May 30, 2009

Sociology 101

I've got a lot of random stuff hanging out as "drafts" of blog posts, including a couple poems and snippets of short fiction. Now's as good a time as any to get some of it posted! Please let me know what you think.


Class is well under way when she flings open the door. The professor, an eccentric Turkish woman with a booming voice, stops mid-sentence. Every head in the room turns toward the new arrival.

She is dressed in white short-shorts and a red halter top. Huge metal hoops swing hypnotically from her earlobes. Her dark hair is styled in that casual way that speaks of hours spent in front of a dorm mirror, getting it just so. Her eyes are laden with color and her lips glisten with tacky gloss. It's 10 AM on a Tuesday, and she's wearing body glitter.

"Sorry I'm late," she announces. "I couldn't find a parking spot."

The teacher nods uncertainly and gestures for her to take a seat. She clicks and clacks across the room in too-tall heels, as if she were walking down the runway rather than a row of desks. The purse that swings from her elbow matches her bright pink nail polish. When she finally settles in the seat next to mine, she dips those manicured fingers into her bag and fishes out a minuscule notebook and a stylish pen. She catches my eye and flashes a smile full of perfect, white teeth.

There's no denying that she's cute. Not beautiful or attractive, but cute like those overblown "teen" dolls with the jutting hips and bee-stung lips. I'm not sure what upsets me more - the fact that she's getting what she wants (attention, power, maybe happiness) from this sick-making display, or the fact that I'm actually jealous.

Coming soon...

In a world where something terrible has happened, probably in the distant future, archetypes will arise. A hero ... with a special ability and/or tragic past. A villain ... who is connected to that hero in some way. A woman ... useful mostly for sex scenes and being kidnapped. Watch as actions explode into violence in: Every Action Movie Every Made!

Note: much better when read aloud in the style of the late, great Don LaFontaine. Partly inspired by Matthew McConaughey’s Next 10 Movie Posters, partly inspired by random conversation with my roommate.

May 28, 2009

Watch out, Augusten Burroughs

Last night, I was thinking to myself that I hadn't seen Mr. Rogers in a while. Mr. Rogers is a congenial gentleman I met through Toastmasters, who also happens to live in my condo complex. That's right ... I live in Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood. What's more, he and his wife are just too adorable for words. He's always giving me tips about how to conserve energy in my home and car (did you know it's better to turn the A/C all the way to blue, because otherwise you're mixing hot and cold air?). Her manners and style are impeccable - when I'm her age, I hope I look half as good. And when I needed to borrow a leveler to hang curtains, it was the Rogers(es?) to the rescue! I had promised to invite them over sometime for dinner, and last night I was regretting that I hadn't followed up on that.

This morning, who should I run into in the parking lot? Mr. Rogers. We chatted for a few minutes, giving me enough time to renew my invitation and make tentative plans ("sometime later in June - I'll email you!"). I came to work with a smile on my face. Clearly my thoughts had gone out into the universe and caused Mr. Rogers to take out his trash this morning at just the right moment to catch me on my way to my car. But Sri, you might say, isn't it much more likely that it was a coincidence? That's what the ladies at work said, in between fits of laughter. But all merriment immediately ceased when I delivered the coup de grĂ¢ce:

One of my bosses came in early today, singing:
It's a beautiful day in this neighborhood,
A beautiful day for a neighbor.
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?
Won't you be ... my neighbor?

True story.

May 27, 2009

Good News! I'm Competent!

Last week I gave my tenth speech for Toastmasters, completing the introductory speech manual. I've posted several of my speeches on this blog, so you know that I've been working on this for about a year now. Here's a list of my completed projects (with links when available):

1 (Icebreaker): Words Have Power
2 (Organize Your Speech): Carrier Screening and You
3 (Get to the Point): Bringing Up Bunny
4 (How to Say It): Bridesmaid Bootcamp
5 (Your Body Speaks): My Trip to Egypt
6 (Vocal Variety): Speaking Indian
7 (Research Your Topic): Progress in Cloning
8 (Get Comfortable with Visual Aids): Learning to Knit
9 (Persuade with Power): Creationism vs Evolution
10 (Inspire Your Audience): Proud to be an American

Huh. I thought I had posted more of my speeches. Well, some of them are technical and boring, and at least one of them didn't actually get written so much as improvised ... *shifty eyes*

Now that I've finished these, I've earned the title of "Competent Communicator" - damning with faint praise, much? Still, I'm proud of myself. The next step is to work on Advanced Manuals. I was going to get Storytelling or Humorous Speaking, but I figured I don't need those as much as Persuasive Speaking and Facilitating Discussions. Blah.

May 22, 2009

Everything Old is New Again

I am not going to pretend that I watched the new Star Trek movie with any sort of critical eye. So don't expect a well-reasoned review, peppered with sarcastic quips and fascinating insights. Strap yourselves in for some pure, unadulterated fangirl-ish squealing. Oh, and just chock-a-block with spoilers. You have been warned.

