black velvet.

the place wasn't that crowded, which i liked. i sat down with my friends in the corner. we were gonna do karaoke, a nice change from doing karaoke at home. i always joke about how i'm asian, and so i would do karaoke everyday if i could. i don't think my friends like karaoke as much as i do. they didn't care about keeping score in singstar, the way my cousins did. they don't normally like to do songs they don't know. they like to do songs they know.

the bar crowd was almost all white, which i expected, since we were in west seattle. there was one asian man who sat at a table by himself. i thought that this is what my uncles would be doing, if they ever ended up in west seattle. they would go to bars by themselves, and they would sit and drink, maybe sing a song or two later into the night. that's what this man did. he sat and he drank, and later in the night, he sang a slow, sad song, a song nobody knew.

there was a woman who sang "black velvet." my friends sang along to it. "what's this song?" i asked. "'black velvet,'" my friend answered. she looked at me. "you gotta be poor to know this one." the singer really belted it out. she was a white girl, and from the way she sang it, i thought maybe my friend was right. maybe you did have to grow up poor to know "black velvet." the singer sat on a chair turned around, and then she got up and started singing it like she knew what black velvet was all about.

i put in a request for my friend to sing "bust-a-move." the d.j. said someone had already sung it, or else somebody was about to sing it. he showed me the yellow slip with a name on it. lindsey. "can he sing it with her?" i asked. "you'd have to ask her," he said. "where is she?" i asked. "i don't know," he said. i sat down. "you can't sing it," i told my friend. "someone else is gonna sing it." "what? that's bullshit!" he said. "yeah, pick another song," i said. "i don't want to pick another song," he said.

my friend and i sang "screaming infidelities." after the first verse, a woman came up to us. "can i sing along with you guys? i really love this song," she said. we said, "sure." i tried to be real sad and emo about it, but nobody seemed to be paying attention. they were just sitting at their tables, drinking and getting drunk. nothing mattered at the yen wor room. at the final verse, during the screaming part, i screamed it. i held nothing back. my cousins would've been cracking up, but nobody else seemed to mind. i wished my cousins were there then.

my friend gave me a thumbs-down when i returned to the table. i thought that maybe he was still upset about not being able to sing "bust-a-move." i went to use the bathroom, and when i returned, someone was singing a song about being a transvestite. "what's this?" i asked. "don't you know rocky horror picture show?" he asked me, irritated. "oh yeah," i said. i admitted to never having seen rocky horror picture show. i remembered reading about charlie and his friends seeing rocky horror in the book the perks of being a wallflower.

i always wanted friends like the ones charlie had in that book. i'm still waiting for a ride in the backseat of someone else's car, waiting to hear a heart-wrenching song i've never heard before.

i am still wanting to know what it is to feel "infinite."
those are the whitest adidas.

"i need your opinion," he said. he picked out some button-down shirts, ben sherman to be exact. i thought they looked fine, and i thought for a moment that i might get myself one, too. but i have enough button-down shirts. what i need is some jeans, some regular t-shirts that fit well. maybe another pair of shoes. i looked at the shoes. i wear a size ten. there were nikes, adidas, pumas, etc. i found a pair of suede high-top onitsuka tiger shoes - my latest interest - but i didn't buy them. they were cheap, only $31 or so, but the insides had this bright neon orange lining. and they were suede. i remembered what happened the last time i wore a pair of suede shoes in seattle rain.

place was banging, good business for a friday night. most people - one would think - would be elsewhere, wearing the clothes they had already purchased from the night before, and having a good time at a decently-priced dining establishment, or else some party in the suburbs. but no, here we all were, and it wasn't friday evening, it was friday night, around 9 p.m. or so. we tried on sunglasses. i tried on a pair of pink lacoste sunglasses. i felt like it was something p. diddy or kanye west would wear. "you want those, don't you," my friend said to me. she knew me too well.

i didn't understand the basic concept of the store - nordstrom rack, that is. they had to develop a whole chain of stores to sell the leftover clothing that didn't originally sell at the chain of stores called nordstrom. i think that's the basic concept, so maybe i did understand it after all. still, what i failed to see was why they couldn't just create a section in the regular nordstrom, or else donate the clothes entirely, and not take up so much space? i find myself preoccupied with these kinds of questions, questions that don't matter and never will. all that mattered was that we were there, at this discounted, second-chance store, a kind of purgatory for clothes that had spent too much time on the racks, but weren't quite ready to just be thrown away or donated.

the following day, the sun was out, and we thought we should ride bikes. i loaded my bike into her car, into the backseat. i had to remove the front wheel. i never would've known to do such things, had it not been for the girl i met off craigslist last summer who said she would be willing to drive my specialized bicycle from sacramento to seattle for a modest fee of $50. i still remember her in my garage, her telling me that i should remove the wheel, that it would be easier for her to load it into her already overstuffed truck. "let me grab my dad's toolbox," i said. she stopped me. "no, it's a quick-release," she said. "here, let me show you." she showed me. i felt like a fool, not knowing how to do something basic with something i owned. it was like the time my cousin laughed at the woman with the mercedes who had to call aaa in the target parking lot to get her tire changed.

nearly a year later, i did the quick-release trick the craigslist girl showed me, and i loaded my bike into the backseat of my friend's white camry. my hands got dirty. my fingertips become black whenever i touch the wires. dirt and grime used to bother me, until i worked at a thrift store one summer, and then i no longer cared. that's what soap is for, i told myself. so, i loaded up this bike, and then i drove into georgetown. she picked up her bike, a vintage hercules, from the local bike shop. there was a pink-faced, long-haired guy talking to a customer about bikes. "good luck trying to contact shimano right now," he said. it served more like a warning than wishing the guy actual luck.

"where should we ride? should we go to that park?" i asked. "what park?" she asked. "that park where we took your dogs once, but then that van stared following us." "oh. oh! sure," she said. we started pedaling. it was a hot day, but once we got going on the bikes, it started to feel cool. the wind was cool against me, even with the hot sun beating down. we biked all the way across georgetown, to a place where there was water. it looked dirty and polluted, but still, there was water, so it was okay. she told me about how the fda doesn't regulate fish, so if i eat salmon, i should only eat it like once or twice a month. the mercury could be deadly.

we biked around the industrial part, full of factories and trucks and chain-linked fences with barbed wire. "this is like an environmentalist's worst nightmare!" i said. "pretty much," she said. there was a taco truck that she was excited about, but we didn't get any tacos. "is that mexican place open?" i asked. it didn't look open, but the doors and windows were wide open. "i don't know. why? you want a burrito?" "no," i said, and i hit the crosswalk button so the light would change.

we went to a dinner party with some friends. there was michael jackson playing on the radio, and there were people my age who were lawyers. michael jackson was dead, and here i was with lawyers. i had an okay time, but it made me feel old. that night, i dreamed of tower records, of wes and chris running up and down the aisles, completely care-free. and then i woke up, and i realized i couldn't ever go back to tower records again. i'd never see a new michael jackson concert on the television again. those people i met who were my age, they weren't ever going to be anything but lawyers ever again. all of this made me feel old, so very old.
you've got to give to get.

