Wednesday, May 30, 2007

i'm an alien, you're an alien

Today should have been more stressful than it was, but that's because I blew off some stuff that I probably should have done so that I could leave and have coffee with Vidya, followed by dinner with Subz (aka Lauren). I was half an hour late to coffee w/Vidya, but happily she seemed to forgive me, and we had a good (albeit depressing) conversation. Dinner with Lauren was also great...tonight was definitely a 'talk about my feelings' night all around, which was good, but made it impossible for me to motivate myself to work when I got home.

Even though it's ten p.m., I think I'm going to go to bed; part of my problem may just be that I feel exhausted. Something funny happened today as well--one of my coworkers took a stab at dividing some upcoming responsibilities between the two of us, and he took all of the projects that I consider most interesting/visible/intense, leaving me with projects that I don't think will really challenge me at all. What's funny is that this would actually be good for me in the sense that what I would be left with would give me a reasonable workload, and yet I'm still annoyed because I don't want to be bored either. Clearly, I don't know what I really want! Now, though, I think I should go to bed. Goodnight!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

thanks for the memories even though they weren't so great

So I'm still in a brooding mood - it doesn't help that this weekend made me feel that there are aspects of my life that have now definitively passed me by. For one, I can never be a nineteen-year-old cocaine addict. For another, I'm officially well into my mid-twenties, which is neither a comfortable nor an exciting time. Anyway, I went to work today even though I woke up feeling nauseous and really just wanted to call in sick; I had too many important meetings to go to, including a forum talk that I had set up with one of my company's leading political lobbyists, which was v. cool. Setting up these talks has nothing at all to do with my core responsibilities, but it's kind of cool to force myself to take time out once a month to go to these talks (since I have to go, since I organized them--there are lots of great talks at work, but I usually don't make time for them).

All that greatness aside, though, I'm feeling distinctly unmotivated. I mean, I'm excited about my new role at work to some extent--lots of great challenges and responsibilities, and I love the people I'm going to be working with. However, I'm not really excited about a long-term future that involves my current ratio of work:friends, which is pretty much in direct correlation with my ratio of cash:leisure. I boycotted a little today by chatting online with Walter--it was the first long conversation I'd had with him in months, and we used to talk almost every day. So, I clearly need to figure out a next step that gives me more time to pursue things I'm passionate about.

I started thinking about phd programs again--not that I'm sure that's what I want to do, but I think I'm perhaps stronger at analytical writing than I am at creative writing, and so perhaps it makes more sense to apply for phd programs this fall rather than trying to take time off to write a romance novel. The problem is that if I try the romance novel thing and it doesn't work out, I'm a year farther behind in applying for grad school--and at this point, even if I apply this fall, I'll be 27 when I start, which makes me 33 when I finish, which is just depressing.

Bleh. Luckily there is still time to decide things, but right now I'm exhausted. Goodnight!

Monday, May 28, 2007

here comes a lie...we will always be true

I was in Salt Lake City this weekend for Zach and Maggie's wedding. The ceremony was absolutely lovely - it matched their personalities, and the love that they have for each other is a beautiful thing. It made me cry the whole way through, which wasn't so bad considering that I was in the back row (as opposed to when I cried all through Katie's wedding, which was worse since I was a bridesmaid). Of course, my tears were also hidden underneath my dark Versace sunglasses, and they were silent rather than wracking sobs, so it was all good.

The weekend overall was very nice. Claude and I got in on Saturday, spent the afternoon relaxing in the hotel, and then met up with everyone at the rehearsal dinner (although I don't know if it counts as a rehearsal dinner, since absolutely everyone was invited). I ate a lot of pieces of watermelon covered in goat cheese, and more importantly reconnected with a lot of old friends. Virtually everyone from that old group in my freshman dorm was there, and so it was v. nice to relive old times (which, scarily, were almost eight years ago!). Sunday, Claude and I went wading in the Great Salt Lake (smelly, shallow, and full of brine shrimp), had lunch at Chili's with the crew, and then went to the wedding. Happily, Adit also stayed in our hotel room with us, and so the three of us had some great family time before bed each night. Granted, the family time ended up being depressing, particularly the second night, since it's clear that we're not getting any younger and there was a pervasive feeling of doom and loss...but at least we were together.

