Monday, February 28, 2005

Options I'd never considered.

This weekend I was reading my often amusing Utne reader and discovered a couple of interesting tidbits:

1. There's this group called AVEN - Asexuality Visibility and Education Network - that you may be interested in joining if you have no interest in sex. Yep, you just read, "if you have no interest in sex." Apparently there are people who meet this criterion although from what I gather, the inclusiveness of the asexual community make its boundaries nebulous. For example, although I guess the 'purists' (how about 'sadists,' 'bad sports,' or 'party poopers'?) claim to be "100 percent uninterested in sex," some identify as both asexual and gay, some masturbate (although it's made clear this is just free-association masturbation, not masturbation with any particular person in mind), and some do engage in sex, but only "to express romantic or emotional attraction," rather than to satisfy a sex drive.


2. Are you fed up with the federal government's "liberal ways" and unabashed disregard for Christianity in the public sphere? (Yes, you read that correctly as well.) If so, lucky for you, because wants you to move to South Carolina where the sheer force of your piety in numbers will drive the South Carolinian government to secede from the rest of the US to found a nation based on the Ten Commandments. I wonder if gay asexuals who masturbate and occasionally have sex (but don't mean it, of course) are welcome?

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Stomach ache & self loathing

I am really bad at culinary forecasting.

I was the kid who ordered the enchiladas at Frank's Roadside Cafe in Schulenburg, Texas. Every time I would leave another meal on the road unsated, if not ill, my dad would remind me: When you're at a hamburger place, you get a hamburger. When you're at a Mexican place, you get enchiladas. The Bobby Hill to my Arlen, I always wanted to get creative and usually got burned.

Not much has changed. Last week I really wanted a hot sandwich for lunch. I skip down to Shorty's Subs and see a poster for the French Dip -- it comes with Au Jus sauce. I love sticking my sandwiches in stuff and French Dips have sounded so enticing ever since people kept mentioning how it was born downtown at Felipe's. Does it occur to me that I really don't eat beef? (N0.) Does it occur to me that perhaps Shorty's Subs is not the optimal place one might want to lose her French Dip virginity? (No.) So I march right up to the counter, place my ill considered order and don't enjoy my sandwich, which believe it or not is just a bunch of beef inside bread that you can dip into beef juice.

Today was a bad day for eating things that taste good. Breakfast was innocent enough with oatmeal and a banana. It went downhill from there when I had Ramen noodles for lunch (I know, I know -- not even Top Ramen). I burned my tongue. Later I followed up with a V8. So that makes two things I've ingested that contain more than 30% of my daily sodium intake. Then I have blueberry yogurt. Any one of these things in isolation or paired with like-minded entrees is acceptable, but this combination is terrible. I go to a meeting about the administrative details regarding one's dissertation -- there are honey mustard pretzels. They are quite tasty. I sit next to them and thus make up for the other 40% of my daily sodium intake. I wish I could say that it ends there, but sadly the death march continues. I was going to this comedy show and didn't want to be hungry (I spend most of my time trying to avoid hunger and coldness), so when my friend grabbed a salad on the way-- what did I pair with my Naked fruit juice? French fries, of course. I wanted to be clear about the nutritional value of this day.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Speaking my language

This weekend one of my BFFs got engaged. Of course I had a few questions. For one, I wondered what it felt like, as opposed to what she had predicted it would feel like. She confirmed that it is not unlike finding out that being 9 years old doesn't feel quite as different as being 8 years old did has you had anticipated. But when you turn 9 you eat cake and open presents -- she gets to plan her own party and is thinking about real estate. When I turned 9 I still bunked in a twin bed at my parents' house just like when I was 8.

So after lots of talk about what it was like, was she excited, where did they think they'd get married, what did her parents say, I asked her about the ring. Let me forewarn you that people who are get engaged -- at least those of the anticipatory engagement vareity-- develop a whole new lexicon surrounding engagement rings.

Me: So what's the ring like?
newly engaged BFF: Well, it's cathedral set. . .
Me: Wait, what does that mean?
n.e. BFF: So you know how most soltaires. . .
Me: Um, is it kinda like the Olympic medal ceremony podium is holding up the diamond?
n.e. BFF: Well. . . Maybe you could think of it that way. It's more like. . .
Me: What shape is the actual stone?
n.e. BFF: It's princess cut.
Me: Is that like a rectangle?
n.e. BFF: Er -- a square.

