Feb 27, 2008

(Addendum) Drinking Close to a Gallon of Sake on a Weeknight: Lesson in Japanese Cuisine or Totally Fucking Stupid?

Both, actually. It was excellent sake that is evidently hard to find outside of Japan. But mostly I was totally fucking stupid. I took a sick day last Friday not because I didn't "feel like" going to work but because I literally could not lift myself out of bed until 2pm. Upon which I crawled around the room on hands and knees for another hour, nauseated and with a painful headache behind my eyes. When I went back to sleep around 2:30am I still felt like hell. It was an experience I'd rather not repeat.

Backtracking a bit, the Industry couple invited us out to a sushi spot where they are friends with the owner. He brought us food he wanted us to try: sashimi flown in from Japan; delicate salads; fried fish heads and collars. (I ate an eye.) Once the place closed down, he sat with us, going back to the kitchen periodically to bring us rarer and rarer bottles of sake.

It was a great experience up until about midnight, at which point it took a turn toward the majestically stupid.

Craigslist: Lesson in Sociology, or Heart of Darkness?

I know you are slavering in anticipation of my latest catch-up novella. Here it is; you're welcome!

Sam--bartender flatmate--decided to move out with his girlfriend, causing M. to stop speaking with him for weeks. The Frenchy flatmates can't stand living with us anymore, so they're going back to France early March. To "practice their art" or something. Have I mentioned that the Frenchies and the Sam/girlfriend axis couldn't stand one another either? I can't say I'm devastated to see this particular arrangement reach its end.

Apparently we have no friends left--or none interested in living with us, anyway--because it became clear after a month or so that we would have to resort to Craigslist for the 3rd time. Perhaps we truly are as loathsome as our current housemates would have you think. Anyhow, M. was busy, so the secretarial task of coordinating Craigslist meetings fell to me.

Too bad I am a social disaster. I don't think I can adequately describe how much stress the whole ordeal caused me. I couldn't sleep. At work, I couldn't concentrate on my job. Possibly one hour's worth of work was done in those several days. Instead, I sent or received maybe a hundred emails last week. Then, after the interviews were over and it was time to start dishing out rejections, I began shunning email altogether. Every person we interviewed, save two, emailed me back telling us how great we were, how great the apartment was, how much they loved our cats, how well they sensed we got along with them, and of course, why we ought to choose them as our housemates. One guy attached a picture of his cat. A few offered to pay more in rent if we'd only accept them. How would I reject all these kind people who knew where we lived? What if we saw them around? Do we say we reject you because we find your voice grating, or because we just like someone else better? I couldn't make myself respond to these people. Merely skimming through their emails filled me with a measure of horror. When I did sleep, I had Craigslist nightmares. Finally I caved in and asked M. to respond to the emails for me. He thought I was nuts; he didn't see what the issue was, but he wrote the rejections in a matter of minutes, and lo!--I could sleep again.

Yes, I do have a problem.

Once I get past the feelings of dread, I can appreciate our Craigslist experience as a lesson on social groups. I don't know what it was about the cues we included in our ad--price? likes and dislikes? the way we described ourselves?--but the people we interviewed were a demographically homogenous bunch. All college grads: Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Cambridge, MIT, Stanford. All white, more or less. Mostly male. Most worked for tech companies or did research.

We interviewed two girls. One of them, it turns out, not only went to our alma mater but also graduated the same year as we did, and lived in my co-op while I was "studying"(ha) in Italy. We even have mutual friends.

As I said, two of the people we interviewed did not write us back begging to live with us. One of these happens to be a post-doc in the department where M.'s a ph.d. candidate. His parents are also faculty here, and he was a high-school classmate of M.'s good friend (the one who is also my boss's daughter).

In sum, I have learned that when you post an ad on Craigslist, the responses you get will be from a random sample of the local population. Further, when we go about picking roommates, how close they are to our social group has nothing to do with our decision.

Which two people do you think we picked?

Feb 15, 2008


I'm done applying. Again. For now.

Writing my statement of purpose was once again painful, a belabored reminder of both how much I hate selling myself on paper and how much my writing ability has deteriorated. I sat in a cafe, staring at my laptop screen with my hands limp over the keys, listlessly typing out the flattest sentences imaginable: I want to be in this program because... ugh, delete. I believe that this program would be the best environment for me because... no, delete. Also, I think that... ew, "also"? Delete, delete, delete.

For months and months now I've been writing material for the second grade, so it's no wonder I'm struggling with the adult stuff. And rather than taking classes requiring papers, I've been taking classes requiring problem sets. Then there's the issue of journals: I used to keep journals all the time, from the first grade onward. But ever since I started living with my boyfriend, I've found journal-writing to be nearly impossible. Hence the blogging, but I haven't been doing much of that, either.

I used to have a few friends I would email regularly--a few long emails a month, narratives really, unabridged stories that, if printed, would span five or six single-spaced pages. Whether or not that's desirable (probably not), at least it's writing practice. But I can't remember the last time I sent an email to one of these friends. A year ago, maybe?

I am anyhow awful at writing these days. Solution: blog more. Can I, will I? I think I will try.