Thursday, November 30, 2006

New Job Photos

Hello my fans! I know you have been eagerly awaiting my latest entry regarding my new job. It's going really well, and I wanted to share some photos with you.

This is my office. There are many like it, but this one is mine. Actually, it may be one of the smallest shared offices in the building.

This is my officemate Aaron. He is hard at work. Just look at those neck muscles bulge!

This is Larkin. She used to have my job, but she got promoted. She's been training me and she's very nice. She also has the nicest computer screen on our floor.

This is the outside of my building. Sometimes a homeless guy will camp out near the entrance. He has an interesting personality quirk: he likes to piss into a clear plastic Starbucks cup, then display it on the sidewalk like it's street art.

This is the entrance to Washington Harbor, a premiere waterfront venue with excellent restaurants and bars. It's about a 30-second walk from my building. When you are in the harbor, you have a perfect view of the Watergate and the Kennedy Center. I was too lazy to walk all the way down there to snap a photo.

This is the famous C & O Canal. This particular part is about a block from my building, and it's also a popular lunch spot. Sometimes, when I get to work early, I take a nice leisurely morning stroll along the Canal.

This is Georgetown, arguably the best shopping and dining area in DC. It's actually way cooler in real life, this is just a crappy photograph.

This is a restaurant that my cousin's friend supposedly owns. I took this picture for her.


This is an antique store on M street. I don't know the name of it, I just took a picture because it looked pretty.

This is Bridge Street Books, a cheap bookstore. A lot of the books on that table are 4 dollars or less.

For those of you who were wondering "Golly, where is Heather going to get her Raspberry Snapple fix?"


Finally, this is how I feel about my new job:

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Nothing But Blue Skies

Just a quick update.

My new job is going great.  I feel like my foot is firmly implanted within the door to my career.

Once I remember to bring a digital camera into the office, I will post pictures of my new digs.

Tomorrow I'm having lunch with my mother at Sequoia, which is right next to my new office.  I'm so excited!

Thursday, October 19, 2006


I promised myself I wouldn't be one of those people that starts a blog, keeps it up for a few months, then abandons it all together.  I ended up doing that with my trivia blog, but I will try not to do it with this one.

My main reason for updating is thus:


It's exactly the job I've been looking for and I couldn't be happier.  My next step is to find a moderately-priced apartment in the city.  Then all will be well.

In other news, the doctor has told me I have screwy cholesterol, so I've had to change my diet.  I don't eat much red meat, so my biggest problem is dairy.  I will miss it.  I also have to start exercising more.  However, this won't be as drastic a change as I will have to walk a mile each way between my new job location and the metro.

The day after I took the job offer, I realized just how much of my life had been devoted to finding a new job these past couple months.  I woke up the day after and realized that I could take my shower earlier because I didn't have to spend my allotted 20 minutes on craigslist.  I got home, went to my computer, stared at it realizing I didn't need to spend the evening on washingtonjobs or careerbuilder (I made myself apply for at least one job every day).  I now have much more time to devote to my hobbies.  Eventually I will buy a microphone and complete my New York Interactive essay.

This weekend I will be spending my newly gained free time reading, shopping, cleaning, and musing over my new life ahead of me.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006


I apologize for the uncreative title, but it actually perfectly sums up the theme of this entry.

I would like to say that I've found a fantastic new job and beautiful new apartment in the city.  Sadly, I have found neither thus far.

A couple weeks ago I went camping with some friends.  It had been the first time I had camped since I was about 9 years old. I like almost everything about camping.  I love the outdoors.   I love sitting around campfires with friends.  However, I cannot handle sleeping with other people.  I mean actually sleeping.  Not only am I a little sensitive to sound, but I also need room to spread out a bit.  I got about 2 hours of sleep that night.

The next day we decided to go for a high-grade hike.  I'm in horrible shape, so I stopped in the middle of it.  I climbed back down and decided to do a lower-grade hike on my own. I'm a bit of a geology nerd, so I decided to look for rocks, or as I like to call them, treasure.  I didn't find anything particularly noteworthy, but the forest was quite beautiful.  I felt very tranquil.

Last Saturday was Josh's birthday, so I took him out to dinner.  We went to P.F. Chang's, which wasn't that good.   The service was nice, however.  Unfortunately, Josh had come down with a sinus infection.  I ended up catching that infection, and I had to take Monday off as a sick day.

Work is having mandatory overtime hours this week, which has put a hindrance on my job search.  To help keep my morale up, I spend most of the day listening to The Ricky Gervais Show Podcast.  In case you don't know who he is,  Ricky Gervais was the star of "The Office" in the original  UK series.  He also co-wrote and co-directed the series with his writing partner, Stephen Merchant, who also appears on the podcast.  Most of the podcast consists of Ricky and Steve brow-beating the lazy-minded Karl Pilkington, the podcast's third member.

 This podcast is fucking hilarious, even if it does cost two dollars an episode.    I especially love it when Stephen Merchant tells his tales about his failings with females.

Finally, to keep myself from getting depressed, I have been writing fiction lately.  I wrote a story based off a writing prompt from a magazine.  The prompt was "A lawyer discovers that his client is guilty of the horrible crime for which he was just found innocent."

Unfortunately, I think the person who wrote this was not fully educated on our legal system.  Attorney-client privilege usually prevents this situation from happening.  Therefore, it was and extra hard story for me to work out.  I may post it later, after I do some thorough editing.

