Nov 13, 2011

A day in the life...

I got up this morning to the sound of two-year old feet scampering down the hallway. Little Carrie Hod was up and ready for cinnamon rolls. We adults had stayed up last night making the rolls from scratch, and now they just needed to be baked.

While we waited, I rather clumsily put a french braid in Carrie's hair. She was very patient with me, and stood still - more or less - the entire time. But I think her mom Sarah and I were more excited than Carrie about both the rolls and the hairdo.

After a delicious breakfast, we eventually bestirred ourselves to go for a nature walk in Marshlands Comservancy. The baby, Liam, was strapped to his mother in a complex sling called a Mobli. Only a small tuft of hair attested to the fact that there was a person in there. Not wanting Carrie to feel left out, dad Brendan put on a blanket in which to swaddle her.

Soon Carrie was walking all by herself, though - leading the way, a brave little trailblazer. She tripped once or twice, but after just a few tears she'd be up and going again. So calm and resilient. I want to be just like her when I grow up.

Nov 12, 2011

Visiting the Hod clan

I'm up in New York visiting my friends and their cute kids today. Their daughter is an introspective two-year old and their son is just one month. I'm sleeping in what will be his room once he can sleep on his own.

Lots of people with kids this age can only talk about their kids, and then usually to praise them. But I've known this couple for over a decade now, and they're not the kind to lose perspective. Sure, we mostly talk about their adorable kids - but we talk about the times when they're not-so-adorable. We also talk about careers and recent scientific developments and theories of psychology. We reminisce about our college days and retell our favorite stories.

The best part about visiting the Hods is that they don't ask the prying questions that other married with children couples often ask. They don't feel the need to affirm their way of life by making sure you conform to it. Accordingly, I have not been asked, "When are you going to get married and start a family?"

Nov 11, 2011


I feel like 11/11/11 should have been momentous, but really it was pretty ordinary. I had a busy clinic day, ran a few errands, played around on the computer. I was supposed to meet some work friends for drinks, but that kind of fizzled. So I spent a quiet, boring night at home with Harvey.

Last year, on 10/10/10, I was worried about finding a job when my fellowship ended in December. The year before that on 9/9/09, I was nervous about starting my fellowship rotation at the NIH. And three years ago on 8/8/08, I was miserable at my old job in Charlottesville. So maybe having an ordinary day isn't so bad.

Nov 10, 2011

Lost and Found

Today, on the way to my friend's place in Alexandria, I got lost. Horribly, irrevocably lost. It was dark, rainy, the traffic was tremendous, and my GPS quit on me. This was particularly terrifying for me, since I have almost no nascent sense of direction.

I hate that - I hate being the stereotypical Asian woman who can't drive, I hate how helpless and stupid I feel. The worst part is when I can't rise above it, when I can't laugh at myself. When I finally reached my friend's place, I actually broke down and started crying. It was humiliating - but my friends just have me a hug and brought me a drink and let me cry it out. Maggie helped more than she could know by just saying, "It's weird - you're so smart!"

It was almost worth it, to have my friends show me that just because I get lost doesn't make me a loser.

Nov 9, 2011

Tex-Mex casserole made "skinny"

We celebrated the boss' birthday today with a Tex-Mex themed potluck. We had chili with rice, salad, homemade salsa, cornbread and cupcakes (*drool*). I decided to be ambitious and bring a casserole - and I tried to reduce the fat of the recipe. Here's a link to the original recipe, and below is what I came up with!

1 pound lean ground beef turkey
2 cups salsa
1 (16 ounce) can chili beans black beans, drained and rinsed
3 cups corn tortilla chips, crushed
2 cups fat free sour cream
1/2 cup chopped green onion*
1/2 cup chopped tomato*
2 cups reduced fat shredded cheese

*I cheated with a can of diced tomatoes and onions

1. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, cook ground turkey until no longer pink. I added some red pepper and salt to taste. Stir in salsa, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes, or until liquid is absorbed. Stir in beans, and heat through. If you're worried about the toughness of the black beans, do what I did and boil them separately for a few minutes. 
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
3. Spray a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray. Spread crushed tortilla chips in dish, and then spoon turkey mixture over chips. Spread sour cream over turkey and sprinkle green onion and tomato over the sour cream. Top with cheese.
4. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until hot and bubbly.

