wZandria - Keep Up With Me
Age 23 * Richmond, VA * full-time college student * part-time call center * love to read and write * skeptic * quiet * thinker * independent * VISIT MY PHOTO WEBSITE


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wTuesday, April 29, 2003


PRESENTING...

I made it through the presentation this afternoon with my nerves pretty much intact. I hate being in front of people. I will do mostly anything to avoid that type of situation. I think it helped that the format was very low-key, and I’d prepared everything I needed to say beforehand, which always helps. The girl that I was partnered with did a really good job with our poster, and I got compliments on both of the foods that I brought in (yaaaaayyyy!).

I think with me and public speaking, I know HOW it’s supposed to be done, but I tend to lose track too easily. In the beginning of my speech I was fine because everything I wanted to say was going smoothly – I had notes in front of me but I was paraphrasing in my own words and not reading directly off the paper. Then something as simple as a sentence that I stumbled over, where I was trying to explain something that I knew in my HEAD but couldn’t find the right words for, just threw my concentration off. I finished okay but it wasn’t the same; I could hear my voice change and get shaky. I think if I didn’t get so nervous, I wouldn’t be all that bad in getting up in front of people because technically I have an idea of how it should be done. Say things that get your audience’s attention. Project your voice. (There were people going up there who didn’t seem nervous at all but they were just BORING – who wants to hear someone reading words directly off a paper – and in a monotone at that?) Personalize what you say. Throw in something random and unexpected if possible. Who wants to hear about the average temperatures in Guatemala? That’s not the type of information that people will remember five minutes later.



posted by Zandria at 11:39 PM


w


ZAN COOKS

I just finished making some damn good Mexican rice pudding (well not just finished, it was about an hour and a half ago, but still). Those who know me know that I don’t cook very often, but I must say that when I put my mind to it the results are usually pretty good. At least I know how to follow directions – which to me sounds like a pretty easy requirement, but apparently some people find it difficult. Most of the time I just choose not to make the effort, as it does require a bit of time (especially when you’re not familiar with the recipe).

This recent cooking foray is for my final Spanish class tomorrow; we had to pick a country and get in groups of two to make a presentation to the rest of the class. My partner and I will take turns talking, she’s in charge of our visuals (pictures and poster board), and I volunteered to do the cooking. I’m also making guacamole but I can’t finish putting that together until tomorrow (guacamole has to be made and then served pretty much right away, apparently because avocados start to darken soon after being cut up – new information to me!…this will be my first guacamole experience as well). I’m just worried about the avocados because they’re not as ripe as I’d like; I put them in a paper bag on the counter so hopefully that will hasten the ripening process a little bit before tomorrow morning (thanks for the tip, sis!).

Can I just go back to the rice pudding for a second, and say that it took much longer to make than I thought because after you cook the rice, you have to add all this milk and then heat it slllloooowwwllllyyy until it thickens in consistency? It took a good 45 minutes, minimum, if not longer. And at least the last 30 minutes of that cooking time I was stirring it constantly (per the directions – I wasn’t taking any chances with doing something wrong, not when my grade is resting on the food that I bring in!). But it’s all done now, and it turned out good, so that’s all that matters. Now I’ll be set not to cook anything else from scratch for another six months (or three years? who’s counting….?).



posted by Zandria at 12:28 AM


wSaturday, April 26, 2003


TYPICAL CRAZY FRIDAY

I was driving behind a white truck yesterday, when a phrase written on the back tailgate, in big, bold, black letters caught my eye: "Let’s Talk Dirty." The power of advertising – choose something catchy so that the people who see your ad will wonder what the company is about, when otherwise they may not have given it a second thought. The slogan worked, because as I passed the truck I looked at the company’s name on the drivers-side door: Clean Sweep Chimney Service. It reminded me of an ad that my aunt told me about last year when I was living in California – a local sewage company in her town used the slogan: "We’re #1 in the #2 Business."

While on the phone at work, a customer brought up the topic (now I don’t remember why) of those handles that are located in some cars above the windows. I’m not sure the handles have a purpose other than the obvious, which is to grab onto for leverage (if so needed). The reason I thought it was funny at the time was because this customer referred to them as "Jesus handles." When I questioned his use of the term, he replied, "You know, because of what you yell when you have to grab on to them: ‘Oh Jesus!’" This made perfect sense to me because a few years ago one of my friends introduced me to THEIR name for them: "Oh s**t handles." Because of course, when you grab on to them, the phrase that comes to mind tends to be: "Oh s**t, oh s**t!" Except I kept this to myself in this particular instance, as I didn’t think it was an appropriate term to be sharing with a customer over the phone.

