Sunday, December 31, 2006

everything I want to be comes crashing down on me

Everyone made Best Of lists to close out the year, but it has been a little too hectic for me to do anything like that. Until now. Jumbled and ridiculous, but here we go, to close out 2006:

    Best redemption of an utterly annoying song
    Goodbye, My Lover by James Blunt, saved by Steve Carell looping an audio sample of it endlessly in an episode of The Office. Which reminds me-

    Best television comedy
    The Office. Sorry, I can't give it to Ugly Betty, which is a fine show, but perhaps too sweet to be considering side-splitting comedy.

    Oxymoron song of the year
    I don't feel like dancing by The Scissor Sisters. While the song proclaims that the singer does not feel like dancing, everything about the song indicates otherwise. I dare you not to tap your foot to it.

    Jeff Buckley Hallelujah Memorial overplayed for television drama song of 2006
    How to Save a Life by The Fray. And that leads to-

    Sarah Jessica Parker Memorial Most Unlikable Lead Character of 2006
    Meredith Grey on Grey's Anatomy. And I still do not understand why so many people insist on watching this show.

    Point-Counterpoint Political Song Comparison of 2006
    Take Waiting for the World To Change by John Mayer, which basically seems to celebrate a generation's apathy and complete paralysis in the face of the major problems of the world. Now hold it up to World Wide Suicide by Pearl Jam, which features such gems as medals on a wooden mantle, next to a handsome face, that the President took for granted, writing checks that others pay. As a matter of fact, the whole of Pearl Jam's latest album spanks the John Mayer song to pieces.

    Indistinguishable Bands of 2006
    There are songs out by some dude named Matt Kearny and some band called Augustana. Both reference Boston. Neither are memorable.

    Best Throwbacks to the 90s
    Lazy Eye by Silversun Pickups- almost an homage to Smashing Pumpkins. Even better, however, was the entire new album by Band Of Horses- it's as if they listened to all of the 90s Seattle sounds, incubated it for 15 years, and then emerged with something truly inspired.

    Best Use of a Song in a Movie
    It's a tie between How it ends by DeVotchKa in Little Miss Sunshine and We Belong by Pat Benatar in Talladega Nights.

    Best M.I.A, who? Takeover of 2006
    It started out looking like it would be Lady Sovereign, but in the end, Lily Allen clinched Indie It Girl (LDN is one of the most enjoyable songs I have heard in some time).

    Biggest Fall From Grace
    One trip to India took Jeremy Piven from gold to goofball.

    Best Show Unlikely to Make it out of 2007
    There can be only one- Friday Night Lights. It could also tie with Ugly Betty for show with maximum heart.

    Best Cameos in a Music Video
    Donnie Osmond dork-dancing and Seth Green smacking his a$$ in White and Nerdy.

    Biggest surprise of the year
    The Democrats actually managing to make substantial gains in Congress, despite still not clearly articulating any kind of position or vision for improving our current predicament. I think George W. Bush deserves a tip of the hat for this one.

    Best Show (allegedly) that I have not seen
    Battlestar Galactica

    Best Movie (allegedly) that I have not seen
    The Departed (avoided due to my irrational hatred of DiCraprio, even though everyone claims they, too, loathe him but found the movie good) tied with Borat (that's the bro-seph's fault, as he made me promise to wait to see it with him, and then went ahead and watched it without me last week).

    Joni Mitchell Never Lies award
    SJM leaving SF.

    Saddest Shutdown of Blogs
    A very tough call between Abhi and J. I really do not if I will ever get over these two suspending their blog activities.

    Blogger Newcomers of the Year
    I cannot express how excited I am that Tamasha and Brooklyn Brown have started blogs. Is it a coincidence that they're both extremely interesting and Brooklynites? Hmmm...

    Bloggers I hope will be back at 100% in 2007
    LS and MR. Here's hoping 2007 will find you sharing your always wise thoughts with us.

    Best Present Received This Year
    A 12-pack of Grey Goose from B.

    Best Evidence that Anger Management classes could come in handy
    The Great BART Meltdown of 2006.

    Best Purchase of 2006
    Mini-cheesecake pan. Best $10 spent ever.

You know you want to add more.

There is a beautiful fog that settled over the city this morning. I went for a walk, early, and everyhing seemed like it was washed clean- quite a feat in the Mission. Mission Street itself was so sleepy, and in that quiet, I noticed things I usually don't. The palm trees that are so obviously lining Dolores Street had completely escaped by notice on Mission Street until this morning. And the fog. The beautiful fog felt like a million little kisses. This city loves you back.

I know it has been a bad year for some. There is a lot to look forward to in 2007. It has been a trying year for me, but I know I will look back and marvel on how it all happened in a span of 12 months. 12 months. I know there is so much ahead, but it is too overwhelming to imagine that right now. Instead, experiments with freeze-dried mangosteens and pastry bags are a nice way to close out the year.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

been lying right here on the floor

Well, that was a longer hiatus that I expected. In fact, it was so long that there might be doubt as to whether I made it out of Austin. I did, in fact, but then again, I didn't, not in one piece exactly. Some evil blood relation of mine infected me with the mother of all nasty bugs (oh, thanks flu shot, by the way, you really came in handy this year). That meant that I got off the airplane and about two hours later got the Christmas miracle of a brain-stalling sinus infection. My cousin K knew I was in bad shape when she placed both a chocolate chip cookie and a box of Junior Mints on her kitchen table, and I failed to show an interest in either. That is cause for serious concern when I am involved.

It was a bit surreal, being looked after by K. I'm usually not into martyrdom when it comes to illness. Usually, I cop to feeling under the weather, call it an early night and nurse myself back to normal strength. Either because I was on vacation or because I usually feel I should be the one looking after K, I kept obstinately proclaiming that I would soon be on the mend, only to get dizzy from walking across the room. K finally ordered me to stay in bed and drink hot liquids for the remainder of my time in Houston.

This made my trip to Austin all the more of a fiasco. First, I didn't get to spend the proper time wandering around Houston that I usually do- there was no jaunt to the CAM or the Rothko Cathedral or any such thing this time. Second, I missed out on meeting a bunch of bloggers who were in the area, including Abhi, who I have yet to meet, and J, who celebrated a birthday while I was trying to get my ears to pop. Looks like I may have to make another trip to Houston in 2007.

On the upside, there was absolutely no danger of anyone invading my personal space on the flight home. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Desi kept everyone anxiously downing Airborne's and contemplating air-mask purchases.

It has been a really bizarre year. I do not know if I will have a chance to write anything tomorrow, even though there is so much I want to write. I had a lot of time to think during my time in Texas, which was much needed, since so much of the past year went by so quickly that there was little time to process it. It was a rollercoaster ride of a year, but I do not think I would want to take back any of the lows. I am a big believer in the domino effect. Some of the lows were frustrating and disappointing and even regretful, but I can't regret them, because without them, I cannot be certain that I would be here, with so much suddenly blooming, like a rosebud opening its petals.

In so many ways, I cannot believe the year that I have ahead of me. It is overhwelming and awe-inspiring and exciting all at once. I don't make resolutions, but I have plans. I have plans, and not all of them are tangible. There are places I want to go, yes. But there are also relationships I want to mend, and relationships I want to leave behind. And most of all, I want to take the time to better myself, to separate the endearing quirks from the areas for growth. It's a funny thing about wanting- once you get what you want, you find yourself so elated that you dare to want more.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

hold on, hold on to yourself

This is the part where I start to get a little jealous of people out there. People who either really celebrate Christmas or really don't. People who regularly visit their parents every Christmas. People without layers upon layers of dysfunction running through their family. People who don't have cousins with a mean-streak that is so malicious that you wonder if you really share the same blood. Better yet, people who do not have to travel during the holidays. Or people who just get to spend Christmas blissfully alone. This is the part where I get jealous of everyone.

No worries. It's a temporary reaction. Just please, someone smack me in the head should I ever suggest that I will be going to Austin for the holidays. I did it for my grandfather, and I am glad I did it. But all the same, please deliver me a can of whoopa$$ if I ever even hint at it again. There are more neutral places to meet my grandfather, and in some ways, it would probably be less costly to fly my grandfather out to meet me. Because there are dollars, and then there are expenses. And my mental health can't pay the kind of bills that come with visiting Austin.

I have stolen away to a quiet corner though, stolen away because I have had it, but stolen away also because I need to get it together. Time for a few serenity now's, because I leave tomorrow. I just have to make it to tomorrow afternoon, and it's back to the oasis of visiting K.

K & M always joke that my baking levels increase exponentially in relation to my stress levels. Well, last night, I baked two trays of brownies and a batch of scones. This morning, I made brunch for 16 people. I can make it. I can make it. And if not, I think there are still some eggs, butter and flour around here, so I should be able to manage something.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

the warmest part of the winter

It is quiet here, so quiet that I woke up this morning to the sound of a wasp crawling up a window and then falling down to the bottom, only to start the whole thing again. The wing flutters as gravity pulled the wasp down was the only noise in the apartment. This is a far cry from home- for all I know, there may be insects buzzing about my place, but I would never hear it above the din of the cars outside and the downstairs-neighbor's techno music pulsing and the upstairs-neighbor's yoga periodic thudding of his feet against my ceiling.

