Monday, July 31, 2006

haemoglobin is the key

According to my handy-dandy spreadsheet, which contains a detailed list of everything that resided in storage for the past few months, I have the following things yet to unpack:

* three tubs of clothing
* two tubs of bedding
* my stereo
* one box of books and journals
* two boxes of shoes
* seven boxes of random decorations and mementos
* two boxes of electronics
* one box of DVD cases
* one box of hair styling equipment (replete with pink beehive wig)
* two boxes of random stuff

This all seems like a lot, but I've successfully unpacked all of my kitchen stuff, put up my ridiculously-frustrating Ikea shelves, and unpacked nine boxes of books. The apartment is quickly taking shape!

In other news, I had a great idea for a book today, but I'm not going to share it with you--you'll have to wait until it gets published, so don't hold your breath :) I also had an impromptu, v. nice lunch with Subz (real name: Lauren) today; I'm still surprised that so many of my 'summer friends' from India turned into real friends, and so I'm reveling in my suddenly-expanded friendship base. They're all about as crazy as my 'real' friends, so it's no wonder that I developed such a strong bond with them--you have to be slightly insane to agree to move to India for 6+ months. Speaking of India, I'm leaving for that lovely place in less than two weeks! I can't freaking wait.

Now I suppose I should go to bed so that I can drag myself out of my lovely bed at six a.m. and enjoy a morning full of conference calls. I can't complain too much, though, since I'll have to leave around noon to come back to the apartment and wait for the Comcast guy. Consequently, tomorrow should be a v. good day. Goodnight!

round here, something radiates

You may have noticed a change in scenery around here. Since I'm back in the United States on a semi-permanent basis, the color has reverted to pink. Also, 'swampler the dubliner' is not exactly appropriate anymore. I was trying to think of a name the other day whilst walking to lunch with Matt, Vidya, and Claudia; Vidya was a fan of 'Swampy Swampleface', which she likes to call me for inexplicable reasons. Then, Matt mentioned that he likes to call me 'Swamplor' because it makes me sound like an evil killer robot. Someone (I believe it was Claudia) pointed out that this was a good pun, since she originally heard 'Swamp Lore'. Et voila, 'Swampy's Swamp Lore' was born. The 'lore' part seems appropriate considering the stories I tell here, and 'swampy' is appropriate because no one calls me Sara anymore. If you have other suggestions, feel free to share.

Today was a great day. I woke up at 8:30ish, met the movers at my storage place at 9:30, and was fully moved to my apartment by around 11am. Yes, hiring movers is more expensive than doing it myself, but I can't really do it myself without renting a truck and coercing a bunch of friends into a rather unpleasant day; this method ensured that all of my stuff reached my apartment v. quickly and without causing any friendship rifts. Also, one of the movers hit on me, which was thoroughly amusing. I had already been eyeing him, because he was frankly the best-looking of the three and had some nice (but not too overdeveloped) musculature that showed to its advantage as he hauled all my stuff around. Since I had nothing better to do than watch the movers (having foolishly left my magazine in the car while hanging out at the storage place), I had watched them as discreetly as possible. Then, back at the apartment, the guy told me that I had beautiful eyes (thank you, Nars, for your fantastic plummy eyeshadows!). He also asked me on his next trip through the kitchen whether I'm living here with my boyfriend, and when I said that I had no boyfriend, he asked me why not. I didn't want to say that I'm an antisocial freak with an aversion to commitment, so I just said that I'd been away. This all made me feel warm and fuzzy inside, despite the obvious fact that the guy was probably a man-whore--I mean, he had stripped down to his wifebeater while the other two guys left on their regulation t-shirts, he was wearing a regular belt over his low-slung jeans rather than the regulation heavy-lifting back-support belt that the others were sporting, and he even had a short ponytail. Essentially, he was the ultimate suburban-housewife fantasy. This probably works well for him, but (as I told Claude later), I didn't even have sheets on my bed, so he was destined to strike out with me. Regardless, I was in quite the chipper mood, and all of my stuff was in my apartment before noon. Score!

I amazed myself with my work ethic this afternoon; while I may do tons at the office, I hate doing stuff around the house, and previous moves have been characterised by my tendency to leave things in boxes for months or years. However, I vow that this one will be different. I unpacked all of my kitchen stuff, and so my kitchen is mostly set up even though I need to run a bunch of dishes through the dishwasher and make a run to the grocery store for some provisions. I also did four loads of laundry at the laundromat down the street. It adjoins a lovely cafe with a huge outdoor seating area that feels rather garden-y, and so I predict that I'll spend some time there drinking iced mochas while waiting for my clothes to dry. So, I talked to my parents, drank my iced mocha, folded all my clothes on the spot (another leaf turned over--usually I just stuff them all in my clothes basket and never bother to fold the underwear, instead preferring to root around in the basket looking for panties amongst the socks until I reach the crisis day when I realise that there aren't any more pairs in the basket, prompting a trip to either the laundromat or Victoria's Secret) and came home.

