Friday, February 29, 2008

Reflection 1

I was a bit ranty in my last two posts, and I believe that this ranty-ness is in direct correlation with my lack of exercise in the past week. I get a little Uppity at times (if I don't get my cardio in.)

I felt that I needed to clarify that I was not attacking Tino in the previous post, I just had a different perspective and wanted to share. The type of thing I said in what little girls are made of was the type of thing I would tell my mother and sister, and they would respond: Fermi, don't go saying that to anyone else.

Which is why I need this blog. I need the aliases and the anonymity because so much of what I think I cannot say. Or I could say it, but it would be politically unwise. I hate politics, but it is our world, and I have to figure out how to be smart. Being politically smart in alot of cases means not saying how I really feel. I'm not good at that yet, but I'm working on it.

To wrap this up: I do love this blog: the freedom of expression and the diversity of thought. I like the comments and support, and I am happy to have this safe haven from the real world. Be patient with me. I've got to grow up eventually... right?

Thursday, February 28, 2008

what little girls are made of

This entry is in response to Tino’s “Sugar and Spice.”

I’ll start with Power. Currently we live in a white male dominated society. Old white men hold the power in (for example) the Academy: currently they run almost every department. Old white men are usually more sexist than the majority of the population, and I have a general dislike for their lack of emotional enlightenment. If I could get away with never speaking to one of these gentlemen again, I would. But that is not the case. I have to learn to deal with them until that generation dies off. These guys do have the power, but I want nothing to do with them because I have judged them to be underdeveloped. I don’t give a shit if they think I am attractive or not, and I would rather if they kept that opinion to themselves anyway.

Summary: Old white dudes have power. I hate them.

But what about guys in my age group? As a whole, I have been generally unimpressed with them as well. Most of them fail in one or more of these categories: intelligence, self-awareness, balance, kindness, self-discipline, integrity, social skills, compassion, and self-motivation. So what do I think when I see the pretty but otherwise uninteresting blond falling all over some guy? I think: Those are two hormonal kids.

Am I scraping for power from these guys that are less developed than me? Hells No! I have way more power than them to begin with. They might be able to bench press more than me, or run faster, but that doesn’t matter right now. These are not the cave man days where we have to hunt buffalo on foot, and we have to rely on men because they can run fast. These are the times where education will let you get ahead, that and being smart, socially smart, politically smart, etc. I was told yesterday that most men are intimidated by a woman with a PhD. And to that I say: That’s because those guys don’t have their act together.

Do I feel like I am in competition with other women? No. Because if a guy can’t see that I am the most incredibly awesome person in the world, then he does not have his shit together, I guarantee you. It takes an enlightened person to recognize one.

Under “Competition with other women” you will find: fashion rules, how-to-act rules, etc. And I say: Fuck Your Rules. I make my own.

And Tino, I am sorry that you find it difficult to function in female relationships. I don’t know the whole story here, but I bet that those difficult female relationships were with some chicks who didn’t have their shit together.

Catty Chicks = Unenlightened idiots.

And girls that are only friends with guys have other issues all together.


As I was rushing out the door this morning to go to work, I picked up my bag and slung it over my shoulder, locked the door to my apartment, and then began my decent down the flights of stairs leading to the ground level of my building. I'm hurrying down the stairs in my cowboy boots as fast as I can without falling and I become increasingly aware that my bag weighs approximately one million tons. I'm thinking to myself, "What in the WORLD is in this thing?" It feels like my bag gave birth to a litter of baby bags overnight and now I'm carrying the whole extended family on my shoulder. Obviously, my bag didn't accumulate all of this weight over the course of one night. It's been a gradual process that started when the handle of my knock-off Miu Miu bag broke and I switched to this tote bag that I got at a Sonic Youth concert in 2001. The bag's been well-used and it shows. It smells weird and has a few holes in the bottom that I like to think of as a handy filter for items too small to be of any significance anyway. Like pennies. We live in a disposable society, right? Anyway, when I get on the train, I open up my bag and started rifling through its contents. Here's a list of what I found:

1 wallet (contains driver's license & social security card (!))
1 copy of Kafka on the Shore
1 harmonica
4 pairs of glasses (1 prescrip, 2 sunglasses, 1 pair cat-eye faux lens)
1 passport
1 guitar slide
1 unopened copy of Xiu Xiu's "Women As Lovers" CD
1 ipod video (no headphones)
1 digital camera (batteries dead)
1 pair of gloves
1 checkbook
1 tube of lipstick + misc. lip glosses/chapsticks
2 tubes of concealer
1 letter from my mom
+ a veritable cornucopia of pharmaceuticals: 1 bottle of Pepto Bismol,
1 bottle Tylenol, 1 empty bottle of Aleve, anti-anxiety pills,
anti-nausea pills, and motion-sickness tablets.

