Thursday, January 26, 2006

she only reveals what she wants you to see--she hides like a child, but she's always a woman to me

Note: for those of you who work with me, what I'm revealing below hasn't been formally announced or completely finalized, but feel free to ask me about it. For the rest of you, you probably already know most of it anyway--and if you didn't, I'm sorry you didn't hear it from me in person :(

So I found out today that I'm definitely going to Ireland, and that I'm going for at least a year! Yay! A year sounds much scarier than six months; but then again, a year in Ireland sounds less scary than six months in India, so I think it's a wash. Also, judging by the number of people who have expressed interest in visiting, I don't think I'll be lacking in friends. I'm really excited, and this will mark a lot of firsts for me. It will be my first living experience in a real city (Dublin is much bigger than Menlo Park), it will be my first grown-up living experience in Europe, and it will probably be the first time that I have an apartment of my own, if you don't count the month or so that I lived in the two-bedroom apartment that Walter had vacated. Anyway, I'm super excited, but things are still a little up in the air, since I haven't been given a departure date or timeframe yet. This is a bit troubling only because it's been in the works for so long that I thought I'd be leaving nowish, and so gave up the lease on my apartment. Now I find myself homeless, which is a really weird position to be in given my age and employment status, as well as the lack of any drug or gambling addiction. I hired professional movers to take my stuff to storage this morning, which may have been the best money that I spent in quite awhile--they were really fast, v. careful, and they did a much better job of protecting my stuff than I would have, since I wouldn't have saran-wrapped my couches, for example. I'm sad that my bed is gone, though, so I'm sleeping in a nest of blankets on the floor of my bedroom. Bad news bears!

In other news...yesterday was my oldest niece's birthday. Sammi's fourteen now, which is really hard to believe, and I loved talking to her even though she's a brat and demanded a birthday shoutout on my blog :) I guess she feels that she's entitled to one, especially since everyone knows that Vidya forces me into them all the time. Speaking of, Vidya was one of the many people who came over last night for dinner. Claudius made meatloaf and a tasty banana-cream pie, and I went waaaay overboard and made scalloped potatoes, corn casserole, greek salad, chocolate chip chewies, deviled eggs, and spinach artichoke dip. Gone are the days when it took me four hours to make potato salad, since I was able to turn out six dishes in less than three hours. This was especially impressive given that the only thing I prepped in advance was boiling the eggs, and given that I mistakenly bought the wrong kind of corn for the casserole and so had to run to the grocery store in the middle of my endeavors. Some of Claudia's coworkers came, as did Vidya, Sri, Zach, Oniel, Adit, and a brief visit by Shedletsky and Joanna. I managed to give away a lot of random crap that I no longer wanted to haul around with me; Oniel looked v. funny as he was leaving, since he had my former laundry bag slung over his shoulder, filled with my bathroom scale, a Twister game, a couple of notebooks, bandaids, and some other stuff. Speaking of bandaids, I was v. glad that I didn't give away all of them. In the middle of making dinner, I began to wonder why there was red stuff all over the outside of the cream cheese wrapper--then I realized that I was bleeding, and then my thumb started to hurt. It turns out that I cut myself pretty badly, and I have no idea what I cut myself on--but I triple-wrapped the wound and still managed to bleed through it. It's in an awkward place on my thumb, so the wound keeps separating a bit when I try to do things, but I've thoroughly covered it in bandages to avoid creating a complete biohazard. Of course, I'm paranoid about it due to my recent experience with glass embedded in my foot, but I'm pretty sure there are no foreign objects embedded in it, so I'll just have to hope for the best.

Okay, it's time for me to retire to my cozy nest. Start saving up your money for a trip to Dublin! I hear that it's awesome.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

when pessimism fails and my cooler head prevails

It's time for a vote: should I buy a Nintendo DS? It's the next-generation Gameboy, althought it's been out for over a year and so is no longer the 'next hot thing'. The last Gameboy I had, for reference, was purchased as added incentive to convince me and my brother to go to Ukraine, and it's now widely agreed that we got seriously ripped off. Since I'm now facing a similar upheaval (pending the tying of a few remaining loose ends), it seems quite understandable that I would want a Gameboy to accompany me on this journey. The flipside is that perhaps I should grow up and not play video games--or that I should use my spare time to work/see things/write my romance novel. Your opinion on this matter is greatly appreciated.

