Nothing Special, Really

Monday, July 30, 2007

Never Leave On A Miss


That wasn't the sound I was hoping to hear, but at least it was a sound.

The first shot didn't even hit the rim.

It's 8pm on a Wednesday night. I'm not home, but I'm at the next closest thing.

A basketball court.


5 shots in, and I still haven't made a jumper. My jump shot. The sole survivor of a talent that I never realized. They say when you start getting older, your hearing is the first to go. I'm pretty sure your jump shot is the last.

Speaking of hearing...


Ah, that familiar sound. I could fall asleep to the sounds of sneakers squeaking, the echo of the ball bouncing in an empty gym, and that swish. When rubber meets nylon, coming together to create a gentle symphony. Everytime I hear that sound, I can't help but go back to a simpler, easier time.


No, that's not it! I step back, behind the 3-point line. Not the college one either. The NBA line. The manly line.


I'm back in 6th grade. I'm still learning how to play. I shoot like I'm throwing a baseball, overhanded throws to the hoop. I'm always the last one picked. I have to shoot better. I start shooting two handed. It's still pretty bad, but it's better.


7th grade. I'm on the bench of the C Team. I'm only here because, for 8th grade & below, there's no cuts. So they keep making teams until everyone is on one. I score 2 points the whole season.


It's summer, between 7th & 8th Grade. I'm at Coach Hughes summer basketball camp, run by the school district. You're supposed to pay to attend, but coach has taken a liking to me, so I get to stay. I take the drills seriously. I'm able to dribble behind the back. My shot is so much better. Left hand perpendicular, ball resting on fingertips. I could marry my shot, it's so beautiful right now.


8th grade, lunch time. I've got a nickname now, "Handyman". After the Damon Wayans character on In Living Color, because of where my left hand rests when I'm dribbling up the court. It's meant to make fun of me, but I don't care. I can still rain threes from anywhere, and now, I can pass, too. I'm on the low block, 2 on 1, when someone lobs it to me. I'm not even looking at the basket, yet I know I have a teammate underneath it. As soon as I feel the ball hit my fingertips, I flick it away, towards the basket. No one saw that coming. Not from "Handyman".


Still 8th grade. I'm on the B team now, still holding down the bench. Our opponents have two teams, so our coach breaks us up into two groups. Finally, some playing time. I end up taking over the game. 22 points, 4-5 from 3-point range. 8 rebounds, 5 assists, and couple of steals. I was a man possessed. From that point on, I started every game for the B team.


9th grade. Freshman tryouts. Final cuts. It doesn't matter that the only reason I made it this far is because I took so long to get my physical. Coach likes me. He knows that I'm a shooter and a hustler, despite being the fat kid. He's calling out plays, designed for me. I setup on the baseline and roll towards the pass. Jump. Flick. Swish. I've come a long way since the baseball shots. But not far enough. The team is stacked, and I'm still cut. I stick around as the waterboy, hoping that I'm needed in case of emergency. We go 17-0 and finish as city champs. You can see me in the team picture - the only one not in uniform.


I wake up. I'm back on the court at Discovery Park. I want to go back. I keep shooting.


I'm on the same court, last year. Taking my girlfriend on, one-on-one. She's no match for my skills, but she gets the upper hand in the end, when she's back at home sitting on the couch, and I'm laying down, writhing in pain because I pulled a back muscle.


I'm at the Bellevue Community College gym, playing in a recreational league. I figure I'll get about 12-15 minutes of time, since it's the first time I've played in over a year. Instead, I'm forced to run the entire game since I end up being the 5th player. After 2 minutes, I can't make it down the court anymore, so I stay back and play what little defense I can muster. My only points come from free throws, and I can only get one down at that. I'm tired, I'm sore, and my back's acting up again. I'm only 28.

Back at the park, I feel the back starting to tweak again. It's time to go home, but you can't leave on a miss. So I take a couple of steps back. Let's see if I still got my range. Not just NBA range. Dan Majerle range. Ray Allen range.

26 feet back. Elbow raised. Release at peak.

I'm on my driveway at home. Neighborhood kids come by to play, but you can't beat me on my court. I hit baseline shots like they're layups. I even throw in a couple of hook shots. From 22 feet away.


Still on my driveway. Just got back from a camping trip, only to find out Magic Johnson has the HIV virus. I'm a Suns fan, so I hate the Lakers, but I'm still depressed about it. I close my eyes and say a prayer for Magic, then hoist up a free-throw.


