Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The things I do for a social life

Tomorrow I embark on a great journey to Ohio, which I will take with my "check engine" light on and a right rear turn signal lamp that periodically thinks it's dead! But at least I'll have a brand new oil dipstick!

Here's the plan:
Today I will run myself ragged doing garbage duty at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, which you should visit if you happen to be near Washington, DC before the fifth. There will be lots of good music and good food and good multicultural education and if you come today, you will see me rescuing recyclables from a sad fate in the landfill!

Immediately following the Folklife Festival, I will go to Columbia, which is 20 minutes north of College Park, which is an hour's ride north of Downtown DC, where I will be until 6:00. I will attempt to get there before my first choir rehearsal at 7:00, which will be impossible. But maybe there will be a thunderstorm and the Festival will end early. Maybe I will get struck by lightning, which would save me from having to do all this rushing around.

Immediately following the choir rehearsal, which I think ends at 10, I will go back to College Park and attempt to sleep, all the while worrying about what I have forgotten to pack for my impending visit to Ohio.

Thursday morning I will again get up bright and early and get on the road as soon as possible. After I have showered and packed food for the trip. And packed toiletries for the trip.

I will drive all morning and after about 4 hours will find myself in Ohio. Depending on what time I get to the Wooster area, I might meet Tiffany and see her new apartment. But only briefly.

Because right after that, I will make a stop in Ashland to return some of Todd's possessions to him. I just loaded them into the car yesterday afternoon. Boy, when they were all piled up in the attic, I thought there were a lot more. Oh. Yeah. There were. And I still need to get them out of the attic and into the car. In Ashland, I will stop at Hawkin's and Sweetie's to get my relatively-cheap Ohio junk food fix.

Then I will begin the familiar 2-hour jaunt to Toledo, where things get really murky. At this point, with all the stops I'm going to be making and the uncertain start time, I have no idea when I'll arrive. But after I do, I will quickly stop in to visit with my dad, also stop in to visit with Jon, and then crash at my mom's house. After, of course, greeting the dog, embarrassing the cats, and giving names to her baby chickens. I will then sleep.

Friday morning, I will take my time. I have high hopes of purging "my" room of more of my stuff. Those reference books I never use? I've got the internet! The graduation hat? I've got pictures. The icky cat-pee furniture? Maybe Mom already got rid of that. Val's Galorious Galorious Game? Ummm... I guess I'll shut up now.

After I'm done cleaning, I will make my way to Madison, where I'll meet Tiffany again! Tiffany is having a fourth of July party, but Friday I expect we'll just do catching up and hanging out.

On Saturday (that's the Fourth of July), Tiffany expects more of her friends to arrive. I will try to pretend they are my friends too. We'll see how that works. I think there must be fireworks. And partying. And whatever.

On Sunday, I will again get up bright and early. Probably dark and early, actually. I have to be at work, in Maryland, at 3:30 in the afternoon. Google tells me that it will take 6 hours 45 minutes to take the super-expensive toll roads back to my old College Park home. I will assume 8 hours, for traffic, bathroom breaks, and the like. Which means that if I want to arrive at my workplace by 3, I will need to leave Madison at 7.

Then I will work. From 3:30 to 9. I will pretend to be sprightly and customer servicey. Then I will leave work, go home, collapse, and thankfully have until 4:30 the next afternoon to do whatever I see fit!

A Memo from The Ministry of Grammar

"Now I knew whom to look for."

Consider this sentence. Now unleash upon it the best Two Minutes Hate you can muster. Sentences like this one are a scourge on society. They should be expunged.

What could possess a writer to defiantly toss aside one grammatical rule only to bow down in pitiful subservience to another? Everyone knows you must not end a sentence with a preposition. Yet this author has done it without shame. And I don't blame him. I've heard the terminal preposition rule is going by the wayside; I've read style guides by copy editors (Line by Line by Claire Kehrwald Cook) claiming that virtually no one cares too much any more about the position of the preposition. It wouldn't make much sense to do so, considering the abundance of verbs that make no sense without the preposition on their tail end: hang out, give in, give up, pick up, throw up, put up with (Winston Churchill once made a point about the silliness of this rule when he allegedly wrote, "This is the sort of English up with which I will not put").

