Monday, January 31, 2005

Keeping tabs on the cool kids

Lately I've encountered several cases of really smart people who unabashedly keep up with celebrity gossip. (As one example, Paul Farmer, M.D., PhD,/MacArthur award recipient/ super public health guru/Harvard medical school faculty/TB expert reads People, referring to it as JPS, Journal of Popular Studies). In my constant quest to (a) actually become smarter or (b) fool people so they'll think I'm smart, I copy stuff I see smart people doing.

So when I stopped at Savon on the way home tonight, I decided it was time to let US Weekly fill me on the question we're all grappling with: "Did Brad Cheat? Hot new details of what really happened with Angelina-- and how it broke Jen's heart." I got my $4 worth of celebrity drivel. Who knew that US Weekly would not only have pictures of the not-so-happy couple the very day before (! gasp!) they announced their split, but that an entire page would be devoted to other celebrities' reactions to it? My favorite picture is of Nicole Hilton and pals at an afterparty for the Golden Globes. All of these people have their cell phones/pda/Blackberries on the table in front of them. Who exactly is going to call with a better offer?

Saturday, January 29, 2005

That's HFL to you.

Yesterday afternoon the groupie and I met another friend for happy hour in Santa Monica. We went to Sonny Maclean's, an Irish pub we'd never been before that had about 20 beers on tap and pitchers on sale at happy hour. I love happy hour!! the groupie mentioned that her friends' band The Adored were playing downtown at this all ages warehouse venue called The Smell. Having never gone to an indie rock show when I was 14, I decided it was high time I caught up. Luckily, we're both college graduates, so we were able to park in this space with 5 different parking restrictions signs with some confidence that my car would be waiting in that space upon our return rather than in a tow lot. Walking toward The Smell (downtown is not a happening place in LA, so it's pretty desolate aside from the people sleeping on the street), we pass the entrance to another club where a few men outside catcall and whatnot in an effort to entice us to hang around and chat, give them sexual favors. .. it's not really clear to me. After we had passed one of these men calls out the best thing I've ever heard, "I love high-fashion lesbians!" Classic. Although I was pursued by a woman once, she did not mistake me for being high-fashion.

A close second to the HFL attribution was when we got a drink in a Mexican bar around the corner from the club (which serves no drinks at all-- alcoholic or not). We attracted a bit of attention from the guy next to us at the bar, but the bar tender quickly told him "no molestar" and he left us alone. Later, this old man who had been asking me to dance says to me, "Quieres Mexicano?" and I'm like, "Do I want a Mexican? What kind of question is that?" Then he starts getting out all of this cash and showing it to me. He's trying to pay me for sex! Did the word on the street not make it into the bar? A high-fashion lesbian is far from a geriatric prostitute. The bartender actually took this man's hall-full Corona away and had someone throw him out of the bar! I guess she was aware that a high-fashion lesbian like myself would have none of this.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Now that you mention Oedipus. . .

Because I'm supposed to be "busy," "preparing a presentation," here's a little something I learned in my early days in LA way back in the summer of 2003. It was the first (and actually only) time I've gone out with someone who (a) I didn't meet through some common friend or pathetically contrived medium and (b) asked me out in a library.

A sign your 30-year-old date might not be individuated from his mother:

Kelly: "You and your mom went to a picnic last weekend? I thought you were from Michigan?"

Date in non-ironic sportcoat and loafers: "Yeah, well my mom moved out here after she retired, now she manages apartments. We were at her complex picnic."

Kelly: "Really? Your mom moved out here for you?"

Sportcoat/Loafers: "Yeah. I'm an only child."

