Friday, August 28, 2009

I just finished the last disc of "In Treatment" Season 1. I saw it was the last disc, so I rushed to add Season 2 to Netflix, but it hasn't been released. No!

I wasn't too familiar with Gabriel Byrne before this, but now I can't even imagine that he could be different from his therapist character Paul Weston, he's that good of an actor. I like how the series doesn't just stay on personal intrigues a la "Grey's Anatomy" but seriously explores some philosophical topics, like what is the real value of therapy, or can you really know a person just by talking to them. One character even compares therapy to prostitution, in that you are paying a person for intimacy.

Watching the series play out, it's not always clear what the creators want you to think. Sometimes it seems like there is a moment of unbelievable insight into these characters, that Paul really nailed down why the teenager tried to kill herself, or why the couple can't make their marriage work. But other times, you're thinking, this is just a bunch of therapist BS, they should stop talking and get their money back because it's not doing any good. And then therapist Paul can't even handle his own emotional life and goes to another therapist, casting even more doubt on the value of analysis. At its root the show is about how human behavior defies explanation, even for a so-called professional.
I successfully made it to my dentist appointment yesterday. Too bad I have two cavities that need to be filled :-(. Time to banish the soda and candy from my diet.

Sunday, August 23, 2009


So C. is leaving.

"By the way, I'm moving next week," she told me last Saturday over lunch at a Middle Eastern restaurant.

By the way, I'm moving? If I was moving, I'd tell people months in advance. I'd have a job lined up and money saved, and even then I'd still be freaking out about it. But I know that's not her style.

I always knew El Paso couldn't hold her, not someone who has lived in Abu Dhabi and visited Paris twice and wants to make films for a living.

I'll miss our adventures. "I'm up for anything," she once said, and it was definitely true. Film festivals, salsa dancing, trendy restaurants, protest marches, we turned this town upside down and did a lot of amazing things together.

But there's another side to C. besides the cosmopolitan adventurer. This is the same girl who doesn't read the paper and makes a perfect Jell-O salad, and who would invite a nerd like me to parties with her other cool friends. There's a lack of cynicism in her deep green eyes, a Midwestern innocence that I hope she never loses.

Yeah, I know it wouldn't be right for her to stay here, but the selfish kid in me wants to beg her to stay, because I am going to miss her terribly.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

"Saving the World's Women" is this week's topic in the NY Times Magazine:
Women hold up half the sky,” in the words of a Chinese saying, yet that’s mostly an aspiration: in a large slice of the world, girls are uneducated and women marginalized, and it’s not an accident that those same countries are disproportionately mired in poverty and riven by fundamentalism and chaos. There’s a growing recognition among everyone from the World Bank to the U.S. military’s Joint Chiefs of Staff to aid organizations like CARE that focusing on women and girls is the most effective way to fight global poverty and extremism.


Why do microfinance organizations usually focus their assistance on women? And why does everyone benefit when women enter the work force and bring home regular pay checks? One reason involves the dirty little secret of global poverty: some of the most wretched suffering is caused not just by low incomes but also by unwise spending by the poor — especially by men. Surprisingly frequently, we’ve come across a mother mourning a child who has just died of malaria for want of a $5 mosquito bed net; the mother says that the family couldn’t afford a bed net and she means it, but then we find the father at a nearby bar. He goes three evenings a week to the bar, spending $5 each week.
Here's the full article.
Update: I realized after posting yesterday that my dentist appointment is actually for next Thursday, so I didn't miss it. Yay. But I think not missing it actually proves me more absentminded, not less, since I both mixed up the date AND forgot what I thought was the right time for the appointment.

Friday, August 21, 2009

- I completely forgot about my dentist appointment yesterday despite writing it on my calendar and thinking about it several times earlier in the week. Can memory loss start at 27? How is it going to be 20 or 30 years from now?

- I bought two new CDs off Amazon today. It has been so long since I've bought any real new music (as opposed to old albums I buy used). I have no idea what's popular, which is scary. I consider myself a Moby fan but didn't even know he released a new album earlier this year. And ever since hearing a piece on NPR about Regina Spektor I've been meaning to order her newest album. I finally got around to it. I am so old-fashioned when it comes to music technology. I still have my old CD player that is at least 10 years old, and I don't do MP3 downloads or iPods or anything like that. Perhaps that should change. Maybe when I start making more money.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Saw this short film last night. It was great to see a project filmed entirely in El Paso and Juarez. It was also really refreshing to see a movie about the border that's not about illegal immigration and/or drug smuggling.
Yet spending on health care, by families and by the government, is crowding out spending on almost everything else. As a nation, we now spend almost 18 percent of our GDP on health care. In 1966, Medicare and Medicaid made up 1 percent of total government spending; now that figure is 20 percent, and quickly rising. Already, the federal government spends eight times as much on health care as it does on education, 12 times what it spends on food aid to children and families, 30 times what it spends on law enforcement, 78 times what it spends on land management and conservation, 87 times the spending on water supply, and 830 times the spending on energy conservation. Education, public safety, environment, infrastructure—all other public priorities are being slowly devoured by the health-care beast.
From "How American Health Care Killed My Father" in The Atlantic's September issue. Worthwhile reading as the issue of health care reform comes to the forefront.
It was a bummer of a Friday night. I debated for a long time whether to go out or not. I woke up around 5 a.m. that morning and stayed awake for an hour and a half before finally falling back asleep. I was tired all day at work thinking about car wrecks and executions. But my friend texted me. "I'll be at the Plaza around 8:30 if you want to meet me." OK. "Rocky Horror Picture Show" at the Plaza or sit alone in my bedroom and watch "In Treatment"? Tough call, but might as well DO something, right?