And in a reasonably hard-boiled detective story, it would be counterproductive to have the main character mince daintily around his sentences just when he needs to sound tough and confident.

So why, then, does the author not also do away with the awkward "whom?" This letter M followed by a T is a stumbling block. It sounds weak. It slows you down. Aside from its detrimental effect on the flow of the sentence, it's just plain unbelievable. No one, not even a doctor of psychology, talks like that! Listen: "Now I knew who I was looking for." That's what I call tough and confident. That's what I call real.

The moral of this memo is, if you are going to break grammatical rules, do it all the way! Don't spoil the effect by submitting to other, equally irrelevant rules! Be strong! Be a grammatical renegade! Power to the --

Oops. I just realized I spent another post talking about something that's hardly of universal interest. I think I'm 0 for 5. Sorry, I'll try to do better next time. But in case you were curious, today's featured sentence came from Therapy, by Jonathan Kellerman.

Friday, June 26, 2009

A Valerie Retrospective
Part 4: The People

I promise, the last installment of the Valerie Retrospective!

So, have you noticed the common theme running through this epic analysis of boredom, sadness, and angst? It's people. It's my relationships and mostly the lack thereof.

I make my job decisions based on how they'll affect my social life. I choose my household by considering how it'll help me make friends. I define my home by where I feel most loved. You know, for someone who is extremely introverted and pretty darn reclusive, I place a lot of value on people and how I relate to them. These traits are not compatible. They cause me a great deal of agony. They inspire me to sing lyrics like, "It's no surprise to me, I am my own worst enemy!"

Sometimes, they inspire me to download copy after copy of "Eleanor Rigby." I have the original version by the Beatles for when I'm feeling alone and straightforward. I have an instrumental version for when I'm feeling alone and metaphorical. I have a metal version by Pain for when I'm feeling alone and angry. I've heard there's a version by a band called Zoot, which I must acquire for when I'm feeling alone and wanting to enjoy silly band names that are also my car's name.

That song is depressing as all get-out, but somehow it comforts me. Eleanor Rigby and Father McKenzie are undoubtedly made-up characters, but their life stories are inspired by the stories of countless other people, who are alone just like me! When I hear that song, I think about those people, and I feel close to them and slightly less miserable.

But only slightly. I think it would be much better if I were actually close to people and not just psychically manufacturing a connection based on mutual unhappiness.

So, how do I accomplish this? Obviously, it's not by endearing myself to my co-workers. Clearly, it's not by relying on the good nature of my housemates. Certainly, it's not by rashly moving to a warmer climate where I know no one. I guess I'm going to have to rely on another strategy altogether.

My problem has always (at least since the time when making friends became so all-fire important to me) been that I have difficulty making the jump between being casual acquaintances who only see each other when fate brings them together and friends who make an effort to hang out together. It always seems so fake to me. So if making friends requires fakery anyway, why not skip the whole casual acquaintances part and jump right to the hanging out? I refuse to give out any more details about my thoughts on this topic, because my plan is not fully formulated, and actually there are serious flaws in it, but if it pans out, you'll surely hear about it. Oh, and if you want to help, make plans to socialize with me during the month of July! You can do it!

That's all for now. Thanks for listening to me as I commandeer a public venue to work out my personal problems. I'll try to make whatever I post next something of more universal interest.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

A Valerie Retrospective
Part 3: The Location

I don't think I need to discuss this issue too deeply, because I basically just did, in my soul-searching masterpiece, "Where do you go?"

Every so often, I get restless. I read this good quote from Moby-Dick. The narrator was saying that whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in his soul, he knows it's time for him to get to sea. My soul feels pretty autumnal itself, but I don't have any particular desire to get to sea; I just want to get away! I want to go where I'll be happy! However, I have concluded that I don't want to live any of the places I thought I did. I don't want to live in Ohio because it is a whirlpool of stagnation (and only in Ohio would such a depressing impossibility occur), and it's cold. I don't want to live in Maryland, because after three years of living here, suffering too much sadness, and losing friends more often than I make them, I just don't see anything to recommend this place. And it's still not very warm. Southern California, my ace in the hole, turned out to be all wrong. And it was cold there, too--the unseasonable freak of weather during my visit must have been a sign that I'm not destined to live there.

