Dec 2, 2010

It's Gonna Be The Future Soon

Writer's block. That's all the explanation/apology for the lack of posting that you're going to get. Deal with it.

So, last week was my ten-year high school reunion. I had mixed feelings about it - one one hand, I have degrees in Neuroscience and Genetics, and am completing a prestigious fellowship in DC. I've also lost a bit of weight and learned to tweeze my extremely South Asian eyebrows. On the other hand, in all other respects I am exactly the same person I was in high school... read: a huge nerd. Also, I am not married and don't have children. While those are not necessarily my current goals, I'm only a minor iconoclast and therefore must acknowledge some societal norms. Besides, even Nick got married and had a kid. NICK! (Sorry, Nick. Love to Trish.)

Regardless of my shortcomings, real and perceived, I screwed my (liquid) courage to the sticking place and went. And I actually had a great time. I have kept in touch with several of my high school friends via Facebook (many thanks to Dan, Ann, Jessi, Jenn, and Liz for the moral support), so I had a solid cadre of allies. I met several people who live in DC now, which is always nice. And I choose to believe that Trevor was amused rather than annoyed when I trapped him in a conversation about his painting. (Right, Trevor? Right?!?)

A part of me was dreading this reunion - but then again, doesn't everyone? We envision that all the petty rivalries and trivial slights of high school will carry forward (a la Romy and Michelle). Somehow, we forget that ten years have past - do we really remember who refused to be chemistry partners with us, who snubbed us in the hallway? Even if we remember, do we really care?

Maybe some people do - but they probably chose to stay home, rather than suffer the company of people they despise and who they imagine despise them. It was an fun crowd, and I even followed up on a few promises to "friend" people on Facebook. P.S. When did "friend" become a verb? Anyway, I'm already looking forward to the twenty-year reunion... maybe I'll even have my life together by then.


"It's gonna be the future soon!
I won't always be this way,
When the things that make me weak and strange
Get engineered away."
- Jonathan Coulton, Future Soon
(Highly recommended for my fellow nerds who are facing a high school reunion.)

Oct 26, 2010

Holy Swiss Cheese, Batman!

Wow, I haven't updated in a looooong time. I blame the liberal media, or something. Let me catch you up.

1. San Fransisco (cont'd) - as per usual, I geeked the heck out. Went to the Cartoon and Comics museum (Batman retrospective FTW!), Wicked, a hipster beer festival (but couldn't get the dance floor started), Japanese-style karaoke, the Latin pride festival, a band concert in Golden Gate Park, and Fisherman's Wharf. Favorite story of the trip was probably at the Wharf, when me and Mike were waiting in line behind a group of shrieking tweens. It was looking like they'd be the last group on the boat, and we'd have to wait for another hour. So I used my super mind powers to make one of them drop her ticket into the water. Muahahahaha... Also, when we got back, we made sure to walk by their group (still in line) and comment about how great the ride was. I love Mike because he will do evil things with me, and never judge.

2. I started the final rotation of my Fellowship, on Capitol Hill. It's literally a different world here, and I now know why Hill Experience is like gold in this town. Only by living amongst the natives can you hope to understand their bizarre customs and crazy moon language. But everyone in my office is cool. I guess I can't really talk about what I'm doing, so that's all on the work front.

3. Vegas - Maggie, Chris, Kent and I went to Vegas earlier this month, and it was awesome! I went to LOVE (the Beatles-themed Cirque du Soleil show), the Bellagio fountain show, the Vegas Renn Fest (turkey leg was not as delicious as MD Renn Fest), the Divas Las Vegas drag show, hiking in in the Valley of Fire, and the World Buffet at the Rio. Favorite part of the trip was probably a tie between LOVE and Divas Las Vegas... though I did but a DVD of Divas, so you can guess which has a slight advantage.

The real question is, what have I been doing with my internet time (if not blogging)? I'm pretty addicted to Wonkette right now, cause news + sarcasm = joy. But I'm determined to get back into the swing of things with blogging (this includes the TV Blog, Maggie, I promise)! Stay tuned, my little chickadees.

Jul 6, 2010

San Francisco... FINALLY

"I want San Francisco pics, Monkey!" - Maggie Cats
"Where is the full summary of our SF misadventures?" - Mike
"You need to blog more. That last blog was pathetic!" - close relative who shall remain anonymous (you know who you are).