1. OMG Uhura/Spock OTP!!!
From the trailers I got the impression that Kirk and Uhura were knocking boots, and just sort of rolled my eyes and went with it. I mean, she was female and within a 100 mile radius - of course he was going to sleep with her! But then she and Spock got on the turbolift and started sucking face - hotttt.

2. Scotty = LOVE
I knew that I was going to enjoy Simon Pegg's rendition of everyone's favorite Chief Engineer. I didn't know I would want to crawl inside the movie screen and cuddle him to death. When he said, "I'm givin' you all she's got, Captain!" I shouted in joy. I don't think the other movie patrons appreciated that very much, but whatever.

3. Kirk's nails are amazingly strong
He was able to hang by his fingertips from stuff for, like, 1/3 of the movie. He must drink a lot of milk. Or maybe he uses that seaweed stuff on his cuticles.

4. Leonard Nimoy should do cameos in everything
Old Spock: You should stay in Star Fleet.
New Spock: But there are so few Vulcans left, I have to go back and help repopulate!
Old Spock: Don't worry, I got that. I mean, genetically we're the same so...
New Spock: Are you sure?
Old Spock: Let me think - living a second lifetime of danger versus spending my golden years nailing hot Vulcan babes? Yeah, I'm pretty sure.

One thing I didn't like: Bones saying, "Dammit, I'm a doctor, not a physicist!" It came across as cheesey. But maybe that was the point. Overall, I'm calling this reboot of the Star Trek universe a win. It was a bold move - this fandom is notoriously detail-oriented and demanding, and rewriting canon was a bit of a risk. Any other Trekkers out there want to weigh in?


More lyrics!
"Don't throw the past away.
You might need it, some rainy day.
Dreams can come true again
When everything old is new again!"
Everything Old is New Again, Peter Allen

May 20, 2009

Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions...

Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.
- Mark Twain

Ah, the artist formerly known as Clemens - he was so very, very wise. Of course he also has been quoted as saying, after seeing opera for the first time, "I haven't heard anything like that since the orphanage burned down!" Which is why he's my hero.

A month ago I applied to a fellowship up in D.C. I haven't heard word one since I got an email indicating my application had been received. As far as I know, none of my references have been contacted. Every day I check my email accounts (yes, accounts, plural... how else am I supposed to maintain my various secret identities?) with my heart in my throat, waiting for some news. Every day, I am disappointed. And every day, a little voice in my head gets louder and louder.

Why would they pick you? It sneers. You haven't given any talks or published any papers. You're not the expert in anything - no one knows your name. And even if they gave it to you, what could you possibly do with it? You're stuck in a dead end job because you belong there, because mediocrity is the best you can achieve. Just give up.

I want to keep away from small people. But sometimes it seems that I'm the person belittling my ambitions. *sigh*

By the way, I've noticed an increased frequency of "voices in my head" references. Don't worry - I'm not developing schizophrenia or dissociative identity disorder. At least... I don't think I am.

May 18, 2009

Big Game Hunter

This weekend I traveled up to D.C. to participate in the Post Hunt, an event designed to tease the brain, tickle the fancy, and make you hate Floridians. For those of you too lazy to click the above link and/or just freakin' Google it, the Post Hunt is "a scavenger-type Urban puzzle that is based on skill." It entails running around D.C. with a special section of the Sunday newspaper, trying to solve riddles and basically acting like a crazy person. Good times had by all!

A word re: Floridians. They've been doing a similar event in Miami for two decades now. Apparently, that's not enough for them; several teams come up from Florida to horn in on our hunt. Last year, the team that won was from Miami, but it was hardly a fair competition - it was like a college intramural baseball team going against a Little League. Plus, first prize was... wait for it... a freakin' trip to Florida. And this year, the winners got $2000 - less than a team's hotel/airfare/dining expenses. As my teammate Stephanie pointed out, "They just do it to be douche-baggy."

On the bright side, Chris, Stephanie and I found that our performance was much improved the second time around. We knew which of our brainstormed ideas were too far-fetched, and which were not far-fetched enough. Our team was rounded out by a couple of their co-workers, as well as Stephanie's family. We had figured out the penultimate clue before the end of the game. And while we didn't come close to winning, we did much better than last year. Even better, a D.C. team won the challenge! Take that, you smug Miami bastards.

For a detailed recap, check out my teammate Michelle's blog. She's a professional photographer, so the pictures look amazing! WARNING: the remainder of her blog may not be work-safe. I noticed that she has some (and I can't emphasize this enough - professional) boudoir shots up there.

May 13, 2009

Refinacing Woes

My dad once told me, "if you're not liberal at 20 you haven't got a heart ... but if you're not conservative by 40 you haven't got a brain!" And I laughed, because I knew deep in my soul I'd always be a pinko feminist tree-hugging Democrat. Nothing was going to change that.

