Tuesday, September 30, 2003


The sprawling behemoth Ballys that's not too far from Sean and I's humble abode has been bought out. There's a new gym in town, it appears. "Work Out World" has papered the community ticker-tape parade style with leaflets advertising their bargain starter dues for the first 200, 500, 1000 new enrollees.

Now, if you live in the Boston area, you're well aware that a "bargain" gym charges a bare minimum of $60 a month, and that's for the one with a single Popeye-style dumbbell and a neglected 1984 Exercycle. So, this new place advertising memberships for a mere fraction of that and touting rows and rows of brand-spankin' new equipment caught our eye. We decided to check it out last night, and set out with full intention of joining the gym.

After missing what seemed to be the turn for the parking lot, we made the next turn and parked on the roof of an office building. We could just take the stairwell down to the gym, right?
"Hel-LO!!!" an impossibly peppy male voice greeted us. "Are you guys looking for Work Out World?!?"

He was clad in a purple golf shirt and shorts and was speeding toward us as though his life depended on it., one hand extended in a plea for a handshake. After being assured that yes, we were indeed in search of Work Out World, he led us inside. Not inside the gym, but inside a little office trailer--the kind you'd find at a junkyard or tow lot. Inside, other peppy purple people roamed about, waving paperwork amidst flashing gleams of white teeth. A TV played a neverending stream of public access cable-style commercials for other Work Out World centers.

Derek (Was that his name, hon? Derek?) rolled some cheap chairs over, invited us to have a seat, and began his spiel. I could not help but notice that Derek had clearly missed his calling as a game show host from the year 1985 (the year after the aforementioned Exercycle was produced, no less). He had this sharp, ratlike presence and oversprayed Joe Isuzu hair. I kept envisioning him furtively nibbling on a square of cheese and was unable to stop giggling.

Derek used his little rat hands to gesture at pictures on the wall of the equipment we would be able to see, and use, in the future. When they actually moved into the gym. "See--we have over 80 of 'X' model butt-buster!" he exclaimed proudly.

"Wow." Sean replied dutifully, feigning interest in the pictures of equipment.

At this, Derek let out a whoop. A genuine whoop. "Now you've earned a t-shirt!!!" he congratulated, tossing a Fruit of the Loom with a very pretty turquoise and purple "WOW" logo at Sean. "When we 'wow' YOU" (he looked pointedly at me), "YOU'LL get a t-shirt, too!!!"

At this point, I made it my mission to NOT say "wow". Ever. Under any circumstance. God, Jesus, Buddha, and Jimi Hendrix could have walked into the place together and I would have remained sternly nonplussed.

Derek went on. And on. And on. Giving us the hard sell. I wanted desperately to interrupt him and blurt out "We want to join the gym!", like Chandler in that episode of 'Friends'. Except he was trying to quit the gym. And we wanted to join. But I digress. My point is that he was wasting his cute little jokes on people who already wanted to be sold. There was no need to mention how they limited their "dumbbells" to 90 pounds, to "Keep out the other dumbbells!" (snort!) Please. Please. For the love of god, stop writing your fancy figures on the paper and telling us how much we're saving. We want to join the gym. Just give us your bottom line.

Sean finally asked, upon receiving the "bottom line", if the price was good for tomorrow, too; to give us a chance to think it over. Of course, complicated questions like this require the input of the sales manager, who was called in for his opinion.
"Yeah, I'm sure it'll be good tomorrow. I doubt we'll have that many people join between now and then...but..."
At this, Greasy Sales Manager Guy produced an application from his high-tech manila file. "This couple changed their minds for some reason. He's leaving or something. If you want, you can take their place and get the $89 initiation fee instead."

So, finally, the damn bottom bottom line. Of course. We'll take it. I'm sure the "other couple" will be very happy wherever they are "moving" to. We signed up, although the actual gym won't exist till November.

Greasy Sales Manager Guy even insisted that I get a t-shirt. Lucky me.

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

Happy Birthday!

To Forrest! Hip, hip, hooray!!! Hip, hip, hooray!!!

Send him some birthday porn if you get a chance! I hear he enjoys the naked folk.

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

True Story

The situations I put myself in at times are amusing, to say the least.

