Restaurant Review

New England isn’t known for its Mexican food, and I don’t think it ever will be.

It didn't occur to me to take photos until after work, when everything was closed. Sorry.
It didn’t occur to me to take photos until after work, when everything was closed. Sorry.

SFSF Restaurant Review

Picante Mexican

735 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge (Central Square)

I’ve eaten at Picante a few times. It disappoints almost every time. The food seems to be well-made, with quality ingredients. But it’s also pretty bland and heavy on the rice. Mexican rice is a pretty boring food.

Perhaps Picante’s problem is that they’re one of the only decent Mexican food places in their price range in greater Boston, which gives them a bit of an inflated ego.

Doesn't take much to be a highly decorated Mexican joint in Cambridge, MA
Doesn’t take much to be a highly decorated Mexican joint in Cambridge, MA

Authentic is often attached to food establishments. I don’t pretend to know what authentic Mexican food is. I went on a church thing during my first adolescence that took me to Tijuana, Mexico. There, we took part in a service project for our Mexican-Mormon counter-parts. The Mexican Mormons were gracious enough to cook a meal for us, which I remember being heavy in veggies and potatoes, with no hint of spice. So maybe Picante can claim authenticity. Who knows? What matters with food is whether or not it tastes good.

I used to live in Central Square and I ate at Picante a few times because the food options are limited. (Food options are always limited though, right?) Like I said earlier, the food at Picante has always been disappointingly bland. I ate fish tacos there once and had to suffer through mango salsa and grilled fish. It was laid out in do-it-yourself fashion. Mango salsa is stupid.

Picante’s pretentious interpretation of fish tacos is pretty much what you get anywhere outside of my native southern California. In San Diego, there’s a pretty big chain called Rubio’s that does fish tacos way better, if not authentic. They fry up whatever white fish they get ahold of and put it in a corn tortilla with cabbage accompanied by a flavorful, spicy mayonnaise sauce. I always add more kick from their salsa bar, which is pretty good. I’m not even going to go on about some of the other Mexican joints in San Diego. They’re good, trust me.

If bland, the meat at Picante has a natural texture to it, as if the chicken they purchase comes from birds that are let out of their made-to-fit cages and into the daylight every now and then. The meat feels as if it isn’t loaded with steroids, at least not to Roger Clemens levels.

I said that my taco salad was $8.75 and later $8.25. It was one of the two. It definitely wasn’t $7.00, as the website advertises. I’m sure they just haven’t updated the site in a while.

Their salsa bar is also pretty good. There are a few varieties to choose from. Absent from the salsa bar though, are carrots marinated in jalapeno juice. Lots of Mexican food places back home have delicious, soft, jalepeno-soaked carrots available for free at their salsa bars.

So I give my meal 4 out of 5 stars. That’s based solely on last night’s experience; I can’t promise everything at Picante is going to be as good.

Bright Lights Big City

I’m doing it now. Here we go all naive and cocky. Even now. But can I be good even here even now? OK here we go I don’t want to but it’s true streams of energy and all that hippie shit it’s true.

You had to be alone in your room. Their ears are to the door. Wow they get it right in some films. I was never on drugs but it’s like I tip my hat I was sober as a J Bird but those jump cuts and blender shots do the best they can.

This guy’s demeanor is just fine with his gestures. This young man. Wow lady. His demeanor shaking his hands up and down. Wow lady shut up you’re screaming. Where’d you get the idea for the beard sir? I could almost take my headphones off with all that hand gesturing. We’re only at Harvard. This guy is old does he have to read the book like such an old man? I’m listening to Sliver, Dan. Nirvana is good. Dude everyone shut up through the earphone penetration. How many babies are crying we’re at Disneyworld I think. Orlando Florida. It’s like the Matterhorn, the rollercoaster. Some people only know the Matterhorn coaster and not the one in Germany. I knew the coaster first. The subway?

Young man has dirty jeans. Backpack is clean. Listens to hardcore. They all did, growing up here. But a good, honest kid. Sunday nights Sunday nights on my mission that’s when I’d just check-in. Everything else, the week, it was a movie. Sunday, “letters home” but it wasn’t about home. I suppose, but it’s when I thought and looked at the clock but I always thought and the clock. A less serious song a less serious song call me Sunny call me Sunny, but under his breath, when he scolded himself- we’re at Park street get off now.

Aaron you did it, you dared it. He told me on the phone in the Common. I didn’t do anything. I work at Starbucks. They’re not dead yet, the seventeen year olds. Do you have a tattoo? She looks at me and answers her question no, you don’t have a tattoo. She asks me if I’ve done acid. She looks at me  no, you’ve never done acid. That’s my favorite where am I gonna use that?

Jesus Christ did you see that smile it was so genuine and these lights are so bright and the ground is so sparkly. Shit this is serious the battery is low sirens Park Street I’m back in coffee wanna see a David Foster Wallace works at Starbucks though cuz they ain’t found him yet I never sent them anything. This is what he listens to when he gets all emotional. Do your homework. Yeah you listen to Arcade Fire. Million Dollar Baby. No more losses. No more failures. Fragile. Am I missing a word? But potential. Flashing lights Jesus everywhere. Lots more hand-holding than I would have expected. Hit it in the trees hit it in the trees.

Look at this couple they’re so young they aren’t even speaking English! Spanish probably high heels good job it’s like Andy Dick now it’s like Marry Poppins. Rooftops and shit. The guy held the door for me at 7-11. Big ass jug of Gatorade. I got outta there somehow Scott free. Pretty girls everywhere I can hear them. Barbed wire stirring on my fingers shut up Subway I’m a sellout.

