Category Archives: life

The Day I Thought It Was Thursday

All I am is a man
I want the world in my hands
I hate the beach
But I stand in California with my toes in the sand

“Sweater Weather” by The Neighbourhood

I woke up with scraped knuckles in the haze of a blackout hangover. How did I get home? I still had on the wristband from Ace of Spades. I’d been functional enough to get out of my clothes before passing out. When did we leave the show? I couldn’t even remember riding home, until I saw the Astronautalis album on the dining room table and remembered how much of a pain in the ass it had been riding a bike with a record in one hand. Did I throw up last night? I vaguely remembered throwing up. When did I scratch up my knuckles? Did I crash my bike?

It was weird not being able to answer any of these questions. Iven was off at work, so I had to try and piece together the details on my own. There were no details. I don’t even remember if the headlining band made it on stage before we left. Why’d we leave so early?

Last night also confirmed that yes, my ex-girlfriend still lives in Sacramento. She was at the show. We said a few words and then she went off with her friend. When you break up with someone and cease communication with them, you can’t help but wonder now and then where they ended up.

Now it’s Wednesday, not Thursday like I thought it was.

I went to Temple Coffee to try and meet this fellow named Todd that might have some freelance proofreading work for me to do with him. Not sure of all the details. Anyway, I edited a piece he sent me. Seems like it could be a legit gig. His e-mail asked to meet on Thursday and, thinking it was Thursday, I walked over there to meet him and obviously had no luck in that department. However, I found out that Zoe just got a job there. She’s an old character from Old Soul, so it was neat to reunite and catch up. That wouldn’t have happened if I had my days straight.

Things are good. Feeling pretty good about things.

Sometimes I worry too much about school. Sometimes it really sucks not having Jenny here. Sometimes I get paranoid about money. Sometimes I really miss Istanbul. Sometimes I’ll suddenly wonder if I’m on the wrong path. Sometimes I forget to smell the roses.

But when I sit and think about my life, I’m happy with it.

Now I just gotta see about getting a mattress.


The Day After The Weekend With Rob

This vessel’s underway
Secure the rigging, we’re headed south
Tack the sails, man the posts
We’re headed south into the wind

“AFK” by Pinback

The honest truth is that things have been moving very quickly. But not in a bad way. I’m grateful for this house, for living with Iven, for the friends who have welcomed me back with open arms, and for the weather. Grad school, so far, is not the migraine it might turn into in the coming months. Things are just… Settling.

It’s strange. Delayed culture shock.

I miss Jenny a lot. I’m looking forward to less long-distance in our relationship.

I miss the laissez faire life of studying abroad. I miss not feeling guilty about not having a job.

Things are coming together. My world is slowly taking a path. I’ve got a tutoring gig lined up (going to meet the student on Friday). I’ve sent my teacher interview questions out for responses (part of a 215C project). I’m pretty much staying up with all the readings. I got a bike lock.

Rob came to visit this weekend. Our first official overnight house guest.

Despite some losses, I think I’m still the reigning backgammon champion.

This weekend I take a trip up to Truckee with my family. I think some nature will be nice.

A breather from the bustle.

the day of the job interview

So, bless my heart and bless yours too.
I don’t know where I’m gonna go
Don’t what what I’m gonna do.

“Hold On” – Alabama Shakes

Had an interview today for an Instructional Aide position, which is a bit misleading because “aide” implies giving assistance, whereas the actual position puts you in charge of a class of your own. Just you. I’m certainly okay with that, but I think they ought to rephrase their job titles.

Getting out to South Sacramento wasn’t too hard. I grabbed the 68 from the stop in front of Suzie Burger and it dropped me off about forty minutes later on Steiner, which was only a ten minute walk from Sacramento Unified School District’s main HQ.

I was early so I sought a liquor store and downed a blue Gatorade with a cheap pastry for breakfast, then read some of my book in the shade.

Waiting for the interview inside, I filled out this secondary form. Answered a couple questions about myself. Why would I be a good teacher? What special skills do I have? Would I be able to be a substitute?

The question that stalled me was: Who is your main inspiration or role model, and why?

I gave it some thought, then wrote: “Andy Dufresne from ‘The Shawshank Redemption.’ Even though he was wrongfully convicted, he continued to pursue his dreams.”

