Monday, April 30, 2007

walking in your footsteps

The song this week has to do with the phenomenon that undoubtedly occurs whenever adults spend time at their parents' house- waves and waves of nostalgia couple with strange regressive behavior to recreate one's childhood. My father is starting a new job fairly soon, but he has this week off. My grandparents are visiting and staying with us this week. Even though there are reminders of our current state of existence (like the fact that I am upstairs and can hear the television from behind my closed door because both my father and grandfather are becoming extremely hard of hearing- I may invest in ear plugs shortly), there are also so many discussions of remember when that the past seems like it was just the previous day.

My father has a lot of faults. My parents and I have an unusual relationship, but I do not like to dwell on it too much because it's boring and melodramatic. But I do remember that my father, more than anyone else, showed me what a panacea music could be. Unlike my father, I don't talk about that at length with people. Those who meet me in person know that I do not usually spend much time discussing music or arguing about which band is cooler than the other. I don't profess to be a great judge of good music, or even a music aficianado. I'm no Nick Hornby. But, like my father, I have a relationship with music that is quite personal. Whatever my mood, some song will suit me well, will fit me like a glove, and wrap around me like a perfect blanket.

And because of that, even though I can't abide by most Bollywood movies or songs these days, I have a soft spot for old film songs. When my father was in a particularly animated mood, soundtracks like Shree 420 (which now, because I've regressed to a 14-year old, makes me go, "420, hee!") could be heard in every corner of our humble home. And you know what? It holds up. Or maybe it's nostalgia. But whatever the reason, I listen to this song, which I actually prefer to Mera Joota Hai Japani, and can't help but feel a little warm inside. Even if my childhood was far from idyllic, it's somehow still comforting to think I had one, if that makes any sense.

I don't think I am making a whole lot of sense these days though. I find that my brain starts to dull as soon as I step into EBF. Hopefully blog-perusing and the internet will stave off the stupidity. If not, I leave the country on Saturday and W will shake his head and wonder what became of me after five years in the land of fog and dreams.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

it's time we better hit the road

There were all these thoughts running through my head, all these mundane musings firmly lodged in a navel-gazing theme, all introspection and reflection. But I couldn’t bring myself to write them down. I couldn’t write about a stunning, stunning show I was treated to Thursday night, thanks wholly to maisnon. I couldn’t write about seeing two old friends after over a decade. I couldn’t write about annoyances small and large, or the baking I’ve done to keep myself sane.

I’d start to write these things down, and the ruse was so evident that even I wasn’t buying it. My brain’s been doing a fantastic job of shutting down paths that lead to the one big thing for this week. I can honestly say I haven’t spent time pondering why you have to give up one love for another. There have not been waves of melancholy when walking through my neighborhood. No acknowledgements have been made of all the lasts of this week.

Is it denial? Is it just that, as you get older, you don’t spend time wallowing in the what ifs? Is it just that there was so much to be done this week that I was unable to spend any time considering how much is ending? I don’t know. But I do know that it doesn’t feel uncomfortable, to feel in this feet-first, facing-forward mode of existence. It makes sense…for now.

Oh yeah, and I am going to Europe in a week. In a week! And I haven’t booked a single hotel room. I know that, for some of you, this seems perfectly okay, but this is not my usual style. I’m glad to be pushing myself out of my comfort zone, but I can’t claim it was deliberate- more just a case of procrastination and lack of internet getting the best of me.

After the red-eye tonight, I get to EBF, where, hilariously enough, internet connectivity will be much improved for me. Hilarious because I might be the only Indian person whose parents are more internet savvy than she is. Anyway, that means I will get back to stalking all of your blogs and being generally more present. That was probably going to happen anyway, though, because I predict 24 hours with the parents will be enough to drive me out of my mind.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

I've thought about us for a long, long time

Hello. Perhaps I ought to call this Postcards from the Edge. But then again, perhaps that is far too dramatic. I’m not the first person to pack up their belongings and leave for parts unknown, and I certainly won’t be the last.

Monday night, LS and I met for dinner, followed by dessert. I haven’t seen her in a long time, so I was glad to be able to catch up with her before leaving. Similarly, last night, JI, who has been in Paris for the past month, called from a bar near my apartment, and we met for a drink to catch up. I wish I could do that with everyone. I’ve realized that I don’t do well in a group- there are always so many stronger personalities that my tendency is to hang back and turn into the observer. Not a wallflower, mind you. My crutch is to turn into that curmudgeon that sits in a corner, making little, wisea$$ remarks when the right opening presents itself. Anyway, as a result, meeting with groups of people to say goodbye always feels insufficient to me.

Of course, it could also be that I am not really one for goodbyes. There have been a lot of yeah, I’m sure we’ll see each other again before I go exchanges designed to prevent farewells from being said. I don’t even know how to say goodbye or if it needs to be said. Saying I will keep in touch is a great sentiment, and not at all insincere, but it’s also hard to predict. The weird thing about moving is that it is difficult to predict who you will keep in touch with. A lot depends on circumstance, and variables beyond anyone’s control. When I left New Jersey, there were some people I considered close friends who I didn’t keep in touch with at all. It wasn’t because I didn’t like them; it wasn’t because they were friends of convenience. It’s sort of inexplicable, but some friendships stuck and some didn’t. All I can do really is to hold tight for a moment and be grateful that I had any friends, anywhere, anytime.