Friday, September 08, 2006

On the Border Off the Mark

Yesterday I had the strangest craving. I desperately craved empanadas, the Spanish pastry. However, this was quite odd as I had never had an empanada before. My coworker had eaten one weeks back, and it smelled delicious. A couple days after, I looked up empanadas on Wikipedia and found out that there are several varieties, most of which sounded tasty.

So fast-forward to yesterday, I'm absolutely famished. The nearest place that served empanadas was On the Border in Tyson's Corner, so we decided to go there. Many of my coworkers disapproved as they had all had bad experiences there. But my craving won out. I sat back and thought of a Mexican version of a samosa, and my mouth watered. I told Josh to meet me at the restaurant.

I should have listened to my coworkers.

The restaurant was really loud, so naturally, they got Josh's order wrong. Unfortunately, the empanadas were subpar. Also, our waiter had the most disturbingly prominent unibrow I'd ever seen. It looked like he had a fake mustache on his forehead. I'm not saying someone's facial appearance really affects performance, but it did affect my meal a bit. I inspected every bite of my black beans for fake mustache fibers.

Book Bash

About a week ago I finally finished American Gods by Neil Gaiman.  It took me the better part of the summer to finish it.  I found it very unimpressive, dreary, and unreactive.  The story is about a man named Shadow who, after being released from prison, gets recruited by a mysterious man named Wednesday for an even more mysterious assignment.  It turns out that Wednesday is involved in an underground network of familiar but forgotten characters: gods.  As it turns out, all the gods that mankind created are real, and they feed on faith.  Naturally, some of them are old and weak.  But Wednesday predicts that a major change is on the way, and he needs Shadow to help set his plan in motion.

I found the main character, Shadow, very hard to identify with due to his unquestioning, therefore dull, personality.  When he sees the fantastic acts that some of these gods perform, he is not overtly impressed or astounded.  In fact, for most of the book his character takes everything at face value.  At one point a woman changes the moon into a coin, and Shadow is no more reactive than if she pulled the coin  it out of her wallet.

Because Shadow's character is so static, the story, the strife, becomes either passionless or non-existent.  I felt like the whole book was told from the perspective of a robot.

Reading Wonder Boys has been a delightful departure from American Gods.  I bought the book about a two years ago after seeing the first half of the movie.  A week after buying it, the new David Sedaris book came out.  Wonder Boys was set aside, until now.  The first time I picked it up I was disengaged, but now I can't put it down.  I am halfway done, and I'm utterly enthralled with it.  Perhaps it is because I miss the University atmosphere.  Perhaps it is because I, like the main character Grady Trip, have also reached a creative crux.  I'm having no trouble identifying with this character.  He has a depth that is vast yet penetrable.  The book is also fucking hilarious.

In short, if I were a big sci-fi fan who didn't care at all about character development, I would have enjoyed American Gods.  I also would have finished it a lot quicker.

But since I do care about character development, I am in love with Wonder Boys.  I'm going through it four times as fast as American Gods.  When I finish, I will rewatch the movie.  To the best of my recollection, the parts I watched were quite good.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Lunch Time

I woke up on Saturday with an intense pain on my left elbow. The skin felt warm and raw, as if I had slept on a patch of sandpaper. I really didn't think much of it. Many cat owners may relate to this: I often wake up with mysterious scratches and my toes feeling raw from over-licking.

I went about my business normally. I showered, dressed and went to the store. As I was loading the groceries into my trunk, my elbow hit the side of the cart. I froze with pain, trying not to scream bloody murder. A little tear formed in the corner of my eye. My inner monologue was talking in elongated vowels. The pain was no longer like a rash. It was very small, localized, atomic bomb explosion of pain.

The pain eventually subsided, and I returned home. I put away the groceries, then I got back in my car and headed towards my aunt's house. I was due to spend the rest of the day with my cousin, Kimberly. We spent a few hours in the mall, then we decided to go see the Illusionist. We arrived at the theatre too late for our intended showing, and the next one wasn't for an hour and a half. We bought tickets to the later showing and decided to spend the remaining time in Barnes and Noble.

At Barnes and Noble, we looked for books to read to pass the time. Kimmy picked a book that was next in a series of books she was reading. It was something like a later teens version of The Babysitters Club. I found the book that I had been working at home, found the page that I had left off last night, and looked for one of the big broken-in chairs that speckled the bookstore. My cousin and I found two empty ones right next to one another. When I sat down my elbow brushed the arm of the chair. The localized erupting pain returned again. My inner monologue was more like a dialogue of two competing words: "SHIIIIIIIIIT" and "FUUUUUCK."

I manage to calm myself, and the pain somewhat subsided again. After an hour we left the bookstore and I decided to investigate what the hell was going on with my elbow. I got in my car and turned on the interior light. I pointed my elbow towards the rear-view mirror. The reflection astounded me. Sitting on the very edge of my elbow was a shiny, massive pimple. The mound was about the length of a dime in diameter. However, the whitehead atop it was rather small. It looked like a giant red boob with a tiny white nipple was growing from my arm.

I searched my car for anything that might dull the pain. I found some Burt's Bees hand salve, and decided that it was my best (and only) route. I spread it on the area, hoping it would not only soothe the redness, but also protect the area from further damage. The rest of the night I nursed my elbow. I mentally constructed a protective bubble around it, avoiding anything that may harm it. It was as if I had lost all use of my left arm. Through all this pain and prevention, I was not prepared for what I would view the next day.

