Tuesday, November 30, 2004

I'm between the poles and the equator

Two posts in one day, that is a record for me. It's funny that, right after celebrating my lack of connectivity for the last week, I've been overindulging in AIM and blogging today. My cousins keep sending me essays to edit for various applications to various high schools/colleges/graduate schools. I'm thinking about turning it into a fee-for-service situation. My cousin S agreed with this as a viable business plan, but pointed out "of course, you can't charge family though." Gee, thanks, there goes my whole target group, since no one else would be insane enough to ask me to help them with writing.

And yet in some ways, this complaining about technology one minute and swimming in it the next reflects a typical problem of mine, of being too much in the middle, of always seeming a walking contradiction. I'm a cynical dreamer, a hopeful pessimist. And I really mean both. I really am that jaded, and I really am that romantic as well. I crave adventure, and yet recoil from it just as much. I don't mind, as long as I continue to force myself to oscillate. I know I could be a drug addict or a complete pollyanna, but I aspire to neither such extreme. I don't mind these brushes with danger and temptation if they are equally accompanied by quiet nights spent musing over the whole of the moon. As long as I remain removed from complacence, I can continue to breathe. Maybe some people are just meant to remain restless, meant to stay nomadic. But what of someone like me, who could never be satisfied wandering or rooted?

At times like this, when I start thinking along these lines, I pause and take a sip of tea. I breathe, and think, I'll hike Machu Pichu, and start to plan out the steps required to accomplish this minor goal of mine. Because here is a single-serving (TM Fight Club) ambition. It's bite-sized and tangible. Abhi much more eloquently captured this problem I seem to always struggle with... I'm paralyzed by the idea of insignificance, and yet simultaneously feel this urgency that I must make something happen today, now. And then, like Don Music on Sesame Street, I feel the urge to bang my head against a piano, yelping "I'll never get it, never!"

Ready, Steady, Go

...I did nothing. I did absolutely nothing and it was everything that I thought it could be.
Okay, that is not a completely accurate description of the time I've spent away from blogging, but it is accurate in relation to anything tech-related. The most techy thing I did during my absence was listening to my beloved iPod mini on the airplane. No e-mail, no internet, no instant messaging, no text messaging. And it was all I hoped it would be.

Here's how my little vacation started:
On my trip to the capitol of the red state to beat all red states, my flight was delayed. This meant my connection at IAH was going to be tight. In fact, the check-in assistant looked for seats on other airlines before I boarded because they were so convinced I would miss my connection. Since all the other airlines were booked solid, the check-in assistant gave me a smile, a shrug, and cheerfully said, "well, maybe you'll make it." I shook my head, walked away dejected, and spent the next two hours reading Founding Brothers, which is actually pretty fascinating.

So my flight landed in IAH at 9:00 pm, and my connection was scheduled to leave at 9:10. A number of passengers had similarly tight connections. The moment the little bing went off, the lot of us sprung into action, jumping out of our seats, tapping our toes anxiously for the flight attendants to open the door. Since IAH is a rather expansive airport, I headed straight for the gate attendant, who was inundated with harried passengers demanding to know their connection. He asked me where I was headed, and when I told him, he asked my name. My stomach sank. Then he told me where my gate was, and that the flight had not yet taken off. My stomach jumped. Then I realized how far the gate was, and a sudden surge of adrenaline pulsed through my veins.

Cue techno music and my best Run Lola Run impression, my legs carrying me faster than my cardiopulmonary fitness should allow. I am singular in my purpose, and the airport people-watchers have melted away from my thoughts. And just as I approach the gate, the completely empty gate, an attendant comes out and watches me barreling forward. He yells "Are you on this flight?" And I nod, because I can't breathe anymore. He says "Well, stop running! We're gonna wait for you." And I stop, my lungs having their way with me, my legs turning to rubber, but all I can think about is loving that gate attendant. The holiday spirit causes me to give people a ridiculous amount of credit for being decent, but that's what I happen to like about the effect of the holidays on me, so screw it.

Onto the flight, the last passenger on, everyone aware that I've been running, since my breathing is still shallow, and let's just say I'm glowing from my sprint, I take my seat. I think to myself, I've made it. Just then a flight attendant's voice comes on the speaker, and chirps "Those of you in the front of the plane may have noticed that there are no pilots in the cockpit. We're working on locating them, and think we should be off the ground in the next 30-45 minutes." And my lungs have a good laugh at me.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

he's just a plaything, we want to make him stay up all night

Domo arigato

So, this is that freaky toy I mentioned yesterday. Even though you can't see the solar-powered head bob, perhaps you can appreciate the wackiness of this toy- is it a man? A child? Is it fishing? Is it meditating? Why is it smiling? It's a mystery! Also, all the instructions are in Japanese, so I can't decipher the full breadth of its capabilities.

