Well, That Was Unexpected

Real life is stranger than fiction...depending on which authors you read, of course.

Friday, January 26, 2007

28th Success!

Navigation through the day commemorating the 28th year of my birth was smooth and clear. I would like to announce that the weather has been about 68 and sunny--some gorgeous days for my triumphant return. some highlights:

1. During a break in my seminar, International Political Economy, I was in line for the bathroom and the chatty little girl in front of me asked me if i was in History 406 with her. Just so you know, that's an *undergraduate* course. She thought I was an undergrad. I was like "nope, but bless you, my dear. bless you."

2. my seminar looks to be an excellent class. it seems, dare i hope?, well organized and as if i may actually learn something useful. My professor is this super lively Indian woman with a great perspective of the world and what we are studying. fingers crossed.

3. I was finally moved into the office i was supposed to have been moved into months ago, and I have graduated to having two monitors. Finally moved up to the adults' table of editorial life.

4. many fabulous calls and ecards wishing me happy birthday--nothing like a birthday to make you feel loved and worthwhile. yay! this is why i don't understand people who don't like celebrating birthdays. it's a day for everyone to tell you how glad they are that you are alive. what could be better than that?

5. my mom woke me up by coming into my room with a peppermint mocha. what she didnt know was that on my Birthday To-Do List i had written this: buy peppermint mocha for breakfast...aw yeah, happy birthday from the Holy Spirit and ma.

of course, yesterday was merely the beginning of a parade of celebrations lasting until sunday evening.

p.s. of shame: i've been listening to christina aguilera's back to basics album, and she has some serious fiona apple from Tidal going on in some of her songs. very impressive. also JT album is painfully catchy. i need to go flagellate myself now and listen to some sleater-kinney. hey, the new switchfoot album is surprisingly good. dirty second hands: fabulous and different.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

They say it's my birthday!

Well, as Lisa so kindly and effusively said, it is indeed my birthday! Yay! I am 28! Finally. It's so weird, for the last few months I've been saying I'm 28 when really I've been 27. I don't know why, I just felt like rounding up was the thing to do. So, any advice for me in this 28th year?

for now, i will let my ipod speak to me as I work:
"If I could do just one near perfect thing I'd be happy, they'd write it on my grave or when they scattered my ashes, on second thought i'd rather hang around and get down with my best friend if she wants me"--Belle and Sebastian lyrics come in handy for expressing a birthday sentiment by me.
Speaking musically, as I told Lisa yesterday, I cannot get Read My Mind by the Killers out of my own mind. It just makes me feel like a dizzy happy sunny day and makes me dance and I have been playing it multiple times a day for the last week. "i pull up to your driveway with magic soaking my spine", "the stars are blazing like rebel diamondss cut out of the sun. can you read my mind?"--good stuff.
"It's times like these you learn to live again, it's times like these you give and give again, it's times like these you learn to love again, it's times like these, time and time again"--foo fighters

So one of our IDs decided to get cute and named one of the sample characters in one of our lessons "Joseph Heller." hysterical. usually people find those things and get rid of them, but this one slipped by, to the undoubtedly monumental happiness of some desperately bored ID. it's the little things.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

a lovely respite before...stats

Something that gives me nausea is when nerdy textbook writers try to insert jokes into their texts. My stats' book author has inserted a "joke" into the introduction: " what does the sociologist who passed stats say to the sociologist who failed stats? answer: i'd like a burger, fries, and a coke." um, yeah. friends, not only is that joke classist and heinous, it's also not funny--the lame punchline shoudl be "i'd like fries with that", nor does it establish the true importance of studying statistics b/c the result is unrealistic. it fails on all measures, really. this is what happens when you stay in academia for too long. scary, really. I can only hope that they don't try to unleash their wit on me again.

so you can tell i'm excited about being at home and starting my stats class, right? well, i *am* excited about being home. I am *not* excited about stats. home is good fun. but we had a blast in England as well. very relaxing and full of meeting melissa's fabulously fun friends, family, and small group members. good shopping, good chinese food, good staying indoors the whole day that the wind killed 12 people in the UK, gorgeous royal ballet performance of la sylphide, fun walking around ealing broadway and covent gardens shopping and anti-aging, a lovely stopover at the british museum, evensong at st pauls, fun grossing out amy and mel by mashing up and drawing in my leftover mascarpone cheese at dessert at the inappropriately named Pizza Express--it was a very trendy and gourmet place that amy and i thought might have been like Pizza Hut, delicious english breakfasts, divine clotted cream on scones, fun time in a pub discussing the tragic difference in how americans and britons pronounce "water", fun with mel's family, many turns in mel's dad's massage chair, and my first foray into the strange world of online dating.

