Tuesday, July 29, 2008

things i thought i knew but never appreciated about the bar exam until today

1) You take the exam in a convention center with thousands of other examinees. Some bring pillows. Some bring keyboards. Some bring anxiety. There are four women's rooms. The lines are thirty-deep in the morning. There are four water coolers, and hundreds of "bio-starch" biodegradable cornstarch cups that look and feel like plastic. You look up, and for the first time in your life, you can say, "I am looking at an ACRE of attorneys."

2) It is not six hours per day when you take it in San Mateo. It is twelve hours. You wake up at seven to your dog whining to be let outside, after an entire night of no sleeping but THINKING NONSTOP ABOUT THE OBAMA FAMILY WHY??? and daydreaming about defecating in ice fields, you drive slowly on 101 Northbound to San Mateo, wait 20 minutes to park in the Expo lot, wait an hour for the instructions to conclude, exam in the morning, lunch, exam in the afternoon, then you wait another half hour for the concluding instructions and then you wait half an hour to exit the parking lot, then you wait 90 minutes on 101 Southbound for the accident at Willow to clear. Then you get home at 7:30 p.m., you are hungry and you want to die!

3) Whatever happens at the bar, it's not as bad as having a light fixture fall on your head and kill you during an earthquake, cf. CH's blogpost about the LA exam.

4) You'll be ecstatically happy when your second package of Gushers reveals more blue sugar-filled hexagons than green sugar-filled hexagons, because anything is delightful when compared to how incredibly boring the bar is.

5) You'll stop caring halfway through the first performance test. You'll go to the cooler five times to drink from the little starch cups, and you'll do all of the arm and shoulder stretches you remember, before returning to your seat and panicking because the proctor just called the one hour warning.

6) You'll see people freaking out. The computer screen of the woman sitting in front of me turned into one of those Stereo-3D vision posters at 8:45 a.m., and she freaked the fuck out. She hit her head about ten times with the heel of her hand. She raised her hand. She lowered her hand. She called out for a most unhelpful proctor. She took her jacket off. She put it back on. But by 9 a.m., she was a human being again, and she just handwrote her essays. Then after lunch the 3D poster disappeared and her computer was normal, and she took the rest of the exam on the computer. Not so bad, but me and a few people in my row exchanged the "Yikes" face while she was panicking.

7) You'll wonder why you didn't take the bar in New York, where your friends have slain half the bar and seven of the thirteen subjects while you still have twelve hours of testing and still need to retain your memory of all thirteen subjects for two more terrible days. Your poor head, the leaky bucket!

More later, when I am not dog balls tired. I am serious when I say I did not sleep last night and instead spent the entire night thinking about the Obama family. Michelle looks lovely in purple!

Monday, July 28, 2008

last words

Good luck on the bar! Wish me luck!


See you in February!

Edit: here's what I did today, in preparation for the bar:

Sunday, July 27, 2008

truth or consequences

One consequence of this season's extreme boredom is that my interest in electoral politics has returned. I had initially planned to write a post about how nice it is to feel older and not like I have to justify my politics or participate in arguments with intractable assholes or comment on news stories or stand in the middle of Times Square arguing with Republicans wearing yards of pearls or wondering if my friends think my positions are crazy, but then I realized that the relative quiet of the last four years may not be just due to my ruminant older age but also to the fact that it hasn't been a presidential election year since 2004.

I was in New York in 2004 during the Republican primary. It was both a horrible and wonderful time to be in New York. It was horrible because you'd see a handful of rich Coloradans or Texans or Arizonans or whoever the fuck they were walking down the middle of the street toward Madison Square Garden escorted by brigades of NYPD officers, while the New Yorkers were penned in on the sidewalks and not permitted to cross the street to get to their jobs where they made money to pay taxes that paid for the NYPD to prevent them from crossing the street. And you would be arrested or stomped by hooves if you tried to cross the street at the wrong time. And you'd see things like a horde of white shorts with white tennis shoes walking in a pack through the Village and they'd pass a queen or some kids from the West Side piers and the white shorted patriarch would turn around and say, "Welcome to New York, guys!" to his throng and they would all titter and bunch in closer toward each other. I walked through Times Square picking fights with people, interrupting their conversations, joining their groups, telling them I was a teacher and I didn't support No Child Left Behind, kissing my girlfriend flagrantly and frequently, trying to make my eyes look as chinky as possible (not hard to do). I got into an argument with a woman from Denver about guns ("A city has different needs than a suburb!" I recall shouting) and one of my companions said, "Hm, why don't you think about law school?" and I said, "Hm, I do seem to like yelling at people."

(A photo taken in August 2004. I'm yawning and wearing orange shoes. We were doing the first of these.)

It was also a wonderful time to be in New York because it was so energizing to retreat from the hostile horde into the much, much bigger friendly horde of people who were all infuriated about the presumptuous and opportunistic intrusion into a blue city that voted 80% Democratic in 2004. Handle came to town and stayed for a month and found a bike and a crew immediately and initiated all sorts of bike and protest and culinary adventures all over town. At one point I was hosting four houseguests in a very small apartment, including a two year-old named Nina who held onto Boo's tail and was dragged all around the apartment hitting her head on walls. It was a time to feel angry, young, righteous, and alive, but it was exhausting. I was arrested at the end of that season and now I am using my little settlement from the NYPD to pay for my bar trip.

I had thought there was something satisfyingly closed about the pre-law school fighting being used to pay for the post-law school vacationing, like a very neat chapter-ending, or something, but in the last few days of infinite free time and no studying, I realized that I may still be just as interested in the fighting as I was when I was younger. It was so relieving to believe, as I did for maybe the last year or so, that I'd finally outgrown my urge to argue about politics or convince hearts and minds - because it's so tiresome, and I thought I had found a more productive substitute in arguing politely via motion practice about discrete, microcosmic issues - but electoral politics make me want to shake people. I just spent two hours reading poll analysis and watching videos of John McCain say bewildering thing after bewildering thing about foreign policy. (Holy shit, folks. This man sounds just as stupid and evasive as W! Is that what maverick means?) Now the urge is back: to drop what I'm doing, move to Ohio, knock on doors, and make saucer eyes to undecided voters.

