Archive for November, 2004

it doesn’t matter if they can sing

Tuesday, November 30th, 2004

The ‘Idol’ phenomenon has hit Singapore hard. It’s now down to the last two contestants. I neither know nor care which can sing better. I have no interest in the ‘Idol’ franchise. I lived in England when the first Pop Idol aired and the sick voyeuristic orgy that it was made me question the sanity of the British people. Then I moved back to America and it followed me! I lived through two incarnations of the bad songs. The utter hysteria of the people who become addicted to this show served to confirm my ‘take the safety labels off and see if the problem fixes itself’ attitude towards American intelligence. Now I come to Singapore—half way around the world and low and fucking behold, Singapore Idol. It’s a bunch of pre-teen girls wetting their panties over a couple of guys who would not touch them as they have the wrong plumbing.

But enough bitching about Idol, I just don’t get it. I mean I like to a good train wreck as much as the next person, but I just don’t get it. The reason I do find the Singapore Idol interesting is that the final vote is being take very seriously. And it has little to nothing to do with the abilities of the two contestants to sing. It’s all about looks, but not because the girls find one guy more attractive than the other. No, it has to do with looks because it’s all about racism. See one of the contestants is of Chinese heritage and the other is Malay.

It really is that bad. Apparently there are people planning to spend a hundred plus dollars on voting for the candidate who shares their ethnicity. At fifty cents a vote that’s a deep seeded racism.

Most people think that America is racist. And it is. But one thing I have learned form living abroad and traveling is that America is far from the most racist nation. In fact we are probably near the bottom of the pile. The big difference is that there is some sort of dialog in America regarding race relations. We fought a war that had a lot to do with racism and we spent another hundred years acting openly racist. Now we still have a long way to go but there is a dialog, muted as it might be.

America has a built in advantage when it comes to racism: the melting pot. The fact that we are almost all mutts, that after the first few generations immigrants tend to acculturate, has helped long-term racism. I am not saying that racism is dead in the US—far from it. What I am saying is that America is far ahead of the rest of the world in regards to racism. It’s hard to explain without being in another society and observing it, but trust me; most of the world is racist, many of them have just never met someone of another race.

Typical Thanksgiving

Saturday, November 27th, 2004

I never was too into Thanksgiving. My family is not what you would call a close nit group. As soon as I was old enough to get out on major holidays I did. I spent the Thanksgivings and Christmases of my teenage years at the movie theater, because movie theaters are open 365 days a year.

This year I am halfway around the world and it’s not a holiday here, so I spent Thanksgiving at work. I called my mom on Friday morning my time which was Thursday evening her time to talk but work quickly interrupted my call and I did little more than say hello. So all in all it was a fairly typical Thanksgiving for me, even halfway around the world. I don’t even think they have turkeys in this country…

Self indulgent whining

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2004

Sunday I sat on the couch in my new flat, on the 14th floor of a high-rise, in the huge stone floored living room and did nothing. It was not the pleasant do nothing of exhaustion or relaxation. It was the mind numbing, soul crushing do nothing of complete existential angst.

Angst based in a lack of anything to do. The weight of realizing that I am 10,000 miles from home surrounded by new people and places and I don’t have the emotional energy to meet the people and to explore the places. I get up in the morning and I go to work. I go home in the middle of the night and I go to bed.

This is not to say I don’t go out. The problem is that I have been going out a lot while in Singapore, but it is always to drink with people from Chantilly who are here visiting. I have become the resident tour guide for all the Americans who come to visit and work. And the saddest of the sad is that I usually end up working while I am out drinking.

I mentioned some time ago that I felt I was becoming ‘bitter’ not having a girlfriend. I have thought a lot about that statement since I made it. I dont think it is wrong but I think it is not entirely correct. It’s not that I feel I need a physical relationship or that I have to have a girl—obviously I can live without one, I have done it for some time. The belief I have come to is that it is the emotional connection and support that is missing from my life.

I have become the sounding board for several people at work. When they are frustrated, upset or angry they come to me to bitch, cry and whine. I don’t mind this, everyone needs a way to vent and if I can help people I want to do that. I want to be able to identify where a problem exists and if it is something that I or my superiors can address I will do my best to clear up the situation or clarify the confusion.

The problem comes in that when I leave work and go back to my apartment, I sit on a couch in an otherwise empty room for a few minutes and then go to bed. Then I get up and come to work. I don’t ever have the chance to unload all my frustrations, stress and anger to anyone. I’m not saying that if I had a girlfriend I would be yelling at her or crying in her lap all the time, no the stress should never get to that level, and thats not me anyway. What I am saying is that just the few minutes that many people get from a “how was your day…” conversation keeps the angst level lower and prevents the existential angst I was feeling Sunday.

