Friday, March 31, 2006

you can't hide behind social graces

Since Sepia Mutiny appears to be playing their usual April Fool's prank, let me just point out two interesting stories that are down with brown. First, a drop in new HIV cases has been reported in Southern India. In the midst of news about how woefully under target the WHO fell of getting antiretrovirals in the hands of 3 million in the underdeveloped world, this is a nice change of pace. The drop is attributed to two factors I thought (cynical as I am) would be impossible to implement in India- an increase in condom use by men and an increased insistence by prostitutes that their clients wear condoms. I have friends who have worked in this field in India, and they have often complained at how hopeless the situation appeared to be for women, who often have little voice in sexual practices. This, therefore, was truly heartening news.

In a far more complicated angle, an Indian doctor was imprisoned for revealing the sex of a fetus to its parents. I will be honest- I was not even aware that in 1994, an Indian law passed to bar doctors from using ultrasounds to predict the sex of a fetus.

Now, I was a bit conflicted about this on the surface. Why is it that physicians are shouldered with the responsibility of preventing the abortion of a female fetus? Is that not the responsiblity of the parent, or at the very least the physician performing the abortion, and not the physician performing the ultrasound? All these thoughts were swirling around in my head, until I read this excerpt:
    The doctor was secretly videotaped telling one woman that the scan showed that she was carrying a "female fetus and it would be taken care of."

Um, yeah, never mind- you can go directly to jail as far as I am concerned, Dr. Sabani.

A part of me goes to my most base level when I read about this sort of thing. This nonsense about women leaving the family when they are married is one of the most disturbing traditions that never seems to die in several cultures. It was prevalent in my family, and perpetuated by many women. I find that particularly disheartening. At the same time, I have seen reversals in thinking on this. Maybe my cynicism will be once again refuted, and the tides will turn. The NYT points out, however, that this is not such a great victory, since the practice is far more widespread than the punishment. Sigh.

Since I am observing Cesar Chavez Day by working from home today, oodles and I are going to lunch. Okay, I might also be working from home today because I have a million TPS reports to write. If the reports are finished, I am hoping to make scones this evening. My plan is to distract J with the smell of something baked so that she may less notice she is staying in a crack shack. I feel certain she is far too smart to fall for this, but I am grasping at straws here. Oh well- if nothing else, I should give her plenty of material for her comic genius to do its thing.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

when I went away for the last time

Poor J- not only is she staying in my crack shack, but also it appears that she will be stuck inside the crack shack for much of the weekend. Because, the rain? It will not stop.

In other news, I'm so underwhelmed by Lost. Typical J.J formula- create characters you really like and then proceed with Operation Character Assassination when you've sucked all the viewers in. What kind of con artist is Sawyer that he can get hustled by Jack of Blah? How many body parts will Locke have to lose before he loses his gullibility? Why does no one care that Michael & Walt are chilling with Los Otros? And where, FTLOG, is Mister Eko? I mean, if you are going to ruin the show, can you at least appeal to my shallow side by letting me listen to Mister Eko's voice for a few, precious minutes? Maybe when Alias comes back, J.J will make Spydaddy a stay-at-home dad who really enjoys gardening.

Sadly, I have nothing besides that unintelligible babble to write. I lack both the time and the technique. There is something I want to write about mitochondria, but I will not do it justice now. So it will wait, in the pile of things that have still to be done. I miss the feeling- I seem to recall having it at one point- of feeling like I could go to bed with the sense that the next day would be a new start. These days, I fall asleep after forcing myself to push away the neverending list, and wake up with the list pushing its way right back, reminding me of something that must not be neglected. If only I felt that way about this blog, you might have had something vaguely coherent to read.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

I'm on a plain

The rain will not relent, and this is bad news. It is supposed to go through the weekend, and this is cause for much grumbling. I had to leave the house at 7 today to get to an 8 o'clock meeting, and that is silly, since I live less than 10 miles away from work. But when I got to work, there was a primo zen moment awaiting me, in the form of a note from security:
    Your office was found opened, but closed.

When I showed the note to RR, he said, "I think this is actually a commentary on you." Sadly, I know what neither of those statements means. I am trying to figure out if they are nonsensical, or actually so deep that they successfully broke my brain. Not that it would take much, right now.

Everything else I want to write about right now involves screaming at the tech support guy at work who keeps f***ing up my laptop worse than it was when I first handed it to him, and frantic anxiety-ridden panic regarding things I need to get done. In other words- boring. Hopefully, something of substance will actually show up on here this week. But, given my track record this week, don't hold your breath.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

the stumbles and falls brought me here

You know what rocks? When you are attending a wedding, and find out the bride & groom-to-be have deliberated extensively over the choice of their first dance song. Normally, this might be snooze-inducing, because how many times can you listen to people kvell between Wonderful Tonight and some Celine Dion tune? However, because the bride is B and she rocks, there have been contentious discussions, with the frontrunners being Ben Folds and REM. The kicker? B suggested Let's Call The Whole Thing Off- hey, B, for the record, you owe me a new keyboard for that email.

You know what does not rock? When you are attending a wedding, you have to look presentable. I think I may have forgotten how to do this. B suggested that jeans and a sweater might not be apropos for a May wedding. When will I shop for a dress? I would estimate 1-2 days before my flight departs, optimistically.

You know what rocks even less and actually really sucks? Arrested Development is no more. Rumors about the show moving to Showtime have been put to rest. Because I had class on Monday nights last year when the show was airing, I missed several of the funniest half-hours on television. Needless to say, I look forward to purchasing the DVDs. It is of little consolation that I will not have to shell out any additional cash to get Showtime.

In other news, A N N A really cleaned up on the lyrical tip, although there are still a few that remain a mystery. One is nearly impossible because the song is obscure. And it's not obscure in that cool way, where I can claim some indie cred for it. It's obscure in that who the hell listens to this kind of music anyway? kind of way. Oh well. I give you all until Friday before revealing the remaining three. It is fun, but when I tried to do it on ads' blog, I realized how difficult it is.

Also, for those of you keeping track, I am still a slob.

Monday, March 27, 2006

I think it's perfectly clear, we're in the wrong band

Hey moms!

Remember when you and dad were on a tear about the arranged marriage dealio? Okay, maybe not a tear. Maybe more furtive suggestions. Anyway, those were some good times, weren't they? Remember how all the mamas kept harassing you about their poor, spinstress niece? I felt kind of badly for you, until you inevitably took it out on me in the form of lectures about getting my act together.

Sorry, I am rambling, taking this stroll down nostalgia avenue. It's just that- remember that one time you called and complained about all the uncles and aunties lecturing you about getting your daughter married off? And remember how I told you I just didn't think the whole arranged marriage thingamajob was for me? Remember what you said next? Remember, you said, "Honestly, I would not even try it. Because what man looking for an arranged marriage would want to marry someone like you?"

Yeah. Well, I am writing you the words you thought you would never read coming from your daughter. I am writing to inform you that, mom, you were absolutely, 100% right. I know you never thought you would live to see the day that your daughter ever admitted she was in the wrong. Then again, I didn't disagree with you then, so technically, I am not admitting I am wrong, just that you are right. But even that is progress, isn't it?