I tried with great diligence to ignore the inflamed tit that was protruding from my arm. Around 7 PM, I couldn't take the pain any longer. I went into the bathroom and aimed my elbow at the mirror yet again. I nearly vomited at what I saw.

While the mound had stayed the same size, the head had grown to thrice its size. What was once a tiny breast now looked more like white-pupiled eyeball spring forth from my flesh. I felt that if I let it stay there any longer, it would start winking at me. It had to die.

I covered the area with a slathering of Neosporin. I then began to put pressure on both sides of the monster. It wouldn't give. After about five minutes or so of pushing I came to a horrid realization. The only way this thing would give would be by needle point.

My boyfriend fetched me a thumbtack, which I sterilized by running under hot water. I very gently felt my way around the area, familiarizing myself with it. I found the central point, aimed the needle and applied the slightest bit of pressure. The zit gave like a balloon filled too much milk. I envisioned Medusa breastfeeding her demon spawn. The pimple gave with no pain and minimal coercion from the needle. I absorbed the lacteous ooze with a Wet Wipe. I again slathered the crater with Neosporin. To help with the swelling, I covered the area in toothpaste and then took an Advil. Finally, I covered the area with a band aid.

Now it is the next day, and I'm grateful to have full motion back in my left arm. I am able to carelessly sit in my armchair and surf the Internet. Never shall I forget the day that my elbow was seized by a ravenous, boil-like mound of evil. If you ever wonder what it feels like, try rubbing your elbow raw with a sander, then casually lie it on a bed of magma-hot nails.

Thursday, August 31, 2006


This is the video I made for my brother for his 21st birthday. It showcases his many talents.

Friday, August 25, 2006

A New Hobby

Lots and lots of stuff has been going on lately. I have so many loose ends to tie up. Things should calm down once the semester starts and everyone goes back to school.

I will be posting another video soon. I cannot post it now because I do not want certain people to see it until after Saturday. I'm having a big unveiling for it at a party. I think it may be my greatest achievement yet.

Until then, I leave you with this:

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Ocean City 2005

When I was uploading the video from my recent vacation, I found a way to make a music video quickly.

So I finally got around to making a music video from last year's vacation video. Here is the result.

You may be wondering about the dance my cousin Brad (or rather, just his hips) is doing throughout the video. It's an imitation of the dancing technique by our other cousin Marco, whose sexuality is in question.

Saturday, August 12, 2006


Yesterday was a very weirdly melancholy day. On my way to work I got stuck behind a hearse in a funeral procession. On the same route there was a dumptruck who cut me off. Before I could exclaim any expletives, I noticed that there was a vintage Winnie-The-Pooh bear tied to the back gate of the truck. I can't for the life of me fathom why anyone would tie such a precious object to the back of a dumptruck. It made me think of the first stuffed animal I had; a cat avante-gardely named "Cat."

Then, I didn't think of lost childhood or dwell on the emotional emptiness of adulthood. It started to rain, and I thought of how that stuffed bear's intrinsic ebay value is just plummeting.

So much for avoiding disillusionment.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Back and Black, err Tan

I got back from Ocean City, Maryland last Tuesday. I'm still finding sand in weird places.

My vacation was rather terrific. I say this with content stoicism, because my vacations there are almost always perfect. This is not to say that the weather has always been perfect or something hasn't gone wrong. It's just that, unlike any other place in the world, the good experiences vastly overshadow the bad. Hell, even a bad experience can be easily molded into a good one. For instance, there was a 20-minute thunderstorm during dinnertime (we normally eat outside). We just waited for it to subside and then ate dinner. In the meantime I filmed my brother and my cousin run around the house in their bathing suits.

As they say, a picture is a worth a thousand words. So here are a couple thousand words:

The Cast:

My youngest cousin, Kimmy.

Her older brother, Brad.

Their mother, my Aunt Kathy.

My brother, Chris.


The weather, beautiful.

I had to test the zoom function on my camera.

My brother gets artistic with sunscreen.

As does my cousin with his towel.

We ate outside for nearly every meal. So, naturally, many flies joined us.

After I snapped these photos, I decided to test the flip screen by taking some self-potraits, which I combined into the following collage:

I take full responsibility for your nightmares for the rest of your life.

More to come later.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Internet Gems

Some may say that the Internet is making people stupid. Others may say that the Internet just gives voice to a wide variety of people who were already stupid. Either way, many Internet forums are full of delicious chunks of idiocy.

I frequently visit Yahoo! Answers to provide information on a variety of subjects. I don't consider myself an expert in all subjects, but I am well versed in a few. On many occasions I've come across a real whopper of a question. Aside from the terrible grammar the fact that nearly 90 percent of the questions asked could be easily answered by a Wikipedia search, some of them are a total waste of cyberspace. Here are some examples:

How long can a normal, healthy 8 week old kitten survive inside an adult python? URGENT?

wuz up my people n-t wayz is it normal for your cat to run all over the place and rollla round?

Why must chunky women chuckle after everything they say?

Not even a real question: men are more intelligent and skillful than women in art performance and contribution?

PLEASE HELP! I taped my cats paws because he wouldn't stop scratching. Now, how do I remove the tape?

Do you love Oprah? Would you like to give her a kiss?

who do u fink is the sexiest my nxt door nebor vc becks jordan brit spears jess simpson maria carey nikk grm?

And the finale, courtesy of Ali G: does people hate people wen they do some in to them ?

If you need to laugh some more, go to Uncyclopedia (Wikipedia spoof site) and hit random article.

