Friday, February 28, 2003

"Well, I happen to be their father. And there's very little they can do about it. In theory."*

Bob, our teaching fellow, gave the lecture this morning in my Intro to the Hebrew Bible class. This was not particularly odd.

What was odd, however, was sitting through said lecture with the class professor next to me, glancing at my notes every now and again.

I love Dr. Henze, don't get me wrong. He's wonderful and brilliant and funny, but he does not need to see what I'm writing in my notes. Needless to say, it's not always on topic, and even when it is, it's not always...properly respectful. For example, this morning's lecture was on the death of Moses (Deut. 34, if you're interested—or Catholic and thus unaware), and at one point I wrote this in my notes, evidently forgetting who was next to me: "God said, 'Die,' and Moses said, 'Hey, all right.'" I drew a box around it, and went back to paying attention.

About fifteen seconds later, I heard Dr. Henze snort. I looked at him, and he stabbed his pen in the direction of the box, raising his eyebrows.

Great. Now my prof thinks I'm always writing sarcastic comments in my notes, and not thinking deep thoughts about the greater meaning for the Israelites of Moses' death. My academic career is doomed!

*Dr. Henze on his sons. Written in my notes the day we talked about biblical authority.

Thursday, February 27, 2003

Von Schicksal gefickt

I was 20 minutes late to class today because I overslept. Thankfully the prof showed a video for the first 30 minutes, and the rest was lecture, so it wasn't all that important of a session and I didn't miss anything. Now, I know you're asking, "Why didn't you just skip class?"

Frankly, I don't know. I have some sort of compulsion that makes me go to class. I can't help it. I thought about skipping. I wanted to skip. But then my body staged a coup d'etat, kicked my brain out of office, and took me to class. I haven't skipped a class all semester. Help me! I'm a prisoner of my own better judgment.

Wednesday, February 26, 2003

Beware the Ides of Editing

My history professor was on a huge, bitter tear this morning, which I enjoyed. Evidently the editor of the textbook he's writing wants him to use phrases like "whopping big." She is apparently concerned about appealing to the market.

What market is this, may I ask? The market of cynical high school graduates? Kids know when they're being patronized. Running across "whopping big" in a textbook is not likely to impress them. It's going to make them snort and stop reading because the book is too dumb to be bothered with.

No, to really appeal to a college audience, my prof needs to write his history book in the form of an FAQ. He can leave out the chapter and just write possible test questions and their answers, i.e.:
Q. Who was the first emperor of Rome?
A. Octavian Augustus, 31-14 B.C.
Q. How did he come to power?
A. He staged a civil war in order to avenge the murder of his uncle, Julius Caesar. He defeated Pompey in 27 B.C. and assumed the leadership of the empire.

And so on and so forth. Because frankly, this is all the information that college students are looking for from a textbook. They don't want details; they want a bare overview of bite-sized facts that they can spout in those long, uncomfortable pauses after a prof asks a question. If they need more, they can actually do the twelve hundred pages of secondary reading—fat chance—, but a "textbook" (as opposed to a text not written for the classroom) is just for skimming and highlighting and nothing more. He's deluded if he thinks otherwise. And I think, somewhere in his academic's heart of hearts, he knows, because I've taken four classes from him and he's never assigned a textbook.
"Hope you come to see me soon, 'cause I don't want to go alone."

I seem to be waiting for something—all night I've felt oddly expectant. If you know what it might be, please hit me with the clue-by-four.

Tuesday, February 25, 2003

The only difference is the O

I walked out of the shower into my bedroom tonight, looking for my pajamas, as is my wont. I noticed my cat sitting on the floor staring intently at the window in my room.

And the window was staring back.

There was a giant opossum climbing past my window. Now, when I say giant, I mean probably 16 inches from nose to tail tip, so not abnormally large for a possum. But when there's a rodent slithering by your second story, ceiling-level window, it seems pretty giant regardless of length. And the grossness factor was also high, since it had the whole beady-eye, naked-rat-tail spawn-of-the-devil rodent thing going on.

Bluhuhuhuh. Heebie-jeebies in the extreme.

I scared it away by taking flash pictures of it. The resourcefulness of a modern single woman living alone is amazing.

