? anyway, she said that she got so wasted that she slept on her couch because she couldn't make it to her bed, and that that was a sad thing because her bed is only three feet away, as she lives in a studio apartment. she asked me how my weekend was. how was i supposed to keep up with stories of booze and murder? "i didn't do anything," i said, which wasn't exactly true, but it might as well have been.

i finally got my copy of three cups of tea from the library. i'm supposed to read it for this book club i told the work study girl #2 i would join. i'm going to try and not back out of it. i don't know why i back out of so many things. i guess it's just easier to go home and do nothing all day than it is to come up with things to say to a bunch of strangers. meeting people is easy, right? there's always this pressure to be "on," to have something witty and clever to say, so that you'll be loved, but you don't have to love in return. some people are capable of this. i am not. i come up with the usual bullshit. "how was your weekend?" "did you grow up in seattle?" "what did you study in college?"

and then there are moments in large groups when someone says, "awkward silence." it's the stupidest thing anyone could say out loud. so stupid, in fact, that i might just have to be the one to try it out sometime. don't get me wrong. i like people. i just don't do well in groups or teams. maybe it's the catholic in me talking. monogamous relationships, monotheism, monotony. i can't handle more than one person at a time.

i've been severely slacking on the gig, as evidenced by my long, rambling blog entries. i've been writing emails to random people, too, so that they write back, and so i have something to read in the morning other than some random article like "the twenty worst ways to get an s.t.d. without having sex." i get paranoid sometimes, like someone is watching, counting up all my blog minutes, all my gchat and checkers minutes, and they're just waiting to bust me. "look at all this time theft!" they'd say. and i wouldn't be able to argue with it. i'd just be out of luck again.

but. come on. if i wasn't doing this, if i was doing what i'm supposed to do, i'd be copying and pasting words and numbers from a website onto a spreadsheet. is this any way to treat a human being? is it? back to work.
if you liked it, then you should have put a ring on it.

on the bus this morning, i listened to disc two of the new beyonce album, i am...sasha fierce. i've realized that having an mp3 player that stores most of your music just does one thing: it makes you sick of all your music. i've played out so many bands that i've resorted to downloading random billboard busters. i also like knowing what the new word/phrase on the street is. that's what's so great about the r&b/hip-hop world. whereas jazz is an acquired taste, indie rock is elitist, and country too republican, r&b/hip-hop unites everyone. eventually, even the old white reactionary you work with is gonna try her best to be funny and say something like, "don't you wish your girlfriend was hot like me?"

that being said, i am...sasha fierce really blows. there's one enjoyable song, "single ladies (put a ring on it)," but that's only because the video is so entertaining. there's a bit of nostalgia to the genre, too, though. i remember being in my aunt's or uncle's cars after school, and the only thing they'd ever be playing was ksfm 102.5. we'd listen to all the same crap over and over again: "on bended knee," "the masterpiece," "always be my baby," "red light special." what was it that made us keep tuning in? why did it never occur to anyone to make a mixtape or something?

it's not quite the same anymore. songs in the r&b/hip-hop genre are good for a laugh. "can you hand me my phone?" "where is it?" "right thurr, right thurr." and then there's, "man, what's this fool looking at?" "i don't know. whoop that trick! get 'im!" it's all about catch phrases now, but i have to admit, i kind of like it. i'm a fan of odd sayings that are a bit of an inside joke. bling bling. drop it like it's hot. i ain't no hollaback girl. who knew that such random phrases would sell gold records?

i was a bit ashamed this morning, though. i couldn't adjust the volume or flip tracks, for fear that the people sitting next to me, two young asian kids, would have seen the cover art on my zune interface. it's weird to care about such things, and i really don't, but i thought i'd just say it anyway. who are we, though? what are we supposed to be listening to? i'm a twenty-five year old kid living in seattle. it's obvious, then, that i've heard of such acts as the shins and death cab for cutie. a thirteen year old black kid living in los angeles probably knows what it means to "get crunk." a thirty-seven year old woman living in brooklyn has probably heard of bjork.

again, i don't know what i'm getting at. just trying to come up with things to say to make a nice, short paragraph. it's weird, though, that we have friends who are usually trying to get us to listen to something. "listen to this," they'll say. "here, i'll burn you a copy." music was meant to be shared. so, it becomes a really bizarre thing, then, when artists sue people who've downloaded their unreleased record. it's just weird to think of, let's say, metallica, suing a bunch of poor college kids, or guys in their thirties. i mean, really picture it. lars ulrich in his armani suit, pouring champagne in the back of his limo, getting pissed that a bunch of college kids, or else white guys who make $300-$400 a week, downloading the b-sides and outtakes to master of puppets.

and there's probably a poor black chick somewhere, ironing her clothes, just listening to jay-z or whoever, you know, because it gives her a little lift in a poor, messed up world, and interscope doesn't like that. they slap her and many others like her with a lawsuit. that ain't right. that shit don't fly. but people will argue, stealing is stealing. and then there's that commercial that starts off, "you wouldn't steal a car..." these anti-piracy ads that you're forced to see before seeing a movie. well, guess what. they're stealing my time by showing me these ridiculous fucking ads. doesn't that count for anything?

i play music. i write. i don't think i'm good at either, but i have fun doing it. i will most likely never make a cent off either, but i'll keep doing it. and the minute i turn into anything resembling lars ulrich, please tune me out. i'll have nothing worth saying then.

do you play?

you know what's crazy? there isn't a single shop on capitol hill where you can buy guitar strings. sonic boom on 15th ave n.e. does carry some, but only for electric and bass. no acoustic strings. what gives, capitol hill? two record stores, a statue of jimi hendrix on broadway, music venues galore, and a guy can't get a pack of acoustic strings in the neighborhood? i had to borrow meagan's car and drive to guitar center off westlake ave n., so i could do some more shitty covers of shitty songs to post on youtube.

i used to think guitar center was the shit. i was amazed by all the amps and guitars and that i could try anything out for as long as i wanted. i liked playing with the various pedals. a little stomp box could make things sound distorted, spacey, echo-ish, reverby. yes, those are adjectives. i spent most of my teen years thinking, if i had the money for a couple of decent stomp boxes, i could have myself a proper band. my cousin had the d.o.d. grunge effect pedal. i liked it, but i didn't want to get the same one. i got the death metal pedal instead. poor choice.