Even now, the sound of my typing on this laptop is cutting through the silence. The poor wasp- I am normally quite afraid of anything in the wasp/bee/spider category, but this morning, I feel sorry for this wasp, who laboriously pulls himself up the window pane, only to plummet down again. There are no flowers here, there is nothing for him here to sustain himself. He's expending his final allotted energy on a thoroughly futile task, and I can't bring myself to stop him.

The tapping of the keys- I try to keep it softer than usual. In the other room, I can hear K's breathing machine, the one she has to use at night. The things we all think of as involuntary are voluntary for her- she has to will herself to breathe. Whenever I am with her, I think of that, think of her sheer power of will.

Her apartment is painted in bright, cheery tones. It looks like a beach-front condo, and I know that is just the look she was going for. K loves the beach, the tropics, the ocean against hot sands, fiery sunsets. I've always preferred the shores of my youth, the rocky ones against slightly grey skies. I've preferred cities over resorts when I have thought of places to vacation. But I get it, looking at her apartment walls; I can see through her eyes for just a moment and see why it is she is so enamoured of the sun and the sand.

Tomorrow, I leave to see the other side of my family, the rambunctious side- the side that brags about getting plastic surgery and wanting a new car for Christmas like in the commercials. I chose to visit K for a day before all that, because I know by now that the holidays annoy me when they are without soul.

On the other hand, I suspect I will have quite a bit of time to blog then, which I will not be able to say here once K wakes up.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

what we want and what we need has been confused

Due to technical difficulties (also known as my laptop channeling Linda Blair in The Exorcist), I have had to take a blogging hiatus. I hope that when I get to visiting the fam, I can surreptitiously blog from someone else's healthier laptop. I'd write more, but I lack the skills to write extensively using a BlackBerry. For that matter, I'm still in awe that I have figured out how to use my BlackBerry. Anyway, season's greetings, b*tches!

Friday, December 15, 2006

pretty soon now I won't come around

For someone so jaded, I sure do find myself surprised by the most obvious and repetitive occurrences. For example, last night, I was working late, and the head VP-headhoncho-person dropped by my office and chirped, "I'm just coming by to check in on how you are doing." Well, look, I maintained jadedness, because I looked at her skeptically. Much as I would like to talk a big game, VP-headhoncho-people do not just drop by my office. Unless they are announcing that they have fired someone (or me, for that matter). So, I sat there, waiting, and then this person revealed that she was actually coming by to assure me that some good changes were on their way in the new year, and that I was one of the people she valued most in our group. Why I am surprised that all these things happen now really eludes me- it's absolutely, positively Murphy's law that I will probably be offered a promotion or the equivalent next year, just as I prepare to say, "Take this job and shove it, b*tches!" After all, that is how life seems to work. But it still surprised me.

And last night, when the rain did finally let up (and today, the sun has even made a limited-run showing in the Bay Area), I walked to the market. I had made a totally sucker bet with my officemate and was long overdue on making good. So, off I went to purchase the 6-pack of Black Bute he had been promised. I was still not feeling 100%, so my head sort of plodded along with my legs at every step. Still, there is always something refreshing about a walk after the rain. There is so much hope and peace in that moment after the rain has ceased, as absurd as that might sound. It's like that every time I take a stroll after a rainfall, but it still strikes me freshly each time.

Outside, people were congregating, huddled in stoops, lingering in circles outside of pubs. I thought they were all just like me, happy to be out in the fresh air. In fact, they were mostly smokers. They looked similarly at bliss with being outside, but their peace was derived from the fact that they could finally enjoy a long, cancer-inducing drag. I wanted to hate them, but I couldn't. I couldn't hate the little punks in the stoops, who insist on staring you down. I couldn't hate the raving lunatic carrying his clothes in a trash bag. I couldn't hate the perfect yuppy-hipster family with their perfectly put-together clothes and their just-so turned out munchkins in their expensive strollers. I couldn't hate the gay couple walking their matching, naked-looking dogs. I may have willfully tried to scowl, but I certainly did not succeed.

And it's not because it's Christmastime, or because I am filled with holiday cheer. I was actually thinking, as I was walking such familiar streets, how they will someday soon no longer be mine. One particular pizzeria was decked out excessively in lights and plastic candy canes and big bows. And I thought of how that had probably come to become a kind of tradition, and how the long-time residents of the neighborhood must look at the pizzeria and smile to themselves, shaking their heads but comforted by the continuity. And as I continued down the street, I passed an apartment building and the solitary, traveling vine that winds around the corner of it, hinting at a few fuschia flowers- it was where V used to live.

And right after that, I hit a particular intersection. I do not know how many times I have hit that intersection, but once again, I gasped at the corner. Right there, after having only apartment and store facades in my line of vision for blocks and blocks, I come face to face with a view of the downtown city lights and the Bay Bridge, glowing, just slightly blurred. Framed against palm trees, it cannot help but make you swoon. It cannot help but impress upon you that you live here, and that, in that small way, you are a tiny part of this little, pretty city.

I thought of how I stay around just long enough in a place that I start to breathe it, start to know its ways and its traditions. And just as I finally start to feel a part of it, it's time to go. That won't change for the foreseeable future, and I suppose that is okay. But this time of year is about tradition, and it's the one time of year that I really notice how without tradition I am. Well, except for these late night haunts of mine, through certain half-deserted streets.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

worn out in Juarez

I don't know y'all (I'm practicing for my upcoming trip, see!). I do not get it. How is it that I am overloaded with work and actually having to be productive, now that I actually have no intention of staying here for longer than four months? I suppose that, no matter how much I bluster, I cannot sit by and completely let my work tank. This time of year, there are no getting around certain work deadlines. Even though I talk a good game, I am still not interested in leaving this place with four VPs thinking I am an incompetent moron. So I have been staying on point.

As a result, I have not had time to write, or to read very much. I spent the few spare moments I had today answering Siddhartha's request on Sepia Mutiny to list five pieces of music from 2006 I would recommend. Maybe I will recycle it here next week if it never sees the light of day, but it would probably be more appropriate to tell you that you should fill out your choices and submit too. I am big on getting music recommendations from people. If I don't know the person very well, I find music recommendations to be an interesting character indicator. If I do know the person well, I find music recommendations to be an interesting commentary on what they think of me, or whether they think of me at all when they choose music to pass along.

I have also been kind of gimping through this week. It's been sort of a man down situation here. Monday, my head was throbbing as if there was a rave being thrown in my brain. Tuesday, it seemed to subside, but after dinner with D, I had the dolor in the stomach. Yesterday, the headache returned and my sinuses decided to join the party. I went home early, thought I would take a power nap before hitting the gym, and then promptly slept through the entire night. Today, the stomach ache decided to stage a comeback. All of this is quite inconvenient to both getting work done here and getting work done at home on the holiday stuff. So, I'm still at blah level as far as holiday cheer goes.

Unfortunately, being this busy also makes a person thoroughly boring. I feel confident I have not had one interesting thought this week, and I think we can all agree that I have not written one interesting sentence. There was this: I did think of deleting my entire blog this week. But even that's not worth getting into- I have already had about eleventy million crises about that, and it is nothing but more blah. I promise to try to find something interesting to say. But right now, all I've got is blah, blah, blah. So, it's probably better if my post frequency decreases a bit.

Also- it just won't stop raining, and that is really becoming a problem around here. Would a little sunshine kill you, powers that be? Right now, I have had to rely on Friday Night Lights, and that can only substitute for natural light for so long.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

one day she stiffened, took the other side

This year, I am feeling rather indifferent about the holidays. I do not feel grinch-y about it, but I also have no urge to put the radio on the all-caroling-all-the-time dial. Perhaps it is because I do not do the consumer Christmas stuff. I am actually really absorbed in diligently trying to get Christmas-ish presents together, but none of them involve stepping into a mall.

The thing is, nothing could compel me to go shopping during this season anyway. So, even though some people think it lame to get crappy, homemade presents, I rationalize that they're better than getting nothing at all. Which is really the only other alternative when it comes to getting presents from me. Anyway, thanks to the constant rain the past several days and the lack of much of worth to watch on television (that's actually quite important given my penchant for procrastination), I have not had much trouble keeping myself on task.

It is a little bit blowing my mind that I will be on a flight out of San Francisco in exactly a week. The past few weeks have been such a strange trip that I have not really thought beyond today in most cases. I have been reticent to make commitments on much of anything. When I have been invited to do this or that, I have been vague. I want to see everyone (sort of), but I really have no ability to subject myself to stress right now.

And that is what is kind of unforgivable about me right now. It is my tendency in general to have very little tolerance for bullsh*t. It's this whole notion of reactions, I suppose. Some people are fine with reversible reactions; they have no problem with reacting with each other, reaching some stable interaction, and then getting volatile and parting, only to start the whole cycle over again. And then there is me, me with too much of a streak of irreversibility. Once I have gone through such drama once, I avoid entering into it again.