Next, please! *

*Many other factors contributed to making this date very, very painful. It wasn't just the mom thing.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

One serving of bull with a side of quack

Last week I went to a talk at UCLA sponsored by Campus Events, a student group that screens movies, brings bands to campus, etc. August Bullock, "attorney at law" (as clearly indicated on the cover of his book), spoke on The Secret Sales Pitch. I expected something along the lines of perceptual priming, message framing and cultural values, that puppies and sweaters really don't go together as LandsEnd would have me believe, or that the couch on last season's American Idol was a Coke logo. I got something very different. This was more along the lines of a "Who can find the penis first?" slide show. According to Bullock, advertisers illicit "secret emotions" from us when they try to get us to spend money. He says there's reason to be wary.

His first example was a cigarette ad featuring a well-dressed man and woman embracing. Bullocks said he wasn't able to find the secret image in this one at first. No worries, he posted it on his wall for several weeks. After enlarging it, zooming in, changing the contrast, etc., he was able to show us that clearly the man's hand wasn't just resting on the woman's back, but rather when the woman's back had been airbrushed, her spine had been manipulated such that the man's hand was holding a penis. This ad, he claimed, wasn't meant to simply make us think that this fancy gent and lady who are about to get lucky owe their sauveness to Benson & Hedges, but rather to illicit nervousness in straight men. Everyone knows people smoke more when they're nervous. Of course.

One of my favorites appeared to be a tumbler of whisky on ice next to a martini glass. To Bullock's discerning (dare I say "projecting"?) eye, however, this was a martini glass frowning down on the tumbler in which an ice cube was actually a despairing face. On top of this unpleasant face was another ice cube that was really a young boy huddled with a blanket AND A PUPPY! This ad, he said, was targeted toward people who drink because they harbor anger from childhood when their sibling got more attention than they did.

The last notable I'll share was a Cosmo spread that featured a woman shaving a man's face. The tips on the page read, "Shave your man" and "Don't get beard burn" supposedly appealed to young women's hatred of men as well as their latent homosexuality as it encouraged them to 'castrate your man' and 'don't get involved with a man, have a relationship with a woman instead,' respectively. Bullock pointed out further evidence (did we even need it?) in that the male model's defined pecs were clearly breasts and that if one looked carefully (i.e. squinted, turned your head just so), one could tell that he, of whom a good 3 inches of his abdomen was showing, was obviously pregnant. Wow. . . I'm sure that whenever this guy looks at the clouds he thinks the Cosmos is a total perv.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Bad habits are back in 2005

In old business, as
Steven commented last week, it does indeed suck that you have to comment as "Anonymous" if you don't have a Blogspot account. Someone's suggested another program I might be able to use to get around that, but I have yet to investigate it fully. So. . . until then, my apologies to the marginalized anonymous commentors that have to include their name in the text of their comments.

I've been in a bit of a slump for the past few months. No matter how earnest my intentions, I couldn't seem to reach that highly anticipated state of blissful content commonly known as inebriation. Luckily, my thoughtful, aspiring clinician classmate Darby must have heard about this sad state of affairs, because she went and got engaged over the break and threw an engagement party this weekend. It's safe to say the slump is o-v-e-r. I made quite the comeback Friday night. I had taken the precaution of hosting a small pre-party at my place to ensure a solid start on the evening. I think it did the trick. Later, in the latter part of the real party people kept saying, "Wow, Kelly, you're so drunk." Delighted, I'd graciously accept what I had interpreted as congratulatory remarks, "I KNOW! It's been so long -- it's fantastic!" I could tell that the spell of soberness was really broken yesterday morning when all I could muster the energy and gastrointestinal strength to do was watch Starsky and Hutch and google Owen Wilson. I came across my camera tonight when I was cleaning my room. I distinctly remember my roommate using it to take pictures at the party. Whether she got any shots of me demonstrating the five positions of ballet I don't know. It's gonna be a couple of days before I'm brave enough to review the photos.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Productivity schmoductivity

