mangoes and fish for breakfast.

on monday, i gave my gmat book to lisa because i decided recently i have no business applying to business school. i told her i had no use for it, and since i knew she was planning on taking the gmat, i gave it to her. i sat on the couch in front of her desk, and i waited for the i.t. guy to come set up the conference phone. "what did you major in again?" she asked. "english," i said. "so, what are you gonna do?" she asked, condescendingly, "work for atji?" right then, i wished really bad things would happen to her.

the i.t. guy came and set up the phone. when he realized i would be the only one in the room, he got all pissed off. "you could've just made this conference call from your desk," he spat. "oh," i said, "i didn't know. don't i need this machine?" "no," he said, "it's just a phone." i set up the call in a huff, and then i went back to my desk to let my frustration with everyone subside. who were these people that expected me to know that i could make calls from my desk, that i should major in business because that will just miraculously solve all my problems?

i haven't done any real work in a long time. instead, i spend all my days at the office thinking about how i'm going to escape this dreadfully quiet place. i can't seem to focus on any one thing, though. one day i want to be teaching english in budapest, the next i want to be a bum at home just watching on demand with my parents. i'm supposed to be keeping track of our office's budget, contacting legal services organizations, updating our website, and jump-starting our department's blog, but i just can't bring myself to do any of it. i'd rather keep telling everyone that our days are numbered, and that in the grand scheme of things, none of this really matters.

i really like this kanye west lyric: i'm ahead of my time, sometimes years out, so the powers that be won't let me get my ideas out/and that make me want to get my advance out, and move to oklahoma and just live at my aunt's house.

today, i pictured myself living with my uncle in manila. it'd be hot as hell. i would stay in one of his four unoccupied guest rooms with no air-conditioning, and i would wake up at the crack of dawn because it'd be so miserably hot. i'd go downstairs, and his helper would have some mangoes, rice and fish ready for breakfast. after breakfast, i'd look at the clock, and it would be only 8:30. i'd work on a story until my uncle would wake up and drive me to the mall, where we'd walk around and not be able to afford anything. but hey, at least there would be air-conditioning.

sooner or later, though, they'd get suspicious. "so...are you gonna get a job?" and then everything would be ruined.

today, i found some big pieces of paper under my desk, so i started a game of pictionary with my coworkers. i drew an eye and a pea pod, and gen guessed i was going for "ipod." emily drew a robot. gen drew a piano and then a canyon, and i guessed "grand canyon." then i drew an oil rig that looked like a volcano and a glass on its side with little drops of water coming out of it. gen guessed "oil spill," and she was right.
hear me now.

let's just pretend i have something worth saying, and you're reading because you're genuinely interested. you're not just reading because there's nothing good to watch on sunday night. you're not just reading because you can't, for the life of you, get into that f. scott fitzgerald novel you borrowed from the library, and you've already read the latest people and new yorker magazine cover to cover. you're reading because you've come across a stranger's blog, and you are interested in what i have to say, even though i have nothing interesting worth saying.

you've followed me from americorps to unemployment to a boring desk job. you've read every single word i've published, and you're not sure why. maybe you kind of know who i am. i'm a friend of a friend, maybe someone you've met once. you feel like if you keep reading, there might be an end, an answer, some closure. you read, and you never comment because really, what else is there to add? how does one comment on nothingness? maybe you read because you identify with something i've said. maybe you believe we are on the same team.

it's strange, though, isn't it? there are hundreds of thousands, maybe millions of other blogs out there. yet at this moment in time, you've chosen to read this. it's similar to the time you had the big realization, isn't it? that maybe there isn't structure or fate or destiny or whatever, that things are just random. you just happened to find this page, and now you're reading. and true, there were times when i had something to say, some important message, or some story worth telling, and you read that, too. but most of the time, like this time, there's nothing. you're just looking at words and processing them for the sake of dong it.

i've kept at it. for over three years now. i've written as abundantly and personally as i could manage. and what will become of it? because i haven't capitalized letters, or bothered polishing and revising entries, because i've just written aimlessly and with no purpose at all, most likely nothing will come of this blog. i don't know who these real writers are, the ones who get their stories published in magazines and books, the ones with writing samples that get them into prestigious writing programs, the ones who can pepper their stories with words like effervescent and adjudicate.

but still, you read. and i like to believe it's because you think the story will go somewhere, will have a decent ending. i started this blog in february 2007 after seeing victor villasenor speak to a full auditorium at watsonville high school. he talked about how writing was a sacred act, and i believed him. at the time, while working with foul-mouthed teenagers, i found that there were very few sacred acts i could engage in. so, i started blogging. and part of it does still feel sacred. when i was a kid, i prayed to god every night before i went to bed, but i've since stopped. i haven't prayed in a long time because i don't know if anyone is actually listening. but here, at least when i began writing, i could at least count on a handful of people listening.

the truth is, i don't know what i'm trying to accomplish here. i really got into this blog when i was unemployed because it was something to do. i wanted to feel like the world hadn't forgotten about me, and i wanted to prove to my friends and family that i was still trying, that i still had hope and believed in myself. but after a while, i just couldn't stop. and maybe it was a good thing, too, the way it made me go out and seek adventure just for the sake of having something worth writing about. but lately, i've been feeling like i want to have an adventure just for the sake of having one.

