John Tang

Sugar, Sugar, Sugar: Rocket Fuel & Crossing the Street

Posted in Sketchbook by Jt's Item Roster on March 29, 2010

Sugar, Sugar, Sugar: Rocket Fuel

A Grown Man’s Tale

Three o’clock in the morning the four of us, a few friends of mine, finished Turtles in Time on PS3. Jump, special attack, and regular attack—punch, kick, sometimes, throw, headbutt and slide—for an hour, usually uncontrolled on the screen. In these weak states of consciousness the movements in the thumbs were called “button-mashing.” Our bodies functioned on cherry soda, chips, the emulation of fastfood-tacos was spicy on my tongue still to that morning. My body hunched, the head staring up at the television, while it rested on the rolls on my neck and shoulders—even how I disconnected my neck from the self in describing it as “the” was evident to how the game had taken toll over my mind.

Long story short: We travelled through enough eras, where we defeated Shredder on the top of the modern-day Statue of Liberty. We were a bit dissatisfied how rushed the game seemed. We wished the game followed a longer and thicker plotline; for instance, what machine did Shredder use to toss us into B.C. Why didn’t the producer’s follow the original verbatim, since the targeted audience were loyal fans when the game was first produced on Nintendo, then this specifically, off of Super Nintendo?

If I ran on consciousness rather than sugar, had more time to develop the sense, or rather, lost of sense, then something “fruitful,” as the classicist would say, would emerge tonight.  I could imagine being asked over a stone parapet: “What is left of you after a communal journey as hence?”


Sugar, sugar, sugar: Rocket Fuel


Crossing the Street

Trying to see Mistakes before I finish: Movement and Connection

Small things have their stories, too. Every morning there was an old man who aged well. A black man, perhaps mentally challenged as you saw in his slow reaction, bull eyes and shy demeanor. Sometimes I jogged in the morning, where I would wave and greet him. He would smile only, nod his ragged cap, while walking around our housing complex. I assumed these were routine exercises. He had good posture, as he swung those swollen forearms.

[Here’s how a fiction story would begin] Once, when the sun hid a few clouds in the summer, I had to catch my breath. I smelt the exhaust fumes smothering the main street. Because there was an elementary school close to home, the vans and midsize cars and busses congested Foxboro Street every morning. There was the old man doing the routine. Of course I greeted him, yet I said good morning.


His reserved tone dammed any conversation. I was curious about his route. I didn’t believe that question crossed any barriers, like how women could misconstrue a casual air. He was rolling a leather coat around the arms, putting a foot down on the curb but refrained before every car in passing—many of those who didn’t drive through this street we needed to cross. Many drives must’ve had missed him. His gestures were clear he wanted to cross yet was too cautious of each car, assuming many drivers never used their signals.

[The problem here is I needed a connection between the narrator and this guy. What is the point of my curiosity?]

I jogged across in small strides, lifting my knees higher every step. I didn’t want to walk him through, as if I was holding his hand, revealing some weakness. Awareness was an excuse to tap into anyone’s weaknesses, flesh or glass, personal or impartial. Although they bare a heavy veracity in the society, they were waged unfairly in assumptions. I turned around and saw the man stepped off the curb. My being there must’ve given him enough confidence to cross. When I stepped on the curb across, I turned around once more to see if he finished crossing, too. He did, and I waved goodbye. His body shifted side to side, walking, with that blank face of his, as if he didn’t notice any deeds were done. Who’d record this on my resume? Score it fairly? My eye lids fought against the allergies, twitching in the cold air beneath my little nose. I began to cool down before I finished the second mile, mitigating the effort developed after a heavy breakfast—rice and eggs and milk.



Small Beginnings

Posted in Sketchbook by Jt's Item Roster on March 28, 2010

JT’s Item Roster

I used  to have an intro, but I edited it out.  Sounded too insincere. My goal: Try writing well with all its mistakes in the process and recess.


Gabe’s Room

While standing, Tim ate a sandwich from Subway and remembered he left a sandwich in his locker. It must’ve been there for a week now in San Jose. Tonight they were in Gabe’s room, lit only by a single light in the corner. A warm spell of congestion filled the room, yet a spicy scent of periwinkle helped John’s stomach the evening. Jesse, Mark, Tim, Gabe, and Chris, were on the bed and ottoman, waiting for game to load on the PS3. John was writing the moment which today took place.

“What pens do you use?” Chris asked Tim. “All mines are too fat.”

“Here,” Tim tossed a pen. “Ballpoint. They’re still pretty fat.”

Mark and Jesse wanted to see the new Final Fantasy XIII before they delve into four-player game. The intro opened on a mossy canyon, silver with water falling over other floating islands.