Ughh. Wanna just concentrate on failing the bar instead, but it's hard. Sorry, readers, for this incredibly self-centered post but BUYER BEWARE and MONKEY'S PAW and also, to use a phrase most unproductively deployed by a dear friend earlier in the summer, "I don't give a fuck!" Love you all, peace on earth, and please blog more because I finished reading all of Wikipedia, thanks.

Saturday, July 26, 2008



(notices that one tine of his fork is bent at a 30 degree
angle to the others, then holds it up with both hands)

Nobody says anything.


Father makes sudden stabbing motions at the rind of a cantaloupe. It takes several repeats for Daughter to realize that Father is trying to understand how one tine of the fork came to be bent. Father is an engineer.

(suddenly disinterested in fork)
There is this Taiwanese politician who got sick of eating abalone.

You're not telling the story right.

He was very corrupt and every night he had abalone.

That's not right. He was bribed with abalone.

He ate it every night.

People bribed him by taking him out to eat every night. He ate geoduck every night.

He got so spoiled, he said he couldn't eat any more abalone.

It just got to be too much.

It's like a mussel, only very long.

It's a geoduck.

Can you believe that? Sick of abalone? I never eat abalone! It's so expensive!

I can't believe he was so corrupt.

I only eat fish balls. Do you know what they're made of?


Yes, glue.

Not wheat paste. Glue.

Agar. Agar. Agar Agar. Gelatin. Chemicals. Like your tapioca balls.

Only the richest eat geoduck.

Glue balls. No more transfats in California. I must eat cornbread before it stops tasting good. (leaves table to retrieve more cornbread)

(silently gumming mini blueberry muffin)


On the drive home, Father tells Mother over and over again, always in singsong, that she is his "putative spouse." Father has learned the term from looking over Daughter's shoulder at her community property flashcards as they stood on the salad bar buffet line. Mother says, "What is that?" Father says, "It means you're my second wife, and you don't even know it!"

bar bag

I took a break from my daily botching of MBE questions to finally read the letter the California Bar Office of Admissions sent me last month, and then assembled my bar-readiness bag.

The rules are sort of ridiculous. I am borrowing my dad's clock-sized (but still under 4"x4"!) analog manwatch. The earplugs are bar-approved; California specifically forbids its aspiring attorneys from bringing "connected" earplugs or earplugs made from a "plastic material" such as those for swimming purposes. It does, however, permit you to bring TWO pillows (without cases), crutches, a mouse pad, a book stand, highlighters (only for highlighting the questions, as opposed to...?), and feminine hygiene products.

Apparently the California Bar does not understand that some women bleed like horses* and that you could probably fit an entire MBE on the perforated plastic sheathing of those giant pink superwing bats that those women press against their crotches 3-5 days out of month. Not that I would ever do that, since I earned my winning moral character evaluation through 27 years of unimpeachable upstandingness and all-around kindness toward flesh, fish, and fowl. (*This, by the way, required me to Google the phrases, "do horses menstruate" and "mare estrus." The answer is still not clear. No help on YouTube, either.) And those guys that can write your name on a piece of rice could probably write all of the Conviser Mini Review on even a light days tampon. I am not supposed to be on the rag during the exam, so the pads you see above are solely reserved for the purpose of wiping the vomit from my mouth after the performance exam, because tissues are not provided.

Food and water are also not permitted at the bar, but one is allowed unlimited numbers of pens and pencils. Shivakamini, here's another product that we can add to our bar preparation line: EDIBLE PENCILS. I am planning to sneak in some Pocky and pretzel sticks and chicken rolled into straight lines among my #2s.
Just six more days and eighteen hours of testing, and I'll be free!

steamed buns

Father spent last Sunday alternating between entering numbers into an Excel spreadsheet and hanging his head over the family's inflated expenditures. "Your mom spends too much on clothes!" he said. "I am going to cut her budget to a sixth of what it is. She's going to hit me!" Then he came over to me and insisted that because free room and board is provided in prison, he was going to find a way to move us all into a prison. "I want a maximum security one!" he exclaimed. Daughter corrected his assumptions about maximum security prisons, yet Father insisted, "Maximum security is where they protect you the most! I will just stay inside!" And then tonight:


Father, after five minutes of repeating one extremely sibilant Chinese phrase extremely loudly: I could do okay in prison if I they let me have a piano.
Daughter: They don't let you have pianos in prison.
Father: Hey, you should study in a prison! It's the best study environment. This is nothing (pointing to plastic table Daughter purchased from Wal-Mart, where Daughter has spent eight weeks surrounded by green books, dog hair, and dishes dirty with chicken residue). This is privilege! You know, they [ed. not sure who "they" are] used to send you up to the monastery to study. You would study very well but be deranged when you came out of it. Because it was so...monotonous - what is the word for something that is monotonous. Monotonous...ly?
Daughter: Monotonous.
Father: - what is it - "monotonized"? Anyway, it is too monotonized. All you do is study all day. Then come out and ring the bell. Dang-dang-dang-dang-dang. Drives you crazy.
Daughter: Mm-hmm.
Father: But the best kung fu came out of that.
Daughter: Yes.
Father: But they only let you eat steamed buns, once in a while.

Daughter also tried to share her love for Freddie Mercury with Father last night, but got genuinely pissy when Father insisted on knowing how he died (Father has a 1986-era understanding of AIDS) and derided Freddie's pre-"Crazy Little Thing Called Love" comments as "Nazi" because he had failed to listen to the second half of the sentence. Daughter then called Father "judgmental." Father has been repeating in a singsong voice for two days, "I am not judgmental - I am sentimental. I am not judgmental - I am sentimental!"

Friday, July 25, 2008


I guess my parents weren't crazy when they told me I should not go out into the neighborhood because of lions. Perhaps this will encourage me to spend less time naked in the backyard eating chicken.


I have thought of a few ways to start my memoir about this summer, including:
It was the summer of chicken...

In mid-June, I stepped on a bee...

Like a beautiful butterfly emerging from its chrysalis...

