Burning and Frigid

*Edited to note: Maybe this blog entry will be less boring if I had a Calvin & Hobbes strip at the end? GREAT IDEA.*

I changed my blog URL. There is a long explanation for why, upon which I am not going to embark. Instead, I am going to explain the choice of phrase: “burning and frigid.” It comes from the incomparable Albert Camus, and his incomparable Myth of Sisyphus:

The absurd man thus catches sight of a burning and frigid, transparent and limited universe in which nothing is possible but everything is given, and beyond which all is collapse and nothingness. He can then decide to accept such a universe and draw from it his strength, his refusal to hope, and the unyielding evidence of a life without consolation.

It sounds depressing, but it isn’t. The point is: live anyway. If you prefer, you can look at it the way Thomas Walker looks at it:

Life is better than death, I believe, if only because it is less boring and because it has fresh peaches in it.

Or, if you’re not a particular fan of fresh peaches, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind‘s way:

Clementine: This is it, Joel. It’s going to be gone soon.
Joel: I know.
Clementine: What do we do?
Joel: Enjoy it.

In The Myth of Sisyphus, Camus characterizes humanity as longing for meaning in a meaningless world. It is a paradox, of sorts. Transparent and limited. Burning and frigid.

But, it’s not all getting worse. His conclusion:

It was previously a question of finding out whether or not life has to have a meaning to be lived. It now becomes clear, on the contrary, that it will be lived all the better if it has no meaning.

The point is, if you want to quit your job and raise alpacas, or quit your job and move to an island – or WHATEVER you need to do – Camus is probably on board.

Posted in Calvin & Hobbes, Literature | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment


Plans have changed again, and now I am definitely Cologne-bound. WOW. This must really be an emotional roller-coaster ride for the avid readers of my blog! Well, all three of you can relax now. The pressing is-she-going-to-Cologne-or-is-she-not-going-to-Cologne question has been answered definitively. PLEASE DO NOT ASK ME WHY THIS HAS CHANGED SO MANY TIMES. Traveling is hard. Anyway, so yes, I will be flying into Frankfurt and then taking a train to Cologne. There I will be picked up by two colleagues who are NOT jet-lagged, and who will thus almost certainly find me quite unpleasant. It’s going to be pretty great.

IN ANTICIPATION OF MY TRIP TO GERMANY, and because I like to pretend I am a scholar of German philosophy (I am not) who may someday read German philosophers in their original language (I will not), I AM CONSIDERING TAKING A GERMAN LANGUAGE CLASS. Unless I decide NOT to take a German language class, which is possible, because it is very expensive, and will pretty much rob me of my Sundays for the next three months.


  1. I’m concerned there would be no votes.
  2. I’m concerned there would be a MILLION votes, because my brother rigged up some sort of weird Microsoft-enabled electronic voting thing that selected “Yes (Ja)” and then added comments consisting of randomly-generated names of cheeses.

Actually, neither of those is true. The reason I didn’t insert a poll is that, in order to do so, I had to sign up for a website other than WordPress. I AM TIRED OF SIGNING UP FOR WEBSITES. Also, the website was called…”Poll Daddy.”

To summarize:

  • I am going to Cologne.
  • I may take a German language course.
  • I did not sign up for Poll Daddy.

Okay, I wasn’t going to say anything, but I changed my mind: AM I THE ONLY ONE WHO THINKS POLL DADDY IS AN ABSURD AND VAGUELY DIRTY NAME?!

Posted in Words | Tagged , | 5 Comments

Not Actually Cologne-Bound At All, In Fact

So, here’s the thing. It turns out I don’t know anything about German trains, and that I misunderstood something or other from someone or other, and as a result I was completely wrong about taking a train from Frankfurt to Cologne to Bonn. I am not doing this at all! Of which my mildly alarmed colleague informed me first thing Monday morning, having read my misinformed blog entry. Thank you, mildly alarmed colleague! And sorry for mildly alarming you. Anyway, everything is fine, and I probably will not accidentally end up in Berlin.

