Thursday, August 28, 2008

Back to School: Part 3 aka The Storm

I had my one and only class today. Biostats... and I may indeed be fucked. First of all, it was my only class for the day and I was already exhausted half an hour in. Second of all, it seems like it's going to be hard. There was a math review session offered today which I decided to attend after not being able to remember what the summation sign was for. I knew it was for summing things and I remember being fond of it in high school, but other than that, it meant nothing to me anymore. Now, after an hour of doing practice problems, I'm feeling more comfortable with my old friend the summation sign. But, seriously. Practice problems? Homework? School? Am I really doing this by choice? College was a given. I wanted to go, and really I had no choice in the matter. But grad school? I may in fact be having an existential grad school crisis (or maybe it's just my annual end of August general existential crisis). Ideally, I'm doing this to further my career. But will knowing Biostats further it? Quite possibly not. Thus, I don't have the same type of stressed feeling I had in college. I have more of a "what's the point?" feeling. Like I should care, but really I don't. I know what I'm learning is essentially a tool. But for what I want to do, can't I just hire someone who knows how to use the tool? Like a biostats plumber?

After class, I stopped by the activities fair, where I got tons of JHSPH swag, including a highlighter, a carabeener (sp?), and chip clip! I also stopped by a table that had a basket of chocolate and felt bad taking a piece without saying anything. So, I prefaced my candy grab with "Even though I'm not Latina, can I take a piece of chocolate?" I assumed they would say yes and send my on my way, but instead they responded with "Oh, you don't have to be Latino to join our group. You don't even have to speak Spanish. You just have to be interested in Latino things and what we do." Cut to ten minutes later, I'm still standing there, the chocolate melting in my pocket, listening to the Latino student group pitch, and trying to come up with a polite way to say "I am the farthest thing from Latina. I really have no interest in joining the Latino student group. I just wanted a piece of chocolate." I learned my lesson. The Muslim and Catholic tables had some nice looking candies, too, but I stayed away. (FYI-- there were no groups for Jews...Hello! ADL, where are you? They would have had some damn good food, I'm sure.)

Now I've got an hour to kill before the Meet and Greet, where I will continue to meet and greet my fellow classmates. I think there will be alcohol involved, which always helps with the meeting and greeting.

In the meantime, here's a little anecdote from yesterday, my day off. I decided to go shopping for back to school clothes (I love back to school clothes), so I headed off to The Avenue, a street in the neighborhood of Hampden. Baltimore has a good selection of quirky little boutiques. Not so many chain stores, which is nice, so I decided to explore. The Avenue is not a big street, so all the shop owners seem to know each other. While I was in one, a shop owner from another came in with her baby. The woman working in the store I was in offered to babysit for a while, and so the mother left. This woman now holding the baby struck me as the type who reads Bitch magazine, does downtown comedy in the badass Jewess, wannabe Sarah Silverman scene, and who will someday grow up to be a bona fide yenta. And she was obsessed with the baby, clearly, as she kept saying "Oh my god, I want to eat this baby. I fucking love this baby. Here, smell this baby." She brought the baby up to my nose and made me smell it. Yup, smells like a baby. "I just want to fucking eat this fucking baby." There were two guys in the store standing around, like myself, not knowing what to say. She kept going on and on "Oh my god, I want to eat this fucking baby. Don't you just want to eat it?" Yes, babies are cute, but dear god woman, chill the fuck out. "I love this baby. I just want to eat this fucking baby's tussie and vagina." Um, What? Did she really just say that? Should I call child services? Or at least this child's mother? What if I had been someone else other than me in the store, like someone with a slightly lower tolerance for that type of um, shock-humor, for lack of a better term? I'm not quite sure what to make of it, but for the record, this is not the first time I've been in a store in Baltimore where the conversation has quickly gone to wildly inappropriate in front of customers (me). Maybe I'm just becoming soft. Or, maybe that type of humor has its time and place, like in TV show offices, like not around children. Maybe it's just all about context, but I don't think so.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Calm Before the Storm

Two days of orientation down. Two days of classes this week to go. And today... I'm pretty sure I don't have any obligations, but I also have that feeling that I may be missing something. I looked through all the various pieces of paper I received yesterday to see if there was anything I needed to attend today and couldn't find a thing. I also don't recall any mention of "see you tomorrow" yesterday, so I'm going to assume that I have the day off today. (If you're in my department and happen to be reading this and laughing to yourself about how I'm missing something incredibly important, please let me know). But, for now, I'm going to enjoy the day off.