Co-worker GBF and I were talking about this yesterday, because we are both of the mind that there are some things you just cannot take back. There are some reactions that are just irreversible. You try to retrace your steps, but it's like the light on the path back home has been extinguished. I do not particularly relish being a harda$$. I am not being steadfast and unmoved just to be stubborn. It's that I legitimately do not know how to go back.

I am limping along to a commitment this weekend, but it is limping and dragging and all against my will and instincts. I am trying to rescuscitate a friendship that is gasping its dying breath. But it's difficult, because my natural instinct is to let things go. Some people cling to things when they're in decay, thinking they can hold them together; I let them slip through my fingers, figuring it is only natural. I have stopped myself, and considered whether I would regret it. And that's the problem. I would not regret it. It is hard to coax a reaction into reversibility when you feel perfectly comfortable with the place you have already reached.

But here is where it gets most dangerous- I could probably reach the same conclusion about most, save about two, of my friends. So, in case there remained any doubt, I really am a heartless jerk.

Monday, December 11, 2006

although you pretend, I can see this will end

At some point, I will post a song actually recorded in this millennium, but in the meanwhile, this week, I present to you Cake's Haze of Love. In many ways, Cake is a one-note band with little range. In general, there are only a few bands I will staunchly defend when push comes to shove, because it's hard for me to argue with someone's taste.

Still, Cake is one of the few pleasant discoveries made during graduate school. Misery seems to be the best magnet for music. What I was listening to that year should have been enough to ring alarm bells. It is not that the music was particularly morose- by then, I had learned that you simply cannot listen to The Smiths or the like when you are actually in a legitimately low point in your life, because that sh*t will drive you over the edge. Instead, my musical tastes were frighteningly schizophrenic.

On the one hand, I was in Southern California. I was in Southern California just as an entire sound was emerging from the area. Sublime and No Doubt were starting to get some notice. And having just moved there, I could see how that sound came to be, how all that sunshine, water, money and plastic would come together to create that music. And then, it was also the first time I had lived on the West Coast, so it was my first introduction to West Coast rap. I have to tell you that living in Boston and New Jersey, you don't exactly have a lot of exposure to Snoop or Tupac (I think I had one friend in college who listened to Snoop Dogg and we were all worried about her). So, I was breathing in my new surroundings, absorbing the new sounds coming at me.

But on the other hand, I was miserable. It was the first, and possibly only, time I felt sincerely homesick for a sustained period of time. I don't even know what I was homesick for- it wasn't EBF and it wasn't New Jersey. It was just general homesickness for the familiar, for certain people, for solid ground that was not in danger of falling into the sea. At first, I relied on specific crutches. Back in New Jersey, E & I spent Saturday mornings listening to certain programs on NPR. So I would turn on my radio on Saturday morning, and huddle by it as if I was cozying up to a fire. When I heard Click and Clack jeering each other and listeners, their thick Boston accents sent a wave of nostalgia sweeping over me. But the talk was not sufficient- I needed music. So, I went backwards to the bands I used to listen to, listening to follow-up albums by The Counting Crows or Pearl Jam (the irony, of course, being that both of those bands are from the west coast). And it was fine, but it kept me dislocated- it kept me from feeling at all steady. And mostly, it kept me yearning to get back to the east coast as soon as was humanly possible.

With all that music, that random cacophony around me, it is actually a miracle that I wandered into my friend BH's lab one afternoon and picked up a CD he had been listening to. BH was from Kansas, was this scrawny brown-haired geek who was not the smartest kid in the class but also no fool. He wore a baseball cap to class every day, and when asked why, he explained, "I'm worried because people often mistake me for someone famous." When pressed to reveal who he resembled so closely, he would turn very seriously and remark, "I'm Batman." The kid had a lot of redeemable qualities, but probably the best of them was that he had a long-term, steady girlfriend. That made it incredibly easy for me and BH to be buddies for the entire year, without any tension or anxiety whatsoever. He was my one protector in graduate school.

And so, he handed me the Cake CD. And it was just like him. It was goofy. It was not particularly deep, not laden with the secrets of the universe or the meaning of life. It was not surprising or even inventive. But it was consistent. And it was good. And most of all, it was catchy- it was quite likeable. So, finally, thanks to the bespectacled BH, I had found music that made me feel okay to be marooned in Irvine, California.

A few years later, I went to see Cake perform at the Bowery Ballroom, and they did not disappoint. The lead singer, John McCrea, paced about the stage with a smirk, a completely incomprehensible smirk. It was impossible to tell if he was amused that the audience was singing along to every song, or if he was amused at his good fortune to get paid for this, or if he thought the whole word absurd. His grin was impenetrable. And even though he was all the things BH was not- pulled together, cool, women throwing themselves at him- still, the sight of him on that stage sent me back to graduate school and the one decent guy there.

Haze of Love is a song I've always kept in the rotation specifically because it is so harmless. It is not a song that is going to get you worked up to an extreme emotion on either side of the spectrum. If you need a rebound relationship to get through a bad breakup, this song works the same way- it's a nice transition. When you have tired of listening to Alanis Morrissette rage-ballads or Axl Rose screaming about how he had to kill a b*tch, but you're not quite ready for a frothy, hopeful tune of rainbows and unicorns and the sun coming out tomorrow, it's time for Haze of Love.

Sorry for the long-winded explanation, but that's really all I have today anyway. I spent the entire weekend baking (including a last minute Sunday night experiment of making quiche for the first time for no reason whatsoever, especially given that I am not a huge fan of quiche), but I am not able to share pictures at this time. Given my crap photography skills, that is probably for the best.

Friday, December 08, 2006

I started something and now I'm not too sure

At some inevitable point, I know I shall have to switch to Blogger Beta, but for now, I am fighting the good fight. And yes, I know how important it was for me to make that known.

It dawned on me that I've started persistently kvetching about a ridiculous situation with an XY, and I finally disgusted myself. This is actually a good thing. I have no time for drawn-out OMG, does he or doesn't he? crapola right now (or, for that matter, ever). And as a result, I took the reigns and steered the situation to a conclusion.

But that's the problem with human experimentation (well, actually, sometimes in the lab as well): you feel certain you have determined the array of possible outcomes, and inevitably your imagination is insufficient.

I submit to you:

    Question: Is this clown for real or not?

    Information gathered to date: Utter hearsay from mutual friend indicating interest and one evening of decent conversation. (in other words, flimsy and inconclusive data at best).

    Experiment: Invite clown out for drinks in a non-threatening environment (i.e. with two other friends) and observe reaction.

    Possible Outcomes:
    • "Sure, sounds great!"
    • "Sure, can I bring a date?"
    • "Sorry, I can't make it."
    • "Sorry, I can't make it that night, but we should get together another time."
    • "No, and you're weird for asking me."
    • "And I would know you from?"

    Actual Data Gathered:
      "I could be up for it. Let me know if there are enough people interested."

    Analysis of Results: WTF?!?!?

    Conclusion: Experiment massively flawed, reconsider future as a researcher of any kind.

In fairness, I am highly amused, at both my inability to design a proper experiment, and at the completely non-committal response. But here comes problem #2 with human experimentation. In the lab, you get an unclear result, you scratch the experiment and start again. On the other hand, in this case, the clown is coming out for a drink tonight, which is kind of useless, in all truth, because I have mentally dismissed him. It would be great if I could get Donald Trump to crash the bar and give him the snake-gestured "You're fired!" Or maybe Heidi Klum could show up and chirp, "I'm sorry, that means you're out." Then again, if Heidi Klum showed up, I don't think the clown would be a nuisance anymore since he would most likely have his eyes glued on her (nothing against him, but I do believe he is a male heterosexual, so that seems like a fair bet).

In other news, I had these perfectly laid plans on how I was going to recuperate this weekend, have it all to myself, spend it cleaning and baking. Now, there is a battle brewing for my Saturday night. Co-worker GBF asked me to watch cheesy movies with me, and SP asked me to meet up because we haven't seen each other in weeks. And I have to tell you that right now, I'd really like to have a Kelly Taylor moment and yell: "I choose me!" But that's because I am an ungrateful b*tch.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

inside and out

Well, it was bound to happen. I finally came down and crashed from my sugar high that was not induced by sugar. Actually, I am still not my usual grumpy self. Things that normally annoy me or anger me are making me laugh, and I hope that continues for quite some time, because it is far more fun to find things absurd than to find them frustrating.

But I am exhausted in every way. I tell people I am too busy to meet, and it is true, but it is true because there are only so many nights out of a week that I can be on. I need a night off, and that is just what I plan to get today.

This push of go, go, go to end out the year is taking its toll in other ways. I feel a little dull, as though I am losing brain cells every week. Of course, some of that could be attributed to Grey Goose intake. But some of it is also just not having the time to properly think.

