Thursday, August 31, 2006

I don't feel like dancing

I have come far to have found nothing
or to have found that what was found
was only to be lost, lost finally
in that absence whose trace is silence.

--Cid Corman

I have been getting some good news of late, but it has somehow seemed not good enough. This certainly, undoubtedly makes me a malcontent in need of an attitude adjustment. And I really do try to slap myself back into shape when I skew off into the blue like this. But here in this little place of low readership, just let me wallow for a moment. Maybe it is a point that any traveler encounters. The point in the journey at which everything comes into question, asking: is this all for nothing? Later, come the rationalizations, that even if things do not go as planned, all of this can never be nothing- it has to be something, even if it was not the something that was hoped for. Conservation of matters asserts its demands.

But right now, let me just have a little black hole, a little vortex of despair for no good reason. Maybe it is just allergies messing with my brain, fogging my senses up so that I do not see a good thing when it is staring me in the face. Maybe it is drama that keeps getting thrown in my direction when all I ever want to do is live without such disturbances of the peace. Maybe it is self-loathing, because I can be almost good, but never quite good enough, always, always imperfectly flawed.

Solution: stop obsessively checking email, and go have a glass of wine with A N N A.

Silver lining: the contestant I most loathe on Project Runway got the boot last night. Oh, and she did not just get the boot. She was flown all the way to Paris so that she could have a tres French fashion designer with deliciously wicked 'tude kick her to the curb. And Michael Kors told her the outfit she designed made her look homeless. Ah, the b*tchiness, it is much needed right now.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

burning just like moonbeams in our eyes

You take the good, you take the bad, you take it all and there you have... oops, sorry. I don't know what came over me just then.

I am a creature of place, to some extent. Like Maitri feels about New Orleans, I may not be a native but I am no less attached to this city. And yet. And yet. And yet, I can see why some people do not adore San Francisco.

So maybe that is why I am not despondent at the thought of traveling cross-country no less than three times in the next two months. One side effect of this travel is that it mucks up my plans to leave the country to visit W and go on my Gaudi vision quest in October. However, I have to make these trips, and they are acually representative of good news, and truth be told, I hope that I will have to travel even more. Speaking of travel, if the new job comes through the way I am hoping it will, there is a chance that I will have to make a business trip to Prague in November. This would be fantastic. Usually, my work-related travels involves such exotic destinations as...Southern California.

The last of the trips cross-country is what has my mind going a little loopy right now. I spent most of my adolescence dreaming of escaping EBF. When I graduated from college, my parents tried to talk me into working somewhere close to home, but I fled. It was an orbit that got further and further away from its center. Yet here I am, strangely excited about going home.

Now, I went home last June, but it was a very quick jaunt, and for a specific reason. My grandfather was recovering from a heart attack, and I wanted to spend whatever time I could with him. He is fine now and spry enough to be remarking on my need to get back into shape (thanks, Gramps, I'm on it). And he's no longer at my parent's house. All the teeniacs have grown and gone off to school. It's just my parents and some high-strung masis left in my hometown.

But, and I know this makes me a heartless b*tch, it's not really the prospect of visiting my family that has me so gleeful about going home. Before I take home this year's award for Bad Indian Daughter, let me point out that I was subjected to my entire family and then some on a cruise this past summer. What really has me elated is so simple, and yet etched into my memory. It is one of a handful of things that San Francisco can never replace.

In my mind's eye, I see it in sharp focus, absolutely clearly. A pristine, white wooden church with a punctuating steeple against a backdrop of all the colors of fire. The vibrant reds, the burnt orange, the deep purples.

When we were little, my brother and I would play outside towards the end of autumn, when all the leaves had freshly fallen. My father would rake the leaves into large heaps, clearing them from the lawn. It was a futile task; the first breeze would scatter them across the lawn again before he had packed them away into trash bags. We were no help. The mounds of leaves were so inviting that my brother and I would leap into them. I know now that autumn leaves are not soft, are in some ways brittle, and certainly do not break your fall. But I can't remember that. I remember being enveloped by a blur of colors, falling into them, yearning to sleep in that blanket of leaves.

My parents' house now is in one of those neighborhoods where a few trees speckle the streets to give a suggestion of New England. But they do not burst, they do not brim. Not like those trees with leaves so alive (which is ironic since they're actually preparing to die) that they appear to be ripe fruit heavy with the anticipation of falling. However, due to the circumstances of my trip, I will be visiting my family, and then driving to Vermont. To get there, I get to take one of the most breathtaking roads in these United States during the month of October.

Maybe it's not just lip service. Maybe it is true that we return to the place where we started and know it for the first time. Color me surprised at my own satisfaction.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

won't weigh you down with good intention

This is going to sound ridiculously hypocritical coming from someone who keeps a blog, but I am really loathe to string together sentences that describe me. Describe myself. Seems a simple assignment, yet it made me arch. I do not mean to sound arrogant, but just exactly how am I supposed to do that? Maybe it betrays a real lack of self-awareness. And maybe it will be viewed as subterfuge that I chose to describe myself by writing about stem cells. As Stephen Colbert would say: deal with it!

Speaking of Colbert, what is it about men showing affection for each other that just warms the cockles of my cold, black heart? When The Daily Show beat The Colbert Report to win an Emmy, the camera panned to Jon Stewart. Colbert, sitting behind him, leaned forward and gave Stewart a hug/kiss on the cheek. And I melted into a puddle of goo. I know that is absurd, but really, you know you did too. Usually, you see those plastic reaction shots when the winner is announced: four other nominees clapping mechanically, wildly, while a smile is frozen into place across their lips. The Colbert-Stewart exchange, on the other hand, was so deeply sincere. And it was welcome, because I expected Colbert to stay in character and throw a hissy fit. Of course, he did that later, to hilarious effect.

I wish I was better at fixing problems. Seized by frustration at my own uselessness, I am moved to spend hours in my kitchen tonight. It's foolish, but I somehow equate baking with comfort, even if no one else does. As if somehow, I can bake someone a cake, and all their troubles would disappear. Some of my friends are in a bad way right now, and with good reason. They are in situations for which there are no consolations. I know that feeling well, having been on the other end. I have felt the mounting ire as a friend tried to rationalize that everything was going to work out, when I knew for a fact that it wasn't. And of course, the friend knew it wasn't going to be okay. But we find ourselves at a loss for words, and simply saying, "wow, that sucks, I am so sorry" just doesn't feel adequate to us, even if it is the only response that the person on the receiving end really wants to hear.

But it's funny how you can know some things rationally, yet your instincts just rail against you. Something in my head keeps screaming: be of use! It is incessant and it tells me that going home and making a cake is somehow going to solve something. I know in my head that this is rubbish, but I do not know if I can quell the urge with cold logic.

