Monday, October 25, 2004

Work, arbeit, kaam........

A lot of it, all fragmented into different tasks. As soon as I stop concentrating on one job, another pops into my attention screen. And of course, in the midst of all this, my thesis doesn't figure anywhere. I console myself with the thought that it all adds up to a dissertation in the end. Hey, if it can work for others, sure it can work for me! But there is always satisfaction in a task completed, a job well done, the promise of exciting research (how nerdy does this sound, jeez!). And the potential for travel, which is a great motivator for me. I once told a friend that what I love about being a doctoral student is what that situation does for me, throw me in the company of some very intelligent and cool people, give me a work environment that is motivating and rather laid back at the same time, and provides enough dough to travel to conferences and projects in interesting places.

In the past four years, I've used the excuse of conferences to travel to Greece, Romania, Germany, Belgium, France, Italy and Spain. I hope to use the excuse of work to travel to various parts of South-east Asia. When I compare my current state of mind with what my thoughts and beliefs were about 4 years ago, I can discern the beneficial effects of displacement. Change can be traumatic for some, but it can be enlightening for others, and I certainly am happy that I was able to finally break out of a self-imposed shell to fly out and see the world.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

I waste too much time on absolutely unproductive delightful things. Like meeting buddies at the local Starbucks. Not for a moment should someone imagine that I go there for the coffee. In fact, except for times when I desperately need a caffeine shot (before meetings with the advisor), I steer clear of the vile stuff whenever possible. I would have probably resigned myself to Starbucks, and imagined that it is alright to live with such mediocrity, but then, I went to Italy. And the Italians completely ruined Starbucks for me. The espressos there were so incredible and so consistently good. I brought back a bag of beans for Em (which a wonderful bartender gave as a gift), and when they were all consumed, we were miserable. A coffee hunt was launched, but alas, the brand of coffee was nowhere to be found outside of Rome. So back to mediocrity. But these days, when I go to Starbucks, I usually settle for ice tea. Which is still painful, because at home I only drink Darjeeling.

Anyway, this was not supposed to be about tea and coffee, but I digressed. So this evening I spent a delightful hour drinking a yogurt smoothie (still no coffee ha ha) and joining Suzy in her admiration of the men at our University campus. Suzy was firm that the best looking men should be banned from getting married and should be available for payment to all women. I think I agree, although I think the payment business should be optional (as a woman I'm used to the idea of not paying for male company). Met a friend's husband on the way and we discussed the possibilities of screening Final Solution at our campus. I think we'll have to settle for driving to the Irvine screening, and it would be interesting to meet up with Rakesh.

Yesterday Em and I went for dinner to Sabina's. It was one of those dinners where Em and I held forth grand truths about Life and gossipped about the love life of our friends. All over delicious Romanian food. Besides Starbucks, dinner and conversation with Em is also one of my life's endearing anchoring ritual. Just like driving with S without the music on, or Bec and I working out in the gym together. It used to be Simpsons at 6, but that's become less and less common. Too much to do. We are getting busier.
Sex is great, but every once in a while a girl needs conversation that stirs up the rustbelt in her cranium. I mean I'm never ever bored in the company of S, and we have very enjoyable conversations and comfortable silences. But all our interests do not correspond miraculously, and he needs buddies to talk about cars and taekwondo, just as I need verbal sparring partners to debate postcolonial literature. Which I believe is great, because I can practically smell the claustrophobia in couples who study the same things in school, had the same kind of friends and then hooked up in a political rally. My friends are incredibly interesting and intelligent people, and talking to them is always fun. But once in a while I need the infusion of fresh experiences and ideas. I really cannot pick too deep with my friends, because we've picked each other over already. We know each other's intellectual, political and sexual preferences.

Hence at times, I go looking for some talk buddies. These last few weeks, I have been emailing back and forth with two guys I found at an internet forum, and it's been fun talking to them about stuff I normally don't get to talk about. Like mixed marriages and what's dismal about what part of Asia. I have a feeling this would peter out in a few months, it is always a strain to keep up email correspondence, and I have friends who haven't written to me in ages. But so far these guys seem lively enough.