In other news, my brother obviously got my obscure reference in the previous post; I don't know what he referenced in the comment, but I'm going to guess a Nelson DeMille book...maybe 'Spencerville'? For those of you who didn't get my reference, it was from 'The Ox Cart Man.' It's perhaps the finest children's book ever written, even though it's rather boring when you get right down to it--but regardless of the book, it may well be the best 'Reading Rainbow' episode ever made. LeVar gets to go to some colonial town and watch all sorts of interesting things, up to and including a demonstration of how people used to toast their bread using a cool iron implement that they placed near the edge of the fire. I highly recommend the book and the episode, although I think the toasting method leaves something to be desired.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

if dreams are like movies, then memories are films about ghosts

I'm in the midst of a huge search-and-destroy mission, ranging across vast swathes of previously-unsorted territory in my bedroom, closets, living room, kitchen, and storage room. It's painfully difficult to part with some of the things that I'm discarding, but it has to happen--after all, when will I use 120 cocktail parasols? They've been sitting in a box (along with five grass skirts and about 40 plastic leis) since Mirlo in-house draw my junior year. For perspective, Terry was finishing her freshman year when she participated in that in-house draw, and she's now been out of school for a year and a half. I've moved this box four times, and now I'm getting rid of all of it. It should be a complete relief, but I keep thinking, 'what if I want to have a Hawaiian theme party? what if I need a grass skirt for something and have to spend $20 on a new one?' But, this is the kind of thinking that has gotten me into my current disaster. I explained to Claudia and Terry last night while we were driving to In-n-Out that my whole family consists of a bunch of packrats and collectors, and then I described the 'Room of Doom' in our house--a room so filled with stuff that hasn't been touched in a decade that we now pile boxes in front of the door to the Room of Doom, which prevents us from ever exploring the forgotten treasures (and, unfortunately, probably some dead bats) within. It was then that I realized that the storage space below our apartment is my own little embryonic Room of Doom--while I only have a few boxes down there, it's stuff that I could quite happily never see again but simultaneously refuse to give up. I shudder to think what my Room of Doom will look like in twenty years, so I'm trying to purge some stuff now.

So, tonight I threw out all of my notes from my college classes, as well as my year planners for sophomore, junior, and senior year. That really hurt--what if future biographers want to reconstruct my college experience? I also threw out the flowers that I wore at my college graduation, since they were getting pretty dusty, even though they have survived five or six moves extraordinarily well. I'm getting rid of a dozen red candles that I got for a dollar at Ikea, since I later discovered that the red was too bright for my color schemes and never bothered to open them. I'm tossing the fake-gold elephant keychain/money clip that I picked up at Krung Siam about six years ago and never used. I'm crossing my fingers that I'll never need a whistle, even though the fluorescent pink cord that it's attached to is pretty hot. I collected every cable that doesn't explicitly belong to one of my currently-working electronic gadgets, dumped the whole snarl in a box with an ancient subwoofer, an old cellphone, and a questionably-capable external CD burner, and I will eventually send the box to my brother as a gift to him (and his warehouse). Now I feel like I need to sell my ox and kiss it on the nose before heading home with some peppermint candies. Ten points (and a grass skirt) to you if you know what I'm talking about.

Okay, I have work to do tomorrow and it's getting much too late to continue rambling about all of the things that I'm supposedly freeing myself from. Goodbye, memories, I'll miss you!

