Saturday, May 31, 2008

Taste of India: "That Turd Thing Was Nasty"

Location: Taste of India, 2621 Connecticut Avenue NW, DC.

Cost: $38.71 before tip (this included drinks, entrees, naan, dessert, and tax).

Rating: Don't go. Ever.

I took my sister to Taste of India tonight, the middle restaurant in a trio of Indian lunch buffet/dinner places directly across from the Woodley Park Zoo/Adams Morgan metro stop. As the three restaurants all looked pretty identical, and all had the same amount of people crowded into their outdoor patios, my sister asked why I had chosen this one over the two others.

"I looked at the menus," I told her, "and this one was the cheapest."

I ordered baingan bartha,and my sister had the chicken biryani.

The biryani wasn't at all spicy or particularly pungent (which my sister appreciated -- she doesn't like heavily spiced foods), and tasted mostly of cashew. The baingan bartha had about twice as much onion and garlic as it did eggplant, and tasted mostly of cilantro.

I also ordered gulab jamuns for dessert, which my sister had never seen or tasted. When she saw them -- that is, it, as the entire palm-sized dish was filled with one enormous, lumpy gulab jamun -- she said "I'm not tasting that until after you do."

I tried to explain. "It's not supposed to look like a --"

"Shh!" She stopped me. "Don't say that word in the restaurant."

I tasted it.

"You don't have to eat this," I told her. "In fact, I'd rather you didn't."

But she tried a bite, and then another one. And then she stopped. And then we left.

As soon as we were out of hearing range, she gave her verdict:

"That turd thing was nasty."

It took just about a half-hour for me to become sick, and then five minutes for me to become sick again. Hooray!

I guess cheapest doesn't always mean best, or even good. In this case, cheapest meant indigestible.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Can My One-Room Apartment Have Its One Room Be A Kitchen?

I'm in my sister's apartment in DC, applying for jobs.

She's got a studio, which is actually a pretty nice place; hardwood floors, etc.

Except for the kitchen.

The primary problem with my sister's kitchen is that the refrigerator blocks access to the cupboards and countertops. Seriously. The kitchen has a single wall of cupboards above/below a counter, but someone had the good sense to put the refrigerator right in front of them.

The secondary problem with my sister's kitchen is that it's too small for anything but the refrigerator. The sink is tiny (and has only a single drain), making dishwashing torturous and time-consuming. Not to mention that every dish has to be hand-dried immediately after washing (see "no counter space, above," otherwise I'd be out buying a wooden drying rack immediately).

I've cooked every night I've been here; Madhur Jaffrey's "cheese vali gobi" the first night, yellow bell pepper pizza the second, and tonight, inspired by House ep. 2:15 --

HOUSE: What's that smell?

WILSON: Stuffed bell pepper.

HOUSE: What are they stuffed with, vomit?

I made stuffed tomatoes with farfalle, peas, ginger, pesto, fresh garlic, and parmesan.

So clearly I'm surviving.

But it's made me decide that the most important factor in my future apartment or group house will definitely be the kitchen. I don't care about a crappy showerhead or a window that looks out over a back alley. Give me countertops, and places for storage, and a sink with two halves so that I can wash and rinse. Give me a kitchen large enough that I can actually prep in the kitchen, instead of using a table in my sister's bedroom.

Before that, of course, give me a job. ^__^ But once that's in place... well, we will see what kind of kitchen I can find.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Don't Use BWI SuperShuttle

Flew from St. Louis to Baltimore yesterday.

The flight was delayed for five hours because the incoming plane was stuck in tornado-heavy Dallas.

So the timeline looked a little something like this:

Drive to airport: 2 hours
Wait in airport: 7 hours
Flight to Baltimore: 2 hours
Take SuperShuttle from Baltimore to DC: nearly 2.5 hours.

The last leg of the trip, the SuperShuttle leg, was just... priceless. We all crammed into the shuttle and then waited for about 25 minutes as the driver painstakingly typed all of our destination addresses into his GPS. He was a very bad typist. Hunt-and-peck. He would type an entire address, and then the system would say "this address is unavailable," and then he'd have to go back and type it again. He also kept telling a passenger that he had never heard of Chevy Chase, MD, and that she must live in Bethesda.

Once the drive got going, it was a little like being on Mr. Toad's Wild Ride. Although the GPS told our driver where to turn, etc., he kept missing the turns and then having to circle around to find them. He also drove through stop signs and stoplights, which was more than a bit unnerving. Oh, and he spent huge chunks of the ride talking to his buddy on his cell phone.

Considering that it was nearly 4 a.m. by the time I reached my sister's apartment, I left the shuttle definitely wishing I had taken a taxi instead.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Fly Me To The Moon....

