Saturday, September 30, 2006

Maryland and Virginia have faded away

I do not know what time it is now. Everything is off, dissonant, unsteady. And that is life, and I know it. But just now, for this moment, it feels overwhelming. Switching time zones, back and forth, trying to sound perky and hopeful one minute, hard-a$$ed and professional the next. Keeping selective secrets, and holding people at arm’s length. It’s as though I have already moved away from San Francisco, but did not say a proper farewell.

I will be back, I will be back, I say. I know this and don’t know this. I know I will return tomorrow, but I do not know if I will return permanently. So much depends on a red wheel barrow glazed with rain water beside the white chickens. I do not have a home, have never had a home. There are only the places where I feel like me, and the places where I feel like a ghost.

But what I have realized is that I feel like a ghost when I am being other than myself. And so, I reason, if I am doing what I have dreamed of doing, every place will feel like any place, and any place, I will feel like me. No more double life, double happiness to maintain.

I know, I know that I am actually, inarguably fortunate. I have such luxury to be able to navel gaze in this moment. And I know the moment will pass and I will not feel quite so disjointed. The moment will pass and I will know that however things turn out, there is still so much that lies ahead. If all the chunks of flesh I have sacrificed are not enough, I will cobble them together and write a tale of belly flops in three acts. If they are enough, I will sing you a song of my fortune. Either way, there will not be rest. It will not be easy. And thank every higher power and every one and every thing for that.

And now I sleep, so that I may wake up by 4:30 to catch a flight back to my other life. This moment has passed, and I urge you all to ignore this post entirely, and go give Anna your unswerving adoration and affection. She needs a big loan from the girl zone (the boy zone is allowed to participate as well). Would that I were three hours north rather than my current location, that I may have spent this day in the company of Anna, rather than exploring a town on my own, with too much time at my disposal, encouraging my self-absorptive ways.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

stay cool, motherf***er, stay cool

Even though DJDP remarked, and rightly so, on Saturday night, “You write about the randomest sh*t on your blog,” in fact there is often a lot that I do not write about here. Some of this is because life goes by too fast, and it’s rather impossible to document each and every notable moment. Some of this is out of regard for other people’s privacy, or for my own feeble attempts at anonymity. And often, it does more harm to write in vagaries than to just remain silent. So silent I have stayed on some topics.

But not on the topic of my Saturday evening. I just have not managed to sum it up. Maisnon and I went to Dhamaal- there was a wink on her blog to the confusion both my brother and my friend SP demonstrated when I told them of my plans:

Take 1:
    me: D & I are going to Dhamaal on Saturday night.
    bro-seph: Which one?
    me: Wha?
    bro-seph: Which mall?

Take 2:
    me: D & I are going to Dhamaal on Saturday night.
    SP: Really? Are you looking for something in particular or just browsing?
    me: Um, I’m not going to meet guys.
    SP: Wha?
    me: Huh?
    SP: You know… at that mall on Saturday night?

I don’t know what’s more disturbing- that the bro-seph has actually been to Dhamaal before and still did not know what I was saying, or that he thinks I’d be gleefully telling him of my big plans to go to a mall on a Saturday night. I did a true count the other day, and since 2004, I have bought three pairs of jeans and two pairs of dress pants. Just one of the sacrifices I have made for The Goal. Okay, not really- I didn’t even notice until my friend M reminded me of a shopping spree she dragged me to in 2004 in DC. We got into a shouting match at Banana Republic because I would not try on a cardigan. It was not pretty.

Off topic much? So, I think Dhamaal is okay- it’s not necessarily my typical scene. Everyone there is usually too authentically desi, or too tragically hip- the middle spectrum, where I am firmly lodged, is usually absent, so that I feel like a square peg. But DJDP’s CD had won me over, and I was intrigued to hear what he would spin.

To make a long story short, you should know this about me. If you play Galvanize and Could you be loved in a 30-minute span, I will be so content that I will not be able to comment intelligibly about anything else. maisnon smirked at my inability to stand still during Galvanize, but DJDP soon discovered her Achilles’ Heel: reggaeton. Whoo! The girl’s got moves! All kidding aside, it was a good set, and the place was packed by the time the proprietors forced DJDP to turn the volume up and, in so doing, scared hoodrats like me up from the basement, desperately clinging to the little hearing I have left.

On the main floor, a man was performing Rang Barse live, much to my delight. Again, maisnon smirked. Sometimes, I think maisnon thinks I am a complete idiot. I am a complete idiot, so she would not be wrong to think that. But I’ve also learned that I am not a good judge of facial expressions: I similarly thought someone else was giving me the wtf, you’re a moron expression, and that caused a snowball-to-avalanche proportion misunderstanding.

DJDP emerged from the basement a bit later, positively glowing. This is important. The last several million times I have seen a DJ spin in San Francisco, said DJ keeps his/her head down, perhaps betrays a few head nods, but maintains an air of being so above it all. No such thing with DJDP. Every so often, maisnon and I would spy his arms excitedly swaying up above the audience, inciting them to move.

Such exuberance was always discouraged amongst my friends and family. Bro-seph and I once went to see The Roots out in Concord, and their set was so ridiculous that I was dazed, walking back to the car, repeatedly saying, “They broke my brain, they broke my brain.” Bro-seph gave me this look, this mildly annoyed, patent, bro-seph look, that said, Not Cool all over it. As a result of such incidences like this amassed over time, I myself am not entirely comfortable with unfettered geeking out. As usual, I find myself somewhere in the middle- I am not the sort of person that needs to make a scene everywhere I go, but I also don’t want to be the person sitting in the back corner sipping on a drink while everyone else is dancing. I wish there were more people that fell somewhere in the middle. Come to think of it, that applies to a lot of aspects of life.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

because I need some of that vagueness now

I am still interested to hear your thoughts on the question posed in yesterday's post, although perhaps you all think it's too obvious a point to discuss (and I would not blame you for that), but yesterday's post referenced the following William Carlos Williams poem:
This is Just To Say

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

And this made me revisit why I relish this poem so much. In some ways, it does no good to discuss poetry at length. The poet always does a much better job at capturing everything the words are trying to convey by putting them together so perfectly.

