Wednesday, March 25, 2009

shelter from the storm

When this is over, I will:
  • wash my hair
  • and then get it cut- it just dawned on me yesterday that it has been nearly 6 months.
  • get my car fixed up- that, I’ve put off for nearly a year.
  • go to San Francisco for no reason whatsoever, and isn’t that the perfect reason to go to San Francisco.
  • bake. A lot. This is, of course, assuming that when this is all over there are still a few days before the scorching heat of summer hits these parts. Otherwise, there is going to be a whole lot of ice-cream & sorbet making instead.
  • go to a concert.
  • visit Costa Rica.
  • buy some clothes that are not jeans or workout gear. I’m not really looking forward to having to look presentable again but it was probably about time.
  • send some apologies, assuming there is anyone left who might accept them.
  • laugh until I cry, and then cry until I laugh.
  • reunite with my good friend, Mr. Goose, first name Grey. That really ought to be at the top of the list.

Or so I like to tell myself. In all actuality, I'll probably just want to curl into a ball and be comatose for a few days when this is all over. Of course, I don't really know what I'm going on about, since this will never, technically, be over.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


I love when you rediscover a song, and it reminds you of the good in all the bad. Lost to oblivion, almost completely forgot about this song by the Smashing Pumpkins. Corgan is such a windbag these days, and all that ‘bullet with butterfly’ business pretty much soured me towards him some years back.

What I’d forgotten, but what I’m glad I had done, is that I locked away Gish and Siamese Dreams (and yes, it freaks me out that 'Today' is now used in car commercials, but it was far from the best song on the album anyway). They are in a separate little safe place, with all the other things that need to be protected from the future. Michael Jackson in his prime, Joshua Tree and War, old Soundgarden, Prince before he became punctuation/symbol, Police before Sting went off the drugs. They’re all there, all my friends, all my memories, all the precious little crystallizations of perfection.

maybe you shouldn’t care
throw away those dreams and dare

You might look at it as sad. These guys had so much promise, and now Corgan is running around advocating for Clear Channel and other such unforgivable matters. Cornell is singing horrible songs produced by Timbaland. But I don’t know. Today, I don’t think of it as sad. I just think of it as lovely. A good song is a good song. The past and the future should not touch it. It should be the encapsulation of a moment, and a moment should be independent, should stand on its own.

If I could make life fit into those same parameters, I suspect I would be a much happier person.

Monday, March 23, 2009

nobody's listening

This is starting to feel futile. The song says ‘my patience still remains,’ but in fact I lack patience, always have. I was the kind of kid that got really good at the things I was already kind of good at: if it was hard, no thanks, moving on. It was easy to just conclude I should focus my efforts elsewhere because at that age there was still promise, there were still things I thought I was good at.

Then you get older and you push too hard, go too far, and realize that every part of you has it limits. You always fall short. You never measure up. It's physics, it's science, it's math, and it's poetry, it's the classics. You should know this by now.

And me, when I feel like this, I get tired of trying. A month ago, it all held such possibility. This is why I could never be a marathon-runner. I get this far along and just wonder what the point is anymore.

My legs feel like rubber, and my head hurts- it actually feels strained. I don’t want to think anymore. If I think anymore, I’ll start thinking and then everything will go to hell.

I want to say this is all meaningless. I want to say none of this defines me. I want to say none of it matters. It’s just a hoop, you jump through it, you move on. I want to be that zen. But it would be a lie, is the problem.

Friday, March 20, 2009

just can't get enough

K was the most conventional girl in the universe outwardly, but we kids from EBF, you have to watch out for us. For no reason or rhyme, a lot of us have dark eye-liner pasts. D too was a cliché in so many ways, but he would probably fight you to the death if you called him that. Reluctant yuppies if you will. Their wedding was meant to be a standard affair, a standard outdoor wedding with the standard blazing orange, red and purple leaves of a New England autumn as their backdrop, picture perfect, as it had been many times before them, I’m sure.

