Monday December 31 2012


Waking up. I check my phone. It’s 11:11 a.m.

Strawberry Toaster Pastries. Orange Juice.

All day shift at China Wok.

A Russian grandfather and dad with a son walk in for a pick-up order. I recognize their accent. Before they leave I ask if they’re Russian and attempt to impress them with a Russian sentence that translates to “I understand Russian only a little.” The dad smiles and congratulates me in such a way, “Xорошо.” Then the kid approaches the counter showing me his toy airplanes.

Grilled Cheese Bagel with Edamame Hummus and Tomato. Goldfish Crackers. Honey Green Tea.

Because of it being New Year’s Eve the streets are a little more crowded than usual – everyone racing to grab the last champagne bottle. Noticing more taxis and other delivery drivers zooming around along with an increase in police presence on the road.

The day just zooms by – order after order after order after order.


Exchanging a few texts with Leslie. She’s still working on stitching up my pants. She mentions something about her day not going well. I offer her to vent her troubles here at The Wok. She doesn’t come but says, “Hey, thank you. I seriously am super grateful we became friends.”

Me: “I am grateful as well. you’ve chosen to take a ride on this ‘friend’ ship and I can guarantee you a safe yet adventurous voyage.”

Leslie: “:0) glad to hear it capt’n bc this little LAS doesn’t swim all that well...”

Towards the end of my shift I’m getting agitated as the orders keep calling in causing me to work an extra hour later than usual. I find myself uncontrollably mumbling complaints to myself as I walk in and out of the restaurant.

I finally clock out of China Wok shortly after 11 p.m. I drop by the house to scoop up Darren. We deliver my last order of the night together like the delivery brothers we are. I make him drive so I can focus on shoveling my dinner into my mouth. I’m starving.

Broccoli, Snow Peas, Onions, and Rice in Brown Sauce.

Darren’s a little slow at maneuvering the car around the oceanfront. After dropping off Chinese food to customers at Palm Grove we pull up into Elliott’s driveway expecting a lively bonfire and friends but none of the sort is happening.

Me: “What in the world? Where is everybody?”

We call Elliott and he seems a little discouraged because apparently nobody showed up so he’s just lying in bed.

Me: “What? C’mon! I’ve got two bottles of champagne in the backseat. At least share a bottle with us.”

But he’s dead set on resigning for the night. So there we are, Darren and I, at 11:45 p.m. with no back up plan. I entertain the idea of grabbing a beer at Harpoon Larry’s, Margot’s workplace. At first it was kind of a joke but then we actually do it.


There. Darren and I grab a beer. They’re handing out plastic champagne cups for everyone. Margot is working. I hug and say happy new year and whatnot. We don’t stay long...just long enough to watch the ball drop on TV.

Soon after we join up with friends at Rick’s Café. James, Tristan, Anthony, Kelley, and Leisa are present.

Apple Pie.

James enlightens us with a hipster joke, “Why did the hipster burn his tongue on his coffee?”

Us: “Why?”

James: “Because he drank it before it was cool!”

[Ha! Ha! Ha!]

Everything is jovial and cheerful – the air is filled with a general spirit of excitement for 2013...but really it’s just another night at Rick’s.

Sleep 4:30 a.m.

[i] All images by me.

Sunday December 30 2012


☼ ○ ▬

Scanning a crowded gymnasium. Picking out a semi-familiar girl from the mass and approaching her. I compliment her attractive appearance. She’s not convinced that I think she’s pretty and adds that she has a boyfriend.

Me: “That’s okay. It doesn’t matter.”

Wesley Bunch appears. Apparently he’s her boyfriend. He’s wearing some grey and black colored woolen sweater. I’m half aware that I’m dreaming and decide to have my way considering there are no consequences. So I pick the girl up and carry her to a classroom where it’s understood to be a sex room. You can rent a bed for 30 minutes at a time in here but there’s no curtains or anything. Everything’s out in the open. No beds are available so I revert to a desk with a chair attached to it. The girl seems to be semi-unconscious. I lay her out missionary style. A woman that’s supposed to be the manager of the room is sitting directly next to us making it a little awkward. She writes our names down and hands us two limes to show we’ve rented. Wesley barges in interrupting our sex and starts shooting at me with a gun. It makes this weird flatulence-pop sound but no bullets come out. In reflex I snag the gun from his hands and start shooting him back. It turns out to be a fart gun. He laughs about it.

▬ ○ ☼

Waking up around 11:30 a.m.


All day shift at China Wok.

It’s true I can honestly say I’ve been working this job too the point where I could crash and burn and lose my sanity...or just turn on my apathetic auto-pilot, which I normally do eventually. But these non-tippers are really striking a nerve today. Too many shit-tips in a row can cause aggravation. The color of a person’s skin makes no difference to me when it comes to respect or basic equality, but I’ve never been able to wrap my head around why 90% of my stiffs come from black people.


Delivering an order on Realty Lane. A black girl in grey sweatpants and lazy attitude answers the door. Her total is $13.92. She hands me a twenty.

I ask, “Alright. Um. So how much you need back?”

I use this tactical question to help hint at the fact I’m expecting a tip. I think it’s a subtle and polite method.

She answers, “ I mean six.”

I hand her six bucks, “Ooookay. Here’s six. That leaves me with eight cents.”

I kind of left the last sentence hanging in the air.

Half embarrassed she just says, “Yeah...” and starts to close the door. At this point the customer knows without a doubt that she’s not tipping me.

I add, “I work for tips just so you know.”

Without remorse and another “Yeah” she closes the door. 

Scrambled Egg. Five Guys French Fries with Ketchup. Honey Green Tea.

Delivering an order to Colonial Arms Circle. The nice shorthaired white girl deliberately crosses a straight line next to the tip section on the credit card receipt. I joke to myself in the car as I drive away, “And there’s the 10%!”

