Saturday, October 01, 2005

How to be unwittingly infamous

There was a gathering of graduate students at a bar one evening, due in great part to free pizza and beer, courtesy of the Graduate Student Association. Damn nice of them, I thought. Anyway, there we all were, about sixty or seventy of us, shmoozing amongst one another as grad students who don't know each other but are drinking beer and eating pizza tend to do. Many of the grad students there were fourth, fifth, and even sixth years, so they were seasoned veterans of these gatherings and introduced themselves and everyone else around. I had arrived with Jane, Reuben (a friend of Jane's who happens to be in the clinical psychology department), and Adam, an IPED grad student who lives in our building (IPED students, by the way, do international politics and economics stuff). Once we arrived, Jane and I got beer and pizza, then wiggled around to get through the crowd while Jane chatted with people as we passed them. I ran into Miraj, the kid who's also into qualitative research, and we talked for a bit.

Shortly afterward, one guy I recognized from the philosophy department (Jane had pointed him out to me earlier) sauntered up to us and joined the conversation. Naturally, the discussion led to philosophy, and I mentioned my odd little brand on psychology. Then the philosophy guy, who's name was Jared, gives me a weird look. "Oh," he says, "you're that girl. Hey, Greg, come over here!" At that point, I became frozen in my best impression of the RCA dog, my head cocked to the side in foggy bewilderment. Someone who I can only guess was Greg came over. Jared elbowed him in the arm and pointed at me. "This it that girl... the new grad student in psychology who came from Dallas." Our latest addition looked at me for a second, thinking it over. "Oh, yeah," Greg suddenly chimed in. "Phenomenology, right? That's great, man! We've been hearing about you... good to meet you, finally. So, you gonna fix those other psychology folks or what?" If I answered, I don't remember what I said, but the conversation progressed very pleasantly, and I now knew two new perfecly great people. (Oddly enough, they both said that they hadn't heard about me from Jane but from somewhere else, which I thought was a little weird.)

About twenty minutes later, Reuben, Jane's psychology friend, walks up and asks how I'm doing. Then he says, "Say, what's this I heard the other day about you lecturing on Heidegger when Dr. Wertz wasn't here? There were some people talking about it in the lounge... Oh, don't worry, they said good things." He threw in that last bit, I'm sure, upon seeing the expression I can only imagine was on my face just then. He went on to say that the folks he talked to seem to feel that I knew my stuff, and that Dr. Wertz must have something to do with my being here. Miraj, who was listening to all of this, just laughed it up. "We're gonna take over, girl!" I couldn't help but clank glasses with him on that one.

Not quite a half hour later, Rosie, who lives upstairs from us with her husband, and is also a grad student in the classics department, sort of staggers toward our group (she blamed her shoes for her lack of equilibrium, but I think we all knew better). She and I had only spoken once before, very briefly, and almost two months ago. She set her hand on my shoulder and pivoted so she was staring me in the face. "What's this I hear about you singing at CBGB on the eleventh? Like, the actual CBGB? Wow, we're gonna come see you!" Again, I hit my RCA dog pose, completely stupified. Sure enough, three more people would come up to me during the night asking about the CBGB thing... apparently, Jane had been spreading the word. Well, done, roomie. I owe you a litter box cleaning or something.

In the midst of all the talking, I think I only managed to drink two beers. Mind you, I wasn't exactly planning on getting tanked at this event, free alcohol notwithstanding. And frankly, I'm not much of a drinker anyway, truth be told. Still, I didn't expect to end up so absorbed in these various conversations, nor did I anticipate that so many people would know these random things about me. By the time Jane and I made our way home, I felt I'd had a sufficiently excellent time. Besides, I had to get up the next morning and teach.

Teaching went fine, no problems to report. The professor I'm TA-ing for seems to like me a great deal, and he's asked me to work with him again next semester. Hey... fine by me. It's a good gig, and I love going down to the Lincoln Center campus. So then, if all goes well, I'll be reassigned to this same position next sememster, and I'll at least know that part of my schedule ahead of time, which is always a nice sort of heads-up to have. Anyway, yes, teaching went well. After that, I stuck around in the city until the evening, when Jane, Josh (Jane's boyfriend), and I were to watch Mirrormask at a movie theater in the lower east side. No luck, of course... it was opening night, and the shows were sold out. The executive decision was made that we'd hit some of the local coffee houses and nearby shops instead, just to brouse around and waste some time, maybe grab a drink if we felt like it. Josh and I continued our ever ongoing debate about whether or not Sartre was Cartesian (and, um, he was), and Jane gave us the run down on a party she just threw for people she's trying to coax into volunteering for work on the upcoming department conferences that she's helping to oversee and plan (at this party, apparently, Jane said one guy was talking about his roommate, who's in choir, and how he'd mentioned there being a grad student in the alto section who could sing, and how strange that there should be a grad student who had time for something like choir). A few hours passed rather quickly, and we found ourselves pretty tired, yet satisfied with our attempt to fill the evening up with random things to do.

Ah, and then there was good news. Tonight, aside from finally getting to see Mirrormask (good movie, by the way, with amazing visual candy), I took both my Ibanez with the broken tuning peg and my Baby Taylor with the popped string over to Guitar Center in Manhattan. The Ibanez will be in the shop for at least a week, but the Baby Taylor was restrung and is now back home, in perfect working order. Maybe now I can spend the rest of my weekend at home, writing and recording and rehearsing on my lovely Baby Taylor. That way, I can perhaps stay indoors long enough to not do something someone later tells me they heard about. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, John's off at a bouncing gig, providing security for members of the Wu Tang Clan at some party in Dallas. Jeese... of all the gigs I had to miss... I may be doing my share of things up here, but it's things like that I'm really starting to wish I could be doing again... and, okay, inevitably hearing people telling me they heard about it.


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