Now, if you add all these variables up you're bound to come to some important conclusion, right? What do these items MEAN. Why do I have them? What do they say about me besides that I'm practically begging to be a victim of identity theft? What's with the harmonica and all the drugs? Let me tell ya, that harmonica comes in pretty handy when I'm waiting on the subway platform and need some spare change. Seriously though, let's focus on this pharmacy that I carry around with me on a daily basis.

I haven't needed half of that medication in FOREVER. Fortunately, I've come a long way in battling my neuroses. At this point, the prescription pill bottles themselves serve as a pretty effect form of anxiety prevention. Just knowing that they're there in case of an emergency freakout is comforting. The bottle of Pepto is the most recent acquisition, and I think it rounds out my collection pretty nicely.

As for the other items, I think that they reveal several things about me. Like that I'm a music lover but I don't have enough time to listen to the music I like. That I never want to be without a means to cover my flaws. That I enjoy silly eye wear, especially if it makes me looks super queer. That I like Murakami just like every other hip commuter. That my mom is awesome and still uses good old-fashioned snail mail as a means of communication. That I like to document my experiences but don't like to purchase batteries...

What's in your bag?

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Sugar and Spice - like nutmeg, but not cayenne, right?

I'm intrigued anytime I feel a sense of true support from other ladies. This blog is interesting in that we've come together as a group to share and express, and there is a very non-competitive vibe that is worth noting. Probably since the age of eight when I started to have my first unhealthy relationships with other girls, I've been interested in the question of why we--as a gender--are always in competition with each other and why it's difficult to function in female relationships. And most of us live our lives trying NOT to be called a bitch or a ho (the fact that everyone is so ready to call a girl that is a whole other social problem).

For starters, I have feminist ideals, and I hate gender stereotypes and restrictive ideas about gender roles. I fucking hate the toy store for this: everything separated into girl toys and boy toys. At little toddlers' birthday parties, people get the kids things according to the kid's gender and start saying things like, "Ooh, he's gonna be a big football player when he gets older!" or "She's going to be a ballerina one day!"

Is it really that much of a stretch that a girl might want to play with the tool bench or a basketball? Is it ridiculous to think a little boy might want to take care of a little animal or a baby doll? (Of course then everyone will call him gay for being a nice human being. And what about gay and transgender kids? But I digress.) How will these kids even know what they like if they can't even choose what they're interested in?

The bigger question is: when I have kids, how do I let my kids choose their own passions in such a prescribed setting? And then people give you that look like you're such a weirdo and you're just mad at society "for no reason" and "just face it: little girls like pink, and little boys like guns. They're born that way." I don't buy into that. "Human nature" is such a big, vague, blanket excuse for things that have social explanations.

(note: I have personally worn tutus and pointe shoes and loved it--I am not the least bit against traditional feminine images in themselves. But my dad played baseball with me as a kid, too, and I never would have know I was a strong hitter if he'd assumed I could only be a dancer.)

But I'm getting ahead of myself here. I went to a birthday party for my BF's nephew who was turning one. He pretty much just likes colors. It was hard to find something that wasn't over-the-top hetero-boy. We settled for a fuzzy book about animals and a pound-shapes-into-holes-with-a-hammer game. Last year for his brother, we found a picnic set of fake food and plates and such--who doesn't like fake food?

So without much elegance, back to my orignal point (it will tie-in, I swear): people like to say girls are "naturally" catty, or women can't be friends with other women, or girls have "cat fights" because they just can't help themselves. I read a book once that proposed that the reason these stereotypes exist is because women really do compete heavily with each other and we're pretty threatened by other women because we are in the less-powerful gender category and we're scraping for power from the male group. I like this theory--it makes sense. For example: we compete for guys to think we're the most beautiful. Attention from them means power-by-proxy for us. Or some girls say, "I hate girls--they're so catty," to pretend to be one of the guys so that she may reap they benefits of feeling the power that guys feel.

