Sunday, June 25, 2006

I just spent an hour and half fooling around with html trying to change the font of my links--it's too big, and is aesthetically un-pleasing. Well, I couldn't figure out how to do that, but I did add links and also an introduction. Which is equally good, I suppose. But that font is still horrendous.

So I vow that I will:
1. Learn html, at some point, possibly.
2. Go to the fridge now and a get a chocolate soy milk juice box, because I am wanting one.

And those are tonights lessons. Study up.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Tonight D and I went out for drinks and apps with Xavi, one of my first friends in SD. We hadn't seen him in some weeks, but he's about to pick up and move to Seattle, so goodbyes were in order. Xavi is a fantastic, wonderful person. A little baby part of me wishes he wasn't moving, but a much bigger, adult part of me is excited for his forthcoming adventure. He decided to move three weeks ago, after a weekend excursion to the rainy city. He'll be rooming with a friend of a friend, and has decided that, while he's at it, he'll apply to design school. I am so very happy for him--for his new life, for his bravery, for his opportunity. But lately, I've realized that down here--my home of five months--lies the same adventure, and spark of opportunity. I'll visit Xavi in Seattle--this I've already decided--but until then, I'm going to make the most of San Diego. That's a promise, to myself.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

At some point after I learned how to write but before I'd decided that I was interested in neither poetry nor the world of professional figure skating, I supposedly wrote a poem about Nancy Kerrigan's mother. I do not remember this. But, my mother does, and she claims that it is her favorite thing I've made by putting pen to paper. My mom has long-championed my writing--whether deserved or not--partly in an effort to encourage me to pursue it as a career. What a life it would be, she'd say. A blue clapboard house by the ocean with a desk by the window and nothing to do but fill the page. You'd like it, or love it, even. I thought it was bologna, a romanticized version of a borefest. Sitting inside all day by yourself, alone, making things up. I'll get a real job, thanks.

But now that I have a real job, I am seeing the draw of that clapboard house by the ocean. Granted, I live by the ocean right now. But my house isn't clapboard. And it isn't blue. And I don't have a desk by the window or any pages to fill or any time to fill them.

Mom always encouraged me to take writing classes, to try out writing in a rigid setting with deadlines and criticism and instruction, to see if I could somehow turn my talent of late-night term paper production into a honed skill. I never took one. In high school my avoidance stemmed from a strict adherence to the notion that smart girls take science and math. At university, a disdain for criticism. Certainly I did my share of writing, but a professor grading a paper on the merits of its contents and a professor grading a paper on its merits as a piece of writing seem like two different beasts. I didn't care to meet the second one.

But now I want to get away from this desk and over to that one, the one where I can sleep in if I want and work all night if I'd rather and abandon for any other desk, anywhere.

But first I'll need some practical training, on structure, on method, on approach.

So I'm taking a class. And, by the way, as it turns out, Mom was right. Maybe not about the Kerrigan Poem, may it never be found, but certainly about this little thing of nurturing a skill to see if it can grow. Hopefully it can.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

The company I work for has a newsletter, and my LA writer has skipped town, so today I have to pretend like I still live in LA so that I can write--with authority--about this month's topic, the state of environmentalism there.

So, living in LA but not, I have been researching different things about green LA. I came across a shopper's guide to pesticides in produce, produced by the Environmental Working Group, and I thought I'd share it, because I never wash my grapes, and apparantly this is a horrible idea.

EWG tested a lot and fruits and vegetables after washing them in the manner that most consumers do--and I assume this goes beyond my quick shower under the faucet method--and came up with the top and bottom 12 as far as pesticide contamination.

The 12 fruits and veggies highest in pesticides after being washed:

1. apples
2. bell peppers
3. celery
4. cherries
5. grapes (imported)
6. nectarines
7. peaches
8. pears
9. potatoes
10. red raspberries
11. spinach
12. strawberries

The 12 fruits and veggies lowest in pesticides after being washed:

1. asparagus
2. avocados
3. bananas
4. broccoli
5. cauliflower
6. corn (sweet)
7. kiwi
8. mangos
9. onions
10. papaya
11. pineapples
12. peas (sweet)

So, it seems like if you can go organic of those first 12, you should. And going organic on the second 12 wouldn't be bad, either. Supporting organic and sustainable farming is always good thing, but, at least for that second set, isn't necessarily necessary to ward off cancer, birth defects, third arms, etc. The first set, though--I think it's got to be organic grapes, or else. X-men is great, but I'll pass on the chemical mutations, thanks.

