Wednesday, January 31, 2007

hard to concentrate

Today was go-go-go at work; I had to be there early for a global videoconference, then I had some high-pressure manager meetings (where I felt like a loser because I just started being an official manager and didn't have much to contribute), then had some other meetings, then had more meetings, then left a little after six p.m. I came home, let Claude in, and made some tasty risotto. Sri, Vidya, Adit, and Timmy showed up over the next hour or so, and we ate a lot of risotto and watched the Stanford-Gonzaga game. Yes, I paid attention, and yes, this time we lost. It was super-frustrating--they would get a lead, then blow it, then pull off some amazing three-point shots, then not be able to hit any free-throws. Anyway, we all had a smashing good time. Now, we're having a sleepover; Vidya didn't want to go back to the evil city (understandable!) and Claude has a fever and feels awful, so doesn't want to drive home. So, they shall sleep in the living room, and I shall sleep in my bed, and we shall all be quite merry (except for Claude who, as I mentioned, is sick).

Work is going to get increasingly intense; I can already feel the pace of my days getting ridiculously fast. For instance, I only checked my gossip blogs once today, so I barely know what's going on with Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, etc. Sadness! For someone who always said she didn't want to manage and vowed never to go into business, I'm taking a classic upwardly-mobile path. I will have to be careful not to get sucked further into the vortex in the future--but the likelihood that I'll escape is becoming smaller and smaller. I'm hoping that Claude will contaminate me so that I can take a sickday (she just said that she's contaminating my blanket so that she can give it back to me and kill me, just like how the white people gave the natives smallpox-infected blankets back in the day). But, it probably won't kick in in time to get out of tomorrow's meetings, so I should go to bed!

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

i am a fugitive on the run

Today was one of the more brutal slogs in recent memory; I got into the office at nine, was in meetings almost all day, and ended up staying in the office until almost nine p.m. Part of that was fun--I'm now reunited w/Gyre, who was on the same team as me two years ago, and when we switch buildings, we're going to be sharing a corner office. Yes, my friends, I have achieved the corner office. Granted, this was through coin-flip rather than promotion, but still. Now that I have achieved so much, it's clear that I should go to business school and try to make CEO by age 30.

After work, I came home, made cookies, and opened the door when Terry knocked. Her internet was out in her apartment, and so she came over so that she could keep working. Clearly she is in even worse shape than I am...I took a whole 1.5-hour break, while she just went home, showered, and came over to work, and was probably in the office before I was. Little does she know that I'm about to tell her that I'm going to go to bed. I have a mandatory meeting at 8:30 tomorrow that I can't be late for; then, there's this management thing for two and a half hours that I'm completely unprepared for (since I found out tonight at five p.m. that I had to go to it) with the VP of our department. Ugh. I'm just going to dress nicely and keep my mouth shut. Now, it's time for me to sleep!

african war zone! ship of death!

Yes, I watched 'Sahara' again tonight. No, I'm not obsessed. Yes, I'm lying.

Anyway, I didn't really pay close attention; I put it in partially because I know it pretty well, and so could work with it in the background and not be completely distracted. I did watch the scene where Dirk and Al break away from the pickup and then end up sailing a bi-plane across the desert twice, but the rest of it just sort of slid across my subconscious.

Speaking of things sliding across my subconscious, I got home about twenty minutes before the two 'Scrubs' episodes that play every night on Comedy Central, and I was looking for something to watch while making supper. My choices were the news (blech), Emeril (double blech), or one of the free movies on Comcast OnDemand--and I discovered that they were playing 'Zardoz' (triple blech...and yet, strangely appealing). So I turned it on and was reminded of how trippy and awful it was; the intro features a disembodied head with a mustache and beard that was clearly drawn on with a magic marker, floating around and discussing how awesome and entertaining he is. Segue to Sean Connery in a red diaper and a copious amount of chest hair, running around killing people. I didn't really watch, since I was busy in the kitchen making potato soup, but I flipped to Scrubs when Sean Connery licked some dude's arm. Mmm.

So I ended up taking a break from 6-9, then working from 9-12:30, and now I'm going to bed. I had meetings all day today, which is why I didn't get anything done at work; tomorrow is sort of a rinse-and-repeat of today. Yippee skippee. Now, it's time for bed!

Monday, January 29, 2007

forever today

This weekend can be completely written-off in terms of excitement; however, it was v. relaxing, which is just what the doctor ordered. My only real regret is that I forgot to buy yeast last night, and so didn't get to try my slow-rise bread recipe; if I had started it today, it would have been ready to bake sometime when I'm at work tomorrow, which seemed less than ideal. Oh, well, c'est la vie. Instead, I got up around and spent most of the afternoon in my pajamas on the couch, spaced out while watching the Food Network. I've decided that I can't stand Michael Chiarello, although I did love that one of his dinner guests was wearing a kilt--he was cooking with Guinness and so invited some guys who could sing traditional Irish songs. I also despise Emeril; I can't understand why him saying the word 'garlic' merits enthusiastic applause from the audience, nor do I understand why he needs a live band. I do, however, love the Barefoot Contessa, even if my mouth was watering the entire time that she was making beef bourguignon--she was using whole filets of beef, and it looked rare and amazing. I will have to try making it sometime, but I'm unfortunate in my choice of friends--most of 'em think that cow is something to be worshipped and protected, not butchered and grilled. Granted, if I grew up someplace where the cows wandered aimlessly in the streets and fed on garbage, I might feel the same way, and so I guess I can understand why cows aren't eaten in India, but still.

Claude came over for awhile on her way home from her UCSF interviews, and so we had tea while watching one of the episodes of 'Dinner:Impossible' that I saw yesterday--she agreed that it's pretty stellar. After she left, I ate my leftover risotto and discovered that it was still pretty good reheated the second day, so I may have to make it more often. I was surly when it was gone, until Vidya expressed interest in having it for dinner Wednesday, so I get to make and eat it again! Yay!

Felicia texted me in time to remind me that there was a Stanford game today, and I flipped to it in time to watch the last five minutes of our amazing upset of #3 UCLA--we apparently had been down by 17, but we came back to win. And yes, we did win; this was not like my last game-watching experience, where I was too sleepy and thought we lost when we really won. I also talked to my father for awhile while he was waiting in Minneapolis for his flight home; he spent a weekend in Cancun and got to see some amazing-sounding Mayan ruins, so I'm v. jealous.

Now, after having finally worked for a couple of hours to do the stuff that I absolutely had to get done this weekend, it's time for me to go to bed! I have a ton of meetings this week, so I'm already wishing for the weekend.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

you can't dress trashy 'til you spend a lot of money

After talking to my mother for almost two hours today, I was reminded that I have yet to make anything out of the 'Molto Mario' cookbook that I got for Christmas. I was also in the mood to cook because I'd been watching the Food Network on mute while I talked to my mom; I turned the sound back on in time to watch two episodes of 'Dinner: Impossible', which I had never seen before. It was mildly entertaining; the main chef and his two assistants (both confusingly named George) are taken to a random setting and told to prepare a gourmet meal for a number of people using only the stuff they have access to. One challenge was cooking for a wedding banquet for 200; the second challenge was cooking for 40 people in the Philadelphia Eagles VIP box, but they were only given four hours and $150, and so they had to barter for food and grills in the parking lot and then cart it up to the VIP box, which took half an hour. That meal turned out looking amazing, although you would have been screwed if you were a vegetarian.

