Tuesday, December 26, 2006

orinoco flow

Merry Christmas, everyone! Granted, it's v. belated--I've either been too tired or too lethargic to blog over the past few days, so I'll give a quick recap...

I made both of my flights home, which put me into Des Moines at around 10am. This made me significantly luckier than all of the people who got bumped off previous flights; since all flights were booked solid, there were people in the boarding area of my SFO-Chicago flight who had been waiting for >26 hours already, but who couldn't get on my flight because it was booked. The only bad thing was that the baby in the row next to me screamed for the last hour and a half of the 3.5 hour flight, which means that I slept less than 2 hours on Friday night :( When I got to Des Moines, I went out for breakfast w/my parents and brother, then hung out in the mall parking lot while they all finished their Christmas shopping, then slept most of the way home. My uncle and his family were already in my house, making prime rib, when we arrived; the prime rib was perfectly cooked and delicious, which was a nice welcome back to my ancestral home. I took another nap after dinner, and awoke in time to play a second round of 'Cranium'--my cousin Andrew and I did fairly well, even though we were teamed with my grandmother, which meant that we had some difficulties with the song categories (since my grandmother was too old and my cousin was too young to know a lot of the songs).

The next day was Christmas Eve, which meant I had to wake up at the ungodly hour of 9:30ish to shower before my sister and her kids showed up. We had lunch (loose meat sandwiches!), followed by presents. Then, my parents, brother, and I went to my grandmother's for the traditional Christmas Eve lasagna, followed by Christmas Eve church. The Methodists like to have a little bit of Scripture with their hymn-singing--but the funny thing was that, minute-for-minute, there was more reading of bios of the song-writers than there was reading of Biblical passages. In other words, they read 1-2 lines of the Christmas story, then a 3-5 minute mini-treatise on the people who wrote the Christmas songs that we sang. I heard more than I wanted to know about the guy who wrote 'O Little Town of Bethlehem', among others, but the candlelit part of the service was pretty, as always. Then we went back to my grandmother's and opened presents. Yay!

Christmas Day, I had to wake up at the even more ungodly hour of 8:30 for the traditional emptying of stockings and opening of gifts. Among other things, I got the Mario Batali 'Molto Italiano' cookbook and a Kitchenaid immersion blender, so I'm super psyched to get back to California and try some of the recipes (and make more creamy potato-leek soup). We went to my grandmother's for Christmas dinner (served at noon--mealtimes are v. confusing here), then came back here around three, where all four of us fell into post-meal comas. It was great!

Now, Christmas is over. I was v. lazy today; woke up at 12:30, watched the soaps, took a bath, and changed into fresh pajamas :) We had dinner, then watched 'Thank You for Smoking', which my brother gave me for Christmas. The movie was v. funny; I love satire, and I love snarky humor, so I particularly appreciated this tale of a no-holds-barred tobacco lobbyist and his attempts to protect and defend Big Tobacco. I give it two enthusiastic thumbs up--and apparently it's not even that offensive to smokers, since my mother made a special effort to stay awake and watch the entire thing. If any of my Cali friends want to see this fine film, I can host a viewing when I get back.

I should go to bed; I have to get up somewhat early tomorrow (or at least earlier than usual) because my mom's cousins are visiting in the afternoon. Then, Thursday I'm going to Iowa City to meet Ritu--we may have to have an Olive Garden reunion, even though there are apparently better places to eat in that town. I hope that you all had v. merry Christmases!

Friday, December 22, 2006

one thing i can tell you is you got to be free

I'm deathly tired tonight; little wonder, I suppose, since I've been getting by the past few days on an unholy mixture of adrenaline, peppermint mochas, and Diet Coke. It's the end of the quarter at work, which is when I'm at my absolute busiest, and this end-of-quarter is compounded by the fact that I'm out of the office for the next ten days. Actually, I've been leaving the office at the end of the quarter in each of the past six quarters, which implies a stellar lack of planning on my part, but also implies that I should be used to it; Q3 2005 I left India, Q4 2005 I went home for Christmas, Q1 2006 I drove to Iowa before going to Ireland, Q2 2006 I went to South Africa, Iowa, and then California, Q3 2006 I went to Iowa for Katie's wedding, and now I'm going to Iowa again. Someday, perhaps, I'll stop leaving at the crucial end-quarter time, but nothing in life is certain.

Anyway, I came home tonight at 5:30 (I went in at eight a.m. voluntarily, which should show how bad the situation was) because I had finally slogged through the most vital things. I came home with the intention of working for another few hours to make a dent in my ballooning inbox, but instead laid on the couch and watched 'Scrubs', rubbed my stomach for awhile (stress always gives me stomachaches, and I've had some doozies the past few days), then started reading 'Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance'. I've heard good things about it but was having trouble getting into it, so I turned instead to 'A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian'. I've carried the book around for ages; I believe that I bought it in Singapore long ago, but never got around to reading it (instead, as I recall, I took an Ambien and slept for nine hours to avoid the grief and homesickness I was feeling for India). I read the whole thing in one fell swoop, as is my habit, and I quite enjoyed it. I really want to go back to Ukraine someday; my memories of the place are colored by my twelve-year-old perspective, which at the time I thought was incredibly mature for my age, but I think that if I had been living there as an adult, I would have had a much different experience. Not to say that my twelve-year-old experience was bad; I think that that year was perhaps the most formative year of my entire life, even if it wasn't quite as relentlessly entertaining as the six months I spent in India. It may also explain why my family is so close; if four people can spend a year in a two-bedroom apartment, with only the Voice of America radio and occasional visits from completely insane representatives of the World Bank to alleviate boredom, and refrain from killing each other, then clearly they can survive anything.

Anyway, the book was about an elderly Ukrainian immigrant in Britain who is lured into marrying a 36-year-old newly-arrived Ukrainian who has overstayed her tourist visa, and how his two daughters try to rescue him from this disaster. I could just picture the gold-digger woman, with her love of trashy luxuries and status symbol cars/appliances--the fall of communism created some crazy characters. But, I also liked that the book touched on the wartime experience of the parents and the eldest daughter; the parents survived Stalin's enforced famine of the 30s, only to end up in a forced-labor camp in Germany with their five-year-old daughter, before a twist of fate and geography allowed them to emigrate to Britain at the end of the war. The younger daughter, born in Britain, never fully understood how different her experience was from that of her sister, and I loved how she came to realize some of this over the course of the book. Of course, I'm a sucker for all things related to Ukraine, the Soviets, and the Nazis, so I may have liked the book better than most. But, the writing was very quick and sharp, and the story/characters were believable, so I enjoyed reading it and highly recommend it.

Now, though, I need to go to bed; I have tons to do tomorrow, and my flight leaves tomorrow night! Here's hoping I don't get stranded in some random airport...goodnight!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

she's got a ticket to ride

Ugh. Today was kind of brutal. I had to be at the office at seven a.m. for a conference call (I prefer to say 'before dawn'--true, and much more dramatic), and things stayed very busy until five (to the point that I had to eat lunch in a conference room during yet another meeting). I left work around 5:30, did laundry and dropped off nearly $100 in dry cleaning (which explains why my appearance has slowly deteriorated from 'business casual' to 'casual casual', since most of my sweaters and cute skirts were in dire need of a chemical bath), grabbed some dinner, folded the aforementioned laundry, took a twenty-minute nap followed by a shower, and then worked for ~3 hours. Fun, huh? But, I worked while watching 'The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou'--actually, I didn't watch much of it, since I was being productive, but I love the scene where they rescue Jeff Goldblum, and I saw snippets of some of the other classic moments. Awesomely enough, I discovered that the kid who gets stabbed in the shoulder by the pirates is the same actor who plays the young, awkward whiz-kid protege in 'Criminal Minds'--he's made quite the step up from playing 'Intern #1!' Now if only he could wear a red beanie and a sky-blue Speedo in 'Criminal Minds', I would watch that show all the time.

Now I should go to bed; tomorrow promises to be more of the same (meetings most of the day, starting at eight a.m.). I can't complain too much, though, since I only have to work two more days between now and the end of the year. Yay! That suddenly put me in a better mood, so I should go to bed before the feeling disappears.

Monday, December 18, 2006

come sail away with me

You know it's Christmas when the Corona commercial with the light-bedecked palm tree and the whistled version of 'O Tannenbaum' is showing. They've been using that commercial for at least ten years; it's almost become a traditional part of the Christmas season.

I had a decent day at work; we had our Christmas exchange this afternoon, and thanks to some stern rules, no one brought store-bought cookies, which means that I didn't have to exchange my chocolate chip chewies for Oreos or Chips Ahoy. Yay! After work, I came home and hung out with Claudia (who agreed that Vidya could call her 'Santa Claude' between Halloween and Christmas; I thought this was an excessive length of time, but I kind of like it in this week leading up to Christmas). Claudia brought smoked salmon, a cucumber, and an avocado, so we had delicious sammiches, followed by tea and random cookies.

The highlight of the evening, though, was the History Channel's hour-long investigation into 'UFOs of the Bible.' It wasn't as good as 'The Search for John the Baptist' (chronicled here), but it was pretty sweet. Basically, they had a bunch of 'UF-Ologists' to discuss how every apparition of angels was actually a UFO. Claude and I had fun making fun of the idiots, particularly the guy who was listed as a 'Presbyterian minister/author', but was wearing the same collar as the Catholic priests, which I'd never seen on a Presbyterian. How can you be a minister if you claim that Elijah was abducted by aliens? Anyway, the best part of this was that in the middle of the episode, an unexpected knock came on my door. It turned out to be a pair of missionaries trying to convert me! I was unusually rude and didn't let them in or even really talk to them. Mostly, it would have been so weird for them to see that I was watching 'UFOs of the Bible'--I never would have been able to get rid of them after that!

Claude hung out for a bit longer, then left; I'm now watching 'Scrubs', and am going to paint my fingernails, let them dry, and then go to bed. I have a conference call at the brutal hour of seven a.m. tomorrow, which could very well kill me, so I should go to bed!

