Tuesday, October 28, 2008

I Don’t Know

because of my job in the wide world of finance, people sometimes assume that i have insight into where the market is going. they think that i might know what makes for a good investment, one that will surely make their riches grow overnight. they think that financial knowledge is transferred through osmosis, maybe by sitting on the same toilet seat as an investment analyst, and that even the janitor who works the night shift probably has some good stock tips. to that i usually reply, “are you fucking stupid?”

if i had those answers, i certainly wouldn’t still be working. i’d be retired, lounging with my off-shore accounts in tahiti while a cabana boy with soccer thighs peeled me grapes and fanned my pasty skin. if i had those answers, i wouldn’t be sitting in a cube farm, pretending to work between youtube videos while counting down the minutes until the clock hits 5pm.

so please stop bothering me with your money questions because i don’t know of any secret investments that will make you a millionaire. and please stop asking me what i do with my own money because i barely have any — i just bought a house, remember? plus, i wouldn’t want to give you any bad financial advice and then feel responsible for your life savings going down the drain. so quit asking me, mom and dad!!

but seriously, i don’t know what the hell is going on anymore than the next person despite my job in finance. but because of my job in finance, i do know that all investments carry a certain degree of risk. i know this because my new role in my company’s compliance department centers on ensuring that the fine print no one but me reads on financial documents says what it needs to say. and if you ever bother to read it, you’d be shocked to find out that it reads, “All investments carry a certain degree of risk. You may lose money.”

ok, so you may lose money. you probably have lost money. i know i have, but since i’m not planning to retire anytime soon, those losses seem more imaginary than real. sadly, i have also lost money on some shorter-term investments i had, losses that very much feel real, but staring at risk language all day helped cushion that blow.

still, i’m not worried. i’m not particularly euphoric either, but i’ve promised myself that i won’t worry until i have a reason to. and as long as i still have a job, i don’t have a reason to worry. of course, i’d be silly to say that my job is totally secure in this climate — or any climate really. but i’ll take comfort in my boss’ assurance that my new spot in the compliance department means i’m a regulator now, and regulators are the new black. people actually want us around to piss on their parade.

as for the lost money, i’m going to rely on that old cliche that if you love something, set it free; if it comes back to you, it’s yours forever. no, that sucks. maybe evaporated earnings are like spilled milk - not worth crying over. that’s a bit better. better still is that all investments carry a certain degree of risk, so you may lose money. and i did.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Conversation Chronicles: Monday Night Television

me: what are you watching?

Mo: it’s this documentary on the second world war.

me: oh. ok, i’m going to go lie down in bed and read.

Mo: why don’t you watch some of it with me?

me: i don’t really like watching that type of thing.

Mo: why not?

narrator voice booms from the tv set: ...the nazis stepped up their cruelty and used increasingly sadistic measures in their quest to exterminate the jews.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Campaign Fatigue

i’ve had a long-standing policy to never discuss politics here, but i’m thinking i should move away from that stance, if for no other reason than to share the terrific things i’m finding on the internets during this current election season, viewable here and here and here.

beyond cracking me up and making me watch SNL for the first time in years, this election is also making me sick. i know it’s important and the weight of the free world hangs in the balance and all that jazz, and of course i plan to vote in november, but the politicking from both sides is just nauseating.

the mudslinging, the partisanship, the misinformation — it’s too much. not to get all rodney kingish, but can’t we all just get along? can’t we all just stick to the issues for the few undecideds left in the country and move the election to tomorrow? then we can inaugurate the new president by thanksgiving, check out who he puts in his cabinet and carry on, hoping for the best.

call me a sourpuss, but i love watching campaigning as much as i love standing in line at an amusement park surrounded by screaming toddlers. i can’t endure any more TV commercials and the seemingly insane news stories that come out daily. since when does the tiniest thing warrant a “gate” a la “lipstick-on-a-pig-gate”?

i’m not pointing the finger solely at the republicans, because the democrats have been just as guilty of the nonsense. i know a lot of nice republicans, including my parents, who don’t believe that the world is only 5,000 years old. they, like most republicans, are decent, hard-working folks annoyed that their party’s ideology has been hijacked by fundamental christians who’ve reduced it to a culture war obsessed with god, gays and guns.

