Thursday, December 30, 2004

so big, it could crush this town

My mind just can't get around what has happened in South Asia. There's no way to even process what has happened, or the implications of it. And I don't know what to do, which just adds to my confusion. If I try to write about it, I'm sure something stupid will tumble onto this post, so I will resist the urge.

But okay, time to stop being so coy (point taken, Abhi). And this is also for J, because she was right.

Turns out, Houston is sort of worth it. I've only ever lived on coasts, east and west, so I always approach Texas like an alien visiting another planet. Actually, I approach a lot of things like an alien observing another planet, but that's a story for another day. And in this case, it's with good reason, because Texas is its own weird world.

But it turns out Houston has a ton of redeeming qualities. I guess it all depends on your perspective, on your context, which is an idea which took center stage in the many late night talks my cousins and I had all week. I've been to Houston before, but I was much younger. We went to such mind numbing places as The Galleria mall, and drove around the city looking at the high rises. That's what happens when you're younger though, I guess. Thinking back on it, until I was about 12, every visit I made to New York City gave me the impression that it was just filled with Indian apparel and food stores, since we spent the whole time in Jackson Heights. Similarly, I saw Houston from the eyes of my parents, and my uncles, and so it seemed devoid of anything stimulating.

Seeing it this time, through the eyes of my cousins, who are so amazing that it takes my breath away to talk to them some time, gave me a newfound respect for Houston. I kept ranting about where this money was coming from, but there is a lot of money spent on the arts in Houston. We went to a sculpture garden flanking the MFAH and the CAM, and there, in this small little clearing are sculptures by no less than Giacometti, Miro, Rodin. Downtown, on Main street, more sculptures. Even more still peppering the medical center (which is something of a city unto itself).

There are two chapels by the Menil museum in Houston that are weirdly amazing. The Rothko chapel is something you could easily make fun of on the surface. Rothko in general is easy to jeer. Somehow, though, sitting in the chapel is really evocative. Similarly, the Byzantine chapel is an experience. Both places feature, in some ways, very spare art. The Byzantine chapel has an amazing fresco in it, but what's really impressive about both chapels is the way the very design of the chapels enhances the entire atmosphere. Odd, in a city like Houston, with so many cookie cutter condos and high-rises, to really get a sense of what architecture can do to a place.

My cousins also took me to Project Rowhouses, another place that just gives the feeling that there are a lot of possibilities, that there are people making things happen in real time. I don't know. I just know that this trip was very energizing for me.

Of course it was also very relaxing. My cousins and I regress into this adolescent behavior, or maybe it's not even adolescent. I think we just really have a love for words, the three of us (yes, I know that may not be apparent from the way I craft my posts)- there is something we all seem to relish about the impossiblity of translation. So when we get together, it becomes this bizarre mish-mosh of as many languages as we can manage. English, Gujurati, really lousy Hindi, and a little Spanish thrown in for taste. And then of course, words we make up. One of my cousins came back from India recently, and picked up the word bond as an adjective. She isn't completely confident she's using it in the correct context, but we just decided to take ownership of the word, to create our own definition. So whenever someone does something kick-ass, something ballsy, it's "so bond."

We talked every night until 2 in the morning. We went to a bar that is a clothing store by day, cool ass bar by night. We went to different cafes every day, and none of them were Starbucks. We stayed up one night baking scones because we were so wired, we needed to expend our energy. We cheered each other on, talking about 2005, what lies ahead, the disappointments we have had, the possibilities that lie before us. We acted like idiots, we had deeply intellectual discussions. We understood how each of us have really different constraints in our current situations, how different our contexts are, and yet how many similarities there still are tying together our experiences. We sincerely wished each other well, which is something that you learn is rare in this world when you come right down to it. We said we'd meet like this again, but we knew it was a unique moment in our histories, a time that will likely never come again. It was the perfect way to end the year.

Saturday, December 25, 2004

melt your cold, cold heart

Turns out I have to eat all the negative words I've been spewing regarding the USPS, because today, on Christmas day, a package was delivered to my cousin, the one that was supposed to get there on Wednesday. My grandfather lives with this particular cousin, and I got to speak to him today, and he got verklempt. People, I rarely see or hear my grandfather choke up. But he started talking about the time and thought that went into those silly little cookies I baked for him, and he actually got flustered. And then I got flustered. And then there was this weird moment... that moment where my Gujarati skills failed me and his English skills failed him, and we sat there in silence, phones to our ears. Strangely, it wasn't sad though- there was something magical about that inability to find words.

I have to go back to packing, because in a few short hours, I am off to the Red State to end all Red States, to visit my cousins.

If anyone is reading this, all the best over the holidays!!

Friday, December 24, 2004

oi to the world

A tale of two packages...

The first, which was supposed to be sent to my cousins by today at the latest because they're off to Mumbai tomorrow- I decide to send express priority mail. The second, sent to another set of cousins who live in the same effin' town- I decide to send regular 2-day vanilla priority mail, because they're going to be around for the holidays. Today, I find out that the express priority mail package never was received, while the vanilla mail package got there without issue today. USPS... you will wouldn't like me when I'm angry.