It was raining hard when I left work, so the visibility was pretty bad. Unfortunately, the visibility wasn’t bad enough for me to miss the view of the tow-truck driver loading up a disabled car at a busy intersection. I was waiting in my lane to make a left, and the tow truck was on my right in the very next lane. As the driver bent over to secure the car to his vehicle, his shirt rode up, revealing at least the entire upper half of that crack that’s not supposed to see the light of day. It was not a pretty sight.



posted by Zandria at 2:43 PM


wFriday, April 25, 2003


This is just the perfect example of how short life is, and how helpless we really are when it comes to our destiny. This man was fishing, enjoying some nice leisurely time with a friend, and…BAM! He’s struck and killed by a 600-pound boulder. Not murdered in a bad part of town, not mangled in a car accident, not burned alive in a fire…a boulder.



posted by Zandria at 10:17 AM


wTuesday, April 22, 2003


"DON’T TAKE MY PICTURE!…"

This afternoon I was driving home from class, and I thought about how beautiful it is outside right now, with spring still here and the heat of summer a few months off. I wish that I had my digital camera with me, but it’s not a surprise to me that I didn’t. I have a theory about the different ways people see me when I’m carrying a camera (and this can go for anyone, not just myself). I’m either seen as a 1) tourist, with 2) suspicion, or 3) just generally unwelcome.

1) The term "tourist" automatically brings up an image of a pot-bellied man in a foreign country, complete with a Hawaiian shirt and a camera attached to a strap around his neck. This is probably why I avoid taking my camera along to new places, even when I want to. I don’t think I necessarily care that people would label me a tourist, but then again I suppose I DO care to a certain extent, if I’m letting that negative connotation determine my actions.

2) I took my camera to work one day because I wanted to take a picture of the trees that border the parking lot. I don’t know what kind of trees they are, but for a week or two each spring they’re covered with brilliant while blooms until they fall off and are replaced by normal green leaves. Very beautiful. Anyway, so as I stand there with my camera, some random people walking through the parking lot happen to see me standing there. I’m like whatever, I don’t care, but I can see the suspicion on their faces. "What’s up with her? What is she doing? She’d better not get a picture of ME with that thing." That’s right, when I scroll through the pictures later on the computer that I’ve taken, I REALLY want to see some random sour-faced call center employee.

3) I don’t think that most people really care when their picture is taken, they just don’t want to ADMIT that they don’t care. If you don’t have a job as a fashion model, where your job is to be photographed for a living, then it seems to be more acceptable to cower away when a camera is presented. Either that, or show indifference ("I suppose so…"). My younger sister is a good example of the "cower" approach, when I don’t honestly think she minds. "Don’t take my picture!…" she’ll say, while at the same time pausing in whatever she’s doing to cock her head to a more flattering angle (and of course, flash a smile). There are, of course, those people who never seem to have a decent photo taken of them (my mom being one of those where, in most shots, her eyes are fully or half-closed).

For all the photos that we take where they are expected and posed, the best ones are the candid shots. How else would we catch those haunting photographs, with the far-off look in a person’s eye when caught unaware? And untold numbers can look at a photo for decades, and wonder what was going on in the mind of the subject at that particular moment in time. A moment that was there once and will never be again. I think I may start to become more annoying in the future. Cower all you want.



posted by Zandria at 9:23 PM


wSunday, April 20, 2003


More of Mark Morford’s opinions on the war. I like how he tells it the way he sees it. His views, though they may not be exactly like everyone else’s, at least give a different perspective – and, I admit, some new information and things to think about before just going along with a more passive view.

NY Times article about how London has made improvements in the amount of traffic in their overpopulated city. Could it happen in New York? This article says not likely, because the mayor who tries to pass stricter laws on the amount of cars in the city (by raising rates, for instance) would essentially be committing political career suicide.



posted by Zandria at 10:36 PM


wWednesday, April 16, 2003


SOMETIMES IT JUST HAPPENS ALL AT ONCE

It didn’t start out as a crazy day. It just became that way these past few hours. Just out-of-the-ordinary things that don’t normally all happen right at once. (Gotta LOVE when that happens, right? Shake life up a little bit…)

