Tuesday, May 30, 2006

hiding out in the big city blinking

Things that rather rocked about the wedding I attended this past weekend:
  • Do not underestimate how nice it is to see a woman you have always genuinely liked find happiness. B had the typical serenely happy glow of a bride. I do not mean that in a bad way.

  • An old acquaintance, D, was in attendance at both the rehearsal dinner and the wedding. Do not ask me how I finagled an invite to the rehearsal dinner; I think B gave me a sympathy invite because I had traveled from SF, and I, of course, took advantage of it. D is the kind of guy who is my kind of conversationalist. He can follow the frenetic, disorganized path of my logic, and even light it up by burning a path of brilliance on his own. And if that is too cerebral for you, he rolled up his suit pants to his knees at the wedding the next day while dancing to You Shook Me All Night Long.

  • B reads this blog perhaps a little too steadfastly. Based on all my whining and proclamations about being a liquor snob, B reserved a bottle of Grey Goose especially for me at the reception. Dudes!?! At first, I did not know whether to be touched or concerned that she thinks I am an alcoholic. Then, I decided to be touched. And to drink as many vodka tonics as possible.

  • Another old acquaintance Y was in attendance with his partner, M. I had never met M before, and he was my new favorite person within five minutes of meeting him. He also sensed my intoxication and thus coaxed me into requesting the DJ to play Christina Aguilera's Dirty. I am still convinced he did not want to hear the song as much as he wanted to watch the DJ's reaction to me requesting it.

As much as I enjoyed B's wedding, going back to that part of the country comes with an inevitable heaviness. It may have had as much to do with taking a red-eye flight and the characteristic humidity this time of year, but something inside of me felt like it was sinking immediately.

It is strange to feel such an acute familiarity to a place you never felt you belonged. The same feeling comes over me whenever I visit my parents. The roads, the smells, the trees, all of it overflows with something that is not nostalgia. There are not memories or ghosts whispering to me on these highways, shopping centers, quaint main streets. But it's more a state of being that comes back to me. I revert to old habits. I drive in the wrong direction for five miles just because, just in the hopes that something interesting might be around the corner. The trees feel shorter, everything is on a less grand scale there. And yet, that smallness makes everything feel more real.

I have been wondering whether I sleepwalked through my life until I moved to San Francisco, or if it is the other way around. Maybe San Francisco has sprinkled magic dust on me, and I have fallen under its spell. I go back to those familiar roads, and everything feels hopeless again in some ways. But it's an odd hopelessness. It's a hopelessness that is not necessarily sad. It is a gritty hopelessness that says: What makes you think you're so special? Look around you- this is living. I can hear it in the tone of my old friends there, when I unwisely reveal my aspirations.

When I am defeated, when everything falls apart, I feel this certainty that I will return there and live out the rest of my years. On a tree-lined road, in a small house of my own. I will tend to gardens, and bake pies. And on certain days, I will drive for miles out of my way without knowing why.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

lately it seems like everybody's joined at the hip

The Good
  • Seeing B take a stroll down the aisle this weekend.
  • Seeing old friends in NJ.
  • Watching the Alias season finale with oodles- who tolerated me yelling "He got shot in the a$$ 47 times and survived, but Spydaddy takes two bullets, and he's dead?!?" I think oodles thinks I have an unnatural attachment to television. I'll let you in on a poorly kept secret- she's right.
  • Finding an Alejandro Escovedo tribute CD on my office desk this morning. This is the pleasant surprise that comes with keeping an office in a hovel state.

The Bad
  • All activity towards The Goal keeps stalling out due to my neuroses, a lack of focus, and the realization that I seriously cannot write to save my life. More angst-ridden thoughts on this later.
  • News of me visiting NJ for B's wedding leaked, leading to a weekend filled with suburban madness.
  • Red-eye flights.
  • Rental car prices.

The Ugly
  • As predicted, I never got around to buying a dress for B's wedding. So, I am wearing an old one that has major frump factor. B, if there are any cute, single men at your wedding, I am going to be hitting the Grey Goose harder than usual.

In other news, I think I'm coming down with the black lung (TM Zoolander). Looks like I'll have to miss work tomorrow, but I wouldn't say I'll be missing it (TM Office Space). And yes, I do live my life by movie quotes.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

broken chords and rusty strings

Every time I make a pronouncement of any kind, it takes me all of twenty-five seconds to reverse it. I have not been writing because I have no time. I have not been writing because I have nothing to write about right now. I have not been writing because I have had to write something for The Goal, and I am trying to channel everything into that.