You are probably wondering how I reached this revelation. I did not crack my head on the sidewalk, or go on a vision quest after taking peyote, so there is no cause for alarm, mom. No, I just had to square with the reality this weekend that I would make the sh*ttiest housewife on this continent and possibly on all others as well. Yes, I know that was bad language, but I think it might be the best adjective to really capture how bad of a housewife I would make, mom.

I know that your curiosity is piqued. You are still wondering how I knew with such certainty. After all, I am pretty headstrong, a know-it-all, and I do tend to think I can do whatever I want. But I have evidence. First, I went to my friend Oodles' house to watch a movie with some friends. And, since I tried to be a good Indian daughter for a change, I thought I should bring something. That something was a chocolate meringue pie. At least, it was a meringue pie, until I walked to oodles' place and took off the pretty part of the meringue topping, and it became a congealed goop pie with chocolate goop underneath.

That was bad, but it was not the worst. You could pass it off as an experimental error. Everyone at oodles' party was so polite that they actually ate a slice even. But I forgot to tell you about the light bulbs. Let me back up.

Mom, the light bulb in my bathroom blew out over two weeks ago. And two light bulbs in my living room blew out as well over a month ago. I replaced one of the light bulbs in the living room, but then I thought I was going to fall off the step stool because I was doing some strange pilates-type stretch to screw in the bulb. So, for all this time, the living room light fixture has been on the floor, and my apartment looks like something owned by a crack ho. Um, I'll explain the crack ho thing to you another time. And also, I've been taking showers in the dark.

So, oodles and her roommates, who are sort of all fantastically awesome, lent me their ladder on Saturday. And since I am a helpless idiot, S drove me home with the ladder. On Sunday, I finally replaced all the bulbs. Mom, it had been so long since I had light in my bathroom that I kept forgetting to turn the light on whenever I went in there.

I told myself that I was going to be really domestic this weekend, clean the apartment, and make it somewhat habitable. Mom, I opted to study and do homework for much of the day on Sunday in order to avoid doing housework. I do not even like the class I am taking, but I still preferred that to cleaning out the refrigerator.

Now it is Monday and there is still laundry to be done, piles of crap in the living room that never seem to get any smaller no matter how hard I try, and there are still lint balls underneath my bed. Mind you, this is all for the sake of a tiny one-bedroom apartment that only houses one person. And I still could not manage to clean it.

I think we can all agree that it was a good idea not to hoodwink some poor, unsuspecting bachelor into thinking that this slob daughter of yours could have been a good match. Anyway, thanks for not making a big deal out of it.


p.s. Maybe we can shop around for a husband who has housewife skills? I could really use one of those, but if that's not available, I'll take a housewife too.

Friday, March 24, 2006

everybody get random

I saw this on someone's blog at some point, and I apologize for not referencing it correctly. However, I thought it was amusing, and, okay, an easy way to fill space on Friday. The idea is that you take your mp3 player or iTunes, set it on random and write down the first line of the next twenty songs that play, regardless of embarassment quotient. I added in a rule that all songs where the title of the song is the first line must be excluded. Also, I decided that songs from the same artists should also be excluded (there is one case below that is kind of a duplication of artists, but technically not). So, here are the results:
  1. all I can see is black and white and white and pink
  2. I wish I was a neutron bomb, for once I could go off well done, Ashvin
  3. I'm not feeling alright today, I'm not feeling that great A N N A called the band, Maitri pulled the title
  4. my friend assures me it's all or nothing close enough, J
  5. see the vegetable man in the vegetable van from the coolest mixtaper of all times, Amelie-Freak
  6. it was a cold time, he put the clock in the refrigerator
  7. I'm becoming less defined as days go by another one bites the dust by A N N A
  8. I sit two stories above the street since Saheli laid out the entire plot of the song, I think it's fair to give this one to her.
  9. I can't help but feel a little ill when I think that you might be with somebody else A N N A, of course.
  10. he said I'm going to buy this place and burn it down well done, Ashvin
  11. I think I'm going for a walk now, I feel a little unsteady A N N A astounds
  12. I hope that I find what I'm reaching for the way that it is in my mind for the record, it's The Cowboy Junkies version, A N N A
  13. I don't know what ya heard about me, but a b*tch can't get a dollar out of me oodles, with an assist from A N N A
  14. alone on a train aimless in wonder big surprise, A N N A knows different lyrics for the same thing
  15. I may not always love you A N N A uses her Love Actually knowledge to her advantage
  16. they say there's a sun in the sky are you impressed with A N N A yet?
  17. love, love is a verb A N N A & Maitri, I know this is cheesy and now overused everywhere on television, but once I had a crush on a gay dude, and he introduced me to Massive Attack. So ultimately, the crush was pretty fruitful, no?
  18. there's a saying old says that love is blind seriously, bow down to A N N A
  19. well, someone please call a surgeon who could crack my ribs nice one, oodles
  20. tears on the sleeve of a man and A N N A lends a big loan from the girl zone

And now, the rules for readers- no Googling, b*tches. We work on the honor code. Leave your guesses on which songs are represented above, and I cross them off as you get them right. If you guess ones that I'm particularly impressed with, there will be prizes. Of course, since we work on the honor code here, I will neither reveal which ones I think are difficult, nor disclose what the prize of guessing right will be (at a minimum, it will be bowing down to your greatness). You will just have to trust me. Also, I will not annoy everyone by tagging them. But it would be cool if you tried it too. Consider it a tap on the shoulder rather than a tag.

I am supposed to go out for dinner tonight in one of the parts of San Francisco that I could gladly avoid forever. I know, I know, that would be any part of SF outside of my neighborhood. But really, time is so precious right now that it seems extremely wasteful to spend it on something that is sure to end in me sighing and saying "Frankly, I'm a little underwhelmed." By the way, I can't stop saying that of late, in exactly the b*tchy tone that Michael Kors adopts on Project Runway. Anyway, I am sure my few remaining friends would be less than pleased with me characterizing dinner with them as such a chore, so let me take this opportunity to shut my pie hole. That would be a first.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

my stamina can take it

People, I have problems, because I cannot stop listening to Fleetwood Mac this evening. Wait, wait, do not click away so quickly. You know what is even worse? It is Christine McVie Fleetwood. What? I grew up in the 80s, what did you honestly expect?

Now that we have established just how cool I am not, can I get a reprieve, because when you are having the kind of day where you have a lump in your throat at the end of day from sheer exhaustion, do you not deserve a musical cheesefest? I mean, if I had been listening to The Smiths, you would have had an incredibly maudlin post on your hands. Moreso than usual, even.

Two saving graces yesterday- the sweetest words from Maitri and the return of Lost. I am amused by one cute moment of synchronicity. Yesterday, I was chatting with SP on GoogleTalk, and started the conversation with Are you there, God? It's me, Margaret, because, well, I am a jacka$$. And last night, what should Sawyer be reading but none other than the Judy Blume classic. It should be noted that I do not approve of this Sawyer as comic relief-foolio theme the show seems to be sporting of late.