Lastly, but not leastly, happy birthday to my mother (aka Jeannie-baby)! And, happy birthday to Vidya (aka Vidius Chandicus)! You share a birthday with Brad Pitt, which makes December 18 infinitely better than, say, September 11 :(

it's a steady job but he wants to be a paperback writer

I've watched far too much 'Lord of the Rings' this weekend. If Tammy was here, she could talk some sense into me--but I'm safe from her sense-talking, so I gave in to temptation. I watched 'The Fellowship of the Ring' last night while I was transferring files from my work laptop to my new laptop (no, not work-related files, but I had about 20gb of music and photos that I wanted to swap over, which took a not-insignificant amount of time). Today, I had intended to get something done (nothing in particular, just 'something' so that I would feel like a productive member of society), but instead I got out of bed at noon, showered, and turned on the tv while I made a sandwich. Much to my dismay, TNT was running an all-day marathon of the 'Lord of the Rings' movies. I watched a bit of 'Fellowship' while eating a late lunch, then pried myself away around the time they got to Moria because I had an appointment for a facial. When I got back, I watched a bit of 'The Two Towers', then went out and had dinner at Baja Fresh. I was semi-productive when I got home and whipped up a batch of chocolate chip chewies for a cookie exchange tomorrow; but since I can make those in my sleep, this wasn't a tremendous accomplishment. Then, I watched the entire 'Return of the King'. I could have put in my own DVD, which would have resulted in much better quality, but my DVD is the extended version, and so even without commercials it would have been approximately the same run-time.

I always cry at the end of 'Return of the King'; granted, the end lasts around forty minutes, but I'm speaking of the very very end, when Gandalf and Frodo say goodbye to Sam, Merry, and Pippin. There's something about saying goodbye to someone when you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you won't see them again--that type of scene always touches something deep inside of me. It hasn't happened to me that often; in fact, the only time I knew it was forever was when I said goodbye to my grandfather for the last time, on my way back to California at the end of spring break my sophomore year. The other times, it was driven home after the fact that it was the end, or whether or not it was the end had yet to be decided. With both India and Ireland, there was the chance that I would go back, if only for a week or two; and yet with both of those experiences, there are now lots of people whom I realize I will most likely never see again. It's a different sort of sadness than if they were dead; rather, it's an acknowledgement that, regardless of what you have shared in the past, your futures will never intertwine. That type of separation happens all too frequently, even though it's admittedly mitigated by today's forms of communication. I would say it must have been worse to say goodbye to someone 200 years ago, when they were setting out for the West and never returning; but today, if you say goodbye to someone physically but then do not take advantage of phone or email, then you're probably more culpable for the death of that relationship than you used to be.

Maybe the sadness I feel for the lost friendships from Ireland, India, and even high school and college, is not that I've lost touch, but that I never made an effort to keep in touch in the first place, which perhaps says something that I don't want to hear about my openness toward making and keeping friends. I do feel rather protective of myself, which means that while I make casual friends easily, I have a hard time making and keeping those real friends who stay with you even when you're separated by distance.

I'm driven by my need to wander--I've started feeling that old urge again to pick up and move someplace else, even though I've told myself sternly that I should stay put and enjoy my time here. But by indulging my wandering urges, I smother my need for connection; it's difficult to connect with people when you're unsure of where you'll be in two months, and I'm both too misanthropic and too self-protective to keep making friends when I know that all that energy will have been wasted when I sever the ties.

Okay, enough of that! The rest of my weekend was uneventful; I finished my Christmas shopping yesterday, so that was good. Today's facial was probably good for the long run for my skin, although the extraction segment (which I'd never had done before) felt like the woman was stabbing me a thousand times with a thick needle. Actually, it may have been the 'leather punch' implement from a Swiss Army knife--I've always wondered what it was meant to be used for, and now I think I have a good idea. I have no idea what the implement looked like, since my eyes were covered. If the government is really looking for a way to legally torture prisoners, they should subject them to facials, bad massages, and Brazilian bikini waxes (which I've never had done, but I hear are quite painful)--extractions would eventually break even the toughest of men, and you would end up with some detailed confessions from terrorists whose faces would eventually rival our top models and actresses. Needless to say, my skin was red when I left (although not bleeding--so if it was a leather punch, she was v. careful), and so I found it hard to take the cashier at Safeway seriously when he flirted outrageously with me as I was buying eggs for my cookies. Not that I normally take flirtations seriously, but this seemed ridiculous, since I was wearing swishy pants, no makeup, and tortured skin.

So anyway, that's the price we pay for beauty, right? My skin does feel v. soft and the redness has subsided, so I may start going more regularly--although I don't like being preached to, and the aesthetician/face-stabber was horrified that I don't exfoliate twice a week. Oh, well, we shall see. Now I should go to bed--it's a short week since I have Friday off, and I leave Friday night for the home of my forefathers! Goodnight!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

mead is a cross between whiskey and mucus

I absolutely love Craig Ferguson. His monologues are always 10-12 minutes long (as opposed to 2-3 Letterman/Leno), and he has the most random thought processes--just like mine! Of all the stuff he covered in tonight's monologue, the train of thought that I remember is something like this: mel gibson - movies - eragon - sean connery - orlando bloom (weather forecasting amount of blood spilled after a red dawn) - medieval times - medieval dentistry/exorcism - dying from plague - mead - king arthur - nazis (and how king arthur couldn't stop the luftwaffe with his sword). Can you see why I love him? He managed to hit up Sean Connery, 'Lord of the Rings', the Black Death, King Arthur, and the Nazis in one monologue!!!! He is my hero!!!! To top it off, he had Dominic Monaghan on after the commercial, wearing a ridiculous bald cap and holding a brandy snifter while impersonating Sean Connery telling a touching family holiday memory about the time he broke his brother's leg and ruptured his spleen. I would love this show if only for the near constant Sean Connery references, but Craig Ferguson really has the whole package.

Today was nice; I went to work in my pajamas because it was pajama day, in a company-mandated display of 'fun'. It felt like high school--hopefully next quarter they'll do inside-out day or something. I'm not complaining, though; I wore the v. patriotic pajamas that Aunt Becky sent me in college, which are super comfy, and so it was a great day. I ran home and threw on some jeans after work, then met Claude for sushi at our favorite place in Menlo Park. I don't know how I ended up loving sushi as much as I do, given where I grew up, but it's awesome. I had miso soup, calamari tempura w/spicy mayo (yum), a crunchy shrimp and eel roll (double yum), and a piece of that weird Japanese omelette nigiri sushi that I inexplicably love. It was all v. tasty, especially since I haven't had sushi in at least six weeks. Then, I went to Shari, Ariel, and Aparna's apartment for a surprise birthday party for Shari; it turns out that they live about four minutes from me, so I'll have to make more plans with them. Tom and Julie were there, as was Bhavya, and so we had a good time catching up. Then, I came home, cleaned up my kitchen and sorted my laundry, then watched some TV while surfing the net. Now, the evening is over and I should go to bed so that I can accomplish all that I need to accomplish tomorrow.

One last thing, though. Today, the 'New York Times' published an edited list of findings reported by the U.S. Census Bureau. Two things struck me. One was that they claimed that only 10% of people in their twenties are under 5'6". I don't buy that at all; if you assume that people in their 20s are 50/50 male/female, and that all men are taller than 5'6" (not true), then 80% of women in their 20s would have to be taller than 5'6". I just don't see how that's possible. The great thing is that all of that must have been self-reported, since census takers don't measure people--and most people probably upgraded themselves an inch or two. I do it slightly; according to Walter and Allie, I'm 4'11.5", but I say 5' for both ease of use and for avoidance of the shame that comes with being under 5'.

The second thing that struck me was this quote: 'That might help explain a shift in what college freshmen described as their primary personal objectives. In 1970, 79 percent said their goal was developing a meaningful philosophy of life. By 2005, 75 percent said their primary objective was to be financially very well off.' Sad, huh? Especially since if all of them achieve their primary objective, it will just drive up the classifications for being rated 'very well off.'

Then again, I think that just stating that objective doesn't really make much sense out of context. More people go to college now than did in 1970; while this probably doesn't explain everything, it's conceivable that a higher percentage of college freshmen now are going with specific monetary goals in mind, because they're part of the first generation to go to college, or they're aware that it now takes a college education to get ahead; conversely, in 1970, college freshmen were skewed towards male (now, more women than men go to college)...and I could well be completely wrong, but college attendance back then depended more on ability to afford it, and also on whether someone wanted to serve (or was drafted, or avoiding the draft) in Vietnam. No wonder the 1970 freshmen were interested in philosophy--the 2005 classes aren't as worried about drafts, even if there is a war on, and many see college as a method to improve marketability, rather than a unique environment for self-realization.

So pretty much I don't trust the census, and I'm open enough to admit that I probably found faultin it because I wanted to disprove the height issue :) If you want to read the whole article, you can do so here; I'm going to bed!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

the two of us were made of angels' dust

Work was fine today; after work, I went over to a coworker's house to watch the one-hour Christmas episode of 'The Office'. It was hysterical; now that I no longer have class on Thursdays, I should perhaps try to catch that show more often. The other entertaining thing about tonihgt was that fourof us stood on her doorstep for ten minutes, ringing her doorbell, knocking, and wondering where she was--the lights were on, the fireplace was merrily crackling, and the TV was showing a football game. It was when we saw the channels of the TV changing to 'The Office' that we verified that she was in fact home--and luckily, then she finally heard us outside and let us in in time for the show. Turns out that she was in her massage chair, which is louder than she thought it was. I don't know if I buy it, but we got to watch the show, and her home was lovely.

Afterwards, I came home, ate the last leftovers of the potato-leek soup that I served my friends last night, and watched 'Shark' on CBS. I kinda like that show; better than '3lbs.', which was cancelled after only three episodes. Since I saw two of those episodes, I feel that I must have been their biggest, albeit lukewarm, fan. Maybe 'House' will buy some of their used sets, since they had lots of fancy faux hospital equipment that they'll now have to dispose of. Then, I wrote briefly in my journal before realizing that I was falling asleep. Now, I should take my contacts out and go to bed. The weekend is almost here! And eight days from now, I'll be on a plane to Iowa. Yay--and goodnight!

chemicals all rushing through my bloodstream

Today was one of those nice little days that surprises you by being so nice, when you had little expectation for them other than some boring gloom. I went to work, of course, and worked in the morning. Then, I had a lovely break for lunch with my friend Alaska Matt; we have fantastic lunches together, probably because he is more than a little crazy himself (must have been all those winters with no sunlight), and so I feel free to be crazy with him in a way that I'm not usually crazy at work. I offended him the last time we had lunch by comparing him to Jack Black, but I will take the fact that he accepted this week's invitation as an indication that he's still okay with me. I regaled him with my stories of Amsterdam (the stripper/sex-show part, not the hatred and despair part) since he is planning a trip there, and fun was had by all.

