(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
:: by Isaac Asimov
:: by Barbara Kingsolver
(x)Man from Mundania
:: by Piers Anthony
:: by Isaac Asimov
(x)Daughter of Fortune
:: by Isabel Allende
(x)Foundation and Empire
:: by Asimov
:: 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
:: by Ann Patchett
:: by Margaret Weis
(x)Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress
:: by Dai Sijie
05.14.03 We're wireless!!
11.21.02 Blog moved from Tripod to BlogSpot. Three cheers for Verizon webspace!
9.24.02 Archives moved to main page.
9.07.02 Internet access available at new apt.!
4.14.02 Due to popular
the comments section
has been re-instated.
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."
[Wednesday, April 30, 2003]
[email to friend]
Brand Spanking is so cheery it drives me nuts. He announced that he doesn't mind staying here for 5 days. He also announced that he'd rather go to an "educational" meeting than the "new analyst social" that conflicts directly with it. Good grief. At our weekly status meetings, it's always "Brand Spanking resolved X number of problems this week!!!" Then a pause. "Nine is still working on documentation." Great. I'm trying to figure out if I was this annoying back when I was new. In a nutshell, I suck. And my consultant apparently knows it. I get regular emails entitled "professional advice." So far I've been criticized for:
1) yawning at a meeting.
2) my away message. i was in a hurry and slapped up the "Playing Game" default away message by mistake (I am not available because I am playing a computer game that takes up the whole screen). I was told that there wouldn't be any formal documentation written up about it "this time".
3) being 2 minutes late to a meeting because I had a bathroom emergency
4) coming in at 8:30 AM instead of 8 AM. The client doesn't get here till 9 AM. He swings by to check on me.
5) leaving at 6 pm instead of 7:30 or 8 pm. The client leaves promptly at 4:30 pm. He swings by again, to check on me.
6) asking for time off for a family vacation end of May. he said we might have to "compromise" and have me join my family mid-week. The client already told me that things will probably be slow at that time and to go ahead. He said "we don't know how hectic things will get at that time". Meanwhile, my dad is sweating because the longer we wait, the more expensive the plane tickets get.
Yesterday, I wondered whether it would be too smart-ass to put up an away message of "I am NOT playing a computer game that takes up the whole screen. I am merely not available." But I decided that I shouldn't since I still haven't gotten my vacation yet.
Everyday is a new surprise. I wake up in the morning and can't wait to get to work to see what I'll be criticized for today!
p.s. I get my one-month performance review in a few days. I'm so excited for it I can barely stand it!
I learned a lot of things in LA this weekend. I learned that coolness is all in the eyes of the beholder. I learned that I like Newcastle. I learned that I could drink a surprisingly large number of "half-yards" of beer without puking. I learned through the resulting conversations what a Dirty Sanchez was ("I'd never really do that though. Why would I want to put my finger in that?" "Well, why would you want to put your penis in it then?" "...") Why is it that alcohol plus mixed-gender company always results in talk about sex? I learned how to crack a crab to eat it. I tasted raw oysters for the first time.
But the largest lesson, I learned after the vacation was over. Due to a glitch in planning between myself and my firm's intentions, I had booked my flights from New York. Two weeks after I paid for them, I was shipped to North Carolina. Figures. This means that I had to haul myself from JFK, where my flight from LA landed, to LGA, where my flight to NC was leaving from. As I sat in LGA waiting for boarding time, it dawned upon me.
The spectre of going back to work had suddenly loomed up, and instead of wanting to face it down with gritted teeth and intrepidness, I wanted to cry. The thought of going back to work is never pleasing after a vacation, but it wasn't just a reluctance to go back to work, it was downright despair at the thought of it. And cry I did. It was like I'd suddenly hit a brick wall. I leaked tears and dialed my best friend, Kenmore, who I hadn't talked to in weeks. We'd drifted a bit in the past months, but he's still the one I call when get upset. There's something about his line of reasoning that never fails to comfort me. The dry humor that makes its point. And makes me laugh. But it didn't work this time.
I had suddenly realized that there was nothing in my life that had any sort of redeeming qualities. I didn't have a boyfriend because I'm traveling all the time and don't have the energy to work on relationships (it's not because there's anything wrong with -me- of course). I didn't have any friends because I'm never in New York for long enough to catch up with bills, much less people. I didn't have any hobbies because I get home from work so late that it's impossible to do anything worthwhile. And the paycheck? I haven't seen a bit of it because it all goes to rent and paying for these damn business casual clothes that quite frankly, I wouldn't be caught dead in on a normal basis. The only toy I've bought for myself was a new digital camera. And this was 10 months after I started working. I bought it with great guilt on my mind.
I snufflled quietly and leaked tears because I hadn't realized how unhappy I was. Unhappy, after all, is a relative state. And when you've been unhappy for such a long period of time, it's easy to stop feeling bad about it, because it's become the norm and you've forgotten what it felt like to -be- happy. It must be a survival skill that humans come standard with. Otherwise, us corporate hacks would hurl ourselves off of cliffs at an alarming rate like Lemmings. This past weekend was wonderful. I remembered what it felt like to have friends again. To wake up in the morning, look in the mirror and LIKE myself. To look forward to the day. To have friends. To just be... happy. Truly happy.
And I sat at the gate thinking about North Carolina and how I have to spend 8 hours a day being fake and peppy, which leaves me completely drained and cheats my friends of peppiness when I'm back in New York. It's like I have a standard quota of it and it gets all used up during the workday. I thought about living out of a suitcase and how much I've come to hate airplanes. Whose bright idea was it to combine business travelers going from New York to NC with vacationers going from New York to the Grand Cayman Islands via NC? I thought about how I think about quitting everyday. How I have a feeling I'm going to get myself fired at this rate. How I'm not sure if I would care. I thought about what I would do if I quit. How I can't quit unless I have another job lined up. The rent. My student loans. This economy isn't exactly optimum for "finding yourself" in. I thought about what kind of job I wanted. Not really sure. I thought about how under most normal circumstances, if I was interested in journalism or science, I could take a night class and test the waters to see if it was something that I really wanted to do before making a career change. But the number of hours I work per week makes it impossible for me to take any sort of night classes. I was trapped. Effectively strait-jacketed.
