Wednesday, August 31, 2005

that's right, you're not from Texas


behind my eyes I'm hiding

Is JP not a total nut? If there is any doubt, let me point out that I did not inform him that this photo was being taken for public dissemination. He just decided, of his own accord, to pose as such. Sigh- I wish we all got together for dinner more often. Last weekend, my brother had an unusual burst of motivation and decided to cook a full meal. He specifically requested the pictured cake, which is a peanut butter and chocolate chip crumb cake. My brother is something of a peanut butter fiend. When we were children, he used to get a small bowl, fill it with peanut butter, and eat it by the spoonful. Which reminds me that we should really get his cholesterol checked some time soon.

The city is falling quiet, just when I'm ready for a last hurrah, for a celebration, bitches. This is the last weekend before the next big adventure starts. After this, there is a new yellow brick road to follow. And so the calm here seems incongruous at the moment. Everyone has deserted the city for Burning Man, and it gives me a twinge of sadness that I didn't strap on the pair required to make the trip. However, as it turns out, there is next year. So nothing really to mourn.

A coworker of mine is originally from New Orleans. I drove her home last night because she missed the train, and she was not well. There were lists of people she could not contact, and the lists included some immediate family. My sense of uselessness really flares at times like this. There has been so much devastation, and, while I know there is value in it, I just feel like donating money doesn't do enough. Not that I know what would be enough. Anyway, I don't know her that well, so all I could offer were feeble words of consolation. She and I disagree about a lot of things, but it is fairly easy to set all of these things (some of which are ideologically huge) aside at moments like this.

Last night, I basically delivered the I'm just not that into you speech to the company in Texas. I left the door open, because you never know what will happen down the line. At this point, so much of my family is in Texas that it's still impossible not to consider ending up there at some point. Unfortunately, the company countered with a But why? Can't we work it out? Hmm... maybe I will have to whip out the it's not you, it's me approach.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

everything looks perfect from far away


dwelt a miner, a forty-niner

Friday and, for that matter, this entire weekend felt rather like one of those dreams that have a bunch of disconnected images passing by one after another. After spending the afternoon making sandcastles (for work, no less... hmm... maybe it's time to stop complaining about the soul-sucking work situation), and having a few highly effective vodka tonics, I got a phone call from V. He had free tickets to a 49ers exhibition game, and asked if I was interested in going. I ditched the plans I had for the evening and accepted.

Going to a 49ers game was not a foregone conclusion for me, even for free. I have always firmly held anti-49ers sentiments, and these are not likely to be swayed by remaining in San Francisco for any amount of time. Furthermore, there is the matter of actually watching a football game at a stadium. Football is one of the few sports that, from a spectator's perspective, is far more enjoyable on television than in person. Why?

  • I have always been freezing at these damn games. This stems from going to Pats games in my youth, and now from games at Monster Park, brilliantly situated in the perfect point in the Bay Area to collect all the fog and cold wind from the area. My kingdom for an indoor stadium!
  • Stupid fans. I am convinced some people attend football games for two reasons: 1) to mug for the stadium cams in a desperate attempt to get some big screen time, and 2) to stuff their faces with frightening-looking hot dogs and beer.
  • Did they make first down? Was that pass interference? What did the ref just say? Followed by looking at the big screen to see the play re-enacted. Hey... couldn't I do this at home more comfortably?

Still, all complaining aside, I decided to go because it was an exhibition game, which means it counts for nothing anyway. Further comfort could be derived from having zero stake in either team winning. I was conflicted once I got there. We went with PG, who is a die-hard Titans fan. Since PG is annoying, and I counter annoying with annoying, I felt the need to cheer for the 49ers. But this felt wrong, really wrong. In the end, I cheered for myself, when we left the stadium. Both teams were playing like they were part of an amateur league; it was painful. Apparently, according to the news, after we left, the game got interesting. I have trouble believing it.

I love NFL referee behavior though. They are always such tiny men in comparison with the behemoths running around smashing each other to pieces on the field. But there is something amusing about the way they run to their spot and yell out "Holding on number 85. Offense. Ten yard penalty. Still first down." in that stilted, gruff way that all refs do. Do they train to speak like that?

I would really love it if I could get a ref like that in real life. I can see him running in during a meeting and barking, "Comment off-topic. Fifteen-minute penalty. No talking. Restart the clock." Or better yet, I would like to serve as a ref myself. When my friends are talking about some guy who is jerking them around, I want to accompany them on a date, and interrupt their dinner with a "Vague inuendo. Offense. State your intentions. 3rd and goal."

It's probably a good thing I haven't revealed this aspiration to my friends.

In other news, every time Alanis Morrissette murders Seal's Crazy, the baby Jesus cries.

Monday, August 29, 2005

okay, here's the situation

Am I the only one that hears or reads okay, here's the situation and immediately thinks: my parents went away on a week's vacation, and...? And yes, I am a fossil. We called him The Fresh Prince back in those days, you whippersnappers, and dagnabit, we liked it that way!

Is anyone even reading this thing anymore? Is this thing on?!? If no one is reading, I have only myself to blame. Consistently inconsistent posts + coy behavior = bad blog. This time, I am going to skip to the punchline, so you do not fall asleep through the droll drumroll.

So, it was a case of you can get with this:

Or you can get with that:

And it probably comes as little surprise that I went with that. The reason, on the other hand, is not as simple as a Tex-a$$ vs. SF celebrity death match, though I may have given the appearance that such was the case, by my exuberant, overspilling smile on Friday.

Really, by Thursday night, I was decided. I took a dispassionate look at the situation, and staying here was not as desperate as it might have once seemed. I know that, to some, San Francisco and desperation might seem like oil and water. But this was not about place. This was about the job and the future and acting like a grown up. Basically, the stuff that gives me hives. The things I need to do have to be done regardless of staying here or leaving. Moreover, there is one thing I need to do that means I have to stay here; it's something I cannot do in Texas. That last point was the only point, the head of the pin on which the entire decision balanced. So I was decided, but anxious. Angst-ridden.

I had pushed the aspect of place so far out of my head that I had not thought through what the decision really meant. On Friday, I wearily plopped into my car to drive to Ocean Beach. I know what you might be thinking- smallest violin in the world, the b*tch is looking for sympathy while driving to the beach?!? Fair enough, but as I was driving towards the beach, the familiar cold, greyness appeared over Twin Peaks. Ocean Beach is, on almost any day of the year, mired in soupy fog. But I happened to be driving through the Castro to get there. The Castro was green and yellow, bright. The rainbow flag seemed brighter than usual. I watched the leisurely people strolling across the street, and an irrepressible smile settled across my face. It would not go away.