Monday, July 17, 2006

The Non-Daily Blurb

Courtesy of The Honking Goose:

"Using logic in an arguement with a conservative is like having a billboard that says 'If you're illiterate, call this number...'"

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Yay for Technology

I am in my backyard watching a butterfly nurse from a honeysuckle as Coltrane plays lightly in the background. These are the reasons why laptops were invented. I can sit here and blog about the world as the sun gently warms my skin while I see two hummingbirds play a version of king of the mountain on my honeysuckle bush.

Last night I went to see a special event . It was an event that could awaken the inner nerd in even the dumbest of jocks. Conductor Emil De Cou and the NSO hosted an event called "To Boldly Go": a musical journey through science fiction and astrology. The first half featured the scores from the most popular sci-fi films and TV shows, not limited to Star Wars, Star Trek, Superman, Bride of Frankenstein, and The Twilight Zone. There is nothing like hearing and seeing a live orchestra. The sound is so perfect and so powerful, it shivers your spine for you.

The evening also featured two special guests. During the first half of the show, we were introduced to Carl Walz, a NASA astronaut who holds the record for most consecutive days spent in outer space.

The second half was an audio-visual presentation of Gustav Holt's "The Planets," featuring live narration by none other than Leonard Nimoy. There are few men remaining in this world who are as articulate and debonair as the 75-year-old Nimoy. He delivered a whimsical anecdote for each movement of the piece with grace and austerity. After each anecdote, the music played as NASA images of the planets where shown on a big screen. Some of these images had never been shown to the public before. We had lawn seats, so we nestled back and let the music and images take us away. Whilst the first half shock my spine and boiled my blood, the second half calmed my nerves and stilled my heart.

Tonight I am going to see Pirates of the Caribbean. Tomorrow is preparation for an event on Monday: my first interview for this job hunt season.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Employment Deployment

I love witty, rhyming titles.

I have a lot going on right now. I am looking for a new job. I actually started looking for a new job last fall. I had a few interviews, including one with The Atlantic Monthly. Unfortunately, I did land a new job in time. We have busy seasons at my current job, and I promised my boss that if I had not found a new job by the time the spring busy seasons started, I would stay on for one more season. By late February I had not found a new job, and the search was put on hold.

The search is now going full blast. My goal is to find a job in the heart of DC. That way, I can move into the city and just walk or take the Metro everywhere. However much my rent may increase, I will probably save that much by not paying for gas.

In the meantime, I've been looking for writing outlets to keep myself motivated. I've got a few freelance gigs lined up. I've also been submitting my fiction and humor pieces to a variety of publications.

I also have been working extensively on my photo essay. I worked on it this past weekend when I was forced to visit The Outhouse (see my previous entry). I also have some ideas for future blog entries, and there is also my vacation time to look forward to. As long as I keep myself motivated, I won't lose hope with this job search.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Vacation Proclamation

About a week ago, I received some welcoming news. I found out that my family had been granted vacation time this summer at my favorite place in the world; a very modest cottage on the east coast.

A bit of back-story is required. This house belongs to our distant cousins Uncle Frank and Aunt Gina. They have been planning to tear down the cottage and rebuild another for a couple of years now. It has been implied that once the house is torn down, our part of the family would no longer get vacation time there. This has been hinted at for one main reason.

A few years ago my mother and her siblings bought their own vacation home. Since we have our own resort now, we shouldn't take vacation time from Gina and Frank's family. There is a big problem however: I don't really care for the vacation home my family bought. I know I sound like a spoiled brat for saying this, but hear me out.

There are several reasons why I don't like it. For simplicity's sake, we’ll call Frank and Gina's place Utopia, and my family's place The Outhouse.

The Outhouse is in the middle of nowhere. It is bordered by nothing more than farms. They bought it cause it was a cheap waterfront property. However, the thrifty attitude was short-lived. You can't spend more than a weekend there because you would go insane. My family tried to curb this boredom by dumping money into it. The water that it is on is a shallow, stagnant creek. You cannot swim in it. You need an aquatic vehicle to take you out to the main water. They bought jet skis, a hot tub, a boat, canoes and a paddleboat. Now this may seem enticing, my mom has forbidden me from using most of these objects. Without the boat, we cannot go out into the open water to swim. The water vehicles are necessary to engage aquatic play. To do anything worthwhile is a trek, including going to the store (a 45 minute drive).

Lastly, the place does not have Internet. This normally would not matter for me at a vacation home, except that there is nothing to do there. Also, the only way I could see myself using this place would be as a writing seclusion. Unfortunately, most of my writing requires research on the Internet, so there is pretty much no reason for me to go there.

Utopia is almost the complete opposite of The Outhouse. It has none of the aforementioned amenities of The Outhouse, and this is a good thing. "Why," you ask? Because it doesn't need any of those silly frills.

The house is just a one-minute walk from the beach on the Atlantic Ocean. All you need to enjoy the water is a bathing suit and a boogie board. It is so blissfully simple. You barely need a car down at this place. Almost everything is in walking distance. There is a plethora of bars, restaurants and attractions, all within close proximity. Additionally, if you just want to relax and have a peaceful night at home, the house has a beautiful and quiet backyard. When we are down there, we spend more time in the backyard than in the house.