about a month or two ago, i got invited to go to some selective staff meeting. i don't know why i was invited, but i thought maybe it had something to do with me being one of the few men/non-white members on staff. i agreed to go, though i don't know why. i think that i felt bad for being so anti-social, not having once visited the staff lounge to celebrate the monthly birthdays. every now and then, i go to the all-staff meetings, but it is only so that i can get a free lunch. i usually don't talk to anyone, and i certainly don't participate.

so, i went to that selective staff meeting. i had a vague idea of what it was about. from the email invitation, i figured out that it had something to do with giving and with donations. i went to the meeting. there were four other older, white women there. they shared their ideas about having staff financially contribute to the school. i found the idea absurd, but of course, i couldn't say this. one woman said that she knew how everyone gives, even in his own way. i felt guilty. who should i be giving to? why should i give?

i guess that my whole concept of giving was totally skewed by my experience working at the red cross. when hurricane katrina hit, i saw the flood of donations roll in, and i knew that people really wanted to help. however, i also bore witness to gross incompetency. i heard about (and saw) all kinds of volunteers boozing it up in new orleans, driving their rental cars back to their home states, abandoning them on the side of the road. i thought about some old lady in wisconsin writing out a check, and having it go straight to paying off a round for the boys. my on-site manager told me that an estimated 188 rental cars had been stolen and/or lost, and that was just in new orleans. i could've binged for three straight weeks on the company dime, and i never would've been held accountable. there was zero accountability.

even here at the school, an institution that prides itself on its mission of social justice, i see a lot of waste. there are lavish events with open bars and unnecessary desserts. staff members gallivant on costly retreats. currently, i'm working on the budget just for our department. on one event with an open bar, we dropped over $2,000. and that was just for one night. i don't understand why i'm being asked to give back when i can almost guarantee that the few dollars i can scrounge together will be wasted away on something completely frivolous.

at the meeting, i talked about how i usually didn't give back when i see how much other wealthy families and individuals have already contributed. "what good is my $5 when bill gates gives the school $50 million?" stacey agreed with me, but another woman said that it wasn't about the dollar amount. that it was about principle, that it was about the act of giving. they thought of different ideas for trying to encourage staff to give back to the institution. one idea they had was to have a jeans day. people who gave back could get a pass to wear jeans to work.

yesterday, i got a personalized email from another staff member, asking me to contribute. i want to just ignore it, but i know the guy, and he's a decent guy. most likely, i'll have to make a list of excuses, how i just attended a wedding, how i'm going to visit family next weekend, how i have bills and loans to pay, and i'm sorry, but now's just not a good time. my co-worker is similarly outraged at the personalized email she received. we talked about british airways, and the recent news article that says how the company, hit with financial troubles, is now encouraging workers to take unpaid leave, or even to work for free.

so, those are the messages i've been getting from my teachers, my religion, my school, my culture, my employers, my country: work hard! save! give back! that's socialism! share! spend! save! help the disenfranchised! fight the communists! shop 'til you drop! mo' money mo' problems! sell it to cash!

and, as always, i shush them all away. sorry, but now's just not a good time.
how'd elvis get so big?

unlike most people, i was never a big michael jackson fan. i didn't get the appeal, and i didn't get all crazy over his dance moves the way most people did. i remember watching him on mtv as a kid. my uncle mike said, "watch! he's gonna grab himself. there's nothing there." i didn't really understand what uncle mike was talking about. was he implying that michael jackson lacked genitalia, the way a department store mannequin did? i waited for the moment with great anticipation. michael grabbed his crotch. "bastos!" my mom would say, tagalog for "nasty." i was kind of let down. it wasn't controversial or cool or anything. madonna with the cone bra, now i could see how that could be controversial.

i didn't get michael jackson the same way i didn't get elvis. i remember hearing about how elvis died, taking a dump and all. sometimes, i thought about elvis taking a dump while eating a peanut butter sandwich, but i don't think that's how he went. i think i confused that image with myself eating a sandwich on the toilet when i was five, or else mistaking elvis with the way mama cass elliot died, choking to death on a hoagie. every time my mom caught me eating something while lying down, she'd warn me. "mamas and the papas," she'd say, and somehow, i'd always know exactly what she was talking about.

so no, i don't think the king was eating anything when he died on the throne. all those anti-materialist counter-culture loonies always talked about how his death was such a perfect metaphor for our doomed culture. we americans are on top of the world, we're so popular, and then we're just gonna eat everything up and cease to exist when we use up all our resources. there was an elvis special on television once, the kind they always play when it's his birthday, january 8. they were probably showing some concert, or else blue hawaii or something. i turned to my cousin, and i asked, "how'd elvis get so big?" he laughed, pointing out the absurdity of my question. "how'd elvis get so big?" he repeated. "he's the king."

but honestly, i didn't get it. he shook his hips, and he drove all the women wild. my mom would always tell me when it was his birthday. as good catholics, we'd observe the epiphany of the three kings, january 6, and then two days later, the king's birthday. i think my dad loved elvis more than my mom. i think that, as children, both of them listened to a whole lot of elvis. but all his movies were shit, the hip gyrations were lame, and the dazzling outfits and utter arrogance (and later, i would learn, blatant racism) were just too much for me. i hated elvis.

i didn't hate michael jackson. i just didn't get it. my college roommate, tony meatballs, was obsessed with michael jackson. there was a period where he would watch all of michael's videos, michael jackson concerts, even pepsi commercials that featured michael jackson. it got to the point where i even had to tell him, "okay, no michael jackson when i'm here." he'd put on his headphones and watch the king of pop for hours on end. i had to ask him, "why are you so into michael jackson?" tony would respond, "i don't know, man. the man can sing. the man can dance. he can do it all!" i'd shake my head in disgust.

because both meagan and tony meatballs were such big michael jackson fans, we had john tape the exclusive two hour interview that aired in 2003. all i remember from that interview was michael climbing up a tree and the reporter just shooting him confused looks. the reporter couldn't understand why michael couldn't just be an adult, why he couldn't just have a normal job and be miserable like everybody else. i thought the reporter came across as a real condescending asshole. michael made a fool of himself, though, saying that he only had two nose jobs "that [he] could remember." and when asked about his drastic overall physical transformation, he simply attributed this to "adolescence." "it's called 'changing,' it's called 'adolescence,'" he said.

michael jackson died today. my co-worker, emily, and i were watching the story unfold on cnn. i told her about my cousin and how he kept hitting the "refresh" button on his browser the day anna nicole smith died. i told her he'd hit refresh, and it would say anna nicole smith was rushed to the hospital. he'd hit refresh, and it would say anna nicole smith was in terrible condition. he'd hit refresh, and she was dead. that's essentially what we did today. we were rubbernecking on the internet superhighway. people tweeted his death even before it became official. the trending topics were: michael jackson, rip michael jackson, p michael jackson, thriller, #michaeljackson, cardiac arrest, and the list went on.

i had a huge grin on my face all afternoon. i was smiling to myself at how sick we were, joking about how we were just waiting for the actual death to be confirmed. "it's so sad," stacey said, but she didn't really look sad. she had more of a mock-frown expression on her face. i thought about how strong his presence had been in our culture. like tim and david brent doing his dance moves on the bbc version of the office. and screech wearing the black suit and white glove. and the thriller dance that filipino prisoners performed, and that jennifer garner's character performed on 13 going on 30. he played a large role in shaping our culture, but no one in the office was really that sad about it.

i think i will be more emotionally distraught when steve perry goes.
you look like roger moore.

some drunk fool was talking to himself at the back of the bus yesterday. the bus driver said, "to the gentleman at the back of the bus, please use your soft voice. thank you." the drunk fool kept talking to himself. he was speaking gibberish, and the people around him, myself included, chose to ignore him. at some point, the asian guy sitting next to him put his hand on his shoulder. "what will you be eating tonight?" he asked the drunk fool. "steak? chicken?" i couldn't make out the drunkard's reply. the asian guy couldn't, either.

