bone marrow drive.

i was at taco del mar, eating a a super veggie burrito, as it was double-stamp mondays. i was all alone at the counter, eating my burrito, and the open sign partially blocked my view of broadway. there wasn't much to see. it was a cloudy day, and there was a billboard that wasn't even memorable. people walking, cars passing, just an ordinary day in an ordinary city. and then i got to thinking about those lakewood cops that got shot. how they were probably just doing what i was doing, eating a little breakfast, maybe checking their email, and then boom! boom boom boom boom, all of them dead. it was all over just like that.

i think about the individual. he grew up, loved christmas, learned how to ride a bike, had crushes on pretty girls, got his teeth pulled when they had to come out. he got acne, couldn't sleep after seeing a scary movie his friends made him go see, got nervous and sweaty before a first date. as a teen, he worked a boring job at a chain restaurant, and then he took exams to be an officer, and at his interview, he might've said that he was highly motivated and had good people skills. each morning, he woke up to that awful alarm clock and dreamed about the day he could sleep in, guilt-free, collecting his pension. and then he was just checking the sports online, and before he knew it, he was dead.

we decorated the office with tinsel and lights and ribbons this morning. lisa came in, and she said, "it looks like christmas threw up in here." and then she told us that we should sign up for the bone marrow list. she is interested in giving, in blood drives and bone marrow drives and writing to prisoners. who could blame her? she's 24 and beautiful and in love with the world. to her, the earth is a vibrant, happy place where anything and everything is possible. a land of opportunity, a land filled with love where liberalism and the good fight still matter.
wouldn't even mean it.

when did the joke end, and reality begin? it started with kanye, probably. he started listening to kanye, and then he couldn't tell if he thought kanye was just funny, or if he actually liked it. he listened to nothing but kanye for like a week. and then he joined the march madness office pool. he didn't give a shit about college ball, but there he was, rooting for unc, winning it all. he started buying clothes that weren't on sale, and the newest and best electronics. hell, he even got a credit card.

was he just being funny? he started to drink and dance and loosen up a bit. was that a good thing, or bad? he began approaching strange women, and he even came on too strong sometimes. his friend called him out, said he was a frat boy. it was all just a big joke, though, right? like patrick bateman, there was no real "him." just an idea of him. some persona, some crazy and unbalanced character he made up for himself to give him something to write about. every outing became material, and he just couldn't stop.

wasn't it better to live that way, anyway, than to be cooped up in his house all day, feeling bad for himself? he was only going to be young once, wasn't he? shouldn't he just have gone nuts, gone apeshit? he was tired of taking orders, had grown weary of being predictable. he was all set to do some crazy shit, talk some crazy talk and he wouldn't even mean it. but, was anyone laughing? was anyone laughing at all?

he was sick of being himself. as himself, he couldn't handle the pitfalls that came with everyday living. as himself, a lot of things were just unacceptable to him. he'd actually have that thought: this is unacceptable to me! his mom told him that he couldn't, shouldn't lose his cool when he got in a mere fender bender, that he shouldn't have cried in front of other people. sometimes, though, he felt like he was gonna be that postsecret, the one that read: "i have turned into the kind of person who cries in the bathroom at work."

it was better for him to be a womanizer and a drunk and someone who threw all his money away on ridiculous things. that was where the joke ended, and fun began. yeah. yeah, he was gonna go with that.
from a distance!

we were at arigato, my parents and me. there was a girl at the door with a jean jacket, and i let her in. she had short curly hair and sunglasses. i held the door for her because i've heard that's what guys are supposed to do. my parents ordered the howe and fair oaks, the golden gate, and i got the kamikaze. it was ok. it wasn't the greatest sushi in the world, but it was alright. when we finished, i said i was gonna wait outside so i could get some sun. i hadn't had any sun in what felt like forever. my mom asked about someone, and i said that we didn't talk anymore. i told her this, and then she changed the subject.

my dad had replaced the blinds in all the rooms. there are now white blinds instead of the dusty old yellow ones. the new blinds make the house feel new and clean. i got rid of some things again, some clothes and some chairs that i thought were ugly. i heard somewhere that we are completely different people every seven years or something like that, so i try to adjust accordingly. i put the chairs in the backseat of my mom's crv, and i drove to teen challenge thrift while listening to jay-z. i felt a little bit like marlo when i did that. all i was missing was the sweatband.

i was sitting on the couch, and my mom said, in tagalog, "are we really going home?" she was talking about the philippines. i said yes, of course, all the tickets have already been purchased. she asked why i liked it there, why i wanted to go back. i answered that i wanted to travel and feel like i was doing something with my life, or something to that effect. she said but we've already been there. i reminded her that we'd be going to hong kong and boracay, too, and that we've never been there. she said i had a point.

for thanksgiving, we went to my aunt's new house. she bought a house way out in sunrise, and it was a little bit of a drive to get there. all my cousins were there, and there was a lot of food. my goddaughter kept playing with a balloon and she'd run away whenever i tried to pick her up. my cousins and uncles watched football, and i pretended like i knew what they were talking about. we played mahjong, and i won once or twice. there were two turkeys, one baked and one deep-fried. i stuffed myself good, and then i leaned back on the couch.

i wished then that i didn't live so far away, even though two states away isn't that far. but what was i doing in seattle, anyway? i could work a boring job somewhere else. on the flight back, i didn't know what i was coming back to. it was like an explosions in the sky song, and it's called, "what do you come home to?" but i have no idea where home is. i can't live in my parents house, and my cold empty apartment might as well be some cabin in the woods. i didn't like being there, and i don't really like being here.

