Monthly Archives: November 2002

Let’s talk about ME, shall we?


Your first name of Kari has made you a friendly, approachable, and generous person. Generally you are good-natured, though at times you can be blunt and sarcastic. As you are naturally talkative, you find it easy to meet and make friends with many people. This name inclines you to be sympathetic and generous to those in difficult or unfortunate circumstances. You can be firm, positive, and independent in your own ideas and in reaching your own decisions, yet when it comes to taking action or following things through to completion, you often need encouragement. You respond quickly to kind words or any appreciation shown you. There are artistic, creative abilities in this name that you could express through music or singing, or, in a practical way, through sewing or interior decorating. You enjoy freedom from monotony and are stimulated by unexpected opportunities for meeting people, entertaining, or pursuing activities of a carefree nature. In your work, you find it difficult to be neat and orderly. You rarely plan things ahead of time, or follow a routine. Emotion and feeling, the desire to be carefree, friendly, and happy, are the driving forces in your being, rather than shrewdness, ambition, and material success. You could experience headaches, or problems with your teeth, ears, eyes, or sinuses. Health weaknesses relative to the functioning of the liver could appear.





Your first name of Karina has given you a very friendly, likeable nature, and you could excel in artistic, dramatic, and musical expression. With this name, you desire the finer things in life, but you do not always have the resolve and vitality to put forth the effort necessary to fulfill your desires. Your emotional feelings are easily aroused and you will always be involved in other people’s problems as a result of your overly sympathetic nature. You have many disappointments as a result of extending a helping hand to others in need, and then not receiving any acknowledgement or reciprocation for your generosity. After each experience, you have to guard against feelings of despondency and self-pity. You have lofty goals and high ideals, but must incorporate more practicality, system, and concentration in order to materialize them. In health, this name affects the nervous system and also the fluid functions, giving rise to kidney or bladder weaknesses.




Crying Clowns, Potlucks, and the Virtues of Not Dressing on a Sunday

Friday night I saw Comedian with Jerry Seinfeld.  Matt really enjoys Seinfeld.  I don’t mind the guy, but honestly, I don’t think that his show is the superfantastic fabuloso thing that so many other people feel it is. 

That little disclaimer said, I really did enjoy the movie.  It’s a documentary about being a standup comedian.  It really shows how hard it is to be a successful comedian, and the painful process you have to go through.  The film showcased Seinfeld, who’s already big and who is rebuilding his lineup, and a young comedian (Orny Arnold) just about to make it big.  They picked the right young comedian to juxtapose Seinfeld, too.  That was great casting.  The film was also incredibly hard and painful to watch.  It’s freakin’ hard work to be a comedian.  You have to stand up in front of all of these dumb drunk tools and tell jokes.  And there’s always the 3 people in the audience who think they could have been a comedian, and they’ve got their own commentary to add.  For someone who’s ever been in front of an audience, it’s a scary scary proposition. 

And something else I noticed?  Comedian’s eyes are always very very sad.  They’re like those porcelain crying clown figurines.

Saturday I woke up early to cook some squash.  I was invited to a pre-thanksgiving potluck party, so I wanted to make an exciting and glamorous dish.  This is it (from the joy of cooking, and paraphrased):
Quinoa-stuffed Acorn squash

  • Bake 3 acorn squash, halved and face down in a baking pan with some water in it, until soft.  Let cool.
  • Sauté onion in a buttery pan.  When golden, add and toast quinoa.  Add vegetable broth, cover, and cook about 15 min. (until soft).
  • Scoop the insides out of 2 of the squash halves.  Mix into cooked quinoa, add toasted hazelnuts/almonds (I used almonds this time, but with hazelnuts it’s so fantastic), fresh parsley, and a bit of parmesan cheese.
  • Stuff the other squash halves with the squash-quinoa mixture.  Sprinkle more cheese on top and bake until heated through.

So good!  So glamorous!  So sophisticated!

Quinoa is a really fantastic grain, by the way, it’s got nearly perfect proteins, so it’s a good meat “substitute” and it cooks remarkably fast.  Much faster than rice.  It’s good, and so texturally pleasing!

Right, so I packed up my double recipe of squashes (acorn and pretty carnival, which turn out to be a sweet squash) into 3 pie pans, and was lucky to catch a ride with Matt to NJ so I didn’t have to brave the every-2-hour bus ride to Nutley.  I got there early so I could help out.

The potluck was really fun.  The food was fantastic, and the hostess was a sweetie.  Really, she’s the mostest.  Mostest bestest!

So Friend Doug drove me home afterwards, which was super swell of him, b/c it would have taken hours on the path to the subway combo (ok, not hours, probably just 1.5-2 hours.  But we left at 12:30, so it would have been very late getting home!).  And then, I went to bed.  And I slept until 12:30 the next afternoon.  And I got up, and stayed in my PJs all day long.  I don’t usually wear the matching PJ set, so that in itself was pretty cool.  I threw some laundry in. I sat on the couch.  I put in my contacts when John and I settled down to watch a PBS documentary based on the book “Cadillac Desert,” we watched 2 parts of 4. Then John watched the Giants game, and I knit on the couch.  (I finished the scarf, and nearly finished stripy surprise item #2!)  When the game got tense and I noticed that I was freaking cold, I got up and left John to his own devises, and washed the dishes (mom was right, it really DOES warm you up…). 

Michelle got home just after the football game was over, and we watched Moulin Rouge.  Now, I don’t know what I was expecting, but it sure as heck wasn’t that.  It was fantastic, and weird, and funny, and colorful, but I really didn’t expect it to be like it was.   It was wild!

