Thursday, October 28, 2004

I love that dirty water

All right, I forgive you

Compliments of the AP... are the Red Sox not comprised of the wackiest bunch of goofballs? Between Pedro and Manny, you have some kind of funny face competition going.

Now I'm heartsick for Boston... times like this I miss it so. When I read accounts of the madness that will ensue on Saturday during the parade, I won't miss it as much. When I think about Boston in January when it's so cold that your skin goes to pins and needles when you walk into a warm place, I will miss it even less. But for now, I'm waxing nostalgic.

The lunar eclipse was beautiful last night. I live in one beautiful part of the country, if I do say so myself. Even if it's only until the next horizon becomes clear, I will not take these things for granted, as the song goes.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

time's so scarce where I come from

Even though I know, rationally, that I shouldn't treat this strictly as a diary stand-in, I have to take a moment to vent. I just worked a thirteen hour day at my soul-sucking job. And I am now just preparing to go home and make it fifteen solid. I just can't sit in my office anymore, lest I lose what little is left of my mind. Serenity now!

This is exactly why I am so convinced that I must expend my energies elsewhere. I have no problem with the notion of working intensely, even to the point of losing well-roundedness (that is definitely not a word, for the grammar police, but I am too frazzled right now to write sensibly). But to work with such intensity on something that is inherently pointless, or, worse yet, could be considered all about the benjamins... oh, hell no.

I am quelled only by the thought that I am taking conscious steps to get out of this situation, to turn things around. It's not quite like turning a corner on a walk, it's more like taking a turn on a ship. It takes time, change is gradual, but all of a sudden, a new horizon will be visible. Right now, all I have is the promise of that horizon, while I toil away to turn the wheel without capsizing. And that's officially as far as I can take the ship analogy.

On a completely unrelated topic, in an attempt to veer off the grumbling, wouldn't a hypoallergenic cat rock? Actually, now that I've written that, I'm not sure myself. I've always been partial to dogs, and friends have always claimed it's because I'm so allergic to cats. But there's perhaps more to it, after all. I'm not really a big fan of pets, and here's why. Dogs, lovely as they are, are like babies that never grow up. Which is nice if you're looking for unconditional love and someone to dote on, but would no doubt devolve into pain-in-the-ass standing with me in no time. Plus, I don't know where I get this, but somehow I just don't understand the concept of pets. If you're really pro-animal rights, shouldn't you leave them be? They don't want to be owned by you, do they? What came first, the chicken or the egg? Did dogs wander up to people, begging to be cared for, or did we tame them and make them our belongings? Really, I'm curious. If dogs are babies, cats are permanent teenager girls. You can almost see them roll their eyes right before they yawn, you can nearly hear them gripe "oh mom!", and you know they only kiss ass (i.e. meow and purr) when they want something, and will run hot and cold whenever they please. Hypoallergenic or no, I'll take a pass, thanks.

Of course, given the current state of the union in my life, it's unlikely that I could care for a pet rock, so I don't even know why I'm musing over this. The only thing that is currently allowing me some sanity is listening to my beloved iPod, which is currently serenading me with The Sundays:
Distance myself from the things I'd like
but everyone has something I need
don't let me wake up and find
all those others leaving me behind
well, if you don't have a clue about life
then I'm happy happy happy to say-
neither have I-
although I'm not going to shrug my shoulders and suck my thumb
this time
because there's something I deserve

I'll always think them woefully underrated.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

They're getting tired, sick and tired

A touch of pink

Okay, not to get all grrrrl-ish, but I'm posting this picture to remind anyone who happens upon this blog that there are still a few days left in Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I'm not going to write a diatribe about the need to raise breast cancer awareness, etc, though. I think there is a different message to highlight.

Breast cancer rivals AIDS in terms of star power and lobbying to get increased funding around research and treatment development. Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer among women, but if you look across genders, there are actually just as many, if not more, patients with some other types of cancers that receive nowhere near the same funding. Now, we can debate the merits of spending money so intensely on breast cancer research, but what can't be debated is the survival benefits that have been seen over the last ten years. Women with breast cancer are seeing a truly remarkable increase in remission and overall life expectancy.