BUT--the good news is that we can truly band together and have power through support and cooperation, of course. But this is more difficult than it sounds: when some pretty but otherwise uninteresting blond is throwing herself at some guy, would you talk shit about her? Or would you respond with a feeling of care like you wanted to help her lift herself up instead of searching for power in un-empowering ways? Would you be able to see all other females as part of your team and deserving of love and support? That's hard and pretty counter-intuitive for me based on the habits I've formed my whole life.

And as a supplement to my point, I'd like to add that guys have their own issues to work out with their gender role stereotypes (i.e., too much focus on physical strength and the ability to compete and be aggressive). Oh, and I do believe that race and sexual orientation affects gender roles and where you are in the social hierarchy of things. I'd love to hear a gay or non-white female perspective on all of this.

So anyway, this blog=cool ladies.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

the ultimate of Un-Cool

The previous posts about Identity intrigued me. I know who I am. I am beautiful, smart, thoughtful, responsible, creative, artistic, peaceful, healthy, and ridiculous. I am a scientist, a wife, a mom to my boys (dogs), a student, and a teacher. I am a friend and a daughter, maybe a sister. I have high standards for literature, music, and all other forms of expression. I have high standards for people, and an overbearing sense of justice. I dislike people that I deem unintelligent or cruel. I am hard to impress and hard to amuse. I only get surprised when my experiment starts working. (It stopped working, by the way.) I wear cool t-shirts. I never wear denim. I am an artist. I believe that kindness is the best thing. I believe that human relationships (all relationships from acquaintances to lovers) are the most important thing. I think for myself. I have my ducks in a row. I think I am the coolest person ever, although in the standards of the media, I am the ultimate of Un-Cool. I am fierce, but I am trying to be balanced. I am not always kind, but I know how to think and I have totally awesome hair. I'm shitty at spelling, I am messy, and I am prone to freaking out. I am not funny to other people, but I make myself giggle.

Now what? Are you thinking: "she has a big head"? I hate that. I hate that statement, that sentiment that we can't be in love with ourselves. Of course I have a big head. I am a scientist. We all do.

This weekend, coincidences happened, and I found myself at a bar. (!!!) Jips (husband) and I were there with Shawshank (friend) and his girlfriend (non-scientist). Now, Shawshank is a scientist, a physicist turned physical chemist. He is as smart as Jips and in the same way: he can throw theory* around and he can make anyone laugh. His girlfriend and I were talking and she said "he has a big head." And I didn't say anything. Because I hate it when people say that. I didn't say: We all have big heads. But it is true. We all do.

On a side note. I am totally inspired by this blog. Everyone posting makes me want to post. Everyone commenting. This is way better than I imagined. To my co-authors: You are incredible!

*quantum theory, string theory, etc.

oh me oh my

i was so proud because i wrote my first blog- and hadn't quite finished when it was time for class, so i saved it....and now it's gone. i'll take that as a sign that i should write about something else...
currently, the goal that all of the 2nd year grad students in my department have is to come up with a paper topic for our 3rd year papers. which really is the first stepping stone to writing a full-fledged dissertation. it's rather intimidating.
the trick is to come up with an idea that is new, a twist on some hot topic in the papers, and then to magically come up with a dataset that fits to answer your question. trouble is, the kinds of questions that are acceptable for an economics phd paper are not the kinds of questions that you can run experiments for (not that this would be an easier task i'm sure), but instead you have to find some firm or agency who just so happens to have researched and gotten data that fits to answer your question!
of course, i don't have an idea yet, so the data problem is a little bit of an early panic.
everyone always told me that procrastination improves as you get older.... maybe i'm not old enough for that to have set in yet?

Chemicals and The Road

Right now I'm feeling rather like Meryl Streep in Silkwood after she's been contaminated with radiation and thrown in the shower for a violent scrub-down. Not literally, of course, but such is my current mental state. The exterminator came to my apartment this morning and doused everything in my bedroom with some manner of chemical solution. They soaked my floors, walls, my dresser, my sofa, bookcase, stereo speakers, etc. ANYTHING that could potentially harbor the little beasts was drowned in the solution. I felt violated and above all, dirty, like each pump of the bug killer's canister was wheezing out, "Fil-thy, fil-thy, fil-thyyyyyy." But it's done with now. I'm at work, and maybe by the time I get home tonight the chemical stench of certain death will have dissipated. So, enough of this topic for now. There's so much else going on...

