Sunday, August 30, 2009

Peace Out, Twilight Zone

How many red-faced mortals does it take to screw in a light bulb?

How sun salutations does it take to transfix a surly mood into a positive one?

How many evil eye pendants does it take to ward off the evil eye and other associated bad luck bullshit?

For a year my pressing question was: How long does it take to find a job? And then there were the corollary questions. How many cover letters? How many interviews? How many butterflies have to hatch and flitter about in my stomach while waiting for word back? How many days of trolling job boards, and positive thinking, and mantras?

425 days. A nice, crisp, non-prime number.

After an exciting era of graduate school, travel, and non-nuclear family living, the meltdown of global markets ushered me, among many, into the Twilight Zone, and into the Casa de Mom & Dad.

The Twilight Zone greeted me warmly. It wrapped me cocoon-style in a suffocating embrace, rarely leaving me less than an arm's length away. At first, I fought my stay. But whenever I felt the Twilight Zone's breath hot on my face, I realized resistance was futile; the Twilight Zone was cock-blocking me from gainful employment, and that was that.

The more the Twilight Zone and I learned to cohabitate, the more it released me on furlough. There were the temp jobs before they dried up completely, and the editing gigs that made my eyes bleed and bullied the median nerves in my wrists into paraesthesia.

And then came the point where we could stand side by side, not exactly holding hands, but no more epithets, no more teeth-gnashing, no more angst, no more identifying with broken-souled poets who bled their torment on paper.

I exorcised the self-pity, I started writing again (out of which came House of G), and when I finally looked up from my wallowing saw all the silver linings scattered around me.

It occurred to me to contact awesome, as faithful readers of this blog may recall. For newcomers, awesome is like a beneficent Zeus, a guardian angel, but more omniscient and with greater power than the National Rifle Association and the National Tobacco Association combined.

I'd like to say that only mere days after writing a letter to awesome I landed a job. I didn't. But, I did get an interview, and a few weeks later a friendly rejection. Awesome had heard/read my plea, however, and entered into negotiations with the Twilight Zone. Last week they finally struck a deal. The Twilight Zone immediately evicted me. Two days later I started my new job.

Writing an open letter to awesome may not be your bag. But, I'm proof that it doesn't hurt to put requests/dreams/desires out for the universe to consider -- in whatever format you deem most appropriate and genuine.

I just have one last open letter to write.

Dear Twilight Zone:

Thank you for your hospitality, your (hard) lessons, and the beautiful silver linings that came along unexpectedly. I'm sure we'll see each other again. No need to send a postcard. Be well. Peace.

House of G

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Super Powers

A year ago I began putting together a storyline for a graphic novel. With shyness in one hand and full-blown curiosity in the other, I asked some friends what super power they would choose if they could pick any power on land, in the sea, over land and sea, on this Earth, in this galaxy.

I was moved by the responses. Through them my friends provided small photographs of their lives at the time, framed by interesting tidbits about themselves that only might otherwise emerge during a game of 20 questions coupled with a round of cocktails.

A few friends asked if I would share what others said. I agreed, started the email, and never finished. So, herewith I share what super powers some would choose, not just to gift themselves with a talent, but to crack through the bubble they/we all live in to affect people in a more extraordinary way, let's say, than allowing someone with less groceries to cut in front of you at the grocery store.

I would read auras. Then I would be able to read people's intentions and see what kind of people they ACTUALLY entiendes? No foolin' with auras.

If I could choose only ONE super power...I think it would be to have the ability to zap people and make them happy...without them realizing I did it, and at the same time, for it to feel totally natural for them, inside their minds/hearts (and for that happiness to be easily re-channel-able). If I could have one other one, I would, in a BLINK, be able to be some place else (like near a loved one right away). This one works particularly well for me tonight, where everyone I love is not near at all."

EASY...complete control of time and the physical properties that would result. I have given this lots of thought. So for example, if I could slow things down to half speed, then the force would be 4 times greater due to the laws of physics. I would not want this to always be the case. Imagine if you slow things down 100 times such as making bullet move at 13 miles an hour...then each action would generate 10,000 times the normal force. So, even touching someone would be fatal. However, when people stop time completely, than all molecules would be held in place and no damage is done. However, I have always wondered how people are able to move when even air molecules would be like fixed cement...hmmmmmm.

To be anywhere I chose to be, at any time. Flying, transporting, whatever. To be able to go where I wanted whenever. A form of escapism I guess.