Monday, February 24, 2003

Positive: More than a test result, people.

I'm the first person to enjoy a good complaining session, a day-long mope, or even a sudden, explosive rage that can be felt from several miles away. However, I'd like to say that the entire world? Not out to get you. Unless your name is Osama.

This is my new Big Goal (besides shorter posts): decrease the negativity in my life. Most of that is my deal—I need to stop assuming the worst about people the moment I don't get the response I want, I need to be more flexible, and I need to accentuate the positive, as Bing likes to say. My life is relatively good, all things considered, and I want to keep that in mind. Some of this problem, however, is a societal thing, I think: Americans seem to be perpetually unsatisfied, and it's getting on my nerves. (Yes, I realize the irony is overwhelming.)

Everybody has problems, and I'm probably willing to listen to yours whenever you want to talk about them. More than happy to do it. But if you're just complaining to complain, you need to knock that shit off. Got a pet peeve? Fine; you'll not see me giving up my grammar rants. Got 200 pet peeves? You need to calm down before your blood pressure makes your head explode. You're not solving the problem; you're just making yourself (and others) more miserable. So clean up your act.

Now, as I said, I think this is, by and large, a societal issue, so try not to take it too personally. I'm not out to get you.

Sunday, February 23, 2003


Okay, this is just too funny.

Friday, February 21, 2003

Good things that happened today:

  1. Made it to class on time, despite little to no sleep.

  2. Scholarship money finally came.

  3. Finished my Teach for America application, and thus officially ended application season for this year.

  4. Got my hair trimmed at last.

  5. Made highly fruitful visit to Half Price Books, purchased four books and two calendars for the bargain price of $23 plus change.

  6. Books purchased included Garner's highly-coveted (by me) Dictionary of Modern American Usage.

Now I'm off to see M2's play with D, and then maybe there will be pie. Mmm, pie.

Thursday, February 20, 2003

Mukluks are hot. Rowr.

We've got a torrential downpour here (despite's report of "light rain"). It's Houston, so it's wont to do that, but I never, never get tired of it. There's no weather phenomenon I like better than rain, especially rain in the form of a big, crabby thunderstorm.

Actually, I pretty much like any sort of "bad" weather. As long as I don't have to go outside in it, I like blizzards, tornados, 100-degree heat, cold snaps, sleet, whatever. I'm not sure if it just makes me feel safe to be inside while the world goes to hell in a handbasket, or if I like the idea of the weather reflecting my general displeasure with the state of things. Who knows.

Let it rain.
This ennui is weighing on my soul

All I have to say is, "Marry me, Brian Briggs."

Wednesday, February 19, 2003

It's Picasso!Blog.

A few cosmetic changes today (check out the left column). I've been trying to add a poll, but it keeps pushing things out of place in an unpleasant manner, rendering the blog unreadable. So until I get that figured out, no poll. Keep your fingers crossed.
Roll over and hit "sleep" or just let it keep buzzing?

I had a fifteen-minute argument with myself this morning about whether I would go to class or stay in bed. Fifteen minutes.

It's going to be a *great* day.

Tuesday, February 18, 2003

Dream on

When I'm actually able to sleep, I dream in vivid color, the same things over and over again. Like the one where the basement turns into orange and red pools of magma and I'm trapped in my bedroom as the house burns down around me, a nightmare left over from studying volcanoes during fire safety week in first grade. Then there's this one, which I always remember perfectly clearly on waking:

I am standing in a certain hallway in the newspaper building where my father worked until I was 10. The carpet is dark brown with black and taupe stripes; it's threadbare, in places worn down to the wood floor beneath. The room smells like ink and newsprint and spilled coffee, and the white paper piled everywhere makes a sharp contrast to the dark wood paneling on the walls. To my right, dimly, are the desks where the newspaper is laid out; I can see large slanted tables with X-acto knives and rolls of decorative tape and glass rollers resting at the bottom: these are the tools used before computers made the process antiseptic and cold. To my left is the cubicle where Lois works, where a white cursor blinks against a blue computer screen.
The pictures I sometimes draw for Lois with my father's fat highlighters are pinned up around her computer, pink and blue and green and yellow. No orange; that highlighter is missing. I'm not supposed to get in the desk drawer where the highlighters are, though, so I don't mention it. My father's office is around the corner, out of my line of sight, and the hallway that leads to it is dark. He's not there.

