Monday, January 31, 2005

for every tool they lend us

I can't get used to this lifestyle

My mother has quite an attachment to her cell phone, but only insofar as outgoing calls are concerned. You can get three calls from her on the cell phone within fifteen minutes, but should you try to call her back two minutes later, you are guaranteed to get her voicemail. Someone needs to explain cell phone usage to her. Unfortunately, it can't be me, because I field even more complaints about my cell phone than she does. First off, my cell phone could possibly be in a museum of antiquities by now (see above for proof). Secondly, I bought it when my old POS car had a meltdown, literally- the radiator cracked and smoke came out of my hood in the middle of the street. So most of the time, it stays in my car, since I still think of it as a Help, my car is on fire, please come get me-tool. Thirdly, since I have both a turn of the century cell phone and one of the lousiest cell phone service providers ever, my reception makes calling or speaking with anyone an unappealing prospect. All of the above, though, are simply excuses. Really, I am just incredibly lazy. I have cursed this phone a billion times, cursed my service provider a billion times more, but my incredible sloth-like tendencies have kept me from doing anything about it.

Yesterday, I was urban hiking all over the place because of the unseasonably lovely weather. I was watching the park fill up to capacity while walking down a steep sidewalk. Just then, I came upon four guys making their way up the hill in, I kid you not, full-fledged stilts, complete with oversized pants. It troubles me a little that I tend to take things like that for granted. I'm disturbingly nonchalant when I'm walking down the street. Someone could be riding a unicorn across the street and I probably would shrug and complain about traffic. The stilt folks had nifty mugs, most likely filled with alcoholic beverages given their gleeful shouts to anyone who would hear them. I wondered some time later how far up the hill they got before the liquor triumphed over their sense of balance.

And finally, in random paragraph #3, in honor of my former Northeast Corridor residence status, I have to see this as soon as is humanly possible. I've heard people use the expression Bridge & Tunnel here, and it irks, because I'm not aware of any tunnels leading into San Francisco, unless BART somehow counts.

Okay, one more thing: this ad makes me giggle uncontrollably no matter how many times I see it, even though it represents an evil corporate behemoth shilling something I'd never drink in a billion years. These lines particularly kill me, but really lose their punch without the Eye of the Tiger music playing in the background:

Middle management is right in his grasp
It's a dream he will never let die
Glen's the man of the hour, he's the king of his cube
Status call reports have finally met their rival
Ah, Survivor, you dudes sure are milking that Rocky theme for all it's worth. Well played, sirs!

Friday, January 28, 2005

sorry is the fool that trades his love for high-rise rent

Earbuds elicit the Elaine (yanking George's mop off his head)"This...I don't like this thing... and here's what I'm doing with it (throwing rug out the window)!" response from me. My beloved iPod mini & I attempted a run on the treadmill yesterday, but I resembled a mental patient because of the ticks developed trying to adjust/keep in place the damn earbuds that come standard with the iPod mini. I should take a moment to note that I mean this in no derogatory way towards my iPod mini. It's not my mini's fault; the poor thing was handicapped with these idiotic earbuds. The mini didn't know how much this would bother me, or the mini would have never done it. Incidentally, when I first got my beloved, I wrote to my friend W with this email:
"By the way, I've decided that I am going to marry my iPod mini. I'll be registering with iTunes, and we will be living happily ever after."
To which, W wrote back:
"You slept with the mini, didn't you?"
Baby needs a new pair of shoes, though. Or in this case, a new pair of headphones, not involving earbuds. Even with the earbud distraction, I had a really good run. It's been a while since I went for a serious run, but oh, did it feel good. Well, again, it was kind of an activation energy thing. I had to talk myself into going to the gym in the middle of a torrential downpour (my running shoes were soaked before I even walked into the gym). I did not enjoy the stitch in my side that developed during mile two of my run. None of that was really fun. It's the feeling that comes about forty five minutes later, what can only be attributed to endorphins, I suppose. I love that feeling. If I get back in the habit of running regularly, it will serve two very important purposes-
    1) Increase the likelihood that Machu Pichu will not turn into a complete meltdown/Into Thin Air experience.
    2) Help maintain the cease-whiner
Somehow I just seem in a better frame of mind when I'm running regularly. Maybe I just get too amped up to brood. Whatever it is, it works. And I know that running like a complete sissy is not going to get me in shape for Machu Pichu, but it sure can't hurt. Especially considering that I was gasping for air after a 2.5 mile run (and yes, I know most people don't consider a 2.5 mile run a serious run... and I know that at my pace it's a stretch to call it "running"). Cardiovascular fitness anyone??

Here's a great phone exchange from last night when I got home to my apartment (note that I never lied):
Caller: Hello, this is the SFPD. How are you doing tonight?
Me (convinced that someone is coming to lock me up): I'm fine, how are you?
Caller: I'm great, yeah... thanks... you know, no one ever asks me that.
Me: Oh really? (sounding a bit deflated, realizing that this is not a real heavy hitter of the SFPD)
Caller: Well, are your mom and dad in?
Me: No, they're not here right now.
Caller: Okay, well, thanks, we'll call another time.
Me: Okay.
That's what I get for picking up a phone call that says "Out of area" on the i.d. And that's what he gets for asking a question like that- yes, buddy, my mom and dad are out, because they live 3000 miles away. I'm going to have to poll my friends to find out if my voice sounds child-like.

The Australian Open continues to proceed in a bizarre, topsy-turvy manner. Hewitt beat Roddick. This makes me so happy. Roddick called his playmanship "money" after a match that he lost. The word asshat comes to mind. And if you think this kind of sports commentary is bad, wait until I get started on more NFL rants.

And just to make this unnecessary post even longer, today I had my first taste of real, genuine posterior-kissing. It threw me for quite a loop, because I had to fight the urge to like it. An inner dialogue was running through my head chanting "This is just because he's scared you're going to quit. This is just because so many other people have already left. This is just because he wants you to put in even more of your time. This is not a reason to think you should stay here. This is not good rationale for getting comfortable. You did not just hear him say your salary was going up considerably. Remember? You're not supposed to care about that right now. You have an iPod mini, you don't need anything else. Remember? No, you don't need an iShuffle. No. Stop!" People, I'm not made of stone. It's not easy to walk away from safety. But I'm dying for the chance to do it, just the same. So, as Vedder might say, here's to more memorable days:
"Sorry is the fool who trades his soul for a corvette
Thinks he'll get the girl, he'll only get the mechanic.
What's missing? He's living a day he'll soon forget."