i also know a lot of nice democrats who are nothing like some of the democrats i met when i lived in san francisco — the kind of fascist liberals who think that anyone driving an SUV or carrying a plastic water bottle is an evildoer who should be reformed. to me, that’s the same type of fascism championed by fundamentalists who only allow for their interpretation of the mighty word of god. it’s two sides of the same ugly coin.

personally, my politics center on clich├ęs like “live and let live” and “do unto others as you’d have done unto you.” i support people’s rights to live their lives as they please, be it conservative or liberal. the way i figure, if you’re not into abortion, then don’t have one. if you’re not into gay marriage, then don’t be in one. but don’t make that decision for others. similarly, i will support your right to believe in creationism, despite how stupid i think it is. i will also support your right to have as many guns as you want. because it’s not my place to tell you how to live or what to think any more than it’s your place to tell me.

perhaps i’m idealistic, but i think most people would prefer to be left the hell alone to believe and behave however they want, and would agree to leave others alone so they may do the same. it’s that 10% of extremists on both sides of the spectrum that ruin it for the rest of us. if we did away with them, the remaining 80% could figure out how to work together and would probably agree on wanting a cleaner planet, a more efficient government, safer streets, fewer taxes, better schools and affordable health care. the details on how to achieve this would be debated, and should be debated, but as long as we maintain focus on the problems instead of the parties, we should be ok.

but if we have to have political parties, can we at least add some more to the mix? let’s add one that represents the moderates, the middle-left and the middle-right. the fringe 10% can also form their own political parties, where they can commingle with like-minded loons who’ll never question their party’s platform.

the uber-right party could be called the Evangelicals, whose animal could be the snake — not because they are venomous but to represent the original sin, of course. they can sit around cooking up workshops for converting the gays while talking about how silly fossils are, bibles in hand, ready to thump the dissenters.

the ultra-left party could be called the Communists. if they had a sense of humor, they could make their party animal a pig, which they can ceremoniously slaughter at their conventions. their meetings would probably include a lot of people wearing birkenstocks or maybe uniforms and combat boots. they can sit around lambasting religion while extolling the virtues of communism, pointing to the many great examples of its success throughout history. they can point to my motherland, the former Soviet Union.

but hey, that’s just me. and i make no claim to know anything about politics, which is why i never write about it here. there are other websites that do it better, websites i tend to avoid so i don’t have to read a chorus of loony commentators repeating what amounts to “my sports team is better than your sports team, so suck it.”

thankfully, the two teams will have their superbowl in just a few more weeks, putting the campaigning to an end. then i won’t have to turn on the TV and hear an angry feminist who refuses to vote for obama because clinton couldn’t get enough delegates on her side to become the democratic nominee, and i won’t have to witness an old lady clutching her bible while talking about the gay agenda and how obama is a scary muslim.

at least not for another four years.

Friday, October 10, 2008

To Be Filed Under ‘That’s Never Happened Before’

late last week, Juice threw up in the middle of the night. her throwing up has certainly happened before, many times before, usually after she’s eaten grass or chewed up a stick that she found in the yard, all of which reappear in her puddle of vomit, letting me know just what my furry baby was dumb enough to consume.

but this consumed item was something else, something i never want to see again because seeing it again in her pile of vomit would mean i have to clean it up again, and cleaning it up the first time was traumatic enough and brought me to the edge of vomiting myself.

now, i’ve cleaned up A LOT of dog vomit in my many years of being a dog owner, and i’m not complaining about having to do it. it’s the cost of doing business with a dog. they vomit. they poop. i clean it. and i’ve seen many odd objects in both dog stool and vomit, including dental floss, tennis balls, rib bones and a Scrabble tile.

but this was something else. this was something so mortifying that just the thought of it will give you shivers and evoke a huge “ewwww” when i tell you. are you ready? you sure you’re ready? wait for it. wait for it.............. cat poop.

