Wednesday, May 28, 2008

i want my mexican baby back

Gas prices are ridiculously high right now. I cannot believe it; when I went to fill up my tank two weeks ago, it cost me over $4 / gallon! What is even worse is that someday I will be rereading this post and say to myself, "Wow! Only $4 / gallon; I wish that gas was that cheap now." All I can do now is to fill up at the cheapest station that I can find in order to save myself a quarter each time I fill up. That is exactly what my mom and I were trying to do yesterday as we wasted gas, driving around, looking for the cheapest station. We were in Costa Mesa and she promised me that there was a station by Fashion Island that was selling Premium for 30 cents. I told her that there was no possible way that a gas station would be selling gas for that cheap, but she would not have it. She basically forced me to drive around the bay to this gas station despite all protests on my part. I thought it ridiculous to drive that far for gas, especially when I knew it was not any cheaper over there, not to mention I would probably run out before we got there.

So, my mom and I drive around the bay and find this mystery gas station that she has been talking about and we are about a mile away when my car runs out of gas. So close that we could see the station up ahead, but I did not have enough momentum to roll up the hill to it. We walked the rest of the way to the station and when we got to it, low and behold, gas was over $4 just like everywhere else. There was a bus station next to the gas station, so we decided to ride the bus home and just leave the car. This way we would save money on gas. What a great plan.

There we were, riding the bus, which was crowded and stinky, just like every other bus that I have ever ridden (I have only ridden buses in Thailand.) As the bus attendant came around to collect the fair, he started spouting off, "Oh F*! I'm so freakin' sorry. We have to reroute through the transportation hub in Westminster and we just had a terrorist threat there, so you're looking at a freakin' four hour layover!" He continued, dropping expletives, so I turned to look out the window and tune him out.

We were driving down MacArthur passing Bonita Creek and as I was looking out the window, I noticed that we were driving up next to a convertible Mini Clubman and there was a rather large monkey tied up in the back seat. I thought this had to be the strangest sight that I have seen in Newport, until we pulled up a little bit further and I saw an entire family of four monkeys in the front seat. The papa monkey just looked at me and smiled and as the mama monkey on the far side turned toward me, I saw a human baby in her arms. Apparently, the other cars noticed this as well, because all the cars around us started to drive as close to the Mini as possible in order to take pictures. Everyone seemed to have a professional camera with great big, long zoom lenses.

The rest of the bus ride was uneventful, but when we got to the Westminster bus station I met up with two friends and started chatting. We did not want to wait for four more hours to get home, so one of them decided that he would just transport us home like Mike TV in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. The next thing I knew, I felt myself hurling through the air, but could not see anything. I found myself in a huge room standing by the ankle of a sleeping giant. I was lucky that I was transported and reassembled in an open space. My other two friends, however, were not as lucky. They were now stuck inside the ankle of this slumbering giant and were yelling for help. I think the banging of my friends caused such intense pain that they woke this giant up. She started moaning and clutching her ankle, crying out with pain. The more she moved, the more my friends yelled and pounded from within her skin and it was not getting any better.

did you read my first post?

I just wanted to get out of there, so I ran out the door and found that I was next door to my own apartment. I walked in the front door to find that someone had been in there. My things had been overturned and for some reason someone had erected a Christmas tree, complete with lights and ornaments, in my backyard. I walked through my room and into my bathroom, where wooden cutting boards had been screwed into the counter tops, hanging over the edge. The water was running and there were bubbles in the bathtub. One of the boards supported a little TV set, which was turned on. I stood there long enough to watch a preview of a new movie coming out starring Rob Schneider. I was so discombobulated that I don't remember the preview, except for the end. I heard the narrator with the extremely deep voice say, "... starring Rob Schneider in ...," as Rob comes running around the corner and up to the front door of an apartment building in the slums of Queens and says, "I want my Mexican baby back!"

Thursday, May 15, 2008

why did you eat my dad?!?

The best decision that I made when I was in college, other than the obvious: changing my major to Information & Computer Science and deciding to actually learn during my last year, had to be the decision to become an RA. Being a resident adviser in the dorms was honestly the most chill job ever. Who can argue with free rent, my own room, own living room, own bathroom, and money for food every month? All I had to do was use the dorms money to throw a party once a month, making sure to invite a speaker of some sort. This is why it did not surprise me at all when I found out that my dad took a job as an RA at BYU-Hawaii. I did not know that they let people other than current students become resident advisers, but he got the job, so that is pretty sweet. However, another thing that I found odd was that they did not give my dad a room in the dorm because the old RA was living there and she refused to leave. My dad had to commute to the school every day and if he had to stay the night, he was made to sleep in the living room on the couch. How could he be a "resident" adviser when he was not even a resident? Maybe be was just there to advise the residents, not as an adviser who is a resident. Confused yet?

