Sunday, April 30, 2006

I will be interesting when you're alone and feeling bored

Once again, I am clocking in because I have maximized my occupancy of every neural receptor. I am full. Unsurprisingly, this leads to babble-blogging. In other words, expect this to be even more nonsensical than usual.

The one unrelated to The Goal activity I engaged in this weekend was to go see Deepa Mehta's Water last night. And while I would love to regale you with a movie review, my thoughts, and all that boring sh*t, lucky for you, my brain is too fried to comply. Instead, I will confess that I swooned, nay, I nearly jumped out of my seat with excitement during the preview to A Scanner Darkly. A who whatsy, you ask?

Yes, folks. The dirty truth is out. Here are the reasons I silently squeed right before a movie about widows in 1930s India:
  • F*ck it, people. I'm only human. Keanu Reeves is kind of cute.
  • Plus, by animating him, it's possible he might actually be able to pull off some acting in this medium.
  • And of course, as soon as I saw the animation, I knew it was a Richard Linklater film. Linklater of making greasy Ethan Hawke likable and calming Jack Black down into an actual humorous individual instead of the next Robin Williams fame. I can forgive him The Newton Boys based on Dazed & Confused alone.
  • Based on the animated Waking Life, also a Linklater film, I have to assume this will be another film that will allow me to feel like I'm on drugs without actually developing a heroin habit.
  • Oh, and who produced the film? El Clooney and Steven Soderbergh. I feel ambivalent about Soderbergh. I still can't decide whether to like him or hate him for convincing me that Jennifer Lopez had some acting capabilities.
  • Okay, and also it's based on a Philip K. Dick story, and based on Bladerunner alone, that ought to carry some weight.

In other news, the bro-seph went to Coachella this weekend, and the weather was breathtakingly beautiful out today. I'd conclude that the universe is conspiring against me, except that it's impossible to believe the universe would put up so much effort on my behalf.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

stamp out your fire, he can change your desire

My version of retail therapy:
  • Purchasing Happy Mondays' Step On from iTunes. Yes, I am a fossil, but what I will do for nostalgic purposes is, well, pretty much anything.
  • A free (ahem, legal) download of a Wolfmother tune. Not because I know anything about them, but because it seems to compensate for the Happy Mondays business. And yet I somehow feel that Step On will be seeing more action on my playlist, go figure.
  • Three Hangar One & Tonics.

It is not right to blog when I should be getting sh*t done. On the other hand, it is not right not to blog if all I did tonight was get toasted. Sure, it was work-related carousing, but at this point, does it really matter?

A quick tale to demonstrate compelling evidence of the burgeoning, or resurgence, of my idiocy. Even though I was trying to observe turn off your television week, I thought I would videotape Alias, because... um, how shall I put this... the eye candy that is Vaughn. I know you may be thinking that I am chiding myself for taping a stupid television show, but that is not my gripe. My problem is that I set the VCR to record from 7:58 to 8:05.

Also, I said this to KL tonight after getting a lecture from another coworker about how we really should be focusing on the nice guys: "But worthless bastards are so much more fun."

See, sometimes silence really is golden.

Monday, April 24, 2006

all my friends say that of course it's gonna get better

At the moment, I cannot recall if I wrote it down here or not, but W & I once had a long, alcohol-laced conversation about talking vs. doing, and how there is a time and place where one should outweigh the other. In a beautiful piece of blog serendipity, Maitri pointed out the same thing today.

I know she did not mean for it to have this end result, but it rather crystallized some thoughts I have been having of late. I cannot talk out both sides of my mouth. I cannot talk about quitting a job that pays the rent, and turn around and spend time blogging. And certainly, it is a form of release, but whining is boring after a while. Contrary to what the usual reader of this blog would surmise, I actually loathe whining about the same topic ad nauseam. If you're really so miserable, do something about it.

And I am doing something about it, which further complicates matters. All I really want to write about right now has to do with The Goal, but I am unable. And that, too, is boring to anyone but me.

Everyone has been amazing and supportive and superfantastic. But now is the time on Sprockets when we dance. Not really. Now is the time for work- lots and lots of work. Action. So if I seem a little silent here, it's because I am trying to convert the usual nonsense into something of import.

That's not to say I might not be back tomorrow with endless incoherent ramblings, whinings and b*tchy remarks. I'm nothing if not inconsistent. Wait, does that even make sense?!?

Friday, April 21, 2006

it's the one thing

The perfect cure to a crappy work week is not actually large quantities of Hangar One (sorry, khakra, I love the stuff, but mere alcohol doesn't thrill me at all... at least today). Instead, today, I left work early in order to pursue the Goal. On this beautiful San Francisco day, I spent most of my afternoon indoors, but I could feel the sun shining on my face the whole time.

