Will all members of my family who are reading this please stand up and identify themselves?
If anonymity on the internet is unattainable for me, the blogger, it seems only fair that it should be unattainable for you, the reader, as well. I don't particularly care if you Google my name, which is probably how you got here. You've no doubt discovered the entire assortment of results that come up, including this page, the UCB Out List (how damn old is that thing?), my thoughts on pie and porn on other blogs, and pictures from my vacations with my boyfriend. Cool. Enjoy yourself. Hi Mom. How's the semester going?
In exchange for access to this free and steady stream of absolutely everything that goes through my head, if indeed you want to read it, I ask the following: do not lurk. You know that I'm here. I'd like to know that you're here. I'd like to find out that you're here when you're here, as opposed to months later when someone else points out that they heard about my blog from other family members ages ago.
Guys. Really. I don't mind my blog being a point of contact with my family. Contact with my family is a pretty rare thing in my life these days, but it's not because I don't like you. So say something. I'll say something back. We can have a nice conversation. Tell me about the children you've had in the last two years whom I've never met, and where you're living and working now.
It'll make me a lot less inclined to shut this thing down to stop you all from lurking around it. Thanks.
I'm ditching paint class!
My office periodically has representatives from various product lines -- window companies, building hardware manufacturers, lighting suppliers, and so on -- come in and give a lunchtime talk about their products. It's kind of a glorified sales pitch; if they get us to include their stuff in one of our 4-story hotels they've just made thousands of dollars in sales, so it's worth it to them to buy us sandwiches and cookies. I usually make an effort to procure a nice eggplant sandwich or pasta salad and munch on it while product specifications go flying over my head and through my ears.
Today it's a paint company, and don't ask how much there is to say about paint. They can talk about their color-matching programs with fixture manufacturers, their custom color mixing, their topcoats and bottomcoats and weather-resisting qualities, their outgassing ratings, and their special pigment technology all in more detail than you ever dreamed existed. I've decided that, between my general ambivalence toward paint (it's nice, but I don't feel any passion for it) and the absence of a vegan lunch option, I just won't attend today. I'll take the taller project manager up on his sympathetic suggestion that I don't have to listen to all of that technical (read: boring) information if I don't want to.
But ohmigod ohmigod ohmigod I'm ditching! The front of the office is dead quiet and empty, like the hallways in high school in the middle of a class period. I'm trying to minimize the crunching noises from my apple and the clicky noises of my keys because ohmigod what if someone catches me? I'll totally get detention and the attendance office will call my parents to tell them I ditched. Noooo!
The important question is, "If Dianna's head is still aching and work is plagued by technical difficulties, why is she having such a bloody wonderful day?"
The answer is that she's holding in her hands everything she needs to be back in school in either August or January (minus the current General Catalog and Schedule of Classes) and she's just discovered she's eligible for readmission after all.
I have a stack of paperwork 1/8" thick: readmission paperwork, change of college paperwork, declaration of major paperwork, major application paperwork, program planning paperwork, required classes lists, checklists, guidelines, you name it. It's all here along with instructions telling me who needs it when, and I have until June to put it all together.
Best of all, the irony that's had me beating myself over the head for the past year has just evaporated in the face of more careful reading. The AP classes I was shunted into in high school despite not wanting to be in them will not, after all, count against me in my effort to get readmitted to study what I'm actually interested in. The fact that I took my time in deciding where to go after leaving architecture won't actually mean that I can't get out of architecture at all. In other words, credits earned during high school don't count against the 90-unit maximum for petitioning to change colleges. Praise Hallelujah thingy!
I can't let the office manager see me with this stuff. She starts to sound panicky when I talk about leaving and going back to school. I'll have to sit her down and assure her unequivocally that I'm not going anywhere for seven to twelve months, and then bring up the subject of my ceasing to be here. Maybe I'll give her a cookie first to make her feel better. Maybe I need one myself, because all this red tape makes me so nervous I'm bouncing off the walls. School!
