Tuesday, March 18, 2008


French phrase of the day for Tuesday, March 18: J'aimerais avoirs plus de temps libre. "I wish I had more free time."

Unbelievable. My phrase-of-the-day calendar is mocking me.

- -
So whenever I have an unresolvable grammar problem, I Google the word and multiple usages (this goes for French papers as well as English papers, lab reports, and everything between). The quandary of a few minutes ago was "indispensable" (I had intially typed "indispensable (noted: -able, not -ible) for," saved, closed; and then when I re-read it, I thought, "indispensable to?"). Google confirms! And returns a link to "30 Practical Tips to Make Yourself Indispensable to Others," separated into six categories: Belonging, Esteem, Learning, Aesthetic, Self-Actualization, and Transcendence. On the sidebar, links to "15 Tips to Stay Positive in Negative Situations" and "30 Ways to Increase Your Mental Capacity" and "26 Tips to Stay Calm When Situation Goes Bad." And then somewhere, I can't find it anymore, "37 Lessons to Help You Live a Life that Matters." Aw. Items 27, 28, 35, 16, and 15: Harvest failure, always make new mistakes, surround yourself with A-players (haha!), listen to that little voice, and be yourself.

I think today was the first St. Patrick's Day that I FORGOT it was St. Patrick's Day and subsequently didn't wear any green. Nada. Overheard someone else comment on the date this morning in lab (conspicuous lack of green attire in the MSE dept.). Which means today (now the day after St. Pattie's) is my brother's birthday and he's a year older! Nine! Oh my gosh! I remember when my sister turned nine, or I remember asking her if she was excited to turn ten the next year. And she said she sort of was. Kenny's reaction was the same.

I can't believe he's growing up.


My corollary to "surrounding myself with A-players" was to always keep the company of people over ten years younger than me. Be among the very young at heart and all that. And I still do, but that ten-year age difference is becoming smaller and smaller. You can't joke about the same cheesy things with a nine-year old that you could with an eight-year old and still get an appreciative response (use the word "magic" with any recourse to humor and now the best you'll get will be a " . . . Right."); you find yourself the mantra of hassled caretakers to huffy schoolagers: Be patient, just wait - would you please be patient?? Things just can't wait when you're nine. Everything still has its novelty and you can't wait to show it to people, you just hope they'll be impressed. I hope I was impressed enough. Yo-yo tricks and new Pokemon and dinnertime stories about the author who had visited his school to talk about Alaskan voyages and a new storybook. My life certainly isn't as exciting as any of that. But when you don't respond immediately and the steadily higher and higher-pitched intonations of "Come see this!" don't stop, you wonder if you missed the boundary between maintaining interest and lavishing too much attention. I miss my brother. I see myself in him. He's got a bit of the only child in him because my sister is now too busy with school to play with him all the time, and Mom and Dad too tired and removed by work. He entertains himself, plays with stuffed animals, plays his video games, complains of boredom, tells me that I sleep too much, all the while hoping that someone will just pretend with him for a little while . . .

And so I did.

This Spring Break will be the break I reconnected with old friends. I saw and spoke to people who I'd known in high school who I hadn't had real conversations with for a year and a half. I will remember it as the break I watched my first Pokemon movie. And slept through some of it the on the first viewing. The break I baked a batch of cookies, but spooned the cookies a little bigger than I normally do (so there were fewer cookies) and had to bake another batch two days later because my sister wouldn't stop pestering me about it. The break I played "Dear Frog" with my brother and we pretended our frog stuffed animals wrote letters to each other and voiced our respective frogs, "Frog" and "Frogg." And hopefully I'll remember the last Spring Break my brother was still a child. Because he'll always be a kid in my eyes. But he's growing up. I'm powerless to stop it, and I don't want to. It's just . . . time. (:

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From "30 Practical Tips to Make Yourself Indispensable to Others"


- Send them your favorite quotes.
- Take the time to do small research to answer their questions.
- Lend them your favorite books.
- Spark their curiosity by asking them smart questions.
- Tell them your favorite web sites to learn from.
- Send them the articles you find that might help them.
- Passionately share your learning experiences; it’s contagious.