I worked more in the afternoon, and left around five p.m. to come home and prepare for my tea party. Vidya had sent an email a week ago inviting herself and Claudius over to my place for lemon cake--I like guests who are decisive enough to invite themselves over, invite other people to come along, and set a time and a food. Brilliant! So I had already made the cake last night--and I must say it wasn't one of my finest efforts. I mean, it was fine, but it wasn't as ridiculously moist as it usually is, so I'm going to have to try again sometime. But, I came home and made potato-leek soup and did a quick-and-dirty straightening of things around the apartment so that I wouldn't look like a total slob by the time they showed up, and I was mostly successful. And the soup, as usual, was delicious--it's so easy, other than the time-consuming bit of peeling and dicing the potatoes, and so incredibly good. We sat around and did nothing but watch 'Scrubs' and 'Top Chef', which was fun. I also convinced them to watch five minutes of 'King Arthur'. The sad thing was that both of them had paid to see it with me in the theatre, back when people still used to see movies with me, before they all decided that I have terrible taste and shunned me forevermore. That was around the summer of 2004, if I recall correctly. Anyway, the only good part of the movie was this scene where they have a fight on a big lake covered in ice. So Claude said that she would watch a few minutes tonight only if it was the ice scene--and when she flipped the channel, it *was* the ice scene. Victory! I pointed out how sad it would be if it turned out that we only get three wishes in life, and that she had randomly used one of hers on this movie, but I don't think that's true. It was great for me, though, since I got to see a brief snippet of the movie that I still get mocked for virtually every time I go to a movie now.

And that, my friends, is all. After Claude left, Vidya and I sat together on the couch and worked for awhile; she went to sleep on my couch [she lives in SF but works in San Jose, so it made sense for her to sleep here and go directly to work tomorrow] and I worked in my bedroom until ~1:15am. Now I desperately need to go to bed so that I can get up tomorrow morning. But before that, shout-out to Ritu - I hope that all is well and we can see each other in Iowa. Goodnight!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

there will be no dawn for men

As my more 'Lord of the Rings'-savvy readers will doubtlessly guess, I came home and watched the second half of 'The Two Towers' tonight. I think it's my favorite of the three, if only because of the Helm's Deep sequence, although I do like the Mines of Moria sequence in the first movie, and the Cracks of Doom sequence in the third. Anyway, I meant to work when I got home, but I thought that I could use the break--I was at work until seven, when I took a break for coffee with some of my coworkers, then went back to the office and had a conference call with Jogi at 8:30. I got home around 9:45, made a cake, and cooked some delectable scrambled eggs for a late dinner. I started watching the movie with the intention of working with it in the background, but I hadn't watched it in months (since I made Tammy watch it with me last spring, actually), and so I got sucked into paying attention. Damn. Oh, well, I shall just have to go into work early tomorrow and try to accomplish some stuff.

I was saddened to read Blender's list of the fifty worst artists in music history, if only because it confirmed my bad taste--many of them make frequent appearances on my playlists, and some are at the v. top of my favorites lists. However, I lik that their list skips #38--that makes me really happy, because I can clearly disregard everything they say. I've linked to the article here; the ones that I listen to are listed below:

47) Goo Goo Dolls ('Name', 'Slide', 'Long Way Down', 'Give a Little Bit', etc.)
46) The Spin Doctors ('Two Princes', 'Little Miss Can't Be Wrong')
40) Blind Melon ('No Rain')
36) 98 Degrees ('The Hardest Thing' - yes, I'm lame)
35) Paul Oakenfold ('Starry-Eyed Surprise')
34) Live ('Lighting Crashes', 'Selling the Drama', 'Hero of Love', 'Overcome')
30) Richard Marx ('Right Here Waiting')
29) Skinny Puppy (okay, this is Claude's style of music, but after I got over being scared of her, Skinny Puppy kind of grew on me)
28) Crash Test Dummies ('Mmm mmm mmm mmm')
24) Bad English ('When I See You Smile')
7) Asia ('Heat of the Moment' - one of my absolute favorite songs)
6) Kansas ('Dust in the Wind')
5) Starship ('We Built this City' - amazing!)

13/50 - that's essentially 25%. Sadness.

On that note, I should go to sleep so that I can get up at a decent time and go to work--wish me luck!

Monday, December 11, 2006

can i get your hand to write on, just a piece of lead to bite on

I was actually v. productive at work today, much to my shock; I figured that I would go in and spend the whole day dreaming of my new laptop, or egg poaching, or a white Christmas, but I managed to ignore all of those desires in the name of being a good little capitalist. However, I did get a package in the mail today that made me positively thrum with happiness--a small box from pendemonium.com, containing a new fountain pen and several bottles of gorgeous ink. The fountain pen is a green brushed aluminum, made by Lamy (a German pen company), and meant to be relatively disposable--not that you would use it and throw it away, but that it's not as expensive as a 'real' pen and so not as devastating if you happen to lose it. Since I was so close to losing my favorite pen this weekend (it was in the purse that was stolen, but I took it out at the last minute and left it in the console beside the driver's seat instead), it's nice to have this one, which I can take anywhere and trust that it will survive unintentional damage. I bought two of the inks mostly for the bottles; there's an American company called Noodler's that makes inks for foreign markets as well, and Pendemonium happened to have a couple of inks that were made for those markets--namely, Russia and India. I felt that this was fate, and so I ordered 'Tchaikovsky' (magenta-purple) and 'Upper Ganges' (blue)--no prizes will be given for correctly guessing which market matches each ink, other than a brief round of sarcastic applause. I love the bottles; all of the words are in Russian (which I can sort of make out) or Hindi (which I certainly can't), and colors are lovely. I also got 'Tianamen' (a dark red), and a classic blue color that flows very smoothly and will probably become my default ink for regular tasks.

I figure that if my brother can write endless posts about Chevy trucks, I can subject all y'all to a running monologue about inks and writing implements. But enough of that; let's move on.

Tonight I finished reading 'On Becoming a Novelist' by John Gardner. Now I want to go out and read 'Grendel', which I had borrowed from Claude for a couple of years but never got around to opening. Gardner taught writing at several colleges over the years, and the book I just finished ended up becoming a classic book for creative writing classes, perhaps more famous than his 'real' stuff. It was all quite interesting; he talked a lot about talent and how to improve it, whether and how workshops are helpful, what to do about the reality that you will probably never make it financially as a novelist (his advice: find a v. generous spouse--ha!), etc. The most interesting thing for me was getting insight into how his writing process worked--he was the type of writer who would agonize for days or months over a few lines of text, and he referenced one case where he wrote 200 pages of manuscript, couldn't figure out why one paragraph wasn't working, realized it was because it didn't fit with the other 200 pages, and so threw them out and started from scratch with that lone paragraph as the sole survivor. Talk about crazy.

If the class that I took this quarter taught me anything, though, it's that there's a lot of value in revision, even if it didn't teach me how to do it. After hearing comments from classmates, there were a lot of things that I recognized I would do differently. As you may know, I tend to procrastinate, and so I never had the luxury of extensive revision in college (including, horror of horrors, my honors thesis). I think I've always gotten by because my writing tends to be lucid on the first attempt, even if it is not particularly concise--and the lucidity propels me to the top of a heap of less-lucid writers, even if it is not the best effort that I can personally put forth. But, I'm going to have to teach myself (or take a class about) how to revise, because I can see how much more striking and wonderful my prose could be if I made it through a first draft and then went back through and polished, looked for new or hidden meanings, and reexamined my word choices.

Now, I'm going to write in my journal a bit before bed. The one bad thing about keeping a journal and a blog both is that I can't always remember what I've written where, with the consequence that I will probably end up repeating myself here even more than usual, or leaving out crucial ramblings that I thought were here but were actually in my journal. It's a good exercise, though--it makes me write more, both in volume and in honesty, and it keeps all of you appraised on whether I'm alive and, if so, what trouble I have most recently gotten myself into. So, look forward to continued (albeit inane) posts in the future. Onward, comrades!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

lemon trees on mercury

I woke up this morning with only fifteen minutes to get ready before I had to walk out the door and meet Terry for brunch. Luckily, I made it to Hobees, where we caught up on our respective lives over coffeecake and bastardized Mexican food (breakfast quesadilla in my case, huevos rancheros in hers). I don't think I really like Hobees; the food is intensely 'Californian', which is to say unnecessarily gourmet and casual at the same time. It has the same attitude as many things here, which is that it is inherently classy and sophisticated, and so it's okay for it to be a little bit sloppy and inauthentic. Anyway, the conversation at least made up for the food, and we went to Target afterwards, where I procured some toiletries. I apparently didn't learn my lesson about leaving things in the trunk of my car, since I just realized that I haven't brought the stuff in yet, but that will have to wait until tomorrow.

I got home and spent some time looking at computers online; I haven't had my own computer since I graduated from college, and I'm kind of feeling stifled by trying to do anything creative on my work laptop, filled as it is with spreadsheets and to-do lists. I saw a Sony VAIO that met all of my requirements, and it came in lovely shades of green and pink, so I decided to go to the SonyStyle store in the Stanford mall to check it out. When I got there, they were offering a big sale, and the green one was just as enticing as I had hoped--so I walked out with a new laptop. I added on two years of accident protection, which the salesman assured me would cover any damage caused by a fit of rage on my part (not that my temper usually extends to harming inanimate objects, but there's always a first), and I spent the rest of the afternoon playing around with it and setting it up. I really like it so far, although the keyboard is much stiffer than my work laptop's due to disuse. I probably should have waited to buy it, since laptops are pretty much obsolete before they even go home with you--but I figured it made sense to buy it before Windows Vista launches. I can upgrade cheaply when Vista does come out, but I'll let some other poor saps be the ones to discover all of the critical flaws that Microsoft's new operating system will doubtlessly ship with.

Now I think it's time for me to go to bed, thus bringing a v. topsy-turvy weekend to a close. Goodnight!

