the straight man.

the 9 was crammed this morning and yesterday, too. i don't get why we can't just get the extended buses. as though the 9 is not a popular route. i could hardly get on. "that's it," the driver said yesterday, "can't let anybody else on!" i almost stepped off. "can i get on?" i asked. "you can get on," she said. i barely made standing room behind the yellow line. i stood next to a mexican in a baseball cap and a redhead in a green trench coat. a few stops later, the redhead hugged this old woman, who was de-boarding. "hi!" the redhead said. "your daughter is still sleeping in my bed!" the old woman smiled.

i listened to jay-z's blueprint 3. weeks ago, while i was driving down alaska street, a black kid sitting in the backseat of an old car said, "you got that blueprint 3 yet?" it had just been released that day. i told him no. "you gotta get that," he said. i nodded. then i downloaded it. i listened to "empire state of mind" on the way to work. i thought about how my friend said new york had a great public transportation system, or about this article i read about japan's, and i was angry that i was stuck on a crappy and full seattle bus.

i went to this training we had at the school. it was about the detention center. the presenter talked about how people get picked up at port entries, like sea-tac. for example, a mongolian woman came to the u.s. to escape domestic violence. upon entry, she told security the truth, that she was leaving her country to escape domestic violence. with those words, she nullified her guest visa. anybody else can come to this country if they want to shop, visit, and then go home. once the person says she wants to stay in the u.s. indefinitely, she's detained. some country, huh?

i walked through the park on 11th to get to american apparel. i've been wanting a new sweatshirt for some time now, and it was payday, so it was time to get a new sweatshirt. i stayed away from black and navy, since i always buy those colors. i wanted a gray one, but i was wearing gray pants, so i couldn't wear it out, the way i had planned. i went with a green one. another safe and logical pick. i've been told lately that i am the straight man.

that's my thing now, i guess.
arguments ad hominem.

recently, i was thinking about a biology debate i had during my junior year. i was such an idiot then. i was on a group with two other girls, and we were arguing with a group of three other girls. in every situation i find myself in, i'm always the only dude. anyway, we were supposed to debate whether or not scientists should experiment on animals. we took the position that scientists should not experiment on animals. because i had been brainwashed the quarter before, i had adopted peter singer's theory of "speciesism," which is basically like racism, but towards animals.

i met with the two younger girls on my team, and they presented some really weak points. i told them about speciesism, and they were both excited about it. the whole thing would've been fine, if only i hadn't cared about the issue to begin with. i was twenty-one, and i thought i knew everything. i thought i had this fool-proof plan, and that people were going to listen. i slept soundly that night, knowing that i was going to charge into that biology classroom and throw down for the showdown.

i gave my speech, and i gave it with gusto. the girls on my team were worthless, and they didn't really know fuck about shit, so i had to carry us. the other team presented their boring points, and then came the debate. i didn't give a fuck then, so i started with something stupid, something along the lines of, "why did you argue those points?" and one of the girls immediately responded, "because that was part of the assignment." and then they all laughed. my face was red and my eyes were bulging, so it was kind of a nervous laugh. it annoyed the shit out of me. i was ready to slap her repeatedly. i wanted to spit on her stupid, fat face. how dare she argue with speciesism?

it was pretty much a debacle after that. thanks to my mute teammates, we lost the debate. the class unanimously voted that the other side won. i was crushed, but convinced myself that my classmates were just a bunch of ignorant privileged white kids anyway. what the hell did they know or care about animal rights? they were what was wrong with america. they were what was destroying this great nation of ours. one guy who i thought was cool even wrote in the comments, "be careful of arguments ad hominem" or something like that. i didn't know what the hell he was talking about.

after that, i had multiple arguments with friends about speciesism. i couldn't understand it. animals were sentient; they felt pain; they had central nervous systems just like we did. raising cattle destroyed the environment. poor folks were killing themselves in slaughterhouses and on fields. humans and dogs probably tasted the same as chicken, so why did the hypocritical populace limit themselves to cows and chickens? why was no one getting it?

eventually, i realized the world stopped caring. so i stopped caring, too.