It takes an afternoon like this to realize that in life, I am actually well blessed and mostly happy. It took the negation of the one thing that is sucking my soul dry to once again recognize that fact. I overlayed the antidote to my job this afternoon. The antidote to my job is not a vacation. A vacation is a break: it's a treatment, not a cure. The antidote to my job is the job.

The timing was impeccable. I had been feeling rather ambivalent about my decision to be rational about quitting my job. Most of my ambivalence was related to a swirl of doubt winding around in my brain for the last week. I have been so run down this week that I have kept asking myself- Is there really any point in pursuing the completely unattainable? Even if I am able to work 40 hours a week, do I really have any chance of getting everything done? And even if I do everything that can be, is it not all futile? And why am I stuck on this anyway? Isn't it only the few fortunate ones who get to do something they really love for a living? A thousand doubts, creating endless static, crackling so loudly that I could not sleep last night.

And today, I walked out into the sunlight at the end of the afternoon, and the streets were abuzz with activity and chatter. But I heard nothing. Everything was silent. Only one thought- this is what I have to do. I know, in some ways, that I avoided exposing myself to this until today, because I knew this feeling would seize me. It is slightly scary, to want something so intensely. From such great heights, the fall will hurt like a b*tch.

But today, I do not feel vertigo. I have a temporary set of wings, and I am floating on air.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

day after day I get angry and I will say

Before I even start to sully this space, let me say this first and foremost: thank you, thank you, thank you for all the supportive words, encouragement, caught Office Space references in the comments section, for the sweet text messages, and for the emails that each settled my tummy in their own unique way. I got a big motherf***ing loan from the girl zone. Everyone touched me in their own way, but I want to especially thank Ms. V. I have been an absolute toad about keeping in touch with her, finding out how she has been, checking on why she has not been blogging, and she left an extensively awesome comment yesterday. And for that, I am truly humbled by the blog world and so many of the wonderful people in it.

The real world, on the other hand, continues to suck the big one. It will come as no surprise to anyone who knows me, but I did not quit. I did lay down the law, and the boss lady did get beautifully uncomfortable, as if she had finally been exposed for a fraud. This nearly enraged me moreso, because there was a degree of admission in that look, admission that she knew I had been overworked, admission that she had not done anything in the way of telling people to let up when she knew she should have. I wonder how people like this sleep at night. Then again, this is one of those times when my cynical mask cracks and the idealist underneath becomes apparent: if I was sufficiently jaded, I should have expected as much.

The end result is that the boss lady now knows that my time is precious, and that times, they are a-changing. The important thing in these situations, I have learned, is not to waver in the slightest. You have to make statements like I cannot work hours like this anymore, instead of open-ended remarks like I have been working too many hours. Since I am back to being as cranky as I want to be, I fully expect nothing to happen, though. But I am giving her a week before I crack and simply stop coming to work.

V and maisnon were right, in that there is something liberating about standing up for yourself. If anything, I have at a minimum earned myself a reprieve from any snark or harassment should I curtail my hours to seemingly meager (translation: 40 hours). And the next six weeks are do-or-die time for me, and I do not want to look back on the time and think ah, if only I had not spent seventy hours at work every week, I might have actually achieved The Goal. It is the worst feeling in the world to wonder if you made that sort of misstep, to be nagged by all the if only's.

In other news, this has been a great study of what I do when I am on the verge of frantic explosion:
  • Stare into vodka heaven at Voda. The lounge, in addition to being on the most precious of precious alleys, Belden Place (ahem- note, not in the Mission), literally has a wall of vodka. But the psychedelic part is that the wall is backlit with colored lights that fade every so often into another color. I think the bartender thought I might be on drugs, because I ordered myself a Hangar One and tonic, and spaced out into oblivion for a solid fifteen minutes before my co-worker showed up.
  • Snap at people who try to talk my down off the ledge by telling me I need to calm down. I am not proud of this behavior, but sometimes, you need to be not calm. A little angst can go a long way into propelling you into motion. I needed to believe I could have quit today if pushed. Staying calm does not allow for that.
  • Eat massive quantities of Easter chocolate that a co-worker gave me. Seriously. My throat is sore from the amount of sugar I have ingested, and my stomach feels like it is coated with lard. Nice visual, right? Why can't I suffer from that thing where, when people are depressed, they cannot eat. Break me off some of that.

Now I have to go home and be disappointed with the return of Alias. I hear there is only about five seconds of Vaughn, so I am not sure why I am even bothering, except that I need something mindless.