And after that?  It was to bed.  Um, not to sleep, but to start and finish a short novel. Terrible habits I’ve got going here with the reading in bed stuff.  I think it’s because when I was working so hard I didn’t really get any down time at home, so I got in the habit of reading for a bit in bed.  And now I need to break that habit!  I have sleep to get. 

Right now I’m feeling terribly lightheaded, so I think I’ll leave work a tad bit early.  I’m not sure what’s going on, but I do think I’ll feel better on my couch.  I’d love to stop by a yarn store on the way home to get some double pointed needles for my mittens, but … it just seems like such an effort to get somewhere.  I’ll give it a shot.  If I take the knitting bus home I can cut across town to Knitting 321 and then take the 1st Ave. bus the rest of the way home.  That’s not so bad!

Thunderstorms and Season-Appropriate Weather.

There’s a thunderstorm outside! 

It started to Fall-rain today.  Something I have gotten used to here in NYC is the rain that happens during the fall.  Weather patterns are something that can be so defined and in a region, but I hardly ever notice changes in them until the expected weather pattern HASN’T happened.  Like one summer when it rained all the time up in Albany.  Maybe I thought it was raining so much because I was kind of depressed, baby-sitting in a weird one-parent-staying-home situation for the summer, or maybe the weather patterns were skewed.  I really do think it rained a lot that summer.  I remember Albany being extra lush and green, and I remember the shade of green that reflected from the full trees to the low gray clouds and back down to unmowed grass.

In NYC, it’s supposed to rain in the fall, be cool for December and January, get really cold in February, with not much precipitation during the winter.  Then for spring it will warm up a bit and rain at night only.  Summer time has thunderstorms with hard driving rain and hot muggy temperatures, sometimes oppressive.  Everyone walks around sweaty.  The sun is clear and orangey-red, and it hits your shoulders in a heavy way.

Today, I was surprised to hear it start to thunderstorm.  I don’t really know where thunderstorms come from, I’m used to blaming them on the summer, or the humidity, or the heat.  I’m used to sitting at my grandmothers’ in Tennessee during August and watching the thunderstorm clouds roll around her hill, until they’ve gone nearly all around us before suddenly bursting open and dropping a quick hard rain that briefly shoulders the heat and humidity out of the way before the sun breaks through the clouds and heats the wet streets until they’re like a long sauna, surrounding everything. 

But I’m not used to these fall thunderstorms.  In the fall the rain will come at night, and in the early morning.  It will rain softly in the morning but so steadily that you can’t leave the house without an umbrella.  The oil and dirt on the pavement will start to wash away, but won’t disappear as quickly as you wish they would.  The oil will start to spread its sheen and will pick up the little light afforded by the gray sky.  Last night it rained like this.  It started after work, and rained on and off all night long.  The rain was cold, but not too cold.  The clouds kept us warm like a wet wool blanket.  The weather report for today said it would rain on and off, turning colder overnight until we hit real November temperatures for the weekend.

Instead, today it started to rain in earnest.  The sky got prematurely dark during the day until we remarked at 3 PM that it was practically nighttime.  But we didn’t blame the weather, we blamed daylight savings time.  And then I heard the rain slapping the window as it fell.  And one loud boom of thunder surprised me while I was on the phone.  That was all – the thunderstorm moved on through, and an entirely appropriate fall rain stayed in its place.  It wasn’t too hard, but fell softly into puddles.  It got people wet.  It was a proper fall rain.


Last night I went to a birthday party for a friend of mine from school.  It was lots of fun.  I was able to isolate myself from my classmates for the first 2 ½ years at college, and then the few semesters I started being better friends with them.  I’m so glad I did, because I really enjoy spending time with them.  They’re a classy bunch of people, full of smarts, sass, and fun.  And after all of my tireds from yesterday I managed to stay up very late, and get home very late, and not get enough sleep.  That’s ok, though, because it’s the weekend tomorrow…

Cooking up a Storm of Spicy Spuds!

Today is a quiet day in the office, with Lake Nasty meetings taking place sans Me upstate.

I’m exhausted.  Honestly, the last month is catching up with me.  I’m worn down!  Plus, I have been relishing my home time this week a little too much – my evenings go something like this:

  • Get home.  Eat a little something.  It’s generally 7:30 or 8 by now.
  • Sit on couch and knit and watch TV for a few hours.  Favorite shows:  7th Heaven, That 70’s Show. Malcolm in the Middle.  Other fave. shows of various roommates:  Ed, West Wing,  and others, including BBC world news.
  • Around 10:30 start toddling around like I’m ready to head up for bed.
  • Hit the sack around 11.  Read.  Favorite books to read in bed:  trashy trashy romance novels.  Louisa May Alcott books.
  • Speak to Matt around 11:30 or 12.  Go to sleep very late.

All that, and then waking up at 7:30 the next morning, on top of being pooped from the wedding, and even more on top of being pooped from working so hard from the last month, well, I’m a tired girl.

Yesterday I went straight home on the knitting bus.  That’s what I’ll always call it.  It’s a good bus. I love it.  From what I’ve read, knitting in public (or kip, if you’re down with the knitting lingo used on the inter-web) is supposed to garner strange looks and interested questions from strangers.  I barely ever get anything.  Maybe it’s that NY state of mind, where no one is supposed to look at anyone else and NO ONE is supposed to talk to a stranger.  Not that I’m looking for conversations with strangers, really, but the non plused silence just isn’t what I expected the first time I whipped out the knitting.

When I got home I went cooking crazy, with easy-peasy stuff. I made a pound of part-whole wheat spaghetti and used some of it with the end of this fantastic Thai peanut sauce that a buddy here at work made and gave me.  It’s so good and spicy and gingery.  I love it.  That was for my dinner.