But so it goes. Tolerating this is a lot easier nowadays. I am well aware when I am reaching my limit, and so I will turn inward and get myself right soon. And then there will be better blogging than there is today.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

it's written on the wind, it's everywhere I go

At an early-morning meeting today, one of the muckety-muck higher-ups remarked with firm conviction, while we were waiting for people to join us by teleconference, that Four Weddings and Funeral was "quite possibly one of the best movies ever made." It took everything in my power not to laugh right on the spot, or run out of the room shrieking. I exercised restraint by thinking up one-liner retorts in my head, such as:
  • Dude, that's not even the best movie Hugh Grant ever made.

  • I offer two words in protest: Andie MacDowell.

  • You're so right, but it's a close second to Notting Hill.

For the record, I do not have anything in particular against the movie. Sure, I prefer Hugh Grant when he's playing a rake, rather than the floppy-haired aw shucks persona he inhabited during his early years. Perhaps us Americans miss something about the movie, but I have a hard time characterizing it as the best, or even the quite possibly best anything. All the more reason that I will do quite the happy dance when I get out of here.

On the other hand, yesterday I had a great dinner with V, despite a semi-absurd waitress who insisted on dropping by to check on us every two minutes. I kept V out late, but I could have kept her out much later. That is what talking to V is like. I have realized that I usually look for one thing in a friend, one aspect that makes them special, that sets them apart from a generic acquaintance. That is my bar, I suppose. With V, there are a lot of things, but what I find most rare about her is her ability to bring out conversation that is genuinely meaningful. We haven't seen each other for a long while, but we were able to talk about things that really matter to us. That, I suppose, ought to be easy, but I have a tendency to talk crap unless I am around such gems as V.

And then to top it all off, she gave me two extremely thoughtful gifts. It is times like this that I feel most acutely how unworthy I am. I never thought of myself as fortunate before- in fact, I used to characterize my life with that blues line, if it wasn't for bad luck, I wouldn't have no luck at all. But I can see now how little perspective I had.

Speaking of which, responding to yesterday's post, Brooklyn Brown asked after the spark of a somber post. It was a good lesson as far as my writing goes. It's actually not the first time I have been told that my writing gives the impression that I am frequently down in the dumps. I suppose I get introspective, and that comes across as somber, but let me assure you that I remain rather buoyant these days. I am well aware of how well things are going right now. So even though I may fret about this thing or the other, I am constantly reminded that this is one of those times in life that I will look back and marvel at how everything was falling into place.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

playing russian roulette with my mind

One of the perks of having a blog is that you can go back and look for patterns. Events that are chronicled point to a certain mood at a certain time, and I see now that there is a progression, yet there is also a cycle.

The progression is a comfort. Looking back two years, then one year, then back to today, I can see how unsettled I was. I can actually feel the unsteadiness in the short-attention span, frenzied posts. I was not really processing much of anything, even though I purported to be. I think I was just nagged and pulled by an undercurrent of fear and uncertainty, and writing a post was a way to keep my head above water. There is still a lot that is up in the air, but I feel more confident of landing on my feet. I feel like I have a better idea of where I am headed, and that it is a well-lit path instead of a dark vortex.

The cycle, on the other hand, is both amusing and problematic. There is something about these last few months of the year that seems to bring out the girl in me. I am not necessarily talking about somehow becoming more feminine. It's the actual girl, the opposite of being a woman who knows what she is doing and where she is going and what time it is.

Something always seems to happen in these last few months that throws me off kilter. And yet, every year, I act like it is some kind of alien phenomenon that has descended upon me. It never fails to surprise me. But I hate to think of life as happening to me. Normally, the idea of being passive annoys me. When it comes to the XYs, though, I am just about as passive as a person can get.

I run through the internal conflicts as though they are newfound dilemmas, but they are all the same, actually. I am going to be frank for a moment and say that I just assume I will remain single. Most of the time, I am fully aware of who I am and that who I am clashes with what men would be vaguely interested in. I'd say a solid ten months out of the year, that is my baseline assumption and the assumption fits me like a warm, cozy glove. And do not think for one second that you need boost my self-esteem or any such thing, because for those ten-plus months, I have no problem with my state of existence.

But then some clown shows up and causes me to reconsider what has become my second skin. I wonder, in some ways, if this sort of thing happens to people in relationships too. Because when you are perfectly content with your life and everything is going just fine, it is easy to start taking that for granted. And so, when some flash of excitement starts sparkling at you, maybe it makes you reconsider your stable, steady life.

The difference, of course, is that the married/involved-in-a-relationship person who avoids the temptation of messing with a good thing is thought to have their act together or thought to have the proper perspective. On the other hand, the single person who avoids such temptation is called a pansy or a wuss.

And maybe there is some truth to that, but maybe there is not. In this particular case, it seems a fine line between fear and resisting drama for drama's sake. Even as I have now recognized the pattern, I still have neither an explanation nor a solution for it. For that matter, I am not even sure the pattern is a problem necessarily, or just the natural order of things. And at any rate, the whole lot of us tend to be completely wrongheaded when it comes to matters pertaining to the heart- the more logic applied, the more all theorems and laws of physics are thoroughly defied.

p.s. You know what doesn't help at times like this? Watching Pride & Prejudice. Sure, it's not the Colin Firth, completely lethal version, but it's still quite potent. Luckily, I know what does help at times like this- having a good dinner, catching up with a friend I have not seen in ages. Even if it means missing Friday Night Lights this week.

Monday, December 04, 2006

honey I feel so exposed

This should probably be cross-posted to Craigslist:

    Dear Nice-Enough Fellow,

    I hereby offer you my humble apology on behalf of all of my kind. You will probably find this difficult to fathom, but I am actually aware of how much courage is required to amass the nerve to speak to someone you have never met. Granted, starting with "Excuse me, what are you drinking?" is kind of the equivalent of "How you doin'?" But I know how difficult an opening line can be, so I mean to tell you that I was still charmed.

    Of course, it would be impossible for you to surmise this, given that I began eyeing the exit as soon as you began speaking to me. And yes, I basically pushed co-worker GBF out of the bar as soon as he returned from the bathroom. It would be difficult for you to guess that I felt awfully later. It would be difficult for you to ascertain, given my rude and hasty departure, that I did not actually have anything against you. You were a perfectly nice person, and not at all unpleasant to look at.

    I wish that I could attribute my terrible manners to too many Grey Goose and Tonics and the late hour, but given that it was 7:30 when I left, I know that excuse is not likely to fly. The purpose of my apology is really only to say this: your bravery should have been applauded, and I hope my idiotic flight response to your overture will not put you off from such outreach in the future. I promise you that most women are not complete jerks like me.

    Then again, you may be well-versed at this and do not even remember me, in which case, kindly disregard this letter.

    A$$hat at the neighborhood bar on Friday night

Well. Now that we've gotten that out of the way, I am going to try something new. Since a lot of people have said they are not even aware that I post a song once a week here, I am going to try to bring attention to that by pointing it out every Monday with a brief explanation of why. We will see how well this works- sometimes writing about music is completely stupid, because the experience of listening to a song is so different depending on who you are, what you're going through at that particular moment, and what about music draws you to it. But, stupidity has never stopped me before, so here we go again.

This week was probably a bad week to start, because this week, I went with the tried and true- Dylan. Blood on the Tracks is only one of the best albums ever made, so it is nearly a disservice to sully it by writing about it. But I do want to point out why I chose Meet Me in the Morning. Some of the songs on the album are brilliantly written gems, soul-squeezing ballads and laments. But Meet Me in the Morning is straight up blues when you come right down to it.

Even though I have been floating about on the stars for over a week now, I had a night on Saturday. You know what I'm talking about- too much alcohol, uncomfortable shoes, getting home at 3, waking up with a throbbing headache that lays you out for all of Sunday. That kind of a night. To tell the truth, without sounding like someone in need of an intervention, I am still recovering today. Come to think of it, maybe that just points out that, as Danny Glover would say, I am getting too old for this sh*t. Either way, my head is still a little jangly this morning and I am still a little spent.

At such times, the blues are what I find particularly useful. Perhaps you go with some strange concoction involving tomato juice or a raw egg (or I've even heard of some people trying the cure-by-a-beer approach). Me, I go for the blues. And not the slick blues with too much electric guitar and bass. No, I need the down-and-dirty blues, the kind that someone might be strumming at a bus stop, and that is exactly what Meet Me in the Morning delivers without fail.

Dylan and his unintelligible warbling are perfect for evoking the feeling of ambling down a dirty street in the Mission after a night of too much revelry. The lyrics are not breathtakingly profound, and that is equally important when you need the straight up blues. You don't need to be listening to Tangled Up in Blue, getting your brain cranked up on overdrive with those visuals. No, at such a moment, you need: They say the darkest hour is right before the dawn.