And even stranger still, an hour later, after lunch, when I actually got to the beach, an unbelievable sight waited. Days like this are rare indeed. As I played in the sand, I was knee deep in the ocean, gathering buckets of water. It was cold, but it felt warm. I was a mess, but everything seemed clear.

I realized how lucky, how very, incredibly, preciously lucky I am. When I was considering moving away, I felt a twinge of regret. So many things left to see in San Francisco, so much I loved about this city, and I would have to leave it behind, an unfinished chapter. W yelled at me once, saying he hadn't missed anything about the city after he moved away. I do not doubt it. I am not sure I would miss something about San Francisco if I left. It is the kind of city that leaves an imprint on you. It is not something you miss, rather something you take with you. I was preparing to have a long distance relationship with this city, to say farewell, to keep in touch, to hope to return, but never to return. But I don't have to do that now, not yet. And for that, I'm grateful.

None of this is coming out the way that I want to say it, the way I want to write it. The way I feel is impossible for me to articulate properly. It's just a city and I am just a girl. Maybe that is all that really matters.

Friday, August 26, 2005

friday, I'm in love

Super-duper cheeserific title, because that is just how I feel right now. Something happens and you're head over heels. I do not know how it happened, it just did. I woke up this morning and something had changed, like a room in my house had just been rearranged.

I have been quiet, oh so quiet. But now I'm absolutely cuckoo.

So, I just know. And when you smile for the camera, you know I love you better. Pictures and explanations to follow.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

never think of never

Right now, I really should be on the road, heading home, meeting up with two friends. But I am far too wired at the moment. I have wanted someone to kick me in the shins and tell me how it is, and let's just say I am buckled just now. Sure, it is lovely to have supportive friends, to have people around you who are encouraging and hyperbolically positive about you. And sure, you want to show friends the size nine's when they are negative and unsupportive and counterproductive. But, usually, what you really need in this situation is unbiased, straight talk. Though it cost me about two benjamins, that's just what I got. Now I have my decision to make, but I have a much clearer picture.

All I want to do is go home and process. I have this fantasy of sitting in a spare room, in a spare chair, just thinking. But all I have is a cluttered one-bedroom, and dinner plans, so it is time for a little reality.

There's an interesting, and surprisingly even-handed perspective in NEJM (paid registration required, I believe) on antiretroviral therapy in India and the impact of recent patent law reform in India on the availability of low-cost generic drugs. I have always developed a headache when thinking through the whole issue of generic drugs. Yes, drugs should be cheaper, and yes, in the US, when a drug is off patent, by all means the generic should be readily available and extremely low cost. (start rant) Which reminds me- some generic drug companies must be making a boatload off of loratadine (previously known as Claritin)- that sh*t is still far too expensive, even in the generic form, for someone to relieve themselves of the sniffles. (/end rant)

But when you start considering the implications of low cost generics in other countries, it gets rather complicated. Some countries don't observe patent laws, some don't have as lengthy an expiry, some just don't police it. India is a good model. The country has the brain power, infrastructure, and resources to make generic drugs reliably, and at low cost. Previously, generic pharmaceutical companies in India did not really have to worry about patent issues.

I can see how that is problematic. If Indian companies are supplying generic drugs at low cost, prior to patent expirations, pharmaceutical companies start to lose their incentive to ever develop new therapies. The beauty of the business plan of the generic drug is that the research and development has already been taken care of. So, it's all the profit, with none of the cost. That means the pharmaceutical companies, in turn, take all the cost, and significantly less profit. Aaaand there's that headache I mentioned earlier, right on cue.

That's why I was particularly comforted by this dose of sanity from the NEJM article:
"The risks posed by the TRIPs legislation to HIV-infected persons in resource-limited countries cannot be ignored, but there are solutions to this apparent conundrum. The simple fact is that we need to have it both ways. We need to encourage quality-controlled manufacturing of generic versions of current and future antiretroviral agents, since this has proved to be the most efficient way to provide large-scale treatment at hugely discounted prices. At the same time, we need to provide incentives for major pharmaceutical companies to continue to develop antiretroviral drugs for the long-term benefit of HIV-infected people globally. Protection of intellectual-property rights and tiered pricing arrangements are key elements in maintaining this commitment.

Although this paradox may seem insurmountable, there are already indications that solutions can be found. For example, some pharmaceutical firms, such as GlaxoSmithKline and Gilead, have recently made licensing arrangements with generic-drug manufacturers such as Aspen. The Food and Drug Administration has approved, under PEPFAR, several generic antiretroviral preparations for purchase and use outside the United States. Imaginative strategies focused on the long term will be needed if we are to fulfill our obligations, and solutions will require brand-name and generic pharmaceuticals to coexist and prosper. Good economic policy, in this instance, can mean equally good public health policy."
Maybe for a change, everyone can win, albeit by less of a margin.

On a completely different note, is Heart's Magic Man considered cheesy? It's hard to keep track anymore. SP tells me you can listen to all kinds of cheesy music while remaining hip as long as you "listen to it ironically." Sadly, I am so tragically unhip, I don't even understand what that means. Something about Magic Man amuses me, and yet feels me with a sense of empowerment. Which is weird, since it seems like it might be about a guy taking advantage of a significantly younger girl (or it's about drugs- because it seems like every time I think I know what a song is about, I find out it's actually about drugs). I think it's the guitar, and the naked feeling of some of the lyrics. Pretty progressive for two women, given the age. Nowadays, I guess Lil' Kim would call them a bunch of uptight conservatives.

If you really read this post, you could see that I am a perfect embodiment of why a blog is a bad thing. I need an editor to keep me even vaguely on topic. Any volunteers?

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

you take it on faith, you take it to the heart

Talk about your one-two punches: for in-flight entertainment, I managed to read all of Ha Jin's Waiting, and to watch Million Dollar Baby. When I got home from the airport, it seemed only fitting to watch the series finale of SFU. It reminded me of a day many, many years ago. I was in Newark, New Jersey for a conference. It was the first time I had really ever been in Newark outside of the airport. Everything around the conference was rundown and desolate. It just happened to be a grey day, but I wondered if it ever really could be sunny in Newark. As E and I drove by the boarded-up brownstones, through the streets where the sidewalks had periodic clusters of people huddled together, we turned and looked at each other sadly. We shrugged, and went to go watch Leaving Las Vegas. If you're going to be gripped with despair, you might as well get as much of it over in one sitting as possible.

Maybe, just maybe, I have a stalker. When I was getting ready to board the plane on Monday, HR from the interview called me on my cell phone. Then she called six times the next day- twice each to my cell phone, home phone, and work voicemail. And I had already called her back once during this craziness. Truth be told, I am partially to blame. I am trying to avoid her, to hold her off until the end of the week. Even though I might seem like I quite relish telling people to go shove it, I am actually completely uncomfortable turning down jobs. Besides which, I have not decided for sure that I am turning down this job. Let me tell you, this made for really fun conversation last night with both maisnon and SP. Since I am easily annoyed by other people's shortcomings, I try to vigilantly monitor slipping into the hypocrisy zone. I am pretty sure I am wearing everyone down with this ambivalence.

