Wednesday, September 30, 2009

i've got my sights set on you

I have nothing to say. I went to work today looking like a fool; it was 80s day for this project I was running, and I went all-out -- ultra-teased hair, teal and magenta eyeshadow, sweatshirt hanging off the shoulder, denim miniskirt, hot pink tights, sparkly blue socks, bangles, etc. Luckily, I live in San Francisco, and so people barely glanced at me on the streets even if I looked like a complete idiot; in fact, I felt so secure in my 'look' that I went to Safeway and bought groceries on the way home while still wearing my rocking outfit.

I was able to go to Safeway, and make my delicious potato and leek soup, because I worked out of SF today to run the project going on in that office. So, I was home around six, made soup, and did more work while having family time with Adit and Priyanka. Now, I need to go to bed, where my teased-out hair will serve as my pillow -- goodnight!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

wedding bells ain't gonna chime with both of us guilty of crime

My back really hurts. I blame a combination of factors: 1) my commute, in which I contort myself and carry too much stress in my back; 2) Adit's couches, which are substantially less comfortable than mine; 3) my anger over Adit's couches, which makes me even more stressed and tense; 4) the fact that if I'm turning into a hermit, I also need to develop the pained, hunched back on which to carry my bundle of sticks around while looking for firewood to heat my meagre cave.

Or maybe it's just annoyance, pure and simple. The last two weeks have felt like the longest two weeks in a long time; there has been a swirling maelstrom of change around me, and it's hard to live in a state of complete and constant flux while also being held to deadlines that were set in the non-flux world. I'm hoping, though, that I can clear a space in all the confusion and write all weekend, which will go a long ways toward restoring my faith. Also, while I'm sad to be giving up my team, I did take some pleasure in removing all future team-related meetings from my calendar, which cleared the overgrown thicket of meetings on my calendar and opened up substantial amounts of white space. It will get filled soon enough, but for a couple of weeks, at least, I'm hoping for just the slightest breather.

Today was uneventful, but I wanted to attend virtually none of the meetings that were scheduled, and so it was hard to push myself through the day. However, I did have a quick lunch with Joy, which was entertaining; the big boss joined us briefly, which was unexpected. Amusingly, when she saw us together she asked if we were plotting a coup -- and the answer was probably yes, although we of course feigned innocence. Then, just as the big boss left, Irish Matt showed up, and so I spent twenty minutes with him; he's in town for the week, although it sounds like we won't get a chance to spend an evening together, which is good for my fragile and still-recovering post-wedding liver. We're going to have coffee Thursday afternoon, though, so at least I'll get to catch up with him a bit more then.

After work, I went to Target, where I spent way too much time shopping; I have to dress like an 80s rocker tomorrow, and I had no idea what to buy. I ended up with a super oversized sweatshirt that I cut the neck out of, a short denim skirt to wear over some lurid pink tights, some scrunchy socks, and a gaudy headband that will look good with the ultra-teased hairstyle that I intend to create. So, tomorrow is the chance to pull out my teal eyeshadow and my blue mascara -- but I'm working out of SF, which means taking the MUNI to work, which means walking around in public with that getup. I can't wait -- Tammy would be so ashamed to be seen with me.

I got home around 8:30 and have worked since then, but now it's time to go to bed so that I can get up and blowdry the hell out of my hair. Goodnight!

Monday, September 28, 2009

so why don't you slide

This is a four-minute post. John sent me a link today about Danielle Steele's assistant, who was just convicted of embezzling ~$400,000 from her. This is a good cautionary tale, although currently I am the only person who is taking gross advantage of my finances by buying shoes, so I'm not too worried yet.

Work was fine; I hid out for a couple of hours over lunch and got some stuff done, and then left around 5:30. I went to Cafe Borrone, where I spent a couple of hours with my notebook, a sandwich, and a latte. I did a lot of brainstorming over where I want my next book to go, and I feel pretty good about it; the end is a mess and I have a feeling I won't know how it's going to end until I get there, but I'm in a good place with the next third of it. Then, I came home, thought about working, and instead procrastinated while watching part of this PBS/Ken Burns documentary on the National Park System. The segment right now is about how San Francisco took Hetch Hetchy in Yosemite National Park and built a dam to supply water to the city -- fairly ironic, since it now supplies most of San Francisco's water supply and yet there are environmentalists in the city who want to remove the dam and restore Hetch Hetchy. The documentary is good, though; John Muir is an interesting dude with a fabulous beard that photographed well in all the black-and-white photos, which makes me happy.

That's all for now; I need to go to work early tomorrow, and I want to write tomorrow night, so sleep is a necessity. Goodnight!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

all the things she said running through my head

Today was a perfectly lovely day. I was at approximately 95%; despite the copious amounts of champagne and rum that I downed last night (in addition to a shot of whisky for the troops), I was feeling quite chipper this morning. Heather and I woke up around 9am, got ready, and had a delicious hotel brunch buffet with the remnants of the wedding guests. We also got to say goodbye to Pete and Bridget, who looked none the worse for their night of debauchery. Then, we took a nap for an hour, checked out of the hotel, returned the rental car, hung out at the airport, and had an uneventful flight back to San Francisco.

I spent some quality time today on the phone with my parents, and also some quality time with a romance novel. I then had an evening of extreme family time -- Adit's fiancee Priyanka is visiting for the month, and she got to witness first-hand the lovely ritual that is Sunday night family time. We bickered and sniped at each other while watching "60 Minutes", "Mad Men", part of the new Ken Burns documentary on the national park system, and "Entourage". I also continued reading the romance novel that I started on the plane -- Tessa Dare's "Goddess of the Hunt", which my agent recommended that I read because the chick got a six-figure contract based on that debut book. So far so good; I intend to finish it soon (perhaps tonight), so that Priyanka and I can dissect it together while Adit listens on in complete disgust and dismay.

