Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Bane of all my Resolutions

I was cleaning my room at my parents' house when I discovered, much to my joy, the missing disc to Final Fantasy VII (for Windows). I had thought it was gone forever. So had my brother. He's now jealous (he no longer runs a Windows machine, and therefore cannot even steal it from me). And I have just left Midgar for the world at large, having decided to save it from Sephiroth. It's pretty wonderful. And the boss music is now stuck in my head.

Also there are lots of minigames that I don't remember; I am more used to FFVIII or FFX (neither of which have I beaten -- my brother is an absurd backseat gamer and that took much of the fun away from video games), which are much more straightforward. I think I like the small varieties of gameplay, although I have to admit that I am terrible at just about all of them (just like I'm terrible at most video games).

I had all of these really good resolutions planned, too, but I think in the short term I won't even keep a resolution of "Don't spend every waking moment playing FFVII". So I might have to revise those. We shall see.

Friday, December 26, 2008


A drabble, inspired by the word Paltry:
“Don’t touch that!” the shout rang out across the room. “Don’t you dare!”

Jacob stared quizzically at his niece and the decorated paper plate in his hand. Most of the glitter had worn off, the bright colors faded. “What?”

“Put it down, now.”

Jacob set it down, still confused. Annie glared up at him. “That is the special-est award I have ever gotten. It is one of a kind. No one can touch it.”

Jacob stared up at the large mass-produced trophies that adorned the shelves, and the paper plate covered in tempera paint, and thought that maybe he understood.
Saw "Frost/Nixon" today. It was really well done, and sparked a conversation about corruption in government and what Nixon did other than Watergate and whether (to simplify horribly) he was just a total slimeball and a crook or an overall decent president who did some really stupid corrupt things at the end of his tenure and got caught. (Diplomacy with China and Russia? Founding the EPA? wha?)

Also had an adventure trying to get a custom calendar made for my mother. Ritz Camera stores appear to have problems employing non-obnoxious people, and also keeping their printers working. Two stores later, we still had not found a place that could print the calendar anytime in the known future. Which was not the result my mother and I expected, or desired. Especially since my father had received an e-mail telling him not that they had gotten his order, but that the calendar was printed and ready for pickup. Which was quite something in our opinions.

Thursday, December 25, 2008


A drabble, perhaps part of a longer piece and obliquely inspired by the word "Oblique":
“So, what do you do?” he asked, leaning too close for Sarah’s comfort.

She coughed lightly. “You’re psychic. Why don’t you tell me?”

He paused; perhaps offended. “Clever.” No such luck. “You work with Janice.” That wasn’t a surprising insight. “So, HR.” He grinned. “Impressed?”

“Forgive me if I’m not,” she said bluntly.

He smirked. “You have a useless degree in Philosophy from Cornell. You work long hours, without thanks. You don’t go out; haven’t since last year. Janice talked you into this and abandoned you, ‘for your own good’.”

He paused; she stared.

“No, Janice did not tell me.”
To a certain extent, my stubborn angry determination has defeated my writer's block. At least, this drabble was quicker than the last one. So that's good. Also, I've started going over November's Novel and will be posting it starting Jan. 1, with posts every week. It would be nice to be regularly posting something longer than 100 words, again.

Christmas was quiet; no one in my family could sleep last night (as in, everyone was awake at 4 AM), so we didn't do too much today. But I did have time to watch four Doctor Who Christmas Specials (all of the new ones, for those who know or care). I have to say, the newest one (The Next Doctor) is probably my favorite; vying with The Christmas Invasion. I would lean towards saying I like the new one better, largely because some of the themes that they've been playing with -- humans almost as clever, and therefore almost as powerful, as the Doctor, for one, and the Doctor's central loneliness, for another -- are done nicely in The Next Doctor and not even touched in The Christmas Invasion. And I like those themes.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008


Merry Christmas to everyone I have not caught on the telephone! Merry Christmas, Happy Channukah, Happy New Year, Winter Solstice, Holidays, etcetera, etcetera, and so forth! Pretty much, I love you all, and miss most of you (those of you I haven't seen today), and hope that you are having a wonderful holiday season.

I'm sitting in the living room; the rest of the family has gone to sleep after watcing Wall-E (to Kevin from Santa), while tomorrow's dinner boils and bubbles away on the stove (I was bored and overambitious -- yes, it is past eleven here). I have at least an hour's worth of cook time left, and not much of anything to do. I cleaned up the living room (all wrapping paper is gone); I even got my brother to help. And now I'm back to my standard state this break: boredom.

