in airplane mode.

i proctored exams again last night. it was good way to rot my brain, beat the heat, and make some extra bucks. i watched a little bit of bill and ted's bogus journey on hulu. by the time the grim reaper led them to heaven, i had the good sense to stop watching. this indian student came up to me. "i don't know my code," he said. "i'll go ask how you can get it." i went into the exam room and asked the exam coordinator what he should do. "he needs to come see me and bring photo i.d.," she said. "okay."

i went back into the room, and he was looking over his exam. "you have to go to the exam room and show your photo i.d.," i said. he looked at me. "can i just use your internet? i have it in my email." "yeah, sure." i closed out my gchat and allowed him to take over my browser. he logged into yahoo, but then the browser went blank. he looked confused. "i don't know why it's doing this," he said. "yeah, maybe you should just go to the exam room." the exam room was literally next door, and all he had to do was whip out his photo i.d. boom. code acquired. what the hell was his problem?

as he was struggling to figure out his code, another student came up to turn in her exam. she forgot to write the code on one sheet of scratch paper, so i reached over the indian dude to grab a pen. "no, that's my pen!" he said. he actually pulled it out of my hand. the dude was using my laptop, but i couldn't borrow his pen for a second. i didn't get what his deal was. but his breath stank, so i didn't really want to ask what his deal was.

before the exam began, too, another student came up to me. "i don't have a calculator," he said. too bad. dommage. tant pis pour vous. (on another note: is it weird that all i remember from french class is how to say, "sucks for you?") "can i use my iphone?" he asked. "umm, probably not, but i'll see if we can get you a calculator." he then told me two times that he would put his iphone in "airplane mode" so that all he could use was his calculator. was this guy fucking new? did he really think he could use his iphone during a law exam?

i went into the exam office for this guy's benefit, but mostly so i could grab another oreo. "i'm pretty sure the answer is no..." i began. the exam proctor laughed. "but this student forgot his calculator, and he wants to know if he could use his iphone instead." "no," she said. i didn't bother telling her his ridiculous idea to put the iphone in airplane mode. what a waste of words that would've been. i went back into the room. "you can't use your iphone," i said. "oh, that's what i figured," he said.
the non-starbucks starbucks.

saturday was hot as balls. we went anyway, our $24 tickets in pocket, along with the promise of seeing two bands we liked. nearly seven years of living in seattle, a handful of summers, and it took us this long to get to a capitol hill block party. they closed off the streets, and the main stage was located near broadway and on pine, next to the shell station. there was also a vera stage and a neumo's stage, but we didn't bother checking those out. i just wanted to drink, eat junk food, watch indie rock, and feel american.

she had some fish 'n chips at the fish 'n chips place. i ate some of her fries, but mostly, i was glad for the free ice cold water. "who's fabulous?" i asked. we people-watched, and there was twenty-something after twenty-something walking around with big sunglasses, floral-print dresses, mesh hats, scarves tied around the neck, flannel (this is back?) shirts with the sleeves rolled up. how hip, how fabulous - it's good fashion.

i got my beer at some place where they were making fancy pizzas. $5 for a cup of peroni beer. i downed it, then had another. $5 for something else, i can't remember the name. $10 in and i was barely buzzed. another friend met us in front of vita. we decided to get hot dogs. a polish one for me, a veggie one for her. i got onions and cream cheese on mine, then i added some ketchup, mustard, relish, whatever i could find. it was the most amazing hot dog i ever had.

that wasn't enough, though. i wasn't feeling american enough. we decided to go to molly moon ice cream, and i got a scoop of maple walnut on a sugar cone. the girls in there must've been dying, it was so hot. we ate our ice cream in the park. "there's a band playing? don't they know there's a block party going on?" i sat up. "what band?" "that band over there!" i could hear faint music playing at the other end of the park. "fools," i said.

full of ice cream, we sat around, hardly saying a word. what was there to talk about? it was hot out, and we had ice cream, and there were bands playing - bands we didn't particularly care to see - and i was feeling american. what else was there? "let's go check out the coffee shop on 15th." "the non-starbucks starbucks?" i asked. "yes." we walked up 15th, and it was good to walk off the impending food coma.

"so, i read about this," i said. "it's trying to be a mom and pop coffee shop, but it's owned by starbucks, is that it?" "yeah." "i don't get it. are they trying to fool anti-corporate hippies who don't like starbucks, but don't know they're still supporting starbucks? that's a weird demographic to reach." "i'm not sure what they're going for. there were protesters outside when it first opened." "what? what was their message? 'don't deceive me?'"

we had time to kill before the main act, sonic youth. i wanted nachos. we went to taco del mar. they were okay. "i wanted the stuff with the really nasty cheese, though," i said. "i wanted the kind with like radioactive orange all over it." we had on these orange wristbands for the beer garden, and a red ska stamp imprinted on our wrists for re-entry. i had a sprite. no one else wanted a soda. "i'm gonna go home and change into something warmer." it was finally starting to cool down.

we met up with her again at cupcake royale. "seattle is gonna get fat," i said, "what with all these cupcake and ice cream places opening up everywhere." there was a group of kids making a ruckus a few tables over. "what are they, undergrads?" "they look like high schoolers." they started hugging one another. "i wouldn't wanna be in high school again." "but look how happy they are!" "this is depressing. did the best days of my life already pass? it's all gonna be downhill?" i tried to reassure her, but i think i did the opposite. "no, it's all uphill from here!"

we went back out to the concert, but none of us could see the stage. it was pointless. the capitol hill block party was retarded. people started pushing past us, spilling their beer this way and that. "i wanna get out of here," she said. "yeah, i'm ready to go, too." we swam against the current. i loved sonic youth. the breakdown in "sugar kane" alone made me want to learn how to play the guitar. i gave up, though. i couldn't see shit, and anyway, it wasn't worth it.

back in the car, i turned on the radio. it was a cool summer night, and the song about the apple bottom jeans and the boots with the fur was playing. what a relief.
small navy thing with stains.