yes, CAT POOP. or, as Juice likes to call it, Almond Roca. i like to call it Thoroughly Disgusting. it’s one thing for her to eat it, which is disgusting on its own, but imagine her upchucking it all over your nice bamboo floors in the middle of the night. then imagine having to walk over in a sleepy stupor, the odor forcing you awake and quickening your understanding of the situation. first came the denial, like noooo, could it be? that’s not right, no way. is that REALLY what those chunks are? really?

yes, that’s what they were. half a paper towel roll and some dry heaves later, i was convinced. my dog had eaten cat shit. then she threw it up, in the middle of the night. a true clusterfuck that could have only been made worse by Juice adding some piss to the puddle. that would have made for the ultimate triumvirate of bodily fluids.

cleanup was a struggle. i waffled between hurrying the fuck up and paralysis by nausea. there was real volume there, both liquid and solid. the smell alone nearly killed me, and Juice kept walking by all sad, sick and apologetic, trying to tongue my face as i balanced on my knees, hand outstretched in cleaning motion with my body as far away from the puddle as possible. Mo was no help either, barricaded in the bedroom, saying, “i’m sorry, but i just can’t do it.”

so i did it. and it was disgusting. thanks a lot, Juice. you bitch.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Awful

a good friend and former coworker of mine lost his baby boy this week. the kid was not even a year old. he underwent chemo for an otherwise untreatable tumor and died of toxic shock three weeks later, leaving behind two devastated parents and a twin brother who won’t remember him. his name was Braeden Bond and he was 10 months old.

i met Braeden and his brother Logan earlier this summer at a friend’s barbecue. they were the ultimate cuties — chubby, dressed alike and sucking on their fists. i spent some time playing with the munchkins while catching up with their dad Jeff, whose copy i used to edit when we both worked for this magazine you’ve never heard of. he told me about how great (and hard) fatherhood had been, about the new magazine he was working for and how he hoped his sons would grow up to be sci-fi geeks like him. he said Braeden was the fussy one. less than six months later, he sent the following email to a group of his friends:

“Just before noon Monday morning our son Braeden passed away. For the past three weeks Braeden had been mostly unconscious due to toxic shock from a massive infection that resulted in extensive damage to his liver and kidneys. Our doctors told us that children who undergo this normally either die very shortly afterward or recover quickly, but Braeden stayed in critical condition for three weeks following the initial event, which says to us that were it not for his willpower and stubborn disposition he probably would have passed away weeks ago...”

i don’t know what to say about this beyond that it’s tragic. fucking tragic. i want to say that parents aren’t supposed to outlive their kids and that death is supposed to only happen to the old. i want to say that bad things shouldn’t happen to good people. but i know that’s naive and that the only thing i can do about fucked up shit happening is just accept that it happens and will continue to happen, without trying to make sense of it. so that’s what i’m trying to do.

Braeden is the third person i know who’s died this year. the first i didn’t write about because i was too furious with the way he died. not a suicide, but close enough. his name was James Tabler (pictured left) and i used to party with him back in the day, about seven years ago. James was a good egg, always spirited, kind and with a sunny disposition that charmed everyone who met him. he was part of a rather large crew of weekend warriors i partied with back then, doing things i no longer do today. while his death was also fucking tragic, it was not surprising. he was 28.

the other person i wrote about not too long ago, Alexander Merman, a friend and former boyfriend who was murdered in his Santa Monica condo last March. the picture of us at right was taken at my cousin’s wedding in 1999. i contacted some of his friends after i heard the news a few weeks ago, who invited me to the memorial to mark the six-month anniversary of his death. i went and saw the mother Alex left behind, the mother he called every day. she looked smaller and shorter than i remembered, like she had shrunk. she remembered me as the girl from san francisco and asked me whether i was married. i gave her the flowers i brought her and told her that i loved her. then we both started crying.

forgive me if this blog is sounding too much like the obituary section. i don’t want to be writing this. i don’t want any more reasons to write anything like this again. i understand that death is part of life and all those platitudes, but when a perfectly fine little boy is plucked from the universe, i just have to say enough. so please, enough.