I am surrounded by people all day, and I find myself starved of human contact.

Maybe I should start keeping a personal journal again. I used to try to write my frustrations and angers as well as joys and thoughts down in a journal everyday. I never managed to keep up with everyday but I have quite a number of notebooks of these kinds of thoughts. I stopped keeping the journal in Japan over the spring. I fell behind in my travel journal while in Japan on the last couple of days and said: “oh I will finish it when we are on the plane…,” “Oh I will finish it after I sleep…” Oh, I never finished it, and I never picked up the journal again. I thought, well, it’s just a waste of my time. No one will ever read it and it’s a hassle to keep writing in it everyday. Now I think maybe it was serving as a substitute emotional crutch.

I know that a journal cannot take the place of a true emotional relationship—be it a sensual or plutonic relationship, but I think it was an outlet that kept down some of the angst and depression that I am feeling today.

What to do? I don’t know. I have not come to an answer; this is just self indulgent whining on my part. Do you have an answer? What am I doing wrong? Why can’t I meet people? Why am I shy? Why am I a workaholic? Why am I alone, unable to fulfill the needs of the people I have been fortunate enough to date? Why did the good ones leave me behind? What am I doing wrong? You tell me I don’t have any answers. Not yet.

What’s it all about?

Saturday, November 20th, 2004 has been online since late in 2001—before that there was another older will-not-be-mentioned-here site which has been lost in the fog and shadow of the early internet. This site originally started as a way to keep my close friends up-to-date with my wanderings in Europe as I went to school in London.

Admittedly confusion is filled with what Jeffery Zeldman [ ] would refer to as “dull personal commentary with a side order of self-importance” [ ] but perhaps one day my writing skills will improve and I might approach the depth of writing that Jonathon Delacour [ ] has, or the beauty of opinion that Richard Geib [ ] illuminated to the web before the ‘blogging phenomenon’ started.

In the meantime I will continue my dull personal commentary and occasionally update my photos and writing. All for my own benefit but then again this is my personal corner of cyberspace. I make no excuses for hideous grammar, asinine statements, blissfully ignorant worldviews or verbal diarrhea on this site. It is by me, for me and of me.

red, purple and blue

Saturday, November 20th, 2004

See [ ] how the votes where really spread out. A new take on the red states verses the blue states that gives a better picture of how people voted.

not an al-key

Wednesday, November 17th, 2004

It’s bad when you have been gone a month and the first night you go into a bar the waitresses say “hey, long time no see…” And what is even worse is they know you by name! Honestly I am not an alcoholic but we have been to that bar way too many times. Last night we closed it again at 2 am and then went to another bar! I got like two hours of sleep last night.

On the bright side I am moved into my flat now. It’s nice—I need to buy a lot of stuff. All I have is a bed right now. Well, their is a couch too, but I need to buy everything else. C’est la vie, Ikea is across the street—I can go all Sweedish ultra modern cheep!

it’s Chicago. It’s not Chicago.

Thursday, November 11th, 2004

“For any of you who are driving in Chicago for the first time tonight, let me give you the rules of the road. There are three rules: Green means go, yellow means speed up and red means the first five cars go through. If you follow those simple rules you’ll fit right in and no one will know you’re from another state.”

This is how the driver of the Hertz courtesy shuttle greeted us on the way from the main terminal at O’Hare to the rental car lot. Why am I in Chicago? Shouldn’t I be back in Singapore? Well, I am not in fact in Chicago—that was last night and this morning, I am back in Chantilly now—and I was supposed to be in Singapore, but I got interrupted by events beyond my control… They canceled the conference I was supposed to be at two weeks ago and so I had to go to the one this week in Seattle. Yes, Seattle, I was there Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday morning. Then off to Chicago to meet with a customer and an vendor for a four hour meeting—which was remarkably like a three hour tour: the people in charge were totally lost and we were tossed about in a storm of questions.

Anyway! Now I am in Virginia and I should, changes in itinerary not withstanding, be back in Singapore on Monday, which I understand is a holiday. And I understand I now have a flat—as in a place to live not a flat tire, though I had one of those last week and it cost me over $100 for the replacement tire!—and will only need to spend a few days in a hotel. Yea! We’ll see how it goes.

P.S. the title is the chorus line from a Soul Coughing song