Tonight was the first time I've made a bed in almost six months. Sure, I've occasionally tidied up the bedclothes on the days when it wasn't made for me by the housekeeper, but I haven't actually started from scratch and put the sheets on the bed myself. Judging by the massive, painful bruise I have on my left wrist, I'm going to be a danger to myself unless I quickly regain my bedmaking skillz. Actually, I'm exaggerating; the bruise is just as nasty as I proclaimed it to be, but I got it because I decided to reorient my bed before making it, which involved moving the mattress and box spring, and when I put the box spring back into position, I managed to scrape up my wrist. But, pretending that it came from making the bed makes for a better story. I'm so excited to sleep, though; my bed in Dublin was a complete jhoke. And, I've put one of my Indian bedspreads on it; this one is pink with gold embroidery, like brocade or something, and it's quite lovely.

Okay, bedtime for me; I want to be productive at work tomorrow so that I can leave in relatively good time and put up my bookshelves. Goodnight!

Saturday, July 29, 2006

come to decide that the things that i tried were in my life just to get high on

I'm feeling rather agonised tonight, perhaps because it's after one a.m. and I've barely slept this week. Or perhaps it's because I just finished reading a romance novel, which simultaneously reminds me of all of my failings on the novelist front and all of my failings on the relationship front. Or maybe, just maybe, it's because I don't know what I want with my life, and seem no closer to knowing than when I graduated from college three years ago.

In that time, I have lived in six different apartments, not counting the various places I slept when I was homeless while temping and homeless while waiting to go to Ireland. I've had five different roommates in the States, and another ten or so in foreign countries. I have been to four continents in the past year, and lived in three of them. I got my passport fifteen months ago and only have four blank pages left. I have acquired a shocking amount of stuff and have one of the best-stocked kitchens this side of thirty. I've made friends, lost friends, regained friends, and perhaps grown up just a little bit. I've driven 1800 miles on I-80 twice in three months. I've slept a lot, worked a lot, drank a bit too much (but no more than is usual for my age), listened to a lot of bad music, and seen David Hasselhoff live in concert. I've gotten better about being assertive with customer service representatives, both in person and over the phone. I have an excellent credit score and have begun to think about retirement (although this will not stop me from buying a plasma-screen TV if I succumb to temptation this weekend). I have started taking better care of my skin, although this statement is contradicted by the intense peeling process currently underway on my sunburned shoulder. I dress more professionally at work, provided that I have done laundry in the recent past, and I intend to start blowdrying my hair more often for extra polish. I am poised and confident with managers. My career is moving in the 'right' direction even though I haven't set any real career goals. I enjoy a deep and satisfying relationship with my parents, siblings, and other family members, particularly when I have time to call them. I can organise a dinner party or gathering for any number of people without panicking.

Despite all that, tonight is not a good night. Most days, I'm perfectly content, even happy, sometimes even blissfully happy; but there are nights (it always seems to be nights) when I doubt myself and wonder whether I'm on the right track. Part of the problem is that I can't quantify the track and don't have a map for it, which terrifies the structure-loving parts of my soul. But, the freedom-loving parts of my soul trump the structure, for whatever reason; I can commit to structures of my own design, but not to others' structures, and so I'm rebelling against the traditional life even though the structure that I would create for myself would probably have most of the standard elements--husband, kids, house, cars, lovely kitchen, nice career, vacations to exotic locales, etc., etc. I want my life to be something vibrant, something breathtaking, something that will make other people look at it and be amazed at my creative and daring. I've taken a rather boring job for an admittedly-excellent company and turned it into the most satisfying thing that I could, which seems to be my typical modus operandi--pick something that is a poor fit for me (i.e. the flute, Symbolic Systems, corporate America), and try to turn it into the thing that I should have done in the first place (which explains why I picked up the cymbals as a side-project, turned my major into a weird hybrid revolving around social psychology and history, and wrung a surprising amount of travel out of my relatively-stationary job).

