Thursday, January 31, 2008

too legit to quit















My photo for today: the flipflops that I wore four years ago to my final job interview with the department director. These were the only shoes I could find in time for the interviews, which were scheduled v. last minute. I was sure they would destroy my chances - and yet four years later, that director is now a VP, and telling me that I need to use 'too legit to quit' (an MC Hammer song) as my status message on instant messenger. Awesome!

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My entry for today: My second-to-last day at work was intense, and I don't think that I'm going to fully absorb the fact that I'm leaving for a couple of weeks at least. I had a variety of meetings, had a great lunch with Dan and a chat with Jen, and ended the day with dinner with Terry. In between, I had several really interesting and engaging conversations about various problems I've been working on, and realizing repeatedly that I'm still interested in the issues facing the business.

As I told Terry, it's not even that I wish I could have it both ways - I really wish I could clone myself and simultaneously live two completely different lives. One life is following the solitary writing path, churning out novels and exploring the interesting inner depths of myself (or, spelunking my soul, if you will). The other life is following the glittering, challenge-strewn path of corporate America. I know it's theoretically possible to achieve a nice balance between the two - but I'm so all-or-nothing that I don't see how I could sacrifice tremendous accomplishments in either area in order to have a balanced mix of both. So, while I'm on leave, I want to figure out which of those paths to pursue for the next 2-5 years, which might be more satisfying in the long term, or if it's possible for me to do something a bit more balanced and healthy than becoming either a hermit or a Harvard Business School grad.

Anyway, none of these things are going to sort themselves out tonight - and it's quite possible that it will take some time for them to get reconciled, considering how many plans I have for the first month of leave. I'm going to Disneyland, then San Diego, then I have a week to do stuff around the apartment and see friends - and I just confirmed tonight that Katie is coming to visit!!! Yay!!! She'll be here February 18-22, so we'll have a smashing time. After that, it's just another week until I have to move out of my apartment and start the trek back to ye olde Iowa.

Okay, that's enough for now. I have some stuff I have to do tonight, so I should stop blogging and get to work.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

introducing a new format!

Hello friends! I have some exciting changes to announce to the format of my blog. As longtime readers will know, I tend to be incredibly verbose - often writing multiple paragraphs when one sentence (or utter silence) would be preferable. I also tend to make friends with people who have short attention spans.

Therefore, I'm going to start (or try, we'll see how long this lasts) posting a picture/image every day relevant to what I'm doing/thinking, with a brief caption. Then, I may still go off on my ridiculous tangents - but you're free to just do the Blogger Lite version rather than delving into the minutiae that I like to record. How does that sound?

So let's kick this off: today I'm actually posting two images.




















Image 1: Map of Cingular/Blackberry coverage in Iowa - my house is the dot in the middle; the lightest cream color indicates no service.






















Image 2: Cingular/Blackberry roaming coverage in Ukraine. Note that coverage is available everywhere.

How sad is it that my phone won't work in my house in Iowa, but will work in Ukraine! Where is the sense in that?!

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Okay, as for the rest of my day, it was generally positive. I had meetings from 9am to 7:30pm, and then had dinner with Laura. I also had a final review/1:1 with my manager today - it was v. sad, since I like working with him, but I felt that I got some great advice, and I have a lot to think about while I'm on leave. However, I don't intend to think about any of it for a few months - I need to focus on finishing the book first!

No more for now; my battery is about to die, and I want to go to bed. Goodnight!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

there's no blame for how our love did slowly fade

Three more days left at work!

Even though I'm technically winding down, my calendar really hasn't changed at all. Granted, much of the reason why I'm taking time off is because I was burnt out from working all the time, which I brought on myself by being overcommitted and way too engaged/passionate/interested in a myriad of problems and issues that I faced at work. So, it makes sense that I can't tear myself away from the stuff that I'm still working on, and will just stay involved until the v. last minute. It's also clear that I have workaholism bordering on a real disease. Now it's just a matter of converting my workaholic tendencies into something that will enable me to get my romance novel done in a couple of months so that I can write another one during the second half of my break!

Anyway, I had several meetings today, as well as an impromptu lunch with Fred, Sean and Terry after my original lunch date cancelled on me at the last minute. It was fun to hang out with them, even if they knew that they were backup on the lunch list. I also spent some quality time with Jenni in the afternoon - although she technically reported to me for the past few months, I actually knew her from the fun times we spent in South Africa last year, and so I felt like I was more friends than colleagues with her. It was nice to catch up, albeit briefly.

After work, Laura tried to pressure me into meeting someone she knew from one of her former jobs, but I didn't feel like networking. Instead, I had dinner with Cody at my favorite Mexican restaurant down the street from my place of work. It was great to catch up, since we don't talk as much now that we're not on the same floor/team. Of course, like every other interaction I have at work these days, it just reminded me of what I'm walking away from - I just have to stay steady on my course. It's just difficult when my impending departure comes up all the time - like earlier today when I was walking across the yard to another building, and crossed paths with my VP. He looked like he was on his phone, and I heard him loudly say 'four', which I didn't react to - until he said 'four days' even more loudly, and it became clear that he was referencing the fact that I'm leaving in four days. Of course it's nice that he's so aware, but it's also hard too because I do feel like I've provided a lot of value to the organization and simultaneously learned a lot, and that it's been generally well-recognized, and so it's hard to say why I need to leave other than that I need to reexamine my priorities, finish my book, and make sure that I'm living the life I want to live.

Okay, now it's time to go to bed - goodnight!