I see what the diamont industry is up to. Who'd want to marry anyone who'd drop a few grand on a square-shaped jewel mounted on top of the Olympic medal podium?

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Slothfulness isn't even my favorite deadly sin.

It's raining again. A lot. Southern California is supposed to be the land of sunshine, not that of perpetual precipitation and rising water -- I got my fill of that in Southeast Texas. I think the news reporters are pissed too. They all stand in the rain all day to tell us that it's raining. This is not what they signed up for either.

In an effort to get some shit done, I started the day off with an impressive bout of industriousness. By 1pm I had already shopped for groceries, gone for a run, and washed some clothes. Then I tackled about 18 minutes of work before settling down on the couch to nullify all of the morning's productivity.

First I watched a DVD that's been sitting around for almost a week. Rabbit Proof Fence follows three girls on their 1500 mile trek across the Australian desert back to their village after they escape from a governmental 'training facility' designed to Anglicize children who are 'half-caste' (half Aborigine, half white). From 1900 to 1971 the Australian government removed 'half-caste' children from their Aboriginal villages in an attempt to 'breed the Aborigine out of them.' Far from the 'feel good movie of the year,' this makes one wonder if, by any chance, governments might sometimes cite good intentions or historical precedent when they say, imperialize other nations or restrict human rights.

Next I alternated between reading The Sound and the Fury and falling asleep until it was time for the cartoons to start: two King of the Hills, two Simpsons, and one Family guy. I feel like that lady whose skin became fused with her couch.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Cutting to the chase.

I consider myself a friendly person, but not necessarily a nice person. Or maybe it's the other way around -- I can't ever decide.

According to an article my grandma read recently (as opposed to a "program" she would've seen on television), if one wants to meet delightful people, that person should make small talk with everyone they meet. Small talk, huh? I always say hi to the bus driver when I get on the bus, but I don't think this counts. I give a cheerful hello to people I know when I pass them in the hallway, but I paid attention to my parents and don't talk to strangers. In fact, I work on the tacit assumption that people I don't already know can't speak.

I tried the small talk thing twice: once to a harried checker at the grocery store and once to a fellow patron at the carwash. The checker was too busy and the lady's car was ready just as I wondered aloud whether anyone's ever taken the wrong car home from the carwash.

This week I've decided that maybe I don't like small talk. I hate it when classmates I don't know well ask me how I'm doing and expect a real answer or make some 'process comment' about what's going on in the classroom. Give up some good gossip or keep quiet.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

A smattering.

Today I went back to the elementary school in Pacific Palisades. On the drive over I confirmed the white picket fences. Walking down the hall, the first thing is see is this tiny person careening around the corner. The second thing is see is this tiny person's tiny white ass as he's pulling up his pants on his dash back to his classroom. I hear his teacher yell at him when he arrives at his classroom. I presume she doesn't suspect his behavior was motivated by efficiency and not wanting to miss valuable instruction time.

When I got to tutoring today (a reschedule, usually it's Thursday, so the whole time I kept thinking I could go home and screw around and watch The Apprentice) the mom was like, "Oh hey, should I make some tea?" Really, I love going over to their house, hanging out every week, and leaving with a check. I just wish we could get past the whole learning Spanish pretense. I think everyone would have a much better time.

I never feel particularly inclined to comment about dating unless it's not going well. Recently it's been going well -- well, mostly. I had thought. I can't say that it's going poorly but I'm not sure I'm the best at finding the line between being easy going and independent and tolerating bullshit. My hunch is that I usually think I'm being the former but am actually doing the latter.

I really want to get a cat. My apartment is no pets, but the landlord really likes me so I think there's a shot I could get one-- I just need to make sure I'll be in LA for the summer before I commit for the long haul. A couple of weeks ago I went to the pet store and looked at all sorts of accoutrements I could get for my cat-to-be. It was weird-- for the first time I understood what people who really want to have kids must feel like. I've always thought people who lust after goods for small people without jobs or appreciation of the jobs that pay for those goods were insane. Maybe cats are gateway dependents.

Monday, February 14, 2005

It's what's on the inside that counts.

I went to Pacific Palisades Elementary this afternoon to collect more data for my master's project. Pacific Palisades is the kind of place that makes you wonder if bad things ever happen there. Green-covered mountains are contrasted by bright flowers, manicured lawns, and yes, even picket fences. Beautiful parents pick up beautiful children from school in luxury minivans and SUVs. When I first arrived, I thought it must have been a field trip day because all the kids were wearing red shirts. Then I remembered it was Valentine's Day. Parents, also clad in pink and red, milled around, helping their kids carry valentines and that one extra cupcake from the class party. When I was in elementary school, we made receptacles for our valentines from either shoe boxes or brown lunch bags. These kids had valentines boxes on the scale of their parents' SUVs.

