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.