Treasure hunting is a fun pasttime. I like finding out of the way places. On a minor level, this included finding a Trader Joe's just outside the city that was not overrun. Last night I thought to make a quick trip out to that TJ's, when I was shocked to find that it had disappeared. In its place was a cheerful "we've moved!" sign. It turns out the new Trader Joe's was only around the corner from the old one. I went, expecting the usual stress-free shopping experience. I was sorely mistaken. As if the word had suddenly hit the street, this new TJ's was completely inundated by shoppers, and aggressive ones at that. Much chagrined, I quickly collected my shopping items and high tailed it to the check out.

At this particular TJ's, the hard liquor is situated after the cash registers. I do not understand the logic of this. Will you grab a bottle on your way out and turn around to pay? I don't know. But, as I was waiting in line, I started eyeing a bottle of Belvedere. MMMmmm... I thought... maybe... should I? I continued to stare at the bottle, pondering the purchase. Then I noticed the checkout cashier glancing at me pitifully, like I was a first-class alcoholic. At moments like that, I wonder why the Hunter S. Thompson in me doesn't kick into high gear, and I never come up with something truly shocking like telling the cashier, "Yeah, and could you put a case of the cheapest vodka you have on my bill as well? Thanks!" Instead, I just scurry off embarassed.

Incidentally, Trader Joe's Szechuan soy noodles in garlic broth will cure what ails you. My sinuses and throat felt like a million bucks after a nice bowl of that.

I'm dropping a colleague to the airport this afternoon, as she's off to LA. I wish I was going to Southern California for Thanksgiving- not because I particularly love So Cal, but because I have no love for the red state where I will be spending my holidays. Oh well... there's always Machu Pichu to look forward to...

Monday, November 22, 2004

we may stay together, but if we part, I'm sure we'll meet again

Yesterday, I spent the afternoon hiking at a place I fondly refer to as the Cliffs of Insanity. I felt recharged by the experience, until I got home and promptly crashed asleep.

Though I could try not to be shallow, I will succumb and admit that it was difficult to be completely moved by the message of Motorcycle Diaries because Gael Garcia Bernal is so ridiculously good-looking (I've been quoting Zoolander with unhealthy frequency lately). And so is Machu Pichu, for that matter. When I got back from the film, I promptly called my most adventurous friend, and told him we were going to Machu Pichu. He humored me and said he would go. He will live to regret that quick appeasement, as I plan to hold him to this exchange some time next year.

I do think that the film was not so apt at depicting its main premise, that of the way that lives can run in parallel for a time. And I do so love that premise, because it's the story of some of my closest friendships. Such transient friends are some times lamented, but it's not really their fault. A movie that depicts such a friendship perfectly is Il Postino incidentally. That movie makes me swoon. I am a complete and utter sucker for Neruda. Motorcycle Diaries was still a great movie, but I just left very curious about the relationship between Granado and Guevara, still wondering after their different motivations and how their paths wound up diverging so dramatically. Maybe I'm just not so great at picking up subtlety though.

This weekend, I made Arnold Palmer's. I don't know why they are called Arnold Palmer's. Apparently, on the east coast, they are referred to as Half-and-Half's, which just brings to my mind something for your coffee. Anyway, if you prepare a fresh lemonade base, you use a nicely flavored tea (something in the black tea family but with a little flavor to take the edge off- I used a blackberry tea), you dilute it just right, et voila, a fine Arnold Palmer. I test them on my brother to assay my results, as he is extremely finicky, and hates drinks that are too sweet. He gave it his seal of approval, and subsequently drank half of the pitcher. But at the end of it all, I thought it would have really livened things up if I had used this recipe instead.

My friend P went on a trip to Kyoto, and brought me back a present. It is this strange little fisherman figure (I assume he is a fisherman, but that might be a twig in his hand rather than a fishing rod, I'm really not sure), that is solar-powered, and nods its head in peaceful bliss and approval when the right amount of sunlight is showered upon it. I have to admit that I can be quite transfixed by the thing. I would post a picture of it, but it would not capture the nodding, which is really the whole point of the toy, I suppose.

Friday, November 19, 2004

four-postered dull torpor pulling downward

Everyone around me seems extremely unmotivated today. It is not the usual Friday afternoon "I'm so out of here" haze, but rather the "I don't think I'm going to make it all the way through this week" defeated fog. It's particularly unfortunate to feel this way when the sun is shining, and everything outside is vibrant in color and ambiance. You feel like you clash with your surroundings, a foreigner.