I cancelled my good productivity intentions tonight to go see A love song for Bobby Long. I had seen the preview just after the new year and by all indications it looked as if Bobby wasn't long meant for theaters -- I think it just opened five days ago and today's LA Weekly didn't have it listed for this weekend. I was all set to go to the 9:50 show until my roommate mentioned that tonight was the first episode of the Street Smart v. Book Smart showdown on The Apprentice. Tough call. I went downstairs to assess the situation. As my roommate wisely imparted, "With The Apprentice, you're guaranteed to get really excited about it and it's guaranteed to be not as good as you'd hoped. It may even leave you feeling a little empty inside." I've watched enough Apprentice to know that this woman spoke the truth -- eighteen minutes later and $10 lighter I was snuggling into my seat at The Westside Pavilion, which may be my favorite place to see movies because of the convenient rooftop parking -- much preferred over the subterranean variety.

Bobby Long -- I liked it. I have a thing for movies that are just depressing enough to be thoughtful and compelling without making me reexamine my life. This movie was enjoyable, but it won't change your life, unless you're an alcoholic squatting in a dead person's home -- but no promises. I wouldn't even characterize John Travolta's performance as Bobby Long annoying. Scarlett Johansson and Gabriel Macht were the other leads. Gabriel Macht looks like Peter Krause. I have a special place in my heart for Peter Krause and all men who look like him, so this was a good thing.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

When all your coppertops stop.

For those of you bloggers interested in QUADRUPLING your pageload activity, I suggest that you unsuccessfully try to avoid having a quarrel over social disparities in your comments section.

In less provocative, but nonetheless charged (oooh, bad pun -- the obvious ones are hard for me to pass by) affairs, I bought quite a few batteries tonight. The first was for an inexpensive sports watch I've had for at least 8 years-- it has been touch-and-go at times, but this is one of the longest tenures I've ever had with a possession. I got quite the bargain at my favorite watch service place. For just $7.50, they installed a new battery, set the time and date AND gave me a one year warranty on the battery. This is fantastic for everyone: I'm pretty sure the battery will last a year and I'm certain that even if it doesn't, I won't know where the receipt is if it does break in several months. I also bought three batteries for my beloved HP32SII calculator, which I've had about as long as the watch -- since my days as a fresh-faced member of the Liberty High School Math Team. Those batteries were sold individually --- at $3.50 a piece! Who knew calculator maintenance could be so costly? Luckily gummy peach rings and the samples of dyed synthetic hair were just a few aisles away to soothe my consumer angst.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Nerdfame, Part II: Stalking is a form of flattery

In addition to being elitist and cynical, I'm a gushing evangelist for things I have recently encountered and love. Over the years this has included notables such as Craigslist, Heifer Project International, Alaska, Out of the Closet Thrift Store, Queer as Folk, and Frontier House. Books are frequently on the short list for things I'm peddling. The summer before last that book was Julia Glass' first novel Three Junes. It was the first book I absolutely loved in a long, long time. Hoping to find her agent, I got to googling Ms. Glass and eventually came up with her home address in New York. I penned her an effusive note about her great book. She found a hardcover consumer for life when she wrote me back-- in blue marker!

This summer I read Discovering Statistics: SPSS for Windows by Andy Field. It's a funny little book about an unfunny statistical package for social sciences. It's really thorough and explains complicated things simply, with clear acknowledgement that the reader would rather be at the beach than in front of a computer screen. So this summer found me telling anyone who would listen to buy this book for themselves or for their Research Assistants. As a familiar feeling of gratitude began to well up inside, I googled the (young and British) Dr. Field so I could email him about his delightful book. Guess what, readers -- Andy Field is not your average measurement expert and research psychologist -- Andy Field is hot! Let this be a lesson to anyone considering graduate studies in psychology -- don't underestimate the benefits of getting your graduate training abroad, at, oh, say the University of Sussex at Brighton... Anyway, I emailed him a typical gushing email about loving his book. He sent a gracious reply thanking me for the positive feedback. The best part was when he said my email was "lovely" -- surely this could ensure a good mood for at least 16 hours, no?