Also, I had about five bottles of chardonnay and pinot grigio over the course of the two nights, so my decision-making was not the strongest, but I managed to keep myself out of trouble. A full weekend without my laptop and without thinking about work was devastating for my ambition, however--I came back completely unmotivated to go back to the office tomorrow, and my head is once again filled with dreams of grad school. This is probably fueled by the farewell dinner that I just had with Renee, who is moving to SoCal this week and will be pursuing a Ph.D. in literature at UCLA this fall...I'm so happy for her that she escaped the siren's call of my company and is pursuing her dreams, but it makes me wonder what happened to mine.

Anyway, I don't want to brood tonight, I did enough of that when I spontaneously drove to Half Moon Bay this afternoon. I'll save the brooding for another time..right now, I should go to bed!

you fight me for my love - lyrics

For some reason, my blog gets a lot of hits for this song called 'Fighting For My Love'. I've only ever heard it on this one episode of 'Scrubs' where JD and Elliot get together for a day or two, so I can usually tell if that episode has been repeated someplace by the flurry of hits that I get from a specific geographic location.

Anyway, I thought I'd post the lyrics, since it took me awhile to find it myself - this is for the randoms who make it onto my blog:

Nil Lara - Fighting For My Love

I was taught when I was young to share myself to show my love
Smile at everyone Oh to shine above the sun
Now I'm standing next to you I think I've changed my point of view
I've noticed you can tell
You're fighting for my love

For my love, yes you're fighting for my love
For my love, yes you're fighting for my love

Many times I tried to talk to let you know someday I'd walk
In me you found a drug an addiction to my love
I could swear I let you know I tried one day to let you go
You fight me all along
Yes you're fighting for my love

For my love, yes you're fighting for my love
For my love, yes you're fighting for my love

I know how it feels I've been burned one time before
I still feel the scars on my lips
When I touch when I love when I kiss
When I kiss

Now I'm calling back for you I figured out I'm missing you
You're nowhere to be found oh I've asked and looked around
Seems you found a better fish I must confess I had a wish
To love you all along
But you're fighting for my love
Fighting for my love

For my love, yes you're fighting for my love
For my love, yes you're fighting for my love

Fight me

Oh yes yes yes you're wanting my love
You don't know how you're missing my love
Oh yes yes yes you're needing my love
You don't know how you're fighting my love

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Yay mormons!

Claude and I made it to salt lake city, where we attended Zach and
Maggie's rehearsal dinner tonight. It was awesome...I haven't seen
Chris Boyd in two years, and there are many people whom it is good to
catch up with. Tomorrow is the actual ceremony, which I am looking
forward to...Zach and Maggie are pretty much perfect for each other,
so I anticipate that tomorrow will be lovely.

Okay, time for bed...and here's hoping tomorrow's hangover won't be too brutal!

Friday, May 25, 2007

you aren't the wind beneath my wings

The good thing about working late, as I have mentioned before, is that I get to watch Craig Ferguson. His opening monologue was pretty good tonight, and there was one particularly funny moment (which won't sound funny here at all) when he was talking about how 'Pirates of the Caribbean' has led to pirates showing up all over the media, which then cut to the '60 Minutes' opening. The '60 Minutes' opening contained 'I'm Steve Kroft...I'm Leslie Stahl...I'm a pirate' (where the pirate was Craig Ferguson dressed in this ridiculous pirate get-up). Ha!