Actually for me this is a really easy question. Ever since Leadership Edge I have put some thought into it and I decided that I would most like the ability to teleport anywhere (this was also before the lame movie "Jumper"). Not only to any place, put also to points in the not so distant future. But not the past, that would be too much power in any individual person. All people have their breaking points when they do something bad, and going into the past to change your present is one of them. But I think being able to teleport, while subject to some risk and threat of abuse, would be such a fun power to have since all T-Birds are global citizens and love to travel. Added bonus by the way, you would reduce your carbon footprint to almost zero! Al Gore would approve.

So, without thinking about it I immediately said Teleportation so that I could go anywhere in the world (and possibly in time) that I wanted to in an instant. BUT this has me thinking a lot about the whole superhero phenomena...I think the nature of a superhero (hero being the operative word) is that at some point they use their power/s in the service of others. What I would find intriguing and unique in a superhero is to exploit what has been traditionally viewed as womens' "powers". What if you explored things like intuition or healing or love supersized?

I would fly. To speed over traffic and leave leave less of a carbon footprint.

Without a doubt, the super power I'd pick would be the ultimate gift of persuasion. I don't know if that counts as a super power, and if it doesn't, then I'd go with my second choice: ability to speak/understand/read/write any language on Earth.

What would your super power be?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

And The Beat Goes: OHM

I recently came across a stash of songs that had provided the soundtrack to my early years in San Francisco, when I was young enough to own and wear body glitter and wave away thoughts of wrinkle cream and a 401K. I hit "play" on said stash and took a stroll down memory lane...

Before the tech bubble burst back in '01, back in those golden days of overinflated salaries, batshit crazy ventures, and the frenetic pace of MTWThF parties, I relished the city-wide buzz that enveloped the city - even the crack-strewn back alleys of 6th and Mission - and the free-flowing cosmopolitans that sustained it. Everyone had exultant dreams of millionairhood.

But the spoken word scene was really my scene, and nary a free cocktail was to be found. I was friends with (poor) poets who waxed eloquently on just about every topic under the sun in a way I had never heard or seen poetry delivered, and it blew my mind, and I've never entirely recovered.

Once a week Club Amnesia in the Mission District hosted renowned spoken word artists from all over the country, and then cleared the floor for open mic. The latter portion of the night had varied results. Some nights the amateurs seemed to be possessed, like the sun had embedded itself in their mouths and they just spoke and gesticulated light. And then there were the ones who were bad. This was when people got up to get a beer or a refill.

I was tasked with checking I.D.s at the door and making sure no one got out of hand. Of course being the size of a flower I did not work the security circuit alone. I didn't get paid, I did it as a favor. I may have gotten free beer, but I don't remember. I did it because it was my church.

Club Amnesia, on a school night, with crack dealers and moneyed hipsters and everyone in between passing by, and sometimes through the front door, was a place where people let their guards down, their hair down, and wove words together in a way a fusion chef breaks apart culinary paradigms and inventively melds seemingly disparate food groups.

Club Amnesia, on a school night, with Generation X's version of beat poets clutching worn sheets of paper, but mostly delivering their odes by memory, was a place where beer in hand, and heart on sleeve, we all participated in a collective "Ohm".

But don't take my word for it, take Saul's.

"through meditation I program my heart
to beat breakbeats and hum basslines on exhalation...
I burn seven day candles that melt
into twelve inch circles on my mantle
and spin funk like myrrh...
the beat goes on, the beat goes on, the beat goes 'ohm'"

Monday, August 10, 2009

A Half Mast Rebel

The following post was originally posted on my friend Matt Gonzalez's new blog on August 12, 2009, As It Ought To Be.

When I discovered what the religiously-tinted definition of a prude was, back in the 6th grade, I decided I didn't want to be one.

In my 11-year-old mind, already indoctrinated by a steady stream of Catholic-infused political beliefs and dogma, prudes didn't sneak Guns N' Roses tapes, heavy metal magazines, or try smoking an abandoned pack of cigarettes.

But I wasn't about to turn full-fledged rebel. In concert with the floweret of rebellion beginning to bloom there was a flash of the most boring of all adages, ready for harnessing at any moment (especially by dieters), and one my Mom stated constantly: "Everything in moderation".

So, while I was determined not be a pre-makeover Charlotte Vale from Now Voyager (young spinster goes from nunnery dress to sophisticate on celluloid in black and white) I also wasn't going to manifest the exhibitionistic Catholic school girl stereotype, with a skirt hiked up to there – the maximal anti-prude.

But the rebel floweret inched a bit taller. I may not have attempted to set my uniform skirt on fire, but I watched. And I was disappointed, like everyone else, that the material kind of melted and curled, and that the resulting acrid stench made me and my adolescent comrades run away and stuff our mouths with contraband Hubba Bubba to stave off the caustic tang that permeated our polyester, our Peter Pan collars, and even it seemed, our skin.

