Narcissus' Echo

Thoughts, tears, rants, ruminations, hopes, fears, love(s), and prayers of just another being passing through this wracked sphere...

My Photo

A round peg in a world of square holes...

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Unexpected joy, little mercies...

I hereby announce that Eve, gf of Mr. E., must be my good luck charm (her predilection towards rap notwithstanding *hyuk!* Joking! Joking!). So it appears that I get to bring breakfast and/or food over to her place after all. No, not you, Eve. HER. Besides, you have your $12 fried rice, babe. You have your fried rice paradise, while I reside in burrito land... So, never mind the 4 hours of sleep, I'm happy as a lark, and bounced out of bed this morning.

Gotta go now...

For those who requested a pic to accompany the descriptions of Sunday mass in my prior posts, here you go. Note that most of the choir is missing in the picture. They stand in the apse, near the grand piano. (That's where I will be standing tomorrow night, from 8:30 PM until 11:30 PM, pretty much every Sunday night--just in case any homeboys are planning to assassinate me. Careful though. Killing someone in church is bad juju. I might come back on the side of Righteousness, and, with the Spear of Destiny, give you a prostate massage like you wouldn't believe...)

Thanks for reading. Have a great day now.

Losing heroes, and becoming one

Spent 10 hours researching in the library today... At one point, my eyes were so tired that I read "Carver" for "cave," which brought me back to June 2003, where I spent the month driving my parents around the south island of New Zealand in a Subaru WRX. At one point, I discovered this section of caves in the southern central region of the island and dearly wanted to bring them caving, but reason got the better of me, and reminded me that they were too old, too fragile; a slip and a fall would be far more than a matter of a sprained ankle and a bruised ego; we would have a medical emergency in our hands.

When we were growing up, we look to our parents to rescue us from trouble; to protect us from the monsters in the closet, or lurking under the bed; to lift us up bawling from toppled bicycles, dress our scraped knees; save us from drowning when, against admonitions, we sneak to the adult section of the swimming pools; to coo our fears away when nightmares visit... When do we notice the crossing of the line where we no longer require their rescue? When do we notice that the roles have been reversed, and that our parents need our care, protection and rescue now? When do we realize that we are their heroes now? That we were always their heroes; that they've just been grooming us for this day all along.

How will we deal with it, face it, when they cross the bar? Every child thinks their parents will live forever; like their comic book superheroes, they never die. But that is not the case. Not thinking about it does not not make it so. It still happens. It WILL happen. So treasure your parents. Tell them--show them--just how much you love them. Care for them.

There is no definitive handbook to parenting. We often forget that parents are human too. They were once just as wild or clueless as we are. A pair (if you are lucky) of regular folk doing the best they can, learning as they go along, how to survive, how to create a household, how to bring up a child.

What I am trying to say is, everyone makes mistakes. No one is perfect. Parents are no exception. Make up, or, if that is impossible, make your peace while there is time, while they are still around. Because, if you don't, when they cross the bar, rest assured that you will have an entire lifetime to regret. And this time, there is nothing you can do about it. You will be one of those sorry schlubs who call The Psychic Hotline at $5.00 a minute to talk to the souls of your dead parents, telling them how sorry you are... while Miss Cleo & company build mansions, buy limos, with the currency of your grief.

You are the hero now. Save their golden days. Save the relationship. Save the memories. Save yourself.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Why do you write?

Have you ever asked yourself that?

Why do you write?

Is your personal writing restricted to blogs? Or do you have other avenues of writing as well? And why, why do you write? And I am not talking about writing in response to someone else (which, admittedly, this blog has been indulging in lately), but writing for oneself; a kind of rumination, introspection put into text, if you will.

Is it to vent? To rant? To lament? Or to boast? To self-console? To self-assure? To justify to oneself that one's life is not as meaningless as it seems? In hopes that someone else out there will agree with you that your actions bore some significance? To leave some trace behind?

Writing is both solace and torment to me, for while it allows me to vent, to rant, and to console by avenue of lament, it has rules, forms, and structures--standards that must be followed; even in the most intense paroxysms of feeling, these rules can only stretch, bend a little.

A conversation this morning reminded me of someone who passed through my life many years ago. I wrote the following poem in one sitting, drunk on a bottle of wine and half a bottle of scotch, alone in my tiny studio apartment in Palo Alto after the party at her place in San Jose on a cool summer's night. The poem was subsequently published in 2001. Now, looking back, if someone were to ask me if it was worth it--if the poem was worth all the pain it took for it to come into existence--I must reply that I am not so sure. I cannot reply with the kind of confidence a young mother has, dismissing the pangs of childbirth with the joys of motherhood, for my child is, albeit one of beauty, also one of pain. Its beauty lies in the articulation of pain. Thus, its beauty--and my pride, if any--are forever tied to the reminder of pain.

That said, the scar on the psyche, through the phenomenon of writing, has been transferred to the text, and less of it resides in the wracked and wistful heart. In that sense, the act of writing has done its job of exorcising the angst, if not completely, then at least partially, with the unexpected payoff in beauty (in the sense of Mishima's writings). I invite you then, to partake in this communion of pity, empathy, love, and pain. This one is for you, Moe: A Sheaf of Tears with No Sound


So I was referred to this link , where I chanced upon this post, reported by a certain handle, Finicky Feline:

Singaporean men should date Malaysian girls because:

1) They’re well known for their shununess (some of ‘em anyway) and their beauty. I’ve always heard S’porean men praising M’sian girls, but never the other way around (sorry folks, am just stating the facts)

2) M’sian girls who live in S’pore are usually on their own without their parents. Can stay out late, can stay overnight, no parental interrogations. Sounds like a good deal.

3) Can go to her hometown for a quick getaway and save on accomodation by staying at her parents’ place. Quiet sex is a must though.