Oh I have another instinct: it involves not working tomorrow. I am going to have to buck that one.

My cousin S, former teeniac, called me last night to tell me about her first few days as a college student. It is that time of year again. Given that today is the anniversary of Katrina, and there are other gloomy dates approaching, there is something hopeful about the beginning of the school year. I saw the kids crossing the crosswalks this morning on my way to work, and within a week it will seem a commonplace, unremarkable sight. So, the forward movement of time is a great comfort.

Monday, August 28, 2006

a real flair with excuses

I could probably stand to be a little less judgmental. But let me just say this and we'll mention no more about it: SP remarked to me that she felt much more at ease once she realized that nothing she could say or do would make a difference to our drama-prone friend. Normally, I take great comfort from such acknowledgement, from the realization that on some level I am insignificant and powerless. But that is usually when I am thinking about the daunting problems in this world. On the other hand, the idea that I have no impact on a friend's life- this makes me question the point of friendship altogether.

Anyway, enough of that whole headache. My pseudo-bro PG took me out for dinner on Friday night at a super swank French establishment. This was hilarious on some level because my GBF came along. He and I had already been to El Rio that night. JP was working on beer #4 when I arrived at El Rio. After a Grey Goose & Tonic on an empty stomach, I was feeling pretty festive myself. It should be noted, though, that hanging out with JP is by definition festive. As soon as I found him out back at El Rio, it was nothing but kisses and laughter with the brasilenos. Truth be told, I would have preferred to hang out there for another hour or two. By the time we arrived at the restaurant, JP was in rare form, but that did not prevent him from ordering a Kir Royale before dinner.

PG, the broseph and I have this deal- when any of us get promoted, get an impressive bonus, or have something big to celebrate, we take the others to an over-the-top dinner. Our inaugural dinner was actually back over five years ago, when we all lived on the east coast, at Tabla. Back then, we were so young that we treated these dinners with much gravity. We dressed up, we behaved, we tried to use the right silverware. It felt decadent.

It still feels decadent, but in a different way. Now I think it has somehow become more about the excess aspect of the experience. Luckily, in San Francisco, you can go to pretty fancy restaurants without carrying on with a fancy demeanor. There have been a few restaurants we've dined at where even JP restrained himself, but La Folie was not one of those places. Perhaps the highlight of dinner was talking with the guy who serves bread and scrapes crumbs off the table (incidentally, what exactly is such a person's title- busboy seems wrong) in Spanish. Why was that such a highlight? He told JP he does not like the Mission. Why does he not like The Mission, you ask? His words, not mine: too many Latinos.

This next weekend will be the first weekend in quite some time that I am not obligated to work on drudgery. This might be the first weekend of its kind in over a year. Of course, this means that there is much to clean up in the crack shack. It also means that I will begin the task of making amends. Really, I would love to write about how everyone has been awful to me, how I'm so misunderstood, but never mind the bollocks. I have pulled a disappearing act, on more than one level. Even amongst the people I have seen recently, I haven't really been there, if that makes any sense. So, I will see how many cracks are irreparable, and how many distances can be bridged with a bit less testy a temperament. Let's see how long that lasts.

p.s. I could be wrong, but it's quite possible that A N N A will be west-side tomorrow. Which would be cause for much celebration.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

I've been uptight and made a mess

Two e-mails diverged in a yellow wood, and sorry I could not tolerate both.

Why, you ask? You be the judge.

How to get married-
I can't quite explain how this all happened so suddenly. Then again, nothing in my life has ever been planned, and it's only right that things occur without adequate warning.

How not to get married-
I have made a complex decision with a lot of factors coming into play, but I have made this decision. I really hope you will all support me and, importantly, I truly hope you will all be there at my wedding. I will be very sad if you can't be there. It is going to be soon because I am planning to try to start a family right away.

It is likely that these passages taken out of context will not deliver the full thrust of what I am trying to point out. But I will just say this: I am over the moon, thrilled for one, and worn weary considering whether it is intelligent to remain friends with the other.

Let me pose a question that relates to this frustration of mine. What do you do with a friend that is in an endless lather, rinse, repeat cycle of drama? What do you do when you have already pointed out the cycle and how it is not productive to keep riding the ferris wheel ad infinitum? And then you've already pointed out, your friend acknowledges it, but still chooses to make the same mistakes over and over again? Is it good form to stand by a friend who is stuck in this kind of Groundhog Day?

This is why I am a crap friend. I cannot do it. Maybe this is another example of what a tomboy I am. I can't sit by and watch a friend flailing endlessly. I want to fix the problem. I want my friend to get it together. And I think a part of me really believes that people that never have their sh*t together are not just victims of bad luck. Rather, they have made the decision that life is somehow more entertaining when you are inconsolable.

One friend took exception with this line of reasoning this week, suggesting that I am just as down in the dumps about life. This, I reject, however. Either she does not know me, or she chooses to see a flash of sorrow in otherwise content eyes. Her other argument is that I don't understand because I just bounce back faster from disappointment. Again, I call bullsh*t.

This sort of thing annoys me because people often assume I am made of stone simply because I do not allow myself to wallow in the self-pity pool interminably. But I have had heartbreak. Heartbreak, I've known on many different levels. I choose to deal with it a bit differently than some of my friends do, but it never fails to annoy me when they lord their sorrow over me. As if they somehow have more capacity for feeling. That sh*t drives me batcrazy.

This is neither here nor there, I suppose. Although, wow, I just realized how angry this tends to make me. Today, I gave my coworker KL an experimental mango cheesecake (it needs work) in a teeny pie tin, and T started accusing me of domestic tendencies. Heh- he wouldn't say that if he ever saw my crack shack. Anyway, KL said, "Sometimes people just buy little pie tins because they're cute." RR & T had some fun at my expense after this:
    T: Does she strike you as someone who would buy a pie tin because it looked "cute"?

    RR: No, she'd buy a pie tin because it looked angry.

Sometimes, it's good to have guys around to keep you from taking anything too seriously.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

the worst part is there's no one else to blame

don't call it a comeback

So, these are definitely not indicative of my best work. Because of my inability to follow recipes and my predilection for tinkering, I wanted to add sour cream into the mix. I also was rushing a bit, so when I removed the cakes from the pan, they lost a bit of their shape. However, they were completely consumed by my team yesterday, so all is well that ends well. And, as I mentioned yesterday, it helped me to clear the barrier to begin experimentation in the kitchen again.