Craig made up for the fact that I also watched the local evening news. I really hate the local news in the Bay Area; it's all poorly-done and annoying. Case in point - there was one point in the broadcast where the newscaster said 'The FDA wants us to warn you that you should not eat any imported fish labeled 'monkfish'. It may actually be puffer fish, which is poisonous and could kill you. For more information, visit our website.' Aughh! If this is an actual, serious warning, why did they waste so much time discussing the avg. ounces and costs of all the major cereals (which was the lead story), when they could have been discussing puffer fish? This was clearly just a ploy to drive traffic to what is doubtlessly an annoying, overly-complicated website.

Work today was fun in the sense that I had lots of fun meetings, and annoying in the sense that I didn't have any time to check email. Coupling that with the fact that I ignored all email yesterday due to crunch time on the preso I gave last night, and also the fact that I still haven't read all my email from vacation, and I'm feeling seriously behind. I've decided to just accept that feeling--rather than work all night, I first had dinner w/Claude at Mike's Cafe. We split the lasagna and the bread pudding, both of which were delicious, and I'm glad I got to be there when Claude had her first enjoyable meal since taking her wisdom teeth out last week [I suppose I should say 'since having oral surgery last week', since my earlier phrasing makes it sound like she removed them herself with some sort of primitive cutting instrument in her garage]. After dinner, though, I did work from 9:30ish until now. Boo.

Tomorrow promises to be another fun day, and I have to leave work on time to pack, buy a pair of shoes to match my dress, and buy a wedding present for Zach and Maggie. So, wish me luck! Now it's time for bed.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

some days when i'm far away in a lonely room in a cold seclusion

Despite the fact that I was so stressed that I could barely eat lunch (not to mention that I didn't really have time for it), today was a great great day. For one, I got up early so that I could blowdry my hair, leading to several compliments (which I chose to take as positives, and ignore the implied negative about how my hair looks the other 29 days of every month). For another, the cafe in my building opened, so I can have scrambled eggs every morning (which will do nothing good for my cholesterol). For a third, I got to work on not one, but two extremely important powerpoints today--basically, whenever I wasn't in a meeting, I was sitting at my desk with the door closed playing with slides and figuring out how to get my point across.

But the best thing was that in the meeting I had with the directors (conveniently scheduled from 6-7pm) they not only gave me what I asked for, but gave me the super-special bonus of fulfilling a request that I've been pressing them for repeatedly for the past two years. I just threw a slide in about it in the wild, desperate hope that I'd get 25% of my request, but I got it all! Yay!

This is the worst blog post I've ever written.

Anyway, I'm really excited about my new job at work, even if it means that I'm going to be overworked. I've kinda come to accept the fact that I bring this on myself, but at least now I feel overworked by something that I *want* to do, rather than something I feel *compelled* to do. So I guess that's a win, right?

I actually made it home by nine p.m., where I watched a little TV while working until now. I should really go to bed...I have two days of hard slogging to go, and then I leave Saturday for Zach's wedding! So, goodnight!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

this ain't a scene, it's a goddamn arms race

Slogging is going to be the death of me - for someone who dreams of writing a romance novel, I sure do give way too much of my soul to my job. I was in the office until 10:30 last night, which is why I didn't blog; I managed to leave at 6:15 tonight, primarily because I desperately needed to do laundry so that I could wear something clean for the meeting that I have with the directors tomorrow night. The role I'm moving into now is going to be tons of responsibility and work, which is good for my career, but probably bad for my personal relationships.

To make myself feel better after that sad statement, I looked up that movie that I watched the last night that I was in Kiev - gentle reader, you may remember that I watched snippets of 'Volkodav' (sans subtitles, so I didn't understand the dialogue) and kept my brother awake from laughing so hard. If you want to see some screenshots and read a review, you can check it out here - I'm going to have to rent it if it ever comes out on DVD in America!

Also, it is understandable why this felt like a cheap ripoff of 'Lord of the Rings' - their entire budget was only $19million. I found this out from this story (http://news.rin.ru/eng/news///9300/6//). The English is waaay off--I wonder which auto-translation software suggested the title 'Sea rovers of Caribbean Sea: Damnation of black pearl'?? Anyway, $19million is nothing in the movie world, particularly since they were trying to do special effects similar to the Bridge of Khazad-Dum sequence, so I am now impressed with how much they actually did accomplish.