This is why I always tend to lose my cool during this time of the holiday season. It seems, despite the best of intentions, something always goes wrong to detract from the spirit of the season. This is particularly upsetting to me today, of all days, because it was such a banner day until this very moment, this moment that followed 30 minutes spent with the USPS Customer Service department (and I assure you, the USPS uses the Customer Service title very loosely).

Cheerier post tomorrow...

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

to the window, to the walls

For the first time in years, I played tennis this afternoon, while playing hooky from work. I forgot how much I love playing, and I also forgot what crap I am at playing. Still, when you get a good slice at the ball, when you hear that perfect crack of the ball hitting your strings in just that sweet spot, ah... and not to mention, there's the whole matter of releasing endless amounts of aggression. And after yesterday's post, I think it's clear that I had a little steam that needed to be let out of the pressure cooker that is my brain. Right now, my wrist is killing me though, and slightly swollen, so this will be a short post. But I had to chronicle this classic exchange on the courts (it was me and two guys, one of whom is Richie Rich and the other is Mr. T):
    Brimful: Way to intimidate Richie Rich, Mr.T!
    Mr. T: Works every time.
    RR: Yeah, the way Mr. T rushed the net, I was thinking 'has Mr. T had lunch? Because he sure looks hungry!'
    Brimful: And he's hungry... for balls!

Yes, we're juvenile. Thing is, there were about seven hundred 'balls' jokes before this particular one, but this was the only one that originated from me. Why is it that men can make juvenile 'balls' jokes casually for hours, but if a woman makes one, they're reduced to such laughter that they can't even keep up a volley? I'm not complaining though... I have to admit that getting a laugh goes a long way for me.

After mailing out about ten Christmas packages, I was walking back to my apartment, taking in my neighborhood. The sun was shining, the streets were lively but not congested. On the corner, a market was selling bright, lovely looking tangerines. They called out to me and I went to buy them. Just as I did, a mariachi positioned himself in between the tangerines and oranges, and proceeded to serenade the sidewalk for the next ten minutes. It was perfectly perfect really.

Monday, December 20, 2004

has no idea what she's doing in college

Is it bad that I wish I could be as scathing as this guy? His Most Annoying People of 2004 has me in stitches, even though I don't necessarily agree with him on all of them, and think he's being excessively harsh on a lot of them. See, that's my problem. Always so boringly moderate.

Although here's something with which I can definitely take exception:
From McSweeney's Recommends:
Southern Comfort
Says Believer webmaster Max Fenton: "A bottle of Southern Comfort, some ice, some friends- you've got yourself a party."
Says me: Oh no you didn't!

Let me count the ways that Southern Comfort is your worst nightmare:
    1) It tastes like cough syrup on its best day.
    2) It cannot be mixed with anything (and for you good ole boys [because I know there are so many of you perusing this blog], yes, I've had an Alabama Slammer, and yes, my original statement still holds).
    3) It is the drink of choice used to lure under-age girls into getting hazy and vulnerable (well, at least, before the days of roofies, I guess).
    4) Too much of this stuff will give you a hangover that neither Jack nor Jim can rival.
Yes, I drank too much So Co in college. No, I am not a recovering alcoholic!

Anyway, (rant)I had to have what at work we would refer to as a "difficult conversation" with a relative yesterday, and it sucked up one side and down the other. It's weird, when there's such an age difference between us. For so long, I treated this cousin of mine like a child. Like aw, how cute that she can't write an essay for college or she doesn't know what she wants to do after she graduates, how adorable. But yesterday, she asked me to write a cover letter for her. An effing cover letter, people! Most hilarious part? She said she'd been "researching how to write one all day at B&N." Should one really require four hours of research to figure out how to write a cover letter? So, that was it. I had to cut the chord, go cold turkey, and tell her that she needed to grow up. Amazingly, I managed to suppress the urge to read her the riot act about the fact that, at her age, I found a profession and a job all on my lonesome without any family guidance. Because that would have come off sounding like an old, bitter curmudgeon who thought she was an overindulged brat. But let me tell you, I was thinking it. And for that, I feel conflicted. I mean, maybe it's my own fault, because I spoiled her just as much as any other member of my family did. We held her hand through it all, so should I really be surprised that she now carries herself as though she's entitled to be treated like a princess? (/rant)

Sigh. Fact is, it seems reflective of a larger issue, which is this lackadaisical approach some women take when it comes to thinking about a career and a direction for their lives. I'm not trying to indict all of womenkind, so please note that this is not a sweeping generalization. And I'm also not passing judgement on women who choose to value having a family and raising children above a career (more power to them, I think that's harder than anything I'll ever do with my life!). What I don't understand is this- if you aren't married, shouldn't you at least be thinking about a career? Not necessarily a high-powered one, either, I'm not asking you to gun for the CEO position, but at least some career of some kind. Just because you've decided you'd rather eventually get married and have kids, does that give you license to just tread water aimlessly until then? I do not understand! It breaks my brain when I meet women like this, especially because some of them are intelligent, but just have no motivation to apply that intelligence in any kind of a productive fashion. I mean, shouldn't you have some of your own personal motivation? Isn't there something you can do with your life that is productive that also makes you happy???

