Thursday, October 30, 2008


Holy crap! The Phillies won the World Series!!!! What does this have to do with public health? Absolutely nothing!!!! Go Phillies!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


If there are any school administrators reading this, particularly from Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, here's a piece of advice: Give students a break after their finals. I'm tired. I'm not into school this quarter. I was all gung-ho last quarter, but I'm feeling burnt out already. This quarter is going to be hard. Maybe harder than last. For some reason I decided to take 5 full-credit courses this quarter. Why? To get my learn on, as the kids say. (And my money's worth as the Jews say. What?! I'm Jewish. I'm allowed to make those comments.) Unfortunately, I have to take more Biostats. Maybe that's the problem. Biostats takes away from my ability to spend time on classes I'm actually interested in. I am not looking forward to Biostats this quarter, especially since I heard "everybody bombed" the final from last quarter. Although, there will be a curve, I've learned. Hooray for curves!

I'm ready to get a job. I miss working. I never thought I'd say that, but having to do homework while watching the World Series is not as fun as not doing homework while watching the World Series. (Full disclosure: I didn't do homework last game. Instead I gorged myself on cheese steaks, wings, and beer with friends at MaGerks, a Philly bar in Baltimore. Yum. But not tonight. Not tonight).

Here's another thing that's making this quarter difficult: It's cold. The main problem with the cold (other than having to break out my sweaters, which I haven't worn in years and of which
I want more and newer) is that the cold makes walking to the market quite unpleasant. And thus, I'm hungry. When I lived in New York, which was colder, getting food was not as difficult because I was walking everywhere anyway and would inevitably pass many places to buy organic milk, overpriced juice and free-trade coffee. Plus, if I was feeling lazy or really really cold, I had a plethora of food delivery options. Here in Baltimore, at least in this neighborhood, the only delivery options are Indian, Indian/Nepali, and pizza. The Indian is good, but there's only so much Indian food a non-Indian girl can eat, at least this non-Indian girl. Alas, my refrigerator is empty. My favorite grocery store is many blocks away uphill; I could drive, but then parking would be a bitch. And the Baltimore Farmers' Market, of which I am so fond, is a whole five days away. Help! I'm stuck in a luxury apartment building with nothing to eat! All I can do is waste away while complaining about it on my blog. Woe is me!

At least the Phils are on tonight (although I will be celebrating with my communication theory books, rather than my friends. But boy, can those books drink). And speaking of the Phils, I can't believe Mike Schmidt reads my blog! Who would have thought? Here's a little anecdote about me and Mike Schmidt. He is one of the few people whose birthdays I remember (September 27, and no I didn't google that, but you can to check my facts). The reason I know this is that it's the same day as my former best friend's from kindergarten, who I haven't seen since I was 10. In kindergarten, I was jealous that she had the same birthday as Mike Schmidt, while I shared a birthday with stupid Michael Jackson. And so, every September 27, I think, "Happy Birthday, Sarah R. and Mike Schmidt." And that's my Mike Schmidt story.

The end.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

I am David Sedaris!

Okay, so my attempt from last post to get comments and find out who is actually reading this blog was barely successful (although it's not too late to vote on the polls below and/or comment!) But I would like to thank one of the two commenters, Elana, for bringing up a very good point. (As for the the other commenter, Anonymous, I don't know for sure who you are, but I have a pretty good guess). Anyway, back to Elana. She asks a very important question-- if I have seen the David Sedaris "Shouts & Murmurs" essay from the New Yorker a week ago. The answer is yes. I have seen it.

To fill you in, dear readers, about a month ago, I wrote this about undecided voters:

I have no idea how anyone can be undecided between two complete opposites.... it's like not being able to decide between a delicious slice of carrot cake and a plate of shit. How can anyone be stuck weighing the pros and cons of the two? They're opposites.

