Posted in Uncategorized with tags on January 7, 2010 by spiebocks

bumper to bumper traffic and the light can’t find it’s way to green
we are grateful for the ability to talk at 1.34 a.m., but
the falling drizzle is deafening. And,
I look everywhere she can’t
for answers-
the woman too busy with makeup to notice she’s not any prettier,
the man singing at the top of his lungs to drown his thoughts,
the backseat child who hasn’t lived
but already knows the world better than me, and

i need to break something beautiful, mediocre, ugly, anything
maybe her

what difference could passing this light make anyhow? threading these streets
to nothing different, suffocatingly
the radio tells me the same people are fighting again just because
we live in troubled time apparently – when was shit easy before?
as the bumper in front of me speaks truth:
“same shit, different day”


Because I can

Posted in Uncategorized on November 7, 2009 by spiebocks

i’ve been out of my mind for a while, but that’s between me and my mind; “does that seem right to you”; what’s life without work and how i miss the drive down Texas blvd through 5am mornings (the air is heavy enough to keep you warm with the occasional shiver), or the solitary drives through tree-dark streets outside of Durham (stopping on the graveled side roads just because i could); “Your nut sack is full of green cards”; the ever static sequence of creation and destruction in my scotched pot – creatures of energy, heat bubbles, start one by one to break the surface – they’re exploding just so i may have a cup of tea and I don’t even want to wake this early; “does that seem right to you”; I’m told the real love, the her-smile-is-stronger-than-any-coffee love, the i-need-my-arms-around-her-because-they-were-made-to-be-around-her love, only happens in different languages; but N, the wise romantic, who spoke these words and fell in love more times than I have ever laughed, is now stuck in bitterness and contempt…so long, so broken, so unfortunately familiar – his heart is no longer in this dimension; it’s no secret womanly wiles take their toll; “does that seem right to you”; I heard a single loud noise first, then a few loud noises, then a few more, all from my roommate’s room and my mind immediately figured he had hung himself and I waited 5 whole minutes before bothering to check, he was redecorating his room; “I watched it for a little while/ I liked to watch things on tv/ satellite of love/ satellite of love..”; I have an obsession with redesigning my website but this obsession does not belong to me and i can’t ever seem to get it right; I was watching Sunshine Cleaners with E yesterday, the people that killed themselves had some comedy surrounding them and we laughed at these people so easily without the remembrance of June, of Ian, so easily; “does that seem right to you”. I feel bad for people that feel the need to pick fights on youtube comment sections; what are the mathematics of hate, the derivative of animosity, integral of contempt; chicken or the egg, chicken or the egg, or the egg, or the egg – that shit always gets to me; i need to find God again but don’t recall where i left him last; the breeze is cool out here and it will become humid like yesterday. i’ve been feeling “grown up” recently, undoubtedly due to my ability to think freely and my transition to the “invisible guy”; “does that seem right to you”; treat me as I have treated you and i’ll carve apologies for all your tears on my desk, maybe; i can’t wait until school starts, my new office feels important and favorable possibilities exist – just a few squares down the hall.