Driveway again. Numerous points in time. I've got a crush on someone. I don't ask them out. I don't try to talk to them or flirt with them. I've got a different system. If I make this shot, then they'll marry me. Simple as that.

OK, not this shot, the next shot.

Wait, I mean this one. Those other ones didn't count.

No, this one.

Kidding..I meant this one.


Monday, July 16, 2007

Hooray! It's Monday!

I got slammed with projects this week. 4 new projects. I really feel like this a make or break time for me. I screw this up, and I'm probably looking for a new job within a couple of months. Pass this test, and I get to keep my job for another couple of months.

That doesn't mean I don't have time to rant, though. It's only 9:30, but I already have a couple of things to rant about.

Today's first rant is about bus riders. Specifically in the Ride-Free area. For those that don't know, the Seattle bus system is pretty fabulous. Plenty of stops, plenty of routes, and timely buses. And, from 6am to 7pm, riding anywhere in downtown is free.

What I see pretty frequently is an abuse of the Ride-Free area, or better put, a general laziness. All the time, I see people get on at one stop, and get off at the NEXT FUCKING STOP! A two block ride, and we're not talking huge blocks either. It's maybe, at best, a 6 minute walk.

I understand, for some, that's a significant walk. If you've got health problems or you're carrying a baby or it's 90 something degrees out or your tranfer bus is going to be at your new stop in less time than it takes to walk, you're exempt from this rant. But I see too many people doing this on a regular basis our of pure laziness. It's 60 something degrees at 8am in the morning, and you can't find it in yourself to walk two blocks? Trust me, I know laziness when I see. We know our own, yet even I am not THAT lazy. It's rediculous.

The other thing that's got me worked up today is people who don't know how to use Microsoft Excel. Not everyone knows how to, and that's OK. My parents probably don't know how to use it, and that's fine, they probably don't need to. The cashier at McDonald's might now, and that's OK.

But how the fuck does someone have an office job these days and not know basic Excel skills? I've already got two requests today to resend a report I ran for someone, but resend it in alpha order. Sort it alphabetically.

Seriously? You can't do this yourself?


That's it. It takes more energy to type out the email asking me to do this for you than it does to do it yourself!

I am going to slam my head into my monitor repeatedly now.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

A Day At My Job

On the way to the restroom today, I had some interesting ideas for a blog today. Instead, I've decided to compile all of those ideas and do a running diary of my life today. It's not that today is special or anything, but it's a way to keep me from actually doing my work.

9:30am - rolled into work late today. I had a hard time getting up and decided to sleep in. Plus, the kitten was being extra cute today, and it was hard getting out of bed with that little bugger laying next to me.

9:38am - My boss remarks "Hey, you actually made it!" I give her the excuse of not being able to fall asleep until 5am (false). I explain to her my past history of this problem (true) and that it's the second time in two weeks it's happened (false). She suggests sleeping pills, and I tell her how they don't work because they speed up my heart rate and keep me awake (true). I'm not sure how well she bought. Not sure that I sold it that well to begin with.

9:50am - Head down to get some breakfast. They're out of turkey cheddar croissants. Those things are absolutely amazing. I go for a bagel and some cranberry juice instead.

10:20 - The head of our department comes by and mentions a team meeting today. She's not speaking in my general direction but outside my office so I assume this means me too.

10:55 - She comes back and mentions the meeting is in 5 minutes.

11:00 - I walk into the conference room and notice not everyone is there. I ask if this is an "everyone" meeting, and she says "well, no, but I can stay if I want". I ask her if I should be in here, and she says "sure, you can sit in."

11:03 - She starts passing out papers to everyone else but me, then says "you don't really need that." I say "if I don't need to be here, I can just go work on something else." I get up and leave when it's apparent that the meeting really doesn't concern me. Seriously, why couldn't she have just said that from the start? I've got other stuff to work on. Like writing blogs.

11:35 - The cranberry is catching up to me. I head to the restroom. I run into Lisa. Lisa is someone who I helped about a year ago or so with her credit account. We don't really know each other, but we have that face recognition, so we say "Hi" as we pass. Lately, it seems like we're on the same bathroom schedule, as we have been passing by each other lately. Now, I just start cracking up anytime I turn the corner and see her. I'm thinking about changing my restroom route because of this. It's getting creepy.

11:36 - The main restroom is closed. Why can't they clean the restrooms when no one's here? I go down to the 6th floor. Their employee restroom is closed for cleaning too. Fuck! I have to walk over to the customer restroom. It's kind of gross - this is where many bums go to bath or freshen up or just take a break. Thankfully, it's empty today.

