Tuesday, February 27, 2007

i've changed my name to novocaine

What a weird day! First off, I got to work at 6:30am, which is about four hours earlier than I like to go in; we had switched buildings over the weekend, and since I had asked my team to come in early, I figured that I should do the right thing and go in early as well. My new office is amazing--it's a corner, which I'm sharing with Gyre, and we have floor-to-ceiling windows on two walls. It's also big enough that he's going to bring in his old papasan to put in the corner for visitors or small meetings. And, there's a perfect spot on the wall for my Bon Jovi poster, once it stops raining long enough for me to bring it into the office from my car.

The office is so perfect that, when the sun came up and the clouds briefly cleared, I saw a rainbow! Isn't that special? What wasn't so special was that I stayed at work until ten p.m., when I couldn't take it anymore since I had been there for almost sixteen hours. Actually, that's a lie; I took around an hour off in the afternoon to pick up some jeans from the tailor and to get the oil changed in my car. I was depressed after getting my oil changed because when I told the proprieter (a cute old Asian man) to have a nice day, he said, 'what?', and after I repeted myself, he said, 'I didn't understand you, most people don't tell me to have a nice day.' How sad is that?! Where have our manners gone? This guy is so nice--he was even apologizing to me for how much I had to pay because I had asked them to replace my wiper blades and because my car takes a special oil filter. How can people not occasionally wish him a nice day?

So, I went back to the office, briefly mulled over the impending downfall of humanity, and promptly lost myself in some massive spreadsheets and datasets. It was appropriately frigid in my office and I skipped dinner, so it felt like I might be in some sort of Soviet gulag, underfed and frostbitten, only I was chopping numbers rather than timber. Is that melodramatic enough for you?

When I got home, I played with my Rosetta Stone Russian software, which was fun, and now I'm going to bed. I wasn't going to blog, but I wanted to record one final mishap--I was rocking out too hard to Bon Jovi's 'Always' while getting ready for bed, and this caused me to drop a brand-new, just-opened, $9 bottle of contact lens cleaner in the toilet. Since the cap was off, there was no salvaging it, so I pulled it out with a pair of tongs and disgustedly threw it away. It was my last bottle, too, so I have to buy more tomorrow. Have I learned my lesson about playing music in the bathroom? Definitely not--although I will perhaps close the toilet lid next time. Now, it's time for bed!

Sunday, February 25, 2007

just a small-town boy born a rolling stone

Today, I woke up late, laid in bed reading the news for awhile, then had a leisurely brunch at Mike's Cafe. Their veggie casserole is truly delicious, because it's heavy on the potatoes, black beans, cheese, onions, mushrooms, tomatoes, and sour cream--note that only the onion is really a vegetable, which may be why I like it. Granted, I asked them to hold the spinach, which made it even less vegetably. Anyway, I hung out there and wrote in my journal, then got my car washed, then came home and cleaned my living room (mostly by throwing piles of clothes into my bedroom, so I suppose I need to clean my bedroom tomorrow night), then talked to my parents.

My last errand of the afternoon was to install my newly-procured Rosetta Stone software. I want to learn Russian, and I've been intrigued by the Rosetta Stone software since I was first working with their online ads oh-so-many years ago. I got a random offer via email for 10% off and a free microphone headset in honor of Valentine's Day (strange holiday for them to honor, but whatever), so I ordered it. I went through a couple of quick early lessons; luckily I already remembered the words for 'dog' and 'man' (funny that they go together in my mind), and I know the alphabet, so I'm probably way ahead of the curve for a beginner. Not that I'm really *that* far ahead of the curve, but already knowing the alphabet is a huge plus. I'm looking forward to it, so I'll let you know how it goes.

Claude showed up a little after five, and we made our way to San Francisco to watch the Oscars at Vidya's place. Once there, I ate a ton of chips with salsa con queso (aka nasty processed liquid cheese, and by nasty I mean delicious) and tried to hear what was going on over the ridiculous chitchat taking place in the room. Vidya drank herself silly, which was quite funny since the rest of us were somewhere on the continuum between 'dead sober' and 'tipsy' (well, except for Claude, who is currently asleep on my couch). There were no surprises in any of the awards, to the best of my knowledge, and so it was probably a good thing that they were enlivened by Vidya's antics and the appearance of Tom and Julie. Julie's quite winning and says the most ridiculous things (she asked if Clint Eastwood was 'the guy in those National Lampoon movies' [aka Chevy Chase]), so fun was had by all. Claude and I came home, and since she fell asleep I got to surreptitiously keep turning up the volume on the stereo and sing my heart out to Bon Jovi, so I was quite happy. Now, I need to go to bed--I have to be at work by ~6:15, which is in seven hours, so I should really sleep!

sleepless nights--losing ground, i'm reaching for you

I saw a funny thing this afternoon. After the class that I took today, I went into Palo Alto and had a rather expensive cappuccino at this cafe on University that paid to train all of its baristas in Venice. Their training ensures that your cappuccino takes a long time for them to make because they try to make artistic patterns with the foam on top. Luckily the coffee also tastes very good, so I didn't feel completely ripped off, even though I had to sit outside in the cold due to a dearth of interior tables. Sitting outside turned out to be worth it, because I just happened to see the moment when a woman was carrying her ~8-month-old on her shoulders, and the kid drooled/vomitted all over her hair so that it ran down her face and onto her sweater. It was AWESOME, and made me never want to have a kid. The woman seemed to take it in stride, and her husband helped wipe her up; and they both seemed to react pretty calmly when they saw that the kid had the same vomity mess coming out of his nostrils, while I was staring in open shock and wonder.

It was definitely the best moment of the day--although it was possibly rivalled by when Claude told me, Vidya, and Renee the entire story of Rumpelstiltskin in CPK. I was expressing chagrin again over the fact that Vidius calls me 'swamplestiltskin', and I finally put into words that the reason it bothers me is probably because Rumpelstiltskin is a ridiculous little dwarf who dances around in premature glee before being robbed of something that really should have belonged to him. Does this mean that Vidya will stop calling me Swamplestiltskin? Probably not. Luckily I didn't get stuck with Santa Claude, so things could be worse.