All the same, I love the Williams poem, because it is so true. Maybe I have ingested a little too much Camus, or maybe I have just grown numb with age, or maybe, just maybe I've squared with innate tendencies, but Williams perfectly captures how we willfully do the wrong thing with very little remorse. When he writes these two lines together, it's hard to suppress a smile:
Forgive me
they were delicious

It's such a simple depiction of the way we say sorry but don't really mean it. Recently, my cousin M was telling me that she noticed that people say Sorry much more in New York than anywhere else she had lived. This surprised her, because she had always thought of New York as an unfriendly, possibly rude place. When people started apologizing to her incessantly, she came up with this whole theory about how New Yorkers are more insecure than they let on, and they don't actually want to be rude. Being a complete cynic, I came up with an alternate theory- by saying Sorry, they were exonerating themselves from guilt. Ladies, you know what I'm talking about- you have been at a concert or a club or a party where some cutesy chick has smashed right into you, turned, and sweetly chirped, "Sorry!" before walking carelessly away. And you have wanted to smack her. Why? Because you know she isn't really sorry. It's just that you have stared her down, forcing her to acknowledge that she has done wrong by you, and in order to get out of the situation, here comes the meaningless apology.

I count myself among the gang of empty apologists. It is perhaps because of this that I do not care so much about heartfelt words anymore. I will never forget receiving an email from Q one day, after we hadn't spoken or written for over two years, that included the following passage:
Many thoughts and memories surround you and certainly regrets for having acted like an asshole with you. I'm really sorry..I don't know if I ever expressed this as simply, but really, I'm sorry I was such an asshole.

At the time, I remember sitting in a hotel room in DC, trying to catch my breath. It was so unexpected. And it had been a strange day. I had been recruited a week before to give a talk at a major conference, and had just delivered it in the morning. I had returned to my hotel room with plans to meet RR for a walk over to the Lincoln Memorial, and two emails were sitting in my inbox. One marked the first step towards The Goal. The other was Q's email.

It sounded so sincere, and I am, after all, a sucker for words. I say I am not into heartfelt words now, but I say it without much conviction. If someone wrote me another email like Q's, I might fall for it all over again. In some ways, I would like to hope I would still fall for it, because if not, it means I have closed off yet another avenue to the person I like to think I am.

I sat on his email for two weeks, not knowing what to write. Since I had never thought of Q as an a$$hole, his hyperbolic apology made me wonder if he had done me more wrong than I had realized. Alternately, I wondered if he was hoping an exaggerated apology would win him a second chance. But then, later, we met, and just as quickly he reverted back to his ethereal ways. I always got the feeling I was grasping for sand that was slipping through my fingers when I was talking to him. And predictably, he disappeared again.

We know, I think, that we do the wrong thing, but we would do it again in a heartbeat. And it's that knowledge that fuels guilt. The knowledge that we are capable of willfully hurting someone else if it serves our purpose or our self-preservation. And when we apologize, often it is not because we are truly sorry. But rather, we are looking for exoneration, hoping to get a free pass.

This all sounds tragically bleak, but I can balance it out to some extent. The thing about Q's apology is that it was great on paper, but it did not stick. I've been the recipient of better apologies that were never spoken. Sometimes, it has been as simple as a knowing look of acknowledgement. And that knowing look means more to me than most anything else, because it is followed up by action, moving action that shows true remorse. I would like not to be such an empty apologist, and instead, make good on my intentions- make real amends. But more often than not, I'm just saying sorry.

Monday, September 25, 2006

then I go and spoil it all by saying something stupid

Can I get a bit bloggy on you for a moment? I know I tend to dissect this oddity of blogging more than is really necessary. This analysis of blogging betrays that I probably take it far more seriously than I ought to. Or perhaps it just goes to show how hyperanalytical I can be about anything if I am at it for long enough.

I think there are some of us out there that have to write. It is not necessarily about social connection or a devoted readership (don't get me wrong, both of these things are lovely to have), but about an innate need. It is an outlet of sorts. My cousin K remarked yesterday that, in the past few years, I have become increasingly open in a way that I never was when I lived on the east coast. She is partially right. When I lived on the east coast as a working class stiff, I was remarkably closed off. I wrote ever so rarely, when I should have been writing endlessly during that time. I did not write then because I did not want to reckon with what those pages would contain.

None of us ever succeed in perfectly representing ourselves in our writing. For one thing, we are only writing about how we are perceived, which is never quite equivalent to how others view us. Secondly, even the best writer cannot capture themselves completely. There are things we are meant to remember and things we are meant to forget, things we are meant to notice and things we are meant to ignore.

But I did not write for a period of time because, when you have to write, you just put pen to paper: strange, unpredictable words come out. I look back on the few scribbles that I did scrawl when I lived on the east coast, and wondered why I did not recognize what was happening. The words were right there staring at me, but back then, I refused to go back and reread anything I wrote, lest I should see, plainly, a battle that was begging to be fought.

In typical fashion for a crap writer like myself, though, I have dropped a ridiculous red herring with that preamble. I actually have a question for you few gentle readers and writers. And I think the question has more to do with writing than it does with blogging, to be precise.