I don't have a good reaction to the pressure of putting on a happy face. This must in some way relate to my upbringing, because, in the Indian friend circle of my parents, everyone would have to behave syrupy sweet, while subversively stabbing daggers into each other. And no one could ever say something was going badly. That is how, eventually, my parents' friends all embraced the idea of interracial or interfaith marriages. If their children did that, they couldn't bemoan it to their friends as something embarassing, because how would that look? So, instead, even if they didn't really believe it, they would put on the show, and would suddenly become advocates for love and tolerance. It cracked me up that, eventually, my aunties could be heard saying things like "Well, my Peter, you know, he is more Indian than my own daughter even. He asked me to teach him how to make samosas yesterday." The need to one-up each other eventually won out over the need to conform to society, as it turns out.

I realize that doesn't really illustrate my original point though, which is just that I can't understand why it's not allowed to be down some times. Especially if you have a legitimate reason to be upset. Must you snap out of it immediately and put on the grin? Isn't it okay to wallow a little? Is this what happens when so many people in the country are medicated? Or is all this ranting really just reflective of a need for me to be medicated?

Thursday, November 18, 2004

a little is really alright

Bad: A music station on my drive this morning that brags "the new music alternative" right before playing 3rd Eye Blind's How's it going to be?... wtf much?

Better: Subsequent change of music station yielded the new Wilco... as that dude from Crank Yankers would say, "Yay, yay, yay!"

Best: People who give seminars or presentations while holding a beverage. I don't know why, but you get so many extra cool points in my book for pulling this off. I had a chem professor in college who would lecture for two hours strong with a ceramic mug of black coffee in his hands. He was not quite as cool as I initially imagined, since he would also walk around while lecturing, inevitably spilling splashes of coffee on his khakis. Still, irrationally, I just like the look of giving a talk while having a cup of something in your hands- it gives this air of confidence and nonchalance that is nice. Of course, if I had it my way, for true amusement factor, I would have people drink martinis while giving a lecture. Now that's entertainment.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

it's a disease and they're all green

There is something really demoralizing about someone getting ripped a new one, even if he deserves it. And he did deserve it. It never fails to amaze me, this phenomenon of inept people somehow climbing their way to the top. Eventually, all the charisma and good press they've been coasting on dissolves away, and it's like the Emperor has no clothes. And then, it's like watching vultures circling a carcass. Not pretty.

On the one hand, perhaps he does not deserve my sympathy. He does not do a very good job and he takes credit without remorse for things he was not integral in accomplishing. But it's not entirely his fault. He was bred this way, within the corporate structure. It's the things that got him ahead, it's negative reinforcement. In the end, he's a sacrificial lamb, a symptom of a bigger problem. Writing about work is not interesting to me though, it's just what happens to be on my mind after the 5 o'clock mark.

My best friend from college e-mailed me today to update me all about his ongoings as a new father. It's amazing, but almost every new parent I have met exhibits the same tendencies: their writing turns mostly incoherent and focuses on the wonders of their new child. Fathers are particularly funny, because they seem convinced that they have been involved in some landmark breakthrough accomplishment that has not been previously witnessed. However, this line from his e-mail was kind of sweet, even to my cold, cold heart:
he often cracks a smile in his sleep, a sight so sweet it makes you shiver with joy

On a completely different tangent, yesterday I was trying to throw away old tapes. Of course, I could not do that without putting each one in the player. The last one I stuck in suddenly blared If you're all alone, when the pretty girls have gone, honey I'm still free, take a chance on me (the lyrics might not be completely accurate, as it's been awhile since I've heard this song). Gave me the giggles for a good five minutes.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

singing out loud when the sun came up

For some reason, I equate November with pumpkins. I'm sure most people would think of pumpkins in relation to Halloween, but count on me to procrastinate. Last week, I made pumpkin chocolate chip cookies, which were curious... I am not sure how I feel about intermingling spices with chocolate. Yesterday, I decided to go for something more traditional and made... no, not pumpkin pie... pumpkin pie is not very portable, and I don't much care for it myself, so what would I do with a big old pumpkin pie? No, I made pumpkin muffins. When I bake, I become very aware of my mother's undue influence when it comes to recipes; rather than following directions as a good chemist would, I am always tempted into the a little of this, a little of that mentality. She has sent me recipes for Indian dishes, and after almost every ingredient is the dreaded to taste as the specification for the amount.

Some drama unfolded with the muffins, because the recipe called for whole wheat flour. Strangely enough, I did have whole wheat flour on hand, but when I looked in the container where I keep the flour stored, I immediately started cursing and gnashing my teeth. Meal worms had infested my flour. The scientist in me was having trouble letting that go. Worms do not just spontaneously appear; they either were there from the start as microscopic larvae, or they somehow found their way into my bag of flour which was stored in an airtight container. I think the former was the case, because the wheat flour was organic (that was the sound of my eyes rolling). Anyway, a quick trip to the local market, and an hour later, pumpkin muffins. Not too bad. But now I am unreasonably paranoid about the possibility that these meal worms may have infiltrated my pantry and may one day appear in my sugar or baking powder.

