Tuesday, October 31, 2006

they come from every state to find some dreams were meant to be declined

After work today, I went to Stanford University to visit the library and read the stories that were handed out in my class last week (and that I unfortunately couldn't pick up because I stayed home sick). It was *surreal*. One of the books was in the South Stacks, so I had to venture into the underground labyrinth that I believe is actually beneath Meyer, even though you can't access it from there. The other was in the Bender Room, which is one of the most gorgeous reading rooms in the entire place; clearly the Monday before Halloween is not a popular time to study, because I was actually able to find a comfy chair while I read a story and an interview with Tobias Wolff. Then, John called, which induced a v. strange sense of deja vu that was only heightened when I realized that his phone had auto-dialled me from his pocket, like it used to do all the time but hasn't for years.

The library complex was like a second home to me during the first three years of my college experience, although I never seemed to get much done there. It's strange to see it now, taken over by hordes of new students who all appear to be about twelve years old. It's also strange to go to campus and realize that there's virtually no chance that I'll run into someone I know. But, my time in the library woke up all of the half-suppressed longings in my blood to go back to school, back to the safety of academia. We shall see, we shall see. Now I need to go to bed--I have to get up tomorrow in time to put on some semblance of a Halloween costume before work. Ugh. Goodnight!

Sunday, October 29, 2006

show me a garden that's bursting into life

Okay, the weekend. As I mentioned in my belatedly-published post, I spent Friday night doing nothing, and by 'doing nothing' I mean 'watching 'Sahara'', which has to be one of the best bad movies ever. Then, I woke up on Saturday and actually motivated myself enough to go for a drive; I ended up in Salinas, CA, at the John Steinbeck museum. I felt that it was a bit overpriced for the actual content ($10.95 for an adult ticket, and I made it through in about an hour--and if you've been to a museum with me, you know that I read virtually every caption, so it's not like I was skipping content (although in the interest of full disclosure, I did skip the wing on California agriculture)). But, the museum was built rather recently and so was all shiny and pretty, which I suppose justified the high ticket price. I didn't find the museum itself particularly inspiring, but I found Steinbeck's quotes v. inspiring. This led me to make the twenty-minute journey over to the coast, where I ended up on Monterey's Cannery Row. Steinbeck wrote a book called 'Cannery Row', which I remember loving, but today's Cannery Row doesn't have much resemblance to the old Cannery Row; the sardine industry collapsed long ago, and Cannery Row now consists of the (admittedly great) Monterey Bay Aquarium, a bunch of new-age shops, and some soulless chain stores and restaurants. Still, the water was beautiful, and I had a relatively tasty fried-seafood platter as a late lunch/early dinner, so the trip wasn't regretted.

While I'm slowly beginning to feel trapped and suffocated by suburbia, by the vast expanses of concrete, the faux-Spanish architecture, and the endless rows of '70s-style two-story apartment complexes, the three hours I spent in the car yesterday did serve to remind me that there are areas of California that are rather unobjectionable--and by unobjectionable I mean beautiful. Going south on 101, once you get past the Gilroy outlet stores, there's some truly gorgeous scenery, and I loved the drive between Salinas and the sea. All along the coast, California has striking, rugged hills, and the better-preserved areas have tall trees and open fields. However, I must say that California's terrain suffers from the same uniformity as its weather does; the terrain is usually uniformly beautiful, just as the weather usually is, but it lacks the highs and lows that give a bit more thrill to other areas of the country. Not to say that Iowa is the most beautiful place ever, but the greens in the spring and summer are thrilling, perhaps because they are a balm to the soul after a winter of sullen browns and greys. And the sharp, biting cold of winter is almost welcome (and I can say this because I don't have to live it right now :) after the heat of summer, even if life would be easier if it was always 50-70 degrees.

I suppose the point of this is that I could stand to live in California if I lived in one of the slightly-more-remote parts, but I don't--and I think there's a part of me that will never be satisfied living someplace where there are no seasons. I'm wearing a thick sweatshirt right now because it's almost November, but since it was almost seventy degrees today, there's clearly something wrong with my perception of the real world. But, the drive was great, and I should do that more often--there is so much of California within a day-trip's drive that I haven't seen.

I got home around sevenish and started reading a book; in fact, I was already in my pajamas, curled up on the sofa, when the phone rang at 10pm. It was Shedletsky, reminding me of a party at Doug's that I had completely forgotten about, and telling me that I should come over because they were about to play Circle of Death. I'm powerless to say no to my favorite drinking game, so I dressed and made it over there in twenty minutes. When I realized that one of the co-partiers is now an RA in one of the all-frosh dorms and started college a year after I graduated, I had a slight twinge of self-hatred; but the rest of the people were comfortingly closer to my own age, so I got over it. We played not one, but two games of Circle of Death, as well as a couple of desultory games of three/four-person mafia and some Indian poker. The end result was that I had to sleep on Doug's futon, but since I had anticipated this, I had my pillow and blanket, so it could have been worse. I wasn't actually that intoxicated, but I don't condone drunk driving, so I stayed there until around 8am, then came home and slept until noon.

Consequently, my intentions of getting lots of stuff done today didn't really pan out. I had lunch at three, then called my parents, then tried to write my romance novel. I churned out a little less than 400 words but wasn't feeling it, so I stopped. Then, I made it halfway through Steinbeck's 'Travels with Charley'. I *love* it so far, and I'll post some favorite quotes, perhaps, after I've finished it. Now, though, I'm going to go to bed; I'm using the time change and all the contemplation I did this weekend to try to instill a bit of self-discipline, and so going to bed early is a good first step. Goodnight!

damn you blogger!

Apologies for being incommunicado--I had actually intended to be incommunicado all weekend, but I also intended to post the 'tb or not tb' post on Friday night. However, Blogger has been having issues and I wasn't able to post it, even though the post was saved in the system. So, if you thought I was dead, you can rest assured that as of 12:54pm (PST, not PDT) on Sunday, I am still alive and kickin'.

I had a great day yesterday, but I'm going to refrain from discussing it right now; instead I'm going to shower (desperately needed), find some lunch (not quite as desperately needed, and therefore priority #2), and then figure out my life. Have a great day!

Friday, October 27, 2006

tb or not tb

I'm watching an episode of 'House', and the title is 'TB or Not TB'. Ha! That's great.

I spent tonight watching 'Sahara'. The last time I watched that movie, it convinced me to take the Foreign Service Exam (which, btw, I failed, due to the fact that I was inspired to take it by a Matthew McConaughey flick rather than by a deep and abiding interest in denying visas to desperate people). This time, it just made me laugh. I love that movie, and it does make me want to travel into darkest Africa, but I'd also like to live to see the future, so perhaps I'll wait for awhile. Maybe I'll go there in a decade or so and buy a baby; that seems to be approximately how long it takes me to become aware of the latest fashion, and so I'll be picking out my very own African baby around the same time that the bona fide celebrities have moved on wearing meat helmets or something.