Nerdfame, Part I: the second best thing to real fame

Today hotshot social psychologist Felicia Pratto gave a talk to the people who study intergroup relations at UCLA. She and fellow important social psychologist Jim Sidanius (who's at UCLA) are responsible for Social Dominance Theory, which, in regular-people-speak says that there are basically two kinds of people -- bastards who want to keep oppressed people in their place of relative disadvantage ("hierarachy enhancers") and good people who believe in equality between groups ("hierarchy attenuators"). Of course the real theory is much more complex, but you get the idea. Her talk was about a new theory of power she's developing, but my favorite part was when she was describing how she was measuring power relations with a fairly complicated allocation game her team created. Total deadpan delivery and in all earnestness she says, "I'm a full professor now so I can do whatever stupid thing I want." The other non-theory related but noticeable piece of her talk was that she kept using the word "fungible." Fungible? Really? Yes. Fungible is not a beautiful word. It sounds like it should describe the shower mats in a junior high gym. I looked it up after the talk and it means interchangeable-- she was talking about dynamic bases of power after all. I think she could've found a more pleasant sounding word.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

The business. . .

This weekend I caught an Amtrak train on the Southbound Surfliner route to Oceanside. I went to see my very cool aunt who was down from far and distant lands to be with her family after her uncle died earlier this week. Being around for the tail-end of family grief once removed is an odd thing. I feel like I should've come away with a newly-developed acumen on grieving and the human condition. If anything I realized that death under the best circumstances (i.e., in families that get along and openly love and appreciate each other) is sort of untidy and unprofound. Sometime after the mourners leave and the neighbors take home their casserole dishes, someone has to clean up the life-business of their loved one-- doctors' appointments and lunch dates have to be cancelled, accounts closed, and possessions dispersed. Thinking about someone having to confront her deceased spouse's toothbrush every morning makes me sad.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Meat, bones, in no particular order

A few of my nearest and dearest give me a hard time for all of my 'floating tumors' and all-but-diagnosed (but thoroughly researched online) cancers. The latest of which (by that I mean, this week -- as opposed to the odd ailments during the break) were (a) a potential insect bite on my eyelid that wasn't going away and (b) pain in my left foot --it's been sort of like having a rock in my shoe, but inside my foot instead. Because the foot thing was interfering with walking, I went to the doctor today. At first I was pissed because filling in for my doctor was this doctor I really dislike and have written a scathing complaint to the Health Center about. [An aside, her name is Dr. Axe -- and she sucks. Coincidence? I think not.] Nonetheless, I felt validated in (a) not chickening out of telling her my weird symptoms and (b) getting not one, but TWO honest-to-goodness diagnoses! Apparently I have a clogged up gland (a sty -- so sexy, I know) and some extra bones in my feet that are inflamed. Should it be alarming that these are the "good news" pieces of my day?

Drudging up some moderately exciting news from last weekend -- I have renounced my skepticism of grill-it-yourself restaurants. Until now I've never understood why anyone would change out of their 3-day old sweats, shower, and find parking only to pay someone ELSE 15% extra for the food you cook yourself. I had always thought I was paying them to carry the burden of potentially screw up my dinner. Last Friday night, I sat corrected. Cooking your own dinner is fun! And tasty! The responsibility index was much lower than I expected. The portions of meat (sorry vegetarians, you'll definitely want to stay away -- you'll leave hungry and perhaps disgusted) are very small so you only grill them for a minute or so. This also facilitates giving a person second, third, or seventh chances to perfect her grilling technique. It's also surprisingly inexpensive. To make the deal even more sweet, as if it were possible, they have happy hour for several hours during the week. Happy hour is my second favorite thing in the world, so I'm pretty much in love with Gyu-Kaku and think everyone in Los Angeles should eat there (there are two, Beverly Hills & WLA). And if you don't live in LA, I think you should feel a tiny bit envious-- at least for a little bit.