I have not been posting largely because I have not felt like I had anything to write; I have been trying to write this break and have not had much success at all (2 pages of beginning to nothing in particular doesn't count). I think the creative deficit is finally hitting me (last night and this afternoon especially), which spurred the decision to cook, certainly. It was something to do, at least, but it didn't really make me feel like I had brought anything new into the world -- except a batch of pasta sauce that is still incomplete and could have been done hours ago if I had done it the way mom always does it instead of adding too much liquid. And a loaf of cornbread which turned out nicely.

It's been forever since I had an idea for a story, basically, and I'm really beginning to feel it. The drabble below is my attempt at forcing myself to re-enter the fray, even if I feel like I'm rusty and out of shape and have run out of any unique ideas. Honestly, I'm not; I'm burned out intelletcually after finals week and out of practice with writing after my Nano-inspired break. I just need to get back into it. Which is, perhaps, easier said than done.

Perhaps that can be a New Year's resolution. That and a few other things, like "Excersize outside of Silks class" and "Ask more questions" (this is my favorite).

On NPR today a TV critic listed his top 10 TV shows of 2008. Making the list was Pushing Daisies (ABC, I hate you for cancelling one of the few good shows on television) and Doctor Horrible (Yes, even though it was not on television -- it was so awesome they bent the rules).

Drabble: Made Up, inspired by the word "Narcissism"
Juliette primped for the mirror. She smiled at it winningly. Her mother called something from downstairs, but she disregarded it, adjusting her hair infinitesimally.

She looked lovely.

Her date was, of course, waiting. She checked her appearance one last time, making sure nothing had gone awry. No, still beautiful. She almost cried at the beauty of her own visage, but she stopped for the sake of her mascara. She stood, carefully, and turned for the steps.

When she got to the front door, he was gone.

“Where is he?”

“It’s been two hours. Did you expect him to wait forever?”
On a completely unrelated note, I am glad the Doctor Who Christmas Special shows in the UK tomorrow; this means I might be able to see it sometime in the next century. (Boo to BBC America for showing the last three Christmas Specials here tomorrow, and not the new one!) And you know you've gone into Doctor Who withdrawal when you start dreaming about the Doctor. I was Martha (I was not "his companion", I was specifically Martha). There were plant-people. I woke up before discovering what their intentions were, but the Doctor was not the least bit afraid. Last night was a big night for dreaming; there was also something about Chicago, but much more of that has faded away since waking.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

I Found My Heart in San Fransisco?

Har har har.

But somewhat more seriously, as I was walking (slowly, slowly) up from aerial class today towards the MUNI stop, breathing in the cold fog and breathing out slightly warmer fog, considering eating the chocolates I had been given for christmas as dinner (they were delicious), I had one of those movie-homecoming moments. You know, the last scene of the movie that goes with the epilog of the heroine having found a home and a new life and going off to change the world? It just felt comfortable and right. Which is pretty awesome, since I didn't really feel at home in Chicago until the end of my second year or something like that. I think, in part, it is related to the fact that I am doing things that force me out into the city more often than I was in Undergraduate, and also because everyone here is super friendly. Like, whoah.

On the other hand, I went to a stretching class today. Trust me when I say it was seriously hard core. No intro to yoga class, this. As in, they nicknamed it contorture. It appealed to a somewhat older audience than the aerial class I usually take, I think, although I am uncertain as to why -- flexibility goes before strength does, at least as far as I knew.

I'm going to start by saying I am not a contortionist. There are people who are bendy, naturally, and there are people who build muscle mass naturally. I am fairly squarely in the latter category, given my gender and age. When I was a gymnast, I hated it when my coaches would push me into stretches, because it hurt. And I was still not as flexible as my little brother, no matter how much my coaches pushed and pulled and stretched. Now I am perhaps a little more flexible than my little brother (he stopped stretching, I didn't), but I have discovered that it still hurts. And, if I thought that the pushing my gymnastics or diving coaches would do was bad, it was mostly because I had never trained with contortionists. Ouch.