I make no apologies: that is disgusting.
If you have to worry about her parents when you are "getting it on" with a female, then you should really consider laying off:
a) pedophilia;
b) necrophilia;
c) picking up dates with ICU patients at the local hospital.

Stepping... no... Stomping on toes...

LOL! It appears I stepped on some toes out there with my comments on gangster rap. So let me rephrase: I have no problems with rap, only gangster rap. *grin* BTW, what is a "candy shop?"

Aww... I think I made some people there mad. To those who know me, you know from the beginning that I possess strong and politically-incorrect opinions. You know I love you anyways, whether you are black, white, yellow, alive, dead, a business student, etc. *grin* To those that do not know me, click here

Oh, man, dun get me started with Asian pride... Talk about empty symbolism. On one hand we have the talk of Asian pride this, Asian pride that, on the the other hand, we have the Chinese still mad as hell at Japan over WWII, various ethnicities looking down on each other, ranking each other based on their country's respective economic position in the world. IMHO, not only is the concept of "Asian Pride" an unsupportable and empty position, it lies dangerously close to racial essentialism. Think about it for a moment, if a crowd of Caucasians (white folk) are going marching around, yelling, "White Pride! White Power!" are you going to be comfortable with that? If not, then why is it ok for other ethnicities to do the same, but not for the Caucasians? BTW, the Caucasians do not hold a monopoly on colonialism, slavery, waging war, etc. What do you think China has been doing in Tibet? Rockclimbing? Look at the massacres of the people in East Timor by Indonesian troops. Look at how Indians from Bangladesh are generally viewed and treated by the Chinese majority in Singapore. Again, I repeat: WHAT Asian pride?

With regards to Black culture, why ape those who glamorize image of gangbangers? Why not Condi Rice and Colin L. Powell? "Gee, mom. I am not going to work towards being the Provost of Stanford, or the Secretary of State. I'm going to be a gangbanger, steal cars, pimp hos, beat women, deal drugs, run from cops, coz it's more cool..."

Anyone who thinks that gangbangers and their lifestyles are cool should volunteer for a few weeks at those halfway houses for prostitutes and gangbangers. It will open your eyes. I dare you to choose one of them and walk them to their car at the end of every day. You better be real good at ducking bullets from the inevitable drive-bys, homie... Yeah, that's right. Keep watching those replays of Keanu Reeves in "The Matrix" dodging slugs on the rooftop. You da man, champ. I'll see you on "COPs" or "America's Most Wanted."


Here's an excerpt from The Middle Passage, by V. S. Naipaul:

the Negro problem lies not simply in the attitudes of others to the Negro, but in the Negro’s attitude to himself. . . . The retreat into apologies for their condition, their endless “historical” explanations and their lack of any direction. The sentimental camaraderie of skin which provides the cheap thrill of being “African” (83)

Here's an excerpt from Bill Cosby's speech on May 17 2004 , commemorating the fiftieth-anniversary of the Brown vs. Topeka Board of Education Supreme Court ruling, at the Constitution Hall in Washington, D. C.:

people with their hat on backwards, pants down around the crack. . . . What part of Africa did this come from? We are not Africans. Those people are not Africans, they don’t know a damned thing about Africa. With names like Shaniqua, Shaligua, Mohammed and all that crap and all of them are in jail. (When we give these kinds names to our children, we give them the strength and inspiration in the meaning of those names. What’s the point of giving them strong names if there is not parenting and values backing it up). . . . We cannot blame white people. . . . Now look, I’m telling you. It’s not what they’re doing to us. It’s what we’re not doing. 50 percent drop out [rate from inner city public schools]. Look, we’re raising our own ingrown immigrants. These people are fighting hard to be ignorant. There’s no English being spoken.

I don't buy the "cool" argument. At one point in history, it was cool to be in the SS. Toast, anyone?

Thursday, May 05, 2005


Heads up to all the anime geeks out there!

Hot Japanese Schoolgirl has a message for you:

You are welcome.

You do know that when Sony comes up with an anime schoolgirl version of the Aibo , humanity would (gradually) become extinct, don't you?

9:34 PM: Note to self: do not watch "Fear Factor" when having dinner.
This Korean chick was trying to swallow the entire raw contents of an Ostrich egg.

kim chi breath, gangster rap, and chiggers

Earlier today, in the library, while replying to an email, I attempted to copy and paste a comment by a friend, "Great blog. much of it is over my head though," in order to reply to him, but apparently the command did not go through, and a previous user's data in the clipboard showed up instead:


I would have hated the entire world
And never have hesitated
To kill anyone who dared
To speak to me of a break-up
Between my beloved and me.
That evening at Orety,
Coming towards me with Daky,
My heart breaking with love for him,
I snuggled in his warm embrace,
But he did not call me “Mavy”. . .

His eyes avoided mine,
In front of Bessieux school,
As if bewitched by the blue sky,
He whispered: “It’s over, you and I,
I have come to say Goodbye.”
Did the earth shake under my feet?
Did I hear him right?
Why this sudden chill?
Was it just a frightful dream?
I was powerless to speak.

The day before, in front of his mother,
He told me he wanted a child together,
The most beautiful gift from a lover…
And looking up at the heavens,
Even the sky seemed uncertain…
I was in love with being together,
Why must he forget it?
For him I gave up everything,
Parted from my family.
Should I laugh or should I cry?

A voice from beyond the grave
Stammered: “It’s a bomb”. . .
Before my tears had time to fall,
With a blast, he was gone,
Leaving behind him only a scar.
No more will I say: “I love you”
To all of those who come to me,
To play out the big scene
That awakens my pain!
For thus dies a gentle heart. . .

How's that for serendipity?
I wonder if it was the lyrics to a song.
I wonder if it is a poem for an assignment.
I wonder if the unknown user before me is going through what I did.
I wonder.
And I wander.