Unfortunately, one of my experiments in the kitchen yesterday went tragically awry. It seemed to be simple enough, but this is a good example of how baking and cooking are two very different beasts. All I was planning to do was stir fry some vegetables, add some mung bean noodles, and throw in a little sauce for taste. The problem here is that I had never used the sauce before. It actually turned out to be this black bean and garlic paste. And it also turned out that I was a little too generous adding it into the mix.

Besides it tasting a bit on the salty side, I thought it was passable though. I was woefully wrong there. I woke up in the middle of the night with that awful salivating feeling that precedes vomit. Sorry, don't mean to get graphic on you here. I did not actually throw up, but that sort of made everything worse, as there was never any relief.

So, work has been nothing but big fun this morning after getting nearly zero R.E.M sleep last night.

Stuff to do with The Goal still continues. I am trying not to let the natural process of The Goal mess with my head, but it's not really working. This is reason #75824729083 that I could never be a successful writer: a writer has to be confident enough to handle a healthy amount of rejection.

Whenever I have spoken to people who get their work published, I am amazed that they manage to do it. You have to submit to so many different places, but you also have to let it go, since you have to keep on writing. The failures are not to be taken personally. You might not be a good match one place, you might have caught the publishers in a busy season, you might have just got lost in the pile. But you have to push all of that out of your head, because you have to keep producing more work.

How on earth do people do that for a living?!? Dudes, I will confess that sometimes, if I go 2-3 posts without any comments, I feel so forlorn that I wonder if I ought to continue blogging. So, the notion of letting the form letter f*** you's roll off the back does not even inhabit my imagination.

Don't worry, The Goal has nothing to do with getting published (and let's take a moment to be grateful for that, or the insanity would be through the roof around here). But I do have to deal with a natural flow of good news and bad news. I guess that is no different than anything in life, but it somehow feels more acute than the normal twists and turns. Maybe so much depends on this that the slightest turn feels like right full-rudder. Either way, much respect to freelancers, yo. I don't know how they do it.

In other news, I know Abhi's going to kill me for writing this, but I have to express my disgust. Last night, when I was driving home, a new John Mayer song was on the radio, and I found myself strangely drawn to it. When I started to listen to the lyrics, I found myself increasingly disgusted. It's one of those I want to buy the world a Coke-type of songs. Except that really, all it seems to demonstrate is how apathetic and passive jacka$$es can be. I can't tell if Mayer was trying to be tongue-in-cheek, and it seems like giving him far too much credit to believe he was commenting on apathy and inaction. Sorry, but a part of me just thinks he really is sitting around waitin' on the world to change. Yeah, that plan seems to have worked out really well for the past decade.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

and I've made up my mind

Dudes, I have problems again. I'm listening to Whitesnake, y'all. Okay, in my defense, I was stressing about shizz, and then I clicked up Here I Go Again, and immediately, nothing but laughter, b*tches. I was talking to AL about it and we sussed out yet another key difference between men and women. When I hear this song, I get a visual of Will Ferrell hazing frat boys. When guys hear this song, they get a visual of Tawny Kitaen demonstrating remarkable flexibility on the hoods of cars.

So, actually, I don't really have problems. Except a few mental problems that resulted in me forgetting to bring my camera adapter thingamajob to work today, meaning that I cannot show you the pictures I took yesterday. After a long, ridiculous hiatus, I returned home yesterday to my kitchen, my beloved, ancient kitchen. It looked sad and mopey, and that made no sense. AL changed the light bulb in the kitchen when he visited, so it is actually bright and cheerful in there now. But the oven and the baking rack still looked forlorn. Not anymore, though. I made a batch of cheesecakes for JI who works on my team.

I was a little concerned, because I was having a bit of a tiff with SP on the phone while I was preparing the cheesecakes. My concerns existed on two levels. First, multi-tasking can often end in disaster when baking. I don't know how many times I have thrown in eggs before they were called for because of a distraction of some kind. Secondly, I guess I believe, completely irrationally, that baking is a little like growing plants. Maybe it's just that I got a little carried away the first time I saw Como agua para chocolate, but I am of the conviction that your feelings can alter the flavor of your food. Add in a dash of rust because I haven't really done anything in the kitchen, and you have the makings for a world-class fiasco. I'm just glad that the conversation got really tense after the cheesecakes were already baking in the oven.

The one thing I had going for me is what I always seem to have going for me: I didn't really care. If it turned out okay, cool. If not, I would have still had time to buy cupcakes in the morning. As it turned out, they turned out just okay. Not phenomenal enough to proudly give JI for her birthday (though I did anyway, for I have no shame), not horribly enough to throw away altogether.

But that was a little besides the point. The real point was breaking the barrier. When you fall out of a habit, there reaches a point where it becomes much harder to return to it than to continue to avoid it. And oh, am I ever the avoid-er to end all avoid-ers (part of the reason for the cross exchange with SP). So, when I actually do get my act together and return to an old friend in this way, I am surprised to find so much pleasure in the reunion.

All of this to say, the baking, it is back. Expect boring pictures to follow, and secret packages to be sent. I only wish I had got it together in time for Chai's birthday- except that she has disclosed that she is not much for sweet baked goods. Man, I wish I could borrow some of her genes that produced that disinclination.

Monday, August 21, 2006

don't waste your time or time will waste you

Sweet sassafras. The craziness has reached a crescendo, and now it may be descending. Or perhaps I am descending- into madness. Really, this space is starting to reach Gogol-esque levels of illogical rambling. Thanks for sticking with me, for those of you who have. I would berate those of you who have abandoned me, except, well, you're gone (and maybe I don't really blame you either).

But anyway, there appears to be some cause for hope. I got some news on Friday that means I will be in NYC in a few weeks. NYC in September? Yes, please! Unfortunately, it will be a hop, skip, and a jump, because I have to get back in time to go to Seattle for work. This should be great fun, given all the current travel restrictions.

Friday, I am taking the day off to plan out a trip in October. AL popped up out of the blue and invaded my vacation plans, but I do not really mind- even though I am enthusiastic about traveling on my own, I like the idea of AL dropping in for a few days to turn everything up to eleven and remark on how everything is wicked awesome. I have to work out whether I will be able to go visit my friend W as part of this vacation.

It is admittedly ridiculous to take a day off of work just to plan a vacation, but really, that is necessary at the moment. This morning, there were at least three incidents in an hour when I was on the phone with one person while another one was calling on the other line. Sweet sassy molassy, b*tches, back off!?! Before you all give me a lecture about quitting my job, let me say that it's all good. I haven't acknowledged it a whole lot, but I can now that it's almost Wednesday. For the past 6 weeks, I have actually, literally had to do two jobs. This is all while trying to keep things going on The Goal. So, even though there were days when I wanted to tear my hair out, or inflict harm on others, I can now look back on it and actually be a bit impressed that I am still sentient (sort of).