Either way, I went to visit him one day on my lunch break (yes, I have very long lunch breaks.) I walked into the dorm, but could not find my dad. I assumed that he was out planning a party or something, so I decided to wait in the old RA's room. She must have been some sort of Emo hippie because the bedsheets were tie-dyed and there were Weezer and My Chemical Romance posters on the wall. The room was a disheveled mess with clothes strewn about. I was getting tired of waiting and did not want the old RA to come back to find some stranger in her room, even though that room should have been my dad's, so I walked out and around the dorm to ask the residents if they had seen my dad.

I found that the entire dorm only had two rooms, but no one there had seen my dad, despite how small the place was. They began telling me a story about a dwarf that haunted this dorm and I laughed at them because I could not believe such ridiculousness. I left and went back to the living room to wait. I had not been there for more than a few minutes when a midget (not a dwarf because he was normally proportioned) came hopping into the room wearing a pair of bunny ears. Upon closer inspection, I discovered tufts of hair and little bits of my dad in his drool! I picked the "little person" up and shook him, yelling, "Why did you eat my DAD?!?"

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

three jobs keeping me busy

Back when I first started working in a real, grown-up job, I was also offered a job to coach University High School's girls water polo team. I would absolutely love to coach water polo, but found that it was very difficult to work out my schedule to allow me to do so. However, I decided that I would do it anyway without telling Green Street. This worked well for a while and I thought that if I can fit in one additional job, in the morning before work, I could fit two just as easily. So, I got a job cleaning the house of some very wealthy person living in Newport Coast. Sure, I was tired, but being busy is something that I love.

One morning, the water polo team that i coached had a game against some other high school and we were favored to win by a large margin. As the game progressed my girls forgot all the fundamentals and were just getting run over by the other team. I was getting so upset that they were doing so poorly that I started kicking chairs and yelling at the girls. Never in my semi-professional career had I ever seen anyone play so poorly. They were definitely swimming a mile butterfly after this game. After a disappointing performance and a terrible loss, the stands cleared out and I paced the pool deck while my girls swam. Every puddle that I stepped in, splashing up on my khakis made me even more upset with them. However, the softer side of me began to appeal and I started to feel sorry for my team and stopped their swim. I asked them to think about what had gone wrong and what we could do to play better next time. Everyone left that morning with a better feeling than we had previously and we all knew the action that needed to be taken.

I left the pool deck and headed over to my second secret housing-cleaning job. There was a sauna on the side of the house that I would use as my entrance. I would climb on the roof and enter the sauna; then from there, walk inside the house. I found the rich housewife drinking wine for breakfast and got to work. As I was cleaning the upstairs, people kept coming in and out of the house, tracking dirt around. I had to re-clean everything and when I finally got it all done, I was late for work. Not only was I late, but I also couldn't find my shoes. I remember taking them off when cleaning the upstairs bathroom, but no matter how I searched I just could not find them. After searching frantically, guess who was gnawing on my shoes, but the stupid, mangy dog. I left and showed up at Green Street late with Kao greeting me, saying, "Umm, where have you been and where are your shoes?" I guess I can't get away with secretly holding three jobs.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

intern at hatch

I am always so intrigued by Berley's work. She gets to design restaurants as her job and I never realized how much thought went into all the details. It is really very interesting to hear her talk about her work and I can tell that she really enjoys what she does. Now, I know that I have no artistic or creative ability in this area; even though you may think I should, given that my dad is an architect and my mom is the artsiest, craftiest person that I know. Regardless, I was very excited when Hatch, Kim's work, took me on as an intern. Despite the fact that I was just their little monkey-boy, who ran errands and acted like their little slave, I got to soak in all the creative juices that were flowing and learn more about the interior design world.

My first day there, they were in the middle of their own remodel. The office was gutted and there were make-shift cubicles around the perimeter. Mine was right next to the front door, so I got to see everyone coming and going. In the middle of the office there was a smoothie bar that sold delicious, fresh-fruit smoothies for $10, but curiously they only had guava and durian. Don't ask me why I tried the durian smoothie, because I basically think that it tastes more like meat than fruit, but I did and definitely did not enjoy it. As I was gagging down my smoothie, Kim brought an art piece over for me to look at. It was for an installation in one of the restaurants that she was working on. The piece was a glove that was hand painted and mounted on a stand, but the odd part about it was that each individual fiber was painted a different color and there were frayed threads all over it. As I leaned closer, I realized that a tug of one of the threads changed the color and overall look of the whole piece. It was enthralling and mesmerizing. I stared and played with this glove for a good ten minutes, getting sucked into to and played in the psychedelic world that it created around me. I was slapped back to reality when Kim, snatched the glove from me and told me to get to work.

