Sunday, April 07, 2013

The Alyph

I still can't believe we did it.

From the time this trip was suggested to me on Nov 5, 2012, to the date when our plane touched down in SFO, it took a mere 17 days.  It is very unlike how we have usually taken things these days, slow, uncertain, sentimental, and over analysis.

It is especially amazing considering I need to get visa from the Argentine consulate in Los Angles, which is a very inefficient but classic (if you will) type of operation and a good story for another day.

The visa was delivered the day before my trip.

Buenos Aires is a city that I have longed for since I read Borges, his stories of knife fight, labyrinth, library with endless books, a whole life lived in mere one minute, distortion of time, man who remembers every detail of things happened in his life, an infinite universe in a two inch ball in the basement of an old apartment, the Alyph.

I did not expect that I would step into my own labyrinth of hearts in its endless alleys and streets, in a different universe from the one we live in here. Revelations, strange feelings on the familiar face, humidity and chaos, feeling of anger and love, witness of poverty, secrets, romantic wandering around the city that looks like Shanghai, Chennai, Rome, Paris, New York all at the same time, yet truly its own.

It reminds me of something familiar, warm and cosy, a sense of nostalgia, something that was lost, the sound, the noise, the apartments buildings around beautiful little parks, with white and long french windows, I feel I could be living there, lived there, or will do in my next life.

I will alway remember the purple flowers around the city, the tangos, and tangos of hearts, walking to the alley where the old national library was, where the book of sand is hidden, where Borges became the head of the national library while growing blind at the same time.

We did not walked out at night to see the Southern Cross.

Cafe Richmond where Borges and Graham Green both visited and wrote about, is closed, making room for Nike Store. Some changes are sad and some lost are permanent.

It is my Alyph.  

And I can live in that city, with its vibrance, and feel the whole universe, it is the universe of our hearts.

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Monday, June 04, 2012

From Happiness to Crappiness


 I probably have just watched the best episode ever of Madmen.

And at the end of it, the interesting-looking boy, who is actually the producer's son, said: why all things you think will make you happy turn into crap?

Expectation kills the fun. But why?

 Joan is the lady that has to face them all, yet she is still fiery, strong, and smiling, wearing red, with the guts to face the possibility of craps or simply craps themselves. 

So great to see Don Draper is back to the top of his game. "Happiness is the minute you want to have more happiness. You are not happy."

Yes, if one does not what more of what one has, then that is not happiness. 

What if we want more of what we can't have, and then just want less?

It fills me with the feeling of nostalgia to see snow falling outside the office windows and remembered the winter time in the offices up in the buildings of Madison Avenue, and working days on Sunday as a escape and with secret expectations.

Remembering those of my agency times in New York. Remembering those walls, if they can talk.   

Only this time someone came to the office middle of the night to kill himself for he saw no way out and his pride does not allow admission of failure-if hanging himself out of the door hook stiff is not, maybe it is a protest.  His death will hang heavy on Don Draper's conscious.
What a great performance of the one who died. Good news is the British actor will come back as Moriarty in the not so good film adoption of Sherlock Holmes.

It is an intense episode.

Sally becomes a women. When I saw her and the little boy strolling the Natural History museum, I got teary.  It is one of my favorite places in New York. I lived near it for a brief time. It played a little role in my moving to San Francisco all things considered.

Why all my memories are with New York? Even the ones that make me leave it are traced back to New York.

San Francisco, it will come for us. It is happening.   

And why what we think that can make us happy always turn to crap?

Stop whining. Is that what they say?

So great to see Don always stands up as a descent man at times of trying, when Joan's service was needed, when Lane was dangling there, when the little boy had to take a train alone and he was just a bit sad of a crappy day.  He stood up and do the right thing.

Don Draper has balls. For a man, that is what matters most.  The better word is character. He has other flaws, but being wimpy and selfishly small is not among them. 
Madmen started on 2007. I watched the season one at a tough time, a sight to the sore eyes.

I missed Season two as I was in China in 2008, but later watched it on Netflix.

At the start of Season three, I was at Indiana, helping my Niece settling in her school. I remember making sure I watch that first episode of the season from a hotel room.  That was an interesting time. a start of a new phase.

I watched Season four on laptop as my TV was not working properly and owning a new TV is not trendy anymore. I was also happy and distracted by other things happening.

And Season five is watched here, in San Francisco, after March, on a new 3D TV.