Saturday, January 21, 2006

i wanna be the light that burns out your eyes

I got a message from Walter today; he said that his ipod was on shuffle mode and that it served up Placebo, happy hardcore, and Bon Jovi (which he skipped) in quick succession, so he decided to call me. It's a little sad that my taste so obviously exists in the nexus where anger, nonsense, and hysteria collide. Then again, it's even sadder that I had an awful moment at CPK with Claudia and Terry tonight, in which I was talking animatedly about 'Stargate' in an ironic attempt to convince them that it's a great show, then suddenly realized that I was about to say the words 'human host' in front of the waiter, and so abruptly fell into silence and lunged for my soda straw to fill the void. Claudia started laughing at me immediately, and so the waiter probably thought we were talking about him, but I'm glad that he didn't realize that I'm a such a huge dork [editor's note: I just realized that the only thing lamer than talking about 'Stargate' is blogging about 'Stargate'. How sad!]. In other news (and this one's for you, Katie)--they're making 'Big Momma's House 2', which promises to be the worst movie of this or any other year. Yay!

Work was a little stressful today, compounded by the fact that I bought a cute pair of pants last night to wear today, but then shortened them too much and so they weren't quite right, but was too stubborn not to wear them. Luckily I did a quick and dirty hemjob that involved rolling up the cuffs and basting them, so I can lengthen them again, but it's such a pain. They still looked cute as long as I was standing up, though; and I was wearing a green shirt that a) matched the pinstripes in the pants and b) allowed me to wear the emeralds that my parents gave me for Christmas and c) made my eyes look insanely green. Of course, they started to look insanely bloodshot after I spent six hours manipulating a spreadsheet filled with around 2000 cells of numbers that didn't differ from each other by more than .75 in any direction; Excel is the postmodern version of Hell. It even sort of sounds like 'Ex-Hell'--like it used to be a traditional hell, but the fire and brimstone has been transformed into an electronic pit full of equations and pivot tables. Ugh.

Now, it's time for bed!

Thursday, January 19, 2006

thank you india

Once again, I'm writing this blog post at night, but due to the fact that I don't have internet access in my hotel room, I'll have to post it tomorrow. That's not the point, however. Rather, the point is that I won a Luminary Award at the sales conference!! It's given to the top 3% of the people in my department, and it comes with a lovely, brightly colored orb and a cash bonus, so I'm pretty psyched. I'm guessing that I got it because they knew I was so disappointed that I didn't win bubonic plague in India--but this is a pretty good consolation prize. Several of my friends won them as well, particularly Jogi from the Hyderabad office, and so it was an exciting evening. And luckily, there was no koolaid in evidence, so apparently our apocalyptic mass suicide will have to wait until next year.

In other news, Malcolm Gladwell spoke at the conference today. He wrote 'The Tipping Point', which I used in my honors thesis, and he also wrote 'Blink', which I read this summer. Since I spent so much time perusing his work and referenced it quite a bit in my thesis, it was v. exciting to hear him speak. Most of his speech revolved around the difference between 'Cezannes' and 'Picassos'--or rather, experimental innovators and conceptual innovators. Cezanne's best works came when he was in his sixties, after years and years of painting, while Picasso peaked in his late twenties. Other genres have similar examples (Twain vs. Fitzgerald, Fleetwood Mac vs. Guns 'n' Roses, etc.), and Gladwell believes that the same comparisons and lessons can be drawn in corporations. Some corporations, like Apple or the Detroit Big Three, rely on brilliant concepts that appear in a flash and revolutionize the world (iPod, the SUV), while other corporations, like Dell or the Japanese car makers, spend decades iterating through variations until they find the recipe for success. Gladwell stressed the importance of finding balance between experimentation and conceptualization, which I personally found rather fascinating. It also made me wonder what kind of innovator I am, and whether I am going to peak in my twenties (perhaps tonight with the luminary award), or if I will slowly build up to greatness late in life. Only time will tell, but now it's time to go to bed!