i've tried a whole bunch of others. the boss ds-1, the ibanez tube screamer, the big muff. i started thinking it strange that everyone who played electric guitar also had to have a distortion pedal. it seemed that all modern music depended on this soft/loud dynamic. you play a few verses clean, and then you hit the distortion pedal for the chorus. it struck me as odd. we were all trying to sound like nirvana or the smashing pumpkins or something. because of distortion pedals, we were never really able to find our own sound. instead, we were constantly trying to reproduce something already mainstream. what a waste of time.

i've always had trouble finding musicians. last night, i asked the clerk if he had trouble connecting with musicians, too. "yeah!" he said. "you?" "yeah," i said. he told me that he was looking to play music that was "ambient, but with folk instruments, lo-fi, and with occasional doom." he made the metal sign with his hand when he said "doom." i nodded. if i had a telecaster and tube amp, i would've said, "let's jam sometime." but all i've got right now is my acoustic guild. i miss hitting the distortion pedal for those choruses.

i've tried looking on craigslist for people to play with, but the ads are mostly bullshit. people on there are super serious and intense. "bring your own equipment." "no flakes, no druggies, etc." "we're professionals looking to get gigs, get signed, go on tour." i once posted my own ad, trying to find people who just loved playing for the sake of playing. i wrote something like, "i have an acoustic guitar and i cover songs sometimes. i'm not that good, but i try. i'm looking for people who aren't that good, either, but who are willing to try." i left it up for two weeks, but i didn't get a single response.

it seems that people are always looking for drummers and bassists. no one needs an average guitar player. guys like us are a dime a dozen. when i realized this, i started hating on those guitar center wankers. you know, the guys who hang out in there all day, playing some stevie ray vaughn or eric clapton solo. these guys are usually in their mid-thirties to early fifties, and they sit on the little black benches they have throughout the store. sometimes, they'll have their girlfriends (or escorts) with them. the girlfriend with black laced boots and denim shorts will usually have her arms crossed and look bored, as though she's thinking, "will you hurry up? are you going to buy this fucking axe or what?" and the guy just sits there, looking pleased with himself. his thoughts are, "yeah, she's with me," and "look how good i can play this solo."

what separates the wankers from the gangsters? what did neil young do differently than my washed up guitar teacher, kenny, did? "it's luck and talent," people say. maybe it's all about working from abundance and being persistent. even though no one believes in you - or, especially when no one believes in you - you have to just keep with it. then when you've got it made, you can make a fucked up album and call it trans to piss everyone off. but what if this isn't true? what if kenny has a whole basement full of tapes, and what if he's been playing music for decades?

i guess it still wouldn't be so bad. sad as it sounds, at least he was still his own number one fan.
are you sexually active?

i used to have this scary ass doctor when i was little. he was a big old white man with a deep voice. i would tense up whenever i heard him outside the door and, before making his grand entrance, he would pound on the door like he was the police and i was the neighborhood dealer. i never liked the guy, and as a kid, i didn't know i had the option of asking for another doctor. he was big, strange, and he acted as though he'd forgotten that i still felt pain when he'd jab his cold fingers into my abdomen. everything seemed strictly business with him. sure, he'd ask how school was, how my grades were, but he'd still come across as cold and callous. i was thrilled when he eventually retired.

i went through a couple of new doctors, and they were all less intimidating than the original. the first time one of them asked me, "are you sexually active?" i was thrown off. isn't that a bit personal? and then i thought, why are they asking me this? i'm only twelve. who's sexually active at twelve? the question was absurd. but then i got to thinking about it some more. am i supposed to be sexually active? i was pretty naive, too. i thought masturbating counted as being sexually active. in any case, i said no. later, when i realized that they asked so that they could screen for hiv/aids and other s.t.d.s, i was relieved that i wasn't a liar.

my new doctor, the one i met this morning, is pretty awesome. she actually talked to me like i was a person, not a patient. in fact, the whole clinic was staffed with people of color, people who spoke different languages. it actually felt like a community in there. the whole atmosphere was really comfortable and welcoming, unlike the medclinic i usually went to in sacramento. for some reason, like most things sacramento, the medclinic was just an awful, unnerving place to me. everyone seemed really old and close to the end. i mean, i guess that's how hospitals are supposed to be, but the columbia city group health was something different. i didn't feel like i had to be afraid of getting old and dying when i was in there.

she asked me if i was sexually active. she asked me if i did drugs. i was honest about everything, and for the first time, i wasn't intimidated or embarassed.
stuff filipino-americans don't like.

you might've heard by now about this blog called stuff white people like. i thought it was funny for about ten seconds. then, after i saw that the blog had received over 20 million hits at the time, i could only conclude that the author himself was a self-deprecating white man. and in case you're wondering, yeah, that's the case. my friend linked me to this blog after he saw that christian lander, author of stuff white people like, listed things like "indie bands," adbusters, and "hating corporations" as some of the things white people liked. he got me. i was white, according to his blog.

this shit's stupid. and forgive me for playing the race card, but come the fuck on. white boy starts a blog in january, gets a book deal, gets 40,000,000 views, and receives invites to various talk shows all in less than a year? don't tell me the same thing could've happened to me, had i chosen to name my blog: you know you're a filipino when...

i once asked my filipino-american fiction teacher if his books sold well in the philippines, but i already knew the answer. the answer was a clear and distinct, "no, of course not." truth is, they don't even sell all that well here. so, who can filipinos and filipino-american youth look up to? manny pacquiao. fists of fury, right? who needs brains or personality when you can just beat the shit out of someone. and i know, i know. you're not supposed to say your race or religion or gender or any of that shit should hold you back, but i am. i'm saying it. you're supposed to rise up, pull yourself up by the bootstraps, right? be a trailblazer, be a maverick.

but what does it mean when the first african-american president is elected in your country - the country you were born in, grew up in, the only country you know - after over two hundred fucking years? and according to white lefties, the guy's a "corporate shill," "an uncle tom for corporations." at least hillary has shown us that women can be in the running, if they're well-funded. but it's still a black and white world, and filipinos clearly aren't even in the running.

the only flips i see in seattle mop floors and work at the goodwill. some nurses, maybe, and some students, but no one really in any clearly defined position of power. so, where does that leave me? it shouldn't have anything to do with anything, right? this is america, where one can achieve anything. that's what our president-elect has shown us. but i'm pretty sure i have a better chance of turning water into wine before i come close to raising the kind of money he raised for his campaign.