It is the first time in a long while that a decision has been so murky. I could draw up a list of advantages and disadvantages, but I lack the ability to weigh my options. There is a voice in my head that keeps saying, "you need more data." But at a certain point, there is also the law of diminishing returns to consider. You can analyze a decision from every angle, gather up all the information in the world, but there is always a level of uncertainty that can never be eliminated.

Meanwhile, time is passing by. Reading Waiting is a nice wake up call that reiterates that deceptively obvious point. It is literally the manifestation of life is what happens when you're busy making other plans. Books like this are a kind of torture. I did not necessarily love this book, but it haunts me. It crawls into the folds of my brain, and keeps recurring. It woke me up in the middle of the night: I hope I am not sleepwalking. I hope I am not waiting for something I might one day not want. Waiting articulated a notion I have always held- the act of waiting can damage desire.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

a hundred million bottles washed up on the shore


oh, inverted world

K has lived and will live in Houston for the rest of her life. As such, she always seems to be in the know of all these little, random things the city has to offer. I only spent a total of about 26 hours with her, but she still felt an obligation to show me something cool I had not previously seen. So, we jumped in her car and started driving, when all of a sudden, I jerked my neck in shock at what we were passing.

ArtLeague Houston is behind this spectacle- a house that was scheduled to be torn down as part of the ArtLeague's expansion became a temporary exhibition of sorts. Better pictures and a better write up can be found here. It is hard to explain how breathtaking this is to see, because it is the act of driving by and coming upon it that is half the brilliance. K was tickled that I had to run across the street to take pictures. I was not as tickled that certain people would not get out of the frame of my picture. Ah, well. It's the South... everything moves a bit slower. And with the stifling heat this weekend, I'm starting to understand why.

By 8:15 in the morning on Monday, when I departed for my interview, the air was already still and sweltering. The night before, there had not been a breeze, but it had cooled enough that it was pleasant to walk outside. The air had been breathable, and the humid heat even felt reminiscent of the summer evenings of my youth. That had been the night before. In the morning, with the sun blazing, the weather felt oppressive again.

Nothing particularly surprised me about my interview except for one moment, when two people were interviewing me at once. They turned to each other, shrugged, and one of them said, "Well, we hardly have any questions for you because you've got a great background. I guess the only thing I'd like to know is whether you'd be interested in working in our department if this opening doesn't pan out for some crazy reason." That gave me the warm fuzzies momentarily. Before the high fives are dispensed, I should point out that I knew, going into this, that I was lowballing it. Houston is not known for having a great pool of candidates in my particular area, and it's not like this inky dink company attracts people to leave the Bay Area every day. The main objective of yesterday's interview was to convince them that I actually wanted the job. I deserve an Oscar for that, because, truth be told, I'm still not sure I do want this job. I know the will she, won't she garbage is probably giving some people a headache by now, but there are additional data points to collect before a final conclusion can be reached. The lab report is due by Friday, I promise.

This one is for the ever awesome maisnon, because she seems a little blue of late about her need to be alone. Babe, you are not alone in your tendencies. Yes, folks, the truth is out there: the single adult household is in the majority in our country. Wow... for once in my life, I am the norm! When I called my brother to celebrate this news, he sighed and told me that it is unseemly to rejoice about such a trend. Killjoy.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

chillin' at the holidae inn

While I was waiting at baggage claim on Saturday, a loudspeaker announced where gun cases could be retrieved. Gun cases, y'all! Welcome to Texas.

Turns out the Holiday Inn does have a few perks. The first is a business suite, which, for some reason, I was given this evening when I checked in. The second is free high-speed internet access. I'm not going to say the neighborhood is causing me to do cartwheels, but all in all, there is not much cause for complaint.

Spending 24 hours with my family here was fairly amusing. Watching my aunt and uncle in their element with their friends makes me wonder what will happen to me when I'm their age. There is an ease that first generation immigrants seem to have (okay, maybe I should just base this on my experience, and say first generation Indian Gujus) when it comes to spending time in the company of others. They relish it, and they seem not to tire of each other's company. There are these mass outings of friends, and then there is the after party at someone's house. I felt this familiar sense of home as soon as I was sitting on the floor by a couch, listening to a pack of uncles and aunties exchanging stories, laughing merrily, while drinking chai at midnight. My cousin K wondered if our generation has lost this ability to sit and talk for hours. I suppose some would not mourn that loss.

One of K's uncle/aunty combinations stole the show. As soon as everyone found out I was interviewing in the area, I was the subject of the artillery shots of endless questions. I deflected most of them, since all explanations for my current situation feel so long-winded that it would have probably brought the entire mela to a halt. But the uncle/aunty combo came up with great, contradictory responses. The uncle cheerfully remarked that I could move to H-town easily with such good family around, and that he would have four men lined up to meet me upon my arrival. This, I assure you, is somehow much more comical when it's blurted out in Gujarati. The aunty narrowed her eyes at me and said, "What you want leave San Francisco for? You can't do that." The party turned on her, but the aunty defiantly held to her position. "You can move from Houston to Boston. And you can move from Boston to San Francisco. But you cannot move from San Francisco to Houston. That is just crazy." Again, much funnier in Gujarati at midnight. My cousin K was shooting deathray vision at the uncle/aunty combo, but my sides hurt from laughing.

K did take me to see something supercool, and I will post a picture of that coolness tomorrow. She is always vigilant about showing me some new facet of Houston that makes me realize that it's not just about oil and cookie-cutter houses. I'm not sure it's going to be enough to tip the scales though.

Friday, August 19, 2005

but begging's not my business

When I was driving home from work yesterday, I passed a fairly well abused red hatchback. A bumpersticker was slapped onto it that read Don't mess with a Texas woman. So I had to catch a glimpse as I was passing the heap, and sure enough, the only person inside it was a man, baby! And there's another reason San Francisco always wins.

Stereogum has a link to the Decembrists covering Up The Junction, if you want to go take a listen. I am ambivalent about it, as I am about covers in general. Some covers I absolutely adore, especially subversive ones that completely redefine the original (Paul Anka covering Soundgarden's Black Hole Sun, or really, that entire Paul Anka album, when you get right down to it). Others are sacrilegious (Amy Grant covering Joni Mitchell's Big Yellow Taxi comes to mind as particularly disturbing). Still others are like this one; they cause you to shrug your shoulders and wonder why you aren't just listening to the original. Squeeze makes me feel like I'm a teenager, and why not feel like an adolescent rather than a supposedly hip adult?