Today is another travel day, and with any luck I should be safely tucked away in my sister's apartment by midnight.

I don't have room for everything in my suitcase, so I am packing three books: my yoga manual (I've been told I should be ashamed to say it's the Richard Hittleman one), The Newcomer's Guide To Washington, DC, and one other.

If you can guess what the third book I'm taking to DC is, I'll tell you. ^__^

(Hint: is fiction.)

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Nasal Spray Is Evil

I've had a stuffy nose for the past week or so.

When I stopped off to visit a friend on the tail end of the Nashville trip, she gave me some decongestants -- Benadryl, and something else in the morning when I didn't need to be drowsy.

They both worked okay, but not great. I was still sniffling and still generally uncomfortable.

So that evening I went to the grocery store to grab some NyQuil, because I knew that would at least knock me out well enough to sleep.

That's when I saw the nasal spray. It was the right price ($1.59) and it had the advantage of containing neither sleep aids nor caffeine. The NyQuil/DayQuil combo pack, by comparison, was almost eight dollars. So... I chose the nasal spray.

I had never used nasal spray before, and I had no idea what to expect. I did notice that the bottle gave a very clear warning not to use the product for more than three days. But what if your cold lasts for more than three days? I thought. Most colds last almost a week!

Well, I shot the stuff up my nose and was rewarded with instantly clear sinuses. Brilliant. This stuff worked better than salsa and hot soup combined. No drips, no stuffiness, no nothing.

The next day it wore off, so I sprayed again... and etc. etc. until there I was at the end of the third day, nose stuffed so hard I could only breathe through my mouth, staring at the warning label on the bottle.

Do not use for more than three days.

Well. I googled "nasal spray dangers" and found out that, as I had suspected, the nasal spray itself doesn't cure you. It just... stops the snot for a little while. All the snot that wasn't dripping from my nose for the past three days is still there, ready and impacted and trying to find a way out.

Using the nasal spray for more than three days won't necessarily harm you, but it's not the smartest thing to put into your body. Mine contains oxymetazoline hydrochloride, which... well, Wikipedia says it sympathomimetically causes a decrease in interstitial fluid accumulation (via alpha-2 adrenergic receptors), which essentially means... okay, I don't know exactly what it means, but there are plenty of warnings about how a person shouldn't sympathomimetically aggravate their alpha-2 adrenergic receptors too often, or the nose lining will get irritated and start to break down. Not to mention all of that impacted snot still sitting around, dreaming of Kleenex Heaven.

Unfortunately, because of its effectiveness, nasal spray is also incredibly addictive, as I found out at about 1:30 a.m. when I squirted the stuff into my nose just so I could sleep, rationalizing it with "well, the internet says it won't kill me... I can go off the spray in the morning."

Now I'm sitting here, nose-constipated and miserable. I wonder if stuffing a raisin up there would help.

Friday, May 23, 2008

CafePress FTW!

A few weeks ago, I received a t-shirt from Threadless as a present.

I also bought four t-shirts from J. C. Penney.

And then I went and got a single t-shirt from CafePress.

The Threadless shirt lasted two washes before it started looking dismal and worn. The J. C. Penney shirts shrank in the washing machine, which is strange, because I didn't dry them.

And the CafePress shirt looks exactly like it did when I bought it. It's sturdy, durable, and doesn't wreck itself in the washing machine.

I think I need to buy all my novelty t-shirts from CafePress from now on. ^__^

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Size 4 Is Not Fat... Yet

Let's get the nitty-gritty stuff on the table right away.

I stand 5'2" and three-quarters inches.

I weigh anywhere between 114 and 118 lbs, depending on what day of the month it is.

I am, very clearly, not fat.

Still, I'm not exactly skinny. There is stuff covering my bones. Some of it is muscle, and some of it is squishy. All of it contributes to my having enough curves to not be able to fit into a standard pair of pants. (Then again, does anyone fit into a standard pair of pants?)

And yesterday a friend told me that this next year would be the one that determined whether I would become a fat person or a thin person... for the rest of my life.

To wit: I'm on the other side of 25 and my metabolism's slowing down. I'll be starting an office job which will probably involve more sitting. I may get caught in the trap of eating lunches and dinners out. The odds are stacked so that I might put on a little weight.

"But if you let yourself start to gain weight," my friend said, "it'll never go away, and it'll never stop."

How to prevent creeping obesity? Apparently, with a triathlon of intercultural effort: a little Ashtanga from the Indians (Maya, the video you sent rocks); Hello Kitty-shaped portion control from the Japanese; and from the Americans, ritual-obsessive gym attendance.

Hmmm. The first two sound entirely doable. (And I would totally be the cube chick with the kyaraben.)