she said she wanted to meet at 7:00. i agreed to it, then proceeded to think about how i would kill two and a half hours after work. i went to the staff lounge, and this woman susan, was still in her office. she was wiping down a table in her office. "hello!" she said. i said hello back. "i'm just cleaning up a little in here," she said. i stood there, watching her wipe down her table. "can you believe this place hasn't been cleaned out since i moved in, back in 2004?" "wow," i said. "i think it's just you and me right now," she said, "everyone's gone." "yeah, i think so," i said. "what about you? are you heading out soon?" "my friend doesn't get off work for a little bit, so i'm just gonna hang out in the lounge." "oh. well, have a good weekend!" she said. "you too," i said.

i watched a little bit of the simpsons. a little while later, erin came in to get something to drink. i felt weird not saying anything to her, so i said something. "how late are you here 'til tonight?" "well, usually i come in later, so i stay later. i'm doing judicial clerkships right now, so i end up staying pretty late. last year, i'd be here until like four in the morning. it was my first year, you know, so i really wanted to just get it done. but emily's helping me out so much right now, so i don't stay later than ten." "geez," i said. "it's funny, though, the night staff knows me and everything!"

i tried to take a nap, but the only pillow was this small navy thing that had stains on it. even though i used it, i was paranoid about contracting lice or whatever else one could potentially end up with, using a public pillow. i fell asleep for a little while, but then i heard someone opening and closing a door. i felt the need to stay awake, to explain why i was still here on a friday evening by myself. "i'm not homeless, no..." i'd begin, or "no, i actually do have plans tonight, i swear!" but i don't think anyone could blame, really. the staff lounge has a great view, plenty of counter space, and a flat-screen tv with basic cable, all of which are severely lacking in my own apartment.

i went back to my office. erin came out. "are you a workaholic now, too?" i told her no, that i was just waiting for a friend. "there's only so much cable tv you can take!" she said. when my friend finally sent a text that she was on her way, i told erin to have a good weekend. "you too," she said.
sweatshirts and sunglasses.

erin asked if she could have some sweatshirts that are sitting on the desk next to mine. she saw the sweatshirts last night, and she asked if she could have them. they aren't my sweatshirts, so i said i didn't know. i looked into it, and she has to ask the dean of finance if she could have them. the sweatshirts have been sitting there for at least three months now, so i didn't see why she couldn't just take them. i would've taken them long ago, but they are not my size, and i don't like fleece.

last night, i bought a pair of sunglasses at andaluz. there was a black bumpster sticker near the register, and i wanted to know what it was about. the bumper sticker read: fuck ballard! free columbia city. when i went up to purchase my sunglasses, the dude behind the counter said, "sunglasses, huh?" "yep," i said. "that time of year," he said. "uh huh," i said. and then i asked about the bumper sticker. "you could buy it right now," he said. i asked him what it meant. "i don't know," he said. "i think carla's (the owner) friend made it. anyway, it should say, 'fuck ballard! columbia fucking city!'" i agreed with him.
cultural equivalent of a big mac.

i didn't read any of the books, but i've seen all the films. i never had any interest in reading them. they were so big and clunky, and they were about wizards and magic. i never liked any of that fantasy or science fiction junk, i just couldn't get into it. during senior year, father leigh made us read perelandra. all i really remember is the first few chapters. some guy goes into a house, gets in a coffin, and the coffin becomes a spaceship and takes him into outer space. all i could think was, what the fuck. are you kidding me? and then the guy traveled around in space, and it had something to do with the book of genesis. again, what the fuck.

so, i never had any interest in reading any of the books. "you should read them," my cousin said. "the books are way better than any of the movies." i told him no, that i couldn't do it. i knew i was being an elitist, but so what? i was entitled to my condescension. as an english major, i had so little, not even a future to look forward to. "i know they're not as well-written as some of the stuff you're used to," he said. he really wanted me to read those books. and i didn't. i couldn't.

at the thrift store where i used to work, there was this gay dude named zeke. zeke was an asshole, and zeke loved reading the books. as the story goes, my other coworker and fellow english major went down to the basement, where zeke was enjoying the latest installment in the series. zeke said, "this book is amazing! have you ever read this?" my coworker told him, "no," and then added, "i think they're the cultural equivalent of a big mac." zeke got defensive and lashed out. "oh, i'm sorry!" he said. "we can't all just read kerouac." my coworker reported this to me, and then added, "what the fuck? do i look like someone who really loves on the road?"

the summer after college when i worked at barnes and noble, the sixth book came out. i still remember that crazy staff meeting. we sad minimum-wage earning fools sat at those tables and strategized, like we were going into battle. of course, i had no part in it. i just worked in the music and dvd section, so i wouldn't be selling a single copy. but our department did have the storage room, where the boxes of books were stored until they could be released in all their magical glory at midnight. a news station came into our store. the cameraman focused his camera on the door of the storage room. "this is where the books are held," the reporter announced.

in one of her classes, dr. smith told us about how some groups or churches or whatever wanted to ban the books. "they're saying that children shouldn't be reading about sorcery and black magic," she said. my classmate sam spoke up immediately. "oh, in that case, they'd have to ban the bible, too. i mean, have they even read the old testament? there's a lot worse things happening in there!" dr. smith agreed. we collectively nodded our liberal heads.

it was a tradition i had with my mom. i'd come home for the winter holidays, and we'd go see the latest one. the nostalgia made it fun, as i hadn't seen any kids' films with her since the days of the little mermaid and lilo & stitch. we used to go to the movies all the time, but ever since i got older, we'd only go see the more serious stuff, a lot of that independent, academy award-nominated, focus features junk. it was nice to have this tradition again, seeing all the mainstream, mult-million dollar-earning crap hollywood was force-feeding the new generation. because sometimes, you just want a big mac.