My first and only class tomorrow is Biostats! Wheee! And so the storm begins. We had the option of two biostats classes: Statistical Reasoning or Statistical Methods, the latter of which comes free with a lab session! Having taken my last math class 12 years ago and having never taken a statistics class ever, I decided to take Reasoning, the "less rigorous" class. I ran this by my advisor who then asked "how much are you paying to be here?" (um, too much to suffer?). She somehow convinced me that I actually should suffer, so I'm now taking Statistical Methods, the "more intense, math-heavy" class starting tomorrow. Fuck. If this hampers my blogging, you know who to blame. On the plus side, the term is only eight weeks. Like a restaurant that serves bad food, but small portions.

In case you're wondering (and even if you're not), I'm also taking Epidemiology (plus another lab!), Integrating Social and Behavioral Theory and my only elective, Entertainment Education, plus two one-hour a week classes that don't have any work. When I registered yesterday, a PhD student came by and looked at my courses "19 credits. Well, you won't have a life for the first term." Dude, they're pretty much all required. One extra class and I won't have a life? But, then I remembered, "Oh wait. I'm in Baltimore! I don't have a life to begin with!" See, it all works out.

I may not have a life anymore, but at least I used to have one, and that counts for something, right? I was reminded of said former life the other day when I was on the treadmill in my building's gym, flipping through the channels and landed on my old show. Even though it airs a gazillion times a week, I never actually see it. Anyway, there it was. A nice reminder that it's there if I want it. Sort of. Although, it's not really there anymore. I'd probably only be there for another month or so before I'd have to find another job. One of my former co-workers informed me that his next job is at Traffic Court on the Tru network. No disrespect to him, (if you're reading this, hope it's going well!), but hearing that made me appreciate where I am. If I were still in LA, I'd probably be lucky to get that job. But, I'm not there and thankfully I'm not angling for Traffic Court. It's a good feeling and a good reminder of why I wanted to leave TV in the first place, at least for a little bit, at least the reality part of it, at least the part where I'd be lucky to land Traffic Court.

Speaking of my old life, I may have made the mistake of telling my department that I used to be a comedy writer. Maybe I should have just said writer, as now I'm the "comedian" of the department. Oops. I've only been asked to tell a joke a few times so far (which I was able to worm my way out of, luckily), but now there's the pressure of being funny. Hopefully that'll wear off once people realize I'm not funny when I'm trying to learn statistics. But for now, it's a reason for people to want to talk to me, and to quote a much funnier person than me, "I've got that going for me, which is nice."

Monday, August 25, 2008

Back to School: Part 2

Once again, I had my first day of school. Actually, it was orientation, but it was the first day of it and the first day of a whole new group of people. The end of my IBS class was anti-climactic. The essay test on Friday was beyond manageable... and since it was pass/fail, I made sure to add a little humor. (I ended my explanation of the digestive system with "If all goes well, everything ends up in the toilet.") Okay, maybe not laugh out loud funny, but at least I was able to inject my own voice (and favorite topic!). Although if I end up failing I'll feel like a real asshole. (No pun intended. I swear.)

All told, I learned two very important things from that class. 1) If you live in a developed country, eat healthy, don't eat too much dairy or meat, exercise and drink red wine, you have a pretty good chance of living a long time. If you live in a poor, underdeveloped country, you don't. 2) Eventually we're all going to get cancer or heart disease and die. I learned a lot of science and anatomy, too, but that pretty much is the gist.

The weekend was full of more exploring, which included Saturday night at the roller derby. If you have never been to a roller derby, I suggest you go. This one was the Charm City Roller Girls versus North Carolina... and needless to say it attracted a unique sub-culture. My Johns Hopkins friends and I may have been the only tattoo-less ones there. But it was a fun, random little slice of Baltimore night life. Not to mention, those girls are tough. It was pretty violent. No blood or anything, but I think roller derby probably attracts the same people who like to watch other people ride their bikes off buildings and into walls for fun on YouTube. Actually, it reminds me of several Vh1 and Comedy Central researching jobs I've had.

And speaking of TV, I met another fan of my show today! This time, the fan is in my department. Ca-razy. So nice to meet people who have actually heard of the shows I've worked on, even nicer to meet people who actually like them. It's amazing. Very exciting.

