Saturday, April 30, 2005

i hope you know that this will go down on your permanent record

It's really late (1:42am) here, and I should go to bed soon, but I just wanted to say that it's hard to be someplace where I can't be as crazy as I have gotten used to being. Perhaps I'll reach that comfort level at some point in the near future...or perhaps I'll just snap and reach it regardless of my coworkers' ability to handle it...but let's just say that at this moment in time, I don't see myself developing such a strong relationship with anyone here that I can be brought to tears (of laughter) over the thought of the loch ness monster being able to animate a body of water so that he can use it as a vehicle to transport himself to the US and kill Tammy. If that didn't make any sense to you, don't worry, it apparently didn't make sense to anyone I was talking to the first time I brought it up either. Ah well, perhaps that's just as well.

But still, it's not like I'm having to bite my tongue to keep this stuff in; it just doesn't even start to grow, because there isn't fertile soil for such imaginings, and so they're all being stunted for lack of coconspirators. Sometimes I do think of random things and smile, but I'm kind of more shy than people think I am, and so it will be awhile before I feel really comfortable with my coworkers. And it will be way, way beyond comfortable before I'll tell them about Pyro and Gyro, or Thai prostitutes and blowguns, or any of the other myriad things that have formed the fabric of my life.

I will share one thing with all y'all, however. Today, I was looking out the window of the car (having a driver is weird, I'll write about it more at another time), and I saw a billboard with the Greek letter mu on it. Now, if we were to write out the pronunciation of 'mu' in English, it would be 'myu'...but on the billboard, it was written 'mju'. I thought that this was hysterical, because Vidya often says 'jou' and 'jes' instead of 'you' and 'yes' in IM conversations (although she actually pronounces them w/a j when the fancy strikes her in speaking as well). However, even writing it now for a bunch of people who don't know the in-reference behind it, it sounds lame--and I figured that the driver (Fazil...still no Habib) would appreciate it even less. But I thought it was funny, dammit! And I will go to my grave thinking it, and a million other things, were funny, even if no one else gets or wants to get the joke.

But if being a grownup means that you end up spending all your time with people who don't encourage ridiculousness, I want to stay young forever. Alternatively, I'll make friends with people who are increasingly younger than me, so that by the time I'm in my forties I can be some weirdo taking community college classes w/the sole goal of meeting students in their early twenties. Too bad it's not the 1920s and I can't form a brilliant literary salon in Paris, attracting scores of bright young things to discuss any manner of scandalous, artistically dubious subjects.

Growing old and the end of all fun for me will apparently be marked by Hitler, in the form of all my friends' marriages, invading my salon and getting an endless series of wedding pictures taken in front of the Eiffel Tower. Now there's an entertaining image...the tyranny of adulthood and sobriety clamping down on my fun salon, isolating the individual and destroying the community in the method of all great totalitarian states, with the guise of 'improving' life through discipline, rigor, and the gilded safety net cage of marriage...and at the end I can take all the wedding pictures, recolor them, and turn them into one of those composite pictures where all the small pictures form one large picture...and the large picture can be Hitler in Paris. Ha!

Okay, I feel slightly better--I may be boring for the next six months, but my imagination will still be there. Maybe it will even flower more prolifically when I get back, like grapevines after a severe pruning.

Oh, and I've been writing like crazy in the Hyderabad blog, so all promises about letting you know here are out the window; if you're too lazy to check it, that's your loss.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

let's make a deal

I've heard from a couple of people that they believe that checking two blogs is too time-consuming, when they could just check one. Please be assured that I feel your pain. However, the reason that the other blog exists is because I want to be able to tell my coworkers about my travels, but I do not want all of them to see my particularly ridiculous side. So, this blog will probably get a helluva lot weirder, since I won't have any outlet for my strange ramblings for the next six months.

To make it easier for you, though (since this is really all about you), here's the deal...whenever I post in the India blog, I'll endeavor to let you know about it here. Not that that's a guarantee that I'll always remember, but I shall try. In turn, I'm imploring any of you who blog to blog more frequently, and any of you who don't blog to start one up. I'm going to feel woefully disconnected from the goings-on in my friends' lives, and blogs help to maintain some semblance of contact.

