Thursday, March 05, 2009

singing into the void

I'm resuming this blog, but I'm not going to inform its former readership (a few people at best) that I've resumed it, which means that in all likelihood, no one will read this.  I kind of dig it that way, because all I really want is an everywhere-accessible journal, no audience required.  But since the gestalt of our current world seems to be such that even one's semi-private ramblings are meant to be tacked up for display in some remote corner of the public space, I'll do my part and toss this out there.  

I think I have an ulcer.  Or maybe colon cancer.  My stomach does funny things on and off, and I really need to get it checked out.  I should make a doctor's appointment tomorrow morning.  And I should do the dishes.  Those can be my two productive things before I go to work.  

Or I could never, ever get out of bed again, and that could work out okay too.  I feel like there's cement in my chest.  Is that possible?  why am i writing properly if no one is reading?  

Saturday, January 19, 2008

jobs, himalayan food, death, babies, and boobies

Well, the new posts on this blog continue to be sparse, despite my intentions otherwise. Maybe if I just resign myself to the rarity of my entries, the nagging pressure will go away and I'll be more inclined to post more often. Or maybe I won't, but I just won't care.

The new semester is going well at work, and along with all my kids from last semester, I have a new student who is bright and reasonably motivated. I like her a lot, probably in part because she is an 8th waver (freshman) and therefore not yet jaded and crabby (which is not to say that I hold it against my 6th wavers--i.e. seniors--for being jaded and crabby; I certainly acted that way when I was a senior).

Last weekend DWE was finally back in town, and we had a great time. Friday night he picked me up from work, and we went to Albany, which is just northwest of Berkeley. We walked all around the downtown area, then ate at a really good Nepalese restaurant. The thing I had was sort of like a yellow curry and it rocked my world. On our way home from dinner, we spontaneously decided to drive to Bakersfield the next morning. DWE got to meet my brother, sister-in-law, and step-mom, and everyone seemed to like everyone else. And DWE got to see how I'm the loudest, most obnoxious person in my family and how they all make fun of me. And he endeared himself further to my mother by being enthusiastic about playing with Emma (who, I should note, really is a bit calmer and better behaved than her predecessor, Hannah, who is the dog that some of you may have met).

This past Tuesday and/or Thursday was the anniversary of my dad's death (Tuesday if you go by two years to the day, Thursday if you go by date). I didn't end up doing much on either day, even though DWE made an effort to be home on Tuesday night. It was sad, and maybe a bit harder than last year, but it was also nice to spend time thinking about him and telling DWE stories about him. It's kind of amazing that it has been two years already, and it's good to remind myself that I can be sad sometimes but that life still goes happily on.

I guess my semi-big news for the moment is that DWE is planning to quit his job. The reasons why are complex, but can be most easily be summarized as "he is unhappy and frustrated for a variety of reasons, and he thinks that his talents can be of more use somewhere else." (This is more or less how he would summarize the reasons; my summary would be more along the lines of "his boss is a weaselly, smarmy little dick who doesn't deserve all the time and energy that DWE gives him.") The reason that this is big news in my life is that it is entirely possible, if not fairly likely, that DWE will find a new job that is not in the bay area, and if he relocates, so will I (although not before June, when my obligation to my current job ends). It could end up being a big step for us, though, because I told him I wouldn't move unless we are engaged (yes, I'm demanding, but hey, a girl's got to be practical).

I mentioned in my last post that I didn't get to see AK when I was in Oregon because she was poppin' out a baby, so I will close this post with a funny story and a cute picture. AK sent out pictures of her new daughter, KK, but somehow they didn't get sent to me even though they were supposed to. So she wrote to me last week to say hi and see how I liked the "nipple shot." Apparently, when she mass-emailed pictures of her and the baby (and her hubby and her older daughter G, who is looking so grown up and adorable that I can't even stand it) from the hospital, she accidentally sent one where her nipple is hanging out of her hospital gown. She forwarded them to me, and it's pretty hilarious, but lieu of posting her booby on the internet, I will just show you how cute newborn little K is.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

lucky number 2008

As you may know, New Year's Eve/Day is my favorite holiday. This year I was up in Portland for the occasion, and for the most part I had a delightfully good time, especially at the two awesome parties that AB and IB so graciously threw. It was great to see everyone (except AK, whom I didn't get to see because she was busy giving birth to her second child...what a lame excuse...), especially B, who came all the way from Seattle. It was also cool that DWE was there, and I think he had a good time hanging out with my posse.

