Intrepid Girl Reporter

Monday, 8/30: more information than you require
August 30, 2010, 10:31 pm
Filed under: life progress

I knew I should have waited to post until the frazzled feeling had faded. Now I have a desk and a completed dresser under my belt, and I can admit a few things.

  1. I wanted this place to feel familiar, so I played Dave Matthews Band’s “Under the Table and Dreaming.” Go on and judge.
  2. At the risk of sounding like a huge asshole, I’m okay with not having air conditioning right now. Not because I like sweating or anything (although, given my current appearance, one could be forgiven for thinking that I do), but between the fans and cold showers, it’s reminding me that I need a lot less than I imagine. I’m going to change my mind about this tomorrow probably.
  3. Thanks to one of my housemates, I now know how to use a ratchet driver.
  4. My furniture will not fit.
  5. I’m dying to work out, surprisingly, so I can get rid of some of this nervous energy.
  6. All of my stuff is still in boxes in the basement.

Monday, 8/30: here I am: rock you like a hurricane
August 30, 2010, 7:16 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

For those of you who have been keeping track, specifically all of the people who have attempted to talk to me and have had their messages unintentionally routed to my phone, I am Here, at My New Graduate School. I can’t seem to shake the habit of anonymity. I think that, to a certain extent, I still enjoy it.

My room is not empty, but the majority of my possessions are three floors below me, in a cobweb-filled basement stacked with boxes and old furniture. I have a dresser that is waiting patiently in the corner for me to finish building its drawers, instead of sitting here blogging like a person who does not know how to manage her time. People are nice, the campus is beautiful, I still don’t know what my eventual job will be and the number of other students I’ve met is kind of paralyzing. I get better at these orientation type things every time, but, you know. However: I live with the two best dogs in Massachusetts and I’ve built a bed on my own, so I’m counting today in the plus category for right now.

Monday, 8/24: DC is for lovers, or: I would like to clarify a few things
August 24, 2010, 12:47 am
Filed under: actual transcripts, causes, okay seriously America

First of all: I thought about posting the link upon which I’m about to expound on my Tumblr, but i’ve decided to focus that account on serving as a scrapbook of sorts of things I like and wish to share. I’m in the process (ha ha) of constructing a website that will serve as my portfolio site and also feature the Tumblr, and I’m trying to figure out how to integrate blogging in there, as I’ve become quite attached to this blog, and I’m not sure how to integrate anonymity into a personal website. Not that this is really and truly anonymous, of course, but it still doesn’t technically have my name attached unless you really look, and identifying what is discussed on this website would take a good deal of legwork.

Second of all:

Tea Partiers’ Warning-Filled Guide to DC

I have no doubt that this is going to be burning up the DC blogosphere w/r/t its casual dismissal of the city’s incredible culture and diversity, and I also have no doubt that most of that criticism is going to be a bit homogeneous. I, however, have some very specific criticisms of this list and of its analysis, which I will now proceed to share with you.