That’s the thing about growing up in EBF. You have to look closely to find the cracks in the mask. We all have them. I was at the bar. K’s brother was remarking that a Vanilla Stoli in Coca Cola tasted like frosting (for the record, it did), while I had already finished my second drink. AL was ready for prime time; despite the presence of his mother and sister, kid was already getting ready to order shots, and we had to talk him down. Just a standard bunch of soon-to-be-drunk wedding guests leaning against the open bar getting sloshed. The whole thing could have seemed so bland and predictable and dull. Maybe that’s why we had taken to drinking immediately.

The cake came out, and we smiled patiently. K looked over at us, and there was a little knowing flash in her eyes. Just a tiny bit of subversion. Have you ever really watched a cake cutting? I felt compelled to pay attention that time because there weren’t that many people at this wedding, and the bride’s brother was nearby. If there is actually music for this part of the ceremony, it’s usually super cheeseball. It’s usually something like the cheesy first dance, something somber, something some American Idol contestant will be covering someday. But as we turned to watch them, out came the unmistakeable synthpop, bubbly, smile-inducing- when I’m with you baby, I go out of my head, I just can’t get enough, I just can’t get enough.

That’s life. Not that many of us can pull off being hipsters. Some of us have to pay the rent, or the mortgage. We have to wash our hair and look presentable at work. We have to keep our jobs. We have to play along. I say that as someone who doesn’t have a mortgage, hasn’t had a job for two years, hasn’t washed her hair in two days (don't judge!), and has been alternating between wearing sweatpants and scrubs for the past week. But I’ll probably go back to being a working class stiff soon enough.

Just look a little closely, though. There’s a little mischief in there. There’s a little something to appreciate. It would be so easy to think of K as boring if you wanted to, but she wasn’t really. Nobody who plays Depeche Mode while cutting their wedding cake really can be. And in some ways, that made her a lot more interesting than a hipster, come to think of it.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

mistaken for strangers

I don’t want to be known, and I don’t want to know you. Names are not necessary. I just want to shed a little light, maybe a glow, but leave the stage dark. You can show me whatever you want too. Just show me a piece. Leave out the parts you don’t want seen.

You don’t have to find the right words, and neither do I. We can just speak into the void. We can let the darkness swallow the things we did not mean to say whole, never to be heard again.

When we part, you won’t remember me and I won’t remember you. You won’t know for sure if I ever really existed. I didn’t. We didn’t. We are a figment. We are the fractured mirror, the sliver left in which you can see a reflection- but a distorted fragment. If you saw me, you wouldn’t recognize me, and I wouldn’t recognize you.

That’s what we want, and that’s what we got. We never mean to pry, we never mean to push it too far. And so we float, float above the world, or away from the world with this weightlessness. Eventually, you might need a little gravity. Eventually, curiosity might get the best of me. I ask a question, or you ask a question, and the pinprick deflates the balloon. Down we fall to the ground in the light of day, two strangers. It doesn’t look so good from down here.

So we part, in search of the night and shadows, places we can hide, places where others congregate in the darkness and inevitably offer you a light to start it up all over again.

Monday, March 16, 2009

use somebody

(Disclaimer: another installment of five minute free-form babble.)


The feelings should not have been the same, but they were.

Warm September, end of the evening, he tried to plan it out just right. It was so late, all the trains had stopped running. I’ll never be that naive since then, because I’ll never be that girl again. When I think back on it- how could he have resisted anyway? I held onto every last word he spoke as if it was dripping with the secrets of the universe.

A cab was pulling up, and he was sure he had flagged it. So he made his move, and then tried to jump into the cab. Except that this was Boston. So the taxi went on its way, and he sheepishly said goodnight, a bit disappointed. He always wanted to construct movie scenes, it seemed.

But it didn’t matter- I remember listening to my heart racing that night, the breathlessness, the everything that was that moment and how it overwhelmed me.