In the meantime, if you want to read about Singapore, I posted my thoughts and a couple of pictures. I'll be in Hyderabad in seven hours!

Saturday, April 23, 2005

announcements ('administrivia', if you prefer)

Two announcements:

1) I updated the links to the side, removing people who aren't updating their blog and changing links for people whose blogs have moved. If you aren't on there and would like to be, or are on there and would like to be removed, please let me know.

2) I've started a new blog for India! The reason: I will want to share things about travels, experiences, etc. with coworkers, but may not want them to have access to my more personal thoughts when I return. This seems to be the best compromise. So, virtually everything I write will probably go to:

Yay for new blogs!

I leave in three days!!

Thursday, April 21, 2005

the taste of silence

For those of you who wished to know, after two days and two trips to the city, I now have a new American passport and a business visa for six months in India. I leave in five days!

Monday, April 18, 2005

the killer in me is the killer in you

Never fear, gentle readers, I will be a much more prolific blogger when I am in India, mostly because I will a) be seeing cool new things, and b) will have no friends to amuse and distract me. I leave for India a week for tonight!

Or, I won't leave for India a week from tonight, if I can't get a new passport in time. I somehow managed to lose mine between April 4, when I used it while making a flight reservation, and last week, when I started searching for it in earnest. It got to the point yesterday where I realized I was compulsively searching places I'd already searched, so I started putting stickers on everything I looked through. The result: a room covered in gold stars, and no passport. So, I have an appointment at the San Francisco Passport Agency tomorrow at nine a.m. to beg them to give me a new passport. I have to have it in the next two days, because I then have to stand in another line at the Indian Consulate to get a visa. The Indian Consulate is closed on Friday, so I either have to get it Wednesday, Thursday, or Monday (the day of my flight). The passport office won't let you in until fifteen minutes before your appointment, and they won't let you in if you are more than fifteen minutes late. The Consulate only accepts visa applications from 9:30 to noon, and only gives you back your passport between 4:30 and 5:15. So, the next few days will be an entertaining attempt to meet relatively small time windows within two vast, creaking bureaucracies that will likely rival the DMV in their ability to frustrate and annoy. Yay.

In other news, we had our housewarming party Saturday night, although it was basically just my going-away party by another name, since I wouldn't invite people to my own going-away party. Actually, that's not true, I have no shame and I've been inviting people to going-away movies, barbecues, dinners, and activities for almost a month now. All the key people showed up, which amounted to forty or fifty people, and so the party was a smashing success. I think the two coworkers who showed up were amused, especially when Tammy told them we'd slept together two nights earlier and I refused to acknowledge it. And Vidya (she who ctrl-f's to find her own name in my blog, rather than reading it like someone who cared about me) asked them to define their position in my heart, which seemed awkward, but Durand was up to the challenge and said that the first tear I shed as my plane pulls away from the gate will be for him. Vidya appreciated that, I think.

I didn't have a lot of time to talk to anyone in particular, and I had to say the first of what will be a slew of goodbyes (to kids who won't be here next weekend and so aren't coming to Loro Special Dinner). Nevertheless, it was great, and memories like these will be very precious to me while I'm in India (how's that for sappy). I'm especially pleased that I *have* memories from Saturday, since we went through a lot of alcohol...the combined forces of the party finished off a whole bottle of mint julep (which is whiskey with some sugar and mint, so not really a 'mixed' drink), a bottle of kamikaze shots, a stock-pot full of sangria, a case of beer and a case of Smirnoff Ice. Pretty shocking, considering a lot of the people who showed up don't drink, or won't have more than one.

Saturday morning we finished the first round of the Shrimp or Feet game; I won, although it was rather anticlimactic because Claudia needed two points to win, and what she got was only worth a point (and was decent...sesame balls), so I won by default. However, an amusing thing happened--we've been joking for months that one of the head waiters has a crush on me, and that I have a crush on him, and that the rest of the group could whore me out for recipes/special dishes like the pan-fried scallops that we used to get in Palo Alto. Well, Saturday morning we got to sit upstairs by the windows, and we hadn't been upstairs for about a month. So the waiter comes over and says 'you finally got to come upstairs! you can request to have a table upstairs if you want'. The thing that was weird about this, like always, is that he made eye contact only with me; he never talks to anyone else in the group, even though we are always together.

