characters on my bus route.

filipino elvis:
there's a nurse who rides the 9 with me, and i see him just about every morning. i know he is a nurse because he wears blue scrubs, and i know he wants to be elvis because of his giant gold sunglasses. even when there are seats available, he prefers to stand. he likes to stand by the backdoor. i inspected his hair closely one day, and i came to the conclusion that he is wearing a toupee. he speaks in tagalog with some other filipinos who also ride the 9.

the skirt:
there's a girl who always wears knee-length skirts, no matter what the weather is. it could be raining and freezing out, and she'll still be wearing a skirt, usually with a jean jacket to cover her top. she's a pretty girl, and i think that she is half black. she rides the 9 almost every morning, too, and she usually sits near the front. sometimes, when the front is too full, she will stand, and all the guys in the back will be checking her out. once, the bus driver asked if anyone knew sign language, and she was the only one to sheepishly raise her hand. i don't think she ended up having to translate.

twin girls in grade school:
there are twins who ride the 9 every morning, and they go to bailey gatzert elementary. they somehow always manage to find a seat up front, and the bus driver tries to make sure that others get up and give them a seat because they are small. the adults around usually chit-chat with them, and while i can't speak for everyone, i think that most everyone is impressed that two little white girls manage to take a south-end bus all by themselves.

the mixed race gossip girls:
there are two girls who sit at the back with me. one appears to be half-asian, or else half-hawaiian, and the other is either full black or half-black. from the conversations i've overheard, they are both juniors or seniors in high school, and they are always talking about their classmates. they like to text a lot, and when one girl isn't there for the ride, the other will listen to music, read, or do homework. when they are both there, however, they will talk incessantly.
the band with a stupid name.

i met her on the internet. her screen name was magiqspell, and she was about two years younger than i was. she was into singing, and i was into guitar, so i said, "let's start a band." she agreed. i said we should meet, and she said she took classes at csus, or maybe it was rehearsals for a play, some piece of shit called under 21. i went to a dress rehearsal, and i met the director, some pompous black guy who sat in a director's chair while blowing bubbles. i said, "hello," and he just kept blowing bubbles. guy was an idiot.

magiqspell had dyed red hair, and at 14, she was the youngest person on set. she didn't have much of a role. i just remember this one scene where the lead male went to a sperm bank, and for some reason, he was carrying around his sperm in a cup. he ran into a pretty girl he liked, and somehow, the sperm ended up spilling all over her shirt.

magiqspell lived all the way in the south area, and it took about half an hour just to get there. i got lost, and i called her house. her older sister answered, and she tried to guide me, even though i had no idea where i was. i was driving my dad's camry. i don't know what i told my parents that day. it definitely wasn't "i'm going to play music with some girl i met off the internet." finally, i found her house. i set up my amp and guitar, and we tried to write a song. i wrote a little guitar riff, and she said it sounded 80's. she wrote some god-awful lyrics, stuff only a 14 year-old girl could come up with:

remember the 80's show with charles and charge? we had such good times with full house and empty nest. chorus: i love my 80's sitcoms, don't you miss the 80's sitcoms.

yeah. jesus.

i told my cousin that i was looking to start a new band, since our last one, the one with the christian drummer, didn't pan out. he seemed like he wanted to join, and he quoted what liam gallagher told his brother and oasis before they were oasis: "are you gonna let me in the band, or are you gonna just sit around like a bunch of sad cunts?" i thought he would come up with some better tunes than the 80's sitcom show, so i agreed. magiqpsell thought we could use a little help, too.

so, just about every weekend, my cousin and i drove down to her house in the south area, and we worked on songs in her living room. she had a p.a. set, and my cousin and i had our guitars and bass. he said he didn't mind playing bass. i've always preferred guitar to bass. we didn't have a drummer yet, but we decided we didn't need one until we had a set group of songs to play. we would usually go to jack-in-the-box for lunch, and magiqspell never had any money. the little money she did have, she would spend on cigarettes.

sometimes, we went into her sister's bedroom and we played playstation on her tiny tv. one night, we were playing silent hill, or maybe it was silent hill 2. the production company's logo flashed on screen. it read: idol minds. "that should be the band name," i said. "yeah," she said, "but we should spell it differently. it should be 'idle.'" that's how we got our band name. idle minds.

during this time, magiqspell was in a musical, the pirates of penzance. it ran at a small theater in old sacramento, and i was bored stiff. the only redeeming quality was that there was a st. francis freshman by the name of danielle who was also in the play. danielle had soft brown hair, a cute face, and a lot of forehead. i told magiqspell to put in a good word for me. she came back with the news that danielle's parents forbade her from dating. i was devastated. i wrote some chords for a song, magiqspell wrote the lyrics:

danielle, you know one thing is true. danielle, all my friends want you. danielle, they saw you at the play. danielle, they think of you to this day!

yeah. worst.