On the rest of the spaghetti I did my tried and true spicy standby:  some chipotle-garlic spice tossed with some parmesan cheese.  (Michelle is a saint for having a big bag of grated cheese from Costco in the fridge.  It makes my throw-together cooking so much easier.)  I packed that for lunch some day.

We had some left over ugly potatoes that weren’t pretty enough for the potluck roasted potato dish, so I cooked ‘em up and mashed ‘em down.  Mmmm.  And, to tempt fate, I threw in some MORE chipotle-garlic spice, only I used the HOT kind, not medium, and sauteed some garlic in olive oil to add to the potatoes.  Yum.  Only, I added too much spice.  Lord knows how hot they’ll be today after the flavor sets!  And then the Ever Prescient Jen coined the term ‘spicy spuds’.  Mmm, spicy spuds.  How many times can I write Mmmm?  I think I’ll go for one more.


Of course, today when I got into work I immediately heated up my spicy noodles and ate them for breakfast.  Er, brunch.  I have a really hard time when I bring my lunch to work – I just want to eat it immediately.  I’d say I have about a 60% success rate of waiting until lunch time to eat.  So, for lunch I went and got a sandwich.  Not the best way to watch what I eat.

There’s a mystery at work today – J. has roses on her desk!  But she’s at the tiger team meeting (rowr!) with El B., so who the heck knows where they came from!

What’s “on my plate.”

So, Lake Nasty has temporarily slowed down. I’m getting more time to spend doing what I like to do.

I’m knitting on my scarf for the battered woman’s shelter. That’s great, I really like getting something like this done. I can’t wait until it’s really and truly finished.

The last big of “charity knitting” (somehow that term, while it’s entirely appropriate, sounds wrong. It also sounds quaint and fun. I can’t decide if I like it or not.) I did was a couple of hats made from handspun yarn. It was a project for the spindlers list I’m on, which is a super chatty yah00 group focused on hand spinning with spindles. I signed up, received several skeins of handspun sproingy brown wool yarn from a woman in Hawaii, and knit up a couple of hats. They were sent to the Veterans Stand Down in Philadelphia. The Stand Down takes place yearly as a non-government affiliated venue for homeless veterans who might otherwise be reluctant to go in for the health benefits they are entitled to. (23% of homeless people are veterans! Visit the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans for more information on the Stand Down.)

I remember now that I got the bulk of the hat knitting done on bus trips home after work. There’s a great limited service (express) bus that goes from 10 blocks south of my office, to right outside of my office door to near my home, and then on up to the upper upper west side which runs until 7:20 PM. If I catch that bus, it’s a quick easy trip with a seat guaranteed because I get on at an early stop. Lately I haven’t been able to catch this bus because I’ve been working so late, but I’m going to make every effort to get back on the bus, and to knit my holiday projects there.

At home I’ve been knitting stripy hats. I have some really soft yarn from ebay, and I’m making them as surprise gifts for people who don’t expect them. After I’m done with the hats I’m going to finish the lacey item for a family member, and hopefully whip up some mittens for me. I have a long list of other knitting (hats and mittens, mostly) for other people as gifts, so I’m just going to crunch along on the list and see how far I get.

I may have to take a break from knitting at home to work on some of the embroidery projects I have planned, though. Embroidery isn’t nearly as portable as knitting! It gets too dirty in my trashed canvas bag (trashed because I rarely wash it, not through any fault of the canvas bag. And, it’s link-o-rama!) But I’ve got some serious embroidery work to do, too.

Other things I want to do include:

  1. Get my sewing machine fixed.
  2. Cook a really nice thing for a potluck this week, and another one in December.
  3. Organize my winter clothes so I’m not storing them on my desk.
  4. Swiff the living room floor at home.
  5. Rehang my pictures in my room from the era of the crumbling ceiling.
  6. Figure out CSS so I can have styling and easily updateable webpages sans using Word.

Not too bad! And now, I have to run so I can catch the knitting bus…

Vegetables, Weddings, and Executive Secretaries.

I had a super fantastic weekend full of vacation and no rest. It was wonderful.

Thursday night was a potluck dinner for our CSA (community supported agriculture group) to which Michelle and I brought dee-vine roasted potatoes. (We used dill, rosemary, thyme, garlic, and parsley. They were so freaking good. But I was surprised at how long they took to cook!)

A word about CSAs: I think they’re incredible. You join early in the year, and pay up front for a vegetable share. The farmer gets all (or nearly all) of the money at the beginning of the growing season; theoretically, the debt-cycle that the typical small farmer in America is in can be broken. (The debt cycle is where the farmer takes out a loan at the beginning of the season for equipment, seeds, and operating costs, and hopes that the harvest will be successful enough to cover the debt. This is one of the big reasons so many farmers went broke during the dust bowl and had to leave their homes to become migrant workers.) Around June you start getting organic and seasonal vegetables. This is another good thing: you get organic stuff, which is good for so many reasons I won’t get into it, and you get seasonal vegetables, from a local producer. This saves transportation and storage energy, and more abstractly, it keeps you in touch with the seasons and earth-cycles around your neighborhood. It sounds really crunchy-granola, but I appreciate this so much while living in NYC. This spring I didn’t notice it was nearly summer until I saw that the trees around me had full loads of leaves in them – and when we stopped getting so much lettuce and started getting other summer vegetables. Our CSA farmer lives about 1½ hours up the Hudson Valley from New York City. She has a family farm which she works with her husband and her children. She’s a cool lady with a great attitude towards life. She pays her kids to work for her, instead of making them. She is entirely supported by her 5 NYC CSAs. And she came to our potluck!

It’s funny when the two of the few things that make me want to stay in NYC are our great CSA and our snazzo Spanish Harlem apartment.