I actually heard that man say “Goodnu?” Good&you, like Sam at work says I love Sam. Jesus that Ford is bright Oh my God this is where I sang a song about the bricks with Sarah B. She told me she was gonna get me college drunk because I’d never been college drunk. That’s it, I always wanted a song for her & I found it. The street is seriously called Joy St. Jason’s show is tomorrow. All grown up. Can I plan anything right now? He wondered when I was gonna really let go on the bass.”All The Small Bricks” she called her sister and showed her on speaker phone that I was singing a song about bricks on Beacon Hill. I thought I had let go. Her basement apartment it was all real. But I saw him scoot across the floor when he did a song and he was right. Wasn’t fake even if we tried. It was real. Gotta get another ticket to the show. Am I even capable of planning. We’re all grown up I carried amps. It’s just a Z4 hatchback thing not a Ferrari. Do they know I carried amps. Dan says I like skinny girls I like all kinds of girls. Jeez more sirens. How much salt is in this Gatorade? I’m like an old man. I need to drink healthier.

World’s most obvious walk indicator never before has anyone been given a greener light. You’ve got the Green light Aaron I think you can really go. Loud. Always the lights flashing. They were like ba-ba-ba-ing. That couple in the restaurant was ba-ba-ba-ing with their lips over that magazine they were looking at and it was real. And I bet they wanted me to take a photo but I didn’t. Leaves are crawling now into little yellow dinosaurs. And there’s always that headlight in the peripheral. Nice ol’ BMW 2002. This is all really nice now. A bit close there, you folk. All these nice things we’re supposed to think are gay or whatever. Nothing’s really scary really its all like glue, really. Lights everywhere though. I’m OK you gotta be careful though, yeah. There’s an Aston Martin. These aren’t even my good headphones. Should go home now.

I was over at the Braintree side a good long while trying to figure my shit out. Staring at the sign. Braintree Braintree howling Braintree there’s no Alewife. Shit you need to get healthier. I’m totally vegetarian now. Sarah’s right about all that shit. My skin. This salty ass Gatorade seriously look at this fucking label. That’s the only thing that’s insane right now. Seriously fuck. Salty piece of shit. OK things are OK ten percent battery’s going what are the people gonna get what are they gonna get? It’s like the world but on acid BRIGHT LIGHTS BIG CITY it’s like Aaron but on acid it was worth that wait Jesus it was worth the wait. I saw shit move.

I’m glad this girl treats stretching so seriously. I love her. Not like whats-her-name she’s still stretching I’m into it. The woman in the reflecting hat and helmet and all that I don’t think she’s had a good time since the Reagan admin. Why am I on the train? I always had to be up last. I had to hear every word. They don’t have drugs now.

It’s all moving but it’s all controlled right you’re writing this down, right? The floor is moving but you know what’s going on, they don’t have to tell you. You’ve always known smart Alec looks like a little brother. I was gonna write our night in the blog I said a lot for the first time that night I was gonna make it a big one yeah why not you deserve it you’re a believer look at you. Younger than them all only 17.

You should sit down now. The Subway is like thunder. And you should drink healthier. We’re all pretty unhealthy. Nothing. Just breathe. I have to go home now Sarah is at home who writes on the blog someone thought the coming-out thing was by me a couple of people have. Sarah is right. She is. If we just breathed. Porter. Can get off. Need to drink better. Cancer is not going anywhere. This was maybe not a good idea. Didn’t have to be alone. Stubborn. Everything is a movie that I’m stealing. Oh yeah Sarah I knew why I was gonna be OK the whole time. I gotta stay sharp for the guys on the mission. I’m actually seeing shit but it’s real. It’s not fake the energy. And you want to be good Aaron and you want to be right.  And you want everything to mean everything. Irresponsible Aaronchan. You have a lot of energy and you need to be careful.

It’s biological, I have to be OK. When you lose DNA like that the others get stronger it’s biological. He flat-lined once. I went to the vending machine and came back and it was like George Clooney and shouting. They weren’t quite sure what to do. Ten of them. Moving fast. I got a few days off of school. Can I be clear right now? She told me it wasn’t clear. She read ETHER 12:27 and she didn’t know your brother died of cancer. I thought it was clear. You can write about it because everyone is affected. It’s OK. Nobody on my mission knew. He’d just died and I went off and I had four brothers but I didn’t tell them that one of them died. Semantics. I had four brothers. Can I be clear? She waved the paper in front of my face, shook it to shake meaning out of it, it’s not clear. Go to college. Listening? He was 15 months older yeah we were close close as can be he broke his neck once but it was a “blessing” because  they found cancer in his neck too. Am I making myself clear? Is it adding up? That’s the fuel right there. That’s the absent-mind. That’s the introversion. That’s the extremes. That’s why I carried amps. That’s why I can’t quit and that’s why I’m not a lawyer. Am I clear? I went on a mission knocking on doors. It was a tough thing to sell. No TV no radio no books no calls home. His name as Tyler. How’s Tyler how’s Tyler I wasn’t OK. Cancer is everywhere that’s how we die now.

I have to be on control that’s why I run like the dickens I gotta look good I gotta prove them wrong I gotta be alright. But I gotta let them go people would tell me to let them go. People thought Sarah’s thing about coming out to her mother was by me. Gotta make the blog more clear. Blog meeting SFSF blog meeting 10/23:

Well today was humbling is all. Tell Sarah when she gets here, that you’re sorry for being all brave. All the sounds are so sharpe, but are the streets that near?