Tammy, Shedletsky and Claudia finally convinced me that it was now or never, so the next time he was nearby, I flagged him down and asked if he remembered the pan fried scallops that they served in Palo Alto (he used to work there before that branch closed), and he said yes and that we could order them off the special menu. Yessssss!!! They are the best thing ever; we call them bouncy scallops because they bounce if you accidentally drop them off your chopsticks, and they're scallops stuffed with shrimp, pan-fried, and covered in spicy sea salt. Mmmmmmm. They're also $16 for 8 scallops, so we didn't order them because we were already full, but we're going to go back next weekend for scallops and play some Tetris Attack on SuperNintendo afterwards. Awesome, simply awesome.

I also had dinner w/Claudia's mom on Sunday night, and dinner w/Claudia and Terry on Friday night. Tonight, some of my coworkers took me to dinner at Cascal's in Mountain View (tapas), and then I filled out my passport application.

I'm really annoyed about this whole passport thing; I'm usually pretty organized, and I was thinking that maybe I should get a masters in some sort of logistical science and then coordinate massive relief efforts (like the efforts currently underway to stop the Marburg outbreak in Angola, sounds like they could use all the help they can get), but then I lost my freaking passport. I understand that this does not prevent me from getting a new passport and going to Angola, but it's so embarrassing, and I hate not being in control, especially of things like this. Especially since it'll probably turn up as soon as I walk in the door tomorrow night after spending all day at the passport office. Oh well, my life wouldn't be my life if absurd things didn't constantly happen to me. I feel like I could write my memoirs and have them taken as a complete joke by anyone who read them. And really, would I want it any other way? I may have a different answer for that if I can't get a passport in time, but for now I feel pretty satisfied with the ridiculous twists and turns my life takes.

Friday, April 15, 2005

maybe we should reevaluate our decision-making paradigm

The month of fun is rolling steadily towards its abrupt conclusion. My parents' visit was awesome; Monday, they came to work and got a tour/lunch, then we went out and got my camcorder (a Sony HC-42, yay, time to make overly-dramatic documentaries of my time in India), then my mom helped me pack up the stuff that I'm leaving here so that it won't be in the way. We went to Outback Steakhouse w/Terry and Claudia, which was great (and reminds that I have a small bit of prime rib still in the fridge that I should eat tomorrow). Tuesday, I took them to breakfast (at Peter's Cafe in Millbrae!!) before dropping them off at the airport. It was sad to see them go, since I had fun with them, but hopefully they'll come to India while I'm there. Then I went to work, and after work I saw 'Sahara' w/Zach, Terry, Ritu, and Maneesh.

I actually really liked 'Sahara', and even more surprisingly, Zach liked it too. Ritu and Maneesh were laughing hysterically as well, and I think Terry enjoyed it (although she wasn't quite as hysterical as the rest of us at certain points). I don't understand why it's getting such mixed reviews; it's not a masterpiece by any means, but it is very entertaining, it doesn't have pretentions of being more than it is, Matthew McConaughey and Steve Zahn (the surprisingly-effective, scene-stealing sidekick) work really well together...and let's face it, Matthew McConaughey is amazingly, ridiculously hot. I normally don't go for blondes, or for Texans, but he's gorgeous--and they played it up as much as possible, since he wore lots of sleeveless shirts, and his first appearance in the movie was of him emerging from the sea, wet and glistening, to rescue Penelope Cruz from some dudes who were trying to kill her.

Basically, people are complaining that there were too many unexplained coincidences in the plot--but who cares? The dialogue was pretty entertaining, the main guy characters were hilarious (like two overgrown boys--they just looked so *excited* when things exploded), and I felt like I had a good two hours of escape from reality. It served its purpose--although Zach said I failed, since I managed to pick a good movie instead of the crap I normally drag him to (think 'Chronicles of Riddick', since he was the person I drank with at that movie).

So 'Sahara' = thumbs up. Don't get too excited about it, but it was definitely worth seeing.

Wednesday, I worked for 12 or 13 hours. That sucked, but I had tons to do, and it was the only night I didn't have plans.