Clearly, I'm not in the holiday spirit just now...

Friday, December 17, 2004

misguided by the 405

Some random observations from my whirlwind visit to LA:
  • At LAX- an Indian woman near the Air India terminal had turned a fleece baby blanket (with blue and yellow clouds on it) into a poncho. Would someone please stop the goddamn poncho craze already? Then send a memo to this person informing her that, even if the craze were in its heyday, it would not include things that should only be found in cribs and bassinets.
  • Why was I in such a rush to get back? If I had made a weekend out of it, I could have gone to a museum near USC to see an exhibit on the Body that I have only heard tell about. It sounds equal parts creepy and fascinating. Plus, I could have met the famous madman, and maybe even the comedienne extraordinaire of LA (who's apparently not feeling very funny at the moment, according to her blogpost of yesterday- send good thoughts her way, we've all been there!)
  • Traffic on the fucking 405 and a bad cab driver= car-sick brimful.
  • The woman who told me the American and Alaska airline terminals were close together never tried to walk it with an over-the-shoulder garment bag and heels.
  • People wearing strong cologne or perfume should not be allowed to travel on airplanes.
  • Why did I complain about Southern California in the past so much?? I can't remember. Everything I saw was beautiful, everything said you know you want to be here. Especially if you don't have to use your car too often and get on that damn 405.
  • A non-smoking room should be defined as a room where no one ever smoked, where the smell of tobacco and lung cancer is in no way detectable. It should not be defined as I sprayed air freshener up in here and removed the ash tray.

I realize that the above is a list of mostly rants, but tucked in there, you might notice a little nugget of positivity that in actuality encapsulated the 3-hour tour. Okay, it was slightly longer than 3-hours, but it felt very short. But what an amazing place, what a fantastic campus, and what cool people. It's times like this that I start to feel very Costanza-esque; I start to think there's no way this will work out, because I'm not meant to be this happy. But here's the question- is it worse to be unaware of what you want or to know what you want and fail to obtain it? What happens to a dream deferred? And if you pretend you don't want something, does that really protect you at all? Is it better to just face the facts that, as Hemingway would write, you're simply a goner for a dream? Very weird how I seem to have bigger crushes and love affairs with academic institutions than real people, and how I feel more bitter about being dumped by an academic institution than a guy. What's that all about?

Oh, and I also had a dream on Thursday night, an isolated dream that just involved me throwing up. Yeah, I wasn't nervous at all. A little anxiety is a good thing though. It keeps me on your toes, forces me to get it together. The only way to conquer my anxiety is to feel I'm adequately prepared, and walk in there with a determined look on my face that says bitch, game on. Of course, to the untrained eye this same look could be interpreted as Am I in the right building, and am I going to be late? But that doesn't matter. The face I prepare is not for the ones I meet; it's for myself, for my own piece of mind.

On the surface, I was doing better than most though. When the others were sweating bullets and starting to get that tense look on their faces, I was pulling out the Mentos and offering the Freshmaker with my best goofy foreign advertising-style grin. Call it public service, because my idiotic comedic routines seemed to calm down those around me as well.

Well, this was an exciting way to spend my Friday night... let's not do it again, shan't we?

Thursday, December 16, 2004

can you keep up?

Every once in a while, the world works in this mysterious way, and you get a blessing where you never expected it. And so much, so very much depends on your perspective in the matter. I could, as I have done for the past week, continue to freak out and feel stressed about everything in my life. I could feel I'm running a race where I'm always a step behind. I could feel like I'm at one of those waves in life, where everything seems to be going at this frenetic rate.

Whenever you apply to any sort of academic program, it seems that there is always a question asking you to explain any hardships you have had in your life. Somehow that question always puts life into perspective for me. I can feel as ill-fated as Wile E. Coyote at times, I can twist around every life experience I have had into a failure of some sort, and I can convince myself I am my own Sisyphus, pushing that rock up that hill in an equally futile manner. But then I think about that word hardship, and I know that I'm just acting like Wendy Whiner or Debbie Downer (TM SNL). I know that, in fact, I have had no real hardships, especially none that I've not been able to overcome.

And then, if you're in just the right frame of mind, and the right thing happens, you suddenly realize how much good luck you have had. That is what happened today. So now, tomorrow doesn't seem so daunting!