She’ll tell me to let them go. They’ll all tell me to let them go. I came out already on some of the other ones but I gotta be clear. Gays and blacks and women, none of that stuff made sense. “It’s what God wanted or It’ll all work out in the end or It’s just mysterious.” It never made sense. I’m detached. I have a lot of energy and I have to be careful. Am I clear? I’m free-floating without them but Sarah is coming home. I think I know what the kids know now. They don’t have drugs anymore. I’ve got them here and I’ve got to let everyone else go.

I’m gonna go home now. Call Jason & just tell him about the bright lights. Though he knows everything. Now I can really go. And I’m gone.


I think it was me.

We had a Nintendo that we had to share.  All three of us played, but when Tyler and I wanted to see what happens when you beat the game, we watched with chins on our fists, deadly silent as Mario made the crucial eighth-world jumps.

We also had a seven acre hill of dry brush. Adam caught snakes. Five foot long bastards, maybe two inches thick. I think they were mostly Bull Snakes. He’d stuff them into pillow cases and hang on to them for a couple of days. I never saw him catch a Rattle Snake, but he says he did. He read books on reptiles. I never touched the stuff.

He wrote something once. Dad and Janis read it. Two 12 year olds at an arcade. “It’s not like we were getting intimate or anything!” So good. So grown up.

After a relative died, my Dad hung two rifle-less Civil War bayonets (one with dried blood) and an old machete over the fire-place. We had sword fights. Tyler, usually with the machete, was the fiercest.

We’d throw the bayonets straight up and marvel at how they’d just stick in the ceiling. We’d hurl them across the room and marvel at how they’d stick in the floor.

My dad summoned us with one syllable.


rhythmic tumble

“Who put the hole in the couch?”

“…”                         “…”                         “…”

“Who put the hole in the couch?”

“…”                         “…”                         “…”

“WHO put the hole in the couch?”

“I dunno”              “no clue”                   “…”


And he let us go, liars.

Delusional Degenerate

“Everyone DOUBTS. You can’t just quit because you doubt.”

Yeah but how long do I go on? I have one life. And I’m not really quitting…

“What are you gonna write The Great American Novel?”

“Do you really think there’s an audience for that?

“You should consider your audience, Aaron.”

“What has he ever written?”

It’s called Delusional Degenerate.

“You know Aaron I think you’ll hit rock bottom one day, and then you’ll come back.”

Rock Bottom?

“He wants to move to Maine, ‘to write’.”

“I just don’t understand why you wouldn’t go to college for such a thing.”

“What are you doing up there in Seattle?”

“If your life is interesting enough, someone else will write about it. Let someone else do it.”


“Is there any money in that?”

“I just don’t know how you can believe there is no higher power. That’s so ARROGANT.”

You’re a character, Aaron. YOU.

“Have you thought about going to school?”

We’re reading Raymond Carver again?

“She’s nice Aaron, but I wish you’d date a member of The Church.”

“You can do better than her, Aaron.”

What the FUCK did you just say?


“Well, it’s a little convenient, not going to church. Kind of lazy, don’t you think?”

NO, the opposite, in fact.


“Doesn’t the world have enough dreamers?”

“He should go back to school.”

We read The Cathedral in creative writing, why is it being taught in this class? Is there no communication? Is there no other writing we can absorb?

“Why is he moving to Boston?”

“It’s just not clear. It’s NOT clear.”

“Did you ever think that maybe Amy had a problem with you not finishing school?”

What do you think?

“Well, she’s SOOOOO SMART Aaron, she’s going places.”

“You’re  so stubborn, Aaron!”

“You’re so stubborn, Aaron!”

“You know Aaron, I don’t know what your aversion to workshops is all about. I know you want to be a writer…”

Well, shit.

“Passive characters generally don’t work”

Who’s passive?

“Aaron, I think you lack discipline.”

What does he mean by that?

“I dunno, I just think sometimes you just RACK DISCIPRINE!”

“The book’s by a woman who left the Reorganized Church- one of the off-shoots. She wrote about growing up with polygamy and all that- and it’s like, ‘You can leave the church, but don’t WRITE about it'”


Did you just say that?

“I just want you to know that everything you write in your journals, and everything you write in your diaries, I just love it. LOVE IT. Keep doing it pal.”

I could go back in there, and I could take him off that school, and I could -I could do it physically- I could grab him by the BYU hoodie he ironically wears and I could flip that stool upside down-

“How’s Boston, Aaron? Working on your chicken scratch?”

Chicken Scratch. 

“He’s doing now what he should have done when he was seventeen.”

“Can you really be an intellectual if you haven’t finished college?”

“You know the thing with the deli, right? retards? deli-tards.”

i gotta write something…

“Sexually, he sees things in black and white.”

Despite the fact that I’m a straight male from a heavily religious background, the idea that my writing may be a comfort to both straight and gay people who want to leave a heavily religious culture is not lost on me.

“You’re sexist, but you can’t help it- it’s where you come from.”

Despite the fact that I’m a straight male from a heavily religious backround, the idea that my writing may be a comfort to women who want to leave a male-dominated culture is not lost on me.

“He’s crazy.”

“You’re NOT crazy.”

“Has he thought about going to school?”

“Well I definitely think you should keep writing.”

 “You’re young, white, male, and you come from wealthy parents! Take advantage of it!”

“I’ll read your book, darlin.'”

ETHER 12:27


My girlfriend spoke Japanese better than her younger siblings. By the end I could distinguish three distinct styles: She spoke formally to her grandparents, casually to her mother, and lastly my favorite -which she would occasionally exercise with her immediate family- an over-the-top mock formal which sounded like a severely feminine Japanese stewardess doing the seat-belt routine.

She always told me to make outlines. I told her it doesn’t work like that, I couldn’t explain.