"you fool," my friend told me, "you believed in something."
it feel like sac-town.

i'd like to think about what i would be doing, if i didn't have a job. most likely, i'd be living at my parents' house. it would probably be a hot day, and my dad would be running the air conditioner. he'd have the sprinklers going because he wouldn't want the grass to turn yellow, even though most of it already is. i wouldn't wake up until about ten or eleven, and there would be food on the table. my parents would probably be out for a walk, circling the track at the nearby high school. i wouldn't join them because i'm lazy.

i'd go out to the kitchen, and i'd eat whatever was on the table. maybe some cold chocolate chip pancakes, or else some torta with vienna sausages, or corned beef. i'd warm that shit up in the microwave. thirty seconds, probably. if it was cold, too bad. i'd just eat it anyway. maybe i'd chase it with a banana or orange, and then i'd put the skins in my compost pile. i'd put on slippers and walk across the wet grass, and then i'd throw that junk onto the pile. a bunch of flies or gnats or whatever would buzz around, startled by the new scraps.

i'd go back and sit in the white wooden rocking chair that overlooks our modest yard. i'd think about how it would be nice to work, to feel useful and appreciated. i'd get on the internet, look for jobs, apply for everything. i'd talk to my friends online, ones i hardly ever get to see. i'd find something around the house that needed fixing or attention. maybe something like organizing cabinets, or getting an extra wire for my stereo. it'd give me a reason to leave the house, go take a walk.

i'd bring my music with me. i'd listen to something that would reflect my general feelings of inadequacy, of isolation, something like sigur ros or radiohead or explosions in the sky. i'd think about what i'd want to write about. maybe the woman sitting with a stroller in the park, maybe an old man working on his car in the garage. maybe a group of kids standing around with their skateboards and boombox, not doing much of anything. i'd walk and walk down kiefer, feeling like i was getting my recommended exercise, feeling like this was a good thing for me to do, physically and mentally.

let's say i'd buy the wire at radio shack, and there wouldn't be much more to it. i have no story to tell because i've spent most of my days watching television, reading books, napping, looking at the ceiling, waiting for something to happen. i'd thank the cashier, and then i'd secretly envy him. most likely, he was able to support himself, live on his own, drive a car, go out with friends, go out on dates, live a normal life. he could tell people he worked at radio shack, and he'd be okay with it because he believed in himself, and he knew it wasn't forever.

i'd walk back in the heat, and i'd sweat, and i'd wish it wasn't the year it was. i'd wish it was earlier, much earlier, when the town was smaller, and there was a sense of community, and cokes came in glass bottles, and people with college degrees could get jobs. i'd wish everything wasn't so spread out, that my friends and family and everyone i knew lived within driving distance. i'd walk past person after person, knowing better, knowing that i should greet him or her, but i don't. this isn't my life, my world, my time. so i just keep walking, and i don't say a word.

i get home and my parents are there. they're retired, so they're home all the time, just like me. we're just a simple family of retirees. my dad is watching wowowee, and my mom is reading some book she got from the library. she'll ask if i ate. i'll say yes, and she'll ask what did i eat? i'd tell her what i ate, and then i'd go to my room. i'd try to read something, but i'll end up reading a paragraph, and i can't think straight, so i keep rereading the same paragraph, until i finally conclude that it's a lost cause. i'd turn on my stereo instead, and maybe fall asleep.

i'd wake up to the sound of the needle scratching. i'd be a little confused. what am i doing here? is it summer? am i on vacation? what time is it? why am i in my childhood bedroom? it would all make sense again. i'd get back on the internet. i'd watch some tv. i'd cut branches and bushes in the yard. i'd have dinner. i'd watch some more tv. i'd meet up with my cousins once they got off work. i'd watch tv at my cousin's house. i'd stay out late, and return home when i got tired.

i'd fall asleep.
the loving god who makes us suffer.

you suffer, and yet there is no reason for it. that's what my friend typed to me over instant message last week, summing up life. it just doesn't make any sense. i'm presented with mouth-watering bacon cheeseburgers, succulent steaks, ice cream galore, and i'm told to stay away from it. it clogs arteries. that shit'll kill you. well, why's it here to begin with? and then there's women everywhere, good-looking ones, too, with their sunglasses and ponytails, perfect skin and bright smiles. and i don't know how to talk to any of them. i have absolutely nothing to say. that's just how life be, i suppose.

we talked today about the stigma of being unemployed. life really ain't fair. when you're not working, you feel useless, wish you were earning a buck, making a decent living and all that. and when you are working, you'll wish you were doing anything but. shit just doesn't add up. like my cousin right now, he gets to sleep in past noon, and he can do whatever the fuck he wants with all his days. me, i gotta be up in about seven hours, and then i gotta sit at my desk for another eight. i'll eat lunch at my desk, and i'll feel grateful when four o'clock rolls around. at the end of the day, i'll wonder, what the fuck is it that i've done today? and neither that thought nor the day itself is unique.

and there was that guy who played the dad on six feet under and on the bonus disc, he was talking about how death was miraculous. he said something like, he could just show up for work one day, a light might fall on him, and it would be all over, and isn't that just miraculous? i was thinking, no, that isn't miraculous. that fucking sucks. that's fucking tragedy, man, where's your head at? i don't want to die, but it's gonna happen, it's gonna happen to everybody, and how and when is all up to things beyond my control. and i like to be in control. the suspense is killing me.

