Aug 31, 2015

Deeps

She had a way of staring into other's souls so deeply that she'd reach bottom, only to find herself there, staring back.

Aug 29, 2015

Today is day of strange coincidence

Scene: self at coffee shop, reading the Aug. 31, 2015 edition of the New Yorker.

Scene: page is turned to page 13, an advertisement for the Picasso Sculpture exhibit at the MoMA, coming this fall. (Member Previews Sep 10-13)

Action: I pick up my phone to mark down the dates.

Setting: I've finally gotten up the courage to look up Elvis Presley's birth date, moments before. I read Presley's biography this January (book recommended by Etsy's CEO Chad Dickerson, in an internal email chain). I'd been avoiding it for months now, but curiousity won out. Right. Now.

Action: I'm Googling famous people with my birth sign.

And then: A wild Pablo Picasso appears.

#what_the_ever_living_fuck

Aug 28, 2015

dream sxapes

last night I was lost in Split/Dubrovnik, responded to an ad for a game night via a list serve and ended up, confusingly enough at a different game night, the weekly meeting of the local bdsm club. (oops). they were nice but I couldn't keep up with their jokes, the newspapers filled with lewd images were beyond my reckoning, the night ended when i couldn't remember my ATM pin, which would get me into the second round of that night's games, deeper in the pub's belly.  Some nice ladies stayed out in the common room though, playing some weird form of newspaper boggle with pencils and tales of sexploits.

upon reflection it was a weird form of social psych sadism, I suppose.

I headed home early and got lost or something somehow ran into my old 7th grade friend/crush named Two who was working in the pub as a busboy and saw me there. He warned me that it was a good thing I hadn't been able to remember my pin; that the back room was dirty and dank and that it wasn't a good next level to find yourself at. I struggled for a while with the decision to somehow reassure him that it wouldn't have been the first time I found myself in dark places or that I could have handled it but decided that that was quite beside the point of it all, anyway.

Then we were escaping, somewhere still in the city, mostly just to stone benches where we could catch up on lives long since lived. He was afraid of running into his wife, but I felt something bigger looming down over us, and ran away, back to my room, at the corner of the city, built into its heavy stone walls and up above the din of the crowded streets, below.

Aug 27, 2015

In so many ways

I saw someone drawing on the train today, the second person this week. They were both equally talented and that old doubtful demon raised his head again and asked: how hard is it to draw, nicely, to draw well. Are we all inborn artists, just waiting for the call, the reckoning, the right smile from the right muse on the subway?

I don't know anymore, I just don't know anymore. Sometimes I think that it's just The City and that there's something in the water that changes us all to be the best at what we are and then from time to time I meet someone who isn't and is struggling and I know that I am wrong.

You were good at drawing though, you *are* (still and always, so might we all) talented but whether that proves or disproves anything is unknown and probably, as is wholly probable, uncertain.  You're not a good sample set as you were and why do all the talented people end up, at one time or another, in the new york xity.

(I am nothing; I am naught. What am I doing here; I don't know anymore)

Aug 26, 2015

draft copy

** VACATION THAT SETS YOU FREE **
** that's a lot of responsability for a vacation, dont you think? **
** YES BUT FREEDOMMMMM **
** reality girl, be realistic.  what's going to make this vacation different than the other ones you've taken? **
** how is spending time trotting around Europe really any different than trotting around NYC? **
** WEIRD LANGUAGES, DIFFERENT SYSTEMS, BEAUTIFUL BEACHES **

if you are a prolific person, then be prolifical

awkwardness is no excuse for lack of manners.
no manners is a fear of interacting.  COWARDICE!?

______ is a very well mannered person.  is it a matter of remembering to interact?
of interacting at the right level? of saying hello, how are you doing?

today, i learned that six thirty is family dinnertime at the neighborhood diner.

i dont want to couch my view as the 'feminist' perspective, but thats what it is.
at the root core of it. a feminine perspective.
rock it girl

if my legacy had to be anything, i think i would want it to be coinage of the term 'dainty hiking'
~~attributes of a 'dainty hiker'~~
- really into ultralight packs (this is a practical concern, a dainty hiker is weak as shit)
- never seems winded
- bounds down hill
- shoes that look more like slippers than hiking boots (see above about being weak as shit. those hiking boots are heavy as fuck)
- always seems to have all the things that you could need.
- crosses streams via the rocks whenever possible (dislikes wet feet)
- takes a lot of pride in finding convenient, well-shielded spots to pee

Aug 23, 2015

Mad respect

To all the single soul apartment dwellers that buy whole watermelons

And doubly, to those that finish them within the week.