I stand in that space, watching a 13" black-and-white TV. People from the newsroom crowd behind me, pushing and talking, leaning in to see the TV, but I pay no attention to them. I don't know them, don't remember their names, although I'm sure they all know me—the boss's oldest daughter. I only know Lois and Dad, and neither is there. There is a car on the TV, some sort of convertible from the 50s, and it is being chased by cowboys and Indians, all whooping and throwing lassos and shooting arrows. All of a sudden the cowboys and Indians come riding through the office, straight down the hall to Dad's office, and as I watch them ride by, I say, "I wonder when Dad will be back."

That's it. That's the entire dream. It's so specific, and then it ends so abruptly. Where is my dad? I suspect he's in that car, and maybe Lois is with him. Maybe they have the orange highlighter. I don't know. It's a weird, weird dream, but I like it because the sensory memory is so specific. I haven't been in that building in over ten years, but everything is overwhelmingly immediate in the dream. There were never cowboys or Indians, though. Dammit.

Monday, February 17, 2003

Do you listen to yourself when you write things like that?

What is with action movie writers these days? I went to see Daredevil tonight with M! and M3, and I thought all three of us were going to get kicked out of the theatre for laughing at some very inappropriate places. For example, when Ben Affleck's voiceover says, seriously and tragically, "I waited for my father outside the theatre that night. In some ways I'm still waiting," all three of us cringed and then laughed. I mean, that's not really funny—it's serious and tragic! He is angsty! His father died! It was a tragedy! Feel his pain! The only pain I'm feeling is the pain of ham-handed dialogue that ruins action movies. Honestly, who talks like that? Nobody, that's who. Nobody is that dramatic. My seventeen-year-old drama-queen sister isn't that dramatic.

Unfortunately, Daredevil isn't an isolated case. Last summer's Spiderman was probably even more painful. This exchange is a good example:
Green Goblin: Are you in or are you out, Spidey?
Spiderman: You are the one who's out, Gobby—out of your mind!

What is that? It's something no self-respecting eight-year-old would say, much less a suave superhero.

The worst offender, though, is the lastest installment of the Star Wars series. It was...well, the only word that comes to mind is "excruciating." Thank God I didn't pay to see it, because I would have been so mind-numbingly furious that my own dialogue would have been reduced to the level of the film's: "I'm not afraid to die. I've been dying a little bit every day since you came back into my life." Ugh! There are Harlequin Romances out there with higher standards for dialogue than that. Lifetime (Television for Women) wouldn't let Meredith Baxter Burney say that if the future of the entire network depended on it!

So I'll be going back to my dramas and romantic comedies and musicals and anything that doesn't have a superhero(ine) that takes himself so seriously that I can't. Cute as they are, Ben Affleck and Tobey Maguire just aren't making it worthwhile for me.

Saturday, February 15, 2003

Green and leafy

I promised you the pink wouldn't be around long. Not sure the green's an improvement, so don't get too attached.

Thursday, February 13, 2003

It's time for another usage rant!

The exclamation point. Possibly the most overused, unnecessary piece of punctuation out there. Use a period and get out of my face, I'm not kidding.

I get emails like this every day, and since I'm not special, I bet you do, too:

Hey, guys!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Stupid Event is coming up this weekend!!! There's going to be dancing, snacks, and good times! Tickets Stupid Event are now on sale, but we didn't get enough for all the wankers out there who want to come, so you'd better get them fast!!! They're only $10!!!! What a bargain!! Get them now, they're going fast!

See you at Stupid Event!!!!!


Why? Who needs to use fifteen exclamation points to greet somebody? Nobody's life is that exciting, especially if you're writing me an email about the friggin' RollerProm! (Sadly, I'm not making that example up.)

Advertisers (particularly internet pop-up ads) need to send out a memo, as well. Writing "Congratulations!!! You may already be a Winner!!!" does not induce me to visit the website in question. I mean, not that I would visit even if it said, "Congratulations, you may already be a winner," because I wasn't, you know, born yesterday or anything. But it's the excessive end punctuation that makes me want to do unspeakable things to my computer.

