Friday, June 25, 2004

When I Was A Child I Had A Fever . . .

The Effects of Making "They're Paying Me $**.00 Per The Hour" Your Mantra:
1. Time goes by. Fast. No. Really fucking fast.
2. You're not as angry that you're in the office on a Sunday, or at 11:30 p.m. Don't get me wrong . . . you're still angry, just not as angry.
3. You begin to view calls from friends and loved ones as annoyances rather than welcome breaks.
4. If you're checking account was a woman, it would have that rosey post-coital glow.
5. You begin to imagine your checking account as a woman because you have no fucking time to actually meet women.
6. You're so bone weary that you dream of taking a nap, and no, I don't mean "dream" as in daydreaming or hoping, but while you're sleeping, you dream of taking a nap.
7. You become really whiney in your blog. OK, more so.
8. You neglect your blog.
9. You're not really thinking about her. No, really. You just don't have the time.
10. You begin to get better at quashing down that existential angst that creeps into your psyche at midnight about what the hell you're doing with your life and aren't you supposed to be writing a novel?

Friday, June 11, 2004

I Want An Easy Life

I Am I Am I Am Steel
Nothing Can Stop Me When I'm On The Wheel
--Curve, "On The Wheel"

I'm supposed to be writing a novel, but instead I started a new gig this week (sent resume Monday, hired Tuesday). Of course, I'm supposed to be doing a lot of different things. I'm supposed to be with someone who still wants me. So, you know how it goes. I started a new gig which pays me even more than my prior one, which if you knew how much the other gig paid me, you'd be choking and saying "You lucky shit." Marty always landing on his feet. Marty bending like a reed in the wind. And you all know I'd trade it in to be with someone else.

I've been trying to be logical about everything. With me, there's chemistry. With him, there's no passion. With me, there's laughter. With him, sadness. But of course, how logical is pining after someone who hurts you.

So here I go with another one of my nine lives. Leave a gig, find a better paying one in less than a week. Count your blessings. Keep on that wheel.

Monday, June 07, 2004


Another Time Time After Time
You Make Me Feel So Helpless

-- Sugar, "Helpless"

During the day, I'm beginning not to feel so bad. I have a semblence of life coming back together. And I admit that I still think about her, a little sadness, a little heartache, but I don't shake and I don't sob.

But night is a different story. Last night, I thought I fell asleep. At 2:30 a.m., I realized that something was strange, wrong. Then I realized--I still had my eyes open. I had my eyes open for a while.

When I finally did fall asleep, there was no consolation. There was a voice saying "You can never talk to her again." And then it was late at night in my dream. I got a call from Setup Chick. She was on a train. Her car was at the station in a really bad part of town. If she got off the train by herself, she would be attacked, hurt, killed. So I drove to the station to protect her. She says that she can't see me. And I'm at the station lit by the sickly orange light from an old sodium lamp which barely keeps out the black night. I get sad and scared and angry when she tells me this. "Why did you call me then?" I ask. "What do you want me to do? You call me up, telling me where you're going. You know I love you and you know I can't let you come here alone and be hurt, and you tell me I can't be here. What do you want me to do? You know that you'll be hurt. How can I just sit back knowing that you'll die if you arrive at the station alone?" I can't do a damn thing.

Time After Time What's On Your Mind
You Make Me Feel So Helpless
You Never Tried What's On Your Mind
You Make Me Feel So Helpless

Sunday, June 06, 2004

Change or Die

Over four years ago, I was a junior associate in a regional BigLaw up in Silicon Valley. At 8:30 a.m., I'd pull up into the office off Page Mill Road, one of those two-story mirrored-glass and white plastic-looking front constructions that were de riguer in the late nineties. At 9 p.m., I'd pull out, and over half the cars would still be there. In between, I had days full of scheming or screaming partners, dozens of brushfires to put out, and dozens of other long-term projects that would turn into brushfires because I couldn't spend time on them. I don't remember taking lunches, though I'm sure I had them. I do remember ordering dinner, rushing down to the first floor as the order came in and wolfing it down--lukewarm pasta, lukewarm burgers, or soggy tempura--in my office before turning to yet another brief. Near the end, I couldn't stand the light, and only used a weak desklamp to work. I'd go home and drink a six-pack or several screwdrivers to unwind in the quickest way possible. I never had a single day of vacation in the two and a half years I was there. And then the Salary Wars began, with Gunderson (now a mere footnote of legal history) hiking up first year salaries by 50%. That should've been great news for associates, but any forward thinking person could see what was coming. My first BigLaw got on the tech market too late. The head office in San Francisco had trouble keeping their associates busy. Increase salaries with no increase in work, well, something had to give. So, I changed . . .