maybe when i'm finished, i'll take up praying again.
matching columbia windbreakers.

let's fast forward to the part where you're no longer cynical, no longer anxious and uncertain of the future. that part where you're calm like you used to be, when you were a kid. in fact, let's fast forward to the part where you already have a kid, and her name is madeline, named after your favorite book as a child, and she's with you at the check-out line at safeway, and she's spinning circles, while holding onto the ends of her frilly dress. she stops when she notices the candy. she looks at the candy, and then looks up at you, and you know what she's thinking because it was the same thought you had twenty years ago. she is too afraid to ask because you've warned her again and again about how bad sugar is for her teeth, for her insides. but it's sunny outside, and you know it will make her happy, so you oblige.

let's back up a little bit, but not too far back, just to the point when madeline is still young enough for a stroller. and you're walking down 6th avenue with wifey, and you're wearing matching light green columbia windbreakers. it's spring time, cool enough for a windbreaker, but not warm enough to be without it. a group of teen girls sneer at you, the couple with the matching windbreakers and their baby, and you remember what it was like to be them: cynical, judgmental, unloved. you never saw yourself wearing that matching columbia windbreaker with wifey, now did you? you used to be so sarcastic and against such things. but look at you now. arms locked in with wifey's, and you're pushing a stroller. you are in love with life once again.

you no longer mind watching time pass you by because you have someone else who is watching it pass with you. you watch the hairs turn grey on wifey's head, and madeline gets bigger and bigger. it's june and then it's december. you get a dog, and madeline jumps on his back. the leaves turn green and then brown, and then they're no longer there at all. you go to your job and put up with it, the routine and long hours and little pay because for once, finally, there are people to come home to. before, you had nothing to come home to, except for the television and an empty refrigerator. that's the good part, when you walk through the door, it's pouring rain out, and wifey is leaning against the kitchen doorway, her arms folded and a smirk on her face because she knows how ridiculous this is, how lucky you both are.

on friday night, you pay the babysitter - her name is jenna - and what do you know, you don't even want to sleep with her. she has a round face and a small bob, and wears layers of bright clothing to mask the vague shape of her body. you are not interested in the slightest because what you have now, all of this, it's just too good to mess up. you were alone for so long and expected nothing from this life, and when it finally gave everything to you, made good on its promise of health and balance to you long ago, something finally clicked. you forgot all about the uncertainty, and somehow, miraculously, you were able to just appreciate what you had been given.

and there you are in your white polo, playing tennis with the missus. your game is off because you're sluggish from the morning's ecstatic lovemaking. she bats a ball over to you, and it's more like a game of ping pong. you laugh about it, tell her she looks great in her vest and visor. later during that same day, you argue about a higher-than-usual cell phone bill, but it's no sweat. money is tight and will always be an issue, but it's just that: an issue. the more trying part comes later, when you are afraid of losing it, all of it, and you imagine yourself back where you were, in your late twenties, coming home to an empty apartment, an empty refrigerator. you try to block out the images of court, of you in a suit, having to use words like "custody," "settlement," and "divorce."

but it won't come to that. i'm telling you now, it won't. trust me.
princess is in another castle!

so, i saw toy story 3 recently, and it got me thinking about this article i read a while ago about how play is important to a child's development and well-being. i don't remember what the article said exactly, only that it went on to argue that a lot of crazies who went out guns-a-blazin' and committed all sorts of other horrible acts - well, they didn't get much play time growing up. how the author of that article knew about this lack of play time, i'm not sure. maybe they read about it in the crazies' journals, suicide notes or manifestos or whatever.

i got some decent play time in as a kid, so maybe that's why i'm not completely off-the-chain nuts. sure, i'm nuts, but then again, if you're reading this, you're probably old enough, and that means you've come across people who are nuts nuts. there was a time, though, when i had to use my imagination to entertain myself. even if it was just jumping on stepping stones and pretending that lava was beneath me, or jumping from the fireplace to the couch to save the princess, a part of my brain was actually working.

as a five-year old, i was always interested in saving the princess. i remember my childhood friend, rohdel, would come by, and i'd make him slay dragons with me and battle evil knights. all rohdel ever wanted to do, though, was play nintendo. that's why he came over. i remember him getting tired of my elaborate stories, and how we were going to strategize our next attack against the fire-breathing beast. he sighed. "can't we just play duck hunt?" i told him one more dragon to kill, and then we could do what he wanted. but when his family finally got a nintendo system of their own, i never saw him again.

at school, i looked forward to recess, where almost all the boys would start up a game of cops and robbers. i found it interesting that the rich white kids almost always wanted to be the robbers. naturally, i played a cop. we'd run around the school, hiding behind bathroom doors, popping caps in one another. it was all so real. if someone's thumb went down and they made the "boom!" sound, usually accompanied with a burst of saliva, i would grab my chest, fall to the floor in a dramatic fashion, and play dead. i could be making this up, but i think at one point, we even had fake e.m.t.'s reviving the wounded. there was hardly ever an argument about who shot whom first. if you got got, you knew it, and you dropped to the floor because you respected the game too much not to.

guns and violence were popular, but i was never much of a g.i. joe fan. a bunch of dudes going off to war, killing some guy named cobra or something - well, that just didn't appeal to me. i wasn't much interested in transformers or voltron, either. you're a car, now you're a robot. big whoop. no, like most boys my age, i was a ninja turtle kid. because there was some kind of magic to it. there was imagination. someone had to think of green ooze turning turtles into ass-kicking ninjas. you couldn't come up with a crazier, more awesome story than that. not in the eighties, anyway.

