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What say me

I have things to say. I want this place to be where I figure out what they are.

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There’s this old documentary about Jack Kerouac. In it John Clellon Holmes talks about how jazz musicians would size up a young player by asking one question:

“Does he have something to say?”

I saw this documentary back in high school, and that line has never left me. It’s become my north star. Whether I’m writing an article, making a video or scribbling some little nothing: Do I have something to say?

Yes. But I’m not sure what.

I have plenty of somethings to say about what tech companies are up to. I get paid to say something about those things, though more accurately I get paid to say what those things are and repeat what other people say about them. Lately I’ve been sneaking in more of my own thoughts. Sometimes the thoughts are ironed-out opinions. Sometimes they’re questions or a juxtaposition of facts. Mainly they’re from me.

But I have more to say. Or at least I used to and want to again. So that’s what this space is for: For me to say things and put them somewhere.

Sometimes those things will be job-related. Sometimes they won’t be. Sometimes they’ll be worked-out. Sometimes they’ll be me working something out. Sometimes words, sometimes video, sometimes an image, sometimes a mix. Each time, hopefully, they’ll have something to say. If not in the beginning, then by the end.

When the days didn’t have names

A sketch

Those days it was like the sun rose to find them. Like it needed to get as high as possible to peek at where they were, to wake them. But they would stay hidden. Blankets pulled over heads and legs dangling across the bed.

The house that had been loud was now silent except for the birds and the lawnmower out back. It smelled like warm wet. Like a good day for bees and flowers to be together.

Once up the day had begun, but not yet. Now was still sometime between yesterday and today, which was really tomorrow. And tomorrow was closer to the first day of school, which wasn’t today but sometime not far away.

Too bad it rarely rained. The days always felt like they’d never end when it rained.

Traffic patterns

A short-ass story

It can’t wait, though. It’s work, she wanted to shout at the billboard. Work doesn’t wait. It doesn’t fucking work like that, she found herself now shouting. Hands choking the steering wheel now, staring at the red light like the asshole that it is, “you smug bastard,” she exhaled.

“You don’t know. Or do you? What do you do when you turn off? And do you know when you’ll turn back on? If you do —“ a second car honks “— I have a follow-up question about sitting alone at red lights, but we can come back to it.”

Excuses, escapes, et cetera

A nothing that may become something

He opened his Notes app to the entry titled “Reasons” and ran through his options. He kept the list organized and regularly updated. He would reorder them based on how recently he used them, the time of year, etc. He also color-coded them with asterisks, emojis and the like. For a time, there was a reference note listing the meanings of each. But he had them memorized now, minus the newer ones.

Something else

A dialogue

Talk to me.

About what?

Just talk.

Okay. I almost broke my tooth.

What? How?

I was eating a hard-boiled egg, and I guess I didn’t get all the shell off.

You almost broke your tooth on an egg shell?

Ha, yeah. I mean, I thought I did. I didn’t.

Well that’s good.

I know. Can you imagine if I did break it? Then, for the rest of my life, if someone asked if I’d ever broken a tooth, I’d have to say yes. And if they asked how, I’d have to say from an egg shell.

That’d be quite a story.

I know. I almost wish I had broken it.

I miss you.

I know that too. And know what?

No, what?

I miss you too.

Tell me something else.

Something else.

Census white

A dialogue

Yo, the census doesn’t have a box for Hispanic or Latino.

What do you mean?

There’s no box for it. You can only be white, black, American Indian or Alaska Native — which isn’t it Native American what even is Alaska Native — Asian Indian, and then five kinds of other Asian, three kinds of Pacific Islander and boxes to fill in some other Asian or Pacific Islander. Like, how are they gonna have Filipinos with their Spanish-ass last names be their own race but act like Hispanics aren’t their own other?

There’s no fill-in box?

There is. But you know they must be checking for people to write in Hispanic or Latino and switch’em to white.

What is it, though? Hispanic or Latino?

It’s both. What are you, black or African-American?

Black’s a color.

Yeah, and brown’s a color too.

But Hispanic’s not a color.

But brown should be.

You’re not even all that brown. There are old white dudes at the beach browner than you. Why can’t you just be white?

Because I’m not white. Do I look white?

You look like you could be a couple kinds of white. Like Italian.

Okay?

Plus there are Hispanics that look white. Like half the Spanish soccer team. And does Gisele Bundchen count as Hispanic?

I don’t know.

Besides if you can be white, why wouldn’t you want to be?

What do you mean?

Like, then you get white privilege. And then anyone who throws you shade for being brown or whatever, you can be all “well actually, I am a white person.”

You’re stupid.

Nah, I’m serious. People like you can change shit up. You can make it a problem for them to be white.

Rodney: Part 3

“It’s the new slim fit shirts,” the store manager said over the phone to the store manager. “He can’t fold them.”

The regional manager didn’t understand. They were shirts, made out of cotton, with a crew neck and two short sleeves. She asked for Rodney.

“These shirts aren’t made to be folded,” Rodney intoned. “I’m sorry. I’m trying. I’m trying to learn how they want to be folded. But I’m, I’m sorry.”

The regional manager tried to say something but heard the rattle of the landline being passed.

“What about all the returns?” the regional manager asked the store manager.

“Oh that. The customers say that when they return to their homes or hotels, they realize they didn’t like the shirts, or they don’t fit right, or the material is too starchy. Or they’re from here and feel ridiculous walking around in an “I ❤️ NY” shirt. We’ve even had customers from other countries email us, asking if they could return the shirts and saying they’d be willing to pay the shipping. We tell them that’d be almost as much as the shirts.

“They like the slim fits, though,” the store manager continued. “Even the people who shouldn’t be wearing slim-fit anything. But they look awful folded. So we’ve had to hang them.”

Rodney: Part 2

The box on Rodney’s folding station had been opened. Still, it bulged. Rodney pulled it apart. More shirts. But these were different. They had rumpled into piles, whereas the others had slid into each other. They were soft like a memory.

He picked at the shirt where it clung to itself, releasing only to ripple into more magnetic folds. He slid his arms into it and exalted them outward. Then, with a snap, he flapped it against itself, as if to fan the others.

He moved the box and laid the shirt in its place. He smoothed it some more, then grabbed his board. He pinched the right shoulder at the stitch, then the bottom seam with his other hand, and folded. He mirrored his movement on the other side. At the bottom corners of the board, where the other shirts had halted as if called to heel, this shirt had trespassed further before lying down. Rodney nudged it back, and the shirt’s top shrugged at the folding board. He slid shirt and board, bringing the shirt’s bottom onto the table. He tried again. This time the shirt limped into place, and he finished the fold and slid out the folding board.

He peeled the shirt from the tabletop, one hand holding the shirt’s edge while the other’s fingers tunneled under it until the forearm forced a backbone atop which Rodney pressed his other forearm. With this vice grip, he turned the shirt over and laid it down. Also like a memory, it had wrinkled. He tried to smooth it, ironing his fingers along its folds. Back it bulged, in an inhale. He pressed it by hand, with the board. Relentless. He laid the board atop it and left.

In the break room, Sandra and Marty were watching cartoons. The microwave dinged, and Sandra retrieved her Hot Pockets. Rodney took his Gatorade from the fridge and sat down. No one laughed at the cartoon, so no one asked him why he didn’t. He had already seen this episode.