Anyway, I watched some tv, then went shopping for food-related products. I picked up an enameled cast-iron dutch oven, which I've been ogling for awhile at Williams-Sonoma; I finally broke down and bought it because I've been wanting to try this no-knead bread that I read about in the 'New York Times', and it requires baking in a dutch oven w/a lid. I also decided to get it in a bright yellow, rather than red; yellow would complement a lot of the stuff that I have and brighten things up in my kitchen. Then, I went to the posh grocery store (Andronico's) near the mall and loaded up on foodstuffs.

For my first foray into 'Molto Mario', I decided to try risotto al barolo. I guess my version should be called 'risotto al day-old-pinot-noir', since part of my rationale for trying it was that I opened a bottle of wine last night and still had quite a bit left in the refrigerator, where it will likely go completely bad before I get around to finishing it. It turned out amazingly well, especially considering that I never cook with rice. I don't think I would make it all the time, because even though the prep is really easy (I just needed to dice half an onion), it required frequent stirring for ~20 minutes, which felt like a really long time. However, it was delicious and very comforting, particularly since it was finished off with butter and parmesan cheese, so I may have to make it again sometime soon.

My risotto was probably better than my hashbrowns and poached eggs, which I enjoyed last night--but it's a tough choice, since I love runny eggs and fried potatoes. However, neither of them compare to the lunch I had yesterday. I normally don't talk about where I work, and I still won't say the name of my company (although mentioning free gourmet food will probably give it away). One of the cafes at work has a small-plates theme; I hadn't bothered to go there before, since it's several blocks from my building, but I was over there seeing a friend and so we ate there. OMG, it was outstanding. I had a salmon and cucumber appetizer, two raw oysters, seafood paella, kangaroo, and scalloped potatoes. I feel like I may have had another dish, but I can't remember what it was. Anyway, the seafood paella under normal circumstances would have been a standout, but compared to everything else, it was my least favorite dish. The scalloped potatoes were among the best that I've ever had; they were made with gruyere cheese, and my mouth is watering just thinking about them.

But, the kangaroo was the real eye-opener--it was cooked very rare, was very tender, and was on par with some of the best beef steak out there. My friend and I split a second helping of the kangaroo, and we were both in heaven. I don't ever feel bad about eating beef, pork, chicken, fish, etc., but I must admit that I felt some initial qualm about kangaroo. That disappeared as soon as I tasted it. Granted, kangaroos are pretty darn cute; but, marsupials in general aren't exactly friendly (possums are hideous, while koalas are mean when they aren't sleeping or eating), and hitting a kangaroo with a car can be v. dangerous. Also, 'Kangaroo Jack' was one of the worst movies that I have ever seen, and so I could probably be convinced to eat Carrot Top or one of the Wayans brothers for revenge as well. Do you see how I've justified my love of kangaroo meat? After lunch, I even thought to myself that dogs are probably pretty tasty if you get over the fact that they have been bred specifically to serve as our best friends, but decided to abandon that train of thought before asking myself if I would be willing to eat Claude.

So, that's all that I have to report; I should have worked on my romance novel today, but since I didn't get up until almost noon, then called my mother, then watched Food Network, then shopped, then cooked and ate, I didn't get up the energy necessary to write. We shall see what tomorrow holds, but for now I'm going to sign off and work on the plot some more. Goodnight!

Friday, January 26, 2007

when i am with you, i feel a little brave

I had too much work to do today, and so I left at seven despite my overworkedness, and went to the evil city. I almost bailed, but I had promised Julie that I would come up and see her, and I decided that keeping my promise was more important than working and sleeping. So, we had coffee at this really weird Mediterranean cafe in her neighborhood, went back to her apartment, watched some Winter X-Games followed by an episode of 'The Office', and hung out with Tom (aka Tom Foolery). Then, Adit, Vidya, and a couple of other people showed up, and we repaired to a nearby bar. The bar was v. nice; they had a real fireplace, which seemed strange, but definitely made it feel more homey. I drank cranberry juice (or a virgin cosmopolitan, if you prefer, but I had no desire to drink eight of them, which makes them quite unlike a cosmopolitan--but rendered me capable of driving home), we played some dice, chatted about various and sundry topics, and I left around 12:15am.

I can start to sense that the city is going to become much like the rest of the things I have railed against in my short life--I started off with an irrational hatred of it, became stuck in my ways due to my own stubbornness, but am now slowly being forced to reevaluate my position until I end up loving it. I by no means love it yet, but my friends have all moved up there over the past couple of years. Only Claude, Zach, and Sri are left down here (well, Shedletsky and that house too, but I never see them), and both Claude and Zach are moving at the end of this school year. If I get lucky, Claude will get into UCSF--but that means another friend in the city (although that's preferable to having her on the east coast). I still see Vidya occasionally because she works down here, but that's about it. If I ever wanted to see my friends again, the best case scenario would be for Adit, Claude and I to move in together this summer. But, I like my apartment...and I like being ten minutes from work...and I like the silence and the solitude. So, who knows. All I know is that I'm supremely annoyed that I had a good time tonight, because it makes it hard to maintain my hatred at its usual intensity.

Now, I should go to bed. But first, allow me to give you one insight into corporate America. I really despise corporate-speak, even though there are things that I say too ('circle back' for getting back into touch after doing something, 'action item' for task, 'bandwidth' for the amount of time I have to do something--usually extremely low, etc.). But I've begun to absolutely despise one particular bit of corporate-speak--many of the people in my office, particularly the managers, have begun to use 'ask' as a noun, which to them means the same as the noun 'request'. Usage would be something like, 'I know this is a big ask, but I need this report in five minutes,' or 'My only ask would be to make sure you circle back after doing a deep dive into the weeds and determining the viability of this strategy'. 'Deep dive' is annoying too (often because I'm the one doing the diving), but using 'ask' as a noun drives me batty. So tonight, my only ask is that I dream of a place where I will no longer have to speak the language of corporate America.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

parade of the athletes

I downloaded DJ Tiesto's 2004 Olympics CD; he apparently DJ'd at the Opening Ceremonies of the Athens Games, and a CD was released shortly thereafter. I happen to like Tiesto, particularly his earlier 'Summerbreeze' cd (which I still listen to when I'm in need of some aching techno). He's also going to be at Coachella this year, which makes me almost (almost!) want to go back and risk death in the desert. Unfortunately, I don't know if I can do it; it's the weekend before my brother's graduation, and the weekend before that I'm trying to go to Dublin for a weeklong meeting, so we'll see whether it works out.