Today was mixed in terms of excitement and "what the fuck am I doing here?" feelings, however. The "wtf" feelings came from hearing about all the requirements for first term and that I actually have to do them... and that they're not going to be easy... and mostly won't be so relevant for what I want to do in the future. (Biostats and TV writing? Not a typical combo). Luckily they'll be hard and time-consuming, so I won't have much time to dwell on what the fuck I'm doing here. The exciting part came from talking to my advisor and hearing about how there are tons and tons of jobs for someone interested in what I'm interested. Very reassuring. My advisor seems very cool so far and, like me, has worked in production (Degrassi High!) so she knows where I'm coming from. (Canada! Like in Degrassi!... I wish).

Being back in school, especially in a large lecture setting also reminded me that there are several things that bother me about school. The first being when people ask personal questions in front of 400 people and think that the 400 people actually care or are happy about spending time listening to the answer. The second one is that every class inevitably has its weirdos... (and I'm excited to see what my fellow public health blogger writes about it, too). There was a guy sitting a few seats away from me and my fellow blogger in the lecture hall during the orientation. He kept taking off his sandals and rubbing his nasty feet with his hands, then rubbing his feet and hands all over the seats. The smell wafted down the aisle and made my fellow blogger and I gag. We're in public health school and this guy is rubbing his germ-covered feet and hands all over things that a member of the public may end up touching. It was a good reminder to wash your hands often. You never know where someone's hands have been before you shake them. Fortunately, I did not shake this guy's hand prior to witnessing his habit, (or after, or from now on, ever), but I will be sure to do a lot more hand-washing thanks to feet guy. Also, I should mention, this guy wasn't even paying attention. He was surfing the internet the whole time. He could have been doing that at home where his feet-rubbing wouldn't have affected the public's health. So gross.

Being a crappy blogger means that when I do get around to blogging, I have too much to report in one post. So, stay tuned for more adventures, thoughts, pictures from the weekend and general bullshit.

PS. If you've read this far then you probably are interested enough in what I have to say... at least for the minute or two it takes you to read it... And if you're interested enough, I'm interested in finding out who you are or at least where you're from. So, leave a comment, if you feel like it. Because I feel like I'm doing all the talking here.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Just Numbers

In case you're wondering, I did indeed pass the first test. If I hadn't, well, that would have been a problem since they gave us the questions beforehand. I got a 98 (what's up?!)... however there's no reason I shouldn't have gotten a 100. Plenty of people did. Oh well. I went too fast and picked insulin over aldosterone and made one other silly mistake. (There were 100 questions). But whatever. Good to leave some room for improvement, right? I also feel incredibly silly that I'm even slightly bothered by not getting a 100. What's happening to me? Anyway, my Pass is going to look the same as their Pass which is going to look the same as the guy's who got a B Pass. (I never know where to put the apostrophe s in those sentences. Is it after guy or B?)

On to more pressing matters before I continue studying for the essay test today. Yesterday we heard a lecture on aging. The professor took us through various biological aging processes, starting with age 25. Of course she had to preface this part with "Most of you probably aren't even this old yet." Jesus Christ. This once again brought up the topic of age. And when I told more people that I'm almost 30 (I really must milk 29 for the next week) they responded with, "Wow, but you look great." Thanks? So does that imply that by 30 people aren't expected to look great? Not cool. (Though to be honest, I wasn't displeased when people told me they thought I was 25. But, maybe that's because I act like I'm 16 and look 30? Hmmm....). I really must get over this age thing. I'm hoping once classes start next week, I won't be alone in my, ahem, late-20's status.

Okay. Time to study. But first, speaking of age, I must say Happy Birthday to my fellow 30 year old Virgo, EB! Happy Birthday, EB!

Thursday, August 21, 2008


Here's something I forgot when I decided to go back to school: I don't like studying. I like learning, but not studying. Studying feels so forced. Learning is much more leisurely. But, alas, studying is one way we learn, right? So, it's time to study (cram) for my first test of the year. But as I mentioned, the class I'm now in is pass/fail, so I'm hoping I do the former. But I'll keep you all posted on whether that happens and if I'll be returning to television sooner than expected.