Monday, January 28, 2008

i will move away from here - you won't be afraid of fear

I'm now 20% closer to being unemployed than I was yesterday at this time - which means that I've completed Day 1 of my last week in the office. I ran into my vice president today, who accused me of looking entirely too happy - he must have caught me in one of my happy peaks in the rapidly-oscillating emotional state that I'm experience, since half the time I just felt like crying. It's going to be really hard to leave on Friday, even though I'm undeniably excited - but I've said this all before, so I'll spare you.

I had meetings all day, although one 'meeting' was a ninety-minute lunch with Gyre. We went to our favorite cafe early, which meant that we were able to get a good table, and I had a delicious tuna melt and a bowl of chili, with a mint-chocolate-chip milkshake afterward for dessert. It's no wonder I've gained five pounds in the past couple of months from stress eating - between the holidays and the endless free food (and endless going-away lunches), this place is a stress-eater's nightmare. I'm definitely going to start eating healthier as soon as I'm done - although the first week is going to involve an attempt at 'purifying' my system with a lot of vodka, which should be fun. Anyway, Gyre and I picked up a webcam for my laptop so that I can vc in to the office for fun things like chatting to him on his birthday. If that isn't a misappropriation of company equipment, I don't know what is - although I'll return it with the laptop if I don't come back to work.

I left the office a little after 5pm (shocking!), came home, and welcomed Vidius Chandicus to my humble abode. I made her some chocolate chip chewies, and some home fries and poached eggs - the potatoes didn't turn out as well as I had wanted them too, and it was too soon to make poached eggs after the delectable brunch that I had yesterday, but it was okay. It was quite lovely to see Vidya - it had been way too long since we had caught up, and I think we were both in need of some friendship time. It's also too bad that I'm going to be leaving this coast in a month - but I will just have to do a better job of being e-friends with people!

After Vidya left, I cried a little at her absence, and then got back to work; I had some emails and stuff to get through. Now, after having chatted with Vidya online (making fast progress toward being better e-friends), it's time for bed - I have meetings all day tomorrow, which makes me a sad panda. Now, it's time for bed!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

i only need the compass that you gave me to guide me on

Today was another great day, despite the rain. I awoke by nine a.m., showered, and drove up to the evil city to have brunch with Heather and Salim. We stood in line for well over an hour at the cafe that they like down the street from their apartment - the place is quite popular, and because of the rain they had closed their back patio, effectively cutting their capacity in half. Luckily it was merely drizzling while we waited outside under the overhang, rather than raining copiously as it started to do after we were seated. It was actually almost nice that we waited that long - it extended the amount of time that we spent talking, since brunch turned into an almost three-hour experience, rather than being the standard hour and fifteen minutes. Also, the food was well worth the wait - I had a variation on eggs benedict, involving bacon, white cheddar cheese, salsa fresca, and a poached egg on an english muffin with hollandaise sauce. They also make these amazing fried potatoes with whole cloves of garlic, which you can split open and spread on your potatoes or eggs...mmmmmm.

After brunch, we did a bit of desultory shopping, and I picked up a candle and a new purse. I refrained from buying my favorite hair product (Bedhead's Shine Junkie - I find it alluring because it promises to help me 'outshine everyone!'), because I rarely do anything with my hair as it is, and six months in Iowa is unlikely to warrant a lot of fancy hair techniques. In fact, today's hair technique involved twisting it up and holding it in place with a clampy-comb-thingie (the fact that I don't know its name is an indication of how fashion-dense I am) - and since my hair was wet when I did this, my hair is still wet twelve hours later. I find this fascinating!

Anyway, I love Heather and Salim, and it was great to see them - as much as I hate the evil city, I'm going to miss having brunch with them. I hung out at their place for awhile and watched a comedian's routine that they had taped from Comedy Central, before finally making my way south around 4pm. I talked to my parents on the way down here, which was nice - and I'm again reminded of how happy I am to be taking leave, given that I didn't have anything to complain about when I talked to them!

I also went to Borders tonight, where I got two romance novels, as well as a copy of this month's 'Romantic Times'. It's a magazine which reviews the romance novels that are coming out in a given month, in addition to interviewing authors and sponsoring contests and things. I'm pleased to see there are still a lot of Regencies on the market, but the hot genre right now is paranormal - I knew this already, and shall persevere with my intended plot, since I don't think Amelia's personality would be improved by an encounter with a werewolf.

Okay, friends, it's time for me to go to bed - I only have five days left at work!!!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

goodbye ruby tuesday

I don't know whether to be pleased with my accomplishments today, or ashamed that I was not more productive. I woke up around 9:30 and promptly went to Mike's Cafe for brunch, where I thought about my novel while eating my usual veggie casserole. Then, I came home briefly, before venturing out again to get a glycolic peel. Alex (the woman who tortures me for ~$120 every few weeks) was v. good, as usual, although today she neglected to fan my face after pouring acid on it. Normally, she fans my face while I try not to whimper from the burning, and I've always thought it was rather ineffectual - but when she didn't do it today, I realized that the burning sans fanning is even worse. Anyway, the rest of the facial was relaxing, and I came home quite happy.

I spent the rest of the day making desultory progress on my romance novel. In reality, I spent quite a bit of time on the internet - I decided to rename one of the characters, and since I had never given her a last name either, I spent quite some time researching French names and surnames, as well as the French peerage system so that I would know what title might be appropriate for her father. Of course, using Wikipedia is v. dangerous, since I end up reading about all manner of things - for instance, I read about all six wives of Henry VIII, even though he preceded my story by over three hundred years. But, I'm happy with the name that I came up with for the character, and I think I might upgrade Amelia's family to the marquess level, rather than earls - although marquess is just one step below duke, which probably has implications for what her brother (who has inherited the marquessate from their father) can get away with in a future book.

