[ordered chaos 9]

||Life After College:  Year 2 - Corporate Hell


(I am)
..22 years old  
..in New York
(Soundbite) || 08.04.03
(x)Prelude to Foundation
:: by Isaac Asimov
(x)Harry Potter: Order of the Phoenix
:: by J.K. Rowling
(x)Bird by Bird
:: by Ann Lamott
(x)Forward the Foundation
:: by Isaac Asimov
(3.9.03-?)One Hundred Years of Solitude
:: by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
(x)Foundation's Edge
:: by Isaac Asimov
(x)Small Wonder
:: by Barbara Kingsolver
(x)Man from Mundania
:: by Piers Anthony
(x)Second Foundation
:: by Isaac Asimov
(x)Daughter of Fortune
:: by Isabel Allende
(x)Foundation and Empire
:: by Asimov
(x)Ender's Game
:: by Orson Scott Card
:: by Jose Saramago
(x)A Clockwork Orange
:: by Anthony Burgess
:: by Asimov
(x)The Eyre Affair
:: by Jasper Fforde
:: by Milan Kundera
(x)In Our Strange Gardens
:: by Michael Quint
:: by Diana Wynne Jones
(x)East of Eden
:: by John Steinbeck
(x)Future Homemakers of America
:: by Laurie Graham
(x)Bel Canto
:: by Ann Patchett
(x)DragonLance Chronicles
:: by Margaret Weis
(x)Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress
:: by Dai Sijie
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Due to popular demand,
the comments section
has been re-instated.
"The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad enough to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved... The ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow Roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars."

    -Jack Kerouac

[Monday, September 30, 2002]

Analysts are worked like slaves I heard.

Those were the ominous words of my friend Nathan.

The day started out slightly harried, but not too bad. I picked up my rental car late. A bright red Chevy Cavalier with Florida plates on it. Way to go, bimbo, make that first impression sharp! I was running late, so I didn't notice until after I pulled out that my rental car didn't have power windows or power locks. I got quite the bicep workout frantically rolling my window up and down at every tollbooth. It took me half an hour to get out of New York, but once I was on the turnpike, it was easy breezy going. As sick as this may sound, I actually like the NJ Turnpike. It's very minimalistic and sparing. Green flat land all around with just the straight highway shooting through it, and clean geometric shapes cropping out here and there. The white cylinder of the oil refineries. The white puffs of smoke coming from tall grey smokestacks. The straight highway leading into the distance. The flat green on either side. It all seems surreal and like a painting. I really enjoyed the ride. After all, there's nothing better than being alone on the open road, doing 80 down the highway with Red Hot Chili Peppers in your cd player. Just you, alone with the hum of the car, melodies on drugs, and your thoughts. Driving is therapeutic.

I found out within hours of arriving that I'd be working 10 hour days through mid-December. Not bad, I thought. But with further calculation, I realized that it was closer to 12.8 hours per day, to be exact, and that's a conservative estimate. Goodbye social life. Welcome overtime pay. Hello shopping spree. Maybe now that I'm making more money, I can stop working out. I try to exercise purely because I can't afford to buy new business casual pants. But now, I can afford to buy larger pants for my rapidly expanding waistline. I'll make up for it with bicep workouts from rolling my car window up and down. I felt glum at the end of today. Job outlook doesn't look too promising. Manager left after dinner to go -back- to work, and he informed me that he's pulled two all-nighters already on this project. Plus, I'm in boonies-ville. Which means that I'm in danger of boonies-goggles. Which is when you start to look at the farmboy next door with new lustful eyes.

But, I got a cookie on my pillow from my hotel when I checked in today. And that made me very happy.

posted by ink| 10:15 PM |
[Saturday, September 28, 2002]

Sweet Home Alabama.

I watched this chick flick with all the gals tonight. I must say, motherhood has done Reese Witherspoon some good. I never used to think she was a particularly attractive girl, but something about her has changed.

The chick flick. Why is it that the purpose of most chick flicks is to remind single girls how single they are? When movies are targeted for a "female audience", it seems to automatically mean sappiness, and heart wrenching reminders of how wonderful it is to be with a guy. Perhaps a relic of the patriarchal society? For all our advances in equal opportunity, it seems like some things never quite change.

I hate going to chick flicks for that exact reason. It is impossible to leave without feeling like a desperate woman, and with your standards down around your ankles. I'd say that the 12 hour period directly after a chick flick (a 24 hour period if its a "good" chick flick) are the most dangerous. This is the period in which you're likely to settle for someone because of the mood that the movie left you in. This is also the period when you're most likely to make that fateful pathetic call to an old ex, any boy who's already completely rejected you, or that old flame from the past. Its the period in which hope abounds, despite all odds.

What is it about old flames that defies time and keeps hope afloat? Is it the lack of closure? The lack of complete rejection? The potential of the unknown, even after all these years? To this day, I still think of the boy who lived down my street... He moved away when I was 10. I still believe that if he hadn't, we would've been childhood sweethearts. Sometimes I think I merely enjoy entertaining the fantasy in my head. What is it about someone that makes them merely a phase or worthy of fantasy for years? People have phases all the time. You're close to one person or another for a little while, and then drift and lose touch. What is the defining line between being a phase and being worthy of a true relationship? Or, in the case of Sweet Home Alabama, what drew the line between her glam New York boyfriend and her old childhood sweetheart? Was it merely first come first serve? Are we nothing but passing interests, like new toys, to be tossed away when we're done being played with, in favor of another new and novel toy?

