Thursday, January 31, 2008

the essence of charm

"our environment is in peril...."says the candidate to the country.
and i think, "peril...what a great word so often neglected."
and it is here where i find my achilles heel, my sweet spot, my unbuttoned fly.
she gives a flawless opening statement and i think, "she really knows her shit."
i know that she is  more experienced and i know that she is highly intelligent.
i know that she is more qualified for the job on every level. 
he begins to speak, and its....natural. 
he stutters, he takes his time, almost as if he has not memorized anything and he knows we will forgive him of that if it sounds more off the cuff.
he thanks the candidate they defeated, he thanks his competitor, he does all the right things but i am not convinced.
but when he speaks, he has a way of tying language together like a poet.
"our environment is in peril."
and i am won. not so much in my brain, but he speaks to my heart and in the end thats really all we have to go on. our nature. our gut. our instinct.
i tivo the debate because the streaming video will not work and it seems to cut out whenever he is speaking. 
i retreat and postpone the decision until i can watch it without buffering, determined to make a smart choice that is highly informed of both candidates platforms.
the truth is, they are both incredibly engaging....
but i know where my heart lies...in words.
i am moved.
i am hopeful.
i am charmed. 



Wednesday, January 30, 2008

casinos: america's apology

"on all my college applications i checked 'other' when they asked my ethnicity."
she laughs, butterfly eyelashes wide.
"whatever, i'm one/fourth armenian, that counts."
only in america do we identify ourselves by other countries.
"hell yeah it counts! and they were persecuted."
"armenian genocide, dude."
"were you the one i was talking to about armenians?"
"no," i scoop up the last bits of hummus on my plate with a tahini drenched pita.
"my friend and i were talking about how, like, what if the armenians were aloud to go into
turkey and set up casinos?"
"kind of like reparations?" 
"yeah, or like the jews setting up a morongo in germany?"
"casinos: the ultimate apology."
"totally."
we laugh at things that are not funny, but i read somewhere once that comedy and tragedy were almost the same thing.
i try to find that quote and come up with two different ones, one old and one new to me. 
"Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when you walk into an open sewer and die," by the great Mel Brooks. 
That sounds about right.
But what strikes me is the quote above Mel's.
"The world is a tragedy to those who feel, but a comedy to those who think."
Horace Walpole 1717-1797.
I search wikepedia in shame. i know this is not a reliable source, but it is easy and i am not writing a term paper.
afterwards the only thing i can really remember is that he lived to be 79 years old in the 1700's and that his sexual orientation was always in speculation.
has the whole world turned into tmz.com or is it because of the world that we have tmz.com?
define tragedy. define comedy.
i am looking forward to finding my own quote.
Perhaps, tragedy is reserved for the perspective of youth and comedy can only be attained by age.
either way, tmz blows.



Tuesday, January 29, 2008

the hearing of loss

i was going to start this blog with an excerpt of a conversation i had with one of the most important people in my world.
and then i stopped myself, for even though a blog is an excellent outlet and a great tool to get over the fear of writing and more importantly the fear of being judged, some things should remain sacred.
define boundaries. 
tonight i realized the dangers a blog presents and why diaries remain so popular. 
i keep a diary, though it tends to just churn whatever feelings i am trying to express right back into my head, spilling them out onto another blank piece of paper only to have it seep right back in through my fingertips.
wash, rinse, repeat. 
four executives in their early forties stood near my desk at work and condemned "internet social networking."
"i just don't get it."
"its this generation's way of maintaining friendships without maintaining it at all."
"how are those friendships?"
shitty friendships exist everywhere. and everyone has that one friend that you don't really care for anymore but can never seem to shed.
what i find that these four executives fail to discuss is whether a generation defines the times or the times define a generation?
we raise this generation in the womb of a bustling technology movement and then shun them 
when it becomes an acceptable form of communication.
two assistants in their mid twenties sit around a communal kitchen table and discuss facebook, myspace, blogging, im, craigslist, email...
"just because i send a message to an old friend on facebook doesn't mean they're not really my friend. i mean, shit, how many times a year do people actually pick up the phone and call that old college roommate?"
"yeah, i mean, its part of our culture...as a generation."
what i find these two assistants fail to discuss is whether a generation defines the culture or a culture defines the generation. 
i go with the former. true culture cannot exist without sophistication and in order to create sophistication one must draw rules, maybe even unspoken rules, that design the culture.
it is our responsibility as a generation, a fortunate generation with an abundant amount of freedom, to draw those rules in a time when personal freedom is the ultimate goal.
it is our responsibility to define what is sacred and what is public.
it is our responsibility to create a code of ethics, but one we can actually follow and not just post on a blog as the daily diatribe.
without holding ourselves to a higher stander, all we have is narcissism on a united front; a glorified generational conceit with no purpose of bettering the world and certainly no focus on bettering ourselves.
all we are is a recycled ennui with the world at our feet, but no tools to help us navigate.
define existentialism.
"the internet is ruining our culture," he tells me.
ah...the hearing of loss...
"not ruining, its redefining it, but its up to the people to shape it."
define idealism.
"where do we start?"
when we sacrifice a two minute mildly interesting blog for the privacy of a potentially personal moment or anecdote shared with someone we love, the world becomes a better place and more importantly we become a part of it again. 
and when we approach the world with the perspective of someone sharing as opposed to someone deserving, or someone sacrificing as opposed to someone taking, we create a culture that stems from a place of respect, selflessness, and love.
And what could be more powerful than that?