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

jonestown part two

If they keep saying that I work for a company that is 'truly to die for', I'm going to have to steadfastly refuse any offers of Kool-aid at the banquet tonight...

o green world

Considering that I'm at the sales conference, which is arguably one of the most fun events put on by my company, I'm in a strangely depressed mood. Actually, perhaps it's not that surprising--after the hangover that I suffered on Sunday (which was compounded by having to drive back in the aftermath of a heavy snowfall on a road full of inept Californians forced to drive slowly by the state's absurd tire-chain requirement, and being forced to buy chains at extortionate prices in order to leave the mountains), I'm in no real mood to drink. I'm also a very all-or-nothing drinker, which I suppose would qualify me as a health risk, but if I'm still able to see clearly at the end of a night of drinking, it was clearly a failure. That's somewhat of an exaggeration--I would consider Saturday night's festivities mostly successful (due almost entirely to Circle of Death, my favorite drinking game), despite the fact that I was still able to see and reason at the end of it, but I do wish that it had been a bit more hardcore so that I could have felt deserving of my hangover.

Anyway, Saturday is not the point. The point is that the sales conference is half motivational, half depressing, and I'm fluctuating wildly between those two extremes. When I'm swallowing the corporate line, it's all lovely, and the stuff that we talk about is really interesting. But then, I start analyzing too much, and I begin to wonder what I'm doing in a sales organization to begin with, and that leads to the larger question of what I'm doing in corporate America and, if corporate America isn't what I want, what it is that I should do instead. This is all compounded by the fact that I have some really good friends within the expat community from Hyderabad, as well as a handful of friends from the California office, but I'm always worried that those friendships are context-specific. I'm shy by nature (until I get to know you, and then it's no-holds-barred insanity), so I don't have a great time in crowds of casual acquaintances, which is what this entire experience is. If that's what corporate America always is, I definitely don't want it, but I have no idea what's next.

I went to the arranged dinner tonight, and the group that I went with happened to include my friend Sarah, so I had a really good time there. Now, though, rather than going out with people from my department, I'm writing this blog post, which I'll post when I get online at the conference tomorrow. Then, I'm going to go to bed and dream of a day when I'll have more certainty in my life.

Also, I'm going to have an announcement to make in the next few days, which is probably the worst-kept secret in the history of my career, but stay tuned for details if you haven't heard yet.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

[insert random techno song here]

I'm sitting in the middle of the sales conference, waiting for the activities to begin. I got up to San Francisco last night, after an abbreviated day caused by a) sleeping until noon and b) a long lunch with Claudius. I'm staying in the Marriott with Arod, who's back from the India office for an unfortunately-short trip; we went to the opening reception and a later party, before hanging out in our room with Chris until bedtime.

Now the conference is beginning, but I wanted you all to know that I'm alive. I'll write later!

Friday, January 13, 2006

based on a true story

Tomorrow, I am leaving work, rendezvous'ing with Tammy, Jasmine, and Michael, and driving up to Tahoe for a weekend of fun and chaos in the snow. I'm coming back Sunday morning, though, because I have to do laundry and pack in anticipation of the sales conference next week. I'm concerned about my liver's ability to survive the next week, but I've pulled it off for the past two years, so hopefully this year won't be any different.

Tonight, I went to the airport with some of the former India expats to greet a bunch of Hyderabadis who were arriving for the sales conference. It was awesome to see them, and I'm so excited to hang out with them next week. I must say that it was strange to see so many people from my India experience in the States, but I'm so happy that a bunch of them got to come. So, the next week promises to be a blast.

The previous few days have been pretty uneventful; I had a nice veg dinner with Adit, Sri, and Vidya on Tuesday night, followed by latenight at Lag Dining w/Shedletsky, Tammy, Can Sar, and Joanna. I *really* need to stop going back to latenight, since it just makes me feel uncomfortable...but then again, I can't get chicken strips o' fire anywhere else. Now it's time for me to sleep, since I have to get to work early tomorrow and wrap up all the stuff that I won't get done over the weekend. Goodnight!