I have been short on sleep ever since I began this blog business. Not good. Also, AFTER I am done with my blog, there are the chats with Eve, gorgeous gf of Mr. E (now, for a limited time only, appearing with her ChowChow). And so it boils down to "Chat with Eve" or sleep. For some unfathomable reason, the former always wins. I'm already going through my coffee rations at twice the normal rate.

I've got a crappola worth of work due next week, including presentations, which I totally and utterly detest. I suppose at some point I have to learn to be good at it; after all, in the words of someone special, it doesn't matter if you have it all in your head, if you can't articulate it to your audience, you are as good as dumb. Nice pun there, BTW; I wonder if she realized it. Problem is, I love... wait, let me emphasize... LOVE long complex sentences and polysyllabic words. I also love to interject foreign words and jargon into my sentences. It makes for more concise sentences (hard to believe since I love 110+ word type sentences). By concise, I mean I can pack extremely complex, multi-faceted, and multi-layered ideas and concepts in a single long sentence. The use of higher-order vocabulary allows a single word to be used instead of a large phrase or separate sentence. BUT, when you attempt to read out such sentences, you inevitably send your audience into a coma. Hmm...

During afternoon mass today, a regular--a very nice lady--gave me a few precious insights into the rituals (I haven't had my First Communion yet. Heck, I haven't even been baptized yet). She subtly hinted that she might be willing to be my sponsor as well. I was touched. I might just take her up on her offer.

After lunch and a large cappuccino (corrected by THE Mr. E *grin*), I mustered enough courage to approach the professor whose remarks on Tuesday afternoon resulted in such unhappiness and anger in me. I was expecting a confrontation (though I remained always respectful). Instead, he was very happy to see me, and remarked that he saw me at mass today. He apologized for his remarks that day, and agreed that it might have been out of line, and that "We are cool."

The lack of bloodshed and the happy conclusion of this event made me question if it was really my ego that perceived things out of proportion, or is it through the grace of a higher power that solved it so easily. I am sensitive, don't get me wrong. How can one be insensitive and a poet? Maybe I'm just an egoistic poet...

That said, I remained burnt by the experience. The cyclists on this campus are on their own. I am not going to give away information that I so painstakingly gathered over the course of weeks for free. Taking a cue from the legion of business students burning in Hell (and the rest, with one foot in it), information that is free is rarely valued; attaching a price to it renders it less likely to be scorned--because the users have to pay for it.

I found this little cafe beside campus. It is managed by this sweet Korean lady and her husband. They have a tempting assortment of Japanese confectionery (yes, yes, I am away of the historical/cultural irony here... Shut up and stuff some kim chi up your nationalist (__*__) now. GET OVER IT!), and... get this... they play nothing but classical music in there. Oh, what an oasis of aural bliss! No gangsta-rap thumping and bumping, dropping IQ points with every bass beat, degenerating language from English to Ebonics with every obscenity uttered, de-evolving all who hear it into jungle bunnies... Ah! Bliss.

I make no apologies for what appears to be high-brow disdain for gangsta-rap and its various manifestations of ghetto dress codes and culture. Seriously, are any of the wannabe thugs out there cognizant of the genesis of such modes of dress codes? Why do the men wear their pants so low that their butt cracks are exposed? Here's a clue: it originated in prisons. Still lost? Here's another clue free (no need to buy one, I'm feeling generous today): sanitary napkins are a common commodity in male prisons. Got it? No? Ok, last clue (yes, it's still free. Don't worry. I'm not a business student): don't drop the soap, buddy. So, think about it the next time you are enjoying pretending to be "cruizing da hood" and going "bitch this!" "bitch that!" And for the "aSiAn hOmEbOyS" out there, you are nothing more than chiggers. Look up that term (as a portmanteau word) sometime. You are wearing outfits that say, "Santa Clara," "San Francisco State," "University of San Francisco," "San Jose State," "UC Santa Cruz," "UC San Diego," and NOT "San Quentin." Perhaps mommy's crack habit got her all confused and, since grade school, you have been boarding the wrong bus?

Bottomline: to those of you who listen to gangsta-rap, you are in the wrong society. Your place is in the jungle, where you will earn your MBA in stealing coconuts from monkeys.

Anyone who thinks that going to jail is cool, please read the following two articles:
The Basics of Rape behind Bars
Prisoner Rape Spreads Disease

The following is an excerpt:

The group's handout -- targeted primarily at heterosexual men who have no desire to ever be involved in homosexual activity -- advises:

HIV/AIDS transmission during a sexual assault is a serious concern. The following are practical tips for reducing your risk. ...

If you have a choice, try to avoid men who used needles for drugs in the past or are still doing so. ... The more often you are raped, the more exposed you will be, so especially try to avoid anal gang-bangs. The most dangerous situation of all is if your anus is bleeding, for that allows easy entry of the virus into your bloodstream. So try to use a lubricant or grease or cream if you can to minimize injury to your delicate internal body parts, avoid anal gang-bangs, and if you must endure forced anal penetration, try to relax your muscles as much as possible. These tactics are not 'cooperating' or consenting, they are just common-sense measures to try to save your life. ...

In many situations you are better off agreeing to do something (masturbating, oral sex, sex with a condom) rather than just resisting until you are overwhelmed and forced to deal with unprotected anal sex from one or many guys. You may feel you should resist to the end, but that would put your life in danger. There is no shame in doing what you have to do to survive; nothing changes the fact that rape is involved and you are not morally or legally responsible for it; these compromises are just pathways to your survival. It may even be to your advantage to develop skills in oral sex so that guys you have to deal with will be satisfied with that alone. Don't feel guilty about it; you're just trying to save your life. ...

Still think you are the "cool, tough, gangster"?

The pathetic fallacy, or simply a yearning for the scenic outdoors?

