Friday, October 29, 2010

Dear Mike, Sonal and Peter

Where did we go?


Friday, November 16, 2007


Dear Annie, Mike, and Peter,
I have edited this entry, which I wrote on a night when I opted to ascribe thought and meaning to my life in a way that I've largely refused to do during the last few years. Please excuse the apparent narcissism in this entry; I hope I'm speaking in response to our conversation. Forgive me if parts are repetitive:

In my youth I experienced constant and unyielding suicidal thoughts, and I grew accustomed to my desire to kill myself. The exercise of creatively imagining death as my companion grew seductive, then habitual. In the concept of death, I finally felt like I had found a constant, a companion. In one short piece, I shoot myself in the face and surreally survive. Then I stare at myself in a mirror, pondering the aesthetic of blood on my skull and hair, the beauty of the external finally mirroring my troubled internal self--symmetry.

Yesterday, I experienced a quasi-opposite occurrence. I was wasted on several strong margaritas, and in the process of giving my margarita-making friend a critique on the beginning of his novel. The words soared up and down as I attempted to read them, like an elusive but grand predator bird on the white sky of my computer screen. Suddenly, I felt his hand caressing the nape of my neck, then gently twirling my hair. I froze. I felt no attraction to this friend, but the touch was soothing, and I didn't want him to stop. As my fiance's eyes settled on his hand, my drunk friend abruptly removed it from the environs of my visage. Five minutes later he threw up.

My fiance asked me what happened, and why I didn't really react when my friend placed his hand on my neck. I replied that I had been taken completely aback by my (or so I thought) entirely platonic friend's move. Then I admitted that while I felt no physical attraction or chemistry to the friend, the touch felt good, felt needed. To me, it felt like a nurturing touch, even if my friend had ascribed another meaning to it.

Today I discovered that I didn't pass the New York bar. The news didn't surprise me.
A friend who is like a sister encouraged me to fight the law firm that fired me this summer on false pretenses two weeks before I was to sit for the bar exam. She said that all this not fighting, this avoiding conflict, that I'm engaged in has to be wearing on my self-esteem--my sense that I can win. Before the bar exam, my youngest brother said, "You know, you don't have to fail the bar exam to tell everyone that you don't want to be a lawyer. You can pass the bar exam and then do whatever you want to do."

Tonight I stood before my bathroom mirror as I started to disrobe. In the dim light, I stared--I dare say I even ogled myself. I had forgotten how much I adore my own physical beauty. My flawless skin with its beautiful light bronze, almost golden, hue. My deep eyes, cocoa and amber thrown together intelligently. My nose that proclaims with its longness and bigness an obviously non-aryan ethnicity, and complicates my face in a Penelope Cruz sort of way, as one ex-lover has described it. My lips are delicate, mauve, a small flower smirking, pondering. My shiny, dark hair, a bouquet of colors under sunlight that falls perfectly around my face and on my shoulders, like dark rivers dropped. My petite body with its model-like proportions in a seriously miniature package. I reflect (no pun intended) on the fact that I would alter almost nothing. Seriously, arriving at this stage of self-love and narcissism took much time and mental effort. It's actually quite an accomplishment, especially given the external self-hate I often felt as a teenager. Tonight I felt a tug of impatience as I smiled at my beautiful self. "You must accomplish," I instructed, "before you lose your beauty. Marketing, Sonal--your picture on the back of your book will take you very far." I have grown into my own toxic and adoring parent now.

At some point, I lost my love of fight. I lost any desire to fight anything or anyone. I absolutely despise fighting. I was tired. On some subconscious level, I believed that I have lost every fight from its inception, so why even bother, why tire myself out in the process? I'm constantly terrified of losing, so I just choose to lose. There are no games anymore--everything feels ridiculously high-stakes, and I have a habit now of opting out, and then back in, when it's already too late--after much self-sabotage. Tonight I have decided again that so many times when I've claimed that I've care about the fight but have just detached myself from the results (as Krishna advises Arjun to do int he Mahabharata), I've realized that I've been completely lying to myself. I have been detached throughout, which means that I'm not fighting at all. I'm lying there as if I'm already dead and waiting to be run over, or screwed over, or lost. If I continue this way of life, I will give away everything that I love about myself. This is the change I need to make immediately. Physical beauty without mental feist will not satisfy me at all. I desire my hunger back, and am trying to awaken her with kisses and arguments.