When I am confined to the restrictions of an airplane, I finally settle down, stop swallowing pop culture trash by the bucketload, and consume books. And since I have been (and will be) spending a good amount of time on planes of late, I have picked up on a particular phenomenon. Most recently, it happened while reading an anthology of short stories. Because I seem to be getting nowhere in my quest to arrive at a point any time soon, I will stop to observe that I consider the short story one of the purest indicators of writing ability. If you don't believe me, I am sending you back to read Story of an Hour and A Rose for Emily. Maybe my love for short stories and poetries is really a reflection of my commitment issues, but I will continue to contend it is because those forms of writing are the most breathtaking.

Okay, really, now I am getting to the point. After reading one story by Daniel Alarcon and another by Stephen Elliott, I was allowing some twisted form of ventroloquism to occur. Because I am a crap writer, you cannot necessarily tell. But I can tell, I can tell that at least one of my recent posts was basically just channeling their voices into telling my story.

I am wondering if I am just suffering from a predilection for plagiarism, or whether this happens to everyone. I did not steal any words. I did not steal any facts or details. This is about style and voice. A better example than mine is one where a talented writer mimics another (oh yes, and when a talented writer does it, it's called an homage, rather than mimicry). Here's a rather well-known William Carlos Williams poem:
This is Just To Say

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

Kenneth Koch decides to play with this poem, and here's what he comes up with:
Variations on a Theme by William Carlos Williams

I chopped down the house that you had been saving to live in next summer.
I am sorry, but it was morning, and I had nothing to do
and its wooden beams were so inviting.

We laughed at the hollyhocks together
and then I sprayed them with lye.
Forgive me. I simply do not know what I am doing.

I gave away the money that you had been saving to live on for the next ten years.
The man who asked for it was shabby
and the firm March wind on the porch was so juicy and cold.

Last evening we went dancing and I broke your leg.
Forgive me. I was clumsy and
I wanted you here in the wards, where I am the doctor!

Kenneth Koch is purposefully using William Carlos Williams' style in his poem, but doesn't this subconsciously occur in a more subtle manner? More often than not, when a new song hits the airwave, it's inevitable to start naming the musical influences. Radiohead is an evolution of Kraftwerk. Muse has notes of Queen. Wolfmother is channeling Led Zeppelin. That one Keane song sounds like a blatant U2 rip-off. I like to give these bands the benefit of the doubt, that they did not mean to copy those that came before them. But you can't control what you absorb from the environment, how it shapes what you produce. I would imagine even the better writers out there do not write in an undisputed, original voice.

Did I even get my point across? Zounds. After reading Elliott and Alarcon, and quoting two great poets, I am feeling even more guilty about polluting the world with such useless words. But, tomorrow, I am probably going to gush about that William Carlos Williams poem, just to warn you. Forgive me. I simply cannot help myself.

p.s. Why all of this post should come as a revelation to someone who regularly steals song lyrics is beyond the limits of logical reason.

Friday, September 22, 2006

the journey's long and I feel so bad

Okay, well, it is Friday, and it has been a marathon of a week. I know people travel like this all the time, but coming home from Seattle last night, all I could think about was not leaving San Francisco for the next year. Of course, that is not in the cards, because next week, I head to the east coast again. So, can I have one day of grumbling? I mean, I have been pretty good this week on the b*tching front, haven't I? Anyway, it's Friday, so y'all are probably off doing something far more enjoyable than reading this drivel. So here comes the sh*t list for the week:
  • Because my flight was over an hour delayed at SEA-TAC last night, I had to spend more time with my coworkers than I would have liked. But more importantly, I came home just in time to miss the season premiere of The Office. The rest of my b*tching may actually be a direct result of this mishap.

  • I have said it before, and I will say it (oh so inappropriately) again- why can't I be one of those people who loses her appetite during times of high stress? This afternoon I ate half a package of Mint Milanos for no good reason. And now I can feel my arteries hardening, and I already grimace thinking of the state of my stomach when I go running tonight. I never learn.

  • My coworker IF turned to me yesterday and remarked, "You really need to go on vacation. A real one." And while I know this is both true and well-meant, I wanted to jump out of our taxicab onto the freeway. Yes, I would love to wander the earth, or join JP on his two-month meanderings through Europe. Unfortunately, I get three weeks of vacation a year. I have already used a week. I am burning through another one easily with all these trips to the east coast. And I need to keep a week in reserve, in case more trips pop up in my future. Even though I recognize that no one really means me any ill, a slow burn starts in my brain when people tell me I need to just take a vacation, as if a mental block is all that holds me back. Reality, people. Welcome to it.

  • Along the same lines, I am reminded of my cousin S, former teeniac, who had this chant she invented during soccer practice. It became her war cry for everything- soccer, SATs, my other cousins teasing her. "I. Won't. Be. Pushed. Around." She said this with maniacal certainty, punching her fists into the air with each word. While it was rather hilarious and disturbing at once, you may soon see me imitating her in a neighborhood near you. There is really nothing that annoys me more than trying to be coaxed into something I cannot do or do not want to do. I know maisnon and her Partnership for a Guilt-Free America understands this perfectly. My cousin M would understand as well, since she is the easiest target of the classic Guju guilt-trip out there. I am not sure too many other people in my general vicinity understand, however.

  • I know this belongs in the above bullet, but I want it separated, so that it is clearly stated. Seriously. I. Won't. Be. Pushed. Around. The options are really quite binary: either you get the hint, or I will deliver the harsh truth bluntly.

Tomorrow morning, I am dragging my a$$ out of bed early to do some life-coaching for the bro-seph. Okay, that sounds more new-agey than what I actually plan to do. Bro-seph is wigging out trying to juggle various priorities in his life. Finally, my soul-sucking job comes in handy for something- I am going to sit down with him and work through what he can and cannot get done in the next few months. I'm much better at doing this for other people than adhering to it myself. I set all these marks for myself, and miss them without fail. Still. There is something about setting them that is nonetheless helpful.