So I feel pretty much adrift. I'm a rootless wanderer. I'm a woman without a home. It makes me very antsy. When am I going to live somewhere where I feel like I belong?

Conclusion: Home is where the heart is. When all I knew was my family home in Toledo, Ohio, that was all I wanted. When I discovered acceptance and friendship in Ashland, I felt like Ashland was my home. When I found true love in Maryland, I felt like Maryland was the place to be. When Maryland became the place where I was ignored and abandoned, it lost its appeal for me. I'm sure that I can be content anywhere that I am surrounded by quality friends and love. I think I'd even choose to live in someplace relatively cold (relatively--like maybe down to hardiness zone 6) if that meant that I'd be living with someone/two/three/four/etc. who made me happy. Obviously I can't leave Maryland until I'm done at the University of Baltimore. After that, I think it's more beneficial for me to focus on developing happy relationships and stop worrying so much about my geographic location (after all, I am already living in hardiness zone 6)!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

A Valerie Retrospective
Part 2: The Living Situation

For years, I have been living in a shared house. Though some people have trouble conceiving of it, it's pretty much the only thing I know. Before I lived in a shared house, I lived in a dorm or with my parents. I have never been on my own. At first I liked it. And then when I slowly stopped liking it, I kept telling myself that living in a shared house is a good way to keep in regular contact with other human beings. But it's not.

More on this in a second. Right now I want to rant about something related. You know what I really can't stand any more about the shared living? It's the smell! One of my housemates has a problem. I don't know what it is - if it's just an aversion to bathing, or some kind of disease or what - but he trails a stench wherever he goes. I have to avoid where he's been for 10 minutes or so until the odor dissipates. It's worst in the bathroom, where not only does his smell accumulate in the small, warm space, but he also splatters water everywhere with reckless abandon. I'd feel bad for him, except he's so antisocial, it makes me angry. He never speaks to you or looks at you unless he wants something. He just fills the entire house with his possessions (OK, now he keeps them confined to his two rooms and the basement and a shed outside, but still! You should have seen his crap everywhere when he moved in!) and works on propagating his odor.

The rest of the housemates are only marginally better.

People talk about how sad it is that most people don't know their own neighbors. But is it not infinitely sadder that I don't even know the people who live in the next room? I am used to feeling isolated because I'm so inhibited and socially incompetent, but in this case I don't think it's my fault! Of the other three housemates, two of them don't spend much time at home, and when they get here, they immediately rush to their rooms and close the doors behind them. The fellow-renter-and-also-landlady is the only person here who makes any effort at being friendly, but once she starts talking, it's impossible to escape from her. I find myself avoiding her completely just so I don't have to get trapped in an hour-long one-sided conversation.

I keep thinking there might be some hope for interaction if we had an appealing common space. But our living room has no television (the one thing that might draw people together), and the couches smell like old dog. Even after two steam cleanings.

Living here is such a downer. Sometimes I wonder if I should search for a new place--someplace where the people are not so absorbed in their personal lives that they ignore the people right around them. Or maybe, if only to get away from the reeking otter that I live with, consider an apartment of my own. But how will I afford to live alone? And why move somewhere that's almost certain to be farther away from where I work?

Conclusion: Yes, my housemates suck, but at least none of them are homicidal maniacs. I guess living in a place with cheap rent and people who don't bother you is not that bad. I just have to stop thinking that my housemates are going to be my ticket to friendship, and start thinking of them as what they are: self-absorbed robots who aren't worth worrying about.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A Valerie Retrospective
Part 1: Jobs

I seem to be having this tremendous difficulty with my lifestyle lately. If you haven't heard me whining recently, you're lucky, but I'll quickly fill you in: I've been finding my life unrewarding and valueless and terribly lonely. So since today marks no particular anniversary of what I consider the beginning of this phase in my life - the day I moved to Maryland - I am going to take a 3.5-year retrospective and consider some questions like, "Is it time to get a real job?"