Utopia is so simplistic it is downright charming. The house has no washer/dryer, no dishwasher, and one of the two full bathrooms is on the outside of the house. When you are down there, you realize how meaningless some of the "modern conveniences" are. There is little need for a washer/dryer in a vacation home. We make of game of washing our own dishes. Few people will ever know the pleasure of watching a mother bird feed her babies and listening to the ocean breeze while taking a shower. When I'm at the house, I feel closer to the city life, to nature and to my family.

When I'm up there, I couldn't give a flying frock about not having Internet access. There is so much to do to keep myself occupied. Plus, there is an Internet cafe in walking distance.

But most importantly, it is where all my best childhood memories were made. It's the place where our family walnut tree is planted. It's the place where my late grandfather and I used catch crabs off the dock across the street. It's the place where he taught me how to solve crossword puzzles. The boardwalk is the place where I would play skeeball until the whole family was completely out of quarters. It was the last place my cousins got to spend time with their loving father, my Uncle Mark. He died of a heart attack a day after driving home. When I'm there, I feel closer to my Uncle Mark and my Poppop. It's the place where I walk the beach at night, and I feel a hint of the eternal peace that they now dwell in.

So back to last week's news. Up until last week, I was sure that last year was going to be our final year in Utopia. When I found out, I was very excited, but apprehensive. I was pretty sure I had found out too late. My boss told me that we had to request our summer vacation time several months in advance. Nevertheless, I requested a week off, and to my luck it was granted. As it turns out, no one else had asked for time off that week, so it was one of the few weeks in the summer that wasn't blacked out.

So here I am now, stocking up on sunscreen and bug spray. I've already started packing, even though the trip is weeks away. I'm excitedly counting down the days.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The Miracle City, PART 1 OF 3

Up until last March, I had never been to New York City. This fact often amazes people when I tell them. "Oh really? That is surprising. You seem like someone who would fit right in there."

No, I had never been. New York was like this distant relative I had never visited, despite the relative bearing a striking resemblence. I never had a reason to travel to New York. I've been all over the States, visited Canada, seen London, Paris, Sicily and Rome. As a child I traveled with my family. In more recent years I would travel alone to visit friends. The bulk of my trips in my younger years centered around my mother's business travel. She had no business contacts in New York City. We have no family there. For the longest time, this city was a big void on my social map.

It wasn't until 4 years ago that I evolved a small social connection to the city. I met Oliver, who later became one of my best friends. His sister and brother-in-law live in New York. Finally, a string tied me to New York. It was last November that the string was pulled.

I was surfing the Internet at work one day. I entered a search for David Sedaris, one of my favorite writers and brother of Amy Sedaris, one of my favorite comedians. I stumbled upon The Steven Barclay Agency, which represents some of the finest American literary talents. The page for David Sedaris listed a plethora of upcoming tour dates, yet the closest appearance was in Wilmington, Delaware. The next closest appearance was in, you guessed it, The Big Apple. He was set to appear in New York's Town Hall on March 31, 2006. Coincidentally, I was also set to receive a hefty tax return. I now had the means and the motive to finally see the greatest city in the world. Now it was just a matter of time and planning.

The tickets had not gone on sale yet, but I knew they would go fast as soon as they became available. I emailed a few friends, including Oliver, proposing that we make a weekend of it. I warned them to buy tickets as soon as they could, and provided all the necessary information. Oliver was a definite go; he loves David Sedaris, and his sister would provide him a free place to stay. I also invited Jay, who lives in upstate New York. He was also a definite go, being that he loved the city. My other friends expressed initial interest, but they swayed toward the negative in the end. I bought two tickets (for myself and Jay) to the appearance as soon as they were available. This was in November of last year, a full 5 months before the event. Luckily, I had the holiday season and an upcoming wedding to keep myself occupied.
Over the next few months, I became increasingly excited. At first my thoughts were just consumed with the idea of seeing David Sedaris. Eventually the other factors of the trip crept into my thoughts. Not only would I be seeing my favorite writer, I would be going on trip with my best friend in the great city of New York.

I tried to quell this rising excitement, telling myself I didn't want to "jinx it." This has happened with many of my travel experiences. I have built up such a fantastic version of my forthcoming trip in my mind that nothing could possibly live up to it. I think this may have been why I was not overtly impressed with Rome (though my family's drunken lewdness may have played its part). I kept telling myself to not over do it this time, to kind of just let things happen and to be a sponge, rather than a critic, of the experience. I decided to leave myself mentally unprepared for all the glamour of the city. I knew, however, at the very least I would be hanging out with people I always have a good time with. That was the only emotional investment I knew wasn't in any way risky.

So time dwindled down, and the day of reckoning has arrived. March 31, 2006. I parked my car in Oliver's parent's driveway, where we departed at about 11 am. The first thing I did in the car was take a really stupid picture of myself.

Then, I took a picture of Oliver with my fat finger blocking the lens.

We made exceedingly good time, despite having stopped for lunch at Sbarro's and me buying sunglasses (which I lost less than 24 hours later). We listened to a mixed CD I had made the night before. It had all my favorite uplifting beats, which were not limited to Running with the Devil by Van Halen, Takin' Care of Business by BTO and The Only Living Boy in New York by Simon and Garfunkel. When that CD was done, we switched to the Rolling Stones, and then we eventually listened to Oliver's mixed CD of Ween songs.

We got in town around three o'clock via the Lincoln tunnel. Oliver dropped me off and I checked into the Ramada Plaza New Yorker, which is right across the street from Madison Square garden. Fans of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy would be pleased to know that my hotel room number was 42. Well, technically it was 2942, but who's counting.

