Thursday, December 31, 2009

moon river

Based on my standard time zone, this is the last post of 2009; but in Iowa, we're already almost an hour into 2010. I rang in the new year watching some SNL highlights of Will Ferrell downstairs with my brother, his friend Logan (best friend from high school/college roommate), and Logan's girlfriend Sammi; nothing super exciting, but since I'm usually home for new year's eve, that may have actually been the most I did on a new year's eve since the one where Katie and I rented a hotel room in Des Moines, went to a big party, and got raucously drunk.

The rest of the day was laid-back as well; I made the treacherous walk out to the mailbox to drop my Christmas cards off for the postman, and I packed my suitcase for my flight back to San Francisco tomorrow. My mom and I watched the Stanford game, which started off great but ended in heartache; we watched the same second-half implosion with the ISU/Minnesota game after that, but ISU held out and ended up winning their first bowl game in a v. long time. Logan and Sammi came over around six, and ate dinner with us before going downstairs to play games and watch tv, but I hung out upstairs so that I could book tickets for an upcoming trip to India (yay!!) And I periodically looked at the moon -- the blue moon on New Year's Eve was perfect here, lighting up the snow like it was dawn rather than midnight.

Theoretically, I should be more than happy to see the 00's go, and eager to welcome the 10's. And yes, there have been all sorts of calamities and disasters. But, there are always calamities and disasters; I think the internet and the 24-hour news cycle just makes it all feel more urgent and traumatic and unending. And I had some wonderful years in the 00's -- I wouldn't want to sacrifice my twenties, even if they didn't go exactly as I planned at the outset (I thought I would have a PhD and be married by now, not that I regret that those things didn't happen). I loved college, got to live in India and Ireland, have a fabulous group of friends and a wonderful family, wrote a book, and did tons of fun things. I'm not really excited about my thirties, although theoretically I will come closer to figuring out my life, and that would be a good thing.

Anyway, thanks to all of you who have been reading over the years. I blogged for most of the decade -- starting in 2003 with the xanga blog back when xanga was cool, and then on Blogger starting in 2004. This makes my 374th post of 2009 -- if you've read it all, you deserve a medal! I've learned so much about myself and people and life in the past ten years, and a lot of that distillation process has happened here, even if I don't regularly write all the behind-the-scenes drama going on (although there hasn't been much drama recently -- maybe I need to go out and incite some). I will aim to keep this up in the 2010s, but more importantly I will aim to talk to my friends more; blogs aren't a substitute for real interaction, even if four-minute posts are easier than going out for drinks.

Happy new year, everyone! May the next decade bring all sorts of fun and happiness for all of you.

i won't let you fall

This will hopefully be quick; I once again stayed up too late tonight. This vacation has confirmed to me that, left to my own devices, my 'natural' day would be 11am to 3am; instead, due to the demands of my job + the ugly commute, my day is currently 6am to 10pm. However, even if this is the cycle that my body seems to like the best, there is something to be said for getting more than six or seven hours of daylight during the winter, so perhaps the schedule that I'm forced to adhere to isn't all that bad. If I ever do become a writer full-time, though, I will need to set a schedule and stick to it (and possibly block my computer from being able to access Wikipedia, since it's the bane of my productive existence).

I woke up today around eleven, and actually accomplished some things -- for instance, I spent ten whole minutes printing out a UPS label and packing up a box to send to myself in California. This was not difficult since I was just taping up the original box that the item came in; as mentioned before, my parents got me a great bed tray that I've had my eye on for some time, but it will likely be safer traveling in its box instead of in my luggage. Then, I spent a substantial amount of time off and on throughout the afternoon, evening, and night doing Christmas cards; I'm now done with all of them except the couple dozen that I intend to hand out at work when I get back, but the ones that are going in the mail are signed, sealed and stamped (unless I'm missing the person's address). Licking 45 envelopes did v. little good for my tongue or my stomach, but other than that, I'm pleased that I actually got my cards out this year. Yay.

My mom made an excellent supper tonight, and my grandmother came out to share in it -- prime rib with baked potatoes and green beans. The prime rib was outstanding, and I adore baked potatoes, so it was all delightful. She also made this date crunch dessert that she loves (in fact, she wouldn't deny that she loves date crunch more than my father, which is telling) and only makes once a year, so that was all nice as well. After Gram left, I worked on cards while watching some fine CBS programming; I'm about to go back to the land where I don't watch that much tv, so this has been a nice tv-filled interlude.

Unfortunately, that interlude is rapidly coming to a close; I leave on Friday afternoon to go back to the evil city, which means I should probably pack tomorrow. I'm not ready to go back yet, which says something considering that after spending a week straight without leaving the house I should be willing to go anywhere else at all -- but no, I'm not ready. Hopefully I get ready before I have to go back to work, or next week could be brutal.

On that despairing note, it's time for bed -- goodnight!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

springtime for hitler

This is a four-minute post. I was only marginally productive today; I'm trying to get my Christmas cards finished and mailed, but it's unclear whether it will happen tomorrow or not. I did write some this afternoon, but I had a smashing headache and ended up falling asleep for an hour. As a result, it's after three a.m. and I'm just now beginning to feel tired enough to go to sleep.

However, despite that the day was lovely, and my father made pizza for dinner -- it's delicious in a completely different way from Little Star. We then watched the Kennedy Center Honors on CBS, which was better than usual; the performances in honor of Bruce Springsteen, Grace Bumbry (the first black opera singer to sing at Bayreuth), and Dave Brubeck (a jazz musician) were fantastic, and the tributes to Robert DeNiro and Mel Brooks were really funny (particularly when Ben Stiller interrupted his own speech about DeNiro to go off about how much he loved Bruce Springsteen, and then also pointed out 'oh yeah, the Nobel Peace guy', since Obama was sitting next to the honorees).

I continued to attempt to write Christmas cards while watching Craig with my dad, and then retired to my room around one a.m. to theoretically go to bed, but got lost in another Wikipedia odyssey. I tried to set a goal to stop wasting so much time on the internet for 2009, but I think I need to recommit and try again for 2010. Now, though, my four minutes are up, and I should really go to bed if I have any hope of getting up at a non-laughable hour tomorrow. Goodnight!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

your voice explodes inside my head

I'm knee-deep in memories tonight, some mine, some only legends. The first note of importance (not that anything is all that important here, as indicated by the fact that I'm about to talk about what I had for supper) is that we had a v. Ukrainian feast tonight -- my mom made pelmini (pork dumplings; she was inspired by the pork-filled raviolis that I raved about from Flour + Water a few weeks ago), and I tried my hand at deruni (potato pancakes). The pelmini were absolutely perfect in that eastern European sort of way, and likely better for us since we were using fresh ingredients that weren't grown in the shadows of Chernobyl. The deruni turned out very well too, but they were somewhat time-intensive; they required grating two pounds of potatoes (I cheated and used a food chopper), a carrot, and a whole onion. Worse, they required rinsing and squeezing out the potato mass several times, which served to rinse out the starches or whatever else quickly turns potatoes brown when they're exposed to air. I mixed the potato, carrot, and onion with a bit of flour, milk, and an egg, and then dropped them into cakes and fried them up in oil. Topped with sour cream, they were v. close to the deruni we had when we were last in Ukraine in 2007, and I may make them again once a year or so when I'm feeling particularly nostalgic and have forgotten how annoying they are to cook.

After dinner, I watched some fine CBS programming for awhile, and then picked up a book that I got for Christmas - "The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society". I, as usual, read it straight through in one sitting -- and I have to say that it was hands-down the best book that I've read in months. It's told entirely through letters, which would normally annoy me, but in this case it was perfect. Letters leave so much to the imagination, but are still capable of creating whole worlds, and there's something v. interesting about knowing that the narrators (in this case, the letter-writers) are remembering things, filtering them, and choosing what to write about/what not to write about. It's not a style that would work often, but it's used rarely enough that it's refreshing to come across it once in awhile.

Perhaps I loved it because it contains some of my all-time favorite obsessions - literature, the British, and World War II. It takes place in 1946, and relates some of the experiences faced by the residents of Guernsey when it was occupied by the Germans shortly after Dunkirk; the Germans went on to hold it for five years, during which time the Channel Islanders were entirely isolated from the rest of the world and lived through serious rationing and deprivation during the occupation. Naturally, reading about all of this was right up my alley; that it was told mostly from the perspective/letters of a woman who intends to write a book about Guernsey made me enjoy it even more.

Perhaps I should have been a history professor; I certainly enjoy dealing in memories, whether my own or someone else's, and I can get fascinated by just about any story (case in point: I spent the last hour reading up on Eleanor of Aquitaine, which was rather unnecessary since I already know more about her than is necessary in the real world unless one is a history professor or unfortunate enough to confront an entire "Eleanor of Aquitaine" catetory on "Jeopardy!"). But perhaps the reason I'm not a history professor (other than my shameless enjoyment of my crass consumer lifestyle) is that I'm attracted to the *story*, not just the facts. For me, the story is everything; even my own memories, even some of the most profound, tragic, euphoric, and enlightening moments of my life are recalled almost like a story in my head, a story that could have happened to someone else but just happened to happen to me.

And so if that's the case, I really need to get down to business and tell as many of them as possible. I'm excited about Madeleine and Ferguson, but as I've said before, I doubt that romance novels alone will be enough to sustain my creative urges in the long run. So, I'm taking another writing class at Stanford this winter -- one on writing historical fiction, which will be eminently useful for both romances and for a possible career in literary fiction down the road. Whether I have time for it or whether this is a fool's endeavor remains to be seen, but I'm excited nonetheless.

Between the book and my ongoing love affair with Wikipedia, it's now after three a.m., and I should really be in bed. Please go out and buy the "Guernsey" book -- I would love it if someone, anyone in my acquaintance became so excited about letters as I am, so that we could exchange civilized correspondence like the good old days. Lord knows I have enough stationery to last a lifetime at my current rates of correspondence, so I'm going to have to look for excuses to use it up in the coming years. Goodnight!