So that was my weekend -- all in all, quite lovely, although I'm sure I'll pay for it with far too much drama at work this week. Goodnight!

you shook me all night long

As might be expected at the end of a wedding in which the bride and groom were Irish Catholic and Italian Catholic respectively, I'm quite drunk. Not to the point that I'm in danger of getting impregnated or anything else, but still - I am perhaps not the best rolemodel for this nation's youth at this point in my life. I started off at 4pm with a gin and tonic (ill-advised), then had innumerable champagne cocktails (the signature drink at the wedding was something called Coming Up Roses - a mix of Bacardi Raspberry, lime juice, champagne, and an organic rose petal with a wedge of lime). But clearly everyone else's judgment reached a nadir as well; when I tripped on my own flipflops and wiped out on the steps leading to the dance floor, a nice man in plaid pants decided that the answer to my clumsiness was to get me another cocktail. Clever!

sssssanyway, I had a totally fabulous time at this wedding, even if Catholic weddings last longer than some Protestant marriage/divorce combos. The wedding was in the basilica at the Mission San Juan Capistrano -- I didn't know that cathedrals in North America were covered in so much gold, but the setting was incredible. The reception was in an equally-incredible venue -- a very old mission-style house that has been renovated lovingly, and that I ached to live in someday. It was all perfect, and Pete and Bridget are an amazing and beautiful couple, so it was all v. fitting.

The night ended v. surreally; of course, any reception that starts at 4:30 and has an open bar and no real dinner (passed hors d'oevres, which were incredible - quail egg, lambchops, truffle/fava bean crostini, meatballs, prosciutto-wrapped dates, etc.) is bound to be a disaster, particularly if the open bar lasts until eleven. Our shuttle actually stopped at Del Taco, where it apparently broke down, and so we walked three blocks down the highway back to the hotel, where Heather and I ate our burritos and decided to go to bed.

Allow me to say two tings (not that you have a choice): 1) if you are somewhat random peripheral guests, there is no greater pleasure than recognizing and hanging out with another peripheral guest. Raj, who works on the same floor as me, showed up at the wedding, and while I barely know him, I have never been happier to see him in my entire life. 2) the dude in the plaid pants, who got me a cocktail after I fell on the cobblestones, is apparently a high-enough exec at A&E -- and he spent an inordinate amount of time grilling me about my love life, and expressing shock and appallment at the fact that I'm not getting laid every weekend. Apologies if that fact shocks you, dear reader -- it shocked me too, but I of course appreciate the implied praise beneath the awkward sentiment.

Now, though, it's time for bed -- apparently I wasn't drunk enough to deliver the typo-laden stream-of-consciousness blog that you all love, but my head will hopefully thank me for it tomorrow. Goodnight!

Friday, September 25, 2009

goodnight LA

I had a totally fabulous day! I did a lot of nothing for a couple of hours, followed by one meeting, followed by lunch with Jason. Then, Heather and I left at 1:30 for the airport and a flight to SoCal. Everything so far has worked out beautifully - the hotel is on the beach, traffic getting here was easy, and Pete left a gorgeous bag of treats for the guests at checkin.

We decided to have a supernice dinner, so we went to this place overlooking the harbor, where I had oysters, filet mignon, a great mojito, and half an apple cherry crisp. We had a lovely conversation and got super full, and now we are going to bed so we aren't wrecked tomorrow. Goodnight!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

tell the truth...you never wanted me

This is a four-minute post, if I can last that long. Today was a good day at work, but I really wasn't nearly as productive as I should have been; I miraculously only had an hour and a half of scheduled meetings, but I managed to squander most of the free time by taking care of small tasks rather than using the time to focus on big ones. I was also avoiding giving some news that I wasn't looking forward to giving, which made me feel rather ill in classic avoidance-stress fashion. But, I successfully gave it, and I had an otherwise nice afternoon and evening.

I left the office around 7:45; that was much later than I would usually want to leave, but I was keeping an eye on the 511 traffic website, and traffic was abysmal later into the evening than it should be. So, I left at 7:45, procrastinated a bit longer by getting coffee at Philz and filling up my gas tank, and finally left the south bay. I made it home by 9pm, spent an hour packing, did dishes, and now am getting ready for bed.

We'll see how much I blog this weekend - I'm leaving tomorrow afternoon for San Juan Capistrano, where my friend and former direct report Pete is getting married. The wedding is in the mission at San Juan Capistrano, and the reception is in some gorgeous villa nearby; from what I've heard from Pete, this is going to be off the hook. And, since it's an Irish Catholic and an Italian Catholic marrying each other, I'm expecting to get very drunk while still being on the relatively sober end of the attendee spectrum. So, it should be fun - and if you're lucky, you'll get a drunk blog post out of me, which I'm sure you're looking forward to.

Four minutes are up - it's time for bed! (oh, and by the way, the news I had to deliver was actually v. good for me - I'm taking on a new role, which I shall explain later) Goodnight!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

london calling

I really want to go back to London, or venture further afield and take on Paris. I'm feeling a little antsy about the fact that I haven't been abroad since England/Scotland in May 2008 -- a year and a half is much too long. Unfortunately for my wanderlust, I got invited to some beta test of a site that is selling discounted rooms in ultra-luxe hotels, which means I'm going to be drooling over them all the time. I have a feeling that planning a vacation is in my future...

Today was a totally fine day. My morning was uneventful (and nice -- I got up late and went to work at the tail end of rush hour, which gave me more energy for the day even if I didn't get as much done). Then I had lunch, had some meetings, had some good conversations with Vickie and Marci, and generally just tried to stay caught up in a world that is determined to pull me down. I topped it all off with dinner with Dave at the Italian restaurant in Mountain View that we usually go to; it was nice to see him, even though it's not that infrequent since he's usually out here at least twice a quarter, but having him in person is still better than having him so remote.

When I got home, I did some work while watching an episode of Craig. I had intended to write tonight, but I'm just too tired -- we'll see what tomorrow holds.