I've decided that I need to figure out my life this weekend, and so I intend to spend some time alone contemplating things and setting goals so that I have something to work towards, which should help to alleviate the disquieting feeling that I'm wasting my life by spinning my wheels. So, I'm going to stop writing, go to bed, and then contemplate. Goodnight!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

they do it all the time

I woke up this morning and made it to my seven a.m. conference call before it started, which was nothing short of miraculous. I also made it through the conference call and had breakfast, but was struck down around 9:30 by the same occasional bout of chills and nausea that I get every couple of months. It hit pretty suddenly, but I walked out of my office without looking back and made it home, covered in goosebumps, before throwing up. I slept it off and was feeling better by the afternoon, but didn't feel up to going into the office, so I stayed home. I also skipped my writing class, which was unfortunate, since the class is pretty much what I live for these days; so, to make up for my lack of artistic development, I read 'The Time-Traveler's Wife' by Audrey Niffenegger.

I'd picked up the book when I was in Dublin, on one of the many lazy Saturday afternoons I spent browsing through Waterstone's (the UK/Ireland equivalent of Borders) when I wasn't traipsing about the countryside or working all weekend. However, due to all that traipsing and the vast quantities of work I was applying myself towards while in Dublin, I didn't get around to reading it there. It's sat on the 'must read these books now' shelf for months, ever since I unpacked all of my books in July, and I've finally read it all the way through in one evening. Check another one off the list; only thousands more to go before I get through everything I want to read in this life. Anyway, I highly, highly recommend it if you like time-travel and devastating doomed love affairs--and really, who doesn't like time-travel and devastating doomed love affairs? The story itself moves fairly linearly, but is told from two perspectivies--Clare, the wife, who lives life in the normal straight shot towards the finish line, and Henry, who is also moving forward but occasionally pops into a different time for some undefined period. For her, they first meet when she's six and he's in his 30s; for him, they first meet when she's 20 and he's 28. Anyway, the writing was beautiful, the narrative threads were well-plotted even though it must have been v. difficult to keep the threads together when the characters' chronologies were different, and it was reminscent of 'Never Let Me Go' in that I cried rather unrelentingly for the last few chapters. Really, my 'must read these books now' shelf needs to get less depressing; I suppose it trends toward the depressing side because I buy interesting-looking books and then am never in the mood for the more serious ones, so I skim the surface and read all of the more entertaining varieties, gradually sinking the emotional average of the entire mass into some awful, havoc-wreaking quagmire, before rebalancing the pile by either reading a bunch of them at once (in other words, bingeing on depression) or buying a lot of new books to throw on top of the heap.

Now that I've written in my blog, thus fulfilling my obligation to all of you for another evening, I should go to bed so that I can go into the office tomorrow and do everything that I should have done today. Goodnight!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

baker street

Some of my expat friends came over tonight, and it turned out that the soup that I made last night was scrumptious despite my many and varied mistakes making it. I also made chocolate chip chewies, so that would have redeemed the soup regardless. Lauren, Arod, Jenni and I talked for a couple of hours, then watched the latest episode of 'Lost'. It was better than the previous three, but not fantastic--but of course I'll keep watching, because I can't give up addictions easily.

Speaking of addictions, I'm addicted to hitting the snooze button in the morning, but tomorrow I can't--I have a seven a.m. conference call, which is rather unfortunate. Then, I have to stay in the office all day, and then go to my fiction-writing class. So, I'm going to cut this short. Goodnight!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

what do you know about 'merica?

Randy Newman is on 'The Colbert Report' tonight--I hate that dude. Actually, I hate Walter for making me download Randy Newman's seminal song 'Short People', with the main line 'short people got no reason to live'. Also, I'm starting to get annoyed with Stephen Colbert--the jokes are always the same now. He started out as one of the funniest guest commentators on 'The Daily Show', and his show was initially hysterical, but it's kind of hard to keep a one-note joke funny when you're telling it every weeknight for a year. Then again, you keep reading this blog even though it's always the same, and I keep writing it even though I never have anything particularly new to say. Ah, the irony.

I'm rather annoyed tonight; I came home, then went to the grocery store and bought the ingredients for potato-leek soup so that I could make it in advance of tomorrow night's 'Soup and 'Lost'' evening. But, I wasn't paying attention to the leeks while I was chopping the potatoes, and I ended up burning them. So I ran back to the grocery store and got new leeks, cooked them perfectly, added the vegetable stock and the potatoes--and then added twice as much cream as I should have because I wasn't paying attention to the correct conversion of cups to pints/quarts. Dammit! It still tastes fine but it's not going to be potato-y enough, so I have the choice of either leaving it alone, or boiling some extra potatoes and adding more onion tomorrow when I heat it up. How sad!

But, I received last year's Christmas presents today, which was lovely--I now have my great mixing bowls that I've now officially wanted for over a year, as well as the Julia Child cookbook that my grandmother got me, the Russian and Indian cookbooks that my parents and brother gave me, and some jersey-knit sheets to add to my overflowing linen closet. Yay. I also got part of my Amazon order--I now have legally produced, non-blurred copies of 'Sahara' and 'Mr. and Mrs. Smith', and a book on 19th-century English women's fashions. Looking at the drawings was quite informative, and I can't wait to do some more research on the subject. Now, though, I should go to bed so that I can go in early, leave early, and figure out whether or not to attempt to fix my soup. Goodnight!

i sometimes hate stand-up comics

I'm watching the end of Letterman while finishing up some stuff I wanted to send out for work tonight, and I'm not impressed with the latest stand-up comedic offering. The guy wasn't bad, but he didn't hold my interest all the way through his sketch, unfortunately. I think I don't always like stand-up comics because many of them are so loud--and there isn't room in the world for so many people to be loud in addition to me. It's clear that I'm on my way to becoming a crazy, introverted hermit; I think cities are too paved and dirty, I get claustrophobic in crowds, I get tired of dealing with really loud groups, etc., etc. Clearly the only solution is to move to some backwoods cabin in Vermont or North Carolina or something and isolate myself from humanity. How fun would that be?

However, before I do that, I seem intent on significantly impacting the bottom line of Crate and Barrel. I spent half an hour in the parking lot of the nearest Crate and Barrel talking to my mother, which cut into my available shopping time, but I still managed to come away with six wineglasses (amazing that I didn't have wineglasses before, considering that I have every other type of drinking glass available), some awesome soup-bowls that I can bake so that I can try to make the french onion soup the Shedletsky made a couple of weeks ago, and these two leather-covered cubes that double as storage bins and end tables. Great idea--one of them can hold my Dance Dance Revolution pads, so that I look a bit more sophisticated. Yay.

