Wednesday, February 28, 2007


Went out to a buffet restaurant for dinner tonight with a friend. We have known each other for ten years this month so it was kind of like an anniversary celebration. He and I met at a buffet. We were sixteen year old bus boys. Now we meet up at a buffet every couple weeks. We eat three plates of food starting with salad and going on to meat, potatoes, shrimp and finally, icecream. After the eating we walk out to the parking lot holding our guts and breathing strenously through our mouths, and after chit-chating by our cars, say good bye. We speed away.

Those coming of age years were spent inside a buffet restaurant! We were socialized in a glutton hut--grew up there. Went on dates with coffee server girls who wore pleated lap aprons and floral print skirts. Collected paychecks and then blew them on car wax and fast food. Were promoted from bus boys to dishwashers, cooks to managers.

And I wonder how I would perceive life if I were socialized somewhere else, like the Gap or a malt shop--where there weren't four hundred pound guest reeking of sweat and farts demanding more roast beef.

Monday, February 19, 2007

What MTV could be

Where I'd like to go for vacation

The Sun

Boulavard Park at sunset. Dark purple clouds. The Sun, blinding, falling, obliterating the west. And people. People are watching the sun. A girl sits Indian style on a park bench smoking a cigarette, watching the sun. Couples leisurely stroll, arm and arm down the board walk, squinting watching the the sun. An old man with fishing lures glued to his hat, a photographer, a gang of teenage fashion bugs, all, watching the sun. I, bundled up in my pea coat, smoke coming from my fingers, am enthralled by the sun.

An older gentleman, walking past me, stops, looks at me, gestures at the sun, "There is hope after all, the sun is shinning." He's smiling

I'm walking back to my car and pass a young girl with curly hair. She is in her car. I notice her eyes: blue, translucent, deep, teary, her pupils black specks. Sun light is filling her eyes and spilling down her cheeks.

Eyes. Eyes and the sun, at the park.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Happy Valentines Day!

My brother is the best guy I know. I sure do love him.

He's a nice guy, an innocent guy. Treats women like gold and so far they've stomped on him. He's kind of seeing this girl lately. I ask him what he's doing for Valentines day. He looks at me blankly. "Dude you better do something!" I say. "I'm telling you as your older brother, make a card, something." He agrees.

An hour later he comes out of his room with this card he's been making, a painting of a woman on the ground with a chest full of arrows, bloodied, and cupid flitting in the air with an empty quiver. It is precious. A thing of genius. Should be hung in the Guggenheim. And I know right then, he's going to get his heart trampled again.

"No, no, this won't do. You need flowers. You need canned mushrooms and a hallmark card with a 19th century love poem printed in an exaggerated feminine flowing script font. You have to take her in your arms and pretend that your an old time movie star. Give her all those fantasies she was raised on as a girl. Be an asshole, be an intellectual assf@#*, but don't be nice, don't be innocent! Get a cheap hotel room and bring a video camera. That is what women want."

He looks worried. "But Jaleena is a nice girl."

"Well now there is a question for philosophical inquiry," I say. "How can you be certain of anything? Everyone projects niceness at first but underneath, aren't we all seething pools of lusts, desires, and lies?" I smile, "Don't listen to your bro, I'm just kidding around. Just be honest."

I love my bro. He is a nice guy. He is going to get destroyed.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Hag Betty at the Video Store

I am at the video store, strolling the aisle, already with two videos in my hand. There is this shrill valley girl voice booming from the middle of the store. I move in that direction to investigate. A girl about twenty, wearing make up, a college logo hoodie, and tight stylish jeans is scolding her boyfriend. "What would make you think that, Jimmy? Why would you say that. Why would he wear a black trench coat? Do you know?"

Jimmy looked dumb founded, pawing at the girl with pleading eyes.

"You don't know, do you. That was so offensive. Your so judgemental. Oh my God, a black trench coat. Your so judgemental!"

With calculation, she walked off. He followed her, grasping at her hands.

I'm looking at Jimmy, sending him psychic vibes, "get out Jimmy. For the love of God, get out while you can.

Drifting Away on Chuckanut Drive at Sun Set

I finished a great book a couple of days ago called A Heart Breaking Work of Staggering Genious. It was kind of a sad book about a self absorbed kid coming of age. The major theme was death. I just loved the pace of the book though.

So today I went to Barnes and Noble to find a new book. I went to the fiction section hopeing to find an exciting novel by someone young that would have the same pace and edge that AHBWSG had but with a bit more cheer.