The people have spoken. And so I bring you, San Francisco's Not Going Anywhere, So Keep Your Hair On: Part I. And since even I don't remember what the hell I did on this trip, I shall use my Twitter posts as a reference.

Airport terminals provide the first flavor of a new city. SF is all modern furniture and pot plants. Sweet-smelling, too.
10:55 PM May 28th via txt

Addendum: And Chinese art.
10:56 PM May 28th via txt

So, clearly the newness of Twitter has gotten the better of me. My travel Tweets are completely inane, even by microblogging standards. Let's move on.

Mike was kind enough to pick me up at the airport. I was still on East Coast time, so even though it was late and I was travel funky, I was ready for fun! Luckily we also met up with Mike's old roommate, Henry, and a friend of his who were in town for a wedding. Had it been just Mike and me we undoubtedly would have gone straight back to his place, ate cupcakes and went to bed. As it was, we ended up bouncing from an Irish pub to a late-night Indian buffet to a dance club called Mayes. The place was ridiculously crowded. I body-checked my way to a clear space to tweet this:

Dancing at Mayes consists of fighting for floor space, then standing still while people elbow you in the kidneys.
3:12 AM May 29th via txt

Sweaty and bruised, at the end of the night I was incredibly thankful that Mike had driven us to Mayes. He only lives a couple blocks away - but every single block in San Francisco goes uphill at a ridiculous, thigh-punishing angle. If I had to walk home after a cross-country plane ride and a night of shenanigans, I would've died. Luckily, I survived my first night in San Francisco - only three more days and two more nights to go!

P.S. Some pictures will be posted here, and more will be posted on Facebook. I swear.

May 14, 2010

Random (International) Thoughts

1. Is there a word for "the sudden intense dislike of a stranger whose behavior reminds one too much of oneself?" I bet there is in German.

2. Saw a woman wearing a t-shirt today that said, We Are All Palestinian. I better go get my passport changed.

3. It's raining from a bright sky ... a Japanese person might call that kitsune no yomeiri, or the wedding of a fox demon. In the South, we say the Devil is beating his wife.

May 4, 2010

Act Locally

Last night, my friend Emily looked up from the lamb meat she was ripping apart with her bare hands to ask, "Why no blog posts lately?" As I stared into her gristly visage, I had to acknowledge that she had a point. Sometimes I compose entire entries in my head, only to forget all about actually publishing them them. Unfortunately, that's not the case today. So you will all now be subjected to disjointed ramblings about my life. If you have a problem with that... take it up with Emily.

On Saturday, Maggie and I helped a friend move. This provided me ample opportunity to demonstrate my superior strength (at least compared to Maggie), so though I was exhausted I was well pleased with myself. Afterward we lunched at Two Amys, a Neapolitan pizzeria in my neighborhood, and had dessert at Something Sweet, an adorable little cupcakes/ cookies/ ice cream/ coffee place. After Maggie dropped me off at home, I showered and changed and headed right back out to Big Planet Comics for Free Comic Book Day with my friend Jays. I got one free comic... and dropped $75 on graphic novels. Ooops.

Though I love comic books, I much prefer owning them
in the form of trade paperbacks.

Later I met up with my friend Justin to play Rock Band and have dinner at Alero, a nearby Tex Mex restaurant that I enjoy. From this whole story you should be able to understand two things about me - the first is that I'm a big ol' nerd. The second is that I like to patronize local businesses. In fact, while Emily was cajoling me into posting more (with bits of cheese stuck to her face), we were dining at BGR - a great burger place up in Bethesda. Don't ask me why Emily's burger disintegrated into a pile of meat, bread and cheese crumbles that she was obliged to messily devour. It's part of her charm.

Anyway, what was I saying... oh yeah, supporting local businesses. It feels like a terribly hipster-ish thing to say. And I will freely admit that I'm not 100% sure why it's so important - dollars in the local economy, jobs and infrastructure, etc etc I'm sure. From a purely personal standpoint, though, local restaurants and stores are just more fun. Sure, a local bookstore doesn't have the convenience or selection of Amazon. Maybe the sandwiches at the corner deli cost a couple bucks more than Subway. But think about how boring life would be if we only had global chains. Every town would be the same, except for maybe the number of Starbucks it was able to support. Those are my two cents - and they're going to stay right here in NW DC.

