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Cryptic, Dubious, Opaque, Tenebrous...

Sunday, February 26
There are important things that I want to talk about – but not here, because it never seems like the right place to voice them. Too many people say “I’m sorry,” and it always manages to come out “I pity you.” Too many people try to fix it, as if to say their experiences and duct tape were interchangeable. Too many people give me statistics that are supposed to make me feel better – how does one feel better through high percentages? Too many people give me their perspective, because mine doesn’t seem fitting because “it’s too sensitive.” As if caring too much were criminal or least yet, vulgar.

So we’re left with all the unimportant things to tend to, because there is still a sense of privacy. So we’re here to talk about politics and pop culture, unsung ambition, criticisms that we’d never have the audacity to say in person, that fuck of last week that wronged us, and finally, bohemian interpretation of some daily observation fused with pseudo-eccentric commentary that make us all sound deeper, more soulful, more intelligent than we actually are – but here I am, not doing anything different that breaks that mold.

Venting, because most of my friends are either attached to my liquor, my sense of humor, or my work – when they see this side of me, they look around wondering when the person they thought they knew would be coming back into the room.


"Because in the end, you have always forgiven me. Not because you’re weak spirited or non-confrontational, but because you knew it wasn’t me saying those words – it was my frustration. You’re pragmatic like that, understanding that there are always more important matters than pride to invest our energy and time towards."

Tran and the Wolf

Tuesday, February 21
I looked over the summary of “The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of the Pickup Artist” a few weeks ago when you mentioned it on your “away message,” so I know it’s you because I’m nosey like you are. I also thought it might be a nice gag gift for a friend who has what I call “Coleco Game,” or out-of-date game. But it’s not that I have problems finding or meeting women, it’s the longevity of it – 2 to 3 weeks then off to someone new. It is exhausting having to be charming and witty for such a long time, I like to extend myself to my other Seven Dwarf alter egos: Dumby, Cranky, and Don’t Talk to Me, ESPN is on.

But with that said, it leads me to a story. When the guys and I went out to the bars, KC said, “It’s nice to look at the scenery and not get smacked for it.” KC has a live-in, pregnant girlfriend. And sometimes he lives to listen to a story about one of my outings. He said to me, “It must be great being out there, seeing all those girls.”

I told him, no, and he didn’t understand so I told him my theory, “KC, you’re the house dog. You get sit in front of a nice warm fire, occasionally you play fetch to entertain your owner, but you do it, because every night you get to eat Alpo. It might be the same meal, you might even get bored of it from time to time, but you’ll never go hungry. I on the other hand am a wolf. I live in the cold, bleak world. I make my home in caves and the hollows of trees. I roam constantly, looking for food. Sometimes I eat squirrel, wild turkey, possum, raccoons, deer, and sometimes even a pig. Yes, I have the variety in my diet, but I don’t eat every night. Deep down I want to be like you, that Alpo dog – warm with a full belly, except I don’t want my Alpo pregnant flavored – that’s why I Saran Wrap my food.”

So About This Italian Woman

Monday, February 20
When we first met – I’ll be honest, I was attracted to her. She had a look and an attitude that I liked, that I’m usually attracted to – there’s a strength that I love about Italian women. But I didn’t know how to approach her. I felt a bit invisible around her. So I was actually a little nervous and excited when we did have a chance to go out and catch a drink as group. It was a chance for us to finally talk.

Then after the outing, on the drive home, I called her and then we continued our talk, and then when I got home we still continued to talk, but when we saw each other the next day it was as if the long conversation hadn’t happened. We were polite to one another, and then weeks later, when we went out again with a group of people – we talked on the phone up until the moment she came to the bar. I’ll have to admit that I’m a better conversationalist on the phone or through letters than I am in person, due to the fact that I won’t ever talk the person that I like in public. There’s something vulnerable about the idea of the world knowing you care or even are attracted to a person. Maybe I’m like LR in that regard, that I don’t like everyone up in “my business.”

