Thursday, July 31, 2003

Show me the money 

So I've worked a month and one week as a freelancer and haven't gotten paid yet. The secretary was helpful. "You get paid every two weeks, on the middle and last day of the month, except weekends, and in that case, blah blah..." So I get paid every two weeks? Great, how come I haven't seen anything? "You should go to Min, the finance guy," she says. I go to Min and he said, "Talk to Manabu, your boss." "I've talked to him already," I said, "and he said you guys figure it out." Yeah. Invoice? What invoice? I thought I was just going to turn in a timesheet? That's what the MD told me. "Uh, I dunno," said the finance guy. "But Katie, my boss, will be back Monday." That's funny. I spoke to Katie last week and she said I should talk to my secretary about it.

Sometimes, woops isn't going to cut it.

Et tu? 

I interviewed a model for a shoot today. I asked her age cause we're looking for girls 25 and up. No matter which way I asked, she wouldn't answer. "You look good" I said. "Give me a smile" I said. "25-35" she replied, smiling. Ok. I think it must be weird to have people take pictures of you all the time. "Turn around. Look this way. Tilt your face more." I guess you get to a point where you don't care who knows your face and your body and what not.

She looks good for someone that old. Tucked and crimped.


Boobs. I see boobs everywhere.

Wednesday, July 30, 2003

Moving on 

- Investment banking (miserable but gadgetry is a plus) to business school to finance shop (miserable possibly) to corporate strategy to own company (failure possibly)
- Investment banking (blah blah) and/or finance job to business school to public policy job in developing nations
- Freelance agency producer (hand-to-mouth) to advertising producer (boredom and/or meager living possibly)
- Freelance agency producer to film production assistant (non-livable wages for eons) to film production (failure is big)
- Architecture school (five years or less) to architect (meager wages for a long time without assurances of desired position) to own company
- Journalism school (no experience so most likely a crappy position is needed before) to journalist (lifelong position possibly) to editorship and/or analyst job
- Writer (uh huh)
- History masters/phD (long stint in academia) to public policy possibly
- Depend on mom and dad till they die then maybe mooch off brother

Things to consider: Time usage/waste, purchasing power now versus later, purchasing power priority/non-priority, life outside of work v. work complementing life, travel, dog, geographical preference, parents, personal welfare and happiness now, tomorrow, and in the long-run (risk)

The perks of nothing 

I sat and stared at the grinning ivory totem, gleaming and bare. One hour. One hour and nothing to write. All that is going on and nothing to say. I don't want to say anything. Cause I run in circles and everything that I say has already been said - by me. I'm meandering in this sweaty season of self-indulgence; I make attempts, oh sure, to grasp at any thoughts that might be of substance, but plainly, my forte lies not with thoughts but with thinking, and thinking gets me to nothing cause thoughts are all that matter. In this case, anyways.

My head blots. It is full of childhood dreams and adult cynicism. Carved from mishappened and bloodied thoughts. I should know better. I want to know. I wanta fly and float and be with you somehow, I wanta move I wanta dream cause I get psyched from begotten dreams and I wanta know better. I want to see beyond the present and maybe, maybe see grace somewhere.

I wanta ask Him, what is it you see, what is it I should do?

Choices are my shackles, and if I can only shake this dammed confidence. Grievious. This is my recipe for disaster: confidence stirred and shaken with just a dash of hope in better things to come. I can't get away from it, cause it's the hope that eats at me, that pulls me in impossible directions.

I fume and simmer but it gets me nowhere nothing not one thing. I'm still here, but something's got to give.

Sunday, July 27, 2003


Seems nice, huh?

Yeah. So what's up? I don't know. Should I would I will I? Who? Me? What's all this? Maybe possibly could be hmm. Yes. No. Sure.