i had a massive collection of ninja turtles. i had april o'neil and casey, all the villains, foot soldiers galore, even shredder and his giant dome. i made them fight to the death. sometimes i'd even break them in half, snap their heads off, cut them with a knife, burn them with a lighter - it was a scene. my younger cousin would watch me, as i would engage those taiwanese pieces of plastic in the bloodiest of battles. even though there wasn't much of a story line, there was thinking involved. there was suspense and action, theater and dramatics.

i read michael chabon's fatherhood for amateurs recently, and he talks about how imaginative playtime is going away at an alarming rate. all of these crazy computerized animations, elaborate lego monuments, and intense video gaming is killing the imagination of youth. there's nothing left to think about. there's only assembly required and achievements to unlock. i've seen my cousin's impressive display of legos, and i'm pretty sure he never actually plays with them. they are, after all, $80 - $150 puzzles that break easily. and for some reason, this really bothers me. instead, he spends most of the time on the computer, clicking a mouse, shooting things down.

unfortunately, there wasn't a big moment when i realized i was too old for toys and games. most of my ninja turtles went to my younger cousin, but who knows what happened to my glo-worm, my etch-a-sketch, my magic eight ball? why did we stop playing cops and robbers at school, stop inventing our own games, and start playing video games and sports that didn't require any thought or imagination? when did we allow goals and productivity to trump creativity and real play?

and more importantly, what happens when younger generations forget that there's still magic and mystery in this world, still dragons to slay and princesses to save?
why the sour face?

today is father's day, and i didn't get my dad anything. i didn't even send him a card. i bought him an iphone for christmas because he saved my life during that atv incident in boracay, but he still doesn't know how to use it. i tried to show him how to use it when i visited in april. i showed him all the cool things he can do, like tag songs with the shazam app, or google search by voice, or find a nearby sushi place on yelp, or locate his old house in san francicso using google maps. but it all seemed to go over his head.

each time i try to show him how to do something technologically related, it's always the same scenario. first, even if there's nothing to read, he'll put on his glasses. he'll put his glasses on and then he'll bring his chin in toward his chest and look over the top of his glasses. i'll start to show him something, maybe it's how to navigate folders in his email, or how to upload pictures from his camera, or how to download music. he'll look at everything closely, and then he'll stop me and say, "slow down. you're going too fast!" and so i repeat steps. by the end of it, i tell him to show me what i've just shown him to make sure he's understood it.

after years of doing this, i've pretty much given up hope on trying to teach him anything and everything technologically related. i figure that if he really wants to do something, he'll figure it out. for example, he knows perfectly well how to look up "the house of the rising sun" performance on youtube. he knows how to play a dvd because he really loves watching his elvis movies. and he loves the beatles and supremes so much that it was actually he who first showed me how to properly place the needle on a moving record.

but besides that, my dad hasn't really taught me anything. he tried to show me how to ride a bike at 13, and it was a complete disaster. when i was younger, he tried to teach me to swim multiple times, but i still don't know how to swim. when i got my license, he showed me how to change a flat, but we only did it once, so i'm pretty sure i'll be calling triple a the next time i get a flat. i only remember ever playing catch with my older cousin. my dad took me fishing once at a dirty lake past ione. i didn't catch a single fish that day, but i did see a lot of tires and other debris in the water.

when i was in cub scouts, he glued little bb gun pellets to the top of my soapbox race car. he told me that the car needed weight, since it would be going downhill in the race. i'd never made a wooden car before, so i trusted him. my car couldn't even finish the race, and all the boys laughed at me. being so young, i don't even remember what really happened. all i remember is seeing my car stopping way before the finish line, and i wondered why it kept stopping. the scout master even made it race two, three more times just to make sure it wasn't the track's fault. it wasn't. it was my dad's.

i kept it all in until we got to the car. as soon as i got in the front seat, i started bawling. my dad tried to reassure me. "it's just a race," he said, trying to comfort me. between sobs, i managed to say that i never wanted to go back there. i didn't want to be in cub scouts anymore. i can't imagine now all the similar heartaches i put him through. sometimes, after getting in a fight with one of my cousins at my grandma's house, i'd call my dad to come pick me up. i'd manage to keep it all in until we'd reach the driveway. that's when i'd start to frown and tear up. "why the sour face?" he'd always say. and i'd never be able to speak. i'd just shake my head. i was born on a wednesday, didn't he know?

that's not to say my dad hasn't looked out for me. when coach ownbey didn't play me in a basketball game, my dad called him up and chewed him out, and i started the next game. when some older kid grabbed me by the shirt, my dad got up in his face. when the comic book store guy overpriced me on a bunch of comic books, my dad was there to make sure i got every dime back. he showed up to every single soccer and basketball game i ever played. he gave me a car when i turned sixteen. he bought me a guitar and paid for lessons. he bought me everything i've ever asked for. he always made sure i didn't ever stay up too late or sleep in. he told me to get an education because that's something no one can ever take away from me.