I don't think I can ever have those double chocolate coffee toffee cookies again. At least, I can never have the entire package in one sitting again unless I'm willing to officially get back on the caffeine train. I have a splitting headache today that I've only barely managed to dull by drinking my entire daily tea allowance at once along with two Advil and an aspirin (it's a poor man's Excedrin!). It's coming back now anyway. Blast.
On the plus side, I made a shirt that actually functions as a shirt, which is something I'd been deathly afraid to even try. Shirts are complicated. Sleeves? Please. Give me skirts any day: cut out two identical pieces, turn them back to back and sew two sides, and throw some elastic into the waist. If you get bored and stop sewing halfway down one side, then it's a slit skirt and that's even more exciting. I still think you get more bang for your buck with skirts (since one stinkin' long-sleeved t-shirt used up most of a yard of fabric, most of a big spool of thread, and most of yesterday), but I do now have an excitingly stripey shirt where previously I only had an excitingly stripey square.
Now I am neither square nor bare, but that is neither here nor there.
I have set aside today for rubbing my hands together and cackling and spending hours at a time hunched over an obscure and complicated project involving lots of sketching and planning and feeding raw materials through whirring machines only to see them come out transformed into the stuff of my ambitious and convoluted dreams. What I require to make this happen is as follows:
This is gonna be good. It's gonna be purple.
1. Whereas: there is more weird shit on sale for $3 around here than you can shake a stick at,
2. and Whereas: I want some of it,
3. and Whereas: you want some of it,
4. Therefore: you should come thrift shopping with me. Someone. Anyone, really.
I know four big thrift stores in Berkeley. I know two even bigger ones in San Francisco that I've never even been in (and if you know others, all the better). I have next Friday afternoon off and so help me, I'm spending some portion of it pawing through racks of clothing and trying things on. Join me! I'll model sequined things for your amusement. It'll be great.
This offer is also open indefinitely to persons located in the greater Monterey Bay area who were just talking about coming up here and going to Gottsi and whatnot. 'Cause, you know, cheap shit will still be there after Friday.
I'm the victim of a widespread conspiracy of Ow. My plan for spending today being nice to my delicate back muscles has been derailed by 1. lateness 2. network failure 3. forgetfulness 4. really actually needing access to that network 5. absence of our one technologically-savvy employee 6. also unfortunately needing stuff at my desk 7. finding a networked computer at the other end of the office 8. still needing that stuff at my desk and being unable to move it and 9. moving myself back and forth instead. Oh, and 10. using a non-ergonomic credenza as a computer desk for the one computer that's actually got everything working.
I report with glee that my back is feeling okay anyway! Silent conspiracy, you will not triumph over me (global terrorism global terrorism global terrorism)!
Sorry about the global terrorism. I'm channeling Rudolph Giuliani.
I seem to have underestimated how much coming to work today was going to hurt. I seem to have overestimated how comfortable my chair is, which I suppose isn't terribly surprising given how much I overestimated how comfortable MUNI would be and how much I underestimated the minimum amount of getting up and moving around that my job entails. I'm really hoping I'm not overestimating the amount of Advil that I can safely take, said Dianna as she exceeded the suggested dosage for probably the tenth time in three days. I'm trying not to underestimate the proper resting time between ice sessions, though why I feel I can overdose on ibuprofen and not frozen water I'm really not sure.
I'm considering re-estimating my working hours and going home at 3:00. By 4:15 I could be lying on the couch covered in blankets reading Book 7 of the Series of Unfortunate Events and trying to push insistent kittens off of my stomach. The insistent kittens and their unintentional pressure on my sore spine, I estimate very reasonably, will hurt. The couch will not. The book, in anything other than a metaphorical or emotional sense, will not hurt.
That settles it. 2-1 against hurting is better than what I'm getting here.
