in a conversation about accents

Mom: You know we’re good friends with the dry cleaners, I mean, we’ve been going there for years and we know the father very well.

Me: The father?

Mom: Yes, the father ran the dry cleaners for a long time and now his son, Anthony, does.

Me: And they’re Latino? [ed. we were at a Mexican restaurant and I had to keep translating what the waiter was saying…even though he was speaking English]

Mom: What?

Me: Latino?

Mom: No, they’re Asian. Anyway, I think what they do is that they get each other jobs because when you come to this country you have to have a job to stay. And then they stay for a little bit and then move on somewhere. At least I think that’s what happens, there’s some people I just never see again…

Me: Helping out their people.

Mom: Right. Anyway, some of these people I can’t understand. at. all. I usually just stand there and smile while I try and decode what my choices are [makes motions with hands like machinery in motion]. Or sometimes I just can’t figure it out and start laughing. Don’t I Jerry? [turns to Dad]

Dad: huh?

Me: So what do you do?

Mom: Usually I just smile for a little while and then just say ‘yes’ [laughing]

Me: [laughing] Well how bad could it be, right? It’s laundry.

Mom: [still laughing] Right! [Turns to Dad] That’s why sometimes your shirts have starch in them!

Me: [uproarious laughter]

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me fail english? that’s unpossible!

I was always good at english in school…whereby “English” I really mean all of the classes that weren’t math or the sciences. I was also really good at those classes, if I’m allowed to boast, but I was less good. Or, at least, they came with a bit more effort than did the literature-based classes, which required no effort at all. My mother always thought I should do something word-related…like be a writer or a lawyer.

Instead, I chose the hard route. I went into Engineering, which is a subject heavily-dependent on the subjects that I had to work at to be good at. And I did this on purpose…the English stuff seemed like cheating to me. I mean, if it was so easy to come by, could I have really earned it honestly?

This short little story should prove to illustrate why, when re-counting my book list of read books, I discovered that I had mis-counted by two. Good at literature, not quite so much at math.

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mortality creeping in

The weird thing about not knowing exactly what’s wrong with you is that you become absolutely certain that whatever it is threatens your mortality. Every now and again between the day I last saw my doctor and the tomorrow of our next appointment, I’ve watched the swollen infection on my leg change colors and attitude, though not size, and for the most part seemingly not react at all to the two kinds of antibiotics I’m on. I conveniently choose to ignore that I can passably walk on my leg now (a first) and that it would appear that the infection hasn’t spread further or gotten larger. I’ve already started thinking about how I would react to amputation (with horror) and the hardship not so much physically but psychically. I can already feel the dooming depression of having to experience that and it’s given me a new appreciation of those who actually have. It seems so obvious in retrospect, how horrible it would be, and I think the only missing detail between my epiphany of today and my ignorance of yesterday is the taking of time to actually think about it.

Which leads me to my next thought: that feeling of invincible youth? It’s not invincibility in retrospect. I don’t remember thinking that I couldn’t die when I would climb out the windows of a moving car, jump off of roofs, or the like…I just didn’t think about it. I was a fairly smart kid…I have to imagine that, if forced to consider the potential ramifications of, for instance, leaping between two unstable boulders on the side of a mountain with 100’s of feet of freefall between them and missing, I’m sure that I would come to the conclusion that I would be either horribly injured or dead. I doubt I would have thought that I’d just walk away. Therefore, not invincible just not thinking.

But I digress. Or at least I now carry on down another lane of my local’s backroad way to the point. Beyond the amputation or at least horrible scarring from where they cut this infection out of me, lies the spectre of death. And it looms. Almost menacingly and almost real enough to actual feel the breath of. Frankly, it’s terrifying as I again, really think about it. I don’t want the oblivion, and at this point of my life, don’t understand how anyone could ever be at peace with that idea. The waste, the loss, the erasure of something so incredible (meaning Life not me personally), just feels unspeakably sad.

I should probably go wash this wound out, no?

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keep on crutchin’

I have been on crutches 3 times in my life (so far).

The first was in High School when in a fairly bad accident. My girlfriend, Missa, was driving us back to school from lunch? band practice? making out? I can’t remember. We were in her red Fiero, which I know now to be an absolutely horrible car; but, I must admit was fun to drive back in the day. Plus she looked hot in it. We were turning left with a green arrow when a lifted, white, Nissan pickup truck went around a car stopped at the opposing light, into the opposite left hand turn lane, proceeded to instead pass straight through the intersection and right into…me, basically, in the passenger seat. I remember how the bottom of the truck’s grill was in-line with the top of my head right before impact.