Then, last week, in the New Yorker, David Sedaris wrote this about undecided voters:

To put them in perspective, I think of being on an airplane. The flight attendant comes down the aisle with her food cart and, eventually, parks it beside my seat. “Can I interest you in the chicken?” she asks. “Or would you prefer the platter of shit with bits of broken glass in it?”

(Admittedly, Mr. Sedaris made his point a lot more creatively than I did, but...)

Do I think David Sedaris stole my awesome idea? No way. I'd be lucky if he read this blog (and honored if he stole from it). But do I think it's fucking awesome that I had the same idea as David Sedaris (and that mine was er, "published" before his)? Yes. Yes I do.

Now time for my book deal! I mean, it's only fair. Right? Hello? Anyone? Hello?

[cue the crickets]

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Your Turn

I've been in Baltimore for about two and half months. It still feels newish, but not shockingly new anymore. At the same time, it feels like I've been here forever. So, at least today, I'm running low on things to write. I also haven't been at school in three days, haven't been in Baltimore in two days, and have been focused more on the Phillies than on anything else lately. (Phillies! What?!? This could be amazing. First championship in Philadelphia in all four sports since I was five. It's been a long winless 25 years, I tell ya).

So, since I have nothing to write today and I'm currently distracted by the game, I have an idea for something new. Why don't YOU tell me something about yourself and/or what you think, if anything, of this blog. Seriously. Why the hell are you reading this? (I mean, I totally appreciate that you're reading this. Otherwise, I wouldn't bother.) Do you enjoy it? Is is an interesting distraction from your job? Or just a mere distraction? I know there are a handful of people reading this, but I'm curious about them/you. If you're feeling shy, I'll post some polls on the right hand side. You can just answer that. Feed my curiosity, won't you? Won't you?!? Don't make me beg.

Go Phils!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Random Ramblings

I saw another Arabber today! This time walking down the street next to the Hopkins hospital. I tried to get a picture with my camera phone, (this pony was fancy... had blinders with sequins and everything!). My camera phone always takes its sweet time when I need a picture fast and surreptitiously, so by the time I got it working, the Arabber noticed me and said "No pictures. No flash." Being a white girl with a dorky backpack in East Baltimore, I didn't feel like stopping to explain that I wouldn't use the flash, that I just need this picture for my blog, so I kept on walking. Damn. Next time. That is of course if I'm not so desensitized to ponies on the street carrying fruit the next time I see one that I don't think to take a picture.

I'm watching the Phillies get spanked by the Rays right now and just saw a Mercedes-Benz commercial where a Benz pulled up to the El Rey, a concert venue a block from my old apartment in LA. Then, right after that, I saw a commercial for a movie that has my old boss from LA in it. Now that it's getting cold here on the East Coast, I'm missing LA and realizing that it completely spoiled me and made me an absolute wimp when it comes to the cold. In theory, the autumn is nice, but it's just making me dread the winter weather that's soon to come.

I must admit, I also started missing working in comedy and television recently (see two posts ago), but then I had a nice little email chat with a friend who I used to work with in TV. (Friend, if you're reading this, hope you don't mind I'm using you as an example). Anyway, that friend is currently out of work and has to move out of his apartment in New York because his rent just went up and he can't afford it anymore. It sucks. And I'm sure I'd be in the same place if I were still working freelance in TV. In this economy, I'm glad to be in school and hopefully will come out of it with job stability, which has been the plan all along. Eye on the prize. Eye on the prize.

Second term started today. I'm taking a class on the US health care system. So, hopefully I'll be able to answer the question "What's your take on the health care system?" with something other than "Uh, it's bad." I also started thinking and talking about job possibilities. Good things on the horizon. More on that when things are finalized. Now back to my lame-ass losing Phillies who will make me very sad if they lose this series. The last time they won a World Series I was two. It'd be nice to have an actual memory of the Phillies winning a World Series. Don't you think? I do.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Update alert!

