Friday, December 30, 2005

close your eyes girl, look inside girl, let the sound take you away

Rather than playing games tonight, my family watched 'Sahara'. That movie is absolutely hysterical. I know that my movie taste has been questionable, to say the least. It's reached almost a 'boy who cried wolf' status--now, I can say that a movie is fantastic, and people won't believe me until the movie wins half a dozen Oscars or something. But in this case, 'Sahara' is genuinely entertaining, and I don't even mean that it's entertaining in the way that I find 12-hour train rides across India entertaining, or broken fingers entertaining, or residents passing out in pools of their own vomit entertaining. This is entertaining in a purely amusing, well-balanced, happy kind of way, and it doesn't involve any pain at all. Maybe they won't win any Oscars--but Matthew McConaughey was named People Magazine's Sexiest Man Alive. And we all know who won that award in 1989, right? That's right, Sir Sean Connery. If that isn't impetus enough to see 'Sahara', I don't know what is.

Anyway, today we celebrated a belated Christmas with my father's side of the family. My grandmother made the Christmas lasagna, although I just realized that this was the first Christmas in my entire life, as far as I can remember, that we didn't have ribbon salad at some point during the week (for those of you not in the know, ribbon salad is three layers of Jello, and is v. tasty). After lasagna, we opened presents, which was fun. I got Julia Child's 'The Way to Cook', which should provide me with endless hours of entertainment in the kitchen. I also got a gorgeous pair of ruby earrings to match the necklace my aunt gave me for graduation a few years ago. My uncle gave me a commemorative Marine silver dollar, in honor of the fact that both of my grandfathers served in the Marines...but the importance of that was almost overwhelmed by the toy he gave me. I haven't gotten a bonafide toy in years, so it was perhaps more entertaining than it should have been. It's a hand-held thing that plays twenty questions with you--it asks twenty questions, and is able to correctly guess what you're thinking about the vast majority of the time. It's a shockingly good time!

I should go to bed now, though, since I'm going to Des Moines with Katie tomorrow. We're partaking in a bit of shopping (which we probably haven't done together since I visited her in New Orleans a couple of years ago), and then going to a big party thrown by one of the Des Moines radio stations. We're spending the night in the city as well, which will be fun. I realize today that this is the first New Years Eve that I will actually spend at a real party outside of my house with people my own age, so I hope to make the most of it.

That means that this is probably the last post of 2005. Happy new year, everyone! I'm sure that 2006 will bring even bigger and better things.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

she wears high heels when she exercises

I hung out with Katie today, which was delightful. It's fantastic to have a friend who has known me forever and with whom it is always the same--regardless of how long we have been separated (in this case, a year, and we didn't see each other all that much last Christmas either) or what has happened in the interval (I spent six months in India while she lost her apartment and her school in Hurricane Katrina), we still come back as though we were never parted.

Maybe it helps that we are driven to each other by our lack of other friendships in town; we were never quite the thing in high school, and our subsequent (childless) experiences make us less-than-normal when compared with our classmates. Anyway, she spent some time at my house this afternoon, and then we went to the library. There's nothing like some trashy romance novels to make my Christmas vacation complete, and so tonight I read the one that I picked up today. It was acceptable, but not great, and reminds me that I need to finish writing mine. I had a flash of inspiration regarding an upcoming plot twist in my novel, which made me realize that I need to slightly rework the geography surrounding MacCabe's Highland fortress--a reworking that shouldn't be a problem since the book is still in its relative infancy. After we hung out at the library, we went to the pizza place in town, where I had the first meal that didn't involve some form of Christmas leftovers since Christmas day. Not that I mind Christmas leftovers; quite the contrary, I love all of it and am sad to see them go. But, they must go, if only to make room for the veritable feast that we're having with Katie, her father, and our neighbors tomorrow night, followed by the belated Christmas lasagna with my grandmother on Friday. Mmmmm.

If only my hometown were filled with a dozen people who were like Katie, or my friends in California, I think that I could move home and be blissfully happy. Alas, that's not to be, so we will have to see where life takes me. Now, though, it should take me to bed, since I have to get up tomorrow (the horror!) and bake a lemon cake for tomorrow night's dessert. Goodnight!

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

you spin me right 'round, baby

I made borscht today! It was crazy how much the kitchen ended up smelling like Ukraine--and as the smells of cabbage, beets, and dillweed inundated the house, it became clear that none of us were exactly excited about eating the stuff that I was laboring over. Sigh. So my mother baked some potatoes and my father grilled some steaks, which I definitely enjoyed; this was my first non-ham meal since Christmas day, much to my secret chagrin. Despite my dread, the borscht was v. good, especially after the customary dollop of sour cream was added. The reaction of the rest of the family ranged from my father's relative enjoyment, to my mother's quiet resignation, to my brother's rebellion against all things traditional by adding cheese, crackers, and french onion dip. There's plenty left for the rest of you if you are interested, or I can offer up my borscht-making skillz when I get back to California. They may not be as useful as bo-staff skillz or computer-hacking skillz, but they will definitely sustain you through a long, harsh Russian winter.

The rest of the night was consumed with the broadcast of the Kennedy Center Honors on CBS (honoring, among others, Robert Redford and Tina Turner), the ten o'clock news, David Letterman, and the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. My trips home always catch me up on the latest offerings from CBS. In California, I never watch network television (or television of any kind, really, except for random crap on VH1 and the occasional episode of 'The Daily Show'). In Iowa, I never watch anything other than CBS. There's some good stuff on CBS these days--I liked 'Two and a Half Men', and all those 'CSI's, and 'Without a Trace', and 'Numbers' (think 'CSI' meets a hot, geeky math grad student), and 'How I Met Your Mother' (since I'm a sucker for Neil Patrick Harris). However, I'm really falling in love with Craig Ferguson. He took over for Craig Kilborn last year, but I hadn't watched him until this break--and now I can say that he's brilliant! He's Scottish, which is a huge plus, and he also does an extremely long fifteen-minute opening monologue which I find hysterical. It's too bad that he's on at 12:30am on the West Coast, since I need to start sleeping more. It's also too bad that I always forget that CBS exists when I go back to California, but TV isn't really good for me anyway, so perhaps it's for the best.

Monday, December 26, 2005

for all our mutual experience, our separate conclusions are the same

I was just as lazy today as one would expect me to be on vacation. I woke up around noon, watched the soaps until three (when I was driven away from the TV by the regularly-scheduled appearance of Dr. Phil), took a shower, went to the grocery store with my mother, and then came home and idled away the rest of the day. We're still working on that eighteen-pound ham that we had for Christmas dinner yesterday; luckily my mother froze most of it, so I may only have to have another two or three ham sandwiches before the refrigerated supply is gone. Actually, I adore ham sandwiches and could keep eating them for quite some time. Sadly for me, this will not be my fate--and sadly for my whole family, I am intent on making several dishes from the Russian cookbook that I got for Christmas. The trip to the grocery store was to procure ingredients for borscht (mmm, beets), pelmini (meat dumplings), and holubtsi (cabbage rolls). So, I expect to spend most of the day tomorrow cooking, with little or no expectation of reward at the end. As my father put it, borscht may never have been very good, but it was better than the fish-douche soup that we sometimes had in Ukraine. Pleasant, eh? I do like pelmini, though, so it should be good, although it's suddenly unclear to me why I'm putting in so much effort to make something that I only marginally like, when I now have easy access to all of the delicious foods of my youth that only the Midwest can produce. Regardless, I like cooking, and I like to irritate my brother (who does not seem overjoyed at the prospect of borscht), so tomorrow should be lovely.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

i ain't sayin' she's a golddigger

The Wampler family has arrived, once and for all, in the future. How do I know this? The old-school toothbrush that has been a stocking stuffer since the earliest days of my youth was replaced this year by a mechanical toothbrush. It was shocking...almost too shocking for nine a.m. I'm lucky that I didn't have a heart attack from the surprise, since that definitely would have ruined Christmas for the rest of my family.

Once I got over that early shock, the rest of my Christmas morning was fantastic. Since we had exchanged gifts with my sister and her family on Christmas Eve afternoon, it was just my parents, my brother and I all morning, which was rather peaceful. True to form, my first gift from my parents was a box of rocks; my brother got a box of dirt, while my mother got a box of sand. We had to open everything else before the meaning of these first gifts became clear. My brother and I got the traditional equal number of DVDs, although mine trended towards fun/independent ('Hero', 'Life Aquatics', 'Eternal Sunshine', etc.), while my brother's trended towards weird mishmash of eclectic tastes ('Aladdin', 'Stargate: Season 2', 'Oklahoma!', etc.). I also got a Russian cookbook from my parents (who liked mine so much that they bought another for themselves--I see borscht in my future) and an Indian cookbook from my brother. I'm betting that the Indian cookbook will help me to turn out a big mass of lentils to rival the kind folks at Lucky Dhaba. Things diverged a bit in the middle--while my brother got useful, manly things like vice grips (what are vice grips, anyway?), I got useful, womanly things like new jersey-knit sheets and a fantastic set of red earthenware bowls. Since I expressly requested both the bowls and the sheets (and since my brother also got casserole dishes), I can't really accuse my parents of blatant sexism.

We had a bit of fun in the middle with the presents that Michael and I gave our parents. Mine followed this year's Christmas theme of 'pass off souvenirs from India as Christmas presents', so I gave my father a couple of elephants and a box carved out of camel bone, while my mother got a velvet bedspread, some Christmas ornaments, and a Bohemian glass bowl (granted, not Indian, but the only thing that was destroyed in transit was my third gift for her, so I was desperate). Michael admittedly did much better than me in the parental gift department, though--he gave my mother the radio that was the only thing on her request list, and gave my father a railroad signal lamp that weighs about 300 pounds and almost killed him over the past couple of days as he wrestled it into and out of his warehouse by himself. Oh, well, I can give him a year of favorite-child status as I plot to steal it away from him.

The last gifts tied into the first gifts, as I expected. My box of rocks alluded to a beautiful white gold necklace and pair of earrings set with emeralds and diamonds, while my mother's sand foreshadowed the pearls that my father gave her. My brother's dirt actually came from part of his gift--the five city lots that border his warehouse. I don't know if 'city' is the right word for a town of six hundred people, but it gives him almost half a city block of his very own. He's a regular land mogul now, which is pretty impressive if you don't look at the real estate too hard :) I guess that means I should start buying property, since my status as a permanent renter is not going to help me retire anytime in the next fifty years.