First off, I really like my Wednesday night American Lit class, but as I’ve said before the professor likes to keep us there up until the very last minute. The class is from 7-9:40pm, and by the time I walked across the parking lot tonight back to my car and turned on the ignition (thereby illuminating the clock), it was exactly 9:45. Can’t get much closer than that. Anyway, so this professor is a real character. He’s in his late fifties; balding, close-cropped white hair and a white beard; large belly. He tends to ramble when he talks. One of the stories he told us tonight is a good example of his character. He told us about this past January 1st, around 1am, so it was just past New Year’s Eve. He and his wife live across the street from a church, and his wife happened to look out the window and see these two cars side-by-side in the parking lot at that early hour of the morning, and thought that a drug deal must be going on. So she called the cops. By the time two police cars arrive, one from each direction of the road at the same time, it has become apparent that the people in these two cars are not drug dealers. They are buck naked, yes, "going at it" on the hood of one of the cars (the professor said it must have been the warmest place they could think of at the moment, as being January in Virginia it was a pretty cold night). The police arrive, the woman jumps off the car and cowers behind the car (hmmm…he never did mention what the guy did). That was the end of the story. And no, it probably didn’t have anything to do with the author we were talking about at the time, but well…okay, enough about that.

Two messages on my cell phone after class. Three messages on the home phone, but I don’t find that out until a little bit later of course. Two of the three messages on the home phone were from the guy that I talked about here on 4/1/03. There is some kind of dire emergency going on that I need to return his call very soon, but the second message said that he and his girlfriend are staying with someone where it wasn’t a good idea to call after 10pm, so to call tomorrow. As I didn’t get the call until around 10:15, I haven’t called him back. To tell the truth, I didn’t return any of the calls. I’ll have plenty of time tomorrow. I hope everything’s okay.

When I walked in, nobody was home, so I’m turning on the lights and trying to get settled. All I want to do is take my contacts out, change into some comfortable clothes. I move next to the coffee table in the middle of the floor and pick up the remote to turn it to some news channel (I like having the TV on in the background when I’m doing other things, even if I’m not sitting down watching it). Elissa’s cat jumps up on the coffee table and starts rubbing his head against the leg of my jeans, so I’m absentmindedly scratching the cat’s ears with my left hand, the television remote is in my right hand, and at the same time I’m shrugging off my backpack, my purse, and the lunch bag that I took to work today. At this moment the cat decides to go spastic and LEAPS from the coffee table onto the front of my shirt, hanging there by her claws until I knock her away. What’s up with THAT? This is why I don’t like cats. Too unpredictable.

So then I finally put my stuff away and change my clothes, and go into the bathroom to take out my contacts. That’s where I see a note from my dad, who must have been here earlier in the evening to drop off my brothers. (They’re on spring break this week from school so they spent a few days out of town with him in Buckingham. He’ll drop them off at me and my sister’s house and then one of us will take them back to mom’s later.) The note was written on the first available paper-y surface, which was a piece of toilet paper, torn off and spread out to display the message: "Hello Zan. I love U. Dad." Too cute. Somewhat off-the-wall, but cute. Oh well, at least it was unexpected.



posted by Zandria at 10:55 PM


wTuesday, April 15, 2003


COMMERCIALISM

The other day on TV, a prominent toy store was advertising their deals on toys...for the upcoming EASTER holiday. I think commercialism really goes too far, especially when they appeal to an impressionable group like kids. Kids start thinking that because it’s a holiday, they’re automatically owed something. TV tells them this is the case, and when the mass media says this is what we need because by golly it’s a HOLIDAY AND WE MUST CELEBRATE, then subsequently parents/teachers/lovers must follow or else deal with the questions. ("What? You’re parents didn’t get you anything for Easter? What’s WRONG with them? Are they human? Do they really love you?")

The huge corporations are only too eager to go along, which is easily apparent in those aisles at Wal-Mart dedicated to the nearest upcoming event – currently, piles of oversized pastel-colored bunnies; cheap plastic baskets filled with who-knows-what (or who-really-cares?); and…the candy. Chocolate of every imaginable type, enclosed in shells like M&Ms or molded into Cadbury Eggs or the required hollow chocolate bunny. Jelly beans. Peeps.

There is nothing wrong with candy. I think that everyone should have candy if they want it. But geez, go out and buy candy for yourself or your kids because you want to, or because you’re having a craving for a caramel-filled egg, not just because it’s Easter. (Oh, that’s right – I almost forgot. It’s perfectly okay because…it’s a holiday. Silly me.) Why is it, when I think of Easter, that I automatically get a picture in my head of some bratty kid stuffing their face with the last remnants of their Easter basket? Moderation. More people need to learn the meaning.