Foggy November. Get off the BART, always in my own head. But I was always fond of the chilly walk. In the classroom that night, we had a big exam. This is the class, this was the spark. I knew what I wanted, but this class made me remember that there is what you want and then there is what wants you, what swallows you whole. There are goals and then there is the heartbeat underneath, the pulse that pounds when you have found your rhythm in something outside yourself.

It was not necessarily because of wondrous teaching skills, though his teaching skills were quite good. But it didn’t matter. It never has. It has never mattered to me in that regard- if you were there, if you bore witness, you get full credit. I’d rather believe everyone was instrumental than leave it to random, blind chance.

So when the instructor said what he said, I might as well have been a teenager all over again. An innocent little playful comment. I didn’t really even deserve it, and don’t worry, my head only swelled for a second.

But oh, the feeling was so much the same. The fluttering, the breathlessness, the excitement, the promise of things to come, all so familiar. There are all kinds of mutations of love and lust and crushes in this world. And sometimes, for all their different incarnations, what is underneath is exactly the same.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

black swan

(Disclaimer: remember, this is just a 10-minute stretch.)


Here’s the conversation, the way it played in my head:

Salvador Dali said, “Take me, I am the drug; take me, I am the hallucinogen.”

To which, Joni Mitchell replied, “I could drink a case of you, darling, and I would still be on my feet, I would still be on my feet.”

A game of chicken, a gauntlet of dares. Which one are you- the drug or the drugged? Which one do you want to be? Do you want to be the spoon or the force that bent it?

Oh these are not healthy thoughts, not at all. Who boasts about melting clocks? You want to be the cause of pinpoint pupils. You want to overtake their brain, shut it down, make them shake.

But then again, who brags about their capacity for heartbreak? You’ll be sorry in the dead of the night when you can’t sleep, when your hair stands on end, when your stomach squeezes into a globe like the world you threw away in your pursuit of the edge. You wanted to see how far you could take it, but you won’t ever be the same.

Yes, yes, that’s what we learn in the books. All those things. All those facts. But what about this fact: put a moth and a flame together, and the moth will get burned, and the fire won’t feel sorry.

Thursday, March 12, 2009


Disclaimer: explanation for the choppy, 10-minute bursts of indecipherable babble here.


The bug got me, infiltrated me but good, put me in my place.

I feel like a Radiohead song today. Even though it’s sunny outside, I feel like the fog of those entrancing San Francisco evenings. I feel like feeling a little sorry for myself.

But I don’t have that luxury, so instead I get a Radiohead song. When I was younger, I used to sit on a stoop with S. He’d bring over a pack of cloves, and we would smoke one or two while looking up at the stars (I know it was extremely foolish, forgive me for my youthful need to behave like a beatnik). He let me stew, we never really talked. It was like being alone, but more lonely, because it was almost like an acknowledgment that there was every reason to feel miserable.

Later on, the other friends, the ones that I always get a kick of, even when I think of them to this day, the rough and tumble crew that are, weirdly enough, my people, they would remark, ‘life’s a b*tch and then you die.’ Like a mantra, except maybe it was more of a punchline. Didn’t get the A on that exam? Had a bad breakup? Have a hangover? Gained a few unwanted pounds? Can’t afford that dress? ‘Life’s a b*tch and then you die.’ We said it all the time. Peddle self-pity somewhere else, we’re not buying here.

Like the Cake song says ‘as soon as you’re born, you start dying, so you might as well have a good time.” Oh it’s all in good fun, right? It’s all funny. Yet it’s also sort of true.

So suck it up, put out the cloves, switch the tune, shake away the fog, and face the day.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

dirt off your shoulder

Disclaimer: see yesterday's post for an explanation.


Sometimes, and it’s embarrassing to admit, because pride always comes before a fall, but sometimes, I feel invincible. It’s easy when you’re self-contained and everything depends solely on you. Which is, of course, a total lie that we tell ourselves.