guess that's what your twenties is supposed to be about. you're supposed to feel restless and wandering even if you're just standing perfectly still. i don't know what i want, only that i don't want to look at my ripped ceiling, or have a place so empty and sad that all i hear is the refrigerator humming. i want to have a roommate who gets excited about modern warfare 2 and talks his crazy talk, saying things like, "headshot, mothafucka!" and "from a dis-tonce!" i want to feel like i have some sort of family, who knows who i am, even if we don't talk all that much.

one day, i'll get what i want, and then i'll wish i had something else instead.
what men do.

i told him i should've come out drinking with him more often, especially that year i was home and unemployed. but when i think about it, it probably wouldn't have been the best thing to be an unemployed drunk. he agreed, though, and he said, "finally." he said he had been drunk for about two years now, and he had all his friends with him, so it really looked like he was having a good time. we downed some beers, some drinks, little bit of this and a little bit of that. i was starting to have a good time, and i wished then that i hadn't left california.

california was all sun, after all. it was late november, but the sun was out, and i had forgotten what that was like. i could wear a t-shirt outdoors and play basketball outside at 5 in the evening. i ran around the block and listened to music. it was a rare thing i'd taken for granted. i stayed in bed and listened to records. i watched sitcoms on demand and i ate food that my mom cooked. i knew if i stayed it would've gotten old, but damnit. just damnit.

we talked with some people, some strangers, and i couldn't believe it had taken me twenty-six years and a couple of beers to stop caring about what other people thought. nobody was watching, nobody cared, anyway. i don't know what it was that always made me feel like i was being watched. but i said things like, "hello," and "what've you been up to tonight?" and i felt like a normal, social being. this is what people did when they weren't just at home listening to records or typing on the computer.

at one point, i was so out of it, so not who i usually am (or thought i was) that a girl, tracy, said i was being too "pushy." that put me in a mood, but i backed off anyway. her friend, courtney, was telling me about her ex-boyfriend and how his current girlfriend had slashed her tires for no good reason. i asked what that was about, and she said she didn't know, and i said that was crazy, and she agreed, and then her friend told me i was being pushy. i didn't get women, probably never will.

but either way, i was probably being kind of desperate, pathetic, and creepy. i'm sure i was obvious about what i wanted, but i'd been out of the game so long, that i didn't really give a shit. i sat at the bar and feigned interest in a basketball game. my cousin gave me some advice. he said that when a girl starts talking some heavy shit, that you're supposed to change topic, maybe talk about hobbies or other things instead. some people get emotional when they're drunk. me, i just start to finally feel something.

i ate wings at 3 in the morning and slept on the floor with the tv on. when saved by the bell was on at 7 or 8 in the morning, i watched it. i remembered what it was like sleeping with a woman in a bed, and then there i was on the floor, and it didn't even matter. people did this all the time. this was what the single life was all about, passing out on floors and eating greasy food in the wee hours of the morning.

this is what men do. this is what men do.
thing to strive for.

he was feeling weird. he'd been feeling weird for a while, though, so what did it matter? it wasn't just the pain he felt in his arm. he had slept on it wrong a few nights ago, but the pain persisted. it was a shooting pain that became present when he moved his arm a certain way, like when he was trying to take off his sweatshirt without stretching the neck hole. he was being weird about sweatshirts. he liked buying sweatshirts because they were soft and warm and all he'd been feeling lately was tough and cold.

he couldn't do much of anything. he'd set unrealistic goals for himself like getting grad school applications ready within a month. a month was a reasonable time, except that he'd be going on vacation to another country, so he wouldn't really have time to put together an acceptable application. he knew the real reason he was applying, anyway. it was to give him something to do, to take his mind off his troubles. the thing was, though, he didn't have any troubles.

he told his friend about this, about not having any troubles, especially when it came to his job. his job was relatively easy, and he did nothing but show up and collect checks at the end of the month. this was what he thought he had wanted for a very long time, to be well-compensated for not doing a damn thing. and now that he had acquired it, he was still dissatisfied, and he wondered what was wrong with him. "what's wrong with me?" he said to his friend. "you've got nothing to strive for," his friend told him. and as usual, she was right.

so, there he was, striving for something. an application. a writing sample. a personal statement and a resume. an informed wish to study at a particular university, whatever the hell that meant. it didn't mean anything to him, what he was going for. you see, he was on the plane recently, and there was a medical emergency. a man was short of breath, and he was having a panic attack. the stewardess, a busty blonde in her forties, asked if there were any doctors on board. he wasn't a doctor, so what could he do? he couldn't do shit, so he kept on watching a movie on his ipod. he was as useless as the flotation device underneath his seat.

why couldn't he strive for something important? why did he like writing all these shitty stories and having internal dialogues with himself? he'd think about how other people felt, like how, at the restaurant, one cousin brought up to another cousin the whole thing about him not getting a christmas present one year. it had been years since the christmas present incident, but there it was, being talked about like it had happened yesterday. the family dynamics would never change. they'd forever be teenagers, going for the jugular.

and he'd feel weird, not right, going into the nice mall. the nice mall was full of young blonde women and young girls with big brown eyes, white smiles, and tanned legs. he'd be aware of the zits around his mouth, how his shoes were always dirty, and how his hair didn't grow out right - all poof on the sides and flat, forward on the top. even though most considered him thin, he'd always have love-handles and a little gut. he'd walk around and think, what was the point? he was a dog on the race track, forever chasing that dumb, stupid rabbit.