The movie theater had 18 screens and a giant lobby to accommodate enormous weekend crowds. On a Friday night there’d be eight employees selling tickets- four behind the glass on the left and four on the right. Two wound-up lines of people taking up most of the floor left a path in the middle to go through to the greeter, who stood near the back, facing the entry.

But this was a weeknight and the basketball court-sized lobby was empty. I ripped a total of two tickets during my first hour at the greeter’s podium, and that was it. Nicole Kidman With Brown Hair sat alone behind the box office glass on my left. The second box office, across the lobby to my right was dark and empty. Suddenly, I heard a squeel from the intercom. There were no customers, but I quickly dismissed what I’d heard and figured it was an accident. I was thinking typical thoughts of how I never had a chance with a girl like her during my two-hour tour at the greeter’s stand. I shouldn’t’ve even been thinking about it because she was a 17-year-old senior in high school and she’d come in with her boyfriend before. I was a chubby jr. college student. Box office employees had a bit of seniority. They were trusted workers who typically worked at least a year before transitioning to box office, where they generally stayed. They seemed to have actual relationships with the General Manager. Her office was behind them. They didn’t have as much fun as ushers, who basically walked around lazily for eight hours, sweeping popcorn under the seats.

An usher’s only real struggle was greeting, and making attempts to avoid it. A greeter would jealously watch the mob of free ushers emerge from the 1-9 side as they walked past,  gracefully scooping up stray kernels of popcorn without assistance from the broom. These one-handed flourishes seemed to taunt the greeter. as they moved across to theatres 10-18. Most new employees began by working concessions, which was behind the greeter’s podium, where was just enough space for dozens of sprawling families to order nachos and 52 ounce drinks. Concessions was a nightmare. My tenure behind concessions was mercifully short because the woman who got me the job went to high school with my pal Tyson, and I think she understood my embarrassment selling popcorn and drinks to people I knew from high school, which I was four years removed from. Teenage girls had it the worst, they really had to claw their way out of concessions.

So I was at the podium, thinking about how I didn’t have a chance in hell, cursing my life. Kidman was a senior in High school. I was a Jr. college student.  But I heard that megaphone squeal out of the box office a second time.

“Yeah, you, COME OVER HERE.”

I awkwardly walked over to the box office and she slipped me a napkin that said:

I think you’re cool.

We should hang out! 🙂

When I came home from my mission over a year earlier, I gained about 15 pounds in a month. I didn’t have a job and I kept myself busy playing Tony Hawk Pro Skater 4. 11-year-old little brother Nick turned me onto it. I remember the astonishment on his face when he saw me still playing in the living room at 7:30 am during his morning routine. I just gave him a guilty smile and wondered aloud if I was permanently damaging my thumbs.

I made a couple of attempts to lose the weight and failed. I once put on my archless skater shoes and ran about two blocks before turning around, defeated.

“Didn’t make it very far didya?”


So Kidman told me I was cool. I went home that night and put on my new running shoes and ran down to the park. In tenth grade, a kid from church convinced me to join the wrestling team. He was big on running stairs. The first time up he’d touch every single stair, which he said was good for quickness. On the even intervals, he’d skip a stair with each stride. That was good for -I don’t know- strength. The park had a decent stairway that ascended from the parking lot to the field above. It was about twenty stairs. Every single, every other, every single, every other. I began that night.

A couple of months later and fifteen pounds lighter I checked the usher schedule, which listed the times that movies ended, and told my friend Shannon that next up was theater drei followed by theater elf.

“Oh, you took German in High School? My friend-”

Yeah my girlfriend- she took German in high school. Japanese wasn’t available, but she probably wouldn’t’ve taken it if it were.

We all went to get fastfood on a ‘Theatre break.” A theatre break is when there are like 45 minutes with no theatre to clean. We’d just bullshit in the break room or find somewhere to hide. -This was the only one of my 20+ jobs where I never looked at my watch- So Shannon and I snagged my girlfriend from concessions. I made a joke at the drive-thru that she laughed at. That’s when I knew I liked her. But she had a high school boyfriend. But maybe she was gonna break up with him because she was going away to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.  I called her at noon on a Friday in June and asked her if she wanted to go out the next night. She said she couldn’t go out on Saturday because it was Shannon’s birthday.

It had turned into the exact same all-or-nothing Loyd Dobler situation In the 1989 film Say Anything. Lloyd asks Diane Court out on Saturday. She has plans. Then he asks about Friday, the current day. She hesitates for a painful second and says “why not?” And you know, a whirlwind romance ensues.

“Well, what are you doing tonight? Wanna go to a Padres game?”



“Why not?”

I had about 20 dollars to my name and I wasn’t about to ask my mom for money, so I went up to Nick’s room. I knew he had a coffee mug on his dresser where he kept lots of change and I was pretty sure there were a couple of bills inside.

“NICK, I’m going out with a girl, can you help me out?”

He jumped over and immediately dumped it out on the surface of the dresser. In recent weeks he’d been asking me why I didn’t have a girlfriend when the brothers Tyson and Quinn were bringing girls around. He pulled out some crumpled bills, and much to my good fortune that little bastard had two ones and three fucking twenties. He didn’t hesitate to give it all to me. He asked me if I needed the quarters. I told him “nah” and promised I’d pay him back.