Then, my friend Julie from school got married this weekend, and I was in her bridal party. So it was a fantastic excuse to take Friday off – especially as I have been working so hard and late that I wasn’t able to run any of my pre-wedding errands last week or the week before. I had my lashes dyed and my eyebrows waxed. I went to the Museum of Natural History to buy jewelry for the wedding. I got a manicure, and immediately messed it up. I got a pedicure and didn’t hurt it too much. And then I headed out for the parties on Long Island. And boy, were there parties. There was the rehearsal dinner, which took like 4 hours, and was punctuated by a speech made by the grooms father that was so long and happy and poignant that it wore me out. There was the hair appointment that lasted for 3 hours (for 7 girls, so not bad, really). There was trying to make Julie eat something before she got her makeup done, so she wouldn’t pass out. And there was the wedding – it was beautiful, and I didn’t trip down the aisle or anything. Me not taking communion wasn’t awkward at all. I fit into my bridesmaid dress despite the month of food and bad eating I’d done after the fitting. The reception was magnificent and they took us in when it was cold and rainy, even though we were 1½ hours early. And the hors d’ovres? Yum. The families all know how to have a great time, with the dancing and kissing and hugging and clapping and smiling. It was a really good weekend. I felt like I was on vacation!

Then, today, I got back to work and dove back into Lake Nasty and the impending document publication. There are “tiger team” (rowr!) meetings coming up which include the primary authors and commenting agencies, and I’m not going to have to go to them. I have very mixed feelings about that. On the one hand, they’re mostly “these are how we implemented your comments, is it OK, and by the way, this other agency said this, just so you know” meetings. I don’t imagine I’d need to be there, because our editor will be there, and El Bosso, and the client project manager. I don’t need to be there to take notes, or edit documents, and truth be told I haven’t actually read every single word in these reports. But at the same time, I feel like I’m doing all of the work with none of the glory. It’s pretty sad when a tiger team meeting = glory.

Here’s a few of the silly (and irrational) things I thought when I realized I wasn’t going:

  1. So, well, what’s my job again?
  2. No glory. (See above statement regarding glory.) That’s ok. I’ll just stay here and format tables. I excel at excel!
  3. Oh, he just doesn’t want me to go because I’m no fun to travel to Albany with, always running off to stay with my family! It’s a conspiracy to keep me from my familial seat!

The thing is, and this is where I get whiny about my job again, I don’t really know what my job here is. I didn’t know what it was before, and then the Big Company bought us, and now I really don’t know what my job is.

This is my work timeline:

I started just out of college. I was regular junior level staff – El B.’s private engineer. I went to project management meetings with the client every week, and wrote big book reports about potential hazardous waste sites around Lake Nasty.

After working here for a year I started to feel kind of dissatisfied and bored. I spoke to El B. and told him that I needed more responsibility, and also to feel a little bit of attachment to the project. So he told me that he’d felt I was his deputy project manager, and that he would give me more responsibility. He did, a little. I told my mom I was deputy, and she said I was Deputy Dawg.

After working here for two years, I started to feel a little dissatisfied again. I felt like this deputy stuff was platitudes, and really meant “someone to drive to Albany with for monthly project meetings.” I got a little upset, and a little stressed out, and spoke to El B. seriously this time. He told me there was a big hazardous waste site that was super nasty and was a continuing source of contamination for Lake Nasty. He told me I could manage that site. I was so excited! That was a big deal. He also said he’d need a lot of help from me to work on the Lake Nasty documents. And then we zipped into that process, and it’s been a whirlwind year.

Except they cancelled the monthly project meetings. And I didn’t know what was going on in any other aspects of the project. And I spoke to El B. about it at about year three, asking what I should do when people asked me about other aspects of the project that were going on. He said he didn’t have the time to fill me in, and I should call this other person if I wanted to know. And that’s when I started to distance myself a little from work here. I am not the deputy. I never have been, really, except for maybe a nine month period when the progress meetings were really useful and comprehensive. I’m no less micromanaged than the other people here. So, now, with no glory and only hard work, I am not sure what I should do about this job.

As I was compiling the hardcopy of the report and getting it ready for other people to take to the glamorous meeting this week, I realized that an executive secretary might do what it is that I’m doing now. If I were an executive secretary, I might take notes at meetings. I might edit excel tables. I might edit text. I might write stuff for my boss to check and elaborate on. The only difference would be the salary, and the wardrobe. If I were an executive secretary I might make twice what I make now, and I’d be able to afford the wardrobe. Rowr!

Vietnam Veterans Memorial

There are TVs in my elevator at work.  It’s a brave new advertising strategy that is designed to target captive, young and rich audiences (we are, apparently, are on average: 39 year old professionals, 60% in management, with 66% graduating from collage and a household income of $105K) on their hazy commute to and from work.  Now, it’s not all advertising, there are fun facts, and polls (you can vote at their website!  It’s interactive!), and the word-of-the-day, but mostly it’s just a fantastic excuse to not have to talk to the other person in the elevator with you without feeling awkward.  The company’s name is Captivate, and the silly TVs are, apparently, a vehicle to reach the target audience during the part of the day where they are already making purchase decisions.  It’s very subliminal, in a not at all subliminal way.  This is called “Captivate time.”  I call it “I don’t know that person from the 5th floor, though I’ve seen them around, so instead of making awkward small talk, I’ll be very interested in how Lyle Lovett and Anthony Kiedis were born on the same day.  Imagine!  Lyle Lovett is 45 years old!”



I read this morning on the TV in the elevator that the Vietnam memorial opened today in 1982.  I remember going there with my family when I was younger, and my mother looking for the names of people she knew.  She was in the army around the time of the Vietnam war.  