he was very comfortable in his bedroom, all by himself, connected to the world via the internet, but disconnected from everyone in every other way. a part of him wished he could just do this forever. who needed friends when he had books? who needed conversation? he had records. he had everything he needed, or at least he imagined, right there in that little empty room of his. he liked hearing his parents talk about tv shows they were watching in the other room. they'd laugh and comment about how so-and-so was probably gay. it was all very amusing to him, and he wished he could just stay that way forever.

who needed the world? he had his thoughts.
there's a party going on.

right now, somewhere in our neighborhood, there is a party going on. there are kids walking past my parents' house, and they are drunk and talking loudly. they come in groups of threes or fours, and they are carrying drinks in their hands. one of the boys was talking about wanting to get into a fight, and he was yelling at his friend about how he wasn't a bitch. he yelled a lot, and he looked like he wanted to get in a fight. i watched him from my window.

tonight, i did not go out. i went out yesterday, but tonight, i did not go out. it was my cousin's birthday, and we spent it at my aunt's house, and we cousins played board games and did karaoke. i wanted to go out, and i told them i wanted to go out, but they did not want to go out, even though it was my cousin's birthday. i didn't know what that was about.

it was weird, though, me wanting to go out. usually, i don't want to go out. usually, i want to stay inside my house and read or else go on the computer. but lately, i have been wanting to go out and drink and meet girls and feel like a moderately successful adult. it is a stupid desire, and i wish to quell it, and i don't know where it came from.

because i look at these kids outside my parents' house, and i think they are all stupid. i think they are worthless children with no future and that they have absolutely nothing to look forward to in life. something in me thinks that it is stupid to want to go out and have a good time, or else want to love and to be loved. part of me thinks that it's a really stupid thing, for absolutely no reason or logic whatsoever. maybe i am bitter and i am hurt and that's the reason why.

maybe i read too much into the wire, and i think how no matter what one does in life, he's ultimately going to be compromised by the institution he's forced to contend with. we'll all be bought and sold. and then synecdoche, new york struck a chord with me. we're all going to be like the main character, and we're gonna deal with shit and ugly things in life and always feel alone and get gum surgery, and then we're going to die.

i see this little asian kid on the bus i ride to work sometimes. he sits in the front, and he's usually accompanied by his mom or dad. once, his dad made him sit right next to him. he didn't want to, but his dad insisted. the kid just wanted a little buffer zone, but his dad denied him that privilege. the kid didn't try to argue anymore. he just accepted that he was gonna sit next to his dad. it reminded me of when my dad would make me wear my hood in the rain, or else carry an umbrella, and i'd feel like a wimp.

sometimes, i want to tell this kid that i am his future. he's going to have a miserable time in school. he's gonna feel all alone and he's gonna feel bad for himself, and there won't be a thing in the world that can make him change his mind about it. i want to warn him about things, even though his experiences will probably be much different from my own. i don't know, though. i just feel like i need to warn him.

and then last night, i met my cousin and his friends at the monkey bar. he was drunk and having a good time, so i decided to get drunk and have a good time. and then that's what i did. i told my cousin that he should try to meet a girl, and then i approached these two asian girls and i asked them if i could buy them a drink. they laughed and said no, and then one of them pointed out her boyfriend, who was also in the bar. that's when i backed off.

i went back to the table and made some misogynistic remarks. i didn't really mean them, i just wanted to get a few cheap laughs from the table. i didn't even think the asian girls were attractive. it just felt like something to do. because i no longer wish to be myself. i wish to be a different person who enjoys striking out more than actually getting what he wants. i don't know why i want to be this different person. maybe because if i am this different person, i won't have to feel so bad about this world and my place in it anymore.

and these kids keep walking past my house, talking some bullshit and holding onto their drinks. and it just doesn't make any sense to me why they should be able to enjoy their saturday night when someone else starves or else freezes to death in another part of town. it doesn't make any goddamn sense to me why i get to blog about nothing while some other fucker has to live in fear of his village being bombed, or else his family being killed.

do i believe in god? i don't know. what i do believe is that i'm becoming more like my uncle, who drank a lot and rolled down his window to tell girls in the next car that he was on his way to black angus. my uncle who lived with his mom for a long time until he finally got his own empty apartment and filled it with things because that's what people do. my uncle who sang karaoke songs off-key and worked a boring, unrewarding job for a very long time.

the only thing i have left to do in life is to pick my favorite professional sports football team.
throw it at you.

i'm at a starbucks now. i'm at a starbucks because it's better than sitting in the airport lobby. i don't know why everyone isn't in starbucks instead, listening to some sinatra and drinking a mango tango that only cost $3.25. you know, why wait out there with everyone else, watching cnn or whatever they've got going on the monitors. why's it always cnn? i just don't get it.

anyway, i used to work at a starbucks. it was just like the one i'm in now. all starbuckses are the same. they've all got that granite floor, or whatever it is, black squares - well, half of it is black, the other half is a lighter grey or something - and they've got these round wooden tables and a bunch of chairs. high chairs for people who like high chairs and regular chairs for the rest of us.

some old asian ladies are working behind the counter. they've got the standard getup, white or black shirts, green aprons and pants that aren't jeans. that's the uniform. that's what they told me when i worked at a starbucks in watsonville. they said no jeans. they said black pants, but no jeans. something about jeans doesn't look professional, i guess. so, i went out and i got a pair of black pants from the goodwill or salvation army or whatever was closest.