Like many others, I love my dog in an unnatural way...
Just a start.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

beautiful dreamer

Did I need to spend the last two hours Googling and YouTubing "rocks," "huge rocks," "big rocks," "Uluru," "Loreley," "giant worms," "quicksand," "carpet bogs," "dying in a carpet bog," "stuck in peat bog," "drowning in quicksand," "bog death," and "bog bodies"? While listening to Roy Orbison croon "Beautiful Dreamer," over and over again?

Shivakamini asked tonight how the bar had driven me crazy. (Which is assumed, because the bar has driven all the examinees I know crazy.) I need not answer, my dear. The proof is in the pudding (or bog)!

I highly recommend you Google "bog bodies," or "Guanajuato momias," or "soap woman," if you'd like to improve your bar score.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

txt exchange

Man, diesel beast!

Pumpkin, love u. My pumpkin!

Stupid! It's a mondegreen!

It was an acrostic, plumps! Talk tomorrow?

Whatever, yr bad at mondegreens bc u eat too much.

Pumpkin, I gotta go! Yes!!

Forget about that. Thank you.

Can't have u being bitchy, yo. Gnite! I really love you.

Honey, even I feel exhausted! Retire!

Hope our sleep's sweet!

Sleep on wings!

In case you missed it, our protagonists managed to call each other beast, plump, piggy, fatty, chubby girly, heifer, hoss, and sow in the course of a few text messages. I miss Step On Me Shoe so.

brainfully healthy

Dad comes home and asks, "Are you healthy? Brainfully healthy?"

Last night my grandma called at 2 a.m. to say she was having trouble breathing. My dad and I drove the car literally 200 feet down the street to her house - I was not allowed to walk there. Why? I asked. Because there might be "lions," came the answer.

Grandma was not doing well. She pressed the button on her emergency wristband and Stanford Hospital Lifeline sent five firefighters with a motorized stretcher into her bedroom. They made her sit on the edge of her twin mattress and attached electrodes to her and brought in giant duffel bags filled with electronic measurement devices. They were so huge and competent, and patient with my uncle's poor translations and failure to follow directions. One of them talked to me in a quiet voice and asked me what medications she took. I had no idea and I hunted around the house for prescription bottles. They initially all looked to me when they spoke because I was the only one of the four of us who spoke unaccented, grammatical English.

She went by ambulance to the hospital with my uncle riding along to provide translation. My dad followed them in the car and stayed overnight at Stanford, then came home at 10 a.m. to sleep for three hours. Then he went back to the hospital.

Grandma's doing okay. She's back at her house now, with nothing immediately wrong with her. I'm really happy about that, but it was a scare. Let us all pray for all of our good health, brainful health, for years to come.

freehold estates

The Heavy Heavy Pets are prolific. I put another song up on the myspace page.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

perfect tender

So instead of studying I spent the last hour writing a song about perfect tender.

Please don't make fun of my terrible voice. As in all things, enthusiasm counts more than talent.

Monday, July 21, 2008

liz wolfe

These are nice photographs.

just a personal preference

I prefer the MBE questions that start like this:

Idiot, whose efforts at boar hunting have come to naught for the last decade, resolved to get a boar this season. Idiot bought a boar costume that made him appear, to the ordinary observer, to be a 900-pound razorback buck.
to the ones that start like this:

Octavian is the owner of Shitacre in fee simple. Octavian's wife, Wife, is ninety, and pregnant with the couple's fifteenth child in as many years.
One looooooooooong week left. And then FREEDOM!!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

resurrecting themes from earlier in the summer

Our dear friend Gerard Manley Hopkins.

AS kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies dráw fláme;
As tumbled over rim in roundy wells
Stones ring; like each tucked string tells, each hung bell’s
Bow swung finds tongue to fling out broad its name;
Each mortal thing does one thing and the same:
Deals out that being indoors each one dwells;
Selves—goes itself; myself it speaks and spells,
Crying Whát I do is me: for that I came.

Í say móre: the just man justices;
Kéeps gráce: thát keeps all his goings graces;
Acts in God’s eye what in God’s eye he is—
Chríst—for Christ plays in ten thousand places,
Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his
To the Father through the features of men’s faces.

Gerard Manley Hopkins was closeted man of the cloth. He was afraid to experience the sensuousness of eating fruit from the orchard of his theological school. I love thinking about what his faith meant to him vis-a-vis his hatred of his body. He tortured himself in life and declared better but false selves in his poetry. He died of typhoid fever after some bouts of diarrhea. His last words were, "I am so happy. I am so happy."

Thursday, July 17, 2008

absence makes the heart

Apologies for the absence without tidings, and then future apologies for my continued absence in the next eleven (GASP!) days. The exam that dares not speak its name is coming up soon. Stepho, the 愛 of 我的 life, came into town bearing invisible ink and cell phone danglies a few days back and helped me remember why exactly I'm doing this shit (so I can sue your pants off you and give them to her). We spent a few beautiful California days discovering and studying in Palo Alto cafes, working out and studying in gyms, swimming and not studying in community pools, studying while bouncing on a 3' trampoline, not studying while hosing ourselves off like racecars in the backyard, and then a whole lot of time not studying at all but staying mostly within a 5 mile radius of my house. It was really wonderful, and that's all you get to hear about that.

But she left this morning and I almost immediately got a referred bout of stomach flu/migraine/nastiness and I drove home from the airport wondering whether I should just pull over to the shoulder and throw up in the bushes but opting instead to drive 45 mph all the way home and then park my car in my driveway and literally crawl - I was crawling! On hands and knees! - inside the house and heave out a suspicious bagel from the morning and then cry in bed for five hours with an eye mask blocking out all the offensive daylight. I realize a lot of this blog is just stories of how my body does disgusting things, but it does so many disgusting things so frequently that it's not disproportionate to blog so much about them. The morning's festivities meant I have still not memorized the definitions of community property or the Married Women's Special Presumption and the panic meter is topping out. Now it is time for me to freak the fuck out and try to memorize AFTPRET, ABUI, WITHN, WITV, BAN, D MUSIC CAMP*, PASS CH, Yes SER you can revoke, your mistaken Bowel Bowel Movement R., Gerry's Republic of Foreign Peaches, and all the other cloying mnemonics I have learned and devised for all these unmemorizable subjects. OMFG. Stephanie, come back!!!!