All of these are true, and yet, in twenty-five seconds, I find another realization that trumps the other reasons. Words are clunky and clanging right now. Words are not flowing out like endless rain into a paper cup. Sometimes you write a sentence and you just feel satisfied with having constructed it, with having it say exactly what you meant it to say.

Every word that has been put down for the last month refuses to assemble into a satisfying sentence. I am making my own skin crawl, reviewing what I have put down. Reading my writing lately has made me cringe, almost as much as I cringe when I watch Jodie Foster rapping.

In this space, I can forgive myself that though. Here, I can keep putting down unruly words until they finally manage to find the right thread to string them into a necklace. Here, I can play all the dissonant notes until the guitar is eventually tuned for a simple ditty. But I have fallen victim to a classic blunder. I have allowed the result to distract me from the process.

I think I may be placing such weight on what I need to do that I have distracted myself from actually doing it. Last weekend, when I was cramming, I could feel my mind drifting to forward-looking thoughts- will I do well in this class, is this going to be enough to achieve The Goal, is this all for nothing, do I know what I'm getting into. The questions drifted my head away from my books. The drill sergeant in my head had to step in and bark: concentrate, Daniel-San!

It is the same problem now, but now it is with words. I have to let go of how momentous those words are, how much they control my fate, and just focus on making the words work. Mr. Miyagi would come in handy right about now.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

may you build a ladder to the stars

So, right after waxing idiotic about blog malaise, I spent this unmotivated afternoon wasting time by trying to rope my cousin into the blogworld. He used to be one of the many teeniacs in my life, but the kid turned 20 recently, and it seemed apropos to shove him into the limelight as a result.

Actually, that is not really my rationale. I have always been tight with my cousin A. A few weeks ago, on the verge of breaking into tears from overwhelming panic about how much I have to do to keep The Goal alive, I called A one afternoon. Five minutes into the conversation, I felt 500% better. Yes, folks, I have to lean on my 20-year old cousin to calm me down.

Then again, this is the beauty of youth, after all. Plenty of my cousins annoy me. Teeniacs can, by design, be immensely annoying. They are frustratingly obsessed with stupid things. They are stubbornly sure of themselves, forcing you to watch as they walk straight into a pothole that could have been avoided if they listened to anyone with any experience. Some of my cousins have not had much of a struggle in life to boot, and as a result, also have an oh-so-infuriating sense of entitlement.

But not A. This kid is a lover, not a fighter, from the very first day of his existence. He seemed to be destined for goofball status, to be a follower that affably shrugged with his not-wanting-to-upset-anyone demeanor. And then something strange happened. His family moved away from our cocoon, to the state you don't mess with, just as he was about to start high school.

Somehow, A, who had lazily made honor roll with little effort in EBF, was thrust into a competitive magnate school. The first semester, he was eaten alive, and had the added bonus of knowing hardly anyone. But this kid is unsinkable. So, the second semester, he made a comeback. By the time he graduated, he had an endless supply of friends, and was making fine marks. It was not just about the grades for A. His parents are something of an Indian parent anomaly. They never expected much of A, were just as pleased if he made a C or an A. All of his motivation had to come from within him. It wasn't until he moved to Texas that he really found that motivation.

And he didn't just find the motivation to study. He found the motivation to learn, to ask probing questions. He became really taken with debate team, and as many people can attest to, debate is quite a formative experience. So, when he visited me two years ago, I was shocked to find that the little twerp, who used to find a way to actually lodge himself above his refrigerator at home (seriously), had grown into such a sentient dude. At 17, he was reading the Economist regularly. When my friend MG, double his digits at the time, mentioned something about a pathologist, A cited an Economist article he'd just read about how pathology could soon be outsourced.

All of this is impressive on its own. This kid, who was kind of directionless, had the rug pulled out from underneath him when he moved, and it altered his whole path in fantastic ways. But that's not really why the kid is so precious to me.

A is 20 now, and he's still the only person I know who can hug me more than twice in one day. When he visits, or I visit, I find, inevitably, that he's sitting on a couch next to me, and has his head leaned against my shoulder, or just hugs me for no reason whatsoever. When, during Thanksgiving, I've been recruited for the annual bake-off, A shows up in the kitchen to be my sous chef. No one asks him to do these things. He just bursts with this affection that normally would make me roll my eyes or vomit, but somehow, coming from him, does nothing but give me the warm fuzzies. Some years back, my whole family was together, all of us sitting around chatting about some, stupid story, and A, a.k.a Non-Sequitur Central, dreamily sighed, "Oh, the memories.". We're never letting him live that one down.