it was a weird thing for me to work at a starbucks. for one, i was a college graduate. i know that's the norm, but it shouldn't be the norm. someone who went to college shouldn't have to pour coffee, i'm sorry. that's just the way i feel. some people may feel otherwise, but not me. maybe it's the way i was raised, or the way i was taught. but who knows, really? who cares. there are worse things in life.

so, there i was, a twenty-three, twenty-four year old college grad, and i was working at a starbucks. the other thing was, i was an english tutor, and sometimes, my students would come in. it was a weird thing. i would serve them strawberries and cream at night, and then, in the morning, i would help them with english. it was just like, teaching someone to write was as pointless as pouring him a drink. i was a little bitter about it, in case you couldn't already tell.

i worked at starbucks for about three months. the other workers were college students, or else grownups who didn't mind working for a starbucks, or who couldn't find anything better, and they'd all refer to me as "college grad." it'd be like, "hey, college grad, how's it going?" and i'd say fine because what else was i gonna say to that? i had nothing to say to that.

there were some cute girls who worked at the starbucks in watsonville when i worked there. it wasn't like i could do a thing about it, since i had a girlfriend, but even if i didn't have a girlfriend, i still probably wouldn't have asked any of them out. there was this one girl, angela, who i swore was my crush from pre-school (but i never brought that up because, well, i didn't wanna look like a psychopath), and there was this girl aimee, and there was this girl named lindsey. and they were all cute, cute baristas who worked with me at starbucks.

sometimes, angela would refer to me as "hon." i found it very condescending, but i didn't make a big stink out of it. she'd call me "hon," and all it would take was for me to look into her big brown eyes or else get a whiff of her perfume, and all would be forgiven. she called me "hon" for a long time, and then one day, she asked me how old i was. word must have gotten around that a college grad was in their presence, so she asked me my age. i told her twenty-four. she said, "oh. so, you're my age then," and she stopped calling me "hon" after that. by then, though, honestly, i didn't mind.

and then there was lindsey, this blonde girl who was friends with aimee. both aimee and lindsey had boyfriends, and, like i said, i had a girlfriend, so what did it matter? aimee was really loud and obnoxiously extroverted, so i liked lindsey better. the other thing was, lindsey was a creative writing major. she confided in me once. once, she said, "this is gonna sound really geeky, but...i like to write buffy fan fiction." swoon, right? i think about that moment now, and i swoon.

lindsey and i were closing up shop one night, while our supervisor - whatever her name was - was counting the money in the back. i swept the floors, and i mopped them, while lindsey cleaned up behind the counter. she had to turn off all the machines, clean the machines, clear out the baked goods, sweep the baked goods section, etc. in short, it was a lot of work to accomplish something so pointless. but anyway, i was sweeping, or else mopping, and i asked her for a rag. specifically, i said, "could you throw me a rag?" she said, "do you really want me to throw it at you?" she giggled, and then i came up to her and got the rag. and then she smiled at me in a way that i will never forget.

in all likelihood, i will never see these girls again. and if all turns out well, i will never have to work at a starbucks again, but i won't forget them. i won't forget how she handed me that rag that night and how she smiled. and i won't forget how it made me feel.
monogamous by nature.

we decided to get a cab. my friend was too drunk to drive, so we decided we'd get a cab. it was already 3 a.m., and we didn't want to wait in that heated car forever. i didn't want to fall asleep in that car. i wanted to be in bed and underneath my macy's level 3 comforter, and i wanted to sleep for twelve hours straight. i wouldn't have been able to sleep for twelve hours in the car. i would've gotten two at best. we said we should get a cab.

"should i call for one?"
"i'll bet we can just find one on the street. see, there's one now."

i waved him over, and we got in. we slipped into the backseat together, and he asked us where to. my friend said she needed to go near 23rd and john, and he wasn't sure what she was talking about. he was an ethiopian guy, this cab driver. i told him to take us to madison valley, please. he knew where madison valley was, and he hit it.

it was 3 a.m., so there was no traffic out. by the time we reached denny, the meter was only at $4. i didn't think it was gonna be so bad. he drove us all the way up denny, and then he went down john, i think. he made a right on 29th, and after a few blocks, my friend told him to stop. we had already made it to where she lived. we said goodnight, and she got out of the car. the driver asked me where i was going, and i told him columbia city.

i don't remember much about what we talked about. i think that we talked about relationships. i told him i asked a girl for her number that night, but that it didn't work out the way i had planned. nothing seemed to be going my way. i was drunk enough to tell him everything, this ethiopian cab driver. he thought i was talking about the girl, my friend, who we had just dropped off. i told him no, it wasn't her.

he told me about his girlfriend, how they had been together for a year and a half. i told him that was good. he told me that he thought men weren't monogamous by nature. a man likes what he likes, he seemed to say. he said that his relationship was a lot of work, but that mostly, he just liked sex. i laughed, and i was getting along with his guy. we had things in common.

he dropped me off, and i told him good luck to him and his girl. he told me that he cheats on her. all the time. i laughed at that too, drunk as i was. i gave him a small tip, and then i told him goodnight.
liquid confidence.

sitting at the balcony, i was on my third of fourth beer when this blonde woman asked me if i liked the band. the truth was, i did, but i didn't want to admit it. it was the new faces, a group of eighteen year old white kids. fucking white kids and their talent. i was so sick of it.

"yeah, they're not bad," i said. "do you like them?"
"i think they're great," she said.

she went on to say some other things, but i couldn't hear that well, so i just nodded along. i found her attractive, but i knew it didn't even matter, since there was some guy standing right next to her. i wanted to know what this was all about. did i seem so weak and innocent that she could just talk to me right in front of some dude without him feeling emasculated? i offered to buy her a drink.

