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!

Saturday, November 12, 2005

throw away your television

I truly have a horrifying amount of personal possessions. This problem was brought sharply into focus today when my shipment from India arrived--and the bill of lading stated that the weight of the shipment was 326 pounds. I shudder to think how much that must have cost. This is yet another example of how having free storage/shipping has resulted in an explosion of property--from the summer after sophomore year 'til the summer after senior year, I had virtually unlimited, free staff storage on campus, which means that I never had to throw anything out.

Now, I have boxes stacked on boxes, with multiple rubbermaid tubs to protect clothes from high school that I no longer wear (since I'm trying to look all professional at work), and more shoes than will fit on my fully-expanded double shoerack even though I only wear my Adidas and my hot-pink Kangaroos. I have dozens of books that I've never gotten around to reading, a giant stuffed catfish that I have perhaps matured beyond, a megasized supersoaker, an antfarm that I never set up (but it was a gift, so how could I possible get rid of it?), a whole box full of grass skirts and plastic leis from junior year in-house draw, and another box full of costume objects that are rather unnecessary. Then we move to the kitchen, where I have casserole dishes, two bundt pans (most people don't even have one!), a pizza stone, a waffle iron, coffee and espresso machines, a george foreman grill, the biggest microwave I could buy (which I like to call by its given name, the 'genius sensor'), and a whole bunch of red Kitchenaid utensils, bowls, and cooking implements because everything *has* to be 'matching matching', as the Hyderabadi tailors would say. And then I don't even know what's in the storeroom downstairs--and none of that list includes the contents of the six boxes that arrive at my door today.

I have a serious disease that needs to be stopped, or else I will turn into everyone else in my entire family and have entire rooms devoted to storing things that have faded into the distant reaches of my memory (or, as in my younger brother's case, I'll have to buy a whole warehouse in preparation for a lifetime of major acquisitions). I've moved five times since I graduated from college, not counting the six months that I spent in India--and there are things that have stayed in the same boxes during all of those moves, only to be schlepped from one storage closet to another. If I'm going to accommodate and extra 326 pounds of belongings in my already-overcrowded physical and psychological space, some of the old baggage needs to go.

After that rant, you may think that I'm completely spent, but I will still give you a quick run-down. My boxes came today, and so I had to wait for them before going to work--this led to me strolling in around one, just in time to grab a deliciously-fresh salad from the cafe. Eating steak and salad is the perfect antidote to six months of slow poisoning via chicken-and-rice overdose. When I came home, Claude, Terry and I went out for sushi (another great antidote to the aforementioned poisoning), and then stopped at the Creamery because Terry wanted ice cream. I just finished reading a romance novel, which I realize will earn me much condemnation since I should be writing my own, not reading the works of others. You'll have to give me a break--I realize it's been a year since I started writing, but I need to get my life together before I can devote a lot of energy to imagining the overwrought, dramatically-romantic problems of others.

Now it's time to sleep, and to dream of which bedspread I will grace my bed with tomorrow. Goodnight!

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

victory is ours once we strike the source

I worked from home today because I had a doctor's appointment in Menlo Park in the afternoon, and so it didn't really make sense to go all the way to work, come back for the appointment, and then drive back to work again. There's nothing like working from home to make one feel rather unproductive, and so I'm excited about going into the office tomorrow (and that's not even meant to be as facetious as it sounds!). Later, I met Vidya for some weird fun--we went to the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum in San Jose. It has the largest collection of Egyptian artifacts on the West Coast (and I think anywhere outside of Egypt or the British Museum), which is really strange since it's in the middle of nowhere in San Jose, which is a city that is not known for its culture. After, we had dinner at an Italian place that we found on The Alameda--the food was v. tasty, and encouraged me to share all of my secrets with Vidya. Not that I *have* secrets, mind you, but since I normally prefer avoid all serious discussions entirely, the food must have had a potent effect on me.

Since I worked from home and the only people I saw were my doctor, the doctor's receptionist, and Vidya, I have nothing exciting to share. The only thing I will say is that the Egyptians totally rocked, and I remain as much of a dork about them as I was in elementary school. I even remembered that the soul was called the 'ka', which is a rather useless piece of trivia, and so I found the museum quite exciting. On that note, it's time for bed!

you can run, you can hide, but you can't escape my love

I just got back from seeing 'Goodnight and Good Luck' with Vidya (congratulations to her for making it into my blog, since she only reads it for mentions of her own name), Claude, Sri, Adit, and Zach. For those of you not in the know, it's the movie about Edward R. Murrow's tide-turning coverage on the McCarthy hearings. It was v. good--an opinion that might be expected of someone who is fascinated by pinkos, people who fought against pinkos, and people who supported precious civil liberties despite the fight against said pinkos. It was also perhaps too intellectual to serve as my first movie outing in the first world--I'm used to theatres that are overcrowded, have poorly-timed intermissions, allow people to talk loudly on their cellphones, and do nothing about their burgeoning rat populations. I recommend it despite its intellectualness.

