My mother knows I love books, but she doesn’t exactly know what kind of books I like.  That is how I ended up with 4 James Patterson novels she picked up at a garage sale for 50 cents each.  And here I am now thinking of the two double cheese burgers I could have gotten with that money instead.

I’ve only opened one so far, but the first few pages have provided me with much insight about the trashy novel genre.  No, I’m serious.  I tried to read a bit further than page 10 but I was doubled over with laughter and had to excuse myself from the room.  When I finally recovered I just knew I had to write about it.

Listen, there’s one useful thing to do with a trashy novel.  No, not burn it, though that is the second useful thing to do.  The first useful thing to do is to mock it.  Trashy novels are like bad movies, they’re only entertaining if you can make sarcastic remarks to someone else while reading them.  Here are a few excerpts from “The Beach House” (my comments in italics):

“IT’S LIKE DANCING SITTING DOWN.  Squeeze – tap – release -twist.  Left hand – right foot – left hand – right hand.

First of all, WHY ARE YOU YELLING AT ME, JAMES PATTERSON?!  DON’T MAKE ME TAKE THAT CAPS LOCK AWAY FROM YOU!  Second, “squeeze”?  What are you squeezing?  Your buttocks?  The chair (with your buttocks)?  WHAT?  And then you twist it?  How does that work, exactly?  It’s like a failed attempt at a metaphor slash onomatopeia slash life.

“My knees are pressed tight against the sleek, midnight blue gas tank, my head tucked so low out of the wind that it’s almost between them.”

Someone call the police!  There’s some crazy guy out on the highway driving with his head almost between his knees!  Geez, and they still won’t give ME  a license, and I drive with my head up and my eyes on the road.

“Or maybe it’s got nothing to do with the bike, and I’m just getting old.  I’m sorry to have to confess, I turned twenty-one yesterday.”

I suppose I should start planning my funeral.  I’m 23, after all.  One foot in the grave, you know.

“Still, it wasn’t exactly what I had in mind when I entered Columbia Law School at the advanced age of twenty-six.”

What the fuck is wrong with these people, who think they’re so fucking old in their twenties?

“What gave her such style was the way the simplicity of everything else in her appearance contrasted with her tattoo.  Rather than a discreet, dainty turtle or butterfly, Pauline had the indelible mark of the Chrysler Building on her right arm.”

Oooooh, a tatoo!  Slutty!  Enticing!

“When I asked her why she felt so strongly about a skyscraper, her brown eyes flashed as if to say I didn’t get it.  ‘It’s about people choosing to make something so beautiful,’ she said.  ‘Plus, my grandfather worked on a Chrysler assembly line for thirty-eight years.  I figured he helped build it.'”

Is it just me, or is that a very stupid reason to get a tatoo?  I like beautiful things my ancestors helped build, too, and you don’t see me permanently carving the ruins of Chichen Itza on my arm, when I can just type them into Google images and see them any time I want.

To be continued, assuming I decide to keep reading further into this amazing story.  Almost a certainty, given how bored I am these days.  I can use the funnies.



(Comic by yours truly.*)

*What?!  You never doodle when you’re bored in class?

There is nothing I hate more than people who don’t respond to their e-mails.  It’s such a simple task, really.  If I’m writing to bitch about something, it’s not that hard to reply with an “Uh-huh, that sucks!”  If I’m writing to ask a simple question, a “yes,” or a “no,” or even an “I can’t help you there” don’t really seem that difficult.  I understand that the keyboard can be daunting to some people, with all its letters and symbols waiting to be pushed, but really, IT’S NOT THAT HARD.

The second thing I hate very much is when a professor or a boss doesn’t give you clear instructions.  I’m not asking for a step-by-step directive, but a general outline is nice if I ever want to do my job.  After my research job fell through, I enthusiastically volunteered for a project with one of my professors.  He accepted my help and then proceeded to give me the project’s website address, but without telling me exactly what it is he expects me to do.  Being wise (or thinking myself wise, whichever) and having already been told that yes, I could participate, I decided not to push my luck further by making too many questions too soon.  So now I’m “working” with a person who never really told me what the project is about or what it is that I’m supposed to be doing.  In fact, I don’t even know if I’m actually working with him anymore, though I plan to keep pretending I am unless told otherwise. This, my friends, is what I call Sacrificing for a Greater Good, otherwise known as Enslavement in Exchange for Letters of Recommendation.