a bunch of us went out for bowling one night. it was midnight bowling, or disco bowling, one of those nights where they turn on the black lights and everything glows. glow bowling, i guess. i wanted to go to the arcade afterward, so i could see my cousin's friend beat star wars with just one quarter, as i had been told he could do such things. i think he played for a little while, but the miracle quarter never happened. i played that g.i. joe game i always loved, the one where you just run and run and shoot down everything in sight. what a game. on the ride back home, magiqspell rested her head against my forearm and fell asleep. i thought it was nice to finally have a friend who felt comfortable enough around me to do something like that.

there was another band in town that magiqspell loved seeing. they were called piccolo music, and they were a powerpop group. the worst thing about them was that they had a moog and an asian guitar player. their songs were actually kind of catchy, and i think they even received modest radio play. another awful thing was that the asian guitar player went to my high school. he was a cooler and nerdier asian, and i immediately hated him. i hated that people went to their shows and that magiqspell genuinely liked them. idle minds had "the 80's song," "danielle," "feels like fire," and piccolo music had powerpop jams like "alison j." and "roller rink." the chorus for "alison j." went something like this:

when i'm a big rockstar, i'll have any girl i want, but the only girl i want is alison j.

we decided if we were going to get anywhere, especially if we were to compete with a band of nobodies like piccolo music, we had to get a drummer. i put up an ad on america online. we got a few responses, and finally, we decided to go with a guy named orin, who used to be in a metal band. coincidentally, orin was filipino, and he had long black hair, like a real metal drummer. we warned him that we weren't metal. "that's okay," he said, "i'm just looking to start playing again." i don't think he gave a shit that our songs were terrible. after a gig one time, he showed us a videotape of his past work in a metallica cover band. my cousin was impressed, but i thought it was stupid.

orin turned out to be kind of crazy. we had him drive us to get lunch at jack-in-the-box once, and he started driving on the sidewalk. also, on his america online profile, he wrote as his location: principality of nicaragua. we had no idea what he was about. we decided we had to lose him, and magiqspell wrote him a nice email telling him that his drum services were no longer needed.

we met another drummer. he wasn't a very good one, but magiqspell thought he was attractive, so he stuck around for a while. we went to his house once, and my cousin and i sat on his couch. "sorry, guys," he said, "my house is kind of boring." we told him not to worry about it. he took magiqspell into his bedroom for a while, and my cousin and i sat there, feeling like dopes. we wanted a drummer and ended up with a groupie.

it was about this time that i really started to hate our band. it was obvious we were never gonna put out an ok computer or even get small gigs like piccolo music. that, and our lead singer was using band time to sneak away with her love interest and do ecstacy at raves. i wasn't ever gonna tour and have girls like danielle fall for me, so what was the point? i didn't tell the band i was thinking this, but i wanted to quit. what a fucking waste of time.

we were sitting around one saturday, working on another stupid song. i was silent for a long while, until magiqspell asked what was wrong. "i quit," i said. "what? what are you talking about?" i repeated what i had said. it was my first taste of being dramatic, of letting everything bottle up and explode. "you're not quitting," she said. "yes," i said, "i am." they tried to draw out of me what was wrong, but i didn't want to give them the satisfaction of knowing. i was a broken record: i quit. i quit. i quit.

a few months later, my cousin told me that magiqspell had actually landed us a gig through her mom. they needed me to play, as i was the only one who knew the songs on guitar. it felt good to be needed, and to have this over them, so i agreed. we played the gig to a bunch of teens at some rec room at the red lion. we ended the set with a song called "idle minds." the lyrics went something like this:

idle minds, the band with a stupid name. and not just the name, but what it means is really lame.

i couldn't have summed it up better myself.
laundry day, huh.

i walk to pcc in seward park. i bring my zune, and i bring my seattle university reusable grocery bag. i listen to the magnetic fields because the evening before, i have looked up youtube covers of "yeah! oh yeah!" and "why i cry." i get to walking. i am hoping that the girl i saw last sunday, the girl who smiled at me and who was scooping up handfuls of mulch and woodchips is in the same spot again, doing the same thing, but she isn't. i think that i would like to have a friend who gardens, and a friend who lives nearby. i turn the corner and pass the baptist church, and i wonder what baptists are all about, really.

it's a nice day out, though i wish it was warmer. there are still clouds lingering above, threatening rain. they seem to be saying, "i can ruin your day. go ahead and try me." i pass by some houses with unkempt lawns. i see a lot of those yellow weeds and those other white weeds that i once blew as a kid to make a wish. i would wish for money. i would wish that a girl i liked would like me back. i would wish for peace in the world, and other frivolous things. i used to think those yellow weeds were flowers, and i made my mom a bookmark with one for mother's day once. she told me it was just a weed, but she kept the bookmark all the same.

i pass some strangers on the sidewalk, and a part of me wants to stop and chat, but they are strangers. we are strangers. as a child, i was told not to talk to strangers. i guess it's just stuck with me ever since. i was raised with a paranoid mentality, that everyone was out to get me. not much has changed since then. i make a weak attempt to look the stranger in the eye, and force a smile, but i get nothing in return, so my facial expression just goes blank. i am conscious of these things, and it makes me feel awkward, and when i feel awkward, i feel itchy. my head starts to itch. my neck itches. that's why you always see those characters on tv reaching for their necks when they are feeling awkward or shy. that's what happens. people get itchy.