Speaking of being unreasonably paranoid, I saw a commercial last week for VH1's Motormouth, and I was horrified. Is nothing sacred?? Anyone who commutes by car knows that at times, jamming out in your car to whatever happens to be on your radio or cd player is the only way to maintain your sanity. Just yesterday, Rock the Casbah kept me from unleashing a fury of "you wouldn't like me when I'm angry"-style road-rage. I was unabashed about this, but what if I am suddenly a victim of the reality tv craze?

Monday, November 15, 2004

and all the other girls too

In honor of the premature passing of one Russell Jones, I must recount just one example of the way my family finds ways to torture each other. I am sure it is some sort of dysfunction that my cousins and I spend so much of our time together poking fun at each other. But if you're going to pick a dysfunction, incessant teasing is not a bad one per se.

Two or three years ago, my brother and I started in on one of my cousins. At the time, he was a 33 year old doctor with a high-rise flat that he owned. We called him RTP for a while because his cell phone was permanently attached to his ear and he was always ready to party. But you can see that's not very catchy. So, inevitably, after one particular evening of watching my cousin scam on women ten years his junior, we started to call him Ol' Dirty. And that name has stuck like white on rice. Even when I call him now, I can't help starting the conversation with "Hey... dir-tay!" My brother has taken it one step further in cheese factor and says, "Hey, dir-tay, baby I got your rupees, don't you worry." I don't know. We're a bunch of idiots, what can I say?

Here's a perfect example of why I love this city of mine: I'm giving my old car to a high school honor roll student. She's been here for a year, having just moved from Brazil. Since she's moved here, her mother and father separated because her mother fell in love with her 11-year old brother's teacher... another woman I might add. And, yesterday, they all had brunch together to show the 11-year old boy that they're one happy family. You can't make stuff like this up.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

chilled us to the bone

I have been walking around all day today with a scarf on, indoors. And I am not ill. I think the rain has convinced me that I am cold. Or the feeling of a scarf around my neck brings me some kind of comfort. Last night, I slept with a scarf around my neck. There's a better explanation for that though, being that my apartment is the arctic. I've lived there for over two years, and about one and a half years ago, the radiator just kind of decided it didn't feel like working at full capacity. I called my fossil of a landlord (who, it should be noted, is sweet, despite being as old as time), who told me something about re-filling the radiator with water, which was double-speak for don't bother an old man with these types of stupid requests. I did what he told me, but the radiator, she remains unwilling to cooperate. And I, in my utter procrastination and laziness, have just learned to deal with it.

So, this morning, as I was pulling my scarf up to my nose to keep warm, I was listening to NPR cover Fallujah, and I am just so disheartened. I don't know how people even entertain the notion of bringing babies into such a disturbing world. That's all I can really write about it. Other people are writing about it with more precision, and more feeling. I just feel nothing but despair, and a feeling that there is an inevitable cost that we still do not realize for all of this.

So, my thoughts drift to my family. My family celebrates three holidays with massive fanfare. The first is Rakshabandan- when we were children, we translated this holiday to be "in which the brother gets the sweets and the sisters gets the cash." The second is Diwali, which is basically just an excuse for our massive extended family to congregate, cook excessive amounts of food, and play cards until 3 in the morning while heckling each other good-naturedly. The third is Christmas. I have no idea how Christmas wound up being the paramount of all holidays in my 90% Hindu family. If anything, I think that, as children, we may have created a version of Christmas for ourselves. But something in me swells to recall my dad or some other cousin's dad getting dolled up in a Santa suit when they had only been in America for a decade at most, saying "Merry Christmas" with a cheerful accent. Even now, when my masi tries to burst into a rousing version of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, well, it's enough to make the most straight-faced person dissolve into giggles. One of my cousins tries to goad her into it every year, which I find a little wicked, even if I do enjoy the end result.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

cleaning out my closet

Reasons I will one day be kicked out of California:
  • My disdain for all things avocado. Something about the texture of avocado just doesn't do it for me.
  • My stance against mixing fruits with foods that are not sweet. I am four square against it. But people insist on putting papaya or apples in a perfectly good salad. I know I am committing some kind of massive California blasphemy but there it is. By the way, this applies to chicken-apple sausage as well... I do not approve.
  • The word organic makes my eyes roll into the backs of my sockets. Most of the time, organic = expensive. And expensive = overpriced.
  • My inability to cheer on most California sports teams. LA Lakers- that would just be wrong. If you ever have cheered for the Celtics in your life, you are officially banned from cheering for the Lakers ever. 49ers- longstanding disgust, even (no, especially) in the Montana years. Raiders- I try to like you, but then you whine and you don't deliver, and going to see one of your games at home means risking life and limb more often than not thanks to your maniacal fans (I'll still pick you over the 49ers any day of the week though). Giants- sorry, I just can't get into it, especially not with the last two years the Red Sox have had.
  • My dependence on Seinfeld references for communication. Somehow, the show doesn't seem to resonate as much on the west coast.

