Sunday, October 31, 2004

The times, they are a-changing...

Another day, another post, another song for a title! This time, pesh karte hain..Bob (Bawb in the mid-west) Dylan! I picked that song because it represents what's going on..the time changed last night so that we gained an hour today in the crazy daylight-saving/standard time ritual most parts of this country goes through twice a year. What amazes me is that millions of people can be persuaded to change their entire routine, 'save daylight' etc. by a simple action of twisting a dial or clicking on a number! If only all change was that simple! What REALLY amazes me is parts of the country that rebel against this ritual and refuse to switch their clocks..Arizona, Hawaii and some counties in Indiana (which, as a result, has about 3 time zones simultaneously at any given time!).
Another thing that's a-changing is the weather. I swear, Akron's crazy..this time two weeks back, I was wearing jackets and hats and cussing about the 40-degree (fahrenheit) weather. These past 3 days, it's been in the 60s and even 70s. I spent a whole day canvassing in Cleveland for the elections and it was PERFECT! It was sunny, windy, the fallen leaves were rustling and flying around, the little old-lady-neighborhood I was in was quaint and pretty and the typical American fall scene you associate with TV shows like the Wonder Years and Dawson's Creek. I heard Howard Dean speak and felt a little hope stir in my cold cold heart :) The winds of change might yet blow.
Which brings me to the last change - this time next week, America will (HOPEFULLY!!) know who will lead the country for the next four years. With this election being so close, pandits are forecasting all kinds of things. The craziest (but technically possible don't ask me how) scenario is when Bush is president but Edwards (Kerry's running mate) is the veep!!! Well, seeing as to how Cheney really runs the country anyway, that scenario doesn't really bother me then!

Thursday, October 28, 2004

ordinary average everyday sane psycho super-goddess!

I was listening to this song the other day, by Liz Phair, called "Extraordinary". The title of today's blog is from it. I thought "Wow! that's me exactly!!" But then, other songs and other writers have echoed my unexpressed (even to myself) feelings before. Why can't I be one of those song-writers/authors/film-makers/poets/artists? I want to do something that's immensely appealing to a lot of people, but in a very special very personal way. I want to give people the feeling that I get when I read something or listen to a song and believe, for that one moment, that it was created just for me. I haven't "discovered my talent" or "found my calling" and frankly, don't know if I ever will. I mean, I feel like I am at the point of no return..all that I could have learned and done and created I should have by now. I actually believe I am regressing to an unintelligent, uncreative, decadent, wasted, not regressing, because that implies I was there once. Anyway, you get the picture...I don't feel as 'extraordinary' as I used to once..I feel less super-goddess, and more average everyday. Arrgggh! Mediocrity!!

Monday, October 25, 2004

Sunrise, Sunset, and everything in between..

I went to watch "Before Sunset" yesterday. It was almost epiphanic..this movie's a sequel to "Before Sunrise", which is a movie that holds a really special place in my life, for a host of reasons.
The first movie is about 14-15 hours in the life of two people who meet on a train in Europe, and spend an evening and night together in Vienna. Sunset picks off ten years later, at a book signing in Paris where they meet again. It occurs in real time - they have 85 minutes to catch up where they left off, discuss their lives, the universe and everything!
I loved each second of both movies..they represent beautifully that chemistry and instantaneous, almost karmic connection some of us might have been lucky enough to feel with certain people. They are by far the most conversational movies I have ever seen - there is no real plot or "action". You just live each moment with the two characters. The writers and the director also have that uncanny and really rare (especially in Hollywood) ability of the artist - they know where to stop. Both movies have ambivalent never truly know what happens next. At the end of the first movie, for instance, Jesse and Celine part at the train station promising to meet up after 6 months. Jesse, Ethan Hawke's character, has apparently written a book about that night, in the second movie. He tries to explain the end away as a test - "If you think they meet in 6 months, you must be a romantic. If you're sure they don't, you may be a cynic."
I feel so alone in that I might be the only crazy fan of these two gems. I know there are others who love the movies, but I feel like a jealous lover or a rockband groupie - I know them better than any other fan! I can write a book about what I know about these movies, and can relate parts of the first film verbatim. I can write another book speculating on why, exactly, this kind of obscure movie makes such an impression on me! Part of it is that it holds the right ingredients (in my mind), reality, naivete, wit, lot of intelligence and introspection, a little brazen soul-baring, cynicism with a pinch of hope, to create sheer magic!!