And then I tried to refinance.

It was a seller's market when I purchased my condo, and I want to take advantage of the current low interest rate. Even after the housing market self-destructed, I figured I was still in a decent position. My credit is good, I've never missed a payment, and my mortgage is with the same bank I've been with all my life. Should be pretty simple, right?

Ha. Ha. Ha.

Long story short, after weeks of meetings and phone calls and emails and appraisals and fees, I've been rejected not once, but twice by my bank. They even told me they couldn't work with me through the Making Home Affordable program. When I went to the Credit Union, however, I was told that the only people who could use that program is my bank. So it's not that they can't help me refinance ... it's that they won't.

A tiny, angry voice in my head wants to know: "How come all those people who made bad decisions get a break, and I don't?" With dawning horror, I identify the source of the commotion. It's my inner Repbulican, who up until now has been gagged and bound to a chair. "This is bullshit! I'm a hardworking American - I pay my taxes!"

Bashing her over the head with a mallet, I drag her back into the corner where she belongs. Let's hope she stays unconscious for another couple decades... She scares me.

May 11, 2009

The Weirdness/Coolness of the Internet

Today my friend Chris' tag line read: "I need to know what a kidney looks like." I was ... on my lunch break (*shifty eyes*), so I decided to do a quick Google Image search. The results were pretty much what you'd expect - diagrams from DIY organ transplant instructions, photographs from semi-legal Chinese autopsies, that sort of thing. And then, inexplicably, this:

It's from a site called I Heart Guts - the happiest internal organs on Earth! You can order plush representations of all sorts of organs and glands. I checked out the FAQs, but apparently no one thought to ask, "Seriously?" or "WTF?" At the same time - plush organs! How cool is that?!? And just in case you wanted to know what to get me for my birthday...

It's a pancreas!

Chris' response: "Ha, thanks. But I'm looking at a CT scan. And I think the thing smiling at me is a gallbladder."

May 8, 2009

Too Much Food

I was having dinner the other day with my friends Brendan, Sarah, and their unborn fetus (whom I refer to as Malachi) at a Mexican restaurant. "I want either a fajita or a quesadilla," I said. Then, skimming down the menu, and saw it - Fajita Chicken Quesadilla. Perfection. A smiling waitress took our orders and within minutes we had our food. As I tucked into my exactly-what-I-had-in-mind meal, it occurred to me: Mexican is the new Diner Food. You walk in knowing what you want and knowing you can get it. This standardization is comfortable as well as practical - even in a group of relative strangers, going out for Mexican is a pretty safe bet.

That got me to thinking... what's the new Mexican food? Probably Chinese - almost everyone eats it, but it's still exotic enough to make the meal feel a bit special. "Let's go out for Chinese," you might say. "Shake things up a bit." That would make Indian the new Chinese food, Thai the new Indian, and - I dunno - Korean the new Thai. Then again, as Brendan very wisely pointed out ... what's the new Korean food?


P.S. Obligatory lyric reference:
"Now you're about to get cut up or get cut down
It's all about the know how all just a matter of taste
Stop telling me the way I gotta play. Too much food on my plate."
Too Much Food, Jason Mraz

May 6, 2009

Bigger Than My Body

Sometimes I catch a glimpse of myself in a full length mirror, or in a photo taken from a distance, and I think to myself, "ugh, I'm so fat!" This is not something that occurs to me when I'm dressing, or showering, or any other time I'm alone with my body. But then I get caught unaware by my reflection in an office window, and I'm struck anew with horror. I'm not an idiot - I know how much I weigh (too much), how big my waist is (too big), and how wide my thighs are (too wide). Somehow, knowing these things is different from seeing them. Knowing is what I can do in the back of my mind, privately chastising myself for eating a bowl of ice cream instead of going for a jog. Seeing is what other people do - I imagine them seeing my fat body and thinking, "ugh!"

Then again... I don't usually look at someone who is overweight with disgust. Empathy, maybe. The thing is, we all have body issues. When someone is overweight, or underweight, or has the right amount of fat but it's distributed "incorrectly," they assume that everyone around them sees them as ugly. When someone is "perfectly" proportioned, they worry that others look at the and only see a beautiful body. I mean, I assume as much - any supermodels (or supermodels in training) reading this blog, feel free to chime in. We are a society that is body-obsessed, when we would be better served to be health-obsessed. My mother has type II diabetes, and my father (despite his current state of denial) has heart disease. These should be my reasons to exercise and eat right, not the desire to conform to some impossible standard. Someday soon, I want to be able to see my body without thinking, "ugh!" More importantly, I want to be able to see my body at age 90, saggy and decrepit and alive.


P.S. Apparently, I've become addicted to song lyric post titles.
"Someday I'll fly
Someday I'll soar
Someday I'll be so damn much more
'Cause I'm bigger than my body
Gives me credit for."
Bigger Than My Body, John Mayer