But when she came to the bar, she talked to my friends and flirted with another guy [who had a girlfriend]. And then when everyone went home, it was just her and I – she was drunk and I was the designated driver for a couple people. So I told her that I’d stay, and I took her to a local 24–hour diner to sober up, but she couldn’t eat or drink anything. So I said, “I do live around the corner, and I have a couch that you could sleep it off on – if you’re interested?” I had no intentions, because drunk women when you're sober aren't hot. She came back home with me, and on the way home I had to stop so she could vomit – it sounded like 2-liter bottles being broken over West Boulevard.

I opened the door and she went straight to the bathroom, and she rested there for half an hour before I asked her if she was all right. She said she was, but needed a blanket and pillow. I opened the door and there she was sleeping on my bathroom rug by my toilet. I let her stay in there the entire night. The next morning, she woke up and we tried to make light of it, but even then – it was still uncomfortable. It’s as if friendship just won’t bend that way, it’s been left out in the cold for too long and these outings never seem long enough to thaw it out – even over the course of a whole night.

She and I still didn’t speak, and it took some time before we could look at each other again. And when we did, we talked the way strangers do – politely and deliberately, and always minding where the line is. Then on Friday, she came out with my friends again. She talked to one guy, then another, both of which are committed and their significant others are expecting, and I was talking to another woman – CG, she and I met a few months ago, and we talked on the phone and on email, but for the life of me – I couldn’t remember what she looked like, and I decided to believe that she was attractive the last time I saw her, and I told myself that she must still be – I think.

But when I talked to CG, then to the black woman who accused me of wanting to touch her ass and her smiling as if it were all right for me to want to touch her ass [later on from our common friend I learned she had the yellow fever], then the vomit woman, who just moments ago said that I was sore because I wanted to score with her the night she got sick, decided to make an off color statement that embarrassed me in front of the black woman. I said something witty, something that saved face before I walked away.

My friend BT says that she might like me. She also says that maybe she acted that way because I’m so distant and cold, and her, being an attractive woman isn’t comfortable being treated that way. And she might like that too. BT also said that said person might gravitate towards men in commitments because they're safe. BT had a lot of good points, but the one thing that still sticks in my mind is that I never understand women – when I treat them horribly, neglect them, blatantly flirt with other women in front of them, they suddenly care for me. But when I’m attentive, romantic, and try to communicate everything that I’m thinking – I’m shunned.

I’m going to be 30 this year, and with all of these years under my belt, candor is the only thing that I look for; the ability to speak frankly and sincerely, something more eloquent, intelligent than those that are merely blunt. A toddler who still shits him[her]self has that ability – what I’m looking for is a bit more refined.

Sunday

Sunday, February 19
A young man talked about killing his girlfriend, because she was going out with a male friend. I’m not sure if it was a date. I’m not sure if he actually owned the guns he talked about cleaning the night before. I’m not sure why he wanted to tell me that she had a miscarriage the next week. I don’t know why he wanted my advice about giving or not giving her a Valentine’s Day gift. I’m not sure what I said that drove him to write that poem for her – which was actually good. All I am sure of is that he is calmer than he was the day before.

Another young woman apologized for not making it in. Her grandmother and her auntie were evicted from their home, and all their things were out on the street. So she spent the entire night moving furniture, clothes, and knickknacks downstairs into an Eclipse and a Cutlass. They started at 6PM and finished about 5AM. She told me, “I’m sorry but I just had to get some sleep.” I told her it was all right. But it was the wrong word – nothing was right. Five people had to live in a two bedroom house. Couches had to be beds, beds had to be shared, and what little privacy had also vacated.

There were days when I used to say the right things all the time. I would have made a great politician or lawyer. But these days, I try to not to say things that will make the day even worse, nothing aggravating, irritating, or irrelevant – nothing that stokes the fire. And with that said, it leaves very little to say – is there advice that you can give to people in these situations? They sure as hell didn’t tell me what to say at Bowling Green State University or Baldwin Wallace. When I met up with other teachers and principals, they were impotent, and just send me off to someone else that still had no answers. I remember as a child, I’d look up to adults because somehow they knew the right answers, but now, as an adult, I understand that they are all treading water like the rest of us – hoping to just stay afloat.