Maybe I am prone to dramatics. Or maybe I fall prey to the common inclination to give my life a soundtrack. But I also find that listening to such a song when you are a little worse for wear is the way to pick yourself up and carry on. There is something about the blues that is resigned- the whole theme of the genre can be distilled down to life sucks, but we keep singing about it anyway. I guess some people can turn the blues into a pity party, but I find it more grit and realism. It gives me just the kick in my pants I need to get me up and shuffling along with my day, instead of getting lost in a reverie of bad decisions or unfortunate circumstances.

Perhaps you are not in the mood for the blues. But if you do take the time to listen to the tune (on the sidebar), comments would be most welcome. Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go main-line some caffeine.

Friday, December 01, 2006

and it all feels fine, be it silk or slime

This week would not be complete without thanking everyone one more time. Wrapping myself in comments (from those of you I know in real life, those of you I know through blogs, and those of you who have de-lurked to leave a word) has kept me warm on these strangely cold San Francisco evenings.

Last weekend, I was so distracted by floating on air from good news that I let the long weekend pass me right by. I made absolutely no productive use of the time, and I do not mind telling you that I did not feel the least bit sorry. Last night, though, I started to panic suddenly. Because who said it was okay for it to be the beginning of December already?

Never mind. Drive home with the new song by The Shins piping through the radio waves, and you cannot help but feel hopeful that all will work out. I have to channel some of the invincibilty that comes with happiness into applying myself to some tasks. Not bad tasks, not even drudgery. I made a big production about getting a jump on baking for the holidays, but, predictably, I fell behind schedule.

It's a good thing for euphoria though- along with creating a great forcefield against any soap opera dramarama, it seems to be fending off a nasty bug of some sort. My head is stuffy and I feel fuzzy around the edges, but I keep cheerfully convincing myself that I can shake it off, or sleep it off, or maybe even smile it off.

Okay, but that's a little too saccharine, and that's not my style. I am sure I will reclaim my inner grinch by next week. My cousin is visiting from New York all weekend. He is usually a toxic presence, making disparaging remarks about my appearance, my lack of fashion sense, and my inability to demonstrate sufficient anxiety about being single. Usually, he tires me, but only because I start to ponder whether he is the mouthpiece for his entire gender. Of course, this leads to the conclusion that, if all men think like he does, then there is no sense in getting at all worked up about something so hopeless. I am good at rationalizing my way out of rage, in case you have not noticed.

Tonight, I am getting goosed with the co-worker GBF. Hopefully, there will only be talk of the sweet nectar of the gods, and not of SC. And if I can ride the high I have been on, hopefully, I can defeat the head cold, do some baking, and make some progress on a birthday gift for my grandfather. Again, I really have a problem with whoever gave December the green light.

Oh, and may I issue a little plea to ABC and NBC? Because you know, I am kind of a sucker for America Ferrara from back in the day, and I think the whole thing Christopher Gorham has got going with her is totally twee. But I am also a total goner for Carell and company (like this week, the Danny Glover remark was enough to induce bellyaching laughter). So, could you please give me a break and stop forcing me into impossible choices? There are plenty of other nights that you're showing nothing but utter nonsense anyways (cough, Mondays, cough). Spread out the love a little, and stop the comedy-on-comedy crime. And don't give me the lecture about tivo or watching the episodes online, either. You know I'm way too old school for that sh*t.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

but maybe you should plug it with a beer

There is something I have not mentioned in all the commotion. Actually, I have not mentioned it because the commotion overshadowed it. I think that is the true mark of being happy- that the perturbations of life fail to sway you out of glee.

It has been cold here lately, unseasonably it seems, though it is nothing compared to the cold climes in which I was raised. I have turned into a wimp over time. But I enjoy a brisk walk in such biting chills. Last Saturday, I wrapped my favorite and warmest scarf around my neck several times, grabbed my jacket, and walked to the Castro Theatre. It is a pretty solid half-hour walk from my house, which I rather enjoy, despite always winding up late as a result of foolish optimism. On that particular night, within three blocks, I was warm.

I love walking down Valencia Street on the weekend (but then you all probably knew that already). It is not the same as walking around Manhattan at night, but it is not shabby. The street is alive, the hipsters are out and about, and the Marina folk are not trashed and sloppy yet. I like darting my eyes into the windows, seeing which restaurants and bars are filled and which have a few die-hard locals. The bookstores are casually closing shop. Even all the dirt and grime, all of it is welcome, infuses a sense of being that I will never adequately explain.

By the time I got to the Castro, I was in perfect spirits, still soaring about The Goal and now toasty from the walk. When I met JI at the bar, I barely stopped to say hello before ordering a drink from the handsome (it's the Castro) bartender.

When JI got to chatting about our days, I told her the highlight of mine had been the walk over to meet her. Hers, on the other hand, had been lunch with SC. I know- based on previous accounts, some of you are cringing just seeing those initials. And I am not going to lie. When she told me that she had lunch with SC, I felt as though I had momentarily been punched in the gut. After that, I had a moment of feeling really annoyed with co-worker GBF, who I decided was full of stuff and nonsense.

And then the next moment, it passed through my mind completely. Maybe that's because the alcoholic beverage appeared at that moment. But maybe it's because it did not really matter that much. You would think logic would not really play a part at such a moment, but my brain rattled off like a computer:
    Should I be upset?
    Do I like him?
    Maybe- especially after co-worker GBF encouraged it.
    Should I be upset with co-worker GBF?
    But maybe co-worker GBF was just mistaken.
    Yeah. Or maybe SC just didn't think I was interested.
    Yeah, and besides, JI seems to like him.
    Right, and plus, dude, I am so happy- something this inconsequential cannot phase me.
    Yeah- there's nothing to be upset about!

And then the brain just shut that sh*t down. Really. I truly bore no one ill will. SP asked me about it when I talked to her this week, and she was completely dissatisfied with my lack of rage about it. She wanted me to be upset and hysterical, but really, why? Then she tried to blame it on me not showing enough interest. And I shrugged that off as well.

Because, dudes, as Popeye says, I yam what I yam. And, boy, am I happy right now. Honestly, I have neither the patience nor the inclination to coax someone into appreciating that.

Then co-worker GBF told me today that it was all an awkward situation and that SC remains interested. Do you know what my response to that was? Yep. I shrugged that sh*t off too.

Happiness makes a person invincible in the game, y'all. That's all I'm trying to say.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

the bubble floats so madly, will it stay sky high?

You guys (picture this uttered by an immature 16-year old)! I really do not even know what to say anymore. Too much, too much sweetness. Comments, emails, phone calls, big hugs. I am going into seizures and diabetic comas. Seriously, y'all are killing me.

Okay, in the best way humanly possible, though.

It is just that I am touched. And I do not really know how to write about that without sounding like the village idiot. Just imagine me with a big, dumb grin on my face. And maybe giggling. I was already head over heels, over the moon about the current state of affairs, but having you all share in that with me- well that's enough to melt a cold, black heart. Really, people. My heart is not cut out for this beating and soaring thing.

All kidding aside, I cannot give out any more concrete details at the moment. I can give you even more Heisenberg Uncertainty trash though, like this:

  • There is a 100% chance that I am leaving the city of San Francisco in 2007 (okay, that's technically not very Heisenberg-ish).
  • There is about a 50% chance that I will be in the Chicago area in 2007.
  • There is a 90% chance that I will be around the New York area in April.
  • There is about a 35% chance that I will be in the New York area in late 2007.
  • There is about a 1% chance that I will still be in California at the end of 2007.

Clear as mud, no? You know, the thing is, I could have written out some statistics like this two weeks ago, but some of those bullets up there might have represented bad outcomes. In the above list, should any of these uncertainties become a reality, it is a good thing. This might be the first time that I can honestly say I am in a no-lose situation.

I am sure I will go back to b*tching and griping and all that hand-wringing that I do best, because the human mind is not built to sustain this kind of euphoria for very long. But for now, I will keep the posts short, sweet (like all of you), and stupid.

p.s. I have not had any Grey Goose since this news. That seems the only real tragedy worthy of mention.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

dreaming my dreams with you

I laugh in tears and hope in despair
I cheer up in sad hopelessness
I’m joyful and no pleasure’s anywhere
I’m powerful and lack all force and strength
Warmly welcomed, always turned away.

That is how I have felt almost the entire time I have been writing here for the past few years. I have been a walking contradiction, a bundle of doubts and insecurities. And those of you who have stuck with it from the beginning have borne it all with impressive tolerance and grace.

If my last post was cryptic, it was because I was tongue-tied and useless, weak-kneed and brainless, unable to speak plainly. There is another reason too. It is because naming something The Goal was always meant to be a little tongue-in-cheek. It makes it sound lofty and grand, like I am training for the Iron Man. I gave it the moniker because, in my world of self-absorption, it was blown up to such melodramatic proportions. But truthfully, The Goal is not some massive accomplishment, nor is it even novel. It’s only this- it means a lot to me.

And after all, that is the absurdity of the blog- to write about the very slight and very small as if it were the very momentous and very enormous. I owe so much of my sanity to everyone who has read this nonsense and gone one step beyond putting up with it- you have sent sweet emails, you have left supportive comments, you have cheered me on along the way.