I miss the Muir Beach Overlook . Been perusing Susan Sontag's short stories, and I don't know whether it is her style of writing that I don't care for (IMHO, she's a prime example of how NOT to write a long sentence: think of "Gilmore Girls" on the printed page), or I finally shifted into a wistful mood after this storm of anger, but I do miss Muir Beach Overlook. On a good day, you can see forever--which is much to say considering that I find it difficult to peer more than a few step ahead in my emotional life. There is something special about cavorting amongst the abandoned ruins of military fortifications in that area: it seems incongruous to touch and be amongst the remnants of such massive engines of destruction, set amidst such breathtaking geography. Maybe that is why people keep returning to memories of failed loves: to be lost for a bittersweet moment, wandering amidst the scenery of what may have been, and the ruins of what actually was. Do you look at a ruin and wish it somehow turned out differently? Or do you simply appreciate it in its lonely, poignant grandeur, and hurry on?

Someone opined that it is more like repeatedly picking a scab; having it bleed, heal, repeat. Repeat. As I am getting dinner (yes, at 12:23 AM) in a few minutes, I am not going to venture in this tagent.

3:30 AM:
So I finally completed the readings (due for 9:55 AM). The chat with Eve (always fascinating) took a chunk of the time, but I did catch 2 hours of sleep during the afternoon. Take it from me: afternoon naps are evil. Don't do it. Through the course of the conversation, I was surprised I recalled such a wealth of detail of my childhood memories with Eve's bf, Mr. E. You see, Mr. E and I had loads of fun on the sunny tropical island of Singapore; some of which included catching spiders, setting the lower parts of the playground slide on fire with pure alcohol (so that it burns with an invisible flame... There are other playground users--use your imagination here), getting free drinks by plucking coconuts, concocting and hurling our first Molotov Cocktails, opening the sewer cover and setting his elder brother's turd on fire... etc. I guess it is true after all, one can never forget where one grew up. I do not miss the humidity though.

Just came to the realization that Eve and Mr. E share the same letter in their first names. Cute.

Anyways, in the course of the conversation, I was led to another blog : I thought it was rather cute, with its bubble-gum pop type pictures, pink background, flower motifs and such. The gratuitous use of obscenities, with ever more colorful descriptions of sexual couplings with the target's mother, was refreshing. More importantly, it made me feel old. I must admit that this prematurely-old geezer here prefers blogs more like these . I also enjoy Moby's journal .

I miss her.
It is rather frightening how anger can cloud other feelings, or other areas of our lives. I have been so angry the past 48 hours over the perceived injustice (see 5/3/05) that I did not even realize that the weekend is almost here, and, unknowingly missing her so much (in my subconscious), I had hardly chatted with her, or made plans for this weekend. Doh!

For AD&D, etc. fans only:

ChapelPaige: Oh tell me why, do we build castles in the sky?
@Apoc: to make them harder to assault
ChapelPaige: ...good point.
@Apoc Lets: see you get a trebuchet up here, bitch

4 AM now. Time for bed.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

The Emperor's New Clothes

There is a saying, "Clothes maketh the man," and, despite it being the unfortunate norm in society (I totally agree with Eve), I disagree and refuse to conform to it. Then again, I have been always known more as a reactionist, rather than a conformist. That's just me. You may have D&G, Abercrombie & Fich, Armani, CK, Hillfiger models on your walls, I have postcard images of Ted Kaczynski, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Mishima, and T. S. Eliot, on mine. We are all different; I am different. Deal with it. I believe brains make the man. Dress up an idiot in a suit, and he would still be an idiot in a suit. A genius in a suit or naked is still a genius. To be flippant (here I go again): Tommy Lee Jones in that "Big Bird Fried Chicken" mascot outfit still carries the gravitas of Tommy Lee Jones. One can dress up Chris Rock in a tuxedo and he would still be the whinny bitch that he is.

Not to get into another long-drawn discussion with Eve (blogs are for expressing our uniquely personal takes after all. Debates are better suited to forums/messageboards), but what I was getting at in my anecdote about Larry Ellison in t-shirt, shorts and sandals on Sunday mornings in the Palo Alto branch of "House of Bagels" is that Larry Ellison is still Larry Ellison with his personal jet, Oracle, house in Atherton (near Steve Jobs), and billions of dollars, regardless of what the strangers around him perceive him as. That was my point.

We had a famous author visiting recently: Augusten Burroughs. He wore jeans, a long sleeved shirt with cuffs unbuttoned and tucked outwards, under a sports jacket, sneakers and spotting a baseball cap turned backwards. Hardly anyone gave him the time of the day when he walked around campus BEFORE his Q&A session and lecture in the Recital Hall, ESPECIALLY the business students (I have a huge chip on my shoulder with regards to most business students (Economics exempted) who aren't already my friends, but more about that later). They just thought he was some drifter. BUT get this: after his identity became known, along with the REALLY IMPORTANT peripheral details like: his books have been on the New York Times Best Selling List multiple times, and that he is RICH, and also WELL-CONNECTED in Hollywood, all these shallow parasites start fawning over this Mr. Burroughs and kissing his ass. Suddenly, it's Soddom and Gomorrah! Jebus! Have some friggin' dignity, people! Oh, wait, that's impossible: you are business students; you will not only sell your souls, but publish a (poorly written) book about it. Never mind.

Now, before I get brickbats thrown at me (not that I care. *shrug* Read the First Amendment. BTW, here's my finger ), I don't detest ALL business majors, just those that are alive (hyuk!). Seriously, anyone who goes through college thinking a 5 to 7 paragraph essay (or a 6-paged essay) is a formidable task , and that PowerPoint is the be all and end all of presenting complex ideas is hardly getting an education. To misquote Jack Nicholson, you can probably get equivalent schooling "in some Panama Sailor wanna Hump-Hump Bar." Science and Theology majors rank far higher in my estimation. Most business students are on the same level as used-car salesmen, IMHO: they would sell their own mothers if there was profit in it.