  1. They left off a TON of good restaurants. This has a lot to do with the fact that they pretty much wholesale dismiss DC’s immigrant communities, which is where all the good cheap food is. As such, it’s not a good guide, regardless of one’s ideology. Tea Partiers, you like to save money. Go get a banh mi at Eden Center for $3. Bonus: it’s in Virginia, where I hear the handgun laws are more relaxed. (Yeah, I know this list has an Indian buffet and some sort of Middle Eastern bistro, but quite frankly, those are not the city’s strongest cuisines.) (Side note: CVS over the Georgetown Safeway? Are you on crack?*)
  2. “As a rule, African immigrants do not like for you to assume they are African Americans and especially do not like for you to guess they are from a neighboring country (e.g. Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia) with whom they may have political or military tensions. It’s rare to meet anyone who gets really offended, but you can still be aware of the issue.” Oh, Bruce Majors, you mean so well. Yes, geopolitical cognizance is important for a lot of reasons, one of which is not offending people. I cannot think of a conversation, however, in which such an immigrant could become aware of your thinking that they’re African American without some other, very serious, repercussions. “So, I see that you’re black”? “I really admire what your people have done with the city”? “Just so you know, I took Emancipation Day off too”? The only place this country-of-origin issue *might* come up is a) in a discussion about food or b) if the other person starts a sentence with the phrase “Where I come from…” Any other discussion where you find yourself stuck on this issue was probably on the wrong track to begin with.
  3. “Do not take the Green or Yellow line…” if: you hate pupusas; you don’t want to go to Target; you want to miss out on the city’s best chicken and waffles or some really remarkable cakes. (Those cakes were featured on the Today Show, son.)
  4. Look, I understand what he’s saying about crime. But a) his neighborhood statistics are surely outdated, and b), well, he’s exaggerating. If you do not know me in person, I stand an imposing five feet two inches tall, although my self-image is that of a seven-foot-tall point guard. I am half Asian, half white, and I look more like a Powerpuff Girl than any kind of reasonable adult. I have also worked in two of the neighborhoods this map expressly tells you to avoid – Columbia Heights, which is on the Green and Yellow line, and Trinidad/H Street, which doesn’t even really have a nearby metro. Between my job in youth development and my ex-boyfriend’s house, I’ve covered pretty much the entirety of Columbia Heights (which is almost all hipsters now anyway) and Mount Pleasant on foot. In the year and a half I lived in the city, I never – never, never, never, never, NEVER – had any sort of issue with crime. Because I was not an idiot. I stayed in well-lit areas, I traveled with others, I carried pepper spray, I stayed on the phone if I was alone so that someone would know where I was at all times. Many of the people who lived in those neighborhoods had been there for generations, especially in Trinidad, and I remembered when I was there that I was on someone else’s home turf. I was respectful, if not engaging, if anyone hollered at me on the street. I didn’t look scared, and I didn’t look disgusted, and no one gave me any shit. I’m not saying that if you do get mugged, it’s your fault, because that would be stupid; DC is a city, crime happens, and you shouldn’t be alone in the dark somewhere where you don’t know the terrain anyway. But what I’m also saying is that you’re going to miss a lot of the city if you stay in the proscribed areas described in this so-called “guide,” and you shouldn’t feel scared going to other parts of the District if you’re with others, you know where you are and where you’re going, and you’re not wearing your grandmother’s $15,000 diamond choker. Don’t be stupid, people.
  5. As has been discussed on this blog so many times before, I have difficulty with traditional political labels. I do know, however, a lot of very intelligent people who proudly identify as conservative or libertarian and who would have a real problem with this characterization of the city. Unfortunately, because the MSM (yes, I went there) and especially the blogosphere tend to skew very liberal, this is publicized as just another example of the Tea Party being a haven for idiots and bigots and not an ideological sparring partner. What I’m trying to say is: I’M IN YR PARTY, MAKIN U LOOK BAD.

And counterpoint, problems I have with the coverage of this issue, or I am not done with everyone yet:

  1. See #5. Dear Media, Please try to remember that not all conservatives are this loathsome. Some of them do just want a less intrusive government. Whether that is efficient is another matter, of course, but it’s separate from these morons. I know you won’t listen, but I can hope, right? Sincerely, More Or Less A Centrist.
  2. The map that’s being circulated showing the demarcated area isn’t accurate. If it was, the blue area would be a lot larger, as the current map doesn’t include Woodley Park, Van Ness, Tenleytown, Chevy Chase, or my old ‘hood, Cleveland Park, which, God bless it, might be the whitest neighborhood of all. Of course, the sentiment is correct: the guide largely (okay, entirely) focuses on the Caucasian-dominated areas of a mostly black city. But it’s hyperbole, and it makes an otherwise mostly legitimate critique look bad.

I cannot get that everloving map to zoom in any more, so zoom yourself or click on the link for a clearer delineation of where this guy actually says you can go.

Good Lord, as my grandmother used to say. I didn’t think I’d get so worked up about this issue, but here it is an hour later and I now know how to make shapes on Google Maps. I suppose I’ve gotten pretty attached to this city, even if I don’t want to live there right now. (For reasons that have nothing to do with the District, and everything to do with me.) Best Beloveds, in a world full of people, only some want to fly. Isn’t that crazy?**

*One of my father’s favorite expressions.

**Five points for the reference.

Thursday, 8/19: big in Japan
August 20, 2010, 12:27 am
Filed under: life progress

It’s hard to describe how satisfying I find it to make things – specifically, things about which I am pleased and satisfied that do not also happen to look like carbon copies of other people’s work. As anyone who has ever met me can attest, I have issues with not succeeding, and that applies to knitting about as much as it does to flunking a test.

Over the years, I’ve gotten a lot better at accepting that it’s okay to:

  1. practice my ________ project  before actually doing it (sewing, writing, painting, etc.)
  2. practice the specific skills that will allow me to do something complicated, rather than just JUMPING RIGHT IN because WHO NEEDS BEGINNER STUFF (yes, I thought like this as a first grader. Doesn’t it explain a lot?)
  3. not succeed the first time
  4. make something that looks handmade
  5. improvise
  6. not listen to other people’s aesthetic suggestions

Even so, it can be really frustrating to realize that you’ve spent three hours bent over a collage or your sewing machine or whatever, only to realize that despite the sweat and paper cuts, what you’ve made is the equivalent of a macaroni ornament. I’m not going to pretend like I haven’t kicked a lot of chairs in my time. Even though the chair always, always wins.