Tuesday, January 10, 2006


Tonight, Sri and I went to the glorious restaurant known as Taco Bell, where I had not one, but *two* baja chicken chalupas. Mmmmmm. Actually, I had the second chalupa in the movie theatre, since I talked too much while eating the first one and so made us almost late for the movie. And which movie did we see, you may ask? We saw 'Syriana', which I liked quite a bit. Granted, there were some moments when I wished that Matt Damon would stop being ineffectual and start killing people, but overall I liked it. Like 'Munich' it was frustrating because it seemed that most of the actions of the characters were completely futile; unlike 'Munich', it seemed that the only reason that anyone had for rationalizing their bad behavior was personal greed. Oh, well, I could use some personal greed right now, since I just spent several hundred dollars getting my brakes fixed--the good news is that they no longer squeal when I apply pressure, but the bad news is that I am annoyed that I went shopping yesterday. But, life goes on, especially since now I won't have a catastrophic brake malfunction. And, hanging out with Sri immediately made me feel better, since he's v. amusing.

Today was my first day in my new office, and it was lovely. As mentioned before, I actually have a real office; it has floor-to-ceiling windows, so I get tons of natural light. The bathroom contains those crazy Japanese toilets with the heated seats and the aquatechnics that will clean you automatically if you let them, but I haven't worked up the courage or the desire to try them. Given past tendencies, I'm sure that I'll lose my lovely office at some point in the near future--this is approximately my eleventh desk switch in the past two and a half years, and I'm actually kinda far below average in that respect. As a veteran of the move game, I didn't bother to unpack everything, and I kept the boxes so that I can pack them up again when the time comes. Now it's time for bed so that I can get to the office early and then get out before the air becomes superheated and roasts my flesh (like that crazy volcano planet Crematoria in 'The Chronicles of Riddick'--actually, nothing at all like that, because that was the lamest thing I've ever seen). Goodnight!

Monday, January 09, 2006

i'm in the mood for you...or for running away

I had a pretty good weekend, although I didn't accomplish nearly enough. Friday night, I had dinner with Lauren and Josh, my India expat friends; I'd seen Lauren in the office in December, but I hadn't seen Josh since I left India in October. We went to Fiesta del Mar, so I got to reconnect with them over delicious enchiladas suizas. It was great to see both of them, and to remind myself that friendships don't necessarily have to end when the circumstances around them change. I probably should have gone to the city instead, since Chris was in town and I would have loved to have seen him, but I was feeling lazy and didn't really want to drive up. Sadness. Since I was rather tired, I ended up going to bed shortly after returning from dinner, so it's probably a good thing that I didn't go to SF, or else I might have taken an unintentional (and potentially fatal) nap on the 280.

On Saturday, Tammy, Claudia and I had dim sum, which was as fantastic as it always is. I sat around for most of the afternoon and rubbed my overly-full tummy. Claudius made eggplant parmesan (or rather, eggplant mozzarella, in an attempt to get rid of the huge block of cheese I bought when making lasagna), which was quite tasty. We lazed about during the evening, watching a History Channel documentary about the apocalypse, followed by four hours of 'Law and Order'. My couches really are much too comfortable--they keep me from getting anything done, since it's infinitely preferable to hang out on them and do nothing than it is to motivate myself to complete the tasks on my list.

Today, Zach and I caught the 11:50am matinee of 'Casanova'. I wasn't expecting anything great, although I was hopeful about the prospects of seeing Heath Ledger in a deliciously frothy role; unfortunately, even my low expectations weren't really met. The movie was vaguely amusing, and it wasn't a complete waste of time, but it definitely isn't worth seeing again. I still love Heath Ledger, though. I had a good time with Zach, though, since we continued our tradition of seeing awful movies during early matinees. January and February are prime months for watching crappy movies, so I'm looking forward to the coming weeks.

After the movie, I had a v. late lunch at Quiznos, then went to the mall and bought the odd combination of sunglasses and pajamas. Claudia and I went to a tapas place in Menlo Park for dinner--she introduced me to the unexpected delight of bacon-wrapped dates, which turned out to be amazing. They apparently stuff the dates with chorizo (a spicy sausage), then wrap them in bacon and bake them or fry them, I believe--whatever they do to the them, the dates end of mostly caramelized and extremely flavorful. It made the rest of the meal seem positively boring by comparison. But, the restaurant was intriguing--the decor was classic Spanish, and their wine 'cellar' was on the second floor and visible through panes of glass overlooking the bar, which was an interesting use of space. After tapas, we came home and watched the last half or so of 'Return of the King'--this was in honor of Tammy's departure from our apartment, since we held off watching 'Return of the King' for the entire duration of her visit. That is quite the feat for us, especially since I'd never seen the extended version of the second half of the movie, and Claudia came back from break with a tantalizing review of the deleted scenes. Now, it's probably time for bed, especially since I have to go to work relatively early tomorrow. We switched office building over the weekend, so when I get there tomorrow, I'll have to find my desk, and nothing will be set up in advance. But, in the new building I have an office (even if I am sharing it with another girl), so I'm pretty psyched about that. I mean, having an office is not worth the knowledge that I've sold out to corporate America, but it does soften the blow somewhat.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