Here's the thing- the other job I was covering is actually more demanding than mine. So, this morning, I had to give a presentation to a room filled with Sr. VPs and the CEO. Some people get a rise out of such things, but I am here to tell you that I am not one of them. Oh, and this morning, when the phone was ringing off the hook? That was right before the presentation, so you can guess how much time I had to prepare ahead of time. For the most part, it was not actually a big deal. It's amazing how much easier things are when you really just don't care. As I said to my work GBF, shrugging, "What are they going to do? Fire me? This is a win-win situation for me."

And then my work GBF responded, "Honey, you know what Janis Joplin said- 'Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose.'" And that made me laugh, which is always good before you present to a bunch of suits.

The only thing that required firm prevention of eye-rolling was this question from one of the Senior Veeps: "I know this is a difficult question to ask. But, what would you learn later that would make you regret what you are asking us to do today?" WTFFFFFF?!? First of all- that's actually a pretty easy question to ask, mofo. It's answering it that requires using the force and maybe a bottle of whiskey.

Lucky for me, I have learned some things from this corporate indentured servitude. You know the way Neo gets wired such that he says, "I know Kung Fu"? Well, after getting assimilated by the Borg, I can honestly say, "I know BS." Dudes, resistance is futile. And let me tell you, it came in handy, because I came up with some Grade A, choice BS for the occasion. And it worked. Which is good- because tomorrow I move forward with applying for the new job that was offered to me. And guess whose department I'll join if I get the job? Senior Future-Perfect Veep.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go buy tickets to get to NYC!

Friday, August 18, 2006

majestic imperial bridge of sighs

Dude, DeVotchKa, a thousand times, DeVotchKa. I am such a dweeb. But when I go to see a band play live, and when they play a beautiful song, and when the club is lit just so, when everything is just teetering on perfection, I stand with a dumb grin on my face. There, in that moment of listening, of being part of an audience, everything else melts away, like colored chalk markings washing away in the rain. Something, there is no articulating, no explaining it, but something stirs in me.

Music, at times, is so compelling that it makes me want my life to live up to such meaning. Does that make any sense? When the lyrics are heavy with their significance, but the music makes them appealing to bear, oh, at that moment, I feel very small, and very large at once. The song is so beautiful and moving, and that makes me both wilt in my own nothingness and swell with hope and promise. And I know. I know this makes no sense. Dancing about architecture, Snakes on a Plane. It's unintelligible, I know.

But lord help me should I ever meet a real musician, because I will fall madly. I will turn to my Jake Barnes, and remark, "I'm a goner".

This insanity may have been inherited from my father. Growing up, I was always half-amused, half-infuriated with my father's disconnection from the world. Don't get me wrong- he's no zen master. But his baseline was always that of the absent professor. Except that his head was not on numbers or scientific theories. He was always drunk on music. It was hard to get his attention at times, and during those times, you could see the distant gaze in his eyes. You could tell the music had absconded him to some place you could never invade. If he snapped out of it, if he got angry, if he smiled, it was because he chose to depart from the realm of those songs.

Even though I always, on some level, knew my father had a few screws loose because of this tendency of his, I also knew there was a certain power to it. That power was beyond the obvious ability to tune out the rest of the world, with all its nagging reality. I saw the real power of it later, when my friend Laura started slipping me mix tapes in junior high school, tapes with such contraband as Siouxsie & The Banshees, The Replacements, and The Sugarcubes. Half the songs have drifted away from my memory now, but I remember what it felt like then, to hear those songs, to feel that sense of listening to real music. Even if I didn't understand all of it, I felt a recognition- the music made sense, in a way that American Top 40 never could. And even though those mix tapes were always laden with music that made you want to dress in black and wear heavy eyeliner, they somehow seemed so hopeful to me.

Some people cling to family, some people cling to religion, some people cling to random acts of kindness, some people cling to political progress. But for me, it's standing at a concert, at that moment when a song transcends its composition. When a song becomes more than the lead singer, the lyrics, the instruments, the notes, the melody, the beat, I cling to that moment. It may sound trite, but that's where I get my faith in this world. That's how I know that life is worth living, that there is good out there. And if I got this from my father, I will gladly take all the other inherited flaws.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

you know what you've got to do

Since I have started to eat healthier lunches, I have noticed two things. By healthier lunches, I mean that I tend to eat healthier food, and even though I probably eat the same amount as always, I end up having a little something every few hours. The first thing that I have noticed is that I have more energy. The second thing I have noticed is that I am grumpier. So, basically, eating healthier has made me an energetic b*tch. Which is just what this world needed.

Tonight, if I can get out of this rat trap of a job in the next two hours, I will be rummaging through my apartment for a pair of tickets I purchased last month. If my scavenger hunt is successful, it will result in me dragging SP to go see DeVotchKa. DeVotchKa, DeVotchKa, DeVotchKa, I could say it a million times with too much flare. And if the show is half as good as their music, there will be no living with me. I'll be saying DeVotchKa until someone slaps some sense into me.

I received a really lovely email from Maitri today that completely brightened my day. After that, I got a phone call from W in Germany, announcing the birth of his daughter. Neither of them can really know how much I needed it today. Out here on the blogosphere, I always seem like I am teetering on the verge of insanity. But I have been really feeling a bit down in the dumps about all kinds of stuff. The kind of stuff that creeps up on you, and burrows itself into a nest of insecurities, weighing you down with, well, bullsh*t. I was thinking this week that I need to get it together. I say that a lot, to myself, in my head- get it together! Sometimes, half of what I write here is an attempt to snap myself out of such a slump.

But all the self-motivational speeches and trash-talkings to myself do not compare to hearing from someone else. It doesn't even have to be praise. It just has to be a kind of contact, the kind that gives you assurance that even if you fall smack on your face, even with bloody hands and a forehead covered in mud, you will not be regarded as a complete and utter failure.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

trouble acting normal when she's nervous

Should there be any doubt that I am una persona muy ridiculosa, let me clear it up once again- great Caesar's ghost, I am insane for Muse's Knights of Cydonia. Derivative of Queen? Yes. Way too long to be a modern rock song? Yes. Almost Spinal Tap-like song title? Yes. Kept me from tearing my hair out at least three times in the past two days? Yes, b*tches, yes.

This is why I can never really turn my nose up at anyone else's musical tastes. It's hard to claim you are a music snob when you are positively gleeful listening to a Bohemian Rhapsody rip-off. Of course, I will still be hypocritical from time to time, and get on some sort of musical high horse, because I am also a person who specializes in contradicting herself, constantly.