I tried to conceal my anxiety as I struggled to find a parking space downtown. She was totally cool. After finally parking in a garage ten blocks from the stadium, I began looking for a scalper. She was totally cool. Across the street from the stadium, I found an overweight middle-aged man in a Yankees jacket and paid him 40 bucks for two seats. He told me we were getting a decent deal and that the girl I was with was pretty. With a stutter I told him that I knew. He told me that all he wanted me to do now was tell the guy who would take our tickets that he, the scalper, needed a pastrami on rye. I deadpanned “Whatever you want dude.” So we walked across the street and up to the gate.  I told the young ticket guy that the Yankees fan over there needed a pastrami on rye. The ticket taker -a little confused and annoyed- looked at the scalper, I looked at the scalper and the scalper began laughing his Brooklyn ass off like he’d never seen anything funnier in his life. I wasn’t laughing. My girlfriend was hanging on to my arm. Jesus, she was totally cool.

I freaked out about eating my nachos for fear of looking like a stupid pig. I ate them slowly and methodically, careful not to spill cheese all over myself or have it crusted somewhere on my face. I gave up during the fifth inning and slid them under my seat. I’m ordinarily a damn good eater.

On the Big screen she saw the handsome outfielder, Xavier Nady.

“Ooooooh, who’s that?”

“That’s Xavier Nady. Kinda sucks” I muttered.

“Ohhhh it’s OK, I like you Aaron.” She smiled and squeezed my arm.

Shit, she thought I said it sucks that she thinks he’s cute. “No no, HE kind of sucks.”

After the game we went back to the theater and watched How To Lose A Guy In Ten Days after hours with like the whole crew. I dropped her off. She told me later she was surprised by the door-opening and all that old-fashioned stuff. I didn’t kiss her that night.

I kissed her two nights later. I took her to Tyson And Quinn’s (parent’s) house, where my article in Palomar college’s The Telescope  was taped to the refrigerator by Tyson. Tyson had blacked out the first part of the article’s title- Palomar College can be more than just-, leaving the title the author had intended which was simply High School With Cigarettes.

She met their parents too. When we walked out I had my hand on the small of her back and I told myself I was gonna kiss her that night, and it was going to be the first kiss that really mattered. We went back to my new apartment that I shared with four other movie theatre guys. One roommate was drunk on the couch. “Yoko Ono” he simply announced. We went to my room. We were there for maybe five seconds when I grabbed her head with both hands and kissed her. Then I shot over to the closet and grabbed a plastic bin that had Tony Gwynn’s rookie card and other personal stuff.

“Here’s a two dollar bill that was Tyler’s- my brother- this is my missionary name tag- oh, those marks on the back are from when a baby took it off me at church and chewed on it. That’s like tradition- I had more than one, but that’s like THE tag, you know, the first one they gave me- that’s not even Tony’s rookie card. It’s his second year card. See he’s already pretty chubby…”

I kissed her more.

I told her I loved her on the tenth day and she laughed at me. I dropped her off certain that I’d screwed it up and we were over. But somehow I saw her again the next day. And the next day.

On a Saturday evening I brought her up to my Dad’s house, a 45 minute drive to the high desert. Nobody was home so we went into the office as she checked her email. I heard the front door open and waited nervously before my Dad eventually popped his head and a single hand around his office door frame. With a nervous smile he muttered “Hello.” This behaviour was atypical of my dad.

I went to church during that first year home for some reason, even though I was mentally checked out, and writing The Big One in my head. The last day I really went to church, I’d been dating her for a couple of weeks. I thought I looked alright, in my favorite dress shirt, a Brooks Brothers steal I got at a thrift store. It was white with plum checkers. But I felt like a fucking idiot. Minutes before, I’d bumped into the bishop in the hall and he asked me if we could have a chat after the second hour. In the bathroom I looked in the mirror and asked myself what the fuck I was doing. Like I was in a movie or something.

In the bright, full, parking lot, I asked her what SHE was doing while I loosened my tie with my other hand. My tires chirped a little bit as one end of my tie was caught up in the wind and poking out of the sunroof.

At the door she beamed as she saw me in my church clothes and grabbed me by my plum collar. In slow motion she whispered-

“Sooooo handsome.”

That’s to illustrate how she made me feel.

With clenched toes, I sat at the foot of the bed as she read my first college essay. I was trying to get into one of the University of California Schools. 1000 of my words attempting to persuade a passing car to please not say “fuck you” to me and my missionary companion. My argument was that perhaps the passing car didn’t understand the pressure we were under.

“You ARE a writer she said.”

I saw my girlfriend almost every day that summer.

In late august I was in constant agony, waiting for her to tell me that she was going away to college and that she’d had a fun summer. When we were alone, she’d tell me she adored me, or tell me she really liked me. I’d just look at her, bottling my annoyance. As if her liberal use of like was intentional, to illustrate that it wasn’t the other one.

At a movie theatre party in late august we got into a little argument. It was our first. I was monitoring her drinking, she felt I was too nosy (To be fair, she got wasted after one beer. Wasted. She would get blotchy all over. There is a term called “asian glow”, but for my girlfriend drinking was like you or me walking into a bee’s nest.) We left the party early. I knew she was real mad when I asked her a pretty unmemorable question, to which she responded by asking me stoically if I wanted to get out “here.” “Here” was at the stop sign a quarter-mile down the hill from my mom’s house.

In front of my house she told me she thought I was too protective at that party. I told her I was sorry, but that she’s basically allergic to alcohol. She pukes after two shots. Allergic. Her mom even told her so.