Anyway, some long overdue sh*t is getting done. Don't get me wrong. I have not accomplished anything significant, and much is left still to be done. But some tasks have been tackled. And though I hold people to high standards, I hold myself to laughably low ones, so I have been a bit elated.

Truth be told, it is amazing how motivating fear of losing a steady paycheck can be. On Tuesday, after one of my many, boring meltdowns, I finally blurted out to RR that I am giving myself three weeks. If, after those three weeks, I feel overwhelmed, behind, disadvantaged, at all incapable insofar as The Goal goes, then, say it with me now, FTLOG, I am quitting my job. I know it is completely, artificially imposed and highly subjective, but something about issuing the challenge out loud, and now on the blogosphere, gives it a real sense of commitment.

A part of me is such an arrogant jerk, though. I issue a proclamation like that, and immediately, almost as soon as the words have left my lips, a surge of adrenaline pulses through me, and in my head, there's this ridiculous machismo, this bravado that quickly takes hold. You are on this b*tch. You can't do this? Bullsh*t. Can't is for pussies. You can beat the odds. You have no time? Oh boo-f*cking hoo. Suck it up. Make it work, candy a$$. Yes, basically, I am the kind of idiot that will trash talk myself.

I allow myself to indulge in this kind of a$$hole-like behavior, because it does serve to force me into being really strict about getting my life together. I have been giving a lot of thought of late as to whether blogging is an indulgence I can afford right now. For now, it is a necessary allowance. Right now, it is a fulcrum that keeps me sane, that, strangely enough, tends to keep me to my word.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

secure the grounds for the later parade

Yesterday, I decided to remain silent rather than complain incessantly, as I have been doing of late. You can thank me later.

Entropy has been triumphing over all else. I have realized that there is only so much structure you can impose on life, because it is, by nature, chaotic. There are some tough decisions ahead that need to be made regarding where I ought to impose structure and where I have to let things go.

Last night, people were wasting my time while I was trying to get out of work. RR, for example, felt the need to give me a lecture about the realities of my life. He has put my chances of achieving The Goal at 40%, which is an upgrade from six months ago, when he put it at 30%. Given this probability estimate, he questions why I am pursuing The Goal at all. A part of me wants to half-flippantly respond: "I got nowhere else to go!"

It's only half joking, because the other half is just that amount of desperation. Even though I logically know that everything is grey on most days, I want everything to be black and white. Something about being all or nothing appeals to me, and I have trouble letting go of it. I have trouble believing there is an option where the dream of The Goal never manifests in reality, and yet still, I go on and find an alternate source of satisfaction.

This is particularly ridiculous, because once I wanted to be the greatest. Once, I had an intensity and clearness of purpose that was very nearly frightnening. It started with a simple suggestion, the simple notion that perhaps I ought to spend the summer of my sophomore year working in a research lab. I seized on this notion with such ferocity that I unnerved the friend who had made the original suggestion. That very week, I marched into the office of an organic chemistry professor I'd never previously spoken to and pitched myself at him.

I was like that, back then. I would cut out my heart and shove it in your face to prove that I meant business. I told Professor S that I would work as many hours as he wanted, that I would work unpaid, that I had to work for him, because his was the research that interested me. If I had known even the slightest about organic chemistry and research, I would have known that this was not really a tough sell. Gee, this chick walks into my office, has decent grades, doesn't want to get paid, and will basically do whatever I tell her. Hmm, let me think. Fortunately, I was blissfully naive, and so I was equally, blissfully jubilant that he granted me a position.

That was the summer that I tore away from all the previously imposed constraints on my life, the summer that I was really born. I was not supposed to sign up for a summer of research, I had not previously established my independence, and this violent rending of all cords came with consequences. I spent that summer living in the slums of Allston, working for a children's toy catalog company, taking Physics on the polar opposite end of the city, barely making rent, and working in the lab for free. The apartment in Allston was robbed the first week I moved there. There were days I rode the T with my monthly pass just to get a breath of air-conditioning. There were weeks I spent living the cliche of eating Ramen noodles for lunch and dinner.

And it might have been the best summer of my life. I felt superhuman, I felt unstoppable. I had discovered grueling hours spent running columns in the lab, and somehow swooned and fallen hard. There were days I could barely breathe, and yet I did not need oxygen. I was propelled by something else entirely. This was it, this was the thing. Nothing else seemed reliable- people, love, family could let you down. This was entirely, untouchably mine.

Here's the thing. I do not work in the lab now. And I neither wish to work in the lab now, nor regret the events that took me away from that research. If I squared with that nineteen-year old version of me, she would have spit in my face at that admission. She would have asked with disdain, "What the hell happened to you?"

Sometimes I think I killed that girl, that she had to die in order for me to live. But lately, I have been thinking that I just put her to sleep for a while. Lately, I have been yearning for that intensity again, that myopic, ruthless determination. And that is why I cannot let go of The Goal. It is all so arrogant and self-involved and ridiculous, and yet, it is so much mine. How could I possibly give it up?

Monday, March 20, 2006

the date stamped on myself

Sure, it is not football season, but Saturday, I made a rare pilgrimage to the gym, and freaked out the guy on the elliptical next to me by letting out unhidden glee and giggles over the news on the television. Jerky McOwens is heading to the Dallas Cowboys. What perfect news! What beautiful convergence. How fitting that the infamous moment that I like to call Ego has Landed involves both of these entities. Owens, with his typical sportsmanlike behavior, kept up the over-the-top antics of celebrating his touchdowns by running all the way to midfield and spiking the ball on the Cowboys logo. I still remember how revolting the spectacle was, and how I begrudgingly felt empathetic towards George Teague, who took Owens out hard the second time he pulled this at the stadium. Who hasn't wanted to clock Owens, after all? If I am not mistaken, it was this incident that really established the need to have regulations on how much these idiots are allowed to gloat about their TDs.

Anyway, I had been hoping Owens would wind up with the Cowboys. I have never been a fan of the Cowboys, and they seem to have a history of attracting some of the most obnoxious players in the sport (Michael Irvin, report to the front desk please)- so Owens ending up there makes life easier for me. And you know, I'm sure that's what everyone was worried about when they were planning this deal, so Tagliabue, thanks for doing right by a sister!

For those of you waiting for a larger font, it will happen. I have altered things slightly in the hopes that it will be more legible, but I forgot, when I was asking your opinion, that I actually have the html savvy of a third-grader. So, figuring out how to make all of this more legible is probably going to take some time. And then there is the pesky matter of having a font large enough for general legibility, but small enough to stay true to me and my very small thoughts. But clearly, the votes have been cast in a resounding manner. I am rather amazed you have managed to read all this nonsense at all, given how teeny you find the font. So, thanks for your patience.