Not to be arrogant, but, to THAT business student out there (you know who you are and I KNOW you are reading this) who said, in these exact words, "Ben can't write,": it must have been quite a shock for you to see my name on the board under the list of prize winners for essays on literary criticism and theory, eh?

Are you going to be saucy with your shoe now, Sirrah?
Or would you prefer a finger?

Here's a tip for you: Having Armani Exchange on your back has nothing to do with one's virtuosity with words (or lack thereof). How does it feel to be one-upped by someone shuffling around in a $14 ancient Hard Rock "Save the Earth" T-shirt circa 1996, I wonder?

That said, I am a magnanimous spirit though: I will write your epitaph for free. Leave instructions for your next-of-kin to contact me.

Exception No. 1: I WILL dress up to match my Significant Other. That is a mark of respect for your loved one.
As for the rest? Read below...

Exception No. 2: Through all these years, my stock reply to the those who comment on my being underdressed is to reply with sincere appreciation and reply with warm assurance that I will most definitely dress up for their funeral.

My personal creed is best voiced by Polonius, "This above all: to thine own self be true..."

I am. Are you?

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Grief came riding on the wind

Anyone else think the lyrics of this song bear more than a passing semblance to The Wasteland? I love this song... Anyone who watched Shrek 2 may recall the song, "People Just Ain't No Good." That song is also by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds.

Grief Came Riding, by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds

Grief came riding on the wind
Up the solemn River Thames
I was sitting on the bank with my mouth open
And I felt it entering

I began thinking about our wedding day
And how love was a vow
And I was thinking about the chamber door
Only we can enter now
I began thinking about our ancient friends
And of kissing them goodbye
And then the wind blew under Battersea Bridge
And a tear broke from my eye

I started thinking about London
How nothing good ever came from this town
And if the Thames weren’t so filthy
I would jump into the river and drown

Don’t be afraid
C’mon down
I’m just sitting here thinking aloud

Grief came riding on the wind
Up the river where the bridges crouch
Blowing people back and forth
From the marital bed to the psychiatric couch
Blowing people far apart
Blowing others so they collide
Blowing some poor bastard right out of the water
Blowing another one over the side

Hear the ancient iron-bridge
And listen to it groan
With the weight of a thousand people
Leaving or returning home
To their failures
To their boredoms
To their husbands and their wives
Who are carving them up for dinner
Before they even arrive

Don’t be afraid
C’mon down
I’m just sitting here thinking aloud

Now look there just below the water
See the Savior of the human race
With the fishes and the frogs
Has found His final resting place

Don’t be afraid
C’mon down
I’m just sitting here thinking of love.

Morpheus beckons... still & looking at a gift horse in the mouth

Argh... I was supposed to wake up at 7:30 AM (after going to sleep at 4:30 AM), but for the umpteenth time, I hit the snooze in my sleep and woke up at 9 AM, with barely any time to prepare for the 9:55 AM class. This blog is getting addictive. Must control. Must...

Aww heck! Here we go again! *grin*

So I had an interesting ICQ conversation with the very attractive gf of my childhood buddy/mountain biking buddy (what a mouthful!) this morning, and some of the contents of the conversation went into her recent blog. Our ICQ conversation had its impetus in my comments on her blog, delivered via ICQ through her bf. Ah, round and round we go: Joyce would be proud of us.

It was refreshing to look at my good ol'friend (but really young looking) through another lens. How time flies. He's an uncle and here am I still reminiscing about vodka, bongs, UC Santa Cruz, angry bulls charging in the moonlight, and screaming "stoned immaculate" humanities majors (Jim Morrison).

So this lonely little blog is now conversing with another blog out there. How weird is that? Intertexuality of blogs as a dissertation topic, anyone?

Anyways, I hardly think I am being grandiloquent with my prose. It just comes so naturally. It is like, well, asking a track driver to drive with less finesse on the road. On the other hand, this could be a symptom of reading writers and critics who are verbose. I love Faulkner and Nabokov, to give you an idea. And in terms of theory, I wish I could write like Gayatri Spivak. So I guess these loves and wishes must somehow percolate into my subconscious and cause me to "use big words." Did I mention that I love Samuel Johnson and periodic sentences as well? I should post a long sentence from V. S. Naipaul one of these days. It is a work of art; a testament of prosaic artistry. [Here is ONE sentence]:

One day, late in the summer, walking past the old farm buildings and what had been Jack's cottage and garden--the junk and ruins which had formed no part of Jack's vision of a world ever renewed, ruins to which now, across the droveway, was added a burning pit in the chalk for industrial-looking rubbish, the fire of which occasionally singed the silver birches planted years before to screen the old patch of waste ground--one day, walking past the farm and its spreading litter and on up to where the Swiss rolls of hay had been stacked and were already going black and brilliant green with new shoots of grass, I heard the sound of a great fire behind the young wood--and that wood was no longer young. (V. S. Naipaul, The Enigma of Arrival, pp. 80)

Next point (gosh, I hope this isn't turning into one of those essays!): why did I lie next to "Ellie" all night and did nothing? Well, charges of heterosexual (and then some...) homo sapien males being rutting canines by nature aside, thinking back, I just didn't feel it between us. I mean, she was attractive and cute, and certainly not overweight. Bottomline is: I have no idea. I would like to believe that I treasured the friendship too much to ruin it, but that's probably romanticized nostalgia. Till this day, I have no idea, no explanation.

Now we get to the issue of the "slim fanatic." I like to reiterate my stance that "attractiveness is relative," because "attractiveness" can have many forms. Someone may be physically attractive but ethically/morally repulsive. Ted Bundy certainly fits the bill. Is he attractive? Physically, maybe. Similarly, someone may be unattractive physically, but gorgeous intellectually. Of course, the opposite is also true. The following is a true anecdote:

PROFESSOR: Michelle, would you give us your impressions of Margaret Atwood's _A Handmaid's Tale_?