I wanted to get out. But the nature of the job itself had made it impossible for me to get out. How am I even supposed to interview at other places when I'm not in New York for the weekdays? I wished I had a passion or a talent that I was so good at that I could have the confidence to give up everything to do it. But at best, I'm average to above average at most things. Kenmore pointed out that most people are average at everything. Small comfort.
I thought about my conversation with Yelofngr this past weekend. I hadn't seen him in years. But things hadn't changed much. I thought about how vehemently and thoroughly I had argued for my chosen path of going to law school. And rewarding myself with 3 months of backpacking in Oz if I got in. I thought about the straight flow of logic I'd laid out before him as to why this was the best choice. I thought about how really, I was only proving my point so cohesively for myself. Because I needed to believe it. I thought about how good I am at convincing myself of things, how wonderfully I can construct paper castles for myself.
I thought about how everything had collapsed. And how trapped I felt by my supposedly shiny new job straight from college. It's never the problems themselves that worry me. It's only when it seems like there's no directions to head in, that there's no plausible solutions that you start to despair.
And Kenmore couldn't say anything. Because he himself is headed in the same direction, and he himself is trying to desperately avoid the train wreck that I'm in. "I don't think I'm qualified to give advice. Because I think you're me in three months."
By the time my flight landed in NC, I had recovered. I wasn't half as upset anymore. I'd accepted my fate with grimness and resignation. I'd rebuilt my paper castle after it'd temporarily collapsed. I'd buried myself in Asimov's Foundation and shoved all the thoughts to the back of my mind and smothered them. And somewhere inside, I both cursed and blessed this survival tactic. It promotes apathy and inertia and leaves us trapped. That's how the disgruntled middle-management is made. But it keeps us sane at the same time. Otherwise we'd go berserk and lose ourselves to despair. Lemmings. Dropping off a cliff.
posted by ink|
10:28 PM |
[Thursday, April 24, 2003]
Who said the South was laid back?
I was reprimanded last week for yawning in a meeting.
This week, I was reprimanded for having the wrong away message up.
"I am not available because I am playing a computer game that takes up the whole screen."
I came back from my meeting and had a message waiting for me from my consultant. "Please remove your away message. I realize you're trying to be facetious but we have to make good impressions here." I couldn't believe it. "Playing game" sits right below "Default away message" on my AOL Instant Messenger. I was in a hurry to make it on time to a meeting. I must've mis-clicked. It's -obviously- a mistake. "Well, the first 2 weeks are freebies. I won't write up formal documentation on it." That was when I snapped. I told him that even if there was formal documentation on it, I wanted to make it clear that it was an honest mistake.
But he hates me. He hates me because I put pressure on him. When he said he wasn't sure about whether I could take vacation the last week of May, I told him that I'd hate to put my family as second priority to my job, especially since it's precisely -because- of my job that I travel so much and never get to see them. And he hates me because I asked him why I need to come in at 8 AM when no one else gets here till 9 AM. I can't do any work without the client anyways. I'm not sure what he expects me to do in that time. Am I supposed to charge the client for thumb-twiddling time? "We need to make a good impression. I'd like to break away from their schedule and set a standard for them to meet." I have a feeling it'll just make them hate us.
Every day, it's a little "professional advice" here or there. Every day, I get slapped on the wrist for something. If I could make it through one day without being criticized, maybe I wouldn't entertain fantasies of hurling my computer monitor over the cubicle wall with all my strength. Whee!!! And then calling out "Who did I hit? How far did it get?"
What is blogging but the lunatic rantings of a mind insane enough to believe that people give a shit about the crap that's spilling out of your brain? What is a blog but the sign of an ego large enough to think that what it says matters, that its thoughts would be interesting to anyone else but itself. What is a blog but a newsletter starring oneself. A physical manifestation of an ego stroke. Every time you want to tell yourself how great you are, you can look at your blog.
I used to wonder why I blogged. I'm still not sure. I am sure that it's not because I think I'm so great. Half the time I think it's drivel and I ponder deleting an entry. Other times I re-read and think "Hey, this is somewhat enjoyable." Other times, I read it and am embarassed. Jesus Christ, what a psycho. Then I ponder ending it all. It's better to be a secret psycho than a public one. I used to think it was about organizing my thoughts. Writing forces you to straighten things out in your own mind so you can present it in nice neat little rows. But recently, I've lost the capacity to present things neatly. Thoughts spill out like verbal diarrhea onto the page with no cohesion or logical train of thought. A meandering path with no purpose. What the hell.
Now I think I blog because it gives me a false sense of being published. And along with the sense of being published comes all the confusion. Just as an author may be embarassed by a certain terrible article he wrote for the sake of earning a penny to pay the bills, I am embarassed sometimes by the inane drivel that spouts from my mind. Just as everyone else may love that terrible article, in the heart of the author, he hates it. Because he thinks it's terrible. Sometimes I hate it.
I used to not understand River Cuomo from Weezer. I love Pinkerton. I think it's the best album ever. I hear that he refuses to play many songs from that album at any concert. Because he hates that album. But now I think I understand. Because when it comes down to it, everything you create, whether idly or passionately, is a reflection of yourself. And no matter how many people say you look fabulous in that dress, if you look at that reflection and think you look like crap, you're going to feel like crap. I say this not because I'm fishing for sympathy, but because I truly believe it. Sometimes.
Feeling cute is half of being cute. And that goes for more than just writing.
posted by ink|
11:17 PM |
[Sunday, April 20, 2003]
Old friends. Love 'em.
I saw BABAE J. yesterday and suddenly realized how much I missed her. Somewhere during all this thinking and deep-down digging I've been doing, I came up for air and realized that I was drifting, lost in my own thoughts. And I suddenly missed my mom and dad like crazy. And my best friend Kenmore. As well as BABAE J. I thought about college and how much fun it was. How I thought I was miserable. Maybe this will all turn out to be similar. Perhaps I'm having tons and fun and don't even realize it.
After all, it's not like I'm going through this alone. BABAE J. worries about the same shallowness that I seem to be afflicted with. Perhaps we're just not adventure gals. Kenmore is trapped in his own hell as he graduates this year and starts his own reluctant descent into corporate America at JPMorgan. And H. H just quit her elite firm to work for non-profits. Of course, just like how H2's parents are supportive of her going to Thailand, H's parents are currently supporting her rent as she "finds herself." I'm starting to see a direct correlation between supportive parents and people having the freedom to find themselves.
