I apologise at once for this rambling daylog, full of disjointed anecdotes. I'm writing because I've had one of those odd days in which I want to cry, but don't know why - like those barmy summer days or a truly jolly Christmas, and inspite of the mood all you want to do is sit down and weep. I feel a bit like that.

I'm beginning to suspect that life is not really poetic after all, or at least not in the way I thought or hoped. The good are not always rewarded; the bad are not always punished; the reader does not always get the happy ending or even a resolution.

I always thought of my life as a narrative, my narrative, which I bumbled through, but that ultimately I would reach the ending I thought I deserved. But I was wrong. Life is more than just my narrative, it's made up of billions of narratives - all competing against each other, no one of more value than another. One man's rejection is another's romantic reunion.

Life seems pointless, but I'm only looking for my purpose - selfishly searching for my heroic lead. Perhaps I'll only find it when I realise that I'm just an extra, an extra in everyone else's story - and they in mine. I've made a mistake, believing in a life of romantic pathways and valiant deeds. I've wasted time waiting for somebody or something to come along and slap me in the face with the answers to all my questions. I believed in a 'true love' that would burst into the room and introduce itself to me and thought that in the mean time I could quietly sit back and observe, waiting for my uninvited guest.

I don't want to wait anymore, sitting on the bench as everyone else gets up to dance. But neither do I feel comfortable passing along a line, in the hope that eventually I'll find something I like. Maybe this is because I'm just scared. I know that I hold all of these grandiose ideals and yet I'm far too frightened to experience them myself. Somehow the potential hurt and risk denies the possible happiness. So I just sit back and imagine, but a life without a human touch is no reality at all.

Paradoxically, I've never been as happy nor as sad as I am right now. Having just started university I feel that my life is split in two and that I can't join the halves, like a jigsaw puzzle in which the holes are the wrong shapes for the pieces. I no longer feel like I have a true home, or even a family. I'm rejoicing in breaking out into a new world, with some wonderful people by my side - but I feel like an emotional cripple, one who knows the answer to his problem but fails to show his working.


One of my best friends cooked dinner for a group of us last night as a birthday present to me. As we tried to lay the table I became increasingly angry with my father who had no idea whether my mother had taken the place mats or some of the wine glasses when she had left. I was really angry that I had to think about it, and re-live her going. The months in which rooms of the house were bare except for a couple of chairs - a daily reminder that she was no longer with us.

Just before we all sat down to supper, one of my friends, Claude, passed me on the way to the bathroom and told me that he'd found something sad in there. He pointed above the towel rail, where name labels had been stuck to the wall by my mother, above each of our towels. They read: 'Miles', 'Elizabeth' and 'Michael'. I was still annoyed that as the younger Elizabeth's sticker had come before mine. Between 'Miles' and 'Elizabeth' was a half torn sticker which had read 'Jane'. Claude pointed at each of them, and then the gap: 'That's sad.' I kind of snorted and agreed. Somehow the fact that somebody else had noticed something that quietly made me wince each day made it seem all the more real

My father is talking about selling the house now. I feel much happier at university, with my friends, but I'm still scared at the thought of not having a 'home', a castle or an island where I can safely retreat and hide.

This is all part of growing up, only I just don't feel very grown-up. I'm still clinging to a childhood I had knocked out of me long ago, afraid to grab my own story and begin the telling of it. I know that I must be braver, and perhaps less idealistic and perfectionist. I'm young and should be having fun, not chasing a romantic dream. Only I don't know how to stop and it's much easier to keep running.

Well, strictly this is not today's day log. But the reason I'm logging this today is because I thought I needed some time to recover, to think, and to figure out what I felt.

Let's get the who am I bit sorted out, more really for my sake than for the sake of those who're reading this. I'm 23, very left-liberal in my political views, and I what I value most about myself is that I believe I never discriminate. My boyfriend once asked me an interesting question. He said: What do you mean, you NEVER discriminate? Of course, you do..you discriminate all the time...you like something, you don't like something. You like some people, you don't. And everytime you don't like somebody for whatever odious quality they may have, you discriminate." Ok, so let's get this sorted out: I don't discrimate on the basis of gender (i'm female), race (i'm brown/asian), sexuality/sexual preferences, caste (I don't know what caste I am and frankly I don't care) and class. I think that covers it all. If you're a pompous git and I don't like you...well, sorry it doesn't count as discrimination in my dictionary!

