Thursday, March 31, 2005

Sometimes you need to think less about the beginning and just begin. How many people pay attention to the start? Can you remember the first few years of your life. The first few lines of that amazing book. It was the Best of times. It was the worst of times. That's the only first line of any book I have ever remembered and I'm happy to admit I never made it to the end. I love books but sometimes I spread my love too thin.

When I was a small child my father owned a bookstore. Though it seemed big at the time when I was just learning how to walk, it was a mere sliver compared with any Borders or Barnes and Noble. It was in a shady part of town where few people would want to walk after dark and where bums would stroll in off the street looking for a place to warm their hands. Sometimes my dad gave them a little cash. The bookstore didn't make much money but he gave what he could anyhow.

Eventually there just wasn't enough money anymore. My dad let his partner buy him out. For next to nothing. And I don't know if he was ever the same after that. I was so young. But I remember. I remember a glimmer in his eye. Maybe of wondering what was over the horizon. He took a job at a printer. He worked nights. My mom worked days and they rarely saw each other. Later he worked for a non-profit. And he stayed there forever. They fired him and rehired him and payed him very little. And I wonder if he ever wanted anything else. Anything more. He got his highschool sweetheart and a family of four and a house in the suburbs and now a big TV and I wonder if he reads as many books as he wants to anymore. I wonder what he's got left. What makes him happy. If what he has is enough. If he has learned to get the most pleasure from the simplest things or whether he has simply given up.

and I wonder if he ever thinks about the beginning or if he's always thinking about the end.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

When you're gone for a little while you don't read people's blogs. You just have to accept that. There's not time to go back and read it all now. Just let it go. Whatever happened during that week happened and somehow you managed to slip outside of time. Where the waves roll in and out again.

As I came back through customs and immigration the man checking my passport asked if I had brought any goods back. I told him no. "You were there 6 nights and you didn't even get a t-shirt?" Nope. I got a tan a hangover and a couple pictures on my digital camera. Wanna see? He smiled, shook his head and waved me through.

The trip was good. I don't look like the average american college idiot and so the people of Cancun didn't treat me as such. Somehow the combination of blood from my jewish, Eastern European ancestors managed to mingle in a just the right way to make me look a little different. May be I look italian or latin or arab. No one can really tell. This on top of the fact that my spanish accent is surprisingly authentic. So I found myself enthralled with the girls on vacation from Guatemala. Their dark skin contrasting so much more beautifully with the white sandy beaches than the fake-boobed, braided-hared, tan-lined, drunk, and slutty girls from New York and New Jersey. So much more flavor. If only my high school spanish teacher could see me now.

So I got more than I bargained for. The anthropologist in me yelled to get out of the hotel and go see the native people. The College Student in me yelled to forget about the people and follow the girls to the clubs. The Intellectual in me scolded me for wanting to chase the girls to the clubs and insisted I spend my days reading on the beach under the radiant glow of the latin sun. Somehow I managed to indulge all three. Oh Cancun, how I love you. How I loathe you. I don't think you will ever know.

I returned rejuvenated only to find that I didn't get the job I was holding out for in NYC this summer. And like all those kids on Easter morning, I had managed to put most of my eggs in one basket. So now the scramble begins. Maybe for a job. Maybe for a trip to a far off land. That's the fun of it. Just not knowing.

Monday, March 21, 2005

I'm getting on a plane to Cancun tomorrow and I don't have anywhere to sleep for the first night. There's something about leaving life up to karma and chance. Even if it means sleeping on the beach. Even if there's a million screaming college kids, there will be no cell phones and no laptops, only the sand between my toes. And that's good enough for me.

I'll see ya when I see ya.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

I'm convinced that girls from my past have some kind of radar. They know when I come within 50 miles of them. And last night, after I had spent most of the evening in my family home watching three episodes of Six Feet Under in HBO on Demand, an old flame called. She hadn't called in months and I hadn't told a soul I would be at home. But the phone rang and Ash was on the other side of the line. She was downtown and she was drinking and she wanted me there.

Ash was the kind of girl in high school I loved to hate and hated to love. Younger, hotter, stupider, more popular, more confident and waaay more bitchy. She was the kind of girl who ignored me and that was OK, cuz I ignored her too. I don't know what happened, but one day I was invisible and the next I was the center of attention. I dunno if I grew or got a really good haircut or just started walking a little taller, but all the sudden these girls wanted me to hang with them. The cheerleaders and the poms and the girls with the big houses wanted me around. Even if I listened to jazz. Even if I drove an old car. Even if I used big words they didn't understand. Because as big as the words were, my smile was bigger. They wanted to get me drunk and smoke pot and kiss me and take me to that little apartment over the garage where they showed me how to do very bad things.