* D MUSIC CAMP is my personal favorite. You should use it if it helps you. It's all the reasons a contract is unenforceable: duress, mistake, unconscionability, Statute of Frauds, illegality, capacity, consideration, ambiguity, misrepresentation, public policy. OZ, if you use it on the exam, you owe me a drink.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

the answer, my friend, is


Sorry for absence by blog, Stephanie is in town (hooray!) so I have gone from sofa king bored to delighted (but sure to fail the bar - oh well!). She just taught me that there is a "spliced comma" in that last sentence! New grammar words for the grammar nerds!

In keeping with the linguistic theme, I will leave you tonight with one more puzzle from the book from the trash to contemplate:
Grsmr kxcgob sc mybbomd?

(a) Ylfsyecvi xyd drsc yxo.
(b) Pybqod sd.
(c) Iye kbo k qyyn qeoccob.
(d) Kxydrob sxknoaekdo kddowzd.
You don't have to wait a day for the correct answer, which is (c). I don't know why it's (c). The book, like a BarBri professor, explains nothing, and just gives answers.

Bar update: I am a leaky boat and I am just trying to get to shore before capsizing! Or maybe I am the Titanic and bar review merely arranges the deck chairs on me.

P.S. Marvin Gaye describes "that feeling" as "capsizing." OMFG whatta genius.

Monday, July 07, 2008


you just want to watch people dressed as letters kicking a soccer ball around.

F is kicking some serious ass.

(Konstfack Characters from mikedudekmike on Vimeo)


** The answer to yesterday's puzzle is: John, while James had had "had," had had "had had." "Had had" had had a better effect on the teacher.

Today's batshit puzzle, from the book I found in the trash:

Monkey Business

A rope over the top of a fence has the same length on each side. It weighs one
third of a pound per foot. On one end hangs a monkey holding a banana, and on
the other end a weight equal to the weight of the monkey. The banana weighs two
ounces per inch. The rope is as long (in feet) as the age of the monkey (in
years), and the weight of the monkey (in ounces) is the same as the age of the
monkey's mother. The combined ages of the monkey and its mother are thirty
years. One half of the weight of the monkey, plus the weight of the banana, is
one fourth as much as the weight of the weight and the weight of the rope. The
monkey's mother is half as old as the monkey will be when it is three times as
old as its mother when she was half as old as the monkey will be when it is as
old as its mother will be when she is four times as old as the monkey was when
it was twice as old as its mother was when she was one third as old as the
monkey was when it was as old as its mother was when she was three times as old
as the monkey was when it was one fourth as old as it is now. How long is the

*You get the answer tomorrow.

blog 不代表我的心


我不知道有幾次跟你說. 這個persona不是真正的人, 只是好玩的. 你問我愛你有多深,但是blog 不代表我的心! 等你來這裡,我會給你解釋. 明天再見! 愛你x∞!


Sunday, July 06, 2008

ice cream social

Raj's latest video:

Raj made the Baby Mix-Up video too.

The man is a genius.

punctuate me

Oh my God I love this book I found in the trash. To use a term that's been floating around, this book makes me feel BATSHIT CRAZY. Here's two puzzles:

1) What word has three sets of double letters in a row?*
2) Punctuate this sentence so it makes sense: John while James had had had had had had had had had had had a better effect on the teacher**

* "Bookkeeper."
** You get this answer tomorrow.


Here is one of my favorite songs. It's Queen, of course. "The Millionaire Waltz," from Day at the Races (1976). It's as rhapsodic and rewarding and almost as weird as "Bohemian Rhapsody." How many rock songs are in 3/4? Listen for John Deacon's light touch with the bassline and the way Brian May makes his multitracked guitars sing, and of course, Freddie's command of his range over surgically-executed four-part harmonies. Goddamn, I could listen to this song ten times on a Sunday instead of studying for the bar.

In unrelated news, here is my dad trying to make a phone call to Sears this afternoon. It's not that interesting but some people have been demanding more on this blog about my dad.

Also unrelated: I found a book in the trash called "Games for the Super Intelligent," from the 1960s. It's just a bunch of logic puzzles and wordgames along the lines of "What is the next letter in the following sequence: O T T F F S S?"* I leaf through this book when C.H.'s patriotic music stirs and moves my bowels. It is lunacy. I found this part of the preface amusing, though anachronistic:

Some people seem to have a greater talent than others for exercising this sort
of sideways logic - for thinking in quite unexpected and essentially unchartable
ways. Colin Carmichael, writing in the magazine Design, tells the story
- it recalls, in a way, our earlier barometer story - of a class of engineering
students who were given the following question on an exam: How long should a
three-pound beef roast stay in a 325-degree oven for the center to reach a
temperature of 150 degrees? One student, described as a "Big Project Man,"
didn't come up with an answer but did offer a plan for a series of precise
experiments that would yield an accurate answer in six to nine months. Another
student, an advocate of the practical approach, went out and bought a roast, an
oven thermometer, and a watch. He wrote his report while munching medium-rare
roast beef sandwiches. A third student used logic. Reasoning that animal tissue
is mostly water and therefore should have about the same specific heat and
conductivity, he applied heat transfer theory to produce his answer (it proved,
incidentally, to be quite close to that of the second student). The quickest
answer, however, came from a student who called up his mother on the phone and
got the anwer from her. "Which of these men," asked Mr. Carmichael, "Promises to
be the most effective engineer?"

* E, stupid.


I am bored and rereading old journals for entertainment/evidence of tortious behavior. Perhaps you would like to reread my old journals too:


At 4:30am on Friday, woke in a stupor. A hurriedly made us scrambled eggs and we got on the subway to catch the first Metro-North up to Wassaic.

By eight we were there, wherever the hell “there” and “Wassaic” were – it was the coldest day of the year, and there was snow on the ground and chills beneath our coats. The commuter rail ride was full of loudmouthed idiots and stuttering jolts of wakefulness. So, two hours of sleep. I was barely sentient. We stood right at entrance of the parking lot and stuck our thumbs out eagerly. Awkward, unfamiliar with the familiar motion, I held my thumb out stiffly, as though my punchy thrust alone would convince a driver to stop. Immediately we were picked up by a shaved-headed man driving an enormous pickup truck. A and I sat in the backseat – a backseat in a pickup truck? – and L took shotgun.