At any rate, the impact crumpled the passenger door and threw it into my knee, which would later swell alarmingly. I had to climb out of my luckily open window to get out and physically lift my screaming and crying girlfriend out of the driver’s seat who was, miraculously, completely uninjured. The Fiero was totaled and the pickup truck was apparently drivable because it was a hit and run.

Crutches for about a week.

The second was when I was living in the Bay Area and playing basketball in an all-asian league (except for me). I spent a lot of free time at a local school shooting baskets alone and I noticed how some people played games in the gym. One time they were playing on the outside courts for some reason or another and they needed an extra guy. Enter the white man. I played a few more pick-up games with them until one day one of the few english speakers told me it was $25/month for the rental of the gym. I took this as being accepted into their circle. I wasn’t the best player on the team, but I also wasn’t the worst and it felt good to have “friends” even though I didn’t know more than two of their names and no one ever spoke to me (or perhaps could speak to me.

One day, I chased down a player on a fast break, went up to block his lay-up, and destroyed my ankle on the way down. I iced it with peas that night and went to bed with my leg propped up on pillows thinking that that was the worst of it. The next morning, I lightly placed my now purple, zeppelin-shaped foot on the floor and screamed in pain. I crawled on all fours to the bathroom and washed my face leaning into the tub, went to urgent care, and was told that it would have been better if I’d just broken my ankle, because this was as bad a sprain as I could possibly get and it would probably never heal to full strength (which has so far proven to be true).

Crutches for about two weeks. Special prize for also being on said crutches when I was laid-off…which made for a particularly pathetic figure as I struggled to hold my box of belongings and crutch my way to my car.

And the third is right now. A large half-baseball sized pus-filled swelling appeared on the back of my knee two days ago which has since been diagnosed (at the ER) as a staph infection. It hurts, I can’t straighten (or really bend) my leg, and walking is extremely difficult at best without crutches.

Crutches for two days and counting…

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As of this writing, I’ve read 26 Stephen King books; and, I think, at least one under his pseudonym of Richard Bachman. I found this to be surprising. Check it out.

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things to do before you travel

1. take out the garbage
3. wash the dishes…somehow the sight of your mac ‘n cheese pot from a week ago still soaking in the sink is extremely depressing
4. make your bed…it’s surprisingly comforting to come home to a made bed as opposed to a messy one

That’s it, really. If you follow the above, the other stuff can take care of itself or not. Maybe you set the light timers, you can’t remember if you stopped your mail, you’re fairly sure you paid your rent, etc…none of those will effect you nearly as much as not having taken out your kitchen garbage before you went to Thailand for two weeks.

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dancing in the dark

I like to stare at a lamp until my irises have contracted down to small periods, then I go into the bathroom, shut the door, turn off the lights, and then get into the shower. I’ll sit in the middle of the tub, my legs propped up, and the water falling onto my head. I’ll plug my ears with fingers, close my eyes, and listen with my inner ears as it turns the falling shower water on my skull into the unmistakable sound of a summer storm. If I move my head and body forward and back I can create the sounds of the storm receding or advancing…starting as a few errant drops with a crescendo to a torrential downpour.

They don’t sound like LA storms, they sound like Texas ones, and with my eyes closed I envision the storms of my youth that you could literally see advancing down the street towards you. I don’t see that anymore. I’m not sure why. Maybe I’m just not out playing in the street like I used to be; or maybe it has something to do with Los Angeles, and how when it cries, it cries all at once and everywhere. Back in Texas, though, you could see the advancing clouds in the distance, you could see the pavement growing deeper gray at the end of the block, and see it creeping towards you, you could hear the pitter-patter of rain drops and see the rebounded water jets on the street advancing towards you. And then you were in it, your t-shirt becoming first polka-dotted and then simply soaked. It was warm and it was exhilarating; punctuated by the crack of lightening and the clap of thunder.

I see all of this in my mind’s eye at the bottom of the tub and I relax.

The shower rain sounds different in Los Angeles, or Virginia, or China, or Japan…but it always takes me to the same place.

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i know. it is only rock and roll. but i like it.

My band has been playing more often than not as of late. That’s not actually true, in retrospect…if we were playing more often than not, literally, that would be a hell of a lot of shows. Even so, with at least bi-weekly rehearsals and the few gigs we’ve been getting recently, we ARE playing a fair amount.

In fact, we have two shows this week, one of which was last night and the second of which is tomorrow.

It’s funny, I’ve not been playing music for people my whole life or anything, yet I don’t get at all nervous. I suppose if you count wind ensemble and marching band back in the day, I’ve done SOME live performing, but you can easily blend into the crowd in those situations; and, even in those instances where you can’t (marching band…where one errant trombone player out of step sticks out like an etc etc) you are at least surrounded by a built-in support group. What’s more, if you’re in marching band in high school there ain’t no one paying attention to you in the least.