And I went to an even larger BigLaw, following one of the few incredibly talented lawyers who was also a decent human being. I spent another year without a vacation. The hours were even longer. I considered myself lucky if I got out by 10 p.m. I considered myself lucky if I had a Sunday off. I remember watching the midnight traffic on the 101 from my office. This BigLaw was less psychotic. Any egos were well-deserved and still kept business flowing to the firm. The place felt like a startup. For the first several months there, I was, well, not happy, but not unhappy. Then one bad apple had to ruin everything. I hear from my friends that he's a joke--but he's a partner now because he could bring in business. I do have to thank him, though. Without him, I wouldn't have realized that the acceptance of misery is not a life. With him, I learned that happiness is having the option to leave. So I did . . .

And for a year, I wrote. That is the happiest period of my life. I lost weight. I mellowed out. I was content. But I was lonely--Silicon Valley is still the worst place to live if you're a single, straight male. Plus the money was running out. So, I sold my place up north, gained a hefty nest egg and moved back down to Lalaland . . .

And was welcomed by my friends down here. I met and dated women, which abated my loneliness for a while, which caused more heartache in the short run that eventually healed. But I was going out. I started at SmallFirm, later to be known as Phuqued Firm, to see if it was truly law I hated or just BigFirm lifestyle. For eleven months, I dealt with both psychotic and psychopathic behavior--a screamer and a backstabber. The jury is still out on whether I hate the law (OK, maybe not), but I knew if I stayed there for too much longer, I would have a mental breakdown. So I changed, and I left, or is it the other way around . . .

And then I found a ContractGig at a firm in which the associates and the staff were genuinely happy. To bad the punchline was that it was folding up. So then I went to the last ContractGig. Out of respect for that last gig, I will be discrete as to why I left. The partner will be a success no matter what he does. However, my Spidey-senses were tingling in the last two months. I also found out that yes, there is such a thing as destiny, but that destiny can be derailed. Two paths were presented, and she took the wrong one . . .

But what I have learned in looking back at my life since law school is that I have always changed. There are situations which you cannot change, so you look to what you can change. More often than not, the only thing you can change is you. Staying on that derailing train will only get you hurt or worse. You'd be surprised how many decide to stay. Jumping off into those dark woods is better.

So here I go, launching myself, changing myself yet again.

Saturday, June 05, 2004

So I Disconnect

Only time will tell if I'm sucking all the venom out of the wound, or just picking at it. I think it will be a while before my first thoughts of the day aren't of her.

Today, I was at a belated housewarming party / early summer welcome party of my friends up in the Valley. I was having fun in the pool, turning red with the alcohol and sun, bullshitting with my buddies, and playing with my pal's 13 month old kid. Sitting around eating chips and drinking beer, the sun, the water, all of it hit home again the friends that I have who'll pull me out and keep me smiling.

I was dangling my legs in the pool and taking a sip of my lukewarm Heiniken, and I felt a little bit sad all of a sudden. Some other me is sitting with some other her, dangling our legs in the pool. Some other her is bursting with happiness at meeting the good people that are my friends, expanding her world that didn't have that many friends. Some other her is making that small sweet smile while watching me play with the kid. Some other me and her are home now, slightly tired falling asleep in each others arms.

And I felt a little sad. Not just for me, but for her. Because none of this will ever happen for her. She'll go on with her small world that only includes one friend she never talks to and Jon, who doesn't have that many friends either. She'll have missed the opportunity to enter into my world, friends that would open their arms for her because I did.

You might say she made her choice, and she deserves the misery she gets. I know I said that before too. But I just remember the sweet girl I knew (and girl is really what she truly is, a sweet girl who is also a weak girl), who was so excited at the prospect of a new life. And I just get sad for her.