It is no small feat. Breast cancer is not particularly easier to treat than other types of cancers. But a solid, dedicated patient advocacy has made this disease nearly chronic in nature. And that is pretty amazing.

On another note, this type of thing annoys me. Why? Because the title link in Yahoo- Researchers discover diabetes gene- could be so misleading. First of all, it's unlikely that there is one diabetes gene. Secondly, you read on to the first sentence of the actual article and you get:
"Researchers at Wake Forest University have discovered a gene that could cause up to 20 percent of Type II diabetes"

I don't know why things like that annoy me so. Perhaps it's because it's demeaning and undermines how complex all of this work really is. Truly understanding how diabetes works and how to treat it are mammoth challenges. I am suddenly reminded of a rage episode of mine after seeing the first 30 minutes of Medicine Man featuring Sean Connery making a complete and utter mockery of Natural Products Chemistry.

Monday, October 25, 2004

to the extent that it's absurd

I had one of those Fridays where you desperately scramble to get from one place to another- work, dinner, the theater, home... a marathon that can't be won or finished. But I can't complain really, because the show I saw was fantastic. The concept was inventive, the production was beautiful, and they used Welcome to the Jungle and Come as you are to good use, no small feat. Speaking of Welcome to the Jungle, I don't know why exactly, but every once in a while when I'm in a meeting with a new hire, I just have this urge to get all Axl and screech: "You know where you are? You're in the jungle baby!" Yes, I am immature. And yes, I also am tempted to interrupt arguments at meeting with "What would Jesus do?" Of course, these types of things work much better in sitcoms than in real life.

On Saturday, I did what I dread most in the world. I went shopping. I swear I have two X chromosomes, but somehow the genetic coding that gives women the shopping bug was left out of my make up. Every once in a while, the retail therapy gene will kick in, but Saturday was not one of those days. It was a bit of a rainy day on Saturday, so apparently everyone thought that it was a good time to be shopping. Also, I am very particular, and am not someone who feels it necessary to walk out of a shopping experience with an item in hand. The most comical fight I ever had was with a friend of mine, who had a meltdown in the middle of Banana Republic because we had been shopping all day and I had managed not to buy a single thing. I came home empty-handed on Saturday, but also vexed. Not vexed because I was empty-handed, but because of the spectacles presented everywhere I went. The most notable of these was a woman in a bikini in front of a MAC counter being painted from head to toe with glitter, while a mob of people watched in fascination. What the...????

When I think back on Saturday and what I enjoyed about it, it was restricted to the weather. I should have spent the whole day wandering around in the rain, which was but a drizzle for most of the day. In my raincoat, without an umbrella, I was happy walking around the city, letting the cool mist fall on my face.

On NPR this morning, Jim Hightower tore the pollsters a new one:
Everywhere I travel, I hear the cries of anxious progressives who fear that George W is about to be elected. "The polls, the polls," they wail, pointing to constant reports that the election is nip & tuck.

Let me say it plainly to you: The polls are horsehockey. And George W. Bush is a one-term president, just like his daddy was. Here's why:

First, the sad little secret of pollsters is that roughly a third of the people in their "scientific sample of voters" hang up when called. This wreaks havoc on the validity of their sample. Second, noted independent pollster John Zogby says flatly that this year's polling has largely been skewed to Bush because more Republicans than Democrats are being called.

Third, pollsters are working from lists of "likely voters" – Americans who've been voting regularly in past elections. This leaves out the one-half of the electorate that has not been voting in recent presidential runs. This time – surprise, George! – a significant percentage of these "unlikely voters" are going to show up at their polling booths. They're motivated by Bush's failed economic policies, the ongoing mess he has made of Iraq, and a growing sense that America is headed in the wrong direction.

Fourth – and this will be a big source of George's November surprise – young people are headed to the polls in droves. Registration of 18-29 year olds is through the roof this year, mostly motivated by the war, the expectation of a draft being imposed after the election, and by the disappearance of middle-class opportunities for their generation.

Why isn't this surge in the youth vote reflected in the polls? Because young folks mostly don't have home telephones. They use cell phones, and pollsters don't have these numbers, so practically none of them have recieved a call from pollsters.