Oh, and also, for all my ungrateful b*tching, awesome people have been commenting on this site of late, and I got some good news today which means my trip to EBF in October will be extended slightly. So, though I have expelled some pure venom, know that there are roses on the inside.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

she's the one who would have taken me to my first all-ages show

She protected me like I always imagined an elder sister would. The night before the big day, M and I walked out of the subway station into darkness. It had been light when we had boarded in Manhattan. We stopped at a bodega. A bodega in my neighborhood sells fruits and vegetables that may or may not have fallen off the back of a truck, cheap cookies from South America, eggs and milk, very little else. In Ft. Greene, a bodega is all organic, sells Kashi and Odwalla, and costs more than a trip to Trader Joe’s.

With a bagful of groceries, M and I climbed the stairs to her kitchen. I could feel myself falling into a familiar habit. We were chatting one moment, and the next, I could feel myself growing silent, turning inward. Nerves were starting to settle in. M’s approach had been to distract me all weekend with talk of clowns and New York and San Francisco. But now, it was getting late.

M sensed this immediately, and in the kitchen, the pace of her chopping and fussing increased. She let me pore over papers for an hour while the smells of my childhood started to permeate the whole floor. Of course, M could not abide by too much familiarity. So, the unusual, clashing scent of dill wafted through the rest of the dal.

By the time M had set two bowls of dal with a plate of rice on the table, I had the time I needed to be quiet and still. She instinctively understood I needed to be self-contained. The dal was strange: familiar and completely unlike anything I had ever tasted before. Technically, I’m not even sure it could be called dal- the dill, green onions, potatoes, and bell peppers were incongrous, not the usual fare.

I am not used to people taking care of me. As a child, I wasn’t easy to take care of- my willful independence clashed with any of the usual attempts to nurture. Only certain people could manage: those who barreled through my guard with their unabashed affection, or those who recognized the tightrope and were inexplicably willing to walk it. But, as an adult, I have come not to expect either, because at a certain point you just keep yourself together.

And you can think me cynical for coming to such a conclusion. You can consider me cynical, and I will not disagree with you. But I will tell you this. To have your cynicism disproven and thrown in your face is one of the most joyous ways of getting a comeuppance.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

they say that looks don't count for much

Over rodizio at lunch, I decided my coworker-GBF is full of stuff and nonsense. It's not that I don't appreciate it. It's sort of the whole reason I adore GBF's so much anyway- they pay me undue compliments, and I fall for it, because I believe they have no ulterior motive to fib. The coworker-GBF has given me cause to doubt all my previously held notions on this, however, because he always claims everyone is checking me out. I think I have figured out what he may be picking up on, however. The thing of it is that he is a bit of an Adonis. In addition to having fab fashion taste and a washboard stomach, he is just plain pretty. So, it's now my contention that people fail to see that he is just a GBF, and as a result, are staring at me in wonder that I am having lunch with a supermodel.

Speaking of GBFs, I heard from JP today, the OG of GBFs, because he is leaving to cavort around Europe for the next two months. He called to tell me what dates he planned to be in Spain, and that he would kick my a$$ if I didn't make it there to meet him. Guess what, folks? I am going to have a sore back side in a month, because I will be in the land of Ben & Jerry's when I should be drinking sangria in Madrid. I look forward to trying to explain this to the completely unempathetic JP.

Sadly, I am too tired to write anything else of coherence. Seattle is dull and gray, just like you might imagine Seattle to be (although in fairness, the last two times I have visited, the weather has been the antithesis of dreary). I have a 7:30 am meeting tomorrow, and I still have no clue what time zone my body has landed into. My expectations are low now- if I make it all the way to Saturday, I will consider it a major accomplishment.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

big old jet airliner

I came back to San Francisco, knowing that in less than 24 hours, I would be getting on another airplane to yet another destination. In New York, the frenetic nature of my schedule had fit perfectly with the bustle of the subway, the streets, the throngs of people. As soon as I stepped off BART and started my walk home, all that nervous energy that served as a sort of fuel melted away. Maybe that’s bad, maybe that’s good.

It’s evening and I’m on a messed up schedule that is somewhere between east coast and west coast time. I had to leave at 5:30 this morning from the BK, and I tried my best not to do the west coast conversion to the unholy hour that I was rising for that purpose. And in less than eight hours, I’ll be off again on another flight. Oh yeah, and I haven’t bothered to pack yet.

A young woman and I were chatting yesterday in our suits while waiting for a bus. It is hard to believe that it was just yesterday that I donned that suit; already, it feels a light year past. Anyway- the perky young thing remarked that wearing suits made her feel stiff and unnatural. They are uncomfortable and constraining; she noted she feels automatically nervous whenever she wears one.

I remember when I felt the same way. But nowadays, I feel a bit differently about suits. I still loathe them- I live in San Francisco, dudes, it’s not like suits are part of the usual workwear in this joint. However, while I grumble and groan about actually getting into one, as long as I have managed to get a suit that fits me well, I find something powerful about wearing one.

First of all, there’s something about being constrained by formal attire that forces me to act like a grown-up (and I’ve already mentioned my troubles with acting like a grown-up previously, so assume this is a good thing). Secondly, suits do strangely make me feel powerful- in a suit, I feel like I have to be taken seriously to some degree. It’s an automatic get-out-of-condescension-free card. Third, the combination of silk and tailoring with high heels changes the entire way I walk. I realized that yesterday as I was stalking about Manhattan in my suit, desperate to get back to Brooklyn, where my jeans sat lovingly in wait. My gait takes on a swagger. It might very well be entirely in my head, but after all, that’s the whole point. The chances that the people interviewing you take note of your suit at all are fairly minimal; but your confidence in said suit is critical and comes through more than anything else.