11:55 - I keep munching on Ruffles from a bridal shower yesterday for one of our coworkers. They made all of the guys in our department go too. I didn't mind - it meant free food for lunch. Free snacks today too!

1:40 - Just got back from lunch. Fuck it's hot out! I know it's worse in AZ, but 90 degrees is hot anywhere. Someone was passing out free Mentos on the way back. Also, every year, they have some random bands play out in Century Square during lunch time. All the bands they get are horrible, usually cover bands. If the heat wasn't annoying enough, I have to deal with that also. I'm kinda glad I'm back in the office now. I have a conference call training class in 20 minutes that I have to prepare for. Be back in two and a half hours.

3:40 - My conference call ended about 45 minutes early. I LOVE when that happens. Now I get to run more reports and try to reconcile some invoices for computers we purchased back in February. I'm kind of regretting sleeping in today. Normally, I'd be going home in less than an hour. Instead, I'm here until 6pm. Argh.

4:25pm - Ate some more Ruffles. Haven't done much else really. I'm used to going home now so I'm in that mode, only I have an hour & a half left. Lame.

5:21pm - I really want to leave at 5:30 but I'd be short a half-hour, and my boss probably wouldn't let me make up the half hour tomorrow. When I came in this morning, she asked me "Are you staying late to make up your hours today?" It was a rhetorical question. She already knew the answer. Hopefully the last 40 minutes will fly by.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Live Free Or Party Hard

For the record, I saw Live Free Or Die Hard on 4th of July, not Transformers. Not to spoil the movie, but (shocker!) John McLane doesn't die hard this time, either.

I've already had two inquiries regarding my desires for a birthday gift this year. One from the girlfriend, one from the parents. It's just more than a year away. The big 2-9. The last of the roaring twenties.

In my mind, I'm already past the twenties. When I think about people "in their twenties" I think about people that are 24 & under. I really think that there should be a new category - the "twenty-fives". If we don't think about people who are 13 and 19 as the same, despite both being "in their teens", then why do we do it for people who are 23 and 29? I look at 23 year olds, and the only thing that I see in common is the first digit in our age. And our cool hipster glasses.

I feel closer to 30 (and on some days, closer to 40) then I do to 20, and the obvious answer is, well, you are closer to 30. But I'm not really that far removed from the 20 year old partier I used to be. It wasn't that long ago that I was drinking vodka straight out of the bottle, jumping off roofs into swimming pools, and finding a way to work at 9 in the morning after being up until 3am.

Granted, all of that has taken a toll on my body, certainly, and I never really did anything to offset that. I can't drink sugar-y alcoholic drinks anymore, I pretty much need to stay away from beer with the risk of diabetes looming over me, and even if I ignored it all, there's always a hangover to cope with, and I was never really good at doing that to begin with.

I feel like I'm straddling that fine line between being young enough to still hang with the twenty-year olds or being old enough that it becomes kinda creepy to them. Like the time Wac and I went to a friend's house party that was full of underage U-Dub brats. Full of drunk sluts (male & female) to the point that no one was walking, they were just trampling, we lasted about 5 minutes before we said "fuck this noise" and made a quick exit. On our way out, we heard someone remark "did you see that 40-year old couple that was here, the bald guy?"

Sucks for Wac that she becomes 40 by default just from hanging around me.

Anyways, Wac has mentioned a couple times about how she's sometimes bothered by the fact that she just doesn't have the energy to go out & party like she used to. Apparently, she was more apt to go out and pound some shots of tequila before she met me. Again, see what hanging around me does to you? Regardless, I too often feel like I don't have the energy to go out, but in my case, it's that I rarely have the money to drop down on a bar tab for the night. Combined with the fact that I start work at 8am Monday through Friday, and add to that the number of other activities that I have going on each week (ok, most of that is online poker), and going out and getting shitfaced happens less often than it used to.

So what do I want for my birthday?

Hangovers. Shots galore. Happy hours. Drunken debauchery. One more year of being "in my twenties." I've got the rest of my life to be an old man. I've only got one more year to be a young one.

But yes, I promise to be reponsible health-wise as well.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

I Am Not Proud To Be An American

Do not misinterpret that title.

I don't hate my country. I don't hate the fact that I am American.

Don't label me "unpatriotic" or tell me to leave my country if I don't like it here.

I wouldn't want to live anywhere else. But that doesn't mean I have to be blindly proud of this country, of my nationality.

I've had a slouching problem ever since I was younger. I still do, and try as I might, I often forget to keep my shoulders back. My mom would harp on me to stand up straight, to "take some pride in my appearance."