I saw the movie with a bunch of girls. A sure recipe for disaster. We all left with the same sort of wistful looks on our faces. They all headed to a bar afterwards. I passed. I knew the routine and I wasn't about to be a part of it. We all knew logically that despite the emotions the movie invoked, it was completely unrealistic. No guy ever waits for a girl for seven years. You'd be hard pressed to make a guy wait 7 months for you. Or even 7 weeks. After all, most of them can't even manage to call within 7 days. So what is the purpose of a chick flick? After all, you're not doing the guys any favors by feeding unrealistic notions into women's heads. My friend R summed it up in one sentence.

"I think the answer to your question is that the producers/creators of such movies are single guys who want to increase their chances of getting some play."

There you go guys. The secret of getting girls: catch them as they're coming out of a chick flick. We're vulnerable as hell.

posted by ink| 3:08 AM |
[Thursday, September 26, 2002]

"True love is the best thing in the world. Except for cough drops. Everybody knows that." -Princess Bride

I've got it. The Late Summer Virus, as my new doctor called it. I came down with it awfully fast. A phone call woke me up two nights ago and I couldn't fall asleep again. That was the beginning. By the time I got to sleep and woke up, I had a little itch in my throat. By the time the nighttime came around, I had a full blown fever and a hacking cough. Never have I felt like such a baby. I burrowed down in my covers and felt sorry for myself. I sent mental psychic messages out to all my friends: "Call me.... call me... because I can't reach the phone but I'm lonely and miserable..." I didn't get anything besides telemarketers. What a waste of my new sexy smoker's voice.

I worked from home today and went to the doctor's. I ran around in the rain getting my prescription drugs and buying soup, because there wasn't anyone (like mom. i miss you mom!) to do it for me. I lugged my groceries home on my own, trying to balance my orange juice (vitamin C!), cans of soup, cough drops, and my umbrella all at once while simultaneously getting the chills and the sweats. Such suffering. But I told myself that it builds character. Even in my misery, the irony wasn't lost on me. I used to loathe those words coming from my dad.

At work, we call it the Santa Maria virus. We spent a day last week volunteering at the Santa Maria elementary school in the Bronx, reading to the children, arranging their library, etc. By the end of this week, 4 of us had come down with some sort of sickness. I pin the blame squarely on the kids. Kids are germy. They have snot all over them, they're always sick, and for God's sake, they make their playground pacts by spitting in their palms and shaking on it.

It's funny how your priorities change when you're sick. Fashion becomes sacrificed for warmth. Milk is avoided like the plague. You're eternally grateful for any sort of human contact after being bedridden. And the cough drops... oh you couldn't tear those things from my dead lifeless hands.

posted by ink| 10:06 PM |
[Tuesday, September 24, 2002]

Arranged Somethings.

I've hit that age.

You know, THAT age. The age where your parents start to look at you with that worried furrow between their brows. The age where your parents' friends start to look at you speculatively and shake their heads. I'm officially "allowed" to date now, my parents informed me (polite golf clap). And they meant literally, NOW. And they didn't mean "date" either, they meant "get married".

It started this past summer, with "Maybe you should try and cook more" and "You know, boys don't like stubborn girls." I ignored them and refrained from mentioning exes I've had behind their back. Since then, my parents have long dropped all pretenses of being subtle. It's a full onslaught. My mother coincidentally invited a medical student she works with to have dinner with us on the very same weekend I'm going to be home for my dad's birthday. "He's a very nice boy", she said. "And I think he's lonely, being far away from home. I know what that feels like, you know. I thought it'd be nice for him to have dinner with us. Maybe you could call him or email him with directions to our house. Only if it's okay with you of course." Then she added meaningfully, "He's a medical student."

That last statement said it all. I was being set up.

I emailed him. Not because I wanted to, but because I was worn down after hours of arguing. Why should I email this guy with directions from my mom's hospital to our home? I don't know where she works, but I'm sure she does. Supposedly, I'm better with directions, outside of the fact that my mom has driven the route from our house to the hospital every single day for the past 4 years. But, like rock with water trickling over it, I eroded and caved in, flying in the face of all my logic. I sent the email. It became the path of least resistance. And I was too tired to resist, too tired to continue navigating through the minefield of my mother's anxieties, as Scott put it.

I had dinner with my dad in New York today. Of course, the subject came up. He hasn't met this medical student of my mom's so he didn't comment on that, but he did have a lot to say on my personal growth. "You're too stubborn, like me. And too independent." My sushi almost fell out of my mouth in disbelief. He didn't want me to be independent? Why the hell have I been working my ass off these past few years getting into a good college and finding a good job? He recanted and restated that I'm too -obviously- stubborn. And he had a plethora of solutions of how I could work on it.

Dad's Guide of How to Get a Guy
Try and pretend, for the boy's sake. This consists of squashing all signs of stubborness and independence until I have him firmly in my clutches. "Boys like it when girls depend on them", my dad said. Apparently, I can spring everything on the boy as a nasty surprise after I have the wedding ring on my finger. The sarcasm wasn't lost on my dad. His reply? "You think your mom would've married me if I burped and farted around the house back then, the way I do now?" Scoreboard: Dad 1. Me 0.