Saturday, December 09, 2006

forget what we're told, before we get too old

The last twenty-four hours have been more eventful than any day in recent memory. It was full of ups, downs, triumph, tragedy, shrimp families and misery. It's a good thing that I'm used to wild oscillations of fortune, or else I might be suffering whiplash right now. In case you want the brief rundown, the lows were that my car was broken into, I got completely soaked from walking around in the city, and I got absolutely nothing done today; the highs were celebrating Vidya's birthday, hanging out with Tom and Julie, and having dim sum with Claudia. Read on for more details...

Last night was dinner for Vidya's birthday, even though her birthday isn't for another ten days (on my mother's birthday, actually). Dinner was of course in the city, since it was planned by Vidya and Adit, and they both live in the city. So, I girded my loins (figuratively--I just like that phrase, and I'm not sure how one goes about girding one's loins anyway) and made ready to trek to the city. Claudia decided to go as well, so we rode up together. You all know how much I despise and loathe the city, so please keep this in mind as I recount the rest of the evening in detail.

It was raining steadily last night, but traffic ended up being relatively light, and so we made it to the restaurant a good ten minutes before we were supposed to be there. Adit and Vidya also showed up at the proper time, and then Adit told us that he had actually made the reservation for half an hour later. Smart, with that group, but annoying for me since I'm typically no more than five minutes late. However, the group consisted of almost 20 people, half of whom are v. flaky, and so a bunch of people were actually late for nine o'clock as well. I don't understand how you can possibly be forty minutes late for dinner, especially since the people who were late live in the city, but whatever.

We didn't actually get seated until 9:20 because a group of idiots refused to leave the table that we were waiting for--they had been finished when Claude and I showed up at 8:25, and by 9:15 they were still sitting there, ignoring the patently obvious signs of waiters taking away their water glasses and all of us glaring at them. But, things improved; I sat at the 'kids' table' with Tom, Julie, Claude, T&J's roommate, and Justin, which was a great deal of fun. We also realized that we were essentially the 'other' table, since the main table of 12 was almost entirely Indian, while we were a mixture of white, Mexican, and Asian.

Anyway, to make a long dinner short, Tom and Julie convinced me to stay the night with them, so that I would go to the karaoke bar that the party was supposed to move to after dinner. I had not intended to spend the night in the city, but allowed myself to be convinced, and so we got the party started w/a couple of bottles of wine at dinner. Then, we walked the two blocks to the karaoke bar, where Adit flipped out when he discovered that there was a $7 cover charge, and so rallied the troops to go to a different place and dispersed the group into a couple of cabs, while a third group started walking back to their car. However, as we were in the cab, Vidya called us all back because it turned out that some of her friends were already inside the bar. The result was that we paid ~$10 for a cab to drive us in a big circle around the karaoke bar, which was probably better than the result for the group who walked several blocks and then turned around and walked back in the rain.

The bar was fun; we sang several songs rather poorly, to the dismay of the other people there, who seemed to be some weird subsection of heavily-made-up punks who like to karaoke. Better yet, the drinks were both cheap and stiff, so I had several cosmopolitans (my biggest weakness) and was quite happy by the time we left around one.

The party decided to decamp to Tom and Julie's apartment, and so Claude and I went with some people who were capable of driving. On the way back to their car, we stopped at my car so that Claude could get her bag--only to discover that someone had broken into the trunk and taken her bag, my empty purse, and the lamp that I had purchased at Bed Bath and Beyond but had not yet taken into my apartment. It's a complete mystery to us how this happened; we remember me shutting the trunk, and nothing looks damaged, but they didn't break any of the windows. They also didn't take several other choice items in the trunk--namely, my jumper cables, some cds, a supersoaker, and a book of 'Jerry Springer's Wildest TV Moments'--so it was all very odd and mysterious. Also annoying, of course--I liked that lamp, and I loved that purse, and now they're both gone, and doubtlessly tossed in a dumpster, since it's not like they'll do anyone much good. It was somewhat worse for Claude; luckily she had taken her ATM and driver's license with her, but she had to cancel a couple of credit cards (one of which had already been used), and she lost a pair of shoes, a jacket, her car/house keys, her Stanford ID, and the book she was reading. So I ended up picturing some thief sitting someplace reading 'Freakonomics' by the light of my lovely brand-new lamp--granted, he would have to steal a lightbulb as well, but this shouldn't be too hard for someone with his prowess.

So anyway, both of us were too inebriated to do much more than stare in shocked dismay at the half-empty trunk, then close it and go to Julie's place anyway. On the way the to the car, I virtually ruined my wasabi green Uggs--they'll be fine once they dry out, but they'll never be quite as supple again, alas. Once we got there, we played Taboo for awhile, which was fun, and then everyone left. I slept with Julie (hot) and we shared thoughts and secrets before falling asleep, just like all good sleepovers. However, I do not want to make a habit of staying over in the city; this is the second weekend in a row that I've spent Friday night in someone else's apartment, and the result is that I don't get a lot done the next day.

Today was particularly non-productive; Claude and I didn't leave the city until 11:30ish, 'cause we had to take a cab back to my car [I had been having lovely visions of a bunch of vagrants setting fire to my tires and dancing around the charred ruins of my car, but it wasn't damaged]. Then we stopped in Millbrae for dim sum at our favorite place; the staff still recognizes us (or at least me), even though I've only been there once in the last eight months. I suppose a white girl with a hot-pink fur-trimmed bomber jacket is pretty noticeable in a crowd of Chinese regulars, especially since I used to show up every weekend with my loudest friends in tow and eat the most random things on the menu. So we had steamed bean curd w/pork, har gar (aka shrimp dumplings aka shrimp families), bbq pork buns, deep fried shrimp in bean curd, and egg custard pastries. Tammy and Shedletsky would be sad to know that they weren't serving the egg custard buns today; I couldn't understand Wendy (the crazy waitress) completely, but it seemed that they might be gone for good :( The sadness I felt about that was compounded by complete nausea when I caught a whiff of the sickeningly-familiar pigs' feet with petrified egg in black vinegar sauce; the black vinegar sauce smell is enough to make me want to retch. We also were treated to what I called a 'parade of horrors', since the tripe cart, the pigs'-feet-and-vinegar cart, and the cart of sadness all went by at once, then got stuck in a traffic jam by our table and remained there for far far too long. The cart of sadness still has all the same old sad things--several varieties of chicken feet, the 'ocean jello' (whatever it is is a bunch of lesser-known sea creatures in clear gelatin), the marinated duck tongues, and the oddly jiggly mango jello that should not be there and so therefore must be terrible.

Okay, so we had dim sum, then I took Claude to San Jose so that she could get the spare key for her car. I took her back to campus, where we discovered that her car is too stupid to recognize that she had the key for the car; without her keyless entry device, the car thought she was breaking into it when she unlocked it with the key, and wouldn't even let her start the car. We sat there for ten minutes looking like we were trying to steal it before giving it up; I suggested that we tow it to the city and leave it sitting at the corner of 3rd and Folsom, since our thief from the night before might be able to help us out, but we decided against it. So I brought Claude back to my place, where we sat until her mom came to pick her up.

I watched Food Network for a couple of hours and had a sudden urge to cook; so I ran to the grocery store and picked up some stuff, then made a truly amazing dinner. I taught myself how to poach eggs and did it perfectly on the very first try. So, I made sort of a hash of cubed potatoes, onions, peppers, andouille sausage, and cayenne pepper, and placed two poached eggs on top. It was incredibly delicious, and pretty easy since I already had the onion/pepper mixture chopped up and waiting in the freezer.

I would fix this for myself for brunch tomorrow, but I'm already committed to going to brunch with Terry. I was supposed to go back up to the city tonight for Brendan's party, but after my experience in the city last night, I wasn't in the mood to drive back up. Now I should go to bed so that I can recover from today's events--and I hope tomorrow brings more of the same, since last night was a blast. I'm always happiest in the midst of chaos, so this weekend has been perfect so far.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

'cause it takes something more this time than sweet, sweet lies

I'm done with the song game - while I appreciate the suggestion for #22, I'd never heard the song myself, and so couldn't use it. I'm sure I could have come up with something if I'd thought long enough, but to be honest it's beginning to feel a little bit restrictive, and it was going to come to an end soon anyway. Farewell, song game! Of course, I'll still use lyrics as titles all the time, but I will no longer be held to a strict numerical pattern.

I had class tonight, and it was rather heartbreaking--it was the last one, which brings with it that whole, weird, 'I-will-never-see-these-people-again' feeling. You never know what the future holds, so I may see them (particularly in other classes), but it's doubtful. This class was strange because it encouraged a certain amount of almost unnatural sharing of emotions and vignettes from each others' lives with a group of complete strangers. The fact that this was a class, with a set of people who were committed to discussing the stories but were not committed to forming a bond outside of class, was in some ways very freeing--and in some ways very depressing, because I would like to continue this dynamic but know that it's not meant to be.

The class tonight was also heartbreaking because several of the stories dealt with relationships, particularly depressing and/or dysfunctional relationships, and it brought to mind all sorts of memories and experiences that I would just as soon forget. But that raises the interesting question of whether you really would prefer to 'just forget' something. Everything that happens in the past, good or bad, contributes to one's sense of self and to all the choices that come after, and so if I were to forget certain things, I would essentially have to sacrifice months/years of my life, and I would be a v., v. different person. Of course, maybe I wouldn't be a different person; maybe by the time some of these relationships happened, I was already so far along the path to personhood that I would have ended up in a similar situation even if it wasn't with the same individual(s).

Then, I get into the question of who exactly I'm writing this blog for. I'm not exactly writing it for myself--while it serves as a great record of what I've done, and I'm so glad that I have extensive posts from my India and Ireland trips, I don't feel quite free to share everything I'm thinking about. I also don't know if it would be a good idea to share everything; to quote Billy Joel (probably thrilling half my family), 'we all have a face that we hide away forever'. My hidden face manifests itself more in my written journal, but it would feel strange and extremely discomforting to share absolutely everything here.