i am still listening to the magnetic fields. i think their lyrics are ridiculous, but nevertheless, they somehow manage to make it work. i remember my audio recording teacher telling me once, "your lyrics can be god-awful, but as long as you have a great melody, it will carry your song." i think he was right about that. i cross the street just as stephen merrit delivers the line about clove cigarettes and vermouth. it makes me feel young and ironically, slightly unhip, that i never resorted to smoking or drinking to make me feel better about stuff.

i turn onto wilson avenue south, where pcc is located. it's in seward park, which is a predominantly white and affluent community. there's a guy selling issues of real change outside the store. at least that's what i think he's doing. he could also just be asking donations for some cause. the older woman who always brings up seattle university is at a register, ringing people up. the first time she saw my bag, she asked if i went to school there. i told her no, but i did, and now i just work there. she said that she went there, too, and got her masters in educational leadership or some shit. i wanted to ask why then was she bagging my groceries, but i didn't. she smiled and said it was a good school. i agreed. she said that it was expensive. i agreed with that, too. she said she'd be paying off loans for a while. a long while.

a different woman rings me up. she carefully pulls items out of my purple basket. she says that she doesn't want to break my eggs. she asks if i want cash back, and i say that i want a roll of quarters. she asks me if it's laundry day. i say yes. she says she remembers those days, laundry days, that is. she says she is lucky now, and i assume this means she has her very own washer and dryer. i think about when i will have my own washer and dryer, and the answer is probably not for a while. a long while.

i walk back to my apartment, and i do laundry, make dinner. this is how i spend my sunday. it is simple, and sometimes, i wish there was more to it than that.
the good that's still left in the world.

the big event is finally over, and i can go back to being a super-slacker at work. tonight's event required me to walk all over town, obtaining plaques and customized fortune cookies. it required countless emails and meetings with the boss. it meant dealing with the copy place and getting certificates and programs printed. sometimes, i would think about what needed to be done before i went to sleep, and sometimes, it kept me up. it was the kind of looming feeling i felt everyday that one week i was an english teacher. i didn't like it at all. but now it's over, and i'm glad about that.

i passed the slideshow assignment over to the work study girl, and she did a good job with it. today, she made some last minute changes, and i was impressed at how quickly she was able to change the background, move text around, etc. she couldn't remove the backround image of a rainbow, though, and this slightly upset her. "it'll be our subliminal gay pride image," she said. we joked about the event quite a bit, not once feeling stressed about it. tomorrow is her last day, and i'm sad about that.

when it finally came down to it, i didn't memorize my speech. i read three paragraphs in a monotone voice, and i felt bad that i hadn't even tried to memorize it. i am a terrible public speaker, and i am always afraid that i will forget things, or freeze up. the work study girl was much more enthusiastic and outgoing than i was. it is her world, anyway. i am fully aware that i am just staff, and i am only doing a minimum two-year stint.

i hate that i look at things that way. for a moment today, though, i really loved being there at the school. i liked that i knew a small group of law students, and i felt like i belonged there, even though i wasn't a student. and then this woman, erin, quoted a line from lord of the rings, something like, "there's still good in the world, and we have to fight for it." it made me realize how much of my idealism has faded in such a short time. it also made me realize how important it is for me to be idealistic and hopeful about the future, thing i really haven't felt recently.

but this evening was sunny, and i saw lots of people talk about work they genuinely love doing. it made me wish that i was strong, confident, and eloquent. it made me wish that i was really doing something, really trying with every ounce of my being to pull up the people, pull up the poor. i think that i've needed time to figure out why i feel compelled to do those things. but thinking too long and too heavily on such matters can ultimately turn into a cop-out, a recipe for laziness.

i want to know now. i want to know the best way i could fight for the good that's still left in the world.
thank you, lord, for each
new day you bring to me.

this big oaf sits in his office with his wood-paneled walls. he's wearing a blue shirt with a red tie, and there's a trophy on top of the metal file cabinet. the trophy is for some useless sport - bowling or golf - something that requires minimal physical exertion. he's on the computer, and he's got the phone to his ear, sandwiched between his shoulder and fat head. he's playing with spreadsheets and databases, a bunch of numbers, and doing such things earns him a monthly paycheck. and his pastor says gambling is a sin.

his desk is a mess. there are papers scattered everywhere, and he's got his jacket slung over a nearby chair. he's often thought about getting a coat rack, but it simply isn't in the budget to acquire such an extravagance. certainly not in these woeful economic times. he gets up every now and then to visit the break room, where he fills up his mug with coffee. and sometimes, it's to fill his glass with water. he thinks it is good for him to get up as much as possible. he doesn't want migraines from looking at the screen for too long, and he thinks that walking around a little bit around the office is a small step in preventing heart disease. deep down, he knows his thinking is illogical, but he thinks it anyway. he has to.

this time, he gets up to get water. he walks past the pretty young receptionist, and he makes some comment about how he likes her hair better when it is up instead of down. she smiles at him, and she rolls her eyes. sometimes, he thinks about what it would be like to have her, sweaty and moaning, under him. his pastor says adultery is a sin. the fleeting thought is enough to make him blush, enough to feel guilty. he thinks about his tired old lady and what she must be doing at her job. it's 10:45, so she must be between classes. maybe she's on a water break, too.