Because I'm a Romantic

Tuesday, February 14
As prophesized by my calendar, “The Blood Letting” day is upon us. Hallmark, Tiffany’s, and Godiva, “The Trinity,” will rain on us with the fiery of a thousand platinum credit cards, and at the end there will be two flickering candles, an obscenely large bundle of roses that are already beginning to wilt, a bill for an overpriced dinner that was too small and dry, and bad champagne that will be the cause of your annoying hangover tomorrow. I hope the blow job and the drunk lay were worth it. Happy Valentine’s Day.

XOXO
Tran

Spike Lee in Mississippi?

Monday, February 13
KN called and left me a message, “Get back to me, because I have to get this off of my chest.” When I called her back, she told me that she was part of an audience in which Spike Lee was the guest speaker. And there was a sense of pride in her voice when she told me about the many, great things said and discussed between Spike Lee and the Ole Miss students.

Lee said that rap culture has perpetuated a cult of violence, drug use, disrespect to women and ignorance among a staggering portion of young blacks. He encouraged students to stay focused, saying that the gangster mentality portrayed in the media is not only a distraction but also plays on the old stereotypes associated with the minstrel show era.

“Back then it was black paint and red lipstick,” Lee said. “Fast forward to today, and it’s gold on your neck and gold on your teeth. That’s a spit in the face. You have to be strong. Don’t cave in to that type of ignorant thinking. This ‘gangsta’ obsession is madness. Thinking like that is genocide.”

In his UM address, he talked about how his company, 40 Acres and a Mule Filmworks, produces at least one film a year. Upcoming releases include a documentary entitled “When the Levees Broke,” which examines the lives of the New Orleans residents impacted by Hurricane Katrina. The documentary is scheduled to be released in August, the one-year anniversary of the storm.

“This documentary has been difficult to make,” Lee said. "The devastation is unimaginable. It looks like a hundred nuclear bombs were dropped on the Ninth Ward. It's heartbreaking."

Lee remarked on Mississippi’s progress and commended the University for removing the Confederate flag from campus, but he said more needs to be done on what he considers symbols of oppression. “We have to do something about that state flag,” he said. “I know people say its representative of history. Well, so is the swastika.”

But in the middle of a discussion between a black film maker, born and bred from Brooklyn, and Ole Miss students, whose state flag still bares the confederate emblem, about the in betterment and enlightenment of African-Americans, a young white student said, “What do you think of the use of the N-word?” But he didn’t say the N-word – he actually said the word ‘Nigger.’ KN said that there was a sense of tension in the room, she witnessed the black and white students angry at the blatant disrespect, insulted by the man’s audacity, but on KN’s side, she noticed an elderly black woman readjusting her grip, tightening her hold on her cane. She could her say, “The nerve on that boy, saying that to Mr. Lee.”

At that point, it might have been easy for Spike Lee to get an angry or have the African-Americans riot on the man. Moments like this spark up petty emotions in even the best of us, but Spike Lee took advantage of this moment, and educated the young man, saying, “It’s my belief that some people don’t have the right to use that particular word, because they don’t understand its significance.” The young man, embarrassed, then asked him what made him want to make ‘Hoop Dreams,’ which he didn’t make or was affiliated with in any matter.

I said, “I think it was a joke. Some guy told his friend, I bet you 20 dollars that you can’t say the word ‘Nigger’ to Spike Lee.” KN said that she doesn’t doubt it. I asked her how the crowd reacted to the man after the guest lecture was done, and she said, “They were angry, but I think he had left before the show was over. I wouldn’t be surprised if security escorted him out.” I asked her how she felt about it, and she told me, “I just want to write Spike Lee and apologize for the existence of dumb white people.”