Dark Chocolate.

The day continues steadily into the night. The orders keep coming. Even though I’m not making as much of a top dollar as I was yesterday, today is still busy enough to produce a decent profit despite the 6 out of 34 orders that were stiffs.

Vegetable Lo Mein.

Off work and back home. 

Chatting with Leslie on the phone.

Leslie: “I don’t even know where I am right now. I entered a world I didn’t even know I was entering and got lost in it for a little while.”


Venting a little bit on the frustrations of my day. She has this to say about the non-tipping black people epidemic, “The African-American population spends more money on nondurable goods like clothing...and frivolous things. They spend money excessively. Right behind that is Hispanics, Hispanic females specifically. I guess when a black person stiffs you so many times it’s more evident. Because it’s something that draws your attention when it happens.”

Downstairs de-shelling the pecans I got from North Carolina while continuing a discussion with Leslie.

Enjoying some of my slightly burnt Oven-Roasted Pecans with Milk.

Sleep 3:30 a.m.

[i] Album artwork for single release of Cui Jian's “Nothing To My Name”.

Saturday December 29 2012


Waking up at 11:05 a.m.

Strawberry Toaster Pastries. Orange Juice.

All day shift at China Wok.

It’s a dreary rainy day.

Grilled Cheese Bagel with Edamame Hummus and Tomato. Salt n Vinegar Chips. Honey Green Tea.

My attempt at charming the customers at their doorstep to reap a good tip sometimes works but for the hard-asses is futile. No matter what degree of pleasant small talk there is, the non-tipper stiffs you every time. I could smile like a grateful and happy little boy, compliment their stupid shirt, or even admire their yapping dog, but who am I kidding? Once an ignant, always an ignant.

It’s the weekend before New Years and this restaurant is abnormally busy. It’s a Chinese food frenzy as the pick-up orders pile up and the delivery orders over-run my passenger seat floorboard. I get stuck behind the counter tending to walk-ins, answering the phones left and right, and organizing tickets. At one point I just announce out loud, but not so loud, “I can’t do everything at once!” 

Leslie pops in for a visit but also with a purpose. She’s supposed to mend a kneehole in one of my pairs of pants. She rides around with me on a run during the most hectic part of the night.

Leslie: “You work hard and you care about the service(s) you provide...both of which are admirable, as well as exceptional attributes of character.”

Finally clocking out of this dreadful yet fruitful workday.

Fried Shrimp with Broccoli, Onions, Carrots, and Rice in Garlic Sauce.

Watching Dredd (2012).

Fortune cookies say, “I think and that is all that I am.” and “For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them.”

Composing myself.

Sleep 4 a.m.

[i] Kinetic Photograph.

Friday December 28 2012


☼ ○ ▬

I’m just an ordinary student who felt the need to rise up and stand against the corruption in our school. I march into a classroom and verbally go off on a teacher in particular who was known for degrading students. I shout and repeat phrases like, “You’re a joke!” and “You’re beyond idiocracy!”

The teacher leaves the room in a shameful fit. The faculty arrives on the scene after hearing all the commotion. One of the guys I know personally and beg that he give me just one more minute to talk to the class, “Hey. Just give me one minute. Please. Just one minute.” He allows it. So I turn to the classroom and begin my speech...

“Don’t be a mental retard!”

The students laugh and cheer.

“ know what I mean. I’m not talking about being retarded. I’m talking about the mind!”

▬ ○ ☼

Waking up just before 1 p.m.

Strawberry Toaster Pastries. Orange Juice. Zinc (50 mg).

Out running some errands. Stopping at the shop on 17th street to fix my brake light. Then to Plato’s Closet to sell back some unwanted clothes. I happen to run into Leisa, almost literally, inside the store. We chat for quite a while out front about the problems she’s facing with college in Maryland and trying to infiltrate communities. She traded two massages for two psych readings and both of them foretold the opposite fortune.

Lesia: “Well what do you think, Robert? You’re wise………looking.”


Me: “Wise...looking. Well, I don’t think you should get caught up in what others are telling you. The answers are inside you...not out there. The universe can help guide you...or other people can help illuminate what’s already inside you.”

Back home.

Skype chat with Aysena.

Egg Bagel with Mayonnaise and Tomato. Goldfish.

I get called into China Wok for a few hours. 


In Kelley and Anthony’s room, Kelley, Leisa, and Erin Gilroy. They’re talking like birds and I’m the bird watcher.

Lentils, Carrots, Mushrooms, Bok Choy, Onions, and Rice with Garlic Bread.

Leslie strolls in and we attempt to make homemade ice cream using coconut cream and blueberries. It’s proving difficult, as the consistency isn’t coming out the way we planned.

Everyone’s corralled downstairs in the dining room chatting up storms.

I ask Leisa, “Did you just add more makeup?”

Leisa: “No. Why do I look made-up?”



I had commissioned Leslie to make one of her infamous fabric bracelets for my stepsister before I left at Christmas but we didn’t get the chance to meet up until it was too late. She hands it over to me. It’s incredible the things she can create from scraps. It wasn’t meant for me but I try it on; the size doesn’t fit on my wrist. I comment about how small it is and she snatches it away from me with an animated reaction.

Leslie: “I’ll wear it!”

Me: “You’re so funny. As soon as there’s even a hint of disappointment you’re like, Oh my gosh. That’s fine. Give it back!


Darren resigns to his room with an exit line, “I have undead souls to kill.”


At some point Leisa leaves. Every now and then I pop my head in Kelley’s bedroom and talk with her and Erin who’s faithfully sipping on a bottle of white wine.

Kelley: “She stays on her old flings and then gathers new ones. It’s not just sex. She likes the attention.”

Erin: “No I like to have sex.”

Me: “Of course you do but it’s not always about the sex. It’s about the self-esteem.”

Erin: “I just wanna get married and have some kids.”

