Friends! Fear not, for I have not abandoned you! I have been reticent these past -- goodness! -- fourteen days because, lo and behold, I have been out! In the human world! Interacting! Schmoozing! Mingling! Carousing! Being a real live person!
And when I wasn't doing that, I was ensnared in very long books that I had to read very rapidly, books like Sophie's Choice, which overall just confounded me because what are passages that raunchy doing in a book that is pretty much about the Holocaust? What bizarre dichotomy is that supposed to be? Am I supposed to be simultaneously aroused and unhappy? Because that really is a poor concoction.
And when I wasn't doing that, I was here, at my desk, feeling my body heat seep into the cushion of this $7 office chair and typing away at what I guess is titled "The Great American All-You-Can-Eat Never-Ending Pie Buffet: a memoir of pies." Twenty-six pages of pie, recollected with more than just a little nostalgia. But I'm getting ahead of myself here, so I'll retreat and recharge and tell you what I came here to tell you. Go get snacks- if you're Karli, go get a pickle. (Karli remains the only individual I've ever known who actually gets pickles at movie theaters. I think she should start a club of Pickle Enthusiasts - it really is the weirdest thing for a movie concession stand to sell. Likewise, the creepiest thing someone can offer you as refreshment? Fruit leather. I've thought about this. A lot.)
Fun fact: Being a human is often a very difficult undertaking. There is no Playfair for graduate school, and while I'm grateful that I never ever have to undergo that divine, sweaty, meet-n-greet torture again, I do kind of wish there was a more direct way to, you know, meet people. I had this ridiculous American Girl book that my mother got me as a birthday gift once called, aptly, The Caring and Keeping of Friends - essentially a juvenile etiquette book, but it made friendships sound a lot like tomato plants: stubborn, needy, and frequently unfruitful.
So while there are no Orientation Groups (TOM DO YOU REMEMBER HOW WE MET ON THE FIRST DAY OF COLLEGE EVER? YOU TOTALLY DO) and no hall parties and no forced socialization via absolute isolation, there is a handy-dandy listserv that, sadly, acted as my lone fishing line out into society. So when an event is advertised, I mark it largely on my calendar, drag Rob along, and we do our best to be interesting and not painfully couple-y, which is a lot harder than you'd think. But these past two weeks have been jammed with get-togethers, in backyards and on front stoops and in local watering holes, and slowly we are accumulating phone numbers and facebook friendships and real ones, too. And, as we all know, I love gettin' digits.
But what was really most relieving, dear readers, and what I want to impart to any and all who are considering sprinting from undergrad into graduate school, especially from a place as incestuous as Hamilton, was last night, at the Fundraising Speed Dating event, which I volunteered to bartend for because I am still utterly unemployed, and I like beer, and sometimes I like people, too. So while the daters were chatting each other up and down, I'm yammering with the other gal on bar duty, who happily shares her cigarettes and opens the wine bottles. And she's pretty much everything I have trouble being--vivacious, open, outwardly friendly--but at some point during the evening she admits how hard it's been, trying to go out and be social when she has a dog and privacy at home, how really arduous friend-making can be.
And I was just all, "OMIGOD I KNOW RIGHT?" Except I meant it. And it was so, so, so relieving, knowing I was not this awkward little pigeon, cooped up all day in my apartment, utterly inept at simple chitchatting, but that everyone was just as daunted, and moreover, everyone was just as willing and ready to be friendly - it just takes a little booze to get everyone, as my folks would say, situated.
Unfortunately, my bartending stint ended in semi-disaster. I spent about two and a half hours essentially doing squats, bending from the mini-fridge to hand up Yuenglings and chilled bottles of wine-bought-by-the-crate to all those thirsty flirters, and today, my hamstrings are strung tighter than a banjo, giving me this really attractive, hobbling gait. Anticipating the oncoming pain, or at least realizing there was something unhappy going on in my knees, Rob and I spent most of our time at the following potluck sitting outside on the front stoop, where we discussed such things as: Brown Recluse spiders, my ever-expanding fear of alligators and now Brown Recluse spiders, various names for cockroaches, and Girl Talk the board game, not the downfall of Western Music as we knew it. Those spiders are fucking terrifying.
But there was also a lovely gathering at the overflowing bookstore downtown last Thursday night, a reading created just for us first-years, and hells yes I volunteered to stand in front of all those folks and almost pass out. Readings always make me anxious, but there''s few feelings more rewarding, or more satisfying, than presenting your own work in your own voice and knowing folks liked it. Case in point: when Katie and I gave our long-delayed reading for the road trip we took in Summer '08, I don't think I'd ever felt more stressed - I was too tense to even finish my buffalo fingers, and everyone knows how much I love that damn diner buffalo sauce. The anxiety only mounted as not one professor, nor two, but pretty much the entire English department filed in - maybe they had carpooled? But, of course, as anyone who was there knows, it went amazingly well, and I was too buzzed on adrenaline to sleep well that night.
This Thursday night reading was much the same - people just kept coming, pretty much the entire program, awkwardly assembled in a store that is fit to hold about eight audience members, and we had a crowd of at least thirty, maybe more. I shook like a leaf through the first two readings, and then they introduced me, and I went up, made some self-conscious remark about my height, and proceeded to knock their goddamn socks off!
No, really. I was a wreck, I couldn't breathe right, my face was turning sunburned red, but everyone was laughing and I think that's why I'm such a smart ass sometimes - because there's few things that feel better than making someone laugh, and laugh hard, and tell you how much they laughed afterwards when you're mingling out on the sidewalk, and then you all go get beers and play some darts and feel the world settle somewhat, in a good way, in a way that makes you feel less afraid of, or at least intimidated by, your own life.
And it was a brilliantly timed event, too, as I had my first deadline looming ever nearer, the dreaded Memoir draft. I'd been working on a piece that was supposed to catalogue all the times I'd been naked when you shouldn't be naked, spanning shared baths as a child to skinny dipping in high school to things that should not be discussed on the internet, but the piece had taken an intense nosedive into the realm of sadness and melodrama, all cliched body image bullshit, and I was very displeased. But then there was this reading, and I remembered, oh yeah, I can make people laugh sometimes, I can be fucking funny, and that, combined with Rob and I watching the Great American Pie Cook-Off Challenge on the Food Network (where some ass tried to turn in a watermelon pie for the citrus category), made me embark on the piece I ended up composing in a 72 hour blind frenzy of creation - an eight-part essay all about pie. We'll see how it goes over with my peers.
In the meantime, we've been keeping busy with our ambitious reading lists. Rob rode his bike 20 miles over to Fort Fisher, where I was waiting for him, and he was too dehydrated and I was too sunburned to really enjoy the beach itself, but this little Pomeranian walked by some friendly old lady decided to nestle between my ankles for a while and it made me unspeakably happy. The job situation is still bleak, but we're hoping the war will end soon, hopefully with us not on welfare.
And I promise I will type more regularly - but I warn you, now that the faucet's on, you might have trouble shutting it off. See what I did there? No? Me neither. Good night!