After the last presents were unwrapped and we were all feeling the afterglow of giving and getting great presents, my grandmother came over for Christmas dinner. This was the first year that it has ever been just the five of us for Christmas dinner, which was a little weird, but it was still v. nice. For some completely unnecessary reason, we had *eighteen pounds* of ham for five people, which of course means that we'll be eating ham sandwiches for days. That's fine with me, since I love ham--but it's just funny that I will be seeing Katie for the first time in a year, and my mother will most likely be making ham and beans. Due to a series of unfortunate coincidences during my youth, Katie thinks that we eat ham and beans all the time, but we really only have once or twice a year at most. So, this year is not going to help me win the argument about our rate of ham and bean consumption :( After I was all filled up with ham and scalloped potatoes, I took a nap, then hung out with my family. Gram left late in the afternoon, and the four of us ended up playing 'Scotland Yard'.

'Scotland Yard' is this game from the 1980s that my family used to play before my sister took it to her house to establish her game collection. When I was in Qmart in Hyderabad one afternoon several months ago, I found several copies of it in the toy section, so I bought two--one for my brother for Christmas, and one for the family so that we could play it even if my brother took his away from us. It's a pretty good game, involving a map of London, a shady character called 'Mr. X', and a collaborative team effort to track down Mr. X using a combination of buses, taxis, and the Underground. It never became a major hit in the US, though, and has long been out of circulation (in fact, I've never met anyone else who has ever played it). However, it's apparently alive and well in India, since this copy was printed in 2005. It was made by some Indian company called Funskool, who clearly borrowed their logo from Playskool and all of their games and products from other Western toy companies. The game was almost identical to the game of yore, although the pieces were extremely ghetto--one color was supposed to be purple, but was actually a weird pink that my family christened 'nipple'. I really enjoyed the game; my father was Mr. X, but the rest of us managed to catch him before he escaped. I'm sure we have more games in store for us over the next few days, since we rarely seem to leave the house when I'm home.

Okay, this post was extremely long and boring, and I should go to bed. Merry Christmas, everyone! (and Happy Hannukah to those of you out there who are into that sort of thing :)

Friday, December 23, 2005

i hear the voices in my head, i swear to god it sounds like they're snoring...well if you're bored then you're boring

I just found out that Harvey Danger released a new album; not only did they release a 2-in-1 album that includes an entire second bonus CD, they also released a completely free version of the main CD on their website. If I were in California with my blazingly-fast cable internet connection (or my almost-speed-of-light internet connection at work), I would be tempted to download it right now; sadly, I will have to wait, since I don't have the patience for my parents' still-respectable DSL. Actually, I don't have a problem with the DSL and would be happy to do it, but that would require dragging out my laptop (and finally facing the music, so to speak, and discovering whether I destroyed it when I dropped it as I was packing on Wednesday) and finding my headphones, and I don't care *that* much about Harvey Danger. But, I loved 'Flagpole Sitta', as did everyone in my immediate family (actually, my mother's feelings about that song aren't entirely clear, but my father's enthusiasm makes up for it), so I think the album will be worth a try at a later date. Perhaps this can make up for the ignomious end of Eve 6, who churned out such classics as 'Open Road Song', 'Inside Out', and 'Think Twice' (which Walter ruined for me by positing that it was about a guy whose dirty girlfriend gave him an STD), before playing to a bored, unenthused group of Stanford students at a campus event on Wilbur Field and disappearing into oblivion. In case you couldn't follow those parenthetical comments, it was Eve 6 that disappeared into oblivion, not Walter. Of course, Pittsburgh is about as close as mortals are supposed to get to oblivion, so I guess that statement could apply equally to either the former rock band or my former roommate.

I arrived safely in Iowa yesterday afternoon. I was quite excited to get back to the land of pragmatic carnivores, especially since I was standing in the San Francisco airport at six a.m., waiting to board my flight, and I noticed the most horrifying thing *ever* in the carry-on of the woman standing in front of me. She, like me, had packed a light lunch for her trip. My light lunch was a turkey sandwich, which I threw away without eating because my parents took me out for lunch when I got to Des Moines (and at the restaurant, amusingly enough, I had a turkey sandwich). Her light lunch was clearly purchased at some relatively-upscale health store, and was labelled 'Tofetti Eggless Egg Salad'. Ewwwww!!!! I'm fine with vegetarians, despite my occasional ranting--but who on earth would think that 'eggless egg salad' is a good idea?! It's an unAmerican abomination, that's what it is. If you don't want to eat eggs, that's fine--cutting eggs out of your diet can improve your cholesterol, for instance, and if we all ate fewer eggs, we'd give more eggs a chance to grow up to become exploited chickens in giant corporate farms before turning magically into amazing barbecued foodstuffs. Mmm. But if you don't want to eat eggs, you should at least realize that you can't mimic the taste of egg salad with some shredded tofu and a bunch of mayonnaise. Also, the mayonnaise would clearly have to be fake as well, since mayo is made with eggs. Essentially, eggless egg salad is just a bunch of tofu and Miracle Whip--but since vegan yuppies are too good for Miracle Whip, I can't fathom what they must be using instead. All I can say is, that's completely and utterly disgusting. If vegans are willing to eat that, it makes sense why they get all upset when I'm eating a delicious prime rib--they must be so sad that I get to eat the real thing while they have to cover tofu in random sauces and pretend that it's a meal fit for human consumption.

Today, I finished wrapping the Christmas presents that I brought home with me, got caught up on 'As the World Turns' and 'Guiding Light' (my two favorite soaps from summer vacations past), ate a leisurely peanut-butter-sandwich-lunch with my mother, and went for a drive with my father. Tomorrow is Christmas Eve and my sister and her kids are coming over; that means that I should have been in bed awhile ago, since I'll have to get up relatively early and shower before they arrive. And in approximately thirty hours, it's Christmas morning! I may not be a child anymore, and I may grumble when I get rolled out of bed to open presents at eight a.m., but I'm still excited about it anyway. Merry Christmas Eve, everyone!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

too many people forget what christmas is all about--except linus

I'm tired and need to go to bed soon, since I have to leave for the airport by five a.m. at the latest. Claudia is being a complete winner and taking me to the airport, and Terry is being a complete winner by coming along for the ride. I don't know what's wrong with either of them, but I'm extremely happy that they're so insane. Today was just a normal day at the office--I had some meetings, did some work, and had lunch with Vidya and Claudia. Nothing is better than free lunch, except for when Claudia and I make tasty drinks afterward. I've gotten quite adept at using the espresso machine at work, and I make a mean mocha, while Claudia has discovered that the work refrigerator also stocks chai tea mix. So, we made drinks and hung out in the lobby after Vidya went back to her job, and generally had a good ol' time. I got back tonight and packed up for my trip home, then watched 'Once Upon a Time in Mexico' w/my roommates. I absolutely adore that movie, especially since Johnny Depp was given free rein to be completely and utterly insane.

There isn't time to think about the wonderfulness of Johnny Depp, though; nor is there time to ask you if you're a 'MexiCAN' or a 'MexiCAN'T'. It's only four days to Christmas, and I'm getting on a plane in six and a half hours!! Goodbye California, hello boondocks. It's going to rock :)

it ain't really that hard to do...i ain't tryin' to be in love with you

Today was a really great day. I actually did a significant amount of work today, which felt really good. I had lunch with some of the expats from India; I've really missed the cameraderie of the expat group, and our lunch date felt like we were reclaiming it, if only for an hour. I left work around five so that I could clean up the apartment a bit. Faced with the complete disaster that is our living room, I gave up almost immediately. John came down from Berkeley, and he, Claudia, and I had dinner at Mango Cafe in Palo Alto. It was the first time that I'd seen him since that memorable evening at Lucky Dhaba almost two months ago, so it's fitting that the restaurant wasn't one of my favorites :) Mango Cafe definitely isn't a bad place, and the food was 'aiite', as Vidya would say, but it was slightly too reminiscent of Indian food, what with the roti bread and the chickpeas, and so I wasn't in the right mood for it. Also, allow me to say that Mango Cafe in Palo Alto may look like one of the city's less well-decorated restaurants, but it's a huge step sideways from the Mango Tree restaurant in Hampi, India. I can't really say that one restaurant is better or worse than the other, but they occupy completely different planes of space, time, and taste. Mango Cafe is a Jamaican restaurant where you can eat anything and drink the water without worrying about getting typhoid. Mango Tree is a cafe actually set up under a mango tree on the banks of a river outside of Hampi; we thought we were going to get killed there when our driver took us to a complete dead end after driving miles across a bumpy dirt road, then told us to get out and walk a quarter of a mile up this small, wooded path that seemed to be straight out of 'The Jungle Book'. The restaurant ended up being at the end of the path, in the middle of nowhere, and they served the best Chinese-style noodles that I had anywhere in India. Crazy! Overall, I preferred the Mango Tree to the Mango Cafe, even though Mango Tree is in an area we lovingly christened 'the killing fields', while Mango Cafe is in a highly respectable neighborhood in one of the most expensive areas of the United States.

Anyway, enough about that. We came back to our place and hung out for awhile; then, Vidya, Sri, and Adit showed up to partake of the banana bread that Claudia baked for dessert. It was extremely tasty, and the company was swell. Hanging out with friends is lovely, especially when those friends are being subjected to the smelliest cheese ever created. John brought me some tete du moine (aka 'head of the monk'), which we had occasionally bought and savored during college; we both really like it, but it was apparently appalling to virtually everyone else there. Vidya almost threw up after she tried to eat most of her piece in one bite (it's only good when eaten v. slowly), and Sri was quite unhappy that his fingers reeked of tete du moine. I sent half of it back home with John, since there's no way I can eat it all by myself; the rest of it is triple-wrapped with Saran wrap and enclosed in a sealed Ziploc bag in the refrigerator, in hopes that it will not destroy the delicate atmosphere of the apartment over Christmas. Mmm, cheese.

It's really hard to believe that I've known Adit, Claudia, and John for over six years. Sometimes I feel like I've changed a lot in those six years, and other times I feel like I haven't changed at all. Tonight was one of those 'haven't changed at all' nights, but at the same time we all have changed in subtle and sometimes unexpected ways. Luckily those changes haven't rendered friendship impossible; regardless of how long I go without seeing my core group of friends, that bond is still there. That's an extremely comforting thought, even if I don't necessarily want to put those bonds to the test.