surprisingly, the films were entertaining enough. at the very least, it made me reconsider all that heroes' journey stuff mr. trafton taught me in english class. how the hero never has parents, how he has to choose between good and evil, how there are helpers and obstacles and all that crap. archetypes and whatnot. what's most interesting, at least to me, is how the story is told over and over again. just change the names, the setting, the time period, the costumes, and boom! same story retold, but it still keeps our interest. people will buy the books, and they will watch the movies.

i'm going tomorrow.

last summer, i was at the san diego zoo. i was looking at a big snake in a glass box. an old man was there with his son or grandson, and he said, "it looks like harry potter's snake."
a historic occasion.

on sunday, i rode the light rail. there were signs in my apartment for it. free light rail rides 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. saturday and sunday! posted on a lamppost outside my building, there was a sign for $1.00 pedicab rides. a man on the corner waved to us, asked if we wanted a ride. i shook my head, and off he went. it was only three blocks to the light rail from my apartment, anyway. when we got to the platform, i saw the train was coming. we still had quite a ways to the stop, though.

the train sped past us, and we started running. a little kid was running to catch it, too. security stopped him. "what? why'd he get stopped and not us?" i asked. "because he's a kid," she said, "they're not as..." and then suddenly, we were in the light rail. we were at the very end, and it was a crowded car. all the seats were taken, except maybe one or two. not two together, though, so we stood. to our right, there were tourists with their mariners caps. in front of us, there was a kid laughing and pounding on the window.

a group of people - mostly the tourists - were laughing at the kid. "am i the only one who doesn't find this hilarious?" she asked. i shook my head. i wasn't laughing, either. the train went uphill, and the next stop was beacon hill. then, it went into a tunnel. "it's like a disneyland ride," i said. inside the dark tunnel, there was nothing to look at. then, suddenly, there were these flashing cards that sped by. they were holograms of playing cards, and a few of us were impressed.

"this is a historic occasion," i said. it made me think of the sacramento light rail, and i wondered if anyone remembered opening weekend for that. did they offer rides on opening weekend? was there a baby on board, making all the tourists laugh? there were no holograms, at least none that i knew of. the next stop was sodo, and then the stadiums. "wow," i said, "i can finally go to a mariners game!" "you have the coolest apartment," she said, and "you're well-connected now."

the final stop was in westlake. we got off and bought capitol hill block party tickets at urban outfitters. she wanted to look at shoes at nordstrom. when we tried to ride the light rail back, we couldn't. "there are too many people," a security guard said. he had on a yellow shirt like all the other staffers. on the back of the shirt, it read: historic landmark staff. he told us that we could catch a free shuttle heading back south. the shuttle was the number 97, and we could catch it at 5th and pine in front of the nordstrom.

we crowded into the bus, and we were relieved that it was air-conditioned. a little asian girl looked at my dirty feet. i had been wearing flip-flops all day.
gwen carla arellano.

most likely, i met her through the internet. i could be wrong, though. a classmate of mine had found some phone number. it was called chat line or something like that. we'd call it sometimes. basically, people would call it and just talk to random locals. mostly, we'd call and pretend we were black. "how old is you?" he or i would say. we'd pretend to be pimps. "how you doin', girl? why don't you give me some of that tonight?" if a dude answered, typically, we'd hang up immediately. but sometimes, when we were really bored, he or i would say, "fuck you!" or "sup, fool?" and then hang up.

so yeah, there was that chat line. my classmate started talking to some girl named celeste. at least, that's what she told him her name was. she was our grade, and she went to st. francis, the all girls catholic school. celeste from st. francis, it had a nice ring to it. she said she was half-asian, half-mexican or some shit like that. it seemed everyone on the chat line was half-something, or else full minority. celeste and my classmate exchanged numbers, and that's how they got to talking. i don't think they ever met in real life. we looked her up in the yearbook. there was no one in the freshman class named celeste.

the odds are, we probably met on america online. she said her name was gwen, and i knew from the start that she was bullshitting me. gwen? most likely, we were in a bush chatroom because we had both seen bush at cal expo the night before. yes, that must've been it. or maybe we were in sac chat, and i typed something about how i saw bush the night before, and she must have messaged me. either way, how convenient. we both knew that gwen stefani was dating (married to?) gavin, the lead singer of bush. but she swore her name was gwen. we'd chat for hours online, and i'd feel like a real nerd. but i was fourteen and lonely, what other option was there?

i kept asking her to send me her picture, but she wouldn't. when she finally did, she sent me a picture of herself (supposedly) at five years old. she was standing on a stool in the middle of a dirty kitchen. the kid looked mexican, and there were dirty dishes and pots everywhere. poverty-stricken gwen. she asked me to send her a picture of myself. i told her no. and anyway, it was 1997. i didn't have a webcam or digital camera then.

i asked her what her last name was. "arellano," she typed. her name was gwen arellano, and i thought she was full of shit. nevertheless, i was intrigued. but more realistically, lonely. i told her my real name. i asked what school she went to. she told me sheldon. i told her i went to jesuit. i asked what she was. she said half-italian, half-mexican. she asked what i was. i said filipino. probably she told me she liked filipino guys. she flirted with me, and i flirted back. it was something i needed, something i couldn't do in real life. that made me a nerd. i knew it.

i told her several times that we should meet, but she'd be elusive about it. sometimes, i'd be chatting with her, only to find out that i had been talking to her cousin, carla, the whole time. then later, she would change the story. she told me carla was her middle name, and that i had been talking to her the whole time. it was like chatting with a schizophrenic. or maybe it's better diagnosed as multiple-personality disorder. technology was too new to tell what kind of disorder i had, spending my afternoons, evenings, and weekends typing back and forth with some mystery girl.

she didn't ever want to meet, and i didn't blame her. i'd like to think that i didn't push the idea too hard, but i could be wrong. it would've been weird for her, after all. even dangerous. i could've been a killer. i could've been a monster. we spoke on the phone every now and then. we would talk about school, talk about our friends. i had a glimpse into gwen carla arellano's world, but in actuality, i knew nothing about her. nothing at all. everything she told me could've been a total lie. but i told her everything about myself. i had made myself vulnerable, and yet, i wasn't even sure if i had her real name.

