gonna get out.

see, the school was holding this little reception for the interim dean, to say good job and all that, and thanks for covering since the old dean peaced out last year. my coworker complained. girl was like, who holds an event on a friday? at four o'clock, no less? if they did it during the day, maybe, just maybe i'd stick around. but come on. four to six on a friday? are they kidding me? girl was going off. it was as though the email about the reception had personally insulted her. either way, she peaced out around two in the afternoon. the new girl was like, is she coming back? i said, no, and then we both laughed about it.

everyone in the office, though, headed out for the reception around four. i felt i had to as well, otherwise risk being labeled the office grump. don't be the office grump, a friend once told me. anyway, i knew there was gonna be wine and a decent spread, so i got up off my lazy ass that wasn't doing anything nohow except maybe watching some daily show. i trekked across the hall with the new girl, and she's all giggles and smiles all the time, like a stoner who isn't really a stoner. really fun to be around, actually. i told my friend this, and my friend said, have you tried flirting with her? and to that i said, hell no. she's engaged.

so we walk over to where they're serving wine. she gets white and i get red. i don't know why i'm such a red wine kind of guy. maybe because of blood and rose petals and all that. white wine just doesn't appeal to me. i heard you drink it with fish or something. i don't know. i'm no wine afficionado. anyway, we get our wines, and we're standing around, and i'm hoping to keep the new girl close to save me from inevitable office awkwardness. you know, i'm not a lawyer or a teacher, or even a contributing staff member, so i always feel out of place at these things. new girl gets pulled aside by her supervisor. have you met...? and then i'm stranded with a glass.

i make my way over to the full spread. they've got little fruit tarts and kebobs and some deep fried pork won ton balls something or other. i get a little bit of each, and then i'm stuck at this bar table with this older, shorter woman. i ask if she works here, and she says yeah, she's a visiting professor. i tell her what i do, and she just nods. before either of us can say anything else, another old woman shows up and she introduces herself. we shake hands, and then the two older women talk.

out of nowhere, this 2l shows up, and she's blonde and pretty, and i've talked to her before. she's got wide eyes with sharp pupils, like a cat's. other than that, i know nothing about her. she says hello, and then she sets her small plate on the table. i ask her about finals, and she says something, but a combination of her mouth being partially full and the background noise prevents me from actually hearing what she says. she asks if i am busy at work, and since i can't outright say, actually, i've just been watching a lot of daily show and drinking tons of water and getting up to pee just about every twenty minutes, not to be healthy or anything, but you know, just because it's something to do, i tell her instead that things are kind of slow right now. she asks if it gets busy during the summer. i tell her it might. it won't.

there's an awkward pause, and i have to fill it quickly. i ask questions about what she did last summer (she went to south africa), where she went for undergrad (uw), when she graduated ('07), will she apply for the post-graduate fellowship (she won't), and did she think school rankings were stupid and arbitrary (yes). she said she felt safe in south africa. and then she talked about the court systems in south africa and how there's never any evidence, and a lot of the time, they make decisions based solely on testimonials. she also said that police are paid off, and there are lots of people who get hit by cars. after all that, i said, and you felt safe there?

she was anxious to get out of there, and she said she had some paper or something to write. after another awkward pause, she said, okay, i'm gonna get out of here. i said goodbye, and then we parted ways. that was the part where somebody cooler, somebody more confident would have asked for a number, or would have said something along the lines of, we should get together sometime. but i'm me, and i have friends who tell me, you can't do that. they say, you have to get "vibes" before you act. whatever the hell "vibes" might be. also, if there are vibes, and you don't recognize it, and you don't act quickly enough, those vibes die. they also tell me, you can't rush it. and my personal favorite: if something would've happened between you two, it would've happened already. according to my friends, women are like the math section on the s.a.t. - what's the point in studying? if you don't know them by now, you never will.

whatever vibes are, i knew i wasn't getting them. i haven't gotten them in twenty-seven years, so why the hell would they suddenly show up now. i knew i'd be doing exactly this: writing more bullshit on a friday night.
lowest common denominator sound system.

i don't know what the hell this guy's problem is. first time i see him, i start up a little chat. i'm like, hey, how's it going. and he goes, good. and i ask how long he's been tutoring, and he's like, this is my first day. i say, okay. i ask what he does. he tells me he coaches basketball in redmond. i say, where? and he says, redmond. so he coaches in redmond, great. i have nothing else to say to that. but either way, i wait for him to ask about me. that's the way these things work, you know. that thing called conversation? i ask a question, and then you ask one. but no, nothing. dude just sits there and doesn't say shit else.

so today, i'm sitting down at table #2, not really aware that the tables are numbered, and then i see the big dude again, the one who doesn't know what a conversation is, and i say, hey, how's it going. and this great big fool just says, i think you're in my seat. i say, oh, and then i move over. i conclude that the man is socially retarded, and he has no business being a tutor in the program. since my student doesn't have much homework to do - just a weak little science sheet - i listen in on the great big fool trying to force multiplication down his poor student's throat.

okay, he tells the kid, lcm. what's lcm? lowest common...what? kid goes, i dunno. lowest common multiple. right. and what's a multiple? kid is silent, has his head down on the table. what's a multiple? i dunno, the kid says, times? right. times. so, four times five is...what? twenty. right! twenty. so, the lcm for four and five is twenty. now, what's the lcm for fifteen and twenty?

it goes on like this for a full hour. meanwhile, my student reads a book called heat, and i read stories by t.c. boyle. i can't pay much attention to the story, though, because i am too busy listening in on the awful tutoring session going on next to me. look, the great big fool says, you need to learn this! you need to focus here. what's lcd? lowest common what? the kid doesn't say anything. lowest common denominator. come on, you know this! it's a mental assault. it's painful to listen to. this great big white fool trying his hardest to get this kid to care, to get him to learn multiplication, and all this kid probably wants to do is to get high, eat a big burrito, take a giant shit, rub one out, and go to sleep.

finally, time is almost up, and so is the great big fool's patience. the kid goes away, no goodbye, no thank you, none of that. i want to tell the great big fool not to sweat it, to say, dude, who the hell cares? this kid's either gonna get multiplication or he's not. he's gonna go to college or he's not. you raising your blood pressure won't have a good goddamn thing to do with it. i want to say, i was like you once. yes, i cared once. and then i realized one day that i can't force anyone to listen to me. they can listen if they want, but it'll probably only make things worse. because let's face it, man. i'm full of shit, and so are you. you coach basketball for christ's sake, and i'm an administrator. when have we ever, in our lives, needed to know the lcm for fifteen and twenty?

my student and i played scrabble. i put down the word bone, and he started cracking up. what's so funny, i asked. nothing, he said. i've got a bad word, but i don't want to play it. just play it, i said. who cares? no, he said, i can't. it finally hit me. oh, i said, you have an r? he laughed some more. get your mind out of the gutter, i told him. i asked him what his favorite movie was. he said he didn't know, but there was a movie he really wanted to see. what is it, i asked him. i can't say it. it's bad, he said. kick ass? yeah, he said.

my second kid came in, and we worked on a short story. finally, something i could kind of help him with. the premise for his short was about a kid who goes home to find some stranger who claims he's the kid's real father. the stranger glows, and the kid runs away, but he has to go back because he forgets his backpack. then the kid accidentally hits his real father in the face. the story sounded stupid, but i had to give my student credit. i didn't come up with any stupid stories until i got to college. and then i majored in writing crappy stories, so who am i to talk?