there was a post on reddit the other day, and it was just a serious of questions. deep questions and not-so-deep questions like, why haven't you started that side-project yet? why haven't you asked her out? why are you so complacent? why aren't you getting more exercise? and you get the point. it was just question after question, aimed at all of us who aren't doing anything to make the world a better place, who aren't working toward our goals, or bettering ourselves or any of that shit. people like me, who are just living selfish lives of quiet desperation, or something like that.

so, supposedly there's this all-knowing being whom many refer to as god, and he's all-loving, but he makes it so that each and everyone of us suffer. many believe in this paradox, and i can see why. we all want to believe in something, anything, somebody, anybody. how good it must feel to be passionate about something. how good it must be to not have to be afraid. fear of h1n1, the economy, nuclear proliferation, environmental degradation, death, aging, losing, debt, natural and man-made disasters, all of that. victor frankl said we have to make our own meaning, but i'm not exactly sure what he meant by that.

maybe life isn't so much about doing what you want to do, but rather avoiding things you definitely don't want to do. networking and career-building and playing it safe. that last part is what my friend said. he looked at his resume and said, man, what a fucking joke. my whole life is a lie. all these years, and i've just been playing it safe. he can't get too down about it, though, and i've been trying to do the same. i try not take anything too seriously, too personally anymore. we could all benefit just by shaking it off and having a laugh.

we have to make our own meaning.
seahawk-colored sprinkles.

friday night and we were looking for parking. there really was no place to park. we drove a few blocks down, almost near the piers, and these two cops were dishing out tickets. "that's bullshit," someone said, "they can't give out tickets this late." we agreed that the cops were being dicks, and that they should've just let those cars be. we drove east, away from the cops, away from the piers, eventually finding something near the railroad tracks.

we went to krispy kreme because jacob needed to use the keybank atm to get cash to buy a scalped ticket. the rest of us were on the guest list. "nobody is gonna be scalping right now," he said. "i'm sure you'll find someone," i said. we went to krispy kreme, and i ordered a sprinkled doughnut with seattle seahawk-colored sprinkles. i got john a glazed one. i ate mine. "that wasn't such a good idea," i said, finished. "i don't think i've ever not regretted eating a doughnut," victoria said. "what are you talking about?" john said. "doughnuts are always a great idea."

we started walking to the showbox sodo. "anyone need tickets?" a scalper said. "yeah," jacob said, "how much?" "how about $20?" he said. jacob gave him the money. "that was easy," he said. security padded us down, and then we went to the will call booth to show i.d. "i'm on the list," i said. the clerk looked at her clipboard. "what list?" "i don't know," i said, "victoria said i was on the list." "but what list are you on?" the clerk repeated, annoyed. i called victoria over to help. she told me the list name. "junk culture," i told the clerk. "nevermind, i found it," she told me.

once we got in, i felt really old. it was a sold-out, all-ages show, and the youth was there to prove it. i decided then and there that i was gonna get buzzed and dance my ass off. a classmate from college was working the coat check. i said, "hi" but not much else. i liked the girl, but what else, really, did i have to say? jacob ordered the first round, pabst blue ribbons for all. i drank mine and commented about how it was like drinking water. "you're really supposed to drink these after you're already drunk," victoria advised me.

i ordered the second round, and then we just kept on going. some little blonde at the bar thanked me for letting her order first. in actuality, she just got the bartender's attention before i did. i said, "no problem" anyway. she started talking in a pirate voice, and then, because i had remembered the trending topic on twitter, i told her that saturday would be pirate's day. somehow, she knew this, too, and then she tried to give me a high-five or a fist-bump, and i couldn't tell what she wanted, so i ended up grabbing her fist and awkwardly shaking it.

i asked these two girls where there drinks were, and i knew it was a lame line, but i felt i had to do something. this blonde one started talking to jacob, and i thought it might go somewhere, but it didn't. her taller friend just kept texting, and again, i had nothing to say to anybody. when girl talk finally took the stage, we moved up to the front and began the drunken dancing. i finally realized what he was about. he played other people's songs and got famous off other people's hard work.

and it was a big party, and everyone was into it.
we in charge.

i left work early yesterday to go see the oral surgeon. it was just a consultation, but i was already nervous about it. the assistant, jamie, took me back and had me stand in front of this giant x-ray machine. she pointed to this yellow plastic piece and said said, "bite down on the tip." i bit too far, and she told me to move back a little bit. instinctively, i apologized, and she said, "that's okay." i bit the right place, and she walked around and behind this purple wall. the machine came to life and circled my entire head. i wondered about the radioactive waves and what kind of effect they were having on me.

she brought me into this room where there was basically nothing but some cabinets, a green chair, and a sink. i sat down in the chair and took in the view of downtown seattle. i was up on the fourteenth floor, and i could look down at fifth avenue. there were people in the building across, too, a whole building full of office workers. jamie asked me why i needed my widsom teeth taken out. i said i didn't know, and that it was just what my dentist recommended. "are they giving you problems?" she asked. i told her no. she said she would call my dentist.