Also, while you're at it, this Q&A with a Florida farmworker/activist in Grist Magazine is really interesting, taking the pesticide/organic farming issue and wrapping it up with the immigrant issue for a double dose of depression/activist incentive, depending on your general world outlook.

Monday, May 08, 2006

So, a confession: I have been looking for friends on the internet. This is most certainly a horrible idea. But the internet has helped me in so many other ways--keeping in touch with home friends, finding an apartment and a roommate, filling the long, tedious hours of the work day--that I thought it at least deserved a crack at filling my San Diego life with people to hang out with.

I found an ad on Craigslist posted by a couple of girls who like to go camping. I don't really like to go camping, but amongst the ads for mommy and me meet-ups and call me I'm bored hook-ups, the camping girls seemed like a viable option. I met them for coffee, and they seemed alright--Kate is my age, and her cousin Mae is a few years older. Their banter reminded me of myself and my home friends. I liked them. They like to go camping, and think that more than two girls in the woods is better than two girls in the woods. I would tend to agree. A few weeks later, I went to dinner with Kate and Mae and several other girls that they camp with. They're an eclectic mix: a Navy nurse, a biochem PhD candidate, an engineer who is quitting her job and moving to Seattle to study massage therapy.

This past weekend we went camping. Bridget (the engineer/massuese) and Mae piled us into their jeeps and we rode up to Palomar Mountain, which is east and north and up from here. The ride up was really beautiful--the foothills in southern California are covered with dense green brush at this time of year, though there are already signs that the green is fleeting. By the summer, green will have faded to yellow, and with the onset of the Santa Ana winds and the fires they carry, to black. But for now, they are emerald, and lovely. Once we got to the mountain, it was round and round and round--one-thousand feet up, then two-thousand, then three-thousand, then four. We drove above the cloud line just as the sun was setting, and if I didn't know better, I would have thought I was looking down at the ocean. It was beautiful.

It was dark when we pulled into the campsite. There were about twenty plots, and most of them were filled. We unloaded the wood and our gear, set up our two tents, and got to cooking. Well, someone did, I didn't. I went off in search of a place to pee. There were bathrooms down the hill, but spider-infested bathrooms with plague warnings on the door are somehow less appealing than a clear spot behind a tree, slightly on an incline. I'm not sure why peeing outside is so satisfying--we had a talk about it over dinner, and the girls find it overwhelming so, a few outliers aside. One theory is that being able to pop a squat is our equivalent to whipping it out--and unlike our biological counterparts, it's something we can only acceptably do when in the primitive environment of the woods. Granted, urinating in public is an offense for both sexes, legally, but socially, a woman squatting in the park seems a greater misdeed than a man writing his name in the snow.

We ate hot dogs, turkey and tofu. We were ravenous, and they were delicious. At ten o'clock, some of the girls decided to go on a night hike. I decided to go to bed. It was cold, it was dark, and it was taking enough of my extrovert energy reserve to be on this trip in the first place--the night hike would have to wait for another night. I dozed off, but was soon awoken by some guys--football or fratty, take your pick--yelling and laughing nearby--"This is the best idea we've ever had"--more yelling--"Oh, man, actually, like, stand IN the fire this time, here, I'll pour some more lighter fluid on your legs." WHAT. I was awake now, and I listened to more yelling, more laughing--then some painful yelps and a thump, thud, whomp that could only be stop, drop, and roll.

The idiots were setting each other on fire.

In my tent, I had a dilemma. These guys were obviously drunk, but furthermore, they were obviously idiots of the highest pedigree. As a sober, non-idiot aware of their state, did I have an obligation to intervene and keep them from killing themselves? I couldn't decide. On one hand, I kept envisioning the scene playing out as an opening sequence of Law & Order--Benson and Stabler, or Goren and Eames, lifting the corner of a tarp to check out a kid's charred body. On the other hand, it was really warm inside my sleeping bag, and idiocy was as good a reason as any for Darwin to nail you.

The yelling stopped, and a radio blared. "I love this song!" I'd never heard it, a country song, sadly typical. I like the genre, but man, its fans don't give it a good name. Much like Christianity now, I suppose. "God! You shot me!" I didn't hear a gun. Maybe it had a silencer. "Man, stopping slinging rocks at me! I mean it!" One of them was shooting rocks with a slingshot--they could put an eye out, but not a life. I wasn't concerned. I went back to bed. In the tent, I heard two of the girls go over there. They shotgunned some beers with the guys, and advised them against setting themselves on fire. They agreed that they shouldn't do it anymore. But, man, it was sweet while it lasted.