However, I did manage to write 1475 words, which is almost eight pages. I'm rewriting the beginning of the book - I may end up rewriting much of what I have, because I think my voice has changed in the three years since I started writing the story, and the latest third of the book is much much better than what I initially wrote. I'm a lot happier with what I wrote tonight than what I had as the original first chapter, although the prospect of rewriting hundreds of pages is rather daunting. Ah, well, no one said this would be easy - and I only have five days of work left, at which point I'll be able to spend as much time with Malcolm and Amelia as I want to.

I think it's time to go to bed - I'm exhausted, and I have to get up in the morning and go to the evil city to have brunch with Heather and Salim. Goodnight!

Friday, January 25, 2008

if you were the ocean, i'd learn to float

Happy birthday, Sammi! My oldest niece turned sixteen today (crazy, huh?), and successfully got her driver's license. Congratulations!

The bittersweet intensity at work is increasing by leaps and bounds. Today, I was supposed to have lunch with Melissa, but she led me into the main conference room downstairs, where most of my team and several of the managers whom I work with were waiting to surprise me. They had made a bunch of things that were meant to look like the bib on a pair of overalls (although I missed the reference - I thought they were aprons), and the 'pockets' on the bibs held cards and notes wishing me luck in my writing endeavor.

The effort put into the crafting project and the beautiful/amusing results were really sweet, and reading through the cards afterward was almost enough to make me cry (even though I don't cry in general, and definitely don't cry at work). As much as it sucks that I have to say goodbye to a lot of people whom I really like and enjoy seeing on a daily basis, I have to remind myself that it's been months since I called my parents and complained about how stressed and miserable I am, or how much I wish that I was pursuing my dream of writing. The dream is going to be a reality, even if I have to sacrifice my social life in order to make it happen, and I think I'm ready to make that tradeoff.

Tonight, I came home, ate some takeout Chinese, and watched a taped episode of 'Boston Legal'. I also watched some Craig, of course, since he's my favorite. Then, I read (or reread) part of Janet Evanovich's 'How I Write'. The reason I bought it is not really because Janet Evanovich is hugely successful - I've actually never read any of her books. It's more because her ghostwriter was a woman named Ina Yalof, who came through my small town when I was in second or fourth grade, writing a nonfiction book about something (I believe rural hospitals?), and she interviewed me for some reason I can no longer remember. She and her husband invited me for breakfast at the inn after I met them at the school, and I can't remember what we talked about, but I do remember that I got to eat some delicious french toast (made by my grandmother, who was a part-time salad/dessert/breakfast chef at that inn for a time). Anyway, I'm not a particular fan of this book, but I decided to check out Janet Evanovich's website, since she claimed she got millions of hits per month. I was not particularly impressed, and was even less impressed when I saw that her daughter (also the webmistress) got married at Disney World, in a full-on Disney theme wedding, replete with all of the wedding songs coming from various Disney movies. Then again, who am I to judge, since I'm not exactly making stunning progress towards the altar myself? I'm also not a published author, so perhaps I should refrain from making disparaging remarks until I am. Of course, if I refrained from making disparaging remarks, I'd be a completely different person, so I'll probably just continue like I always have.

I think I'll go to bed now, so that I can accomplish something tomorrow. Goodnight!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

running through my veins - an american masquerade

I'm tired of meetings. This was true several months ago, but it seems particularly cruel to spend so much time in meetings when I only have a few days left - although I suppose it makes sense, since that seems to be the way we communicate around here. I'm particularly guilty of encouraging this, since I'm bad at documenting things - as Ziv and I once discussed, much of the stuff that I've worked on tends to be passed on via oral tradition, almost as though I should take the people I'm training out into the wilderness, build a big fire, and spend several days telling stories and making them go through strange and savage coming-of-age rituals. Luckily I'm passing stuff on to people who like documents much more than I do, and since they're likely to hate the way I've trained them, they're more likely to take the copious notes they've written during this process and turn it into something that they can pass on easily in the future. Good for them!

Tomorrow looks to be particularly annoying - I have an eight a.m. meeting (and by the way, even though I slept 9+ hours last night, I still managed to be late to the eight a.m. I had today), and then I have meetings much of the day, and then I have another meeting from 6:30-7:30pm. Oh, well, I'll survive - I only have seven work days left!

Finally, I watched a couple of Tivo'd episodes of Craig Ferguson tonight. He interviewed Sylvester Stallone earlier this week, and I have to say that it was one of the best interviews I've seen in a v. long time. Sly was surprisingly hysterical - in a genuinely hysterical way, not just the 'I'm laughing at him because he doesn't know how stupid he is' way one might expect. For example, he spent some time discussing how he's been typecast as a big, thuggish idiot - and I actually laughed out loud, quite heartily, when Craig asked him what he's like on the inside, and he immediately responded 'a tiny fairy'. I'm now really tempted to see 'Rambo' - is anyone in?

Okay, time for bed! I hope you are all having lovely Januarys.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

the restless heart, the promised land

I'm v. sad that Heath Ledger died. I was sitting in a meeting this afternoon, and decided that I was bored, so by habit went to my favorite gossip blog. The top story was about how Heath Ledger had been found dead in his apartment. Sadness! He was one of my favorite actors - I loved him in 'Ten Things I Hate About You', and saw 'A Knight's Tale', 'The Patriot', 'The Order', and 'Casanova' just because he was in them. It's really too bad - he could have had a fabulous career, and instead he's dead, while there are scores of other celebrities who party much harder and lead much more dangerous lives and make movies with much less artistic merit (granted, 'The Order' was my pick for worst movie ever, but at least he was still hot in it).

I spent most of today in meetings - you would think that the meetings would be slowing down, but I had meetings straight from 11:30-6 today, and also had meetings from 8-10 and 10:30-11. Ugh. Tomorrow doesn't look that much better - and while I should be documenting things right now, I think I'm going to go to bed instead so that I'm not late for my 8am meeting tomorrow. Actually, going to bed now won't guarantee that I make it on time, but it will at least make me more rested even if I am late.