for the most part, i'll admit that i don't even think about being a filipino-american all that much. it's not the same as spike lee waking up everyday having to think to himself, i'm a black man in america. it's not quite like that or anything at all. we don't even have a television show of our own like ugly betty and lucy liu and sandra o. are chinese. i flipped through a filipino magazine my aunt sent me over the summer, and i was unable to identify a single celebrity. there's k.c. concepcion, but i don't know what she's done, and you've probably never heard of her, either.

i was even more pissed when i read in an article that christian lander came up with the idea when he and his "filipino friend" were talking about how much they liked the wire. what, the friend doesn't have a name? why even emphasize that he was filipino to begin with? we, who aren't black or white, when will we be able to take credit for anything?
lights, camera, inaction.

i went to kent today to help my boss and some fools film an instructional dvd. and by "help" i mean i sat around all day and ate as much free food as i could. they seriously didn't need me around to do anything. originally, i had been asked to come along because they needed a male to play a divorced litigant, even though the judge really wanted an african-american to play the part. she was concerned about diversity, and though a filipino (myself) was good, an african-american would be better. so, come showtime, i didn't get the part. but guess who beat me to it? another fucking filipino! he looked older, though, so it made sense. as fun as it had sounded, i don't think i was ready yet to have an ex-wife.

i sat in the halls mostly, not reading, not listening to music. it occurred to me at some point during the day that i really need to get my shit together, figure out what i'm gonna do, or else i'm headed straight for much of the same. i once talked to naomi about the movie jarhead. i explained how i really felt for the main character in that one scene where he and his buddy want to snipe an iraqi, but they're beaten to the punch by some higher-up. they beg the higher-up to get the shot off. it won't matter if they do or don't because the army was planning to bomb the shit out of the complex anyway. in the end, the higher-up tells them no, and the two throw a little hissyfit over it. i told naomi that that scene summed up my entire volunteer experience. all that training, all that determination, and for what? they wouldn't even let me get the shot off.

so, i sat in the halls and struck up conversations with the filming crew, the law students that coordinated the whole project. i thought about talking with random jurors, too, but i didn't. sucks to have jury duty, i might say. how's it in there? anything good? murder? drug bust? i've been watching quite a bit of the wire lately. i was pretty curious, mostly because i was so bored. i asked my boss about bail. like why do they even make bail an option, if only rich assholes can afford it? i asked her how much it cost to file for divorce. $200 was the answer, but it could've gone up. what's the difference between a restraining order and a protection order?

sometimes, the questions came back at me. "are you interested in law?" a 3l asked me. "no," i said. my boss looked disappointed, and everyone else within earshot laughed. i felt bad for saying so bluntly that i wasn't interested, so i tried to qualify my answer. "well, it's interesting," i said, "but i don't see myself going to law school any time soon." "yeah," she said, "and being around us students probably doesn't convince you any." "yeah," i said, "i can't wait until finals." the truth is, if i did go, i wouldn't be able to stop thinking: i'm in the business of people fucking each other over.

from the second floor, i watched jurors return from lunch. the room was circular, and i couldn't help but think of dante's inferno. i didn't tell anyone i was thinking this. then some lawyer types walked past us, and they were holding a door. upon closer inspection, i saw that there were bulletholes in the door. "that's evidence," my boss said. "are those bulletholes?" i asked. "yeah," she said. "i guess court can be exciting!" i said. she laughed.

my favorite part of the day was when the director said he needed to film ambient sounds, so we all sat silent for thirty seconds. it was the greatest thirty seconds there ever was.

your 3:00 is here.

i'm "holding down the fort" as they say, since emily is out sick today. all that means is i make appointments for students, and i let advisors know when their students have arrived. this morning, a blonde 1L came in and asked if she had to attend a seminar before meeting with an advisor. "i couldn't attend," she said, "because it was cancelled." she told me twice that thursday's seminar was cancelled, and could she still meet with an advisor? "probably," i said. as i walked over to one of the offices to find out, the 1L called out to me: "i don't know if it matters, but i've worked in the legal field before, so i know all about resumes and cover letters." "okay," i said. i knew the advisor overheard everything, as we were the only ones in there at 8:30 in the goddamn morning. behind her clear-framed glasses, she was rolling her eyes. "is it okay..." i began, already aware of the answer. "yes," she said, grinning.

i attended this meeting today about gitmo detainees. something occurred to me during it, but i can't remember it now. after the lecture, this girl raised her hand. "forgive me," she began, "i'm just a lowly, ignorant 1L..." the professor laughed and said, "there's no such thing," or something like that. i've seen her around and she seems like a fun, awkward girl. like a blend of mia and lilly in the princess diaries with a twist of hipster. yes, that would describe her alright.

the copy machine i usually use is not working. i kept fucking with it just to make sure. i think the librarian or library tech or whatever her position is came in and said, "it's not working." "oh," i said, as if i had just figured that out. "i called the service people," she said, "but they haven't arrived yet." "is there another one?" i asked. i honestly didn't know. "yeah, go up to the third floor toward the technology department. there's one there." i followed her instructions, but they led me to a dead end: a woman's bathroom, i think, and a janitor's closet. maybe i didn't follow them correctly. i ended up printing out all the copies and stapling them myself.

so, there you have it. my monday consisting of bizarre 1Ls and broken copy machines. i once asked dong if he had a case of the mondays. "nah, man," he wrote back. "i think of it more as a disease."
is this gonna be on the test?

i've never had any shame in admitting that seattle u was the school i got into. i probably should've been ashamed, but i didn't really give a shit. after i got my first c in advanced geometry my freshman year, i gave up. i couldn't have a perfect record, so why try. i probably shouldn't have given in so easily, so early, but i did, and that pretty much sealed the deal. every day after school, i'd just go home and sleep. i kept hearing that no matter what you did, no matter how bad it got, there was always an out. if you hit bottom, all you had to do was get your g.e.d. if you didn't get accepted anywhere, you'd just go to community college for two years, then transfer to whatever school got you most wet.

so i didn't try. the mantra on test days (sat included) was, "if you don't know it by now, you never will." thanks to that, there are a lot of things i will never know. instead of prepping for the sat (it honestly never even occurred to me once that i should study beforehand), i smoked out with my friends in their cars. instead of researching schools, i researched boobies. and so on. you get a pretty clear picture of where my priorities were. there's always an easy out, right? when my sat scores came back at a disappointing 1060, i was devastated. i thought i was smart, and smart wasn't something you were supposed to work for. there must've been some kind of mistake. i took it again, and scored lower the second time. christ, i wasn't smart after all.