he and his wife love each other, but it has been a long time since either of them admitted to themselves that they were in love with each other. he realized this once while reading a work of fiction. it was about two characters, male and female (the pastor encouraged them to support prop. 8), whose relationship had gone south, but they decided to stick it out anyway. when he read it, the meaning sunk in. it felt good to know that other characters - even if they weren't real - felt the same way he felt. but it was also, obviously, a sad realization.

one of his co-workers was in the break room, too. it was an older woman, and she was reading the paper. she was highlighting things. he asked her what she was highlighting. she said that she was looking to buy a used car. he made some joke about the economy, and then he told her good luck. she smiled at him, and this made him feel good. as he returned to his desk, he wondered why life couldn't just be like that all the time. why couldn't it just be people smiling at each other and talking about things they wanted? he sighed, and he opened up the spreadsheet.

throughout the day, the phone would ring, and he would answer people's questions. every now and then, a co-worker would stop by and talk about something that wasn't work-related. there seemed to be a general understanding among everyone that it was good to talk about things that weren't work-related. someone asked if he caught the game last night. someone asked how his wife was doing. someone asked what his plans were for the upcoming weekend.

he had been working there now for about eighteen years. he was in it for the long-haul, the final stretch. there was no chance, no point, in quitting or trying to find something else. he wasn't the type of man to just give up on a job after so many years when the bad days outweighed the good. he wasn't the type of man to give up on his wife who was devoted to him, who cooked meals for him, and who ironed his shirts and pants for him (his pastor said divorce was a sin). so what if the passion was no longer there? it could be worse. he could be unemployed and alone.

at the end of the day, he walked back to his car and thanked the good lord for all that he had been given.
on the field, ready to go.

today was sunny. it made me want to be someplace that is sunny all the time. some of my friends have been thinking about relocating, as they are beginning to realize that seattle is not the place for them. they will name a place, and then they will say, "i might be able to live there." it is all a part of being restless and being in one's mid-twenties. i could live anywhere, as long as i had the right support group, and if i felt like i was a part of a community. but as of now, the closest thing i have to community is a small group of folks who are making plans to go live someplace else. and i'm doing the same.

there were black kids and mexican kids playing basketball at genessee park. there were white girls with white baseball caps playing tennis. on the seattle university baseball field, some girls were sunbathing in swimsuits, while boys nearby threw baseballs and footballs around. undergrads were sitting by the reflection pool, and they were reading books, highlighting, taking notes. there were colleagues, walking side by side and talking about things. the sun glinted off the windows on the uppermost floors of tall buildings. there was a slight breeze, but mostly, it was calm.

it was about 69 degrees fahrenheit. i walked and listened to the zidane: a 21st century portrait soundtrack. i want to play soccer on a field and blast that soundtrack. i wanted a hundred cameras capturing my most pointless movements. i wanted to break into newly constructed condos and have someone take my picture while i was standing on the top floor. the series would be called: i get myself into some crazy things. it would be something to do. something to pass the time.

i should've gone running tonight.
we now return to our
regularly scheduled program.

today, on my way to place an order for customized fortune cookies for thursday evening's event, i walked past st. francis house on 12th street. the st. francis house is a soup kitchen, donation center, and i always see very dirty-looking, mostly non-white individuals loitering outside of it. i couldn't help but feel odd that i was on my way to order fortune cookies for an event celebrating social justice while passing this group of individuals who looked like they were in desperate need of some food and a shower. a little bit up the street there was an old parked car with two little children climbing all over the dashboard. it was a nice sunny day, and i walked past without making eye contact with any of them.

what does it mean to work for the poor? everyone has his own ideas. my parents seem to be really concerned with the issue, but only when they're in the philippines. a friend of mine thinks that the only solution is to become someone with power and authority, someone like obama. the people i work with seem to think it is about flooding more law school graduates into the legal services field. my old boss seems to think it is living simply, paying her uninsured college graduate employees close to nothing, and furnishing their apartments with nasty 1970's style decor. others like to teach at institutions, and they think that will do some good.

my english professor liked to quote jesus a lot. she'd say what jesus once said: "the poor you will have with you always." the saying can be taken two ways. the poor will always be around, therefore it is imperative that we all dedicate our lives to improving their situation. another way of looking at it is to say, they'll always be around because the system is broken; therefore, why bother? sit at your desk and play flood-it. link another funny video on twitter. go find romance somewhere.

in the morning, my bus passes the lowe's on rainier. there are always mexican men standing on the sidewalks, waiting to be picked up, waiting for work. i buy 20 starbucks gift cards at $5 each for some law students as rewards for filling out a survey. the baristas look like college students, possibly graduates. in the back of each of their minds is, "i am not going to do this forever." it becomes a mantra. the school custodian, a small, older laotian man gets on his knees, uses a squeegee to clean the windows of the school's entrance while a clean-cut young man in an expensive-looking suit walks past him.

all in the game, though, right?
engine house no. 9.