So if not for myself, then for whom? In many ways, I write to let people know that I'm still alive, even though there shouldn't really be concern that I'm not. I also write to maintain contact with family and friends. However, there's an inherent unfairness with this; most of my family/friends don't blog with any frequency, and so regular readers know the minutiae of my life while I sometimes have very little idea of even the bigger aspects of theirs. Also, the blog can give a distorted sense of what's going on with me--I've learned some harsh lessons about openness, and so while I blog about what I *do* with others, I don't blog about how I *feel* about them. Since I don't blog about my feelings towards others, or about my job and colleagues, or about my opinions about politics/religion, this really does turn into a sort of narcissistic rambling about what I eat, where I go, who I see, and occasionally what's currently troubling me (without revealing too much detail). There is still value in having a blog, I think; even if I'm being opaque, writing things here can help me to clarify my feelings, and it keeps me in touch with the idea of writing things down even when I don't have time to write extensively in my journal.

I think that I need to remind myself sometimes that I'm only 25 and that I haven't necessarily gotten to know myself yet. I think part of the problem is that I have thought of myself as mature/grownup/adult since I was about ten, or possibly even earlier; I can't really remember thinking of myself as a child, even if I knew that technically I was. Granted, I'm more mature now than I was when I was ten--but I've always felt the need to control my emotions, take care of others, and behave in a rational manner (even if my thoughts and imagination are highly irrational). Despite the fact that I can't really remember feeling like a kid, I still haven't had quite enough life experience to be fully grown into myself. I'm interested in taking some time to devote solely to writing because I think it will help me to learn who I am, and to explore (and hopefully move past) some of the things that I've gone through and now have just enough distance from to start examining again. But the person I am now almost certainly will not be the person I am ten years from now, and even then I probably won't be completely convinced of who I am.

Anyway, I'm going to write in my journal awhile before going to bed. I meant to be done with this ages ago, but of course when I logged in to write, I discovered that I was finally allowed to switch to Blogger Beta, which I've been looking forward to for awhile, and so I played around with the template a bit. You probably won't notice any real changes, but I do like the labeling/categorizing feature, so hopefully I'll put that to good use in the future. Now, it's time for bed!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

there's a reason for the 21st century--not to sure but i know that it's meant to be

Happy Birthday, Emily!!

Today was a humdrum kind of day--I had a pretty good day, but nothing exciting happened at all. Tammy--you'll be happy to know that I watched the first half of 'The Two Towers' tonight while doing some work. Now it's time for me to sleep so that I can get up tomorrow and go to work. Goodnight!

Monday, December 04, 2006

i removed all your twenty-inch rims and i'm melting them down to build five-foot plates for the shins of my thirty-foot android

Walter may be the only other person in the world who appreciates Grand Buffet as much as I do. The lyric above is from their seminal song 'You're on Fire'. It's fantastic; they mention keeping a 'packet of locking-breaking tools in the treasure chest', among other things.

Anyway, I'm tired, so I'm going to go to bed soon. Today was pretty uneventful; I went to work, worked, came home, made spaghetti and some steak, watched a little bit of TV, read a little bit, played a little bit of sudoku, and now the evening is over. I need to get in gear and read all of the stuff for my short-story class; this is the last week, and I just remembered that I said I'd bring treats or something, so I suppose that means that I should bake something on Wednesday as well. And, I have lots of holiday-related stuff coming up; I got invited to a couple of different parties in the past few hours, as well as a couple that were already on the table, plus all the stuff I have to do to get ready to go home. The next couple of weeks are going to be insane! So, I should go to bed before I shoot myself in the foot by not sleeping enough. Goodnight!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

she's only eighteen, don't like the rolling stones - she took a shortcut to being fully grown

Thanks to Emily for pointing out that I missed number 18! This rectifies it; you'll go back to your regularly-scheduled 'twenty' the next time I post.

The weekend was fun. Friday night was my company's holiday party in the city, so I went up with the intention of dragging Vidya to it. It turns out that she practically had to drag me to it; when I got to her apartment, 'The Princess Bride' was on TV, and we got started watching it, and I didn't really want to leave. But, we left anyway--which made sense, since I'd purchased a dress especially for the occasion. Turns out that I shouldn't have, since I didn't even bother to take my coat off. In my defense, it was rather cold, and my pink down-filled bomber jacket was making its first appearance of the season. Anyway, the venue was huge, and they had set up smaller 'rooms' in these giant tents, each of which had a different theme and a different foodstuff. We went around to all of them and tried all of the food, which was quite fulfilling for both of us, and then we went home after an hour or so. It was well worth it, though, since the food was delicious.

I spent the night on Vidya's trundle bed (thus fulfilling a childhood dream of mine to sleep in a trundle bed), and we had crepes at the place down the street for breakfast. I got back to Palo Alto around noon, hung out in my apartment for awhile, and then went to a tea place to write in my journal. I stayed there for several hours; they serve loose-leaf tea in mini pots, so I had three pots of tea, a crumpet, and a lemon bar. Mmm. I must start going back all the time, since the teas are wonderful and the staff is friendly. Today, I meant to get up early and come to the office, but I didn't make it here until two. Then, I played around and wrote out my Christmas list, since I was told that I was in danger of not getting anything if I didn't provide some ideas to my family; then, I talked to my parents. All of this means that I didn't actually get anything done. I did about half an hour of work, then met Zach for dinner, then came back to the office and was actually productive for the last three hours. Now it's eleven p.m., and I have to be back here in ten hours. Ugh. Oh, well, I'm excited about what I'm working on right now, so it's not all bad. Regardless, it's time for me to go home and go to bed!

Thursday, November 30, 2006

tonight we're gonna party like it's nineteen ninety-nine

I had class tonight, and we discussed the story that I churned out last Sunday. Overall, I felt that the feedback was fairly positive, but I want to go back and rework most of the story; I think that it suffered because I rushed through it, and there was a lot of depth and clarity that was missing because I didn't have time for extensive editing and scene-building. Anyway, there's only one more class this quarter, which is sad and hard to believe! Luckily I'm taking another class next quarter, so I should continue to write (even if I do procrastinate like I always did in college).

Other than class, nothing exciting happened today, although I did have a v. nice lunch with Alaska Matt. Yesterday was better; I skipped out of the office at lunchtime to meet Vidya for ramen in Mountain View, worked awhile longer, then saw 'Casinoe Roayle' with Oniel. I loved the movie; Daniel Craig makes an excellent Bond, and the flick had a surprising amount of emotional depth given that it's about a rather brutal killer/spy going about the business of killing and spying. Although I must say that he made the worst secret agent ever, considering that his disguise while following an African bombmaker consisted solely of a tropical-print shirt, and that he ignored his supposed cover so that he could proclaim himself as 'Bond, James Bond' everywhere he went. I still have a lot of affection for Sean Connery because he's so damned crazy, but I'm interested to see where the Bond franchise goes from here.

This weekend should be both entertaining and relaxing. My company's Christmas party is tomorrow night, but I don't really want to go; I'm going up to the city to see Vidya, and if we decide to go, we can head over, but otherwise I'll just play with her. I want to see Zach this weekend, since we haven't seen each other in awhile, and I want to spend a lot of the rest of the time writing. We'll see, though; right now I'm too tired to really think about making plans. That implies that I should go to bed before I fall asleep on the couch with my contact scratching away at my corneas; goodnight!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

we were barely seventeen and we were barely dressed

I realize that I'm repeating seventeen, but my aunt made an excellent point. I think that if my parents' marriage has survived moving to Ukraine (and the resultant radiation exposure), having to raise my brother (just kidding!), and building a new house, they can survive a reference to my mother's absolutely least favorite song. And 'Paradise by the Dashboard Lights' is a wonderful song--much better than that silly 'Sound of Music' crap.

Speaking of 'Sound of Music' crap, Gwen Stefani's latest single, 'Wind It Up', features samples of 'The Lonely Goatherd', and even features her yodeling. Hot! Read this fantastically mean review of the song; I actually kind of like the song, but it's because I have terrible taste. You know I'm going to get the album when it comes out.

I don't have much else to report; I coordinated a big event at work and it went off basically without a hitch, and with a standing-room-only crowd to boot. Then, I came home and did laundry, read some stuff for my short-story class, and watched the last half of 'The Unit' and all of '3lbs' on CBS. It's amazing how much of a ripoff '3lbs' is of 'House'--and speaking of 'House', I'm predicting a very 'house'-y weekend, since I haven't watched any episodes in over a week. Now, though, it's time for bed!

Monday, November 27, 2006

you are sixteen going on seventeen, baby it's time to think

Today was fun; going back to work wasn't so fun, but I hung out with Lauren (aka Subz) at lunch, so that was a good break. Then, I found out that Felicia's in town, and we ended up having fish and chips at Rose & Crown (the English-style pub in Palo Alto). She's spending the night with me tonight, so this is going to be a v. short post--I should really go to bed so that I can get up tomorrow, take her to the train station, and then go to work. It's been great hanging out, though, even if it did open up all of the usual discussions about what's going on with our lives and what we'd rather do than what we're currently doing :) Hopefully that rather jumbled sentence made some semblance of sense.

Okay, my language is all tortured tonight--I think I burned out my language capabilities while working on my story yesterday. I signed myself up for more pain next quarter--registration for winter quarter opened this morning, and I signed up for the 'writing comic fiction and memoir' class, which will unfortunately conflict with watching 'Lost', but I suppose artists have to sacrifice to make progress, right? Now, though, I really should go to bed--morning will come all too soon.

But, one last note for my family: as I was giving Felicia the grand tour of the apartment, we found a box elder bug crawling across my kitchen floor. Those bastards are hardy little creatures! This one clearly rode over in my luggage and has been hanging out in my apartment for three days. Damn them!

sixteen just held such better days, days when i could still feel alive

I did nothing today but work on my story for class. I was supposed to go to see the new Bond movie with Claudia and Oniel, but my head has hurt for days and I was feeling rather weak, so I called them an cancelled. Lame, right? Then I intended to go to bed early, but I started writing again (I had written all afternoon at a couple of different cafes in the area) and ended up finishing the story around eleven, then typing and editing it until three minutes ago. Now it's as done as it's going to get, and emailed out to my classmates, which means all I can do is wait in agony until I hear the critiques. I'll post it tomorrow, but right now I'm too tired to be bothered with such nonsense.

Instead, I will leave you with this horrifying story that I read on CNN: http://www.cnn.com/2006/US/11/25/bookcase.death.ap/index.html

This chick had disappeared and her family had been looking for her for two weeks--but it turns out she had been trapped behind her own bookcase and died! Awful!