Tomorrow will be a better day. I have to do something for The Goal, which always makes me feel strangely better about things.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

there is no you, there is only me

There has been a change of plans up in here as a result of staying at work until nearly 9 pm yesterday. This is my game plan, after finding out that the head of my department told a trusted source that I am coasting (?!?). This particularly sucks, because the people that are actually on my team have been bathing me in lurve of late, but I am nearing the end of my rope. This is in part my own fault, because I do not do much of a PR job about what I do every day. I know some a$$holes who always send an email to people at 9 pm so that everyone knows how late they were working, but that sh*t makes my stomach turn. Instead of that, this is an outline of the battle of me vs. the man:
  • You clearly do not comprehend how many hours I have been working of late.
  • I cannot work these sorts of hours right now.
  • Due to my current personal life, I cannot work more than 40-50 hours per week.
  • If you cannot make that happen, then you have two options- give me an unpaid leave of absence for the next two months to sort things out or accept my resignation.

This sucks because I always wanted a severance package, or to set the place on fire. But let's see how it plays out. Or for that matter, if I even have the cojones to say all of this.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

doesn't take much to rip us into pieces

Okay, I swear I am not complaining about work, but I had to get to work at 7:30 this morning. I know that is technically not a big deal, so I am not whining. I swear. But last night, I went to bed feeling absolutely confident I would wake up very early this morning. Why? Because all of this weekend, talk of the 100 year anniversary of the great San Francisco earthquake floated on every airwave. And supposedly, at five o'clock this morning, church bells and sirens were supposed to be wailing. Either I am a light sleeper or the Mission decided let the motherf***er burn, because I barely rose to my alarm clamouring in my ear at 6:15.

That was a wee disappointing, because I had gone to bed thinking about how crazy it would be to wake to such sirens, to even feel for a nanosecond the panic that people feel in massive earthquakes. I was not in San Francisco in 1989. Where I grew up, in EBF, if we had a thunderstorm, it was a considered a crazy natural phenomenon. Earthquakes were things only discussed, like when you mentioned you wanted to move to California, for example. The thing is, I have never really felt an earthquake in San Francisco either. Once, I was sitting in my apartment and thought I felt a tremor. The apartment seemed to sway slightly for a moment. But I live in such a crack shack that I could not be sure if it was an earthquake or a large truck passing my apartment. I checked the reports for the next day or so to see if there was one in the news, but I think it was a false alarm.

Forces of nature like that frighten me and fascinate me at the same time. But I have certainly experienced that uneasy feeling, the feeling that the ground beneath my feet is unsteady. In some ways, ever since I moved to San Francisco, I have been on shaky ground. I pulled the rug out from underneath myself. A life had been carved out, with dinner parties and Sunday barbecues, long weekends at summer homes and winters spent in ski houses. I had rides to the airport, and people to bring me soup when I had the flu. All of this and more, and I thumbed my nose at it all and walked away.

I talk a lot of sh*t about my affection for the Mission, and how important moving to San Francisco has been. For the most part, I stand by it. I could never regret where I am now. But I know I am in earthquake country. Every day is filled with a hundred uncertainties and doubts. Yet, I know that I needed to be on the rock solid east coast for the time that I was there. It was as though my molecules were not really staying together in my younger years, like it would take just the slightest perturbation for me to dissolve apart. With two feet on the ground, you can create those inner bonds. By the time I moved out here, I was steady enough that the tremors of life's twists and turns could be weathered. I could afford to jump across the gaping chasms that opened before me, because I had a kind of inner parachute that could rescue me.

But I know what I gave up. Many of my dearest friends still live on the east coast, and even though I have been horrid at keeping in touch with them, they still invite me to their weddings, they still try to set me up with dudes they know, and they still come to visit. And what is amazing about those friends is that some of them have so little in common with me on the surface. The nice thing about being stuck in the suburbs is that you are forced to take a dip beneath the superficial, to go in search of what lies a layer below. And you find yourself shocked at how much everyone has in common underneath it all.

And yes, that was very cheesy. But, A called me today to tell me he is visiting this summer. We used to be roommates, but we both moved away from the house that really felt like a home. For a long time, I attributed many of my east coast friendships to convenience. But I know that is a crock, because there was nothing convenient about coordinating a trip to Peru with A. And even though we nearly killed each other in the process, we did it, and it would not have been the same without him. Even that, I could pass off as the convenience of a common goal. Just over a year later, he will prove me wrong by heading out to the land of earthquakes, another solid soul on a roller-coaster ride.

Monday, April 17, 2006

I'd stop and talk, but I'm already in love

Two weeks ago, a friend of mine told me that she burst into tears on a Sunday. She had spent the entire weekend running errands and preparing for big presentations she had to make during the week. On Sunday evening, she suddenly realized that her whole life was starting to serve her work and only her work, and that thought plunged her into a minor meltdown.

I do not know if it was that feeling, or the shiv in the gut from the taxes, or just reversion to the norm, but I decided to just go on a mental holiday this weekend. No worrying, no planning, no studying. No responsible behavior whatsoever. I want to say "I did nothing, and it was everything I hoped it would be." Yet that is not really fitting in this case, because I did more than I do most weekends. It is just that it all fit under the umbrella of alcohol & laughter, instead of the usual obligations. But it was everything I hoped it would be.

