Wednesday, June 27, 2007

because it's always been the same old scene

When I was a sophomore in college, my roommate (from New York City) divulged to me that she had never heard a single song by Van Halen. I thought maybe she just didn't recognize the band name, so I tried thinking of their most recognizable song, like Jump, and still, she stared at me blankly. Now look, I am not saying that DLR and company are part of some sort of musical canon, but I mean, come on, how had she gone through life never having heard a song by Van Halen?

See, to me, hickster from sticksville, I could not imagine how she'd managed to escape the fools. I grew up here in EBF, and so it does not seem at all strange to me that I know the words to a song by Pure Prairie League, and frankly, shut up, because you would too if you grew up in such a place.

And then I started thinking that perhaps this was one of those phenomenon that was pre-MTV, back-in-the-day and that nowadays kids in EBF are listening to Akon and the like. They certainly are listening to Akon. But you know, then I had to admit that, when I grew up in EBF, the whitest kids I have ever met in my life were donning parachute pants and putting down cardboard at recess to breakdance. I certainly didn't escape Madonna, Milli Vanilli, New Kids on the Block, or Duran Duran by virtue of living in Classic Rock County. But still, it was always in the background, almost a required listening- you had to know your AC/DC, your Meatloaf, your Allman Brothers, your Billy Joel.

I'm not saying all that Classic-ish Rock was good, but I think there is something good about knowing it exists. If for no other reason, so that I can roll my eyes at it and mutter, "not that song again" when I turn on my car radio here. I feel a little badly for my cousins who are much younger than me, who seem only to have been subjected to MTV music, rather than EBF music. Sure, they're hipper, but they have lost out in the whole EBF experience. Man, I can't believe I just felt sorry for them for that, of all things.

But that's what I thought. Here's what I forgot- the Clear Channel mafia has made such a mess of radio stations that, in places like EBF, if you turn on the pop stations (I think there are only two), you only get to hear three songs. From what I currently gather, these three songs are "Big Girls Don't Cry" (yes, that was the sound of me throwing up), "You Make Me Better" (I don't care who it's by, I could have probably tolerated it if I had only heard it once in an hour, instead of four times), and "Too Beautiful" by that awful Kingston character that really needs to be told to nut up. And yeah, sure, teeniacs are slaves to the popular, but you know what else teeniacs are? Wildly deficient in the whole attention-span area. So, if you're an easily bored kid trying to find some tunes, what are you going to do? Listen to some Freedom Rock (turn it up, dude!).

I would never have deduced this, of course, except that I was driving with my cousin S a few days ago, and while channel-surfing for an exasperating length of time, I stopped at a familiar song. Usually, I will not subject my cousin to such music, because I figure she will not recognize it and will develop that oh my god, you're like a 100 years old expression that she sometimes unleashes upon me. But there really was nothing else on the radio, and at first, predictably, S had no idea what it was when she heard:

you show us everything you've got
baby, baby, that's quite a lot
you drive us wild, we'll drive you crazy

She squinted her eyes at the stereo quizzically (as if somehow staring at the stereo was going to help her recognize the song), while I concluded that I really was 100 years old, in disbelief that she did not recognize the song. I turned my attention back to driving, but when the chorus came along, I almost swerved off the road, because S was suddenly pumping her fists, bouncing off her seat, playing air drums, and yelling (sadly, but comically, very, very off-key):

I wanna rock 'n roll all night and party every day!

So, it appears that at least one of my cousins bears the unfortunate stamp of EBF.

More coherent posts when the humidity stops paralyzing my brain.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

I could only be telling this story

the talks that we had are becoming a blur

In the end, I didn’t need pictures. All the places were gone- they moved Cornwall’s across the street and now it’s not a dive, the Rathskeller was torn down, the bagel shop where we used to study expanded and shifted into something sleek and cold, the place we argued over cups of frozen yogurt replaced by a luxury hotel. Nothing is the same. I am not the same and you are not the same. And it used to make me sad, the way the past is just toppled down in favor of the shiny and the new, the way the present is so foreign that it very nearly denies the existence of the past.

But then it is a beautiful day. And a beautiful day in this city is so beautiful that It makes your heart squeeze into a ball and forget every winter, every biting gust of wind that made your cheeks numb. And even though I pause and force myself to recall that every day is not like this, it does not detract from the happiness that passes through me- not a heat wave, but a cool breeze.

