Monday, February 28, 2005

easily amused

This line is going to lose something because of context, but too bad, I'm going for it. On Saturday night, I was at P & J's with my teen cousin and her friend, who are visiting from out of town. My brother and P were getting ready to ditch me and the teenagers to hit Dhamaal, gentlemen that they are. Thanks for ditching me with the youngsters, jerks. Anyway, P emerges from his bedroom dressed in a velour track suit. Suddenly, I wasn't so depressed about being left behind to hang with the teeniacs. P and I got into an argument about the color of his tracksuit. Everyone thought it was grey, purple, or brown. Then, this happened:
    Me: I'm pretty sure it's grey, P.
    P: You are all blind. It's definitely black.
    Me: It's definitely not black.
    P: J, isn't this black?
    J: Sure. It's black, like Michael Jackson.
I know, easy shot, right? But it should be noted that J is Brazilian and has a thick accent. The reference came out of nowhere, and J uttered it casually while lounging on a hammock. I was doubled over.

This morning, I was trying not to wake the teeniacs, who are here all week. That meant no NPR this morning for me. I'm such a creature of habit. I suddenly felt quite disconnected. I'm really not sure what the latest news is, except that Leonardo DiCraprio did not win an Oscar, so I can continue to breathe easy. But I did read something this morning that gave credence to all my whinging about my former 5-year exile in New Jersey: NY times says suburbia might be bad for your health. Granted, the study has plenty of confounding factors, so maybe you can't read too much into it. All the same, given that I already think suburban living can suck your soul dry, this was just further evidence that I will continue to stay away.

In a meeting today, the discussion was getting heated and decidedly technical, so much so that my brain was starting to melt from not being able to decipher the particulars of what the hell two dudes were arguing about. Then some jackass interrupts and says, "Maybe we should vote on it." I gave him the smackdown, but it was just an obvious example of the problem with all-encompassing democracy- a good 70% of the people at the meeting didn't know jack about the issue at hand, and frankly, I'd be fearful of giving them (or me) a vote in this sort of situation. And then I think of the government, and I shudder to think.

Full circle- fun way to waste time with 16-year olds: take them to karaoke, let them sing along to P.I.M.P until they suddenly realize what they're singing, are thoroughly horrified, and squeal with disgust. Less fun way to waste time with 16-year olds: lose $10 to them in a game of Texas Hold 'Em. Yes, I am a really bad cousin.

Friday, February 25, 2005

sitting watching wind blow, watching time go, watching cars go by

As much as I make fun of my workplace, I have to cop to my own embarassing moment of the day. I was at a meeting, and was giving a presentation, and hooked up my laptop to the LCD to project some slides. Because I am an idiot, I had forgotten that I had the The English Beat's greatest hits cd on my drive. I had also conveniently forgotten the title of the greatest hits cd. So, there I am, projecting my desktop to the room, when the icon for the cd come up. Why is that embarassing, you ask? Blown up to 10X, up for the world to see, was a cd icon with the words BEAT THIS! announcing themselves. Awesome. Next week, my blog will be reporting from an undisclosed location, also known as the unemployment line.

The past 24 hours have been rather in the comedy of errors vein, minus the comedy in a few instances. It started out nicely- Mer and I had a great dinner in downtown Palo Alto. Apparently, you can't get good shawerma in Santa Barbara, so Mer was gobbling up everything in sight at the Middle Eastern restaurant we chose. Mer tried in vain to explain what she is trying to accomplish at the Stanford synchotron. She's exhibiting true researcher phenotype- difficulty explaining her work from a birds' eye view. That's okay- I find that rather charming, truth be told. The restaurant was serving lukewarm mint & sage tea, which may not sound good, but it was actually irresistible. I drank something like five cups. That seemed like a mistake at the time.

After taking leave of Palo Alto, I got on 280 to head home. On the drive home, I was musing over the use of articles to describe highways/freeways. Is this an east coast/west coast thing? Mer was calling 280 the 280, just as SoCal'ers are prone to saying the 405, or even the 101. I never think to use articles for roads, and I wonder if this has to do with growing up in the Northeast. We never called it the 128 or the 95- although I did occasionally call it effing 95 mothereffer. And I definitely said the goddamn parkway on occasion when I was driving into NYC.

These kinds of pointless thoughts were ambling through my mind when suddenly I see a cluster of brakelights up ahead. Son of a...! I slow down, then I stop. Then I notice that we are not moving. Then people start turning their cars off. No way! It's 11 pm at this point. People start to get out of their cars to stretch their legs, make small talk, try to find out what has happened.

Forty-five minutes later. Let me repeat- forty-five minutes later. And thank the middle eastern princes of that restaurant because that tea kept me from falling asleep. One by one, row by row, the lights came back on, and the freeway started moving again. Since I refused to rubberneck at that point, I can't report what actually happened that caused this parking lot, but I'm sure it wasn't good.

I got home, and, well, am I alone on this, or is it impossible to go home and fall asleep immediately? I'm just not capable of it (well, ahem...unless alcohol is involved). I decided it was instead necessary to watch Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon on Letterman, arguing with each other about the use of steroids in baseball. I can't remember which of them said it, but one throws out "Baseball loves cheating." And Letterman pounces on it and announces that should be the new slogan for baseball. And then they all rag on Canseco. And I wonder why I am still awake.

And then I had an 8 am meeting this morning, and there was another accident at 7 am, this time on city streets. And my cousin is flying into Oak-town at midnight. Serenity now! And keeping in the Seinfeldian vein, I think I just wrote a post about nothing.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

I said hallelujah to the sixteen loyal fans

For the few that read the comments on this blog, you'll note that I am full of bull. And for the few that read this blog, you'll note that the above number is likely a large stretch of poetic license.

Mer has been on a quest for the holy PhD's of all PhD's for years now. Her PhD adventures have gone in fits and starts, unlike mine, which went in fits and then a quick no thanks, I'll take a master's for $500, Alex. I didn't know this, but apparently, in order to get some time at the Stanford synchotron labs, you have to reserve your spot farther in advance than if you were trying to get a table at the French Laundry. All for a chance to spend some time with a laser to characterize a protein... or something. Mer finally got her hot date, and drove 7 hours to get up to Palo Alto today. Why does this matter? Two reasons- 1) it matters to me, because it means I get to see her. This is something unfortunate I've realized about adulthood. Friendship becomes not so much about making time to visit each other, taking that time to make that trip especially for someone. The realities of life prevent that. They instead become about seizing opportunities, making the effort when presented with a chance.