I almost forgot. When I got home the new
Arcade Fire cd was waiting for me. This news is a close second to the morning's x-ray and eye-poking excitement.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Scattered showers for the preoccupied mind

Today was the second day of The Return of the Delicious Southern California Sunshine. People here (who are from other places, so 78% of the people here) always talk about how people in LA freak out when it rains. They can't drive in it, they complain, etc. I think people might have been in a state shock after the sun had come back because when I left school at 6:15 -- EVERYONE in LA was in their car. Cars for miles! In every direction! The 25 minute busride home took an hour and a half. Luckily I had some dry statistics reading and a Scissor Sisters CD in my bag. The time didn't fly by, but it was cool to actually meet my reading goal for the night by the time I got home.

Lately the healthiness of my mental state has been hinging on the prognosis of the data for my master's project I finished last month. I should've designed my study slightly differently than I did -- and my advisor should've noticed when I proposed it to her. She was having a baby. I didn't realize what my design would mean for my analyses. So the last few days have found me either (a) agonizing over why I did it the way I did, (b) wondering if I should spend my Spring Break running a new study, or (c) reviewing the reasons why people may not to throw rocks at me when I have to present this research to the department in the Spring. I really hate that I'm in constant flux about something that won't matter very much a year from now and about something that's not life-threatening (even if potentially ego-threatening.) This afternoon my advisor emailed me that she may have a "solution" to our analyses program -- if so that means we can submit this paper in two weeks, I can look less stupid in the upcoming occasions in which I'll have to talk about it, and I'll have certainly learned my lesson about getting second opinions and about knowing what I'll do with the numbers (and what I can say with them) once I get them.

Today I found an old folder and noticed that the first 2 of the 3 numbers from my Southwestern mailbox combination were the same as the first 2 numbers in my current locker combination at the UCLA gym.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Blue skies (and sleeping bags) all around

It stopped raining!! For today anyway. Yes, houses are sliding off hillsides and the ground is mushy, but I could see the sky today. Last night I woke up startled by the absence of rain pounding on my roof (which I mostly like, but sometimes it's really, really hard which can be scary). I'm pretty sure I brought an end to the storm by finally rescuing my bicycle from two weeks of getting rained on.

Today was Spanish tutoring day. When I arrived the kids' mom had just finished making a yellow cake with homemade chocolate icing. !Que sabrosa! Last week I left with a bottle of Merlot as a belated holiday present. Maybe I'll ask if they'll consider being my godparents and give them a birthday list.

As I was leaving Ralph's (the Randalls of the West) tonight my musings about the delicious fudge pops in my basket were interrupted by the site of an extremely large-haired (large frizzy, not large AquaNet or large Country Club) woman at the entrance. The second thing I noticed was the contents of her shopping basket: an unfolded navy blue sleeping bag, an opened box of candy canes, and a part-full liter of soda. The third thing I noticed were here sandaled feet. From the condition of her toenails, if this woman was homeless, she is newly so or very good about finding and utilizing services. She clearly hadn't had a pedicure at the shop next door in some time, but I do notice these things and I have to say I was impressed. I walk past this woman as she and the security guard are negotiating the propriety of her bringing all those things in the store. The only part I caught had to be the best part of the exchange as I hear her claim, "Well, basically a bottle of Pepsi is what you're looking at here."