we hardly ever talk on the phone because it's always so awkward, and we have nothing to say to each other. we've never really had a heart-to-heart, but then again, how many men ever do with their fathers? after saving me from the atv accident last december, i'll always remember that moment afterward, though. we had just made it up the mountain, and we were sitting togeher on a bamboo platform up in the trees. the natives had created a makeshift zoo or bird sanctuary, and grace and nikki were still a few levels up, taking pictures of each other. we both realized then that something miraculous had transpired - after all, i could've been badly injured or worse. we recognized that there was some kind of animal instinct within my dad that had allowed him to crash into me, and keep my vehicle stationary. he only asked if i was okay, but i could tell he wasn't just asking about what had happened that afternoon.

later, i asked him how he knew to do that. how did he know that hitting my vehicle from behind wouldn't have made me spiral out of control even more? he told me he didn't know. he told me he just got lucky. and that pretty much sums up my dad. my dad who often can't get an electronic hotel key card to work. my dad who watches wowowee, reads nonfiction books, and eats tuna sandwiches and vienna sausages for breakfast every morning. my dad who married a woman who made double, even triple his income over the years.

he didn't know. he just got lucky. maybe it's life's way of repaying him for the awful thing he had to endure before i was born. when his cousin, his best friend in the whole world, died in a car accident. my dad has had panic attacks ever since then. he takes xanax before flights, sometimes pulls over on road trips for no reason, and sometimes he'll just zone out at the dinner table. my mom will say, "hey!" and then he'll snap out of it. "where did you go?" she'll ask him. but he'll just smile and nod. a lot of people think he's simple. mostly because he barely knows how to work the tv remote control, but also because his english isn't that good, he keeps to himself, and he never made it past the tenth grade. but my mom, who knows him better than i do, better than anyone does, always warns me not to underestimate him. "you think he's simple," she says, "but he isn't."

one day, i hope, he's going to tell me that story about his cousin, about what really happened. one day, he's going to tell me what he's been keeping to himself all these years.
no you're not!

the only thing that made me feel okay about quitting my last job was my boss' words to me: life is too short to not being doing what you want. and he had a point. i didn't want to try and force kids to learn english because i knew what it felt like when someone tried to force me to learn pre-calculus - a subject i had very little to no interest in. and even though english and pre-calculus can benefit all of us in the long run, i just had a real problem with being an authoritative figure. so i quit. and then i made myself pay for it. i still have dreams where i'm at the school, but each time, the gig isn't as bad as i had imagined.

what was it then? what is it that makes me want to give up on everything i do, everyone i know? there's this part in jhumpa lahiri's namesake where the father takes a job in another city, so he has to be away from his wife for long periods of time. when he finally dies, the wife realizes that he took the job and went away so that she could learn how to live on her own. similar to that, i guess i do what i do because i want to prepare myself for life's disappointments. like, if i just get really disappointed now, and feel like a failure now, i won't have to deal with it later. it's like a preemptive strike against a mid-life crisis. but that's no way to live your life.

they announced at work today that my department and i would be moving down to the clinic's old space. i guess that's what triggered it. the only thing i have to look forward to at work is my officemates, the people i bullshit with and complain to. after a long lonely weekend, i actually look forward to monday morning when i can tell emily and gen what i did, that they finally opened the hatch in lost, or that i ate some really amazing dim sum. i can quote boogie nights and talk about lady gaga all i want, and they just smile and attempt to humor me. and now work is taking that away from me, forcing me to work with new people, older people, and god knows what we'll have to talk about. oprah magazine and crocheting, i guess.

i'm using it as an excuse to get away. i can't look at the buildings of the university anymore. i can't take another month of rain. i can't just go to work everyday, do nothing, and then come home and take three hour naps. my boss once said that seattle is just a place where people come to go to school, and then when school is over, they go away. either that, or they end up getting some corporate job. and sure, it's gonna be the same wherever i end up. i'll have to start over, look for work, try to create something that resembles a social life, find an apartment, pay bills, get groceries, try not to feel anxious and overwhelmed.

what i worried about most when i was unemployed was that i was missing out on something. that old lie that your twenties are supposed to be some awesome nonstop party where everyone goes out drinking and having loose morals every night. and maybe it's supposed to be, but i got a glimpse of that kind of life in new york, and yeah, it was fun for a week, but after that, it's just kind of sad. and i saw myself for what i was. there was this moment where i was at some bar, and i went to the bathroom to get away from it all. i went back out and started dancing and singing along to "whatever you like." i'd never felt more disingenuous in my entire life.

but that's the thing. i saw this postsecret once that read, "i don't want to be holden caulfield anymore." i don't know how to stop having this internal monologue with myself. i don't know how to make it go away. i'm like the old biblical dude, the prodigal son, who lost his way. why else are there numerous entries in this blog about strippers, awful things i've said and thought, stupid things i've done. this isn't me. i need to figure out how to stop living just to have something to write about. i need to stop worrying about retirement and saving money because i'm afraid of uncertainty. i need to stop being so hard on myself, stop talking about hard times in general. sometimes you just need to learn to walk away and be grateful for what you've got.

sixty more entries to reach the 1,000th post, and then i retire the blog.
tacos, tacos, tacos...burritos?

let me start by saying i don't write about food. i don't know why people write about food. writing about food is like writing about music. what's the point? everyone is gonna experience it differently, so you might as well just keep your comments to yourself. i'm sure there are some people who write about food well, like ruth reichl and the eat, pray, love lady (that's about food, right?), but for the most part, the average joe blow like myself can't tell much of a difference between a zagat-rated risotto and a microwaveable burrito from 7-11.