Knowing that the memorial opened in 1982 makes a lot of little things snap into place. I knew it had opened during my lifetime, but I didn’t realize that when we went in 1983, or when I was in 1th grade, it had just barely opened.  I remember the memorial being very crowded, with people silently reading the wall, and red roses everywhere.  I guess until now I thought it would always be that way, the black gash in the ground filled with silent and somber people.  When I went back during high school while attending a conference in DC, I was surprised at how few people were there – I know now that maybe that’s probably just the way it is these days.  I also remember a conversation between my Mom and my 1st grade teacher, who was also a veteran.  We lived right up the hill from the school in Oak Ridge and sometimes she and my baby brother would walk down to get me at the end of the day.  I recall waiting on the front steps of the school as she spoke with him about our visit to the memorial.  I think it must have been just before we went to the memorial.  I thought that people of my mother’s age, especially Vietnam vets, just talked about this stuff with others quite freely. I guess that’s not the case really. I have always felt very strongly that the Vietnam Veterans Memorial was the best memorial that could have ever gone up, because I have seen the way my mother and other visitors reacted to it, but I am always shocked to remember that it wasn’t always there, and it wasn’t an easy thing to be built.


This must be a belated veterans day entry, hey?  Happy Veterans Day, Mommy.

Brick House meets Immovable Object.

It’s a bizzaro heat and rain day today. Now, I love the humidity, because I’m a weirdo from the south. And I love the rain, because it’s wet, and breaks up the humidity, and it washes the streets clean, and it scrubs the air, and I’m a geek, so I love knowing how the water runs through a watershed when it rains, and I love knowing that reservoirs are filling and wetlands are forming, and acting as giant sponges. I love all of that. I don’t so much love being in NYC during the rain.

Today I was heading back to the office with my lunch, and this little man with an umbrella nearly as wide as he was tall was walking towards me. His umbrella was so large, and so red. He was chattering on his cell phone, and as I came abreast of him his umbrella whacked mine. It whacked it! I spun around and stared after him. There weren’t many people on the sidewalk, and I guess I could have moved aside for him, but I must have underestimated the small mans size.

Then I thought as I walked away, I should have yelled! Shouted! Yelped! I had a full body flinch, and it’s a known fact that in NYC the silent killer is umbrellas. I react sharply and suddenly to my cell phone going off in my pocket (well, it vibrates, and it startles me!) and I should cultivate that sudden reaction for when people whack me (and my umbrella) as we walk past each other in the street.

But then I imagined what it would look like if I did yell – it’s raining, not too hard, and tall me (with my little pocket sized black umbrella), walks past short man (with his huge, red, red, red, umbrella). We pass each other. He whacks me with in the umbrella as he talks on his cell phone, and continues walking down the street. I reflexively wince away from him, and yell. Maybe I’ll yell a word, maybe “hey!” or “ouch!” or maybe it would just be a loud “aaaah!” noise. I’d stop short, spin around. And stand there yelling at him as he walked on down the street. Maybe the person on the phone with him would ask what that yelling noise was – and maybe they wouldn’t.

See, I’m invisible here in NYC. It’s hard for me to understand why, I think I’m a pretty obvious person. I’m just over 6’ tall in my shoes. I have wild red hair. I look people in the eye. I have a pink and white face. My hair is so wild that I must repeat myself: I have wild red hair. But no one ever looks at me, unless it’s summer, when my clothes are skimpy and I encounter the “privileged male gaze.” They walk right into me in the street. I can be on a crowded sidewalk, walking towards a group of people 2 or 3 abreast, and they won’t move but will walk into me. But, that’s ok. Once, in high school, some guy walked into me. He bounced off of me and landed on his keyster in the middle of the hallway. You see, I’m a brick house. Yaow.

Last night Matt and I had our very special anniversary dinner – we had great Italian food, and then he gave me the best present ever: the Crossroads DVD. It’s my first DVD even! He’s got a real knack for finding things that I secretly want (cowboy hat, Britney Spears movie) but that I wouldn’t really buy for myself, and getting them for me. He’s so awesome. AND, he watched it with me! And sang along during the special “Sing along with Britney” karaoke feature at the end! If I weren’t in lurve before…

Work related illness and how much I love knitting.

Oh, the weekend is tomorrow!

I can’t even imagine what my life will be like when I’m done with this project. Our next big big deadline is Monday night, and Tuesday? I may be very sick. You know how it goes, when stress and adrenaline keeps the tiredness and sickness at bay and when all is over, you suddenly explode into sleep and sickness and sniffles and coughs and tired and stay in bed? That’s what’s going to happen. Knowing how I have reacted in the past to constant work I could probably hold off illness for a few days, but then the baseline exhaustion won’t go away for months, no matter how much I sleep in on weekends.

It’s the western approach to medicine, though, that will make it hard for me to stay home on Tuesday. I am so used to waiting until I am very ill it’s hard for me to say “this is a preventative measure, therefore, it’s valid and appropriate.”

The only things that are keeping me going on this project are:

I have forgotten what I would usually do in the evenings when I don’t have to work late.

Stress, consistent lack of sleep, and more caffeine than I’ve drank in the last 3 months. (I think caffeine gives me gas. Not stinky, gross, hide the children gas (or, as I’ve been told before, that’s what I think), but just plain old air poots. Weird!)

The faint hopes that my suggestions will be acted on and at the end of the year all team members will get t-shirts that say: “Nasty Lake: Our Science is Tight.”

Last night was so wonderful and fun. I left work mostly early and met some glitterati at a coffee shop by Union Square to knit scarves for a charity scarf drive – we’re going to make scarves and give them to a woman’s shelter for the holiday. Their kids get stuff from toys-for-tots type charities, so wonderful cowgirly thought we should give something to the women.

