I Pay Rapt Attention

RIP, Starman

Posted in Uncategorized by Zoelle on June 25, 2009
All this death. Yesterday, I lost a friend. I say friend in the loosest sense, as he was little more than a fellow outcast who once told my mother I was rather plain from most angles. I think I resented him for it at the time. His life is proof that what might be called eccentricity can also be endearing; I think we all loved him, in our own way. He was a ubiquitous figure, a creature of habit, always walking the same path- except that he took different people with him in every iteration. The one time we really spoke, he told me I was green/yellow. He had some theory of personality and color and relationships, and all I really took from it was that I had the opposite colors of my mother, which explained all the fighting. I didn’t really get it. Now, I wish I had asked him as many questions as I could, understood his systems so  I might preserve them. It is the absence of things that gives them their fullness, I suppose, but I do not like this permanence. I do not like this loss.
Even though I’ve never believed in such things, I hope there is a Peet’s coffee and a studio wherever you’re going.
Rest in peace.

All this death. Yesterday, I lost a friend. I say friend in the loosest sense, as he was little more than a fellow outcast who once told my mother I was rather plain from most angles. I think I resented him for it at the time. His life is proof that what might be called eccentricity can also be endearing; I think we all loved him, in our own way. He was a ubiquitous figure, a creature of habit, always walking the same path- except that he took different people with him in every iteration. The one time we really spoke, he told me I was green/yellow. He had some theory of personality and color and relationships, and all I really took from it was that I had the opposite colors of my mother, which explained all the fighting. I didn’t really get it. Now, I wish I had asked him as many questions as I could, understood his systems so  I might preserve them. It is the absence of things that gives them their fullness, I suppose, but I do not like this permanence. I do not like this loss.

Even though I’ve never believed in such things, I hope for the sake of paint-soaked jeans and checking email in the library and giant modular portraits of Jesus and most of all for your relentless spirit that there is a Peet’s coffee and a studio wherever you’re going.

Rest in peace.

http://www.danvilleweekly.com/news/show_story.php?id=1698

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Thoughts on Music, Literature, and (dreaded) Self-Reflection

Posted in Eccentricities by Zoelle on June 24, 2009
Music
Is it just me, or is the majority of popular music written in a range suited for most women? That is to say, I’ve noticed that over the years, the popularity of certain bands experiences an abrupt increase once they change the key of their songs to accomodate the typical female range (see also: Death Cab for Cutie, etc etc) There are obviously notable exceptions to this, but it’s an interesting phenomenon nonetheless.

Literature

I recently finished Evidence of Things Unseen by Marianne Wiggins. Now as I’ve mentioned before, I really like Marianne Wiggins. Her prose is gorgeous and she has the capacity to write some of the most beautiful and expansive sentences I’ve ever encountered. I’m a huge fan of The Shadow Catcher. In that context, Evidence of Things Unseen was surprisingly disappointing. This isn’t to say that it’s a bad book- it’s actually quite good. The characters are compelling and she makes some interesting moves throughout her narrative about this couple building a life together post-WWII. Yet even as she painstakingly produces the voice of the characters in their thoughts and their dialogues with each other, she completely ruins the practical-country-folk-with-quirky-scientific-interests by giving them her trademark beautiful language. This isn’t to say that I don’t think them/that type of person incapable of expansive thoughts or beautiful language- it’s just remarkably out of character and doesn’t fit with the other things they’ve thought and said. Wiggins’ prose gets away from her, and it’s disappointing, considering how well she managed it in the Shadow Catcher. Oh well. It’s always disappointing to realize that you may have discovered an author’s best work first- the others are unfortunately diminished by comparison.

UPDATE: At least Shadow Catcher was more recent, and thus represents an improvement over her earlier work. I am slightly less disappointed.

What I’m reading now:

Zelda by Nancy Milford; Underworld by Don Delillo; House of Leaves by Mark Z Danielewski

Self-Reflection

As part of the process of writing essays for business school, I’ve been forced to think a lot about two relatively nebulous and thus uncomfortable topics: my past accomplishments, and what I hope to achieve in the future. I’ve had no problem articulating what I’ve learned from mistakes, or the trajectory of my academic career, but trying to identify my three most significant achievement is particularly problematic. I’m not trying to imply that I think I’ve accomplished nothing- I consider a lot of things I’ve done to be significant, at least to me. The issue is more attempting to find the balance between the things I find important (which tend to be more intangible and related to the relationships I have with people) and concrete projects that might be impressive to an admissions committee. As for my future plans, well- I don’t have to answer the question about my career vision. In fact, I probably won’t. But its presence made me stop and think a lot about why I’m even applying for this program in the first place. I know it appealed to me in that it built in 2 years of work prior to going back to school, but still guaranteed that I’d have a place if I wanted it. But why business school at all? It’s still a little unclear, but here’s what I came up with:

1. Business is a profession that appeals to me. I navigate complicated structures with relative ease, I’m a social person, and the types of problems that appear in a business situation appeal to me. I believe that communication between a business and its clients (or employees, for that matter) is incredibly interesting, and has the potential to be important. Also, I like delegating.

2. At present, I don’t want to be an entrepreneur. I have ideas, of course, but I don’t feel I’m in a place to develop them yet. I’d rather take existing entities and make them better. In several of my recent jobs, I’ve essentially acted as an internal consultant, and I really enjoyed the experience. I like dropping into a situation or organization and identifying problems or solutions that had been overlooked because of the culture of a company. I like clarifying the vision of others, and helping provide next steps to achieve it. To put it bluntly: At this point in my life, creating a business of my own feels like having a child, and I’m not ready to be a mother.