In so many ways, you gave me this city, however inadvertently. I didn’t know much about cities when we met. You showed up three hours tardy for our first date, which should have been the end of it. But it wasn’t the end of it, and we had dinner and talked until 3 in the morning. We lingered there under that overpass, talking about everything, talking about nothing, inventing anything to talk about to stretch out the night just a little longer.

We, of course, were doomed, never had a chance. But you imbued meaning in a dingy little patch of green, a stream of stale water, and a warm, humid night. And to think of it now, it all makes such precise sense. I’ll never be sorry that we were destined for failure, because I can see now that what I got instead was so much greater.


On the other hand:

In a perfect example of the multi-faceted nature of the urban environment, my cousin S and I were walking down Boylston Street on Sunday when a scruffy-looking hipster walked by. He was engrossed in conversation but all we heard him mutter, completely out of context, was: “I shouldn’t be allowed to reproduce.”

I turned to S and said, “I was supposed to marry that man.”

It is probably now evident why most of my cousins think I’m insane.

Monday, June 25, 2007

eyes that know me and I can't go back

It's in many ways unfair of me to post the song I'm putting up this week. See, just after I decided to take a break from the blog thang, I stumbled into a theater in San Francisco with a few hours to kill, and saw a movie that made me smile from ear to ear. There is really nothing to this film. It's not gut-wrenchingly deep, and there is something about it that is very, very small. But precious. And not precious as in too precious, but just precious in the way you want to hold it in your cupped hands and admire it.

The thing about Once is that I was not sold from the first frame. Yes, it draws you in immediately, and you have a lot of questions. You are curious about the characters. But I remained unsure until the scene when this song appears on screen like a present being delicately unwrapped. Then I found myself smiling from ear to ear. Really, there may be more music than dialogue in this film, and this is my kind of musical, or music video, or whatever you want to call it. I have already ruined the experience of watching it by posting this song, to some extent, because there is something a bit magical about discovering this song in the recesses of a dark theater. But I will not ruin the experience further by rambling on too much about why I thought the movie was so lovely. I am just glad I saw it when I had the chance, because it is definitely not playing anywhere in the vicinity of EBF.


So, obviously, I have not stopped blogging. I do not like the idea of being pushed out of it, of fleeing. If I go, I would like to leave of my own accord. Blogging is a 100% selfish activity, and I do not want to stay or leave for anyone but myself. It is boring to talk about why I feel I have to write. But I missed writing in this semi-organized manner for the brief time I held back. And though I have misgivings, and there are uncertainties about the future, I suppose that is always true. For now, there is still some garbage in my head with which I need to pollute the blogosphere. And though bloggers are dropping out in pandemic numbers this summer, one luminary is back showing everyone how it should be done. I find that inspiring.

And even though I love to proclaim to all the poor souls who do know about my blog that I never really expected anyone to read or comment, my nose would be going the way of Pinnochio's if I were to say that I was not touched by all the kind comments from the last post. I keep telling myself not to be influenced by them, because there are probably just as many people who drop by here, take a browse, roll their eyes and head along their merry way. But you know, I'm not made of stone, so of course, I melt all the same.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

but we know it to be quite contrary

A few (or realistically maybe one, at most) of you may have noted that I neglected to post a song last week. Sorry about that- I think staying with my parents and having my teeniac cousin singing along constantly to Akon and Avril Lavigne prevented me from really thinking about music.

Honestly, I’m not thinking about music right now either. I still posted a song, but it has more to do with my mood than some deep meaning this song holds for me. Not that it matters, since I never imposed rules on this frivolous song-posting.

I did set one rule for myself though, and that is what I am thinking about now. I have said to more than one person, and quite repeatedly to myself, that the day blogging is accompanied with trouble, that’s the day I call it a day. I am not sorry for what I have revealed to date- I think it was a natural progression of the blog. And maybe it’s just the natural progression of blogs that they start out in one way, that they build, and then they reach their inevitable conclusion. I don’t know.

But it has suddenly become clear that blogging has started teetering on trouble. So, I am taking a week away to think it over, to determine what I ought to do, and to think of how I can possibly move forward without trouble/drama ensuing.

Friday, June 15, 2007

book marking, she's so close now

A few random tidbits:
  • Someone on United has a subversive sense of humor. Do you know that time you spend in airplane purgatory, the time between when the plane lands and the doors open, when everyone is scrambling around trying to pry their overhead luggage out and crowding the aisles? Music playing in the background- Don't Stand So Close to Me. Don't tell me that's not pure brilliance.