I know I'm going out on a limb here, but I think Kerry is going to win, and win big – despite what the polls keep telling us.

I hope he's right. It doesn't fail to crack me up though, when I listen to Hightower, because he has such a southern twang, that it's all the more endearing to hear progressive talk coming out of his mouth (no offense to the South).

Friday, October 22, 2004

and the music's seeping through

Not surprising by the title of the post today, I've been on a Paul Simon kick lately. How could one man write something as melancholy as Bookends and something as upbeat as Me & Julio down by the schoolyard? Okay, so the latter is a bit nonsensical, as Simon himself has admitted, but this is in earnest, and still jubilant:
And down along the avenue
Some guys were shooting pool
And I heard the sound of acapella groups, yeah,
singing late in the evening,
when the music's seeping through

I particularly like that because it reminds me so much of warm nights in Manhattan. Not that there are barbershop quartets on every corner, but the feeling is the same. A particular favorite pasttime of mine was going to Lincoln Center during MidSummer Night's Swing. Live bands playing fantastic music, and a large mass of dancers spilling off the dance floor with such fierce density. And it was always warm. I would some times just sit on the steps, watching and listening to the spectacle unfold. It's also reminiscent of the closing scene of Living out Loud, one of my favorite chick movies of all time.

Just to keep with the rampant musical theme before I start being introspective, I feel the need to mention that Peter Gabriel has covered the Magnetic Fields' Book of Love for the soundtrack of Shall we dance?... or as I like to call it, Shall we dance, the bad version. There are reasons the Japanese original worked well, and the biggest reason is the Japanese business culture, a culture vastly different to ours. The movie fits in Japan, and definitely does not fit in the US. I wouldn't be as harsh on Gabriel. At least he recognizes the genius of Magnetic Fields. But there's no reason to cover this song. I have a real problem with covers for the sake of covers. If an artist doesn't improve on the original, or stamp it with something unique, I can't see the point. Gabriel's version is grittier and perhaps a bit more brooding, but it's not different enough to choose it over the original.

I feel I am being tested somehow. Today I was promoted. While this gives me some satisfaction, it does not give me enough satisfaction to reconsider my current plans, which involve dropping out of the working week to pursue further studies. This cannot be all. There must be more. I am hopeless in this sense, and some times I cannot help feeling like a malcontent.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

tap into the water, try to bring my share

I have a tendency to lump MacLachlan's music in the ovary genre, but I have to give her credit for this (click on video for World on Fire). Impressive, truly. Maybe we should make her an honorary Indian ;) .

Read an LA times scathing editorial on George W. Bush, and the words that stood out most in my mind were mental laziness. I am sure it is a phrase that has been used before, but my, is it apt.

Heard about the news in Missouri about the plane crash, while I was listening to these words:
I watch the heavens but I find no calling
Something I can do to change what's coming
Stay close to me while the sky is falling
Don't wanna be left alone

If I am guilty of one flaw magnified more than others, it is my tendency to demand meaning in everything. I can turn something over and over in my mind until I develop a migraine. Some times, I yearn to be able to do something just because. I want to take the path of least resistance for a change, but I somehow never can make it happen. Even during times in my life where it has seemed that I was going along that path, the tried and true path, the safe path, something just will not let me be. It demands more. More than I can handle.

If I am perfectly honest though, I am okay with that. Losing that feeling would be truly a loss of youth and passion. I am reminded of Bellow's Henderson the Rain King, who Adam Duritz shamelessly ripped right off with the following:
I belong anywhere but in between

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Still I think I'm a lucky girl