Thursday, January 27, 2005

I worry over situations I know will be all right, it's just overkill

Maybe things really are turned a bit upside down in Australia, because yesterday, Marat Safin, the most temperamental, borderline maniacal tennis player around these days (really, he makes the Mac look like a completely docile sweetie) beat Swiss wunderkind, Roger Federer in a 4 and 1/2 hour brawl. This after Federer had made such short work of Agassi that he could only respond with this:
"He just outplayed me," Agassi said. "He was too good. I would suggest to his next opponent that he doesn't look to me for advice."
Most upsetting part of all of this: Roddick may be poised to win the Australian Open. That is a bitter pill for me to swallow.

Activation energy barriers are on my mind just now: the immense amount of energy that you have to put in to make something happen. It feels very Sisyphusian on some levels, because, when you're pushing yourself up that hill, you can't see what happens when you've reached the peak. And you've lost your bearings, so you don't know exactly how much further you must go. All you can do is push, keep pushing, and that feels futile. Just a year ago, I was at the bottom of that hill, the very bottom. But I had summitted something even then- I had cleared the activation energy barrier that it takes to even start the first climb. I just wish I knew how close to the top I am now.

Random tangent of the day: Is it just me or are there are a lot of similarities between the story of Mirabai and Breaking the Waves? I mean, except for the whole trampiness in the film... I think there's some sort of strange link between them that I haven't fully understood yet. Or maybe I'm just talking out of the wrong orifice again. The fact that I find that film rather romantic is a clear sign that there's something a bit wonky in my inner fabric.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

don't mean to push, but I'm being shoved

I knew that sports coverage and dissing Sheryl Crow were not the only reasons I read Jeff Johnson's blog- he's posted a link to Jin's diss of Hot 97 here. Or you could find it through Sepia Mutiny. Even though he openly despises the Patriots, Jeff is a-okay in my book.

The Hot 97 situation, NPR's coverage of the Condi confirmation, and my workplace have me thinking about accountability. I must hear that word multiple times every single day. People only seem to talk about accountability when they're looking for someone to blame. And I understand that on some level. When it comes to making a decision, people always assume that someone else has the final say, that someone else is holding the power. But when it comes down to who is ultimately accountable, it's not quite so neat as the buck stops here. It would be nice if it was, and to a certain extent, it must hold true that the person who has the final say should always bear a large part of the responsibility when things go wrong. On the other hand, so many people really have a say in what happens. The advertisers of Hot 97 say they don't condone the morning show, but they obviously didn't make it explicit that it was unacceptable. The programmer at Hot 97 has probably also come out and said the views expressed on the morning show are not shared by the rest of Hot 97. And yes, the morning show was taken off the air, albeit briefly. But the fact remains, every single one of them was accountable. If you were involved in any way, you were accountable to some degree.

That's why I have a problem with people whose reaction to this sort of thing is- oh, why don't you just ignore it? They're just trying to get a rise out of you, and you shouldn't give them the satisfaction. I can't stomach that, because it is, in effect, ignoring your own power. Anyone offended by the broadcast is accountable too, to be heard and to make it clear that this type of insensitivity is not acceptable. Gandhi was non-violent, but not passive!

Sigh. A N N A details it much, much better here (all I have to say is, for the first time in the many months since I offloaded my decrepit but cherished Toyota, I feel good about having let it go). My insides churn a little in the knowledge that, as a Northeast corridor resident, I used to listen to Hot 97 rather regularly back in the day.


My friend Imaye in college used to often refer to things as jejune. He used this word in reference to things that could not be defined, or were even a little mind-blowing. I think he was going for je ne sais quois, since jejune is actually an adjective referring to things that are dull (I think). He was an odd sort of a guy, the kind of guy who would memorize your social security number so that he could report your test scores to you before you had a chance to check them yourself. Most disturbingly, he went on to get a degree in law. I can only imagine the havoc he is wreaking with that kind of knowledge.

It's a bit je ne sais quois, though, that the absence of one friend can cause an imbalance in your very being. I realized that after S delivered the cease-whiner upon me. I haven't needed such a smackdown in ages, and I had to consider why I was in the throes of woe is me. I've concluded that I miss my dearest of all friends W, who lives very far away these days. We have not spoken in many months. We exchanged quick emails over the holidays, but it felt like we were both throwing information at each other, rather than participating in a real exchange. I miss the talking, the goofiness of our talks, and the manner in which we both have this unswerving faith that good things are in store for each other. When you've known someone for ten of the most formative years of your sentient life, you can actually believe in that faith.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

once you were in my rearview mirror

I just ate the most stale Triscuit ever. I must be really hungry.

Last night, I did something I've avoided for about six months now. I deleted all answering machine messages from Q. I don't know why I had held onto them for so long. I have two or three messages from a friend who lives in Europe, because they're long and rambling and charming, just like him, and it makes me feel like he's closer by when I listen to them. I have a drunken message from A on New Year's Eve, screaming raucously at 9pm PST. It amuses on some level, so I haven't trashed that one either. But I don't know what compelled me to keep these Q messages. Whenever his voice has gotten as far as saying "Hey" on the message, my finger rushes to push past the message. My stomach turns, and I get something akin to an asthma attack. So yesterday, I finally gave myself the beatdown I needed, the voice inside my head yelling there is no reason for this crap to still be on your machine, press delete, press delete, press delete... what did I say??!!?? What did I just say to you?!? Press delete, damnit.

