13 July, 2011

The Numbers Game

ONE  The number of friends I've lost this summer. Not tragically, just due to that person gaining a significant other, which is completely lame.

TWO  The number of job application rejection letters I received in the last few weeks. This doesn't include the non-responses from several other jobs I applied to. C'mon economy!

THREE  The amount in dollars I won from buying a lottery ticket. Watch out, bank account!

FOUR  The number of jobs I am now working. I'm all over the place, man.

FIVE  The number of Stats lessons I have done in the last few days. My brain hurts. But only three. more. to. go. finally.

SIX  This is how many weeks are left in my cell phone contract, which I don't want to renew. I can only hope my phone lasts that long. It's been turning itself off a lot lately, which I think is its way of telling me to just let it go...but I will work it to the grave.

SEVEN/EIGHT  Finally finished watching the last season of Curb Your Enthusiasm (season 7). Perfect timing for the new season 8 which has just begun:)

NINE  The number of weeks until I go to FL for my aunt's nursing program graduation, and then NC to see friends. But who's keeping track... :)

TEN  The number of dogs and animals (a bearded dragon!?) I will be walking and/or sitting this summer. And counting.

05 July, 2011

On the bottom (but looking up?)

I know I've been a bit downtrodden lately. A bit of a "negative nancy" if you will. I have been rather consumed by the constant stream of bad luck that seems to be bombarding me. I don't want to be so blah. I am trying to be positive. I am trying to be proactive about things. But you know what? It's not so easy. Especially when your day goes like this:

1. Take car to Costco for 2 new tires. Waiting time is 1 hour and 45 minutes. That's ok, I came prepared with a book and my laptop. No wifi? Ok, I still have my book. But then I didn't really feel like reading, so I perused the warehouse. After an hour, I decided it was time for lunch - costco hot dog and soda for a buck fifty! Finally something to look forward to!

2. Ah, but wait. They only accept cash and I have but $1.25...damnit! But wait again! It's costco, they have everything. They even have an ATM!

3. I request $80 from the ATM. "Do you want a receipt?" it asks. "No, thanks!" I say. I figure I am saving a tree. Or at least a twig on a tree. ATM dispenses cash. Hmm...only $20.

4. Have to file a dispute with Costco, who has to file an inquiry with the 3rd party vendor who operates this ATM. I call my bank. While on the phone with the bank, my cell phone drops the call.

5. I desperately need a new cell phone because it's constantly dropping calls and turning itself off. BUT I only have 6 weeks left on my contract and I don't want to renew.

6. I tried selling some old clothes to a resale shop nearby. I thought, maybe I can make some pocket change. Unfortunately my clothes were "too mature" and "older styles" than what they were looking for. I get it. I'm old and unhip. 

7. I get my car back with 2 new tires. But my car is still driving like something's wrong. It's possible I need the other 2 tires replaced or some other work done...

8. And now, who knows when I'll get that invisible money back...

Will this madness end already? Can someone PLEASE just throw me a bone here!?! I'm still looking for a job and out of cash for these stupid "emergencies." Murphy, please take your law and shove it.

27 June, 2011

Reality with a Vengeance

I come back from a most wonderful long vacation (see map below)

that I have been planning (generically) and saving for for quite some time now, and my welcome home gift seems to be brutal reality.

Within four days of being home, I have a $1000 bill to pay, an undriveable car due to needing two new tires, a tooth filling that has fallen out, and oh, yes, that's right...no job. Why am I being punished for having the time of my life traveling and wanting to travel more?

So if you'll please excuse me, I have some hustling to do...

17 April, 2011

Pursuit #70: Do I like Aaron Neville, you ask?

I have two ears and a heart, don't I???

It's true. I like Aaron Neville. There I said it. I will even scream it from the mountaintops. I'm not ashamed!

Just try and watch this without getting misty:

Or when you're frustrated over a noncommittal lover try this:

Aaron Neville - "Tell It Like It Is" (live) by mickeynold

07 April, 2011

Pursuit #69: Dinosaurs with feathers

Today my coworker told me about a new TV show coming out involving 3 things:

1. Mike Tyson
2. Pigeons
3. Reality (as in a reality show)

No, this is not one of those Sesame Street games where you try to figure out which one of these things doesn't belong, because frankly none of them should fit together. I wasn't able to embed the video, but this Larry King interview with Mr. Tyson is really...intriguing. I learned that pigeon-racing is one of Mike's passions, and furthermore that it is "one of the most popular sports in the world." I would say that that last statement is a bit speculative... Also, this man has a tattoo on his face.