What do you get when you diss The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, Asia, and speed dating? A position as a movie reviewer for the SF Chron of course! The Chron, along with the rest of the free world, seems to have much affection for The 40-year old virgin. Anyone may know my adoration for both members of the Even Stev/phens team. I feel a sense of duty to see Carell's first leading man movie on opening night. There's just one problem, and that problem is a red state with cheap real estate and skyrocketing obesity rates.

My flight is at the crack of dawn tomorrow, and there are several things that have me completely underwhelmed about this trip:
  • Texas, August. I'll just let y'all stew over that, just like I'll be stewing tomorrow.
  • The subpar company that's interviewing me is putting me up in The Holiday Inn. I guess I should be happy that it's not Motel 6, but I really did consider just staying with my family instead of even spending an evening in the hotel.
  • I'm supposed to interview with fourteen people on Monday. That's one day, fourteen people.
  • Today, the HR buffoons who have been completely incompetent through this whole process sent me the interview schedule, and on it, it says I'm a candidate for an Assistant XX position. My current title is Senior XX position. Look, I know I probably sound like a royal jacka$$ right now. But consider the facts: I love San Francisco, the company I currently work for is 5 times as large and prestigious as the inky dink place that's interviewing me, and they've already said they'll be paying me less than what I get paid here. While I didn't care about the pay, the demotion in title seemed like the final slap that sent me over the edge.
Despite my urge to cancel the entire excursion, I am going. There is my cousin K to see, so there is a chunk of gold in a pile full of mud.

Random thought to close out the week: is it just me or can you actually feel your arteries start to clog when nibbling on a frosted Pop Tart?

Thursday, August 18, 2005

when I said I'll take it, I meant as is

Greetings from the fence. I've been sitting here for, oh, I don't know, maybe two years now. How's it going?

Strangely, I am in no particular funk today. The world is not in good shape. I used to think I was contributing in some small way to its improvement, but I soon became disillusioned, and realized I work for just another corporation. And even though it is a corporation that does help people on some level, it still has to answer to that omnipresent bottom line. Fine. But today I am grateful nonetheless.

If I had never worked in the places I have for the past several bajillion years (okay, it just feels like that long), I would never have been able to think critically about the complexity of issues that are becoming increasingly important, many of which revolve around healthcare. If I had never worked in these places, doing what I've done, I might not have ever been so sure that what I wanted was really what I wanted. Wha? That made more sense in my head than it does in typed words. Still, I am not looking up a desolate incline, thinking the fertile land lies beyond the precipice. I just now finally know.

And knowing feels like how I imagine marriage to feel. It is about reality and commitment. And yet there is still the ethereal about it, the part that is not ruled by the will, but by desire.

So, even though I still feel a sense of unsteadiness, this sense that the path is still not perfectly cleared for my journey, I can feel the forward momentum again. No matter whether I decide to do the unthinkable (IAH, suckers) or to stay here, I will not be sedentary, wringing my hands with uncertainty, by the end of this month. Come September, I will be living in an altogether different universe. That is a comforting thought.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

this broken wheel is coming undone

Some days, it feels like entropy is winning the battle against mankind. Lately, I've been feeling such a sense of despair from reading the slightest bit of news. The front page of the NYT is abominable- echoes of partition in Gaza, bombings in Iraq, plane crashes, and even what's left off the front page (i.e. the Bangladesh bombings) is not good.

It does not help, at a time like this, to have a leader who is thoroughly incapable of providing any solace to his people. The other evening, I was watching an admittedly hokey film, Miracle. Now would probably be a good time to confess that sports movies are my secret, guilty pleasure. Without fail, movies about sports suck me in and usually reduce me to tears. Hoosiers, Rudy, Rocky, Bad News Bears, Remember the Titans, hell, even The Replacements. I know this is not high-brow fare, but I will watch movies like this multiple times, especially during the NFL off-season.

Anyway, Miracle strives to be taken a little more seriously than your by-the-numbers, cliche-ridden sports film. The movie really tries to set the country's mood at the time of the Lake Placid Olympics- the energy crisis, the hanging fear of the Cold War. Around mid-movie, an actual excerpt of a Jimmy Carter speech is played. People can gripe all they want about what a crappy president Carter was- I'll always consider him the best man who served as president in my lifetime. What might have been his flaw is what I love most about him- he often just told it like it was. The portion of the speech played in Miracle perfectly encapsulated this- Carter honestly outlined how the country was suffering. And yet, he still managed to be uplifting, without seeming like he was just giving lip-service to hope.

On a day like this, when I just feel like everything is going so badly on so many fronts, I wonder if our culture has changed so much since the early 80s. Has it changed to the point that a speech like Carter's could not be made today? Or do we just have someone in the presidency who has no empathy and no ability to connect with people who are really suffering?

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

making the run to Gladewater


just a little baby phat

This is a little performance piece I like to call: brimful doesn't know whether or when to use the flash. If any of you are actually keeping count, the lemon cheesecake never was captured on film. I misplaced my camera this weekend, briefly lost in the frenzy to get rid of various fossilized clothing. What is it about destruction that feels so cathartic? Something about shoving piles of clothes into trash bags feels like freedom. For my next trick, goodbye old shoes!

The cheesecake went to JP- I visited him on Sunday in an attempt to escape from the inane drama that clouded a portion of my weekend. You would think a GBF would be a bigger drama queen than your girlfriends- but you'd be wrong. I lurve visiting JP. He only lives a handful of blocks away from me, yet I always feel like I'm entering vacation zone when I visit him. I plan to go hang out for twenty minutes, but inevitably waste hours shooting the breeze with him. This, of course, is not a complaint- I wish everywhere felt so much like home.

JP was gifted with some scones as well, because I was feeling particularly productive. I used this recipe with some modifications, including cinnamon chips and the icing. The details are only interesting to me, I'm afraid. My brother chides me for the variability of my baking. He decides he likes something I've made, but I can rarely reproduce it for him, because I am always tinkering. When he really rants about this, however, I tell him to shove it. That's the special bond of siblings.

My friend W accused me of Amelie-esque strategem-devising tendencies of late. I think he was a little annoyed that I took this as a compliment. Of course, one of those strategems has landed me on a plane to IAH on Saturday, so maybe I should learn a measure of modesty. Yee-haw. Not.

Monday, August 15, 2005

don't forget the ones who foot the bill

Some people hate stupidity. Personally, I am not a fan of it, but I usually have a certain tolerance for it, if it is accompanied by some degree of humility or self-effacing good humor. As a very MBA-savvy coworker has explained to me, "I can deal with someone who is incompetent and modest, or competent and arrogant, but there is no place for someone who is both incompetent and arrogant." Speaking of MBAs, and business jargon- it induces the gag reflex in my science-educated brain. In my office are various books with interchangeable titles like Getting to Yes and Getting Past No and Good to Great. I have no doubt that these books have their merits, but I take one look at them, and blech, the acid reflux begins. So, this synopsis regarding successful business principles made me grin from ear to ear. If you are into the MBA-speak, you'll probably take issue with the essay. Then again, if you're into the MBA-speak, the chances are rather slim that you're reading this blog.

