no one can find you.

"can you believe that we're alive?"
"that we're alive. right now."
"i believe it, but i don't know what you're getting at."
"that it's a fuckin' miracle, man."
"what's the miracle?"
"you and me, right here, having this conversation."
"what's so miraculous about this?"
"oh, i don't know. that you and i are meeting right now in the year 2009?"
"i'm not following."
"come on, man. both you and me were created in such a period of time that we are able to have this conversation at this very specific moment in time."
"that's not a miracle. that's just coincidence."
"no, no! no, it's not just coincidence. it's not co-in-ci-dance. it's sacred and miraculous is what it is!"
"i talk to a lot of people. those supposed to be miracles, too?"
"yes, yes it is."
"i don't see how."
"well then, i feel bad for you. i truly do, brother. you are blind."
"yeah, but you're crazy. that's just crazy talk."
"i'm just saying what i feel. if you don't feel it, then you're lost. you're truly lost, and no one can find you."
"so, let me get this straight. just because you and i are talking in a city where millions of other people live and talk to each other all the time, that's a miracle?"
"just forget it. you didn't believe then. nothing i say now can convince you."
"what? that just because i didn't die at childbirth, or that i was born in ethiopia, or that i haven't been killed in a car crash yet, i'm supposed to think this a miracle?"
"you got the wrong attitude, brother. you got it all wrong."
"no, but that's what you're saying, though, isn't it?"
"that's not what i'm saying at all."
"you're saying that this, waking up, breathing, talkin' with people, going to work, taking a shit. these are miracles?"
"just forget it. forget what i said. i don't care for your tone, brother."
"i'm just trying to follow your line of thought."
"no, no you're not. you're ridiculing a truth i've brought you today. i've brought you this nugget of truth, and you've shown that you're not ready for it."
the best part was the sun shining through the window.

she sprawled out on my bed, the one i had when i was little. it was that child's bed with a second bed underneath it. not quite a bunkbed. i don't know what it's called. they probably don't make them anymore. school had just started, and it was obvious i had missed quite a chunk of it, but that didn't seem to bother me. "so, how was it? did you have fun?" "yeah, it was great," i said. i was standing, or sitting in a chair next to my closet. outside, the sun was shining. it shone through those dusty yellow venetian blinds, the ones my mom has wanted to replace since forever.

"everyone looks so different now," she explained. "alex is really, really cute. and ben got so hot." i must have shook my head. i made it clear i didn't give a shit about things like that. this was supposed to be about me. and maybe a little bit about her. "you look good, too," she said. it was an aww, shucks kind of moment. i knew she was just trying to be nice, and that she didn't really mean it. still, it was nice to receive a compliment. they are few and far between coming from anyone these days.

"i heard your brother really likes it over there," i said. "yeah," she said, "he loves it." "what does he do?" i had meant professionally, but her answer indicated otherwise. "he drinks and parties and buys whatever the hell he wants." living on the first level. is that what it's called? and who said it? aristotle? descartes? did it matter? "did you go to moa?" she asked. "yeah, mall of asia? yeah, i went there." "i don't think it's called mall of asia," she said. "i'm pretty sure it is. there's a razon's there. they have the best halo-halo ever. let's go get some," i said.

we walked into the next room, but it was the jam room at the rosemont house. i found it interesting that the halo-halo, even though it was just ice cream - vanilla and ube - was in the jam room. my dad was already scooping some up. "you guys read my mind," he said. he took a big scoop from the vanilla.

this isn't making any sense, i said to myself then. and now.

i didn't really like the film science of sleep when i first saw it. expectations were too high, probably. but now i'm really starting to see how dreams become more vivid and absurd the more dull one's reality gets. i see myself at the copy machine, struggling to remedy a paper jam. i see myself clicking the reply button to email after email after email. i see myself grateful for just having a job after reading about a man who kills his wife, his five children, and then himself all because he lost his.

it doesn't make any sense, i thought after reading that. and now.
do you know how to do it now?

judas and jesus are sitting at a red table at jesuit high school. the school day is over , and jesus is looking over his global studies book, while judas is listening to his ipod. judas likes the band he is listening to okay, but really, he is interested in them because of their name. they are called judas priest. jesus thinks judas is kind of stupid for liking a band just because of their name. jesus prefers abba and the rolling stones.

meanwhile, pontius pilate is roaming the halls, messing with boys left and right. it's the usual, random bullying pontius is known for: taking books from passersby and tossing them, punching boys in the penis, and kicking boys in their butts with his muddy shoes. pontius thinks he's a riot; everyone else just thinks he's an asshole.

"nice hair, hippie," pontius says, flicking some of jesus' hair back. "what are you, a fucking woman?" jesus doesn't know how to fight back, so he just glares at pontius. when his mother glares at him, it is enough for him to know to stop doing whatever it is he's doing. it doesn't, however, seem to have the same effect on pontius. "and what are you listening to, faggot?" he is now addressing judas. jesus, though still clearly annoyed, is slightly relieved that the focus is taken off himself. "judas priest," judas says. "judas priest? ahh, that guy was a faggot. you do know that right? you would listen to a faggot, faggot!" pontius walks off, laughing to himself.

judas takes his headphones out of his ears and stuffs the ipod into his backpack. it's a gray and brown jansport backpack, and he has some patches and pins on it. there is a judas priest patch and other, similar hard rock bands. "what an asshole. i fucking hate that guy." "don't worry," jesus says, "he'll get his one day." "not soon enough. i can't wait 'til he fails out. fucking retard." at this moment, judas pulls out a binder, and inside is a high society adult magazine. he flips through the pages, and jesus looks over. he's only human after all. there is an obscene picture where two older girls are wearing nothing but ties and cat ears.

"put it away!" jesus says, "dean's coming." the dean walks by and doesn't say anything to the boys. he is wearing his usual get up: tie, slacks, dress shirt with rolled up sleeves. he doesn't even acknowledge the boys exist. jesus thinks that, if he were dean, or any staff or faculty for that matter, he would at least try to be sociable and say 'hello' to the students every now and again. but the dean doesn't even try. nobody there seems to try. the only sort of communication at that institution is "somebody pick up that trash," or "tuck in that shirt," or "you've all got j.u.g. (detention)."

"who's a bigger asshole, you think?" judas says. "pontius or the dean?" "your mom," jesus says, shaking his head. jesus tries to return to his global studies book, but he has trouble concentrating. he has these moments of panic, moments where he really convinces himself that he is, in fact, in prison, serving a minimum four-year sentence. he wants to break down. don't be ridiculous, he tells himself. be a man. be a man for others. you don't hate this place more than anybody else. you're not worse off than anyone else.

"so, how's mary?" judas asks. jesus snaps out of it. "alright, i guess." "you nail her yet?" "no. come on, we've known each other, what? three weeks?" jesus met mary magdalene at a dance. she was dressed kind of trashy, but jesus didn't mind. in fact, he kind of liked it. since then, because neither is old enough to drive yet, they have only been talking through text messages and instant messenger. "that girl's a real slut," judas says, "you'd better make sure you wear a condom." "like you'd know," jesus says. judas' father arrives. "see you tomorrow," jesus says. "yeah, later," judas says.

from out of nowhere, a black man approaches jesus. it is quite obvious this man is homeless, and he might be a little bit crazy. "do you know it?" the black man asks jesus. "do you know how to do it now?" he says. jesus only looks at him, peers into his dark eyes.

at that moment, campus security arrives and escorts him off the premises.
gonna do what i'm gonna do 'til i'm through.

black man on the bus says, "i used to do yoga." he is talking to his black female friend, an older woman, who is sitting behind him. "oh, stop it," she says. "no, i'm serious." "just stop it right now," she says. "you don't believe me? life is short, you know. like me? i'm gonna do what i'm gonna do 'til i'm through. 'cause you gonna die. it might be fifty years from now, it might be sixty. that's why i'm gonna enjoy today." his lady friend didn't pay him no mind. "you wanna get off here and wait for the 7?" "no," he said, "this might catch up to the 7."