Give everyone a chance. There are no standards. Consider everything an opportunity, he said. Perhaps this medical student will turn out to be hot stuff. Sure. I'm 21 turning 22. What's the big hurry to get me hitched and pregnant? If I get married at 27 or 28, I can find Mr. Right by 24 or 25 and still be on the right track. That leaves me with a few good years. My dad's Zen answer to this was "Life is like playing darts. You always suck the first few times. Sometimes it's better if someone throws the dart for you. Why wait to win later if you can win now?" I want to play darts on my own. And I don't particularly feel like playing quite yet. At least, not for the big stakes. "It's like homework. You should start early." I had no reply to this. He was wrong, I just couldn't think of why. A simple "Well, I don't feel like it!" didn't seem sufficient. So I concentrated on trying to stop my mouth from opening and closing like a fish. Scoreboard: Dad 2. Me 0.

posted by ink| 8:35 PM |


"Changing the world is good for those who want their names in books. But being happy, that is for those who write their names in the lives of others, and hold the hearts of others as the treasure most dear."

[Orson Scott Card]

posted by ink| 12:16 AM |
[Saturday, September 21, 2002]

Instant Recovery, No Withdrawal Symptoms.

My dad called back in response to the message I left on their answering machine. I blubbered to him. All he did was say, "Stop being a baby. How old are you?" I had to meekly reply "21" and clean myself up. Mainly because I agree with him. He relented though and said he'd drive up and have dinner with me on Tuesday. Pyrrhic victory.

Then he proceeded to ask me about my shelves, where I had to grudgingly tell him that I called the maintenance man like he said. That launched into a whole new argument about whether girls are physically capable of putting shelves up.

There's nothing that snaps you out of teary homesickness like a good shouting match with the old man.

posted by ink| 10:16 PM |

The Harsh Facts of Life.

Let's face it. I'm not a happy camper.

I haven't been sleeping well for the past week. My eyes are puffy, my skin has gone to shit, and I'm always tired. Today, I worked myself up into a frenzy of cleaning. I finally got everything else unpacked (having my books finally in my room helped, but didn't quite have the panacea effect I was looking for). I look around and I'm surrounded by my usual familiar things. I'm never quite comfortable until my room is comfortably cluttered. But even though my room is now comfortably cluttered, I don't quite feel comfortable. I buried myself in bills, filing, hole-punching, stapling, sorting, binder-ing.

The receipts are what did me in. I went through the pile, sorting the outdated ones from the pending ones, and ran into receipts from a month ago when I was still in Philadelphia, when I was still at home. Seeing the familiar addresses and stores I used to frequent and my old bank ATM slips sent a wave of sadness through me. Homesickness hit me like a mack truck. I sniffled while telling myself that I was a complete freak to be worked up over receipt slips. I called home and left a message on my parents' answering machine telling them that I missed them and was coming home to visit in a few weekends.

Then I had a good cry. I miss green. I miss my mom's cooking. I miss driving my dad's car. I miss having darkness and stars at night. I miss good fruit. I miss our backyard and my dad's roses. The curve of my mom's side when she's nappin in the afternoon. My dad's belly. My brother showing me his muscles all the time. My brother just started school at MIT. I haven't heard from him, I can only guess that he's having fun. I wonder if boys go through this.

Nathan called me in the middle of all this. He was home, in Kentucky.

There's something about home that cannot be replaced by parties or dates or new IKEA furniture. I never understood homesickness before because I've never been homesick. But now, I have a new grasp of what Dorothy meant when she said "There's no place like home." There's no time like now when I truly feel what she means.

posted by ink| 8:26 PM |

To Do List

Learn to sail.
Trekking in Peru.
Swing dance.
Nepal. Tibet. Iceland. Australia. New Zealand. China. Africa.
See the serengeti, rainforest, jungle.
Costa Rica.
Build a church.
Own an island.

Find out if true love exists.

If so, calculate the chances of experiencing it, taking into consideration randomness and the fact that you or your true love may already be "taken" when you meet, the stupidity of you or your other (a lot of people give things up for silly reasons), the courage of you or the other to own up to it, and finally, the chances of one or the other running frantically away from it all gibbering in fear.

If not, explore the collective delusion of true love and why it happens. Perhaps its like that theory of religion. Where religion is nothing but a human construct, built by humans because we need to believe that there is a purpose to our existence, that there is some great being out there who cares, to give people a reason to live. There are those who argue that religion is necessary to establish moral structure, as a vague ominous threat to those who don't follow society's definitions. That it is nothing different than a more expanded version of "If you don't go to sleep, the monsters will get you." If true love does not exist, why does everyone believe in it? Is it necessary for mankind to go on, to give ourselves hope? A reason to be a good person? Is it nothing more than an imaginary idea formed by our minds so that we can carry on in the loneliness of life? A survival skill of self delusion, no less or more? If a decree came down one day saying definitively that true love does not exist, would mass suicides start to happen? Would people die of despair? After all, what do we live for, but for the people who love us and will love us? When you are gone in the world, in whose minds and hearts do you live on, but in those of people who've loved you, known or unknown?

posted by ink| 4:44 PM |
[Friday, September 20, 2002]

The Blessings of the Father are Visited Upon the Daughter.