Thankfully I now have a somewhat steady student who helps me pay my bills and stop depleting my savings.  Plus, today I got a call from another potential employer at a well-known tutoring center.  I had interviewed there a couple of months ago and by now I assumed that they had thrown my file in the trash, and I suspected it had something to do with the math test I had to take for which I didn’t know half the answers.  Really, what person 6 years out of high school remembers how to factor a quadratic equation?  (Math majors, that’s who.  Which I am NOT.)  I’m afraid that my being a graduate student and mostly self-employed for the last few years has led to a deterioration of my social abilities.  (Okay, mostly I blame grad school.)

This is how the phone call went:

Me: (In the cafeteria, trying to down my bowl of clam chowder in 10 minutes, before my next class) Huhddo?

Lady from tutoring place:  Hello?  Yes, I’m calling from XYZ Tutoring.  I was wondering if you were still looking for employment.

Me:  Uh…(*gulp*)…well…yeah…I mean, I now have a part-time job, but…uh, forget that.  Yes, I am.

LFTP:  Okay, we have a student who needs help in your area of expertise.

Me:  (Area of expertise?  These people think I’m an expert at anything?  Ha!) Alright.  I am interested, but I’d like to know if I’d be tutoring him onsite or at his home, since I have some transportation issues.  (I neglect to mention, of course, these issues stem from my unwillingness to take the dreaded DL exam.  Again.)

LFTP:  It would be at home, but he lives on your part of town and we thought it wouldn’t be so inconvenient.

Me:  Okay, thank you, in that case I think it could work.  (*Gazing longingly at unfinished meal*) Um, I have a class in 10 minutes, though, so would it be okay if I called back tomorrow to make the arrangements?

LFTP:  Yes, that’s fine.  Call us or come in tomorrow around 10am.

Me:  Alright, thank you.  Bye.

LFTP:  Okay, buh-bye.

Me:  Bye.  (Wait, why did I say goodbye again?)

LFTP:  Bye.  (*Hangs up*)

Me: (*Bangs head on table*)

I hate it when these things catch me off guard.  As in, with my face in a bowl of clam chowder.  After the phone call I kept replaying my answers in my head, convincing myself of how stupid I sounded and cringing at how much I think I stuttered during the whole thing.  Of course, it’s probably not as bad as I think it is since they still haven’t called to retract their job offer.  (Yet.)

Do you know what else I hate?  (Last one, I promise.)  When my Netflix queue skips my #1 pick and sends me #2 instead.  Because I was really looking forward to seeing “Rachel Getting Married” this week. Especially when I carefully timed my return of the last dvd so that my next shipment would be processed today, the day in which the movie was released.  And indeed, it was processed this morning, just before RGM’s availability changed from “Short Wait” to “Now” (not that I was monitoring it or ANYTHING), and yet I still got #2 on the list.  The bastards.

I guess reading books like I’m a cultured person or something will have to do for now.

I seem to have caught some nasty bug from somewhere.  Yesterday morning I woke up with the vaguest sensation of a lingering headache, but I’m not one to moan and stay home so I went out about my business as usual.  By night time the vague sensation had turned into full blown discomfort, along with achy muscles and a lot of sneezing.  I supposed going for two years without a single sick day was a bit too much good luck.

I was at the mall yesterday with my mom, eating a realy good frozen yogurt topped with blackberries, when a woman approached our table and asked for some money.  She told us a sad story about having recently arrived from California, where she had lost her job and subsequently her apartment.  She said she was living in a sheleter and unsucessfully looking for work. I didn’t really know what to make of it, since I’m a little jaded about panhandlers.  On the one hand, OF COURSE everyone who asks strangers for money has  sad story.  It’s how they get people to feel bad and pony up.  On the other hand, she didn’t look drunk, drugged, and while she was wearing an old t-shirt and kakhi pants, she was mostly clean.  Not to mention that in the current economic situation her story was more plausible than it would have been 6 months ago.

I don’t know if she was telling the truth or not, but I noticed most people–including myself–gave her something, however small.  In case it was true, and perhaps in fear that maybe in a few weeks or months one of us would be in her place, relying on the kindness of others to scrape by.

Remember my last post where I bitched about some people cheating during a university exam?

The whole story is that we were taking a Linguistics exam and some people in the class were blatantly cheating during the test.  Take into account that this is a 3000 level class, and the majority of the students are teachers or speech pathology students like myself (actually, I think I’m the only SP student in there) who are trying to get the bilingual certification for either field.  Which is to say, we are all grown-ass people.