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

sliding out of reverse into drive

My grandfather is pretty amazing. At 85, he's still taking 2 mile walks in the morning and evening. He kept up with this, even recently, after eye surgery. He keeps a fastidious journal. The last time he was taken to a physician, he brought along the journal, which kept record of his blood pressure on a daily basis. In his journal is also a record of who he sees and where he has gone in a day, to keep his mind sharp. When I'm his age, if I am half as disciplined as he is, I wound consider myself doing well. I'm not saying he's a man without flaws. The last time we talked, he told me that there was no point in me working or studying if I wasn't married as well. So, he has a mild streak of chauvinism, and his hearing isn't what it once was. But he's still a lion, after all these years, and there are so many things about him that I carry with me.

My grandfather has never, ever consented to eating meat, and that includes eggs. And though he is not materialistic, he is always tickled when he is given gifts of any kind by his grandchildren. Last year, I sent my uncle Christmas cookies, and my grandfather called me the next day, inquiring whether I had thought to include any that had no eggs for him. As it turns out, I had, but they were fairly tasteless and I was dissatisfied with them. So, this year, I set about to concoct cookies for my grandfather that met the following specifications: a) no eggs or egg-substitutes (he doesn't trust those) and b) something with more of an Indian flavor to it. I tested out my hypothesized recipe today and the experiment was successful, so my grandfather will have something worthwhile this year. With all apologies to Badmash:

Merry Krishna Cookies
3/4 to 1 cup roasted pistachios, shelled
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
8 tablespoons superfine sugar
1 and 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 to 3 tablespoons ground cardammom
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar

Using a food processor or mini chopper, pulse the pistachios until finely ground. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

In a medium bowl, cream the butter, superfine sugar, and vanilla with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with rubber spatula. Combine the flour and cardammom in a small bowl, then add to the butter mixture, mixing on low speed until just absorbed. Scrape bowl once more. Add pistachios and mix until just combined. Knead dough gently into a smooth mass.

Pinching small pieces off the dough, roll dough into about a 1 inch ball. Place them onto ungreased baking sheets, about 1 and 1/2 inch apart. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the undersides begin to appear golden. Meanwhile, place the granulated sugar in a small bowl (You can add in a little cardammom to the granulated sugar if you like for extra flavor). Let cookies cool for about 3 minutes, then toss them, a few at a time, in the sugar bowl while still warm to coat completely. Place on racks to cool completely. Makes about 36 cookies.

Did I mention that baking is one of my coping mechanisms for stress and anxiety?

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

run every kind of test from A to Z

Evidence that it's some times best to restrain oneself: by the end of the day yesterday, rumors were running rampant that a romance is brewing between my friend M and nice guy simply because they danced together in front of other colleagues. See, I have good reason for my policy! By the by, all of these past few sentences will make no sense if you didn't read yesterday's post (not that any of my sentences make a whole lot of sense anyway).

Never mind the bollocks- what really counts is this: Friday, I am heading down here to interview. I am nervous, I am excited, I am anxious, I am optimistic, I am inconsolable all at once. It seems like a lot of people I know right now are in this zone of uncertainty, where the ground beneath your feet is not quite reliable. Interesting- it's easy to write about things that don't matter, like the ridiculous thoughts that pulse through your head after a night of drinking, but almost impossible to write coherently about things that matter so so much. Is it just superstition, this fear that writing down your most secret hope might automatically invalidate it? I'm being fiercely protective of my deepest hopes and fears.

Of course, the advantage of this is the feeling of living a secret life, having a secret identity. I'm undercover. You can't help but relish the idea of the shock it will elicit if all the pieces fall into place, and you achieve your final secret goal. I'm a big fan of surprises.

An old friend wrote today and reminded me of my softball team from my first job. We were easily the most lousy team in this intramural, silly little league. We were procrastinators, so when it came time to choose a team name, we looked at the list of teams on the roster, and came up with the highly original Team 14. Three seasons later, we were still going by this name, even though there were 16 teams in the league by then. Our first season, we lost every game except one that we won by default (i.e. the other team didn't show up)- we celebrated that victory at the bar as though we were the Red Sox beating the Yankees. Our team motto was "We always win at the bar." We were threatened once by a new team member- he showed up to the game suited in a completely professional-looking uniform, brand-spanking new. He got up to the plate and struck out in three easy swings. We started to call him KC at the bat. He would not play our reindeer games, though. He didn't understand the satisfaction we derived from our mediocrity, and went on to search out a new team that understood him. But, especially because I'm probably the worst softball player that ever walked the earth, man, I loved that team.

Monday, December 13, 2004

I used to go out to parties and stand around

Chocolate genius

Have you ever had this stuff? It's magically delicious, people. It should steal Lay's motto, because truly, no one can eat just one.

The one great thing about getting sick is the morning that you wake up and realize you're not sick anymore. The congestion and fogginess have not just declined, but actually dissipated altogether. I probably could have woken up yesterday with that feeling, except that I went a little too many rounds with Mr. Belvedere on Saturday night, and I'm not talking about that portly dude who decided to be a butler for a middle-class family. I thought drinking expensive vodka would be a good way to keep the drinking in check, since there's only so many drinks you can afford at $10 a pop. The stupidity of that rationale should be apparent to anyone who, in college, would start out with a few Sam Adams, and end the night with Milwaukee's Beast.