I need you, you want me/ but I don't know how to connect/ so I disconnect.

Friday, June 04, 2004

Long Gone Before Daylight

Maybe it's the fact that I'm beginning to heal, but then the memory of her smile in the morning and her foot stroking my calf trips me up. Or maybe it's the fact that I don't know which is sadder, that I won't see her grinning as we walk down 3rd Street Promenade dragging me from store to store, or that it won't matter to me eventually. But the Cardigans' album "Long Gone Before Daylight" has been on repeat for the last two days and nights.

I bought this album as well as Bob Dylan's "Blood On The Tracks" on the same day. Much has been said about "Blood On The Tracks", Dylan's confessional written after his first divorce, by men far more articulate than I. (Thanks to Dubois for recommending it to me.) It's too close in time for me to hear "If You See Her, Say Hello" and not get quiet and sad. And that's the album I should be listening to over and over again. But then I put in "Long Gone Before Daylight" . . .

Yeah, we all heard "Lovefool" full of pop cheer and Nina Persson's perky voice. Oh look, isn't it cute that slightly twisted lyrics are meshed with bubblegum melodies. So I put in "Long Gone Before Daylight" to distract me. But you don't heal by avoiding the pain, but by dealing with it.

The first track, "Communication," begins with single notes off an acoustic guitar. And then Nina's voice whispers in. She sounds like Shawn Colvin off her first album, "Steady On," with all the vulnerability that got lost after "A Few Small Things."

for 27 years I've been trying
to believe and confide in
different people I found

some of them got closer than others
and some wouldn't even bother
and then you came around

But this isn't a song about finding love. The song is all the heartache, the loneliness and the frustration of two people who want each other but have too much hurt and baggage to even get started. There's a subtle string arrangement as the lyrics and the chorus progresses, but that's as stirring as it gets. There's a little bit of hope as the song leads to its climax, I'll never really learn how to love you / but I know that I love you through the hole in the sky / where I see you, the most confident she sounds in the song. In the end though, it's a sad acceptance that things are not going to work out.

and I hold
a record for being patient
with your kind of hesitation

I need you, you want me
but I don't know
how to connect
so I disconnect
I disconnect

Every song is about love, some of it wrong, some of it failed, some full of hope but needing a lot of faith.

In "And You Kissed Me", Nina sounds like Sheryl Crow before she started shilling for credit cards and dated fashion moguls. It's Sheryl Crow had she stuck with that honesty of the ballads on "Tuesday Night Music Club." The first words are:

man, I've had a few
but they wouldn't quite blow me like you
you gave me your name and signed
with a halo around my eye

This is The Afghan Whig's "Gentlemen" taken from the point of view of the abused.

lord, I've had my deal
but I never quite knew how it feels
when love makes you wake up sore
with fists that are ready for more

"Please Sister" and "Lead Me Into The Night" could've been written by Nick Cave, the first written in his melancholy mood, and latter in his quiet, tender mode of "Into My Arms." In "Please Sister," it's soul gone bad. The realization that she's done wrong, love gone sour. so if it's true that love will never die / then why do the lovers work so hard to stay alive? Meanwhile, "Lead Me Into The Night" is a slow, country ballad about falling for that person everyone says is bad for you, and willingly following that person. to lead me into the night / oh please drive away the light / although my mother will never understand / I walk with him away from the light and into the night

"For What It's Worth" is perhaps the most pop of the songs, with hooks that Carol King could've written. This should've been my theme for the last week. A person who, despite all the shit gone through and done to, still wants to the other person to stay.

hey, please baby come back
there'll be no more lovin' attacks
and I'll be keeping it cool tonight
the 4-letter word is out of my head
come on around, get back in my bed
keep making me feel alright

And still, she realizes all the ambivalence and all the wrongness of the situation. for what it's worth - I love you! / and what is worse - I really do...