Monday, December 19, 2005

it must be your skin 'cause i'm sinking in...it must be for real 'cause now i can feel.

I actually accomplished things at work today (gasp!). I also saw Lauren, aka Subz, who returned from the Hyderabad office today. Even though our time together was brief, since I had an appointment until 11:30 and she had to leave at 12 to wait for the Comcast guy, it was fantastic to see her. I've really missed the expat group, the people in the Hyderabad office, and India in general, and so it was nice to see someone who was an integral part of that experience. I'm really looking forward to the annual conference in January, since I'll see even more of the expats--and I'm rooming with Arod, who I miss tremendously. I'm getting over the fact that I'm no longer in India, but that doesn't mean that I don't wish that all the people I loved there were back here with me.

After work, I had an unplanned dinner with Can; since this was the second time in two days that he IM'd me and referenced the fact that he would have to eat ramen alone in Shedletsky's apartment if no one took him out to dinner, I decided to hang out with him. It was really nice. We went to the Italian place on California Ave. that Shedletsky likes, and dinner was tasty. I never spend much time with Can on his own, and he's much less ADD-ish when he's only with one other person, so we actually had a sustained, semi-intelligble conversation. Amazing! I dropped him off and randomly decided to drive up into the hills. I spent the next hour or so driving fast through the curves and inclines of the foothills, cruising along Skyline and admiring the brief glimpses of civilization glittering under the haze-covered moon. My stereo was pumping out 'Sixteen Stone', Bush's seminal CD, and my sunroof was open and the windows were down. There's nothing more cleansing and soothing than speeding alone in the relative wilderness. I got home in time to hang out briefly with Claudius, and now it's time to sleep. Christmas is in less than six days! Yay!

life went on beyond the palisades

I got up this morning in time to have breakfast with Terry at ten a.m.; it's crazy how getting up two hours earlier than usual on a Sunday can make the entire day seem endless. I wonder how much I would accomplish on weekends if I didn't spend half my time in bed? It's a rather academic question, since I can't imagine myself waking up voluntarily. It usually takes some extreme duress to get me out of bed on weekends before eleven, and I would rather sleep until noon. Anyway, breakfast was great. After breakfast, I spent a significant amount of time on the phone with my parents. Most of that conversation time was while I was pacing in a circle at the Stanford mall--the best was when I said 'I love you' to my mother just as I looked up and made extremely awkward eye contact with a security guard. Yay for unintentionally declaring my feelings for rent-a-cops.

My father was apparently quite annoyed about my recent post regarding my newfound desire to avoid having children; as I mentioned after seeing 'The Squid and the Whale', I decided that it's far too easy to fuck up your kids. My father told me today that he had invested twenty-four years in messing me up, and that it took a lot of hard work and effort to get me to the fucked-up state that I'm in. So, I'd like to publicly apologize to him for not acknowledging how much effort he has put into ensuring that I turn out completely insane.

I spent some time browsing at the mall; I didn't find what I went for (zip ties for my luggage), but I did find four sweaters at the Gap that were rather unnecessary. However, they were also on a v. good sale, so I can't regret them. After the mall, I came home and threw away two garbage bags full of stuff. Purging shall continue as time permits this week, although I doubt that I'll make significant progress before I leave for Iowa on Thursday. Hopefully I shall accomplish some stuff at work this week so that I can leave for vacation without guilt. The new year will likely bring new projects, and so I'm reveling in my relative freedom while I still can--but there are things that should be done despite this, and it would be a good idea to wrap them up now, before things get crazy again.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

i'm wasting time when i think about it...i should have drove all night, would've run all the lights

It's been raining all day, which makes everything a bit dreary. Terry, Claudia and I went to San Francisco to do some shopping (or, in my case, window-shopping, since I'm done with all of my Christmas shopping and am trying to refrain from adding to my 60+ pair shoe collection or my overflowing closets). I definitely have a love/hate relationship with the city. There are things that would be lovely about living there, such as being able to find restaurants within walking distance of my apartment, or being able to go out without having to worry about driving home. However, there are things that absolutely suck about it, such as the endless traffic, the utter lack of easy parking, and the fact that an already-difficult driving situation becomes completely intolerable when it's raining. The drive home was a little nervewracking because it was already dark and the rain was particularly heavy, compounded with a nasty, soupy fog that added an element of risk to the endeavor. We made it home safely, and tonight, at least, I am happy that I live in staid, boring Menlo Park rather than amongst the 'glamour' of the city.

We watched 'The 40-Year-Old Virgin' tonight, and I must say that the final scene, involving a trippy rendition of 'The Age of Aquarius', was absolutely hysterical. Unfortunately, I think that the rain did not put me in the mood for comedy, but I'm sure this feeling will pass. I think I will try to make it pass faster by sleeping it off.

One last thing, though--seafood chowder rocks. Claudia and I each had a bowl of it at a cafe we stopped at near Union Square, and it was absolutely delicious. I think it really is a toss-up if I'm forced to judge the relative merits of beef and seafood. They are both so tasty, but one requires me to be in the mood for blood, while the other one requires a desire for a slightly more delicate and saltier flavor. Either way, it's impossible to lose with them, and I'm so happy that I've had both in abundance since getting back from India. Mmmmm. [sorry to Vidya and all other vegetarians for being excited by eating recently-slaughtered animal flesh, but it's so freaking tasty that I can't help myself]

Saturday, December 17, 2005

in a house where regret is a carousel ride

Vidya's birthday is on Sunday (as is my mother's--wish Jeanie-baby a happy birthday!), and Adit planned a surprise birthday dinner for her tonight. I didn't really want to go anymore, since I was feeling rather unwell all day, and Claudia wasn't really feeling the going-out vibe either, so we were v. tempted to skip it. However, Adit called me at four to ask if I could be 'in charge' at the restaurant and coordinate with the waitstaff, since he would be with Vidya and arriving late. I reluctantly agreed. I knew exactly why he picked me--I can be trusted to show up someplace on time and also to deal with the restaurant workers without pissing them off. That took some doing, since they were holding a table for sixteen and no one else appeared to be showing up. The funny thing about putting me in charge was that of all the people invited to the dinner, I only knew a few of them, and so Claudia and I had to keep asking people when they walked in if they were friends with Vidya. It was super awkward!

Anyway, dinner was really nice--we had Italian food in downtown Palo Alto, and the company was excellent. It's funny that the main reason why I thought that the company was excellent was because most of the people I didn't know didn't show up; while I should have been sad for Vidya's sake that those people were busy, my self-interested side was gleeful, to say the least. Adit, Sri, Vidya, Claudia, Renee, Steph, and I had a great time, and I quite enjoyed meeting the two guys who were sitting at my end of the table.

I don't have any major plans yet for the weekend, but I suppose I should pack for my upcoming trip home. I *hate* packing--and it always seems like just as I have everything organized again after my last trip, I have to pick up and make another one. Oh, well. My brother kindly offered me the use of his warehouse as a receptacle for all the stuff I'm purging, so I may take some stuff back to him and let him decide what he wants to do with it. Now, though, I need to sleep before my exhausted mind gives away everything I own.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

my baby's got a secret

Tonight was great--some of my friends at work have a holiday gift-exchange tradition, and this year we decided to exchange gifts over dinner at Lizzie's house, rather than over a rushed lunch during the workday. Since most of the people involved (well, everyone except me) has a horribly hectic schedule right now, no one really had time yesterday or today to cook, so it was a take-out potluck. This worked for me as well, since I couldn't leave work very early and so was able to skip making a casserole and take a pizza instead. Anyway, it was really nice; I got a Christmasy book that I'm looking forward to reading on the plane, and I gave Lizzie a fiber-optic bonsai tree that I found on eBay so that she will give me back the fiber-optic bonsai tree that she was babysitting while I was in India. She has refused to give back my bonsai tree, but I found a completely identical one to replace it with, so we're both happy.

It's hard to believe that this is my third Christmas at my current job. When I started a little over two years ago, I'd only been out of college for three months, and I intended to apply to grad school and go the following year. My, how times change. Since graduation, I've lived in eight different places (Phi Sig, Walter's room, Adit's room, that condo in Palo Alto w/the random craigslist roommates, the sketchy MV apartment with Walter, my current condo in Menlo Park, and two different apartments in Hyderabad) and two different hemispheres. No wonder I hate moving so much. And every time I move, I accumulate even more stuff, since each move has given me slightly more space which I promptly fill with more ridiculous possessions. I think that I'm going to have to do a slow, massive purge of my room. I may move at glacial speed when I try to dispose of things, but I need to harness the power of the glacier to sweep everything away.

Anyway, that's life. Tomorrow I don't have an early conference call, which means that I can sleep in a little, and that's v. exciting. Even better, a week from now I will be in Iowa! Of course, it will be completely frigid there and I will be on the brink of hypothermia, but it will still be nice. It would completely rock if I got to go sledding while I was home, but I haven't had a truly white Christmas in awhile, so I don't know if it will happen this year. However, my chances of having a white Christmas in Iowa are significantly higher than the odds in the Bay Area, so I'm hoping that will work out in my favor.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

family time

I had a meeting at work at nine a.m., which I was unhappy about, but I only had myself to blame since I scheduled it. It was more than compensated for by a free massage from six to seven p.m.; I was supposed to get a free massage from work for my birthday, but since I wasn't here for my birthday, I requested to use my birthday massage today instead. It was super relaxing, despite the fact that the soundtrack switched from standard world music and/or waterfalls to some woman's voice periodically asking me to envision myself in a meadow, under a starry night sky. I'm willing to bet that she's never been in a meadow under a starry night sky, but I could be wrong. Anyway, I had the massage, then went to the gym, then came home a little before nine and had some leftover vegetarian chili.

Thus, it should come as no surprise that when Adit dropped by unannounced at ten p.m., he took one look at the state of affairs in the apartment and pronounced that we were in a local minima. This term, related to search theory in computer science, implies that we are in the lowest possible point in the general vicinity, although it remains to be determined (via repeated random searching) whether or not this is in fact the lowest point on the map. In general, I hate it when he pronounces that I'm in a local minima; usually he's right, and being told that I'm in a local minima doesn't exactly help matters. Luckily, this wasn't as bad as the first time he did it (when I was alone in my room on a Saturday night of my senior year, drinking a Baileys and flipping through a Victoria's Secret catalogue, and truly was in a local minima). Today, I was actually pretty chipper, despite the continued uncertainty about my future, and despite the rather crunchy-Californian taint involved with going to a gym and eating vegetarian food. So, I was able to take this pronouncement in stride, and I enjoyed experiencing 'family time' for the first time. While I was in India and Adit was subletting my room, he would occasionally coerce Claudius and Terry into having 'family time', and I was sad that I had missed out. This gave me a taste of what I missed, and it was delightful.

