Thursday, June 29, 2006

Ten Things

That happened to me on the first day of my house-hunting trip in the South:

1. I met a chinese landlord named "He-man"
2. I learned that "Buena Vista" is pronounced "Byoona vista,"
3. And that Tortoiseshell cats are very rare here
4. And that Gelato is sold here
5. A lovely old lady informed me that Ernie Shore, who "played for the White Sox or the Red Sox or some such team up north" (It was the Red Sox) once lived here.
6. A younger woman hit on me
7. I noticed that Southerners immediately made a point of remembering my name and addressing me by it. It was nice.
8. I bumped into Maya Angelou on the street. (Ha, I wish! But I'm keeping my eyes out for her)
9. I found out that my host (a senior colleague) is also an INFJ
10. I may have found an apartment (I'm still not sure so I haven't signed anything just yet). A gorgeous one, in a Queen Anne style house, with high ceilings, hardwood floors, porch, deck, leaded glass windows, working fireplace, and central air. Yay!

Monday, June 26, 2006

Feeling a Bit Overwhelmed

Poliphilo enters the wood in a dream, Hypnerotomachia Poliphili, 1499

I'm starting this new job in September. It's at a place I'm calling Per Una Selva Oscura University. Because that's how I feel, right now. New job, (first job actually), new house, new car, new location. And they just sent me this huge folder of stuff: forms to fill out, plans to consider, information to send. It was all very prettily arranged and on top was a checklist for new faculty, for which I am very grateful. But I still feel a bit Dante-esque right now.

And now I need to get a replacement social security card because I need one to start my new job and apparently I may have had one at one time, but all I can remember is my mother telling me to memorize my number, and never having or seeing an actual card. I think perhaps I believed that no one actually had a social security card. We just have these numbers that are figuratively tattooed on our memories. At least that's what I thought. But no, I need to obtain a replacement card because I once had a card, even though I thought it was an imaginary card. So now I need to go to the US consulate with my passport and hope that it doesn't take 10 business days, or that they won't be mailing my passport to the closest social security card center, which is in Burlington, Vermont. I'm fairly sure my passport is not supposed to go out of the country without me. I'm fairly sure, at least, that my work permit is not permitted to leave the country without me.

There are also all of these decisions to make: small, lovable credit union or huge national bank with great deals for professors? To life insure, or not to life insure? University and State retirement plan, or TIAA-Cref (which I like to refer to as "treble clef" because I don't know what the hell those letters stand for anyway)? High dental plan or low? High vision plan or low? Verizon, Cingular, or grassroots cell phone company? Rent or buy? Civic or Impresa? Why are the only choices yuppie A or yuppie B? And all those forms. I thought registering as a postdoc in Montreal and taking the train from Philadelphia to New York for a Canadian work permit was a pain in the ass. But now I have to do it all again, and more.

Oh well, at least I have a "New Faculty Check-List." And a prettily organized folder, which also has a map of campus. And a list of phone numbers in human resources. Thank god for all that. I will be ok because Everything I Need is here in this folder. I am feeling less overwhelmed already. Thank you, Selva Oscura. I think I love you.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The Wetting

It was a beautiful wetting.

The bride's four-year old half brother apparently thought that everyone was going to get wet, and was very excited. He confused "wedding" with "wetting." But the funny thing was that of course we all did get wet, very wet. There were streams of tears, and we sweated buckets in the un-air conditioned 87-degree heat. And because we did a fair amount of work, which is an understatement. At one point someone said the bridesmaids should have unionized. No one disagreed.

The city where I grew up has either four or five lakes, supposedly four real lakes and one honorary one. I spent the first 17 years of my life here, so I've always taken the lakes for granted. But driving around with the others who had never been here and were excited by the trees and lakes, I suddenly noticed how much we were surrounded by water and how beautiful it was. Everywhere we drove, we chanced upon another lake. The Friday before the wedding, the groom and groomsmen went to a water park and spent the day sliding through waterslides and crashing around in inner tubes.