I stayed out later than I had planned to, because the company was fantastic and I rediscovered how much I love knitting. For so long I’ve been working on little dinky projects – gifts for people, mostly. It’s been kind of exhausting to pay attention to patterns, or to deadlines. And I was terribly nervous about knitting the scarf because I hate knitting scarves – they’re so long, and boring, and tedious. I always feel like I have a lack of gumption, or something, because I’m terrified of getting bored during a project and never finishing. But I’m working with this lion brand homespun yarn and it’s knitting up really fast! I don’t know if it was the fun company and sassy conversation, or if it’s just because the yarn is a little thicker than I’m used to using, but I’m really zipping along and I’m starting to feel 100% better about scarves. Well, maybe 78% better. I still don’t like doing something that takes so long, and requires so little concentration. Now, dishcloths? The perfect project. Really! They’re so fast and easy. Instant gratification.

When I was walking home from the subway station I felt kind of euphoric. I don’t think it was just b/c I had left work “early,” but also because I realized again how much I love to knit. I guess I’d forgotten a little bit. It was so nice to sit there and watch the scarf grow as it fell from my needles.

The Fun Ruiner.

I got caught twice in the last 10 minutes having fun today! Oh, El B., how I’ve failed you…

Michelle and I used to joke about our professional wrestling names. I was going to be The Fun Ruiner, and I’d bust out in a cape and say in a deep, scary, Andre the Giant voice “Mothers, Hide your Children. I am here to Rain On Your PaRade…” She’d be my sidekick, The Purple Grape, and her wrestling move would be The Steamroller (which I’ve seen in action, and it is surprisingly effective). At about this time we’d start to crack up so hard that we couldn’t really continue. I can’t remember why we were talking about being professional wrestlers, probably it had something to do with the movie “Billy Madison,” but with us, there’s really no telling where a whacko idea comes from.

Example: a paraphrased and probably incorrectly recollected conversation from our drive cross-country:

Michelle (looking at map): “Hey, there’s a town called Lolita coming up!”

Kari (driving): “Libido? Weird.”

Michelle: “Burrito? No, it’s called Lolita!”

And then we’d chorus the next few days “Lolita? Libido? Burrito?” and crack up. This was really helpful when we didn’t have a tape deck or CD player to listen to, b/c the jerks in San Francisco had stolen both of them, and all of Michelle’s CDs. Between the never ending Ricky Martin songs, that really dirty Jordan Knight song (“Give it to you”) that was playing constantly that summer, and the rousing renditions of Figaro performed by Michelle, it was good to have something we could repeat to each other over and over that would never lose it’s humor.

While I’m repeating conversations from cross country, here’s a golden one between my brother and I, when I called home after the car had been totally burglarized in San Francisco to find out what kind of info insurance would need:

Kari (very sad, in hotel lobby): “Oh, DanAaron, They broke into our car and stole everything!”

DanAaron: “Who did? . . . Never mind, you don’t know. Oops. I’m sorry!”

Kari (sniffle): “It was the JERKS!”

And then we both started laughing, which I really needed.

Other things said (but might not have been conversations):

Thing Rob-at-work has said today that crack me up:

“Politics is gouging the price of V8 today.”

Only he really said “the man in the box is gouging the price of V8 today.”

I can’t decide which is funnier, the real one or the kari-one.

(And Rob isn’t nuts, there are men in boxes here in NYC who sell us things to eat. Like Bagels and Coffee in the morning. Really, they’re in Tin Boxes. Now, he may be referring to guy who isn’t actually in a box as a man in a box, but that’s just an eccentricity – he’s definitely not nuts.)

A very grouchy morning. But a very happy day.

I’m a big grouch today. There’s no reason why – just being tired, and being at work, and dark dank weather. So, I think I’ll ignore it. Or, pout and stamp my feet until I crack my own self up at how ridiculous I can be.

Maybe I’m grouchy because sent me a news article and it had the subject “TOTAL CONTROL.” I’m a little nervous about the next 2 years. OK, maybe more than a little nervous. But lately, and it’s a terrible form of cynicism that’s been developing, lately I find my self thinking “ok, so, everything will go down the tubes. That’s ok. Cause after it’s all fucked up, maybe people will start thinking straight about how to actually FIX things and GET THINGS DONE. I wouldn’t be so concerned about the election results if I didn’t know that certain political parties will see this as “The Voice of the American People,” sanctioning a hateful and poorly explained (and often personal) agenda. In the last two years I’ve been too disgusted by politics to really follow them, but I think I’ve gotten over it. I’m going to start paying attention again, and start educating those around me.

Today is my three-year anniversary with Mr. Matt. We have been seeing each other for three years, following a good 10 months or so of serious crushing on each other. Everything I can say about him or being with him sounds trite and mushy. Oh, and also, I feel (kind of superstitiously) that writing about your love on your website has the potential of turning out like getting their name tattooed on your person. Y’know.

A little observation about 7th Heaven – is there someone out there who really really really thinks this is a funny show? I mean, some of the weirdest, most bizarre, most non sequiterial things happen on this show, like, characters who are “in love” and are “going to get married”slowly drive each other insane, almost on purpose! And I know someone sat down and wrote these words. I know that person thinks they’re humorous, or that they create some kind of story line, and the make total sense, but when I watch the show? I’m not watching it because it’s funny, or interesting, but because it’s freakin’ weird. Really, really freakin’ weird. I almost wonder if the people responsible for 7th Heaven are also responsible for those strange strange Sprint PCS ads (really, read this sentence out loud, slowly: “you were a little bored so you thought you’d try some kung fu.” The hell?)

And another thing.

This is why I need a blog, or something. The web page requires so much work to write twice in one day! I would get some kind of blog script going, but I have a very limited hosting plan…

I am so frustrated with work.