years later, she told me she had a boyfriend, and that her boyfriend knocked her up. she said she was going to have triplets. i told her she was an idiot for having gotten knocked up, but at the same time, i didn't quite believe her. triplets? i mean, come on. she sent me a picture of her pregnant self. i showed it to other people i talked to online, but who i didn't know in real life, either. "that's straight out of a magazine!" someone wrote me. it was true. the picture was all folded over, like it had been pulled out of a magazine and scanned. i was duped. but i wanted so badly to believe.

she kept changing screen names. she had finally settled on goartistubtight by the time i was a senior. "is that a reference to prince?" i asked. she said no, it was a different artist. i couldn't tell if she was being sarcastic or not. it's hard to tell those kinds of things on chat. i convinced myself that artist was some sort of inside joke, and i didn't try to figure it out anymore. i didn't try to figure her out anymore. the last time i chatted with her, she told me she had moved to beverly hills and that she was engaged.

gwen carla arellano, a piece of bad internet fiction, even possibly just a figment of my imagination. but i wanted to know her, i wanted to be someone she knew. i can't explain it. it's stupid, i know. but i needed her more than the real thing.
haven't seen that one.

he couldn't believe this was a job, that people were actually paying him to do this, to sit and stare, to do nothing. in the last three days, maybe he answered an email, a phone call or two, but that was it. nothing else. after work, he'd go home and while the sun was still shining, he'd crawl into bed, throw the covers over himself. what am i doing? this is retarded! no matter what i do, i'm just gonna die anyway. he'd fall asleep and wake up an hour later, the sun still shining. i want to live, damnit!

he'd go outside for a walk, but there was nowhere to walk really, unless he wanted a drink or something to eat. he didn't want either. he packed up his laptop, some dvds and books which he needed to return, and then he'd start off for the library. there was a fool reading a newspaper outside of starbucks. a mother with two kids crossing the street. the 7 coming to a stop. teenagers with baggy pants, black t-shirts, red baseball caps and gold stickers still on the brims of their caps. an asian woman hobbling around. ethiopian men standing around, shooting the shit.

in the library, he hooked up his laptop and set it up to receive the free wifi signal. the internet there was faster than the one he had been paying for. worst. there was hardly anyone in there. who read anymore? he dropped his dvds and books in the return slot, then looked at some more dvds. haven't seen that one. he'd inspect the covers, looking for something that looked good. these days, he could tell a good movie by its cover. anything with tried and true actors, or it was the laurel wreath symbol, signifying that this particular film had won some award.

he'd sit down with his new loot and log on to check his accounts. no messages, nobody online. oh well. he was bored with it all - them all - and anyway, who needed it. all there was to talk about was some article, some new movie, some television show, somebody famous, somebody not-so-famous, etc. his world was devoid of any real emotion, any real discussion, anything real at all. he was surrounded by meaningless blather.

he watched a film he hadn't seen before, a comedy. the contrived storyline, the lack of plot, the artificial emotion and flawless actresses - it was all there, it was as real as it got. once again, he felt good about the world, as well as his place in it.
dual baby showers.

there were dual baby showers at work today. i went out to the gallery, and everyone was awkwardly standing around. i decided to help myself to a plate of sugar bread. i already had the bread on my plate when i noticed no one else had made a plate yet. some coworkers looked at me. "oh, were we not supposed to eat yet?" i said. "well, we were waiting for the guest of honor," someone said. "oh, sorry," i said. "it's okay," they said, and "don't worry about it." i felt weird and out of place standing there with my sugar bread. people weren't talking much.

finally, the guests of honor (my boss and her husband) started piling up on the sweets. "now you can dig in," a coworker told me. i put strawberries and whipped cream on my plate, and then i got a plastic cup and filled it with punch. there was ice in the punch, and the ice had berries in it. i sat down and spilled some strawberries on my pants. "goddamnit," i said. at least it got me out of there. i went into the bathroom, and i cleaned myself off.

i stood around with two of my coworkers and we talked about buffy. the only kind of conversation i can make with people these days revolves around tv shows. i've got nothing to say, but ask me about the wire, and i won't shut up. i've been thinking about this lately. even with some of my friends, i'll have nothing at all to say. i'll just sit there and nod. i've become like the dad in amélie. someone could be telling me about her drug problems and her abortion, and i would just sit there, nodding.

what has led to my inability to make small talk? have i become too immersed in the internets? i literally spent all of today looking at random websites. the top ten nerd video game freakouts. the top ten female reporters getting harassed on camera. random funny pictures. fail blog. pwned on camera. this is photo bomb. i've just been looking and looking. the only acceptable thing to do in the workplace is laugh. i can't read or look at anything too sad or disturbing. at work, it's only appropriate to laugh one's ass off, or else to feel completely numb.

my small talk skills are fading, almost nonexistent. i'm used to scrolling (trolling?), typing, reading, or firing off rounds on the m-4 carbine assault weapon with red dot sight. socialization, i think, was just supposed to be a given, something teachers never thought they'd actually have to teach. it kind of just works that way, you know? throw a dance and expect the boys and girls to get to know each other. throw a dual baby shower at work and expect the employees to mingle.

hello, how are you? hahaha. how's the wife? enemy uav is online! how's the summer going? slow? busy? that's a nice shirt. are those new contacts? you're doing pilates now? grenada! what do you think about jon dating a 22 year-old? my friend is going through a bad break-up, and she wants me to de-friend her ex on facebook. tango down! my class reunion wants me to come up with a list of accomplishments i've had since graduation. our uav is airborne! so, what about this sotomayor woman, and that "wise latina" bit?

we've lost the battle, but not the war.
blinking green lights.