"i'll do a red vine."
"what? a red vine?"
"a glass of red wine," she said.

i went downstairs and ordered a fat tire for myself, a glass of red wine for my new friend.

when i had returned, she and the dude she was with were already walking down the stairs. i handed her the plastic cup of wine.

"cheers," she said. the guy smiled at me. you aren't a threat, he seemed to be saying.

i walked back upstairs, and my two friends asked me who that woman was.

"i don't know," i said. "she just started talking to me."
"she was pretty cute."
"yeah," i said, "she was."

i noticed another cute girl with short hair sitting next to my friend.

"i wouldn't mind getting with that," i said, pointing to her.
"switch seats with me," he said.

we switched seats.

"say something to her."
"hold on," i said.

i wasn't drunk enough yet. why was this so hard? other guys got to do it all the time. but me, i just felt like a creep. like, what did i actually have to say to this girl?

hey, i'm a pretty boring guy. i have like three friends and i live by myself in a small and cold apartment. i have a job where i don't do anything all day but look at random websites. i read posts on reddit about equally socially inept guys and i like to do so because it just reminds me of how pitiful i actually am, how we all are.

i had an xbox and then i returned it because i wanted to use the money to apply to grad schools instead. and still, i probably won't even get accepted because my stories are awful and i have zero confidence in myself. i really just want to be back in school because my life is boring and i think that, if i were to become a student again, i might become interesting. that's probably not the case, but i have to try.

anyway, want to have sex?
the girl was looking at pictures on her iphone. i gulped down the last bit of my beer, and just got to it.

"so, is this visqueen?"
"no," she said. "they're on next."

she told me about her friend and how her friend had something to do with visqueen. i asked her about her job, and she asked me about mine. she was beautiful, and i felt creepy. i didn't want to feel creepy, but i felt creepy. i asked her if i could buy her a drink, but she said she was still working on what she had. i got myself another drink.

i tried starting the conversation again. i asked if she was into the band that was playing. they were really awful. she said no, but did i like them? i told her not really. i asked her what kind of music she liked. she said everything, but mentioned r&b and hip-hop. i asked what kind of hip-hop, and she said old school stuff like digable planets and local stuff like blue scholars. i told her i heard that the blue scholars were good.

i wanted to impress her, but i hated myself too much to be able to do so.

she got up and said that she and her friend were gonna go next door and come back for the next band. i panicked. i told my friends what had happened.

"well, let's go next door," they said.
"but it'll feel creepy," i said. "i don't want it to look like i'm stalking her."
"you won't be. let's go next door."
"alright," i said.
"you just need confidence," my friends said.
"yeah, but i don't," i said.
"you've got liquid confidence," he said.

we went next door, but the place was empty. we went to another bar, shorty's, and the place was packed, but she wasn't there. my friends ordered some gin and tonics. i sat there at the bar with them, and i thought about whether or not i was gonna finally grow a pair.

after some time, i said that we should go back to see if the next band was on yet. we went back to the balcony, but she wasn't up there. i looked at the dance floor, and i spotted her at the opposite side of the venue.

"there she is," i said.
"come on," my friend said.

we walked up to her, and i stood behind her for a minute. my friend pushed me forward, egged me on. "go ahead," he said. i felt like a fucking fool. why was it so fucking difficult for me? i knew she was going to say no, that i wasn't going to get her number, but i had to do it anyway. she was too perfect not to.

i tapped her on the arm.

"hey, i kind of wanted to ask for your number."
she said something, but i didn't hear her over the band.
"what?" i asked.
"i'm in a relationship."
"oh okay," i said.

"she's in a relationship," i told my friend.
"let's go," he said.

once we left the venue, he put his arm around me.

"i am so fucking proud of you right now," he said.

and for the first time in a long time, i was proud of me, too.
have you ever heard of some shit so real?

you know when some shit gets too real? maybe it's just all in my head, but i know when shit gets a little too real for me. i don't mean real as in genuine. i mean real as in, whoa, this is a little too real for me. like when you're in a used video game shop on fair oaks blvd. in sacramento, and it's dark and there's nobody in there except for the guy with the stained polo shirt behind the counter. he's unfriendly, and he says, "can i help you?" and you just stand there, scared out of your mind, scared that this person, this place, even exists, and you don't know what to think because this shit is just too fucking real.

and then there's the imaginary side of life. like when you're at some party, or it doesn't even have to be a party, a class or gathering or whatever, and there's some girl there, and she's incredible and you know you would probably love your life if you were just someone she knew. if she just knew your name, you'd be thrilled. but she doesn't. and you know, you just fucking know you're nowhere close to being in her league, so you don't say anything, and then you just come across as a real asshole. that's some imaginary shit right there.

and shit becomes real again when you take the bus home. and it's only 4:30 but it's fucking dark out. it's winter time, and it's rainy and cold as shit. you're riding the bus and you're all wet, and nobody is saying anything. in fact, they're all speaking different languages, or else looking like they just done saw some heavy shit go down. like the end of a working day, you know? anybody who can survive a working day in some shit weather just saw some shit go down. head hung low, like they about to cry or some shit. that's some real shit right there. real heavy shit right there.

when the rain finally settles, there's a coffee shop or else a bakery, and it's full of families. some mom's got her two boys and the two boys are all arguing and shit, and she's trying to shut them up. "behave!" goddamnit. "behave!" and some other kid's all whining, and he's saying, "don't forget to get me a spoon!" and even though these parents look all annoyed, they're happy about what they've got. they're happy to not be floundering in life, and that they have some meaning, some kind of purpose. and i see that, wonder if i want it. and for now, it doesn't seem real. at least not like the real i've been talking about.