  • Surprisingly, it is really weird to be back in California (for the weekend). It doesn't feel like home right now. Then again, no place feels like home right now.

  • I have to find a place to live this weekend. This is freaking me out because I do not know anything about the area where I need to live, I don't know anyone who can give me a tip or two about where I ought to live, and it has been at least ten years since I have had to make a decision on a place with such little time to ponder. I need to get better at making snappy decisions, though, so perhaps it will be therapeutic. I just have this bad feeling I am going to wind up living in a van down by the river, if you know what I mean.

And that's about it. Oh, I started reading The Falling Man on the airplane today. I am not sure that was wise. I have been really ripping through books though, so at least this speaks well to my brain starting to come out of the fog it has been in for the past month or so.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

what separates me from you

Thanks to A auntie, I discovered something fantastic about being unemployed and without urgent demands. Two nights ago, after we had dinner with her, I was getting out of her car, and she asked me, in that critical, practical, emotionless voice of hers, "What are you reading these days?" When I admitted I was currently without reading material (I was wise enough not to try to make the excuse of catching up on blog-perusing), she took a book from the armrest and handed it to me.

"Have you read it?" I asked her. She nodded. "Did you like it?" I prodded, because she offered up nothing.

She was still resistant. "It's set completely in India," was her only response. She eyed me for a moment, to see if I still wanted it. I took it, and started reading the cover. I was a bit concerned. Something about it reminded me of the plot summary of Khalid Hosseini's new novel, and he, frankly, annoys me.

This is how A auntie is, though. She doesn't discount your opinion, and she doesn't assert hers. She wanted me to draw my own conclusions, to enter the story without bias. And last night, thanks to this book, I suddenly discovered the great thing about being stuck in EBF. I covered 50 pages of it in the morning, and then last night, I nearly pulled an all-nighter finishing it.

The book was The Space Between Us by Thrity Umrigar. I'm surprised there hasn't been that much buzz about the book amongst the usual suspects. I still haven't been able to make a significant dent into Inheritance of Loss, and while I'll admit that the first few chapters of Umrigar's book were not immediately engaging, it quickly built to an interesting place. And, strangely enough, strangely because I have never lived in India, the book felt quite authentic to me.

The story revolves around a middle/upper-class woman and her servant. This, of course, could have set the stage for overwrought drama. And mind you, there are some plot twists and turns that may be a bit indulgent. But yet, there is something so accurate about the way this whole idea is captured, this whole idea of someone coming to your house, working beside you every day, how they are an important part of your daily existence, how they are even sometimes considered to be like part of your family, but how there is always a line that divides you that will never be crossed. There is something so accurate about how these boundaries exist and appear to be blurred but are never really crossed that any shortcomings in the novel seem forgivable.

I guess I am big on the idea of these barriers lately. Whether it has to do with not relating, or unspoken rules regarding class, or chasms based on history, or fear, it just feels like there are so many lines drawn between everyone. And I wish I was better at being the one to try to bridge the divide. I wish I was better at being the one that reached out and forgave. It disturbs me that I wish that, because I used to be that person. But when I was that person, I just felt, over and over again, like I was being a pushover. I was annoyed with myself, that I'd spend time complaining about people when it was clear I had given them more chances than they deserved. I no longer found it romantic to be the doormat, to be the selfless, forgiving one. I feel so much stronger now that I do not let people run me over. But I question whether I actually am stronger- because letting the past go and finding ruins to salvage require a lot of strength, perhaps more than I ultimately possess.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

some say it's unconditional, other people just remain in doubt

I wished she had been on my side all those years ago. It was a line in the sand, a line that came between us. The line said, "I'm with the old, you're with the new." The line said, "I know you because of your mother, not vice versa." The line said, "I'm here, you're there." The line separated us permanently, could never be mended. The one adult, the one person of that generation who I thought could really see me- she had, in fact, a sizable and uncorrectable blind spot.

It was no more her fault than it was mine. She knew me to be strong and she wanted me to be the daughter my mother needed. I had not seen her for some years when we had that mess of a conversation in her kitchen. So it was impossible for her to know of the turmoil in my own life. With only a glimpse, how could she see that my life was spiraling downward, that I had felt I had taken one wrong turn on a brief vacation and wound up stranded on a dead-end road with no hope of rescue? I needed to talk to her about that, in retrospect, but how could she have known? Instead, she had given me a lecture at an inopportune moment, and I had been crushed that she so misunderstood me.