Countdown to unemployment: 8 days! Too bad the economy is out of control - my favorite stock's price has dropped over $150 since I asked for leave. Damn. Oh, well, I can always come back in August if this novelist thing doesn't work out!

Monday, January 21, 2008

i don't see what anyone can see in anyone else but you

I was surprisingly productive today, considering that I didn't get started on anything worthwhile until shortly after noon. However, at that point, I showered, did five loads of laundry, and hung out with Terry, who came over to work (and so that we could both complain about work). After she left, I worked from 7ish until now, and got through a couple of the most annoying tasks that were still on my to-do list, and that had to be finished before I leave the office for the last time. So, barring any unforeseen disasters (which come up with such alarming frequency that they really should be foreseen), the remaining nine days of my current job should be fairly smooth!

Also, while Terry was over, I may have made a breakthrough on my pseudonym search. What do you think of Victoria Ramsey as a penname for a romance novelist? I'm going to mull it over for a few days, and if I decide I like it, I'll buy the domain - my goal for this leave is to both finish the book at develop an initial website for it, or at least have a shell of a website that I can build out when I sell the book and know what the real title will be. So, identifying my penname early is key!

That's all for now - wish me luck getting through the next few days! Of course, I recognize that v. few of you are likely to have sympathy for me if I complain about anything, but I feel certain that the next few days will be rather rollercoasterish when it comes to the intense joy I feel about taking time off, the sadness I feel about saying goodbye to the dozens of people I feel close to, and the vague unease I feel about taking an unpaid leave when the economy does not seem to be completely healthy. Goodnight!

hold me in your arms and sway me like the sea

I'm glad I don't have to go to work tomorrow, although the prospect of a three-day weekend is somewhat less awe-inspiring given that in nine days, I will be out of work for six months. Today, I woke up late, read part of a romance novel in bed until around 1pm, and then showered, slathered on some makeup, and had a late brunch at Mike's Cafe. It's a good thing I always want the same thing - the waitress had already put in my order (breakfast casserole, no spinach) before asking me what I wanted, and she also came to my table bearing an iced tea. The interesting thing is that even though I always order the same thing, they're remarkably inconsistent, and so it tastes different every time - it's a combination of potatoes, black beans, red peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms, cheese, and sour cream, but the proportions vary wildly every weekend. Today it was heavy on tomatoes, which is my least favorite variation, but it was still delicious.

After Mike's, I determined that the next step in writing my romance novel is to revisit what I have and make an effort to rewrite it and include some stuff that I've been thinking about for awhile but that was not led into from the very beginning. To rewrite, I felt that it was important to have a paper copy, and so I was going to go to Kinko's to accomplish this. I looked into ordering it online for in-store pickup - the website said it would cost ~$20 to send a 230-pg document to my nearest Kinko's but that it might take them ten hours to process it. I decided that I could just as easily go there and do it myself at one of the printing kiosks. However, when I got there, I learned that they would charge me 49 cents/page to print one-sided black-and-white pages, which meant that my rough draft would cost ~$115. I just can't understand how that possibly makes sense - if I printed it myself, it would take no effort from anyone in their store, whereas if I sent the order to them, they would at least have to collect it and deal with me when I arrived. Charging me 5x more to print the thing myself seemed absurd. So, I bought a ream of paper at Office Max and went into the office to print, and then I spent this evening rereading the entire draft.

On the first read-through, I mostly corrected for punctuation, word choice, etc., but now that I have a better sense of what the novel looks like so far, I'm ready to begin editing. The main problems, so far as I can see them, are that I'm too wordy (as any casual reader of my blog would guess), that my sentences are too long (as evidenced by every post I've written), and so my 'voice' isn't punchy enough. Also, I haven't spent enough time on Amelia's thoughts/background - while Malcolm seems to leap from the page, Amelia is kind of boring, and I need to spice her up and talk more about her internal workings so that she is just as appealing as Malcolm is. However, that's a problem for another day - I really need to go to bed. Goodnight!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

we are never quite as close as we are led to understand

Counting Crows is coming out with a new album in March - and it's about time, considering that 'Hard Candy' came out over four years ago. If you are a Counting Crows fan, check out their website (www.countingcrows.com). They've put up two of the singles off the new album for free download; I haven't listened to '1492' yet, but I'm playing 'When I Dream of Michelangelo' on repeat. I don't know what Adam Duritz's affinity for Michelangelo is - he used the 'I dream of Michelangelo' line in 'Angels of the Silences' a decade or so ago, but this song is much sadder and slower. I recommend checking it out!

Let's check out what has happened in the past couple of days, shall we? I worked all day Thursday, and then had an impromptu dinner with Sean, who conveniently sits down the hall from me (if you can consider a path between cubicles to be a 'hall'). We went to Fiesta del Mar, and got carded for margaritas by a waiter who clearly didn't believe that we were over 21, even though I'm 26 and I believe Sean is either 23 or 24. To be fair, I was wearing a Stanford sweatshirt, and Sean looks so young that he was actually carded for an R-rated movie this summer (which means he looks younger than 17), but it's weird how often I am asked for ID. I suppose I should be glad, but given that part of me wants to at least look like a grownup, it's sometimes irritating.

