Jul 21 2005

Patience and Presence

I give people the benefit of the doubt. I like to assume, given the opportunity, Joe Stranger is basically a good person, or at least, could rise to the occasion. This isn’t to say that I trust Joe Stranger – I don’t know him well enough to trust him completely – but then again, my typical interactions with him won’t require that. I will extend a something greater than indifference, but not more than necessity or comfort. Indifference is rude, and trust is earned (and dis-trust is earned), so I’ll give you something in between trust and indifference, at least as long as you’re still Joe Stranger.

If we end up with significant contact, he may very well stop being Joe Stranger and become Joe Friendly or Joe Asshole. This is the establishment of a relationship: developed through iterative feedback loops, or, on rare occasions, through one momentous action on the part of he or I.

People seem to take offense to this. They seem to have an unconscious sense of entitlement governing they’re day to day actions. Sometimes, you have to remind them that their sense of entitlement resides completely within the cavern of their own head.

Case in point: a few weeks ago, I was running into the local Mini-mart after martial arts class to pick up some water. I was going to run in, pay, and run out – not long at all. I could see through the window that there was no line. I hop out of my car, lock the door, grab the water, pay and walk back out to my door. As I’m unlocking my car door, the guy who was milling about outside the store calls out to me:

“Hey, buddy, what you have to lock your car for? You think I’m gonna steal your car?” He whips himself up some aggression, advancing toward me with his arms up like a threatened eagle. “I look like a thief? Huh? Can’t trust me? Huh?”

Did I make the implicit assumption that he was up to no good, just because he was loitering about? Was he, his clothes, his skin color, the impetus for my caution?

Or was it because I always lock my car, no matter how quickly I’ll return?

I look him square in the eyes: “Buddy, I don’t even know you.” I hold the look for a second, then continue to open my door. His attitude swiftly changes. He drops his hands, and backs toward his old position outside the store.

He cracks a smile. “Fair ‘nuff, fair ‘nuff.”

I dropped in my car and drove off. Was I bullying him with my stare and attitude? No, I was relaxed, and held my gaze just long enough to tell him I giving him a totally honest and straightforward answer without being aggressive, and asked him to look at himself – would he trust me with his car? No, he doesn’t even know me. I thought enough of him as a person that I wasn’t going to ignore him, but that doesn’t mean I leave the keys to the castle outside the moat.

I liked that guy, I don’t hold anything against him. He looked at himself, saw something amiss, and respectably changed that, at least for that moment. Someday, I might be on Joe Friendly terms with him, if we ever run into each other again.

Take into account the counter-example: the girl on the roadway last night sitting in the right hand turn lane, at a green arrow, filing her nails.

I pull up behind her, coming to a complete stop. She doesn’t move. I give polite little honk, indicating the arrow is green.

She looks up, left, right, around a bit, and goes back to filing her nails.

Another short little honk. Same response.

Longer, more aggressive honk. The cars are starting to pile up behind me.

She looks back, flips me off, mouths “Fuck You,” and drives off, without once looking at the stoplight (or it’s still-lit green arrow.)

Lady, I gave you the benefit of the doubt. I understand you might be having a bad day, you might be distracted, you might not have noticed the two bright green arrows telling you to turn, so I let you know in a standard, friendly way that you should check out your environment. When you failed to notice, twice, and were starting to become a traffic hazard with cars barreling down on me from behind because the light is still green (as they typically stay green for a long time at night on this road), I let you know more insistently.

Now, if it was me in your situation, I would have issued a little “damn I feel stupid” apologetic wave with my turn. But you chose to (mis-)place the blame firmly on myself. Is it that hard to swallow your ego for some silly little mistake? One that I wasn’t even angry about, but wasn’t about to walk out into the middle of a busy street to knock on your car window as point politely to any of the two traffic light bulging aqua?

It’s not that I don’t trust you – I don’t, I don’t even know you – but I gave you the benefit of the doubt. But you didn’t rise to the occasion; you didn’t look at yourself. You looked at me. Just from this tiny little interaction, I can tell: if we ever meet again, you’ll probably do something else to move my opinion of you toward the Jane Asshole end of the spectrum. Why? It’s not about me. I don’t even know you. It’s about you.


Jul 17 2005

Brutally Honest Life Update

It’s been a while since I’ve given a substantial LUE (Life, the Universe, and Everything) update, and it been disclosed to me by several people that there is a larger audience to my little blog than I would have guessed. (Twiddles fingers nervously.)

