April 12th, 2011

I Scream!

Today has been one full of unexpected twists and turns, pretty much from the moment my feet hit the floor. No worries though: everything that happened was either funny or finger-lickin' good!
We started the day by capitulating to wakefulness, after managing perhaps, and not likely, 3 hours of sleep. Listening to NPR and reading more of A Thousand Splendid Suns continued until shortly before 7, at which time logistics indicated that there would be barely enough time to drag body and mind into the shower, get dressed, and lop down a giant bowl of frosted flakes before tottering off to the bus.
I boarded, took my usual sideways-facing front seat, and whipped out the netbook to hop online for a bit. Hey, I had to do something to keep myself occupied and thus avoid drifting off and sailing into the great beyond Franklin Street.
Grogginess accompanied me into class, as I stumbled down the stairs and into the building, narrowly managing to keep myself on course long enough to miss an unwanted collision with the massive pillars that stand in the middle of that hallway. Once inside, I sat and listened as a guest speaker drone on and on about qualitative research, coding, memos, and goodness knows what else. He'd only provided his materials in print though, so when they had group exercises I was largely unable to participate. This has been a rare occurrence this semester, one in which accessibility to all needed material has been drastically improved. So I sat feeling upset that I'd somehow neglected to bring my then much-needed bag of starburst jellybeans with me.
Just as my head got two inches from the table: "deet, deet, deet". "Hmmm, that's unusual" the speaker said. It turns out that the fire alarm chose that moment to go off. Into the halls we gushed, and until that moment I hadn't been aware of just how many people are inside of that building at once. I was obviously vastly relieved for the temporary distraction. We sat out there for approximately ten minutes, during which someone I'd met who is in the Physical Therapy program came over to speak to me for a bit.
Even with that stoppage and the other break that came later, that class still seemed incrreeddiibbllyy sslloooowwww. I don't know, it probably had more to do with the density of what was being covered, and my near ineptitude in understanding any of it.
Once we were finally, mercifully released, I headed outside where I remained from 12 PM until nearly 5:45. First, I studied some for Thursday's class while sitting under the awning near the Health Sciences Library until the rain stopped. Then I charged into the scorching sun, where I took up my usual position along the wall near Bondurant Hall until a friend of mine, who is from Lebanon, came over and took me to benches that were getting even more sun. She's very nice: we've already had lunch a couple of times and she wants to do it again this Friday. I think she also wants to go shopping or something like it one weekend. I'm not entirely sure why she started talking to me, but it's rare and nice to encounter individuals who are really interested in taking time to get to know me.
I have to say, again, that this year's class of people in my program are doing wonderfully at making me feel a part of things. As I sat and waited, they came up from their last class of the day saying that they were going to walk over to the area Ben and Jerry's for free cone day. I'm not a huge fan of cones generally, but I can enjoy them. Also, I know a good social opportunity when I see one. I do suppose this is progress though, as too often in the past I'd have said "no" then kicked myself about doing so for the rest of the day.
Anyway, so I paired up with someone and we were off. It was a good walk, especially since I rarely stretch my muscles like I should anymore. We talked and joked about silly professors and other things that were going on in the program. As we neared the store, it became apparent that the line to enter was going to be quite long. There were already people spilling onto the sidewalk. "Are we still going to do it?" I asked. "Oh yeah!" someone replied: "we've come too far to quit."
As the line crawled forward, and not more than 2 minutes after we spoke of how nice and sunny it had been, it began dripping. "As long as the skies don't open up, I'll be alright," I said. I joked that my head was big enough to keep the hearing aids dry, and the woman with whom I was walking replied "why don't you just let your hair grow out for the rest of the month of April, so that it covers them up. You know, April showers bring May flowers." Well we've certainly had enough of those lately. And those showers did indeed get rather heavy for a little while causing many, including the person with whom I was paired, to take out their trusty umbrellas. Ah, how silly we must have looked, and especially when there was a fairly cheap and nearly unoccupied ice cream shop right nearby. But in this society where everything is quickly starting to cost too much, free is the word!
Closing in on the entrance, they began suggesting flavors that I might try. We figured that the workers in there would probably be agitated already, and so it would be best if I could decide long before I arrived at the counter. There was Chunky Monkey, an odd assortment of bananas, vanilla ice cream, walnuts, and something else I think but can't remember. They also had a new flavor called Late Night Snack, which was composed of ice cream and your choice of chocolate-covered potato chips or waffle pieces. There were the standards as well, such as chocolate chip cookie dough. I'd had that kind on a trip to Carowinds, Charlotte's amusement park, and so hearing the name brought back good memories.
There was some sort of jumbo ice cream called the Vermonster, which consisted of 18 scoops and a ridiculous amount of toppings. I think they said that if you could eat all of that in one sitting, you would win a T-shirt and have your name displayed. "I think I'd never want ice cream again after that!" I said. Yikes.
I ultimately settled for the Chunky Monkey, and I didn't regret it. It tasted great, but then the stuff started running down the cone and making my hand all sticky. Never fear though, I always have an emergency stash of napkins. Once we were all done getting deliciously messy, a couple of them walked me to the bus stop and waited until I'd gotten on before leaving.
I needed an unusual day like this, I think. My life has been so routine that it felt good to not quite know what was happening. Hopefully this is a good signifyer to how my summer will go, but of course that remains to be see.