My favorite elementary school valentine was a Snoopy card from my 4th grade "boyfriend" Logan. The inside, inscribed with heavy pencil lead, read, "I still like you." Be still my beating heart! We had become boyfriend and girlfriend after an exchange of letters written on wide-ruled notebook paper which had been mounted on colored construction paper. I recall a consistent exchange of hand drawn pictures of horses during our courtship. The last time I saw Logan he was in law school, and, if I had to say, probably a Republican. I'm pretty sure the same fate befell my college boyfriend too, but he never drew me pictures of horses.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Putting the horse before the cart.

This morning I stopped by the Farmers' Market in Santa Monica. Farmers' Markets are pretty happy places -- free samples, fresh fruits and vegetables, live music, and delicious hot food. Kids. Parents. Young people. Old people. Everyone seems to have a good time-- well, almost everyone.

Apparently, according to the pony whisperers such as you see pictured, the ponies were not having a good time.

I'm all for free speech and for advocacy -- but protesting pony rides? Seriously? I mean, there's a war going on, social security is on the chopping block, and kids are letting their underwear show in Virginia.

I say animal lovers everywhere would do better to protest the repeal of a 30 year old ban that makes it okay now to capture and slaughter wild horses in the West. Fortunately, the American Horse Slaughter Prevention bill is currently before Congress. Personally, I think this would do more to further the equine cause than saving ponies from yuppie toddlers.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

My walk uphill in the snow.

The Thursday before last found me trekking over to the Biomed library in search of journal articles from the 80s. The pre-internet years. I had to make copies the old fashioned way. This is not a simple task. The Biomed library is nestled deep in the labyrinth of complex that houses the hospital, medical school, dental school, community health sciences, and the school of public health. The stacks are in the basement - this dark, weird annex that has study carrols that look like cages. The machines that dispense copy cards are only on certain floors and they have extremely conservative standards for discerning the difference between a wrinkled dollar and the old dry cleaning receipt it thinks you're trying to give instead.

After loading a card with money and locating one of the 30% of these archaic machines that work, one is free to make copies. One page of a time. No scanning. No collalating. No stapling. My concern with this system has nothing to do with the huge pain in the ass it is for me to get old articles. My concern is that this is the same procedure that medical students have to use if they're going to access journal articles written before 1994. Do they really jump through all of these hoops to get that classic 87 paper or are our future physicians asking Jeeves what to do about recurring kidney infections?

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

It's Monday that's supposed to suck, right?

Today was one of those days where each little annoyance that would normally become the lead feature of the 'guess what inconvenient thing happened to me today' segment kept getting usurped by some other inconvenience.

Tonight was one of those nights where I thought I could work just a tiny bit and that was okay because tomorrow's Thursday. Innocuous Thursday: one class, Spanish tutoring, The Apprentice, and my favorite - the day before Friday without the pressure to have dazzling social plans. The problem is that when the plague of minor irritations hit today, in addition to usurping the reign of the previous 'irritation of the day,' each one sucked away a little more of my waking hours. Everyday I make a list of stuff I want to do. Today "lunch" and "run" got crossed off. I'm not sure about much else. Sometimes I make the list when I'm still eating breakfast and checking my email and I include "get dressed." If you don't give yourself attainable goals, who will?

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Vive la Resistance!

I'm currently struggling with the appropriate extent to which I should complain about all things Franz Hall (i.e., school) in this venue. Only a choice few Franzsters read this, but you never know -- there may exist even better and more neurotic webstalkers than me. . .

So for now I'll say that my most recent gripe is when people take a perfectly sexy discipline, say, Social Psychology, and make it so fucking boring that I want to stick pencils in my eyes. Really, cool stuff can happen here-- social psych is the study of people's behavior in the actual, imagined, or implied presence of others -- who isn't riveted? Well, for starters me when people want to take the study of BEHAVIOR, that's INTERESTING, and turn it into a snoozefest about which old, stuffy geezer's model about how behavior might/could/possibly/during the third phase of the new moon work.

I felt themes of this complaint creeping into my meeting with my advisor today. Well, listen up, readers. I am going to fight the boring filter that seems to plague so many of my colleagues' research. I will not be drown in irrelevant rhetoric! I will study behavior! Actions! Verbs!