Honestly, I feel like I need a 12-step program to deal with El Bosso!

Here’s a constantly repeating scenario:

I’m on my way somewhere: the printer, the bathroom, obviously I’m GOING somewhere, b/c I’m walking pretty fast and purposefully. He’ll holler out of his office “Karina!” so I’ll stop by. He will be ON THE PHONE, with Someone, and will be talking about some aspect of the project that a task manager under him has directed this someone to work on. He will get upset, b/c he doesn’t know exactly what’s going on, and the task manager isn’t immediately reachable, and Someone has called El B with a question. He will start sighing loudly, sometimes pounding on his desk, and flipping furiously through the report in question. He will start making rhetorical statements about how x should have been done, and y should have been done, and everyone has known about this since z happened. He won’t listen to anything I or Someone has to say, because he’s too busy explaining how this is entirely Task Manager’s fault, because he (El B) was very explicit in his direction, and nothing has been done, or it’s all been done wrong, or it all seems to not be done or to have been done wrong. He will talk over us. He will roll his eyes. But it doesn’t help! It doesn’t help at all!

This makes me think a lot about my place in this workplace. I want to call Someone back, after all is said, and apologize for El B! But that’s not my job – I’m not paid enough to do that stuff. I worry that I’m being an enabler by allowing him to get away with this kind of reaction to a simple question. I worry that my own reputation is harmed by my non-action, by how I just stand by in the door jam of his office while he tirades. I am frustrated that he is not a professional person, and that he reacts more than he listens and thinks.

This is what I would like to happen:

I’ll be going somewhere. He’ll holler Karina. I’ll say “Sorry, El B, I’m on my way to the ladies room” and I’ll keep walking.

Or, if I stop, he’ll start with the rhetorical questions and I’ll say “I’m sorry, but I don’t really see how this is helping us to find a solution.” Or I’ll say “that may be so, but it’s not Someone’s fault, and it doesn’t answer Someone’s question.” Or “you don’t expect us to answer these questions, do you?” But these responses are not professional! I don’t feel they’re the right way to deal with a coworker! And it really frustrates me to question my own professionalism in these situations, and to worry about being brought down to his level.

I guess luckily for me, it’s not my job to teach him how to live. It’s not my job to teach him how to interact with his coworkers. It’s not my job to explain to him the precepts of good management. All I can do is my real job, picking up loose ends, answering questions, and formatting tables. And hope that he’s not the norm, and the next place I find myself spending the bulk of my waking-life at will be different.

My dad called just now, and I got to hash this all out with him. He’s very understanding, and helpful. But sadly, he wasn’t able to assure me that this is an unusual El B situation. Ugh. I just wish El B was a vicious, nasty person with an obvious agenda. That would be so much easier for me to deal with.

Voting and a Very Special Birthday.

Happy Birthday Mariss!

I have no idea if he looks at my web page, but I’m immortalizing now, in the interweb and in the G00gle cache, how freakin’ spectacular a guy Mr. Mariss is.

I wish I was there to make you elaborate and wonderful birthday cupcakes, but I’m not. Maybe next year?

Happy Happy Birthday!

Voting day today – I’m very lucky where I live – it is very easy for me to vote. The polling location is down the block and across the street from my apartment, right on the way to the subway station. I go in, there are nice people to help me remember my district number and to chat with me as I’m waiting, and it’s very exciting to work the election booth. I remember being little and going into the booth with my parents (either one, at different times). I always wanted to work the switches or levers, but they usually didn’t let me.

Today, however, it wasn’t so easy to vote. One of my building neighbors was voting when I got there, and there was something wrong with the voting booth. One of the lines was broken – the state senate. So you could vote for everything else, but not state senator. The election people were walking around, trying to figure out what to do. The line started to grow behind me. Two election guys got into the booth with my neighbor (which I wasn’t very uncomfortable with, personally, but she seemed to hold her own) and tried to force the booth to work. It didn’t work. They decided the problem was that the state senator was running on both the republican and the democrat ticket (all tickets, actually, except for the working families party). “You can’t split parties� one man kept saying, but you can, because there were at least 10 other people on the ballot who were running as both republican and democrat. That wasn’t the problem. A person in line before me left and lost her vote (she’d already signed the book), because she was late to work. Finally the site supervisor came back (from phoning headquarters, I assume) and said we could fill out paper ballots if we wanted to vote for state senator, and do all votes on the ballot, or we could vote from the machine, and not vote for the state senator. But my neighbor couldn’t vote in two places, so she lost her chance to vote for the state senate candidate.

So I decided to use the paper ballot. I waited for my turn. I was thanked for my patience. I got a standup piece of cardboard, a number two pencil, and a ballot. And I voted. As I made sure the circles on the ballot were filled in completely and darkly, I thought to myself “democracy is hard!� and then I realized, no, American democracy? That’s easy. Hard is worrying about vote fixing. Hard is dodging bullets on the way to the polls. Hard is to vote while thugs stand outside of the voting booth, in silent reminder to vote for the strongest candidate. Hard is walking for miles and miles and miles to stand up and be counted. Hard is voting, and knowing that no matter what you vote, and what your family votes, and what the country votes, the vote will always count up to 100% for the guy in power currently.

But still, I feel a little disenfranchised. We’re supposedly the “IT� democracy in the whole world. And in Spanish Harlem, at least two women lost their votes because of a poorly functioning voting booth, and a society that feels voting should be squeezed into a normal work day, and is something people get around to doing, and not a civic right and responsibility to be exercised freely and proudly.

I guess what I’m saying is, go vote!

Sunday was a very cold day for working, but perfect for running.