The moment when I realized that I simply cannot do this ever again was when I couldn't breathe because the coach was compressing my lungs against a balance beam (pulling my shoulders back), while critiquing me that I should stop holding my breath and just relax (oh right because that is a perfectly natural thing to do when your arms are being torn out of their sockets); "See? When I said that you stretched farther!" he said as I almost passed out. I should have perhaps said the safe word (you know a class is going to be bad when there's a safe word. It was "Papaya") but I would have felt like a wimp, and my stubborn determination in the face of pain in general serves me well (I will not say whether it served me well in that situation or not, I have not decided yet). Also I couldn't really choke anything out (no air, and all) and settled instead for shaking my head madly.

When I do aerial stuff, I feel challenged and pushed but not that I am trying to get my body to do something it absolutely positively was not made to do. This time, I felt like saying "No, I cannot do that, I have organs there."

I was unaware, up until today, that one could stretch so much one felt sore the next day. I'm worried that tomorrow I might not be able to walk. And this class came highly recommended, too!

I'm also wondering if stretching out my pike and not so much my bridge for years in diving has made my arch worse than the rest of me, which is another explanation for why I was thinking "this class is maybe pretty okay even though it hurts like none other, and it would be super useful to get more flexible" until they started stretching out our backs, when it turned into "O God O God I am in pain and I cannot breathe haallllppp!"

As if to make matters worse, a dancer dropped in to the aerial class who would have been a great contortionist. Part of me is really jealous of people who can bend like that, in part because I think that their poses look so much cooler and prettier than the ones I can do. This is only made worse after 1.5 hours spent undergoing huge amounts of pain in order to... not bend that much. I mean, really. Even just being able to do the splits would be nice. On the other hand, she couldn't really do a straddle-up, or climb the silks. And I think I would be much more disappointed if instead of being able to climb to the top of the silks (or ropes or lampposts or trees or what have you) I could, I dunno, put my leg behind my head, or kiss my foot without bending my knees.

Time for a hot shower and sleep. And fingers crossed that I can get out of bed tomorrow! It will be lucky if I can.

Friday, December 12, 2008


1. There is, somewhere in my neighborhood, someone with a horn that plays La Cucaracha. Or rather, something that sounds an awful lot like a horn that plays La Cucaracha. I hear it every morning -- yawny childish brass honking cheerily.

2. My PI for my first rotation lives in a redwood forest. She invited the lab to her home for a Christmas party, and we went on a hike to get to her house. Better yet, she has a slackwire in her backyard. For her five year old daughter. A slackwire! Which is, in my opinion, possibly the most awesome thing ever. I climbed on it, but did not feel comfortable letting go of the balance ropes.

3. My cheesecake was a success! It was tasty, but next time I will 1) put more sugar and more lime in (the filling was a bit bland for my tastes), 2) use unsalted butter + salt on the crust for better control, and 3) possibly try the method where you put the spring-form pan in a dish of water to bake, thus making it cook slower.

4. After close contact with a Saint Bernard and the rain, I smelled like a wet dog. The dog was pretty much the sweetest animal ever. I really like Newfoundlands and Saint Bernards, I've decided, even more than I like big Labradors. Their mellowness is nice. I might like them better if I wasn't allergic, however.

5. Watching the fog come in over the redwood-covered mountains is amazing. Absolutely amazing.

Tomorrow is the latke party; I'm about as prepared as I want to be at this point (cookie dough in the fridge, etc). I just have to hope I don't burn the potatoes. *fingers crossed*

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


First, a drabble, inspired by the word "elocute":

She feared becoming the teacher from Charlie Brown – standing in the front of the room, pontificating, while all anyone could hear was “wah wah wah”. She could envision her students’ eyes glazing over, the boy in the back of the room falling asleep, the two girls in the corner passing notes.
That was, if anyone asked her, why she chose to speak so clearly. Sharp consonants and round vowels would keep her from fading into the ignominy of incomprehensibility.
But she couldn’t explain all that to Johnny when he asked, “Why do you use your teacher’s voice all the time?”
I have many reasons to celebrate today. First (and most important): I am done with my first quarter of graduate school! W00! I finished up my last final today, hand it in tomorrow at 10 AM, and so that leaves me with a week or so more time to really dedicate myself to my rotation lab before I go on vacation and start my next rotation. This is pretty thrilling to me.