that brings me to my point, which is that i'm going to now write about burritos. it all started with taco bell's burrito supreme. i first had a taste of that glorious thing when i was probably four or five years old. my mom or dad must've brought it back from taco bell one day, and i ate that shit up like it was the greatest thing i had ever tasted. and in four years of existence, after eating gerber's mashed up peas, carrots and applesauce for years, it probably was the greatest thing i had ever tasted. i soon discovered the mild and hot sauce packets, and how you could make your burrito soggy and spicy if you wished. wash that shit down with an ice cold pepsi, and i was in heaven. after getting over a bad case of the stomach flu in second grade, i wanted one real bad, but was afraid i was just going to throw it up. when i didn't throw it up, i knew that the burrito was special.

there were other places where i got burritos, i'm sure, but none of them really stuck out in my mind as much as the burrito supreme did. it wasn't until i tried the burrito ultimo from baja fresh that i had first discovered a true contender. there was something terrific about it. it had a toasted tortilla and a special sauce that burst with flavor. green and red peppers, onions, rice, sour cream, and cheese. absolutely delicious. i got upset whenever i took a friend there, and he or she said baja was gross. i'd reprimand them, set them straight. "that's because you didn't order the burrito ultimo!" and then i'd feel as though it was i who had failed. i forgot to warn them that the burrito ultimo (and maybe the nachos) was the only thing on the menu worth ordering.

i took my buddies chris and jeff there once because they'd never been to baja fresh. it felt like my whole life i had to tell people about other stuff (i.e. bands and movies) like the burrito ultimo, but that's a different story. jeff didn't take my advice. i think he ordered a baja burrito, a real shit sandwich, and we laughed at him for being so stupid. chris, on the other hand, was rewarded for listening. his face lit up. halfway through his burrito, he said, "this is so good. i want to stick my cock in this." see? if you're gonna write about food, you need to come up with shit like that.

sidenote: sometimes the burrito ultimo is hit or miss. like yesterday, i got one from fucking bellevue. tortilla wasn't toasted, and i swear there wasn't a single goddamn pepper in it. it was mostly rice with a little bit of sour cream on the bottom. catastrophe. to guarantee goodness, you must order from the baja fresh on howe about arden. even the jamba juice there gets it right every time. they're doing something right in that area. and they've got leatherby's. something right indeed. but you know who doesn't have it right? chipotle. and world wraps. jesus, don't get me started on world wraps.

gotta give my dad props for discovering this little place called gordito burrito, off the highway 50/howe avenue exit. my dad came home one day, and i expected him to bring home his usual shit: korean barbecue, hawaiian barbecue, kfc, noodles and fried rice, etc. all the stuff he brought home was good, but when he laid down those boxes of gordito burritos, he took it to a whole new level. first of all, the burritos were fucking massive. they were like warm infants, small baby jesuses, ready to die for our salivating sins. he always ordered extra guacamole and salsa, and man, oh man, it was a feast.

i went through a real seven-layer phase in high school, too. the burrito supreme was on its way out, especially after everyone i knew kept telling me that taco bell used the shittiest meat. so shitty it wasn't even meat. grade z meat or something like that. so, i thought i'd be "healthier" and try out the seven-layer. less meat, more "vegetables," so it must be good for me, right? i ate seven-layers like a champ. for lunch, for dinner, sometimes twice a day. and always with pepsi or sierra mist. sounds awful when i think about it now, but back then, i didn't know no better. i learned about god and long division, but nutrition never even entered the discussion.

jimboy's and betos can also get honorable mentions. and there's this place by my apartment in columbia city that's okay. nothing worth getting excited about, though.

when i got to seattle, i tried taco del mar. the super veggie burrito is what they called it. when i order, this is how the conversation goes:

me: one super veggie burrito on tortilla please.
her: what kind of beans?
me: black beans.
her: cheese, lettuce, tomato?
me: yes.
her: hot, medium, or mild sauce?
me: medium.
her: for here or to go?
me: to go.
her: anything else?
me: no.

and so i go, hoping to find the world's next top burrito.
can i use your phone?

the sun was partially breaking through the clouds, making its way past the blinds and onto the right side of my body. the dog lay lazily in the center of the room. on the coffee table, a bag of tortilla chips and homemade guacamole. the two roommates were screaming, slapping each other high-fives. the girls were on their laptops, occasionally looking up to see what all the fuss was about. on the other side of the country, the celtics were up by ten, up by six, and then up by seven.

there was some talk about the food. adam called aaron cheap, and aaron disagreed. who were these people? how the hell did i end up here? should i be at home, instead, watching the same televised sporting event with my retired parents? sure, i liked these people enough. i envisioned one of them, maybe even myself, getting up and screaming, "i fucking hate all of you!" and then storming off. where did this thought come from? i didn't hate them. and nobody in the group seemed to feel that way, either. but it was there. it was possible.

earlier that day, i was at the park eating tacos with my friend. this black kid came up to us, asked to borrow one of our phones. my friend was skeptical, asked what he needed it for, but i just handed mine over. this kid could've run away with it. if that happened, depending on my mood, i would've chased after him, or i would've just kept on eating my taco. that's how much i don't know myself. how will i react in any given situation? i won't know until it happens. he was a nice enough kid. he said he was gonna move to georgia because his dad is in the military.

