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Saturday, Jan. 24, 2004 - 12:04 p.m.

I went to a rock and roll show last night, and it felt right. Every time I start to convince myself Iím a full-on recluse, I realize that I like not just close friends but also the sort of casual friends I have in the local music scene. I see them every few weeks, maybe once a month. We yell in each otherís ears a bit, smile through the din, and our bond is reforged. It doesnít take much.

The show was a CD release party; L and I split the cost of the EP. If we ever break up, I told him, weíre going to have to haggle over a bunch of CDs by local bands Ė thatís all we collectively own, but we own quite a few. We bargained for a while: you can have the latest Mandible if I get the Sasquatch compÖbut were unable to agree on who should get the lone album by the now-defunct Little Pools of Brightness, so we decided not to break up.

On a related but more serious note, Iíd been sitting for two days on very good but scary news, and I finally talked to L about it. While nothingís official yet, my director here told me Thursday that certain people in a certain PhD program told him they want me to come there. Itís in Chicago, this school. So I announced that, let it hang for a few minutes, then finally launched The Discussion; that is, what are we going to do in June or August? And we actually talked about it and made some tentative plans Ė he wouldnít move right away, but would maybe come later. I canít even describe how monumental this conversation was. L just does not talk about the future, or about our relationship. But we did, and Iím happy. I can make whatever choice I want about schools or jobs, get out of here, and nothing else has to be decided yet. Itís so unscary now. We will be lonely when I leave, and everything will be different and lots of things about it will suck. However, thereís no impending breakup, but no giant letís-move-in-together decision, either. I feel eight million times better.

So, otherwise Iíve been reading books again, walking to and from school in the below-freezing weather, cooking, and stressing out about my class. I read two books by Anthony Bourdain, neither of them beautifully written but both compelling and intelligently put together. Iíve never been so able to ignore phrases like ďLike Hunt and Liddy, these were two guys who never should have metĒ (especially when that phrase is repeated in reference to another duo, one hundred pages later). Bourdain manages to be likeable and smart anyway. Now I want to go to Vietnam, eat brains, and learn to chop better.

I made enchilada sauce last night from scratch, pulling dried red chiles off my ristra and soaking them, then pureeing them, making a roux, and simmering the goo with garlic, oregano, vinegar, sugar, and salt. I made New Mexican enchiladas, the kind that are stacked up, not rolled, using only corn tortillas, white cheese, and onions. I made beans, using the perfect Anasazi variety from Dove Creek. I ate and was very happy.

Iím starting Elizabeth Davidís An Omelette and a Glass of Wine. I stopped in this week to see an old linguistics mentor, now retired, and she berated me for not working on any academic projects right now, so Iím reading a new book about proper names, trying to figure out how silly a silly idea I have might be. And Iím reading freshman writing; itís really good so far this semester.

A message left on my machine today is simply two verses from Warren Gís ĎRegulateí. I have only one suspect. You DONíT want to step to this.

The windows are open and my feet are bare because of the weird-ass SC weather that went from 24 to 65 in a mere few hours. This has woken Ronnie from her two-week hibernation by the heater, and she is running laps around the apartment, flying from the top of the couch to the windowsill to the coffee table, chattering and yowling. Yeah, itís like that here.

I will eat gingerbread, drink tea, and read.

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