When I got into my hotel room I noticed two things. The first was that the room was so small the only way I could reach the window was by crawling over the bed. The second was that the bathroom door handle was broken. The inside doorknob would not turn, meaning it would lock me inside if I closed the door all the way. I realized that I would have to use the bathroom with the door open. At this point I thanked the Lord that at the last minute I told Jay he couldn't crash in my room.

I threw my bag into my cubby-sized hotel room and then did some lone-sightseeing. I had picked this hotel because of its close proximity to the theatre district and Times Square, so I decided to head there.

Years of TV and movie viewing had left me desensitized to the overwhelming number of advertisements in this area. The one thing I was not prepared for was the sea of humanity.

I had to struggle to take some more pictures because I felt like I was moving against the tide.

I looked at the advertisements for Cup O' Noodles and Budweiser, and sudddenly I realized I was famished.

I decided to head back to the hotel, grab some food, and get ready for the Sedaris event. There was a cozy little diner in the same building as my hotel. It was an old fashioned place that had tuna melt specials and nonstop cups of coffee. I don't drink coffee, but I thoroughly enjoyed my tuna melt.

As the waitress was delivering my second Diet Pepsi, a man the size of a small bulldozer walked past and sat in the booth behind me. He started talking on his cell phone and didn't stop for the duration of my time there. The man had a voice so deep and so phlegmy, it was a bit like listening to a tuba underwater. As he continued talking on his phone, his voice became more melodic. It reminded me of a Gregorian chant. It calmed me as I was turning the pages “The Adventures of Kavalier and Clay,” by Michael Chabon. I remembered how not less than an hour ago I felt like a human buoy in a sea of confusion. Now I felt a peaceful stillness. I paid my check and left a generous tip.

I went to my room, washed my face, changed my clothes, and left for Town Hall. I walked back towards Times Square and the theatre district. I felt more confident this time round. I knew I was ready for some fun.

Please stayed tuned for part 2...

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Death Becomes Him: A Review of Christopher Moore's "A Dirty Job"

Publisher: William Morrow, HarperCollins
Year: 2006
Genre: Fiction
Where to buy: Barnes and Noble.
Retail Price: $23.95

Charlie Asher is a quiet, unassuming, 35-year-old, white, American worrywart. He’s about to have the best and worst day of his life. He is married to the love of his life who has recently made him a father. Even more recently, unfortunately, she has also made him a widower. Since the death of his wife, his life changed in ways that no one would ever think to imagine. It all starts when he finds his wife (apparently sleeping) in her hospital room with a tall black man in a green suit lurking over her body. When Charlie asks the man what he is doing there, the man simply replies, “You can see me?”

Charlie is baffled by this response, but quickly moves to the unusual stillness of his wife. Their newborn baby in is crying in her rigid arms. Charlie calls in the nurse, turns to look back at the man. The man, like Charlie’s wife’s life, has vanished as quickly as he came.

This is only the first of many strange occurrences that Charlie is about to encounter. Two weeks later, Charlie witnesses a complete stranger get run over by a bus. Seconds before, Charlie had seen the man at an ATM machine and noticed something very peculiar; the man’s umbrella is glowing bright red. As if experiences of two deaths are not insane enough, Charlie realizes one more oddity: Despite never meeting the man before, Charlie automatically knows the man’s full name: William Creek.

Throughout the remainder of the novel, Charlie learns, very slowly, that he has been drafted into a very morbid office. He is now a Death Merchant. He is responsible for collecting red-glowing soul vessels (inanimate objects that bear the souls of the recently deceased) and redistributing them to the public. Luckily, Charlie owns a second-hand thrift store. He also learns that he has been drafted into another unwanted area: the dating scene.

As weird as becoming a Death Merchant is, even stranger things start happening. Things that even other Death Merchants have not witnessed before. Dark voices loom in the sewers, and they seem to be growing louder. A mysterious blue-eyed woman starts hording soul vessels. It appears that something big and ominous is around the corner.

With all this talk of death, it’s hard to believe that this book will keep you in a fit of laughter. Christopher Moore handles the idea of death admirably, adding the genuine humor that comes to us in times of need. The book presents a plethora of unique characters, ranging from a 7-foot-black male named Minty Fresh to Charlie’s androgynous lesbian sister. The characters and the plot are equally far-fetched, but neither is forced nor artificial.

This book, however, is not without a few flaws. Only two really caught my eye. The first was the cover. I fear saying this may give away too much but, well, the cover gives away too much. The second flaw is that the climax of the book takes place within the last fifty pages. There is a big plot lull between Charlie’s coming-of-age-story-as- a-Death-Merchant and the book’s final discovery. But the lull is not with out its entertaining qualities.

This book works on many levels for many readers. Whether you are single, dealing with the death of a loved one, or you just want a good laugh, this book can help fill that void. It will give you many big laughs, a few small tears. Occasionally, it will even give you dating advice.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

The Daily Blurb (Supersized Edition)

Sometimes I often think about turning my life into some kind of social experiment.

For example, I often wonder if Scientologists are really out to get money. Something tells me that if I dressed up as a homeless person and showed up at their church, they would turn me away. Just to double prove my theory, I would tape a hundred dollar bill to my back to see if they change their minds.