I suppose people who will pick you up when you’re hitchhiking are bound to be eccentric themselves. They’ve been hitchhikers before, or they’re fantastically kind and empathetic, or they’re lonely nuts looking for some entertainment, or they’re psychopaths with blood dripping from their teeth from the last fresh kill. Everyone warns about the latter, but during my one day of hitchhiking, I found that overwhelmingly people are just curious to see why three girls would choose to freeze by the side of the road, holding a makeshift sign reading “VERMONT PLEASE.” No killers, just kindly eccentrics with extra room in the cab.

There were fourteen people, and I don’t know if I can remember them all. The guy with the shaved head was a bass-playing father of two, who maintained databases at WeightWatchers.com. He shouldered a six hour daily commute for the extra money – he wanted so badly to tell us how much he made, but also struggled with some misplaced humility, and eventually said, “Let’s put it this way: I make as much as Alan Greenspan” – and sometimes he had to sleep over in the office. He was on his way home, to Connecticut, after one such night and had caught the first train home. In his rare free time, he played the bass. He wanted to start a band, or play with other people, but since his main interest was punk rock, he had a difficult time finding anyone but acne-scarred sixteen-year olds with no musical talent whatsoever.

We never learned his name, just as we never learned the names of most of the people who picked us up. He dropped us off near Route 22 (I think) and we paused to enjoy moldy bagels in a mostly empty diner. Throughout the day, we stopped indoors out of necessity. The day was truly freezing. Though I wore long underwear, a t-shirt, a fleece, a quilted sweatshirt, a down vest, wool socks, wool mittens, hiking boots and a scarf over my pile hat and sweatshirt hood, I was constantly on the brink of frostbite. I thought looking bundled would make us extra pathetic, and extra attractive to those potential hitchers.

The next person to pick us up was sort of an odd old man who had gone to NYU long before. Apparently he chewed on his hat while he spoke, but I didn’t notice it. He gave us a long ride in his Subaru jellybean car, and dropped us off at a bend just a few yards from the Appalachian Trail. By this time, I’d been able to stop behind a gas station and kick to pieces a cardboard box. We scribbled our pathetic invitation “VERMONT PLEASE,” and waited for a ride.

The next man was a jargon spewing stonemason who talked to us about the challenger explosion and September 11th. He had all sorts of folksy, indecipherable clichés to tell us, but most of them I’ve forgotten.

Brian picked us up next. “I’m supposed to go to work but if you’ll pay for gas, I don’t mind being a little late,” he said as we clambered into his huge 1980s American boat car. “Maybe I’ll take you up to Great Barrington.” He drove us all the goddamned way through Massachusetts, through that crappy town Picks or Pitts or whatever its called, an hour and a half out of his way, to that town Wellington? Whatever the fuck! I fell asleep for the last ten minutes of his ride, but not before discovering 1) his children’s names were PollyAnn/PollyJean/PrincessLee and Bronson, “Bronson” because Bronson’s daddy was Brian and he was “Brianson,” 2) Brian was trying to settle a divorce and he had been living in Massachusetts for 14 months waiting to return to his home on the North Carolina coast, 3) Brian hitchhiked all the time, and once had been picked up by a guy in Mississippi with a busted windshield who said only one word the entire ride – “Rocks,” when Brian asked what happened to the windshield, and 4) Brian had impulsively bought a motorcycle and impulsively tracked down an old school friend who’d moved to Vermont. Brian was fucking rad. He knew how to be a terrific hitchhiker’s ride: talk your ass off. Hitchhiking is not a charity but a transaction; for a ride, the hitchhiker agrees to be the ear for the self-centered talker, and a mouth for the lonely listener. We heard so many stories, told so many of our own that day, and met and left strangers having exchanged odd trivia about our lives.

Brian drove us for miles. Just south of Vermont, he let us off, pumped in some gas, and drove off kicking up gravel with his tires.

Next, a mother of four picked us up and drove us maybe one mile across the border. She was on her way to pick up one of her issue.

Did I mention how cold we were? My toes didn’t feel a thing until they’d been parked in front of a fire for an hour, hours later.

The next guy to pick us up was in his seventies. L and I lay on a wide piece of plywood in the back of a rapist van – a full-sized van with no windows and no backseats – because the man was building something and was transporting wood. Once during the ride he pointed out the window and cackled, “Heee HAW! That’s a punkin thrower! They throw punkins!” I didn’t get a look because I was busying keeping the plywood from severing my leg as it slid around the cabin.

Who was next? The cops? The low point of the day came at the intersection of Highway 7 and some strip mall runway. Highway 7 became a four-lane road and consequently unhitchhikable at that intersection, but we wanted to try our luck anyway. When a white Ford pulled up twenty minutes later, we ran ecstatically toward it. Men emerged from either side, and immediately my flight/fight instinct turned on and I started trying to turn my momentum backward. I saw them pulling things out from their rear pockets and I knew for certain they were going to kill us and continue to riddle our twitching bodies with bullets.

Instead, they flashed golden badges and wry smiles and said, “How old are you?”


They chuckled.

“We got a report that there were thirteen-year olds hitchhiking, and we were in the area so we checked it out.” The clean-cut detective looked at us with smiles. “You don’t look thirteen.” He explained that it was illegal to hitchhike on route 7 during this stretch, but that they would drive us to 7A, where it was safer and definitely more legal, and a more attractive place to for drivers stop. They were the friendliest cops I’d ever met, and they ended up helping us out by taking us about five miles further north.

Just as we climbed out of the car, another small sedan pulled up. A blond woman called for us to climb in, and we praised our good luck. We waved goodbye to the astonished and pleased policemen, and pulled out of the gravel with a mother and a teenaged boy model. For the Ford Agency? Didn't know what that was, figured it out later. They were planning to pick us up while we froze at the mouth of route 7, but then they saw the cops take us and they followed the car until it stopped. Brilliant! How are people so nice? Maybe experiencing the angry hostility of New York strangers has warped my perception of humanity. The woman entertained us with her tirade against the sociopathology of an increasingly chemical-dependent populace, and her pretty son doled out droll comments and kept us laughing. Diana (I think) once apologized for lecturing us and her son remarked to us, “Well, you saved me a lecture,” we all enjoyed hearty, wholesome laughs.