"you look like roger moore," the asian guy said to the drunkard. the drunkard babbled something incoherent, and then said something about how he was an american. "what're you? you're like asian or something. some kind of asian?" the asian guy nodded and laughed, trying to be friendly. he did his best to keep things cool. no one knew what the incoherent drunk fool was capable of. thankfully, the drunkard and the asian deboarded at jackson street. the drunkard was really out of it, and he almost fell over a few times. "easy," the asian said, putting his hand on the drunkard's back.

there was a black guy with dreads who looked like ice-t. ice-t sat down where the drunk fool had been sitting. "i had to get away from there," ice-t said. "i was looking at you, thinking he be talking to you, but i saw that you all were just ignoring him, so i said i'm gonna ignore him, too." he was talking to two black women now. one of the black women said, "yeah, i was afraid i was gonna start bustin' up. i saw a smirk on her face, and i was about to start laughin'!" "that guy was messed up," the other black woman said, "he needed some help real bad." ice-t started talking about jesus and the story about casting the first stone, and then something about prostitutes in the bible.

all the while, i just kept reading unaccustomed earth. why can't we all just be characters in a jhumpa lahiri story?
you're incredibly stupid.

at the reception table, i sat down next to martin. martin didn't really seem nice at all. he asked me what i did in seattle, and i told him that i go to concerts and movies and stuff. i also added that now that the weather has been nice, i've been running. he responded with, "is it just something you say you do, but you don't actually do it?" i felt accused of lying, so i just agreed. i asked him what he did for fun in north carolina, and he said, "nothing." i waited for a follow-up, and when none came, we both sat there silently. vern said something to me, and when i asked him to repeat what he had said, martin said, "he said, 'you're incredibly stupid.'" while i knew he was joking, martin didn't smile. usually, normal people who tell jokes smile after they've told a funny. normal people also don't make jokes like that when they've just met someone for the first time.

after a long time of saying nothing, martin asked me if i had always lived in seattle. i told him no, and that i originally lived in sacramento. i asked him where he was from before moving to north carolina. "south africa," he said. a response like that would've warranted some follow-up questions, but i was already irritated with him, so i just nodded. we sat there for a long time saying nothing, and when the d.j. finally announced that the crowd should move to the tent for cake and dancing, i was relieved. i didn't say goodbye or anything. i just stood up, and hauled ass out of there.

when the dancing had begun, i felt better. some people could really shake it. i wasn't one of them.
they arrest monkeys.

the three of us stood around the prius in the parking lot. the slightly awkward after-party had just ended, and we were talking about indian women. "indian women are amazing," i said. "seriously," prashant said. "something about those saris," i said. "yeah, totally. i just wanna...i mean, don't you just wanna, like grab their..what is it? their love handles." we were dying. "are you with me on this?" prashant asked. hardeep just said, "uhh," and then he looked at me. "yeah, i think you're on your own with this one." we were cracking up, and prashant wouldn't stop. "i just wanna go up to one of them and just flick their sides." hardeep and i were just like, what the fuck?

prashant rode with me in the prius. he was totally smashed, eyes bloodshot, beer breath, everything. he told me about meera, hardeep's cousin, and how he had been pouring her liquor throughout the reception. "so, she was just getting drunker and drunker, and she was hilarious! she was all like, 'everyone in my family hates me because i'm just so much prettier than everyone else.' and 'they all hate on me because i have so many friends. i was a kai!' i don't know what that was," prashant said, "like she was in a sorority or something."

outside the house, hardeep and prashant were telling me all about india. "yeah, no joke, dude. my cousin has this farm, and there was marijuana growing fucking everywhere. shit grows like mint." "like what?" i asked. "mint," he repeated. "and get this, during their holy week, they roll it up into balls and they just eat it." "it's like eating a brownie," hardeep said. "the whole village just gets stoned. and then they let cobras into their house." "what?" i asked. "yeah, that shit's not cool," hardeep said. "they let these cobras into the house," prashant repeated. "so, they just get stoned and try to dodge cobras?" i asked. they laughed. "no. see, in india, cobras are these sacred animals. they're supposed to, like, bless the house." "oh."

"there's hella monkeys too. and they're some sneaky motherfuckers. i once saw this guy carrying a tray of food, and this monkey just jumped on his back. so, he was all distracted trying to get this monkey off his back, and another monkey comes running up, and snatches the food away. so the guy starts chasing the monkey, and when he finally catches him, the monkey lobs it up to his buddy, who's already halfway up a tree." "yeah," hardeep said, "they're smart little bitches. no joke." "they're like citizens over there," prashant said. "cops even arrest them." "they arrest monkeys?" i asked, incredulous. "yeah, i mean, they don't lock them up. they pick out the ones they know are trouble, and then they ship them off to a different part of the country."

at the end of the night, prashant still looked pretty smashed. hardeep said he could crash for the night, but he said he was good to go. he still had a half-finished bottle of beer in his hand. "are you sure you can drive?" i asked. he shrugged me off, and said, "oh yeah, i do this all the time." i started laughing. "you still have a beer in your hand!" hardeep laughed, too. "yeah, at least dump that shit before you leave." "oh, i will," he said. this image of him holding his fifth or sixth beer of the night, and him shrugging off my suggestion that he was too trashed to drive lasted with me for a while. i found it hilarious, and i couldn't stop laughing.

friends don't let friends drive drunk. they just laugh at them.
sikh to the max.

i wore a green turban to the sikh wedding. i didn't know they could be so much work. hardeep showed me the long fabric, and we stretched it out, longer than a king-sized bedsheet. "pull it taut," he said. he walked toward me and made four giant knots in the folded fabric. he had me sit in a green chair, and he told me to hold the end of it right in front of my mouth. he started wrapping it around my head. "i didn't know this was so much work," i said. "i always thought you could just plop it on your head like a hat." "yeah," he said, "it's easy to put it on myself, since i do it all the time, but i've never put one on someone else."

when he finished, he was dissatisfied with the result. "it looks...okay," he said. "maybe my dad will fix it for you." i went upstairs, leaving hardeep to finish getting ready in the basement. "oh, nice turban," his uncle said to me. hardeep reappeared. "can you fix it for him?" he asked. his uncle had me sit down on the sofa, and he made some minor adjustments. "it still looks sloppy," hardeep said, "but i think it will be alright." his uncle said it looked fine.