so the royal ballet is extraordinary. we actually saw two different ballets, the last act of a ballet called napoli divertissement, and la sylphide. i think we have maybe 3 ballerinas/os in the california ballet who could be the towel girls for their corps de ballet. the woman who played la sylphide was pretty incredible. anyway, despite their talent i realized that most ballet plots sound like something timothy leery came up with when he was dropping acid--the nutcracker: a nutcracker changes into a man and falls in love with an underage girl and defeats mutant rats with an imaginary army and a ballet shoe and then they are sent to a winterland where a snow queen gives them a nutshell boat and they go to a kingdom of dancing candies. yeah, that's lucid. this is what i wrote after our first intermission: we've just finished the first act of the bill at the Royal Ballet. A curious affair called Napoli Divertissement. It was a cross between a folkdance and a whorefest. Everyone had assigned colors, as it were, and while they came out in matching female/male pairs initially, they ended up pairing off with different colored partners through teasing dances. There was much clapping and dancing and tambourine playing and flirting and jealous lovers reclaiming their partners. I felt that it was their basic reenactment of a Britney/Justin dance off. or possibly what turns out to be a tragic warning about the eventual perils of AIDS. I felt it could have been better served if each dancer wiped some of their color on other dancers when they cheated with them and then everyone ended up as some icky brown color, all of them dying at the end. alas, they were just your basic trashy italian kids hanging out by the water and getting it on with everyone in sight. melissa and i also picked up a brochure for a book about ballet mime. "the first book of it's kind!" it boasted. hmmm. yes.

so, just in case you were thinking that you would like to go to russia, but it just isn't quite expensive enough for you: try England. i liked what one of my coworkers said, who took a trip there during the summer, "i now understand what mexicans feel like when they come here and their money is worthless." indeed. the 2-to-1 exchange rate is brutal. i'm sure i looked pretty classless when i exclaimed that i had no idea how people could afford to live there. poor little american.

then again, my coworker and i also commiserated on how some things about Britons are just kind of funny and silly. They would almost be sort of backward if it werent that they chose for their society to remain traditional in certain ways. like how we were in the worst traffic in human history the day i left because a milk truck with glass milk bottles had tipped over and there were shattered milk bottles all over the freeway...who the hell drinks milk out of glass milk bottles in 2007 london? so a bunch of broken milk bottles made me excruciatingly late to the airport. i didnt even have time to put on expensive antiaging creams in duty free :( anyway, notes from a small island is a great take on funny british quirks, if you want a good travel book. a very fun read.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

On my way to London

Well, technically I am in London as I write. But Melissa, Amy, and I are having lots of fun, so of course I've no time to write about it! But here's what I wrote on the plane over:

I have somehow won the airplane lottery by having two seats to myself on my united flight from san Francisco to London. I have seen the other passengers staring in envy—one man was talking loudly on the phone to a friend before takeoff saying that if he had known the shamefully large difference between business class and economy he would have upgraded—which they offer you at self-check in--and I have debated offering to switch out with him and his seatmate. And, after pondering the logistics of such a move, I have decided against it. it would seem to condescending, especially when there are a bunch of empty reclining seats a mere five rows ahead of us.

I've never seen an airline separate its passengers so overtly by class. Not only do they ask you if you want to upgrade at self-check-in, and then force you to walk through business class—waiting to pass by the flight attendants handing the business class passengers their complimentary pre-flight beverages--to get to economy, but then at the start of the flight they actually say "if you’ve seen our econoclass offerings and are interested in upgrading in the future, as one of our flight attendants for details." Then they announce the variety of beverages they have available and kindly make a point of saying that these are complimentary for first and business class but that economy class will be charged such and such…however, cheerfully, all shitty beverages—the barebones of the pepsi product line--are complimentary for all of their passengers, even the sad ones in the back. Singapore airlines it's not. It's enough to make a girl a Marxist, really. I feel mildly indignant for all of us. We should rise up and storm the upper classes! I say this from the comfort of my two seats with the arm rest that won't go up all the way, yet still allows me to stretch out my sad short legs more than the despondent members of the 5-across middle row.

My male flight attendant has been repeating animatedly that he smells mai tais. I have offered up that it's probably someone's duty free perfume. This is a brilliant suggestion, received with approval by all. What I do not announce is that it is most likely my duty free perfume that smells like mai tais. I made my compulsory run through duty free—moisturizing and antiaging my face pre-flight and trying on expensive perfume. All I have to say is that when you are in the vicinity of free samples of 90 dollar eye cream that you will never buy, you just have to try it. It feels like stealing, only better because it isn't. they put it out there.

The stereotypically attractive dark-haired white man across the aisle has a seat open next to him. He cant really utilize it because of the Chinese man wearing a beanie two seats over who also has claim to it, I suppose. Hotman pulled out a book on divorce. That's tragic. That empty seat was probably supposed to be full of someone he loves. I'd tell him that he is more than welcome to love me if he wishes, but I suppose that would be a bit tasteless.