Now that I've purged that from my system, let me also add that I love California dearly. I'm as true of a blue state advocate as you can get, apparently, because I can honestly say that I have loved living on both the east (North of the Mason-Dixon, mind you) and west coasts.

In honor of Diwali, I must bow down to the myth of Ganpati, and how he got his tremendous elephant head. You have to love Hindu myths; they're on par with the Greeks for gore and malice in some ways. My mother loved telling the story of Ganpati to me when I was a child; in retrospect, I have no idea what wisdom she thought she was imparting upon me. Well, actually, I do, but it's twisted, and I'll share it in a second.

Ganesha, the child of Parvati (from some kind of immaculate conception, by the way), was instructed to guard his mother's door while she bathed. The God Shiva, Parvati's husband, returned home having never met this child, and was infuriated when the kid wouldn't let Shiva into the house. Hey, people, he's not called the God of Destruction for nothing- so he chopped off Ganesha's head in a fit of fury.

Parvati returns from her bath, finds the Sopranos-esque situation at her doorstep and gives Shiva a good dose of grief. Shiva barks at his henchmen and tells them to bring him the head of the first living creature they come upon, and of course, it's an elephant. So, the elephant winds up sleeping with the fishes, and Ganesha is brought back to life, albeit with the slight matter of having a trunk for a nose, and massive ears. You know, no biggie.

I'm not telling the story very accurately, but then again, neither did my mother when she recounted the tale to me when I was young. Many of the Hindu myths I have in my head were passed down orally from my grandmother to my mother to me. I've since gone back and read actual books on it, and seen how many liberties they have taken as they've passed the story down. At any rate, when I was going through a mouthy phase with my mom (which was, maybe, 5 years old- present day), I asked her why she was telling me such an awful story. I mean, this kid did what his mother told him, and got his head chopped off by his dad for it. What's the moral?

"See how much he loved his mother?" she would say, shaking a finger at me.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

once upon a time I could control myself

Interesting... the latest Jet single that's playing on the radio here is Look what you've done. Though I have tired of the incessant Are you gonna be my girl? riffs playing on the radio, on iPod commercials, and various other places, this latest single has caught my fancy momentarily. I can tell I will tire of it, but that is, after all, the beauty of Britpop. And yes, I know they're from Australia, but they are certainly imitating the glory days of Britpop. In fact, Look what you've done has a definite Beatles quality to it. Usually, that gives me bad flashbacks of Noel & Liam snarling at each other while crooning something as unintelligible as Wonderwall, but in this case, it doesn't cause me to roll my eyes.

I have this bad habit of interrupting people at work in the middle of a thought. I'm trying to stop myself from that, but it's a challenge. When my friends and I talk, the outside listener might think we are speaking in tongues. We interrupt each other and launch onto a whole different tangent before getting back to the original point, while throwing in a few sidebars for good measure. Unfortunately, that sort of behavior is frowned upon at my soul-sucking job.

I've been trying not to think of my job as soul-sucking lately, but it's not working. I'm reminded of a particular favorite moment of mine in the film A Fish Called Wanda. Kevin Kline's character is forced to apologize to John Cleese's character. Though he dislikes him, he knows that Cleese's character has something he needs, so he knows he needs to be conciliatory. But he struggles with the apology, to say the least. So there is Kevin Kline saying "I'm so... I'm so... I'm so very ss... f*** you!!!" And that, you see, is how I feel about things related to work most of the time. Sure, I could sing the same tune as everyone else and reason that the work I do does benefit people. But something is so off key, and I just can't seem to grin and bear it. Which just makes me hope the following is true:
You can't always get what you want,
but if you try some time, you just might find,
you get what you need

Random thought... why does Bono skip to 14... I think the Count from Sesame Street needs to pay him a visit? Also, Alice Coltrane is one interesting woman... I'm jealous of you So Cal people. First Mos Def, now this, or more accurately, first this, then Mos Def. Anyway, you can listen to a sample of an interesting interpretation of Sita Ram by Alice Coltrane. That tune gives me flashbacks of my grandfather singing my cousin to sleep when she was a baby. But that's a story for another time.

