Archive for February, 2009

On Seemingly Unresourceful Kids Who Ask You for Answers to the Homework via Your Facebook Wall (and food)

February 28, 2009 Leave a comment

Background information: You are a college sophomore and there is a grad student in one of your classes. You are on good terms with the grad student, whom you met in another class last semester. You have previously asked said grad student for answers to various homework assignments via his/her Facebook wall, and were told that not only it wasn’t wise to ask this type of question on Facebook, but you’re also never going to get an answer to your questions.

Situation: You have a homework assignment due Monday, and you can’t find the answer to one of the questions (“What does [foreign language phrase] mean?”). Do you:

a) try to translate it yourself to see where it takes you?
b) plug the sentence into some online translator to see where it takes you?
c) search online forums and the web in general to see what you find?
d) go to your grad student classmate’s Facebook profile and write on his/her wall, asking for the answer?

I don’t know what to do with this kid. I’m not sure how many times I have to write him back telling him that I’m not going to give him the answer, and I honestly don’t understand why he thinks that I would even consider helping him. This isn’t me playing the grad student who thinks she’s better than undergrads here; the professor made it clear, both in class and on the syllabus, that this was meant to be individual work. Schools don’t fuck around with academic integrity. I don’t fuck around with academic integrity. And I don’t care that it’s not like cheating on an exam; I don’t care that asking for the answer to a homework assignment is seemingly harmless. The point is that rules are rules, and this is an assignment that we have to hand in. Furthermore, I am a grad student after all, which means that we are NOT on the same level academically. I’m enrolled in a one-year program with which I am less than happy; you think I’m gonna risk my ass to help you with one little question? You must be outside your mind.

Okay, never mind that he was stupid enough to ask me AGAIN on my Facebook wall, AGAIN. Does he think, does he really think that I am stupid?

His message says that he looked up the phrase online and found nothing, which I had trouble believing because it’s a very common French phrase and, chances are, the translation is everywhere to be found. Open a dictionary. Go to wordreference[dot]com. I’m sure you’re not the first one to wonder what the fuck that phrase means.

So, since I didn’t believe that the answer was nowhere to be found online, I went to WR and searched for it. Two words. Didn’t even use quotation marks. Guess what I found.

Precisely ONE thread about what that exact phrase meant. Guess who started the thread.

Him. Nothing told me explicitly that it was he who asked the question, but the poster’s handle happens to be his name in French (coincidence? keep reading). I logged on so I could see said poster’s history, just to take a look at the threads that he started. Interestingly, one of the threads pertained to an expression that showed up on one of our assignments last semester — and guess when that thread was posted? GASP!!!!! LAST SEMESTER!!!!!!!!!!!

And guess what else I just found? Another thread about something else pertaining to this homework assignment! Started a few days ago!

Ok y’all, that’s just too much. There’s no way this is all coincidental. And it’s not like he started that thread because I didn’t give him the answer — no no no. The thread was started last night, someone provided him with the answer last night, and he wrote on my wall about two hours ago.

My conclusion: he asked me because he wants to confirm the answer he got on the forum.

Ain’t gonna happen. And I hate it when people beat around the fucking bush. It’s always, “Hey, how are you? How’s your weekend? OHBYTHEWAYIWANTTHEANSWERTOTHISQUESTION kthxbye.”

?? Don’t be an asshole.

Action to be taken on my part: None, except write about it. I won’t bother tagging his wall and telling him again that I won’t give him the answer blah blah blah. I’m sure he’ll get the point if he doesn’t hear from me, and, if not, he’ll just ask me why I didn’t answer when he sees me on Monday. And then I’ll tell him.

Or maybe I’ll just look at him and ask, “Are you fucking serious?”

Moving on.

I’m happy to announce that my mom is doing just fine. I headed back to Philadelphia on Thursday afternoon to go to the hospital with her on Friday morning. The additional tests that the doctor wanted to perform were another mammogram and an ultrasound. Everything is fine, it was just a scare (and a waste of our time). But a stitch in time saves nine, right? All things considered, it was a good weekend. It was nice to be home and spend time with her, without having work bugging me the entire time (I had cancelled my DSL in Philly and so didn’t take my laptop with me).

The ride from DC to Philly was pretty smooth; the bus left Chinatown around 4:15pm, and, since it was a Thursday, it wasn’t crowded. I managed to hit Union Station after class to pick up some Neuhaus chocolate. Luckily there was a sale, so getting three boxes didn’t ruin me (one for my mom, one for our neighbor Bev, and one for my aunt and uncle).