Yep. This is weird.
Personal Disclaimer: Birds are gross*. I had to feed some baby birds when I worked at an animal hospital in high school. They just pooped all over their cages (and on themselves) and squawked incessantly. I had to feed them eye droppers full of mushy cat food. Baby birds look freakish without all their feathers and they constantly just have their mouths open and eyes closed. Then one of the vets went out of town and left her parrot at the hospital for us to care for. Everyday the bird sang "Brat Bird" to the tune of the old Batman song and screamed "Help!" like it was dying.

When I was about 5, a mother goose chased me and hissed at me at a petting zoo because I got too close to its youngin's. I still have nightmares about that. I have also been pooped on many different times by these filthy creatures. (Some say it is a sign of good luck to be pooped on by a bird. Those people have obviously never been pooped on.) Recently a kamikaze dive-bombing bird with only half a beak attacked me and my french fries whilst dining al fresco at a restaurant in DC. I could go on. But there's your reality show - birds pooping on people, being aggressive and annoying. Isn't that the only reality about birds?

*I find toucans, penguins and puffins to be the only acceptable types.

Pursuit #68: Unanimously rejected

It's always fun to receive a rejection letter from a school you applied to, and then withdrew your application from due to receiving and accepting another school's offer.  This rejection letter was really quite moot at this juncture in time - I received my other acceptances months ago. Not to mention the fact that I WITHDREW my application from this school's pool.

But the cherry on this sundae was the wording the grad school director used, and I quote:

"Unfortunately, the committee has decided not to recommend your admission and I concur with this decision."

This strikes me as comical. As in, "The committee thought you sucked. And frankly, I think you suck too. It's really quite unanimous that you suck." Thanks? I think they're just bitter. Let the record show that I rejected them first!

22 March, 2011

Pursuit #67: Girl v. Woman

Today, a patient at the physical therapy clinic where I work said this to me:

"In here, you look like a girl. But when you are driving, you look like a woman." 
I think he's from India, so I like to think it is a great compliment in his country.
This is coming from the guy who motioned for me to move faster to give him his cold pack one day so he could leave early and go to a party at the senior center. Naturally I assume that those parties are ragin'. I bet they discuss the ladies and how they "drive."

17 March, 2011

Pursuit #66: Going to Iran. Brb.

In this blog entry I described a warp zone (aka weird place) that I visited in the city of Mclean* for laser hair removal.

Well, it truly was a warp zone after all - I just noticed on the business card provided to me by the salon that the city name Mclean is misspelled as "Mclran."

Yep, we're talking q-u-a-l-i-t-y.

*technically it is spelled McLean with a big "L," but close enough for, you know, a business card and all.

13 March, 2011

Pursuit #65: Need to go on a diet?

Go to Mexico!!!

A little "Montezuma's Revenge" + scuba diving off a dingy in Playa del Carmen's choppy waters with strong current = everything inside of you will come outside!

Remember that scene in Stand By Me where the kid throws up after the pie-eating contest, starting a barf-o-rama of everyone throwing up all over? Yeah, that basically happened in Mexico on our dive boat. We like to call it "feeding the fish."

21 February, 2011

Pursuit #64: I'm a loser

I used to pride myself on the fact that I never lost anything. I was a vault. I was Sticky Fingers, in the non-klepto sense of the phrase. Now, I'm donning a "Michael look:" 

Michael Jackson cause I'm down to one leather glove
M.J. says all you need is one [glove]. I disagree. My other hand is cold.
and George Michael cause when I looked in the mirror today at work, I realized I only had one dangly earring on...in the left ear no less.
Unfortunately, G.M., I've lost faith that I'll find my other earring.

Maybe I'll invest in one of these. Or a velcro vest.

This all reminds me of something Molly once brought up. Haven't you ever wondered how a lone shoe on the side of the highway or a sock in the bushes ends up there? Where are the owners of these random articles of clothing and how did they end up in the Pollo Campero parking lot on a rainy Wednesday afternoon? "Clothes Not on People" is an interesting phenomenon. However, my recent loser-ness is helping me understand the lonely existence of such items and their plight. And I bet their owners are probably just as lonely without them...

20 February, 2011

Pursuit #63: Do all dogs really go to heaven?

I agree that (most) dogs are wonderful creatures. They are sweet, innocent animals that love you unconditionally and just want to be loved. But sometimes they are completely psychotic. I don't readily have access to Cesar Milan (aka The Dog Whisperer) or the British lady dog whisperer who looks like Sporty Spice. So what do I do?

I was told by the owner before she left town that one of her two smallish dogs doesn't like other dogs, so she just avoids other dogs. What she didn't mention was that this dog not only doesn't like other dogs, but doesn't like other humans, fire hydrants...or sounds for that matter. 

This morning's walk was going swimmingly, until a small unsuspecting toddler walked by with her father. The way the dog leapt at this small child and her father, you'd think they were made out of ham. There was gnashing of teeth, uncontrollable barking and me apologizing to the father while simultaneously trying to quell this furry beast that probably weighs all of 10 pounds. Another dog walked by on the other side of the parking lot, leading to another bout of insanity. At this point, I aborted the walk. 