She was still not happy with me. I began to wonder if this was it, in front of my mom’s house. She was going away to college. So I figured I’d give her the speech I was thinking about giving, even though I never convinced anybody of anything in my life. I told her that nobody was gonna freak out as much as me. Nobody was gonna sweat like I did. I disclosed my fear and disgust of 18-year-old freshman boys. I knew what they were; shirtless in gym shorts, as they rubbed their chests and adjusted their balls and stormed down dorm halls poking heads in and out of rooms as they referenced that hot asian chick. I told her it was difficult. When I first met her she had the high school boyfriend. The first time we did anything outside of work, I detailed my car, because I was gonna drive her to that party. Why? I don’t know. She had a boyfriend. I pointed out where the upholstery of my Reagan-era car was coming undone. It was the carpeted area that began at the bottom of the door and went underneath the pedals. When I drove us to that party I cleaned it out really good and used a bunch of fresh duct tape. She was going to California State Stupid Polytechnic University in San Luis Obispo Expialadosious, so like why would she date me, if she was going away? She broke up with the other guy because she was “going away.” Plus I just went to Jr. College… it was just always tough, her going away. And when I thought she’d break up with me because I told her I loved her early or when I died my hair blue -just- nobody was gonna freak out. Oh, yeah, plus I told her that I borrowed that money from Nick. So she asked me-

“You love me right?” She was waving her hand in front of her face.

More from the driver seat than my own, and with my face in her neck, I pointed out the lunacy in asking that question but of course then I answered it.

She left for Cal Poly a week after her friend Emily began school, so we got to go down to San Diego State and get a glimpse of the college life a week early. Emily told us about her roommate who seemed nice but might be a pathological liar. Emily had thought she heard the girl say that her dad was a Pediatrician but also she swore she later heard podiatrist. We went to a thing in a big room where condoms were passed out.  The girl down the hall was really very sweet and they talked about nursing for like an hour the night they met. And of course a girl from their high school was on the floor below. I would kiss my girlfriend in the dorm room when they talked about that shit and the girls would pause and smile.

I started doing this thing where I’d go in for a kiss at normal speed, but suddenly I’d flare my nostrils and the speed I was closing in with would suddenly decrease. I would de-flare them and the speed would stay the same until I widened them again and the deceleration would recur. It was like a spaceship parking on the moon, with retro rockets firing in the opposite direction to facilitate a gentle landing. I used to do that in the mirror when I learned what retro rockets were when I was a chubby sixth grader. But I didn’t kiss the mirror, I swear. I’d just park my face on it.

When I drove down from Seattle to visit her at Cal Poly, I’d do the thing where I grab her face and kiss her.

She told me to get on my knees. So I did. Then she grabbed my head with a startling amount of force and said “This is what it’s like to be me, AaronChan.”

* * *

We broke up for good over Christmas break three years later. She was headed to Australia for her last semester of college. I was 26 and had just struggled through another semester of jr. college. We sat on the floor of her empty room. This was gonna be it. She told me I needed more confidence. She told me that she looked in the mirror almost everyday and tells herself that she’s pretty and smart. Through all the salt and snot, I burst out laughing. She was wearing these new tights and a big shirt. I was never gonna take those tights off. I told her that I was sorry, and I just didn’t know it was gonna take this much time. She told me to make an outline. I told her…that I didn’t even know… WHAT I wanted to say. I told her about how Nick was playing football now and how I push him so hard to exercise and run. He was a running back. I really wanted him to have a victory, you know? A triumph. So I told him to run stairs, like I’d been doing. The same stairs I began running when Nicole Kidman told me I was cool. He should alternate from running every-single to ever-other stair. I told her how I pushed him, but secretly I wondered if maybe it’s not in our DNA.

But I was at the gym the other day and this guy asked me to play one-on-one basketball. I hate basketball because it requires the most athleticism of the major sports and I felt I had none. So we began playing, and this guy played, you know, at least fairly regularly. He was a couple of inches shorter than me but had a muscular, athletic build. He had a decent shot. We went to the outdoor court on a uncharacteristically cold night in San Diego and I began playing basketball with this guy. I had the ball-handling skills of a toddler, and an archless shot. But I covered him. It was a low-scoring affair.

I explained to her that the sudden temperature drop combined with the extreme physical exertion had made it difficult for me to breathe. I thought I’d fully relinquished my asthma through years of running. But what occurred was an authentic, middle school era, chubby, snot-nosed attack. Hands on my hips, wheezing, with thoughts of impending heart failure, I’d line up in front of the arch, ready once again to cover him like glue. I couldn’t quit. He said I was fast.

“I’ll make an outline. You want me to make an outline?”

“You didn’t go to Cal Poly. You got in AaronChan, but you didn’t go because they didn’t require one of your ‘brilliant’ essays.”

“Cuz no one gave a shit, AmySan. I cared so much and where’s that essay that I wrote? Some electronic trash bin. C’mon babe, who else was writing that? When I was fifteen I got this special magazine thing, you know, How To Get Into College or whatever and I read an example of a good essay and it was about this young girl on vacation. She had a nice time with her family and I don’t know, they were hiking or something and she went off with this nice young boy. She had such a dandy of a time and she even kissed him at the end. And that was a great essay cuz she didn’t write about how she was gonna succeed or whatever, or about her grandmother’s death. She had a nice voice and she told a sweet little story where a cute young one-dimensional Mormon boy makes a cameo and kisses her.

“I just wanted my essays to be read, babe. I wanted feedback. I’d rather they tell me to give up the writing than nothing at all.”

“You want them to think you’re great and you want them to forgive your bad grades, because you think you’re owed, in ways nobody can quantify. You want the New York Times to love you. You know, I love you AaronChan.”

Love, present tense.”



“You need to admit that you like some things about your old life.”


“Like your favorite scripture.”

“I don’t have one.”

“Yes you do Aaronchan. It’s Ether 12- something and it’s about weak things becoming strong. And you love that because you think you turned it around on The Church.”