Why am I so concerned with meeting new people when I have a perfectly great set of friends? Teflon invited me to go to Miami for vacation in June. Lux wants to go camping in June. Get all anti-corporate and not shower for 3 days straight, yeah! And my high school friend JL2 still calls everyweek to see if I want to go rollerblading, even though I've said no to him for the past 3 weeks straight. He rocks for still thinking I'm cool. Perhaps I should just suck it up. It's not like I really have all that much to really complain about. There are times when you're so concerned with looking towards the future and what's "best" for you that you don't enjoy the present.
My new New Year's resolution is to be a hedonist.
posted by ink|
11:13 AM |
[Saturday, April 19, 2003]
BABAE J., our third college roommate H., our friend H2, and I met up today to watch Better Luck Tomorrow. We hadn't gotten together as a foursome since ew were in college together. Interesting movie. Don't quite get the title. But if it means what I think it means, I'm not sure if it's fitting. A bit too light for the heavy material in the movie. Overall, I'm not sure what to make of it. It seems like it wasn't sure what it wanted to be: a coming of age story a la John Cusack or Reservoir Dogs, a funny light movie or a heavy one. The movie couldn't make up its mind and flipflopped between funny scenes and drastically serious ones. Or, to be more accurate, it seems like it lost its focus midway through. Its purpose seemed to be to prove how even a seemingly ideal life can be stifling. How it can drive people to do rash things just to feel like they have control over their lives. How the motivation to succeed may be driven by other motives besides benificent ones. As the movie aptly stated, "As long as we were at study group, our parents didn't care if we were out till 4 AM. And as long as we kept getting the grades, they never questioned us." How often have I used that? Too often. The better I did in school, the more my parents left me alone. I could relate all too well. But the theme of breaking-the-cycle and the monotony of day-in and day-out expectations and performance seemed to lose its place to special effects and violent scenes as the movie went on. It's like the movie lost its train of thought and suddenly veered off on a tangent. I'm not sure what the value of the ending was or how it was relevant to the plot. In fact, I felt that it was evident that the movie had a dominant male hand in there. I could easily picture the guys in the cutting room looking at edits and saying "Whoa! That scene looks sick!!" "But it's irrelevant to the plot." "Who cares? It's cool!" And they're absolutely right. The scenes -were- cool. I was impressed by the camera angles and such. It looked like they were reveling in the moment of technical effects. But it still didn't quite fit into the picture. If this was meant to be a coming-of-age story, it's a pretty twisted one. And not exactly one to be light-hearted about.
However, I do appreciate the fact that it breaks the Amy Tan mold of Asian America. Joy Luck Club made me cry when I first watched it, and it still makes me cry. But the fact remains that Asian America is so much more than what Amy Tan presents. Better Luck Tomorrow in that sense made its point. That we're not really all that different. Same sorts of problems that all teenagers face. The movie had mass appeal. Anyone of any race could identify. I appreciated the fact that it was an film that featured Asian Americans but wasn't about "being Asian American in America." How many times has -that- horse been beaten?
After the movie, H. left, leaving BABAE J., H2, and I to have coffee. We discussed our lives. H2 got a fellowship to go to Thailand for a year. She's taking off in late May. BABAE J. and I both were envious. She's getting to do such cool things. But even as we were envious, we knew we were needlessly envious. Even though we would like to do such things, we'd never have the courage to do them. Everyone has two paths to take in their lives. The high-risk path and the low-risk path. H2 was going for the high-risk path. BABAE J. and I are low-risk type of people. As we listened to H2 talk, I realized that she had courage and passion. She was willing to give it all up on the off-chance that this could be her life calling. She was leaving behind her family, her friends, and a loving boyfriend.
Talking to H2 always makes me wonder what the hell I'm doing with my life. I want to -be- her. She's the sort of person I wish I was. But as I thought more about it, I realized that I wasn't sure if it was possible for me to be like her. It boils down to different priorities. I'm too shallow. I used to beat myself up about the fact that I didn't have the courage to take chances and just fly off on a jet plane to foreign countries. I used to call myself a coward because I would daydream about it, but not do anything. Walk the walk, bitch, don't just talk the talk. But I'm starting to realize that just as the blonde booby girls in high school were a completely different breed of girl than I was, H2 is a completely breed of girl as well. And just as I could never be blonde and booby, I'm not sure if I can ever be like H2, no matter how much I yearn to be. The fact is, I'm shallow and materialistic. And she isn't. If I worked her socially conscious job in New York, I wouldn't be able to take a vacation to LA next weekend. I wouldn't be able to live in Manhattan near Central Park. I wouldn't be able to buy nice shoes. Are these things really -that- important to me? I'm not sure. But I do know that I like having the capability to have the things I like. Perhaps I -am- just shallow.
Perhaps it's because she's known since she was in high school what she wanted to do. Maybe if I had an idea of what I wanted to do, instead of merely knowing what I -don't- want to do, I'd have that sort of passion and drive as well. After all, it's hard to have passion and drive for.... something that you haven't identified yet. Maybe it boils down to the simple fact that I've realized that I'm probably not going to find satisfaction in a job. My life outside of my job means that much more to me. Maybe because all my mentors tell me that in the future, no matter how much I love that job, the job's going to be supplanted by things like kids and a family in my list of "things I love". And in that sense, wouldn't it be more practical to work towards a high-paying 9 to 5 job in anticipation of the job being topped in my list of priorities? And at the end of the day, a job is still just a job. Something you can't take with you when you die. So is it really worth stressing over finding a perfect fit?
I've spoken to a lot of people about this journey. I've talked to my parents, my friends, my co-workers, my stylist, people I meet in bars. I've talked to people from all walks of life, of all ages, hoping that maybe by hearing their thoughts on things, their experiences, their take on why they chose the paths they did, I could gain some insight on what I should do with my life. Research, I suppose you could call it. There are trends that exist, trends delineated by age. Everyone young thinks it's super important to find a job that you love and enjoy. Everyone older thinks its super important to find a job that minimizes the amount of time you spend at work and maximizes the salary. Two very different takes. I've decided that it boils down to priorities. When you're young, you really don't have much in your life besides your job and your friends. So obviously, finding a job you like is going to loom larger in your mind than anything else. When you're older, you've got other priorities - family. And then the job only becomes a hindrance to the amount of time you can spend with the people you love, and the job becomes a means to an end.