Loyal readers!!! I have learned something very exciting today. Brace yourselves. Remember when I wrote about seeing a man riding a horse, pulling a cart, selling fruit, down the street in my neighborhood in Baltimore? (Don't remember? Read it here.) Well, I was informed that those men are distinctive to Baltimore and even have a term (albeit a highly offensive one) by which they are referred: Arabs. Pronounced "Ay-rabs." Don't believe me? Check it out. Fascinating! My friend and native Marylander, Mike Kelly, informed me of this today, having remembered seeing these men and their horsies in his youth. (They're actually more like ponies.) What a strange, strange place I live in. Upon doing more research, I came across this article. Apparently, "Arabbers" have been in the news fairly recently (okay, a year ago). Not very good news (the pony stables are being condemned), but fascinating, nonetheless.

While I'm updating my readers, I should mention that from my To Do list, I have successfully caught up on "Project Runway," found a doctor, made an appointment, got prescriptions and even dropped off said prescriptions at a pharmacy. All this even before my finals are over. Yes, I am highly productive. I also managed to figure out what a p-value is, although it doesn't even matter. The final exam today was ridiculously hard. It's like they were trying to weed out the mere brilliant (moi) from the absolute geniuses. I witnessed two people cry about the exam. Literally cry. With tears and everything. It was pretty damn hard, but alas, it's over. One more to go and I can continue on with my To Do list. Next up: finish season four of the Wire. Then I start second term on Thursday. I really appreciate the break between terms, Hopkins. All 12 hours of it. (...three of which will be spent watching the Phillies in the World Series-- something I have not witnessed since I was 14. Go Phils!).

Time for the final stretch...

Sunday, October 19, 2008

What if...

When I worked at Tough Crowd with Colin Quinn, the best job ever, (aka Camp Tough Crowd), my co-workers and I would spend a disproportionate amount of time joking to actually working. (someone remind me to take this down when I start looking for jobs again.) One such time at Camp Tough Crowd, a few of us came up with the brilliant idea to create an "angry game show." It would basically consist of the host asking questions in the manner of, for example, "What the hell is the fucking capital of Estonia?" and "Who was the first goddamn African American to win an Academy Award?" Basically the format would include a lot of swearing. Anyway, we thought it was a brilliant, hilarious idea and we were about to have a hit show on our hands, until we told Ken Ober, a producer on TC and former host of MTV's "Remote Control," about it, who responded with something like "Uh, yeah, morons. Great idea. Except you might remember a little show in the 80's with the same premise called 'Remote Control.'" After which he called out, "Hey, Colin [former sidekick on 'Remote Control'], this bunch of idiots came up with the 'brilliant' idea for an angry game show." Colin: "What? Remote Control? You guys are idiots." Idiots? Maybe. Highly amused for the afternoon? Definitely.

Why am I telling this story? Because I was sitting in Biostats the other day, getting frustrated over some problem, and thinking about how badly I wanted to raise my hand and ask a question angry-game-show-style. "Excuse, me, but how the fuck did you get 0.87 as the goddamn standard error?!?" Or, "Uh, yeah, I'm confused... Why the hell do we fucking reject the motherfucking null here?!?" I was so tempted to ask a question in that manner, but then I remembered that a) there are 400 people in my class and I might embarrass myself, b) I don't want to fail based on my choice of words, and c) maybe there is some standard of decorum that I should be following(?). Anyway, the scenario made me laugh to myself and reminded me of working for a comedy show. Then, my mind wandered to "Hmm... I kind of miss working in comedy. That was probably the most fun I'll ever have at a job. Plus, I was concerned with biostats zero times when I worked in comedy." And then I completely forgot what I was confused about in Biostats. Ahh, ignorance was bliss. Now ignorance is driving me crazy as I have a fucking Biostats final in two days.

I'll take "For the love of all that's fucking holy, why in god's motherfucking name am I taking this class?" for $200 dollars, please.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Jackie Darko

Having been in public health now for two months, I have noticed something different about how I view the world. When I worked in comedy I used to walk around and make fun of strangers in my head if there was anything blatantly make-fun-able (I'm a wordsmith, I know) about them. It was a fun way to go about my day. Now, instead of making fun of strangers, I make educated guesses about the probability of when they're going to die. So not as much fun as making fun of people!