But to get back to the point, which is all about what I really hate (nice way to start a week, don't you think?)-- what I really cannot withstand, what presses my buttons faster than anything else, what causes my patience to disintegrate like a soap bubble bursting -- the universal, but particularly unavoidable if you have two X chromosomes, drama. I know that, at times, I can probably get all maudlin and dramatic in this blog, but I condone drama in written form. Fine, have a nervous breakdown on paper for all I care. Actually, I encourage you to, because it makes for a fascinating read more often than not (though I'm certainly not hoping any of you fall apart for my voyeuristic benefit). But dramatic behavior in day-to-day living is unacceptable. I am neither fifteen nor a character in a soap opera or a WB show. May the NFL season save me from insanity!

The drama that is not worth even detailing arrived at an unfortunate hour. It was an hour of great peace and calm. I went to Fort Funston on Saturday, and walked on the beach with a friend for at least two hours. It is easy to forget, in San Francisco, how close the ocean looms, how much it has to offer. Clouds kept the sun from appearing, and a gentle breeze worked against us as we trudged in the sand. Walking that way, with shoes half in the earth, half out, feels particularly deliberate. Each step requires a little more attention; no matter how fast the pace, not much distance can be covered. And the sound of the waves crashing is like the ocean's metronome, marking time, marking the forward movement of all things. I have heard it said that looking out on the ocean can assert your insignificance. It is true, but looking out on the ocean also makes your insignificance feel okay. Your insignificance fits into the natural order of things as the footprints you leave in the sand are quickly wiped clean by the incoming tide. Nature's Etch-a-sketch, if you will.

What I always find moving, and what I ultimately found to be the best drama-antidote, is the act of embracing insignificance and being extraordinary anyway. Just because we are all insignificant, I do not hold to the notion that we are all free of responsibility to make something of ourselves. When I think of Jan T. Vilcek, I am speechless. When I think of celebrities, this is the sort of person that appears in my mind's eye. The man hid from Nazis, fled communist Czechoslovakia- chapter one, which should be enough of an accomplishment in and of itself. Then he did breakthrough research at NYU that gave him intellectual property rights to Remicade, a billion dollar drug that is used to treat rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune conditions- chapter two. Then his wife fell seriously ill- chapter three. These facts alone should make for a good, inspiring story. But here is the proverbial icing: Jan T. Vilcek announced, on Friday, his intention to donate nearly all of his fortune to the NYU medical school, an amount that will total over $105 million. You can cite that he is 72 years old, that he has no children, and whatever else you would like- it's still an unbelievable act of generosity. A large chunk of the money will go to basic research funding, which is what engaged Vilcek into discovering what would eventually become Remicade.

Now, that is the kind of drama I can stomach.

Friday, August 12, 2005

pull this string and I'll walk away

Dudes, break out the Congressional Medal of Honor. I have made it through the rain this week without inflicting harm on myself or those around me, for one thing. I have also gone all Aunty G, and set up two of mah girls on dates. B*tches, I need some good karma. While I have been toiling away at this truly tiresome task, I questioned why I was doing it besides trying to get a few steps ahead on the path to nirvana. I thought to myself: hey, it's not like these girls ever set me up with anyone. Then I remembered: oh yeah, I hit people with deathray vision when they talk for more than two minutes about dating. That got me back on track.

In my ongoing list of things I love about San Francisco, let me add the flexibility in attire requirements. A cousin who lives in Manhattan presently bemoans San Francisco's lack of attention to dressing up. He says it encourages women to dress like slobs. Did I mention that most of the men in my family are a$$hats? Anyway, I can attest to the fact that San Francisco has contributed to my dishevelled dress code. But I must point out that I think this is actually my natural state. I did force myself to don more formal (read: black) threads when I went out in NYC. However, I found that caused me undue stress. Come to think of it, my cousin used to cause me undue stress. I would walk into his penthouse apartment having femmed up as much as humanly possible (for me), and he would respond with "Is that what you're wearing out tonight?" Thanks, dude- like living with my mom for 18 years didn't cause enough scarring. It's actually ten times worse when you hear such words uttered by a man, even if he is related to you.

I think of this because I have on a pair of jeans and a sweater, and these clothes truly contribute to my happiness right now, I sh*t you not. This sweater is one of the two sweaters I brought to Peru. There is no other word for it but ugly. Truly. I'll take a picture of it and show you all just to prove it. The colors are garish. The body is variegated in such a way that it probably gives people vertigo. My brother has called it the grossest thing he's ever seen in his life. But this well-worn rag makes me so blissful right now that I refuse to change, even though I am supposed to go to some trendypants lounge in order to introduce one of the girls to her potential suitor. So, suck it, Manhattan. San Francisco is for slobs, and that's how we like it. Self-humiliating proof:



(See, now this picture is a toss-up- is it my camera skills that are crappy, or is the sweater really just this ugly? Or worst of all, is it just the inhabitant of said sweater that is the problem? You make the call.)

** Disclaimer: the views expressed herein regarding San Francisco attire do not include the Marina or Pacific Heights' neighborhood, where, I am told, fashion is a bit less forgiving.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

less concerned about fitting into the world

Okay, b*tches, and I mean that in the best possible sense of the word, Latinos Unidos Appreciation week is cerrado for business. It only gets half the week, since I can't seem to appreciate it without getting all woe is me on all y'all.

Here are some things that have kept me from going over the edge this week:

1) Message from my friend RR, excerpted in its entirety here:
Subject: Boston
Body Text: This city smells bad.

2) Excellent advice from the excellent maisnon about taking a break from hyperanalytical decision-making:
"Sounds impossible, but everytime you find your mind drifting to it, shut that shit down."

3) The TWOP Tubey Awards. Some of these are hilarious:
Best Hell Yeah! Moment of 2004-2005 Season:
Crossfire- Jon Stewart bitch slaps Tucker Carlson on his own show

Biggest WTF Moment of the 2004-2005 Season:
Alias- I am not Michael Vaughn

Most Ludicrous Plotline of the 2004-2005 Season:
Lost- Kate robs a bank to steal a little toy airplane

(and my personal favorite... this one's for you, j)
Best Performance by an Inanimate Object in the 2004-2005 Season:
The God Machine (The Daily Show)

4) I made lemon cheesecake with gingerbread crust. Pictures forthcoming.