when she came back in, the oral surgeon, dr. galia, came in with her. dr. galia looked at my x-rays and said that my wisdom teeth needed to go. she said that the top two served no function, and that's why those had to go. the bottom two were causing bone loss, and that's why those had to go. i was slightly annoyed that the top two had to go just because they served "no function." she said that she would give me general anesthesia, and did i have any questions? i said no, even though i wanted to ask was any of this really necessary?

my friend has a point, after all. what did people do before dentists, before anesthesiology, before technology, and all that? the world is full of those who believe in god's will, faith and fate, and what happens happens for a reason, but everyone is always trying to prolong life, cheat death, get preemptive treatments, race for the cure, etc. i guess it's human nature to convince ourselves that we are in charge.
it doesn't do anything.

we all went to the puyallup fair on sunday. jacob drove, i rode shotgun, and byron and victoria were in the backseat. we asked victoria to look up the address on her iphone, so that i could put it into jacob's gps system. victoria informed us that the iphone has its own gps. "but he likes to put it into his own gps," i told her. she rolled her eyes, and looked up the address. i put the address into the system, and then pressed the green go! button. the woman's robotic voice told us to keep driving for .8 miles. "that's better," jacob said.

our driver didn't want to listen to music, and he said to put on something quiet. i chose yo la tengo's popular songs, not even knowing that i had it. the album was certainly quiet, and it didn't really require our attention. victoria fell asleep, while jacob and byron talked about skiing and snowboarding. i looked at mount rainier and thought that it looked so majestic that it almost seemed out of place, kind of like the big spaceship in district 9. i looked out the window at all the long stretches of grass and hills, and thought again about what i was gonna do, my mortality, etc.

about 45 minutes later, we made it to the fairgrounds. some people were renting out their backyards for parking spaces. one woman had a sign that read, "parking $12." "yo," jacob said, pointing down the road, "he's $10, why are you $12." "he's going to take you around," the woman said, not making much sense. like a true capitalist, he drove to the $10 lot, which was located only next door. "that woman is an idiot," he said, "how does she expect to get any business?"

admission was $11, and we entered at the blue gate. i called john to tell him that we had arrived, and that he should meet us by the blue gate. we started to wander off because i was in great need of a polish sausage with everything on it. i also wanted nachos and a deep fried oreo and a coke. john called again, and we had to walk back to the blue gate to meet him and emily. the six of us started walking around, looking for anything unhealthy yet digestible.

we walked past spas and random booths selling random things. things like back massagers, flutes, plastic swords, etc. we found a hot dog stand, and i ordered a $7.50 polish sausage. the woman sounded polish or german, so i felt like i was getting something real. john and jacob followed suit, and then byron, but byron didn't like his, took three bites, and threw the rest away. we ate our sausages on some cement bench. there was a group of kids - four girls and a guy - and they were being obnoxiously enthusiastic. the boy didn't really seem into it, but he tagged along, probably hoping that one of the girls would eventually have sex with him.

we walked around some more, and found the deep fried anything booth. jacob ordered a deep fried twinkie. the white kids working the booth were wearing rasta hats with dreadlocks and tie-dyed t-shirts. i commented that their outfits made me not want to try anything there, even though the menu was interesting. it included deep fried frog legs, redneck sushi, deep fried cookie dough, etc. john and jacob split the twinkie. jacob said that it was amazing, but that it burned the roof of his mouth.

we walked through the barns and saw cows, pigs, horses, and dogs. i thought that the pigs might infect everyone with h1n1. i liked the girls that were working in the stables. one of them was just sweeping hay, and i found that incredibly attractive. "something about a girl working on a farm," i said. there was one girl wearing a flannel shirt, short shorts, and her black bra was clearly visible underneath her loosely buttoned shirt. i couldn't believe that she was just sitting there, smiling, in the corner with a bunch of filthy baby pigs.

the six of us entered sillyville, where all the rides and games were. we bought some tickets, even though we weren't sure what we wanted to do. i suggested the fun house, and it sucked a lot. the fun house was incredibly small, and there wasn't much to it. we all agreed how bad it sucked. i played a game where i threw a ball at three bottles stacked like a pyramid, and i didn't win. i knew i wouldn't win. before i played, i said, "i might as well just burn this three dollars right now." after that, everyone wanted to ride the wild cat rollercoaster, except for victoria, so i walked around with her. i suggested the ferris wheel instead, so we went there.