The strangest example of the universe and its grand plans is that I have plans tonight to meet up with two people I haven’t seen in a decade. Both were close friends of mine during our university years. But both moved to Japan shortly after graduation, and, as the strange unpredictability of friendship goes, we lost touch. Last Monday, out of nowhere, one of them contacted me, having been settled in the Peninsula for the past year. The other friend, it turns out, has been living in San Francisco for over a year. A part of me wanted to brush this whole thing off, say too late! with some mad gesture. But the universe kind of demands your attention. It seemed like it would be a big mistake to ignore this kind of odd coincidence and timing.

And I can almost make out what the universe is trying to point out to me. Friendships are strange and unpredictable and transient and impermanent. But. But. But they are also strange and unpredictable and precious and return to you and stay with you in one way or another forever.

p.s. Oh yeah, somewhere in the middle of all of this, I'm supposed to be packing up all of my belongings and shutting up shop. You can guess how well that is going.

Monday, April 23, 2007

the final countdown*

Everyone keeps asking me whether it feels really strange to be unemployed, to be freed from the bonds of corporate servitude. I think, actually, that Mimosa picked up on it best in a comment recently, when she noted that these events have been in the works for a long time.

I suppose the one advantage of my many neuroses is just that: I spend a lot of time thinking and planning, weighing and measuring and assessing. People who don't know me really well could think I'm making snap decisions, but in fact, they've usually been mulled over to the point that they have become somewhat tiresome in my mind. That's why I tend to sigh and shrug when people ask me about the whys and the hows of my decisions. I'm already bored with them.

But that's not to say that I feel bored right now. There is quite a lot to do in the next week. I move on Saturday, and I am a little shocked at the amount of junk I have managed to accumulate over the last five years. The previous times I have had to move across country, Corporate America has picked up the tab- as a result, my moves have not been mindful. This time, I really have to spend time letting go. Ultimately, because I read far too much into everything, there is something quite healthy about all of this. This morning, I woke up and thought, "Dude, it is time to let go of the Advanced Organic Reactions & Mechanisms notes from graduate school." I've been surprised at my ability to shut down the waves of nostalgia and be a little more practical I didn't even notice that I'd become so much less romantic over the years, but it turns out I have.


This week's song might have been posted before. I can't really remember, and honestly, in some ways, everything feels new again to me. But people, I have been getting really aggravated at all the beautiful accounts of the explosion of spring in New York (you know who you are). I know I shouldn't really be aggravated, but I can't help being a litle jealous. I guess I haven't lost all sense of romance over the years, because the spring in the Northeast continues to evoke all these beautiful, heady, heartbreaking memories for me. And there's this excitement and anticipation that overcomes you, and it just doesn't exist out here in the West. Right now, that feeling seems more matched to my mood than the calm and chill of the West.

This Jurassic Five song is actually more appropriate for summer, but it still gets me in a springtime mood. Anyway, I didn't want it to be too close to spring- I'm not trying to bring myself down, y'all.

* Yes, I am a complete loser for quoting that song- but G.O.B and I are okay with that.

Friday, April 20, 2007

this is the last day of our acquaintance

I want to write something eloquent and measured and mindful about the topic, but really, all that comes out is: HOLY SH*T, FTLOG, I FINALLY QUIT MY JOB! All that remains is to pack up my desk and say my farewells.

But it's funny. On the blog, I've probably talked about work like I am a cross between Dilbert and a long-suffering Office Space character. And certainly, there have been days that it would have been the right impression to give. I've seen a lot of absurdity, poor management, and had to sit through a lot of business-speak psychobabble.

Yet, on the other hand, there are some cool, sharp people here, and when you've done good work at a place and you're recognized for it and you leave without true malice, it's a strange, bittersweet feeling that envelopes you all of a sudden.

But on the other hand: HOLY SH*T, FTLOG, I FINALLY QUIT MY JOB!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

just before the dawn appears

It appears that I am, once again, trying to destroy my liver. Last night the OG invited me over his place for an empanada-making party. Even though I left the party feeling a bit depressed, I am really glad I went to his place. Of late, I have been falling into the trap of making these generalizations about San Francisco, negative generalizations, especially about its inhabitants. It's likely just my subconscious trying to lull me into feeling strangely fine about leaving. But I've been talking nonsense, like "F***ing SF is filled with super flakes" and "it's so transient here."

There's obviously some aspect of this that is true, but it's still a generalization. And the OG defies stereotypes anyway. He has lived here for over 20 years. He never flakes, and is actually also punctual. What's more, he has high expectations. Last week, he called me to tell me he was back in town from a trip. I was in a frenzy of activity and didn't get around to calling him back until Tuesday, and this is what happened when he picked up the phone:
the OG: One WEEK? One week you wait?
me: I know, I'm sor---
the OG: Shut up, I hate you! I'm glad you're leaving! I'm done with all of you Indians.