Finally, happy birthday Walter!! Also, happy anniversary to Katie and James -- this is quite the red-letter day. Congrats!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

stuck in the middle with you

Today got off to a mostly inauspicious start. I had a 7:30am conference call, but because Adit had requested a ride to ye olde south bay this morning, I decided to take the call from home and then leave for work after, rather than making us both get up in time to leave by 6:15am so that I could drop him off before hustling to the office. This was a good decision at the time, but unfortunately traffic later in the morning was terrible, and so we didn't feel particularly efficient. Also, Adit, in his infinite wisdom, decided to make a point to me about how bad my musical tastes are, and so rather than playing one of the playlists on my iPod, he instead went through the library at random, only playing the first few bars of most songs before snorting over how bad they were and skipping them. It was more than a tad embarrassing; even though I really like my music, most of the iPod is filled with stuff I never listen to, and so there are a lot of songs that I agree aren't particularly good even if technically my ownership of them indicates support. Or maybe I'm just appeasing Adit and trying to pretend that I'm cool enough to hang out with him, which is likely never going to be the case, but I can try anyway.

After I dropped Adit off, I went to work, where I slogged fairly well through the end of the day. Tuesdays are my favorite, not because of what I do on Tuesdays (they're actually one of my least favorite in terms of quality/quantity of meetings), but because it's baked potato day at my favorite cafe. Even better, today they had kobe steak, which was totally delish, and so I had a nice fifteen minute lunch to myself in order to savor the taste of the midwest. Then, I slogged through the rest of the day before leaving at 5pm with my fellow California managers + Dave (in from Ann Arbor this week) for our traditional margaritas and pie event. It was fun, but it left me exhausted; I did a bit of brainstorming on my writing on the way home, but by the time I got here, put out a work-related metaphorical fire, and sat down to write, I was only able to get the notes from my brainstorm down before I began nodding off over my keyboard, so I think it's time for bed.

Still, though, I'm clearly in a much better place than I was yesterday; while it would still be wise to confiscate any sharp objects in my general vicinity, I wasn't so violently angry today, and sot hat's a positive step. Wish me luck keeping my temper under control -- hopefully sleep will help!

Monday, September 21, 2009

i saw the ending when i turned the page

This is a four-minute post. I find myself with surprisingly little to say tonight. Perhaps the extreme fire of my rage at work burned through my synapses, leaving me an empty, wordless shell. Not that anything particularly bad happened today -- it was just one of those final straw situations in which something that had been fucked up so many times was finally fucked up again in a way that just insulted every fiber of my being, and I had trouble controlling my reaction (to the point that Tracy came by my office and found me playing with two pairs of scissors like Sara Scissorhands). Other than that, though, I actually had a pretty good day. I left around seven, grabbed a danged quesadilla on main campus, came home, watched TV with Adit, and took some notes on some book brainstorming that I did in the car. Now, we're watching "Mad Men"; as soon as it's over, I must go to bed. Goodnight!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

those who find they're touched by madness, sit down next to me

Today was an excellent day, but I stayed up later than I intended to, and so I should really get to bed. I was insanely productive for a Sunday, particularly given how very unproductive I was a week ago. I ran errands, took some things back to the mall (including those ridiculous 4" green suede mules...although I unfortunately returned them to the same woman who sold them to me, and she successfully upsold me on a gorgeous pair of shiny red pumps), got another bulletin board for my room, came home, put my room into the order that I want it to be in, switched out the summer dresses in my closet for the winter clothes that have been stored in plastic tubs, did three loads of laundry, changed my sheets, and cleaned the kitchen. I also paid some bills, read some emails, and topped it all off with a quick and delicious dinner -- I made little pseudo-pizzas with English muffins, a sliced tomato, some pizza sauce, Italian herbs, and garlic salt, and a whole lot of fresh mozzarella. They were totally fantastic; my next experiment will involve cutting down the diameter of the ingredients slightly so that the cheese doesn't start melting off the edge and onto the drip pan before the cheese has gotten a chance to brown; they were delicious exactly as they were, but I would like them to get a little crisper before I have to remove them to avoid setting the place on fire.

I also talked to my parents; if I didn't know better, I would have thought that they were dreading having the conversation about my lack of a trust fund that I alluded to in my previous blog entry, but the truth was that they were just far too busy for me this weekend. I should have gone home this weekend; they were hosting a half-size replica of the Vietnam Wall at the Round Barn, and it was apparently tremendously moving (as well as a ton of work; over 4000 people showed up over the course of four days, which is approximately half the size of our county, so you can imagine that this was a big event). So, they were working like crazy all weekend, but given the number of vets they said they had (many of whom showed up alone, at night) and a whole lot of schoolkids from the various neighboring schools, it sounds like it was ultimately very well worth it.

Now, though, it's time to throw in the towel -- work unfortunately awaits. Goodnight!

i'll follow you into the dark

I pursued my weekend mission today, embarking on effort to replenish my well of creativity on what ended up being a gorgeous, sunny September Saturday. I woke up around seven, promptly went back to sleep, and ultimately didn't get out of bed until 9:30. I didn't laze around after that, however; instead, I showered, dressed myself in my ridiculous 'palazzo pants' (with legs so wide that, when I'm standing still, the pants look like a skirt), a grey top, and a grey sweater (yes, unusually boring for my clothing tastes, but the laundry situation is critical), and walked over to Samovar in Hayes Valley. There are three Samovars in the city of sin -- one in Yerba Buena Gardens (the one I frequent, near Union Square); one in the Castro at 18th and Sanchez; and the newest one in Hayes Valley (what they're calling 'Zen Valley', since they try to be vaguely Buddhist). I'm about equidistant between the Castro and Hayes Valley Samovars, so I decided to give the new one a try.

It's really not any different -- they play the same vaguely mystical Eastern music, they use the same strange, handmade cups that have indentations for your fingers instead of handles, and their menus are identical. I think I prefer the interior of the Hayes Valley one to the Castro one, although neither can beat Yerba Buena's floor-to-ceiling windows and gorgeous views. However, I made the mistake of allowing my nostalgia for Tammy influence my ordering; instead of my usual quiche-and-scone, I ordered the jook, which is a bowl of rice porridge with salmon, seaweed, scallions, peanuts, celery, lemongrass, and soy sauce/sriracha. Unfortunately, the bowl was huge, so I was sick of jook long before it was gone; while it was more comforting than, say, dirt, it wasn't quite as delicious as what I had in mind. And then, to top it off, I was the only person in the restaurant at one point -- and when I asked the waitress if she could bring me a chai, she still managed to forget. Forgetting to serve your only customer is a rather serious lapse, in my opinion.