Except your parents, who correctly assume that you walk on water. But I digress.

I don’t get nervous though I have noticed a few things:

– even though I’m the (not so good) singer I don’t talk to the crowd much between songs. I don’t have an issue with public speaking and have always felt comfortable doing so, I just don’t have much to SAY. “Sorry everyone” is the usual thing that comes to mind.

– I flub a lot of solos. Like I said, I don’t feel nervous, but I sometimes catch my hand shaking if I jump up the neck to bang out a solo. I think it’s adrenaline, though, as my voice doesn’t quaver and I feel at ease…it’s just my fingers don’t want to work.

– Time speeds up considerably. For instance, last night I remember going on stage, throwing a pick away at some point, and then saying thank you…all of which took about 20 seconds.

I sometimes wonder if I don’t get nervous because that’s just the way I am; or, if I don’t get nervous because I don’t think we’re very good so who gives a fuck? I suspect that it’s a little bit of both, really.

Either way: fun!

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artisitic something something

I struggle with artistic expression. I seem to have a lot of it…or rather, I seem to act like I have a lot of it, but in a lot of ways I don’t think I do at all. I pride myself on being a jack of all trades. I can draw decently, paint ok, write fairly well, have sporadic moments of inspired music creation, and take a pretty good photo…but am I GREAT at any of them? I tend to think not.

Which is fine. I consequently have a lot of hobbies.

I think to have true greatness (I’ve recently [as in just now] come to theorize) you must have focus. I either lack said focus or just don’t have enough interest in any one medium to devote all of my time to it. And I think that’s what it takes.

Also, having a day job is inconvenient to artistic growth.

I can see the evidence of this is my photos. Over the years, I’ve had flashes of minor brilliance, and they keep getting better over time. All this means to me, though, is that I need practice. In the same way a basketball players free throws get better with repetition, so do, perhaps, the creation of works by an artist.

This, to me, seems a bit tragic in a way. I’d rather the reality be that, struck by a divine light, I’d find myself furiously painting through the night as if possessed, the result of which is a masterwork. A switch is flipped and suddenly everything that comes out of my fingers brings tears of joy to anyone lucky enough to behold. I suppose this does happen, but not often.

It’s frustrating thinking of the possibility that the only thing keeping me (or anyone) from being truly great is the time to devote to the doing. So close, yet so far away.

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gay once meant happy?

I don’t give a lot of thought to gay rights. I don’t mean that as a criticism or a condemnation, it’s really just a matter of fact. It’s just not something I think about all that much, mostly because there’s such an obvious resolution: there should be no gay rights.


But then I continue: there should be no gay rights. There should be no straight rights. There should just be rights. Simple, no?

I have gay friends and colleagues…a few if I really think hard about it (it again not being something I often consider). In truth they are not close friends and colleagues, but that has little to do with their sexual orientation and everything to do with the vagaries of our lives and the way things wash out. I might just as easily say that I am not close friends with any Peruvians as the circumstances of that detail are in basics the same.

All of this prelude leads me up to this morning, tying my shoes in preparation for work, sitting on the couch in my living room with the TV turned to the news only vaguely holding my attention. A teaser for an upcoming report came on and flitted through my ear. “The state of ….voting on ….may allow gay marriage by the end of…”

I lifted my head only slightly, evening my knots. I hadn’t heard the particulars but I’d gotten the gist. Some state somewhere was on the verge of legalizing gay marriage. The newscaster sounded a little triumphant, as if it was another win for good. And it is.

But is it?

As I sat there, hands on knees and poised to stand, I was struck by an overwhelming feeling of sadness. Not sadness like depression, but sadness like when you see a high school football star 20 years past his prime and still wearing his letterman jacket, puffing out his chest. You shake your head with a slight smirk and think to yourself, “Now that’s just SAD.” And it was in this frame of mind that I turned off the TV and carried my thoughts with me to the car.

It IS sad…because it’s all just so silly. With everything else that goes on in the world, the starvation, the pollution, the killing and disease, THIS is what we as a society choose to spend more than even a second on? This is what there has ever once been heated debate over? But WHO CARES? Marry, don’t marry, whatever you want! Whatever anyone wants, why must we trouble ourselves with it? In a world as harsh as this one, shouldn’t anyone have the opportunity to be happy or not as they choose? It’s all just so little and SAD to even think about.

I already feel guilty for making as part of my justification, the fact that the world is harsh and life is filled with greater anguishes. Even without those true facts, the debate over gay rights is still so very vey sad and inconsequential.

Equal rights, good and bad, for everyone. End of story and just please don’t bother yourself with such trivialities any longer. Now go back unto the world and do something of consequence.

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