I went to work today, came home, spent too much time on Wikipedia (because I like learning about random things; encyclopedias with hyperlinks to hundreds of other related articles are v. dangerous for me), and then tried to work on my romance novel. I plotted for awhile in my journal, and ended up only actually writing for half an hour--but I churned out 500 words in that time, so that's somewhat respectable. Now I should go to bed so that I can slog through tomorrow; the weekend can't come fast enough!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

nothing lasts forever but the earth and sky

I have nothing of interest to report tonight. I went to work, was mildly productive, came home, did some laundry (oh-so-industrious of me, I know), opened a bottle of wine (which I wasn't a fan of, and so only drank half a glass), and reread 'The Masqueraders', which is one of my favorite Georgette Heyer novels. I love it; it's about the (mis)adventures of a brother-and-sister pair who are masquerading as the opposite sex to throw off a possible investigation into the brother's role in the Jacobite uprising, while their father runs a series of crazy schemes to clear their names. High jinks ensue, of course, and both of them find their true loves and must find a way to win their hearts without ruining everything. Yes, this all sounds ridiculous, but Heyer's use of dialogue and description is unparalleled, and so it ends up being hysterically funny and touching instead.

Now, I think it's time to go to bed; I need to come home tomorrow night and write if I'm going to fulfill my promise to write instead of taking a class, which means that I need to be productive at work tomorrow. Goodnight!

Monday, January 22, 2007

try to slip past his defense, without granting innocence

Ho hum. I made it into work by seven this morning, where I had an interesting and occasionally contentious conference call, perhaps made more contentious by my typical early-morning foul mood. I recovered with breakfast and caffeine (apparently my habit of drinking Diet Coke for breakfast is looked on with some horror), then slogged my way through eleven and a half hours in the office. Then, I met up with Subz, and we watched 'The Queen'. I had been meaning to see it for months; it has inexplicably been playing at a local arthouse-style theatre for about four months, and so I decided that I should finally get around to seeing it before they took it away. I don't think Subz liked it very much, but I did; then again, I am mad about the monarchy. I never was a huge fan of Princess Di, since I thought she was annoying and vulgar, and I thought it was ridiculous that people went into such overwhelming displays of grief. Then again, I was one of those people who got up at three a.m. to watch the funeral live, so I suppose that makes me one of those people. I felt marginally guilty that I didn't do the same for Mother Teresa, who had the misfortune of dying the same week, but I've always been fascinated by monarchy.

Anyway, I really liked the movie, and I fully support all of the best actress awards that Helen Mirren is receiving--she was fabulous. Now, though, it's time for me to stop thinking about it and go to bed, so that I can go into work early tomorrow. Goodnight!

Sunday, January 21, 2007

and we would scream together songs unsung

I had a surprisingly good weekend, mostly free of slogging (although it perhaps should not have been--this coming week will be busier as a result). Friday night, Claude came over to have a tea party; we ordered desserts from Mike's Cafe Etc., and I picked up some salmon and an avocado so that we could have tasty sammiches, dessert, and tea while watching 'Little Miss Sunshine'. I had watched the movie when it came out in theatres, and Oniel and I had given it two enthusiastic thumbs up, but Claude had missed that showing. Since I got the movie for Christmas, we made up for it on Friday, and she loved it (as I suspected she would).

Saturday, Claude came to my place around noon and we left for San Francisco (aka the city of sin) to meet up with Vidya, Adit, and Peder (aka Timmy). We were supposed to have brunch, but we didn't get there until one, and then it took awhile to decide where to go. Adit proposed taking the ferry to Tiburon, which was accepted; but, after circling and looking for parking for twenty minutes, we missed the ferry, and so went to a cafe, where we discovered that we had missed brunch by about five minutes. Granted, since it was 2pm, it was perhaps unreasonable of us to demand (or want) brunch anyway, so we had lunch instead. Then, we were going to go to Coit Tower, but we couldn't find parking there either. I made them take me down the crookedest street in the world, which I had somehow never seen even though I've lived here for over seven years, and then Adit showed us the most beautiful basketball courts in the city before we parked at near Fort Mason and wandered around the piers for awhile. We saw some sketchy stuff there--disconcertingly-well-fed seagulls, people engaged in nefarious organ-selling (or, alternatively, picnicking--it's hard to tell what's in an Igloo cooler these days), and people catching crabs that were either fine or illegal depending on whether they were of the dungeness variety.

Anyway, we topped off our stroll with some delicious artisan chocolate drinks (I had a Mexican mocha and need to remind myself to stay away from Mexican-style chocolate drinks in the future; I keep trying them at different places in the mistaken belief that I just haven't found one that I like yet, but I think that I am anti the combination of chocolate and cinnamon. This may explain why I am always disappointed by mole poblano sauce at Mexican restaurants as well). Then, we went back to Adit's place and watched the Tivo'd Stanford-Oregon St. game; I took a nap, and it's clear how out of it I was that I thought that we lost the game, only to be told by my mother that we won by eleven points.

To shorten up this interminable blog post, we went to dinner, waited an hour for a table, and were rewarded w/some delicious pizza. Then, Claude and I escaped the dreadful city, and I slept for ten or eleven hours. Today, I was going to work on my romance novel in my favorite tea place, but was kicked out ten minutes after I sat down because they suddenly needed to prepare the place for a big group. Since I had barely made headway into my mini pot of tea, I was pissed, and they lost out on my patronage because I hadn't gotten around yet to buying the loose-leaf tea that I had intended to purchase. So, I came home and worked on my novel here instead, and was surprisingly productive; even with a healthy bit of procrastination, some stuff to send out for work, and a 45-minute conversation with my parents, I still managed to turn out ~2500 words today. That's 10 pages, and it catapulted me over the 30,000 word mark for the whole novel.

You won't find it online, though; I blocked access to the site. I don't want to share any more of it until I have a full rough draft, although I may look for volunteer editors at that time. I also shouldn't have kept writing tonight; I got back into it after working from 8:30-9:30, and unfortunately it's now 11:30--and I have to be at work at 7am for a conference call. Ugh. So, now it's time for bed, and hopefully I'll do some more writing this week!

Friday, January 19, 2007

do i try too hard to make you smile?

No time for a real post - I came home tonight around 6:45pm, took a break while watching 'Scrubs' reruns and eating dinner, worked for awhile, took a break to watch 'The Office', then worked straight from 9pm to 12:30am. I figured that at that point, I might as well watch some Craig Ferguson, so I watched his monologue (which was funny, of course--he said that he thought the plot of 'Grey's Anatomy' was doctors trying to save their patients by listening to Coldplay and having sex with each other). Then I did some more work, and now it's almost two a.m., so I think I need to go to sleep.

