Thursday, May 20, 2004

The Week that was

I wrote most of the post below last week, but never got around to finishing it, so here it goes:

Since the past week has been mostly boring and uneventful, I will rewind back to last week, which was one of the best weeks I've had so far because 1.) I did something that was different and interesting every day instead of just going to bars and 2.) I didn't have to spend a ton of money.

Monday, 5/3
I had dinner with Liz just to catch up on everything. Because of the demands of her position at Lehman, she constantly had to talk on the phone and use her Blackberry. She was very apologetic but I didn't really mind. I just hope I won't have to wear a pager soon after our system goes into production at work.

Tuesday, 5/4
I went to the Cornell Club for a mixer for new members. I had joined the club in mid-April after Caroline had alerted me to the fact that the club is open to non-Cornell alums and, most importantly, only charges $30 a month for its gym. Even with the $250+ club membership fee, it's still pretty cheap compared to other sports clubs, which charge as much as $90 a month, so I decided to join. In addition to the gym, there is a swanky lounge with free coffee and tea service, a business center with two internet-enabled computers, a "casual" bar and grill, a fancy schmancy dining establishment (which requires stuffy business formal wear), a library and a few floors of guest rooms.

At the mixer I met a few people who graduated recently and soon came to the realization that at this point in our lives, no one is doing anything that's all that interesting. Almost everyone is in transition now, trying to figure out the next step, be it grad school or business school or law school or some other form of educational indentured servitude that will ultimately boost one's earning potential. We all have these boring, soul-sucking corporate jobs just to pay for rent and entertaining activities after work that allow us to forget about work.

At least the free drinks and hor dourves were good.

Wednesday, 5/5
I went to an information session organized by APEX (Asian Professional Extension, Inc) for people interested in becoming volunteers. The organizers presented several volunteering programs, including a mentoring program similar to the Big Brother/Big Sister program (but geared towards Asian American students), an SAT tutoring program, and an ESL program for parents of A/A children who want to learn more English. During the portion of the presentation on the mentoring program, it dawned on me that even though the high school my Little Brother is attending is half Asian, there is no A/A kid in the Big Brother/Big Sister program at my work place, which makes me want to be a mentor in the APEX program even more.

The information session was pretty informative and I was glad to meet other like-minded young Asian-American professionals, although a current volunteer warned us that "volunteers" have treated the program as a meat market before. I hope she meant that the prospective mentors were eyeing each other and not the kids.

Thursday, 5/6
Liz couldn't make it to a volleyball game, so I went in her place. Big mistake. The friends she usually plays with are all ten times better than I am. I was also the third shortest person there, even shorter than some of the girls. There were these tall Scandinavian dudes whose pronunciation of English words confused me somewhat, but they sure spiked the hell out of them balls. I almost got worn out from just the pre-game warm ups with all the running and spiking and what not. On the first play of the game, I got beaned in the face. I managed to shake the sting off, but was still a bit rattled. I think I hit the ball more times than I got hit, but not by much. All in all, it was a good way to get some much needed exercise.

Friday, 5/7
In the morning I read a review of "Supersize Me," a documentary in which a man goes on a 30-day all-McDonald's diet just to see what would happen. Oddly enough, while reading about the weight gain, cholesterol level spike, and liver damage, among a host of other ill effects inflicted upon Morgan Spurlock by his fast food consumption, I developed an overpowering craving for a Big Mac even though I hadn't gone to McDonald's in more than six months. During lunchtime, I went to Bryant Park and feasted upon a greasy and sugary Big Mac meal. Unfortunately, the Big Mac didn't live up to my expectations.

After work, I went with a couple of guys from work for a guys' night out. We had dinner in a Brazilian restaurant in the East Village while oogling at all the smoking hot chicks all around us. There were super beautiful girls of every race. It was like we had died and gone to heaven. (Later on I had the epiphany that I only needed ONE of those girls to like me and I would be set.)The food wasn't all that great, but the fun conversation definitely more than made up for it.