The rest of my day was pretty uneventful. I want to come home earlyish tomorrow so that I can run to the grocery store and make some potato-leek soup; I'm having some of my India expat crew over for dinner on Wednesday so that we can hang out and watch 'Lost' afterwards, and the great thing about soup is that I can make it tomorrow and it will actually be better the next day, leaving less for me to do in the scant amount of time available between when I get home on Wednesday and when my guests will arrive.

Okay, this post is lame. I'm going to bed. Goodnight!

Sunday, October 22, 2006

let him know that you know best...'cause after all you do know best

I really have turned into a Californian--I actually had bean sprouts on my sandwich today, and I *liked* it. Ugh! Even worse, the bread was sourdough, and I allowed them to slather it with mustard and mayo, rather than avoiding mustard like the plague I used to think it was. There were also avocadoes (what else would you expect from a sandwich named 'California Dreamin'?), but I added avocadoes to my diet long ago, so this wasn't such a shock. I'm still not completely Californian--I can't see myself buying bean sprouts to keep at home, so maybe this was just an aberration. But, I need to buy a steak ASAP, or else I may be perilously close to forgetting my roots altogether.

The sandwich was procured at the deli in the complex where my laundromat and favorite cafe are located; I ate half the sandwich when I finally made it out of the apartment for lunch at two p.m., and the other half for dinner several hours later. If no one hears from me for a few days, assume that I succumbed to food poisoning in the night, since I didn't refrigerate the sandwich in the interim--I think I have a rather blase approach to food storage because I figure that if I didn't die after drinking that hideously-dirty iced tea in Mumbai, anything that the American bacteria population can throw at me will be like a walk in the park by comparison. Granted, if I run into any newly-immigrated bacteria, I could be in for some problems; immigrants always work harder and for less reward, so I'm sure a population of bacteria recently arrived on some produce from a third-world country could be my undoing, but I'm hoping for the best.

I successfully washed five loads of clothing, bedding, and towels, and I equally successfully hung or folded all five loads, so I felt v. accomplished by the end of the day. I also remade my bed and cleaned my desk. Doing anything else in the apartment was beyond my current level of domestic ambition, so I did all of the reading for my short-story class and tried to write some more of that short story that I turned in last week. I wrote a couple of pages but thought it was crap, so browsed around Amazon for awhile and ordered a couple of books about Moldova. You may be surprised to know that there are very few books about Moldova in English; I ended up ordering the Lonely Planet for Moldova and Romania because a) it was the best way to get pictures of Moldova and b) I really want to go there sometime in the not-so-distant future. I also got a book of 19th-century British women's clothing designs, so that I can dress up the heroine of my romance novel in all manner of frocks, day gowns, riding habits, negligees, etc. (for those of you who think romance novels are just porn--the women do wear clothing most of the time, and half the fun in reading those books is imagining yourself in all the gorgeous outfits).

In addition to browsing Amazon, I read up on Moldova on Wikipedia. The best part of it was finding this poem that is apparently the major folk tale of Moldova; the first two verses are supposedly inscribed on Moldovan currency. You may think that 'E pluribus unum' is lame, but at least our currency isn't covered with what I think may be one of the most depressing poems ever. The basic gist is that an enchanted ewe tells her Moldovan owner that his Transylvanian and Vrancean neighbors are going to kill him that night--and rather than do anything about it, he just tells the ewe to lie to everyone after he's been murdered and say that he went off to marry a princess. Maybe something was lost in the translation, but it seems apt, given that most Eastern European folktales are perfectly hopeless. I have reproduced the poem in all its lamely-translated glory for you below; now it's time for me to go to bed!


'Mioritza'

Near a low foothill
At Heaven’s doorsill,
Where the trail’s descending
To the plain and ending,
Here three shepherds keep
Their three flocks of sheep,
One, Moldavian,
One, Transylvanian
And one, Vrancean.
Now, the Vrancean
And the Transylvanian
In their thoughts, conniving,
Have laid plans, contriving
At the close of day
To ambush and slay
The Moldavian;
He, the wealthier one,
Had more flocks to keep,
Handsome, long-horned sheep,
Horses, trained and sound,
And the fiercest hounds.
One small ewe-lamb, though,
Dappled gray as tow,
While three full days passed
Bleated loud and fast;
Would not touch the grass.
”Ewe-lamb, dapple-gray,
Muzzled black and gray,
While three full days passed
You bleat loud and fast;
Don’t you like this grass?
Are you too sick to eat,
Little lamb so sweet?”
”Oh my master dear,
Drive the flock out near
That field, dark to view,
Where the grass grows new,
Where there’s shade for you.
”Master, master dear,
Call a large hound near,
A fierce one and fearless,
Strong, loyal and peerless.
The Transylvanian
And the Vrancean
When the daylight’s through
Mean to murder you.”
”Lamb, my little ewe,
If this omen’s true,
If I’m doomed to death
On this tract of heath,
Tell the Vrancean
And Transylvanian
To let my bones lie
Somewhere here close by,
By the sheepfold here
So my flocks are near,
Back of my hut’s grounds
So I’ll hear my hounds.
Tell them what I say:
There, beside me lay
One small pipe of beech
Whith its soft, sweet speech,
One small pipe of bone
Whit its loving tone,
One of elderwood,
Fiery-tongued and good.
Then the winds that blow
Would play on them so
All my listening sheep
Would draw near and weep
Tears, no blood so deep.
How I met my death,
Tell them not a breath;
Say I could not tarry,
I have gone to marry
A princess – my bride
Is the whole world’s pride.
At my wedding, tell
How a bright star fell,
Sun and moon came down
To hold my bridal crown,
Firs and maple trees
Were my guests; my priests
Were the mountains high;
Fiddlers, birds that fly,
All birds of the sky;
Torchlights, stars on high.
But if you see there,
Should you meet somewhere,
My old mother, little,
With her white wool girdle,
Eyes with their tears flowing,
Over the plains going,
Asking one and all,
Saying to them all,
’Who has ever known,
Who has seen my own
Shepherd fine to see,
Slim as a willow tree,
With his dear face, bright
As the milk-foam, white,
His small moustache, right
As the young wheat’s ear,
With his hair so dear,
Like plumes of the crow
Little eyes that glow
Like the ripe black sloe?’
Ewe-lamb, small and pretty,
For her sake have pity,
Let it just be said
I have gone to wed
A princess most noble
There on Heaven’s doorsill.
To that mother, old,
Let it not be told
That a star fell, bright,
For my bridal night;
Firs and maple trees
Were my guests, priests
Were the mountains high;
Fiddlers, birds that fly,
All birds of the sky;
Torchlights, stars on high.”

give a little bit of your love to me

I still hate the city. I went up this afternoon and had a lovely brunch (if you can have brunch at 2pm) with Tom and Julie. We proceeded to order drinks when happy hour started around three, and called Vidya so that she could join us. She only lives a few blocks from Tom/Julie, so it was v. convenient. I also finally saw her place (yay!); Tom and Julie saw it too, and we played a rousing game of carrom (an Indian game that is sort of equivalent to finger-billiards, because you use a puck controlled by flicking your fingers to put smaller discs into the pockets at the corners of the board). Vidya's place is v. lovely, w/lots of sunlight, and almost makes me wish that I had bought a place--but I think I need to concentrate on fixing the rest of my life before I start the Wampler trend of becoming a land baron.