This was a huge success - people came back for seconds and took home doggy bags. Even my refined palate (hah!) couldn't detect the reduced fat-ness. I made a smaller vegetarian casserole for our receptionist - I just left out the turkey and increased the black beans to compensate. She was very appreciative, and my fellow omnivores enjoyed that version as well.

The best part is that this recipe only requires two "fresh" ingredients - sour cream and cheese. Keep some ground turkey in the freezer and the rest of the stuff in the cupboard, and you can have this complete meal almost any time. Enjoy!

Nov 8, 2011

A detailed list of the foods I encountered today

1. Bowl of cereal with fat-free milk
2. Ham sandwich on pumpernickel with lettuce, tomato, and a teensy bit of mayo
3. Side of strawberries and grapes
4. Light yogurt
5. Handful of popcorn (OK, two handfuls)
6. Turkey dinner with stuffing, green beans and biscuits
7. Small slice of pumpkin pie
8. A bite or two from a casserole I put together for work tomorrow

I'm trying not to obsess about this weight thing, and am failing completely. I got up early this morning and did a few quick exercises - and I'm still feeling it now. Odds are even that I won't be as good tomorrow, but only time will tell...

Nov 7, 2011

What a waist

So, I went to the doctor today and she told me that I need to lose weight - like, a lot of weight. And while this is nothing new, I had been doing well - I just fell off the wagon big time. Now begins the slow and painful process of climbing back up again.

I was watching an interview with Kim Cattrall (sex kitten turned cougar) about her current role in Noel Coward's Private Lives. Apparently, gaining 20 lbs for the role was fantastic for her, since "most of us have been on a diet for 30 years." And that scared the stuffing out of me, cause I can't imagine having willpower for that long.

Bottom line, I need to get to a place where I'm more scared of gaining the weight. SIGH.

Nov 6, 2011

3rd Annual Friendsgiving Feast

... was a complete success. This is a potluck dinner / fundraiser I do a couple weeks before Thanksgiving (one of my favorite holidays). We ended up with two turkeys, two kinds of stuffing, three kinds of mashed potatoes, and much more. Then we had to clear most of that away to make room for all the desserts! Surprisingly enough, I think my favorite dish (besides the garam masala gravy my mom and I made) was the parmesan asparagus my friend Sarah brought. Favorite dessert, hands down, was Gayathri's carrot kheer. Thanks to everyone who came out for fun food and philanthropy, we raised almost $150 for So Others Might Eat! Also, I now have turkey leftovers to last me until next Friendsgiving.

P.S. Please see Facebook for the pictures I'm too tired to re-post at the moment.

Nov 5, 2011

Adventures in Home-making

I awoke this morning to a scene of wanton destruction. Unlike every other morning of my life, it wasn't totally my fault. My pet rabbit, Harvey, had escaped his enclosure. What's more, he managed to tip over his supposedly un-tip-able one-gallon water feeder. His timing was, as usual, impeccable - I had planned to clean the apartment prior to the arrival of my folks this afternoon, and I had brunch plans that would take up most of my morning. SIGH.

Somehow I managed to corral the bun, clean most of his mess, rush through a shower, and make it to Eastern Market in time for brunch with my friends. We ate at Ted's Bulletin, a classy kind of place with a very tasty breakfast menu and "adult" *wink wink* milkshakes. Thus fortified, I was able to return and pretty most of my place up in time for my parent's arrival. As I'm also having my Friendsgiving dinner tomorrow, I exiled Harvey to the guest bedroom and spruced up the place with decorations stol- I mean, re-purposed from my friend Kristin's wedding a few weeks back.

My problem is, I don't have much of a nesting instinct. So beyond this, my house is kind of stark. I'm hoping the liveliness of the company will make up for the austerity of the room. No pressure, dinner guests!

Nov 4, 2011

Well, that's unfortunate.

Sooooooo... The NaBloPoMo prompt for today is, "When you write, do you prefer to use pen and paper or the computer?" At the risk of sounding judgmental, I found it utterly inane and not worth my time. Maybe there's a challenge in coming up with something awesome in response to a terrible prompt. If so, challenge NOT accepted, NaBloPoMo. Find someone else to do your dirty work.