Talking to my dad INFURIATES me. He'll argue his point and tell me I'm wrong even before I finish explaining. I want to set up my own bookshelves on the wall. He wants me to pay the maintenance man 10 bucks to do it. Why pay the maintenance man when I can spend 5 bucks on screws and a drill bit and do it myself?

Because. I'll mess it up according to him. I won't do it right. I spent an entire lifetime helping him do work around the house. I'm trained by his own hand and he doesn't trust me. After a screaming match (nothing infuriates me more than having someone assume I'm incompetent), I hung up frustrated. I'm trying to save money. Isn't that what he wants me to do?

The worst part is, even though I'm still convinced that I can do it (bookshelves aren't that hard to set up), now I find myself feeling guilty about going out to buy the screws and drill bit. In fact, not only do I feel guilty, but I feel compelled against my will to call the maintenance man and pay him to do it. What is it about my dad that makes me feel forced to do what he says even when it makes no sense? What is this brainwashing job that my parents did on me? I want to know so I can use it on my own kids.

posted by ink| 6:57 PM |
[Thursday, September 19, 2002]

Will we burn in heaven, like we do down here? -Sarah McLachlan

I walk past the same set of homeless people everyday. Central Park West, right near Columbus Circle is practically homeless-city. There's the old man with the beard and baby carriage of belongings. And the black man with dreds who sings reggae. Everyday during lunch, I head to D&S Deli, and I walk past the same red-skinned man (sunburn?) with a sign saying he has polio.

Today. Today was a gorgeous day out. The sort of day where I'd want to bring a blanket out to Central Park, read Alice in Wonderland alone, and fall asleep under a tree. Beautiful. As I was walking home from the office, I found myself looking at the homeless people enviously as I trooped by in my painful work shoes. As I walked by my regulars though, I saw things that amazed me and silenced my envy all at once.

Polio was sharing his bread with the pigeons. Baby-Carriage was sitting on the same bench, still dirty as always, but today, he was reading the New York Times. The Money and Business section of all things. Reggae was lying on a bench sleeping, with one hand down his pants.

...Whatever makes you happy.

These people are considered the bottom rung of the social ladder. They've hit what you could call rock bottom. And yet, in many ways, each and every one of these men was better than me. I can barely spare a dollar without a sense of guilt. I wince when I pay for my dry cleaning (5 bucks a shirt!). I have cable tv in my apartment that I never watch, a free corporate subscription to Harvard Business Online that I never use. I have roommates with stable jobs. I have a list of errands to run, and money from my paycheck to run them. True, I have no savings to speak of with the rent I pay, but I can afford to have drinks on the weekend.

I have so much more than these people, and yet they can share what little food they have with the birds, use what little money they have to read with interest about the economy we live in, and enjoy beautiful days like this in whatever way they like. Can I truly say that I can do these things with the ease that they do? Instead of giving my extra food to the homeless, I put it into my fridge so I can use it as a meal the next day. I still take absolutely no interest in reading CNN.com, except when I'm bored at work. And instead of enjoying days like this, guilt-free, I was chiding myself for thinking about wasting time in the park when I had to call the cleaning lady, setup my bookshelves, do my laundry, and straighten out the remainder of my financial affairs. And when I did take a step out the door with my blanket and book in hand, I found myself worrying about whether it was safe to fall asleep in Central Park. After all, I am a girl, alone.

I wonder what these homeless people were like as children. Were they as young and full of promise as all of us were? Did they ever imagine they'd end up where they are now? What were they like as young men and women? What made them into a member of the Homeless Club of New York, and me into a member of the Uptight Club of Professional New Yorkers? Where in the development process did they digress from us?

Can you really say that one way of living is better than the other? We're just trapped in prisons of different kinds. What currency do you use to judge the value of a lifestyle? In dollars and cents? Or in how much a life is truly lived.

posted by ink| 5:22 PM |
[Tuesday, September 17, 2002]

Bed Partners. Rowr!

I fall asleep at a rapid rate. I go from yawning to dead asleep in 15 minutes flat. And it's beyond my control. It gets inconvenient when I have things like meetings. Not that I have any since my job, if you can even call it that, currently consists of me sitting around doing nothing and getting paid for it. I'm trying to weigh out the balance between the hefty paycheck and the brain rot I'm suffering. I'm worried that my brain's going to forget how to work.

Today, I got home from the office, ate my leftovers from Ollie's, stuffed my face with Cheerios (a la three-year-old style) and promptly fell into a deep slumber for the next 6 hours. And trust me, I was no sleeping beauty. I slept on top of all the clothes I'd taken off because I originally intended to just "lie down for a minute".

And. I slept with the box of Cheerios clutched tightly to my chest. Good Lord. Some fairy tale princess I'd make.

But this isn't all that uncommon. Due to the pseudo-narcolepsy symptoms I exhibit, Mr. Box-o-Cheerios is only one in a list of strange things that I sleep with inadvertently. My sheets are a history book of what's tramped in and out of my blankets. Ink stains from journal-ing in bed. Highlighter smears from studying (by the way, highlighter doesn't wash out). And lots of dog-eared paperback books that have suffered the misfortune of being my bedmate.