Posted in Uncategorized on October 10, 2009 by spiebocks

i need a time machine. nothing fancy. i just need something to get me from point C to point B to point A. i have a sudden urge to vacation in a nicer time; maybe June 1st 2007 – the peak of my confidence; maybe May 29th 2003, when words didn’t need to mean anything and intuition was common sense… i dreamt of changing the world for the worse, really it was the only option as everything good had already been done…”I am human, NOT a machine!”, wise words from the ever frantic turk E …tomorrow is a new day, but it tends to be deceptively similar to its predecessor. i’m almost never certain what day i’m living in but my information set {(Mon, Wed); (Tue,Thur); (Other)} is sufficient for survival … I haven’t worked hard enough to earn this exhaustion, and i’m not really all that exhausted unless exhausted == lazy, then i got that shit covered … i’ve lost my words, this happens from time to time … i wish i had some cheap scotch now to help me sleep, write – “quality time” as S calls it. … CB graduated today and interestingly enough when i spoke to him he neglected to mention it. should i be jealous that he gets to enjoy a life away from academia now? … the weather took today as a transition day; hot to hotter, rain to sun. the essence of weather is surely a woman, certifiable … i just spoke to the hippy and her scatter-brained sequence of words scared the shit out of me. how does one give a hug over the phone? … Flume, Lump Sum, Skinny Love, Creature Fear are the songs i can’t really seem to move from these days, Bon Iver knows the soul … guess whose face it is, not mine chump … i need to stop depending on my iphone as an alarm clock … i provided examples of my most recent IA work to H; she could only laugh and challenged me to understand her… startrek was good and i bet it would have been amazing if i had waited to see it on imax … “Stop eating people’s old French fries, pigeon. Have some self respect! Don’t you know you can fly?” … i was looking over some macro notes a few moments ago and came across: “I know this is painful and boring, but that’s life”; words from my macro ta during a recitation. i thought it wise to write this down at the time … to properly rank my options should i not continue on the righteous path of economics i did a bit-o-research; i couldn’t believe the content that passes for a phd these days (specifically in policital science, “decision sciences”, education, glorified MBA’s, health policy, etc; i guess i’d either choose to be a sociologist or be aat peace.

The Aftermath

Posted in Uncategorized on August 23, 2009 by spiebocks

Comps are done, for now, and I find myself fortunate enough to not dwell. My classmates, however, are not so fortunate and while this perturbs my descent into relaxation it does not halt it.

This ordeal made me realize:
(1) that the process was as strenuous as i was warned it would be.
(2) how insignificant the material from my MA was (except for Taylor’s class).
(3) that while inhumane, comps are important.
(4) I sold my soul to e-konomicks and got nothing real in return.

The first post-comp days were uneventful and beautiful. This past Wednesday was the first day I felt fully relaxed. Sadly, this feeling didn’t last long as

(1) Not having deadlines bugs me and I find myself wanting to do something productive.
(2) I opened mail from doctors/hospital that I received 3 weeks ago and found out I owed an additional $3,200 for my operation in February (after insurance). Here I was, all this time, thinking I only owed $600… but that’s life. On Monday, I begin my battle with United Health Care and Prince Georges’ Hospital.
(3) Everyone and their mother is traveling/having babies/getting engaged(married)…except for me and I’m starting to feel left out. As a result, I am currently developing an efficient stratergy which will include me traveling to 3 countries, fertilizing 4 females, and marrying 2 (not necessarily any of the fertilized 4) within the next 2.75 years.

…yeah, Wednesday wasn’t the best of days but then I heard some jazz in a fancy museum on Thursday and I remembered life was good because I could still enjoy music.


* I’ve always had a thing for Cat Power.

* Some a-Capella videos I can’t get enough of:
(1) Stand by me
(2) Bohemian Rhapsody
(3) Facebook Stalkin’

*I am perpetually obsessed with singing talent shows. These are a few that have caught my eye recently, in order of awesomness:

(1)Great Performer and a song i haven’t heard in too long
(2) Old School song; these guys are so good it’s disgusting
(3) the new jackson family
(4) Surprising, I wrote her off immediately
(5) ain’t no mountain high…
(6) This is just funny

*Cool Photos I’ve come across recently:
(1) Meltdown
(2) Spiral Staircase

*Good Reads (WARNING: economics related):
(1) Your FACE – even if you have tenure
(2) Principal-Agent in terms of Mad Men
(3) zombies vs man

*Random Thought: Does being the nicest guy ever preclude me from doing evil? (HINT: nah, son!)

These days…

Posted in Uncategorized on February 15, 2009 by spiebocks

Life changes and reverts; it’s elastic like that. I finally find myself in the appropriate groove: Sleeping, Eating, Studying, Rinse and Repeat. On returning from Christmas break, I worried that I had become a dreamer (those guys never get anything done). As it were, I had in fact been suffering from a mild case of dreamer-itis but this was cured by mid-terms.