Since I've been living here, I've worked continuously at MOM. When I first arrived, the job was essential, as I was earning less than a living wage at my internship. Later, when my pay rate at CRI was raised, I kept the grocery job for a number of reasons. I liked the security of having two jobs and the certainty that if I lost one, I'd still have an income. I liked being required to work on my feet, since I pretty much spent the rest of the time at a desk. I also kept the job as a substitute for a social life--I worked in isolation at CRI, but I knew that at MOM, I would have the opportunity to interact with people face-to-face--maybe even meet some friends! The last major plus to working at the grocery store was that employees were permitted to take expired and damaged foods home for free--thus significantly reducing my grocery bill.

Well, let's take a look back, around, and forward. At age 25, I'm still making something slightly above minimum wage. With both my steady jobs, I work around 32 hours a week. Last tax season, I was astonished to find my federal adjusted gross income under 20,000 dollars. So while my store job is providing me with an income, it's not providing me with a very significant one. However, this is still probably the number-one reason for me to keep this job, because if I were to quit right now, I would probably not be making enough money to survive.

But the other reasons? One reason I worked at MOM for so long was that it was an enforced way for me to get exercise. But really, how much exercise? Eight hours standing up at a cash register? Occasionally carrying a bag out into the parking lot? Every once in a while lugging a case of soymilk out of the truck? Now that I've got the exercise bike, I don't really need to worry so much about how to stay fit in winter--and I'm sure using that is much healthier than getting waitress' ankle from standing at the register.

Keeping my job for social reasons is obviously not worth it. In the 3.5 years I've worked there, I have yet to make a friend. Most of the employees at MOM are undergraduates or high school students, and their ideas of fun, from what I gather, mostly consist of racing, smoking, and partying. Certainly I get along with them at work, but I don't think they're long-time friend material. I think it's time to give up this particular ghost. There are better ways to meet people than waiting around for some co-worker to invite you to do something.

Free food? Not any more! We're still allowed to take defective fruits and vegetables, but gone are the days when I could walk home with boxes of cereal, cartons of milk or eggs, bags of chips, loaves of bread, and all the fixings for a regular meal. Now the food bank gets our waste, and while that's wonderful for the people without a job, it doesn't give me much incentive to keep my own.

So is it time to get a real job? Is a 5-day a week commitment what I want? How about paid vacations? Personal time? A decent hourly wage? Actually, it's still probably not what I want. I do like the freedom of having most of any given day open to do what I want. I like being able to rearrange my schedule to accomodate multi-day excursions.

Even though I dislike my jobs on a frequent basis, they are convenient. I'll keep them. I just need to stop thinking my jobs should be the solution to all my problems and start seeing them for what they are: a way to earn money. But I will keep my eyes open for employment opportunities, should they roll around.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

One major life problem solved...

Yesterday I was at Micro Center, and I found a package of 2 rechargeable double-A's.

I bought them.

I have not yet installed either one of them in the chicken clock, but I will do so shortly, and then I will have a functioning timepiece once again.

The only problem now, is my charger only charges batteries in multiples of two. So every few months, my clock will be out of commission for a few hours while I charge both batteries at once. What a stupid charger!

Friday, June 19, 2009

My clock conundrum

Lately, I've been spending a lot of time pondering the important things in life. Like whether I should get a new alarm clock.

To the right you see my wonderful chicken clock. It's my favorite. I've used it faithfully ever since I've been living in Maryland. From the moment I turn my computer off at night to the moment I turn my computer back on in the morning, this clock is my only source of information about the time of day. You can see by the scratches on its face that, like the Velveteen Rabbit, it has been well loved.

You can also see that it says the time is 3:24--even though this photo was taken at approximately 9:50. The problem with this cherished clock is, when its battery starts to run low, its timekeeping becomes inaccurate. This clock has made me late to work on several occasions.