I'm all packed and ready to go,
Forward, onward, let's go
It's the same destination
The same way, it's the same how
Trust me, hon, it's just better this way
Cause I got nowhere to go

Thursday, July 24, 2003

i saw this poem on the subway:

there are some unafraid
to show how life has
beaten them up, or down; they
sit on the streets
head in hands or
stare anesthesized into
dumbfounding spaces, crowd, rain

others choose familiar artifice
and carry their defeat
like money they don't have
to spend yet

Wednesday, July 23, 2003

Let us stop looking to the sky
Blaming fate and twisting ourselves
Instead of persevering in self-resolve
Hating not today or tomorrow but
Immersing in the escape of now

Sunday, July 20, 2003

She has a funny way of living. It’s four pm, Sunday afternoon in Central Park. A hazy bright afternoon of roving pigeons and silent rowboats on the soupy pond, a lazy summertime afternoon of couples in embrace and children in play; a yellow New York afternoon of people doing anything anywhere anyhow because they wanted to—to explore, to dream, to procrastinate, to create.

I’m walking with Nine and it’s her last weekend in New York. “If only you didn’t go on that stupid Australia trip,” she said. “You’re the one who’s leaving,” I said. “If you came earlier,” she retorted. “You’re the one who’s leaving,” I replied. And it’s true. I suppose I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time with this girl in the past couple of weeks, for reasons still uncertain, except for the fact that her company is pleasant. And I suppose that in this city of steel and grit and life, companionship is a novel scarcity. Her circle of friends and acquaintances seems so different from mine, like a sitcom that I’ve watched for some time but haven’t understood completely; and yet, her views on the characters and the plot are completely at odds with the ways that I think she would see those situations and circumstances. And so we talk this afternoon, of girls and their guys, of girls and their quarrels, of girls and their wants. We talked of nothing, of course. Of cheerio contests and women body-builders, of traveling and men and Adam’s apples and blubber. But also of possibilities and whys, the whys that exists in relationships, those questions of how and when that play with each other whenever boys and girls talk about each other, like electrons swirling around an unseen and unresolved nucleus.

We walked across a jazz ensemble jazzing away on 67th street. It was a mellow tune in contrast with the breezy playful summer day, but there was mischievousness about it, a lack of seriousness in the way the trio made fun of themselves. And I suppose that’s why Nine made good company, because it was in contrast with my life, my inner fascination with the weighty concerns of a twentysomething. She pokes fun, she mocks, she reduces the complexities of the structural problems of my quarter-life while exaggerating and enlarging them so. There’s an irreverent spirit that tugs Nine along; a sense of self-deprecation among her complaints, but it is through her complaints that I see my own complaints for what they are (oddly important only to me), and in that way, her ministrations jolts my sensibilities and gives me that glorious creative destruction/ordered chaos that moves me to act. I know.

The sun continued his descent, arching slowly so over the tiny people below. The park seems emptier now, lighter, and even a little slower. I wonder what next week will be like. I’ll be in the park on Sunday again, but the differences of the days ahead when matched with the days of now are stunning. I’ll be in the same park, the same patch of worn lawn—I’ll pass the same people groups of rollerbladers and families and couples, the baseball games and the hot dog stands, and I’ll be writing again, hopefully. But today, with all of its similarities to past days and future days, is singular because of minutiae, of the events and people leading up to this moment, because of expectations about the hours ahead, and because of the realizations of now. Deep stuff, huh?

Monday, July 07, 2003

Matt's wedding was great. Makes me wanna go and get hitched. Ehh. Maybe not, but I'm happy for him. And her. It's been a while since I've been happy for anyone truly. I'm surprised he still have the cognition to go through the ceremony after three nights of poker and scotch... In any case, I did meet his kid cousins, boys who totally reminded me of, well, myself when I was goofy and crazy.

Sunday, July 06, 2003

Starched white coats and neat black bowties greeted me as I sat down at Newark’s Sullivan’s steakhouse. Forty minutes to spare before the plane takes off. Busy servers paced back and forth, dragging aromas of grilled steaks and sautéed onions, of butter and pepper across the brightly lit room; they walked stiffly with trays of crab cakes and lemon drenched grouper and steamed lobster on upturned hands. A Latino girl with streaked hair cleared finished tables with sincere briskness. A middle aged couple sat across from me, poking their salad gingerly and looking beyond the vast windows towards the lumbering 737s making their way towards the grey takeoff strip. Their Vuitton bags sat stranded in the aisle, leaning against each other like a bored monument to tired travelers. Behind them sat two hotshots in grey pinstriped suits. One was gesturing jerkily, stabbing at his french fries while delivering rapid-fire commands into his PDA cell phone. His partner stared straight ahead blankly while he sipped a beer, fingering his cufflinks. Their shoes were amazingly polished. I was the only one wearing a t-shirt.