MICHELLE: Oh, [flashes her dazzling, perfectly aligned, whitened teeth] it's good. [Bats mascara-ed eyelashes]

PROFESSOR: Um... O...K... Perhaps you will like to elaborate on that a little more?

MICHELLE: Oh, [wrinkles forehead a little in concentration] it was VERY good! [Sits prettily, triumphant]

I think you get the idea.

Back to the "slim fanatic" issue. I think firstly, we need to distinguish between "friends" we associate with, and "potential partners." (And no, no, no, I'm not proposing "the Ladder Theory" here.) In the former category, I think a blanket discrimination seems unjustifiable and borders on bigotry. Some of my closest friends are plus-sized people. However, in the latter category, neither defence nor justification is necessary. I could point to examples like this MRI scan of two women : one in the normal range of the BMI index, and the other, um.. well... let's just leave it at that--BUT I won't. I will instead refer to an ancient proverb: De gustibus non est disputandum, or "There's no accounting for tastes." We are all different and unique. It would be a sad, sad world if all of us are only attracted to one type of people. Of course, the IBM drones must love that: a world of beige/gray boxes; how quaint. Even the prophylactics are probably gray... Oww... what a wet dream for Big Blue. (Hey, what can you expect from a company that has its own anthem? Can you say Kim Jung Il redux?)

Chicks who are tomboyish are the hottest, IMHO. The "Save Me! Save Me!" damsels in distress types get tiring after a while. There is very little that is sexier than a lady who can take care of herself, and hold her own. One of the professors I admire completed her Bachelors, Masters and PhD in unprecedented record time, but she also holds degrees in Akido and can whoop your ass. How sexy is that? A very special friend who lived beside me when I resided in this quaint Victorian house in Palo Alto is one of the sexiest women I know. She taught Mechanical Engineering (Plastics) part-time at Stanford, is an expert welder, loves book discussions, doesn't mind getting her hands greasy, her clothes grass-stained under her car with me, and was the inventor of the concept of BYPO (Bring Your Pillow Over), where the gang of us (the house consists of 2 studios, 3 one-bedroom apartments) would just cram into one room up and watch movies. And, oh yes, there will be food too! Nachos, chips, salsa, falafel, pop-corn, etc. Now that definitely was cozy and fun!

Thought of this when I was making coffee this morning:

Diamonds are forever, but marriage ain't?
Heck, many marriages don't even last until death (do us part).
Now, don't get me wrong, the last thing I desire is a situation where a wife is unwillingly trapped in a marriage. I would imagine being set on fire in the dead of the night, in bed, by an angry wife, would result in some significant damage to the libido, other injuries not withstanding, but if two people enter a marriage with the attitude that it IS only until death that they part, I believe that more marriages will stand a higher chance of working out. Standard disclaimers apply: i.e. I am not advocating the legalization of spousal homicide; I plea the 5th with regards to the question of whether I hold stock interests in the "medical practice" of Dr. Kevorkian.

Seriously, that is one of my biggest beef with the entire marriage industry: it makes a mockery of the vows when you swear before the public official (if you are secular) or the priest, and yet, possess the option to annul the union within a year, or divorce later. Why have the vows at all then? Why not just cohabit or have a common-law marriage?

6:23 PM: Interesting afternoon today: an unpleasant ending to a great start. I got my head bitten off for asking what I thought was a legitimate question in class: MLA or APA? And what the hell does it have to do with the type of computer and operating system I am using? One can employ MLA or APA on a typewriter or in longhand. Bah, PeeCee users and their sheep mentality (it is the most common platform, therefore, it must be good--read: lowest common denominator): bahhhhhhhhh! P.S. enjoy your spyware, malware, viruses, etc. While you are trying to get your WindBlows PeeCee to work, I'm doing work on my Macintosh.

I suspect the underlying cause is showing the professor up with regards to security chains for bicycles (he scoffed at the suggestion of getting "a chain that cannot be cut," and I proved not only that they exist, but that I use one everyday). In all fairness, I wasn't the one who showed up bitching and whining to the class about having his bike ripped off (again). Oh well, I guess I will be hearing the complaints of his 3rd bike stolen on campus sometime this quarter... Like I said in my previous post, I am giving up this personal quest of helping bicyclists on campus safeguard their bikes. The acceptance rate is like 1 in 15. Yep, so I am disillusioned. Why should I care? It is like casting pearls before swine. Let be. I've got better things to do with my time.

So... "Enjoy shopping for your replacement bike! Just know that every time another bike theft complaint appears under "Incidents Report" in the campus papers, there is someone out there with a heavy titanium-boron-steel-alloy security chain (which costs more than your entire Wally-World, Walmart bike) enjoying a bout of schadenfreude with his paper and latte..."


Monday, May 02, 2005

Cathexis, God as Superman, platonic friends, and bicycle thieves

So I learned a new term today: "cathect," a term from psychology where the individual vests the responsibility for his emotional (and mental?) state on to another being, or object. It is supposedly common in dysfunctional relationships. And so, I did some surfing on the net (try explaining that phrase to someone in the 80s) and found "cathexis." And in the entry under it, is written:

- we can only love that which we allow to become important to us. But if something becomes important to us, there is a risk we may lose it or be rejected. Love anything that lives and it will die. Trust anybody and you may be hurt. Depend on anyone and you may be let down. The price of cathexis is pain.

- to avoid this risk means doing without many things - getting married, having children, the ecstasy of sex, the hope of ambition, friendship - all that makes life alive, meaningful and significant.

- move out or grow in any dimension and pain as well as happiness will be your reward. A full life will be full of pain. But the only alternative is not to live fully or not to live at all.

- the essence of life is change. Elect life and growth, and you elect change and the prospect of death.
when we shy away from death, we inevitably shy away from life.

- awareness of death, helps us realize how precious our time is & the need to make the most of it.