Back to work today. I have to say, it’s not so easy to get back into the working swing of things after you’ve gone off and worked all weekend, too. And also please note that I was not the one running this weekend. That refers to the NYC marathon.

I started to get out my towel project for gifts this weekend, but I didn’t have much time to work on it. Actually, I started to, and then managed to knock a glass off of the ironing board and it fell, and I had a “nooooo!” moment, and then it smashed. So I needed to clean that up, and by the time I did, Michelle had gotten up and we had a fun morning filled with pastries for breakfast instead.

I’m getting kind of stressed out over my planned Christmas projects. Lake Nasty is ruining my life! I should be at home parked on the couch by 7 pm knitting my little heart out as I listen to the washing machine scrub my clothes clean, but instead, I’m working until 9 or 10 pm every night, and wasting time in the morning hunting for my last pair of clean black tights. Or, I was last week. I don’t think I can maintain that kind of pace this week too! Tonight I hope to get home at a normal hour, and I hear from our computer folks that Wednesday the server will be inaccessible from 5:30 to 8:30 pm. Ha! Technology can be so helpfully broken sometimes.

I’ve been wondering if I can take a piece of roving (combed fleece for spinning) and draft it out so it’s thin and fluffy, like unspun yarn, and use that to knit on very big needles. I want to make some charity scarves with glitter this week, and want them to go fast.

Highlights of this weekend:

Seeing Mariss and Kelly, who have moved far far away.

Seeing Jen from work running in the marathon. Yay! Michelle, John and I were so excited to see her that we stayed and clapped for another hour, cheering on strangers. Marathon runners are tough and stubborn. They’re so cool.


Working for 7 hours on sat., and another 4 on Sunday. I knew they turned off the heat in here on the weekends but didn’t know they also turned off the hot water as well. I kept going to the bathroom to run the hot water over my freezing cold and sore hands, but it never got hot! Brrr. At least this justifies all of the expensive tea from that I bought. Warm tea = warm hands.

The chicken at the new tacquerita around the corner from me. I will eat just about anything, even chicken backs with those nasty black neck bones when we were poor, but this chicken was, to quote Michelle, “gacky.�

What it is exactly that I do for 40+ hours a week.

Work. I am an environmental engineer. There are a few kinds of environmental engineers. There are the waste water/waste management environmental engineers. They make our water safe to drink, and our poop stinkless. That’s not the kind I am. I work with hazardous waste. Not with my own two hands, though I’m certified by OSHA and the federal government to do that if I need to, but from several hundred miles away.

I work on a nasty hazardous waste site. I’ll call it Lake Nasty. We’re busy quantifying the wastes, and figuring out how it affects people and animals. Next, we’ll figure out how to clean it up. It’s an interesting project – one I could build a career from if I wanted to.

It’s hard for me to explain exactly what I do and why I am working so hard lately. Maybe this will help: I am involved in rewriting a 7-volume report. Each volume is 4 inches thick. I have to look at every table. Every figure. Reformat everything before it goes out. I don’t spend lots of time on the science, but I am still coordinating some of the work. These reports are due at the end of the year, but there’s a big (and nasty) internal review process that requires us to finish the report completely three times. The reports are so big and involved, and so open for dispute, because the site is several square miles big, and there are at least three different kinds of toxic chemicals which have been historically disposed of onsite (and not in nice easy to manage barrels, either) over the last 100 years. Plus, we’re working on a court-ordered deadline, so we can’t even beg off for exhaustion, computer problems, lack of data, or insanity.

So I’m working really hard. I’m a consultant, so it’s kind of the way things are to make the junior level people do all kinds of huge work because they’re cheap. It’s kind of common to have a couple of well paid PhDs doing the thinking, and for each PhD to have a couple of lower level scientists or engineers at their beck-and-call to make tables and figures to help well paid PhD understand the data quickly, and to write the text for them to check.

Yep – I’m a peon. For 40+ hours a week. Time to go back to grad school, so I’ll be a well paid and glamorous PhD!

New things for Karina Jean.

I’ve been working on my webpage!

Originally, and this might be the dorkiest way to end up with a webpage ever, but Originally, I had a mailing address. I loved that address. Before Originally, I had a chickmail address, and I loved that one too. But then chickmail went defunct. I searched so hard for a cool, fun, funky web-based email address. I did NOT want yah0o mail or h0tmail, because they are terrible spaminators, and I wanted a less common name. When I found I thought it was a perfect match, because I love outer space. We had nearly two glorious years together, and then my Space mail went defunct too.

I was so upset! Frustrated! Angry! So I thought maybe I should buy my domain, because I had heard one could get cool webbased email, like I was looking for, and hey, maybe I DID want a webpage.

I didn’t know if I should actually purchase anything because I don’t have a computer at home. What I do have is a visor handspring edge, with a stowaway keyboard, and a desk job as an engineer with a handy computer. I thought it would be silly to have a webpage and no computer at home! But, I also thought, what if someone else took They’ve already taken my nickname and my last name and my first name… so I took the plunge. I bought the domain.

Now, some kind of general explanations in case there are any questions. I don’t know html, and my cheapy hosting doesn’t include any bells and whistles so I’d have to hard-code everything. Therefore, I’m making these pages using word. Yeah, yeah, I know, word sucks, it’s clumsy, and my source looks nasty. But until I get a computer at home, I don’t think I’ll be able to spend any time learning html.

I don’t really know what to write in this area – I just want to get writing. I don’t write much at all anymore. I used to keep a multi-volume journal, called my cooter. But that was when I could write and write and write in class and it looked like I was taking notes. Those days are over. I don’t take notes any more. Not in class, anyway. It’s all a big experiment! And it is the interweb, so I know that nothing is private and there is the possibility this page will float around in the great google cache memory for ever and ever.