Hopefully the weekend will be good, though; I need to slog all day tomorrow, but Claude is coming over for a tea party tomorrow night. Saturday I have tentative plans to go to the evil city, where I have no doubt that I will suffer ritual scarring from a Maori transvestite (because that seems weird enough that it just might actually happen to me). Sunday I'm trying to keep to myself so that I have one day to relax and work on my romance novel (and do laundry and buy groceries so that I can stop eating crap), and then it's back to the grind on Monday. yaaaay. Now, it's time for bed!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

sail away with me, honey

I dropped my writing class today. I realized that I wasn't excited about it at all, for several reasons. The first and most important was that I didn't like the vibe of the first discussion--it reminded me a little of SLE, in which some of the people were so pretentious that it turned me off of reading good books for a v. long time. I didn't want to have the same experience with a writing class, and so I thought I should save myself. Second, and just as important, if I'm taking a class, I don't really have time to prep for the class and work on my romance novel as well--and I really think that I should focus on finishing the novel, rather than having several projects and stories and exercises going all at once. Third, my responsibilities at work are increasing dramatically, which means that finding time to do everything I want to do is going to be difficult.

So, I decided to drop the class while I could still get a full refund, but not tell my coworkers that I dropped. This means that I can still leave at 5pm every Wednesday without exciting too much notice. Then, I will religiously use that time to work on my romance novel, and try to carve out at least one weekend afternoon for writing as well. Obviously, if I can write more often than that, I will, but work is going to be hellish for the next few months. However, I would like to finish my novel by summer so that I can try to sell it; I can't believe I started it two years ago. I'm rather ashamed that it's been sitting for so long, so I just need to finish it.

To follow through on my decision, I left work early even though I was swamped, came home and grabbed my personal laptop, and went to Starbucks, where I churned out ~800 words. Not bad for an hour and a half, but I hit a stumbling point, so I came home and read a bit of one of my favorite Georgette Heyer novels for inspiration. Now, I'm going to go to bed so that I can get up early, go to work, and hopefully knock off early enough to write some more tomorrow. Goodnight!

la tortura

Ah, work. I keep trying to escape and it keeps sucking me back in. My to-do list is now about as long as my arm, but I'm going to bed rather than trying to get a better grip on it tonight. I also left work at six to meet Vidius Chandicus for a delicious dinner at Taco Bell, followed by a showing of 'Pan's Labyrinth'. We quite enjoyed ourselves, although the movie was somewhat more grotesque than I was expecting. There were several parts where I covered my face with my scarf, which was perhaps an unfortunate choice because it was shedding, and I ended up with particles in my eyes for the last third of the movie. Consequently, my eyes really hurt and were constantly welling up with tears, which must have made me look v. strange, especially since only the last five minutes or so were cry-worthy. But, I do highly recommend the movie, particularly if you like to watch movies that look like they were dreamt up by someone on crack.

There isn't much else to report about my day, and I have a smashing headache, so I'm going to go to bed and spare you any more details of the minutiae of my life. Don't worry, I'll be back tomorrow (after my writing class, which means I may have stories to tell...or not). Goodnight!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

don't panic

Today, I got up late, played some Tetris, started working, stopped working to look at furniture online, called my parents, went to Crate and Barrel for the second time in two days to look at furniture in person, and then did some desultory work while eating a tuna salad sandwich at one of my favorite Menlo Park cafes. I realized that my hands were about to freeze off as the wind blew across them while I was typing (I made the mistake of sitting outside, which was fine at first because I was wearing my black wool coat and the awesome pink/grey/cream plaid scarf that Claude gave me for Christmas last year, but my hands got too cold to continue). So, I came home, surfed the net, did some stuff for work, then made the mistake of turning on the Golden Globes. I ended up watching them from 8-11, which was fine, although I felt worse for it afterwards because I should have just finished my stuff for work instead.

Despite that, it's fine--procrastination was the name of the game this weekend (actually, to be precise, Tetris was the name of the game this weekend--I can see the little tetrimino shapes when I close my eyes, which is a bad bad sign), so it's little wonder that I didn't get anything at all done. I did clean out my fridge tonight, which was a good thing to do. I also got nearly all of my work done, but I didn't read the stories for my Wednesday night class, so I'll have to do that tomorrow night after I see the movie w/Vidya. I also need to go into work relatively early tomorrow, so that I can be fully conscious and well-fueled for some morning meetings, and so I should probably go to bed.

However, three things first:

1) In this article about anti-Americanism, one quoted stat was: 'Similarly, while 57 percent of Egyptians said they disliked American popular culture, a third said they appreciated American ways of doing business.' Now is it just me, or does this prove nothing? Couldn't the 43 percent of Egyptians who either like or feel neutral about American pop culture overlap with the 33 percent who appreciated American ways of doing business? To use this as a stat showing that anti-Americanism doesn't necessarily mean being against everything that America stands for makes no sense. Silly International Herald Tribune!

2) I really want to see 'The Fountain'; too bad it's already out of theatres. It was only nominated for best musical score at the Golden Globes tonight, but it seems like my kind of story--a love story spanning three completely different time periods, including the Spanish conquistador period and the distant future. Better yet, I looked it up on rottentomatoes.com, and one reviewer (who inexplicably gave it a thumbs down) commented 'Zardoz, anyone?' To compare 'The Fountain' to one of Sean Connery's best silver-screen forays, in which he runs around in a big red diaper and bandoliers for most of the movie, shows that 'The Fountain' must be one of the great unrecognized classics of modern cinema.

3) Happy birthday to my cousin Andrew! He's thirteen today (or rather, yesterday, since it's 1am)--hard to believe. That means that thirteen years ago right now, I was freezing to death in my grandparents' house while we were on a brief visit home from our year in Ukraine; their old-fashioned farmhouse doesn't have heat upstairs, which was particularly unfortunate in the middle of one of the bitterest cold spells that I can remember from my entire childhood. Luckily we got to go back to Ukraine, where the rest of our winter was nice and toasty thanks to the efforts of the local politicians, who ensured that we were always roasting from the pumped-in steam heat, even when entire neighborhoods had to do without. Thanks, Ukraine! And on that note, it's time for bed!

Monday, January 15, 2007

tetris attack

It's a good thing I've never tried cocaine--with my addictive personality, it only would have taken one dose for me to throw my life away and start selling my body on the streets to support my habit. Perhaps this is an exaggeration, but given all of my good intentions for the weekend, and compared to all of the hours I have spent playing Tetris instead, I feel that this is not completely beyond the realm of possibility. I'm still not done with some of my peer reviews; while I'm closer to being done than I was on Friday, the entire weekend has been an exercise in procrastination. I need to get better about procrastinating by doing other things that I should do instead (such as write my romance novel), but instead I played a lot of Tetris. In my defense, I hadn't played it much yet, and it was a Christmas present from my parents; then again, I requested it, and I knew when I put it on my list that I was courting disaster.

It turns out that Tetris for the Nintendo DS is pretty much the best game ever, if you discount 'Civilization' and if you don't like to play shoot-em-up games. It has the same old-school Tetris that I learned to love on the original Nintendo, plus five or six other completely different and shockingly fun versions. Some of the versions make use of the Nintendo DS's touchscreen; others are more puzzle-oriented and require logic to solve, rather than the constant-dropping madness of the original Tetris. As an example of how addictive it is, I turned on my Nintendo last night with the intention of playing one game of classic Tetris to clear my mind before working--but I cleared my mind so effectively that I came out of my tetramino-induced trance three hours later and decided to go to bed instead. Between Tetris and Meteos, the Nintendo DS is my new best friend. Appropriate, since I won't have any other friends if I don't put my time to better use and get my work done, since guilt at unfinished work keeps me from hanging out with people, even though I then use my alone time to play Tetris instead.