this morning, some snow came down, but it wasn't enough to close the school. some weak ass snow. still, i checked my work email from home, hoping that message would come down from up top. "school closure due to snow day," the subject would read. then i would jump back into bed and sleep for five more hours. alas, it didn't happen. as i boarded my usual bus to work, i thought, "slip, slide. tip over, so i don't have to go to work." unfortunately, my wish kind of came true, as the bus drove right into the car in front of us. the girl who i sometimes see on the bus who looks like the girl from sleater-kinney got up and inspected what was wrong. i didn't get up. pretty soon, we all had to deboard the bus and walk to the next stop.

stacey complimented my small bag which has the design of a cassette on the front. i said, "thanks," but i couldn't say more than that because i was on the phone. sometimes, i wonder if they think i am unfriendly because i don't ask them about their weekends or talk baby-talk to their children when they bring their children to work. "it's rough out there," i'd say to those kids, "but you'll probably be okay because your mom/dad has a law degree and a pretty stable job." i would invite my co-workers to lunch every now and then, but i don't have a law degree, so there is a divide. even though they say we are all equal and we are a team, i refuse to believe them. pay me more, give me real responsibilities, and i will believe you. hell, i might even pick up the tab.

i am twenty-six years old and i ride the bus, and if that bus breaks down, i gotta walk to the next stop to wait for the next bus. sometimes, i worry too much that my life is ending one day at a time, and i'm not exactly doing what i gotta do 'til i'm through. i make egg salad sandwiches for lunch, and i tell lisa to not lower my chair when i sometimes catch her sitting in my chair. i check gmail constantly throughout the day, waiting to read the few non-work-related emails i occasionally receive, and i chat with my friends who are in school, are unemployed, or are sitting in offices like myself. we are all part of the revolution we are too apathetic to intiate.

i found out tonight that loretto high school in sacramento is closing due to the terrible state of our economy. goodbye, catholic school girls. personally, i wish it was jesuit they would close, what with all its overt racism, classism and homophobia, but that's just me. i call for the closing of all catholic schools for that matter. god is a trinity but really one. jesus, is it any wonder i'm so confused about everything.

when we catholics fall, we fall hard.
the snow come down.

my aunt called to say that she had found a four-bedroom unit in makati, near my uncle's place. she also told me that my mom plans to retire after her 62nd birthday, this february. "oh," i said. i couldn't think of anything else to say. my aunt has made it pretty clear that she wants us to be closer, to live near her in the philippines. i imagine it is because she is lonely, working for the airline and all. i understood then that it was a possibility, that i could say goodbye to this thing called the united states. even if i failed at my dream of becoming a writer or worse, a teacher of writing, i could always carry baggages for very important people.

as these thoughts swam through my head, a brown-skinned man in an orange jacket lifted my umbrella and part of my bag. his rude gesture signaled that he wished to sit down. i didn't quite get it, since there were many open seats around me. i wanted to say, what's your problem. why are you grabbing at my shit when you could easily sit anywhere else. the bus rolled up jackson, through the international district, and outside a grocery store, someone was lighting off some fireworks.

"oh. hahaha," the man next to me said. "what is that for?"
"chinese new year," i said.
"oh. yeah. chinese new year."
"you chinese?"
"no," i said, "filipino."
"oh. from the philippines."
i nodded.
"me, i'm from south africa," he said.
"oh yeah?" i said.
his accent was thick, and i prepared myself to not be able to understand him. he sipped his coke. "what time is it in china?"
"i don't know. morning, probably."
"morning today?"
"no, morning tomorrow. i think."
"oh yeah. then new year's was yesterday for them."
"no. i think it would be new year's day now."
"oh. oh. yeah."
"you see, there are very important numbers. numbers is very important for chinese people. in philippines, when is their new year?"
"january 1st," i said, "same as here."
"oh. same as here."
"you see, in south africa, there is thirteen months. their calendar much much different."
"oh really?" i'd never heard such a thing, and it didn't quite make sense, but i bought it.
"yes, like in china. their calendar very different from the rest of the world. they're not in touch with the rest of the world."
again, i nodded. i would be doing a lot of nodding for the remainder of the conversation.
"in china, there is communist. everybody is pay the same, so it make life difficult. the same is like cuba. if you live in cuba, you can work, but you will not make living. not like here."
i kept nodding.
"but now you know, it is even difficult here. the last eight years with w. bush? fucked up! am i right?"
"you're right," i said.
"but hopefully, things are getting better, you know. for the dark man with obama. before, it used to be terrible for the blacks, my country especially." he paused for a moment, and then he said, "it's tough to leave your country."
the last phrase hung in the air. i couldn't help but take it as a sign. my aunt had just gotten through telling me that my mom and dad were ready and willing to retire to the philippines, and all of a sudden, this guy lays it on me. and nobody - i mean nobody - ever talks to me on the bus. it's tough to leave your country.
"how long have you been here?"
"sixteen years," he said. "and you?"
"i was born here." he nodded, and i felt guilty. i may as well have said, i won the citizenship lottery. ha-ha.
"what you do?" he said. "you a student?"
"no, i finished already."
"oh. finished. that is good, that is good. where do you work now?"
"i work at the school."
"you teach?"
"no, no. i work in the office."
"oh. work in the office. and what did you study?"
"writing," i said.
"writing for? like newspaper or magazine articles?"
i didn't quite know how to break it to him. writing silly little stories that go nowhere. writing about everything and nothing in particular. things like this, just you and me talking. "umm, writing like short stories. fiction. literature."
"ah, okay," he said.
"what about you?"
"i am a student."
"what are you studying?"
"well, my english is not so good. i am still trying to better my english, then someday, hopefully, i can go into medicine."
"do you go to the uw?"
"no, south seattle community college. i am still taking basic english courses, then one day i can transfer to uw or seattle university. or, there is a school in spokane?"
"yes," i said, "gonzaga."
"yes, that is it. gonzaga."

he must've been in his mid to late thirties, and he was still chasing a dream. i couldn't help but feet guilty about my station in life, having everything but dreams. the whole thing felt surreal, almost like i was the main character in waking life, where all these strangers would just lay these heavy things on him, and he wouldn't know what to make of them. i wondered if this south-african future med student was someone, something i had just created in my mind. i pulled the line, and i said, "take care." suddenly, he got up and said, "this is my stop, too," which made it even more creepy. we both got off at my usual stop, and as we crossed the dark street, he said, "you, as long as you try for the best, it will be good for the future."

these strangers who tell me these things. it's almost as if they know me, they know this story i'm trying to tell.
it's not a problem, it's french.

she comes home and makes dinner. i don't know, maybe they've got a maid and she doesn't have to do that. okay, let's say there's a maid. the maid makes something, typical american food. maybe it's just a matter of putting frozen lasagna in the oven. maybe she's from ecuador or guatemala, and she doesn't really know how to cook anything except for native dishes. they would eat it, until one of the girls got food poisoning. then, it was goodbye spicy stuff and hello safe, pre-made dinners.

she says hello to the girls and the girls are happy to see her. hugs and kisses all around. and then it's tv for them for a little while. cartoons - nickelodeon, disney, or something, anything colorful and cheerful and bursting with life. this gives her a chance to check her messages, get the mail. then she'll put on cnn. "is dinner ready yet?" "not yet, ma'am." the husband has called, says he will be running a little bit late. but that's okay. he's a good man. they'll forgive him, they'll forgive him.

more cnn and she is ready to fall asleep, though it's close to dinner time. she has plopped herself down on the leather loveseat, the one she originally hated but quickly learned to love. the girls, in the other room, are allowed to watch as much tv as they want. they're not old enough for homework yet, and anyway, there will be no tv on the weekend. that's the rule, as backwards as it sounds. sometimes, they try to do the opposite, as they keep seeing how almost all other parents are failing in just about every way imaginable.

she downs a half a bottle of red wine. it's not a drinking problem, it's the french way. the heater keeps her warm. it's set at a nice sixty-eight degrees. the wine warms her up even more, and she remembers something about how alcohol doesn't really make her warm but just gives her the illusion of warmth. that and wolf blitzer blabbing on about crisis in the middle east just makes her want to give in to sleep. can't do it, though. because then she won't be able to sleep tonight. the whole cycle of sleep and work and after-work will be thrown off completely. such a dilemma.

dinner is ready, and at that precise moment, her husband arrives. it's like a fairytale moment, and she's no longer sleepy. they eat dinner, and talk about the day. there's nothing unpleasant about it, except maybe a burp from one of the girls followed by a small reprimrand. "say, 'excuse me.'" "excuse me." it's just manners and talking. none of the heavy stuff, the bad stuff, comes - at least not for a while. she finishes another glass of wine.

that night, she closes her eyes and prays. she prays that they can all stay like this for as long as they can.
i go out sometimes.