On that note, it's time for bed, so that I can get up and go back to work tomorrow, yay. I can't try the whole 'I-fell-behind-the-bookcase-and-can't-come-to-work' excuse, unfortunately, because by bookcases are Ikea sets that would fall over if I leaned a book against them the wrong way, so that means I really should get some sleep.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

it's raining in baltimore, fifteen miles east

Happy Thanksgiving!! I celebrated mine in true Midwestern style; we had dinner at 2pm (supposed to be one p.m., but slightly delayed due to a turkey that refused to finish cooking), and so I stuffed myself with turkey, stuffing, mashed pototoes, gravy, corn casserole, green bean casserole, homemade rolls (with homemade plum jam!), and pumpkin pie. Mmmmm. It was exactly what I would have made if I had been in California, but my mother made it instead, which is what I give thanks for on this Thanksgiving :) Also, I wouldn't have made my piecrust from scratch--my mother did, and she had one left over when she was making them yesterday, so we enjoyed a chocolate meringue pie yesterday that has to be one of the best pies in the history of the world. I'm going to have to experiment with pie-making, if only because my mother hates cherry pie, and that's one of my favorites.

The only attendees of this Thanksgiving batch were my sister and her family, my grandmother, my brother, my parents, and me. We were pretty crowded around our dining table, as we have been for the past couple of decades, so I can't wait until the new house is finished. I've gone out to look at it a couple of times since coming home, but it's hard because I just want it to be finished--mostly for my parents' sake, so that they can start thinking about something other than cabinets and light fixtures and paint schemes. Luckily for me, I get to go back to California tomorrow and leave it behind until Christmas--it won't be done then either, but they should be moved in by spring.

Now I should go to bed; I have to wake up tomorrow and finish packing so that I can go to the airport and catch a flight back to San Francisco. Goodnight!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

in eighteen fourteen we took a little trip--along with colonel jackson down the mighty mississip'

I'm using this lyric for 'fourteen' rather than 'eighteen' because there are plenty of lyrics about eighteen-year-olds, but many fewer songs referencing fourteen--must be something about the varying legality of sex with individuals in those age groups.

I didn't do anything worth mentioning today, but I shall proceed to mention it anyway. I slept until noon, watched a couple of hours of the afternoon soaps, got angry about how annoying the Dr. Phil show is, then hung out and did nothing until dinner. I watched some more CBS evening programming, including '3lbs', their new show about neurosurgeons, which is basically a complete rip-off of 'House'--I read an article in which it was mentioned that CBS scheduled '3lbs' in that time slot to take advantage of people watching 'House' in the earlier slot and switching around to find another show that might interest them. It wasn't bad, but I'm much more excited about getting back to California and watching the rest of my second-season DVDs than I am about getting into another doctor show.

Now I need to work on a story; my parents are asleep and my brother's out of the house, so I may be able to get something done. We shall see, though. Goodnight!

Monday, November 20, 2006

while you were sittin' home alone at age thirteen, your real daddy was dying--sorry you didn't see him, but i'm glad we talked

Hello! Apologies for the hiatus; I actually completely made up the prognosis of my weekend on Friday, because I was flying home early Saturday morning as a surprise for my father's fiftieth birthday. I got into Des Moines around 1pm, rented a car, and drove the hour and a half south to my ancestral home. I managed to surprise my father (I think), but since everyone else knew I was coming home, the rest of it wasn't quite so surprising. I made it home in time for my father's night-before birthday dinner at the tavern that we typically go to when I'm home; they opened up the sliding door that separates the restaurant from the main part of the American Legion hall and set up tables for us in there. I had the most delicious ribeye steak that I've had in awhile (although the ribeyes that I George Foreman'd a few weeks ago were pretty stellar), while enjoying the company of my aunt and her scandalous boyfriend, my uncle and his wife and kid (who was totally rockin' a John Lennon haircut, but didn't know what I was talking about when I told him that), my sister, nieces, and nephew, my brother, my parents, my grandmother, and my grandfather's identical twin brother and his wife, who were visiting from Texas. That adds up to sixteen people, but unfortunately the room was too large for us to impact it with our collective body heat, and I was *freezing*--or perhaps I'm just spoiled from living in California.

It was weird to see my grandfather's twin, since they look so much alike and yet subtly different. But, it was good to see him too, and I'm glad that this surprise birthday visit just happened to coincide with their visit. We had another birthday dinner (with all of the aforementioned participants, minus my sister and her kids) on Sunday--but this dinner was at traditional dinnertime (12:30-1pm), rather than the traditional suppertime (7pm) of the previous evening's festivities. Gram made ham balls, which I have only ever had at her house; I don't think most people grind up ham and pork and cover it in a sugary/vinegary sauce, but they're delicious. Anyway, now the birthday festivities are done, and we can return to regularly scheduled programming until Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday. Then, I'm going back to California on Friday, so that I'll have the weekend to recover from everything I ate this week. Mmm.

I really need to write a story this week, since I need to email it to my classmates by the weekend, but I have no idea what to write. I could continue the story that I turned in last time, but I want to write something more meaningful/tragic. We'll see what we come up with, but for now I should go to bed!

Friday, November 17, 2006

annie's twelve years old, in two more she'll be a whore--nobody ever told her it's the wrong way

I was supposed to see the James Bond movie tonight, but there were massive constraints on my friends' schedules, and I ended up feeling too lazy to deal with them. So, I skipped the movie, and instead had dinner with Claudius at CPK. I had the roasted garlic chicken pizza because I'm incapable of ordering anything other than that when I go to CPK. It was great to see her--she's been busy applying to grad schools and I've been busy with work, so we haven't spent as much time together as usual.

This week was, as predicted, ridiculous, and next week will probably be ridiculous as well. I don't see things getting any better between now and the end of the year. The funny thing is that I've brought much of it on myself; I've been feeling more motivated at work recently (probably because I can only slack for a few weeks before getting completely bored and depressed), and so I've created all sorts of projects for myself. That's a good thing, but it's also exhausting, and the end of the year is always the most hectic time for my team anyway.

I don't have any exciting plans for the weekend; the top item on my agenda is to figure out which class I'm taking next quarter, followed shortly thereafter by writing the story that I need to turn in over Thanksgiving weekend. I should also clean my apartment in case I decide to have anyone over for Thanksgiving dinner, but given the fact that I feel like all of my friends either have family in the area or are going someplace else for Thanksgiving, my plans this year may be decidely low-key. A turkey sandwich and a side of self-pity is an adequate Thanksgiving dinner, right? Regardless, it can't be worse than the Thanksgiving I had my sophomore year of college; it was the first time I'd ever spent Thanksgiving away from my family, and I ended up having dinner in Wilbur Dining with Angela and the other random, sad-looking people who were eating on campus for Thanksgiving. Ugh. The very memory makes me want to throw myself off the nearest tall building. Luckily for all of us, I'm too lazy to go out and find a tall building, so I think I'm safe from that memory, at least for now.

I'm surprisingly exhausted, probably because I haven't slept enough recently, so it's time for bed!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

eleven pipers piping

I had a decent day at work, even if I got there later than intended; I was actually on track to be on time for my nine a.m. call, but some idiot had parked on the street and completely blocked my driveway. I debated getting them towed, but investigation indicated that they had a small child (there was a carseat), their registration had expired in July, and I inferred that they were visiting the clinic down the street from my house. I took the call from my couch, went outside at 10:30 to discover that the car was still there, but the car behind them had moved, so I was able to get out by cutting over the sidewalk. I felt too bad about calling the cops on what was probably a lower-income (which around here means $60,000/year) mother having trouble making ends me, so I didn't make the call--but on second part, she was probably just flaky and irresponsible. The expired registration could indicate laziness rather than poverty--or at least that's what my expired registration indicated last January. Sigh. Oh, well, if she's there again tomorrow I'll get her towed, and I will smirk while I do it.

I had a call at nine a.m., and I had a call at seven p.m., which made for a rather long day. I came home, watched a couple of episodes of 'House' (as though I need to tell you that), and now it's time for bed. I have class tomorrow, which I'm not ready for, but that's just an excuse to leave work early. After that, I'll only have two more class periods left! That means I need to decide what to do next quarter ASAP, but for now I'm going to bed.

ten hundred percent, ten hundred percent, never forget

Ohmigosh, I love Grand Buffet. They're this random rap/electronica band thing that opened for Wesley Willis several years ago in San Francisco. I shouldn't have gone to the Wesley Willis concert, but I thought it would be funny; turns out he just gave me a headache, but now he's passed away, so I guess it's questionably a good thing that I went. The surprise hit, though, was Grand Buffet, who stood out from the other two terrible openers by being completely insane. The title tonight is from one of their seminal songs, '1000 Percent' (pronounced 'ten hundred percent', and thus valid for my little game). They also have such great offerings as 'You're On Fire' and 'Let's Go Find the Cat'. The latter of those songs has the amazing lyric 'That little kitty's gone and we're out lookin' / I hope that no one really mean has took him'. Ah, memories.

I had a conference call at eight a.m. this morning, which I took from home, and then made it into the office in time for my nine a.m. meeting. I was busy all day, came home and watched two episodes of 'House' [fyi to Felicia--I didn't see tonight's new episode because I'm catching up with Season Two first, but I can't wait!]. Then I went over to Shedletsky and Joanna's for a bit because Jasmine was visiting for one night only from Seattle. It was great to see her, and I had fun hanging out with the Erics (come to think of it, three of the nine people in the room at one point were Erics!), Can, Brendan, Joanna, and Shedletsky as well. Now it's time to go to sleep; tomorrow is going to be frenetic, and I also have to get ready for my class on Thursday. Sleep well!

Monday, November 13, 2006

but when i kissed a cop down on thirty-fourth and vine, he broke my little bottle of love potion number nine

I'm going to have to assume that I'm not going to reach thirty-four in my title-game, and burn the 'Love Potion Number Nine' reference tonight instead.

