Sunday, August 31, 2014

Registry

It has become de rigueur for couples to insist, on their wedding website, that the best gift invitees can give them is their presence at the wedding and that no material gift is necessary, and then to list one or more stores at which the couple has compiled a list of desirable material gifts.  So of course this is exactly what we will do.

It took us a bit of angst to get here.  We really don't need anything and we really would never want our guests to feel obliged to spend money on us.  We are inviting them because we want them to be present on the day and we want to celebrate with them, and we know that most of them will have to spend money and time to attend in the first place, so it seems almost unfair to suggest that they should spend even more of either resource on a gift.  But I have been informed by a number of people and resources (some of them members of the Wedding Insanity Complex and therefore hardly disinterested) that not registering is actually rude, because then guests not only feel impelled to buy you a gift, but must spend additional energy trying to figure out what you would like.

So, we are registering.  We compiled a list of things to register for, which basically fall into three categories:

1) Things we should probably already have.  For example, a blender or a food processor.  We don't have either, somehow, and we have survived, but it's an inconvenience.  Also, a proper mixing bowl or bowls.  In fact we have one mixing bowl, given to me by a former roommate on the occasion of her marriage (I think it was a wedding gift to her that she didn't want?).  This was in about 2003.  And there were originally three bowls, but only one has survived the five moves since it entered my possession, and while it is nice enough, it is not what I would have picked out for myself, and why at the age of almost 35 am I using a mixing bowl that was a graduate student's castoff?
 
2) Things we have, but that we should have better (or matching) of.  Both of us have long been in the habit of acquiring 2 or 4 of things, which means we have 6 or 8 of most things, but not 6 or 8 matching things.  Fortunately we have not-too-dissimilar and fairly simple tastes; it isn't really that weird to serve Thanksgiving on two white plates and four blue ones with wine glasses of two different sizes, particularly when all parties are impressed that the turkey didn't explode and that the hosts have actually managed to rustle up six chairs.  But it would be good to have six identical plates, and cups, and wineglasses, and forks, and so on.  This presents the problem of what we will do with our bachelor and bachelorette dishes, which there are not room for in our big-for-NYC-but-not-actually-big kitchen, and some of which we are attached to (I am particularly fond of some bowls given to me a decade ago by possibly the same marrying friend, and my intended loves his discontinued cereal bowls; there are two of each so maybe we can just agree to be a household of mismatched bowls).  

Also in this category: towels.  When we moved in together a year ago we decided to store our towels separately.  This was not a completely insane decision because we have separate bathrooms, so there's no real reason our towels need to match.  But it doesn't really make sense to maintain two towel repositories indefinitely, although I can't actually think what efficiency is derived from combining them.  I have the vague sense, however, that being married will entail becoming more integrated over time, and towels seem like a harmless way to start that.  Anyway, both of our towel situations are moderately bleak, so maybe marriage is a time to scrap them all and start over.

In fact, most of our stuff is in this category: pots and pans, steak knives, sheets.  We have survived for many years with the stuff we have, purchased at Walmart and Canadian Walmart and gifted by friends and parents when they moved or married, but at some point we should give it all to Goodwill and commit to an actual kitchen of our own.

3) Things that seem like they will be fun to have.  I have convinced my intended that we should register for salt and pepper grinders, even though neither of us likes pepper and we don't know where to buy the rocks for the salt grinder.  But, so cool.  Also, we registered for a casserole, on the assumption that sometime in our marriage one of us will learn to cook.  There are some other things we think would be great to have (a bread maker, a griddle) but that we wouldn't use all that much and aren't practical to store.

So, today we started the process.  I say "started the process" because, after two hours of wandering around Crate and Barrel with our Registry Gun, it seems that - and this will surprise nobody who has ever met me, or him, or any other human being who manages to remain single past the age of thirty - getting two people to agree on how they want their kitchen table to look, even if they are very devoted to each other, is completely impossible.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Colors

There are a lot of decisions to make when planning a wedding.  Like, a lot.  That's probably the thing I understood least before starting.  And the decisions are of all sizes, from the truly monumental (should you get married at all?  to whom?) to the fairly big (should you invite friends and family to witness your ceremony and attend a reception afterwards, or get married on your own at City Hall?) to the medium-small (what should you do about food? music? a rehearsal dinner?) to the truly trivial (centerpieces, flowers, and everything to do with clothing).