Yesterday, I scraped through work, even though my heart wasn't in it, and then left to drive up to Berkeley for dinner with John and Jessica. Nothing particularly disastrous happened, which was surprising given that I usually have a bad adventure anytime I go north - granted, the directions I got from Google Maps left out a crucial step that almost took me on a 25-mile detour, but I recovered at the last possible moment before going through a tunnel that would have dumped me into the farther-flung reaches of the East Bay. We had dinner at a Japanese restaurant that serves more traditional fare, rather than just sushi and teriyaki. This meant some sun-dried calamari that was the equivalent of fish jerky, a rice ball wrapped around salty salmon, various grilled vegetables, and chicken in various sauces/marinades. I was a huge fan of the rice ball, a moderate fan of the fish jerky and the chicken, and a vegetable eater under duress (they were actually quite tasty, but I'm anti-vegetable out of principle). After dinner, we stopped for ice cream at an overpriced but delicious ice cream shop, before going back to their house and watching 'Superbad'.

A few observations from the night:

1) I'm too spoiled by work - since I had a delicious custom-made sandwich at work (turkey, bacon, avocado, sprouts, pesto, and pepperjack cheese on dutch crunch bread, then toasted Quiznos-style), and had turned down the opportunity to have that cafe's homemade ice cream for dessert, the ice cream that I paid several dollars for seemed unnecessarily expensive, even though it was fantastic. I don't know what I'm going to do when I have to fend for myself in the normal world, where there are no cafes spitting out lavish, organic, perfectly prepared breakfasts, lunches, and dinners for free.

2) Michael Cera is the best kid to come out of Hollywood in quite some time. While I'm not sure that I would classify 'Superbad' as the best comedy of our generation, Michael Cera is adorable, and is great at being funny in an extremely awkward way. Also, the kid who played McLovin was awesome.

3) On a much more personal note, I left Berkeley last night thinking about how strange it is that one can sometimes slip effortlessly into a past persona. While my friendships with most people have evolved, changed, or dissolved over the course of my life, there are certain key relationships in which everything always seems to stay the same. With my parents and my brother, the familiarity is comforting. With Katie, it's electrifying, because it's gratifying to know that there is someone out there with whom I will always have a connection, regardless of how long we go without talking to each other (or how long I have to wait for her to send me her wedding photos!). With John, not everything is the same, which is a good thing - but the way I act when I'm around him is not the way that I see myself in general anymore. I end up leaving confused because I don't know whether to feel sadness that I'm no longer like that, happiness because I've changed and therefore 'grown', or regret because John (and most of the other people I've been close to over the past few years) is no longer an integral part of where my life is going.

Part of what I was feeling was annoyance - I think I'm more critical when I'm around him, which has always been one of my key traits but is something that I'm attempting to mellow out, but when I'm around him I revert to some of the more caustic commentary that I used to express in classes and dorm rooms. Or maybe I just think that I'm more critical - it's quite possible that I haven't changed in that respect at all, although I've gotten better at stifling the urge to criticize at work.

Another part of what I was feeling was nostalgia - you simply can't spend as much time together for the greater part of three years as what John and I spent together without developing an amazing base of shared history. The memories from that time range from fantastic to difficult to absurd, but they're turning into frayed and faded tapestries on the walls of my mind. Revisiting them is fun, and hanging out with John gives me a chance to shake the dust out of them, but usually they just serve as backdrop, only remembered when I'm triggered by the sight of a raccoon or the sound of the songs that were popular when I was in college.

But, the biggest part of what I'm feeling right now is fear - while the transition from college to work wasn't easy at the time, in retrospect it was almost like I slipped from Stanford to my current employer without really having to reevaluate my life, goals, etc. This lack of reevaluation is why I find myself in my current position, since I desperately need to spend some time figuring out what to do with my life - but it also made it easy for me to feel comfortable, even when I was overworked and depressed. My relationships sort of just came along for the ride - I stayed in touch, with greater or lesser success, with many of the people who stayed in the area, and picked up several new friends at work, but I did a horrible job of keeping in touch with people who moved away, perhaps with the immaturity that comes from believing that life is endless and that there will always be time to reconnect.

Now, though, I've placed myself in a position where I have to reevaluate my life, take steps to stay in touch with people (since I won't have friends in Iowa), and simultaneously finish writing my novel, and I've given up my steady paycheck in the bargain. Don't get my wrong, I'm excited, and I know that if I didn't do this I would always regret it - but just because something is the right thing to do doesn't make it comfortable. And my fears and insecurities are fueled by the remnants of the past, even if the lessons from that past are what will enable me to succeed in the future.

Okay, this post is getting too melodramatic even for my tastes, so I should go to bed. It also comes perilously close to violating my cardinal rule for blogging: 'thou shalt not blog about thine thoughts in regard to someone else, unless those emotions are overwhelmingly positive'. However, my emotions in regards to old friends aren't driven by current events; they're the aching melancholy of memory. My fear of the future is current, but it can't be understood without the context of the past, and now that I've spent an hour writing this, I don't really feel like editing for content. Instead, I'm going to go to bed!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

shiny happy people

I can't believe how happy I am - well, perhaps not at this particular moment, since I worked for the past 3 hours, but I had a really great day, even if it did start with a meeting at 7:30am. The meeting went well, I managed to finish a presentation on time, I kept my mouth shut during a frustrating meeting since I'm not going to be around anyway, and then had an extended lunch with my good friend Alaska Matt. He was looking like a charming cross between a mountain man and a captain of industry - he's rocking a particularly full beard, which I admire to no end. I'm going to miss those lunches - they're definitely one of the highlights of my work life.

After lunch, I presented to the directors (nothing new), chatted with Laura, spent some time on some projects, talked to Lauren (on her way back to Boston tonight), caught up with Gyre over the phone, and wrapped up around seven. Then, I met Sarah and Shawn for a delicious dinner at Straits Cafe - I hadn't been there in nearly half a decade, but it's still quite delectable. Sarah and I are good friends, and have been since our days in the temp program oh so many years ago; I don't know Shawn so well, but it was great to hang out with her as well. She's apparently writing a dissertation on the Soviet Intourist program, which is v. intriguing to me.