you're probably saying to yourself, i don't know what the hell he's talking about. all this nonsense about what's real and what isn't. it's all real, right? the good and bad, it's all a part of life. but there are some of us that see the good and think it's bad and vice versa. there are some of us who go through life and it's nothing but frustration, despair, and gum surgery. and there are others with the right attitude, who just whistle when they wake up, put on a smile and are genuine about it. they want to do good, to bring some kind of joy into the world.

it's like what d said. some shit just stick with you.
what is environmental justice?

the woman was so stupid. she was a professor of law, but she couldn't relate to other people. she took a good forty-minutes, recounting all the horrors in the world, all the shit that most students - unless they had been living in a bomb shelter - had already known about. of course they put landfills closer to poor people's homes, and people of color. of course we were consuming too much for our own damn good. we're unhappy and live beyond our means? you don't say.

last week, my friend said he had to go to wal-mart to buy a tv stand. he thought that i would be morally opposed to it, but honestly, i didn't have the same angst in me anymore. who fucking cared? wal-mart's gonna do what wal-mart's gonna do, and there ain't a goddamn thing you can do about it. who's gonna stop them? it ain't gonna be you, and it ain't gonna be me, so let's just shut up about it already.

the woman was going on and on and nobody was listening. everyone was on facebook, or else reading something better. who wanted to hear a monotone white woman reading letters written by oppressed guatemalans? i wanted to know what kind of car she drove, what she made in a year. it made me remember some movie i once saw, maybe it was traffic, where some suit was being accused of corruption. he yelled something along the lines of, "corruption is what keeps you and me from fighting in the street!" the man had a point.

i have no idea what this woman did. maybe she donated a good portion of her income to organizations. but i haven't yet heard of an organization that didn't waste its time fundraising and networking than actually carrying out its mission. on some level, she must have known that she was part of the problem. the topic was environmental justice, and there she was, preaching to a room full of laptops.

i'll admit i am part of the problem. just by writing this, i am implicated.
let's go to graduate school! hurray!

it was time to get something new started, so i went to the career center. i wanted an advisor to look over my resume, maybe tell me that i was worth a damn.

"i have an appointment. with you, i think."
"are you sure? for right now?"
"yeah, i booked it online."
"hmm. i don't see anything here. you sure it was for today?"
"pretty sure."
"have a seat."

i sat down in his office. he kept looking at some webpage, trying to figure out if i had made the appointment with him or not. as he switched between tabs, i thought, in the time that it's taking him to figure out if i've made an appointment or not, he could've just looked at my resume. he confirmed that i made the appointment for friday and asked if i might come back then. i told him i could.

i went to the writing center. the receptionist, an asian girl, was on a call. there was also a redhead, and she was sorting and stapling papers. when the asian girl got off the phone, she asked if i had an appointment.

"no. i'd like to make one."
"have you been in before?"
"who would you like to meet with?"
"well," i said, "can alumni make appointments?"
"i'm not sure," she said. she looked at the redhead, and the redhead shrugged. "the director will be here in an hour, and i can ask him if that's allowed. i could email you or you could come back in an hour."
"could you email me?"
"great. thanks."

and that's what happens when you want to do something else in life. you've gotta ask for help, and you've gotta play dumb. because that's what most people expect you to be: dumb.
wing dome.

the three of us couldn't decided where to eat. seattle was a big city with a lot of restaurants, so it was tough to decide. where to go, where to go. "let's go to the wingdome." we could all agree on that. inside the wing dome, a lot of people were eating. we didn't wanna sit next to the window because it would've been too cold. "i'll bus a table for you guys," the waitress offered. we said okay, and then we stood there for a while.

we finally got to sit down to eat, and i couldn't decide what i wanted. our waiter, a small man with an orange shirt, asked if we were ready. we said sure, even though i wasn't sure. sometimes you just say "sure" and hope that things work out okay. i ended up ordering 10 wings. "what kind of wings?" the small man said. i said, "what?" and he repeated the question. i still couldn't hear him. i thought he said, "how many?" or else "what kind of beans?" and i was confused. i just got what my friend got.

the subject came to me wanting to return my xbox 360. i have no use for it. i have had an xbox 360 for about three months now, and i failed to see the point of me owning one. i used it to watch movies and play video games, and so what? video games are a bore. i am going to be twenty-seven years old, and video games are for children. what else is there to say on the matter? the time has come for a man such as myself to grow old and boring and to not be so entranced by cartoon characters killing one another.

the subject turned to me once again, and how i like to get rid of everything i own. it was true. i used to collect comic books, compact discs, stamps, baseball cards, concert and movie ticket stubs, etc. and then i grew tired of them as well, and i no longer needed them in my life. it was difficult at first, saying goodbye, but after a little while, i realized that i didn't miss any of it. one has to ask himself such seemingly stupid questions, though, from time to time. it's entirely necessary.

when i pass on to the next life, what is going to become of all the useless things i've acquired over the years?
they forget to get their hair cut.

the woman who usually cut my hair wasn't there. i looked around, and i saw her daughter, but she wasn't there. someone else was gonna cut my hair, and there wasn't a thing i could do about. i thought i'd give it a try, though. i might as well. i wasn't that satisfied with the last haircut i had been given anyway. maybe this new woman would be better. there was always a chance that she would be better now, wasn't there? i decided i would give her a chance.