Of course - and this is probably obvious to anyone who has ever been in any kind of proximity to a wedding - the importance of all these decisions is not only exaggerated by the Wedding Girlification Industry, the relative importance of each decision is completely blown askew from anything a reasonable person might believe.  I was actually asked, when I purchased my dress - which is a reasonably-priced (on the scale of wedding dresses, which means that it is possible but not likely that I may someday own another garment as expensive), fairly traditional, thoroughly innocuous selection - if I was certain it was The One.  Yes, really.  Now, to the extent that I believe in a The One, I believe my fiance is it, but nobody has asked me if I was really one hundred percent certain about him.  Because he's just the man I'm marrying; there's no reason I need to be certain of him.  A few yards of organza and lace, on the other hand - that's what's really important to get right about my wedding.

Other elements of my wedding that have been blown way out of proportion have included - so far, and keep in mind we're still months and months out from the actual day - the photographer (which I think is actually a semi-important decision, in that we certainly want to have one, but you would not believe the amount of time I have spent looking at pictures of strangers' weddings on the internet in an attempt to determine which set of photos-not-of-my-wedding best represents how I want my wedding to look in photos); the save-the-dates (you would think, if you had never planned a wedding, that there would not be many conversations you could have about a postcard.  You would be wrong.); and - most recently - colors.

Of course, I knew wedding colors were a thing.  But I figured they weren't particularly important for us, since we're not having a wedding party (the bridesmaids' dresses being typically the main sample of the wedding colors), and our venue has some pretty spectacular natural decorations, which means our flowers and centerpieces and whatever other aesthetic bits are mandatory for a wedding but about which I've forgotten will be pretty minimal.  I figured when we got around to planning this stuff - in the distant future, when important stuff like food and the ceremony itself are nailed down - we'd see what sort of decorations - flowers, table linens, centerpiece-y stuff - were available, and pick a couple colors which look good together and are easy to get.

Of course I was wrong.  We've been having very preliminary conversations with florists, and apparently it isn't even possible to get an idea of what is available without specifying two or three colors.  I have tried asking what is typically in season in May, what looks good together, and what most brides do (all of which is an invitation for them to present me some very expensive ideas as a starting point, so you'd think they'd love it) but mostly I get reactions of shock and horror.  Apparently, in order to make a deep and lifelong commitment to my significant other, I need to also have deep-commitment-level feelings about a couple of very particular wavelengths of visible light.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Act Two ... Three? Four?

When we last left left our heroine - that's me! - she was poised on the brink of a transition, and emphatically ambivalent about it.  Having met a man whom she could not find any problems with, and who - for some reason probably having to do with an ill-advised vow to laugh at all of his jokes for the remainder of their relationship (yes, he reminds of that at least once a week) - had tolerated her company for the past two years, she was about to move in with him, and she was worried.  What if she became boring and settled?  What if she didn't like having another person around all the time?  What if - horror of horrors - she had to learn to cook?

Now it is sixteen months later, and none of my worst fears have come to pass.  We chose to devote our rental budget to size rather than amenities, which means we have enough space to close a door between us when one of us wants solitude or quiet.  We learned to spend time in the same room without talking, and we got used to talking every day.  And - while I have lately taken to mixing spiralized zucchini with angel hair - I have not, so far, learned to cook.

Also, I am getting married.

This will come as no surprise to most of the remaining readers of this blog, who consist of approximately two people with whom I am friends in real life and who have already heard the news.  But it - still, months after the bestowal of a pretty topaz, well into the photographers-and-florists stage of wedding planning - surprises me.  I found him!  My lobster!  My other shoe!  The elusive Prince Pocket Protector!  And - this will come as absolutely no surprise to anyone except me - he was exactly where, and who, everyone expected all along.  It turns out that the guy for me is not a stoner, criminal, or dropout; he does not live in Australia or Siberia; he has never been married and has no scandalous backstory; he is not cruel or inconsiderate or distasteful in a way that can only be excused by vast depths of perfection imperceptible to everyone but me.  No, he is exactly whom everyone who has ever met me would expect: a mild-mannered ex-physicist, taciturn but funny, dependable and highly intelligent, with a large reservoir of patience and, at this moment, a book about machine learning on his nightstand.

