Monday, December 17, 2007

Lessons from Joe's Basement

Well. It's been an interesting couple of weeks. At some point in the past week or two I realized that it's finals time for those still fortunate enough to be blessed with blue books, and as noted previously I started thinking about college. I was in the middle of getting all nostalgic when I stopped for a moment and remembered that I haven't really cut the cord. Part of this is my own doing-- I live with a college friend, I see other college friends at least once a week and talk to them all day to Gchat (bless you, Gchat). Hell, there is a giant YALE banner hanging on a wall in our apartment. The only physical thing that even vaguely suggests that something is different is my degree, which also happens to be hanging on a wall in our apartment, but that's really just a piece of paper.

To be honest, I was starting to feel a little guilty about all this stuff. Here I am, purporting to be a grown-up, when really I do all the stuff I did for four years. It's just that now I put on grown-up clothes and go to an office Monday through Friday. I still do my laundry from 11 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. on Tuesdays. I still go to the gym to avoid other necessary tasks-- before it was reading; now it's grocery shopping. I have not ironed since I started my job. Seriously. Before I just avoided the wrinkly shirts. Now I wear them under sweaters. I actually think I ironed more in college.

I also selected the perfect job for my M.O. of being in college for the foreseeable future. We're all the same age, the majority of us still think we can drink as hard as we did in college, and many of us routinely try. This is how our department outing turned into The Night of 28 Bottles of Wine and inspired haiku (yes, just as in college I am still a huge nerd and enthusiastically participate in haiku contests) such as the following, composed as I groggily waited for the Metro the next morning:

Department outing!
So much wine in Joe's Basement...
I don't feel so good.

I mean, when you and your boss start singing the Mory's song [notorious Old Yale drinking song] in a restaurant that is not Mory's [notorious Old Yale drinking establishment], and his boss challenges two other people to a wine chugging contest... it's hard not to think that you're still in a basement on York Street passing around 4-liter jugs of Carlo.

On the other hand, I try. I realize how much I am a work in progress, and I really aspire to become one of those productive, upstanding citizens you're supposed to aspire to be. I go to museums, I bake too much for anyone's good, I go to concerts, I read again. The reading has been a really big deal-- I missed reading for pleasure all through college and I've always harbored anxiety that I'm not especially well-read. So I decided that this is an area for development, and isn't a desire self-improvement a sign of maturity? Or something?

My book selection has been a little haphazard, and my plan to alternate recent work with classics was thrown off course when I lost my copy of Love in the Time of Cholera-- which I inevitably accidentally found tonight. It was on my bookshelf. You might think that this is the stupidest thing you've ever heard, but consider for a moment-- why would I put it on the shelf when I was in the middle of reading it? See, I don't know either.

So Marquez is on siesta until I finish one of New York Times's 100 Notable Books of 2007-- Throw Like a Girl: Stories, by Jean Thompson. The characters are all smart women and girls, several with a wicked steak-- I wonder why it appealed to me. Hmm. Unfortunately their common bond is their links to loser men and boys, so maybe not the best message to send to myself. But I remain optimistic for a Bridget Jones moment--not necessarily the kind of moment when the sassy and deserving heroine ends up with Mark Darcy, but at least the kind of moment when she choses vodka and Chaka Khan.

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