When one lives in a giant apartment complex, how does one avoid any and all living things and inanimate objects? Something tells me this is impossible. Maybe these are just the classic symptoms of doggy cocaine use?

Looks innocent enough

When the crazy is unleashed

09 February, 2011

Pursuit #62: A whole lotta weird

today in a nutshell:

I also wouldn't be surprised if he speaks Klingon. My 4th visit to the chiropractor. He's quite the character. Mostly I just smile and nod as he quotes the Hippocratic Oath in some accent or says strange cliche phrases in other accents. He likes accents. 

Where the clippings went were of no concern to her...My daily visit to feed this lady's cat. The lady is at home recovering from surgery and can't bend over to feed the cat etc. which is where I come in. Some days she speaks of her crazy cousin who ransacked her apartment while she was in the hospital and bemoans the horrific threats that said cousin made towards aforementioned cat. Today she wanted me to clip her cat's toenails while she held him...in her bed.

We're talking Pantene Pro-V commercial silky smooth + KFC Colonel white. I had my first Albino sighting - an Asian albino child with the shiniest, whitest hair I'd ever seen. As Molly pointed out, not unlike that of Hulk Hogan (according to Sweet Dee on It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia).

Not exactly the poster child for sound financial advice. I encountered a friend of my aunt's coworker who has done odd jobs for their office over the years. This nomadic (veritably homeless) man wearing a camouflage jacket and a long white scraggly beard (think Gandolf) told me about a "dog with a big vocabulary" and proceeded to dispense monetary advice to me as he watched the TV for the stock market update and discussed his plans for starting a fishing foundation in upstate NY. Also, he lives in his van.

31 January, 2011

Pursuit #61: Sigh. The trials and tribulations I must go through to preserve my vanity.

Sometimes when I go to restaurants or businesses in McLean, I feel like they are warp zones that whisk me away into some alter-reality. Like you walk inside and the people, atmosphere, scenery, and well everything just seems so un-McLean like and not AT ALL what you expected when you saw the outside of the building.

I entered one of these warp zones recently to undergo the cosmetological procedure of laser hair removal. Thank you, Groupon! But perhaps I shouldn't thank you just yet...

From the moment I walked into this warp zone, I knew my visit would not be normal - something about the smallness of the place, the lady who handed me a clipboard and showed me to the waiting room without asking me who I was or what I was there for, to the mother talking on her cell phone at eleventy billion decibels (in baby talk and Spanish no less) while being shushed by her high schooler daughter. It appeared that because of the popularity of their Groupon, this establishment is basically herding people through like cattle.

After everyone else in the waiting room had been cleared except for me, I was visited by the doctor slash owner. After awkwardly hovering over me, he joined me on the couch. He asked me my age, where I was from and what I was coming in for. Next, he gave me an egregious sales pitch about the other procedures they offer...based on my appearance. As he studied my face, he said I needed some injections under my eyes and around my mouth, as well as a laser to shrink the "really large" blood vessels under my eyes. Now I'm not a doctor like this guy, but I'm pretty sure the blood vessels near my eyeballs - you know the part of my body that helps me SEE - are pretty important and probably shouldn't be tampered with. He peppered in some additional remarks about some "red" areas ("Are those pimples?") on my face. It must have been Double Bonus Day in this warp zone: the deal on my procedure + an unsolicited/invasive free consultation! 

In addition to the above, there were uncomfortable bodily noises coming from this man during his speech and an awkward moment in the treatment room involving an open window and onlooking office buildings. Oh, Groupon, you sure know how to pick 'em!

27 January, 2011

Pursuit #60: Brain Wars

The psychiatrist asked his patient if he had trouble making decisions. The patient responded, "Well, doc, yes and no." That is me more often than I'd like to admit.

I am listening to a book on CD (aka the most convenient way to read these days). It is called How We Decide by Jonah Lehrer. As someone who has OFTEN suffered from paralysis by analysis of mundane things like which cereal to buy (as the author mentioned prompted him to research the topic for this book) or difficult things like what to do with my life, I felt I needed to read this book. From it I found that in its "default" setting, your brain is basically at war with itself.

This is not a regular self-help book. The book discusses how the brain is ever soooooo complex, and therefore what goes on in it during different decision-making moments varies based on the type of decision you're trying to make. So there is no one tried and true method to decision-making that can be used across the board.  Our brain wars pit emotions v. rationality, our gut instincts v. our reasoned thoughts. However there are lots of different emotions involved coming from different brain areas. Our prefrontal cortex often tries to mediate and integrate all these emotions plus all the other information the brain is sending, so we can make a rational decision. But when we try to quiet the disquiet in our brains by shutting off one area in order to make a decision, we ignore certain emotions or override them completely and over-rationalize. And actually, it's our EMOTIONS that we should really be listening to when making complex decisions.