I wanted to tell the PYT at the bus stop all of this, but, hi, that would have come off as both condescending and snotty under the circumstances. So I simply shrugged and remarked that whoever invented pantyhose really has a lot of explaining to do.

My cousin M & I agreed that there are a multitude of clowns in the world. We also agreed that I need a strong dose of modesty, because, after a glass of Prosecco (oh yes, b*tches, and you thought I wasn’t girly) one night, I proclaimed, “I know there’s a clown in my future. I can see him coming from a mile away.”

My cousin M said, “And how do you know with such certainty that this is going to happen?”

“Because I feel invincible right now,” I explained. “And this makes me irresistible to the common clown. Besides which, come on, you know that if it’s just a clown you’re looking for, you can find one. So can I.” After spending a long weekend of conversations like that with me, my cousin M is probably going to stage an intervention to get me psychiatric counseling.

Monday, September 18, 2006

lean against railings describing the colors

Y'all! I sit here perched in my cuzzy's window in Brooklyn, as the last sigh of a summer breeze weaves in and back through the screen. It is exactly as I imagined. When I found out I would have to go to New York in September, I was positively giddy. So much of New York drives me crazy. So much of New York drives everyone crazy, I am convinced. However, there is really little that beats the fall in New York. The weather is warm in a way that the west coast can never attain, somehow lacks in its fabric. It's the kind of warm that makes you want to sit outside in cafes drinking until the wee hours of the night.

I am a little shocked that all my molecules have remained bound together though. It has been a little bit of an insane day. I've utilized the services of a cab, a bus, and the subway. I started out in Brooklyn, wound up in the Bronx, and just came back from Manhattan. Dudes- some people go their whole lives without covering that many boroughs, and I just did that sh*t in a five-hour span. In a suit, mofos. I feel like I should be doing that dance atop my stairwell, a la Rocky Balboa, except I'll be doing it in heels.

It must be said- if I lived in Brooklyn, I would be as snobtastic about it as most Brooklynites are. And it must also be said that there is just so much to love about New York, despite all my protestations to the otherwise. I love San Francisco, like a torrid love affair for the ages. But I love New York- it's more like family. It drives me crazy, there are times I want to get far away from it, but begrudgingly or otherwise, it has my heart too.

This is all disjointed, I know, but I'm going to explode if I don't write something. I'm brimming today. When you run away, it is such an easy thing to forget that you left good things behind. All of them were waiting for me. A sweet message from B. The excitement of my east-coast friends that I might be returning (Incidentally, seriously, do you know how awesome it is to feel that wanted? Especially when all you did is complain when you lived amongst these people? How in the world did I get so lucky?). My cousin M's protective plans to keep my mind occupied, my stomach satiated, and my face smiling this past weekend. Chocolate sorbet at the cafe at the new MOMA. If I have to leave San Francisco, it is hard to imagine a more welcoming place in the world. I feel like I got a big bear hug from New York these past few days.

And now, after this brief interlude, it's back to the subway.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

the more I talk the more my bones get heavy

Weird signs of the approaching apocalypse have started to surface.

Last week, while downing vodka tonics at Catch in the Castro, I was informed by my co-worker GBF and JI that two dudes were checking me out as they left the restaurant. I gave them a mixture of the b*tch, please and I call bullsh*t looks. After all, we were on the corner of Gay & Gay, as I like to call it. Furthermore, I was wearing a huge sweater (yes, in September- it's SF, yo) and had my hair pulled back because it was all scraggly. So, unless they were checking me out as if to say, wow, look how low this place has sank that it lets in street vagrants nowadays, I am skeptical about the veracity of this claim.

But last night, at this gig that I have to attend every week, some strange shizz was afoot. First, someone inexplicably spilled wintergreen all over the place, so there was a clean-up crew scrubbing the floors. This meant that I had to push all the chairs out of the way, and stand around awkwardly with very little to do. Luckily, I come prepared for such lulls. Out came the nerdtastic journal article I had printed out for just such an occasion.

My head was buried in this journal when arrogant dude (known now as ADMD) strolled up to the phones. I didn't even look up. I'm usually ignored by such types as ADMD, and the article was actually engrossing (hi, I really am a nerd). For some reason, ADMD felt compelled to speak to me. He started asking me questions. By about the third question, which was the what do you do for your corporate master? stage of interrogation, I wanted to poke myself in the eye. It was nothing personal. I know that these are the questions you technically have to ask before you can get to the more interesting stuff, but, while I know that logically, I can't fight my instinctual weariness when these conversations unfold.

Luckily, I was sent off on an errand, and ADMD looked like his ego had been bruised a bit by my eagerness to extract myself from the awkward encounter. When I returned, the cleaning crew was still working. They were a fun bunch. One of them knocked over an entire counter of files, and then blamed me for distracting him. Cute. The same dude, about thirty minutes later, ambled up to me to chat, as follows:
dude: So how often do you work here?
me: Just Wednesdays.
dude: Oh, now I'm going to get in trouble with my boss.
me: Why?
dude: Because now I only want to work here on Wednesdays. You know?
me: (laughing) Well, I'll see if we can find new things to spill every week.

I hope that does not come off as rude. We were actually having a good laugh about it. It was interesting how the dude was blatantly hitting on me- it was this extremely flattering, charming throwaway exchange that was obviously not going to manifest to more.

In some strange way, it was somehow safe to have this bizarre flirtation between us, because it was undoubtedly going nowhere. Far safer than the snorefest that ADMD and I had just been engaged in. ADMD gave me a headache. Was he hitting on me? Was he just making conversation? Was I bored by the dull questions? Or was I nervous because something actually could have happened with him? If there is any better contrast of why all that relationship shizz is so tiring and dreary, I certainly can't think of it.