Apr 16, 2010

This morning I was in a bit of a melancholy mood... I don't remember what made me think of this, but I was remembering when a sophomore girl in high school came up to me and asked, "why do Hindus believe women don't have souls?" I was shocked and not a little offended - immediately I asked her where she got that idea. The answer: her World Literature teacher.

I went up to the teacher in question and asked about the source of this "fact." Off the top of my head I could come up with two to three examples of Hindu mythology* that refuted her statement. I had barely gotten through telling her about Draupadi, who took the five heroic Pandavas as her husbands because of her virtuous past life, when she made some excuse and fled. She never gave me an explanation, and I never found out if she issued a retraction to her class.

What bugged me more than anything else is that both these women (the sophomore and the teacher) were, in their ignorance, looking down on me. I won't try to claim Indians in general and Hindus in particular haven't treated women shamefully, often in the name of god. But to say that my religion disenfranchises half it's followers at such a fundamental level? Who would follow a religion like that? Oh, but I forgot - Indian women have no choice in the matter. We're not agents in the universe, only passive subjects. To borrow an expression... Jesus Christ.

This is why I don't understand why people want religion (e.g. Creationism) taught in schools. Ignore for a moment that the separation of Church and State is an essential part of the Founding Father's vision for America. There's a reason K-12 teachers became teachers, instead of members of the clergy or theology scholars. They simply don't have the expertise or inclination to teach religion.



*Yes, I refer to my own religious doctrine as "mythology." Mostly to remind myself that religion is a creation of people. And because you can't become in-mythology-nated.

Apr 2, 2010

Just in case you trust me implicitly

... yesterday's post was an April Fools' joke. Nothing near as good as the amazing trick I played on my friend Matt when we were in college. It had just gone midnight on April 1st, and he was talking rapturously about the girl he liked, a mutual friend. When he got to a stopping place and looked over at me with those big puppy-dog eyes, I grimaced and shook my head. I then proceeded to tell him that I knew for a fact that the lady in question was aware of his feelings but did not share them. He was CRUSHED. After allowing him two or three minutes to panic, I smiled broadly and said "April Fool's!" He laughed in relief - I cackled in evil glee. Then he looked at me and said, "But she does like me ... right?" Long story short - they're married now.

The first part of yesterday's post, however, was true. I haven't been posting lately due to being busy and stressed. Well ... mostly due to that. It's also due to the fact that I'm a big ol' hypocrite. I started a Twitter account. I know, I know. I've railed against microblogging on numerous occasions, both online and off. But it's for networking and other career-related thingamabobs ... don't judge me. Also, don't Follow me. Unless you care about genetics and health care (which you should!).

Apr 1, 2010

Have you heard...

Sorry for not blogging in so long! As you know, I've been going through some tough times lately. I really needed to take a step back and re-evaluate my life. But something wonderful emerged from this time of turmoil ... I discovered The Secret.

This book changed my life. It revealed to me the true power of positive thought - and the true consequences of negative thoughts. I realized that by thinking about all my problems, I was attracting negative energy towards myself. Every roadblock in my way, every disappointment I faced, every difficulty real or imagined, were all down to me worrying about my life. Now, with the power of The Secret on my side, I feel like I can demand anything from the Universe - anything at all! - and my demand will be instantaneously fulfilled.

But it's hard work to send out positive energy all day long. That's why I decided to hire a Secret Life Coach. Sure, the sessions are expensive - but wouldn't you be willing to pay $50 an hour to get everything you ever wanted? It's a bargain at twice the price. My SLC, Lindsay, is certified in clinically proven methods invented by Rhonda Byrne herself - it says so right on her business cards!

The thing is, Lindsay tells me that The Secret is much more effective if you can share its beneficial effects with three to five friends. A small group can concentrate their energies and get better results from the Universe than a single person ever could alone. Lindsay's even willing to offer a special, introductory rate to all my friends and family - just $39.99 a session! You really can't afford to miss out on this deal ... click here for more information.

Mar 7, 2010

My parents visited this weekend...