everybody left, and jaspreet's mother asked that i stay behind so that i could drive jaspreet to the temple. i agreed. rather than watch the make-up artist put the finishing touches on her, though, i opted to watch some indian cable. there was a show with a hot indian girl (rucha gujrati), and it was called shh... phir koi hai. basically, the girl would walk around looking hot, and then some crazy demon who looked like a cross between marilyn manson and the lead singer from the cure would kill people. it felt like an indian version of twin peaks.

at the sikh temple, or gurdwara, i had to take off my shoes. hardeep was still disappointed with my haphazard turban, so he told his cousin to rewrap it for me. his cousin led me to the back hallway, sandwiched between the kitchen and office. he had me sit in a chair, and he began rewrapping it. "it's too thick," he said. "would it be easier if i just wore one of those orange ones?" i asked, pointing to the head of a nearby guest. "yes," he said, "much easier. let me find one." he found an orange bandana, and he put it on my head.

i walked to where there was food. it was only about nine in the morning, but i had only gotten about five hours of sleep, so i thought i deserved a pepsi. i took a small plate and loaded it up with these small green, pink, and white sugar balls, something deep fried, and then something else also deep fried. i sat down against a wall and ate until it was time for the ceremony. i followed everyone into the main room, where the men sat on one side, all our heads covered, and the women with their saris and veils, or purdahs, sat on the other. there was a big screen with a powerpoint that showed all the prayers and chants in english. at the very bottom of the screen, it read: sikh to the max.

then, anil and jaspreet got married.
do you know why you're here today?

girl was crazy, i knew it from the start. my boss had volunteered me to accompany her, since she said she didn't want to go to the tacoma detention center alone. i didn't want to go, but of course, it wasn't like i could say no. no, sorry, i don't want to accompany her. i'm so swamped with work here at my desk! "the girl is kind of off," my boss warned me. "oh great," i said. "yeah, she kept using the word 'illegals.' she said that she had married some 'illegals' and now she is interested in immigration law." "should be interesting," i said. "yeah, it took me about forty-five minutes to break through to her," my boss said. wonderful.

virginia kind of looked like millie from freaks & geeks. she had a flat face, and shoulder-length brown hair. she drove all the way from lacey to pick me up. that means she made the drive from lacey to seattle (an hour drive), then back down to tacoma (a forty minute drive heading back toward lacey). she was one of the most socially awkward people i've ever met. i stopped dead in my tracks when i saw what kind of car she drove. it was a 2003 blue acura rsx with a spoiler. something straight out of fast & furious. the seats had leather covers with - get this - blue fucking flames on them. "i wanted to get flames on the sides [of the car], but i got a dog instead," she said.

yeah, i couldn't make this shit up.

"so, are you" i asked. it was my turn to be the socially awkward one. "yeah, i like cars," she said, "but it's more a matter of me not wanting to drive that, or that." she was pointing at some average-looking cars. a subaru hatchback, a corolla. she talked about how cars were expensive, and how she could probably pay for law school if she didn't have a car. she told me that she went to st. martin's college and studied political science. she is now an evening student because she works full-time at a beads store in her hometown. "it sucks!" she said. "what's so bad about it?" i asked. "it's a beads store!" she said. she said she had worked there for five years, and that it wasn't very professional. hence, law school.

i asked why she was interested in immigration law. she said, "i probably won't do immigration law. i want to make money when i graduate. if i did immigration law, i'd probably do it for free." i nodded. then she added, "the other reason is that i married an illegal - i guess that's not the politically correct term - undocumented - and i learned all about immigration stuff through that experience." "how old were you when you married?" i asked. "nineteen," she said. she continued. "there were all kinds of problems. he turned out to be a huge asshole, and there was domestic violence. and he ended up having sex with a fourteen year-old. and then his sister killed his daughter..." she kind of trailed off and moved onto something else at that point. i didn't press her for anymore details. she told me that she later married another mexican. another illegal.

when we got to the courtroom, i immediately recognized the judge and federal prosecutor. it was the same two guys from my last visit to the detention center. the judge was lecturing a mexican woman about "the rules" of this country, and how this country is "a country of immigrants," and that it welcomes all people of all nations, so long as they play by "the rules." the woman was weeping. she was ordered to be deported.

the judge then called the names of four mexican men, and all of them said via the translator that they would like to represent themselves. the judge seemed more confident and condescending than the last time i had seen him. he asked the questions as though he were addressing a toddler, like in a sing-song kind of way. "do you know why you're here to-dayyy?" it started driving me nuts.

three men were deported, two were given an application for voluntary departure. the latter were given this because they had entered "illegally" at such a young age, 7 and 10, respectively. both claimed that they had come to this country alone. if their stories were true, these were fucking men, i thought. "did a coyote bring you over?" the judge asked. they said they didn't know. the judge asked if they had any family in the states. i couldn't help but wonder if it was to try and track them down, have them deported as well. both said they had aunts and uncles. both also had prior convictions. m.i.p.'s, the prosecutor read. "what's an m.i.p.?" the judge asked. "a minor in posession," the prosecutor answered. "in possession of what?" the judge asked. "alcohol."

the judge explained to them, and to me, that a voluntary departure meant that they could not apply to re-enter the united states until ten years had passed. deportation meant two ten-year bars from the state, a total of twenty years of exile. the judge got angry when he saw that the translator was conversing with the defendant. "all of this is being recorded, so you need to tell me what you're saying to him!" the judge snapped. the translator apologized and explained. i felt bad that he was talking to her that way. in my mind, she had much more skill than he had.

at the end of the hearings, i started feeling bad for everyone. i realized that the federal prosecutor and the judge had been pulling the same routine for just about everyday since the last time i visited, nearly six months ago. they go through the motions, dragging out hearing after hearing, even though they know within the first thirty seconds of each case that there's a 99% chance the defendant will be deported. it's all a big show performed in the name of national security, but the irony is, the only ones watching are the families being torn apart.

bail was posted for one man at $10,000. his family was there, and the lawyer looked at the eldest daughter, as if to ask, "can we accept this?" the daughter shrugged. the mother couldn't understand english, and the other two daughters were too young to know what was happening. she had to deal with it. the judge gave them some time to think it over. he said that he could raise the bail, but it was doubtful that he could lower it. who comes up with these numbers? i wanted to know. bail at $25,000 for an immigrant detainee. a multi-billion dollar bailout for a failed bank. fucking idiots and their fucking monopoly money.

we hit traffic on the way home. there was a big accident near boeing field. there were three helicopters, firetrucks, the whole shebang. as we drove by, i rubbernecked. the car was completely toasted to its skeleton, the kind of images i only see in pictures of war.
dear ben.

dear ben,

i heard you're married now. congratulations. when we were friends, and we talked, i always thought i'd end up being your best man someday. i really thought we were best friends just because we listened to the same music and shared the same negative outlook on life. pretty foolish, huh?