So, that's actually pretty awesome.  I mean, it is awesome in a sarcastic way that my mother and everyone else was right and that all that time I spent looking under metaphorical dating-world rocks and dating the metaphorical slugs I found there in the hopes that one of them would magically metamorphose into PPP was more or less wasted, except that maybe I got some good blog posts out of it.  But also, it is actually really awesome to find someone you're excited about seeing every morning and night for the next - hopefully - fifty years.  You people probably mostly already know that.

Anyway, after that long preamble - which as always, takes up the entire blog post - I will explain why I am (possibly) back: like I said before, I am getting married.  Now, getting married is a very serious thing to do, and most of the issues it raises are too personal to be aired here.  But I am not just getting married, I am having a wedding.  More to the point, I am planning a wedding.  A planning a wedding is... well, it's a lot.  It's exciting and a lot of fun, but it's also occasionally emotional or stressful.  And it's definitely hilarious.  

So - assuming anybody's stuck around this long, and assuming I stick around to write more posts - my little Thesis Blog, which I started eight years ago to chronicle the writing of my thesis and has since then recorded - with varying intensity - the earning of my PhD, new cities and three new jobs, one thousand dates and a handful of relationships, two marathons, and any number of sarcastic remarks, is now, for a few months, going to be a wedding-planning blog.  

Amazingly, the ceiling did not fall in when I typed that.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Is this thing on?

I'm back.  You're gone, dear reader - any readers I still had when I last posted 18 months ago - but I'm back.  I realized, just today, that I needed this outlet again, at least at this moment.  Something has happened, something good but something that threatens pretty much everything about who I am, and I don't know where to turn.  So I'm turning where I have, historically, always turned in my moments of confusion: to semi-anonymous writings on the internet, the comfort of an empty room where I can shout as loud as I want.  If you're out there, go easy on me.  It's been a while and I'm probably rusty.

What happened to me - what had already started to happen when I stopped posting here - is that I met someone.  A man.  I met him almost two years ago, on - of course - the internet, and we started dating, and we haven't stopped.  This man - I'll call him B for the purposes of this post - turns out to be perfect for me.  He's smart and funny and calm and kind, and I love him more than I thought I could love someone I hadn't invented myself.  Being adults in our thirties, we're both wary of commitment, but after two years of Wednesday and Saturday nights we've decided to move in together.  This summer.  We started looking at apartments yesterday.

If you're out there, reading this - I am imagining two erstwhile readers in particular, among the most sane people I've ever known (although one of them, I've never actually met), nodding their heads and smiling, because they are happy for me, because they hoped that someday this would happen - you are wondering what the problem is.  I haven't been able to explain what the problem is even halfway convincingly to anyone except B, and while it's great that we understand each other, he's not really the person I want to talk to about it.  The problem isn't anything concrete about him or about our relationship; the problem is all about me.  What it boils down to is - impressive dating resume aside - I had not ever really imagined myself ever finding the elusive One.  When I was very young I thought, vaguely, that this guy or that might sort of morph into being him - or, more precisely, that I might magically morph into the sort of woman who had a - apparently, this is what B says we are becoming - a life partner.  A Life Partner?  Really? Do you people know me?  If not, let me tell you - I am not the kind of girl who has a Life Partner.  I am Comic Relief Girl, Epic Screwup Girl, the Sassy Spinster.  In the movie of my life, I am played by Lizzie Caplan.

So in addition to being excited and happy, I'm confused and alarmed and afraid.  I never expected something like this to happen, not really.  While it seems like something I want - B makes me happy, our relationship is a strong one, and we've talked through pretty much every major issue - what if it isn't?  What if I'm on autopilot?  What if I only think I want to be in a relationship because it's what everyone else wants, what movies and novels teach me to want, what my parents and friends want me to want?  It's not that I'm worried B isn't the guy for me.  I'm worried there is no guy for me.  Maybe I'm someone who is better off alone.  Do you ever see Lizzie Caplan characters trotting off into the sunset with normal, stable, decent guys?  Maybe you do, I couldn't get to the end of Bachelorette because it annoyed me so much, but I can't imagine it.  I worry that if it happened, her character would stop being wise-cracking and weird and start being someone who knew how to crochet, which seems to be what happens to women when they meet men they can count on.  Am I going to magically going to learn to crochet if I move in with B?  Is it, like, a requirement?