some kids in line were asking if the ferris wheel was scary. "it's not scary," some man said. "it just goes up and around. it doesn't do anything." i thought it was a pretty accurate description of a ferris wheel. i told victoria this, since she had never been on a ferris wheel. i acted like i knew, even though i had only been on a ferris wheel one other time. "it doesn't do anything," i repeated. we got into the ferris wheel, and up we went. i told her that she should tweet at the top. she took a picture, and she tweeted it. when we got to the top, the wind was knocking us around a little bit. "oh," i said, "it's not supposed to shake like this." "don't say that!" she said.

we made it out alive, and then we walked around some more. john said i had to go on the rollercoaster. i agreed, but first we used the bathroom. he was whistling something in the bathroom. when i got out of the bathroom, jacob said, "time to meet your doom." i was a little nervous, since the cars had been making some awful squeaking sounds, but i wanted to try it anyway. i had always had a fear of rides, and i never tried to do anything different. i decided i was a new me, though. an example of the new me is that i can finally accept that danny devito has joined the cast of it's always sunny in philadelphia.

john and i got in the car, and up we went. the concept of weightlessness came back to me, and i held onto the bar as we dropped down. the first drop caused my scrotum to hurt, and i don't know what that's about. no other guys i've talked to have ever talked about that being a problem. we dropped two or three more times, and then we spun around really quickly. i liked spinning around fast, and i yelled "woo" a couple of times.

i said that i wanted to get wet, meaning that i wanted to ride the splash down ride. no one had any more tickets, though, so i went alone. i got in the ride behind two brunettes. the ride attendant told one of the girls to take her sunglasses off her head. she said, "what?" then felt the top of her head. she wasn't wearing sunglasses. "fuck you!" she said, and the guy was laughing. we dropped four times, my scrotum didn't hurt, and then the ride was over.

the six of us watched a weird al 3d movie, and it was okay, except that it featured weird al. when it was over, we decided to call it a day. we drove to sonic, but only john and emily got sonic. we went to tutta bella instead. "they want to go to tutta bella," i told john. "see," jacob said, "he always does this shit. he always says, 'they' wanna do something. fucking coward can never take responsibility." i had been accused of this before. i thought about why i always did that, and i couldn't find any explanation.

in the car, we listened to a hardcore history podcast. victoria showed me pictures from atlanta on her iphone. she looked happy in them, and there were a bunch of pictures with her and three of her friends. "so, you guys would just dress up, and hang out?" "pretty much," she said. "you're like the sex and the city girls," i said. "yeah," she said. i could see then why she had told me she thought about moving back to atlanta.

it's nice, sometimes, not having to feel so alone.
how were our reviews on google?

i went to a third dentist in less than a year. the first one wasn't bad. she was located on broadway, near my work, and they told me they had to do a deep cleaning. i didn't want to do it, so i just ignored what they had to say, and i waited until my next six-month check-up to find somebody new. i went to that dentist, and they wanted to do even more work. they wanted to do a laser-assisted root debridement therapy that would span five sessions. insurance wouldn't cover everything, and they estimated that i would spend at least $1,000 out of pocket. i went to see what a third dentist had to say.

i chose the third dentist because he was located in near where i live. the office looked clean and new, and it felt like a real place. the receptionist asked how i heard about them. i said i googled them. she said why i didn't go back to my old dentist. i said i googled them and found negative reviews. she said, "how are our reviews?" i said they were good, even though i had only read one or two. i flipped through the magazine rack and found an xbox magazine. i didn't care what was in the xbox magazine, but i looked at it anyway.

dolores cleaned my teeth. she diagnosed me with periodontal disease, but said that i had it under control. "did your last dentist scare you into flossing?" she asked. i said yes. she told me to keep up the good flossing, and my periodontal disease would be under control. she said she had periodontal disease, too. she said, "what are you? chinese?" i said filipino. she said filipinos were more susceptible to it. she wasn't filipino.

with my permission, she got underneath my gums. she kept telling me to raise my hand or make a sound if it hurt too much. it stung quite a bit, but i didn't bother raising my hand. in actuality, it was nice to feel something, even if it was just the sharp tip of a needle raising my gums. it used to bother me as a kid, but i started thinking about how my brains works, and why some parts of my mouth feel more pain than other parts. i don't know how to explain it, but i actually wanted her to balance out the stings.

i had two cavities on my upper wisdom teeth, and impacted wisdom teeth on my lower side. she said those had to go. she gave me the number for the oral surgeon, and she told me to give them a call soon. i said i would, even though that's what i told my old dentist, the one back in sacramento, several years ago. even though the idea of someone cutting open parts of my mouth to remove bone seems super unpleasant, having to pay for it without insurance is even worse. therefore, i'll be giving them a call soon.

during our session, dolores randomly asked me if i thought cell phones caused brain cancer. i said that it was too early to tell. "don't you hate being the guinea pig?" she asked. i said that what freaked me out more was all the waves in the air, what with everything being wifi and all. who knew what in the hell that was doing to us? i liked her randomness, though. i'll be sticking with this place for now.
nice shirt.