Anyway, I don't regret that my life is so absurd and ridiculous, but as I have probably mentioned before (for those of you who are dedicated readers), there are times when I do wonder if I should be a bit more conventional. For one, I'm really tired of making friends and then saying goodbye to them; I'm missing too many people right now, separated from them by time, distance, misunderstanding, or some combination of the three. And yet, I can't help but get excited about the possibility of leaving again, even though the ink on my one-year lease is barely dry. The topic came up several times in the past week in relation to three different offices, and the first thing I felt was a racing heart, followed by a surge of desire, followed by a blast of cold water as I forcibly reminded myself that I am not moving again and that I want to stay put for awhile. This doesn't bode well for my ability to switch to a conventional life even if I wanted to; I've been back less than two weeks. I really *am* happy to be back, and I really *do* want to stay here, but there's a rebellious part of me that's already fidgeting.

For another, I find myself missing college, and yet it already feels like a dream; it's slipped away to the shadows, and I get brief, intense flashes of memory that only serve to remind me of the past without providing me with a method for reclaiming it. I don't think I really miss college, but I do miss feeling like I didn't have to make any decisions. I'm now at the point where I need to make some decisions, and I don't have the luxury of knowing that I'm committed to schooling for x more years. At least college was safe and highly entertaining, even if it didn't pay very well at the time.

Okay, enough of my ramblings. I'm having trouble articulating my thoughts, and the sunshine will banish them anyway. This is the weekend for cleaning the apartment and moving all of my stuff out of storage; wish me luck!

Thursday, July 27, 2006

and the memories of me will feel more like bad dreams

I had a really good day today, all things considered; the 'things considered' would include that I got here at seven a.m. and left at seven p.m. But, in between, I had lunch with Claude, Vidya, and Matt, thus combining two previously-distinct areas of my life. Vidya and I grabbed some frozen yogurt from the new frozen yogurt machine in my building's cafeteria, which was pretty sweet (literally! har har). I also confirmed the order of a patio set from Crate and Barrel (ridiculous--but I ended up getting the floor model, which saved some serious cash that I can now use on other silly purchases). They solved the dilemma that I discussed in excruciating detail yesterday by finding the same set at a Crate and Barrel a little farther away, which could provide delivery sometime next week. Between the movers arriving on Sunday, the patio furniture and the Comcast guy arriving on Tuesday, and the TV that I intend to buy in the next couple of weeks, my new apartment is really taking shape! None too soon, either; I'm getting tired of sleeping on an air mattress and spending all of my time at the office out of sheer boredom.

Tonight, I had sushi with Claude, and we ended up catching up for a couple of hours as the remnants of eel and crunchy crab slowly became less appetizing in front of us. It was really nice; I hadn't had the chance to see her by herself for much time since I got back to California (which was less than two weeks ago, shocker). I really do have my life back now, which is great. Now, I'm going to go back to my unfurnished apartment, curl up on my air mattress, and sleep until it's time to get up for my 7:30am conference call. Then it's the weekend, and I can't wait! I'm going to sleep in until at least nine on Saturday, and it's going to rock. Goodnight!

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

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

I'm freakin' tired, but things are good. I've nearly recovered from the awful sunburn that I acquired in Emeryville, and the pain no longer wakes me up at night, which is a definite improvement over Sunday and Monday night. I went to Crate and Barrel tonight, which is a good way to blow lots of money; the guy there actually suggested that I get a part-time job there so that I can get 30% off. A part of me seriously considered it, except I don't know how I would swing a part-time job on top of the equivalent of two full-time jobs that I already work for my current employer. Sigh.

Anyway, I got a teapot at Crate and Barrel that I've wanted for over a year; when I gave Claude my old teapot (a blue ceramic one) upon my move to Dublin, I was fully aware that my motivation was only partially altruism--I recognised that I would need to replace the teapot when I returned, and I could replace it with the cool clear glass teapot that I'd had my eye on for months. Clever me! I also purchased an egg platter to hold my devilled eggs in all their glory, since it drives me nuts to serve eggs on a plate that allows them to slide around. Yes, I'm compulsive.

Finally, I tried to order patio furniture, which turned into some drama; the chairs are available but the table is backordered, and I could get it all shipped from the warehouse for $70 when the table arrives at the warehouse, but it could take up to a month. Meanwhile, they said that they had the table and chairs in stock in the Palo Alto store (which is where I was), but I have no way to get those items to my apartment on my own. So, we spent ten minutes discussing various schemes, and I'm going to call my moving company tomorrow to see if my move can include a stop at Crate and Barrel. Then, they went back to the storeroom to verify availability, and it turns out that some bastard has a hold placed on their last two tables and all ten of their chairs. He's apparently had the hold for longer than they would normally allow, so I'm hoping that they'll call him tomorrow and tell him that he has to give them up, so that then I'm back to the problem of transportation rather than the problem of backordering.