Now, though, I should go to bed--I have a conference call at 7:30am, which is in less than eight hours. By this time next week, I should know what's going on with my career. If not, I can stop thinking about it while I'm chilling (or just chilled) in Iowa. Either way, next week should be fun.

Monday, December 12, 2005

not artificial because that makes it hard to miss you

Today involved v. little work, and that wasn't entirely my fault. I had a doctor's appointment this morning; that blood test that I had last week (before the hepatitis booster and the tuberculosis test) came back, and the good news is that almost everything is perfect. The only non-perfect thing is my cholesterol, which I suppose is to be expected since most of my family has high cholesterol and all of my favorite foods used to be capable of locomotion--and the tastier they are, the more cholesterol they have. It's such a tragedy. I suppose that means that I would be tasty if I were killed, which provides me with some strange measure of comfort. So for the most part, I tried to be healthy today; I had fish for lunch and I made a surprisingly-delicious vegetarian chili tonight, so that was all good. The problem was that my team at work had a cookie exchange. Under the rules of the cookie exchange, everyone brings several dozen cookies, and then we all take two or three of everyone else's cookies. This is great in theory. In practice, however, I usually get screwed. I make awesome cookies--my chocolate chip chewies rival my grandmother's, and the undeniable lure of their siren's call makes them a dangerous fourth roommate in my apartment. Claudia, Terry and I can easily go through an entire pan in a couple of days, and we all feel rather disgusting about it, but we're like crack addicts when it comes to chocolate chip chewies. Clearly I can't consume them during pregnancy or else my child will come out with all the symptoms of fetal alcohol syndrome and I'll lose the kid.

Anyway, cookie exchanges are bad news for me. Most people end up bringing store-bought cookies because they forgot to bake. Alternatively, the only time they bake all year is during the cookie exchange, and so their cookies aren't quite right (or are horribly wrong). There were several batches of cookies that were very tasty, but it didn't seem fair that I had to trade two batches of chocolate chip chewies for a weird assortment of storebought cookies and not-quite-right attempts at culinary mastery. Oh, well, I didn't want to eat the cookies anyway, so Claude is pawning them off on her coworkers tomorrow.

So back to work. The doctor's appointment was this morning, and I didn't make it to the office until 11:30. As I was getting on the freeway, I remembered that my cookies were still in my kitchen, which was frustrating. I went to work anyway since I was only five minutes from my office, and did some stuff until my one-on-one with my manager. Then, I had a quick lunch and drove home to pick up the cookies. I made it back in time for the cookie exchange, proceeded to exchange cookies, and then worked for a couple of hours until it was time to go home. At home, I watched the original 'Willy Wonka' on TV while eating my vegetarian chili. I also got a quick and entertaining call from Katie, who has a final tomorrow morning and so took out her frustration on me by reminding me of some particularly unsavory visuals stemming from those halcyon days at the convenience store in high school. Ew! Now, with visions of some disgusting woman's fat, sagging, naked breast hanging out of the side of her wifebeater while she scratches off a lottery ticket indelibly scrawled across my consciousness, I think I'll go to bed. It's like that Kafka story 'In the Penal Colony', where the method of punishment/execution is to use needles to carve words related to the prisoner's crime into his flesh--whenever I think I've forgotten that awful memory, Katie calls me up and reminds me, making the blood of my horror run anew. Thanks Katie! You're the best, and I hope that you get the grade you deserve on your final :)

Sunday, December 11, 2005

how's it gonna be when you don't know me

After Friday's rather depressing thoughts about the likelihood of one's dreams becoming reality, the rest of the weekend was comparatively fantastic. I slept for about eleven hours on Friday night, and awoke Saturday morning to discover that Claudia was experiencing the same dim sum craving that I was. So, we drove up to Millbrae and had a leisurely brunch; while we didn't have the traditional har gar (shrimp dumpling), we did have barbecue pork buns, shimp and pork in bean curd (not the deep-fried kind, the equally-tasty savory kind), rice noodle with shrimp, deep-fried shrimp with mayonnaise, and egg custard buns. Mmmmmm. While I haven't been going to the Hong Kong Flower Lounge every week like we used to, I still absolutely adore it, and it's something that I would definitely miss if I ever moved anywhere else.

After dim sum, I hung around the apartment, showered, and then went out for the evening with Vidya. Earlier in the week, she had asked if I wanted to see a comedy show in SF; I surprised both of us by saying yes, since I usually don't agree to any plans that are remotely acceptable for a mature 24-year-old. But, I decided to give the maturity thing a chance--and I was apparently the only one who felt this way, since no one else accepted Vidya's invitation. We went up early and had dinner in Chinatown; the food was only average (especially after the glorious dim sum earlier in the day), but the waitress was absolutely insane, which more than made up for the food. The comedy show itself was entertaining. Vidya became convinced that I should marry the warm-up comedian; he's only 5'7", which is shorter than I usually go for, but he was absolutely hilarious. He was also straight, which is a definite advantage, unlike the headliner. The main comedian was v. funny, and it was clear that he's a professional comedian--his sense of timing was perfect, and his act was much more polished than the openers. Anyway, Vidya and I had a great time, and I was glad that I'd made plans rather than just hanging out in my apartment.

Today, I had brunch with Tammy, Shedletsky, and Claudia; we went to Hobees, and were most unfortunately seated near the children's play area. This didn't bother us at all, but I'm sure there were some parents who would have preferred if their kids couldn't overhear our conversation. After brunch, I put together this closet organizer thingie (to help enforce order on my sixty-pair shoe collection), and then got coffee with Claude. I was a good daughter and talked to my parents while drinking my cappuccino; then, I was a good roommate and baked chocholate chip chewies. They are so freaking addicting, and v. easy to make--they allow for indulgence in both sloth and gluttony, which makes them about as sinful as a cookie can be.

I spent the rest of the evening organizing the dozens of bangles that I got in India, cleaning my bathroom, and watching part of 'The Two Towers'. Tammy--I can't help it that we watched part of 'The Two Towers'; it happened to be on TBS, and Terry left it there after flipping through the channels several times. I do feel that it's slightly socially unacceptable that I know so many of the scenes from a 'Lord of the Rings' movie almost by heart, but I can't help it. At least it hasn't reached the point where I play live-action roleplaying games or Magic: The Gathering. With any luck, I can avoid that dire fate.

Friday, December 09, 2005

all my instincts, they return--the grand facade so soon will burn

The past thirty-six hours have been rather unfortunate. After a call with one of my former managers at eight a.m. yesterday, I was encouraged to participate in another conference call today. Unfortunately, that call was scheduled for seven a.m. Even more unfortunately, I had already committed to seeing 'Capote' with Tammy and Vidya at 10pm last night. For those of you who didn't do the math, that means that I didn't go to bed until almost one, and had to wake up at 6:15 a.m. so that I could make it to the office in time to do the conference call. How lame is that the latest night I've planned in awhile perfectly coincided with the earliest meeting I've had in at least three months?

The good news, I guess, is that I don't have tuberculosis--and I was so looking forward to weakly coughing blood into my handkerchief, my translucent skin gleaming with ethereal beauty as I valiantly struggled to write one final novel before my death. Sigh. My only hope now is that a) bird flu will spread to humans, b) I will survive it, and c) it will miraculously make my skin translucent and ethereal. I somehow doubt that this chain of events will occur, but I remain hopeful.

I don't think I deserve to be hopeful, though, since I actually quoted Peter Gabriel in my post's title. Ew. I guess that's the price I pay for being so tired--it's not even eleven yet, and it's a Friday to boot, but I'm going to go to sleep after I finish this. I feel like my life needs a change, since I'm not really satisfied by much of anything right now, but any change that will come at work, at least, won't happen until after Christmas. And any change that I want to make in my personal life won't happen because I'm in too avoidant of a mood to actually settle things.

Despite the lack of sleep, work was good today. I had lunch with Alaska Matt, and while most of the conversation was work-related, it was still nice to see him. When I got home, Terry, Claudia and I decided to go out for dinner; Jackie met us out, and the four of us had a good time. We went to the Italian restaurant on California Ave. that Shedletsky likes to go to--despite his deplorable fashion sense, the kid has excellent taste in food. I had clams, which I love; one would think that, since I grew up in a completely landlocked county in the backwoods of nowhere, I wouldn't really like any kind of aquatic creatures, but I think they're the tastiest things in the world.

After dinner, we stopped briefly at the used bookstore next door, where I picked up some Agatha Christie novels. I browsed briefly through the publishing self-help section, and then realized how inherently sad it is to buy a second-hand book about getting one's novel published. All of those second-hand books were once owned by someone else, and the fact that they are sitting, dusty and forlorn, in the back of a dusty and forlorn used-bookstore echoes the lost dreams of their previous owners. When one sells or donates a book on getting one's novel published, that's essentially the end of the line--the place that we all reach occasionally when we realize that something we wanted to do very much will never really happen. It was that loss of innocence, that resignation (which some would call pragmatism) about one's fate that really bothered me. I left them on the shelf, so that my already-precarious dreams would not become infected by the same soul-rot that killed those earlier dreamers.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

stop...hobbit time!

Claudius and I really think that MC Hammer should have made a song called 'Hobbit Time'. The music video could have featured him wearing a cloak, and a bunch of midgets wearing Hammer pants. How hot would that be?!

The lasagna turned out v. well--the guesswork involved worked out perfectly. I'm happy to know that I can pass on the tradition of Christmas lasagna to my grandchildren without embarrassing the memory of delicious lasagnas of Christmas past. I had some of the 'drunk freshmen' over for dinner (Tom, Rat, Greg, Rachel, Julie, and Tommy), and it was great to see them. We reminisced about the more ridiculous happenings of their freshman year, discussed the present and the future, and generally had a v. good time. It's hard to believe that they're seniors now--and with their graduation, the last class of Stanford students whom I went to school with will have graduated. Scary!