And yes, that may well be the most boring paragraph I have ever written on this blog. Now, in deference to J, I am going to mention none of the plot-specifics of last night's episode of The Sopranos. But can I just tell you that I am so happy this show is back on the air? I think it may have restored some much-needed structure to my Sunday evenings. Besides which, even in all the darkness of New Jersey mafioso maneuverings, you get such classic moments as Paulie Walnuts calling A.J. Van Helsing. Yes, I know this makes no sense to non-Sopranos viewers, but allow me to suggest that there are better throwaway one-liners on this show than most situation comedies.

Anyway, to continue along with random, tangential nothingness, I figured out why I was calm and still this weekend. Neurons deliver signals when they are electrically excited to a certain threshold. Once they have reached this threshold, there is no going back. Everything that happens next just exacerbates things, until the voltage reaches a certain peak.

Once the voltage reaches this peak, finally, channels open to counteract the voltage. This is actually the point when the neuron fires its signal. The voltage drops as a result of the compensatory channels, and even drops a little too far. During the time that the voltage is dropping and returning back to its resting state, it cannot be excited by another signal. This is known as the refractory period.

I think there is a point in here somewhere. Last week, everything was bearing down on me, probably unreasonably so. Every last thing was just serving to heighten my sense of panic and frustration. And then I reached some kind of pinnacle where my heart was beating too quickly, where I could not breathe, the air suddenly too thin. Somehow, I shut down after that. I closed up for business, inhaled deeply, and set about taking care of what was in front of me. And during that time, I was invincible. I was in a refractory period.

Of course, now it is Monday again.

Also, is the universe conspiring against me? Because this weekend, at three different places, I heard Lonely People, which is simultaneously about loneliness and hope. This is for all the lonely people, thinking that life has passed them by. Don't give up until you drink from the silver cup and ride that highway in the sky. Hmm. So, basically, look on the bright side: you're not dead yet. Lovely thought, that.

Friday, March 17, 2006

see, I got this four leaf clover, it's got to bring a little luck

Last night, when I got home very late, I entered a sweltering apartment, realizing too late that I had neglected to turn the heat off before leaving in the morning. It has been that kind of a week, but the week is coming to a close, so there is no need to belabor that too frequently made point.

As the apartment cooled to room temperature (which makes no sense in this context but from my days of labwork, I really adore saying "I need to bring this to room temperature" because I am a dork), I wanted to do something to occupy myself. Unfortunately, cleaning the hovel did not occur to me, though it really should have. Since it was rather late, and the apartment was already a sauna, culinary dabbling was out of the question.

I ate a gingersnap (shut up, I lurve me some gingersnaps, and I don't care if they're not a good dinner substitute, they work for me) and surveyed my surroundings. A quarter of a sweater has been wasting away on an ottoman for months now, and there it still sat, glaring at me.

When I am dabbling, I often do not plan things out. I figure there is enough structure in the daily grind without imposing it on myself when I am engaged in activities that are supposed to relieve me from the feeling of oppression. Of course, this leads to a whole lot of missteps and failures. This sweater was one such victim.

Failure may be natural and necessary, but it never magically becomes fun. So, I had set the thing aside until I was feeling bold enough to hold my breath and jump into it again. You might have thought that a crappy week is not the time to take a risk. As I am highly illogical, I concluded it was the perfect time, because why not? I mean, could things have felt worse? Could I have felt less accomplished? No. So last night, I started chanting fear is the mind-killer, fear is the little death that brings total obliteration in my head, became comfortable with the fact that this might be another exercise in futility, and went to work.

And, as luck would have it, this time around, I was rewarded. I have not explained all of this well, because the details are both boring and irrelevant. Maybe I have watched too many episodes of Project Runway, but I have come to really warm to the term organic when talking about making things. As a reformed organic chemist, I have to admit that I used to bristle at the use of organic in reference to anything outside of chemistry and biology. Case in point: organic produce. Wha?!? But the idea of a process being organic, in the sense that it unfolds naturally like the development of an organism might- I can get behind that.

I like the notion of not knowing exactly where you're headed, but having faith that it is leading somewhere. I like this idea that starting something is important, and allowing it to unfold with all its fits, starts, stumbles, and do-overs is just part of the process.

p.s. If you really want to assault your senses, I advise you to listen to a children's choir covering Teenage Dirtbag. I do not know how I wound up listening to this today, but it is jarring, in a good way. If it does not at least amuse you, then I am not sure you would really be reading this blog anyway.

p.p.s. Keep voting on the poll. I'll make my decision on Monday, and then we will see if this is a cheer-ocracy or not.

p.p.p.s. Happy St. Patrick's Day! Why are you still reading this? Get out there and have a green beer for me.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

don't think twice, it's alright

First things first. Let's clear the air. I might kid around, but if there is anything I have learned from helplessly watching a car careening off a cliff (figuratively), it's that it is worth listening to the warnings of those around you. So, give me your honest opinion, and maybe, just maybe (I have commitment issues, and therefore will never promise) I will change some aspects of the aesthetics of this site. You know what P. Diddy says: Vote or Die, b*tches!

Your thoughts on fonts:
for the sake of our eyes, please super-size.
since your blog is rarely short and sweet, at least leave the font petite.
of the many flaws we discern, your font is the least of your concerns.
Free polls from

Okay, so now that we have that sillineses out of the way, let's get to the usual- whining du jour. Okay, not really. After my head nearly imploded last night when I picked up SP, after I scared the living daylights out of her by speeding down Rte. 280 like the Tazmanian Devil, I calmed down some and took stock. Certainly, I have worked much longer hours than I did yesterday. When I worked in the lab with all the cowboys, the hours I outlined yesterday would have been cause for scoffing. And I am not really an opponent of stress either, as I often work best when pressed for time. Anyway, most people have demanding jobs, that require them to work hard. The crux of the problem remains the actual work. If you enjoy what you do, being in meetings for 8 or 9 hours might seem fun, even energizing. But unfortunately, such is not the case for me right now, so I have my little meltdowns and get on with the business of living.

We headed down to RR's, and after a glass of pinot noir each, we started talking about things. SP bitterly blurted, "Who isn't unhappy, anyway?" Out came the admission that I am, by and large, happy with my life. RR & SP stared at me in disbelief. It is fair to say that my job is the one thorn in my side, but I refuse to believe it is a permanent predicament. If I believed that, I might truly be blue. But I do believe I can pull myself out of it. And so, why should I be unhappy really?

RR said, "That's kind of cool, since you hate your job. Either you're lying or you have a pretty grounded outlook on life." I am going to choose to believe the latter. In so many ways, how lucky so many of us are, to be able to ask the question at all of whether we like our jobs or not. My parents certainly never thought to ask that question. And certainly, it drives my parents a little batty that I am on this quest for job fulfillment.