Second: my silks instructor today (I celebrated by going to the city for lessons. This was not an abnormal activity for me, but it was celebratory anyway.) looked at me at the beginning of class and said "You know lots of tricks. You should start trying to tie them together. Your job for today is to make a phrase of two or three tricks." Which was happy (I know lots of tricks!) but terrifying (What do I know about stringing them together?) But I did it, and at the end of class she had everyone (which meant both of my classmates and herself, so not many people) watch while I did my little phrase. It was probably terrible, but I didn't fall down -- I actually came out of the last trick gracefully (which is a big deal for me) and so I was happy with it, especially for the first time. Chris (a classmate) had the same duty, and while his had a lot more cool tricks, he got tired halfway through and it was sloppy afterward. On the other hand, he has a lot of dance experience so he probably has a better idea on where to start with this "choreography" thing.

Saturday, December 06, 2008


First, a drabble, inspired by the word "Sentinel":
They said it was impossible to get past the sentinel; that no one had ever reached the castle unknown. But Daniel had his ways. He was better than the others.

He was not, however, as good as the girl he tripped over in his way through the forest. “Sorry!” she yelped, smiling warmly and moving out of his way. “Are you going to the castle?”

Daniel nodded instinctively. He realized too late that he should be keeping his secrets.

“Marvellous!” she said, cheerily. “I am too!”

“Why?” he asked.

“To tell the king you’re here,” she chirped. “I’m the sentinel.”
Also, my mother laughed at me when I said I was surprised that strangers on the street have conversations with me. She pointed out that I once lent my phone to a (probable) drug dealer on Michigan Avenue. In my defense, I did not think he was a drug dealer, just a man without a phone. (Although it is a good story). She also laughed at my assertion that I was a cynical, east-coast, city-type and not a friendly California type. However, I stand by my assertions and my surprise.

Speak of the Devil

First, a drabble:

It would have been remarkable to run into Brian even if he hadn’t been a subject of conversation at dinner. After all, who expects to run into acquaintances from Chicago when one is in California? But there he was, at the ice cream shop.
“Wow! It’s you again! How’s the quarter been?”
“Alright. Busy. Yourself?”
The conversation was short: two people who don’t really know each other but want to keep up appearances.
“That was cool,” Roger said, as Brian walked away.
“Yeah, but if we had known this would happen, we totally should have talked about Scarlett Johannsen.”
Yes, this actually happened. I was out with friends tonight, and as such my creative energies were spent being witty. But we did run into another Chicago-ite after talking about him (mostly the fact that he is in Palo Alto) at dinner. Another funny (and ENTIRELY TRUE) story, however:

So I was waiting for friends to get frozen yogurt (there is a new trend in Palo Alto, which is sour frozen yogurt with fresh fruit), and this older woman (older than my parents) stands up right behind me. She almost bumps into me, and then suddenly sits back down, so I sort of move out of the way and apologize, assuming that I've gotten in her way somehow. She says that I wasn't in her way and should not be sorry. This sparks a conversation. (Do not ask me how this sparks a conversation, as I do not rightly know.)

She likes my (red wool double breasted) coat, and asks if it is vintage. I say that I made it, and she is impressed, asks me to model it (turn around). She likes the flare (which is my favorite part, so I appreciate that). Asks me what I do, is surprised by "genetics". She is from the midwest, (Michigan, I think) and loves the fact that it doesn't get too cold in Palo Alto over the winter, but admits that icicles and snow in Michigan are beautiful. An older man comes to pick her up, and she asserts that he has had a stroke, and he is totally bonkers, and they aren't married but she has to look out for her fellow students. I am not sure what this meant. As she leaves, she gives me a hug, remarking upon the fact that I am skinny.

I turn back to my friends, who ask "Who was that?" and I have to respond, "I don't know. I've never seen her before in my life." On the one hand, I admit that it is probably odd I have just conversed for five minutes (and hugged?) a woman who I have never met. On the other hand, it seemed the most natural thing to do in the situation. And it's not sketchy if she's a motherly or grandmotherly sort of person. Although it certainly was odd.

Thursday, December 04, 2008


So, this idea hit me this afternoon. In particular, the idea was a super power that was not invisibility as such, but simply the ability to go unnoticed. Constantly. It morphed into this:
The envelope was fluorescent pink, and still Andy almost discarded it with the rest of his junkmail.

The sender was “The Department of Supernatural Affairs.”

He opened the envelope. An application fell out, and a cover letter.

“Dear Sir,” it proclaimed in big, bold letters,

“You have not come to our attention in a search for applicants for a position at the Department of Supernatural Affairs.

“Are you constantly overlooked? If so, the Department of Supernatural affairs may be perfect for you! Meet other people like you, who use their remarkable unremarkability to be extraordinary and unnoticed.”

Andy blinked. What?