"sup, bro?"
"oh, you know. chillin'."
"watching the game?"
"def, man. def."
"who's up? i'm driving right now."
"not boston, man. can you believe this?"
"no k.g., man. what'd you expect?"
"for real."
"anyway, you still up for tomorrow?"
"what's goin' on?"
"bro! katy's dirty 30, man. you already forgot?"
"oh shit. yeah, totally."
"well, you goin' or what?"
"i dunno, man. it's playoffs!"
"no doubt. but they'll be showing games. it's a fuckin' bar!"
"where's it at again?"
"engine house #9. tacoma."
"oh yeah. shit."
"i'll pick you up."
"aight, man. later."

"shit, man. what is this place? total sausagefest."
"dude, katy's friends are coming later."
"oh yeah? which ones?"
"i don't know. the blonde one you like who always grabs your arm when she speaks."
"oh, oh yeah. jess, i think."
"jess or tess."
"think it's jess."
"who you lookin' out for?"
"denise. or sara. or both."
"shit, man. no playoffs! just a fucking sounders game."
"seriously, what's up with this sounders shit? this is america, man. no one gives a shit about soccer."
"really though."
"oh shit. birthday girl's here with her posse."
"better go make the rounds."
muscles and millionaires.

"hello," he said.
"hello," she said.
"look," he said, "i know you don't know me very well or anything, but i was wondering if you'd like to go see a movie sometime."
"okay," she said. "when?"
"i don't know," he said. "are you free this weekend?"
"not really," she said. "how about sometime during the week instead?"
"that works," he said. "should i just call you or..."
"yeah, you have a pen?"
"yeah. hold on. okay, what is it?"
"cool. i'll give you a call."

he waited two days to call. he heard it was a rule in a movie once. they made plans to see something, and they would just meet there. since they arrived fifteen minutes to showtime, there wasn't much time to talk. he should've picked her up. he should said, how about dinner first. why didn't he think about these things beforehand? he bought the tickets. he insisted that he pay. it was his idea, after all. she looked good, as she always did, but of course, he didn't say anything. he said he had to use the bathroom. he really did have to go, and it was kind of an emergency. he tried not to take too long, as the length of his absence fully disclosed his private business. when he returned to his seat, he looked at her and she kind of smiled, but not really. it was more a look of empathy, of concern.

"so, thanks for coming."
"thanks for inviting me."
"do you want some popcorn or anything?"
"no, thanks. i think i'm good."
"how's work going?"
"it's going..."

the lights went down. the previews began, and they were loud. all car crashes and explosions and people getting their teeth knocked out. boom! bang! he looked at her, the blue light shining on her face, reflecting in her eyes, and he sunk in his seat. he looked at her, but she did not see him. boom! bang! he saw a muscular guy on screen. muscles and millionaires, he thought. all this money spent on all these flops, and people are starving to death. people are losing their homes. but go right ahead, hollywood. go dump another $48 million on 90 minutes of pure misery. was she thinking that? what was she thinking?

"what are you thinking?"
"nothing really."

the movie was okay. it was alright. he wouldn't watch it again.

"what'd you think?"
"it was okay. did you like it?"
"i thought it was okay."

they walked down the stairs in silence. when he was a kid, he used to feel like the character in the film he had just watched. he would win. he would defeat evil. he would get what he wanted, learn lessons, and make friends along the way. but now that he was older, the only thought he had leaving the theater was: what next?

"so, do you want to get dinner or anything?"
"why do you always say 'or anything?' why don't you just say, 'dinner?'"
"i don't know. just a habit, i guess."

she pulled her phone out from her purse. she read the screen and texted back.

"about dinner," she said. "maybe another time?"
"sure," he said, but he knew exactly what 'another time' meant.

he gave a her small wave, and walked in the opposite direction.
it's sac.

jesus and judas were hella bored in sac-town. it was a school night, tuesday or a thursday, and there wasn't shit to do, ya dig? they decided to take the old white corolla out for a drive, maybe hotbox it. no, definitely hotbox it. they drove around the suburbs, filling that shit up again and again, until the bag was getting lighter. it was some crazy shit, but it was better than sitting in class, bored, sitting at home, bored. they were gonna get ripped out their fucking skulls, ya feel? it finally kicked in a bit. "wait, wait," judas said, "i think this is the school where my cuz works. let's see if she's working."

they pulled into the school's parking lot. it was a school or a daycare, neither of them knew. they were private school kids - who gave a shit about some public school in rosemont? not them. judas found some woman walking around, or maybe she was taking a cig break. he couldn't remember. duh. he asked her if his cousin was around. "umm, i don't know who you're talking about." "oh. oh. thanks," judas said. he walked away very awkwardly, hands behind his back like he was hiding something. he wasn't hiding anything. he was out of it. he was floating.

they got back in the car, and drove around some more. "this is all we're gonna do? just drive around?" "what you wanna do, man?" "man, i'm so sick of that question. 'what you wanna do?' what you wanna do?' there ain't shit to do. ever!" "i know, man. it's sac. what you expect?" "let's go to the record store." they headed towards the local record store. "you feel anything?" "yeah, i'm pretty high." "me too, man!" they started laughing, two little jewish boys in a busted old corolla. they were feeling and acting silly, hehehe.