"aren't you glad it's friday?"
"i guess."
"what do you mean, 'you guess?' it's friday! who doesn't love friday?"
"friday is alright."
"well, what are you gonna do this weekend?"
"i don't know, watch a movie or something, probably."
"that's all you ever do, isn't it? don't you ever go out? you know, drink? have fun?"
"i go out sometimes."
"yeah? like where?"
"i go see my friends, go out to eat every now and then."
"i don't think you do."
"well, it's what i do."
"aren't you gonna ask me what i'm gonna do this weekend?"
"what are you gonna do this weekend?"
"i've gotta help my aunt move. ugh."
"that sucks."
"yeah, it does suck. she didn't even ask me! she just emailed me a list of things she needed done. and she expects me to do them."
"yeah, and she's rich! why can't she just hire professional movers?"
"i don't know."
"that's what i'd do. one day, i'll be rich and i'll hire professional movers. i want them to pack up my stuff for me, and then arrange it the way i want in my new place."
"i think they can do that already."
"really? like, even little knick-knacks and stuff?"
"probably. i think they charge by the hour, so it'd be expensive. but i think they would do it."
"well, when i'm rich it won't even matter. i'm gonna tell them how i want it done."

a woman i work with sometimes has me find/do really random things. a few days ago, she had pictures of an eggplant being cut up, and she wanted me to make a powerpoint presentation of it. sometimes, she will give me just a name like jack hammond (and sometimes the name isn't even correct - in this case, it was jack hamann), and ask me to find some article he wrote. sometimes she will hear a phrase on npr and ask me to find the article/podcast. all these tasks are pretty simple, as it's just a matter of googling them.

today, she wanted me to look up the word "regnant," but in an old english dictionary, as the word has become outdated. she summed up the word for me, though. it means something along the lines of: "returning the sovereign power to the people." basically, it means "power to the people," and so it's no wonder nobody says, "regnant" anymore.

word on the street is that i gotta stay at my gig for at least another year and a half. i've gotta show loyalty to the job. that's all i am, right? my resume. just a couple of dates and words on a page, and i'm even too apathetic to get the nice, ivory kind. and then later, all of this is just one long line between two dates. 1983 - ?

i actually wondered, and this is probably terrible, if my savings was enough to have me live in a slum for the rest of my life. what do the adults do all day, while the children are out begging? there's no tv or internet or anything like that. maybe they just stare at walls. they figure out how to survive. and over here, college graduates serve coffee. i saw this girl, stephanie, working at caffe vita in seward park. maybe she likes serving coffee. maybe she got laid off something "lucrative," and now she's extremely bitter.

talking about 9/11 in a theology class once, someone brought up this whole idea of turning the other cheek. "what are we supposed to do?" this student said, the tension and frustration evident in her tone. "are we just supposed to take it and not fight back?" the professor didn't exactly say it, but his response was something along the lines of, "well, yes. maybe you should consider lying down and dying. pretty much everyone else has to."

the starbucks girls were serving coffee; the asian clerk rang up my groceries. the old white woman with cropped, curly hair was weed-whacking the edges. it's a constant effort to attract more students to attend this school. make a nice garden, and they'll come by the bucketloads, ready to pour money down your greedy jesuit throat. i almost laughed aloud again by the sheer silliness of it all. was there a difference between trimming the edges and hoping/praying that the formula really holds true, that hard work + perseverance really does, in fact, = happiness and prosperity?

we're all just dancing on the line - aren't we?
why is nobody smiling.

"why is nobody smiling?" the old man asked all of us, sitting at the back of the bus. nobody said a word. "everybody looks like a sourpuss," he said. i smiled to myself because he was a grumpy old fart and i thought he might lose it. i thought he might make a scene or do something awful if we didn't smile. nobody smiled, nobody answered. it's been quiet, real quiet on these rides. maybe it's the cold, the fog that's settled in and doesn't seem to want to leave. the only time strangers talk is when one needs directions to catch the 8.

a black girl was listening to her ipod, grooving and lip-synching to her tunes. she was eating some fries from a mcdonald's bag. "you know when the 8 comes?" she asked to no one in particular. "every half hour," this guy answered. "can i catch it down here?" "no," another man said, "you'll want to go to john and fifteenth." "alright, thanks," she said. she put her headphones back into her ears and started moving along with the music once again.

the girl next to me picked up her cell phone. "hello? i'm alright, just on the bus, on my way home. hey, so this guy, i think his name is brett, sent me a message on facebook. well, it was weird. he actually apologized for being mean to me one night at brenda's. i didn't even remember meeting a brett at brenda's! well, apparently he's friends with one of your friends, and that's how he found me. i know! it's so weird..." and then she gets up and walks away.

"did you watch the inauguration festivities last night?" "no, i didn't," i said. i feel bad, mostly because i haven't shown as much enthusiasm for the new president as much as everybody else, so i throw in: "i don't have a t.v." "but you have internet, right?" "yeah, i have internet, but i was watching something else. what was i watching?" i don't have the heart to tell her i watched half a simpsons episode because it was so bad i couldn't finish it, but still, i would rather choose to watch half a bad cartoon than constant coverage of our new president dancing at ten different balls.

i try to change the subject altogether. "cable is really expensive," i say. "i know!" "i mean, it's ridiculous. it's like sixty for basic." by now, another coworker has joined the conversation, or what's left of it. "sixty? that's unbelievable!" "yeah," i say, "my dad added on two filipino channels, and now his bill is like $84 a month." "wow!" i'm not lying to them, though i probably should have, just to practice my lying skills.

me, three weeks ago: "what are you paying for cable now?" dad: "about $84." me: "$84? are you serious?" "yeah, why?" "per month?" "uh huh." "that's ridiculous! how about you not spend that money on cable and instead help out the poor in the philippines?" "i'm gonna do that." "yeah right. you're always asking, 'why aren't the rich doing anything?'" "hey, i'm not rich." "yes, you are. compared to a lot of people, you are." "those people, they have millions of dollars. i don't have that!"

here i am not helping anyone, either. all the more reason to frown while riding the metro.
no drama obama.

so, get this: a black man has officially become president of a country that was previously (ha, just kidding) run by rich white men. and because he is black, and not white, i am supposed to feel like anything is possible, like america really is the country where anything can happen. well, maybe i would feel that way - if i was black. i'm just saying, why did it take so long for something like fucking ugly betty to become a hit show? why did a comedy like harold and kumar go to white castle not get released in theaters until 2004? i'm just saying, who made these decisions?

jaspreet and i recently had dinner at olympia pizza. she's an indian-american in her last year of law school. "can you imagine, what it might have been like if all the indians i knew growing up weren't just gas station attendants and convenience store clerks?" "i know," i said, "name one filipino celebrity!" "i can't!" she answered, then followed with, "name one indian celebrity!" "miss universe," i said, "but i can't even pronounce her name." "aishwarya rai," she said. "oh, kal penn," i said. "yeah, kal penn," she said. i was waiting for her to name john cho, but then i remembered he wasn't even filipino.

i told her this story about when i was in the seventh grade, and we had to make a scrapbook of our autobiography. we had to illustrate the past, present, and future for ourselves. obviously, having no access to anything filipino-related, in the future, i became david schwimmer, and i married courtney thorne-smith. one of my classmates laughed at me. "in the future, you became white!" edgar, the all-time defender of all things filipino, quickly fired back: "whatever! you try and find some pictures of filipinos, or any asians!" i don't know what the other filipino kids did for their future selves. i was too busy caught up in my own world, this future i hadn't thought much about. was i really going to end up white?