She would also use this refrain if I tried wearing sloppy clothers or bad hair in public.

"Take pride", she would say, meaning "represent yourself well and take comfort in that reprsentation."

My wardrobe has improved. My hair, well, that's taken care of itself. But I still slouch pretty often. But at least I take pride in my appearance these days, because I am comfortable, content, happy, with how I represent myself.

I am not proud to be an American because I am not comfortable, content, happy, with what "being an American" means these days.

If "being an American" means fighting an unjust, unwinnable war, then I am not proud of that.

If "being an American" means continually sending troops to Iraq, these brave men & women who will defend our freedom in ways that I am not personally capable of, only to see them constantly killed for no explainable reason, then I am not proud to be an American.

If "being an American" means that I can't say that I don't support the war, than I am not proud to be an American.

If "being an American" means caring more about who wins American Idol than who wins the Presidential Election, or worshiping pop stars over the sacrifices of thousands of civil servants, or taking even the slightest interest in the life of Paris Hilton, then I am not proud to be an American.

If "being an American" means that we sit on our hands as problems of homelessness, social inequality, & poverty continue to grow, as we continue to destroy the environment in favor of being able to drive assault vehicles on the street, as we continue to let our civil liberties dwindle away while the government does at it pleases, as we continue to define our moral code as "what's in it for me?", then I am not proud to be an American.

One year, back in the 80's, maybe early 90's, we spent the 4th of July at the State Capitol in Phoenix. It was your standard celebration: fireworks displays, country music, and plenty of red, white, & blue. I remember some of the fireworks were preceded by everyone's favorite 4th of July song. You know the one:

"And I'm proud to be an American
Where at least I know I'm free
And I won't forget the men who died
And gave that right to me
So I proudly stand up! to you
And defend her still today
'Cause there ain't no doubt, I love this land....
God Bless The U.S.A"

Funny to think that, when I was younger, I used to get chills to that song, that those words actually meant something to me.

I cringe every time I hear that song now.

The point of this isn't to continually bash my country, to bash it's citizens. We're not perfect, but I still would choose this country over any other right now (well, at least certain areas of the country).

But I can't say that'll always be the case. I'm not satisfied with what our country is right now, and I certainly won't be satisfied with this country if we continue down the path we're headed.

There's two choices we could make. We could continue to ignore the problem, surround ourselves with modern comforts, continue to see the problem as "mine, not yours". Or, we could try to find a answer, work with our brothers & sisters in this country to find a common solution. Call me a idealist, an optimist, and I'll call you someone who doesn't see true patriotism.

It was over 200 years ago that this nation was founded by a group of people who wanted more out of their government, who wanted a better life, who were tired of the problems in their country. So they came here and worked together to create a new, better life (albeit by destruction of the indigenous people and the captivity of African slaves, but what's done is done).

We don't have a new country to go to. The only chance we have at a better life is to work together to solve the problems we face.

Educate yourself. Question authority. Embrace virtue.

Or, go see Transformers tomorrow. Go get drunk, eat some hot dogs, and shoot some illegal fireworks at your neighbors.

But ask yourself this: 231 years later, is this really what millions have sacrificed their lives for? Is this really something to be proud of? Can't we do even just a little bit better?

Monday, July 2, 2007

Game On

I'm back.

Refreshed & rejuvenated? Not necessarily. I haven't found some new inspiration, no muse.

I guess I just like to hear myself talk, er, write. You know what I mean.

I'll be honest - in my mind, my last post really was my last post for a long time. Regardless of what happened, I didn't feel like anything was worth writing about. Not in that sulk-in-the-corner, "life is hopeless" kind of way, but more in that "eh, who cares" kind of way. It took me a while to figure out why that was and how that was wrong.

When I've written blogs, I've written them with only one person usually in mind - me. I write what I feel; sometimes serious, sometimes light-hearted, sometimes straight-forward, sometimes cryptic.

Somewhere, I changed who I was writing for. I started writing for you. I was writing to keep up with friends and family back home. Hence, this became more of a weekend recap and less of a blog, and as a result, it became more taxing. Especially when the weekends weren't exciting. If it wasn't all that great in real life, it's not going to sound that great in words.

Anyways, I'm feeling better about keeping up a blog, as regularly as I can, because I realize what makes me enjoy writing - writing just for myself. I won't use this as a medium to keep up with my friends. I miss you all dearly, but friendship via a blog is a lousy way to stay friends. If you care enough, you can reach me at (or - more on that later). Or via phone, which I won't post on the internet, but you now have means of obtaining that if you don't already have it. I won't make any declarations or demands for frequency; just drop a line whenever you can. I'll do the same.