This Was Just a Wednesday

Thursday, February 9
I was helping a couple of students on their writing assignment, and I asked them to draw on their own experiences, so in order to help stimulate their memories – I’d ask them to tell me a story about their mother, father, etc.

One student told me about how his uncle hated him, because he and his cousin would stay up late and play video games high. Then they’d raid the fridge, and his cousin would cook pancakes while they ate fried chicken at 3 in the morning. When I asked him about his cousin now, he told me he was locked up because he and his best friend robbed a liquor store at gunpoint while high. The gun jammed, and when his friend checked the gun barrel, it went off in his chest. He was charged in the accidental murder of his best friend. I asked him if he still keeps in contact with that cousin, and he said that they do. He writes and they talked two weeks ago, but he hadn’t seen him in to years because he’s not 18 yet.

Another student told me how she was waiting for her mother to be released. She hadn’t seen her mother since she was 7, and she was incarcerated for murder. She worked at a restaurant and then stabbed a customer. She told me how angry she once was at her mother, but the church allowed her to let it go – she’s happier than she was then. At one time she said she hated her mother for not being more responsible, because she had a child, but at the same time she learned to let go of her anger because she realized she had what other kids in the building or the area didn’t have – a second chance to happy family.

When I was done talking to her, I politely excused myself because I almost started crying in the class.

Breaking Bread with the Enemy [Pittsburgh]

Wednesday, February 8
A friend CK asked me if I’d be interested in joining her rugby team for their fundraiser – all you can drink domestic drafts, all you can eat wings and pizza for 20 dollars for the Super Bowl. Normally, I’d say no, because I actually like watching the game, but since I neither gave a shit about the Steelers nor the Seahawks, the idea then turned – maybe I can drink myself from remembering this Super Bowl.

SIDE NOTE: If you’re not from Cleveland, you can’t understand the animosity between the Steelers and the Browns. They hate us, we hate them more. They’re somebody you have to hate, like the Yankees, the Lakers, Hanson’s “Um Bop” song, people that sing along to Creed, and George W. Bush. So then it dawned on me – let’s make this fun. I was going to make shirts that attack the literate Steeler Fan. I was going to make shirts that read the following, and again if you don’t understand sports and/or Cleveland Mythos maybe you should stop reading. But the shirts were going to say:

1) Ben Roethlisberger’s mother calls him Ben, but she calls me Papi
- Inspired by my Puerto Rican brethren
2) Hey Jerome, my kid likes to ride the short bus too
- But I’m going to miss saying, “Run Big Fat Black Man, Run.” We all will.
3) Polamalu, great football player, bad lay

- It was intended for my friend CK to wear, because her hatred stems almost as deep, mine is just older. And when a woman can still consider Bernie Kosar athletic knowing that he runs like the gay black guy from “Revenge of the Nerds,” it shows that she’s compassionate, delusional, and overwhelmed with Cleveland Pride.

But it didn’t happen – it would have cost 50 dollars per shirt, and I’m no pimp with ho’s and cash to spare. So I went to the game with a couple of my friends, met some of the Cleveland Rugby team, and watched the game next to a group of the rowdy Steeler Fans. We became friends, and when the Steelers did well they’d talk shit. When the Seahawks did well, I talked about how I sexually violated one of their family members. It was a good time, surprisingly, because I never thought I’d be surrounded by so many strangers and be so content.


Like I said before, conversation, good conversation at it’s core is what I looking for these days. At the end of the night, one of the Steeler Fans and I did a shot [it was more or less passed on to me because CK looked done]. We toasted to a good night, good football, and blessing on the new season, and my friend drove me home and then I slept off as much of the booze as I could before work the next day.

SIDE NOTE: I bounced back like a pimp

So She Was Peruvian

Tuesday, February 7
When the snow hit Saturday, my friend [who will remain nameless] and I decided to go to a strip club.