Regarding the actual interview, it was held by a panel of various administrative figures from schools throughout the district. Nice people. Good handshakes. They each asked me a question or two. How would I handle a confrontation with a parent? How would I teach kids the rules of a new game? What methods would I bring to a classroom? For the most part I thought I answered well, giving honest responses with some examples from my previous experience.

In the end, I had to bring up the timing conflicts. Probably this is my fault, since the job title in full was “Instructional Aide for After School Program.” I should’ve known this would come up.

Since I’m in class at Sac State from about 3 – 6 most days, I’m basically unavailable for the position, which sucks. I think everything was pretty cherry until we got to that part. Luckily one guy had a suggestion for another position I might fit into, but we’ll see.

Basically, I’ll be lucky to hear back from them.

More importantly, the irony of going to college to become a teacher while not having time to gain experience teaching because you’re at school is a bit baffling.

I’m sure there’s something else out there.

– chrispresso –


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the day i moved in

It matters where you are
As the sun hits, she’ll be waiting
With her cool things and her heaven
Hey hey lover you still burn me

“When the Sun Hits” – Slowdive

We open on a bedroom floor, standard sandy brown carpet. On the floor along one wall are various piles of clothes, trinkets from travels abroad, a camera and headphones. Along the other wall, a fold-out mat with a blanket and a pillow, upon which I sit, Chris, wearing khaki shorts and a Lion King t-shirt. The whole apartment is pretty much empty. Some decorations. A chair. A bottle of tequila in the kitchen.

This is Day One.

Living in Sacramento is familiar and comforting. I feel like I’ve been gone for more than seven and a half months, yet at the same time it feels like no time has passed at all. Here I am again. New keys, new address, new madness.

There’s a park across the street.

We’re two blocks from a corner market, one block from a hamburger joint, a half-block from a lousy Mexican food restaurant, a block from Ink, two blocks from Monkey Bar, and not more than five minutes from my favorite bar/venue, Harlow’s.

The apartment walls are mint green. Most of the place has hardwood floors. Ceiling fans. Antiquated charm. A claw-foot bathtub. In the backyard, the collected trinkets of previous and current tenants, a hammock and a bench and a nice little yard. The front porch is frequented by the tenants, who are friendly and easy-going and may or may not all work for the State. The currency of the house is beer. We might chip in for the wireless internet (which I’m already using) with a six pack every month.

I’ve gotten hooked up to PG&E.

SMUD is “receiving such a high volume of calls” that the automated voice asked me to call back later. By later I think they mean tomorrow.

I’ve got school at 4:30 and this’ll be my first time commuting from this address. Not a bad commute at all, just a quick walk to J street and a bus ride across East Sac. Then I’ll be coming back here, to my new home, my new shell. Iven should be coming down around that time, too, and he’ll have some stuff to drop off. I’m hoping he brings a TV.

Our landlord is awesome. Our location is prime. The weather is fantastic.

Jenny comes home in two months.

Here’s to old friends, new friends, new things, and familiar haunts.

– Chrispresso

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the day i was published

I wrote a guest post for Bucket List Productions a while back and it was published recently. It felt pretty good, since it’s the first thing I’ve ever had published and I’ve received nothing but rejections for the fiction pieces I’ve sent out this year. Anyway, it’s a little love letter to Istanbul and I’m pretty proud of it. Click here to read it.

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the day i wrote my global ed. essay

Well I’m back in Sacramento. After 7 1/2 months abroad, I’ve returned to California to finish grad school and figure out what follows. When this semester begins, I have to hand in this essay to the Global Education office to tell them about my experience studying abroad in Istanbul. Since this blog will chronicle my life back in the States, it seemed fitting to start it off with this.


Four months in İstanbul was not enough time. I distinctly remember the feeling of my first few nights in the glorious city when it felt like I had all the time in the world to make the most of my study abroad. Then a month was gone, then another, and soon enough I was boarding my flight and leaving the country, and it felt as if none of that had been real. It passed so quickly.

One moment I was taking my first walk through the snowy streets of Taksim Square, and the next I was riding the metro to Ataturk Airport.

As these moments were slipping by at such a rapid pace, I learned quickly how to appreciate the moment. I learned how to take walks along the Bosphorus, idle on the lawn at South Campus, take photo journeys through the surrounding neighborhoods, and how to soak up the sights of this unforgettable city. In wanting to explore the country and spend time with my new international friends, one of the most difficult parts of studying abroad was ignoring the urge to skip class in exchange for an adventure.

