Wednesday, August 25, 2004

High on High School

my high school was a funny place. it was this sort of experimental magnet school, grades 4th-12th, where "gifted" kids were mixed in with average retards in the hope that the former would somehow elevate the latter. though a lofty goal, kids were kept segregated in either remedial, normal or honors classes, so the mixing stayed minimal. well over half the student body was nonwhite and bussed in from all over los angeles. it was a public school -- never a fee to attend -- but the waiting list was long and admission was awarded through a lottery system. so we had a mini melting pot of races, socioeconomic backgrounds, IQ levels and ages. it probably sounds like a recipe for disaster, but it worked out well.

i began that school in the 6th grade, attended it seven years and graduated from it three times before finally leaving. when i left i had been there longer than most of the administrators. imagine my surprise when i began UCLA in fall 1994 and found myself as the little fish in big pond when i had been just the opposite for so long. in any case, high school wasn't that traumatic. i did all the stuff one is supposed to do -- cram for exams, play hooky, smoke pot, attend prom, lose my virginity (the week before prom!), sign yearbooks, pass notes in class and so forth. normal american stuff.

my graduating class must have been around 130 kids, and we all knew each other. there was a real sense of unity among us, the Eccentrics of 1994. they say college is the time when you make your friends for life, but i'm more tight with my high-school peeps. after all, we went through all our 'growing pains' together, saw each other through the awkward 'wonder years,' went through divorces, custody battles and pep rallies together. they are my true homies and the loyalty runs deep.

so with this in mind, i had been looking forward to my 10-year reunion. we had all kept tabs on each other somewhat through the years, so it was less a curiousity of what everyone was up to now and more about getting people together in the same room. in a nutshell: It was great, really great. that school spirit was palpable, with everyone seeming genuinely pleased to see one another, hug and catch up. what's interesting is that people looked damn good. all the girls must have gone on a reunion crash diet or something, cus they were looking hot. and the boys -- thinning hair and all -- looked beefier in a good way; all the skinny stragglers had finally hit puberty.

the food tasted yummy, the wine glasses seemed to refill themselves, and the party felt right. to see photos of smiling fools you don't know (unless you're my high-school homey), click here, click here! although we did plenty of mingling, parts of the evening felt cliquish -- just like high school. during dinner, there was a black table, latino table, russian table, honors kids table and an everyone else table. i'm only bummed more people didn't turn out. and i'm bummed i didn't get to stay longer. i found out the next day that someone had rented a hotel room nearby, where i'm sure people played seven minutes in heaven.

i bailed out at about 11pm to attend the birthday party of one juanito de la plancha. (happy birthday, juancho.) but yes, overall it was a blast, and i can't wait until the next one.

Saturday, August 21, 2004

Family Matters

i attended this family get-together last weekend. it was a reunion of sorts with all kinds of relatives whom i hadn't seen in years. there were maybe 35 of us sitting down to eat crummy russian food at this restaurant with crazy slow service. i slipped into a dress, high heels; i even washed my hair. and then i braced myself to face the relatives, which have been known to be quite the critical bunch. luckily, i passed this time, as they all agreed i looked nice and healthy. i encountered a compliment each time i greeted one of my aunties and great-aunties (there are mostly women in my extended family). that, of course, was nice to hear because most of the time i get "plumped up, eh? you should lose some weight" or "you'd look better if you pulled your hair back" (this time, i came with my hair already pulled back).

but nope, nothing but the good stuff this time around. ALTHOUGH, there was something qualitatively wrong in all the compliments. they were usually couched in the terms "you look so much better than the last time i saw you," which really made me wonder what kind of monster i looked like before. it must have been maybe 2-3 years ago that i saw them last, and that means maybe 10-15 pounds ago, but 10-15 pounds isn't 50 pounds. i was disturbed, especially when my 'high society' auntie asked me whether i had had plastic surgery. it was if, "damn, girl. you probably had to pay someone to lop the fat off your ass and brighten up your face, because you ain't no natural beauty."

and then there was the old standby: "When are you going to get married?" and this time around, it was confounded by the compliments, i.e.: "What's going on with you? You look so nice, why can't you find a man to marry you?" then the aunties would list off the various FOBs they knew (FOB= fresh of the boat, as in recent immigrant in search of a greencard). after a few glasses of wine, i felt brazen enough to respond to the "when you gonna get married" question with "never" (Nee-kug-da in Russian). to this, i would usually hear "but you HAVE to," though some oddball aunties did pull me aside and say "you know what? that's good, honey, you live for yourself. i wish i did."