I'm still going to keep posting my own inane commentary, don't you fret. Like how I got up before dawn in order to get a sale price on frozen turkeys. I'm having my annual pre-Thanksgiving dinner party slash fundraiser this Sunday, "Friendsgiving." A bigger turn-out this year (hopefully) necessitated buying almost 30 lbs of turkey.

When I went to the store earlier this week, I was advised that the sale prices started on Friday. Accordingly, I dragged my sorry carcass out of bed before 6am this morning - which goes against my essential nature - and headed over to Giant. I had just enough time to grab the birds, toss them in the fridge, and head to work. Simple, right? WRONG.

When I went to the check-out, one of the birds was ringing up at full price. That is to say, THREE TIMES what I had planned to pay. I frantically pressed the "need help" button on the self-check out panel, but since it wasn't yet 7am the store was running on a skeleton crew. Finally, a stock boy came over and used the overhead pager to summon a manager.

First, she cleared my order. She rescanned my order. She cleared it again and used her own bonus card number. In the end, she had someone re-weigh the birds (not sure why this was necessary, but at this point I was not going to argue) and check the circular for the actual price per pound. Then she entered the calculated values in manually and I was finally able to check out.

At this point I was sweating profusely and would almost certainly miss my bus. I hauled the turkeys back home, threw them in the fridge, and trotted out to the bus stop. Luckily for me, it was a few minutes late and I was able catch my bus and make it to work on time. Phew!

People better appreciate these birds, is all I'm saying.

Nov 3, 2011

Procrastinators unite... tomorrow

Day three and I'm already behind on the NaBloPoMo prompts. There's only one solution - do two at once! That's what she said.

Prompt #2: If you knew that whatever you ate next would be your last meal, what would you want it to be?

Duh, an endless buffet. At Kentucky Fried Chicken for preference - although the lack of palatable veggies would likely send me to an early grave anyway. My best KFC story comes from my recent trip to Richmond for my friend Kristin's wedding. I arrived pretty late in the evening, and I was all on my lonesome ownsome until my friend Erin's flight arrived. So I went to my go-to comfort food, sweet ambrosia from the Colonel himself .
"They told me I could be anything I wanted. So I became a cartoon character."

It was the guy at the register's first day, so I had to give my order to him two or three times. Very... slowly... He was grateful for my patience, having no idea that I would have endured this, and much more, for the greasy goodness of a three-piece meal. I noticed the box was much larger than I expected, but toddled off with my prize without a second thought. It wasn't until I got to my hotel room that I realized that KFC employee was an angel sent from god.

That's right - three piece meal made of all breast pieces. You might be saying, "ugh, eating that much chicken would be disgusting." But you are a liar. It was basically one of the best nights of my life.

Prompt #3: Can you listen to music and write? What song did you hear today?

Yeah, sorry, can't stop thinking about KFC. It's just sooooo tasty, y'all. I dream one day of having a family, so I can finally order a bucket of chicken and not feel weird about it. And after my last meal is served to me and they take me off to the chair, my last words will be, "Mmmmmmmmmmm, original recipe."

Nov 2, 2011

Lessons from the Family Sri

Yay, it's the return of "Lessons from the Family Sri." For those of you who missed our previous classes, please click the "lessons" tag below.

Today's Lesson - Communications

Me (calling my brother on the phone): Hey, Monster! I'm making you the beneficiary on my life insurance, and I need your social security number.
Him: Umm...
Me: Let me guess, you don't want to say it over the phone.
Him: Right.
Me: I don't suppose you'd like to send it via email.
Him: Ha!
Me: Then what the hell am I supposed to do? Use telepathy to read it directly from your mind?
Him: Yes. Go!
Me: I will destroy you someday.

Nov 1, 2011

Oh, hi...

I'm going to try to get back in the swing of blogging by joining in on National Blog Posting Month (also known as NaBloPoMo ... no, seriously). This is mostly because I'm too chicken to work on a novella for National Novel(la) Writing Month (NaNoWriMo - you can't make this stuff up. Well, I guess you can, but I didn't).

Anyway, the first prompt was something like, "what is your favorite part of writing?" I guess my favorite part of writing (and life in general) is making people laugh. I had one of my bosses cracking up today with my 'Indian parents' routine, complete with accents. For anyone who knows me, you know I do this all the time and that it is comedy gold. The best part is that my parents like me to "talk like an Indian," too. They used to make me trot out my little routine at dinner parties for the amusement of their friends. So embarrassing, but obviously it just provided me with more and more material. A vicious cycle of hilarity.

