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12/01 Direct Link
This is yet another way of proving to myself that I can stick with something and see it through, once I make the decision to take on the challenge.

I had tried twice before and failed. This is harder than it looks.

And knowing that my words will be public inhibits my stream of consciousness, as much as I try not to edit or self-censor. It’s tougher than journaling one hundred words on my own, which I had been doing for a while. It’s also more demanding and requires more discipline than a blog. Nevertheless, I have decided to try.

12/02 Direct Link
Gong Li looks pretty hot in the trailer for upcoming movie Curse of the Golden Flower. I didn't like Hero and I never watched House of Flying Daggers; but this one looks decent. It’s about "one king's power" and "one queen's rebellion,” with the Tang dynasty as sumptuous backdrop. Strangely, the screenplay is adapted from a famous stage play, Thunderstorm, which was set in the 1930s. Now, I know of various modern remakes of classic tales. But remaking a classic by setting it even further back in time as a “period piece”? How weird and cool. My curiosity is piqued.
12/03 Direct Link
Sometimes, I feel like I’m missing the point of life. What if I were a merchant in the floating world of Edo? Would I be living it up, using my wealth for drink, entertainment, geishas, and soaking up the transitory pleasures? Would it be a bad life to work hard, play hard, and live with an awareness of limitations?

I guess I’m missing that stability and centeredness that the old Confucian world order promised; it’s unclear where I fit into things. Relationships are muddy. I can count on family, thankfully. But beyond that, everything is murky and in constant flux.

12/04 Direct Link
"I've seen the most monogamous true love on a highest level possible-- photographs he did of his wife." Bjork's words about Nobuyoshi Araki's photos really touched me. The notion that a picture can convey so much about the picture taker is interesting and rings true. Araki uses his camera to caress his subjects, to live his life. I'm going to see if I can get ahold of "Sentimental Journey." Arakimentari gave me many new things to think about. I love it when I get excited like this. It's such a high to feel inspired and be in awe of things.
12/05 Direct Link
I made a weird avocado, peanut butter, banana shake tonight. It was good but a bit thick, and it didn't really go with the chowder, or the lettuce with oyster sauce. I had a similar lettuce dish at a Chinese restaurant in Sana'a.

At the time, I thought it was some bastardized Arab-Chinese dish, because I had never had lettuce cooked like that before. It was literally swimming in sauce and so hot. But my mother made the same dish tonight (minus hot sauce) and I learned it's a real Chinese dish. Actually, it was quite good. I miss Sana'a.

12/06 Direct Link
Masterpiece or not, Casablanca definitely, for me, counts amongst the more enjoyable and genuinely affecting iconic films. I guess it's the pathos of war.

Casablanca's not fluffy like Breakfast at Tiffany's (all style and little substance); it has a steady, heartfelt undercurrent that is ultimately moral— stemming as much from situational forces and fundamental ideals as from the personalities evoked by Bogey and Bergman.

And that's what makes the film so strong for me: the love story is embedded in the time period. Love does not transcend all circumstances; and it shouldn't. There is something poignant and romantic about that.

12/07 Direct Link
I'm rather pensive and moody tonight. A Faye Wong song off of Fable would be perfect right about now. I've been listening to a lot of Faye lately. It's nice that Youtube has her MTVs. One of my favorites is her cover of Sophie Zelmani's "Going Home."

I am home and it's good being with my parents for a change. I do value our time together. At the same time, I know this is just a rest stop, and I will leave them. So many goodbyes in life. I wish I had someone to travel with me towards the horizon.

12/08 Direct Link
So, I've been camping out a lot on MSN messenger lately. The stress of applications, the tedium of being trapped indoors; I'm numb. This whole returning home business started off rather promisingly. My Chicago trip was wildly successful, all things considered. My spirits were high when I was going downtown every day.

But those feelings are wearing off. It just feels like my life is in limbo and I'm waiting for next summer to come alive again. It's like with breakups-- at first it's hard, but there's also that thrill of liberation. When thrill and heartache both pass, what remains?

12/09 Direct Link
I read something insightful. A thread asked how people respond to being hurt by someone. One person replied that it depends on who that person is. If the person is someone she can be totally honest and open with, she will tell them exactly how she's feeling, after thinking it through. But there are only a few people this applies to: SO, mother, brother. If it's with anyone else, she may or may not say anything; instead, she'll usually just close herself off a little to that person and be more cautious next time. I realized I do the same.
12/10 Direct Link
Dinner at the U Garden tonight unleashed something in my mind. It's like the floodgates pushed open and suddenly all the doubt and fears came rushing through. It's not that I hadn't considered my future previously; I'm working to enter graduate school next autumn. I'm doing everything I should be doing. It's just that being faced with this group of accomplished strangers made me realize the crux of my problems. I can't socialize and I can't date without having some kind of real job. Seems obvious, but I hadn't quite realized how all my problems were intertwined like this.
12/11 Direct Link
Shekhar Kapur did a fabulous job dressing up Elizabeth. As Ebert wrote, "[Kapur] clothes Elizabeth, her court and her architecture in the colors and texture of medieval India… He is attentive to the rustle of dresses and the clank of armor, gives us a barge on the Thames like a houseboat on a lake in Kashmir."