To the fools with hangovers that wake up super earls.

To all the ladies making breakfast.

To all the peoples still asleep.

To all those that still start debates on the internet, like it's 1988 and we're all just trying to connect, for the first time in a long time.

Or maybe in forever.

"For-ever-ever?"

Yeah



Fo'ever.

Aug 22, 2015

Growing up

Sometimes I think growing up is more and more just circumscribing things that you really want to happen in life as opposed to things that you think would be cool but aren't really a necessary requisite experience.

The growing up part is where the requisite experiences set gets distinctly smaller, and more refined.

Along with a healthy dose of not give a fuck itude. But maybe that's just the circle getting smaller, too.

Aug 21, 2015

status: caffeinated

americano for the 'muricans
espresso for the very harried
latté for the blue bloods
macchiatto for the red bloods
tea for the pacificts
and the brits
decaf for the puritanicals
hot chocolate for those cold winter nights.


~~~~~




Aug 20, 2015

today, i learned

today, i learned that people don't cease to exist when you stop thinking about them. they go on living, day in and day out.  even though you've blotted them out of existence, mentally, they still breathe.  they exhale.  they talk, maybe even laugh sometimes.

as surprising as it may sound, your mental energy waves weren't the thing keeping them alive.



they didn't need you, after all.

Aug 18, 2015

CS

How's the culture shock?

It's there. Just, there. Like the pair of woolen socks in your socks drawer in August - you don't have a lot of use for it. Unlike woolen socks, there's never a season for it.

But its good to know it's there, like a reminder of another time, so different than the present, that exists.

Aug 16, 2015

Two Memoirs

There's something so rewarding about finishing a book the same day you buy it.  Almost like keeping a promise to yourself -- made, worked at, and then completed -- all within the memory space of a day.  No hanging obligations to wake up to.  No dread or guilt or growing pile in the corner.

*magic*

I read two books today.  I cheated -- I traveled backward in time 5 hours and reclaimed each and every one of those extra hours for book cramming.  The cheating was an unnecessary, preemptive precaution: I still have another 5 hours until today is officially done with.

Two books for today: H is for Hawk by Helen MacDonald and Yes Please by one Amy Poehler.  I've been wanting to read H for months and was beyond thrilled when the Heathrow airport had it on the shelf.  Amy Poehler's book was a chance encounter -- and at "buy one get one half off" hard to pass up.

Amy's book was delightful, though quite par for the course in the self-deprecating, life-celebratory memoir category.  Definitely worthwhile.

The Hawk book, also a memoir, was far more ascetic and personalized.  Well written, with a clear story arc than Poehler's, but lacking some of the jolting wit.  They're not fair comparisons, but it's hard to keep from making what with their temporal proximity and categorical similarity.  The images in hawk are so vivid that it's not a book I feel I'll read again -- the mental portrait I have of the author and her hawk have been indelibly inscribed on my memory.

Aug 5, 2015

Paperratti

Who are the Medici?  Like really, who are they?  Do they still exist?  Or did their clan die out years ago, same as other once powerful clans have eventually died out?  I know what their seal looks like (or at least think I know, to be quite frank I'm not convinced that it's not the seal of the Vatican.  10th generation Lutherans are really quite ignorant about these sorts of things).

Let me tell you what I have learned about the Medici in the intervening hours since I arrived in Florence 10 hours ago.  There were 6 ruling Medici 'kings' (or 7?).  They are buried in a grand, Michelangelo designed and (mostly) built crypt of sorts in the middle of Florence.*  I say "of sorts" because the crypt is entirely above ground; it is reminiscent of a chapel.  In the main cryptic part, there are 6 sarcophagi, one for each of the Medici kings.  The room of Sarcophagi is large, rotundular, and covered from top to magnificent bottom in the most wonderful colors of granite and precious stones.  There is more lapis lazuli inlaid in the tilework of the sides of the sculphercher than I have ever seen in one place. The gorgeous blue literally robbed me of breath.

I learned that Michelangelo was the put in the Medici's care as a youngster (teens, maybe younger?).

Things unrelated to the Medicis (or maybe tangentially related) that I know now: I now know what marble looks like when carved.  I know that most Renaissance carvers were kind of shit at women's, erm,topography.  (If I *see* another man thigh on a woman, ech.  Or maybe women were more manly 500 years ago... yeah right.)  I know what poor quality carved marble looks like.