Oh yeah, and the other reason- it gives me an excuse to rant about a movie that I loathe- The Medicine Man. Let me count the ways I hate thee:
  • Oh I know, we'll make a movie about how science is ruining the rainforest, and the "natives" can be a cuddly, humorous backdrop.
  • Melfi, er, Lorraine Bracco shoots a syringe of a mish-mosh of material into what she calls a portable gas chromatograph, and the output is distinguishable peaks of various different compounds, AND a computer that is able to determine which of the compounds are already known to man, and can analyze the one unknown substance to determine the chemical structure of the molecule. WTF?!? Thanks for boiling down an effing life's worth of natural products' chemistry and the art of structure elucidation into a five-minute computerized assay. Can Hollywood please send that technology over to me? Because you've got the looks, I've got the brains, let's make lots of money (sorry, got a little carried away there).
  • The same HAL9000 tells us that the compound can't be synthesized by man. Again, let me repeat, WTF?!? Can't be synthesized by man?? Do you know that there are organic chemistry professors who scour obscure journals for oddly structured molecules, just so they can prove they can make them? OH, but I guess that would be a problematic plothole considering you plan to position the evil drug companies as wanting to hack away the rainforest for harvesting purposes. Dude, drug companies are evil in so many better ways than this.
  • Sean Connery. In a ponytail. As a scientist. ????????
I haven't actually seen the movie in years, or this list could have gone on for much longer, I'm sure. I'm offended on behalf of my friend Mer, who's been patiently waiting for months for a spot at the Synchotron, when all she really needed was a bimbo from the Bronx with a portable PhD-generator.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

and what that means, I don't know

Just listened to some of the new Doves album... my reaction was a decided meh. Deflating, because there was a time when their Lost Souls album was playing from start to finish on my stereo, constantly. Every once in a while, you find a perfectly crafted album, not necessarily filled with radio-friendly hits, but just so well put together that it truly flows. Lost Souls is like that, so fluid that I've often thought to myself, shouldn't I be in a drunken or drug-induced stupor to get the full experience of listening to this?.

McSweeney's has a great little essay about U2's One Tree Hill. I like what it gets at, the experience of listening to a song, and momentarily feeling as though it completely encapsulates your life and has been written specifically for you. My most vivid recollection of such a song, such a moment, goes back to my teens, listening to The Replacements I'll be you. Man, that song still brings about all the ennui of my youth, of growing up in suburbia, the memory of feeling displaced in a place where I was born and raised. Feeling simultaneously a sense of urgency that things had to change and a sense that I was too young, too dumb, too naive to really change anything. Immaturity contributing to the discomfort of my own skin, yearning to be someone else, if only for a minute. It was all there in that song, in Westerberg's voice grinding like a blender filled with anger and weariness. He was my partner in crime, the one that understood, the one elbowing me in the ribs, saying:
If it's a temporary lull
Why'm I bored right out of my skull?
If only someone had grabbed my hand then and said hurry up, we're running in our last race. As it turned out, Westerberg just gave me a soundtrack, and I did it by myself, but in the way I do things. Running without looking towards the horizon. Running smack into walls.

But hey, I don't live in the boondocks anymore, so if I'm going to brood about something, this should not be the topic du jour.

I know I should probably leave this to people who understand the technical aspects of this better than I do, but I just can't help myself. The NYT had an absolutely beautifully written piece yesterday on a star that decided to get the f*** out of dodge. The piece is teeming with metaphors designed to make the story more digestible to your average moron like me. Usually, I find this condescending, but I couldn't begrudge the writer in this case, because it reminded me of one of my eccentric science professors in college trying to explain something truly abstract. This is the first star that's ever been detected leaving our galaxy, supposedly. But then Overbye starts writing about a hypothesis regarding a black hole, and it's the kind of thing that makes a nerd like me giddy:
"The outcast star's trail, the astronomers say, leads straight back to the center of the galaxy, where, astronomers have long suspected, there dwells a giant black hole, several million solar masses worth of gravitational oblivion, gobbling all that comes its way.

In the fullness of cosmic time, if the universe keeps expanding, many of the stars in the Milky Way, or their burned-out cinders, will eventually feed this beast, cosmologists say. But under certain circumstances a star can be diverted at high speed from a close miss with a black hole, like a stone in a slingshot, according to a calculation by Dr. Jack Hills of the Los Alamos National Laboratory in 1988.

If a pair of stars orbiting each other pass close to a black hole, enormous tidal forces could rip the two apart, sending one into the maw and the other out into space with renewed vigor."
Ever since I read that, I started to feel a little sorry for the poor star, the poor widower. The star lost its partner and was banished from the Milky Way all at once, the poor dude. And yes, I call everything and everyone dude. Blame it on California, DUDE.

In other news, I'd just like to voice my support for Maddox's attack on the drones who have contributed to the increase in Pinot Noir sales. Thanks, jerks, you've ruined a perfectly decent wine for the rest of us. Why do I suspect I won't be able to order a glass or bottle of pinot for here on out without someone asking "Have you seen Sideways?" And for the record- there's nothing wrong with a good merlot.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

and you hunger for the time

Oh crikey, talk about your girlie behavior- some evil coworker came into my office and dropped off a chocolate frosted brownie and I took it. Dude, at 5pm though? How's a person supposed to resist that? (best Kyle voice) You bastards! Worst part? I ate the whole mother-loving thing, and now, it's like there's a brick in my stomach. Oh, thanks, that feels great. It's going to feel even better when I run for three miles later tonight.

In other news, I've been using my POM bottle as a water bottle, and it is completely confusing the hell out of people. Best reaction? A woman who asked me "How did they get all the color out of the pomegranate juice?" File it under I can't make this crap up.

Am I on crazy pills, or did Bono just get nominated for a Nobel? Well slap a pair of oversized sunglasses on me and send me to Congress. You know... I am wistful for old U2. I miss them, man. Really. Random tangent: my brother & I call one of my cousins Sanjay, bloody Sanjay- and yes, we are dorks.

Am I on crazier pills, or did a poll just say 6 out of 10 people think the US is ready for a leader who is a woman? Which 10 people did they poll? Why do I not believe it? And could the Democratic party please light themselves on fire and dance? Because that's about the same thing as considering Hillary Rodham Clinton as a candidate for President. Dude, you guys couldn't get Kerry elected, and he's harmless, uncontroversial, and his opponent was a foolio. Hillary won't get elected. Is it because she's a woman? Not really. It's because she's unlikable. Sorry, but it's true. You want to put a President in the office? You need charisma, baby. Because, to quote my man Jules, personality goes a long way. Really, the women cited in the poll as potential candidates were laughable:
  • Clinton- see reasons cited above, including tendency of people to refer to her as that cold bitch from NYC
  • Condi- come on, seriously. Who are you kidding? You've got a double whammy- double minority status. And you've also got the unlikable thing going against you. And the fact that you appear to be George's toadie.
  • Elizabeth Dole- it was over for you when Bob started to appear in Viagra ads.
This is more evidence of why I hate the media, and polls. You can get them to tell you anything you really want to hear. Would I like to see a woman as president? Sure, why not? Do I know of any women who could run and win? Not just now. Hell, I don't even know of any men who could run and win, right now. I know, I know, I'm a hater.