i started caring about what i wore around junior high. before then, i used to just wear whatever i received as presents on my birthday and christmas, or whatever my mom would buy. but by the time junior high hit, i wanted to express my individuality, i wanted girls to like me, so i started paying attention to the clothes i bought. i didn't have any money, though, so my mom would still buy my clothes for me.

i went to this place called international imports in the sunrise area. i wanted some band t-shirts, and i found a rage against the machine one and a smashing pumpkins one that i liked. i wanted to get a tool t-shirt, too, one that had a big wrench on the back of it that looked like a cock and balls. luckily, my mom talked me out of it. "it kind of looks like a tee-teh," she said. i was gonna tell her that was the point, but then it made me second-guess sporting a giant penis on my backside.

i wore the shirts to school, expressing my alternative, edgy style. i went to macy's and bought a pair of jeans. i don't remember what kind of jeans they were. i just remember that some of the guys had been laughing at me for wearing such tight jeans, and that it was cooler to wear baggy ones. i bought a pair of baggy jeans, and they had some sort of colorful stripes going down the sides. either my friend's brother or my cousin pointed out that it was kind of gay. i couldn't fucking win.

in summer school before my freshman year, i wore my rage against the machine shirt. this ridiculously gorgeous girl named christina h. recognized me for the first time, and she said, "nice shirt." the teacher overheard, looked at my shirt, and smiled. like i had done something right for once. i think i somehow managed to say, "thanks," but that was about it. she wore pear lotion that filled the whole stuffy classroom with her scent. during break once, i spotted her down in the quad, talking to two boys on either side of her. i thought maybe they would double-penetrate her after school.

when i got to college, i started buying clothes from thrift stores, since that seemed to be all the rage within my close group of friends. i bought cardigans and striped polo shirts. i wore skater shoes and cargo pants that were too big for me. a friend of mine said that i used to dress kind of "eh" but now that i had been getting my clothes from thrift stores, i was starting to look a lot cooler. i wanted to look cool. i wanted to be accepted.

i didn't want to look like a tee-teh, but i definitely feel like a tool these days.
sara and all her interviews.

it's oci (on campus interview) week at the school, and it's going to go on for another two. basically, students put on suits and interview with other suits. some of them are real go-getters. there's this one girl i've seen this week, and she's had at least eight interviews already. she must want a job really badly. i hope that she gets what she wants.

what separates them from me? i lack ambition. i lack discipline. radiohead is to blame, really. all i can think of is the line, "the yuppies networking," and i can never imagine myself doing what they do. putting on a suit. pretending i'm something more than an average person who is going to suffer through life and then, one day, die.

there was kindergarten. i thought i could be anything. a doctor, a lawyer, a businessman, an astronaut, a fuckin' c.e.o. they'd ask, what do you wanna be when you grow up? i don't even remember my answer then. i probably was honest, said i didn't know. i still don't know. and i'm grown up now. physically, at least.

the students make small talk with one another. they wish each other luck, even if they are competing for the same job. they flash their white teeth and spread their perfume wherever they go. they are grownups. they might be something more than average.
i hope this night ever ends.

he messaged me over xbox live, asking if i wanted to play basketball. i typed back: no ball. he asked, did i want to get one? i said sure, and we went to target in white center. i bounced around a $40 ball. it said "never flat" on it. i was interested in a ball that never went flat. that would mean i wouldn't have to buy a pump. "wanna go half?" he asked. "i don't know," i said, "i don't really wanna lose a $40 ball." "yeah, you're right," he said. i bounced around a cheapo ball, something for $6.99. "how about this?" i asked. "i don't want a cheap ball," he said.

we settled on a $13.99 ball. before he bought his, he pumped it up. i grabbed a ball, too, and i pumped it up, but i did it a little haphazardly, and the needle broke off. the ball started hissing. "let's get out of here!" i said. by then, he was on the phone with his cambodian friend, the one he had been wanting to set me up with for months. i didn't really want to get "set up" with his cambodian friend, but i thought it would be nice to meet someone new for a change.

we went to a bar called talarico's in west seattle. a few months ago, someone had been shot there. but according to my friend, someone has been shot in just about every restaurant, bar, and hotel in seattle. the girl was late, and so we sat there, drinking our beers, waiting for the girl to show up. he had a manny's, and i had a pyramid. there were some guys wearing football jerseys, and there was a football game on the tv. "that's a big screen," he said. "how big you think that is? 50?" "looks like a 50," i said.

the girl showed up, and she ordered some kind of wine. she didn't really look at me much, and i thought that was weird. i thought about how it seemed like an asian girl thing to do. and then i thought about how i was racist. they talked about something or another, and we all drank. i was feeling kind of off because i had a headache and because i always feel off when i meet new people.