But gym? Every day? For the rest of my life???? Even with the thought of plugging into a video iPod and mastering stairs to the soothing blue eyes and tortured voice of Mr. Laurie, gym just sounds miserable.

On the other hand, I've heard they've improved gym since I went to high school, and I might be able to buy some cute workout clothes.

And I suppose if this is "the year," I might as well get to it.

So... woo-hoo! (Right?)

This Had Better Be A Really Subtle, Subtle Homage to Jhumpa Lahiri

"Did you ever wonder how an Indian guy ended up with the name Kutner?"

Nope. I guess I just assumed that in twenty-first-century America, a television character like Lawrence Kutner might have, say, biracial ancestry.

Oh, but the writers on staff at House had to give us something much, much more tragic and... well, just plain odd:

Indian Baby X lived with his happy parents who both worked at -- you guessed it -- a convenience store. One day, when Baby X was six years old, the store got robbed and both parents were shot.

Then Baby X gets adopted by a new family who change his name to Lawrence Kutner. (The episode didn't give away what Baby X's birth name was.)

That's the weird part. Who adopts a six-year-old and changes his name? Especially the first name? Don't adoption agencies screen for that kind of thing?

I know that the reason they had to create a backstory was because they were doing "openrace casting" and decided that Kal Penn would be the best actor for a character without a distinctively desi name. But seriously, people. How hard would it have been to make Kutner's backstory more like, say, Obama's? In that case, they could have played it as follows:

"What do you mean you wanna know how an Indian guy ended up with the name Kutner? It's 'cause my dad's name is Steve Kutner. Now lay the f*@k off!"

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

When You Hear The Whistle Blowin' Eight To The Bar...

Just spent the past week roadtripping to Nashville an' back. As Lawrence Welk puts it, "Here are some highlights..."

* Booking a "three-star hotel" via Hotwire which turned out to be a Holiday Inn barely an inch from Kentucky's largest interstate. While my travel buddy bemoans the plastic chintz and dismal location, I am tickled pink. After all, when I was growing up, my family only stopped at Holiday Inns on special occasions.

* Seeing Sondheim's Assassins in a deliberately quaint Nashville suburb, home to the likes of Keith Urban and Nicole Kidman. (Apparently they spend every morning sipping coffee at the local Starbucks. We briefly considered celeb-stalking, but decided that would be too dorky and potentially embarrassing.) Assassins was tolerable, but uninspired. Note to theatre companies everywhere: I have never seen a performance which has been improved by projections.

* Wandering through a store that only sold cowboy boots and learning about all the wonderful creatures that we can turn into leather.

* Perusing the superstar biographies at the Country Music Hall of Fame and noticing that nearly every one of them ended with "and then Famous Star became addicted to drugs/alcohol/gambling and lost his wife, his truck, his dog, and his recording contract all in the same week." (Hank Williams, I'm thinking of you.)

* Following the advice of our hotelier and eating at B. B. King's B. B. Q. in downtown Nashville. Undoubtedly the worst experience of the trip (including the highway Holiday Inn). We went in expecting authenticity and got tourist crap; a Rainforest Cafe or Planet Hollywood-style place with a blues theme. A singer pretended he was Louis Armstrong (why not B. B.?) and we ate what appeared to be soul food for the soulless. Do not recommend.

* We did, however, have two great meals, both at unexpected places; one at a local farmer's market, and one at a restaurant so new it was the first day of its "soft opening" and we got to test-drive the sweet potato pancakes. We found the latter only as a result of getting lost; but there it was, fortuitously unexpected and delightful.

* Listening, on the long stretches of highway, to Meg Cabot's Size 14 Is Not Fat Either, which we checked out of the library on the theory that chick-lit would make for good entertainment. Instead we got stuck with an audiobook that was half-mystery, half-food pr0n. Heather Wells, size 14 amateur detective, runs around trying to solve crimes while pausing to do things like down nine pieces of fried chicken in a single sitting. Somewhere there are women saying "Heather's just like me!" but... nine pieces????

* Making a return-drive detour to visit a friend and turning what should have been a two-hour drive into a five-hour drive, thanks to a combination of road construction and getting stuck on the Dan Ryan expressway during rush hour. When I reach my friend's house, we nix going out to see the new Prince Caspian movie because it's 2.5 hours long and we are both too tired to stay up that late. So what do we do? Watch the old-school BBC Prince Caspian/Voyage of the Dawn Treader movie... which is 3 hours long. We're awake until 2 a.m.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Road Trip!

Before I move and start "real life," I'm going on a road trip. (I suppose that should be considered "fake life.")

Posting may be nonexistent for the next few days. ^__^

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

ConGRADulations! (Watch out for the mushrooms of death!)

Getting a terminal degree is kinda like playing Super Mario Bros (the First).