i'm in the library using the free seattle public library internet. it's just like last year when i was unemployed and didn't have an apartment yet. i'm using the library's internet now because i canceled my clearwire account. i canceled clearwire because clearwire sucks. their service was awful, and it was slow as shit. i've had dial-up that worked faster than clearwire. thankfully, my friend jacob tripped over my clearwire cable (yeah, the wire's not so clear, huh), and his little mishap destroyed my modem for good. the green lights just kept blinking.

i called clearwire about the blinking green lights. the service rep was unhelpful. he said it's either two things. it's either my computer, or it's the wire. i said it probably wasn't my computer. he said it's probably the wire then. he ran some tests and nothing worked. he suggested that i get a new wire. i asked if he could send me one. he said he couldn't. he said to try best buy or radio shack. radio shack is closer to me, so i tried radio shack.

i went into radio shack. they were listening to michael jackson music because he had just died two days before. i asked the clerk if he had any ethernet cables for sale. he asked how long did i need them? i said, i don't know, like ten feet? he said, all we have is five or twenty feet. i said i'd better go with the twenty feet. i bought it, and it cost $16 and something cents. i asked how long their return policy was. he said, twenty-four hours. i said, what? he said, just kidding. ha ha. thirty days. i said, cool, and then i left.

i tried the wire. it didn't work. i biked back to radio shack to return the wire. an asian girl did the return for me. i thought maybe she was the manager because she was better dressed and seemed more professional. but that could've just been because she was an asian girl. the guy who had helped me earlier said, didn't work, huh? i said, no, and that it was probably my modem's fault. the asian girl asked me if i wanted my refund in cash or just put it back on the card. i said the card would be fine. she said, nobody ever carries cash anymore! i agreed. she said, everywhere i go, it's all debit or credit. i said, yeah.

i called clearwire to cancel on their asses and send them back the modem my friend broke by accident. of course i didn't say my friend broke their modem. first, i asked if they could just send me a replacement modem. they said they could, but it would cost me $60 for a replacement. i told them no thanks. they said ok. i said i would just like to pay up the remainder of my one-year contract and be done with them. they said i'd have to call back tomorrow.

the following day, i called them back. i lied and told them i was moving back to california, to an undisclosed location. they told me that clearwire was available in some cities in california. i told them that i didn't know where i was going. they said ok. they said i could get a $50 gift card if i could get one of my friends to sign up for clearwire, and did i know anybody? i said i didn't know anybody. they said ok. they said they would charge my debit card $70 for the remaining two months on my one-year contract and that they would send me a shipping label to send them my modem. i was surprised they didn't make me pay for my own shipping.

i tweeted that i was finally done with clearwire and that i had canceled my account. someone tweeted back: you will not regret that decision.
see you in print.

there were notebooks piled up, probably four or five of them. i read through some of them. they were entertaining, but only to me. there were pages upon pages of things remembered, god-awful lyrics, random lists of things (things that are blue, things that smell good, places i'd like to visit), rants, short fiction that went nowhere, all that stuff that a writer - a real writer - is supposed to put down and keep and look back at when he needs inspiration, or else self-deprecation, or else just fodder to feed his already wounded ego. what am i holding onto this for?

i thought back to seventh grade, when mrs. green or ruffo (or whatever her name was before or after her marriages and divorces) made all of us keep a journal. we were supposed to write whatever we wanted. "poetry," she said, or "just everyday experiences." and then she instructed us to not write anything we wouldn't want her to read. so, obviously no detailed descriptions about all the nasty things i'd do to the girls in the class ahead of ours, if any of them had given me the go-ahead. in short, i'd be writing nothing real, nothing i actually wanted to express.

the journal was graded, though. not graded on content or grammar or spelling or anything scholastic-related at all. our grade was based on whether or not we had written everyday (dates included) and that we had filled up a full page of adolescent nonsense. this might've been the moment i realized that i could write about nothing, and that i could just fill up pages with random, incoherent thoughts, and this could earn me a grade (and later, a bachelor of arts degree). i was in.

i wrote about how i had just started playing the guitar. i had looked up "the star-spangled banner" tab on the internet, and i wrote about how i was learning how to play that. my teacher wrote in red (always in red) in the margins, "can you play it like jimi hendrix?" i didn't understand why she was writing questions in the margins. did she expect me to answer in person, or in the next journal entry? what did she want? i didn't answer anything. one day in class, she told everyone how the journals were helping her learn so much more about us. she told everyone i played the guitar, and i thought this would earn me some points with the girls in my class. it didn't.

one week, i fell behind on the journal entries. my cousin had just gotten sonic the hedgehog for the sega genesis, and i spent most of my after-school time mastering that. a day before the journal entries were due, i read through some previous entries, hoping that i could just change a few words or phrases, and i'd be in the clear. instead of "the star-spangled banner," on tuesday, i learned nirvana's "come as you are." instead of chicken adobo, on wednesday, my mom made lumpia. i ate five pieces with white rice. it was good. the rice burned my tongue. i drank a pepsi with ice.

reading through previous entries, though, i realized how dull and friendless my life was. i remember sitting on my uncle tim's chair thinking, jesus, i really have no friends at all. what is wrong with me? over the course of two months, joseph and dong might've made a weekend appearance, but that was about it. my seventh-grade life revolved around guitar tablature, sonic the hedgehog, and imagining what courtney, angela, katie, and whitney did at their slumber parties. since i didn't want my teacher to think i was a total loser, i made up a friend. my friend lived on my street, and i went to his house to play basketball. we played 21. i won. twice.

the journal assignment was over, but our teacher encouraged us to keep writing in them. i think i wrote for a few more weeks, and then i was done with it forever. i held onto it for some time, all the while thinking that i might want to revisit my junior high days when i was in my twenties, thirties, or fifties. the journal sat in my closet with a bunch of other things i hadn't touched in years. then, one day in high school i got very depressed and decided that if i got rid of shit, i wouldn't feel so depressed. i remember standing at the recycling bin, holding the journal over heaps of paper, wondering if i should do it. should i do it? i opened it up, and i read a little of the story about my imaginary friend who lived on my street, the one who sucked at basketball. fucking idiot. fucking lonely idiot. i dropped it in the bin.