Yesterday, after I blogged about the stuff that arrived from Ireland, Terry called and wanted to hang out, so she came over and ended up staying for six hours. We talked for a few of those hours, and then I needed to work on my reviews, so she read a book while I worked. She started to get antsy, and so ordered and picked up a pizza, which we proceeded to eat before she left around eight. That's when I picked up Tetris, and you know the rest. This morning, I woke up, played Tetris (ha), ran some errands, ate lunch, came back and alternated between playing Tetris and writing reviews, then took a shower and called my parents.

I had dinner tonight with Claude; it's clear how little I was online this week and how infrequently I've been making my plans with my friends, since she took the unusual (for her) step of checking my blog to make sure I was still alive. We were going to go to our favorite Thai place, but instead went to Mike's Cafe Etc., which is a couple of blocks from my apartment. That restaurant is fantastic--why it's located behind a hardware store, I have no idea, but the food is some of the best around. We both ordered one of their evening specials (Claude had salmon, and I had this amazing skirt steak with garlic mashed potatoes), and followed it up by sharing a bread pudding that was out-of-this-world good. Although I don't know why good things are characterized by 'out of this world'--for some reason I can only picture Sputnik when I think of out of this world, or exploding supernovas, and while both of those things are cool, neither of them are particularly safe or welcoming for humans. Anyway, dinner was nice, and it was good to catch up w/Claude. Then I came home with the intention of working, but you can guess what I did instead. Actually, I was also looking at furniture online; I think that I want to buy a chest of drawers or an armoire to upgrade the stack of Rubbermaid tubs currently taking up precious real estate in my bedroom, but I'm not sure where or what type to buy.

Tomorrow, I don't have any choice about finishing this crap for work, and I can berate myself for not doing it earlier and therefore leaving it hanging over my head the whole weekend. I also want to at least start brainstorming a story for my class tomorrow, or work on my romance novel; either is acceptable, as long as I do one of them. Finally, I had made tentative plans to see 'Pan's Labyrinth' tomorrow, but I'm not sure if that will still happen, so we shall see. Then, it's back to the grind--but it's another short week, so hopefully it will go fast. Now, it's time for bed!

Saturday, January 13, 2007

christmas comes early!

I am blogging at the highly unusual time of 12:28pm because I just had a Christmas-like experience (well, not quite, because my parents rarely give me used items for Christmas, but still). As some of you may recall, there was a bomb scare the day that I was supposed to leave Dublin last summer, and consequently I had to leave a day later than anticipated. Because that one was the second or third scare in a week, I decided that it would be better if I only had two suitcases with me, rather than taking a third and paying the excess baggage fee as I had planned. So, I had packed one of my suitcases with things that, at the time, I decided I would be okay to lose forever if it came down to that, and left it in the hall closet of my apartment. I was supposed to go back to Dublin later in the summer, and so this had seemed like an ideal solution at the time.

However, my later trip fell through due to the incompetence of some of the people in my HR department, and so I was left wondering what I had abandoned in my moment of folly. Luckily, the incompetence of my HR department is matched by the generosity of some of the people who make reimbursement decisions, and so I was able to get my suitcase shipped to me at some unknown expense. It arrived yesterday as I was getting out of the shower, but luckily I realized that the doorbell was ringing over the noise of the music that I was playing while getting ready, and so I was able to accept delivery. I was too busy yesterday to open it, but I opened it this morning. Lo and behold, I had left behind a lot of really good stuff! It was like being reunited with a bunch of long-lost friends. This was all particularly welcome because it was mostly sweaters and sweatshirts, which I am very appreciative of given that it's January (and not July, as it was when I left everything). There were also several purses that I had forgotten about but am now reminded again how much I liked them; all of my European travel guides, which is key in case I ever go back; the winter mittens and scarf that I hadn't been able to find; my senior-year prom dress that has gotten quite a bit of use and that I had taken to Ireland in case of any formal parties (which didn't happen, because it's hard to go to formal parties if you're working 16 hours per day); and, of course, the suitcase itself, which is the only bad thing because it's an uncollapsible behemoth and I have no place to put it.

However, the funny thing is that I have been railing against my consumerist lifestyle and recognizing how ridiculous it is that I have so much stuff, and yet I got all giddy at the appearance of yet more stuff that I had been quite happily living without. As Vidya would say, 'what a jhoke'. Now, though, I should take a shower and do some work--I really must get done with everything today so that I can spend tomorrow and Monday relaxing.

Friday, January 12, 2007

here it's december everyday

It's literally freezing tonight; it's supposed to get down to 24 degrees tonight, which is practically unheard of and is near a record low for Palo Alto. It's quite amusing to me, in that sort of obnoxious way that I so adore, that the people here are probably more extremely concerned about global warming than the people in my home state, and yet Iowa has had one of the mildest winters ever, while the Bay Area had been surprisingly cold recently. Yes, I understand that climate change and global warming do not necessarily mean that every area will experience rising temperatures, but it still makes me laugh.

I was actually happier today as a result of the brisk temperatures, I think; maybe my dissatisfaction levels in California rise during fall and winter because it's not as cold as my body thinks it should be, and so there isn't the feeling of a year dying and being reborn that I had in Iowa. Rather than some bitter cold to cleanse everything before the next year, things just sort of trudge along in a steady state indefinitely, which doesn't do a lot for my strong need for closure at the end of key cycles. Today was great, though; it was cold all day, and my jacket wasn't thick enough, so I got to appreciate the cold while I was running around between buildings for a series of meetings this afternoon. Now, since my apartment lacks double-paned windows or any real insulation, I can feel the cold seeping in over my bed, which makes the comforter and jersey knit sheets feel necessary rather than just like I'm using them because I psychologically feel that the season demands jersey-knits. This feeling may get old fast, but it's kind of nice to have something mildly approaching 'winter', if only for a few days.

Nothing too exciting happened at work today; I came home with the intention of working some more to get through things so I would have less to do this weekend, but I lost motivation and so read a book instead. Now I'm going to bed so that I can get up tomorrow and hopefully finish the stuf I have to get done for work--then I'll still have two full days off that I can devote to whatever I want. Goodnight!

Thursday, January 11, 2007

love like winter

It turns out that it's a marginally good thing that I got used to drinking hot tea with lots of sugar and no milk; while the sugar can't be good for me, a new study shows that drinking tea with milk eliminates all of the beneficial properties of tea. Yay! As much tea as I drink, my vessels must be dilated to the point that I could inject a small hamster into my veins and it would be able to do laps with ease.