Me: I'm so stressed, I'm developing a facial tic.
Dad: Hey, I can see it!
Mom: Ha ha, look, it makes a little dimple!
Me: Urgh.

Mar 2, 2010

Thanks, friends

It's only been a couple of days since Gilda died, and I can't help but feel a little weird for being so emotional. I used to think people who obsessed over their pets were a little wacky. Now, I completely get it. While I didn't see my pet as my child, as some people do, she was family. It's this feeling of intense loss that leads cat ladies everywhere to take Fluffy VII to the taxidermist. We don't want to let go.

On the positive side, my (human) friends and family have been amazingly supportive. Everyone has a story about a beloved pet who has passed, and no one lets me feel crazy for missing Gilda so much. This is immeasurably helpful - otherwise I'd be locked up in my own neurotic head space, feeling alternatively stupid for caring and guilty for feeling stupid.

Today I even started singing again, which is a sure-fire indicator that the very worst of my emotional turmoil has passed. I'm not a good singer, but singing makes me happy (and vice versa). Of course, it reminded me of how I used to sing to Gilda. I'd always put her in the lyrics, like: "My Bunny Valentine" and "Hey, There, My Gilda." She would look up at me, nose twitching, with an expression that clearly said: 'What is that noise? Are you injured?'

*sigh* Good times, little bunny friend. Good times.

Feb 28, 2010

Goodnight, Gil. I love you.

Sad news, friends. Gilda died yesterday.

I don't know how to tell people this without being dramatic. I thought about writing a mass email, but I just couldn't face it. Yesterday, I woke up to Gilda making a strange coughing noise. I rushed to her side, but I could tell it was already too late. I begged her not to go and took her body to the emergency vet, but all they could do was confirm what I already knew - Gilda was gone.

Everyone at the vet's office was extremely kind - they let me take my time sobbing, and brought her in one last time so I could say goodbye. "They're very affectionate," the receptionist said, trying to console me. "I have a couple rabbits at home."

I wanted to say, no she wasn't. My Gilda was a snarly little misanthrope. If anyone tried to pet her, she would dart to the furthest corner of her cage. If you got in her face, she'd thump her legs and grunt angrily. When she met my friend's yorkie puppy, she charged at him (thank goodness he was outside of her pen). Once, she bit my mother so hard it drew blood.

But when I had a bad day, she'd let me pick her up and stroke her beautiful, soft fur. She'd sniff around my face, tickling me with her little whiskers. I didn't even mind the way she'd scratch and nibble at my shirt, because I knew that was her way of saying, 'this is mine.' And when she was dying, instead of retreating to her favorite corner, she came and lay down at the edge of her pen closest to my bed.

She was way too young to die. I wanted ten years with her, instead of the less than two we actually got. But I know she is one with brahman now, so she will always be with me. And I sincerely hope that I meet Gilda again, in her next life. I expect I'll know her by the way she glares.

Bye, Gilda. Be good!

Feb 16, 2010

Snow Woes

You'd think that DC being buried in snow and almost an entire week off of work would inspire me to blog more. Hahahaha, you'd be wrong. I spent "SNOMG" (aka Snowmageddon, aka The Snowpocalypse) holed up with my manga a good book. Per usual when my life isn't all sunshine and daisies, I didn't really feel like blogging. The sad fact is that, while I was meant to start in an office on Capitol Hill last month, I couldn't find a position. There are many reasons, but I've mostly been working on not attributing this to me being a total failure. Yeah, that didn't work so well for me at first.

But now I've left NIH and am working at the professional organization that co-sponsors my fellowship. That is to say, I'm doing my 3rd rotation now while still trying to line up something for Capitol Hill. Stress? You bet. But at least it's a change of pace. As much as I loved NIH, I'd wrapped up my major projects there. And there's tons of work to do here, so I'm happy. Silver lining of the snowstorm - having the campus closed for three workdays made my first "week" here a breeze.

So think good thoughts for me, my little chickadees. I'm off to work.

Feb 12, 2010


... for all alums of "The" College

Thanks to Anderson for sharing the link.

