Tuesday, February 28, 2006

into the fray with rocky balboa

i was recollecting this morning an image of my cousin patrick "studying" at our house during his days of training to become a priest.

he would read lofty and philosophical texts, like thomas aquinas as if it was as easy as munching on an apple. during his seminary years, he wrote big papers addressing theological and historical issues- he's always been quite the scholarly, academic one in the family. but then again, he is also a proud member of the NRA and loves to email photos of his latest hunting trophies (he was the one to introduce me to rattlesnake meat- tastes like chicken...)

anyways i remember when he would take breaks from writing this massive thesis he was working on during his last year, he watched the rocky movies. so each "break" consisted of a rocky I or II or III or IV viewing and then subsequent push-ups and a run around the block, complete with headband circling his forehead, sweat gleaming on his face like diamonds- the victor able to tackle the next section of thesis that lay ahead.

i have always held a soft spot for rocky balboa...maybe it's the surly way he mutters "eh-driehh", maybe it's that he didn't give in when the going got rough. maybe it's that survivor song "eye of the tiger", reminding me of speed rollerskating back in the day. but i think of patrick too and what it looks like to shoulder on, pressing ahead into the fray with sweat glistening like beads of glory.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

my funny valentine & culture as a catalyst

when mishap and misfortune strike, i think there is nothing so keen as culture that plays into one's reactions. i have been camped out in psalm 91 and would encourage you to check it out; it's been very healing. the past two weeks have been challenging at best- to name a few of the challenges, in no particular order:
-- in a car accident, which totalled my car (two days before val's day/aka hallmark's marketing coup gone global)
-- sustained whiplash from said accident
-- have been reclusive and nuzzling an ice pack at night
-- hopes dashed in a specific situation

and here's one of the things that struck me last week as i am forced to take life slower and be more still: my upbringing/my culture is not the same as everyone else's. big shocker to you my dear reader and friend because i'm sure you would agree with that statement, but here is where our paths diverge. i sometimes think the only person i know who can really understand me is my dad. why? because he is like me part dutch and part bolivian- he has all the orderliness and love of plans, details and projects, as well as a joy of travel and languages tied into our dutch lineage. but on the flip side he also possesses the bombastic passions and fire that come with being latino, where things are almost always in some vivid color, never in muted tones, where drama is life and life possesses its own drama, more real than any telenovella or opera.

i think it has always been a note of consternation that i will not be understood. and i would be inclined to sew a stitch deeper into that thought by saying that's why i cherish my relationship with God. because when the people around me think i am being melodramatic or can't make hair nor hide out of the happenings in my life, He just smiles on, so aware of the curves of my face and body, of the mischevious twinkle in my eye, all put there by Him. He delights in me. and what may be even more of a shocker is that He delights in you.

today an acquaintance reminded me as she spoke about "our distinctive purpose"- that there is nothing done by accident. that my ethnicity gives me a cultural insider perspective in some cultures that no pure westerner might be able to get. and so on this evening of watching the grey skies get greyer, seeing raindrops pelt the windows, i am aware that He sees all of this; He sees me. and the best part is He "gets" me.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

what do you think?

if you are my good friends, please call me because i have something important to tell you that i don't want to blog about and could really use your prayers right now...
totally unrelated: i love personality tests and find it fascinating to hear what other people think too, so copy and paste the following URL and let me know what you think:


Saturday, February 11, 2006

night of the lion dance

tonight my friend katy and i ventured downtown to take in the annual chinese new year's parade. as always, when the two of us are together, it is uncertain as to what kind of curious happenings will ensue. here's a brief re-telling:

-- one of our favorite things to do is to roam the virgin megastore and then end our visit at citizen cupcake over cappucinos. life is good when you're surrounded by music, books, great coffee and your best friend.

-- a family of four sat on the sidewalk, next to us at grant and geary. the little boy, luke, kept making big goofy grins in my general direction and hammed it up for my camera. he then insisted he wanted to sit next to me, so i pointed out floats and the chinese lions dancing throughout the parade.

-- a float came by our way from the group "sambasia" and following the float, a lone samba dancer resplendent with feathers and a loin cloth danced the samba and looked incredibly familiar... until we realized it was our salsa teacher jaime! we yelled and whooped and when he saw us his face broke into a wider grin and he samba'ed in our direction, as if just for us.

-- we realized that our bus route was still blocked off after the parade had concluded and we were somewhat stranded, so we hiked up to california to try to catch the 1. along the way we saw a mariachi walking down powell with a girl. katy of course yells out, "gustavo!" of course she knew the random mariachi singer walking toward us from music school. of course.

-- we reached the top of california and inquired the bus route's whereabouts from a cop who tonight was not dispensing hope of a muni in our future. so we hopped in a cab and set out for a more central location, thus bypassing the lovely tendernob neighborhood.

-- the cab then dropped us off in front of the "lucky penny" restaurant and we begin to walk, occasionally looking back to see if a bus is heading our way. we walk for about 30 minutes and see a 38 zoom by. hope!

-- we jump on the next bus and ride it all the way to our stop.

-- as we begin walking toward my house a tipsy/drunk woman and her boyfriend walk in our direction. she holds in her fist a bunch of strings attached to gold and silver balloons. she walks up to us and asks in a thick, velvety russian accent, "ladies are you happy?" as a wide smile is plastered on her face. and we respond that yes, we are happy, but is she happy? and she responds saying she is forever happy because she loves this man. he then replies saying he is forever happy and they have just left a chinese wedding, but clearly they are not chinese but russian. we nod our assents. she then tells us she wants to give us a balloon. she breaks free a gold balloon for katy, a silver one for me. next she grabs my arm and says a prolific statement, "the main point in life is to be happy." and we all walk off in our own directions.

