Jan 19, 2007

Science and Debauchery

Apparently being a published scientist involves scheduling interviews and otherwise acting as your own PR agent. Who knew? M. has been running around trying to manage what looks to me like a science-media frenzy. But as I told him yesterday, unless his stuff ends up in the science section of The Economist I will remain unimpressed. Well--that's not strictly true, but an article in my favorite news magazine would definitely win me over for life.

On Monday, unsuspecting, I went to a workplace holiday party with Bartender Flatmate as his date. The restaurant he works at rented a swank downtown bar for the occasion, but we got kicked out a few hours too early when an irate co-worker mooned the audience during the gift exchange, I QUIT written on his ass. Restaurant workers are a rowdy bunch, and soon the whole inebriated lot surged into the quiet street and into an empty, ill-prepared bar.

Sober I wasn't, but still I think I was the most sober person there. Strangers approached me and drawled all sorts of nonsensical things. Bartender Flatemate pointed out his workplace crushes one by one and, later, smoking on the street, confessed to his "#1" that he liked her. One girl, who acted as though she was on speed but was probably just maximally "type A," was talking to me about one thing or another when a raving drunk came up to us, pressed us together and shouted, "Two of my favorite girls. TOPLESS FOR THIRTY DOLLARS?"

"Come on, you ain't got thirty dollars," the girl said.

"Hehe, I'm BROKE," the guy admitted. "Free, then?" I think he was looking at my face for at least ten seconds before he realized he'd never met me before.

Maybe the high point of the evening--though there were so many high points--was being hit on by a self-loathing loser while Bartender Flatmate was talking to his crush #1 outside. The guy had long, unkempt hair, equally unkempt facial hair, a long flannel shirt, pot belly, and a bitterly self-conscious way of talking.

Loser: Are you calling someone on the phone?

Me: I'm sending a text message.

Loser: I don't know how to send a text message.

Me: I can show you if you want. It's not that hard.

Loser: No, I don't need text messages. I don't have any friends.

Me: I don't either, but if you send a text message you don't have to talk on the phone.

Loser: So, are you here to pick up somebody? Everyone's here to pick up somebody.

Me: No, I'm not. I'm here with my roommate for his work party.

Loser: Sure, uh huh. I believe you.

Me: Ok, fine, don't believe me.

Exit Loser; enter Bartender Flatmate. But later, Loser returned.

Loser: (Taps me on shoulder) Do you think that guy is cuter than me?

Me: This guy? He's my roommate. I don't know.

Loser: So should I just give up then? Just like every time?

Me: I have a boyfriend. I'm not looking for a date.

Loser: Sure. Well, I have a girlfriend.

Me: Ok. Well, you're welcome to hang around if you want.

Loser: Fine. I'll go. It's clear I'm just not cool enough for you.

After that, I was fully ready to escape. We got back to the apartment at around the same time that M. was arriving from the airport. He was in New York for a three-day uber-bender and his friends' ultra-extravagant wedding. The bride was the Boss's daughter, whose father is taking us to Hawaii next week. I haven't had anything resembling a vacation since March. I am looking forward to it.

Jan 12, 2007

Lawsuits and Good Luck

What a wonderful morning. After a late wedding-party night, I woke up unusually early to take the train for an 8:15 doctor's appointment. I waited for the train in record-low temperatures. I missed the appointment anyway. Then, I staggered to work dead-tired and spent the morning researching libel law.

Yes, libel law! That's how swimmingly the wedding party went last night. I sat across from a particularly awkward co-worker, and by the end of the night I was actually afraid of being sued (by somebody else--not the co-worker). I won't give any more details, lest they amount to libel--what doesn't?--but suffice to say, I am extraordinarily grateful for this state's 1-year statute of limitations.

Nonetheless, the idea that there are people out there who truly hate me and appear to desire my ruin is rather distressing.