Practically speaking, the older people have it right. And I am a practical person. But I can't help but feel like it's selling out. I can't help but feel like H2 has the right idea. I can't help but wish that I had that sort of personality. But the fact is, I don't. I don't think I got the passion. When choosing between having a certain lifestyle and having job satisfaction, I hesitate and vacillate. H2 wouldn't. When I think about traveling for a little while, I start to get the guilt feeling. H2 doesn't. My parents would add onto the guilt feeling. "I didn't sacrifice years of vacations for your Ivy League education just so that -you- could take a year-long vacation in Asia."
I have the sneaky suspicion that H2 is going to make more out of her life than I will out of mine. I have the sneaky suspicion that I'm going to end up just like my parents. Upper middle class, vaguely discontent, 2.5 children, 1 dog, and 2.3 Lexuses in the driveway. My husband will come home, loosen his tie, and read the paper. I will drive the kids to soccer. I'll turn into my own nightmare and somehow not realize it because I've been brainwashed. Despite that, I also have the sneaky suspicion that even if I was to do what H2 was doing, I'd still be vaguely unhappy. Because it's just not me. It takes a certain type of person to be successful in that type of life. And I don't think I'm the right type.
I like to know things. I like certainty. When I was little, I used to make my dad fast forward to the ends of movies/cartoons before I'd watch it from the beginning. Because otherwise I'd get too anxious wondering what was going to happen. My dad would oblige, because the last thing he wanted was an anxious 6 year old on his hands. I'm not sure if my personality is suited for taking off on wild open-ended escapades. What it is suited for are wild escapades with endings. Like going backpacking in Australia for a few months if I get into grad school. Like going skydiving with Lux this summer. Like wanting to go spelunking in Belize for vacation instead of lying on a beach. I'm cautious. But I can't squash the bug for wildness. I'm the race-car driver that wears a seatbelt. I'm the motorcycle rider who wears a helmet.
And we all know that guys who ride motorcycles without helmets are hot. I suppose this makes me not-hot by my own standards. But I think deep inside, I already knew that. I'm not sure if I like myself. All paths of logic point to me being rather staid and boring, safe, depressingly practical, and rather unexciting. But just like I can't change the shape of my nose or the size of my boobs, I can't change my personality. I have a feeling that as much as I hate it, I'll have to accept this as part of who I am, and work with it instead of wishing I was someone different. Perhaps I'll compensate for my "playing it safe" career by having a wildly exciting after-work life. After all, going spelunking in Belize is going to cost a chunk of change. And chunks of change are going to have to make it to my bank account somehow.
That's the only thing keeping me sane right now in my job. I was reprimanded last week for yawning in a meeting. My consultant told me that he's only reprimanding me because he's "concerned about my career." I was thrilled that he was concerned with it because I sure as hell am not. But I keep going because I put the paycheck into my account and save towards a plane ticket to Australia plus any backpacking equipment I may have to buy. I've promised myself that if I get into grad school next fall, I'm going to quit next April and go traveling for three months in the summer. It will be my reward. And I'll feel justified in going because I'll have a post-traveling plan in place already. My parents won't be able to say a thing. All I have left is to convince one of my friends to quit their job and come with me.
I wish I wasn't so lost.
posted by ink|
11:19 PM |
[Friday, April 18, 2003]
Tired. But feel like writing. 8 am train tomorrow to meet with Lux. Necessary things to take care of. Too many to-do's. Why. Overall tired. Of everything. Worn out. Physically. And emotionally. Tired of trying. Hanging on. Hoping the next curve will bring fairer weather. Forecast is cloudy. Tired. Just tired. No more energy left to hang on. Giving up on things ever changing. Perhaps it's time to find a new road. With new comrades. Investment bad. Need to bail out before crashing and burning.
Lux and I. Boys. Bad news boys. We need to get out of the flaming car. Out. No loitering. But we hang around like feckless teenagers, flouting our personal set of laws. The flames beckon us to go and play. Enticing. Flirting with the danger of getting burned. Badly. Fire! Fire! We try to stay away but are enchanted by the flicker in and out of the flames, into and out of our lives, dancing at the edge of our vision, teasing, luring. We know better but our eyes can't help but follow, even as we drag our feet reluctantly. Reluctant. We are reluctant players in a game where we can't figure out the rules. A dangerous game. With high stakes. Every child is raised with the knowledge that fire is danger. But isn't that the lure of it. The knowledge that it's dangerous. The fear and the accompanying attraction.
They're like cigarettes. You want to smoke them even as you know that it's bad for you.
We squeeze our eyes shut to shut them out, to stop ourselves. But closing our eyes to shut out the mesmerizing flame doesn't work, as even without sight, we can feel the heat emanating from them. We know where they are even with our vision gone. We can sense them. Their proximity. Their thoughts. We carry the knowledge of impending disaster. And even as we stand frozen in fear while the flames lap closer, we're horrified and enchanted at our own heat that reaches out to meet the warmth and danger of the flickering flames.
posted by ink|
10:56 PM |
[Thursday, April 17, 2003]
Past the point of no return.
No backward glances,
The games we've played till now are at an end.
Past all thought of "if" or "when"...
Lux is depressed. I think regardless of how much we try to be guys about certain things like dating and sex, when you get to the bottom of the bottle, we're still girls. We talk the talk but can't walk the walk. At least, not for very long. We do a damn good job of walking the walk at first though. We think like guys but then can't handle it the way guys can.
I think it boils down to the desire to be independent and freewheeling battling with the fundamental foundations of Girl-ness. We say we want to date around and we don't care. Sure. But come 5 months later, and you're still "dating" the same guy, you start to wonder if it's going anywhere. And that's when walking the walk walks you into a concrete wall. One night stands should be limited to those guys you will never see again. Because if you do the Friends with Benefits thing, you just end up feeling used. You're either purely Benefit Buddies. Or you're friends. No mixing hanging out with sex.