My poor squashed wonderful box of Cheerios. For all you do for me, I don't treat you right. You put up with my embrace (and you're still here the next morning), you never give me grief, and you comfort me without making me fat (that's the beer's job). I'll love you even in your battered state. Good Cheerios...

posted by ink| 1:53 AM |
[Monday, September 16, 2002]

The Real World.

Ever feel like your life is a movie? It's like dejavu. You're doing something, and then suddenly, you get this feeling. It's like you're outside of yourself, watching yourself do whatever you're doing on a screen, and it's the movie of your life.

I got that feeling last night when I was sitting shotgun in my friend J's car. We were driving on the highway after a hard day at IKEA (shopping at IKEA is practically like going to war. They should sell alcoholic beverages at their cafe. I could've used a stiff drink). P. Diddy was trying to rap on the radio, she was talking about her ex-boyfriend, it was 10 pm and raining, the windshield wipers were going back and forth, and I was watching the white lights of wet headlights and blinking reds of brake lights. I felt like we were in a teenybopper maybe-a-cut-above-the-Britney-one coming of age movie.

Both of us have recently moved into new places with strangers. Her into Hoboken, me into Manhattan. We were talking about how things are so different now than they were in college. For a multitude of different reasons that are completely and utterly out of our control. And its all the little things that make all the difference.

We're exhibiting grown-up symptoms.

Finding ourselves actually checking the weather before stepping out of the apartment. Us? Responsible? No way. We do it out of thriftiness. Ever since business casual started burning a hole in my wallet that I'd rather use for things like..... say, a new pair of rollerblades, I've realized that I have to take care of these detestable articles of clothing. If only for the fact that I can't afford to be buying much more of it.
Sitting in J's car and talking about her car payments. What is this? We're no longer cruising around in our parent's cars, no longer packing 8 people into one compact car, no longer sharing the old 1988 with a sibling.
Owning furniture.

But, in juxtaposition, are all these reversion-to-childhood symptoms.

Feeling homesick. I feel like I'm in 4th grade again, going to camp for the first time. I miss our kitchen at home, my dad's vegetable and rose garden in the back, our pool, reading a book on the squashy couch with the panda pillows in the living room. I miss my mom's cooking. The worst part is, I know it's all a fantasy. Realistically, if I went home to visit, I'd end up arguing with my parents and hating it. We argue even when I'm in New York over the phone. So I'm left here just missing the thought of everything.

J thought she wouldn't be lonely when she first moved. After all, she's only moving 15 minutes away from home. And we've all been through college. I promised her she would for the first week. Lo and behold, on day two of her new Hoboken existence, I got a phone call from her. She was feeling "strange". I didn't say "I told you so", mainly because I knew how it was. She got a card from her mom at her new address with just one handwritten sentence on it. "Dear J. Missing you so much. Love, Mom." She showed me the card along with her new place. She was a bit teary, but I didn't laugh like I normally would've. Because I knew if I got the same thing today, I'd tear up too. It's sickening how girly we are in times of transition when under any other circumstance, we'd roll our eyes at our cheesy mothers.

So. I was sitting shotgun in J's car. And it felt like a movie. But perhaps it's because for the first time since I moved, I felt completely content and happy. Talking about life-boys-work-and-everything, driving through the rain with our new IKEA furniture stuffed in the back, and Lauryn Hill telling us to watch out for "that thing", I felt... relaxed. Like perhaps things were quite alright. After all, teenybopper coming-of-age movies always close with some cheesy happy ending.

And, after J dropped me off in front of my building and headed back to Hoboken, I picked up my powerdrill and prepared myself to do some major furniture building. After all, figuratively and literally, I am a girl with powertools. Watch out.

posted by ink| 11:01 AM |
[Sunday, September 15, 2002]

Triumph and Tears.

After 1.5 hours trying to find Best Buy in New York, 2 hours spent in Best Buy trying to pick a router, 5 hours on the phone with LinkSys help, 0.5 hours of sarcastic remarks made towards the LinkSys help people (I wasn't even offered a free router in exchange for my wasted time), and 3 hours of dogged stubbornness afterwards... our apartment DSL is up and running.

There would be a greater sense of achievement if I knew what went wrong for the first 8 hours. Instead, after a myriad of combinations that I tried of powering on and off and pulling plugs, one of them happened to work. I was too relieved to even care what the magic key was. Although my stubbornness is usually perceived as bull-headed by most, I have to say that in this case, it served as perseverance.

But. It's 3 am, and I've given up a Saturday night to set up the network in our apartment instead. -And-, the network works. I'm ecstatic that my sacrifice didn't go to waste. Ecstatic, and beat.

Good night.

posted by ink| 2:55 AM |
[Friday, September 13, 2002]

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens.

One of my favorite passages from one of my favorite books. The mental pictures still make my heart melt just as it did the first time I read it.