I went through those same angry-first-grader feelings yesterday, as I tried to make a mockup of my still-embryonic website and realized that although I know how to doctor photos and make neat pictures like nobody’s business, I lack the basic Photoshop knowledge to make a grid 960 pixels wide. This is my issue with more or less everything: I decide to teach myself the most difficult things immediately, and thus end up with really large gaps in my understanding. (See: why I am reading Teach Yourself Economics.)

But today I decorated a pillowcase I made, and it not only shows off one of my favorite Louisville institutions, but it looks like someone armed with a thread marker doodled all over it, which was exactly what I was going for and exactly what I achieved. And that is pretty much all I wanted to tell you, that sometimes things go right and it feels good.

(Also, that one of the photographs from my old blog is being used for a press release for a design exhibition in Belgium, which means that surely I am very close to stardom of some sort. The next time you wonder if your life is complete, stop and ask yourself: “Am I famous in Belgium yet?” If the answer is “no,” keep on trucking.)

Sunday, 8/15: o hai
August 16, 2010, 12:45 am
Filed under: life progress

I’ve been passing the time lately by writing lists. It’s an oddly satisfying habit, and one that the casual observer, seeing me in all my disarray, might not be conditioned to expect; but I like lists for the same reason that everyone else likes lists, which is to say that they impose a certain order on the world. And they’re fun to make, in a certain narcissistic way. Either you’re required to be self-involved, or you get to focus on how much you know (or don’t).

For those five of you who have noticed that I’ve been posting increasingly on my Tumblr and less onto here, and for the three of those five who might be disappointed about that state of affairs, rest assured: there is a plan, one that has to do (somewhat) with my (largely nonexistent, but still planned, really) website. But I suppose there’s a bit more to it than that: spending all of this time alone, or more or less alone, drives one away from introspection. I spend enough time without anything to distract me from my own thoughts. I don’t know that I need to go further. Or that it would be productive. It probably would be productive, in that I would be *forced* to write and therefore forced to improve my writing skillz, but I’ve spent enough years in my own head to develop a certain skittishness about going too deep. These are all issues that I should probably work out. Nonetheless, I’ve done okay so far. (Emphasis on okay.)

I’ve been trying to post more to Lancelot Sturgeon, too, but as much as I hate to admit it, those entries don’t come as naturally to me. I love it, I love writing about food and thinking about food and I want and I plan to get better, but I don’t feel as comfortable there as I do here. My voice here is well settled. People know me. And if they don’t know me, they don’t know my name, which, again, probably for the best. I want to be able to write about what I eat with the same frankness and enthusiasm with which I discuss basketball players’ nicknames or my children, but I’m still stretching into that form. I’m trying to abandon my self-consciousness. Hopefully you’ll see it by the side of the road soon.

The summer hasn’t been filled with much, a lot of crafting and some cooking, apple fritters from Pal’s, freelancing for too little money. If nothing else, this summer has allowed me to brush up on my knowledge of paracord tutorials, welding schools in Colorado, and how to locate the parts number of an iBook. I had this idea that I would make enough money freelancing to head to Geneva and visit Rooms, along with someone else that I met here in the States and liked very much, but it didn’t happen. So I went to move my little brother into His School, a well-known and lovely Southern institution that is, quite frankly, located in a swamp, instead. I have a lot of things I’ve assigned myself to work on, and I’m glad I have all this time, but despite myself, I’m starting to get a little itchy for movement.

Thursday, 8/5: Cornell, ever heard of it?
August 5, 2010, 10:50 pm
Filed under: don't judge me, education, life progress, Uncategorized

It is much to my shame that I confess I, a former student of international development, am currently reading a book entitled Teach Yourself Economics. The main issue is that I took Econ 110 (or 101, if you went somewhere other than My School) and then talked my professors into letting me skip macro and micro in favor of more interesting classes, such as Economic Development. The other issue is that I am good at doing well in classes without studying efficiently (or very much at all, for that matter), which is convenient at the time and completely inconvenient three years later, when you find yourself googling “Oedipus effect” and waiting to see what washes up.

Anyway, this is part of my preparation for next month, when I will be studying for realsies, and I’m kind of enjoying it. Actually, I’m totally enjoying it. I can’t wait to get back into class. I am also trying out the Cornell System, which is working so far, as it requires me to constantly ask myself questions to review. This is what I did with three-year-olds and disobedient Korean teens alike, and it always seemed to work, which is why it’s a bit remarkable that it’s taken me this long. I’m also debating whether or not to use my laptop for notes; my typing is infinitely faster and clearer than my handwriting, but I have discovered over the past year or so (again, why so long?) that I prefer to draw diagrams and make lists and create elaborate arrow things when I study, and while my skill with my Wacom is growing, I still can’t make a legible sentence with it. I can’t believe that writing in a notebook is actually sort of archaic. My kids will probably press a button and have a sort of adding-machine receipt just click out of their ears, or something.