Mostly, it was just bizarre. I have this respite right now, a chance to breathe between hard climbs. And then, this unexpected silliness. Is the world coming to an end? Or do I just suddenly give off a different set of pheromones? Or are there more desperate men in SF than one might think? It's at times like these that I wish I could just shut my brain off. The hows and whys hardly matter actually. I should just be enjoying the insanity, the improbability of it all.

When I told RR about ADMD today at lunch, he had a pointed reaction:
RR: Let me ask you this- if ADMD had asked you out, would you have said yes?
me: Um... I don't really know.
RR: That's why you're a dumba$$.

I know that I should arch and be offended by that remark, but it had me amused for the rest of the afternoon.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

it's impossible if possible

Dudes, I think I have serious issues when it comes to growing up. Last night, co-worker GBF was trying to corner me into admitting that I worry that time is running out. Thing is, I really don't worry about that much. I worry that time will run out, and I'll just keel over not having done all of the things I kept meaning to do. But that's not what he was talking about. He was talking about the things that everyone hopes will happen, but either happen or they don't. Those things, I just can't bring myself to worry over. Co-worker GBF even tried to use my ovaries against me, but I countered with, "I don't think that highly of my genetic information. I'm not attached to the idea of passing it along." He did not know what to do with that kung-fu, and yes, I am proud of horrifying him in this way.

But really, I am not a grown up. I don't own grown-up furniture, or live in a grown-up apartment, or invest my money like a grown-up, or dress in grown-up clothing. I have to wear a suit next week, and the thought has given me chest pain for the last several days. Perhaps the only grown-up trait I have developed is my inclination to drink grown-up alcohol, but even that, in not a particularly grown-up way.

And yet, I do not feel immature. Technically, to be immature is to exhibit less development than one should given his or her age or station in life. And that is just it. For my age, and more importantly, given my current position, I just do not think I should have to act any older than I do.

I think all of this has been weighing on my mind because I have been having an odd reaction to Silversun Pickups' Lazy Eye. The song is relatively new. Still, every time I have heard it, I am convinced I have been transported back in time, to some fantasyland where Gish was just released, Billy Corgan's ego had not yet expanded to the size of Chicago, and My Bloody Valentine was a new band I had just happened upon. And I can remember feeling exactly like these lyrics:
I've been waiting
I've been waiting for this moment all my life
but it's not quite right

It feels like a long time ago, and yet it feels like yesterday. It feels like a long time ago because that idea is very far away now: that idea of having such a high expectation and desiring something so much that nothing but disappointment can follow. And I know it was a long time ago, because I can think of that feeling, remember it with a twinge of ouch, but also smile at my ignorance. I had not quite learned to fall in love with imperfection yet.

But it feels like just yesterday because the lilting groove of the song betrays this sense of so much still left to unfold, so much still ahead. I haven't become quite so jaded. There are still things that I have been waiting for all my life. It's a bit different: I don't wait for them with the same anticipation, or with the unsettled feeling of the unknown, or as if they are inevitable. All of those things that may never happen, I wait for them still, am as open to them now as I was all those years ago. Maybe this is a long-winded way of saying I do not feel weighed down by a lot of baggage. If this makes me still a bit sheltered to the ways of the world, and in that way immature, so be it.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

all those years, they were here first

These might come together, or they might not:
  • To current and future parents who are also my friends: an extremely effective method of charming me is to teach your small children the lyrics to vintage tunes. If one must sit in the Metreon on a Friday night eating ice cream with two- and five-year olds, it helps exponentially when the two-year old sings out "shoot 'em in the back now" repeatedly.

  • I put too much vodka in my system on Saturday night at Double Dutch and Ti Couz, but since that vodka was top-shelf, I did not have a headache on Sunday morning. Drinking a gallon of water before bed probably did not hurt matters.

  • Last night, I met up with two east-coasters, RK and IS. Even though I have lived in San Francisco for over four years, I find myself stressed when choosing places to have dinner with out-of-towners. Even though this will sound unfeeling, it's not that I am particularly keen to please my friends. It is more the worry that I might betray San Francisco and somehow not represent the city adequately to visitors that gives me the ulcer.

  • This morning, while waiting at a stop light, less than a mile from work, the car behind me hit mine, jerking me forward. At first, I thought something had happened to my transmission that had caused the car to buck like that. When, a second later, I realized I had been bumped, the light changed to green. The driver switched lanes and made a quick left without even pulling over to see if there had been significant damage to my car. Luckily, the bumper got scratched but not dented. However, I really question the common decency of this driver. I might have characterized the driver's behavior in more colorful language this morning.

  • Maybe it is because I am heading there soon and have seen a lot of its inhabitants of late, but I have been giving considerable thought to the east coast vs. west coast debate. I really adore aspects of each coast. But what I have been thinking of, increasingly, are confounding factors. I am having trouble drawing a distinction between the varied culture of the coasts and having lived in these coasts at very different phases in my life. I've been thinking lately about not feeling settled, and how strange that is, because it seems San Francisco should be the least unsettling place to me in the world.

    Last night, IS remarked that I seem happy here. RK & MM had observed the same on Friday night, albeit a bit begrudgingly. Even though they were absolutely correct, it got to me. They can make statements like that, because they know me well enough. And they know me well enough in a way that no one in the Bay Area knows me. They did not get to know me by having involved email exchanges or alcohol-laced conversations or having to deal with some dramatic crisis of mine. And in some ways, that is exactly why they do know me. Telling you who I am is not a way to know who I am. Even now, some four years later, as miserable as I was in the suburbs and as jubilant as I am living here, the most solid friends I know are all over there. And it's hard for me to know whether that is because we had the luxury of many years, or because people are just fundamentally different there compared to here.