Yet, at the same time, my mom has betrayed a begrudging respect for this unwavering dissatisfaction of mine recently. She has always been one more likely to resign herself to reality. She raised me to believe in that resignation, but somehow I bucked the imprint. If that is not enough to give me hope, I do not know what would be. Maybe what happened next-- this afternoon, in yet another marathon meeting, a colleague who knows of my predicament turned to me in his uncle-like manner. By the way, apparently Jewish doctors serve as really good stand-ins when you're missing the Indian uncle tendency. He leaned forward, seeing that I was out of steam, and said, "Hey, you know, I've heard plenty of Cinderella stories this year. I'm thinking good thoughts for you." From anyone else, it would have been condescending, maybe revolting. Coming from him, it was all warm fuzzies, and an added spring in my step.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

pressure pushing down on me

This was my day today:

    8:15: arrive at work, listen to voicemails, respond to two e-mails.
    8:30-11:30: meeting
    11:30 a.m-2:05 p.m: meeting while eating an orange and a cup of yogurt.
    2:05-2:10 p.m: answer frantic call from coworker. Beg to get off phone as I am late to another meeting, and-
    2:10-2:15 p.m: go to the bathroom!
    2:15-3:10: get dirty look as I get into meeting late.
    3:10-3:40: sit at my desk and try to get the room from spinning while responding to a few, precious personal emails.
    3:45-6:10: another $#@!#$ meeting.
    6:10-6:25: send out frantic email based on last meeting.
    6:25-6:30: hyperventilate
    6:30-6:35: blog
    6:35: leave to go pick up SP from BART station.

On an optimal night, hanging out in Shallow Alto is not my idea of fun times. Tonight... expect much rage.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

this time I'm losing my mind

Today is definitely a take this job and shove it-type of day. It ranks up there amongst the worst of them. There are days when my work is just pointless, but there are days like this, when it is downright frustrating. It is fairly annoying that I am working late and that there is still more to do. But it is far more annoying to see a problem plainly, and have no power to fix it. I am watching a ship sink, people. I am throwing out life rafts, and the captain is laughing in my face, dancing. Sure, the captain is headed for the abyss. You can see that. I can see that. But he cannot see that. This feeling of helplessness causes much worse ulceration than any deadline or heavy workload ever could.

Days like this, I have to remind myself that I really do not ultimately give a sh*t about all this noise. Also, it helps to listen to Gotan Project's La Revancha del Tango album at least five times. I blame the jaunt to Iluna Basque for this. Speaking of the Basque, my GBF JP is in deep, true lowe for all things basque. And he will quibble if you simply categorize him as a francophile. He once sat me down and flipped through a photography collection of the Basque Country with me for two hours, with a detailed explanation of each page, including comments like, "look how they all wear their socks." This was further excruciating because JP and his roommate (from France) kept interjecting with French babble that meant absolutely nothing to me, followed by a peel of laughter. Yeah, thanks guys, you two are f*cking hilarious!

My pseudo-bro PG seized on JP's obsession with this part of the world, and started to refer to anything really superb as the basque. It is really stupid, but as a result, conversations between them would go like this, quite naturally:
    JP: Oh, that restaurant was not very good.
    PG: Are you kidding, it was the basque.
    JP: (without missing a beat) No, it was the worse.

It is really dumb that PG gets such a kick out of messing with JP's variable command of the English language. I am apparently quite dumb then, as it never fails to make me laugh. Now, whenever the three of us are talking about something that rocks, we have to call it the basque. More proof that stupidity is contagious.

Monday, March 13, 2006

sometimes one place wants to slip into the other just to see

On Friday evening, as most San Franciscans know, some mixture of hail and snow came flowing down from the sky. It is funny how something that was commonplace and dreary can become fascinating and mesmerizing when taken out of context. The rain, sleet, snow, all of it used to be cause for much complaining when I lived on the east coast. Maybe it had something to do with the inevitability of it. And the utter predictability of it. A year was not going to pass without a snowfall, without a heavy rain, without a cold enough night to turn that rain into sleet. But in San Francisco, hail or snow is nearly magical. I was driving when it happened on Friday evening, first a few strangely slow droplets that seemed to hit the windshield with just a bit too much deliberation. And then, as if someone was drizzling a Slurpee over the city, loose clusters of ice started to fall with more ferocity.

Couple this with lightning bolts that illuminated the sky periodically, and I could not help but grin from ear to ear. It was all so wrong and right at once. The hail took all the drivers by surprise, so much so that traffic simply came to a standstill. On a Friday evening, normally, this should have been enough to make me see red, but I found it hilarious. Oodles later reasoned with me that it's the California way, this ineptitude at driving in the rain. I would like to quickly turn my nose up at this, except for the sad fact that much of San Francisco is peopled with east coast transplants. So, either California has cured them of their previous abilities, or they were never good drivers to begin with. Maybe that is why they moved to California.

Anyway, I got home and watched everyone slipping and sliding around, gathered a handful of slush from my windshield, and felt a momentary wave of longing. I missed, for a split second, the days of this kind of evil mixture being a recipe for vicious snowball fights. In just the next second, the nostalgia was gone, swept away with other memories of shoveling snow, trying to cross icy puddles in Manhattan, and long, grey, bleak winters that nearly drained me of my sense of self-preservation.

By the next day, the weather was no longer novel. It is funny how fast context can change. One minute, it's "dude, cool!" and the next minute it's "dude, enough." Hey, no one ever said I was an easy person to deal with, unless they were lying or being extremely sarcastic.

Anyway, I came to terms on Saturday with my neighborhood elitism issues. I just cannot deal. I dare not dive into all the reasons, because this is not the time for a diatribe. I will say this, instead- the silver lining around the rain clouds of North Beach is that it feels like I'm visiting from out of town when I go there. It is so not my neighborhood that it does feel like I am visiting another city. I feel this in North Beach more than any other neighborhood because there is something very vacation-land about it. It seems manufactured for non-San Franciscans, which will probably earn me the ire of San Franciscans who actually live in North Beach (of course, they probably don't read this blog, so I guess I don't have that much to worry about), but that seems to be the slant.

If you need more evidence, take this- maisnon, oodles, ads and I went to Steps of Rome for dessert, and what was the song playing when we were seated? Bob Marley's Could you be loved. Now, mind you, I'm all for this song being played everywhere, all the time, especially when trying to give the impression of being on holiday, but as maisnon put it, "Because that's what you think of when you think of Rome- Bob Marley." See, I had good company, b*tches, so I guess going to North Beach is fine by me, after all.

Friday, March 10, 2006

I just don't know what to do with myself

For the record, I am about to get way too morbid for a Friday. But I feel like recording this somewhere, so as usual, too bad for the few of you. I have written before about my strange logic when it comes to impending death- when I am flying on airplanes, I always take a deep breath and get comfortable with the notion of crashing.

Maybe it is not so strange. Maybe everyone does it. But I was thinking about dying last night. It was not just because it was ridiculously cold outside, and I was worried I was going to collapse from hypothermia (okay, that's an exaggeration, but by San Francisco standards, it is extremely frigid these days). And I was not at all depressed. In fact, I had just talked to a friend who is really down in the dumps. A lot of my friends have been in a slump of late, and one has been saying worrisome things. Some of the highlights have been:
  • You'll be sorry when I'm dead.
  • I've been staying home because I'm like one of those wounded animals who retreats to a corner.
  • My life is certainly circling the drain.
  • Don't rush depression.