In other exciting news, we learned all about the reproductive system yesterday and various ways of getting and not getting preggers... IVF, surrogate wombs, etc... (all this time I thought it was a stork). Did you know a woman who's gone through menopause can serve as a surrogate mother, carrying a baby to term? I didn't. But all you need is a uterus! Aside from actually making me want a baby more (but we won't get into that here- sorry!), the lecture made me realize that sometimes sex jokes work and sometimes they bomb hard... and that this is just one of the many ways where public health and entertainment and comedy meet... and need a lot of work. This is where I come in! But not yet. I still have to pass the first test.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Student of Scatology

It's a two-post day today, apparently, but I just had to share a few quick things from the day. First, in the morning, we learned about the digestive system, culminating with an hour-lecture on diarrheal diseases (big killer in the third world). A whole hour on diarrhea! I thought I could talk about bodily functions for a long time, but an hour on diarrhea. Awesome. Unfortunately, immediately following the lecture, came lunch.

Second, in the afternoon we learned about the respiratory system, which is my least favorite system as it involves math. Not that I don't like math, I just would rather keep math and science separate. There's only so much brain power up there. Anyway, I was looking at a chart of the different types of respiratory movements including laughing, sobbing, hiccupping, sighing, etc, when I came to the end-- valsalva maneuver-- and yelled to my study group, "There's a name for the breathing you do when you shit?!" Indeed, the valsalva maneuver is the "forced exhalation against a closed rima glottidis as may occur during periods of straining while defecating." Apparently, outside of the TV world, we say "defecate" rather than "shit," as I learned when my table-mate turned to me and said "real classy" after I used the wrong word. I miss TV. Sigh.

Now off to learn about the urinary system. No, seriously.

PS. For a more detailed and hilarious account of the hour on diarrhea, check out my classmate's blog.

(Apparently, the only other person interested in health communications in this class had the same idea to blog about this crazy experience. Brilliant minds...).

Grad School or Grade School?

I'm the worst blogger ever. Blogging and homework, I'm learning, don't mix. Neither do blogging and the Olympics. No matter, I shall persevere.

Remember last post, loyal readers, when I wrote that I felt old? Well, that all changed drastically yesterday. Yes, in comparison to my classmates I'm still old, but in how my student life is shaping out to be, I'm nine. It really all comes down to a few factors: 1) I carry a backpack to school. A really big dorky one. 2) I pack my lunch (or at least try to) everyday. Sandwich, fruit and snack. (Although this time, I make sure the fruit doesn't smush the sandwich, Dad.) 3) I walk a block from my apartment every morning to the bus stop where other Hopkins students and employees are also waiting for the Hopkins shuttle-- a normal bus with "Johns Hopkins" really big across the side. Usually. Until yesterday, when a different bus in the shuttle rotation pulled up. A big yellow school bus. For a moment I was confused until I saw all the Hopkins boys and girls dutifully get on. I followed them up the stairs and said hello to the nice bus driver (side note: according to Dr. Suess "My Book About Me" my first career aspiration was to be a bus driver. Granted my knowledge of career options was pretty limited, but I knew that a) I didn't want to be a teacher and b) my bus driver was awesome... more awesome than my teacher... and got to drive a bus!). When I reached the top of the stairs and looked out at the adult faces already sitting in the green vinyl seats staring up at me, I literally laughed. "Holy shit. I'm on a fucking yellow school bus." Memories of elementary school came back in an instant before I realized I had to find a seat. Do I sit in the back with the cool kids, or in the front so I don't barf? I chose the front and even found someone I knew to talk to and compare Walkmen (Walkmans?) with. Minus the Walkman part. The whole experience was awesome and hilarious and weird.

To add to the feeling of being nine, on Sunday, thanks to the wonderful world of social networking, I had lunch with a girl who I went to school with from kindergarten to 6th grade and hadn't seen since in 20 years. We were good friends back then and it turned out, not only did she settle down in Baltimore, she grew up to be pretty cool and normal, too. It was nice being able to reminisce and get along with someone I hadn't seen in 20 years... and as an added bonus, it made me feel young.

Thursday, August 14, 2008


I've made it through three days of this intensive biomedicine class. It feels like a lot longer than that though. After day 2, I remembered that I don't really like studying dense science-y stuff. Especially after a full day of class. It made me miss work life even more, especially the part of not having to study when I got home, and even more so the part about unwinding with a glass of wine. One glass of wine after school and there's no way I'd get any of the reading done. But yesterday, after day 3, I remembered that a) this course is pass/fail, b) I was pre-med once upon a time and vaguely remember a lot of this stuff and c) I really don't have to do all the reading since we divide it up among our study groups anyway. So, last night, I did a few hours of my part and then settled in for Olympics watching and an early night sleep.... and it totally made a difference in my happiness, which really is the most important, don't you think? No point in killing myself. I'm not in med school after all.

