american squalor.


harvey pekar died today. i first found out about him by watching the movie american splendor during my senior year of college. after seeing that movie, my cousin gave me an american splendor anthology as a graduation present. i read it cover to cover, even the parts where the print got really tiny because there were so many damn words in the little box. i couldn't believe what i was reading. it was exactly what i needed. sometimes a strip would just be about a trip he took to the airport on a cold morning, or else it was him helping his daughter, danielle, find her glasses. i read a comment on an online article today that said something like, he made the ordinary extraordinary.

lisa has been coming into our office space recently to do math problems. she continues to make me feel bad for not wanting to take the gmat. i don't understand where she gets this sense of superiority, like she knows what's best for me. girl just turned 25 and is still working on her bachelor's. not that there's anything wrong with that, it's just, don't be giving me life lessons, you know? but then again, i am two years older than she is, and we have the same job, same pay, so i guess i lose the battle.

joseph rang me up because he and his family were in town for a wedding. he said, come meet us at the tamarind tree. i had never been, and i figured they were gonna pay, so i went. there was no more room at the table, so joseph and i got our own table. i took a long time looking through the menu, and he already knew what he wanted. it's what i always get, he said. vermicelli noodles and deep fried pork rolls or something. i settled on noodles and meatballs. we reminisced some more, and it made me sad. because he works at sam's club, and i work for a university, and we don't really have friends, and we obviously have nothing more than memories of grade school. still, it was good to see him.

i walked down to dearborn and rainier ave. s. to catch the 9. i thought maybe i'd walk all the way home, but then i checked my phone and saw that the 9 would be coming in four minutes. i figured i'd wait it out. i watched a guy walking up and down rainier with a cardboard sign. some people rolled down their windows and handed him money. somebody handed him an orange. something about that moment caused my throat to swell. i remembered what it was like to be like that, to want to just give, even if it was just a stupid orange. and on his part, to be grateful for something like an orange.

i fell asleep on the couch, woke up in the dark. my first thought was, what the hell, i want to do peace corps? i'm afraid of just waking up alone in my apartment, how am i gonna survive two years alone in a foreign country? i don't know why panic is my first instinct. i turned on the light, and i felt better about it. i felt sick. probably because i haven't exercised in two or three weeks, and i've been eating a lot of ice cream again. i read a little bit of up in the air. i did the dishes and made a salad for tomorrow's lunch. i thought about how i needed to write about my ordinary day where nothing really happened because harvey pekar was dead.

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