I'm taking the GRE in December and applying to grad schools in Anthropology. I'm also going to retake the bar exam in February, and have already begun to envision myself beating it senseless (truth be told from the mouth of this nerdette, I've begun to visualize outlines and vastly organized colored notecards). It's going to be a few rough months of tests, applications, and then additional tests and applications. They are not just means to certain ends, but the good fight that I have to remember I owe myself in order to bring my inner self to equilibrium with the beautiful woman I gloriously objectified tonight.

Friday, October 26, 2007

late advice

Of course I'm not alone in saying that there are ups and downs to everything. I think that this is the main reason that our parents always tried to remind us that we should "never put all of our eggs in one basket." Being up on one thing usually means being down on another and it's only through our liberal use of narrowed focus (or ignorance, depending on how you look at it) that we are uniformly one or the other.

Some of the things that you were saying about Burning Man mirror my thoughts about graduate school. Like anything we're feeling up about, there isn't perfection, there are always bureaucracy and controversies, and nothing is always 100% memorable.

I would also not be the first to say that utopia and perfection are never instantiated fully and cannot really exist per se, since doing so would ruin them as ideals to strive for, goals to move toward.

Certainly our thoughts change, as do our bodies, as both age. This is, truly, the way of things, and these changes can often be in our ideals, as our values can change over time. It's not the same world from generation to generation, and it's not the same world from decade to decade. The experience of the changes of the world over time can and ought to influence our ideals, therefore, we should expect and even hope that our ideals will change.

This is difficult because it means that I cannot know now what it is that I will want to be chasing in ten years. It is difficult. But the experience of change should yield an understanding of the nature of change and, therefore, more foresight (we hope). Many in our parents' generation are quite well aware of their mistakes. We should hope to be so well aware of ours when we reach their age.

I sense in a lot of people in our generation a hesitancy to choose a path because of a hyper-awareness of options and power in changing one's own life. We must, however, choose something because the alternative is paralysis. Change is terrifying, however, the specter of stasis is more so. Unfortunately, it is only noticeable how scary stasis is when change provides a stark juxtaposition.

I miss you too. Midterms are over now, so I will have more time to talk when you call.


Friday, September 07, 2007



you sound so happy. so energized. even in your fucking text messages you seemed alive (all those exclamation points!!!!) I'd like to take advantage of your state and ask you some questions regarding your last post and some things on my mind.

is change really always good? what if I wake up one day and find that despite my commitment to growth, I have grown into something despicable? what if I become one of Les Grandes Personnes? what if I so accustom myself to change that I cannot settle in and enjoy the depths of mastery? and if there's a line, what does it look like? where do I find it? how do I find it?

and then there's the goldfish, who either jumped out of the water onto the floor and suffocated, or jumped out into the air and then fell back into the water. can we actually ever change? it seems the older I get the more I realize that I don't change that much. it's mostly my willingness and/or ability to express myself that changes. what is fresh and exciting after 28 years might not be after 35 or 42 or (oh god) 82 years. will the eccentricities slowly institutionalize themselves in my character and become impediments to deepening knowledge of self?

please advise. (missing you)

Wednesday, September 05, 2007


hey loves,

there are not words to tell you what i have experienced in the last two months. maybe it was my first taste of human potential realized? maybe it was the reek of failure? maybe the feeling of dust that doesn't wash off, of faces breaking into square pixels before my eyes, or willie nelson cooing from inside silver scales piled 25 feet high and meandering down a dirty road, or the smell of beer baked by the sun into hundreds of thousands of hard wood panels spanning 11,000 miles? incidentally, i'm experiencing something like culture shock sitting here at work.

i can't even talk about the tour right now. after a week of hibernation, i went to burning man and had my mind blown out the back of my head. if you haven't experienced it - and i know none of you have - it is impossible to to describe. at least one of you would hate at least part of it. it's a week of not showering, and being covered in playa dust (a playa is an ancient lake bed that is completely dry now, on which absolutely nothing grows or lives). it is also a week of radical self-acceptance, of giving for the sake of giving, of extraordinary works of art and artistry, of relaxing into an effortless flow of time. for me it also meant a whole lot of experimenting, wandering, touching, feeling, retreating from thought, crying and more smiling than even i have ever done in one week.