i dreamed it was cool to be filipino. okay, i didn't really dream it, but i thought about it. what would my reality be like if it was even just a fad in our culture, even if it was ephemeral? if my cousin had put up pictures of filipinos (and i'm talking some dark ass filipinos from the provinces) on her wall, instead of the sparkly clean jonas brothers? what if there was more than just manny pacquiao and that one black eyed peas song? why did it take me forever to discover a filipino band called imago who i actually kind of like? i don't think i will live to see a filipino-american president, or a mexican-american president, or an indian-american president. but, i'm supposed to be impressed because someone non-white made it, huh?

today has proven that, if you're rich and educated, white or black, anything is possible for you in this country. as for the rest of us, maybe one day we, too, can become black or white.
monster jam.

in college, i kept seeing these ads on tv for monster jam. the ads were always out of control. it featured giant trucks smashing other smaller trucks and the announcer with his deep, guttural, death-metal-inspired voice would always be like, "sunday, sunday, sunday! come see the grave digger!" i never had any interest in going. it fell into that category of stupid things i would never attend: wwf wrestling, a dungeons and dragons night, frat parties, etc.

for some reason, though, i told my friends that i wanted to go. i wanted to see things get destroyed. i wanted to see the mullets, the beer guts, the children who would learn to love nascar. so, emily made it happen. she got four tickets to see monster jam at the tacoma dome. the night before we went, opening night, a child had been killed when a piece of debris shot off one of the trucks and struck the six year-old in the head. despite the pending lawsuits, the show went on.

"i can't believe a little kid got got," i said. "out of like, fifty thousand people, he was the one to die." "yeah," emily said, "but i think that no matter where that kid was that night, he would've gotten it. maybe it was just his time." "wouldn't it be ironic if they got the grave digger to dig that kid's grave?" john said. "i can't believe parents would still take their kids to this," meagan said, "even after they've heard someone else's child got killed." it was all a mystery. what a way to go, though, at a lame ass monster truck show in tacoma. what a tragedy.

at the very beginning of the show, which we had to watch sober (budweisers were $8), some jeeps raced around these barrels. it was not exciting. after some of that shit, there was destruction derby. i didn't quite understand the point of destruction derby. from what i understood, all the drivers in their normal-sized cars would drive around the track and try to knock each other out. it was cool when one car sideswiped another and made that car flip over on its head.

i couldn't believe how bloodthirsty i was getting. i don't know what it was. i guess i felt like, i'm in tacoma, we're freezing our asses off, it's saturday night, there will be blood. i wanted to see something explode or catch fire. i wanted to see trucks plow through trailer homes and annihilate nice looking cars. i wanted to see truckzilla devour the remaining little trucks at the end, and breathe fire through its nose. none of that happened, though. most of the show consisted of little jeep races, and for the grand finale, the monster trucks did a bunch of jumps off ramps and tried to "win." "remember, folks," the announcer said, "this isn't a popularity contest." despite his warning, the crowd still voted for grave digger to win, even though donkey kong did a much better job.

the real fun began much later, while pigging out on ice cream cake and watching teen witch.
silent capitol hill.

i saw jonathan on the bus yesterday. he sat down next to me, and we got to talking. "how've you been?" "not so good," he said. it was the kind of answer i would expect from jonathan. "s.u. decided they had to let me go." he said this as though the school was his employer. "why's that?" "i just kept missing too many classes." i should note that, along with the bus' constant rumbling and jonathan's mumbling, it was a bit difficult to understand him. i could only string together selected phrases, and then somehow, mentally glue them all together to form a coherent answer. "couldn't you just take fewer classes?" he shook his head. "i've already tried that. it was still too much."

from what i understand, jonathan has many problems, but the only one i can truly pinpoint is severe social anxiety disorder. he never really looks at me when he's talking. he'll just look straight ahead and say, "i was only taking ten credits last quarter." "so what are you doing now?" "job searching like crazy," he said. "where are you looking?" "i've tried a bunch of different temp agencies, and i've already heard back from a few." "oh, that's good." it was difficult to keep a conversation going with him. he wouldn't ask me any questions, so it became a very one-sided conversation. either that, or i was a journalist interviewing my subject.

"where have you worked before?" "safeco field during events. never again," he said. "why, was it difficult?" "not really. just the people. so many people." he looked like he was on the verge of hyperventilating just thinking about the experience. "i've also tutored math and worked at a cat shelter." sometimes, too, i would ask him a question and he would just do something weird with his face in lieu of an answer. example: "do you still have friends from high school who live in seattle?" answer: a look like he had just eaten some very bad broccoli.

i've thought about the jobs i've had, the friends i have. my resume must make a little more sense, comparatively speaking. i pictured inviting him over to john's house, as we'd watch really random movies and play rock band. would he sing, play the plastic drum set, or just look really bored and uncomfortable? what's the difference between being shy and having extreme social anxiety disorder? is it just a state of mind. i pictured my friends never saying but always thinking, "why'd you bring this nut along?"

i examined my other motives for the possibility of hanging out with him. would it be just to say that i have a black friend? was it because i felt so bad for him, and knew what it was like to be unemployed and living at home and feeling like the whole world was leaving him behind? i had nothing in common with him. he makes bird noises and weird facial gestures and talks of anime and advanced calculus. i avoided it altogether. i stayed as vague as possible. "send me a message sometime, and maybe we'll go do something," i said.

he nodded, fully accepting that all we'll ever do is talk on buses sometimes.
sighing one minute, shaking hands the next.

a student had arrived and told me that she had an appointment. i went to her adviser's office and knocked on the door.the adviser had her head on the desk. she is my favorite adviser because she is always doing something to show me her disdain for the job. sometimes she will roll her eyes or make a face, but today, she just had her head on the desk. i don't know if she was trying to be funny or what, but i found it pretty funny. she's got a law degree, a husband and two kids. i think i find it so entertaining because it just goes to show, degree or no degree, money or no money, a job is still just a job.

i could see why she rolls her eyes, or else puts her head on the desk. because sometimes, the students will sit on the black leather chairs in our waiting area, and they will discuss their goals, their hopes and dreams with one another. "i want to intern here and here and here..." "oh, that wouldn't be good. you don't want to get in with that firm because..." "oh, i was in [insert foreign country here] last summer, and it was amazing..." i don't know what it would be like to meet with these people day in and day out. it must take its toll.

the funny thing, though, is even after she puts her head on the desk, or rolls her eyes, she is able to come out of her office and greet the student with a smile, like that student is her most favorite student and that she has been waiting for so long just to see that student. now that's what i call professionalism. sometimes, i can hear their conversations through the door. they discuss things like scholarships and cover letters, resumes and work experience. they, we, all want to be a part of the world that runs on niceties, eloquence, punctuality, job security, financial stability, drinks after work, coffee breaks, celebrity gossip.

she is a fan of the twilight series. she talks about this series with her coworkers. before november, it was all about obama. now it's all about twilight. and then, when there's a major news event - like yesterday's emergency landing - she will talk about that. i don't mind it, really. it's what i always expected the office environment to be like. sometimes, she looks over and i get the feeling that she would like it if i joined the conversation. she's even said this once. "you can give us your input, too," she once told me. but i never do. i must come across as judgmental or anti-social or something awful, and i hate that. but really, what am i gonna say about obama and twilight and emergency landings?

maybe next time, i will just rest my head on the desk, too.
dear kathleen.

dear kathleen,

you single-handedly turned me off filipinas, and all asian/asian-american girls for that matter. i don't know what it was. it was my own fault, probably. i stereotyped all of them based on you. i thought that all asian and asian-american women were little rich girl primadonnas who didn't like asian boys like myself. i always thought you and the rest of them were looking to find yourself a white boy.

i have no memories of you, to be honest. i must've thought, here's a little filipina who won't talk to me, won't be my friend. just because we're filipinos doesn't mean we have to speak to each other. but you spoke to edgar, and you spoke to noel. i don't know why you did that. maybe it had nothing to do with race. maybe it was just because they were more outgoing, more confident in their own skin than i happened to be. i don't know how they were able to do that, to turn it all off and force themselves to believe that, yes, i am a filipino-american, but i am just as good as my rich white classmates.