And you know what? I deserved that sh*t. It's important to have someone in your life like this. So many people I know in SF are so chill that they have absolutely no expectations. And when you have no expectations, you have nothing to live up to, nothing to keep you in line. And quite frankly, you run the risk of turning into a total jacka$$.

The OG, his stunningly handsome devil of a roomate, and a few others sat down to a delicious meal, eased down with the help of several really good bottles of wine. I have a bit of a headache today, undoubtedly from the amount of wine I consumed, but it was worth it. We sat around over dinner talking for hours. So many of the people there had known each other for years, and there was absurd banter in equal helpings of German, Spanish and Portuguese (I caught most of the Spanish banter, and deciphered a teensy bit of the Portuguese). It was all consistent with every dinner I've ever had with the OG- so much laughter and good-natured teasing and true kindness, your heart runs the risk of exploding from joy.

Tonight, I have to punish my liver some more at a bar with some co-workers. This promises to be nowhere near as enjoyable as last night, but in some ways, that is for the best too. The balance is important to help nudge me out, to keep me from feeling too blue about leaving.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

ought to be easy, ought to be simple enough

So, peeps, I remain very much in denial. Never mind that I shall be without internet access in two days. Never mind that I have no hotels booked for anywhere I plan to visit in Spain. Never mind that I haven't packed a single box in preparation for the movers.

Why pay attention to such minute details when there are experiments to be conducted? I had to bring something in for the two anklebiters munchkins visiting work today. So, did I go for the tried and true and bake a batch of something I knew to be infallible? Where is the fun in that sh*t?

Instead, I thought about how sometimes the simplest things are the most difficult to determine. Chocolate chip cookies seem like the most basic of all baked goods in the universe. And yet, I always find myself less than satisfied with the results. Partly, I think this has to do with the idea of simplicity. When you consider something to be basic or simple, though, you basically become ignorant to how it can still require some thought. More importantly, you forget to push yourself to look for the challenge. Because, man, if one thing's for certain, it's that there's always a challenge.

None of the recipes I've ever turned to in making chocolate chip cookies have really resulted in what I was after. Even my most trusted cookie book had failed to really hit the mark. Still, when you're baking for little kids, you really need to go for what they know. Of course, because I was dealing with such a basic concept, I figured I could fiddle with the ingredients and everything would just magically work out.

Any good chemist knows you shouldn't alter too many variables at the same time. You'll never be able to tease out what ingredients contributed to what characteristics. But I was feeling brazen yesterday, and so, I actually changed two things instead of one. In full disclosure, I've had some experience with one, so it wasn't as bold a move as I'm making it out to be.

The first thing I did was replace half of the granulated sugar in the recipe with maple syrup. I know that sounds weird, but I've done it before, and maple syrup (the pure stuff) actually lends a nice, muted sweetness to things. It also allows for a more chewy product, and I prefer soft cookies to the brittle kind. The second, more radical move, was to replace the baking soda with baking powder. I know it seems like a relatively minor change, but that was the real experiment I was conducting.

Feeling matter-of-fact about it all, I popped the first batch in the oven. When they came out, I had a transient panic attack. The cookies had spread out at the edges and crisped brown, while a big blob remained in the middle. They were completely baked, and they tasted okay, but the middles tasted a bit like cake, and the edges were too crispy and burnt. This picture is actually not even enough of a reflection of how badly they turned out, because it's not three-dimensional and doesn't give a full sense of how mound-like they appeared:

when it all falls down

By that point, it was almost 10 pm. I surmised that the baking powder might have been too bold a move, but I wasn't going back to make another batch. And then I started to feel really conflicted. I wasn't going to bring in these misshapen mounds to the mini-visitors. But I also didn't like the idea of meeting them empty-handed. So I started thinking about what else I could do at that point. It was getting late, but I also had nothing to lose with dough to spare.

So I scooped out a batch onto the pan, and flattened the dough out with my palm before putting them into the oven to bake. Because... why not? And let me tell you, that sh*t worked, because the rest of my cookies looked like this:

with a little perseverance you can get things done
I know one of those cookies looks like it isn't fully baked, but it's actually just my crap photography skills. These are the first chocolate chip cookies I've made that have stayed soft and chewy, without underbaking, that tasted okay. Don't get me wrong, they could still use some improvement. And I know this all probably seems tedious and boring to the outside observer. But I really can't express how excited I was, sticking a note on the recipe with the variations I'd made and the result.