at one point i was riding my bike on the playa and a little voice popped up in my head saying "start thinking, start digging, there's got to be some struggle, some conflict, something you're doing wrong that you have to right." but there wasn't. i had peace in my mind, and it wasn't because i was ignoring anything, it wasn't because i was intoxicated. i was just peaceful. happy even. it felt so foreign and yet so sweet.

the purpose of this blog is to describe the peculiar state of exile we are all in. it's different for each of us. at burning man i felt involved in human kind. i also felt a palpable absence of something i can't name - a face, a numbness, a stranger, maybe my own limits? i felt like burning man was a refugee camp at the edge of imagination. except that we had all willingly travelled there - we were not longing for a distant homeland, this was our home. maybe that's it. coming home, i long for that place. not the hot sun and pervasive dust, but the place where my absolute self is free to play on its own schedule and where what i give and what i take cannot be quantified on a value scale.

it wasn't perfect. and to be honest, there are whole days i hardly remember, having hardly slept all week. and it's got its own bureaucracy and controversies; it's an imperfect species' attempt at creating a perfect utopia. it is limited by the fact that we have come so far down the road of hatred, greed, loneliness and suspicion that we forget that we are not bound by them or to them.

it seems futile to try to describe this all from the peculiar state i am in - strungout, tired, sad to be back to a path i am ready to passing beyond, and simultaneously eager to do whatever i am doing right now as best as i can. futile. but everything is futile really. so that's no excuse.

i miss you all, oh and Sonal, i can't believe you're getting married. i carried you and Chirag in my heart all week, to bless and protect you on the road ahead. i love you dearly.

love, anne.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

In pursuit of astonishment

Disparate Comrades,

"nowadays we are on a course of steady desensitization"

I've been very happy recently. So happy, actually, that I've not even noticed that my mood has changed. (Here I pause to affirm the fact that happiness is not the same as elation and the two should never be construed.) Right now--and I might still be reeling from all this--everything is simply new, different, and uncertain. The specific reason for this is that I've just quit my job and started graduate school full time. I have no paycheck and am totally uncertain how I will pay next month's rent. Nevertheless, I am meeting new people and having totally different experiences and I've already gained the following bit of perspective that I feel I really want to share with you.

You will notice that you feel really good about yourself when you have the emotional time to feel really good about someone else. Now that I'm not mopping up my own self-inflicted grief inside, I have time to say this: I have two friends who just started teaching today. I was so glad to hear that they were embarking on something today. I was happy for them that they had started something new. And part of it was because I was too, but it really would be different if all my friends were miserable right now. I want very much that my friends are happy.

I was also very happy to have all of you in one room (bar) not long ago. It was important that we all met together once. I think it's still important to meet in person, even if we are scattered here and there by chance and this country being absolutely enormous.

My sister has a little niece, who's a neat little lady. I'm super glad that she'll grow up with good parents. I don't think I said that last I was visiting.

Anyway, people are really awesome. And people from everywhere are awesome. And I wish that more people really understood that.

The second thing is about learning. In order to learn well, you have to be engaged in what you're learning. If you aren't engaged, you won't put energy into learning and you will, of course, not learn much or only what you have to learn. That's much worse than making a mistake and no way to learn anything at all. In order to be engaged, however, you must have some sort of reaction. It doesn't have to be a positive reaction: you could learn from frustration and being challenged. It's a bit of a chore that way, but it can lead to serious motivation. It could be excitement, or a more visceral reaction, a physical reaction. It feels good to learn this thing. It feels good to exercise this part of my mind, or my being. But it's not easy to be in a state like this--it's easier to be sarcastic and bitter, to turn your nose up because you already know that, to show off or develop a parallel agenda. Sometimes it takes nothing short of astonishment to snap out of that way of being. I've noticed this kind of process has taken place recently, making me suddenly realize how I've been for so long. It's like, Anne, when Naeem talked about that one moment when the goldfish jumps up into the air and realizes that she's been in the water all this time. So, I've promised to let myself be astonished as often as possible. (This one has great side effects.)