There are other ways to convey importance and excitement without using an exclamation mark. Italics, for example, are a fine way to draw people's attention to a particularly important word or idea. Making a sentence its own paragraph, also a good option. Whatever you have to do SO YOU DON'T USE A FRIGGIN' EXCLAMATION MARK. (See what I did there?)

I think exclamation points should be rationed. You get one a day, use it wisely. Who really needs more than one exclamation mark a day? Nobody, that's who. If there's a nuclear war, then you can have two. Maybe. If your computer still works.

Wednesday, February 12, 2003

(La la la la la, I can't hear you in here)

Does anybody else think I overuse parentheticals? Honestly.
Note to self: good sandals are hard to find; stop using them to beat people

My beloved black sandals gave out this week, after over a year and a half of faithful service. I bought them a month before I left for Europe, and they tramped all over Germany, through Rome and Paris and a few other places besides. They were both dressy and casual, and I could wear them all damn day and not get achy feet. They looked like grown-up flip-flops, but they had a back-strap that kept me from throwing one of them every fifteen or twenty steps as I tend to do in conventional flip-flops. I walk like a retarded ostrich in normal flip-flops.

But the back-strap was stretched and sagging and irritating, so I performed a strapectomy and now the shoes are essentially dead because I walk right on out of them. Plus, the leather footbed is cracked and pinchy, and the bottoms are wearing smooth, which makes them the Sandals of Death on rainy days when I have to walk on the marble in front of the library on campus. That stuff gets slicker than snot on a doorknob, as M4 would say. Anyway, I'll keep the sandals around for purposes such as taking out the trash and walking in the kitchen when I break a glass, as I often do. (The last one somehow fell out of the cabinet as I was putting it away. It hit my hand, and my usually-not-so-stellar reflexes whipped it violently into the wall over my sink, where it promptly shattered all over the floor, counter, and me. Lost a glass, but my sketchy neighbor is scared of me now, so that's all to the good.) But the sandals are essentially gone, and now I need replacement footwear.

I've been looking online for new sandals today, and really, the process is just too depressing. First of all, what is with online shoe retailers giving vague, unhelpful descriptions of shoes? Teva and Rockport are particularly bad about this: "Sun and Moon"? "Travel 2000"? How the hell am I supposed to know what kind of shoes those titles describe? I have to go click on all the links and find out. I'm too impatient for that. Also, I found out that I'm ridiculously picky. Basically I'm looking for something that's just like my old sandals (which, of course, are no longer being made): black, sorta strappy but not flimsy, fairly solid without being clunky, flat (but not too flat) sole, comfortable, and reasonably priced. It's like asking for Chateau d'Yquem Premier Grand Cru 1857 ($7,500 a bottle, if you were wondering) served in the Holy Grail on Amelia Earhart's flight to the city of Atlantis. Not going to happen. Ever.

Tuesday, February 11, 2003

I'd like to thank your mom

Academy Award nominations came out today. I've seen exactly one of the Best Picture nominees (Chicago), mainly because I won't go to movies without reading the book (in general—sometimes I don't know that there is a book, or I decide that I don't care—generally that only happens when the book isn't a classic or famous), so that leaves out The Two Towers and The Hours. I have no intention of seeing Gangs of New York because I hate Leonardo DiCrapio, and The Pianist is on my list, but I am a) poor and b) busy.

I'm relatively impressed by the nominations this year. There are a few categories that are striving for mediocrity (Animated Feature, I'm lookin' at you), and I'm sad that Far From Heaven didn't get a Best Picture nod, but I'm willing to let it go based on Julianne Moore's Best Actress nomination, since she was far and away the best part of a wonderful film. But I think the Academy had a relatively large field of options to work with this year, and they did a good job of letting the cream rise to the top. I don't see anything on the list that makes me absolutely want to scream in outrage, although the previously-mentioned Animated Feature category is sort of a no-brainer. (If Ice Age doesn't win, there's no justice in the world. The dodo scene alone is enough.) Sometimes I think they give awards based on strange things like previous nominations for the actors or what have you. I like to call it the "Julia Roberts effect." (How did she beat Laura Linney? How?!? It's a crime!) I prefer it when things are judged on their own merits and not how "anticipated" they were or how respected the director is. Even a respected director makes shite now and then. Which probably means Martin Scorcese is a shoo-in this year, since he's been nominated three times before, but now that DiCrapio's on board, he's gold. Bleh. I'll be keeping my fingers crossed for Julianne Moore and and audience shots featuring Roberto Benigni.
Speaking of trees, you should ask E2 about the dent in the truck...