i liked what we did, though. we were just chilling on a black sofa, and i'd help him out any time he seemed stuck. i told him to focus on what his characters wanted. i told him to look at people in the room with us, and imagine what they did once tutoring was over. but really, i was thinking, what did the great big fool do when he got home? i imagined him a bud light man, a real sports fan, recliner and tostito chips, the whole deal. he probably liked to sit in a white shirt, boxers and socks. he'd sit in his recliner while eating chips or peanuts, and he'd have his watch on. that's what men like him did, i was sure of it.

and me, would i ever have been able to guess what a man like myself did after tutoring?

he went home, and he wrote about his day, even though it was absolutely meaningless.
everything's gonna be fine fine fine.

he turns 22, and he's at a bar, and he's not even having that great a time, even though, you know, he should be. he's sitting there with a friend of a friend, and she's not the cutest girl, not the fittest girl, but she's a girl all the same, and that's what matters. he's trying to ditch the v-card, that worthless passport he's been clunking around all his life. when's it gonna happen, he thinks. he's in a rush to lose it. there are all these movies and people and songs that say if he doesn't lose it soon, he's gonna be in trouble.

so, he's sitting there, and what are they talking about? from what he's already figured out, and he hasn't figured out much, she's not interested in video games, sports, or even politics, so what else is there? he brings up the oil spill. can you believe that shit, he says. five thousands gallons into the gulf of mexico everyday. it's terrible, she says. think about all those dead fish! fuck the fish, he thinks. he's hungry. he wants sushi.

the girl's a bore, and she keeps looking at her phone. every so often, she pulls out her phone, and she sends a text. she doesn't apologize. she does it as if it's the most natural thing in the world to do, like fix her hair or twirl her red straw around her rum 'n coke. it annoys him, obviously, but he doesn't say anything. he just sits there. he could pull his phone out, too, but he knows better. he knows that good people aren't supposed to do things like that. because it would make them feel the way he feels now.

he's just started college, and he wants to be a short fiction writer. the girl, his age, is already finishing college, so she has that over him. she even asked, when they first met, what his status was, and when he told her, she was just like, oh. and then she stated that she was in her last semester, about to take finals in a few weeks. and to that, he also responded, oh. he offered to buy her another rum 'n coke, just to be nice, but mostly to have the chance to get away from her and her faux pas. she took him up on the offer.

he stood at the bar and waited for the girl with dyed-red hair and tattoos to take his order. well, here i am, he thought. i am twenty-two and i am on a non-date with a non-friend. what the hell happened to me? where are my friends and the people who i thought cared about me, and why am i always the one to be left behind? the other people around him were no help. they were all mustaches and grins, sparkling eyes behind dark-rimmed glasses. they were all light beers, hearty laughs and pats on the back. they were girls with dark ponytails and glitter around the eyes, the lady-like stance with one arm folded across the chest while the other hand's holding the plastic cup.

the dj or jukebox starts playing "one hand in my pocket" and it's supposed to be ironic or hip or something. he doesn't want to be here anymore. he doesn't want to order this rum 'n coke for this girl, and he doesn't even want another beer really. he doesn't want to be at home, either, just blankly staring at the wall, or else watching a soldier respawn on his pc. if he could be doing anything, anything at all, he'd probably just want to sit down at some sushi bar, unleash his hunger on a magnificent ball of white rice, seaweed, and soft shell crab legs. the spider roll.

he can't tell what sucks more: birthdays when he was a child, and surrounded by other children who pretended to care about him, or birthdays now, where he's surrounded by fools who can't even fake it.
white monkey buddhism.

guy was in like sixth or seventh grade, and he couldn't write for shit. he'd only been in the country four or five years, and i asked where he was from. ethiopia, he said. his sentences sucked ass. kid wrote shit like, if good for student to play all the tim to eat so the code be halthy. and meanwhile i was thinking like, damn, dude, you really need to learn some motherfucking english. but he didn't work with me, of course. instead, he spent his time looking around the room, at his other buddies who were all acting a fool. didn't matter if i helped him or not. look, do you wanna do this right now, i asked. he shook his head. alright then, fuck it.

i moved onto the next kid, another loud ass seventh grader. kid was trying to write a poem on buddhism and manumahan, or somebody, some white monkey from classic indian literature. he had to write a ghanza or ghanzal or something, some stupid poem where each line had to consist of ten syllables, and the last word of each couplet had to be the word buddhism. why buddhism? because that's what the damn kid picked. the little shit was like, here, read this, and tell me how to write the poem. i was like, trippin', bitch. i ain't reading shit. this is your assignment, so write it your damn self, you lazy shit.

the kid was taking hella days to just write a single line. instead, he'd get distracted and talk to his equally lazy friend. the friend would laugh and laugh at whatever this kid said, and then he'd tell the kid, dude, you're hella retarded. and as an educated adult, i knew i was supposed to intervene, tell him that the word retarded was inappropriate, not politically correct, downright offensive and all that, but simply put, there was no other way to describe his behavior. the kid was being hella retarded.

the kid stopped what he was doing, and he asked me if i thought weed should be legalized. absolutely, i said. his eyes grew big. why? hardly articulate, i told him how making drugs illegal didn't matter, that people were still going to do drugs, illegal or not, and that legalizing them would probably reduce violence, especially at the mexico-u.s. border, and so many young black and hispanic men wouldn't have to go to jail for so long for such trivial offenses. but i didn't even get all that out. it was more like, less violence, less people incarcerated. what did it matter what i thought, anyway? villains are always going to make that dollar somehow.

at one point, i was tired of that shit, tired of looking at these two boys who obviously didn't want to do their homework. do you ever ask what the point of it is, i asked. they looked up at me. the point of what? doing your homework, going to school. yeah, the kid said, we have to. it's required by law! it's because of no child left behind. do you know what no child left behind actually means, i asked. yeah, he said, and then he looked at me like i was retarded, it means no child left behind! you're a dumbass, his friend told him.

i told them what i knew about no child left behind. that it went into effect under the bush administration, and from what i had read and heard (mostly from disgruntled public school teachers) is that it took money away from schools that were under-performing. so, poor schools with poor children would submit poor standardized test scores, and with no child left behind, they'd manage to get even poorer, and probably even be forced to close. and that drives teachers away to find schools that have funding because, you know, people actually like getting paid! imagine that. but the kids didn't care what i had to say, obviously. they just wanted to finish their stupid homework so they could go home and look at internet porn.

i'm a bad tutor, and i should probably stop going. i think it's kind of funny, though. if i had met someone as disillusioned and hopeless as i am when i was a high school freshman, maybe it would've made me relax a little more. they've probably got their parents, teachers, school administration, pastors, neighbors, and everyone else shoving college down their throats, stressing their shit out, telling them they aren't trying hard enough. because that's the way people are in this country. if you're not stressed out, if you're not pushing yourself hard enough, if you don't have a five-year plan, if you don't get on track, you'll never be happy!

sure, i want these kids to succeed. that's why i go, isn't it? but when i leave, and i've left kids before, i don't know what's going to become of them. they might go onto harvard, they might become crackheads, or they might just become boring and average. in the meantime all i can do is just be real - at least, as real as i can be - with them.
i don't wanna be friends.

my cousin rich bitch used to live with his dad in an apartment complex off watt ave. i didn't go there much, but when i did, i remember my mom always laughing about how there was nothing in the fridge except for coca-cola. rich bitch and his dad must've liked coke a whole lot because they'd even have the coke candies sitting around. it was like that stuff the gummy bear company made, and it didn't even really taste like coke. tasted like shit, if you ask me.