The bad part of my Sunday is that I had such a headache that I had to sit around and relive the events of the evening before, and that, of course, leads to my typical overanalysis. I know I should not do it, and yet, leave me to my own devices and it's impossible not to go in this direction. Give me some room, cut some rope. Give me just two minutes from under the microscope. Is it a girly thing? Or is it just a sign of someone with too much time on their hands? This is the flow of what went through my head yesterday:

  • I used to think nice guy was a personality free zone, but he really redeemed himself last night. And he cleans up nice.
  • Wait, am I interested in this guy?
  • Wait, do I like him because he showed signs of being interested in me?
  • At least three other women I know were swooning over him last night.
  • He's the quiet type. That means I'd have to make the effort if I wanted to see more of him.
  • When he asked me to dance, I should have said yes.
  • But I don't dance at parties where coworkers are present, so that would have been untrue to myself.
  • But I shouldn't have pushed him to dance with my friend. That was not smart.
  • But maybe it wasn't a bad move. I mean, my friend likes him. Maybe they would make a better couple.
  • He reminds me so much of my closest buddy that it's starting to disturb me.
  • Does this mean I have a thing for my buddy?
  • Wait, forget about my buddy, he's been my buddy forever, that's not going to change.
  • Hey, dumbass, maybe you forgot that you are actively looking at making a huge, momentous decision that will take you completely out of this area in less than six months? Nice guy will think you are a complete psycho if you tell him about that, and who wants to deal with all that uncertainty?
  • Yeah, and all those other women, it was like vultures circling around a carcass. You don't want to get caught up in all that shit.
  • Plus he probably doesn't even like you.
  • And oh my god, did you prevent him from hooking up with your friend? You should have encouraged that more. Don't be a hater!
  • For the love of all that is holy, please get off your ass and get some advil.

    Now that my head no longer hurts, and I'm no longer sick with the flu, I've conveniently pushed all of those parallel streams of thought into the back of my head. Whoever said avoidance is a bad way to deal with conflict can kiss my grits.

  • Friday, December 10, 2004

    in gardens all misty and wet with rain

    Richie Rich signed an e-mail to me this morning with the moniker Hungry like the wolf, because he really does think we're living in an Office Space sitcom. I guess that's what happens when you get married, have already put an addition on your house, and haven't had kids yet. So now I have that ridiculous song in my head, and it's driving me mad, especially since Duran Duran songs make absolutely no sense. It's like listening to the Teletubbies bouncing through your head all morning. Not that I didn't listen to Duran Duran all the time when I was younger. But hey, I used to listen to J. Geils Band singing about a girlfriend who turned out to be a centerfold, and never had a clue what I was singing along to, so those were innocent days where I didn't question everything so much, clearly.

    This makes me irrationally unhappy. Mostly because I think any show that can make good use of the Charlie Brown Christmas theme and The Final Countdown deserves to be on the air as long as humanly possible.

    Last evening and this morning, the fog has started to exactly bring to mind The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock. I am TS Eliot's bitch, incidentally, although that might have already been evident from my sidebar, come to think of it. But I remember that this poem was the first one that really stopped me in my tracks. I can still recall reading it on a piece of mimeographed paper and actually pausing to catch my breath. I can remember the weariness, the perfect weariness in the delivery of the poem the first time I heard it read out loud, by an intern at a summer school. Weird how so much of it still holds true all these years later:
    Do I dare
    disturb the universe?
    In a minute there is time
    for decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse
    Prufrock is the ultimate poem that captures inertia, that captures that conflict of wanting to do something and also coming to grips with your insignificance. Sigh.

    See, I do love the fog. I love how it shrouds everything, softens all the edges. I like the comfort of the warm, wet blanket when I'm walking on the street. I can hear Van Morrison's Sweet Thing lacing through my head. And should I leave, I will miss that most about this place.

    Thursday, December 09, 2004

    don't know when that road turned into the road I'm on

    Okay, the hormonal flare of yesterday's post seems to have passed- blame it all upon a rush of blood to the head. Maybe.

    Last night, as I was driving my car home, I realized that, since getting rid of my old car, I don't have a good sense of how many miles I can still drive once the fuel light comes on now. This little piece of minutiae caused hyperanalytical thoughts. I started thinking again about extremists. My friend K has never allowed her tank to dip below the 1/4 mark... in fact, I truly question whether she has knowledge of the existence of a fuel light. On the other hand, there are the Kramer's of this world, who love to see how long they can push the limits of reason, who seem to get a rise out of running on empty. I had an ex-bf who ran out of gas at least twice while I was driving with him. I don't mean, running on fumes; I mean stalled out car on a dark deserted street in the middle of the night.