However, it was nice nonetheless; I read most of this book called "Bird by Bird" by Anne Lamott. It's the book on creative writing that I started reading at Cafe Borrone on Wednesday, and I finished it this afternoon. She is very adamant about getting words on paper, and trying to be as truthful and true to the characters as you can be, and offers a variety of other words of wisdom about pursuing the writing life. The book was quite good and I'm feeling inspired -- unfortunately, reading books on writing by "serious" writers always makes me feel like the worst sort of hack for writing romance, like I'm the scum on the underbelly of the publishing world that is enabling more trash to flood the marketplace at the expense of "real" literature, and like I am wasting my talent by writing formulaic drivel. I will get over this in the next couple of days, of course -- I'm not writing drivel, I do try to stay true to my characters, and while I may be scum on the underbelly of the publishing world, I would rather be scum with the ability to eat than a cloud floating above it all living off of dreams and a family trust fund. Not that I have a trust fund to live off of; this unfairness is something I must bring up in my weekly call with my parents...

After Samovar, I found heaven -- in the form of Flax, a stationery/art supply store just a few blocks away on Market Street. "Store" is so inadequate -- it's more like a temple to paper. Samovar couldn't give me a spiritual experience despite their attempts through the generic Eastern soundtrack, but Flax was incredible enough that I would have happily taken off my shoes, walked barefoot across the hot pavement, and genuflected to the gods of paper. The inside is cavernous, with so many aisles that it feels easy to get lost; but it still retains the feel of an independent retailer. I browsed for an inordinate amount of time, and ended up walking out with four large sheets of decorative paper and five sheets each of five different colors of cardstock. I brought this home and started on a new project; I had bought two big corkboard-type things from CB2 on my birthday, and I hung them over my desk so that I can start displaying inspirations on my wall (anything from photos to quotes to magazine articles to cards). The four sheets of decorative paper were to cover a few small 12x12 pieces of corkboard to use as auxiliaries (although on second thought, I may just buy a third corkboard from CB2, since it would fit perfectly in the remaining space). The cardstock is for writing notes and putting on the bulletin board; I think white index cards are too boring, and other index cards are either pastels or neons, so I thought I would buy a few colors I actually like and use the paper cutter at work to make my own notecards. We'll see how this all goes, but for now I'm happy.

FInally, I picked up some takeout sushi at Sushi Time (delicious!), came home, wrote in my journal for a bit, and then picked up "Sunshine" by Robin McKinley -- as longtime readers know, it's one of my favorite books of all time, and the fact that it has vampires (none of McKinley's other books do, fyi) is just an added bonus. Her writing may again make me feel like the biggest waste of space, but I do enjoy it so much. But, I read too late (as usually happens if I start reading), and so I really desperately need to get some sleep so that I can continue the recovery/replenishment tomorrow. Goodnight!

Friday, September 18, 2009

i don't wanna come back down from this cloud

I had a great day today; I think I'm clawing my way out of my local minima, and I'm looking forward to getting a lot done this weekend. I had some meetings, had some downtime, had a nice lunch with Maeve (whose last day before maternity leave was today), spent some quality time with Gyre, Joy, and my team, and sold my second laptop (the one that I accidentally ordered at the same time that I ordered my new Apple; I sold it for less than I paid for it, but more than the shipping + 15% restocking fee that I would have paid if I returned it). So, all in all, it was a good work day; I have a bit of stuff that I should do this weekend, but nothing super complicated, so I'm happy about that.

After work, Joy and I went to the bar down the street from our office, where several people were having drinks with Thomas, the director who departed last week and threw me into a funk since he's been around forever and actually managed the temp program when I joined way back in the day. Roy, who was the head of the India office when Thomas and I were both there, organized the event, so I got to catch up with a couple of former expats and say a more proper goodbye to Thomas over cheap happy-hour chardonnay. I finally left at little before eight p.m. to make my way back to the evil city, where I've contemplated my list of tasks for the weekend and debated how to go about refilling my well of creativity or whatever.

Now though, even though it's super early, I'm going to go to bed; I want to get up in the morning and be productive, so staying up all night isn't in the cards. Goodnight!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

you better run, you better take cover

I spent too much time avoiding work tonight, with the consequence that I just worked from ~9:30 to ~11:45. I was writing peer feedback; you would think that writing would come naturally to me, and it does, but it's hard to write feedback that is useful and clear without making people want to stab themselves in the face for being such abject failures. Luckily I have a reputation for brutal honesty, so hopefully that will make my reviewees/victims feel like they're not alone as recipients of my incisive observations.

Anyway, today wasn't half bad; my meetings were fine, I was able to run a couple of errands after work, and I made it home by seven. I talked to Katie on the way home, which was v. nice; we're trying to nail down a date for me to visit her, which I'm really looking forward to. I also saw Adit, my elusive roommate, for the first time since Monday night; he had spent the last couple of nights down in the south bay, which means I had the apartment to myself. I have it to myself again now, since he left me to wallow in work while he went out on the town; he's also out of town this weekend, so by the time he gets back I will be desperate for some family time. I intend to make good use of my weekend, however, and will hopefully do some v. therapeutic, v. educational reading during my downtime.

Now, though, I should go to bed; I have to make it down to the south bay at some point tomorrow morning, and it will be easier if I get some sleep. Goodnight!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

on a hippie trail head full of zombie

I'm not quite sure what's wrong with me, but I just don't feel quite right; I feel vaguely nauseated, dizzy and lightheaded, and I have a stomachache. Just for fun I put my symptoms into WebMD; apparently I have labyrinthitis, pancreatitis, an inner ear infection, anemia, generalized anxiety disorder, or a heart attack. I'm going to guess that I'm actually just tired and chalk it up to that. I love WebMD's list of symptoms; for the head, it includes "headache (worst ever)", "craving to eat ice, paper or dirt", "inappropriate behavior", and "sense of impending doom". How helpful!

