Wow, that sucked: A look back at the “naughty oughties”

31 12 2009


Unopened bag of 2004

Originally uploaded by N-Sai

This is a year-by-year look at the decade that saw me becoming a journalist and solidifying my identity, as well as blossoming from an awkward teenager into an semi-awkward adult-ish being.

There is a lot to go into here, but I will start out just going year by year. And, a look at my love of beer. It changed, you’ll see here.

I hope you enjoy this look at history through the lens of me. I mean think about all the politics, the economy, it’s all interrelated. I mean we started out with the attack, then the war, then the cycles of optimism and fear. Interesting decade.

  • 2000: Wrote for the school paper. Was the assistant fine arts editor, and then became entertainment editor. Was known as “Slim Saidi.” Dreamed about graduating from high school and hitting the big time, going all over the place, rocking the world. But first, settled on ASU.
  • 2001: Went to Office Max for Senior Ditch Day, a momentous milestone in my life (and the day I purchased Incubus’ Make Yourself at a Sam Goody-type establishment). Actually graduated from high school. Went to ASU, majored in computer science. 9/11 happened. I found out about it by overhearing conversations in the dorm restroom — about cars on fire, the world burning up, explosions everywhere, they said, and it was simply terrifying. It took a while for classes to be canceled, and I remember everything was so quiet.
  • 2002: My kitty-corner downstairs neighbor in the dorm died and it took three days to find him there — it was really sad. He had the room to himself. There was a burglary and ID theft at the family house while I was away at school, but reality didn’t hit until I was home for the summer. Had major ID theft problems for the rest of the year. Got my first real-ish job, by becoming a road service phone schlock at U-Haul HQ. Lasted a whole two months, but learned a lot and met some cool people. This experience convinced me that I was capable of holding down a job at a national company.
  • 2003: Snuck in through the back door of The State Press over winter break (figuratively speaking) and became the associate Web Devil editor. Decided I no longer wanted to be a computer scientist, and instead wanted to be a journalist, a humanities major, a geographer, a cartographer, a computer geek, maybe an engineer or scientist, really I couldn’t decide. Identity crisis a-go-go. Interned for the media office at the Desert Botanical Garden. Had my first beer this year, thankfully not around any cacti. Somehow I’d avoided it that long.
  • 2004: Became one of two “campus and administration” reporters for The State Press, and discovered I was obsessed with reporting. Worked at the City of Chandler a couple days a week, which created an insane schedule for me given everything I was doing. Turned 21 just before summer and right in the nick of time: Over the summer, traveled to Washington, D.C., and interned for Common Cause’s press office. Learned a lot, had a great time, decided that Budweiser was my Beer. (Not Bud Light) The third presidential debate was held at ASU in October of this year and I got to report on it, and even interview Triumph the Insult Comic Dog for the Web Devil.
  • 2005: The economy was still booming and ASU had ideas and new buildings practically coming out of its orifices. Got a reporting internship at the not-quite-defunct East Valley Tribune and then became Web Devil editor. Couldn’t find ONE job, so I got TWO jobs instead: Media specialist at Pan-American Initiatives at ASU, and also as a writing intern for Choice Hotels International. Drank.
  • 2006: Continued with my jobs but then at some point decided that the current situation was OK, but it was time to move forward. I somehow stumbled on CNN.com, applied on a whim, was accepted, freaked out, grabbed my father and four suitcases, flew out to Atlanta, found a lot of bad apartments, found a good apartment, said goodbye to my Dad, cried a lot, grew up and became a multimedia journalist in Atlanta! Drank a little, here and there.
  • 2007: Moved to a new user participation group that did mysterious things with “iReports” and “Exchange.” Got hired on full-time, and then became the first associate producer (full-time) for the budding User Participation group. Got my first taste of gourmet beer, in the form of a Blue Moon served at a going-away party for a colleague. A coworker explained to me that it was a “Belgian White” and I nodded and said mmm-hmmm-wow-awesome and then went home and did some research. Tried the Sweetwater Georgia Brown as well as the Hummer, and I was well on my way to beer snobbery.
  • 2008: The economy had been teetering a bit, but this is the year it really started going into the pooper. On the plus side, iReport started coming into its own, and I became a Senior Associate Producer. Moved out of my apartment in Dunwoody to a convenient place in midtown. Dealt with serious cockroach problems, moved to a less-convenient and more-expensive place and then went to Los Angeles to chill with the Murray scholars. While there, I met Kato Kaelin. He was pretty chill. Right after that, President Barack Obama was elected on a historic election night. Meanwhile, my taste in beer became increasingly snobby. Phoenix light rail launched December 27.
  • 2009: President Obama was inaugurated and the whole event was a big global Thingy that seemed unprecedented. The economy was much further into the pooper and we called it a recession. I didn’t seem to notice, as I single-handedly held up the country’s gross domestic product by traveling a ton and visiting San Francisco, Paris and London for the first time. Saw Cousin Julie get married in Wisconsin and was reunited with the family, most of whom I see maybe once every five years. Saw the World’s Largest Six-Pack in La Crosse. (Well I mean, just look at the Year in Review. You’ll see what I did in 2009.) My circle of friends practically doubled. Beer snobbery got even worse and maybe a tad pretentious, and the beers got darker and darker. Light rail celebrated its second birthday.
  • 2010: Let’s see what happens!