Also guys, it’s actually Köln, not Cologne, and I don’t know why we Americans need to add all those extra letters. Maybe it’s because in order to do the umlaut I had to google “koln” and then copy and paste the umlauted “o” from the Interwebs. Maybe it’s also because I just made “umlaut” an adjective, which it almost certainly cannot be. Okay, fine. I get it. AMERICANS CANNOT HANDLE FOREIGN THINGS LIKE UMLAUTS UMLAUTE.*

In other news, 99% of people have told me that I should see a doctor about my tick bite, including several people who are in training to be doctors themselves. However, I intend to ignore all of them, and instead go with the advice of my father, who had this to say:

Me: Dad, I maybe got a tick bite. I don’t have to go to the doctor, right?
Dad: You MAYBE got a tick bite?
Me: Well. Sure. I mean, I didn’t EXAMINE it. I’m not a BIOLOGIST. Or an endologist, or whatever the -gist is that does bugs.
Dad: But did it look like a tick.
Me: Well. Yes.
Dad:And did it stick in your skin a little.
Me: Wellllllll, yes.
Dad: And were you in the woods.
Me: Yessss….
Dad: Eh, I wouldn’t worry about it.

So, shut up everyone. My dad cleaned teeth on an aircraft carrier and HE KNOWS STUFF.

*Edited to note the third reason Americans cannot handle an umlaut: IT IS REALLY CONFUSING TO PLURALIZE.

Posted in Bugs | Tagged | 1 Comment

Out of Sorts

I learned two very important lessons this weekend:

1. When you are out of sorts, you should NOT drink dirty martinis, because then you will probably pick a fight with someone in the middle of Kenmore Square.

2. When you are out of sorts, you SHOULD go on a hike in the middle of nowhere, AND THEN YOU SHOULD DEFINITELY CHECK YOUR LEFT ARM FOR TICKS AFTER.

I guess that’s three very important lessons. Big weekend.

Ticks live here.


I just looked up the origin of the phrase “out of sorts,” and one theory is that it comes from typesetting. Let’s agree, this is interesting and oddly appropriate!

Posted in Bugs, I hate people, Words | Leave a comment

I have this “Poetry” category.

I guess I should use it more.

Asters (Gottfried Benn)
-translation by Leo Yankevich-

Asters—sweltering days,
old entreaty, spell,
the gods shed timid rays,
an hour upon the scale.

Once more the golden flocks,
the sky, the light, the veil.
What breeds the familiar flux
of wings before they fail?

Once more now the lust,
the rush of roses, and you—
the summer’s leaned to watch
the swallows skirt the dew,

and once more does not falter,
sure dark precedes new light:
the swallows drink the water
and fade into the night.

Posted in Poetry, Words | Tagged , | 2 Comments


Okay, fine. Technically I’m Bonn-bound, not Cologne-bound. But I’m BEGINNING the trip in Cologne, so…there you go.

Okay, FINE. Technically I’m beginning the trip in Frankfurt, not Cologne. And technically I’m barely going to be in Cologne at all. BUT BEN FOLDS DID NOT WRITE A SONG ABOUT BONN OR FRANKFURT GUYS. So this entry is titled “Cologne-Bound,” and if anyone has a problem with that, well, sucks to your ass-mar.

(“Sucks to your ass-mar” is a Lord of the Flies allusion that only my sister and brother will get. I really wish more people were familiar with it, because then everyone would understand that it’s a pretty great comeback in almost any situation. And also, then more people would have read Lord of the Flies, which is a phenomenal book.)