Okay, now that I have cheered myself up, it's time for bed!

UPDATE: you can WATCH THE TRAILER for "Volkodav" here!! - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ipyYXVn15mI&mode=related&search=

Monday, May 21, 2007

happy birthday swampuncle!

Sorry, I meant to say this on Saturday, but I didn't blog that night - happy birthday Uncle Mark!

Sunday, May 20, 2007

we'll be the worst of best friends

What a crazy weekend! Friday night, I succumbed to my desires and bought a new car - a Toyota RAV4, to be exact, with all the trimmings. It's a 6-cyl 4wd with a sunroof, 6-cd changer, heated leather seats, bluetooth for my cellphone, the ability to plug in my ipod, tons of cargo space, etc. I'm in love! I loved driving my other car, but the time had come to upgrade, and this RAV4 is leagues beyond my Pontiac in terms of handling and smoothness.

So Saturday, I took my lovely new car up to the city and had a late lunch with Tom and Julie. I hung out with them the rest of the afternoon, and then met up with Vidya. We had coffee and cake, and then went to a dance performance that Vidya had wanted to go to. She was going to see one of her friends perform, and I went with her. The first dance was actually pretty good, particularly since one of the dancers was an amputee, which made it all the more interesting. However, the second dance wasn't a dance, it was more of a 'performance art' piece, and I despised it. Actually, I loved it because it was so bad and I knew that I could walk out and give Vidya a rough time for dragging me to a dance performance.

The basic gist of the performance was that there was the 'dancer', who also choreographed, some dude who 'danced' with her, and then a band in the background. The 'dancer' started off the show balanced horizontally on the back of a wing chair, while the lead 'singer' read some text about slaughtering pigs, and the dude shaved the 'dancer's' leg. After he finished shaving one leg, he sat down to read a newspaper, and the 'dancer' writhed around in the chair while the singer sang 'la la la laaaah' over and over again. Later, the dude got up and shaved the chick's other leg. Then she writhed around some more. Oh, and did I mention that she was only wearing a really short white nightgown and white panties, which she proceeded to flash through most of the performance? Call me prudish, call me Victorian, but I really don't enjoy watching someone wearing white underwear lean backwards over a wing chair and spread their legs as wide as possible, nor do I consider that to be 'dancing'. It would perhaps be 'dancing' if she were writhing around a pole while guys were putting money into her waistband, but I really hate it when performance art is provocative just for the sake of being provocative (which pretty much means I hate most performance art).

The third dance was good (traditional Indian moves set to slightly more modern music), and then we left at intermission. That means that we missed the second-half piece titled 'Blood of the Virgin', which is too bad, but I can only take so much fun for one night. I spent an hour or so chatting with Vids in her apartment, then came home. Happily, I managed to sleep until around ten a.m., which was key since I woke up yesterday at 6:30am and couldn't get back to sleep. I spent the day doing v. little - I had lunch, talked to my parents, and then conned Oniel into taking me to Fremont to pick up my old car from the dealership. I just watched 'Office Space' on tv, and now it's time to sleep. Goodnight!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

nobody knows the trouble i seen

Today kinda sucked--I was really busy, and I'm also still jetlagged to the point that I'm about as competent as a singed grapefruit. I don't even know what that means, but the fact that that was all I could think about for a simile indicates my problem. So the worst thing that happened today was that I completely wiped out in the hallway, seriously bruising my knee and cascading my coffee all over the cube that I fell next to. The guy in the cube was seriously shocked, but luckily it didn't land on him. Also luckily I had put lots of milk in it, so it didn't burn my hand off in the process. But, it was not a particularly enjoyable situation, particularly since my next meeting involved someone who cried. Ugh.

Now, though, even though I have tons to do I'm going to go to bed - tomorrow's soon enough to keep stressing, and my brain will probably function better once I get some sleep.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

can't you see these skies are breaking?