On my way down to the Metro, I picked up a generous sample of shea butter hand cream, which made my hands quite slippery for a while.

I played Squirrel Mike‘s City of Strangers during the entire ride home.

I watched the sun set and the cotton candy clouds go by. Violet sky. There really isn’t much in this world that can rival the sky — an ever-changing scene, a classic beauty. Calm, serene, light, jolly, dark, lonesome, stormy… Universal, infinite. I love it. When the sun is a glowing orange candy and all you want to do is taste it…

My lotioned hands smelled like cookies. I fell asleep, probably at the same time as the sun, and woke up a bit disoriented.

Kind of like today. It took me a while to remember that today was Saturday. I meant to step outside for just a moment, to breathe some non-apartment air, but it didn’t happen. Instead, I sat here all day doing homework and workwork. At least there’s still food in the fridge.

When I came back from Philly, I saw that the chocolate capuccino spread had been replaced by a jar of crunchy hazelnut chocolate spread. Sounds even tastier than just hazelnut chocolate spread, doesn’t it? Well, it tastes just like a Ferrero Rocher (which used to be called “Ferrero Roche d’Or” in France, by the way).  As of my departure on Thursday the 19th, I had consumed about half of the chocolate capuccino spread, which I bought a mere three days earlier. I’m not sure what happened to it, but I’m glad Crunchy Hazelnut Chocolate Spread is here.

On a semi-related note, I bought bananas on Tuesday night — they were being brought out of boxes, nice and green. Today they’re green and yellow, but definitely ripe — too ripe for my taste, actually. I wonder why they’re still green.

Tastes change. I never thought much of tofu until a few months ago, and now I’m crazy about it. Despite what many people say, tofu does have a taste — and don’t ask me what it tastes like, because I’m just gonna tell you that it tastes like tofu. I love the way it absorbs whatever flavor is around it. And it’s so versatile.

I like making a beet-corn-mushroom-tofu salad. Add balsamic vinegar, olive oil, some salt, pepper, and a bit of sugar.

Tonight I made angel hair pasta with garlic and basil tomato sauce, sliced mushrooms, and diced tofu. Mmmm…

I noticed that if I eat a lot for dinner, I get really, REALLY painfully hungry the next day. I wonder why.

On Chocolate Capuccino Spread, and other thoughts that happen to be crossing my mind at the moment

February 16, 2009 2 comments

Possibly one of my longest entry titles yet.

A few days after I came back to DC from my long, not-quite-awesome-due-to-crapton-of-work winter break in Illy, I went to World Market and picked up a jar of chocolate hazelnut — or hazelnut chocolate — spread. Cheaper than Nutella, and, as it turned out, better than Nutella. It was very creamy and spreadable (Nutella is spreadable, too — just too spreadable), and nuttier. I eyed the other types of chocolate spread that they had and swore that I’d be back to try something new.

And I went back about two weeks later, after Nutella’s cousin was thoroughly consumed and enjoyed, to get the dark chocolate spread.

I didn’t like it as much as I thought I would — at first. But it grew on me. Once again it was creamy and spreadable, but not the type of thing I would just spread onto a slice of bread.

The dark chocolate spread was eventually finished and, today, on my way back from class, I picked up the one I’d been dying to try: the chocolate capuccino spread. Seriously, how amazingly delicious does that sound?

It was about 2pm and I hadn’t had lunch yet, so I decided to wait until snack time (yes, I have a snack time. You may call it “tea time” if you want, but it’ll always be “snack time” to me. Or, more frenchly, “l’heure du goûter”. Leave me alone.) to try it (on a slice of whole wheat bread, with a glass of milk).

I sautéed some sliced mushrooms in butter (you gotta be crazy to sauté things in anything other than butter), beat some eggs and made a beautiful mushroom omelet. Too bad I had run out of shredded cheese.

Then I had an apple.

Note that I’m totally taking a break in my work to blog about this.

Then it was 4pm and I couldn’t wait any longer (I know I’d just had lunch, but I couldn’t stop eyeing the clock), so I poured myself a glass of milk and spread that beautiful brown-and-white swirly paste onto a slice of bread. And I ate it. All of it.

And, well… I’ve had better. It tasted too much like cocoa powder. The texture, even. I’m not unhappy with it, but I probably won’t buy it again. Chocolate hazelnut — or hazelnut chocolate — spread, I’m all yours. AND YOU SHALL LIVE IN MY TUMMY FOREVER.