someone once asked you, "can you speak tagalog?" to this, you responded, rather arrogantly, "siempre (of course)." and then you batted your eyes the way you sometimes did when you were trying to be cute. maybe this got the white boys excited, nerdy boys like bobby and greg, the kind of guys i always imagined would lead such lonely lives they would eventually have to resort to mail-order brides from third-world countries. sure, i was lonely, too, but i knew even then, even as a child, that i would never, ever get myself a mail-order bride.

kathleen, you had a brother and sister. maybe they supported you, told you that you were good and special and that they would stick up for you. maybe if someone called you a "chink" you could tell your brother and he would beat that person up, or at least threaten him/her. i heard that your dad was abusive. i'm sorry about that. i wish that you would've said something and then it would've weighed on my mind for so long that eventually i would have to tell a teacher. those types of things are the kind of things that weigh on my mind.

your parents got a divorce, and i heard that you and your brother and sister were excited about that. you were glad that your mom finally left the son-of-a-bitch. his name was gay, but he wasn't gay. it was your mom who was a lesbian, i think. i always got that confused, since his name was gay. i'd have to remember gay = not gay, but mom was gay. i'm not trying to be funny or disrespectful. i'm just trying to get it all out, tell you things i've heard.

your brother lives in the philippines now. he lives near the greenhills mall, which is a nice part of the city. i imagined him sitting in one of those condos, resting his feet on an ottoman, the air-conditioner blowing in his face as he sipped from a tall glass of a lychee shake. those lychee shakes are fucking amazing. i could see him up there, happy that he was no longer being abused, happy that he felt he belonged somewhere. i heard he speaks the language, too. i wish i could do those things, too. speak something other than english, feel like i really belong somewhere.

i tried getting in contact with you four years ago. i added you on myspace, but i don't know why i did that. i guess i have always been trying to reconnect with old classmates and see if we could've been friends. would we have gotten along? did you listen to low and feel insecure and inadequate most of the time? probably not. you had all these provocative pictures of yourself. you called yourself the p-kat, and you were half nude in just about every picture you posted. why did you do those tihngs? did it make you feel sexy? why can't i have the fun that you seem to be having.

the last time i actually saw you was at jamba juice, loehman's plaza. you were with some white girl, and you were both wearing sunglasses. i think she was driving a mercedes or a bmw. i looked over, and i expected you to recognize me. maybe you would come over and give me a hug, the way most people do with other people. the way you would've done with edgar or noel, had either of them been sitting there, sipping on a powersize mango-a-go-go with protein boost. but you didn't. you just walked by, and i didn't have the nerve to call out your name.

i couldn't face the awkwardness. i couldn't bring myself to put you in the situation of having to play catch-up with someone you probably didn't really feel the need to play catch-up with. so, i kept quiet. i drank and drank until you drove away.
i know we're cool.

i crossed paths with this hipster chick by the chapel, and she kind of gave me this look. i'd like to know what she was thinking. there are so many girls in this city that look exactly like her. they've got big earrings, black hair with straight cut bangs that try to say, look, i don't care about how i look, but really, they do care about how they look. she had one of those floral-print dresses that looks like it's vintage, but it's really not vintage, and it's supposed to be cool that it's retro but new. another girl who looked like this girl was a girl who used to work in the mailroom. this girl was stupid because she was outraged that her friend didn't know about judas priest, but when the friend asked her to name a judas priest song, she couldn't do it. breakin' the law, stupid. breakin' the law.

i was walking past the chapel so that i could donate some shit to the thrift store. i used to work at the thrift store, and i always hated it when people would donate random, useless shit. so, of course, that's all i do now. i gave them my broken sunglasses, a flashlight that may or may not work, pants that were too tight to begin with, and some office decorations. i don't know what they will do with it, and i don't really care. it's fun to just get rid of things. there's relief in that.

i passed two women on the street, right in front of the ballet restaurant, where i once interviewed a guy for an interview i was supposed to write up for the hugo house and never did. one woman smelled like fruit loops. i thought about how i was going to write up that interview - it was some doctor who wrote poetry - and i never did. i don't know why i didn't. lazy, probably. but maybe after graduation, i was just sick of having people tell me what to write. thus, this. i'm going to write about a bunch of nonsense, but so long as nobody but myself is telling me to do it, i can be happy doing it.

outside of ballet, there was this kid, probably in his twenties, and he was smoking a cigarette. he was wearing one of those big green jackets that has a small german flag on the sleeve. i've seen that jacket before. i don't understand what it means. is it some sort of secret nazi thing? it's too bad that germany is always associated with nazism, especially when our country has done so much more damage.

i've been reading susan sontag's reborn, and it's amazing. sometimes it's just notes. she'll write something like "box = vagina." and "to have a box = eat a woman." and, "honey, when are you gonna let me have some of that box?" susan sontag was a lesbian, and she went to uc berkeley when she was just 16. already at 16, she knew that college was stupid, and that she was wasting her time studying and writing about obscure topics in the world of literature and academia. i'm a little bit in love with a dead lesbian now.

how terrible would it be to be an academic, though? i think it would really suck. after your students are done with you, they only come back for one thing: a letter of recommendation. the whole time, even if they're arranging coffee dates with a professor, that's always in the back of their minds. "at what point can i bring up the letter of recommendation?" not on the first coffee date, surely. it's all just a pretend relationship until the ex-student thinks he's put in enough time, played e-mail tag long enough to ask.

at qfc, that gwen stefani song, "i know we're cool" was playing. there was this woman with a shopping cart and her two kids blocking the aisle. three balloons were attached to her cart. she apologized for blocking the aisle. people in this city are always apologizing for things they have no control over.

i met this woman in the philippines, a friend of my cousin's, and she is currently living in a hotel in manila with her two kids. i asked if her kids liked it better there or in the states. "they still love wisconsin," she said. i asked why. she told me that her kids didn't like it in the philippines when people would bump them and not say, "excuse me," or when her kids would see people spitting in the street. "i don't want to make it sound like they're snobs," she said, "because they aren't."

we snobby, apologetic americans.
press conference for a jesuit scandal.

today, a press conference was held for the president of the school. father s. is being served with a lawsuit that says he knew about a sexually abusive priest, and that he did nothing about it. it was interesting to see the picture of him on the seattle weekly's website, looking all grumpy and miserable. if i didn't know him, and i hadn't heard him speak before, i would say, "that is one guilty ass priest." but maybe he is guilty, who knows. fuck me if he is (no pun intended). if i can't know one innocent priest in the world, what is left to believe in?

a bird pooped on me today. i remember when my cousin claire got pooped on in the seventh grade. she screamed and pulled at her sweater, in order to get the poop as far away from her as possible. what an awful thing to get pooped on. i thought i would be more upset about it, but i wasn't. not really. i could hear the damn thing as it dropped right by my ear. at first i thought it was rain, or maybe a nut falling from a tree, but then i looked up. and up there sat two birds on a telephone wire. you idiot assholes, i thought.

there was a good poem on the bus today. it was called "new orleans reverie, after volunteering" or something like that. i liked the line that read, "like my sentences, everything here is unfinished." she - of course i assume the author is a woman - also wrote something like "chauntreuse fleur-de-lis." any time an author uses some word or phrase i don't know, i automatically assume she's good. that's why i don't do poetry. i only know words like: "terrible," "exhausting," and "self-deprecating."

at work, i don't know what i am doing. i have a computer and email and a phone and papers on my desk, but i don't know what i'm doing. i dressed up for this. i got out of bed for this. at the end of the month, i will be issued a check and i will use some of the money for food and rent. it's funny when you think about it. walking back from qfc during my lunch break, i saw a bunch of people walking, too. there was a woman riding one of those little carts on campus, a girl locking up her bicycle, and some older people walking by the chapel. it was so hilarious, and i can't even say why.

it was all just so exhaustingly, terribly hilarious to me.
i am so boring here in the office.