Now, I've never been accused of being a stodgy, stonefaced professional at work. But I'd like to think I keep up a certain decorum between the hours of 7 and 5. But last week, my friend Dan was playing his radio and, since I could hear it from my cubicle, I couldn't resist sending him a line from the song (which also happened to be its title).

No big deal, right?

Except the song was Prodigy's Smack my Bitch Up. And except I accidentally gave his last name an "O'" instead of a "Mac". And it went through. Oops.

Can you even imagine? You open up your inbox and find an email reading: "Smack my bitch up!". Along with my professional contact info tagline, of course.

I can be such an ass. But it's really funny when I am. In retrospect, at least.

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

Well, I Still Have the Shirt...

The phone jangled insistently Sunday afternoon, just daring me to ignore it. I picked it up on the last ring before it clicked over to the machine.

"Hi!" Brandy, the BFSB (that's "Best Friend Since Birth) greeted. "What are you up to?"

"Well," I began, "I'm fixing dinner and Sean's watching football. Pork chops. With tomatillo and lime marinade. And rice pilaf."

Brandy laughed her hearty, infectious laugh. "Do you realize how much you've changed!?! I used to call you and ask that, and you'd say 'Oh, I was just putting on my mesh shirt and getting ready to go to this new bar...'; and now you're making dinner while your boyfriend watches football!!!"

Hmm. She's right. And although that's not necessarily a bad thing, I must say that I'm contemplating wearing the mesh shirt more.

At least, while I'm cooking dinner...

Friday, September 12, 2003

Sean's Meat is More Than I Can Handle

I would like to point out, before I begin writing the actual content of this blog, that I have achieved Best Girlfriend Ever status simply by titling it thus.
We now return you to your regularly-scheduled blog reading.

There is a reason that my mother rarely sent my father to the grocery store to pick up a few things she needed. Or my aunt sent my uncle. Or my grandmother sent my grandfather. Or Lucy sent Desi. Or countless other couples, for generations and generations back as far as the eye can see. This reason became apparent to me the other night.

I had given Sean a quick list of things to pick up at the nearest Shaw's grocer before heading home for the night. A simple list, really. Salad, a tomato or two, salad dressing, some boneless pork chops that I thought would be good with honey, lime, and cilantro.

When I got home, I was inwardly happy with his efforts. See, I thought to myself, he did a great job! He even got the on-the-vine tomatoes that I like! There even appeared to be some sort of pork roast in the fridge. I didn't really pay too much attention, though, because Sean was coming in to help make dinner.

"Honey!" he exclaimed excitedly. "Did you see what I got?"

He began pulling the pork roast out of the fridge. And continued doing so for a good 6 minutes. This may be the biggest pork roast ever known in the history of domesticated pigs. What I had glimpsed had been, much like the tip of an iceberg, only the beginning.

The ordeal of refridgerator removal behind him, Sean stood beaming, plastic-encased pork flopped over both sides of his arms, dwarfing his 6-foot-4 frame. Holding it up like some kind of overabundant sacraficial offering, he eagerly awaited my praise. "It was on SALE!" he added.

And so it was. Down from $40.03 to $20.03. Ten pounds of pork roast. Now, I realize that this doesn't sound like too terribly much. We've all seen ten pound turkeys, and they're not so big.

That ten pounds includes bones, skin, and giblets.

This pork roast? Ten pounds of hard-core meat. It's large enough to disturb my old vegetarian sensibilities, too big to fit lengthwise in the refridgerator.

"We can have sandwiches!"

God help me. Save me from the pork.

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

RedPanda's Guide to Grad School

It seems like almost everyone I know who is already bachelor'ed is half-pondering going to grad school. I hear things like "Yeah, I need to go to grad school..", "Yeah, I'm thinking about grad school..." everywhere I turn, it seems. So, for the benefit of the Grad School Uncertain, I unveil....my guide to grad school! Chock full of unsolicited advice! Guaranteed to evoke eye rolls and feelings of exasperation! But, if you follow it, you'll thank me later. Or at least, I'd like to think you will.

1. Wait a couple years after finishing college before embarking on a "grad school career"
Put yourself "out there" first. Even if you have to work at a crappy dead-end job, get some real-life "professional experience" before you make the transition. It will, at the very least, give you an appreciation for student life again.