    But it got me thinking that there is a certain comfort in the extreme. K is calmly confident that she will always have enough gas, because, like clockwork, she fills that tank up at her predetermined time. I look at her like she's cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs, but she is serene in her knowledge that this is her way, and it has never failed her. On the other hand, on both occasions that my ex-bf ran out of gas, he too showed no signs of distress. He just laughed and cheerfully jumped out of the car, running out to the trunk, where he knew enough to keep a plastic cannister for fuel, and walked off into the darkness to find the nearest gas station. To him, it was never omg, I'm such an idiot for running out of gas; it was a simple shrug and this will make an amusing anecdote.

    And here I am, stuck in the middle again. Me, I don't have the good sense to religiously fill the tank, but when the fuel light comes on, I fret and think can I make it home or do I need to pull over at the nearest gas station? I am not rolling with it, one way or the other. I'm constantly dissatisfied by my behavior because it's always so moderate, it's always so ambivalent:
    Some will laugh, and some will sit and cry
    But you just sit down and you wonder why.

    On a completely unrelated note, I dare anyone to compete with the funny that is J- her comments to my posts are funnier than anything I've ever written.

    Wednesday, December 08, 2004

    Girls, what's my weakness? Men!

    Sweet dreams are made of these

    I could not be kidding you more, but what can I say, if we're going to keep it up with the suggestive lyrics, some times I want candy, eye candy, that is. My friend S sent me this picture today and I was definitely pleasantly distracted for a bit. And no, I'm not talking about the two little boys, although their sweatshirts have some potential significance in my life as well... just maybe... but that's for another time.

    Why these three? Do I really have to even explain? I mean on the left, you have the player- attractive, comes off as quiet, but probably has had plenty, if you know what I mean. In the middle, you have the marrying kind- cute, nice, the big selling point being his sense of humor and the idea that he's not so gorgeous that you would constantly be nervous he might stray (a big liability of the player, I might add). And then finally, on the right, you have the bad boy- oh yes, pretend you're not interested, he's a little unkempt, he doesn't bill himself as good for you whatsoever, but you can't help yourself. What do all these archetypes tell me? The player will likely make you hate him one day, the bad boy will definitely make you hate yourself one day, and... why oh why can't I ever fall for the guy in the middle?

    Hmm... now, who can I blame this shallow post on? Oh, I know, my colleague, who I like to call Richie Rich. True conversation between us this morning:

    Richie Rich: You have to go to the holiday party.
    Brimful: In fact, I really don't.
    R: Well, if you went, who would you go with?
    B: I was thinking of taking P.
    R (eyebrows raise): Wouldn't that be leading him on?
    B (defensively): We're just friends.
    R: Well, it would start gossip around here.
    B: I'll just introduce him as a friend of my brother's.
    R: That will just make people think you're trying to keep it on the down low.
    B: Wtf? Maybe I should tell people he's my boyfriend, will that stop rumors?
    R: Potentially. Maybe you should introduce him as your lover.
    B: (after a minute of laughing at the visual in my head) The problem is, P would totally play along with that, to the point that it would become embarassing.
    R: Yeah, but it would be fun to freak everyone out. Do you know how uncomfortable you could make everyone if you introduced him continually as your lover?

    So, it's been that kind of a day, you see. Richie Rich also spent the rest of that discussion warning me that some other dude in our group likes me. Some times I think Richie Rich missed out on an active high school and college social scene, and is now trying to resurrect it in the workplace. First of all, I don't think said dude likes me. Secondly, if he does, why must Richie Rich point it out? As soon as someone tells you something like this, it can throw a totally awkward vibe into everything. Now I have to worry, am I giving the dude the wrong idea by saying hello to him in the hall? If I laugh at a joke he makes during a meeting, do I run the risk of being asked out? If I was asked out, would I say yes? I don't need these questions running through my head.

    Oh, and there is a really cute Indian consultant dude that just started working with me, but I can't bring myself to get worked up about him because he's, like, eleven.

    Zounds... it's like the estrogen is on eleven up in this joint today. Any suggestions on how to go back to my usual tomboy ways? (And yes, I know, a good start would be not to post a drooling tribute to a bunch of pretty boys...)

    Tuesday, December 07, 2004

    You do what you must do and you do it well

    I have this line completely jammed into my head right now:
    In the jingle jangle morning, I'll come following you
    Why? Stupid reason- because jingle jangle is the only term that adequately describes the feeling in my head right now, that sound that loose change makes rattling around a cage, that feeling that you're just not quite right. Very weird, though probably a sign that my immune system is launching an all out counterattack against whatever virus was wreaking havoc through my body the last week. I love immune system imagery, by the way. This goes back to the very first time I saw The Fantastic Voyage, which is truly an awesome B-movie from the '60s. When the white blood cells attack... well, that seems like the best way to explain an immune reaction ever.

    Most iconic musicians should never be covered (should you have any doubt, take a listen to Limp Bizkit's skewering of The Who's classic Behind Blue Eyes). That said, Dylan is the one musician who actually benefits from being covered from time to time. So, I respectfully submit my favorite Dylan covers:

  • Tangled up in Blue, by the Indigo Girls... because it's just more melodic, and yet, the whole time I'm listening to it, I always picture Dylan in the actual story of the song, if that makes any sense.