In less than I week I will be hitting the road for a 20 day long tour playing guitar with an awesome Brooklyn-based band. The tour is centered around the SXSW music festival in Austin where we'll be playing two label showcases and a handful of day parties. I haven't been back to Austin since I graduated from UT and moved to Brooklyn. It's been a little over a year, and the nostalgia has finally set in. Granted, SXSW week is an utter whirlwind of bands, booze, bbq, and way too many people, but it should be fun. We're playing Philly, Baltimore, Chapel Hill, Birmingham, Pensacola, Sarasota, Shreveport, and Houston on the way to the fest, and Dallas, Oklahoma City, St. Louis, Chicago, Indianapolis, Cleveland, and Pittsburgh on the way back. 20 days in a van with three dudes is going to be intense, but it's definitely going to be an experience. Oh, and I'll be celebrating my 24th birthday along the way as well! I should probably warn the guys about my driving skills prior to departure. The last tour vehicle that I operated overheated in the middle of West Texas sprawl and my bandmate and I had to hitchhike a ride to the nearest town where the Dairy Queen was the center of activity. Oh hell no. Wish me luck!

don't tell the principal

Well, I don't do it often, but I'm blogging from school. It is because I have a problem and need help. In the worst way.

I cannot find a good deodorant.

What do I mean by good?

  • prevents some (not necessarily all) sweat
  • covers some stank
  • does not get all crusty and disgusting on clothes (I am a big proponent for re-wearing stuff)
  • does not make my armpits feel like they are coated with Elmer's Glue at the end of the day and make me scrub them ragged with the shower poof

I just bought some Dove unscented on Sunday and it does not pass the test for bulleted point 2. Good thing I have some body spray at school because dang, I smell like one of those boys I teach. Ok, not really . . . at least I hope not.

Also, I am wearing white pants after labor day. When does that start over? The weather is getting up to high 60s/70s during the day so even though it's still February, I say they're ok.

I need to be working on grad school apps but (of course) it's the last thing I want to do. Here's what I really want to say.

Tell us how you think a grad degree in (random liberal arts field) would help to advance your intellectual and career goals?

"I really think that a grad degree would allow me to get more poontang. Lol! Rolf! For real though: I think 100,000 dollars of student loans would really add to my understanding of the world on a more critical level. I also like to hang out with indecisive but ambitious drunks. The end. Gtg."

Later taters.

Monday, February 25, 2008


I should be studying for a test right now. I always should be doing something that I don’t really want to do.

What is my identity? Well, I’m a student. But, I don’t want to only be defined by that one word. I used to be okay with that but now I’m not.

Most of my life I think I’ve tried to avoid the whole “identity” thing. Like, if I don’t think about it, I don’t have to have one. I’m not really that funny, chatty, pretty, unique, or interesting. I couldn’t figure out what I was. I think I was able to avoid it by not living in the present. Like when I was in high school I thought, “Man, college is going to be so great.” I get to college. It’s okay. Not as good as the media makes it look. And then there was the grad school pressure. What do I do with a science degree if I don’t get in? I don’t want to teach or do research, so I better work my ass off to get in. So, that became my next identity. Not caring about anything else but that.

So, I get in. I fantasized about how great it will be. Everyone there will be just like me, I thought. Real people that are serious. Ummm…not the case at all (for the most part)

So, now I’m screwed. I got depressed, real depressed. I decided that I can’t keep looking forward to the next thing.

What do I do now? Old friendships are fading. I come to realize people that were in my inner circle were just using me because I’m Olive, the girl that is always responsible and serious and can’t find a reason to say no to you. I won’t go there again.

It’s my own fault, I know. I don’t regret going to grad school. I know I’ll really like my career. But, my life has to be more than a career, doesn’t it? The only career I’ve had so far is being a student.

So, now I’ve come to the realization. I’m not really that funny, chatty, pretty, unique, or interesting. That’s okay. One day I will have a career more rewarding than getting good grades and I won’t have to work 24/7. I’ll have a balance. It’s all about the balance and I never had that.