Today, I went to work, then had CPK with Renee. It was really good to see her--it's been several months since I saw her last (we think the last time we saw each other was when we saw 'Life Aquatic', so it must have been January). She had some entertaining stories, and it was good to catch up before she graduates/I leave. Then, I picked up Tom and Greg, and we went bowling, and then stopped at Pizza My Heart. So, I didn't get home until almost one, which is pretty late for me, and I should go to bed.

Revised social calendar:

Friday: packing
Saturday: finish 'Shrimp or Feet', housewarming party
Sunday: maybe hang out with Tom and Greg, packing
Monday: farewell dinner w/coworkers
Tuesday: maybe hang out w/Angela
Wednesday: get visa in city, lunch w/Allie, dinner w/John
Thursday: maybe finish 'Pride and Prejudice'/tea party w/Vidya and Ritu
Friday: Loro Special Dinner, hang out with Zach/Adit/Claudia
Saturday/Sunday: pizza/tequila/waffles/movies/etc.
Monday: airport party around 9 or 10pm, leave for India at 1:20am on Tuesday

Not much time at all! But I'm so excited...I'm ready for some new adventures.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

memories are films about ghosts

My parents are here this weekend, so I'm taking a brief moment of downtime in the month of fun. Actually, it's still v. fun, and I'm so happy that they came out to visit, but it's a different kind of fun (involving less alcohol and slightly more sleep). They got in yesterday, we hung out and had pizza, and this morning we had dim sum. We haven't finished the game yet, but I wanted my parents to see the Hong Kong Flower Lounge, which was entertaining. Then we went shopping for camcorders (I didn't get one, but I'll procure one tomorrow), then bought luggage, then had dinner at Celia's with Claudia, and then they went back to the hotel. My roommates and I watched some History Channel (showing tonight: 'High Hitler', which was about the possibility that Hitler was a meth addict). Good times!

My parents are leaving Tuesday morning, so they're coming to work to have lunch with me, and I'm taking the rest of the day off to buy my camcorder, do some preliminary packing (since my mom offered to help out), etc. Then I'll have breakfast w/them on Tuesday before taking them to the airport...and the month of fun enters its last, desperate days. On the slate:

Tuesday night: 'Sahara'
Wednesday night: I can't remember, I feel like something's happening
Thursday night: bowling
Friday night: Loro special dinner? checking w/Allie...if not, clubbing
Saturday: final round of the Shrimp or Feet Game
Saturday night: housewarming party
Sunday: probably packing
Monday: open
Tuesday: open
Wednesday: getting my visa in the city, dinner w/John
Thursday: open
Friday: alternate date for Loro special dinner, if not, clubbing
Saturday/Sunday: last weekend of fun (tequila, pizza, waffles, 'Return of the King', massive packing, etc.
Monday night, 9pm: go to the airport and have airport pizza if possible
Tuesday morning, 1:20am: leave for India!!! time left at all!!

Thursday, April 07, 2005

you're everybody's satellite...i wish that you were mine

I'm leaving for India on April 26!! That's so close to right now. I got my ticket confirmed yesterday, and promptly felt slightly ill because that is so close to now and I have so much to do before that happens.

So today I had a ton of meetings at work, and ended up talking for about 8.5 hours overall, which was simply ridiculous, and my jaw hurt as a result. Then, I hurried home, and John, Adit, and Zach came over for dinner. Claudia made this amazing eggplant parmesan, and an asparagus pasta, and bruschetta, and I made strawberry shortcake. Vidya also came over, which was entertaining, although she accused me of being cold towards her because I was busy all day and then was abrupt when she showed up. I like how I can never share what I do with my friends with 'normal' people; for instance, after dinner, the five of us (Vidya disappeared right after the shortcake) sat in the living room and Adit played us midi variations of popular songs that he found on the internet. This does not sound fun, but it really was. I'm trying to pack in as much fun and memories as I can before I succumb to India, and this was a nice evening to add to my collection.

Yesterday I had dinner with Waxman at Haus Mitt, and it was nice to catch up with him--hopefully it will happen again in a year or two :) Tomorrow I have a lot of work to do, as well as on Friday, and then I may hang out w/Zach and Adit Friday night. Saturday, my parents arrive! Yay for the grownup Wamplers, they're highly entertaining. They're staying until Tuesday, so this weekend will have to be relatively sedate.