It's funny that I'm trying to furnish a place that I don't have any time to see, but I think I would spend more time there if I had internet and the ability to cook and someplace to sit other than my air mattress. The movers are coming on Sunday (or earlier if other availability opens up), and then my life can get back on track. Yay! Just in time for my trip to India...I leave in sixteen days. Now it's time to go home and go to bed; goodnight, everyone!

Sunday, July 23, 2006

come on try a little, nothing is forever

I don't have internet in my new place, which should explain the dearth of posts; also, I've been working constantly, so I haven't really wanted to stick around the extra fifteen minutes necessary to write a blog post after wrapping up every night. Too bad, eh?

But, I am rapidly resettling into my former life; in fact, as I have said to some of my friends, it just feels like Ireland was one 12-week-long 'day' at work, and that now I'm off work and able to hang out. Not that I'm really able to hang out; I was in the office from 7am to midnight on Wednesday, and I've worked similarly-crazy hours the rest of the week as well. I have made efforts to live solely on adrenaline, and they've panned out; I had dinner with Ritu/Vidya/Roopa/Claudia/Geetha on Tuesday, worked for seventeen hours on Wednesday (with a break to sign my lease and buy an air mattress and a towel), had dinner with Ritu/Renee/Vidya/Sri/Claude/Geetha/Stephen on Thursday, and had coffee with Ritu/Vidya/Claude on Friday morning. All of that hanging out with Ritu was v. necessary, since I hadn't seen her in over a year and she was only in the Bay Area until Friday. It was great to see her, and we reconnected effortlessly, so hopefully I will see more of her in the near future.

Yesterday was a beautiful day; Claudia, Oniel and I went to Emeryville to visit John and Vince. We were supposed to go to Half Moon Bay for a barbecue, but John claimed that traffic was terrible, and so lured us to a park near his apartment instead. All in all, this was a great choice; it was overlooking the Emeryville Marina, so we could still see water, but we didn't get stuck in traffic on Highway 92. We ate tasty sausages, sat around, played Parcheesi and some card games, and spent six hours basking in the sunlight, which contributed to today's nasty sunburn. We had a late dinner at Pizza My Heart, a strangely fitting choice. All in all, we could have had exactly the same experience in Palo Alto, and so we're going to have to trade off in the near future.

Today, I had a surprise breakfast with Vidya, then met Irish Matt in San Francisco, where we did a bit of shopping before heading back down to the Peninsula. We were supposed to go to beach, but traffic was severely backed up, so we just had drinks at two different cafes instead. I dropped him off at his hotel, came to the office, did some work, and now I'm blogging.

This is the worst blog post ever. I'm sorry it's so boring; I think the heat is frying my brains. It's also making me use too many semi-colons; but, I love them! So, I'm going to cool off by going to Target and looking at patio furniture. One day soon I'll change the look of my blog and write something more interesting, but it ain't gonna happen now. Goodnight!

Thursday, July 20, 2006

happy 20th july!!

I haven't written in ages, and I sincerely apologise...but I've been rather busy getting settled back in, and was in the office until almost midnight last night (I really need to set some boundaries on my time if I'm working in one office for another office, since both offices seem to expect full days from me). Anyway, I just wanted to wish you all a happy 20th July, on this, the 62nd anniversary of the 20th July 1944 attempt to blow up Adolf Hitler in his bunker at Wolfsschanze. May you have a happy and prosperous day that does not end in you being summarily executed in the courtyard of the Army headquarters on Bendlerstrasse!

Now, back to work, and perhaps I'll write more later!

Saturday, July 15, 2006

road trippin' with my two favorite allies

Okay, so I only have one ally with me (my brother), but my wonderful Pontiac Sunfire almost counts as a second ally, so I feel that the Red Hot Chili Peppers quote is appropriate.

Sorry that I've been incommunicado for the whole week, but I was working from home, and when I wasn't working, I had no desire to play with my laptop. This will change when I get back to California on Monday, I promise! For now, though, suffice it to say that I'm alive, I'm in the same motel in Cheyenne, Wyoming, that I stayed in three months ago, and we're making astonishing progress across the vast wasteland of the Great American West. I'll write more later!