Ebert is a genius of the apt description. The story itself didn't really soar or surpass expectations. But it was quite beautiful to look at. Kapur used a lot of bird's eye shots and circular shots. I look forward to watching the director's track.

12/12 Direct Link
Dating is scary. Conversation is scary in the context of a date or pre-date. It's like, each lapse of silence is a miniature time bomb, tick, tick, ticking, while both parties frantically try to disarm it. It's like treading on thin ice, constantly wary of falling through the surface. And this situation only seems to get worse with age.

Hormonal matters never seemed this complicated in high school. It was all furtive glances, gossip, anticipation. And if by chance, the right two people meet and sparks fly, ah the rapture of first love. No irony, no reservation, and no defenses.

12/13 Direct Link
I had been logging one hundred words on my own off and on for a few months now, as an exercise to keep my writing in shape. Now I'm writing every day, instead of only when I feel compelled. In addition to logging my entries here, I've continued logging my offline entries, so I'm actually writing two hundred words a day.

I guess it's performance anxiety. The daydreams that plague me daily are actually quite monotone and boring; so I write my offline entry first to get those thoughts out of my system, hopefully. What's left over is more sanitized.

12/14 Direct Link
I'm too obstinate. The thing is, I'm not unreasonable and I'm very logical. I also have a strong sense of justice. (Maybe too strong...) That's probably where my problem resides. I'm not good at tolerating things I perceive as unfair, even if they're minor. I guess I lack the ability to compromise. Although, that said, I'm also pretty objective regarding myself.

I don't hate my exes just because they're exes; I've never bought into the idea that a guy must be a loser or scum just because he doesn't want ME. I don't make excuses to make myself feel better.

12/15 Direct Link
Whatever happens here on out, I'm glad I took a chance on Verdant.

Dacian called to wish me happy holidays and that got me thinking of last 4th of July, when Plushy and I met him at Summerdance. That was a fun night of dancing. I've always liked Dacian and thought of him as a good leader and kind.

His call got me thinking of Plushy again and how nothing happened between us, although something could have, and almost did. I don't regret it because circumstances were different then. Verdant could've easily passed by me the same way. But didn't.

12/16 Direct Link
Verdant said his favorite place to kiss me was on the cheek, but he didn't know why. I've gained about five pounds since coming home, and it's all gone to my cheeks. My muscles are no longer so defined. My arms almost look... fat. But I suppose this development comes at a propitious time...

As there seems to be a major backlash of hate towards the Ally Mcbeals of the world. Magazines may parade thin models, but IRL? I can't count how often I've heard the sentiment that "real men" like "real women" with curves. Is my vagina "real" enough?

12/17 Direct Link
Alexander Siddig (a.k.a. Dr. Bashir) is ineluctably attractive to me. He has a slim build, a pretty face, and refined manners; yet he also has a definitively masculine swagger. And coupled with his emir good looks, that sexy RP British accent. Jude Law has a similar appeal. I have definitely developed a type over the years.

My taste in girls shows greater variance. Some girl crushes: Mila Kunis, Sasha Cohen, Kate Moss, Devon Aoki, Zhang Ziyi, Bebe Neuwirth, Gillian Anderson, Gwen Stefani, Oksana Baiul, Martina Hingis, Faye Wong, Nicole Kidman, Portia de Rossi, Naomi Watts. Women are just beautiful creatures.

12/18 Direct Link
Okcupid says my Classic Leading Dame is Barbara Stanwyck, famous as the gritty, tough but vulnerable working class dame determined to make it on her own. I've yet to see any of her films, but Sorry, Wrong Number is in my Netflix queue.

In some ways, the descriptions I've read of her remind me of Kira Nerys from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. I have a bit of a crush on that character too. She's tough, no-nonsense, and willing to fight for her beliefs. I have a bit of that in me as well. I think it's from my mom.

12/19 Direct Link
I finally got around to watching the director's track to Elizabeth. Shekhar Kapur's observations regarding how man sees woman really struck me.

Norfolk seeks to dominate Elizabeth, and that is no surprise; Dudley, her lover, seeks the same, whether he knows it or not. I had thought him merely callow and perhaps selfish; but to hear Kapur speak of him, he's far worse. He loves young Elizabeth who was "his", and like many men, can't see her changes. Like Cecil, he doesn't actually respect Elizabeth as Queen: He doesn't trust her enough. Only Walsingham sees clearly. His affection is genuine.

12/20 Direct Link
Memento is a gem. Leonard lives his life in an endless loop of grief, disorientation, and desire for vengeance. At one point, he asks: "How am I supposed to heal if I can't feel time?"

His wife's death is always fresh in his mind, and he can't remember to forget it.

The scary thing is, anterograde amnesia is a real condition. I think I might prefer to die than to suffer such a permanent hell. Without the ability to consciously learn new things and gain experience, what is life? There's still momentary sensory pleasure, but without retrospection, is there meaning?