The bro-seph came over on Friday to pick up some mail and eat whatever was on my kitchen table. The kid has clearly been swallowed up by the relationship gods, because he went hyperactively jubilant at my simply tolerance of him dipping a piece of dark chocolate straight into a peanut butter jar. After that, I barreled my way into the oodles commune, bottle of Charbay in tow. Let the bender begin. I was pleased as punch to sit in her kitchen, to drink without hesitation, and to babble incoherently (and that was before the alcohol had gone into effect).

After drama-free Friday, I drank a gallon of water on Saturday morning. I contend that Charbay, Pomegranate Juice and Ginger Ale should not cause dehydration. Someone needs to work on this issue. Anyway, fully hydrated, I made a torte to bring over to a dinner party. About half way through the concoction of the pecan torte, I realized: I have never actually had a torte before. This can cause some issues, because I have no clue what a torte is supposed to taste like, or look like for that matter. So how would I know if the experiment failed? In the end, I mitigated all risks in this way:

When all else fails, chocolate frosting can cover up any potential blunders pretty well. I thought this dinner party was going to be low key, but I was clearly suffering from some kind of dementia. Where JP goes, low key is not a possibility. Instead, I drank a half a bottle of wine while I was regaled by many stories about Brazil, involving communication snafus, prostitutes, and of course snow. By the way, you have to work to drink a half a bottle of Gewurtzraminer. It takes dedication and focus- oh, and a good bottle that is not sickeningly sweet. So, I got home just in time to watch Eddie Vedder standing awkwardly next to Lindsay Lohan during the closing credits on SNL. That was a very weird visual, so I was glad to be under the influence at that moment.

Sunday, reality started creeping in. But before it fully manifested, oodles, ads and I went on a real adventure. We went to Cupertino, b*tches! I would love to complain about this, because I so enjoy whining, but actually, there was nothing at all unpleasant about it. Chai was in town, so we got to meet here there, along with maisnon and Anjali. This rocked because seeing Chai always rocks, meeting new people rocks, and laughing really hard rocks too. All of this plus an Indian pizzeria. And talk of Peru and karaoke. Even the drive home was fine, because the days are getting longer now. 280 was beautifully lush, because of the very rain that I am always cursing.

Wrapping so much joy into a ball, squeezing it tight, and ingesting it is a strange pill. It might feel like too much, even slightly manic, but it was just right. All the Sunday evening have-to-do's crept in, but without the same oppressive feeling accompanying it. I need to go on benders more often.

Friday, April 14, 2006

should five percent appear too small

Every dude I know, plus about 80% of the women I know, and nearly every Guju I know would be utterly horrified by me today. Here is where I chronicle yet another one of my frighteningly awful qualities. If some people use blogs to attract people, I think I am doing a good job with mine of scaring any and everyone away.

I know how to make money. I know how to save money. My rent gets paid every month. The electricity has never been turned off. If I lost my job tomorrow, I would not immediately freak out about how I was going to survive. But thinking about money beyond these terms immediately causes me to develop a headache, and makes me inexplicably drowsy. I should care more. Money does, after all, get you a lot of the things you need in life, and can certainly give you the freedom to do quite a lot. But honestly, I am getting bored just writing this paragraph.

Of course, all of this is on my mind because I just did my taxes, and realized that I just got hosed. I did not get hosed because taxes are so exorbitantly steep in my bracket; I got hosed because I do not have any financial sense about properly investing and allocating savings and... sorry, I dozed off again. Even though I took a sucker punch to the gut, I am still not sufficiently moved to actually learn a lesson from all of this.

Except this. If things ever calm down around this joint, I am posting a personal ad for someone with the following qualities: housekeeper and financial advisor/tax accountant wrapped up into one. I think this is a perfect example of what a stingy Guju I can be at times- if I wasn't such a cheap bastard, I would not be looking to date someone with these skills. I would simply hire them. Then again, why pay for the cow when you can get the milk for free? Somehow that phrase seems wildly inappropriate in this context, but f*ck it. It is also inappropriate for a person my age to be so stupid about managing their finances, but here I stand, head in hand, turn my face to the wall. Somehow, I suspect this tax business is one of those things I am conveniently going to neglect to tell any of my male friends about. When they get into lecture mode, they are worse than a pack of aunties.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

when I can't think straight and there's no escape

Here's a little list of subject lines that really should not appear on work emails:
  • I need you
  • Where are you
  • Don't have a cow, man

The last one is, at least, humorous. The first two are Creepy McStalkerish. Looks like someone needs to go to Workplace Sensitivity Training.

