Thursday, October 30, 2003


10 am. Palace Hotel. I'm sitting at the Lenders Meeting while my powerpoint is on the big screen. The CEO of Company X is speaking from memory and I hope to God that what's he is saying fits the facts on screen. He makes a joke. Polite laughter creeps across the crowd, dark suits and subdued ties. The horde of creditors flip along, fingering the 100 books that I put together - waited for production to be finished on until 4 am today. The sole woman in the crowd takes a sip of water and writes down some numbers. My numbers. The speaker halts and makes another joke. Except this time, it's about a typo in the graph on screen. My graph. Oh shit. Polite laughter again. I guess it wasn't that serious, but my stomache is squirming at the mistake. It wasn't trepidation that struck - it was annoyance. I don't care if the senior guys are going to make that one small snide comment that stamps their seal of disapproval on the mistake. I cared about the mistake itself. One typo out of 65 pages - mulitplied by 100 times and projected onto the screen. The typo stared at me - it was a blight on my entire week's worth of work.. throwing a wrench into 20 hour days and rendering 64 pages almost irrelevant. For the next 10 minutes, maddening thoughts crept into my system. What a waste. It didn't matter if all my work was spotless if there was this error. Not error with the numbers or figures mind you, but presentation error. I don't make mistakes, at least not in business; but then again, what's in it for me? Polite laughter. "I'm not crazy just a little unwell, I know right now, you can't tell. But wait a while and maybe then you'll see, a different side of me." -MB20.

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

A winding weirded place 

There is a place where the sun forgets to come sometimes and lets the stars play a little while longer. There is a place where the road goes not beyond but with the horizon, like friends on a summer afternoon, going along chattily; a place where days are spent dreaming, fishing rod in hand and feet stretched out beside the babbling brook. My dog, that big ol’ lug himself, plops next to me, pink tongue lolling out and head in paws; no doubt he is dreaming of something too. It’s a place of earthy grass perfect for wiggling toes and of penetrating skies with milky clouds, so low that you can touch if you stand tip-toe with outstretched fingers. There are humble little daisies shooting out of the ground without cares cause they don’t know any better; gnarled trees droop cause they are curious forlorn creatures, while roses blush not for vanity - they laugh instead at their silly pretty dresses ------------------

I am here though. I’m here in my cubicle at 5:20 am and not anywhere near that place where the sun laughs and pieces of my childhood I carry in my pocket so I can smile when I want to. I’m here in my cubicle because at 1:20 am the file crashed and so I’m here staring at a Snapple bottle again, dragging itty-bitty numbers around pie charts. And yet I am not miserable or depressed or angry or anything like 2001. I’ve exhaled. And besides, it’s no mystery to me what my life is – and the expectation of pain (the back is killing me) is not all that exciting when I know what the consequences are… And so there is the emptiness of feeling, of movement or anything that resembles passion. I have segregated my life outside of this place from my work inside this place. I suppose the two don’t like each other very much, but I have to keep both of them all the same, like little brats throwing wussy punches at each other. I make myself believe that I’m doing something that is worthwhile; no, not worthwhile, but at the very least, productive and supportive of my great desire to be at liberty in the future. I think I’ll go home and sleep for an hour; but sleep is overrated isn’t it, cause once I’ve awaken I have already forgotten all about the delicious desire to sleep more and more; but this, this I will remember forever. When I’m old and beyond repair and advice, I will remember only a few things, and this great misery of sorts, (but also of satisfaction because I know this is easy and not all that very cumbersome) will be an icy prick on my feeble mind.

There’s something about leaving the office at 5:30 am and coming back at 8:30 am that is wickedly funny.