5) An article in the NYT debunking the claim that punching a shark in the nose is a good way to stave off an attack. I had never heard this advice before to begin with, but there is a quote in the piece that had me in stitches for quite some time:
"If you miss the snout, its mouth is unfortunately very close by," said R. Aiden Martin, a zoologist and director of the Reefquest Center for Shark Research in British Columbia.

6) Abhi's love letter to samosas. My mom doesn't make very good samosas, but now that I eat them from restaurants, they are growing on me. Count on Abhi to work a Lord of the Rings reference into a piece about an Indian appetizer.

7) Last night, I was reasoning (or rationalizing) something out, and I wound up coming up with- There's only one thing worse than not pursuing something you truly want: giving up if you fail at your first attempt. This afternoon, I checked my voicemail, and W had left a message saying, "Dude, I say, go for it. If no one ever tried again after they failed once, a lot of movie producers would be out of business." See, that's why I lurve me my W.

8) Listening to Nine Inch Nails' Only- something about a song that morose and nihilistic is strangely comforting. Or absurd. Either way, it works.

9) The bomb-diggity of bombtastic commenters. Seriously.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

it's all in the past now you've forgotten

The art of losing isn't hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.
-- E. Bishop
Friends used to come in and out of my life, like a surf to the shore, rolling in, receding.

Q and I sat across from each other drinking cachaƧa straight out of coffee mugs. We had run out of words, an inevitability. We had not seen or spoken to each other in two years. There was so much and nothing to say. Q sat back listening to the music, while I surveyed the apartment. It was an illegal space. Parts of it were literally missing; if an inspector ever got his hands on the place, it would have likely been condemned. But it was painted just so, so perfectly shoddy. Just like Q, as if it was in disrepair on purpose, for effect. I felt the surge of uncoolness swell within me. It might have been the cachaƧa, but everything felt jangly, out of tune, slightly wrong.

We regarded each other; we wanted to skip this part, the part where amends should be made. Q turned his attention to the song on the stereo, then started translating it to me. It was in Portuguese, which meant I understood none of it, and Q understood it only passably. Still, I listened, as he translated it with those familiar oddly-placed pauses in his voice. For just a little while, we seemed to know each other again.



That was a year ago. The apartment has long since been vacated. It used to trouble me that friends came and went forever. I didn't realize that wouldn't always be true. There is no equilibrium now, no steady state. Time is about the balance tilting, pushing me towards one thing. I somehow failed to notice that meant it pushed me away from something else.

** I swear I'll be back to present tense, melancholy-free tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

nothing matters when we're dancing

Even though they call it Midsummer Night Swing, and I took swing dancing classes for two years, I found myself more often than not going to Lincoln Center's MNS at times when Latin music was the order of the evening.

Every time you move to a new place, an opportunity presents itself. You can reinvent yourself, you can redefine your very essence if you really like. Sure, it can be done even if you're standing still, in the same place, but the transformation is more difficult, more pronounced. When you move, you can join the Witness Protection Program for all of the perks, with few of the detriments.

So, it's another lifetime I'm remembering. It's enough to lend credence to reincarnation, because I hardly recognize myself. The excited anticipation of spilling out of the subway at Penn Station and walking with east coast speed up the streets. The hot, thick air. Walking through this city like an explorer wading through overgrown brush. And there, in the clearing, the grandiosity of Lincoln Center. The giddy, skipping heartbeat, completely foreign now.

What can be discouraging in Manhattan is that people lack hobbies. No one has a pasttime; everyone has passions. People do not dabble in things, they are classically trained. Picking up things could come naturally to you, but you still felt seriously handicapped in this city. If you were into swing dancing and had not taken a class with Frankie Manning, or spent a Sunday at the Roseland ballroom, well, then, you were just a dilettante.

But on a hot, summer night, you found you did not care. In the shroud of the setting sun, when the dance lesson was over, and the band started to warm up, you were just grateful to be a part of it. The dance floor swarmed with people, especially when a Latin band was around. And that's when you saw the magic that can never be taught in classes.

It was in the music, and yet transcended the music. Those nights, live cumbia playing in the background, an intoxication settled over everyone. You don't need a drink to loosen you up when there are such sounds pulsing through your veins, pulling your heart out of your chest, propelling you onto the dance floor. You didn't know what you were feeling. Others did. They already knew and embraced the overwhelming wave, allowed it to sweep them away. Those were the ones you wanted to watch. You marvelled, mesmerized by the way the music and the man and the woman were all perfectly entwined. You can hear it in a certain beat, the taut snap of the thread between a dancer and his or her partner.

W used to say that there is no way to mask your emotions when you're dancing, that you can't hide happiness or sadness on the dance floor. Maybe. But you also can't be sad when certain music is playing, when certain nights present themselves, when someone is perfectly connected to you. You come home with your cheeks hurting from smiling.

I wonder if I could ever be that person again.

Monday, August 08, 2005

soy una mujer sincera

In a tourist restaurant in Chivay, a band loudly played while long tables filled with variations on one theme- not from around here. A pair of Quechua locals were overdressed in ropa tipica, dancing a little too cheerfully. It was my third night in Peru.

I am not usually one for tours- I find it much more interesting to explore a place on my own, left to my own devices with a guidebook and a shoddy grasp of the language. Good adventures begin that way. Still, if you want to get to the Colca Canyon from Arequipa, you have little choice but to spring for a tour.

Arequipa rests at about ~2000 meters. By my old standards, that would have seemed like a challenge to the lungs in and of itself. But that night, in the restaurant, I experienced a waking dream of returning to the comfort of Arequipa's altitude. And Arequipa's authenticity. Arequipa seemed the gritty Lower East Side to this Chivay restaurant's Disney-fied Times Square.

Was the pounding headache a result of the additional 1900 meter elevation gain in Chivay, or of the raucous noise of the pseudo-mariachis? Hard to tell. My third day in Peru was the only one of the entire trip that I could characterize as negative. A four hour ride on unpaved roads in the back of a bus translated to bad motion sickness; a 1-mile hike at 4000 meters translated to altitude sickness. And just when I thought it could not get worse, I was shoved into what is likely the only gaudy restaurant in the tiny hamlet of Chivay.

To the left of me, an 18-year old pair of girls from the UK, from our tour, complained about the cold night air, but then remarked that they simply had to have a smoke. SP shot me a look across the table that could roughly be summed up as "oh please god, don't start in with the cancer-stick lecture." I held my tongue.

To the right of me, a pair of Danish girls complained about the food. We asked one if she didn't like this restaurant. She replied: "I hate all Peruvian food." She said this in an I'm so over everything-way that did not befit someone of such youth. She might have been the only person in the restaurant that hated the dancing, singing spectacle more than me. This did not stop her, however, from jumping up and joining the off-tempo gringos that were quickly crowding the dance floor.