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Brian, Heather, and Salim; I'm not sure that the sun is a traditional design, but it did a good job of taking up space on Salim's shaved head. Posted by Picasa

Nick and Jenni at dinner; the face-painting was rather fun, even if we were all shedding pieces of dried white paint the rest of the night. Posted by Picasa

All of us hanging out at the last winery of the day, with the picture unnecessarily centered on the mountains in the background; I'm pretty sure the driver was drinking too. Posted by Picasa

Heather and Salim; guess which one *wasn't* my manager. Posted by Picasa

Arod :) Posted by Picasa

Brandy-tasting; nothing like three glasses of brandy before lunch! Posted by Picasa

The vineyards of Stellenbosch. Posted by Picasa

Nelson Mandela's prison cell on Robben Island. Posted by Picasa

The group (sans Heather, who was in the front seat) on the safari. Posted by Picasa

I got to pet a cheetah cub--their purrs are amazing. Posted by Picasa

Southern giraffes are shorter than northern giraffes, but they're still taller than me. Posted by Picasa

I came v. close to finding out what sound the lion makes when it's mating, which I'm sure sounds much more interesting and visceral than the tortoises. Posted by Picasa

Seeing lions v. close to you, with nothing but a bit of tarp and Arod between you and certain death, is quite exciting! Posted by Picasa

Zebras are pretty sweet. Posted by Picasa

Rhinoceros! We got to hold rhino dung, which isn't as disgusting as it sounds; it's basically a big hunk of grass. You just have to ignore the fact that it came out of a rhino's ass. Posted by Picasa

My oldest Stanford friends may remember the wildebeest game--I was thrilled to see one in real life, but didn't feel like explaining my inner happiness to those around me. Posted by Picasa

Look how happy the group is--we almost had a mutiny after our Sunday plans were thrown off when we discovered that the Robben Island ferry was sold out, but the group dynamic recovered after a trip to the aquarium and a delicious dinner (even if dinner wasn't at The Codfather). Posted by Picasa

San Francisco is ridiculously far away from South Africa! Posted by Picasa

I wanted people to eat at The Codfather purely for the amusement that the pun afforded me, but I was shot down. Posted by Picasa

Cape Town has lovely ocean views; we didn't even get carjacked after stopping to take this picture! Posted by Picasa

The view over the infinity pool towards the Atlantic. Posted by Picasa

The mansion's dining room; this is where I went 'out' most nights. Each corner is like a different bar! Posted by Picasa

Me and Arod's lovely Chinese-style bedroom. Posted by Picasa

Friday, July 07, 2006

hello ireland

So, I'm not in Iowa. It's funny that I wasn't able to stay in Dublin when I wanted to, and now I can't get out. I was halfway to the airport this morning when the taxi service radioed all drivers to say that there had been another bomb scare at the Dublin airport, and that the place had been evacuated and no cars were being allowed into the area. There had been a couple of bomb scares in the past week and a half that were both hoaxes, but security wasn't taking any chances, possibly also because today was the anniversery of the London tube bombings. I ended up coming back to my apartment, waking up my roommate to be let back in (since I had dropped my keys in my mailbox upon my departure), and then going to the office for the day. I've already lost my desk there, so I just ended up sitting at any available desk in the general vicinity of my old one, feeling like a complete transient. I'm going to try to get home again tomorrow...but we all know how much the Irish love their bombs, so who knows how long it will be before I can get out of here!

Anyway, I would blog about South Africa tonight, but I want to go to bed. If I'm not in the US the next time I blog, I'm going to be a sad panda :(

Thursday, July 06, 2006

social butterfly

I made it back from Cape Town in one piece--one deliciously-relaxed and yet simultaneously-exhausted piece. I will post a full update when I'm back in Iowa. I've been back in Dublin for 4 hours, have successfully repacked (I think--we'll see how it goes when I show up at the airport tomorrow), and have come into the office for an hour or so. Now I'm going out for drinks, followed by more drinks, followed by a nap, followed by a flight from Dublin-Chicago-Des Moines. When I write again, I'll be in the United States!

Monday, July 03, 2006

bless the rains down in africa

I'm still in South Africa, and it's still awesome; we went on a safari today and saw all kinds of cool animals. Tomorrow we're celebrating the Fourth of July with an all-day winetasting tour, which seems rather appropriate. Then, I leave Wednesday night to go back to Dublin! I'm sad that my vacation is ending so quickly--I'm having a fabulous time, even if I am completely exhausted right now. The pace doesn't seem likely to lighten up anytime soon, and yet I find it difficult to be upset about that.

Now that you know I'm still alive, I'm going to go hang out again; if you live in Iowa, you may see me again before you hear from me. Take care!