Some of that noise is funny for the sheer absurdity, but it actually has me a little concerned. Really, her life is not that different from mine. In fact, I think she is, in many ways, better off than me. I keep thinking about why she is depressed and I am not. I know that is a little self-absorbed. But I genuinely wonder, because I am reaching the point where I do not know what more to do to snap her out of the funk.

I complain a lot. About everything. Incessantly. And I demand a lot out of life. Too much. More than is actually even possible. Yet, if you asked me today, I would tell you I could leave this world content. I told W the other day that I feel my cells are inhabited by a parasitic optimist that may one day kill me. I do, in fact, brim with hope, although the average person who meets me might never guess that. That is okay. I am very selfish about hope. It is mine, all mine, and no one need know anything about it but me. Well, and you, patient readers.

When I was young, I sort of swooned for Saul Bellow's Henderson the Rain King. The main character was a kind of jerk, a big lug of a fellow who stomped around like a bull in a china shop messing everything up. But he had an undeniable yearning. There is something about that which feels familiar to me. This idea of wanting everything, or more importantly, never feeling resigned, never not wanting, it is so vital to me.

I have never thought about wanting in the sense of- If only I had X, I would be content and happy. I know I am not built like that. I will always want more; I am the eternal malcontent. But nothing makes me happier than wanting something badly, even when I haven't ultimately attained what I wanted. There is no better way to feel urgently alive.

It makes it easy to die, if that makes any sense. I am happy with what I have, but I want so much more. That is living. When I die, all I will surrender is the wanting. And even until the last second, I will be smiling as I want just one more second. My parents are superstitious, and, if they read this, they would probably be horrified that I would issue such a proclamation, as if I was tempting fate. But cheesy enough as it sounds, I feel like I do just that, every morning that I get up and walk out in this world.

p.s. Just to lighten this shizz up, last weekend, after getting a neck massage at the salon that had me in euphoria, I sat down at the chair and my song was playing on the stereo. Just as I was about to settle on pledging my undying faith to this salon for the rest of my days, the stylist walked over, groaned and said, "Now can we listen to something else, please?" Why do you build me up, buttercup baby, just to let me down?

Thursday, March 09, 2006

we couldn't all be cowboys, so some of us are clowns

So, last week, I bored a bunch of you to tears by talking about antisense technology as a therapeutic approach to treating cancer. ads, being ads, jumped in with the idea of siRNAs and shRNAs. I dwelled in nerdy bliss for a few days over this. And then, today, I discovered that a paper was just published that proves that siRNAs and shRNAs can suppress the activity of two flaviviruses (and one of them is the often-discussed in California West-Nile Virus) in mice. Granted, this was proven in mice. And yes, the molecules had to be injected directly into each mouse's brain. But it worked.

That last paragraph might seem like a bunch of gibberish, but the take away is this: there has not been developed a cure for West-Nile Virus by any means. But a step has been taken. And that is how it always goes in research. You take one step forward, and it can seem monumental. And sometimes it is monumental. But it is one step. And there are many steps before you discover whether you are on a path to a major breakthrough or you are just barreling into a brick wall.

Research, then, seems to require some specific characteristics in people. First, it requires that making a single step feels purposeful enough. Of course, it really is purposeful. Even if that winds up being a step on a dead-end path, you have to make the map, or the next person is doomed to stumble around just as blindly. Still, that is easy to write, and hard to believe when you have spent five years trying to elucidate the structure of one molecule, for example. Secondly, it demands a single-mindedness that keeps you from second-guessing yourself. You need to be smart enough to know you might be wrong, but have the cojones to say, f*ck it, b*tches, and take that next step anyway. More often than not, this also means you need a doggedness that tells you to strive for victory where others have failed. With most discoveries, it is not that the explorer was the first to think of it. It's that they were the first to not talk themselves out of it. And that is quite a tightrope to walk, between brilliance and madness.

The favorite example I have seen play out of this is Judah Folkman. When I was an undergraduate, my professors used to all sniff upon mention of Folkman, and elude to him being slightly off-kilter and very much arrogant. For decades, he had been advancing his firm belief that cancer tumors were angiogenesis-dependent. What is angiogenesis? It is the act of growing new blood vessels. The idea here is that tumors, in order to continue to feed their out-of-control growth, need to spring their own blood vessels to keep wreaking havoc. For a long time, Folkman was fairly alone on the pulpit preaching about angiogenesis.

His work has since been thoroughly validated. In fact, one of the bigger breakthroughs in oncology therapy in the last five years has been the emergence of anti-angiogenesic therapy. Shut off a tumor's blood supply, and it cannot grow anymore. It is not a cure, but it is extending patients' survival.

But here's the thing: Folkman has been saying it since 1971, and it was not until 2003 that the tree truly bore fruit. That is a long wait. How did he know that he was onto something real and true in 1971? How did he know that it was worth shouting out from the rooftops? How did he stay so determined to prove he was right through decades of rolled eyes? And was any of it conscious at all? I always wonder in these situations- is this just how he saw the world? In his world, in his head, it made sense. And he just wasn't cut from the kind of fabric that would doubt his own mind.

I do not know. But I remain in awe, while deeply aware of my own shortcomings in this area. Forget about research. I can't even trust my own mind on the day-to-day drudgeries of existence.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

I don't know why I know these things, but I do

The good: news of the season premiere of the Sopranos has me a-flutter. The best thing about watching the Oscars last weekend may have been the thinly veiled Sopranos commercial. All I need hear is woke up this morning, got yourself a gun, and I am school-girl giddy.

The bad: Here it is International Women's Day (thanks for pointing it out, Chai!) and all the boys are up in my grill. First, I have a rare conversation with W, and suddenly it turned into harassment. I found this particularly peculiar because, in the same breath, he complained about relationships and then demanded to know why I was not involved in one. Wha?!? Not five minutes later, RR walked into my office, and as if they had timed a 1-2 KO, he started in on me. You know you are about to get a verbal punch in the face when you hear the question: "You know what your problem is?"

Truth be told, I do not take this kind of haranguing too much to heart. If anything, I am slightly endeared by it, because I find it so bizarre that men are spending any brain cells worrying about me. As I told W when pressed repeatedly about it, "it makes sense in my head, but it's hard to articulate- a common problem for me." A much more minor part of my brain arches a bit for the simple reason that I feel like these dudes are trying to get into my head and figure me out. I do not know why that should annoy me at all, but it somehow does. Sigh. I am starting to yearn for yesterday's inappropriate discussions.

Since it is International Women's Day, it seems important to note how much I am aware of my good fortune. As a woman who was lucky enough to get a passable education, I have been fortunate enough to make my own living, to have the means to live independently. Even when there may have been external pressures exerted, there has ultimately been a choice in nearly everything I have ever done. I have never been physically abused by a loved one. I was once assaulted, but I had the good luck of a) escaping unscathed and b) taking self-defense classes as a result (ask me to show you how to deliver a swift heel palm or knee to the groin).