Now, the simple solution would be, when I see the time on my chicken clock is wrong, not to continually reset it to show the correct time only to have to reset it again half a day later as I do, but to replace the battery. The problem is that this chicken clock currently holds the last of my AA batteries.

Now you'd think that the simple solution would be to buy more batteries. But I have been to the store and can find no solution to meet my needs. I don't want to buy any more single-use batteries. But rechargeables don't come in a package smaller than four. Nothing else that I own uses AA's (except for my camera, which has its own set of long-life rechargeables), so I'm wondering if it's really sensible to invest in a set of four, when I will only be using one of them at a time. And let's not get into the inconveniences of rotating batteries and storing them and keeping track of which ones are charged and which ones aren't.

Plus, I've also been thinking it might be nice to listen to the radio from time to time. Now you'd think, that since I actually have a clock radio that's been in storage for several years, that just might be the solution to all my clock/radio problems! But when I think about actually using the clock radio, it feels all wrong. I've gotten used to, and enjoy, sleeping through the night without knowing what time it is. Since I never have to get up before sunrise, I have a near-failproof method of knowing when wake-up time is approaching. I don't need a clock constantly projecting the hour into my eyes. Plus, in my room, pretty much the only electronic device is my computer. I'd kind of like to keep it that way. It's supposedly better for you to exist in an environment free of electromagnetic fields. Plus, in the event of a power failure, an electric alarm clock is totally useless.

So, what to do, what to do? Well, right now, I'm using my cell phone.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

I've got them all fooled.

On the memes (I haven't seen too many of those recently. Wonder why), one of the questions is usually, "If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?" And my answer is usually, "I wish I were better at making friends."

Well, yeah, you all knew that.

But my second answer would be, "Sometimes I wish I weren't so good at lying about it."

A coworker today commented, "You don't have any defenses! You're probably the most open person in the world! I know you're the happiest!" What I wanted to say was, "No defenses? I have more defenses than a cactus! You just don't notice them because, well, they're expertly designed so you don't notice them!" I also wanted to say, "Happiest? Do you know that right now, my eyes feel almost swollen shut because I was crying all day? That cartoon-chipmunk squint I've got going on isn't there because I think it's cute." But I didn't. Because obviously I am not open at all. Instead, my response was a very fake laugh.

She didn't catch on to the fakeness. Does anyone? Does anyone besides me and my unfortunate readers know that sometimes the unflagging cheerfulness is my last-ditch effort not to drag others into the pit of despair with me, because I'm miserable because I'm lonely and I know that if I show signs of misery it'll just turn people off and then I'll be more lonely and more miserable than ever?

Why do I have to be such a loser? Why do I have to make it even harder by being dishonest all the time? And then, when I cease to be dishonest, why do I have to unload my burdens on people who come here for a nice pleasant read? I'm so sorry.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Pick up the mail that's addressed to you!

That's right, Buster! Pick up your mail! If you live in a house with other people, you have a responsibility to pick up your mail! I don't care if it's some catalog that you never requested. I don't care if it's another credit card offer you don't want; I don't care if it's an anthrax-laden solicitation from a charity you once offended by using their business reply envelope to send them hate mail! If it has your name on it, you pick it up and deal with it!

I live in a shared household where people move in and out fairly often. Although I have 4 other capable housemates, I personally take care of all the postcards addressed to "resident" and all the junk mail addressed to former residents. I pick up the College Park free newspaper that arrives once a week, and I even read it (OK, skim the headlines) because I feel like it's my civic duty. I reluctantly process all of the annoying sheafs of advertisements that fall all over the place when you pick them up. (I also usually end up taking out the garbage and the recyclables, but that's not really related to the mail.) I do all this without complaining because it also entitles me to pick up all the coupons and discounts and occasional free gifts that are sent to the household at large.

But I do not think it is my civic duty to pick up someone's mail when that someone is present and has the full use of their hands.

Look at that catalog on the table. Don't pretend you don't see it! You probably ordered something from this company, once, 14 years ago, and they have tracked you down through all your household moves and attempts to change your identity. It has your name on it. Don't make Valerie deal with it!