Monday, December 28, 2009

under the bridge

Today was mostly consumed by Rail Baron; I managed to drag myself out of bed before eleven and into some clothes before noon so that the four of us could settle in for an afternoon of play. Unfortunately, I had a series of bad destinations + low throws of the dice that resulted in me never really being in contention, and almost led to an early ousting from the game that forced me to sell one of my five measly railroads and limp around the board on my ridiculous network for the rest of the game. Michael won in around five hours, which made for a relatively short game, and I think we all had fun despite my despondency. I medicated by making myself two rather strong margaritas and a plate of nachos during the course of the afternoon, so was in a good mood by the end of it all despite getting thrashed during the game.

After the game was over, Mom made ham and beans and cornbread for supper (Katie, we thought of you!) with the leftover ham bone from Christmas dinner. I vetoed watching more "John Adams" tonight because I a) was bored with it last night and b) was in the mood to work on the plot for my next book, so we ended up watching a made-for-CBS movie starring Tom Selleck while I jotted down notes and brainstormed plot points. After the writing took its course for the night and my parents fell asleep, I repaired to the kitchen, where I started brainstorming my new year's resolutions and paid some bills while watching the news and an ancient episode of "CSI:NY".

I would like to be one of those people who just goes with the flow -- it sounds much more relaxing in theory. However, the last few months have proven to me (as though I needed any more proof) that I simply am happier/more grounded if I strive for consistency and productivity. All the excitement of the summer + the onslaught of changes at work threw me off-balance, but now is the time to reset and get back on track. I wouldn't say that I've been depressed, exactly, but I haven't been living up to my expectations for myself or what I believe I should be doing, and unfortunately I'm the only person who can fix that. At the same time, I need to be careful of going so far down the productivity path that I ignore my social life; I've tended to avoid making plans for the past few months because I felt guilty for not getting stuff done, but that's a pretty poor plan for my long-term happiness.

Anyway, I'm eager for 2009 to be over (as I think just about everyone else is), and I'm optimistic about 2010 even if I've no reason to be. And I will get back on track with my writing -- Madeleine and Ferguson are well-developed in my head now, so I think I can start writing in earnest. But for now, I should focus on the more immediate goal of going to sleep -- goodnight!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

i'm gonna try with all my might to make this storyline come true

I had another v. lazy day in Iowa; I didn't get out of bed until 11:30, and generally milled about and talked to my parents until almost three p.m. The fact that neither of them had changed out of their pajamas made me feel better about my sloth; and so I had a series of entertaining conversations with my mom and dad. I took a bubble bath, made myself up, and then went back upstairs, where the four of us ended up playing a couple of games of hearts. Michael abandoned us after that, and we ate leftovers for supper before watching the next two segments of "John Adams". I found these segments substantially less interesting than the ones we watched last night -- these two segments covered Adams's experience in Europe during and shortly after the Revolution, first in France, then in Holland and eventually as the United States's first ambassador to England, before he returned to the US and was elected as Washington's vice-president. It became clear to me as I was watching that I would rather be watching a documentary of the entire Revolutionary War, since last night's segments were captivating but I had much less interest in Adams's arguments with the Dutch for loans to the new American state. But, we shall hopefully persevere, and I expect that we'll watch the rest of the miniseries over the next few nights.

We finished watching around 10:30pm, and I spent the last couple of hours on one of those long odysseys through Wikipedia to brush up my knowledge of the Founding Fathers. I almost got sucked into watching some stupid show on latenight tv called "Legend of the Seeker" or "Seeker of Legends" or some such nonsense (it looked like a low-budget "Lord of the Rings"-meets-"Stargate", which is theoretically right up my alley, but the acting was below even my lamentably-low standards). So instead, I think I'll go to bed -- we discussed playing a game of Rail Baron tomorrow, but if we do, we want to start before noon so that we can finish it in one sitting, and that requires me getting some sleep. Goodnight!

Friday, December 25, 2009

g to the o to the t to the q to the l to the gooooood time

Merry Christmas, everyone! The family and I had a lovely day, despite the absurd seven a.m. start time enforced by Santa and our Christmas morning traditions. We tried something new this year, each buying two gifts for the other three people's stockings, and it was a rousing success. Then, we proceeded to (slowly) unwrap presents, prolonging the magic for a decent interval since we all had multiple wonderful things to discover (none of which could have been traded to anyone else in the family - we have v. divergent tastes). I received some awesome gifts, including a cookbook stand, a bed tray (to go with my octogenarian heating pad from last Christmas), the "Pride and Prejudice" A&E miniseries (I emailed Vidya promptly and told her I would be making her high tea to serve on the tray while we watched "Pride and Prejudice", which no doubt pleased her), Craig Ferguson's memoir, a Cross pen that I've coveted for months, new Moleskine notebooks, etc. I feel like I made off like a bandit, and am quite glad that I didn't get what my family members got, even though they seemed equally happy (mom: gardening book, gardening tools, sheets, cutting board, etc.; dad: travel backpack, grill cover, grill brush, etc.; Michael: computer components, saw blades, Red Dwarf DVD, etc.) It's amazing that we all get along so well despite our rather diverse interests and tastes.

Even though I'm 28, it's still the case that I wanted to play with my 'toys' (in this case, the pen and notebooks), and instead had to put them away like a good girl and spend the day with the relatives. It was nice, obviously, but it's funny how easily one can revert to childhood over the holidays. Uncle Mark, Aunt Kathy, Drewbaby and Gram came out for brunch, and we had the breakfast casserole and blueberry cake that we mixed up last night, as well as some ambrosia that Dad made this morning. Jackie and her husband Shawn came over to hang out while my nieces and nephew were at their paternal grandmother's house celebrating Christmas, but I didn't spent much time with them, as Michael, Drew and I were playing Michael's new "Country Band" game downstairs. I really don't like country music, but I do like playing drums, and the song "Good Time" by Alan Jackson really amused me. Things devolved when Michael handed me the mic, since I don't know any of the songs and am also not particularly tuneful, but it was still fun.

The Wampler side left shortly thereafter (no doubt driven away by my impersonation of Shania Twain), and my nieces and nephews arrived. We hung out for a few hours, opened packages, and then had a delicious early dinner (which, being only five hours after brunch, made me uncomfortably full on not so much food). They left around 5:30 since the weather has been bad for the past couple of days, and the rest of us collapsed into heaps of exhaustion.

Mom, Dad and I rallied long enough to watch the first two parts of the "John Adams" miniseries documentary that my sister gave Dad for Christmas. So far, I think it's really good; obviously, we know how it ends, but Paul Giamatti makes up for the less-than-stellar opinion I had of "Sideways", and the relationship between John and Abigail is fascinating. Unfortunately I did some research after we stopped watching and read a rather gruesome recounting of the surgery that his daughter underwent in later years to remove a breast tumor -- think no anaesthetic, with her tied down to a chair and the doctor sitting on top of her, digging a fork into her breast to pull it away from the chest, and then sawing through it with a knife and cauterizing as he went -- ugh. But hopefully we'll continue watching the documentary over the next week, as that whole period of history is fascinating to me.

Now, on that unpleasant note, I should go to sleep. Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

whiskey and whores

The phrase that I used to title my blog post tonight has been stuck in my head; if I recall correctly, it's what my father claimed he would buy with the money my grandmother gave him for Christmas (she suggested a tree for their yard, but boys will be boys).

So, it's now officially Christmas Day in Iowa - merry Christmas! We celebrated the traditional Wampler family Christmas Eve today, made a bit more entertaining by the strange and treacherous storm scouring the midwest. We're in this weird band currently getting rain, and so my aunts and uncles were able to drive down from Des Moines this morning, but it's anyone's guess what will happen tomorrow, particularly since we have been hovering right at freezing for the last six hours. Despite the weather, the clan convened, and stayed convened all day. We had lunch (smoked turkey sandwiches, etc.), and then played three games of Apples to Apples (miraculously, I won all three - not to brag or anything) before taking a break from the game playing. With my parents and brother, Aunt Becky and the formerly-scandalous Uncle Brian, Uncle Mark, Aunt Kathy and my cousin Drew-baby, and Gram, we were at ten people, which is too much for such fun pursuits as Rail Baron (which we also wouldn't have had time for, since we only had five or six hours between lunch and dinner) or Scotland Yard. So, we milled about the house, I put gold tinsel in Aunt Becky's hair, and we ultimately ended up opening gifts at five p.m.

As usual, Gram received the most presents and was annoyed that she got more than everyone else. I still received some nice gifts, including a couple of cookbooks (a Barefoot Contessa book and a book on authentic Mexican cooking, which I have wanted to learn and will need to know if I ever move away from the bay area and back to the hinterland), a really pretty set of glass fountain pens that Aunt Becky and Uncle Brian brought back from the Italian honeymoon, and a digital picture frame conveniently loaded with pictures of Aunt B's wedding and honeymoon. Then, we had our traditional Christmas Eve supper (lasagna and garlic bread), and people hung out and watched my parents put together tomorrow's breakfast casserole, my mom do dishes, and me make the blueberry cream cheese cake that is normally the "blue ring" in the Olympic Rings Cakes (tm). I left out the blue food coloring though, so it almost looks edible (although even with the food coloring, Adit dubbed it "next level cake", since it's so good that it takes cakes to the next level).

Everyone left after "The Mentalist" was over at ten, and then the four of us sat around and talked until 11:30 (obviously by that I mean my father fell asleep, my brother went downstairs to finish wrapping stuff for tomorrow morning, and my mom and I talked). But now, it's time for bed -- Santa demands that I get up at 7am tomorrow so that the four of us can exchange gifts before the clan returns at eleven, and I must accede to Santa's wishes in this matter. Merry Christmas, everyone!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

come on ride the train

Well, I lied in my last post; I ended up staying up for another couple of hours after claiming that I was going to bed, and so I ultimately slept until almost noon. I dallied for awhile, put more tinsel in my hair, took a bubble bath, and then made my sole contribution to today's productivity -- a batch of oatmeal chocolate chip cookies for the holidays. These are among my father's favorite cookies, so even though my mother made sugar cookies, peanut butter blossoms with chocolate stars, and chocolate peppermint patty cookies, the fourth type of cookie was still necessary. I also made some margaritas, and we looked back fondly on the time that my mom had alcohol poisoning in Ukraine and ended up spending the night throwing up in the bathroom of our ridiculous Soviet-era hotel. Then, my dad made the most amazing barbecued ribs I've had in recent memory, my mom made macaroni and cheese, and we ate a leisurely dinner before finishing our game of Rail Baron from a couple of nights ago. After a combined game time of almost seven hours, my mother won; she tried to make it home once and I caught her, but she had enough money to try again on the next round and got home before anyone could catch her. At that point, it was ten p.m., and I've been watching tv since then.