All of the things I have listed put me in an elite position when compared with the majority of women in the world. I do not write that as a boast. So many of the things we take for granted matter-of-factly as opportunities available to women are completely shut off for the greater population. It does not make me special. It makes the state of women in the world seem still wholly dissatisfying. Even if you sidestep the difficult question of economics, there are basic human rights that many women in the world are not afforded. And then there are the rights to reproductive freedom that are being taken away from us within our country, which is not just wrong, but truly depressing. I know that history is somewhat of a cycle, that certain mistakes are destined to be made over and over again, but there are some strides that have been made that should be irreversible. When I hear about all the ways women are moving backwards, I am so troubled that I become mute. Again, the thoughts are in my head but they are difficult to articulate.

And with that, I am off of the soapbox, and on to the bro-seph's to go watch Project Runway. Honestly, I do not really want anyone to win. After all, I have my own big victory: I have managed to get the bro-seph hooked on watching a show about fashion design. I also like to tell him to make it work, and then he is embarassed when he knows what I am talking about. It is great fun- I urge you to try it with your male friends.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

it's the same every day and the wave won't break

I just ate two Joseph Schmidt chocolates, and I feel the impending stomach ache, but I do not care. I am self-destructive like that. I am going to blame that on listening to Worldwide Suicide one too many times today. Here goes the last three hipster points I have been clinging to, but I have remained a steadfast Pearl Jam fan for longer than I have stayed friends with most people. I think Stereogum put it best when they offered this challenge to their readers:
And to the fans, haters, and indie snobs, let's see your best analogy ... Which of this/last year's new bands could possibly follow the grunge kings' curious career path: i.e., peak critically and commercially with their debut (causing a series of shitty imitators), remain steadfastly political and anti-commercial (no MTV, no Ticketmaster, no Bush), yet maintain a dedicated fanbase for 15 years?

The new song is pretty good and available free for download at their own site. It is not for me to convince anyone to adore Pearl Jam. They do just fine without me, and sell out stadium-sized venues every time they tour, partly because they rock concerts like nobody's business. Maybe I can get some of my indie points back by noting that PJ has often had fantastic bands open for them like Death Cab, Sonic Youth, and Sleater-Kinney. No? Oh well.

Anyway, truth be told, I am writing about that because I am too frazzled to write about much else. I spent my lunch hour subjected to two male coworkers talk about the best tests at Costco to measure ovulation and how often to get busy in order to maximize the chances of getting the job done. Yes, you understood me correctly. At many points during the conversation, I tried interjecting to steer it in a different direction. At one point, I said, "I think I preferred when you guys were talking about remodeling your kitchens. Can we go back to talking about tile colors?" But they ignored me and kept right on chatting about how to get their wives knocked up. Why men constantly feel comfortable sharing this kind of information with me is way beyond my grasp.

Then I capped the day off with a two-hour meeting that ended with me leaving the room, heading to RR's office, and entreating him with the following request: "So, you're against gun control. Would you kindly shoot me in the head? Because they are killing me."

He said, "That sounds like something that was translated from English to French back into English again." Unhelpful bastard.

Monday, March 06, 2006

been lying right here on the floor

When I should have been studying, I wasted a few hours watching overpaid actors act even more self-important than usual. Here are my more self-important than usual thoughts on the 78th:
  • Is there any human being that has no chemistry with the Clooney (okay, besides Julia Roberts, who Jon Stewart has previously called an alien anyway)? I mean, Pitt, Mahky Mahk, Nicole Kidman, Jennifer Lopez, okay, but even Jon Stewart? When he made bedroom eyes at Stewart, I swooned. And his speech was decent too. Damn you, Clooney. I have already explained that I do not want to like you, but you. are. killing. me.
  • Is it possible that Naomi Watts, in a fit of fury over seeing Heath Ledger and Michelle Williams happily strolling the red carpet, tore up the top of her dress, and then her publicist desperately attempted to glue it back on before she had to present? Otherwise, who would have let her go outdoors looking like that?
  • It would have been so much funnier if Jennifer Garner had actually fell, instead of tripping twice on her dress. Okay, I guess I am still bitter about Vaughn and the demise of Alias.
  • Jon Stewart's "Martin Scorcese: 0 Oscars, 3-6 Mafia: 1 Oscar" worked on so many levels that it was perfect. I know a lot of people felt Stewart was too subdued, but I thought it was a much better pitch than Billy Crystal's over-the-top antics. Like Hollywood is not sufficiently full of itself.
  • I hate biopics. Therefore, I liked the dig Stewart took at Walk the Line, and I absolutely adored Joaquin's b*tch-face at the joke. I think there should be a new award at the Oscars for the most humorless bastard. Last year it was Sean Penn. This year, it is a toss-up between Joaquin Phoenix and Charlize Theron. I think Theron might have just been pissed because someone giftwrapped her before she got into her limo.
  • There is something scary about seating Jack Nicholson next to Keira Knightley. I'm just saying.
  • Reese Witherspoon's "just trying to matter" bit was dangerously close to Sally Field's "you really like me!" speech.

Sadly, due to these stupid musings and observations, I am likely to fail the easiest exam I will likely ever take. This makes me sad. Especially because, instead of burying my head in a book during all the boring rambling and pointless movie montages, I turned my attention to making these for the preemie twins that just were just delivered by my coworker's wife:

I expect that I will be drinking Ensure any day now, thank you very much.

Oodles and I have been testing each other to see if one of us combusts from hanging out with each other. I am happy to announce that there have been no explosions to date. Therefore, whether she would like to admit it or not, she is going to Spain with me. Anyone else is welcome, although you may be subjected to the same pressure tests.

Also, in my tireless pursuit of wasting money, I bought some cappucino chips on Saturday. Who knows what will become of these, but I am assembling quite a collection of ridiculously flavored chips now. Some day, one of you poor souls may find yourself on the receiving end of a mint, cappucino, white chocolate, caramel swirl, peanut butter, butterscotch, dark chocolate chip cookie. Run. Run away now.

Friday, March 03, 2006

every move you make, every bond you break

Do you ever get the sense that some people are using that extra little bit of brain capacity that others don't? Or that they are simply on more than others are? If you have never felt that way, I would advise that you meet Saheli some time. Her brain goes to 11, people.

She may have been indulging me by asking a question about oncogenes, and whether we can figure out how to turn them off. Of course, I failed spectacularly at explaining it in any kind of coherent manner, especially when I launched into a really poor explanation of antisense technology. I shall try to make amends by attempting to explain it again here.

Genes live deep in your cells. They call the shots in the body from their central command center in the nucleus. An oncogene is simply a gene that has gone bad. As a result of a mutation, a normal gene is altered such that it sends the wrong commands. These commands inevitably lead to your cells thinking it is time to proliferate, and that is how the big C gets its start.

Saheli asked if oncogenes can be turned off. Directly or indirectly, most targeted anticancer therapies are trying to do just that. The most direct method of turning off an oncogene is the use of antisense. How does an oncogene, or a gene in general, really command a cell? Well, genes are DNA. It is easy to think of DNA as a blueprint for our body, and something that is passed on during replication, but it is important to remember why it runs the show.