The night before the wedding we sat with the bride on a small beach, looking out at the lake, talking softly. The bride waded into the lake, and afterwards we wrapped her in a towel and our arms. Then we danced silly dances in the sand, laughing uncontrollably and not caring who saw us.

The day after the wedding, I ended up sitting on the grass by a lake, a much smaller one with a lagoon I used to skate on in the winter, basking in the evening sunlight and chatting with two of the other bridesmaids who I am happy to now call my friends.

Maybe wetting was the right word.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

C'est la saison des marriages!

I have just returned from a trip to "god's country, Midwest US" for the first wedding of the season. I'm taking a much needed week away from family and wedding frenzy, chilling out in cold and rainy Montreal. In 5 days, I will return to "god's country, Midwest US" for Wedding Number Two. There are also two other weddings that I wanted to attend, but at this point, given that my apartment hunt has been postponed and I haven't yet contracted movers for August, unless I figure out how to telekinetically transport myself I will have to miss them.

Which is okay. I enjoy weddings, and I enjoy sharing in my close friends' joy. But I've only been to one wedding and already I need to recharge. This one was in eastern Minnesota, on a bright sunny day (85 in the shade), in a little clearing near a forest, next to an historic hunting lodge and inn. There were about 70 people in attendance. It was pretty and simple, and the bride, my friend of nearly 20 years, and probably the most beautiful person any of us will ever know, looked luminous and statuesque, like one of her father's paintings. Which is a funny thing to say since almost all of them are larger than life and of her. It was very sweet and moving in an open, down-to-earth and understated way.

Wedding Number Two will be an entirely different affair. This is for my oldest and best friend from home. We've known each other for as long as we can remember and are always telling everyone "This is my good friend X, whom I've known since I was two." It's kind of a shared epithet. X is a theatre director and doctoral student, who has traveled all over the world studying circus and political theatre. We grew up singing, dancing, acting, and performing music together. She's marrying an ethnomusicologist, also from our hometown ("god's country, Midwest US"), but they met in New York where they live. Apparently we were all in a music theory class together in high school but I only vaguely remember it. The ethnomusicologist remembers everything precisely, including a verbal fugue I wrote about a salad and the fact that his future fiancee cut class all the time. X claims not to remember a thing.

This will be a much bigger wedding than Wedding Number One. I am one of six bridesmaids, probably the most international entourage of any bride getting married in "god's country, Midwest US," with people from both coasts of North America, as well as the Midwest, Montreal, and Paris. I think there will be about 150 to 175 people in attendance. The events start the Friday before the wedding, and end the following Monday.

And, miracle of miracles, the bridesmaid dresses are actually gorgeous and made of dupioni silk and it will be possible to wear them again. Mine is two-tone silk in basil green and magenta. Mostly basil green, though. It comes with a removable obi sash in magenta and leaf green. It's very pretty, even though my tailor tsked and said "Too tight in hips, too big in chest!" I can't help that I am pear-shaped. Still, she's an amazing tailor and she managed to make it fit perfectly. I've never been a bridesmaid before. I think I really lucked out this time. And the ban on gold shoes has been lifted! After searching for a month for green or magenta shoes and coming up empty-handed, it got to the point that whenever I closed my eyes, I would see an army of green shoes marching menacingly towards me. I was beginning to fear that this search would ruin shoe-shopping for me forever. Thankfully, we are now allowed to wear gold sandals. The minute I heard the news, I found a pair of strappy 3 inch heels and am now all set. My shoe fetish has not been quashed.

And after Wedding Number Two, I will head South to begin House Hunt Number One (and hopefully the only House Hunt expedition needed). I'm looking for an apartment or house in a neighborhood known as "The Historic West End." Which is supposed to be full of old Queen Anne style houses, wealthy liberals, and professors. Sounds okay to me. It's the South, after all.