The next day after a breakfast of PBJ and a, "I hope we didn't keep you up" quasi apology from the idiot boys in flannels and scorched fatigues, we went hiking. Hiking is an okay thing. I like to think about how the whole world used to be like this--trees and brush, no roads, no cars, no buildings. Wild and pure. A lot of the state and national parks are so crowded that the effect is lost. Yosemite is more like Disney World than a virgin forest. For whatever reason, we were mostly alone on the trails that day, and I was thankful for it.

The girls were talking with each other as we made our way up the trail. I listened but didn't add anything really. Maybe I was feeling reverent. Or maybe I was out of breath because I was booking it to get out of the woods so that I could say, "I went for a hike. It was an okay thing." I feel the same way about woods and other natural habitats as I do museums. I like to know they're there, that their halls are filled with antiquities and great art and the milestones of humanity--or with ancient trees and perfectly cooperating species. But I don't need to spend hours there--I can get that assurance, that peace, from a short visit. It's why I spent an hour in the Louvre and another three eating soup and chocolate cake and watching people in the cafe. The latter is more interesting.

After the hike, we down the mountain to get some supplies--the marshmallows for s'mores had been left at home, and this would not stand. While there, we decided that Mother's Kitchen sounded tastier than Leftover Tofu Dogs, so we stopped for lunch. Everything was vegetarian--there's California for you. Bikers and bikers--mountain and motor--were the majority of the clientele. The Boca Burger will really put hair on your chest, I hear.

After lunch, it was nap time, and then home time. The drive down the mountain made we want to puke, but I didn't. Though I'm sure that if I had, it would have been fine. Friends don't care about stuff like that.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Today my boss was out of the office, and I was supposed to be working on a report, which is very similar to a paper, but worse, really. Anyway, because of this similarity, but worse, this report was not something I was eager to write, and with the boss being out of the office, I had the opportunity to do things were not writing the report, and to do them for extended periods of time.

At 2 p.m. I finally put on my game face. I was up to date on all celeb gossip, all world news, all old friends and casual acquaintances. I even found time to graciously return the dog to her caretaker. The time was nigh to get crackin'. So I did, and then I stayed 2 hours late to git 'er done.

My time management/attention skills are lacking.

So I'd write more except that writing about work on the internet seems like a pretty good way to get fired. Which really is unfortunate. Because some hilarious times happen at the office. Hilarity, it pretty much ensues. Constantly.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

In Virginia, I have a puppy. Well, maybe not a puppy--she's seven--but I don't think "dog" does her justice. Such a curt word. A mix between a little poodle and lhasa apso, she's black with floppy ears and curly black hair and fits comfortably along the seams of one's legs if they're stretched out on an ottoman. She is sociable and easy going, but isn't a pushover. I respect that. She likes to cuddle, mostly when it's cold, and she smiles a lot. She has a delightful way of plopping down when she's had enough of the day, and a not so delightful way of ignoring you if you decide that you haven't. She has a sparkling personality and dashing good looks.

Her name is Molly. We are friends, and I love her.

Because we are friends and I love her, I assumed that I love dogs, that I was a "dog person." I now know this to be false. Correlation is not causation.

A friend is out of town for some weeks, and I have agreed, along with several others, to take turns taking care of her dog, Juliet. Some sort of lab mix, Juliet represents the antithesis of my Mollydog experience. She sheds. She reeks. She reeks again, because it's that bad. She drags me all over the street when I take her out, and she sprawls out on the couch when no one is looking. Common courtesy forces me to pick up her half-pint sized dumps. I have started to resent this animal, which mostly makes me resent myself. Juliet is a beautiful animal--polite, calm, understanding, friendly. But I cannot love her, and I don't think we can be friends, however hard she tries.

I am selfish. But at 21, I expect to be. If not now, when? I have no responsibilities except that pesky 9 to 5 thing that happens in the middle of the day. But now there is a living thing that needs me. Juliet needs walks and potty breaks and balls thrown and pain medication and, most of all, attention. And it's not that I have none to give. It's that I don't want to give it. I already have a dog, and she's not here.

So, Jules, I'm sorry. It's not you, it's me.