I’m famous! Those of you

I’m famous!

Those of you who read my boyfriend’s blog are familiar with the truly stupendous new website, Blogcritics.org. That clever man who created Blogcritics, Eric Olsen, sent me my password to join the Blogcritic cadre.

I’m so thrilled to see myself in print, I’m squirmy!

I reprinted my little review on Alanis over there. It’s exactly the same as the one below, but it is on someone else’s page, with a logo and links on the side.

You should check out the site, anyway. It is grassroots in the best possible way, and it’s interesting. I find out all kinds of things by checking it out.

This may have the result of focussing my posts, here, too. I may feel more motivated towards critically relevant topics, and less inclined towards introspective musings…Or maybe I will merge the two!

We’ll see.

Once, while on a visit

Once, while on a visit to a zoo, I saw a jaguar. This shiny black animal was pacing back and forth in front of his cage, eyes intent on the direction he was headed, muscles rippling with the potential of all the things muscles can do.

I could not stop watching this pent up animal. He was caged, yes, but he also seemed pent inside himself. I wanted to catch his eye to see what he was feeling. Of course, he never looked at me. He was single-minded in his purposeful prowl.

I could not help remembering that magnificent beast when I saw Alanis Morrisette explode onto the stage at the Greek Theatre last Saturday. Her skin-tight black leather pants helped the illusion, but she had the same barely contained pacing that the jaguar had. She loped across the stage in strides that were far longer than most people would take. She stretched her legs, and her voice and her heart out as far as she could.

Her songs have always hit me like a Mack truck. When she sings about love and faith and pain she takes the lid off the things I’ve “kept bubbling under,” and makes me feel the need to move, to act, or to speak.

Her songs, no matter which one, express her spirit. She is not comfortable, she is not complacent. When I saw her relentless pacing onstage, I was not surprised. I feel like pacing too, when I hear her songs.

I am grateful to her, because she grapples with ideas and issues that many people grapple with. Most people, however, give up in exhaustion, willing to believe that answers or even questions are beyond their capacity. Alanis does not give up on them. After seeing her perform in person, I can see that she cannot. The person she is finds it physically impossible to back off.

She engages her experiences and her questions as if in battle. She finds a way to express them, and behind every single song is a harmonic drone, like a bagpipe, of “Why?” She dares to take it on.

And I, along with many others, am very much the richer for it. She’s given a voice to many of us, because she was able to express herself, She did not hold back and say, “that’s too personal, I’d better just be quiet about that.” It’s in the personal, in the subjective, that the universal human experience can be understood.

I appreciate her bravery, and I am so glad I saw her in concert. I really need to buy her latest album.

In LA, every waitress is

In LA, every waitress is supposed to be waiting for her break to be an actress.

My Muzhik novelist from last Sunday was probably not a professional writer, not yet.
I don’t know what he did to earn a living.

One of my friends from book club was telling me about her career in Television. “They are grooming me to be a producer. But I just don’t know…I REALLY want to write coming-of-age books for children.”

The guy that I had coffee with was the director of a very respected news program. “But that’s not what I came here to do,” he says. “I have more in mind.”

And me?
I’m a video conferencing professional, but I just signed up for a journalism class.

Charles Dickens, author of Great Expectations, had his hero in Oliver Twist say it for us:

‘Please, sir, I want some more.”

Yeah, we all want some more. More from our jobs, more from life, more from ourselves.

And more from our JOBS. That’s a critical thing. After the basics are taken care of–food, housing, clothing, etc.–that job takes on a different meaning. The struggle for survival takes so little effort, that we think we can do it with one hand tied behind our back. That leaves us with an extra hand to do all kinds of other things! Maybe we begin to resent the effort it takes to have a job…And we want to get both those hands working together to do what we “really” want to be doing.

A lot of books are written about that. What Color is Your Parachute? and 7 Habits of Highly Effective People are just two well-known examples. These authors write out systems of how to articulate your values and line up your life according to what you believe is most important.

That’s great! that’s why those books are such bestsellers. Who wouldn’t want to achieve perfect balance?

And they continue to be top sellers, because people are not achieving that balance. In large droves, we continue to have difficulty finding the perfect job.

Does it exist?

I remember talking with my friend a long time ago, we were griping about work. I said, “Don’t you think that this is your dream job? I mean, when you were a kid, if someone told you that you would get to be a computer programmer at NASA, you would have been thrilled!”