Wednesday, December 03, 2008


A rather literal take, because I feel like it.
People were rarely surprised that Caty worked with the circus; they were more surprised, however, that she was an acrobat. How could she perform with her… disability?

But she put up with their stares, with their ogling, because once she got on stage everything changed. Suspended, she was as graceful as a prima ballerina standing on the tips of her toes. She floated in silks, and twined with rope; even cold chains lifted her up rather than keeping her down. Freed of gravity, her freakishness was turned to beauty.

After all, who needs feet when they can’t touch the ground?
The aerial fabrics class will be offered again next quarter, which is excellent, and I do not think it clashes with any of my classes, which is also excellent. I will keep my fingers crossed!


Inspired by the word of the day, Bulwark, and the fact that I saw people practicing for what I hope is a pirate-themed acrobatics act to be performed on Saturday. One which involves back flips onto bulwarks. These people were amazing. It made me want to take a tumbling class. But I could never get that good; I do not have the spring. However, I do have two classes to make up, from missing in Galapagos and Election Day. *intruigued* Tumbling class, or stretching class? Or perhaps one of each? (I've narrowed it down from "Oh my gosh classes!" to those. I'm glad I have only three options.)
“I’m just a simple sailor,” he claimed, glancing warily at his interlocutor. “I have no idea what you are talking about.”

His interlocutor, from the shadows, laughed. “It’s no use hiding anymore,” the gravelly voice came. “I might have believed you once, but now? Your performance on the rigging was not that of a simple sailor.”

“I’ve been at sea all my life.”

“All the other sailors were hiding from the storm; you were climbing like a monkey. And the back flip onto the bulwark? It was a little excessive.”

He winced. The back flip had been his favorite part.

In other news, I think I totally freaked out a couple on the MUNI. I was riding home with Chris (from Silks), debating quarter versus semester, and lauding the joys and despairs of a liberal education. The funny thing was that I had forgotten my water bottle, and so had water in a cup without a lid, with which I jogged to the MUNI, spilling water all over my front while Chris held the bus for me. His reaction upon seeing me: "Are you okay?!"

Yes, they stared at us for the rest of the time on the MUNI. I think it helped that the first thing we talked about was dedication, and how it is easier if your friends know you have a strange habit and support it -- this morning, to my "Ugh I only got four hours of sleep last night. Maybe at six I'll take a nap instead of going to the city" the biochemists (Ruth and the Rooses, to be particular) responded instantly "No! You have to do your circus stuff!"

Maybe they just wanted to avoid me, but I'd like to pretend that they had my best interests at heart. And since I learned this really nifty new trick that looks like you're sitting on the silks (without, mind you, tying up your foot), I have them to thank. (It's one of those deceptively easy-looking tricks: where, if someone can do it well, it looks so simple and restful -- you're just sitting there with your legs crossed -- and then you realize that the only reason they're not slipping down the fabrics is because they are pinching it for dear life between their knees.) Also because my roll-down (a trick in which you wrap the fabrics around your waist and roll down them; you control your speed by how fast you feed the fabric through the loop, and you can spin as many times as you want until you hit the ground, but it's easy to lose the silks and get tangled, and body-position is supersuper important and supersuper difficult: it is, in fact, remarkably difficult to hold a hollow position while suspended from your waist, feeling the pinch of fabric and gravity on your lungs, kidneys, liver, etc) is making progress; I can almost sort of do it! w00!

Monday, December 01, 2008

As promised!

A drabble! Inspired by "Valediction," the word of the day!

The passing of November is the passing of adventure. November is a time when anything is possible, when the sun still shines through the crystalline winter cold. In November, there is still time for this year to surpass all others, still time for one more frantic burst of energy before the long nights and short days of winter curtail our efforts. December is the beginning of the end; December is the bells tolling, slowly, counting down the days, hours, minutes, seconds until the New Year: another year gone, and where are we now?

What have we done that was worthwhile?

In other news, we discussed the Immortal Strand Hypothesis in journal club today. It postulates that stem cells retain older copies of DNA in their cells, thus preventing or at least reducing the risks of DNA lesions and mutations. Which implies, in turn, that sister chromatids segregate non-randomly. Which is pretty cool, and pretty weird, at the same time. I might edit this post later tonight to explain, if that isn't clear. (One common question is "If each chromatid is made up of one mother and one daughter strand, how can you have newer or older copies?" -- for now, the short answer is: think of the next cell division.)