Organization calls

5 11 2009

There are times that I clearly feel like life is telling me something, and now is one of those times. I’ve been told over and over again that I’m disorganized, I need to grow up, whatever. And the fact is, that I truly do need to become a more organized person. It’s finally catching up to me as my work becomes ever more complex and I get older and life just gets complicated in general. I’ve tried and failed many times but I feel like if I can make an effort now, in time I will finally be successful.

I’ve had some degree of success already. After months and months of working and working at it, I finally got my eating and exercise habits under relative control. I’m finally starting to see some results from that effort, both in my physical stamina and the fact that I’m comfortably wearing jeans today that I couldn’t wear a few months ago. I’m no longer craving ridiculous portions of food and things are generally OK.

And now, I realize that if I am ever to advance in this life and successfully become who I want to be, organization is basically my only choice. Drawing on my health habits for inspiration, I am going to make an effort to fix my problems and take control of things.

Starting now, I commit myself to do the following things every day:

  • Spend about 30 minutes per evening reading the news
  • Keep a journal and know what I’m doing the next day
  • Read 5 pages of literature per day
  • Keep my laptop closed from midnight to 6 a.m.
  • Shower before bed rather than in the morning
  • Have clothes, bags, etc., planned out before sleeping
  • Have two alarms set to wake me in the morning
  • Write in my blog every day if possible
  • Work on something creative
  • Give work my undivided attention
  • Do something to expand my skills EVERY day
  • Ask people lots of questions, which I often forget to do

It’s going to be difficult, but I must slay this monster within me. I must take control of my life.





Comic-Con planning in progress

23 07 2009


IMGP7807

Originally uploaded by N-Sai

So yeah, we’re going to be en route to San Diego, CA, for the Comic-Con extravaganza this weekend. I could only get tickets for Sunday but that’s better than nothing.

I didn’t realize how much of a Kind of a Big Deal this was. I admittedly enjoy hanging out at Atlanta’s own Dragon*Con (mostly for the surrounding spectacle and saber-toothed tigers such as shown here) so I assume this will be right up my alley.

After that we’ll head for San Francisco and do some exploring around there. I have a few things on my list to do while in the Bay, and would appreciate any ideas from the wide world out there.

My bank account is emitting a few hunger pains so I am trying to keep the expenditures down as much as possible; and yet I think — to some degree — you have to take a few liberties from time to time.

Speaking of obsessive traveling, I’ll also be heading to Paris, France, yes that Paris, in September, and I think this might be the biggest travel year EVER. Last year was pretty epic, but I think this might top it.





Working in the middle of a tourist attraction

18 04 2009
 


Order like an Egyptian

Originally uploaded by N-Sai

You never know what you’re going to run into in the CNN Center since it’s such a popular stop whenever a big event comes to town. People stop by to eat, to chat and to grab a cup of overpriced Joe.

The junior robot builders competition is always a real treat because the participants wear festive costumes to identify their team. This group really took it to the next level by dressing like pharaohs from Egypt. Good times.