It was an interesting change. Usually, when I'm feeling down in the dumps about one thing in life, I like to wallow in all of the other things that have gone awry. So my natural inclination should have been to listen to the answering machine on repeat, or worse yet, call (cringe) Q for another round of blues. But last night, my friend S gave me the emotional kick in the pants I needed. I was dumbfounded by disappointment last night, I was musing to S about how dumbfounded I was, and she was not having any of it. Even though it's some times nice when friends coddle me and give me the old pat on the back, it's equally nice and, more importantly, essential that good friends get fed up and give me a stern cease-whiner. S was not allowing for any defeatist 'tude last night. She was relentless with her lack of pity, and I am the better for it. I don't need a lot of friends. I just need a few tough ones, like S.

In completely unrelated news, this flagrant display of bullshit bad taste and racism makes my head want to explode. To quote REM and KRS-One: "DJ SUCKS!".

Monday, January 24, 2005

dead end world

Call the police, there's a madman around. Yes, I'm posting twice in a day. That probably means I won't post again for the rest of the week, if the verbal vomit that is my blogging is a zero sum game. Which, of course, it is not, since you, poor readers, always lose!

I got some more bad news today, again. Sigh. I know this is part of a process, that I have no choice but to carry on and see the whole process through its natural progression. But it feels gutwrenching. And for the record, what I'm talking about has nothing to do with men or arranged marriages or any such thing. If it was, I'd allow myself to wallow a lot more about things. But somehow, this feels more important, more momentous, more life altering. And the scary part is, what if it is, but in the wrong way? I've been looking for change, but what if the change is something catastrophic?? What if this turns out to be the moment where life became a big disappointment? I go down this path, the inevitable path towards freaking-out-dom, and then I hear my friend A's voice going "dude, calm down, stop freaking out."

And he's right, he's right, I know he's right (TM Carrie Fisher from When Harry Met Sally).

On the other hand, putting the bad news aside, today has been one of those days that feel very energizing. I'm putting together a presentation for work, and this has suddenly driven me. That's because I'm at the conceptual/research part of the presentation, rather than the powerpoint/cursing at my computer screen part of the presentation. Still, I do love a good hunting expedition. Ferreting out information and then watching as the facts line up to form a theme, a punchline to a story. When it works out at its best, the story writes itself. It's simply a matter of harnessing all the information into something bite-sized, something digestible. And when I get that right, I feel a sense of accomplishment more than anything else that comes along with my job. The only problem is, these are the sorts of presentations that I don't really get paid for. I do them because they're educational for both me and the people with whom I work. But they aren't really part of my job description. When the favorite part of your job is the stuff you're not officially supposed to be doing, you know you're in trouble.

In other news, Maria Full of Grace is a kick ass movie, albeit rather disturbing in some parts.

In other other news, I find it really disturbing that the state where I currently reside can not supply clean drinking water to all of its towns. Shouldn't the state have some accountability here? Or am I on crazy pills?

all my rivals will see what I have in store

Sorry, Cowher. I actually like you a lot. But I love my team more. I apologize, really. Okay, not really... you always have next year, man. Conversation between me and my friend A during the game yesterday, right as they were heading into the half:
Me: Actually, I'm worried. We're killing them. They're going to go into the locker room and Cowher is going to rip them a new one.
A: Yeah, that's true. Man, he is going to go off on them.
Me: I know... he looks like that crazy, grouchy uncle who is one step away from losing his cool with his kids.
A: I bet they hauled stuff into the locker room just so he can break it.
Me: Yep, he's going to be throwing some stuff, that's for sure. And then the Steelers are going to be all fired up in the 3rd.
A: Bellichick would be doing that too.
Me: Except that we're winning. So Bellichick is just going to say "don't get too comfy, girls." I'm freaking out, dude.
A: Dude, calm down, we're up... by a lot of points.
Me: I know, but you know me.
A: I know, you're always freaking out. It's like, pick a topic, watch her freak out about it.
Me: By the way, Brady needs to stop rocking the mullet.
A: I know- in general, if hair is creeping out of your helmet, it's a bad sign.
Also, Troy Brown is my effing hero. I hope they doubled his salary, because the dude has been playing both defense and offense. And then of course, there's the man that A praises more than anything in this world: Adam Vinatieri. Why? The guy is 33, people. That's like a senior citizen by football terms. He's 33, and he just tied the record for longest field goal on Steelers' territory by any player. Take that, you little punks.

Yes, I'm a little ridiculous about football. Even though the Pats were the most heartbreaking team in the league at the time, football was still a prevalent game in our house. Strangely, watching sports was very popular in my house. My father and mother both enjoy watching basketball. But football is all about my dad. My mom doesn't really get it; I think it's not fast-paced enough for her. So, she'll watch for a bit, but then she'll decide that there is laundry to do, or something to fry in the kitchen, and lose interest in the game. But when football was on in our house, that would be the only time I would see my father on the weekend sitting still, really relaxing. And as a child, I would sit beside him, while he would explain how the game worked. And why it was absolutely essential that we should dislike the Dolphins. You know, that sort of thing. As it turns out, my father equipped me with a weapon of mass deception. In graduate school, where I was one of three women in my class, I had a secret ticket into the boys' club. It's okay if you don't like the same teams, it's just important that you can speak somewhat intelligibly on the subject. In fact, a little rivalry can be a good thing. To that end, sorry McNabb, this isn't going to be that year for you. At least you made it to the big show this time.

It is funny, though, to read my formerly local papers and their coverage of the game. They are so clearly biased that it's nearly hilarious- evidence can be found here. It's no wonder so many people despise Boston fans, including this guy, towards whom I bear no ill will.

For non-NFL'ers... I'll post something where I'm not speaking in tongues later.