  • Masters of War, by Pearl Jam... because, well, personal irrational love of Eddie Vedder aside, it captures the rage of that song at a particularly perfect moment.

  • You're gonna make me lonesome when you go, by Shawn Colvin because Colvin does cheery way better than Dylan does, and man, is that a beautiful song in her hands.

  • I've been thinking about Dylan since his 60 minutes interview, and since he creeped me out of my socks the evening I saw him on a Victoria's Secret advertisement. The guy is nothing if not confusing. I had a friend in grad school who worshipped Dylan and Elvis, had every one of both of their albums. Which is interesting to me now that I hear Dylan aspired to be Elvis at one point. That seems hard to believe to me, when I listen to an album like Blood on the Tracks.

    What Dylan did mention that I can understand, that I think everyone can understand, is that his early work had a sort of magic to it that he can't imagine recapturing now. I don't want to tie this into youth or innocence, necessarily. But I think there are times in one's life, when everything aligns perfectly, and something extraordinary is possible. The old sayings of it's never too late, sure, they hold true, but it is also true that there are times that things are in synch, opportunities present themselves and beg to be taken. It brings to mind the beginning of life, the conditions present in the early atmosphere that could have sparked the very beginning of those first amino acids forming, of that first cell forming, dividing, replicating.

    A little Dylan on the brain is a good thing. Since I'm not a child of the '60s I can't necessarily relate to every political significance behind his music, but I do relish some of his lyrics. Your heart is made of stone if you can listen to Visions of Johanna or I want you or Don't think twice, it's alright or, my personal favorite, If you see her, say hello and not be moved at all. Just typing the names of those songs reduces me to a shell of my former self.

    The 60 minutes interview made me think a lot of another artist I like a lot, who is a complete recluse about interviewing and stardom. That old curmudgeon, Van Morrison, has been complaining for years about people treating him like a prophet or some sort of phenomenon (see Songwriter, or better yet, Cleaning Windows for evidence of such whinging). The problem is, music transcends. When you hear something that transcends, it's difficult to think of the person behind it as a mere human, whether that's true or not. I don't mind that musicians decry being treated like prophets, that will keep them honest, but I also don't think it's crazy to be blown away by someone who makes really good music. If it is, then lock me up, folks, because I am heading to the funny farm. But I think they must know, those musicians, because otherwise, how could Dylan write this:
    Every one of them words rang true
    and glowed like burning coal
    pouring off of every page
    like it was written in my soul from me to you

    Monday, December 06, 2004

    faith is an island in the setting sun

    True funny stuff everyone seems to be missing: Arrested Development... seriously, man, why isn't anyone watching this show? I don't laugh out loud that often when I'm watching television, but this show has me in stitches regularly.

    True voicemail left on Friday afternoon by my friend A stuck in NJ suburbia:
    Hey, it's A, I was just calling because I needed to talk to somebody who does not have a baby or is putting an addition on their house.
    I didn't know whether to laugh or feel sorry for the poor guy.

    And now for the verbal vomit:

    True things that are killing me right now: the pliability of a mob and the persistence of ignorant hatred. I was reading about this today, and I remembered distinctly when this all transpired, even though it was so long ago, and I am, in so many countless ways, removed from events that unfold in India.

    My parents are pretty devout Hindus. When we were young, I remember that my father wanted us to get involved with the VHP, mainly because it was a Hindu group mobilizing in the US. He thought it would be a good way for us to be educated about Hinduism. Fortunately, I had already been swimming in Indian religious texts, both child-oriented and otherwise. We spent only a brief time with VHP-associated people, but it didn't take long to see that they were isolationists. I continue to be baffled by people who move to the US to congregate solely with other Indians and Hindus, but I lack the fire I once had to get up in arms about it.

    I want to rant and rave about this in a long post, but there is really no sense to it. I feel I am amply tolerant of other people and their beliefs, but I will never tolerate the way the VHP mobilized and defended the destruction of a place of worship in Ayodhya. I don't know any devoutly Hindu person that can defend this on the basis of their religion.

    But mostly, when I think about it really carefully, I am so very grateful to live, to have been raised, in a place where I have never had the social pressure to feel the kind of prejudice that fuels such violence. It's easy for me, in the safety I've enjoyed, to decry this kind of blind hatred. But it seems clear that I have no clear way of conceiving what sorts of tragedies lead to such a deep-seated sense of separatism and antagonism... Kosovo, Rwanda, Gujarat, Jerusalem... I have no true understanding of how these things get started and can't seem to be stopped, no matter how many books I read about it, how many pictures I see capturing it, how many accounts I hear told of it. And I have to say, I feel strangely fortunate to lack the ability to comprehend it.