I realize that I'd have to read every book in the book store and probably all the ones that don't even make it to the book store for what I am about to say to be true. But I haven't and I'm gonna speculate anyway. See, it seems to me that most of the literature and art that makes it to market these days all have similar themes, mostly of death and sex and race and, well, overcoming adversity through diverstity.

I took a senior writing seminar in college. The theme was "death and sex". That is what we spent nine weeks writing about and discussing. Death and sex.

What about life and love?

Long internal story short, I went to the fantasy section and found a couple good books about faerie land.

So I am driving home up Chuckanut drive and the sun is out and I am digging everything about the landscape and the light and Drift Away by Dobie Gray comes on the radio. This is what I'm talking about Dobie! I roll down the window and sing as loud as I can, drumming the steering wheel. Keep your self conscious modern art which highlights what is wrong with the world instead of what is right. Give me some of that old time rock and roll...speak to my soul!

Drift Away

Day after day I'm more confused
So I look for the light in the pouring rain
You know that's a game that I hate to lose
I'm feelin' the strain, ain't it a shame

Oh, give me the beat, boys, and free my soul
I wanna get lost in your rock and roll and drift away
Oh, give me the beat, boys, and free my soul
I wanna get lost in your rock and roll and drift away

Beginning to think that I'm wastin' time
I don't understand the things I do
The world outside looks so unkind
I'm countin' on you to carry me through

And when my mind is free
You know a melody can move me
And when I'm feelin' blue
The guitar's comin' through to soothe me
Thanks for the joy that you've given me
I want you to know I believe in your song
Rhythm and rhyme and harmony
You help me along makin' me strong

Saturday, February 10, 2007

The People on the Porch

I get out of the car with a bag of McDonald's in my hand. I see people on the porch. They look dim, almost green under the porch lamp. I clutch my bag of McDondald's with a clear resolve, to get inside, to devour my tasteless, oh so greasy quarter pounders. This is my secret, my guilty little secret. Junk food. And I know, I just know that they will say something negative about McDonald's, about multi-national corporations, my support of western capitalism. Greed, they'll say. Death and greed...and deforestation. I just want to eat, no inhale, my junk food in peace. This is my reward. I deserve this. I work.

I get up on the porch. They start singing happy birthday. I grin bashfully. Aw, thanks, I say. I say hello and thanks. They smile, give me a gift even--a book about Narnia.

"What's that in your hand?" Here it comes, yep, I knew it. "Is that McDonald's?"

"Yes. Yes, it is."

"You want to see your next birthday?"


"You won't if you keep eating that stuff!" After watching Super Size Me, they are convinced that french fries can't be digested, that they just sit there in your bowls leaking saturated fat directly into the blood stream.

"You son of a beep," I say, beeping out the bitch part, laughing, "you have to have a cause, don't you."

I make my way into the lobby, to my front door. Freedom. I hear thier voices receding, talking about, sure enough, the rain forests.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Generation Y

We're all of us sitting in the hot tub, skin wrinkled, pruned. Conversation hasn't stopped for three hours which amazes me, how being submerged in hot water together can inspire this much talking in people who talk to each other everyday. Are we saying anything new? A new girl shows up, a friend of a friend, wearing a cast on her right arm from her fingers to her shoulder. She gets in, hanging her arm over the edge.

Beth, having had a bit to much wine, says something that scares me if only because I have thought it before, that our house, is like a sitcom and we are the main characters. We laugh. A familiar group laugh. A laugh track.

This is the last season. We are all moving away next year. The show isn't exciting anymore. We've tackled all the cliche struggles of youth. The drugs, the breakups, the political activism, demonstrating in the streets, discovering our sexuality. We are getting to old. The ratings are down. I imagine getting the script for the series finale. The apartment will be empty. No furniture. White patches on the walls where the pictures used to be. And at the very end, I'll be the last one out, I'll pause before hitting the light switch. I'll turn around, look at the emptiness. It will be real serious. No laugh track. No music. And then I'll turn back around and step through the door, locking it behind me.

I look up, through the steam at the new girl. Why is she new? She's just a person. But maybe she's like the ensigns on Star Trek, who die at the end on the away mission to the planet. I've met countless characters like her over the years but they don't last long. Whether a minor character down at the Reagal Beagle (from Three's company) or a love interest that lasts two seasons, they've all been written off the show. Just us main characters left. In a hot tub. Job promotions, marriages, inheritance money, sick uncles, just waiting to call us away, out that door, our series canceled.

Sunday, February 04, 2007


The old men at work call me The Writer. They call my partner Improve because he is a improve actor on the weekends. The temp, who proudly refers to himself as The Reverend, they call Meatloaf.