If you've ever talked to me for more than five minutes in a row, you know that I find my family quite hilarious and that I like to tell stories about them. My immediate family can make me laugh harder, faster, than anything on earth. Because really, does poop humor ever get old? No. No, it doesn't, not even when you're at a crowded steak buffet.

The six of us are fairly close-knit, I think because we've been living 2,000 miles from any relatives. I know next to nothing about my extended family. I mean, yes, I have grandparents and an uncle here and there, and some cousins that irritate me on the rare occasions that I see them, but as far as a family history? No idea. I know that my maternal grandfather can trace his paternal line back to the Kennedys of the potato famine, and I know that my maternal grandmother's mother came here from Poland. I think. My dad thinks that his family is German. Maybe. Based on our last name, I would say it's a strong possibility. That's all I know. Oh, and my great-grandfather is suspected of having engineered his wife's somewhat-too-convenient death. So that's interesting, but hardly helpful.

In some ways this missing history bothers me. The family story is so tenuous, and it's going to slip away from me sooner or later. My maternal grandparents are going to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary in April, my grandfather's health is dodgy, my dad's father died last year, and even my parents won't be here forever, much as I cringe away from the thought. I want my probably-not-going-to-happen-but-who-knows kids and highly-likely-knowing-my-brother-and-sisters neices and nephews to know where they came from and to be able to finish school family tree projects instead of leaving everything past the trunk blank.

On the other hand, this missing history isn't a gaping hole in my mind that makes me feel as if I sprang fully formed from my parents' heads in a Minerva-like fashion. (I have other resemblances to Minerva, however. Infinite wisdom, etc.) Our little family unit is more than enough fodder for interesting stories (well, interesting to us—although really, who doesn't find the E.-projectile-vomits-on-Grandma story damned funny?) and basis for a strong family background. We've been a self-sustaining trunk for so long that I rarely think about the storm-broken branches above us.

Sunday, February 09, 2003

Voice like an angel

Congratulations to D. for giving a really beautiful recital this evening. I can't believe how much you've accomplished in four years, D. I don't know how to say this without being sappy, but you've become someone I not only love, but I admire. Thanks for putting up with me. And for brunch (in advance).

Thursday, February 06, 2003

Paper Tigers (or, Were We Ever So Young?)

I'm supposed to be working on my paper for Reli 122, which is due tomorrow afternoon. I'm just starting on the reading for it because up until now I couldn't force myself to be concerned about it. It's too easy.

Maybe it wasn't the most brilliant idea in the world for me to take a freshman-level lecture course the last semester of my senior year, but I wasn't up for a taxing schedule and I really like the professor. The actual freshmen, however, I could do without. They talk merely to hear their own inane voices, they do the reading, and evidently, they don't know how to write a paper.

Now, I don't know if I'm blocking it from memory or in denial or what, but I don't remember being *quite* so incompetent as a freshman. At least I was quiet, and I could write a six-page paper without a two-page handout from the professor explaining where sources could be found and what proportion of my paper should be dedicated to the introduction and the conclusion and that maybe it's a good idea to put your name on it before turning it in, dumbass. I realize that writing papers is not totally instinctive, but at 18 and 19, these kids should be able to scrape together six pages with only minimal guidance from the professor. Instead they sit there, bright-eyed and apparently empty-headed, asking questions like, "Do we have to cite sources?" Um, only if you use them. What? YES! You have to use them!

All this coddling makes me want to a) vomit, and b) defy all given instructions and write whatever I damn well please, which would probably come out better anyway, because I'd spend more time on it and less time chafing under ridiculous, picky guidlines given to a bunch of babies.

Wednesday, February 05, 2003

Better yet!

