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Wednesday, Nov. 26, 2003 - 10:52 a.m.

I go on vacation, and the creepos stretch their tentacles towards The Measure. I got multiple hits today for "biggest boobs in town". Mine, incidentally, are not.

I am in Madison, WI, and I think it's some kind of below-freezing shit outside. I do not care, because I got to sleep in and make my own coffee in the slowest coffeemaker in the world. My friendly host, C, is hard at work a few miles away doing strange things to DNA sequences, and that is good because a solitary lull is quite necessary in the middle of a trip. We got back here from Chicago last night.

Rundown of Chicago: yesterday was awesome, and the day before that was not as awesome. But the day before that was awesome. Got it? No? Let's try again:

On Sunday we took a long but sleepy-comfortable bus ride to Chicago. We ate dumb but acceptable food at a downtown pub because we were idiotic with hunger. We then went to C's friends' beautiful house in some part of town somewhere. I am perfectly capable of getting around a strange city, of knowing what's going on and remembering things like the names of neighborhoods, but if someone else is doing it for me, my brain shuts off. Anyway, we watched The Simpsons and snuggled with The Friendliest Dog in Chicago. I knew Guided By Voices was playing that night but I did not care; it was pouring rain and I do not have the new album, nor did I have much money. C and I decided to stay in, eating Thai food and talking to our good solid Chicago hosts. However, I found out shortly before the show began that Tobin Sprout was opening, so we went forth into the rain and the freeze and I saw me some Tobin Sprout. It was reeeal good.

I borrowed C's cell phone to call L from the show, because I wished he were there seeing it too...and I should have anticipated this, but it was a pretty obnoxious phone call from my end: WHAT?!? I CAN'T HEAR YOU. GUESS WHO'S PLAYING? WHAT?!? I CAN'T HEAR YOU. TOBIN SPROUT. I CAN'T HEAR YOU SO I'M JUST GOING TO HANG UP. Maybe this is not funny or newsworthy anymore for the masses of you who own cellular telephones, but it was new to me. I did not like it, not one little bit. I was excited the next night to be able to call L on a full-sized phone with a cord and everything. Conversations feel so much weightier and more satisfying on an old-fashioned phone.

Anyway, the next day we left our hosts' house quickly because Mrs. Host felt the beginnings of a migraine. She really did; I don't think she was just trying to get rid of us. Anyway, we were launched out into the city and spent much time riding the El and walking around a certain university campus and looking at tall buildings. Then I started to get kind of freaked out by the cold. It was snowing a bit earlier, then was just brutally cold and windy. I felt fragile and on edge, and I was almost scared. We continued to walk, the wind sometimes forcing me to bend in half to keep moving. I now believe that being scared of the cold was just an easy outlet for being scared of all the decisions coming up that I've been avoiding, but at the time I just felt miserable. I do not think I was whining, but I think my stream of comments about the weather was quite steady for a few hours.

Anyway, we went to a hotel and met up with C's new girlfriend and her cat; they'd driven to Chicago from Vermont in just two days. O, the girlfriend, is super rad: open, friendly, angst-free...I don't understand people like that, but I am always very impressed by them. We all went to dinner, where I happily and methodically ate the rarest of tuna slabs, and then we went to the top of the Hancock Building and I drank some scotch. Chicago is fucking huge. I have never been to New York or LA; my experiences are with the San Franciscos and Bostons, contained to to a certain area...Chicago just goes on and on.

Nobody in the hotel room slept. I was nervous about the next day, restless and hot, and C and O were trying their hardest to deal with being newly enamored of each other, in the same bed, but with someone else in the room. C and I talked later about the impossible energy in the room: it was just too tense and electric for anyone to get to sleep. The cat picked up on it, too, and did much plaintive meowing of his own.

None of this contributed to my being very on top of things the next morning as I visited the most wonderful department in the universe. It was like a fucking daydream: little Victorian house with whitewashed classroom and intelligent students who offered me tea from a pot they'd just brewed; wonderful professors in bright creaky offices with the wind shaking the whole building; one amazing conversation with someone whose work I absolutely love, someone who could be my dissertation director if I am offered a spot in their program. I do not know if I have even a remote chance, and I am scared for any number of reasons, but it was a good day. The only thing I really messed up was a conversation with the graduate director. She's not in my field, so I hadn't studied her work at all, and I said something really dumb which will probably not make much sense to any of you.

Goodness, this is getting long.

People are friendly in Chicago. I think they are firendly in Madison, too, but I am putting off venturing forth into this city for a few reasons. First, it is cold out there. Second, I have to take a shower in C's strange bathing facility, which involves a bathtub with a sloping ceiling above it, such that one has to sit down in the tub and spray oneself with the snakey shower head. Also, there is no curtain. I expect I will flood the house.

The water in Madison tastes very bad.

I will spend Thanksgiving playing poker and eating too much with a slew of biochemists. It will be fourteen degrees the day after that. On Saturday I will fly home to warmth and L and my cat, and the long scary decision processes will begin because now I have an even larger impetus to leave. I should not think too much about that now. I will think instead about some lunch.

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