Monday, January 10, 2005

People change the world sans sarcasm

This weekend I met a woman who was taking time out of her own environmental activism to promote her husband's efforts in the tsunami relief. Global Health Access Program (GHAP) is a nonprofit, grassroots organization that specializes in providing relief in places that bigger organizations can't (because of bureaucratic restrictions, silly rules about crossing borders, etc). The story she had to tell was incredible. GHAP really is grassroots. A board once asked her how much of donations go to relief efforts. Her reply, "One hundred and seventy-five percent." First the team of doctors uses all the money people have donated, then they offer up their own Amexs and Visas to cover the rest. For her husband Dr. Larry Stock (ER doctor and professor at UCLA school of Medicine) this was to have been a $3,500 plane ticket each for him and the other two physicians traveling to Sri Lanka together last week. They didn't flinch-- but as luck, or good karma, would have it, during the final coordination with Malaysia Air for the last-minute tickets and oversized freight containers of supplies that also needed to make the trip, the agent informed the team that an anonymous donor had paid for all 3 doctors' tickets. An NPR reporter met the three men at the Bill Bradley International Terminal of LAX and asked if they really thought that three people could accomplish anything amid a disaster of such scale. Again, they weren't concerned. This weekend an email arrived from the team who had spent the 36 hour flight drafting plans to turn an existing structure into a functioning emergency room. The existing structure was previously an orphanage (or maybe an annex to an orphanage). Six days later and with the help of orphans, there is an emergency room.

It's really refreshing to know that there are people who take action to help BEFORE the final 'analysis of the coordination efforts' is in. The organization's website is There's a blog with updates of what they're doing everyday.

In other news of refreshment and helping the world, people should read Mountains beyond Mountains. It's written by Tracy Kidder about Dr. Paul Farmer's (MD and PhD in Anthropology -from Hah-vad, darling-) work in Haiti. He's another person who just learned about a problem and decided to fix it. What's more, it's a really good book.

I think everyone should take this as a personal challenge to help our neighbors. And if you find yourself to be especially astute in nonparametric statistics--look no further, I am the neighbor in question and need relief from my data.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Good intentions, break even outcomes

I really like my apartment. In addition to having 2 stories and 12 kitchen drawers for roughly the same amount I had paid for 1 story, wretched carpet, and 2 kitchen drawers, our new landlord is a welcome change from the miserable, unpleasantly plump woman who was always clad in brown and never took a break from her chain smoking to grumble something incomprehensible about how she wasn't going to help me. The old building manager really didn't care whether or not the kitchen sink was backed up and it was the third time we called and now it's Friday at 5pm and THAT'S why I'm calling the emergency line. Gladys, on the other hand, is attentive and generous to a fault (the fault being the part where she might let herself and workpeople in to our apartment unannounced. . . when we're home). An octogenarian Chinese woman who lives in the apartment above us with her 2 grown daughters, Gladys does care if our sink is backed up -- and she even cares on Tuesday at 2, the first time we call. One day last week I found myself particulary grateful for her attentiveness when a note on the front door let me know that although she was still looking for a part to repair the downstairs sink, a light fixture had been replaced and the holes in our upstairs closets that the hunky Australian electrician made when he installed new fire alarms were patched. Giddy with delight and gratitude, I ran upstairs to pen Gladys a quick note for her conscientiousness. I retreive the stationery from the closest and notice, what's this? Sheetrock powder all of over my clothes hanging innocently (and orderly too-- by sleeve, then color) in my closet! On one hand I am genuinely grateful that problems are addressed with some haste. On the other hand, I think it's fair to insist that any persons (hunky, cute accent or no) who enter my place o' dwelling while I'm out not soil my clothes. Do I thank Gladys for her good intentions (despite shoddy execution) or do I complain about my clothes having been violated in my absence? Perhaps I'll do neither and call it even.

If anyone was planning on travelling to Seattle soon, come visit me in LA instead. It rained most of last week and is supposed to KEEP raining for the next four days! It's great weather for reading books, watching movies, and taking naps, but not as conducive to running and getting stuff done which I kind of like too.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Early warning signs