It was great to catch up with Sarah. Also, we're rooming together on the trip to Disneyland (with my other friend Subz) - and if you remember the last time I roomed with Sarah, I ended up completely drunk, sitting on the floor of the kitchen in our suite writing the most ridiculous blog post I've ever constructed (see the post titled 'hooray!'). This year promises to be a riot - my last day of work is February 1, and sometime that weekend I'm driving down to Anaheim, where I will party like a rockstar on Monday and Tuesday night. Then, I'm driving to San Diego on Wednesday to see Tammy, where I will undoubtedly have a good time in a potentially unwholesome way, before coming back up the following weekend to attend a going-away party thrown in my honor by Heather, Salim, and the rest of the expats. If my liver survives that week, I'll settle down and start packing up my apartment; if not, I'm going to have to hope that my insurance is still valid!

Okay, I should go to bed - tomorrow promises to be busy, but I really can't complain when I only have eleven days left in the office! Goodnight!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

my name is trouble

I had a long, exhausting weekend, but I'm glad that I went to Texas. Aunt Becky was under the impression that six Wamplers piling out of a minivan looked either cultish or clownish, but I thought that it was quite nice - and in fact decided that the perfect 'destination wedding' would be for a group of people to drive around Iowa in a van, getting out in Dyersville to hold the ceremony at the Field of Dreams site. You could even have t-shirts printed up that said, 'Is this heaven? No, it's your marriage.' Isn't that wonderful?

I must say, though, that Uncle Hobert's funeral reminded me that I'm not so good at dealing with grief. I don't think that I've fully processed and reconciled Granddad's death, even though it was nearly seven years ago - and since he and Uncle Hobert were identical twins, yesterday's service was rather surreal. They were clearly different people, but twins are rather mystical beings, and to bury another body that looked rather similar to my grandfather's (particularly the hands, which for some reason really got to me) was quite strange.

Anyway, I'll bury all of that again, although the feelings come out at completely unexpected times, like when I see a strange rock that Granddad would have liked, or when someone eats some disgusting food combination out of a sense of thriftiness, or when someone writes their 'a' letters like a typewritten 'a' rather than a cursive 'a'. For now, though, it's time to put the feelings away so I can focus on my work.

One more thing, though - I knew that various churches have had schisms over strange things, but I had no idea that there was a huge schism that formed the Christian Church and the Church of Christ. What was the cause of this schism? One branch feels that musical instruments are the work of the devil, while the other feels that pianos and organs and things are fine for worship services. I must say that I side with the group in favor of instrumental music - Uncle Hobert had insisted that we sing nearly a dozen hymns during the service, and without the helpful guidance of a piano/organ, I don't think our collective singing quite met the guidance to make a joyful noise unto the Lord. However, there was some fervent evangelizing from the pulpit, even though I wasn't expecting a discussion of the instrumental/anti-instrumental schism in the midst of my uncle's funeral. To each their own - but if any of you are ever involved in planning my funeral, I would just as soon have a brief eulogy/prayer service, followed by some Bon Jovi ('Livin' on a Prayer' might be too ironic?), a reading from a Georgette Heyer romance novel, and an after-funeral dim sum lunch with a rousing game of 'Shrimp or Feet.' It might be hard to procure dim sum in Allerton, but I trust that you'll be sufficiently motivated to accommodate my dying wishes. You could alternatively play a similar game with casseroles - perhaps a game of 'Scalloped Potatoes or Scalloped Cabbage'? I remember how much I used to hate it that every single year at the community Thanksgiving, I would suspiciously eye a dish full of cheesy goodness, decide that it was scalloped potatoes, take it back to my table, and end up with a mouthful of scalloped cabbage instead. Ugh.

Okay, that's enough nonsense for one night, and I have a meeting at 7:30 tomorrow morning. May you all have lovely days - and happy birthday to my cousin Andrew! He now replaces Michael as the youngest Wampler driver in our family. Congratulations!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

we're the blackened lung that's been making you choke

It's been a rather hellish week at work - in fact, someone who was trying to calendar me for lunch (Katrina, a friend of Adit and Sri's, who also works at my place of employment - Vidya, Katrina and I have decided to become friends) said that looking at my calendar 'hurts her eyes'. Things have been so mad because I'm trying to get everything wrapped up and passed off, and now I only have thirteen official days left in the office. I'm excited, but I have a lot of stuff left to do before I leave.

However, this weekend is taking a detour from my original plans. My dad called me yesterday to let me know that Uncle Hobert had passed away. He's actually my great-uncle, but he's also my grandfather's identical twin brother, and so I feel compelled to go to the funeral in person and pay my respects. So, I'm getting on a plane tomorrow morning to fly to Lubbock, TX; I'm flying through Dallas and meeting up with my father, grandmother, brother, aunt, and uncle, and then we are proceeding en masse to Lubbock. The funeral is Monday morning, and then I'm flying back to California Monday night and will be back in the office bright and early on Tuesday.

I'll have my laptop with me, so if you're lucky you'll get some posts out of me over the next couple of days. Right now, though, I need to go to bed so that I can get up tomorrow, finish packing, and head for the airport. Goodnight!

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

i just melt inside your eyes

I had actually vowed not to watch the 'Lord of the Rings'/'Hungry Eyes' video tonight - but I'm not so good with vows or self-discipline. But, I was lured into it - I checked my friend Alaska Matt's blog, and he gave me a shout-out for leading him to an awesome YouTube video. I had to click to see which one it was...I was expecting it to be the Michael Cera/Alexander Hamilton video, but it turned out that he's more awesome than that and had picked up on the 'Hungry Eyes' video instead. And once I had clicked on it, I had to watch the whole thing. I really am perfectly suited to live in my parents' basement and 'write novels' while slowly making my way through the entire Netflix library. Great.