After my shift had ended, I walked to a house in the Port streets. There was an outdoor shower with glass walls around it, so I proceeded to undress and take a shower. I saw people walking down the street as I showered, but it did not seem to phase them or me. Rich came running down the street full speed and then slid on his okole on the asphalt like some cartoon character. He would skip/jump off the curb that each driveway created (there were nine total, I counted) and when he got to the end of the block, he would jump up and flick the birds the were perched on the street sign, off the sign. Then he would run back up the street and come sliding down, doing it all over again. I saw CD Clayton come out of the fourth house down and watch Rich as well. He shrugged his shoulders and went back inside. I followed his cue and did the same, leaving Rich to his own merriment.

smorgishborg of sport and secret agents

It is always nice to visit your Alma Mater. Walking down those halls that you spent four years studying and stressing, remind you of everything that you have accomplished and how far you have come. As for me, returning to my university has always brought back memories of the wonderful friends and the experiences shared there. My last visit to the University of California, Irvine I did not expect to see anyone that I knew, but as I was walking down the zigzag hallways beneath the old student center, I crossed paths with Michael Knox. He was sitting on a bench with two of our old girlfriends and I contemplated stopping, but the crowd was so thick that it kept pushing me along. Finally, I broke free from the mob and felt bad for not saying hello, so I fought the crowd like a Salmon swimming upstream back to the bench where they were seated. We reminisced back to our freshman year and talked about what we were doing now. As it turns out, Mike was now a professional umpire for the major leagues and made bank. He said that it sort of fell into his lap and he was loving it. There was a game that night and he mentioned that he could get me in the dugout, so I jumped at the chance. Who wouldn’t want to watch a major league game from the dugout?

The game that night was great and it was really interesting seeing a friend be the umpire. However, in the last inning Mike was injured and had to stop. There was only one out left in the game and they didn’t know what to do. Mike suggested that I ump for the final out even though I had no idea what to do. Everyone loved the idea, so I got my gear on and went out there. I took my place behind home plate, but the game did not continue as normal. There was a new rule that I had never heard about. The pitcher was allowed one chance to lob the ball, softball style, and if he hit the plate, the game would be over and that team would win. The pitcher lobbed the ball up and it hit the plate, so I said, “Strike!” This, apparently, was the wrong thing to say because everyone looked at me and said that I did it wrong. I was supposed to put my finger in the air and twirl it (like you do when you say “Whoop-Dee-Doo!”) So, I did that and the pitcher got very upset with me. He said that I was making fun of the game because I did not twirl my finger correctly and then the whole team started yelling at me. They started acting like a mob, getting all riled up, and then started to chase me! I fled the stadium and down the street. I think that it was pure adrenaline that allowed me to outrun these professional athletes, but I finally lost them as I ducked into the gymnasium of some random high school.

As I entered the gym, I saw crowds of people that were watching two competitions going on at once. There was rhythmic gymnastics and a basketball spinning contest currently under way. Apparently I was a member of the cheerleading squad because they came up to me frantically asking me where was and had my uniform that I needed to change into right then. I changed and saw that Leland Brown was on my squad with me. When I was ready to cheer he jumped up very excitedly and was ready to go. I was the captain, so I lead our first cheer, but Leland kept trying to change the cheer and was off-beat. I was getting very frustrated that our cheers were not going as rehearsed and began looking for a way out of this. I heard over the PA announcing the next rhythmic gymnast would be Kyle Smigelski, but he was nowhere to be found. I was so fed up with my current situation that I decided to jump up and grab a basketball to spin in the contest, while doing rhythmic gymnastics, combining the two competitions in Kyle’s place. I got on the floor, still dressed as a cheerleader, and found that no matter how hard I tried, I could not get that basketball to spin on my finger for more than a tenth of a second. The fact that I was doing gymnastics at the same time was definitely not helping the situation. As I finished my routine, there were only one of two people clapping and I heard a couple of coughs, so I slunk slowly off the floor back to my place with the cheerleading squad. Upon discovering that I was not Kyle, the head judge came over to scold me and I could not help but laugh at him. He was getting nowhere with me, so he eventually left.

As I was sitting in the stands the competition area was rushed by my fraternity, Kappa Sigma, and another, Sigma Alpha Epsilon. They broke into a game of “Smear the Queer,” which got the crowd excited and everyone began cheering wildly. At times the football that they were using would get thrown into the stands and the crowd would throw it back down to the players or toss it around the stadium like a beach ball at a baseball game. Everyone was enjoying the good fun, when the floor of the gym opened up exposing a pool underneath that all the players fell into, just like in “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Once the pool was revealed everyone decided that a good swim meet was in order. I walked down to where the starting blocks were and I ran into Ihab Iskandar from my fraternity. He was trying to tie a tie, but had it upside-down so I told him that he needed to flip it over if he wanted to tie it correctly. My dad was right there, so he offered to help and I walked outside of the gym.