So two days ago, I wake up in the morning, switch on my computer and there's an email from my brother in Bangalore. Well, he's not my 'real' brother- we're first cousins..but I have no siblings, so he's like a brother in every sense of term (also we Indians think of our extended cousins as brothers/sisters). Anyway, the other reason we've always been close is that he's just seven days younger than me...poor kid...he's been bullied by me all his life because I'm his didi (Elder sister in a number of Indian languages). Also, as we've grown up we've found we have a lot of things in common- we like reading the same stuff, we have similar views on most things, especially politics, and from being a whining, awkward adolescent he's grown into an interesting young man, whom I like spending time with. That's the other thing...we don't see as much of each other as we'd like to. I went to college in Delhi, he was in Bangalore. Now I'm in the UK, and he's still in Bangalore and he's going to graduate this year and he's got a job in Bombay. But we email a lot, and try and make sure that our trips back to Calcutta co-incide.

So my brother emails me two days ago, and says 'look, i've wanted to say this to you for a while, but I haven't coz I've felt queasy. Well here goes: I'm gay." And then he says a few other things and cheerfully goes on to talk about life in Bangalore. And he ends the email with: "Well, now that you know, I hope you won't think badly of me.

Ok, I'll admit it. I was gutted- for a moment, I was too stunned to speak. I looked so shaken that my boyfriend thought there was some bad news from home. And then I told him, and he turned around (he was shaving in front of the mirror) and said: Yeah, he's gay..so?

That's when rationality kicked in I guess. A whole host of things occurred to me all at once? Why did he think I would 'mind'? Of course I wouldnt...
Why hadn't he told me before? He also says at one point in the email that he's had to live in this parallel world for many years, for nine years almost. And as I re-read the email I thought: Oh shit, I've teased him about so many women, I've harassed him to find out who the girl in his life is. And when he was a kid, he liked Indian classical dance and his parents wouldn't let him learn because it was considered too 'feminine'. And we'd all teased him about it. Oh shit...

But once the guilt and the shock had worn off, I got thinking again. I was so proud of him...proud that he'd had the guts to come out (he'd told a few of his friends) and then I was scared. Scared because homosexuality is illegal in India, because gays lead a clandestine life, occasionally fighting for their rights, but largely living as a subterranean community. But scared because I knew the explosion that would occur if he told his family.

On the question of his family: they're your average middle class Hindu family of four. But they're also horribly communal. Sadly that's quite the norm- your next door neighbour who's perfectly normal will suddenly say something so blatantly communal and horrible about Muslims that you will wonder if you ever really knew him. Same with these people- rather nice people, and I'm fond of my aunt, uncle and elder sis- but of late they say such devastatingly communal things from time to time, that I'm not always sure how to communicate with them. Being communal in India really means sympathising with the right wing Hindu nationalist party- the BJP that is currently in power. But it also means holding some pretty extreme right wing views on certain issues- most notably homosexuality. It's wrong, it's a vice, it's completely immoral..and that's where the argument stops. There can be no dialogue, no discussion.

As I thought of his family, I realised that if my brother ever told them the truth, they wouldn't really know what he meant- they wouldn't even comprehend it. And gradually as it sunk in, they would hate him, they would hate with as much hatred as if he was a dirty object, unclean and impure who was soiling their family. In short, they would freak. But they would also start putting pressure on him very soon to get married, and so while he says he will not tell his parents till the push comes to the shove, I can imagine now cataclysmic that will be.

I got talking with another Indian friend of mine, who recently announced to his parents that he was gay. He said that when it comes to telling your family, it's not a question of 'whether' but rather a question of 'when'. And...that telling the first time is the hardest, but once you've said it, it's out there, it's been done, and now it's their problem as much as yours. I've written all this to my brother, and I hope it gives him courage. I would like nothing more at this stage than to hug him tightly and somehow take back every nasty word I've said to him, and make him feel that everything will be okay. But I can't and I know it won't happen.

And then there's that nagging thought in my head, am I really the 'liberal' I claim to be? Why was I gutted, even if it was for a second or two? Was I actually upset that he was gay or was I too stunned to react? I'd like to believe it was the latter, but a voice inside my head tells me not to delude myself. At the same time, I'm perfectly comfortable with him being gay and having a boyfriend (he has one, and sounds even mushier than I sound about mine!!), and I would be utterly and totally cool with him if I saw him next. But that reaction, for that fraction of a second, will continue to bother me, till I figure out for myself, honestly and truly, what went through my head.

At some point I'll node about laws concerning homosexuality in India. Also, if you're interested in knowing more about communalism in India, do check out the nodes on Hindu nationalism, RSS and Gujarat. They're by no means comprehensive, but it will give you a better idea of what I'm talking about.