All the characters seemed to have grown up or older, like we did, like I did.  Wiser or not, I am not sure. 

It gets incredibly darker this season, and incredibly good. It is not one of those feel good movies when you are inspired watching, if anything, Madmen have you see your own flaws and struggle and fear so clearly and you can't move your eyes away.

I like the beautiful and quietly desperate Betty Draper, more than the toothy and perfectly nice Meagan.  Her way of standing bothers me too. I love Joan with her porcelain look, dignified appearance, and the sense of moral high ground,  and she can really hold it up there even when she is insulted. I like Pete especially when he is doubting himself, which is all the time. 
But I never really feels close or identified to Don Draper. I did with both Betty and Peggy, Pete and even Roger, but never Don.

He has no sense of humor. He is really unhappy and has no hobby. None of them except Ken but that is OK. I lose my interest of things when I get lost too. And he is too perfect-smart, always carry the day, get all he wants. I don't look at him from a woman's perspective. I am watching him like watching part of ourselves. They all are, part of our collective identities. 

I am sure he is the man that every man wants to be.  If I am a man, maybe I want to be like him too, I would not know. It is said by a comedian that all republican man want to look like Don Draper.

For that reason, it is secretly satisfying for all to see that even as smart, handsome and driving as he is, he still is not happy.

And that says it all. We all can fail sometime and just look at Don Draper.

Yet, he is still wining. Lane is the one who has failed.

Maybe happiness does not truly exist, it exist in the name of routine and certainties for people who settle and don't ask questions, it does not exists for people keep pursing it for it always just turns to crap when you try to define it and grasp it.

Happiness is too much to bear for some people for whom guilt always shadows happiness. 

Where would this go from here? Where would my season 6 or 7 be?  Here or some where else?

It is like part of the life now. I don't know what that says about me, but I am OK with it.

The forever stylish way to raise your chin high, like Joan, even when the situation calls for crying and tears, is why I love so much about Madmen.

Turning craps to something else, if not happiness. 

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


到上海开会,住在上海宏安瑞士酒店。上边第一章照片中的红色高楼。在公司中国总部的斜对面。 好久没来上海了,觉得又繁华了很多。想到九三年在这里满街找掼奶油,将近二十年了。九五年也是从虹桥第一次飞离了中国。后来也曾在这里来去。出差却是第一次。因为爱着纽约,也发现上海的魅力,那种现代都市的气氛很相似。


冥冥之中是否有缘前定。这次旅行中,有两位男士对我提到张爱玲,两次都指出我(既然如是选择),就应该,并安于,追求做张爱玲式的独立文艺女性。欣欣然玩弄文字,飘然海外,不结尘世喧嚣。一个人语带讽刺,因为我显然并不出尘;一个是真心劝我不必追求女强人的生活,免得男人们仰望却步。后者显然喜欢我的文字, 胜过我创业的热情。


酷爱红楼梦,和浪迹海外, 是我们唯一有可比性的。


知道这末近,自然就下楼造访。 那是酒店前常德路195号的常德公寓。楼上的牌子说是上海优秀建筑。又查资料,如是说:

常德公寓原名爱林登公寓,位于常德路(原赫德路)195号,8层,钢筋混凝土结构,占地面积为580平方米,建筑面积为2663平方米,建于1936年。 公寓结合地形建造,平面呈“凹”形,每层三户,户型有二室户和三室户。每户客厅较大,设置壁 炉,卧室均有小贮藏室和卫生间,厨房沿西外廊布置,双阳台连通客厅和卧室。西面统长挑长廊,即作为安全通道,又兼作服务阳台。底层和夹层布置4套跃居住 宅,每套住宅上下有小楼梯连通。第8层为电梯机房和水箱等用房。   公寓原为意大利房产,居住者多为社会中上层人士。




看完了那本张爱玲和 宋淇 宋邝文美的通信集,私语录,很高兴她有这样亲密的朋友可以联系和牵挂。知道了她也曾住过旧金山。而且觉得是在这里的老房子里染上了让她苦恼的皮肤病。最后一封长信里居然提到王家卫,说是后者想拍十八春,寄来了以前的影碟。她不会看,也不知道这个人是谁。张爱玲其实是个很好的电影剧作者。真是很欣慰张爱玲活到了很现代的时候。而小团圆也出版了。



Thursday, March 15, 2012