Another day of life in the states, another day of hearing dreary news about the costs of living. Gas is up with no sign of decreasing in price. Food is up because gas is up. Fertilizer, which as arguably increased the world’s population, and hence the demand for gas and food, has tripled in price. The U.S. dollar is falling like an anvil, which is not helping matters. “The housing market” is in free-fall as well. Congratulations America: you’ve created a fucked-up nation which has turned or is turning every person who isn’t super rich into a person of despair. “We have freedom!” some people say. Well, not the freedom to move because we’ve created a web of transportation dependent on cars and their driver’s income. Somehow the speculating on shaky prospects has created the problems with housing at the moment. And further speculation worldwide is causing the increases in food prices.

Yet Americans cling to the idea that America will return to it’s prosperous state and all will be well if we just get through this tough time. We’ll have a new president; we’ll be out of Iraq; we’ll have “green technology.” America pretends to ignore the fact that we are a nation of immigrants, and we can and possibly should move on, leaving the failed experiment in so-called democracy behind us. As my friend Eric Stutzman once said in describing the two of us: “You and me, we can flush the toilet; other people just stare at the shit.” Ditch this country. It ain’t worth saving.

Here’s The Clash signing a very relevant song for the times:

I’m So Bored with the USA

Gah, after this past weekend of antics with Rebekah and Erin, I now find myself trapped in the rut of a workweek. I woke up at 6 this morning with the pleasant thought: “I have to go through this again today?” Almost went back to sleep but decided to get up and drag myself through the shower and into the office, where I try to stay awake on a slow news day. However, I cling to bits of hope that I encounter around. A brief conversation with the cigarette shop lady; certain music that I hear. Yeah, music. So here is a song I turned on this morning before going to insert strange items and poisonous chemicals in my mouth in the name of keeping my teeth healthy. Hell, I might have posted it here before, but this is “Wagon Wheel” by the Old Crow Medicine Show.

Wagon Wheel MP3.

Yesterday when I was killing time in the office, I found a can of that compressed air stuff and started cleaning off my laptop computer. This would be the first time that it’s been done since I’ve owned the thing, and that’s been almost two years. After I’d done a number on the keyboard and gotten all kinds of dust and animal hair out of it, I decided to give a shot of air into the fan vent. After doing so, the fan stopped running. My initial though was, “Wow, it must’ve been really dirty and just that burst of air cleaned it all off and cooled it all down.” However, after a couple minutes I thought better of it and turned off the computer and opened it up to have a look at the situation. As it turns out, the shot of air had wedged a hunk of dust and hair further into the fan itself, and it couldn’t even turn. I had to pull it out with tweezers (thank god for Swiss Army knives).

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Today however, things seem to be running much better.

The past couple of days were good. On Saturday evening, Josh and I went to a Clippers game in Columbus. He’d never been to a game, and this was my first baseball game in nearly four years. It also happened to be major league hat night, so we picked out our favorite teams and wore the hats throughout the game. Earlier in the day some light rain had been falling, and we were worried that they might cancel the game, but it was only delayed by about 30 minutes.

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Because of the rain and the cooler weather, there weren’t many people at the game, which meant a decent view. And when we walked in we got coupons that said if the Clippers scored three runs or more we could come to another game for free. Well, in the third inning, the Clippers scored five runs, so we’re hopefully going back next week to take advantage of our free game.

While we were watching the game, we ate a ton of sunflower seeds, and by the time we finished all the seeds the floor below our feet and the seats in front of us (empty of course) were covered in the shells. This picture shows our left cheeks stuffed with sunflower seeds to the point that we look like squirrels or something.