And best of all, I did get the mini-visitors totally hopped up on sugar. After visiting my office, one of them had a complete hissy fit in the lobby of our building, proclaiming that he was "tired of saying hello to everybody!" My work here is done.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

choice is yours, don't be late

Since I only have (gulp!) three days left before I quit, I've been finding a lot of foolios wandering into my office, asking me questions, soliciting advice. I really don't feel opinionated at the moment though, as I am so focused on getting out of here. And that's probably exactly why they have decided to descend upon me. When I really would have given them a ticket on the Straight Talk Express, they wouldn't have been inclined to ask. I'm learning to let go of all of that though. When there's so little time left, and so much ahead to do, it's fairly easy to put an end to impassioned frustrations and whining.

There's this period of time that I spend hemming and hawing about things. I don't know why it always has to be this way, but inevitably, I delay decisions, considering all the options, trying to figure out the best one. And then, one day, I just get tired of it, and fist pounding on the table, I go on a decision-spree. The strange thing is that I don't really take into consideration the lists I've made, and in the end, wind up just going with my gut. But perhaps that's how it becomes my gut- perhaps I spend all that time ingesting all that information so that when I make the decision, it feels like instinct but is really just processed data. Or perhaps I am giving myself far too much credit.

So, because I am in too active a mode right now to write anything of substance, here are decisions I have managed to make in the past 24 hours:
  • I'm going to go ahead and get ripped off by the movers. I kvelled and kvetched, thought about shopping around more, considered throwing everything into storage. But in the end, extortion it is.

  • The Madrid leg of my trip to Spain will be solo, but it has been changed such that I will be landing in Germany first in order to spend some precious, precious time with W. There is a backstory to all of this, but it can be distilled down to the clock approaching 7:15.

  • I'm hanging out with my folks the week before I leave for Spain. I toyed with some other scenarios, but I think three factors tipped my gut. First, I'm going to be a hot mess, given all that I'll need to do to get out of California without having a meltdown. Second, my madre has a doctorate in guilt-tripping. And when she discovers how long I plan to stay in Spain, she is going to unleash a full dissertation on my a$$. Finally, my grandparents are going to be in EBF as well that week. So, I am going to put off East Coast carousing until June.

  • I'm flying back to EBF next Saturday. On a red-eye. From Oaktown. Hey, y'all, I didn't say any of these were wise decisions.

  • It's time for a chop. I'm getting a haircut on Saturday. Pray I am spared the mullet.

  • I'm buying a MacBook. But not until I return from Spain.

And now it's time for me to go home and continue under the illusion that I am not moving in a little over a week. Time for me to go home and bake something for two little tykes who are coming to visit the office tomorrow. I'm not sure how I feel about people bringing in their tykes, especially for the purpose of meeting me. So, my solution is to hop them up on sugar- I'm sure their parents will think twice before unleashing them in the workplace again after that.

Monday, April 16, 2007

part of me you carry, and part of me is gone

When I first saw this movie, I was just getting ready to move to California. But it was a different California- where I was headed promised blinding sunshine and rainless days. Flowers would bloom everywhere, but when the ground was watered, it would reek, betraying its discomfort, betraying that it was not made for such vegetation. My life in that part of California was just like that. Everyone thought the pieces had all come together; until that point, it seemed I did everything according to plan, because I was always rationalizing that every step was calculated, even when it was not. My life there held that kind of perfect, sunny promise, and was just as, if not more, false.

Before I left to go to that California, California 1.0 if you will, I developed a habit that would come in handy down in those suburbs of Hollywood. I started going to movies alone, fanatically. It got so that I actually preferred going to see them alone. It's a knack I've lost over the years- probably because now I'm so lazy that I'm just as likely to wait to see it in the comfort of my own dwelling. But I used to adore the singular feeling of sitting alone in a dark theater in the afternoon, as if they were playing the movie just for you.

So I saw this movie alone, and, like most movies I saw in the suburbs of New Jersey, it was not that impressive. I'm not a huge fan of Edward Burns, and this particular movie did very little for me. But I'm not one to let that get in the way of a good soundtrack (see Reality Bites and I Am Sam for other examples). I really never paid much attention to Tom Petty either, but he scored the entire soundtrack- and I can confidently state it's the best thing about the movie.

California is not my favorite song on the album, but it's the most cheerful and optimistic, and has the least to do with the film. And for some reason, a decade later, the line still sticks in my head, because it's just a silly little refrain:
California's been good to me
I hope it don't fall into the sea
Sometimes you got to trust yourself
It ain't like anywhere else.

When I first heard it, I pictured my life, pictured my life in California 1.0 unfolding like waves and waves of good fortune. I pictured myself with the sun behind me, hair blowing back in the wind, driving back east with sunglasses on. I imagined this type of triumphant return from California. Instead I came back defeated.

But here it is now, California 2.0, out of beta, and even though I am not making the trip by car, this song comes back to me, and wow, there has never been a better example of how things work out in ways that are impossible to predict.

Friday, April 13, 2007

not ready to be broken just yet

Sometimes, it's useful to incubate, to flip yourself inside and out, turn inward and process, submerge into yourself perhaps. Other times, you have to be a little cautious. The little mess you make innocently enough can turn into a dangerously blinding morass in no time at all.