It wasn't just that. It was that I was drowning. I was drowning, but since she hadn't seen me sinking, she had chosen just the wrong moment to ask me to carry more water, to take on other people's burdens. I'd felt such heavy weights would surely kill a girl barely treading water. But she only saw my head at the surface, not my legs kicking furiously below.

I wished I had been able to tell her that, that I was drowning, that now was a time for life preservers. But I didn't speak. The words choked my throat and were garbled at best anyway. I couldn't explain myself, so it seemed futile to try to make her understand me.

That is what I regret now, in a different time, in this time when, for a split second, all is set right. I regret that now, because I cannot hug her excitedly and babble about my happiness. Oh, to be sure, she is glad for me, she is nothing but encouraging. But we don't have the conversations we used to have, the stolen ones when we'd both had enough of all the idle gossiping at a dinner party. She would grab me by the arm and in a quiet corner, we'd talk conspiratorially about life.

There are echoes of it every so often. She'll still turn to me at a dinner table to have a private conversation, still sigh with exasperation when my father interrupts to bring the conversation back to him. But the echoes, in some way, just make the absence, the void more acutely felt.

Monday, June 11, 2007

when the winds of changes shift

To get to the Rhein turned out to be an ordeal. W stayed up late the night before, carefully planning out the schedule to get there. But poor little F threw up from motionsickness on the bus, understandably altering the plan. A train, an ill-fated bus ride, a stop in Eltville to buy F a shirt, and another train brought us to Rudesheim. There we had lunch, and walked around town to pass the time. Both children fell asleep. W & K seized upon the rarity of a simultaneous nap to stop for apfelstrudel, and excitedly chatted about films and politics, things they clearly do not get to discuss when the family is in full effect.

Just as the children woke, it was time to get onto the boat. A light rain was falling just as we boarded. As we walked with the horde of passengers, K burst out, “We forgot to put the champagne in the refrigerator.” W & K regarded each other, having some sort of telepathic conversation of which only couples seem capable. K shrugged and said, “I guess we’ll just have to have some on the boat.”

I paid them no mind, thinking it was all a joke. I knew K was partial to champagne, but it was three o’clock in the afternoon and we did not really have anything to celebrate. But we sat at a table, and while I tried to fend off F’s attempts to dismantle my camera, W ordered something in German.

Sure enough, a bottle of ever-so-slightly-pink champagne was produced. I very nearly rolled my eyes, seeing that W had gotten a mischievous twinkle in his eyes. I thought them silly for a moment, that they’d made this big fuss to make some cheesy toast about who-only-knew-what. W said, “So…” with his long windup. “Besides most of her teeth, there is something else S doesn’t have yet. A godmother.”

K smiled knowingly. S even smiled widely, though she certainly had no idea why she was smiling. W’s eyes were slightly red and misty. My brain had shut off. My stomach had flipped a few times. My jaw dropped. A godmother? They all stared at me. I stared back in disbelief, and blurted out, “You have got to be kidding me.”

The couple switched sides. K, who had maintained a serene cool suddenly grew alarmed, undoubtedly wondering if this good-for-nothing was actually going to pull an About a Boy and decline their offer. W, who knew me better, grinned at my outburst. After that, I switched into automatic pilot. I accepted, I thanked them, I told them it was an honor. I was saying the things that I thought that I meant.

But I didn’t know if I meant them. I didn’t know what any of it meant. A godmother, such a foreign concept. W & K are not particularly religious, and I am not Christian, so obviously religious instruction was not part of my responsibility. I knew that godparents used to be charged with taking care of a child in the event of being orphaned. Though that was a morbid thought, K quickly neutralized that notion by assuring me, “It just means that you’re someone she can talk to, you know?”

So I thought, cynically as is my default manner, that this whole production was a kind of ceremonial thing, well-meant but not all that significant. It did not carry that much weight, that much responsibility, and that relieved me. But W interjected quietly, “Uncle Joe was my godfather.” K fell silent. Even I knew about Uncle Joe, a wild sort of man, who used to storm into town every so often and take W out for dinner. W used to talk about him all the time, and I remembered distinctly the email W had written after attending Uncle Joe’s funeral.

I didn’t know what to make of it all, so I chose to make nothing of it. Sometimes, when your heart is given too much to bear, your heart will opt to ignore it, make light of it, anything to lessen the impact. I spent the rest of the afternoon letting F grab my hand and pull me up to the top of the boat to inspect the surroundings. At two and a half, F wasn’t about to open a discussion on godparenting.