Anyway, I’ve decided that I will blog whenever I start an internal monologue about anything. Sometimes we (i.e., “people”; I haven’t started referring to myself in the first person plural yet) have thoughts but no one to share them with immediately. It’s a shame, but that’s life, and I think that blogs are a wonderful way to communicate whatever thoughts and feelings you happen to have at any given time. I love blogging. I can edit and re-edit my entries, think and re-think my ideas, and, most importantly, I don’t feel like I’m imposing my thoughts and opinions on people — unlike when I send a mass email to 20+ people : “Hey guys, it’s me; me me me me blah blah blah blah.”

It’s a real shame that my closest friends don’t blog, especially because we’re all so far from one another. It’s nice to be able to read what people are up to, how they’re feeling, and so on. And it’s so much easier than writing fifty thousand (okay, maybe not fifty thousand) “individual” emails that say exactly the same shit over and over again. Maybe I’m the only one who has time — nay, takes the time — to do this. Probably in vain, too, because I don’t think they read this. I always chuckle a little inside when, once in a while, I mention blogging and someone says, “You have a blog?!” and I think, “Yes, I have a blog, I linked you all to it about three years ago,” but all I say is, “Yes, I have a blog.” Then they ask for the link, and I link them, and then… well, whatever they do with it, I guess I’ll never know.

Actually, I wouldn’t say that this is in vain. Let it be known that I don’t blog for them, or anyone else for that matter. I think it’s just better to have my thoughts floating around in cyberspace than to have them internalized and eventually forgotten. I like being able to go back to what I’ve written and see how much of that has changed since then.

I should probably get back to work. I’m heading back to Philadelphia on Thursday afternoon and will stay there through Sunday morning. I’ve cancelled my DSL at that location and need both my laptop AND the Internet to work, so I won’t be able to get anything done. Which is good, in a way, because I really need a break — mental if not physical — but also terrible because I’ve got so much to do. I wish I could say that I’m going back just for kicks, but it’s actually to go to the hospital with my mom; her most recent (end of January) mammogram calls for further testing. Let’s hope they’re only wasting our time.

Categories: Personal

On Not Having a Valentine (and not looking “like a grad student,” apparently)

February 14, 2009 2 comments

Tonight, my phone conversation with my mom went something like this:

Mom: So you’re just working tonight? That’s what happens when you have no Valentine on Valentine’s Day.
Me: Valentine’s Day is tomorrow.
Mom: Ah, yes. Well you still don’t have one.

Isn’t she sweet. It’s funny, because “Valentine” in Chinese translates to “lover”. I was just following a thread on Yelp about casual dating and read some pretty interesting posts. I never used to think that dating around was okay; I thought it was so typically American — which, to me, always meant “bullshit”.

Dating around? Really? How A.D.D. are you?

Now that I think back on it (it’s been years since I first decided that it wasn’t an ok-thing to do), I suppose there’s nothing wrong with it. But maybe I should explain my previous point of view: I always thought that people who dated around were only playing a game (the dating game? “back in the game”?) and had no real interest in being committed (by that I mean an exclusive relationship — not “love and marriage”). I used to say that I would never be okay if the guy I was “going out with” was seeing other people, because, well, *I* wouldn’t do that.

When faced with a problem, there usually are more than one way to approach it, right? Do you try all of them at the same time? No, you don’t; you try one, you chuck it if it doesn’t work, and you move on to the next one.

But what the fuck do *I* know? You can’t actually use that model for dating. People come and people go; you can’t acquire several potentially datable (also: dateable) people, and try one out while you shelve the rest. Who’s gonna wait for you to come around? That’s the main “danger” of serial dating (as opposed to multi-dating), I guess: if you date exclusively (but not “seriously”) and it doesn’t work out, it might take a while to find your next date. Sure, freedom is nice, you get to have some single fun, spend some “you” time. And then? How long is that gonna last? How long until you get tired of being free, having single fun, and spending time ALONE?

I’m not saying everyone should go out and collect phone numbers from everything that moves (and has a phone), but if presented with the option to date several different people at one (not literally “at the same time,” people) you should do it. It’s all about maximizing your chances and using time efficiently.

I could talk about dating for hours; what to do, what not to do, blah blah blah… it’s too bad I don’t have anyone on whom to test my theories.

The other thing I’d like to discuss tonight, before I retire myself, is some nonsense I heard about “looking” like a grad student.