recently, my mom told me about my cousin's ambitions to attend an ivy league school on the east coast. "it's funny," i said, "we all thought those things were possible at her age." "even you?" she asked. it was kind of an underhanded remark. i took it as something akin to, when the fuck did you ever have any ambition or goals? "yeah," i said, "like in seventh or eighth grade, i guess." i thought i should bring the point home. "but then i got to high school and realized i wasn't so smart. and then i got to college, and i realized i wasn't so special." my dad laughed at this, as if he were proud that i had finally unlocked some great mystery of the universe. the freedom and enlightenment that comes with being average, recognizing you are ordinary. still, i wouldn't dare to try and stop my cousin, or anyone for that matter, from dreaming big dreams. otherwise, she might just end up sleeping everyday after school.

anyway, the whole point of writing this was to say that s.u. was the only school that accepted me. and i've already said this before. what i didn't know, though, is that a couple of my friends have only been accepted to one college as well. how does admissions decide then, who gets into what school? who gets scholarships and who doesn't? i just don't get it. if a) loyola marymount university rejects me, and b) santa clara university rejects me, why does c) seattle university take me in? toby answered, maybe they needed the money more than the others. but all schools need money. especially jesuit schools, and all three were jesuit schools.

my conclusion is that their decision (and the decision of the other schools that thought i wasn't good enough for them) was completely arbitrary. rejection and acceptance have nothing to do with anything. maybe those who studied harder have already figured this out. but to me it's kind of a big deal. my whole life was altered because some random asshole arbitrarily decided to send me the big envelope instead of the little one. maybe he just had a good lunch that day, a b.l.t. perhaps, and he was feeling rather generous. i had no extra curriculurs, a weak gpa, and inadequate sat scores. what does that mean? that seattle u is a bad school? i performed really well while at s.u., but does this just mean that they've dumbed things down, lowered their standards?

am i educated, or am i still just taking the easy way out? if i don't know it by now, i'll never know.
cardboard box washing machine.

all her clothes were dirty, so she was doing a wash. i didn't help or offer to help, i just stood there. the machine wasn't a normal looking machine. it was a fake, that much i could tell. the machine was pressed up against the window and it was attached to what looked like a spigot. "i gotta fill it with water first," she said. "okay," i said. i watched as she pulled the cardboard box toward her and unscrewed the spigot so that water would flow. she caught the water in the box, then pushed the box tight up against the wall. water started to fill it up. in the front was a little window so you could watch the clothes spin if you wanted to, and the window was glass or plastic. most likely plastic. when it filled, she started throwing in the dirty clothes.

"i've got a camera," she said, "wanna see it?" "sure," i said. she handed it to me. it looked real enough, but it was also a fake. it was a digital, but there were three modes. she pressed her finger on top of mine to push a button. mode 1, mode 2, mode 3. i looked at the screen in mode 1. it made her face look fat. i told her this, and she laughed. in mode 2, she looked like a boy. then, mode 3 was just normal, but close-up. she was beautiful, so i put the camera down, right in front of my stomach. then i did what i wasn't supposed to do. i kissed her. it was supposed to be romantic, but i hadn't shaved for a while and my moustache ended up jabbing her upper lip. she pulled away, and i could see that she was bleeding a little bit.

we didn't say anything for a while. we just sat down in the living room and waited for our friends to show up. when they arrived, they were full of congratulations, shaking my hand like i had just done something great. like i had graduated, gotten some job i wanted, finally reached a stage that most men my age are supposed to reach. a simple "good job" would have sufficed, but they had to take it further. they made it laughable, like, son, you just got here now? they were sarcastic and just being a couple of assholes about it. i couldn't look at any of them, and i certainly couldn't look at her. i just got up and left the room in silence. this just got them going even more with their fake sympathy. aww, where you goin'? we were just playin'!

in the driver's seat, i rolled the key between my fingers for a bit, then i started the ignition. it occurred to me then that i've always been leaving some place to go nowhere. and each time, i convince myself that it's different. that this time, i'll have the dignity, willpower, courage, or whatever, to never return.
when you're drunk, you say you hate children.

the receptionist from across the hall comes in every now and then to take candy from the drawer, or just to shoot the shit. she's a funny girl, and she is what i imagine drinking coffee on a regular basis must be like. today, she came in and slumped down on one of the leather chairs we have in our little waiting area. her shirt started to slide up a little bit, and to be polite, i looked away. she started talking about how she stayed out for last call last night and how that wasn't such a good idea. i immediately thought of david brent on the office and how he would always boast about how he loves to get shitfaced. "do i drink?" "yeah, he drinks." anyway, while she was drunk, apparently she admitted to a coworker that she hates children.

the work study girl jumped in and said that she hates tweens. "i hate tweens, too," the receptionist said, "but mostly because i used to be one of them." she then held her hand up to her ear, simulating a phone call. "you know, they're always at the mall saying, 'come pick me up.'" she did a very good impersonation of an annoying tween. i sat there, amused by all of it, but feeling left out. it always seems to be the case that i'm surrounded by women, no matter where i go. and that's fine by me, yes, that's quite a bit of all right. but to me, it's a lot like how philosopher costanza puts it: "it's like being superman, but without the powers."

work study girl talked about how her friend is thinking about applying for teach for america. "are you talking her out of it?" i asked. "trying to," she said. "it's a lot like americorps, isn't it?" she asked me. "yeah," i said, "but you have more responsibility, and you get certification. but it's low pay, long hours, and she'll probably get burnt out." "yeah," she agreed. "i hate any organization that targets twenty-two year old idealistic youth." i didn't say anything. i felt like we've been saying this for years already.

i showed my coworker, one of the lawyers, how to set up her ipod. she had never used itunes before, but she's a blackberry wizard. "so i can listen to the rachel maddow show?" she asked. "yes," i said. i showed her how to subscribe to this american life's podcast. and then i tried to explain it. "so basically, it'll download the program every monday, and then it'll appear here on your itunes. then, once you plug in your ipod, the show should automatically upload to your ipod." "this is like a whole new world to me!" she said. i told her that she could also buy songs off itunes, or download them from other websites, or download songs illegally. i was trying to be funny, but it felt alien coming out of my mouth, telling a lawyer she had the ability to do something illegal.