My poor attempt to cheer up SP about her double-header heartbreak/mugging (a.k.a. I am not the friend you turn to in a time of need):
    "You know what would be really useful right about now? Having your very own Spy Daddy."

Whatever, I still contend this would have been a healthy fantasy to keep her occupied for a while. Really. Been mugged? Jack Bristow will hunt down the perpetrators, make the thugs pay, and will simply give you a knowing, meaningful look the next time you talk to him. Break your heart? Jack Bristow will make The DB regret that with thinly-veiled contempt, and the fear that, at any time, The DB could provoke Jack into shooting him in the face. I don't know, it seems like a pretty pleasant fantasy to me.

Of course, this is coming from someone who threatened to "go all Breaking The Waves" if The Goal amounts to nothing. Yeah, I really have it together, don't I?

Also, everything said here goes double for me. George W. reading Camus makes the baby Jesus cry!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

it's a sin that I can't tell the truth

It's occurred to me now that I am ready for something, but I don't know what. And I am waiting for something, but I don't know what. And that is strange indeed.

It is not the feeling of floating too high. I have felt that before, that giddy, suspended state, and the awareness that I have just another moment before I fall, hard. It is not that feeling.

And it is not the feeling of wallowing in the depths either. I have felt that before, that irrationally low weariness, and the struggle to get it together, because, come on, it's just not that bad. It is not that feeling either.

So what is this? It makes no sense. If I am so ready, why am I acting so passive? Why not make something happen instead of waiting for it, after all? Indeed, it is odd to feel simultaneously driven and aimless. It seems as though I have become one of those wind-up toys: all it would take is for someone to set me facing in a certain direction, and off I might go. I would not think to ask until much later if this was the course I wanted.

But all of this, I suppose, ultimately, is just a way to pass the time. I know what I want, but that is very much out of my hands just now. So, instead, I entertain myself with notions of other desires that might be buried under the all-consuming, dominating push towards one thing. And that gets right to the point- I am ready to be distracted.

So distract me, motherf***ers! With something other than Project Runway or Entourage. With something other than the banality of deadlines and discord at work. With something that is shiny and new, that holds the promise of buds about to bloom.

No? Then I will have to get my lazy a$$ back to baking.

Monday, August 14, 2006

thursday night far from sleep

SP called me on Friday evening. She had also dropped me an email on Friday afternoon asking what my plans were that night. That was a bit of a surprise, because she knew this weekend was supposed to be spent in devotion towards The Goal. When she called on Friday, I was still at work. Then we had this exchange:
    me: Sorry, my cell phone gets no reception at work.
    SP: Ah, I didn't have your work number... so you are still at work?
    me: (long pause, controlling the urge to b*tch) Yeah.
    SP: Well, I was wondering... okay, I've had a really bad week and I was hoping you would have some time...

At this point, I must interject to log a few notes. SP never interferes with my work towards The Goal. She usually encourages my hermit-like tendencies during this time. What is more, she is rarely, if ever, needy, in that wah, please spend time with me way. So her request was actually enough in and of itself. Okay, back to the conversation:
    me: Yeah, okay, I can-
    SP: Because (blurts this part out) I got mugged, held up at gunpoint last night, and I really-
    me: Wait, what?!? Are you okay?
    SP: Yeah. Oh, and I was on a date, and-
    me: When did this happen?
    SP: Last night-

At this point, I was already pressing shut down on my laptop. SP and I started talking in half-sentences, interrupting each other, and we quickly realized we needed to stop talking on the telephone. She came to my place straight from work, and I was already there, straightening up the crack shack just enough so that she could come up to the apartment without being further traumatized.

Thankfully, SP was not hurt. She had some money and a credit card taken, and was clearly shaken up by the incident, but was otherwise unharmed. The gun was held at the back of her date. When she described his reaction, I realized that, in some ways, something like this is even more difficult for men to process than women. I hope that does not sound foolish, but I do contend that women are allowed to be upset, to be a little fragile. For a man, I can just imagine it is a bit harder- you're supposed to be the tougher one, you've been set up to think you're the protector. So, to be on a date, and be mugged, well, it must make a man feel a bit like a eunuch. This is not to suggest that this man was in any way a wimp. He did all the right things, making sure SP was okay, accompanying SP all the way back to her place in a cab.

When SP was finally sitting on my couch, though, she revealed that her bad week had started before the mugging. This dude, who I refer to as The DB, invited her to meet up earlier this week. The DB has a dog, and SP is partial to dogs, and also pretty partial to The DB, so she agreed. First, he backed out of dinner with a feeble excuse of having to prepare for an impending visit from his parents. Then he showed up with two dogs, instead of one. The second dog was his ex-girlfriend's. Guess what? The DB, after meeting up with SP, tried to casually incorporate into conversation that the ex part of the ex-girlfriend's title had been recalled. Why SP did not channel The Wedding Singer at that moment, and yell, "Information that would have been useful to me yesterday!", I will never fully understand.

I cannot tell if it was a blessing or a curse to have these two things happen to SP at once. In a sense, this heartbreak at the hands of The DB distracted her from the very real danger associated with the mugging. But then again, I would not have wished either of these incidents on her. When we met again on Saturday, it became clear to me that The DB's sucker punch had actually wounded her much more deeply than the mugging, was going to stay with her for much longer.

Why is that? And is it only true with women? When she told me everything, I was hard pressed to chide her about taking the sucker punch harder than the robbery. The impact is different, but no less piercing. And in some ways, it is easier to forgive a stranger than it is someone you thought meant something to you. Maybe Saul Bellow's title says it all: More Die of Heartbreak.

If nothing else, I suppose all of this definitely put my meaningless whining in perspective. When I was on the phone with SP on Friday evening, a moment of sharpening occurred, just as it had in the past. All the bullsh*t becomes a blur, the picture focuses into plain view, and an exclamation mark punctuates the thought in your head: This! This is real and this is life! It makes me realize how much of my life is spent lolling, gently down the stream.

Friday, August 11, 2006

I go along to be with you

All week long, people have tried to convince me that my current predicament of covering for the head honcho is "great exposure". Hey, guess what, people? When you're working for The Man, ain't no such thing as great exposure, yo! In general, I'm much happier when I go unnoticed.

But it will all be okay. I really do believe that. I have no reason to believe that, really, but I do. I have every reason to believe otherwise, actually. But here I am, helplessly hoping anyway. So there.

After returning home late last night, I engaged in the mundane- do the dishes, take out the trash, that sort of thing. It is strange how sometimes these mundane activities are the only things that really give me the sense that I am alive, that I am another person inhabiting this world, that I am not fading into the fog. But they do.