My hands find themselves hesitant towards the words that are supposed to come next. I am unsure of the best written structure of events recently transpired but here goes:


There have been a few birthdays this quarter. I bought one gift that unfortunately had the least meaning of any gift I think I’ve ever purchased but the circumstances account for this. Another birthday led me to a very good Korean place after which i was mildly disappointed by Watchmen. Yet another birthday, which was dignified with a small gift, engendered a lot of crap from friends of the “oooohhhhh” variety. The remainder of birthday celebrations in which I partook, thankfully, included alcoholic relaxation.


I moved into a new apartment at the end of January. Like any other self-respecting man, I prefer to do shit myself. I carried half of all my possessions (sadly this half consists entirely of books) in one trip in 3 full duffel bags and a backpack. The next morning I could not move. By nightfall of that night I managed to shuffle to my car, get to CVS, buy the strongest tylenol and back heating/cooling pads. I recalled making fun of Charles when he hurt his back and so I prayed and promised not to make fun of such pain again. Spasms are no joke. After about 1.5 weeks I was able to walk without much pain and by 2 weeks was almost 100%. Luckily, E was insistent enough about helping me move the rest of my belongings and I was prevented from being an idiot and moving them in my condition.

My grandmother was rushed to the emergency room on February 18th. She had a hernia and, being as “tough”/raw as she is simply decided to walk it off. Minor complications occurred during surgery but her convalescence is complete now.

I had an emergency appendectomy, talk about good times. Unfortunately, the clarity of this moment is striking. One Saturday night, after having some semi-decent Lebanese food with friends, after dropping off one of these friends at her house, and picking up some beer, I found myself at another friends house in mild pain. We spoke of culture and women as usual. The only unusual thing was I could not keep up with their alcoholic intake, in the 2 hours I was there I managed to finish half of a beer. I had been feeling involuntary shakes and some discomfort in my stomach during this time which I simply attributed to “new food effects”. However, when I started perspiring I decided to call it a night. The familiar 1 minute walk to my apartment took about 5 minutes as I discovered upon leaving my friend’s apartment I could only walk hunched over and in between waves of pain.

At first, the combined symptoms (sweating with 30 degree weather, stomach pain, the shaking) lead me to believe I had food poisoning. I forced myself to throw up 3 times and took to pacing in my room, trying to “walk it off”. I noticed the pain had centralized to my lower-right abdomen and from all the medical articles/books I had to read while working for FS I realized that I had appendicitis. As such, I put pressure on the problem area to relieve the pain and tried to sleep. By 3:30 a.m. I realized I could no longer withstand the pain. In desperation I called a friend, a long shot really since they were drunk, and ended up driving myself to the closest hospital.

There’s a lot more to this story but I would rather not recall the rest. The basic outline, however, is as follows: got to the hospital a little after 4 a.m.; had a misunderstanding with a security guard and the jackass at ER admissions; fell in and out of sleep (consciousness) while in triage; saw a real life doctor who took too long to diagnose me with appendicitis around 1pm; went into surgery 2 hours later; was released from the hospital late Monday afternoon; and over 1.5 months later am finally starting to feel good again.

Oh yeah, I also managed to pull out an internal stitch (I didn’t realize I had any) and get into a minor car accident within a week of getting back home.



* R came into town for the flyouts and I met with her and S one night. I couldn’t help but feel bad for them; innocently oblivious to what awaits them in the PhD and nervously excited. I convinced them to go to a friend’s birthday celebration with me just to have them get out a little while they still could. I was once in their position back in the day.

* I went to the Japanese Street Festival the other weekend which took place in the capital triangle downtown DC at the peak of Cherry Blossom bloom. So relaxing so fucking beautiful.

* I realized my Gift-Giving Rule for females is faulty; this makes complete sense since the female this is based on is certifiable.

* I became re-obsessed with Beirut (Link 1 Link 2) and Molly Marlette (only one song really).