yesterday, i had the sudden desire to eat ice cream while watching bugs bunny cartoons. those were the days when you could just sit on your ass, indulge in sight and taste, and not have to feel bad about it. at twenty-five, i would receive severe reprimands from family and friends alike. "what are you doing," they'd say. "what are ya, some kind of an idiot? get a job!" today, i have the sudden desire to be at circus circus playing that game where you roll the ball up into the colored holes and then you look up to see your horse moving forward. once, i cheated at the game. i took another ball from the slot next to mine, and i rolled two balls for myself. nervous about getting caught, i botched it and kept coming up zeroes. i lost cheating when i usually won playing straight.

we have a bulletin board in the office, where we post job/volunteer opportunities and upcoming events. i take down the old flyers when a job has expired or when an event has passed. the other day, i told emily, "on shows like homicide and the wire, they have a board where they put up names of those murdered. red if it's unsolved, black if the case is closed. sometimes, i like to pretend this is what i'm doing." she laughed. then, later, when i put up a new flyer, i said, "another murder by the lake," and she got what i was talking about. "now," she said, "you have to step back and look at the board as a whole."

i did just that.
she doesn't know how good she's got it.

i had to leave the computer for lunch, even though i typically eat lunch at my desk. on random days, i go to the library, but i don't read. i listen to this american life. i did that today. i can't stand looking at the computer too long. it hurts my eyes, makes me feel disoriented, gets me woozy. so, i just listen to this american life on my zune and stare out the window. i probably look crazy, like i'm scheming, plotting, thinking something bad. but really, i'm just listening to stories. people can think what they want.

on the way to the library, this white girl was telling this white guy that she had to write up a paper, one and a half pages about "how she feels and with examples." i trailed behind an asian girl who smelled like a clinique ad inserted into fashion magazines. i felt bad for the students at s.u., wandering around with their backpacks and hooded sweatshirts and cell phones. i felt bad because i was one of them and look where it got me. but maybe these kids have fantastic plans, bigger dreams, concrete goals. most likely, though, they don't.

it feels safe here, though, that much i can say. not like the crazy uw, which has a reputation for hosting serial killers and men who set themselves on fire. no, there's something safer about s.u. it's all white kids with a few asians and hawaiians sprinkled here and there. they cling to their nalgene bottles and lattes, and sometimes they wear pajama pants to class. that's acceptable. the girls wear headbands and northface jackets. they have ideas and beliefs and they want their fair share out of life, you know? everyone is here for a piece of the pie.

there are crosses on the lawn in front of the library to remember the murdered jesuits, nuns, and missionaries in el salvador. soon, people from all over the country will fly to georgia to protest the school of americas. they want to shut the school down because it trains military men who go into south american for the sole purpose of killing. i've always wanted to go to the annual protest. not because i believe my actions will change anything, but simply because it would be cool to go down to georgia and have a reason.

if you're going somewhere, it's good to have a reason.
oh, how they profit from your self-loathing.

it's been a while since we've spoken, huh. can you believe i can just say something like "obama" and immediately, this image will pop into your head. i can say "9/11" and that means something, too. we are north american scum. do you know that there are whole shelves of books available at borders, barnes and noble, waldenbooks (does it still exist?) aimed at making people feel bad about themselves? yeah, yeah, overconsumption. yeah, yeah, global warming. yeah, yeah, the corporations own us. what'cha gonna do about it? write a book, obviously.

no doubt, though. supercapitalism, starbucked, they're all there, sitting on the shelves, waiting for you to read. you and your liberal ideas that your friends, your professors (people you've trusted all your life) have been telling you about. here, they say, read nickeled and dimed. there's valuable information in it, you know. you can see how the other half lives, how good you have it. but how's it any different from hearing about a murder/suicide over the radio? what does this information do, where does it get us? how can you avoid tragedy? how can you avoid being a hypocritical liberal.

i don't have answers and i don't go in-depth. i don't even make my paragraphs flow, one into the other. that's why i don't have a paperback edition on sale right now for $12.99. keepin' it real, motherfucker. i hated him, she said. he was such a poser. he pretended he was an artist, a sensitive soul, but it was only to woo the women. that's all any straight male is looking to do. isn't it funny, though, that way. every decision, every dollar spent. it's all a means to an end.

and then there's the whole thing when you descend into the city and it's almost as though you could wrap your arms around those skyscrapers, if you really wanted to. if we took science literally, we should be able to just walk through walls. i think that's what those murderers who hated freedom were after. they wanted to walk through walls. they based their final decisions on a complete and final act of severe penetration. lousy freedom-hating perverts.

it's funny how we all know we're gonna go, but we keep doing the same shit anyway. people find ways to keep themselves entertained. collecting cds had me going for a while. you had to have 'em all, didn't you. yes, yes you did. one record store after another because life wasn't complete until every mogwai record, b-sides and remixes included, was obtained. and it was bending and squatting and breathing in dust and grime to collect 'em all. who taught us to collect 'em all. maybe it was hearing those commercials when we were young. all that stuff we heard growing up just sticks with us, doesn't it.

i don't think most guys know how to be entertained. they can't shop, sew, join a book club, volunteer, or garden without feeling emasculated. what do we get. tits and bars and tittybars. will you have children, people say to each other. when will you get married, they say. when i'm good and ready is the obvious answer. but what is ready. how will you know. people always say you will know when you know, but how can you know if you've never known before. it's like saying, you will understand advanced calculus. you won't know shit. but you'll know when you know.

i don't want children because those liberal books keep talking about carbon footprints and how i can't do anything or have any fun without feeling bad about it first. but sometimes i'll see a young milf with her baby in a little backpack carrier type thing, and i think, that wouldn't be so bad to come home to. it's this idea of family that appeals to most of us. but then the kid will grow up, leave home, and keep in touch just on holidays. and you're left wondering, how does the time pass so? and every sentence begins with, remember when...

it's this neverending cycle of goodbyes and ceremonies. and when it's over we still have to clear up. i don't know how anyone can stay focused in times like these. eyes on the prize, man. work hard and together, we can accomplish anything. grab your double mocha and your copy of starbucked. we're getting there. let's have children, let's get married. let's get a good education and the dream can come true for us. a big house with bay windows and an endless backyard. swimming pool and tennis court and bookshelves full of barbara ehrenreich, naomi klein, noam chomsky books.

let's not be ordinary, or at least say we refuse to be ordinary, and be ordinary anyway, and somehow manage to be okay with it. let's ride the bus but take the car when it snows and we don't wanna wait in the snow. let's upholster the couch and wear crisp, button-down dress shirts. let's go to bed early and not subscribe to the newspaper. who wants news? what's it good for? what do i need to know that i don't know already? what don't i already know? there's a lot. there's untouched shelves of books that no one could possibly read, not even if he spent his whole life doing it.