After parting ways with that crew, I went over the Heather and Salim's to watch a bit of martial arts/boxing. Some gigantic dude named Butterbean took out his opponent with a series of vicious punches in about thirty seconds, which was apparently the highlight of the night. I don't know--I spent all of my time hanging out with the girls (and later some of the guys) in the dining room. It was fun, but I wasn't drinking because I wanted to be able to drive home, and so that perhaps made it slightly less fun that it would have otherwise been. I just wasn't really in the mood for a raucous party, which is what the expat gatherings always sound like given the extreme volume generated by several of the group's members. I don't know what was wrong, but I wasn't really feeling amenable to being teased incessantly tonight; normally I'm fine with it and in many ways invite it, but the rare nights when I'm not thrilled about it, I don't know how to stop it without throwing a fit and potentially damaging longer-term amusement.

After leaving the party, I took Jenni back to the Marina area, then dropped Subz off in Sunnyvale before coming home. Now it's time for me to go to bed--there are many things I want to do tomorrow, and I'm sure I won't get through half of them, but I should at least try. Goodnight!

Friday, October 20, 2006

step one: you say we need to talk

I discovered, much to my delight, that Regina-madam is back in the States for a couple of weeks for a wedding, before heading back to India for few more months. Jenni, Arod and I went over to hang out with her and Rohit in their absolutely gorgeous house--I can't believe that she's stayed in India for a year and a half when she has such a wonderful house to come home to. Also, Rohit made tons of food--how can you abandon a guy who cooks for you? Anyway, I love my place, but I wished it felt as put-together as that--I need to decorate more. Then again, a one-bedroom rental will never feel like a three-bedroom that you can paint and mess with however you like.

So anyway, it was great to see them. I can't believe I've been back from India an entire year. That seems impossible--it seems like only yesterday that I was crying my eyes out in the back of a Singaporean taxi, mourning my lost Indian crew and feeling extreme apprehension about the future. It also seems like only yesterday that I was laughing my ass off at how angry my friends got over the now-infamous dinner at Lucky Dhaba, where they all got served to greater or lesser extents. Ah, the memories.

Okay, I should go to bed--I have a full day of socializing in the city ahead of me, and so I may not blog tomorrow night. Finally, happy birthday to Aragorn (aka Viggo Mortensen)--perhaps Sunday I'll watch all of the 'Lord of the Rings' movies in his honor. [note to Tammy: I don't keep his birthday on my calendar, I just happened to see it on dlisted and pink is the new blog].

Thursday, October 19, 2006

you begin to wonder why you came

My short story was critiqued in my creative writing class tonight, and the feedback was pretty positive. It picked my spirits up considerably; it's funny how often during the week I wondered what my classmates' reactions were going to be to my story, and I was nervous walking in tonight because I didn't like waiting for the proverbial axe to fall on my baby. However, people seemed to like it, even though it wasn't one of those 'deep hidden meaning' stories and even though it turned into an introductory chapter to a much larger story. I got some good feedback on things I could modify, and encouragement to continue it, which indicates that the story was intriguing. Yay.

I think I took the class to alleviate a bit of my deep-seeded (seated? who knows?) insecurities about my writing, and tonight helped a little. However, there are two problems with that: a) I need to be secure in myself, rather than searching for security for others, or else I'll never truly be happy, and b) I feel more secure about what I've already written, but I don't feel confident about whether I can finish the story. I start panicking about whether it's going to turn into meaningless drivel, or whether the story will just dry up and disappear--I don't know what the ending is yet, so what if it's lame?

All of my doubts and insecurities start bubbling up to the surface as soon as I start worrying that something might turn out to be 'lame'--and maybe it's because so much of my social identity is tied up in how my sense of humor attracts others. If a joke falls flat, if a story doesn't hold interest, if people aren't laughing with me, I feel one step closer to losing them, and so this clawing sense of desperation sometimes under some of my more casual interactions. It's not so necessary to make my close friends laugh, perhaps, but by then it's so engrained in the relationship that it's natural. The act of storytelling in writing is so much more dangerous because it's impossible to know whether your readers will laugh with you, or whether they will brush you off entirely.

Anyway, despite all that, despite the inherent misery in coming up with a story and worrying about sending this little reflection of yourself out into the world, I do like writing, and I enjoyed encouraging my imagination to find a whole story out of an image of a public storage facility. I'm really glad I'm taking this class--it seems to have had a positive effect on me in general, it makes the week go faster, and I have 'something to live for', to use a cliched and disturbing phrase. Perhaps I'll take another one next quarter, if I don't think I've developed the self-discipline necessary to force myself to write every week. I should be writing every night, but that's an issue for another day. Now, it's time to go to bed so that I can go to work at seven and catch up on all the stuff that I should have done tonight--but I'm boycotting tonight so that I can relish the feeling of accomplishment that came out of tonight's class. Work can wait another eight hours.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

i don't want to call my friends, they might wake me from this dream

It's time for me to go to bed. I've been feeling strangely driven at work recently, moreso than I have for awhile, which means that I'm quite content to work like mad--although today I didn't get into the office until around noon because I had to work from home while waiting for the Comcast guy to hook up my cable (and then work from home while watching a little Montel Williams to 'make sure the cable was hooked up properly'. ha!). I got home around 7ish and intended to make delicious fried potatoes and eggs (over easy, of course)--but the potatoes in my cabinet were starting to feel squishy, so I threw them out and ran to the store, where I discovered that the lines on every register were stretched back into the aisles. Annoying! Since it takes less than two minutes to walk to the grocery store from my apartment, I promptly turned around, came home, and made half a peanut butter sandwich to tide me over until the lines cleared. Then I got engrossed in the stuff I was doing around the house, so I ended up eating eggs sans potatoes later. This was all quite disappointing, especially since my father had regaled me earlier with stories of all the ribeye steaks that he and my mother had eaten in the past week and intend to eat (since my mother bought a whole ribeye, which they then cut into steaks and froze--that's 18lbs of steak, for those of you who keep track of such things). Peanut butter, even delicious crunchy peanut butter, just didn't cut it after hearing about all that awesomeness.

