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Blogging is Back!

Many apologies to everyone for the total lack of blog posts in... well, forever. Now that I no longer work somewhere that takes up my every waking moment, and have developed interests beyond the education of those with disabilities, I have information that a very, very few of you might find interesting (whereas for a while there, no one would have been able to get through it--you should thank me for not writing, really). So, to start things off, you can find pictures from my recent vacation in Europe here . More to follow.

The Private Life


Originally written April 7, 2005.

With all the effort at being a responsible adult lately, I had been feeling fairly yuppie-ish, and then today I caught myself comparing my life to Odysseus's. Perhaps I haven't strayed as far as I thought. Two similar legends about Odysseus hold a recurring place in my thoughts. One is the famous story of when Helen's suitors came to take him to the Trojan war, he feigned madness to stay with his family. They set his son in front of the plow he was pulling, and when he stopped short, they proved he was sane and took him to the war that kept him for twenty years. The other story is from the Republic, and describes the process souls go through to choose their next lives. Odysseus drew the lot to pick last, and remembering the misery love of fame had caused him, he sorted through the remaining lives looking for a private life, one of a man who does his own work, and finally found one lying in a corner, overlooked by all the others. "He chose it gladly and said that he'd have made the same choice even if he'd been first" (G.M.A. Grube translation 620c).

Today I decided that it is time to settle down. I'm tired of this school business, and working in a job below my qualifications, for a company that profits off my expertise. I'm tired of living somewhere I plan to leave in the near future. For the first time in perhaps my whole life, I am seeking permanence. So I'll begin with a change, but the first in a string that will hopefully be the last for a while.

I didn’t do anything to deserve it. It’s the most absurd stroke of good luck I have yet received. As it turns out, there were four offers (including mine) that were all very close—within what I imagine to be about fifty thousand dollars of each other. Instead of countering, the sellers read the letter I submitted with my offer and decided I was the person they wanted to sell to. It’s so incredible. I think what persuaded them was the fact that I teach kids how to read and they have a daughter with a learning disability. So being a do-gooder does pay after all.

The house is gorgeous. It’s a top-floor flat with everything we could want.

It has three bedrooms, though one is small.

It’s on a beautiful street with storybook views of other Victorians.

It has a fireplace...

a glassed-in China cabinet...

(in the dining room with box-beamed ceilings)

and a remodeled kitchen...


Oh, and we get a back yard!

There's lots of other neat stuff I don't have pictures of, like a glassed in area in the garden, big storage rooms downstairs, and the porch sitting area.

Proposed move-in day: October 1st.


House-hunting, in my experience is a great deal like dating. The first weekend, you're like a twelve-year-old at a Leonardo DiCaprio movie. As you walk out of the theater, you imagine yourself bumping into a three-bedroom luxury condo who desperately needs directions to the same place you happen to be going. You fantasize about his walk-in closets, integrated stereo system, and a lifetime of jacuzzi baths. But by the time you get out of the parking lot, it's dawned on you that you will never get to meet Leo, let alone marry him. You resolve to be more practical next time. Then you go to Junior High and develop an enormous crush on the most popular boy in school. He has a recently renovated kitchen and huge bay windows, but when he ditches you at the local Taco Bell to ollie with his friends, you realize he lacks sufficient storage space and has a tiny backyard. You resolve to be more practical next time. After college, you decide to go out with a nice guy. Eventually you find one who has some cosmetic damage and an antiquated floor plan, but with care and attention you can fix those, and you're in love with his Southern exposure. You make an offer, he accepts, and you start planning your life together. But sometime during escrow, you discover he's an aspiring musician who quit his job so you could support him. You call off the engagement, heartbroken, wondering if there really is such a thing as a man who can commit. You resolve to be more practical next time. In theory, someday a tall, dark, and handsome professional with boyish charm comes along and sweeps you off your feet. But practically speaking, that never happens. After awhile your biological clock starts to tick and you settle for the best available option under the circumstances. You're not sure how long you'll stick with him and you're already eying a number of costly upgrades. You set up a one-sided pre-nup so you can get all your money back out and take the kids when you run off with his handsome older brother. And all along you're asking yourself how much you're willing to pay to steal him from the other house-hunting tarts.

Newsflash: I am snuggly.

Tonight I went to a party in the Castro with one of my co-workers. There was a girl there of seven, who was looking for someone to play with, and we, being professionals, took it upon ourselves to entertain her. My friend tickled her out of the hickups and I taught her about mistletoe actually being a parasite, despite its romantic Christmas traditions. She put her arm around me and started rubbing my shoulder. When she got sleepy, she fell asleep on me. Earlier this week a six-year-old wrapped herself around my leg and laid her head against my stomach. Some of this just comes from being around little kids, who are themselves snuggly, but I think it's significant that I am the snuggliest of the adults they know. So there it is, kids find me snuggly, boys--not so much.