You know why else I'm a hater? Because I'm kind of celebrating a little at the news that Blink-182 is on indefinite hiatus. One less boy band-that makes fun of girlier boy bands out there. Although Maroon 5 make Blink seem as punk as Fugazi.

Since I was on the topic of Bob Dole and those Viagra ads, sort of... man, they are really taking all that DTC advertising way too far. If we're going to complain about seeing Janet Jackson's nipple, then watching old people make creepy schmoopy eyes at each other deserves filing a grievance or two. Luckily, it looks like some pressure may be applied to get the FDA to crack down on this. Which basically means the FDA will be forced to do its job. Gee, I think I'm going to try to use that excuse the next time I fall behind at work- sorry, no one got on my case about this every hour, so I figured I could just surf the net for the day. Isn't that some kind of Costanza logic?

Monday, February 21, 2005

you can watch yourself while you are eating

It's amazing what dinner and a few bottles of wine with friends will do for quelling the rage. Preparing the meal is a calming act in and of itself. The walk to the bodegas to get the proper vegetables in the balmy morning, the afternoon spent chopping vegetables, hands smelling of garlic and ginger, the sweeping of the floors to make the place semi-presentable to guests. I also played the English Beat's greatest hits while making dinner, and that is enough to put anyone in a good mood.

J & P were the main guests for dinner last night. J had just returned from traveling through Southeast Asia for a whopping two months, and brought me back a beautiful green silk scarf from Laos. It should be noted that I'm usually no fan of this particular green, kind of a mix between grassy green and lime (as you can see, I've never worked at J. Crew). But there was no denying its beauty in this particular case, and the thought was superbly touching, considering I do not know J that well. Sweet gesture. P brought over a bottle of wine beause he predicted I would only have two-buck chuck on hand. He brought over a Meridian 2001 Cabernet Sauvignon that was okay. But I then produced a bottle of Stone Creek Cabernet Sauvignon that I bought in 1997. Amazingly, the wine had not gone bad over the years. I had been meaning to open this bottle of wine for a while, but kept waiting for a special occasion. However, after watching Sideways (and since I'm on rage control, I won't complain about my problems with that movie- accentuate the positive), I realized that opening the bottle was the special occasion.

Today was a strange day, filled with good intentions that never translated into action. All of yesterday's productivity transformed to complete inertia today. I called my parents to wish them a happy anniversary. Even when I feel I ought to worry about my parents, they put me in my place upon speaking to them. They're like 24-hour party people. They celebrated their anniversary all weekend long, with people throwing them parties every night, and the whole nine. It's odd. I've always rebelled against my parents' socialite tendencies, and yet, I can see the advantage in their case. It's nice to know that, even though I am 3000 miles away, there are people, people by the dozens, who would help my parents in a heartbeat if need be. I've been thinking about the aging process a lot lately. Because it's easy, at this point in my life, with little apparent responsibilities, to behave as though I have not a care in the world, to make decisions about my life in a vacuum. But the fact is, the aging process is a cycle. Your parents take care of you, and then eventually, you take care of your parents. And the longer I take to wander and meander, the longer my parents are on their own. At some point, reality will crash in and force me to get my act together. In the meanwhile, introspection and navel gazing continues in full force.

Hunter S. Thompson passed away today from a self-inflicted gun wound. When I was 21, a guy I was dating gave me A Generation of Swine, and it was as though I suddenly opened my eyes to a whole different way of telling stories, of experiencing story telling. So many times, reading his work/ramblings translated to sifting for moments of brilliance in otherwise incoherence, but it was worth it for those hidden gems. For example, Jeff Johnson interviewed him for Vice's Hate list, and that was pretty good. Thompson lived the sort of lifestyle that is perfect for a movie character, but seemed thoroughly unsustainable in real life. Which is why today's news did not come as an utter shock, though it's sad.

Uggh... am I dreading a return to my working week...

Saturday, February 19, 2005

she could play pretend, she could join the game

Rage, rage, go away. Oh yeah, and the rain can go take a hike as well.

I feel I am constantly managing internal explosions, because, already slightly simmering about the Harvard President's remarks about women in science, I got home late last night, turned on the television to welcome a new season of Bill Maher, and finally realized that I can't watch this guy anymore. Though I've often disagreed with him before, he's made legitimate points about the war on Iraq, the elections, Democrats, Republicans. Politics, in short. But, holy toledo, is he a misogynist. It's not the first time I realized this. It's the first time that it hit me so close to home that I just couldn't handle watching him anymore. To Bill Maher, I say:
  • Thanks for deciding to address this idea of women not being as capable in science and mathematics with a panel of solely XY's... I mean, unless you count Robin Williams under "other." It's a sad day when Robin Williams has to come to my defense.
  • Thanks for taking Dr. Nancy Hopkins to task for her departure from Dr. Summer's lecture, citing that Hopkins said she felt sick and that she might black out due to the President's remarks. Do I think Hopkins is girly? Yes. Would I roll my eyes at her if I heard her say something like this? Absolutely. Does it mean she is any less capable at conducting research on insertional mutagenesis in zebrafish? No, mother-effer, it does not. Emotion and scientific knowledge need not be mutually exclusive.
  • Are you still sore over last season, when Dr. Bernadine Healy, a woman, I might add, and a White House adviser, advised you to attend medical school because of your incorrect assumptions regarding the ills of drugs?
Look, I have no problem with someone stating an opinion that women may not be able to succeed in science. I have no problem with discourse on the notion that many women may not be able to balance their desire to have a family with the 80+ hour weeks that are required to become a tenured professor. Even though I think Dr. Summer forgot his decaf, as Salil pointed out, I don't have a problem with his concerns or questions. But I do have a problem with people that take this a step further, like Maher, and shrug and basically say "yeah, we do the hunting, they do the gathering." That's some old school b.s. right there.

But there's no point in going in circles on this. Salil pointed out that, of course, there are differences in innate capabilities. But will there ever be data that conclusively show that women, on the whole, are just not as intellectually capable at science and mathematics, baby-making tendencies and "Math Is Hard" Barbie's aside? I don't know. And if that is true, that there is a real trend there, isn't it even ten times more important to make sure that those women who do have an aptitude for science are given the same opportunities as men of their caliber?

Am I sensitive about this topic? Obviously a little too much. I think I need to make a pact with myself to stop writing about this. I get too fever-pitched about it, and then I start resembling a crazy person from crazy land.