as the story goes, corey got really drunk, and aaron tried to make a move on her. he hugged her, kissed her on the cheek, and he wasn't even drunk. the guy has a thing for her, it's obvious. he doesn't seem to know what to say, though. do you know how sometimes you hear a perfect song, read a perfect story, and it's as though those words have already existed? as though that song or story was always in the universe, and it was just a matter of time before somebody put them to paper and made it popular? well, this guy is like the opposite of that perfect song or story. he has a bunch of lines nobody wants to hear, superfluous comments that go nowhere, mean nothing.

the two girls talked of uncertainty, which was fine because they had graduated high school in 2004, and they were in their early twenties. they talked of moving beds, humidity in the south, storage units, living in fresno, going to graduate school at cal, studying birds, buying a home. all the while i sat in the backseat, keeping quiet, playing with my sunglasses, wondering if i was going to end up like the orange man at car dealerships, the one who just blows around in the wind.

i think i'm outgrowing it, this phase of uncertainty. but maybe it's just the weather, the time of day, something i ate three hours ago. tomorrow never knows, it could be back and stronger than ever. and that's why i'm so afraid of living.
you's a hoe.

i didn't ever tell you about this girl, moriah, did i? well, i probably did, but who gives a shit? i'm always repeating stuff on this blog. sue me. moriah was this blonde girl who went to center high, and she took me on my first trip to the dreaded friend zone. we met at tower records. i was eighteen, and lamenting over the fact that i worked at a record store and still couldn't get laid. to my credit, staff was a real sausage-fest then, and i had just emerged from jesuit high school as a bitter individual who had just lost all faith in humanity.

needless to say, i was pretty happy when moriah showed up to work that first day. she smelled nice and had a vacant stare. she was pale, but not sickly-looking. she had green eyes (i think), wore lip gloss, eye shadow, and painted her nails either red or pink. a real girly girl. we talked about the interview process, the one where the general manager asked us to name all four beatles. she said she couldn't do it - she could only name paul and george - but she got the job all the same. she couldn't remember john fucking lennon's name. i was utterly entranced by her.

she kept talking to me, and i couldn't understand it. in those days, i was used to being ignored and downright ridiculed. so, why all of a sudden was this attractive girl who went to a ghetto high school talking to me about music and movies? we even had inside jokes. an example: back then, ludacris' song "you's a hoe" was a hit. she was talking to me on instant messenger and accidentally typed, "you's a shoe." it was a running gag for a long time.

one day, the store got free passes to jay and silent bob strike back. the screening was on a wednesday during the day, though, so passes were useless to most of the staff with the exception of moriah and me. i asked her if she wanted to go. she said, sure. i asked if she had seen any of kevin smith's other movies, and she told me that she hadn't. i told her that i had all of his movies on dvd and that she could borrow them if she wanted. somehow, she ended up inviting herself over to my house to watch mallrats instead.

she drove all the way from antelope or wherever the hell she lived to my parents' house in rosemont. for those of you unfamiliar with sacramento, that's like a forty minute drive. talk about leading a guy on! on the way over, she phoned me because she got lost. i gave her some bad directions, and she got even more lost. i was bad at giving directions because no one ever came to my house. finally, she arrived, and she was pissy. "you told me to turn left at mayhew!" i apologized, and then i turned on the movie. "what?" she said, "a movie with no popcorn?" jesus. i felt like i had invited peppermint patty to my house.

she asked to see my room, and i felt awkward about it. was this finally it? were we gonna do it? my mom was asleep in her bedroom, and i felt weird about bringing a girl to my room, even though i was already eighteen years old. what a noob, right? my room then was a total pervert's paradise. the walls were covered with britney spears posters and other scantily clad young women. i had shelves of cds and dvds, a blue trunk full of pornography. we watched some tv, and she told me i had a cool room. i asked her what was so cool about it. she said that i had obviously spent a lot of time there, and wanted it to look a certain way. at some point, my mom checked in on us, and i introduced moriah to my mom. my mom smiled and closed the door behind her.

you know how the rest of the night went because by now, you know my life. nothing happened.

a few days later, we went to go see jay and silent bob strike back with our free passes. she told me she would just meet me at the arden fair mall. i waited there, still not believing that this was happening. a girl was meeting me at the movies. a girl. me. movies. it didn't add up. she showed up, and she looked more amazing than ever. she was like one of those girls who was supposed to show up with her little female entourage, all the little bitches who envied and admired her all at once. she wasn't supposed to show up alone looking that good to meet schlubby me.

we made other plans. she drove me to her house for some reason, and i met her dad. the bathroom was a mess, and i didn't know pretty girls had disgusting bathrooms. i didn't get her family situation. she had an adopted asian brother or something, and an absent (or dead) drug addict of a mother she refused to talk about. i sat in her room, and i flipped through her old yearbooks. i was trying to figure out who this girl was, why she was spending her time with me, and where all of this was going.

that summer, we watched the fireworks atop the arden fair mall parking lot. i put on the jimmy eat world song, "just watch the fireworks." we got ice cream from leatherby's. she sang along to a song called "mt. moriah" that i had never heard of. we non-double-dated with our friends alejandro and chrissy, respectively. we got drinks from jamba juice. i played jimmy eat world's "sunday," and she asked me if i put that song on because it was sunday. i told her i did. i got jealous when i saw her talking to other guys at the store. even if we were just going to be friends, she helped me regain some faith in humanity.