Two days later, W & I were taking the train to the airport, talking about my plans in Spain and how excited I was. Out of nowhere, the meaning suddenly became clear. I live in a temporary state. I have friends, I am not often alone, but I have no expectation that I’ll have those friends forever, that circumstance will not pull us apart. Family is permanent, but they are bound to me as much by obligation than anything else. It is the state of my life and I have accepted it, that people will come and go, that I’ll be close to them and grow apart. It doesn’t bother me these days. Yet, here were two of the most elusive friends in my life, essentially grabbing me by the hand and saying, “this right here is forever.”

And that’s what I, in turn, have to offer S. I don’t have great wisdom to impart. I’m not even certain I can shower her with great luxuries or spoil her rotten. But I do have unconditional, forever to give her. In a puddle of joyful tears in the Frankfurt airport, that is what I realized.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

a hypothetical destination

Hmmm. Perhaps EBF has changed. Or something. I thought the buzz or high or halo of Spain would last for a long time after my return stateside, but instead I was kvetching about life in EBF within two days of getting back. And yet, Spain is still on my mind. Someone will ask me a question about it, and I immediately get speechless and sigh. Or I launch into a lecture about food in Spain. I didn't realize how obsessed I got with Spanish eating patterns, but I've found myself talking about it with tiresome specificity. I don't think it's really about the eating so much as what the eating says about the culture. It might have, of course, just been because I was on vacation, but eating was such a form of relaxation in Spain. And I don't mean the way eating a good piece of chocolate soothes a craving. I don't even know what I mean.

Anyway, the other thing that has suddenly become clear about Spain, something which I miss in periodic bursts, is how much everyone walks everywhere. Yes, the Metro is fab and all, but really, I spent a lot of time, every place I went, walking. I must have walked an average of five hours a day, at a minimum. And probably anyone who lives in New York is currently sniffing, "BFD." But that's exactly my point. I'm not in New York, I'm in podunkville. Nothing is in walking distance. My cousin, who lives less than 0.25 miles away, still bemoans that she cannot visit because she "doesn't have a car." I find it jarring. Spain heightened the feeling, but it was obviously not just Spain. Whenever possible in San Francisco, I walked to places.

And so the restlessness seized me and, as if I was sleepwalking, I just left the house and did not come back for two hours. I walked and walked, and never really got anywhere, but kept walking. That's what walking is in EBF, unproductive, simply a pasttime. It's not as satisfying as walking in cities, where you have a purpose, and you have a bag of groceries in your arms to prove it. But it's still better than driving around town, wasting precious gas.

As I was walking around, I realized that I used to do this even as an adolescent. Once I went for a walk after a heated argument with my father, and my mother ran after me because she thought I was running away from home. But I was always just taking off for these walks, these singular, undisturbed strolls.

So I was surprised that someone driving by today honked their horn, rolled down their window, and whistled at me. This grew more hilarious and surreal when I stopped to see that the someone was driving a minivan. A minivan, y'all. I'm guessing it was either some 17-year old punk or some totally sleazy, creepster father of four. Either way, it was something that had never happened to me in EBF before.

And then it happened again a few blocks from my house, this time with some punk in a crappy old sportscar. EBF, quite confounding.

In other news, I love how I was supposed to be catching up with old friends in this time and instead my family has sucked me into a black hole of visitations. Yet another cousin is flying into town tomorrow night. And while I would like to complain about that, he's such a little sweetheart that it's impossible to be at all peeved. When a dude says, "I'm only coming to visit because I want to see you and hear all about your trip and really hang out with you," it is hard not to melt into a little puddle of goo. Of course, when that same dude also adds, "Plus now I'm 21 so you totally don't have to hold back anymore, how awesome is that?" it is hard not to have a panic attack about the expectations for putting the party hat on this weekend. I don't know how I feel about having a beer with someone whose diapers I used to change, but just typing that sentence squicked me out a bit.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

for I'm not my former

Yeah, so actually, I lied and I am not going to write about that baby from my travels, and that story will just have to wait for another day. Actually, I am no good at a cliffhanger. Actually, I think cliffhangers suck anyway. If you already know what you have to say, it's probably wise to just say it, rather than build up anticipation that always ends in a whimper rather than a bang. And if you don't know what you have to say, there is no guarantee you will be able to figure it out by the next day, even if you set a false deadline for yourself.