And Ash, somehow she transfixed me. She wasn't the prettiest or the funniest or the richest. I was just intrigued. Intrigued by the red hair and the freckles and the giggle and the cigarettes. Now Ash takes care of old people and lives with some poor guy from Michigan that she tells me she doesn't love. So when I met her at the bar I knew I was in for trouble. Her older sister kept the drinks coming and the attitudes in check. And Ash moved closer. She played with my hair. She grabbed my arm. And back on her sisters couch she wouldn't let me go. She wouldn't let me leave.

I was 2 days form leaving for Cancun and somehow I'd managed to get stuck on the couch with a crazy ex. That's where I realized, at 4 AM, between her drunken slurs, that after all the drinking and partying and yelling and the bad breakups and the sad boyfriend and the insults and her trying to get me undressed, all she wanted was someone to care. I wouldn't let her kiss me. But I let her lay her head on my chest as I drifted off to sleep.

It's the little thing that always get you.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

In under 72 hours I'll be getting off the plane and entering the spring break of all spring breaks. It's the kind of vacation high school boys dream about. They salivate over MTV imagining what it would be like just to brush up against one of those girls. And there I'll be, jammed right in the middle of sue from Ohio and Mary from Mississippi.

It's break and I've gone to see the family for a least a moment. And I found that while I was gone, my house entered the 21st century. They got on demand digital cable. And as I sat there actually feeling guilty for seeking out some crap movie in the menu rather than just happening upon it while channel surfing, I tried to get amped for the week to come. But all I could think was "man, I really want to take a girl to the movies." I don't want to bang her or pour chocolate on her or smack her ass or get naked on a dace floor of foam. I don't want to wakeup with her bra on the light fixture and my cousin in the next bed. I want to sit in that soda-stained seat and feel the electricity of my arm-hairs touching hers. I want her to grab my hand when something jumps out. I want her to giggle and laugh at the stupid jokes I whisper all movie long in her ear. I want to smell her perfume in the car on the way home. I want to give her a little kiss on the cheek when I wish her goodnight. I want her to ask me up and I want to say "I've got a long day tomorrow" and smile my big smile.

So if there was ever a worse point from which to head into spring break in Cancun, this is it. But I've got a notepad in my backpack and a pen in my pocket. If nothing else I'm going to write the best spring break article you have ever read. Or maybe I'll just get over myself, shave my chest and do it up right.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

There is really something cool about the first 45 seconds right after you wake up. Your body is in reboot mode. It's like all the different sections of you brain disconnected while you were sleeping and slowly the synapsis remember what they're supposed to do and start firing again. Information pops out of your long term memory and into your short term. You suddenly become aware of where you are.

Yesterday morning I woke up early. Too early.

At 5 seconds I realized that Ben Lee's "Catch My Disease" was playing on clock radio.
At 10 seconds I realized it was 7 a.m.
At 15 seconds I realized there was a goldfish in my room.
At 20 seconds I realized that that I had class in a little over an hour
At 25 seconds I realized that I had done something really stupid the night before
At 30 seconds I was trying to figure out what it was. I was searching the room for any clothing that would prove a girl had shared my bed the night before.
At 45 seconds I realized that my cousin had found a crazy deal and convinced me to come to Cancun for spring break.

I screamed out in agony. What had I done? There's a reason Goldman Sachs offered my cousin far too much money to come work for them in NYC when he graduates from Stanford in a few months. And he had used every technique in the training manual until he convinced me of the awesomeness of the deal. 6 nights in Cancun. Airifare and 5-star hotel for under 7 hundo. Less than a week out. He's a businessman. I'm a journalist. He'll go to Cancun to drink and party. I'll go to do an ethnography. You won't find me doing typical college stuff to often. But I am, after all, in college. So I will swallow my pride and my $320 direct flight to Cancun Internation and do what we college kids do.

I'm not better than the rest of them. Tony reminded me yesterday:

"remember that all you barely legal know it alls who think that you can see into the crystal ball of the future. i have been to the future and i come back to you to say you dont know shit and thats the good news."

He's right. I don't know shit. But I know that it's 80 degrees in Cancun, there's lots of down-home midwestern girls waiting for me and I look good in a pair of boardshorts. We kick the tires and light the fires Monday. So it goes.