Rebel and B being adorable at AB and IB's "grown up" party.

The view of the Hawthorne Bridge from our hotel room on New Year's Eve.

DWE and I just prior to going out on New Year's Eve.

And yet, despite the fun I had, despite the generally hopeful feeling I get around the start of a new year, and despite the fact that 8 is my lucky number, I'm feeling uneasy about 2008. I want to make resolutions, but I feel cynical and doubtful about my ability to change. I'm frustrated because I've had a cold for almost three weeks now, and I'm tired and run down, and I know I would probably be well by now if I took better care of myself. I feel a lot of uncertainty about the future, but I'm having a difficult time framing that uncertainty as a positive thing.

Anyway, I'm still pondering the resolutions, but I think I've decided on one for sure, which is to drink less alcohol. It isn't that I drink so incredibly much now, but I drink more than I should, and sometimes when I start drinking I have a hard time moderating myself (such as on New Year's Eve). I don't like it when parts of the evening are blurry, or when I get obnoxious, or when I'm all hung over the next day. And alcohol is expensive, and I think one of my other resolutions is going to have to do with fiscal responsibility.

So I guess I am going to make resolutions, even if I feel sort of cynical about it. Maybe I'll feel better once this damn cold is gone.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

merry christmas!

I know it seems like I only blog on major holidays now, but it's just been one of those months.

Have you missed me? Of course you have. Let's not make a big scene.

There's not much to say to catch you up since Thanksgiving. I spent a few more weeks feeling pretty depressed, which made things with DWE kind of difficult, and which largely explains the lack of blogging (or doing much else besides going to work and moping around feeling sorry for myself). I'm feeling much better mentally, but now I have a cold. It was actually kind of funny, because I often used to get sick during finals week, and now I'm getting sick during my students' finals.

Speaking of my students, I ended the semester feeling pretty good about how my classes are going with most of them, and also looking forward to how I can be a better teacher next semester. There are a few frustrating situations (like the student that I've had to re-teach negative exponents to at every class for the last three weeks), but in general I feel happy about how work is going.

I've been in Bakersfield for Christmas, which is lovely as usual. My great aunt is staying with us this year, which is especially cool. I got a new digital camera (to replace the one that got stolen in Ghana) for Christmas, so now I really have no excuse for not posting pictures. Here's one of most of my extended family on my mom's side:

My mom and I are on the far right, with my brother and my sister-in-law next to us, and my great aunt next to them, and my uncle behind her. The other four people are my mom's cousin, her daughter, her daughter's husband, and their newborn.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

(happy thanksgiving)

Well, I had a lovely Thanksgiving day with the fam here in Bakersfield. I saw the Rockettes in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, we played Scrabble, we played badmiton (which I suck at, in case anyone was wondering), we watched football, we ate Chex mix, and my mother made four pies (if you're counting, that's one pie per person...she didn't want anyone to be disappointed by not getting exactly what they wanted).

And yet, I feel a bit blue. I'm a little stressed out about money (the holidays = unpaid time off), I still don't know what to do with my professional life (I love my job, but it isn't a career), and I miss DWE too much (by which I mean he's been gone as much as usual, if not less than usual, and for some reason it's harder than it used to be). I have some vague sense that the free time and the independence that I have when he's gone is really a blessing, but I'm struggling to figure out precisely what it is that I want to do with my time (other than watch Law and Order reruns, which I finally stopped doing a half an hour ago).

I suppose what I should do right now is go to bed, since my mother and I are going to make some attempt to hit the sales at Target tomorrow (but probably not until 9 a.m. or so...we don't do that whole nutty 4 a.m. thing). I just finished transfering all the music on my ipod to my new computer, which was a small but satisfying accomplishment (that wasn't really apropos of anything; I just thought I'd mention it because I am mildly pleased with myself).

(Is this post heavy on the parentheticals or what?)

Monday, November 19, 2007

the most dangerous cities in america

A controversial study was recently published by CQ Press which purports to rank American cities by crime rates. Apparently, the study has been attacked as "an irresponsible misuse of crime data," a criticism upon which I am entirely unprepared to comment. All I can say is that, according to this study, my current hometown of Oakland, California is the fourth most dangerous city in America, and Richmond, California (the much smaller city where I work) is the ninth most dangerous.