“Yeah,” he said. “I remember taking a tour of NASA when I was about 14 and being completely impressed.”

“And you worked hard to get the chance to work there. But now, you complain about it! Being an adult sure turns out to be different than what we thought it would be like when we were kids.”

Maybe the idea of the perfect job is not for everyone. On This American Life, they ran a show that talks about it. In the last segment the narrator talks about his love of making things, crafty art pieces that engaged his whole self in the making.

He researched whether he could get a job doing crafts, but concluded that if it was his job, it would no longer be his passion. He would be compelled to do it, instead of free to do it.

That show has really stuck with me lately. I like my job a lot, it is satisfying and it pays my bills. But I have been struggling with pursuing it as a career, since I am not sure that it gives me the opportunity for expression of my best talents.

But maybe we as human being are more complicated than that. Maybe our best talents, that we are all trying to foster and get more opportunity to express, are not things that we can access 40 hours a week.


My busmate gave me a flower today. It’s sitting in a cup of water by my phone.

I met her the first day that I took the bus. She was very friendly and helped me get off at the right stop, since it was her stop. Then we discovered that we work for the same company.

Now she is my friend, She is very careful for me on the bus, and when I get on, she makes sure to point out a good seat for me, if the one next to her is taken.

Once, when I was sitting next to her, we passed by the chinatown farmer’s market. I told her that I was fascinated by the different asian fruits and vegetables, but I had no idea how to cook them. She said she was philipina, and she knew how to cook all kinds of things.

This led naturally to a later lunch date…We had dim sum. It was great! she showed me the best places to go. Since I usually am intimidated by the different foods, I was really happy to have her there.

But today, she brought me a flower! It’s very beautiful and it smells really nice. She called it a Camia.

I’d never heard of that kind of flower before, and since her accent is a little thick, I wasn’t sure that i had heard the name right.

But I found out about it on the net:

“Millions of flowers of all colors and scents bloom all year-round throughout the Philippines. For this reason, many authors call the archipelago the “Land of Flowers”. There are about 10,000 species of flowering plants and ferns in the Philippines. Among the beautiful flowers are the lovely sampaguita, the charming cadena de amor, the romantic gardenia, the milky-white camia, the bewitching dama de noche, and the majestic bougainvillea of various colors. “

That was ALL I could find on google.

But that makes it seem more rare and special. Only philipino people know about camia.

And me.


This was originally an email, but I thought it was blog-worthy.

Last Sunday, I had a chance to meet someone off of Craig’s list…We’d been emailing wittily back and forth, and we decided we had to meet face to face. We decided to meet down at a place called Psychobabble…It was open mike night.

I didn’t know what he looked like, but I told him I would wear a beret, and he would recognize me. I was sort of looking around, and I looked hard at this one guy, thinking it might be him.

The guy (it wasn’t him) kind of skulkily followed me up to the counter. He nerved himself up to ask me, in a thick Russian accent, if I had come for the poetry.

“Is it poetry night?” I said. “If only I had come prepared!”

“You write poetry?”

I looked him straight in the eye and said, “Doesn’t everybody?”

He said he would be reading his poetry. I told him I would have to make sure to listen for it.

Then he noticed the copy of Crime and Punishment I had brought. You never know if these internet types will actually show up. I figured I’d better have reading material in case I got stood up or had to wait a long time.

“Oh, are you reading that? He is my favorite author”

“Yeah, I’m almost done with it. But I think I like Tolstoy better.”

“Well, yes but..Tolstoy was very different. I mean…”

“Yeah, Tolstoy was from a different era.”

“Yes! Yes!”

I had obviously impressed the socks off this Russian poet Muzhik.
He had to regain some ground.

“Well, if you like Tolstoy, you would probably like my novel.”

That’s quite a claim.

“You’ve written a novel?”

“Yes. I could email it to you, so you could read it.”

This is a new line. So much for etchings. We’ve gone on to novels!
But I know better now.

“Sure, give me your email address.”

Better to get his than to give him mine. I had to get rid of him somehow. The guy I was really there to meet had showed up, and it’s bad form to be hit upon while meeting another male for the first time. Even though it was a platonic meeting, they can get miffed.