Last night was v. fun--I rather unexpectedly got a call on Sunday from Heather, who used to work in the convenience store with me in high school. She and her husband were in Palo Alto to take their youngest daughter to see some doctors at Stanford Hospital. Since they were in town for several days, I took them to a tasty Mexican restaurant last night, where we caught up on all the goings-on in our hometown. It was really nice (if a little surreal) to see someone from my hometown--the last person I saw from home was Lea in August, and before that it was when my parents visited in April. We had a great time, and I'm glad they looked me up.

I've been home from India/Sri Lanka for two weeks...and it feels like I never left. More to the point, it seems like India was some sort of weird product of my fevered imagination. By the time Christmas rolls around, I will probably be so reimmersed in my standard life that all of my Indian experience will be a vague and distant memory. Of course, if the marks from all of the mosquito bites on my legs don't fade by then, I'll still have about fifty visible reminders of my time in Sri Lanka :) Before I turn too contemplative, I think I'll go to sleep.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

brand new colony

Unbeknownst to her, the waitress at the Hong Kong Flower Lounge made a serious tactical error. Last week, during my first brunch there in over six months, she told us that a new Chinese restaurant had opened in Palo Alto in the same building that was once occupied by the PA branch of the Flower Lounge. She said that we should go and try it for her, because it was too expensive for her, and she had heard from others that it wasn't as good as the Flower Lounge. We could not understand why she would tell us this, although it was amusing that she told us about it because it meant that she knew that we come up from Palo Alto, which means that she remembers us from the glory days of the PA branch--and it closed eighteen months ago.

So, progress to today, when the four of us decided to try the new place in Palo Alto. It is significantly closer to us than Millbrae is, which is a huge bonus. It's obvious that the place hasn't achieved the Flower Lounge's popularity; if we had gotten there at almost noon on a Sunday, we would have had to wait an hour for a table, but this restaurant was half-empty (or half-full, if you prefer, which I don't). The decor was a huge upgrade from the old Flower Lounge, and the place just felt fancier and more upscale. This served to put a slight damper on our usual loud, obnoxious conversation. Another upside was that the Cokes were a) served in larger glasses and b) actually tasted like Coke, which is something that the Flower Lounge usually struggles with. The major downside, though, was that while all of the dishes were adequate, none of them approached the delectable tastes and textures of the Flower Lounge (or Opium Lounge, as we prefer to call it, because massive amounts of addictive drugs must be added to the food--it's the only way to explain why we've driven half an hour each way every week for over a year to eat there).

It was during this brunch, however, that the Flower Lounge lost us. Why, you may ask? The new place certainly didn't win us, and we may never eat there again. However, we realized that we could just as easily explore other types of brunches/lunches on the weekends, rather than always having dim sum--there's a world of options, especially in the Bay Area. We could just as easily have tapas, or steak and eggs, or crepes, or tasty Thai food, or Indian buffets (Shedletsky's idea, not mine)--these brunches are just as much about seeing each other as they are about eating delicious shrimp families. We will still go to the Flower Lounge, but we will start pursuing other options as well, in what is being billed as a new phase of our friendship.

After brunch, I cleaned my bathroom, then started to unpack (finally). Unfortunately, I lost interest in unpacking after I'd taken everything out of my suitcases, but before I had put anything away, which means that my room is a complete disaster. Instead of packing, I lured Claudia into a field trip to Crate and Barrel, where I bought a pie plate and a new set of canisters. The canisters have been coveted for over a year--I bought two v. cheap canisters at Ikea when I was first setting up my kitchen, and I've hated them ever since. Now I am happy. It also means that I can unpack the kilo of tea that I bought in Sri Lanka, and put part of it in a cool airtight container to preserve its delicate flavors. Yay.

After spending some time drooling in the store of my dreams, I came home and whipped up a Greek salad--yes, I have succumbed to eating vegetables. Shocking. Since these vegetables were drenched in olive oil and mixed with lots of feta cheese, I don't feel so traitorous about it. Claude and I also split an entire baguette, which we dipped in the leftover olive oil/vinegar/garlic dressing...mmmmmm. After all that domestic bliss, it was too late to call my parents, and so I watched TV instead. It's funny that the time difference between here and Iowa is almost harder to deal with than the time difference between India and Iowa. In India, I could call them anytime between around 5pm my time and whenever I went to bed; here, I can call them earlier in the day (when I'm not awake), or during dinnertime for them, or during dinnertime for me, and my window closes around eight pm. So sad! Rather than dwelling on all this guilt, though, I'm going to go to bed.

paranoia, paranoia, everybody's coming to get me--just say you never met me

I apologize for not writing over the past two days; I've been forcing myself to stay awake all day in an effort to clear the last remnants of jetlag, and that means that I've been ready to fall asleep v. early. At least, that's my excuse for Thursday--I was at work the entire day, then had a v. enjoyable dinner with Julie, then watched a little TV before crashing around ten. Julie and I ate in FloMo, which was a bit bizarre--since I graduated two and a half years ago, I shouldn't ever be stepping foot into a Stanford dining hall, but I find myself being lured back with alarming frequency. They had just the same weird 'Chinese' food, french fries, and strangely-addicting tapioca pudding, so I was quite satisfied. I also love hanging out with Julie, so all in all it was a fun night.