Monday, March 14, 2005

There's no way I'm going to make it through the week without my two new amazing finds. The first: The coolest and easiest way to search the web for straight-up information. Now I'm just waiting for Firefox to design a plugin so that I can access to it all the time in my search box. The other necesity's name is Amos Lee. I don't know where this guy's been hiding but 'keep it loose, keep it tight' is going to get a sickening amount of playtime.

I don't know why, but I can't get away from this urge I have lately to be around people. Not around my roommates or classmates or sorority girls but large groups of people. I can't study in the library, I have to go to Starbucks. I don't want to watch TV, I want to watch people at the mall. I don't want to read your blog, I want to read the expressions on your face while you pass me on the crowded streets. I want to go to movie theaters and parks and the grocery store. I just want to feel connected. I want to be a part of a community. The more you learn the more you yearn for simpler and simpler things.

It's that time of year to start thinking about where I'm going to live com next fall. I've got a real tempting offer. A 3-bedroom setup. Sweet house, won't have to take the bus anymore (though I've grown kind of attached to the bus rides across town), it's close to the sorority (and the big boss man already assured me I'll have the position waiting for me when I come back), it's a 9 month lease and interior is remodeled with granite countertops and a posh bathroom finished to immaculate detail.

But there's always a catch. And the catch here is that I would have to be John Ritter. Granted, they are two cool girls and they've promised to give me some serious liberties when it comes to crotch-grabbing, inviting sorority girls over and drinking beers. But god damn I don't know what I'm going to do when I come home and one of them asks me how my day was. And then gets angry when the only answer I give is "fine.
And then they're going to pull out the "we need to have a talk" line and I'll revert back to hammocks but it won't be nearly as funny as it is when I use it on the girls I'm dating.

I'm desperately in need of a cheap last-minute ticket to Florida. The gulf side cuz that's how I roll. I hope I can figure this shit out. Cousin calling trying to convince me to go to Cancun. Girls want me to come to Aspen. If only I was in that income tax bracket.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Ya, that's me. My triumphant photo entrance into the blogosphere. Definitely the best picture taken last night. The girls were playing with my hair. I was going all Krameresque yesterday.

But today it was too nice to sit at home. It's march and it should be cold and snowy but it's 65 and I'm feeling pretty alive. Sometimes you just have to break the cycle of roomates and classmates and sorority girls. Sometime you have to remind yourself that there's something going on outside of your own existence. It's happening down the block and across the street and even in the house next to you. So I ventured out alone and onto the bus. Down to the pedestrian mall. Just to see new faces. Too see kids playing and smiling. To see Street performers with flaming pins and people asking for money. So many of the greatest works were written by loners. But they weren't always written about being alone.

I found my place in the crowd. Wandering. Remembering that a community is more than just a bunch of weblogs linking back and forth between each other into infinity. That most people want to feel like they're a part of someplace, some group with real faces and sounds and emotions. Then I found myself snuggled away in the corner of the bookstore paging through magazines. Today's reading list included Utne Reader, The New Republic, SKI, and even People Mag. It's all about diversity.

Ironically, the comfortable corner in the magazine section is right in front of the sports rack. All those people walk by probably thinking I'm reading about skateboards and bodybuilding while I'm pondering the future of religious fundamentalism. That's fine, let them think whatever. But it does get in the way of my fantasy. The one where some pretty girl sits down on the bench nearby reading something similar. And smiles at me. And we chitchat about what we're reading. I'd make some stupid joke. And she would indulge me.

I've had plenty of smart girlfriends but it never fails that whenever I take them to the bookstore, as soon as I sit down they grab the latest issue of Cosmopolitan or Glamour or whatever other beauty magazine they can get their hands on. These girls were valedictorians and honors students and on full scholarships. But they weren't peeking over my shoulder at The Economist. So when Maureen Dowd complains about being a rare breed, I don't know if I can point the finger at editors right away. Damn, I was going to write about editorials. So it goes.

I think there's something really cool and deep about crosswalks. I don't know what is it but I'm sure there's something there. Which is why I won't write about crosswalks. Because anything that jumps out and yells "METAPHOR" at you isn't going to help you get anywhere but across the street. So I stare with contempt at the white walking stick man each time I cross the intersection. And I had a headache this week. Apparently it's called a sinus infection but I've never had anything like it so I don't really know. I was doing whatever I could to distract myself from it. Even if it meant being that guy walking the streets with the ipod earbuds in.

And as I crossed the street, scowling intently at the man in white, A girl crossed my path. As she passed me she looked straight into my eyes, raised her right hand to her face and pointed at her eyes, index finger under the cloudy blue globe on the right and middle finger under the left. It was strange. Kind of cool. I had no idea what she was trying to tell me. But for some reason I thought it was a reminder to take a look around. Take a second to let the distractions fade.