i still don't get why you stopped talking to me the summer before freshman year. it was all very weird to me. you said that it was because i "fucked up [your] computer," but it must've been something else. maybe you just wanted to make new friends. nothing wrong with that. i just wish you had told me that was the real reason. who knows? maybe i did fuck up your computer.

i don't know why you hung out with us asian kids. that was a weird thing for a white kid to do. you were like the opposite of noel. a filipino with the white kids, and you, a white kid with the asians. what an anomaly. you even played on the a team with the white kids, but you hung out with us. maybe it was a class issue. your house wasn't as big as the one all those white kids had.

your house was weird. i remember when we were hanging out in your room, and your mom opened the door. "shut the fucking door," you said to her. my jaw must have hit the floor. your mom just looked at me. "you see the way he talks to me?" she said. she shut the door like you had asked. and then we probably listened to korn or marilyn manson or the deftones, and we thought we were cool.

we both liked the same girl. her name was becca. i never talked to her in real life, but sometimes i'd talk to her on aol. her screenname was bekaboo360. i'd chat with her, and she'd chat with me, even though she didn't know who i was. she seemed sad a lot of the time, and i kind of liked that. she was in love with some douchebag named kevin, though. i didn't know who the hell he was, and i don't think you did, either. you told me you danced with her at cotillion. i never went. i think i had social anxiety disorder, or else i just wanted people to feel bad for me.

you hated school as much as i did. why go to school when we could just be rockstars. i told you we should start a band. i had a guitar, and you ended up buying a bass, but i think that you gave up on it. we never jammed. i'd show you that i could play riffs from songs we heard on kwod 106.5 like "1979" and "just a girl." you, me, carly, and claire. we were the only "rockers" at the school. rock and roll, man.

we went to our first rock concert together. we saw little guilt shrine, dada, the plimsouls, solution a.d. and jewel. it was 1996, and it was kwod's first summerfest. my cousin took us, and joseph and dong came along, even though they hated the music. what the hell were we even doing there? what an odd group.

that was the same summer we all decided to shave our heads. you said i looked weird, like billy corgan. i didn't realize until i had shaved my head that my face was really round, and that i didn't look good with a shaved head. everyone else could pull it off. i remember when my mom first saw me with all my hair gone. she looked shocked, and she had to sit down. she told me it was bad, and that she didn't like it.

i remember when we had latin together. i instant messaged you one night. i asked what the deal was, and were you really never going to talk to me again? "that's the plan," you wrote back. i argued that we were going to see each other everyday, and that avoiding each other would be impossible. "i don't give a fuck," you wrote back. you really wanted nothing to do with me.

at the time, i was really upset about it. but now that i'm older, and now that a handful of friendships have dissolved on me already, i don't let it get to me.

we're all replaceable.
a fine line one walks with strangers.

he was sitting on the bottom steps of the staircase, the one that led up to the back deck. in the yard, there was a small net, and two guys were playing badminton. in between bites of potato salad, he pretended to be keeping score, as the two strangers had asked him to. a girl sat down next to him. she had a hot dog and a hamburger on her paper plate. in her other hand, she had a corona. surprisingly, she immediately introduced herself. "i'm cat," she said. he said his name, and they shook hands.

it was now around eight o'clock, and the temperature was cooling down. he asked who she knew at the party. "i live next door," she said. she pointed to the decaying blue house next door. "oh," he said. "how about you?" "a friend of a friend who lives here," he said. she smiled her nice smile, showing her small teeth. he picked at the potato salad. "so," he said, "what do you do?" it was a fine line he was walking, and he knew it. that fine line one walks with strangers, trying not to be boring, trying not to seem too inquisitive, too nosy. "i work in sales," she said, "really boring stuff. what about you?" he told her what he did, being as vague as possible. sometimes, he wasn't even sure of it.

they kept talking about things, and all the while, he was hyper-aware of how one topic fluidly flowed into the next. work, and then school, and then friends, and then books, and then music, and then weekends. and then interspersed somewhere in there was something about the westboro crazies. he tried to joke about how he was going to make a counter-protest sign, one that read, "god hates the new facebook." the badminton ball dropped next to her corona. she threw it back.

they didn't speak for a long time. he had run out of things to say, and it seemed as though she did, too. he then remembered that he had an ounce in his cargo pocket. he undid the velcro and pulled out a small, crumpled-up plastic bag. "wanna get high?" he asked. the words came out of his mouth so casually, that he had to stop and reconsider. was he being awesome or an asshole? he was so bored, it didn't matter. it was saturday evening. tomorrow, he would probably do nothing, and then monday, it was back to work. doing anything would be an adventure. "sure," she said.

they decided to go down to the basement. he put it in his head that he wouldn't get too high because it was always a bad idea to get too high in an unfamiliar environment. there was an old clock radio in the corner. "what should we listen to?" he asked. "it doesn't matter," she said, "k.e.x.p." he put the station on, moving . the dj was playing old-time folk and bluegrass music. he offered her the better seat, the ripped-up leather recliner, and he sat down on a dusty lawn chair. "i'm not the best at rolling these," he said. she said that she would give it a try.

it ended up being a lumpy little joint. they passed it back and forth, not talking. she laid back in the recliner. "this is nice," she said. he didn't answer her. he was staring out the small window, the one that only had a view of long blades of grass. "what are you thinking about?" she asked. "the movie up," he said. "what about it?" "i don't know," he said. "it's just kind of hilarious when you think about it." "what, those talking dogs?" she asked. "no," he said, "like the first twenty minutes when their whole life passes them by, and they never accomplish their big dream in life." "that's not funny!" she said. "that was so depressing." "yeah," he said, "but think of all the kids that are watching that movie. they can dream all they want, and nothing will ever come true." "i don't think that was the point," she said.

then what was it? he wanted to say, but didn't.
ludlow vs. aldridge.

"you need a room?"
"yeah, i just wanna try these on." i was holding a t-shirt and a polo shirt.
she unlocked the door. "okay, my name's jamie. let me know if you need anything else."
"alright, thanks," i said.
i put on the t-shirt. i didn't really like the color. it was kind of gray, kind of white. almost like the shirt couldn't decide. i put the polo shirt on. i couldn't tell if it was too small and tight, or if it looked right. i felt like i used to know these things. should i be wearing a medium? i decided not to get either. i looked around the store some more, but didn't find anything i liked.

i went back to the fitting rooms. i asked jamie if i could get fitted for a suit, even though i had no intention to buy one that day. she said she would call someone to help me. i was disappointed that she wouldn't help me herself. a few minutes later, this fool showed up. he was wearing jeans and a plaid sportscoat. he shook my hand.
"my name's..." and then i forgot what his name was.
"so," he said, "are you looking to buy a suit today, or did you bring one in to be altered?"
"no, i don't have a suit," i said.
"now, is this for a job interview, just an everyday suit, or what?"
"it's for a wedding," i said.
"is it outside, inside?"
"i think it's inside."
"is it your wedding?"
"no," i said.