"turn around, man! i gotta get home!" "what? i thought you wanted to go to the record store!" "no, dude. i'm way too out of it. i can't be around people right now!" "ahh, man. being in public is the best!" they turned around. across the street from the 7-11, there was a girl standing on the sidewalk in front of a preschool. "man, what's that girl doing? she's just standing there. she's just waiting!" they laughed so hard they could cry. "shit, man. how long does this last?" "depends on how much you smoked." "we smoked a lot." "yeah, we did." hehehe.

for the next two or three, maybe five hours, they sat and watched a basketball game. who was playing? who won? they couldn't remember. "i should probably get going. i got homework to do." "yeah, me too, man. me too."
nobody doesn't like sara lee.

the motto on the truck read: "nobody doesn't like sara lee."
"i didn't know sara lee had a double-negative as its slogan."
"were you an english major?" ada asked.
"yes," i said, "i was."
"it figures," she said.
eating foil the day jesus died.

i spent good friday watching television shows on my laptop. i went to the hat for a burrito, but i ordered it to go.

are you afraid to eat by yourself?
no, i just don't want to look like a loser.

i went to the shola market, as i felt i deserved a pepsi. the clerk was watching nba basketball on a small television. sometimes, i want to stay there and watch with him.

why don't you sit? stay, stay!
no, no. it will be weird. i must be on my way. nobody is waiting for me!

i ate my burrito, and i tasted something metallic. a few minutes later, i saw that pieces of the aluminum wrapper had come off.

is this bad? will that stuff not pass through my system? will it develop into something awful?
no, you'll be fine. kids eat that shit all the time, what with it being so shiny and all.

i picked lint from the pockets of my sweatshirt and threw it at the brick wall. i watched some more tv.

why can't my job be more entertaining like the office? t.v. is making me want things i wouldn't normally want - or would i?

i played the guitar, trying out another failure of a song.

am i being funny and ironic, or am i trying to be honest, and the joke is on me?

strangers in a strange, strange land.

what do you think? should we stay here?
what? you wanna go back already?
no, i was just wondering what you were thinking.
why would you wanna go back?
i didn't say i wanted to go back. i was just asking if you thought we should stay here.
i like it. it's ok.
so, you want to stay then?
maybe for a little while. we'll get jobs and save money.
what kind of jobs will we get? we don't even speak the language!
we'll go to school, and we'll learn the language.
but we learned the language back home, and we still don't know the language.
but it will be different here. we'll be forced to speak the language all the time.
we should be speaking the language now.
okay. start.
you start.
no, it'll be weird. we'll make friends who speak the language first, and we'll learn that way.
how are we gonna make friends if we can't speak the language?
that's what i'm saying. we'll learn it if we make friends who already speak the language.
no one here even looks like us.
so, what? you want to go back?
i didn't say that. i'm just saying. we look different. people look at us like we're different.
we are different! what's the problem?
i don't know. it's strange.
but what you don't realize, is that this place is always talking about acceptance and opportunity.
i don't feel accepted.
you've only been here a short while. it will take some time to feel accepted.
maybe when we learn the language, we will feel accepted.
yes, maybe.
our clothes are different, too. we should get new clothes.
with what money?
the money we'll get from our jobs.
how are we gonna get jobs with what we're wearing?
i don't know, maybe we can borrow some from somebody.
we don't even know anyone here!
give it some time. you come to a new place, and already you are expecting such things?
yes, yes. a job, friends, clothes, money, acceptance! how long must we wait for it?
just wait. it will come.
she shows up and i'm not there.

seattle has been warm and sunny the past three days. i am a simple human being. i went running the past two evenings. i dirtied up my shoes, and i bought a new stick of tom's lemongrass deodorant. i have been busy at my job, and this makes the time go by quickly. it feels like summer is here, and i am happy about that. the days are longer, and i like that. i buy an orange every now and then because i feel like i need some fruit and some vitamin c. i made the extra effort to go up to madison market - instead of the usual, qfc - to get an orange, and it was much juicier.

i knew nothing about men's ncaa basketball, but i had the winning office pool bracket. the director of cpd gave me a $50 gift card to nordstroms. i am thinking i will buy a pair of nice running shoes, so that i can keep running. i think i would've made a good runner in high school. i should've done cross country, or else track and field. i think i could've made more friends that way, and i could have been more confident and more physically fit. it is a good thing to be physically fit. one can live longer and see more sunny days like the last three days.

mom called the other day to say her aunt died. she didn't know her well, and i didn't know her well, so we didn't mourn. it was a strange thing to not mourn someone. they are going to the funeral on thursday, and my dad wants to go to gilroy afterward. he wants to buy a pair of shoes at the gilroy outlets. i think that he wants to go to the bass outlet for his pair of shoes. i don't know why he likes bass shoes so much.