I have yet to do the one night stand thing. I'd like to say that it's something I'd like to experience, but I'm not sure if I can really say that. To be honest, I'm not sure how I would react to it afterwards. I'd like to think that I'd be cool about it. But is it really possible to squash the second X chromosome so thoroughly? Would I really be "cool" with it if the guy packed up and took off the next morning with only a "see ya sometime"? Probably not. What girl would? Who wants to the cliched "Wham, bam, thank you ma'am"? How is it that it's so much easier for guys to take sex more lightly?
posted by ink|
11:31 PM |
[Wednesday, April 16, 2003]
Solitude: The sweet absence of looks. -Milan Kundera, Immortality.
Again, I'm tired and worn out. I'm slouched on the couch in my corporate apartment in NC. All in all, I'd have to say that for all outward appearances, I've landed on my feet. I've got a nice apartment, 2 bedrooms, 2 bathroom, and 2 walk-in closets. We have a smashing kitchen (there is no better domesticator for a working gal than a nice kitchen, it makes you want to cook in it), a washer and dryer inside our apartment, and a dining room. Plus we get a car. Despite it all though, I'm feeling like a thin piece of thread-bare clothing. Worn. I really don't have all that much going for me at the moment.
My life is empty. What do I do these days besides work and party? I used to -do- things. I used to do activities, have passions, express opinions. Is the color slowly being sucked out of me? Is this the fate of every adult out there? To deteriorate from vibrant young individuals to grey forlorn adults weighed down by the responsibilities of bills, rent, and the unrelenting cycle of work, work, and more work until you reach a point where you're not sure where your job ends and you begin? These days, my feeble attempt at separating job from life is to log onto the internet when I get home, regardless of how late it is, just so I can feel like I do something after work. That my life isn't completely enveloped by work, working out (sometimes), and sleep.
I used to get real email. But even that's tapered off. "Checking my email" these days consists of cleaning out the spam so my box doesn't get full. In case I ever get real email. I don't blame my friends though. I've been a terrible friend. When I do reply, it's late, and usually slammed out on my keyboard in a hurry, a jumble and rush of thoughts spilled out onto the screen. Click "send" and it's gone. I don't even re-read or polish the email. It's nothing but a rough rush of colors, slapped onto a canvas and shipped away. I suppose it can be considered more raw and personal since it hasn't been re-read or edited. But I can't help but feel a bit guilty, as if I'm selling my friends short. But when I get home, the last thing I want to do is muster up the energy to be funny or witty. I want to collapse into bed until someone, anyone calls me. Thus proving that someone does love me besides my mom or the telemarketers. No one does. Unless it's one of my guy friends calling with girl problems. I've become the de facto Carrie Bradshaw, doling out sex advice like a cheap plastic Pez dispenser with a grinny face.
My roommate is out for the night. She has the car, which means I'm left in the apartment by myself. I was sitting watching TV when it struck me. I've stopped feeling lonely. I've stopped noticing the emptiness because it's so pervasive that I've become accustomed to it. Empty has become the norm. I'm wondering if this might be a survival skill. To learn to be alone and not mind it. Or whether it's a sign of oncoming psychopathic-ness. Like the Unabomber.
But the more I think about it, the more I think that being alone has different meaning now. I choose to be alone. I revel in it. The silence. The bliss. The sheer comfort of reading a magazine on my bed. Alone. I spent the past 3 weeks alone. You'd think that I would've had enough of it. But after last weekend's whirlwind of bars, birthday parties, and social events, I'm feeling the need to isolate myself again. My roommate and I don't usually get in each other's way. We have our own bedrooms and bathrooms, but just having her out of the apartment feels nice. And so much is chaotic in my life right now that she's just another variable in my environment. I need to feel more stable, and being alone is the only source of stability I have right now. Being alone means that there are no variables. Just objects in my environment. I like the solidness and certainty of objects.
posted by ink|
10:33 PM |
[Tuesday, April 15, 2003]
The world has turned and left me here. -weezer
I'm tired and worn out. I'm sick of the rat race, in every sense. Physically, the race to be tan and fit. Emotionally, the race to compete for the limited number of nice guys in the world. Professionally, the race to the top of the ladder. I've had it. I'm tired of all the outstanding issues in my life. I'm tired of having them sit on my desk and wait. I'm tired of hanging on to hopeless ideas and unsure people. I'm tired. And I'm giving up. All I can think of right now is a life without any more of this. An empty desk. Nothing pending, nothing on hold. Anything without the loose ends tied up is being tossed. Most of all, I'm sick of all the talk about boys. Is this what my life has deteriorated into? Work and boys? I used to -do- things. My life used to be rich. I used to be more. How can it be that 20-some year old women revert back to 14 year olds and talk non-stop about guys all day long? Is it because all of us are so work-worn that all we have in our lives to talk about is the possibility of improving it with love? I can't do anything about my work-worn life, but I can end the madness. No more hoping. No more emotional crap. I've had it. I refuse to go out at night anymore. It's a waste of my time and money. And I never meet anyone besides guidos, stockboys from CVS, and boys who invite me to fake brunches just so they can get into my pants. I'm tired and frustrated. With myself and with the world. Do we have three-heads or something? Why is it that we never seem to meet anyone sane and likable? I'm declaring a boycott on bars.
I hate the dress-up process and the underlying competitiveness with other girls. It makes me want to be the antithesis, despite its seemingly self-sabotaging qualities. I think its because I recognize that it's a battle I can't win. I am not trim and fit. Because I work a zillion hours a week. I do not have a savvy haircut, because I can barely be bothered to blow dry it, much less style it. Because yes, I look at girls who fit the "hot" image and feel resentful. As a girl who's been brought up to succeed, I feel like the world has suddenly changed the rules on me. We were taught to excel, to exceed expectations, but no one bothered to tell us that men feel intimidated by such women. That men like to be the powerful ones. That by being successful and smart, we were in fact decreasing our success in the emotional arena and increasing our chances of staying desperately single. What sort of motivation is that? What kind of drive can we possibly have when we know that by striving for success, we were in fact dooming ourselves to a life of spinsterhood? What woman is willing to die alone and lonely for the sake of a career? And then people talk about the glass ceiling. It's not about the glass ceiling, it's about society.