jam and i have been emailing back and forth. it's probably a little creepy, but i still think about how she could've been my sister. it might be better this way, to think that i would've wanted a sibling, than to actually have had one. she wrote to tell me that she is bored at work, and that she has been reading the twilight series. she is on book 4, she says. what a coincidence! i, too, am bored at work. i, too, love to read, though i normally tend to stay away from sci-fi and fantasy. my own life, i think, is science fiction enough.

for the first time today, i am wearing a v-neck green sweater that meagan gave me three years ago. i feel comfortable wearing it now that i am fatter and have a white dress shirt to wear underneath it. it is a preppy, nerdy kind of look, but i am comfortable in my attempt to pull it off. i forgot my dress shoes at home, so i've been wearing a pair of pumas my dad bought for me in the philippines. i will wear them until someone says something about my unruly appearance.

this morning, i joined a conference call for the advocate resource center. my boss recommended that i join the call, but she didn't say why. i had no idea what they were talking about. they basically navigated me through their website and i lost interest after about fifteen seconds. still, i hung on the line because then i could at least pretend like i was doing something worthwhile for an hour and a half. what a life, time spent pretending.

i am going to meet my co-worker for lunch. she wants to hear all about the philippines. what will i say? i don't like working here anymore. i don't like living here anymore. i want everyday to be a nonstop drunken party where everything is paid for. i want sex and fireworks and to drive 100 mph on the other side of the road. i want to be spiraling, hurdling out of control on the verge of a perfect obliteration because that's how i've been feeling ever since my year of sleep and hopelessness.

yesterday, after i got off work, i walked to qfc to buy some groceries. the street was so quiet i could hear my footsteps. i once had this thought that no one would bother talking to me, unless he or she needed some change. sometimes, a stranger will ask me, "has the 49 come by yet?" he is asking whether or not the bus has already passed, and even though the bus will come again, he asks because he wants to know whether or not he will have to wait a long time. sometimes, i do this, too. what a silly thing to ask, to wonder if we will have to wait longer than we think we will have to wait for a bus. waiting is waiting, ain't no way around it.

gone was the sound of horns honking, kids playing, sellers selling. "bulat!" "hello, sir. hello, ma'am." in my head, i see this woman in her winter coat, and she's taking her daughter out to the park in the middle of winter so the girl can swing on a swing. it's all very safe, very civilized; the girl's even got one of those knitted hats where the flaps come down over her ears. she will be watched. she will be cared for and educated, until she is old enough, wise enough to make her own decisions. most likely, she will not whore, and she will not beg.

and then i see these kids, half-naked, running through the streets, all smiles and not a care in the world if they get hit by a car or not. somehow, they discovered that losing was acceptable, as long as the game had its moments.
happy days are over.

no one has yet asked me the real question about my trip. what was it like, sitting on a plane next to uncle tim for a total of twenty-three hours? in the mabuhay lounge, i asked him how long our flight would be. "twelve hours to manila," he said, "but first we have to stop in guam. i don't like that." my uncle tim loves to tell people things he doesn't like. so far, i can add prima donnas, interludes in karaoke songs, and layovers in guam to the list.

he had a beer or two while we waited in the mabuhay lounge. he was drinking keystone light, his beer of choice at the airport. everyone knows his beer of choice at home is coors light. we were getting ready to leave the mabuhay lounge when all of a sudden, he asked for another beer. "we don't serve drinks on the plane, sir," the bartender told him. uncle tim knew this. he had, after all, been to the mabuhay lounge twice already that same year. "i'm not going to bring it on the plane," he said. he opened the can and downed it, right there on the spot.

we sat next to each other in the business class section. when the stewardess offered us the warm towels, i said, "this is nice." "i told you," he said. we both looked at the screen ahead of us. he told me that there was a map that showed how long it would take to get to the philippines. "i like that they have that," he said. he ordered another keystone light, while i just had water. later in the night, around his third or fourth beer, he confided in me: "i'm surprised they served me this much."

he ordered arroz caldo for breakfast. the sight of it made me want to vomit. i couldn't stomach any airline food, especially while we were bumping up and down through the pacific's clear air turbulence. i would try to sleep, but mostly i listened to music and looked out the window. the stars were clear as could be. "i can't sleep," he said. "normally, i can sleep, but for some reason, tonight, i can't." i just nodded. it was hard to sleep, as our footrests refused to stretch out far enough for absolute comfort. "your mom can't sleep, either," he said. "she's just reading." i looked over, and sure enough, there was my mom with the light on, reading her book.

for most of the night, while most passengers slept, uncle tim talked with a stewardess. i actually admired this about him. even though he's bald, sloppily dressed, and his face has become slightly wizened by decades of drink, he still has confidence enough to talk to any girl, no matter how pretty, or how young. he told me the stewardess' story. "she's from texas. she's studying to be a nurse while working, too. she's a nice girl." she did seem like a nice girl. it was awful that in my head, i was already wondering what she was doing talking to uncle tim. was she looking to marry for citizenship? did she think he was rich?

it's terrible that these are the intial thoughts that go through most people's brains when one person is talking to another person of the opposite sex. there must be something she wants. where is this world where people just talk and be friends and not have any motives. these only exist in worlds of fiction, the kind students come up with when they're first starting to take creative writing classes. those boring stories where the characters are flat and nothing ever happens.

as we deboarded the plane to begin our vacation, i trailed behind uncle tim. he looked back at his stewardess and said, "merry christmas." i saw him hesitate for a second, it was kind of like that, fuck it, i have to do this kind of a moment. he snuck past me so that he could give her a hug.

i knew that moment. i replay it in my head a lot.
kit mateo killed my uncle.

"patay nang anak ko sa pilipinas." that's what my lolo (grandfather) amang said to my mom one morning when he was working at mike's food store in midtown. he said, "my son in the philippines is dead." the way my mom tells it, he didn't seem that sad. it was like he had seen it coming. after all, my uncle angel was always getting into trouble, most likely for everything from petty theft to aggravated assault. i can't say for sure what was on his rap sheet, as i've never seen it, so i'm only assuming. once, when he ended up in jail, he called my lolo to get him bail. lolo, who must've been fed up by his antics at that point, told him he could stay there, and he refused to bail him out.

i don't know much about uncle angel, other than that he was more or less a gangster who hung out with a rough crowd in the philippines. he died long before i was born, so i never got a chance to meet him, and i don't think i've ever even seen a picture of him, either. growing up, i heard about him, but only that he was shot. how exciting it was to have someone in the family who had gotten shot!

recently, my dad told me as much as he knew about uncle angel's final scheme. uncle angel, who is my dad's half-brother, had somehow acquired a bunch of bogus traveler's checks and he traveled to germany with a notorious and much-feared filipino gangster named kit mateo. along with two other hooligans, they apparently lived it up abroad with the fake money that they had either counterfeited themselves or bought on the cheap. everything was good, until somehow, the local authorities were tipped off.

as the story goes, uncle angel had managed to flush his fake checks down the toilet before the police could search him. the other three, including kit mateo, weren't so lucky. they served time in a german prison, but uncle angel was free to go. naturally, they suspected him to be the rat, but now that he's dead, there's no evidence to confirm or deny their suspicions. he called up his brother in canada, my uncle sisoy, and he said, "if anything happens to me, kit mateo will be responsible."

kit mateo didn't serve much time for the phony checks. eventually, he was deported back to the philippines, along with the others. my uncle angel began hiding out in a hotel, but kit mateo, as well connected and feared as he was, quickly found him. kit mateo was just sitting there in uncle angel's hotel room, waiting for him. no one knows if there was an exchange or not. all anyone knows is that kit mateo put six bullets in my uncle, killing him on the spot.

the police couldn't do anything about it. they were all afraid of him. kit mateo didn't serve any time for murdering my uncle. he died many years later, in his late seventies, of cancer.
why aren't the rich doing anything.