Happy 22nd birthday, Michael!! My little brother is all grown up :(

I'm so tired that I almost feel drunk from fatigue. I was supposed to meet Claude at Cafe Borrone for a late dinner, but was so tired that I accidentally went to Coupa Cafe instead, which is in PA rather than Menlo Park, despite the fact that I've gone to Cafe Borrone at least fifty times. Luckily it didn't take too long to rectify my mistake, so we hung out and I got the scoop on John's wedding (which sounds like it was fun, but couldn't have possibly been as much fun as drinking homemade herbal vodka out of a sprite bottle in Ukraine).

Last night was rough--I had to go to a work-related dinner at Nola's (which was much different from Tammy's birthday party at Nola's, let me tell ya), and then I wasn't able to sleep until midnight, and then I woke up at four a.m. and laid in bed until six. Ugh. Hopefully tonight will be better! Sleep is imperative - I got back from vacation with 800+ unread emails, and I'm booked almost solid in meetings for the next two days :( So, goodnight, and hopefully I'll get back in touch with the people in my life sometime in the next few months or something.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

sleepytime

I made it back to my apartment--it's one a.m., and I somehow have to drag myself into the office in seven hours :( So, it's time for bed!

Monday, May 14, 2007

sweet like candy to my soul

I'm sitting in Minneapolis, in a Chili's' listening to Dave Matthews,
which is pretty perfectly Midwestern. I am also the proud new owner of
a fly fishing tshirt--I'm so dirty that I can't take it anymore, so I
bought the first available shirt that came in a color that vaguely
matched my pants. The shirt also has some vaguely sexual innuendos
related to fly fishing, so now I just look like I'm making a slightly
unfortunate fashion statement.

'Dani California' just came on, so things are getting better...and I
just discovered that the blackberry's predictive text considers
'validpenis' to be an alternative for California. Ha!

The sad thing is that my flight doesn't take off for another hour and
a half, and then it's four hours to san francisco, and then I have to
get my car out of long term parking and drive home. Since I woke up at
5:30 am kiev time, this means that I will have been traveling for
almost 28 hours when I walk into my apartment. This portends a rather
miserable day at work tomorrow...I don't know what my calendar looks
like yet, but I bet I have to be there by nine at the latest. Sigh!

But, kiev was fantastically fun...I will post pictures when I get them
off my camera. As long as my family makes it to Iowa tonight, I will
consider this a smashing success! Now it's time to eat...will blog
later.

amsterdarn

I went through Holland for the second time in less than two weeks, and
I once again failed to see Walter, strippers, or Walter and strippers.
Clearly my impressions of Holland are positive.

Our plane is taking off...when we land, we'll be in America! Or, a
watery grave, but hopefully America. Love you all!

Goodbye Ukraine!

When I blog again, I will be in the West!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

an american in kiev

I just watched snippets of this awesome movie called, I think,
Volkodav. Basically, imagine that there are a bunch of really dirty
Russians wandering around in the forest, and whenever they have
trouble coming up with a plot device, they borrow shamelessly from
'lord of the rings'. The main characters are dirty blonde versions of
Aragorn and Arwen, and there's also a midget king with a tasseled
umbrella, some guy with a scarred face and missing eye, this awesome
scene with a mongol horde, etc. The main guy has a pet bat who saves
him at the end. The last scene is a dead ringer for the Bridge of
Khazad-Dum sequence...the hero supercharges his sword with a lightning
bolt, kills this monster made of rock and fire, dies himself, and is
then reborn. Awesome!

Then again I have to remind myself that I may have missed a lot since
I didn't understand the dialogue, but I have a feeling that I wouldn't
have enjoyed it so much if I knew what was actually going on.

It's time for bed...we are in kiev, but leaving for the airport early
tomorrow. I'll be back in the States by Tuesday!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

i'm a big big girl in a big big world

I've quite enjoyed the musical selections in the restaurant where we
have been eating dinner...they've been a strange combination of
one-hit wonders from America and Russian or Ukrainian drinking songs
and rap. I haven't heard 'Lady in Red' this many times since the days
when I used to watch 'Dodgeball' every couple of weeks.