I hoped that made sense. I’m not really good about thinking about stuff to write about or writing for that matter. I just ran with the identity theme.

How do you spell neurosurgeon?

Careers. What are those?

My kids are doing a research paper on a career that they think would fit them. Some of the dumbest said they wanted to be neurosurgeons and some of the smartest wanted to be basketball players and models.

They have no clue, and all I could do was continue to emphasize that they are just looking into a topic that is interesting to them. But it also has to be substantial enough for a paper, so "model" isn't going to exactly fill out three pages, much the way they don't fill out anything else. Like an application for a real job?

It was a lot of "THIS COMPUTER ISN'T LETTING ME IN" and "THIS SURVEY IS TRYING TO PLAY ME." No, hunny. You just didn't type your birthday in right on the profile page. Gotta love the freshman. I do most of the time. But they are some not-listening fools.

I started a short story this weekend. This is a big deal for me because I've been struggling with the being-a-teacher-and-still-being-a-whole-person issue. I haven't been to dancing in six months and I'm intimidated about stepping back in to class all rusty. Even though no one would care but me. It's going to be painful to realize how much catching up my body has to do.

So I try not to talk about short stories when they're not finished because I'll inevitably tell people about what I perceive to be my great ideas, and then they sound cliche out loud, so I lose my excitement and drive of writing them. I'm afraid my grueling school schedule going to suck the steam right out of this one, but I'm still excited about it. It's about a young teacher crossing lines with a student. Not autobiographical or completely creative, but it will be wrought with conflict I tell you! I'm interested also in taking advantage of this period of weird "What is this adult life after college supposed to be like?" And how all of the old insecurities from way back get drudged up and you start comparing yourself to people again and wondering if your present matches up to your past hopes for yourself at this age. It's a cool time of self-discovery (Wrought with conflict). And in a story, if a character is in that state, she'd be doing things that she wouldn't normally do if she had a handle on what kind of person she was and what she would and would not decide in her life. This summer...a teacher and a student walk the line between friends...and something else! Ugh. See what I mean.

For the Tie-In, I'd like to state that In Conclusion, careers are confusing to one's identity.

Heart Lifting Promises


I have someone's lunch which includes two bananas, a bottle of non
drowsy daytime relief medicine, two Nature Vally oats and honey bars and a book entitled: Heart Lifting Promises. Please claim.


The main secretary for our department sent out the above email to all chemistry graduate students. She is always sending out short and silly emails about lost items. This leads me to the two truths of the day:

1) grad school is crappy most of the time
2) being a secretary is a dumb job.

1) Grad school is crappy most of the time. This is illustrated by the contents of the lunch. Bananas and granola bars are two food items that are cheap and easy to grab. Notice how there are 2 each. This is because the owner knows that he/she will still be hungry after one banana and one granola bar. Obviously the lunch is missing the main course: A sandwich. But that is because a sandwich takes money for meat and time to make. And grad students don't have money or time. No time means no sleep, and you get the non-drowsy daytime meds. And finally Heart Lifting Promises, a book that only gets read by someone who thinks they need their heart lifted. Maybe that someone is horribly depressed because their experiment isn't working, or because their boss found a new way to screw them over. The email made me sad when I read it because obviously someone was having a hard time.

But for me, currently, Grad School is going very well. My boss is out of town, and my EXPERIMENT IS WORKING!!! On my first try no less!!! I think I was even more surprised than I was happy. On a side note, I am working on a proposal for my Oral Exam and I am trying to propose something that I think will work... It is intellectually challenging but doable and I feel well fitted for the job, which brings me to the second truth of the day:

2) Being a secretary is a dumb job. When things aren't going well, I often wish I had an easier, less-stressful job. But when I think about Pat sending out countless emails because she doesn't have anything else to do, I am thankful for my intellectual job.

*disclaimer* for people in graduate programs outside of the basic sciences, many of my comments may not apply.

My Little Criminal

Today, I was approached by a police officer.

Unwanted encounters with policemen are rarely pleasant, but this one was particularly foul. The officer himself was not the problem; on the contrary, he was kind, and his expression and tone showed that he was apologetic for impinging on my fun, though he never actually came out and said that.