And the next day my friend made a $10 bet with me in true Ed fashion. Never watched Ed? Bowling alley lawyer? Good Television. Where were we? Oh right, the bet. Get across the street at the crosswalk. Rush hour. Cartwheels only. So there I was, being mocked by the crosswalk's man in white. Cartwheeling. Cars lined up like a studio audience. And I was wondering what the girl with the blue eyes would have thought of me now.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

It's inevitable that kids will do the opposite of whatever their parents want them to. It's like human nature these days. If my father had his way I'd probably be a Buddhist and a tennis player and a prick slated to graduate from some stuffy old small ivy school in the frozen forest of the northeast. If my mother had her way, I would live down the block and come over every day to gossip about my life's juicy details so she could send it out across the hotline to extended families and coworkers. I'm not a rebel but I know when to rebel.

But anyone can appreciate the wisdom that comes with age. And with the blogosphere comes infinite mentors willing to guide me through the pitfalls of life's important and trivial challenges. Where would I be without Tony P.? He fosters all those creative juices and makes me want to be more than I am. I read Jeff Jarvis' Buzzmachine everyday because he makes me look long and hard at journalism from every angle. Lately I found Eric hiding in his Great Elsewhere. I think Eric's job is going to be keeping me humble. Keeping me focused. Maybe smacking me across the face every once in a while.

Yesterday a writer for a pretty big magazine came to the journalism school. Somehow I managed to convince the faculty to let me meet with him one on one. And somehow he brought up how cool it would have been to have blogs when he was in journalism school. And I could have just smiled and nodded and waited for the moment to pass. But sometimes I'm prideful and boastful and hungry for recognition. So I told him I had a blog. And at first mentioned how I didn't really tell anyone I knew about it. But he had this disarming presence. Probably the same presence he used for the last 15 years pulling amazing stories out of famous people. And there it was. on a small slip of paper, folded once and slipped into his pocket.

And I could hear the voice in the back of my head screaming "NO! Get it back. Just ask for it back. Tackle him if you have to but don't let him leave the room with that address!" But he just kept smiling. And I was helpless. Helpless to tell him that I'm not ever sure I want to be a journalist. Even though I'd bet he'd tell me that he wasn't either. So now there's two people out there roaming around who know me. Which, come to think of it, isn't as scary as all the people who come here not having a clue who I truly am: A one-eyed transvestite posting from the children's section of the public library where I spend most of my days looking at porn God Bless Al Gore for inventing the internet.

I remember sitting on the pier by the dock of the fish processing plant. I remember being lost somewhere in the many bays of Alaska. I remember watching the weary eyes of sailors drifting as aimlessly as the tide from ship to shore and back to ship again. Daylight never really faded to darkness. But, like the stench of salmon, the eternal sunshine takes it place upon the list of things you forget to notice when you awake. In those two minutes between dreaming and consciousness when your brain is sure that neither world could be real.

The tide rolled in and slipped back out again.

And I try to tell her about it
on the bench in the shopping
mall stuck between Starbucks
and Abercrobie

And I try to tell her about it
In the basement while Wolf
Blitzer babbles on about the white

And I try to tell her about it
while she tugs not
so gently
on the buttons of
my stretchy collared shirt

And she says "just shut up and kiss me." But I'm not her love slave. So I kiss her on the cheek, toss her the brand new copy Tony's "How To Blog" that arrived yesterday and tell her that it will give her all the loving she needs. That it will whisper sweet nothings in her ear. She flipped through a couple pages and said "it looks like poetry. You told me you hate poetry."
I do baby. I do. But read now and I'll see you tomorrow.
"Where are you going?" she asked.
I grinned. Somewhere the tide rolled in and out again. And somehow, I was going to find it.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

I'm not a brilliant person. I'm not really that smart at all. Brilliant people set themselves apart because they see the unseen. The world unfolds in their mind at an exponential rate. They hear the music before they play it. They see the entire building before they build it. They know every words of the sentence before they say it. They see every brushstroke of the painting before they paint it. And of course, they know where their post is going before they start it. I know I'm not a brilliant man. My mother has repeatedly tried to convince me that I could be, if it weren't for her home-diagnosed ADD that keeps my mind too cluttered. But if I had the heart to tell her about this blog, she could come see that somehow I manage, on nearly a daily basis, to sit down and clear my head enough put ideas into words.