- Lend them your favorite CDs or DVDs.
- Tell them where they can learn to play music.
- Tell them where they can learn to draw (Drawspace is a good start by the way).
- Share your favorite wallpapers and pictures.
- Let them know of interesting cultural events you hear about.


- Encourage them to find their life purpose.
- Encourage them to follow their heart more than the expectations of others.
- Share with them inspirational stories about men and women who are willing to pay
the price to do what matters to them (e.g. Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa).

(I liked those! I do those with my friends all the time :D, esp. "Learning")

Saturday, March 15, 2008

unconsidered glamor

I'm doing some history reading

Gosh, I was just so struck by the wording in that sentence, by that phrase. I mean, my first contemplation of a dictator would have nothing to do with the glamor of his regime, but now that I've seen the usage in print, I would say, yes, definitely! A dictatorship is glamorous for its leader and his cronies! Your life is like a rockstar's, I mean, who's going to tell you what's what, and if someone does, you just snap your fingers and it's not a problem anymore. Anything you want, mostly anything you could want if you were in that position - power, fame, wealth, status, influence. Drugs, women. And yet they're so fickle, the success of the one-hit wonder/the popularity of the "staged a coup, so-and-so" government. It's conjuring images of VH1 "The Fabulous Life." ("Take a fast-paced, first class joy ride of lavish living, as we check out the fortune building careers and businesses of the extremely rich and famous and the incredible indulgences that come with it.")

I just never thought of it that way. Dictators would be too busy being angry and tyrannical and stewing in the ambient instability of absolute power (so-called) to enjoy the perks, right? Right? Gosh what do you do with all that power anyway. Be like Candide! Mind your own garden!

So my admiration (EDIT: awe; "admiration" was poor word choice) so expressed is pretty grotesque and now I'm back to reality, I'm thinking of Last King of Scotland and how bouncy and happy Amin could be, but then how cruel and twisted his regime was. Just got caught up in the words, that's all.

("Perhaps the June Days might have had similar consequences if republican leadership after 1848 had been equal to that after 1871 and if there had been in 1848 no young and glamorous aspirant dictator on the scene, ready to take advantage of republican division and conservative fears. In 1871 Napoleon III was old and ailing, his son young and untried, and luckily for the republic, no other substitute turned up." Wright, France in Modern Times)

a story.

we were at a wal-mart
in formal wear
(divya and tracey were there, too).
and there were $300 sunglasses there,
there was a pair with mint-green frames that i liked.
we had to look for something! i don't know. it was a scavenger hunt or something.
and i couldn't find you. called.

"where are you?"

"i'm going somewhere where you can see me. (i walk towards the front of the store) i'm sitting next to the grand piano (made of mahogany wood; on a bench-ottoman upholstered in brown leather with buttons along diagonals on the surface; in a wal-mart?)"

and you found me

and we walked.

wal-mart plus started looking like an elementary school?

we stepped out onto the back porch (wal-mart?) and it overlooked a street. i guess we were in pittsburgh. and we were leaning on the railing, you on my right, i on your left, looking up and down the street, and you asked me where we should go for dinner. anywhere you want.

and then i can't remember now how we got to that point, we were just talking, and then maybe we hugged over something inconsequential, and then you were holding me.
you told me you loved me.

i knew it, i'd known it all along, but in that moment i couldn't believe it. i mean, who would

i said it back. maybe you didn't believe me either, or you just couldn't hear me (i'm incoherent if the situation's too tense), but you asked me to say it again. and again. "i love you, too."

i mean, i don't know,

memory? dream? confabulation . . . it was too real.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Take me out

Haha! Uh.

The progression's a little more logical if you read them in reverse. Well, maybe not.

Mine was the one on the bottom, the middle one was my brother's, and the top one was my sister's. I tried to rephrase it for her, "It's just saying to be prepared for worst-case scenarios!" But she's smart. "Be pessimistic all the time."

That's so sad! (Who write the fortunes now, anyway?)

"It happened to me, but it's like watching TV."

I watched Vertigo Saturday night. My first Hitchcock – just superb, it was really, really good. I actually screamed at the end! New point on my to-do list: Watch more of his films.