The last one I kind of already mentioned--in fact it's been a thread all the way through this. Change is essential for growth. Everything mentioned above is predicated on change. Every change is like a miniature version of the goldfish scenario. The Goldfish Principle states that "You can't fully understand where you are until you're somewhere else." There are many layers of meaning to this, which layers require more space and time than is currently available to explain. Suffice it to say here that, along any semantic trajectory you may chose on or through said layers of meaning, the concept is that it is simply not possible to give full context to your present position while you occupy it (whether or not it's possible to give full context at all is debatable, but irrelevant). You must change in order for context to be lent to your previous position. This gives rise to such poetic paradoxes as "you don't know yourself until you change" and is related to "you can't listen if you're talking (or thinking about what to say)."

I won't get into all the ways you can change your routine without throwing in the towel, I'm assuming we're above a pep-talk here. These are still things worth consideration and serious questions like, "what makes me happy for my friends?" and "when was the last time I was astonished by something?" If the answers to those sorts of questions yield little, CHANGE SOMETHING. It could be anything; talk to someone new, start playing the tuba, whatever.

This is probably my first really positive post, but I hope it won't be my last. There's tons to be concerned about, but we shouldn't forget this kind of stuff. I wish for all of you the following things: good sleep, laughs, and lovely dreams.


Wednesday, August 15, 2007

We're All Going to....?

Hello All,
On the walk to the bus after work today, I found myself thinking a cynical thought about humanity. I had just witnessed two cars in the parking lot of an outlet store, with women inside talking to each other while the cars were running (I can only assume for the AC). In my head I remarked about the total lack of conscientiousness that must take. "They are goin to hell for that shit." Then I said to myself "Oh God, I'M goin straight to hell for that one." Then suddenly it dawned on me, that I wasn't cause I don't believe in that and it was awfully preposterous of me to say that.

So this got me thinking. I kind of do believe in it. Maybe hell is not so much a place in a metaphysical sense (such as a place you eventually go TO, far removed from this reality). Maybe hell is in fact a temporal phase of what we already know. Meaning that our world will one day become hell, instead of our souls going TO hell once our bodies die. The phrase "We're all going to hell" is semantically a construct of the religious assessment of this eventual environment. An archaic concept created by people to punish that which they fear most, the "sins" of humans. An idea they could imagine and had seen signs of in their world, but which had to exist on a grand scale to punish. And since they couldn't fathom a truly Globalized world, they put into another dimension.

Hell is the idea that we're all going to suffer that which we fear most unless we are good. And if THAT is the case, then Hell isn't a place we're GOING to in the next life. Hell is instead a phase of the earth. A phase we can now imagine quite easily given how much smaller the world is to us these days. A phase we can avoid if we can somehow reverse the current trend we are on (wasteful, globally detrimental living, ie. sinning). The religious idea is well intentioned then; to avoid the disgraceful way we are destroying the very environment WE depend on for our stability. Theologians or religionists were focused on the morality of humans collapsing, and that that would cause our undoing. But who is to say in a modern world where we have learned so much else about our universe and ourselves, that morality doesn't include destruction of ourselves over the long term by eliminating our environment. If there is a god, he/she/it don't need this environment. Nobody else but US needs it. Cockroaches, rats, jellfyish, and various and sundry parasites are just licking their lips waiting for us to expire. The religious concept of Hell encapsulated the views that it saw as creating a hell-ish form of humanity. So the concept then just needs a little 21st century updating. In this the phrase ought to be changed to "We're all headed towards the hell." If we keep up as we are, we'll all experience the hell in one of four forms: burning, through the drying out of lands once arable and usable, drowning, through the flooding of lands once dry-er, starving as a result of both those things, or through violence, again brought on by the challenges of all those previously mentioned. Sounds a bit like the Pitchforky depths dudn't it.

A bit morbid, maybe, but I think that since nowadays we are on a course of steady desensitization to just about everything else, we need to wake up, grow up, accept that we are shredding the very bed we sleep in, and start avoiding the hell.

Come on Kids! Dive right in!