the woman said to come take a seat, so i did. there were only two seats, and the third seat was a kid's seat. i sat in the one that wasn't a kid's seat. she asked if she had cut my hair before. i told her that she hadn't. she said that i looked familiar, though, and i answered that i had been in the shop before. she said that pam was probably the one who cut my hair before. i told her that yes, pam was in fact the woman who would sometimes cut my hair.

she asked what i would like to do, and by that, she was referring to what i would like to have done with my hair. i have been asked this question at barbershops my whole life, and my answer is always the same. i don't care. please just don't make me look stupid. of course, i couldn't say that, so i told her i would like a number four around the back and sides. i said that my hair grows forward, though she could probably already tell that from looking at me. she said that she would do the number four, and then she would make the rest of it blend in.

she started using the number four blade to trim my sides. she asked what i would be doing today. i wasn't sure what to say, so i said i would be working on a writing sample. i felt that if i said it, it would come true. she said that she loves writing, but she doesn't feel that she is good at it. what was there to be good at? you put some words down, and you hoped to god you didn't sound retarded. she said she liked singing, too, but she wasn't good at that, either.

she told me that she was going to shampoo my hair. she ran the water through my hair and then scrubbed my head with shampoo. she asked if i liked to read. i said that i did, and that i had started a book club recently. she asked what i liked to read, and i told her some things. i asked if she liked to read, and she said she did, but that she hadn't read anything in a while. she had two kids, and that was probably why she hadn't read anything in a while.

i asked where pam was, and i felt rude for asking. she said that she was at doos or dues or something, and i didn't say anything. i asked how long she had been working there, and she told me that she owned the shop, and that she had owned it for two years. i told her that was cool, and i really meant it. i thought it was cool that she owned a barbershop in columbia city. i asked if her shop had a twitter page, and she said no. i told her that it was easy to set one up, and she said that she had a twitter page for herself.

what would i do with a twitter page for the shop, she wanted to know. i told her it was a way of cheap advertising. i told her that she would get followers and that when she had special events or discounts or offers, she could tweet about it, and her followers would know. i didn't feel like i did a good job of explaining how she could best utilize twitter. she said that she just followed celebrities on twitter. i told her that the real shaq is funny. she said that she followed him.

when it was all over, i thanked her, paid the bill, and left her with a $5 tip.
do it to me every time.

is she asian? she looks asian. but her hair is so straight and light, it's like white girl hair. maybe she's half. goddamn you half-japanese girls. is she gonna sit next to me? shit. why didn't she sit next to me? maybe i look threatening with my hood up like that. i look like a goddamn thug. maybe she didn't for the same reason i don't sit next to cute girls on buses. afraid that some weird sound or odor would emit from my body, and i would be oblivious to it.

is she even all that cute? is it just her green clear-frame glasses? no, she's definitely cute. she has something going on. oh, she's on her cell phone. now i can tell if she has an accent or not. "i just wanted to wish you a happy birthday and..." no accent. now she's getting up because the guy next to her has to get off at the next stop. now she's sitting in front of me. should i say something? what could i possibly say?

i kind of want to lean in, see what she smells like. is that too creepy? is that perverted? of course it is. i'm creepy, and i'm perverted. i wonder what it would be like to run my hands through her hair. oh well, just forget about it. you'd ruin it somehow, you damn fool. sure, it might be all nice in the beginning. you'd be all romantic and sweet and say the right thing, but then you'd find a way to blow it. you're always gonna blow it. don't ever forget that.

she's probably seeing someone anyway. a girl like that, of course she is. what interest could she possibly have in you? you ate two reese's peanut butter cups for lunch, and your face is all pimply. your hair looks flat and stupid, and you just aren't in her league. if you had a lot of money, maybe it would be a different story. but even then, would you really want to attract a girl that likes you just because you have a lot of money?

christmas is coming up. don't you want someone to do all the cheesy things you dreamed of doing with a girl when you were a kid? like holding hands and walking around neighborhoods at night to see all the lights. like watching the snow fall down while she had her scarf and ear muffs on, and you'd start a snowball fight or build a snowman together, or make angels in the snow. you'd listen to christmas carols and drink eggnog and fall asleep by the fire. you cheesy, hopeless romantic bastard. god, you're pathetic. you deserve to be alone.

and how easy it would be to just move into the seat in front of you. why can't you do it? everyone is always saying you have nothing to lose. just move up a seat and say, "hello." if she says nothing or turns away, you can at least say you tried. what are you gonna say? how would you start? "what's your name?" "do you work at..." "what are you doing this weekend?" why is it so difficult for you to do something so simple?

it's alright. just put it out of your head. i know you're not gonna do it. you fucking wimp. you're gonna be on your deathbed one day, and you're gonna remember all the moments like this one, and you're gonna feel real stupid for not taking any risks in life. you're gonna wish you hadn't played it so safe. and then you're just gonna keep on feeling sorry for yourself. god, you make me sick.
she's a real go-getter.

the sun was out, so i went to the grassy area to read. i'm reading a book called the abstinence teacher because i decided i should start a book club. the book club was a way for me to meet people, since i'm not so good at doing that. the way it worked is that i sent out an email to a bunch of people that i kind of knew, but not really, and i told them that they should join my book club. and if they join, then that's good, and if they don't join, then too bad. since i don't have roommates or very many friends, it's probably a real good thing to get something started, something like a book club.