I got his email on a napkin and me and the other guy slipped out of the cafe.
I missed my chance to hear the Muzhik’s poems.

I’m still undecided whether I want an e-novel sent to me or not.


I found my grocery store! It’s on the way back from school.

Oh, it is marvelous! It’s called JON’S. I think it’s a take off on the other big store “Von’s”

But the reason it’s marvelous is because it has all the wonderful ethnic foods you can think of. They sell frozen pelmeni and vareniki. They also have fresh bulgarian feta at the deli section. They have ptitsa moloko actualy labelled “Bird’s Milk” on the box.

When I saw that they had Pryaniki, and they were called Pryaniki, I almost welled up. I couldn’t help remembering the times I had discovered Pryaniki the first time, in the deli at Mirnyy. I spent SO much time shopping when I was in Russia.

It was all there was to do, but it was also a lot of fun discovering new things.

I also remembered the friends that I shared the bird’s milk and Pryaniki with when I was in Russia. I felt very sad because I knew I would never see most of them again.

But it was wonderful to go to a store that had all these treats I had almost forgotten.


Heard at work today, in serious tones:

“…that sounds like a reasonable explanation. Other than the fact that it doesn’t work…”

“It’s good if they can get you an explanation, though…”

“Oh, Yeah!”

Information Technology is strange.


Although the wonderblog is supposed to be “musings about art and the meaning of life,” I’ve been a little short on the art portion of that. At least, I have never really done a critique of a piece of art yet.

Today, that will change. And I invite comment, please. Isn’t good art supposed to evoke a response?

That’s what they say.

Art should challenge you. Art should change your perspective. Art should make you uncomfortable sometimes.


But the major patrons of art in the 21st century are corporations. Art for the foyer. Decorative sculpture for the drive up to the main office. Ah yes.

Should lobby art make you uncomfortable? Perhaps the “challenge” of corporate art should have it’s base in challenging the workers (dare I say proletariat?) to do their best work for the company.

My company has been going through some renovations, which included my floor. It was several weeks before the renovation process got around to the part where they hang up pictures. There is a poster by Georgia O’Keefe in the mailroom now. Not her best work—I can say this, since I’ve been to her gallery in Santa Fe—but it is an interesting perspective of the trunk of a tree and some of it’s branches. I appreciate it. There is another work by the elevator; I call it the crayon tree. It’s a sort of white abstract tree trunk on a black background, with brightly colored marks or dabs along the sides. It looks like it’s raining crayons, as I wait for my elevator to arrive. Not sure about that one’s merit, but whatever. It’s cheery.

The one by my buddy’s cube is a sort of college-dorm poster. It’s a poster of a stretch of road going off into the distance, and an enormous moon hangs over it in the twilight blue sky. I think that a college freshman with a desire to travel and/or own a motorcycle would really dig it.

My buddy hates it.

These pictures are all of a bland nature. They are there, they give your eyes a place to rest on, but they are mostly non-intrusive.

The piece that really stopped me was on a different floor. It is a piece called “Candy Bar” by Mel Ramos.

Let me see if I can describe it accurately. It is mostly made out of cardboard, and it looks like a Baby Ruth wrapper. There is an edge of the cardboard with what seems to be instructions posted in the upper left corner. I don’t remember what it says exactly, but it starts out saying, “Cut along the lines.” The candy bar wrapper looks partly opened, and the cardboard cutout of a young blonde 70’s-style knockout is inserted into the wrapper. The edges of the wrapper come right to the right spot on her chest, all you see is a bit of cleavage. But the whole thing is mounted on a mirror, so when you come up to get a closer look, or to read the instructions, you can see that her entire backside is naked. You can even see her tan line, a pale stripe running across her back and another blunt triangle across her naked bottom.

This one is hanging up across from a popular video room, so I get to pass by it a lot. The first time I saw it, I was flabbergasted and I had to take a better look. The idea of a woman being in a candy wrapper was so obviously sexist that it seemed to be almost anti-sexist. And when I got closer, I saw that it was mounted on a mirror, and I saw her little tan lines.

The whole thing is only about a foot tall. Probably not even that. She’s not much bigger than a Barbie.

An apt comparison.