Today I met Dennis Kucinich. Well, I shook his hand and say hello. I followed him and his small entourage as they toured Free Geek. I was at first hesitant to go to Free Geek, thinking my nice, calm, apolitical home had been run over by the media, poltical types and the SS. I decided that I really couldn't miss such a brush with history and greatness, so I headed out to Free Geek, and managed to corral Brian Smith, candidate for city council, into going with me along the way.

Mr. Kucinich showed up on time, bringing with him only a small entourage and one single Secret Service agent, who didn't look anywhere near as menacing as I imagined. In fact, the secret service agent didn't even accompany Rep. Kucinich on the tour. Maybe someone corralled him into breaking apart floppy disks.

Anyway, I was very impressed with Rep. Kucinich, for the reason that he didn't even seem to be campaigning, perhaps because at this point in the game he is in the campaign for moral reasons and doesn't have to turn the campaign mode on. This is one of the few times I have not been asked to give a tour, I followed behind a short distance and heard him discuss the different aspects of Free Geek's operation. What surprised me the most is he seemed genuinly curious about the different aspects of the operations, asking several technical questions that I hadn't even thought about. I hope that the technical discussions of Free Geek's infrastructure didn't bore him too greatly.

Although I won't endorse any of his political beliefs or stands, I would say that a politician that is curious and wants to learn about different aspects of technique is a rare commodity.

Quick! Commit this weekend to words, before life's events overtake it and my memories fade, as they always do!

Saturday

Rachel and I pulled out of our driveway around 12:30 in the afternoon Saturday morning. Destination: Duke University. She'd thrown together a few sandwiches and packed a cooler with water bottles. We threw our luggage in the trunk, she put a pillow on the back of her seat and we were off. We both took huge numbers of CDs with us. Driving music - very important.

It was the spring break of Rachel's junior year in high school, so it was time to go college shopping. She'd made a short list: The University of Virginia, William & Mary, Duke, and some Ivy League schools so preposterously out of reach I won't even bother to mention them. Some schools she'd already visited. We were going to see Duke and Virginia Tech.

It was a mess getting out of DC. I-95, that ultimate horrorshow of an interstate, lasted about 60 miles, but at Petersburg, VA we branched off to I-85 toward North Carolina's Research Triangle. We were in a fast car with a low profile, cruise control, a sun roof, a kickass stereo, and leather seats. My music began with some BT, Ultra Chill, Ultra Trance, Chicane, and Anastasia. Rachel slept for a few hours, and then when traffic died down she took over and drove the remaining three hours into Durham, N.C. She leaned more toward emo bands, Dave Matthews, and 80s music. It was bizarro to hear Godzilla and Don’t Fear the Reaper coming through the speakers, but she likes the 80s bands. A male friend of hers made her a mix CD of surfing music, so we listened to that as well.

She is the apple of my eye. I look at her strong profile in the North Carolina sun and see a young Jennifer Garner. She has her mother’s blonde hair and high cheekbones, her mother’s pragmatism, and her father’s wide open love of the intellectual life. She is smarter and more athletic than either of her parents were. She is a locomotive without a governor, barrelling down the tracks at a hundred miles an hour. She can handle what life throws at her.

We pull into Duke’s Campus Commons drive around 5:30, where she’s dropped off at a gothic looking dormitory named Fuqua. A high school friend and fellow field hockey/lacrosse player is a student there now. Rachel is going to stay with her for the evening. Jill is all freckles and auburn hair, easy smile and bubbly personality. The girls hurry into the castle-like dorm. Bye Dad, she kisses me, asks for money, and then dismisses me.

They’ve got a formal dance to go to. Jill’s sorority has a formal. She graciously invited Rachel and arranged for a date, a young rich Brazilian with impeccable manners. He wears a tuxedo, pulls out her chair for her, dances like a dream. The restaurant is upscale. They watch the Duke-U. Conn basketball game, a nail biter until the very end, when the dream ends and Duke loses in the last few seconds of the game. The young men and women dance until 3 a.m.

Sunday

The afternoon is spent touring the University of North Carolina (UNC)’s Chapel Hill campus. UNC Chapel Hill has about 30,000 students, and has far more extensive facilities than does Duke, especially in the sciences arena.

Lee-Ann Jaykus, a professor at NC State, is our tour guide. My brother was madly in love with Lee-Ann when they were freshmen at Purdue University. He’d always said she was the one big love of his life. Now she has two daughters, married to a man with two sons. She has her same toothsome smile and her outgoing ways. I haven’t seen Lee-Ann since Werner’s funeral. Fourteen years hasn’t changed her appreciably.