Our tour guide walked around the dinner table chatting with everyone. She was desperately trying to embrace the surroundings. It reminded me of a lame field trip in elementary school, the kind where the teacher says a little too brightly with a feigned, frozen smile, "Isn't this fun, kids?" She kept complimenting the musicians. It's not that they didn't deserve these accolades; it's just that this was by no means Peruvian music. The final straw came when the guide approached us all, and told us to remember the chorus of the upcoming song, because we were all going to be asked to sing along. What was the chorus? "Guantanamera, guajira guantanamera." At this point, I actually whipped my head around to face her. Was she serious? She was.

SP was looking at me blankly. Why had I shot the death rays at our well-meaning guide? I tried to explain to her that this song in no way originated from Peru. Additionally, it's one of those songs that Spanish teachers seem to thrive on playing in class. MissionUK were back when I made this remark, and they noted that they had never heard the song. Neither had SP, although it should be pointed out that she has never taken a Spanish class. Meanwhile, I started asking people, "Really, you've never heard this song before?" I was starting to wonder who had the altitude sickness on the brain- me or my travel companions. I said, "Okay, there's also the other one- you know that 'Ay, ay, ay, ay, canta y no llore' song?" Again, blank faces.

I decided that perhaps I was making a generalization, that these were not overplayed, old-hat songs, that it was just some strange coincidence that I, personally, had heard them over and over again. And then I spent the next ten days hearing El Cielito Lindo & Guantanamera at every cheesy tourist trap place I passed during my trip.

Friday, August 05, 2005

I don't want to see the light, I just want to see the flashlight


too much junk in the trunk

This was waiting for us last night after a dinner at a fairly respectable restaurant. In all fairness, the waitstaff at the restaurant probably thought we were the owners of this truck/refuse-storage container. JP and my brother were throwing napkins at each other across the table at one point during our dinner. Please note that this restaurant had a prix fixe menu, just to give an idea of the level of formality that would be expected at such a place. Also note that my brother had not consumed a drop of alcohol. And is 29 years old. I sat on the sidelines, drinking a sharp glass of cabernet, the kind that comes back and bites you on the inside of your cheek after you think you've tasted it. PG, who had picked the restaurant, looked horrified, and entreated a hasty exit.

No one was in a good mood, and everyone was feeling a bit punchy. This, wine, and generally poor senses of humor led to the following foolishness:

JP: I had to work SO hard this week.
Bro: So what? I work hard every week. I had to work 9 hours straight today.
JP: Big deal. That's easy for you. You are straight.
After that, I made some ridiculously inappropriate remark about JP working 9 hours gay. He burst out a little creme brulee upon hearing that. I lurve JP- everyone should be so lucky to have such a fab gay boyfriend (JP doesn't know we're dating, but I figure that is okay, since our behavior could not change much even if that realization dawned on him). PG looked at all of us disapprovingly, and called us all idiots. Humorless bastard.

The general chaos of last night is a perfect reflection of the past week, though. I have this feeling that I need to figure something out, but I'm not sure exactly what. The hyper-analytical part of me is bucking wildly, begging for more data. The idea of making momentous decisions without some concrete facts does not sit well with me. Lately, it seems like talking to different people only complicates the issue further. How I yearn for blind faith. Ouch. The whinging alert just kicked in and delivered a jolt to my brain.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

all the company calls amount to one paycheck

The price I am paying for the whinging is getting barraged with work, and to-do's. Maybe that is the natural process: b*tch, slack, get swamped, become too busy to have time to complain. Rinse, lather, repeat.

Today, I was told that I "really established myself as a leader in the department in the past few months." I threw up in my mouth a little when I heard that.

I then entertained myself by fantasizing an immediate retort of, "Thanks, I'm quitting." It was an anti-emetic of sorts. I use this daydream all the time to keep myself from really going loopy at work. Every time I am at a staff meeting, and the discussion is opened up for general announcements, in my heart of hearts, I am playing out the scenario where I jump up and go, "Yes, I'd like to announce that I'm done with the checking of the bags. I just want to do what I want to do. Suck it, suckers!" Yes, even in my spare time, I like to fill my head with Ben Stiller quotes.

But really, my ultimate workplace fantasy is to get walked off the premises. I know that sounds like I've totally gone off the reservation (that was a Wedding Crashers shout-out). But I think it will mean I've really made the big time if that day ever came. Companies usually let you give two weeks' notice, gather up your things, dump incriminating files from your computer, whatever. When I quit one job, my supervisor tried to talk me into staying for three more months (my response was "I don't think you really understand the concept of quitting.") But if you're muy importante, un jeffe grande, you get the walk off (see, there's another quote- I'm not even trying!). You get two hours to pack up your things while a guard watches carefully to make sure you're not taking any non-personal items, and you get physically escorted off the premises. I have seen it happen, and it's really quite impressive. The other perk? Two weeks of paid vacation.

I guess you can get to a point where you know too much about company secrets. I'm thinking, of course, of Kai-Fu Lee. Talking about being the belle of the ball- it must be rather flattering to have Microsoft and Google's law teams battling it out on your behalf. And here's the kicker: Lee gets 12 months of paid leave from Google while he's barred by Microsoft from working for them. Gee... life sure is rough up at the top.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

which way does your antenna go

I met maisnon last night, but, in all the excitement of meeting her, completely spaced out on any photo-documentation of the event. Here is how maisnon won over my heart within five minutes of our meeting- she took it upon herself to fix my car clock, by pulling out the driver's manual from my glove compartment, and got my cell phone out of my purse to get the right time. What is not to lurve?!? Maybe you had to be there, but I found it quite fab. Now, every time I check my clock while driving, I smile to myself.

This was all a particularly nice way to meet her for the first time, because I was having one of the lousiest days in recent memory. I am losing motivation by the minute at work. The uncertainty of where I will be in two months' time has induced insomnia, which is not helping in the motivation department any. Worst of all, I had an argument with my brother about all of it right before leaving to meet maisnon that had me on the verge of slamming the phone down on him. I wish I could hurtle some insult at him, but he would not deserve it. He simply does not understand what I am talking about at times; the things that matter to us are just vastly different. Even for that, I can not fault him- some times I honestly believe his outlook is healthier than mine. He can be satisfied by living in a fantastic city, having good friends, having an income that keeps financial worries at bay. I am the malcontent. We were going in circles. He thought we were talking about the same thing, but we may as well have been two different planets orbiting around the sun with unique trajectories. Before a fiasco of massive proportions ensued, my cousin rescued me by calling on the other line, giving me an excuse to exit stage left.