Kelley: “So you’re looking for the perfect man. You’re on the manhunt. She’s looking for the baby daddy is what she’s doing.”

Erin: “No I’m not looking for a baby daddy. I just want someone to travel and love me and we can do stuff together.”


In the kitchen, Leslie and I are still working on the ice cream. She asks something about kosher salt.

Me: “Wait. What? It isn’t kosher salt.”

Leslie: “I don’t know. I’m just running my mouth.”

I playfully retort, “Maybe you should learn to stop running your mouth and think about what comes out of it.”

She adds, “Or what goes into it.”

Me: “Well you can think about what goes into it later.”


Leslie: “That sounds like innuendo...for sure!”


Upstairs in my room I show Leslie some photos from the last four days I spent in North Carolina. Anthony pops in with an apparent excitement from running into a few old friends tonight. One of them happens to work for the military rec center and mentioned they were in need of basketball coaches for their basketball league for boys under 10-years old. He seems real stoked about the whole opportunity because it might actually be a legitimate job.

I pick on him, “Well how would you approach that? You never coached a team before.”

Anthony: “What’re you talking about?”

Me: “What’s the first thing you’re gonna have them do? First day of practice.”

Anthony: “Trust: the falling back exercise. So they’ll catch each other. Then show em’ Space Jam after that. Take a break. Then after that go to CiCi’s. Then some free-throws...”


Me: “What’re you gonna name the team?”

Anthony: “Anthony and the Jordans.”



We convince Erin to wait it out before she tries driving home because we’re not confident in her substance control. Eventually she sobers up and dips out.


Leslie lingers for a little bit longer as we discuss how incredible it would be for a 30-year old (or older) blind person, after being blind all his life, to suddenly be given the ability of sight. For some reason it grips me strong.

Me: “Oh my gosh. That’s gotta be the scariest thing ever. I mean can you imagine that? Everything this person perceived over the years now comes to life! That’s so crazy. I wonder if his imagination would match up.”

Sipping on a beer.

Sleep 4 a.m.

[i] Image by me.

Thursday December 27 2012


Waking up at noon.

Oranges. Cinnamon Brown Sugar Oatmeal Square. Hot Green Tea with Honey.

I’m still here in North Carolina at my dad’s place. We all drive out to my great uncle JW’s farm in Greenville. I haven’t seen him in years and years, not since I was a little boy. I’ve got a few memories of this place.

He pulls out a bunch of old textbooks and children’s books ranging from the 30’s to the 60’s. My dad and I discover red lips splotched on the introduction page of an arithmetic book. Underneath it says, “a friend.”

My dad pokes fun at JW, “You recognize the lips?”

JW: “No.”


Patty: “Maybe girlfriend.”

JW: “I had so many when I was coming along I can’t remember. All the girls loved me.”

Patty: “What happen wit ya girlfriend?”

JW: “I run them at a time.”

JW gives us the tour of the farm. Inside the big barn that’s now renovated into a car garage.

JW: “This used to be dirt in here. This is where we would bring the wagon cart in and bring the corn and put it in the barn.”

Across the field sits a small graveyard. JW describes a ghost occurrence: “There’s a house right over here...across the field. And in front of it, down close to the highway, there’s a graveyard. And they [neighbors] swear that they see lights, ball of like a moon of light, leave that graveyard and go to that one and disappear. And they also say that they see it go out of that graveyard and go to that one.”

My dad chuckles and says, “Make you wanna come out here and sleep one night and check it out.”


Hanging out in the kitchen and cracking open freshly fallen Pecans from the tree. JW concocts a homemade cocktail sauce. I warm up one of the Tamales to eat with it. JW educates us on some not-so-well known information.

JW: “You know the American Indian lived on corn and potatoes. That’s how in Europe they didn’t have it. They didn’t have corn or potatoes. And did not have tomatoes. They talk about Italian sauce like it was created in Italy. The damn tomatoes were found here! Now I know that from reading the history books.”


JW: “We have let things get so far out of hand it’s ridiculous. It’s a joke and nobody can laugh at it. It’s a damn shame. In 1950, a person that made $50 a week could make payment on his house, could buy a car, raise three children, $50 a damn hour now is what it almost takes.”

He continues his rant on moon conspiracies and the crookedness of our government officials. I never knew I had such an enlightened great-uncle.

JW: “See, the government thinks if a man is working with the government he has no reason to lie so therefore you s’posed to believe him regardless how ridiculous it sounds. That’s the truth.”

Dad: “Boy our government’s a joke. Both parties to me are a disgrace.”

JW: “All of em’ a disgrace. They need to be replaced.”

Dad: “I guess all these other countries laughin’ at us.”

JW: “Yeah. We’re a joke!”

Dad: “Look at them stupid Americans.

JW: “And I tell ya something else, Wayne. You can betcha last dollar if you live another twenty years you gon’ find out that J. Edgar Hoover had the mafia to kill John F. Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, and...what’s the black guy’s name?”

Dad: “Martin Luther King.”

JW: “Had him killed. All of em’. Hoover was so uptight cause Robert had more goin’ than the president did and he was cuttin’ that man’s power and he didn’t like Robert. And Johnson was a crooked man. You couldn’t trust him. He knew that Kennedy was gon’ be killed! And he was in place at that given time. And then Hoover hated black people. Okay? So he had King killed. You can believe that’s the way all that happened. I’ll believe it and I always will believe it. And the day that Kennedy got killed I came from fishin’. I came ashore wavin’ in myself. And they said that Kenney had been shot and killed and Johnson’s on the plan taking the oath – the sonuvabitch was waitin’ to get on the plane to do it. I knew right then what had happened.”

Dad: “Yeah. It was a conspiracy.”

JW: “But I see a lot of damn things that’s wrong. When you sit down and things don’t look right, if you investigate you’re gonna find out why they don’t look right...because they aren’t right. I’ll tell ya this. The more that you try to do right and be right the more your government will not like you.”