“You hate to admit that you miss some things from that life, or that you learned anything. That’s why you can’t write anything. The same people you were supposed to go against, the family, Tyson and Quinn, they’re the one’s who love you the most and they’re the ones who keep you going. You love how your aunt told you that you’re not allowed to fail, when you lived with her before your mission. You use that as fuel- you think you turned that around on them too. But that’s who you are AaronChan. You put blankets on people when they sleep and you carried my little brother to his room when he was passed out drunk. You tell the CORNIEST jokes. You think you’re fueled by anger AaronChan, and you are, but do you think you could have done this on anger alone? You are Mormon AaronChan. No matter what you believe. Present tense.

“Why do you always need people to find you? Why do you need to write on a silly blog? I know, I know, you think you’re a punker. But I also know you want more people to hear you. You want to scream and cry out. You looooove that you first heard Arcade Fire when you were an hour outside Seattle, when you left me. Are you going to write about that AaronChan? Are you gonna tell them that you moved away from me? What was the name of the song? Rebellion. It makes you cry sometimes Aaron- how it went in and out of reception in the hills around Olympia.

“And you wish you could have Tyler but you know you can’t because you never talked to him about that stuff… and you just can’t. He’s not yours AaronChan and he’s not theirs either. You’re gonna have to learn to get along.

“Why do you always have to do it your way? Because you think people are going to find you, don’t you? You dare them to find the talent, right? Movie Reviews Of Movies I Haven’t Seen All The Way Through? Dawson’s Creek? Really AaronChan? Please. I don’t know how hard people look, they might be more relaxed than you. I know what you want to write about. You want to write about God and reason and existence and good and evil and hope and love and fear and everything else. And I don’t know if they know that.”

“Don’t go.”

“I have to go. And you have to go to Boston and be a writer, like you always wanted to. And you can do it. And it’s OK that it’s going to take a while because you’re ambitious. And you have ADD.”

She picked up a pen that was lying on the floor before her. She slowly began to push it toward my face until she actually began putting the uncapped end into my nostril. I jerked my head back and swatted the pen away. For a moment, I held my hand up silently in defense. She frowned and exhaled. So I dropped my hand and let her go.

I Don’t Think I’m Gonna Fish

I Don’t Think I’m Gonna Fish

By Aaron Litchfield

Who: Aaron, Chef Ray, Benny, Reid, and Reid’s Dad

Where: Cape Cod

When: The end of summer

Why: For fun

What: I went fishing with my friends Chef Ray, Reid, and Benny.

Friday Night 9:30pm- Benny and I met Chef at a Dunkin Donuts in Dorchester. Benny looked around a lot.  He asked me about ten times where Chef Ray was, and he kept saying he should have been there by that time. I told him I didn’t know what was up, and that maybe it’s no big deal.

9:35- Chef Ray showed up.

10:50- We arrived at Benny’s parents house where Chef and Benny played video game soccer while I watched a Bill Murray video on my computer. Chef Ray looked over when he heard me laughing. He said:

“You like that shit don’t you?”

“Yes, I do Chef.”

Saturday we woke up and took our time doing things.

11:00 am Saturday- I went out and got Benny and Chef Ray coffee while they played more video game soccer. I got to drive which was cool, because I don’t have a license.

12:30 pm- Benny and Chef finished playing video game soccer. They like that shit. They get really into it.  I think it was exciting for them because usually Benny plays at his house, while Chef plays at his house, with little girls kicking and poking him and asking him waaaaay too many questions when Chef just wants to relax a little bit. But now they were at an empty beach house in Cape Cod, and I think they were happy to play together in the same room. They were yelling at the screen and stuff.

12:45- We went to our friend Reid’s Dad’s house. It was a 15 minute walk away.

1:00- We met Reid’s Dad’s girlfriend at Reed’s Dad’s house.

1:05- We said goodbye to Reid’s Dad’s younger girlfriend. So it was Benny, Chef, Reed, Reid’s Dad, and me. We walked to the water and got in the fishing boat. Reid told us how his Dad was saying that we were going into Great White Shark territory and we all talked about how scary and exciting that was. It took about a half hour on the fishing boat to get to where we wanted- a spot where the bay meets the ocean. Benny, Chef, and I rode in the back of the boat while Sam was up front, next to his Dad, who drove the boat. There were smelly fumes in the back that I think altered our consciousness a little.

1:35- We finally got to the edge of the ocean and the bay- supposedly home to JAWS. Chef, and Benny went to the front. Chef began putting his pole together right away. Reid and Reid’s Dad went after their hooks and bait as well. I began eating my sandwich. Reid’s Dad talked about fishing. He told Reid where he could catch this fish and how he should bait that fish. Reid said “Oh, yeah?” and “Oh, no way” a few times. Also “Oh, OK Dad.” At a quiet point I just heard Reid say to his Dad-

“I like bluefish.”

1:40- I tried get up to go to the bathroom but I was nervous. I had to stand on the back ledge of the boat. It felt like someone was trying to shake the ground from underneath me. And I thought about Jaws exploding out of the water and eating me while I stood there, exposed. I sat down. Chef asked Ben if he was going to fish. Ben put his hand out flat and glided it forward-

“I like to ease my way into fishing.”

1:42 Reid’s Dad began throwing big pieces of fish guts into the ocean, right off the side of the boat. I think Reid was also afraid of JAWS.

“You wanna do that so close to the boat Dad?”

1:45- I finished the second half of my sandwich. Reid and his Dad began talking in hushed voices.

1:47- Benny leaned forward and began putting his pole together. Chef asked me if I was going to fish.