Anyway, today was a regular ol' day. I went to work and had an extremely annoying conference call that would have been just fine had I been able to maintain an even keel on my temper. I usually do a pretty good job of trying to understand others' viewpoints, facilitating a conversation, and reaching compromise--but there was something that was just stopping me from getting a rein on my annoyance, even though I kept trying to take deep breaths. I haven't had nearly as many ruinous temper moments in the past few months as I used to have, so today was a little surprising, but I could feel my pulse racing and my jaw clenching. I tried to be polite, and I didn't say anything that I shouldn't have said, but it must have been obvious that I at the very least wasn't happy--I'm usually very vocal and upbeat and driven on conference calls, and this one I just said things like 'what do you want to do about it?' and 'so can you come up with a plan?' Even think about it again is making the anger well up again, so I should stop.

I think I don't like the messy sides of anger, so I use sarcasm as a weapon instead because it's like constantly cutting the ground out from under my counterparts' feet without being as overtly hostile as a bomb or an uzi. I don't know that my super-sarcastic side is any better, really, than the side that I would have if I actually expressed my anger in a louder and more honest format, but it's more socially acceptable, and I'm usually good-natured enough that I can get by with some heavy-duty sarcasm when I feel like it. However, I bet that you could tell when I'm at my most angry, because I get so quiet that I'm not even sarcastic--being sarcastic would take me too close to the edge of the boiling (but carefully-lidded) cauldron where my temper resides.

The worst thing is that I either get angry for some completely justifiable reason (rarely), or, more often, I get angry at a really small thing that is just the last straw on a series of large things. Today was one of the latter times, and I really had no reason to be angry at all, which just made me feel worse about it. Luckily, the rest of the day was pretty good, and I came home to eat some mac and cheese and watch 'Scrubs' and 'The Office', so things definitely got better. Now I should go to bed so that I can get through tomorrow, and then enjoy the three-day weekend! Goodnight!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

nothing hurts like your mouth

Today was a bit ridiculous, and I'm actually not sure at all how I feel about it, which is strange, because I'm used to snapping to judgments and upholding them rigidly. But anyway, I went into work, got some terrible scrambled eggs (surprisingly dried out and nasty, considering that the food in my cafe is typically gourmet quality), and had a conference call w/Darragh. Then I had a bunch of meetings, had lunch w/Gyre and Lizzie, had a bunch more meetings, sent some really long emails about some annoying projects that I'm working on, and cut out around 5:15 to go to class.

Class was v. strange; since it's my second class, I came in with all the preconceptions from the first, without the additional perspective of having taken multiple classes. It was a completely different dynamic, which will take some getting used to. The lecturer seems more confident in his own teaching abilities, probably because it sounds like he's been doing this for awhile; the people in the class all seem more self-assured, probably because they signed up for something that wasn't labeled 'beginner'; and the class is more structured, with a more intense syllabus and more guidance on how to write critiques, etc. Also, we're each only turning in one story instead of two, which means that it can be longer (key, since I'm wordy as hell), and that we'll only workshop 2-3 stories per class (also nice, since it encourages more discussion about a story and makes you focus your efforts on one piece in the quarter). I'm turning my in at the end of January, so I should get started soonish. I don't know what I want to write yet, but hopefully something will come to me.

It's interesting, though; my hackles sort of went up at several points in the class, so the verdict is out on how well I'm going to play with the group. The benefit of having more people who know what they're doing is that the discussions could potentially be more interesting; the drawback is that more people may be slightly pretentious about what they've read and how they think fiction should be written. For example, as we introduced ourselves, I mentioned that I'm working on a romance novel; last quarter this drew some interest, but this quarter I felt a certain degree of condescension. You all know how well I respond to condescension. Then again, perhaps I just perceived condescension because I was already worried about whether or not I have the talent and ability to be a 'real' writer, and so just in case I *don't* have the talent, I want to be able to convince myself that being a romance novelist is a worthy profession.

Anyway, enough of all that (for now, at least). I came home, did some work, and then greeted Vidya, who is spending the night with me because she had late evening plans tonight and early morning plans tomorrow that made the drive to and from the evil city unpalatable. So, we chatted, had tea, and gossipped about my class; then, I tucked her in on my couch and retired to my bedroom, where I have finished writing this. Now I should go to bed, so that I can get up in time for a conference call tomorrow morning. I need to seriously slog tomorrow and Friday so that I can have the weekend completely to myself--three days for writing and relaxing would be wonderful. Goodnight!

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

we can pack up our old dreams and our old lives

I should be working, but I'm going to go to bed instead (even though it's only 9:30pm) and hope that I can recuperate with nine hours of sleep so that I can go in early tomorrow and slog through a bunch of stuff before an endless round of meetings. The bright spot is that my first class of the quarter is tomorrow night; hopefully it's not as awkward as the first meeting of the writing class that I took last quarter, but even if it is, I shall maintain hope that things will get better once people are more comfortable with each other.

It's end-of-year review season at work, which makes a normally-hectic period even worse than usual. In fact, I'm past due on my own self-assessment, but I'm having a lot of trouble writing it. Granted, I can churn out fluffy corporate-speak like nobody's business, so once I start writing it, it should be easy...it's just that I for some reason detest corporate navel-gazing, even if I do write about myself each and every night on this blog. I mean, here I write things like 'I had sushi tonight' and 'ohmigosh I *hated* this book I read', and not things like, 'Over the past two quarters, I feel that I have improved my project management skills, particularly in the areas of delegation and cross-team communication'. The problem with self-assessments is that you have to have a combination of pride (which I typically don't have, or at least don't like to express, probably because of sadistic teasing from childhood classmates (and some of their mothers) who were annoyed that I was smarter than them) and willingness to improve (which I do have, but most of the things that I can think to write are things that I know that I *should* work on, but that I don't have much interest/ability to do anything about--like I know that I *should* network more and meet people outside my department, but logically I know that I'm going to keep eating at my desk or with close friends because I'm both too shy and too busy to branch out).

So anyway, I'm having problems, but I absolutely have to do it--not that being late has ever hurt me in the past, considering that I've been late on this every single quarter and have still gotten raises and promotions, but still. Tonight, though, I'm going to avoid it and go to bed. But first I'm going to belt out my own personal rendition of Bon Jovi's 'Always' - I've been listening to it on repeat while typing this. Luckily the person living in the apartment that shares a wall with my living room moved out, and so I can sing as loud as I want for a few nights. Yay. Goodnight!

i once was lost and now am found

Maybe it's blasphemous to quote 'Amazing Grace' in relation to bling, but I'm too excited to care--I found the necklace and earrings that I was so upset about yesterday. I had to stop by the receptionist desk in my building to get a new retractable zip-cord thingie for my security badge (I have a bad habit of twirling my badge, so I wear out the cords every couple of months). On a whim, I decided to ask if she had any jewelry in the lost-and-found; I had lost my badge for a couple of days in August, and she didn't bother to email me even though my picture and name are on the badge, so I figured that the likelihood I would have heard about anonymous jewelry at reception was virtually nonexistent. Turns out that it was all there--both earrings and the necklace, in perfect condition except for some weird damage to one of the earring backs (which doesn't matter because they came with an extra back, which I still have). I have no idea how they got there--it's weird that I could have lost the necklace and the earrings in a way that they would be recovered together, but I'm not questioning my good fortune.