We're ready for Christmas, but the weather could impede things; there's a massive storm in the area, but temperatures are treacherous, and so it's not entirely clear when we will have rain, when it will turn to ice, and how much snow we might get at the end. I hope we get some snow at the end to cover up the mud, but obviously that means that there may be a layer of ice under the snow, which is never a good thing. Uncle Mark, Aunt Becky and their families are supposed to come down tomorrow, so hopefully everyone makes it in and out over the next couple of days.

If they do get here tomorrow, I will need to get up around nine, so I should probably follow through with my idea to go to bed. Goodnight!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

your love is like a shadow on me all of the time

I was much more productive today than I usually am on vacation; I was out of bed by ten (shocker), and I finally unpacked my gigantic suitcase and hung up my clothes (worthwhile, since I'm here through New Year's Day). I was going to wear my snazzy maxstudio sweater/dress and leggings, but I knew that I had to go into town to finish some shopping, and I ultimately decided that the townsfolk probably couldn't handle the outfit that my brother dubbed "hobbit-western". So, I wore a more normal (at least for me) outfit, although I can't look entirely normal with my plum-colored down-filled bomber jacket and my hot pink Kipling bag.

I went into town for an hour and a half, reminding myself once again of how depressing the town looks in winter, how decrepit many of the buildings are (I parked on the side of the square for a few minutes waiting for the window at the post office to open after the worker's lunch break and realized that I was staring at a building with a bunch of windows knocked out and some badly faded drapes fluttering in the breeze), how little there is to buy, etc. It wasn't *that* depressing, since I knew what to expect, and it's not like it's gotten worse in the past few months -- but it still makes me sad that these little towns are dying out...

That's a story for another time, though; I'm in too good a mood about the upcoming Christmas festivities to dwell on my past and the future of my homeland. Despite the extreme dearth of goods sold in town, I still managed to find the last couple of things on my to-do list, and then I came home and wrapped presents. And wrapped...and wrapped...and between yesterday and today, I think I've wrapped something on the order of 32 presents. There are still a few things coming in through UPS tomorrow, but I'm tantalizingly close to done with wrapping, which is fantastic. This got me out of baking cookies, but since it took me so long, I spent some quality time wrapping at the kitchen table while Mom made three different kinds of cookies, so we still got to catch up. Then, my father and brother returned from their meeting in Des Moines, and my mom made tenderloins for supper (delish!) We debated trying to finish the game of Rail Baron that we started the other day, but given that we still have at least three hours of game play left, we put it off for another night. My parents pretty promptly fell asleep, and I watched a couple of hours of tv, put four strands of tinsel in my hair (difficult), and caught up on the latest gossip.

Even though it's earlier than when I usually go to bed at home, I should probably go to sleep; staying on California time while I'm on vacation is super easy, but it makes Christmas morning (when we of course have to get up before dawn to exchange packages that could have just as easily been exchanged at the more civilized hour of two p.m.) pretty painful if I fail to adjust before then. Goodnight!

Monday, December 21, 2009

i'm just looking for clues at the scene of the crime

I had an appalling lazy day -- which, I suppose, is to be expected of vacation, but it feels worse when you're engaging in your vacation while everyone else in the house is still working. Okay -- it doesn't feel that much worse, and it didn't stop me from sleeping until eleven and staying in my pajamas until almost four p.m. Why I even bothered to get dressed, I don't know, but I have to maintain some semblance of productivity, even if it's just to remind myself that I do have goals and things that I want to accomplish while I'm on vacation.

I did cross one task (ordering Christmas cards) off my list, although they likely won't reach their intended recipients until after the holidays. I also wrapped approximately twelve presents; this is unfortunately not quite halfway through what I need to wrap, but it's better than nothing. The four of us had supper together, and then my parents went to a Round Barn meeting while I spent a couple of hours watching television with my brother. He has a tv downstairs, with several couches spread out in the big living space (which also happens to contain a kitchen replete with a stove and fridge) -- but I find it very strange to have a second living room/den, since the house we grew up in didn't have that kind of space, and so I never think to use it even though it's quite nice. For instance, my tv was down there the entire time I was home on leave in 2008, and I could have easily subscribed to Netflix and watched all the movies I've intended to watch my entire life, but instead I just watched whatever fine CBS programming my parents watched. Strange.

Tomorrow holds more of the same in store, although I should probably get up a little earlier to accomplish the things I need to focus on -- I want to finish wrapping presents tomorrow, and my mother is hinting that I should bake some cookies. It's quite the idyllic life I live out here in the country; there may be no fancy wine bars and none of the cafes (or friends) that I adore, but it's nice to be home nonetheless. And now, I'm off to bed -- goodnight!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

i only wish my words could just convince myself that it just wasn't real

Today was an utterly lazy day; I woke up around eleven, hung out upstairs for an hour, spent some quality time finishing my Christmas shopping online, and took a much-needed shower. Then, the family and I played Rail Baron from 2:30 to 6:30, which was long enough for everything to get established and for all the railroads but one to sell. We ended up pausing at 6:30 for supper so that the family could watch the three-hour finale of "Survivor: Samoa", and so we'll have to spend a few hours finishing the game sometime this week.

I didn't watch any "Survivor" this season (not that I usually watch it or any other shows), but the finale was entertaining enough that I felt at least marginally invested and therefore annoyed when the win went to Natalie (who played the 'nice and quiet' strategy to perfection) instead of Russell (who was an obnoxious snake who just happened to find multiple immunity idols without any clues and carry his far-outnumbered alliance all the way to the end). It is an interesting commentary on society that Russell was so popular; Jaison (one of the other contestants) was right that we would normally hate someone like Russell if we worked in the same office, but he made for excellent television.

I meant to go to bed hours ago, but I'm following my usual tradition of staying up way too late while I'm at home, which will jeopardize my plans to get things done tomorrow. So, I need to go to bed right now...goodnight!

walking in memphis

I had an insanely long day, and I must say that I'm glad that I showered last night before going to the airport, or else I would feel even grosser right now than I already do. As you know, my flight left SFO at 12:40am, putting me into Memphis sometime around six a.m. this morning. I had a couple of hours before my flight, so I wandered around and grabbed a quick breakfast before heading to my gate. But once I got there, things went from tired and miserable to concerned and annoyed -- they kept pushing the estimated departure back, before finally cancelling the whole flight around noon. They offered to either put me on a flight to Des Moines tomorrow, or on a nondirect flight with a layover in Atlanta. The last thing I wanted to do was get farther away from Iowa; the ten hour drive from Memphis home is right at the upper bound of how far I would want to drive by myself in a day. So, I opted for an evening flight direct to Kansas City, and my parents were kind enough to pick me up and drive the almost-three-hours back toward home.

Anyway, I became unnecessarily familiar with the Memphis airport. I felt that it was kind of a dump, and they've only really attracted off-brand restaurants and stores that do not instill confidence in the populace. I ended up eating three meals there, but I was falling asleep over my lunch and so forgot to use one of the meal vouchers that Northwest gave me. So I found a deserted gate and the one good 'amenity' of the airport (there are quite a few four-across seat benches without arm rests) and managed to sleep for three hours. This helped me get onto the final flight -- despite some early mechanical issues that made me worried about the likelihood of taking off, we made it to Kansas City less than fifteen minutes late.

Now I'm falling asleep over this blog post, so I'm going to bed. Maybe tomorrow I'll focus on writing - but we'll see how I feel after I've slept for a few hours. Goodnight!

Friday, December 18, 2009

it's only me you and the dance floor

This is a little strange - I'm sitting in the San Francisco airport, and there's a guy wearing a gold satin eyemask sitting on one of the chairs near me. Thanks to my recent obsession, it of course reminded me of the guy wearing a gold chinplate in Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance" video, which is perhaps a sign that I need to stop watching it quite so much.

I'm about to get on my flight to Memphis, and from there to Des Moines; my strategy this winter was to fly through a Southern city in an attempt to avoid getting stranded someplace, and so far so good. It really has nothing to do with my decision, though, since there is no bad weather in Denver, Chicago or Minneapolis right now, but I'm still relieved. With any luck, I'll make it there on time, my family will pick me up, we will have breakfast, and then we will finish our Christmas shopping. And hopefully my bags make it too - I bought more of my Christmas gifts for people in person rather than online this year, which means I had more to take home than usual. If my bags disappear, it will be a sad story.

Anyway, I successfully woke up at 6:15 and was out the door by seven, with the intention of making it to work by eight so that I could study for an hour and a half before my exam. It was all going swimmingly until somewhere around Redwood City, where traffic ground to a halt. It took me half an hour to get to the next exit, which I promptly took since I know the surface streets in the area; even though they were backed up too, I made the right decision, and so it took me "only" two hours to get to work (some people reported 3+ hours from the city to Mountain View). There was a multi-car accident with an overturned vehicle near Palo Alto, and one of the victims died, so it makes sense why traffic was so backed up. In fact, it was going so slowly that while I was annoyed that I couldn't study at my desk, I was able to read thirty pages of the study guide while sitting in my car. This ultimately paid off, and I passed the second exam with flying colors, freeing up the rest of my day to try to get things done before the holidays.

I left the office around three, ran errands, was home by five, and then spent the rest of the evening cleaning the apartment and packing. I took a quick shower so that my family wouldn't have to deal with my stinkiness, and then Katrina came over to get the spare keys so that she could potentially stay at our place this week. Together, we went to Martuni's (a piano bar with a predominantly middle-aged gay male clientele) to meet up briefly with Vidya (aka Vidius Chandicus, the beloved Chandlord) for her birthday. I was only able to stay for half an hour due to the whole about-to-get-on-a-plane situation, but I'm glad I got to see her despite the brevity. Then, I dropped Katrina back at my place and made it to the airport just in time to write this post before getting on the plane.