So about the class--I took this class on the business of writing through Stanford Continuing Studies today. It was six hours, which was a somewhat unwelcome distraction on a Saturday; I signed up for it long before I got my new responsibilities at work, and so used to be much less busy than I am now. I really just wanted to sleep today, but I dragged myself to campus. I was glad that I did if only because I was forced to think about writing again, but in some respects it would have been easier if I had left my head buried in the sands of business instead of contemplating another path.

During the introductions, I said that I was there because I'm trying to decide between an MBA and an MFA (partially true; the other part was that I want to know how to sell my romance novel, but since the teacher is of the 'high-brow' type and spent quite a bit of time talking about his own publication history, which was heavy on short stories and nonexistent on so-called 'genre' fiction, I decided not to raise myself up for potential mockery). Awhile later, one of the other women snuck out to use the restroom, and as she walked past me, she said, 'talk to me about the MBA/MFA'. So, I ran into her during the lunch break, and she spent a few minutes telling me that I should definitely do the MFA instead. She said that she had done the MBA route and had been successful, but that it didn't feed her soul and that she now wishes she had done the MFA, and is also considering going back to school.

Then again, it may not have fed her soul, but it did feed her stomach, and that's not something to be underestimated. I don't know if I'm disciplined enough to be a writer; I work very well for other people, but I'm terrible at working for myself. I would probably have finished my novel ages ago if a publisher had given me a deadline, but I have trouble motivating myself to do the things that I know are good for me.

Anyway, I don't know if the class was all that helpful; if I want to do an MFA or go to a prestigious writers' colony, I need to be writing serious short stories and getting them published in magazines and journals. But, if I'm writing serious short stories, I don't have time to finish the romance novel, and the romance novel is in a much better place than any short stories I've ever tried to write, since I'm just too damn verbose for my own good. I can churn out six thousand words on this blog in no time, but it never feels like I could have something resembling a beginning, middle, and end. So, the dilemma is try to write serious fiction, or finish my romance novel. I'm leaning towards finishing the romance novel--and I also want to work on that Public Storage story that I was working on in my last writing class, but I think the romance novel comes first.

Now is not the time to resolve my life's ambitions, though, although that time probably needs to come fairly soon. Instead, I'm going to go to bed--the rain sounds awesome on my roof and patio right now, so it should lull me to sleep in no time at all. Goodnight!

Friday, February 23, 2007

they're gonna make a movie from the things that they find crawling 'round my brain

Clearly I drank a little too much of the kool-aid at the offsite yesterday, given that it's 11:36pm and I'm still sitting at my desk at work. Around five p.m., I really just wanted to go home, but then I had half a glass of champagne at a team meeting (my group turned five today!) and was feeling just warm enough inside about all of our accomplishments that I decided to power through some stuff. I had a couple of v. productive conversations with people who were still around in the office, settled down to get through a bunch of emails (I sent 25 after six p.m., which doesn't include the work that many of them required), and then packed up my desk since we're switching buildings over the weekend. Suddenly, it's almost midnight, and I don't know where the night went or why I never wanted dinner.

Anyway, since all I did today was work, I have nothing particularly exciting to report. This weekend should be slightly fun; I have plans every night and a class on Saturday, so it probably won't be entirely relaxing, but that's fine. As long as I get to sleep for more than eight hours one night this weekend, I'll be happy--perhaps not satisfied or rested, but happy. Next week looks like it will be more of the same, starting with having to be in the office at 6:15am on Monday--awful!! I'm so glad I don't work someplace where I always have to come in at seven, I would die. And on that cheerful note, it's time to go home and go to bed!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

bai ling makes me vomit

No, Bai Ling is not some strange form of dim sum. Instead, she's this crazy Asian model/drugwhore who shows up at premieres looking ridiculous. Apparently she's an actress-slash-model--she was on 'Lost' tonight in Jack's flashback scenes. Ugh! She's really a terrible actress; by comparison, Jack was almost not annoying in his tendency towards weepiness. Anyway, despite the questionable casting of Bai Ling, I liked tonight's episode well enough; I had trouble concentrating because I was trying to write a v. difficult email, but I'm still interested in the show.

Today was completely freakin' exhausting; I made it to the office by 7:30am, and got home early (!) at 9:45pm. I spent the entire day in San Francisco at our management offsite. It was actually very good, although now I'm thinking in all sorts of corporate-speak; we talked a lot about the differences between players and victims, owning your feedback, pushing back and renegotiating commitments, etc. It's days like today that motivate me to work 12-15 hour days, even when the little part of my soul that wants to get out of business is screaming inside. It will be interesting to see how I adjust to my added responsibilities--I will either get so psyched that I'll work all the time, or I'll burn out, curl up into a ball, and cry. We shall see, we shall see. Now, though, I should go to bed, since I have to be at work early again tomorrow. Goodnight!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

bleh--i can't think of a lyric

Ugh. Seven a.m. conference calls are brutal after a four-day weekend. In fact, while I did manage to drag myself through the shower this morning, I did not manage to put together an outfit that was sufficiently warm, fashionable, or non-wrinkled for my tastes, and so after the call, I came home for fifteen minutes to change and put in my contacts. I felt like a new woman for approximately four hours, until everything came crashing down around my ears and I just felt desperate for a nap.