   "Oh no," said the little man. "I'm the Whether Man, not the Weather Man, for after all it's more important to know whether there will be weather than what the weather will be." And with that, he released a dozen balloons that sailed off into the sky. "Must see which way the wind is blowing," he said, chuckling over his little joke and watching them disappear in all directions.
   "What kind of place is Expectations?" inquired Milo, unable to see the humor and feeling very doubtful of the little man's sanity.
   "Good question, good question," he exclaimed. "Expectations is the place you must always go to before you get to where you're going. Of course, some people never go beyond Expectations, but my job is to hurry them along whether they like it or not. Now what else can I do for you?" And before Milo could reply, he rushed into the house and reappeared a moment later with a new coat and umbrella.
   "I think I can find my own way," said Milo, not at all sure he could. But, since he didn't understand the little man at all, he decided he might as well move on - at least until he met someone whose sentences didn't always sound as if they would make as much sense backwards as forwards.
   "Splendid, splendid, splendid," exclaimed the Whether Man. "Whether or not you find your own way, you're bound to find some way. If you happen to find my way, please return it, as it was lost years ago." And with that, he opened the umbrella and looked up nervously.
   "I'm glad you made your own decision. I do so hate to make up my mind about anything, whether it's good or bad, up or down, in or out, rain or shine. Expect everything, I always say, and the unexpected never happens. Now please drive carefully; good-by, good-by, good-by, good..." His last good-by was drowned out by an enormous clap of thunder, and as Milo drove down the road in bright sunshine he could see the Whether Man standing in the middle of a fierce cloudburst that seemed to be raining on only him.

[The Phantom Tollbooth]

posted by ink| 2:20 AM |
[Wednesday, September 11, 2002]

Tribute. To my loved ones. And everyone else's.

It's hard being in New York. I can't stand to watch anything on tv. I can't stand to watch any more replays of what happened. I can't stand to hear any more personal stories. I can't stand it anymore. All I want is silence. Silence for an entire day.

I told myself this morning that I'd make it through the day without crying. Twenty-four hours is nothing. But, within five minutes of waking up, my eyes were leaking tears. Z100 was playing that song about kissing a hero. Dammit. I hate crying. Hate it. I find myself yearning for the most trivial things. My old favorite children's books. Y100 in Philadelphia. I find comfort in these familiar things.

I'm not even a New Yorker. I'm a transplant. I can't even feel the loss, I can only imagine it. I've never even come close to true love, but I've really liked a few boys, which doesn't count. I can't imagine finding true love, much less finding it and losing it. And if only imagining it makes me leak tears, I can't imagine what the reality of it must be.

I was thinking about what I would do if something was to happen again today. What are the things I would do? Can I truly say that if I died today, I'd die with no regrets? Have I lived fully, fearlessly, experienced everything, plunged in and drank deeply from the cup of life? Or have I merely skimmed along its surface in fear of dipping in and putting my head under the water?

I'd say that more often than not, I plunge in over my head. Too often. You can envision me as the fat kid at the pool who keeps belly flopping into the deep end over and over again in vain attempts to get it right. .....yup, that's me.

If things were to happen today, I have a good idea of what I'd do. I'd call up anyone I had unfinished business with and settle it. I'd say what I had on my mind and in my heart. I'd call those I hold near and dear and tell them that I hold them so.

And I'd thank my inner circle.

My family. Who put up with all my phases, my temper tantrums. And who had the courage to berate me and say "I told you so" when I needed to hear it.

Ken. Words elude me Kenmore. We fight like cats and dogs at times, but no one quite gets me the same way. Rock-Steady-Ken. Thank you. For the brownies, hundreds of burned CD's, telling me the harsh and ugly as well as the beautiful truths. And most of all, for your courage in being the friend to me that you have been. I know I'm difficult. And moody. And talk too much.

Dana and Winnie. I forget both your birthdays every year without fail. But likewise without fail, you're always in my heart and mind. I love you guys.

Today, I choose to appreciate the fact that I'm alive. And I salute those who have lost loved ones in the past year, because I know I wouldn't have the spine to carry on as they have.

I admire you.

posted by ink| 10:02 AM |
[Monday, September 09, 2002]

Revelations from Errands.

It's funny how much things have changed since I've moved out. To be honest, living on your own isn't half of what it's cracked up to be. The things I enjoy have completely changed, the way I think has completely changed, and the things I want have completely changed.

The errands I ran, or tried to run, yesterday, said it all.

[Things I do Now that I Never Used To]
Enjoy going to the grocery store: I actually like going to the grocery store. This is something I never thought I'd say. I was the anti-domestic girl prior to moving out. Now, going to the grocery store is almost equivalent to shopping. Having a new quart of orange juice in my fridge gives me the same sense of excitement that buying a new shirt from Club Monaco does. I browse through the dairy section with the same intentness that I give to browsing shoes. And most of all, instead of shopping for snacks and goodies and paying whatever it cost like I did in college, now I gauge everything based on how many meals I can get out of it. Box of tortellini: $4.79. Meals: at least 2. Nutrition: almost none. But I try to compensate by getting beef tortellini and putting veggie sauce on top.

Looking at CookBooks: Once again, a deviation from the anti-domestic mentality I had before. But I've realized that if I want to eat good food (and I'm a huge fan of food. Diets would never work for me), I'm going to have to buckle down and do something about it. A trip to Barnes and Nobles is no longer limited to browsing the fiction section.

[What I Now Wish For]
An old-lady shopping cart. Yup, you heard me right. At this time last year, I would've wanted an MP3 player. Or a new pair of boots. You know, things I want but can't afford. Now, it's all about the shopping cart. It costs 4 dollars for delivery. I could buy string cheese with that four bucks! Lugging my groceries 6 blocks from Food Emporium may seem like small beans, but it took me 20 long minutes to trek that distance last night. I knew I was crossing into new territory when I caught myself being envious of the homeless guy on the corner because he had a shopping cart.

