Writer’s Declaration

By Pao Saechao

(Author’s note: This was written 15 years ago but feels like it was written way before then. Updates and commentary are in parentheses with italics.)

My Belated Declaration of Independence

It’s 5:45 P.M. and I’m sitting with hopes of punching out 750 or so words of semi-coherent babble. When I agreed to write this column, I thought it would be simpler, or maybe I’m just making it too complicated.

As of yesterday, the column’s topic was the importance of money in culture, both mainstream and alternative, but reviewing the outline lead me to the conclusion that it was too preachy. And it would’ve been a bit biased as well, considering I don’t have any money. Regardless, the topic has been shelved for another day. But, early this morning, while in a highly uncomfortable sleep interrupted by three dazed trips to the bathroom, I decided to just let this column shape itself.

Bear with me…

Summer has been passing fast and slow, depending on the day and occasion. This weekend (starting with July 4th) blew by like an Arctic breeze, except the burned skin on my back is peeling from floating down the American River for nearly five hours without sunscreen. Dehydration from adult beverages didn’t help. Oh well, it was amusing to say the least. Mud wrestling highlighted the evening, but believe you me, it was far from sexy. It was really trashy, but somehow, I liked it…a lot. A young woman about 5’ 9” took on, in succession, a chick and three guys. Though all four who dared to compete with her failed miserably, condolences go out to Guy #2, who suffered a harsh body slam before being choked in a headlock. Upon being let up, his friends greeted him with obligatory laughter.

Are there any literary people out there? I’d like to get your views on the (mis)representation of Asian Americans or Asians in literature. I’m quite a fan of the Asian American literary scene, and I’d greatly appreciate dialogue with others who are interested. (To be honest, I haven’t been following it as closely as I did in my younger days.) For those looking for a humorous summer read, check out David Wong Louie’s The Barbarians are Coming. He writes with a fascinating voice that delivers some sadly hilarious, yet keen observations. It’s been out a few years now, but it’s still one of my favorites along with Chang-Rae Lee’s Native Speaker and John Steinbeck’s East of Eden. (Those books still hold up.)

Side note… Is it just me or is Natalie Portman just a beautiful woman? It’s in her laugh, I think… (She’s aged well, hasn’t she?)

…The other day, I spoke to a friend while driving home from work, and she asked about my convictions. I laughed at the time. But, being that the Fourth of July recently past, and America’s forefathers used the Declaration of Independence as a medium to express their beliefs, I have a few of my own to share (In honor of Crash Davis, the greatest minor league player in baseball history.):

I believe in smoking cigarettes with my morning coffee, reading a book before watching the movie, love poems that don’t rhyme, blue jeans that cost less than $40 and buying tennis shoes only when necessary. (I’ve bought two pairs in the last eight years, so that should let you know what my exercise regimen has been. Gone are the days of spending evenings on the basketball court.)

I eat pasta with canned red sauce and pass on dessert.

I trust the crossover dribble, keep my elbow in on jump shots and believe man-to-man defense is the only way to play on blacktops with bent rusty rims.

Fishing trips without canned beer and beef jerky are incomplete, and you always tip the graveyard waitress who smiles though her eyes stay open only because of the neon lights outside the highway diner. I (try) sleep in on Saturday mornings (though not as late I used be able to) and love the creases where a woman’s butt greets her legs while she walks.

I believe in sexy women who wear glasses so they can see and second chances with high school sweethearts. I don’t mind long kisses in airport terminals, and believe love letters should be in ink and take only one draft, with the mistakes crossed out with only one line. It makes for a longer letter.

I laugh with men and women who picked on each other in childhood but are willing to buy each other the next drink. I believe in drinking beer while smoking indoors (I actually hate smoking indoors now unless it’s the middle of winter and I’m in a dive bar.) and whiskey and vodka being the only two liquids belonging in shot glasses, just like the two Tupac songs that were made to belong in bars and clubs. (If you don’t know which ones you need to freshen up on the discography.)

Steinbeck’s California still exists, and trucks and sports cars have manual transmissions. And I sincerely believe that Springsteen’s music is best heard while driving ten miles more than the speed limit on a two-lane highway with one car in your rearview and both front windows down.

I believe in learning how to enjoy a car before buying a boat or plane.

I want a convertible that’s red, white, black or blue, and a SUV that’s smaller than my college dorm room. I’ll have to make sure the SUV doesn’t spend its lifetime as an over-glorified station wagon relegated to chores and errands.

I believe children should yell at their parents, but only once in a lifetime.

We should always cheer for someone when a record is broken, even if the record belonged to a childhood hero or the record-breaker is the most hated player on our most hated team. And high school athletes whom sit the bench their senior year learn more about life than the stars who quit because of playing time or philosophical differences.

Most of all, I believe pale brunettes are fine and tall blondes are fun, but God made redheads without knowing the repercussions…

…Um, that’s it.

So where do the Asian people hang out in the Sacramento area? Is there some club or bar where they all congregate? I’ve been out and about for a few months now, and I rarely see anyone except a lone Asian here and there. Then again, I’m usually the lone Asian (Which may be the title of an upcoming project).

Overall, I’m fairly satisfied with this summer-in-progress. Read a few books, visited a few places and met some nice people. Wish I could do more, but for the first time, there doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day. Or maybe I’m just not getting enough rest. Too many last calls at the local bar.

Like I said, feel free to contact me at paocsaechao@gmail.com.

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