I hoped Lee-Ann would be able to see us. Rachel needs to see strong successful academically oriented women like Lee-Ann, who somehow manage to juggle career with family and femininity. They hit it off well. Lee-Ann’s husband Brent is in on the faculty of UNC’s medical school. Over dinner at Four-Eleven in Chapel Hill, Brent asks her the standard questions he’d ask his med school applicants. Rachel’s interviewed again. She’s used to this by now. We have wine. We laugh. It is a delightful evening. I kiss Lee-Ann goodbye and give her a warm hug. She is a connection to my past, and these connections are precious, so precious. It’s good Rachel now knows someone who knew Uncle Werner.

Monday

Monday morning Jill’s working at Vin Rouge, a French restaurant close to Duke’s East Campus, so we head over there for a superb French country breakfast. Rachel and Jill look fresh as daisies.

Afterwards we hurry over to the Admissions building, a stone Tudor mansion, where we get a brief indoctrination into the Duke way. The videotape has incredibly poised and articulate students talk about the privilege of a Duke education. Following the film we spend fifteen minutes with an admissions counselor familiar with Rachel’s high school. The woman does a breathtakingly fast but thorough interview of Rachel. To me it feels like she’s been frisked by a complete professional at an airport. But Rachel walks out of there feeling like she held her own. She is nothing if not confident.

The azaleas are all white and purple. The dogwoods are a riot of color. Duke’s lovely campus, its trees and stone work, it’s lovely cathedral, all show spectacularly well in mid April. Rachel wants to attend tomorrow.

The financial commitment to such an education is breathtaking as well. Some combination of loans and grants and scholarships will be needed, should she meet the very tough admissions criteria. She hasn’t gotten her SAT scores back, but they are likely at the very lowest end of Duke’s requirements.

We walk by the cathedral again. It is an enchanting place. The Bryan Center sells campus tchotckies, so we buy a Blue Devils tee shirt. She meets a high school senior there, another lacrosse player. Tina’s been accepted at Princeton, Stanford, Duke, and Rice, and her weekend stay here at Duke is all-expenses-paid. Tina’s an extraordinary student standout in a high school full of standouts. Rachel shakes her head. See, Dad, this is what I’ve been telling you all along… my high school’s hard. Unbelievable.

It’s time for the second leg of our road trip. We head the big car out of Durham and head up toward Virginia Tech, about three hours away. Once again we trade off driving duties. She likes to drive fast. The trucks don’t deter her. She’s got music and sunglasses; she’s good to go. We drive somewhat faster than the maximum tolerated de facto speed limit. When she passes trucks she waves through the open sunroof. The truckers all blink their lights. Too bad her dad’s in the co-pilot’s seat.

We arrive in Blacksburg, VA three short hours later. The vast flat campus of Virginia Tech is quite a contrast to the hilly Duke and UNC campuses. The bluestone buildings remind us of West Point in New York, which we’ve visited a number of times to see family friends. We get a room quickly and a cell phone conversation later, Rachel’s established contact with a Northern Virginia friend who agrees to give us a quick tour of campus later. Two hours later we’ve seen much of the campus and some of the off campus.

Dinner’s off campus. We’re famished and in the mood for steaks, so we find a steak house named for a former star Virginia Tech football player who also played pro football, and we figure that with that kind of background we can’t go wrong. The meals are huge. We talk about Duke and about her future possible timelines.

Gene P--, a high school acquaintance, calls her and asks her over to watch the NCAA men’s basketball game. I don’t know where you live, she says. No problem, I’ll be right over and pick you up. BIP. Fifteen minutes later she’s gone for four hours to watch basketball with a houseful of club soccer team guys. This is her life. What downtime? Who needs downtime?

Tuesday

Gene drives to our motel in the morning and we all have a marvelous breakfast buffet. Turns out Gene's father is chief of staff of the Peace Corps in Washington. Gene and his brother were raised in Africa. Gene is an endearingly goofy slacker. His life is soccer and the outdoors. Class is a bother. He wants to get by with doing the minimum, get a job, and continue to live the unencumbered life. I am old enough to know that life sometimes has funny twists and turns, and that this guy could completely surprise himself and run a startup company and retire at age 30. Stranger things have happened.

Rachel attends a class with Gene. She’s done by noon. I guess Va. Tech didn’t make the cut. We hit the road north along I-81. It’s time to go home. In a few hours we’re at another university, where Rachel’s older sister is in nursing school. The sisters are inseparable. Julie called and wanted to know if we’d like to take her and her three apartment-mates out to dinner. It would be a pleasure.