“Avatar!” Mark had wide eyes.

“Shit blows Avatar.” Tim pointed at the tv.


Reconsidering China

I finally reviewed what China had to offer: A fear of diseases. I read an article on immunization. This was a major con against China, aside from a Culture which survived without an interest in Westernization. I guess this was part of the trade for experience. With my weak credentials, lack of a two-year graduate degree and experience in teaching, my options might be narrowed to impoverish cities, like Hunan, China, where I heard how easily one was mugged in the city. Alan, a Chinese friend from SF, said his mom and dad were pick-pocketed on the bus soon as they entered the city. By now South Korea felt a bit more appealing. They were open to Westernization longer than China (had an American Military Base for sixty years). The openings which I was eligible for was in a popular city, like Seoul.

I searched in the shallowest reasons for following-through with China. I have family, from my grandfather’s side, who lived there, and I wanted to reconnect with my heritage. I knew my family wasn’t excited as me learning Tagalog, irrigating my Filipino roots.  Their morals, their humanity grew and was well-nourished in the Batangas, Daet, and Manilla, Philippines. My papa was the youngest of nine, too young before he untapped life from his dad, who past away due to a severe case of lung cancer in his early-fifties. My papa grew more attached from the Chinese heritage, as he left to take care of his family in the United States.


Filipino at Huey’s Optometry

“Leonitus,” I pronounced the name like the Greek warrior. The Filipino man corrected me, enunciating each syllable as if accented—that last beats were pronounced instead of “I” was “ee” and “uhs” was “es”—each syllable was taken how it was seen in ink. I grew embarrassed, staring down at the chart. I tried justifying the tension in reminding him how Filipinos twisted original names. For instance, my uncle Cesar’s name wasn’t pronounced like the Roman leader, but as “Se-sahr.”

“Are you Filipino?” He asked.

Yes, I said, but not a good one, meaning I have a weak ear for Tagalog, answering “Contin lang” with an American accent. Pitiful yet sincere. I grew up close to family in the Philippines, yet was too stubborn in learning the language. Tim spoke it fluently before, yet lost it, too, in Okinawa on base.  I said a few more phrases in poor Tagalog, smoothing out the awkward distance between me and my heritage, until I shared nine-years of my past how my parents joined the Air Force—my father was Bataganio. Leonitus sat smiling, eyes drooping. He was a punchy man, who had oily black flaring everywhere on that square skull of his. I wanted to make one more cheap bridge to my heritage by making a joke through Manny Pacquiao, but I consciously stubbed the thought, a cheap crutch many Filipinos finally found pride in in America.

“I’m a little embarrassed that I don’t know Tagalog. May I call you Cordazon?”

That was his last name, felt more comfortable how it was enunciated without a hard tongue.

“Yes, that will work, too.”

I began the pre-test: Visual Field, Tonometer, and Auto-Refractor, and sat him the examining room.


Opportunities in the Morning

By tonight I found myself leaning towards China. SF state’s MA program would always be there when I return. With China, although, I am worried about a few things: (a) Health and (b) The safety of the area. I may live in a province where both are uncontrollable, especially in a growing town where the sewage is not treated and the city has a high-crime rate. Tonight in Vacaville I overheard there was a robbery across the street from our complex. Fortunately, the robber fled before anything was stolen. Even in a safe a place as Vacaville, a rather large town, had its own crime. Everywhere did. It hinged on Time, like the best of the Life as well as the worst. Aside from this laptop, a camera, Ipod, clothes and maybe a skateboard, which I would leave at the home, I didn’t carry anything valuable. I write the most intimate moments in pen, the sincerest on paper—unfortunately there wasn’t enough time or pace for prose, only letters and poems, I suppose. We’ll see. Adapting has its own will in solitude—often the best when examined later.

I was excited receiving two acceptance letters from SF state and a Footprints abroad recruiting center. I can’t think of an easier way than a pros-and-cons list.

SF state

Pros: (a) Got accepted in a competitive program, (b) Move down there, a second chance for a college experience, with friends, (c) Close to home, (d) City scene, (e) Can prepare me for China

Cons: (a) not the terminal degree in Creative writing, (b) high cost of living, (c) I’m still in CA, (d) I’m confident I’ll get in again


Pros: (a) New culture, can drastically change life, (b) free housing, (c) Still single to explore the world, (d) get a chance to write another manuscript for a great school

Cons: (a) Away from family for a year, (b) Not guaranteed a safe city or province

[Not finished, nor treated fairly because of work at ten this morning]


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Posted in Uncategorized by Jt's Item Roster on March 26, 2010

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