The broseph hypothesizes that A is either going to be bossed around by a girlfriend, or have his heart smashed to pieces by one. But I beseech you, young teeniacs, go easy on the kid. He's the real deal. Unfortunately, I don't think college students are in my readership demographic.

Anyway, A is living my dream, as he is taking the summer to travel a good portion of the world. I'm alternately excited for him, and envious of him, but mostly just happy for him. That is why he cheered me up that afternoon when I was so low- he is so positive and has so many possibilities ahead of him that it becomes infectious. You can't help believing that there are some possibilities left out there for you, too.

Of all of my cousins, he is the person I'm most likely to reveal this blog to, and also the only other person I can imagine keeping a blog of his own. The broseph, for example, started one, and after one post, found it too taxing to think of anything to write. One of my other cousins is a 22-year old who never got past her teeniac stage, and thus keeps an online journal that would make you cringe to read it. A has exciting adventures to share, but moreover, he's the only one that would be able to share it in a way that would actually be engaging. So, amazingly enough, I am crossing my fingers for one more voice to enter this already crowded space.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

tucked in the woods and out of sight

I continue to exhibit jerk behavior. In addition to having less than no time of late, I figured talking about how much of a jerk I am is probably not the most scintillating topic, thus the lack of posting.

But I am wondering lately, what is up with all the blog malaise? This may just be my perception, but it seems like a lot of people have gone blog-silent of late. I mean, certainly, I am sick of my blog, but then, when have I not been sick of my blog? I have not been babbling over here for all that long, though. So, I have started to wonder if this blog business is cyclical. Do jerks like me, at some point in their life, spontaneously decide they want to start a blog? And then, like a commitment-phobe, do they just one day decide it is no longer worth the hassle? Or do people start blogging when they have some discretionary time on their hands? Then, perhaps, they reach a different phase of their life, and they simply lose the capability to write regularly? And is that cyclical too? Can people only be free for so long?

Or do we just get sick of ourselves?

I think I am just cranky right now, because I would really like to write about the cool mummy discovered in Peru, or my own brush with a mummy in Peru, for that matter. I would really like to write about what great strides Brazil has made in addressing the HIV pandemic, or what mayhem currently exists in Brazil thanks to a surreal crime wave. All of those things seem really interesting.

Unfortunately, I cannot write about anything interesting right now. The only thing that ends up moving my fingers is the music I am listening to right now. I am always late to the party. I find out about good music early enough to seem in the know, but I am always a step behind. For some reason, I had listened to Feist about ten times, but was never that enthralled by them. I felt like I should like them, but somehow could not bring myself to.

Yesterday, I had an exam. I had been cramming for it for three days with varying success (big ups to oodles for keeping my a$$ in gear!). An hour before the exam, I was trying to calm myself down. If I do not feel centered before an exam, it can truly be the difference between an A and an F-. I stopped in a convenience store to get a bottle of water. A song was playing on the stereo. A gentle wave of warm air swept in and out of the store. And for just that moment, I felt completely still.

The song was naggingly familiar, though. I knew then that I was not going to be satisfied for the next hour unless I heard that song again. See, this is another really uncool aspect of my musical inclinations- sometimes, I just need to hear a song. A hundred times. Really. It caused big problems when the broseph and I lived under the same roof. I am that uncool jerk that will go out and buy a CD just because I cannot get a song out of my head, and need to hear it again.

Fortunately for me, I scrolled through my iPod and found the song. It's been a little over 24 hours now, and I think I have listened to Mushaboom approximately 7,984 times. Okay, according to iTunes, it's only been 26 times, but that's still a little sick.

Am I the only one with this affliction? If not, tell me which song has had such an effect on you recently. I am always looking for a new obsession.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

my empire of dirt

I am catching my breath for a moment. My stomach has been tied in knots this week. I thought it might be due to the possible death of this television character:

However, when it turned out that he was out of peril (yay! me likey the Eko), I had to form a more realistic hypothesis. Now, my possible theories are:
  • My eating habits have deteriorated beyond the normal human range.
  • I haven't been drinking enough water because everything I drink has been caffeinated lately.
  • I am developing an ulcer from the juggling act.