for a while, if i remember correctly, my other cousin francis also lived there in that apartment complex with his parents. francis and rich bitch were about the same age, so naturally, it was expected they would become friends. they'd hang out sometimes, play basketball or whatever, and i'd watch television, usually batman - the old school live-action one, not the cartoon - by myself. sometimes, my uncle reb, rich bitch's dad, or my uncle albert, francis' dad, would take us three boys out to go do something they thought would entertain us.

this one time, they took us to the wooz. the wooz was this dumb place across i-5 from nut tree, and it was a place that had all these mazes. rich bitch and francis paired up, and my uncle albert and i paired up. my uncle albert and i walked through a maze for like five minutes, reached a dead end, and then we gave up and got some lemonades. rich bitch and francis, though, were gone for a long time. they were gone probably like a good half hour to a full one. when they got back, they each had a certificate of some kind. they had successfully finished a couple of mazes. we cheated, rich bitch said, and francis was smiling. rich bitch then went on to explain that the mazes got more difficult once you leveled up, and that's when the dead ends went down to the floor, making it impossible for them to crawl underneath them. i remember being mad at my uncle albert for not being smart enough to help me cheat in the beginning mazes.

so that was how it went. one uncle would take the kids out for an afternoon, and we kids took what we could get. we'd drink cokes, eat at dairy queen, go see a movie like back to the future 3. anyway, this one time, the two boys were over at my house, and again, i was watching batman. i kept watching the stupid show because they'd flash that number on the screen, and you'd call it, and if you were the right caller, you'd win the bat book, or whatever the hell it was. i'd call and call, but not once did i ever even get through. always a busy signal. anyway, i was waiting for that stupid number to show up, when all of a sudden, i heard francis scream.

i got up off my parents' bed to see what the ruckus was. i only found rich in the hallway looking dumbfounded. francis was nowhere to be seen. i think he ran out the house. i asked rich bitch what happened, but he refused to talk about it. later, after it had all blown over, rich bitch told me that he told francis that he didn't want to be his friend anymore. apparently, when he said this, francis jumped up in the air and screamed. rich bitch mocked him, said he looked like michael jordan when he jumped. after francis went home, i swear rich bitch kept repeating the scene for the rest of the day. he'd say, i don't wanna be friends anymore, and then he'd go aaaaaaaa! and even my dad found it funny, my dad laughed and laughed, but he said to keep it down whenever my mom was around because, after all, that was her family.

and that was that. no more wooz or the three amigos ever hanging out again. and i never did get that bat book.
don't get sentimental.

there was this kid named benson, and he wasn't a bully. he was a tall lean kid with freckles, and he was kind of a jock, but not really, and he got along with the bullies, but for one reason another, he wasn't actually a bully himself. i think he played baseball. we only ever had one class together, mr. hastie's p.e. class, and it was the fall of 1997, and my life had been ruined by ok computer, because my thinking was, well, this has been made, so there is nothing left to do in the world.

whenever i listen to the song "let down" now, it reminds me of p.e. class ending, and i am walking with wet boxer shorts to my global studies class. i am walking through the grass, and there's benson ahead of me with the cooler kids, the ones who brag about drugs, parties, and girls, and i hear thom yorke croon something that sounds like "ben-semental flowing," but i know that's not what he's saying. he says, "don't get sentimental" and "falling, bouncing back," but he doesn't ever say "ben-semental" because that is not even a real word.

i liked benson because he was athletic, and he didn't make my life hell. he seemed like a good enough kid, and even our p.e. teacher seemed to favor him. he is the kind of guy that, had it been war-time, probably would've been one of the first to be sent off to vietnam, and he would've easily been a leader. really, i didn't know shit about him, but if i had to be in an awful platoon, had been forced to serve, i would've wished that he would've been there to see me through it. of that much i am sure. but then again, who knows? he could've been a real asshole.

and then there was tony, who was the exact opposite of benson. tony was the kind of kid, who, if we were still in vietnam, would've screwed around too much and would have gotten all of us killed. he was the kind of guy who cracked just one too many dick and fart jokes that you just had to question what the hell was really going on in this kid's head. once, our group was doing a lap around the football field, and tony just kept mooning people, and sometimes, he'd even take it all out, and everyone got to see how tony's penis and balls flapped around as he ran. on senior retreat, he woke up some boys to what was then known as "steak and potatoes," also known as a "reverse mangina," penis and balls tucked between his thighs, ass and genitalia dangling right in front of another kid's face.

we were in english class, and we were using the computer one day. tony asked me if i knew the answer to something, maybe it was the previous night's homework, something or other, and i didn't know the answer. after i said i didn't know, he ignored me completely. i even tried to ask him a follow-up question, but he just acted like i didn't even say anything. maybe he didn't hear me. my confidence was so low that i mumbled a lot in those days, so maybe he just didn't hear me. still, it was a bummer being ignored like that. i didn't want steak and potatoes, but i at least wanted to be acknowledged.

thinking about those times, i don't know how i ever made it through the shit. sometimes, i think about those miserable mornings i spent cutting across the jesuit lawn, and i know that i'm going to have to carry that hostility, paranoia and isolation with me for the rest of my life.

some experiences can just straight up ruin you, make you go ben-semental.
the lusty lady.

it was around eleven o'clock, and there was nothing left for a couple of single guys to do in a big city. sure, we could strike out somewhere else, but who wanted to waste time doing that? i thought about the chris rock skit, the one where he talks about how there's always that one guy in a group of guys who, when they're at a club, will strike out once, and then say, man, these girls are stuck up! let's go to a strip club.

let's go to the lusty lady, my friend said. it has been well over a year since i'd seen actual boobs not on a television screen, so i was on board with his suggestion. plus, i heard that the lusty lady was closing, so i wanted to see what it was all about before it was gone for good. dude, i'm so excited for this, i said. my friend said to calm the hell down, that it wasn't what i was expecting. it's not a strip club, he said. he continued, you go in, you put some quarters in, a screen goes up, and then they're looking at you, and it's awkward. and i think dudes jack off in the stalls, he said. still though, i thought, boobs.

my friend and i went into the lusty lady, and i took out my i.d., but the clerk didn't even bother looking at it. he was a black guy, and he told us there was another change machine inside. i got $5 worth of quarters, and then i went into a stall. i popped a quarter in, and the screen went up, just as i had expected. there were two white girls and a black girl, fully nude in a small pink room with mirrors. some of the stalls had two-way mirrors, so i could sometimes see myself in the mirror in the pink room.

the girls danced a little bit, shook their asses, and they had piercings on their nipples and vaginas, and they had tattoos. all kinds of shit went through my head. boobs. this is somebody's daughter. this is fucking sad. god, this is awesome. i'm going to hell. why is this peep booth so reminiscent of a church confessional? remember when i was plugging in quarters to play games at circus circus or at the arcade? what the fuck happened to those days? is this all that life is going to be? plugging in quarters for instant gratification? god, i'm depressed. holy shit, she has some big areolas.

i watched the girl with short hair and big boobs dance for a long time. she had a tattoo of a rose or something on her belly, and she wore long striped socks. she got up real close to the window, and for a little while, she just sat there. i wondered what she was thinking. did she like doing this? most women would say no, a lot of guys would say maybe, but who knew what she really thought of her life and what was really going on. only thing i could think about was how i missed being close to someone, and the terrible symbolism of always having a one-way mirror in front of me. men like myself were willing to pay for things like this, and a lot of women had no other option but to subject themselves to it. that's just the way it went.