Conversely, my bad fortune is that I'm still working at 1:30 a.m.; but, I got to listen to Craig Ferguson's velvety Scottish accent in the background as a result, so I can't be too upset. I took a break from 7-9 to eat dinner and watch some tv, before working from nine until now. Hopefully if I work really hard this week, I won't have to do anything this weekend, but we shall see. Now, I should go to bed--morning will come all too soon. Goodnight!

Sunday, January 07, 2007

lying awake, intently tuning in on you

I don't really feel like blogging tonight, but I figure that Vidya will be annoyed if I don't give her a mention, since she visited me tonight. Hi Vidya! She stopped by for awhile and had a cup of tea on her way back up to San Francisco from San Jose, which was nice. Tea with Vidya and breakfast with Terry this morning were the only social functions I attended all weekend; I'm trying to stave off an impending cold, and so I didn't make any major plans. I also should have done a lot of work, but I couldn't motivate myself, and so I ended up thoroughly cleaning my apartment; the only remaining mess is a bunch of clothes in Rubbermaid tubs that I don't know what to do with, a situation that will be exacerbated tomorrow when I finally get a shipment of stuff that I had left in Ireland last summer. That shipment will include a bunch of clothes and books, which are the two things that I already have in overabundance, so my troubles will begin anew then.

I actually cleaned my apartment partially in a last desperate search for the emeralds that my parents gave me last Christmas, and I have determined that they are nowhere to be found. I wasn't going to tell my parents that I lost them because I didn't want to upset them, but I'm hoping that if I force myself to stop looking, they'll magically appear. In an effort to stop myself from continuing to search the same places over and over again, I'm going to list all of the places I've looked:

1) My medicine cabinet, linen closet, under-sink area, and makeup cabinet (and all bags and containers in those locations)
2) Closet shelves, clothes drawers, and every single purse in my big plastic bin of purses
3) Underneath the bed (I even pulled up the mattress and box springs, which was fine because I wanted to change my bedskirt anyway)
4) Underneath my bookcases
5) Underneath my couch cushions (this did, however, net me a pen, a watch, and some loose change)
6) The shelf in the hall closet
7) All of the decorative boxes, bowls, and knickknacks in my bedroom
8) My suitcases and backpacks
9) My car's center console and glovebox
10) My file cabinet at work

Essentially, this list is meant to serve the same purpose as all of the star stickers that I covered my room in when I was looking for my passport last spring--although the passport ended up being in the lining of my purse, and I've checked the linings of all of my purses, so that won't help me this time. Honestly, at this point I have to assume that they were a) stolen (it's possible that I left them on my desk at work overnight, since I have a bad habit of fiddling with jewelry), b) left in the pocket of something and then lost in a washing machine, or c) put away someplace safe that I now cannot remember. I'm hoping that it's c and that they'll turn up eventually; clearly wherever I put them last wasn't someplace that was unusual enough to prompt me to remember it, but it also wasn't where they belonged. Sigh. This is driving me crazy, though, and making me really sad, so I just need to calm down and forget about them for awhile, in hopes that they'll appear of their own accord.

I don't have anything else to report, so I think I'll go to bed early so that I can get up early and go to work. Luckily, I have a three-day weekend coming up (thank you, Martin Luther King!), so this week shouldn't be too awful. Goodnight!

Saturday, January 06, 2007

life in plastic - it's fantastic

It may shock some of you to know this, but there are times when I miss certain aspects of the Midwest. Before any of you family members get excited about a shout-out (ahem, mom), what I'm currently referring to is the Anderson-Erickson Dairy. According to their website, they're one of the largest independent dairies in the country, at a time when most independent dairies have been bought out. If I move back to the Midwest, I had originally intended to move within a day's drive of my family--but perhaps I should move within the dairy's distribution range (currently covering all of Iowa, as well as parts of Illinois, Missouri, and Kansas). The reason that I am missing them tonight is because I just ate some cottage cheese that I bought a few days ago; it was fine, but it tastes like sewer slime compared to AE's old-fashioned small-curd cottage cheese. AE's cottage cheese is the stuff that dreams are made of. The only problem with moving back to AE's distribution range is that I will then be able to easily procure their french-onion flavored sour cream dip--and I love that stuff so much that a constant stream of it would put me in danger of becoming one of those people who has to be removed from their house with a forklift, weighed at the nearest grain elevator, and then taken off to a weight-loss camp sponsored by Maury Povich. Ugh. Anyway, in honor of AE, here are a couple of fun facts from their website: 1) At any one time, a cow’s udder can hold 25 to 50 pounds of milk; 2) AE was the first dairy in the country to put the photos of missing children on milk cartons, after 2 young Iowa boys disappeared.

In other news, I needed to go to work today, but I couldn't motivate myself to do it; I actually got myself into the office by around 1pm (after sleeping for eleven hours; I'm coming down with a cold and so didn't set an alarm), but I couldn't focus, and so I came home. Because I was desperately avoiding the stuff that I need to do for work, I actually devoted myself to cleaning my apartment, which is usually the most dreaded thing on my to-do list but was bumped down to #2 by the stuff I have to do for work. I left my bedroom alone because it's strewn with clothes that I need to launder (tomorrow), but I dusted and vacuumed my living room, cleaned my bathroom, mopped my kitchen floor, flattened and recycled a bunch of boxes that had been taking up space behind the loveseat for a couple of months, and finally got around to hanging the painting that I bought in South Africa. My living room has never looked better, and thanks to the ridiculously expensive candle that I bought at the mall last night, it has never smelled better either. The smell was temporarily replaced by some frying odors (I made eggs over easy and hashbrowns w/onions, green peppers, and cayenne pepper for dinner), but supper was well worth it.

Tomorrow, I have to buckle down and do the work stuff that I was avoiding today, as well as do some laundry, change the sheets on my bed, and fold and put away my clothes. Then, I need to start thinking about what I'm going to write for this quarter's fiction class--I got an email today from the lecturer, and even though class doesn't start until Wednesday, he's already looking for two people to volunteer to bring a story on Wednesday so that it can be workshopped the following week. I can't be ready by then, and I want to take enough time on the story that I can turn in a second draft rather than a first, but I do want to start soon so that I can volunteer earlier rather than later in the quarter. I'm excited about the class; it's 'writing comic fiction and memoir', which should be fun. I've already decided that I should focus on writing something that's truly fictional and can stand on its own as a short story. Both of my pieces for last quarter's class ended up being the start of something much longer, but I want to practice with a concise, compact narrative. Also, I could write any number of hilarious things about my life, given that I have a propensity for finding ridiculous situations, and I tend to repeat them after the fact in an almost story-like manner anyway, but I don't think that recounting my past will really help me to develop my skills. We shall see, though; I'll probably post whatever I write when I'm done, so then you can see it too.