I’m getting buns tired so I won’t recall many more rides. There are too many to recall with the detail that they demand: a twenty-year old girl with a high-school education listening to shitty Panamanian reggae that repeated the mantra “Quiero pussy! Quiero pussy!”; a prettyboy with a vanagon who was finishing up a culinary internship at some unfulfilling barbecue (or something) joint; a flaming guy with a “Celebrate Diversity” sticker who talked about his wife and son; a sunglasses plus SUV stud type who drove us right up to the door of XX LaPierre Drive. We caught a 90-minute ride in the back of a woman’s pickup truck, where we lay on our bellies on this woman’s crap – she was the process of moving – and fell asleep immediately, freezing. I thought we were going to rocket right out of the back of her truck.


Love Letters I Wish I'd Received:

Dear Bananarchist,

Of course, I will let you go down on me. I dream of it daily. Please, come now, come quick, and come alone.

Jodie Foster

P.S.: I just bought the new K.D. Lang album, and I can think of nothing but you.

P.S.S.: And of course, I will wear the denim overalls over the red union suit.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

madame chiang kai-shek

Father: Guess what Madame Chiang Kai-Shek ate every day for breakfast.
Daughter: I'm trying to study my flashcards.
Father: Two pieces of toast. Then high-fiber...then a high-fiber glass of juice. Then yogurt. Yogurt with fruit strips. Strips of fruit. Then sunnies. Sunny-side up eggs. Two eggs. (Notices flashcards) Oh! You're studying! You're going to fail the bar. Shhh, shhh. Sorry.

(a pause)

Father: [in Chinese] Zhen liao bu chi. Zhen liao bu chi. [back to English] I am so proud of her. I am so proud of her. She lived to be 100.
Mother: 106.
Father: She gave speeches until she was 99.
Mother: Have you heard her speeches?
Father: I am really, really proud of her.

(Daughter continues memorizing elements of negligent misrepresentation.)

Father: I forgot to say, also almond tea. Can you believe Japanese people put all of their chopsticks in the same bowl?
Mother: Zhen lan.

sino-japanese war

Father: (in front of television, watching a Japanese soap opera) YOU NEED TO COME HERE AND SEE THIS!!
Mother: What???
Father: Japanese people do put all of their chopsticks in the same bowl!
(a pause)
Father: (shaking head in disbelief): Four Japanese people, all putting their chopsticks in the same hotpot. So dirty. So, so dirty.

the reason i am going to fail the bar

(In the car)

Father: Do you want to fail the bar?
Daughter: What?
Father: Because if you don't want to fail the bar, you need to tell your mother to stop feeding your dog human food.
Daughter: What does that have to do with me failing the bar?
Father: Your dog lays under your bed and fills the room with farts. What kind of a study environment is that?
Daughter: I am more stressed by the fact that you're making a big deal out of this than by my dog's farts.
Father: You're going to fail the bar.

(At home)

Father: (to Mother) Your daughter has kindly asked you to stop feeding her dog human food.

(Moments later)

Father: (to Mother) Stop feeding Mandy. She's going to fail the bar.

conversation over lunch at peking duck house

Father: What is the name of the show where there's a brother with a head as big as a wintermelon and his slender brother who is a doctor?
Daughter: What?
Father: The older brother is a radio announcer?
Daughter: Frasier?
Father: Yes! Frasier! I love that show. That man's head is like a huge tomato.

america the beautiful

I cried when the fireworks started today, just sitting like a fool on the grass by myself, surrounded by screaming kids and young parents, with our backs dark and our faces flashing colors, crying like the sentimental menstruating old man I am, my tears coming down with renewed vigor each time my body was percussed by the boom.

I was going to spend the day with my books, but I failed at that. After a semi-productive morning, I spent two hours screaming the lyrics to "Two More Bottles of Wine" at the wall in my bedroom (because the sound reflected best with my mouth six inches or less from the wall), went on an hourlong jog and felt so stircrazy and salty and weird and lonely when I got back that I decided on an impulse to try to find fireworks. Before I forget, here's Emmylou Harris doing what she does:

I sat in traffic for twenty minutes and parked my car at a movie theater a mile away from Shoreline Amphitheater and followed the drunk young adults and the sober young parents to a gathering place that was just a gigantic open field of dirt and rocks. The light was dying but I could still tell that we were on Mars. The amphitheater is two white teats right on the edge of saltwater marshes. Google is nearby. There was some pops concert ending in fireworks tonight, but all the smart and frugal mid-Peninsulans knew to just wait in the field of rocks to get just as good a vantage as those people who had paid $25 to sit inside the amphitheater. The field of rocks was as big as Sheep Meadow in Central Park, maybe even as big as Long Meadow in Prospect Park, and most people clustered on the far end of it, near the parking lots. On this side of the field, there was a low rocky berm that a few intrepid people stood upon. I cursed myself for not bringing my camera to capture the image: black silhouettes on Mars against an impossibly large sky that was gold on the bottom and International Klein Blue on the top, California's colors. I knew then that tonight would be another lapse into sentimentality and I immediately texted C.H. in all caps about my love for America.

I walked across the field of rocks and found a park and an empty patch of grass at the near side of it between two different families with howling children, and sat down and waited. I was the only person who didn't come with another. A huge old drunk man next to me wrestled a five year old boy to the ground and I smiled the same smile when the boy shouted, "I'm tapping out!" that I smiled earlier in the afternoon when I watched two black teens in Goth outfits in the Baylands (I know it sounds like I am describing unicorns) grasping each others' forearms and spinning until they fell down.