A manual on how to buy meat. I have no idea what all those things are. What the hell is eye of round vs. flank? I know that it comes from different parts of the cow, but how does that affect me as the end consumer? Do they taste different? What about pork vs. beef? Am I supposed to cook them differently? I thought briefly about asking someone, but wimped out. I bought the cheapest kind.

An on-call handyman. Nothing is more intimidating than going into a hardware store alone as a girl. You do your best to square your shoulders and browse the nails and screws aisle like you know what you're looking for. The fatherly guy at the cashier booms down, "Just get your boyfriend to do it shortie!" Instead of responding, I asked him how to fix my powerdrill. And how to fix my full length mirror to my bathroom door so it won't swing out. And how to stop my bed from sliding around when I lean against the wall. And what kind of screws to use for our papertowel dispenser.

I have never been so appreciative of my parents before. My mother for cooking (something I took WAY too lightly until I had to do it myself), and my dad for always knowing how to fix everything. I'm thankful that he took me to the hardware store with him all the time since I was a little kid, so I wasn't a complete imbecile yesterday at Gracious Homes. But I felt idiotic enough to sorely miss his presence.

My blunders have changed too. In college, I used to arrive at class and find my fly down. Now, I arrive at work and find that my skirt rotated while I walked and is now back to front. I used to scribble my number down on a napkin and worry about charging too much shopping to my credit card. Now, I have a business card to hand out and the greatest charges on my credit card are furniture, transportation, and food.

I feel like I'm teetering dangerously on the edge of kid-ness, looking down into the chasm of adult-hood.

posted by ink| 11:21 AM |
[Sunday, September 08, 2002]

How much for that soul in the window?

I joined an online book club over the weekend. Our first assignment is Light in August, by William Faulkner, due in 4 weeks. Jaunty and motivated since its my first assignment, I set off to Barnes and Nobles yesterday to buy the book. As soon as I stepped in the door, I was assaulted by images of September 11th. A huge display was in the front foyer. By reflex, I turned away from it, much like how two magnets of similar polarity repel each other, and headed to the magazine section. Only to run into it again. There were a million Sept. 11 anniversary special edition issues. Sept 11 calendars, books, photo journals, etc. I couldn't believe it. How can a city who's been so affected by this event, be so blatantly in-your-face about it, only one year later? So casually blase and commercial? Displaying it like its just another Oprah's Book Club special?

I wasn't in the city when it happened. I was an hour and a half away in Philadelphia. But, a summer spent interning in New York in 2000 had been enough to make me feel strong bonds to New York. Strong enough that when the terrorist strikes happened, it sent me spiralling into a 2 month long funk, down in Philadelphia where I was. I couldn't bear to watch the news, because everytime they played the same familiar images, I'd still tear up. And I hate crying. Soon, I limited myself to magazines. I went into this obsessive buying spree, where I'd purchase every magazine that had Sept. 11 on the cover, and I'd force myself to read every article, every personal story, to make it hurt as much as possible, because maybe then - I could get used to it, become numb to it, and not hurt anymore.

It didn't work. All I ended up with was a messy room. And a lot of magazines with soggy pages.

The obsessive buying stopped early this year. And I started to come out of my funk. I simply stopped thinking about it. I teared up a little when I saw the memorial at Penn Station in August. But I avoided all references to it like the plague. But now, the sheer commercialization of Sept. 11 makes me feel completely incredulous. Is there no sensitivity to the people who've lost loved ones in the tragedy? Can they walk anywhere during this period of time without being constantly reminded of their loss? Without realizing that what happened to them costs $3.99 according to the newsstand Special Edition U.S. News, $24.99 if they want the "spectacular photo images captured by Joe Shmoe photographer during the crucial hours". As if they'd need anything more than the mental images burned into our brains by CNN. Has it become just another display for spectators to gawk at in the circus of life?

Part of me can't decide whether this show of blatant capitalism is a sign of health, or of rottenness at the core. Sure, it shows resiliency. Look, you can knock down our buildings and kill our families, but we will still continue to make money off of even that! Life goes on as if nothing happened. Thumb our noses at you, Osama! Sure, it shows health. It shows healing that Sept. 11 has become another special at Barnes and Nobles. Like a healed over scar that you barely notice any more than your other bumps and bruises. It will go on the bargain rack soon in a few months, treated no differently than the other books. That in of itself holds some comfort. But lurking behind it is a strange blend of discomfort. Can you really put a price on a tragedy like that? I wonder if the publishers feel slightly uncomfortable marking down a 9/11 book and putting it in the bargain bin. Would that be equivalent to cheapening the event? It feels almost disrespectful. But, as before, a definite sign of healing. Like getting over a bad breakup, after a while, you stop dwelling on it and treat it as just another speedbump in the road of life. I can't help but wonder though, whether we've taken it too far. The book written by the wife of the "Let's Roll" guy is hidden among a zillion other books written by other authors. Is our culture so capitalistic that we end up trivializing things in the effort to make more money? But, at the same time, can you really say that books and articles and artwork inspired by the tragedy shouldn't be shared in the commercial realm? And if you're going to share it, must it be with an loud overwhelming display in the foyer of your store?