Now I am left trying to figure out what more there is to say, what more there is to share. There is so much to write and nothing at all to write. Right this moment, I can only write the reasons The Goal has meant something to me:

It is, truly, no matter what The Goal is/was. Everyone has their something. But ah, to get that which you have wanted for so long, that which you have devoted so much of your blood, sweat and tears, well, that matters. That matters quite a lot.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

inarticulate speech of the heart

A wave rose up and knocked me down. I swallowed a river of relief. The dam broke, unleashing a flood of blood to my brain. I thought I could not breathe. I thought I might be drowning. In the excitement, I had simply forgotten to inhale. I had failed to notice I was floating in the shallows.

Soaking wet, coughing up water, overwhelmed, I finally put my feet on the ground and stood upright. I emerged from the shore, where they were all waiting. Gathered in such smiles, my heart squeezed into a tight contraction, seized in a tetanus of love. My knees buckled, but they were waiting, keeping me steady.

I thought if I ever found this land, ever put my legs on solid ground again, it would require some kind of transformation. Drifting at sea for so many years, I imagined I had adapted, and that more adaptations would be needed to reverse the effect of salt water and the lilt of rolling oceans.

But as my hair was drying, as they all embraced me, I looked at my hands and they were the same hands. I was always this same person. It wasn’t a change in belief, or the loss of gills, or fine swimming skills that brought me to this country. It was just the tide, the wave that came and finally pushed me towards my destination, rather than away from it. As if the ocean recognized I was not one of her children, and simply spit me out.

And this land is not a beautiful tropical island. It is a rocky northern shore. It is still a long walk to civilization, and when I get there, I will have to build a new life with my bare hands. I will have to dig out stones from cold dirt and lay a new foundation. It will take years to feel that I have found a home.

But I have been treading water for a long time, worried that the sharks would soon circle me, dreading a death by drowning. And it is such a relief to be on the shore, to smell fresh earth that I have a new fear now. I am scared to forget this moment, scared to forget my months at sea. Or I am frightened that I will feel it all too acutely, and die from the wave of joy. Each time I get up, it returns and sweeps me off of my feet.

Friday, November 24, 2006

most of all, when snowflakes fall

November was filled with such angst, such crises regarding how difficult it is to be known, or to be connected, or simply just to be. But yesterday was a day to get centered, bask in warmth, swim in wine, and just be.

On Wednesday night, I sliced apples while listening to Feist, letting my mind do the one thing it rarely does- organize. By the end of the evening, I had mapped out an entire game plan for Thursday, because I had committed to making three different desserts for Thanksgiving dinner. I squeezed a lemon into the apples, coated them with cinnamon, nutmeg, sugar and flour, and slept peacefully.

Yesterday, like many Thanksgivings I have spent in San Francisco, had a strange dichotomy. My place is really far too small for a Thanksgiving dinner (and also I'm deathly fearful of preparing a turkey on my own), so I'm always ingratiating myself to a friend who hosts. But as a result, I always spend the morning of Thanksgiving very much in solitude preparing whatever I am supposed to bring. Yesterday, it was regimented. Normally, I really thrive in chaos. I like taking two hours to make what should take twenty minutes. But yesterday, I was following a schedule.

Each dessert baked yesterday had segments. For example, the Gingered Pumpkin Pie had a topping that was made first and set aside. Then I made the dough for the Pecan Tassies (which are kind of like miniature pecan pies). And so on and so forth, until all kinds of components were assembled. The Pecan Tassies were packed away, while the apples were taken out of the refrigerator to add a little dulce de leche (I highly recommend this for anyone interested in kicking up an apple pie a notch, as long as you don't put too much sugar on the apples, and have used sour grannysmiths). While the pumpkin pie cooled, I took a shower to clean off all the flour and butter and eggs. And then I took a deep breath, packed up the car, and headed up to Bernal Heights.

But then I got to the party, and it was the exact opposite. It was all hugs and warmth and people. People everywhere. Two Japanese visitors and three Italians turned up to the dinner uninvited. For the record, I would say Thanksgiving may be the only times Brazilians arch a bit at party crashers. Of course, one of the Italians was a winemaker, who brought tasty wines and cheeses, so all was quickly forgiven.

Everything about dinner was wonderful, and made me realize all the more acutely all the things I will miss the most about San Francisco when I have to leave it. More than that, it made me realize how thankful I am for the people I've stumbled upon throughout the years. I really can't even explain very well how I came to be friends with the Brazilians that invited me to dinner last night, but they reveal this entirely different reality of San Francisco, separate from the one that my more straight-laced coworkers know.

The thing is, I am one of those straight-laced bores myself, so I am so thankful to be included in something so refreshingly different. We had a very traditional Thanksgiving dinner, but that was a first for so many of the dinner guests. We had a 1:1 ratio of wine bottles to dinner guests, which is another reflection of a fabulous Thanksgiving. We sat around the table for hours. We ate dinner, sat back for extra helpings of wine until we were ready for dessert, and then a bottle of tequila mysteriously found its way to the table. We talked nonsense and we talked about microeconomics and we talked about persimmons (which are apparently big in Japan).

I want to call the dinner party diverse, but diverse sounds like such a pretentious word in this case. Yes, the party was a little United Colors of Benetton, but it was not about appearances. Everyone was very much themselves, and yet no one minded each other. Everyone had opinions, but no one was opinionated. And for all of it, I felt grateful.

When I got home, I could not stop thinking about gratitude. Maybe I do not write it so often, but I feel a wave of gratitude every day. Every time I laugh or smile, every time my heart swells, (every time someone comments on this blog!) I am thankful in a way that I hold dear. It's so important to me, to be dazzled by the resilience of the heart despite its extreme vulnerability, to be moved by the kindness of family, friends, strangers. To be grateful for every last minute of it.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

they like the way we work

Things I did today:
  • Since I wimped out of going last night, dragged myself to the market during lunch today along with other psychotic shoppers to purchase preparatory materials for the bake-off that will start tonight and end tomorrow (with my planning skills, probably ten minutes before I'm supposed to get to Thanksgiving dinner).
  • Thanks to the excellent advice of Thalassa, purchased tickets to travel between Houston and Austin during the Christmas holidays, thus satisfying granddaughter duties.
  • After wrangling commitments out of flaky coworkers, bought four tickets to see The Sound of Music, sing-a-long version no less, at The Castro theater on Saturday. If any readers are in the Bay Area and have any interest in participating in the foolishness, do let me know. We all agreed that, when attending an event where there will undoubtedly be at least ten men dressed up as Maria Von Trapp, it is important to have a solid drink beforehand. I see a Grey Goose and Tonic in my future. I am only sorry that A N N A is not in the area right now, as I know she is particularly fond of this movie, maybe as fond of it as my cheesy a$$ is.
  • Researched empanada dough recipes. I've gotten it into my head that it would be great fun to figure out how to make an apple pie version of empanadas. Basically a McDonald's apple pie, sans fried crust, burnt tongues, and 700 additives and preservatives.

Things I have not done today:
  • Anything productive for which I am actually paid to be in this office.

Even though I have already shoved this song in the direction of anyone with a pair of ears, I found the video even more precious, so I had no choice but to be even more overbearing. There is a nice Holi-esque moment towards the end that is rather sweet as well.

I am thankful for Regina Spektor, among a 1000 other things. I am even thankful for the absurdity of work, as when my boss sent out an email yesterday with the subject line Gobble, gobble without a hint of subversive humor whatsoever.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

I get kind of hectic inside

One of the little glitches that comes with hanging out with lots of GBFs is that you start listening to Mariah Carey and Justin Timberlake. Not only that, but when you admit it, instead of laughing at you as should be appropriate, your GBFs give you affirmations and snaps instead.

Lack of sleep makes me loopy. I found myself chatting up people this morning in a seeming drug-addled nervous giddiness. That's how boring I am at times- my coworkers will probably stage an intervention to tell me I need to get some sleep.

It is actually W's fault. We are probably the worst penpals in the history of penpals. When we were younger, it was even worse, for drama-ridden reasons- there were whole gaps in our history because we were off having a pout and shutting each other out for months on end. Now, the gaps are unintentional. He lives on a different continent, and even taking away the geography, we are in wildly different points in our life. Taking that into account and throwing in sloppy helpings of our busy schedules and our lackadaisical attitude about keeping in touch, it takes the kettle bubbling over to induce us to write.

Then again, sometimes it is okay to take friends for granted. In fact, sometimes that is the whole beauty of a good friendship. I have known W longer than any other close friend, and we seem to have this built-in mechanism of sensing that we are drifting too far apart. When that happens, we snap back together as if we are a rubberband that was pulled taut and let free.

Yesterday, he dropped the bomb that he is planning a trip out here to visit. Most likely in January. I know better than to get worked up about such things. He is almost as bad as TMB as far as dangling the promise of visiting the Bay Area and then flaking out (I keed, TMB!) goes. Come to think of it, I am on shaky ground- I have been making mention of visiting W in Europe for over a year now and I never got around to it. All the same, the mere possibility of him visiting made me heady for all of yesterday. I have not seen him for three years, which is definitely a record, even for our sorry friendship.