Oh. Maybe I'll try stapling the neglected mailpieces to the neglectful housemate's bedroom door. That would be vindictive and fun. :)

Saturday, June 13, 2009

If I want to know how subscriptions to my blog are working...

I guess I should write in my blog!

Unfortunately, I don't have a nicely thought-out column like I sometimes do, so we'll just have to settle for random thoughts I've had throughout the day.

1) I really enjoy my co-workers. Working in a grocery store is intensely boring most of the time, and dealing with the customers can be frequently maddening, but if I can't manage to eke out a social life, at least I can work with people I like.

2) My nonprofit organization publishes statistics on beverage sales, wasting, and recycling. We email them for free to anyone who requests them. Sometimes I get emails that sound something like, "please send me information on the state of nebraska" or worse, "please send me this data". That's all. No capitalization, no punctuation, and no real information on what the sender wants. How do they know that the only data we give out is beverage market data? I usually reply to messages like this with a polite, "to what data are you referring?" (sometimes with no capitalization or punctuation out of spite, a nuance which I'm sure is lost on the recipient), but it does get so tiresome. I'd really like to reply to this Nebraska person with a link to nebraska.gov. But I think that would be dangerous, and I'll probably just have to stoop to their level and admit that I'm a mind reader and know exactly what information they want, and send it to them. It also bothers me that we have to use the word "data" quite so much, because as we all know, data is a plural noun, but no one uses it that way...so in using it, I either have to resort to poor grammar or sound strange.

3) A few days ago, I decorated the boards at the store with hearts. Lots of hearts. A co-worker asked me, "Are you feeling romantic today?" and I replied, "Actually, today I think romance is deader than a doornail..." Then later I came up with a clever saying, which, for lack of any better outlet, I will share here:
Romance is dead. Let's cook it and eat it for candlelit dinner.

That does not sound entirely vegetarian.
I guess the theme for today's not-so-nicely-thought-out column was "work."

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

And to think some people actually pay their usability testers!

I know some of you missed getting email notification whenever I posted a blog entry. Since losing even one reader means I would lose most of my readers, I can absolutely not let that happen! Try this out! Subscribe to Val's Galorious Galaxy by Email

I had to sign up for Feedburner to do this, and it's kind of an experiment, so be sure to let me know (via blog comment, email, or phone if you are so privileged to know my number) if you have any problems or would like any additional features. I'll see what I can do.

I am really pretty happy at how much I can do with my Blogspot blog to make it better and cooler. One thing I miss is all the cute graphical emoticons that were built in to Bravejournal. But I bet there's a better and cooler way I can integrate them with Blogger. AND I'm really thrilled that if I'm typing and accidentally hit some combination of keys that would send me away from the page, a notification pops up asking me if I really want to do that. Not that that's even necessary, because Blogger saves my posts every few seconds automatically!

Well, that's all about my blog for now... But as long as I've got you testing my stuff for me gratis, why don't you head on over to www.valsgalore.com/contact.php and send me a message? I recently added my own custom CAPTCHA, and I'm curious to see if I made any gigantic mistakes or wrote any ambiguous, misleading, or poorly worded questions.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

I confess to misrepresenting my musical preferences.

When asked what kind of music I like to listen to, the short answer is usually "techno." The long answer is a description that never mentions a genre and employs bullet points. However, in my neverending search for more music, I frequently find myself reading things that tell me, "No, you don't like techno! What you like is trance!" However, none of those things ever had an adequate explanation why. So, like a good person of literacy, I set out to learn just what defines these popular forms of electronic music.

I found a lot. I understood little. If you ever want to be overwhelmed, just have a gander at Ishkur's Guide to Electronic Music, which has descriptions and song samples for a ridiculous number of musical styles. Or try wading through Wikipedia's epic entry on techno.

From what I've been able to comprehend, trance is derived from techno, but is more melodic, more emotional, and features a more stylized structure, while techno is more atonal and experimental. Judging from this generalization, my sources are correct in telling me, "No, you don't like techno! What you like is trance!" According to my research, "techno" is often used to describe all forms of electronic dance music, but that is technically incorrect (I just made a terrible pun that is, in fact, so terrible, I shouldn't be drawing attention to it, but instead, I am going to devote a whole parenthetical run-on sentence to it, just to describe how terrible it is and how delighted I am to have thought of it!).