I had meetings straight from 7:30am to 5pm, with a quick break from 12:30-1 to put together slides for my 1pm meeting. But, I've started a countdown to my leave of absence on my corporate instant messenger status - today, my status just said 'seventeen', which my manager called 'hurtful' when it was referenced in a meeting today. Seventeen days, right now, seems like a lifetime, but it's going to go by so fast...and there's a teeny tiny part of me that regrets asking for a leave because I can't imagine life without my job. But then again, that's the problem, right? The fact that I'm so dependent on my job to give me an identity and a sense of purpose is really upsetting (not to mention what it's done to my social life, although I do have a lot of friends in the office), and so I'm exceedingly happy to be taking time for myself. I just wonder what I'm going to do when I wake up the first week after my leave starts and have to fend for myself.

But enough of that. I came home tonight, made a delicious salad with spinach, gorgonzola cheese, walnuts, dried cranberries, and balsamic vinaigrette, and ate it while watching tivo'd episodes of Craig Ferguson. One of the episodes from just before Worldwide Pants signed a deal with the writers' guild was Craig's first episode as a guest host when CBS was attempting to replace Craig Kilborn. It was really interesting - Craig was clearly not completely comfortable to be hosting, his hair was shorter and more professional, his monologue was the standard late-night length (rather than the ten-minute tours-de-force that he regularly puts out now), and he spent much more time interviewing his guests. However, his irrepressible, cheeky grin still broke through occasionally. The other episode I watched was from Friday night, and included Dominic Monaghan (who played Merry in 'Lord of the Rings', to bring it all full circle). For some rather inexplicable reason, Dominic Monaghan brought a bunch of snakes, geckos, and Madagascar hissing cockroaches with him, and proceeded to do some sort of Jack Hanna-like exhibition of his animals. Apparently he really likes animals - which is a good thing, since he may need a new career since he was killed off on 'Lost'. I had managed to forget that piece of trivia, since I haven't finished watching Season 3 yet - but if you, like me, were hoping to avoid all knowledge of the last half of Season 3, I just ruined it for you too!

Okay, enough of my ramblings, it's time for bed!

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

i look at you and i fantasize

Okay, I just watched that 'Lord of the Rings'/'Hungry Eyes' montage again. I am such a dork.

However, that had to have ranked right up there in terms of best four-minute-stretches today. I actually had a pretty good day - I managed to be active and engaged in all of my meetings today, despite the fact that I have eighteen (now seventeen!) work days left, I caught up with a couple of coworkers I hadn't hung out with in awhile, and I topped it off with dinner with Regina, one of my expat friends. Then I came home and worked for awhile. In fact, it would have all been quite peachy...except for the fact that I had to be in at 7:30am today, and have another meeting at 7:30am tomorrow as well. Ugh. Wish me luck with that - as long as I can get through the next seventeen days without killing someone in a sleep/caffeine-deprived rage, I'll be quite a happy camper.

Monday, January 07, 2008

i've been meaning to tell you - i've got this feeling that won't subside

Okay, so I know why I never watch stuff on YouTube - I inevitably end up watching too much stuff, but it's all so tragically awesome that I can't help myself. I originally started because I was looking up Michael Cera (the boy in 'Juno', who is adorable), and then I found a couple of clips of actors who had supposedly been considered for 'Knocked Up'. Then I found a short that Michael Cera was in, in which he played Alexander Hamilton during a retelling of the Alexander Hamilton/Aaron Burr duel by someone who had just drunk a bottle of scotch (entitled 'Drunken History pt. 1'), which you can watch here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6V_DsL1x1uY.

Then, I stumbled upon the best thing of all: a montage of various beautiful and touching moments of eye contact and vague homoeroticism between Aragorn and Legolas in 'Lord of the Rings', set to the classic song 'Hungry Eyes'. You, too, can be mesmerized: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RbstkXowlAc. I realize that the fact that I just posted a fan-created montage of 'Lord of the Rings' clips places me firmly in the upper echelon of dorks everywhere, an exalted summit to which few women even aspire, much less attain. However, I really couldn't help myself, and I figure that Tammy, at least, will love it even as she begins to write a comment about how crazy and sad my life is.

The rest of my day was pretty much consumed by meetings. I came home, ate the rest of my delicious vegetarian chili (except for the part that I froze yesterday), watched some Tivo'd late night, and then worked the rest of the night. Now, I should really go to bed - I have 7:30am meetings both tomorrow and Wednesday, which is killer. Oh, well, I'm sure I shall survive. Goodnight!

Sunday, January 06, 2008

once upon a time in palo alto

The weekend ended somewhere in between a bang and a whimper. I managed to oversleep this morning because I forgot to set my alarm, and so was forty-five minutes late to a 12pm brunch with Julie and Vidya. However, just as I arrived at Vidya's apartment, Julie called to say that her boyfriend had planned an activity for their one-year anniversary (without checking beforehand to see if she had plans), and so she would not be able to make it. This absolved me of any guilt for being late, and maintained our streak of not having brunch since sometime in July, much to our mutual chagrin.

Instead, I had a lovely brunch with Vidius Chandicus. She tried to take me to one cafe, which was closed due to a water heater problem, and so we backtracked to the restaurant she had initially debated going to. It turned out to be a diamond in the rough, if you will; it is run by a v. elderly asian couple, but is decorated in a pseudo-French style and serves American fare with the occasionally smattering of Korean shortribs. The hashbrowns were perfect, and they served a surprisingly delicious ham with my eggs over easy, so I was quite pleased - it appears there is a reason to go to that godforsaken city after all! Oh, and seeing Vidya was good too. After brunch (at 2pm), we went back to her apartment and hung out for a couple of hours, discussing our general malaise over the fact that we are at a crossroads (in the 'uncertain crossing of divergent life paths' sense, not in the 'seminal musical work by Bon Jovi' sense).