the owner himself went to italy to purchase a pizza oven

It's been days and days since I've updated. Sorry 'bout that. Here are the highlights:

1) New Years Eve in Des Moines. Katie and I had a fantastic time at the radio-station-hosted party that we went to; unfortunately, that fantastic time was far too lubricated with alcohol. I think I hit a new low point in my life when, at three a.m., the pizza that we ordered arrived at the hotel, and I stiffed the delivery guy by accident. I went down to the lobby barefoot, wearing my pajamas and my pink fur-trimmed bomber jacket, and I'm almost positive that I only gave him $15 for a $19.87 bill. The worst part is that I told him to keep the change. Clearly if I did give him $15, it's his fault for not calling me on it--he looked like he was some homeless dude they drafted off the streets to deliver pizza on New Years. Anyway, Katie refused to wake up, so I ate half the pizza by myself while watching 'Larry King Live'. I was still pretty happy...

2) New Years Day. I stopped being happy when I awoke in a haze of pain and nausea. My foot was bleeding from an unremembered nighttime injury, my head was spinning, and my stomach was rebelling against all those double vodka cranberries. Katie and I tried having breakfast, and she succeeded, but I had a lone strawberry and one bite of fried potato before returning to my room to throw up. Between the bloodstains on the floor and the (I think successfully flushed) vomit in the toilet, I officially turned my bathroom into a biohazard. But, I made it home in time for lunch with my sister and her kids, and I was actually pretty well recovered by then, which made me able to enjoy the chicken and noodles that my mother made.

3) Trip Back to Cali. This was miserable. My flight from Des Moines to Minneapolis was so delayed that it was actually going to leave after the flight that was supposed to be later, so they bumped me to the later flight (which was now earlier). I got to Minnesota four minutes before my next flight was supposed to leave. With my bleeding, swollen foot, I quickly limped all the way across the freaking airport in hopes that I hadn't missed it. I made it just in time to sit on the runway for 45 minutes. Awesome.

4) Tammy. Tammy's staying with me and Claudia for a few days, which is super fun. Right now we're watching 'Iron Chef'--the secret ingredient was crab, and so we got to watch chefs try to make desserts out of crab. There's nothing like crab and lemon sorbet to really cleanse the palate at the end of a meal, eh?

5) Digging Plastic Out of My Foot. Last night, I decided that my foot should have started healing if there wasn't anything embedded in it--the fact that it was still occasionally bleeding and was swollen and painful after four days clearly meant that someone was wrong. So, I sterilized a needle and a pair of tweezers, used my cellphone flashlight to illuminate the surgical area, and spent ten minutes prodding into the wound looking for intruders. I was successful in my quest, after doing some pushing to get the foreign object closer to the open wound--and I pulled out a shard of sharp, pointed plastic an eighth of an inch long. I almost threw up after getting it out, since it was so appalling to think about the fact that it was slowly carving a path through my foot with every step that I had taken over the previous four days. But, my foot felt better immediately, and I awoke today to discover that the swelling was gone and I could walk on it without pain. Yay!

6) Coffee With Vidya. I only mention this because I know that she'll use ctrl-f to see if I mentioned her, since I saw her today. It was quite enjoyable, though.

Okay, that's all. Seeing Katie was fabulous, spending time with my family was fantastic, and it's hard coming back to California when I have so much to do :( Now, though, it's time to go to bed!