Anyway, I talked to RR today and he filled me in on everything I am missing at work. And let me tell you, his little status report did nothing to sway me from my current plans. There are entertaining stories from that world, and certainly entertaining people (Y'all may recall a certain KL? Apparently, she fell off the 'crack is whack' wagon at a conference this past week.). But I haven't felt once the slightest pang of regret that I quit that job.

RR also gave me a lecture about how I need to get my a$$ back to California post-haste to find an apartment, as he has decided I am cutting it far too close. I feel like I have been getting a lot of unsolicited advice lately, and I wonder if I am somehow putting that damsel in distress vibe out there. If so, I want to know, because I didn't even know I was capable of that vibe. And it would be good to know, so that maybe I could reproduce that vibe at some later date, like some occasion where Clive Owen happened to be passing by me on the street, for example.

I was the first masi to hold D this afternoon. The other masis are even more remiss in meeting him than I am, so at least I've got that going for me. Before I went over, I baked chocolate chip cookies. Since I've forbidden myself from buying any additional baking products, I improvised today, using honey and raw cane sugar instead of brown sugar. I think they turned out okay, because when I got home tonight, there was only one cookie left from the dozen I'd kept out for the parents.

It's weird though, still, being in this part of the country. I drove about an hour to visit my cousin and her baby D. My cousin, it just so happens, now lives in the same town where W grew up. When I was in college, one year during some break, W suggested I come down to grab dinner. It was a bit of a disaster. I wound up totally turned around, lost, and (yes, I am this old) this was before the days of cell phones, so panic settled in more easily. I had such trouble finding my way around his town that I wound up crashing at his house that night, rather than try to find my way back in the dark. This decision got us both in trouble. His dad poked his head in a couple of times that night to make sure I was the only guest in the guest bedroom. My mother was infuriated that I had spent the night at a boy's place, and she was deaf to any facts beyond that key one.

I was so young then, to think of it. To think I was too nervous to drive home. It's almost a foreign concept at this point. What was there to fear? Back then, I never found my way around. I was given carefully scripted directions, and I was adept at following them precisely. But following a map, plotting my own course, these ideas were not only unfamiliar but also quite unwelcome. And writing that last sentence is so jarring, because it's such a far cry from how I feel about things today. But that was who I was.

And it's just odd, because I wonder if I'll ever just be someone. Because right now, it's like I keep turning into someone else. When I got to my cousin's house, she offered me a Smirnoff Ice, because, as she put it, "I remembered that you like them." Really? When was that, back when she was buying me alcohol because I was under-age? But she wasn't wrong. There was an embarassing period of time in New Jersey when I was consuming unwise quantities of Smirnoff Ice, no doubt. Even though that seems absurd to me now, I just can't help considering whether I'll be eyeing someone strangely in five years when they hand me a Grey Goose & Tonic for the same reason. Sure, I am no longer ignorantly hoping for the world to remain static. But I wonder if the dynamic equilibrium will ever be reached. And will I ever settle on just being something, one thing, and stop trying to be something, anything else?

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

to the left, to the left

Today marked a week since I returned from Spain, and that was exactly as long as I was allowing myself to wallow about being unproductive. Not only was I being unproductive but also quite passive. The responses "whatever," "I don't care," and "okay" have been uttered with alarming frequency. I have been hanging back and waiting for other people to clarify plans instead of laying any down myself.

It was fun for a bit, but today I almost blamed a cousin's dynamic schedule on my lack of clear plans over the next month. And that's when I knew that the grace period had officially expired. I don't know when the exact turning point was, because at one point I was really indulgent in this regard, but nowadays whenever I even hear myself sounding out the vaguest hint of victimhood, the gag reflex kicks in.

Truthfully, I think it's just such a turn of events, this return to the other coast, that I groan at the thought of all the logistics. Plan a trip to scout out a place to live, get all my belongings moved back out, fill out the countless annoying forms. It is nothing to whine about really, because it is just reality. These are the times when I feel most like asking myself if I have really matured at all in the last fifteen years, because I just want someone else to do all of this for me.

But that, of course, is a lie. It's just momentary, a temporary longing for a dependency that, if acquired, would turn me into a raving mad lunatic. So really I need to just stop being an idiot, and get down to business. Which I will do tomorrow, because a week was just enough post-vacation inertia.

I have also been a bit inundated with family of late. This past weekend, my cousin B visited all last-minute like and I had to drive her at bizarre hours to and from an airport located an hour away. And while I would like to complain about how I got saddled with that duty, that too would be a bit too self-indulgent because, hi, I'm the unemployed one with no current pressing engagements who is over two decades younger than the other responsible adults in the hizzy. Also, as it turns out, B is on a break with some beau, and thus I got a nice helping of angst-venting from her over the weekend. We commiserated on our family's terrible, historical inability at getting over the heart shizz.