I would also like to announce that SFO has one of the saddest international terminals ever—after I passed into the realm of the international terminal there wasn’t even a convenience store at which to buy some sudoku. Criminal. And, at the risk of sounding like someone who engineered united's class separation policy—and shameless hawking of the better life in the front of the plane—would it hurt for them to put in a Starbucks? The only random café servicing this group of cattle was a mini il fornaio, which is at the end of the concourse, dimly lit, and operated by one non-native English speaker. Very bizarre. But replete as it was with an incredible chocolate bundt cake and an espresso stand, I patroned it.

United Airlines has a spinoff airline it calls Ted—I believe it is their answer to economy shuttles like jetblue and southwest. Someone was obviously not aware that schoolchildren of a certain age (mine) referred, in a shameful and un-PC manner, to retarTed kids as Teds. I'm not saying that it isn't terrible and that the name and word "ted" should be monopolized by adolescent cruelty, and at the same time I suggest that they could have found a better name for the carrier of the hoi polloi. Like, Unite! As in workers of the world, Unite! Or Uni. Or Nite, Or Ite, or how about anything that doesn't sound as squishy as Ted. Who do you think of when you think of someone named Ted—Theodore, as it were…hmmm. This is not my fight. I will simply start an airline called Kickass! Hi, I'm flying Kickass! Airlines.

We've just been asked to please pull down our window shades. And the seatbelt sign has come on. While I believe that the general explanation is that we want to preserve darkness inside whilst outside our plane chases daylight, I sometimes like to think that we are suddenly flying through some kind of unimaginable maelstrom with cats and umbrellas and scarves and mary poppins all blustering around, and only select people like pilots are in on the secret.

Friday, January 05, 2007

New Year, New Christmas

I've been busy happily enjoying my holidays with my family, and it's a well known fact that one does not take time out of happiness to chronicle it because it's too much fun to be happy. and so i sit now to write out of the depths of despair and chaos... okay, i'm just kidding. we are going through a little calm before the storm at work.

the summary on my holidays: fabulous. loved the food, loved the fam, loved seeing long lost friends from the city of angels.

someone has secretly and adorably ordered me a subscription to Vanity Fair, definitely one of my favorite guilty pleasures. i'm such a sucker for annie liebowitz photos and glamour and high society gossip. and, b/c i am now a VF subscriber, i have just gotten an offer to get the new yorker for 25$ a year. by grabthar's hammer, what a savings! i'm sorely tempted. the question is: am i, and do i want to be, the kind of person who *subscribes* to the New Yorker? hmm. it would be very wellesley of me. i don't know--can i be that brand of snotty intellectual? i do like some of their articles--though some of it is just trashy gossip disguised as serious journalism. this is what political science has done to me. i want proof! i want standards!

some good advice i have received lately:

1. practice now being the kind of person you want to be when you are old--this came from my mom who heard it from one of her good friends who works in a hospice center. she says we always think we will become more secure and wise when we get older, but actually it doesnt happen that often. in fact your crankaliciousness and faults often become more vivid.

2. think hard about the person you want to marry, because the little things that bug you about your boyfriend/girlfriend now will become the things that drive you insane when you get married.--i'll leave this anonymous. but since i know so many people getting married or in relationships on the way to the altar, i figured you should hear this. you're like, "oh, it'll get better in time, i'll deal with it." yes you will, and it may be the end of you. joy division said it well: loooove. looooove will tear us apaaaaart again.

speaking of marriage. i am to be a bridesmaid this year. possibly multiple times. campbell and linda are forcing me back to taiwan far sooner than planned (i.e. never). but linda has good taste in dresses, so at least we have that going for us.

i'm a bit of a puddleglum today. one reason might be the fact that i am editing a lesson in which our instructional designers appear to have turned illiterate. i used one of my favorite clint eastwood cuss words to describe it and my coworker anny thought it was the best thing she'd ever heard. email me if you want to know the word, just in case this blog gets read aloud to the kiddies before bedtime...heh heh.

have been trying to cram in as many movies as possible before school starts back up. saw The Queen and it was really good! i was surprised, being as i am not actually very interested in the subject matter. the Fountain--not so good. sort of pretty visuals...it's one of those movies that people who have never thought deeply about death would find deep and possibly revelatory. anyone who has pondered or dealt with death will find it superficial and cheesy. also, i am annoyed that i am supposed to infer from one 2 second clip of rachel weiss running around vibrantly in a red dress that she and hugh jackman used to have a relationship so wonderful and full of love that he is now willing to work crazily day and night and neglect her to save her from death. that is what we call a lack of character development, my friends. also--during weird shebulba scenes (anyone who saw the movie is chuckling--charity, i'm talking to you) hugh jackman looks like howie mandel. this is unacceptable.

i hope to write soon, but will be in england for 9 days from 15-23, so who knows.
i was sending out blessings to everyone i love as i was being happy this holiday season. good luck in this new year.