I'm particularly tickled by the "sherpa in the Himalayas" simile. From an email sent to the UC Berkeley community yesterday morning:

Please Announce: UCMeP Selects UC Berkeley Spokesman Dan Mogulof as the Top Outstanding Oratorical Leader (TOOL) of the Year

Dear Mr. Mogulof,

...As the official spokesman of UC Berkeley, you have been there whenever our administrators, “fearing for their lives” were forced to hide in “undisclosed locations.” You have spoken courageously and eloquently on their behalf, waxing poetically on the value of autocracy during times of emergency...

Your words have been like a light in darkness, a sherpa in the Himalayas, guiding the UC community and the larger public to conclusions that we simply could not have arrived at without your help...

...For all of this and more, sir, UCMeP commends you and is pleased to name you the Top Outstanding Oratorical Leader (TOOL) of 2009. Your unflappable unashamedness, always-for-sale rhetorical talents, and wild imagination are to be applauded. You truly embody everything a TOOL stands for.

As UCMeP’s TOOL of the Year, we recognize that you are not simply an easily replaceable propagandist as some might claim (we’re looking at you, http://moguloflies.wordpress.com/). No, you are a first-rate (and highly paid) rhetorician who has studied the greats: Socrates and Shakespeare, Goebbels and Glenn Beck. You have mastered their secrets and clearly grasp that out of rhetoric’s holy trinity (ethos, logos, and pathos), the strategy of preying on populist emotion will always prevail. Who needs logic or ethics when you can mobilize fear to get your point across?

...UCMeP also commends you for your unwavering commitment to the welfare (sorry to use such an ugly word) of the University of California. Considering your paltry salary of $155,861.55 (http://ucpay.globl.org), it is clear that you cherish UC Berkeley more than the students you regularly vilify in the press. Of course, your love for the university runs deeper than that of the student with a 4.0 GPA (who plans to work for Teach for America after graduation) who you and Governor Schwarzenegger recently defamed as a terrorist.

...We encourage you to not take your award lightly. Being named UCMeP’s TOOL of the Year comes with high expectations. You have received it not only in recognition of your past achievements, but also your incredible potential. We encourage you to continue finding innovative ways to challenge the students at the University of California. Keep thinking of new words and phrases to defame a movement that so dangerously calls for democracy, equality, diversity, justice, and the end of police violence. We send our most heartfelt congratulations, and are most confident that you will live up to the high standards of being a TOOL.

Faithfully yours,

The UC Movement for Efficient Privatization (UCMeP)
Facebook: UC Movement for Efficient Privatization (UCMeP)


Dear Herringbone Messenger Purse

You were, in short, great. I think I bought you in the 7th grade, at Old Navy. I remember re-sewing the strap a couple times. I'm sorry I let the guys who robbed me take you away (and probably dump you somewhere, empty and alone), but there was a gun. I hope you understand.

Your friend in basic herringbone fashion


You have been recovered! Forlorn in a bush near the crime scene, a lovely officer brought you back at 2AM.


Dear Landlord With the Beige Jeep

You may have recently noticed, when backing into the middle parking space in front of our house, that you stopped. You probably thought this was due to your brakes, or hitting the curb, or some other such reasonable and responsible explanation.

Alas, no. In this instance you stopped because my car's pesky license plate jammed itself onto your trailer hitch. The rest of your SUV managed to avoid touching the top of my hood by mere millimeters, while you remained a casual 2 feet from the car in front of you. I'm sure there is a reasonable explanation for your careless parking job. Perhaps you were rushing inside to fix the problems in our apartment, like the busted doors or the backed-up sink or your child's tantrums (though I haven't seen the results yet...). Whatever the reason, please avoid parking so poorly in the future. It would really be great.

The blue Civic with the square-dented license plate, owned by your patient tenant downstairs


On living beneath one's landlords

My room is probably the quietest in our apartment, being completely isolated from everything else and its walls being filled with sand, but it also tends to amplify the noises I can hear: those through the sandless door and above my head. Mostly generated by the landlords' 9-year-old daughter, The Child.

I have learned her routine so thoroughly that I only half-wake at 7:15 every morning when she begins clomping around and bouncing a ball. The only exception being The Child's thankfully less routine tantrums, which involve a great deal of door-slamming, stomping, screaming, and the occasional throwing of things. I am not a light sleeper (I slept through earthquakes and a massive oak tree falling in our front yard as a child) so it's a little jarring to wake up regularly to outside forces that aren't, you know, natural disasters. Which is probably why the dreams I've been having lately are about The Child, including one in which she falls through the ceiling and this morning's where she enters my room and wants to play.