Resting up for a wild next few weeks

23 08 2008

Currently writing from Phoenix, Arizona, right now. I’m on vacation hanging out w/ the family. We had a good time visiting San Diego and I enjoyed the trip immensely. We took a couple days to visit the beach and stay in a nice hotel where we could walk everywhere. On the way to and from California, we stopped at all the cheesy tourist stops you can contemplate. (Pictures!!)

A pretty vacation photo, originally uploaded by N-Sai. [Full set]

It will be bittersweet symphonies a-go-go when I go back to ATL because there’s so much to be done at work and outside of work and just in general. My life is more complex than it ever has been, and that’s a good thing. It’s not just working all the time or studying all the time or what have you, but rather a nice mixture of all elements of a good life. This can only get better. I mean, I just got my first approval for a credit card and I’m going to have one for the first time, ever. Since the economy went to pot, I’ve been unable to get one. I had to take out a loan through the credit union and pay it off (and wait until my fraud flag expired — in regards to a couple instances of potential identity theft in the now-distant past) before I started having any luck with credit card companies.

But… I was just kinda freaking out about my timetables for the next few weeks… this could get wild and wacky. Here’s the absolute bare minimum of what needs to happen, and when:

  • By August 28: I need to make it through the conventions coverage supreme (like a Taco Bell taco with all the fixins, for lack of a better term), with the DNC being fairly immediate upon my arrival, and also make my way through the RNC as well.
  • By September 1: I need to have made it through the Dragon*Con in one piece, and potentially *in* a one-piece. It’s up in the air what I’ll be dressing as, but I know I will be doing something. Might have to look up a comic book store or costume shop or just hit up Psycho Sisters or another similar shop to find something fun that I can wear.
  • By September 13: I need to be moved out of my old apartment and moved into a new one. The olde place has already been leased and a new occupant will be moving in by the 19th. Good luck hacking the cucaracha action, suckers! (Is that mean?)
  • By September 18: I need to be in Beverly Hills for the Murray thingy, something I’m not even close to being ready for. I need to get plane tickets, figure out the itinerary, write my bio again (note to self), figure out where I’m staying… this all has to happen pretty soon.

So yeah, busy times await. But I am starting to get a little excited about all this.





Fourth of July

17 07 2008

I went to see the Lenox Square Mall fireworks display since it’s the oldest, closest and possibly the best display. Here’s what the finale looked like:

As always, see the remainder here in the Flickr set.

I worked that day and it was momentous as Joey Chestnut barely beat that Kobayashi dude in the hot dog wolfing contest on Coney Island in Brooklyn in New York. Baby. Hot dog ralphing, perhaps. Gross, man. We had our own weenie roast at work right in the break room. It’s an annual tradition, done on a George Foreman grill. If possible, we try to time it so it corresponds perfectly with the event. Things get pretty heated as we watch with bated, hot-dog-scented breath.

Centennial Olympic Park was crowded with people and many were wearing umbrella hats, which I think is a great way to take the shade with you in a flashy fashion. I opted to spend less time there and cooled off at home to escape the heat. When it got dark I boarded MARTA for the Buckhead region, where things were very crowded. The display was great. It was all good. Mom and dad went to Tempe Marketplace and I think their adventure was more fun, but then again I was working that day. So who knows.





Good to have you back

19 12 2007

Today, thanks to the efforts of a kind stranger, I was reunited and it felt oh, so good. Not reunited with an old friend or a black-sheep relative, but reunited with my lost wallet. That pocket-sized polyester casing holds the keys to my identity and finances. Whether or not carrying such a valuable item on one’s person is a prudent idea, I can’t say, but it’s good to have you back, old friend.

Looking at it, you can tell it’s had a rough journey. (Of course the majority of this damage came from the inside of my purse(s)). The MARTA monthly pass and small bit of cash inside were stripped from it, and everything else was left intact. Who knows what filth it went through, what cockroaches and other vermin crawled over it while it sat so destitute at the bottom of the train tracks.