Friday, January 21, 2005

now I walk around the city, just waiting to come to

It's rare that I have dreams that I remember upon waking. Like haze, the dream usually burns off in my mind in the morning. Of course, not so today. I had a dream that I was back in my hometown, walking through an open-air shopping market (which, incidentally, doesn't exist- in my dream, my hometown had become a lot cooler and Montreal-esque). I stopped in a clothing store, and as I was picking through a pile of sweaters, I noticed a woman looking over at me with disdain and then... she threw a rock at me! The first rock was a small one, the smooth kind that you might use to skip on a pond. But she kept at it, and the stones were getting progressively larger. So, in this bizarro version of my hometown, I marched up to her and yelled at her. The woman's younger sister came by and tried to usher the woman away. But I wouldn't let up. I wanted an apology. I wanted her to understand that it was not okay to go around throwing rocks at people. She laughed it off, until I threatened to sue her. She said "you're not hurt." I told her I would sue her for mental distress (in the real world, there's no way I would have come up with such a clever comeback on the fly). The woman's younger sister got nervous at that point and forced the woman to apologize. I woke up and the dream was vivid in my recollection, but I'll be damned if I can interpret anything from it.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

if you think about it too much

A must-listen is the new Chemical Brothers' Galvanize, featuring none other than Q-Tip. You can watch the video or listen to the audio at their site. Q is my hero, and the Chemical Brothers seem to complement him quite well. My friend Abs once met him in NYC, and he gave her a big bear hug. I melted when I heard that story, but I would have been like Amelie watching Nino had I actually heard him utter a word in person, with that voice of his. Anyway, seems particularly apt considering today is the day of the inauguration of he whose name must not be uttered on this blog.

Seriously, though, I was tempted to go on a rant about the need to focus on grassroots efforts and how not spending a damn dime is going to be completely ineffective. But I can't do that eloquently. And, I don't want to be someone adding to empty rhetoric. So, I shall refrain, until I have a plan. Yes, that is an incredibly lofty thing to write. And yes, it is also completely against the theme of Galvanize:
Don't hold back!
Because if you think about it, so many people do to be cool and look smarter.
Well, it wouldn't be a first, me contradicting myself. I contend that politics will make hypocrites of us all, though. My cousin K is the most kick-ass person I know. She has two degrees that revolve around improving the world, and she has worked for NGOs and other non-profits. And she told me over vacation last month that the answer is to work within the system. She said that, after years of being a firebrand, she feels it's counterproductive, and the most likely way to really create progress is to beat them at their own game. I'm inclined to agree.

Case in point- I really loved a recent Daily Show episode that featured a bit of Jim Wallis talking about how the right has hijacked religion. Now, though I'm not Christian, and have really big idealogical issues with the injection of religion in political discourse, I really like what he had to say. Which, basically, was that, if you do count Christianity into your political beliefs, shouldn't you be focused on alleviating poverty, helping the sick, the homeless, the children, preaching tolerance, and not waging war? I don't know. I thought he had a better chance of getting a right-wing conservative to his side than the Not one damn dime movement ever could.

For the record, I'm not spending any money today. But then again, that's just because I'm too busy, so I'm having trouble giving myself credit for being some kind of rebel with a cause for this behavior.

Random tangent of the day: one of my coworkers brought in her baby to work today, and I was forced to pretend that said baby was cute. All babies are not created equal, people. And yes, if I was very religious, I would certainly be struck by lightning for this remark- the baby was so not cute. I felt like I was in an episode of Seinfeld. "Oh the baby, you have to see the baby!"

Random tangent #2: Paging Simon Cowell- every guy I know begs to differ vehemently with you-
"She's not sexy, she hasn't got a great body and she's not a great singer."
-- "American Idol" judge SIMON COWELL, on singer BEYONCE KNOWLES, in Esquire magazine.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

keep it down now, voices carry

There are moments where life really feels like it could be a sitcom, aren't there? There's the time in second grade when my teacher could not pronounce my name, and then, sighing, asked if I wouldn't mind if she just called me "Mary." I'm still surprised that I said I did, in fact, mind; I was so young, growing up in EBF Central, and should have been so tempted to assimilate. But the sitcom moment came later, when I went home and told my dad about this little incident. His response? He marched into my second grade class a week later, tacked an oversized map of India on top of the chalkboard, and proceeded to lecture the class on Indian history, culture, tolerance etc. etc. It was one of those moments where, at that age, I wanted to be invisible, and at this age, I would have wanted to laugh hysterically at the slight insanity of it all. Yet, looking back on it, I find it so reflective of my father's approach to ignorance or prejudice. To him, it can never be that people hate- they just don't understand, as far as he is concerned. I have to say, his approach to life in that regard is rather admirable.

My father has more sitcom moments than I do. Mine are more from the narrator's perspective, observational, or at best, the straight-man in a comedy, whereas he is more the star of the show. My sitcom moment today came in the form of a higher-up at the company, in whom I foolishly confided my plans to enable a good exit strategy out of corporate hell and into a meaningful existence. We were sitting at a meeting with at least a dozen people, a meeting that was completely ineffectual, going in circles, arguing about hypothetical nonsense, basically.
Random dude: Now let's consider the scenario where A happens, B also happens. Would we then consider moving forward with C?
Me: (bewildered glance at Higher-Up signifying What are these dudes smoking?)
Higher-Up: (grins, pauses, then grins wider at me) Hey, listen (completely audible whisper), you better make sure you are out of here and in ____ before all of this plays out.
Me: Rrriiighttt. (nervous laugh, looking around room awkwardly)
Ultimately, since the higher-up in question is a bit of an eccentric, most of the people in the room looked at him like he was making some clever remark with no basis in reality. I, for one, hope he's right. Actually, he could be instrumental in making his prediction right, since he has some pull in making my plans a reality. So I had to suck up the fact that he's lacking in the discretion department.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

she used to fall down a lot

N.B.: grown women over the age of 25 should not walk into my office and bemoan the tragedy of Brad & Jen splitting up, using hackneyed phrases like "I really thought they would last." Actually, scratch that- this does not just apply to women walking into my office. Please don't bring it up over the phone, during dinner, in passing on the street either. Because, and trust me on the sincerity of this remark, I promise you that I do not care in the least. My friend A had the best reaction to this: "I didn't even know they were married." That is why he is the best, see.

Gingerbread Crackhouses must be seen to be believed. I can't even explain it, except to say that this framed a quintessential San Francisco weekend. The only non-San Francisco part of my weekend came on Sunday, when a hiking adventure went awry, and my knee started behaving oddly. Now, when I descend stairs, a sharp pain hits me right above the kneecap. Not sure what to make of that.