Three years. That is what kept me up last night. Three years- thinking about it made me realize how much passed by in those three years. With both of the two friends I have kept since college, I have witnessed such profound shifts. They are not anything like they were when I first met them. And yet they are. There is still some piece of them that remains mine, or ours. I do not know if I have changed that radically. I probably have, but it is hard to notice such things, despite being introspective and navel-gazing to the point of blogging. I have been here all this time, so the changes seem rather gradual and slight. But maybe the cumulative effect transforms me to someone altogether different from who I was.

In other giddiness news, the broseph did really well on the GMAT, a beast he's been wrangling for quite a torturous while now. I am so happy for him that I could explode. He has really struggled with this- broseph's like the anti-Indian as far as standardized tests go, and he also suffers from chronic laziness. So, turning it around and getting his act together on this test is no small feat for him. I told him to go to Union Square, run up the stairs in a jogging suit, and do the Rocky dance, but he sounded like he was not leaning towards taking my advice.

I am determined to determine how to make pie crust from scratch tonight. I predict disasters galore, and that's just the part where I try to go to the grocery store two days before Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 20, 2006

we won't cry, because it could be fun

Well, I make a lot of mistakes, but somehow, I find a way to make my blunders tolerable. It is probably because of the plentiful opportunities I have to practice making lemonade from lemons (one of my mistakes was telling someone last week "to make lemon from lemonade"- I just had to own my stupidity on that one). Here are two examples from this weekend:
    Mistake #1: buying blood orange juice from Trader Joe's
    What went wrong: false assumption that, even though I only drink fresh-squeezed orange juice, everything at Trader Joe's tastes good.
    Corrective action: mixing equal parts of Diet 7Up & TJ's blood orange juice makes a refreshing, Aranciata-like beverage.

    Mistake #2: thinking I could make a sweater that fit perfectly.
    What went wrong: overestimation of talents and blind ignorance of obvious size issues that resulted in a sweater that would be great if my arms were actual tree trunks.
    Corrective action: rip apart sweater by pieces to start again with a better plan, make completely indulgent, small item to keep myself from falling into a rage:

    this close to me

Even though I seem to be on a soapbox lately proclaiming that I am not very girly, it's clear that I have certain domestic inclinations. And that I like a pair of socks with just a little percentage of cashmere in them. Thoroughly impractical, but that is exactly what makes them indulgent. I've also restarted kitchen experimentations, but will have to wait until tonight to see if those efforts turn out to be time well spent or not.

There has also been a bit of a Gift of The Magi incident up in this joint. Due to my grandfather's pleas, I booked a flight to Texas for the holidays. I was feeling pretty fine about that decision until my parents informed me yesterday that my grandfather is visiting EBF starting December 24th. When I called my grandfather this morning to confirm, he whined, "Well, you said you wouldn't be able to come anyways." Not true, but the gramps could not be bothered with details. Technically, it's not really that Gift of the Magi, since my grandfather is not flying to San Francisco or anything. But it remains a massive blunder. I have a few options and I am not sure which I will take:
  • go with the original plan, spend 3 days in H-town, followed by 3 days in Austin, followed by 2 days in H-town. (this works out to spending about 1.5 days with the grandparents)
  • spend 1 day in H-town, spending extra days with the grandparents in Austin instead, go back to H-town right after Christmas (or even on Christmas Eve).
  • cancel trip altogether.

A part of me is really tempted to go with the last option. If my entire initial impulse to go was to visit the grandparents, and they plan to be out the door upon my arrival, perhaps it is better to put the whole thing off until another time. I am hoping to talk to my H-town connection K about it tonight, because I also don't know how tricky it is going to be for me to get from Houston to Austin. Holidays. It seems I really have a knack for complicating them.

Oh also, can I just mention one thing that annoys me? I don't understand one of my friends, who consistently calls on Sunday evenings. Almost every Sunday of late, she says she is just calling to see what is up. But why on a Sunday then? Why not call on a Friday, or better yet, meet up for a drink? Sundays are my evenings to unwind, to talk myself into going to work the next day, to make a pair of cashmere socks. Sundays are not my evening to get a phone call at 10:45 at night to recap the weekend for whatever purpose that might serve. This same friend also tried to whip me into a lather about SC- sometimes I think women are the worst people on earth to consult about men. And actually, I did not even consult her about it- I simply related the hilarity of my behavior in the situation. That was enough for her to start talking about where he could take me hiking. So maybe I am just a little hostile to her about that. But I think it's mostly the Sunday night thing, because it is so wickety wack.

Friday, November 17, 2006

lifetimes are catching up with me

Last night, MM and I went to Market Bar in the Ferry Building. I had hoped to take her to the Ferry Building to indulge in a little window shopping- the place is teeming with ridiculously expensive pastries, cheeses, wines, mushrooms, and JI had told me that on Thursday evenings, they usually hold a farmer's market with all sorts of overpriced and exotic produce. By the time we got there, near 7, the place was empty, most of the stores were closed, and there was no farmer's market to be found anywhere. There was also an event of some sort going on, so Market Bar was deserted.

The food was just what I wanted- everything tasted so good; even my responsible side dish of wilted spinach was delicious. MM even ordered a Kumquat Soda (wtf?!? I didn't even know what a kumquat should taste like) that turned out to be so tasty that I am considering hunting around for it in the local markets. And because I rarely see MM, and she had dropped the news that she was 7 months pregnant, we both turned a completely blind eye to the exorbitant cost of dining there, absorbed instead in catching up with each other's lives.

MM and I diverged somewhere along the way and wound up on completely different trajectories. And it is nice to know that, even when that happens, it is possible for two people to respect each other's choices and to be genuinely happy for each other. That sounds so obvious and so simple, but it is interesting how rarely friendships unfold in that manner.

It turns out we had not seen each other since February. That did not seem that long ago, not even a full year. Yet when we got down to the business of recounting what had transpired for each of us since then, it was rather overwhelming. We kept pausing and then saying, "Oh, and I don't think I told you this either."

I am not sure if it is evident from these daily ramblings, but I was on lockdown for quite some time, years. I had my nose to the grindstone, head to the stars. But as I started thinking of what has happened to me in the past year, I realized that this has really been a period of coming out of my cage, and I've been doing just fine. I am a little surprised at it, because I am still largely preoccupied by The Goal. So much remains uncertain and unclear. But I think at some now-unidentifiable point, I simply snapped and thought f*** it. Or perhaps it was not active. Perhaps it just happened to me. Certainly, a series of unpredictable events have occurred since the last time I saw MM. But I am not sure how much of it was just a bizarre alignment of the fates, and how much of it was what I allowed into my life. I have been just busy enough not to have the time to scrutinize and tease out such nuances- or maybe I have kept myself busy enough.

Just to make life even more unstable and uncertain, that job that got dangled in front of me? The fools are throwing a full-court press at me now. This is a really difficult call, and I am trying to be as level about it as I can. I have told the hiring manager that it is a tough call for me now. This current job is mind numbing and the suck but it's not killing me at the moment, and I plan to hand them my resignation as soon as they hand me my bonus. On the other hand, if I take the new job, it would be interesting work, but intense, would involve a lot of travel, and would mean that I would have to stay in Corporate America all the way to the summer, cutting into plans for a period of rest before embarking on the culmination of The Goal. Now I know why I struggled so much in multivariate calculus.

And let me leave you with more tales of 12-year old behavior:
    Co-worker GBF: (looking out the window) Hey look, it's your favorite guy.
    me: I have a favorite guy? Where?
    CWGBF: There. (pointing at speck in distance in window)
    me: Who is that?
    CWGBF: SC.
    me: Shut up!

Don't get me wrong- I can't think of a better way to end the week than sliding into pre-adolescent conversation.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

still building and burning down love

Last night, driving to the gym, I caught U2 performing on KFOG's Live from the Archives. Even though radio stations around here generally stink, I still prefer the radio to anything else when I am driving. Something about the unpredictability of it and my short-attention span channel-changing appeals to me when I am on the road. When I used to drive from New Jersey to EBF, a 5-6 hour drive, I would pass through some patches where the only radio stations were country, but that just helped me to mark the distance I was passing, bringing me closer to my destination.

When I first caught U2 on KFOG, they were playing Mysterious Ways. Not my favorite song, but since I called a moratorium on Achtung Baby for a long while, it was nice to hear it after all these years. The line if you want to kiss the sky, better learn how to kneel never fails to evacuate the air from my lungs for a nanosecond. Next came All I Want is You, and I could not believe my luck (though I could not stop myself from considering the tragedy that the first time that song was used for dramatic purposes, it was in such a mediocre film). Bono might be a bombastic jacka$$, but the dude could write a song back in the day.