For example, I saw a fat woman the other day eating McDonald's and I thought to myself, "barring no freak tragedy, statistics would lead me to believe that that woman is going to die before me. Probably in the near future. I wonder if she knows she's going to die soon. Hmm... Someday soon her excessive weight and poor diet will kill her-- she probably has hypertension and diabetes already-- and I will be still be wandering around this earth for a bit longer when she is dead." Yes, these are the thoughts that now go through my mind. The other day I saw an old woman in a wheelchair with a breathing tube and I thought "I give her two more years at the most. In two years she will most likely be dead. I wonder if she's aware. I probably shouldn't tell her. Yeah, I'll just let her live out her days in blissful ignorance." I walked into a bar (ouch) the other night and there about 20 or so people standing outside smoking. First thought, "Statistically speaking, 10 of you will die of smoking-related causes. Suckas. Will it be you? 50/50. See you inside!"

Talk about morbid. Gee, thanks, public health school. I liked it much better when I would make fun of that fat woman stuffing her fat face with Mickey Dee's rather than predict the timing of her death. I guess a good public health worker would think "Oh dear. How can I set up a program to help this woman change her behavior and start eating healthy and increase her chances of living longer and healthier?" But I don't think that because I've learned that behavior change is hard, that it's probably too late for that woman. Maybe not for her kids, but probably for her. She's most likely not going to change, especially with McDonald's on every corner, and thus, she's going to die soon." (This wasn't supposed to turn into a rant about McDonald's, I swear). The point is, public health school has changed my perspective for the darker. I mean, it's always been dark, just not this dark.

I suppose the knowledge that people are wildly unhealthy is what drove me to go to public health school in the first place. (Well, that and the need to stop writing cheesy lines for reality hosts). I just didn't think I'd be thinking about in this way, this much. Hopefully all this darkness will drive me to do something about it. I mean, that is the point of the entire field of public health, right? We shall see. I've still got 3 quarters (and 3 finals and a paper) left. In the meantime, I'll stay away from the kitchen knives. Toodles!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

To Do

With midterms two weeks ago and finals next week, I have let pretty much everything else in my life fall to the wayside. Here is a list of things that I hope/need to do after my finals are over next week:

Find a dentist that takes my dental insurance.
Make a dentist appointment.
Find a doctor that takes my insurance.
Make a doctor appointment for the sole purpose of getting new prescriptions written, since I switched insurance since moving to Baltimore.
Find a hairdresser in Baltimore who won't fuck up my hair.
Get my hair cut.
Buy a lampshade to replace the one that the movers broke three months ago.
Find a car mechanic that won't screw me and that is in walking distance to my apartment.
Get my car tuned up.
Hang the mirror that's been sitting, still unpacked, on my floor since I moved in three months ago.
Buy tissues.
Finish watching season four of The Wire.
Catch up on Project Runway.
Drive to the closest Trader Joe's in Towson and stock up on salsa, pizza dough and Barbara's Shredded cereal.
Figure out where I want to live after school and what I want to do with my life.
Find a dry cleaner in my neighborhood.
Figure out a Halloween costume that has nothing to do with Sarah Palin.
Catch up on sleep and wine.

Here is a list of things I need to do before my finals are over:
Study for my finals.
Figure out what the hell a p-value is.

Shit. That's a lot. Or, I could just catch up on sleep and wine now and call it a day.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Worlds Collide

As a student at the Hopkins School of Public Health, I have almost no reason to set foot on the main campus where the undergrad and all the non-medical-related grad programs are housed. But the other day was Yom Kippur and the Jew thing was happening on the main campus, so I went. As I was walking through the campus, I passed by a bulletin board full of various announcements including a poster for a "Campus Comedy Tour!" On closer inspection I realized that an old friend from my days in the New York comedy scene was performing that night-- the very funny and charming Julian McCullough. (I've been trying to avoid using names in this blog, but only 4 people read this and nothing wrong with a little publicity). "Holy shit! I know him!" Leaving the campus that night, there was another poster taped to the ground.... before I realized it, I had stepped on Julian's face. "Holy shit! I just stepped on Julian's face!" I didn't see him perform... as I had, yes, biostats homework to do. But, I did meet up with Julian last night for a few drinks and to apologize for stepping on his face.