Back to the Medicis: I know that there were (at the very least) 3 Cosimos, 2 Ferdinandos and 1 Francesco (all of whom are grandly entombed at the family crypt).  Their crest is of 5 ugly red globules topped by a 6 ugly globule, except in lapis lazuli that contains within itself 3 golden florets.  The Medici were patrons for a shit ton of art.  They paid for the glitzy, multi'colored Duomo church (3rd largest in Christendom, if Rick Steves is to be believed) and matching baptistry, and matching bell tower.  And probably also paid for a large number of the galleries and carved marble sculptures that literally litter the streets of Florence.

I also know this: the Medici are dead.  They have been for centuries.  But people (self included) still pay good dollars to see the detritus that they left behind.  Years ago.  The wealth and gardens and such of the Medicis was such that it exists.  Still, today, largely preserved by, what I can only imagine, is the people of Florence and, in a more basic sense, the morbid curiosity of people such as myself who pay into this system, and buy into the grand history that is, and continues to be, the Medici.  Because the Medicis, may they rest in peace, are probably one of the richest dead families in the world.  The gold and precious stones and man hours and carved marble that makes up their physical kingdom is unreproducible.  No one can buy it.  And there may not be enough lapis lazuli left, untouched in the world to populate yet another dead man's crypt.

All this to say that I can't help but think of a passage from Finite and Infinite Games where to the player of the finite game, the victor plays the game such that the game cannot be played again.  The victor wants the game to end, for the only game that has been played to be the one that he has won.  Then the trophy that he has won will be his forever; his role shifts from that of a game player to one that makes sure that no one else can win the game such as he has won it.

If, in some sense, riches were a game, I would say that the Medici, may God let their soles rest easy in their marble tombs, have come fairly close to holding their trophy, even into death.


* Michelangelo ran off to Rome at some point, presumably after one of his patron saint Medicis died.  Or maybe he went with their blessing.  At any rate, he left for Rome, leaving in his wake several unfinished sculptures, most notably, in my mind at any rate, the faces of Day and Night, on two of the alters of the Medici crypt.

Concrete

Our weird, divorcing yet comforting concrete that cocoons us apart from the world, the real non-slicked surface of rocks and bugs and unevenness. That's what Italy is missing - the miles of concrete, chalky white fresh concrete or the darker cracking stuff, the lifecycle of our shell.


Humans: tortoises with houses made of concrete.

Right leaning

Wherein the real meaning of "Liberty" and "Freedom" means the right of every man to his own tiny, fascist kingdom.


Public debate then, is important; it amounts to inter-fiefal negotiation.

Aug 2, 2015

Final Analysis

I changed my mind about Ellen Ullman's By Blood. On a whole, the narrator reminds me more of Humbert Humbert in Nabokov's Lolita. 

The myopia was limited to a particular passage. Overall the style is jagged, it changes as the narrative focus shifts from the process of analysis to the girl's origin story.

Meh.

Maria

I'm on my way to Milan for my first solo Euro trip.  At least the first part solo.  I don't have many expectations. All I know is that this is new. I'm not sure what it will be like. Maybe I'll hate traveling alone?
I left my laptop at home - this is the longest I've ever gone without it. In fact, this may be the longest that I've given myself to not think about work. Or side projects. Of accomplishing, but only in thought.
Well, that's not entirely true. I brought a stack of books and magazines a foot high. Reading material accounts for roughly half my luggage.  The plan is to finish them off (2 novels written by a programmer turned writer*, 1 nonfiction book about Orientalism**, a travel guide for Croatia [part 2 of Eurotrip], a few ripped out chapters of an Italian guide book, and the 2 most recent issues of the New Yorker). I'm honestly not terribly excited about any of them - each has an ulterior motive behind it.  The scheming for a better self: it acknowledges no bounds.
The two novels are by Ellen Ullman. (Source of recommendation: I believe it was a previous copy of the New Yorker, in a review for her novel The Bug). I started the other one I bought on a whim (recommended by Amazon) called By Blood. It's a novel about a man who becomes a willing interlocutor on a woman's sessions with her analyst.
The style reminds me of a distant echo of Clarice Lispector. It's not quite as myopic and slow paced as Clarice, but the singular focus on the narrator's psychic experience of living through this other woman's story harkens to a similar self-analytic style. It lacks the extensive grave and 3rd voice that seems to haunt Lispector's stories, but the detailed, minutiad dissection of motives echoes similarly.