  • Tonight, more drinks with IS and some coworkers. At this rate, I may arrive to the East Coast pickled.

It did not come together, but that is nothing new. I blame it on the waltz I had with insomnia last night- which, in turn, I blame on an ill-advised viewing of 20 particularly graphic minutes of Sin City (and I blame that bad decision on the appearance of Clive Owen on my television set, incidentally) before trying to go to bed.

Monday, September 11, 2006

don't want to open up the wounds that never heal

New Yorkers always delineated themselves from everyone else, and even that day, boundaries were drawn. But I took it personally anyway, I ingested it.

Wake up. A voice insisted I wake up. A voice said nothing was certain anymore except for the moment. The moment was everything- it was acute and precious and fleeting. The luxury of resignation was gone, no more time for giving up.

The revolution would never come. Everything large was suspect. It was the detail that was beautiful; the heroes were the everymen. The sweeping gestures were empty rhetoric; small moves meant everything.

That is what I take from it now, that is how I remember it now. But when the wounds were still raw, when everything had collapsed, when I was young enough still to try to write in verse, some time in 2002, this is how I felt:
    A building collapses to rubble
    All our certainties are buried now
    all that we believed has buckled
    and tonight it would seem
    I never knew you at all

    A building collapses to rubble
    We've come to think of it
    as a matter of course
    things fall apart
    it's scientific
    Why did we ever fight entropy?
    Why does anyone ever?

    A building collapses to rubble
    Everyone takes note
    but we are destroyed every day
    our foundations crack
    and we let it happen-
    hidden in the debris,
    broken by betrayal,
    desperately clinging to
    some reality, where it's okay
    that buildings collapse to rubble

To steal yet another line: I know it's wrong, but what should I do?

Friday, September 08, 2006

you make the sun shine brighter than Doris Day

I try not to drink

It is always disappointing to find out someone does not really get you at all. But then it's exponentially, to the tenth power, fantastic when someone does. So, while I could fixate on the former, and rail about it, boring you all few to tears, I find it more agreeable to highlight the latter instead.

Last Friday evening, drained of all mental and physical energy, feeling in need of wallowing, my apartment buzzer rang. Unlike when I used to live on the east coast (and this is one of the things I actually do miss about the east coast), it was not a friend passing by the neighborhood. Nor was it an annoying peddler of cleaning products (it happens). Nor was it the police (that has happened too).

No. It was my friendly neighborhood delivery man, asking not what you could do for brown, but what brown could do for you. Let me tell you what brown can do for you- deliver to you a package with the most beautiful little collection of Grey Goose bottles you could ever imagine, compliments of one of my favorite east-coasters, B.

When I explained to my coworker-GBF last night that all of my friends seem to buy me alcohol for special occasions, I hypothesized that I am difficult to shop for. I have no poker face, so I'm really no good at expressing disdain for presents that are not thoughtful (although I realize exactly how much of an oxymoron that is, given that a present is by its very nature thoughtful, but hey, you all knew I was a jerk). What's more, it's not entirely clear what I like, to be frank. When I'm asked point blank, there are very few things that come to mind.

My words: "I think I'm difficult to shop for."

Coworker-GBF's translation: "Yes. I'd be scared to get you a present."

Anyway, B's package is by far the best alcoholic present ever. First of all, a girl could feel dignified drinking out of bottles this beautiful, even if they could be mistaken as nips to the untrained eye. Secondly, it was one of those just because presents to some extent. She's convinced there is something to celebrate, but I'm not as convinced. But, and this is the real point- it arrived at such the perfect moment. I was feeling down and drained and just weary, but then here was this incredibly thoughtful present out of the blue. Even in the week since I received the package, there have been moments that I have been feeling low again, and B's random act of kindness buoyed me right out of it. Despite my complaints to the contrary, I am extremely fortunate.

Of course, I may be in dire need of this little 12-pack after this evening. Hanging out with little kids is not my idea of a fun time. Sorry to all those women who like to coo over kids. If you ever see me behaving that way with children, chances are that the parents are good friends of mine and I am putting on one hell of a show for their viewing pleasure. I ought to get a SAG card for this sh*t.

Oh, one more thing. After watching the stupendously hilarious and fantastic Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown last night, coworker-GBF and I stopped at a local establishment. I'd like to address them here with a few choice words:

    Dear Hot Cookie,
    Based on your moniker, there is a certain expectation one has that baked goods bought at your place of business will meet a certain minimum temperature. Given the quality of an oatmeal chocolate chip cookie purchased by me last night, I would like to suggest that you change your name to either Cold Cookie, or at best, Lukewarm Cookie.

To keep on a vodka theme, however, I'll also just mention that it is an excellent idea to watch Almodovar films with a slight buzz. I thought downing two Grey Goose & Tonics prior to the film would be a recipe for disaster, but instead, it heightened the absurdity all the more. Especially since there was a dude in the back row snoring so loudly that the entire theatre could hear him.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

now I stand on honest ground, on honest ground

Oh mother of bad news. The job that was offered to me? It disappeared. Supposedly, it has temporarily dissolved into thin air, and will take shape again at the end of October. But quite frankly, that stinks. I may have to finally follow everyone's advice and just drop out of the workforce.

Of course, I will not really do that because:
  • I have three cross-country flights that are going to cost me a pretty penny.
  • The Goal is a money pit.
  • I am Guju.

Anyways, in some ways, this calms things down. There have been way too many balls in the air. At first, that meant there were a lot of balls to juggle. This had its benefits though, because when all your focus is spent on juggling, you spend less time obsessing. But that phase ended, and it had turned into just having a lot of balls in the air, suspended indefinitely, precariously, waiting to drop without warning. Not having the option of switching jobs takes one of those uncertainties away. Even though this is not the best news, at least it is news. And right now, there are too many abstractions. So anything concrete automatically feels comforting.