what was it that made me just want to drink every night and act a fool the last three weeks? maybe it was the feeling of finally being free. no larry king and anderson cooper and chris matthews and james carvel and bill o'reilly. no more stupid talks of a failing economy and pointless bailouts. i put aside thinking about having to get my master's to stay competitive to get a job to eventually get married, get an apartment full of newly bought furniture from crate & barrel. there wasn't going to be a gated community and i wouldn't send my kids to private school where they would feel out of place in such a hostile, homophobic and racist environment. fuck my resume and my networking and job hunting skills. fuck my debt, my degree and my isolated upbringing.

susan sontag is my new hero, though i haven't even read her yet. i've only read a little bit about her new book in a time article. this is what she had to say: "i know what i want to do with my life … i want to sleep with many people— i want to live and hate to die—i will not teach, or get a master’s … i don’t intend to let my intellect dominate me, and the last thing i want to do is worship knowledge or people who have knowledge!" maybe i was tired of getting it right, of being the good, obedient kid. i want to disappear and start over. i want someone who really cares to track me down at some hotel and say, "how long have you been here? more than a week?" and i'd say, "more than a week." she'd say, "more than a month?" and i'd say, "more than a month."

my dad asked me, "why do you think the rich don't help the poor in this country?" i told him i didn't know, but why weren't we doing anything? all we did was talk about the poverty in the philippines. we didn't roll down our windows to hand over pesos when some kid came tapping on the glass. we didn't offer to take in those kids washing themselves with water that had collected by the curb. we didn't set up a school or homeless shelter or anything like that. there's a real fear of the poor there, just as there is in america. how was anyone planning to help the poor when they couldn't even walk through a village of squatters to figure out what the people needed?

there's a lot of criticism about programs like peace corps and teach for america. it's a bunch of young, idealistic fools who think they all know the solutions for society's ills. it's easy to say, "oh, they need food and water. they need money. they need education." everyone gets on his high horse when it comes to eradicating poverty and figuring out what's best for everyone else. my thinking wasn't any different when i signed up for americorps, or when i first became conscious about third-world poverty. what i keep hearing, though, is that one has to start small, and start with himself.

most of the time, i don't know if i'm learning anything, or if i'm making any sense. i'm so used to having knowledge handed down to me, to learning in a classroom, that i can no longer tell if i'm growing or just being stagnant. i want to go big and take on many projects and have my life amount to something more than just a few scatterbrained blog entries. i want to finally admit that, like susan sontag, i want to live and hate to die. i don't want a condo full of crate & barrel to be my destiny. i don't want to be in the position of trying to fix my marriage by traveling to foreign countries, or else taking long road trips on long weekends. we will argue and we will fight, and it will all be too much for me to bear.

i've found that i've started doing things and not doing things for the mere sake of writing about them. i've created this world of readers in my mind that may or may not exist, and i live my life to keep them entertained. blog has become my big brother, and i can't do anything too ridiculous or dangerous because that isn't the kind of character i've created for myself. i am living in this world now, i think, as a character in a story that i continue to create. i don't know if that means i'm losing my grip on reality, or if it really is just living in reality and writing about it.

as it turns out, i love my nieces and nephews in the philippines, and i hate that the rest of my family, mostly those living in america, have almost completely forgotten them. they are good kids who've never been to the states, and they are more grateful and respectful than any other group of kids i have ever met. i wish that i could see them more often and converse with them in tagalog. i think it's outrageous that it took my twenty-six years to finally hang out with a group of filipino kids my age.

yeah, i had filipino friends growing up, but i would grow to resent them. there was joseph, but he would close in on himself any time other kids were around. the way i felt about him was probably the way most of my close friends have felt about me. it's like that looney tunes cartoon with the singing frog. this construction worker finds a frog that sings and dances, but only for him. he puts the frog in a lunchbox, and tries to make money off the frog, but when he shows the frog to an audience, the frog doesn't do shit. joseph was my singing frog, just as i have been the sinigng frog to many others. later, he would only care about getting high and downing jose cuervo. not that there's anything wrong with that.

then there was edgar, who had way too much filipino pride. he would carry around a miniature model of the filipino flag, and i would resent him for being such a f.o.b. i think i hated that he thought we were friends just because we were both filipino. in reality, he was what most filipinos would call "mayabang," or arrogant. he would play the piano and think he was the greatest filipino to ever walk the earth. he was the only one who had a date for homecoming freshman year. he took his date to chuck e cheese, and my asian friends and i were supposed to meet him there, god knows why. anyway, he came out of his dad's old busted up van with his date, and he was all dressed up. i felt bad for him then, and i still don't know why.

that's all there ever seems to be these days, feeling bad for people. feeling bad for myself. my new year's resolution is to not have to feel bad about anything, or anyone.
where are you from, mermaids?

lei the hooker stood me up last night. at the adult ktv, she put her number in my cell phone, and i got it into my head that she wanted to hang out. i asked her then, "what's your favorite place to go to in manila?" and she replied, "only here." so, i thought i would meet up with her some place not x-rated, and we would have a good time. we made arrangements to go out to dinner and then to embassy, a club at fort bonifacio. she said she would take the day off, but that she needed what she called a "badget." essentially, that meant i would have to pay her for her escort services, which i had no problem doing.

this was all pretty crazy, since i couldn't really communicate with her. i had my cousin grace text with her in shorthand tagalog back and forth, making arrangements for how we were gonna meet and all that. basically, we had to drop my parents off at the hotel first, hope that grace's mom wouldn't come along for the ride, and hope that tony, the driver, wouldn't rat us out to anyone. but, come wednesday night, when i called her at 8:30 p.m., our meeting time, she said something in tagalog about her not having taken a shower yet. i handed the phone to my cousin, and it must've scared her off. she said that she wasn't feeling well, even though background noises made it sound like she was working. so, there it was. i was stood up by a hooker.

without my escort, last night was still pretty fun. grace and i met up with her friends at a restaurant called zong at fort bonifacio. this guy franco brought along his friend, a french girl named cami. i told her i studied french for a year. j'etudie le francias pour un ans. she asked where i studied. "in seattle," i said. "it's strange to study in french in seattle," she said. "better to study french in france!" she said she was studying business or management or something at atineo, which is like the ivy league school here. i had never heard of it before.

cami had two cosmopolitans, and franco kept ordering beers. after finishing our drinks, we went to the embassy. the embassy is the club i went to on friday with my nieces and nephews. it's a pretty cool place, but the curfew is now 4 a.m., ever since a general's son got killed in a fight there. more of grace's friends showed up, and we had more drinks and danced. the french girl was obviously drunk and was dancing like crazy. i tried flirting with grace's friends, leanne and francine. they both work for pal and they are only a year or two older than me. "which do you like better," leanne asked me, "friday night or wednesday night?" "every night!" i shouted back.

i have to admit that i didn't like filipinas before. after all, the only ones i knew were relatives and bitchy classmates. now, i am all about the filipinas. i don't know what it was, really. maybe it was going to church one sunday and seeing a big filipino family. it looked like something i might want one day. i think i might like sitting at the head of the table and buying dinner for everyone while the kids scream and run around. i know, that kind of thing can happen anywhere, but still, it feels different. these are a people who still have faith, who still believe in god.

leanne has this little girl named chloe. the father is a deadbeat who moved to australia. i had enough beers that i wanted to tell her he was a damn fool, but she looked like she was having a good time, and i didn't want to ruin that. i said the next best thing: "i love this country!" in the philippines, i am always betraying americans by telling other filipinos that i don't ever want to go back. in the states, i betray filipinos by speaking english and eating hamburgers. it's a weird thing to not know your place. maybe it has to do with all this anti-corporate, anti-america stuff i've been feeding myself for so long. why did that arcade fire lyric: "i don't want to live in america no more" resonate so much with me?

it's such a silly thing that children wash themselves with dirty sewer water here, while an ocean away, eighteen year old college kids discuss descartes. it's so ridiculous that lei has to have sex with random guys to make a living while i pull in four times her income by sitting at a desk. that night before we went to the adult ktv, after my cousin and his friends had finished their meal at pancake house, these three children came running up to the table. they ate the leftover scraps of chicken and downed the remaining ice tea. and we were on our way to spend money on hookers. my cousin didn't throw them a single peso. i didn't, either. the security guard shooed them away.