I admitted to my journalism professor today that I don't want to be a journalist. He told me he knew. He could tell from my articles that I like writing and not reporting. I told him I was just too selfish. Too selfish to simply be the vessel for the facts and the quotes of other people. Too selfish to let the story run the show. Newspaper reporters are on the front lines dredging the river and panning for stories like they were gold. Reporters have to stand there in the murky waters wading and sifting through the shit to find the nuggets of gold. I'd rather be the guy in the shop with the kiln and the chisel. I'll turn those deformed gold nuggets into blingin' necklaces and rapper's teeth.

There's a girl in the class who is bound to make a name for herself as a reporter. She was standing just outside the door listening to the entire conversation. Probably taking notes cuz that's what reporters do. And afterwards we talked about it. She told me about civic responsibilities and how reporters control the stories by digging deep enough yadda yadda yadda. We went head to head. I told her I wanted to be a newsmaker, not a newstaker. And even though she was making some really good, points, all I could do was stare at the bleached spot on her front tooth and think about how her southern accent was completely disarming me. And I could go on. But I'm not a brilliant man. Not by a long shot.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Any time a girl says something like "we need to talk" or "do you have time to talk?" or anything remotely similar, you know you're in for some shittiness. You're probably thinking Hawaiian Girl said that to me but she hasn't yet. It's coming though, I can feel it. Like I didn't know what I was getting myself into. Oh no, I knew.

The last time a girl pulled out that line it went something like this:
"Hey, do you have a minute to talk?"
Sure, but only if we talk about hammocks
I've got time for hammocks that's about it
(she stares at me blankly)
You know, the mesh thingies. Tie them between two trees or, if you're too lazy, get the ones already on the metal frames and stuff.
"I know what they are, I just wanted to talk to you about..."
I hope you're about to say 'how comfortable they are.' cuz they're damn comfortable
"well, ya, they are."
Cool, well that was a good talk, I gotta run

And I'm still laughing about that one today. I think when HG wants to talk I'll either say hippopotomi or strawberries.

People read this blog. And by people I mean 20 something males who are anxious, dissatisfied and looking for something to change their life. To all of them I'll tell you what I have found, after making more big changes than you can count on one hand. They don't last. They're like the Hawaiian Girl. Quick fixes. If you want to love your life, if you want to live, and I mean really live, you gotta learn to love the small stuff. Everyone is telling us we have to be bigger and smarter and richer and prettier. They want you to be unhappy. That means you'll consume. But it's when you start to realize that what you've got is already so special, you'd be a fool to walk away, that it all finally starts to make sense.

Take that for what you will. Or move to hollywood and become a moviestar/to NYC and become a CEO/ to Here and become a blogger.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Tonight I got knocked on my ass in so many ways. Our team got together for the championship hockey game (in case you forgot I just started playing a few weeks ago) and somewhere near the end of the period the score was tied 1-1 when I was blindsided from out of nowhere. And The stars came out early. Somehow the hit went unnoticed. 10 seconds on the ground. I shook my head. I made it back to the bench. I sat down. Then I fell off. The ground felt at least a little safe. I wish I remembered one of the Team's other newbies scoring the winning goal in overtime but I don't.

The next thing I remember is walking to may car and hearing a girl's voice.
"Hey. You alright?"
Uh, yeah, just a little woozy
Well good job out there. Oh, by the way, I saw Hawaiian Girl tonight. She was out with some other dude. I saw them kissing too."

4 Advil, 3 for the head and 1 for the heart. I saw one of these hits coming and it wasn't the one on the ice. But it's hard because it means I really do have to start filling up. That what' ive got is transitory. It's not the kind fo stuff tha'll keep me satisfied for very long.. Man I'm a fucking hypocrite. Yesterday I tell you all about never being satisfied and just a few days ago I was spewing some nonsense how everything is just right and none of you are calling me out. Isn't that what bloggers do?

But there's plenty of people out there in the blogosphere calling other people out. There's millions of blogs out there. There's people writing about their passion and their heart and their soul. There's people out there tapping that deep aquifer that most people won't find in a lifetime of digging. There are miners out there. And they're digging deep. Sometimes when you're down that deep people can't see you. But that's part of the mystery and wonder of exploration. And there's all these people down there digging but what are the most popular blogs? They're the mud slingers. They're the ones out for blood. They're the ones making fun of celebrities. If that doesn't tell you something about the human psyche I don't know what does. But it's okay. I'll repeat what I said a while ago:

The rest of the blogosphere can write about the shit. You can have the sex and the blowjobs and one night stands and the drugs and the drunken stupors and the jobs you hate and fucking politicians you hate and all the stuff that doesn't matter out here in reality and all your superficial bullshit. Cause mother fuckers I got love locked down right over here. And there ain't nothing you can do about it.