Sometimes, I think my job, which often consists of corraling children and keeping them from smacking each other, has slowly chipped away at any maternal instinct I might have ever had. Maybe it is different if they are actually five years old, instead of simply acting five years old, but sweet sassy molassy, immaturity is annoying at work (in life, on the other hand, it is indispensable). When I find myself refereeing quarrels that would be more appropriate in a sandbox, consoling people on the phone because their feelings (that sound was me vomiting) were hurt, and getting needy emails that feel like someone tugging at apron strings, well, it's enough to cement my status as misanthrope extraordinaire.

Since this week has involved juggling several activities, none of which included the completion of my taxes, I concluded the only thing to do was to stir the pot even more. Oodles & I had a conversation a few weeks back that went something like this:
    oodles: I ate the last of the Thin Mints and now they're all gone. (insert sad face)
    brimful: What's the big deal? Do what I do- get more!
    oodles: Where am I going to get more?
    brimful: What do you mean? We can go to Walgreen's and get some right now.
    oodles: (silent, but face says WTFF?!?)

Somehow I had convinced myself that Thin Mints were After Eight's. Not so much. I felt I ought to observe some sort of penance for this blunder, and this belittling of the true tragedy that is the last of the Girl Scout cookie stash. There is nothing funny about that.

So, the experiment started. First, there was planning. Planning involves me consulting a few books, watching Lost, relishing the knowing glances exchanged between Locke & Rose (I loves me the geriatric ward), yelling for more Mister Eko, and then scratching my head some more pondering whether it is time to get off my a$$ and get my hands dirty. After planning comes execution. Here is a tip: when making pseudo-Thin Mints, exercise caution before tasting the dough. Unless you don't mind feeling like you just took a shot of Peppermint Schnapps and washed it down with some industrial strength Listermint. After recovering from that, I sent the suckers to the oven. They emerged as such:

When running a reaction, it is always good to take an aliquot of your experiment to test. This keeps you from wasting a lot of time on something that really should go straight to the garbage. So, the dark chocolate coating followed on a small subset, and the result was:

For all my fears of the cookies being too minty, they might not actually be minty enough. My friend M gave me a real Thin Mint today, and I realized the chocolate is also an issue. Real Thin Mint chocolate is mostly greasy, not particularly chocolatey. It is going to be hard to get around that one. This is the part of experimentation that always causes me to falter. If you want to optimize an experiment, you need to think through what variables need to be changed. More peppermint? Thinner cookies? Less chocolate coating? Should I try all, one at a time, or hang it all up?

When I used to have roommates, this was the perfect time to get them involved. They were polar opposites. A would eat whatever I made, call it fantastic, and ask for more. M would eat whatever I made, pause to make sure I was not going to get upset, and then tell me it was missing something. This was perfect- A kept my confidence high while M kept me from deluding myself into thinking I was competent. This is the problem with subjecting polite people to tasting things. Maybe I need some more jerks in my life. Let me know if you have an extra jerk you have tired of.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

I scratch a living, it ain't easy, you know it's a drag

Apropos of nothing, can I expound on the genius of the tangelo? It's your basic mutt- I always thought it was a cross between an orange and a tangerine, but actually it's the result of mating a tangerine with a grapefruit. This is hard for me to fathom, because the tangelo contains the nectar of the gods, so sweet is its fruit. This might be the time to point out that I, in my typical, unhealthy fashion, am really not a fan of eating fruit. Orange juice usually makes me pucker, unless it is fresh squeezed. I am a high-maintenance b*tch. But, it turns out it is simply because I had not found the right fruit for me. The tangelo can do no wrong. Lately, I eat three to five a week at work. I know this pales in comparison to the number of fruits one should be eating. However, this is good for me, because I have always lived in fear of falling ill from scurvy because of my poor eating habits.

Now that I have shared that very important and deeply personal news, allow me to take a moment to confess that I absolutely adore it when people call me on my bullsh*t. Okay, maybe I don't always relish it, but I like it when people call my bluffs on this space. The reasons are simple:
    a) it means someone is actually reading this crap and
    b) it keeps me honest.

This time, youthful upstart Yasmine caught me on conveniently ommitting a rather crucial question I have been pondering for a little while now. Do I take this job and shove it? Or do I suck it up and keep on keeping on?

The answer is a little of both and neither. This work is definitely getting in the way of the golden gloves, the goal, as I have been calling it. But I am heading into two months that are going to thrash me one way or another. And I came to the decision that, while quitting my job might be extremely tempting at the moment, it would not help me right now.

If I was wired differently, it might. If I was wired such that I could quit my job and be care free tomorrow, I would have a great reserve of energy to spend on the big tasks ahead for the next two months, the tasks that might get me closer to getting what I want. If I could wake up tomorrow morning without a worry about paying rent or moving to a less costly place or insurance bills or tapping into savings I will ultimately need for the goal, then it would be a no-brainer. But I know my limitations. I know that it would end up being an upheaval that would distract me from the goal rather than getting me closer to it.