i told my friend that the ten dollar booth was open, and did he want to go in? yeah, i wanna do it, he said. i stood outside the stall, and i listened to him talk to the stripper, but i couldn't hear what she was saying. he wore headphones. i'm good, he said, how are you? this is my first time here. i heard you guys are closing, that sucks. whatever you wanna do. wow. jesus. you really have a beautiful body. this is the best friday night ever! outside the stall, i was cracking up. people walked past, giving me strange looks, and i felt so immature. hell, i am immature, so what did it even matter.

there was a guy with a mop going from stall to stall, and i knew i was supposed to disgusted, but i wasn't, not really. probably because i'd already reached the point of disgust a long time ago.
see how easy it is to lie.

we went to al's in wallingford. friday night, so you go to a bar, you know, because who knows what might happen? my friend ordered pitcher after pitcher of rainier, and i sat there watching pan's labyrinth on a flat screen monitor. there were other fools there, white kids mostly, probably uw students. they were drinking beer, too, celebrating some guy's birthday, i think. i think they said happy birthday to someone at some point, but i could be wrong. my friends played pool, and i played some retro arcade game. first space invaders and then something that was like pong but more difficult. 80s games are a challenge.

i sat down and drank. there were girls at the bar, but what was i gonna say to them? i had to figure out my life first, and who knows when that would be. and anyway, how was i gonna compare to the abercrombie lacrosse team flooding the place? at the end of the bar, there was an older man, probably in his 40s, maybe even 50s, and he was just drinking by himself. that's my future, i thought. a little while ago, i read on cnn that 17,000 men had expressed interest in buying a $6,000 sex doll. things weren't looking so good.

i played two games of pool, won one, lost one. i begrudged my friend for being better at everything than i am - guitar, singing, basketball, dealing with life's disappointments, and now, pool. the weather was shit, and i was sick of being in seattle, even though i had just told another friend off about how she couldn't blame seattle for her lack of a social life. we were chatting online, and she just went off on it, and i couldn't not say something, so i did. what the hell did she want anyway?

she said that she just wanted to have people who cared about her. i immediately thought about what i've been thinking and writing a lot about recently, and that is the fact that nobody cares about us. we're here for a short while, and then we're not, and hardly anyone will even know the difference. she was on a tear, though, in a mood, and so i didn't tell her that, obviously. besides, it's not original, nor is it productive to think about. she said that she wanted big groups at dinner, parties, traveling, you know, things that friends do with each other! i told her that it was probably a girl's desire because most guys i know think those kinds of things are retarded.

she called me out on it. she said that not having any sort of real social life was a problem of mine, and that i could blame it on seattle, too, if i wanted. i thought about that wine party i went to recently, the one where i didn't know anybody and i felt uncomfortable and awkward the whole time. i guess that's what white professionals with friends do. and then i thought about my nieces, nephews and cousins in the philippines, and how they dance and sing and do lots of crazy shit together.

none of my friends do that. instead, we go to a bar, and we talk about things we've already talked about to death. so there we were, talking about things we've already discussed before, and then i got up, and i said, let's go smoke a cigarette. you wanna smoke a cigarette with me, my friend said. and i said, yeah. we went outside and we smoked a cigarette in the cold. some girls walked by, and two of them stopped to have a smoke, too. that girl is beautiful, my friend said. and then she turned around. nevermind, he said.

an old man showed up, and he was smoking a cigarette, too. he commented on the girl who was wearing a foot cast. how'd you break it, he said. she said, playing tackle football. no, really, he said. she said, really, it was tackle football. this is some shameful shit, my friend said. i stood there, just laughing at the scene unfolding before me, laughing like wiz khalifa's donkey laugh, wishing i was high so it could be even funnier. this is just sad, my friend said. the old man just kept going off, obviously hoping to score. just fucking sad, my friend repeated.

the girls went inside, and the old man said he loved girls like that, preferably ones who could tackle him. how old are you, the old man asked my friend. twenty-two, my friend said. my friend asked the old man how old he was. the old man said, like two-hundred ninety-eight and a half. for some reason, i found his response really stupid. so stupid, in fact, that it made me question the existence of god, as though i haven't been questioning already. my friend told the old man that he was a poly-sci major at the uw. the old man went inside. see how easy it is to lie, my friend said to me.

we walked over to dick's, and my friend bought me two dick's specials. i stood there, looking at the dick's sign, and the dark night with clouds splattered everywhere. no one cares about us, and no one will even know we were here.
don't worry about it.

today, i showed up late to tutoring because the light rail was late. it took longer than usual, and i didn't know what the deal was. anyway, i showed up to the boys and girls club, and the director, jason, told me i'd be working with daniel. i apologized for being late. no worries, he said. these things happen. i sat down next to daniel, and daniel had no homework. i asked if he wanted to play a game. he said, connect four.

i've never actually played connect four. i remember it being available to us at st. ignatius, but on rainy days, it was the first game people would grab, so i trained myself to not want to play it. it looked like a boring game, anyway. i mean, you drop some chips in a little slot and try to get four in a row? what the hell's the point of that? it's just an oversized tic-tac-toe, a game that people without any imagination play. i beat daniel four times in a row.

around 6, jason told everyone to go into the next room for a surprise. i sat in the back and the sun shone on my face. jason asked everyone what today was, and most of the kids knew it was earth day. there was another volunteer coordinator, rebecca, who was there, and she told everyone that in addition to earth day, it was also volunteer appreciation week. that's why they had all those doughnuts and chips and salsa for us.

my next kid was addis, the one i couldn't actually help last time because he was doing a math exercise in slopes, and i hadn't done slopes in well over fifteen years. this time he had spanish homework, and i was equally helpless. he asked me if i knew spanish, and i had to admit i never studied it. the thing about addis is that he doesn't seem to mind that i don't know anything. i think that's why i like him. if i were a kid, and my tutor didn't know shit, i'd probably sigh or ask for another tutor or at least look disappointed, but addis doesn't give me any of that. he just says, don't worry about it, as if he already knows the futility of slopes and building a spanish vocabulary.

while he looked up words in the dictionary, i looked around the room. there was another girl helping a student with math, and another male tutor was helping gutu with some writing assignment on the computer. outside, the sun was shining, a rare sight for an april day in seattle. i had visions of leading everyone out the door and into the streets where we'd have an improvised parade, jumping and dancing, screaming at the top of our lungs. it's good to be alive, isn't it? so why are we doing our homework?

why do we busy ourselves with papers that have no consequence?

around five o'clock in the evening, i pack it all up. i throw my no-show socks, my water bottle, shorts and shirt into my green onitsuka tiger bag, one that i purchased from some australian website. i put on my running shoes, my nike lunar glides, and i tie knots, tight, but not too tight. i listen to songs on my iphone, but they're just walking songs. they're getting ready to run my legs off songs. today, it was the bird and the bee doing hall and oates covers.

when i reach the connolly center, i have to pull out my work i.d. so that the boy or girl working behind the desk can swipe it, and i can walk through the turnstile. usually, there is a game on in the lobby, and sometimes, there are students sitting there and talking. i go into the men's room closest to the weight room, and i change into my gym clothes. sometimes, it is strange stripping down to my boxers, especially if there is another person there also changing, but i have gotten over that by now.