It's now almost one-thirty, and I got quite a bit done while watching 'Criminal Minds', 'The Daily Show', 'The Colbert Report', a 'Scrubs' rerun, Letterman, and some Craig Ferguson. I'm so happy to have a TV--even though I recognize that there's nothing on that I really care about watching, I'm somehow more productive when the TV is on. I think that it triggers my Pavlovian response mechanism--TV carried me through many a long night in Hyderabad, when I would sit in my ultra-hard bed with my freezing, rattling, leaking air-conditioner, watching Bollywood music videos in the background while churning out all the random things I had to do back then. 'The Daily Show' is definitely an upgrade from the Bollywood videos, let me tell ya, but not as big an upgrade as my comfortable couch is over any seating/relaxing surface I found in Hyderabad.

Okay, no more...tomorrow will be busy enough without being destroyed by my exhaustion. Jenni and perhaps some other expats are coming over to watch 'Lost', I may be having dinner with Terry, and I have to read the stuff for my short story class on Thursday. Goodnight!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

when i'm deep inside of me, don't be too concerned

I was quite productive at work today, but I spent a bit of time getting a visitor from Dublin settled in, and so I didn't get completely through everything that I wanted to accomplish. So, I came home and intended to work while watching 'Love Actually' on my beautiful TV, but instead I played with my iPod while watching 'Love Actually'. To be precise, I played with my brand-new hot pink iPod nano, which arrived today. My old iPod, at over three years old, was in danger of dying at last, and I decided to replace it before the end came (and before they decided to pull the magenta version of the nano). It's gorgeous, and about a fourth of the size of my old iPod, which was already small enough. Actually, it's quite a miracle of modern invention; I can fit a thousand songs on a gadget that is smaller than a pack of Trident. And, it has a color screen; my old-generation iPod seems positively ancient by comparison.

So, after the movie ended and after I had uploaded all my favorites, I finally got down to business and cranked out the things that I absolutely had to do tonight. Now I should go to bed so that I can get up early, shower, and no doubt wait for several fruitless hours until the Comcast guy finally shows up. I'm working from home tomorrow morning so that I can wait for my cable to be installed, and when it finally is installed, my life will magically return to normal. Yay.

I haven't written anything since I hurriedly finished my short story last week; this trend is something I must rectify. I also need to read the stories for this week, as well as clean my bathroom in case I have company on Wednesday night to watch 'Lost'. Ah, so much to do, so little time. And, as the woman at the Container Store so kindly reminded me, Christmas is only two months away. How is that possible? It seems like only weeks ago that I opened my Christmas presents from my relatives. In fact, I'm going to relive that experience shortly, if my mother gets her act together--since I was moving to Ireland shortly after Christmas (or so I thought) last year, I didn't bring my presents back, and when I drove my car back here this summer, I only had room for a couple of things, like the jewelry box my nieces and nephew gave me. So, I'm now demanding that they be sent before Christmas this year, otherwise I'm sure I'll end up being regifted my own stuff. Actually, that wouldn't be so horrible, but I had received a Julia Child cookbook, as well as Russian and Indian cookbooks, and I'd love to experiment. There were also some lovely red mixing bowls, and some jersey-knit sheets that I'm going to want in a few short weeks if the weather takes the turn for the worse that it always seems to take this time of year.

Of course, come to think of it I don't really have room for any more stuff, but most of it was kitchenware, and that's the one thing I still have room for (mainly because I haven't stocked up on my groceries). If I ever want to get to the point where there are no boxes sitting out in any part of my apartment, I'm going to have to purge some more stuff, which will inevitably break my heart. Oh well, once it's done I probably won't miss most of it. Now, though, is no time to contemplate this awful task; I'm going to bed!

Sunday, October 15, 2006

me and julio down by the schoolyard

Man, it's great having a TV again. Now I can watch movies while working, which means that I actually got stuff done tonight instead of driving myself crazy by listening to 'Melt the Sugar' (my latest song obsession) on constant repeat while reading gossip columns on the web. I watched a double-header of 'Napoleon Dynamite' and 'The Royal Tenenbaums' while catching up on my work emails, playing with my calendar for the coming week, and doing some desultory analysis of stuff. I may despise the pit that American home-life has sunk into, since it would be so much nicer if we all still got together with our neighbors to play canasta and bridge (I *love* canasta, but I have never played bridge, because Americans are too socially isolated to play bridge). But, I'm enough of a hypocrite to believe that my television is the best thing since sliced bread.

I finally rolled out of bed after noon today, as promised in my last blog entry. I read some New York Times articles and mindlessly surfed the web for awhile, then shook myself out of my laziness and ran some errands. First, I picked up a painting that I had had framed--it looks gorgeous, and I can't wait to figure out how to hang it up. I bought the painting in South Africa, and I love it even more now that it's properly stretched and framed. I dropped it off at my apartment since it was taking up the entire length of the backseat, then went to the Container Store, where I procured several large plastic drawers for my closet. I also stopped by Crate and Barrel, where I only browsed, much to my own shock; the lines were too long to be effective, and I've reached the point where there's so much stuff that I want at Crate and Barrel that it's smarter for me to never pick up a shopping basket at all. I'll break down one of these days, though, so expect Crate and Barrel's fourth-quarter earnings to rise sharply.

Now I should go to bed, so that I can go to work tomorrow and start the week on the right foot. I'm currently feeling more positive about my corporate whoredom--probably because it enabled me to buy a TV and contemplate buying more furniture for my apartment. I need to stop being such a dutiful little consumer, but I like to say that I'm doing it for my country and fueling the economy. I also need to do my writing class assignments for this week, but that's a good project for tomorrow night, when I also need to do laundry. Now I shall leave you with a poem; I thought of it because I had emailed Walter to receive confirmation that he wasn't dead, but while talking with him, decided that I probably would have known because his father would have let me know, or at least posted a poem about it. This was the first poem that sprung to mind when I thought of senseless deaths of young men; enjoy!


Dulce et Decorum Est
by Wilfred Owen,

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.

Gas! Gas! Quick, boys! – An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling,
And flound'ring like a man in fire or lime . . .
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.
In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie; Dulce et Decorum est
Pro patria mori.

8 October 1917 - March, 1918

1 DULCE ET DECORUM EST - the first words of a Latin saying (taken from an ode by Horace). The words were widely understood and often quoted at the start of the First World War. They mean "It is sweet and right." The full saying ends the poem: Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori - it is sweet and right to die for your country. In other words, it is a wonderful and great honour to fight and die for your country

it's always better on holiday

I definitely need to go to bed, since it's perilously close to 4am. I had a nice day; I didn't wake up until almost noon (throwing away my good intentions), then hurriedly showered and dressed so that I could meet Oniel for a quick lunch before meeting Claude to see Jet Li's 'Fearless'. I thought the movie was great, and I cried at the end--I don't know why, but certain Asian martial arts movies ('Hero', 'Fearless', 'House of Flying Daggers', etc.--even the end of 'Kill Bill vol. 2') make me cry, even though there are many Western movies that leave me dry-eyed. Perhaps it's because I value honor about just about everything else, and those Chinese period flicks are rife with it.