I have to go now. I’m off to get my picture taken with Mr. Easter Bunny at the mall.



posted by Zandria at 6:12 PM


wFriday, April 11, 2003


LET'S TALK ABOUT WAR

There are still other sides to this war. Even though the protests have slowed, that doesn't mean that the support is all there. Mark Morford gives us his view. Check out this link that he gives in his most article, for those who haven't seen it yet, it details the Project for the New American Century. Is everything really a big conspiracy? Is there anything that we can believe anymore? I'd rather be cynical than naive though. It's hard for me to listen to a lot of the stuff they say on the news because I'm constantly wondering if it's the whole story. The news networks edit stories into just as much as they want us to know. Look at that reporter in Iraq, who was reporting for both National Geographic Explorer and the NBC/MSNBC families. He granted an interview with an Iraqi television station where he gave his personal point of view, and because the networks didn't agree with his statements and felt he shouldn't have done so, he was fired. I'm not saying he was in the right for what he did, because of course reporters are supposed to be objectionable. But it just seems kind of extreme. "Don't give us your own opinion if it happens to differ from what we want the U.S. public to hear."

While we're on the subject, let's hear it for all the people taking advantage of the war to earn some more money.



posted by Zandria at 10:45 PM


wWednesday, April 09, 2003


WHAT A WASTED MORNING

I had an appointment scheduled this morning in Charlottesville with the surgeon that operated on my back. (For those who don’t know, I had surgery in late July 2001 to correct a curve in my spine with steel rods.) It was just for a check-up, I haven’t had any problems, but I figured since the last time I saw him he’d asked me to come back after a certain period of time just to make sure everything was going okay, that he’d at least want to take some x-rays. Nope. I drove 70 miles one way to sit in the waiting room for 15 minutes, get my height/weight checked, and then the doctor came in and talked to me for about 10 minutes. I don’t have anything bad to say about this doctor, he’s a really great guy and I’ve never had any problems with my back since the operation. But REALLY now…if there wasn’t a purpose to me driving an hour to see him, just to be asked if everything was going okay, and he didn’t see the need to have any new x-rays taken to compare against my old ones…why do they even ask me to come back? It’s not like I wouldn’t call them if something DID come up. At least during this visit he didn’t say anything about coming back again. Because I would have been like, “WHAT FOR?” Oh well, I guess it’s better to drive around a little bit and pay my $15 co-pay, have a nice chat with the doctor, than to go there and have some bad news. (Like “OH MY GOD – IMMEDIATE SURGERY IS NEEDED TO CORRECT THIS HORRIBLE THING THAT WE JUST FOUND OUT!”) Hey, you never know.

So he asked how I was doing, asked after my mom (she accompanied me to several pre-op appointments that I had with him and he knows how nervous she was about the process – in fact, she was more nervous than I was and I was the one who was having the surgery!). He also was duly impressed with the fact that I can now not only touch my toes (a request that I’ve been asked to perform every time I’ve seen him), but past my toes, which is the first time I’ve been able to do so since we met years ago. Because of the way my spine was curved, the closest I was able to get to my toes (pre-surgery) was about a foot away.



posted by Zandria at 5:52 PM


wTuesday, April 08, 2003


HOW DO YOU GET TO ME?

There’s this place I can go to online and see what kind of things people search for in order to reach my site. I hadn’t visited it in a while before the other day, because usually there aren’t many interesting things on it. Since most of the traffic on this site (at least the first few months) was from family and friends that I had shared the web address with, and those people that THEY had given the address to, most of the links showed that they were coming from personal computers and direct bookmarks. (No, I can’t see specific information like who in particular is logging on, or from where, or anything like that.) What the information shows is how they got to my website, if they linked to mine from ANOTHER site, like a search engine for instance. Now that I’ve been blogging for 6-7 months, I have enough archived information and keywords that internet search engines will sometimes display my site when someone goes in and searches for something that match some keywords that I included in my writing.

So for instance, I can tell how some people linked to my site, using the search engines Google, Yahoo, and AOL Search as the major ones. I got the most links when I wrote about the space shuttle Colombia disaster, when I mentioned the singer Pink, when I talked about Devin’s "Spongebob Squarepants" costume he had for Halloween, the entry about license plates (remember "PEFEXUN?"), and even some for the link I included about the hot sauce bearing Tonya Harding’s name.