I did have a break this afternoon from 3-5 for a cheese-tasting offsite; it was actually onsite in a conference room, but the event was led by the San Francisco Cheese Academy (or something). We got to try about eight different cheeses, and test them paired with a couple of different wines and a glass of port. The port was much better than the crap that I drank w/Adit and Claudia, although the fact that I was sitting in a conference room made it somewhat less appealing. Anyway, we got to try a couple of goat cheeses, a delicious cheese made out of raw/unpasturized cow's milk, some sheep cheese, a cheese that was a relative of the infamous tete du moine that nearly drove away all my houseguests last year (therefore, I was the only person at my table who liked it), this really weird orange cheese that looked and sort of tasted like Cheetos, and some Stilton Blue that was surprisingly awesome with a bit of port. Mmm...nothing like cheese and port. Especially nothing like cheese and port when you have to go back and do your annual performance review w/your manager. My performance reviews tend to go strangely; two quarters ago, we did it on a plane on the way to India, while this time, I was hoping that I was sitting far enough away that she couldn't smell the port on my breath. I was by no means even close to intoxicated (it will take more than a few sips of port and half a pound of cheese to destroy me!), but it still felt weird to drink before a review. However, the review went very well, and so I was a happy camper.

I became a sad camper as I realized all that needed to get done tonight. I stayed in the office until 6:45, then came home, gathered all of my dirty clothes, took them to the laundromat, ran to the gas station and the ATM, put my clothes in the dryer, grabbed dinner, picked up my clothes, came home, and worked for the past two hours. Now it's time for me to go to bed--I have to get up at 6:30 tomorrow so that I can get ready and go to the evil city for a management offsite. Wish me luck!

Monday, February 19, 2007

i can't see the thief that lives inside of your head

I just got back from a whirlwind weekend in Iowa. During my <4 days there, I managed to see my entire family, with the exception of my cousin Moriah. As mentioned earlier, I had dinner on Friday w/my dad's siblings, their significant others, and my cousin Andrew. Saturday, my mom's sister came up from St. Louis with her husband, Eli, and Jordan (Mo had to work), and so we celebrated a belated Christmas with them, my sister, and her three kids over supper at a restaurant in Centerville (the same one where Katie's wedding reception was, actually). They also came over for most of the afternoon on Sunday, leaving around the same time that my brother went back to Ames. Today, I woke up, packed, had lunch w/my parents and my grandmother at our favorite dive tavern in the back of the American Legion hall, and then my parents took me to the airport and waved me off. Oh, the only other 'family member' I didn't get to see was my grandmother's peacock, who died on Saturday morning. It was amazing that the peacock survived as long as it did; we reckon it was at least fifteen years old, based on the last time that any of us can remember any peacock hatchlings, and it's been living alone on my grandmother's farm since before my grandfather died. That means it survived through the snows and heatwaves of Iowa without any companionship for at least five years. Anyway, my father and brother dug a four-foot deep hole and buried it, and thus ends our family's line of peacocks (although you can bet that one of us will end up buying some nostalgically in the future).

The weekend was fast, efficient, and effective as far as seeing maximum family with minimum time expenditure. It was also fast, efficient, and effective as far as injecting me with as much Anderson/Erickson Dairy products, since I ate a ton of french-onion dip and also scored some cottage cheese. Mmm. That, plus the baby back ribs, the prime rib, the maidrites (aka loose meat sandwiches), the country-fried steak, and the delicious cheeseburger (with deepfried cheese balls on the side) pretty much topped me up on midwestern food for awhile, so I will probably be content eating salads at work for the next couple of weeks at least.

Now, I'm back in California, and I should really sleep--I have a conference call at seven tomorrow morning, which should be illegal the morning after a long weekend, but there's not much I can do about it. This is going to be a helluva week, considering that I have an all-day offsite Wednesday from 7am to 10pm, plans Thursday night, tentative plans Friday night, and a class at Stanford all day Saturday. Wish me luck!

But finally, to Ritu - are you going to get my money from Admiral Sandecker?

Saturday, February 17, 2007

the music of the night

I got into Des Moines this morning at around eight a.m.; the temperature was a balmy -4 degrees. That was cold enough to freeze the mucus in my nose, which is strangely a feeling that I kind of enjoy. My brother picked me up and took me back to Ames with him, since he had a meeting on campus that he had to attend. We had breakfast, and I had the first country-fried steak that I've had in several years. There's nothing like a battered, fried steak covered in gravy to remind you that you're back in the Midwest. When we got to his apartment, I slept for a few hours, which was v. necessary. Then, we met our family in Des Moines for an early dinner at our favorite restaurant (no, not Long John Silvers--it's a steakhouse on the south side of Des Moines, conveniently located next to an adult sex store). Uncle Mark was there with his wife and kid (who was v. untalkative, since he's now thirteen and so too cool for the rest of us), as was Aunt Becky and her oh-so-scandalous boyfriend (whom I've come to realize is not so scandalous in the morality sense of the word, but is scandalous for the terrible jokes that he makes, and for his obnoxiously-superior attitude toward Southern Iowa, since he hails from the northern/snobbish part of the state). I'm going to go ahead and claim that a good time was had by all; I certainly had a good time, since I enjoyed the conversation and got to have prime rib on top of it. Yum! Also, I thought it was funny that my aunt baked cookies for my brother for valentine's day, but gave me a personal-sized bottle of wine labeled 'relax'. Ha!

After dinner, my parents, brother and I went to the Des Moines Civic Center to see 'Phantom of the Opera'. I haven't done much at the Civic Center before; I think the last time I was there was for the presentation of the 1997 World Food Prize. The Civic Center is connected to Des Moines' amazing system of skywalks (according to wikipedia, there are over 3.5 miles of skywalks connecting the buildings in downtown Des Moines, allowing people to access everything without having to trudge through the snow or the blistering heat). So, we were able to take the skywalk from the parking garage, which was key since my California-procured boots were not made for walking in the snow.

'The Phantom of the Opera' was really good, and the lead singers were excellent. I remembered many of the songs from a medley that my high school choir sang so many moons ago, and so it was great to hear them sung by professionals rather than by slacker teenagers trying to get out of taking a real class. Now, I'm back in my ancestral home, which is freezing; it's ironic that the new house is warmer than the old house (due to radiant heat and better insulation), but it's not done yet and so I can't sleep there. Sigh. I suppose it's time to gird my loins (however you do that) and go to bed. It's one thing to have your mucus freeze in your nose outside, but it's quite another to wake up with a cold nose because your bedroom is cold. Oh, well, c'est la vie. Goodnight!