Speaking of Bez-erkely, I went to see a fantastic one-woman show last night, called Bridge & Tunnel. It's in workshops here and will be moving to Broadway in Manhattan in the fall. It was heavy-handed in parts, but mostly, it was quite amazing to see one woman transform herself into so many different characters so adeptly. The characters almost seemed to occupy her. Also, one Australian character had the funniest lines I've heard in a while:
"You're like second-hand smoke
You seem harmless, but you're killing me."
Dudes, I just hope I have that quote handy when I encounter someone who needs to be told that, because that shit is hilarious. The Bezerkeley-ites almost ruined the show at a few points- they're prone to cheering and hooting and hollering in a way that a New York audience would just never consider. I'm actually quite fond of Berkeley, though I like to kid around about its extremist nature. Maybe you need to be an extremist to really make things happen. Or perhaps that is how I like to explain away my inability to enable change.

Friday, February 18, 2005

your rule of thumb makes me worry some

every indian kitchen cupboard in the world?

Okay, is it just my family, or does every Indian mom have a cupboard that resembles this to some extent? I'm always curious, though- where in the world do they get all those glass containers? Because I know my aunt did not buy them. Homey don't play that, for sure. My brother and I were visiting some family over the holidays last year, and we took one look at this pantry and knew it had to be documented. Maybe I will take a picture of my pantry soon, and you can see how badly I have veered away from the aunties of my ancestry. It's scary.

I got something annoying in the mail yesterday. I can describe it as follows- imagine if every guy you approached in a bar turned you down, and this creepy old dude that was clearly stoned out of his mind and slurring all of his words kept tapping you on the shoulder and asking you out. Something like that. Sorry. I'm not trying to be coy. All the details will follow, in time. But it's one of those things that you need to post either as an entire chapter, fully explained and narrated, or only as vagueness. And since the chapter is unfinished, it feels like the story would lack something right now.

The door to my apartment has two locks, and it is always very obvious when someone else has entered the apartment, because they don't turn the bottom lock into the same position as I do. When I got home last night, sure enough, tampered bottom lock. I figured it was my landlord- he has been calling me to tell me that he thinks I might be forgetting to turn the sink faucet off all the way. He tells me this because, beneath my apartment, in the hallway, there is an occasional leak through the ceiling. He never seems to notice that this leak always springs up when it is raining outside, and at no other time. Nope, instead, he always thinks it's me and my crazy water antics. The last time he left me a message about this, I left him a note in return telling him he could come check the apartment out to make sure I was not turning the place into an aquarium, and while he was at it, maybe he could fix the radiator, since I haven't had real heat in my apartment for, oh, a year. Of course, I didn't write anything so clever as that. He's really quite a nice old man. Evidenced by the fact that, when I returned home last night, awaiting me was a toasty warm radiator, almost fully functioning. It will never be completely functioning, because it is from the land before time. But it works well enough now that I don't have to turn on two space heaters to keep my apartment tolerable. And that was enough to cause my evening to end on a pleasant note.

I want to write a diatribe about COX-2 inhibitors, the congress passing tort reform legislation, and the asshat at Harvard who says women may just not be cut out for science, but it all makes me so angry that I lose my ability to string words together into a sentence.

On a happier note, the new Chuck Prophet single, Pin a Rose on Me? Sweet serenity.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

the most beautiful boogie man

Okay, I missed Naveen again last night, but this time, at least it wasn't because I was gnashing my teeth on a powerpoint presentation. Dudes, Mos Def, with Blackalicious opening... need I say more? Too bad, you know I will. That was a nice antidote to the additional bad news waiting for me when I got home last night. A called me last night before the show and was telling me about some show reenacting chinese water torture; I told him I think this periodic disappointment that keeps getting delivered my way is a pretty good model for that.

Sure, I'm only half awake right now, and allergies are still having their way with me. V and I took public transportation to Berkeley, and the place was mobbed with little scenesters. But believe me, none of that mattered once we got to the venue. I can't write intelligently about this, so I will just note the following:
  • Blackalicious seemed amused by the Berkeley crowd. They got the young ones to sing the alphabet. The alphabet. I am reminded of a Steve Harvey moment, about his disdain for rappers that force the audience to call back- he's like "How come, after you've spent money for a ticket, these rappers are always asking you to jump around and clap and do all the work?" I kind of agree, especially if they're trying to make you sing the alphabet. I like to think Blackalicious were just being subversive about it, so that I don't begrudge them this odd call & response.
  • Mos Def... sigh. He came out with about fifteen layers of clothes. It was fun for me, since I was practicing my spanish. "Mos Def lleva una chaqueta negra, y una sudadera, y una camiseta de manga corta, y una camiseta sin manga..." I joked to V that Mos Def seemed to be staging a strip show. At one point during the show, he was taking a t-shirt off while rapping, got it only halfway off, and proceeded to continue to rap while walking around with the shirt on as if it was a straightjacket. Did I love him more for that? Yes.
  • Mos Def seemed genuinely shocked by the number of people that showed up on a weeknight to see him. That was odd to me, because he's rather revered in these parts, and he seems to be getting a lot of public attention lately with all his film work. He pulled a real crowd pleaser when he started walking down the main aisle shaking hands. Those small gestures go a long way in my book. Just acknowledging that outpouring of joy, accepting it, instead of being aloof or acting entitled. I don't know... again, lack of sleep + allergies = incohorence.
  • Best musical moments? A tie between Mos singing a stanza of A Very Good Year (a Sinatra tune) and Mos sending up Snoop with a complete reinterpretation of Drop it like it's hot. Says he to Snoop: "maybe that ice is making your ear numb." Ah... I love me some good-natured ribbing.
  • Close Edge from Mos Def's new album is awesome. If you watch the Chappelle Show, you might have caught Dave driving Mos around NYC while Mos put this one down.
  • About a million pictures were taken at this show- a sea of cell phones struggling to document the moment. Did I? Come on... you've seen my phone.
Well, the bad news keeps coming my way, but at least there are things that buffer it, like this show. Yes, it's like putting up a wall of sand when the ocean is coming your way, sure to overwhelm you, but you have to put up something. It's human nature to keep trying, I suppose, however futile the attempt.

Besides, how disappointed should one be when there is the possibility of meeting a couple of mutinous bloggers, in NYC no less, in but a few weeks?

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

thoughts arrive like butterflies

Dogwoods are in bloom all over the city. These are particularly beautiful on a grey day, on a rainy day, even when the rain forces the petals down to the ground. Even the most rundown streets can suddenly seem idyllic. How I would love to wax poetically about the dogwoods, but alas, this signal of the impending spring brings with it, once the rain has ceased some, allergies from the netherworld. Yes... it's not that I'm insane and therefore unintelligible, it's just that I can't think straight thanks to the pollen wreaking havoc with my immune system.

Immune systems are odd things. The best ever anthropomorphic demonstration of the immune system can be viewed in The Fantastic Voyage, when a white blood cell attacks what it views to be a foreign object. The immune system is the most bigoted mechanism known to man- if it's foreign, kill it, baby, that's the immune system's motto. Sadly, like man himself, the immune system has flaws, mistakes in wiring. Mine stupidly believes dogwood pollen wants to hurt me, and the war that follows compromises me, because all of my energy gets diverted to this worthless cause instead of things of a more useful nature, like thinking, and breathing properly. Maybe our government could take a lesson from the mistakes of the immune system, and think about whether we're attacking the right problems. Just a thought.