Thursday, October 02, 2003

Ticket Stub 

I took the train to Philadelphia yesterday to visit a couple of old college buddies. There is still a distinct socio-class difference in America; you can see it through the railway system. New Jersey Transit costs $14 (peak fare) to go from NY Penn Station to 30th Street Station. It takes 3 hours for the trip. It is used primarily by security guards, educators, unkempt mothers with crying babies, and loud rude people who blow their noses, scratch their armpits and proclaim loudly at the “Gawd lordy the lack of room in the cars”. The passengers are overwhelmingly black. The train screeches and lurches every time it slows to a stop. Amtrak trains are sleek and faster (somewhat). Amtrak costs $48 to go from Philadelphia to New York, off peak fare. It takes approximately 1.5 hours to zoom the same distance. The passengers are primarily businessmen, lawyers, girls who squawk over their cell phones, “Like, my mom won’t give me money to get this delicious purse…”, and fat balding men who stretch out like sea lions on open seats. They are overwhelmingly white. The train smoothly stops next to the escalator in the station.

I took NJT to Philadelphia. As the train chugged along, I find that the rail tracks are beautiful. Brown rough steel inlaid with gleaming blue-gray metal; two straight lines parallel, stretching out without comment to the endless horizon, always keeping the same distance between them. If only relationships were like that. Bespeckled gravel playing with the afternoon sun, lying carelessly between unflinching uncaring boundaries. Vanilla beams crossing the tracks, like steps going somewhere, steady steps that don’t break a sweat or shed a tear. The track, with its individual colors and parts, stubbornly refused to be roused by speed, and soon its details, those lines and colors, were blurred. Brownblue-graybespeckled|vanilla. Like a swirling soup of colors, or dreams, or something undefined, lighted aglow by the clouded sun. I suspect that’s what I needed to do with my life. Stop breaking it down to individual parts and let it blur. Who is to say that the blurred picture is less desirable than the clear static image? Blur my career and my loves and my people. My spirituality, my yearnings, my hates, my everdays, and my goals. Blur it all, and maybe the speed of life will make it beautiful.

The boys were still the same. Rob is living with a girl but not really dating her. Henry is seriously dating someone but not living with her. And they act really gay when they get together.

There is a rush of judgment among people my age to get engaged. I found that Norman and Kristine are engaged and that he spent his entire year’s savings on the ring. It seems that Kristine went with him to choose the ring. Perhaps I need to get on this engagement wagon, before all the prospects dry up. I mean, at this rate, by the time I’m twenty-six all my friends will have been hook, line and sinker. Time to get in while the getting is good. Besides, it’s an insurance thing. Who said engagement necessarily has to lead to marriage? Perpetual engagement, that’s the new paradigm. You gotta back up your files, right? And if engagement is a serious ploy that results in marriage, it’s a stupid idea. Basically, you’re making a commitment to being committed? I think it’s just a ploy for women to get an extra piece of jewelry.

Rob mentioned that each year, the girls in college are getting younger. Or was it that we were getting older?
‘It seems like we get older but nothing has changed,’ Rob said.
‘Well, except for the fact that you’re increasingly bitter and want to quit your job,’ I said. ‘Fucker,’ he said.
‘Maybe you need to date younger women,’ I said. ‘Makes you less bitter.’
‘I can’t even look at girls under twenty-one,’ he said.
‘Yeah, just the talk of midterms and studying zones me out.’
‘But maybe it’ll be good for me,’ he said.
‘Don’t you have a girlfriend?’
‘She’s twenty-three.’
‘Yeah, having an eighteen year old girl will solve all your problems.’

I took Amtrak back to New York. By the time I got back, I realized that all my friends are leading lives. Lives! We all have actual lives now, meaty with unique expectations and heavy with responsibilities. Gone are the days of dining halls and football on the green, of homogenous experiences in the petri dish of academia and the solitude of the ivory towers. And as we burden ourselves, we increasingly separate our paths. Rob is doggedly living the slacker way. Henry is moving up the corporate ladder, securing his comfortable middle management lifestyle. Dan is in his third year of med school. Yas is heading off to the Peace Corps. And everyone is looking inward to find something that will fulfill and inspire them, although right now, they call that careers and relationships.

Oh, to be twentysomething and not afraid!

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