Yesterday, I listened to the Shins until my head nearly exploded. I think I could listen to New Slang on repeat for a solid hour, and then would only stop in order to keep myself from plunging into an amalgam of depression and wistful nostalgia. These lines keep turning over and over in my head:
I'm looking in on the good life I might be doomed never to find
Without a trust or flaming field, am I too dumb to refine?
That's the feeling that seems to haunt me constantly of late. And like someone who is haunted, I'm on the run. And when I'm on the run, I have no patience. It feels like a race against sadness, and the slightest impediment must be cleared out of the way like overgrown brush on a trail. It's dangerous, because, when I'm armed with such a scythe, friends may be cut away in the process. On the other hand, I tell myself that real friends would be beside me, facing the challenge, rather than standing facing in front of me, blocking my path.

Also: to Peyton Manning, I say "Ha ha!" (TM The Simpsons)

Saturday, January 15, 2005

what a big baby

Note to self: don't listen to early Counting Crows when upset. Bad combo.

I could write about being in the dumps, but that's really boring. Instead, I'm going to write about a night on Sixth Street in SF. I went there last night, excited and abuzz about seeing ?uestlove. My resolution to find S a man had to be put on hold last night, since she ditched me. I still needed to get out of the house, though. On my urging, I forced my friend P to get there at 9:30. I don't know what that neurose was all about- anyone who knows anything about clubbing knows that there is nothing going on at 9:30. Oh yeah... except that I don't know jack about clubbing. So, across the street we went to a very cool bar, as it turned out. Must have been kismet, because the bar wound up specializing in vodka, so we sat around drinking Charbays and Hangars, and P became a bigger vodka snob than me. The bartender was a goofball, though not at all unpleasant on the eyes. He poured P some top-shelf-ish Hangar and said "if you don't f***ing love this, I'm not Irish" with a heavy brogue. Count on me to get stuck on this point for a good minute- but I still don't understand what being Irish has to do with vodka. Is vodka big in Ireland??? Is it something to do with potatoes? Any Irish person I've ever known has known about two things to do with alcohol- whiskey and Guinness.

When we crossed the street again, back to the club, the place had picked up considerably. Unfortunately, ?uestlove was nowhere to be found, so we grooved to reggae for a while. Maybe it's from going to too many clubs in Manhattan, but I always relate reggae to 2-3 in the morning. Am I the only one? It felt very odd to be listening to it at 11. Finally, at midnight, an unmistakable silouette graced the front of the dancefloor, standing beside the other lowly DJs. ?uestlove's signature 'fro, complete with comb inserted on one side, loomed before us. But where were the drums??? I turned to P and his friend; we all three looked dismayed. Turns out he was spinning tunes. We were disappointed. I've seen ?uest drum live, and it breaks your brain with its beauty. Sigh.

Then I looked around the basement, as ?uestlove prepared to start his set. It was a cross-section of San Francisco, yuppies and scenesters, skilled dancers and completely clunky head-nodders, dancing alone, dancing with each other, multicultural. Just everything you could ever hope to want to see in San Francisco, distilled down to one steaming basement. And then ?uest came on, and it was like listening to his personal mix tape. He goes super old school, he's playing the Beasties, Tribe, and Ice Cube. He takes a break and slows it down, throws on some LL, then follows it up with Ludacris. He's all over the place, and the crowd is loving it. Upstairs, club kids are breakdancing while artists are painting. It's maelstrom... it's hangama. It's awesome.

And I think, time to stop whining.

Tonight: more SF weirdness- we're going to see a cook who performs live, who is constructing what he calls a "Gingerbread Crackhouse." What's not to love??

Friday, January 14, 2005

so much rejection with every connection I make

Yesterday, I received some bad news. The bad news that is coming my way is not arriving in one fell swoop. Instead, it descends like fog settling into a valley, ever present, ever promising rain. So the fog got a little thicker yesterday. And I know, I know very well that I should not be so discouraged. I know that I am gainfully employed. I know that, along with the bad news, a little package of a very sweet present had also arrived from my friend A. I know that I live in a great part of the country. I have never been seriously ill, nor have any of my immediate family members. I am, in countless ways, so lucky. I know all these things, but right now, I can't feel them.

Back to TS Eliot:
"and in short I was afraid"

Next post: less drama queen 'tude.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

resurfaced to the norm

So here's a ridiculous cycle that, nonetheless, seems to work for me:
  • Leave work by 6:30 in order to avoid missing tv show (incidentally, ick, ick, ick!!! [if you watch, you know what I'm talking about]), but take work home to finish later.
  • After watching one hour of television, get sucked into other tasks, like making a fried egg and cheese sandwich (I know this is not typical dinner food, but it's tasty, and some times my life is ruled by the contents of my refrigerator).
  • Consider turning on my computer to work, but notice that the first half of Much Ado about Nothing is on, and get sucked into that.
  • Wake up early this morning, get in to work at warp speed, fueled by guilt of previous evening's sloth-like behavior.
  • In a burst of productivity, with the aid of caffeine and a healthy dose of panic, bust out all work intended in an hour and a half, in the early hours of the day, before annoying colleagues start taking coffee breaks in my office.

There must be a better way. But the problem is, I'm only motivated by work about 50% of the time, which is why I'm trying real hard to be the shepherd... wait, no, that's not it- I'm trying really hard to alter the situation. Change will come, but it is rarely the change that is planned. Therein lies the rub.

Since I mentioned Much Ado about Nothing, let me just say that it is by far my most favorite Shakespeare film adaptation. Brannagh has a knack for Shakespeare in general, I suppose. I've always been a fan of this particular comedy too, because it has one of the most kick-ass Shakespearean female characters, one Beatrice, who tongue lashes men left and right. There is a kind of banter in the play that is the stuff of rom-com writers' dreams. For example:
Beatrice: I wonder that you will still be talking, Signor Benedick. Nobody marks you.
Benedick: What, my dear Lady Disdain. Are you yet living?
Beatrice: Is't possible Disdain should die whilst she hath such meet food to feed it as Signor Benedick? Courtesy itself must convert to Disdain when you come in her presence.
Also, I love that the two Romeo & Juliet-type characters (Claudio & Hero, for those playing along at home) are pegged as a bit thick. My big problem with Romeo & Juliet (and also the biggest sign that I am no longer young and naive) is that they were just so impulsive- how about holding on for five minutes before offing yourself? Sorry, but suicide is in no way romantic at the age of 14- I promise, you'll find someone else! My only issue with the film version of Much Ado about Nothing is the presence of Keanu Reeves. First of all, he's playing Denzel Washington's half-brother, which is a bit of a stretch. Secondly, even in iambic pentameter, he still sounds like a surf-boy who should be ending each line with dude. But even if you include Mr. I know Kung Fu, it's still worth the price of rental (or in this case, cable).