The original version of the album ended with "03.45: No Sleep," a bittersweet lullabye. She's gone through all the giddiness and the disappointments, the love and the emptiness. The arrangement is sparse, just Nina, an acoustic guitar and a soft drum. She's alone, she's tired, and yet something in her voice still has hope.

it's way too late to think of
someone I would call now
the neon signs got tired
red eye flights help the stars out
I'm safe in a corner
just hours before me

I'm waking with the roaches
the world has surrendered
I'm dating ancient ghosts
[the ones I made friends with]
the comfort of fireflies
long gone before daylight

and if I had one wish fulfilled tonight
I'd ask for the sun to never rise
if God lent his voice to me to speak
I'd say: "go to bed, world!"

So I should go to bed soon. And I'd be willing to go through this over and over. There'll be regret. There'll be pain. But I'll be waking up again.

You've Just Been Hanging Out In The Men's Room

OK, so people say Aaron Sorkin is too talky, too pendantic. And yet you can't deny that the man knew how to write dialogue. Look at West Wing right now--it sucks ass through a straw.

One of my favorite shows (which is general a kiss of death for network televigion) is Sports Night, Aaron Sorkin's short-lived dramedy on ABC prior to West Wing. Like the best song lyrics, there's dialogue which hits the nail on the head for almost every life situation. Even more impressive, the show only lasted 2 seasons. Yeah, so after this whole sitch went down, I went through my Sports Night DVD compilation to find a snippet of dialogue that, in addition to Dido, The Afghan Whigs and Bob Dylan, kept going through my head. Let's hope the reason why is that there's a small portion of me that knows a version of this dialogue is going to be happening in the long run.

To setup, the two main sportscasters are Dan Rydell and Casey McCall. Casey, recently divorced, was in love with Dana, but Dana had this stupid plan to have Casey date other women for six months. Now Casey has moved on:

Dan: (putting the darts down) It was an idiotic dating plan, Dana. What did you think was going to happen?

Dana: Hey, Dan--

Dan: Forget that he's meeting all kinds of women, that was gonna happen. But the one that he wanted was you, anyway.

Dana: Wanted?

Dan: (sighs) All this is doing is making him feel a lot less like the man he is, which is why he left Lisa in the first place. (sits down across from her) I know what he wants, and I gotta say, he's done a pretty good job of going after it, which isn't, like, the most natural thing in the world for Casey to do. And I know what you want. And all I've seen you do is hide behind this psychotic behavior all dressed up as cute. He wanted you, and he told you every possible way he could. You've just been hanging out in the men's room. (gets up and leaves her looking miserable)

(Dana enters the bar hesitantly, looking around, then going up to the bartender)

Dana: Jack.

Jack: Hey, Dana.

Dana: Was Casey in here tonight?

Jack: You just missed him.

Dana: He left?

Jack: Yeah. You need anything?

Dana: Was he in here alone?

Jack: (a bit awkwardly) He met someone.

Dana: A girl?

Jack: Yeah, with a strange name.

Dana: Pixley.

Jack: Yeah.

Dana: They leave together?

Jack: Yeah.

Dana: (nodding painfully) Okay.

Jack: You need anything?

Dana: Uh... no. (gives a false smile that quickly fades into pain again)

(Fade out)

Thursday, June 03, 2004

Everything Is Wrong

You know how sometimes, when you buy a CD, after you fumble your way tearing off the plastic wrapping with that crinkly sound really annoying you, you rip off that sticky adhesive off the top, and you plop that CD in the player? And the LCD tells you that the CD is over 50 minutes long, and you're glad that you didn't get gipped of your fifteen dollars and some change? So you listen through the album and suddenly the last track comes up faster than expected? Or you're half paying attention while doing your work, and you're not paying attention to the time and you think the CD is over? Then after seven minutes of silence, you hear another track? And you realize that the album has a hidden track, and it's complete and utter crap. Think the hidden track on Nirvana's "Nevermind" and not the hidden track on "Lost in Translation." That album you thought was over 50 minutes is actually under 40.

Take what you will from that lengthy rhetorical question.

I had trouble sleeping last night. I had an overwhelming sensation that everything was wrong. I knew it in my heart and I knew it in my head. Somehow, life had derailed off the tracks, and I'm still in shock.

As I said before, I left the Contract Gig for reasons that had nothing to do with Setup Chick. I had been waking up with the Dread for the last few months. I'd been dreaming of travel with nowhere to go, or being back in school. Once you start feeling the Dread, you have to leave if you have the option. It's just unfortunate that me leaving also coincided with Setup Chick going back.