My dad turns to us with a grin and says, “You come out here and get educated. Well children, let’s go.”

I say my goodbyes and give my hugs. It was a pleasant little Carolinian vacation. I drive off down the road up highway 13. Catching up with my mom on the phone.

Back home in Virginia Beach.

Snacking on Cinnamon Peanut Butter Crumpets and Milk.

Cleaning up and getting some chores done.

Garlic, Lentil, Mushroom, and Carrot Soup for dinner.

Watching Murder By Proxy: How America Went Postal (2010).

Sleep 4 a.m.

[i] All images by me.

Wednesday December 26 2012


☼ ○ ▬

I’m trapped on a battleship in the middle of the ocean but it doesn’t house aircraft or anything like that. It’s only function is this mechanical machine built in the center of the ship...a big pool arena where they’re running tests on this new technology. The design is similar to that of the robot shark creature in James and the Giant Peach (1996) or the giant digger machines from The Matrix movies. The team that works here forces society’s delinquents to be a part of the government experiments. But it’s not so bad as it sounds. I only have to be inside the pool arena and merely observe this colossal construction. Here I am wading in the water – waves begin to ripple around me – a line of huge saw discs spinning at the far end of the ship where it opens up out into the ocean. Any unsuspecting victim would be shredded to pieces if sucked up into this thing. Then, I watch ridge-lined rollers begin to press along the surface of the water like a meat grinder. Even though I’m safe from its plunder it’s still all so terrifying. I manage to escape to the top level. I find a few pieces of clothing to disguise my appearance. I climb down to the mess hall where a lot of people are waiting in line to get tickets off this God-forsaken ship. A government worker recognizes who I am.

I reassure him, “Don’t worry. I’m not gonna resist.”

Then I rise from my seat and throw two rocks with superhero speed; they knock him and another down on the floor. A tall black man with four arms marches through the glass doors with intent on crushing me. I hide behind a Hispanic woman. I imagine darting outside on the deck and then flying straight up into the sky.  

▬ ○ ☼

Waking up at 12:46 p.m.

Oranges. Hot Green Tea with Honey.

Chatting with Aysena on Skype. Briefly she meets my dad, my stepmom, and my stepsister. She was worried about meeting my father for whatever reason.

Me: “See? That wasn’t so hard.”

Ays: “I was worried he was going to ask a lot of questions.”

Me: “No. But when you meet my mom she will ask you a lot of questions. But she’s very kind. She’ll just hug your heart.”

My dad and I head into town for some father-son time. Getting lunch at LongHorn Steakhouse.

Salmon Salad with Bread and a Killian.

It’s nice to be able to get down to the brass tax of life – sharing thoughts and ideas on politics, his newly acquired daughter, and memories.

Dad: “I think sometimes God has a purpose for you. And...I’ve done a lot of things in my life I’m not real proud of...some of them good things, some of them bad things but...God’s blessed me and I’m glad I could bless her [Jennifer] and it will totally change her life. If she stayed over there [Honduras], who knows. Now she’s got an opportunity of a lifetime.”


There’s a painting on the wall of two cowboys on horses with a western desert backdrop.

My dad points out, “I’d of liked to live in that time.”

Me: “So you wanted to be a cowboy huh?”

Dad: “Well I’d like to live in that day. I think it’d be cool. It’s kind of wild. And you had to live on what you made.”

Me: “Everyone had a horse.”

Dad: “Grow your own food. Raise your own cows.”

Me: “You can go to Texas and do that right now. They got ranches there.”


Me: “So what’d you wanna do when you were little? You must’ve had a dream or something.”

Dad: “Ah well you know. I didn’t have much of a choice. Because of what happened to mom and dad I didn’t have much of a choice.”

Me: “Well before you didn’t have a choice, what’d you wanna do?”

Dad: “Well my dad always wanted me to be a doctor. But it didn’t turn out that way. Ha! I always wanted to be a schoolteacher though. Teach school and coach a sport. I think when I retire I might put in to be a substitute teacher.”


Dad: “Pretty soon you need to make a choice of what you gonna do.”

Me: “Well it’s not a matter of choice, it’s a matter of getting there. I know what I wanna do. Right now I’m trying to clear the weeding things out of my life that are taking up my energy and time that I could be putting into music.”


Me: “Still not married yet either.”

He grins and says, “No. Heh-heh-heh. If you ain’t ready don’t do it.”

Trip back into town with the whole family. On the military base, a place I have many fond memories of as a child when I used to stay with my dad in the summertime. We go bowling; it’s a penny a pin tonight apparently, meaning every pin that gets knocked down you only pay a penny for. It’s funny being here and hanging out for the past two days. I feel like a kid again – my dad pays for everything. Patty and dad sit on the sidelines and watch Jennifer and I bowl four games into oblivion. I can’t even remember the last time I bowled. My hand is amateur for sure. An expert group of oldies bowl in the lane next to us – they’ve got their own custom-made balls, gloves, and everything.


Afterwards, we coast through a few nearby neighborhoods that are renowned for having extravagant Christmas lights and decorations in their yard. Then we stop at a McDonald’s for Lattes.

Back at the house. Eating some Pumpkin Pie. Jennifer and I hanging out in the guest room – talking about our family history – talking about what she wants to do later in life: be a doctor or be a flight attendant – snapping photos via webcam (divertido). Qué lindo.

Suiting up in my red hoodie and jogging around my dad’s neighborhood. It’s after 1 in the morning and not a soul is stirring. The wind is brisk on my face. I close my eyes for a minute while running and it almost feels like I’m flying.

Settling in with a plate of leftover Turnips, Mashed Potatoes, and Collard Greens.

Watching Stake Land (2010).

Sleep 3 a.m.

[i] Shark Robot. Design by unknown.

