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Monday, Jan. 05, 2004 - 9:57 p.m.

Well, shit. I want to begin at the beginning with some real beginning-type words, but other than "Well, shit", I don't know what to say. I don't know which direction to take the chronology from here, and I don't know how much to talk about events and how much to talk about things I thought.

Um, don't you wish novels started like this? Also newspaper articles? Perhaps legal documents? Genesis?

So, today being Monday, many of the rest of you are back at work. I am not. I return Thursday to South Carolina, and next Monday I will report to headquarters, concoct a syllabus, make many copies of such things as worksheets, and prepare myself to actually teach something to somebody again. I didn't feel ready until today, but I'm glad I really stopped thinking about work for a few weeks here.

Today I was grumpy for the first time all break, so I read all of A Room With A View, went for a long walk, and sawed mesquite logs into pieces small enough to fit in my suitcase. I made a cheese souffle with my mom. I made my dad grumpy by making him watch "The Daily Show".

Books I have read since the last update: Home Cooking and More Home Cooking. A Room With A View. Angels and Demons.

New Year's Eve was spent in Albuquerque with Russell, who is all grown up and living right with an amazing new house and roommate and friends who are all older than me and who also rock. He and I drove seven hours through the desert to get there, for the first time ever not fighting about musical choices.

What we listened to: Tom Petty. Warren G. The Shins. The Minutemen. Eazy-E. Camp-Lo. CCR. Blondie. The Glands. The Modern Lovers. Gangstarr.

We ate at the Dairy Queen in Hatch, New Mexico, one of the best places on Earth: they have a regular DQ menu, PLUS a New Mexican menu. You can get, as I did, a grilled cheese sandwich packed with fresh, hot, hot green chile. And the cheese is actually melted. Then you cry the rest of the way to Albuquerque.

I speak lightly of crying in conjunction with New Mexican food, but this is for real: when I am in SC, I miss New Mexican food more than just about anything else about the West. There is no way to get it out there and no way to duplicate it. So you can imagine my depression at the Frontier's being CLOSED for the two days I was in Burque. I managed to stuff in one perfect burrito and some fresh-squeezed orange juice before we rolled out of town. It will not be enough to sustain me through the months ahead.

On New Year's Eve I got overly drunk and gushed about various things: my hostess's beautifully sculpted arms, for one, Albuquerque for another. It was Night O' Coincidences, as another of Russell's friends had a sister visiting from South Carolina. It turned out we'd grown up in neighboring parts of Denver metro area. We processed the state of SC before I got too drunk, and it was actually very important. She had insights for me and I for her.

What we discussed: Nobody wears black in SC. People tend to collect lots of acquaintances rather than a few close friends. People have a hard time being close in general, whether physically or emotionally; people are friendly to strangers but never get as close to other people in the end. We both feel like the Weird Girl walking down the street even though neither of us dresses particularly oddly. Neither of us has very close friends down there besides our boyfriends. We both have plans to get out before too long.

So that was important. Russell and I talked to his wonderful friends and played charades and had an all-around solid New Year's celebration. I slammed two glasses of wine for no good reason right before we left, and Russell drove me and his roommate home, where I drank more. This was my undoing, this 3 AM drinking. I had an atrocious hangover the next day -- maybe the worst I've ever had. Yes, definitely the worst I've ever had. I felt like ass and was unable to eat until 8 PM on New Year's Day. Russell and I got in a smallish fight about me being the older sister, and we didn't do much of anything throughout the day until 4, when we played some Frisbee with his goddess-like roommate. The day was saved by Bettina, whom I saw for the first time in over TWO YEARS. We both had hangovers and were thus low-key but very, very happy. And she finally met my brother. We all snickered through School of Rock. I had tea with Bettina and her dad. We walked in the park behind her house. And it felt mighty right.

I think I'll have to make a second installment tomorrow. I apologize for the lack of linkiness today. Don't forget the brand-new guestbook. And look forward to next week!

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