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Monthly Archives: September 2011

ALIVE. With ANSWERS.

Every once in a while, something happens that causes me to disappear completely. Nobody sees me except for Mike and the people who see me in class and usually the barista at the Starbucks near school. (Which I can’t explain, because I don’t even do caffeine. I should cut that shit out.)

School starting is one of those things that happens that causes this. For the past few weeks, I have been overwhelmingly busy with homework and this neat new internship I’m doing. On the days that I’m not doing one of those things, it’s because my brain broke down and can’t handle to do anything other than sit on the couch and stare at the NCIS marathon that is inevitably playing on USA, or obsessively read through the archives of Overcompensating, or find out that there’s this book series called The Hunger Games that I somehow missed out on and then accidentally read the entire series in two days and then refuse to acknowledge any inquiries as to whether I cried at the end. I’m kind of a book addict. Sorry. P.S. Anyone who comments with a spoiler will get hunted down by one of my trained assassins, just in case someone else hasn’t read them and wants to.

TL;DR: I’ve been super busy, and on the days that I’m not super busy, I’m fucking lazy. Also kind of burnt out. And really all that’s going through my head most of the time is that I love one of my professors and hate the other, and if I’m honest with myself, you don’t want to read about that.

I’m trying to start keeping a list of things worth blogging about as they come into my head so I’ll at least be able to think of something when it occurs to me that I should write a blog post. If you have any suggestions, I’m willing to take them, but no promises.

Anyway. You’re probably wondering about that “with ANSWERS” thing up there, aren’t you? No? You think I was referring to everything I just told you about why I suck at updating my blog when I also have other things to do? Well then you’re WRONG. (Thought that would be a very reasonable conclusion to draw. Now that I think of it.) I discovered these questions that some dude who was French and had a TV show used to ask every guest he had. They seemed fascinating. They are called PIVOT’S QUESTIONS and I thought I would answer them for you, so here goes.

(Are you excited? I’m excited.)

What is your favorite word?
Do people actually have favorite words? That’s news to me. Does it have to be in English? I wonder how Pivot would have reacted if someone’s favorite word had been in Klingon or something. (I won’t judge you if your favorite word is in Klingon. I just think he would have.) Okay. Mine’s schadenfreude. Which is German but is also technically in English dictionaries now so I guess it’s both. If you’re not familiar with it, it means “happiness at the misfortune of others,” and if you want to really understand it, you should go listen to this song from Avenue Q. You’ve felt it before.

What is your least favorite word?
Chunk.

What turns you on, excites, or inspires you creatively, spiritually, or emotionally?
Books. Good books can do anything the above question implies. Though most of the stuff I ready is too dystopian to actually, y’know. Turn me on.

What turns you off?
In the middle of the night, a train pulls up to a quietly sleeping city. The sounds emanating from the train gradually wake everyone. Just as they’re getting out of their cozy and safe houses to investigate, the train’s passengers burst out. Clowns. But not just any clowns. Fucking clowns. And I mean that literally. A fucking clown train. And I have some very special people to thank for this very specific mental image.

What sound or noise do you love?
Silence. Is that allowed? Probably not. Wait, no. I don’t want complete silence anyway. How about the sound of an air conditioner? Or a loud fan? Or a car engine? I don’t really like noise most of the time but those sounds are very comforting to sleep to. Now that we have the air conditioner off it is hard to sleep in the silence. (Ooh, add that to the reasons I’ve been absent. Lack of sleep. Fucking miserable.)

What sound or noise do you hate?
The voice of Mike’s Grand Theft Auto IV character saying “Howdy, partner” over and over and over.

What’s your favorite curse word?
If I say “fuck,” can it include “fucking”? Because nothing feels better than saying “fuck yes” when something is awesome except maybe saying “fucking” for emphasis. Fucking fuck yes. “Fucking” is more versatile, so I’ll go with that.

What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
Whenever I’m watching NCIS I’m overcome by a desire to be a super badass federal agent. My spy name would be Raptor Fury. Either that or that’d be the name of some mission I was involved in. Or leading. That would be so fucking cool if it weren’t for the fact that I’m a total wimp and would not survive a day as a federal agent.

What profession would you absolutely not like to participate in?
I don’t want to be a teacher. Ever. Or a professor. Too few students would actually care for it to be worth it, and I’d constantly be a nervous wreck about that. I’d end up completely convinced that they hate school (or whatever class I’m teaching) because they hate me, even though it’s more likely that they just hate it in general anyway. Some people say it’s worth it for the one or two kids in your class who actually care and are excited to learn what you’re teaching, but I’d be way too broken up about the rest to be excited about them.

