I’m not dead…

I'm not dead yet. Though I feel not so far from it. The last week has been surprisingly exhausting, given that I've supposedly been on vacation. Let's see -- I really last filled you in when I was just leaving Salt Lake, yes? So we have a week to catch up on... I arrived in Chicago on Thursday night, with my paper not yet done. It was due Friday, and I'm afraid I spent most of Friday morning freaking out, working frantically on it, cursing at not having more time. Finally, Kevin convinced me to call Kathryn and ask her if it would be okay if I Fed Ex'd it to her for Monday. I hated doing that; I know I'd be annoyed if it were one of my students. But there was just no way it was going to be finished otherwise -- getting my driver's license had eaten up a whole day (what with travelling various places by public transit) that I had originally planned to spend on the paper, so I was woefully behind. She graciously agreed to let me do it, and so I spent a little more of Friday working on it, and then put it aside, to finish on Saturday. Kevin's parents arrived in town Friday evening; we picked them up at the airport, and then met Todd (mathematician friend) for dinner. It was very good; a Jamaican-type place in Hyde Park that I hadn't eaten at before. Some of my favorite Hyde Park restaurants are gone (I miss Medici on 53rd...), but there are some nice new ones in their place. Jerk tilapia, fried plantains, yumyum. It was really nice seeing his parents again; I like them both a lot. They're smart, interesting people, and perhaps because of their lawyerly training, they're very good at seeing many sides of an argument, making for interesting discussion of almost any topic. I've known them for something like nine years now, and I really just like them more and more each year. I count myself very lucky on that score. :-) Saturday morning, I finished the paper and sent it off. Whew. Saturday afternoon, we went to Home Depot. See, now that Kevin has a tenure-track job at U of I, he's settling down a little bit in Chicago for at least a few years. So he bought a condo, a nice two-bedroom in Greektown, walking distance from the campus. It'll be a little sad not to be visiting him in Hyde Park anymore, since I'm so nostalgic about this place, but he may move back here in a few years. We may. It's all up in the air at the moment, in part because until I finish my degree I just don't know if I'll be able to find an academic job in Chicago. The job market is very tight in academia. So we're just going to have to stay flexible for at least a few more years, and maybe longer (I just finished reading Days and Nights in Calcutta, by Clark Blaise and Bharati Mukherjee -- an excellent book for giving you something of the flavor of a mixed marriage between a white man and an Indian woman. They have two children together, but since they're both academics, they've now ended up many states apart. Bharati teaches at Berkeley, and Clark is director of the writing program at Iowa; they're both excellent jobs, but it means long-distance for a long time. Academics. sigh.) -- I'm generally pretty flexible, but I do prefer to plan things, and have them settled. Ah well. So it's a bit odd doing things for the condo -- we needed to replace the flooring and the counters, for example. I feel a bit caught between a) advising him, because it's really his place, not mine, and b) being aware that I may be living there in a year, or a few years, so it'll be our place... I've been in a strange mood as a result, off and on. But he's being very sweet, and mostly this is just in my own head, that things are strange. We're doing okay. Good, really. It's so nice getting to spend a lot of time together again. We've been spending our days looking at various kinds of flooring (we finally decided on hardwood, red oak) and countertops (still deciding) and furniture. Very domestic. And then in the evenings, dinner with his mom (his dad went back Saturday evening, but his mom stayed for a week), and then resting in front of the tv, or while reading books. Neither one of us has been sleeping all that well, so we've been very tired while tromping around. And I've also spent a fair bit of time cleaning up, because to be honest, he can stand a lot more mess in his home than I can. Although he's better about cleaning bathrooms. I'm almost done cleaning now -- one more load of dishes, and then the kitchen will be fit to cook in again. I haven't really cooked in a week, and it's starting to bug me. He made a huge batch of tamales, and we've been reheating those, but I'm getting a little tired of even very yummy tamales. Tonight, I make curry. All of this was, of course, also interrupted by two days in Las Vegas (that contributed to throwing off my time sense and therefore general exhaustion). It was lovely seeing Alex there; I didn't really gamble (though I did win $7 on slot machines), but I had tons of fun watching him play high stakes poker. I know poker well enough that I could follow everything that was going on, and watching him go from a $200 initial stake to winning that super satellite (a type of mini-tournament, no limit hold 'em) and walking away with $10,000 in tournament chips -- that was just cool. :-) He'll be entering the big tournament next week, the World Series of Poker -- can't wait to see how far he gets. It was also fun learning about some of the big names in poker; Alex would point them out to me, and I actually ended up chatting with Amarillo Slim, one of the poker greats, while he played (and busted out) the Thursday tournament (pot limit hold 'em). There aren't a lot of women at the high-stakes tables, or even hanging out in the room; I don't remember the last time I've had so many guys flirt with me. Fun. :-) They were all very sweet and polite about it too -- I guess you learn to be, when women are scarce. Kind of reminded me of the math grad students at Chicago. :-) Overall, Las Vegas was fun, but at the same time, seemed a very sad place. We walked through all these very glitzy areas; we had a really fabulous brunch at the Paris casino (fresh crepes, blintzes, quiches, etc.) for $10 or so; we saw more glitter than I've ever seen in one place before. But right outside the casinos were pawnshops, they recommended me to play idn poker online inside the casino could find it, and if you leave the fancy shopping areas and actually start watching the people playing the slot machines, you notice how very machine-like they seem. I watched one woman lose, and lose, and lose -- and then hit a big win; she gathered up the coins into her cup, and then started putting them back in again, and you never saw an expression cross her face. The World Series of Poker was being held downtown, at the Horseshoe Casino, which was more of an old-style Western casino, rather than one of the super-glamorous places on the strip. I liked the atmosphere better there, especially in the poker room. It had more of the feel of a friendly neighborhood game (even though there were probably millions of dollars changing hands in that room), and less of the take-the-tourist-for-every-buck atmosphere. I was more comfortable there, at any rate. Anyway, I'm at home today, finishing up on cleaning and starting to go through my backlog of e-mail. Kevin and his mom are making one last run to look at tile counters and bedframes, but I just couldn't bring myself to go out again. I'll do some of that next week. I also plan to spend a lot of time with Roshani and baby Zoe in the next few weeks -- they came by yesterday to see the condo, and then the three of us came back to Hyde Park to hang out for the afternoon. Zoe is six months now, and looks beautiful. I would put up pictures, but Roshani isn't so net-savvy, and is a little paranoid (in my opinion, at any rate) about weirdos seeing the pictures and baby-snatching. Or something like that -- she's not so clear on the subject. So no pictures; you'll just have to trust me that Zoe is absolutely gorgeous. She could be a tv model baby. Roshani's sister calls her Supermodel Baby sometimes -- Roshani then loudly protests that Zoe is going to be a chemist, not a supermodel! We'll see...I'm constantly amazed that Roshani and Tom managed to make a little person, one so full of possibilities. Karen and Par did too. That's so cool! I should be checking in more regularly now, although I'm still at least half on vacation in my own head. :-) Next week I start working on Bodies of Water, reading manuscripts, trying much harder to find a big name. But right now, I'm still goofing off. :-)

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