Today was very laid back...we wandered around the central market, said
goodbye to Vova's parents, and then spent the rest of the day sitting
around our house. Tomorrow we're going to Kiev to see Little Sergei,
and we're spending the night in Kiev so that we can go to the airport
early on Monday morning.

I'm sad that my vacation is almost over, particularly since I haven't
planned another one yet, but it will be good to be home. Now, though,
I should go to bed...Kiev awaits!

Friday, May 11, 2007

mclenin

Today was a great day for me, and perhaps a not so great day for my
family. We went to the great and ancient city of Kiev with Sveta, and
we walked around for hours, until I was afraid that my family was
going to mutiny. Lucky for me, I have all their flight information and
the only working internet connection, so they need to keep me close to
make sure that I don't cancel their flights!

We visited the Lavra, which is the site of some crazy Orthodox
catacombs. Then, we had a late lunch at McDonalds, which has taken
over Kiev...when we were here thirteen years ago, there weren't any,
but I saw at least three today. We wandered through the ongoing
revolution in the main square, went to St. Sophia's church, then
walked down one more steep hill lined with souvenir kiosks before
finding our driver.

We luckily got to see Sveta's two boys, ages 5 and 3, for a few
minutes...they are absolutely adorable. But, it was hard to say
goodbye to Sveta again...she really never expected to see is again,
and there are no guarantees that we will make such a trip again, so
the goodbye was sad.

You are spared my brooding and ruminations tonight because I can't be
suitably expansive and melancholic while typing on this ridiculous
keyboard, so I shall go to bed instead. But, when I get back to the
States, I shall post many pictures. Goodnight!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

radio silence

Sorry that I didn't blog yesterday...we had a bit of a mishap with the
phone, which led to sixteen hours without internet, which caused quite
a bit of panic for me and my brother, since we are truly addicted.
Anyway, we are all still alive...although that may change with my
astonishing rate of mushroom consumption. In fact, the woman who made
us lunch today even called her mushroom dish 'chernobyl mushrooms',
which made me laugh.

Yesterday was Victory Day (aka V-E Day in the States), and so Vova and
his family came out to our place and barbecued. Today, we had lunch
with Yuri and his wife...Yuri was our translator during our first few
weeks in Ukraine, and we always suspected that he was providing
reports on us to the KGB, but he's a really nice guy and it was good
to see him. Then, Vova's dad took us to this big park in Uman, which
is 100 km south of here. It was quite impressive, although I would
like to know how many serfs were killed in the construction of the
park...they basically constructed all of these rock formations and
waterfalls to look natural, which couldn't have been an easy task
using the tools available 211 years ago.

On the way back to Bila Tserkva, our van was making a terrible noise,
so we may have transportation problems tomorrow. However, that is a
problem for another day...right now, I should go to bed!

P.S. Aunt Becky, we didn't see the radioactivity counter in the city
center...either they are trying to move on with their lives, or the
levels are so high that they don't even want to bother. Lenin's statue
survives.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

minor celebrity

I awoke today to the roosters crowing and the sun streaming into my
face...there's nothing I can do about the roosters (unless the rifles
on the walls of the restaurant in our complex still work), but tonight
I will have to wear my facemask to bed so that I don't get woken up by
the sun at five a.m.

We had our usual ham and radioactive mushroom omelettes for breakfast,
and then we went into Bila Tserkva to meet up with Svetlana (aka
Sveta). We sat in her mother's living room drinking tea for an hour,
and then we went on a bit of a walking tour. We saw a real Orthodox
church (gorgeous...if you have never been, I recommend
wholeheartedly...the icons and paintings are amazing and
simultaneously mysterious in a way that I can't explain). Then we went
to the church that the town is named after (Bila Tserkva means white
church). This church is catholic, and like other catholic churches
they seem to survive mostly on tourism...they charge an entrance fee,
and the walls are covered in paintings which are for sale, making it
feel more like a gallery than a place of worship.