(from "Sweeney Erect", T.S. Eliot)
Morning stirs the feet and hands
(Nausicaa and Polypheme)
Gesture of orang-outang
Rises from the sheets in steam
This withered root of knots of hair
Slitted below and gashed with eyes,
This oval O cropped out with teeth:
The sickle motion from the thighs
Jackknifes upward at the knees
Then straightens out from heel to hip
Pushing the framework of the bed
And clawing at the pillow slip.
That's pretty much me. I somehow managed to throw my back out this weekend, whatever exactly it is that that means. I spent yesterday lying on the couch groaning, getting myself stuck in positions from which I couldn't seem to move, and making plaintive requests for ice and Advil and help getting to the bathroom. The pattern so far seems to be that if I pretend I don't have a right side -- don't try to twist right, don't try to scoot right, and above all don't lean or roll to the right -- I can pretend to be reasonably unpained. It also helps if I don't try to get up much, because sitting or laying back down involves spending several quality minutes in T.S. Eliot land (I didn't quote the part about the shrieking, so you'll have to either look up the whole poem or just imagine it).
It's a good thing I'm taking such an exotic journey here, because I've run out of sick days from work and I'm now starting to use up vacation days on this. Wheeee! I'll write you all a postcard.
As I keep reading in the news, the interim government of Iraq has given up on getting the January 30th vote to happen throughout the entire country. Some parts, probably the ones where people keep getting shot and blown up in large numbers, just aren't going to have polls. It's not that I disagree with the decision; you couldn't pay me enough to be a poll worker in Tikrit this year. It's just that this creates a rather nasty future problem.
The pockets that won't be voting are the ones that are completely racked by violence. They're completely racked by violence because they're hotbeds of insurgency; they're hotbeds of insurgency because they're centers of the Sunni minority. The Sunni minority, then, basically isn't going to be voting much.
Okay. The odds of any significant Sunni representation after the election are low no matter what. That's what being a minority means, especially when the US is pretty much backing the other guys. So there are going to be a lot of people -- Sunni people -- not recognizing the elected government as legitimate because a) they're not in it and b) they didn't vote it in. To sum up, the same people who now don't recognize the interim government as legitimate and are trying to fuck it up as much as possible are going to have every reason to not recognize the elected government and try to fuck it up as much as possible.
That's gonna suck.
You, dear reader, have made an excellent choice to accessorize your wardrobe with a green PVC utility raincoat, size small, like-new condition. You really found quite a bargain on it, too! It's a great piece of clothing. It's completely impermeable, with a cowled hood to keep water out of your face and pockets that don't leak rain onto the inside of the coat. Knee-length is a perfect length for a raincoat, too, so you stay dry down to the knees even in driving rain. It's not quite so huge that you feel like you're wearing a poncho, but it is roomy enough that you can carry a purse or book bag inside the coat to keep it dry. To top it all off, it's lightweight and not too bulky, so you can easily stuff it into your satchel of choice and carry it around with you when it's not raining.
How do I know you've acquired this fantastic piece of raingear?
Because my dumb ass left it in Dolores Park at lunch today and didn't have time to go back and get it. Crap.
The combination of Murphy's Irish Stout and hot green tea is, I have discovered, precisely as disgusting as it sounds.
I couldn't not know.
My landlord called Jacob in Colorado to hypothesize that the thermostat probably has a dead battery. If we replace the battery, he suggested, it'll work just fine.
He might be on to something; there is certainly no working battery in the thermostat. I had assumed that that was because it's a mechanical thermostat complete with metallic coil and glass mercury bulb, but perhaps it only developed those characteristics as a stress response to its lack of battery power. Certainly I'm not one to question the landlord's knowledge of his appliances. I'll try taping a battery to the mercury mechanism and see what happens; expect an update tonight if I still have fingers.