However, I'm perhaps burning it foolishly, since I have nothing to report. I had a difficult time falling asleep last night, no doubt due to all of the sleep I had this weekend and all of the coffee/tea I had yesterday, but now I'm really tired, so I may actually go to bed before ten p.m. I got home around 6:15, made dinner (steak and spaghetti), and watched a couple of episodes of 'House'. Then, I started thumbing through a book on creative writing that I just got from Amazon, but I'm too tired to continue. So, it's sleepy-time insted. After doing laundry yesterday, I was able to put my flannel sheets on my bed, which definitely makes me feel all safe and cozy. It's been raining off and on since last night, which means that the rain is making all sorts of noise on my roof; this is the first time in awhile that I don't have a floor above my apartment, so I can hear everything going on with the weather. It's wonderful--not as wonderful as if there were blizzards or thunderstorms like at home, but wonderful nonetheless.

After one of the more boring blog posts in recent memory, it's time for me to go to bed!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

eight days a week is not enough to show i care

Last night, I went to the city for Vidya's housewarming party. As of the latest report (three minutes ago), she was not fined for the riotous ruckus that ensued, which is great. Claudius and I went up around sixish to have dinner with Vidya, Sri, and Mini beforehand; we had crepes, which may have almost gotten me over my hatred of the Dutch equivalent (pannekoeken, which I had in Amsterdam and absolutely loathed--but then again, when I was in Amsterdam, I was predisposed to hating everything around me, so maybe I judged it a bit harshly). My crepe was stuffed with cheese, tomatoes, mushrooms, and avocadoes--and my mouth is watering just thinking about it. As I told Vidya, I'm not any more likely to visit her more than once every three months--but I will now have to insist on eating there every time I do visit her.

The party was fun, if you like parties where you don't know anyone. Actually, it did get better; John and Jess showed up, followed by Tom and Julie, and so we had a grand ol' time. I wasn't drinking since I was driving, so perhaps I didn't have as much fun as some of the other people in the room, but it was nice nonetheless. And, the benefit of leaving at 1am was that there was no traffic coming home, so I made it home in half an hour and wasn't stuck watching someone else's bumper while creeping along at twenty miles per hour. Bonus!

Today, I woke up at the insanely early hour of eleven a.m., leisurely read the news (online, natch), then ran to the Stanford mall for some essentials that I had been avoiding picking up for weeks. By 'essentials' I mean 'foundation' and 'moisturizer', which of course extended into a lipstick and two tubes of lipgloss. I also paid my utilities bill and grabbed lunch, then came home and watched some figure skating thanks to a heads-up text from my favorite dealer of all things tangentially related to the Olympics (you may know my dealer as Tammy). None of the skating was particularly appealing; it was one of the first competitions of the season, so everyone seemed a bit rusty. There was an interesting interview with Johnny Weir, however, who has said that he wants to stop concentrating on offending people and start working harder to improve his skating. His method of not offending people includes a long program in which he portrays Jesus Christ (grown-up Jesus, not 'sweet baby Jesus' of 'Taladega Nights' fame). Actually, I don't know if he was grown-up or baby Jesus, since his program made very little sense conceptually. He ended up coming in third, unfortunately; this would have been acceptable if he had spent the entire interview showing off his Gucci purses and dozens of pairs of designer sunglasses, but since he's supposed to be working now, I demand that he land all of his jumps!! Just kidding, I can't wait to see whether he improves this season--and I must say that his interview put he more in line with the rest of the obviously-gay male figure skating crew. His interview during the Torino games made Brian Boitano look like Arnold Schwarzenegger, but this one made him look like your average closet case. I'll miss the old Johnny, but I'm looking forward to some good skating this year.

After watching some skating and fulfilling my weekly obligation to my parents (always a pleasure, particularly when I discover the unmentionable things that they're now adding to their to-do lists), I did several loads of laundry, then folded those loads of laundry while watching several episodes of 'House'. Granted, I could have folded all of my clothes in twenty minutes of silence, rather than 2.25 hours of 'House', but where would the fun have been in that? Then I caught up on some work that came in over the weekend, wrote the paragraphs above, and am now ready for bed. This week is going to be hellish--I have three pre-nine-a.m. meetings, plans to see Jasmine Tuesday night, an offsite and a conference call Wednesday night, and class on Thursday night. Then I need to spend the weekend plotting my next story for class, if I don't have to spend it getting caught up on work before the short Thanksgiving week. Ugh. The last thing I need is to get a late start tomorrow, so I should go to bed. Goodnight!

Saturday, November 11, 2006

all seven and we'll watch them fall--they stand in the way of love and we will smoke them all

I somehow managed to sleep for over twelve hours--that's what I get for not setting an alarm. Consequently, I didn't get out of bed until one p.m., which put a definite constraint on the amount that I could get done today. I played around on my computer for awhile, ran to Safeway to buy a package of tortillas, and then came home and made myself some danged quesadillas (with peppers and chicken that have been patiently awaiting me in the freezer). Now I'm sitting around for another hour before getting ready to go to zee city.

'Zee city', you say? Yes, zee city. I know that I frequently rail against the city and everything that it entails--difficult parking situations, dirt, too many homeless people, too many people in general, not enough space, etc. But, I have to go up--it may be Veterans' Day, which is better suited for somber reflection, but Vidya's having a housewarming party tonight, and I suppose I should go so that I can maintain the friendship. However, true to my slightly cantankerous ways, I'm going up early so that I can vacate when it begins to get more crowded; there will only be a few people I know there, so I have no desire to show up late and then stand soberly in the corner until it's time for me to drive home. Claude's riding up with me, which should be nice.

Last night, I had no plans as of 5:30pm--and then as of 5:45pm, I had plans for both dinner and a movie with two different sets of people. I had tasty enchiladas with Terry at Celia's (the Mexican restaurant that I believe my parents took me and Claudia to awhile ago), and then left her to meet up with Sri, Claude, and Oniel at the movie theatre to see 'The Departed'. Unfortunately, Oniel went to the wrong theatre and then decided not to come because he would miss the first fifteen minutes of the film, and Sri/Claude were late enough that we had to sit four rows away from the screen. The showing was surprisingly packed considering that the movie has been out for several weeks. Despite our poor seating location, I really liked the movie--it was much better than I anticipated, and by 'better' I mean 'funnier', so I didn't leave the theatre feeling unspeakably grim. Leonardo DiCaprio was fantastic, even though I wished that they had used 'My Heart Will Go On' as the background music for his sex scene, and Jack Nicholson was as maniacal as always. I especially enjoyed Mark Wahlberg's (aka Marky Mark's) character; I loved him in 'The Italian Job' and 'I Heart Huckabees', so I was happy that he was in this movie.

Now I should stop blogging so that I can be lazy for another hour before getting ready :)

Thursday, November 09, 2006

six a.m., day after christmas, i throw some clothes on in the dark

Phew, I just managed to pull out a song with the number six in it; this is the opening line to 'Brick' by Ben Folds Five, which I used to be obsessed with. I spent far too much time listening to this song, which is extremely depressing--or rather, the song is depressing, and it's also depressing that I listened to it so much during a now-distant period of my life. But, that's all in the past, happily. I've moved on to other ridiculously-depressing songs, but I still listen to this one occasionally and get a twinge of nostalgia.

I had class tonight, which was v. satisfying. I stupidly volunteered to bring in my second story a week earlier than I was supposed to, but I wanted to avoid having it commented upon during the last class period, because six people had signed up to bring stories for the last class, which seemed to be a bit much. Oh, well, now I have something to do over Thanksgiving--I'm having dinner w/some friends on Thanksgiving day, but I have no plans for Thanksgiving weekend, and I'm sure that I'll be through with the second season of 'House' by then, which will leave me with nothing to do but stare at the wall and wonder what will happen with my life [blame my pessimism on the fact that I decided to listen to 'Brick' after thinking of the lyric]. Now I just need to come up with a story! If only that were the easy part...

I'm trying to decide whether to sign up for another class. The Stanford continuing studies catalog is out now, and registration for winter quarter is at the end of this month. However, I don't know if I would get much out of another creative writing class. I'm tempted to take an actual literature class; I'm tossing around the idea again of applying to English grad school, and I'm sure that my application would be improved by a demonstrated and sincere interest in literature. Then again, grad school seems like an exorbitantly-expensive five-to-seven year 'vacation' from the real world that will come to a crashing halt when I have to scramble to find a tenure-track position, or risk teaching basic composition to idiots at a community college in North Dakota. Ugh. So, we'll see. But, I may take a six-month online course on English novels through UC-Berkeley Extension; it would have the advantage of putting me into contact w/a bona fide professor, and I think that I could learn a lot just from critiquing classic works. We shall see, we shall see. Now I should go to bed, though, so that I can go to work tomorrow. The weekend is already here! That means twenty episodes of 'House' and some Easy Mac. Yay.

five five five for my lonely

So the rule is that I can't use any song more than once, which means that Violent Femmes' 'Kiss Off' is now out of the running, even though they count up to ten. Sadness!

I don't have much to report; I had a pretty standard day at work, and then came home, where I tried to read the stuff for my short story class tomorrow. However, I didn't get very far because Jenni and Nick came over, and so we watched some 'Scrubs' and 'Office' reruns until 'Lost' came on. The episode sucked; it definitely wasn't enough of a cliffhanger to keep me particularly interested until February, which is when the show will start up again. They've really destroyed a great series. But hey, that's fine with me--that means that I can watch 'Criminal Minds' for the next few months without the nagging feeling that I might actually miss an interesting plot development on 'Lost'. Yay!

After they left, I watched a couple of episodes of 'House', checked my email, and now am blogging. As soon as I'm done with this, I'm going to go to bed so that I can go to work and crank through as much stuff as possible so that I can leave and go to my class. I can't believe class has gone so fast; I only have four sessions left, since we're off for Thanksgiving night and the class ends on December 7, when the Stanford academic quarter is over. I need to decide soonish if I'm going to take another class winter quarter. This class has been really good for me, and I've enjoyed it, so I'm tempted to sign up for another one. I also think that I need more discipline in my life, and being forced to do something regularly every week has been good for my underdeveloped sense of structure. Then again, I rebel against regularity, so who knows what will happen. What I do know is that I'm tired now, so it's time for bed!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

friend is a four letter word

Let's see how much longer I can keep going with the number titles--it's like a game of 'Encore', only with even less reward than usual! [for those of you who've never played 'Encore', it involves dividing into two teams and taking turns coming up with snippets of song lyrics containing the word listed on a card drawn when you go around the board. fun, but only if you like songs.]