That's all for tonight - by the time I write again, I will (fingers crossed) be in Iowa! Finally, happy birthday again to Vidya - and happy birthday to my mother! (or, as Vidya called her in the email she asked me to forward, "the Swampmom") Goodnight!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

musical chairs

I had an excellent day, despite taking one standardized test at work and attempting to study (poorly) for the second one tomorrow. I made it to work by 8am, where I loaded up on breakfast and crammed for another hour before taking the test; my nerves were apparently for naught, since I passed with a 95% (10% higher than the pass cutoff). Tomorrow's test is supposed to be harder, but some of the content overlaps with today's test, and the cutoff is 80% instead of 85%, so I'm cautiously optimistic that I will pass if I go in early tomorrow and cram for an hour beforehand again.

So the test went well, and then I slogged the rest of the day. I tried to study for the second test this afternoon, but I inadvertently dozed off on my couch in my office - only for fifteen minutes, and I was facing away from the door, so hopefully no one saw me. I threw in the towel on studying and instead wrote some stuff for the big boss, since I'm trying to wrap up some projects before the holidays.

I managed to escape around 4:30, and I met up with Claudia (aka Claude the Fraude) in downtown Mountain View so that I could drive her to the evil city for some extreme family time. We had some quality time in the car, since the drive to the city took an hour and twenty minutes, and so we were ten minutes late to dinner. But, dinner was riotously fun; the dinner was originally just supposed to be Adit and Vidya, but I invited myself, then invited Claude, and then Adit added John and Katrina. We had pizza in Glen Park, an SF neighborhood that I have never been to before; the pizza was quite good, but of course it could not outshine the company. It tried pretty hard, though -- Adit ordered an egg on one of the pizzas, and unfortunately they screwed up and put it on the bacon and potato pizza instead of the vegetarian pizza, so John, Claude and I had to eat the egg. It was delicious; of course, eggs go well with bacon and potatoes, and they just cracked the whole egg on top of the middle of the pizza so that it could sort of sunny-side-up, which meant you could dip your crust in the yolk. Yummy!

We reminisced quite a bit about the fact that Adit, John, Claude and I have now been friends for ten years, which is impossible to believe. Sadly, Adit had to leave to catch a flight back to the east coast (goodbye roommate!), but Claude, John and Vidya came over to my place to hang out for another hour and a half. Sadly I have absolutely no food (except one frozen pizza, useless after eating pizza at a restaurant) and only half a bottle of Odwalla single-serve orange juice and a couple of mini champagnes in the fridge, so I felt like a terrible hostess. We had a good time nonetheless, with much discussion of PhDs, jobs, my new phone, and a variety of other tings.

After I booted them all from the apartment, I studied for an hour, but I'm too tired to keep going. I'll get up in the morning to read the final few sections, and then I will just hope for the best. Wish me luck - in twenty-four hours I will be on my way to the airport and bound for home!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

i get around

This is a four-minute post. I'm probably screwed for work tomorrow; I've got a couple of mandatory tests on the advertising product this week (actually, this quarter, and I of course procrastinated and signed up for the last two days), and the first test is tomorrow morning. I meant to study a lot this week, but with all the usual end-of-quarter firedrills going on compounded with the travel plans of everyone and their mother pushing the firedrills to this week instead of the following two weeks, I didn't crack open the study guide until ~3pm today. Even then, I didn't study straight through, with one thing or another getting in the way (although one of the things was good - Terry came over, and she and Natasha and I got free Sprinkles cupcakes from the Sprinkles cupcake truck that was parked outside of my office building - delicious!).

It wouldn't be so bad if I hadn't been at the office at 7:30am, and I didn't leave until 7pm because of traffic. I made it home at eight, did a load of laundry, and settled down to study. Now, I'm throwing in the towel - I'm feeling better than I was, since it turns out that I remember more about the fundamentals of our advertising service than I thought I did, but since I haven't talked to a customer in ages, I'm still worried that I'll pick the wrong words on the multiple-choice questions. We shall see, though. In any event, my night was not nearly as fun as Adit's; he showed up at 9:30, and I did a classic doubletake when I looked over my shoulder to say hi as he walked in, glimpsed a lot of orange over the rims of my glasses, and swiveled around again to examine further and discover that he was indeed wearing an orange prison-style jumpsuit. He had also enjoyed about ten cans of Tecate and various other drinks at his all-day work offsite, so he was in a much better mood than I was. We chatted for a bit while I continued trying to study, and then he ended up going out again, leaving me to my misery.

That's all for now though - wish me luck on the test! Goodnight!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

i want your love, i don't wanna be friends

Today was incredibly hectic; I tried to get up at 5:30, but I'm using the alarm on my new phone, and instead of hitting snooze, I accidentally turned it off. Luckily, I still got up at six, and I made it into work in time to slog violently until my meeting with the big boss at 11am. Then, I took a brief break to get my allergy shots (not exactly relaxing), before going back to my office and slogging without pause until five p.m. Granted, I was insanely productive, but I'm going to have to have a couple more of those days if I'm going to get through all the stuff on my to-do list before the end of the week.

However, I left at five to have dinner with some of my oldest coworker/friends; our friend Joann is in town for the first time in a year (she transferred to Singapore a year and a half ago), and so Tolu, Jane, Lizzie and I met up with her at this restaurant called Boiling Crab in south San Jose. I will likely never go there again, but only because the trek down there + the drive back to Mountain View just added another ninety minutes or so to my already-long commute. But if I lived closer, and had more crustacean-eating friends, I would definitely go again -- they basically serve bulk shrimp, crawdads, crabs, etc. We ordered three pounds of shrimp, two pounds of dungeness crab (or rather, one crab), a pound of crawdads, a basket of fried shrimp, and a couple of orders of sweet potato fries. They don't give you plates or utensils, instead covering the entire table in disposable tablecloths that you eat off of in lieu of proper dinnerware. And the shrimp and crabs don't come on platters -- they come in a big plastic bag full of seafood and spicy sauce. It was the messiest dinner I've had in a while (they provide each table with a roll of paper towels), but really fun, and it was obviously great to see Joann again after so long.

After dinner, I made the v. long trek back to the evil city, and then spent an hour doing some more work. Adit was here for awhile, and our overlapping time mostly consisted of him ignoring me while I rattled about stuff, but it was nice nonetheless (and I have to get my quality time in now before we both disappear for the holidays). Now, I desperately need to go to sleep; I have a 7:30am meeting tomorrow, which should be illegal. Goodnight!

Monday, December 14, 2009

over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore

I'm going to bed immediately, so this likely isn't even a four-minute post. My day consisted of work (which is not interesting), lunch with Joy (which was fun and provided a good conversation, which I shan't repeat here), and three hours of Christmas shopping (which I can't discuss for fear of tipping my hand to the recipients). After shopping (during which I was relatively good, buying no gifts for myself other than the requisite stock-up of bath and household supplies at Target), I went to Cafe Borrone in Menlo Park and had a sandwich while attempting to write for a little bit.

Unfortunately, I should have worked more today, and I have a ton of stuff to do tomorrow morning, so I'm going to go to bed right now so that I can get up early and tackle it all. Tomorrow promises to be fun if I survive the work aspect, since I have dinner plans with some old work friends...but sleep is essential. Goodnight!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

christmas is all around us, come on and let it snow

I had a lovely day, even if I didn't get any writing done. I was out of bed by nine, showered by ten, and out the door by noon. In the interim, I had to spend some quality time talking to my brother, since we were attempting to coordinate our Christmas shopping; I turned him on to the beauty of Google Docs and Spreadsheets, which allowed us to take notes and brainstorm with real-time updates, and has given us a central location to store what we're buying, who's responsible for what, and what we've spent. Yes, I'm a dork, but you knew that already.

I made my way down to Union Square, where I parked in the garage that only charges $6 for Sunday parking (miracle of miracles, and I shan't publicly blog the address because I want it to stay a secret). I did get some Christmas shopping done, but I bought stuff for myself as well -- particularly at Sephora, where I spent all of the fabulously generous giftcard that Ritu sent me, eliciting a raised eyebrow from the cashier. I also stopped at a couple of stores in the mall and had a late lunch at Andale. On my way back to my car, I attempted to go to Crate and Barrel, but the place was a madhouse and my bags threatened to knock over the delicate glass displays, so I left emptyhanded. That plus the fact that I didn't want to venture out of the city this weekend in search of a Target means that I still have quite a bit to take care of, and v. little time to do it before going home for Christmas next weekend!

Anyway, I stopped by Vidya's to say hi after shopping, and we agreed to rendezvous for dinner later. So I came home, unloaded my purchases, and talked to my parents before returning to her place to pick her up. We went to the Korean soft tofu place in the Richmond that Adit and I tried and failed to go to a couple of weeks ago; this time, the service was fast, and I got to savor my delicious soup even if I couldn't bring myself to try to pry apart and eat the whole shrimp in front of Vidya. We had a v. good conversation, and decided to continue it over takeout desserts from Citizen Cake + a viewing of "Love Actually" at my apartment. I still adore that movie, even if the storylines are all ridiculous, and so it was a lovely way to spend a couple of hours. Then, I took Vidya home and returned to my abode, and now it's time for bed!

know that it doesn't hurt me

Today was a pretty good day, despite the endless rain; I woke up at ten, spent a couple of desultory hours with Adit, and then bid him farewell while I continued to play with my various gadgets and devices. I finally showered around 1pm, and eventually drove myself to one of the Samovars, where I spent a couple of v. quality hours thinking about my future over masala chai, scones, and a tea soup (it was delicious - rice, smoked salmon, seaweed, mushrooms, carrots, etc, on which you poured black tea to make the soup). I came home, ventured out again in search of quarters, and then washed my new duvet cover and sheets. I also spent some quality time with my India guidebook, since I'm (fingers crossed) going to be able to go there in February, which would be super fun.

While today was nice, tomorrow needs to be better -- it's my last real day to go Christmas shopping, since I have dinner plans every night next week and leave for Iowa on Friday at midnight. I did spend some time generating ideas for the gifts I have to buy, but I have barely started shopping and there's still much to be done. And on that note, I should take care of myself and go to bed!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

you and me could write a bad romance

Today was lovely; I spent way too much of it listening to Lady GaGa's "Bad Romance", including watching the utterly ridiculously amazing video. I wish that I could be that abandoned, that willing to give in to my inner ridiculousness. But I suppose I should just focus on channeling my inner ridiculousness into my writing, since I can't dance for anything and know I will never be a pop starlet, alas.