My boss: Sri, you are so funny!
Me: Yeah, but you know it all comes from pain.
My boss: Ha ha... ha?

So, yeah. I have heard from a couple of people that this blog is funny from time to time. Honestly, laughing at myself and life is the only way I stay sane. Well, relatively speaking...

Next: "If you knew that whatever you ate next would be your last meal, what would you want it to be?" Prepare yourself for a breathtaking tribute to KFC.

Jun 17, 2011

At last, notoriety is mine!

You're no one until you've been banned somewhere, preferably in a foreign country. And apparently, the Chinese government doesn't want people reading this blog. Wake up, sheeple!

P.S. I know that the firewall probably blocks anything from "," not just my little site. But allow me to dream that somewhere in that vast bureaucracy, one little peon read one my posts and decided I was a dangerous threat to good Communists everywhere. Please!

Jun 16, 2011

Vegas Vacay II (cont'd)

When we last left off, our intrepid adventurers had a busy day of hiking, making friends with bird-men, and freezing near to death in a wintery wonderland (see previous Vegas post). On Friday, Sarah and I got Chris, the Vegas Veteran, to take us around to some of the immensely touristy stuff around town. We visited the Adventuredome, a carnival inside the Circus Circus casino, for some slightly-sketchy rides and games. I beat an arcade game called Title Fight, a boxing game where the main strategy seems to be jerking the controllers in random patterns until the other guy falls down. In other words, this game was made for me.

Probably has to do with all my pent up aggression...

We also took a trip on the New York New York roller coaster, that goes outside the building and gives you a birds-eye view of the strip. I'm afraid I was too busy holding my glasses on my face to really appreciate it. But NYNY is definitely in a tie for first with The Venetian as my fave casino.

That evening, several of us hunted down a purportedly famous fast food place on the strip - Pink's Hot Dogs. I will have to say, my hot dog and fries were crazy tasty and very reasonably priced. Obvy they had several non-blasphemous options for those of us who don't eat beef and/or pork.

Don't let the celebrity endorsements put you off.
Cool drag queens like Frank Marino (aka Ms. Las Vegas) eat there, too.

Friday night took us to Zumanity, which probably deserves it's own blog post, but which I'm afraid will have to be edited for adult content. Going in, I decided that it was no time to be a prude and just enjoyed it as an fascinating look into a part of the human psyche I scarcely understand. Despite being burlesque-esque, the major draw was still the athleticism of the gymnasts - Cirque du Soliel never fails to amaze/frighten me. I'm always convinced that this will be the show where some rigging collapses or some harness breaks... *shudder* Spoiler alert: everyone survived... this time!

May 27, 2011

New design

Experimenting with a new style - hope it doesn't make anyone nauseated. The pic of my family will hopefully return in the near-ish future. In the meantime, enjoy this adorable picture of a baby orangutan.


May 25, 2011

Vegas Vacay II: The Revenging

Vegas, baby! Once again, Chris and Kent kindly opened their hearts and their timeshare to us this past week. I flew out with them on Wednesday, and we met up with Maggie and Sarah F. Between Maggie's desire to see shows, Chris' love of hiking, Kent's interest in slot machines, and Sarah's hope to experience all the sights/sounds/smells of Vegas, it was a jam-packed vacation.

Our first day was spent provisioning ourselves at Wal-Mart (the only time of year I voluntarily give the Evil Empire my custom) and scoping out the timeshare property. Tahiti Village, as the place is called, is located off the Vegas Strip and boasts such amenities as the Lazy River (a quarter-mile loop of pool water with a gentle current that carries you through the full circuit as you are splashed by playful waterfalls ... no, really), a well-appointed barbecue patio, and frequent shuttles to The Strip. The rooms are very nice, and this time we got a suite - with this many girls and gays, two bathrooms was a must.

We woke up early Thursday morning to hike in Red Rock Canyon - and discovered that a "moderate" difficulty trail translates into 20% hiking and 80% scrambling over dusty rocks. The end of the trail led us to a fascinating natural lake, which Maggie, Kent and I stopped to admire and which Chris and Sarah immediately hiked around. Purportedly, there was a lovely view of Las Vegas on the other side, but I was too exhausted to see for myself. It seems I am less prepared, fitness-wise, for the zombie apocalypse than I originally thought.