If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?
I wouldn’t want him to say anything. Going back to NCIS for a second. You know how when Gibbs is really happy about something, he just kinda tilts his head a teensy bit and gets a slightly bemused look on his face and nods a tiny bit? Almost imperceptibly? If you watch it, you know what I’m talking about. That is what I would want him to do. Failing that, I would accept a Caff-Pow.

I hope this has been eye-opening for you. It would be really cool if you answered your favorite question in the comments.

Fixing Your Stupid Traffic Problems

As a person who drives a lot, I am frequently reminded of exactly how dumb other people are. Traffic seems to bring out the worst in people, especially in Massachusetts, which is where I spend a lot of my time driving. (This isn’t to say New Hampshire isn’t occasionally at fault, though. Seriously, NHers–you don’t need to slow to 50 when you see a speed trap on a highway with a speed limit of 65.)

It’s so easy to look at traffic and be pissed off at all the cars around you. Someone up there ahead of you fucked something up. Going for the horn is, for some people, the easiest way to let that frustration off. I get that. For me, it’s usually swearing (big surprise). I also kind of have this middle finger reflex in stressful situations. See, when I was in middle school, I got hit with a penguin right on the top joint of my middle finger and had to wear a splint on it for a while. I think stress just reverts me to that position. But that’s neither here nor there.

The problem is that, so much of the time, the person who’s causing all the traffic problems–the asshole who’s making you late to your meeting or class or date or just keeping you from getting your coffee NOW–isn’t in the traffic at all. Just not there.

I know. It sounds crazy, right? How could someone who’s not even there be fucking up my traffic? Well, lovely readers, the answer is simple. Some asshole designed that intersection.

Like, for example, this one:

Genius.

I didn’t draw the lights going the other way because the lights going the other way aren’t a problem, though that SHOULD be a solid line in the middle of that side road and I’m sorry for that inaccuracy. But I’d like for you to think about this one for a second. The left lane here–people can go straight or turn from it. Either one. But when the turning light is green, the going-straight light is red. And then you get a red arrow when the main light’s green. So if the person in front of the line doesn’t want to do what the light says, no one’s going anywhere. And if the person behind them doesn’t want to do that, only the first person is going anywhere. For this lane of traffic to move, every. single. goddamn. person. needs to be doing the exact same thing. When’s that going to happen?

So I fixed it.

WOW!

By the way, YES, I am TOTALLY aware that I flipped the lights over. I was drawing at 2am or something. Opening Photoshop takes a while so no, I’m not going to edit them.

ANYWAY. Me fucking up the lights isn’t the point. The point is, how brilliant am I? MAKE THEM GREEN AT THE SAME TIME. Oh my god. I mean, there are plenty of intersections that do that. Only one way goes at once. Why not here? There is, of course, another option–paint some black over the “straight” part of that left-lane arrow. Holy shit, guys. Let’s see if I can do this again.

Okay seriously now.

Backwards though my lights may be, you can still see the colors (actually, can you? Are you red-green colorblind? Shit.) and realize that these lights aren’t green at the same time. Which means that everyone who goes through that first light immediately gets stuck at the second one. There are about 30 yards between them. So really, what happens is everyone inches forward a little bit. Then the cars that fit in that 30 yards go and everyone else is stuck at another light. The problem is that little one-way road there. People have to get out of that road, so there has to be a second light, right?

BAM.

Check it out, guys! A ROTARY! Or roundabout or traffic circle or whatever the fuck you want to call it. I don’t really care what you call it, because, see, it can solve your problems. You don’t like rotaries? Well, I don’t like waiting 20 minutes to go through one light on my commute. I know they slow things down a bit, but traffic moves. You get through them. And you’ll never have to sit at a red light when the rest of the road is empty.

Seriously, I should become a civil engineer. Not that I’d go to school for it or anything. I’d just do what that guy on that show on USA does, where he didn’t go to law school or anything but convinces people to hire him because he’s just that awesome. That’s me.

It’s like I’m a fucking savant or something.

(Er…the fucking there is for emphasis. Not for specifying what kind of savant I am. Civil engineering savant. Mom, just…ignore this.)

Of course, there are times when the problem really is other drivers, and I’ve got a solution for you there, too. I just need someone to buy the idea and mass-produce it:

Well, look at that. I guess I can’t actually be a civil engineering savant if I’m so good at weapons design, too, can I? I guess you can have it all.

Lemonade

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One of the greatest perils of moving to a new place has nothing to do with stress, packing, never getting around to unpacking, or trying to figure out how the hell to organize your kitchen cabinet. While those are unfortunate side-effects, they’re generally either easily dealt with or easily ignored. As frustrating as they are, they are temporary.