Yes, I'm being silly.  But actually I have significant worries - worries that start to sound silly as soon as I type them - on these sorts of mundane lines.  Like, will I have to start eating proper meals with meat in them instead of yogurt and breakfast cereal?  Will I have to eat them at a table, on a plate, instead of on the couch while reading a book?  And what about these books - will I be able, when I am near the end of one, or 100 pages from the end of one, and it is almost bedtime, to stay up late to finish?  Or will I have to go to bed at a normal hour like a proper adult?  Which is what this all boils down to: the realization that, to some extent, moving in with B will force me to become an adult.  Of course he's not a dictator and I'm sure I'll stay up late reading plenty of nights, probably while eating popcorn for dinner on the sofa, but also probably living together will shift my default.  I'll actually have a dining room table, for the first time ever.  And a bedroom, for the first time in years.  Maybe it shouldn't be that settling down with another person pushes along the transition to sensible adulthood, but maybe I am one of those people for whom it is.  And maybe if that happens it isn't such a bad thing?

But still.  I don't want to be... nailed down.  Not in the sense of "I want to have date around" or even in the sense of "I want to move to Paris".  One benefit of my extended bachelorettehood was that I did date around, and I did move to Paris, if only for a month.  While there are still plenty of things I want to do, I've done a lot; of the obviously exciting, you-have-to-be-single stuff, I've done - at least, almost - enough.  

It's not about what I want to do, it's about who I want to be, and as always I don't know.  In my mid-twenties, I felt that my single status made me an outcast, not because of the actual lack of a man, but because it made me confusing.  When I had a boyfriend, people could see who I was: me-and-this-one, me-and-that-one.  It seemed to me like people could make sense of a couple, they could measure each partner against the other and size them up, but a person alone - she could be anyone.  She could be anyone.  Later on, my understanding of this shifted.  It was not that being in a couple helped other people understand your intrinsic self.  Being in a couple made you the person you were going to be.  Before you met the person who would be your mate, you were just a bunch of aspirations and confusions floating around.  After, you were crystallized, decided.  Immobile.  That was who you were, and while you could be shattered you could no longer flow.  

This understanding scares me.  I don't want to be frozen.  While I like who I am now, it's a recent development.  I haven't been this person for terribly long, and I'm not sure I want to be her forever.  In fact, I'm pretty sure I don't.  She's cool and all, but is she really me?  Is this look going to work in twenty years?  In two?  What if I want to change my metaphorical hair color, or scrap the whole thing - the city, the job, the hobbies - and start from scratch?  B is, of course, supportive and understanding, but still, with him in tow - with anyone in tow - the possibilities are limited.  We might move, I might change jobs.  But still, people will look at me and see me-and-B, me-and-B, me-and-B.  They will finally know me.  Who I am now is the person I will, it turns out, have been all along.  And maybe that's true, anyway, and maybe my reasonably low level of angst these days has been why this relationship has been able to work.  But, still.  Am I ready to be all figured out?

Friday, November 18, 2011

Nearly eighteen months after leaving academia, I'm still sorting out my feelings about it.  That will sound odd to you, maybe, because didn't I spend years trying to leave?  And wasn't leaving the breakout from nearly a decade of allowing inertia and other people to run my life?  And isn't everything so much better now?

Yes, absolutely, to all of them.  I don't wish I hadn't done it.  But academia is not like a regular job; it's like a relationship.  An abusive, miserable relationship in my case, but still a relationship.  And if you end a decade-long relationship, even if for very good reasons, you're going to experience some fallout.  I know that leaving was the right decision because I didn't experience any of the fallout right away; I was relieved and happy.  Really, I was thrilled.  It was like I'd gotten my life back - except more so, because actually I had gotten my life, period, for the very first time.

But I have flashes.  I talk to friends who are professors and grad students and postdocs.  Many of them are miserable, but still, they talk about their work, their grants, their conferences, and it feels bittersweet.  That life was home for me for so many years, and it's gone.  I helped a friend compose a letter to a professor I know well, asking for a postdoc, and the professor was interested, and the friend got excited, and I felt jealous that I don't have a promising scientific career ahead of me.  And just tonight, I was Facebook surfing and saw a not-really-a-friend's new photos of the dog he and his girlfriend just got, and I was a little bit jealous of the clearly-now-permanent girlfriend because I had a flirtation with the guy that I was more interested in than he was, and then I was a lot more jealous, of the guy, because I saw that he has recently become an assistant professor at a fairly prestigious school.