That should probably be my theme for the week, as many times as I have stated the poetic couplet:
you better check yo self
before you wreck yo self

I know, y'all- it's quite on the same level as the other poems I've been quoting this week, don't you think?

But all kidding aside, I've been doing a lot of checking of myself lately. A lot of calm down, don't freak out, let it go. And even though that can be exhausting, it's critical to survival.

That, after all, is what happens with cancer. Sure, cancer cells have mutated and are growing uncontrollably; it seems like a mess from the moment of that first mistake. But that's far too simple and far from the case.

Our cells make mistakes all the time. We're only human. We go faulty, our cells go haywire from a bad genetic misstep here and there. But usually, we have a whole series of self-regulation that shuts that sh*t down. The cell recognizes the errors of its ways and finds a way to fix the problem internally, or it determines that it's too far gone and kills itself. Either way, the mistake is not always irreversible.

And then, even when our cells go mutant, remain messed up, stubbornly refuse to perish, still, many forces keep the mistake contained. We make mistakes, and we can't fix all of them- but we can learn to live with them. The little quirks we have, the little faults, we find ways to keep them to fixed parameters. Sure, go ahead, quote song lyrics in the title of your post or while talking to CGBF, but maybe keep your mouth shut when sharing the elevator with a VP. The body is constantly keeping itself in check.

It's only when the mistake is particularly grave, or the body has fallen asleep at the job, that cancer really becomes the death knell that it is. When the mistake is catastrophic, the cell goes supernova- it doesn't just make a mess, but it grows insidious, pushing its way out of its point of origin. It takes the show on the road, and usually because the body has looked the other way at the border crossing.

That takes a confluence of crap, basically, a FUBAR situation. If you don't believe me, check out this week's Nature article noting that no less than 4 genes are involved in promoting metastasis, that very phenomenon that leads a cancerous cell to go walkabout.

And yes, we're talking about cancer, and I know I shouldn't necessarily be applying it to human behavior. But really, it's the same basic concept- it takes a lot to really wreck yo self. It's almost wilful ignorance, or a self-destructive streak, that leads to letting a problem get so out of control that it can't be handled.

So, if I fall silent, if I'm dropping in and out of view, it's because I'm handling my sh*t. Finally, I've turned that corner, and I no longer am drawn to the beauty in the breakdown- when you can't stop the breakdown, sure, revel in it, soak it up and appreciate it for what it is. But that's what separates such a breakdown from a mess, I guess- one can't be avoided.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

and I don't want to but I think you just wait

I might just resort to quoting poems for the rest of the week, because this one, yet again, made me stop and take notice (excerpted this time around for the part that hit me most squarely in the gut):
what really happened is

this: the old fable-makers searched hard for a word
to convey what is gone is gone forever and
never found it. And so, in the best traditions of

where we come from, they gave their sorrow a name
and drowned it.

The whole poem is breathtaking, and in some ways, I'm only extracting a piece of it out in the hopes that you'll go check the whole thing out. But these last lines swirled in my head, because I have been thinking about articulation. Who thinks about something as esoteric as articulation? I don't know- apparently me.

When I was in 2nd grade, there was this boy. He was a neighborhood kid, one of the lot I used to run around madly with during summers, unearthing salamanders and building makeshift forts out of sticks and leaves, running through trails paved with pine needles. When we got into elementary school, JJ was one of the few neighborhood kids that still acknowledged the truth of those forests, that, even though I was a little runt of a girl, I was part of the little ragtag bunch. He continued to play kickball with me at recess, and stage snowball fights before the bus arrived in the mornings.

And then one afternoon, around Valentine's Day, we got ourselves into a mess, my first but not last mess of its kind. We had both skipped recess to work on our little, foolish handmade cards. And he came over and said, "I'm making mine for you."

I asked, "Why?"

He answered, "Duh, because I like you." He looked at me then, and I didn't know why exactly. I looked at him dumbfounded. The words did not really mean anything to me at that age. I did not really understand what he was saying. And the pause continued as I was shuffling back in my memory through the books I had read or silly shows I had seen, trying to compare this moment to something I might have witnessed vicariously elsewhere.

But that pause was like a lifetime to a 2nd-grader who didn't know exactly what he was saying himself. Before I had the chance to figure out what I thought of this turn of events, he blurted out defensively, "No, I don't, I'm kidding- I don't even like you at all!"

And of course, I knew exactly how to respond to that: "Fine, I don't like you either!" followed by a swift kick in the shins, and a mad race out to the sun-drenched playground.

Even though I've come to know the look, the tone, the moment so much better over time, to some extent it seems like it can always be distilled back to exactly that exchange. Maybe now, I yell, "Whateva! I do what I want!" instead, but the difference seems negligible, really.

I suppose that little anecdote has nothing to do with the poem, actually. It's just that, because I was a 2nd-grader and not a neurotic adult, I never spent any additional brainpower teasing out whether JJ really liked me, whether he meant it, whether I might have liked him, whether I just got scared, why we didn't keep in touch after elementary school. And I do think about how it seems like such a waste of time- figuring out how you felt, or how a situation went down, for the sole purpose of setting it aside and moving on. It's not really a waste of time, I know, but I do wonder if it's worth the amount of energy it consumes.