In the parking lot of the gym, just as I was pulling into a space, my heart just stopped. It only took about two seconds of a guitar intro to do me in. There was nothing to do but sit there in the darkness, listening. I have heard the song a million times. And yet, I may as well have been glued to the driver's seat.
    if you twist and turn away
    if you tear yourself in two again

And that is really all it took. Just a little guitar and two lines of a song, and I was floored. I cannot explain it properly, of course. The song is supposedly about drug addiction, and I have never struggled with that and have never known anyone struggling with that. As usual, I have probably completely misappropriated it for some other purpose. The problem is, I cannot even place it to a single person, a single event, a single anything. It is not a memory so much as a feeling. And I sit there in the darkness with it, trying to breathe, stunned by how this song still gets to me.

It was nothing a flailing run could not fix, but if I am being perfectly honest, I love feeling that way. One of the reasons I am so fond of music is that it can be that powerful, that it can stop you from all the banalities of the day and command your attention. And even though I have nothing specifically for which to feel melancholy, I must admit that a good dip into a pool of bad memories is sometimes just what I need. Because they are not really bad memories, they are bad feelings. And I prefer feeling sad over feeling numb.

Of course, I will take feeling happy over both. And that is just what I will be when I see my friend MM tonight, one of two friends I have retained from my university years. A week ago, when she told me she was going to be in town again and urged me to meet her for dinner, she casually included the news that she is 7 months pregnant. Difficult to fathom that a girl that once burst into tears because she thought two guys were cheating against us at a game of Euchre will be a mother in just a few months.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

forgive me for forgetting

Sorry that my posts this week will probably be revolving around grandparents, but it is far better than the other things I might whine or rant about. My grandfather and I talked last night. We usually have this standard routine when we talk: he asks me when I am coming to visit him, I respond with a vague "we'll see" in Gujarati, he makes a "hmmmppph" disapproving grunt, and it is left at that. I know that the "we'll see" thing sounds noncommittal and unsatisfying, but it is actually a family tradition. Our whole family generally responds with "we'll see." In some ways, it is a sign of adulthood. Growing up, I was always on the receiving end of the "we'll see." Can we go to the zoo next week? "We'll see." Can I have a Rubik's Cube for Christmas? "We'll see." Can I get a Cabbage Patch Kid? "Hell to the No." Okay, so I didn't always get "we'll see." But in general, in my family, you get a no or a maybe. There is no getting to yes.

Maybe it's because we take yes very seriously. Or maybe it's just because we are a bunch of fools. Either way, as aggravating as it might sometimes be, we have all gotten used to the response. So, I was taken aback when my grandfather's reaction strayed from our established script. He burst out, "So you're not coming for Christmas?" with such disappointment that it was jarring for a moment. I assured him that nothing had been decided. That was not satisfactory. Next, I tried misdirection, and pointed out that the bro-seph was a firm no. This just seemed to make my grandfather sad, so I decided I had better stop, telling him I would try.

In all honesty, I was frustrated with the conversation because it uncovered how much my command of Gujarati is constantly deteriorating. While I understand it without any difficult, my spoken Gujarati must be like nails against a chalkboard for my grandparents. They are, of course, extremely understanding because:
  • When I was nearly 3 years old, I went to India, and left speaking pitch-perfect Gujarati. When my father picked me up at the airport, he asked me questions in English, and I kept replying in Gujarati. Even though that should be ancient history, it somehow secured my grandparents' favor.
  • If you give me enough time, I slip back into a closer semblance of fluency, and my grandparents know this.
  • I try to speak to them in Gujarati, which is a rarity amongst their American-born grandchildren.
  • I am also the only American-born grandchild who learned to write in Gujarati, so they have misplaced faith that I will one day regain full fluency.
  • They are my grandparents, and they have no other choice.

Probably the most comical part of my language issues is that, occasionally, I throw Spanish into the mix by mistake. My grandfather speaks English, and my grandmother understands basic English. But neither of them knows a word of Spanish. So when I start babbling in Gujarati and pick up real speed, I inadvertently drop in a Spanish word, and confusion ensues. Likewise, when I went to Peru, every so often, when I was finally feeling confident that I could converse with a local in Spanish, a Gujarati word would find its way out of my mouth, and a perplexed que??? would follow.

Anyway, I guess I have to hunt down some flights now. I am actually going to try to hit two cities in Texas in one trip: H-town and Austin. Oh, and I have to get a ticket to Cleveland for January. I really know how to pick my destinations, don't you think?

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

going back to my own ones

Even though I am not a religious person, I guess I have a sense of faith. It comes at moments like this. It came to me young, when I realized my immediate family was never going to be idyllic. Just as I realized that my little family unit was never going to live in perfect harmony, a large segment of my family swept into my life and filled the void.

When you have that many people genuinely vested in your well-being, you can feel it, and you know that ultimately you will be okay. My extended family lets me down all the time- they do not understand me, they have that special knack that family has of saying exactly the wrong thing at the wrong time, and my, are they demanding. But I cannot hold it against them for long, for two reasons. First, they love me, and in a way that no one else ever will. Second, every so often, one of them comes through, and always in such a spectacular fashion that I feel like I am going to burst.

My cousin A emailed me yesterday pleading with me to come visit for the holidays. I was resolved to begin a traveling embargo that would not be lifted until 2007. But a constellation of symptoms has me reconsidering. There is the email from A, which had his signature sweetness dripping in every word. But there was also, last night, a voicemail from my grandfather. My grandfather has been calling me a lot lately, and this is not a good thing. He has been lonely and generally unhappy of late.

And something about listening to his voice last night on the answering machine calmed me down from the unsteadiness and annoyance I had been experiencing intermittently the past few months. Co-worker GBF noted yesterday that everyone wants a piece of me. That is not really true- as I have mentioned before, co-worker GBF is prone to exaggeration. But I have been feeling pulled, I have been feeling unable to meet the demands that people have been making of me.

You would think that my family pulling at me would just exacerbate that feeling, but it did not. It snapped it all into focus. It made everyone else's expectations all the more impossible and yet so much less troubling. I cannot meet everyone's expectations. I cannot even meet my family's expectations most of the times. The difference is that my family's demands are easy to handle; even if I disappoint them or let them down, we will still be family, we will still be bound.

I sometimes think it is easier for me to let go of friendships because of my relationship with my extended family. Even though I value my close friends immensely, and in some ways am closer to them than my family, I do not do much in the way of striving to mend a broken friendship or to tolerate the drama that comes with some friendships. And I am fairly certain it is because I am spoiled, incredibly spoiled by my family.

Even though I know this betrays a lot of shortcomings, for some reason, it makes me feel quite a bit better about life. I was getting to the point of feeling universally reviled, so just now, it's good to hear a message from your grandfather scolding you for not calling him, scolding you in that loving way that only grandparents can. For all its flaws, which he knows all too well, my presence is wanted. And actually, with all its flaws, my presence is wanted. Maybe that is what makes his voice enough at such a moment.

Monday, November 13, 2006

it ain't me babe

Even though I was all set to start off the week with a hissy fit about how I do not understand women, and how I've come up with a new rule (the rule is- if I'm not getting any action from you, I am not putting myself on the receiving end of histrionics, drama, or pissiness), this morning a metaphorical bucket of water was thrown into my face.

I had brashly prophesized in September that the clowns were on their way, that there was undoubtedly one in my future. What I failed to realize, of course, is that I am, in fact, the clown.

It dawned on me this morning in terms of equilibrium. Every system has a point of equilibrium, but that equilibrium is not consistent or uniform. It is not smack in the middle, sitting on the fence. It's just innate- a point of comfort, a point you reach after the backwards and forwards of life shifts you from one extreme to the other. You reach an equilibrium point that is your center, not the center, if that makes any sense. It is the point where you are you, and things make sense, and you can get through the day without feeling in some excitable transition state.

People have frequently asked me why I am single. It is a question which always irked me, because, to me, it seems like asking, "Why do you have black hair?" But maybe that's just it. Being alone is my equilibrium, my natural state. I have good evidence to back this up. I'm never more neurotic, insane, unsteady, uncomfortable than when I am trying to navigate sharing a space for a minute or two. And even though I get thrown a few right hooks from time to time, I manage to feel mostly grounded when I am by myself.

I have been in equilibrium for so long that it is no wonder that the thought of shifting into unsteadiness fills me with dread. Molecules can exist on their own peacefully, but they can also find a state of equilibrium when combined. The problem is that you have to knock the individual molecule out of its comfort zone to get it to that next point of stability. This is particularly difficult because a molecule does not know what lies ahead. It does not know that there may be another trough ahead- all it sees is the upward climb of anxious energy. One has to take it on faith that something calm may lie ahead, but there is no guarantee.

So I hold that lack of faith directly responsible for my behavior this morning, when I boarded an elevator with SC and acted like a 15-year old, making small talk and shifting my eyes nervously to get out of the situation as quickly as possible. This is after getting about five different lectures from friends, strictly instructing me to be friendly to SC the next time I see him, because he is a nice guy. And as a nice guy, he deserved an olive branch, a flag wave that signalled that he could proceed without fear. But I just could not do it. The fact is- he should tread lightly, he should be cautious, he should be afraid.