More than 20 years later, I'm not as fascinated by cloying bubble gum flavors, burning my uniform in effigy, or espousing the Catholic doctrines I was taught by teachers with (mostly) good intentions. In those 20 years I've met many people of diverse backgrounds. Through more than a few I observed that faith (not religion, but faith) is not just housed among the very good, the very dogmatic, and those who shun all forms of venial sin.

A notable example: The best yoga teacher I ever had, a former heroin addict, could drink a bottle of wine and get blazed the night before class and still teach with the kind of patience and in-the-moment presence only gifted instructors possess. She was a good time gal, and a dedicated and very spiritual yogi – not an either/or. It gradually became clear that I didn't have to run from the religious prude archetype proffered by teachers back in my uniform days. I just had to merely give my regards and say, "No, thank you".

I may have veered off the path my parents put me on back in Kindergarten, while they have become even more devout, but I now understand the importance of respecting their beliefs even though they are not okay with mine (maybe slightly alarmed is more like it). We've even managed to have some conversations about our differences without skyrocketing blood pressures on either side (of the aisle).

So, instead of continuing to run, or drowning out the dogma with GN'R, I'll listen. I won't necessarily accept or adopt, but I'll listen. My yoga instructor once said: "flexible in the body, flexible in the mind". My sprint now is away from narrowness and rigidity, and toward a more catholic view – but allow me emphasize that lower-case "c".

Monday, August 3, 2009

It's Like, Galaxies

A galaxy is not just a million stars suspended in ethereal darkness -- try a billion. This soupe du ephemeral jour also includes other bits of "interstellar media" like gas and dust.

(If you ever happen to be kicking around the subject with your posse and need to refer to more than one, the technical term is "galactic clusters".)

According to those in the know, when the night sky is clear (particularly during summer nights -- excluding San Francisco), it's possible to see a stretch of stars that are - get this - located close to the center of the Earth's galaxy. That's right. Even though our solar system is a tiny dot in our very own Milky Way, we can see starry snippets of it because everything in it revolves around a magnetic core.

Of course we don't live in just any old type of galaxy; we live in a barred spiral one. This means that our galaxy's main body is circular with a center all lit up like a house on fire (a result of the aforementioned serious magnetic action). This shape also features "revolving arms" shooting out of the central mass of stardust. Basically, our galaxy shape is super symmetrical and looks cool. Not everyone lives in an awesomely shaped galaxy.

A galaxy by its very nature has wondrous qualities about it. Therefore, one might say its metaphorical antonym is a black hole. Black holes are fascinating but perhaps not as wondrous, except to astronomers and quantum physicists because they are a tiny bit more scary than sublime. This is why: they are spaces containing a gravitational pull so powerful that not even light - ¡light! - can escape. This is why someone, like my Dad, may occasionally drop a corn-infested joke about how they sporadically show up in a womens' handbags.

The "door" of a black hole is known as an "event horizon", through which items, matter, Rush Limbaugh I wish, are sucked right in, industrial vacuum style. An event horizon is a one-way door, though; nothing going in ever ventures out again. It's not unlike an anaconda and its meals of rattus and canus.

So you can imagine, with this preface, that when one likens one's feelings to the utter, incomprehensible massiveness that is a galaxy (1,000,000,000 stars, remember?) that those feelings are most assuredly very strong, and feel very profound to the proprietor of said emotions.

And now I give you Laura Viers. I haven't come across anyone who has usurped the concept of a galaxy to say so cogently something we've all felt -- and also applied a melody that results in a celestial union of lyrics and notes.

When you sing, when you sing
The stars fill up my eyes
Galaxies pour down my cheeks
Galaxies…they flood the street

When we dance, when we dance
Eels and sea grass float on by
I’m 10,000 leagues beneath the sea
10,000 leagues…beneath the green
10,000 leagues

When we kiss, when we kiss
Bears and boulders vibrate through the air
Gravity is dead you see
No gravity…all I need is beating red
No gravity…

Saturday, August 1, 2009


It's Q2 earnings season! For most public companies this means hauling together financial statements, comparing quarterly goals to the the last fiscal year, and figuring out to spin the latest stats into a really nice story that analysts will like and buy.

These days it's also a rather bleak exercise for most C-level executives who face the scrutiny of a board of directors and depressed shareholders. C-levels are the folks who don't get pink slipped. It's a blessing and a curse. If you're C-level your salary is likely hefty, you probably know every make of Lexus, and you regularly wear out Blackberrys. In the midst of an economic shitstorm, however, it can suck a little to be in charge -- unless you actually like canning people.