Negative Nancy

I feel like I should start blogging again, but I'm afraid that little I have to say these days would be positive, and I just feel like a broken record complaining about the same things.

Let's give it a shot.

The things I contemplate hourly:
-A 3BR apartment does NOT include "2 bedrooms and a partitioned living room." That's a 2BR with a partitioned living room.
-Why can't I pack until I get an apartment, and why can't I get an apartment until I get a job, and why can't I even get a job where my college degree is merely "preferred"?
-If you're merging in traffic, you still have to use a turn signal. It's like asking if I'm using the empty chair at my cafe table. I know you want it, but I'm less likely to let you have it if you don't ask.

...yeah, maybe I should stay on sabbatical until I have a regular income.


The cruel and bittersweet truth

I'm supposed to graduate in a couple hours, but I still have two large papers due tomorrow that I have barely started. LAME.


too brain dead for title or grammar

I wonder if the reason we call it "senioritis" is because there is a point in finals week during which you become physically incapable of re-memorizing facts, and it becomes worse to the point where you can barely bring yourself to care about re-memorizing facts. Maybe it appropriately bears the "itis" suffix, meaning "inflammation," as some indication of brain sufficiently swollen to the skull's capacity. And yet none of this pondering is really getting to the crux of the matter, which is, I am 7 days away from never having to experience this again and why does 7 days feel like centuries?

I apologize to any friends, family or acquaintances I will encounter this week. Most of my normal brain functions are currently muffled under a haze of regression lines, normal curve approximations, and expected values (for sum AND percents!). It doesn't help that I currently harbor enough enmity toward my Statistics book that selling it doesn't sound half as much fun as watching it burn.


Senioritis for overachievers

Over my academic career, from kindergarten to the present, I would not be exaggerating to admit to intentionally skipping fewer than 10 classes. Ever. Counting illnesses or field trips, that number goes up only as high as 20. And if I had my druthers, those numbers would be lower, but I am really adamant about missing class only when I absolutely have something more important to do. Like jury duty. Ha.

I think this places me in a special category of Nerd, but at the same time, having opted for a 21-unit final semester, I'm sort of tired. I have 20 days until graduation, by which time I will have written 20 pages worth of final exams, memorized 20 chapters of statistics and applied for 20 jobs (maybe).

I know I'll buckle down and do it, most likely as close to my deadlines as possible, but every single thing I do feels like such a chore.

In my first palpable symptom of senioritis, though, I've been late a couple of times to the class I'm auditing because I wanted a bagel on the way. Also, I don't think it's possible for me to stay up all night anymore. Apathy is better than Ambien.


Jury Duty

It's one thing to be stuck in a room, unpaid, with other unpaid and unpleasant people, none of whom want to be there except the unemployed person trying to feel useful.

It's wholly another thing to wait in the security line outside in the frigid morning breeze for 20 minutes for the opportunity to wait another two hours in a plastic folding chair for your name to be called to go on a break for another two hours, only to return after wandering the streets seeking WiFi to discover the court has postponed our call for another three hours (without telling us or giving us another break), at which point the court releases us because the defendant ultimately decided to settle.

Did I mention I probably would have been excused anyway, given that my parents would likely disinherit me if I served on a jury instead of graduating?

I am so glad the justice system is coordinated enough to waste everybody's time equally. No wonder prisons are overcrowded. If I had been put on a jury after all that, I'd call the defendant guilty, too.


91 days

Every day of my calendar has a tiny speck of pencil in the corner telling me how many days there are until graduation. I was so excited about having added myself to the degree list this semester that I immediately sat down and counted all of the days, which simultaneously made the end seem closer and farther away.

Right now, and probably until at least spring break, 91 days feels like an eternity of pushing boulders uphill. Not terribly difficult intellectually, but definitely requiring a good deal of effort. I declared to everyone who cared a while ago that I would never take 19 units again, and here I am with 21 (formerly 25, but then senioritis hit). It kind of sucks.

And in case anyone was wondering, I don't advise starting and completing a second major in two semesters unless you have absolutely nothing else to do with your time.

All of this is just me procrastinating reading Judith Butler, because I sincerely believe she is part of the reason I closed the rhetoric chapter of my education so quickly and ended up taking many many units and eating pasta more often than I could have dreamed. I guess it all comes full circle.