 Thus: If I want to be involved in business, but do so in the capacity of engaging with existing organizations and improving them, I could stand to use an MBA. I’ll learn things there that could be helpful, and I’ll get to meet people who could be helpful later.  Also, I can always change my mind.
A final note about current events:

-There are rumors that BART might go on strike because of potential paycuts. I know that paycuts are unfortunate, but they’re happening everywhere. The UC system is taking 8% paycuts across the board. As someone dealing with the impending unemployment of a family member and all of its repercussions, I say: suck it up. At least you have jobs. And relatively high-paying ones at that. If you go on strike, hundreds of other people (ok, I) can’t go to work. In this economy, that just doesn’t seem fair.

-North Korea is making me nervous, but that might be because I’m on the West Coast right now.

-I can’t come up with anything interesting, original, or even particularly informed to say about Iran right now. I can’t even clarify my thoughts on the issue. But it certainly feels significant, and I’m interested to see what happens. I wish I thought the outcome (either way) would mean much for women’s rights or attitudes towards the West, but I honestly don’t.

 

 

A Summer Ripe with Broke Studying…

Posted in Uncategorized by Zoelle on June 14, 2009

So… applying to grad school is really expensive. The GMAT costs $250. The GRE costs $140. Each individual school has its own application fee. You’ve got to buy books to study for the tests. You probably should at least get coffee, if not lunch, with your recommenders. You can’t take on freelance work that would make you money because you’re too busy writing your own crappy essays. It’s very distressing.

In other words, pardon me if this blog gets boring: I’m burying myself into applications, and that means my adventures are being kept to a minimum.

BUT! I still have BART and study breaks in which to read great books and watch TERRIBLE movies. Thus, I present to you two recommended reads and one hilariously bad film:

The New York Trilogy- Paul Auster

This is a set of three novella-length works, all of which play with the genre of detective fiction. Along the way, however, they play with literary and philosophical conventions (while immersing you in a great story.) Great stuff.

Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name- Vendela Vida

An exotic (if cold) location, family intrigue, a hot reindeer herder, the northern lights- what more can you ask for? Even though this book is 226 pgs, it only took 2 hours to read. Not what I’d call light fare, but it’s quick and compact and lovely.

and finally…

Hitman

Timothy Olyphant, you’re beautiful. Somehow, you pull off being bald and having a bar code tattooed to the back of your head. Also, there’s always that deep pleasure I get from watching someone who is really good at what they do (even if that thing happens to be killing people creatively.) And your chemistry with Olga whatsherface from one of the Bond movies is definitely there, and the whole creepy backstory of being raised with a number instead of a name to be an international hitman? Lots of potential. Here’s the thing, though, Timmy ol’ pal- when you open your mouth to speak, I sort of can’t help laughing. And it’s not because this movie is a comedy. It’s more that I get the feeling you (or, to be fair, maybe your misguided vision of your character?) don’t really talk much. Like… probably never, considering how stilted both your dialogue and its delivery seem to be.

Look, this might all just be a function of the movie being based on a video game, but I don’t want to jump to conclusions here. Why don’t you just stick to silent killing, buddy, (or RomCom tv shows? Aren’t you on Samantha Who? Oh, no, Billy Zane replaced you…) and then we’ll talk.

A Few Brief Thoughts

Posted in Uncategorized by Zoelle on June 9, 2009

First week of work was tiring and I don’t have much to say about it except politics are stupid, but it’s nice to be in an office again. I do fear that I’ll spend the whole summer staring at spreadsheets, but I suppose that comes with the territory, working in a data department. I also made the tough decision to forego a potential freelance writing gig- much as I really wanted/needed the money, I’m spending so much time working and preparing to apply to the HBS 2+2 program (deadline is July 1!!) that I have little time for anything else, let alone the reading list for my senior thesis (which I’m absolutely itching to start) or my own writing, which is pretty much all I want to do these days.

It’s funny- immediately following my observation of graduation this year, I convinced myself that I didn’t want to pursue creative writing as a career. I’m a pretty social person, and writing is a pretty solitary endeavor, and, to be frank, I don’t like things that aren’t easy for me. Offices and corporate culture are easy. They have easily defined rules, which I happen to follow pretty adeptly, and that makes the lucrative sort of office jobs that offer the security I want quite appealing. So– business school it was, and forget all this stupid writing nonsense.

Except as soon as I made that decision, I got the itch to write again- worse than ever before. I know it’s something I’ll never lose, but now that it’s not an obligation, it’s become the only thing I want to do. I find myself scribbling on the bart, during my lunch break, while I’m cooking dinner. Perhaps it’s a symptom of having few people my own age around, but seriously? This is getting a little ridiculous.

Regardless. This was intended to be brief, so I’ll wrap up with something more humorous and less obsessively dissecting my continuous quarter-life crisis.

Here’s what stood out (good and bad) from the 8-hour long new employee orientation I suffered through today. Please note that since I worked here last summer and am an intern, I am neither new, nor really an employee, and so 99% of the information I either already knew or couldn’t apply to my own situation (or both.) Oh well.

  • “History doesn’t repeat itself, it rhymes” — a loose paraphrase of a quotation paraphrased by the historian who came to speak to us. This strikes me as an interesting concept. I like it.
  • We should indulge in “healthy pleasures”– the first one listed was sensuality. Last year, Alison Janney flat out told us in a radio spot to make love often and well. This company is apparently very invested in my sex life. Interesting.
  • If you show up 4 hours late to a presentation you’re supposed to make, everyone will forgive you if you teach them how to salsa (and look damn good doing it…)
  • Aroma Cafe cookies make everything better. Even hours of monotony.

In other news, Trader Joe’s Nonfat Frozen Yogurt rocks. my. socks. Forget my diet- until this stupid application is in, it’s eating as much of that delicious actively-cultured heaven at night as I want. I promise I’ll try harder in July?