Yesterday, I had dinner at a taqueria in Redwood City with Claude, Zach, Terry, Sri, and Adit. It was great to see Sri and Zach, and I was maliciously pleased that, in my attempts to make last-minute plans on a Friday night, six of the seven people I invited were able to come, which means that they were just as lame as I was. Around 10:30, I went over to Shedletsky's because I had been suckered into playing mafia; Doug is using a large pool of his former freshmen to serve as warm-body replacements for all the people who have been driven away by the drama that is rampant in the mafia group, and so we had much larger games than I had gotten used to. Despite the fact that I pretend to be appalled about playing mafia, I had a fun time--it's not something that I'm as into as I used to be, but I still enjoy it. Patrick also showed up, which was completely unexpected and v. nice.

Today, I woke up at noon, watched some stuff on the Food Network, ate lunch, and watched three episodes of 'Lost'--I only have three episodes left in the first season! Then I spent awhile primping for Shedletksy/Tammy/Claudia's 'surprise #2'. I was expecting dinner at someplace other than Lucky Dhaba (home of the last disastrous surprise)--and it exceeded expectations by being a surprise party for me in Shedletsky's apartment, replete with steak, Hypnotic, and Hostess cupcakes (that were strangely purple because of a tie-in with 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory'). I just got back, and I'm going to sleep because I'm too tired to go out with Claudia and Tammy again.

I wish that I had more exciting events to report, but I'm currently fresh out of stories and I'm practically falling asleep on my keyboard. Perhaps you'll get more out of me tomorrow--until then, goodnight!

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

i love the sound of you walking away

I think that I hit the nadir of laziness today; the only reason I was at work was to have lunch with some people for Joann's birthday, and I left soon thereafter. I went to Target to pick up some plastic drawers so that I could organize my closet, but I didn't find any that I wanted. Then I came home, and I intended to unpack, but instead I sprawled out on my bed and ended up napping for two hours. After that, I successfully roused myself and met some other coworkers at the Olive Garden for a going-away dinner for someone who was visiting here from the Hyderabad office. I'm hoping that someday my life will reach the point where I don't have to attend going-away dinners every three weeks, since they're getting a little old.

Dinner at the Olive Garden was fun--almost everyone had been in Hyderabad at some point while I was there, and it was good to catch up with them. I also didn't realize how much I like salad until I went someplace that doesn't have it--yet another addition to the long list of things that I once hated and now absolutely adore. I would never, ever have chosen salad over pasta before, but I did tonight, and it was lovely. There are still some things in my life that I doubt I will ever love (asparagus, ironing, and bats, for example), but salad can be scratched off my hate list. It was also clear that the rest of the former expats (now repats, I suppose) missed salad as well, since almost everyone ordered salad rather than pasta. Fascinating, eh?

Tomorrow I have to be at work at eight a.m. for a conference call, and then I have dinner plans in the evening, so I may be forced to stay awake all day. Shocking! I know it's good for me and that I have to do it if I'm ever going to get over the jetlag, but it's so much nicer to sleep whenever I want. And, if I'm not over jetlag, people are much more sympathetic towards me. I will eventually exhaust that sympathy, though, so I suppose I should start staying awake during the day. Lame. Right now it's nighttime, though, so I can legitimately go to bed!

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

the sound of settling

True to hypochondriac form, I'm constantly wondering if I'm coming down with malaria. Yes, I have 'malaise', and headaches, and general nausea, but it's not really any different than what I usually feel when I'm stressed and lacking a sense of purpose (since I have nothing to do at work and don't want to confront the domestic tasks awaiting me at home). However, since I have the fading marks of scores of mosquito bites on my legs, it's much more thrilling to imagine that I'm coming down with a dread tropical disease than it is to admit that I'm probably just vaguely depressed and unsettled by the transition between two vastly different worlds.

I really intended to get a lot done today, but I failed. On the bright side, I didn't take any naps this afternoon, which is impressive since I awoke involuntarily at six a.m. If I'm lucky, I'll start getting over the jetlag--I've been home a week, so it should theoretically improve in the near future. In order to help the process, though, I should really go to bed!