January 28, 2007

My cat's dysfunctional relationships.

She seeks comfort and love only from people who don't return her affection. I think it's unhealthy. Observe her recent interactions with a few of my housemates:

Lisa: [picking Peanut up and cuddling her] You love me!
Peanut: [squirming away and running under the bed]
Lisa: You don't love me.

Justyna: Mister Fluffypants!
Me: You mean Ms. Fluffypants.
Justyna: Come here Mister Fluffypants!
Peanut: [running away and hiding]

Elliot: Eh? Hmph.
Peanut: [walking on his lap and purring]

Ping: [holding out a hand for possible petting, at a friendly but respectful distance] Hi Peanut.
Peanut: [turning around and ignoring him]

Me: [flopping into bed and ignoring her]
Peanut: [trying to pet herself with my unresponsive hands]
Me: Oof. Lemme sleep.
Peanut: [purring and tromping all over my head]

If she were human, she'd need some serious counseling.

Posted by dianna at 03:19 PM

January 27, 2007

Afternoons and coffee forks.

My house had a room-to-room party last night. In theory, the room-to-room is the platonic ideal co-op party, in which a majority of the attendees either live in the house or know most of the people who do, everyone gets really excited about hosting their own little themed space, and it's generally an evening of house bonding and well-mannered frivolity.

This is not how a room-to-room ever actually works.

At least, this is not how a room-to-room works once it's actually gotten into swing. People make elaborate plans, decorations, costumes, activities, fancy refreshments, and after the first few rooms there are just too many people and they're just too drunk for it to be anything but an all-night all-comers dance party in every room of the house. Which is to most co-opers like the mythical never-ending frosted fudge brownie to a kid with a sweet tooth, and people generally enjoy themselves into a stupor that lasts the rest of the weekend.

But I am that rare bird, the co-oper who likes quiet evenings with games and movies and a few beers or maybe hot chocolate and people you mostly know who can still walk upright and carry on a conversation. I came home at 1:00 after just such an evening, at a cozy pub in the city with a few old friends from work, and found people wrestling in the pool room and doing kegstands in a sea of crushed Doritos outside my door, and I was not happy. And I wandered upstairs to knock on my friends' doors and found them all gone or in hiding, and I was not happy. And I found my old roommate in a room full of party-crashers from Cloyne, and he was teetering around telling me it was the perfect party, and I glared at him and told him it was supposed to be an in-house party, and he told me "look at all these happy people", and I looked and found that it really didn't help a damn bit.

And I made my way back upstairs in a state of petulance and martyrhood to the relative peace of the spoon-themed room, and I sat and watched the flocks of spoons hanging on their slender threads from the ceiling and twinkling faintly as they moved with the air currents, and by the time I made my way back to my little room in the land of spilled beer and drunken strangers my head was full of spoons and the general chaos couldn't intrude. And had this been a movie or a corny short story I would have fallen asleep and dreamt of spoons, and woken up in a dreamy calm and picked up a brush and started painting the lithe, strangely beautiful spoon images which would slowly and quietly work their way into the lives and hearts of critics, become the icon of the new Peace And Spoons movement, and make me world-famous but still so very content and unassuming. But this is not that kind of story, and I woke up grumpy about the mess and snapped at my housemates while I mopped the kitchen. And drawing spoons is way too much work.

But I have spent the afternoon listening to Sufjan Stevens and eating jam toast and watching the gloomy sky turn darker, and it's pretty nice, spoons or no spoons.

Posted by dianna at 05:05 PM

January 25, 2007

A priori obligationi.

Did anyone reading this make plans with me for tomorrow (Friday) night?

It's just that I'm troubled by the nagging sensation that the 26th is a night on which I agreed to do something or other, but I can't recall what it was. It wasn't the room-to-room at my house -- that's the thing that I'm trying to figure out if I have a scheduling conflict with. It'll be embarrassing if it turns out that it's mopping the kitchen, but if nobody here points out some particular glaring omission I've made, I'll be forced to assume that I am in fact lame enough to regard workshifts as an exciting Friday night date.

Oh: for anyone who didn't see the announcement, comments are shut down for the moment because of a spam problem, not because I hate you. Much. So if you do have urgent information for me about my social calendar, email it to me. I'm fairly sure my email address is general knowledge in these parts.

Posted by dianna at 10:08 PM

Ender's game is apparently "Doctor".

As the title suggests, I'm presently reading Ender's Game. Just about everyone I know read it at some point in junior high or high school, and I've finally gotten sick enough of putting my fingers in my ears and humming whenever it's talked about that I've borrowed Jacob's copy and started reading. It's good; I mostly like it. I could quarrel with the writing a little bit, but it neatly avoids a number of the major potholes that books about the future like to fall into. I'm not done yet, so don't say anything about the story or I'll kick you. But a thought does occur to me.

If you're a kid anywhere in or generally around Great Britain, and you get ahold of an American copy of this book and bring it to school, you will be the official Hero-Procurer-of-Dirty-Words for at least a month. Did Orson Scott Card not think too critically about naming his aliens "buggers"?