i got to come into work late today, since i had to stay late for a meeting. it was nice to wake up at 7:41 a.m. and then go back to sleep. though, it was so sunny out, i thought for a second that i should run. i should've ran, but i didn't. i went back to sleep. i woke up at 9:30 a.m., and i hit the snooze button. can you imagine? i boiled some eggs to make an egg salad sandwich for lunch. i try not to eat eggs so much, as i hear they raise your cholesterol. and i add salt and mayonnaise, too - that can't possibly be healthy. hence, the running.

i called onebusaway ( to see when the 9 would come next, but apparently, it stopped running around 10 a.m. normally, i would've been upset about this, but since it was so sunny out, i didn't care. i thought to myself, i can walk in the sun and that will do me good. i knew then what people talk about when they talk about a silver lining. i got on the bus, and i was the most well-dressed person on the bus. i don't like it when that happens, as i feel like i am trying to say that i am better than other people. but what else can one expect at 10:30 a.m. on a bus headed downtown? the commuters at that hour are most likely unemployed.

when i showed up at work, emily and aileen were sitting at their desks. they said hello, and i said good morning. aileen said that it's always weird in those rare occasions where she shows up and i'm not there. it throws her off, she said. it made me feel good, like somebody cared whether i showed up or not. it is easy to forget that my presence matters. there was a letter on my keyboard marked winner, and it had the $50 gift card in it. emily showed me hers, and it was marked loser. that makes mine much cooler, she said. we laughed at that.

i hope that we can laugh some more tomorrow.
it's destined for some people.

it was friday night, and lisa and i were walking towards the parking garage. i looked to the left and saw a group of undergrads hanging out outside bellarmine hall. "i used to hang out with assholes like that," i said. i was trying to be funny, but it just sounded sort of mean. "oh yeah?" lisa asked. "yeah," i said. i wanted to be funny. i wanted to be outgoing and out of control. i didn't want to be my boring self anymore.

lizzie rode past us on her bicycle. "is that a one speed?" i asked. "yeah," she said. "you're such a hipster," i said. she nodded. i asked her if i could try it. "it's too small for you," she said, but i got on anyway. it took me a couple of seconds to make it go, and then i realized the bike had no brakes. i went uphill to try and slow down, or else make it stop. two women were walking towards me, and i jumped off the bike, nearly crashing to the ground. they walked past me and said nothing.

i got to lisa's car, and i said, "is this you?" "yeah," she said, "this is my ride." i got in the front seat. we had just come back from seeing fast and furious, so i asked her if she felt like revving her engine, or racing through a mineshaft. "yeah," she said, "totally!" i told her she should try drifting. she made her car weave back and forth. "i guess that's not really drifting," she said. "no," i said, "it isn't." there was a song playing on the radio. it was called "crack the bottle" or something like that. "is this eminem?" i asked. "yeah!" she said. "have you not heard this song?" she asked me. "no," i said, "i haven't." she turned the radio up really loudly, and then she started dancing in her seat.

we went to the am/pm near the school. it looked like there were two drug deals simultaneously going down. "this is always like the most ghetto spot for some reason." "oh, there's a reason for it," she said. "can you believe this happens right next to the school?" "yeah," i said, "it's crazy." we went inside. she bought a redbull, and i bought a six pack of corona. "in the spirit of toretto," i said. "what?" she asked. "i don't know what that means." "fast and furious," i said. "come on."

she drove to lizzie's apartment, which was only about a block away from the school. it looked like there was another deal going down outside her apartment, but then again, it might have just been a guy asking for directions. lisa scornfully watched the interaction, then headed inside. there were two boys in the living room, and one was playing an acoustic guitar. lisa said hello, then headed upstairs. "are you coming?" she asked. i followed her upstairs.

lizzie's room was exactly how i imagined most hipster girls' rooms to be. she had a bunch of photographs, mini-posters, and postcards tacked to her walls. there was a small darjeeling limited poster and a bigger marilyn monroe poster. i tried to open one of my coronas. "do you have a bottle opener?" i asked. "it's not a twist-off?" lizzie asked. "no," i said. "no," lisa said, "they're not twist-offs." lizzie went downstairs to find me one. i told lisa i thought redbulls were disgusting. "they are," she said, "but i've gotten used to them."

lizzie came back with a bottle opener, and i cracked open a beer. lisa went downstairs to get three shotglasses. i asked lizzie if she liked the life aquatic. "it wasn't my favorite," she said, "but i still really liked it. i really loved the royal tennenbaums," she said. suddenly, i felt old and bored by it all. was i just going to keep going through life building friendships based on wes anderson films and indie rock bands? jesus, i hoped not. lisa started pouring shots. she asked me if i wanted one, but i said i was good with my beer. lisa chased her shot with her redbull. "that's fucking disgusting," i said, then added, "that is not a chaser." "it is a chaser," she said, proudly. "it's how i roll."

lizzie turned on her alarm clock radio. "daft punk," she said. lcd soundsystem's "daft punk is playing at my house" song came on. "i wish daft punk would play at my house," i said. lizzie told us this story about her friend who went to paris and bought tickets to a daft punk show off craigslist. "she got to the show, and somehow, she managed to fight her way to the front. then, at some point, she got on stage and ended up like, dancing with daft punk the whole night. she jumped off and started crowdsurfing." "cool," i said. lisa didn't sound like she was too impressed, either. "i just feel like," lizzie began, "that it's destined for some people to have amazing adventures like that happen to them. like, i feel like i'm the kind of person who could go years and nothing that cool would ever happen to me."

