Sunday, September 28, 2008

Google, Cisco and Procter & Gamble have installed pods so employees can take naps at work. If only...

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Once in a while a book reminds you of the amazing power a single book can have to change hearts and minds. Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi's graphic novel about her childhood in Iran, is such a book. Satrapi's challenge is to make us care, to make us see beyond the black veils and the Ayatollah and the ranting Ahmadinejad, and she does so brilliantly. The graphic novel medium is perfect to convey the drama and brutality of the overthrowing of the Shah, the Islamic Revolution, and the Iran/Iraq War as well as to bring the young Marjane and her family to life. It's a lovely, haunting, and brave book that you must read.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Presidential Jeopardy on the Tonight Show

Funny and pretty scathing:

Thursday, September 25, 2008

- I'm debating the merits of breakfast. I always thought that "most important meal of the day" stuff was a bunch of B.S., but this week I tried eating a "real" breakfast of eggs and toast before work and 1) I felt really energized, more so than with my usual bowl of cereal breakfast, and 2) I was less hungry throughout the day (helpful as I am trying to lose a few pounds). On the downside, it is a little heavy to take first thing in the morning.
- All day at work we've been calling the events on Wall Street/the White House a "financial meltdown." Meltdown? Isn't that a little strong? For me that conjures up images of some kind of nuclear incident. What else should we call it, though? Large-scale financial upheaval? Financial tsunami? "Crisis" doesn't seem quite dire enough.
- The end of September is turning out to be hotter than the end of August.
- I want to write more but I don't have the time.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The blogger returns

So then, a step back into writing after not feeling like it for quite a while. This blog is at least partially a chronicle of my life, and in every life it’s normal to go through ups and downs. Still, I hesitate to bring my blog into the “down” with me, because then I might have to rename the blog as “Annette’s Daily Depression Report” or “Annette’s Daily Rant against the World.” But anyway, in the interests of finding a voice again, here we go.

My last year of grad school was seriously the best year ever. If I had it to live over again, I would. The main reason was that I became acquainted with a bunch of funny, smart, awesome people -- the kind of people who knew a lot about literature and listen to NPR and had been to law school and knew Latin, etc. The kind of people you could talk with for hours at a coffeehouse and not get bored. I think the real magic of friends is that they make you feel like you’re worth knowing. Being around them I felt funny, smart, and awesome myself.

It was an amazing year, but it was followed by a hard summer. A summer where I realized just how much I had come to depend on those friendships to feel OK about myself.

The thing about friendships that I didn’t consider is that they sometimes (actually, most of the time) don’t last forever. Even with the best intentions, with people I saw every day and had come to know like the back of my hand, the connections are always as delicate and tenuous as paper chains.

This summer my friends scattered and were nowhere to be found, and a serious of horribly long, lonely days began when there wasn’t much to do but ask myself, what the hell am I going to do with the rest of my life? It was as if the demons came into that empty spot in my life and I started doubting myself.

And of course my lonely trek only became harder when I got a new job and realized I wasn’t going to be returning to the academic life I knew. Going through a job change with all the people I used to count on basically out of the picture was really overwhelming. I was in shock at all the changes I was going through. Some might even say depressed.

During this period I found that I, a person who had been very much a loner for most of her life, couldn’t deal with being alone anymore. I now thought of aloneness as a failure. If I was worth knowing, why was I alone? So my thinking went.

The eventual discovery during this time was of how shallow my life had become.

Me, shallow? Me, the supposed “intellectual”, who is supposed to be above all that vanity stuff?

But there I was last year, taking pleasure in the latest office gossip and addicted to text-messaging. I had glommed on to Facebook, that mecca of social self-absorption. I had started to pay more attention than I ever had before to my hair and clothes. I desperately wanted to be pretty enough, witty enough, smart enough to impress people.

It wasn’t like I was being dangerously self-destructive, but in this whirlwind of socialization more meaningful things had been forced out. True introspection (something I used to be a queen of) had gone by the wayside. So had prayer and my religious life.

It has taken these long months to go back and really relish being alone. Friends are important, but they’re not everything. I don’t regret the things that happened in the last year, but I do wish they had been balanced out with more reflection and more grounded-ness. Take away all the so-called friendships, all the appearances, all the talk, and who am I, really? It’s the one question that matters, but it's a question I haven’t asked myself enough in the past year or so.

Introspection is back (clearly). So is religion. Is it the soul I’m in search of? Possibly. Eventually. But for now I will settle for a sincerity in my life that has long been missing. I’m back to my wholesome loner roots and I’m not changing for anyone.

Sunday, September 14, 2008


In case you missed it, Tina Fey as Sarah Palin (and Amy Poehler as Hillary Clinton) on SNL:

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Amazing photos of Latin America on the website for Laberinto de Miradas, a traveling museum exhibit (via Intersections)

Friday, September 12, 2008

Pleasant surprise -- the very last of my NYC pictures

I was pleasantly surprised to find more NYC pictures on a disposable camera that had been lying around my bedroom for months. It's still hard to believe I was there.

Cool iPod ad

Lake in Central Park (and a bit of my finger in the corner there)

People walking in Central Park on a Sunday afternoon


Trinity Church through two buildings. Don't know the guy in the red jacket

Friday, September 05, 2008


The computers at my local public library branch, which appear to be brand new, have floppy disk drives but no CD-ROM drives. Maybe CD-ROMs are a little passe, but I haven't seen a floppy disk used in years.

Review: The Gum Thief

The Gum Thief seems like a novel Douglas Coupland made up on a whim after observing a couple of employees on a trip to Staples. Hmm, a novel about forty-something loser-ish guy and his twenty-something goth co-worker, that might be interesting. But get this -- instead of actually talking to each other, they communicate through letters filled with hilariously cynical observations about life. It's brilliant!

Funny that it actually kind of works. It's a crazy smoothie of a novel with a bit of everything in it. Mishmashed among the letters are a novel-within-a-novel, letters from Roger (the loser-ish guy)'s ex-wife and Bethany (the twenty-something)'s mom, and even some of Bethany's creative writing exercises: "Imagine you are a piece of toast being buttered..." It's a relief to find that Coupland's writing is still fresh and hilarious after 11 novels, and I ended up really liking these characters that seem so familiar I could swear I've met them somewhere before.

Still, this is no Microserfs, Coupland's '90s masterpiece. The novel occasionally veers from cynicism into genuine bitterness, unlike 'Serfs. Especially depressing is Roger's novel-within-a-novel Glove Pond, which is such a downer that I'd recommend skipping those passages altogether. When you take away the sarcasm, The Gum Thief ends up being a poignant and somewhat bitter reflection on aging, the Gen X generation now all grown up and passing on wisdom to Gen Y.

I wouldn't start with this novel if you've never read Coupland, but for fans of his earlier work, there are enough surprises to make it worthwhile.