Being a single gal in a big city, I've had my fair share of dates. Some bad, some good. Some better than staying home and eating macaroni and cheese, some worse than dental work. Sometimes I feel sad for ostensibly single women in restaurants out for "girls' night out," sometimes I would pawn my soul at the QuickCash to trade places with them. In addition to being single, I'm also extremely discriminating. Some may call me picky or unrealistic, but I know in the first ten minutes whether or not I want to see someone again. Usually I don't, but in the last year or so I've made a concerted effort to give people a fair chance. All told, I can't say the being-less-picky plan has gotten me very far aside from learning to overlook my date's footwear (hey, I care about shoes -- I take a long time picking them out and assume others do the same) and extending some 'relationships' that were doomed from the beginning from the standard 1 or 2 dates to 5 or 12 dates. I do, however, think I have become more adept at not feeling guilty when I'm not into someone. A friend and I recently reviewed some of the sure-fire indicators that a successive date is NOT in the works:

1. Your date initiates a hardy hug goodbye on the the second date or later.

2. After saying goodbye, your date wishes you luck with your promotion, pesky neighbor problem, coursework, career, life. . .

3. And this is the biggest giveaway of all. . .the combination shrug/wave. If your date gives you the combination shrug/wave, you are SO not going out again. A wave on its own is benign, but the shrug/wave is deadly. It doesn't matter if you've just had the best sex of your life, named your unborn children, or went in on a time-share, the shrug/wave means it's o-v-e-r. I have no idea about the evolutionary origin of this gesture, but I do think it's almost completely uncontrollable. It's like shouting, "OHGODSHITFUCK!!" upon an almost-car-wreck when you're in the car with your parents. You don't particularly want to offend them, but your very life is in danger and your body simply falls back on what it knows. So dear readers, consider yourselves forewarned. Should you ever find yourself on the receiving end of the shrug/wave, don't take it personally, maybe it's just your shoes*.

*I kid, I kid. I have long since moved on from not continuing to see someone because of poor footwear choice.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

It’s true what they say. . .

There's no such thing as a free lunch. You can't have your cake and eat it. What goes around comes around. You can't have it both ways (well, technically, you can have it both ways, but that's something else all together). For some of last year, I dated another graduate student in a different department at UCLA. First, after having dated an architect just prior to him, I had vowed not to get involved with professionals who had the luxury of nonchalantly leaving their job at work at 5pm, not to be reminded of it until they hit the snooze button at 7 the next morning and who may be erratically beckoned away into the depths of "overtime" to meet important "deadlines." Second, as it turned out, the new guy's apartment was a mere four blocks from mine. Imagine the convenience -- no reason to worry about parking, designate a driver or feel stranded should an impromptu video game tournament break out. I thought this arrangement was pretty swell. Fast forward to now. What was once a delightful convenience (and certainly more spurious "evidence" that this time it would really work out) is now a looming bane to my daily routine of commuting to school via the earth-friendly Santa Monica Big Blue Bus. Not that our split wasn't amicable, but once you've gotten really friendly with someone and you decide you don't want to anymore -- that's not the person you want to make small talk with when you're standing on a street corner for an indeterminate amount of time waiting for the bus. I feel like I've seen more of this guy in the last month than I did during some of the time we were actually dating. Fortunately, I'm a master at the "I'm concentrating on a really tough word puzzle in my head" look, as well as the "I'm lost in this fascinating scientific article about millipedes -- see, watch me highlight things" act. Although these techniques have helped so far, I'm not sure how long this can last. Maybe it really is time to invest in an iPod.

Earlier this week I was on the phone with my grandmother, telling her about a second date last weekend that helped me determine I wasn't interested in a third. She says, "Well, you know what the lesson in this is, don't you?" Me: "Er, no. What is it?" grateful that someone had at last figured out The Answer. She continues, "Well, it's just that there aren't that many people that you're going to like." Great. Thanks. That makes me feel a lot better. And all this time I thought the problem was something beyond my control. At least I know we're on the same page.

Tomorrow is the first day of the new academic quarter! The first day of school has definitely lost some of the anticipatory spirit it carried in the old days when the state paid for my textbooks. I mean, I'm not in the least bit concerned where I sit at lunch and my first day of school outfit isn't even laid out on my bed yet.