Eh. I suppose in the end, this rambling can best be summed up as 1/3 cup lack of sleep, last 1/3 of Before Sunset (contributing to lack of sleep), combined with generous helpings of poetry. End result: total incoherence and inarticulation galore.

p.s. I appreciate it, but yo, Abhi so beat all y'all in the race to notify me of FNL getting a second season. Clear eyes, full hearts, can't lose!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

but somehow it's just not that easy

Y'all are about to get the biggest helping of how absurdly scatter-brained I can be. Because, first off, have you guys been getting a poem every day for National Poetry Month? Because if not, you're missing out, on a lot of gems, including this sucker that stopped me in my tracks:
by Bhikshuni Weisbrot

If I seem to run in
circles, forgive me,
I am used to chasing
my own tail until the giddiness
of spinning cools me down.
Then breathless,
I may take a moment or two
to settle and see the multicolored
glory of fall,
gold-fanned leaves
pressed flat and sodden
after a day of rain,
a season at its peak of beauty
full but fragile
so you know from experience,
bound to disappear.

The last three lines got lodged in my head and refused to vacate the premises, and now still the last two lines continue to echo stubbornly, stomping their feet. Achtung, Baby! indeed.

But this is where I will be taking a sharp left and veering into crazy town, population: me. Instead of ruminating on the above poem, which I have been and really could continue to if left to my own devices, I'll show you the flip side of what is happening over here. Coworker GBF and I have been trying to out-cheese each other. It started when he deconstructed Irreplacable one day in the car, and we officially dubbed it "our song." Next, we started quoting ridiculous song lyrics to each other- like yesterday, I was getting onto the elevator with him and remarked for no good reason, "You don't bring me flowers anymore." Last week, I called him, and said, "When will I see you again?"

He paused and responded, "Are we in love or just friends?"

One morning, he called me while I was driving to work, and yelled psychotically, "96.5, right now!" and hung up. I turned the dial, and had Wilson Phillips' Release Me blasting in my ear.

Our cheese-off has culminated in threats of mixtapes. So far, CGBF has come up with Champagne's How 'Bout Us and Milk & Sugar's Love Is In The Air. I've made an empty threat that my mixtape is going to be way worse, but I'm not sure I can compete. So far, all I've come up with is Bobby Brown's Tenderoni. Blogosphere, do your best (or technically, your worst?)!

Monday, April 09, 2007

come on, color me in

Based on this week’s song, I have concluded the following: I want to be from Barcelona. And since that is not possible, I want to be I’m from Barcelona. And I know you’re thinking that is not possible either, but the band has so many members that I’m pretty convinced I could slip in with a tambourine and go unnoticed.

This song, technically, has nothing to do with Barcelona. Still, every time I hear it, I get wildly excited about my upcoming trip to Spain. What it does have in common with my trip to Spain is hope; it’s almost overflowing with optimism. I don’t really have much of anything planned for my trip to Spain yet, and I am leaving in less than a month. I’ve been warned about getting robbed or worse in various parts of Spain that I’m planning to visit. And yet, I just hear the word Spain and I nearly jump up and dance to this song, this song that’s been merrily playing in my head. And I’m somehow unreasonably convinced that I’ll simply figure it all out as it comes.


Instead of thinking about other important matters, I have been thinking a lot about the whole blogworld lately. I suppose I think about it a lot because I’m not altogether comfortable with it. At first, I just wanted a space to write, and every time anyone left a comment, my heart leapt, simply because it meant something I’d written actually connected, actually conveyed what I was trying to say. And really, that’s all I expected from the blogosphere, a little give-and-take, a little unencumbered space to let thoughts flow.

But that’s not all I got. I’ve met many a blogger in real life now. This weekend, three of them came over for brunch (all bearing gifts, kind souls that they are), but the distinction that they are bloggers didn’t occur to me until much later. Much later, I was thinking of how different the three are, in terms of their background, their personality, what interests them. And I’m just as different. Yet, there we all were, sitting in a crack shack, brought together by none other than this blogworld thing I claim to keep always at arms’ length.

and the caravan has all my friends

Dropping Tamasha back to her hotel, we were talking about how this whole problem is really only one of our generation- although I hesitate to call it our generation, since I’m about a billion years older than her. But still, really, it’s only a problem for those of us who didn’t grow up using friendster, myspace, facebook, all these social networking gigs. It’s strange to think, but undeniable nonetheless, that it’s probably going to become thoroughly commonplace to know all these weird details of someone’s life and thoughts before ever meeting them in person.