there was a woman behind him, and she was wearing a green cardigan. he introduced her, and said that she was in training to sell suits. he opened up the catalog, and he showed me the two different kinds of suits the store carried. one was called the ludlow style, the other aldridge. the ludlow style looked much sleeker. he said it came in wool or linen, whereas aldrige was more like a chino fabric. i didn't know what he was talking about, so i nodded along.

finally, he busted out the tape measure and took my measurements.
"what do you normally wear, waist-wise?"
"32," i said.
"now with the classic fit, sometimes that sits higher on the waist, so you'll normally want to go up a few numbers. don't be shocked when i measure you and the number is higher than what you normally wear, a 32," he said.
he wrapped the tape around my stomach. "see?" he said.
i looked down and saw that the number stopped at 37.

when he finished, he wrote down all the numbers on a card. he kept telling me that i should order in the store because if i were to order online, i'd get hit with a shipping fee. "and it's about $20, $25," he said. "okay," i said. i liked that he wasn't pressuring me to buy a suit right there and then. he didn't seem like a desperate salesman, and it actually made me feel more inclined to buy a suit, even though i didn't.
clap your hands say no.

my nose was running a little because of allergies. i was listening to rap music on 92.5. the worst is when the music stops, and then it's brooke and monty's ladies' room show. the ladies room is awful, and i doubt that any listeners care about what brooke and monty have to say about anything. no, i'd rather be listening to soulja boy's "kiss me thru the phone" at 8:00 in the morning.

there isn't much traffic on rainier ave. s. in the morning. sometimes there is, though, when a bunch of cars are trying to get onto i-90 towards bellevue/spokane. i pass by a wendy's, a burger king, a 7-11, a qfc, a lowe's. this morning, i saw two men at a bus stop, and they were communicating in sign language. i thought about articles i've read in the past where deaf people got shot for doing sign language. ghetto gangsters mistook them for throwing up gang signs.

after i parked, i started walking to the school. there was a campus security guard waking up a black man who was sleeping on the lawn. i found this upsetting. i don't understand why undergrads can frollick around, sunbathe, and take naps half-naked when a fully-clothed, presumably homeless black man cannot. what upset me the most is the way the douchebag campus security guard woke him up. he clapped his fucking hands, like the black dude was a dog. i should've said something, and caused a scene. if i got arrested in the name of social justice, i think my boss would be cool with it.
the homecourt advantage.

he called me at about 11:30. "i'm here," he said. "okay," i said, "i'll come down." i walked downstairs, and found him sitting outside next to his black bike. "nice bike," i said, "where'd you get it?" "off craigslist," he said. "do you mind if i just go to my friend's place and change clothes?" "no," he said, "not at all." we started walking toward the cafeteria. i passed by a law student named kate, and we said hello to each other. "it must be nice working on campus, surrounded by all these cute girls." "yeah, it's not bad," i said.

"so, what's the deal with you and what's-her-name?" he asked. i told him her name. "we're just friends," i said. he looked disappointed. we passed some undergrads. "i'm just gonna run upstairs and change. i'll be quick." "i'll just stay with my bike," he said. i went upstairs and changed into a shirt and shorts. then i came back down. "you were like superman in there." it took me a while to realize that he was referring to clark kent changing into his superman outfit in the telephone booth.

"we can play at the gym, but i don't know if i can get you in." "have you been in there before?" he asked. "yeah, but not with a guest. there might be a fee. if there's a fee, i can drive us up to the central district." he agreed. we got to the connolly center. i handed over my staff i.d. and said that i had a guest with me. "that's fine," the asian girl said, "you'll just have to fill out these two forms, and it'll be five dollars." five dollars? to play basketball at a gym? i told her we just wanted to play basketball, and that we'd go someplace else. i felt cheap, but it didn't matter.

"well, if you want, you can leave your bike here, and i can drive us to judkins park." "you think i should just leave the bike here?" "yeah," i said, "it's as safe a place as any." he locked up his bike, and we started walking. we came to a school that had a stretch of field north of it, a park where homeless people slept. "there's a hoop," i said. we cut through the homeless people park and unloaded our gear on a cement stoop. i shot the basketball first. it hit the rim with a loud clang. i shot again. clang. clang, clang. "must have some loose bolts," he said.

we shot around, and then we played some one-on-one. i don't have very good one-on-one skills, so i would mostly shoot from the outside. he had better skills. we talked about intramural sports, work, march madness pools, girls, and books. we played a game of horse, and out of pure dumb luck, i won. "you have the homecourt advantage," he said. "next time, we'll play at genessee." i agreed. "this is great," i said, "a long leisurely lunch, some exercise and sun." "that's how life should be," he said, "everyone should get enough time off to exercise, have lunch, and enjoy the sun."

i agreed with him some more.
a very important person.

i was at game crazy, trying to get a used game. that was my first mistake. "what's v.i.p.?" my friend said, then he answered his own question: "oh, a very important person." the v.i.p. price tag on the used game was cheaper than the normal price, but not by much. maybe by like $5 or so. i picked it up, and brought it to the counter. the clerk behind the counter was a real piece of work. a tall, graying white guy with glasses. he looked like a real chi mo.

"umm, i'm not sure if we have that," he said. "oh okay," i said. "it might just be a ghost case," he said. he looked for the disc in a drawer full of discs and white sleeves with circular windowpanes. my friend asked him about another game. "no, we don't have it," the clerk said. "no one ever pre-ordered it, so we didn't bother buying any." it didn't surprise me that no one had pre-ordered the game. it was south seattle, after all, where i racistly assume most kids are more interested in a owning pair of a yeezys and possibly a .45 than acquiring the latest version of halo.

somehow, the pathetic clerk started talking about where he was from. he said he was from the south. louisiana or alabama, i forget. he said that when he first moved up here, people kept asking him to say, "y'all." "they'd ask me to say, 'how you doin', y'all?' and 'how y'all doin'?' it was funny at first, but then it just got kind of old. 'how you doin', y'all?' 'how y'all doin'?'" he kept repeating the phrase, four or five times at least, enough to make me believe that he was, in fact, not just game crazy, but crazy crazy. i guess one had to be, being a full grown man and all, and working at a game crazy in south seattle. poor bastard.

i couldn't pity him too much, though, because he was really pressuring me to become a v.i.p. during our encounter, i told him twice that i didn't even own an xbox, or any video game system for that matter, so buying a v.i.p. membership would kind of seem beside the point. "i'm telling you, though," he continued, "i turned this thing down for like the first three months, then when i finally got on board, i looked at all the money i could've saved, and i was just kicking myself!"

the man seriously would not let up. he was convinced i needed a v.i.p. pass, no matter what words were coming out of my mouth. i really started to hate him. maybe because he was so persistent, as though i was personally insulting him by not buying the membership. i was absurdly envious of his dedication to something so pointless as selling used video games at a retail chain store. whenever customers said no to barnes and noble memberships, i would always immediately back down. i didn't even try because, well...who really gives a shit.

i finally told the asshole no for the fifth time, and he finally gave up. he asked me if i wanted disc protection, an additional measly fifty cents. i rejected that, too. he finally ended with something like, "you really shouldn't have turned down that membership. if i see you in here buying a video game again..." i kind of just blocked out the rest. what irritating, piss poor customer service. at that point, i think i was just really annoyed by the fact that this loser of a salesman was talking to me like i was a stupid child.