Aside from it being great to see him and see him doing so well, on a selfish note, it was insanely refreshing to be reminded of my former self as a comedian. Not to mention, totally weird having someone from my former comedy life in my current public health Baltimore life. It also made me realize that my comedy muscle has been atrophying in public health school, but hanging out with a comic brought some of it back to life. And there's nothing as rewarding as being able to make a comedian laugh. I also haven't been made to laugh that much since I've been in Baltimore.

Another very cool thing about the whole encounter is that the campus comedy tour he's on is being sponsored by Trojan Condoms. Hello! Public health and comedy! Talking to Julian got me thinking about all the comedy-meets-public-health-meets-p.r. things I can do when I get out of school, which was very inspiring and reassuring. I can't help but think something was going on in the universe that Yom Kippur day that made me see the sign with my friend's face that in turn gave me a renewed excitement about comedy and public health and reminded me why I'm doing what I'm doing here in Baltimore. (Julian, bet you didn't know you made such an impact).

As comedians are notorious for being able to drink (as opposed to public health students), I did wake up more "tired" than usual this morning, and to the sound of screaming outside. At first I thought is was the usual Baltimore morning city sounds. But, once my brain started functioning again, I realized that it was cheering, not screaming, and that the Baltimore Marathon was running past my apartment building. I love watching marathons even more than running them, so I dragged myself out of bed to watch and cheer the runners on. Another inspiring event in less than 24 hours. What? And even though after my third and last marathon, I said I'd never run another, I think I may sign up for one more next year.

The scotch is still making my brain fuzzy, so I can't think of anything witty or insightful to end this post with, so I'll end with some pictures of the marathon going by my building.... (coming soon). Cheers to a fun and inspiring past twelve hours.

Now you know where I live, stalkers!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Third World

Today, walking home from the market in the City of Baltimore, I saw a man selling fruit from the back of a cart being pulled by a horse on which the man was riding.

A man. A horse. A cart. Baltimore.

I wish I had my camera.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Let's Curb Our Superlatives, Shall We?

I've been meaning to put this picture up for a long time. So, finally, here it is. The first time I saw one of these benches, I thought it was a joke. But, these benches are all over the City of Baltimore. I still haven't decided if I think whomever came up with the idea has a great sense of humor or is just completely oblivious to the rest of America. I'm not saying Baltimore is the worst city in America, but it is by no stretch of the imagination the greatest. I would indeed like to meet someone who truly believes what this bench states. I'm sure those people are out there, (but my guess is they've never been to New York or LA or Chicago or Philly or San Francisco or D.C. or San Diego or, or, or...) The greatest irony about these benches is that pretty much every one I've seen is in some way falling apart or has a homeless person sleeping on it. Oh, Baltimore, if these benches were put up for irony sake, maybe you are the greatest city in America. Because any city with a sense of humor is my kinda town.

While I'm on a Baltimore kick, I thought I'd share some pictures from my explorations. There actually are a lot of cool things in this city. One of my all-favorite museums ever is here (and serves as the turn-around point for my latest running route along the water). If you've never been to the American Visionary Arts Museum, I highly suggest it. It houses art by self-taught artists, many of whom were institutionalized psychiatric patients. You'd be amazed what severe OCD can produce. Not to mention is has a killer museum store. Shopping!