in college, my writing professors forced me to keep a journal again. they encouraged me to write everyday, to write about whatever i wanted. the act of writing everyday was supposed to help me improve. it was supposed to help me become more confident. it was supposed to help me get published, to finally realize my dream: to see my name in print. "see you in print," father leigh once wrote me. "you have an odd world view," dr. cumberland said. "there's good potential here," peter bacho said. "just write, just write," larry told me. their comments led me to believe that i was special, that i was a creative force to be reckoned with. and then i graduated and did americorps.

i held onto those college journals for a long time, thinking that there was a reason to keep them. one day, i'd look back and see how i evolved as a writer, how i'd write about random, funny, or depressing things. i'd think about kafka or some other famous writers and how they always wanted to burn everything they had ever written. some of them did. i wanted to be one of those guys, one of those crazies who got his name recognized in the literary field, someone who'd be studied by academics and bored undergrads for generations. i'd write so good that girls like courtney, angela, katie, and whitney would do their dissertations on me. and then, right before i died, i'd burn it all, just to be a dick.

back in sacramento for the fourth of july, i went over some of my college journals for a few minutes. what was the point? i dumped them.
she's trying to sell us a vacuum cleaner.

my mom was watching one of those shows on tlc, something like my first home or one of those things. "come watch," she said, "it's san francisco!" i sat my ass down and watched some of it. the girl looking was unmarried, in her late twenties, or early thirties. her hunt had come down to three different condos, all located in the city. she was dissatisfied with number one because it was not spacious enough. "what!" i said, "the living room of that place is bigger than my whole apartment!" the second place was equally unsatisfactory because it wasn't in "the hip" part of san francisco. the third place was perfect, but too expensive.

"i think this is crap," i told my mom. "i think this is just condo advertising. these people can't possibly be real." "yeah," my mom said, "i guess they must be doctors or lawyers who can afford these places." "but even then," i argued, "at their age, even if they are professionals, they'd still be deep in debt." she agreed. "i've been working for thirty years," she said, "and i still wouldn't be able to afford one of those places." goddamn tlc. i think they're full of shit. they're trying to sell us a vacuum cleaner.

i was flipping through some ready made magazines last night, looking at all the beautiful twenty-something artists and graphic designers with their perfect apartments located in prime, desirable coastal cities. the magazine is hilarious in that it preaches sustainability and recycling and all that shit, and then it shows article after article of some fabulous-ass fools living in their mansions that pass as apartments and condos. everything's so perfect, so crisp and clean and "vintage." and then they advertise couches that sell for $3,785.

who's still buying this fantasy, anyway?

girl was like, "what happened to all your friends?" i said i didn't know. "they all just move after college or what?" i said yeah, i guess, some of them. some of them stuck around. she said that when she was visiting down south, she was irritable and said she was just going to move back there. "seattle's a cold city," i said. she agreed, even though it was a hot one in late june. we were standing at the bus stop on pine, across the street from the egyptian. i didn't want her to wait around for my bus to come, but she did anyway. when it finally arrived, she said, "have a good trip," and i said, "thanks." we didn't hug or shake hands or anything. i think that's how she liked it.

by the time the bus turned into the 7 and made its rounds downtown, my stomach was hurting. earlier, we ate at barrio, an upscale mexican restaurant on 12th. she didn't like baja fresh, but she likes chipotle. when she types it or says it, though, it's "chipolte." we were looking for a restaurant for happy hour, but it was already late into the evening, and no place was having happy hour anymore. so, we ended up at barrio. "this okay?" she asked. "it's fine," i said. the hostess sat us at a table in an isolated corner, and maybe she assumed we were together. we're not together, i wanted to reassure her. that's the problem with society nowadays.

we ordered micheladas or something like that. it was basically mexican beer poured into a glass with hot sauce, a lime, and a salted rim. "it's like a beer margarita," she said. we drank it. it tasted like shit. "this is awful," she said. i agreed. "it's undrinkable," she said. i nodded. she asked me about the wedding. "it was okay," i said. i had nothing else to say about it. she nodded, as though realizing that i had nothing else to say about it. i asked her about the trip she took south. she told me a little bit about it. i nodded and drank some more of the awful beer.

she ordered tacos, and i ordered an enchilada or something. i was shocked and disappointed when the waiter came back with tiny portions. i wished then that i was having a burrito ultimo, nachos, and a coke instead. i didn't get the tiny enchilada and the shit beer hot sauce concoction. i've never understood the "upscale" restaurants. i guess that people with money don't like to eat. what's with the dinky ass portions? what are they trying to prove? this is america, goddamnit.

we went out for ice cream afterward, something i could relate to. the girl at the register was cute, and i had to say something. "she's got an alexis bledel thing going on," i said. i could tell she didn't care, but she nodded anyway. she ordered two scoops of something, and i ordered a scoop of scout mint. i paid for hers because she covered more of the barrio bill. probably she felt guilty that the beers were so bad. i gave alexis bledel a two dollar tip. she smiled. we're not together, i wanted to say.

we sat at the park and watched fools play basketball. it was an intense five-on-five, full-court game. it was the most ethnically diverse game i had ever seen. i turned around just in time to see a tall black dude miss a really easy lay-up. "fuck!" he yelled. there was a couple out on the field playing catch. they were definitely together. "this is the flirtiest game of catch i've ever seen!" she said. "yeah," i said, "maybe it's foreplay." we laughed at that. sometimes, i can be absurd.

after that, i caught my bus. my stomach was hurting. hot sauce beer and ice cream, and i was hurting. who would've guessed? i had to jump off the bus at the international district. i ran into the dim sum place where i had lunch once, and it was all over.

i walked to the next stop and waited for the next bus to come along.
there's fireworks.