SIDE NOTE: Save all your feminism or that’s yucky or it’s degrading or how can you get enjoyment out of that comments for someone who fucking cares. My minor was Women Studies, I don’t want to hear it – I already have a degree in it.

Back to the story – our friend was a bouncer or security at this venue, and he and I first wanted to see what place would hire him and secondly just to see him at work, and when I walked in – I said, “So if I tore all the walls down, put a stage, a bar, some lights, and a pole in my living room – this is what my house would look like as a strip club. Good to know.” It was where cocaine and crystal meth addicts go to curl up on cold winter nights. The best part was that it looked like all the strippers brought their boyfriends to work with them, and my friend and I stayed for about an hour and then decided to find something a bit more upscale.

So we said our good-byes and went down the street, and then found something more our speed. More room, prettier girls, and the chairs were much more comfortable. I’m actually pretty picky about letting a stripper sit down next to me, but then my friend wasn’t. They talked and then I asked him – I think I recognize that girl on the stage. “How,” he asked.

FLASHBACK: About two months ago, he and I plus a couple more guys went to a club downtown – their idea in order to relax before the holiday break, and when I was there I had an hour conversation with a stripper who said her family was from South America [Peru]. We talked about writing, authors, and I was pretty intrigued by her. I left her a list of authors she should read and what she might want to check out if she ever wants to get published. No number on my part though.

”How,” he asked. I said, “Remember when I was talking to that stripper in Downtown about writing for about an hour?” He couldn’t believe it, and neither did I, so I went up to the stage and she danced for a dollar – the power of a dollar bill. It's stronger than cheese. And then I asked her and she, “That’s you?” We sat down and had another talk, but then it kind of got weird because she’s got to go out and make that money. This is her job and all. But like I said, it takes a lot for me to handle a woman just sitting down next to me, conversation moves me. It's my chicken soup for the soul, and I'll have to admit there's something strangely attractive about a woman that talks openly about sex. All the tough questions are already answered and there's nothing left on the table that's taboo.

The list of women that jotted down the other week was just kind of a refresher of what is out there, what I've seen, and I’m really now understanding the importance of good conversation. I’ll be honest – a pretty face catches my eye. It does for all men. It’s our vanity. We want a nice house that everybody wants. We want a nice car that everyone wants to drive. And we want a nice woman that everyone wants to fuck. We’re dogs like that – but the face, the figure, and the fanny can only hold a man’s attention span for so long [like that alliteration, I know you did]. But good conversation, good hard laughing, good communication – with girls and even with guys, that’s what made this past weekend great. I’ll embrace this for now, because 8 hours later I might need to choke a bitch for ruining my weekend buzz.

Sorry I Drunk Texted You

Sunday, February 5
How to measure how bad a week you’ve had – take the number of drunk dials and text messages you sent, and times that with how many days of the week there are. For instance a normal person’s might begin on let’s say – Thursday or even Friday, and then be drunk all weekend and that number would be three or four, but in my case they started Wednesday, and that day began with the carry over from Tuesday.

I went to a seminar that told me, “When students attack you verbally – don’t take it personal.” My co-worker has a large note in her office that reads, “Don’t take it personal.” Kristalyn said, “David, you take things too personally.” And I do – I can’t help it, but when multiple students start telling me that they hate me – it starts to compound on you on a personal level. One student came in late, and I refused to let him go to his other class and trying to tell a large black kid who’s spent most of his adolescence in a detention home is not easy, especially when you don’t come up to his shoulder. Then he whined and said he wanted change teachers, because he didn’t like me – fine, I can deal with that.

Then during my English class, which happens in a class outside of my normal classroom, three students decided to walk past my room and pound on the wall – two of them I sent back to their room by using the word suspension. One stepped outside the building and when I called for him, he continued and left – ignoring me. When he came back he and I had a talk about ignoring people. I said, “It’s not the fact that you left the building that irritates me, it’s the fact that you ignored me when we both know that you heard me. Now how would you feel if you needed help and then I just ignored you in the classroom? I’m a person about respect, and if you don’t show it – you in turn aren’t owed it. Do I make myself clear?” He and I are on better terms now. And that night was capped off with a Cavalier game. They played New Jersey that night.