I guess the flippant (I am the undisputed grandmaster of overusing and misusing this word--only President Bush has even the remotest chance of beating me in this malapropistic contest) would summarize the blurb above as "No pain, no gain," but I am no masochist either. Love but love wisely, I guess.

And pray wisely too. Nick Cave has this song, "Oh My Lord," with the most haunting lyrics:

Be mindful of the prayers you send
Pray hard but pray with care
For the tears that you are crying now
Are just your answered prayers
The ladders of life that we scale merrily
Move mysteriously around
So that when you think you`re climbing up, man
In fact you`re climbing down
Into the hollows of glamour, where with spikes and hammer
With telescopic camera, they chose to turn the screw
Oh I hate them, Ma! Oh I hate them, Pa!
Oh I hate them all for what they went and done to you
Oh Lord Oh my Lord
Oh Lord
How have I offended thee?
Wrap your tender arms round me
Oh Lord Oh Lord
Oh My Lord

It lies at the same level of despair as Jeff Buckley's version of "Hallelujah," IMHO. Loss of love, loss of God, how far apart are the two?

Leaving despair aside, 2 very close friends whom I love very, very much asked me to officiate their wedding at a resort in Mexico. I was stumped for words, and beyond honored and touched at such a request. I really hope to be able to perform the ceremony for them. There is very little out that that makes me happier than to join two such wonderful beings together in matrimony. Of course that would mean I need to get some sort of... um.. clerical qualifications in a hurry. As I am not baptized yet, I have no qualms with it, as the end is all good. I like to imagine God as someone like Akhil Sharma's "Krishna with blue skin, a flute and a dhoti morphing into Superman with a cardigan": in other words, He is not fussy.

In other news (old news for those readers on my ICQ list), my brother is getting engaged on the 22nd of this month. He's a Baptist and I consider myself Catholic, and so there is always some sort of tension between us (we love each other though. We just get into so many heated arguments over theology and rituals over dinner than Mum banned discussions of religion at the dinner table). Anyways, here is an excerpt of our "warm" and brotherly conversation:

MY BROTHER: Dude, aren't you gonna attend my wedding?

ME: Nah, too busy, but I will be there for your next one. Promise.

MY BROTHER: Burn in hell, bro!

Maybe I should change my name to "Cain." It is not only a one-syllable name, but ends on the same letter as well.

Read the blog of my childhood friend/ mountain biking buddy's (yes, I bicycle a lot...) gf this evening, and she made mention of the issue of platonic friendships between opposite sexes. Hmm... That's a tough one to crack. I must admit I find the concept of the fuck-buddy totally alien. Call me old fashion (or even--GASP!--slightly feminine) but I think an emotional connection eventually arises out of coitus. But I digress (and very often too!). There must be chemistry and a level of sexual attraction from BOTH parties for a platonic relationship to be in danger of changing into a romantic relationship. Case in point: I have this friend. Both of us are English majors. Both of us are a perfect fit intellectually and interest wise. She also had the hots for me. But I just wasn't interested in her as a girlfriend. I treasured her as a friend though. And believe me, I tried to see her as attractive "in that way." It just didn't work. It's the equivalent of attempting to convince me that the phrases, "French technology" and "Gallic valor," do not fall under the category of oxymorons. No way, Jose; it's not going to work.

Here's another true story:
I had this platonic female friend. Let's call her Ellie. She had a thing for me (I never knew, so dense was I). So, after a couple of years of having no results, she decided to make a last-ditch attempt at me: after treating me to an expensive aged-steak dinner, she said the night was too young, and requested that I take her on a fun drive. So I took her into the mountains via HW 9 in my modified Supra Turbo.

Several times in the course of the drive, she would point out to several look-out/Vista Points, and remark how nice a view it must be from there. All I replied was, "Uh uh" or "Watch how fast I can take the reducing-radius turn ahead." After 45 minutes, feeling nauseous, she gave up and asked to be taken home.

OK, so I took her home. She asked me to stay for the night and just talk all night. I think, "Oh, OK, why not?" As I climbed on to her bed, I noticed her taking something with a glass of water, and so I asked. She said it was birth-control pills. When I pointed out that she doesn't have a bf, she replied, "just in case" and smiled at me.

Well, we talked a long while, and I dozed off. The next morning, I happily drove home. I did nothing that night but talk and sleep. She never called me again.

When I die, the DoD is going to disinter my cadaver and use my brain as a replacement for depleted uranium projectiles.

However, if I am attracted to this individual, then the "What if?" and "Just maybe..." mentioned by the very attractive gf of my childhood buddy inevitably go through my head. That is not to say that a course of pursance will follow though. We CHOOSE to love. I like to believe in that.

That is not to say that it is not painful to pine and love from a distance though, as anyone who has read Kazuo Ishiguro's The Remains of the Day, or watched its movie adaptation, can attest.

A substantial number of bicycles have been stolen from campus lately. My one-man campaign to convince individuals that many of their U-locks are practically useless have fallen on deaf ears. Here is a picture of how easy it is to defeat a significant number of U-locks out there:

A 5 cent BIC pen, 30 seconds or less, and your bike is gone.
Laugh at my heavy uncuttable chain and lock all you want, dude.
Enjoy shopping for your replacement bicycle *smirk*

Last but not least, here is another blasphemous joke to deflect accusations of me being a bible-thumper:

Mrs_Grima_Wormtongue: My dad once said that we should just combine Hanukah, Groundhog Day and Easter.  We spin the dreidl, and if it lands on "Nun," Jesus has to stay on the cross for 6 more weeks.

In the spirit of ecumenicalism, since I have been exclusively focusing on Christianity with my irreverent jokes, it is only fair that I have a go at Islam as well: enjoy the lyrics of this song.