Seriously though, I often think about engaging myself into human sociological experiments, not unlike ethnographies. If given the chance, I would investigate homegrown cultures. By homegrown I mean American subcultures. I would love to study the "Dupont Circle gay culture" in D.C., or the overwhelming Jewish culture in New York City. What interests me is that often with members of these groups is not just how they are different than me, but how incredibly similar they are. We might have the same tastes in foods or laugh at the same jokes. At the same time, I don't know half of their cultural history and will never taste the oppression they may have gone through.

When conducting a homegrown ethnography, there is always the stark contention between similarities and differences. This could potentially make the investigative process more challenging.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Photo Essay Problems

So this NYC photo essay I've been trying to churn out for the past two months is going to be very, very long. When I realized that it was going to be that long, I thought about doing it not as a blog entry, but as it's own website. I wanted it to look like a mix between my hypertext project and Slate's Interactive Essays. My plans seemed to grow wildly, like a thrash of English ivy. In fact, they grew so wildly that the actual writing of the essay became stifled.

Another obstacle also came into view. In order to accomplish this photo essay as a side project, I would need to use Flash. Not only do I not have this program, I have no idea how to use it. So my idea had to be trimmed back. I had to clear my mental palette to see what my original product looked like. I then realized that my product was sadly neglected. The writing of the essay had been all but abandoned.

So I've decided to again do it on this blog. However, I've decided to spread it over several blog entries, like a series. It will probably be about three entries. The first will be posted very soon.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

The Daily Blurb

This one is courtesy of some random chick on myspace who decided to send me a message for god knows what reason:

"you dont know me, but if you ever want to parade around in a moustache i think that would be awesome and i'd love to do it with you. "

Everybody knows I only wear my moustaches in private.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Summer Time, The Livin' Ain't Easy

This image has nothing to do with this post. Some guy had posted it on forum. His friend had it taped on the back of his bathroom door. It made me spit out my Mountain Dew.

A lot has been going on lately. I've got three people's birthdays to plan for (two best friends and my aunt). I helped my mom do some yardwork last weekend. I completely landscaped a large flower bed of hers, and it looks gorgeous. I will post some pics as soon as I get them. Also some trips to look forward to, planning to move near the end of the summer, and other miscellaneous crap.

My cat's eye looks a lot better, but it has not completely cleared up.

I may be writing a book review for the City Paper, we will see how that goes.

One area that has suffered lately is my reading habits. I used to read about a book every two weeks. About three weeks ago I picked up a book called The Darwin Conspiracy. I abandoned it after about twenty pages because it bored me to tears. I haven't really picked up anything else since then except for The Onion.

I have this habit of abandoning books if they don't keep me interested through the first two chapters. A lot of people might consider this a waste, like walking out of a movie. I have never walked out of a movie. The difference between a bad book and a bad movie is that the movie only takes away two hours of your life, while a bad book can rob you of whole weeks. Plus if I walk out of a movie, I can't walk back in a couple weeks later for free. I can always return to a bad book, and I have at certain times. I had an on-again-off-again relationship with Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides. I made myself keep reading it and to try to think it was good, because The New York Times told me so. I gave up halfway through the 550 page book. It took a week during my beach vacation to get only that far. I felt I'd been robbed of good beach reading.

Buying books can be a tricky business. If you buy a bad new book, you've wasted enough money that could have covered two movies. My only consolation is that someday someone will pay me to read these bad books and write even worse reviews.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

More Trivia Stuff, Cat Problems

I have updated this blog as much as I liked to. I have been focusing a lot of my energy on getting The Trivia Exchange off the ground. Right now it isn't generating very much traffic.

I woke up yesterday morning to find that my poor cat's right eye had swollen up and was leaking this milky discharge. I made a vet appointment and took him over during a late lunch break. I now have to administer both oral antibiotics and eyedrops. As sweet as he is, my cat does not like being forced to take medication. I have some puncture wounds on my hand to prove it. I get slightly mad, but then I realize that he doesn't know what I'm doing to him.

I have to take him again on Thursday to make sure the sure the eyedrops are working.

Paying for these vet visits made me think of how much it costs to take care of my cat. I don't think of him as a financial burden. I was just wondering in case something happened to me. For instance, in my hypothetical will I bequeath my cat to someone, say my brother. How much extra should I bequeath my brother to cover Joey's expenses?

He eats a very expensive diet food which costs $33 for 10 pounds. It is literally called the "CATkins diet." The vet even called it that. I was flabbergasted by this. I hate trend diets. But I later read that since cats are carnivores, a diet like this works realistically. Still, the name makes the diet sound really lame.

I usually buy a 10 pound bag at a time. That amount lasts him for exactly 100 days. So his food budget is somewhere in the vicinity of $106 per year. His litter costs $10 a month, or about $120 dollars a year. Vet visits (regular checkups and sickness visits) average around $200 per year. A scratching post, catnip and toys don't add up to more than 50 bucks a year. So I spend around 500 bucks a year to fully care for my cat.

That seems like a lot, but people pay the same for gym memberships that they never use. A two pack a day smoker spends 4 times that amount per annum on cigarettes. Raising a child is 55 times more expensive.

While the yearly expenses are minimal when spread out, sometimes they can all pile-up at once. I save some money every month just in case of such a pile-up.

I am still working on my New York City photo essay. It's going to be so long; I'm not quite sure if this blog can handle it. I might have a site that supports photo essays, if only for this one time. I would love to be able to do something that looks like Slate's Interactive Essays. I'm sure there is something like that out there. Hopefully it will be free.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Augusten Burroughs

Yesterday I went to an Augusten Burroughs' lecture at the Smithsonian Ripley Center. It was very low key; the room didn't seat more than 300 people. He read an essay from his new book, then answered a ton of audience questions. I asked him if he still kept in contact with anyone from the family he grew up with. He said no.