2. Be DAMN SURE about what you want before you start applying to grad schools
I can't emphasize this enough. Really, I can't. Grad school is NOT like undergrad, where you can take a course and say "Oh, I didn't like that so much. I think I'll switch majors." There is no switching of majors. Grad school is like a speeding freight train, and once you're on, you're on. By the time you realize you got on the wrong train, you're halfway through your program and it's just as easy to go ahead as it is to quit. Furthermore, grad school classes are very, very specialized. A class for a particular degree will not translate into anything for a different one.
So, for the love of God, don't embark on a program you kind of like. Be damn sure that it is what you love; what you really want to do; and that you can do it for the rest of your life.

3. THOROUGHLY investigate the job/career prospects of your chosen program. Call up companies if necessary, check out the want ads. Make sure there will be a job for you when you get out. (HINT: the market is saturated with lawyers, writers, IT professionals; many of whom are un- or under-employed. Many of these people have years of experience and are desperate for a job, any job. Who do you think you're kidding if you're pursuing one of these fields? Don't waste your time. You are not special and will be unemployed and in debt when you're finished with school.)

4. THOROUGHLY investigate the schools you are considering. Leave no stone unturned. Talk to current students, professors, alumni. Don't be afraid of looking like a jerk by asking probing questions. And don't just go by the students the school provides you with to talk to---they're only going to give you the contact info. of the most content individuals. Remember, grad schools are cash cows--they just want you to apply and enroll and typically care very little about your individual needs (you can disregard that last sentence to an extent if you're in an understudied field and do scads of new research...). You mean CASH to them, and they can be very unscrupulous in recruiting you.

5. Don't just choose the school that throws the most money at you. Just because they're willing to pay you, or let you come for free, or pay a good chunk of your tuition (depending on your field); does NOT mean that this is the best school, or program, for you. Choose the one that is best, the one that you would choose if they were all free. You'll find a way to pay for it later.

6. When you choose your program, put everything you've got into it. Unless you are already working in your chosen field and grad school is just a vehicle to propel you upwards at a faster rate, do NOT work while attending grad school. Take out thousands of dollars in loans instead. It'll pay off later, trust me. The exception, of course, is the low-paying or not-paying jobs and internships in your "chosen field". Snatch those up like candy--they'll lead to better jobs later. No complaining that you "need to work...". You don't. You can take out loans. If you simply must work, put off grad school. Working is a mistake. Trust me.

7. Network. Be everyone's best friend. Help your professors out. Kiss ass like crazy. When you have speakers in class, be ready to go up, introduce yourself, and ask intelligent questions when they're finished. Follow up with e-mails. They'll remember you. And you'll have scads of contacts.

8. Don't be discouraged when you get out. One of my undergrad professors who taught a grad school prep class I took over Christmas break said something damn memorable: "What sucks about grad school is that, when you get out, all your friends who didn't go to grad school are making a lot more money than you.". It's true. Don't be discouraged. You'll catch up.

Ok, that's all I got for now. A lot of those items could go for undergrad, too. What I can't stress enough: It's going to be hard. It's going to be expensive. You are not special or different from everyone else (as in, you won't be "the one" who defeats the odds and gets a job in a struggling industry...). But it's worth it.

At least, I freaking hope it is.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to get back to my monotonous data entry job.

Tuesday, September 09, 2003

Bon Anniversaire

Hey--Happy birthday to Well-Red! I've been blogging for an entire year! Can you even believe it? Go me, go me! Of course, if you go back to that first entry, you'll see I was jabbering about class-related stuff more than my own life. What was I thinking?!? I'm far more interesting than any Web Publishing class!

So many anniversaries. One of them is mine and Boston's--I've lived here 2 years now. Wow. Sometimes I feel like I just got here, like I have no idea how to get around, where to go, what to do. But then, every now and again, a tourist asks for directions that I can give quite easily--making me feel like a local. I guess I'm a quasi-local now--I'm no longer in school, and I've got all the trappings of Boston permanence. (i.e. job w/bennies, serious relationship, black wool winter coat, favorite places, general routines...) I can even say most of the cities' and towns' names correctly. (For example, "Billerica" = "Bill-Ricka", not "Bill-air-i-cah", as one would assume.)

So, woohoo for me. Can I get a whoop-whoop?

Monday, September 08, 2003

Half-Asleep Monday

God, how I loathe Mondays. And, unlike most Mondays, this one is just craaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaawling along. Yuck.