The class itself isn’t that difficult.  Sure, it takes some work and some memorization when it comes to definitions and phonetic transcription, but most of it is easy reading and a lot of it is common sense.  However, there isn’t a class where someone isn’t complaining about how awful and how hard it all is.  There is too much material.  The professor doesn’t speak loudly enough.  The review was too long (18 pages, in case you’re curious).  There’s too much to memorize. It’s the largest group of whiners I have ever had the misfortune of meeting, and I’m not sure why this is.  I had never experienced this in any other college class.  Sure, there are always people who complain and think they should get an A just for showing up, but I’ve never seen it to this extent.  When the class started I was excited precisely because most of the people in it seemed older than the average college student and many of them, like myself, already had a degree.  I thought it would mean a more serious and committed attitude, maybe better discussions.  I was obviously misguided.  There isn’t a class that goes by without someone asking “Do we have to know that for the exam?” I think the last time I asked that question I was in high school, and was immediately shot down by a teacher who said “If I’m teaching it, you better learn it.”  I heard the same answer back in undergrad from professors when someone else dared to ask the question.  OF COURSE YOU HAVE TO KNOW IT.  It’s like they expect the professor to spoon-feed them the test questions so that they can then memorize a couple of paragraphs and get an A or a B on their transcript.

Maybe I’ve been conditioned to work like a graduate student already, accustomed to always work hard and being challenged.  If there’s too much material and you have to forgo sleep in order to pass an exam, then you suck it up and do it.  You don’t complain, you don’t whine. But I don’t think so.  It hasn’t been that long since I graduated from undergrad and even going by my memories of those easier standards, this class isn’t too bad.  Try passing Analytical Chemistry with my old professor and then come back and whine about Linguistics.

Anyway, during the exam I was sitting next to the three culprits.  These people usually sit by the front, while my introverted self always hauls its butt to the back row.  During the exam they decided to sit in the back of the room, right in front of me.  I’m sure they were cheating because they were not even being smart about it.  They were whispering loudly things like “Nineteen!” and then someone else would whisper “B!”  If they were not expelled for cheating, at least they should be expelled for being idiots.  I wasn’t sure what to do.  Obviously, these people were cheating.  The professor didn’t seem to hear anything, however, since there was no warning on her part.  On the other hand, I hate getting involved in drama.  Were I to speak up, it would be my word against theirs (assuming the professor hadn’t heard anything).  I’d be earning three brand new enemies.  I’ve always been able to make very accurate judgments on character, so I trust my instincts when it comes to people; and from what I had observed during other classes, these people were bound to be nasty.  I had no doubt there would be verbal encounters and who knows, maybe retaliation in some way.  So in the end, they finished the exam before I did and I never spoke to the professor about it. I figured it was likely they’d fail the exam anyway (about half the points were in short-essay form).

Well, it seems like I underestimated the professor’s hearing, however.  Apparently, she did notice and must have either reported the students or asked them to drop the course.  It is so stupid to cheat on college exams.  I’ve never understood why people do it.  Is it worth it to get expelled and black listed for it?  The answer is always no.  Make it up on the next exam, retake the class, drop the class!  But don’t cheat.  It’s just plain dumb…especially when you do it by WHISPERING LOUDLY.  Anyway, the point is that I did not see them in the classroom the day after the exam, and I did not see them the day after, either.

I still feel like an asshole for not speaking up, however.

…I’d say the following things out loud:

Aren’t you ashamed to be over 10 years old and cheating on a college exam that is not even that hard to begin with?  By the way, the whole row could hear you and your cronies whispering, and I can only hope you let me know which school you end up teaching at so that I can keep my children far, far away from it.

Tuna is not the best choice of food to sneak into the library.  Neither are potato chips.  (Tips:  choose non-smelly, non-crunchy foods next time.)

I can see right through your “niceness” every time you are trying to get something from me.

I don’t like your kids.  They are rude brats.

I ended our friendship because you were hurtful and mean.  Yes, I believe you knew exactly what you were doing and no, I don’t believe you have changed.  I’d rather if we stuck with our current agreement to be polite to each other, and no more.

Do you think it’s a good idea to acquire yet another dog when you can barely care for the kids you have?

I hate it when you make me go to our family reunions because, to be honest, I don’t like most of the people on that side of the family.

I am linking to this video over at “When Falls the Coliseum” because it is funny and because it is true.  It’s easy to forget how good we have it now, and I’m sick of people complaining how the old times were better and how their lives suck so much.   Go over there and watch it, I promise it will be a 4 minutes well spent.


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