Anyway, despite that I had a decent day; I made it into the SF office by 7:30, where I stayed for an hour and a half for a meeting before driving down to Mountain View. I stepped out of the meeting to have a conversation with my agent, which was good; I'm going to spend the next few weeks reading, researching, and coming up with a clear plan of attack for my next book to share with her to make sure I'm on the right track. My 90 mins at the SF office cost me $17; the garage there charges $3 every 15 minutes, capping at $17 if you're there before 9am and at $25 if you're there after 9am. But, at $0.50/minute, the extra half hour of sleep was totally worth it.

When I got to Mountain View, I got lots of stuff done and prepped well for a meeting that I had with the big boss this afternoon. I also, quite fortuitously, got to meet Phil of Philz Coffee -- he was randomly set up in one of the microkitchens at work, making coffee for whoever happened to stop by. They really need to put a Philz in my building -- I would never have trouble staying awake again. When my meetings were finally over for the day, I went to Cafe Borrone in Menlo Park, where I had my favorite gouda and turkey sandwich while contemplating my book. I also supported a local bookseller by buying a couple of books and notebooks at Kepler's. I started reading one of them when I got home -- "Bird by Bird" by Anne Lamott, which is her take on creative writing. It's quite good, but I started to fall asleep (one of the symptoms of my illnesses above), and so I'm going to go to bed. Goodnight!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

dying in a den in bombay

I really am not getting enough sleep; I tend to be tired on the drive home, which, combined with the angle of the sun these days around 7pm, is not good for my desire to keep my eyes open. Tomorrow doesn't look much better - I need to be in the office by 7:30, although I think I'll go to the SF office first and then drive down afterwards. Then, I have meetings until 5:30pm, when I will hopefully be able to get out of there and spend some quality time with my writing.

Not that today was all bad; my meetings were good, I feel like I'm accomplishing what I need to be doing at work, and I left around 4:45 (although leaving then makes the commute an hour and fifteen minutes or more, which sort of negates the pleasure of leaving early). However, I decided to make a good move to spare my sanity - via a random search on Craigslist, I totally lucked out and discovered that a garage space in the building across the street from me is open. I emailed the guy, received a reply this afternoon, met up with him tonight to check it out - and promptly rented it. This is great news; while parking in the neighborhood is generally not problematic, it is just often enough to make me dread the prospect of coming home and circling for parking. This also means that I can get home late and not risk having to walk several blocks back to the apartment; walking across the street (particularly in the rainy season) is v. appealing. So, I'm happy, the garage renter is happy, and everything is good!

After that, I did some work to stay caught up for tomorrow, and now that I've wrapped it up, it's time for bed!

Monday, September 14, 2009

we're living in a powder-keg and giving off sparks

It's still relatively early, but I think I'm going to go to bed despite that; I didn't get my full eight hours of sleep last night, which is an inauspicious start to the week, and I intend to remedy that tonight. I made it into the office around eight this morning, and despite all the craziness of my current projects, things went as well as I could hope for them to go today, which was a relief. I also spent a bit of time talking to Aunt Becky (who marries the scandalous husband this summer), so that was nice. Tomorrow will no doubt be killer, given the number of meetings currently on my calendar, but at least sleep will help me to get ready for the onslaught.

In other completely unrelated news, I'm on an 80s music kick - I've been listening to "Total Eclipse of the Heart", which makes me smile for being so over-the-top earnest and ridiculous. Adit's lucky that he's not here - or perhaps I'm lucky, since he wouldn't put up with this shit for more than five minutes, while I can listen to it alone to my heart's content.

That's all - have a good night! And happy birthday to Terry!!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

local minima

I'm spending way too much time watching tv - and in fact, told Adit as he walked out the door tonight that I had no interest in watching the "60 Minutes" episode that he tee'd up for me, so that I could instead watch the last part of "King Arthur". Yes, "King Arthur" -- the movie that was so bad that it ended my movie-watching relationship with multiple friends, since I somehow managed to convince upwards of ten people to see it with me and no one (not even myself) liked it. But, if nothing else that gives me a certain amount of nostalgia for the good old days, which is why I was somewhat eager to watch Clive Owen and a bunch of dirty Saxons fighting each other.

Today was another fairly lazy day; I did leave at some point in the afternoon to buy a few groceries, but other than that I stayed holed up in the apartment. I spent the morning watching tv, then spent the afternoon and early evening working on stuff for the day job. It was unfortunate and regrettable, but it will make tomorrow much smoother even if it won't make this week any easier. I think I'm in a local minima because things with both the day job and the book are in flux; the day job is taking its toll on my ability to write, and my ability to write is hampered by constant thoughts about the status of my first book and questions about where to take my second book. I know that I really just need to throw myself back into it and knock out a first draft, but that's hard when all I want to do is indulge my local minima for awhile.

No more whining though -- I'm going to pick myself up tomorrow and move on, even if that just means spending half an hour after work drinking coffee and reading more about honing my writing craft. And if that doesn't work, I can always buy shoes. Goodnight!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

and i need you more than ever

Even though it's still v. early for a Saturday, I'm going to go to bed right after this; I didn't sleep nearly enough last night, since I went to bed after two, woke up at five to some intense (and v. rare, uncharacteristic) thunder and lightning, then woke up again for good around eight. Theoretically, getting up that early should have made me productive, but I really did absolutely nothing all day. Adit and I watched tennis, then watched multiple movies (including "EdTV" and "Wall-E" -- verdict is that I adored "Wall-E", and still adore Matthew McConaughey regardless of how awful his movies are). At some point, I thought about taking a nap, but Claudia called, and we caught up for the first time in months. I also did some desultory reading of a book about plotting novels, but I was having difficulty staying awake while reading.