While we were at The Edge, which is the bar where Molly bartends, after dinner, Phil helpfully reminded me, and in the process told everyone else, how when the last time we were here, a girl came up to me and asked to make out with me. I tried to explain to the rest of the guys that I never saw it coming and was too stunned to react and I wasn't really attracted to her, but all I got was incredulity followed by good-natured ribbing. Sigh, I don't know if I will ever live that one down.

After the Edge, we went to another bar before splitting up. A good time was had by all.

Saturday, 5/8
I went to this barbecue hosted by one of Liz's friends at her parents' house on the upper east side. Yes, I said "house," not condo or apartment. It was an actual house, in Manhattan!! The place totally looked like a normal brownstone apartment from the outside, but once I stepped inside I felt as if I were in a totally different world: suburbia. There was even a backyard!

Liz's friend (too bad I don't remember her name now) definitely went all out for the barbecue. She bought bruschetta, cheese, strawberries, cherries (I ate so many cherries, I could have OD'ed on them), various dipping sauces, beef patties, chicken breasts, hot dogs, and a lot of other food. She also made the best BBQ burger I've ever had. I should marry that girl. While I was trying to munch on my burger, I had to fend off her dog, which tried to hop on my legs repeatedly, wanting to lick my buns (the burger, not my ass).

After the big feast, the hostess gave us a tour of the house, which was filled with interesting artifacts like a cabinet of Mexican/Aztec ceramic skulls and these old, pinball-like games (I can't remember what the real name is) that her dad had collected by the hundreds. We also got a tour of the basement, which had an intricate network of pipes that made it impossible for us to walk fully upright. Walking in that basement was like walking on the 7 1/2th floor in "Being John Malkovich." The reason Liz's friend led us into the basement was because some of us wanted to see the deformed fetuses that her mom, who's a pathologist, stored down there. The fetuses weren't repulsive or creepy at all. They were really small and had a grayish hue. One had a cleft palate while the other had some other deformity. The 16-week-old fetus seemed for the most part developed, with well-defined torso, arms, legs, hands and feet. I could even distinguish between its facial features. The basement tour was definitely more educational than I could have ever expected.

After a few rounds of Scattergories and many mouthful of cherries, I left the party to meet up with Ahmad at Union Square. He was one of 4 people who called me during the BBQ to set up something to do. Over dinner at a Korean restaurant I told him about "Supersize Me" and my huge Big Mac craving, which led to a mutual agreement to see the movie afterwards.

On the way to the movie theatre, Ahmad told me about this girl he just started seeing. He then asked about my lack of dating and proceeded to give me a pep talk about the importance of trying. Amazingly enough, he was somehow able to weave in a driving analogy, theory of probability, and Jack Welch of GE all into his lesson. Of course, that's why I love hanging out with the dude.

The thing I like the most about "Supersize Me" is the fact that it has all the entertaining and educational elements of a Michael Moore documentary, but none of Moore's over-the-top, self-promoting self-righteousness (of course, I still admire the big jolly fellow for his audacity and wit). Morgan Spurlock, the director/star of the documentary, doesn't take himself nearly as seriously as Moore. The guy has a goofy handlebar moustache for crying out loud!

"Supersize Me" definitely deserves every iota of the buzz it has generated. It was at times hilarious (Morgan's vegan girlfriend talking about his declining sexual prowess), shocking (the amount of sugar Morgan consumed in his 30-day diet), disgusting (Morgan vomiting on Day 2), and sad (all the junk food that are being offered to kids during school lunch). Watching the movie was definitely an eye-opening experience. It is also easy to see how enormously damaging this documentary can be to McDonald's. Every time I see a McDonald's commercial on TV now, I think about the documentary. It's as if the documentary had established a permanent negative association with the company. No wonder McDonald's decided to eliminate its "Supersize" menu option shortly after this movie came out. I heartily recommend "Supersize Me" to everyone.

Sunday, 5/9