All I really need is a sense of purpose. It sounds lofty to state it that way, but it is not really all that aspirational. I have no aim to save the world. I have no aim to save anyone else. I do not even aim to save myself. It is so much simpler than all of that. Articulating it never works, but let's just say I'll know it when I see it.

And I will know it when I see it. It is weird to be certain of that. How can you be certain you will know it when you see it, when you haven't seen it so far? Is it because you just haven't seen it yet, or because you didn't know it when you saw it after all? How can you be so sure that you haven't missed it altogether?

It gives me a headache, but not really. W's last email questioned my commitment to Sparkle Motion. It is hard to hold that against him, but it is equally difficult to make my resolve clear. How to put into words why I am willing to pull the rug out from underneath myself, to make life difficult when it could be easy, to sequester myself in my apartment all weekend? To what end? Why? Why would I want to do this?

I have no answers to these questions. The answer will be waiting there; at the end, the beginning will become clear. Maybe. Or maybe this will all turn out to be one, huge mistake. But nothing could convince me that I do not need to do this. To let doubt put an end to this saga would be letting myself off the hook, would be letting life off the hook. It does not work that way for dreamers.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

to the outside, the dead leaves, they are alone

It's official, I am buried. I have not made it out of work before sundown once this week, and I just cancelled a dinner with my pseudo-bro PG on Friday night, because I wasn't sure I would be able to make it to the 9 pm reservation. Last night, I had insomnia for the first time in years because I could not calm the anxiety about everything that needs to get done this week. And some time tomorrow evening, I have to flip the switch that will channel all of this current energy towards more important work this weekend.

But, this too shall pass. When I am buried, I do not die. I bury myself in a blanket of soothing sounds, I throw myself a wake, I write myself an elegy. Is this too morbid? Sorry. Sometimes I can't help it.

See, I was all prepared to rant, to rail against the system, to verbally flail at the notion of feeling stuck. But I do not feel stuck. Truth takes time. Besides which, I have iTunes. I opened it up like a kid might open a music box, the kind with the rotating ballerina.

But with better music. DeVotchKa. Come on, it's fun to spell and say. Listening to this music is kind of a sign of the progression of the week. I started out guzzling hard rock, the kind of rock with a bombastic guitar intro. And here I am politely sipping theremins, violins and accordions for comfort. Fuel to start a fire, and a cool breeze to prevent the flames from burning the whole place down.

And dreams. Small, but buoyant. Buoyant, but defying inherent gravity. Little bubbles so heavy with hope that when they burst, your heart might break.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

watch how they just disappear when we're far away from here

I recognized your silhouette as you walked out

This one will drone on. Consider yourself cautioned in advance.

A lot was made some time back about a certain Super Sweet Sixteen episode on The Root of All Eye Bleeding MTV, featuring two twin Indian-American girls. Many seemed genuinely horrified and somehow personally offended by the twins’ behavior. I have to tell you that I finally subjected myself to a re-run of this nonsense last week. I didn’t find myself enraged because:

  • The entire basis of the show is to witness overindulged youth throwing an obscenely expensive party to celebrate that they managed to make it to the ripe old age of 16 without flunking out of school, getting themselves knocked up, or choking on the plastic toy in the cereal box. I’m not sure why it is somehow more offensive because they are Indian.
  • Granted, these are extreme depictions, but anyone who knows a teeniac or two knows that some of them dream of reaching this level of obnoxious self-involvement. If some of my cousins had just a wee bit more cash at their disposal, they’d be giving these twins a run for their money.
  • A group of raucous punks crashed the twins’ party.

It’s that last part that triggered something, reminded me of why I have both questionable taste in men and why I never quite fit in with any of my Indian friends growing up. The girls on the show were dramatically appalled that the punks crashed the party, and even resorted to calling upon security. In that way, even those two jacka$$es are better Indian daughters than I am.

When I was in high school, my parents were always suspicious of any guy who called the house. There were two equally pathetic things about this. First, most of the guys that were calling were doing so to ask a question about some homework assignment. And secondly, these 6' tall EBF guys were afraid of my 5’3” mom and dad. Anyway, when I was nearing the midpoint of my high school years, I had just about had enough of this paranoia, and decided upon a new approach. One boy arose suspicion; five boys together posed a dilemma. I know this logic sounds a little insane, but it actually worked.

So started the beginning of an era of what I like to call TMI with the guys. Such are the perils of befriending a pack of teenage boys though. While my parents tolerated this, it was still abundantly clear that I was under a tighter watch than other teenagers in EBF. The Apaches, as they called themselves, were well aware of this, and in an uncharacteristically protective manner, would usually look out for me in this regard. If they knew things were going to kick up a notch at a party, they’d send me packing. And sure enough, on such evenings, as I left cursing them out for expelling the girl from the crew, the police would show up. It was EBF, dudes. Kids could be sitting around drinking white wine spritzers over a chess game and the cops would still appear to break it up.

But every once in a while, the Apaches would forget that I had strict parents. Or maybe they didn’t forget, but savored the idea of having a little fun with that fact. I had the Apaches, and my friends Pam & Jackie over for an early dinner once. Of course, since I was a kid, this was no more complex than spaghetti. One of the Apaches, Craig, asked me what he could bring. I suggested bread. He brought a loaf of white bread. That night, my parents were throwing a typical dinner party, uncles and aunties trading verbal one-ups, comparing their supposedly perfect children to each other. Pam & Jackie were still over; we were watching some chick flick in the basement. Around 10 pm, my mom suddenly appeared downstairs.

“Come up here please,” she demanded in a whisper laced with rage. I complied, climbing the stairs. When I got to the top of the stairs, she whispered, “There are boys at the door. For you.”

To get to the door at my parent’s house, you have to pass the sitting room where all the uncles and aunties hang out. There was no getting around this. I opened the door and immediately, the Apaches, all five of them, filed into the foyer. As if this were not scandalous enough, they were inexplicably soaked from the knee down. Oh, and definitely drunk. My mom stood glowering at me. Craig murmured, pleased with himself, “Hey… what’s going on?”

Now was not the time to be amused. Not with the uncles and aunties all watching. So, I did my best impression of my mom and crossed my arms in front of myself. “My parents have people over. You guys can’t come in.” This was kind of a stupid thing to say given that they were already inside.

Craig lingered in the foyer, scratching his head. He finally raised his head, looked at me, and asked, “Well okay, can I at least get my bread back?” All of a sudden, I really was angry, but not for the appropriate reasons. I marched back to the kitchen, and my mother actually followed after me- she was ill equipped for this situation of five drunken teenage boys standing in her house while she had guests over. After handing the loaf of bread over, I showed the Apaches the door, and off they went, I later discovered, to continue their evening of pool jumping around my neighborhood. When I told Pam & Jackie what had transpired upstairs, they were completely infuriated on my behalf, that these dudes were so insensitive.