Behead me, my sweet beheadable you
Behead me, you irreplaceable you

Just one look at your mask
My heart grew tipsy in me
You and your scimitar alone
Bring out the gypsy in me

I love all the many charms about you
Above all, I want my arms unbound, you

Don't be a naughty jihadi
Come to Allah, come to Allah do
My sweet beheadable you

Aural heaven

Well, I've been accepted into the church choir as a baritone. Once I got over my initial nervousness, I discovered that I can sing, and since I'm not talented enough to be a soloist, it is not too different from singing in the congregation, except I get to sing louder, and am required to do so with more precision. Standing in the apse, looking outwards to the church doors, I also get a different view of the mass. It was quite a novel experience. Looking forward to next Sunday now. The soloist, a petite lady, has a voice to die for. It feels like she could steal your soul when she lets her vocals soar in the depth of the night (our mass is from 10 PM to 11:30 PM). We sang a very special version of "Ave Maria" tonight, with lyrics in Latin and English. It was touching and beautiful in its simplicity.

We had a guest priest officiating the service tonite: he is from East L. A., and through him, we heard many tales that seem alien and remote from the safety of our bubble on this campus. This Valentine's Day, he buried the 134th member of his congregation. The deceased was mowed down by a hail of bullets as he climbed into his car to drive to a new job and a new life. Working with reformed gangbangers must take a stoic heart.

It is 12:56 AM now. I have a paper due at an 8 AM class, and the paper still requires about an hour of work on it. Oh fun! I shouldn't complain; I could be mowed down in a hail of bullets instead (with due contrition for defying the venerable Dr. Johnson for this invalid comparison). I will choose spending the hour on the paper, thank you very much.

Just read this passage while researching for material for my paper (due in 5 hours 20 mins), and I just HAD TO type it out:

For your Americans outside the white middle class, the juxtaposition of mass culture and their parents' values could be disturbing and discordant. In _The Woman Warrior_, Maxine Hong Kingston describes how she watched Betty Grable in "Oh You Beautiful Doll" and subverted her mother's attempt to marry her off to a FOB - Fresh Off the Boat. When young men, new to America, were invited to look her over, she dropped dishes and spilled soup on them. (Sheila Rowbotham, _A Century of Women: The History of Women in Britain and the United States_, pp. 336)

Too funny! A close friend, a former classmate of mine, used to work with Professor Kingston up north in UC Berkeley for a while.

3:11 AM now: and I thought the essay only needed 1 more hour of work. Yeah, right.
At least I am only doing the documentation phase now.

4 AM: DONE! And 2 of my favorite 3 songs on Moby's latest CD, "Hotel" played in succession on random--in my preferred order too! Time to sleep for 3 hours... and then classes until 5 PM.
I predict a lot of coffee is in order...

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Ah, work!

"Work, work, work!" or so goes the refrain of the song sung by the UnderPants Gnomes in South Park. Looking at the sunny world outside, through angled-blinds, I reminisce and fantasize about mountain biking or hiking here right now:

But work must be done. So there.

Right now, I am using a book, The Oxford Companion to Women's Writings in the United States, as reference in a paper I'm writing. I looked at the bookmark, and realized that I purchased this book in the Summer of 2000 in La Jolla, San Diego, at a Crown Books store not too far from where my best friend/mountain biking buddy lived. How time flies...

It was a strange trip; I completed Dostoevsky's Brothers Karamazov in a week; got to know the beach real well; got introduced to Fat Burger joints; traded books with a cute blonde UC San Diego student (her book, The Hundred Secret Senses, by Amy Tan for my Grendel, by John Gardner); and experienced the nightlife of San Diego.

Back to work...

I miss Point Bonita...

Waking up past noon...

Good morning! (Good afternoon rather...)
What a nap! I feel like a drunk the morning after. I used to detest Sundays, for it always had the specter of Monday and the rest of the week hanging over it, but now I actually look forward to it. The 10 PM mass is magical (that's the best word this wordsmith can come up with here at this moment with his coffee-addled noggin'): with its congregation of lost souls assembling in an ancient-style Spanish Mission Church, in the glow of incandescent-lamps-disguised-as-flickering-candles, and singing praise, glory and honor to the Lord. The experience recharges me for the week ahead, and reminds me that there exist some things more important and permanent than the little slings and arrows which assault our petty daily lives.
And, no, I am no bible-thumper. And to prove that, here's a blasphemous joke for you:

QUESTION: What would Jesus do?

ANSWER: Altar boys?

I miss someone very much, and the feeling scares me. To me, when a friend drags you out in an attempt to lift you from your blues, it seems almost like a betrayal to fall for her. For what the friend offers is companionship and friendship; to ask for more is tantamount to being an ungracious guest in the home of a generous host. But the brain doesn't listen to the heart. Each time I see her, my heart skips a beat (OMG, she just appeared on ICQ... *smile*). And I long to see her each weekend. Each time I go out with her, I only fall for her more. How does one understand the heart?

And how does one know if this is a rebound? For it seems unconscionable to hurt the friend who came to your (emotional) rescue by (consciously or unconsciously) "using" her as a rebound. A close friend gave me this wonderful analogy. You see, he was sitting on a skateboard eating lunch behind Kenna Hall when I chanced upon him. He pointed that the long concrete "bench" wasn't perfectly level, but sort of slopes down to a lowest point in the center before rising again, like a really gentle valley. As a result, he could have fought the tug of gravity as he ate, seated on his skateboard, but he didn't, he let his feet go. And as he coasted up and down along the bench, he ate his lunch, allowing the natural process to determine his final resting position. And so should I with regards to my situation, he opined.

Chanced upon this video tribute last week. It really touched me. The pictures were gorgeous and possess an unspeakable profound quality. My only critique of it is the capitalist advertisement at the end, but hey, I guess the creators of the video must be allotted their due credit, eh? (And no, I'm not some CAL pinko/commie...)

Video Tribute to the late John Paul II