I can only keep my molecules together, can only keep myself completely within the margins of reason for a window of time. But during that time, oh, I won't be pushed around. No one on the corner has swagger like me.

And during that time, for that brief window of time, I can’t be swayed. I am single-minded in my purpose. I have some kind of fire that fuels me forward, and the road before me is certain.

This power is free of all insecurity. I am unapologetic, as I discard any source of noise, anyone that stands in my way. Give me a guilt trip- I will look at you with the blankest look of indifference. No one can hurt me.

How I envy those who maintain this kind of pomposity, this kind of self-assured arrogance for all of their days. Me, I can only make it for a window of time. And then I wonder who am I kidding, and all of that certainty and bravado leeches out of me. At which time, I am just like anyone else. I always was, but then I’m back to knowing it.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

across the universe

Disclaimer: I'm giving this a whirl, but I'm not sure how I feel about it. I've been doing this exercise for the past couple of days, just to keep myself from losing my mind. I listen to a song, and I give myself about 10 minutes, and write what comes to mind. My point is that the next several posts will probably be extremely self-indulgent, possibly incoherent, and kind of free form (hmm, how is that different than usual?). I might balk at this in the next day or two; I'm bad when it comes to commitment at the moment. We'll see.


How could there not be something supernatural at play? A scientist, by training, wants to doubt. A scientist has to question.

I used to think it was just human nature. Be nice to someone, and they’re nice to you. Live a good life, and there will be goodness around you. Meaning (as my dad prefaces when he is trying to make a point): you have control. You decide, you determine. It’s an equation, it’s Le Chatelier’s principle, it’s science.

Except no.

Some days you lose everything. You stand over a waterfall and see your whole life crashing with such force against those rocks. You think you’re that meaningless, you think your life is that insignificant. And that is true.

But it’s not the only truth.

Explain it, that which has no explanation. Explain how, suddenly, and with no warning or reason, people can disappear out of your life. People who you thought were there forever, who were your constants, just gone. Explain it, but you absolutely can’t.

And then explain this, even more impossible to explain, even more difficult to define or describe. Explain how, just when you have concluded that such is life, and no one is reliable and nothing is forever, other people reappear, ghosts coming out of the ether and holding out their hand. They say, ‘we’re here, and we missed you.’ Explain it, how suddenly, someone’s words say ‘You mean something to me. Your life has significance to me.’ And that is true too. Even though it may not be true tomorrow.

Explain that, explain it all, but really you can’t. Be nice to someone, and they’re nice to you. Maybe. Maybe not. But be nice anyway, because there’s a chance, and the chance is worth it.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

I must remember there'll be days like this

Here's an explanation of why I haven't blogged, in the form of a rundown of my extremely uneventful days this past week:

  • wake up
  • put on the kettle- of all people, a white, 22-year old Southern Californian surfer dude finally got me hooked on a morning cup of chai with almond (or soy) milk in it.
  • over a cup of tea, while knitting a sock, I listen to a 45-minute mp3 lecture, convincing myself I am learning something this way while still easing into my morning.
  • suffer through two hours of test-taking, head-banging-against-a-wall, acceptance, and learning
  • shower, dress, try to memorize some random factoids
  • lunch
  • read
  • gym, while trying to dodge phone calls from classmates inquiring about strategies and schedules and wanting to generally compare everything as if this was some sort of clone war
  • dinner
  • one hour of prescribed television, though I've been so distracted that I am only half-watching
  • repeat performance of two hours of test-taking, head-banging-against-a-wall, resignation/learning
  • sleep

Lather, rinse, and repeat. On the one hand, it's working. On the other hand, it's depressing. I get a few five minute breaks in between all of these things to maybe check email or twitter it up, but other than that, my day feels disgustingly regimented. It's weird to be an extremist and yet loathe the extremity of it all. But hey, sometimes you have to suck it up and deal.

One thing that is good is that I am so inside my head right now that I think I will indeed have a bit to write when all of this is through.