Friday, February 16, 2007

she took the midnight train going anywhere

Surprise! I'm at the San Francisco airport (which I suppose means I'm in the city of sin, although airports are more like cities of idiocy), getting ready to board a plane to Chicago, where I will hopefully not get stranded before going to Des Moines. I decided to go home for the weekend on a whim, so I'm taking Friday off to get a four-day Presidents' Day Weekend. Isn't that exciting? So, I got to the airport with some time to spare, and I started working with my snazzy special wireless-internet-anywhere card, which was both great and awful. Great because I love technology; awful because the wireless-internet-anywhere card means that I can work all the time. Anyway, it's time for me to go, so I should sign off. Goodnight!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

don't stop believing

I should have come home and worked tonight, but true to my father's premonition, I procrastinated instead. It wasn't entirely my fault--Claude called to see if I wanted to have dinner, and since I was already heating up soup, I invited her over instead, and that resulted in watching a couple of hours' worth of TV with her. She left when 'Lost' came on, since I had warned her that I would have to watch it. 'Lost' was great tonight--they've definitely sucked me back in, alas. Addiction to anything is beyond my ability to manage right now; my company made the wise move of making me so busy that I can't think about anything else, which was smart of them. So, even though I'm beyond busy, I'm also beyond sleepy, so I'm going to go to bed and get a fresh start in the morning.

It's abundantly clear to me, and probably to everyone else who reads this blog, that I thrive in high-pressure, high-risk situations, particularly when the amount of chaos is high and the amount of actual payout is low. I'm just happy as a clam when I have to work 12-14 hours days, because then I feel like a good little capitalist worker bee, instead of fearing that I've turned into the hippie that my family so direly warned about when I moved to California. So, at least until the newness wears off with my new position (btw...my team named themselves 'Swamp Things', but only after I vetoed 'Swampalicious'), I'll probably be quite chipper. It's only when I start looking for another new challenge that things will get bleak. Now, though, it's time for bed!

Editors' Note: to the people discussing the bacon-wrapped figs--I misspoke from sheer exhaustion, and they're actually bacon-wrapped dates. Iberia calls them 'datiles endiablados', for 'devilled dates'. As for what happened to Fig, I do not know--but I need to put the dating show on DVD for posterity.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

always outnumbered, never outgunned

I went to work today, was astonishingly productive, and then came home to make dinner for my friends. Before making dinner, I went back to the tapas place that I went to last night; I discovered that they have a small grocery store attached to the restaurant, open only during the day, which sells chorizos, various Spanish ingredients, cheeses, wines, etc. This was perfect, since I needed chorizo for one of the soups that I was making. I was also able to buy one of my favorite tapas (spinach and garbanzo bean spread) in bulk, and apparently got carried away since my friends ate approximately half of the pint-sized container. I will have to go back there--they also have tapas cooking classes occasionally, which would be a lot of fun.

After procuring my chorizo, I came home and slaved away over a hot stove for a long time. Actually, there wasn't a lot of slaving, but there was a lot of stirring. I made ceci bean and chorizo soup (ceci bean = garbanzo bean = chickpea) for the non-veg crew, and potato/leek soup for the veg crew. The only problem with the ceci/chorizo soup is that if you use dry beans (recommended), they have to soak overnight, and then they take ~2.5 hours to cook, which makes it hard to make after work (and is why I left work early). However, it turned out absolutely delicious, and gave me fond memories of that epic wine tour of Sonoma that I engaged in with Ritu and Maneesh oh so many years ago--I got the recipe from one of the wineries that we stopped at (and at which my friends proceeded to 'accidentally forget to return' their tasting glasses, sigh). I'm guessing the potato soup was also good since I heard no complaints and it was almost gone, but I focused my efforts on the ceci/chorizo since it's been 2.5 years since the last time I made it. Also, as a double bonus, I got to use my fancy immersion blender with *both* soups, so I was in heaven.

I was basically done cooking by the time the first people arrived, and we quite enjoyed family time--Oniel, Adit, Zach, Sri, Peder, and Claude all came, as well as Sri and Adit's friend Katrina, who Adit claimed was one of our 'cousins' in order to make her fit in with family time. We watched some ridiculous show about a crocodile finder named Rom--he was looking for the world's longest crocodile, and he was measuring them in 'Rom units'. A rom unit is six feet, because Rom is six feet tall. That mean's I'm 5/6 Rom, which sounds much better than 5'. Also, after everyone else left, Claude, Adit and I played Worms on my Nintendo DS, which is about as old-school and family-time as it gets for us. It's been seven years since we used to sit around my computer playing Worms (or since I would get home from class only to be told by Adit that I needed to study elsewhere because he was busy playing), and it's nice to know that some things never change.

Now, though, I'm desperately in need of sleep, and I have tons to do at the office tomorrow. Sigh. I am also beyond needing to do laundry; even my infamous months-deep underwear supply is running low, so the situation is becoming critical. Hopefully I can fit it in tomorrow night, but we shall see. Goodnight!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

put the blame on vcr

I made it to work this morning and survived nine hours of meetings (actually, 8 hours of meetings, plus one nice 45-minute chunk in which I ate lunch and checked my email). Then, I met my friend/coworker Sarah at a tapas restaurant (Iberia) in Menlo Park for dinner. We've both been so busy/overscheduled/sick/whatever that we've rescheduled on each other approximately four times, but we managed to pull it together for dinner tonight. I love that tapas place; in particular, they have these chorizo-stuffed, bacon-wrapped figs that are out of this world, and may actually be the single most perfect bite of something that you can ever taste. They are perfectly balanced between the sweet of the figs, the spice of the chorizo, and the salt/fat of the bacon--heaven!