Stranger still, all of this supposed intimacy, this notion that people know you reveals some weird perspective on the whole idea of getting to know people. Fundamentally, we all prepare a face to meet the faces that we meet. Maybe other people are more adept at presenting themselves honestly, or maybe other people are less fragmented. But blogging has really started to lead me to the conclusion that no one really knows me. Some of the people who know me best have never read a word of this blog, and haven’t seen me in years. Some of the people I see every day don’t know me at all. And some of the people who read this blog every day don’t really know me either. I’m just presenting different sides, but are they really sides, or just sleight of hand? Am I presenting different facets of the truth, or am I just changing masks? Maybe it’s not just the blogworld I keep at arms’ length.

Friday, April 06, 2007

sometimes it hurts but when you read the writing on the wall

When I got my driver's license in high school, and had finally amassed enough funding to get a car, the deal that came with being able to drive to school was having to give the little broseph a ride. At first, this was a real problem- as a nerdy teenager, I was all about punctuality. And actually, by then, as an aspiring outgoing teenager, I was still about punctuality, because that's what idiot teeniac girls do- show up to school on time or early in order to loiter in the hallways, at the lockers, making small-talk, checking out the scene. The broseph, on the other hand, was exactly as he is now- on his own schedule, his own pace, his own slow, winding, still river towards getting up and getting ready. This, of course, amounted to a lot of tension in the mornings- me, itching to get an early start, get a good parking spot, ease into the morning before class, versus the broseph, wanting just 5 more minutes to sleep, to shower, to sit at the kitchen table reading the back of the cereal box.

Finally, one morning, it came to an end. Contrary to what a lot of dudes who know me might believe, I actually loathe the role of the nag, the harpie. It's not for me. It's exhausting. But nor am I great at just swallowing an unfavorable situation, at just shrugging it off (and if you read yesterday's post, this is great further evidence of my burgeoning schizophrenia). So, the result, to steal AL's favorite South Park quote, is inevitably- Whateva! I do what I want!

And so I'd wait until 7:15, and if the broseph didn't have his act together, I was out the door. Sometimes, in the dead of the winter, he'd luck out and still make it, since I had to warm up the car. But for the most part, he had to fend for himself, either sucking it up on the bus with the other sophomores, or begging my parents for a ride. Even though it's now a running joke between us, I still contend it was a necessary rigidity.

Usually, I try to avoid that behavior these days, because, after all, it is a little cold. But, in San Francisco, sometimes that's best to do. Especially when dealing with San Franciscans. I have kind of avoided cementing some of my upcoming plans because I've been waiting for some other people to work through their commitment issues. But you know, my time is running out. So, I'm actually thinking that pretty soon, it's going to come on 7:15, and I'm going to have to walk out that door.


Yeah, but in other news, last night was a good night. The fog descended on the city, which is normally cause to steal yourself away with a blanket on the couch. But instead, Tamasha was visiting, and we had tapas with many a blogger I know, one relatively new blogger, and one former blogger (mango pickle, you need to get back in the game). Meeting people who know you but don't know you is an interesting phenomenon, but the weirdness dissipated rather quickly. I'll gush about all these blog-peeps another time though- instead I'll just say this: Tamasha got a nice taste of why I call my apartment the crack shack when we got to my garage and found a handful of metal spoons and golf tees strewn at my stoop, just because.

It has to be a good weekend, even though it really doesn't. But it will be. Sometimes, I see now, constraints can serve a good purpose.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

everything, all the time

So, wow- I'm done with my meltdown! I think I have kind of recognized that mediocrity is about the best I can aspire to in terms of all that needs to be done between now and then- when is then, you ask? How soon is now? I shrug, I don't know- I'll let you know then.

It's been helpful to start to shrug just about everything off, actually- get that dirt off your shoulder. And to fashion temporary solutions to more permanent problems.

Oh, and I won $5 today, betting my coworker that I wouldn't utter one word at a senior management meeting. You can tell I am really taking my job seriously in these final days. Drag my name all over the place, I don't care anymore.

Thanks to B, I amused myself with this quiz, and only got one wrong, because I rocked it like a hurricane, although that actually wound up disturbing me a little.

And AL's confirmed a ticket to Barcelona, so only half my trip will be solitude standing.

Also- listening to absurdly cheerful music. A big plus. But that's a story for Monday, even though I don't like Mondays, especially these days, since they arrive too fast and fail to last.

And as if that weren't enough, tonight there will be an impromptu blogger's convention, because- why not? Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go pick up an Angel of Harlem. Or maybe just of New York, but whatever, y'all know what I'm saying.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

leave it to memory me

Let me take a breath. Let me take a moment to tell you that I am not completely falling apart. Maybe I am falling apart, but I am keeping it together, long enough, just long enough. And times like this, I wonder how I'll fare elsewhere. Because here's the secret about this part of country.

You'll be driving east, and you will note how majestic, how hulking the Bay Bridge is, how it stretches on and on, so that you wonder if it really ever ends. And this time of year, you marvel at the vivid, technicolor green hills, the hills that so often appear burnt in dull yellows and browns. The green vibrance will shout gloriously at you. And as the sun sets, the green grows deeper, and the sky yawns, tiny pink clouds streaking the canvas, the moon smudged by some unseen thumb.