So I look at these hot girls and feel resentful and cheated as if they had secretly known the rules the entire time and I had been hoodwinked. If I had known, then I wouldn't have spent so much time studying for school and spent more time flipping my hair and making my boobs grow. I feel like I've been told that the world is a game, and then dropped into the "real world" with a handful of monopoly money that suddenly has no value. I think it's in avoidance of this feeling of failure that I suddenly feel the mad desire to cut my hair. Out of insecurity springs a passion to deface onself, to make oneself unattractive, almost in an effort to rebelliously in-your-face say a proverbial "fuck you" to the world, a mad scramble for a secure hold in the superficial world of image. Out of fear of failure, I find the drive to provide a convenient excuse for failure. In order to save myself. It's not because they're better than me. The world really operates by -my- rules. It's only because the guys are too shallow to see beyond the long swishy hair and perfectly tanned bodies. And so I wear my short pageboy cut and pale pot belly with pride, as if they're symbols of my disinterest in everything around me. I wear my out-of-shapeness defiantly, to contradict every other girl out there who's desperately trying to attract the perfect man by running everyday and doing a thousand crunches each night. I try to combat the shallow superficiality of myself and the world by becoming the anti-stereotype of the "hot girl".
I cut my hair and refuse to go to the gym in my boycott of image. But this doesn't mean I'm boycotting myself. I wear short skirts if I want to. I wear tall boots if I feel like it. I let my roots grow out just because. I do what I please, most of the time. The rest of the time, I make sure to do what wouldn't please the world or conventional views. I wonder if I'm going through a second rebellious teenage period. Or whether the overwhelming time I spend at work conforming to the firm standards of being so fucking pretty and nice that has skewed me to the other extreme.
My mom begs me not to do it. Boys love long hair, she says. Cut it after he's in the bag, she adds. Makes logical sense. Does any girl really want to spend the rest of her life alone? I don't. But for some reason, I want to throw it all to the winds madly. The fact that my mom makes so much sense makes me want to do the opposite even more. Somewhere in the back of my head, a little voice whispers that the only person I'm hurting is myself with my headstrong plunge into the world of android unattractivity and surly rebelliousness. But I don't care right now. I just don't. I'm tired of feeling competitive, I'm tired of slyly seeing if I measure up and feeling like I don't, I'm tired of seeing pictures of super-cute girls with big anime eyes and feeling inadequate. How can it be that some people pull a perfect hand out of the gene pool? I'm tired of worrying about whether I'll grow up to be a spinster the way my mother claims. I'm tired. And fed-up. And angry. I'm taking myself out of the race. I refuse to be a part of this. No more waiting. I'm done. I've had it. Capice?
posted by ink|
9:49 PM |
[Thursday, April 10, 2003]
"You ask what hope is. He (Aristotle) says it is a waking dream." - Laertius Diogenes, Lives of Eminent Philosophers (bk. V, 18)
There comes a time in a girl's life when she has to let go. Of many things. Her family, her need for security, her dependence on her friends. There comes a time when one must learn to stand on her own two feet, shakily at first, but hopefully firmly as time goes on. There comes a time when one must learn not to count on people, because people, being fallible whimsical creatures, come and go at will, like a chair that suddenly disappears from under you, leaving you to collapse on the floor. Thus it's best to look at the chair and admire it, pat it once in a while, but stand firmly on your own two feet and leave the interaction at that. Interaction at arm's length.
Is this what the world has come down to? When a 22-year old girl feels like she can't trust or lean on others? Perhaps it's not a fault of the world at large, but a fault within me. Perhaps I lean too heavily on others. After all, is it the coffee's fault that you're tired without it? Or your own for developing a dependence on it? It's gotten to the point where hoping is equivalent to dependence. But instead of being a chair that you rest on, or a coffee equivalent, hope is a wall that you lean on. It's that inbetween stage of dependence where you're still standing on your own two feet so you won't land on your ass, but when it disappears, you still stumble as hope provides a crucial third point for your balance.
Hope for girls is defyingly long-lived. Like the menstrual cycle, hope ebbs and dies, and ebbs and dies again. They say that women experience this phenomenon called "selective amnesia". Doctors speculate that selective amnesia occurs most strikingly after childbirth. That it's a genetic trait that has specifically been selected for, since women who experienced selective amnesia after childbirth conveniently forgot about the terrible experience and thus reproduced more than women who didn't have selective amnesia. I think that selective amnesia happens also in women who've had terrible relationships or maybe not even terrible relationships, but had not-so-positive experiences with men. What else could possibly cause these women to go back again and again for more? What else would drive these women to keep trying after being burned with men who are inconsiderate, men who can't commit, men who are only in it for the game. If men took the beat-down that women take on a regular basis, they'd be sitting on the bench recovering from the bruised ego. But that's the main difference between men and women. Men are the ones who went out and hunted down the game. Fought the tigers. Defeated the enemy army. They showed fortitude and courage and drive. Women were the ones who carried on as widows, who survived as single mothers, who scratched out a living sometimes at the expense of their dignities. Women showed resilience. Men showed strength.
And at the base of that very resilience is hope. Hope seems to be woman's strongest and weakest flank all at once. That we can hope forever, even when all logic dictates that the odds are against us and to cut our losses and bail. Hope is what keeps us going, drives us to try again and again, traps us in unhealthy relationships, and defeats us. After all, disappointment proportionally grows in magnitude with the size of hope. In that case, are women doomed to be forever disappointed?
I'm not sure. I'm not sure if hope is something that's limited to just women. In fact, I know it's not. Women just contain a greater capacity for it. After all, why do we hang on to guys long after its over? Why do we continue to care for some of them despite the lack of reciprocation? Why are women more prone to doormat behavior than men? Why are men considered "womanish" or "whipped" if they exhibit these traits? Why do women all think similarly in the vein of - "Well, maybe if we meet again 5 years down the line... He'll be different and it will work out." Why can't we accept that maybe this is the way they are and they'll never change? Why can't we just find someone who fits the ideal instead of hoping that someone who doesn't someday will? Why do we so often fall in love with the idea of who someone is instead of who they really are. Who are we really doing a disservice to? Them? Or ourselves.
Why is it so hard for us to just let go? Why do we continue to hope? Why is it that otherwise intelligent women can be so stupid about certain things?
posted by ink|
10:43 PM |
[Wednesday, April 09, 2003]
The Quest for A Maxi Pad.
I'm on the rag. Not only does that mean serious cramps, but that also means a pad shortage since I only carry a few in my traveling luggage. I get back to my hotel at 8 pm only to realize that I forgot to buy pads at the drugstore during lunch. And I'm completely out. Everything is already closed.