I was at the park with my quiet and playful, 8lb, 4-month old puppy, running and throwing a miniature sized tennis ball (it is anatomically impossible for him to play with a normal size tennis ball).


We were in an isolated area in the far corner of the park, just loving the weather and each other and this opportunity to leave our (my) cares behind and just play. Out of nowhere, the aforementioned police officer drives his car down the walking path to tell me that someone had called in and reported us because the dog was NOT ON A LEASH! You can imagine the disappointment for me and my four-legged companion. Not a soul had come within 10 yards of us, and I assure you it was not out of fear. Who could we possibly have been bothering?? Even the officer acknowledged that the complaint was absurd, but when someone calls, he has to come.

To be honest, I didn't even bring a leash. So, I was forced to pick up my little criminal, carry him back to my car, and go home. He was crushed. He gave me the most pathetic puppy-dog-eyes I have ever seen, and I had no way of explaining to him that I was just as heart-broken as he was. I just hope he understands that it was not me who ruined his fun, or even the officer, but rather some invisible grump who can't stand to see others happy, especially at the expense of THE LAW!

On the bright side, the officer did mention a park on the other side of town where we could play. It's not legal to have unleashed dogs at that park either, but he said we were less likely to get reported. Isn't that nice? A cop helping me break the law. If only I could be so lucky when I'm trying to turn a 5 hour drive home into a 4 hour drive by speeding "just a little".

Goodnight, Sleep tight...

Waking up to find unwanted guests in my bed is fortunately not a situation to which I am accustomed. A couple of mornings ago however, I found myself face to face with a nasty stranger enjoying the space on my comforter between me and my girlfriend. Before you start jumping to conclusions, let's rewind a little bit...

A little over three weeks ago, I moved into a new apartment in the Greenpoint neighborhood of Brooklyn. It's a huge one bedroom railroad that I share with my sassy black cat Saffy. I have an office, a music room, a living room, and a HUGE bedroom. I pay a lot for it, but it's kind of perfect, and did I mention that it's only nine houses down from my girlfriend's place? By the way, my girlfriend is allergic to cats. Spending more than fifteen minutes in a room with Miss Saffy is likely to send her into an asthmatic fit. My former living situation involved a roommate who had two cats herself, so hanging out at my apartment was not an option. Luckily my new place is big enough for Saffy to have her own space in the rear two rooms of the apartment, so the majority of the living space is allergen-free. It's been awesome to be able to hang out at my apartment without worrying about a potential trip to the emergency room. Basically, the past three weeks have been really amazing. Ok, back to the other morning...

So, it's Friday morning and my girlfriend wakes up before me. I open my eyes and she's standing next to the bed examining her arm. "I have this weird welt on my arm." I say "huh" and she gets back into bed and shows it to me. Then, our guest makes itself known. I look down on the comforter and there he is. Mr. Bed Bug.

OK, those of you not living in Brooklyn or the third world probably aren't familiar with bed bugs. Until I moved to the city, all that I knew about them was that my mom encountered them in a dank motel in Moscow in the '70's. I started hearing about them shortly after I moved to Brooklyn. Horror stories, told mostly second-hand about infestations in cheap housing in parts of Brooklyn. "Don't move into the McKibben dorms. DO NOT MOVE THERE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD." I learned that bed bugs basically ruin your life. That they can pop-up anywhere, even expensive luxury housing in Manhattan. That they are near impossible to get rid of. That you have to throw away all of your furniture and clothing. That they can hitch rides on your shoelaces and proliferate wherever you travel with them. So yeah, you can imagine my horror when I find this beady blood-engorged beast in my perfect cozy little bed. My girlfriend was surprisingly calm and tried reassuring me by saying that it was only one bed bug and maybe it was just a rogue that escaped extermination and since we killed it everything would be okay. I called my landlord's office and told them that I found what appeared to be a bed bug in my bed and that I had it in a bottle and would very much appreciate a visit from the bug killer people ASAP. He was totally as thrilled as I was about the situation and sent someone out that afternoon to collect "the sample" to take to the exterminator. I managed to make it through the day at work without letting it completely takeover my thoughts. Oh my god, am I still blogging? This is getting long. FAST FORWARD --->>>

Saturday morning I find a letter slipped underneath my door addressed in pink ink to "Our New Neighbors in Apt. 5". I immediately thought, "Oh shit, my new neighbors are pissed that I'm playing guitar in the apartment and they're writing me some passive-agressive letter in stupid pink ink and slipping under the door to make me feel like an asshole." I was wrong, but the actual content of the letter was much worse. To summarize, this is what I took away from the letter:



Don't cry for me yet. The exterminator is coming tomorrow morning. To date, I've only been visited by that one initial little guest, so I'm optimistic. Send me good thoughts please.