we went across the street to a place called west 5. the girl's friend, another cambodian, joined us later. by then, they had finished off a plate of mac and cheese that was too salty, and i finished off a sundae that was mostly whipped cream. i heard the girl had a kid, so i asked about the kid. she said she had two. i asked how that was. she said it was hard, since she was divorced, and the father was in cambodia. she said, "how about you? married? kids? girlfriend? boyfriend?" i said no on all counts and then laughed at the last part when she assumed i was gay.

jokingly, my friend said, "i hope this night ever ends." but i was ready to go to bed.
leave the house today.

yesterday, i could've left early, but i didn't. i stayed until 5 p.m., even though there was nothing left to do. it was thursday, and i was glad the next day would be friday. i kept listening to "remix to ignition" and thinking about the lyric, "it's the freakin' weekend, baby, i'm about to have me some fun." the line was funny because i equated r. kelly's idea of fun with pissing on a minor. whereas my freakin' weekend would consist of maybe eating some fried chicken and watching t.v.

i've started brushing my teeth at work. it helps the time pass, and it messes up my psyche a little bit, helps me think that maybe it's night time and i'm about to go to sleep. i took a cue from the law librarian, who i would catch brushing his teeth in the men's room just about every morning. i do the whole routine: brush for six minutes, floss, rinse with listerine. my mouth feels fresh, and there's ten minutes less left on the clock.

i use the restroom on the third floor because there's more privacy. sometimes, the second floor men's room will stink, and it will be unbearable. it's nearly impossible to brush your teeth when you're gagging on stink. once, my cousin complained about the stink in a bathroom. he couldn't hold his breath any longer, so i told him to just breathe through his mouth. "ugh," he said, "that's even worse. i don't want that stink in my mouth." i realized that he was right about that.

on the bus back, i stood the whole way. sometimes, strangers will offer each other their seats when there are no seats left. for the most part, people will be polite and say, "no, you go ahead. i've been sitting all day!" that's how i felt. i had been sitting all day, so i decided i could stand for a twenty minute ride. i thought about my health, and how sitting down all day and staring at a computer screen all day were affecting it. i tried to put it out of my head. instead, i listened to yo la tengo's "mr. amache plays the stranger."

i came home, and my cousin was watching the wire. i said, "man, did you even leave the house today?" he shook his head. he told me that he was looking at tickets to go back home. "you already bought your ticket?" i asked. "no, i was just looking at prices," he said. i was going to lecture him, talk to him about really making an effort to learn how to live on his own and all that, but i decided not to. a nap sounded much more satisfying. so that's what i did.

i mean, i've heard that lecture before. taking responsibility for myself and shit. and yeah, i listened, followed orders, played it safe. i have a job, live on my own, can support myself. i am the american dream.
live a long, happy life!

he fell asleep with his upper right arm feeling numb. did it signal an impending heart attack? right before he fell asleep, he wondered, what did it even matter? that is, what would it matter if he died in his sleep? the next day would just be like all the rest, and all the others to come. he'd do his routine, go to work, and come home. it was best to forget about magic and serendipity and good fortune and all that. those types of things were best saved for the chain mails his aunt occasionally sent him via email.

he pitied her, in some ways. he'd get one email after another, and it was more or less the same. the message would say: send this to 8 people, and you'll get a lot of money! send this to twelve people, and you will find love! send this to as many people as you can, and you will live a long, happy life! it was pathetic. the act itself was basically admitting to friends and family that you felt poor, loveless, and hopeless. did people hit reply out of fear, or because they genuinely believe a stupid little email could change their lives?

he wasn't stupid. others might have been stupid, but he wasn't. by god, he was a realist. with a numb arm, he closed his eyes, fully accepting that this might be it, that this might be the last time he gets to close his eyes. but he knew it wasn't over. not yet anyway. he still believed he was being kept alive for some good reason, some strange reason he wasn't sure of yet. a faint part of him thought that maybe, just maybe, he could win, or that he could do something of great importance. he didn't want to, but for one reason another, he still believed in himself.

and yet, he didn't. he awoke, and he did his routine, and he went to work, and it was all just as he imagined it. he was just biding his time. something great had to happen eventually. wasn't that the way it worked? he continued biding his time, barely living out his isolated, mediocre existence. he liked to sleep a lot. he liked to dream. recently, he started relying heavily on his dreams to elicit some sort of emotional response. it was far better than walking through the haze of his reality, everything numb, numb as the arm that didn't signal his impending doom.

it wasn't going to take him just yet.
hearty laugh goes back to school.

on my way to lunch, i recognized hearty laugh. she told me a few weeks ago that she'd be on campus, since she was getting her masters in teaching. she was just walking along, and i could've just walked past her, as she probably wouldn't have even recognized me, but i felt it was the decent thing to say something, so i did. "hey," i said. "hey!" she said back. i almost forgot her name, since i was so used to calling her hearty laugh.

