today i'm in the vice chancellor's office, filling in for his secretary while everyone in the office is in a meeting. all i have to do is answer the phone if it rings, which means i have several hours to eat peanut butter m&ms and read. i could really get into this.
ever since my flight home from oakland on sunday, i've been thinking about plane relationships. you know what i'm talking about: the sudden intimate friendships that flourish for a few short hours of travel. i don't go for that kind of thing. i'll shake your hand and introduce myself, i'll smile politely as you settle in next to me, hell, i'll even ignore you when you say, "gee, i hope you fine ladies don't decide to gang up on me!" and wink. but i am not interested, no offense, in your failed marraige, in what an attention-grabbing hypocrite your wife is, in how much you're paying your lawyer.
and it amazes me that some people are interested. we hadn't even finished boarding on sunday and the woman two seats down from me already knew so much about the man between us that she could tell him exactly what he needed to do to fix his life. "you just need to CUT TIES with that awful woman." by being within hearing distance of their conversation i found out more about a total stranger's love life than some of my closest friends know about mine.
i was reading my ex-boss's online diary (it doesn't seem like a 'blog') and found some real gems in her lovelorn ramblings about her affair with a married man (my other ex-boss). an example:
I never really told him my opinion of his wife because, well, if you can't say anything nice...
But he decided he wanted to know, so I told him. I didn't say everything I wanted to say, but I got most of it out. I said, "She's a bitch."
hey, new york? hello, boston? see you in september.
i'll let you in on a secret. i consider myself intelligent, but i'm fairly sure that, upon meeting me for the first time, people can't tell.
so imagine the state my nerves were in as i walked (see below) from my brother's place to gaylord's coffee house to meet greg of "geese aplenty", someone i was sure would respond to anything less than rapier wit and dizzying intelligence by striking down the culprit with some sort of conversational trident or a rod of intellectual lightning. frightening scenarios ran through my mind, scenarios that involved me asking, "so, where are the geese?" and laughing desperatey, scenarios that involved greg saying, "you weren't kidding about the 'poser' bit," and walking away in an insulted huff, scenarios that ended with a disgraceful exit from blogdom and from the respect of its elites.
but if greg was disappointed in me, he didn't show it. he was as funny as he is on his website (and i showed my appreciation of his humor by coughing heartily, which is like laughing heartily for the infirm), and he was as nice as he is in his comments (though he says "dude" less, i think).
and when i emailed him afterwards with a less than eloquent "you're cool in person!", he responded with a comment that included the words "charm" and "pulchritude" and reminded me how fortunate i am to have enlisted the internet friendship of someone who can always make me feel good by complimenting me with a word i don't know. (but i looked it up, and in case you didn't know either, "charm" means "the quality of pleasing or delighting".)
so the moral of the story is, i either a) come off better than i thought i did, or b) am happily oblivious to the disenchantment of others upon meeting me in person for the first time. either way, though, i got a hand delivered mix cd out of the deal, so i figure i win.
i would move to oakland simply for the ten minute walk i just took from a coffee house to my brother's apartment. it went like this:
- stroll down charming, neighborhoodly downtown street;
- cross over small wooded block;
- take short dirt path to arterial; cross arterial;
- walk up residential street;
- when passing father and daughter who have tied one end of a jump rope to a tree so father can swing the other end and daughter can jump through, hop through yourself (failing miserably is okay) and exchange friendly hello;
- turn onto sheltered, hidden concrete path up the hill, crowned at the top with a steep, rustic-looking staircase;
- emerge onto winding uphill road and follow it up;
- turn into courtyard with view of oakland, san francisco and the bridges and bay in between, and you're home.
a walk in san diego (i should say la jolla, actually; it's its own species of town) goes like this:
- walk out of apartment complex and cross street. watch out for jaguars driven by doctors (you'll know them by their personalized license plates e.g. "DR JAG", "MY VETTE", etc.), because "pedestrian" just means "speed bump" to them;
- head to the intersection with the four-way stop. you'll know when you've gotten there because when you stand in its middle, all you can see is cement from horizon to horizon;
- if you can find the other side of the intersection, keep going down the street. admire the unending rows of townhouse clones, because there's nothing else to see;
- arrive at traffic light. at this point, take out the novel you've brought with you and read it. the light will change around page 315;
- cross the street and turn into parking lot. it's two and a half miles wide with rows of parking spaces separated by lanes that are exactly one car width, and the speed limit is 45. if you can make it across alive, head into the city-sized grocery store;
- because i'm pretty sure that's where everyone in the entire town hangs out most of the time.
(they say distance makes the heart grow fonder. i guess 500 miles isn't far enough.)