After this, we saw the statue of Yaroslav the Wise, who founded Bila
Tserkva in 1032. Then we went to the local museum, which was a riot in
ways which I shall not try to explain now. We had a delicious lunch
nearby (it's amazing how many good restaurants there are!), and then
went to the canning factory to surprise one of our old acquaintances.
He gave us a large jar of birch juice, which is now sitting sketchily
on our counter.

Tonight we had another excellent dinner, this time with Sveta, as well
as Sasha and his wife Kate. Sasha used to bring us eggs and milk and
potatoes from his village to our apartment, and it was very good to
see them.

Tomorrow is Victory Day, the holiday marking the end of World War II,
and Vova and his family are coming out here to barbecue. So, i suppose
I should go to bed. Sounds like things are wet in Iowa, but I hope
everyone else is well!

Monday, May 07, 2007

good, better, best

'Allo, comrades! Today was a very lovely day in Ukraine. We awoke to
greasy, radioactive mushroom omelettes, which were delish. Then, we
went out to Vova's parents' dacha (country home), where we toured
their orchard and enjoyed a light lunch of crimean red champagne and
bread with ham and pats of butter so thick that I thought they were
cheese. Yum! We also tried to communicate with Gennady's broken
English, my father's broken Russian, and a russian/English dictionary.
I was amused or bemused or something when Gennady told me that he
didn't used to like me, but he likes me now. Is that a compliment?

In the afternoon, we wandered around Bila Tserkva for awhile and saw
many of the old places we used to hang out. Then we went for a drive,
but I got carsick because my feet don't touch the ground in the van we
have, and the ride was really bumpy.

After the drive, we had a delicious dinner in the restaurant at our
complex...they offered us lard and vodka, but instead we had pork
steaks, fried potatoes with garlic, this disgusting raw fish with a
mayo and mustard sauce, some delicious fried potato-and-chicken
patties (that may not sound good, you'll have to trust me), and topped
it off with some cherry iced concoction that tasted like frozen cherry
pie filling. So if my brother and I die tonight, it's because we got
poisoned by bad ice.

Tomorrow promises to be another fun-filled day! To aunt Becky...invite
me to your island someday, I want to see it. To everyone else,
goodnight!

Sunday, May 06, 2007

you don't know how lucky you are, boys

My guidebook said to avoid mushrooms because of the high chance of
radioactive contamination...and both of the meals I had today were
chock full of them. And let me be the first to tell you that
possibly-contaminated mushrooms are even tastier than their safer
counterparts!

The first full day of our ukrainian odyssey was very relaxing. We had
breakfast, went to vova's apartment for tea, and then spent a couple
of hours wandering through Alexandria Park with Vova, his son, and his
parents. After our rambles, we came back here for lunch (or rather
dinner since the service was so slow), then went back into Bila
Tserkva for groceries, then came back to our house and successfully
kept ourselves awake until a reasonable bedtime.

Now, a few quick observations:

1. Living here now would be a breeze compared to thirteen years
ago...while my father used to buy meat in an open-air market and
judged its quality by looking at the teeth of the dead animal, today
we went to a bona fide supermarket with a nicer meat and fish counter
and more delicious bread than you can get in most places in the
States.

2. Restaurants also seem better...in twenty-four hours, I haven't been
served anything that tested my gag reflex. As a matter of fact, I've
actually enjoyed everything I've eaten.

3. We have yet to be forced to drink any vodka...Vova said that since
things are better now, people don't need vodka as much. We'll see if
that holds up when we hang out with people who haven't made a fortune
since the fall of the USSR.

Okay, I'm tired of typing on this tiny keyboard, so I'm going to go to
bed. Say hello to America for me!