she told me she was still getting acquainted with the campus, figuring out places to eat, where to park, and all that. i thought i'd be helpful and give her a mini-tour, even though i only had lunch on my mind. she giggled the whole way through, rightfully earning the nickname i had granted her, unbeknown to her. she was so positive and full of energy that i didn't really know what to make of her. the only time she spoke negatively was when she talked about her previous job. "i hope they go under," she said.

i went to qfc, and she followed me inside. "i'll just follow you for a little bit. i need to be back by 12:15," she said. i looked at my watch. it was 12:45. she corrected herself. "1:15!" we went inside qfc, and i bought a banana, an orange, and a package of eel sushi. "healthy," she said, and then she told me about the peanut butter and jelly sandwich in her backpack. i told her that i, too, needed to start bringing my own lunches again.

i asked if she had grown up in seattle, since she seemed to be so unfamiliar with what i thought was a very popular seattle neighborhood. she said she grew up north, in shoreline. i didn't know what else to say about that. she told me about her new graduate program, that class starts on monday, that she has a lot in common with the people in her cohort, that there are 49 of them, that the uw's masters in teaching program is still in transition and that's why she's at seattle u. i thought about telling her about my brief stint as a teacher, but i didn't want to be a downer.

we walked back to campus together. i felt like i was a student again, mingling with other students. we talked about my boring desk job and her previous boring desk job. she said, "go back to school." i asked if her husband liked his job. she said that he did, but that he deserved a raise. she said she was going to the loyola building for a meeting, and i said i was gonna eat lunch at my desk. "i'm gonna cut through the quad," i said. she agreed, and she said that she would see me around.

down in the quad, there was a gaggle of girls sitting on a big slab of rock. they looked like a study group. there was a dog in the water, and a man tending to his dog. the sun was shining, shooting through the fountain. i felt like i was gonna fall over.
too smart for that shit.

at four years old, when he started preschool, his mom wouldn't let him go alone. she sent her maid, bea, with him on his first day, then the second, then for the rest of the year. i remember visiting him at the school on his birthday, when he brought cupcakes for the entire class, and there was bea, standing in the corner, minding her business. the teacher called on bea to help distribute the cupcakes. there was a little white girl in class, and she looked at bea, then looked at me. i wondered then if she thought the two of us might be related.

the next year he started kindergarten, and this time, bea didn't come with him. he was left to fend for himself, figure out the ropes and all that. i didn't watch his progression then. i had my own things to think about: third or fourth grade, and then puberty, and then my future. i didn't see him at recess, or at lunch, or at any other part of the day. we were dropped off and picked up together - all the time spent in between, we were total strangers.

i went to high school, hated it, and then five years later, he went to the same high school, and said it wasn't that bad. "maybe it was just the friends you made," he theorized, years later. "i mean, how many friends do you still keep in touch with?" i told him none. well, maybe one. "see?" he said, and then he told me that he still talks to his friends. i hated him for pointing that out to me. everyone from high school was dead to me.

when i finished high school, i applied to three jesuit schools, all on the west coast. one accepted me, so that was where i went. he applied to one school, was accepted, but for one reason or another, he didn't go. i was frustrated with him for not accepting. by then, i had already finished college, and while i was overwhelmed with student loans and disillusioned by how unprepared i was for the world, i still thought it was, overall, a great experience. how could he say no? how could he turn down such an opportunity?

he decided instead that he would enroll at the community college. i told him that he was making a mistake, that he should just wait to apply to universities for the winter semester. he said no. i reminded him about our other cousins, the ones who went to community college, and never finished. he snapped at me. "that's not gonna happen to me! i'm too smart for that shit!" he said. nearing the end of his third year at community college, he still wasn't finished. he had gotten some bad advice from his academic advisers, and by the time he finished up that spring semester of his third year, he still didn't have his associate's degree.

at the end of that third year, he applied to one university and to one state college, and again, both had accepted him. for one reason or another, he declined both their invitations to enroll. he told me that he was tired of living with his mom, and that he was feeling lost. he told me that he was on his way to the state college, to talk to an adviser about late registration, but then he ended up just turning the car around. i told him not to feel bad about it, that i had done similar things.

his mom told my mom recently that she hopes that i can guide him. it was fifth grade all over again, ms. edwards telling me what a good role model i was. my classmate, mike t., quoted that charles barkley commercial: "i am not a role model." the words stuck with me the rest of the day, the sign of a strong ad campaign. i am not a role model. i didn't want to be a role model. i was sick of being the good kid, the straight a student, and i knew what a hypocrite i was, with all those dark thoughts circling around in my brain all day.

i hope he can figure it out. because i sure as hell don't have any answers.