Finally, you know how I sometimes mention how great I think Craig Ferguson is? Well, for some reason, I was surfing the net and decided to read up on him. While reading the wikipedia article on him, I found that he was nominated for an Emmy last year, mostly because of his 30 January 2006 monologue about his father's death. As I've said in the past, his monologues are really long, winding, 10-15 minute segments about whatever he feels like discussing. In this case, his father had died the previous day, and so Craig decided to do one show about his father--so he used his monologue to tell the story of his father's life and their relationship. It was one of the most moving things I've seen in a long time. I just wish that his show was on earlier in the evening; it starts at 12:35am Pacific time, which means that I'm pretty much screwed for work the next morning if I stay up and watch it.

Even though it's only eleven p.m. on a weekend night, I think I'm going to go to bed; as I said, I have lots of stuff that I need to do tomorrow, and I think I'm getting sick in the bargain, which is not good. Goodnight!

Thursday, January 04, 2007

the world i know

Today was a long day, and tomorrow's going to be long as well; I was in the office by eight (after hitting snooze for 45 minutes; I intended to get in by 7:15), slogged all day, then had dinner and saw a movie w/Claudia and Sri. I really should have stayed at the office and worked--I have a ton of stuff to do tomorrow, and it's going to be more brutal (and probably drag into the weekend) because I've played the past two nights. But, I wanted to see 'Babel', and this was the last showing at any theatre in this area (unless they choose to bring it back because of the awards buzz that it's getting). So, the three of us met at a pizza place in Palo Alto, ate a tasty vegetarian pizza and some chocolate truffles that Sri had been carrying around for three weeks, and then picked up some gelato before going to the movie theatre.

I actually really liked the movie. I could see how it wouldn't be the most well-loved movie ever; I don't think I have any desire to see it again, because it's so freakin' depressing, and I think there are some valid criticisms to be made about its ability (or perhaps its unnecessary need) to tie four different storylines together. However, I loved the cinematography and style, and I thought that the movie did a fantastic job of showing just how difficult it is for people to know a story, how easy it is to leap to conclusions, and how quickly simple mistakes can spiral dangerously out of control due to misunderstanding and miscommunication. I particularly liked the deaf girl's contribution to the movie, even though her storyline was the most tangential and unrelated of the four; the scene where she was on drugs in the techno club and the sound kept cutting out to show her perspective was trippy and heartbreaking.

However, I will say that Walter perhaps had the most accurate experience of the movie--he saw it in Holland, and since 90% of the dialogue is not in English, all of those other languages were subtitled in Dutch, which means he could have only understood the dialogue in the Brad Pitt/Cate Blanchett scenes, and some of the stuff with their kids. Having seen the movie now, I'd be curious to know what exactly he got out of the rest of it--but if you're going to watch a movie about miscommunication and disaster, you might as well not be able to understand the language at all, right?

I was going to stay up and work, but I think I'm going to go to bed and wake up early--wish me luck! Then, the weekend will come, and I shall spend it doing some work and hopefully writing my romance novel. Don't feel sorry for me for having to work, though--at least since it's the weekend, I can do it in my pajamas, rather than in uncomfortable clothes. Yay!

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

i'll forget your face, i swear i will

I had to go to the city tonight, which is my least favorite place ever. My friend Durand accurately summed up San Francisco as 'rain and trouble', amusing me to no end. I was supposed to meet a group of former expats at 8pm at a Korean place on Geary Street; I got there before they did, only to discover that the restaurant was closed. I called to tell them this, then walked the two blocks back to my car in the rain (since I had consciously decided not to bring my raincoat because it wasn't raining in the South Bay, I got a little wet); upon reaching my car, they called me back to tell me that they had called the restaurant and the restaurant said that they were open, so I must have been in the wrong place. So I walked back to the restaurant in the rain, where I verified that I had been right. They picked me up, we looked for parking, and then went to the closed restaurant's sister restaurant down the street, where we waited for a table for at least half an hour. So I didn't actually eat until around 9:15, I now smell like woodsmoke from the barbecue, and I didn't get anything done that I needed to get done tonight, which means that I should go in really early tomorrow to take a crack at some stuff. Ugh.

But, I did get to see Durand, which was fantastic; he's been in India since April and will probably be there for another 6-12 months, which is completely hardcore. He made me feel v. jealous and nostalgic for India--someone come over and smack me upside the head to knock some sense into me before I volunteer for another stint overseas. I have to keep telling myself that a foreign assignment will not fix all of my woes, but it's so hard to be sensible sometimes--particularly when being sensible deprives me of the opportunity to go to the Himalayas with Durand. Sigh. Oh, well, I'll survive, trapped in my posh little California world waiting for some magical, chaotic occurrence to come and rescue me.

Now I should go to bed so that I can sleep for six or so hours before dragging myself into the office. Next week will hopefully be better, but this week is hell, so wish me luck!

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

someday love will find you--break those chains that bind you

I was actually kind of excited about going back to work today, which was extremely surprising, given that I'd been on vacation for almost two weeks. But, this week is a short week, and next week is just a lead-up to a three-day MLK weekend. I don't currently have any plans to celebrate Dr. King's legacy, but I do intend to sleep and work on my romance novel. I wrote ~1500 words on the plane yesterday--pretty good, considering I was writing it out on paper because the distance between me and the seat in front of me was too small to allow for comfortable typing. At that rate, I should be able to write a full-length novel (~100,000 words) in 135 hours, which would probably end up being 2-3 months of steady writing outside of work. Of course, this doesn't count the time required to plot, develop the characters, or make extensive post-draft revisions. But, in the case of this novel, I already have a fairly strong idea of the plot, and approximately 28,000 words (not all of which is shared on zee romance novel blog--I stopped posting there due to concerns about theft, and should probably take down that blog altogether).

I'm all for making new year's resolutions and then failing to keep them, but I'm currently serious about finishing my novel in the next 3-4 months. Regardless of how busy I am at work, there are always improvements that I can make in my in-office efficiency so that I can keep some precious free hours outside of the office, and my weekends have generally been my own. This may result in some curtailing of friendship-related activities, but I'm not dedicated or stupid enough to avoid socializing entirely. However, I do want to make sure that I give myself the time necessary to finish this; I think I need at least an hour's span to make writing worthwhile, and preferably 2-3 hours, so I need to keep a couple of nights and at least one full weekend day free for my efforts. I'll also have to do assignments for my writing class, presumably, but that should be fun regardless of how the book is going.

There isn't anything else worth reporting; I think I'll go to bed early so that I can get up early and go to the office. Goodnight!

Monday, January 01, 2007

nothing changes on new year's day

The title of the post hearkens back to an earlier era of U2, back when they spent more time writing songs and less time choosing which designer sunglasses to wear to appearances at the UN. I miss those days!

I'm back in California, after an uneventful trip back from Des Moines. I have to go to work tomorrow, so I'm going to sign off now and go to bed...but expect me to return to my usual verbosity in the coming days. Happy new year, everyone!