I spent the day working (when I wasn't watching Lady GaGa, of course), and then hung out with Joy and Gyre at TGIF. After TGIF, I swung past an alcohol store to pick up a bottle of wine, and then went to Borders to buy a <$10 white elephant gift (my contribution: a $9.99 belly dancing kit, replete with a CD, and instruction guide, and two sets of finger cymbals - this is why Borders is going broke). My next stop was my friend Lizzie's; she had a small holiday gathering for several of us who started working together around the same time, although Lizzie and Jane have now moved on to greener pastures. The party was fun; she made some excellent food and displayed it with some quite lovely serving dishes, and we all had a good time catching up. She had this party game called 'The Cube' - a couple of people couldn't play because they'd played before, and you can only play once because it's a psychological game that is supposed to tell you all about your subconscious based on how you answer the questions asked. Mine was pretty right on, except I answered one question with the little ponies from the Jack-in-the-Box "Mini Sirloin Burger" commercial, and that ended up telling me some v. inaccurate things about my marital state.

Anyway, we hung out for awhile, and then I left around eleven and made the quick trip back to the evil city. When I got home, I discovered Adit here for the first time in days; he was watching "Garden State", so I watched the last part of it with him, and now we're watching part of the first "Austin Powers" movie. And on that note, I think I should go to bed; it's not clear what I shall do tomorrow, but writing needs to be part of it. Goodnight!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

i'm hiding out and planning my escape

I have v. little to blog about tonight. I didn't get enough sleep last night, which left me with a headache all day, and rendered me a bit less productive than I should have been. But, I had lunch with some of my former team members, and then snuck out around 2pm to watch "The Men Who Stare at Goats" with Joy. Joy had pulled an all-nighter on some stuff for work last night, and so when my boss told her to take a break, I went with her even though I didn't deserve it. The movie was good -- not great, but it made me laugh, which was exactly what we wanted. After the movie, I worked for another couple of hours, then made the annoying trek back to the evil city.

I was supposed to go to Vidya's book club tonight, but since I was cold, tired, and not in the mood for book club (particularly book club with no book involved), I skipped it and read a book instead. I've been on a paranormal romance kick, probably because it's far removed from everything I want to or am supposed to be writing (Regency historicals, young-adult fantasy, and "legitimate" literary fiction). So, it should be no surprise that the book I read was called "The Accidental Demon Slayer". It was good and v. entertaining; I didn't totally fall in love with the writing style, but the character development was fantastic.

Now, it's past my bedtime again -- it's been nice that I've been reading a lot more lately, but it's wreaking havoc on my sleep schedule. The problem is that I struggle to put a book down; once I'm enmeshed in the world, I forget to eat, drink, or move. The result is that I always feel like I'm waking up from a long dream after reading a book. For instance, I started reading around 7:45 and finished the book by 11:15 -- but in that time, I stayed motionless on the couch, and came back to life with a ridiculous crick in my neck and a rumbling stomach from skipping dinner. If only I could focus on my writing with that single-minded intensity...I would be unstoppable. But that's a goal for another day; right now, it's time for bed!

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

i don't "not" want to be your maid of honor

The title of this post is in reference to my friend Rat, who took something that I said tonight as an invitation to be my maid of honor and was then hurt when I rescinded the offer. Ha. He would actually make a lovely maid of honor, so we shall see what we shall see!

Today was a lovely day; I got up in time to actually wear a dress, tights, and heels to work (not that this really requires more effort, but it looks more put-together than the cashmere hoodies I've been rocking since successfully acquiring my promotion). I made it to work in plenty of time for my eight a.m. meeting, sat through two hours of discussion, did some work, and then had a lovely lunch with Sarah, my coworker/friend who started the same month that I did but is now based out of Singapore. It was great to catch up and spend some one-on-one time with her, although it did make me miss having her here all over again. Then, I slogged through the afternoon, had a meeting with my boss (the big boss, although I can't keep calling her that if she's just my boss) that went well, and then pretended to work for another hour before peacing out. My company is apparently bringing back a handful of the old ridiculous perks we used to have; today there was a holiday soiree outside, and they covered the sidewalks with slush (possibly real slush from the snow-covered foothills near us?) brought in a few real reindeer, and served champagne, raw oysters, crab cakes, kobe beef meatballs, caviar, etc. So I loaded up on a few appetizers before leaving early and making my way back to the evil city, talking to my parents on the way.

I tried to write when I got home, and did just a little bit, but then got sidetracked by stuff for the day job. Then, in a highly uncharacteristic move, I actually *went out for drinks* on a Wednesday. I met up with Vidya, Julie, Rat, and Deano at a bar a couple of blocks from the Chandlord's; it would have been more convenient if I still lived at Vidya's, but since I do not, I had to drive and so did not consume much alcohol (in fact, half of two different drinks -- one strawberry champagne martini that Vidya claimed tasted like poison, and she might have been right, and then half a glass of riesling). We hung out there for a couple of hours and had a generally lovely time, reminiscing and letting Rat tell ridiculously awful jhokes. Then, I chauffeured them all home so that they wouldn't have to brave the cold (it was 37 degrees when I got to work this morning, which is unheard of, and worth complaining about even if my family is buried under 12" of snow), and now it's time for bed. Tomorrow promises to be busy, so sleep is essential. Goodnight!

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

i tried one day to let you go

This is a four-minute post. I had a pretty good day, all in all; I slept until almost eight and was at work by ten, which was v. good for my energy levels and overall willingness to tolerate annoyances. Not that I had many annoyances to tolerate today -- I worked for a couple of hours, and then had a ninety-minute lunch with Gyre, Lizzie, and Sarah (Sarah is fresh off the plane from Singapore, and so she crashed the every-six-weeks lunch that Gyre and I have with our former coworker Lizzie). It was lovely as usual to catch up with all of them, and I'm looking forward to having lunch with Sarah again tomorrow. Then, I had a conference all with Heather (aka dear respected madam), followed by a good meeting about customer satisfaction. I worked for one more hour, and then peaced out for the day -- we've slowly, tentatively started having (cheap) offsites again, and while I have no team and no one to have an offsite with, a team that I'm marginally affiliated with invited me to come to theirs.

So, five of us went up to Belmont/San Mateo (apparently called Bel-Mateo?) for some bowling action. Wii Bowling has apparently wiped out any ability that I ever had; not that I was ever any good, but I should have been able to bowl better than a 55. So we bowled and talked in the nearly empty bowling alley, and then adjourned to a nearby diner for totally delicious burgers and fries. Then, I drove the rest of the way back to the evil city, where I spent the last two hours doing the work that I clearly would have been able to get done if I had not gone bowling instead.

Now, though, my four minutes are up; luckily, tomorrow is shaping up okay, and if I maintain some base level of productivity, I will hopefully get through everything I need to take care of before the holidays. Goodnight!

Monday, December 07, 2009

baby it's cold outside

So perhaps this story will amuse you, even though it did not amuse me. Several months ago, perhaps last May, I got a notification from my credit card company that they were changing the rules on my rewards points so that they expired virtually on arrival, which would render all of my years' worth of careful hoarding useless. There were no big-ticket items on their site that I wanted, so I exchanged the points for several $100 gift cards at Sephora, Bed Bath and Beyond, and Staples (yes, Staples, because I am a dork). The Sephora ones were gone in a flash, but I was saving the Bed Bath and Beyond ones to make a bedding purchase.

Tonight was finally the night; armed with my gift cards and a rare, magical coupon for 20% off everything in the store (rather than just 20% off one item, as usual), I went to Bed Bath and Beyond. There was a lovely shirred grey duvet cover, with a throw pillow and a set of silvery sheets, that I had my eye on, as well as a lighter down comforter to make up for the fact that my standard comforter is 'extra warm' (silly in California, I bought it during the winter here when my Palo Alto apartment's heat wasn't up to snuff) and therefore much too warm most of the time. But, when I got to the cash register, imagine my horror -- somewhere, either through user error or a mixup at the fulfillment center, I didn't have cards for Bed Bath and Beyond, but instead for Bath and Body Works.

Luckily I noticed before handing them to the cashier, but I was mortified, horrified, and annoyed. How I didn't notice before is beyond me, but they have the same number of syllables and the same blue color scheme that I expected. I ended up buying the bedding anyway because the 20% off coupon actually shouldn't have worked on the duvet cover and sheets but it did anyway, and I had my heart set on them at this point. But what in the hell am I going to do with $300 worth of gift cards for Bath and Body Works?! If you hit the sales, you could use that to buy 50 bottles of bubble bath. Granted, I love bubble bath and many other shower- and bath-related accessories, but $300 is a bit much even for me.

I shall persevere; the cards don't expire (supposedly), so I'm in no rush to stockpile a lifetime supply of bubble bath. And if any family members have already purchased or intend to purchase the bubble bath items on my Christmas list, please feel free and know that I will love it despite this; a couple more bottles of the stuff makes no difference in the ocean of bubble bath that I will have in the future, and I won't make it to Bath and Body Works before Christmas anyway.

That was the most annoying aspect of an otherwise mildly annoying day. I got up way too early to try to beat traffic, which succeeded, but since I only got five and a half hours of sleep, I wasn't very productive as a result. I got done what I absolutely needed to get done, but I was pretty surly by the end of it, and the bedding situation didn't help. When I got home, I discovered that the guy who I'm renting the garage from had put another car in there and not moved it, and I lacked about eight inches of being able to pull in far enough to be able to park there. Luckily I was able to find parking on the street, but if the car is still there tomorrow, I will be pissed. But, I calmed down when I got home, eating some frozen enchilada and finishing the book I started yesterday ("Soulless" by Gail Carriger; quite entertaining book about a woman in Victorian England who falls in love with a werewolf even though she personally has no soul and so is able to neutralize werewolves, vampires, and various other supernatural beings on contact). And now, I shall go to bed; morning will come all too soon, and I must be more productive than I was today. Goodnight!

hot and jammy

Today was, on the whole, quite excellent, beginning and ending on particularly good notes. I had brunch with Shedletsky and Joanna at Samovar in Yerba Buena; even though it was cold and overcast outside, the inside was still lovely, and it was great to catch up with them since I hadn't seen Shedletsky since my birthday and Joanna for even longer. We had the requisite masala chais and a variety of foodstuffs, and seeing them reminding me how much I'm missing by embracing my hermitage.

