June 11th, 2011

Party Like A Rock Star!

First, this odd question: is it normal for one's urine to smell like coffee? No, don't ask. It was that kind of night! A much-needed respite from the doldrums that have largely made up my summer thus far.
A little catch-up. Still plugging away at this seemingly endless research paper. I finally submitted the latest revision for review by my advisor, and I'm not sure when he will respond. I hope not for a good while.
I took yet another trip to Charlotte over Memorial Day, and spent a nice weekend chatting with my cousin kind of like old times. We even listened to some baseball on his satellite, which I thought was cool.
Reading: What You Owe Me, by Bebe Moore Campbell, was great! It starts with an African American woman recounting her and her father's struggles with being reimbursed for a business and stolen land respectively. Only it quickly becomes apparent that she is telling this story from the "other side". Lots of twists and turns within this 21 hours of audio, ultimately rising to a rather satisfying climax. There were a lot of little stories in there, and I felt that Campbell did a reasonable job at closing the story off in a way that didn't feel too rush, all things considered.
Now onto the fun! One of my classmates, an incredibly nice Iranian woman, decided that she missed having us around. So, she opted to have a little gathering at her house. She'd issued Facebook invites almost a week ago, and a few of us indicated that we'd be interested in going out there. Someone even determined that she could pick me up with relative ease, so I said yeah, what the hey!
Friday rolled in, sunny but not as hot as the previous two days had been. I spent a lot of it outside with the computer in the shade. One can only take being cooped up for so long. I mostly performed some administrative tasks as kids scampered by me on the steps leading up to the laundromat. I always wonder what they think of me.
My ride showed up at approximately 6:15, the time she'd indicated she would arrive. She'd already picked up another individual who was also going with us. We then drove to someone else's apartment, the person who would take us to the host's house. While I waited for this person to finish preparing for departure, I sat on a comfortable couch and was greeted, and greeted, and greeted by a big, fluffy lab mix. Aww! She kept coming to lick and sniff me.
We hit the road, armed with trusty GPS. Traffic thickened as we left Chapel Hill headed for Durham, but fortunately the snarl didn't last too entirely long. We just made small talk as we prodded along. They kind of gave me an idea what to expect, but, well, I was still thoroughly amazed.
Our host lived in a very nice neighborhood located in Cary, an affluent suburb of Raleigh. The house itself was jawdropping. There were two huge sitting rooms, a couple dining rooms, and a spacious kitchen. And that was all I saw. I think the upper floor was quite sizable as well. On entering, I was seated in a barstool that was so high my feet couldn't even touch the floor.
And the food? Oh the food! I got things started with some chips and salsa and a glass of sweet tea as a couple others trickled in. We met two women who'd known our host for quite a long time, which was interesting. I think the main thing they wanted to know was what inspires someone to go into the psychological professions? We eventually came to the conclusion that everyone struggles with something, and that giving and receiving therapy should thus be in higher demand going forward. It has gotten to a point, thankfully, that people are less ashamed to ask for assistance in dealing with life's challenges.
Our host was clearly a professional at this party-throwing stuff. After making myself numb on consuming a Heiniken relatively quickly, I had a giant chicken shiskabob with several vegetables on it, some rice, and noodles flavored with all kinds of stuff. I topped that off with a glass of coke. "Man, I can't recall the last time I ate like this!" I said between mouthfuls.
I spent a lot of time talking to the woman who'd come to pick me up initially, which I enjoyed given that I hadn't really gotten to know her. I thanked all of them for continuing to make me feel welcome and a part of things socially. With regards to my hearing: well it was pretty much the same as always. I could hear one-on-one conversations fairly well, but talk that bounced all over the table or attempts to speak to me either on my right side or from a good distance were a bit rougher. Some figured out that establishing a tactile connection might help me a little, an observance I appreciated.
After sucking down that scrumptious meal, we retreated to the couches while dessert was prepared. All of us were trying not to nod off by this point. Chatter continued to reverberate around that spacious area, and I just couldn't stop marveling at it all. I can't really say I've ever been to anything quite on that level.
Having made enough room for it somewhere in there, I had tiramisu cake and a cup of coffee. And why am I up at nearly 2 in the morning? Well... Even that was incredibly good stuff. The coffee seemed of a higher quality than I've ever consumed, a fact noted by someone else as well.
Not a whole lot after that, other than a lot of laughs and congeniality. As we readied to go, I was persuaded to take one of their restaurant-style boxes laden with another chicken shiskabob and more rice. I also got two nice-sized cookies. We then giggled our way through a few pictures, which I think they will post on Facebook at some point. Hugs were passed around, and out the door we went.
The rains had just let up, meaning that everything was still dripping wet. I gather that a good-sized storm had rumbled through, but I'd remained blissfully unaware during my time in, as someone put it, the Persian pallace. Oh, I forgot to note that the fireplace was made of marble, and there was apparently antique furniture that should probably not be touched. Wow! We'd left at about 11:30, and I was back in my place roughly an hour later.
I had a blast there. I'd like to thank the host for allowing us to come over like that, and for treating us to such goodness! I'd also like to thank the kind folks who gave me a lift to that event. I hope it is the official beginning to what will be a spectacular summer.