We also baked cupcakes for my other cousin S. Actually, I baked them, while B sat at the kitchen table, remarking that it would have been way easier, duh if I had just bought frosting from a can. Don't worry, I got some manual labor out of her nonetheless, as I made her frost half the cupcakes. They were flavored with white chocolate and the frosting was chocolate buttercream. They came out alright, but it's weird how just being in a different kitchen plays a subtle impact in how everything turns out. Baking can be a little finicky that way, and in that way makes me even more heartsick for my own kitchen.

Tomorrow, I'm visiting my cousin J, who I haven't seen in three years. She has a baby. There has been a lot of baby-visiting happening, and I don't know how much more of it I have in me- my exposure to these small fries, I now realize, was rather scant in California. Last week, I had to hold a baby with a misshapen head and pretend he was precious. Then, I had to amuse three 2-year old triplets, which was actually less difficult than pretending the conehead kid was cute. I also have to write an entire post about another baby I encountered in my travels, but that is a story for tomorrow. Wow, this whole wtf cliffhanger thing comes a little too naturally to me these days.

Monday, June 04, 2007

this very secret that you're trying to conceal

Technically, it’s still Monday, y’all. Sorry, I know I have no excuse for not interrupting my busy day of eating junk food, catching up on a bunch of episodes of Lost that I missed while traveling (damn, JJ, thanks a lot for finally getting it together and turning out some good television when I am out of the country). It’s been raining all day, the EBF dreary kind of rain, the sort that gives you a chill that just won’t be chased away. I woke up with a headache that I kept thinking would go away, but it keeps returning.

I’ve realized, though, that it just returns because I’m sort of paralyzed at the moment. There’s a growing list of things I must do in the next month, but I seem to have trouble making anything happen, because EBF keeps sinking me into this weird rut of blah. And it’s exactly that feeling of blah that has kept me from writing a post today, when I promised I would write about The Goal.

So it turns out that I might be just letting it out there about The Goal today, sans navel-gazing, sans suitable explanation, sans the many steps or reasons that brought me to where I am now headed. Most of your guesses were far, far cooler than reality.

I love getting comments, but I am a bit of a private person. I am constantly paranoid that someone is going to inadvertently find my blog, someone that is not supposed to, and somehow my secrets will be out. And I sort of feel that there is an unspoken rule with blogging- that you blog as much or as little as you want to, in terms of detail, and that we all have to resist the urge not to poke at the specifics.

But on the other hand, it’s also silly to be coy. What’s more is that I think I’ve been hesitant about letting The Goal out because it really is not cool, not at all. It means something, it means very much to me, but the chances of it holding meaning for anyone else are pretty low. And I worry that you will all know what an awkward nerd I am. Oh, also, an awkward, unoriginal nerd, no less. But the thing is, once I realized that was what was silencing me, I realized it was time to cowboy up. Because let’s face it- y’all already know that I am an awkward, unoriginal nerd.

So, with all that wind-up, all that stalling for time, here’s the plain truth. I have left the life I had spent ten years building, the life of a corporate stiff, a life I had never intentionally built, a life that sort of just happened to me. And I have left it so that I can begin, in a very short time, hemorrhaging all the money I have saved at the expense of tuition for none other than that most stereotypical of Indian undertakings, medical school.

I like to kid myself that I am somehow different, because I really did love chemistry in college. I really did want to be an organic chemistry professor, and I probably could have lived out my days that way. But fate had other plans. And it’s hard to explain, on a day like this, marooned in EBF, how and why I came to the decision to go to medical school (especially as someone who could potentially qualify for a senior citizen discount). It’s hard to feel that there’s anything special about it, even. And that’s fine, at the moment.

As anyone who has been through the grand fun of applying to schools knows, you have to become quite comfortable with uncertainty. Will you or won’t you becomes the deliberation whenever your mind is allowed to roam free. People’s anxious questions have to be swallowed as well-intentioned even as you seethe at the salt poured on open wounds. But, you know, I’m being stupidly dramatic at the moment.

It meant a lot to me when I found out I got in somewhere. But right away, my restless brain was starting to calculate the probabilities of where I might find myself. The amusing thing, to me, if you happen to go back to that post, is that all my predictions were hilariously off. I guess I should watch out for pesky statistics or heavy mathematics.