In other news, it's like the invasion of the east coasters of late. Technically, A N N A & Chai could be considered bicoastal. But, tomorrow, my friend MM visits with her brood of children, which poses a problem I never have had to consider- where does one go out to eat with friends who have little anklebiters? Maybe I will just find people who have strollers and follow them to wherever they are heading. MM also hinted at wanting to see my crack shack, but I am sorry to inform her that will not be happening this go-round. Despite my best efforts, it remains in ruins. And I am not subjecting two small children to such terror.

This weekend, IS, another east coaster, is supposed to be in town, so I am supposed to hang with him at some point too. My only promise to him is to drag him away from the boredom of Moscone Convention Center and take him away from the conference-goers who wear their badges around their neck while walking on 3rd Street. In other words- meeting him will be effortless.

Just as I expected, now that I have finished what could loosely be called Phase One of The Goal, life has arrived and demanded compensation. Along with the east coasters, I need to be mindful of a lot of people I have neglected for the past few months. I know that I ought not to look at this as an obligation, but honestly, when your friends deliver a sufficient number of guilt trips (my favorites are the ones disguised as "I don't know if you're mad at me") about your lack of availability, it does become something of an obligation. Contrary to what you might expect, I am trying really hard to purge the negative energy out of my brain and just be glad about reconnecting with friends. But I am not always successful.

Still, a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down: meeting up with a work-GBF to go see Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown tonight will be the opposite of an obligation. Of course, the film title would suggest it is my biopic at this point. But then again, I am okay with the verge- the verge is an okay place to be. As long as I keep myself on the verge, I call a day a success. Remember the team motto in Dodgeball: aim low. Words to live by if ever there were.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

the boundaries of language I quietly curse

So much of the truth is lost and found in words. One of my earliest cases of hijacking science for the explanation of the unscientific arrived when I first studied aromatic compounds in chemistry. The details are probably unimportant to most. What matters is that the conventional methods of describing bonds did not suffice, could not adequately capture the aromatic nature of these compounds in a structural representation.

The solution was Resonance Theory. This was always an easy theory for me to grasp, since I had been plaguing my mother with this question since I was a kid. After reading my latest Amar Chitra Katha comic book about yet another Hindu deity, I would harass her to explain whether they were different or the same- were they individual gods, or one collective god? These questions always annoyed my mom, because she could not find the words to explain that it was neither and both. Different names for the same thing, but not quite. I got there on my own, after her answers only sent me back to my room, looking for some other explanation, in words.

In resonance theory, a compound is depicted in several different forms. But the truth of the compound is that it is none of those forms and all of those forms. If there were some way to take an average of all of those forms, that might be the closest to the truth of that compound.

That had to do with pictures and representations, but words are the same. I have made my peace with blogging lately. I am no prophet- and here's no great matter, I know. But I have also realized that, regardless of how busy I may be or how little there is to relate, still, there is something in these words.

Sometimes the truth does not exist until it is articulated into words. And sometimes it is not the truth, but writing it down makes you see which part is the truth and which part is a lie. And sometimes, it takes writing and writing, writing rambles and contradictions, and even then, you can't put your finger on it, but you're closer somehow to the truth.

And add to that your words. The point of your words is not to compliment me or puff me up, fluff me into thinking that my words are needed in any way. That is not to say they are not kind, because they are often more kind than I deserve. But your words- your words are an echo that bounce against mine. And in that way, your words prove that I exist, and that you exist.

Friday, September 01, 2006

I could dress in black and read Camus

It took me over 35 minutes, and maybe my entire motivation for the day, but I managed to clean every last dish in my apartment. I'm embarassed even typing that, since it reveals how many days I had let pass without tidying up. Somehow, and maybe this is from watching too many movies, I equate this level of filth with severe depression. And yo, most of my friends are in the dumps at the moment- I cannot be jumping into their lot. I have to keep it together, although the glue to cement myself in place seems elusive at the moment.

Really, all I want to do tonight is spend my evening licking my completely imagined wounds, talking myself out of this stupor, removing the manic from Manic Street Preachers. I am conflicted, because I told SP that we could possibly go see Talladega Nights. You know how you're not supposed to swim on an empty stomach (or an hour after eating? I don't know, I can never get that right)? Well, similarly, it feels like a bad idea to see a Will Ferrell movie in such a melancholy state.

And yet, that's probably not it. What is probably it is that I know it will be hard, on an evening like this, to hide the blues. And this will be a problem. Because SP will demand to know what the cause of all of this is. And I will tell her, and we will proceed to argue for two hours about the validity of these particular blues. While she means well (and more frustratingly, I know she's ultimately right), this will drive me crazy and cause my head to explode, because right now, I just have this need to simmer in a stew of the blues.

But I can't be having my head explode, because I hope to see A N N A again tomorrow. Can I just tell you all that I completely hogged her last night at Enoteca Viansa? Dudes, I was unabashed about it. I'm still unapologetic about it. And then, she gave me a ride home in the famous red car, which is totally rock star, because it was late, and she had a 2-hour drive home ahead of her. There were other cool people there, and I'll have to write about all of the fun conversations we had some other time. Right now, I am just thoroughly grateful to have spent some time with Anna last night. Sometimes you just need a sincere hug, a good glass of wine, and an impeccable helping of goat cheese.

Now I have to go find something else in the crack shack to clean, the better to snap myself out of this silly funk. Maybe I can talk SP into going to see Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown. Far more apropos at the moment.

p.s. Should you ever be in doubt of Maitri's brilliance, you need look no further than this excellent piece that I would really like to print out and send to George W. himself. It makes me wish I could pull off hollering "You go on with your bad self girl!" without sounding like a complete fool.