I know writing is a solitary profession, and I know I'm good at it (well, at both--writing and being solitary). For the first time today, the anxiety I'd been feeling is slowly starting to disappear just by writing.

In the long run, I need to write. In the long run, I know that staying any longer at the Contract Gig would've been bad for my health. But right now, it's all bittersweet. I was supposed to be decompressing this week, and instead I'm thinking about her. I was supposed to be writing this novel during the day and have her come home to me each night, but instead I'm back by my lonesome. I was supposed to say my final goodbye on Tuesday, but the office still calls and she tells me how hard it is not to see me, that she knows if she sees me again what will happen.

Yeah, I know the train has derailed. I know eventually, either I have to get it back on the tracks or find a new train. Sitting dazed isn't going to help me at all. But right now, everything is wrong.

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

I'm Comin' 'Round To Open Up The Blinds

So I guess this is part two of the thanks. And yeah, I'm quoting Dido. Very mainstream of me. But other than being cute and an Arsenal fan, she tends to write lyrics that are direct and very appropriate. So once again, thanks to everyone.

I'm comin' 'round to open the blinds
You can't hide here any longer
My God you need to rinse those puffy eyes
You can't last here any longer

And yes they'll ask you where you've been
And you'll have to tell them again and again

And you probably don't want to hear tomorrow's another day
Well I promise you you'll see the sun again
And you're asking me why pain's the only way to happiness
And I promise you you'll see the sun again

Come on take my hand
We're going for a walk, I know you can
You can wear anything as long as it's not black
Please don't mourn forever
She's not coming back

And yes they'll ask you where you've been
And you'll have to tell them again and again

And you probably don't want to hear tomorrow's another day
Well I promise you you'll see the sun again
And you're asking me why pain's the only way to happiness
And I promise you you'll see the sun again
And I promise you you'll see the sun again

Do you remember telling me you found the sweetest thing of all
You said one day of this was worth dying for
So be thankful you knew her at all
But it's no more

And you probably don't want to hear tomorrow's another day
Well I promise you you'll see the sun again
And you're asking me why pain's the only way to happiness
And I promise you you'll see the sun again
And you probably don't want to hear tomorrow's another day
Well I promise you you'll see the sun again
And you're asking me why pain's the only way to happiness
And I promise you you'll see the sun again
See the sun again

---"See The Sun," Dido

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Simple Things

In all this grief and anger of this past week, I'm grateful that I have a network of friends who kept me from drowning. I know that I'm extremely lucky to have you all as friends. I hope there is such a thing as karma, because if it exists, then each and every one of you will find happiness that will doggedly follow you no matter what you do. So a shout out goes, in no particular order because every one of you kept me from drowning, to Rach, Dubois, the Big Jew, Dong and Bergerbuns, Fleo and Rhokel, Dirty, Katherine, Special Princess, Pat, Greg and Moxie. And to all that have been giving me good vibes from afar, the whole karma thing goes for you too.

And Now It's Gone . . .

You call her in a moment of weakness, just to tell her that you're sad that the friendship is gone. You call her because that little spark of hope is still there. And she returns your call because she's also sad that the frienship is gone. She returns your call because she still has that little spark of hope still there too.

You try to salvage your friendship. You tell her what the worst thing about this is the loss of someone who knew you better than you knew yourself. You tell her the worst thing about this is that there are no birthdays together, no talking because you love each other's company. You tell her that this is like a friend dying. She asks you what if's in hopes of keeping the friendship alive. What if she came back to you in four months? What if she was married to him in four months? And you answer honestly. And you ask your what ifs. What if he doesn't change? What if she's at the altar and all she can think about is you? You ask her if she felt anything when he slept with her now, and she can't answer. And she cries and says she can't handle this right now. She cries saying she's supposed to be thinking about the wedding. She says this isn't the last goodbye.

And because you're weak, because you still love her and you can't believe that the friendship is over, because as much as she treated you like shit it hurts you more to hear her cry, you call her and say you don't want to leave it this way.

She calls you back, saying she can't do this anymore. She says her boyfriend changed his mind, that he can't have her talking to you. She says her boyfriend says it's over if she talks to you. She can't be friends with you.