Saturday, May 05, 2007

back in the ussr

We made it to Ukraine on schedule, after many hours spent crammed into
small airplane seats. Vova and Little Sergei were waiting at the
airport for us, bearing flowers and an extra van to haul all of our
luggage, which was nice.

The drive from the airport to Bila Tserkva made it shockingly apparent
how much things have changed since we left thirteen years ago. For
one, there are gas stations everywhere, obviating the need to buy
petrol and carry it around with you. For another, there are billboards
for mcdonalds everywhere. For a third thing, the checkpoints are no
longer manned with soldiers toting kalshnikovs. Some things don't
change though...vova was speeding and a cop pulled him over (by
standing at the side of the road and pointing his baton at him), and
Vova got away without a ticket, presumably after bribing him. Ah, the
memories.

We had dinner at this v. nice place in Bila Tserkva, where we had
cucumbers, tomatoes, bread, and pork...very ukrainian. Then Vova
brought us to the house he procured for us, which is situated on a
lake outside of town. It's a hysterical mix of very nice and very
stereotypically nouveau riche post-Soviet decorating tastes, as
evidened by the contrast between the nice wood floors and the gaudy
crimson and hold satin drapes. Also, I opened the top drawer of my
bedside table and found three used condoms, so this must be quite a
popular place for affairs.

I have tons of impressions to share...remind me to blog about
politics, wild west capitalism, and other things when I'm safely home
and can't be arrested. For now, though, it looks 'the matrix', dubbed
in Russian, is on TV, so it's time for me to sign off. Goodnight!

Friday, May 04, 2007

and if you say this life ain't good enough i would give my world to lift you up

I got a message from Adit last night, who was calling from John's bachelor party to say that they were singing Rob Thomas' 'Smooth'. Yay!

Now I have to run, it's time to leave for Ukraine! I'll blog when I can!

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

i need you to need me

So it's back to blogging with my tiny keyboard...I am sitting in the
san francisco airport, after a mad dash to get to my flight. At work
today I had to give six performance reviews and attend several
meetings; I had intended to leave at 4:30, but instead I left two
hours later, and I had to do laundry and pack. The end result was that
I made it to the airport, but dinner waited until eleven pm and
consisted of a disgusting, overpriced sandwich.

This wouldn't be so bad if I wasn't faced with the prospect of eating
borscht and cabbage rolls for the next ten days. Actually, who am I
kidding...I love eating terrible stuff and doing ridiculous things, so
I should be quite happy. I may never be sane, but at least I am
enjoying myself! Now i'm gonna ditch the blackberry and read until my
flight...Iowa awaits!

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

i barely dreamt her yesterday

I love Craig Ferguson - he just said how it would be better to have an elephant as a pet than a cat, because if you die alone in the house, the elephant won't eat it - it will cradle you lovingly in its trunk and carry you someplace instead. It's almost upsetting how much I lust after Craig Ferguson - he has grey hair and is a recovering alcoholic, but then again he has a fantastic accent and makes his living mocking other people and telling long, ridiculous stories, so he's actually perfect. Mmm.

Not only am I apparently attracted to 44-year-olds, but I am sometimes embarrassed by how easily I start to love something which turns out to be completely awful. Case in point - I wanted to quote AFI's 'Love Like Winter' in my title, and so I was looking up the lyrics, and I found the YouTube clip of the music video. The video is absolutely ridiculous - the male lead singer has really long false eyelashes, bangs that hang into his eyes, and the whole band is playing in the middle of a blizzard. The fact that I bought this CD makes me sad, but the fact that I secretly love this song makes me even sadder.

Today kind of sucked--I was at work for eleven hours, then came home and worked from 9:30pm until now, while simultaneously watching some television and trying not to burn my thighs (my work laptop is having some heating issues). I would be sad, but I got to watch Craig, which means I will go to bed with a warm, fuzzy feeling (and no, that should not be taken in a dirty or lascivious way - despite my use of the word 'lust', my love for him is pure). But now I should really go to bed, since I get to sleep for around six hours before getting up and doing it all over again. Goodnight!