Or you will turn a corner in Nob Hill, and at an intersection, you'll see the blue sky gradually darkening. And that deep hue stands at the perfect contrast, the perfect backdrop for the sleek, jutting TransAmerica, towering in front of you, as the lights on the Bay Bridge behind it have just started to twinkle.

Or you might drive South and it might be any other day, but the absurd radio stations will regale you with The Jets and Michael Jackson. And as you drive past Monster Park, and the light dancing on the water, you won't be able to resist Prince tickling you.

Or you might even be driving to the Marina, heaven forbid, and you might just wind your way through the Presidio to get there. And on most days, the fragrance from the tall, swaying eucalyptus trees will waft into the car, even if your windows are closed.

Or maybe you're just driving home to your neighborhood, as you must do, every day. And just when you think it is the most mundane, routine life you find yourself in, you pass a car parked to your right, its exterior covered in leopard print fur or in Lego's or dotted with baby doll heads.

Or maybe you've walked out your door one cool Saturday morning. And you look up into the hills and the fog is slowly, ever so gradually descending over, nudging its way to you. And you walk up further, and you can feel the fog on your face.

The convenience store clerk gives you his friendly, acknowledging nod. You and the homeless man have your usual exchange. The crazy dude who plays wild guitar in tucked-away stoops no longer surprises you. The woman at the bodega gives you the price in Spanish.

Big things and little things and everything in between. And will I ever feel this way again about a time or a place, I wonder.

"You can't take a picture of this-
it's already gone."

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

so let's cut the conversation and get out for a bit

As is everything in my little sphere at the moment, the song this week arrives late. And actually, it's really late, because this song is definitely not in any kind of breaking news category. I picked it because I can be a bit of a contrarian sometimes, and therefore, despite lots of people enthusiastically nudging me to check her out, I'd been shying away from Winehouse. But then, I finally listened to Rehab on Sunday, and that was a big mistake. It was a big mistake because, probably, it's not the best idea to have a song with these lyrics pulsing through your head as you make your way in a full suit to a very important meeting. But that's just the twisted workings of my mind.

I have to be honest, though- I don't love it. It's catchy, but it's also somehow kitschy in a way that usually doesn't work for me. I much prefer Winehouse's You Know I'm No Good. Somehow, the soulfulness comes through more in that song, and even Winehouse's ridiculous 'Tude works better in it. Being belligerent about rehab doesn't really inspire me. On the other hand, rather unapologetically (and yet betraying just the slightest hint of remorse) declaring "I told you I was trouble, you know that I'm no good" is just the kind of understated whatever that ought to pop up in more songs.


A lot of my friends think the amount I bake is proportional to the amount of stress I am feeling, and if that's the case, I guess I am nearing a massive meltdown. Behold the havoc:
but don't forget, folks

Actually there's a consistent theme with the baked goods and the weekend- every well-intentioned thing kept resulting in fiasco. I thought I was laying low this weekend, but actually I was alternating between being social and baking, thereby circumventing any opportunities to be truly productive in any manner whatsoever. However, unlike the social fiascoes, the baking disasters were learning opportunities. The chocolate cream pies were an extensive experiment- I finally got over my fear and decided to try my hand at making pie crust from scratch. The pie crust part was probably okay, but the amount of time I baked the crust, not so much. So, even though the overall result was passable, the crust was undercooked and subsequently ruined the overall flavor. The bro-seph ate one and didn't notice the problem, but I think he was just distracted by the chocolate and cream components. The rest of them were thrown in the trash, but I've determined what I would try to further optimize the recipe in the future.

The blueberry muffins were not completely awful; they just weren't sweet enough. That was easy to remedy, by simply topping them with a glaze. The bro-seph has been consuming these with no complaints whatsoever, and I have been surprised at how well they keep. And it was quite necessary to have them turn out badly, because there is a brunch to be made on Saturday, and no such missteps will be tolerated for that.

I know this is not even vaguely interesting, but believe me, it's better to read my baking rants compared to my social rants. Lately, I have been feeling disappointed in myself and in others. I can kick my own a$$, but I lack the inclination and the energy to kick anyone else's a$$. This might make me easygoing in some ways, but it also makes me removed in others. I'm constantly correcting myself, constantly nudging myself back to self-containment, because I don't honestly believe there is anyone on this earth who I can ever really rely on. And I never really wanted to be the kind of person that believed something that sounds so fundamentally cynical. Yet I am exactly that person and I don't even view it as cynical. It's just a matter of fact, human nature, the laws of physics.

But then I find myself in an interesting conundrum, when pressure exerts itself on such a closed system. I fear I am going to implode, but I would not even know how to go about asking for help, how to poke a hole in my exterior. If anything, when I feel like this, I take everything onto my own shoulders even moreso, and positively arch at advice and helpful suggestions. Talk is cheap, and I don't even have time for questions right now, much less talk of what I should or shouldn't do, should or shouldn't feel. So, I turn inward and my porcupine quills stand on edge and I become very prickly indeed. I never wanted to be like this, and hopefully I won't remain in this state for very long.