i go to the fountain to fill up my water bottle. afterward, i place my bag, now full with my work clothes, on top of the small red lockers. there are always people in the gym. there are people rolling around on mats, doing sit ups and ball exercises, and there are guys lifting weights and curling. i head straight to the treadmills. if all the treadmills are taken, i wait in line. if i have to wait in line, i pull out my iphone to change the songs, to see if anybody is online to chat with. because, well, forget about talking to people in real life!

finally, a treadmill will become free, and i will wait for the boy or girl to wipe it down with a disposable wipe. if the person doesn't wipe it down, i think he is a slob, but i still use the machine regardless, and i don't even bother wiping it down before i use it, either. i set my klean kanteen on the floor because if i put it in the designated spot built into the treadmill, it rattles around, and i'm afraid that i'm making too much of a ruckus. it's better to just set it on the ground. i choose a good song to run to, usually something dramatic like explosions in the sky, and then i set my iphone in a little slot because i haven't bought an armband yet.

i begin walking at 3.5 mph. when the song builds, i up the speed to 7.5 mph and then i run until i am out of breath, or when my shins begin to hurt. i can't look down at my feet, otherwise i will get dizzy. sometimes, i try to look at the flat screens above the treadmills, but then i'm afraid i will lose my balance, fall flat on my ass and embarrass myself, so i can't look for very long. sometimes, i see campbell brown on cnn, and she is very nice to look at. most of the time, there are other girls in the gym who are nice to look at, but it is common courtesy to not look at them for very long, either.

during the run, i try to keep my eyes focused on the brand written across the front of the machine. it's funny, i look at it for so long, but i can't even tell you what the name is. maybe it's something like timeline or timelife. i try to focus on that thing, and sometimes i'm in the zone. i'm unaware of what my body is doing. it's a strange thing, to just focus on one thing and forget that i am alive, in a gym, running on a machine, while there's my music and the gym's music all around me, and local news reports and basketball games and reality shows going off all around me. sometimes, i can just stare at that logo and i can really lose myself.

depending on how i'm feeling that day, i snap out of the trance i'm in, and i have to slow it down, otherwise i'll surely pass out or get nauseated. i bring it back down to 3.5 mph and then i find another song to listen to. most of the time i find myself running next to other people, and i wonder if they are trying to keep up with me, or if i am trying to keep up with them. i feel successful when i am running and the person next to me is walking. and then i feel like i'm not keeping up when the situation is reversed. it shouldn't matter, but since i have nothing else to think about, that is what i think about. after 30 minutes or so of this nonsense (again, depending on how i'm feeling that particular day), i hop off and i get a disinfectant wipe and wipe down the parts of the machine i have touched.

i get on the bike next. i try to bike for 30 minutes. it's easier to watch television when riding the bike, so i do that. i select cardio for the bike workout, and then it asks me to enter my age. i type in 27, and then i feel old, aware that most everyone around me, mainly undergrads, must be 22 or younger. the cardio workout requires me to hold the handles on either side of the bike, so i do just that. numbers in red show me my heart rate, the distance i have biked, my speed, and how much time has elapsed. i find it incredible that i have no idea how this machine works, yet i trust it to give me a decent workout. ten minutes or so into my routine, and sweat begins to form on my arms. the first time i noticed it, it was incredible. i had never before seen beads of sweat form like that on my forearms.

i watch the clock, too, because i don't want to miss my bus. if i'm feeling lazy, i'll be out of there in time to catch the 6:09 bus. if i'm not lazy, then it's 6:39. i wipe down the bike when i'm finished, and then i grab my bag and get out of there. the best feeling is leaving the gym, feeling tired, and then taking in the cool outside air. my sweat dries up, i catch my bus, and i go home, feeling like i have done something good, something worthwhile.
actually in the trenches.

i met with my old english professor today. i'd felt bad for not having seen her for over a year now, despite the fact that she works just two buildings over. i went in there, and i knocked on the door. she said she just had to find one last thing, and she sat at her computer while i sat on her chair, silent. i looked around at her books. a lot of jane austen, a lot of african-american novels. her office was very dark and victorian.

when she had finally found what she was looking for, she turned to face me. she said, it's too bad about the whole grad school thing. but you know, you can use that as leverage. what do you mean, i inquired. she said, well, you could apply to other schools and say that while you've been accepted to wherever you've been accepted to, you're holding out to explore other options. she said, don't say, oh, they didn't give me any money, so i'm applying elsewhere. use rhetoric. that's how the dominant culture, the people in power work. they use rhetoric all the time to get what they want.

she had such fucking high hopes for me, and it made me hopeful for a second. here she was talking about applying again to other schools, better schools, and all this time i had been thinking about how i'd probably just pack it all up, move back in with my parents, get a job at barnes & noble (if i was lucky) and wait to die. she made it sound like i could be somebody, that i, too, might one day have a tenure-track position, a dark office cluttered with books and ironic action figures depicting dead authors. that i might actually have a place, a career in the elite business of academia.

use rhetoric, she repeated. play the race card if you have to, she said. i do it sometimes, and it's worked well for me, she said. you know me, she said, i always get what i want, and i've used rhetoric my whole life to get me where i am today. she was successful, i thought, her being the only african-american tenured faculty in the entire english department. maybe this whole rhetoric thing was no joke. she went on to talk about t.c. boyle, o.j. simpson's son, stepin fetchit, usc, dave chappelle, maya angelou, and other black folk. i could do nothing but sit there and nod, say, uh-huh and right.

she told me about how i could even get an undergrad to help me with my grad school application. she said, look at dr. c--, she has her student interns research all these literary journals and see where her work might have the best chance of getting published. her students do the research, proofread her poetry, heck, they even lick the envelopes, stamp 'em, and send 'em off! you know, it's a daunting task. you work full-time. you don't have time to research all these different schools, all these faculty and different schools, and publishers. get someone to do that stuff for you!

i can do that? i was dumbfounded. all of a sudden, it made sense. i thought back to literary journals like tin house, glimmer train, other voices, and i always wondered about all those faculty members from various universities who got their work published in those issues. they probably had their students do a majority of the work for them. how else was it possible? there simply aren't enough hours in the day. sure, she said, you can do that. anyone can. sometimes we get people not even affiliated with the university and they ask if an undergrad can help with them with a project.

it's good experience for our undergrads, too, she continued. while they help you out, they get the experience of knowing what it's like to apply to graduate school, getting a resume and cover letter together, how to research the best schools to apply to, all that stuff. yeah, i said, i wish that had been available to me as an undergrad. she continued: and you'd actually be a better person to talk for an english major than someone like me, you know. because you're actually in the trenches, applying now, as opposed to when i applied way back when to get my masters. a lot has changed since then.

she showed me her new dog, and then we parted ways. i walked away feeling like yes, i am in the trenches.
a change from our office.

i was walking with my two coworkers to the coffee shop. i knew i'd have nothing to contribute to the meeting, but i went anyway with the promise of a free tea and cookie. the two of them talked about some conference or something, and i just kept quiet. it was a little windy, but not cold. it had been really nice out earlier, and students were out sunbathing in the quad. i was about a head taller than each of them, and i felt strange walking among two older, shorter women. that's just the nature of the business, though.

we went into the coffee shop, stumptown, and i ordered a chai and a chocolate chip cookie with some other ingredient. the clerk was movie star-gorgeous with pink hair and tattoos. could've been a suicide girl. we all ordered the same cookie. we sat down and they started talking about mad men. i went into my cookie, and i wished my chai was sweeter. we then talked about a social justice proposal, and that it was a bad idea to make volunteering mandatory at our school, especially for staff. i didn't understand most of the proposal, to be honest. it had stuff about how social justice is neither progressive nor conservative, and that it takes place at the local, national, and global levels. huh?