After spending some quality time with Vidya, I came home, cleaned my kitchen, and talked to my parents. I've spent the rest of the evening surfing the web, doing some stuff for work, and talking to Vidya, Oniel, and Claude online. The first couple of days at work this week look intense, particularly since I have meetings at 7:30am on Tuesday and Wednesday both - but the meetings are mostly ones where I'm either passing on information or passively sitting, so it should be fine. I should go to bed though - and it sounds like it's started raining again, so that should soothe me into slumber. Goodnight!

can you read my mind?

I have jumped back into being slightly more social, probably because I am a bit less busy at work and yet want to procrastinate on my novel while I'm still gainfully employed. Thursday night, I came home and made a delicious vegetarian chili, while listening to coverage of the Iowa caucuses on tv - and then I didn't blog because I was too annoyed about my party's choice of candidates, and decided to keep my opinions to myself. Friday, I went to work and was quite productive until a little after six p.m. I was supposed to see a movie with Claude and Marco, but due to the rain and the resultant accidents, there was significant congestion and traffic southbound, and it would have taken about an hour to go eight miles to the movie theatre. So, I canceled on them, and ended up having dinner with Terry, Sean, Fred, and two people named Jamie at the tapas place that Claude and I often went to. It was quite spur of the moment, since Terry/Sean/Fred sit on my floor and asked me if I wanted to come as they were leaving, but I had a v. nice time.

Today, I woke up around ten, went to my favorite cafe and had brunch and made some notes about my book, and then went to get a facial. It felt like the acid burned more than usual, but it's worth it for fashion, right? Then, I met Claude and Marco to see 'Juno', an adorable movie about teenage pregnancy. Well, the pregnancy part wasn't so adorable, but the main teenage characters were pretty great, and I can see why the girl is up for a Golden Globe. After the movie, we went to IHOP, which was fun despite the fact that we all realized that we didn't really want to be there.

Tonight, I reread most of 'These Old Shades' and part of 'Devil's Cub', two of Georgette Heyer's rather entertaining novels. I don't know that either of them can be considered a classic romance, but they are *amazing* when it comes to witty, sarcastic dialogue. I must say that I didn't like 'These Old Shades' when I first read it - it was my first Georgette Heyer novel, and I was expecting something more similar to modern romance novels, while this had v. little romance and a lot of dialogue and scenery description, but the book has grown on me.

Now I should really go to bed - I have to get up tomorrow and go to the evil city for brunch, provided that I don't get rained out, and then come back here to hang out with Lauren (aka Subz). I hope that you are all having lovely weekends!

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

maybe this year will be better than the last

I had a great day at work today - it's amazing how much happier I am when I'm not completely stressed out and overworked, and when I can actually socialize with people without feeling guilty. But perhaps that means that I didn't really have a great day 'at work', since I didn't feel like I did much, but I also think that when I don't do much, I'm probably still contributing enough to meet expectations and not get fired, I just am not 'knocking it out of the park' or some other ridiculous corporate phrase (I actually used that one in conversation today, much to my chagrin).

I had lunch with Gyre today, which was fun, and then I made it through a few meetings this afternoon without emerging with additional tasks, so I was pretty pleased. Then, as I was packing up to leave, Subz (aka Lauren) asked if I wanted to have dinner. We went to Fiesta del Mar, which inexplicably has a plaque for 'healthiest restaurant' awarded to it by Silicon Valley Citysearch, in what must have been a joke - while Fiesta del Mar is delicious, I do not think it qualifies as nutritious, especially in comparison to the many health-food options in the Bay Area. It was v. nice to catch up, and as I spend time with people now, it's starting to sink in that I'm actually going to have to say goodbye to people when I go off into the wilderness to write my book. As I told Subz, I don't particularly have any interest in learning how to make new friends over the next six months, but I am v. interested in learning how to stay connected to the friends I have.

After dinner, I came home, put on my pajamas, and spent much of the last couple of hours looking up options for places to stay or hang out in Scotland and England if I choose to take a trip there this spring. It would be great to get a vacation rental apartment in a couple of different cities and spend a lot of time walking around, soaking in the atmosphere, and hopefully finishing my book in peace and quiet. By April or May I hope to be done with the first draft and actively working on editing/polishing, so a trip someplace could be fun. Alternatively, perhaps I should aim to be completely done by the first of May so that I can spend the rest of the month traveling. We shall see, though. It would be really helpful to know for sure whether I intend to return to my job - if I knew that I was going to be employed in August, I would make much different decisions about how to spend my money while I'm on leave. That's a decision that I'm putting off until June, though, so it won't come in time to help me with my plans.

In other news, we're expected to get some major rainstorms in northern California over the next few days, which I'm really not looking forward to. I like the sound of rain on my roof while I'm sleeping, so that will be nice, but I don't like walking around in the rain, and I can't help but get wet on my way through the parking lot at the office. I suppose I'm not eligible to complain though, since temperatures are at least above freezing, unlike in the frozen wastes of Iowa.

Finally, I just wanted to say that I'm really excited for 2008. I think it's going to be a year of new beginnings - while all years are perhaps years for new beginnings, I'm vowing to live my life in a more exciting way this year, and to develop the discipline necessary to finish my book and do other things that matter to me without any sort of external pressure - essentially, making myself as committed to my pesonal goals as I have always been to my work goals. Even if I'm never able to sell my novel, I want to finish it, and I want to finish it in a way that makes me feel like I wrote something good. If I can accomplish that this year, I will be v. v. happy.