summer was coming to an end, and i was all set to head up north for college, while she was gonna stay behind at american river community college. one of the last times we hung out, we decided to go to the california state fair together. i played one of the carnival games and won her a prize. she got on some ride that was just like a super fast car or something. we walked around to see the different exhibits, all the dirty pigs and smelly horses and giant squash. at the end of the night, we got our picture taken together at the kcra news exhibit, and just before the flash, i thought about kissing her. i didn't.

a year had passed. one lonely night in college, i instant messaged her and asked why nothing ever happened between us. she called me a downer, said i wasn't her type. she even called me "round." not square. round. as in, fat. i realized then that she hung out with me that summer probably because no one else could stand her.

and just like that, i could feel my faith slipping away once again.
hollywood kind of way.

my coworker is getting married next month. her fiance is an engineer for microsoft. he gets high tech gadgets and takes them apart. his job has taken him to places in europe and asia. they lived together for a year in japan. that's how come she knows all about weird japanese subcultures like lolitas. she's planning for the wedding, and it's gonna be a small affair in the small town where she grew up, some place called cle elum or something like that. somewhere in middle or eastern washington that out-of-towners like myself know nothing about. what business would i have knowing about a place like cle elum?

from the way she describes it, there's gonna be a bunch of plastic chairs and tables. she's been trying to find a vendor that'll give her a reasonable price, and this time of year, and with the date so close, it's not the easiest thing to do. a few weeks back, she went to portland with some girlfriends to get herself a wedding dress. she said the invitations haven't even gone out yet. maybe they have by now, but the last time she told me, they hadn't gone out yet. her fiance also bought a house in the central district, so they're gonna have to spend the summer fixing that up.

i asked her how they met because i'm curious about things like that. she said she was on a boat on lake union, her brother's boat to be exact, and there was a problem with the boat, like it got stuck or something, and then her fiance showed up and helped them. she said that it took them meeting a few times after that incident out on lake union before he finally asked her out. i said that was a real hollywood kind of way of meeting the person you were gonna marry, and she agreed.

a friend of mine from college is engaged, too. i told her she should register at crate and barrel. i don't know what it is about crate and barrel. the first time i walked in that store, though, i said to myself, so this is marriage. it's all expensive furniture and things i would never be able to afford on my own. so it's been a running gag with me. i pass by a crate and barrel with a friend, and i tell him or her i'm gonna register there one day. and they always say, why? and i say, just look at the place. doesn't that look like married life? and usually they don't get it, and i don't bother explaining it. anyway, my friend from college isn't gonna register at crate and barrel. she isn't gonna register at all. she thinks it's tacky.

it's funny. when i was a kid, i thought all little girls always dreamed about their wedding day. maybe some did, but that just goes to show how little i know about women. i thought they had everything planned out, from the dress they were gonna wear, to the venue, to what color ink on the invitations. now that i know engaged and even married women, it doesn't seem like they're fulfilling any sort of dream at all. it looks like a lot of stress and a lot of work.

as a bachelor, i took a three hour nap after work today. i can do that because there's no one around to tell me that i'm sleeping too much.
make it right!

my uncle used to take me to candlestick park to see giants games when i was a kid. i didn't know shit about baseball, and i didn't care to learn, either. i just wanted the giants to win, but i didn't care one way or another. i just wanted them to win so that my cousins and my uncle would be in a good mood afterward. they rarely won, though. in fact, i don't think i had been to a single giants game at candlestick park when they had actually won. still, i'd bring my glove, and hope to catch a foul ball. i'd cheer when will clark was up at bat. i'd eat nachos and drink coke.

my friend got mariners tickets through work, so we went to safeco field yesterday. mostly, i was just glad to be outdoors while the sun was out. at the entrance to our section, 141, an old man held up a sign that read something like: as courtesy to the audience, please wait until this player finishes at bat. i wondered if holding that sign was the man's only job, or if he did it part-time, and what he might need the extra money for if the latter was the case. we got to our seats in the second inning.

at one point in the game, the angels' pitcher dropped the ball, but the ref called it out. there was a guy in our section that completely lost it. he screamed, "he dropped the ball! make it right!" he was a middle-aged white man, and his face was completely red. it wasn't the first time i had seen something like this happen at a major sporting event. it happens all the time. who are these people, though? they look so frustrated and angry when they're screaming their tomato heads off, and to what end? as if a referee is really going to change his mind over some lunatic screaming in the stands?

maybe it went like this: he was born, and he had a few childhood friends, but they didn't stick with him to adulthood. when he was seven, his bike was stolen, and his dad told him life wasn't fair. it seemed to be his motto whenever things didn't work out for him, and each time his dad said it, he could only think, if life isn't fair, and you knew that, then why the hell did you have a kid? out of pure dumb luck, he had a high school sweetheart, but it didn't take. they split up the summer before college. in college, he did a lot of drugs, but managed to keep it under control enough to get decent grades as a history major. then, he realized he wasn't gonna do shit with a degree in history, so he got a job as a delivery driver for ups. he met his wife through work. he had kids of his own, even though he knew life wasn't fair. he took the whole family to a ballgame on a saturday afternoon, where he screamed his head off at the ref, much to the embarrassment of his subservient wife and absent-minded child.