On Thursday night we celebrated Chris' birthday - first at our favorite bar, the Blue Martini, then with dinner at Khotan for pan-Asian cuisine and a birds-eye view of the Siren Show at Treasure Island. Literally - the guy dressed as a parrot waved to me! Then, as a surprise, we took Chris to the Minus 5 Ice Lounge. As you might imagine, the glasses, decorations, chairs, tables, walls, and ceiling were all made of ice. We each rented a thick coat, boots and gloves. A few wolf pelts were through around to allow us to sit without freezing our bums off. It was a rather surreal experience - and a rather brief one, since apparently the human body cannot withstand such temperatures for more than 30 minutes. I felt sorry for the bartender, who was more scantily clad (though she was wearing an enormous fur hat) - but happily they rotate out frequently so as not to suffer from frostbite.

I will stop there and save Friday and Saturday for another post. I also owe Maggie and the world several TV blog posts, which I will attend to post-haste!

Apr 4, 2011

Do I even have to say it?

Just in case you all were wondering/worried, my last post was my annual April Fool's Day prank. And not posting for the past three months was all an elaborate lead-in... Anybody buying that? No? Oh well, can't blame a girl from trying.

As someone once said, "I try to take one day at a time, but sometimes several days attack me at once." That's what it's been like for me since January. New job, new condo, etc etc. And have I mentioned I'm now going on dates with Indian men my mother finds on the internet? Somewhere in all that, blogging fell by the wayside.

The new condo is pretty sweet, though. It's up in Maryland, which is closer to work and helps me check "live outside of Virginia" off my bucket list. A couple of my friends have been weirdly off-put by me switching states. It seems that Northern Virginia hates Maryland like Southwest Virginia hates Northern Virginia. Oh yeah, I went there.

What's that? You actually don't care where the heck I live but want to hear more about the random Indian men? Apologies, fair readers, but that will have to be a post for another time.

Apr 1, 2011


As many of you have realized, I have not updated this blog for some time - actually since my resolution to update more frequently. It's about time I came clean about my long absence. For the past several months, I have been living in an psychiatric hospital.

"But Sri," you say, "I've seen you out and about. I've been to your apartment!" And you'd be right. Luckily for me, the hospital (Shippig Haven) has a pretty liberal day-pass policy. The apartment can be explained simply by my family's attempt to save face, to maintain the facade of a normal life for me. A kind but ultimately misguided effort.

The thing is, I'm tired of treating this like a dirty little secret. I now realize that creating a shrine full of Felicia Day pictures, including authentic long-range shots (props from Dr. Horrible's Sing-a-long Blog, wink wink) was wrong. And that wearing a red wig I had fashioned out of clippings from the dumpster behind her hairdresser's while reciting lines from The Guild was neither healthy nor hygienic. I know all this now, and am ready to move on with my life.

The first step in my recovery was admitting that I had a problem. The final step was admitting it to all of you. Thank you in advance for your words of compassion and support. At last I feel ready to reenter the world as a new, more balanced, Sri.

So, has anyone watched Dragon Age: Redemption yet?

Jan 1, 2011

New Year's Resolutions

I don't usually make year-long resolutions... as my friend Maggie says, "I strive for constant self-improvement." Which, for me, mostly means I get a new big idea fluttering into my little brain every three weeks or so. This year, I have mostly the same resolutions as every year:

1. Exercise to get healthier and lose weight
2. Write more/more often (in, I dunno, a blog or something)

The problem always is the lack of accountability. However, this year I've decided to run/walk a 5k sometime this spring with several friends. If I don't start working out now, I won't be able to keep up and/or finish. I'm half expecting my competitive spirit to take over completely, forcing my weary body across the finish line. Fun!

On the writing front, I got a nice incentive at the New Year's Eve party I went last night. I ran into someone from college who stumbled upon this very blog! "I wasted half and hour at work because of you," he said. I was flattered (and a little apologetic) - people actually read this nonsense!

As long as there are three or four people out there (and my mom totally counts) who want to read about my shenanigans, I have a responsibility - nay, a duty - to keep writing. So Happy New Year, everyone! Look forward to more frequent posting and, remember, you brought this upon yourselves.