I finally, with some gentle prodding and suggestions on Brandy's part, wrote up a kick-ass cover letter this past weekend. The first one is always the hardest. Writing them after this will be a snap! Hear that? A snap! My god, I'll be fighting off wonderful employers! I'll be making them beg for the pleasure of my service! They'll all be trying to outbid each other, and I'll end up making bank!

Or, ya know, maybe I'll get another job that doesn't make me want to bang my head against the desk until I get a concussion and have to leave work quite as much.

Thursday, September 04, 2003

Life in the Suburbs

Sean and I set out on our nightly walk last evening, happy to be able to enjoy a bit of the brisk pre-autumn air. In order to get out there before daylight had completely escaped, we had put dinner off a bit and were contentedly munching fruit to stave off starvation.

It was the perfect temperature out--cool but not too cool. I love those nights--the ones where you can still wear shorts but need long sleeves. I couldn't find one of my own long-sleeved shirts, though; so I had happily grabbed one of Sean's and thrown it on over my tee.

We were about a block away from the house when I looked at Sean and stopped short. "Oh. My. God."

Sean shot me a look of confusion. "What? What's up?"

"Look at us. Just look at us," I gestured at our respective outfits.

Sean did, realization slowly dawning on him. "Oh, GOD," he snorted.

You see, we had somehow managed to each put on the same outfit, more or less. Navy blue meshy shorts with stripes down the side. White ankle socks. New Balance shoes. Pinky-purply-reddish shirts. And as if that weren't enough, we were both eating the fruit, too. Gah. It was terrible, really. Much too J. Crew for words.

Shrugging his shoulders, Sean resumed walking. "Welcome to the suburbs, honey," he laughed.

Wednesday, September 03, 2003

Where Am I, Again?

Morning is always an exercise in futility of sorts. No matter how many times you hit the "snooze" button, time does not magically go backwards till it's 2 am and you're allowed 3 more hours of sleep. At least, it hasn't yet that I know of.
I tend to bond with the snooze button for a good 20 minutes or more before I finally give up and trudge off toward the shower, my feet heavy with sleep, my face glowering at the indignity of being forced to see itself at that ungodly hour.

This morning, though; I had the unusal experience of completely forgetting what was going on. I stood there, damp hair flung between my knees so I could towel-dry it, and tried to remember what I was supposed to do next. Blame it on Faith No More's "Epic". It was playing on WBCN, on the shower radio. I was suddenly overcome with the feeling that I was still a senior in high school and had to rush off to live that life. For a few fleeting moments, I was completely convinced of this.

Gak--how horrifying! I leaned against the sink for support, and looked around the bathroom for clues that I was making that part up. Hmm. Lots of high-priced hair products. I can't really afford them now, so I probably definitely couldn't afford them if I was still in high school, right? The cat's litter box is in there. I didn't have a cat in high school, did I?

I wasn't really sure about any of it, till I finally made my way back to the bedroom and prodded at the lump that was a sleeping Sean. He stretched and rolled over, reclaiming the covers I always manage to steal, and gave me a tired half-smile before going back to sleep.

For a moment, I thought of waking him up all the way and begging him for reassurance that I wasn't a senior in high school, that I hadn't imagined all the hills and valleys of our life together, that it wasn't going to disappear when I "woke up". But then, I figured I didn't have to.

There was no way in HELL my mom would have let a boy stay over. Especially on a school night.

Tuesday, September 02, 2003

Requiem for a Blog

Sean took down his blog.

You probably already knew that. Hell, if you're like me, you use his site as a conveniant jumping-off point and click on all your daily reads from there. (You can still do that, BTW--very considerate of him to leave in that functionality...)

It's been long in coming, I suppose. He's been threatening this for weeks, but (partly due to my protests?)still left it up with his occasional, albeit sparse, posts.

I didn't even know about it till after the fact. "I took down my blog today,", he said matter-of-factly as I crunched carrots, "it was time."

Was it time?

I don't know. I do know that I miss it already. The explanations for its demise all check out. I understand them. I still don't like them. And knowing that I'll be passing him the toothpaste later on doesn't change the fact that I feel a little stab of loneliness when I see the stark emptiness that is "Disserto".

So, goodbye, honey. I'll miss you.

But then, I'll see you tonight...