-- a block away from my house now, i smile, seeing our shadows cast on the sidewalk by streetlight- two women walking with balloons from a chinese wedding neither of us attended.

only one thing remains to be said: "gung hay fat choy."

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

the loss of you

the voice inside my head coolly blows
lies into my deepest parts,
these words spoken in a seductive tone
beckon me to give them heed,
their sharp edges tracing their way down

i'm fighting against it- it's volume and pitch
so loud and brawny, with me feeling so puny
that i can't make it go away
yet it persists and i sulk away,
even as the whisper of "mea culpa"
becomes my bedtime lullaby

i consider her strong arms which used to wrap around me
like a welcome home banner, even as a trace of turmeric
scented her skin, her eyes would always light up
when she saw her muskaan singing up on stage
i want to replace the image now etching itself
like a charcoal drawing of her ever still body
resting in a box of wood, for one of her on a ship
sailing on one of her journeys to a far off land
like the cruises that delighted her so

i was not aware
am not aware of the fragility of things-
how one word spoken can change the course plotted out
how a word left unspoken is silenced as if by guillotine
having lost its raison d'etre, never to find respite.
words die and live on
and right now, at this moment, i am on the cusp
of perching between the two,
grieving the loss of her,
the loss of you.

i am a machine

i am a CD burning machine. over the past two days i have burned around 200 CD's at work- call me the next shaun fanning, but i think i'm ready to start an enterprise of this- do you think the company name "napster" is taken? it seems to have a catchy feel to it.

i am a multi-tasking machine because as i burn CD's, i am calling a gazillion hotels inquiring after their food and beverage directors. great fun. and so i am about to continue my lunch AWAY from the computer.

did i mention that my right eye has been twitching for days... sans caffeine. quelle dommage.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

cartoon riots and globalization

"It's not censorship, it's editing. Just because a society has almost unlimited freedom of expression doesn't mean we should ever stop thinking about its consequences in the real world." -- Garry Trudeau, creator of the Doonesbury comic strip

to read the latest on the "cartoon riots" copy and paste this link in your browser: http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2006/02/07/MNGBRH41HF1.DTL

when i used to be a hard hitting reporter in college, i personally implemented my own system of editing. i am naturally curious and prone to asking questions that i feel are relevant, but i remember writing an article about a student's death and being aware that there are some things that as a good reporter i need to know, and there are other things which are just getting into the sensationalized side of things. i remember specifically setting aside and filing away some of the questions i was curious about in that article, out of a respect and sanctity for the grief being expressed by the student's family.

i think sometimes we forget that we live in the united states where freedom is the rule of the day. think about it- one of the reasons the colonialists came over to america in the first place was freedom of religion. and don't get me started on the freedom of the press. regardless of what you think of the media in america today, we still have the freedom to report and expose the truth in our media outlets- look at what watergate did- it brought out the truth about president nixon- can you imagine what that might have looked like in the middle east? Do you think for a minute that that would be allowed to happen there?

so i am not surprised that muslims are up and arms about the desecration of muhammad through a caricature- muslims wrap the koran, their holy book in velvet and place it in a high place. they often kiss it when it is unwrapped from the velvet. so why should we be shocked and surprised when they react this way to a caricature of their prophet? then again most christians are fine with the "buddy christ" and "jesus is into hiphop" paraphernalia- for us perhaps the line is more fine or maybe it's because we don't want to seem like sticks in the mud. not sure.

this is an interesting debate because it calls into question whether or not there are things too sacred to satirize. i am interested in hearing your thoughts as well as seeing how this plays out. apparently there is now a "holocaust cartoon contest" going on at an iraqi newspaper... talk about hitting below the belt to prove a point.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

dance dance revolution

will ferrell teaches our dance class at the gym.

okay so it's not really will ferrell, but he looks like a spitting image of him. this morning he announced to us that he may or may not add in "blue 247" which was a segment of dance involving hip gyrations, pivoting and flailing arms. so very zoolander. i kept waiting for him to break into a frozen face of blue steel.

one of the best moves that makes me giggle is the helicopter where you get "crazy arms" that swoop up and down as you turn and then do a touch-touch with your feet. today he was amped up, probably on acai. when it was time for weight lifting to a song about a gangsta in jail, i cracked a smile as his face contorted into very focused and pained moments. on then, to crunches- he never deviates from his recorded soundtrack- and the background music as we are pushing our bodies up and squeezing our abs is a lovely ditty called "sex trade." life sometimes is too amusing, especially considering i woke up this morning humming "sex trade..." good times.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

night of my third world

a commercial break during the american idol austin auditions shows some big-wig from pg&e on our television screen. he proceeds to tell us that the costs of electricity are going up and before he is able to resolve the problem, we hear a sound- a loud pop outside the house and all goes black.

lori and i grope in the darkness to find the flicker match wand and she smartly uses her laptop as a guiding light. we step outside into the mistiness, flicker torch in hand. without reason, some houses on our block still have lights on, others are pitch-black like our own. we talk with our neighbors, outside, in darkness assessing who will contact "the man".

it's interesting trying to find things to do in the dark. other than showering and singing which both do not require light, i attempted reading by candlelight for a while. at any given moment, frankincense, bergamot, ginger and cedar scent the air in my bedroom, so though i can't see much, the smells intoxicate and overcompensate for the obscurity. i pretend i am overseas and consider what i would have done back in india, probably tell stories to my roommate, since the electricity used to turn off unexpectedly like a fickle man. but i can't convince lori to pull out her guitar.

i end my evening watching part of amelie on my laptop, underneath a mound of covers, happy that not everything is contingent upon a plug-derived power source.