Tuesday December 25 2012


☼ ○ ▬

With a group of examiners sorting through a chest. It contains a collection of Pogs and some coin money. It’s understood to belong to me. I discover a silver dollar that’s made of pure gold, manufactured back in the 1880’s. I pass it around. Burrell, an old landlord lady my mom and I used to live with when I was a child, is here. She offers me a sip from her square glass flask that seems to be aflame. I clasp it but carefully because I don’t want to get burnt.

Me: “Is this safe?”

She just grins and assures me it’ll be fine.

▬ ○ ☼

My dad opens the door to the guest room and exclaims, “You gonna sleep all day?” It’s 1 p.m. My body feels like it just caught up on an entire week’s sleep.

Jennifer, my stepsister, just got a Kindle Fire for Christmas. I help her configure the settings.

Tamale. Orange Juice.

We drive to Aunt Deloris’s house in Grimesland. It’s the same faces from Thanksgiving. Running around the yard with the kids – shooting Nerf guns – kicking the soccer ball – snacking on various Cakes and sipping on Coffee.

On the drive back to the house. These North Carolina two-lane roads are so narrow and confusing. Amazed at how my dad knows the directions. We’ve probably made about 15 turns already.

Me: “How do you know where you’re going? These roads are like a maze.”

Dad: “I’ve lived here a long time.”


Jennifer and I huddle next to each other as we take turns at this running game on her Kindle Fire. The object of the game is to run away from monkeys and collect gold coins while avoiding obstacles. It’s kind of addicting but proves difficult to maneuver while our dad swerves left and right.

Back at the house in Goldsboro. Christmas dinner is being prepared. It’s a typical southern-style spread: Ham, Mashed Potatoes with Gravy, Collard Greens, Turnips, and Beets. Sipping on an exceptionally sweet Christmas Dublin Wine.

My dad and I continue to be entertained by Patty and Jennifer as they babble on in broken English. My dad gets a kick out of poking fun at them.

I remind him, “You asked for this...”

I think he’s grateful though for this kind of family atmosphere at his old age. He’s 64. Patty is 39.

I point out, “You realize when you were 25 she was just being born.”

Everybody laughs.

Settling down in the guest room. Jennifer accompanies me, watching some Spanish soap opera on her Kindle while I sift through the photos of the day.

I feel a scratch in my throat. Sipping on hot Honey Tea with a small slice of Spice Cake.

Sleep 3 a.m.

[i] All images by me.

Monday December 24 2012


☼ ○ ▬

I’m on the clock at China Wok delivering an order to a big old white house in some 70-year-old neighborhood. They’ve reconstructed the house into apartments, which is typical of Virginia Beach. A black man answers the side door. The total for his order is $11.22. He slyly hands me $6 but I don’t notice that it’s $6 until he closes the door. I get angry and bang on his front window. His roommate starts laughing but never turning his head to acknowledge me. Turns out it was a test or a joke. The guy returns to the door and hands me ten more dollars.

▬ ○ ☼ ○ ▬

Living in an apartment, railroad style – my room is a long narrow hallway and the walls are separated by a curtain. I lift the sheet to discover Minnie has been living next door all this time, her bed even situated in the same position like mine.

Me: “Minnie! We’ve been sleeping next to each other this whole time. I can’t believe it.”

In a hallway next to her I watch as a gang of cats and dogs run by.

▬ ○ ☼

Waking up at 11 a.m.

Strawberry Toaster Pastries. Orange Juice. Zinc (50 mg).

All day shift at China Wok.

Grilled Cheese on a Bagel with Hummus and Tomato. Tortilla Chips with Homemade Salsa. Honey Green Tea.

It’s ordinarily steady for business even though it’s Christmas Eve.

While waiting for orders a customer sits across the restaurant and watches me lurk on my laptop.

“You on Reddit?” he asks.

“What’s that?”

“Are you on Reddit right now?”

“Oh no. I’m writing a blog right now.”

“Oh. You look like you got a sense of irony about you. You seem really focused on what you’re doing.”

After describing the purpose of the blog to him he tells me about how he works for Verizon and how they’re in the process of changing all the internet to FiOS, and something about wire tapping and how everyone’s information will be technically public in the next ten years (not like it already isn’t). At least three times he recites a quote by Justice Louis D. Brandeis, “Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants,” which I guess refers to the transparency I was explaining to him about my blog. He walks out with his food in hand and says, “Remember that. And Merry Christmas.”

Coffee with Hazelnut Cream and a little bit of Sugar. M&M’s.

The night continues with mediocre tips – racking up the miles.

Broccoli, Snow Peas, Onions, Egg, and Rice in Brown Sauce.

Off work at 10 p.m.

At home – getting ready to leave for North Carolina. Before I dip out Anthony gives me a Christmas present: a CD album he recorded of him reciting the blog.

On the road...listening to Anthony’s voice reading aloud select blog entries from last year. It’s a different experience when hearing someone else’s voice read to you. It’s also strange and nostalgic to hear about last year’s struggles, or at least a snippet of them. There’s something special about this...knowing I’ve encapsulated these memories into day-to-day memoirs and knowing others have experienced my personal romanticism through them.

It’s a lonely drive down I-95 until my mom calls with an incredible story to share about a little girl she saw walking down the road all by her lonesome late at night.


I’m about 30 minutes away. I drive by a few reindeer just standing inches from the road. Santa’s reindeer? My mind wanders to all those kids tucked in their beds dreaming in anticipation for the next morning when they’ll awaken to pretty little wrapped packages under the Christmas tree. I used to be that kid. And here I am behind the wheel at 2 in the morning, not that kid anymore.

I arrive at my dad’s house.

Sleep 3:30 a.m. 

[i] Image by me.