I spent about half of this weekend in Santa Cruz with my sinister. It's a two-hour trip on Greyhound, which was itself surprisingly enjoyable because a bus full of people being quietly bored turns out to be a perfect place to spend two rainy, foggy hours with a book. This is not, therefore, the part of the story that's unfortunate. Neither is my realization that I really like pubs, of which a sparkling example is the Poet & Patriot in Santa Cruz. Katie and I wandered in and nursed drinks and played cards and didn't have to deal with anyone acting like a stupid dick, despite the fact that it was late late late Saturday night and we were playing with cards with semi-naked women on them. This, as you may have gathered, is also not unfortunate (although the fact that I don't have a deck of cards like that myself is slightly unfortunate).
What was unfortunate, in fact, was the series of events which we witnessed earlier Saturday night. We were told that these events would be deeply, direly traumatic and hopeless for those involved. This was true. We had been led to believe that the entire experience would be one of vaguely Victorian oppressiveness and morbidity. It was, in fact, just that. We understood that these events would not occur through accident but through the deliberate malice of truly despicable people. As it happened, that was precisely how they occurred. We were also made to understand that, despite all narrative customs that demand otherwise, these unfortunate happenings would not end with daring narrow escapes by plucky and clever protagonists who would then go on to live happily ever after; they would end with more unfortunate events drawn from a depressingly inexhaustible supply of misery and mishap.
That one was apparently a sticking point for somebody. These are children's stories, they reasoned, and children's stories are supposed to end on positive, message-reinforcing notes. The plucky heroes solve one problem and everything else falls into line, because it's best for kids to believe that that's how things work (and everyone else, for that matter, once Hollywood gets involved).
I hypothesize that the creators of the movie did this: put the person of Lemony Snicket into a wrestling cage with an appointed representative of the children's-movie-making establishment. He was hired muscle, probably, told not to be too hard on the author because we need another three books out of him to finish the series. The referee called fifteen rounds, and whoever won each round got to set the tone for the next five minutes of film. Dreary? Inspiring? Sappy? Abysmal? Loathsome? Sweet? Snicket won most of the rounds, but man, when the Hollywood goon stopped pulling punches he really beat the poor bastard into the floor. Shame about those bits.
Our office, which art in heaven, or is at least long overdue to be dead, is a historically significant 19th-century San Francisco row house once converted into an antique shop and thence to an architecture office. This gives it the following wonderful qualities:
In other words, there's no heat (or air conditioning either), the two walls that meet to form the corner where I sit are as thermally transparent as single-ply Kleenex, the door 5 feet from me won't stay shut, and if all four of us along the (thermally transparent) south wall turn on our heater fans at once, the power goes out. The lease is up in two months; can I interest anyone in this lovely Victorian property?
I realized as I was leaving for work this morning that the house was still as freezing cold as it had been when I woke up. Odd, that, since I'd turned on the furnace on my way into the shower. I gingerly put a hand over one of the furnace vents, and when it failed to turn to ash, pressed it right onto the metal. Still no searing blast of hellfire. That meant the pilot light was out, but since I was running late I didn't want to stop and light it right then. I turned off the gas line to the furnace and went to work.
The house was still here when I got home, which is always a good sign when gas appliances are acting up. I hauled out a flashlight and a pack of matches and thought expert, no-nonsense thoughts. Open hatch, light the match first because your other hand will be busy holding in the "pilot" button, then push the button, then light the pilot light, remember not to let go of the button. After a couple of tries I got the thing lit and burning merrily, closed up the front of the furnace, set up a fan to get the sulfur smell out of the living room, and cranked up the thermostat.
Nada. The faint tepid feeling of a pilot light burning on the other side of some hefty insulation, but no powerful infernal blast. I turned the thermostat up, down, back up and sideways. Nope. I pulled the thermostat cover off and checked that the glass mercury-tilter (who ever thought that was a safe idea?) was working. Working, yes, but not making me warm. I opened up the furnace again and made sure that my hard-won pilot light was still lit. In fact, it was the only thing putting out any heat inside the whole contraption.