On to another topic. Age. The other day my study group divulged our ages. I admit, I was the one who brought it up when we were discussing how uncomfortable the chairs we have to sit in for seven hours a day are. I interjected with "But, it's probably because I'm old." Great springboard for bringing up age. Real slick. It turns out, that-- surprise-- I was indeed the oldest at the table. And not just by a few years. The rest of my group's ages are: 23, 24, 24, and 27. It's not a huge deal... It's just different from what I'm used to working in TV where I was on the younger, if not youngest, side of my co-workers. I liked being younger for many reasons. It's a new perspective now. I'm getting used to telling people here that I had a whole other career before this.... and the kids love the mention of having worked at Comedy Central. (Although when I said that I worked for Colin Quinn, no one at the table had heard of him. I don't know if that's a testament to their age or to Colin's dwindled fame or to them just being unaware of pop culture, but come on, he was on SNL, people.) Yesterday I did bring up a "Friends" reference (from the last episode-- where Pheobe calls Rachel and starts a rumor that the plane she's on has a broken phalange. We were learning about phalanges... and fyi-- they're bones in the hand). Anyway, no one knew the episode I was talking about, but at least they had heard of "Friends." At the very least, I'm learning to curb my pop culture reference more toward mainstream for this crowd. As their elder, it's the least I can do.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Public Health Humor

I finished two days so far of the Biomedicine class and even though I learned from my reading last night that there are no pain receptors in the brain, my brain hurts. Yes, I defy science. The class has been fairly straightforward. We read a section, discuss it with our assigned groups, take a quiz, hear a lecture by different Hopkins researchers on a topic related to the section. This happens twice a day... making for a very long day... with about five hours of reading at night.

Thankfully, a good chunk of the learning comes from group discussion. We're teaching ourselves basically, which I like. Listening to hours of power point lectures in the dark is a sure-fire recipe for nappy time for Jackie. Here we only have two separate hours of lecture and so far they've been pretty interesting (i.e today we heard one lecture about neurological effects of HIV and one on spinal muscular atrophy) . We're moving pretty fast, (learning the nervous system in two days), but it's basically so we are familiar with the terms by the end of the two week. Even still, there's a lot of shit to know...

But onto the good part! The professor/doctor who's running the class apparently discovered the concept of autoimmunity. (There are some very hitters at Hopkins... and they are not shy about reminding us that across the street is the world's best hospital). So, on the first day as I was getting up for break, I asked this doctor whether it was okay for us to leave our computers at out seats during lunch... and he said that it was fine, but "don't leave them overnight because the cleaning people think that everything in this building is infected with AIDS and they won't clean anywhere near anything that's left." Wait. Did the grandfather of autoimmunity just make an AIDS joke? I think he did! (Okay, we're defining "joke" loosely here)... But still, are AIDS jokes fair game even at public health school? I tried one out later on my classmates... oops! It wasn't really a joke but I was talking about what I want to do (combine entertainment and health communications), I gave the example, "you know, try to make AIDS funny." Crickets. Yeah, apparently, not funny. I got a lot of eye rolls and gasps... no laughs. It made me miss the good ol days of working in television, where AIDS is hilarious! Oh well. Maybe I'll become humorless, too, eventually. Or just more sensitive. But, I hope not.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Back to School!

After a long weekend (just in feeling, not in actual time), I'm back to school for my first day since college. So far so good. I made it here via the Hopkins Shuttle which arrived 30 seconds after I did at the stop a block from my apartment, then 15 minutes later at the school. Fifteen minutes door-to-door. Not bad. And thus, I am now 45 minutes early for the "welcome breakfast" which starts half an hour before the orientation (which starts two weeks before actual classes start. I'm just here for my Intro to Biomedicine for Dummies class). Shit. I could have still been at home watching five more replays of the USA swimming relay photo finish and Michael Phelps's full-body scream. Oh well. Here I am.