Since this is a long one, here’s the bullet points:

  • Matt, Jill, and the AC Lounge are cool
  • Yes, I did go out with a really cool girl on Friday, and plan to go out with her again
  • Yes, I hung out with my ex, and wasn’t weird – it was kind of like when we were friends before we started dating
  • Photo gallery showing related stuff is trudging along
  • The world is small
  • This post is not linear

I’ve recently been haning out with Jill and Matt more frequently, and have deteremined that they are, in fact, very cool people. Matt was working in LA last week, and Jill has wanted to go to Big Sonic Chill night at the AC Lounge but hadn’t been yet. I’ve been there a couple times, so Jill and I made plans to go last Tuesday. Great evening, if not out a little too late for my standard workday night, but how can you leave good conversation and Gin and Tonics when Massive Attack, Orb, Portishead, Dining Rooms, Faithless, et. al., are on rotation? Accompanying Jill and I was Heather, Matt and Jill’s (extremely cute) neighbor (that has a boyfriend.) We ended up meeting up with the Biddy Bums there as well, which are an interesting (entertaining, outgoing, fun, possibly slightly crazy) group of people that Jill’s been friends with for quite a while. I’m coming to the conclusion Jill might know everyone. (The first time I met the Biddybums was at one of Tina’s parties, years ago – the world keeps shrinking on me. Arrgh, that makes me sound old. But wait, we’ll come back to this amazingly small world later.)

Side note: meta-meta-comment: One of the Biddy Bums guys, in LA-persona, commented mildly derisively that the bar was “so LA.” I had just watched “Swingers” again recently, and it struck me “so LA” to make a comment like that in such a manner. Think, “Yeah, it’s dead in here anyway.” Kind of meta-Comedy.

Wednesday was mellow, but on Thursday A- came into town, and I met up with A- and some other’s at Tina’s house. We stayed up entirely too late (well, I left at 1am, I have no idea how late they stayed up) sipping wine and talking, which was good, but shit had hit the fan at work, and the Friday workday wasn’t exactly fun. Luckily, it was so busy, I didn’t really have time to be hungover.

Back to A-: it was really wonderful to see her again, and things were kind of like they used to be, back when we were dating or before, just sitting and joking around and shooting the shit (but without the smooching). It wasn’t until I hugged her goodbye that I felt a little sad, when I smelled her. It’s amazing how you get to know the smell of your lover so viscerally and discriminantly. Ah, well, nothing I can do about that but cherish the memories.

Tina, whose been absolutely wonderful, both personally as a friend and professionally regarding the editing of my novel, complimented my writing, which was incredible for me, and I may have blushed a little. That means a lot to me, Tina. Thank you.

Another side note here: I had taken some of the 12×18 photos over to Tina’s place since I’d just gotten them in, and thought the group might be interested in seeing them. After a few minutes of catch-up, which was mainly me spewing forth about myself, I had this horrible feeling in my stomach for a moment or two: was I rubbing things in A-’s face? I mean, things have been going really well for me lately: I’m training full-force, deep in my photography, re-discovered San Diego, I’ve been dating again (more about that later), and am mentally and emotionally sane (I think.) I know it’s been really tough for A- lately, being over-qualified for jobs that don’t require experience, and not enough experience for jobs that require the Masters, supporting friends, working entirely too much, and not generally having the time (from what I gather) to really engage personally or professionally in the art world due to the overwhelming stress of trying to survive living in Oakland. I don’t want to inquire “how’s the job-hunt,” “how’ s the day job,” etc, as it’s probably not something she wants to talk about, so I ended up talking about myself. She didn’t noticably react, but I wonder if it grates on her. Even if it did/does, I don’t know that she’d say anything. Urk. A-, if you’re reading this, remember: you are such an incredibly fucking talented writer and artist it makes me want to cry. And has (but you know that.) Aside from that little realization on my part, everything was mellow and A- and Tina and I just relaxed and enjoyed an warm San Diego evening.

So, on with Friday – I had plans to go to the Kettner Nights art walk. First a little background: I’ve been doing a little online dating lately. First, there was T- (followup here), and some girls that just totally up and flaked. Well, since then I’d met up with J-, twice actually, for Sushi and drinks. Fun dates, but I wasn’t really sure if it was clicking. I think I may have been forcing myself to try to “click.” We smooched a little, and I crashed at her place, but nothing beyond that happened. In between the two dates with J-, I had met up with L- at L-’s house. Again, good conversation, but I didn’t really feel the vibe. So, those were all “average” dates a I guess.

The crowning “bad date” had to be M-. Yes, M-, you are vaguely interesting. I’m not sure what you think of me, though, seeing as I couldn’t get a word in edgewise. And yes, you are “althetic and toned” as it says in your profile, but I couldn’ t help but notice the giant tumor around your midsection. Seriously, I couldn’t tell if you were pregnant or not, but if I had to guess, I’d say twins. I thought it impolite to ask, in case I was wrong. Yes, your profile sayd that you didn’t have a child, but did you just select that because there was no checkbox for having a child? Really, don’t you think that being a mother-in-progress would be something you want to bring up? I mean, what if I was allergic to fetuses? (Well, maybe that was from all the cat hair on your pants, but you never know.) Some people just walk that thin line of the truth, and it seems to happen online more than elsewhere.

Right around this time, I got really busy with work, friends in town, etc., and communication with all the above trailed off….

Alright, that’s the history prior to Friday. This week I’d been emailing with a girl, J-, that I’d met online. First of all, when I saw her photos, I was like “Wow.” Seriously. “Wow.” She’s hot. She’s art-friendly (actually, she’s more than art-friendly, say art-passionate?), so I ask her to the aforementioned Kettner Nights and it turns out she was already planning on going with her friends. Schweet. We’re going to meet up and check it out.