* Just yesterday, I was “the nicest guy ever”. I was in a rush but noticed a cry for help. It was an old woman at the bus stop in a slow process of falling down. I caught her, she caught on to me and pulled the ol’ “show me compassion because I’m an old lady” card. I carried her 3 blocks (and then walked her 2 blocks downhill, she insisted she was strong enough) to her apartment. She wouldn’t let me call an ambulance for her and her husband was at work. I must admit, although i was late to my destination, I felt good having helped a stranger. It’s been a while.

It’s funny how things go, when the go

Posted in Uncategorized on January 9, 2009 by spiebocks

I had my last final on December 20th. Macroeconomics has never been my favorite field. I know I could have done better if (1) I studied more (it always seems there’s more that could have been done) and (2) the exam had been written better.

As for (1), well, that’s just life. However, (2) was out of my hands. You see, this professor (consensus says) should not be allowed to write exams. In studying for this final I found numerous errors in past solutions guides; assumptions appeared magically, solutions only partially unexplained. Unfortunately, these study guides were actual past exams and today’s exam was no different – it was confusion layered over confusion. I could dissect this macro topic more but this is not a moment I would like to recall. I’ll leave the essence of the experience with this – “that’s life”.

Metrics, the day before (Friday) was okay. However, I made the mistake of not reading the instructions properly. We were only supposed to answer 2 out of 3 questions; the exam difficulty level was such that we would only have time to answer 2 questions. I answered three questions. I couldn’t understand why everyone seemed far calmer than I felt, why they wrote deliberately and satisfactorily while I wrote as if my academic life depended on it. I found out the error in my ways shortly after the exam and am still kicking myself.

Either way, my grades were decent. I didn’t get the expected A+ in Micro, though.

After the depressing blow of the Macro exam, I decided to take a short nap only to wake up 6 hours later and realize I had missed my bus to New York. Charles, of course, was devastated that I would not be around to have fun and teach him what’s what. I was convinced to go out with the fellows in my program that Saturday night. I figured I would drink little if anything at all in case the night were to be as damning as our last venture into DC. When we got to Rocket Bar, however, the Turks and the Chilean played it safe and I surprised myself by having fun. I couldn’t help but remember one of my cousin’s sage remarks as night turned to day: “you don’t really know someone until you get drunk with them”. Since I never drink to the point of incomprehension, my mind remained sharp(ish) and I was fascinated to “see” my friendship with some and disappointment in others grow exponentially. Thanks Alcohol!

My flight to Texas was scheduled for 4pm on the 23rd. I waited 30 minutes for the airport shuttle outside the graduate apartments and couldn’t help but notice the sadness I felt. I didn’t want to go home. I guess this feeling has been creeping up on me since I took that Research Associate position at the Center for Health Policy at Duke in 2006. Although intermittent, this sensation is strong enough that I’ve recognized its basis: as time goes on I become more and more removed from the life where I was born and raised. This place is home less and less. I didn’t want to leave my new home. I always figured if I wanted to do something of importance, something to help others I would need to help myself first and gain perspective. The obvious move was to move on, away, continue in a quest for education, learn what I could do and how. That’s what I liked about that job, I knew that the papers I wrote, programmed, published were making a difference in the medical community. Finishing up the M.A. there also helped in my endeavor to “grow” but not because of the coursework, more so because of the people I interacted with. I suppose if I make it out of the PhD program alive, I’ll continue in the research sector for this purpose; with pass rates what they are, that’s a big if though.

I enjoy most of my time in the Valley (due to family and friends) though I am constantly reminded of my distaste for this place. The majority of people here seem to live in a vaccum, unaware of what goes on in the world. This place reeks as an anachronism, although it does seem to be slowly catching up with the rest of the world.

The other day, while at a cousins house we heard a noise in the backyard. We saw two “thugs” snooping around, undoubtedly to steal something. My cousin, ever the hot head, went to get a weapon, I simply went outside. I calmly explained to them that there were consequences to such actions and that I would take personal offense if such actions were to occur at this place. I doubt they were educated, but I guess they had street-smarts, they left quickly. I supposed if they hadn’t I would have hurt them. I’m not prone to violence, I prefer it on TV and video games, but I sure don’t appreciate others hurting my family in any manner. When my cousin came out (with a fishing knife of all things), he asked what happened. I said they just left. After a few minutes of obscenities, I told him: “listen, it’s the valley, what do you expect”. Ultimately, this was a discriminatory remark – it’s not as if violence, thievery, etc doesn’t happen everywhere else, but I didn’t care.