why do the children go barefoot here, knocking on car windows, trying to sell bubble gum, or else to just extend their hands? other kids get to stuff themselves until they're nauseous and learn pointless things like algebra. why should some people have to beg while others get it handed to them easily? the billboards are ridiculously large in the philippines. a giant picture of kc concepcion modeling for bayo dwarfs rows and rows of squatters. who let this happen?

i guess that, in some way, we all did.
almost a john.

when i heard about adult k-tv, i had to find out what the hell went on in there. it was, after all, the place where my uncles had met their 18 - 26 year old girlfriends. so, when my cousin jun-jun offered to take me there for my twenty-sixth birthday, i agreed. he asked, "what do you want? a massage or k-tv?" i was pretty sure i knew what would happen at the massage place late at night, so i thought i might take the safer route.

when we got to the club, something called asian entertainment or something, some shady looking place by the airport, an old man who reminded me of my uncle mike (all old filipinos remind me of uncle mike) shook my hand. he looked like a real pervert and he was wearing a brown sportscoat. he led us to the main room, where two girls were dancing topless on the stage. a guns and roses song was playing. "welcome to the jungle," i think.

i noticed that there were a lot of girls sitting with guys and watching the show. it made me feel a little more at ease, but not really. jun-jun, his friend percy, and i sat down on a black leather couch. "i'm surprised there are a lot of girls here," i said. "they work here," he told me. "oh," i said. after we ordered some beers (san miguel is this country's beer), jun said, "come on, let's go take a look at the girls."

he led me to a part of the room where there was a long velvet curtain. a worker pulled the curtain back and revealed to us probably thirty to forty young filipinas all sitting in a row. "you choose," he said. "what?" i asked. "choose," he said. i looked at them all sitting there, and i felt really fucking bad to be a part of the human race. here were these girls, essentially in this glass box, and if i wanted to, i could do anything with them that i wanted. i didn't want that kind of power.

a lot was going through my head. mostly, it felt like the first time i watched a porno. i was curious and lustful, but i was also filled with disgust and self-loathing. suddenly, the man with the sportscoat, i think he was the manager or pimp - whatever you want to call it - showed up. jun said to him in tagalog, "bring out the pretty ones." we sat back down and a minute later, a dozen girls from the glass room stood before us. "you choose one or two or three," jun said. "umm," i said, "that's okay. you go ahead. you just choose." "no," he said, "you choose." i couldn't look them all in the eye. these were real sex slaves and i knew it. i also knew, though, that my cousin wouldn't let me get away with not choosing. "umm, how about the third from the left," i said.

the girl came over and sat down next to me. she was wearing a black slip and blue thong. in tagalog, i asked how old she was. "elan ta-on ka'na (sp?)?" "nineteen" she said. "anong pa'naalan mo (what's your name)?" "lei," she said. jun chose a girl and percy chose a girl, too. "let's go to the room now," jun said. "what are we going to do there?" i asked. "we'll sing," he said.

we went inside a small room that had some couches. i was really nervous, and it showed. i didn't know what these filipinos did. when we entered, i tensed up when i heard someone say, "blowjob." i was relieved when a few minutes later, cocktails arrived. "what drink is that?" i asked lei. "blowjob," she said. it was on fire, and she blew out the flame. percy leaned forward so he could see me over lei. "you do like this," he told me, and he grabbed his girl's boob. i just shook my head.

i asked lei if she ever danced on the main stage. she shook her head. someone turned on the karaoke machine, and they told me to choose a song. i chose erasure's "a little respect," and i felt a little more at ease again. nothing weird was gonna happen. we were just gonna sing with some strippers. i was okay with that. jun told lei to move closer to me, and something about how she should "teach" me. she took my hand in hers. "lamig nang kamai mo," she said, meaning: your hand is cold. my hand was cold. i was shaking a little bit, too.

two guys in what looked like nurses outfits came into the room. i was really freaked out then. the first thing i thought was, these must be the guys who clean up the sperm. "you want a massage?" jun asked me. "no, i'm good," i said. the man massaged me anyway. "you relax," he said in english. lei asked why i wasn't talking. "my tagalog is weak," i said in tagalog. that's kind of been my catchphrase since i've been here.

lei was rubbing my hands, and i told her in tagalog that her hands were little, which they were. in tagalog, she replied: "of course! i'm little, so my hands should be little. it would look strange if i'm small and my hands were big!" she smelled really good and i told her in tagalog that she was pretty. she moved back and made a face at me. i wrapped my arm around her waist and she sang a song. i think it was a leann rimes or trisha yearwood song, the one that's called something like "you're still the one."

the man with the sportscoat came barging into the room. "come on, boss," he said, "time to go upstairs." jun said to me, "you want to go upstairs?" "what's upstairs?" i asked. lei laughed. "heaven," she said. "umm, maybe later," i said. i had already put it into my head that i wasn't a john. i wasn't going to fuck a prostitute, even if she was cute and even if she smelled good. i knew that if i did, i wouldn't be able to write about it. it would be something i would have to take to the grave.

percy took his girl upstairs to what they called the presidential suite. they came back fifteen minutes later, and his girl was no longer wearing her slutty outfit. she had changed into her normal clothes and her face was expressionless. i should note that percy was this big fat filipino, and i could see why the girl had such a tragic look on her face. it made me worry about lei. did she have to fuck any and every guy who came into this shithole? i wanted to save her. it struck me as absurd that by simply marrying her, i could get her citizenship in the u.s., and save her from being a sex slave. but then she would just be my sex slave, wouldn't she.

"do you have a choice when you go upstairs?" i asked lei. she told me the choice was mine. "no," i said, "i mean, when another guy wants to upstairs with you, can you say 'no?'" she obviously didn't understand my question, as she repeated her answer. "if you want to," she said. "come on," jun said. "you go all the way with these three girls." by then, another one of jun's friends joined us with his own girl, and there were a total of four girls in the room. i told him no. lei called me a virgin.

i won't say i wasn't tempted. i mean, not just two girls at once, but three? jesus christ. it was all so wonderful and so awful, such a fantasy come true, and such a horrible fucking tragedy. looking at percy, i couldn't decide who to pity more: the guy who thinks he's so unlovable that he has to pay for sex, or the girl who doesn't have a choice but to get paid for sex. the thing of it is, though, i don't think percy thought himself a disgrace, or unlovable, the way i had pictured him in my mind. he's a john because in a poverty-stricken country, money can buy anything, even people.

i had fun just sitting there with lei. "you take her upstairs," jun kept saying. "don't worry," he said, "they use condoms." he didn't seem to get it. it wasn't the potential std that scared me off. i mean, how is someone who fucks a sex slave able to live with himself? i don't think i would've been able to, even if meant making the world of fantasy, of pornography, into a reality. that didn't stop me from running my hands up and down lei's arms and legs, though. it didn't stop me from kissing her on the neck and cheek. i knew she was a hooker, but i thought it might be a long time before a girl would let me try something like this again. i felt guilty about it, sure, but somehow i reasoned in my mind that it wasn't as bad as going all the way.

when the other girls learned that it was my birthday, things got a little crazy. they took their tops off and rode me, cowgirl-style, one after the other. they rubbed their boobs in my face. one girl stuck her crotch in my face and sang "happy birthday." another girl took off my shirt and bit down on my nipple while the other girl took my shirt and started rubbing her crotch with it. the whole time, everyone was laughing. one girl, charm, started undoing my belt. "no, no," i said, and i pushed her away, but she pushed me back. "i am the one doing the touching," she said. she reached down into my pants and and started pulling on my junk. i jumped back and said, "okay, enough!" "tulog," she said aloud to everyone, meaning, "asleep." they were in hysterics. i turned red and i must've looked upset. "okay ka'lang?" lei asked me, meaning: "are you okay?" "yeah," i said, nodding.

i rode with percy on the way home. i wanted to ask him how he felt about paying girls for sex and was it necessary to do such things. instead, i just asked how much the night cost us. "it's $300US for the v.i.p. room and another $50US to go upstairs." i nodded, thinking only of the girl with the expressionless face. "that's cheap," i said. he agreed, and we didn't say much else.