It’s hard to say what happened to it, really. After disastrous experiences like this, wallets rarely like to speak of the horrors they’ve seen. I can only go off the anecdotes of witnesses such as the credit union representative who left me a mildly unsettling message on my voice mail at work:

“Please call back immediately. It is imperative that you contact me as soon as you receive this message.”

After I listened to the message, my heart was racing and my adrenaline was surging. I was certain for sure that someone had broken into my financial fortress and tried to make hell for me. Unfortunately, I have past experience with such things, and have little desire to improve upon that experience. I was on hold for a long time, freaking out as I contemplated all the forbidden charges being racked up on my account. My mind went wild in those few minutes, imagining wild spending sprees and Duck-Tales-inspired dives through piles of golden coins. I could see my Web account access showing massive amounts of money being deducted (since, of course, I have massive amounts of money).

So I eventually got through and she told me that my wallet had in fact been found. Or rather, that a man had called to say he found my wallet and wanted to talk to me. She then proceeded to tell me that this man had basically defied death by jumping into the track area to get it and then quickly getting out before the next train came. (Well, this is MARTA we’re talking about.)

This kinda floored me, so I got the digits for this dude and called him. He seemed to be an average Joe. Or Jimmy, rather. That was his name. He said he did it because it was the holiday season and he didn’t want anyone to go down into the track area and use it for ill purposes. He told me he would take a bus and then a train to get down to where I work. He had just moved to A-Town and didn’t really know his way around. This was actually going to be his first trip to the Centennial Olympic Park area. I thanked him and he said he would come over to my workplace. In the meantime, I dashed off to the gift shop to buy a small gift. So he found his way over and called from the concierge, and an accomplice accompanied me down to the floor for safety reasons.

And there he was. An average guy who felt it was necessary to get that wallet. He told me that he’d gotten to Lindbergh Station (a point where the north line splits off into a Y, and typically a very busy station) and seen a wallet down there. That’s the same place where I realized I’d losst the wallet. He passed by it and then came back again and saw it. At that point, he decided the risk was worth it and got it. It’s a considerable risk, especially given that there is an electrified bar on one side of the track. Luckily, the wallet was not on that side. And if a train comes, it probably won’t be able to stop in time. Plus, I’ve been on trains on a few occasions where the operator has BREEZEd right through the station by accident. So he got the wallet and called my hair salon (yes, I have a poor-woman’s hair salon for my monthly trim off the ends of all five inches of my hair) and the credit union to see if they would make some effort to reach me.

Gotta say, I was touched. I gave him a gift basket and a $20 bill as a token of my appreciation, and my oft-tested faith in humanity was restored. I already have a new driver’s license and have applied for new cards, so that part isn’t so much of a big worry for me. Those cards were set to expire anyway I guess, so we’re just taking care of that a little early. It’s more the identity documents I wondered about. My only question now is, what happened? And how can I prevent this from happening?

On the way home tonight, I coincidentally saw a man get down onto the tracks and search around and then get back onto the platform. It’s quite possible to get something off the tracks and live to tell the tale, apparently, so just leaving it there on the tracks could have still led to ID theft. This sight seemed odd because that’s something I just never see, except on this day. The track area is so full of garbage and rats that you don’t want to go near it.

My inner non-cocaine-using Sherlock Holmes is currently conducting an investigation. Retracing my steps last Thursday night after work, I last remember seeing the wallet at Peachtree Center as I entered the turnstile and sticking it in my pocket (or — I hope not — setting it on the bench next to me). By the time I was exiting the train at Lindbergh, I knew I didn’t have my wallet anymore. So, if someone found my wallet strewn about the train tracks of that station, it’s probably because a person found the wallet and took what they wanted before discarding the rest. There’s also a slim possibility that someone picked my pocket along the way, but I’m not sure. One thing is certain, I think it’s highly unlikely that I dropped the wallet between the crack of the train and platform as I was getting out at Lindbergh. By that point, I knew I didn’t have it anymore.

It’s a mystery. I will try to be more careful from now on, and thank my lucky stars that everything has gone smoothly, so far. That wallet threatened to ruin my weekend (although that didn’t quite happen beyond some hours in the police station and on the phone) and possibly a little more. Nothing materialized though. Good to have you back, wallet of mine.