Anyway, we had a good time catching up for a couple of hours; I never see her anymore because she switched departments, and while we ran into each other at the ski trip last week, we didn't exactly have a real conversation (or if we did, it's faded into a pleasant, vodka-y haze). Then, I came home, talked to Claude online for a bit, figured out what I'm making for dinner tomorrow night, went to the grocery store, came home, made a lemon cake, and then started working. Now, it's almost 1:30am, and I desperately need to sleep; tomorrow promises more of the same as today, except it will culminate in 'family time', in which my friends will invade my house to partake of some delicious foodstuffs and discuss all manner of ridiculous things. Yay for friends...and now, goodnight!

Sunday, February 11, 2007

my baby's in love with eddie vedder

This weekend was both fun and exhausting, which makes it both good and bad for my sanity in the upcoming week. Friday night, I went to Doug's to play Mafia and Circle of Death. He had invited over ~12 of his former frosh, and Shedletsky showed up as well. The funny thing was that the kids who were still in college were intent on playing Mafia, while the kids who were graduated (or, in the case of Doug, should be graduated), wanted to play a drinking game. So, we played mafia while Doug's frosh were there, which was somewhat fun--and yet also somewhat annoying, because they didn't want to play with truly crazy rules, and the one game that they did allow a non-standard role, there was an absolutely terrible moderator who kind of messed up the game. But, I do want to play with that non-standard role again--it's called the 'polonium poisoner' (or vladimir putin). The polonium poisoner is in the mafia, and is carrying a lethal dose of polonium. S/he may, once in the game, decide at night to poison someone (in addition to the standard mafia kill). That person dies five minutes after the beginning of the next day with no warning; if the citizens can get their act together and vote before the five minutes are up, they can forestall the poisoning, but the clock would reset the next day. However, because the poisoner was also in contact with polonium, he dies the night after using it. The doctor can't save anyone from polonium. It's not clear if this would help or hurt the mafia, but it was going to be fun until an idiot moderator ruined it.

Anyway, after the kids left, Doug, Shedletsky and I alternated between playing Circle of Death, drunken Indian poker, and three-person mafia until around 4:30am. I had more fun playing that than I did standard mafia, and I can't tell whether that's normal or sad. I spent the night at Doug's, woke up around 10:30, came home and showered, and then met Adit and Sri for a fun and delicious brunch at Mike's Cafe. Then, we went to San Jose to watch Vidya's dance competition; there were eight acts up for various prizes in choreography, so I had to sit through a couple of hours of modern and traditional dance. I think that I like Indian dance, but I'm not so fond of experimental white-person dancing--those people all seem to shop at the same stores for ripped-up hippie skirts, and they do a lot of writhing on the floor to show the degradation and downfall of society. Adit claimed that his scoring rubric was '(number of loose hippie chicks)/(duration of performance)', which I thought was pretty good. There was this one Korean kid who had such amazing muscular control that he could have a believable full-body seizure on command; again, not sure if this qualifies as dancing, but it was quite interesting nonetheless. Unless, of course, he was having an actual seizure, in which case we should have put a wallet in his mouth to keep him from biting off his tongue, rather than applauding him when the lights went off.

Anyway, I enjoyed watching the competition, and Vidya looked lovely in her bright purple outfit w/her fake hair and styrofoam flowers (she actually looked much lovelier than it sounds). Then we went out for burritos at a place in San Jose that makes mediocre burritos topped by an addictively-delicious sauce. I took my leave of the Indians (Vidya and another girl who danced at the competition, who were still in their makeup and outfits, and five normally-dressed Indians including Sri and Adit) and drove from San Jose to San Francisco to pick up my coworker who was flying in from Hyderabad. Luckily, I brought my gameboy, since it took her ~45 minutes to get through customs. The fun of picking her up, checking her into her apartment, getting her luggage to the apartment, and taking her to the office to call her family took over three hours, and so I came home and slept for ~11 hours.

Today, I went to San Francisco (aka the evil city) to read applications for TASP. I drove up and back with Tanya; our lives keep intersecting in strange and interesting ways. We went to TASP the same year, but at different colleges; then we lived on the same floor freshman year; then we were on staff in FloMo the same year; then she lived with Tammy; now we're both working for the same company. It was great talking to her on the drive, and we had fun reading applications. It made me nostalgic for a simpler time, when I used to read a book every day and look forward to the intellectual rigor of college. Now, if I read a book, it's usually something comforting that I've already read, and I usually don't have time to pick up a book anyway. How sad. But, I felt that I did some small part to help pick the next class of TASPers, and I even refrained from just trying to pick the crazy kids.

Okay, I was going to go off on a brooding tangent about my life, fueled in no small part by the lures of academia, but I'm too tired and I already wrote it in my journal. Also, other than that, I'm in a pretty good mood; I like my friends and have been spending more time with them recently, and I'm making dinner for 'family time' on Tuesday, so my life isn't exactly a vale of tears right now. So, it's time for me to go to bed so that I can make it to work tomorrow without being completely wiped out. Goodnight!

Saturday, February 10, 2007

lost and gone forever

I was going to write a lively and vivacious blog post tonight, describing all manner of fun activities in which I have participated in the past twenty-four hours. But, given that in the past 24 hours I have only been home for a quick shower, that I woke up this morning with a v. slight hangover, and that I spent the last three hours helping someone from the India office get settled into her guest apartment (strangely, the same apartment that I lived in a year ago right now), I'm too exhausted to blog. So, I shall go to bed, and you can expect to be regaled with stories tomorrow. Goodnight!