The only other thing I did today was go out for a ridiculous dinner with Adit, Katrina, and Omar. We had some truly delicious Thai food (great panang and green curries, an excellent seafood and eggplant dish, and a good spicy soupy noodle dish), and some truly atrocious conversation that made me feel vaguely guilty every time I looked up and made eye contact with the innocent three-year-old eating with her parents across the restaurant. Now, though, I really must sleep -- I need to do some serious work for the day job tomorrow, and then hopefully I'll get back into the writing groove at some point. Goodnight!

birthday sex

Sadly, there was no birthday sex today -- but, that was the song I woke up to this morning. Adit had a friend staying over last night, and he played this "Birthday Sex" song at 7:30am as I opened the presents from my parents. Then, I got ready and went into the San Francisco office for a couple of hours, where unfortunately too many things happened that will necessitate me working over the weekend :(

But, I successfully escaped and went to Samovar, where I had a nice quiche and masala chai. Then, I went to CB2, where I purchased the nine-block cube that I had my eye on, as well as a couple of tack boards for the wall above my bed. I spent the rest of the afternoon talking to my parents, cleaning my room, taking a nap, talking to my Koolwal, talking to my brother, and getting ready to go out for the evening. The first stop of the evening was dinner at Little Star Pizza, which is my favorite deep-dish place in the city; I was quite happy to see that Adit, Vidya, John, Jess, Oniel, Javier, Lily, and Folkman all made it out to celebrate, and the arrival process was incredibly smooth (facilitated by Adit and Vidya standing in line for an hour for the rest of us). We had a totally lovely time, and were amused to note that it was the same place that I celebrated my birthday at two years ago, when we agreed to start calling Oniel "Fauxneil", much to his chagrin.

So the dinner was awesome; we followed it up by going to the Rite Spot for drinks + pie. The pie was fantastic -- the bartender made a key lime pie and a black-and-blueberry pie, both of which were incredible. I had several drinks (actually, only three drinks, but two of them were very strong shots), and spent some time socializing with the crew from dinner + Felicia, Shedletsky, Katrina, Julie, Tom, Rat, and Shari. Felicia gave me the most amazing gift -- the same model of shark puppet that Craig Ferguson uses in his opening monologues!!! I had fun playing with it while taking kamikaze shots (v. inappropriately in honor of my birthday), talking to people, and watching John get inappropriately touched by a gay guy at the bar.

I'm quite happy to report that, while the morning and afternoon of my birthday left much to be desired, my friends definitely helped to make the evening a night to remember. Thanks so much for all the well-wishes -- now it's time for bed!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

this song is not for you

This is a four minute post, if that. I had an incredibly annoying day, capped off by a 1.5hr drive home for no apparent reason. But, I talked to my parents, which took my mind off the drive, and really things aren't that terrible -- I'm just not thrilled with the direction a lot of things took today, so there you have it.

So, when I got home, I made a cup of masala chai (using the spice blend I bought from Samovar -- it turns out that using their ingredients, I can make a homemade chai that tastes exactly like the chais at the cafe), contemplated life while inhaling the blissful aroma of tea and spice, and then did several hours' worth of work. Now, I'm done for the night -- and even though I could theoretically stay up for twenty minutes and ring in my birthday, it's not worth it. Going to bed now will only make me even more excited for my birthday when I wake up to it in the morning! And so, goodnight!

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

maybe then we'll last a million years or more

I made the most perfect open-faced sandwich tonight -- two slices of french bread, with roasted tomatoes and fresh mozzarella cheese, lightly toasted and sprinkled with fresh basil. I took the first bite and it was pure bliss. Adit must have sensed my happiness from the other room, because as I took the second bite, he started playing "All the Way Up to Heaven", the song that lingers on as a memory of my tortured youth. As I've mentioned before, I can listen to the song without shivering or screaming anymore, but the first three bars fill me with uncontrollable rage. The sandwich was still delish, though, and I got my revenge because I ate all the tomatoes so that Adit couldn't have one.

Beyond that, it was a pretty annoying but uneventful day. I wore these fab new shoes that I bought on Sunday, but got the heel stuck in the crack between the elevator and the main floor, leaving a small gouge in the otherwise-perfect finish. The cafe at work clearly got a special on crab meat, because they've been serving crab for breakfast and lunch for days -- I had a delicious crab benedict for breakfast, and while I skipped lunch at that cafe, I went down later and discovered that they were serving crab cakes and crab sandwiches.

Best of all, though, I unexpectedly received birthday presents from my parents! I couldn't resist and opened one of the three wrapped packages within the Amazon box, revealing that they had given me "Mrs. Beeton's Book of Household Management", which is the preeminent household management book of the mid-1800s. I skimmed some paragraphs and it looks wonderful, so I'm going to spend some lazy time reading it over the next few weeks. I successfully refrained from opening the other two -- I think I'll open one tomorrow and one Friday. I also got a card from Katie, but I'm saving it for Friday too.

Apparently Friday is now a "national day of service and remembrance". Someone at my job sent out an email encouraging us all to spend the day serving in honor of our fallen heroes. Instead, I'm quite selfishly going to spend the day reading, shopping, drinking tea, and then going out to get gloriously blitzed with my friends. Frankly, I'm on a "take back the birthday" crusade, and I refuse to let the terrorists win by letting them take over my birthday forever. So, as weird as it is, I'm going to spend 9/11 in pursuit of maximal fun. Now, though, I really must go to sleep -- I have a ton to accomplish tomorrow if I'm going to be able to enjoy Friday. Goodnight!

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

let's tell the people til they can't hear no more

This is a four-minute post. I slogged all day, through a variety of annoyances the likes of which inevitably seem to pop up bright and early on the day after a three-day weekend so that your glow is fully gone by the end of it. But, it was baked potato Tuesday at my favorite cafe, so I took a precious fifteen minutes to eat my potato in peace before getting back into the thick of it. I spent the afternoon in a meeting that I used to run, but that is now run (poorly, in my opinion, but I realize that I'm v. possessive) by someone else -- I told Heather (aka dear respected madam) that for me, sitting in that meeting is like watching your baby grow up to be a meth addict. She told me that analogies like that are why I'm a writer (although meth analogies don't really help with my historical romances, alas).