Jan 25, 2010

Good times with my Indian Friends

Recently, it was Restaurant Week here in DC. Accordingly, I made dinner plans with my two token Indian Friends D and P. The problem with making plans with Indian people, in my experience, is that we suck at it. Give us a date, time and place to show up and we'll be there - at least 30 minutes late, but we'll be there. Try to get us involved in the planning process is like herding cats (or, as I noted previously, like trying to eat Jell-o with a fork).

D's work schedule is crazy, so she wanted to meet at the ungodly hour of 5:30. I wanted to call every damn place on the list to try to make reservations, convinced that we'd never get a table. We were saved entirely by the fact that, against all odds, P actually has her shit together. She handled the reservations, and that Thursday found us supping at Notti Bianche (or as D called it, Naughty Bi-atch).

I had the bagna caoda, the organic baby lettuce salad, the apple and sausage stuffed porchetta, and we shared the three desserts. All were delicious but very rich. I feel like an old lady saying that ... like, as my palate matures so does my intestinal tract. Sorry - TMI? Anyway, the food is not the important part - we had lots of fun, chatting about all kinds of things that only an Indian Friend would understand. Our successful siblings, prideful papas, and marriage-minded moms all made for conversation more satisfying than even the torta di cioccolata.

So, thanks ladies! We will have to get together again soon :)


Feeling left out because you don't have an Indian Friend? Don't despair! (Warning: NSFW)

Jan 22, 2010

Security guards actually make me feel less secure

As many of you know, today is the 37th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. I was coming back from a meeting downtown around lunch time today, so I was present to witness the locust-storm of March for Life demonstrators filling Metro Center station. I should also mention that pro-choice groups gathered at the Supreme Court building around the same time. Many others have covered and will cover this fascinating application of free speech and the right to assemble. I would like, as I often do, to dwell on a tiny insignificant detail that may or may not have anything to do with the issue at hand.

There were security guards at the metro today. Tall men with badges and stern faces always pique my interest. So I went up to one of these gentlemen with a genial smile and a simple question,

"Excuse me... why are you all here?"

"Visibility," came the terse reply. Off my expression of pure huh?, he elaborated. "We're checking the track. That's all."

I looked at his cohort on the other side of the platform, who was staring unblinkingly at the gathering crowd of sign-wavers, and said, "Ah, okay. Thanks!"

Protests are a dime a dozen here in DC. Makes sense, being the nation's capital and all. But this particular issue is so contentious, and the current political environment so volatile, that apparently the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority doesn't think we can be trusted to behave ourselves.

That's a bit too far, I thought to myself as I walked away from the nice intimidating man. Then I saw a girl with a bumper sticker attached to her forehead that read "Abortion is NOT Healthcare." It was all I could do not to rip the damn thing off, eyebrows be damned. And suddenly I realized ... Oh, hell. We can't be trusted.

So good luck today, everyone (on both sides). While I may or may not share your views, I support your right to express them... calmly and, if at all possible, rationally. And to the WMATA security guards (and the DC police, and anyone else charged with keeping the peace) - I hope this event turns out to be entirely uneventful.

Jan 20, 2010

Erin & Eric, hail!

Last weekend I had the distinct pleasure of attending my freshman roommate's third wedding ceremony. Despite the disappointing fact that all three of her marriages have been to the same man (civil and church in California, where they reside, as well as this informal do in Virginia for her family and friends), a good time was had by all. And by 'all,' I mean me. Who cares about those other bitches?

First, I met up with my freshman hall mates, aka the Goochies, to decide what we were going to do for the talent show. Did I mention the word informal, yet? We had planned to do a skit and/or interpretive dance to Journey's "Don't Stop Believing." Then we realized we didn't want to make total asses of ourselves (turns out we needn't have worried - there were two other dance numbers in the show, both with a distinct emphasis on cross-dressing). Rachel's husband Zak proposed we re-do the lyrics to "Our Alma Mater." Here's a taste of what we came up with:
Hark the Goochies' voices swelling,
Strong and true and clear.
Erin & Eric's love they're telling,
Ringing far and near!

Erin & Eric! Love so new,
Hark upon the gale.
Hear the thunder of our chorus,
Erin & Eric, hail!