In other words, change is hard. And I lack the energy and willpower necessary to brace myself through it. So, I am wimping out for the timebeing. I wish I could say that I promise not to complain about work in the meanwhile, but we all know what a pile of lies that would be.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

when I look down, I miss all the good stuff

Often, I am accused of barreling into situations without knowing exactly what I am getting into. A good example of this- yesterday I had an appointment from 4:30-6:30 and then class from 6:30-9:30. This would be the interlude where I ream everyone who claims they can get from one part of town to another in less than twenty minutes. Getting from Pacific Heights to SOMA took twenty minutes, and that included me violating several traffic laws. While I am ranting about the traffic, let me also add this: it has been raining for a month, San Franciscans. You can learn to drive in this sh*t by now, for crikey's sake.

Anyway, I will admit that, at times, my tendency to dive in without knowing where I am heading is not so wise. Other times, though, it is the only way to know for certain if I am moving in the right direction. So (bear with me here) the guiding principles of dendritic cells tickle me.

Immature dendritic cells are just like babies in some ways. Indiscriminately, they wander about taking in random things they encounter. Like small children, they take a taste of this and that. And, relying on their innate instinct, they ingest the things that they like, and spit out the things that they don't. When they spit these things out, they are actually signalling that they have come upon some foreign substance. Other immune cells come along and go medieval on the alien invader. Nobody puts baby in a corner, after all.

Dendritic cells do not know to head in the direction of something good or bad for them. They are going along on their merry way, sampling their external environment without pause to determine whether their path is safe or not. In so many ways, I do not follow such principles. I plot a course, plan the steps, have a final destination. But I recognize the element of the unknown. If you put on blinders and remain steadfast and focused on a course, you might miss so many signs along the way. You see, I believe in signs.

This is one of the many millions of reasons I could never really be brilliant. To really be brilliant, you need to be single-minded, whereas I more closely resemble Sybil on most days. I want to get where I am headed, but I want to absorb what is around me at the same time. I want to inhale this San Francisco air and separate the fragrance from the urine. I want to be here, because here is pretty lovely most days.

In other news, I talked someone into quitting on Friday, and I talked someone out of taking a job in my group last week. I am really on a roll.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

what was that, my sweet sweet nothing

In all my wallowing about whatever, I forgot to list the two songs no one guessed last week. As I did mention, one of the songs is so obscure, including it was a bit ridiculous. The other song should have been guessed by anyone who caught the song on my sidebar this week, but, here they both are:
    all I can see is black and white and white and pink and blades of blue that lay between the words I think and the picture I was meaning to send to you. Yep, it was the truly swoonworthy I'm the Man That Loves You by Wilco. Boys talking about the inarticulate nature of the heart? I am that easy.

    it was a cold time he put the clock in the refrigerator where he could not hear it tick and tock. Pull down the covers, he went over the moon. I don't know why I am not in love you. These bizarre lyrics begin NY 10/11/91 by Vicki Pratt-Keating. If you are so inclined, you can listen to it. I am not going to lie to you, people- it is a little music of the ovaries (TM TWOP). Many a year ago, I was listening to a compilation CD of women folksingers in some megastore, and that's how I came upon this. I cannot even pretend to dislike it. Maybe it is extremely girly, but I like nearly every line in this song.

It has been fantastic to take a stab at guessing songs on other people's lists, although it is really killing me that I am coming up so dry on Mimosa's list. It makes me feel spectacularly uncool, which, I suppose, is appropriate.

How is this for a completely ridiculous tangent? My parents emailed me pictures from their recent visit to India. All of my grandfather's brothers and sisters pooled some savings and equipped a ward of a hospital in the town where they were born. The first picture sent was this:

The middle part of this sign reads Neonatal and Pediatric in phonetic Gujarati. Sadly, I cannot figure out what the phrases above and below mean. Sadder still, it took me about fifteen minutes to read Neonatal and Pediatric. I think I need to go to Zoolander's School for Kids That Can't Read Good.

It astounded me a little that my family could donate enough money to outfit an entire pediatric and neonatal ward. I have never thought of anyone in my mother's family as being exorbitantly affluent. Maybe I am just slow, and it only just occurred to me how far a dollar can spread in India. With their lower middle class earnings, my grandfather and his brothers and sisters could make it possible to save lives. When I was looking through the rest of the pictures my parents sent me, I felt a wave of blue.

I find it strange. I was not born in India, so I neither miss India nor begrudge my parents their decision to move here. Yet, I know I am missing something. When I see my parents' interactions with their extended family, when I see my grandparents, granduncles and grandaunts beaming with the satisfaction of having done something for their hometown, I am aware that all of this is one step removed. I can yearn for it. I could try to emulate it, pretend to be the good Indian daughter, but eventually I would not call such-and-such masi on Diwali, and I will fall from grace again.