I wondered why I was here, if I should be eating at all, except for the fact that I wanted a steak sandwich. Doubtless there will be food on the plane. And yet, here I am, acting like I was still one of them. One of the select: a class in which success meant financial independence, where $30 lunches were the norm, and cravings were always satisfied. Except I can’t afford to be like them any longer. I identified more with the waiters who blended into the background – the cooks who were laughing in the kitchen – and not with the businessmen in their leather attaches or the vacationers heading off to whitewashed beaches. It dawned. The days of expense accounts and five-star dinners are over, and I have to adjust to the want of material things because I have, in good faith, rejected the need for material satisfaction. I can’t buy just because I want: gadgets, meals, clothes – affection. It’s because I look for happiness in totality that I have to reject the material part that has made me happy at the expense of everything else.

As the planes took off, each aiming for a different destination, crossing but never meeting in the vast canopy sky, I became morose and brooded with St. Agustine:

“For it is error to follow anything that brings us not to that which we have the will to attain. And so far as one errs the more in the way of life so much the less is he wise; because he is so much the more remote from the truth, in which the highest good is discerned and held. But it is by the attaining and the holding of the highest good that one is made happy, which, beyond controversy, is the aim of us all.”

My life, my decisions and all of its consequences, will be entirely my own. We all live alone, and whatever we do, or however we think, our lives are individual corpuscles floating in the immense infinite space of possibilities. I was born alone, and into death I go alone. Since birth, I have been led to believe that there was a support structure of family and friends and love, that there were examples to follow – that my living was in relation somehow to others like me, and I had thought naively that I could emulate, that I could learn from others who had gone before me. I learned to walk with encouragement, to speak with help, and to think with lessons. But in all those things, it was I who performed the task. My own two feet, my own tongue, and my own mind – I did everything in solitude. And in the stark airport restaurant, I was utterly alone. There is no roadmap for the decisions that I make. There may be similar circumstances in which those who have gone before have endured, but it’s never complete, and it’ll never replace the experiences and choices that are uniquely mine. I thought of my brother and his parties at Sotheby’s and Christies’, of my parents and their struggles during political upheavals, of countless peers who are at private equity shops and business schools – and I thought of how amazingly my life will be different from theirs. Not because I want it to be but because I can’t see it any other way. I took this all in, and like breathing rarefied air for the first time, there was a suffocating realization that I am alone in a strange life, one that I did not expect or was adequately prepared for.

We all think we are wise. The philosophers because they seek truth; the businessmen because they control money; the politicians because they debate justice and civic responsibilities; and the creatives because they are slaves to beauty. But I know that I am not wise, nor am I happy. I have glimmers of what could be, but sometimes, it is as if I reach blindly in the dark for the walls of my cage while everyone else is in the light. And so I retreat. I take refuge in the immediate present, the reactions and not the foresights. I surround myself with books and music and photos – I lose myself in stories and songs and pictures, hoping that this lonely path leads somewhere, trusting that I have graduated beyond simple wants and expectations, and knowing that I have a lot to learn and re-learn.

It’s funny. I remember when my high school buddies – how we would sit late at nights on our cars, smoking, and think of how we would be when we became twenty-five. Would we find the same jokes funny; would we be rich or rebellious? Would we make it and survive? Would things stay the same? And as we go on with our lives, will we be happy? Now at the age of twenty-four, I remembered that those times were curiously happy times, and that growing up didn’t feel as empty, decisions were easy, and that we always believed in making it. I suppose growing up has lost some of its luster, and as we grow, we grow apart.

And yet, I have the hope that we will grow into ourselves, and like our existence in which we did not have a say, so too do we not have the choice but to grow, to learn, and to do those things ably.

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