Luckily, I'm far from in charge. I just get to edit earnings transcripts, as well as other hapless editors' transcripts of CEOs and CFOs spinning their stories of financial woe in thick foreign accents.

[Quick note: if you are ever head of Investor Relations at a company, I highly advise that the scripted management update at the beginning of the call be delivered by someone who a) speaks well, b) enunciates, and c) does not have just a rudimentary ability with the English language. Analysts suffer, too.]

While I've been itching to blog about anything other than Q2 trancripts, I haven't had time. The chains of earnings season have kept me shackled to my desk until my eyes bleed and my head hurts, and I'm ready to vomit the corporate platitudes C-levels are so fond of saying. The only antidote to this is an episode of the Real Housewives of Atlanta or a good night's sleep. new favorite tune. I hope C-levels know that a good playlist goes a long way during earnings season. As Peaches would say: it f*&%s the pain away.


The following post was originally posted on my friend Matt Gonzalez's new blog: As It Ought To Be, "a progressive blog which hopes to encourage thought and action related to contemporary political and cultural matters". I'll be contributing in the future, around the general theme of music. Check it out!

When I leave my house it’s inevitable: I cork my ears with trusty buds, sheathed in silicone, to create a steely seal against the blaring cacophony of the outside world.

There have been times, pre, mid, and post corking, that I have wondered if it might be a better idea to pocket the music and walk the streets, or ride the bus, with naked ears. I get a nagging feeling that sometimes I’m missing out by this constant corking, no matter how much the songs on my current playlist light up my brain. What kind of price have I been paying for this musical corkage?

I'm a lot closer to an introvert than an extrovert, but I actually do cherish random, spontaneous conversations with strangers – not limited to, but somehow mostly on MUNI – but I rarely invite these experiences. Mostly, I’ve been bent on thwarting them by filling my ear canals with music and podcasts, pretty much effectively nullifying the outside world.

It began innocently enough. As a newly minted college graduate and San Francisco resident a decade ago, I created my own music bubble to deter “the crazy” – in all its forms – and especially when I rode public transportation after twilight. After a few random – and awesome – interactions with strangers (likely when my iPod ran out of juice or I was in between headphones) it began to dawn on me that I was cloaking myself with a sonic veil. So, every now and again I would gingerly stow the music away, as if conducting my own personal experiment in approachability. But this was rare.

Recently, I was walking through my parents’ suburban neighborhood on the way to a soul-boosting mocha when I crossed paths with a young jogger. Despite having exchanged an urban landscape for a suburban one, I hadn’t discarded my modus operandi for daily walks: earbuds firmly embedded. My focus was on the sonic landscape rather than the one through which I traipsed -- the one with trees and flowers and and things.

As the jogger came closer we made eye contact. He raised his right hand. In fact, his hand was poised as if to give me a…high five? This stranger in teeny shorts? With, what is that? A smile stretched across his face?

Sometimes, I’m slow. By the time it occurred to me to raise my own right hand to meet his cheerful intention with a conclusionary, flesh-smacking handclap, a random and transient thing that could have boosted me more than a mocha, the moment passed. His right hand never met mine because it remained at my side, gripping my iPod, that sonic seal I had created unbroken. And it sucked.

I regretted my reticence. But I also marveled at the stranger who had just dashed by, and his in-the-moment inclination to boost us both with a fleeting act: a freaking high five, a sort of impromptu namaste. And then it hit me: how many times have I thwarted a simple “good morning,” or “hello?” while ensconced in my cocoon of musical bliss? How many meaningful exchanges have I missed out on that could have been pleasant or thought-provoking punctuations to the daily routine, to otherwise ordinary days?

Last week I was in the same neighborhood. I offered a nod and a smile to those with whom I made eye contact. I paid attention. And if I hadn’t been, I would have missed the flyer. It was a “Thank You” to those in the neighborhood who had helped return a beloved and heretofore wayward canine. I stood in front of the flyer for a while, outside of my usual cocoon, hearing the mechanical wooshing of cars going by, squeaking breaks, occasionally thumping bass lines, and fragments of conversations spilling out of open windows. This flyer was a high five in paper form, and though it was not meant for me, I was absolutely moved by the earnestness of the message.

I’ve decided to build windows in my sonic wall, so it’s less barricade and more permeable membrane, allowing for greater connection/interaction with the outside world. There’s no changing my clinical (or technical) introversion, but I’ve seen that the outside world, this planet, is a good place and worth connecting with – if sometimes to the soundtrack of my making.