Monday, January 28, 2008

the birds and the bees

she opens the door and i stand there armed with a 12 pack of dr. pepper for him and some stolen diet sodas for us. 
she has a glow about her that i've noticed more and more.
"are you wearing make up?"
"not more than usual, but i did try this new moisturizer."
she lets me in and within five minutes they offer me items from their home-
"oh, i have another bag of clothes for you,"
- or closet that they are trying to get rid of. 
they could sell the stuff they offer me, but they always ask if i would like it first.
it feels like family and i am immediately comfortable.
i ask if i can help with anything in the kitchen and as usual they say no.
"i am really into my new spatula," she holds up a bright blue spatula ready to mix her homemade chili.
there is a charm to this friend of mine that she has had since the moment i met here. 
she operates a bit like a song on a radio, humming along to the beat of her own tune...
and its probably some oldies station where even though people sing about the blues, every song has a bit of warmth and happiness, however ironic it may be.
we start our motors until our tongues tire and we make sure to get every ounce of pent up frustration onto the dining room table.
he comes and joins us somewhere in the middle-
the wise sage-
- an old soul among the static.
he has always had a calmness about him that attracts people to him like an old fashioned magnet, even though i know that is not what exists inside him.
he is the owner of one of the brightest smiles i have ever seen; the kind that changes your whole face and lights your eyes up the size of saucers.
he offers his priceless two cents whenever he can interject the two of us and we continue to make him forget his point.
"poor scottie...always having to listen to me chirp," she laughs at herself with her blue spatula in her hand and he laughs with her.
it strikes me that these two have their own radio station and they're the only two songs playing.
they offer me advice, the kind i only take from them, which at its core always comes from a place of making sure to love all people.
define compassion.
and i listen to these two buzz around each other-an electricity of their own -and it makes me incredibly grateful for the moments i get to spend with them.


Sunday, January 27, 2008

when the rain comes

this is a love letter to the man i love dear.
i am posting this on my blog because i want to thank you.
i would say it is a public thank you, but the truth is its only you and me reading this anyway.
but it feels a little more poetic like this rather than an email.
i suppose it should really be a hand written letter sprayed with my idea of what perfume should be and sealed with a burt's bees chapstick kiss.
but i know that you will see this tomorrow, and if you close your eyes maybe the smell of white musk and peppermint oil will come through.