We get there at 2 p.m. before anyone’s actually home – they’re all still in classes. Rachel and I head over to the apartment complex’s clubhouse. The pool water is just being let in and the deck chairs are all out. It looks so inviting. Rachel works on her physical chemistry homework, however, and I work on a report. In half an hour Julie’s back. She and her one girlfriend spent all night studying for a nursing test and they’re beat. Rather than nap however, Julie and Rachel talk all about Duke and boys and things I’m not privy to. Something’s in the offing with Julie and some guy I don’t know, and Rachel gets the dish.

By 4:30 p.m. everyone’s back from classes, so we drive to a local restaurant for a big pig-out dinner. Two of the girls are 21 already, so they’re allowed to order drinks. Rachel and Julie burn at the injustice, of course. The girls are all delightful. One is a gifted storyteller who tells us about her dysfunctional but incredibly wealthy family. She has us in tears and doubled over in laughter. Julie loves her. Since the girl’s family lives so far away, Julie has invited her to our house for Easter. It will be a packed house with other company coming, but she will be a welcome addition with her humorous touch.

We’re done by six. Rachel and I have loved hearing college stories from these four good looking coeds. Rachel would like nothing better than to be in college already. She selects a bunch of CDs for the car ride home. Two hours and almost a thousand miles later we pull into the driveway.

Rachel – I would do a road trip with you any time, any place. You and Julie are the daughters this dad has always wanted. I am so proud of you.

I told my dad on the phone that I have some stuff to deal with before I want to attempt a relationship with him. I then met with him later and talked it over a bit more... which was good, to my surprise.
I have a lot of issues with him and the relationship I have with him currently is, at best, fake and unfulfilling for both parties. So he wanted to know why I felt that way and I told him. I also gained insight into him.

His childhood was the worst ever. Like worst case scenario bad; the details of which I am glad to not know. I learned that he thinks he 'asked for it'... he must have done something terrible in a past life. When he told me that I could not help but feel as though all religion is tailored to suit what we want, that none of it is real. Of course such horrible things aren't supposed to happen to an innocent boy; so he must have done something to deserve it. And there is philosophy based on that principal, and probably every other principal I want to address.

He seemed so small to me.

And then he asked me something, something I will hate him for forever... "Do you think you would have been better off if your mother and I had the happy marriage? If we were still together?"
My mind screamed NO because I know I am stronger and more resourceful for it, but I wanted to give him a big "fuck you, what do you want, a goddamned THANK-YOU?" ...asshole. It makes me a better person; a writer, a director... people need angst to be creative.
Anyway, thus the beginning of healing myself in that regard. It is long past due.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind has me. I love it.

My daylogs: previous, next

(Node your homework for English Composition: Write a descriptive essay about calming place, real or imagined.)

"A Special Place"

When I sit down to meditate whether thinking or "unthinking" I often visit a similar place in my mind. The setting is lifelike but mildly abstract.

The first aspect another visitor might notice is the sky . Surrounding rarified, stratified clouds the sky overhead is a deep pink. As one's vision is filtered through more and more of the atmosphere, towards the horizon the hue is a less saturated yellow. This effect seems (to me) to make the foliage all around to seem brighter and more crisp. In this place is a stream that bulges into a kidney-shaped lake. The water is dark and calm. In patches it reflects the yellow horizon betwixt the wavering tree tops. The banks of the stream's central engorgement are leafy and over hung in places with wild grasses. Always on the far side, low cedar varieties shelter the lazy fish with sprawling limbs. In the area I most often sit the grass is not uniform or particularly cared-for, however, it is richly green. Around the open grass bushes of foliage rise up in tiers: First the edges in juniper, then plants with elongated leaves like daffodils or wild garlic, beyond these in a buffer (before the trees block out the light) are ligustrom and bushes that resemble azalea - but do not flower. They are dense and rolling but give way to foot paths into a sub-tropic forest. Live oak and cyprus and cedar stretch off to the distance over top of bamboo, ferns and the occasional mossy stone.

The place is devoid of humans. There are no obvious creatures about; but the chorus of life belies this fact. Birds call, bugs hum and chatter, and squirrels bark occasionally. The drone is relaxing and never distracting.

Usually I visit this place in the afternoon but sometimes it can be night - with fireflies twinned in moonlit water - or it can be raining and peaceful. As a reflection of my life in Florida it is never snowing; The air is always just shy of hot, cool in the shade.

When I meditate I choose a spot and focus on some nearby detail. When I am here merely to daydream I roam the land and explore the wood and the water's edge. This setting is somewhere peaceful to escape the accelerated urban life I lead.

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