However, I promptly forgot the lesson and came home to embrace my hermitage. I cleaned up around the apartment, cleaned my room, Swiffered up all my hair in anticipation of Adit's return, and painted my toenails. I also talked to my parents for over an hour, which was nice; I'm really looking forward to the holidays, and there are many things to plan in anticipation of that time. Then, I took care of myriad tasks, and took a brief nap in anticipation of my unusually late Sunday night. And, I read part of a book set in an alternate-reality Victorian London -- I'm trying to read more, which is working out almost too well given that I have hundreds of books on my to-be-read list and it's way too easy to read instead of write.

Due to the book, I was almost late picking Adit up from the airport; however, I retrieved him successfully, and we met up with Katrina for a 10pm dinner at Flour + Water. The place is apparently a complete scene on busy nights, but on a slow Sunday night with rain coming down and an uncharacteristically cold 45-degree temperature outside, the place felt cozy and charming. We had a great bottle of wine (it was described to us as 'hot and jammy', hence the title) and some of the best pasta I've ever had. My dish was a ravioli-type pocket pasta filled with ground pork and onions that reminded me a lot of pelminis, if I could have had pelminis in Ukraine that were made with top-notch ingredients and cooked perfectly instead of the versions we actually had, which (while tasty) were likely made with flour that had only recently had the rat feces sifted out of it and pork that was just this side of trichinosis.

sssanyway, it was lovely to see Adit after what feels like weeks without him around, since he and I only overlapped for a couple of days between when I left for Thanksgiving and now. It was also lovely to see Katrina, whom I hadn't see in ages, and generally a good time seemed to be had by all. Now, though, I really need to go to bed -- since it will likely rain two inches in the next twenty-four hours, my commute tomorrow morning will be brutal. It rains two inches in Iowa like every other day, but here the people aren't equipped to drive and the infrastructure is so bad that there are already patches showing up on the 511 traffic site that are apparently stop-and-go even though traffic at midnight on a Sunday should be perfectly clear. Ridiculous. So I'm getting up at six and getting my ass in the car before all hell breaks loose; wish me luck!

Sunday, December 06, 2009

i tried one day to let you go

I had a fine day - it was certainly v. relaxing, although I didn't accomplish nearly as much as I intended to. I slept until almost ten, tidied up around the apartment, took my time getting ready, and caught up on the news (dangerous, since I can surf the internet forever). I spent a couple of hours this afternoon at the Samovar in Hayes Valley; this was a bit of a weird choice since I'm going to the Samovar in Yerba Buena for brunch with Shedletsky tomorrow, but I was in the mood for some masala chai and people-watching, and Samovar fit the bill. I was happy with what I got done there, since I wrote several pages of Madeleine's new back-story in my journal. Obviously I need to be writing the actual book at some point v. soon, but this was a useful exercise.

I wandered back to my apartment while stopping off at two stores to look at Christmas cards (didn't find any, but one of the boutiques did end up selling me a dress) and at the grocery store for milk. I ventured out into the cold again in search of sustenance, returning with some delicious takeout sushi. Then, I spent the rest of the night curled up with my Kindle, which was a nice way to end the day.

I must start forcing myself to write even if I feel like it's too hard; this book isn't going to write itself, and I'm having trouble understanding why I can't get going with it when I'm actually v. excited by the premise and the characters. I know that I'm capable of finishing a book because I've done it once already, but for the life of me I can't remember how I did the last one. I need to figure it out, though; time is slipping away and I want nothing more than to have a finished book by the spring. Now is not the time to work on it, though - I'm going to bed, going to have brunch tomorrow, and then going to try to force myself to write if it kills me. Goodnight!

Saturday, December 05, 2009

if you like it then you should have put a ring on it

I'm about to fall asleep, a combination of too much fun and a later-than-usual bedtime. My workday was only so-so; I was productive throughout the day, but it was with fairly mindnumbing tasks that didn't exactly make me feel accomplished. I left around five, grabbed some coffee at Philz, and made the trek back to the evil city with the intention of coming home and reading a book. However, Vidya (aka Vidius Chandicus) called while I was driving back and asked if I wanted to meet up for drinks and dinner with her and her friend Kathy. I readily agreed, and after I got home and freshened up, I walked over to meet them at Martuni's. The clientele is almost uniformly older gay men, but it's one of Vidya's favorite bars. I had a Bailey's on the rocks in honor of the season (for some reason Bailey's makes me think winter), and we sat on bar stools pulled up to the piano where a musician was playing/singing such classics as Billy Joel's "Scenes from an Italian Restaurant" and some song by Earth, Wind and Fire.

We had a generally lovely time at Martuni's, but decided to go out in search of dinner. We ended up at a Middle Eastern place a few blocks away, which was a total scene but was fun enough that I forgave the annoying waitress, the more-annoying clientele, and the group of small-time opera singers having a birthday party near us. The place was pretty quiet when we showed up, and so we had dinner inside but made a reservation to have hookah on the patio after dinner. I had a chicken dish with couscous and a nice cucumber yogurt; we also split a bottle of Malbec, which was v. much enjoyed. We also discovered that Kathy and I have a scary amount of stuff in common (quilting, secret affection for sci-fi books, hermit-like tendencies, etc.)

We then adjourned to the patio, where we spent a couple of hours puffing on a mint-flavored hookah. It was lovely; the mint vapor was v. refreshing, and it was nice to lounge on a couch and hang out for awhile. The people watching was excellent, particularly when some dude whom I deemed 'the Angel' showed up - he had ringlets of shoulder-length blonde hair and was wearing a white cable-knit sweater and brown leather pants with some sort of weird side-slung fanny-pack like thing that looked like a knife pouch from days of yore. And of course, the company was good too, although I was quite disappointed that Vidya didn't attempt to befriend the Angel so that we could see the inside of what I am positive is an amazingly ridiculous apartment.

So, it was exactly the type of evening that I needed, even if I have a stomach ache from too much food + too much hookah + too much alcohol (actually I didn't have that much, but I probably should have refrained from the mango and cucumber cocktail -- I mostly ordered it so that the waitress would stop trying to describe it to me and annoying me with her awful voice). Now, though, I should sleep; I have hot plans to get a pedicure and write most of the day, so I should sleep. Goodnight!

Thursday, December 03, 2009

caught in a bad romance

This is a four-minute post. Today was v. good, and I need to figure out how to replicate it more often. I didn't get out of bed until eight, and strolled into work at ten; since I didn't break for lunch and stayed until 6:30, I felt not the slightest bit of guilt. Then, I was steadily productive all day, getting through all of the tasks on my to-do list, and so I when I left the office, I had absolutely nothing that needed to get done. I drove to Menlo Park and spent a quality hour at Cafe Borrone, eating my favorite turkey and gouda sandwich while brainstorming Madeleine's backstory. Since I've changed my mind about what her issues are, I'm going to have to rewrite significant portions of what I already have, and so I'm trying to get to know the "new" Madeleine before I jump in. This is the weekend when I start writing again, so spending some time with her tonight was good.

When I got home around nine, I didn't want to go to bed, and since I oddly had no work to do, I decided to read a book. I browsed through all the unread books on my Kindle (no wonder e-books are selling well -- it's so easy to order them and then let them pile up) and decided to read the Kresley Cole story in DEEP KISS OF WINTER. The book is a combo of two novellas by Kresley Cole and Gena Showalter; I usually don't read short romances (no jokes about my stature from the peanut gallery!), but the Kresley Cole story is part of her longer multibook story arc about some Valkyries, vampires, werewolves, and demons, and so I wanted to read it for the sake of continuity. I stayed up later than I intended and finished the whole story, although the premise (the heroine is part-Valkryie, part-ice queen, and so her skin is ice-cold and she can't touch anyone without getting burned) wasn't entirely sexy and certainly wasn't hot. But, I still enjoyed it, and I reveled in my evening of absolute freedom.

Now, though, the four minutes are well past up, and it's time for me to go to bed. Goodnight!

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

i want your love and i want your revenge

I didn't accomplish enough today, but in my defense I felt sick to my stomach most of the day; I had to be at work by 8am for a two-hour meeting during which I had to present a segment, and I was afraid I was going to throw up during my presentation. After that, I went to the doctor (luckily, I already had a checkup scheduled unrelated to my recent plague), and she confirmed that I don't have swine flu and instead just have a cold + the usual stomachaches I get when I'm stressed/tired/have been traveling. The cold is actually much better; my throat doesn't hurt anymore, so I just have the sniffles.

After that, I went back to my office and tried to work for a few hours, but was only partially successful. The only real things I accomplished were a nice twenty-minute conversation with Joy and a long end-of-day conversation with Gyre -- it's amazing that Gyre and I still sit on the same floor, but because we are located in areas that the other one never walks by, we never see each other. We happened to run into each other in the kitchen, so we hung out in my office for awhile and caught up, which was nice. I kind of feel like I don't have friends at work anymore, since most of my friends from the good old days have either switched departments, switched offices, or quit, but Gyre and I are still holding down the fort (after six years, crazy).

I was home by six p.m., and I did about an hour and a half of real work to compensate for the time I spent gossiping. Adit asked me to take him to the airport tonight, and I convinced him that we should go to the Korean hot pot place first, since I had been craving spicy soup. Unfortunately, it turned into a complete debacle; it only took ten minutes to get seated, but half an hour after we ordered, they still hadn't started cooking our food, and so we left without eating so that he wouldn't miss his flight. We made it to the airport in time, and then I came home and ate the reheated hot and sour soup that I would have eaten anyway, but it was much more disappointing and disgusting since I had come so tantalizingly close to having hot pot instead. Sigh.

Now, though, I should really really get some sleep; I need to be more productive tomorrow if I have any hope of getting out of there and writing (and even more importantly, writing this weekend). Goodnight!

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

do you expect me to talk? - no, mr. bond, i expect you to die

This is a four-minute post. I should have gone to bed ages ago, but even though I stayed home today to nurse my illness, I still ended up working for twelve hours (including a couple of breaks to eat and make chai, of course). Considering my sinus situation, I was amazingly productive; I'm finally unburied from all the email that came in over the past two weeks, and I'm as ready as I'm going to get for a presentation I have to make to my big boss's staff meeting tomorrow.