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On Sunday morning, I convinced Josh to go to the Vietnamese pho restaurant not far from his place in Columbus for cafe da. Because the weather was warm, I said we could ask to take a table outside so we could smoke with our coffee. To my extreme excitement, there were already guys sitting outside and drinking coffee and smoking. We sat down and within minutes were talking to other people about Vietnam, I was doing my best to remember all my Vietnamese, and it was great! The Vietnamese guys there (one couldn’t really speak English at all) kept saying how expensive things were in the states, they even said that people weren’t really free here because of all the money that people have to spend. One guy went on about how no one in America just hangs out. That wasn’t exactly the term he used, but he said that people in America don’t go out for coffee, or beer, or anything. He said that people here just get up, work, eat, sleep, and then do it again. I couldn’t agree more. I told them that I’d like to go back to Vietnam someday because I could make more money than in the states, and they said it was a good idea. I think I even planted the seed of eventually trying to convince Josh to come to Vietnam…

The old barn at the farm has been deteriorating for several years and decades now, and this summer it will be torn down. As a building with a frame that predates nails, I thought I’d take a few pictures of it to memorialize it.
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Just this spring sometime one of the walls collapsed, making the whole structure more dangerous and more expensive than it’s worth to repair.
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Here’s where we used to milk our cow every morning and evening:
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The lightning rod that runs down one side:
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The cavernous interior. Look closely and you can see that the beams are attached to one another with wooden pegs, not nails.
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Here’s a pulley made out of wood that has been inside the barn since god knows when.
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A view from another angle:
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Yep, it’s a grand old structure, but we just don’t have the time or money to repair everything to make it functional and safe. A remnant of the past will be gone before the fall.

I guess I’ve got to write something. So these are some things that have been knocking around in my head the past couple of weeks or so.

America is not the land of opportunity that is likes to think it is. America is the land of continually paying and never owning or controlling. Here are my examples: cars, cell phones and houses (luckily I’m excluded from the latter, but if I wasn’t I’d be certainly way deep in debt). I turn on the TV and see ads for cars that are “only” double my yearly salary, and I wonder who the hell can actually afford to buy a car outright any more. With my cell phone, I just pay, and don’t actually own the phone, unlike almost every other country in the world. If I had a credit card, oh man, I wouldn’t like to think of the problems that I’d have. So although at every sporting event in this nation we call ourselves “the land of the free,” I feel incredibly tied to everything and have never felt constrained in my life.

When I was out of the country, I missed things like functioning electric grids and warm showers, but now I realize that me missing those things was completely superficial. I can’t say that I actually like using a shower curtain or driving a car, and to this day I still don’t drink from the bathroom sink because I’m used to not drinking from the bathroom sink.

I’ve also come to the realization that I came home with trumped-up expectations of my family. Maybe it was all my Vietnamese friends and students who always said, “You must miss your family”; maybe all of that got into my head. I came home, and my family was like, “Oh, you’re back. Now be normal.” Well, for many reasons, I’m still not normal nor do I really want to be. I’ve got a thousand and one stories to tell, and very few people willing to listen to them or care about them. I heard a quote on the radio the other day, and it was something like: “After you’ve done something significant, everything else is just making enough to eat.” My thoughts exactly. I’m just making enough to eat and get by at the moment. I can’t say that writing articles concerning local affairs is very significant in the big scheme of things. But I’ll press on and float by.

Well, the weather is nice but work has been keeping me quite busy over the past few days. I had 14 hours on the clock yesterday, working from 8 in the morning until after midnight, thanks to a Village Council meeting in an insignificant speck of a town that takes themselves and “issues” way, way, way, WAY too fucking seriously. But at least the weather has been nice lately, but unfortunately I haven’t been able to enjoy it much. However, since the print media is dying and I’m not allowed to work overtime, at least it means that I’ll finish work early on Friday and have a relaxing weekend at home and perhaps get some writing done.

Last night, even after I got home at 12:30 a.m. and was exhausted, as soon as I was in bed my old foe insomnia hit me and I tossed and turned because my mind was on fire with electricity that David Bowie couldn’t have turned off. I’m trying to cling to things and hoping that they don’t slip away.