I have a print of one of the panels in Warhol’s Marilyn Monroe that I bought at the Whitney Art Museum in New York three summers ago. Today I saw it sitting on my dresser and wondered, Were Warhol and Hitchcock friends? They might have been contemporaries. Did they influence one another? Did they collaborate? What sort of conversations did they have? I’ll bet they would have had really good conversations . . .

Well, three Google searches later:

Lot 219: Alfred Hitchcock - Featured on Invaluable.com

Warhol had the opportunity to interview Hitchcock for the September 1974 issue of Interview magazine, and talked to the director about some of the stars he had worked with as well the themes of Hitchcock's films, particularly the ways in which the director drew material from true crime stories. Warhol openly proclaimed that he was nervous upon meeting the legendary director, and posed with Hitchcock by kneeling at his feet. The meeting of these two icons of the 20th century is particularly significant, as each bridged high art and popular culture in unique ways, intriguing audiences with both the heights of glamour as well as the depths of the macabre.

ANDY WARHOL: Since you know all these cases, did you ever figure out why people really murder? It's always bothered me. Why.
ALFRED HITCHCOCK: Well I'll tell you. Years ago, it was economic, really. Especially in England. First of all, divorce was very hard to get, and it cost a lot of money.
WARHOL: But what kind of person really murders? I mean, why.
HITCHCOCK: In desperation. They do it in desperation.
WARHOL: Really?....
HITCHCOCK: Absolute desperation. They have nowhere to go, there were no motels in those days, and they'd have to go behind the bushes in the park. And in desperation they would murder.
WARHOL: But what about a mass murderer.
HITCHCOCK: Well, they are psychotics, you see. They're absolutely psychotic. They're very often impotent. As I showed in "Frenzy." The man was completely impotent until he murdered and that's how he got his kicks. But today of course, with the Age of the Revolver, as one might call it, I think there is more use of guns in the home than there is in the streets. You know? And men lose their heads?
WARHOL: Well I was shot by a gun, and it just seems like a movie. I can't see it as being anything real. The whole thing is still like a movie to me. It happened to me, but it's like watching TV. If you're watching TV, it's the same thing as having it done to yourself.
WARHOL: So I always think that people who do it
must feel the same way.
HITCHCOCK: Well a lot of it's done on the spur of the moment. You know.
WARHOL: Well if you do it once, then you can do it again, and if you keep doing it, I guess it's just something to do.
HITCHCOCK: Well it depends whether you've disposed of the first body. That is a slight problem. After you've committed your first murder.
WARHOL: Yes, so if you do that well, then you're on your way. See, I always thought that butchers could do it very easily.I always thought that butchers could be the best murderers.
(Andy Warhol's Interview Magazine, September 1974)

Have you seen Sweeney Todd yet? I'll go see it when it shows for a dollar in the UC. Warhol was onto something.

P.S. Spring break is so good.

P.P.S. Your Birthday Mix is amazing! I love it, I just thought you should know.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

The Cool-o-meter

- Eating at Orient Express for the first time since Winter Break
- At work today, talking to Ray, the 60-/70-year old CMITES employee in charge of publicity, newsletters and website, about History. About how we hated it in middle school and in high school and how later in life (oh-so-much later in my case!!) we appreciated it much more and, dare we say, even loved it. About how it's taught in school when it's a requirement (wrong), about how we had no idea about context until later (his examples, what was happening politically when Bach composed such-and-such, what music did people listen to during the French Revolution?), and about how wonderful Antonia Fraser's narrative style is (his read, my read)
- Starting my lab report!

French phrase of the day for Saturday, March 1: C'était un être à part! "He had a style all his own!"

- Trying to put up CMITES signs at 7:50 in the morning - signs that were put on stakes so that they wouldn't have to be taped to, and subsequently torn off, the sidewalk (ingenious! cost-efficient!). I.e., trying to drive stakes into the ground (frozen) at way-too-early o'clock.
- Lab report! Too much to do!
- Only three All Abouts Girl Scouts cookies left in the box of 21 that I bought . . . Thursday night.


(One to add to the reading list: Cancel Your Own Goddam Subscription: Notes and Asides from National Review by William F. Buckley)