Where do you draw the line between obnoxious capitalism and respectful recognition?

The only magazine I could bring myself to buy was Time Out. Instead of focusing on yet another picture of the Twin Towers, whole or destroyed, they decided to focus on daisies growing in the sidewalk. I have to admit, I'm biased because I find personal connection with such an image. My dad used to take me around our rose garden in my awkward adolescent years and tell me that although roses are beautiful and admired by all, I shouldn't care if I don't grow up to be a rose. Because roses are delicate and are easily destroyed by a change in soil pH or a bad season. He said that he respects weeds like the dandelion because it grows and thrives in the harshest conditions. It grows between cracks in the pavement and keeps bobbing its happy yellow head regardless of public opinion. He said he'd be infinitely prouder of me if I grew up to be a dandelion than a rose. I don't think my dad even realizes that I still think about what he told me that summer when I was 14.

In my mind, that cover image of urban daisies captures New York better than any other image could've. That image spoke to me. Because one year after the fact, the focus shouldn't be on the horror anymore. We're never going to forget the horror. It should be about surviving.

posted by ink| 1:38 PM |
[Friday, September 06, 2002]

Beer Goggles.

So. Last night was the supposed "wild night" since it was our last night in training. I have to say, the New York office did pretty well for itself in the hook-up department. Lots of winners. Yours truly, however, ended up skidding out of the race. I started off with an open mind and a couple of potential targets. By the end of the night, I'd narrowed it down to one.

Under most normal circumstances, the more you drink, the more attractive ugly people start to look. For some bizarre reason, last night, the more I drank, the more unattractive this guy started to look. By the end of the night, I was seriously reconsidering (as seriously as I possibly could in the drunken state I was in) whether I even wanted to still be in the running for the race.

It all came down to the little minutiae of life that make the biggest difference. As we got back to our dorms (still very drunk, and at 4:30 am no less) and got into the elevator together, I realized that there were two other boys from our training group also in the elevator. That became the deciding factor that pushed me over the line. In the 5 seconds it took to get from the first floor to the girls' dorm floor (imagine that, they split us into same-sex floors), I decided that there was no way I could bring him back to my room with these two boys in the elevator to witness him getting off on the girls' floor with me. I have a discreet rule. As the elevator doors opened on my floor, I untangled my hand from his, said an awkward rushed "see you later" and high-tailed it to my room. In a nutshell, I wimped out. And gladly so.

I blame it on the reverse-beer-goggles I seemed to have on that night, especially since he looked perfectly fine the next morning, if a bit stiff when he said hello to me. Or, perhaps its something as simple as the fact that wild-girl-style isn't right for me. Perhaps, despite all my liberal education, I'm more conservative than I thought. Maybe my parents, who couldn't seem to do anything right considering how dysfunctional my brother and I are, managed to successfully instill some of their straight and narrow values into me. Figures, of all things they'd be successful at doing to us, it'd be something as inconvenient as this.

Or perhaps, its something as simple as the fact that despite all his good looks, slick words, and height, I wasn't attracted to him. Maybe this last one is it. Especially since I found myself on the plane thinking instead of the balding red-head beanpole boy who sat across from me during training class. He was funny. And had the nicest blue eyes.

posted by ink| 10:26 PM |

Au revoir, amigos.

I leave training today to go back to New York. Once again, I'm saying goodbye to a group of people, 90% of whom I will most likely never see again. Life seems to be filled with a bunch of hello and goodbyes. People come and go, nothing but a fleeting temporary presence in your life. After all, how many people can you truly say have been a constant presence in your life besides your family? The entire world is like a buffet. People try a little of this person and that person and then move on, drift away, and lose touch. I, likewise, do the same. For that is the way of things. Like a rock skipping across the water, most people touch down briefly onto the runway of your life and then hop away to disappear under the surface.

As I look around this last morning at the nine people on my team with whom I've spent the past two weeks with, 11 hours a day for work, and the rest of the 13 hours left in the day for some pretty hard partying, it's odd to think that these people will most likely disappear out of my life without a trace. But, I find comfort in a brief conversation I had with my teammate Alberto (from Milan!) before I left.

"So, are Italian girls different from American girls?"
".... Neh, girls are the same all over the world."

People are the same all over the world.

posted by ink| 11:51 AM |
[Wednesday, September 04, 2002]


"We fail to learn because we do not reflect on what we've done." -David Kolb

posted by ink| 8:43 AM |
[Monday, September 02, 2002]

Anatomy of a Bad Morning

  • Woke up late.
  • Slammed finger in door.
  • Rash from expensive face wash purchased yesterday.
  • Dropped contact ....somewhere.
  • Working on Labor Day.
  • Got chocolate chip smear on shirt from chocolate chip muffin.

posted by ink| 10:15 AM |
[Sunday, September 01, 2002]

Weekend in the City of Chicago. Magnificent Mile. John Hancock Building. Good food and relatives.

"I can't eat anymore Auntie, really."
"Oh come come, you've only had a little bit."
"No! You're gonna make me fat! Look, I already have rolls on my belly."
"Those aren't rolls, that's just extra skin."

I love my aunt =).

posted by ink| 11:16 PM |

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