Okay, so I have switched to a new template, which I then proceeded to "improve." As you can tell, it still has a few kinks. I can't get my description to stop being the same color as its box, and I can't get the archive background to be pink. Hopefully I'll get it all figured out soon, but for now I need to work on a paper and so don't have time. But happy Valentine's Day, nonetheless.
Might want to call your dentist...

We interrupt our regularly scheduled color scheme to bring you this breaking holiday color report.

Tuesday, February 04, 2003

The Public Library: A Terrible Ode to a Hilarious Experience

Allen Parkway, we know you all too well
Getting here was a triple dose of hell.
Parking was a special nightmare,
Before M1 took over it induced some white hair
The library layout is quite mysterious
And the library patrons oft deleterious:
Cackling lady at the computers
Kids in the YA section look like looters.
There's a weird-ass cash cow in the lobby
Hanging out as we enable Mar's fickle hobby.
Books on applique and baby showers:
Finding what she wants can take her hours.
Wandering aimlessly through the shelves,
M1 and I must amuse ourselves.
Now we're back and mostly fine
Tho' Cap'n's reduced my fingers to nine.
Heading home, loaded down with books and strife,
I think to myself, "I've got to get a life!"

Monday, February 03, 2003

Thank you for flying Church of England, cake or death?

Re: my last post, M3 and I decided that the reverse phenomenon, where you like somebody that none of your friends likes, is equally if not more common. Pablo Robio, anybody?

I find that this situation usually affects me more in the area of opinions than relationships. This is not to say that I don't feel free to hold contrary opinions; it's just that some of my friends and family are so rabid about theirs that it's usually more pain than pleasure to express mine. For example, my brother is of the opinion that red meat is God's gift to nutrition—according to him, most Americans are sissies who eat too much chicken—and he won't be deterred from this opinion. There's no reason for me to wave a carrot stick in his face because he'll just talk over me with his mouth full of steak until I get tired and call him a dirty name. Most of my friends swear up and down that Republicans are the scourge of the earth. Now, I'm not so sure we should be having tax cuts instead of prescription drug programs, but I don't think a little fiscal (and moral) responsibility is out of line, either. I refuse to argue about politics (i.e., I don't want to see it in my comments) because nobody is going to be persuaded one way or the other. I'm just saying...yours isn't the only opinion out there.

I'm sure at this point that everybody who reads my blog is gasping at my audacity. "Ha! You're the queen of contrary, single-minded opinion-holding and -expressing!" Um, sometimes, when it doesn't really matter. I don't think anybody's emotions are too invested in Tex-Mex or the non-romantic non-love story of My Fair Lady. When it really counts, I'll hold my tongue. I'm more concerned about feelings than opinions.

And to those of you who wondered who the last post was about...not you, okay? Might not even be anybody you know. Sometimes I'm capable of being hypothetical! Shocking!

No, it was you.

Just kidding.

(No, really. All you.)

Not you at all. Never you.

Totally you.

Sunday, February 02, 2003

I won't tolerate that kind of tolerance from you, bucko

You know that feeling you have when you think you should like somebody, but you just can't? The person has done nothing to piss you off, everybody else enjoys his company—like that one really popular guy at work, or a friend's super-sweet boyfriend, or the new person who gets drawn into your group of friends—but you just can't make yourself like him? It's a weird sensation, and I don't like it. I never know what I'm supposed to do. I mean, sure, I'm civil and sometimes I even put up a front of jovial acquaintance, but inside I'm sort of like, "Uh...go away now. You irritate, no reason. Run along now. Shoo." I don't want to hang out and I'm only hanging on to civility by the barest thread for the sake of the people who like this person. And then I feel guilty, but I can't tell anybody about it because nobody has any idea what I'm talking about. (Shut up, it is too an unusual occurrance.)

"What, you don't like Svetlana? But she's great! You just don't really know her. You'll get over it, and then you'll love her." Yeah, no. I won't, because she irritates me, and now you irritate me too, for not listening and not agreeing with my very rational snap judgment. Go play with your too-good-to-be-true friend and leave me to my curmudgeoning.

I don't really have a solution for this, as you can tell. I don't even have any good suggestions, except to say don't tell me who I will and will not like, because I know, thank you very much, even if I don't know why. *snaps teeth*

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