As I have said before, I don't believe in blogs as online journals (a bias documented throughout the annals of this blog)--I started this when I couldn't email a professor my paper and have tried to keep from boring you with quotidian details--but maybe there are people out there who wonder what it's like to be 25-year-old (hyperlexic) urban woman (as my roommate seems to). For them, I post this:

We, here at Katabasis recently embarked on a new plan for self-improvement. We're facing the downward slope toward 26 and our early twenties are squarely behind us. It's time to grow up. So, we have gotten a job in line with our chosen career, gone back to school, done a triathlon, lost five pounds, and purchased several stylish articles of clothing (not to mention adopted the royal 'we'). We have also launched an all-out offensive to move past the junior-high-ish stammering mode of interacting with boys (who will henceforth be called men). All of this has involved very few blog posts and a staggering increase in boredom. Up until recently, I hadn't noticed that the two might possibly be correlated, but now it seems rather intuitive. Bumming around South America, doing triathlons, partying with grad students trying to reclaim their college days--none of these things are actually fun. Performing sock puppet musicals, watching WB shows and squealing when people kiss, snickering through Hillary Duff movies--these are fun, and they don't comprise a large enough piece of my life pie anymore. Instead, I stress about my next review, the project for school, and whether or not my investments are bearing sufficient interest. When people ask me how it's going, I try to mitigate their imminent misery by keeping to 'fine.' Most would say it's just the going to school while working full time thing that's not fine. But here at Katabasis, our crack team of researchers has made a thorough investigation of the matter and come to the following conclusion: success is slowly sucking away our soul.

Take for instance this past weekend: it involved clothes shopping, a party, dinner and a night at the club with the girls, a limo ride to Palo Alto, a professional conference, and an art show opening. It looks great on paper, exactly what life is supposed to be for an attractive 20-something, single, urban woman. But it was more work than fun. Clothes shopping involved trying on at least twelve pairs of jeans with "whiskering" (those faded stripes at the hips) and varying amounts of spandex before deciding that one was at least acceptable (though will likely no longer fit if I lose the other five pounds I've been meaning to). I then went to Victoria�s Secret to find a bra that would work with a club top, only to discover that I am pushing the edge of their catalog (none of the five pounds having come from my chest), and nothing that remotely fits works with anything else in the god-forsaken mall. On top of that, the designers seem to have ignored the curvy girls this season, so I left feeling vaguely fat and generally incompetent at this thing girls are supposed to master by 13. I wanted to cry, but instead went home and decided to skip dinner. At the party that night, I reached my limit after a drink, what with all the not eating and everything. I switched to water and had several conversations with smiling men, almost certainly dribbling stupidity as I concentrated on not throwing up. I gave my number to the nicest of them (mission objective #1 in Operation Dating), but probably did it wrong since he hasn't called, and headed home.

The professional conference the next day admitted of so complete a dearth of new information that I left shortly after getting there. That night I went to dinner with Mindy and her many Stanford MBA associates, none of whom could care less about me since I'm not a promising networking lead and a seemingly high risk for gold-digging (could it be more absurd?). Katrina was in town and we headed to the club so she could get her groove on and they could make themselves the collective center of attention. I spent the evening shuffling in vague gyrating patterns nearby, constantly being shoved aside by men in dire need of a chance to rub their genitals against Katrina's rump. That night I believe I got in seven drinks, including one straight amber liquid I would never order, all of which serviceably dulled the ache of being ignored.

The rest of the weekend followed suit.

I happen to believe that Chaucer wrote his Canterbury Tales with the following question in mind, "Which is the worst of the seven deadly sins?" I also happen to think that he settled on envy (check out the Pardoner's Tale if you're a fellow nerdXor, or Se7en if you're not). I had always thought of myself more as the sort for gluttony than envy, but what could this all be if not envy of that ephemeral ease pictured in car commercials, beer ads, and clothing catalogs? It's not the ad companies' fault; they're just trying to tie their product to our idea of the good life. But that's not my life; it's a series of chores I do so I don't have to look back one day and wish I knew for sure that being popular was a lie. I wander many locales stranger than the Pardoner's foreign lands, in search of a society's salvation I don't believe in. And if I'm not careful, the only boy I'll ever kiss will be the Host.

Iraq becomes personal

Moments ago, I found out that one of my friends has volunteered to go fight in Iraq. He is an Army Medic and will be fighting on the "front lines." I have never felt more like one of those fluttery women in old westerns. I want to say something that will make him safe, and I can't. I can't make him stay, and I wouldn't want him to, really. He feels it's his duty to help his fellow soldiers and I can't disagree, because in his position I would feel the same way. But now I'm really, really mad at Bush. Whether or not the war is justified, the way we went to it was not, and that carelessness is a large part of why it's going on so long and why my friend now has to go. So yeah, really really mad. And scared. For my friend.