Building ideas with other people in conversation is what I crave. When they say yes, and in addition..., instead of, yeah, yep, uh huh.

I haven't fully gotten over eating frozen Lasagna for Christmas dinner. A man on the radio last night added something substantial to my sullen feeling. He said that intention has a physical impact on food. That every culture, religious or secular, has a ritual, they bless their meal, say a prayer, give a toast. Mom's chicken soup heals the heart unlike a can of Campbell’s soup. It's true. There is much joy at a potluck but a lot less at the China Buffet.

My friend yesterday, greeted me on the porch after work. Have a beer, some pizza. I told her about the soup thing and she said, yes and in addition have you read Like Water for Chocolate? I have. Remember in that book, the main character is in love with the man who is to marry her sister, and she has to bake the wedding cake and she cries the whole time and her tears mix with the batter? When the cake is served at the reception it brings violent sadness upon the whole party.

Yes! Thank you.

For some inexplicable reason my brother and I are very poor. I made a meat loaf the other night, when the poverty situation called for creativity not utter starvation. I found a bag of freezer-burned hamburger patties in the freezer and a bottle of ketchup in the fridge. I microwaved the patties to thaw them out and kneaded the whole lump in an attempt to create ground beef. It didn't work like I dreamed but I baked it non the less, with ketchup on top. How would that meal effect a wedding party?

I reminisced with my brother the other night, "A year ago I was living the fat life of a college student. Long walks on the beach in the middle of the day, my only job writing fanciful stories to share with my classmates, a beautiful girlfriend, financial aide!." He said, "Yeah, yep, dude, I have been poor and single for four years! Curse this city!" We laughed...actually...we were eating that meatloaf.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Like Sand Through the Hour Glass...

Soul, Man

Most of the time I feel that language is a feeble way of expressing anything meaningful. To fully express one moment of feeling I would have to write a volume of poetry bound in a book to heavy to lift, construct a strand of DNA as wide as the galaxy and as complex as a rainforest and all the creatures there in. Or perhaps it is best to maximize the economy of language. Efficiency. Concision. Minimalism. A haiku that encapsulates the universe.


Today at work, my workmates and I were subjected to this thing that I can't begin to explain. It seemed wrong on so many levels. It would be better to just leave it alone, print out a resume on thick pulpy paper filled with catch phrases like "team builder", strut down to Seattle wearing kakis from Banana Republic, hand the resume to a cute receptionist behind a large glass desk, smile big--get a new job. Play softball on the weekends with my professional co-workers. But I can't leave it alone. It can't be written about or run away from, only widdled at from the edges with a pen.

A position for "Project Manager" came up in the agency I work for. Today, like I began to say, my workmates and I attended a company wide new age interview. Six applicants sat before our entire company at the front of a conference room we reserved at the public library. These six people nervously and almost with shame told of their heroic pasts and brilliant accomplishments. Self shaped commodities, they packaged themselves for our consumption. There was even a banquet table offering little palm size chicken salad sandwiches and platters of soft chewy cookies. There's nothing wrong with free food and I am not even going to say this subversive job interviewing technique was wrong but it defiantly lacked harmony--soul.

When I got back to the shop at the end of the day my coworkers, all good working men in their mid fifties, had a good deal to say about the whole episode. Most of it involved laughter and pity for the poor saps paraded in front of us as we ate our sandwiches, like popcorn at the cinema.

I'm trying to figure out a proper analogy for the forces I see at work here. It might be something like this. My job has a function. Everyone else's job in my company has a function. We all satisfy a need in the agency. We are support beams in a structure. The agency is the structure. Other agencies might be shaped like a symphony hall or a palace or even the Jimmy Hendrix Museum but ours, as far as I can tell, like most government agencies, is bloated and boring. A box structure made out of aluminum siding. But this new age interview was an attempt to cover up the aluminum siding with a facade. A Lattice covered with climbing flowering vines. The disharmony I felt in the room was that shadowy creature of superficiality, the world of appearance, of catch phrases.Like I said, I can only widdle away from the edges.

Driving home from work, passing by the harbor, the paper mill and the refineries, past all those tin warehouses, I felt like I was moving through a Pink Floyd album cover. Wish you Were Here. Animals. I was driving through Detroit in the 70's. The sun was setting creating blue shadows next to orange patches of light. I felt a hope swell in my heart under my dirty work clothes and stocking cap as this song played on the radio: “Come on people now, smile on your brother, everybody get together try to love one another right now.”

I pulled off the road, got out of the car with my camera and pointed it towards harmony.