But that is just it. I would be trying too hard. It does not come naturally to me, that familiarity, this sense of belonging to something immense. In the pictures my parents sent me, so many of the faces were old and worn. My grandfather is starting to look like a truly old man, and he is one of the youngest of his several siblings. All of those old faces looked so serene, so filled with joy. None of them seemed to be confused as to whether they had lived their lives correctly, whether they had done everything they had set out to do. I have been in their company before, and it is not an illusion. When you sit amongst them, you can actually feel the corners of your mouth involuntarily turning upwards. These folks are too old to care if you are married or not, if you have a good job or not, if you like India or not. They are unimpressed. They just want you to sit beside them and hear a good story. It is as if, so close to the end of their lives, they know it is not as important for them to get to know you as it is for you to get to know them. When I saw those pictures, a part of me really ached to be there.

And then I realized that would have been an illusion, me in those pictures. They were real. I would have been a visitor, a tourist posing for the camera.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

one of these days I'm going to leave you in your sleep

In a spectacular example of creating drama for myself, I keep turning over in my head the question of whether I want to tell one of my oldest friends about this space. Am I the only idiot who keeps getting a pit in my stomach about the possibility of revealing these foolish ramblings to people? I told my friend B, and she has been nothing short of awesome about:
  • not being completely horrified (although I divulged my secret to her over email, so I didn't get to see the look of wtf?!? that may have been spreading across her face at that moment)
  • not telling anyone else
  • not being judgmental, and-
  • not staging an intervention.

This should have been an overflowing champagne glass of courage. It should have strengthened my resolve to tell others. What's more- I have met many really great people through this odd little dark blue corner of small fonts, and even smaller ideas. That should have further convinced me that sharing this rather silly secret is fairly innocuous. But, because I am highly illogical, it did not.

If I am being uncharacteristically honest, I can admit that I have always been really sensitive about writing. I have never thought of myself as a particularly decent writer, but it's always been important to write something, anything to maintain my sense of existing. And that proof of existence was for me, not for anyone else.

When I am really low, when I have become inconsolable, I become so silent that there are no words in my head. I will speak, because I have been socialized to speak. I will speak, because if you don't speak, the alarm bells go off, people worry, and frantic attempts to cheer you up ensue. The silence only resides in a place that is always thought of as quiet anyway. It's the written word that gets lost. I feel like a mute, though outwardly I am smiling and making small talk.

Given that, maybe, just maybe, these meaningless words mean something to me. Perhaps, quite possibly, I am overprotective of these words.

The strangest aspect of the swirling in my head at the moment is this: at least half of the time I am writing here, I am writing with W in mind. The tone and the topics are similar to what my emails to W contain so much of the time, it was startling to come to that realization yesterday and not sooner. This creates an odd conundrum- to not tell W feels like a betrayal, and yet to come clean seems daunting on several different levels. We have been drifting apart a bit over the last few years because of geographical distances, but I cannot decide if exposing this little pasttime would turn the rift into a chasm or mend it some.

Wow, or maybe I just need to get a life.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

like the moon needs poetry

A brilliant piece by David Orr on Elizabeth Bishop was recently published in the NYT, and caught my eye on this rainy day. Bishop is one of my favorite poets. One of her poems, One Art, gets to me with such piercing precision that I have to be careful not to read it unless I am up for a good, long wave of melancholy afterwards. Orr has perfectly captured so many of the reasons I find her work so moving. But he also touched on something which got to me separately (emphases mine):
    Difficulty is a beloved concept in the poetry world, because it's the crux of an old but cherished argument: Are poems too obscure? Or not obscure enough? The debate is a canned one, of course, but it lets all parties make their favorite points, and everyone is therefore happy to argue over "difficulty" at the drop of a hat. The reality, though, is that most readers and writers aren't actually made nervous by "difficulty," at least as the term is usually meant. For one thing, difficulty is straightforward — you either figure out what's difficult, or you don't. You might fail, but you aren't going to be misled. (In this sense, and in its implicit endorsement of hard work, difficulty is a concept that has long been central to our shared identity as Americans). Subtlety is different, though. Subtlety wants to be missed by all but the chosen few; it is aloof, withholding and aristocratic — sometimes manipulative and always disguised. It has less to do with theory and technique, which can be learned mechanically, than with style and sensibility, which require intuition. It wants to be looked at but not seen. It's unnerving.

That is some kind of poetry in and of itself. Granted, it was meant to be a tribute to Bishop's subtlety. But, count on me, self-absorbed as I am, to misappropriate it, and apply it to something else entirely.

I think I have a thing for subtlety. Anyone I have ever truly swooned over has not had much of a fan club. But they have not been difficult either, have not had obvious, glaring faults in their character. There is something about a subtle person, and that feeling that comes with being shown something not everyone else gets to see. It's not just being shown that glimpse; it's actually recognizing what you're seeing as well. Where others might hear white noise, you hear hints of a symphony. Just thinking about it makes me wistful about certain exchanges that will never leave me, little glimpses into people I will forever hold dear. And similarly, when I really feel that people get me, which are moments few and far between indeed, my heart squeezes into the tightest ball of excitement.