*I may or may not have completely made up these sentences, but you get the gist.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

When we get together

Oooh, I love me some beautiful days like today, guh.

Which brings me to my first topic of conversation: why is it fun for me and different groups of friends to imitate ebonics/African American Vernacular English. Why do white kids love to do this so much. I see it all the time with high schoolers. I do it all the time with my friends, some black friends, mostly white ones. Does this offend black people when they hear it? I definitely make it a point not to speak in this form of slang when black people are around. I can guess a few reasons that I and some other white kids like to do it:
  1. taking a little field trip outside of our own culture, also known as "slumming" without really having to leave a comfort zone. On the contrary, it fosters a comfort zone. This theory, I believe, could possibly be applied to white people liking hip hop.
  2. the need for some sort of nonstandard English usage to differentiate "serious time" and "fun time." Since the majority of white Americans don't have to do much code switching, the language we use in the workplace or classroom is the same we use with friends at a bar (give or take a couple billion expletives). If this is true, I am merely stealing another culture's version of codes.
  3. Speaking "another language" is fun and you don't have to work too hard for this one.
  4. Black/African American is the most prominent minority here and this dialect is heard a lot on the radio, tv, and in most pubic places. It might be completely different if I lived someplace where a different was widely represented. I imagine that if I lived in California or Texas, it might be Hispanic accents.
Regardless, I still feel like I am being racist or should not do this. But I can't seem to stop myself, especially when the people around me are doing it. I won't just up and say "I'm not a racist, but . . ." just because I hate those kinds of statements. Last night I heard a girl say "I'm not a feminist, but . . ." and I just wanted to say something to her.

Another thing that got me thinking about this was this site that my dad, of all people, sent to me.

I identify with so many of those, I stopped being amused and started wondering if I was really that predictable. But then aren't most cultures fairly predictable. Also, I think that site should be amended to say "what liberal white Americans like."

Now I leave you with a completely unrelated picture. And the promise that not all of my posts will be all fake intellectual.

Friday, February 22, 2008

The Fermi Level

The pressure is on. First posts are always hard, and this seems even more difficult because I am aware that other people know this blog exists. What if my grammar is bad? My writing uninteresting? My headache is intensifying.

I never plan things for Friday nights because I am always so worn out. But today was a good
day. We had lab clean up because the EPA will be inspecting our labs next month. The clean up instilled a sense of community between me, Citizen, and Cole: we had a goal and we achieved it with great finesse. Of course it also alienated Babu from the rest of us.

Babu annoys me a great deal. He is bossy where he doesn't need to be. He reminds me of an old woman who is powerless outside of her kitchen. Much like our boss, he has good intentions...
I guess someone has to pave the road to hell.
I think it is also hard to be bossed around by someone who doesn't show up to work most days.

So today we found explosives. All sorts. Yellow solids in beakers covered with para-film. (Para-film is the lab equivalent of saran wrap.) Volatile liquid explosives standing alone un-entered in our chemical inventory. And a whole drawer of "specialty" explosives that you probably can't even purchase anymore.

Now, Citizen, Cole, and I thought: Wow, Let's be careful and dispose of these properly. So I found a metal jug with a screw on cap and started putting the yellow solid from the beaker into it. I was about to make the appropriate waste label when Babu advises me not to dispose of the yellow explosive. I ask why, and the reason is

because our boss used to have projects with explosives in the eighties.

Citizen will stand there and argue with Babu on if we should keep the explosives or not. I tell Citizen to just agree with Babu that we will keep them, and then we will dispose of them quietly. So that is what we do. It really is ridiculous to keep a beaker of explosive product when it has been sitting untouched for 5+ years.

For general info:
Babu: 5th year male
Citizen: 4th year male
Cole: 2nd year female
Me: 2nd year female