and some of my friends still ask me why i don't own an xbox.

my friend likes parks, so i said that she should see seward park. i took her there on saturday. it was a cloudy day, and i thought that we would just hang out on the shore. "do you want to walk a little bit?" she asked. i said, "sure." we started walking around the park. i said that there were probably trails that led up to the trees, but that i had never been up there before. "maybe one day i will," i said.

we heard a rustling in the bushes. "what is that?" i said. "i think it's a possum? but it has no tail," she said. "don't possums usually have tails?" "i think so," i said. the animal was small. we kept guessing what it could be. "is it a rat?" she said. "i don't think so," i said. "rats usually have tails." "maybe it's a hedgehog," she said. i immediately thought of sonic zooming up and down hills, grabbing those golden rings. "maybe," i said, "i'm really bad at knowing what certain animals are." "me too," she said, "but my mom is good at it."

we had only walked a couple hundred yards when she said that she was out of breath. "that's probably bad, huh?" she asked. "i guess so," i said. i told her that i was out of shape, and that i get short of breath after running just for ten minutes or so. she told me about how some of her coworkers talk about biking 60 miles, or else competing in a triathalon. "60 miles?" she said. "i'm like, what?" we laughed at the absurdity of it. i couldn't imagine biking 10 miles.

after we had walked a little more, she asked if maybe we should turn around. "at this point, it'd be faster to just finish the walk," i said. suddenly, we heard gunshots. seven of them. "that's..." i was so shocked, i couldn't think of the word. "that's comforting," she said. "i think someone just got got," i said. i remembered, though, that she had stopped watching the wire, and maybe didn't know what i was talking about. either way, i didn't elaborate. "i always note the time when i hear something like that," she said. she looked at her cell phone. "6:57," she said.

"have you ever seen some crazy shit go down in real life?" i asked. she said she hadn't. and then she remembered that she once saw a guy on the bus masturbating, or else having a seizure. she couldn't tell. "because they're so similar," i said, jokingly. "i'd never seen someone have a seizure before, so i didn't know what it looked like," she said. she said that it was a while before someone else noticed, and then had him helped off the bus. "i was like, 'should i have said something?'" i told her about the accident i witnessed on broadway. the image of the lifeless man face-down in the street still haunts me.

we heard an ambulance. "now i wonder if something really did happen," she said. "probably," i said. minutes later, we saw a cop car patrolling the park. when we got closer to where we began, we noticed nothing was different. a group of white people were standing around chatting. an asian family watched while their kids played on the swings and playground. people were still having their barbecue. no cops, no ambulance, nothing out of the ordinary.

the following day, she posted a link to an article about the shooting on twitter. apparently, a "stocky black male in his 20's" had fired some rounds at a group of people celebrating a graduation at seward park. nobody was hurt, and the suspect was never found.
i'm too fly to be depressed.

in my dream, i was playing guitar and some black teenagers wanted to sing along. i started to play ne-yo's "go on girl," and they sang along. the black dude in my dream had a much better voice. we only got through the first verse, though, because that's all i know in my waking life. i woke up feeling energized, though. it was the weirdest thing. i like playing songs and singing them and having other people sing them, too, even if it's not in real life. i think i like doing that more than buying tickets to a concert, driving to the venue, finding parking, watching some boring opening band, and then waiting a long time, waiting some more, and then finally seeing the band i came to see. and they don't even sound as good as they do on record.

i went back to sleep and woke up around 10 a.m. i read for a little bit. i checked out books from the columbia city library, something i haven't done in months. i checked out unaccustomed earth, stud terkel's working: a graphic novel, i saw you..., and where the wild things are. i finished i saw you..., and i thought it was pretty good. it is a graphic novel based on real-life missed connections. i have been fascinated by missed connections for a long time. i read them when there is nothing else to read on the internet. sometimes, i wish that someone would write a missed connection for me.

after i read, i decided to go back to sleep because i had nothing else to do. i dreamed that i was on gchat. i think that i have a gchat addiction. i am on gchat right now. i know that i have a gchat addiction because i dreamed i was on gchat, and i dreamed that my friend told me to log off. i should log off from gchat. if i become more disconnected from technology, perhaps i won't feel so disconnected from reality. i have been feeling really detached and disconnected from reality more and more lately. it feels as though i haven't felt much of anything in a while now.

i went to bellevue square today because i needed more clothes. sometimes, i don't know what else to do, so i sleep or shop. it is what adbusters and all those liberal books warned me about. i think that i typically succumb as a way of rebellion. liberal hoopla never gave me any real answers or solutions. mostly, i just felt overwhelmed, paralyzed, and frustrated about my inability to do anything meaningful and just in the world. i got fed up with the self-righteousness, the repetitive and didactic rhetoric, so i just quit it. that's how i ended up at bellevue square today.

the way i see it, there's really no fighting it. i am only twenty-six, and there's hardly any fight in me left. i walked around bellevue square, and i saw very many plastic-looking girls. i'm supposed to know better than to want them, but my desire is still there. all the kids there were texting, sipping their frappucinos, wearing hats with the stickers still on them, sporting shiny white shoes, smiling, living their comfortable lives of utter bliss ignorance. i see this and think, maybe they've got it right. doesn't this look more enjoyable than being an isolated curmudgeon bitching about things he can and never will be able to change? i have no answers. i bought some shirts on sale instead. i was a pacified idiot consumer. i am a target market.

afterward, i went to a barbecue at ross' girlfriend's house. i played an armadillo guitar and sang some songs with other people. it was kind of like the dream i had. it counterbalanced all the other mixed feelings i had about shopping earlier in the day.
the good lord is going down on me.

candice said to meet her in the park. i emailed back and said ok. hers was the first ad i saw in the musicians section of craigslist. the title was something like: seeking musicians to support girl-fronted indie pop band or something. i might've just been too lazy to scroll through all the other listings, as i knew i'd find the usual shit. "drummer wanted." "bassist needed for experimental rock band." "metal band seeking lead guitarist." typical craigslist bullshit. i decided to give her a chance. i listened to her songs on myspace. girl could write a pop song.

i drove to greenlake, and there was a ton of people there. i couldn't find parking. i was pissed, and i thought about leaving. i was also hungry. i drove around a while and thought that she probably wanted to meet in an open space just in case i was a serial killer. then i thought about how the location was a prime place for a serial killer to be. i finally found parking, and then i hung out by some volleyball nets. by then, i was already twenty minutes late. i was upset that she hadn't given me her number in the email thread.

she finally called, and then we met. "so, what do you wanna do here?" i asked. she had brought her bell set with her, which was a mini silver xylophone she had purchased in florida for $30. it was a cool instrument. i had my acoustic guitar. "we could run through some of my songs," she said. "okay," i said. i told her that i learned one song she had on myspace. i started playing the opening chord. "there's another chord after that," she said. she played the bells to show me what was up. it was actually three chords. "all my songs are easy," she said.