do you know how good it feels to let people down? i bet you don't. you don't know the thrill of being with a social group - i'm talking a real friendly bunch, and they're at some bar, and they're having a great time, really drinking it up, laughing, smiling, a real party, a real hoe-down. i'll bet you don't know what it's like to not be able to turn it off, to push aside the thought that this is stupid, that this is a waste of time. that this is completely unacceptable and irrelevant. you don't know the thrill of it, of walking away when things are just getting good, and there's no reason behind your selfish action. no reason whatsoever.

you do it because you're bored, and you've done this. everything's tired, and you just want to be left alone.
put stuff inside you.

freshman year of college, there was this girl, jen, who lived next door to us. she was a nursing student, and a part-time waitress at hooters. i have to admit, it was pretty awesome. it was as though hollywood didn't completely lie to me, and that hot, fake american pie girls really did exist in dormitories. she'd hang out in our dorm room sometimes because she got along well with my roommate. my roommate was always bringing in the cooze, and i didn't get it. just because he was an athlete or something, big fucking deal.

jen found out i liked the gilmore girls, so on thursday nights, she'd come over, and we'd watch it. this one time, i hadn't taken out the trash in a while, and she sat right next to the trashcan while watching the show. "this trashcan smells like sperm!" she said. after the third or fourth time she announced it, i went off and emptied the trash. for weeks after that, she told my roommate that he needed to stop jerking off into the trash.

i think she wanted us to hang out in her room sometimes - it was only fair - so she bought an xbox and invited me and my roommate over to play. we played halo, and she commented on how i looked so serious when i played. she called it my game face. while we were playing, she told us not to turn around, so naturally, i turned around. she was changing her bra and shirt, getting ready for work. i caught a glimpse of her back, artificially tanned and perfectly fit. so, this was what a shirtless hooters girl looked like from the back.

come spring time, she went on and on about how she wasn't getting what she needed, sexually speaking. she lamented over being placed on what she called "the virgin floor," bellarmine six. i was sitting at the computer one day, and in front of my roommate, she asked if i would have sex with her. being a slightly overweight asian nerd, i knew she was just trying to humiliate me, so i had to come up with something clever and not-too-nerdy to say. i declined her offer, but followed with, "i'll put stuff inside you if you want." she laughed oddly. i couldn't tell if she found it funny or offensive.

eventually, she started seeing this soccer player who lived next door to us. i was surprised to find that, despite him being a self-proclaimed ladies man (he did have a lot of stories to tell and a new girl in his room just about every week), he was also a virgin. after some convincing, they did the deed, and she was very disappointed. apparently, he couldn't last very long, and she'd tell me and my roommate all about it, all the while looking very frustrated and upset.

they were together for a little while, and then they weren't. i guess that's just how these things go.
this story isn't appropriate for children.

i got lit and i watched the simpsons. i knew i was there when i couldn't stop laughing at this particular scene in the ralph loves lisa episode. lisa asks chief wiggum how he got krusty the klown tickets, and chief wiggum tells her that he caught krusty at a porno theater. when he finishes, lisa tells him, "that story isn't appropriate for children," and i was tearing up. like, why was chief wiggum telling a second grader that he was in a porno theater? goddamn, that was some funny shit. i went back to re-watch the scene, but then i found another scene that i didn't even remember watching. that's when i knew i was gone.

then i started thinking about lost, which is funny because i've only seen the first two episodes. i know nothing about lost, but then i started thinking about what i think the show might be about, and that freaked me out. like what if death isn't the end of us? what if there are all these alternate universes and we're in hell, or we end up in hell and we don't even know it? what if there's reincarnation and parallel dimensions and times and places that are crazy and more horrible than we could ever imagine?

why do i do it? i don't like losing control. but everything becomes so much funnier. like my friend was just playing a video game, and i knew we came from apes, but could you imagine an ape playing a video game? it would just look downright ridiculous. but it's perfectly normal for a human being to hold a remote control and pretend he is in control of another human being who is running around and throwing grenades at enemy soldiers. that's about when i thought all other species have it right. they just eat, screw, and try not to die.

my friend brought up full metal jacket, and that was a real buzzkill. i was only five or six years old when i saw a clip from that movie, and it haunted me for the rest of my life. it was the scene during basic training, when one of the soldiers completely loses it, and he shoots his drill sargeant before he shoots himself in the head. i was like five or six years old, and i was at a hotel with my parents. my dad was watching it, and i convinced him to let me watch some of it, too. i told him i could handle it. and then that soldier put the rifle in his mouth and all his blood and brains splattered against the bathroom tiles, and all i could think was, holy shit.

i couldn't imagine being in war. i watched the video game, and i failed to understand why people did it. why people went off (or ordered others off) to a foreign land and risked their lives for god, country, democracy, peace, stability, money, whatever it is. you run around and there's a chance an i.e.d. could just blow you to bits, or else a sniper could just burst your watermelon head. my friend said his cousin came back from two tours in iraq, one tour in afghanistan. he asked his cousin if he'd seen the hurt locker. his cousin said, "dude. no."

do you get it, though? like, this is it. right now i'm thinking i want to be wide awake and clear headed when it all goes down.