today was hard.
the miles are catching up to us, though i gotta say you play it a lot more cool than i do.
"i'm hanging on by a thread here."
"to what?"
"to everything."
i tell you that i feel like my emotions are in the driver seat and i'm the annoying backseat driver that everyone wishes would just shut up.
and we laugh and a couple days pass and conversations go well and we think we have made it through a tough time...
and then the rain comes...
and we realize we are just in the thick of it.
you tell me to hang on. just a little while longer and we will be able to start our life together.
and i try to keep fighting. 
try to keep closing my heart because it makes it easier to go through the day here without an open wound. 
and you take it. you never get off the phone first. you tell me that you love me. you ask me what i want you  to do. you never quit even when i have given you every reason to.
i hang up the phone after an outpouring that i am not particularly proud of and i think, "shit...i guess he really does love me."
define patience.
define passion.
"love is a feeling that is not hard to explain."
i think about that.
"you of all people should know that."
"why?"
"because you're a romantic." 
you caught me and you know it and we laugh. 
i hate being called such naive things...even when i know its true.
define love.
you have a way of making me discover myself in the places i hate to look.
define patience.
i sit at my desk which is clean for the first time in months, never mind the floor, and i see these two pictures of us caught in two very different times in our lives and my heart beats just a little bit faster.
and i say to myself, "goddman...i love this guy."
i tell you to meet me halfway. i tell you to come and get me. i tell you not to buy a ticket out here. 
i tell you, i tell you...
all the things i don't want to say but happen to make their way to the surface and yet all i really want to say is thank you.
all i really want to say is that i love you.
all i really want to say is that i'm hurting for so many other reasons that have nothing to do with us and at the same time, everything that has to do with us...that is, if we're really going to do this, babe.
all i really want to say is that i think you are the strongest and yet most loving human being ever.
all i really want to say is that i am better when in your presence.
all i really want to say is that when the rain comes, don't wear your raincoat. 
i promise the wet clothes are worth it.




Saturday, January 26, 2008

the gypsy queen

she digs up old maps, phone bills and receipts thrown together in a plastic bin as if she were chased from her house by a raging fire and the only thing she could do was knock every document on her desk into said bin.
2003...a map of new york, pay stubs for a job in vermont, airfare to ireland, a receipt for a hostel in barcelona, a receipt to a bar in scotland, a lift ticket in massachusetts, a letter to a friend never sent
2004...kinkos, chipotle, rite aid, chevron, chevron, shell, airfare to salt lake city, hotel receipts from phoenix arizona, another letter never sent
2005...airfare to dallas, pay stubs for various temp jobs, a metrocard, chevron, chevron, shell, receipts from 31 states, a receipt to the waffle house in georgia
2006...airfare to new york, metrocards, airfare to reno, lift tickets to tahoe and big bear, bank statements, printed out playlists of nick's mix volumes 4 & 5, lots and lots of movie stubs
2007...a map of new zealand, airfare to reno, airfare to new york, a map of joshua tree, airfare to chicago, airfare to new jersey, airfare to colorado, another credit card statement, movie stubs, a receipt for nick's coffee shop...I'm beginning to like that name.
years of history, memories, some almost rubbed bare all clipped together in organized messes with no system to abide by.
the maps find their ways to the walls though they may not hang there for long and it brings her some comfort. the kind of comfort a home or the smell of a lover might bring...
but for now, she hangs these maps in places around her room that don't make sense.
and she files these receipts into binders that are serious and black and stark. 
something about hundreds of loose papers floating around a hot pink bin gave the leftovers of all those years a kind of life that seemed to extend the adventures just a little bit longer. she would use that bin as her nightstand; never knowing all the while that the light upon the nightstand was merely a spotlight for the burbling stage below, and all the papers-players. 
"i feel like i'm going crazy out here" she says and he tries to understand.
but can anyone truly understand anyone else's plight?
Define crusade.
so the filing of seven years continues, memories march into chronological order and wrinkled maps hang in awkward places on white walls, but if you look closely enough, the reasons she hangs them are carried in the creases.

Friday, January 25, 2008

the importance of taking a walk in the rain, especially in los angeles

i don't own a raincoat and I never have. 
born and bred in los angeles, i have never found the real need for one.
even the years i lived in new york or the times i lived in ireland, i never bought a raincoat.
the idea of it seemed tragic in the most melodramatic way.
the first morning i woke up in new york, the sky was gray and it was raining.
foolish los angeleno, i bundled up in my layers of cotton only to be unleashed into a deceiving
80 percent humidity, 90 degrees sweltering Manhattan.
Define naivete. 
i'd never experienced rain in the heat. it made the city feel like the most exciting place on earth where nothing was as it seemed. like magic. 
which may be part of the reason i romanticize that place more than any other.
the sky broke and the only break from the heat were the sprinkles of condensation dropping from the thousands of tired air conditioners outlining the buildings of New York City.
rain can transform a city. it can clean a city, washing it free from all of its indiscretions.
and in los angeles the indiscretions are maturing at a steady pace, nesting in every corner of the city.
rain in la always felt like finally you were given a brand new day. like the continuous monotony of 75 degrees and sunshine had numbed the feeling of a brand new day out of its inhabitants. 
rain was exciting. like the gray in the sky finally gave you a moment to feel all the colors on the inside. 
Define nostalgia.
sometimes i think i never bought a rain coat to catch up on all that magic...or maybe it was to dispose of my own indiscretions. either way, the wet clothes have always been worth it.