she showed me how to play some of her other songs. it took me a while to figure out the chord progressions, and then i'd still forget them. i let her borrow my guitar to show me how to play them. "how long have you been playing guitar?" i asked. "not long," she said, "just about a year and a half." i was jealous. the girl had been playing for a year and a half, and she could write really good songs. i have been playing for at least fourteen years, and the best i've been able to come up with is "indian with a mullet." to be fair, though, she had received classical training for most of her life.

i asked her how to play "jesus saves." "you mean 'dear jesus?'" she asked. "oh yeah," i said. she told me she only played it on piano, and she didn't know the guitar chords for it. she asked if i was a christian. i said no, but that i had been raised catholic. dreading what was coming, i asked her if she was. "yes," she said. i asked if she had found any other musicians for her band. "some," she said. "i was hoping to get more girls, but so far, only guys have responded. stupid responses, too. guys have asked me before to join my band, and i'd ask, 'what do you play?' and they'll say, 'i'd like to play you.'" she shook her head. "stupid," she said.

i gave her a lift home, and she said she'd email me some of her songs so that i could practice them. i'm not sure yet if i will or not.
stop talking and listen.

i'm having a pretty damn good day. i wake up at 8 a.m. and it's sunny out. i listen to 92.5 on the way to work, and they're playing some dr. dre. i pass a cute law student on the street, and she smiles at me. i show up a little late for work, but it doesn't matter because no one is in the office. things are meaningless, but it's sunny out, so the fact that things are meaningless also suddenly becomes meaningless. i play line up on the computer. i read josh reads, a blog where this guy makes fun of comic strips. things are going well.

then, i get a phone call, and it's the worst thing ever. this woman is chirping about something. her cell phone is dying, or else her service sucks, and i can't hear her for shit. i catch little bits and phrases like, "hello," and "sdflghd." i am wondering if she has the wrong number. between her accent and the shitty cell phone, it sounds like she is an inarticulate chinese woman. i tell her again and again that i can't hear her, that i can't understand her. finally, she comes in clearer than she's been the whole time we've been talking. "stop talking and listen!" she says. i am dumbfounded. don't fucking talk to me that way. i will spit in your goddamn face.

she finally speaks into the phone, and i'm able to understand what she wants. she has a meeting with some woman in our office. the whole time, i am thinking, why didn't you just fucking come upstairs like i said to in the email i sent? she finally gets into our office, and she walks by my desk. no hello or anything. in fact, i think she even frowns at me. i apologize for the miscommunication. i think she says, "it's okay," but i can tell she is peeved. she is german. i hate her.

so, after all that went down, i went to lunch, and my misanthropy was slightly alleviated by such gems as what not to wear and project runway. the only german who can tell me to stop talking and listen is heidi klum. now, i am spending the afternoon figuring out schedules and reimbursements. but i think i'll play a few rounds of line up first.
chase what matters.

it was a hot one today. i went to the bank for lunch. well, first i took a nap, and then i went to the bank. i went to the one in the central district, hoping that it was still a washington mutual. it wasn't. it was a chase bank. i had to make a deposit of $60 into my account. i asked the chase clerk if i could make a deposit. she jokingly said, "no," and then she smiled and said "of course." i told her that i started my account at wamu in sacramento. she started having problems. she went to her coworker's computer screen to look something up. she asked me for my social security number.

it took her about eight minutes to deposit the money. i told her that i didn't want to have any trouble making deposits and withdrawals, so i should just get a chase account. she told me some dude could help me. i changed my mind. i told her i go to the bank near the university more often, so i should probably set it up there, instead. she said ok. i changed my mind again. she was taking too long, and i thought about having to wait in line at the other bank, and really, what difference did it make where i set it up so long as i set it up, so i just said i'll do it there. she laughed.

the guy who set up my new chase account was some young white dude. i pictured him just getting out of college, thinking about how he'd like to be a banker and make a lot of money. he filled me in on all the details. it looked pretty much like what wamu offered. i agreed to everything, and didn't read anything. i signed a bunch of papers and got forms for my direct deposit and all the other crap that comes along with starting a new bank account. i thought about what would happen if chase failed, and some other stupid bank had to take over it. i'd have to do the process all over again.

when it was all over, we shook hands. it was a completely stoic transaction. business as usual in america.
i would eat her dookie.

today, i was thinking about this dude named scott. he was part native american or something, and he'd wear his hair in a long ponytail. i worked with him at tower. once, i brought back some baja fresh and a jamba juice for lunch. he said, "man, that's like $10 right there." i didn't think washing down a giant burrito with a smoothie was such a big deal, but he seemed to care. he was a body builder or something. he was rather ripped.

the cool thing about scott was that he was super lazy, but he got away with it. because of school or some other job he had, he only worked at tower on sundays. i think he might have had a part-time job at gold's gym. anyway, since he only worked on sundays, he got the duty every tower employee dreaded: ticketmaster. ticketmaster sucked because it was a really old school system, and you had to pull up codes and shit that didn't make any sense. it was basically like trying to order tickets by using an atari 2600. sometimes, i would see him lying down on the ticketmaster counter. i don't mean that he leaned over it or anything. he literally would get on top of the counter and lie across it like a giant, buff cat.

i also worked with this black guy named brian, and he was a pretty funny dude. one time, brian nudged me, and he said, "hey, how old you think she is?" i looked at the girl he was talking about. she was wearing jean shorts and a yellow tank top. "i don't know. nineteen?" when he rung the girl up, he said, "hey, how old are you?" the girl giggled and said she was sixteen. "sixteen?" he said, incredulous. we watched her leave the store, and she got into her car. "sixteen!" he said again, "that girl is six-teen!" i was dying.

brian seemed to love sweeping the floors. he would sweep for hours. he'd always have an afro pik in his hair, and in between sweeps, he would check out girls and fix his fro with the afro pik. he was pretty smooth, one of those guys that would wink and shit, and be like, "yo, wassup girl, how you doin'?" i don't know if it ever worked or not, but either way, it was quite a sight.

my other co-worker, cris, once tried to hit on a girl. he was eyeing this woman in the magazine section for a good twenty minutes. "that girl is so hot," he said, "i would eat her dookie." i laughed and called him a sick fuck. "seriously," he said, "i would eat her dookie." he said it with such a straight face that i nearly believed him. "you should tell her that," i said. "i've gotta talk to her," he said, "i have to do it." "go do it," i said, even though i didn't quite believe in him. he talked to her for a few minutes, and then he came back. "how'd it go?" i asked. "good. got her number," he said. he showed me a little piece of notebook paper with a number in blue ink.

a few days later, i asked if cris had made plans to see the girl. "she gave me a fucking fake number," he said. "what?" "yeah, i called and it was like a meat packing plant or something. fucking janky." "damn," i said, "that sucks." secretly, though, i thought it was kind of funny.

those days at tower, man. what more can i say?

friend: you wanna go to this vigil in the park? it's at 6.
me: i can't, i have a craigslist sale to make.
friend: ooh. what's the transaction?
me: an iron.
friend: well, what time are you meeting?
me: i'm meeting her at 6.
friend: oh. iron-y.