but we do it anyway. we read and read, trying to make sense of it, trying to find that one sentence we can connect with, even if it's small. and usually it's small.
can i be electric, too?

my parents visited me this weekend. i didn't know what to do with them, other than take them out to eat. and eat we did. tutta bella's, kingfish cafe, ivars, coastal kitchen, cupcake royale. seattle really is good for just eating until you get nauseous. we also saw w. in columbia city's cramped ass theater. it was pretty warm and stuffy in there, and there was no legroom at all. if someone in our row had to use the bathroom (and thankfully no one did), the entire row would literally have to clear out. it's a really bad theater. first time columbia city's let me down, actually.

i took them to the fremont market to get banana/nutella crepes, but the crepe lady wasn't there. instead, my mom looked at all the clothing, flowers, and jewelry. as she moved from one tent to the next, i felt a little sorry for my dad, since there was obviously nothing there to entertain him, or any males for that matter. the fremont market is for women and the few men who are unfortunate enough to get dragged along to it. i entertained myself by looking at the usual things that have fascinated me even since i was five; namely, knives and lighters. i've always wanted to be a hero. or a villain.

one knife i found struck me as particularly deadly. it caught my eye first because it looked like a pair of brass knuckles, something i've always wanted. i pulled it out of its leather sheath. the knuckles were sharp little metallic bolts and it was attached to a very sharp, slightly curved blade. i wanted it really badly. "that's dangerous," the old saleslady said to me. "yeah," i said, running my finger over the sharp bolt. "what would you need this for?" i asked. "to kill someone!" she said. well, why the fuck are you selling this at a family market, then?

my mom emerged victoriously from the fremont garage. she showed me her new purple bracelet. "only a dollar!" she said. all day long, she would continue to talk about her bracelet. "it's my birthstone," she said. "does it look like it's only a dollar?" "i'll tell my coworkers i got it for $20." that night, we ate a bunch of filipino food my mom brought from sac. stuff like adobo, palabok, and ensemada. my dad talked to my uncle tim on the phone. he told my uncle that my apartment was nice, spacious. he told uncle tim what we were eating. after they hung up, mom said to dad in tagalog, "don't tell him we're eating leftovers. tell him we're eating out!"

the last night they were here, we stayed in and watched my brother is an only child, an italian film, on my laptop. i don't think they liked it very much, but i did. it's about this boy who joins the fascist party, and he doesn't really know what he's doing. i liked that the boy was loud and boisterous and did whatever he wanted. the complete opposite of myself growing up. he gets seduced by this older woman, too. who doesn't enjoy that? in the spirit of italy, my dad decided he wanted some tiramisu from tutta bella's, which he missed out on the first night of their arrival. i called it in. when we got there, the woman said to me, "hon, next time, you don't have to call it in. it's ready here, we just have to box it up." "thanks," i said. my dad was shocked to discover that a small piece of tiramisu cost eight dollars.

they had me check the weather the night before they left. my mom doesn't like to fly, especially in winter, when it's cloudy and rainy. "i'm going to take the train next time," she said. "it's an eighteen hour trip!" i said. "so? i'll be retired. i'll have time." she also didn't like meagan's cat. "it's looking at me," she said. "what does she want from me?" then later, she said about the cat, "it's a nice color. have you ever seen a cat like that?" my dad agreed the color was nice. "at least it's not black," he said.

sunday was mildly sunny, and we walked down alki beach. my parents and i looked at all the nice houses. i never notice nice houses until my parents point them out. growing up, i thought our house was nice, until my classmates who owned bigger homes convinced me otherwise. all the multi-million dollar homes in alki and seward park had obama/biden signs in their windows and on their lawns. it made me pretty skeptical about how and when things are supposed to change.

when they left, i was happy to have my place all to myself again, but it was sad, just as it's sad whenever someone leaves. it's funny how, at the time, you really hate the mess people make, but when it's over, you wonder why it bothered you so much in the first place.

could result in death.

my dad tried to teach me stuff about cars when i first got my license. he did this so that i wouldn't end up stranded on the side of the road, not knowing how to change a tire. one of the things he showed me was how to restart the battery with jumper cables. i fumbled around trying to figure out how to get the hood up. i always have this problem with cars. any time i've needed to look at the engine, i somehow forget where to unlatch the lever. he showed me how to connect the red grip with the red bolt, the black grip with the black bolt. it was pretty idiot-proof. and then he said, "be careful. sometimes it blows up." "what? what do you mean 'blows up?'" "it blows up," he said. "it explodes."

yesterday, i took the earlier bus home. i did laundry, made a baked potato with sour cream and cheese, and then i watched the wire. i said to myself, "i need a motherfucking 7-up to choke this shit down." i went down to the small liquor store underneath my apartment. they sell ramen, sodas, and beer. it's a pretty sad looking shop. i grabbed a bottle of 7-up. "$1.60," the man said. i only had $1.15 in change, so i pulled out my debit card. "there a charge for debit?" i asked. "yes," he said. "forty cents." "forty cents?" i did the math in my head. $2.00 for a small bottle of 7-up? what was the world coming to? i asked how much for just a can. "sixty-nine cents," he said. "i'll just grab a can," i said. there were no 7-up cans, though. i choked my baked potato down with the inferior product, sprite.

i don't understand the extra charge when using a debit card. it's always something ridiculous, and it always happens at gas stations and liquor stores. they never tell you, either. it'll just show up on your bank statement. an extra forty cents so you just paid the full dollar or whatever for a goddamn crunch bar. i don't know why this has started happening, but it has. i remember the first time someone told me, "there a twenty-five cent charge for debit." "well, just run it as credit then," i answered. it's the same fucking thing. i obviously have a major credit card label on my debit/credit card, so just do whatever saves me the fee.

i've had this cold for about a week now, and it sucks. i keep spitting green shit into the trash can. i'm sure my co-workers appreciate it a lot. today, i decided i needed to get away from the computer, so i went to the library to listen to last monday's "this american life." it was halloween stories, and it was pretty good. i saw that the writing center was now on the second floor, but i didn't go in. i would've gone in, to see what fools had been hired for this academic year, but i didn't. "just poking my head in," i would've said. "i used to work here. although it wasn't here. it was in the engineering building then." the consultant would nod and half-smile. i can't have that. i can't. i'm not one of those guys.