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

the walls are closing in, but that's okay

Naveen Andrews is calling my name, so I have to get away from this computer soon. A friend of mine snidely remarked the other day that, if I'm going to commit to this "go out more in 2005" plan, maybe I ought to lay off this Lost addiction. This from a friend who once left a party with over 500 people at it on a Saturday night to go watch Six Feet Under on DVD. I'm not attached to many shows at the moment... I think I'm allowed this one night a week to be decadent and stupid. So there.

It's getting to the point now, this looming thought of impending bad news, that I somewhat dread returning home every evening, shudder slightly as I open the mailbox. But, that's why I need to get my ass out the door more often. Speaking of which, my friend P had to point out to me that this is on Friday, not Saturday. I'm an idiot, in case that wasn't apparent yet. Luckily, I didn't have plans yet for Friday, so it all works out just fine.

Oakenfold might be a genius. I'm starting to think that might be true, because I keep hearing Starry-Eyed Surprise, and I keep thinking these are the most ridiculously inane lyrics of all time and yet I have to admit that the damn song is catchy. Years after I bought the damn Oakenfold cd, Bunkka, no less. Damn you for making me listen to anything involving Crazy town, Oakenfold. I mean, really... it's me and you like Sid & Nancy?!? And also, why are they so obsessed with butterflies?

And to continue on the random tangents, here's a little etiquette tip for workplace behavior: when you see that someone is on their way to the bathroom, do not stop them in their tracks and ask a long, drawn out question. Bad form, man- I really had to go!

Monday, January 10, 2005

somebody's gotta be there with a plan

Sunday, after a weekend of general carousing and distraction, I settled down over brunch with two friends and dolefully reflected on the fact that bad news is sure to befall me in the coming months. They sat, exchanging glances with each other, each trying to prod the other into coming up with inspirational words. Some times, I wish I was not so negative. People say that, if you're too negative, it turns into a self-fulfilling prophecy. That might be true, but some times, it's also good protection. When you want something so badly that you can palpably experience pangs of pain in your chest thinking about it, you have to think about self-preservation. You have to be realistic, and talk yourself into being okay with a negative outcome.

I don't apologize for brooding, but I do apologize for brooding around friends. There's nothing they can do, and it only makes them feel uncomfortable, to see someone they care about flailing and be without the means to throw them a life vest. Furthermore, I think brooding about the same thing for too long is a bad idea, especially when it's something largely out of my control at this point. So. I finally made a New Year's resolution. I know I won't keep it through the whole year, but I want to keep it until the bad news I'm expecting comes my way and delivers the inevitable sucker punch. I've resolved to go out far more often than I currently do. And movies and dinner do not count. To that end, I'm going to this on Saturday night. I'm just trying to be dedicated.

This resolution was also made to take one for the team, in a manner of speaking. My friend S has been down in the dumps about not meeting the one. I have to say, of all my friends who are single, she's the only one where her single-dom really boggles my mind (or not so much singledom, but the fact that she hasn't gone on a date in a long while). My conclusion has been that she just works so hard that she never gets out, because anyone who knows her thinks she should have men lined up around the corner for her. However, some of her friends have been advising her with really awful pointers like these:
  • Go on, and approach it like a part-time job, i.e. do nothing but go out on blind dates and work. My question is: if all you do is go out on blind dates and work, what are you going to talk about on your date?
  • When you meet a guy, send him an e-mail within the next 48 hours asking him if he'd like to go out some time, regardless of whether a) he has given you his e-mail, or b) he has made it clear that he would be receptive to such an offer.
  • Do not hang out with any married people, or people in relationships. If a person is not single, they're wasting your time.

I listen to this stuff and have the Zoolander I feel like I'm on crazy pills response. So, I've decided that I need to counteract this. I'm certainly no dating guru, but I know enough to know that these pointers are going to get my friend into a heap of trouble and bitterness if left unchecked. So, I'll be her "wing girl"- I will drag her out with me, and chat up potential suitors, talking up my girl. And if I make it happen, I'll brag about it until I'm 90. Just so you know.

(Note that all of the above is really just a ruse for me to feel noble about partying like it's 1999.)

Also, note to Peyton Manning: you're going down, my friend, if there is any justice in the world.

Friday, January 07, 2005

the sky is crying and it's time to go home

as sweet as tupelo honey

Proof positive that I really was a grump last night, but at least I was semi-productive. My colleague Richie Rich calls these Pepperidge Farm cookies- I think this is mostly because they have granulated sugar baked onto their tops. I brought him in a bunch of them today. My grumpiness translates to other people's obesity. Yay me.

The moment I had to accept adulthood was when I passed up a $3 drink special because it had Skyy Vodka in it instead of something better. I don't know when I became such a vodka snob. I like to rationalize it thus: my tolerance is not what it once was, so I can be pickier about my drink choices. Anyway, tonight, in the torrential downpour, I'm going to venture out and seal this week with a smooth drink, or two.

My brain is in overdrive this week, and I like it that way. I like it when it feels as though so many thoughts are pulsing through my head that there is legitimate concern that I may be forgetting to record some really useful ones. There's still an acidic pit in my stomach, ulcerating over the future, but I've stopped pondering it quite so much, which has allowed me to consider other things much more at length. The only thing about this type of wave is that I get overly ambitious. I convince myself that I should take on about twenty different things. Experience has taught me to pause and let the thoughts pass by, like standing still in the matrix for a moment. When the force of potential has ebbed a bit, I'll see what's still orbiting around me, and take it from there.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

pledge my grievance to the flag

You know, I started the day on the best possible note, because, when you drive into work and the first song that comes on the radio at random is Raspberry Beret, you're convinced you're heading in for a fantastic day. So much for that:

Clear Channel really sucks, to state the painfully obvious. If you want to know more, read Anna's explanation of the Star and BucWild fiasco, and then write a letter. Yes, write a letter, post it, and mail it out. Letters still pack more of a punch than e-mail, and, in addition, they force us to write in complete sentences, and I know I forget about that art when I post to this blog. I thought about posting the letter I wrote here, but I think it's better for everyone to write their own diatribe, since that also packs more of a punch than a form letter. Okay, I'll get off my soapbox now, but I remain peeved.