Still I think I'm a lucky girl

A photograph of a watercolor based on... a photograph. When you come home to find this waiting for you, you realize that you're an ungrateful wretch. From the east coast, I am sent a beautiful reminder of friendship.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

buckets of rain

It's the perfect kind of day for Bob Dylan... I got all these buckets comin' out of my ears. Yes, indeed. The first appreciable rainfall of the season is upon us, and it is wonderful. But I do have one question... just what is the purpose of umbrellas anyway? This is a serious question. Up until about three years ago, I refused to carry an umbrella. Then I sold out to the man and had to acknowledge the fact that recently drowned rat is maybe not the most professional look in the world. Still, I hold that umbrellas are more trouble than they're worth. I suppose if you have perfectly coiffed hair, an umbrella might come in handy. Might being the operative word- most of the time around here, when it rains, there is a mischevous gust that comes with the droplets, and wind usually wins in a battle with the umbrella. Besides protecting one's hair and face, an umbrella does very little. On the other hand, in New York, one must use an umbrella. Why? Self-defense. No, no, I'm not talking about crime. It seems everyone uses an umbrella in New York. On an already crowded sidewalk, the presence of umbrellas that are clutched so that they are close to the head, is dangerous for the innocent bystander. I've taken it near the eye on more than one occasion when I was silly enough not to have my own umbrella. In New York, an umbrella is like a forcefield that you use to plow your way through the masses.

As for me, I am prone to childish behavior around the rain. I was one of those kids who delighted in puddle jumping. Even now, when it's raining like it is today, I have this inclination to jump into puddles rather than stepping around them. Instead of huddling close to my umbrella as if to cower away from the rain, I am drawn to the idea of tossing the umbrella aside and just meeting the onslaught head on. The rain can make me pensive when I am watching it from indoors, but when I am out in a rainstorm, I can't see the point in resisting.

Why did Bob Dylan have to go and lose his mind? Artists have an interesting trajectory in that sense. It reminds me a little of the commonly held notion that mathematicians reach their pinnacle before the age of 30. It also reminds me of an essay I read once by Nick Hornby; he theorizes that happiness is the ruination of some artists. You can read it better than I could explain it here. Only Hornby could get away with this:
It sounds harsh, I know, but if you are currently romantically involved with someone with a real talent — especially a talent for songwriting — then do us all a favour and dump them. There might be a Heartbreaker — or a Blood On The Tracks or a Layla — in it for all of us. Thanks.

I was going to list off a number of bad songs about the rain, but I decided to have a positive attitude instead and name some of my favorites:
  • Buckets of Rain- Dylan
  • A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall- Dylan
  • Singin' in the Rain- Gene Kelly- silly, but fun... however, I sadly have not been able to listen to this song lately without getting a visual of Austin Powers tapping his way through puddles.
  • Just a little rain- Malvina Washington- this is a truly underrated song, and was once performed beautifully by Lili Taylor in DogFight, a truly underrated movie.
  • Pennies from heaven- Billie Holiday (YMMV wrt artist)
  • Purple rain- Prince... yes, I did admit that.
  • Raindrops keep falling on my head- featured in two great movies, including Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid (which has one of the all-time greatest endings).
  • Red Rain- Peter Gabriel
  • Why does it always rain on me- Travis- if you buy the single to this song, you get the added benefit of an inspired cover of Hit me, baby, one more time.
  • Shadows in the Rain- Sting- back when I liked Sting: "Woke up in my clothes again this morning, don't know exactly where I am, I should heed my doctor's warning, he does the best with me he can"
  • Here comes the rain again- The Eurythmics
  • Rain Shower- Olu Dara... luscious... has to be heard to be believed.

I could probably go on all day. If the rain ceases to amuse me tomorrow, I will make a list of songs that blaspheme the rain.

And I just have to add a good old hearty screw you to the Boston Red Sox. I refuse to be sucked into your web of terror.

Monday, October 18, 2004

the whistle knows my name

I've got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell:

I've made movies I haven't even seen. I've done some that are straight to video, which is what most actors fear. I've also made movies that haven't even gone straight to video. They've gone straight to oblivion.
-- Christopher Walken in the San Francisco Chronicle

While I write this, I'm also involved in a crazy IM with my cousin, who is all of 21. I'm basically writing responses like and then? while she writes me paragraphs of soap operatic senior year/ first serious break-up angst. There is an appreciable age difference between us, so I read these accounts of hers with an odd mixture of acute and distant sympathy. I am so happy to not be her age anymore, and yet I remember those times with a bit of nostalgia. I miss that feeling of urgency, which for some reason this morning reminds me of:
so much depends

a red wheel

glazed with rain

beside the white

Some people make resolutions at the start of the New Year. I like to make resolutions by birthdays. Of course, this causes birthdays to be an even more reflective time than usual. But this year, I will just be contemplating how life can be like the ocean, resting on plates one may not see. One shift here, one shift there, and California falls into the sea. Life is so delicate that way, and is at its best that way. The very thing that makes life so heartbreaking- the impermanence of it, that is- is the very same thing that makes life worth living.