The fireworks came on after a spell. The waterworks, too. Stephanie called to say good night halfway through and I kept her on the phone for ten minutes describing to her what I saw - "There's a golden shower. A cube. Two cubes. A ring. White streaks with purple and red at the end. This one is just sperm going on all directions. [I got a dirty look from a young parent.] Plain white lines that turn into sparkling. A green planet with a red ring around it" - and she listened silently, or fell asleep, while I spoke. She knows I have an unnatural fondness for multicolored lights. In 2002, on the day that MoMA moved temporarily to Queens, I waited near the Queensboro bridge for the celebratory specialty fireworks and watched as they accidentally spelled "WOWA" over and over again in the sky. It was an archetype, and now fireworks always give me the feeling best described as "WOWA WOWA WOWA."

They did what they were supposed to do. I'm not even going to try here to explain why I was filled with love for America at that moment, because it's such a fucking cliche. Also, in my six weeks of suburban isolation, I have done lots of silent observation and lots of wistful inward smiling and it's boring and predictable and untrustworthy because it is merely a sublimation of this season's feeling of wanderlust into a voracious Whitmanesque love for everything - I love chicken! I love nudity! I love God! I love each and every one of you! - so BLAH BLAH BLAH I love America. If my love for America were a flag, it would be so big it would cover a baseball diamond and require 250 volunteers to unfurl, etc..

N.K. haled me to Santa Clara afterward to accompany her on a dog walk around her perfectly still, brand-new subdivision. One could only hear distant booms and the sound of sprinklers. I tried to explain my love for America to N.K., who has held Israeli, German, and American citizenship, and who immediately pointed out that we are in an endless war and are about to go to war with Iran and implied that I should donate even more money to Barack Obama. I ended up just telling her about C.H.'s Constitution baseball and Constitution poster, and we got distracted and started talking about all the horrific ways she had been spectacularly injured in the last ten years. I had a beer and then waited two hours to become 100% sober for the drive home.

At home, I discovered that C.H. had emailed a godawful ("stirring," she promised) rendition of "America the Beautiful" and by the time I played it through my oceanic feelings had evaporated back into the regular old foggy mist of wist. Then I sat down to write this blogpost and took two wrong turns and read about two things that seized me with terror: a hockey player accidentally getting his carotid artery slashed by a skate spraying blood like a fountain onto the ice, and two women backpackers shot down like deer at their campsite by a hiding man who didn't like to see women kissing. Proceed to those links at your peril; they will imperil your feelings of love. The Pope Clock is telling me that it's 4 a.m. Sorry to leave you with those awful thoughts, but it's bedtime for Bonzo.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

seventeen thousand words

I am too lazy to write too much. So I will show you seventeen pictures instead. To start, here is a scab on my leg. Why am I showing this to you? Because YOU'RE ON MY BLOG, and as N.G. says, see The Monkey's Paw.

N.K.'s salty flip-flop is in the background. We are on a train from 22nd Street in San Francisco to California Avenue in Palo Alto. It is 12:44 a.m. and we have just passed the racetrack at Bay Meadows. I am holding hairspray, and N.K. is holding an iPhone. We have stopped shivering but my body is unable to regulate its temperature and I take my jacket off, then put it back on, then take it off again, and then just hold my arms above my head for most of the remaining train ride. N.K. is sad about her insane bitch of an ex-gf. I am staring at my leg, waiting for it to fall off. Boring! Moving along, this is what Dolores Park looked like at 3:55 p.m. that same day:

Wiki says that 200,000 people come out for the Dyke March but holy fucking shit that seems like a huge number. I've heard something like 40,000 on the lawn in the park, which seems more reasonable. Not that I would know - I once guessed that there were 635 pieces of macaroni in a jar that contained over 2,000, which I knew because I ultimately counted those macaronis by hand, over the course of hours - a sad story about a child without the stimulation that private schooling might have provided, without dance lessons or exposure to modern art, etc., but this story triumphantly ends with that child now a lawyer nearing thirty living in her parents' house. Anyway, people everywhere. J.W. suggested I snap photographs once an hour so later we could graph the population density of the park over time, to which I said Yeah yeah yeah! but forgot to do. When do 40,000+ queers ever gather on a field and smoke pot and show off their tits (not me!) and hang out and drink for six hours??? GOD BLESS CALIFORNIA. These people were making out right in front of me,

which means they cannot have a R.E.P. So you get to look at them making out. Hello, we're a couple! And it's California so we can make the fuck out right in front of your face! We're probably stoned! And to the right, one could see:

Hello, I am wearing silver lame panties and cowboy boots, and a fanny pack! It's chilly out - so what? You want to stare - so what?? A person near Silver Lame was hanging a red flag out of her right pocket. This started a conversation about flagging. How do you keep track of these things? Luckily in the Information Age we have friends with iPhones to tell us that hanging a red and white gingham flag (WHAT IS GINGHAM?) out of your back right pocket tells the world you are a park sex bottom, whereas a beige flag means "rim me." Silver lame means starfucker or celebrity, depending on the pocket...but what if you have no pockets and you're just wearing silver lame panties? What if you have no pockets?? The red flag means "I want to be fisted!" How do you respond to this invitation? "Hello!" [Arsenio-style pump]???

I promised tits, so here is Silver Lame from the front. C.H., who got the same not-passing score on her simulated MBE as me, assures me that posting these photos does not expose me to tort liability. Actually, when I first mentioned it she started rattling off the Miller LAPS-value obscenity test, which made me question whether she knew torts as well as constitutional law, but then she said something about R.E.P., which is a "crimes" concept but who cares, it probably applies to privacy torts too. Nonetheless, I have tried to protect the privacy of this individual who chose to spend the day nearly naked in a public park by superimposing photos of my own face over hers and her neighbors.

Enough of that! Now it's time to play "Where's Waldo?" Where is Waldo?

There he is!

"I hate you!" he said before slamming the door to his room and turning up his Fall Out Boy MP3s and hunching over his journal to write: "How could you say you love me/How could you go on this way/I fucking hate you Mom/You walk me once a day." My dog/best friend/boyfriend hates me! More pictures of Boocifer (Joshua! Joshua! Joshua! Joshua! used to call him "Bukkake on Your Face," ugh) :

He used to do this thing where as soon as he was released in the backyard he would run along the fence barking to disperse the squirrels who greedily eyed my mom's plums from their treehouses, but then my mom yelled at him enough times re: the barking that he now first leaps after his girlfriend ("Adidas") and clamps her in his mouth and then runs along the fence, except because he has a deflated soccer ball in his mouth he doesn't bark but merely growls, which is acceptable. It's weird. It's Pavlovian! Now each time he enters the backyard he must first find his girlfriend and carry her around with him. In the above photo he is scanning the trees looking for squirrels. What a dog!