Spanish class continues to amuse. This time, we were asked to describe Madonna. When we ran out of descriptors, and had exhausted a review of what she was wearing, a clever fellow in class offered "La Isla Bonita?" El profesor was confused. I keep waiting for him to have a meltdown at some of my classmates who refuse to do any preparation prior to class and just yell out "Stupid gringos!" He's a small, sprightly man, which is why I think it would be hilarious if he threw a napoleonic fit at us. No such luck. But there's always next class.

Another Office Space moment today- a coworker says "We'll have to flush out the details of that." Really, dude? Because I'm not going to the toilet for work. That's where I draw the line.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

I need a raincoat

Falling over you is the news of the day...first, from NPR this morning, I learned:
  • Kidnapping is apparently quite a lucrative pasttime in Bihar. That was a disturbing way to start my day, let me tell you.
  • FOX apparently feels badly enough about their depiction of Muslims to do a little PSA with Kiefer Sutherland, but not badly enough to actually change their plot. Of course, I don't watch this show, so I don't really know much about how they are handling everything.
  • Umm... dude, maybe I should try to get fired. Because Carly Fiorina? Nice severance package, babe. I hope you put some of that package towards good security, because I'd imagine there are some pissed off former HP employees who were let go thanks to you, and probably didn't get such nice parting prizes.
  • Neither a trust fund nor a ban on asbestos-related lawsuits is acceptable to me. I think the thing that ticked me off the most about this story is that the head of RPM was complaining that a lot of his workers are not visibly sick at present, but are still considering placing claims against RPM, and wah that's not fair. Um... ass-holio? Asbestos has long-term effects. Go read a science book, and learn about how asbestos is implicated in 70-80% of all mesothelioma cases... yes, the big C, my friend. And then, all the other lung problems it causes. Sorry, but if we had this kind of government in the days of Sinclair Lewis, we'd all still be living like The Jungle.

Also, Jeff Johnson's take on the Christo's gates in NYC... the same goes double for me.

Oh, do I not seem as chipper as I was yesterday? Well, I've run out of POM, it's raining relentlessly, and I got more bad news last night, which dashed my otherwise pleasant demeanor. So I'm back to the norm, disgruntled, dissatisfied, uncertain.

Random off-topic wonderful craziness that happens at work- direct quote from a coworker at a meeting: "Let me take a back-stab at this."

Oh, also, you know what's awesome on Valentine's day? Getting a lecture from your cousin, who is 10 years your junior, about the need to settle down and get married. I didn't know whether to laugh or get angry, truly surreal.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Don't let them change you or rearrange you

One year for Christmas, I bought my brother the Bob Marley box set. Quite pleased with myself for finally identifying a gift that my brother would relish, I overlooked the repercussions. Two weeks in December of non-stop reggae is wrong, people. My brother was in his low rage-control phase at that point as well, so there was no way to switch the music without a knock down, drag out disaster. However, I was always thrilled to hear Could you be loved, because a) it's one of the few upbeat, really bouncy tunes in a sea of mellow mellow tunes, and b) I want to hug everyone when I hear this song.

Incidentally, if I ever stop smiling at the silliness of Oh L'Amour by Erasure, I'll know I have officially grown old and bitter. Please put me out of my misery if that happens, by the way.

In honor of today, I really wanted to post a picture of my favorite beverage of the moment, but my camera died this morning, so no such luck. However, dudes, have you ever tried Pom? Not only is it quite tasty and healthy, it's incredibly fun to say and is sold in possibly the most attractive bottle. What can I say, I'm a sucker for packaging. In December, when I was visiting my cousins, we bought Pom in a ridiculous gargantuan Whole Foods in Texas... because everything really is bigger there. We mixed it with vodka, and were forever using the word Pom whenever possible- if you put enough of an Indian accent, it starts to sound like a biological function of some kind.

I don't know. I'm in a silly mood. It's another one of those days where I feel quite like an alien. I am not lovey-dovey, not swooning. Nor am I bitter. Nor am I numb. There are things about which to brood, perhaps, but I am not inclined to do so today. Most peculiar. It's probably the Pom. A weird dichotomy- to be so dissatisfied by the large matters in life, and yet to get pure joy out of something as slight as a pleasantly shaped bottle of pomegranate juice.

Friday, February 11, 2005

I was just guessing at numbers and figures

The title of this post should read: In which I celebrate and bemoan science.

Not really, because when have I ever been able to write a post on one, focused topic? Let me see... that was back in... never.

However, the LA Times reports today that scientists have figured out how to determine the true color of the ocean. I know, I know, that just seems like some kitschy basic-science type of nonsense that makes you scratch your head and wonder why research dollars went to such an endeavour. Well, bitches, that's because news headlines are always about sensationalism. What's important about this breakthough is that it will now be possible to measure changes in phytoplankton levels in the ocean.

Can I just say that I love phytoplankton? These little bitty things that exhale oxygen. I have a tendency to be very anthropomorphic. So I always picture these plankton vigorously blowing little bubbles of oxygen out as they travel around the ocean, just as I always picture trees snoring carbon dioxide at night. Yes, I'm a dork. At any rate, I love the concept of these tiny organisms that collectively are the lungs of the ocean, and in turn the world. Measuring phytoplankton growth may also seem like an exercise in whatever-ness to some, but given the role of phytoplankton in the ecosystem of the ocean, scientists will be better able to understand the effects of pollution and climate change on the ocean.

So why would I bemoan something so admittedly cool? Perhaps bemoan is not the right word. I get really amped when I read about things like this. But then I read this:
One of the trickiest parts of measuring this, said David Siegel, a UC Santa Barbara geology professor, was correcting for brighter light bouncing back from land and the atmosphere. "The ocean isn't the brightest target," he said.

Siegel likened the project, which is being published by the journal Global Biogeochemical Cycles, to fiddling with the settings for color and brightness on a television set.

In this case, the new mathematical formula to achieve those settings took a decade to perfect
A DECADE?!? I am disheartened by the sheer labor involved. Suddenly, I imagine a graduate student, sitting in a little cube, slaving away, dishevelled and unkempt. And for every one of these successful graduate students, there are likely 5-6 working on the same thing but failing to solve the problem. Yikes. I am simultaneously impressed and depressed. I should probably note here that I was one of those graduate students once (sort of), and the futility of it all was too much for me to take. Which is why I am even more impressed by those who pursue basic research. I can see the need for it, my nature just prevents me from participating. I am an instant-gratification kind of a girl, apparently.