To the drunk who ruined my nose last night

I am so sorry that your efforts to charm me in front of my friends-- which wouldn't have worked anyway, Don Juan-- so utterly failed when your elbow solidly planted itself into my nose, and that the drink you bought me afterward, which my aforementioned friends had to persuade you to buy, utterly failed to prevent the dull but constant pain my nose has suffered the entire next day.

Or maybe it was picking me up and spinning me afterward, like if I was an infant and sufficiently distracted I would forget you had just hit me in the face. Or maybe it was fifteen minutes later, when you came back to our table and tried to make amends by kissing my nose. HARD. Which almost made it bleed again. Your efforts in this respect made some of my more testosterone-laden friends almost hit you in the face, and it took all of my remaining patience not to let them.

I can't smell anything right now, nor can I properly sip from a straw, and if you damaged my nose permanently I will totally bring those friends and find you in your beer-addled corner of Beckett's to return the favor.

Three days later, I still can't smell (save particularly putrid perfumes), but now the pain has subsided to the type of invisible bruising where I grow complacent and itch my nose, only to relive the pain all over again. I should be lucky I don't look awful, but who knew the tip of your nose touches so many things on a daily basis? This is living Heidegger's equipmentality! I am such a dork.


Women have totally ruined Valentine's Day

I don't celebrate Valentine's Day with any more vigor than I did when I was seven, which is to say, I still (approximately every other year) buy the Valentine's cards that seven-year-olds give to their classmates because their teachers made them.

Now, I don't mind friends and family giving each other Valentine's candy or cards, because there are no politics involved. It's just a nice thing to do and a convenient excuse to do it, and yeah it's commercialized and pink but who cares if there's Sees bordeaux bars or cherry Lifesavers involved? (Incidentally, those are my two favorite candies and the ones my mother has so kindly provided for many of my childhood Valentine's Days of yore)

But why, oh why, does it make seeing people--romantically or not--complicated? I don't want to ask someone for coffee or a drink before or after work tomorrow night (like any Saturday night), only to discover that they think this means something important, that they are My Valentine.

Here are my Valentine's Day plans: To see a basketball game with my dad, and then go to work. And that sounds awesome. I am totally stoked to sleep in and get a hot dog or whatever stadium fare basketball games offer. Not to mention, because it's a Cal-Stanford game, I can't wear red. So there.

I blame women for feeling obligated to even think about it. I recently began more actively swimming in the dating pool, so to speak, and it doesn't surprise me that I have no prospective dates for the weekend. Not that I have time for them, mind you, but suddenly people I've been speaking to have fallen off the face of the planet, probably because they think I am one of those people who will think that it means something more than usual to get a drink after work on February 14.

That this type of person is what a straight single man probably thinks of women (me included) is unfortunate and annoying. This entire discourse, of thinking something means something because of this stupid Hallmark holiday, is preposterous. Further, it causes my frustration with all things Valentine's to put me in a category of anti-romantics, which I wouldn't necessarily consider myself.

Why are women to blame? Because in all things related to love, we are most often the ones attributed to totally irrational behavior and overthinking, which is precisely what Valentine's Day has become: a totally irrational and overthought "holiday."



New year, new post

Obviously I've given up on this blogging thing, and I worry that the waning of this phase in life means that I am the kind of person who perpetually waxes and wanes through various phases and fads. This was true as a child but I had always felt like I would grow up someday and, you know, find and become committed to my true passion. Not that blogging was destined to be, like, my true passion or anything, but I would hope that through all of these phases the light at the end of the tunnel would be there

I also worry that this means I will wax and wane through career choices, and I'm not sure whether these recent reflections say more about my anxieties about life in general or if they actually reflect some kind of truth about my future.

In any case, 2009 will be an exciting year for many reasons. The two most important ones: I will become an aunt AND a college graduate. I've decided to stay in the Bay Area for at least another year's lease and see where that takes me. And even though it sickens me to think about this right now, I remain open to the possibility that I will become so bored with life that law or grad school will become suddenly appealing next fall, in which case I'll take the necessary tests and send off applications and such.

Now, I know that "law or grad school" is like deciding between buying a duplex in Rockridge or a penthouse in San Francisco--equally expensive but totally different-- but I truly have not given it any thought beyond the conceptual ideas. I do not wish to become a lawyer in the long term, but could envision myself as, say, a judge or legal secretary or law professor or something. I have no idea what I would study in grad school; that's just if I decide I hate law school but still want to dick around without a real job.