The unthinkable happened. I posted back then that there was a 1% chance I would be remaining in California. And until very recently, I had made my peace with leaving California indefinitely. But as it turns out, California, here we come, right back where we started from. I won’t be coming back to San Francisco, of course. And, believe it or not, the decision to move back to California was actually a difficult one. But I am going, going, back, back to Cali (that one’s on tamasha).

Phew. That was a lot more direct and specific than anything I have written for a while. Tomorrow, I’ll return to foolish vagueness, frustrating ambiguity. But for now, I have bared this to you, and now I will brace for the judgment, silent or otherwise.


In other news, I love the song of the week this week. I mean, I love all of them, but I’ve held off posting this one for a few weeks to let it fully seap into every fiber of me first. It should be noted that I have been playing the album Robbers & Cowards non-stop ever since I got my hands on it in a fit of EBF ennui. I love almost every song on the album, but this one caught me and pulled me in immediately from the very first, banging piano chords. It’s sad and angry while pulsing with vitality and just generally rocking. In some ways, I think it captures so much of what war means, what suffering really feels like. All of that makes it sound like such a sad, morose song, and yet that’s not at all what it is. Do me a favor and check this one out. I swear I don’t just love it because it has the word ‘Hospital’ in it.

Friday, June 01, 2007

well I never got home, but I did what I did

Hey y'all. This one will be short, but I am going to get on a more regular blogging schedule next week, savvy? (and no, I have not and will not see the last installment of the POTC series, even though my lurve for Johnny Depp burns eternal).

I have made some decisions in the past twelve hours. This morning, I had a mini-meltdown, because I was feeling all of the same feelings I felt when I was an adolescent and stifled by the way my mother's personality directly poses a major problem to mine. Then I realized that I don't have to stay here, and I didn't have to come here, and that I don't have to get upset. Instead, what I have to do is channel this shizz into something useful. And I am not just talking about baking until the house goes up in flames. I mean, I am still going to bake, until someone plainly states that I must stop. But I also have lots of other things to do. I know how to get it back to good, and I don't know why there was a temporary reversion to the ignorance of adolescence. But enough.

Freedom was sort of forgotten, and would have remained forgotten, had it not been for last night. Yesterday afternoon, AL called me when I was in the throes of wtf am I doing in EBF, I spent my whole life trying to get out of this craphole and matter-of-factly suggested I meet up with him and some university buddies for dinner. At first I shooed this off as an impracticality, as it was an hour away, and these university buddies are minor acquaintainces of mine, not close friends.

But then I stopped myself, because I realized I was creating a way for myself to wallow in self-pity. So, I agreed to meet AL and company. And the drive up was lovely, lush and green, and it didn't seem so strange suddenly for a girl from EBF to love the line Green, how I want you green. I was reminded of the one thing that I loved about growing up here, the beauty that stares you in the face at the simplest moments. And I got to EBF++, was offered a Miller High Life, and said, "I'm all about the champagne of beers."

To which, the minor acquaintaince responded, "Who wouldn't be?"

And it was just for that moment that I knew, this is where I was from. Once upon a time, but there's the evidence, these simple little exchanges, words that might never have come out of my mouth in San Francisco, but words I had uttered and meant many times before. I knew this language, I knew how to fall into an easy rhythm. I didn't feel out of place even though I was, I am, very much so.

So this morning, upon having the mini-meltdown, I concluded, look, EBF has played its part, but you need not be traumatized by the parts you did not like, not anymore. I was kind of in a rage this morning, thinking I had come here to relax and that my ways of finding comfort were slowly being taken away from me, one by one. But then I decided not to be a pansy-a$$ victim.

And so it will all be fine and maybe even interesting. And there will be some escapes to other parts of the Northeast Corridor. Because this time is precious and I am done wasting it.

So, I know this post probably makes no sense, but then again, that is probably par for the course these days. However, I will relate the other part of the decisions made in the past twelve hours. I type this while holding my breath because I remain a bit ambivalent about whether I am choosing wisely. However, I have decided to stop playing coy and come clean. A lot of you already know anyway, but I have decided it's time to just explain the whole The Goal thang. Furthermore, for those of you that know what that is all about, there's still more I'm going to put out there. I've told you I moved out of San Francisco, but it's time (mostly because I've finally decided and it has finally become clear) to also discuss where it is I will be moving to in a brief bit of time.

You know... just so you'll maybe tune in on Monday.