after some more talk about the proposal and television shows, we went to a mother's place across the street so my boss could get her baby. we went into the nursery, and it was a weird sight. all these random ass infants just rolling around, crying, playing with blocks. all those kids there because their parents gotta work. there was an asian lady bottle feeding a baby. two younger women were playing with the infants. a whole place of new life. what a change from our office, my coworker remarked. my boss put a sweater on her baby. can i hold her, i said.

i picked her up. i only recently learned how to hold a child, as my older cousin now has two kids. i was in the grocery store, and i was curious about holding a kid. forget about changing diapers or buckling up a car seat. i had to start with the basics. my younger cousin showed me how. here, he said, just make her sit on your forearm like that. i did it, and i was amazed at holding a human being the way i did, and i thought about a bird perched on a pirate's shoulder.

haha, my coworker said, i wish i had my camera right now. you're just walking down the street holding a baby, she said. the baby's face was all splotchy and she had some crumbs next to her ear. she had a bald spot on the back of her head, but her eyes were big and dark. we got to the law school and there was this law professor outside the entrance. professor put her arms up at the sight of the baby. isn't life wonderful, she said.

and at the time, even though i didn't think it was, i thought that maybe, just maybe, it could be.
come in on saturday.

motherfucking saturday and i had to be at work. woke up hella early, like 6 and shit, and the sun wasn't even up. why i had to be there? our department was hiring for a fellowship, and boss needed someone there to put up signs. really. signs. and the thing of it was, i had already put the signs up the night before, friday, before i left. so there was no reason. but i accepted coming in anyway so that i could not use up all the vacation time i spent in sac.

she was being hella crazy about it, too. like, when she saw the classroom where the interviews were going to be held, she flipped out because we couldn't move the tables. she was all, like, how can we arrange it so that it doesn't seem so oppressive in here? and i was like, i dunno. maybe we can move one or two and make a small square of tables. and she was like, good idea. and i was like, okay, good thing i came in on a saturday to help with this terribly important situation.

black girl from bon appetit came in to set up snacks. i could tell she was listening to ke$ha's "tik tok" because i heard "dj blow my speakers up" blasting on her headphones. i was gonna be like, ke$ha, huh? but i decided against it. the garbage cans in the room were all full, and boss asked black girl to empty them. black girl was like, nu uh, we don't touch that. and i was like, damn, how hard is it to empty some fucking trash cans? i removed the cans myself and replaced them with empty ones from our office.

the whole morning, i did nothing else but look at reddit. so, you know, same as any other day. it was rainy out and i had a sounders game to look forward to at noon. friend of mine got free sounders tickets, so she was like, wanna go? and i was like, yeah, why the hell not. i got hungry around 10:30 and i went to starbucks. a blonde girl who looked familiar was coming up the stairs, and we looked right at each other. she didn't say shit or even smile though, so neither did i. i knew her, though. part of me knew she was one of the applicants and it was gonna be awkward when we were both sitting alone in the office together on account of me not saying anything to her as she came up the stairs.

i went to starbucks, hoping for a yogurt, but then i was like, a yogurt isn't gonna fill this hunger i'm having. so i went to ginger lime, but those fuckers didn't open until 11. when i went back to starbucks, a line had formed, so by then, i was just like, fuck it. starve. thought about what i was gonna say to megan, the applicant i didn't say hello to on the stairs. what was there to say? back in the office, she said, hey i'm megan, i'm a little early. and i was like, yeah, i saw you coming up the stairs but i...didn't...notice. yeah, i said that. just like that, too. i'm a fucking idiot.

around 11:05 megan started to worry since her interview was at 11:00. she said, should i just go upstairs and wait? and i said, no, they'll call me when they're ready for you. and she said, okay, sorry for being so anxious! and i was like, no, don't worry about it. everybody all anxious about everything. boss with her unmovable tables, applicants with interviews, my cousin trying to figure out whether or not he can pull off a long-sleeved shirt underneath a short-sleeved plaid button-down. how about we just do nothing instead and forget about it?

took the 49 down to nordstrom, then lightrail to qwest stadium. hadn't been there since june 2005, graduation. friend was like, we have to take the elevator to the club level. we got to the club level and game was already in progress. was still hella hungry, so i went and got some food. $27.50 for two beers, bad nachos, and an even worse hot dog. as the clerk poured the $8.50 haywire in the plastic cup, i immediately thought about how i was gonna blog about it with some profound message about where we are as a society when citizens can justifiably spend $8.50 on a beer. but i have nothing to say on the matter now.

neither team scored for the first 90 minutes. it was boring as shit, and i hoped a fight would break out. friend said soccer can't be considered a real sport since other countries are so much better at it than we are. finally, the sounders scored and then it was all over. there were 35,000 fans, and i couldn't believe so many people were spending their saturday at qwest field. 35,000 fools and none of us matters and we're going to die and there's no god and no afterlife, and we'll have spent our saturdays drinking overpriced beer at a sporting event that nobody really cares about where some guy kicks a ball past another guy and it's caught by a net. i wanted the passion found in other places like that one country where they killed the player who accidentally scored on his own team. now there's a sport. there's living.

friend and i parted ways, and it was weird, as it always is. every time we get together, it's like we've just met each other for the first time. i got on the lightrail, went home and took a nap. i woke up, and with another friend, went to a bar called bleachers, had a pizza at olympia pizza, went home and watched religulous. woke up today and thought again about how i should quit my job even though i don't have any other plans because who cares about retirement and resumes, saving and spending, putting up signs and printing stuff out, pretending like i have a job that matters, that i matter, that this is better than nothing, that the economy is bad, that i shouldn't take risks.

sometimes, like kevin garnett, you just have to get in a bitch's face and hit that bitch even though it's only game one. your team's gonna win anyway, and there's only 40 seconds left on the clock, and really, who gives a fuck even if you lose?
taylor gang or die.

i don't feel like doing any work today, so i'm not gonna. it's friday anyway, so who the hell cares. yesterday, i skipped out on tutoring because i really needed a nap. my coworker is looking at blogs and folding cranes. she bought origami from a paper store because she wants to have a hobby at her desk, inspired by lester freamon on the wire. that's how boring our jobs are. making paper cranes makes her day go by faster. this morning, there were bagels and fruit available outside of c5. that was pretty good.

when i was in sac, i found a chapbook from my poetry class. this girl named mary had written a poem about her dad taking a piss and then slipping on some rocks. from what she wrote, it sounded like he fucking died, and that she's always felt like it was her fault. it was a good poem, though. even i knew that much. our poetry teacher took a line from her poem and used it as the title. the line he took was that part is good.

i went to the dentist yesterday to get a cavity filled. after the shot of novocaine, his assistant said, half your bottom lip should feel numb. i told her it did. the dentist said, this is gonna be real quick, the cavity isn't that deep. and it took him like five minutes. the receptionist charged me $56. last time, i think it was her, she offered me a toy from the toy box. this time, she didn't say shit. maybe because it was too early and she didn't wanna have to chit chat.

i read a little bit of awareness again. i always pick that shit up, read a little bit, and then i put that shit away. tony demello said that we're never really in love. the only thing we're ever really in "love" with is our idea of a person. and when that person lets us down, we never say, i had such lousy judgment! instead, we say, how could you have let me down like that? i told my friend about this, since she is in love, and she didn't believe it. she said, he's just a dumb dead jesuit priest who's never been in love!