it's friday and people are working. students sit outside and type type type on their laptops. in the office, people type type type on their desktops. people make calls and the clouds drift by overhead. this is insufferable, i say. this is wonderful, i say. i could be scrubbing toilets, serving coffee. i could be here at my desk, pouring myself out to anyone who will listen via blog. is it better? is it worse? the optometrist doesn't know it, but sometimes both one and two look equally blurry.
dear alex n.

dear alex,

i wonder if you are as bored as i am right now. i wonder if you are slowly decaying in an office somewhere in california. i hope you didn't screw up, and that you are actually doing what you like to do. i wonder if you ever went to pepperdine. you were always wearing that stupid pepperdine sweatshirt at basketball games. i don't know why you were so into pepperdine.

you were tall and you got even taller. how'd that work out for you? we used to call you "nipples" because it rhymed with your last name. then, someone started a rumor that you had a third nipple, or maybe it was just a mole, but either way, it earned you the nickname "triple nipple." sometimes people got lazy and it was just "nips," or "trips." it probably would've gotten old. it got old, didn't it.

we were in cub scouts together and then later, boy scouts. remember that shit? what a waste of afternoons. i mean, i don't think it would've been a total loss if we had kept in touch because then there would have been a reason for our parents to try and get us to socialize, right? i think about this a lot. how much time we've wasted, or more accurately, how much time our parents and teachers wasted, trying to get us (well, not specifically you and me, but you, me, and the others) to socialize, and how their efforts completely failed now that we don't even speak.

let's face it. i don't know what you do, and you don't know what i do. sometimes my mom gives me updates. a few years ago, she said that she ran into your mom at the grocery store and your mom said that you were now going to school somwhere and studying something or other. how'd that work out? you now have a b.a. or an a.a., or maybe an m.a., but really, it's all just b.s., isn't it? maybe you followed your dad and got your social work degree. it's a lot of work and little pay, but the work satisfies, so they say.

i saw your facebook photos a few years ago. you posed as napoleon dynamite, or maybe it was screech. those characters did remind me of you. not that you were a total dork or spazz or anything. just that you were tall, lanky, and had curly hair. nothing else. i don't think i remember a single conversation we've ever actually had. but we must've talked about something. i must've said something that got me invited to all your birthday parties, where you or your parents always made us watch some stupid ernest movie. ernest goes to camp, ernest goes to jail. why didn't ernest just go to hell already.

i remember once a bunch of guys, i think lucas and paul, stayed up all night playing mortal kombat. i went to bed around two, and i thought that was late. earlier in the night, we played nerf guns and talked about girls. you brought out nirvana's nevermind, and you pointed at the boy's penis on the cover. you were laughing at it. paul told you to shut up. "shut up, nips. bet you don't even know what that is." paul was always such an asshole. but he meant well.

i remember when you puked at the christmas pageant in second grade. you got half our class sick. i had the stomach flu for a week. all i could do was drink 7up, which wasn't so bad, but i didn't like the vomiting. it was the first time i vomited uncontrollably. you didn't know it then, but you've impacted me in a deep and significant way. when i could finally eat again, and actually hold something down, i had my dad buy me my favorite meal: a burrito supreme from taco bell. surprisingly, i didn't puke again.

i wonder what you do now. i wonder if it's something to do with computers. maybe you got into real estate. it's a bad time for that, you know. i wonder what your older sister is doing. married, probably. with kids running through the backyard, picking up stones and grabbing fistfuls of dirt and grass.

just the way we did when we were their age.
i'm just doing what i'm told.

i went into the business office to get some petty cash. the old woman who works there was arguing with another old woman who works on the fourth floor. fourth floor said, "where's my order? i put the order in two days ago!" business office said, "no, you didn't. i didn't get any order like that from you." "you did. do you need me to forward the email to you again?" "yes, do that." they both sighed and went their separate ways. it was strange to see business office so huffy, since she's like a nice old grandma. she's gotta be at least 70 something. i wouldn't be surprised if it was 80.

then, at the dentist's office, the two receptionists were arguing. "his insurance doesn't cover that." "i know, but i need to put it down anyway." "well, why? it doesn't matter." "i'm just doing what dr. lee asked." "i don't know why you need to do that." "i'm just doing what i'm told." it was weird to see them argue so openly, in front of patients. it didn't get out of hand or anything, but still, they were talking to each other really condescendingly. some people, man.

the dentist recommended i come back for a "deep cleaning." "what's that?" i asked. she showed me the crooked little needle. "basically we use this, and we get under your gums." in the waiting room, i had to listen to the radio station that all dentist offices are always playing. why is it that when you go to the dentist, they're always playing some soft rock station, making people listen to jewel, u2, and r.e.m.? and then there's the disney movies and computer magazines. and national geographic. nobody reads national geographic. nobody.

i talked with my friend via gchat about obama. "it's pretty inspiring," he said. "yeah," i said. "doesn't it just make you want to quit your job and do something that matters?" "yeah," he wrote back, "but then i wouldn't be able to eat."

it's raining today, and i'm forced to ask myself again what i'm doing in seattle. i don't mind. i carry my umbrella and zip up my sweatshirt.
damn it feels good to be a gangsta.

people were honking their horns last night. just driving up and down the streets, honking their horns. two black men were arguing at the back of the bus. i couldn't hear much, but i could tell they were arguing. "i still don't think it represents real change in america," one said. "you're wrong," the other said. "if i had grown up in the 1940's, then..." unfortunately, i couldn't hear the rest of it. out on the street, there was a black man walking around chanting, "obamaobamaobamaobama," and when someone else would yell "obama!" the man would yell "obama!" back.

katie couric delivered the news to us. i would've preferred stephen colbert or jon stewart to do it, but no one i know is willing to pay for cable. before the news, though, john got up and left for a while. "where is he?" i asked emily. "showering. ironing his obama t-shirt," emily said. sure enough, john came out wearing his obama t-shirt. it was a strange thing to see the black man winning. it felt unreal. a black man as president? that only happens in hollywood doomsday films. was a comet coming to blow up the earth?

we watched tv for what seemed a long time, waiting to hear mccain's concession speech and obama's new and improved hope speech. my mom called me and said, "did you hear the news?" i texted jacob, and he texted back, "i'm da best, man. i did it." john and i got lit and started singing "gangsta lean." john mccain's rally became a lot funnier. "look at all the hurt white people," i said. "it looks like the video for 'everybody hurts.'" i relished in the thought of white supremacists overturning bar stools in disgust and disappointment across hick towns throughout middle america.