I get there early, and start wandering. I get positively stuck at Mixture Designs staring at Henry Ascensio’s work. Fast and loose oils, very saturated, intense, very emotive. IIWIW (If I Were Independently Wealthy) I’d buy one of his pieces. I rapped with the curator for a bit, and of course sneak in that I do photos and we trade cards. Turns out he’s about my age and actually spent some time living in Phoenix near my high school years ago. (Workin’ the scene, workin’ the scene, just call my Schmoozy.)

I meet up with J-, and eventually we hook up with her friends. As it turns out, her best friend B- and I lived on the same floor of the dorms at UCSD ten years ago. (It’s like someone put the world in the dryer on high, when it really requires ‘delicate.’ Keeps shrinking.) I’m going to have to bounce some connections off B-, as it appears she know some of the gallery managers down there. Traded cards with one of the managers of another gallery, she gave the curators info, etc.

Anyway, that’s just the incidental stuff from the date. Without getting into too much detail, I was totally relaxed around her, we chatted, laughed, quoted movies, did the wine-and-art thing, and skipped downtown to check out Cafe Sevilla since I mentioned I want to learn how to Salsa. (Thank god it has hip-hop night, since I’d rather not learn how to Salsa on a packed Friday night [but I played it cool.]) So, we hit the Sidebar, dancing until close. Yes, you read that right. Me. Dancing. I guess it happens to the best of us. :) I’ll leave the rest of the night there, but suffice to say, she’s sexy, fun, intelligent, and I definitely want to go out with her again.

Basically, I had an awesome time. The only down side of the night was me getting to bed at 3am: I guess I hit the “off” button when my alarm went off 4 1/2 hours later, so I completely slept through my Saturday morning training. Urk. Well, every once in a while fine I guess, but I better not make it a habit, not on Friday. Saturdays, ok, but Fridays, that’d make my life tough.

Most of Saturday was spent matting photos, after several hours of which I went to meet up with A- and friends who were doing the SD Comic Con thing. We met up with some cool out-of-towners I’d met from last year (Hi, Ben! Hi Matt!) and commenced with the Guinness drinking. At the busiest, I think we had Tone, Tina, Dan, Sharon, Ivory, Marcus, Michelle, George, Karen, A-, and myself all camped out at The Field. (I’m still not quite sure why I abbreviate some names and not others. I suppose, if it’s not too personal I let the whole name out, but if there’s a potential for embarassment or non-consent on any side of the equation, I abbreviate. I guess.)

Anyway, drinking, revelry, drinking, Tone, A-, and Ivory doing the business schoozing thing, drinking, going to to Comic Industry parties, more drinking, etc. I was pretty smashed by the time midnight rolled around – not fall-over drunk, but totally exhausted, even though most of the time I was trying to stay background to let the people who were networking try to make contacts. At some point, I excused myself to call J-, since she’d been on my mind, but just left a (hopefully not too slovenly-drunk) message. I don’t want to repeat Jon Favreau’s performance in Swingers (again with the woven references! Uh, poorly woven. More like an old grey sweatshirt you wear to bed.)

Overall, Saturday was good: I hung out with friends, and talked, drank, and had fun. It’s good to have A- as a “friend” again instead of an “ex.” (People are continually amazed by that. They invariably ask, incredulously, “You’re friends with your _ex_?” Yeah, that’s right, we’re friends. Yeah, we were friend s for nine years before we dated. No, we don’t sleep together. Yes, we’re mature enough to deal with that we did once and don’t anymore. Sheesh.)

I suppose if J- reads this, that could be awkward. Well, if so (hi J-!), keep in mind I’ve said nothing but the truth.

Sunday was recovery, more mat cutting, stringing picture wire, and cleaning the house. (My fingers are totally raw from working with all that wire and framing clips.) I’m almost ready for a gallery show: all I really need is some more picture wire and some placards for the pieces. Oh, and the actual gallery. Shit. (I know I shouldn’t spend all the money getting ready for the several showings I have on the hook that may or may not come through. But I figure maybe I have a chance if some gallery has an artist back out and they need to fill space at short notice. Then again, I don’t know if that even ever happens.) After all the cost of prints, matting, frames, etc, and two sucessive nights downtown, I really need to curb the credit card. Not to mention the kitchen remodel that I’m going to have to go out-of-pocket on in the near future.

Um, ok, I’m going to run to costco and not leave the house for a couple weeks (unless J- wants to go out.)

Damn. Girls cost money. Oh well. They’re worth it.


Jul 6 2005

Burrito CFG

Tonight the burrito shop shorted me my napkins – but never fear, my intrepid reader (how cliched is that) – my burrito was solidly constructed, and I had no need for them. (Burrito, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Bur-ri-to: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Bur. Ri. To.) Which, naturally, led me to wonder, is there a Context Free Grammar for the construction or validation of a well-formed burrito?

Based on my sampling of burritos from around the nation, my gut told me no, there is an art form to burritos, which threw me on to the assumption that art is that which cannot be constructed nor validated.

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury (to run with the cliches), I rest my case.

If I have one.

Or even a point.