The good news is that I was a good student. I only missed one or two of my Turkish classes for the sake of a weekend trip or unplanned event. For the most part I was able to ignore the allure of İstanbul and maintain consistent attendance at school. I feel any student who studies abroad will come to realize that the hardest part about studying abroad is the “studying” part, and not because the classes are exceptionally difficult, but because you’d much rather wander the hillsides than sit in a desk on a beautiful day!

I honestly had the best time of my life in İstanbul. From landing to departure, the entire experience was remarkable. It is difficult to put into words how much fun I had overseas. What I enjoyed the most was meeting dozens of new people from all corners of the world and making great lifelong friends. We laughed and danced and took walks and got lost and went on tours and partied and made hundreds of unforgettable memories. I loved having a dinner where I was the only American at the table eating with friends of all nationalities. The variety of language and culture was incredible. I learned something new every day simply by talking to my friends, classmates, and roommates.

The Turkish culture was very inviting. The language was beautiful, fun to learn, and when utilized outside of campus it was always rewarding to communicate with a local and order food without a hitch. I never had any problems with cultural bias. I was treated kindly and with curiosity. Knowing how to small talk with the locals made the experience better because it showed that I cared enough about the culture to become a small part of it.

There was plenty of variety in İstanbul, from the styles of the locals to the choices of cuisine. The city is well respected and loved by its citizens. They embrace new ideas and trends and make them their own. They are respectful of outside opinion and strive to make İstanbul a memorable, significant presence to the global eye. I was definitely won over by the city’s charm. I want to go back as soon as I can.

Regarding the education I received there, the teaching was top quality and the amount of work was fair according to my major and grade level. This was my first semester of official grad-level coursework. The classes were small, usually no more than six or seven students, and the discussions were lively and intimate. While the teachers spent some time lecturing, most of the classes were structured like debates, with every student sharing and trading ideas. To be honest, I was a little intimidated by the high intellect of my classmates, all of whom had actual hands-on teaching experience that I lacked. I wish I would’ve contributed more to the discussions, but I was a bit shy. My classmates all seemed to know each other and the professors quite well. Plus, when class was not in session, the students were prone to speak in Turkish and I was often left out of the loop—although on many occasions, they would realize that I was clueless and would gladly translate for me. They all taught English outside of university, so they had great language skills.

The work I did consisted mostly of essays and readings, with a few presentations. I had to construct a wiki page for my Computer Assisted Language Learning class. I had to research grammar testing methods and create a portfolio of test samples with a two-hour presentation to go with it, as well as create a grammar test of my own (this being my biggest project of the year). There was a lot of reading of academic articles, and unfortunately with the temptations of exploring the city and spending time with friends, some of those articles were simply skimmed over before class. In-class discussions were common. Some students spoke a lot more than others, but everyone contributed. There were no tests in any of my classes other than Turkish For Foreigners, and that class, I must admit, was the least rewarding because the professor’s teaching method was lackluster and few students found the motivation to even attend class. I got an AA in Turkish and BA’s in the rest.

It’s important for future exchange students to know a few things: There are many stray dogs and cats around İstanbul. They are friendly and well fed by the locals, who treat them with general respect. If you go for spring semester, expect snow and rain for your first month or two. After that, the weather gets beautiful. Don’t let the exchange rate fool you. Do not think in American dollars. Think in Turkish Lira. Just because it’s “half the cost in dollars” does not mean you should buy it. You will run out of money quickly. Travel outside of İstanbul. I recommend Trabzon and Antalya. Use Pegasus Airlines because it’s cheap and convenient.

The benefits of my experience are limitless. On the basic level, learning another language and mastering the public transportation of a foreign country are invaluable skills. I also became involved with an entirely new culture, which opens your mind to many new points of view and truly strengthens your understanding of what it means to be human. I benefit from the habits I formed there, such as taking my education seriously while taking advantage of my travels. I have made friends who live all around the world; invaluable connections for someone who plans to travel more in the future. Most importantly, I found out what it feels like to be a foreigner, which we overlook when we are so accustomed to seeing foreigners in the United States. It is important to know what it feels like to be outside of your country, removed from your mother tongue, removed from your natural habitat, and encouraged to learn new skills and adjust to unfamiliar customs.

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