I’ve kept my phone off for the overwhelming majority of my time here. Part of it is because I don’t want to meet up with old friends because some of these old friends smoke and I’m trying to steer clear of that. The other part is because I just don’t care to converse with anyone except exceptionally close family and friends. After the tragedy of the first semester of an econ phd (any one in econ will label it as such I believe) what would otherwise simply be a family visit feels like vacation. I read books that have been waiting to be read, watch movies that I missed out on, spend time with the few people I hold close (well, some of them). Life is pretty decent right now and yet, I can’t wait to return for the next semester. I feel madness creeping in every once in a while when I realize I don’t have some article or problem set to finish.

My grandfather died in 1999 after a long battle with prostate cancer just a few days before my birthday. This man was as much of a father to me as my father is. A month earlier the hospital had let him go home, as they do with most patients facing their end, to die. Since then, attendance to our family dinner on the 1st of every new year has been mandatory (it was implicitly optional before). This time around, one of my uncles put together a mosaic of video, photos, and spoken word of the last 5 years of my grandfather’s life. It was beautiful. I couldn’t help but remember how although the funeral was intended to be only a family affair, the funeral home overflowed with people paying their respects, saying goodbye. He lead a long life as a simple man, a barber, a father, uncle, and grandfather and it’s astonishing how many people he helped. How many homeless and downtrodden people he and my grandmother would feed or help in some other way despite their meager means.

The night ended with the telling of stories, his stories. These were primarily for the youngest of children who never got to know him but also for the rest of us, simply to remember.

I’m currently reading Kurt Vonnegut’s Timequake. As with most of his books, I like it but I can’t help but see it as a facsimile of Slaughter House Five. I’ll probably move on to David Foster Wallace’s Oblivion next. Among the many movies I’ve seen since arriving home, Wall-E has been the best. I’ve always been a fan of Disney/Pixar films and Hercules is still my favorite in that category but Wall-E is a very close second. How interesting, a film with few words (at least at the beginning), driven primarily by simple, human, expressions on a machine.

No Title

Posted in Uncategorized on October 22, 2008 by spiebocks

I had a macroeconomics exam this morning, tough, yes, surprisingly so. And, yes, finishing an exam last week to study for this exam and walking out of the exam today knowing I now have to study for next week’s exam is a bit stressing. But, it’s okay, I’ve had a moment of peace just now. Walking home with a classmate, discussing how disappointed we were about our performance (though the professor assured us we weren’t really meant to finish the exam) I couldn’t wait to get home and finish solving the questions. But, I got home and simply laid down. My mind didn’t haze over in lethargy but reached clarity with a rapid, sequential analysis of people I had interacted with (in some form) recently.

I recalled exchanging smiles with a young lady riding her bike to class up the hill behind my apartment complex and wondered where her mind was at. Was she challenging herself to a new personal best biking time up the acclivity? Worried about possibly leaving the stove on after breakfast this morning? Replaying events that unraveled the day, week, month before? Or just stuck in beautiful free association.

I recalled the man with a fast walking pace that didn’t bother waiting for the traffic lights to tell him “it’s okay to cross the street”. Why was he in such a hurry? A meeting, perhaps? Was he just trying to walk with a purpose because that’s how we should all walk (traveling aimlessly is for dreamers anyways)? Maybe he was caught in an idea and was keeping time the evolution of his thought process.

I don’t know the answers, but I know I haven’t bothered to concern myself with such thoughts for a few weeks now. I know, that as I thought of these people (and of others), as I thought of what drove them I left the self-prescribed calamity of Me and was at peace.

If a computer can be reformatted, have it’s system files changed, why can’t we