But the thing is, even at the time, I knew it was hilarious. Even at the time, I knew the Apaches were far more interesting than anyone else I was going to speak to that night. When the punks crashed the party on the MTV show, I saw their floppy hair, their t-shirts, and immediately recognized them as the Apaches. These were my people, the people you pursed your lips at, but secretly were charmed by. I had other friends in high school that were supposedly closer and sweeter to me, but there’s only one entry I still remember in my high school yearbook.

When this silly show triggered the memory, I dug up my yearbook to re-read the entry. And this is what Craig wrote in its entirety:
    The problem with you is that you don’t realize the value of a loaf of bread or an Apache visit. Other than that, you’re sort of okay in a weird way. We have been close over the years, you have to admit. Maybe I should have asked you to the prom instead. I mean, we did whoop it up on the dance floor, and your parents did like me for a little while (5 seconds). Be forewarned- the Apaches will come again over the summer. Arghhh!

And if you convert currency from high school, this is just about the most awesome gem you can ever get from a guy. The Apaches never did make a return visit though. We all got as far away from EBF as possible and lost touch. But I still have a soft spot for bad boys, because I can never think of them as really all that bad.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

off the hook

It all started when I figured out how to get my iPod to repeat songs (I know, I'm slow). I was already running late. For a moment, the scales swayed, weighed whether it was better to just drive rather than taking public transportation. Shame tipped the scales. What's more, it was a gathering of desis- what were the chances that I was really that tardy?

Damian Marley's All Night was winding in a loop before I had even left the apartment. It has been a long time since I have needed a song to propel me into motion, but this one certainly is effective. But the lovely part was this- by the time I left my place, I was in a rhythm. And there is something about finding your pace. People, believe me, I'm nothing to take note of, but that afternoon, my gait was attracting more attention than I have ever deserved. Maybe I was dancing and I did not even realize it.

Of course, this is all in the realm of the self-contained. And of course, because I am incredibly self-absorbed, this is the realm which I muse about most. I am constantly in wonder at how this city envelopes me in such a way that loneliness is impossible, however solitary my travels may be.

By the time I arrived at Chaat Cafe, I was nearly giddy. This may very well explain how I managed to knock all sorts of things off a table within minutes of meeting the Mutineers. What it doesn't explain is how, even though I have been to these meetups before, I still cannot seem to overcome shyness and make normal conversation with people. Anyway, lucky for me, everyone else compensated for my shortcomings. And now, because I must soon return to burrowing my way out of a mountain of work, come the bullets:
  • Apparently, people are not as I.S.T as I thought- when I arrived, a group of women left shortly after. This was sad, since I never got to really speak to them. Maybe next time?

  • On the other hand, dudes, I met Ennis! There are two reasons I was all about Ennis. First, he scrawled on a napkin to Vinod the question: Is that Brimful? And then later, when I told him about my twisted and tortured plans for life, he concluded that I am "muy loco" and went so far as to clarify "not un poco loco, muy, MUY loco." Oh Ennis, believe me, that's only the tip of the iceberg of my insanity.

  • Speaking of Vinod, reunions galore! It says something that I never think of Vinod as living in SF, because he is so very International Man of Mystery. Vinod regaled us with tales of no shame in his game in Budapest, and eyebrow-raising stories regarding Manish, who was referenced so frequently that he was something of a honorary guest in absentia. Then, there was ads, who got an equal measure of people saying "Why haven't you been updating your blog?" and "Oh my god, I've read your stuff- you are really funny!" And then came maisnon from house-hunting expeditions, god bless her patience for that. And then, in walks Saheli in a sari, b*tches! You want to try to out-mutiny that? I don't think so, yo!

  • Cool new people! A helped to represent the South Bay, and told us a story about a blue moth that requires a hefty level of self-confidence to recount to a group of strangers. So, she automatically rocks. Then, there were the DJs. DJ Sweeney was pretty much thrust into this meetup, but was a great sport about it, and didn't even mind it when we gave him an honorary desi name. DJ Drrrty Poonjabi (that's three r's for you b*tches!) brought good conversation and CDs for everyone. I hope some of you that were there have listened to the CD- it's giving me hope for the youth! I was listening to the CD the next day in my car on the way to work, and actually let out a giggle on the 101 as I listened to a completely inexplicable mashup of NIN's Closer, Papa Kehte Hain, and (oh, as if that wasn't enough) Muppet Babies. MUPPET BABIES, people. I'll have to check if he's opposed to me posting it here some time.

We had a classic desi parting. First, we said goodbye at the table. Then, we said goodbye at the doorway. Finally, we really said farewell outside at a crossroads. It reminded me of the parties my parents used to throw. The parents would summon all the children to stop playing and gather their coats. Then we would sit on the stairwell, our eyes rolling to the back of our heads, waiting for all the uncles and aunties to say goodbye one more frickin' time. But in retrospect, it's something I have always missed, that affection my parents have for all their friends that kept everyone lingering in a crowded hallway.

Saheli and ads walked with me to BART. Once we got there, we found ourselves on opposite ends of the platform. They boarded their train. The iPod kicked up again. I no longer had my self-sustaining bubble of sound. It took me a while to find a song that was right. In the end, it was The Shins' Gone For Good. Considerably more somber, but it fit my new pace. Slightly slower, but still upbeat.

In other news, I can't seem to get songs by Cansei de Ser Sexy and Wolfmother out of my head of late. Does the magnetism of aggressive sound say something about my current state of mind or is this just some good sh*t?

Monday, August 07, 2006

I got to see that lie

For a while now, this space has really suffered. You may not have noticed it (because it may seem like it is always suffering from some malady or another), but ever since I have been meeting bloggers in real life, this space has taken on more constraints than it once had. Maybe that is a good thing, because I might have needed a little discipline, and perhaps it serves to curb the venting. Except that I think that the venting is still spilling out, only it is now unintelligible. There is this weird dichotomy that occurs then- writing used to be a way for me to be understood, and yet in some ways I spend a lot of time obscuring the truth. It has already been established that imposed structure and restrictions are not my thing. In fairness, I don't really know what I'm going on about. Or I do know, but I cannot figure out a way to articulate it. A part of me is reconsidering this constraint business, and just going no-holds barred into truthiness.

Do not ask me what brought all that on just now. In all truthiness, I had a completely drama-free weekend. And I did not even do any work. I have come to peace with the fact that I am an extremist. I would like to be more balanced, and I strive for that in certain aspects. But not when it comes to work ethic. That is a difficult thing to harness. So, I alternated between a weekend of self-imposed isolation and one that was so event-filled that I spent no longer than two hours in my apartment a day. I told myself last night that I would have to wake up this morning and convince myself into not being exhausted. But actually, I have not had to trick myself into it- I really do feel well-rested. I needed the extreme, because next weekend, it's back to agoraphobia central.