A while back, I made a list of reasons I will one day be kicked out of California, and forgot to include the biggest one of them all: I don't drink coffee, and never will. My friend A came to visit me a year ago, and rejoiced in the fact that he could walk out my door and find a coffee shop within one block in every direction from my place. Then he noted that this wonderful gift is truly wasted on me. I can't argue. Don't assume that I'm some sort of sanyasi though- I ingest plenty of caffeine. Why am I writing about all of this? Because I noticed today what an enormous pansy I am. I cut down my caffeine intake at lunch from 20 ounces to 12 ounces, and realized that I've been a mess in the afternoons because of this slight alteration in habit. Ridiculous. On the up side, I've had much less fitful sleep patterns.

A mixture of this Star business, the lack of caffeine in my bloodstream (a little reverse Morrissey there), and the fact that this is my first week back at work after a long stretch of navel gazing relaxation- has made me quite a grump today. Solution: go home and bake myself out of house and home. Hey, not like that!! I'm talking about cookies and scones. I bought some lemons at the local bodega and they have been crying out to me to be used for something in the lemon and ginger family. I like the combination of lemon and ginger in almost anything. Incidentally, the visit to the bodega gently prodded me into something I've intended to do for ages- sign up for Spanish lessons. My Spanish is for crap at the moment, yet somehow, the folks at the local bodega will always warble out "tres veintiuno, por favor" to me when I'm checking out at the register. And I'm tired of smiling dumbly at them because I can't think of any clever Spanish small talk.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

when you fall from the painting

off he goes

A lovely photo of a watercolor-in-progress from my very good friend A, who will also be hiking Machu Pichu with me before the close of 2005. Does that trip count as a resolution, even though I decided on it last year?? Anyway, A defies definition- a jock, researcher, and artist and then some all wrapped up together.

J pointed out to my dumb ass the wonders of 1980s technology, i.e. VCRs. Seemingly, this should have resolved my quandary about missing the return of Lost. J also assures me that they won't kill off Naveen Andrews... but I remain nervous- JJ Abrams has a bad history of ruining good characters, so even if he doesn't kill off Andrews, he might ruin him (which would be worse). However, I am still in a pinch here... because I just realized that the season premiere of the crappiest show I can't stop watching is two hours long. Maybe I can step the technology up a notch, and figure out how to get my VCR to keep recording for three hours.

All of this is a ruse though. I realize that. While on vacation, I realized that an active fantasy life is important. I need more escapism, more distractions, less time for these matters that with myself I too much discuss (courtesy, once again, of TS Eliot). Left to my own devices, I will allow the sense of impending doom to just swallow me whole. So instead, make a list, get it done, check it off. There's a line in About a Boy about life being more tolerable when you reduce it down to small units of time. I think that's what is necessary now. Worry about the mammoth challenge of how to have dinner with friends and watch favorite television shows rather than worry about the future of my existence on the planet and my calling in life. Bite-size victories to conquer, if you will.

Late Breaking News (for me, at least): Au revoir to the bowtie! Do we have Jon Stewart to thank for this? Apparently, one less show will be hurting America shortly. Oh, and in case you somehow missed all the fuss, here's a clip of the infamous showdown.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Take a chance, you stupid 'ho

While I am aware that this could sound completely hypocritical, I still have to rant that I can't tolerate it when someone is trying to argue with me but can't seem to form complete sentences. I know my grammar is nothing to praise, but absolutely incorrect, incoherent grammar makes my head hurt. And it's hard for me, then, to even take the other person seriously. I automatically write said person off as mentally deficient, which I know is incredibly judgmental.

True comments made in my general direction recently:
  • "You're more Indian than you initially let on"- ummm... I'm not even sure what that remark means. And just how does one respond to such a ridiculous statement? It reminds me of these discussions I used to have with a FOB roommate in grad school. We'd start talking about identity politics, and she'd roll her eyes and say "look, I'm Indian, I don't have to prove that to anyone. It's pretty obvious when you look at me."
  • "Have you ever seen the movie Bend it like Beckham?" This one, taken out of context, seems harmless. But, it came from someone who was interviewing me in a place where at least two brown bloggers can be found. If I had been posed that question in the boonies, it would have been a different matter entirely. But in this particular situation, I couldn't help but ponder what planet she was from while trying to gracefully answer her question.

Well, just to prove how Indian I am (ha!), I was thinking last night about the word hichkichaana. Hindi words really can be exceptionally beautiful, although it should be noted that Gujarati insults are much more colorful and plentiful (big props to Mom for "sharing" them all with me over the years!). Hichkichaana means hesitation. Or- what you waiting, what you waiting, what you waiting for- as Gwen would say. Apparently, she's done with her Indian fetish and is on to exoticizing Japanese girls. Yay. Anyway, I picked up the word hichkichaana over vacation, and it keeps turning over in my head. Why is there so much hesitation? Why can't I just clench my fists and barrel towards things with unswerving resolve? My father says when I was a baby, I was so excited at the discovery that my legs could be used to walk, that I ran... straight into walls. Maybe it's a lifetime of that- excitement followed by a flat smack with reality- that gives me pause nowadays.

Not that I'm not headed straight for the sheetrock again. It's just that, now, given experience, I'm bracing for the impact.

Monday, January 03, 2005

and the meaning, it gets left behind

I've given it some thought now, and have decided where my money is going, and it's going here, for reasons too banal for me to post at the moment. Though they have owned up to receiving enough funding for relief in SE Asia, I just think of it as a wake-up call, that there are organizations out there doing good, that need general support. The thing that worries me most about all regions that were effected by the tsunamis now is the matter of clean water. Lack of clean water can have a devastating effect on a population, and is often overlooked as critical in the road to recovery from these types of disasters. And SOBs, as much as I want to hate my current place of employment, and Sandra Bullock for that matter, they both donated heavily to the Red Cross. So, as Ali G would dutifully acknowledge, Respekt.