I didn't end up watching much election coverage, since there wasn't much election coverage to be found on television unless I watched one of the lame all-news networks. How disappointing--but it was a great excuse to watch five episodes of 'House'. I watched a bit of 'The Daily Show'; they had one great part with Dan Rather, who said that Hillary Clinton won her Senate seat with this type of lead: 'I thought she ran away with it like a hobo with a sweet potato pie.' Ha!

The other great thing that happened today was when I was checking CNN.com earlier this afternoon to find out what was going on with the election, and discovered that Britney Spears had filed for divorce. The great thing about this was that it occupied the entire bright-red 'Breaking News' box at the top of the screen, which made it more important than any House, Senate, or governor race in the United States of America. Twenty years from now, I'm going to be casting a vote between Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton for president, but I'm going to stab myself in the face before actually pushing the touchscreen because I will realize that our society has finally collapsed. I can't wait!

Now it's time to go to bed--goodnight!

Monday, November 06, 2006

three is a magic number

I'm completely addicted to 'House'. I came home tonight and luckily forced myself to finish cleaning my kitchen before sitting down. After sitting down, though, I watched four episodes. I was able to convince myself to stop because a) the disc automatically shut off since there are only four episodes on each side, and b) there are only two more left of the season that I have, and I won't get the second season until it arrives from Amazon on Wednesday. Consequently, it's in my best interests to save a couple for tomorrow, since election coverage doesn't start here until later in the evening anyway for some inexplicable reason. It's almost like the media cares so much about getting everyone into a blinding fury about the election, but doesn't want to risk alienating the 60% of people who won't vote by cancelling their tv shows. Lame.

Anyway, work was fine today, but I was correct in my assumption that things are going to get busier. It won't be long before I'm working nights and weekends again, yay. I still need to write another story for my short story class, though, and I have no idea what to write about. I don't really want to continue the public storage story for the purposes of this class; I do want to finish it someday, but I'd rather try something new to get critiqued upon. But considering that my life currently consists of cooking and watching 'House' episodes, I don't have the most exciting drama to work off of.

I'm finding myself getting that old urge to do something drastic--chop off my hair (which I haven't cut since South Africa, so it could use it), move to a different office (Michigan, Delhi, Argentina), quit my job and practice yoga in some village in the Himalayas, etc., etc. It's too bad I'm not into extreme sports--this could probably all be killed by some sky- or scuba-diving. Then again, it could be killed by falling 10,000 feet to my death or being eaten by sharks, which would be much more permanent than the adrenaline rush I was initially envisioning. Anyway, I'll settle down and be good, but tonight I really just want to be in some third-world hellhole, rather than my posh Palo Alto apartment. Instead, I'm going to go to bed so that the urge to run off to the hills subsides. Goodnight!

Sunday, November 05, 2006

two can be as bad as one

I saw 'Borat' today with Claudia and Oniel. It more than lived up to my expectations. It's rare that I pick a movie that a) lives up to hype and b) doesn't alienate my friends, but this particular one was a winner. High five!

The movie was also thought-provoking, in the way that all good satire should be. There were a couple of people in the movie who were clearly completely intolerant. There were also a lot of people who may or may not have been intolerant, but were too polite to actually say anything to stop Borat from being anti-Semitic, misogynist, or whatever he was being at the moment. This leads back to the always-interesting question of what you would do if confronted by an awkward or even evil situation that had no direct threat to you. Politeness is one of the glues that holds society together, but it is also a weakness that can be exploited by people who are looking for passive acceptance (or at least non-intervention) in bad dealings. The obvious, wildly hysterical leap is to say that not speaking up when someone is being anti-Semitic is one step away from permitting the Holocaust. There are a lot of steps in between those two extremes--but if I'm being completely honest with myself, I would say that there are several situations in the movie that I probably would have played along with as well. I'm sure that if I were a gun-seller and someone asked me which gun is best for 'hunting Jews', I wouldn't sell the dude a gun. But, for all the years that I spent studying the German resistance, I still can't say with 100% certainty that, confronted with the same situation, I would have the strength and courage necessary to do the right thing. I think I would have the strength and courage to be part of an active resistance, but I don't know that I would feel powerful enough to stop such a thing in the first place. These ramblings are rather depressing for a Saturday night--but they are worth keeping in mind, since such reflection is necessary to help shape one's belief system *before*, rather than after, an earth-shaking conflict/collapse happens.

After the movie, the three of us chatted for awhile, and then I came home. I was going to accomplish all sorts of stuff, but I ended up looking up recipes on the internet, eating the other steak, going to the grocery store, and watching four episodes of 'House'. I decided to try making a breakfast casserole for tomorrow, since this will cut down on prep time at the moment of arrival; I was able to mix up the casserole tonight, so all that's left is to pop it in the oven and then make some fried potatoes and french toast. Mmm. In light of my brunch plans, I should go to bed, since I'm exhausted. Goodnight!

Saturday, November 04, 2006

one is the loneliest number

One may be the loneliest number--which is why I bought *two* ribeye steaks tonight, so that I could eat one tonight and one later in the weekend. Mmmmmm. Best decision *ever*. I also bought two delicious baking potatoes. So, after running errands and coming home tonight, I opened a bottle of pinot noir, baked a potato, cooked a steak (I should have just seared it--the fact that there was only a bit of blood on the plate shows that I overcooked it) on my George Foreman grill, and watched four episodes of 'House' while drinking two-thirds of the bottle of wine. This was not extravagance or alcoholism on my part, considering that it spanned three hours or so. It was, however, social avoidance at its most glorious. I'm going to be moderately busy the rest of the weekend, since I'm seeing a movie tomorrow and having some people over for brunch on Sunday, and I have a feeling that this last week was the last period between now and sometime in January where I will be truly relaxed, since the next two months are part of the frantic end-of-fiscal-year, end-of-calendar-year, crazy-holiday season. Yippee skippee.

I'm really in love with 'House'. I mean, it's a doctor show, *and* the theme song a lyricless version of 'Teardrop' by Massive Attack, which I've always loved. The fact that they can combine doctors and Massive Attack means that this show was designed for me. Watching doctor shows always makes me think that maybe I shouldn't have been quite so quick to give up on my doctor dreams when I discovered the disgusting 'miracle' of childbirth in second grade. Then again, I feel a lot of sympathetic pain when I'm watching people get hurt in movies--but perhaps I wouldn't feel it if I were deliberately cutting a hold in someone's trachea. Hmm. All of this is pure speculation, though, since I moved off the doctor path long ago. It's interesting, though, that I chose Stanford because of its engineering program--I thought I'd end up in biomedical engineering. Look how the mighty have fallen.

Maybe the pinot noir is making me feel maudlin, or perhaps it's making me feel overly arrogant, but I think that I've been a little unhappy recently because I don't feel intellectually challenged by anything. It's funny, because in general I don't feel like I'm noticeably smarter than other people, but then one of my friends will casually say something about how I'm one of the smartest people they've ever met--which has to mean something, since this friend went to a top university and surely came across other smart individuals.

This isn't meant to sound like I'm bragging. Instead, maybe it's a cry for help--things like that just somehow drag me back to high school, and I still have this vivid memory of my senior awards night, when I was cleaning up with medals and certificates for various achievements, and every time I came off the stage after another award, this one particular girl kept flashing the running count of how many awards I'd gotten. It didn't exactly feel supportive, though; it seemed like more of a reminder that I was *different* from the people around me, when what I really wanted (at the time at least) was a normal teenage life, with alcohol and drugs and illicit sex and all sorts of bad behavior. I chose to go to Stanford (or, if not Stanford, another top university) because I didn't want to be different anymore, but clearly surrounding myself with other dorky people wasn't enough. Whatever is missing in my life won't be solved by finding people who are smarter than me (which, ironically, would probably just piss me off--for all that I talk about wanting to fit in, I'm also extremely competitive).

Maybe the problem is that I feel like I'm overburdened by the weight of this gift, whatever it is; I still have enough of that old-school sense that you're supposed to *do* something with your gifts, and that gifts exist for a reason beyond just some weird fluke of DNA, which means that theoretically I should be using mine for something more than overseeing quality assurance of customer support interactions while multitasking by reading celebrity gossip blogs. So until I figure out what I'm supposed to be doing, I won't be satisfied; but right now I'm so dissatisfied that I'm not energetic enough to change things.

Okay, enough of this, I'm even starting to annoy myself. Time for bed! Tomorrow I'm seeing 'Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan', which should do a lot to help my mood. Until then, goodnight!

Friday, November 03, 2006

i come from a land down under

It's past my bedtime, but I figured there are at least a few of you who only use this blog to ensure that I'm still alive, so I decided to alleviate your fears. I've been busy the past few days; work is picking up again, I had some people over last night to watch 'Lost', and I had my writing class tonight. Last night was fun; I made french onion soup that turned out rather well, and Arod, Jenni, Heather and I watched what ended up being the best episode of the season thus far (perhaps that's not saying much, but it was still intriguing). Tonight's class was also good, and it made me excited about writing the next story that I have to turn in. It's not technically due until after Thanksgiving, but I want to try writing something other than the continuation of the story that I turned in last time, so I should start thinking about it.

Okay, lame post, but I'm exhausted--if you're lucky, I'll feel all introspective this weekend, in which case you're guaranteed to get an overly-long, overly-pseudo-philosophical rant about my life. Until then, though, enjoy your Friday!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

how is it november already???

Well, I think I'm glad that I had a quiet evening; after watching 'CSI: NY', I saw the first five minutes of the Bay Area evening news and found that the top breaking news stories were a mass shooting at the annual Halloween party on Castro Street in SF, and a bomb explosion at the eBay/PayPal campus in San Jose. I'm glad that I hate Halloween and don't work at eBay! Instead, I left work at a decent hour, met Claude in Menlo Park at our favorite tapas place, and indulged in some delicious bacon-wrapped dates and patatas bravas. I came home, watched some tv, and then ventured out to do some midnight grocery shopping for the french onion soup that I intend to make tomorrow night. Now I should go to bed so that I can get up early, come home early, and make my soup!

Honestly, though, can you believe it's November? That means I've been back from India for over a year. Crazy. I shall contemplate that during my all-to-brief dream-period tonight; goodnight!