Being that I'm 45 minutes early for the breakfast (and I already had a (publicly) healthy breakfast at home), I am very thankful that there is non-secure wireless internet here. Otherwise, I'd be wandering around this place reading the public health oriented posters verrry slowly. And luckily, there are plenty of couches (this building overall is ridiculously nice. Thanks, Bloomberg!), and a cafe with the comforting smell of toasting everything bagels. Although the shuttle was full of male doctors, the people at the public health school sitting around me are all women, who pretty much look like me. Little do they know I'm blogging about them (heh heh heh). I probably should be reading something related to my class today, but I've already read the chapter on the integument system and wounds and frankly, I'd rather figure out what the hell is going on before I read anymore.

If I didn't make this decision to go to grad school, I'd (well, I'd be sleeping as it is 5:20 am in LA), I'd be waking up to a day in Glendale, CA at the Style Network. But here I am in Baltimore at the Bloomberg School of Public Health. Weird.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

I'm Huge in Baltimore

I experienced an ounce of glory yesterday back at Wachovia where I met a fan of the show I just worked on in LA. I had to go back to the bank and speak with a real person because my ATM card hasn't arrived yet and I needed either cash or a money order to pay the movers, who also have not arrived yet. Bastards. (Stay away from Ben-Hur Movers. They take their time and are assholes about it.) Anyway, I was in Wachovia where the people are beyond friendly (I learned that they take a class on customer service), depositing my final paycheck from E! Entertainment and getting a money order, when the bank teller struck up a conversation regarding my California drivers license. When I handed her my paycheck, she asked what I did there and if I was still able to work from Baltimore. I told her I was a writer for Clean House Comes Clean and that no, I'm not working for them anymore. Then she said, "That's so cool. I'm a huge Style Network fan and I love that show!" What? Not only had she heard of the show, but she also loved it. Like Clean House Comes Clean, not just Clean House. Crazytown, USA, I'm in. A fan of the show? It was very cool. I told her I was a huge fan of Wachovia (actually, I didn't, but I am) and I high-tailed it back to my air-conditioned apartment.

See, I was affecting people's lives working for reality TV. Who needs a public health degree?

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Now with pictures!

Yesterday I went beyond my neighborhood of Mt. Vernon and explored downtown Baltimore and the Inner Harbor-- the touristy area. On a map it looked kind of far, but it took me a whole ten minutes to walk there from my apartment. Before I set off in that direction, I decided to check out my local communist cafe, Red Emma's, and get some iced coffee... 'cause it's damn hot in Baltimore.

Thinking maybe this could be my very own Marxist Central Perk, I was excited to check it out. The coffee was good enough, but the presumptive communist kids working behind the counter enjoyed hearing themselves wax ironic too much for the place to be conducive for studying or even tolerable for more than ten minutes. I felt like I was waiting in line at the UCB Theater... one of my least favorite things to do... where everyone is trying to one-up each other with how damn ironic they could be. Overheard at Red Emma's:

Presumptive Communist Barista #1: "Will you nominate me for a Nobel Prize?"
PCB #2: "Why?"
PCB#1: "Because it would be dope."

Also overheard:
PCB #2: "What should we listen to?"
PCB #1: "How about NPR?"
PCB #2: "Okay, I guess that's in keeping with our belief system."

I don't think I'll be returning to Red Emma's anytime soon.

Back to my exploring. I walked down to the Inner Harbor which I hadn't been to since my 6th grade graduation field trip... which, going to a Jewish day school, I thought must have included a visit to the nearest Holocaust museum, but I couldn't remember. Anyway, the Inner Harbor looked pretty much as I remember it. There were boats.

Big boats... (the USS Constellation)

paddle boats... and of course, dragon boats...

If you visit me in Baltimore, I promise I'll take you dragon boating and I'll steer clear of the docks (see: The Wire Season Two).

And speaking of The Wire. The night before my exploring, I was watching The Wire, Season Three and there was a scene (not a spoiler) where McNulty was hitting on a woman. She asked him where he worked and he responded "Legg Mason... Or I'm a Baltimore cop. I can't remember." (And I can't remember the exact phrasing). But it was something like that. And after I heard it, I thought "Legg Mason. How random." But not so random when I looked up behind me from the Inner Harbor and saw this:

Since it was so hot, I decided to head home, using a different route. It's true what I've been told about Baltimore. That the safety/crime/poverty changes block to block. One second I was at the Inner Harbor, the next I was passing by a Hustler, Lush Gentleman's Club, an adult video store, etc etc, and then next, I was back among office buildings. (I later found out I was on "the block"). As I continued my stroll, I tried to remember if my 6th grade field trip did indeed include a visit to a Holocaust museum, when, lo and behold, I passed by a Holocaust museum. And right outside the museum, sure enough there was a group of Jewish boys and girls on a school trip. Although on second glance, they could have been Mormons. Ahh, the memories.