It's unclear whether I left academia or whether it left me.  There are at least two stories.  The first is that I wanted to get out for years but never had the guts, that my faculty applications were halfhearted and I turned down two semipermanent between-faculty-and-postdoc gigs because I wasn't willing to do what it took to get a permanent position, that everyone I worked with and for thought I would be a great professor one day but I couldn't be bothered.  The second story is that I sweated blood for nine years as a grad student and then a postdoc, that I gave up relationships and hobbies, that I thought about my work day and night, and it wasn't enough.  I applied for every faculty position in any department that resembled my field, even if the school was in Idaho.  I went to interviews where I was treated like dirt and nobody had the courtesy to email me and say they weren't going to hire me.

Usually the truth is between the two sides of the story, but in this case both sides were true.  I was a very good scientist, and I worked very hard, and it wasn't enough to succeed.  Perhaps if I'd been more persistent and less prideful, willing to take another temporary position, I'd have wormed my way into something.  Perhaps if I'd been smarter, if I'd made different choices about advisors, if I'd picked hotter research topics.  Maybe if government funding didn't keep getting cut, or if I could blend in with other scientists by being male.  Whatever it was, it was something I couldn't, or wouldn't do.  Looking at other people's interesting research and prestigious faculty positions and exciting conferences and being jealous is like looking at your ex-boyfriend with his new girlfriend and feeling that way: completely natural, but not a feeling that should necessarily be acted on.  My relationship with academia was messed up, and it needed to end.  Would it have been nice if the relationship could have been healthy and happy and successful? Sure.  But it wasn't, and whether that was because of our fundamental incompatibilities or particular mistakes, the relationship has been ruined.

I'm better off without it.  I haven't found a replacement, exactly.  I like my current job but don't love it the way some people love scientific research or even the way I sometimes loved scientific research.  But I'm a much better and happier person now.  My life has opened up in ways I never would have thought possible even two years ago.  I feel younger and freer; my days match better with how I imagine myself.  And best of all, I feel a sense of agency.  If I don't like something - my work, my apartment, my city, my hobbies, my friends - I have the ability to improve it.  It's easy to scoff at that, say that everyone controls their lives, but for years I didn't.  I ceded control of everything to the dysfunctional relationship that was my career, and I didn't understand that it was not going to voluntarily return my agency to me.

I'm still a work in progress, of course.  I haven't found my One True Career, and I don't know if I ever will.  I'm prone to occasional bitterness, as tonight, about the way my past career ended.  I feel jaded, used up, and a way behind.  Other people much younger than me have progressed much further in my current line of work.  But I don't think I came away from it empty-handed, and when I do find my True Career Love, I'll be a better worker because of what I learned from my first, horrible, marriage to academia.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

another training post: on relinquishing goals

Training has officially gotten rough, and I think I'm now at the point where I can expect to feel tired, sore, even slightly sick as often as not until the marathon is over.  Tuesday I made my first attempt at a run since Saturday's 16-miler - I believe I wrote about how short, slow, and unpleasant that was - and it left me feeling tired the whole day.  I postponed Wednesday's run to the evening, and by midafternoon I was feeling reasonably good. 
 
Last night's run went very well, in part because it was done an easy treadmill.  I ran seven miles, and although I cramped a bit around mile three, I slowed down briefly and then felt fine.  I took a break at 4.5 miles because the treadmills only let you run for 59 minutes so I'd need to take one at some point, and then I ran the last 2.5 miles faster.  The last mile of the run I felt extremely strong and fast (although I happened to be running next to a mirror, and I did not *look* very fast).  The worst part of the run was coming home to an exceptionally painful shower and difficulty sleeping due to friction burns.
 
I'm not sure if I'll run again before Saturday.  I could run tonight, although I would prefer to do yoga, and I dread aggravating my skin further.  I could run tomorrow morning, but my long run is Saturday.  I feel like it's kind of pathetic to not be getting in at least 3 weekday runs, though.
 
The biggest obstacle I'm having in my training this time around is my own expectations.  The first time I trained for a marathon, four years ago, I'd never done anything like it, and as long as I was able - somehow - to get through my longs runs, I felt like I was on track.  I was slow, but many of the other runners - and the only other marathoner - I knew were slow.  It was hard, but I was mostly just surprised that I could do it at all.
 