But since I have to pass by this candy bar frequently, I am becoming more and more disturbed. Yes, it is a blatant portrayal of women as consumables for male palates. Or even female. It broadly states the objectification of women, and the role women are expected to play in society. How much the artist is aware of this is unknown. Maybe he is portraying his own attitudes, and they coincidentally are widespread.

It’s witty. It is an exaggerated perspective of an often unspoken reality. In the right mood, it might be profound.

I’m trying to be objective and open about it.

But I don’t think it is the sort of thing that belongs in a company hallway. Yes, women are commonly objectified. But they should not be experiencing that kind of treatment at work! So why should this piece of art (and I think it is more artistic than the crayon tree or the dorm poster) be displayed here?

I don’t think that Japanese Americans would like to have artistic photographs of War scenes from WWII posted in the hallways.

I don’t think African Americans would appreciate having scenes of slavery posted in public rooms.

Corporate art has to be more subtle. More bland, maybe.

Art is not art is not art. That is to say, there is a time and a place for different kinds of art. And some of the most profound and life-changing or life-enriching art must be handled carefully. Like a volatile substance.

I have in the past, a long time ago, made snide comments about the meaninglessness of corporate art. Those strange abstract geometric shapes made out of steel or concrete and rise up tall in the parking lot—“What does that MEAN?” I would say. “That’s not art. It’s just a way to fulfill the government’s requirement to spend x percentage of new construction on ‘art’.”

That was before I started going to work in those buildings.

But here is my dilemma now:

Do I swallow it? Do I just ignore Ms. Candy Bar?

Or do I try to get it removed?

it’s a problem

It seems that I am addicted.

Those following my blog, and those who know me (what’s the difference, really? 🙂 know that I have just completed my Bachelors in English. YAY FOR ME!

A long time goal, that. It feels very good to be done. But…I miss taking classes. I love going to school and having a forum to ask questions and learn new things. I’m not through with that yet!

California is an absolute Nirvana of educational opportunities. With the difficulties of multi-culturalism and English as a second language for a large number of students in Cali, it is to their credit that they have made it so easy to learn stuff. I’m lucky. English is my first language, so it’s pretty easy for me to get access to all the goodies.

Not too long ago, I called my last remaining friend in Alaska. She happened to mention that her fiancée was really anxious to go to college, and he had never had the opportunity. A little later, she mentioned that she was thinking of moving to California. “Well,” I said, “Greg would be able to go to a jr. college for 11 bucks a credit if you moved here.”

She just about fell through the floor. “That’s impossible! Really?!”

California has made it very easy to get eddicated.

So. I am going to try to sign up for a journalism class at the JC around the corner. Maybe it will teach me to blog better.

We’ll see.


I have already mentioned the homogeneity of Silicon Valley–how it is very much an industry town. ONE industry: Computers.

When you are into computers, and you live anywhere else in the country, you tend to think of yourself as outside of the mainstream. If you have delusions of grandeur ( and many computer folks do, especially when they are young) you may consider yourself as part of an elite group of people “in the know,” able to toss around TLAs (three-letter-acronyms) like pronouns. After all, you are able to speak in hieroglyphic syllables to communicate with others like yourself, those who can engineer, control or manipulate abstract and physical machines that wrap themselves around the globe like a poly-tentacled jellyfish.

And so many other cannot do this.

In fact, so many others are in-“duh”-viduals who cannot even understand your syntax.

The idea of the ones who know and understand as an elite strata is easy to buy into.

That is, until you are in Silicon Valley. The maligned, misunderstood, socially inept computer geeks of the world have flocked to SIlicon Valley and found a community where they are simply one of many. TLAs are no longer mysterious knowledge symbols, they are common parlance. The erstwhile guru becomes a grunt in Silicon Valley.
There is a knowledge base there unlike anything else in the world; it is a veritable Fort Knox of Geek intelligence.

One of these troy ounces of Geekitude, my friend Tantek, has a blog now. It is his story about a Silicon Valley encounter that has set me off on this blog-rant.

Now let me just say, I understand the elation he describes at overhearing the deep-geek conversation in the restaraunt. Lord knows, when a person is passionately interested in a topic, it is very exciting to find others who also love it and can discuss it on the same expert level as yourself.

HOWEVER, I myself was getting a little tired of the ONE THING happening in Silicon Valley. Life is rich and full. It is important to have more than one interest. Computers are fascinating, and I enjoy them. But there is more to life than start-ups.