Outside the gym, Sean Connery was waiting for me and began to explain a very secret mission that I was to help him with. Apparently, there was a bathroom underneath this gymnasium that was completely plated in gold. Back in ancient times, this bathroom was used by royalty and was run by one-thousand Singaporean geisha. It was hidden, but he had two of the four keys to a device that would open the secret stairwell to the bathroom. I suddenly remembered that I already knew all about this mission, but I was a double agent working for another country also. The Czech Republic had commissioned me to contact Sean Connery because they already had two of the keys and knew that he had the others. A man that I was working with from the Czech Republic came up to us and discretely handed me the keys. He asked me about the president and I was supposed to answer in code. If the mission was going as planned I would tell him that I liked the president, but instead I said, “George Bush is gay,” and he took this as a sign that my identity had been compromised, so he took off running. Now that we had all four keys, Sean Connery opened up the remote device, which had four slots filled with liquid nitrogen. He deposited his two keys and I dropped mine in there as well. As we did this, the outside corner of the gymnasium rotated, exposing a stairwell going below. I was supposed to wait for Sofia Milos, from CSI: Miami, before entering the golden bathroom, so I stayed at the entrance. Sean decided that he would go on ahead, and as he started down the stairwell, the entire structure collapsed in on top of him and the golden bathroom was sealed up forever.

Monday, May 5, 2008

from russia with love

It amazes me how fanatical the world outside of the US is about the sport of soccer. It has never really caught on here in the states, but go anywhere else in the world and it is one of the only sports that really matter. I realized this when I was on my mission in Thailand during the World Cup. When soccer is on, life stops. My own personal soccer experience consists of AYSO when I was five and two seasons playing for Green Street Advisors’ team. When I was little, soccer consisted of a huddle of kids buzzing around the ball like bees. When the ball escaped the huddle, the bees all looked around confused until the ball was spotted and the frantic buzzing migrated to the ball and continued. Now that I am older, the game is a lot different, but my skill has not improved much. At least I can say that I scored a goal during my last season and had about a dozen assists to one of my high school water polo teammates, Carter Grant. Despite my love for the game, I just really am not that good at it, so you can imagine my surprise when I was contacted by the Russian National soccer team and recruited to play for their team. I did not even have enough time for any practices with them, but they wanted me to come out and play for their first game that week. I flew out, got all my sweet soccer gear, and ran out to warm up with the team. After kicking the ball around a little bit the game was ready to begin.

They assigned me to play mid-center and I was pumped. All the screaming fans and athletes at the top of their game from all around the world; here with me. It was a rush to say the least. The pace of the game was faster than anything I had previously experienced and the ball flew past me multiple times making me a little dizzy. I was glad that I was in the middle so I had backup on every side. All I really remember was kicking at the ball and missing multiple times and just to practice, I decided to do a bicycle kick when the ball was not even near me. That half ended and the coach pulled me aside. He said that after my performance that half, he did not think that they had any more need for me. He had made a mistake and I was free to go, but could keep the swag. I walked out of the stadium thinking that I had a pretty good professional soccer career even though it was so short lived. The coach obviously didn’t see my bicycle kick.

I thought that was where my adventures in Russia would end, but that was not to be so. I checked into my hotel and passed out. Upon awaking, I found myself in the apartment of what was obviously the residence of the missionaries. I rubbed my eyes and my rather large, overweight companion tells me that it is time to get ready. I was a little confused, so he explained that his other companion needed a vacation and was in Jakarta for the next couple weeks. I was there to help him teach in the meantime and we had a full day planned, so we had better get going. I went into the bathroom to wash my face and turned on the faucet as I enjoyed the view of the city out of my window. It was hazy and grey, but they gorgeous cityscape stretched before me with the rays of the rising sun cutting through the morning mists. As I was pondering how I got there, I realized that the water in Russia was very, very thick. It gooped out of the faucet and onto my hands. It smelled and tasted just like regular water, but it was just extremely thick. It had the consistency of liquid soap, but did not stick to my hands. It just ran off almost like regular water would. How very interesting, indeed.

Well, I got ready and out the door we headed. I had my Mini with me, so we drove instead of riding our bikes. The back taillight was out, but we didn’t have any time to spare to fix it. So, I had my companion drive my car while I sat in the trunk with the tailgate slightly ajar, to fix it as we drove. Just my luck, as we were motoring down the highway a motorcycle cop pulls up right behind me as I am hanging out of the trunk. We pull off the road and into a Starbucks parking lot where he begins to scold me. As he is writing me a ticket, I start to pretend to cry and tell him about my perfect, flawless driving record. “Could you please just let me off this one time? I have a clean record and I promise never to do it again.” I think the Russian cop liked Americans or at least Hawaiians because he contemplated it and let me off. He slapped my okole and said, “Good Game!”