Anyway, after the movie I organized all of my paperwork (baby steps, I know). Then I went to Shedletsky, Joanna, and Eric's house for dinner. That turned into a nine-hour marathon; we had dinner (delicious french onion soup, which made me luckily too full for Shedletsky's Indian food:), and then Patrick, Can, Eric S., and Jen left. But, Doug came over and we played some board game that I'd never played before--Carcassonne, which involved drawing random tiles and connecting them to make bigger structures, with a point system based on which areas you control throughout the game. It wasn't bad, and I would be fine playing again, but I didn't fall in love with it.

However, after playing Carcassonne, Shedletsky, Doug and I figured out a way to play an interesting, effective form of three-person Mafia. This would typically be impossible because you need a moderator, but we figured out a way using the colored man-shaped pieces from Carcassonne and Doug's hat, so that we could draw to see whether we were in the Mafia, and then put in our kill choice (or a blank, if you were a citizen) at night to determine the kill for the next day. Of course this relies on an honor system that people will 'fess up to their proper roles at the end of the game, but it worked for us. We came up with an even better variant in which there's a 25% chance that there is actually no mafia member, in which case the optimal strategy is to get yourself lynched, because the lynchee is the one who wins that game (and to make things more interesting long-term, we were keeping points for wins/losses). Anyway, trust me when I say it was entertaining, and managed to keep us engaged for three hours, which is actually kind of dumb now that I think about it. But, I had a great time tonight, so I don't regret it.

Now that I've gotten my fill of being a dork for a few days at least, it's time for me to go to bed. If anyone calls me tomorrow, be prepared to be screened out and then ignored for weeks to come--I'll either be asleep, taking a nap (i.e. asleep), or working, or reading for my short story class. The lone exception is my parents--but calling before noon would be extremely ill-advised :) Goodnight!

Saturday, October 14, 2006

too weak to give in, too strong to lose

My television arrived today, and I am finally a real, honest-to-goodness American again now that I can stare mindlessly at the TV again. However, I won't have cable until Tuesday, but I wanted to test out the picture quality, so I watched 'Shaun of the Dead' tonight. Shout out to Lea in London--I recognized your husband in the garden scene!

The rest of my day was pretty uneventful as well; the TV delivery people were almost two hours late delivering the TV, so I didn't get much done and didn't go back into the office in the late afternoon like I had planned. I ran some errands, and was just wrapping up at Target when Claude called, so we had an impromptu dinner at the cafe near my apartment. I love that place--the special tonight was penne pasta with bay scallops, shrimp, and pesto sauce. Mmmmmmm. Granted, I don't really need to go out for awesome meals, since I get them at work; this week I had some delicious scallops for free in the cafeteria. They were on par, but on a parallel level to, the corndog that I had at work last week. Most of the cafes are on a serious health kick, but the nutritionist hasn't been able to take care of this particular cafe, so they had this awesome meal that included corndogs with bacon and cheese wrapped into it as well. Ohmigosh. If I live a thousand years, I'll probably still remember that corndog.

There's nothing else to report, really; I don't have serious plans for the weekend, although I am having dinner at Shedletsky's tomorrow night and perhaps seeing a movie in the afternoon. I want to spend the rest of the time organizing my closet (which is much too small for the amount of stuff I have--I need to investigate other storage options) and prepping for next week's writing class. Now, I'm going to go to bed, so that I don't sleep away the entire morning like I like to do. Goodnight!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

the blog is not enough

Apologies to those of you who got tired of seeing my previous post. I don't have much to report from the past two nights. I don't actually remember what I did Tuesday night. Wednesday, I spent all day at the office, and then went over to Arod's to watch 'Lost' with her and Neel (who is visiting from India). Her grandmother made tons of homemade Indian food, which was delicious, and then we watched last night's episode and critiqued it. I came home with the intention of finishing my short story for tonight's class but was too tired, so I had to finish it v. quickly at work this afternoon. I think that the story is very much a fun, frivilous story; it's not one of those that gives some penetrating insight into human nature, and it's actually something that I'd like to turn into a book...I know a lot more about what's going on in the story than I was able to put into 12 pages for the class, and most of it is pretty entertaining.

Anyway, I've started yet another blog. I'm going to keep updating this one as the main source of information about my daily life. However, I want to encourage myself to write more stories, writing exercises, etc. So, if you care about reading such forays into literary folly, you can go to http://sarawampler.blogspot.com (also linked from the column on the right-hand side of this page). I've posted the story that I turned in tonight, and I'll hopefully post more stuff there. Don't hold your breath for things on that site, though :)

Okay, I have tons to do tomorrow and I'm exhausted, so it's time for bed. Goodnight!

Monday, October 09, 2006

it's something unpredictable, but in the end it's right

Old friends are the best friends. I had an uneventful day at work, followed by a rather impromptu dinner with some of the oldest of the old gang--Adit had sent out an email last night asking if anyone wanted to have dinner tonight, and eight of us ended up at Amici's East Coast Pizzeria in MV [for those of you who care, that meant Adit, Zach, Maggie (on loan from Iowa), Claude, Sri, Oniel, Sri's friend Joanne, and myself]. Fun was had by all; Zach and Maggie left early so that Zach could prepare for his thesis defense on Friday, but the rest of us stuck around and messed around until ten p.m. It's funny that I find that particular group so relaxing--I really shouldn't, since they're completely obnoxious. But, I'm completely obnoxious too, so it all works out.

I was telling Vidya on Sunday that the first three years of my college experience feel like a hazy dream, and that only my senior year feels 'real'. I've discussed this before on this very blog, I believe, so I shall be brief. But, those first three years, regardless of how little I think about them now, and how much my life has changed since then, and how much I've grown up, were really formative and vital to who I've become, and sometimes it's nice to be reminded of those times by the people I survived with. It's been seven years since I first met Adit, Zach, Oniel, and Claude--that's 28% of my life, and probably a third of my conscious, thinking life. Crazy, huh? When I met them, there wasn't a single one of them that I thought I would even become friends with, let alone still be friends with nearly a decade, and probably a lifetime, later. Instead, it turns out that they're perfect for me.

Okay, that was nauseatingly sentimental of me, so I'm going to go to bed before I get even sappier. Goodnight!

only cream and bastards rise

I don't really care about blogging tonight, but I am sensitive about the possibility of losing my loyal audience. I spent the weekend doing less than I should have. I did manage to cut up a whole mass of peppers, onions, and mushrooms, freezing them in a dozen small ziploc bags, each serving enough for an omelette or a couple of quesadillas. This bounty should feed me off and on for awhile. I also sorted through my clothes, but since I was too lazy to repack them in the stackable tubs that they had been stored in, I now have clothes strewn all over my room. I ordered a TV online and expect to have it delivered on Friday, which is v. exciting; it's a 32" LCD HDTV model, which is smaller and more sensible than the 42" plasma that I had been looking at, but still stylish--one of those 3"-thick flatscreens that could hang on the wall, if I wasn't worried about installing it incorrectly and having it crash down and destroy itself on my floor.