After work, I went to Philz in Palo Alto and enjoyed my customary Aromatic Arabic (sweet, with cream) on the patio while slogging some more. I vowed to do what I needed to do, do it efficiently, and come home to write. I followed through on the plan -- but when I got home, I discovered that a transformer or something had blown somewhere in the neighborhood, since several streets' worth of lights were out. It turns out that streetlights in a city are v. necessary; luckily, one block near me had power, and I was able to find parking under the lights there, which was key. When I got home, I lit every candle I could find, made a peanut butter sandwich, and spent a blissful hour continuing to develop my second book's outline in Scrivener.

Now, though, four minutes are up -- it's time for bed so that I can rinse and repeat tomorrow!

Monday, September 07, 2009

take control of the atmosphere

Tomorrow is not looking good -- while tomorrow would have been much, much worse if the Bay Bridge had collapsed shortly after they reopened it, I'm still not happy that it will be closed for another day. It actually wasn't so bad for me when it was closed on Friday -- but I left for work early, drove south to Santa Cruz after work instead of back to the evil city, and I think a lot of employers encouraged working from home or people took Friday off to make a four-day weekend. Tuesday is a whole 'nother kettle of fish, particularly since some people may not hear about the bridge closure. So, my plan is to leave for work really early, and come back really late, and hope for the best!

Anyway, today was extremely sloth-filled. I slept in, took a long shower, got myself all gussied up, and packed up my laptop to go out in search of a cafe -- only to find that the cafe I wanted to go to was closed. So, I stocked up on groceries, came home, and made the lunch I wanted to have -- bread, brie, grapes and honey. I spent the afternoon pretending to write, then downloading a program called Scrivener. Scrivener was one of the reasons I initially started thinking about getting a Mac; it's a fantastically well-designed tool for writers, which enables you to track scenes and chapters using "notecards", which you can then drag around if you want to rearrange segments of the manuscript. You can also track which draft you're in, and at the end of it all, compile it and export it into a Word-compatible document. I played around with it all night, and I'm in love; I think it will help me to get back into Madeleine and Ferguson's story, since going through the process of creating notecards for the scenes I already have is helping me to see what's happened so far and giving me ideas for where I want to go.

Now, though, I should wrap up a couple of things for work tomorrow -- goodnight!

Sunday, September 06, 2009

i wish i could buy back the woman you stole

Today was, for the most part, a completely lazy day. I did get out of bed by 8:30, which is rather early for a lazy day, but I proceeded to squander the rest of it.

Actually, I didn't squander it -- I just didn't write, which is a problem since I want to have a first draft completed by the end of October and so every weekend day is precious. Instead, I spent the morning transferring files from my old laptop to my new MacBook (verdict so far -- I really like it, except I'm having trouble getting used to the trackpad, particularly since it's so big that my hand naturally grazes it while I type). Then, I went shopping for a couple of hours; I dropped way too much money at Sephora, but luckily I had a lot of gift cards and so I didn't actually spend anything there. My mother actually mentioned later that she thought about getting me a Sephora gift card for my birthday but knew that I had a lot of them, so I had to confess that I blew more money at Sephora today than many women spend in an entire year (in my dubious defense, the gift cards encouraged me to make purchases I wouldn't usually make, like two perfumes; not in my defense, the tinted moisturizer that I swear by is embarrassingly expensive, and I bought two of them so that I could pretend that it was free). I also stocked up on tights, since winter is going to be here before we know it, and the thought of rocking some purple tights will make me almost excited for cold weather (at least for a day). Unfortunately, there was a shoe sale at Nordstrom; I bought three pairs, but upon further reflection, I'm going to take one pair back. I've been experimenting with my personal style and so attempting to branch out into areas I usually shy away from -- but I've decided that no matter how far I branch out, I will never be able to pull off 3" green suede platform mules, so they're going back in hopes that they will meet a nice girl who has questionable taste.

Before I went mad for makeup and shoes, I spent a delightful half hour browsing and dreaming in CB2 and Crate and Barrel. They're conveniently located around the block from each other, which meant that I could get a fix at both without breaking a sweat. CB2 is just a little bit too trendy modern loft-style for my tastes; while I like to have a couple of things that are a little edgier, my taste definitely runs much more toward the classics. However, I think that CB2 may have the solution to my current storage woes -- a 9-block wall shelf that can serve as cubbies for my makeup, sunglasses, and other small items that I need to either have out or risk forgetting to use. I'll likely sit it on the floor for the duration of my life in this apartment, since I can't hang it without blocking the lightswitch; but, when I'm in a place with more room, I can hang it above my desk to hold inks, papers, and photos. Perfect!

I spent a little over an hour on the phone with my parents; nothing particularly good happened for any of us in the past week, but nothing truly awful happened either (except, apparently, the closing of my parents' favorite restaurant in Des Moines; my mom mentioned it when I talked to her, and then my dad called me back five minutes after he and I said goodbye to see if mom had told me about the restaurant). After we caught up on the mundane humdrumness of our respective lives, I spent the evening tidying up the apartment, continuing to organize my laptop, and generally procrastinating. Granted, I procrastinated over a couple of pots of Russian Caravan tea, which made it better than if I was procrastinating over wine (or crack, given the drug of choice in my neighborhood), but still, I really need to get cracking tomorrow.

In the interest of making that happen, I'm done blogging for now -- goodnight!

Saturday, September 05, 2009

i'll wait for you where saturday's a memory

Really, today was an absolutely lovely day. I slept until ten, which enabled me to make a near-full recovery from my night of debauchery (which really wasn't that much debauchery -- I was in more pain from too much Mexican food and too much chips and guac than I was from the aftereffects of scotch and margaritas). When Adit and Zach were done with their wedding duties, we + Katrina + the groom (Peder aka Timmy Timer) + a couple of other groomsmen had lunch at a deli in Aptos. It was ridiculously good; they were rotisserie'ing multiple chickens and tritips on the grill outside, and so my southwestern chicken sandwich with chipotle mayo and pepperjack cheese was out of this world delicious.