DNA makes RNA, and RNA makes proteins. If you have bad DNA, you have bad RNA, and all of sudden, you may have more protein than you wanted. With oncogenes, more often than not, this excess of protein then signals cells to start dividing out of control. DNA is the boss, RNA make up middle management, some proteins make up supervisors, while other proteins are worker bees. Everything is connected and signalling each other. It is actually a little ovewhelming to think about how interrelated everything in just a single cell is.

Antisense cuts through the red tape and goes straight for the boss. By creating a sequence of complementary nucleotides, it is possible to selectively block the bad DNA from making bad RNA. The antisense molecule has got your number, bad DNA! It is such a beautiful concept that it can seem like the silver bullet cure to cancer. Unfortunately, there are weaknesses. In order to get to the bad DNA, an antisense molecule has to get inside the cell and then into the nucleus. Since it is a string of nucleotides, however, getting it past all of the body's usual clearance mechanisms is nearly impossible. Furthermore, even assuming you can get the molecule to stick around, there is the additional challenge of getting it to enter the cancer cell selectively, and then into the nucleus. I am tired just writing about how far this little hobbit has to travel to destroy the ring.

The situation, as always, is not hopeless however. Since research has shown that injecting a nucleus directly with antisense molecules can turn off the oncogene, it is too important an approach to simply discard. Instead, research is being conducted to see if these antisense molecules can be harnessed with delivery systems, systems that will protect the molecules from being chopped apart by the body, and getting them specifically into a cancer cell. But those are topics for another day.

Hmmm. Unfortunately, I am not sure that was any better an explanation than what I came up with last night. Look on the bright side- at least I am not blogging about the gender divide today, and it is Friday.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

an hour of sunshine for a million years of rain

It is possible that I mistakenly hung up on Saheli this morning. You know when you think someone has said goodbye and you think they've hung up, but then you get off the phone and wonder if you maybe hung up on them instead? Or am I the only one this neurotic? Anyway, Saheli, if you're reading this, don't hold it against me!

In truth, Saheli has already been unnecessarily patient with me. I was supposed to call her last night, but got a phone call from SP that turned into me yelling at her for 1.5 hours in the hopes of snapping her out of her funk. I am going to be honest, people- I am not the right person for this job. With my own doledrum issues in tow, it is exceedingly difficult to browbeat someone else into embracing a Sister Mary Sunshine outlook on life.

This brings me to a matter of some unpleasantness. I am a little loathe to confess this, because it may scare away the occasional XY (TM Mimosa) that does wander over here. Still, I am all about letting inappropriate things into the public domain. I do not know if it is because I have more friends who are women than I used to when I was younger, or if it is because this is what women experience as time marches on, or if it is because I have become more of an alien over time and thus spend more time absorbing other people's experiences. I can't trace it back to an exact reason, but I feel like I have become enveloped and surrounded by tales of horror and tragedy when it comes to men.

For a while, I was allowing a lot of this to seep into my being. I began shrugging a lot of things off as animal instinct, and advising SP, "they're all pigs, so go wade into the sh*t and find yourself a hog." Romantic, no? But lately, I have found myself actively meditating, chanting to myself "All men are not pigs, all men are not pigs, all men are not pigs" or "There are nice men out there, there are nice men out there, there are nice men out there" or some similar repetitive sentiment.

What is particularly sad is that I know men who prove this sentiment. I should not need to convince myself of it. The guys I have dated have been neither pigs nor jerks. Things did not work out because sometimes things do not work out, not because the dude was a spectacular a$$hole. Okay, except for maybe that one time. My closest friends are neither pigs nor jerks, but they are men. I am quite close to my brother, and he... okay, well he might be a bit of a pig.

I do not know what I am writing, really. I do not know what my point is. Maybe it is so obvious that it does not need articulation. I feel like I need to filter out all the noise of all the bad experiences of people around me. It isn't that I do not want to hear them or to be there for my friends. But it is so easy to take it all to heart, to collect data and try to draw conclusions. But these are individual data, and the interactions between a man and a woman are far too complex to sum up into the easy generalizations that seem to fit. Count on me to lean on science for the final analysis.

In other, vaguely related news, I realized yesterday that I have had a crush on a coworker for over two years now. All I know about him is his name, that he has wild and unruly hair, that he once gave a presentation severely hung over (and got heckled rather hilariously for it), and that he eats his lunch alone in the cafeteria every day. Kids, that is all it takes for me.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

fix the toaster

The bad news: my laptop is on the brink of collapse. The good news is two-fold: technically, it's not my laptop and there is a fair chance that it will be replaced with a Mac. A Mac, b*tches! Because I am both a luddite and a corporate slave, I have been stuck in PC-land since graduating from college. And let's just say the Macs back then were considerably less, well, sexy.

The bro-seph and most of my extended family would be revolted by my jubilation over all things Apple. Actually, they'd likely be more revolted by my shocking lack of tech savvy. Or maybe that, even given that tech savvy, I find myself publishing these idiotic ramblings semi-regularly on the web. Let's just say, in general, my family is revolted by me. The bro-seph gets particularly peeved, because he believes Apple markets for style over substance. But riddle me this: he doesn't own an iPod, so which of us is really more tech-tarded?

It is important to note that the computer crashed twice during the writing of this post, and I still have not managed to come up with more interesting things to tell you. Instead, I will just point out that some personas muy importante are celebrating birthdays: Abhi kind of had one some time in between yesterday and today, and Maitri, being more concrete in nature, is celebrating hers today. Go wish them many happy returns of the day, as my grandfather would say. By the way, if anyone understands what that really means, let me know. My cousins and I all like to say it to each other, just because we are cheesy like that and are fond of mimicking phrases we do not understand.

I have been thinking about the family a lot lately, and not just because I have been imagining their horrified expressions at my possible Mac. There was a time when much of my family lived in a two-mile radius of each other. When I was nearly ten, I went from having no family in EBF to all family, all the time. And as stifling as that could occasionally be, I do not mind admitting that I never feel more comfortable, more fully myself, than when I am with my extended family.

That is particularly strange, given that they really do not understand me, and are often diametrically opposed to me in terms of views. It is nearly laughable, as my opinions are usually swept aside as completely outlandish. I sometimes think it is because women's opinions are not prized possessions in my family, but I have to conclude it has more to do with them believing I come from an entirely different planet. Maybe there is a comfort in being on the outside though, or having a defined role.

Some people are even more on the outside though. My mother called me today, having just returned from India. She mentioned my cousin J, who runs with the rich and fabulous in Mumbai. J has only come out to a few of my cousins, but it was not too hard for most of us to guess anyway. My mother reported that she harassed J about getting married, which immediately caused me to laugh. And then she tried to explain to me that J thinks marriage is archaic, and this made me laugh even more. I sort of yearn for him to come out of the closet, because he is so well-loved by my family that they would have no choice but to get over their issues. Plus, my mother would stop thinking I laugh at stupid things. Actually, I do laugh at stupid things, but at least my mom would stop thinking so.