It's rather weird not having a team anymore; I can't remember if I've mentioned this here, but since I've moved into my new role, the only people I work with regularly are all big bosses, and while I really like them, it's not exactly like we're friends. So the fact that I worked from home today didn't matter at all; my boss was in an offsite anyway (but still managed to call me on her cell at 6pm tonight), and I had absolutely no meetings to attend. I may not have rested today, but at least I didn't have to commute, so I consider that a victory.

I don't really have anything else to report, other than that Twitter finally proved its worth because I won a free book from an author whom I'm following. And now, I should really go to bed; seven hours of sleep isn't enough for a recovering invalid, even if my invalidity has been somewhat exaggerated. I definitely have a cold, but it appears that that is all it is - no H1N1 for me! Four minutes are up - goodnight!

Monday, November 30, 2009

he said to only look up

I should have gone to bed ages ago, but I'm pretty congested and in no mood to lie in bed and swallow my own snot. I would refrain from discussing my illness (which so far appears to just be a nasty cold, knock on wood), but it's really the only thing going on right now. I did go into the office today because I had a meeting with the big boss that I didn't want to miss; but, I left shortly after three p.m., and came home and did v. little the rest of the evening. I decided to indulge my illness with some Chinese takeout, since you're supposed to feed a fever (although if it's a cold, I'm failing to starve it). I also watched the finale to "The Next Iron Chef" and was happy to see that Chef Garces beat out Chef Mehta at the end. Then, I watched an episode of Craig featuring Neil Patrick Harris, whom I adore; this led to some YouTubing of various great 'How I Met Your Mother' clips.

I also did some work that I absolutely had to get done; even if I stay home tomorrow, I will have to work most of the day to be ready for a meeting I have on Wednesday. I also inadvertently watched a video of my least favorite song (Guster's "All the Way up to Heaven") because I was excited to click on what appeared to be a wedding-related video sent to me and the boys by Chris (aka Boyd) -- bastard. But now that all the fun is over, I think I should probably get some sleep.

One final thing -- this is tremendously dorky, but I've started following Laura Ingalls Wilder on Twitter. She will only be funny to those of you who read the 'Little House' books as a child (television show viewers need not apply, since I thought the show was an abomination). Her twitter feed is here - http://twitter.com/HalfPintIngalls - and you don't need to be a twitter user in order to look at it. My favorite is that she created an Amazon wishlist for her Christmas; hysterical!

And on that note, goodnight!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

train this chaos, turn it into light

I was fabulously productive today, and it was all personal stuff -- work can wait until tomorrow. I feel the oncoming of a plague; when I woke up this morning with a sore throat, I hoped that it was merely the result of the dry airplane air...but in case it was an early symptom of something worse, I decided to get as much done as possible today so that I could hole up and nurse my ailment if necessary. It wasn't all work, though; I started off by going to Samovar (the one in the Castro, not my usual Yerba Buena one), where I had quiche and a masala chai while reading 'Roberts' Guide for Butlers and Other Household Staff', written by Robert Roberts (sadly unimaginative name)in 1827. It was almost too hot this morning; in direct sunlight outside the cafe, I had to take of my sweater, and in my sleeveless dress and leggings I was still overheating. I endured, however, hoping that copious sunshine would burn out my incipient virus.

I stopped by the grocery store on the way home and stocked up on the necessities, and then spent some time tidying up the apartment and swiffering where needed. I did a load of clothing, washed my sheets, flipped my mattress, remade my bed, and talked to my parents for half an hour (our Sunday phone call ritual must be maintained, even though I just saw them yesterday). Then, I started typing my notes from 'The Cambridge Companion to British Theatre 1730-1830', which pretty much consumed the rest of the night. I did take a break to make polenta; it was a recipe from the Italian vegetarian cookbook my parents gave me for my birthday, consisting of polenta and two types of cheese. It turned out pretty well, but as it happened I wasn't particularly hungry when it was ready, and so I have far too much left over.

I've discovered all sorts of fun facts about British theatre, and I'm loving my return to research; I just need to guard against the temptation to research for months, since I really need to start writing again. But now, I'm going to go to bed and hope that 8+ hours of sleep will stave off the plague. You had best hope that's the case too, since you know all too well that I get whiny when I'm sick, and whiny, octogenarian-style recounting of symptoms isn't fun for anyone. Goodnight!

i've been doing it since i was a young kid and i always come out grinning

I made it back to San Francisco, with only one mishap and a few minor annoyances. Most of the day was totally fine; I spent the late morning/early afternoon packing, talking to my mom, and eating 'lunch' (one last round of my favorite dip, plus a piece of pumpkin pie -- really not nutritious at all). We left for Des Moines a little after two pm, and when we got there, we had a very late lunch/very early dinner at Johnny's Italian Steakhouse on the south side. It's the restaurant that my parents have chosen to replace the now-dead Robin's Wood Oven and Grill, and it's pretty tasty; I made a mistake in my ordering, since I should have known better than to get the crab lasagna in the middle of the heartland (although in my defense, they 'upgraded' me to the dinner-style lasagna, which wasn't exactly what I wanted). But the calamari appetizer was delicious, and my mom's steak and garlic mashed potatoes were perfect.

We spent some quality time deciding what to do about each others' Christmas stockings, and we're abandoning tradition (in which we all pretend that Santa still exists, which means my mom has to fill all the stockings including hers, thus not having any stocking surprises on Christmas morning) to try a new method in which we all buy stuff for each others' stockings. We will see how it goes on Christmas, and whether it's a noble experiment or a recipe for disaster. Then, my family kicked me out on the curb so that they could go Christmas shopping (I encouraged them -- there was no sense in them waiting around the airport, although I was absurdly early considering that when I went up to security, there wasn't a single other passenger in line).

My flight to Denver landed early, and so I got on the standby list for an earlier SFO flight that would put me into San Francisco an hour earlier than planned. When they called my name, I asked the gate agent if I could pay to upgrade to economy plus (since I had seen some particularly nightmarish children in line and thought economy plus might be a buffer) -- and she said yes, but then said she was so busy that she would just let me have it. Score! So I got an exit row, which is obviously totally wasted on me, but I was pleased nonetheless. And, there was just enough room to stow both my carryons in the overhead bins. So, I thought I was rocking. I proceeded to read several more chapters of the 'Cambridge Companion to British Theatre 1730-1830' that I've been engrossed in, and I flagged about a hundred passages that I need to go back and take notes on.

The sad thing, though, is that since I didn't have a seat in front of me, there was no pocket in which to stow my journal and my pen. So I had my pen in my sweater pocket -- and when I needed it, I discovered that it had disappeared. It was my favorite pen, too; a beautiful icy-pink ballpoint that I got from Cross several seasons ago. I was somewhat heartsick, since the pen was a limited edition and long out of stock on Cross's website. So I crawled around during the flight, and couldn't see it. I tried to ask the people behind me if they could see it, but the most likely one to see it (the person sitting directly behind me) just gave me the sideeye. Admittedly, she was stuck in coach with a newborn while her husband and toddler sat in first, so she was probably not having a good night, but she didn't even feign interest in my plight. I waited for the rows behind me to disembark and searched thoroughly, but no luck. Either it rolled fifteen rows back during the flight (unlikely), or it dropped through the gap between my seat and the next into the woman's bag. I prefer to blame her, so that's what I shall do.

I made it home okay, despite the most full long-term parking shuttle I have ever seen, and some particularly frustrating incompetence by the parking lot staff (who had capitalized on the holiday by double parking a bunch of cars, including mine, and then taking their time unblocking me even though the bus driver radioed ahead to get my car unblocked). When I got home, I promptly went on ebay and found a new pen to replace the one I lost. I actually bought two; stupid, I know, but you don't know how much I adore this pen (and all pens, really), and so I want to have an extra one on hand just in case I didn't learn my lesson and someday fail to guard the pen with my life.

On that note of supreme dorkiness, I think I shall go to bed. I'm glad that I have tomorrow off; I need to do laundry and unpack and take care of a bunch of little things before going back to work on Monday. I hope that all y'all had a great Thanksgiving! December will pass by in a blur -- I'll be back in Iowa three weeks from today, so there is much to do before then. Goodnight!

Friday, November 27, 2009

can't do this to me baby

This is a four-minute post, if that. Today was for the most part completely uneventful; I dragged myself out of bed at a respectable hour, and then spent a couple of hours hanging around the kitchen with my parents (mostly my mother, since my father and brother spent the day working on my brother's house). I took a bath around 1pm, ate a turkey sandwich, and then my mom and I went into town to see my brother's house. Neither of them were there (sneaky), but I did drive around the outside, and progress has clearly been made. Then, I proceeded to waste the afternoon away trying to come up with a Christmas list -- I am becoming harder and harder to shop for, and the lack of space in my current apartment doesn't help matters.

We had Thanksgiving leftovers for dinner, and it was all close to as good as it was yesterday. Then, we engaged in some family bonding, playing two games of hearts; I won the first set, and Michael won the second, likely because our parents were virtually falling asleep over their cards. After we finished playing, I kept making my list, and I paid some bills and did other administrative things so that I won't have to do them on Sunday.

Now, I should go to bed -- my flight back to California is tomorrow night, so I don't want to sleep the whole day away. I should be on the ground on the west coast by this time tomorrow; it's gone way too fast! Luckily, I'll be back in three weeks, so I won't mourn too much. Goodnight!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

all i know is we're not getting paid tonight

I should have gone to bed hours ago; I tend to procrastinate and do nothing when I'm at home, and this break has been no exception. However, today was lovely; it was Thanksgiving, of course, which meant feasting. I was thrilled and honored that my mother trusted me enough to organize the relish tray, since such heavy responsibility implies that she approves of (or at least tolerates) my eye for organization, presentation and balance. I also mixed up the corn casserole before showering and getting dressed, but she did virtually everything else -- turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, green bean casserole, cranberry salad, plus the corn casserole, the rolls I made earlier in the week, my sister's deviled eggs, and some wrapped pickles that I despise but that my brother and nieces at all of, and the pumpkin pie finale. Verily, it was a feast, and we have enough leftovers that I have a strong prediction of what we will eat tomorrow.