I'm much stronger now.  It's easy to forget that.  But my long runs involve more hills and much less walking.  I haven't been timing myself, and I didn't time myself last time, so I don't know if I'm faster.  But one of the most vivid memories I have of that training cycle was sitting down on the side of the road and crying twelve miles into my first fifteen-miler because I was so tired and in so much pain and had so far still to go - and I've now passed the fifteen-mile mark in this year's training with no such episode, so I'm at least mentally tougher.
 
But I keep comparing myself to other people, or to how I would like to be.  I read all these running blogs, written by people who are much stronger and faster than I am.  These people eat twenty miles for breakfast on Saturday and then run five miles on Sunday to "recover", and they don't seem to suffer from sore, weak, or tired legs in the days after their long run, or the inability to sleep through the night without waking up to eat, or anything else unpleasant.
 
Of course this comparison is unhelpful (except insofar as I can learn from their experiences).  I'm not running to be as fast and strong as other people, or even as fast and strong as an arbitrary measure of how I "should" be.  I don't know what I'm capable of at this time and on this course, since I haven't run a marathon recently or here.  And I'm not advanced enough as a marathoner to reasonably set a goal on this race, other than to run strong, do my best, and not let the race beat me.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

I learn so much, sometimes, from reading my own blogs and journals and poems.  Or rather, I learn two things: how much I've changed, and how much I've stayed the same.

In so many ways, I've stayed the same.  For something like fifteen years - basically, the entirety of my reflective writing life - I've had the same doubts and worries and insecurities, the same moodiness, the same gallows humor.  Some of my closest and most challenging relationships have endured for a decade or longer.  Even the central issue of my twenties - whether and how to continue in academia - while resolved, still informs a large part of who I am and the decisions I make.

But in other ways, I've changed.  Reading my writing from five and ten years ago, seeing how agitated and terror-stricken I was, is almost painful.  Of course this is an unfair sampling - this spring marks roughly the fifth and tenth anniversaries of my graduation from college and my completion of grad school, and many people find such transitions overwhelming.  Three years ago, when I was moving to New York, I was almost equally overwhelmed (although in a more beaten-down way).

Still, I feel a lot more equilibrium these days (yes, really, the last year or so is what passes for calmness with me).  Somehow in the last few years I've grown into myself more.  I wouldn't say that I have a better handle on my life, exactly - I still couldn't say, with any kind of definiteness, what I want to be doing or where I want to be doing it, in ten or even five years - but I do have a better handle on myself.  Ten years ago, I didn't really know who I was, or even who there was to be.  Five years ago, I knew who I was, but everything in my experience suggested that I was aberrantly deficient in every way that mattered.  Now, I have more sense of what my strengths are and how to deal with my weaknesses, and I'm comfortable enough with the whole package not to focus (most of the time) on why I'm not exactly like what I imagine the median person must be.

The bigger evolution,has not been in how I see myself, but in how I see my life.  For so long, I viewed my life as something that happened to me, a set of tests that I could pass or fail, with each performance dictating the next leg of the path.  I rarely thought of it in terms of my own choices.  Circumstance and the people around me and my own lack of gumption kept me from really making most of the major decisions about my life in my early twenties, and it was a habit that became more and more ingrained even as I struggled to shed it.  

But that has been, really, the story of the last few years - somehow, after I had resigned myself to it never happen, I took control of my own life.  I took up hobbies nobody had ever imagined for me.  I made unlikely friends.  I traveled to places I never really thought I'd see.  I escaped what had begun to feel like a life sentence in a modestly comfortable cage (that would be academia).  And now, after almost three years here, I find myself with a totally different life than I'd ever allowed myself to imagine.  A life full of evenings with friends and excursions to the theater and international travel, with a good but stressful job and a tiny, overheated apartment, the kind of adult life I would have imagined hopefully at the age of twelve and probably never afterwards.  It is a life I really, really enjoy.

Five years ago, dreading leaving the town that I hated and that had become home, I wrote that I loved travel because it was so anonymous.  On a bus or a plane or a train, nobody knew anything about me.  They didn't know me as the grad student with tons of papers and no job offers, or the disappointing daughter, or the weird ex-roommate.  I was just a girl reading a book or drinking a coffee.  And that's how I've felt in New York, as well. Nobody knows me here; all the friends I could make in a lifetime are a vanishingly small fraction of the people I see in one commute to work.  To all the people around me, I'm just a girl with a kindle.  I could be smart or stupid, disappointing or exemplary, weird or normal.

I could be anyone at all.  Even, somehow, after all this time, myself.