12/21 Direct Link
Barbara Stanwyck plays Stella Dallas boldly. She doesn't shy away from the déclassé manners required of her character. Stella is who she is; and who she is is loveable yet tragic. Her daughter remains loyal to her and refuses to abandon her, yet finds herself forced into a corner, with her back against the wall. The lifestyle that she covets, her mother simply does not fit into. We are all products of our upbringing and products of our environments.

I can relate to Barbara and I wish the world were a more accepting place. Although... do I really accept myself?

12/22 Direct Link
I'm still in love with Star Trek. Some people outgrow it or move on to other things. Ries used to be a big sci-fi fan like me, into gaming, into that whole world. But now she's a Sex in the City girl and would rather go out drinking than sit at home and play games. I've never been much of a group animal, so I suppose that's why I haven't changed that much. I still think the same way. That feeling is still there; it hits me with the ferocity of a first love, which it was. I'm so thankful.
12/23 Direct Link
I watched "Gospel of Judas" tonight and it was really interesting. It's funny how completely secular my life has been thus far. My only interaction with religion has been through fictional worlds in books or shows like Star Trek: DS9. I mean, I've dealt with a fair amount of religious people, and experienced a fair share of intolerance toward my own (lack of) beliefs. I've pondered over how I could accept a deeply religious person as my friend, if faith requires him or her to consider me as condemned to hell. But ponderings differ from personal spirituality or religious experience.
12/24 Direct Link
The closest thing to religion for me would probably be the worldview and ethos exemplified in Star Trek: Next Generation. I suppose I am a secular humanist.

STNG was a very idealistic show. Instead of deux ex machina endings, science provided the solutions. Without appealing to gods, humankind nevertheless acted with a strong moral sense of justice and fairness. And rather then impose their own moral system on other peoples, humankind strove to uphold the Prime Directive. They didn't always succeed; but they always tried. The fortitude of their beliefs impressed me greatly:

The principles they upheld transcended their lives.

12/25 Direct Link
It's been fun. I can say that and mean it.

It's a bit early to start reminiscing about the past year; there's a few days left still. But I've done a lot. January of this year, I was working at my old job in Chicago. In March, I finally graduated and it was relatively anti-climactic. June, I gave my two weeks notice, and in July, I flew off to Yemen.

It's hard to do justice to everything I've experienced there with a few clichéd words. But— it's always about the people, you know? I'll always remember. Sweet goodbyes without regret.

12/26 Direct Link
I thrive best hermit style. Born, stubborn me. I never thought I would compromise. But now I can't do this without you.

Come to me.

You know, so don't make me say it.

We shouldn't fight. I can obey all of your rules, and still be. Be.

You know that I adore you.

Let's unite tonight. You don't have to explain. I understand. I know your habits. Calm, calm down. You're exhausted. Come lie down. Dark and divine. I'll nurse you. Embrace you tight. I'll take care of you, protect you.

I miss you but I haven't met you yet.

12/27 Direct Link
Come for me.

Believe in me, and take my hand, and drink the wine, and fill me up. You refill my place. The halo crawls away.

Take my heart, and believe in me, and drink the wine, and let me follow. Rewinding all we can. The world unwinds inside of me.

Take my breath away. The heavens stroll inside of me. Revealing who we are, you repeat my fate.

You complete my fate.

Yesterday was Bjork, and today it's Monoral. I hear "Kiri" and in my mind's eye, I'm back beneath that rust-colored sky, open, oppressive. One more application left.

12/28 Direct Link
The boys in my life are sweet. I got holiday well wishes from my guy pals, some of whom I haven't talked to in a while. I feel rather loved. I don't know why, but my girl friends and I are just not affectionate like that toward each other. Maybe I should be the forward one and send them a note? I need to make more of an effort if I want to keep my friends. I need to make more of an effort in general, with my family, with myself. These last few days have been murky and messy.
12/29 Direct Link
I feel like a zombie: listless, drained. I got up early today for my phone interview, which I BSed my way through. We'll see if I make it to the next round. Afterwards, I sent cards out and that took a long time since I made each card. Then my parents got home and lectured me about leaving my application until the last minute, which was both true and untrue. I got upset because I didn't want to be judged by them-- they don't know my whole story. I lost my temper. Childish, yes. I need a drink. And sleep.
12/30 Direct Link
My period is ending as a new year is about to begin. I've gotten past that hormonal slump and it's a good feeling. I finished my last application today. It was a struggle, but I pulled it together. I still need to double check on the status of all my applications one last time, but the bulk of the work is complete. Now I just have to try not to worry and focus on immediate goals. But that can wait until Monday. Now, I prefer to ponder perfume: Hermes un Jardin en Mediterranee? Or Hermes un Jardin sur le Nil?
12/31 Direct Link
Out with the old, in with the new. My resolution for 2007: getting back into shape. I want to start exercising again-- dancing, figure skating, tennis. Since I've been home I've already gained five pounds and lost plenty of muscle tone. It's pretty shameful. And I've got to start eating better: planning my meals, buying organic, eating more vegetables, fruits, fiber. My applications are done, so starting next week I'll be doing the cooking. On the menu: black bean soup, borscht, seared tuna with dark greens. Everything starts with the body. I've got to reclaim my body. It's about time.