Thursday, January 24, 2008

finding humility on highway 330

"i'm sorry," he says.
"I know your sorry." I look away from him, not because I am mad at him, but because I am disappointed with myself.
We had such a lovely day and still we manage to fall into these roles when a situation or our environment becomes strained. Like trained robots with a default for dysfunction.
And I watch him running up the side of the road to flag help, but I know that he's really doing it because he feels bad.
And then I feel bad. Why do I react the way I do to him? Why am I so hard?
Throughout his life, he has never done anything on purpose to hurt me or make my life complicated.
He always tries to do the right thing, and yet when the right thing turns into three hours stranded on the side of the road, I get so angry at him for even trying in the first place.
Then I try to make it better by calming him down or cracking some dumb joke but I know that he sees through that.
We are never as clever as we think we are, especially when it comes to family.
And after flagging several motorists down, a fight with AAA, and a "Hail Mary" call to 911...
I remember that there are wire cutters under my seat.
He takes them from me and in five minutes cuts us out of the situation.
I am humbled.
I am sorry.
I am embarrassed.
Define humility.

I see his apartment and I ask to use the bathroom.
It is immaculate. Not even a drop of toothpaste spit or water marks around the sink. It is orderly, neat, organized.
I go into his room. The bed is made. There are no clothes on the floor. Every picture has a frame and the things that matter to him are delicately and perfectly placed around his room.
It is calm.
It is focused.
It is serene.
How did he get this? Where did he get this?
And it strikes me that even though I am older, there may be a lot I can learn from my younger brother.
Define humility.

"I'm glad you do everything before me," he says. "So, like, in two years when I want to quit my job and travel across the country and have no idea how I'm going to make money, I'll just do it. Cause you will already have done it."
I adore this kid.
"Or," I say, "you may be a lot better off and a lot more successful at 26 then I was."
He laughs.
Define adoration.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The death of a promise

"Heath Ledger found dead in New York City..."
And the world mourns.
What is it about this death, this actor's death that makes us all feel even the slightest, yet undeniable twinge of loss?
We hold the celebrity up like modern day gods while at the same time capturing them shopping, feeding parking meters, eating and we tag these celluloid infernos "They're just like us," humanizing them in a way that shames us all.
Why do we look?
Why does Britney Spears taking a trip to a gas station make more news than the Kenyan Marathon Runner killed in violent riots crumbling his country?
Amy Winehouse walks the streets of London in a bra, crying. A ghost treading halfway between life and death or rather a shadow of what she used to be.
Brad Renfro dies and we are saddened, but comforted by the idea that "you saw that coming," as so many people casually passed in circles of friends.
What is it about these people's pain that we crave to see plastered all over the country? Is it to pity or perhaps judge the self-destructive spiral we all have inherent in us?
Is it to anticipate loss?
Is it to connect or disconnect?
And then out of nowhere, someone with promise, someone who was not caught in their most vulnerable and conflicted moments...falls...and we are hit with an unmistakable punch in the gut.
The loss of our James Dean.
I did not know Heath Ledger. But his death feels as if maybe somewhere we had met in passing, shared a few intimate moments about life and then drifted on by, much like most of the acquaintances I've held in my life. Somewhere they leave an imprint though where it is can often be hard to locate.
Is it the death of a promise that hurts? The promise of youth and art and talent and beauty all succeeding and manifesting into characters that we all related to on same basic human level? The loss of connecting in an universal and yet very personal way?
Or is the reminder of our own fragile mortality?
Is it the reminder that the idea of happiness is just exactly that?
We can never imagine how unhappy some people must be.
We can never imagine how alone some people must feel.
Tragedy takes on a new meaning.
How does one keep their dignity in a society that profits off stripping those that we admire?
Define dignity.