I'm so excited about going to India, but it's looming rather dangerously now; buying the tickets made it more official (and more scary). I only have 2.5 weeks in the office here before I leave! Three weeks from now, I'll be hanging out in the Hyderabad office. Un-freaking-believable.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

always...and never

Crazy weekend. It started on Friday, with dinner at Bella Luna w/Terry and Claudia to (belatedly) celebrate Terry's getting hired and all of us moving in together. The food was great, and the wine was very nice, and I think we all had a very enjoyable (if a little too grown-up-feeling) evening.

Saturday morning, Claudia, Ayla and I took Terry to the airport to go to the East Coast with her sister and aunt for a week. Then, we headed to Half Moon Bay, where I had a barbecue to kick off the month of fun before I leave for India. The barbecue was great--I grilled a lot of meat (steak, chicken, hamburgers, hot dogs), and I ate steak with a knife/my bare hands straight off the grill, which probably horrified some but was so amazingly tasty that it was worth it. The day was as perfect as it could have been; it was a little windy and chilly, just like Northern California beaches always are, but the sun was shining, it didn't rain, and the waves were gorgeous. Almost all of my favorite people were there--some of the mafia kids (with whom I got to play 'Cooked or Dirty' again), some of my freshmen from Loro my senior year (I had a blast watching them terrorize children with their death-kite--they managed to clothesline a kid, which was hysterical), some of my friends from freshman year (well, actually just John and Adit, with the important, but much later, additions of Sri and Vidya), a few people from Mirlo (Shedletsky, Tammy, and Emma, as well as Peter, whom I haven't seen for at least two and a half years, but I invited him on a whim and was v. happy that he came), and some other people whom I'm probably forgetting. It was a fantastic, memorable day, and I'm glad that it happened before I go to India and several of these people graduate and move away.

I didn't get home from the beach until after seven, and I napped for a little bit. John dropped by for a quick visit, and then Tammy and Shedletsky came over. We'd intended to spend the night on the beach, but it was too cold; so instead we watched some Animal Planet until about two, and went to Denny's. We were so lucky that the time changed last night, since it was an hour less that we had to sit around and wait for the dim sum place to open. So we sat at Denny's until after 5am, drove to Millbrae, picked up some refreshments at Safeway and some magazines at Walgreens, and had second breakfast at Peter's Cafe in Millbrae. It's across the street from the dim sum place, and we always made fun of it because we can see it through the window and it looked like it had seen better days. However, it's open 24hours, and the food is surprisingly very tasty; everything we got was great. Around eight a.m. we realized that we were incapable of sitting there another two hours waiting for dim sum to open; so we parked my car half a block from the dim sum place and tried to sleep.

For those of you who have been in my car, you'll realize that a small 2-door Pontiac is not conducive to restful slumber. Claudia didn't sleep at all, although Tammy, Shedletsky and I each managed to pass out for awhile. We woke up at ten, only to discover that the place doesn't open until 10:30. However, we were all very glad that we woke up early, because we had just happened to park on the street where all the workers at the restaurant apparently park--and as they all arrived to work over the course of the next twenty minutes or so, they walked by us, much to our chagrin. We're sure several of them saw us, but judging by how quickly the place filled up, we probably looked like we were just waiting for them to open. Thank goodness they probably couldn't guess that we had actually slept there for two hours after staying up all night to get our much-needed shrimp fix.

Dim sum was tasty; we didn't play the game, since we only have Claudia's turn left before the end of the round and it didn't seem fair to make her play on a mostly-full stomach, since this was our third breakfast in seven hours. We drove home, and I promptly slept for about four hours. I had preexisting plans to see 'Sin City' with a coworker tonight, and luckily I was able to drag myself out of bed and get to the theatre. I really liked the movie, despite the fact that the plot was pretty loose, because the graphics were great and some of the characters were interesting. I also really like Clive Owen, for whatever reason; he's menacing, but he's also trying to protect what he believes in, and that's hot. I apologize again for encouraging a viewing of 'King Arthur' last summer, but I do like Clive Owen, and I can't regret it too much.

Next on the list for the month of fun--my parents are coming next weekend! I've also got a couple of people I want to have dinner with this week. Expect a screening of 'Sahara' in the near future, for those of you who are lucky enough to be on my movie list. India is only three weeks away!!