Sunday December 23 2012


☼ ○ ▬

Jimmy and my mom visit me at the house. They’ve just arrived and stocked the fridge full of fresh blueberries and blackberries from Florida. I pick out a blackberry. It’s plump and bigger than normal. The juice is sweet and barely bitter.

▬ ○ ☼

Alarm goes off at 11:05 a.m. but I don’t get up till 11:30.

Instant Blueberry Oatmeal. Coffee with Honey and Milk.

All day shift at China Wok.

Typical day at work – putting the fried noodles in little baggies – getting stiffed once or twice out on a run.

Five Guys French Fries with Ketchup. Honey Green Tea.

Elliott drops by at random and joins me on a few delivery runs. I’m feeling a little wound tight from the scattered stress of the day and vent.

Me: “Dude, I almost got hit three times this parking lot.”

The surge of Christmas traffic makes things a little more difficult than usual to maneuver in Hilltop.

The day finally concludes and I’m at home.

Hot and Sour Soup with Broccoli and Rice.

Watching Slither (2006).

Fortune cookie says, “He who expects no gratitude shall never be disappointed.”

Anthony and Kelley’s Christmas tree:

Cheerios with Brown Sugar and Milk.

Sleep 3:30 a.m.

[i] Image by me.

Saturday December 22 2012


Waking up regretfully at 11:05 a.m.

Strawberry Toaster Pastries. Orange Juice.

All day shift at China Wok.

It’s super cold today, temperatures in the low 30’s.

Peanut Butter English Muffin. Goldfish Crackers. Honey Green Tea.

Snapping the peas.

It’s a slow day for business but the Christmas tips are generous.

Fried Shrimp with Broccoli, Carrots, Onions, and Rice in Garlic Sauce.

Becca’s back from Blacksburg for the holidays. She planned a little haircut party at the house and invited a few people. I make Darren fix me up a Tom Collins drink. Art and I compete in a few games of NBA Jam on old times. And like old times he gets dramatically angry about his losses to which I beat him in three entire games.


Sharing the homemade Strawberry Ice Cream from last night with Ken, Chris Remaley, Becca, and Darren. Engaging in light conversation but I’m not feeling very enthusiastic.

I’m exhausted.

Sleep 3:30 a.m.

[i] Michael Jordan Valentine.

Friday December 21 2012


Waking up super late. 2:25 p.m.

Skype chat with Aysena.

Strawberry Toaster Pastries. Orange Juice. Vitamin D (2000 IU). Zinc (50 mg).

Anthony gives me a ride to pick up my car at the body shop. Then getting the windshield replaced; it had a crack in it since half a year ago when I got into that accident. It’s relieving to have my car restored back in good cosmetic condition.

Peanut Butter English Muffin. Goldfish Crackers. Honey Green Tea.

Watching The Thing (1982).

Tweaking and playing drums at the storage unit.

Back home, taking one of my old headlights and installing a light bulb inside it.

Lentils with Onions, Carrots, String Beans, and Mac n Cheese.

Hanging out with Leslie and Darren at the dinner table – eating homemade Strawberry Ice Cream out of mugs – drawing with markers and psychoanalyzing society’s downfalls – feeling enraged at the ignorance in the world.


Darren: “I feel like everyone should second-guess everything that they do.”


Darren: “Dude, do you think I could wax my mustache with Bee’s Wax Chapstick?”


Meanwhile Leslie writes me up a fake ticket with her little notepad.

Me: “Aw dude. I just got a ticket!”


The conversation gets taken over by Darren venting about him and I’s China Wok troubles.


Darren uses the word faggot in a sentence, a derogatory word to most.

Leslie: “That’s a very hateful word.”

Darren: “I’m desensitized to language. And I feel like most people are. And I don’t feel like we live in a very constructivist society...I just can’t believe that many people really get offended.”

Leslie: “Don’t you think that’s crazy that we are desensitized to language?”

Me: “Would you prefer to be desensitized?”

Darren: “Yeah I think that desensitization is important.”

Leslie: “I think it’s sad.”

Me: “Don’t you think words lose their power when you become desensitized to them?”

Darren: “No. No. The idea is that words themselves are nothing. It’s the ideas behind them...”

Leslie: “I get that.”

Darren: “Overall, I think people have become desensitized to ideas. Everything is just so televised. People don’t have to feel anything anymore. They’ll just wait around to be told how to feel.”

Me: “The revolution will not be televised!

Darren: “So whatever...all I can say is that I guarantee you if you walk down into the Rainbow Cactus and there are a bunch of gay people down there goin’, Where my faggots at? And if we walk down to The Cave there’s a bunch of black people all goin’, Where my niggas at? But if you go down to the honky bar there’s not a bunch of white people goin’, Where’s my white people at? cause you’ll get shot I guess...even in a white bar nowadays.”


Talking about the lack of nutrition education...

Darren: “Someone doesn’t have to actually be poor to live an impoverished life because some people will scrounge money because they grew up in poverty, and they’ll teach their kids to live like that, and some people just have shitty parenting skills, and some people neglect their children. There are all kinds of situations...but I think sending your kid to school...having a six-year old come home to their mother and be like, Mom, my teacher told me that I should eat veggies, and six-hundred pound mom is like, WE’RE GOING TO GAD-DARN WENDY’S TONIGHT CAUSE THEY GOT THE DOLLAR MENU, or whatever.” 


Leslie: “I think ignorance is pretty much universal.”

Me: “You can’t educate ignorant people.”

Leslie: “But ignorance is a choice.”

Me: “But how do you deal with ignorance then? If the majority of the population is ignorant what do you do?”

Darren: “You euthanize.”

[Sarcastic maniacal laughter ensues]


Sleep 5 a.m.

[i] Marker art by Leslie.

[ii] Outlandish Ticket given to me by Leslie.

[iii] Sobriety Anniversity. Marker art by me.