Today was rough for my left arm. This morning, I had a blood test. A couple of hours later, I went to the doctor at work for the second half of my hepatitis vaccine. The benefit of the second vaccine is that I'm now immune for years, if not a lifetime. The drawback is that I have now successfully isolate which of the three shots that I got last spring caused pain and swelling in my arm--it was the hepatitis vaccine! Let's hope that it's not also the vaccine that caused the fever and vomiting. Then, to top it off, I was chatting with the doctor about how much fun I had in India, and she remembered that she needed to test me for tuberculosis. She said that several people who have returned from Hyderabad have tested positive for TB, and so they're now screening everyone. I should know by Friday if I have it, so I can't wait for that!

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

it's the time to disco

I have this Indian song, 'It's the Time to Disco', stuck in my head with no hope of reprieve. Vidya classified this song as a 'jhoke' when I told her that it was stuck in my head, but I can't help it. It has the strangest combination of musical devices--the main melodic hook is heartwrenching, but the English half of the lyrics make no sense, and I would imagine that the Hindi lyrics are equally laughable.

Anyway, nothing exciting happened at work; after work, I made a list of groceries and procured a bunch of stuff at the grocery store. For dinner, I made pizza bread--it turned out v. tasty, which is good, since I made up several packets of toppings to freeze for future use. Now, the freezer has a whole bunch of sandwich bags filled with green peppers, onions, and black olives (for quesadillas), and a similar bunch of sandwich bags filled with red peppers, green peppers, and mushrooms (for pizza bread). Clearly they are virtually interchangeable, but I like to create subtle but rigid boundaries in my tastes and desires, so this fits my personality quite nicely.

After eating supper, I made up a pan of lasagna for tomorrow night (which reminds me of when my aunt used to say 'pan of lasagna' instead of 'do svedanya' [meaning goodbye] when we lived in Ukraine). This necessitated a quick phonecall to my grandmother, who makes the best lasagna in the world. Unfortunately, like all 'best in the world' recipes, she's never bothered to write it down, and so it involved a lot of guesswork on my part to make sure that it came out right. Anytime someone says 'put in 1/4 to 1/2 cup' of an ingredient and then says that you'll know when it's right clearly has spent way too many years making something. Also, I won't necessarily know when it's right, since I've only seen a yearly pan of fully-cooked Christmas lasagna, and not the uncooked intermediate steps. But, despite my concern, it *did* look right in the pan when I finished. Now it's sitting in the fridge, and I'll just have to pop it in the oven tomorrow, make garlic bread and a quick salad, and dinner will be ready. Yay. If it's truly terrible, I'll make pizza bread and quesadillas instead :)

It may be the time to disco, but it's also the time to sleep if I have any hopes of getting anything done tomorrow. It will also soon be the time to finish my Christmas shopping, and it is way past the time to clean my room. Luckily I have some incentive, since I have former roommates and expats from India arriving over the next few months and I'd like to have them over for dinner. When they do show up for dinner, I would be embarrassed to have them discover that I live in squalor--it's bad enough that I don't have marble floors, servants, and rats. But, we shall save the cleaning for another day.

Monday, December 05, 2005

is someone getting the best of you?

Despite my advanced age, I continue to behave similarly to my college experience; last night, for instance, I should have embraced the chance to sleep, but instead I stayed up until four a.m. reading a romance novel ('Nobody's Baby But Mine', a classic about a brainy physicist who decides to seduce a pro football player in the hopes that his stupidity will give her a child of average intelligence...never guessing that he graduated summa cum laude w/a degree in biology, or that he will force her to marry him so that his child won't be illegitimate). The stupid this about this is that I've read it a dozen times, and so clearly didn't need to stay up to figure out the ending. I slept until noon today as a result, and only got up because Tammy and I had a date to see 'The Squid and the Whale'. I really liked the movie. However, it made me think that I should never have kids, because it's just so easy to screw them up. Granted, I think the first step is to make sure that you don't marry a pretentious, heartless snob--then you're less likely to end up sleeping with your child's tennis coach and divorcing the lackluster husband.

Anyway, after that I baked a whole bunch of cookies, taking occasional (or rather, frequent) breaks to watch the marathon rerun of 'America's Next Top Model'. Then I went briefly to a birthday party for Roopa, whom I barely know but like immensely; there, I saw Vidya, who was looking quite lovely, but I didn't have time to stay there and try to lure her into my bed. Instead, I went to latenight w/Can, Shedletsky, Tammy, Joanna, Doug, and Curt. It was great fun, especially since I got to eat chicken strips o' fire, and the head dining hall guy still recognizes me even though I graduated two and a half years ago. Perhaps that's an indication that I should stop going to campus.

I would write more, but I'm insanely tired and I actually have stuff to accomplish this week. Yay for productivity!

Saturday, December 03, 2005

libertarian masculinity

No, that's not a song lyric, so don't bother googling it [editor's note: this post also turned surprisingly serious as I wrote it, so skip if you're only looking for tales of my exploits]

I was looking at my facebook.com profile, and it allows you to click on things in your own profile to find other people who have claimed the same interest. Under 'political views', one is allowed eight choices: very liberal, liberal, moderate, conservative, very conservative, libertarian, and other. I consider myself libertarian. Here's the definition, from dictionary.com:

lib·er·tar·i·an (lĭb'ər-târ'ē-ən) pronunciation
n.

1. One who advocates maximizing individual rights and minimizing the role of the state.
2. One who believes in free will.

Of course, I don't vote for libertarians because they'll never get elected (ah, the irony), so instead I'm forced to choose between Republicans (whose religious overtones I find increasingly abhorrent--interference of religion in government directly contradicts the 'individual freedoms' and 'minimal government involvement' that formed the original laissez-faire tenets of the party) and the Democrats (whose weak, ineffectual leadership both derives from and continues to fuel a mistaken belief that increased government programs and bureaucracy-driven 'aid' to those in need will solve the world's problems). Neither party really does anything right: case in point, FEMA was completely incapable of coordinating a cohesive response to Katrina, and the Administration bears a lot of blame for that, but it was a Democrat (Carter) who created the agency in the first place, and in most cases the bureaucracy functions much as it always has regardless of which cronyist figurehead leads it.

So anyway, that's really not the point at all. The point is that I am a libertarian in spirit and personal conviction, even if most of the candidates who run under the libertarian banner are unelectable clowns. And, given that Stanford has a high number of people on facebook.com (for those of you not in the know, it's a social-networking site much like friendster, but only for colleges and high schools), I would have expected to find quite a few libertarians when I clicked the 'libertarian' link.

The results? Only 194 libertarians among all Stanford students and alumni who registeredsterd for facebook. By comparison, 'very liberal', 'liberal', 'moderate', and 'conservative' all turned up the max of more than 500; I couldn't find anyone amongst my friends who consider themselves 'very conservative' or 'apathetic', so I couldn't click on those groups. Then, as I was looking down the list of people, I noticed that it seemed to be a complete sausage-fest--the libertarians at Stanford are overwhelmingly male. Since I'm procrastinating from doing my laundry, I did a manual count. Only thirty-seven of the 194 libertarians at Stanford are women, including myself. That works out to about 19%.

So, does this explain my typical lack of success with men? I'm not the traditional 'hug a kitten and cry about the homeless' liberal girl with a heart of gold; nor am I the equally traditional cross-wearing, evangelical conservative on a mission to save humanity whilst engaging in letter-writing campaigns against licentious television programs and popping out new little Christians every couple of years. Instead, I believe very firmly in live-and-let-live. I'm perfectly willing to listen to your problems, but don't expect me to share mine. I don't care what religion you practice, what your sexuality is, what drugs you take, or what you do behind closed doors as long as you're not abusing your kids, shooting up your office, or expecting others to pay for all the teeth you lost because you did too much meth. I'm hugely supportive of educational subsidies, improving schools, giving children every chance of success, whether it is in academics, sports, music, art, or vocational trade, rehabilitating criminals, and offering drug rehab programs and work-skills training to down-and-outers who want to change their lives, but there comes a point where any healthy, sane adult has to either take care of themselves or face evolution at its most merciless.

The Republicans and Democrats both, over the course of the last century, have drifted more and more away from a utilitarian approach to government [not that the government has ever been truly utilitarian, unless perhaps you were white], and rather than providing the greatest good to the greatest multitude, both tend to focus extravagant resources on pet projects, whether it is farm subsidies or anti-abortion school programs or midnight basketball or the war in Iraq or whatever. I personally think that this stems in large part from women's suffrage; the tide began to turn with Prohibition in the twenties (wildly unpopular pet project if there ever was one), and rose to epic levels after the further emancipation of women during World War II and the entrance of most women into the workforce during and after the war. This is *not* to say that women are any more likely than men to be wishy-washy and soft. Instead, think about this from a politician's viewpoint: if you know that half of your voting populace is female, and you think you know that they will be turned off by anything that smacks of good-old-boy laissez-faire economics, you will naturally move more and more of your energies into dubious social programs. And most women, armed with the belief that many men prefer soft, accessible, deferential wives, will willingly support this focus on social programs and 'the home', rather than on foreign affairs and economics and other 'difficult' problems that they must pretend to be dumber than their husbands about. So, whether the woman cries, 'oh, the children! let's clothe them' or 'oh, the children! let's convert them', the end message is the same: focus on social programs and a top-down, hysteria-driven, reactionary approach to current events, rather than a long-term, steady, rational plan for the continued growth of our nation, our people, and the world at large.

So, I'm not afraid to say that I'm a libertarian. The one downside is that most of those girls were a little ugly. But, it's probably the hatchet-faced girls (like the hatchet-wielding Carrie Nation) who have the least to lose by failing to conform to traditional notions of femininity. I was able to take solace in the fact that the Greens aren't a bonafide party, according to facebook. Take that, hippies!

As for the rest of my life, it's grand--I just got back from the city, where I spent the night at Adit's after taking him to my company's Christmas party. It was a blast--I'll post pictures later if they turned out okay. When we woke up this morning, Adit, Terry, Claudius and I had brunch near Adit's apartment before coming home, so it was a nice and leisurely start to my day. Now it's time to accomplish something!

Friday, December 02, 2005

shhh...illicit posting!