At any rate, I should likely put a disclaimer on this site, forewarning folks that there may be some massive whinging for an extended period of time. I feel like I am caught between the Scylla and Charybdis. And my friend R tried to make it simple for me today, by just asking the question, "How badly do you want it?" It's the right question, but it gives me the wrong answer. A part of me is rebelling against reality, wanting to want everything, instead of wanting what I want most. If that makes any sense. In short, I do not want to leave this city. I could write it a hundred valentines, and probably have in one form or another. There are a million reasons to stay, and only one reason to go.

In the usual tangent, I had reason to smile from ear to ear the other day while listening to the radio. The DJ played a song called Two Girls from a "band out of Maine." This caused me to perk up my ears. My friend A is a Mainer, and years ago, he had dragged me to concerts all over Manhattan when a band called The Rustic Overtones were in town. Even though I rolled my eyes at him, I actually liked their music, and they were electric live. They did a cover of Sledgehammer that used to turn me to goo. I saw them at the Mercury Lounge in Manhattan, the Trocadero in Philadelphia, little venues everywhere in a 100-mile radius of New Jersey. Hey, I lived in New Jersey, I wasn't picky about my social calendar at the time. The band dissolved, just couldn't seem to find their niche, even though one of their albums even featured a guest appearance by none other than Ziggy Stardust himself, Mr. Bowie. I called A as soon as I heard this song on the radio this week, because the vocals sounded strangely familiar. A said- "that must be Paranoid Social Club." And sure enough, it was. Obviously, it's taking very little to make me giddy these days.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

we used to be friends a long time ago

MM was SLAC-ing yesterday, so I met her for dinner in Shallow Palo Alto last night. I'm having a real grrrrl power kind of week, it seems. I am energized by women who are positive and supportive, rather than catty and undercutting. I know, file that in the no duh category.

One thing I particularly love about MM is her ability to define herself and her own identity outside of her marriage. She is about to undertake a major endeavour that will take her away from her husband for ten weeks. While she acknowledges the inherent difficulties of such an arrangement, she would not consider giving up the opportunity at this point in her life.

There are so many reasons to come to the Bay Area, and that's one of the perks of living here- an endless supply of out-of-town visitors. MM is one of three friends I retain from college, and we rarely saw each other until six months ago, when the SLAC beckoned her. The world contracts on nights like yesterday evening. We sat and chatted, and our conversation was completely and wholly altered from one we might have had when we were 18 and freaking out over whatever drama we had concocted for ourselves. And yet, it all felt familiar. In fact, it felt better than familiar. There is a certain angst that shed away, a skin that was no longer ours. We had been friends through school, but there had always been something or the other pulling the thread between us taut, fraying it just so. The only two women in a major filled with men, the only two women working in the labs, we tried to be united but we were too young and too insecure. I envied her blondness and all the advantages that came with that; she envied my legitimacy, the secret handshake I seemed to have into the boys' club. The years passed, and it's not as if we changed so radically. But the anxiety and resentment dissolved away completely. We wondered why we had wasted time straining that bond between us instead of using it to defeat those who stood in our way.

It is an exhausting and angering feeling, to tell a friend bad news, knowing that they are secretly happy about it. It is an exhausting and angering feeling, to tell a friend good news, knowing that they are secretly unhappy about it. But last night, there was no trace of such a feeling to be found. We celebrated successes and consoled failures, the way we always should have. But maybe that's just the power of a good chocolate torte and a tawny port at Niebaum-Coppola.

Tonight- more grrrrl power- I'm starting to feel like Tony the Tiger.

Monday, August 01, 2005

how do you afford your rock'n'roll lifestyle?


I think it's time for me to finally introduce you to the buena, buena

The first time I met Anna, I approached her from a certain, specific angle. I was in observational mode, mentally taking notes, watching her interact with others, listening overanalytically to every word she said. That probably sounds judgmental, though that's exactly contrary to my intention. A list of things I liked about Anna was forming; I had specific actions to chronicle, demonstrating how "sparkly" (as Saheli put it rather aptly) Anna is in person. Of course, this time (mind you, the second time) I saw her, all those thoughts were out the door, never to return. If they asked me, I could write a book, but sufficed to say, Anna's mah girl. By the way, that expression mah girl was also lifted from my silly cousin S who used it in reference to Alice Walker, until she received a B on a paper analyzing her work. Now, she and Walker are apparently on the outs. The teeniac's a nutcase, but then again, it's all in the family.

Here, Anna is coveting Om Malik's cell phone/camera/mp3 player/nuclear power generator thingamajig. Yes, that Om Malik. Dude, that guy's stories had me in stitches. I would advise you not to slight him, because he will be avenged. Also, a quote on Anna: you're drawn to shiny objects. I thought that was a specifically male thing. See, only Om could get away with that.

Anna is so very Anna that by the time ads and oodles showed up, they did not believe that I really do tend towards the shy and introverted side. As Anna already noted, ads is so kung fu that she took BART from Berkeley, walked from the Powell station to North Beach, and still made it on time for the Sepia Mutiny meetup. She was also too modest about her blogs, and I regretted later not getting to speak more to her. Especially because she could have blinded me with science, and I always enjoy that. Oodles was similarly modest- she kept trying to avoid the question "what's your handle?" Now that I think of it, that sounds kind of like a pick-up line for bloggers. Let's hope it doesn't catch on. I think oodles lives in fear now that I will show up at her doorstep. I'll try to resist, but the next time I make cheesecake (which is actually fairly soon), she might be getting a special delivery.

Saheli also came from the East Bay. She is a fireball, and she will hit you with some knowledge. Actually, scratch the some part. My friend R characterizes a mutual acquaintance as the ultimate conversationalist because she has an arsenal of information to unleash on every subject. Saheli may well fall into that category.

Lest you think Om was alone in sharing the company of all these ladies, let me assure you that there was good attendance from other XY's. Vinod made an appearance even though he later had to catch a flight to the east coast. That's pretty rockstar. He does not believe I read his posts or his blog, but that's just because I am a math/techtard, and therefore never comment on his posts. It's not because he tends towards the right. Some of my closest friends over the years are Republicans. Though I am a self-proclaimed bleeding heart liberal, I can accept other points of views. Maybe it signifies that I do not hold my beliefs strongly enough, but I prefer to think of it as staying open to opposing viewpoints.

Vinod's friend G dropped in, as did SM commenter Anand and his friend, the other Vinod. So, all in all, it was nearly an even showing of women and men. Yes, that's how we roll, West Side, Sepia-style. It was pretty impressive, in my opinion.

Okay, I feel like I just wrote a Beth Lisick social-sighting column. As I described it to Om when he asked: "my blog is about nothing, seriously." More pictures and gushing about Grecco, Anna, etc tomorrow. I have to run off to meet a friend in Shallow Alto tonight. And tomorrow, if things go well, I am going to give maisnon a healthy dose of grief for missing out on all the fun. It's out-of-towner mania, I tell you.

I just realized- I have met TEN bloggers this year. My mind just exploded.