in other news, my current temp gig that i've been so in love with has been extended another two weeks, which means money (yay!) and getting up at 4:30am to get to work by 6am (boo!). it's been great, though. i feel super challenged by and engaged in my work; the early start actually makes the days zoom by, leaving me with plenty of daylight once i get done at 3pm; the pay's not bad; the people are nice; and i'm working for a brand and cause i believe in. so, in short, i'll never get a perm job there, because good stuff like that just doesn't happen to me. i'll take the crumbs, though.

otherwise, i've been a movie-going mama lately. seen so much in the theaters in the past few months: spidey 2, bourne supremacy, collateral, what the bleep do we know? and napoleon dynamite. only ones i'd truly recommend are 'napoleon dynamite' and 'bourne supremacy.' rest were subpar.

tonight should be very interesting, as i have my 10-year high-school reunion to attend.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

My Furry Baby

i adore my dog -- like crazy, apeshit adore her. she's the sweetest thing in the world, everyone says so, and i know i'm being totally objective when i say she's also the cutest dog on the planet. so here's a little ode to my precious juice, who turned two years old this past june.

"look at me! how can you resist my face? now give me your burrito."

"i'll keep staring until you do."

"ah, fuck it, i give up. now i'll just take a little nap by your feet and hope some of that food falls from your plate and into my mouth."

"when all else fails, i'll just go give my mommy a kiss. i loves me my mommy."

Sunday, August 01, 2004

It's Official

i'm overeducated, unemployed, in debt, disillusioned and directionless. where does one go from here?

i know i'm not alone. it seems a good percentage of my generation is also 'lost,' struggling with the quarter life crisis that seems to plague so many of us. we refuse to turn into our parents, live a life of stable mediocrity, but once we enter the dreaded real world and realize that, yes, the gold rush tech boom days that turned twentysomethings into millionaires overnight are really over (and we missed the boat) and that, yes, we'll need to stay stuck in creatively stifling day jobs for years to come because that's how rent gets paid, we get all kinds of depressed. we go on prozac. we lie awake wondering why the fuck we aren't already rich and famous when someone as talentless as jennifer love hewitt is. we sit around with our like-minded peers discussing how much smarter we are than our bosses and how menial our work tasks are. and when we finally, frighteningly realize that we are destined to be cogs in an immutable system, we have a meltdown, move back in with our parents and spend our days lounging around in our pajamas, eating cereal and watching MTV -- anything to take us back to a carefree youth we didn't value enough when it was around.

sound like anyone you know? i'll confess i possessed some elements of this crisis mentality after i finished my bachelor's and initially joined corporate America. i feared i would never find true happiness by assuming my new role (as cog) in my new environment. i figured i'd have to train myself to expect so little from the big world i once expected so much from. Reality Check 101 -- why was that class never offered in college?

this time around, it's very different. there are no pie-in-the-sky, stars-in-the-eyes dreams of being able to change the world with just the love in your heart, good will toward all. it's sad that some of that lofty idealism of youth is gone, but that shit just ain't realistic. the upbeat flipside to this is that while i've learned to expect less from the world, i've come to expect more from myself. there's no false sense of entitlement, no belief in 'meant to be' anymore. steady baby steps sometimes take you farther than long strides followed by inactivity.

that's what i hope, at least. i'm taking my first baby step tomorrow by starting temporary work at a place i wouldn't mind working permanently. (given that i must be there at 6am, i got up at an ungodly hour today, a sunday, to practice for my big 4:30am wakeup tomorrow.) i'm so ready to start working again. ready to be productive, to earn money, to feel good about myself and my place as a cog, to fill my days up with stimulating activity instead of wasting them away at home, where i've been for the past month, sitting around bored, deep in thought over self-absorbed matters that don't really matter much. yes, work will hit the spot right about now, and i won't turn up my nose to the menial tasks or be afraid to work hard or stay late. i'll expect nothing, but give it my all and maybe, just maybe, it'll lead me to the next step.

and if doesn't, there's always my parents' house, cereal and MTV.