Monday, November 08, 2004

the little plastic castle is a surprise every time

illusions of grandeur

When I went to Singapore, some time back now, I went to an aquarium. Normally, aquariums bore me. There is something so unfeeling about watching fish swim about in a glass cage. Last week, at work one day, we were asked how many pets we had owned as children and were told "fish don't count." The fish my family owned left an impression on me. Though my brother and I liked them well enough, the fish did not seem to like us. Or more accurately, did not seem to like their captivity. Once a week, my father would find one of them wriggling about on the carpet. These escape attempts happened so often that my father finally took pity on the fish and returned them to the store, asking the shopkeeper to set them free. I very much doubt that the shopkeeper actually followed my father's directions, but I always remember the feeling, at such a young age, of realizing that pets are not just playthings for one's personal amusement, but living beings.

Still, this fish was so breathtaking that it held me captive at the aquarium. This aquarium was striking, because, half way around the world, the fish are so strikingly different. This fish perfectly camoflauges with its surroundings, and looks, at first glance, like a plant growing on an ocean floor. I have always been intrigued by animals that possess this ability, shapeshifters and chameleons. I like the idea of blending into one's surroundings, of adaptability. It always tickles me pink when I am visiting a city and am stopped by another tourist for directions. It was not until I traveled half way around the world that I felt, for the first time, like a true tourist, like a fish out of water (cringe, couldn't help it). What is most interesting about the chameleon, the camoflauge artist, is that it changes superficially as an act of defense. This act of subterfuge changes nothing on the inside.

Friday, November 05, 2004

I started looking for excuses

Today at work, I had yet another strangely Office Space-like moment. A baby shower was thrown for a colleague and everyone was asked to pass the plates of cake down. I couldn't help it and burst into a Milton-esque but last time... and only a few others got it. I've decided that I'm going to reserve a conference room in the next month or two, hijack an LCD, and play the DVD for people here. Okay, not really, but it would be funny if I did.

Yesterday, I was driving home and somehow came upon a radio station playing a cover of Yaz's Only You by Enrique Iglesias in Spanish. By Enrique Iglesias, people. Subsequently, my brain exploded, and I stopped trying to see the logic in anything. Life's absurdities can be a comfort at times.

I've realized recently that there are actually some Alicia Keys tunes that I like. That surprised me, since I've always thought of her as a bit of a diva who is a little overblown. But I have to admit, I like all the note-belting happening in If I ain't got you, and I like the sultry Diary. Weird.

Also listening to Love & Marigolds from the Monsoon Wedding soundtrack. I had a ton of nits to pick regarding that film, but the score was not one of them. Somehow, this particular piece is apt to calm my mood on this afternoon. I am determined to have a serene weekend. As a friend so aptly pointed out, it's important to go enjoy the outdoors before our current administration pollutes the environment such that the air won't be fit to breathe without a filter. And that was a wee vitriolic, but I'm clearly making progress.
I miss the good part, then I realized,
I started looking and the bubble burst,
I started looking for excuses

Apt, no?

Thursday, November 04, 2004

pledge my grievance to the flag

Blogger feasted on the post I initially wrote. Which is probably for the best since it was mostly a raving mad rant regarding San Francisco's indictment of Gavin Newsom as the man responsible for Kerry's loss. I'm getting the hell out of dialogue regarding politics for a while, in order to keep my blood pressure at the low level I am usually so proud of maintaining.

Just to be controversial, Colbert is funnier than Stewart.

My brother and I talked yesterday and he gave me the dude, it really doesn't matter speech again about the election. Serenity now... hoochie mama... none of it works.

But, in the self-psycho-babble nonsense category, I think I need to delineate my angst regarding the election from my angst regarding getting into school (or, how I learned to lose my mind). It's really a strange thing, to be so frantic, and have so much of my ease of mind resting on something completely out of my control. I have to admit that I've lost the knack for that. Not that I loved the process when I was applying to college or grad school. But somehow, this time around, everything feels more urgent, and at the same time more uphill. Perhaps the benefit of youth is arrogance, and the pitfall of wisdom is an awareness that things don't always work out.

I find it strange, I guess, because I'm so comfortable with falling on my face in other areas of life. I have never minded the loss of control that comes with falling for someone. I have even learned to deal with friends who are flighty and unreliable, and have come to be pretty nonchalant about flaky behavior (which is a necessary trait to maintain sanity if you want to live where I do). I have never been shy about flopping either; I've never hesitated on a decision because I was so afraid it was a mistake.

And yet, here I am, most likely developing an ulcer because, ten years after graduating from college, I've lost my mind and decided that I want to do something. And even though I have a perfectly fine existence in terms of having a good job and friends and family, so much of my happiness seems to depend on this right now. I just want to live my life by the credo I always imagined:
Believe in love and love
Believe in death and die
Like work and work
- S. Fischerova

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

maybe I'm not crazy, just inconsolable

I'm not going to bend, I'm not going to break
I'm not going to worry about it anymore

I wish... really, sometimes it kills to care so much.