Thursday December 20 2012


☼ ○ ▬

I’m delegated to be a spy. While doing research on the computer I notice spider exoskeletons clumped up together in the corner behind the desk. I blow in their direction to make sure they aren’t alive.

▬ ○ ☼

Waking up just before 2 p.m.

Strawberry Toaster Pastries. Orange Juice.

Dropping off my car at Lee Papa’s to get a new radiator support installed.

Taking care of adult things.

Egg Sandwich with Mayonnaise and Tomato. Salt n Vinegar Chips. Honey Green Tea.

I got invited to this little Christmas reunion of a few people from my old church. I used to be a part of this music-discipleship program called Master’s Commission in 2006. It’s probably been at least 4 years since I’ve seen any of them. It’s over at The Capo’s house. Even though it’s drizzling a little bit we gather around a fire pit. Loren Barton tells me about all the awesome things him and his wife, Felicia, have been doing in Nashville trying to tap into the music industry. Felicia has a stellar voice and was on American Idol some time ago. It’s inspiring to see others escalating their dreams in the music world. Anytime I talk to someone who’s just one more step higher it revitalizes my motivation. I don’t just want to be a dreamer. I want to live in the dream!

Spaghetti with Onions, Green Peppers, Mushrooms, and Puttanesca Sauce. Salad and Garlic Bread.

Watching Leviathan (1989).

Anthony just scored an interesting job doing a few write-ups for Splash, a local magazine that covers bars, clubs, and venues in the area. He enters my room asking to borrow my camera and digital recorder. Tomorrow he’s got an interview with the owner of Thumbs. He mocks the personality of the guy’s voice.

Me: “That’s how you sound after you’ve lived here too long. Imagine us thirty years from now. That’s how we’ll sound.”

Anthony: “Excuse for time travel #242: to not end up talking like those guys.”

Lately, we’ve been on this kick of establishing reasons to time travel.

The internet world is filled to the brim with end-of-the-world comments and commentary. Many years ago the Mayans wrote up a calendar that concluded time on December 21 of this year. A number of people have predicted this to mean the end of the world. It’s 1:13 a.m. and I’m still sitting in my computer chair like any other night.

Suddenly I’m aroused to make something. I gather up these old toll/gas receipts from a Tokyo tour to which all of them have become discolored and sparkly. Putting on some music and spending a few hours designing a collage.

Sleep 5 a.m.

[i] What’s the Bloody Meaning? Mixed Media Collage by me.

Wednesday December 19 2012


Waking up in her bed. It’s early, maybe eight a.m. She’s squirming and moaning and being generally cute – complaining about a headache and being thirsty.

Amongst the bed banter she requests, “Will you at least pretend like you love me?”


We sleep more until around noon. I give her a ride to her car then go home.

Strawberry Toaster Pastries. Orange Juice.

Sometimes I’m completely dumbfounded by the rollercoaster ride of reason people put themselves through. In one moment they feel secure and safe in their relationships and ideas but then in another moment it could all come tumbling down to a chaotic halt; all of a sudden they realize something they didn’t notice before, something they didn’t understand before, that it’s all wrong, something’s amiss; it’s not everything its cracked up to be in their heads. It was all just a fantasy.

Peanut Butter English Muffin. Goldfish Crackers. Aloe Vera Drink.

Feeling unusually tired I doze off for some time in my computer chair.

Despite the brisk cold air Anthony and I take to the basketball courts. We shoot around – free-throw contests – rehearsing two-man plays full court. Our conversation dabbles a little bit in the concept of time travel, free will, and how much control each of us really has over the choices we make in life.

Anthony: “Excuses for Time Travel, a novel by Robert Smith, a New York Times bestseller.”

Salmon with a Salad and Garlic Bread. Tom Collins.

It’s a full poker night with the boys: Art, Roma, Jamil, Darren, James, Will, and myself. We play turbo tournament style with three games of $2 buy-ins. Art rakes in the first one. I take the second. Then Darren and I split the third. I notice that it’s a tad less hectic without Kevin involved.

Cheerios with Brown Sugar and Milk.

Watching American Heart (1992).

Sleep 4 a.m.

[i] Image by me.

Tuesday December 18 2012


☼ ○ ▬

It’s nighttime. In the city streets. I’m perched up on a moped of sorts called The Charger. You’re supposed to stand up on it rather than sit comfortably. It doesn’t go very fast. I putt along the asphalt using a black lever. Approaching a bridge through the woods. I stop because it’s pitch black and I can’t see anything. I fear something or someone is waiting to attack me. The front light isn’t clicking on. So I reverse back under the streetlight and click it on. Then across the bridge. On the other side. Out in front of a nightclub – 20-somethings hanging around on the sidewalk. I feel unusual and out of place with my Charger moped.

▬ ○ ☼

Waking up at exactly 2:17 p.m.

Strawberry Toaster Pastries. Orange Juice.

I visit Pick-N-Pull on Sykes Avenue for the first time. This place is the biggest junkyard I’ve ever seen, a massive graveyard for unwanted cars. I trek along the muddy path passing amateur mechanics, who probably come here on a daily basis. I’m here to check out the Camry’s – looking for a radiator support and hood latch for my car. I’m up for inspection and my hood won’t shut properly.

Grilled Cheese with Tomato and Hummus. Salt n Vinegar Chips. Honey Green Tea.

Watching Looper (2012).

Researching – my eyes frozen to the computer screen – feeling restless.

Doing crunches.

I get a call from Margot imploring me to come get her from her work’s x-mas party at Baja’s. I’m not sure why she decides to hit me up out of anyone else. I guess I’m her fallback, her default. I was going to record at the storage unit but the temperature is too cold and will make it unbearable. So I obey and drive out there. She greets me wearing some sparkly new dress. She’s hobbling with two drunk friends of hers. I’m obligated to take one of them home as well. No big deal. This girl is on cloud nine drunk and Margot is on maybe cloud five or something. It’s entertaining to listen to them interact in the car and to watch a drunk person try to take care of another drunk person. There’s a mild debacle with this girl not being able to find the key to her apartment – she’s forever rummaging through her purse – turns out her front door was unlocked all along.