I never blog at work, because it's a bad habit to get into--if I'm being unproductive for a few minutes, I'd rather not have a written record or my indiscretions floating around cyberspace. However, since it's been a couple of days since my last update, I thought I should let those of you who check regularly that I'm still alive. I didn't blog on Wednesday night because Claudius and I ended up watching the first half of 'Return of the King'--which, since the movie is like five hours long, meant that I ended up staying up until one. By that point, I didn't feel like writing. Yesterday, our internet died and I didn't feel like troubleshooting it, so I wasn't able to post. It's working again (yay), but I must say that it was nice to not check my email or browse aimlessly while sitting on my couch last night. The downside was that I had nothing to distract me from the typical evening ritual of sitting around and flipping endlessly through the TV channels to find something to watch, and it was mindnumbingly boring. Oh, well.

Tonight is the holiday party, so I may not post tonight either--Terry and I are taking Adit and Claudius, and so the four of us should have a great time. Depending on how great a time we have, we may spend the night at Adit's place since the party is in San Francisco. Either way, I'll blog tomorrow. Happy December, everyone!

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

so much death

Claudia and I watched the second half of 'The Two Towers' tonight; we were driven to this fate after channel surfing between 'Friends', 'Sex and the City', and 'To Wong Foo Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar'. This isn't a bad fate to be driven to, and we probably should have succumbed to it earlier so that we could have started watching 'Return of the King'--after finished 'The Two Towers', it's hard to stop watching and go to bed instead.

I spent the afternoon on Stanford campus, which was v. strange. My former thesis advisor invited me to chat with her freshman seminar about undergraduate research opportunities and my honors thesis--for those of you who saw me sitting in the Loro dining hall for days at a time, unwashed, half-insane, and surrounded by books about Hitler, you may never have guessed that I would still be asked to discuss the thesis nearly three years later. I win! Anyway, my prof wasn't able to castigate me nearly as harshly as she usually does for not being in grad school, since I just got back from India and had an amazing experience that resulted directly from my corporate whoredom. She will no doubt harangue me when we have lunch in January, but for now I can breathe easy.

It was weird to be on campus again; after class, I walked with her towards the bookstore, where we parted ways since she had to run to a meeting. I strolled around the bookstore for awhile (why are they remodeling it *again*? it seems like all they do all the time is rebuild the area around the checkout counters). Then, since I was starving because I didn't have time for lunch, I went to Fratelli Deli in Palo Alto--it is one tasty place. By that point it was useless to go back to the office since I live v. close to campus, so I came home, took a nap, assisted Claudius as she prepared spaghetti and meatballs, and then watched TV. All in all, a v. nice day--let's hope tomorrow is similarly entertaining.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

perfect blend of technology and magic

I had intended to accomplish more at work than I did today, but I lost interest and so came home instead. Granted, when I got home, I spent half an hour on a conference call, so I didn't *completely* slack off. I also engaged in some much-needed kitchen cleaning. Claudia was kind enough (or brave enough) to scrub the stovetop, and I rearranged some cabinets, cleaned the counters, loaded the dishwasher, and threw away foods that had clearly been in the kitchen for months. There are still some cabinets that could stand to be sorted (but I can't reach them), and the refrigerator should be cleaned out, but the rest of the kitchen is wonderfully clean and healthy now. A clean and beautiful kitchen encourages my cooking desires, so I spent some time this evening thumbing through cookbooks and trying to decide what types of recipes I want to master next. Claudia and I made scrambled eggs w/peppers, mushrooms, onions, black olives, and cheese, as well as some fried potatoes--but that wasn't quite enough cooking, since I'd chopped the vegetables and frozen them last week. Despite the ease, though, it was nice to feel like I was doing something worthwhile, so perhaps this cooking trend will continue.

I'm trying to make social plans again, since I spent my first month back in the States in a very antisocial, noncommital mood--but it's hard to make social plans when almost all of one's friends are involved with Stanford and so are busy with dead week and finals. This week should still be lovely, though; I have movie plans for one (and possibly two) nights, dinner plans on Wednesday, and my company's holiday party on Friday. Terry and I are taking Adit and Claudia as our dates, so it should be super fun--or super disastrous, depending on the course of events. Either way, it will be highly entertaining.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

the stained-glass curtain you're hiding behind never lets in the sun

I sorta accomplished stuff today--I didn't roll out of bed until almost noon, but I did significantly rearrange things in my room. Unfortunately, 'rearranging' isn't as much progress as one could make, but it is some progress, and I feel good about that. In my defense, Terry rug-doctored the carpet in the living room and hallway this morning, and so it was too wet to allow for dragging of my stuff to and from the storage room. I'm supre-excited about the clean carpet, and it will hopefully motivate me to accomplish grand things in the coming weeks.

I spent the afternoon sorting, throwing things away, and restacking boxes; then, Terry and I went to Bed Bath & Beyond, Crate & Barrel, and The Container Store. I have decided that I hate Bed Bath & Beyond--they never have anything that I really like, and their stuff is overpriced. I was looking for a bedskirt to match my red velvet comforter, but the five minutes it took to find parking outside the store were all in vain. The stop at Crate & Barrel was lovely, as always, although I successfully refrained from buying anything. The Container Store was also overpriced, but I found some sturdy plastic drawers that will serve me well until I figure out what my long-term living arrangements will be--pending decisions, I may buy a real live (or rather, dead) dresser, but plastic will suffice for now.

After this v. homemaking shopping trip, I organized some more, and then Claudius, Terry, Terry's brother, and I went out for dinner. When we got back, we ended up watching the first half of 'The Two Towers'--I'm such a dork, but I still think there is no one hotter than Aragorn, even if he is a fictional character. We'll have to watch the second half soon, since we didn't get to see the awesome Helm's Deep sequence. Sweet dreams, everyone!

so damn beautiful

I took a supershuttle from San Francisco to my apartment tonight, after arriving in the Bay Area around midnight. The problem with taking a shuttle late at night is that it takes longer for enough people to show up and convince the driver that it's worth his while to drive down the Peninsula and drop us all off--and since I was the first one to try to convince the driver, I ended up waiting over half an hour for the magic number to arrive. Ah, well. During the wait, there was some nice, laidback electronica playing, and the only words were 'you're so damn beautiful' repeated for about ten minutes. The song eventually devolved into the 'singer' saying 'damn' every five seconds or so for what seemed like an eternity. I rejoiced because I could sense the misery of the other people who were waiting, and since I probably hated the song much less than they did, I was able to enjoy myself in some sort of perverse, demented way. True to my nature, eh?

Anyway, I'm back in California safe and sound. Tomorrow I shall *try* to accomplish something, but I don't have such a great track record when it comes to cleaning my apartment, and so we'll have to wait and see what happens. Since Christmas is less than a month away, I may be able to motivate myself to get something done--December will only be more hectic if I have to do all the cleaning that I should have done in November while simultaneously buying Christmas presents, going to holiday parties, and packing for my trip home. But, since I seem to like leaving everything to the last minute, it's v. tempting to just ignore the mess entirely and watch TV instead. We shall see, we shall see...

Friday, November 25, 2005

i've seen the lights go out on broadway

I slacked off again today, but I did leave the house briefly to drop something off at the post office, pick up a gallon of milk, and view the interior remodeling of the house that my aunt bought in town. The house needs a lot of work, but it's really big (four bedrooms upstairs, charmingly decorated with a combination left-behind puzzle pieces and children's handprints) and could be really nice. This is of course dependent on my aunt's failure to kill her boyfriend; he's been to the emergency room twice after working in the house over the past few months. However, she claims that it had nothing to do with her, and so I'm reserving judgment until I see whether he makes it through the winter.

My sister came over with her kids, as well as my oldest niece's boyfriend. I'm internally shocked that she's old enough to date anyone at all, but the boyfriend seemed nice, so I guess I can approve if I have to. I would characterize my family's general opinion of outsiders as 'suspicious', but the boyfriend was nice and inoffensive, so we'll see what happens :)

In other news, Nebraska beat Colorado today, which means that if Iowa State beats Kansas tomorrow, Iowa State will win the Big 12 North title and will play Texas for the Big 12 Championship next weekend. I don't care all that much, but it was a pretty big deal amongst my family (my aunt went to ISU and my brother is currently enrolled there), so I'm happy for them. Also, my uncle made some v. tasty pizza, which was quite the undertaking since we effortlessly turned up fifteen people to eat the pizza, so I had something other than ISU athletics to rejoice over. I spent the evening making a Christmas list while everyone else watched basketball; it's hard to make a Christmas list when just last week I was complaining about how much stuff I already have, but I shall persevere.

It's been a whirlwind trip to Iowa, and I go back to California tomorrow night. Since it's about twenty degrees right now, I must say that I am looking forward to the weather, if nothing else--I may still think that California is freezing compared to Hyderabad, but at least it's not genuinely below-freezing like Iowa is.

Oh, and for those of you keeping score at home--my father was able to get the bulldozer out of the creek that it had been embedded in. In even better news, I didn't have to spend three hours watching the procedure :) This is great news, since the forecast shows sudden warming on Sunday, leading to thunderstorms and potential hail; if the bulldozer had stayed in the mud during a thunderstorm, and then frozen that night, it may never have gotten out. The next time you see my father, you should congratulate him on his good fortune.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

'allo...salud...fettucine...brilliant!!

I rode with my brother to my grandmother's house for Thanksgiving--this resulted in a) an extremely warm core body temperature due to his heated leather seats, and b) the stunning realization that I prefer Romanian rock music to American country music. My brother was playing some Romanian song that he downloaded, and he was able to sing along (what he lacked in comprehension, he made up for in enthusiasm). The singer kept saying, ''allo, salud', and it sounded like one word was 'fettucine', but I may be wrong. My brother may be a strange kid, but I would rather listen to that song than to any of those freaking country songs any day of the week.

Thanksgiving dinner was lovely. We had turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, yams, my grandmother's special apple/sausage dressing, Stovetop stuffing for people who don't like the dressing, green bean casserole, homemade rolls, pumpkin pie, and some other foods for which I didn't have room. We spent the afternoon and evening hanging out at my house. I played a quick game of Monopoly with my dad's siblings and my cousin; it's too bad that no one else wanted to play, but we were apparently not as interesting as 'CSI' :( Oh, well, life goes on. Since I'm falling asleep by the fireplace, I think it's time to brave the relatively frigid conditions upstairs--it was only 23 degrees outside when I left the house for dinner this afternoon, and cold weather inevitably chills my bedroom, since we are not blessed with central heating. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

storms are brewing in your eyes

I was v. lazy today, as one should be on vacation. I woke up around 9:30 so that I could participate in a conference call that I didn't want to miss, and then I spent the rest of the day hanging out, watching podcasts with my brother, inspecting the surrounding countryside with my father, and running errands with my brother. 'Inspecting the surrounding countryside' involved spending half an hour in my father's truck watching a backhoe trying to pull a bulldozer out of a ditch; one of his employees was working on the dam for my aunt's pond, and he embedded the bulldozer in the creek. The ride out to view this was rather bumpy since we had to drive straight across a field to get to the dam, but luckily my father has a pickup rather than a Pontiac Sunfire and so it was more than manageable. He also drove me through town to show me a house that my aunt purchased, and he showed me the work that they've done to fix up the old house that his non-profit moved to the round barn site. Yes, the round barn still exists, and yes, they continue to haul more buildings to the site. The house is really cool, though; it's replete with a tower, porches, and a great interior layout, and now it has the bonus addition of modern bathrooms in the new basement. Yay.