Afterwards there was a book signing. I managed to be one of the first people in line. He signed my book with an Artist-Formerly-Known-as-Prince-like insignia, and I told him to enjoy DC. He was incredibly polite, and I was astounded by this. I always feel in these situations that I'm imposing on people I respect, and therefore I expect some curtness. So as much as I wanted to sit and chat, I just paid him a pleasantry. However, he seemed to enjoy every moment. I had to respect him even more for that.

Even though I want to be a successful writer, I feel that I would be a giant jerk to my fans. Well, maybe I wouldn't. I would want to help those that are struggling to make it, cause that is where I am now. But at the same time, if I had his popularity, I feel that there would be a lot of imposers. By this I mean people who are overzealous and think that there are no other fans but them.

Before the lecture started I asked the staff about the book signing. They said that due to time constraints, he would not be doing personal signings. When I sat down, I heard the woman next to me talking about all the things she was going to have him sign (tickets, all her books, etc). I told her that he would not be doing personal signings. She gave me a look of disdain. "Oh I can make him, " she said. "I drove all the way from Whereversville to see this!" She really was expecting him to personally sign all her paraphenalia, forgetting the fact that there were 200 other people waiting to get their book signed. It would also probably put Augusten and his people behind schedule. But she didn't care. It was as if he was there just for her.

I kind of hope he told her to screw off. But I bet he did what she wanted, only slightly begrudgingly. I hope she was the last person in line. I also hope that she fell down and open manhole upon exiting the Ripley Center.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

For Trivia Buffs

I started a trivia blog!

Please visit and participate.

Right now there is a "Test" round posted. This is to give participants a taste of what the quizzes will be like.

The first real round will feature a real (but modest) prize to be announced after the test round is over.

Good Luck!

Saturday, May 20, 2006

My Aunt's (and my) Favorite Clothing Catalogue

A few years back I was over at my Aunt's house for dinner. We were making casual conversation, and at some point the discussion of male clothing came up. I believe one of my cousins said, "have you seen the catalogue that mom gets in the mail?"

My aunt rolled her eyes and said, "The kids keep making fun of me cause of this catalogue I like to look at. It's a catalogue for men's clothing, and all the men are goodlooking and wearing nice clothes. So naturally the kids think this catalogue is made for homosexuals."

She then got up from the table and went over to her little mail center, picked up the most recent copy she had seen and handed it to me. "Just look through it. You will like it, all the men are gorgeous. I can't believe they think that it's for gays."

The first thing I see when I open the catalogue is this:

I thought I was hallucinating. It was like my brain had projected onto the page one of the images that automatically comes up when I think of "fruity." I shook my head, realizing the image was real. The catalogue labeled it as the "Ultimate Poet's Shirt." I thought a better label would have been "Ultimate (Butt)Pirate's Shirt." Now, I am friends with several gay people. None of them would wear anything resembling this. This type of clothing is a reserved for a special, effeminate group of males, most of whom are probably gay. But, I was still willing to give the benefit of the doubt. I thought perhaps maybe this might have been a joke, a little nod to the pirate shirt episode of Seinfeld. I continued on.

Ok, well, there was a definite 1980s George Michael theme in the next couple of pages. So what, I thought. Freedom 90 is like one of my favorite songs. Besides, a lot of men dressed like this in the 80s. Maybe this catalogue is just a little behind the times.

Well there's just no explaining these, is there?

But hey, every catalogue has got to diversify. It would be boring without a few risque products.

I mean it's not like any of them are wearing tight fitting women's cloth--

Errrrr....... ummmm........hmm.


I had to concede to my cousins. There was something a little fishy about this catalogue. A bit too much lace, and a bit too much ballsac. Even men who are completely comfortable with their heterosexuality would squirm at this.

Not me, however. Be these men gay or straight, masculine or effeminate, I find it all 100 %

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Monday, May 15, 2006

The (Sort of) Daily Blurb

Sometimes I think that mental illness doesn't really exist. Instead, some people just don't get their own jokes. For instance, lets say I utter the following in passing to freak people out:

My dog controls my thoughts.

Eventually I forget that I was joking, and I wait for directions from my dog.

Then I would think:

What would a dog normally tell me to do? Probably sniff strangers' butts, bark at nothing and eat my own feces. Sounds like fun to me!

Next thing I know, I am in an mental institution. I constantly slobber and I only respond to the word "sit." All because I told a joke.

Of course this can't be true. Mental illness is serious business, and I shouldn't be joking about it. Or am I really joking?

Friday, May 12, 2006

Congratulations to (Enrique)?

Congratulations to e for winning the trivia contest! Even though he was the only one to answer, he still got a very high percentage (3/5)!

Here are the answers:

1) What movie is this screen capture from? Joe Vs the Volcano.

2) What reproductive structure do marsupials lack? A placenta.

3) Name the photographer of this picture. Nick Knight.

4) If you took a Pyrex dish, filled it with vegetable oil, and placed another Pyrex dish in it and filled that with oil, what would happen (other than a possible overflow of oil)? (updated)

It will disappear!

5) In The Da Vinci Code, what were the messages within the cryptex written on? Papyrus.

I will be contacting the winner somehow to give them their lame prize. Another trivia quiz will be posted at a later date. I encourage ALL to participate.