Posted by dianna at 10:43 AM

January 20, 2007

Lessons from my bookshelf.

I've spent most of today trying to get properly moved into my new room. This means unpacking my increasingly ridiculous book collection and cramming it into less than half the shelf space that I had in my old room. To manage the ensuing enormous headache and compensate for the inelegance of my shelving, I'm trying to employ some basic librarianship and organize them roughly by genre.

The problem with this is that my rambling, scattered book collection doesn't divide neatly into shelf-lengths of similar items. For instance, to fill the rest of the shelf designated Fantasy, it was necessary for me to include Chariots of the Gods by Erich von Daniken, Robert Graves' books on the Greek myths, and eventually my Chinese-language Bible as well. But then I opened another box and realized that the only place I had left for A Game of Thrones was in Respectable Fiction. I couldn't handle that, so I had to take out the Bible and move it to Respectable Fiction instead. This left the Bhagavad-Gita and the aforementioned Greek mythology books still in Fantasy, and prompted a half-hour of nail-chewing and convoluted logical arguments before I agreed to disagree with myself and leave them there.

The whole process is also fraught with uncertainty. Flatland is technically science fiction, but it's old and frail -- by publication date, I mean, not by the condition of my copy -- and I can't bring myself to leave it to the tender mercies of shelfmates like Niven and Asimov. Is Best Bisexual Women's Erotica 2001 fantasy, fiction, or reference? Does my bartending book belong with reference or cookbooks? Is American Psycho respectable fiction, or do I have to set aside a shelf for Disreputable Fiction?

It's also very dependent on my mood. If I'm feeling agreeable I'll put Foucault in Reference or Anthropology, but if I'm feeling particularly grumpy he may have to go in Fiction. An optimistic Dianna would put her language textbooks in Reference, but, honestly, they may be better off in Fantasy. My few issues of Transmetropolitan -- Science Fiction, or gritty realistic Reference? After several hours of this I'm about ready to throw the whole project out and put absolutely everything in Lies.

The real issue, though, the way I see it, is this: what demon could possibly have possessed me to purchase two copies each of two entirely separate X-Files books? I'd still be asking what demon possessed me if I'd only bought one copy of each, but two has me really worried. Was I out of town and unable to cope with being away from my original copies? Did I want a backup set in case I read the originals so many times they fell apart? They all still have that pristine look of uncreased covers and dog-ear-free pages that tells me it's doubtful I ever finished them once (although I cannot in honesty claim I never started them). Am I just horribly forgetful? Did I find them in the bookstore the second time and find them compellingly familiar without knowing why? And is it unethical of me to donate them to the house library as a way to dispose of them with minimal shame? Actually, the free pile is closer to my room and paints a much more accurate picture of their worth. I just can't shake the feeling that it should probably still qualify as illegal garbage dumping.

Posted by dianna at 11:27 PM

Your two-line character sketch for today.

Me: I really don't think the room lights up when I walk into it.
Lisa, thoughtful: Well, the light level does change...


Posted by dianna at 08:14 PM

January 08, 2007

Can't speak. Must hyperventilate.

I read Mike Doughty's intriguing and travel-rich blog on a more or less regular basis, but tend to fall behind when he gets back from a tour and posts all at once all the pictures that he's taken in the cities he's visited. At the moment he's just returned from a European tour with stops in Germany and Austria, and the pictures are flowing freely. I've begun attempting to catch up -- it's generally worth scrolling through the mass of streetscapes and foodstuffs to find the odd gem of strangeness, such as a sticker on a lightpole in Vienna reading "fucked by crap".

But that's not the thing about Vienna that has me hyperventilating. Observe: oh my god oh my god it's so tiny and furry it cannot possibly be a real animal! And yet it is. There's another one further down, if I recall correctly. The stubby legs! The oversized head! The droopy belly! The hooves almost invisible under all that fur! I really, really want to touch it. I know in my heart that it's probably boring and prickly and smelly like every other horselike animal in the world, but maybe, just maybe, it's soft and fluffy like a teddy bear and cavorts around like a big dog but when it steps on your toes it doesn't hurt because its feet are so furry, and we can have wonderful adventures together and lay in grassy meadows and it will be FUZZY! Oh my goodness.

Also, if you scroll down through that entry, you will see the aforementioned "fucked by crap" sticker. I'm a really big fan.

Posted by dianna at 05:46 PM

January 07, 2007

The sultan's lack of energy.

I've been having an amazingly difficult time for the last couple of months getting out of bed in the morning, getting dressed, and generally doing anything that leads to leaving my room on time for anything. Having just now figured out a large part of why, I feel simultaneously brilliant for the discovery and really dumb for taking so long to catch on.