I had intended to write a post that was either highly amusingo or intensely philosophical, but it's hard to do either one whilst falling asleep on the couch. We'll see what tomorrow brings in terms of my blogging, and whether the tryptophan found in cooked turkies is strong enough to put me out of commission entirely.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

when i win your heart, i'm gonna paint it cherry red

Surprise! I'm in Iowa!!

The reason? Well, I haven't been home for Thanksgiving since my freshman year of college, which was alarmingly long ago. I've cooked dinner for friends for several years, but this year all of the people I typically celebrate with have either moved away or have made other plans. I could have spent the weekend going to the movies, catching up on 'Lost', and pretending to clean my room, but I decided that it would be fun to surprise my family. I was going to drive home (leaving SF this morning and getting to Iowa late Wednesday night)...but then on a whim yesterday, I looked for last-minute airline tickets and found one that was surprisingly reasonable. This forced me to pack v. quickly since I left California at midnight last night, but I made it here with no problems, and I am staying until Saturday.

You have no idea how unenthused I was about climbing back onto a plane only a month after my extremely long trip home from Sri Lanka. The flight from SF to Minneapolis was uneventful, although it didn't give me enough time to really sleep; the flight from Minneapolis to Des Moines, on the other hand, was a complete joke. The plane was one of those absurdly-small turboprops with about 40 total seats (one on the left side of the aisle and two on the right). It was so loud that my spiffy noise-cancelling headphones had almost no effect on the constant roar of the engines. And, when we got to Des Moines, we found that the plane was too small to pull up to the jetway, so we had to take some rather rickety stairs down to the tarmac. I was *freezing* by this point, since my blood hasn't adjusted to non-tropical weather--but I was happy that they let us walk the ten feet from the stairway to the terminal. If I had been on Indian Airlines, they would have had a shuttle bus to take us to the terminal--and it would have driven in a big quarter-mile circle before pulling up at the door that was only a bus-length away from the airplane. There are advantages to living in America, despite how much I like to complain about the inadequacies of modern human planning.

My parents and my brother picked me up in Des Moines at 8:30am, and we stopped for a traditional steak-and-eggs breakfast on the way home. My brother drove, which was shocking; my father is rather tyrannical about doing all driving himself, so I was stunned at this turn of events. My brother has a great vehicle, though; he got it while I was in India. It's a Chevy Tahoe (v. midwestern), w/leather seats and an mp3 player that is unfortunately replete with all of his country music. He was kind and played some rock music, but the country acted like a blessed anesthetic after about an hour, so I missed some of the drive home.

I spent the rest of the day doing nothing; my mother and I watched some soap operas together, went grocery shopping, and stopped at my grandmother's house to surprise her with the fact that I came home. She seemed extremely happy that I came, so I think the trip will be worth it. I don't have anything else to share at the moment--perhaps I'll get a chance to write more while I'm home, but we shall see.

Monday, November 21, 2005

steady watch me navigate

Today I ran some errands in the morning before work (how industrious! until you realize that I didn't get to work until after eleven), then had lunch with Karen and Lizzie, then worked all afternoon. I had dinner at Gordon Biersch with five girls from work--it was really great to catch up and to hang out someplace other than the office cafeteria. Then, I came home, hung out with Terry and Claude, and decided that I should retire rather than staying up and watching tv for a couple of hours. Isn't that admirable?

Despite (or perhaps because of) my recent attempts at self-discipline, I really just want to blow everything off, move to the middle of nowhere, and write the Great American Novel. Alternatively, I could work on my romance novel--I've been told that it was rather unfair to suck people in and then leave them hanging. I'm sorry! I'll try to work on it when I'm home over Christmas, but if you know my family, you know that they can be rather rapacious of my time when I'm at home. Can you really blame them? But, the problem with the romance novel is that it is, ipso facto, extremely formulaic, and I feel that I might have stories in me that diverge from standard plotlines.

However, this is all meaningless speculation until I actually start trying to write--and who knows when that will be. All I know is that it won't be tonight, but I have to start doing something soon or I'm going to spend the rest of my life wondering if I was destined for far greater things that never came to fruition.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

we need body rockin', not perfection

I just realized why I'm so tired--I only got six hours of sleep last night. The weekend, as you might have guessed, was pretty good. Friday was sort of a downer-way to start the weekend, as I mentioned, since it mostly involved the Harry Potter movie (and by the way, Harry Potter only seems to know one spell--the one that brings things to you--and he uses it all the time. You'd think he could have learned another spell at some point in his four years of schooling) and talking to Claude about life. Saturday was more upbeat, though; Claude and I had dim sum at my favorite place in the world, and then spent several hours at a cafe reading books and drinking tasty cold beverages.

On a tangential note, I'm reading Mark Twain's 'Letters from the Earth'; I got it from my parents for Christmas last year, and I figured that I should read it before I ask for more books this year. The first part was fantastic--the premise of that section is that Satan is writing letters about humanity back to Gabriel and Michael, and he's pointing out all of our logical inconsistencies (which, as you might guess, are numerous). The rest of it is a lot of random stuff from Mark Twain's papers. One of my favorites involved Twain dissecting James Fenimore Cooper's prose; he took passages from 'Deerslayer' and showed how they could be rewritten with 1/3 of the words in a way that would actually improve the story. This microcriticsm seemed so snippy that I couldn't help but love it.

Anyway, after reading for awhile, Claudia and I went to Amber India with Tammy. I can't believe that I was excited about eating Indian food. Unfortunately, none of it was as good as it would be in India (surprise!), and it also cost around $20 each, which I couldn't expense. All in all, it felt like a complete rip-off. But, it was wonderful to be able to share it with Claude and Tammy, despite the fact that their butter chicken does not compare to murgh makhni. Then, we watched 'The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou', which I adore; by the time I took Tammy back to her dorm, I wasn't able to sleep until around two. Then, I had to get up at eight so that I could take Tammy to the airport. Sigh.

I didn't accomplish nearly as much as I intended today; I got my car washed before coming home, and then Claudia and I went to the beach for a quick, isolationist barbecue. The beach was even more glorious than last weekend--we didn't even need our sweatshirts, which is completely unheard of. We sat on the beach for awhile after eating lunch, reading our books and watching the gorgeous waves. We came home and I had grand intentions to finish unpacking and clean my room, but that didn't happen. I went to Best Buy in hopes of getting a hands-free earpiece for my phone. But, as I arrived, Katie called, and we ended up talking for over an hour. When I finally made it inside, I discovered that they don't carry accessories for my particular phone. I tried the Cingular store next, but it was closed, and so I lost out completely. I would have done stuff tonight, but 'Legally Blonde' was on tv, and that just ruined my ambition for the rest of the evening.

It was great talking to Katie--we hadn't talked on the phone in at least seven months, but it felt just like it always does. I have to make up some stuff about her 'upstanding character' for her application to the state bar, which will be fun--I'm not sure why she picked me as a reference, since I know far too much about her, but I shall endeavor to help her out. It's too bad I can't visit her in New Orleans this year; that had been my dream plan, but since I don't want to get typhoid or whatever they have down there, I think I'll stay in California.

So, that was the weekend. If you're in California, go to the beach as soon as possible and as often as possible until it gets cold again. I promise you won't regret it.

Friday, November 18, 2005

change your taste in men

I saw the new Harry Potter movie this afternoon. Here are my thoughts:

1) It's quite novel to see a movie without wondering if rats are going to crawl across your feet.
2) It's quite novel to see a movie straight through without a poorly-timed intermission.
3) It's quite novel to see a movie without being stared at by the hordes of people hanging out in the movie theatre concourse.

Oh, and about the movie itself: I thought that this was probably the best of the four movies so far, although the books are definitely better. The age differences between the characters and the actors who play them is getting a little ridiculous--the twins looked like they were in their early twenties, while Victor Krum (who played a Bulgarian Quidditch star and should have been 17 or 18) looked like he could just as easily have been played by Sylvester Stallone. I'm sure Stallone would have jumped at the chance so that he could get back in shape for his upcoming, ridiculous desire to make new 'Rocky' *and* 'Rambo' movies next year. However, despite the age issues, I thought the twins were perfectly cast and I'm looking forward to seeing how they're utilized in the next movie (in which they should have even more entertaining parts). But all in all, the movie wasn't completely enthralling--it was worth seeing, especially since I got the ticket for free, but I'm not shouting at you to go see it immediately.

Between breakfast with Vidya and Claudia, lunch with Tolu, and the movie, I got v. little done at work today. After the movie, I came home and chilled with Claudia for a couple of hours--we discussed all the things we could be doing as healthy 24-year-olds, but instead sat on the couch and stared at each other for awhile before I started to fall asleep during our conversation. Oops. Apparently I've gotten old before my time.

The weekend promises more of the same--I don't have any solid plans, and I should continue to make a stab at cleaning my room. Big Game is tomorrow, but I'm not going to it. However, I'm not complaining about the fact that I don't meet new people, do interesting things, or find men whom I might be interested in dating. I need to get my life settled before I can add anything or anyone to it, and I don't have the stamina necessary right now to put on my polite social mask long enough to get past the first few awkward getting-to-know-you stages of friendship. And if I discount the whole 'single' thing (which, if 'singleness' was something I was selling, I've had it in stock for so long that it would already be beyond-heavily discounted), life pretty much rocks. Case in point: I still haven't succumbed to malaria, which I think means I'm in the clear--and as much as I wanted a crazy tropical disease, I don't think that fever and chills would really do anything for my attractiveness.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

i hope you had the time of your life

[disclaimer: if you work with me, just pretend that you didn't read the following commentary on my bonus, since it's rather indelicate to discuss bonus issues with coworkers--and if it turns out that my manager lied to me, please let me believe that she was telling the truth.]