Here are some of the other keywords used by people during their online searches, when they made their way to my site (with the original spelling and capitalization):

"employees" "casino morongo"
los angeles "ride the bull" "sunset strip" bars
plastic license plate holder with cute sayings
texas license plate with spaceshuttle on it
Spanish vanity license plates
"Christina Aguilera" mormon
pigsass
madisons bar grill westwood
Madisons+Westwood
Zandria Paris
Zandria Black
keep up resolution
keep me for a day
the ordinary work day
"beautiful snow" "damn snow"
2003 customers opinion of zan s a
school zone WA speeding ticket
Spongebob Math Homework Books

My favorites:

amber trying to lift me
girl died finding spongebob
damn creek buckingham virginia
tonya harding's butt in pictures



posted by Zandria at 11:10 PM


wSunday, April 06, 2003


I got my baby back on Friday, after being in the body shop for five days. Now she’s as good as new…well, everything except for the license plate itself. I figured since it had gotten all bent-up that they would just leave it off, but apparently they have something that flattens it out because it was back on the front when I picked up my car. It just looks kind of funky. Newly-painted bumper and ghetto-looking license plate? Doesn’t fit.
When I got home on Friday, Elissa came in shortly after I did. When I heard the front door open I yelled from another room: “My baby’s back!”

Silence. “What baby are you talking about?”

“Hel-lo. My baby. In the driveway.”

As if there’d be any other?

*****************************************************

Yesterday afternoon I went my friends Chris M. and Chris E. to the Canal Walk in downtown Richmond. I’d heard about it before and seen the signs, and I’ve known a few people who have checked it out, but I’d never been before. It was a gorgeous day, perfect for spending outdoors (before I left to go there I’d been at my brother Isaac’s Little League game at his school). I think the total loop we went on ended up being over 3 miles, so we were pretty tired by the time it was over. It was interesting though, and good exercise – you have to walk up and down all these steps at various intervals, and at the end we went over this bridge that crossed the James River. At that point it turned into a separate hiking trail that you could follow to go to some Civil-war era cemetery, but we turned around before reaching it. Thanks to Chris for letting me borrow a pair of sneakers before we left his house, my dumb ass had arrived in flat sandals – it would have been much tougher walking (including sore feet) if I hadn’t changed.



posted by Zandria at 1:16 PM


wTuesday, April 01, 2003


DRAMA

Are certain people genetically disposed to have drama happen in their lives? Or, depending on the way we choose to live our lives, maybe drama is just destined to follow? I say this because I talked with a friend of mine on the phone tonight, and this guy has just had one thing after another happen to him his entire life. I won’t go into any personal detail, but I’ll suffice it to say that I’ve seen him through more than one rough time, and I know he thinks of me as one of his best friends. That’s all we’ve ever been – friends (he’s always teased me that I would never date him anyway because he’s shorter than I am) – but I’ve known him for about six years now, and I’ve seen him through several failed relationships and various life dramas. I remember clearly the night I got a phone call from him (summer of ’98 to be exact, because I was living with my mom at the time, it was after my freshman year at VCU and shortly before I moved back to Richmond to live with Elissa and Devin). The love of his life had broken up with him for another man (in retrospect, a man that she’s been happily married to for about four years now), and he was so distraught that he was close to suicide. To this day I can remember sitting on the closed toilet seat in my mom’s bathroom, for privacy, with the door shut and the phone pressed to my ear as he alternately sobbed and railed against the injustices of life. I had just turned 18. I felt helpless; I didn’t know what to say to him. But I did listen; I was there for him and I told him that regardless of what he thought, his life was important. Luckily, he made it through that time. Since then, and to his credit, he’s made it through multiple times. He even lived with Elissa and myself for a few months back in ’99, at a time when he was getting back on his feet. He would baby-sit for Devin some nights when Elissa worked. For the past few years, he’s been doing really well. He even got married, had a child….and then he and the mother of his daughter separated. She doesn’t want him to have visitation. She doesn’t like the girl that he’s seeing now…and because of various complicated situations that have happened in the past few weeks, my friend is once again "on the run." All that he’d gained the past few years, working in one place and gaining possessions and stability…gone once again. He’s had to start over from scratch in the past. Personally, I really can’t fathom having to do that. It’s one thing to move to another part of the country, away from people you know and what you’re accustomed to, but giving up what you’ve gained and having to start all over must (at least sometimes) seem insurmountable. I know he can do it, because he’s done it before. I wish he didn’t have to; I wish he wasn’t faced with this current situation. I’ve been worried about him since last week, when I first heard from someone else that he’d left his house. He called me tonight and let me know that he’s okay, he’s back in a place he’s been to in the past and for now he’s doing all right, looking for a job and all that.

So…why is it? Do we bring drama upon ourselves, with the choices we make in life, or with some people does it just follow along behind them, waiting at any moment to rear its ugly head? I know, probably a little bit of both, it just depends on the person or the particular situation. Unfortunately there are never any easy answers. I wish there were. Some people just don’t deserve the hard times they’ve had to go through.



posted by Zandria at 11:01 PM