All this happened, more or less...

My name is G and these are the true stories of my adventures.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

GuitarCast III: Let That Be Enough

A little Switchfoot for you this chilly October morning...

I'm a plane in the sunset
With nowhere to land

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

That Thing About Ignorance


My kid sister just got a job in my favorite sandwich shop. She finished her undergraduate work last May, and she's quickly discovered that holding a BA from a prestigious liberal arts university means very little in the work world. To get a real career in her field, she'll have to go back for a Master's (at least). Despite her brilliance and her work ethic, she's joined the ranks of thousands of members of Pepsi Generation Next© who went off to college a few years ago but are now living back in their parents' basements, working minimum wage jobs, and playing World of Warcraft. Because of this, we've been dubbed the Boomerang Generation and accused of being incurably adolescent. It's not all our fault though. Ever since the first day in Miss Gerkin's kindergarten class, we were taught we could grow up to be whatever we wanted; all along, the truth was that we could grow up to be whatever someone else would pay us for. That was a mean trick, Miss Gerkin.

But I do admit that the WoW has gotten a bit out of hand. I mean, I like dragons and stuff, but seriously...


So about my sister and the sandwich shop...

I thought it was really cool. Not just because I was looking forward to free sandwiches (though the thought did cross my mind). I thought it was cool because I thought it was a great little shop. I've been in there a billion times. They have this Smokehouse Turkey Wrap... mmm! Party for your taste buds! She'd also been job-hunting for quite a while with no success, so we were all pretty relieved that she finally landed something.

Then she came home from her first day of work, plopped down on the couch, and declared that she hated it and was going to immediately start looking for something else.

Being the loving older sibling, I immediately started dispensing some love of the "tough" variety. My sister is a great kid and pretty hard-working, but she's not very good at taking orders. (Trust me -- I've been trying to give her orders for 22 years now.) Naturally, I thought she needed to man up a bit in the face of an obnoxious boss or sore feet or whatever was ailing her. With the economy all in a shambles, you don't walk out on a brand-spankin'-new job just because you're unhappy. Especially if you live in your parents' basement.


Well, then she started explaining to me exactly why she didn't like it. Her reasons included things like the uniform they gave her -- which was a dirty company t-shirt (complete with grease smudges & stink), which some former employee had left in a wad in a corner of the coatroom; the food prep area, where other employees (manager included) were consuming their own food and drinks on the disinfected(ish) prep counter whilst preparing orders; and the mushrooms, which her trainer advised her to throw into the slicer without cleaning, even when she inquired about the conspicuous clumps of dirt on them.

Um, yeah.

Obviously, anybody would think the place a bit suspect after hearing that, but I used to manage a little coffee bar, and I am an exacting sumbitch when it comes to Health Code. You think it's bad; I know precisely how bad it is. And if those kind of blatant things are going on, I also know that they aren't monitoring the temp of their refrigerators or the concentration of their disinfectant rinse or the laundering of their rags or... well, I could go on for a while.

So ever since my kid sister got a job at my favorite sandwich shop, I don't eat there anymore.

What's that thing they say about ignorance... and bliss?

Sayonara, Smokehouse Turkey Wrap.


Monday, October 27, 2008

Status Update: G is Stir-Crazy


My life is a bit of a dichotomy. In the summertime, I hardly sit still. This past summer was especially action-packed -- as you probably noticed -- so much so that I took my cat to my parents' house in June and didn't pick him up again until mid-August. I took over 2500 photos in four countries over the course of those three months, and I wrote nearly 200 pages, including personal journals, notes on traveling, bits of fiction, and of course, this blog. This is my idea of a rewarding summer: every day worn threadbare and something to show for it in the end.


If I could live this way twelve months a year, I probably would, but the bills don't pay themselves -- even those sneaky "auto-pay" ones -- and I've yet to find a creditor who'll take a story or a photo in lieu of a check.

Waikoloa Sunset

So when autumn comes, as it invariably must, I turn to the other half of my existence. I dust off stacks of novels, inventory boxes of ball-point pens, and attempt to find my glasses. I dig my dress clothes out of the back of my closet and polish my boots, and the transformation is complete -- from rootless amateur travel guru to studious, sensible, state-certified literature teacher. Camera for dry-erase marker; plane tickets for ID tag; travel brochures and maps for Browning and Shelley, Miller and Vonnegut. My seat-of-the-pants lifestyle vanishes in a neat stack of syllabi, the regulated chiming of bells, the daily comings and goings of my students -- each face in its assigned place at the appointed time. Even when I don't tell them where to sit, they establish their own routines and cling to them stalwartly. They arrive not just at the same time each day, but in the same order like clockwork: Labrina, Ethan, Taj, Kelsey, Tyler... David arrives two minutes late with a pass from the office.

This is what I do from the first of September to the end of May. Not a bad gig, really.

James on the Mandolin

... But if you know anybody who takes stories and photos instead of checks...

Saturday, October 4, 2008

GuitarCast II

I have one little sister. As far as siblings go, she's fairly cool and reasonably easy to get along with for the following reasons:

1) She's young enough that we don't typically compete for friends, boys, or our parents' affection but old enough that we operate on more or less the same plane of existence.

2) She did her BA in US history, so she knows all sorts of things I don't, making her an invaluable resource if I ever end up on Who Wants to be a Millionaire?

3) Her extensive vocabulary and firm command of English grammar mean that I am never ashamed of her at social gatherings -- i.e. she never says "nuculer" in front of my friends.

4) Her feet are not the same size as mine; hence, she has never ever stolen a pair of my shoes.

5) She can do harmonies.

Rockin' the Epiphone

Because she can do harmonies, we like to rock out. And by "rock out" I mostly mean crack ourselves up. We even have a band. Well, we have a band name. We don't know any songs or play any instruments, but we do have the name. I'd tell you, but if you stole it for your own band, got famous, and made a bazillion dollars, I'd be pissed, so for now, the name's a secret.

We do often sit down and attempt to write "songs" for our "band" to "perform," but Sister always has to get critical and make a remark about how every song I write sounds like an Adam Sandler song. This makes perfect sense, since every song I write has the same chord progression as "The Hanukkah Song," but it annoys me that she acts like that's a bad thing.

So in honor of Adam Sandler's kickass song-writing skillz, here's a little video of me singing "I Wanna Grow Old with You." Sister, I know you read this blog even though you feign ignorance, so this one's goin' out to you. Rock on, little sis. Rock on.