So. Rain, wind, overnight temperatures in the 40s, and it's up to me, my freezing toes, and my $10 heater fan to thaw this place out? If the headlines tomorrow say "Berkeley girl found asleep in oven", you'll know why.
After some dicking around with lights, moving alarm clocks around, reading Terry Pratchett books, and anything else that would slightly delay the moment of going to bed alone, I dozed off at 12:30 a.m. with my bedside lamp on and the stereo playing quietly to distract my sleeping brain. I woke up two hours later scrambling for the stereo remote because I'd slept through REM and Morphine and was now listening to Portishead.
Portishead, if you're wondering, will not make your empty house more comfortable. While your individual mileage may vary, you should expect a 10-20% rise in oppressive spookiness in all rooms in which the music is audible. Rooms in which the music is half-audible may experience a higher increase in spookiness than rooms in which the music can be fully heard and appreciated.
Fortunately, that was the scariest thing to happen to me over the course of yesterday night. I woke up a few times, looked around, realized that contrary to all expectations the kitchen was not full of feral vampire squirrels, and went back to sleep. Glorious! I left the house this morning feeling like a little kid with new shoes: proud, excited, and trying to strike a balance between grinning from ear to ear and acting very mature and calm.
I bought myself a bus ticket to Santa Cruz for the weekend anyway. 48 hours without the economical imperative to be at work all day might be pushing it, and there is still the matter of the zombies in the water heater closet. I know they're there.
Jacob left for Colorado this morning. He's too excited about the paper he's writing to keep quiet about it, and has decided to barge into some big science seminar and tell everyone what he's doing. It'll totally spoil the element of surprise, but he's bound and determined to spend all week there spilling the beans.
No Jacob means no one will trick me into watching scary movies, but it also means I'll be watching my non-scary movies by myself. No cooked mushrooms sneakily inserted into dinner, but then, no witty repartee over the sautee pan. On the plus side, when I wake up at 2 a.m. from a nightmare I can turn on all the lights without disturbing anyone, but on the minus side, I can also huddle in bed with the covers over my head until sunrise without anyone reminding me that there aren't actually zombies in the water heater closet.
On that note, here's a sample conversation you can follow if I call you and babble hysterically about something that doesn't make any sense:
Dianna: "Ceramic seventeen ferocious west byway!"
You: "No, it's just a raccoon in the crawlspace."
Dianna: "High roller lukewarm turdmuckle?"
You: "Stomp on the floor and it'll run away."
Dianna: "Pitch! Absinthe gruesome travertine!"
You: "No, it's normal raccoon size. Yes, I checked. It's fine."
Dianna: (warily) "Breadbasket furry noodlespoon?"
You: "Oh, well, that one's true. They do have laser eyes. Yeah, who'd have thought?"
As you can see from these simple equations, practice is bad, but drugs are good. America's young musicians need to know this.
I think I'm being wooed by our printing company's delivery driver. Not the cute spiky-haired teenager, and not the surfer guy, the other one. The one who always calls me by my name, gives me an astoundingly cheery smile out of all proportion to the excitement involved in delivering a set of drawings, asks me how I've been, tells me it's good to see me, and insists on shaking my hand before he leaves. But lest you think he's just being friendly and I'm jumping to conclusions, here's the other thing he apparently does.
Sends me a Christmas card. Not the general Christmas card that their office sent our office, but a separate Christmas card left on my desk in an envelope with my name on it. "For you, Dianna," he wrote inside above the printed greeting, and signed his name along with the words "[company name] driver" in case I didn't recognize the name.
It's a nice try. He didn't do himself any favors by secretly shaking the Mexican architect's hand while I was out sick, though. Did he think I wasn't going to hear about that? Hussy. Maybe next time he comes in I should slap him in the face and inform him that it's over between us.