Such things would drive me mad with anxiety if not for how lucky I have been otherwise. My job may not be terribly exciting, but it is stable, and although I once despised my lazy unwillingness to find another job, I now realize that staying here was probably the right choice. For if I get into graduate school, my boss has offered to take care of my tuition if I keep working part-time. I say: and spare myself a hundred thousand dollars in student loans? Hell, yes! It is an offer I can't refuse.

And our boss is paying for M. and I to go to Hawaii soon on a work-related retreat having to do with M.'s work, not mine. My work, it seems, will involve eating lunch and exploring the island.

My flatmates are perfect; my apartment is perfect.

M. and I get along better by the week, and meanwhile he is poised for spectacular academic success.

I am now taking bets over what species of killjoy will next spoil my good fortune. An unforeseen lawsuit? E-coli? A dreadful bicycle accident? An affair? A rare tumor? Or an "unknown unknown," as Mr. Rumsfeld would say?

Jan 8, 2007

New Year

On New Year's Eve, we planned a balloon drop. For an hour and a half I pumped air into cheap balloons; then M. and Liam (our artist flatmate, whose wife Renee lives with us too) stuffed them in opaque paper tablecloths taped to the ceiling. When it was all set up, it looked as though our ceiling sagged.

The first party guest was a quiet, austerely dressed Italian girl named Arianna whom none of us had ever seen before. She stood awkwardly in the kitchen with us, refusing drink. She told Renee about her (Arianna's) novel, and Renee told Arianna about her (Renee's) paintings. Then Arianna saw the balloon drop and pointed at it.

"What's that?" she asked.

"Have you ever seen the movie Coccoon?" said Liam, deadpan.

"Water damage," said M., equally deadpan.

Unsurprisingly, Arianna didn't stick around for very long. But we were happy with that; everyone we knew and dozens we didn't know came to our apartment that night and danced 'til three in the morning. M. played the best DJ set of his amateur career and our common space was filled to capacity. I ran around in what was perhaps the most absurd outfit I've ever worn (and I have worn many absurd outfits)--it made me look like, if you can imagine this, a whorish cab-driver candy-cane. Picture hat, boots, dress pattern and dress length accordingly. An ordinary-looking but apparently rather kinky guy with glasses approached me early in the party and insinuated that he wanted me to hook up with him and his girlfriend. "What kind of guy do you like?" he asked.

We were standing in front of the DJ booth, so I pointed at M. "That's my boyfriend," I said.

"Oh. Do you have any hot girlfriends you can direct me to?"

"I don't have friends," I told him, and meant it. Why else would I be dancing in front of the DJ booth alone?

A fifty-some year old woman bopped happily a few feet away from me. I have no idea how she got there, or how she heard of our party, but she danced all night in a pink tutu and glittery blue tights. I think she garnered even more stares than I did.

At midnight, M. was too nervous to give a countdown, so he stopped the music and shouted, "IT'S MIDNIGHT! NOW, EVERYONE JUMP UP AND TEAR DOWN THE CEILING!" Everyone did, ripping madly at the white paper, and soon dozens of balloons of all colors fell to the floor. Enter the irrepressible human urge to stomp on fallen balloons: a general ruckus ensued. Amid the ruckus I slipped behind the DJ booth and M. and I shared our first new year's kiss. A good end to a relatively good year.

Now for new year's resolutions:

1. Drink less
2. Eat less
3. Exercise more
4. Get to work on time (relatedly, get to bed before 2am on weeknights)
5. Get into graduate school: largely out of my hands now, but 'twould be great.
6. Replace current set of contact lenses, which I've worn for countless months and which are probably deteriorating in my eyes as I write
7. Find a way to prevent estranged brother from killing himself
8. Spend less money: indeed, consider saving some (closely related to items 1 and 2)
9. Learn calculus
10. Plan things (vacations etc) rather than perpetually stumbling into them
11. Do something about social anxiety disorder
12. Start talking to people outside my apartment
13. Get in touch with old friends
14. Stop being a friendless steel wall of a person living vicariously through the successes of my boyfriend--I mean, be a better person

This is where I go to bed, as I'm working hard at violating (1) and (4) at this very moment.

Happy 2007, invisible Internet comrades.