Anyway. The point is, I’m going to Germany on June 4. I will be flying into Frankfurt (with a stopover in Reykjavik), taking a train to Cologne, and then taking a train to Bonn, where I will spend a week working in our Bonn office and probably also drinking with colleagues. (Not at the same time! Don’t worry.) This will surely be fantastic, except for the uncomfortable miscommunications that will inevitably occur. Because, here’s the thing, I am REALLY GOOD at miscommunicating with some of my German colleagues. EXAMPLE! The other day I jokingly emailed one of them with the subject line “REALLY IMPORTANT QUESTION” and demanded to know whose office I would be sharing in Bonn. This was a joke! Obviously this is not a really important question AT ALL. Unfortunately, it caused a flurry of activity involving three other people, until the question of offices was firmly and officially resolved weeks in advance of when it actually needed to be. I can only assume this was accomplished at the expense of signing several incredibly important titles, and thus resulting in a significant loss of revenue. Wow! Good job, me. Also, the solution to the office situation is so complicated that I don’t even understand it. Someone’s moving for some days, and someone else is moving for other days, and then I’m moving, and then Florian’s desk is going in the basement.

THAT IS OBVIOUSLY A JOKE ABOUT THE BASEMENT but seriously I really do not understand the seating arrangements.

Anyway, once THAT enormous problem was resolved, I joked about how I was really excited to use this weird machine they have that carbonates water (seriously! that is a thing they have in the Bonn office!), and told my colleague that if it is really as great as I am imagining (WILL IT FIX FLAT COKE?!) then I guess I will probably never go back to Boston. He didn’t actually respond to that email, so I can only assume that he thought I was asking if I could move in with him and his wife and child, and is currently pondering ways to let me down gently. Either that, or is very busy constructing a third bedroom in his apartment.

The point is, my German colleagues and I make each other miserable, and we should probably not be allowed to talk to each other ever.

Posted in I hate people | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Kitchen Disaster

Sometimes, you feel like making cookies enough to want to go through the trouble of getting out ingredients, measuring them, mixing them (with your electric mixer that only has one functional beater), spooning them out onto cookie sheets, and baking them…but not QUITE enough to want to drive to the store to get all the proper ingredients.

Let me tell you, guys: This is the EXACT WRONG amount to want to make cookies.

The original title of this blog entry (in my mind) was “Cookies make everything better.” So, you can imagine how unhappy I’m feeling right about now.


Posted in Bad ideas, I hate people | 2 Comments

Dogs or Gorillas or Something

So, I have a job, and it is pretty great. I AM NOT JUST SAYING THIS BECAUSE MY CO-WORKERS READ MY BLOG. It is actually great. It’s interesting, and challenging, and a lot of times there are pretzel M&Ms, which, in case you have not tried them, are maybe the most wonderful candy every invented, and frankly I cannot even begin to comprehend why it took so long for them to be a thing. IT IS PRETZEL AND CHOCOLATE IN A CONVENIENT MELT-IN-YOUR-MOUTH-NOT-IN-YOUR-HAND PACKAGE!

Okay. But this blog entry is not about pretzel M&Ms.

So, because of the greatness, and because of the M&Ms, it is totally worth driving 40 miles each way to get to work. And then, on top of those things, it turns out that my co-workers happen to be awesome. We eat lunch together every day, and it is not an unusual occurrence for me to have to remove my glasses because I am crying with laughter. Also, one time I talked about coke nails and I didn’t even get fired!

Anyway, here is a conversation that we had today.

Me: My brother saw a DEAD DOG on the side of the road today! I told him he should move back from Seattle, because that doesn’t happen in Massachusetts.
Co-worker #1: Is he sure it was a DOG?
Me: Yes.
Co-worker #2: Maybe it was a coyote.
Me: No, it was a dog.
Co-worker #1: Could it have been a fox?
Me: No! It was a dog!
Co-worker #3: Perhaps it was a wombat.
Everyone: [awkward silence]
Co-worker #4: Once I saw a grizzly bear and thought it was a gorilla.