The next day might not have been worse, but it felt worse. A student came in [he was one of the two that I sent back to the classroom] and began searching his body for something he had lost. This is inner-city Cleveland, the kid has to be looking for his stash, which was what it turned out to be. He tries to leave the building and again I call him back, and then during the break when I didn’t see him – I went to the bus stop and there he was. I called him back in and then he started to complain even more. Most people deal with students for 45 to 50 minutes and wash their hands of them, but I have him for 3 hours. Days like this make me think that murder is all right – it’s not that I don’t have patience, but it’s the fact that he has worn down all that I had left. He’s young, immature, and everything that he is does is unnerving. Is it wrong to want to give up on a person? Anyway, at this point I still haven’t raised my voice – then he decides to move to another desk even though we have a seating chart designed for the shear fact that he just won’t shut the fuck up. I tell him to move and this is the straw that broke the camel’s back – he decides to say, “Yo, why jocking me, are you a fucking faggott or something?!” And on that note he came out of the classroom with me, and he and I had some hard words – no swearing but direct understanding that I’m not one of his friends, his boys, or whoever in his life that supposedly cares for him. That I was his teacher and if he wants to proceed down this road, I can just easily wash my hands of him and let all the other teachers in the room handle his questions [all of which are already tired of his antics].

It’s not the word faggott that angered me. It’s not the inner-city that bothers me. It’s dealing with a generation that respects nothing. There isn’t a thing in this world that is sacred, and because of that everyday with them is a fight to make them a descent human being. Of course this isn’t a statement that condemns every young person – this is just me venting, this is me wondering how I can manage another few months of this emotional and mental beat down. One person said, “I can’t do what you do.” And I told her, not many people can – that’s why so many of us quit. But on the other hand – this is where the really good teachers should be. It’s where they’re needed. But it’s also a place that ages you years in a matter of months.


NOTE: The Good Girl, thanks for the comments but I was in the middle of revamping the post so it got deleted but it was emailed. If you want to repost that'd be great. And thanks for the empathy.

I Do This Under Protest

Saturday, February 4
Dear Mississippian Low-Lander,

Just because you tag me doesn't me that I'm compelled to fill out any dumb questionaire about who I am. My confidence, my inner self is stronger than any internet promise or favor. That's a lot to ask of person, that is a lot to expect from a person and quite frankly I'm offended by your audacity. But I'll do it just this one time, but understand that I'm doing this under protest that these things are lame.

[4 jobs in your life]
Substitute Teacher
Real Teacher for the Hood
Paint Salesman
Suncoast Sales Associate

[4 movies you could watch over and over]
The Mask of Zorro
The Hulk
Old School
Serendipity [Kate Beckinsale makes it all better no matter what you say]

[4 tv shows you love to watch]
Smallville
Sportscenter [ESPN]
Celebrity Fit Club
PTI [Pardon the Interruption: ESPN]

[4 places you have lived]
Chicago, Illinois
Cleveland, Ohio
Scottsdale, Arizona
Bowling Green, Ohio

[4 places you have been on vacation]
Newark, New Jersey

New York City, New York
Washington D.C.
Houston, Texas

[4 websites you visit daily]
myspace.com
nfl.com
cnn.com
espn.com

[4 of your favorite foods]
Egg pie [don’t ask you’ll just be more afraid of me]
Grilled chicken [dark meat, you all can keep your breast meat]
West Side sausages [with sauerkraut]
Rice [well it’s true]

[4 places you’d rather be right now]
Santa Monica Pier in the summer
Lincoln Park during late spring
At Boo Long for some dim sum
Somewhere that the snow can’t reach me


[4 bloggers you are tagging]
Mindbomber
C. King LJ
Barbaric Yawp
Eostre