A little bit ago, I asked Gene to invite me to join him on, a network like Friendster, but with better software. I listed Katabasis as my webpage and have actually had people write me email about posts here (though Gene says he never gets email from Orkut). It's so bizarre . So I decided to go look through what I had been posting lately and see what these people are seeing. I discovered that I never posted "Culinary Expedition, Part 3," the real gem in the series that shows my stalwart crush on Neal (who seems to have disappeared from Safeway, sadly enough). I also haven't given you any indication of what else I have been spending my time on. So here are the links to the new stuff:

"The Greatest Movies Ever Made"--Could I be any clearer?

"Culinary Expedition, Part 3" in the context of the four-post series. Scroll down to about December.

Triathablog--my mind takes a break as I chronicle my obsessive calorie-counting attempts to train for my first triathlon in three years.

It's not as good as a new short from, but it'll do. Hopefully, after I return from Peru I will get back to some of the meatier investigations, but we'll see.



Me: So, Katabasis, you've been sporting that classic kind of 'Roman proclamation' look for some time now.

Katabasis: Yup. I like it. Classic is my bag.

Me: Yeah, but you've got your links and everything all up on the left like that, and everyone else has had them on the right since like, forever.

Katabasis: So?

Me: So, I'm just saying, you could make yourself a little more accessible with some small changes, that's all.

Katabasis: Like what?

Me: Like switching which side you part your links on. Maybe trading in the serifs for something a little more modern. Arial is practically classic now.

Katabasis: Hmmm.... But serifs always make things more readable.

Me: Not on the web, my friend. Plus, you could use some borders instead of just text styles to separate content--you know, make your titles really POP.

Katabasis: Popping is good.

Me: Yeah, and if you want to get really hip, you could put a picture of me up over your calendar so everyone could fix a face to the genius who posts the brilliant prose here so infrequently.

Katabasis: (sighs) I don't think that's going to work out. You know you have that thing about photography--it stealing your soul or whatever.

Me: Not stealing your soul, just your memory. It reifies memories, mediating your relationship to the remembered by replacing it with an index. Graven images, you know?

Katabasis: Not really, but anyway, you don't have a whole lot of pictures of you.

Me: I suppose that's true. Maybe we could go with something a little more thematic, like 'Teiresias in Hades.'

Katabasis: Um, yeah, that would be cool if anyone had a picture of Hades.

Me: Right. How about the acropolis at Eritrea?

Katabasis: Sounds good, though there is this funny picture from Halloween.
(courtesy of Michele)

Me: (coughs) I think I like the acropolis better.

Katabasis: (grins) Suits me fine.

Me: There's just one other thing.

Katabasis: What?

Me: The blue. It's boring. Jeans are blue. The sky is blue. Blue is so non-committal, so blah. It's Spring! It's time to lighten up.

Katabasis: You mean, like aqua?

Me: No, like the new pink.

Katabasis: What's that?

Me: Trust me.

Retiring at 25

So on Monday, it will be official. I talked to a friend of mine who has started her own reading center, and in September, I will be working for her 20 hours a week. I will make $30 an hour, which leaves me time to take on students of my own in SF at $60/hr, to attend night school for my reading specialist credential, and to start writing books for children. The only thing it will not allow me to do is buy a house right away, but I think that's good. I've still got a little too much Walden in me to shackle myself to a Bay Area mortgage just yet. Actually, if I can get 10 students (which would put me at 30 hrs/wk), I would make 60k/yr.

It's good to have skills.

Education for Free!

Today I went to the California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park with my parents to see it one last time before it closes in December for remodeling. While there, I discovered a number of exciting programs and opportunities that may interest you as well.

This weekend, October 25-26, is FREE of admission for those dwelling in the 94114 area code. They have a beautiful exhibit on the Arctic Wildlife Refuge right now that was partially censored while on display at the Smithsonian in Washington, DC.

November 6 (Thursday): David Quamman will be giving a lecture entitled "Monsters of God: The Man-Eating Predators in the Jungles of History and the Mind" about the changing role of humans in the food chain at 7:30. $8 non-members.

November 12 (Wednesday): Brian Fagan will be giving a lecture entitled "Before California: An Archaelogist Looks at Our Earliest Inhabitants" with a book-signing to follow at 2:00 and 7:30. $8 non-members.

November 15 (Saturday): Public Forum "Global Warming: Global Warning? State of the World 2003" including lectures by many of the leading experts in the field.

There are also a number of cool bird-watching trips, a seminar on navigating by the stars (in which one uses actual sextants!), and a series of lectures on the evolution of science. Anyone seeking more information or company for such endeavors is welcome to email me or visit


this is as it should be...
floating, falling, surfing, accessing, the vast expanses
of informational resources, floating just beneath my fingertips...

On second thought, maybe I wasn't missing that much after all.

Nah! Many, many thanks to Gene for getting it all up and running!

*Please note that the Yellowstone ratings are finally up under the Links.

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