Step 1: The Hotel Giftshop. They sold a 30 pack of regular maxi's, but nothing with wings. And I wasn't about to buy 30 pads that I didn't like. There was a guy and a girl cashier, but I waited for the girl cashier to finish with the old man so I could ask her about it. Before she finished though, the guy asked if he could help me. I hesitated, and then asked him whether they sold pads in single packs or pads with wings. He turned bright red. He was one of those skinny pale freckled teenagers. He said that he didn't think they did. I asked whether there was a public bathroom around since all public bathrooms have little pad machines. You stick a quarter in, and a pad comes out. Like magic!! He said that he wasn't aware of any but he'd never been in a woman's bathroom before so he wouldn't know. But I could check the food court that's connected to the hotel if I like.
Step 2: The Food Court. So off I head to the food court, on the quest for a maxi pad. The food court is closed (of course), but the security guard asks me if I need anything. I ask him where the public bathroom is. He tells me that each restaurant has its own bathroom and they're all closed now, but he can let me into the security guard bathroom with the key if I like. I thank him and say that really, I'm looking for a -public- bathroom. He starts to look offended and says that if I gotta go, I gotta go, and does it really matter where I pee as long as there's a toilet bowl? I was forced to tell him that I'm actually not looking to pee, I'm looking for the little pad machine. He pauses. I ask him whether he knows where I can find one. He shakes his head and says he's never even seen one before. But I can try the hotel bathroom on the first floor.
Step 3: The Hotel Public Bathroom. Wild goose chase continues. The hotel bathroom has no pad machine, but it has two Hispanic cleaning ladies. Cleaning ladies! They have to know where I can find a pad machine. Little did I realize that they couldn't speak English. I tried to convey what I was looking for with my rudimentary Spanish and through hand motions. Finally, one of them gets it and says that if I'm a guest at the hotel, I can call housekeeping for it. Yes!
Step 4: Housekeeping. I get back to the hotel room and call Housekeeping. The hotel cleaning ladies should understand what it's like. But then I get an answering machine instead. I hesitate for a second and leave a message indicating that I need "something" brought up to my room and to please return my call. Half an hour later, my phone rings, and it's a -man- on the line, asking me what I need. I'm forced to tell him I need a pad. They don't have any. All they have are tampons. By that point, I'm sick of this whole thing so I tell him to go ahead and send them up. Five minutes later, there's a knock on my door. I open up expecting a room cleaning lady, but instead, there's a big black man standing there holding a plastic bag full of tampons. THEY SENT A BIG BLACK MAN. He hands me my bag of tampons, and I start laughing. I wonder if I'm supposed to tip him. He laughs and kinda waves a hand at me in an embarassed "aw shucks" sort of thing and ambles off.
So now I have a bag full of tampons I'm probably not going to use. And no maxi pads.
posted by ink|
10:10 PM |
[Monday, April 07, 2003]
So. Today starts day One of the NC project. It started off terribly as I didn't fall asleep until 3 AM or so due to a mixed case of anxiety, stage fright, and anticipation of new-girl-syndrome. I crawled out of bed at 4:30 AM feeling like I hadn't slept at all and hauled my ass to La Guardia, where I was practically detained. A hint for those future travelers, women's purses now count as a "carry on". Before getting to my gate, I had to stand in a long line and walk through the metal detector. They made me take my boots off. Since they're long boots, I was forced to pull my pant leg up to take them off, holding up the entire line. If I'd known that I was going to be showing my leg off to the entire airport and security staff, I would've at least taken care to shave the night before.
Once in NC, Consultant GB gave me and Brand Spanking a tour of the facilities. He said we'd pass by a coffee shop along the way so I brought my purse. The coffee shop ended up being a little snack kiosk where we could get free coffee. And here I was thinking Starbucks. Hello yuppie. Everytime I step out of New York, I realize what a sickening cliche I am. I couldn't find any caps for my styrofoam cup. In my hurry, the coffee ended up too sweet but I put up with it and bravely smiled. As soon as the team and I started walking, the coffee started to slosh so I tried to drink it quickly. Within a few minutes, I was sweating like mad and hoping just as madly that no one would notice. And I'd burned my tongue.
Meanwhile, Brand Spanking and Consultant GB were bonding over the Final Four. How is it that guys can bond almost instantaneously all the time over sports? It's like some universal male language.
Plus, I had Fiber One cereal this morning. My roommate swears by it and says she lost 7 pounds in a month on it, without exercising. Lots of fiber means lots of trips to the bathroom. I wish I'd chosen some other day to eat Fiber One. I sit right near my team, so they know everytime I go to the bathroom. I can't even pretend that I'm going to some meeting since it's the first day. This is embarassing. Lux: "I bet they call you the piddler."
To top it all off, I've got some major cramps. About halfway through the day I couldn't take it anymore and hightailed it to the convenience store to drug myself up while my consultant was gone. During the 10 minutes I was away, he called my cell phone to ask me to look something up for him. I had to 'fess up that I wasn't at my desk. Also in the 10 minutes I was gone, the partner stopped by to welcome us to the team. When I finally got back, I was caught dumping out 5 boxes of single-serving Aleve onto my desk, thus publicizing that I either a) had a serious migraine b) am addicted to pain killers or c) was experiencing womanly problems. Way to make first impressions, eh? It's gotten to the point where I'm reading the warning on the box "Do not exceed 5 in 12 hours" and thinking that if I take one more and it makes the pain go away, maybe it will be worth the damage to my liver. Consultant GB did say though, that if I'm feeling "under the weather", I can go ahead and check into the hotel room a little early. I could feel the back of my ears turning red.
What a great first day. Yay me!
I've noticed interesting patterns down south here though.
Pattern 1: First Names Clay. Russ. Hope. Bruce. Blair.
posted by ink|
8:38 PM |
[Wednesday, April 02, 2003]
Listen to me.
You must TALK MORE SLOWLY down there in NC. I can HEAR YOU IN MY HEAD WHEN YOU SAY THAT.
"Listen to me."
It's freaking me out man! FREAKING ME OUT!!!
I can picture you flying off the handle as you type furiously to me. What do I look like?
Eyes wide. Twisting your mouth. Hands all over the place. Oh wow. I look hot.