Today, I had lunch with Vidius Chandicus (you may know her as Vidya, but sometimes I like to pretend that she's Roman) at Fiesta del Mar today; we spent two hours catching up, since I hadn't seen her since my birthday party. That was fun, even if it did result in me eating more dried-out tortilla chips than I should have. Then, I came home and took a nap, then went to Starbucks, talked to my parents, and then tried to write a story for my short-story class. I wrote it out in longhand using one of my fountain pens (filled with Saguaro Wine), and by the time I left as the store was closing at 8:30, my hand was aching with the pleasant fatigue of accomplishment. I typed up what I had written when I got home, and it amounted to seven double-spaced pages (2117 words)--which, since the max is 12, leaves me with only 5 pages to tell the rest of my story. That's unfortunate, since I think this could be a much longer story, possibly a book; in fact, I had thought of the idea several months ago and had conceived of it as a book, but I decided to start with it as a story for lack of anything better to write about for Thursday. I shall perhaps post it here when I'm done; hopefully I'll finish a draft tomorrow night, although I'm apparently making unexpected dinner plans.

Now, I need to go to bed--I want to go to work relatively early tomorrow so that I can leave relatively early and finish my story. Goodnight!

Saturday, October 07, 2006

never let me go

I went shopping after work; I was not satisfied, which was my own fault because I ate dinner at Panda Express in the mall that I went to before trying on clothes, and this meant that I was too full to properly fit into pants (which is what I was there to buy), and so I just left frustrated. I cheered myself up by trying out the new inks that arrived today; two colors are similar to each other, but both are lovely, luscious shades of magenta, and so that's okay. The third is more of a teal, also lovely, and I'm thrilled with all of them, so I predict much writing-with-fountain-pens in my future.

Afterwards, I wanted to read a book, and I really just wanted to read a romance novel or something else that I had already read. But, my reading patterns have stagnated; it's almost like I don't want to read anything new because I don't want to risk being forced to think about things that I haven't already thought about. The books that I've been reading lately can't surprise me, and so they're intensely comforting, but I need to shake myself out of my comfort zone, if only so that I can get on with my life. Also, some of the stuff that I've been reading for my creative writing class says that you can't be a writer without also being a reader, which makes sense. Reading was such an integral part of my childhood, all the way through high school, that it's strange that I've fallen away from it in adulthood.

In an effort to reclaim that, I went to the shelf of books that I keep meaning to read and picked up 'Never Let Me Go' by Kazuo Ishiguro. I had asked for and received it from my parents for Christmas last year, but had never gotten around to reading it. I think that I avoid picking up new books partially because when I am reading something, I have an absolute compulsion to finish it. This inevitably results in me staying up until four a.m. in an attempt to get through the thing, then staggering blindly through my work routine the next day, either recovering from the previous night's bender or looking forward to another one if the book was too long to finish in one go. This book was ~240 pages and I read it in three hours, which was pretty good considering that I was silently crying for the last sixty or so pages.

The book was really haunting; without giving too much away, it's essentially a love triangle in which the three participants are all clones who have been raised in order to be used for organ donation. Just to clarify, they're not clones of each other, so there's nothing weird going on there--it's like a standard coming-of-age story with the twist that everyone involved is meant to have their organs harvested at some point in the not-so-distant future. It was, therefore, completely devastating; it felt like it didn't matter if most clones died before they were thirty, because there probably wasn't much of a chance that they would have done anything interesting anyway. And, most of the chances for real, albeit fleeting, happiness were lost through misunderstandings and simple human failures. So in the end it didn't matter whether they were clones or not; the fact that they were all destined to be harvested was just a convenient plot device for Ishiguro to point out the frailty and doom of human existence.

That's not to say that the characters weren't important; by the end of the book, I cared about them quite a bit. It just ceased to matter that they were clones, or that something barbaric was being done to them in an alternate universe where cloning for organ replacement was somehow acceptable; instead, the barbarism was overshadowed by how truly awful humans usually are to each other, and how unlikely it is to find something healthier, and how we often put up with bad behavior from those around us because we don't know any better, or don't believe that we are capable of winning more for ourselves.

Anyway, I don't think the world's quite as bleak as all that; but, the book did make me wish that I was out living my life, exploring the windswept wilds of Mongolia, or eating dim sum in Hong Kong, or following ancient Incan roads through the Andes, or just sitting someplace writing all of the mystical visions that come into my head. Instead, I'm sitting in my comfortable bed, trying to decide between a 32" or 42" tv (yesterday's bonus makes it tempting to upgrade), and thinking about my 'career' and my 'long-term goals' and all that other corporate stuff that suddenly seems like the equivalent of passing time before I donate all my organs. My driver's license lists me as an organ donor, after all, so it's not that far-fetched (albeit a bit melodramatic) to feel that I'm just aimlessly kicking about until I get hit by a car and someone needs my kidneys. Ugh.

Okay, enough of that--but I highly recommend the book if you're looking for something beautiful and stirring and heartbreaking. The writing was some of the best I've read in a long time, the story was gripping, and the premise was intriguing. What more can you ask from a book? Now it's time for me to go to sleep, and hopefully I will dream of something other than clones.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

you ring just like a xylophone

Today was a fantastic day (so apologies in advance to my brother, in case you lost a kidney or something due to our inverse luck). I went to work, had some meetings, and then skipped out for a bit to have dim sum with Tammy. We went to the Hong Kong Flower Lounge, as we used to do every single weekend; it was just the two of us this time because Claude already had plans and Shedletsky wasn't responding to emails, but it was a great way to bid Tammy a fond farewell before she left for San Diego. We had all the old favorites - shrimp dumplings (aka shrimp families; the chinese name is 'har gar'), deep fried shrimp in bean curd, deep fried shrimp with mayonnaise, rice noodle with shrimp, steamed bean curd with pork and shrimp, and barbecue pork bun. The only thing we missed was the egg custard bun, but that was already a ton of food for the two of us, and the custard would have thrown me over the edge. As it was, I was struggling when I got back to work; I had a meeting as soon as I got back, and I was having trouble concentrating because I was on the verge of a shrimp coma; the symptoms of a shrimp coma are an overwhelming urge to rub one's belly and hum contentedly, right before falling asleep for a couple of hours. Alas, I had to stay awake, and it was v. difficult :(

But, seeing Tammy in our old favorite haunt was fun; I've really missed those weekend brunches, since my weekends don't really feel complete without a three-hour brunch extravaganza. I've had them for what feels like forever; Dad's Sunday brunches at home were some of the best parts of growing up, and when I got to Stanford, I continued the tradition by spending several hours at brunch each weekend day. This slid seamlessly into a weekly dim sum trek, followed by Sunday brunches at the Taj hotel in Hyderabad. It's only in the past six months that I've really lost the brunch experience, and I miss it terribly. I also miss Tammy, so it was fun to see her this past week. Yay for friends.