With that said, let's update you on my weekend!

No, seriously. I'm no hypocrite - there's a story to be told here. And it starts around noon, Thursday.

I left work early. I had a strange nauseous feeling throughout the week, and it amplified right around lunchtime. Maybe it had to do with that maple bar I had at our company meeting. By 1:30, I realized I was going to be spending more time in the restroom than I would at my desk, so I postponed my duties & bused it home. I was bummed because I was going to meet some friends at a bar at 4pm to watch the NBA Draft, but I instead I had to spend the rest of the day on the couch, alternating between moans and sprints to the bathroom.

I took Friday off as well to recover, which I had by about 1:30pm (Thanks, Maalox!). Good thing too, as I had made dinner reservations at Daniel's Broiler for the girlfriend and I to celebrate our 17 month anniversary. Honestly, a 17 month anniversary isn't very symbolic, so if you're curious as to why I took her to a fancy steak dinner for this anniversary, the answer is this: I knew I'd be too broke to do it for the 18 month one. So I decided to splurge while I had the chance.

A car payment and a food coma later and we headed back home to recoup in time for her friend's birthday celebration that night.

The next day, the girlfriend and I had a play to attend. Have I mentioned that I'm a regular theater-goer now? Strange, I know. I'm still not fully used to it yet, either. A quick explanation; Wac signed us up for this group that gets to attend about 5 plays a year, for free, and our only obligation is that we stick around afterwards and engage in "civic dialogue", as they call it, regarding the play and the issues surrounding it. I was quite skeptical at first, but it really is quite interesting, and I have been personally moved on many occasions by the discussions that are had.

And to think, my grandmother tried for so many years to make me more culturally diverse. She'd be so proud.

So, we spent our Saturday afternoon, a gloriously 70-something degree day, indoors, at a play. After that, we headed to yet another birthday celebration on Mercer Island, a small community in the middle of Lake Washington.

And a very wealthy one at that.

Mercer Island is where athletes, politicians, CEOs, and the rest of King County's wealthy live (minus Bill Gates). Most homes here are easily seven figures, maybe eight. And we were partying at one of these houses, on the lakeside.

You know you've made it when you have a carport in the front and a pier in the back.

So we sat back, ate some food (that we brought), drank some beers (that we didn't bring), and watched the other drunkards fall all over themselves playing volleyball and badminton.

It was around this time that Wac commented something along the lines of "This weekend is strange. We're doing all these things that people our age don't do. Fancy steak dinners, Saturday afternoon plays, parties on Mercer Island". It was strange, like we won a contest that allowed us to live someone else's life for a day.

Fast forward to that night. Again, another birthday celebration, this time at a Mexican restaurant\bar. A crowded one at that; it felt like 100 people crammed into a broom closet. With a kareoke machine.

I'm not one for kareoke - I've still yet to do it (I'm waiting to relearn all the words to Whoomp! There It Is). And usually I abhor it. But throw me a couple Dos Equis and put on some Bohemeian Rhaphsody and I'm a different person.

Flashback Time - about 2 months after I moved up here, I was hanging out with my friend Erin and some of her cohorts, at a bar downtown, having a genuinely good time. Afterwards, we drove up to a hole in the wall called Beth's Cafe, where they make omelets in two sizes - 6 eggs or 12 eggs. It was around 1:30am and for whatever reason, I was feeling homesick. I sat at the table, depressed, wanting to be back in AZ, hanging out at Casey Moore's.

Then came Bohemian Rhaphsody.

It was about 2am when it came on, and the entire cafe just started belting it out. People were running up and down the aisles, yelling out the song at any table they came too. It was the most amazing thing I had ever seen. I couldn't help but smile. My homesickness went away.

Everytime I hear that damn song, I think of that time, and I belt it out too now. And last Saturday night, that I did.

Wac and I left the bar sometime during the midnight hour and, in good drunken spirits, headed back home. Wac went to check her email, and somehow, the idea of sending her boss an email, an anonymous one, came up. That's when I had the greatest idea I've ever had.

There we were, at 12something in the morning, creating a new, fake email account to use for something, someday. We never got the stones to send her boss an email, maybe one day. Maybe one day, you'll receive an email too.

I should note that, at this point in the morning, it was July 1st. Officially, it was two years since my first arrival in Seattle. And there I was, with my girlfriend, laughing hysterically at the creation of our new email address - the proof that, despite the activities of the past 24 hours, we still knew how to have fun like the 20-somethings that we are.