The perfect complement to my mood of late has been The Magnetic Fields- their songs have the exact same quality of being a paradox... heartbreaking and hilarious at once.

Friday, October 15, 2004

DC sleeps alone tonight


I WILL clean my apartment this weekend. The down side to traveling in these intermittent but seemingly interminable cycles is that my life occasionally feels in disarray. I woke up this morning to the feeling that my suitcase had vomited in my bedroom. Perhaps that wasn't a lovely visual, but that's how it felt. And after almost a year of this, why is it that I still live out of my suitcase for the week after I return from a trip?

I've agreed to meet up with some folks from work for drinks tonight, something I've vigilantly avoided in the past. At my previous workplace in the burbs, my friend circle revolved around my place of employment. Even though I felt that was unhealthy, I am not sure how easy it is to avoid that pattern when living outside a city. And I have managed to develop quite a reputation for being antisocial at work, as a result. So I'm trying to find a middle ground.

You may not be able to see it, but just past the reflecting pool is the newly opened WWII memorial. This picture was taken in June on a sweltering, humid morning. I visited again last week, and it was just the right weather. The memorial was open, and I'm conflicted as to how I feel about it. On the one hand, it's beautiful; there's something majestic about the memorial that sets it apart from the rest of them. On the other hand, that may be my exact issue with it. It almost seemed to peaceful and serene. I suppose it's a commonly held notion that WWII was perhaps the noblest war the US has fought. But a) it makes it seem like we were the only ones responsible for winning it, and b) it was still a war, and in some ways more brutal than the ones that followed it. I think of this memorial in comparison with the Korean War memorial, and something irks me. I just can't put my finger on it exactly.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

routine was the theme

Here's a sign that I might be living in my own personal Office Space hell. Two weeks ago, our group was recognized as being overworked(and it only took four people quitting, and several people declining job offers to recognize it, the brainiacs), which triggered an e-mail from the big man in charge (which is just how I like to refer to the man). Now, let's call him BMIC, BMIC sends out an e-mail saying he wants to fix this phenomenon of everyone being spread too thin. Sounds promising, doesn't it? Ah, but remember, I work for the man, so you know there has to be more to it. And there is. His e-mail goes on to say that he's hired some consultants to figure out how much work we are doing on an average week, how we are spending our time, where we can find efficiencies, etc. As if this wasn't reminiscent of the Bobs in and of itself, these damned consultants aren't really even figuring this out on their own. They've asked us to keep time logs of our day to document how we spend our time in 15 minute increments. My feelings on this are as follows: if I'm not a lawyer with billable hours, I'm not keeping a time log as a salaried employee anywhere. I know I shouldn't let nonsense like this get to me, but I am a mere mortal after all. And right now, I am what Jimmy Walker used to talk about. And to further quote my good buddy Jules, it's shit like this that's brought this situation to a head. If anyone asks me why I'm applying to go back to school after working for several years, I think this story should suffice as an explanation. Even though it's not ultimately the reason I want to go back to school, it's certainly helping to cement my decision.

On the other hand, the sun rise this morning completely justified the drive to work. The blaze left trails of pink in its path, but more breathtaking was a wall of fog that met me at my exit. The fog was certain to burn off in an hour or so, but it spread before me as if it were a cloud, giving the impression that I was driving straight into nothingness. Maybe if I lived in the wrong part of town, I would hate the fog, but for now, I continue to find it magical.