Yesterday, I was beckoned to a friend's place to watch the results come in. This was a big mistake for several reasons. First, my friend herself is so liberal and left-leaning that she couldn't even acknowledge the fact that things were not turning out the way the original exit polls had predicted. Secondly, she seemed so wound up about the results that she felt the need to incessantly switch channels, which is something I can't tolerate for very long. Thirdly, she invited another friend, who kept talking about how he was interested in the cultural divide in America and how he wants to be a catalyst for opening up the dialogue between the two sides of America. It's that last reason that was the deal breaker for me. Because, who does he think he is? And also, what dream world does he live in? I have to admit that, although I love my current residence in the liberal mecca of the country, it is filled with a lot of people who are out of touch with reality. Last night was no time for listening to that kind of thing, frankly.

So I went home, and tried to listen to Barack Obama's speech, since, in my mind, he is the one shining hope that came out of last night's outcomes. My friend wouldn't let me watch his acceptance speech, because, as she put it, "I don't care about the stupid Senate." See, I'm trying not to hate on my fellow Dem's, but they're making it really hard for me. Obama is some good news, and I know that good news may take years to really come into bloom, but it's a good sign.

There's a town in New Jersey called Edison (if you've lived on the east coast and are Indian, chances are you have heard of this place). The town is shaped like a donut, and the hole in the donut is another town called Metuchen. So, basically, Metuchen is surrounded by Edison, but is its own entity. It even has its own feel to it. Edison is your typical central New Jersey, apartment complex, real estate cookie-cutter development, strip mall shopping extravaganza. Metuchen has a quaint downtown, colonial houses, and even a few little, nicely groomed parks. They peacefully coexist, and neither begrudges the other. I'm starting to think we should maybe adopt this model for the country. I know that's really cynical, but cut me some slack, I'm disenchanted just now.

I won't be talking too much politics in the next couple of months. I'm visiting family in the South during the Thanksgiving, and I will simply hold my tongue. Some times, you can get people over to your side more by doing than by talking. For example, most of my family is pretty much always going to be against gay marriage until someone in our family comes out of the closet. I keep hoping one of my cousins will take one for the team in that regard, but so far, they're only displaying heterosexual tendencies. In all seriousness though, change happens gradually, and experientially. When I was really young, my parents and all of their friends insisted that their children would all marry Indians. And the first person in my parents' friend circle (by the way, is friend circle a more common term among Indians than the general population? It certainly seems so...) who did not marry an Indian caused an uproar of massive proportions. Now, over a decade later, my parents, and all of their friends have pretty much all come over to the "Well, what can you do?" camp, and hardly bat an eyelash when they hear about interracial couples. First-hand experience counts for more than rhetoric any day of the week.

On a lighter side, got this e-mail this morning:
Did you also hear on the news as I did, that the 18-24 yr old demographic segment didn’t turn out in any greater proportion than in prior elections? I guess they chose to die instead of vote. I also liked the P. Diddy interview on CNN where he kept insisting that he was disenfranchised but could respond convincingly as to why, and when pushed he said it was because the candidates don’t “come to his neighborhood” as he grew up in Harlem. Then they asked him if he was going to vote and he responded “yeah, I’m gonna go to the East Side right after this.”

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

the waiting is the hardest part

For the record, I absentee balloted last week, so my vote is in. I was watching TDS last night and nodded as Jon Stewart pleaded with his viewers to make his job hard. No kidding! Sadly, I doubt that Kerry will be fodder-free if elected.

Still, something a friend of mine mentioned today freaked me out even more about this election. I don't know why it didn't occur to me before. If Bush wins, he can pretty much do things his way, whole hog, no apologies. It would be his last term. Cheney has heart problems, so it's unlikely he'd be gunning for presidency in 2008. He wouldn't have to be moderate anymore, because he no longer would need to appeal to the lowest common denominator. It scares me, quite frankly. And I know that's my liberal lefty side screaming out, but still. I think there's something to be said for that. We need a cautious president. Caution abated the cuban missile crisis. That's a good thing.

And yesterday's post about the 18-29 demographic was mostly just ranting because so much really hinges on their vote. We have no Ross Perot. We have a bad economy, but not a deplorable one. We need the youth vote. I am closer to 29 than 18, but I think the whole demographic has a lot riding on this election, more than they think. It's too late to rant on the topic though, so I will just wait and see what unfolds.

I need some good news, frankly. I've had a bad run of it the last few days, and I know that the presidency is not something I should take so personally, but it really will make me feel even more disenchanted with life this week.