what are other people my age doing? i'm surprised to see so many people at the connolly center. the weight room was full of young men lifting weights and young women running on treadmills. there were flat screens all lined up against the wall, and the runners were watching them. so this is what people do, i thought. i don't know why it never occurred to me to go there more regularly - after all, it was free. maybe i didn't like physically exerting myself, or i didn't care all that much about being healthy. maybe i didn't want to be alone in a very public place. which is stupid, since most everyone there was alone.

but looking alone is a strange, vulnerable thing. i didn't go to cafes or bars alone because it looks suspicious. what, being surrounded by families and couples everywhere. it just feels off. so, it's easier to hole up in my apartment and watch tv or play video games or read a book or just fall asleep. it's what people with boring jobs and no motivation who spend their days trolling reddit do. there are lots of single, negative redditors who always second-guess themselves and overanalyze every little detail of their lives. it's a virtual community i don't want to be a part of, but i am by default.

i downloaded the new el perro del mar, love is not pop, and it's good. i tweeted how good it was. it makes me wish that i was making music, or making anything, really. my days have been pretty boring, and i'm looking forward to a trip. but i'm not really looking forward to it, either. i know that it will just leave me with a good feeling for a short while, and then i'll go back to work. and it will be like it is now. so i just have to accept how i'm feeling now and be done with it, or i could just keep going through the ups and downs.

i heard about this girl who worked for this american life. before the show even got big, she started contacting ira glass, demanding that he hire her. ira was hesitant, since she had no experience. she was so persistent, though, that finally, he gave in. as it turned out, this chick was amazing, and she could do it all - interview, edit, produce, etc. she was a real go-getter because she loved what she was doing. she got shit done and it satisfied her, and she felt like she was doing what she was born to do.

i am afraid that i will never figure out what i am meant to do. i am afraid that i won't ever be passionate about anything, that i'll always be waiting for someone else to delegate responsibilities to me, and i'll resent them for their authoritative role, and simultaneously resent the possibility that i'm not a go-getter, that i've wasted so much of my time letting other people dictate how my life will be lived. i want to say what goes for a change. i want to call the shots and get things done that i think are important.

but we all want that. so, why aren't things any better?
a productive member.

he shouldn't have slept in as much as he did. he should've gotten up with the sun on those rare days the sun came out, and he should've gone jogging, or done some sort of physical activity. he should've said, "good morning" to passersby, to strangers, to everyone he crossed paths with. what was so hard about it? "good morning." he wouldn't even have to say both words. he could just say "mornin'," and people would know what it meant. because they were all connected, and they all knew english, and they had heard "good morning" enough times to know that "mornin'"meant exactly the same thing.

he shouldn't have sat on his ass and played video games. they only made him angry. they only provided some sort of false relief, a temporary escape from his world of imaginary problems. he should've went to the coffee shop, and ordered coffee and read about what was happening in the world. there were, after all, real conflicts in the world, not ones specifically confined to the worlds of spetsnaz vs. marines, or blanka vs. ryu. there was the real world, and he was obligated to participate, to be a productive member of society. otherwise, he might as well not even exist.

he shouldn't have waited around, or held grudges. he didn't exactly have to "seize the day," but he should've at least tried to do what was good and what was right. he shouldn't have spent day after day with such a heavy heart, and so much paranoia, and feeling like it was him against the world. the belief that he was a nobody, that his time spent on earth was nothing but a blip against the backdrop of eternity, that he was going to someday die and there wasn't a thing he could do about it - all of this should have inspired him. he should've found it encouraging, rather than discouraging.

he shouldn't have felt so frustrated, angry, and defeated all the time. he should've believed in something. if not god, then at least in himself. he should've created a community, and been better to his friends, and tried not to feel like a fool. he shouldn't have had to feel guilty for being himself. he should've played music and wrote stories and been honest. he shouldn't have wasted everything and thrown it all away. he should've worked toward building memories, creating a tangible history for himself.

he should've been happy right where he was, doing what he was doing.
go for something small.

"you wanna do something tonight?"
"no, i don't get what the big deal about halloween is. it's stupid."
"you know, people dress up, and what? why?"
"people at work kept asking me if i was gonna dress up. 'what are you gonna be for halloween?' like i was eight years old or something."

"where do you wanna eat?"
"i don't know. i'm not really that hungry. i ate just a little bit ago. i could go for something small, i guess."
"something small. well, should i go right?"
"yeah, just take a right."
"well, do you wanna go to that indian place where we went last time?"
"yeah, that's fine."
"we could also go to the volunteer park cafe."
"yeah! let's go there. i haven't been there yet."
"yeah, i've heard it's good."
"it is good."

"i really should do something. get some exercise."
"lizzie was telling me all these things she does."
"like what? oh, she does that bike group, right? what else?"
"she was saying she's taking a web design class. she volunteers at a soup kitchen. and i think that was it, but you know, that's still a lot! i should do something like that."
"yeah. you should."
"i was thinking about taking a dance class or something."
"i've talked about doing a hip-hop class, but i never went through with it."
"yeah, that could be fun."
"i guess i'd be sending out the wrong message, though."
"maybe just a little bit."

"this place is cute. i like this place."
"yeah, it's nice, right?"
"yeah, you should hang out here more often."
"i know. i should."
"way to take advantage of seattle."

"where did you get those dvds?"
"i work for a salvage company, and there was this one building that had a trunk in an attic full of them. so we just helped ourselves."
"where's your girlfriend?"
"well, she didn't really feel like going out, and she doesn't like scary movies, so she's just at home."
"yeah, i knew you'd be up for some slasher films, so that's why i called you up."
"i'm always up for some slasher films."

"look at that moon!"
"yeah, it looks intense."