At Margot’s place now. She’s still fuzzy and was screaming about how she has to pee so she takes care of that first. Then, there’s an attempt to sex each other up. But I’m not working too well and I don’t know why. I think I underestimate how much the physical plane connects with the emotional plane. I always build up in my head these kind of sexual fantasies but sometimes when I’m actually faced with them I can’t enjoy it. Maybe something is protecting me. I don’t know. I leave her be to sleep.

Back home.

Going for a night run.

Black Beans with Onions, Peppers, Carrots, and Rice.

Watching The Adjustment Bureau (2011).

I return to her cause I’ll have to bring her to her car the next morning. Sleep around 3 a.m.

[i] Image by me.

Monday December 17 2012


☼ ○ ▬

I’m in the restaurant (at China Wok) on the clock. It’s understood two robbers are on the loose and have approached our door. I prepared for this and already locked the entrance. After hiding all my money inside a VHS tape in my backpack I turn off all the lights and tell the others to lay low and not to move, in hopes all this will deter the robbers. But my boss just stands there in clear view behind the counter like an idiot. The robbers see her. I guess it was decided to let them in because if we didn’t they would break the windows and rob the place anyway. One of the robbers is Jeff Bridges. He places a single handcuff on my left wrist with intention to clasp the other side later. The robbers sit down casually at a table. I join them and act as if everything is cool. We chitchat like old friends.

▬ ○ ☼

Waking up at 11:35 a.m.

Instant Blueberry Oatmeal. Orange Juice.

All day shift at China Wok.


It’s a decent Monday for business.

Grilled Cheese on a Bagel with Tomato and Hummus. Salt n Vinegar Chips. Honey Green Tea.

As I’m pulling into a neighborhood for a delivery I notice a man freeze his gaze at me as I drive up. After I get out of the car, without any kind of stranger greeting, he just says, “That is the ugliest car I’ve ever seen!”

I don’t have a clue what to say so I just respond with, “Thanks man.”

On the phone with a buddy of his he gets back into his personal conversation. As I walk away I hear him mention something about the purple people eater. Wow. Well that’s a first. I’ve never gotten that reaction before. I don’t even think he was being sarcastic. He seriously dislikes my car.

The day just flies by into the night.

Later, I receive another comment in the Colonial Arms neighborhood. Some kid yells out, “Purple Nurple!”

Vegetable Lo Mein.

Finally off work and back home.

Cheerios with Brown Sugar and Milk.

Watching Looper (2012).

Sleep 4 a.m.

[i] Purple People Eater. Drawn by Perogatt (Carlo Peroni).

Sunday December 16 2012


☼ ○ ▬

Trapped in an oval-shaped system of offices – in the center of the building, the foyer. This place is nostalgic and haunting – built in the middle of a forest. Outside, agents are scheming to capture me. I attempt various plans of escape, one where I’m flapping my arms above the ground over a cascading river – then hop atop the roofs of cars.

▬ ○ ☼

Alarm goes off at 11:35 a.m.

Strawberry Toaster Pastries. Orange Juice.

All day shift at China Wok.

It’s slow for business.

Lentil Spread on a Bagel with Tomato and Mustard. Tortilla Chips with Avocado and Peach Salsa.

It’s been a few weeks since rain has fallen, and as soon as one droplet touches the ground the phones start ringing off the hook. Starting from five o’clock and on it’s non-stop deliveries. Everybody orders at once. I’ve never truly understood the correlation between the weather and one’s appetite. For some reason whenever there’s even a slight shift in the air people lose motivation to prepare their own dinner.

Bosc Pear.

The night continues. And I’m given a surprise visit by Margot, but not so much a surprise as we had been corresponding today via text. She shows up with a story to share that happened to her the previous night that involves meeting a guy named Taylor who is Elliott’s cousin, and who happens to be cousins with her girlfriend’s husband-to-be. Because I’ve hung out with Taylor a few times in the past, he mentioned that he knows me. It’s one of those small world moments. But the real reason she shares this story with me is because the blog was mentioned. I guess Taylor had said, “Oh Robert with the blog?” Margot felt embarrassed because of all the stuff I’ve written about her and such. She’s worried guys will misperceive who she is and judge her based on what they read, that is if they even read it. At this point it’s not like all of Virginia Beach reads the blog, just friends of friends maybe. But that’s as far as the degree goes.


She rides around with me on a few deliveries. She mentions how she got her hair done different and makes some kind of playful smart remark about how I didn’t notice.

Me: “Sorry it’s dark in here and I’m driving.”

At a stoplight I pause and take notice. It’s light brown with a purple shade on one side.

Me: “Oh that’s nice. It looks good.”


There was already an understanding that we shouldn’t be hanging out or talking in any way really. I don’t know why today was an exception. I guess when you’re reminded of somebody it’s hard to resist telling them.

Fried Shrimp with Broccoli, Carrots, Onions, and Rice in Garlic Sauce.

Back home.

It’s still raining lightly outside but it doesn’t stop me from going for a jog. I really needed this – my legs marching across the wet asphalt – my body moving rhythmically – the sound of water whooshing through the trees.


Inside the house, Skippy, Kevin, and a friend of theirs, Elysa, are here attempting to play Jenga but Kevin, being his usual klutzy self, repeatedly accidently knocks the tower down after three moves. While I was out running this girl Elysa caught wind that I was in Mae for a few years. Apparently she was a major fan in high school. She also plays a little piano as well as violin. Diddling on the piano and trying to figure out some of the songs I used to play over and over again on tour.

A bowl of Cheerios with Brown Sugar and Milk.

Sleep 4 a.m.

[i] Source unknown.