Our prefrontal cortices can only take in about 7 pieces of information at one time (7!), so it easily gets overwhelmed. No wonder I get stalled in trying to pick out cookies and cereal - there are waaay too many options for my brain to handle.

"Our emotional brain is actually much better at taking in lots and lots of information. Summarizing lots of data very efficiently, and saying, 'Here's a feeling. Don't worry about all the details. Here's a feeling. We've already taken those details into account.'"
The trick is trying to figure out what emotions to listen to in which situations. But armed with this information about the mechanics of my brain, how easily overwhelmed it can become by too much info, and how to trust my emotions then should make me a better decision-maker, yeah? Well, in reality it did - I actually was able to apply some of this self-knowledge of my brain and emotions to decide to make a big change in my life (grad school!). And for once, I really think it's the right one!

Q&A with the Author on Amazon
NPR interview with the author
CBS News article about the author/book

24 January, 2011

Pursuit #59: Chiropractor Virgin no more!

Until Saturday, I was in some rather (recently) severe back pain. And until Saturday I was a chiropractor virgin. Now, I am in generally less back pain due to my quirky visit. I have no basis of comparison of what other chiropractors do, so I have no idea what's considered normal. 

1. "You have really great blood pressure and heart rate. Especially for someone who doesn't work out."

2. During exam: "Hmmm..." followed by writing on clipboard.

3. Also during exam: "Interesting..." followed by writing on clipboard.

4. "Hmm...don't confuse the chiropractor now!"

5. "Subluxation confirmed!"

6. He explained everything he did and why. Even the unexplainable: "There is no explanation for this. It was invented in the 1920's. Several studies have tried to find scientific evidence to back it up to no avail. Essentially, I'm harmonizing you with the universe." Ah, of course.

There was some cracking and manipulation (not painful as I had imagined), some acupressure (this was way more painful than the manipulation), and some of the aforementioned mysterious "voodoo." I wore a peptobismal pink gown while a quirky D.C. with a salt and pepper ponytail cracked jokes about trying to get me to reveal my co-conspirators. At one point I walked around the room twice with one boot on and one boot off, as I was directed to do so. I let this man adjust my freaking spine! In retrospect, it's quite baffling what we let total strangers do to us when we're in a medical/doctor's office, isn't it?  

10 January, 2011

Pursuit #58: Neither here nor there

One can be scatterbrained, but can you ever just be "brained?" Perhaps I inherited my mom's tendency to make up words - she used the word murderize twice in the last couple weeks until we called her out on it. She claims it's a real word because when we tried to look it up, only urban dictionary says it's a word...the irony being that usually urban dictionary includes slang terms that are "hip" and my mom is the antithesis of hip. Either urban dictionary is losing its sway or my mom is wilder than we thought. She does wear animal prints sometimes... 

As I've gotten older, and through various shared experiences, I've learned to appreciate my family more. We're all a lot funnier than I previously thought. Well, at least we think we're funny. I can see how the bond between my family members has grown stronger over the years, and that is really cool. I've also decided that having a big family is kinda great cause if you don't like one person, there are plenty more options to choose from. 

I miss my grandma, Gammy, heaps, but I'm actually glad for her passing since she was pushing 94 and in rather poor health with a diminishing quality of life. That became very evident when I went down to help take care of her for the last couple weeks. She had lived without my grandpa for 16 years and she'd been yearning to go and meet him. I'm not entirely sure what her work was here that she had to finish before she could go join him, but it was so perfect that I got to spend her last couple weeks with her. She was a huge part of my life growing up and all throughout, like a second mother really, so I loved having a chance to help her out in return. My aunt apologized to me for things not happening the way we had planned when I came down to care for Gammy (i.e. her death), and all I could say was, "But maybe things did happen the way they were supposed to." She had such a long, fulfilling life. While I don't aspire to live as long as her, I do aspire to enjoy life the way she did, giving from the bottom of her heart always.

The funeral was wonderful. It made me laugh. It made me cry. As many probably feel on the heels of a funeral or the passing of a loved one, I felt the preciousness of life, a reminder to savor and not take for granted our relationships or the way we choose to live. I was reminded of the importance of family and how wonderful a feeling it must have been for Gammy to see her progeny altogether laughing, talking, crying and full of love for each other. It's an amazing thing to see so many people bound together by not only blood, but love and to think that it's all because of her. The things she left behind in her house are just...things and they just don't matter. The people she left behind...her familial empire is truly amazing though. In the end, family really is all that matters. 
"Gammy" 1917-2011