As I headed out to Downtown I was kind of pumped up seeing the last remants of the sunset. It was beautiful, as always, and the creeping darkness promised excitement. By the time I parked in the underground garage it was dark. I drove around and around the garage trying to find a parking space. Garages have a way of making one claustrophobic. Finally I parked in the last row.

I crossed the street, looking at the groups of people going by. When did I become so much older than college-age? Hipsters, ugh. I stood on the outskirts of the melee. Some overweight people in portable lawn chairs. A guy break-dancing to an oldies/funk band. He was pretty good. Some people who sounded like they were from Austin. Do they stage a lot of these events in Austin? Probably. It seems like outdoor movies are exactly what progressive cities are supposed to do. I thought I saw my social butterfly (though unusual) cousin with her friend (boyfriend?) but I lost them in the crowd before I could say hi.

I saw a girl I recognized. "Lisa?" (Her name isn't really Lisa.)

"Oh hi."

"I'm here waiting for C."

"Oh, yeah, she said she'd be here."

She said something I couldn't hear.

"Good turnout, don't you think?" I said. Was there a more pointless thing that I could have said?

"I'm going to get a beer, you know always gotta have my beer," she said, turning away and then speedwalked away from me before I could follow her.

I think I'm better about rejection these days, but yeah, it hurts not to be liked.

So it was Alone for some more, watching the screen slowly get set up, a couple moved in beside me, the guy surrounding the girl with his arms (gross), some guy talking about getting spam e-mail from a musician (must be annoying).

I have mixed feelings about going to events Alone. I don't usually do it because people tend to think it's socially unacceptable, so I do the socially acceptable thing and go with another person. But I don't feel that uncomfortable about it. Especially at an event like this, I didn't feel that out of place just people watching, soaking up the ambience, enjoying the warm night. A shy person gets used to these things. Most of my freshman year of high school, I spent lunches eating outside in the courtyard, then going to the library, and I wasn't really sad about it. I liked the sunshine and the books.

Still. I feel like I try so hard. Try to meet people, try to make conversation, try not to be such a loner, but here I am yet again, alone on a Friday night.

My friend texts me: "FYI won't be there until about 9:30."

At this point I'm finding it hard to find a reason to stay here. My feet are tired from standing. I'm tired. I realize "Rocky Horror Picture Show" is not a movie you watch alone, and it sounds crude and offensive anyway. The operator presses the DVD to start the movie. A huge cheer erupts from the crowd. Meanwhile, I start walking back to my car. Fine, I was upset and near tears at that point. I'm disappointed the night didn't turn out the way I wanted it to.

"I'm tired and going home," I text to my friend. I don't feel too bad about it since I know "Lisa" is still there.

So that's how I ended up back home at 10 p.m. I guess social life has its ups and downs and not all experiences can be positive. I remind myself that I've had a lot of good experiences, too. Still, last night makes me want to spend more nights watching "In Treatment."

Monday, August 10, 2009

Three days off from work and I feel rested and ready to go back to work the next day. Four days off and I forget all about work and go into summer vacation mode. I think I can feel the crease lifting from between my eyebrows. I feel ready to watch some daytime TV and then take an afternoon nap.
It's just after 3 a.m. and I just finished watching Stu on the One & Other project in Trafalgar Square. You stand on a platform in Trafalgar Square in London and do, well, pretty much whatever you want for an hour, and it's broadcast live on the Internet. Much more engaging than I thought it was going to be, a combo of art and live blogging and confessional reality TV. Stu read a blog post about clay figures and also a post I remembered as the mud story which I really liked, and even read aloud a blog post he penned in a notepad on the spot. Also waved to the crowd a lot and talked about his latest haircut and how he lost his phone in the cinema. Yes, the microphone most definitely was on. Anyway, it was an interesting hour. I'm glad I stayed up for it (and definitely glad I don't have to get up for work tomorrow). You can watch happened for yourself here. UPDATE: Here is what Stu had to say about the experience.

Perhaps I'm reading too much into this, but I think being up there has a lot of parallels to blogging -- one part seriousness and another part confessional mundane stuff about things like backpacks and lost cell phones, and you're both trying to connect with strangers passing through and saying hi to the friends who stop by, which can get weird. In both situations, above all, the person on exhibit, a not quite natural position to be in.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Taken yesterday at White Sands National Monument, New Mexico

Saturday, August 08, 2009