This is a book about relationships, particularly the relationship of a patient to their therapist and thru their conversation, a proxy to every other relationship in the patients' (and by virtue of perspective, also the narrator's) life. Via the narrator, we hear another woman's analytic proceedings, annotated with the narrator's own experiences with analysis: his frustration and familiarity with the tics and tactics that comprise an analyst's toolbox.
All this to get to say: I want to tell you about one of my analysts. I want to tell you about Maria.
Maria was my analyst for a few short months. I saw her for a part of the time that I lived in Houston in 2011. Her office was a short drive from the Houston headquarters of the consulting firm I worked for. Most days I showed up to work at client's offices not headquarters, but it was nice to have our offices and Maria in the same neighborhood. There was something comfortable about the proximity of two painful yet familiar things. I never felt at home in either place, but they were places I could be, nonetheless; similar in the familiarity of otherness.
Maria was a short woman with dark hair. She was pretty, in her early to mid-thirties. Her last name suggested Latina roots, but her office decor and features were Asian in character. She would keep notes as I talked on a large yellow notepad and ask probing questions. Watching the pace of her hand as it scribbled across the paper didn't do much to calm the unease that I, invariably, felt while sitting on her sofa.
I don't know how I found her. I don't remember how I paid for her either - if she was a medical expense or something I coughed up the cash for on my own. I do remember feeling guilty about spending money on it.
I don't remember when I would go to see her - if it was something that I took off early for or left in the middle of the day. One day when I went it was raining. Another was hot and sunny. Yet another time I think I showed up on the wrong day; I'm not sure she was there.  Or maybe she was and we missed each other.
I do remember taking a certain relish in the way my work heels would click across the asphalt on my way from the car to the door. The feigned sense of professionalism of being able to smooth out my long navy pencil skirts as I sat down on her upholstered sofa. And the feeling of revelation, of self definition by contrast, when I'd wear flip flops and shorts to a session on the weekend, knowing that my eye makeup was smudged and my face was puffy.
I never parked close to the building - the lot was small. I parked 3/4 of the way across the lot, on the second row away from Westheimer. There were never any more than five cars in the whole space.
As it was the walk was short. It could have been shorter.
There was a buzzer box that I rang to be let in. Once I think I buzzed another office because she didn't answer right away. That buzzer was the source of much anxiety. I never knew who would answer. What if I was turned away?
I never told Maria about my fears about her buzzer box. I'm not really sure what we talked about. I remember silence. And crying. And feeling embarrassed about the pile of tissues. The embarrassment of wasting her time with sobs. It never occurred to me that it was my time, only hers.
Paradoxically, I don't think that I ever really forgave her for making me pay her to watch me sob. Nothing seemed to change. Eventually, she started suggesting that I come more frequently than twice a week. I didn't want my life to be one long, endless session of sobbing. I began to resent the suggestion that I needed more time to get to whatever 'it' was. I felt I was wasting her time. One of our last times we spent together was a long discussion about what made therapy, with its awkward pauses and probing questions, useful.
Outside of tears and questions about why, I'm not sure what I talked about. I just know that none of it felt very real or concrete.
I ended it when she asked me to talk about us.
* Research for the future
** A bit of a dry read, but an incisive and provocative critique of American cultural anthropology
*** I learned one thing from my time with Maria. I forget it often. In fact it is more common that it is forgotten than remembered.
I learned that within myself there exists a beautiful, golden child. When she plays, life is never boring.

Fun things about Europe

1/ not knowing what language will come out of a stranger's mouth
2/ not knowing what language will come out of my mouth
3/ for a more than nominal fee, exploring the reaches of human curiosity and ego vis a vis the opulent houses and gardens the rich of the turn of the century left behind
4/ wine that costs as much as fruit juice
5/ imagining what people who slept in cherub adorned beds did for giggles
Unrelatedly, curiousity brings its own rewards.

sound reflecions: observations from SF MOMA's Soundtracks exhibit

karthik and i went to the SF MOMA today to check out the last few bits of the soundtracks exhibit. we saw this great video work that i can&...