“I don’t think I’m gonna fish.”  I climbed up on the back of the boat again and tried to pee.

1:49- I was finally letting things go up there when Reid made an announcement to Chef, Benny and me.

“Hey guys, I’m sorry to say, but we gotta head back. My Dad has a doctor’s appointment at three.”


*     *    *

October 11 2014

I chose the video “Aliens Exist” by Blink at the end of the Ultimate Post because-

I went to the Boston Public Library to write/finish “What I wanted To Write.” The BPL on Boylston is where I’d go when I first moved to Boston, before I even had a fucking computer. I’d send emails and check facebook and whatnot. So after I’d begun the blog, I’d return to the BPL when it was time for serious business. WIWTW was for the SFSF and it was a big deal because unlike “Glossary,” I was actually gonna give some meat about the mission and the church. So I went. I got a little dressed up, cuz this is my job.

It’s hard for me to read that early stuff because it’s so personal, though it’s not like I’m ashamed. It’s not as if I want it to go away. AS IF! I just don’t feel like reading it right now. I’m digressing. I want any errors removed, but it’s not worth it for me go over the old stuff again. Maybe in the future. Email me people. Yeah right.

Anyway, I felt pretty damn good after finishing WIWTW. I felt real good. I felt like I’d done a good bit of writing and it took me about ten years to write like that. I felt light as a feather. I walked out of the old East Entrance (as I always did) and there was a light blanket of snow covering the ground on that late winter/early spring day. That winter was the lightest of my six Boston winters. There was like no snow. The winter prior to that, there was a ton of snow. So the blanket of snow that met me as I exited the BPL just made me feel like everything was right in the world. I felt good. I remember the subway ride home. I wondered who was reading it. I was so amped. I tried to find things to listen to on my ipod that matched the energy level that I felt. You’d think “My Name Is Jonas” would have done, but no, not enough. The only song was “Aliens Exist.” I listened to it over and over. Fuck yeah.

Oh yeah, so the point. I also felt like that after the Ultimate Post.

It helps me.

I recently moved to Central Square in Cambridge. The first couple weeks I slept on my futon mattress on the floor before I was able to move its accompanying frame. One evening, I went home and plopped down on the futon mattress right away. I was asleep at about 8pm.

I awoke to a nightmare. What am I doing? OK, someone’s arms are around my waist. I was confused. He’s Behind me. I was sitting up on my futon mattress. His hands are locked together. Josh is really strong. It’s fucking Josh. I tried to pry his hands apart. What is going on? I lunged forward and did a somersault. Josh ended up on top of me. Damn, he’s so fast, too! I wrestled in tenth grade. Why couldn’t I learn a single fucking move!? I never really learned any moves. My wrestling record was zero wins against two losses. Fuck! We tumbled around for a while, my coherence grew as the seconds went by. Josh flopped me on my back. Yes, I went to work today…I jammed my knee into his side. I was very tired…he’s tickling me. Again. Again?  The tickling was like murder, enough anger at that point enabled me to slam him into the wall. That’s rightI came home and took a nap. Does he have to punch me in the kidney, in the KIDNEY, that hard? This is a friend, and roommate? So this is how I wake up? This is my new living situation.


When did I wake up? How long were you at it?


Well first I went in and started tugging at the mattress, shaking it back and forth, like craaaaazy man, yanking you up and down and you were…I mean just NOTHING. OUT. Then I took the pillow and slammed you in the face and NOTHING man. Nothing.


So what did it?


The tickling. Automatically. As soon as I touched your feet you were up and fighting right away. Like RIGHT AWAY.


Oh, yeah, I remember the tickling.

Yesterday morning I awoke to a loud clanging sound outside that I just dismissed as industrial or municipal so I went back to sleep. I awoke again about an hour later and peered out the window. I saw a woman about 50, who was possibly dressed for work on a nice summer morning in Cambridge. She was wearing white shorts and a blouse. She carried a bag with her.

So I said she was dressed for a nice summer morning, but it wasn’t nice- it was raining. And the repeated clanging noise I’d been hearing wasn’t industrial or municipal, it was the woman banging an empty plastic bottle against a chain link fence. Her hair and clothes were soaking wet. The empty-plastic-bottle-against-the-fence made a surprising amount of noise for a person banging a plastic bottle against a fence across the street. She seemed to be looking toward the house on the her side of the street as she banged.  I assumed that she was desperately trying to get the attention of someone living in the house in front of her. She was banging so steadily. It was like bang bang bang bang bang bang all spaced out evenly, like a metronome. I held hope that she wasn’t quite insane- though it was obvious she was definitely not the best decision maker. I thought she could go about things differently, like cross over that chain link fence and walk to the front door, and ring or knock. I assumed she didn’t have a phone. I asked myself how she could have the courage to bang on a fence repeatedly, and loudly enough for a whole block to hear, while simultaneously being afraid to open the gate and walk to the door of the house.  I went back to bed.

A while later I was up again and I heard the same rhythmic banging. Was the sound different this time? I looked out the window. It sure was a different sound. The plastic bottle was gone, and in its stead was a stick. In the hour or so that had passed since I saw her banging the fence with the bottle, she had moved from right to left across my field of vision, and down the sidewalk a bit. She was slapping a stick against a city parking sign. So no trying to get one’s attention, no poor decision-making, just pure insanity. Before conceding that, I was really rooting for her.

Shortly after seeing the woman banging the stick against the parking pole, my roommate Josh came into my room and asked me what was going on. He knew though, because he had the same view from his room. I stuck my face near the screen.


“Why are you doing that!!!?”


“Yeah, ALLLLL morning!”


“It helps me.” tap tap tap. “It helps me.”