Speaking of magical, this is by far my favorite song from The Tipping Point: Star

Oh, and true to form, the Red Sox are sucking the big one.

summer's beginning to give up her fight

Why the debates give me migraines: let's set aside the fact that some of the expressions on George W.'s face are enough to put me on edge. I absolutely despise the fact that every morning after these debates, I have to tune into NPR to find out how much of the candidates' number spouting and accusations are accurate. Don't misunderstand, I like NPR just fine, I listen to it every morning. But I can't stand that a) I can't trust these candidates to give me a straight, fact-based answer on very much of anything and b)instead of listening to unbiased journalists talk about the debates afterwards, I have to sift through the screaming banshees of FoxNews, and the spin brigade for both Kerry and Bush. I know this is going to make me sound like an old curmudgeon, but I do remember a time when I could listen to these debates, and really understand where the candidates came out on different issues. Now it's about who sighed more than the other, who came up with a better soundbyte, and who looked more presidential. Color me depressed.

On the other hand, this cracked me right up.

It's been unseasonably warm here, which reminds me of the best summer days I spent on the east coast. Those days when the humidity is just right, so that the night air envelopes you like a comfortable blanket from your childhood. I strangely can't remember why exactly, but I seem to equate such evenings with momentous discoveries. Nights like that shared secrets. I wonder if they still will.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

God save the King of New Orleans

New Orleans

Just fooling around here, to see if I know what I'm doing. Truth be told, I'm not particularly tech savvy (which probably doesn't come as much of a surprise, looking around this cavernous blog with very little pizzazz). What's that Roethke line? I learn by going where I have to go. Yes, that's probably apt for me. I really do meander, and I probably rely too much on the subconscious.

Is this a bad thing? I'm not sure. When I was much much younger, I used to lay out plans for years in advance, meticulously plotting my every move. But you learn that there is so much that you can't control. And so, the old adage, for all the best laid plans... you know how it goes.

The photo is my favorite from my trip to New Orleans several months ago, mostly because it just seemed so commonplace a sight there. I liked this idea of something that looks proper, except for some pesky detail that just won't cooperate.

Speaking of things that won't cooperate, I'm so glad I didn't watch the Red Sox play last night. I figure as long as I don't cheer on any other baseball teams, I'm not technically being disloyal to my beloved/despised Red Sox.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

I'll start this off without any words

Yeah, right... that would truly defeat the purpose of all of this!

Okay, I deleted a bunch of things and I'm changing the slant of blogging for me significantly.

Previously, blogging was simply an online diary, a place to vent frustrations. With all of our technological advances, you would think that blogging would be voyeuristic, and I'm sure it can be. But I guess my point is that you have to take the first step. If you keep an anonymous little journal, which is something like what I have been doing previously, then you'll pretty much be left alone. That's not to say I won't be left to my own devices here either. It's just that here... well, I'm putting it all out there here. And clearly, not writing all that well in the process!

If nonsense is your poison, blogging about frustration can still be found here, but I doubt it will make all that much sense to anyone but me. Call that the rants and raving section, perhaps.

Funniest conversation I had today: over IM, with a friend of mine who's living in Germany. Both of us are former Boston area natives. One sign of a true Bostonian is the preponderance of sentences that contain the phrase "this is their year"... as in the Boston Red Sox. I've long since kicked that habit. The IM got out of hand when I compared the Red Sox to an abusive boyfriend. They screw you over and you just keep coming back for more. You think this time it will be different. They string you along, you invest your heart into their success, and then, at the last minute, they freak out and revert to their old ways. His response? Yeah, but you might have to give them a second chance... they've lost a lot of weight and have been working out... they look hot. It always strikes me that it must be incredibly annoying to live in the Boston area if you're not a fan of baseball... or the Red Sox for that matter.

This morning, when I was driving to work, still on east coast time (which works out well when you're swamped, as it turns out), it was that hour when the sky gets to that color of blue between midnight and sky. And as I drove down 23rd, I saw the faintest sliver of the moon, the slightest crescent I've ever seen. A plane flew up in the sky across the sky at that moment. It was inexplicably beautiful. I see something like that, and feel frustrated at the inability to capture such a moment, with words, on film, in any way. But then I calm to the thought that it's etched in my memory. Even this hour, this early morning hour brings with it a familiarity that is associated entirely to my memory. Anyway, the whole moment brought to mind:

And the moon was so beautiful
that the ocean held up a mirror

p.s. the weirdo tag lines on haloscan are not my doing!