"let's get some beers," i said. my cousin was finally 21, so it was nice to finally have someone to drink with. i bought some guinness and some pyramids. this summer, all i've wanted to do is sit outside and drink. "we should set up chairs in the garage and drink," i said, "old school filipino-style." my uncles used to do that. they would sit on lawn chairs on that line where the driveway meets the garage, and they would sit there and drink. all day long with their lawn chairs and coors light.

i tried a sip of beer when i saw six or so. probably it was a heineken because that's what my dad used to drink. it tasted like shit. i didn't touch the stuff until i was about 17. my friends bought hard liquor, or else malt liquor. i didn't get it. it all tasted like shit. my friends and i would be sitting around drinking. "what's the point of this? it tastes awful," i said. "it's not about taste," one of them would say. "it's about how you feel afterward." but afterward, i would feel like shit, too. "the worse it tastes," a friend reassured me, "the more fucked up you'll get."

so we drank hard liquor and forties. i could never finish a forty. it was too disgusting. my friends, though, they could finish them no problem. i don't know why we kept drinking when it tasted so bad. there was nothing else to do, though, so we would keep drinking. when someone finished a forty, he'd throw the bottle out the window, even if it was in broad daylight. i remember driving home from joseph's house, and dong just chucked it out the window. i didn't get it. i supposed he was saying, if i'm gonna be drunk, i might as well litter, too.

so, on the fourth of july, i had some beers. i wanted it to be different than the last fourth of july, and the fourth of july before that, and even the one before that, and so on, and i thought a few beers might help. it didn't really. i got red in the face, and my mom kept asking me if i was okay. my aunt said i was allergic. i had two guinnesses and a pyramid hefeweizen, and i was out. my head was pounding, i was dizzy, and i had to lie down. i'm a lightweight. i fell asleep for a while, and then my cousin woke me. "there's fireworks," he said.

i went out into the garage, and i was okay. i lit up these little fireworks, and then i threw them into the air. it was kind of fun, waiting until the last second to launch them in the air. no one told me to stop, that what i was doing was dangerous, so i kept on doing it, and i finally felt somewhat like an adult. throwing legal fireworks into the air, my only validation of adulthood. some kids across the street stopped to watch our display. they looked at the fireworks with awe.

the finale was this barrel that my cousin's boyfriend lit. it lasted two minutes. "how much was that thing?" i asked. "twenty bucks," he said. "better be worth it." we watched it from start to finish. i wasn't able to tell him if it was worth it or not.
hindi na sarap.

coming home was like nothing. i left early in the morning, and i thought about what i'd want to write about. maybe the overhead pass on i-5, or else how there was an early morning haze. my flight was early. i've decided i like leaving early. it feels like i still have a whole day to myself. when i book a flight in the middle of the day, it feels like the whole day is shot. there's all that waiting i have to do. jaspreet finally showed me that i can check in online. all i have to do is click on that link that says "check in online," enter my confirmation number, and it's done. i've been flying for years, and i never knew about checking in online.

checking in online saves a little bit of time. i still have to go through security, and that takes a while, even if no one else is in the security line. i've got to undo my belt, and empty my pockets, and take out my laptop. it's a real hassle. i wish security personnel could just look at a person and decide. this person isn't going to cause any trouble. move along. but it doesn't work that way. they've got to start with the assumption that everyone is going to cause some trouble. they're all so paranoid.

on the way to sacramento, i got a window seat. two guys sat next to me. i found this strange, since the plane wasn't even full. "our seats aren't numbered!" the guy next to me said aloud. he made his friend move over to the next aisle, and then he took the aisle seat. haven't you ever flown before? maybe they hadn't. i got to thinking about how i always notice how the people headed to sac are always so unglamorous. and then i got to thinking how i really do look like a person who is from sacramento.

the city itself is unglamorous. after leaving the airport, there's just dry dead grass for miles. and then there's arco arena, that awfully average building smack dab in the middle of nowhere, where our home team, the kings, lose and lose and lose. and then i reach downtown, and there's a ziggurat. it's a pyramid thing, and i don't know what happens in that building. and there's the bridge over the american river, a small golden thing that looks like the golden gate bridge's illegitimate daughter. there are buildings, high-rises, and i don't know what goes on in there, either. they might as well be empty. they're just there to say, here we are. we are a city.

mom wanted to go to mimi's. she always likes going there, and it isn't very good. she had a coupon, five dollars off, and i think that's why she wanted to go. she likes to comment while she's eating. "sarap," she'll say, meaning "tasty," or "hindi na sarap," meaning, "it's not tasty." she comments while she eats, and my dad and i, we just eat, we don't talk much. my dad told me he was going to eat my toast. i said it was okay. his blueberry muffin sat there, untouched. my mom looked as his muffin. "you should've ordered the toast," she said, in tagalog.

when we got home, i noticed the new oven, the new t.v. my dad and i watched michael jackson videos on demand. we sat there in the air-conditioned living room watching t.v. for the rest of the morning and part of the afternoon. and that's about when it began to feel like i was in sac all over again.
dear ricky.

dear ricky,

remember when we called you ricky drugs? heh heh, it was like your last name, but drugs. you were a big jock, and you could've beat the shit out of anyone in our class.

i remember when you'd play tetherball. you'd just stand there, dominating one player after another. i think i played you once, and i didn't even get to touch the ball. you just swung it around and around, higher and higher, until that stupid chain wrapped itself completely at the top.

someone took a dump in the shower stall at our retreat, and you stepped in it. we all had a good laugh about that.

some of the guys would say your mom was a milf.

you were a farm boy, but i don't think you lived on a farm. you lived far away, and no one i knew had ever been to your house. maybe it was a ranch. you could've lived on a ranch. i have no idea. nine years we went to school together, and i don't even know if you lived on a ranch or a farm. which was it, rancher or farm boy? you had warts on your hand once, and you showed them to me. maybe that's why i thought you lived on a ranch or a farm.