Friday, February 09, 2007

press your lips to the sculptures and surely you'll stay

I feel sorry for my neighbors--I hear the dude coughing all the time through my bedroom wall, but I've only heard them having sex once in the six months that I've lived here. Granted, at the time I was annoyed and didn't exactly want to repeat the experience, but I'm sad for them that they're not enjoying themselves more often :(

Anyway, I got a lot done at work today, and even got there early to have breakfast with Kim and Lauren before Kim went back to Michigan. The past couple of days have been lovely because so many people were on various waves of the ski trip, which means that there weren't really any meetings. This stands in sharp contrast to what next week is shaping up to look like - of the 45 hours that I'm expected to be in the office during a standard workweek, only eight of my hours next week are currently unscheduled, and many of the hours that are scheduled are double- or triple-booked with meetings. Add to that the fact that my entire weekend as well as my Monday and Tuesday evenings are already booked, and I'm going to be one tired camper by next weekend. However, the weekend is shaping up to be fun; I'm playing Mafia/Circle of Death tomorrow night, potentially having brunch w/Adit and Sri on Saturday, followed by Vidya's dance recital, followed by picking up one of my coworkers from the Hyderabad office who is flying in that evening; and Sunday I'm going up to the city to read TASP applications with Tanya, and Vidya may spend the night with me.

Yes, I said TASP applications - I want to get more involved with the organization, because I feel that I benefitted tremendously from participating in their summer program after my junior year of high school. In fact, had it not been for that program, I definitely wouldn't have applied to Stanford; I had been entertaining intentions of applying to Harvard to see if I could get in, and I'd been looking at places such as Swarthmore and Cornell, but I definitely had not thought of going to the West Coast. So, there's a volunteer application reading day on Sunday, and I signed up--and I may apply for membership to the association in the next year or two, if only to discover if the organization is really as shady and nefarious as my fellow campers and I decided it was all those years ago. Now, though, I should really really go to sleep--I must conserve my energy for the week ahead. Goodnight!

Thursday, February 08, 2007

live together, die alone

I watched 'Lost' tonight (the first new episode since November), and I think I'm hooked again. It wasn't quite as frustratingly awful as previous episodes, and I have some hope that they're going to give us enough information to make everything okay.

Anyway, I have nothing else to report; I went to work today, did some work, came home, ate dinner while watching 'Scrubs', talked to Felicia, watched 'Lost', read some 'Lost' fansites (yes I'm lame), and should have gone to bed hours ago. So, I'm cutting this post short--more tomorrow!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

false economies

I should have been in bed hours ago, particularly since I didn't sleep so well last night--I could have had eight or nine hours of sleep, but instead I woke up retching at seven a.m. and alternated between napping and vomiting until nine-thirty or so. By then I was feeling much better (or rather, I felt miserable rather than dead), so I took a shower, packed, and made it out of the hotel by 10:30. I stopped for a late breakfast/early lunch around 11ish when I went through Truckee, then enjoyed my drive back to the coast. I don't know why I tend to get sick the morning after drinking, rather than the night of; clearly I wasn't out of it last night, since I remember the entire evening pretty clearly, made it to my room under my own power, blogged without a lot of typos (and with the correct use of 'equanimity'), and slept rather than passed out, so it didn't really seem fair that I felt so wretched this morning. Then again, since it was one of those nights where I had seven vodka/cranberries and a couple of other random drinks, I probably got exactly what I deserved.

I made a quick stop at the Tracy outlet mall to see if I could find my dinner plate pattern, since I only have service for eight and could really use service for twelve, but the woman there told me that it was discontinued. Happily, when I came home I looked it up on the Corelle website, and they still sell the sixteen-piece set that comes w/four dinner plates, four bowls, four bread plates, and four mugs. Four more mugs is completely unnecessary, since that puts my total mug collection at at least twenty, but I guess that means I can have a massive tea party. So, I ordered a set, and this will put to rest my desire to buy new dinnerware just because I can't get extra plates in this pattern. Yes, I'm ridiculous.

I meant to work tonight; instead, I started to do my taxes, then got a call from Shedletsky w/an invite to dinner. It turns out that today was his birthday, so a bunch of us went to Compadres and had a smashingly good (and thankfully sober) time. Then, we went back to his place and played a board game (which I sucked at), and I took my leave of them around midnight. I think that I got suckered into playing mafia/circle of death on Friday, which promises to be awesome, so I should take care of myself then next few days to make sure that I'm in peak condition for what promises to be a raucous evening.

On that note, I should really go to bed--I have to go to work tomorrow and slog my heart out to get caught up on all of the things I missed while boycotting email over the weekend and the ski trip. Goodnight!

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

touch me baby tainted love

Hmm. I am drunky drunk, if I am to be quite honest with you, but I prefer lying. If I were to tell you the truth, then I would tell you that I started drinking vodka cranberries with Nathan (yes, Nathan) at around seven p.m., and have drank steadily for the past six hours. However, since I am lying to you, I will tell you that I was perfectly sober and professional for the entire day. That means that you can be quite impressed with my professionalism. However, I feel obliged to tell you that I am not being entirely truthful with you. Despite all that, I am trying my best to correct my typos, which puts me a step ahead of the blog posts from ski trips past.

I am in Tahoe; I got here around four p.m., after sleeping in and then leaving for Tahoe around noon. I don't feel that I missed out by delaying my arrival; since I don't ski, there is little of interest to me before the evening festivities start. However, I made the mistake of drinking the amount that I would drink on a normal evening at sea level, rather than the amount that I should drink at altitude. Will I ever learn? Probably not.

My inhibitions are gone, and so theoretically I could tell you all manners of things that I normally don't divulge, but there is still a small part of me that is governing the whole, and so I shall refrain. Therefore, before I get myself into trouble, I shall go to bed. To my nieces and nephew (and impressionable young cousin)--I did not reach this dissipated, alcholic state until I was legal to do so, and so you should not take Aunt/cousin Sara as your example until you are at least 21. To the rest of you--go out and have a vodka w/cranberry juice, it will make you happy. And now, it's time for bed! Tomorrow will be brutal, but I shall pay the wages of my sins with equanimity.