Monday, October 18, 2004

Traveling light

That's the name of quite an interesting book by Katrina Kittle. It comes from a quote by Juvenal "Travel light and you can sing in the robber's face!" It's a book about Summer whose brother Todd is dying of AIDS. It very gracefully and sensitively explores topics like love, death, prejudice against homosexuality, unfulfilled dreams, the utter hopelessness of living with and dying of AIDS, etc. Heavy themes, dealt with so beautifully, it had me crying and smiling all at once. Here's what I mean..the first line of the book is "I woke and wondered if my brother was dead; gone before I could keep my promise. " How can that not shake you?!
I read this book a while ago, but I was reminded of it because I am working on an assignment for a core Biopsychology class, on HIV-AIDS and taking a "biopsychosocial perspective". Basically the theme is that everything is inter-related. I am mentally contrasting this dry assignment with medication names and article citations, to what I learned from reading Kittle's book - I guess it's the difference between getting an education and getting educated!

Friday, October 15, 2004

In a comparitive sense, superlative

This time last week, I was on my way to the airport to catch a flight for a long weekend trip to Massachusetts..Amherst and Boston. What a difference a few hours make in the view you take of your existence! In that spirit, a few comparisons between Akron and Amherst/Boston..
1. The place - Akron is/was the rubber capital of the world, famous for Goodyear, Firestone and their ilk. Amherst is famous for Emily Dickinson and her ilk, Boston - well, a couple of tiddly educational institutions like MIT and Harvard, that's all.
2. The scenery - New England Fall colors is realllllly something everyone's got to see. Green, Red, Yellow and every imaginable hue in between everywhere you go. In Akron, you need to haul yourself out of the ghetto to a park or trail about 20 minutes away to see it in true splendor, but I admit, nature finds a showcase even in other not so bad then.
3. The people -'s an interesting one. The phrase "Boston Brahmins" (refering to the intellectual/financial elite of the country) seems to be well-deserved. The people I met at least, joke about String theory and nuclear physics with respect to Gujrati food (I AM NOT KIDDING!), have Dickinson and books with strange names like "Einstein's Dreams" for bathroom reading materials, and have, on average, at least one PhD. One woman I met had a PhD, two post-docs and a distinguished career spanning UCLA, MIT, etc. etc.
4. The clientele in bars - This is a favorite of mine. In Akron, you use "Happy Hour" or "Power Hour - Dollar Drinks" to draw the crowds in..In Harvard Square, you use "Trivia Quiz - 7 to 9 p.m." to draw those crowds in!
I am not even going to talk about the accent and average per capita income or crime or even political affiliation (though I was sorely tempted to), because I am not
In case I sound bitter, it's because I probably am for now. The grass is always greener on the other side, especially if it is orange, maroon, yellow and green, and if you see it with people you love and admire, for a few short days so that you don't tire of it easily.
I am glad we humans have this power of comparison, it makes us appreciate our lives and our opportunities and grab every chance we can get to make more comparisons to our lives and opportunities!

Monday, October 04, 2004

The heat is on!

This, the fourth day of the tenth month of the ..well, today, was when the central heating came on in my house for the first time in over four or five months. I was dreading this day. I HATE winter, especially since I started driving last winter. I mean, having spent 22 years of my life thinking winter was when I sweat a little less than normal, this has been by far the worst part about my US experience. (Other than missing friends, family, and vada-pav!) Living most of the year (try 8 out of 12 months!) with the windows shut, heating on, socks on, early nights, brown and bare trees, wearing the same old boring coat every day, clunky shoes, ice-capades and skidding tires, shoveling, waaaaah!! Talk about being SAD! There's a documented disorder, by the way, called Seasonal Affective Disorder, which strikes several people in the colder regions of the world during the colder parts of the year. It has something to do with low levels of light and decreased production of serotonin in the body etc.
Last winter, a neat thing snowed and snowed till May, so I could sing the Eddie Vedder song "Man of the hour" from the movie Big Fish, and really mean the line "A snowflake falls in May"!! And that, is one of the few happy snow memories I have. I have tried the snow angels thing, the drinking hot chocolate thing, the Christmas shopping thing...none of it works outside of the movies, believe me! One other happy snow memory I have is that of watching snowflakes on my black coat...they really are BEAUTIFUL! Each is hexagonal but with a different pattern, but they dissolve sooo quickly it makes me sad again. Oh, well...that's life, I suppose..enjoy it before it melts away!