But then again, subtlety can be a dangerous thing as well. You can trick yourself quite easily. You can believe you know someone with great depth because you've caught a glimpse of their underbelly. But the truth is that you never really know anyone completely. There are the dull facts that make up a person, and you have to know those too. Moreover, that glimpse at what lurks underneath the surface might just be one layer that hides three more underneath. One train may hide another.

Well, look at that- the @*%#@! poetry gets to me one way or another. April really is the cruellest month.

Monday, April 03, 2006

hanging out, down the street

One of my favorite cafes was just featured on SFist, which makes this rainy day suddenly not so bad. Is it okay for me to have a favorite coffee shop when I do not drink coffee? Guess what- I don't care. It's great, even if I drink tea with roses there. Yes, b*tches, I drink some girly sh*t with roses in it at times. I have written about the place before, but now I think it might be a Mission measuring stick of sorts. Do you like it? Do you enjoy the music? Can you sit quietly reading beside me? Can you have a Mission-esque conversation there with me? Can you hang out there without people watching, and without feeling watched?

If your answer is no to all the above, that is certainly no knock against you. It simply means the Mission might not be for you. There are probably lovely cafes in the Marina where other people can hang out for hours, but I would not know, because I break out in hives and have to leave immediately.

J & I went to my most favorite cafe both yesterday and the day before. Since I am incredibly lazy, I love Cafe Que Tal because it is a quick walk from my crack shack. But it is also warm and inviting, has excellent iced tea, sandwiches, breakfast foods, and my friend A swears that they make a mean cappucino as well. When J and I were waiting in line to order, she turned to me and pointed out that the guy in the corner looked like he wanted to murder someone. His beady, darting eyes and moody, black turtleneck definitely supported her conclusion (and made me severely regret making eye contact with him). A few moments later, J caught another dude walking in, and commented that he looked like that guy who feeds Buscemi to the wood chipper. After getting a stitch in my side from laughing, I had to agree- the guy had walked in with a hood over his head, an 11 o'clock shadow, and... well, basically, he looked like an ashtray.

When I surveyed the room, I suddenly realized that the place was filled with Mission Hipsters. As I remarked to J, now I understand why the 826Valencia Comedy Night a bunch of us attended on Saturday did not irk me in the least. Actually, I was slightly annoyed, but that was because my future husband, Zach Galifianakis, found out I had violated my restraining order and therefore pulled a no-show. I know that not everyone enjoyed the night. I know some of this had to do with the amount of beards, converse sneakers, and hipper than thou attitudes prevalent in the auditorium.

Somehow none of it troubled me. I pondered later whether it was because I have lived amongst these folks for some time now. Is it simply a matter of adaptation? Had I moved to the Marina some years back, would I now be comfortable amongst people in Juicy Couture and Kate Spade purses? Is it because I prefer to look more dressed up compared to the general crowd rather than less? Or is there something I secretly like about these hipsters?

I think it might be that we are all snobby about something. That is a simple fact that is unavoidable. Whether it is IQs, manner of dress, political leanings, musical tastes, we all have a certain amount of snobbery. And somehow, I suppose my snobbery tends to match up more with the Mission Hipsters than any other group. I am not sure what this says about me, because I am definitely not a member of the Mission Hipsters, evidence by the fact that:
  • I am a corporate slave, with a nine to five grind.
  • I have shopped at The Gap.
  • I do not drink coffee.
  • I have never tried ecstasy.
  • I have never been to Zeitgeist.
  • I still listen to Death Cab for Cutie, and get excited when I see a sign that seems to indicate that they are playing in my neighborhood.

Perhaps this just makes me someone who wants to be someone I am not. Or maybe it makes me a generally oblivious person. Last year, I went to the same event with my friend MM, who was visiting from Santa Barbara. She could never be classified as Mission Hipster either, but we did not even notice that distinction when we were there. Granted, last year's acts were actually a bit funnier in my opinion. This year's only real noteworthy performance was John Hoogasian, who took that delicate, tiny leap from Mission Hipster to Mission Crack-ho and ran with it. I cannot divulge his best line, because I want J to bust it out- it belongs on her blog.

Which brings me to the best part. And that is typical for my blog, improperly structuring a post so that the most important thing is overshadowed by all my b*tching and meaningless musings. The best part was, of course, J. She made me want to get a roommate, because having her around this weekend rocked. This is one of the best things about San Francisco. It is so simple to feel like you are on vacation here, even if you live here year-round. Even though I did not show J a particularly wild and raucous time, I got a lot of joy out of just walking around and chatting with her. Oh, and she did not complain once about my crack shack, which also makes her something of a saint.