Whoever said there's no such thing as a free lunch?

What does that person have to say about free dinners?

Last night a couple of friends and I saw Modest Mouse at the Wiltern. Aside from feeling like I was at a Hillary Duff concert when they played "Float On," it was a great show.

Beforehand we had dinner at a Salvadorian place. For an appetizer I had a Pupusa, which, in addition to being fun and a little naughty-sounding to say, was delicious. It's like a warm, fluffy tortilla filled with whatever you want (cheese for me) and you eat it with salsa. Perhaps even better than the food was the part when the check came and one of the friends paid for our dinner -- I love surprises! Especially when it's free dinner!

I have to meet with my advisor about an experiment I want to do. Every other time we meet she keeps asking me if I've read this article or that article. Guess what, those articles are never relevant and I could've designed the same experiment 2 months ago. But now I believe in my design a little more and I'm ready to be an advocate for it. Hopefully this conviction will last through lunch.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Don't drink the water.

Last week everyone at UCLA got emails to only drink water from campus sources after it had been boiled for one minute. Everyone-- not just those enrolled in wilderness survival classes. Apparently the water was potentially contaminated because of a water leak. Anyone who has ever tasted the water fountain water could've told them that a long time ago. Signs all over affected buildings reminded us of the new water consumption rules:

What was really special about the water contamination scare was how the maintenance crew took extra special precauations to ensure that no one missing that familiar metallic hue in their diet could take the dangerous misstep of taking a swig from the fountains.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Who are you people?

For about a year I've been the trustee of a sweater I found in my old room at my parents' house. The sweater's ownership was called into question by my sister when we were home for Christmas. The case was brought before Her Reigning Supremeness (our mom) who declared me to be the rightful and sole owner of said sweater. Walking across campus today I saw a girl reading on the grass -- wearing the same sweater. Having a low threshold for excitement, I commented on this to the friend with me. Later, the same friend and I are having lunch and I see ANOTHER girl wearing the sweater. This sweater did not come from The Gap. I have never before seen anyone having this sweater and today I see two people in an hour.

Last week my phone rang. Here's what happened:
Me: Hello?
Male caller: May I speak to Kelly please?
Me: This is she.
MC: Oh, I'm sorry, I'm looking for Kelly [My last name]?
Me: Yes. I'm Kelly [My last name].
MC: But not Kelly [My last name] from Dallas?
Me: Nope.
MC: Sorry, I must have gotten the wrong number.

Weird, huh? Some other person (who I'm presuming is male if the person could tell from 3 syllables that I wasn't the one they wanted) lives in Los Angeles with my same name. Until now, there were two confirmed others with my same name: (1) a girl in Australia who tends to get upset when she gets my hotmails and (2) a guy from my sophomore roommate's hometown who has a special affinity for ceiling fans.

I'll let everyone get back to reflecting on the State of the Union Address. I, for one, will sleep better tonight knowing the president is committed to "preserving the sanctity of marriage." Right. Who doesn't love a little dose of intolerance on a lonely Wednesday night?

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

That's not my good side.

When you sign up for a locker or a class at the Wooden Center (the UCLA gym), you have to sign under the small print. In addition to the standard, "don't blame us if you die," clause, there's something about how you can be photographed at any time and this can come back to haunt you in the form of promotional material. I gave this some thought briefly last week when I noticed an unflattering poster-size photo of some guy climbing the rock wall.

Every Tuesday afternoon I spend a couple of hours in a ballet class at the Wooden Center. I take this class because I like how the teacher Sukka (a.k.a. "Kim" in her former life) tells us to stand through our strong, powerful legs, feel the earth beneath us, blah, blah, blah. I also think it might help me have better posture. I do not take this class in hopes of getting 'discovered' as the next recreation department brochure cover model. Surely you see where this is going, right? Yep, I show up to class today and what is happening but some dude in a navy polo shirt is snapping away with his big camera, complete with neck strap. Before class he mostly takes pictures of the lone guy in the class who very enthusiastically models all his favorite poses. Once class begins he gets some 'artsy' shots of the synchronous bar exercises. Okay, during ballet class I mostly think about 2 things, in this order: (1) is my underwear showing over the top of my dance pants and (2) what are we supposed to do next again? The addition of a camera ups the ante a little bit. How can I ever get any respect from my professors or my students if my underpants greet them every time they work out?