michael l. was reading something in the first grade, and some liquid dropped from his nose onto the book. he looked embarrassed by his leakage. you just looked at him and said, "snot." it was a funny word, and it might've been the first time i heard it. snot. you got us cracking up.

in kindergarten, you and i threw sticks and dirt at some girls. kristen was one of them. i don't know why i joined you on that one. maybe it's our natural instinct to humiliate women. whatever the case, we got in trouble for it. who's idea was that anyway?

you had a motorcycle, and when i found out about this, i thought you were a badass.

for a while, you went out with my friend's sister, christine. you were the first white guy i know who had asian fever.

at graduation, you got the most prestigious award, the ignatian award. christine gave you the award. i didn't know about anything you did, so i wondered why you were getting the award. i thought that i deserved the award more, but then i realized i hadn't accomplished anything, either. i wasn't even valedictorian.

when maria's family fell apart, and her father (or step-father) killed her mom, your family took them in. she and her siblings basically became orphans, and your family adopted them. i think your dad was a deacon.

you went to christian brothers, and i was jealous that you were going to be in a high school filled with girls. i hope you got some.

i don't know where you went after that, or what you're doing now. we just get older and harder to find, i suppose.
iran so far away.

my cousin's step-dad is iranian. he talked with a big booming voice, and he had a firm handshake. it was christmas 2007, and my cousin was hosting christmas eve at his house, the rosemont house. nobody else showed. my cousin's mom and stepdad, the iranian, kept asking, "where is everyone? when are they coming?" i didn't have any answers for them. my cousin never sent out an official invite. he just announced one evening a few months before that he would host christmas eve at his house, and then he never followed up with anything. who knows why nobody showed up. probably they were arguing about something.

i called up my cousin, who was at my aunt's house, just a few blocks away. "who's over there?" she asked. "no one," i said. "we'll be there in an hour," she said. i called my mom, whose house is also just a few blocks away. "we'll be there later," she said. by then, it was already 8 p.m. 9 p.m. rolled around, and still, there was no one. we sat around watching t.v. finally, i drove to my aunt's house to see what the deal was. i found my aunt and uncle and some of my cousin's sitting around the living room, exchanging presents. i handed out some presents my mom had given me to distribute.

at that time, i wasn't talking to one of my cousins. i was disappointed with him, with myself. we had spent the entire autumn talking about things we were going to do, and then never doing them. we had one project where we were going to scan every family photo ever taken. we had this other plan where we were gonna pull out every red rock in my parents' backyard. we were going to start a new social networking website, one that could rival facebook. we were going to record an awesomely depressing record. we were gonna do it all, and ordinary was unacceptable. when none of that happened, i just isolated myself.

i finally saw my cousin there at my aunt's house, and i handed him a card and said, "merry christmas." later, i would apologize to him online. i can't deal with real emotions or real apologies in the real world. why else would i write so much? anyway, they were all exchanging presents that night, and i felt like an intruder. i felt like i'd better do something, or i wouldn't have anyone to call family anymore. i told them that we should go to my cousin's house, and that we should all play singstar, and that's what we did.

i was thinking about the iranian because of iran being in the news everyday and all. i don't know what's going on, really. i follow the #iranelection tweets sometimes, but that's about as far as it goes. i don't even pretend like i try to understand. i don't know what's going on here, so why would i be expected to know what's going on abroad? there is no office talk about iran. it is a giant protest that might as well be happening on another planet. i saw the video of neda getting shot. i was once again revolted by humanity, sickened by what we are capable of. as the blood rushed forth from her nose and mouth, i felt sick. what's wrong with me for watching this? what's wrong with the killer? why did the person videotape this? what's wrong with youtube and the iranian government and our government?

i don't know what i learned from christmas 2007, or from the only iranian i've ever met. but sitting there and watching each hour pass, i felt a sense of dread, an urgency to make something happen.

a.a. (alcoholics anonymous)
a.b. (abs)
a.c. (slater)
a.d. (anno domino)
a.e. (tv)
a.f. (abercrombie & fitch)
a.g. (attorney general)
a.h. (refreshing)
a.i. (artificial intelligence)
a.j. (apple juice)
a.k. (47)
a.l. (bundy)
a.m. (morning)
a.n. (article)
a.o. (tony danza)
a.p. (advanced placement)
a.q. (aqua)
a.r. (you going to lunch?)
a.s. (we speak)
a.t. (@)
a.u. (revoir)
a.v. (audio/visual)
a.w. (cute)
a.x. (body spray)
a.y. (fonzie)
a.z. (alphabet)
pride weekend.

last weekend was pride weekend here in seattle. all the gays were out, and all their rainbow flags were flapping in the breeze. it got me thinking about this discussion we once had in mr. caslin's theology class. mr. caslin was new, so as a rule, everyone hated him. also, he had replaced a young and busty redheaded teacher, so we all had it in for him. even if guys didn't find the redhead attractive, she still had big boobs, and at an all-boys school, that goes a long way.

anyway, the discussion was about gay marriage. it was mostly an opportunity for all the boys in class to vent their homophobic opinions, while mr. caslin tried to get us to see that we should all be open-minded, liberal, and jesus-loving. looking back, i think we hated him because he was so optimistic about everything. he like ned flanders if ned flanders ever took up teaching. it was senior year, so by then, we were sick of it. sick of school, sick of hearing about "the good news of the lord," sick of looking at each other. last thing on our weary minds was gay marriage.

not really knowing what i was talking about, i went ahead and joined the discussion. "i don't see what the big deal is about gay people coming out," i said. "i don't know why they all have to come out." what i really meant to say is: public affection - gay or straight - sickens me. humanity should just cease to exist. mr. caslin came back in full force. "why should only straight people get to show affection? why can't gays get to hold hands or attend prom without everybody shaking their heads?" i didn't answer him. i nodded like i understood what he was talking about.

i got sidetracked. anyway, this story is going nowhere.