Socially, however, moving is a complete shitshow for months. You’re in a new place where you don’t know anyone at all. Except the person you moved with, if you moved with someone. It can take time to find some friends and develop any semblance of a social life, if, indeed, that’s your thing. Luckily, it happens eventually. There are, I guess, all sorts of ways to meet people in a new city and eventually you’ll be at a bar telling new friends that you should totally organize a girl’s night soon or something. It takes time, but it happens.

The real problem arises when your old friends are only an hour or two away. This will breed a certain reluctance in you when it comes to finding new friends. Oh, an hour, hour and a half…that isn’t so bad. I can always see them. It’s not like I need an entirely new social circle. A little later, you go to make plans with those friends. You find yourself thinking: Ugh, fuck. Am I really driving an hour and a half for lunch? I must really like this person and also I need some closer friends. You’ll forget about that needing closer friends thing. An hour and a half is the perfect distance to let you reason that they’re not really that far away but also never want to drive to visit them.

You will, though. You’ll visit your friends because you’re lonely, and probably also you like them or else they wouldn’t be your friends (please if you don’t like your friends stop being friends with them). You’ll make the drive and be glad to see a familiar face in a familiar place and do the exact same thing you always do with these friends. Nothing’s changed.

But you won’t remember how long your drive home is.

As you’ve probably guessed by now, this happened to me very recently. I went to visit my friend Alison. We cook together. If you like cooking, you may know how valuable it can be to have a friend you can cook with. If you don’t, you probably think I’m crazy. Alison and I made lunch and cupcakes. (Okay, realistically, we make cupcakes together. There are always cupcakes. And I must say that this cupcake recipe was fan-fucking-tastic, because I love almonds, and also coincidentally if you wanted to poison somebody with arsenic these cupcakes would be the perfect way to do it surreptitiously.)*

While we were waiting for the cupcakes to cool, I mentioned my local farmer’s market and she realized that she had one, too, and oh hey it was going on right at that moment and we should totally go! And I wasn’t going to not go to a farmer’s market. There’s always some sort of weird vegetable that you’d never see in the supermarket, like purple bell peppers or hot pink eggplants.

The first thing we discovered at her farmer’s market was a lemonade stand. I thought $4 was a bit steep for a lemonade, but they had this big crank thing that they were using right in front of us to squeeze the lemons and immediately pour it into the cup. I mean, we could watch them make it, and they had all sorts of options, and mostly I needed some one dollar bills for the tolls going home so I got one.

Guys, when buying lemonade that seems expensive, it may be prudent to look and see exactly how much lemonade you’re buying.

Are you familiar with the round containers that most supermarket delis use when you buy such as potato salad from them? I ended up with a quart-sized container–that’s the largest one–full of lemonade. Realistically, there’s not a cupholder in my car where I can put this, so I pretty much had to drink it down to a point where it wouldn’t spill before going home–which I had to do immediately after we frosted the cupcakes, which we did immediately after we got back from the farmer’s market. Oh, and it was rush hour.

I am giving you free advice here. Unless you know your route extremely well–and you know for a fact that there are rest stops frequently along the way–do not drink an entire quart of lemonade before what is bound to be at least a 2 hour drive.

No, I didn’t wet myself. I was lucky.

Your head will look like this as you drive home: Is there a gas station off this exit? Or a fast food place? Dammit, why the hell doesn’t this highway have signs advertising these things like every other highway in the fucking country? Where’s the next rest stop? Wait WHY DOES IT SAY IT’S CLOSED okay fine I’ll stay in this lane there must be somewhere I can stop soon…DAMMIT that is NOT closed why the fuck would it SAY it is closed when it is NOT. Okay. I know there’s another rest area soon. You can do this. You can make it. Okay, a toll. The guy at the tollbooth will know. Oh, about ten miles up…right past the other tollbooth? I’m practically home by then! I mean, it’d only be an extra few minutes to use my own bathroom instead of a rest stop one. I can wait. Yeah, I’ll wait. I’ll run in and pee as soon as I get home, but I’m not stopping at a rest area that is less than 10 minutes from my house. It’s not like–wait. Fuck. What if Mike’s in the bathroom when I get home? I am not getting home and peeing into this lemonade-quart-container when there is a perfectly good bathroom right on the side of the highway, dammit!

And then you’ll feel like an idiot for doing something that caused you to have to stop and pee less than 10 minutes away from your own house, all because you weren’t thinking about how far away your new place is.

There. Free advice. You’re welcome.

*Seriously guys don’t do this.**

**Or at least don’t tell them it was my idea.***

***NO, DON’T DO IT AT ALL.