For some reason, perhaps because it's the beginning of the year and everyone seems to be making plans and resolutions, I was thinking of this phase I went through some years back. Basically, it was my conquer the fear phase of life. I went to lengths in the name of overcoming my timidity. I took lessons and passed the motorcycle driving test just because the idea of riding a bike by myself seemed thoroughly insane. My friend B and I flew a tiny Cessna in the OC (,bitch- I don't know what it is, but I can't say or write the word OC without following it up with bitch, sorry). On the day that turbine tests get the Kennebec River into a particular frenzy, I went whitewater rafting. If I was out with my friends, and one was eyeing a guy, I would go up to the guy and ask him if he would like to meet my friend. Basically, anything that might have given me pause, anything that scared me whatsoever, I ran towards, open-armed, determined to embrace.

Yeah, it was a little insane, but it was also healthy, I think. When you grow up thinking the biggest risk in the world is coming home 30 minutes late after an illicit date, some perspective is in order. On the other hand, I was thinking today about how the conquer the fear bug has become something of a pasttime nowadays. I started to think about how so many people go bungee jumping or hop out of a plane on the weekends... and it made me realize I kind of got over all of that somehow. I worry that, if I lingered in that phase of mine, I might have continually done all these extracurricular "bond"-ly things, but I wouldn't have looked at the things I really need to consider. Fear: I'm scared to jump out of a plane. Solution: I jumped out of a plane. Outcome: I win. But that's really simplistic. The true fears are a lot more difficult to conquer. For example, fear: It's too late to do something meaningful. Solution: Try. Try again, then try once more and harder. Try from a different angle, try with a new arsenal. Keep trying. Outcome: Uncertain. Not quite as tidy. But the thing is, I have to admit, I'd rather be doing that than starring in my own personal version of Fear Factor.

Quandary of the day (which made me remember that there was this coworker whose name was Jo Qwan, and we always referred to said coworker as the Qwan-dary... because we are idiots with little mirth to fill our dull lives): I'm supposed to meet up with friends for dinner on Wednesday evening. But that means missing Lost and the season premiere of the crappiest show that I can't stop watching. I was tempted to try to reschedule the dinner. Except, I have this really strict rule about not cancelling social events based on an effin' television show. Naveen, please don't die, that's all I'm asking.

Bond move of the day (and yeah, I am just going to keep using the word bond until it catches): I invited my friends to brunch at my shoddy little apartment on Sunday, even though the apartment is currently in a state of complete and utter disarray. A December filled with the flu, gift wrapping, packing, mailing, and traveling will do that to you... or me, as the case may be. Oh well, I figure this will be a nice way to force myself to clean the place up. Also, I think my friends were starting to suspect that I actually lived in my car, since I have evaded all attempts to enter my abode heretofore.

I have to come full circle, and just end with these lines, which say so much, and so much better than I ever could:
the ocean is full because everyone's crying
the full moon is looking for friends at high tide
the sorrow grows bigger when the sorrow's denied
I only know my mind
I am mine
and the meaning, it gets left behind
all the innocents lost at one time
significant behind the eyes
there's no need to hide
we're safe tonight

Sunday, January 02, 2005

may we all have our hopes, our will to try

Some times I think Sundays are the only thing that keep me from going over to the "dark side of the moon" (I'm quoting not just the Pink Floyd tune, but a line from Love the Hard Way, an extremely disturbing and yet somehow sincere film). Sundays are like a reset button in my life. No matter how disheveled it all gets, no matter how little I've accomplished over time, Sunday arrives and announces itself, demands to be acknowledged. Sunday evenings are a pinnacle of that effect. There are things to be done for the coming week, and they are ticked off like clockwork, like steps to a dance. It's like developing obsessive-compulsive behavior for a few hours.

After a long vacation, I get like this towards the end, aimless, wandering. It doesn't help that a new year has arrived in the meanwhile as well. I always start out a new year with a great sense of hope. But even though 2004 was not a crappy year for me personally, it seems to have been a piss poor year for the world, and so I haven't felt particularly nostalgic this year about the final days passing away. Nor have I felt particularly confident that things will get better this year. But there's always hope, right?

Like so many in the blogosphere, I'm not into resolutions. I have lots of hopes, but not much in the way of resolutions. 2005 feels like a year that could be fantastic or could be utterly gut-wrenching, depending on how it plays out. My future rests on the head of a pin, in so many ways. I have, in the past, been so averse to risk. Some of it must stem from being Gujurati, or so I like to think. The smallest chances felt like I was daring the unthinkable. But I was thinking today about the concept of activation energy, because, in so many ways, I will always be a chemistry dork, no matter how far I stray away from it in my daily grind. Activation energy, or even, when you think about DNA, the idea of cooperative effects, which, in some ways involves activation energy too. I'm babbling. Okay, the thing about DNA is that it's a helix made up of base pairs that essentially zip up. This happens because one set of base pairs match up. That first base pair requires a lot of energy. It's momentous. But then, after that, the rest of the base pairs link up almost without coaxing, like their fates were suddenly revealed to them, and they stopped trying to resist. Some times, I'm thinking about how powerful it is to be looking for that first base with which to pair. Other times, I wish I was in the cooperative effect part of the situation, just plugging along, everything falling into place. Why are human beings like that? We live in a world so ruled by chaos, entropy always wins, and yet all we ever seem to seek is order. And worse yet, when we've finally found order, our own personal streak of entropy seems to nag at us, begging to give in to another round of chaos. But to get back to my original point, from which I've meandered beyond reason, I know, it's funny how, after the first big risk I took worked out and the world did not fall apart around me, every risk I've considered since then hasn't felt so unthinkable.

Ah, lovely to start off the new year with a truly unintelligible post... maybe that should be my resolution- to write posts that don't seem like they originated from someone who has a weak grasp of the English language.

Oh, and yes, I did quote ABBA in my title... so there!