A little bit beyond the Holocaust museum, I passed by two men asleep on a stoop, their shoes off and gangrene ablazin'. Very Bubs on a bad day (if you're going to follow my blog, you might want to brush up on The Wire). Although it was probably slightly inappropriate (but hey, I'm documenting), I snapped a picture... albeit not close enough to get a good look. But I thought the image captured what, thanks to The Wire, I imagined Baltimore to be like.

And since I'm revisiting my 6th grade field trip memories, the 6th grade sense of humor in me can't help but mention that those two men were asleep on a stoop on Gay Street. Hey, it can't all be high-brow.

And one last pic for good measure. McNulty, is that you?

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Paris Hilton of Baltimore

So now that I've gone public with my public health blog it seems I have to, um, maintain this thing. No, this is good. Pressure. Getting me ready for school.

Day four in Baltimore. I found a supermarket in walking distance. Not as exciting as yesterday, however, when I opened up a bank account at Wachovia. Sadly there are no Washington Mutuals in Baltimore. (There is a Washington Monument though, which I can see from my window right now.) Anyway, the woman at Wachovia who opened my account for me was lovely, as most people I've met here are... but she came with the added bonus of making me feel like a gazillionaire. First of all, she was shocked when she checked my credit and told me that she NEVER has people come in with credit good enough that they don't require further background checks. And this is a Wachovia, not some tiny-ass local bank. But, it's a Wachovia in Baltimore, so there you go. She also took the time to explain the various account options, using the example "let's say you have $20 in your account and you charge something for $21, and then go to Taco Bell and use your debit card again before noticing your account is below zero, you'll get fined twice." Fair enough. Note to self: Stay away from Taco Bell. She also advised me against buying checks because at the steep price of $18 dollars a box it's not worth it. When I finally gave her two checks to deposit, she told me one wouldn't clear for a few days, but by looking at the large amount of the other check, I should be fine... at which point, I was thinking, "All right, lady, let's do without the judgment and just deposit my money."

I'm telling this story not to let you know that I've got mad bank, as the kids say, ('cause I don't). I'm telling it because it's pretty indicative of the way things are in Baltimore. I guess. I've only been here for four days. But, it's all about perspective. In L.A. I was just another TV writer, complaining about spending fourteen bucks to see a movie at the Arclight and five dollars in gas to get there. Here, I'm the richest person around. And if you've read my last post, also the skinniest. I'm Paris Hilton of Baltimore.

Off to do laundry...

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Culture Shock

I've been back on the East Coast for a little over a week and have spent the last two nights in beautiful Baltimore. After four days at a health spa with my mom last week, I've got my mind on health... more on my own private health. Not so much on the public's. But, that will all change next Monday when I start school.

Coming from LA to the health spa in the Berkshires to Baltimore is so far quite a shock. After spending six hours a day at the spa exercising along side thin Long Island mothers trying to convince their slightly overweight daughters that exercise is fun (!), I'm now in Baltimore, reminded that yes, there are fat people in this country, and no, they probably don't care about Yamuna foot fitness. I forgot about that. Sure, the news talks about the obesity epidemic, but I couldn't find any sign of it at the spa or in LA. But here in Baltimore, poverty and thus fatties are all around.

Yes, this is one poor city. Noticeably poor. And, in contrast to LA, as far as I can tell at least, the poor people live amongst the not-so-poor. Poverty is out in the open here. It's quite different from any place I've ever lived, including New York, and I must admit, I'm not used to it yet. But, again, I've only been here for two days, so I've got a lot more to see. My Biomedicine for Dummies class (not its actual name, thank you very much) starts next Monday, so I have a week to figure out which cafe has the best coffee, where the closest bank, yoga studio, and bodega are, and how the hell the so-called Hopkins shuttle works.

So, stay tuned for more adventures in Baltimore. I plan on taking my camera with me on my explorations and uploading pictures soon. That is, if I don't get mugged and have my camera stolen first. (insert nervous laugh).