    Saturday, December 04, 2004

    it's like lightning washing everything clear

    One weird thing about the flu and then I'm done mentioning it: strange how, at the onset, you tend not to exhibit the symptoms outright. You feel like hell, ache, and your brain feels broken, but outwardly, you might not seem so badly off. Then, as you're recovering, you start to sound horrid. So, in effect, you elicit sympathy when you no longer need it. Anyway...

    Since I'm still coughing up a lung or two, I'm sort of on house arrest, which is driving me batty. That too is funny, since I have wasted a whole day away indoors without a second thought in the past. Yet, make it mandatory, and I am a ball of angst, itching to get out. There is no sense in baking anything, since no one would trust eating anything out of this germ-infested apartment, even if I sterilized the kitchen and wore a mask while putting things together. No, I sound like an utter invalid. If only I had someone to give a guilt trip, this would be the perfect opportunity.

    Today, I got a letter addressed from Daniel Handler & his wife. How cool is that? Okay, it's not that cool, once I realized it was a letter inviting me to a screening for A series of unfortunate events benefiting 826 Valencia. Actually, hang it all, that is still cool. 826 Valencia is a really fantastic idea, that grew out of such a simple and unselfish motivation. I haven't decided whether I'm going to the event though. The thought of going to a screening like this, littered with hoardes of little twirps... oh sorry, I'm hating on the youngin's again. It's not that I don't like little kids. Okay, maybe it is that I don't like little kids. I like them just fine in a one on one setting. I like them even better when I'm related to them. But put me in a Target on a Sunday afternoon, and it's automatic birth control for life. Hopefully, the Daniel Handler crowd of children will be a little more civilized, but I think that's a wee optimistic, especially considering how much sugar is available in abundance during the holidays. Cornholio comes to mind...

    I think I'll pace around my apartment some more now.

    Friday, December 03, 2004

    she seems to be stronger

    The fog continues, but I am on the mend. Incidentally, I don't care for anything with pseudephedrine in it. I know there are few choices when you are battling nasal congestion, but it messes with me, and my pulse abnormally quickens. Plus, it replaces the fog with a frenzy. I'm not sure how useful I am in either state.

    When you're sick, there's little to do except further numb your mind with television. This will be the excuse I use for mentioning that Wednesday evening's episode of Lost freaked me the hell out. I don't think it was just the Nyquil talking- all the scenes with the psychic, and the final scene with the weirdo Ethan Rom dude (cousin of Tom Cruise)... twisted.

    Please let me feel better by tomorrow.

    Wednesday, December 01, 2004

    caught a light sneeze

    The official welcoming of the holidays for me is greeting the flu bug. Here it is. Flu vaccine, be damned. Nothing- I'll do this one myself. Actually, for now, it's just a sore throat, and general fogginess. Perhaps with a little eucalyptus and some oranges, I'll skip the flu altogether. Oh, sorry, I thought I was on Lost for a moment... ah, Naveen Andrews... sure, go ahead and be an Iraqi with a bit of a lisp for an accept... I'll take that crazy French broad on to get you. Okay, so it's not just general fogginess, it's delirium. Can I go home now?

    I'm still smarting from getting schooled at Texas Hold 'Em several times by cousins five to ten years my junior. There wasn't even vodka involved. It's a sign that I don't give my cousins enough credit. I was continually convinced the youngest one had nothing in her hand, and would try to call her bluff, only to be met with trip aces or some such. I demand a rematch. That's all I have to say about that.

    Last week, I went all girly and spent far too much on moisturizer at L'Occitane. Because, you know, moisture is the essence of wetness... and no, I do not tire of Zoolander references. Hey, when it's cold, the heat gets turned on. When the heat gets turned on, it gets dry. Sure, I went a little overboard with the math, and felt the need to buy something with 25% shea butter. What in the world is shea butter, by the way? Tawk amungst yaselves.

    I love this lunatic and his rantings. I love the way that some people have to write. It's not in them to be silent on the page. I am also intrigued by the tightrope of creativity and madness. Technically, Nikolai Gogol was a total nutcase. And yet, you read The Nose and it's just pure genius, even in its insanity. It's important to the arts, I think, to do a better job at titrating drugs, at modulating their effect, so that pharmaceuticals make life bearable for those struggling with mental disorders without dulling them completely. Help them mind the tightrope.

    This weekend, I'm picking up and reading a short biography on Marie Curie, because she is another case in point. She struggled with periods of great depression, and yet won the Nobel prize twice. Too often, arts and science are set up as adversarial, as contrary to each other. In fact, I think they're strikingly parallel. You look at great artists and great scientists, and both display eccentricity and passion. Both live and breathe their work. Both require a creative mind. I used to share an apartment with two Literature grad students, who used to say that life could exist without science, but not without art. Why must it be one or the other? Life must depend on both; even in the most ancient of civilizations, both artistic and scientific tendencies are unearthed.

    Oh, how I love being sick, as I can ramble completely incoherently, and completely pass it off on being dazed and confused.