But when I describe what kind of music I like, I can't go around saying "trance." For one thing, I dislike the name, which makes it sound like it makes you fall asleep. For another thing, I like music from several other style categories, and saying "EDM" is a sure way to get a puzzled look. Actually, I might have to consider that. I could use it to fire up a conversation.

Or I could change the subject and start talking about other musical things that are occupying my mind--mostly more of those tiny fragments of songs that just tickle me pink! I will even be able to share them with you, because I found this website that will let you find and play almost any song you've ever wanted to hear: Songza.com.

Ever since I went to California, I've had a song stuck in my head. Actually three words of a song. Three tuneless, agonized words of a song. Over and over. I don't even know the name of the song. Brief pause (Here, listen to the Doctor Who theme song while you're waiting) so I can find out. The Song is My Chemical Romance's "Famous Last Words." And the words are "Where's your heart?" which are said at the beginning. The rest of the song is boring, but I guess I just really get a kick out of pained expressions of sundered love.

Here's another song that's all about sundered love. "Don't bring me down" by Electric Light Orchestra. There's this part near the end where a guitar plays a bass variation on the notes that are usually sung to "Don't bring me down, Bruce!" The whole song's pretty fun, but that guitar part's the best!

Oh, and speaking of ungratifying relationships... "Hot n Cold" by Katy Perry. It's got a hearty helping of synth all through it, which is great, but listen closely whenever it transitions from the verse to the refrain. Oooh, cheap electronic thrills!

And one last musical suggestion before I end this bloated post. I'm not sure if it's about sundered love or ungratifying relationships, but unfortunately I think it's not--it sounds too happy. I guess we'll be forced to listen to one upbeat song today: DJ Ötzi's "7 Sünden." You get Electronic Dance Music plus polka all in one, and you get to hear someone with a strong German accent yell, "The roof, the roof, the roof is on fire!" How can you not love it?

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Getting famouser by the minute

I promise that if I actually ever become a legitimate artist or well known entity of any sort, I will stop publishing my every miniscule accomplishment in my blog. But at present, success is new to me, so I can't help but share my excitement!

Someone used my stock photography on a real website! Head on over to http://idl-iaa.su and look in the top right. That's me, holding the question mark!

Unlike the last image I mentioned that was co-opted on the web, I put this one in the public domain for anyone to use.

And of course, if you'd like to use it too, or any of my other brilliant works, visit my stock photography collection at DeviantArt.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Where do you go?

It's time for my quarterly Oh-My-God-I'm-Still-Languishing-in-College-Park Extended Moment of Horror.

A friend of mine very recently moved out of the Washington area forever. In his farewell comedy show (Here's a clip if you're interested!), he talked about how enthusiastic he was when he first moved here. He was going to be native! He was going to be of the soil!

Contrast that with how I felt when I first moved here. I was not enthusiastic to be here. I was Ohioan! I was of the Midwest! I thought I was only going to be here for three months. Now it's been three years. I'm still here, and I still don't want to be here. (There was a brief interlude when I was enraptured with Maryland, but that was during a spell of particularly nice weather. Now I know the truth.)

The problem is, I no longer want to go back to Ohio either. Ohio is too Midwest even for me. To get anywhere in Ohio, you have to drive, and driving's no fun if you don't have any crazy Washingtonians to dodge. Ohio is the place for meat-eaters and people who like to vote for Bush. Ohio is where you go once you've hit rock bottom.

If you've known me since I left Ohio, you know that my ultimate desire has been to get to California. Well, I finally got there. And was kind of disappointed. Southern California was basically one overpopulated and expensive desert. You never realize how much you need trees until you go somewhere where there are none. Palm trees are fun to look at, but they're not the green leafy companions that I know and hug.

So if my current locale fills me with depression, my home locale fills me with depression, and the locale of my former dreams fills me with depression, where do I go? I'm taking suggestions.