Anyway, I would love to recount the tales of this weekend, but right now they are a bit jumbled, and I am a bit jumbled, and it will take time for both to be properly unentwined. In the meanwhile, I will mention that at the SM meetup yesterday, the details of which I will have to outline in a separate post, I felt, as usual, inevitably uncool as I confessed that I was planning to go see BTE last night. This morning, I would like to retract my sheepishness. Really, however unhip or untrendy it is to go see a band that supposedly peaked in the 90s, I dare anyone to find a better band that performs live. Not only is their sound and playing impeccable, but they also have a genuinely good time on stage. These guys love music. Any band that covers James' Laid, Rolling Stones' Miss You, plays a riff of Sunday Bloody Sunday while impersonating Bono, works a stanza of The Cure's Fascination Street into the end of their song, and makes references to Snakes on a Plane and Entourage in one night is alright by me. Oh, and seeing them at The Independent? Very nearly my idea of perfection.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

you say you want

Let's get the grumpiness out of here for a moment. Okay, dudes, it's time for another poll. Remember what P. Diddy says- vote or die!

Keeping The Dream Alive This Week:
Sometimes it winds up in my music collection.
yousendit scares me.
Dude, nobody cares what is keeping the dream alive this week.
It's your blog, so go ahead and tell us if you want, but it's not necessary to include the music link
What? I didn't even know you've been putting music up here.
I choose not to answer so that I cannot be implicated in such illicit activity.
Free polls from

Brought to you by virtue of my utter laziness and strides to gauge where I can be even lazier.

p.s. Is it just me or does anyone else think Allison from Project Runway is channeling Drew Barrymore?

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

don't even make sense that I wrote this song

The Giants won, and the grind did their thing by getting me and my other work schmucks tickets to the game. Towards the end of the game, I remarked that the Giants had the game locked. I proceeded to get the Manson lamps from my co-workers when the Giants proceeded to allow two runs. No offense to the DCists, but I don't think we should do cartwheels over beating the Nationals.

I came home with an allergic reaction, a stomach ache, and then, just as I was settling down for an evening of Project Runway, the apartment shook such that I instinctively ran to the window to see if a truck had rammed into the building. No. We had a mild earthquake. San Francisco. Always reminding you that life is not static or steady.

After getting a few much-needed things done, I started thinking about flowery prose, and how I have always been fond of this expression in period pieces about recommending. For the past year, I have really done some serious thinking, underneath all the surface insanity, about what qualities recommend me. And in the past year, I have come to the definite conclusion that, in fact, I have none.

When I was less self-aware, I would cling to one particular quality, and claim I was good at it. I might not have been the smartest person in the world, but I was driven. I might not have been the most driven person in the world, but I had a knack for figuring out how to squeak by. I may have been unable to keep a relationship going, but I was spectacular at maintaining a feeling. I could be a good friend.

It was like constantly coming up with an excuse, constantly coming up with a retort. It was so very I know you are, but what am I? But as I woke up, as I squared with reality, I had to throw it all out. This is not fishing for compliments, because there is really nothing that can be said to dispute it. Say that I am a passable writer, and I'll pull up an old blog post that will prove you wrong. Tell me I am a good friend, and I'll give you 20,000 examples that will make you wonder if I even have any friends left. I can't even say that I am really good at telling the truth- even there, I fall short.

And that is an oppressive feeling, this feeling of always falling short. Maybe most people have gotten over such foolish expectations by this point in their lives. Or maybe I just really have nothing to offer. Because the only thing, at this point, to recommend me is that I have grown impressively adept at looking out for myself, wrapping myself into chainmail, impenetrable cocoons. And that is not really something that should recommend me to anyone else.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

everybody's got their dues in life to pay

I admit I always get a kick out of Assffleck schadenfreude, so I found the gossip today particularly amusing. At the same time, it reminded me of my love-hate relationship with the Red Sox. Actually, scratch that- it reminded me of my love-hate relationship with Red Sox fans.

Really, is there any more hated fan in sport? On the one hand, these are diehard fools that have hoped against hope, and those hopes have actually prevailed. That would be a pretty story. And the Red Sox were my home team growing up, so technically, I should be one of those fans. Except...

When the Patriots won one of their Superbowl titles, at the ticker tape parade in Boston, a spontaneous chant of Yankees Suck! broke out. Also, when I lived in that city, holy mother of g-d did it get annoying to hear these people start in with the this is going to be their year chatter. Also, these guys will turn on your a$$ like nobody's business. Whenever anything goes wrong with the Red Sox, the fans verbally lynch someone into the realm of cruel and unusual punishment.

Since I quickly grow weary of drama, I tired of the Red Sox long ago. That is why I grew up as a loyal Patriots fan. These guys did not disappoint. Or rather, they consistently disappointed. When Steve Grogan was QB, you were never fooled into thinking these guys had a shot at much of anything besides a post-season vacation. Okay, there was that one year against the Bears, but even then, they pretty much knew we were going to get clobbered.

And when they're on, they're all the way on. These guys are the anti-Red Sox: when it's clutch time, there is no Bill Buckner-esque bumbles. Sure, their star has fallen since losing Romeo Crenell. Still, the Pats are a reliable team. They might not make magic, but they are that good buddy you can count on for a beer on a Friday night.

My cousin got me the hat in the picture below. It's beaten and bruised at this point, but it's still the only cap I ever wear, on those rare occasions that I tame the mess that is my hair. I have worn it through some tough journeys:

Now, I know that it is weird because a baseball cap should feature, well, a baseball team. But I am still always surprised at how often this cap starts conversations in the Bay Area. When I have been on hikes, people have stopped me and asked me if I am from Boston. This is pleasant enough, but a few weeks ago, I got heckled. AL was off doing his thing at this beer festival, and two dudes saw my hat. The familiar grins appeared, and I prepared myself- here comes the remark.

"BOO!" they yelled at me. I know I am not on the right turf to be defending my home team, so I always try to take these things in stride. I smiled good-naturedly and this seemed to goad them on further. But here's where I cracked up. They yelled: "You're not in Red Sox country anymore! Go Giants!!"

My friends, non-New Englanders, all laughed along with the two dudes. But I rolled my eyes. I dropped my head and pointed to the hat. "Dudes, shouldn't you be talking about the Raider Nation?" I asked. They were thoroughly unphased. It was not a combative exchange. But it demonstrated to me that either the world lives to take a Red Sox fan down, or baseball fans are perhaps a wee self-involved.