And so you say your last goodbye. You don't want to get off the phone, but you have to. So your last words are how you feel. Your last words to her are "My best friend died today. My best friend died." You hear her sobbing. You say "Goodbye."

You know that, in the long run, cutting all contact is really the best for both of you. You know that you were weak, and that self-disgust comes cascading through your body. You know all this, but all you can think of is her sobbing, and your words, "My best friend died today."

C'mon C'mon

Now We Grieve 'Cuz Now It's Gone
All The Things Were Good When We Were Young

-- C'mon C'mon, The Von Blondies

So you wonder why all the gnashing of the teeth over Setup Chick. Why all the heartache, the grief over this woman who treated me like shit, who got what she wanted all along--for her boyfriend to propose to her--at the cost of our friendship.

And that's precisely the reason why I grieve--our friendship. We had been really close friends since November. We saw each other almost every day at our job, and we talked almost every night. Whenever she saw me sad, she'd figure out a way to cheer me up. She said the kindest thing anyone has ever said to me, the "Marty, you're going to end up marrying a drop dead gorgeous blonde" statement. I made her laugh constantly, cheered her up when her boyfriend was watching hockey even though she needed help. Even my friends who never met her said, back before the hookup, how happy we seemed together, how they thought Setup Chick was a wonderful person. Now they all hate her, and are shocked at how this played out.

Now, all the good things are gone. I won't be there when she turns 25 in August, laughing when I have to make good with the stupid bet that I would be sitting across someone I absolutely adored and who absolutely adored me before her birthday. She won't be there when I turn 32 in October. There will be no more nightly phone calls where we just talk about work or life or our pets. Even if I see her in the future, that friendship is gone.

It might sound rather obvious, but the reason why breakups are so hard is not the loss of sex (though that sucks ass too). Instead, it's really the death of a friendship, knowing that someone who knew you better than yourself is no longer part of your life. In a way, and not to demean real death or say that real death isn't horrible, but the death of a friendship is in some ways worse than the friend passing away--because the friendship is gone but the friend still is there just a phone call away. And in your weak moments, you want to call, but you know if you do, you'll be talking to a different person inhabiting the same body. Your caught between trying to recapture all those great memories, and demeaning those same memories by trying to bring them back.

And so today, the anger is gone, but the grief is there.

I try to take solace in the fact that I'm not the one who is making the wrong choice. I try to take solace in the fact that if Setup Chick wants to stay with Jon, then they deserve each other. I hold on to the following:

Jon is 43 and started dated Setup Chick, who was his personal assistant at the time, when she was 19. Before Setup Chick, he dated another one of his employees and who was ten years younger than him (see a pattern here?), who he never asked to marry despite the fact they dated for ten years, and who cheated on him (yeah, I wonder if the ten years they dated with no commitment had anything to do with that). And Setup Chick ended up with Jon because she was consoling him. And two weeks ago, knowing that Setup Chick slept with me, he lied to her about ordering her a ring and proposed to her. And knowing that Setup Chick slept with me again a little over a week ago and she hadn't slept with him, Jon went to her parents' home to "say goodbye" (but we all know the he went there to get their intervention). And knowing that Setup Chick slept with me yet again this weekend and didn't feel a thing when she slept with him, Jon called her and begged her to come back, with a not so concealed threat to commit suicide--"I have no purpose if you leave." Do any of you really think that Setup Chick is going to be happy with this guy?

I know I was weak as well for sleeping with her. I know love makes you do stupid things. But I never begged her to come back to me, and I never threatened to do kill myself. I always told her, until her final betrayal Sunday, that I wanted her to be happy--to get away from Jon and me and get some clarity. And for her to choose Jon, a man who has no self-respect, who admitted to her that he had taken her for granted, who only tried to change after telling him she found someone else, who had treated her at best like a pet who did his books and had sex with him, who still begged and threatened her even after she still kept sleeping with someone else--it makes Setup Chick's decision to kill our friendship even more painful.

So I'll grieve for our friendship, and I'll move on eventually. I know I'll have my weak moments, and I might try to hold on to that little spark of hope that we can rekindle our friendship. But I hope that I learn from this, an extra layer of armor in the future. It's really all I can do at this point.