Monday, February 05, 2007

can't buy me love

I was in the mood for romance novels this weekend, although that did not lead me to writing my own. Last night, I reread 'The Viscount Who Loved Me' by Julia Quinn (Harvard grad who dropped out of med school to write romance novels--my heroine!); tonight, I reread 'Bath Tangle' by Georgette Heyer. 'Bath Tangle' is not about licentious goings-on in a bathtub--it takes place in Bath, England, which was once upon a time a very fashionable watering hole (so to speak) for the British aristocracy. Both of these lovely books contain my favorite stock characters--the heroes and the heroines possess strong tempers and excellent senses of humor, which leads to great dialogue and smashing verbal warfare.

Anyway, this was a completely boring weekend; I only left the house to go to Target yesterday, and to take my trash out this morning. Today, I woke up late, briefly entertained Vidya w/a cup of tea (and since she got cookies, she does not get the additional bonus of having this post labeled as being about her), daydreamed for awhile, called my parents, and watched the Super Bowl. I don't even really like football, but it was fine to have it on in the background while I played Tetris, and I liked the idea of millionaires running around hurting each other in the driving rain. Then, I read my book, with a brief break for a salmon and avocado sandwich (mmm). Now, it's almost two a.m., and I should be going to bed, particularly since I'm becoming increasingly convinced that I'm going to fully succumb to the plague that Claude and Vidya visited upon me.

Tomorrow I have to get up, throw some clothes in a backpack, and drive to Tahoe. It's my company's annual ski trip, and I'm driving myself because I could use the solitude (okay, maybe not, since I spent the whole weekend alone, but I'm indulging my inner hermit) and because I get carsick on buses. Also, by driving myself, I don't have to leave at eight a.m.--I can leave at nine or ten (or eleven) and still get up there with plenty of time to spare, particularly since I don't ski, will have nothing to do, and can't check into my hotel until four p.m. So basically I'm driving up to Tahoe to have dinner and then sleep with someone I don't know (in the platonic sense, particularly since I'm sharing a room with a girl, and even the fact that she's European and so will have a lovely accent won't induce me to become a lesbian). Maybe I'll get rousingly drunk just for the fun of it, but since I'm starting to manage people, I may have to behave with a bit more decorum than I did that time that I wrote the post about friends being the 'bombdiggitysss'. Anyway, it's time for bed! If I don't post tomorrow, please enjoy your Monday and Tuesday, and I shall catch up with you upon my return.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

if that's all you will be, you'll be a waste of time

I was curious tonight to see what I had done on this day in previous years, and so I looked back on old blog posts. Last year, I was playing Meteos in Terry's apartment, surly and homeless; the year before, I was moving in to our apartment in Menlo Park and preparing for an epic Super Bowl party in which all of my friends got roaringly drunk while all of Terry's friends tried to watch the game. Around July of 2004 I deleted my earlier blog posts, but I still have them saved on my hard drive, so I looked them up. I remembered that I had deleted them because I sounded whiny, but I can't believe how whiny I was. Apparently, three years ago at this time I was extremely angry and depressed--which, actually, I remembered, but it was interesting to read some of it again.

It's hard to believe that in June, I will have been out of college for four years. I think that I'm starting to feel restless because I haven't had an adventure in awhile. Adventure can be something huge, like touring the Taj Mahal alone with a million annoyingly-insistent would-be tour guides, or crawling out over the edge of a cliff on the Aran Islands; or, it can be something small, like submitting my hair to the ministrations of an Indian hairdresser who washes hair in her kitchen sink (although that turned out well--one of her other clients that afternoon was a former Miss Universe). It can even be figuring out how to make risotto for my friends while trying to avoid catching the plague from Claude. But, it is most certainly not spending the majority of my week in an office, or a gorgeous Saturday afternoon writing the self-assessment I should have written a month ago, or going to Target on a Saturday night because I was too lazy to make plans like a normal twenty-five-year-old.

I'm starting to get that restless urge to chop off my hair and move out of the country, and I find myself daydreaming all too often about Romania, or the windswept Russian steppes, or the wilds of Botswana, or Incan ruins in South America. I refuse to let my life turn into something completely conventional, because then it wouldn't really be mine--it would be something that anyone could live, and I could just be swapped in and out of it like an extra in a movie scene. And yet, I do care rather too much about what other people think of me, and societal pressures (and the need to eat, and clothe myself, and buy Versace sunglasses to lend a touch of glamour to my adventures) make it all too easy to fall into a conventional life. The funny thing is, I do have some conventional desires as well; I'd like to be married someday, and have kids, but only if those kids won't get too unhappy if I pick them up and move them someplace ridiculous at least once in their destined-to-be-absurd lives.

I think that's why I sometimes wish that I could just hurry up and get to the eccentric old lady part; it doesn't matter what people think of eccentric old ladies, because they don't have to answer to anyone. However, I don't want the arthritis and poverty and cat that seems to accompany most eccentric old ladies. I just want to be past the next stage in my life, in which I have to figure out what's next and where I'm going.

I wrote in my self-assessment that I need to focus on setting larger goals so that I actually have something I'm working towards, rather than just working for the sake of working. My company has gotten a lot out of me primarily because of my midwestern work ethic, and not because I'm trying to learn specific skills or get to a certain point in my career development. However, I need to think about what I really want from this life, or else it's going to slip away and become exactly what I've always tried to avoid, and what I've been so disappointed to realize happens to virtually everyone. Now, though, I need to go to sleep, so that I can get something done tomorrow. Goodnight!

Saturday, February 03, 2007

in the slipstream of my possibilities

I may be the only person in the world who still listens to Bush's last album ('Golden State') semi-regularly; it's been in my car's CD player for at least at week, so I've been rocking out to such fabulous songs as 'Speed Kills', 'Head Full of Ghosts', 'Float', and 'My Engine is With You'. I need to burn a copy of the Institute CD that I bought from the iTunes store while I was in India; it would make good driving music, but it's too hard for when I'm working, so I don't listen to it much at work. Yes, I have terrible taste.