"where should be we go tonight?" lisa asked. they shot names back and forth. i felt lame for never having been to, or even having heard of any of the places they were naming. "barca?" "cha cha?" "ju ju?" "i have no idea what the fuck you guys are saying," i said. "sorry," lisa said, "all bars within about a mile and a half radius." "let's do barca," lizzie said. "barca?" lisa asked. "yeah, barca!" lizzie said. we got up. "i'll just leave this here," i said, pointing to the five unopened coronas. "i could put it in my bag and give it to you at the bar," lizzie said. "nah, that's okay," i said, "it's my present to you." "i'll bring them to work," she said. "yeah," i said, "we should drink in one of the interview rooms."

lisa drove us to barca, a little bar on capitol hill, across the street from value village. i went in the crowded bar and immediately felt out of place. most of the kids were well dressed white yuppies. lisa and lizzie ordered drinks and left their tabs open. i ordered a guinness and declined to keep my tab open. we sat at a high table in the back, and i asked lisa how she liked her blackberry. "it sucks," she said. "why's it so bad?" i asked. "i just don't like it," she said. i picked it up and took her picture with it. the flash was ultra bright. "it's so bright!" lizzie said. lisa took lizzie's picture and lizzie acted like she didn't want to have her picture taken.

"go hit on that big guy," i said. i wasn't being serious, but i was kind of being a dick. maybe i was tired of being the nice guy, or pretending to be the nice guy. maybe i was tired of getting nowhere with women and always having them around as friends. "no," lisa said, "you go hit on him." "i'll need another beer," i said. they laughed. i got up to use the restroom. there wasn't an empty stall or urinal, so i had to wait. when i got back to the table, the two girls were chatting with two guys at a nearby table. i sat there, drinking my beer, not quite knowing what to do with myself.

i overheard some of the conversation. "what did you do tonight?" one of the guys asked. "we saw fast and furious," lizzie said. "how was it?" "horrible," lisa said. "awesome," lizzie said. "i like how you said, 'horrible,' and she said, 'awesome,' at the same time," the guy said. at one point, lizzie finally turned and introduced me, as though i was really interested in meeting two guys at a bar. i said my name, and one of them shook my hand. they got back to their conversation. lizzie turned back to talk to me for a bit, but by then, i was ready to leave. "i think i'm gonna go after this beer," i said. she nodded. i finished it quickly and said goodbye. lisa gave me a half-hug, and one of the guys shook my hand again. "it was nice meeting you," he said. wish i could say the same, bub.

i went out into the cold street, wishing i had brought my jacket. i put my zune on shuffle and headed to the nearest bus stop.
get high like cranes.

ross came over last night. he didn't want to watch a movie while we ate. i wanted to watch an episode of it's always sunny in philadelphia, or else gossip girl, but he just wasn't down for it. "do you mind if we just eat, and catch up?" he said. it was obvious he wanted human interaction. while we were talking about work and stuff, my aunt from the philippines called. "i am renovating an apartment for your parents," she said. she went on and on about fixing things up, and how my parents are planning on moving there. i thought it was weird.

i have been making paper cranes for the past three days. tomorrow, i am going to see fast and furious with people from work. i have never hung out with people from work before, with the exception of jaspreet, so we will see how that goes.
meeting the neighbors.

because i can count more fingers on one hand than i can the number of actual friends i have in seattle, i decided i should try and meet my neighbors. the four of us went to lottie's in columbia city to have drinks. shel and maya had dinner with their drinks, and the dude, steph, who lives next to me, had a dark and stormy. i had two heinekkens.

maya and i bonded over the wire. she has finished the first season, and is excited to watch the next four. shel and i bonded over being filipino, and we talked about wowowee. steph is thirty-six and a teacher, so we had nothing to talk about, really. he had to leave early so he could wake up and go teach in sammamish. he teaches at a private school.

maya works at a library, but she's not a librarian. shel works for a nonprofit. generally, they all seemed like they were kind of "eh" about their jobs. they were really passionate about food. i asked if they had tried willie's taste of soul, and they all said yes and that it was good. they also said there is a a truck that is called the skillet, and it is like a taco truck, but it actually serves gourmet food. "cash only, and get there early," maya said.

i asked steph about his sister, who lives in california. "what's she do?" i asked. "as far as i know, she grows marijuana," he said. i thought that her chosen lifestyle was awesome, but i could see that he was disappointed in her decision, so i didn't respond. maya said she lived in the c.d. at one point. i asked how she liked that.

maya said she didn't like the c.d. much. "people kind of just go home and hardly ever go out." i told her that a man used to bang on the door next to my house in the c.d., and that he would scream "ronald! ronald! open the goddamn door!" and that people sometimes tried to sleep underneath the stairs. i didn't want to come across like the homeless and crackheads inconvenienced my year in the central district, but i am sure that is exactly how i came across.

all in all, it was a good night. it was nice to meet new people. it is a small, good thing to try to not be such a misanthrope.