Sadly, it is more likely the first two reasons than the third, even though it feels more like stress is to blame. I used to have serious issues with debilitating stomach aches when I first started elementary school in whitebread central. But that's a story for another day. And besides which, I really doubt my esophageal discomforts make for interesting reading.

This afternoon, I realized that I was supposed to go out on a blind date with a friend of MM's. She had contacted me about it a while back, and I had foolishly taken the path of least resistance, allowing her to pass on my email. I figured that I would probably never hear from the dude, or it would at least be a little while. Just to give a sense of how so not on top of it I am, it was not until this afternoon that I realized that the dude had emailed me about three weeks ago. And I had never emailed him back. For those of you keeping track at home, this puts the count at:
    brimful is an a$$hole: 68,947
    brimful has the occasional decent bone in her body: 0.0008

And let's face it- that is pretty generous. The hardest part about everything I am doing right now, really, is the part where I am letting everyone down. all. the. time. The reason I find it hard is that I have such an ugly reaction to it. The fault is all, undeniably mine. And do I simply appreciate that people are still nice enough to even still inquire after me at all? No- I find myself actually begrudging those I let down. You can add ten points to the a$$hole meter for that.

Since I am in the mood to just lay it all out there, let me say this too- I am woefully inconsistent as well. For example, I am taking time to blog right now, but not to email that blind date dude. I am able to manage seeing some friends, but have been a total disappearing act with others. I call the broseph almost every day, but still have not gotten around to calling my GBF to explain missing his birthday party last week. In my head right now, the a$$hole meter just broke in its mad ascent.

In the end, I am complaining about something that I have no intention of changing, which is probably the thing that really puts the a$$hole meter to infinity. What I am doing right now is everything to me. I have accepted that I am going to lose people, lose objects, possibly lose my mind. But I do not want to leave anything on the table. SP called me ruthless a few weeks ago, and it stung, but I had to bear the slap. I deserved it. I am and I will take the consequences of that singlemindedness.

But for all you amazing, foolish folks who have managed to tolerate me through this, allow me to repay you with something that always makes me feel better:

Thanks for not making him an idiot, JJ.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

If you go a million miles away

Recently, oodles described one devil's spawn, a co-worker who seemed to have Debbie Downer syndrome, or some kind of V for Vendetta action going on, a woman bent on bringing oodles down. When she first told me about it, I was indignant. How dare devil's spawn? Who did this bitch think she was? oodles has currently taken out a restraining order to prevent me from entering her office and kicking this woman's ass. Okay, I might be exaggerating on that last part, but only slightly.

Ummm, yeah... except that I got an email from W today about The Goal, that included this gem:
Overall, he says that the pay is good and the amount of stressful work is low, but the interest level is rock bottom. He described it as a cookie cutter process with no real ingenuity or creativity...is this really what you're looking for, dude?

Okay, let's put aside my obvious lurve for him, especially in that he ended the question with dude. Technically, this is devil's spawn behavior, from a friend, no less. And I cannot claim that he is a first-time offender in this regard either.

But here is where it gets interesting, for me, at least. I so value what certain friends think. I so value it that it can be the difference between me waking up in the morning or burying my head in a pillow. But his email did not have even the slightest impact on me.

As you get to know yourself better, you learn that everyone else only knows some piece of you. As you realize that two people ever getting each other completely is an impossibility, you actually find yourself comforted by reality. It gets complicated. There are still things about me that other people know better than I do. Even now, I know there will be a day when W will write with some observation about me that is spot-on and forces me to face something I never saw about myself. But it gets easier, as time passes, to know what is certain and what is shaky about you.

I feel rather invincible writing all of this. Which usually means I am about to get sucker punched. No matter. I dare not even outline what lies ahead of me, lest these unexpected powers should wilt faced with the enormity of the coming months. All I can do is do what I must. I don't mean to go all San Francisco, new-age-y on you all, but it really is worthwhile to stay in the present.

And all I really ask for is this: give me a little Vaughn, JJ, for the love of all that is good and decent in this world!

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

spring blooms and you find the love that's true

It's Go-time over here. Instead of writing poorly constructed sentences that will convince you that perhaps I ought never to return, allow me to close out the end of poetry month with a little something that sums up my current state of being:
by A. R. Ammons

I've pressed so
far away from
my desire that

if you asked
me what I
want I would,

accepting the harmonious
completion of the
drift, say annihilation,


There's a lot I could say about why that is so fitting right now. But that's the beauty of poetry. No long-winded explanations, talking in circles around the heart of the feeling.

See you on the other side.