So, I wrapped up my meetings, and was going to skip the team meeting because I hadn't prepared for my writing class tonight, but two different people strongly encouraged me to go to the meeting despite that. I went to the meeting, and got a delicious surprise--they had previously announced that they would be giving out some bonus awards this quarter, and I ended up being one of the twelve people in my department to win the top level ('platinum') award. I didn't quite feel like I deserved it, because I felt like I was slacking tremendously this quarter, but I suppose anything would feel like slacking compared to the amount of work I was doing in Dublin. Now I can buy a lovely TV *and* go shopping to replenish my fall/winter wardrobe! This is key, since I'm going to start looking like a hobo at work if I keep wearing my oversize Irish sweaters, and the hobo look will not help my career trajectory.

After the meeting, I promptly left to go to Stanford for my creative writing class. I got there early enough to write out my critique of some other dude's story, and I was also able to read the assigned short story, so I was able to participate in class. I was really pleasantly surprised by tonight's session; the first session had left me feeling rather apprehensive about the rest of the class, because the people seemed rather uninteresting and incapable of writing, and the first meeting had been really unenergetic. Tonight, however, most people were making interesting points, and some of the read-aloud writing exercises were really good. That's not to say that I am currently interested in making friends there, but I'm much more excited about the rest of the class than I was last week. That's a good thing--I have to write a story for next week, and I have no idea what to write. Hopefully inspiration shall come to me this weekend.

I'm going to cap off this lovely day by crawling into bed and sleeping for ten hours...mmm. Goodnight!

Monday, October 02, 2006

wait...what's the sense in life?

I really wanted to write my romance novel tonight, but I just couldn't get into it. I should have gone to Starbucks--in fact, I had walked in the door before deciding that it was too cold and that I would rather write from home while wrapped in one of my oversized Irish sweaters. Mistake--I instead spent a couple of hours looking up peerages and British nobility successions on Wikipedia. Useless, I know, since everyone knows that a good romance novelist just makes up titles with reckless abandon, and I know enough about the nobility to be able to fake 95% of the book without doing any research at all. However, I did learn that there are lots and lots (relatively) of unmarried dukes, earls, or heirs to dukedoms and earldoms floating around, which was interesting. I may have to move to England and lie in wait for one of them, since I think I would be in a better frame of mind for romance novel writing if I was a duchess (or even a countess or marchioness--although I prefer 'marquesa' or 'marquise', but beggars can't be choosers).

So, tonight was frustrating, but rather than take my usual cure for frustration, I'm going to go to bed instead of staying up until four a.m. reading a book. I have a meeting at eight a.m. tomorrow, followed by a full day of activities, so I don't want to be tired and cranky. I still don't have my replacement contacts, so I look tired and cranky anyway, since I only wear my glasses when I'm tired and cranky, and I've now been wearing them for almost five days straight. Ugh.

All this talk about being tired and cranky is actually making me tired and cranky, so I should stop. In other news, I ordered bottled ink today from pendemonium.com; they're located in Fort Madison, Iowa, and so I could theoretically go to their real live store when I'm home, but Fort Madison is several hours away from my house, so ordering the ink online seems easiest. It's also riskier, since it's hard to trust ink reviews and online color swatches, so I'll just have to hope that colors like 'saguaro wine' and 'cyclamen rose' are as lovely as the purveyors claim that they are. I'm excited, though; bottled ink is clearly the next step down the path to complete and utter eccentricity, and this is one step that I am happy to embrace. By the end of the year, when I'm sitting in a cafe in a ridiculously large sweater, with vibrant ink stains on my hands and a generally disheveled appearance, I will have achieved my goal of appearing to be a crazy seventy-year-old. Yay.

Okay, that's all you get from me tonight; I'm going to bed. Not that my bed is particularly subdued either, since the current bedspread is a warm orange color, and the fabric is covered in tiny mirrors. It's luscious. As you can tell, I can't wait to be an eccentric old woman; then, all of my strange tendencies will be seen as lovably acceptable, rather than dangerous character flaws that render me unattractive to the vast majority of my male counterparts.

Actually, Tammy and Shedletsky were trying to convince me last night that it's a good idea to post a personals ad on Craigslist looking for someone who is willing to dress up as a Scottish earl--the personal could include language as 'ownership of a velvet cloak and command of Scottish brogue a plus'. I don't think that this will get me exactly the type of guy that I want, but you never know. Tonight is not the night for me to write that particular ad, though; it will require several years of complete and utter boredom before I reach that point. Goodnight!

Sunday, October 01, 2006

if we're gonna make it then we're halfway there

First off, happy v. belated birthday to my sister, who turned an age that it is not delicate to print here on Thursday--I wasn't able to call because I was in training all day and then had to run to the first meeting of my writing class, which didn't get out until after nine p.m. (eleven p.m. in Iowa). Apologies, but I hope it was a good one!!

To the rest of you, I'm sorry that I haven't written in ages. Tammy came up Thursday night to stay with me for a week, and it's been great to see her, but this has put a small kink in my traditional blogging pattern since I'm typically ready to collapse by the time I finally go to sleep. We stayed up and did some catching up Thursday night; I worked all day Friday; we had dinner with Claudia Friday night; I spent most of yesterday cleaning my kitchen/bathroom, having brunch with Lauren, making potato/leek soup, and reading a romance novel; and I spent most of today sleeping in, followed by working on my own romance novel.

For those of you who have been intermitently checking the romance blog, be forewarned that I'm not going to update it anymore (and in fact am going to delete it)--I want to sell my novel, and I don't want the blog to jeopardize that. You'll just have to wait for it to come out in paperback! But, after my quick but v. productive writing session at Starbucks this afternoon, I am one chapter (3600 words) closer to finishing it. If only I could make myself sit down and write every night, I would be done in no time--so I'm setting a goal to finish my novel in October. Whether that will happen remains to be seen, but I've plotted it out so comprehensively that it should be possible.

After coming home, I talked to my parents, and then met Shedletsky for dinner. Tammy was 1.5 hours late for dinner (no surprise there), so Shedletsky and I had bruschetta, followed by mussels, and caught up with each other while waiting for Tammy. Once she arrived, we had main courses and coffee, and then loitered on California Ave. for half an hour, feeling like the hooligans that we most certainly weren't. After seeing both of them together, it felt like all was right with the world; or, if it was still wrong, it was wrong in the right kind of insane way, if that makes any sense.

Now I need to go to bed, so that I can begin the work week anew. Yippee. Goodnight everyone!