Because it wouldn't be a post without some random tangent- Moonlight Mile is the movie that cinched the untoward fascination I have with Jake Gyellenhall, which started with Donnie Darko. I must admit, however, that I am a complete sucker for a good soundtrack. Both the aforementioned films have excellent soundtracks. Darko's is better, but Mile's is perfect in terms of pitch and feel of the film. So, it's hard to tell if Moonlight Mile was a good movie in and of itself. General good will towards an actor + non-sucky script + above average soundtrack = happy me.

Also... if I don't get to see Born into Brothels this weekend, someone's going to pay.

And one question for the blogosphere- should I go see The Killers or will I be annoyed by all the little punk-rock kids at the show??

Thursday, February 10, 2005

blood of the lazarus heart

Should I be concerned that the first thing I read today was entitled Broken Heart Syndrome?? Sadly, this was not some self-help, Dr. Phil article. This was an article in NEJM- don't ask me why I was reading this journal, I am not a doctor (by the way, I always have this uncontrollable urge to follow that phrase with "but I play one on tv"... but hardly anyone ever gets it). Anyway, bottom-line:
"Emotional stress can precipitate severe, reversible left ventricular dysfunction in patients without coronary disease. Exaggerated sympathetic stimulation is probably central to the cause of this syndrome."
If you want to read the whole thing, you might be able to check it out here. Crikey! So, dudes, seriously, cheer up, or else...

The things I do to amuse myself at work are woefully pathetic. The latest? Last week, at lunch, my coworker Richie Rich and I were sitting at a table with a guy we'll call Blandie, because he is. We have been trying to figure out if this guy will ever show signs of life. To test him, we swiped a bottle of tabasco sauce from the table and put it in Blandie's backpack when he wasn't looking. We waited. Days passed by. Maybe a week. Our panel of scientists (me & Richie Rich) had nearly concluded that the guy was a lost cause. There were some objections on my part, namely that perhaps, rather than a lack of personality, he simply does not use his backpack very often. Just as we were getting ready to complete the experiment, Blandie showed up with the tabasco, albeit in a failed attempt to hide it in Richie's office. To that we say: "well played sir!" Ever since this incident, we have been searching for a new victim. Today, we found her. We saw her leave to go get a glass of water, and, bang, we quickly placed the travelling tabasco sauce into her tote bag. Let's see how she reacts...

Yes, I get paid for this. But yesterday I missed my beloved Naveen Andrews because I was working late, so I have to find ways to keep this job tolerable. In truth, I don't think I'm the kind of person who can do a job like this for a sustained amount of time. I'm not a believer in the work should not consume your life mantra- well, I should say, I believe in it, for some people, but not for myself. I want work to consume my life. I want to be so passionate about what I do that I would be willing to forsake all else to concentrate on it. Such a feeling is not possible with my current position. Which is why I often post manically about being in despair- what if I don't get back to doing something that I believe in? That question keeps me constantly unnerved.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

even the words they fail me

Need I disclose what was playing on the radio this morning? Note to the supposedly alternative station in my beloved city- for the love of all that is good and decent in this world, stop playing the Killers every fifteen minutes. Not just because I am going to get a ticket for speeding if you keep it up, but also so that I do not grow to hate a band I once thought was great.

I suspect any reader of my blog is going to see the following quote quite often over the next few months:
"He nice, the Jesus. He make the good things, and on the Easter we be sad because somebody makes him dead today."
Taken out of context, that must seem quite strange. It's from Me Talk Pretty One Day, in which David Sedaris relates his experiences in French class as he and his classmates desperately attempt to describe the meaning of Easter. If you haven't read this book, what are you waiting for? It will take approximately 4-5 hours to read, and there will be much laughter of the side-splitting variety in the course of your adventure.

Anyway, I mention the quote because Spanish lessons are going to have a similar comical quality to them. Unlike Sedaris' class, mine is extremely tame, and very few people attempt to say imaginative things. Doesn't matter, class still had its moments. The whole room seemed to salivate the moment my teacher held up a picture of Michael Jackson- "blanca!" (White), "delgado!" (thin), "loco!" (crazy), "raro!" (weird), "puta!" That last one was followed by an awkward silence, and me shaking my head at the supposed stud-wannabe who threw that jibe in there. Dude, the purpose of this class is not to teach you how to curse people out en espanol. The teacher seemed genuinely chagrined, but continued on, ignoring stud-wannabe.

At one point, we were asked to get up, walk around and introduce ourselves to each other. This was worse than walking up to random strangers in a bar:
    Person A: Hola, como esta?
    Person B: (long pause) Uh... bien.... y tu?
    Person A: Muy bien... uh... como te llamas? (if you're lucky. most of the time, I got como te llamo, or como me llamo, or como me llamas)
    Person B: Me llamo _____. (another awkward pause) Uh... mucho gusto.
    Person A: Uh... uh... el gusto es mio.
At that point, the two people regard each other for a long while, shrug, smile with their hands thrown up helplessly, and continue on their way. Hey, though I'm making fun of them, don't assume I was any better. I found it frustrating, because once you're through the pleasantries, you want to say more, but can't figure out how to say it. All I can say is, now I know how three-year olds feel. And why I find them annoying.

Random moment in class: during a break, an effing caucasian dude starts chatting with me about my Indian-ness, and then starts bugging me about going to temple... and why don't I go, he goes, it's great! I'm thinking to myself, mothereffer, I can't believe this effing viejo gringo is giving me a guilt trip about going to temple. Back off!

By the end of class, if I can learn how to communicate in the basics, and translate this without the use of a Spanish-English dictionary, mission accomplished:
Puedo escribir los versos mas trestes esta noche.
Yo la quise, y a veces ella tambien me quiso

- Neruda
Swoon. And ouch. Neruda is great if you're looking to come undone, incidentally. He's like the anti-Sedaris.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

rushin' around

Oh. My. God. Lately, I feel like songs get jarred into my head and will not dislodge themselves from my inner workings. It's like walking around to a soundtrack you never needed. Last week, it was a mixture of Somebody Told Me by the Killers and Take Me Out by Franz Ferdinand. I don't have a particular problem with these songs, except that my local "alternative" radio station plays them with alarming frequency. Both songs have this chorus that... ugggh! I'm walking, the beat just kicks in, and I start hearing "boyfriend...looks like a girlfriend...boyfriend...girlfriend" or "I say don't you know... you say I don't know... I say you don't show..." Make it stop!!! Okay, I take it back, I do have a problem with the Franz Ferdinand tune, because it's tired in some way I can't quite put my finger on. On the other hand, for no good reason, I just want to belt these lyrics out all the time to anyone who will dare to hear me:
It's not confidential, I've got potential
And here's another one, that just keeps wanting to be hollered:
I'm coming out of my cage, and I've been doing just fine
Gotta gotta be down, because I want it all
Damn you, Killers! In case you haven't guessed by now, the song that will not get out of my head right now is Mr. Brightside. I know there are plenty of good Killers tunes out there, so please don't give me a lecture about how I'm going for the obvious choice. There was no choosing. I was just driving down 280 last night, the pitch black highway, save my headlights and the hint, over the hills, of citylights, and I had the pedal to the metal. And why? Because a) it was late and I really wanted to get home and b) Mr. effing Brightside and Somebody effing Told Me, back to back on the FM. Do you think the cops would have gone for that excuse? "Sorry, officer, I know I should have been going 65 mph, but you see, The Killers were on the radio, and I had a hallucination that I was in a BMW commercial. Yes... I know that this car could never be mistaken in a million years for a BMW. But you see... it was the radio..." Thankfully, the traffic gods were looking down on yours truly, so I managed to escape notice.