Posted in I love animals more than people, I love people | Leave a comment

Guns and Books are Basically the Same

The other day, I watched exactly twenty minutes of Glenn Beck. Now, twenty minutes is not a particularly long time. For example, I cannot get to work in twenty minutes. I cannot go grocery shopping in twenty minutes. I cannot go to the dentist in twenty minutes. I cannot even get ready in the MORNING in twenty minutes. But, take my word for it: when you’re watching Glenn Beck, twenty minutes is actually A FUCKING ETERNITY.

Obviously, Glenn Beck said a lot of objectionable things in the twenty minutes I watched him. I could probably write an entire blog entry about each one! But, instead, I’m going to focus on one of his tamer statements, mainly because it’s going to give me the opportunity to refer everyone to an Eddie Izzard joke. In other words, GET READY FOR SOME SOPHISTICATED COMMENTARY GUYS.

Anyway, so Glenn’s waxing philosophical about how we shouldn’t hate Muslims (okay! we agree on something!), and how people should definitely turn to God to solve all their problems (well! that was fun while it lasted!), or something, and JUST as I am about to go into a trance due to the mesmerizing whiteness of his luscious head of hair, he says:

Books don’t kill people! Why…that’s as ridiculous as saying GUNS kill people!

Okay. Let’s break this statement down. “Books don’t kill people.” Yes! I am on board with this. And, furthermore, I am an EXPERT on the topic, because I work in publishing and can personally attest to the fact that, if I could have killed people with books, several of my authors would probably be dead now. Good.

Next: “Why…that’s as ridiculous as saying GUNS kill people!” Okay, now here’s where the trouble arises. Clearly, this is an allusion to the NRA’s clever and pithy pro-gun slogan – “Guns don’t kill people. People do.” – which was probably something they came up with after Columbine happened and they were like “Oh shit! This is not going to look awesome for us.” (Whatever. I don’t actually know the origin of this saying. Look it up if you care.) But, here’s the thing…THAT IS ACTUALLY A DUMB SLOGAN, IF YOU THINK ABOUT IT AT ALL. This is the part where I refer you to an Eddie Izzard joke.

I mean, let’s agree. The scenario in which I kill someone with a book is pretty hard to envision. Maybe dropping ABAP-Referenz from a great height directly onto someone’s head would do the trick, but imagine the effort and timing that this would require. Not efficient! On the other hand, envisioning a scenario in which I kill someone with a gun is pretty easy. I have a gun! I shoot it! Wow. I didn’t even have to climb any stairs.

The point is, I would like to see a video of Glenn Beck throwing books at deer.

Posted in Bad ideas, Rants, Rightwing dickwads | Tagged , | 1 Comment

I hate people. I love people.

So, when I was a senior in high school, I decided to try out that whole “dark and depressed moody teenager” thing. I was pretty good at it! My hair was dyed “plum,” I identified with books like The Bell Jar, and sometimes I would write terrible poetry. All in all, not a bad attempt at being cliche. During this time, a very dear friend of mine wrote me a letter (of encouragement; I think he was concerned about the poetry), and concluded with: “I hate people. I love people. I know it seems strange, but I honestly feel both ways.”

Most of the time, I hate people. I don’t like crowds, I don’t like cities, I don’t like small talk with strangers. If I’m given the choice between meeting someone new and hanging out at home by myself, the former is not even considered. If I could choose a superpower, it would probably be invisibility. Etc., etc.

AND YET. This weekend, I was in line at Dunkin’ Donuts, and my bill came up to $3.91. I said, “Hold on one second – let me see if I have a penny.” As I dug around in my purse, I could see the old woman next to me hovering, as if she wanted to break in. When I finally came up with the change, she leaned in and we had the following exchange:

Woman: If you hadn’t found a penny, I would have given you one.
Me: Oh! Thank you!
Woman: One time I was at a delicatessen that only accepted cash, and the woman in front of me didn’t have any. She was going to leave without her food, so I paid for her.
Me: Aw. How nice of you!
Woman: [waves her hand in the air as she walks away] I just said, “Make sure you do the same for someone else some time!”

I hate people. But, sometimes, they’re not so bad.

Posted in I love people | Leave a comment