Today I learned a valuable lesson about reacting without knowing all the facts about something. My quarterly review was tonight, and it was rather late for a review because it had to be done over conference call with my former manager in Hyderabad--Heather, who was really more friend than manager, so I'd been looking forward to talking to her all week. During the review, information about the quarterly bonus is revealed. For my position, your bonus is multiplied by how well you are performing; so, for instance, it's possible to get a double bonus if you're working extraordinarily hard. I'm used to getting high bonuses, especially the last three quarters, and I didn't think that this quarter would be any different.

Then, yesterday, I was poking around on the HR website to find some stuff about benefits, and I noticed that it listed all of my previous bonus payouts. For some reason, this quarter's bonus was listed even though I hadn't received my review or my payment yet. Using some reverse calculation (I could still kick ass at the math bee if given the opportunity), I realized that my expected bonus hadn't been multiplied at all--which is the first time since I started here two years ago that I haven't gotten a bonus multiplier. I was heartbroken. So I spent all last night and today wondering why my bonus was so low, and trying to figure out how I was going to explain my apparently bad performance when I couldn't think of anything that merited such a precipitous decline in my fortunes.

It turns out that all of this stress and dread was for naught--when I got on the call, I was told that since I got promoted last quarter, the promotion reset my expectation level--which means that the amount of work that I was doing last quarter is now expected of me all the time, and I'll have to work even harder to get a bonus multiplier in the future. This seems a little bit unfortunate, since I was already putting in crazy hours, but at least my performance last quarter was still strong. I would probably have been on the verge of quitting if I'd been told that everything I did last quarter was unsatisfactory, and so now I shall live to fight another day.

I saw Renee briefly this afternoon, which was nice--she's working across the street from me, but I barely see her because our schedules are so different. I also made a tasty Greek salad for dinner after my review. The shuddering sense of relief that I felt over the fact that my review went well made me want to indulge my inner adult, and so I had a glass of wine with my salad. I've felt a little less 'adult' since getting back from India; granted, I don't kiss as many water buffalo here, but I also don't drink as many grown-up cocktails and glasses of wine, and it's hard to take myself seriously when I'm drinking a cup of tea out of a plastic mug while watching 'The Daily Show' in my pajamas. Conversely, when I'm eating a well-prepared (if I do say so myself) salad and drinking a glass of Chardonnay while wearing a cute tweed skirt and sweater, it's easier to believe that I may someday be fashionable and mature.

Then again, maturity is highly overrated. So, we'll see how this dilemma resolves itself.

you're wondering who i am...machine or mannequin

I've realized that I end nearly every post with some variant of 'I'm going to bed.' This has become highly repetitive--and is most likely unnecessary, since it's clear to even the most casual reader that 98% of my blog posts occur right before I go to sleep. So, starting tonight, I will just dispense with the standard sign-off, and leave you hanging abruptly at the end of the post instead. This will save me two seconds at the end of every post, which can add up to at least five minutes per year--and that's if I don't blog every single day. Yippee! Of course, I just burned part of that surplus on this paragraph, but now that the initial investment has been made, I can reap the rewards for years to come.

I'm in an existential crisis because I don't know what I will be doing at work and I don't feel particularly satisfied unless I have more work than is humanly possible to perform--as much as I complain about the stress of my job, I only really like it when it is stressful. Right now I'm going through the most unstressful phase I've had since around March of 2004, and so I'm completely at a loss.

To combat this feeling, which was reaching a rather frustrating low this afternoon, I went shopping after work--and picked up a pair of pants at Gap for the amazingly low price of $10. This makes up for the fact that, like every other pair of pants I own, the pants are too long and so will have to be hemmed. Then, I picked up groceries, came home, and did a quick and brutal purge of the contents of the refrigerator (I kid you not--some of the things in there were there when I left for India in April; it's a wonder that nothing has developed sentience and attempted to kill my roommates). Then, I made myself a quesadilla with tasty sauteed onions, peppers, mushrooms, and olives--and I cut up a large quantity of those ingredients so that I could freeze twelve single-quesadilla servings of the mixture for future quesadillas. Packaging the ingredients for my quesadillas in advance is one of my most brilliant accomplishments, since chopping up the onion and pepper takes so long; I would rarely make quesadillas if I didn't have little Ziploc bags full of veggies in the freezer. Tonight as I was cleaning out the fridge, chopping vegetables, and loading the dishwasher, I did vaguely wish that I still had a cook and a staff to take care of me, but those memories are quickly receding into the distance and I'm gradually becoming self-sufficient again.

And if I needed any other reasons to be glad that I'm no longer in India (since I've been gone a full month and am rather sad about that), check out this article that I found today:

How disgusting is that?!

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

i want a girl with a mind like a diamond

Vidya requested a mention in my blog post tonight because she claimed that it's been forever since I mentioned her--and she threatened to kill me if I didn't comply. As many of you know, direct demands often make me stubborn and recalcitrant, and so I almost decided not to blog at all just to show her that she couldn't give me orders. However, not writing hurts me more than it hurts you (and definitely more than it hurts her), so I decided to cut my losses and give her the freaking shoutout that she requested. Are you happy, Vidya?

Today was a regular day at the office--except for lunch, when I snuck away to meet Claudia at the Old Pro in Palo Alto. We had tasty, meaty sandwiches, and it felt like I was cutting class or something, even though we are most assuredly allowed to go off-campus for lunch. It doesn't make a whole lot of *sense* to go off-campus for lunch, since we get free lunches at work without even having to burn any precious gasoline to get there, but sometimes it's nice to get away. And, it's definitely nice to have onion rings, which aren't usually found in the kitchens of all of the organic-loving, non-fried-food chefs at work. After lunch, I made a quick stop at the art store around the corner from the Old Pro and bought some picture frames. I have tons of pictures from India (and Europe) that merit display, but I want my room to feel somewhat adult and so I can't just tape the pictures to the wall like I did in college. Also, since I now have my red velvet bedspread on my bed, my room is starting to verge on 'adult' in the porn sense, so pictures of innocent India-related activities should help to sober up the velvet just a little bit.

After work, I came home and unpacked the rest of my boxes. There's still stuff strewn all over the place, but I unwrapped everything and figured out what things were and what I need to do to put it all in order. A couple of things are missing, but they were pretty minor, so I'm not too upset--and how can I be upset when I clearly have more stuff than I know what to do with already?

I have a conference call at eight a.m. tomorrow--the fact that I have three early or late conference calls this week should indicate that I'm getting back to some semblance of 'normal'. I'd prefer not to get back to the level of 'normal' that I was at in Hyderabad, since the work (and conversations about it) never really stopped, but because I'm a workaholic with strong streaks of both perfectionism and masochism, it's inevitable that I'll end up overworked and stressed again within the next three months. I'm just trying to rein in my natural tendencies until after Christmas, so that I can celebrate the holidays without stressing about work. The best way to accomplish this in the ultra-short-term, it's clear, is for me to go to sleep!

Monday, November 14, 2005

if you ask me, turn up the bass

I don't have much time to update because I'm desperately tired--all sorts of sun and wind tends to do that to me. I had a great weekend, though. Yesterday, I had brunch with my roommates at Hobees, and then spent most of the being genuinely industrious--I cleared up most of the stuff that I had previously unpacked from my suitcases, dragged some books up from storage, unloaded the box of books that I had shipped back, and organized my bookshelves. Unsurprising that my first organizational task was my books, no? But since I have about twelve shelves of them, they're not a quick or easy task to begin with. I didn't do much of anything last night, much to the chagrin of the healthy twenty-four-year-old inside of me. Today, I had planned a last-minute barbecue at Half Moon Bay and invited a lot of people, but because of the last-minute nature of the barbecue and the usual misery of Northern California beaches, I wasn't expecting a lot of attendees. The funny thing was that for the first two hours, no one showed up, which means that Claudia and I got some great bonding done over an amusing fire-starting experience and some extremely tasty hamburgers. Tammy and Timmy showed up around three-thirty (Timmy's real name is Peder, but Adit introduced him to me as Timmy Timer, and so I have trouble remembering what his real name is--and if Tammy and Timmy are around each other, it's so much more pleasant to say 'Timmy and Tammy' than 'Peder and Tammy'). The four of us hung out until five, cowering under the predatory glares of the numerous birds and making fun of the people who were swimming in the frigid Northern Pacific. The day actually started out as warm or warmer than any other day I've ever spent at Half Moon Bay--the sun was actually warm, and the wind was only mildly irritating rather than bitingly cold. As soon as Tammy/Timmy showed up, clouds formed on the horizon and the wind picked up another fifteen miles/hour, which made us all lose feeling in our appendages, but it was still a blast.

Despire the utter lack of attendance (or perhaps because of it), I had a great day, and Claudia and I intend to put our leftovers to good use by freezing them and then cooking them up at the beach next weekend. Yay.

After we got back to Menlo Park, I talked briefly to my parents, and then we went to Stanford Theatre to see 'Black Narcissus'. Stanford Theatre only shows old movies; and despite its name, it's not on campus, but instead is on University Ave. It has been restored to a lovely example of the golden age of theatregoing; they even have this dude who plays the organ before the film, and he and the organ descend into a pit beneath the stage as the movie starts, to well-mannered applause from the well-mannered patrons. Most of the people in the theatre probably saw these movies when they were released--'Black Narcissus' was released in 1947, and so was in glorious, mouthwatering Technicolor.

'Black Narcissus' has had a surprising effect on me for the past six years, given that I hadn't seen it until now; Claude and Emily saw it during my freshman year, and their impressions of it worked their way into my daily life. The most obvious of these is that we frequently call Claudia 'Clodagh', after Sister Clodagh in the movie. I really liked the movie, and the opportunity to see where all of this stuff in our collective memory came from; most of all, I liked the chance to see the lead actor in outfits that amounted to a pair of hotpants and a feathered hat [this is the second time in three days that I saw an actor in hotpants, since I caught an episode of 'Magnum P.I.' on tv and he was wearing ridiculously short shorts]. The lead actor was also forced to ride a pony at several key points in the movie, which was absolutely ridiculous, since if he put his legs down to their full length, he could stand flatfooted on the ground. And best of all, the last shot of him consisted of him being drenched by the monsoon as he watched the woman he loved ride away on another small pony. Hot!

Okay, I definitely need to sleep--goodnight!