Why was I trying to impersonate Speed Racer down 280? Well, some windfall of luck befell me and I got second row seats to a pro tennis match. Of course, it was opening night of the tourney, so I didn't see Agassi or Frat Boy, er, I mean, Roddick. But my partner in crime, Richie Rich, did get to watch Jan-Michael Gambill suffer a steady beatdown by a Korean dude with calves that were positively scary. This guy was fluid. So... Gambill is like an older, star-has-fallen version of Roddick, and plays similarly- a lot of power, little finesse. He had a ridiculous number of aces in the match. However, the Korean dude, okay, I'm going to stop calling him that- Hyung-Taik Lee is his name, dominated every time a long volley was involved.

I discovered, however, that I have no business being in the second row at a tourney. First of all, I was so excited by how great these seats were that I couldn't stop grinning. Secondly, Richie Rich and I could not stop making wisecracks throughout the game. At one point, Gambill was down 3-5, 30-40, and Lee was serving. Lee was about to let one rip, and Gambill says "hold on, sorry, just a minute" signalling to Lee that something was distracting him, and forcing him to stop mid-toss to re-serve. Richie Rich turns to me and goes "hold on, sorry, I'm about to lose the set" and I was left trying not to burst into laughter in the middle of a critical set point. As revenge, I turned to RR, pointed at one of the SAP officials, and commented "I'm pretty sure that's Grampa from the Munsters," which caused RR to lose some of the water he was sipping. We really belong in the nosebleeds.

Don't shed too many tears for Gambill, incidentally- midway through the second set, he sat down to change his shirt and the audience burst into cat calls at the sight of his abs. Classy, San Jose!

Monday, February 07, 2005

it's been no bed of roses, no pleasure cruise

Usually don't do these, but I needed something to cheer me up this morning, and Anna set the precedent, so...

You Are 25 Years Old


20-29: You are a twentysomething at heart. You feel excited about what's to come... love, work, and new experiences.

Well, I certainly didn't need that pick me up because of the Superbowl, because the Pats won. But, why is it that Michael "who?" Chiklis gets to introduce the Pats while Big Willy style gets to announce the Eagles? The Pats never get any respect! On the other hand, I thought of it as a good sign, since those two really resemble the fans of their respective teams well. Chiklis- stocky, bald man who yells 'wicked awesome!' a lot. Will Smith- someone who has started to believe his own hype. Sorry. It's not that I don't respect the Eagles, because I do. I've always liked McNabb, and I think he's going to be unfairly blamed for this loss. And even Terrell Owens, for all his showmanship, really put himself on the line yesterday and made a difference. The Eagles are definitely my favorite NFC team, and they gave the Pats a serious run. But, I've been cheering for the Pats since the days of effing Steve Grogan. And there's something about this particular Pats team that appeals to me- not a superstar in the lot, minimum egos, minimum trash-talking, all about the defense, blue collar dudes. Also, I think this is the last year they'll dominate like this, because losing Crenell is bad news bears for the Pats.

For all that measured talk, I still secretly hoped that one of the Pats would turn to the camera and yell "Suck it, Freddy Mitchell!" Or that Vrabel would suddenly turn to the Philly box and start doing the na na na na na nana- Gettin' Jiggy with It dance when he scored his TD.

Also, if you're not a Pats fan, I could see how you would want to throw up all over Tedy Bruschi. I'm a Pats fan and sometimes he's too much for me.

The only thing I learned from the commercials is this:
  • Ice Cube is the new XXX and Vin Diesel is apparently the new Ice Cube, since he's starring in some Disney movie with little kids.
  • Gruden yells at little kids... and I love him for it.
  • Watching annoying hands-free cell phone guy getting pummeled by an old lady and a convenience store clerk is fun!
P.S. Women who have been cheering for the Pats with the "Tom Brady is so cute!" rationale- you're making my brother's ears bleed, and he's sworn never to date you.

Friday, February 04, 2005

and when it fails to recoup, well, maybe, you just haven't earned it yet, baby

I wanted to rail against Sideways, but I've got much bigger fish to fry now. It should be noted that I walked into last night's sneak preview screening of Bride & Prejudice with tempered expectations, actually, no, low expectations. It should also be noted that I walked out of the screening disappointed that I lost two hours of my life that I can never get back.

Chadha is completely out of her element. In order to send up a genre, you have to really understand it. Also, you can't have everything- you can't send up Bollywood, try to adapt a Jane Austen novel, and try to create a storyline that's supposed to be heartfelt all in one film. And sorry, being amused by Nitin Ganatra doesn't cut it for comic relief (no fault of his, his character was the only thing worth watching most of the time).

Major problems, in no particular order:
  • First fifteen minutes of the film, we have our first supposedly filmi number, and it's like a watered down version of the West Side Story Cool dance-fight.
  • In those same first fifteen minutes, we have an introduction to what will become the biggest problem with this film- the lamest dialogue ever. Narration fairies are flittering throughout the first fifteen minutes, and it sucks.
  • Like Martin bloody Henderson would be meh about Aishwarya Rai. Suuurrre.
  • You know what would have been nice? If the Indian from the UK, my boy Naveen Andrews, had been the disaffected-what is this bloody spectacle I'm witnessing character instead of Martin Henderson. See Monsoon Wedding's out-of-his-element Australian dude.
  • Incidentally, why do you put my boy Naveen Andrews in a film like this, and give him absolutely nothing to do?!?
  • Aishwarya Rai is so horribly cast here. First of all, if you want to take the Austen adaptation angle, Rai is no Elizabeth Bennett, no way. Bennett's supposed to be willful and quick-witted with a razor-sharp tongue. Rai cannot pull this off in a million years, and the screenplay doesn't help her here at all. Secondly, the audience is supposed to believe that Martin Henderson's character would believe Rai is not good enough for him. WTF??? You can't cast the Most Beautiful Woman in the World, and then expect us to believe she's a spinster with few prospects simply because she's not from the best family in the world. Also, if the best that Rai can do is bag Henderson, I'm hanging it up right now, because there is no HOPE in this world for the rest of us in that case.
  • The screenplay is at odds with itself. First, it rails against Martin Henderson's character for his perception of India as exotic or traditional or other. Then, the movie completely exoticizes Rai's character. First, Rai's character doesn't care about money, then the movie lingers on Rai & Henderson getting on a helicopter. WTF #6,378?!?
  • Don't sing in English, for the love of all that is good and decent in this world?!?! Especially such awful songs. If you're going to do a musical, then your music had better be tight, and this crap is not cutting it. At. All. Throwing Ashanti in ain't helping anything, either.
  • When trying to convince me that Aishwarya Rai is a justifiable actress, it's helpful to not have her eyes red before she actually receives bad news/cries.
  • Anupam Kher, what are you doing in this nonsense? Did you sign a 2-picture deal with Chadha when you made Beckham?
  • This film makes me love the last Bollywood film I saw. And the Lucky in that movie was much fuglier and stupid than the Lucky in this one. What does that tell you?
Uggh... it's exhausting to dislike something so much. And if you loved it, and you read this, I apologize for the vitriol (except not really, because I still think it stinks). I'm going to have to wash this down with Born into Brothels followed by a chaser of Mos Def (YES... I just got tickets yesterday). Actually, I'm going to wash this down with the real thing, because it's coming on Mardi Gras, after all.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