Another one of my favorite Baltimore things is the Baltimore Farmers Market, which is gianormous and five minute walk from my apartment, under highway 83. Yes, it's under a highway. It's awesome. It's open every Sunday and I've made it a habit to go every week. Kind of like church. Except without the god or the praying. Okay, it's nothing like church. (And what does a Jew know about church anyway?) But, I do see lots of people I know every week, so that's something. Plus, in addition to all the produce stands, there's prepared food, including the greatest falafel I've ever had. Better than Afula falafel in Israel, so take that, Israeli falafel. Maybe next week I'll take a picture of the falafel, but for now, here are a few scenes from the Baltimore Farmers Market, taken not so recently.

See. Under a highway:

A Cajun stand that makes these incredible breakfast sandwiches. And a guy's back. I'm an awesome photographer, I know:

Tomatoes. (This picture is from a few weeks ago, clearly, as it's not really tomato season anymore.)
In case you can't see, the sign there says, "You may see some scars on our tomatoes-- They are from hail. Just a surface blemish!!"

(What! The tomatoes are literate!)

I recall those tomatoes being damn good. Could that tomato sign be a metaphor for Baltimore? Forgive its surface blemishes. It's still great. Maybe. At least that's what its poor, dilapidated, but optimistic benches would have you believe.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Simple Math: Palin - L = Pain

Welcome to what has become my weekly blog (but will be more frequent, I promise). It was a busy week, though, with a friend in town and Rosh Hashana, which included a trip to Philly and a trip to D.C., and a debate-watching party at my place last night. But now I'm back.

First, the debate. So much has been said about Palin's idiocy, so I won't bother with more Palin-bashing, although it is fun. But watching the debate last night, I couldn't help but think that our political system and this country is turning into a big joke. Yeah, she's an idiot, but she also might actually be the first woman in the White House because there are even more idiots in this country who actually believe that she belongs there. There are people who want someone "just like us" running the country (if and when McCain keels over while in office, of course). Why? Elitism is not a bad thing! Check out this fake meeting between Obama and the West Wing's Jed Bartlett, written by Aaron Sorkin. He sums up this point much better than me. Palin deserves to be in office as much as I do, and I don't deserve to be there at all. It's insulting that she may be the first woman in office. And as a woman, it is certainly not something I can be proud of.

Enough of that. This blog is supposed to be about public health.... (although I could talk about McCain's idea for a $5000 health insurance subsidy that will only benefit the wealthy, not the middle class who will have to use a large chunk of their income to pay for the rest of what the subsidy won't cover... but I won't get into it.). I will continue on with politics though. Yesterday, I heard Congressman John Sarbanes speak at school and holy shit, I was impressed. Sarbanes, being at the school for public health, spoke about the importance of public health, but in a way that at least seemed like he wasn't pandering to his audience. He's actually been working on public health initiatives, including No Child Left Inside, a program to get kids outside (the average kid spends 4 minutes outside playing, and something like 4 hours in front of the TV, video game, or online). What I like about this initiative is that not only will it get fat kids moving and benefit their health, but it'll also get kids in touch with the environment.... which will in turn lead to an increased awareness and some feeling of obligation to help protect it (Another fact he threw out was something like kids can recognize 40+ brand logos and 3 types of flora or fauna. Sad.) Anyway, Sarbanes was smart and very thoughtful in answering questions. You could tell he knew what he was talking about (a nice contrast to the potential future V.P). His next stop after Hopkins was D.C. to vote on the bailout plan once again. Neat! Politics in action!

This weekend is all about studying for me. I told myself I wasn't going to worry about grades, and I'm not worrying, but I'm finding that I actually care about them. Also because I may have rocked my Epi exam, but not Biostats. (Annoyingly, I got the math questions right but messed up on the names of concepts, which were worth the same as the tough math questions. Grr. It's like they put those concept questions in just for the English majors. Oh wait.) So, it's Biostats weekend for me! I haven't posted any pictures in awhile, so maybe I'll get outside and finally take some of Baltimore in Autumn, which is actually quite nice. Who knew? (Not Sarah Palin, because she doesn't know anything. Oh, I'm hilarious!).