Sunday, December 31, 2006

everything I want to be comes crashing down on me

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Joni Mitchell Never Lies award
    SJM leaving SF.

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

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

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

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

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

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

You know you want to add more.

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

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

Saturday, December 30, 2006

been lying right here on the floor

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, December 23, 2006

hold on, hold on to yourself

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

the warmest part of the winter

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

what we want and what we need has been confused

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

Friday, December 15, 2006

pretty soon now I won't come around

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, December 14, 2006

worn out in Juarez

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

one day she stiffened, took the other side

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, December 11, 2006

although you pretend, I can see this will end

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, December 08, 2006

I started something and now I'm not too sure

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

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

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

I submit to you:

    Question: Is this clown for real or not?

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

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

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

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

    Analysis of Results: WTF?!?!?

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

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

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

Thursday, December 07, 2006

inside and out

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

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

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

  • I offer two words in protest: Andie MacDowell.

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

playing russian roulette with my mind

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, December 04, 2006

honey I feel so exposed

This should probably be cross-posted to Craigslist:

    Dear Nice-Enough Fellow,

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

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

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

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

    A$$hat at the neighborhood bar on Friday night

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, December 01, 2006

and it all feels fine, be it silk or slime

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

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

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

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

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

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

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