the minor fall and the major lift

The Daily Show's Great Moments in Punditry chose a scene last night including Govindi Murty from the Liberty Film Fest, and one of the little tykes was Indian as well, which sent me into a giggle fit for some reason. And Cinequest has given Ben Kingsley a much-deserved Maverick award. That's some good stuff.

I woke up this morning with another quote from Singles running through my head. I know, such a trivial movie, but somehow certain lines seem to really stay with me. This one had again to do with Cliff, but this time he's hanging out with my boyfriend Eddie Vedder, and has just gotten a scathing review. His response: "All this negative energy just makes me stronger! We will not retreat. We are unstoppable. Tonight, this band will rock Portland." For the record, is it even possible to rock Portland? I'm just wondering. I also want to point out that, make fun of Singles if you like, but do you know who was in that movie?? None other than Pig Vomit himself, one of the best actors repeatedly snubbed by Oscar, Paul Giamatti. But I will post my take on White Men Behaving Badly another time.

What was my point? Oh yes, failure. Failure is like TS Eliot's take on ends and beginnings. Failure is inevitable. It's something like Heisenberg's uncertainty principle: his principle is, when you pare it all the way down, that you can't have it all. Something has to give. You can know an electron's momentum precisely, but then you can't be sure of its position, and vice versa. Something has to give. Failure is that way. You might fail in one thing in order to find success in another. As Kenneth Koch would write, One train may hide another. Nothing is ever over, because some seeds are always planted in every failure. So, if I fail at this current endeavour of mine, I fail. It will hurt like hell, and I will bleed tears most likely, but it will not be the end of the world, it will just be the closing of one door down a long corridor.

Oh, and shall I add to this barrage of imagery? My brain is all over the place, obviously. But I was also thinking of archaebacteria, life forms that survive smashingly under conditions generally thought to be inhabitable. Adaptation is a powerful thing. Negative energy does make you stronger- it's a biological reality. Is that much of a consolation when you're in the trough, at the lowest of the lows, suffering the mean reds? Not really. But it's true nonetheless.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

it wears me out

Given yesterday's morose post, I wish I could come up with a really upbeat post today, but I'm starting to feel like the title of a certain film.

I don't give the slightest fig about the nonsense that is the State of the Union address. I'm disillusioned, people. I'm disillusioned on many fronts, and that is a feeling that is worse than anything. Really- getting older has never troubled me. I've never been one to worry about the impending gray hairs. The physical aches that come with age will be okay by me. But, well, a very young person could feel very old when disillusionment sinks in its claws. And I am not comfortable with this emotion, just as I am not comfortable with being inured. Feeling angry and frustrated is one thing, feeling defeated is intolerable. Feeling joyful or woefully depressed is part of life, but to feel inured is to lose one's sense of life itself. This is not what I signed up for.

But it's difficult to know what to do. You grow, you learn that the idealistic visions you had in your youth have to be tempered by reality. You lose some big games that make you pause and consider the different ways a hand can be played, force you to follow each play to its inevitable outcome, ingrain in you the sense that there is a trade-off with every move you make. You can't live in a dream forever. But without any dreams, you can't live.

And then I think of the movie Singles:
Janet: Cliff, what are you talking about?
Cliff: I don't know.
I guess you had to be there. Really, my friend W said it best when, one early evening last year, over a few alcoholic beverages, he theorized that you spend your youth talking about a lot of things, coming up with lots of ideas, dreaming the big dreams, but you become a full-fledged adult when you actually start to do it, start to make things happen.

If something doesn't happen soon- no, if I can't make something happen soon, expect a meltdown shortly. Two months tops.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

no alarms and no surprises- silent silence

Thirty-seven years old is really, really far too young. I'm taking a break from the usual navel gazing, idiotic ramblings to say that Ivan Noble used writing in a way that makes me believe in the good of journals and diaries. He was so honest about his ordeal with brain cancer that it was disturbing to read, and yet really gave you a sense for how much strength it takes to handle such an illness. And Ivan, he had strength by the truckloads.

I'm lucky enough to know very few people personally who have faced such circumstances. But every one that I have known has been a powerhouse of courage. A very new friend M was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma last year. Hodgkin's is probably the most treatable cancer out there. But M's GP blew off her initial symptoms, so it wasn't caught until it was late stage. I watched over the last year. It seemed that the cancer was chipping away at her, but it was actually the treatment. The chemo and the radiation were ravaging her badly. She looked her weakest, almost a ghost, but M was actually at her strongest then, almost a superhero. And to see someone go through that, to see them lose 30-40 pounds when they were previously a 110 pounds soaking wet, to see her last month with full rosy cheeks and flowing hair down to her shoulders, that really gives you a sense for human resilience.

I know M supports as much as I do this perfect paragraph written by Ivan in his last ever diary entry:
I will end with a plea. I still have no idea why I ended up with a cancer, but plenty of other cancer patients know what made them ill.

If two or three people stop smoking as a result of anything I have ever written then the one of them who would have got cancer will live and all my scribblings will have been worthwhile.
Please, please, if you do, please stop smoking. I caught my friend E yesterday trying to sneak a smoke in the back of our company building, and annoyed him into coming inside with me without lighting up. I know it's obnoxious, I know I'm encroaching on people's civil liberties. But I can't help it, nowadays I can't stop myself from harassing people about this. Life is too fleeting to do things that are guaranteed to hurt yourself. Not to mention, one of my best friends might be standing next to you, and secondhand smoke wreaks all sorts of havoc too.

Sorry for the schmaltz. It's been that kind of a day.