Well, “heard”; I had lunch with a very nice sophomore today and she told me that I didn’t “look like a grad student”. Then we took the Metro, going in opposite directions, and I was left wondering what the fuck she meant by that.

That was at 4pm, it’s now 2am — officially the next fucking day — and I’m still wondering. Any ideas?

What she could have meant was that I don’t “act” like a grad student. From my observations of other grad students who have been and currently are in my classes, I can deduce it to mean one of two things — or maybe both: that I am not silent in class, or that I talk and socialize with undergrads. Now, let’s be honest: most grad students probably don’t think much of undergrads, much like undergrads don’t think much of high school kids, and so on and so forth. With that in mind, being “stuck” in a class with 95-99% undergrads is probably not the ideal situation. And so, since undergrads aren’t technically our peers, we see no reason for befriending them. Or talking to them. Or you know, looking at them. I mean, some grad students are TAs, they have shit to do, places to go, people (who are more important than undergrads) to see, etc.

Newsflash: so do undergrads.

I don’t get the whole I’m a grad student attitude. I see it all the time, but I don’t get it. It’s oh-so-serious and important. But, o, venerable grad student: you KNOW damn well that when you’re with your friends you act like a silly little freshman does with his or hers.

This just in: your shit doesn’t smell any better than theirs.

You should see me in class; I’m a fucking ray of fucking sunshine. The undergrads love me — those who aren’t intimidated by my being a grad student, that is.

But what I think she meant was that I don’t look my age — I literally don’t look like a grad student. Some would agree, some wouldn’t. But honestly? I’m 24; there isn’t much of a difference between someone who’s 21-22 — e.g., a senior in college — and someone who’s 24. Maybe it’s my clothes? Am I supposed to change my wardrobe suddenly? Wear dress pants and blouses instead of jeans and t-shirts? Maybe a pair of heels would do it? Some lipstick? Bullfuckingshit. That’s just like the attitude thing and the whole taking-yourself-too-seriously act.

I’m only talking about clothes here because I refuse to think that people could ever come to the conclusion that a particular individual could not be a grad student — no way! — because their FACE looks young. Or because they’re short. Or because their face looks young AND they’re short.

Ahhhhh, but what do they know? They’re undergrads.

Categories: people, Personal Tags: , ,

On Productivity (and other junk)

February 13, 2009 Leave a comment

A few days ago, I forget when exactly, I decided that my work wasn’t advancing fast enough and that the Internet was way too distracting. Actually, I had decided that a long time ago, but I had never really put my foot down and done something about it. So, a few days ago, I thought there should be some sort of application, add-on, whatever, that could block access to certain time-sucking, productivity-slaying websites; being the ressourceful person that I am, I checked the add-ons for Firefox and BAM! there it was. I quickly banned myself from 26 different websites that I frequently — obsessively — visit every day (and night). Access was blocked 24/7. That’s right, was.

Where there’s a will, there’s a way — right? So if I decide that I’m sick of working and that I want to fuck around for a good hour or two, you bet your ass I’ll find a way. Tonight I decided that it was an initially good but ultimately futile attempt at becoming more productive.  I cleared the ban but am keeping the add-on, just in case my procrastination spirals out of control. Actually, it’s not so much procrastination as it is a chunk of time dedicated to brain downtime. I’m incredibly afraid of crashing and burning after working like a maniac for days and days and days. I think this month is going down as the worst month in a long time, in terms of work load. Thankfully it’s a short month, right? Unfortunately, though, I need time. I need more time. More hours in the day, more hours in the night — something.

And yet I sit here, fully aware of this work-turned-burden that’s sitting on my shoulders, blogging away. Words are so useless sometimes. I can bitch and moan about this all I want, but in the end it’s not going to help any.

No, I take it back. Words are not useless. Being neither an artist nor a musician, nor anything that requires some sort of creativity AND talent, I truly have no other outlet for my thoughts and feelings. I could go running, but that’s exhausting and, honestly, when I let out my frustration I want to be able to see it. I know that exercising is productive in its own way, but I need to channel my stress/anger/frustration/what-have-you into something that I can see.

That’s why screaming never helps but breaking shit does. Not exactly what I would call “productive,” but you know what I mean.

And so I blog because it’s the only way for me to let it out, even if next-to-nobody is reading it. At least it’s out there, ‘know what I mean? I could talk it out, but there’s no one I’d like to ramble on with.