i started working on a letter to this girl i went to college with, since she wrote me one. i ain't had shit to say, though. i got nothing on my mind these days. feel like lighting a fatty and getting a bucket of chicken, wash it down with a big gulp. i told my coworker this, and she said, that sounds like a really great way to spend a thursday night! and i was just like, hella. what else you gonna do, you know? try to get a situation, study for some fucking tests? get a better-paying job with more responsibility? what a bunch of bullshit.

they're seriously paying us to sit here. it's like grade school all over again. but instead of sitting still for that report card, that good citizenship, we're sitting, waiting on that paycheck. how ridiculous is life.
brings us back to doe.

the doorbell rang, and my uncle showed up with his wife and his wife's kid. they showed up because his wife's kid wanted to buy my dad's car, a 1994 silver camry. the kid runs his own limo business in l.a., and he's gonna drive the camry down to l.a. he bought the car for $1,800, and the kid is going to pay my dad in installments, $200 a month. that's how these types of things go, i suppose.

i helped my cousin move into her new house. we had to move a refrigerator, and i wasn't happy about that. luckily, her mom's boyfriend knew how to strap a belt around the refrigerator and load it up onto a dolly. i stood there, helpless, as i watched him run the strap through the fridge's handle, and he used a clamp of some sort to tighten the strap. he said that he used to do this kind of stuff in the air force. i thought about my friend in seattle who likes a guy in the navy. and then i thought about how i will never actually be a man. only a failed writer.

i played with my cousin's two kids. sometimes, i would watch them and wonder what they are thinking. are they amazed by everything they see? are they going to remember this, moving into a new house, all the new smells and how it feels to wake up in a new bedroom? will they remember their old place, the apartment, walking up the stairs, and all the wood chips in the apartment complex? are they thinking that they just want to be happy? that they just want jelly beans and good television and mushrooms wrapped in bacon? and that they want to avoid pain, like getting their fingers smashed, or else being ignored?

my other cousin and i played music. i couldn't remember how to play most of our songs. i tried playing without a guitar pick, and it didn't sound so good. it was fun for a bit, but it was also good knowing that i wasn't a dreamer anymore. that i'm no longer an eighteen year old with visions of doing anything real with my music. i can't stand people who refuse to grow up and be ordinary. i want to fit in, be like everyone else. i bought some shirts and sweaters from the banana republic factory outlet.

i went to chick-fil-a with yet another cousin (yeah, lots of cousins), and we ordered up a feast. chicken sandwiches, nuggets, waffle fries, dipping sauces, icedreams, the works. he wanted to ask one of the workers for her number. i said he should. he didn't. it kept raining and then stopping. we sang along to dashboard confessional on the way home.

it was saturday night, and my parents were on the loveseat, and i was in the rocking chair. i told my mom how it was weird that i had to hide a sports illustrated swimsuit issue from her when i was a kid. like, why was it such a terrible thing to look at women in bikinis? i was curious about sex, and i wanted to look at them, so why did i have to hide it from her? she said she never knew what i was doing. then she brought up the time she found a porno in my vcr. she said, you were so stupid, and you said it belonged to your friends! my whole attempt at talking about how i'm socially retarded completely backfired.

that same night, i asked my dad if he ever really asked himself what he wanted to do. he said he'd always wanted to fix cars. or be a policeman. so, how did he end up at 55 still without a clue? i was afraid that i would be just like him, bouncing from this job to that - whatever came up or happened to fall into my lap - and one day wake up at 55, not having done anything i really wanted to do. but he did it his way, and he turned out alright. he watches philippine news and listens to sound of music clips on youtube.

sometimes, i can only guess that my parents are wondering what the hell this thing is that they raised. this kid who always has to have these profound talks late at night, as if he won't get the chance to ever say what's on his mind again. i brought up my grandma, and how come no one ever asked about her life? about her relationship with my grandpa? i said, why did everyone only become curious about her and have all these questions after she died? i wanted to ask my dad how he dealt with his mom dying.

how do these men do it? strap refrigerators to dollies, lose their mothers, regret not asking that cute girl for her number, raise children, buy a '94 camry and drive it down to l.a.? what the hell is this? what the hell, really.
how long will you be gone?

i have to write tonight because i know someone is reading. i got a letter in the mail from an old friend, and it was a nice surprise. i was ready to come home to an empty mailbox, to no one in my apartment, to nothingness, but there was a letter in there, and it made all the difference in the world. it gave me hope that i haven't been completely forgotten. on monday, a girl i knew from undergrad snubbed me on broadway. i took my headphones out to say hello, and all she did was say hey, and kept on walking. it was like the time i was at qfc with my roommate in college, and we ran into a girl who used to live next door to us, and she was all excited to see my roommate, and she barely acknowledged me. what? because i'm asian? if i had a beard and a flannel shirt, i'd bet you'd remember my name then, bitch.

but tonight i talked with people, and it was okay. i remembered that there are good people in the world who do care about things. i had the sudden urge to ask one of them to barrister's ball, which is basically law school prom. maybe the girl with the short hair and black dress. maybe our work study student with the purple dress and brown boots. i want to go to prom. i need to feel like it's not too late to start things over, to forget about the negative me who misses out on everything, who's so down about everything, and just be reborn. find redemption and all that shit.

these people talked to me tonight, and it was a strange thing. it was like, wow, you care i exist? i am talking to you and i am looking you in the eye. and i'm not bored or having to pretend or anything. i am genuinely interested. your experience is relevant to my interests. maybe it was the wine and the fact that i was tired, but it was one of those nights where you have hope for the world and you feel like good things can happen. i was sitting at my desk today, and i heard my old coworker keith's voice when he told an irate customer to be patient. be patient. i kept hearing that. like if i could actually be patient, something good will come of all those bus rides in the dreary mornings spent listening to a girl who sings, "take a long look inside because right now i'm leaving you."

i keep wondering what the point is. i have to be patient to find out. sometimes, i see a big disaster happening, and my last act is to save someone else. is there a reason i'm in seattle, living alone, working in an office? why didn't i end up speaking tagalog, living in a broke down apartment with bad lightning and no air conditioning in manila? a long time ago, the spaniards came and converted the filipinos to catholicism, so that set me on the road i'm on today. when i was that sperm, why did i fight so hard to fertilize the egg? i wonder if my words have any affect on anybody, at any time, anywhere.

on the bus ride home yesterday, my life flashed before my eyes. the night before my first teeth extractions, and my cousin rich bitch saying he and i were batman and robin and my dad's ford ltd was the batmobile, and how, after that, i wasn't so scared anymore. jenny asking me to dance, me placing my sweaty palms against the scratchy fabric of her dress, wrapped tightly around her tiny waist. riding shotgun in a van, driving past broke down nightclubs on broken roads in manila. that dream i had where i told my grandma we never had any fun together. all the times i cried when my girlfriend left me, and how i should've been a real man, instead of an annoying, frustrated child. soccer practice. watching the playoffs with the air conditioner blasting, the commentator's soothing voices. eating sushi. wondering how i look like from the back, how i'm just a round ball of black hair. getting stoned and wondering what the fuck this life is. the inside of bars and the stickiness of spilled beer under my feet. the smell of smokers' houses. signing into america online and hearing that dialing sound, then the connecting sound. playing n64 with my cousins and my cousin's boyfriend. screaming into a microphone and then regretting it later when i could no longer speak. how sometimes, i just want to hug every person i see and tell her that i don't want to die, ever. that time my internet friend told me she's going to miss being able to look out her kitchen window when she's dead. my mom with her glasses on, trying to turn on the television in the wee hours of the morning. my dad at the kitchen table, hunched over, eating a tuna sandwich with mayo on cracked wheat bread. christmas time and that little mouse who has nowhere left to go after the 24th.