Why do I take politics so seriously, even though I have a profession completely unrelated to politics? Actually, it comes down to my upbringing. I was raised in a state where Democrat & Republican candidates flock in mass numbers, campaigning away before they are really known to anyone in the national media. I shook Al Gore's hand when I was in 2nd grade- yes, he was a Presidential hopeful even back then (I will always feel sorry for Al), even if it was just in my state for a month before he got weeded out. Yep, I was raised in a primary state. Voting was serious in my state. You got to see your candidates, and ask them questions. You saw immediate results. It's sad, actually, that it's only a few states that get this privilege. I love the quaintness of my home state (that and the state motto are the only things I love about my home state), especially stories like this, even if I don't agree with how they voted.

What's the biggest problem with these primary states? They are stark white, frankly. Most of them are not diverse, and do not represent a true cross-section of America. The political machine really needs to be reexamined. I know this in theory. But it's hard to resent it too much, since I had the privilege of growing up somewhere critical to that machine, and benefited as a result.

p.s. I love dailykos so much, I just need to give them a virtual hug. But then I have to also give them a little bit of lip for their link to that crappy outsourcing ad that Jason Alexander participated in, which is truly in bad taste.

Monday, November 01, 2004

don't want to live my life protected

Anybody remember School of Fish? Anyone? Bueller?

My brother coolly remarks, after listening to me ramble about my anxieties about W getting another 4 years in office and the elections being too close to call, "Yeah, I don't even care anymore." That deflated me to the point of depression. My brother returned from watching Fahrenheit 9/11 with nothing but rave reviews; he even went to see it a second time with me. When I walked out of the theater rather unimpressed with the movie (I personally think there's so much vitriol in that film that it masks some of the points Moore is trying to make), my brother tried to coax me into the same rage he felt. And now, a few months later, he's inured. Sadly, my brother is often a good indicator of the 18-29 demographic in this country.

Also, my brother (and I promise that I do actually love him and get along with him really well) is a perfect example of the problem with that demographic as a whole. Everyone is just too cool for their own good. Heaven forbid that you should feel impassioned about something, that you should strive to make some kind of difference. Should you exhibit such behavior, you are just a clueless idealist that takes things too seriously. My brother always looks at me with this glance of dude, chill out, it's not that big of a deal whenever I get worked up about anything. I really dislike this notion that living life disconnected is a healthy approach. Escape is never the safest path... it seems a midlife crisis waiting to happen.

Now granted, I take it to the other extreme, to daily rollercoasters. My brother's good for me in that sense, since he's good at forcing me to do a reality check as to whether I am getting worked up over something worthwhile or just for the sake of getting worked up. In the case of the elections, I consider it a valid anxiety. I do think this is a very important election. I do find it incredibly depressing that I had to vote for Kerry, because I miss the days when I felt optimistic about a candidate. I did feel that way about Clinton the first time he ran. I remember what a coup it was for him to beat George Sr, and how the 18-29 demographic helped him accomplish that. I remember hearing him speak, and thinking, now this is my president. And even though he didn't amount to everything I hoped he would be, at least I went into it with hope. I do feel uneasy about Kerry, I can't deny that, even as a lifelong Democrat. He campaigns with a platform so similar to Bush that I feel he may actually be too right wing for me. But I can't abide by Bush, if only because of his religious views, and his stubborn colonialist attitude about the rest of the world. I just have little faith that my reason for voting against him will be compelling enough to get the rest of America to vote against him.

The nice thing about George Sr. is that there were multiple reasons for disliking him. I didn't like him because he took us into an ill-planned war and pulled out prematurely. But many others didn't like him because, during his presidency, the economy was in the toilet. The economy is not great right now, but in 1992, the economy was all the way down, past circling the drain, headed for the sewers. That, I remember vividly, even though I wasn't officially old enough to be stressing out about it. And then, on top of all that, you had the ravings of Ross Perot helping to carve up the votes in favor of Clinton. That was an unprecedented moment in history. Tomorrow doesn't seem like it will be so unprecedented, somehow.

Also... aren't the elections starting to feel like they should be covered by ESPN? Maybe it's just me, but I keep expecting John Madden to pull out a telestrator, circling swing states. If all the news coverage is going to treat this election like a stupid game, you might as well have ESPN cover it, since I'll take Rich Eisen or Stu Scott over Dan Rather any day when it comes to calling out a play-by-play. Of course, next best thing, I'll just watch The Daily Show cover the election instead.

Incidentally, both election campaigns should have taken all that money they raised and spent it hiring the marketing dudes at Sports Center- those guys make the funniest advertisements ever.

And finally, since this seems to have turned into a Monday rant, is it already that insane time called the "Christmas shopping season"- this has become an ever expanding season, it seems. Last week, there were already Christmas trees in many of the stores I passed. That's why this year, most of my friends & family are getting homemade gifts for Christmas. First of all, my family is Hindu, so I'm still not a 100% clear how we became such Christmas fanatics... more on that another time. Secondly, I refuse to participate in this consumerism crap. That's why I bought a new car this weekend. That was a healthy poke at myself, by the way.