Around, say, November, my roommate and I redecorated our room for a house party. This was the kind of party where people give their rooms themes and exciting decor and activities, and people troop around from room to room sampling the environments and intoxicants. I believe I've mentioned our theme in passing -- The Sultan's Love Palace, no? We put up about 20 yards of silky red and maroon fabrics over the walls and ceiling, and pilfered cushions from all over the house to make the whole thing as much like a soft and opulent tent as possible. These things have some kind of gravity, I've since discovered, so that a week later I found an embroidered maroon wallhanging in the free pile and a housemate even went so far as to bring me a purple and gold tapestry from a trip to the edge of Tibet. The more the merrier, of course, so I added all of these things to the already outrageous accumulation in my room. For a month and a half it's been as near to a womb as anything I've been in as an adult, a cozy cave in shades of warmth and softness against the increasingly grey Bay Area weather.

For a month and a half my attendance at work has been increasingly spotty, the frequency with which I turn off my alarm clock has risen, well, alarmingly, and more and more when I do show up to morning commitments it's with bleary eyes and unbrushed hair. I can't drag myself out of my room unless I'm expelled by the sheer force of my own panic 10 minutes before I have to be someplace.

Put this way, it doesn't appear to take a genius to figure this all out. But until twenty minutes ago when I started taking down drapes and blinking in the brightness of perfectly ordinary blue walls, it never occurred to me that my decor could have any downsides. How could a cozy, comfortable, dim, enervating maze of glorified bedclothes ever be a bad thing for a girl trying to get to work on time in January? It couldn't possibly.

I feel a bit like Theoden being released from Wormtongue's spells, actually; the curtains have been thrown back, the cobwebs of the mind dispelled (though not those of the room, as it turns out), and I can see reason again. It's fairly glorious. To war! Or, since I have to get up early tomorrow, to bed! Er, hurrah?

Posted by dianna at 11:15 PM

You want to hear about frustrating?

Try tuning a whole guitar one step down so you can play a Wolf Parade song, using a finicky electronic tuner that's clearly unhappy with the whole process and will grant you most of the proper notes if you agree to pretend it's actually a bass that you're tuning, but will not acknowledge the existence of a legitimate F on any open string of any instrument in its repertoire, forcing you to tune that string by comparison to the C below it which itself caused the tuner no end of distress and made it flicker madly between something called "HC" and something called "LB" with its tiny LCD dial swinging wildly from catastrophically flat to catastrophically sharp. Also, the damn thing thinks that silence sounds like a rather flat low B.

If you know me well enough you've probably gathered that I'm actually enjoying this immensely and intend to continue gleefully dicking around with it long into the evening. Also, because this is the internet and the land of unwanted advice, let me state for the record that I am not in search of helpful hints from players of guitars or other stringed instruments. I am certain that somewhere out there is someone who has some, and that person may be certain that were he or she to post them I would give my full attention to ignoring them so that I might continue to dick around freely.

But if you're interested, you can rest assured that the riff at the end of "Modern World" is really neat.

Posted by dianna at 07:33 PM

January 05, 2007

From the history files: 2002 sucked.

Did you know that UC Berkeley revokes graduates' library privileges even before their final transcripts are ready? I find that unseemly, partly because I still have five books checked out of which I'm convinced at least three aren't in my possession. I also think it's absurd that someone can be trusted to work in the library but not to borrow books from it; I'm presently engaged in a no-win wrestling bout with my own moral sensibilities over whether to keep an interesting book I just found at my desk and read it while I'm supposed to be working, or demagnetize it and take it home on the sly, since I can't simply legitimately borrow it. Unless, that is, I want to pay $30 per year to the California Alumni Association and receive all sorts of financial solicitations and unwanted publications so that I can pretend I'm paying for something other than just keeping my damn library card. Good grief.

That is not the point of this entry. The point of this entry is that, having gotten impatient waiting for transcripts to be sorted out, I've gone and calculated my final GPA on my own. My recent improvement has paid off; I am now a decent, respectable if not impressive, 3.0 student. Which is funny, really, because for both of these last two semesters I've gotten 3.9 semesterly GPAs and no grade lower than an A-. My first two years here were solid (decent, respectable) B averages -- how in god's name did it take such phenomenal work just to come out with the same fair-to-middling grades I started with?

The answer is right in front of you: 2002 sucked. When I calculated my GPA I thought it might be fun to come up with a number for every semester. The first two years were downright mundane. The last year left bright spots on my retinas. In between was a veritable dark age, a sinkhole of academic slippage that slid through mediocrity and out the other side into criminal negligence. I had a 2.3 semester. That was bad. Resolved not to repeat that offense, I instead made the next semester an outstandingly horrendous 1.75. In percentage terms, that's a 44%. Not content merely to fail a class, I failed even to pass my semester on average.

Why isn't really all that exciting: depression, unmotivation (which is not entirely the same as a mere absence of motivation), a certain contrary self-destructiveness. The short term for all of this in my personal language is "2002". It just wasn't very good. But when I came up with these numbers they gave me such an illicit thrill of horribleness that I thought I'd give you an opportunity to gawk with me. Some people read about serial killers, some watch war movies, and others crane their necks at car crashes. I've heard that terror and tragedy make normal life seem more precious. Me, I just look back at my grades. 2002. Eeeeek! 2002! Aaaaaaaahhhh! 20--no! No! I can't look anymore! I'll have nightmares!

Posted by dianna at 12:47 PM