No, words are not useless. My mother does nothing but complain and sigh when she calls me. She’s constantly reminding me — whether explicitly or implicitly — that she’s getting older faster. It’s depressing, really. It brings me down and frustrates me to the point where I want to snap and tell her to stop telling me these things, because then she’s sad and I’m sad, and more importantly we’re not together to sit and cuddle and vegetate in front of the TV.

Yes, I’m 24 and I still snuggle with my mother. I want to be 4 again.

But I never do. I’ve never snapped and I never will, because who else is she going to tell these things? I need her to tell me as much as possible because I need to understand what she’s going through, without me by her side. I don’t want her to keep all of those feelings inside because it isn’t healthy. I’d much rather provide her with an outlet and feel sad than be happy-go-lucky while she’s bottling up all that negativity. You follow? I don’t get how some people can be so out of touch with their parents.

What’s with planes crashing in NY?

I’ve been reading people’s ’25 things’ on Facebook. I’ve written four different lists myself, and I think that, in a way, I write them for myself more than I do for other people (although there definitely are items that people should pay real close attention to — kind of like a ‘How to not piss Sophie off’ guide). I think I will reproduce them on this blog just so I can keep adding items to the lists (who really wants to read 1355 ’25 things’ about me on Facebook? The fact that it shows up in the news feed is so attention-whorish, too).

In the same vein, or maybe to start another list right here, right now, I’ve finally realized that, despite my broad interests and despite how easily amused I am, I’m an extremely difficult person to shop for. Over the years I’ve accumulated so much stuff that is virtually useless to me and yet has some value. I’m not sure what to do with them. I don’t like having things around just gathering dust; that’s what my high school notebooks did for years before I decided to throw them all away. What do you do with things to which you attach a moderate amount of sentimental value but that are completely useless?

So that’s one thing — people buying you random junk, either because they have no idea what to get you or because they have poor taste.

The other thing is that my tastes are practically unpredictable. I have to admit that I’m not very consistent with the things I like and dislike. This is why sites like Pandora and site features like “We think you would also like…” never. fucking. work.

For one, I’ve given up on Pandora. Secondly, all those websites that claim they think they know what I would like are dead wrong 80% of the time (a totally made up statistic). Whatever, no one said I had to make sense. You can discern a trend if you check out my interests, but chances are you won’t be able to complete the list with things or people that I actually like. Unless you know me very, very well — and very few people do. VERY few.

So that goes for books, movies, music, jewelry, et cetera, et cetera. If people don’t know what to buy me, I wish they’d just ask; I’d tell them what I tell Sabrina every year: I don’t want anything. And you can’t exactly go around and tell people “Hey, don’t get me anything for my birthday/Jesus’ birthday/whatever special day,” because that’s just presumptuous and nobody likes that.

That said, I do like getting presents. YEAH SO, no one said I had to make sense, and no one said presents had to be fancy shit either. You know, for my birthday, you can give me $20 or a pack of gum — I’ll be just as happy either way. That’s it; I’m a very easy person to please — not because I like everything and anything, but because I like simple things.

Think simple. Think useful. Sometimes, think edible.

I said, “THANK YOU.”

February 2, 2009 Leave a comment

What the fuck is up with rude bus drivers?

Can you smile when I greet you, or thank you, or wish you a good day? Can you at least aknowledge that I fucking SAID something directly TO you? I don’t understand why some bus drivers are so fucking miserable. Okay, maybe sitting on your ass all day and driving people around isn’t the most stimulating job in the world. But you’ve got it a lot better than many others. You don’t have to trek around in the cold, and you don’t have to stand all day. You have MINIMAL interaction with people, so the least you could do is say “You’re welcome” when someone thanks you for doing your job. Did you go out of your way to stop where I got on or off? Was it an inconvenience to stop the bus where you’re supposed to and open the door? Are you God? NO. So why the dirty look? Do you think that your ass would be slightly less miserable if you sat on a cushion? I’m trying to help here. Throw me a goddamn bone for crying out loud.

People say, “Thank the bus driver! You could be walking!” You know what? I fucking like walking. Actually, I fucking LOVE walking, and I normally do, but the bus was there, and time is of the essence, and the transfer from bus to bus is free, so I figured HEY LET’S BE CRAZY and hopped on the bus.

So you know what? Next time, I’ll walk. Fuck you, and I hope every other passenger treats you like the piece of shit that you seem to be.

Categories: Personal Tags: , ,