All in all, there were eleven people at dinner (and dinner was at 1pm in good midwestern style) -- my parents, me, my brother, grandmother, sister, brother-in-law, two nieces, one nephew, and one grand-niece. Gram left shortly after lunch, but my sister and her family stayed until after five. Sammi seemed to sleep through most of the afternoon, but I spent some quality time tying tinsel into Allie's hair, and Michael and I took turns playing with Jaicee. It was all v. nice, but it was also good to return to silence when everyone left; this allowed us to watch 'Survivor', 'CSI', and 'The Mentalist' in peace. I also spent some quality time with my laptop, continuing the quest to find a good database solution. But, I shall not bore you with the details -- instead, I should go to bed.

I hope that you all had lovely Thanksgivings and were able to spend it with someone special. Thanks for reading, and here's looking forward to another year of inane posts and senseless ramblings :) Goodnight!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

let me joke (we do not like your jokes)

First, I almost never post YouTube videos, but since I'm on vacation and have some time on my hands, I actually watched one today! It's a keeper if you like the Muppets and/or Bohemian Rhapsody:



Second, today was great, albeit lazy; I decided to stay in bed rather than being a good little corporate martyr, and so I skipped the conference call that I might have dialed into in favor of another hour of sleep. Then, I putzed around upstairs, talked to my mom, and made another batch of rolls. During the two-hour dough rising time, I took a bubble bath (I put bubble baths on my to-do list for the week, so they're legit) and checked in on Twitter and other areas of the interweb. Then, I spent some long, tiring quality time shaping the rolls with my bare hands. My grandmother showed up at some point and refused to comment on whether my rolls looked okay; but, they still taste delicious, so whatever.

My mother made yet another excellent supper (tenderloins and homemade mac and cheese), and my brother and father told amusing stories of some town where the mayor, restaurant owner, and woman who lives in the old schoolhouse are all siblings. Say what you will, but small towns are v. v. interesting. After supper, I continued pretending to read while watching a devastating episode of 'Criminal Minds' and some 'CSI:New York'. Actually, I made it through the first four chapters of 'Cambridge Companion to British Theatre: 1730-1830'. So far, so good, even if my father asked me what I was reading and then said 'where do you get this shit?' I'm quite pleased with it so far, and now I just want to dive headfirst into historical research, when what I really need to do is skim the surface so that I have time to keep writing.

Along the lines of research, though, I spent some quality time tonight attempting to decide which database software to get for my Mac. I could have used OneNote, but it's a) not a database and b) not available for a Mac. I need something that will enable me to easily keep track of a wide variety of factoids, timelines, etc. One option might be to do a combo - download this timeline-creating software that I found to create a pretty visual timeline of every historical period that I'm interested in, and then download a OneNote knockoff to store freeform notes. A database has the advantage of being queryable, making it easy to run reports on different categories, dates, sources, etc.; but something like OneNote feels more organic, which may fit better into the writing process.

And on that dorky note, I shall take my technical conundrum and go to bed. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

unaware that i'm tearing you asunder

I slept in too late today, but other than that, things were totally lovely (and likely utterly uninteresting for my readers). The bulk of my productivity was devoted to attempting to recreate my grandmother's dinner rolls; this involved mixing up the dough, letting it rise for two hours, and then forming the rolls. Sounds easy, right? And it was easy -- but it was time-consuming, since the rolls are shaped like three-leaf clovers, which means that each roll requires you to make three small balls of dough and put them together into a muffin tin. Also, we quite disconcertingly discovered weevils in the brand-new flour; luckily, my father spotted them before I added any to the mix, so we were saved, but it was still quite odd. But, the verdict was that the rolls were delicious -- they didn't look quite like my grandmother's for reasons that I can't determine, but I'm going to make another batch tomorrow, so we'll see if I can improve the rolls' aesthetics without diminishing their taste.

At some point this afternoon, I took another bubble bath; I didn't fall asleep in this one, which is a sign that I might be more relaxed and well-rested than I was yesterday. I also got a delightful call from Katie; even though I know that she has my cellphone number programmed into her phone, she loves to call me on my home phone number (which she knows from back in the day when we all only had landlines and we used to call each other to dissect the latest episode of "Walker, Texas Ranger" even though we had just seen each other at school and work). My mom made an amazing supper; she made roast beef and mashed potatoes and gravy, and I followed my brother's lead for once and put the meat, potatoes and gravy on top of a slice of Wonder bread. It was the first hot beef sandwich that I've had in years, and it was better than any other hot beef sandwich I've ever had. After that deliciousness, I watched "NCIS", "NCIS: Los Angeles", and "The Good Wife". I like "NCIS", although I don't regularly watch much tv, but the new LA version was also quite good (and was featured in a story by one of our local news reporters tonight, which is why the show's writers used Des Moines as the location of a previous killing). I was also v. intrigued by "The Good Wife" -- I like Chris Noth (even though my father took issue with that statement and said that he looks 'scummy'), and tonight's episode was great.

Now, though, even though it's before midnight in Iowa, I'm going to go to bed; I would like to read some of my book about British theatre tomorrow, and I'm going to make another batch of rolls, so sleep is a good idea. Goodnight!

Monday, November 23, 2009

if i only could be running up that hill

Today was almost entirely relaxing. I did about an hour of work, since I had to deliver a performance review that had slipped through the cracks over the past couple of weeks, but I was done by noon, and I spent the rest of the day doing v. little. My sister came over and brought my great-niece (grand-niece? either way, I'm too young to have one) -- luckily, Jaci is one happy baby and, at six months, starting to display personality and army-crawling with her super-chubby little arms and legs, so I had fun playing with her for an hour or so. After they left, I ate a bologna sandwich and had my favorite french onion sour cream dip; that meal is probably one of the worst choices one could make, but it brings back happy memories of my childhood. I finally decided to clean myself up, and so I took a long, relaxing bubble bath and almost fell asleep in the tub. I spent a couple of hours reading 'The Canterbury Tales', and then had a totally delicious supper; my parents made bratwurst, steak, gold potatoes that had been boiled and then fried, and corn. It's a far cry from the hummus and tomatoes I probably would have resorted to on my own, and it was exactly what I wanted. I spent the rest of the evening watching tv with my parents, although the last four hours don't count since they were asleep and I was playing with my laptop.

My to-do list for the rest of the week looks similarly laid-back; I want to read some books, think about my two-year plan, bond with my family, and take more bubble baths. And that's about it, which is just what the doctor ordered. The funny thing is that it's like a prelude to my Christmas vacation; even though I leave on Saturday for California, I will be back in three weeks, and I'm spending almost two full weeks here for Christmas. Yay - I was desperately in need of a vacation, and this is exactly what I wanted. Now, though, I should go to sleep; it's 1:30 in Iowa even if it's not all that late in California, and I should get out of bed before noon tomorrow. Goodnight!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

the universe is shaped exactly like the earth

I'm falling asleep over my keyboard, so it's probably a sign that I should go to bed. Luckily I don't have to commute this week, other than to walk upstairs for more tea or to play board games, and so I'm quite a happy camper.

Today was good, albeit exhausting; I successfully woke up at 4:15, showered, finished packing, went to the airport, and made it on my seven a.m. flight to Denver. I had a two-hour layover in Denver, which I filled with nachos and two margaritas -- I was in a v. happy place after the second margarita, but I slept it off on the flight to Des Moines. Upon arrival in Des Moines, there was much rejoicing by my parents and somewhat more subdued rejoicing from my brother. I heart siblings.

We went to Aunt Becky's after the airport for an early dinner, and it was quite surreal to see the scandalous fiance (now Uncle Brian) sitting around like he owned the place (which, apparently, he now might). Uncle Mark, Aunt Kathy and Andrew (aka Drewbaby) all came over as well, so Thanksgiving basically came a bit early this year. We had a delicious midwestern dinner (bbq beef sandwiches, homemade potato salad, and chocolate cake with 'lick-um', which is some weird cake topper that only our family talks about). Then, we spent some quality time tying tinsel into each other's hair; I know it costs an exorbitant $5 a strand at Stanford, but after my brother pointed out my approximate hourly wage, me doing some torturous contortions to be able to tie one painstaking tinsel after another is probably a financial loss. So Aunt B put some blue ones in, which look good, but I think I'll get some more stuff in time for the holidays. Now, though, I'm super tired, so it's time for bed!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

you don't wanna hurt me, but see how deep the bullet lies

This has to be quick, since I need to get up in about four and a half hours in order to make it to the airport for my flight back to ye olde Iowa. Today was generally excellent; I slept in, spent some quality time drinking tea with Adit in our pajamas, and then took care of stuff around the apartment. I cleaned out the fridge (ick), packed (eighteen hours early - new record!), showered (v. necessary), and then met up with Adit and Vidya at Coffee Bar. Adit had been there for a couple of hours already, and he abruptly left shortly after I got there, and so Vidya and I had a couple of hours of quality time. I had intended to work, but I didn't even pull out my laptop; instead, I finished the delicious sandwich that I had ordered at Coffee Bar, and then we walked over to Atlas Cafe because Vidya was craving the yam sandwich (and saying its name in a superhero-announcement voice, like the voice that announces the 'Priceline Negotiator' - bizarre). So, our time together was quite lovely, particularly since I won't see her for a whole week.

I parted ways with Vidya and drove to San Mateo to meet up with Terry, Natasha, and several other coworkers for wine + "New Moon". I was *thisclose* to bailing on the movie; while I wanted to see Terry and so was excited about the wine bar before the movie, I really hated the book, despise Bella, and generally was not looking forward to the movie. However, I decided to go anyway, particularly since Terry was expecting my bad behavior and seemed willing to allow me to make fun of the movie to my heart's content. And the movie offered me plenty of opportunity; we arrived an hour early, meeting Natasha (who got there twenty minutes before us), and we still had to split into two separate groups and sit in two different rows (albeit one was right in front of the other, so at least we could still talk for the half hour between the door opening and the start of the trailers). The kids were out in full force, and they squealed a *lot* over the shirtless seventeen-year-old Taylor Lautner (the werewolf); worse, some of their moms were squealing too. I, on the other hand, guffawed when he took off his shirt for the first time, and my behavior steadily worsened. I still hate Bella, but at least I was entertained. Luckily, the strangers to my right thought it was just as ridiculous as I did -- if I had been sitting next to a super-serious twelve year old, the girl probably would have killed me when I applauded one character's critique of Bella's appalling stupidity.

Now, though, I desperately need sleep -- morning (or something like it) will come all too soon. By this time tomorrow, I will be in Iowa!