i want it all, all the time, all the ups and downs. i want to be for the win.
you're hella random, guy.

couple weeks back, ross and i were talking about this service project we did through americorps at some wolf reservation place. the place was hella rundown, and there were a bunch of wolves in this little fenced off area. it was pretty weird being there, just knowing if those wolves got out somehow, they've eat all our fucking faces off. but there was something awesome about it, too. anyhow, there was a woman who worked there, and she seemed kind of bitter. ross said the woman seemed like she was all upset because the world wasn't the way she wanted it to be. what he said was funny because it was true, and for a long time, maybe even now still, i've felt the same way.

that's what i was thinking about at tutoring tonight. these three black kids came in, and they were doing no work. one of them pulled out a worksheet, and he started going at it. i was trying to read over the worksheet with him, but his buddy kept messing with his iphone, and he kept interrupting him. he couldn't stay on task. "alright," i said, "you need to give him back his phone." i stood up to get the phone. the kid looked pissed. "i'll hand it to him," he said. and for some reason, this really pissed me off.

the third kid was using a laptop, and he was just looking at himself on the webcam. i took it from him, and i told him he needed to do work. "okay," he said, "just put it right there." he pointed to a little chair next to him. this pissed me off, too. i hated these kids. why was i even here? fuck these stupid ass kids. i sat there, and i didn't really know what to do with myself. i think what bothered me more was not that they weren't doing homework, but that they were completely ignoring me. they were talking about some girls from school, talking about ipods and facebook, and i was just wasting my time.

it was one of those days where i was ready to say, what's the point? i saw it all happen. i'd say the line, and one of the boys would say, what do you mean? and i'd say, what's the point of your stupid fucking science worksheet? why do you give a shit about how the acidity in the water affects the height of a radish plant? you don't. and your teacher doesn't give a shit, either. so, why are you wasting your time? you're going to grow up to be a boring adult, and you'll have a boring job, you will hate your life, and then you will die. so fuck the acidic water, fuck the radish plants, and fuck you.

i was ready to go home. instead, i went to the bathroom. when i came back, i sat down next to another tutor, and we talked a little bit. i stupidly asked if it was okay to just let the boys be, as i didn't want to make them do any work if they didn't want to. she said yeah, that was probably fine. i couldn't understand why it upset me so much. another kid, who was actually doing his homework, told the other tutor, "you smell like my cousin's house." i found that really funny. when i left early, he said goodbye to me, and he said my name. i didn't even know he knew my name. some kids, like him, really surprise me. some kids give me all the hope in the world. maybe that's why i keep coming back.
i'm trying to do nothing right now.

i was at the twilight exit, and i was thinking about stuff. that's how it goes. there were some lights, and i was at table full of jews younger than me. life can take you to some weird places, put you in strange situations. other than a black man with a cane, trench coat and black hat, i was the only other person of color. what the hell am i doing here? what the hell is going on?

sometimes i wake up really early in the morning, and it's still dark out. i'll lie in bed and wonder what the hell is going on. this is life? i'm alone in a dark room, and i'm alive, and i have to go to work in a couple of hours. but it's not really work. it's just being parked in front of a computer screen and then some talking. and i don't even have to work. i could just live at home and be a bum. so what am i working for? so that i can spend weekends in a bar with white people.

every now and then, i have these dreams. and they're really fucking obvious. like you know how sometimes you'll be watching a movie and the symbolism is just so obvious that a five year old could understand it? those are my dreams. the creators of my dreams are bad screenplay writers. like there'll be a tsunami, or else i'll dream about being in airplane that doesn't go very high. and it's like, okay, i get it subconscious. i'm alone and i'm dull and overwhelmed and not really going anywhere. i fucking get it, dream makers.

i think i understand a little bit better now why people buy shit. sometimes, like on the weekend especially, when i don't have shit to do, i'll go out and i'll buy something. it's exactly the kind of thing i warned myself about when i was twenty-two. like, who are these assholes that can spend $60 on a t-shirt? who drops $100 on a pair of running shoes? the answer is: people who are utterly dissatisfied with their lives.

last year, my mom told me that my girlfriend left me because i was too "easy come, easy go." that basically, things ended because i have no ambition and no direction in life. when my rich uncle in manila asked my mom what was going to become of me, she told him that i would probably go to law school or business school. he nodded as though those were good things to do. it kind of made me sick, though, knowing how my mom wanted so badly for me to be successful, and how, year after year, i was letting her down.

what i also find funny is that there was no real support system or any sort of counseling for going through a breakup after a long-term relationship. as a guy, i'm just supposed to keep that all to myself, and there's no one really to talk about it with. a friend of mine is going through the same thing right now, and all that we can do is laugh about it. throw in a couple of one-liners, but nothing more than that. you know, because dudes aren't supposed to talk about feelings. life sucks, shit goes bad. fucking be a man and repress that shit.

fucking be a man and deal with it. that's what i have to keep telling myself.

leaving this town makes so much sense.

it was raining out and i was sitting behind a fair-skinned southeast asian woman on the number 9. i noticed two or three gray hairs on her head. she had her head turned, and she was looking out the window. that's how i could see the gray hairs at the top of her head. was it just age, or did she have a stressful job, a stressful home life? in the window's reflection, i could see her cell phone glowing its blue glow. as we passed mlk, she put on a head scarf, a green, gold, and white pattern, and i watched as all that hair - the rare grays and the curly locks - disappear. her hands were small, her fingernails painted red, and something about those red painted fingernails made me feel nostalgic, had me longing for some type of human connection.

earlier that day, i woke up in a panic. it was 5 a.m., and i pictured myself getting shot. i pictured myself lying on edmunds st., and there was a shotgun blast, one that took out a quarter of my stomach, and i was lying there, thinking that this was it, i was going into the darkness. no more me. i am self-absorbed, and i am worried about dying. because i haven't done anything i've really wanted to do yet. i dreamed i was in finland, but just at the airport. i knew it'd probably be a long time before i got to go to finland again, so why didn't i just step off the plane and explore? the plane took off, and it was over. goodbye, finland.

this past week, i turned down a job offer. my old boss recommended me to take over her position, as she was retiring. it was less pay, more responsibility, so i was hesitant. the thing is, i'm tired of running. i told my younger cousin once that it's not about where you are, but it's about who you know. i'm tired of trying to escape, and blaming my location for my general malaise. things suck all over, haven't you heard? i didn't want to have to start all over again. it took me a long time to realize that good friends are hard to come by.

whilst mulling over the job offer, i had a heart-to-heart with my coworker. i told her what i was thinking. that, by a certain age, it's hard to make friends, so you might as well just keep the assholes you've been given. see, i've got this other friend, and she's always wanting to move back to her hometown, atlanta. as much as i tell her that things won't be the same, that all her friends have moved on, and that she needs to move on, too, she just won't listen. my coworker, too, idealizes new york, and probably with good reason, but she's accepted now that this is her home, that this is where she belongs. once you say goodbye, close a chapter in your life, you can't go back to it.

i've come to realize that i'll probably get sick of wherever i go, so i might as well just stay in one place. at least until i have things a little more figured out.