We hung out for another hour or so at the house, but I reluctantly had to leave the glory of the beach environment for the still-glorious-in-a-different-way scene of the peninsula. My friends Natasha and Chris are getting married next month, and Natasha's bridal shower was at her mom's house this afternoon. I've known Chris from way back, since we've worked together for years and were in India together as well; Natasha is a newer friend, but I've gotten to know her very well since we co-planned the sales conference, and so I'm v. happy for both of them. The shower was tons of fun; I left after the second game, which involved dressing a "bride" with some random supplies. I was my team's bride, and ended up in a "gown" made of newspaper and paper doilies. It was quite good, actually -- very well done, and I will try to post a picture sometime soon. But for now, I really must go to bed; if I'm going to write this weekend, I need to wake up tomorrow morning and start getting things done. Goodnight!

an ocean breeze puts the mind at ease

Yes, we made fun of the embroidered pillow sitting on the sofa of our rented beach house, which included the trite phrase listed in the title of this post. But, I will say that the sentiment is entirely accurate; even though I seriously intended to go to bed, and in fact was in my pajamas and had turned down the previous offer to go to the beach, I was convinced by Adit's appealing phone call. I'm glad that I was convinced; while the first thing that I saw on the beach was a dead seal, everything else was perfect. It's rare that a northern California beach is relatively warm and entirely clear, so we were able to see the almost full moon and some of the brightest stars in the sky. There was still too much light pollution to see a lot of stars, but the night was perfect and we shared some Maker's Mark out of the bottle as we walked along the ocean. All in all, it was a lovely evening, even if we got back to the house at two a.m. and I'm too old for this shit.

Now I'm going to bed for reals...goodnight!

thanks but no tanks

We saw the perfect sign outside a restaurant in Aptos this evening; the sign requested proper attire by saying "thanks but no tanks", which is only funny to the people I was with and not really to anyone else, given that Adit tends to say "tanks" in a very obnoxious way when he is attempting to thank someone.

Anyway, today was great; I made it to work by 8:30, slogged until 2pm (an hour after they said we could go home for the long weekend, but given that I had a meeting from 1-2pm with the big boss, my director, my manager, and a bunch of other people, I could hardly skip it), then celebrated Joy's birthday briefly before heading out into the sunny afternoon. I made the drive down to Santa Cruz in decent time, given the weekend and the Bay Bridge closure, and found the rental house with no problem whatsoever. Since I was the first to arrive, I explored a bit and stocked us up on snacky snacks and mixers at the store down the street.

This area is quite lovely, and it makes me want to rent out a house down here for a week when I want to get some serious writing/relaxing done. However, I need to remind myself that it's not quite as much fun without friends. I was having a good time by myself -- but when Zach (aka Pincubus) showed up, things got markedly better. "Markedly" is appropriate, actually; my slightly intoxicated brain still does well making random connections, since what happened was that Zach and I sat around the kitchen table drinking Maker's Mark and catching up with each other for an hour or so, which was totally lovely and long overdue. Then, Katrina arrived, and we all gorged ourselves on chips, salsa, and guac while waiting for Adit (some people call him 'the cat') to finally stop getting himself lost and make it to the house.

When he arrived, we walked down the street to a Mexican restaurant that may have been slightly overpriced, but was quite delicious. My $10 shrimp tostada was absolutely covered in shrimp, and the pitcher of margaritas was good. Then we came back here and played a couple of ridiculous games of Uno using Adit's special house rules.

I would tell you more, but I'm getting dragged to the beach -- goodnight!!

Thursday, September 03, 2009

well let me tell you how we do it in california

I slogged all day and I slogged all night, but it wasn't all bad. I was in a very punchy mood, which always leads to me saying exactly what I think and speaking my mind, which tends to amuse/dismay those around me. So, that made my meetings more fun than usual. Unfortunately, I was at the office until almost eight p.m.; but, in some ways it felt like the good ol' days, since I spent a bit of that time having dinner with some coworkers like we used to before people started working more normal hours in my department.

Anyway, I worked for about an hour when I got home, and now it's time for bed -- I really want to get up early and head south, since the Bay Bridge is closed this weekend and will likely destroy traffic. Goodnight!

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

all the blue-light reflections that color my mind when i sleep

This is a four-minute post. Today was basically a rinse and repeat of yesterday; I slogged all day, even through lunch, but I left early to take my team out for coffee. I had made the promise to them awhile ago, and finally made good on it today; for fourteen people, I was surprised that the bill was only $35ish. Perhaps because it was 95 degrees in the south bay today, people were more in the mood for iced beverages than hot ones...and a couple of people skipped my largesse to get Slurpees at the 7-11 next door instead, so I won out there.

After Starbucks was over, I went to Philz for coffee and picked up my dry cleaning next door. I had intended to work at the cafe for awhile, but given the aforementioned heat, decided I would die of heatstroke if I drank coffee while sitting outside. So, I came home instead, where I ordered takeout Chinese (verdict: delicious, which is problematic since I always order way too much for delivery and consequently end up eating bad-for-you leftovers for days). It was sweltering in the apartment, so I sat in front of the fan and worked for the past four hours. Now my four minutes (and my stamina) are up, so I'm going to go to bed so that I can recharge and hit it again tomorrow. Goodnight!

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

i was waiting on a different story

I really need to go to bed; when I got home tonight, I was so tired that I took a nap, but that's not going to help me get through all my meetings tomorrow. Despite my exhaustion, though, today was a good day; I had meetings straight through from 8am to 5pm, but skipped out at five to have margaritas and pie (sans pie, with lots of chips and enchiladas) with Tracy, Heather and Erin. It was all very delicious, and of course we had a good time dishing the dirt and discussing everything that is going on around the office. When we finished, I called Adit and we went home together, which was quite convenient given that I was out of gas anyway and not particularly in the mood to drive. Then, as you know, I took a nap, and then worked for the past two hours while Adit and I watched a couple of episodes of "Mad Men". I haven't really watched it before, but it's quite good; given that my day job is in advertising, and that I love seeing design and fashion and love and hate and history and all those things, it's no wonder that I like the show. But now I really must go to bed before I get sucked into the next episode -- goodnight!