Half of our team is heading down next week. The other half is still undetermined. I spoke with a potential team member from one of the west coast offices on the phone today. He was talking so slowly it was driving me crazy. I wanted to say "COME ON!!! GET TO THE END OF THE SENTENCE!!!" There's 3 of us so far. Two analysts and a consultant. The other analyst is brand new. This is his first project, and he is so enthusiastic. So enthusiastic.
"Thanks for everything so far... I think we have a great start as far as team dynamics go, and I can't wait to get to work!"
This was in an email sent to our team lead. I only saw it because I was cc'ed on the reply. I'm a new analyst too since I've been here less than a year, but he is Brand Spanking New Analyst. Was I ever that enthusiastic when I was about to embark on my first project? Quite frankly, I don't mind being at the bottom of the totem pole as you can get away with an awful lot. It's one of the few perks. With the lower pay comes lower expectations and less responsibility. Less pressure. You can never sink lower than being a new analyst. But now, I'm practically the fake new analyst, and Brand Spanking is the real new analyst. I want to be at the bottom!! I'll be expected to know more than he does because I've been here longer. I hope he doesn't make me look bad. No pressure.... I don't like this. I don't like this at all. He already wins for team spirit.
I'm supposed to get certified for mortgaging before leaving for NC. I've been staring at this computer course all day.
Sounds very cool. I know, doesn't it? You think I can use this at a bar? "You know... I've got mortgage certification..."
posted by ink|
6:43 PM |
[Tuesday, April 01, 2003]
The weekend in NC with Lux and her family was a typical suburban day, but surreal - fast forwarded ten years: a glimpse into the future, or rewinded 15 years: a glimpse into the past, depending on how you look at it. We spent the morning riding to the soccer fields in the family van to watch Lux's brother R's peewee soccer game. Her sister N's soccer game was earlier that day, but N was still running around in her soccer uniform and cleats. Sitting out there on the bleachers with all the parents, I shaded my eyes from the sun as I peered onto the field. All the little kids looked the same to me. Short people running around. I looked around at the parents sitting around me, and realized that a lot of them weren't much older than I was. They were all young, and fashionable - all the things that I never associate with parents. Are the parents of this decade suddenly cooler? Or am I just aging?
As N. wriggled her way under my arm and hid in my lap from a bumblebee, I absently-mindedly patted her for reassurance. I used to think that I would never have kids. I'd be the worst mother. I barely manage to feed myself regularly, much less children. Yet here I was, sitting among parents, acting like a parent with a little girl crawling into my lap and listening with fascination to my discman. It was like time flickered. Like slices of the present suddenly overlapped with slices of the future and I was somehow sitting on bleachers 10 years later watching a soccer game with my daughter squirming her way under my arms, yet I was simultaneously 22 years old, sitting on bleachers watching Lux's brother play peewee soccer and N. hiding in my lap.
I looked at the kids on the soccer field and wondered where they'd be 5 years from now. You could tell already which ones would end up being athletes and keep up with soccer, and which ones were likely to branch to other things. After all, even the science nerds in high school were probably forced to play peewee soccer at some point in their lives. I looked at the kids and wondered what would become of them, where they would end up falling in the high school hierarchy. I looked at the little girls sitting in the bleachers watching their brothers play, and I could already tell right off who was going to end up where in the hierarchy of girls. I could tell that this group of girls were "fashionable" for their age. There was one particular little girl, wavy blonde hair, confident in her pastel colored shorts, tanktop, and rainbow colored flip-flops. I could tell what kind of girl she would grow up to be. The popular sort that all the boys like. Because even at that young age, she had it - the awareness of and confidence in her femininity. I looked down at N., who had her hair tied in a ponytail and was climbing on the bleachers. I saw more of myself in N.
I wondered where N. would be in a few years. After all, I wasn't so unlike her. I preferred climbing trees and wearing high tops to wearing pastel colors and flipflops. In fact, I wasn't even sure I was aware that boys existed for an awfully long time. Or that I was a girl. I just... was. I wondered when she would lose her innocent oblivion. Probably when she starts to like boys and realizes that they all like little girls like the blonde. All little boys start off liking the same kind of girl. Their tastes only begin to diverge and differentiate as they get older. She'll look at those girls and wonder what they have that she doesn't. She'll start to question herself and become less confident running around in high tops. She'll hit those insecure teenage years. I looked at the little blonde girl, and looked at N. in her cleats, and saw all this. I saw how the blonde girl with her cool demeanor and standoffish attitude was fundamentally different from N. You could say she was more girl. But that wasn't it. N. hid in my lap from bumblebees the way all girls do. She had a crush on the referee. What it boiled down to was that they were two distinctly different breeds of girls. I marveled at how the differentiation started at such a young age between types of girls.
I looked at N. climbing the bleachers and wondered if she realized that these next few years would be the last time she felt completely confident in herself. Pre-puberty. I felt protective of her. Being a teenage girl is hard. She isn't going to find out about different breeds of girls until later on. She won't have the reassurance that later on, boys will like her too. She'll only have Lux's and my word for it. That there's nothing wrong with her. She doesn't have to wonder if she's a freak or try to be like those girls. And even if she tried, she won't be able to change her own nature. They're just... different from us.
I remember simultaneously being resentful of them and wanting to be like them when I was younger. Not because I admired them. In fact, I didn't really see why the boys thought they were so great. But at the same time, I recognized that this was what boys liked. And I liked boys. But I wasn't willing to make myself be like those girls. I was a bitter teenager. And so I spent most of high school feeling like I was shooting myself in the foot due to principles. Wondering what they had that was so great that I didn't have. Besides breasts.
I tugged on N's ponytail as she begged me to kick the soccer ball around with her. "Please?? We'll make this the goal, and we'll try to score against each other." No, I'm tired. Listen to the discman. Five minutes later, she was handing me 3 flowers picked from the soccer field. Little girls are wonderful. I only wished that little boys would be able to see it soon without causing her too much grief. Boys are stupid sometimes.
Maybe having kids won't be that terrible. Although I'm obviously out of shape and doomed. At a sprightly 22 years of age, I could barely keep up with an 8-year old. I was exhausted and passed out in the middle of the day. Only to be awakened by a little body crawling into the blankets with me, hot breath in my ear, and a loud whisper, "....Are you awake?" If it was anyone else, I would've been grouchy and annoyed. But somehow, it wasn't so bad.