Needless to say, my mother is very proud.

I'm not even a little bit surprised by either of these rankings. Oakland, like any city, has its sketchy parts, and they are truly quite sketchy. I, however, live in one of the safest and most gentrified parts of Oakland, and not a second should be wasted worrying about my safety in good ol' Rockridge. As for Richmond: yep, there's quite a bit of violence (hence the need to help the kids avoid all the violence and go to college instead). Most of the shootings are north of the BART station, while I work just south of the BART station, and I never walk by myself after dark. Also, there's been a very admirable community effort to stymie the violence through grassroots organization (there's this thing called "Tent City" which is sort of an intense version of a neighborhood watch, and which is apparently working pretty well).

I know it's kind of silly, but I'm almost a little proud that I live and work in the only two Californian cities to make the top ten on the dangerousness list. It isn't that I want to be in danger; it's more that I recognize that danger is out there, and I'm glad to be aware of it and acting in some very minor way to combat it (I figure that any time I spend in Oakland or Richmond during which I don't commit a crime is decent progress).

Saturday, November 17, 2007

lonely and politically ambiguous

I've been contemplating my social life (or lackthereof) this evening. I have friends here, but I rarely see them, partly because I don't make the effort to contact them. To some extent, I have been busy with DWE and with out-of-town visitors (last night my stepmom and her friend were in town, and last weekend Muffin was here), but I've also just been antisocial and moody. And of course, since I get home from work at 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, my socializing is generally limited to just weekends. So, I wish I had something to do tonight, but I suppose it's largely my own fault that I don't.

Instead of being social, I'm sort of goofing off and sort of trying to clean a little (after being inspired by Rebel's bout of weekend cleaning). I just took a sort of interesting but sort of dumb quiz at The Political Compass that is designed to situate people on a political spectrum with two dimensions (social and economic), the theory being that it is more insightful than the traditional single-dimension left-to-right spectrum. I agree wholeheartedly with the concept, because socially, I consider myself highly liberal, but economically, I'm moderate-to-conservative. It's why I'm hesitant to classify myself as a Democrat (but I do anyway, more or less). Anyway, after taking the website's quiz, here's where I'm supposedly situated on the compass:

The Political Compass

Economic Left/Right: -2.75
Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -6.00

Obviously I expected to land closer to the "Libertarian" end of the Social spectrum than the "Authoritarian" end. I'm certainly not a Libertarian (as an overall ideology, I think it's pretty dumb), but I support legalized marijuana and abortion, I oppose the death penalty, I am concerned by anti-terror curbing of civil liberties, etc. But I really don't consider myself to be as economically "lefty" as the quiz is telling me that I am. The reason for the discrepancy brings me to why I think the quiz was kind of stupid: some of the questions had (in my opinion) flawed premises and therefore elicited very misleading answers from me. For example: "The only social responsibility of a company should be to deliver a profit to its shareholders." Well, in theory, I strongly agree with this statement. Companies aren't designed to make the world a better place, and that's not what they exist for. They exist to make profits, and that is what they should do. But what of the environment, the downsized employees, etc? Well, the environmental costs of what the company does should be paid by the business along with all of its other costs through very carefully designed regulatory systems. That way, the business only polutes to the extent that it is profitable to do so (keeping in mind that it's probably not profitable to pollute very much, because pollution is very expensive when you have to pay for all of its consequences). Companies should support the employees that they lay off by paying high taxes that ensure that the government can afford really good public health care, retraining programs, etc.

My point is, I don't think it is the responsibility of a company to be anything other than a ruthless little profit machine. I think it is the responsibility of government, not business, to protect its people and its environment. Business should merely be made to pay their fair share in order to help the government do all this (after all, government is gracious enough to support the legal and property rights that businesses rely on).

So in retrospect, I should have answered that question with a "strongly agree", but instead I said "disagree" because I don't think that business should be given the latitude to tromp all over people and the environment, and I feel like that's what the question was implicitly asking. But maybe I was overthinking the whole thing. But this also brings me to the point that my actual view involves a pretty powerful federal government that collects a lot of taxes and does a lot of stuff, which should probably scoot me a bit closer to the "Authoritarian" end of things.

Yeah, so, did I mention how bored I am?

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