You have to jump over things and hide from things and evade things, and the end boss is a rehash of every level you've played up to that point (including the water level -- I always hated the water levels).

And then when you're done, you're all "Yay! I beat a really long game during an era where game cartridges didn't have save states!" and you wait for your reward... but all you get is one screenshot of Mario and the Princess and then BAM! You're back again at level 1.1, with no coins or power-ups, only this time there are twice as many enemies and some question blocks pop out mushrooms of death.


Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Vegetables! (I mean... Mother's Day!)

Scott Adams (the Dilbert guy) writes that he believes humankind was meant to be vegetarian because we salivate when we look at fruits and vegetables, not when we look at pigs and cows. (He's talking about the live form of the animal, not the bacon form.)

Now, I'm sure there are some people out there who see a nice grazing bovine animal and begin producing anticipatory drool, but for the rest of us, well...

That's why this particular Mother's Day card was so deliciously food pr0n-y. (The link doesn't go to the card itself; you'll have to click on the one that says "Happy Mother's Day, Mom!" But be forewarned. It's Hoops and Yoyo, which means it's going to be loud.)

Saturday, May 10, 2008

After Seeing the Golden Compass Movie...

Two responses.

1. That movie wasn't... um... very good.


Wasn't that the most beautiful airship you've ever seen?

(Previous Philip Pullman posts: Golden Compass, Subtle Knife, Amber Spyglass, and Lyra's Oxford.)

Friday, May 9, 2008

New Blue!

I promised y'all one of the new pictures after I got them back.

Here you go!

Does it look like me?

Everyone Who Majors In Theatre Is Gambling

Last night I gave a post-show lecture/talkback with the members of a local continuing education class. They had seen my play, and had nothing but lovely things to say about it, except for one woman.

She asked me why I cast a particular actress, a young woman who is... um... not skinny. She told me that was just getting the poor girl's hopes up, and that "students like that should know there is no future for them in the theatre and they should be smart enough to choose a different major!"

Well! I told her that there were roles in the theatre for all body types, and yes, theatres are sometimes less willing to cast heavier actresses, but that we shouldn't dismiss this particular student outright. Let her learn and take her chance like everyone else.

"After all," I said, "they only cast 1% of the skinny actresses, too."

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Why'd I Take The Comps Questions/Answers Off The Blog?

A day ago I was posting the comps questions I'd been working on, as well as the answers I was writing. (At my university, instead of giving you a few questions and then locking you into a room for 6 hours to answer them, we get a few questions and then we get to go home and write on them for a week.)

I took them off because some people (none from my university, thank goodness) suggested it might be cheating.

Arguably, it's not like the comps questions are the same ones every year, and my posting mine spills the beans; they're tailored to each individual graduating student and I had known, in the past, the questions previous-year students had received. (We all talk.)

But I could see how someone might consider my asking internet friends what they thought of a particular idea as "cheating," although I would consider it "primary source research." (Had any of y'all made a comment or left an idea I wanted to use, I would have cited you. Am anal that way.)

Anyway, that's why the questions went down, and why you probably won't see another post from me for a few days.

Catch you later!

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Not At All Like Alanis Morissette's "Unsent," But Wasn't That Song Cool?

When I finished working my temp job over winter break, I promised my co-workers that I would get them all comp tickets for my play. They all said "Great! We'd love to come!"

A few weeks before the play, I sent out a (small) stack of invitations, listing the time and date and asking them to please call or email if they wanted (free) tickets for a particular night.

No one called.

No one emailed.

I felt a little crushed.

Until... I was going through some papers and cleaning out my desk and I found the entire stack of invitations, all addressed, all stamped, none of them actually sent.


Thursday, May 1, 2008

I Stopped Being "Forever 21" A Long Time Ago

I have a conundrum.

1. Thanks to all the yoga and inserted calisthenics (sit-ups, etc.), I'm finally toned up enough that I might be able to pull off a pair of really short shorts and a crop top.

2. I have a nagging fear that, since hitting the other side of 25, I am now too old to pull off a pair of really short shorts and a crop top.

What to do?

If There Aren't Pictures Of Me On The Internet, Do I Exist?

Today we had photo call for the play (the official, university-photographer photos, instead of the unofficial photos I've been posting on this blog).

At the end I insisted we take a cast-and-crew group shot... for one very selfish reason.

I haven't been photographed since December 2007.

I lost my digital camera in Delhi; I bought a cheap disposable for Amritsar, but since then have had nothing that could be posted on the blog or on Facebook.

As everyone else updates their profiles, I'm still using an avatar shot that is *gasp* over a year old. I'm not sure I even look like that anymore.

Anyway, when the new pic is up, I'll post it. Then we can all see how much I've aged since I took the shot in the red dress. I'm sure that will be... illuminating.