Awe-inspiring, is it not? We even got the audience to join in on the last chorus, in the traditional W&M style (that is to say, they shouted the names and mumbled their way through the rest of the lyrics). After crafting this masterwork, we split up to get ready for the wedding. For Ashlea, Rachel, Kristy, Zak and Frank this meant donning their wedding frippery. As for Jojo, Kristin, Shawn and myself, we went out for ice cream.

Finally, time for the main event was nigh. Erin had asked me to bring props for a silly picture booth (informal), so I was lugging around a duffel bag full of junk. It amuses me that my old Halloween costumes and such will end up in Erin's wedding album. Once I had set up the props, I shimmied into my chudithar kurtha - so useful on such occasions, since it looks incredibly fancy but is actually as comfortable as a pair of pyjamas - and joined back up with J, K, & S.

The ceremony started with remarks from a couple minister friends of Erin's (she herself is a minister and Eric does something or another with humanitarian aid - they're both so wonderful, could you just vomit?), followed by traditional vows. Then, they invited their guests to participate in a variation of a Scottish (?) hand-fasting. Instead of the ministers tying their stoles around the couple's joined hands, each guest was invited to tie a small ribbon (informal). Most disagreeably, Erin would not allow me to tie their free hands together with my ribbon. I contented myself with a tricky knot that captured their thumbs. Eric later consoled me by saying that was quite the most difficult one to get off.

Me: Eric, I have something very important to tell you ... Tonight is your wedding night. And you have your duties.
Eric (without missing a beat): You know what they say about Greek women - they are lambs in the kitchen, but tigers in the bedroom!
Me: Well played, sir. Well played.

For dinner we enjoyed a simple, hearty meal of shepherd's pie (one vegetarian and the other filled with blasphemy ... I mean, beef). Erin & Eric came over to regale us with their difficulties getting their names changed - instead of her taking his name or vice versa, they decided on a portmanteau (informal ... no wait, just quirky). Long story short, they got the name they wanted but have been politely asked never to visit the county office again.

After dinner was the talent show, then the room was cleared and we danced the night away. At least, until about 10pm when the couple made their exit. I packed up my bag of props, grabbed my party favor (A bag of granola, Erin? Really?), and drove home. There is usually a big let-down following a wedding, but this one was just too delightful and odd to leave one with anything but amused bafflement and the final impression, they looked so happy.

Jan 4, 2010

Happy New Year!

As you can probably appreciate, December was not a good month for blog entries. My usual birthday-blues dovetailed nicely into holiday madness, with additional fellowship-related stress. Argh! Anyway, things have settled down a bit (or am I just resigned to my fate?), so here I am to ring in the new decade with a recap of 2009. Hold on to your keyboards, this ought to be good.

I started the year working in the same job I got right out of grad school. It had it's ups (my colleague FV and my awesome patients) and it's downs (pretty much everything else). I was definitely ready for a change, so I applied for and got my current fellowship in DC.

This has been a dream of mine since grad school, so I was super excited. But I was also nervous about the big transition. Happily, Gilda and I managed our move to DC with only a few minor disasters - going from a two-bedroom condo to a studio apartment took some serious downsizing. My family was amazing, helping me pack and taking a lot of my crap back to Castle Sri with them. Thanks Mom, Dad, and Monster - I couldn't have done it without you!

The fellowship so far has been good. I got to go to Hawaii for a work conference, so already it's been well worth the effort ;-) Right now I'm still working in public policy at an institute within the NIH, but my next move is to find a spot on Capitol Hill. Easier said than done, I assure you! But I am determined remain optimistic (because the alternative is curling up into a little ball under my desk and refusing to come out). Pray for me, friends!

On a more personal note, I love living in DC. So many of my friends from undergrad live in DC or NoVA, it's like being back at W&M again. I've gone native, exchanging my beloved Corolla, Sheldon, for a metro SmarTrip pass. This makes visiting home a bit more difficult, but my family has been great about visiting me in DC. We spent Xmas here - went to a museum, saw a movie, did some shopping, etc.

Those are the broad strokes, as I see them. It's been a good year - I'm definitely happier! Here's a little preview of what (I hope) will go down in 2010:
1. Finding a spot on Capitol Hill
2. Going to Atlantic City for Maggie's birthday
3. Finishing up my certificate program in NY
4. Refinancing my condo in C'ville
5. World peace (hey, a girl can dream)