Today, I went to work, was feeling sick in the afternoon, and so came home early. I still don't feel great, and I'm willing to bet money that I'll end up catching the vicious plague that Claude was carrying the other night, but we shall see. I did nothing for most of the afternoon, but then started to put into practice that 'Getting Things Done' book by writing down all of the tasks, big or small, that are pending in my personal life. I decided to wait to tackle the work stuff until tomorrow, but writing down (without doing) everything on my mental map of possible projects resulted in a stack of paper about 1.5 inches thick. This is because this dude suggests writing down everything in this initial set-up phase on a separate sheet of paper; this enables better and more efficient processing when you start doing, filing, or deferring later. Presumably, this is because if everything is in a stack, you are more likely to do what he wants you to do and focus fully on the item on the top of the list, rather than constantly scanning to look for a more appealing task.

So, I have my stack of paper, and tomorrow I need to make a similar stack of paper for all of my work stuff, and then spend the rest of tomorrow and Sunday sorting and accomplishing and doing all those fun things. I must say, though, that I already feel a little better (mentally, not physically)--I think he's write that writing things down in a system that you trust and have a plan for reevaluating and tackling helps to get all of those floating ideas out of your mental space and into a neutral zone. Now, instead of reminding myself every day that I want to order bookshelves for my living room, even though I have no intention of doing so until I get my next bonus, I can just put it in my 'Someday/Maybe' list and ignore it until later.

Alternatively, I'm just using this as a more elaborate method of procrastination, but we shall see. Now, though, it's time to go to bed.

Friday, February 02, 2007

come on barbie let's go party

Tonight, I told Vidya that I was leaving work to buy a self-help book on organization. She told me that I was already pretty organized, to which I replied, 'It's my German soul --organization, and a desire to cause widespread catastrophic harm to my fellow man.' Actually, many of my inner conflicts are probably the direct result of my brutally efficient German side and my woefully masochistic, brooding Slavic side. Anyway, I bought 'Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity' by David Allen. I also read all but the last fifty pages tonight, with a break to watch 'The Office' and 'Scrubs'.

This book is going to change my life! And that's not just what the cover says--I'm really excited about applying its suggestions and principles. I am not going to buy a $100 label-maker to help me in my quest for stress-free productivity, even though he says it's 'critical'; for all that I love paper, I actually don't think it would be efficient for me to keep a lot of paper files, since my work is v. electronically based. Also, I'm perfectly capable of writing labels, and I don't have an assistant to maintain my files, so I don't see myself developing a massive filing system.

However, I think that it will be helpful in other ways, and there are plenty of nifty online gadgets and widgets that will help me. For instance, www.rememberthemilk.com is based on this system, and has built a Firefox extension that will work with my personal Google calendar to keep track of due dates, engagements, etc.

If nothing else, the tip to do anything immediately if it will only take you two minutes to do it will probably be extremely valuable. I have a bad habit of reading all of my mail during the day, starring the things I have to do, then staring in numb horror at the number of starred items in my email inbox (currently 151, not counting the hundreds that are sitting there that I just haven't bothered to star because they're not quite as important). Granted, I'm pretty productive at work, but if I could shave more time off the mundane things, that would free me up to develop other skills--or think about what I really want to do with my life and how to get there.

Funny--I've been managing people for less than a week, and I'm already sounding more corporate. I guess the problem is that I'm feeling a little overwhelmed because this is the first time in awhile that I've faced a completely new challenge--one that I would feel more able to accomplish if I didn't also have to keep doing all of the other things that I was previously assigned to and was starting to feel bored by, which propelled me into accepting the new challenge in the first place. I've had two or three full-time roles at the same time before, and was typically happier then if only because I didn't have time to think, but I need to take a deep breath and figure out where I'm going and what I need to accomplish before I get down to the task of actually doing all this stuff on an ongoing basis.

So, I'm going to devote this entire weekend to taking an inventory of everything (*everything*) currently on my plate in my work and personal lives, doing whatever I can do quickly, making a plan of attack for the rest, and clearing mental space so that I can actually think and accomplish things and not feel so overwhelmed that I just want to curl up in a ball and play Tetris for five hours. Speaking of Tetris, though, since I'm not organized yet, I'm feeling in need of a quick game before bed. Goodnight!

Thursday, February 01, 2007

hard to concentrate

Today was go-go-go at work; I had to be there early for a global videoconference, then I had some high-pressure manager meetings (where I felt like a loser because I just started being an official manager and didn't have much to contribute), then had some other meetings, then had more meetings, then left a little after six p.m. I came home, let Claude in, and made some tasty risotto. Sri, Vidya, Adit, and Timmy showed up over the next hour or so, and we ate a lot of risotto and watched the Stanford-Gonzaga game. Yes, I paid attention, and yes, this time we lost. It was super-frustrating--they would get a lead, then blow it, then pull off some amazing three-point shots, then not be able to hit any free-throws. Anyway, we all had a smashing good time. Now, we're having a sleepover; Vidya didn't want to go back to the evil city (understandable!) and Claude has a fever and feels awful, so doesn't want to drive home. So, they shall sleep in the living room, and I shall sleep in my bed, and we shall all be quite merry (except for Claude who, as I mentioned, is sick).

Work is going to get increasingly intense; I can already feel the pace of my days getting ridiculously fast. For instance, I only checked my gossip blogs once today, so I barely know what's going on with Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, etc. Sadness! For someone who always said she didn't want to manage and vowed never to go into business, I'm taking a classic upwardly-mobile path. I will have to be careful not to get sucked further into the vortex in the future--but the likelihood that I'll escape is becoming smaller and smaller. I'm hoping that Claude will contaminate me so that I can take a sickday (she just said that she's contaminating my blanket so that she can give it back to me and kill me, just like how the white people gave the natives smallpox-infected blankets back in the day). But, it probably won't kick in in time to get out of tomorrow's meetings, so I should go to bed!