it was a good night and emily made good chili. it's not often i see the majority of people i know getting what they want.
you don't love jesus, do you.

yesterday, i sat in on a discussion about initiative 1000, the washington proposal to legalize the "death with dignity" act. it's a complex issue, and eventually, predictably, it got all tangled up with abortion. one student opposed assisted suicide for "religious reasons, but [he] could think of a plethora of philosophical reasons as well." i wonder what part of the bible told him not to support assisted suicide. was it where herod's stepdaughter asks for john the baptist's head on a platter? maybe it was when lot's daughters get him drunk and ride him in a cave.

people who take the bible literally have never really irritated me all that much. some of my friends and other classmates really can't stand it when these religious fanatics use their beliefs as argument, or when they quote certain parts of the bible. but to me, these guys are a lot like hardcore fiction geeks. you know, like those guys who are so into buffy the vampire slayer that they write their own stories based on the characters, or else roleplay in various buffy themed chatrooms. that's all churchgoers and the religious right are to me - avid readers, lovers of fiction.

i don't get church. i used to go to church every weekend because i had to. when i got my driver's license, i told my mom i would go on my own, but i didn't. i became a non-churchgoer and a liar all in one year. instead, i drove somewhere else. sometimes i would just drive. gas was cheap, so it didn't matter. those were the days when i could just drive and drive because it was cheap and i was too apathetic and too alone to care anymore about salvation. after 9/11 happened, i went to church with my parents. my mom said, "it took an act of war to get you to go to church." i could tell she was disappointed, but i didn't care.

i once tried to talk to my mom about what i had been learning in my theology classes. i wanted to convince her that religion was bullshit, that it was all just made up stuff some random people strung together many, many years ago. but she wasn't having any of it. she said something along the lines of, "i believe what i believe," or "i have faith," and that was the end of it. no discussion. she felt that she was too old and had invested too much to try and think otherwise.

once, when i was really young, my mom said, "you don't love jesus, do you?" i didn't even know the guy, how was i supposed to answer? i answered vaguely. "umm, yeah, i do. i guess. why?" "you never say it." "when am i supposed to say it?" "when you pray." "alright, i'll say it when i pray."

when i got to college, it turned out everyone was either really religious or atheist. i started going to church with my roommate, though i don't know why. it was a smaller chapel, and people were my age, so i thought it would finally be a chance to be a part of a real catholic community, unlike what my family experienced at st. ignatius. let's face it. i wasn't hippie enough for ultimate frisbee, and i was too lazy to join an actual sports team, and what were we gonna talk about in the asian-american club? catholicism was the answer. a bunch of young, repressed, guilt-laden individuals were ready to embrace me.

it didn't quite turn out that way. church was church. it was the same boring stuff. heard a passage i've heard before. sit, kneel, stand. another passage i've heard before. sit, kneel, stand. chant something. homily. bread and wine. go forth in peace. another hour wasted when i could've been watching the simpsons and malcolm in the middle. i went to church after my grandma died in february 2002. mary saw me going. "gonna offer up some prayers?" she said. "yeah," i said. andrea, my roommate's temporary love interest, offered a "prayer for a friend" aloud, and i wondered if that was for me.

eventually, i stopped going. i didn't quite understand why i had been going again, even when i didn't have to. was it because my roommate was going? did i feel better after it was over? was it just something to do on a sunday night? i once complained to some friends that all these students i saw in church were a bunch of hypocrites. i said i knew that they were a bunch of druggies, rotten fornicators, what-have-you. but the truth was, i didn't know what i was talking about. i didn't know any of these people, or what they did when they weren't seeking salvation.

the argument doesn't make sense. if it did, we should all be afraid to say "voldemort" out loud, and we should observe the mad tea party every may 4th. why don't we all just live our lives according to every piece of fiction we've ever read? because it wouldn't make sense. but going to church every weekend and praising three entities who are actually one god does. people argue, it's directly from the word of god. but god's in everyone, so isn't every writer also god?

i am god and you are god and this is what god has to say: words are words. nothing holy or sacred about them. nothing at all.
in your stupid yellow car.

meagan and i went ghost-hunting at the harvard exit theater. well, not really. we went to go see happy go lucky, and we talked about how the theater was haunted. she had read in a read right book that some woman's head appeared in the theater. i don't know if that meant an actual head or an apparition, but either way, the place is supposedly haunted. i read somewhere that women were occasionally seen floating down the staircase. meagan said that the theater used to be a place held for women's suffrage. "a woman's right to vote?" i asked. "yes," she said. "then why's it haunted?" "i don't know," she said, "maybe they don't like you."

i expected way too much of happy go lucky, and even though it was still a really good movie, i wanted it to be the next amelie or something. poppy, played by sally hawkins, was entertaining and fun to watch. the movie made me wonder why i haven't yet taken up flamenco or trampolining. hobbies are what save us from ourselves. i think i'll sign up for swimming lessons at the connolly center. maybe they have a trampoline, too. i'd like to trampoline.

i woke up around 1:30 this morning and thought of the woman's head. i don't know why this stupid thing scared me, but it did. i just thought i would look up and see some strange woman's head, and then i had trouble falling back asleep. and i thought about her head showing up on my laptop's background, and that freaked me out even more. then i started thinking about christians speaking in tongues. i thought about that minister extracting sarah palin's demons, and it took a while for me to get back to sleep.

i've had a cold all weekend, so saturday i slept until three in the afternoon. when i woke up, i saw that i had a youtube comment on an au revoir simone cover i didn't even know i posted. see, i played a bunch of covers on the guitar and taped myself via my laptop. i tried to upload some, but the audio was off. so i deleted some, tried to reupload some, and at this point, i don't even know what's working. the best is when i'm uploading one, and then it gets up to 100% and then it'll say, "upload failed." gotta love technology.

there's this student who comes in and needs things from me. she swears that she has sent me emails about that which she is trying to communicate to me, and i never have any clue what she's talking about. when i try to pry, she sighs, jokingly, but i think that secretly, she is annoyed that we aren't on the same wavelength. i told her that there's an undergrad who shares my name, and maybe her emails had gone to him. she's a funny girl, though, always looking stressed and not getting any sleep. "it's just law school," i want to dismissively say to her, though i actually don't have a clue what the students are going through.

i've been reading jenny and the jaws of life, as recommended by emily. the author's writing is all over the place, and for that reason, i like it.