Hello, we're a couple! He is a border collie mutt who hates his mother, and she is a deflated soccer ball!

Okay enough dog. Now time for Dad. As of this blog entry (it is 12:31 a.m.) he has been sitting at the piano for four hours very slowly playing one note at a time of Lyphard Melody. My mom yelled at him earlier because they were supposed to go for a walk and then he sat down at the piano on the way out the door and half an hour later they still hadn't left. And she said, "Come on, let's go, I'm leaving without you!" to which my dad said nothing because he didn't hear her because he was concentrating on Lyphard Melody. Here is a note that he left for me the other day:

The first attempt at the note was on the back side:

This magazine came in the mail. My dad looked at it, and then, affecting a German accent, said "Unequal America!" And then he examined the graphic for a second and said, "Hm. Wo men dou chi worms!" which means, "We all eat worms!" Which is what he understood the article to be about.

Okay, now moving on to the next phase of my intricately and repetitively observed and incredibly boring isolated life out in a northern California suburb - SAVE ME HELP ME GOD SAUVE MOI AYUDAME DEAR DIOS - now you get to see the notes I took during a three-hour lecture today. I am doing really great at paying attention!

I thought it would assist my learning of "Agency and Partnership" to write "Sigrid Shitzen-Giggles" on a blank page until my hand stopped working (it indeed stopped working). "Sigrid Shitzen-Giggles" is what I thought I should start signing my name as. I mean, your signature could be anything, right? So why not Sigrid Shitzen-Giggles? A guy I knew once "wrote" about a dozen checks by stitching the words and numbers and date and his signature with red thread on the checks - and the bank cashed all of those checks! He has the returned checks to prove it!

Okay, I have run out of pictures to show you. I spoke to my therapist today. Nabokov pointed out in Lolita that only a space separates your "therapist" from "the rapist." Anyway, he told me I had a problem with breaking rules. He suggested I find some non-destructive avenue for breaking rules. I said, Should I rob a bank? He tittered nervously. He suggested I not tell the entire truth to my lovers. I made a joke about suing him. He didn't laugh as he was supposed to. Then he suggested, for the third time in three weeks, that extreme sports might hold my interest. I told him I was averse to that kind of risk. He suggested travel. I told him instead that I need more art in my life. He nodded and then said, What? Museums? Then I said I was from New York so I defined "art" broadly, then he nodded and still didn't know what I was talking about. Of course I was not just talking about museums, Reed! I was talking about enriching myself with others' creativity as a productive way to satisfy whatever need destructive sex has fulfilled for me in the past! (California has psychotherapist-patient privilege which I just destroyed by publishing our conversation online so if I am sued for something Reed can be called to testify about all the women's names he's been forced to memorize in the last three weeks, Nitzan, Kyla, Molly, Laura, Beth, Amy, Lisa, Karen, Meg, Stephanie, Reena, Sonia, Roona, Ruth, Olivia, Sarah, Josephine, Jessica, Ling, Jane, Marmee. I threw in the names of the Little Women just to trip you up there.)

When I biked home, lo and behold, there was art waiting for me in my mailbox. Here is an awesome drawing by Egon Schiele, Zwei Mädchen (Liebespaar). Thank you, A.F., you're so great. This drawing,

and the others I found like it, lifted me momentarily away from this plastic desk where I sit eight hours a day not studying, and that is the best gift I've gotten in a long while.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

"china inspired interrogations at guantanamo"

I'm seriously having a New York Times hating day. Well, pretty much every day. The editors have problems. I don't even blame the writers. Consider the lede and first paragraph of this article:

The military trainers who came to Guantánamo Bay in December 2002 based an entire interrogation class on a chart showing the effects of “coercive management techniques” for possible use on prisoners, including “sleep deprivation,” “prolonged constraint,” and “exposure.”

What the trainers did not say, and may not have known, was that their chart had been copied verbatim from a 1957 Air Force study of Chinese Communist techniques used during the Korean War to obtain confessions, many of them false, from American prisoners.
And the article goes on, blah blah blah. The point of this article is that in 2002, the American military adopted methods it has long considered to be torture. The point of the article is not to blame the Chinese for America's torture of prisoners in Guanantamo and elsewhere. But what kind of a headline do we get for this article? "China Inspired Interrogations at Guantanamo."

WHAT THE FUCK, NEW YORK TIMES? Here, let me write a better headline for you, "It Was Not American Troops After All In Abu Ghraib, They Were Chinese Wearing Round-Eye Masks; Or, Chinese Played American Troops Like Puppets On Strings, Used Mind Control Techniques, Forced Them To Torture Others; China Dropped Nuclear Bomb On Japan; China Killed Jesus." WHAT THE FUCK??

Note: the two top articles in the Times at this moment are (1) China made our military torture people, and (2) the Chinese military is weaker than ours, a.k.a. China is a problem for America but America's army can take care of that problem. I wonder what you want to happen, New York Times?? C.H. why do you want to own a house if that property is just going to be seized from you and you interned at Manzanar??? I am moving to Canada, fuck you all! The CAD is 1:1 with the USD now!!!!!

"drug arrests were real; badge was fake"

Here is a story about an unemployed ex-security guard who moves to a small town, pretends to be a DEA agent, raids people's homes and arrests them for "drug crimes." The New York Times reports on this, and interviews a person who was "arrested" by the fake DEA agent. This person has not been charged with a crime. The New York Times publishes a headline above this story that reads: "Drug arrests were real; badge was fake."

Real? The arrests were real? In what sense are they using the word real? I may have gotten I:FAIL R:FAIL A:FAIL C:FAIL on my last Torts essay but I am reasonably confident all the elements of defamation have been met when you publish an article about a person arrested by a fake cop for a drug crime and then you insist that that drug crime actually happened.

Like I said, the New York Times is edited by idiots.


Hooray, Texas.